Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Curmudgeon in the Wry 332

Tuesday, September 26, 2006---571 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 47 seconds (time frittered away)
Offending readers one issue at a time since 2001.
Almost completely free of original ideas.
Often wrong…but never in doubt.
+++++++
Rave: Kim Novak
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Currently reading: “The Hostage” by W.E.B. Griffin.
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On the Victrola: “The Hawk in Paris” by Coleman Hawkins. (1956)
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Quote: “Football is violence punctuated by committee meetings.”---George Will.
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Rave: I really enjoyed the second episode of “Studio 60 on Sunset Strip.” I know where I will be Mondays at 10 PM until college basketball gets back on the tube.
Shame on me for missing the pilot!
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Rant: It is a sad commentary on the times when “Jackass #2” is #1 at the box office. Louis B. Meyer is turning in his grave.
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Rant: Another Hollywood remake gets flushed as “All the King’s Men” opens at #7 with a meager $3.8 million take.
When will Hollywood learn the value of an original idea? If you remake it, it must have added value…it must be better than the original.
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Speaking of remakes: Coming soon to theater near you is the 2006 version of “Twelve Angry Men.”
There are not twelve actors in Hollywood today as good as the least talented of the original twelve jurors!
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Hmmmm: This year’s MTV Video Music Awards show ratings were down by 28%!
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Idle thought: Why is it that, when teams predict how soon an injured football player will return, estimates range from two to four, or four to six weeks? You almost never hear of a guy coming back in three to five weeks. Why is that?
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Quote: “Just because you mumble, doesn’t mean you are Marlon Brando.”---Otto Penzler.
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Rave: Diana Krall’s “From This Moment On” salutes the timeless standards.From the Gershwins to Johnny Mercer---Jobim to Irving Berlin---Cole Porter to Rodgers and Hart, the selections in this collection are flawless.She makes the songs her own with her stylish simplicity, sophistication, elegance and grace.Ms. Krall’s élan and confidence give the songs a freshness that makes you feel that you are hearing them for the first time.In fact, “From This Moment On” by Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer’s “Day In, Day Out” and “Exactly Like You” by McHugh and Fields sound like they were written especially for her.Never did I think anyone could co-own (or even sublet) “Come Dance With Me” from Frank Sinatra, but Diana Krall does something extra-special with it.A compilation of “whoop dee doo” songs performed in a polished and refined manner.It is quite possible that Diana Krall is the Ella Fitzgerald of our day.
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Pop quiz: Did you realize that eight of the 12 Major League Soccer teams participate in the playoffs? No need to answer if you didn't even know there was an MLS.
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Rant: The PC book says that we can’t just profile spinach. We have to pull all vegetables off the shelves
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Quote: “The daily point spreads printed in most newspapers testify to the ubiquity of gambling, and, vociferously as the N.F.L. and the N.C.A.A. oppose gambling, they also owe a great deal of their popularity to it.”---James Surowiecki in The New Yorker Magazine.
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

"From This Moment On" by Diana Krall

Diana Krall’s “From This Moment On” salutes the timeless standards.

From the Gershwins to Johnny Mercer---Jobim to Irving Berlin---Cole Porter to Rodgers and Hart, the selections in this collection are flawless.

She makes the songs her own with her stylish simplicity, sophistication, elegance and grace.

Ms. Krall’s élan and confidence give the songs a freshness that makes you feel that you are hearing them for the first time.

In fact, “From This Moment On” by Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer’s “Day In, Day Out” and “Exactly Like You” by McHugh and Fields sound like they were written especially for her.

Never did I think anyone could co-own (or even sublet) “Come Dance With Me” from Frank Sinatra, but Diana Krall does something extra-special with it.

A compilation of “whoop dee doo” songs performed in a polished and refined manner.

It is quite possible that Diana Krall is the Ella Fitzgerald of our day.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Curmudgeon in the Wry 330

Thursday, September 14, 2006---751 Words---Average reading time: 2-minutes, 27 seconds (time frittered away)
Offending readers one issue at a time since 2001.
Almost completely free of original ideas.
Often wrong…but never in doubt.
+++++++
Rave: Robert Ryan.
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Currently reading: “Protocol for a Kidnapping” by Ross Thomas. (1971)
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On the Victrola: Coral Gables High Class of ‘56/Mellow 50’s Memories, a Chuck Thagard collection.
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Rave: The Nike TV spot featuring U.S. Open champion Maria Sharapova and the “I Feel Pretty” soundtrack is just spectacular. Extremely creative advertising!
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More US Open: The 1984 US Open semi-finals between John McEnroe and Pat Cash was the last time wooden rackets were used by both contestants in a major professional tournament.
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Rave: In the preface to Tom Callahan’s, “Johnny U---The Life and Times of John Unitas,” Unitas and Sonny Jurgensen are reminiscing about the NFL of the 1950’s and 1960’s. “I think you almost had to know all of us to know any of us,” was Johnny’s summation of those who played the game in those glory years.
And, that is how Mr. Callahan spools out this superb biography…with stories told by team mates from high school, college and the pros; coaches he played for and against; opponents who could not help but admire him; football front office types; sports writers, friends and family.
As with many who are emblematic of a time, place, and culture, the total (book) is greater than the sum of its parts.
In those days the game belonged to the players---the quarterbacks called the plays and truly were field generals. They did not need a consortium of coaches acting as consultants to tell them what to do.
Back then, the game had both character and characters (face it, not even Hollywood could make up an Alex Hawkins or Joe Nameth).
Mr. Callahan brings these wonderful characters to life utilizing their convergence with Johnny U as the palette to paint the story of #19.
How many stories elicited an out loud “wow!” from me I cannot count. There are stories that made me laugh so long my side hurt. There are stories that brought a grin, stories that put a lump in my throat and those that brought tears (often, those ironic tears of joy).
Throughout the book, I could see the twinkle in Johnny U’s eyes that he was so famous for…that is how expressively the book is written.
In fact, it reads like a novel, flowing from story to story at a comfortable pace…with the occasional two-minute-drill acceleration.
Not only was Unitas a great quarterback and teammate, he was a steadfast friend, devoted father and reliable husband. His influence on football, Baltimore and those around him is immeasurable.
As the narrative says, when Johnny U died, big Jim Parker cried and said, “It was the first time that I wasn’t there to protect him.”
“ ‘When she (his wife) told me John was dead, I couldn’t say anything. I just sat down,’ said Gino Marchetti. He’d have cried if he wasn’t Gino Marchetti.”
I am grateful that Tom Callahan gave me a chance to remember those times I can never forget.
Moreover, you do not have to be a refugee from the “Diner Guys” era to appreciate this one. It stands on its own as a paean to a legend in black high tops.
Read this book!
+++++++
Problem solved: Katie could end her newscast with: “I’m not really a journalist. I just play one on TV.”
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Lastly: Enough of this Katie Couric nonsense. She reads the news. She doesn't make the news. She doesn't analyze the news. She doesn't comment on it. She reads it. This is a major cultural event? Wow.
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Sorry, can’t resist another shot: From all the clips I have seen on the cable networks and photos, it appears that Katie Couric and Tammy Faye Bakker share the same eye make-up person.
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Rave: In thirteen seasons with the Baltimore Colts, Raymond Berry caught 631 passes for 9,275 yards and 68 touchdowns---and fumbled exactly one time. Pretty amazing!
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Rave: Twelve players and three coaches from 1958 NFL Championship Game (Colts 23-Giants 17 in the first overtime) have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
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Pop quiz: Quickly now---name fifteen players from last year’s Super Bowl.
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Modern Times by Bob Dylan

I have no idea where Bob Dylan will rank in the Top Ten list of pop culture icons of the past fifty years…but I am confident he will make the short list. Singer, songwriter, poet, rebel (remember the 1965 Newport Folk Festival), innovator are just a few of the descriptions one could ascribe to Mr. Dylan.

It seems like the old days (only better) with the release of “Modern Times”---a Dylan release again is an event. Once more, no matter how many times you play it---ODing on it is not an option.

What I do not comprehend is how an album by a music icon that debuts at Number One (currently atop the Amazon.com as well) has only one format taking ownership.

According to my friend Mike Lyons, the erudite editor of the well researched and thoughtful column “The Forest” at triplearadio.com there are only two terrestrial stations airing the record in the Sunshine State.


Nationwide, only the TripleA format is claiming this incredible album as their own.

Good for the TripleA format!

In our current youth obsessed culture, when an album by a 65-year-old white guy begins its life cycle at the top of the pops, it is not merely members of the AARP voting with their wallets in the ballot box of the marketplace.

“Because something is happening hereBut you don't know what it isDo you, Mister Jones?”

Were I a radio programmer in any format other than oldies, big band, jazz or classical, I would do my damnest to find at least one track to sublet from the TripleA format.

As usual, his lyrics have meaning…the musicianship is top notch…and there is a wide choice of tempo available.

In addition, how many listeners out there have not heard of Bob Dylan? Those that may have missed the memo due to extreme youth have the Apple iPod TV spot and XM Satellite to bring them up to date.

Admittedly, I have always believed that shorter records make longer play lists…but, never can I remember hearing so many five-plus-minute songs that “feel” like they clock in at a tidy 2:39.

If I had to find a negative….it would be the lack of lyrics included.

“You don't need a weather manTo know which way the wind blows”

Friday, September 08, 2006

Curmudgeon in the Wry 329

Friday, September 08, 2006---769 Words---Average reading time: 2-minutes, 27 seconds (time frittered away)
Offending readers one issue at a time since 2001.
Almost completely free of original ideas.
Often wrong…but never in doubt.
+++++++
Rave:
Adolphe Menjou
+++++++
Currently reading: “The Procane Chronicle” by Ross Thomas (1971)
+++++++
On the Victrola: Bob Dylan’s “Modern Times”---easy to hear why this one debuted at #1. Just !@#$%&* wonderful!!!
+++++++
Rave: If you purchase and donate a pound of coffee to the troops at Starbucks, your drink is free. Gets my vote!
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Rave: Turner Classic Movies’ tribute to Glenn Ford on Sunday (9/10) will show a half dozen Glenn Ford films including a great Western with Randolph Scott (The Desperados”).
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Rave: Andre Agassi's swan song at the U.S. Open was magnificent theater, and his Thursday night match against 21-year-old Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus was as good as any sporting event I've seen in a long time.
+++++++
Rant: Judging from the clips I have seen on the Imus in the Morning show, it appears to me that Katie Couric cornered the market on Botox before her debut on CBS.
+++++++
Rave: The Bob Dylan
“Modern Times” iPod television spot is quite a treat.
+++++++
Guilty Pleasure: The “Beat the Press” segment on the Tucker Carlson Show…especially when he nails Nancy Grace. Of course, she is so hideous----and such an easy and obvious target, it is like shooting fish in a barrel. To his credit, he does not skewer her every day….though well he could.
+++++++
Rave: Major Sean Drummond is a nonconformist, cynical and self-deprecating JAG lawyer…a wonderful character with wit, charm, smarts.
Before JAG, he was a member of super secret covert “outfit” in the US intelligence community.
In Brian Haig’s “Secret Sanction” Drummond is assigned to what appears to be a straightforward case. Someone has committed a massacre of 35 Serbian troops who were led by a brutal, sadistic warlord.
The army brass fears this will get attention on a par with Vietnam’s My Lai massacre.
Once in Tuzla Air Base in Bosnia-Herzegovina, what appears to be a giant cover-up/conspiracy greets Drummond and his legal team.
NSA, CIA, Green Berets, Drummond’s mentor (two star general Clapper) and on up to the Commander-in-Chief are possible members of the whitewash.
The pace is fast, the dialogue electric, the characters real and fully fleshed out. It is muscular legal thriller…perhaps John Grisham in army fatigues.
Each clue unearthed leads to another seeming dead end…but Drummond is relentless in finding out what really took place.
The journey to the dénouement is a breathtaking voyage and the ending will take you by surprise.
A winner on many levels!
+++++++
Rave: The AMC special
"Bond Girls Are Forever" was just great. 007 is as recognizable a pop culture icon as there is and the Bond Girls were a major part of the experience.
It is hard to imagine that it was 44 years ago that Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder first stepped out the gleaming Bahamian waters in that wonderful bikini with her conch shells. She and Honor Blackman remain my favorite Bond Girls.
And, there has only been one true James Bond----and that is Sean, Sean Connery.
+++++++
Rant: Shouting into your cell phone is unnecessary. It’s a TELEphone, not a MEGAphone.
+++++++
Rave: Every time I see a
Steve McQueen movie, not only do I marvel at what a great actor he was, but that he the classic scene stealer. And, he did it in such subtle ways.
Jackie Gleason, Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Yul Brenner, Faye Dunaway, Richard Attenborough and a host of others, all had their pockets picked by McQueen’s shrewdness.
And, the movies were always the better for it!
+++++++
Truism: You don’t have to be older to dislike hip hop. However, minimal intelligence, taste and self-respect are prerequisites.
+++++++
Rant: Katie Couric had all that time to get ready and still couldn’t figure out how to say good night.
+++++++
Hmmmm: The great irony of the U.S. loss to Greece in the World Basketball Tournament is that the American players put on a dunking exhibition before the game, while at the other end of the gym the Greek players were shooting free throws.
Then the U.S. team shot 59 percent from the free-throw line.
+++++++
Truism II: Mark Twain thought polygamists were being rather selfish until he saw their wives. Then he realized they were doing mankind a favor.
+++++++
If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.
Thunder on.

Curmudgeon in the Wry 329

Friday, September 08, 2006---769 Words---Average reading time: 2-minutes, 27 seconds (time frittered away)
Offending readers one issue at a time since 2001.
Almost completely free of original ideas.
Often wrong…but never in doubt.
+++++++
Rave:
Adolphe Menjou
+++++++
Currently reading: “The Procane Chronicle” by Ross Thomas (1971)
+++++++
On the Victrola: Bob Dylan’s “Modern Times”---easy to hear why this one debuted at #1. Just !@#$%&* wonderful!!!
+++++++
Rave: If you purchase and donate a pound of coffee to the troops at Starbucks, your drink is free. Gets my vote!
+++++++
Rave: Turner Classic Movies’ tribute to Glenn Ford on Sunday (9/10) will show a half dozen Glenn Ford films including a great Western with Randolph Scott (The Desperados”).
+++++++
Rave: Andre Agassi's swan song at the U.S. Open was magnificent theater, and his Thursday night match against 21-year-old Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus was as good as any sporting event I've seen in a long time.
+++++++
Rant: Judging from the clips I have seen on the Imus in the Morning show, it appears to me that Katie Couric cornered the market on Botox before her debut on CBS.
+++++++
Rave: The Bob Dylan
“Modern Times” iPod television spot is quite a treat.
+++++++
Guilty Pleasure: The “Beat the Press” segment on the Tucker Carlson Show…especially when he nails Nancy Grace. Of course, she is so hideous----and such an easy and obvious target, it is like shooting fish in a barrel. To his credit, he does not skewer her every day….though well he could.
+++++++
Rave: Major Sean Drummond is a nonconformist, cynical and self-deprecating JAG lawyer…a wonderful character with wit, charm, smarts.
Before JAG, he was a member of super secret covert “outfit” in the US intelligence community.
In Brian Haig’s “Secret Sanction” Drummond is assigned to what appears to be a straightforward case. Someone has committed a massacre of 35 Serbian troops who were led by a brutal, sadistic warlord.
The army brass fears this will get attention on a par with Vietnam’s My Lai massacre.
Once in Tuzla Air Base in Bosnia-Herzegovina, what appears to be a giant cover-up/conspiracy greets Drummond and his legal team.
NSA, CIA, Green Berets, Drummond’s mentor (two star general Clapper) and on up to the Commander-in-Chief are possible members of the whitewash.
The pace is fast, the dialogue electric, the characters real and fully fleshed out. It is muscular legal thriller…perhaps John Grisham in army fatigues.
Each clue unearthed leads to another seeming dead end…but Drummond is relentless in finding out what really took place.
The journey to the dénouement is a breathtaking voyage and the ending will take you by surprise.
A winner on many levels!
+++++++
Rave: The AMC special
"Bond Girls Are Forever" was just great. 007 is as recognizable a pop culture icon as there is and the Bond Girls were a major part of the experience.
It is hard to imagine that it was 44 years ago that Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder first stepped out the gleaming Bahamian waters in that wonderful bikini with her conch shells. She and Honor Blackman remain my favorite Bond Girls.
And, there has only been one true James Bond----and that is Sean, Sean Connery.
+++++++
Rant: Shouting into your cell phone is unnecessary. It’s a TELEphone, not a MEGAphone.
+++++++
Rave: Every time I see a
Steve McQueen movie, not only do I marvel at what a great actor he was, but that he the classic scene stealer. And, he did it in such subtle ways.
Jackie Gleason, Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Yul Brenner, Faye Dunaway, Richard Attenborough and a host of others, all had their pockets picked by McQueen’s shrewdness.
And, the movies were always the better for it!
+++++++
Truism: You don’t have to be older to dislike hip hop. However, minimal intelligence, taste and self-respect are prerequisites.
+++++++
Rant: Katie Couric had all that time to get ready and still couldn’t figure out how to say good night.
+++++++
Hmmmm: The great irony of the U.S. loss to Greece in the World Basketball Tournament is that the American players put on a dunking exhibition before the game, while at the other end of the gym the Greek players were shooting free throws.
Then the U.S. team shot 59 percent from the free-throw line.
+++++++
Truism II: Mark Twain thought polygamists were being rather selfish until he saw their wives. Then he realized they were doing mankind a favor.
+++++++
If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.
Thunder on.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Curmudgeon in the Wry 328

Friday, September 01, 2006---701 Words---Average reading time: 2-minutes, 21 seconds (time frittered away)
Offending readers one issue at a time since 2001.
Almost completely free of original ideas.
Often wrong…but never in doubt.
+++++++
Rave: Clair Trevor
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Currently reading: “The Canary Murder Case” by S.S. Van Dine (1927)
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On the Victrola: “The Hawk in Paris”---Coleman Hawkins. Sounds as contemporary today as when it was recorded fifty years ago.
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Rant: Every time I see someone with a tattoo, I want to ask, “Just how drunk were you?”
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Hmmm: Will the Bush administration get the blame for Pluto’s loss of planet status?
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Wannabet: Wonder how long before the phony Ramsey confession becomes a completely original episode of Law & Order?
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Hmmmm: You stand a better chance at seeing a music video on the Food Network than you do on MTV.
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Rave: Everything that occurs in “The Night Gardener” by George Pelecanos has a consequence and affects the perspective of the novel’s multitude of characters.
Washington D.C. is a major character…not the city seen by tourists, politicos and lobbyists…rather the city where the murder of a drug dealer is known as a “society cleanse.” Mr. Pelecanos transports the reader to this authentic and shocking kingdom of street crime.
At the core of the story are three D.C. cops and the cases that trigger their lives to intersect.
In 1985, T.C. Cook was a legend in the homicide division, while Gus Ramone and Dan “Doc” Holiday were rookie beat cops.
Cook was lead detective on a serial murder case involving three teens who were murdered in various city community gardens. The cases were never closed…the killings stopped.
In 2005, Cook has retired and had a stroke…Doc Holiday has a limo service (he left the force just before an internal affairs investigation)…Gus Ramone is a solid family man and homicide Detective Sgt.
The three are reunited while trying to solve a present day killing with possible links to the three unsolved from 1985 that continue to haunt them.
The three have separate motives. Solving the case would mean redemption for the alcoholic Holiday. For Cook, apprehending the killer will end his obsession so he can rest in peace. For Ramone, it is all part of the job…and it is personal, as his fourteen-year-old son knew the 2005 victim.
This is a panoramic novel, with a sizeable cast amid a tangle of subplots. The reader immediately becomes caught up in the sequence of events and Mr. Pelecanos challenges you to pay attention. And, the rewards are great.
More a novel about crime than a crime novel per se, you will become more interested in learning how the case will alter the lives of the trio of cops than how they will solve the crime.
“The Night Gardener” is a compelling and powerful novel whose characters come alive via revealing details. The absorbing plot of parallel stories of working cops and career criminals will lead you in unexpected directions.
To detail any more of the story line would deprive readers of the shock of discovery.
At the conclusion, you may feel the need for a standing ovation.
+++++++
Hmmmm: Never did I think there could be anyone on this planet that could possibly creep out Michael Jackson…then along comes John Mark Karr. Is this a great country or what?
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Rant: Did John Mark Karr also get frequent-flier miles?
+++++++
Rant: The cable news networks certainly use a tremendous amount of airtime to tell us there is nothing new in the John Karr-JonBenet Ramsey case.
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Didjaknow: Perry Mason’s creator, Erle Stanley Gardner, wrote at least 4,000 words every day…that is well over a million words a year. Estimates say his books have sold in excess of 300 million copies.
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Advice at no charge: Never attend the “first annual” anything.
+++++++
Hmmmm: The Yankees’ five-game sweep of the Red Sox in mid-August must have felt very gratifying for New York fans who have stuck with their little team through thick and thick.
+++++++
If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.