Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Spring Is In The Air

The snow outside is melting away. It's currently about 50 degrees outside. There's the smell of spring in the air, even though the calendar says there's about 3 weeks of winter left.

Let's play ball.

The Mets open their spring training schedule today, with a game on TV on SportsNet New York against the AL champion Detroit Tigers this afternoon at Port St. Lucie. And tonight, Curt Schilling takes the mound against the Minnesota Twins at 7 in Ft. Myers on NESN.

I wish I could be there in person, but the TV will have to do.

At least the weather here in New York is cooperating. It makes bringing on the baseball season all the more enjoyable.

33 days and counting until Opening Day. Let's go.

Trivia Q&A: February 27

We had 15 teams take part in Trivia Night on Tuesday. We debuted a new category, "This Day In History" about events surrounding February 27. Most teams did fairly well in it. The Q Train lighning round was the True Or False category, and that went well for the second straight week. (I'm thinking about putting a new wrinkle into it next week.)

The winners were "One Blind Guy, Two Egg Heads With Glasses and Chopped Liver." You've got to love that name! They won by five points, as they rolled up 15 out of a possible 20 points in Multiple Points Trivia. Well done, guys. (There was a slight bit of controversy at the end, as two teams thought I said "Old Testament" in the second question, when everyone else heard me correctly that I said "New Testament." Sorry guys.)

We also did something special in the "This Day In History" category at the end. We honored trivia player Trivia Pete, as it was his birthday. As a bonus point, we asked everyone to guess his age. Two teams got it right: 31. (His own team could not take part in that question of course.) Happy birthday, Pete!

Current Events
1. This film won 4 Oscars on Sunday, including one for Best Picture.
2. This restaurant chain in NYC was invaded by a gang of rats last week, forcing its closing, possibly for good.
3. This film, starring Nicolas Cage, was number one at the box office last week.
4. The new Chinese New Year honors this animal.
5. The fight over Anna Nicole Smith's 5-month-old child switched to this place on Monday, where her son is buried.
6. This nation's Catholic Church has banned mentions of sex and drunkeness in eulogies at all funeral masses.
7. This filmmaker is part of a film that claims to have found Jesus Christ's actual tomb.
8. Vice President Dick Cheney met with this nation's leader on Monday in hopes that they will step up their fight against terrorism.
9. This Boston Red Sox player reported to spring training yesterday, three days before he was expected to appear.
10. Tom Vilsack dropped out of the Democratic presidential race last week. What midwest state was he once governor of?

Answers: 1. The Departed; 2. KFC/Taco Bell; 3. Ghost Rider; 4. pig; 5. Bahamas; 6. Australia; 7. James Cameron; 8. Pakistan; 9. Manny Ramirez; 10. Iowa.

This Day In History, February 27
1. Which nation gained its independence on this day in 1844? a. Dominican Republic; b. Haiti; c. Jamaica; d. Guyana.
2. Which popular magazine was published on this day for the first time in 1974? a. Life; b. People; c. Crain's; d. Woman's Day.
3. The American Indian Movement occupied the Pine Ridge Reservation at Wounded Knee in 1973 on this day? What state is Wounded Knee in? a. North Dakota; b. South Dakota; c. Montana; d. Idaho.
4. Which US president announced "Kuwait is liberated" on this date in 1991? a. Ronald Reagan; b. Bill Clinton; c. George H.W. Bush; d. Jimmy Carter.
5. The Exxon tanker Valdez was involved in a disasterous oil spill on this date in 1990. Off which coast did it occur? a. Alaska; b. Russia; c. Venezuela; d. Canada.
6. The presidential limitation to 2 terms amendment was ratified on this day in 1951. What number amendment was it? a. 21, b. 22, c. 23, d. 24.
7. The infamous Civil War confederate prison at Andersonville was opened today in 1864. Which state was the prison located in? a. Florida, b. South Carolina, c. Alabama, d. Georgia.
8. On this date in 1900, this British political party, which is currently headed by Tony Blair, was founded. Which is it? a. Liberal, b. Conservative, c. Labour, d. Liberal Democrats.
9. The British won a major battle in the Second Boer War on this day in 1900. In which country was it fought in? a. The Philippines, b. South Africa, c. Tanzania, d. Ethiopia.
10. The first Christian emperor of Rome was born on this date in 280 AD. Who was it? a. Marcus Aurelius, b. Nero, c. Constantine, d. Caesar Augustus.

Answers: 1. a; 2. b; 3. b; 4. c; 5. a; 6. b; 7. d; 8. c; 9. b; 10. c.

True Or False Trivia (The Q Train)
1. Besides the Milky Way, the only other galaxy that can be seen by the naked eye is Andromeda.
2. Tenzing Norgay is most famous for exploring the Pacific Ocean.
3. Sumo wrestlers throw salt in the ring before every wrestling match.
4. Stendhal's Syndrome is when a person has a marked physical reaction to beautiful art.
5. There are four valves on a typical modern trumpet.
6. The flour in a cheese souffle causes it to rise.
7. Utah was the last state admitted to the Union in the 19th Century.
8. The Philippines are made up of just more than 7000 islands.
9. The Australian Open tennis tournament is played every year at Roland Garros Stadium.
10. The New York Yankees franchise originally started in Baltimore in 1901.

Answers: 1. true; 2. false, he was one of the first men to climb Mt. Everest; 3. true; 4. true; 5. false, there are three; 6. false, egg whites make it rise; 7. true; 8. true; 9. false, The French Open is played at Roland Garros; 10. true.

General Knowledge
1. Which rock band had a 1987 song that mentions Lenny Bruce, Leonard Bernstein, and Leonid Brezhnev?
2. The Dominican Republic borders the Caribbean Sea and which ocean?
3. The first televised US presidential debate took place between which two candidates?
4. Which western US state's name is believed to be based on a mythical paradise in a 16th Century Spanish novel?
5. Amber is a shade of which color?
6. In the 1988 film, "A Fish Called Wanda," what are the main characters trying to steal?
7. Which North American city has hosted the Summer Olympics more than once?
8. Which US president recorded greetings to extraterrestials on the Voyager space probes?
9. How many syllables does the word, "independence" have?
10. "Myocardial infarction" is the medical term for what condition?

Answers: 1. REM ("The End Of The World As We Know It"), 2. Atlantic; 3. John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon; 4. California; 5. yellow; 6. jewels; 7. Los Angeles; 8. Jimmy Carter; 9. four; 10. heart attack.

Multiple Answers Trivia
1. Name 3 of the 5 largest cities in California by population.
2. Name 4 of the first 6 books of the New Testament.
3. Name 4 of the 6 actors to have portrayed James Bond in the movies.
4. Name 4 of the 6 most widely spoken languages in the world.

Answers: 1. Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Long Beach; 2. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans; 3. Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig; 4. Mandarin, English, Hindi, Spanish, Arabic, Russian.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

And The Winner Of The Oscar Pool Is...


Yes, I got the word from my sister earlier today that I won my family's Oscar Pool for the second time in my life, as the 51 points got me the win, two points over my sister Barbara. I walked out of the Oscar party on Sunday night not really sure if that was good enough to take it. I got a lot of the "little" categories right (and some were just pure guesses) to take the title of Oscar Pool Champion for 2007.

I win the pot of money collected (I won't say how much but it's nice) from the 36 people who took part.

I'm really proud of my accomplishment, and I want to thank the Academy, my parents for bringing me into the world, and all the little people who made this win possible...

Tonight's Trivia

Since "The Q Train" was such a spectacular success last week (actually, I wasn't booed off the mic when I did it so that counts as a success), we will have that lightning round again tonight. I haven't as yet made up my mind to which category it will be fitted into.

Tonight's categories will be Current Events, General Knowledge, True Or False, the return of Multiple Answers Trivia, and a new category I'm bringing in: "This Day In History." I'll ask questions about famous events that occurred on this day, and it will be the multiple choice round as well.

And like The Q Train, if its a reasonable success, it will return in the future.

See you tonight.

The Sad End Of Tower Goes On

Over the weekend, my sister sent me a link to a newspaper article from the Seattle Times about how my former employer, the now-defunct Tower Records (I can't believe I just wrote that) is going to sell off to the highest bidder its web site, its famous logo and its international rights.

The sad ending of Tower Records goes on.

Here's the complete article, as its interesting reading.

Tower Records Web site for sale
By Dale Kasler
The Sacramento Bee

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Tower Records is edging closer to selling its Web site and other leftover assets of the Tower empire.

Two months after its last U.S. stores closed, including Seattle outlets at Fifth Avenue on Lower Queen Anne and in the University District, the defunct Sacramento-based retailer is preparing to auction off, the company's famous trademark, and its international rights.

An earlier deal to sell the Web site fell through, Tower said in court papers.

Tower expects to auction the assets March 15 at its law firm in Wilmington, Del., according to papers filed late Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington.

"Numerous parties" have already indicated they will participate in the new auction, Tower said in court papers. The assets may be sold as a group or individually, and proceeds will help repay Tower's remaining debts.

The most prominent asset, the Web site, has remained open for business even though Tower's Sacramento warehouse has closed.

A wholesaler has been filling customer orders.

The international licenses cover the right to operate Tower outside the United States. Some 142 stores operate in seven foreign countries.

Someone purchasing the trademark, meanwhile, could open new stores under the Tower name.

After filing for bankruptcy in August, Tower was auctioned off to a liquidating firm in October. The liquidator, Great American Group, completed the going-out-of-business sales in late December.

As part of the auction, was sold for $3.8 million to Norton, an Internet business in San Francisco that sells memorabilia and concert recordings acquired from the estate of rock promoter Bill Graham.

The deal ran into problems almost immediately. Tower accused Norton of trying to back out or substantially change the terms. Norton said the hang-up was a legal restriction involving the transfer of the Web site's customer list — a restriction it says it didn't know about until after it agreed to the purchase.

The two sides tried to work out their differences but failed.

"Certain business, technical and operational issues became apparent in the course of these negotiations, and that transaction did not close," Tower said in its court papers.

Norton owner Bill Sagan wouldn't comment on the failed negotiations Thursday but said he might make another stab at the Web site at the March auction.

"I'm still thinking about it," he said.

Separately, Sagan is being sued by such rock stars as Carlos Santana and Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant. They say his rock-memorabilia Web site is illegally profiting from their work. Sagan has called the suit "frivolous."

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Prodigal Son Reports

The long national nightmare is over: Manny's back in town.

Manny Ramirez reported to Red Sox camp in Ft. Myers today, three days ahead of the date the Sox gave him permission to be in.

Let's hope his mom's doing better, and now we can cut out all this stupid, silly nonsense and get back to the business of winning another title.

Yeah, right.

Oscar Scorecard

I didn't do too badly in my Oscar picks last night. I got 15 of the 24 total Oscar picks correct. And I got all the major ones right with the exception of Best Supporting Actor, which went to Alan Arkin instead of Eddie Murphy. I was happy to see Arkin win, as he deserved it. It was the toughest of all the major awards for me to pick.

I got a total of 51 points in my sister's pool, and I'll know in a few days if I won or not. There were some surprises, but to almost no one's shock, Martin Scorsese finally won an Oscar for Best Director for "The Departed." (One of four the film won, including Best Picture.) It was certainly well-deserved after five previous misses. (I read an article online today about how he broke "the curse." Why must everything like this be called a curse? Damn that Dan Shaughnessy.) He was probably the greatest living director without one before last night.

I was also in an Oscar pool at Professor Thom's last night (there was a good crowd on hand for the festivities), and I made all the same picks as my sister's pool. (I'll know soon about that one too.) We also played a game called "Oscar Bingo." It was like a regular bingo board, but instead of numbers, there were actor's names on it, and other phrases on it like, "Thanks Grandparents," "Forgot Glasses," and even outrageous ones like "Dies On Stage," "Falls Out Of Dress." Nobody, to no one's shock, won Oscar Bingo last night.

The show itself wasn't bad. Ellen DeGeneres was OK as host, as she was funny and did her best to keep the show moving. But the major drawback was that it was WAY too long (it went 40 minutes overtime). We could have done without things like that Sound Effects Choir. But I liked Jerry Seinfeld's take on going to the movies. The show turned out to be an Al Gore Lovefest (what a shock), as "An Inconvenient Truth" won for Best Documentary and Best Song. The joke Ellen made about Gore and Jennifer Hudson got probably the biggest laugh of the night (another shock, eh?). But I was very glad to see a lack of political grandstanding on this night (our Commander-in-Chief was not mentioned even once). One thing that always turned me off about many previous Oscar shows is when some braindead Hollywood star gets up and starts ranting about this cause or bashing the current occupant of the White House.

Thankfully, everybody parked that nonsense at the door, and allowed us to just enjoy Hollywood's biggest night. Congratulations to all the winners.

Never Forget: February 26, 1993

Today is a very sad memorial, as on this day in 1993, the World Trade Center was attacked for the first time, as a bomb left in a van by Islamic terrorists exploded in an underground parking garage, killing six people and injuring over 1,000.

The bomb exploded at 12:18 PM that day. I was working at the Tower Records store in Greenwich Village, for the TRIP company. I'll never forget going to lunch that afternoon and hearing the alarms from the fire trucks and ambulances that were racing to the scene, and I remember seeing smoke in the sky on Broadway to the south. I put on the radio to discover their was an explosion at the World Trade Center, and it turned out it was deliberately done by Islamic extremists who hoped to collapse one the towers into the other. I will also remember seeing those people who worked in the World Trade Center leaving the buildings with soot covering their faces, and an unbelievable scene of carnage down in the garage where the bomb went off.

Six people died that day:
John DiGiovanni, 45, Dental equipment salesman
Robert Kirkpatrick, 61, Port Authority Senior Maintenance Supervisor
Steve Knapp, 48, Port Authority Mechanical Supervisor
Monica Rodriguez Smith, 34, Port Authority Office Assistant
William Macko, 57, Port Authority Mechanical Supervisor
Wilfredo Mercado, 37, Purchasing Agent for Windows On The World

A memorial to those victims was dedicated in the rotunda of the World Trade Center (pictured top right). But the memorial was destroyed on September 11, 2001. Only one small piece of the entire memorial survived, and it had the name "John" on it (from 1993 victim John DiGiovanni, pictured top left). At times these 1993 victims have been overlooked since 9/11, but please say a prayer for all six of these victims today.

They will never be forgotten, nor will that terrible day in 1993.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Happy Birthday George

Today would have been the 64th birthday of one of the great legends of rock'n'roll. A man who is much missed, George Harrison.

It's hard to believe that George has been gone for over five years now. He made a body of music, with the Beatles and as a solo artist, that will be enjoyed by music fans from now until time comes to an end. He is truly in a category of music immortals with legends like Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, George Gershwin and Frank Sinatra.

I know God has rewarded you, George. You were a truly spiritual man who gave millions of people, including myself, countless hours of joy.

I hope you have a wonderful birthday.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Village Rat Pack

I'm sure many of you probably caught this on the news, as I did yesterday. Apparently a gang of rats took over a KFC/Taco Bell restaurant in Greenwich Village and the invasion was caught on tape by some news crews as well. It looked like a scene out of the cult classic film, "Willard."

There seemed to be rats everywhere, and some of them looked like the size of cats. The Health Department shut the restaurant, which is on Sixth Avenue near West 4th Street. The restaurant claimed that because of some construction going on in another part of the building, it forced the vermin into the restaurant through a hole near one of the grills.

Taco Bell says the restaurant will not reopen until it "has been sanitized and given a complete clean bill of health." I think they would be wiser to shut the place permanently, bulldoze it and open a new restaurant somewhere else.

I can never recall being in that place, and I sure as hell will never frequent that joint in the future.

I don't think I'd ever want to eat in a place that was once the home to cat-sized vermin.

My Fearless Oscar Picks

The Academy Awards are being held tomorrow night, as that's really the only awards show I seriously pay any attention to. (It sure as hell beats the Grammy Awards, which comes off as the March of The Brainless Nitwits.) I'm not into all those "pregame" shows ( you know, the one that was hosted by Joan Rivers and her daughter), or those aftershow programs. For me, it just the award show itself that has any meaning for me.

And it does because for many years I've been involved in an Oscar pool run by two of my sisters. (First by Barbara, and now by Elizabeth.) I actually won the pool some years ago, and it was one of the proudest accomplishments of my life!!

The pool that I am involved in is based on points. The big awards for acting and directing get five points, and they go down on a sliding scale to one for awards like Sound Editing and Visual Effects (the categories that you basically have to take wild guesses at). The person who runs up the most points wins the pool and the pot of money that's been built up.

I made my choices earlier this week, and I consulted various web sites for people's opinions on who would win, like specific Oscar blogs, the official Oscar web site, Roger Ebert's site, and even a few online betting sites that offered Oscar odds. So without further ado, here's who I chose to win the major awards tomorrow night:

Best Picture: "The Departed"
Best Director: Martin Scorsese, "The Departed"
Best Actor: Forest Whitaker, "The King of Scotland"
Best Actress: Helen Mirren, "The Queen"
Best Supporting Actor: Eddie Murphy, "Dreamgirls"
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls"
Best Adapted Screenplay: "The Departed"
Best Original Screenplay: "Little Miss Sunshine"

"The Departed" was simply a fabulous film, and I think this is Martin Scorsese's moment. He's been passed over six times, and the Academy can make up for all those past slights by honoring him and the film tomorrow night. Everyone seems to think Helen Mirren is an absolute slam dunk for Best Actress. (Although I'd love to see one of my favorite actresses, Kate Winslet, finally win, but I don't think that will happen. Kate's time will come one day.) I also think the Academy will make up for slight that "Dreamgirls" was passed over for Best Picture by giving both Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson the supporting awards. (Although I'd love to see Alan Arkin win for "Little Miss Sunshine" as he simply stole that film with his outlandish role as the grandfather in the film.)

Anyway, it's always a fun night to see who wins, and I'll be watching it at an Oscar party at Professor Thom's. Good luck to all the nominees, and I'll let you all know how I do in this year's pool.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Dice's Debut On NESN

The spring debut of Daisuke Matsuzaka, which will happen a week from tonight, on Friday, March 2nd against Boston College, will be broadcast live by NESN. However, they will only be showing the innings when Dice-K pitches, which should be just the first two innings or so, and then they will shift back to their regular programming when he's done for the night.

I would hazard a guess that it will probably be the first time that any of the college teams the Red Sox play every year in spring training will be a sellout. I also read today that Dice-K threw a 103-pitch bullpen session yesterday. Sounds like he's ready to roll....

The first Red Sox spring training game is this Wednesday night, February 28th at Ft. Myers against the Minnesota Twins at 7:05 PM. Curt Schilling will get the start for the Red Sox. I'm expecting a large and rowdy contingent at Professor Thom's, despite it being Bingo Night...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Clinton vs Obama: Round One

Did you really think they were going to be civil to each other for the next 18 months?

Hillary Clinton yesterday accused Barack Obama and his camp of being hypocritical and using "the politics of trash."

Remember we're dealing with Hillary Clinton here, so you knew the gloves were going to come off at some point. I just didn't think it would be this soon.

It all had to do with media mogul David Geffen throwing Clinton under the bus, making some snide comments (he called her a liar), and tossing a cool $1.3 million into Obama's war chest.

But Hillary Clinton's got to be very careful with Obama. If it gets too vicious or personal, she runs the risk of offending many black voters, if she gets the nomination. While most won't vote for the Republican candidate in November, many would just stay home, and that would be a like a Republican vote anyway.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, get used to it. We are still over 20 months from the general election, and already the fun has begun.

Speaking of presidential politics, I read in the paper today that the leading Democratic candidates are lining up their powerful Hollywood friends to fill up their coffers for their presidential runs.

There was a list of stars and who their backing, mostly for either Clinton or Obama. You know, the usual suspects like George Clooney, Robert DeNiro, Oprah Winfrey and Matt Damon. I have no problem with celebrities endorsing candidates, as that has been going on since time began. Politicians love the star power of movie stars, and Hollywood celebrities love to rub elbows with those of the Washington elite. However, I have always been of the opinion that their vote is no more important than mine is. I really don't give a damn who Madonna or Curt Schilling wants to be president. They are Americans like me and can freely express their opinion. But when I walk into a voting booth, I let my conscience decide who to pull the lever for. Celebrity endorsements have no influence on me whatsoever.

But in listing the celebrities, they actually had a list of those who are supporting BOTH Clinton and Obama. That includes Barbra Streisand (figures), Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. I found this really rather silly. And I can only imagine that they are so politically correct that they can't be seen rooting against either a black man or a woman running for president. (Or they just want to be on the winning side right away, as either Clinton or Obama figures to get the Democratic nod.)

I can understand getting behind the party's nominee once that person has been chosen, even if you were pulling for someone else from that party. But that won't happen for at least 16 months. It's like rooting for the Red Sox and the Yankees from the start of a season. It's just not done.

C'mon guys. Pick one now, and don't worry about how it looks.

Bring Back The Handsome Man!

Earlier this week, former Red Sox reliever Rich Garces signed with the Nashua Pride of the independent Can-Am League. The Immortal "El Guapo" hopes to make it back to majors. (I love that nickname, as it means, "The Handsome Man" in Spanish.)

The 35-year-old pitched well in Venezuela over the winter, and says he's down to 230 pounds, from his majors playing weight of 250 (and that's being a bit generous). The Red Sox actually signed him to a minor-league contract in 2005 but was released at the end of the season and didn't make it back to Boston. He was originally let go by the Sox during the 2002 season and hasn't pitched in the majors since. He was always a popular cult figure among the Fenway Faithful.

Just before he was let go in 2002, I went to a game at Fenway and got an "El Guapo" shirt, as he was always one of my favorites. A few weeks later, the Sox let him go as he was having a truly awful season. My El Guapo shirt has basically been in mothballs since, and I'd love to resurrect it if he can make it back to Boston.

Good luck on your comeback try, El Guapo. I hope to see you back with the Red Sox.

But I would guess he'd have to pick a new number if he returns. I think someone else has his old number 34, right?

Once An Idiot, Now A Moron

Can't Johnny Damon just shut up for once and for all and move on?

Judas is running his big mouth off again about the Red Sox, basically calling them a bunch of cheapskates for letting him walk away last year and allowing the Yankees to grossly overpay him that $52 million contract last winter. Here's the story in today's New York Daily News:

I guess he's sees the big contracts the Sox gave to Daisuke Matsuzaka, J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo and couldn't help himself but put his two cents in on why he should still have been in a Red Sox uniform today.

This article conveniently forgets a lot of the history of what happened when Judas signed with New York. The Red Sox at the time simply were not going to give Damon more than a four-year, $40 million deal to stay in Boston. Everyone, including most of Red Sox Nation, agreed that giving Damon the contract he eventually got from the Yankees was crazy and that the Red Sox shouldn't do it. The Yankees were desperate for a centerfielder, and couldn't make a trade for Torii Hunter or any other quality CF out there, and were not going to open the season with Bubba Crosby out there (despite what Brian Cashman said at the time). So the Yankees made him a $52 million offer for four years. (Why did they go $3 million per year better than the Sox and not say, $1 million?)

A $40 million deal was simply not good enough for Damon, so he basically took the other higher offer and went to New York. He's a businessman like any other baseball player. (And don't forget, the Red Sox signed him as a free agent from Oakland in 2001.) But I lost a LOT of respect for him and his slimebag agent Boras for taking this deal and not giving the Red Sox brass a chance to even match it. (Remember Larry Lucchino found out about the deal from the media?) This isn't to say that the Sox would have matched it (and I don't think they would have), but Judas and Boras showed absolutely no class at all in not giving the Red Sox that opportunity. They should have at least had the Sox say to them, "We can't go that high, good luck in New York." But they did not. So he snuck off to New York, like the Baltimore Colts in 1984 leaving in the middle of the night for Indianapolis.

So once again, here is Damon yakking about the Sox, and probably deep down wishes he was still in a Red Sox uniform but would NEVER admit it. (At least not until after he retires. I GUARANTEE you that after he's done, Damon will give the inevitable interview about "the worst move I ever made in my career was leaving Boston." Not signing with New York, leaving Boston.) As far as I'm concerned, he took his legacy, wrapped it up in 52 million pounds of dynamite, and blew it sky-high. If having more money means more to him, so be it.

I would bet that most Yankee fans are getting pretty tired of him talking about his old team as well.

You took the money and went over to the Dark Side, Judas. I hope you and your additional $12 million will be very happy together.

Now just stop whining about it.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Trivia Q&A: February 20

We had another fine night of Trivia last night with 11 teams taking part. The highlight was the debut of "The Q Train" lightning round, and it was generally well-received by the players. The round was Presidential Trivia, and most of the questions were on the easy side. I explained the rules before the round, that questions would not be repeated, and 6 of the 11 teams got perfect scores in it. I saw very few answers left blank, so everyone paid close attention. I would say that The Q Train will be back next week.

We had a close game last night, but a group called "Threepeat" was the winners, by just two points. I think I may have made the Oscar Trivia questions a little too difficult, as the scores were not very high. And only one team got as many as three correct in the final 10-point bonus question on movies that had won as many as 9 Oscars. It's always a delicate balancing act when writing up trivia quizzes.

Current Events
1. This legendary entertainer opened the NBA All-Star Game festivities on Sunday night with dancing girls and a version of "Viva Las Vegas."
2. This Northeastern state officially became the third state to offer civil unions to gay couples on Monday.
3. Three stranded climbers were rescued on Monday by authorities on Mt. Hood in this state.
4. This US president was voted number one all-time by a recent Gallup poll.
5. The Catholic Archdiocese of this California city is considering declaring bankruptcy to avoid going on trial on more than 140 lawsuits alleging sex abuse by priests.
6. This star of "Goodfellas"and other films was arrested in LA on suspicion of drunk driving on Sunday night.
7. Playboy Magazine selected this 22-year-old actress as its current "sexiest celebrity."
8. This 2008 presidential candidate said Sunday that Donald Rumsfeld was "one of the worst Secretaries of Defense ever."
9. Norv Turner was hired by this NFL team as its head coach on Monday.
10. Two people were killed when two shuttle buses collided near this Florida airport on Sunday.

Answers: 1. Wayne Newton; 2. New Jersey; 3. Oregon; 4. Abraham Lincoln; 5. San Diego; 6. Ray Liotta; 7. Scarlett Johansson; 8. John McCain; 9. San Diego Chargers; 10. Ft. Lauderdale International Airport.

True Or False Trivia
1. The nickname of IBM is "Big Blue."
2. China does not border Vietnam.
3. Eating a teaspoon of sugar can cure the hiccups.
4. An ant actually has two pair of antennae.
5. "The Honeymooners" began as a series of short sketches on "The Jackie Gleason Show."
6. The word "vaccine" comes from the Latin word for cow.
7. Pastrami is traditionally made from pork.
8. The Philadelphia Phillies didn't win their first World Series until 1980.
9. Jim Morrison is buried in the same cemetery that contains Walt Disney's ashes in California.
10. The chess term "checkmate" comes from the Persian trem "shah mat" which means "The King is dead."

Answers: 1. true; 2. false, it does; 3. true; 4. false, it has just one; 5. true; 6. true; 7. false, it's made from beef; 8. true; 9. false, Jim's buried in Paris; 10. true.

Presidential Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Who is the only president to serve three terms?
2. Who was the heaviest president?
3. Who was the second US president?
4. Which elected president served the shortest term?
5. Which president pardoned Richard Nixon?
6. Who is the 43rd US President?
7. Under which president was Al Gore the vice-president?
8. In which year was Abraham Lincoln first elected president?
9. In which city did George Washington take his first oath of office as president in 1789?
10. Who succeeded John F. Kennedy as president in 1963?

Answers: 1. Frankin D. Roosevelt; 2. William H. Taft; 3. John Adams; 4. William H. Harrison; 5. Gerald Ford; 6. George W. Bush; 7. Bill Clinton; 8. 1860; 9. New York City; 10. Lyndon B. Johnson.

General Knowledge
1. Which daytime soap opera is based primarily in the fictional town of Pine Valley?
2. What number is the most recent US constitutional amendment, ratified in 1992?
3. A person suffering from bruxism does what while sleeping?
4. In which classic 1964 film did Phil Collins, at age 12, appear in as an extra?
5. "Why Can't We Be Friends" was a hit song in 1975 by which musical group?
6. Which European city was Hannibal looking to conquer when he crossed the Alps in 218 BC?
7. Yosemite National Park is located in which US state?
8. Which three-digit code did the FCC set aside for phone calls regarding police nonemergencies?
9. Which kind of animal is the Alaska malamute?
10. Which decade in the 20th century did author F. Scott Fitzgerald dub "The Jazz Age?"

Answers: 1. "All My Children"; 2. 27; 3. Grinds their teeth; 4. "A Hard Day's Night"; 5. War; 6. Rome; 7. California; 8. 311; 9. dog; 10. 1920s.

Oscar Trivia
1. Which actor won an Oscar for Best Actor in a feature film in which he directed? a. Warren Beatty; b. Kevin Costner; c. Laurence Olivier; d. Mel Gibson.
2. Which entertainer is the host of this Sunday's Oscars? a. Billy Crystal; b. Ellen DeGeneres; c. Whoopi Goldberg; d. Steve Martin.
3. How many times has Kevin Bacon been nominated for an Academy Award? a. 1, b. 2, c. 3, d. none.
4. Which of the following actors has never won an Oscar? a. Kevin Kline; b. Peter O'Toole; c. Morgan Freeman; d. Robert Duvall.
5. Which foreign language film was nominated for the most Oscars? a. "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"; b. "Life Is Beautiful"; c. "Das Boot"; d. "Fanny And Alexander."
6. Which of the following actors was nominated in the Acting, Directing and Writing categories for the same film? a. Kevin Costner; b. Clint Eastwood; c. Woody Allen; d. Robert Duvall.
7. Who was the last woman nominated for Best Director? a. Penny Marshall; b. Sofia Coppola; c. Jane Campion; d. Lina Wertmuller.
8. Who was the only actor to win an acting award posthumously? a. John Wayne; b. Peter Finch; c. Henry Fonda; d. Humphrey Bogart.
9. Which 1980s film was nominated for 11 Oscars, but wound up winning none? a. "The Color Purple"; b. "A Passage To India"; c. "Tootsie"; d. "Reds."
10. Name 3 of the 7 films that have won at least 9 Oscars.

Answers: 1. c; 2. b; 3. d; 4. b; 5. a; 6. c; 7. b; 8. b; 9. a; 10. "Ben Hur"; "Titanic"; "Lord of the Rings: Return Of The King"; "West Side Story"; "Gigi"; "The Last Emperor"; "The English Patient."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Two Train Wrecks Are Better Than One

I thought I would take a break from the serious reporting of MLB, the Red Sox and Tuesday Night Trivia to comment on a few other things going on in the world.

Over the last couple of weeks, the tabloid news have been filled with two stories that they just can't seem to get enough of: the meltdown of Britney Spears and the death of Anna Nicole Smith.

First, Britney. Good Lord, the New York papers just can't enough of the Bald Pop Tart. The New York Daily News, yet again, had four pages on this so-called story. Like we're all hanging on every movement this poor girl does. I've never been a fan of hers. (Do you think people will be listening to Britney Spears songs 20 years from now?)

I love these papers that bring in psychologists to get their opinion on her problems. What she needs is real help, not some so-called expert opining on what her deep psychological problems are. Britney's a troubled woman, and clearly needs some kind of help. Her career and image has been in freefall for some time now, and the possibility that she could come to bad end some time soon is clearly out there. What Britney needs to do is to get away from the media for a long stretch (6 months to a year) to try to make sense of not just her career but much more importantly, her life. I can't believe that the head-shaving thing was a planned publicity stunt, as she's become the laughingstock of the world right now.

However, enough with all the tabloid frenzy going on now. It's sad and pathetic, and I don't need to see four-page layouts on Britney Spears' troubles every day. There still is a war going on in Iraq, right?

Britney certainly doesn't want to end up like...Anna Nicole Smith.

The Anna Nicole Smith affair is even worse. She's even more controversial in death than she was in life. And with her death, the sleaze comes out of the woodwork. That Howard K. Stern guy looks like he's trying to get every last dime from her estate. (A quick aside. Does he have two associates named Robin K. Quivers and Fred K. Norris?) He and 3,497 other guys claim to be the father of Anna Nicole's infant daughter, and that's the saddest part of the whole thing. Everyone of them wants that baby because she will be worth multi-millions someday. It's seedy and slimy.

Quick solution: have everyone of these so-called fathers appear on The Maury Povich Show and take a DNA test to determine who the daddy is. Hell, every time I change channels and see the Maury show on, he is opening an envelope determining the father of some single woman's child. So cut the crap, get the tests done, determine who Pop is, and move on.

Poor Anna Nicole Smith still hasn't been laid to rest (her mom and Howie K. are butting heads over that), and yet everyone seems to be fighting over her. She might finally got what she always wanted: the whole world talking about her.

Monday, February 19, 2007

A New Twist For Trivia

Tomorrow night's Trivia will have a new twist that we will be trying out. The five categories tomorrow night will be Current Events, General Knowledge, True or False, Oscar Trivia, and Presidential Trivia. But the Presidential category will have a slight change that we will test for the first time.

That will be a new "lightning round," or what we will be calling "The Q Train." (My buddy Chris came up with that term. He never lacks for imagination.) I will be asking the usual 10 questions, but they will be asked with just a few seconds in between questions, and more importantly, they will NOT be repeated. I will saying the questions as clearly as I can, and the questions will generally be on the easy variety.

"The Q Train" will be the third round of trivia on Tuesday night. The Oscar Trivia will be the final round. The first eight questions will be multiple choice, but the last two will be of the "multiple answer variety," so there will be the bonus for the game.

We'll see how well "The Q Train" goes. If it's successful, we'll bring it back. If not, we'll dump "The Q Train" off the coast of Delaware some place and let it become part of some underwater reef...

Putting Old Junk To Good Use

Hold on to that old Judas jersey you might have been thinking about tossing into the garbage or using in your next bonfire.

A young Red Sox fan in Ft. Myers was seen yesterday putting that old piece of junk to good use.

Red Sox fans never cease to amaze me how original they can be.

I didn't think number 18 on the Sox would ever be this popular again.

Thanks once again to my friend Jules for forwarding this cool photo to me (courtesy of the Boston Globe).

More Red Sox Spring TV Games

Tonight I had a response from a reader named Michael J. who left me some more additional dates you can see the Red Sox spring training games on TV. Michael left the ESPN dates as well as some other cable and satellite dish dates. My thanks to him for filling in those blanks.

Wednesday, March 21st: 1:05pm Red Sox @ Pirates
Thursday, March 22nd: 1:05pm Red Sox @ Phillies
Monday, March 26th: 1:05pm Red Sox @ Reds

Fox Sports North
Sunday, March 4th: 1:05pm Red Sox @ Twins
Tuesday, March 20th: 7:05pm Twins @ Red Sox

Fox Sports Florida
Saturday, March 24th: 1:05pm Red Sox @ Devil Rays

Local Philly (Big Dish Only) Ch.57
Saturday, March 31st: 1:05pm Red Sox @ Phillies

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Red Sox Spring Training On TV

A few days ago, my friend Jules emailed me the complete list of Red Sox games on TV in February and March. (This list doesn't include ESPN games, as they show a few games each week during March.) So here they are for your viewing enjoyment while we wait for the temperatures to rise:

Wednesday, February 28: Minnesota Twins at Red Sox, 7 PM
Saturday, March 3: Philadelphia Phillies at Red Sox, 1 PM
Wednesday, March 7: New York Mets at Red Sox, 1 PM
Sunday, March 11: Baltimore Orioles at Red Sox, 1 PM
Monday, March 12: New York Yankees at Red Sox, 7 PM
Saturday, March 17: Cincinnati Reds at Red Sox, 1 PM
Sunday, March 18: Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles, 1 PM
Sunday, March 25: Florida Marlins at Red Sox, 1 PM
Wednesday, March 28: Red Sox at Minnesota Twins, 7 PM

SportsNet New York
Thursday, March 15: Red Sox at New York Mets, 7 PM

Monday, March 12: New York Yankees at Red Sox, 7 PM

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Just Retire Already

The pathetic "dog and pony show" that is The Roger Clemens Retirement Tour took another turn when The Dayton Doughnut (thanks Adam) now says that he is now "80% certain" that he is leaning towards retiring and not coming back for the 2007 season.

I know I'm not alone in this assessment, but I wish this idiot would finally call it career and be done with it. Enough of this "maybe I will, maybe I won't" crap. Clemens has lied and alienated fans at all four of his Major League stops, and I'm beginning to think he won't retire until he no longer has a pulse.

Most of you know Clemens' "rap sheet" from Boston, Toronto, New York, and Houston, so I won't list it all here now. He maybe a first ballot Hall of Famer, but also a first-class liar and con artist, and if he told me the sun were coming up tomorrow, I'd get up at 4 AM just to see if it were true. (Remember after he won his 300th game in New York in 2003 he announced, "I'm 99.9% sure I'll retire after the season?" And now he's only "80% certain?" I don't like those odds.)

"The Carpetbagger" isn't one of my favorite baseball people (how can you tell?), but enough already. I REALLY hope he doesn't wind up back in Boston. He had his chance years ago to make amends to the fans of Boston, but obviously money means more to him than his legacy (see also: "Johnny Damon"), so that ship has sailed already.

If he was going to pitch again, he would be smart to stay in the National League, as it's much more a pitchers league, and the AL East is loaded with tough lineups. Clemens right now is no more than a six-inning pitcher who will be 45 in August. Even he comes back in June, who knows how much he'll have left.

Clemens has accomplished everything he possibly could in his baseball career, so why would he come back yet again? Only one reason: another huge payday. It was criminal the way he jerked the Astros around last year, but they fell for his BS and had to live with it.

I wish Clemens would end all these shenanigans and just call it a career already. Just do us all a favor and go away and enjoy your money. Or maybe he just likes to enjoy antagonizing both Boston and New York fans with all this spectulation?


Friday, February 16, 2007

Know Your Enemy

I've never been big on Yankee fan sites, and I don't peruse them often. But yesterday I was pleased that Steve over at saw my article on Alex Rodriguez and put a link in his post about it. (Steve also put a link last year to a story I wrote about Mark Loretta as well.) I've never put any links to any Yankee fan web sites on my blog, but that has now changed, as I put up one for in the "Other Cool Bloggers" section here.

Steve's link actually helped boost traffic on to my site yesterday, and I welcome anything that brings more readers over here (and yes, even Yankee fans too!).

It's an intelligently written site, and doesn't go heavy on anti-Red Sox rhetoric. Steve's a devoted Yankees fan who writes about everything surrounding his team. If you're looking for news regarding the Yankees, is a site to definitely check out.

Countdown To Opening Day

Pitchers and catchers have officially begun reporting to both the Red Sox and Mets camps today, so let the hype for the 2007 season begin!

I have updated my countdown clock at the top of this blog to now officially begin the countdown to Opening Day, which for the Red Sox will be April 2 against the Royals in Kansas City. The Mets will open the previous night against the defending World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

The first Red Sox spring training game will be on February 28th against Minnesota at Ft. Myers. It will also be broadcast on NESN at 7:05 PM, so you can just guess where I'll be that night.

Keith Foulke Retires

Another "One of the 25" has decided to call it a career, as Keith Foulke has decided to retire rather than go after the Cleveland Indians closer position.

Foulke now joins Bill Mueller, Curtis Leskanic, Pokey Reese, and Gabe Kapler as Red Sox players who were on the 2004 World Champions who have ended their playing careers.

Foulke had reported to the Indians' Winter Haven spring training complex yesterday and informed team officials of his decision. He signed a one-year deal over the winter. Apparently he was experiencing more elbow problems and reached his decision.

He had a fabulous season in 2004, and was a major reason the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years.

The scene pictured here, the final out of Game 4 in St. Louis to wrap up the 2004 World Series, will live in my heart forever, and I thank Keith Foulke for that. Have a nice retirement, Keith, and thanks for being One of the 25.

Is This Any Way To Run A Railroad?

It's time for me to get off on a rant, and some events from Thursday night really set me off.

I'm not seeing eye-to-eye with the New York City subway system these days.

They've been pulling crap lately that's been driving me crazy. I live by a local stop in the Midwood section of Brooklyn. But lately I've noticed they've been pulling this lately: when a "Q" train is running late, and I've been waiting in a station for 20-25 minutes for a train (and almost always either in the rain or cold, or both), they will skip my stop and few other local stops along the line to get "back on schedule." I'm sure that's good news for people already on the train (unless one of the missed stops is theirs). But it royally pisses me off that people waiting in my station have to keep waiting because of the incompetence of the Transit Authority to run their damn trains on time.

And it's also happened on my way home. I've had to get off at the express stop and wait for another train when these boneheads announce that they have to skip some local stops, including my own.

Back to last night. I had The Train Ride From Hell trying to get to Manhattan to see my pal Alex's jazz gig at the Kitano Hotel. (I did get there and he and his trio were terrific.) First I get on a Q train in the next-to-last car, and what do I find: a near-riot is actually going on inside. About 25-30 teenagers were acting like total assholes as they were hitting each other and ripping down ads and posters, tearing them up and throwing them around the train and at each other. A few others were throwing bottles (they looked like the plastic kind). I didn't see any weapons on anyone, but I decided not to hang around to find out. (A few brave souls were sitting there as all this mayhem was going on.)

I moved up a couple of cars and decided to let the conductor know what was going on. At the next express stop, I went up to the conductor's window. As bad as what those jerks were doing a few cars down, as even more appalled by what happened next. I told the conductor was happening in the train, and all I got was a "yeah, yeah, yeah" from him. I couldn't believe this idiot's "I don't give a shit so get out of my face" attitude. After I spoke to him, I shrugged my shoulders and got back on the train. So what would it take for this asshole conductor to take some action, someone getting bludgeoned or murdered? He couldn't simply make an announcement to those jackasses, or maybe alert the police in an upcoming station? (And I could just imagine if one of those assholes in the melee got hurt, they later would probably be screaming "lawsuit" to the TA. )

I changed trains to the IRT at Atlantic Avenue, and the train simply crawled into Manhattan. But right after Brooklyn Bridge, this train's conductor gets on the PA and announces, "This train will make all local stops in Manhattan due to the cold weather." Have you heard about this crap? Since the cold started, they have stopped running certain trains on express tracks because of the cold. I can never remember the TA ever doing something like this before. On my line, they stop the "B" train about 2 hours before its supposed to, creating jammed Q trains. And the IRT train I was on crawled and was absolutely packed when I get off (and at 8 PM at night, after the rush hours). They are parking trains in the tunnels, and creating all kinds of chaos on the local tracks.

The New York City subway has never been "good," but lately it's really been a mess, with all the construction they've been doing inconveniencing passengers, especially on the weekends.

Anyway, just needed to vent on all this crap.

And I just bet a fare increase is on its way.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Era Of Slappy: 3 Years and Counting

Did anyone else remember this?

February 14th is anniversary. An event that occurred on this day a few years ago seemed to pass with very little notice in the sporting world. And especially in Yankeeland.

Three years ago, the New York Yankees traded Alfonso Soriano to the Texas Rangers for their shortstop, one Alex Rodriguez.

From the reactions to the trade at the time, you would have thought the world was coming to an end in some quarters. In others, the Yankees were patted on the back for "hornswaggling" the Red Sox yet again. Some people even thought the deal was unfair, that the Yankees were too "loaded." The attitude in the media and among the Bronx faithful seemed to be, "why bother playing the 2004 baseball season, just give the Yankees their World Series trophy now."

I emailed a few friends of mine, Red Sox fans, at the time that the Yankees were just swapping one great offensive player for another, and that they didn't "add" another superstar (like they did with say, Reggie Jackson in 1977). And I also made mention another fact that a lot of people were overlooking at the time.

Alex Rodriguez can't pitch.

Funny that I didn't hear yesterday many Yankee fans recalling the great "swindle" the Yankees pulled off back on February 14, 2004, about how they broke the "hearts" (and on Valentine's Day) of Red Sox fans for the 10 millionth time. (Or so the BS at the time went on about.)

Yes, it was three years ago that Alex Rodriguez wore pinstripes for the first time, in a trade that at the time was compared to Babe Ruth being sold by the Red Sox to New York in 1920.

Haven't heard many A-Rod comparisons to the Babe lately, have you?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A's Claim DiNardo Off Waivers

The Lenny DiNardo Era in Boston officially came to a close today as the Oakland A's claimed the lefty off waivers today from the Red Sox. And more importantly, the Sox put J.D. Drew on the 40-man roster, so DiNardo was put on waivers to make room for him.

DiNardo was the first former Brooklyn Cyclones player to get a World Series ring, with the Sox in 2004. I remember seeing Lenny pitch at KeySpan Park back in 2001. The Red Sox originally got DiNardo from the Mets in the Rule V draft back in December 2003.

He ends his three-year Red Sox career with a record of 1-3, an ERA of 5.53 in 81.3 innings, and he appeared in 43 total games, 7 of them starts.

I do wish Lenny all the best in Oakland, as I hear he's a good guy.

He got his one and only Red Sox win last May 7th at Fenway Park against the Baltimore Orioles. I remember it well because I was in the stands at Fenway for that game last year.

I guess it's something I can tell the grandchildren about someday.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Trivia Q&A: February 13

We had 13 teams playing Trivia on Tuesday night, and I surprised there was such a turnout, as the weather had just begun to turn a bit nasty by the time we got under way. The category of Valentine's Day Trivia didn't go over very well, as only one team managed to get as many as 7 correct.

A team known as Yesterday's Winnerz ended up taking the prize (and apparently they won another contest on Monday too) by 6 points. They had the lead through most of the night, and cruised to a relatively easy win.

Next week I am planning on having both Presidential Trivia (for President's Day next Monday) and Oscar Trivia (Oscars will be happening the following Sunday). And of course, it will be on Tuesday night again, and for the forseeable future. I got a nice hand when I made that announcement last night...

Current Events
1. A recent poll of 1800 Americans named this iconic structure as America's favorite building.
2. There were no soccer matches in this European country last weekend due to the death of a police officer during a riot before a match.
3. A new dollar coin, with the image of this US president, will debut later this week.
4. This automotive company announced they plan to cut 1000 salaried jobs this year.
5. This New England university just selected its first female president in its long and storied history this week.
6. This group took Album, Record and Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards on Sunday.
7. Sen. Barack Obama was criticized by the prime minister of this country for his plan to possibly remove US troops from Iraq by March 2008.
8. This female pop singer, who's been trying to clean up her image, was seen vomitting in the back seat of her limo in the West Village on Saturday night.
9. Starrett City, the nation's largest government-subsidized housing complex, was sold for $1.3 billion. In which NYC borough is it located?
10. This film, which debuted last weekend, grossed $33 million and was number one at the box office this past week.

Answers: 1. Empire State Building; 2. Italy; 3. George Washington; 4. DaimlerChrysler; 5. Harvard; 6. Dixie Chicks; 7. Australia; 8. Britney Spears; 9. Brooklyn; 10. Norbit

Valentine's Day Trivia
1. 60% of all roses produced in the US are from which state? a. Washington; b. California; c. Florida; d. Texas.
2. In which year did the infamous Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago occur in? a. 1929; b. 1932; c. 1936; d. 1939.
3. How many Valentine's Day cards are exchanged worldwide every year? a. 100 million; b. 250 million; c. 600 million; d. 1 billion.
4. How many different Valentine's Day cards does Hallmark have? a. 1050; b. 1330; c. 1620; d. 1800.
5. In which Italian city did Shakespeare's lovers Romeo and Juliet live in? a. Rome; b. Venice; c. Verona; d. Florence.
6. Which rock star married Renate Blauel on Valentine's Day, 1984? a. Elton John; b. Rod Stewart; c. Simon LeBon; d. Alice Cooper.
7. What is the Greek word for Cupid, God of Love? a. Venus; b. Eros; c. Zeus; d. Aphrodite.
8. In which century was the first recorded Valentine sent? a. 12; b. 14; c. 15; d. 18.
9. What fruit is also known as "the love apple?" a. apple; b. grape; c. lemon; d. tomato
10. Which famous naval captain was murdered on Valentine's Day? a. James Cook; b. William Bligh; c. William Kidd; d. John Paul Jones.

Answers: 1. b; 2. a; 3. d; 4. b; 5. c; 6. a; 7. b; 8. c; 9. d; 10. a.

True or False Trivia

1. Mamas & Papas singer Cass Elliott died in London in 1974 by choking on a ham sandwich.
2. Buddy Ebsen was the original Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz, but had to bow out due to an illness he suffered due to the costume he wore.
3. FDR was the last president born in New York State.
4. Alan Smithee is the pseudonym used when a director wants to take his name off of a film.
5. Cameron Diaz tried out for the US archery team in 2000 Summer Olympics.
6. The federal flag code says the preferred way to dispose of an old US flag is to shred it.
7. This year's NBA All-Star Game will be played in a city without an NBA team: Las Vegas.
8. Russian president Vladimir Putin is actually a former KGB agent.
9. The Tigris River flows through the city of Teheran, Iran.
10. Gene Hackman was the one of first choices to play Mike Brady in the classic TV show, "The Brady Bunch."

Answers: 1. false, she died of a heart attack; 2. true; 3. true; 4. true; 5. false, Geena Davis did; 6. false, proper way is to burn it; 7. true; 8. true; 9. false, it flows through Baghdad; 10. true.

General Knowledge
1. Who was the last NFL team to win back-to-back Super Bowls?
2. Which ship did the Merrimack fight against in a famous Civil War naval battle?
3. A Star of David has how many points?
4. Quasimodo is the title character in which 1831 novel?
5. On which number key does the letter D appear on a standard touch-tone phone?
6. The organization known as "CREEP" was associated with which US political scandal?
7. The term "marathon" came from a messenger running between the city of Marathon and which other city?
8. George W. Bush was Time Magazine's Person of the Year in which year?
9. Which 1980s film featured the classic line, "wax on, wax off?"
10. What kind of books are called "bodice rippers?"

Answers: 1. New England Patriots; 2. Monitor; 3. six; 4. The Hunchback of Notre Dame; 5. 3; 6. Watergate; 7. Athens; 8. 2000; 9. The Karate Kid; 10. Romance novels.

Multiple Answers Trivia
1. Name 4 of the 6 smallest US states in population (2000 census).
2. Name 3 of the 5 most common surnames in the US (2000 census).
3. Name 3 of the top 6 chain restaurants in the US by sales (as of 2004).
4. Name 3 of the 6 most visited cities in the US by tourists (as of 2004).

Answers: 1. Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota, Delaware; 2. Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown, Jones; 3. McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Subway, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut; 4. New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, San Francisco, Las Vegas.

Alex Minasian Trio At Kitano Thursday

My buddy Alex Minasian will once again be playing at the Kitano Hotel this Thursday night with his Trio, playing the best of jazz standards. Alex is a very talented jazz piano player, as well as a fine trivia player and Red Sox fan. I've seen him play at the Kitano and it's an intimate room to see some fine jazz. I will be attendance and it should be a fine show.

Here are the details of Alex's gig:

Event Date:

Alex Minasian Trio- One Night Only

Performing at the Kitano, one of the Premier Jazz Rooms in NYC, the Alex Minasian Trio will be playing on Thursday, February 15. There will be two sets at 8:00pm and 9:45pm. There is no cover charge but there is a $10 minimum. The Kitano is located on 66 Park Ave, and 38th Street. Check out the web site:, for more details. 212-885-7119

Alex Minasian-Piano
Zaid Shukri- Bass
Yoron Israel-Drums

Site Meter Numbers Soaring

Yesterday I had 136 hits on my site, which is the most I've ever had without a special link. (The most I've ever had in one day was 338, when the web site Gawker linked a story I wrote about Tower Records.) Twice last week I had over 100 hits, and last Friday and Sunday I had over 90. For the longest time I averaged around 50-60 hits per day. In the grand scale of the blogosphere, that may not sound overly impressive, but the first goal for my blog was to get consistently over 100 hits per day. We've just about reached it.

I really enjoy checking Site Meter and seeing how people out there find my blog. (I also recently added a service called Google Analytics, and that's another fascianting breakdown of those who visit me online.) Lately the numbers have gone up due to people finding The Mighty Quinn Media Machine through Google Image searches.

For many months I was getting at least a dozen people a day through a picture of Paul McCartney I put up on his birthday last June. A celebrity picture web site in Spain (I believe) linked the picture to my site, so I get a lot of people finding my site, especially from Europe and other Spanish-speaking countries. But now, I'm getting people from a whole bunch of other photos I've put on my site. The most popular ones include:

The World Cup Trophy from June
The Ground Zero Cross
Johnny Damon's grand slam from 2004 ALCS Game 7
Gabe Kapler posing with the Red Sox championship trophy with his family
The logo of Liverpool FC
The flag raising picture from Iwo Jima
A picture of Fenway Park I put up last May
A picture of Citizens Bank Park I put up in January
An American flag I put up on Memorial Day

I also get plenty of folks out there finding me through regular Google searches. By far and away the most popular one is "The Mighty Quinn." I would guess most people doing that search are trying to find out something about either the hit song of the 1960s (my theme song, by the way) or the Denzel Washington film of the late 1980s. I also get people into my site who are trying to find the sports columnist from the New York Daily News who uses the same nickname. (And he's not related to me.)

Other popular Google/Yahoo/MSN/AOL searches that people land here are the following:

The Doug Mirabelli "Day in the Life" post
9/11 searches
Tower Records searches

"Countdown to Spring Training" searches
The "Tough" Super Bowl trivia question
Trivia and Professor Thom's searches
"Mighty Machine" searches (I get a lot of people from Canada with that one; I have no clue what it is either)
"Mighty John Quinn" (Canadian wrestler)

I also get plenty of people who come here via the links I have out there on other people's sites, plus many from the blog groups I belong to. (You can see them with their colorful icons at the bottom of the left-hand column.)

Well, whatever brings people to my site is a good thing. And I hope you all keep coming back...

Monday, February 12, 2007

Trivia Night Reminder

Just to remind all my readers and fans out there that Trivia Night will continue on Tuesday nights at Professor Thom's for the forseeable future. We were going to move to Mondays, but we were convinced that a move now would cause a number of regulars to have to pass on Trivia Night, so we will stay on Tuesday nights.

Tomorrow's edition will include a round of Valentine's Trivia, as well as the return of Multiple Answers Trivia, and True Or False Trivia. The weather is supposed to turn nasty tomorrow night, but I hope to see many of you then! (Next week will include Presidential Trivia, as well as Oscar Trivia.)

Happy Birthday Dom DiMaggio

A very happy 90th birthday today to one of the most underappreciated players in not just Red Sox but baseball history, Dom DiMaggio.

Dommie's still going strong at 90, dividing his time between homes in Massachusetts and Florida. He played with style and grace under the shadow of his more famous brother playing in New York. He was called "the Little Professor" because of the glasses he wore while playing. Here's his complete baseball record, courtesy of Baseball Reference:

He was a smart ballplayer, but he is also the consummate gentleman to everyone who knows him. Many feel he belongs in Baseball's Hall of Fame. Dan Shaughnessy wrote a nice article about him in yesterday's Boston Globe that's worth checking out.

A very Happy Birthday to ol' number 7. Here's hoping you have many more, Mr. DiMaggio.

Inquiring Mind Wants To Know

I religiously avoid watching the Grammy Awards every year, as I have despised them for years. They honor the worst of the no-talent bums of the music industry. (Do I have to mention Milli Vanilli here? I guess so.) As I was searching for something more intellectually stimulating to watch on TV last night like professional wrestling, I saw an extraordinary sight as I accidentally came across the show last night.

Was that actually Al Gore giving out an award last night? Al Gore? So what album has he released over the last year, "Global Warming's Greatest Hits" or some nonsense like that?

I couldn't help but think that was one of those "Adam Ant at Motown's 25th Anniversary" moments you see at these awards shows: somebody who has no business being anywhere near this show popping up. But since the Dixie Chicks won some major awards, I guess his presence last night does make some sense in a bizarre sort of way.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Join In The Protest: Sign The Petition

I found an online petition to keep the Extra Innings package on basic cable, instead of moving over to DirecTV and shutting out millions of their loyal fans. It was started by Dan Asnis, a Mets fan from South Brunswick, NJ. As I write this, they have gotten over 2300 online signatures, including myself. To sign the petition, follow this link:

Senator John Kerry is going to bat for the fans in trying to head this deal off. I don't know if he will be ultimately successful but I'm with him on this. My friend Ryan at called his cable company about the Extra Innings package and was basically told it's a done deal with DirectTV. There's an interesting article in the New York Times about it:

I was changing channels during the week and stumbled across the Mike and the Mad Dog Show on the YES network. (I do my best to avoid that noisefest whenever possible.) A caller from Albany brought up the Extra Innings possible move away from basic cable, but those two empty-headed morons, Francesa and Russo, basically wouldn't talk about it, because "Mets and Yankees fans in New York don't care about it." While many may not, there are plenty of fans here in New York who don't support the NY teams, as well as Mets and Yankees fans in other areas as well as those who live just outside of NY area who need the package to see their favorite teams.

That arrogant blowhard and the marble-mouth jackass just don't see the bigger issue here.

It's not about local New York fans not caring. (Many do, as I know plenty who have Extra Innings want to see as much baseball as they can.) It's about MLB yet again screwing over its loyal fans for a quick buck somewhere else. And MLB could very well be in violation of their Antitrust Exemption. I categorically refuse to switch over to satellite to get the package. I won't change my viewing habits that radically to appease MLB.

It would be nice if more politicians joined John Kerry in protesting this move. Make your voice heard by signing the petition. Is it too late? I hope not. But if it is, I'll be watching more Red Sox games at Professor Thom's this season.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A Guest Column: "Tower Of Song"

Today I turn my site over to an old friend of mine from my days at Tower Records in Greenwich Village, Danny Vogel. (That's Danny on the left at Tower in 1986.)

Danny and I worked at Tower together almost three years. It was a great time to be working at the store, as it was a great Greenwich Village hangout, and it was when CDs had just exploded into the American mainstream (and I was the store's pop CD buyer.)

We had not heard from each other in nearly eighteen years when Danny came back into my life through, what else, the Internet. Danny saw my articles about Tower, and he asked me if he could write something about our beloved late store. So today, I turn my web site over to my old friend, who currently lives in the Midwest and is married with two children. It's an extended article, but it's very well-written and I thank Danny for sharing his memories of a special place and time that will live in the memory of all of us who worked there.

Tower of Song by Danny Vogel (2007) (“Danny London” to those who knew me then)

I first joined the New York Tower Records crew in early 1985, two years after its appearance as the world’s largest record store (we were never sure if that meant largest in space, inventory or ego), but aware of its presence as the new kid on the Broadway block. I had never worked in retail before, but knowledgeable about popular music the interview process with Steve Harman, the manager, was a breeze. Steve gave me a brief speech about customer friendliness, hard work and honesty, and the job was mine a few minutes later. I walked my short trek home to Second Avenue and Fourteenth Street elated that I had landed a job at a record shop, which seemed like a dream come true, perhaps a tad pathological given the minimum wage I had just accepted. Oops, would I pay the rent? Of course, JUST, but would I have enough to eat? If necessary, I would eat pizza every day for this deluded rock’n’roll lifestyle, just like the other masochists I worked with. What I had not counted on during that walk home was the friendships I would be paid in full during my next three years.

For several weeks, it seemed the job consisted mostly of ensuring every record was appropriately placed behind its marked card in the Rock floor bins, and of assisting in stocking new arrivals dumped oddly near the elevator door. There was a certain comfort and pride each day maintaining an eighth of a mile of vinyl from Abba to ZZ Top. As time progressed, one became acquainted not only with every record’s artist, title and cover design, but its precise location in the Rock floor universe, stars in a vast musical cosmology. One would be insulted back then if accused of memorizing trivia - this was rock lore preserving our place in a future Fahrenheit 451.

When the new rock releases were deposited near the elevator in a hundred large cardboard boxes, we would flock like seagulls to a feast of crabs around them – the stars had entered the stadium. We removed our house keys and demonstrated the finely developed art of loudly popping the packing tape with their tips, then proudly swiping open the box tops with their serrated edges. Customers wishing to enter the elevator would have to step tactfully over records barely leaning against walls without crunching them and between islands of brown cartons. Rock’n’roll obstacle course.

There were several benefits to be had at the job. After the store’s manager had sifted through the promotional records provided for staff by labels to sample the merchandise, and had kept the best of the pickings himself, the rest were distributed to a dozen poorly paid minions in a decisively undemocratic manner – whomever was working the cash registers at the time would get to fight over the stash, often with paying customers waiting for the end of the ritual to complete their purchase. These promotional disks were highly prized. They could range from the biggest releases of the year by U2 or Talking Heads to more obscure independent, and often more interesting, items.

I hope I did my share to promote independent music in America by actually listening closely to these freebies at home, then recommending that the rock buyer order at least half a dozen of the more original ones. Because we were flat broke most days of the week (except on the evening of pay day, when large sums were spent in restaurants, bars and inexplicably, on records purchased from one’s site of employment), it was certainly understandable if not even forgivable that we at times sold our promotional gifts for three dollars a piece at the large second-hand record store on St. Marks Place. Dinner, pure and simple. A small crime when you consider that the buyers often had armfuls of platters that they sold for over a hundred dollars at a time. Being a buyer elevated your social status in the shop, as well as your chances of economic survival, considerably.

So when the position of import buyer opened, I grabbed it forthwith, not difficult given my English accent. I was often chastised for exceeding our budget in import orders, however most of the records always sold. I scrutinized the pages of the New Musical Express and took home promotional copies of independent music journals to make lengthy lists of interesting records from abroad to order (abroad meant mostly Europe, New Zealand, Canada and Australia as the other continents were covered by the International section upstairs on the Classical and Jazz floor). Naturally, I ordered everything I liked for sure, so the section was often flooded by releases from such labels as 4AD, Factory, Creation, Fiction, Mute and so on. But I also took pains to include more obscure releases that I read about in the music press.

I shall never forget the day I overordered the imported Smiths’ Hatful of Hollow album as it did not appear to ever be slated for domestic release. Such a practice was naturally frowned upon by the label domestically releasing other records of the band. However, in only a few brief days, several hundred of them vanished like hotcakes as I had placed them without prior approval among the new releases that were piled high to the right as one walked into the store. I was immensely proud to have gotten away with this guerrilla act, and some days after this I discovered that the sales of records from our store were deemed to represent something like seventeen percent of sales nationwide in numerous sales charts. I had thus inadvertently hyped the Smiths into the American charts. I have yet to receive a call inviting me for a drink with Morrissey. Indeed, my Hatful of Hollow bin was my own import version of the rock buyer’s bin of Madonna albums, not selling anywhere near that buyer’s domestic smash hits, but in my miniscule domain, as big as it got compared to sales of Ivor Cutler.

The manager of this gigantic store possessed the power with labels to engage in a little nepotism by putting a few of us, his children, on the guest list for rock shows now and then. I fondly recall seeing a host of the independent bands that rose to prominence in the 1980s, such as Nick Cave, Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Fall or Sonic Youth.

The import buyer was actually supposed to order additionally the so-called New Music (strangely placed separately from the U.S. Independent records that shared space with the major labels), Electronic and Gospel records. I pretty much let the customers inform me about what to place in the Gospel section that I noticed upon my arrival had been gathering spider webs. One day an irate writer for a gospel magazine, barely able to suppress his anger while spraying me with spittle, informed me that there were no classic gospel artists in my section at all. I was not greatly surprised, as there were hardly any records in that section full stop. He promised to subscribe me gratis to his magazine forthwith. Upon receiving his journal each month, I would slowly turn its pages while standing near my gospel section, and make lists of all artists either advertised, reviewed or simply mentioned. Half a year later the section grew from a dozen artists to over a hundred. I never did write back to the irate gospel journalist to inform him a year later that my now nicely stacked section was moving at a snail’s pace, barely five records a week, and to enquire if he would mind coming over to spend a few hundred dollars on it?

An anarchic party atmosphere ruled almost constantly on the rock and mezzanine floors (the latter housed the twelve-inch singles - the big-sellers on that floor – as well as “my” small-sellers of reggae, new music, gospel and electronic albums). We would all pressure the twelve-inch buyer, who was posted closest to the shop’s record player, to air music guaranteed to punish the innocent soul who entered the building and who had to pass through Rock to get to Classical or Jazz. The Sex Pistols album and the soundtrack to the film Repo Man were among the more brutal yet glorious favorites, guaranteed to send many of us into fits of loud sing-alongs and punches into the air that managed miraculously not to box customers’ ears. Managers strongly disapproved of such musical choices, which disapprovals produced ripples of cheekish and certainly childish joy amongst us. Luddites who would never dream of putting hammers to precious vinyl.

The managers had to count the tills after each shift. I was once asked to perform such a rite of passage to the inner sanctorum. It kept me from sure promotion as I had no intention of spending my days sitting in a room the size of a small closet completely filled with cigarette smoke adding up bills, checks and change, although for many managers such accounting even in lung-inhospitable conditions provided sacred time away from the floors, insulated from the stress imposed upon them by bigger fish.

There existed a strong camaraderie among the coworkers that I will always cherish. I made many close pals at Tower. Many of us who were not even friends hung out with each other on a frequent basis – chatting outside the shop on cigarette breaks or upstairs in the employee lounge, attending gigs together that had us listed as guests, taking lunch locally in nearby squares and open spaces, just hanging out on “stoops” staring at crazy New Yorkers like crazy New Yorkers. Penniless, we somehow managed to share our change and eek out food and drink, including alcoholic beverages carried in brown paper bags, sipped through straws. Few of us were actually seeking a career at Tower. We were passing through between high school or college to later professions, just kids in our twenties glued by friendship and a youthful attraction to poverty and music.

Famous musicians often passed through Tower. One of my rituals was to accost them with what I deemed their “classic” release and have them autograph them with reference to my name (“For Danny”). To this day, I still have them framed on my wall – “For Danny” signed upon Lou Reed’s “Berlin,” Iggy Pop’s “The Idiot,” and Siouxsie’s “The Scream,” among my favorites. Once I spied Yoko Ono with a security entourage walking down the stairs. Lickety-split I managed to get hold of the 7” single of “Power to the People.” I am looking up at the signed item before me on the wall as I type these words (“To Dan, Love, Yoko Ono, NYC, ‘85”).

Tower was a major cultural center in Greenwich Village. Lonely people would drop in to chat with us employees and to succumb to the lure of musical vinyl, while couples meeting for a date would similarly wait in the warmth of our store while flicking through record titles and listening to music rather than wait somewhere outside in the city. Hardly a soul came in on Christmas Day, but a few really had nowhere else to go (including us employees, who volunteered to work at double pay in alarming numbers). The Greenwich Village Tower had a reputation for stocking independent and foreign bands that were hard to find elsewhere. It was a sort of Ellis Island for the immigrant explosion of new wave bands emerging from both American towns as well as from across the Atlantic. The television screens would often broadcast MTV around the clock, and had done so from its very first airing of “Video Killed The Radio Star,” thus to a large extent introducing that exemplary though vacuous cultural TV icon to its first audience on the East Coast. Rarely did MTV get interrupted, although there were many times the volume was turned down so we could play records. The only scandalous time I remember MTV taking second –place to another TV station was when the Challenger liftoff was broadcast in early 1986, leading both us employees and a mass of customers to observe some minutes later, necks craned upward as though to the skies, the horrific and tragic explosion that took place in them.

The mid- to late-80s Greenwich Village Tower was run by an unusual grouping of eccentric, talented and special people who left behind memories most of us still spend some of our lives lost in. A paragraph that was written in this space describing my memories and feelings about the people themselves was deemed too personal and was promptly deleted, akin to the traumatized who try hard in vain to erase the painful past by frantically looking away. Perhaps those recollections will be shared another day with Tower veterans, or by me in a future article on this site when I have accepted the appropriateness of revealing them. Having moved to Chicago, I still found myself occasionally haunting the local Tower, disappointedly, as though in search of characters and memories frozen in another place and time. Many of us worked there not only in the formative years of that store, but also in our own developmental formative early adulthood. We were just babies then. Many of us find it hard to recall those days without mixed emotions of both warming joy and aching sadness or longing. The news of the New York store closing in late 2006 pulled those feelings back up again, and provided a far more real closure to that chapter in our lives than we may have been prepared to face, even for those of us who did not step foot there in 20 years.

“Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey/I ache in the places where I used to play/And I’m crazy for love but I’m not coming on/I’m just paying my rent every day/Oh in the tower of song.”

(Tower of Song by Leonard Cohen, 1988)

Friday, February 09, 2007

Back Up "The Truck"

Here's an optimistic note that the 2007 baseball season is right around the corner, especially for a cold winter's Friday night as this.

The Truck is leaving Fenway on Monday.

The annual ritual of the moving van that packs equipment at Fenway Park and travels to Ft. Myers is set to leave Boston on Monday, and that will be the same day that Daisuke Matsuzaka will report to camp, ahead of all other pitchers.

Here's the story from today's Boston Globe:

In what has become a sure sign that spring is just around the corner in Boston, "Truck Day" will finally arrive on Monday.

The Red Sox confirmed today that the team's equipment truck will leave Fenway Monday at approximately 1:00 p.m. to begin the 1,480-mile journey to the team's spring training facility in Fort Myers, Fla.

According to the Sox press release today, the truck will depart from Fenway Park at the players’ parking lot entrance on Van Ness St. The truck will be followed in procession by Fenway ambassadors, Red Sox staff, and Wally the Green Monster tossing gifts to fans from a flat-bed truck.

Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, currently in Orange County, Calif., is expected to report to Fort Myers on Monday as well, four days before the reporting date for pitchers and catchers. The first workout is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 18.

Top 10 Favorite Albums

I haven't written too much on my blog here lately about baseball, but that will soon change, as pitchers and catchers begin reporting for spring training a week from today. I figured that during the off season, I would write about other sports and other things in my life. But the Red Sox and baseball are still a priority here.

We will finally get above 32 degrees here in New York today for the first time in one week. This cold stretch has left me with the beginnings of a nasty cold that I feel will be hanging around for a while.

Global warming, my ass.

Now on to the gist of this post. My friend Eddie in Maryland sent me his list of his Top 10 albums of all-time. I had wanted to write a few Top 10 lists of all different topics this winter, but something was always popping up and I kept putting it off. So I've given it some careful consideration, and here is my official list of the 10 albums I could not do without. (There are generally in no specific order, except for number one.)

1. The Beatles, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." The greatest album ever made, bar none. I would guess it's on most people's lists, but this is the album that literally rewrote pop music. Every song on the album has its own backstory. "Sgt Pepper Reprise/A Day In the Life" is one of my all-time favorite songs.

2. Steely Dan, "Aja." I am a HUGE Steely Dan fan, and there are so many great albums form them (I am limiting myself to one album per artist on this list). I could have put "The Royal Scam," "Gaucho" or "Countdown To Ecstacy" on this list, but "Aja" made a big fan. I never, ever get tired of listening to it.

3. The Dave Brubeck Quartet, "Time Out." I'll never forget back in 1988 when one of my friends at Tower got a promo cassette of this album and he gave it to me, and I was hooked. This was the album that got me interested in jazz, especially from the 1950s and 1960s. Still sounds fresh and contemporary, and ol' Dave is still doing concerts at the ripe old age of 87.

4. Pink Floyd, "Meddle." Pink Floyd is like Steely Dan to me in that I could have put a number of different albums here, but "Meddle" is my favorite. Side Two is one long song called "Echoes," but side one is just superb. "Fearless" always gives me the chills when I hear the Liverpool soccer fans singing "You'll Never Walk Alone."

5. The Bill Evans Trio, "Everybody Digs Bill Evans." My second favorite jazz album, and after the first time I heard it, I got a number of Bill's other albums (fortunately the company I worked for distributed most his catalog, so I got them gratis). He was one of the great piano players of all-time, and died way too young. "Peace Piece" is one of my favorite solo piano songs.

6. Talking Heads, "Stop Making Sense." I'm not a huge fan of live albums, but this is probably my favorite live album of all-time. (Peter Frampton, Dire Straits and Joe Cocker's live albums are close.) I also loved the movie, especially when David Byrne puts on his white "big suit." BTW, Whatever happened to David Byrne? (I used to see him at Tower Records in the Village all the time when I worked there.)

7. Dire Straits, "Brothers In Arms." Another of my all-time favorite bands, and I've always thought that Mark Knopfler was one of the most underrated guitarists of all-time. I saw the band in 1992 live and Mark solo in 2005. I wish they would make another album together at some point.

8. Chicago, "Chicago Transit Authority." Chicago's first and best album. Very underappreciated, and maybe one of the best debut albums ever. I was a big Chicago fan until they transformed themselves into a drippy, easy-listening band.

9. Traffic, "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys." I still love to put this album on, especially when working on my computer (like right now). I still love Steve Winwood's vocals, especially on this album. The title track is another one of my all-time favorite songs.

10. John Lennon, "John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band." John's first solo album after the Beatles split, and it's one of the most powerful albums ever recorded. John lets it all fly here, and songs like "Mother," "Love" and "God" are nothing short of haunting. I can never get through this album without a tear in my eye.

I know I've left some great ones out, but that about wraps it up for now. Hopefully I'll have some more Top 10 lists to share with you soon.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

One Of The 1379

I love checking out my Site Meter to see how people find my site. Since I have the words "Mighty Quinn" in my site name, I get a ton people who find me through a Mighty Quinn Internet search. The majority of those people are trying to find something connected with the famous song or the Denzel Washington movie from 1988. (Although I would like to think many of them were actually looking for me.)

The other day I noticed a couple of people found my site through a search of "Mighty John Quinn." Again, they apparently weren't looking for my site per se, But I discovered just who they were actually looking for.

"Mighty" John Quinn is actually a professional wrestler from the 1970s who was from Canada, and did a lot of wrestling throughout the world (pictured on the right). Apparently when he wrestled in the US, he went under the name "The Kentucky Butcher." (I can't say I remember him at all.)

I found his page from the Canadian Wrestling Hall of Fame, and I have to admit I enjoyed reading it, especially from his time when he wrestled in England, and he was also known as "Big" John Quinn as well:

"Big" John Quinn
Very successful wrestler in Canada in the 70s who became world heavyweight champion in England in the 80s. Wrestled as the Kentucky Butcher in the WWWF in the 70s and had some title shots against Bruno Sammartino. His nine Canadian tag championships in Vancouver include 4 reigns with Bob Brown, one with Kurt Von Hess, whith whom he also won the IWA World tag title in Japan, and one with Don Leo Jonathan in 1978.

"In the left corner, the man they love to hate -- the Mighty Quinn, a 32-year-old Canadian. He's 6ft 4in tall and weights 20 stone 10 lb. His hobby -- eating the British for breakfast. John Quinn is desperate to be the best because he really HATES the British. During his five months in Britain, Quinn says he has become disgusted with us -- especially with the wrestling audiences." (From REVEILLE, June 15, 1979)

Prominent Titles:
9-time Canadian tag champion (Vancouver), 1970-78
3-time Stampede North American champion, 1971, 74
Mid-South North American champion, as The Stomper, 1972
Mid-South Brass Knucks champion, as The Stomper, 1972
Stampede International tag champion, with Mr. Hito, 1975
2-time Pacific Coast champion (Vancouver), 1976, 78
IWF tag champion (Japan), with Kurt Von Hess, 1977
2-time World heavyweight champion (England), 1980-85

I had to emphasize that part about how much "John Quinn hates the British" because I am known to be something of an Anglophile myself. I believe Mr. Quinn is still around, attending a lot of wrestling conventions, and he's still well-known among the Canadian wrestling fans.

Speaking of John Quinns, I found a site online courtesy of my friend Michael Leggett called "How Many Of Me." There you can find out how many people in the USA have the same name as yourself, as well as just your first and last names. I recently went over to that site ( and discovered that as of the 2000 US Census, there are 1,379 guys named John Quinn currently living in the US (the number could be different of course due to new John Quinns being born and other John Quinns dying).

There are also 83,991 people in America named Quinn (395th most popular surname), and 4,923,984 people named John, which is the second most popular given name in the country. But I found it VERY curious that 99.63% of all people named John are male. Does that mean that there are actually WOMEN in the US with the first name John? That would mean there are approximately 18,200 women in the US named John. (That's as bad as boy named Sue.) I can't say I've ever heard of, let alone met, a woman named John.

I got the name John from my father, and my great uncle, both John Quinns as well. (I'm not a "junior" though, as my dad and I have different middle names.)

There are a few famous John Quinns running around out there. The current mayor of Bowling Green, Ohio and a congressman from Buffalo are named John Quinn. Currently there is a children's fiction author, as well as a screenwriter/director with my name. There was a famous pitcher in the early 20th century named Jack Quinn, but his real name was John Quinn Picus. The Phillies GM many years ago was John Quinn, and the man who Tom Yawkey bought the Red Sox from in 1933 was J. Robert Quinn, who's first name was John. (And he bought the Sox originally in 1923 from the infamous Harry Frazee.)

Yep, a "John Quinn" once owned the Red Sox. But it was during the 1920s, the worst stretch in their long and storied history.

If you go to Google and type in "John Quinn," 677,000 possibilities will come up. So when I write I also use my middle name, which is Brian. It can be a bit difficult to have a relatively common name at times.

I have to try to stand out from all those other run-of-the-mill John Quinns somehow.