Unleash the flying monkeys
Life is like watching a bad movie.
I often have no idea what is going on.
I visited with a fellow named Shane recently. I asked him if he’d ever seen the old western movie, “Shane.” That movie starred Alan Ladd and is famous for the line, “Shane! Come back!”
How could you not watch a movie bearing your name?
I enjoy listening to Paul Simon’s song, “You Can
Call Me Al.” I lend an ear in support of others sharing my forename.
I like movies that move me. Not like a laxative, but films that tell a story and make me laugh, cry, learn, think or feel like Scrooge McDuck taking a leisurely swim in a pool of gold coins. “The Godfather,” “Forest Gump,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Casablanca,” “Citizen Kane,” “The Big Lebowski,” “Groundhog Day,” “Michael,” “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” the Pink Panther series, “Lincoln,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” and many others are among my cinematic darlings. They all entertain, but my favorite varies with the day.
Growing up, it appeared that “The Wizard of Oz” was everyone’s favorite. The 1939 film was nominated for six Academy Awards, but lost Best Picture to “Gone with the Wind.” It won the hearts of millions when it made its TV debut in 1956, becoming an annual tradition for many to gather around the TV and watch the tale of a girl (Dorothy Gale, played by 16-year-old Judy Garland) and her dog Toto traveling the Yellow Brick Road. Judy Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Toto was a female Cairn terrier named Terry. Toto was paid $125 a week, which was more than many of the Munchkin actors received. In L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” written in Chicago not Kansas, Dorothy’s slippers were silver. The color was changed to ruby in order to take advantage of Technicolor. Flavored Jell-O powder was used to color the horses for the Emerald City scenes. The horses attempted to lick themselves clean. Baum got the name Oz from his filing cabinet when he found himself looking at a filing cabinet. The three drawers were marked,
A to G, H to N, and O to Z. Oz was born.
Margaret Hamilton played the Wicked Witch of the West and was depicted as an old hag. Hamilton was only 36 years old at the time, while her on-screen nemesis, the more beautiful Glinda the Good Witch of the North (played by Billie Burke) was 54. Hamilton’s face stayed green for weeks after the filming was finished due to copper-based ingredients in her makeup.
Ray Bolger (The Scarecrow), Bert Lahr (The Cowardly Lion) and Jack Haley (The Tin Man) ate in their dressing rooms during breaks because their costumes frightened diners in the MGM cafeteria. Their characters had respectively, no brain, no courage and no heart. They were like Congressmen not allowed to operate heavy equipment. The Cowardly Lion costume, made from real lion pelts, weighed 90 pounds. After the Scarecrow got his brain, he stated the Pythagorean Theorem incorrectly. He was grasping at straws. Buddy Ebsen (who played Jed Clampett on “The Beverly Hillbillies”) was the first choice for the Tin Man, but he suffered from an allergic reaction to the aluminum dust in his makeup.
The tornado in the film was created with a 35-foot-long muslin stocking that was spun while dirt, dust and wind blew against it. The Kansas farm was a miniature. The scenes of Dorothy’s house falling from the sky were captured by dropping a miniature prop onto a painting of the sky.
The movie gave us many catchphrases (“There’s no place like home,” “It’s a twistah! It’s a twistah!” “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” “What would you do with a brain if you had one?” “Lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh, my!” “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain,” “Are you a good witch or a bad witch?” “I’m melting,” and “I’ll get you my pretty and your little dog, too!”), plus timeless songs like “Over the Rainbow” “If I Only Had a Brain” and “We’re Off to See the Wizard.”
Not all movies are well done. Special effects have replaced plot, character development, dialogue and flying monkeys.
The Wizard of Oz could have been describing a
bad movie when he said, “You billowing bale of
Not every film is my Oz nor should it be.
© Al Batt 2017
Don’t Bet on It
So it’s going to happen after all: Floyd Mayweather
(49-0) will take on Conor McGregor (0-0) Aug. 26 at
the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The fight will be historic on several levels. If Mayweather wins, he will have a 50-0 record, breaking the 49-0 tie he now shares with Rocky Marciano. Also, it likely will be the highest grossing fight in history, pulling in well north of $600 million when you factor in merchandising and licensing.
Vegas odds have Mayweather as the 6-1 favorite, but 90 percent of the action has been on McGregor, according to Caesar’s Palace. My advice to any sane person? Don’t bet on it. I see the fight working itself out in the following scenarios:
1. Floyd toys with McGregor for 3-4 rounds before viciously knocking him out in the 5th or 6th;
2. McGregor is disqualified for kicking or doing
3. The ref stops the fight for humane reasons because McGregor won’t go down, and;
4. Floyd slips on McGregor’s blood and McGregor catches him with a hard left and knocks Mayweather out, scoring the greatest upset in sports history.
That’s my take. Here are a few other educated takes:
Sugar Ray Leonard: “It’s boxing, the dominant boxer wins ... they say it’s gonna make a mockery out of [boxing], I don’t think so ... not one fight.” (TMZ Sports)
Mike Tyson: “McGregor doesn’t win in a boxing match ... [he’s] going to look really ridiculous boxing him.” (Sirius XM Channel 93)
Oscar De La Hoya: “McGregor is not a boxer. And he’s going up against the best boxer on the planet? In our generation? Against Mayweather? And he’s 0-0? It’s impossible! I couldn’t beat him!”
Max Kellerman, boxing analyst: “The lack of respect for the discipline is astonishing. He’s been doing this since he was a baby. The idea that Conor McGregor can win is absurd. Mayweather will be able to hit McGregor anywhere he pleases, whenever he pleases ... [he will KO McGregor] whenever he wants, however he wants.”
Joe Rogan, UFC announcer: “[McGregor] is fighting one of the best if not the best boxer ever. Most likely this is not going to work out well for him. The only way it could work out well is if Floyd takes him lightly and Conor clips him, Conor mugs him, Conor does some old-school Bernard Hopkins [stuff] in the clinch.”
Jim Lampley: “McGregor’s style is exactly the wrong style for fighting Floyd Mayweather. He’s not an attacker; he’s a counterpuncher ... I’m a hundred percent certain the boxer is going to win.”
(Fight Hub TV)
Whenever you enter the ring, the other guy always has a puncher’s chance. A fluke left out of nowhere? It’s happened before. You never know. Think Rocky and Apollo. By the way, what does Rocky think?
Sylvester Stallone (Rocky): “Mayweather would be facing first-degree murder charges [after the fight]. It wouldn’t even be fair.”
I wouldn’t bet on that either, but we’ll see soon enough.
Mark Vasto is a veteran sportswriter who lives in New Jersey.
© 2017 King Features Synd., Inc.
The Best Of Jerry
A Lady with a Baby!
Maury, the next time you come to Mario’s you’ll meet Art Allen, another great friend of Grandpa’s. He has been taking me to Mario’s every Friday since Duke passed away and recently moved to Hazel Green, Wisconsin. Just the name of this town suddenly triggered a “bizarre” memory of Grandpa’s. Maury,
this is what happened about thirty five years ago:
I had been working in Cuba City and was driving back to Dubuque by way of Hazel Green. Suddenly, I saw a man on the right side of the road waving his hands apparently in distress. Upon stopping he said he had a flat tire while driving his wife to the Hazel Green hospital (which isn’t there anymore) as she was ready to deliver her baby and asked would I take her there!
I immediately said yes and after he quickly helped his wife get into the front seat of my car informed me
“to go ahead” as he was going to fix his flat tire!!
While speeding to the hospital, reality set in! I suddenly realized I was escorting a woman I didn’t know who could have her baby any moment. I asked her if this was her first and she calmly said: “No, I’ve had three previously.” She was much calmer than I!
I should explain, Maury, entering Hazel Green from
that direction, (at least at that time) to get to the hospital one took a blacktop road that angled off to the left.
Just as I did, a tractor hitched to a wagon loaded with corn was backed up to the local feed mill blocking the entire road! After stopping I immediately yelled to a guy standing by the tractor: “Move it! I have a lady who’s about to have a baby and I’m not kidding! At first the guy just stared at me and then (it must have been the desperate look on my face!) he unhooked the tractor moving it to clear my way.
About two minutes later I arrived at the hospital where two nurses were standing by and I “gratefully” let them take over!!
Much love, Grandpa
1. In 2016, the New York Mets’ Bartolo Colon became the oldest major-league pitcher (42) to hit his first career home run. Who had been the oldest?
2. Who played more seasons for his only major-league team: Al Kaline (Detroit) or Willie Stargell (Pittsburgh)?
3. What is the highest point total that Notre Dame’s football team has recorded in a bowl game?
4. In 2016, Zach LaVine became the fourth person to win back-to-back NBA dunk contests. Name two of the first three to do it.
5. Who were the first two NHL players before Wayne Gretzky (1981-82 season) to tally 50 goals by the 50th game of the season?
6. When was the last time before 2016 that Denmark won a gold medal in Olympic swimming?
7. Name the last time that the European golf team lost consecutive Ryder Cup matches.
1. Arizona’s Randy Johnson hit his first homer in 2003 at age 40.
2. Kaline played 22 major-league seasons for Detroit (1953-1974); Stargell had 21 seasons with Pittsburgh (1962-1982).
3. Notre Dame tallied 49 points in the 2008
4. Michael Jordan (1987-88), Jason Richardson
(2002-03) and Nate Robinson (2009-10).
5. Montreal’s Maurice Richard (1944-45 season)
and Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders
6. Karen Harup won a gold medal in the 100 meter backstroke in 1948.
7. It was 1991-93.
© 2017 King Features Synd., Inc.
From Where I Sit
The beginning of June is always an exciting time on the University of Iowa campus. First year incoming athletes get a head start on their academics with a limited number of classes which lightens the load when the new school year starts in earnest, the end of August. Think about it. A young man or woman whose high school enrollment could be a couple hundred to a couple thousand, steps into an environment with thirty thousand plus classmates and a campus that’s several hundred acres! That can be pretty intimidating. Balancing the classroom, a new community, its culture and athletics, requires time management like they’ve not experienced.
Hawkeye athletes are jump starting their education in a quiet, relaxed atmosphere, getting to know their way around campus and then heading to workout facilities, implementing their off season conditioning programs. Long before that first kickoff in Kinnick stadium Labor Day weekend, freshmen have been under the watchful eye of strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle, studying the playbook and watching miles of video on upcoming opponents. The summer months are also a study in nutrition. It’s as important what you put in your body versus what you get out of it. College athletics represent a major step forward to adulthood regardless of whether it’s division one, three or NAIA.
Many tri-staters motored northeast a few days back to take in the United States Golf Open Championship. Brooks Koepka, a 27 year old American, scorched the back nine at Erin Hills outside Milwaukee and waltzed to a four shot win with a 16 under par total. It’s the last time the US Open will be in the midwest for at least a decade. A couple of area natives played well. Zach Johnson of Cedar Rapids and Madison’s Steve Stricker both made the cut — two class acts who represent the game of golf on and off the course with their roots in mind. Stricker now hosts the Senior Tour stop with a tourney at University Ridge in Madison. Johnson entertains eastern Iowans with his annual foundation outing the first or second Monday in July and brings a host of big name stars to Elmcrest Country Club in Cedar Rapids, where Dubuque native Larry Gladson
is the director of golf. Combine those events with the upcoming John Deere Classic in Moline and Des Moines hosting the Solheim Cup this fall — that’s the women’s equivalent of the Ryder Cup — there is
plenty of world class golf to take in as part of your family vacation. Oh, and the Solheim Cup, August
14-20 at the beautiful Des Moines Golf and Country Club, just happens to run during the Iowa State Fair! Down the middle.
Sorry, Cousin Mike,