Wednesday, November 22, 2017

There were so many notable...

...deaths this week that it's hard for even an Irish sports page a New York Times obituary junkie like me to keep up.

The first of which was Mel Tillis, who wrote “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” -- one of the few country songs I actually like -- and died on Sunday at age 85. I always assumed the song was about Vietnam, but I guess not. From his obit:

“Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town,” an anguished ballad sung from the perspective of a disabled Korean War veteran whose wife is cheating on him, was covered by numerous artists. The 1969 recording by Kenny Rogers and First Edition reached the pop Top 10 and the country Top 40.

The second big death this week was Charles Manson, who requires no introduction, at age 83. (If you want to read a truly scary book, try Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry.)

No Name Maddox, as Mr. Manson was officially first known, was . . . believed to have fathered at least two children over the years: at least one with one of his wives, and at least one more with one of his followers. The precise number, names and whereabouts of his children — a subject around which rumor and urban legend have long coalesced — could not be confirmed. 

Now that would make for an interesting study in the whole "nature vs. nurture" debate, wouldn't it?

Finally, there was David Cassidy, from the 1970s television sitcom The Partridge Family, who died on Tuesday at age 67. (That's his co-star and real-life stepmother, Shirley Jones, in the video above.)

I never missed the show, of course, but did you know it was inspired by the Cowsills? From Wikipedia (my emphasis):

The Cowsills are an American singing group from Newport, Rhode Island. They specialized in harmonies and the ability to sing and play music at an early age. The band was formed in the spring of 1965 by brothers Bill, Bob, and Barry Cowsill; they shortly thereafter added their brother John. Originally Bill and Bob played guitar and Barry was on drums. When John learned how to play drums and joined the band, Barry went to bass. After their initial success, the brothers were joined by their siblings Susan and Paul and their mother Barbara. When the group expanded to its full family membership by 1967, the six siblings ranged in age from 8 to 19. Joined by their mother, Barbara Cowsill (née Russell), the group was the inspiration for the 1970s television show The Partridge Family.

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to former Oklahoma state senator Ralph Shortey. Hard to be afraid of a guy named "Shortey," isn't it?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

I know that prediction markets...

...have performed -- ahem -- less than perfectly in the recent past, but I still think they're worth looking at.* (If you don't agree with them then place a bet. As we used to say at the Merc, "Got a hunch, bet a bunch.")

And on PredictIt, Roy Moore is a heavy favorite to beat Doug Jones in the special election in Alabama next month, 60-40.

* My TV weatherman doesn't bat 1.000 either, but who else am I supposed to consult for tomorrow's forecast?

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Tom Toles...

...cartoon of the day.

Here are just a few thoughts on...

...the Illinois high school football playoffs as we enter the semifinals.

First of all, the last two of my Magnificent Seven (actually Awesome Eight) went down to defeat in the Second Round. (I got a little distracted by my last-minute trip to Minnesota. Thanks for all the kind wishes; looks like the storm has passed.)

No. 8-seed Hersey (9-1) fell to No. 9 Lincoln-Way Central (9-1), 21-7, and No. 10 Buffalo Grove (9-1) bowed to No. 7 East St. Louis (9-1), 40-18. Kudos, though, to all eight teams that made the playoffs after what was in some cases a multi-season drought.

Second, two of the three Lincoln-Way teams, Lincoln-Way West and Central, that could have played each other in the 7A semis both lost on Saturday. That leaves only No. 1 Lincoln-Way East (12-0), which has a rematch with No. 5 Maine South (11-1), this time at home. (Sounds like the Game of the Week, doesn't it?)

If the Hawks should happen to win that contest they could face No. 6 Loyola (11-1) in a rematch from last year's 8A championship game which Maine South won, 27-17. (The Park Ridge squad came from behind to defeat my dark horse team, No. 13 Naperville Central (9-2), 39-28. Sounds like it was a heck of a tilt.)

The Ramblers, meanwhile, will travel down to No. 26 Edwardsville (9-3) on Saturday to take on this year's Cinderella team.

Speaking of Loyola, with two rounds to go we find ourselves in a situation where the three remaining Catholic League Blue teams -- No. 18 Mount Carmel (9-3) and No. 13 Providence (8-4) are the other two -- could conceivably win the 8A, 7A and 6A titles. Wouldn't that be something?

(To be fair, two East Suburban Catholic Conference schools, No. 17 Benet (9-3) and No. 2 Nazareth (11-1), could win 7A and 6A, too.)

But first the Caravan has to get past No. 3 Lake Zurich (12-0) and Providence would have to defeat Nazareth. Mount Carmel, you may recall, blanked the Bears, 30-0, in the 2013 7A championship. If the South Siders do win they could face Benet in a 7A final featuring another couple of dark horses.

Nazareth won the 5A title in 2015 and the 6A crown in 2014, while Providence captured the 7A title in 2014. I'm not sure if these two Catholic school powerhouses have ever played, but it sounds like they've been circling each other for a few years now.

Finally, we have two undefeated teams, No. 1 Phillips (12-0) at No. 2 Sterling (12-0), in the 5A semis. It has to be hard to win twelve straight games only to watch the championship on TV, but one of these two programs will have to. Oh, well.

Enjoy the games! (I'll be in New York at Night of Too Many Stars.)

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to Wendy Gooditis, a newly-elected Democrat to the Virginia House of Delegates. Sounds like some sort of medical condition, doesn't it? "The woman is too nice; she has good-itis."

Friday, November 10, 2017

I saw a picture...

...like this on TV the other night and thought to myself, I must really live in a liberal bubble. I can't imagine walking into a store like that and buying an assault rifle. Do people really do that? Who has a need for one of those? And what kind of a country allows that sort of thing?

I guess I'm really out of touch.