Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A reader from Kansas sent me Bess Truman's recipe for frozen lemon pie. It was in one of his mom's cookbooks. Bess thought the pie was a "perfect dessert for a bridge luncheon." So I made it. Well, actually Allyson made it. (For the complete recipe, click here.)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Maratona di Roma/Rome Marathon, 21 Mar. 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Given my fascination with obscure historical events, I’ve always been curious about the Renaming of the Phillies That Didn’t Stick. Legend has it that after Bob Carpenter bought the Phillies in 1943, he renamed the team the Blue Jays, but the new moniker never caught on and was eventually dropped.

The other day (while I should have been doing something more productive), I found this AP article in the March 24, 1944 edition of the Lowell (Mass.) Sun, which (sort of) explains what happened. Here’s the gist of it:

In the winter of 1943-44, the Phillies held a contest to select a new “emblem” for the team. (What their old emblem was, or if they even had one, I have no idea.) The team received “over 5,000 letters proposing over 630 different emblems,” as well as a “healthy-sized stack of mail” from fans urging the team to remain the Phillies.

Apparently there was (and still is) some confusion as to whether the team was changing its name – or just adopting a new emblem. I believe it was the latter. Bob Carpenter never intended to change the team’s name; he was just looking for (as we say today) “better branding.”

Carpenter decided the new emblem would be a blue jay. And here’s where things get truly Philliesesque. It turns out there was a popular medication for corns and bunions called Blue Jay. (Here’s another ad.) This naturally led to much joking at the Phillies’ expense, which probably explains why, just before spring training began in 1944, Carpenter went out of his way to make it clear that the Phillies would remain the Phillies – and the blue jay was just an emblem.

In 1944 and again in 1945, the Phillies did wear this blue jay patch (or one much like it) on their uniforms. But after that it seems the rare Philadelphia blue jay flew away and was never seen again.

It was gratifying to see Genesis inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last night. Hopefully their induction will pave the way for Yes to be inducted, and soon. The hall has a clear bias against "progressive rock" bands. King Crimson also deserves induction. But first things first: The absence of Yes is criminal, particularly in light of some of the other inductees. Seriously, take a look at the list. It includes the Shirelles, Earth, Wind and Fire, Blondie, Grandmaster Flash, the Ronettes – you get the picture. Fine acts all, but Rock and Roll Hall of Fame material? I don’t think so.

Yes is worthy of mockery. The indecipherable lyrics, the album-side-long songs, the personnel changes so numerous they would fill a hundred pages of the Congressional Register. But, based on any single criterion – musicianship, songwriting, radio airplay, record sales, longevity, touring, influence – Yes deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And until they are, I won’t go. Not that anybody cares. But still...

(Incidentally, I took these pictures at a Yesshow in Anaheim in 2004. Woo hoo!)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Nice to see Frances Cleveland (Grover's wife) get a mention in Walter Scott's Personality Parade in today's Parade magazine. But Walter (if that's his real name) missed an opportunity to tell a great story: Around 1947, Frances attended a dinner in Washington and was seated next to Dwight Eisenhower. Her place card said "Mrs. Thomas Preston," her name from her second marriage. Ike had no idea who she was until, at one point in the conversation, he said he was considering moving to Washington.

"Oh," Frances said, "I used to live in Washington."

"Really?" said Ike. "Where?"

"1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."

That's when Ike realized he was seated next to Mrs. Grover Cleveland!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Here's an interesting article about the impact e-books are having on traditional book sales. Incidentally, it mentions HTEA...

Thanks to the blog Book Discussion With Myself for posting a very nice review of HTEA!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Here's a video my friend Neil made. (I helped him a very little bit.) It's a recipe for an Italian soup. I can attest that it's squisito!

Pasta e Ceci is a deliciously thick Italian soup that consists of pasta and chickpeas. This video demonstrates how to make it at home using an easy to follow recipe with commonly found ingredients. Buon appetito!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

A visit to the cat sanctuary in Rome, 6 March 2010. The private sanctuary cares for more than 200 stray and abandoned cats among the ancient ruins at Torre Argentina. For more information or to make a contribution, visit its website at www.romancats.com.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A couple people have asked me about the story behind this picture. The truth is, there isn't much of one. I was working as a reporter at KWMU, the public radio station in St. Louis, and Kurt Vonnegut came in to appear on a program that was hosted by an old friend of his (Joe Pollack). He (K.V.) came into the newsroom and introduced himself to everybody. It was a very nice gesture. (That's my colleague Bill Raack, now KWMU's news director, in the middle.) Fortunately KWMU had a photographer on hand to capture the moment. Though as somebody pointed out to me, I should've taken my other hand out of my pocket...
Shaking hands with Kurt Vonnegut, St. Louis, circa 1997.