Friday, August 26, 2005

#6961 - Not Tonight

Steve Trachsel just gave up a hit with two out in the sixth - exactly one more batter than Pedro went hitless on last night - to keep the most unfortunate streak in baseball alive.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

So Bye, Bye, Miss America

The management of Boardwalk Hall has granted the Miss America organization its request to go elsewhere with their little pageant, which is now going to be held in January rather than September, and now somewhere other than its home since 1920 - Atlantic City, New Jersey. This sets the stage for new corporate benefactor CMT to move the pageant to Nashville, which is the most likely scenario. (And we were worried about Disney moving the whole shebang to Orlando.)

There was a time when Atlantic City pretty much just had Miss America as a source of local pride - that, and the distinction of lending its street names to the Monopoly board. But now, at a time when Atlantic City has become something much more, with its myriad shopping and entertainment options, the city is just going to let Miss America go away quietly.

And perhaps, after all, it's just as well. Bert Parks, and much of what Miss America stood for at one time, have been dead for years. There was a time where being Miss America really meant something, and many of those ladies became huge celebrities in their own right. Names like Bess Myerson, Lee Meriwether, Mary Ann Mobley and Susan Powell became household words. And Vanessa Williams became a huge star in spite of being Miss America - a disgraced Miss America who had previously posed nude for photographs which were published in a national magazine.

While the Miss America organization runs a robust scholarship program and fosters awareness of many worthy causes through its platform program, it's not the stepping stone to stardom it was years ago. Can you name any of the last 10 Miss Americas? Do you even know who Miss America is right now? Unless you have a very personal connection to one of them, you probably can't.

But you probably know who won every "Survivor" since it began.

#6960: Pedro Flirts With The No-No Again

But not as long as he did in LA a few weekends ago. He took it into the sixth inning before giving up a clean hit down the first base line. And then another one.

Howie Rose: if you come across this, you can see exactly how many games the Mets have played at left. Your guess of six thousand, nine hundred sixty something was pretty darn close.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Michael Brecker..., and has been, a very talented saxophone player (who was at one time - the 1984-1985 season - sax soloist in the Saturday Night Live Band). However, at minimum, Michael Brecker is a human being, subject to illnesses, and right now he's facing a doozy of one - a bone marrow disease that inhibits his ability to produce blood cells. He is in search of a donor. I want you to go to and go to the link on the front page that says "Michael's Current Challenge". There you will find a letter from his wife discussing the specific illness that Michael has and the steps you can take to see if you are the match that can save his life. Thank you.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

More Puzzles In More Places

Check the sidebar often... you never know when new puzzles will pop up there.

Also, Games Magazine and Kappa Publishing, for whom I've authored some puzzles, have beefed up their online presence.

Kappa Puzzles
Games Magazine

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Baseball Closer To Home

Last night, the Toms River American Little League team came up short in their effort to gain another World Series berth. Toms River, of course, is most noteworthy for its 1998 team that won the World Championship. (The town is blessed with among other things exceptionally good youth baseball camps.)

While I'm disappointed that the team is going no further, I'm proud of our town's young athletes, and it's also a source of personal pride because two of those young men were in my instrumental music classes at North Dover Elementary and one used to live right down the street from me. We'll get 'em next time!

Monday, August 15, 2005

6951: No Hitter, Minus Five Batters

Pedro Martinez took a no hitter into the eighth inning and was rewarded with a loss. When I was in the shower this afternoon before the game began, it was almost an affirmation: "Pedro is going to pitch a no-hitter today." On my way to the gig in Little Egg Harbor today, I kept hoping that today was indeed going to be the day. But alas....

Like I said, it's gotta happen. You just can't go all this time without one.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The "Journey" Continues

Nancy Mackey has released the second volume of "Melissa's Journey", the adaptation of the New Jersey core curriculum standards to meet the needs of profoundly disabled individuals in a home school environment. Go to for more details.

News Blues: Life After Jennings

ABC backhandedly spotlighted what is increasingly wrong with television news by showcasing what was so right about it for two hours of primetime last evening.

ABC blew out its irresponsible "Brat Camp" show (two kids have gotten back into trouble since the taping - don't you know by now that TV doesn't solve problems?) for a commercial-free tribute to Peter Jennings, the ABC anchor and reporter who died over the weekend.

There was much footage of Peter all over the world reporting, finding facts, satisfying his (and our) curiosity about issues as far ranging as the existence of Jesus and why Daddy beats his kid for not performing on the baseball field. Great historical footage, too, of Jennings' first foray into network news, anchoring the ABC evening news way back in 1965, when his competition was three guys named Huntley, Brinkley and Cronkite. One wonders how the mature, field-savvy Jennings would have stood up to those three icons. (Eventually, David Brinkley joined ABC and teamed up with Jennings on election night and other occasions.)

At the anchor desk, Jennings excelled in knowing when to add to the story with words, and when to shut up, during live special reports. But thankfully, Jennings spent as much time away from the anchor desk as he did at it.

The tribute showed clearly that as long as TV is obsessed with constant cross-promotion and getting high ratings, there can never be another Jennings (a point echoed by the likes of Lynn Sherr, Barbara Walters and others) and you might as well hire a fluffy newsreader away from Fox News Channel who's never even had a passport but can tell you more than you need to know about Jacko. It was almost like watching a funeral for TV News the way it was in the days of integrity.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I Wanted Her To Be A Hilton

I saw the finale on Tuesday night of "I Want To Be A Hilton" and was absolutely rooting for Jackaay Watt, the landscape yard worker affectionately known as "Trailer Park Barbie". However, it was not to be as Jaret Cellmer of Texas was awarded the prizes, trips, luxury.

Jaret's speech at the end was not the most polished thing I'd ever heard, while I was happy to see both finalists cleaned up real nice. But if I ever need a ton of gravel for my yard, Jackaay will be the first person I call.

Now, about Kathy Hilton. What a magnificent presence on this show! I find it hard to believe she has two real flighty girls as daughters. It also bears mentioning that Kathy Hilton was the non-actress of the three Richards sisters. You may have heard of her sisters Kim and Kyle, both of whom were very popular as teens (Kim was best known as McLean Stevenson's daughter on "Hello, Larry").

LA Times Puzzle

Here is today's LA Times puzzle! Enjoy!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

#6944: Four Is Still Not Zero

In spite of a brilliant performance by Jae Seo today and a win to go with it, the Mets are still holding on to that distinction that in 44 major league seasons, no pitcher wearing the team's uniform has thrown a no hitter.

C'mon, Mets. Sometime before I die.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Ladies And Gentlemen, The Incomparable Labamba

For the last four days of July, I was a devoted attendee of Toms River Fest. (In spite of my employment with the Toms River Regional Schools, I could not volunteer this year due to the care our foster child requires. I was content to attend in that case.)

I was excited to see Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes and seeing them brought back good memories of seeing them 20 years ago at some concert, I don't remember where (maybe it was at the Pony, perhaps the old Tradewinds). Bob Bandiera always used to hang around Y-107 because he would routinely record at the studio down the street, so it was great to see him again.

And this guy? Best damn bar band trombone player in the world, Richard "Labamba" Rosenberg, known to all as the goofball in the purple suit on the Conan O'Brien show (and one of the few things worth watching about the show), and leading the horn section into battle on a Sunday afternoon just west of Gernerd Field on the campus of Toms River High School North. (Photo by me. Do not take.)

Auspicious Anniversary

My crossword-creating career, such as it has been, officially kicked off one year ago today with a submission to Games Magazine entitled "Signals". I was going to post the puzzle, but I can now see that it is a subpar effort no editor would touch.

It did have some colorful words such as WIEZ (which was Pauly Shore's old MTV nickname), KUMAR (as in "Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle"), and NANTZ (which is the sportscaster Jim, which was actually misspelled once in a Liz Gorski puzzle in a Simon & Schuster edition). But for those words there were some real clunkers!

Egyptian ferryboat patron - AKEN
Its capital is Taillin - ESTOVER
Classical guitarist Asaad - ODAIR
Folksinger Cargill - ACIE
Acct's concern - TCO

That's four fairly obscure words and a meaningless abbreviation in a puzzle that should really be no more than Wednesday difficulty.

I have since created about seventy puzzles, mostly 15x15, with a few 17's and a 23 thrown in for good measure. Editors have accepted seven of my puzzles so far: three for Games, two for LA Times Syndicate, and one each in USA Today and The New York Times. That's only a .100 batting average, but I'm still learning and still honing my skills.

Robair has created significantly more puzzles but has yet to make a sale, in spite of a very innovative puzzle sitting on Will Shortz' desk right now that... no, I won't spoil that just yet. You'll hear of it soon enough when it happens. Meantime, watch soon for some news of coming attractions (as I alluded to this morning).

Site News And Notes

  • We'd like to thank some of our longtime correspondents for checking in with us, asking about the whereabouts of some areas of the site. Specifically, a shout out to Lew Del Gatto, now formerly of the Saturday Night Live Band, hanging it up after 30 years (more or less) with the show, and to toonatics Greg Method and Charles Brubaker, adding a couple elusive Blue Racer credits to our 70's DePatie-Freleng filmography.
  • We are most likely going to be taking down our Trading Spaces pages for good, due to a sudden downturn in interest in the program, not only on our part, but on the public's.
  • The New Jersey Transit and Public Service Bus pages are going to be going back up sometime in the fall due to their historical significance.
  • Watch soon for an announcement of a new joint effort between two of the three Mackey Brothers. If you've been following my recent exploits, you're sure to enjoy it.
  • On a somewhat related note, Rich Norris has informed me that my latest LA Times Crossword puzzle will be appearing one week from today, next Tuesday, August 9, 2005. Look for it in your local rag. (Incidentally, the name "Lila Cherry", under which I was credited, is a pseudonym for Norris, which anagrams into "Really Rich". Hopefully, Mr. Norris will be crediting me properly this time.)