Sunday, October 29, 2006

In an unusual coincidence, three old Steagles game programs are currently listed on eBay: Steagles vs. Giants, Steagles vs. Bears, and Steagles vs. Packers. (The seller of the last program erroneously places the game at Franklin Field; it was actually played at Shibe Park.)

As I discuss in my book, World War II-era NFL programs are relatively rare. Since paper was in short supply, few were printed in the first place. And of those that were, many were recycled. Anyway, I think these programs are pretty neat, but far too rich for my blood!

(For what it’s worth, two copies of my book are also listed on eBay right now, and for considerably less than the Steagles programs.)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Allyson and I had our first golf lesson Friday afternoon. It was a steamy 96 degrees, and the instructor didn’t speak English, but we still managed to enjoy ourselves. Allyson hit the ball pretty well, and by the end of the lesson I was putting the ball on the green pretty consistently from 75 yards away (much to my surprise). Our next lesson is in two weeks. … Friday night was Halloween for the kids at the American school here. We probably had a hundred or more trick-or-treaters, mostly American kids, but some Canadian, French, and Dutch as well. The Malian kids in our neighborhood seemed confused by the whole enterprise at first, but they figured things out pretty quickly, and by the end of the night they had all stopped by our house for their treats. Some had even managed to fashion costumes. … My agent has given me the go-ahead to work on a new book proposal. The story involves Harry Truman, so I will have to go to the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri (near Kansas City) to do some research, probably for two or three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If anybody knows anybody in that area who might be willing to rent me a room while I’m there, please let me know!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Last night on ESPN, baseball analyst John Kruk described the speedy New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes as "a guy who can literally fly." Yet the Mets still lost the pennant. Go figure. ... Last week I mentioned how disappointed I was that my fantastic new book failed to win the Nobel Prize. Well, one of my faithful readers has informed me that my book wasn't even eligible for the Nobel this year. It, will, however, be eligible next year. So let the campaigning begin: Last Team Standing for a Nobel in '07! ... Congratulations to my sister-in-law, Elise Kauzlaric, who is appearing in "King Lear" at the Goodman Theater in Chicago. The New York Times' review of the play even includes a picture of her. Very cool.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Yet another Steagle has passed away: Ernie Steele died at his home in Seattle on Monday. He was 88. Click here, here, and here for obituaries.

Ernie played seven seasons in Philadelphia, and he was a member of the Eagles’ first championship team in 1948. After that season, he retired from football and returned to his native Seattle, where he opened a cocktail lounge/restaurant called Ernie Steele’s. What a place that was! (I speak from personal experience.) Sadly, it did not survive Seattle’s gentrification; Ernie sold the business in 1993.

I interviewed Ernie (and his wife Jo) at their Seattle home in the summer of 2005. Ernie was a perfect gentleman, and, although he wasn’t feeling well, he answered all my questions with infinite patience and good humor. He was a good man.

Ernie is the third Steagle to die in less than a month. Just five remain. God bless them all.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

My first Customer Review has been posted on Amazon. Fortunately, it's a very positive one. Thank you, “Polymath” in Ithaca (whoever you are).

It would be great to get a few more reviews like that posted on Amazon (hint, hint).

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Well, once again, I’ve been screwed out of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Don’t get me wrong: I love Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk. After all, he deals with issues of identity and clashing cultures (much as I do), and he once faced a criminal charge for discussing some of his country’s most painful episodes. (I once faced a charge of agricultural vandalism for doing doughnuts in a soybean field, but I guess that’s different.) Anyway, props to Orhan, but, really, hasn’t the Nobel process become entirely too political when the unknown author of an obscure, minor work like mine doesn’t even stand a chance?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Well, I’m back in Bamako. Arrived last Thursday night after a relatively uneventful 25-hour trip. It’s great to be back, of course, but after the excitement of publication and the “book tour,” I am feeling a bit of a letdown. A touch of post-partum depression, so to speak. Anyway, I need to come up with a new book idea to occupy my time (suggestions gratefully accepted).

Steelers owner Dan Rooney “raved” about my book, according to his personal assistant, Jan Rusnak. Rusnak e-mailed me because Rooney wanted to send Ted Doyle’s family a note of condolence and needed an address. The Steelers really are a first-class organization from top to bottom.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Another Steagle has passed away: Ted Doyle, the team’s starting right tackle, died yesterday (Friday, October 6). He was 92. A funeral service will be held at the Presbyterian Church in Fairbury, Nebraska, on Monday, October 9.

Ted was one of the oldest living Steelers. He played eight seasons for the team. In 1938, his rookie year, one of his teammates was future Supreme Court Justice Byron “Whizzer” White, and his head coach was the legendary Johnny Blood.

In 1943, the season the Steelers merged with the Eagles to form the Steagles, Ted worked fulltime in a Westinghouse factory in East Pittsburgh, taking the train to Philadelphia on Saturday nights for home games. Ted retired from football after the 1945 season and returned to his native Nebraska. He managed a bowling alley for a time, then worked for an agricultural products company.

I was fortunate enough to meet Ted in the summer of 2005 when I interviewed him for my book. He and his wife Harriet were simply a joy to meet. Without their cooperation and support, I wouldn’t have been able to write the book.

Ted is the second Steagle to pass away in a little more than two weeks; Vic Sears died on September 21. Just six Steagles remain: Bucko Kilroy, Allie Sherman, Al Wistert, Ernie Steele, Ray Graves, and Jack Hinkle.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The interview I taped last month at WUWM in Milwaukee ran today on the station’s daily magazine program, Lake Effect. (You can listen to it by clicking here.) I thought it sounded pretty good (except for the fact that I had a bad cold at the time), and in the four hours after it ran, my book’s ranking on leapt from 32,000-something to 6,000-something. Many thanks to Lake Effect executive producer (and Close Personal Friend) Mitch Teich, not only for making the interview possible, but also for giving me a place to stay while I was in Milwaukee.

Nothing much planned in the way of promotion for the next couple days, and on Wednesday I fly back to Bamako.