Home
Biography
About Site
Family
Richwood
College
Math/Science
WOBC
Broadcast
Design
Images
Sports
Poetry
Romance
Opinion
Feedback


To jump to a random article, click anywhere in this silver box:

00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 0A 0C 0D 0E 0F 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 19 1A 1B 1C 1D 1E 1F 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 2A 2B 2C 2D 2E 30 31 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 3A 3B 3C 3D 3E 3F 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 4A 4B 4C 4D 4E 4F 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 5A 5B 5C 5D 5E 5F 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 6A 6B 6C 6D 6E 6F  70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 7A 7B 7C 7D 7E 7F 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 8A 8B 8C 8D 8E 8F 9A 9B 9C 9D 9E 9F  9X A0 A1 A2 A3 A4 A5 A6 A7 A8 A9 A0 AA AB AC AD AE AF B0 B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9 B0 BA BB BC BD BE BF C0 C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6 C7 C8 C9 CA CB CC CD CE CF D0 D1 D2 D3 D4 D6 D7 D8 D9 DA DB DC DD DE DF DG DH DI DJ DK DL DM DN DP DQ DR DS DT DU DV DW DX DY DZ E1 E2 E3 E4 E5 E6 E7 E8 E9 EA EB EC ED EE EF EG EH E-I EJ EK EL EM EN EP EQ ER ES ET EU EV EW EX EY EZ F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 F6 F7 F8  F9 F0 FA FB FC FD FE FF FG FH FI FJ FK FL FM FN FO FP FQ  FR FS FT FU FV FW FX FY FZ GA GB GC GD GE GF GG GH GI GJ GK GL GM GN GO GP GQ GR GS GT GU GV GW GX GY GZ HA HB bpdir P2 P3 P4 P5 P6 P7 P8 P9 P10 P11 P13 P14 P15 P16 P17 P18 P19 De1 De2 De3 De4 De5 mk

 

T. Buckingham Thomas:  A Personal Website

ESTABLISHED BY TOM THOMAS (AS GEOCITIES.COM/TBTHO) OCT. 25, 2000

To search the site, click the icon to bring up a Yahoo search box.
Replace ql in the box with the word or words you seek.

 

JANUARY 22, 2015     DON'T BELIEVE WHAT YOU HEAR

I keep hearing a radio commercial for a fancy local restaurant that has French pretensions.  Sounds to me like they’re advertising their Winter Prefix dinner.

That’s nothing new; even the Bob Evans chain offers a “3-course dinner” from a table d'hôte menu.  I don’t know about this $29.95 Winter Prefix, though.  I think I’d prefer the Summer Suffix.

But I digress.

A company could be very successful selling and guaranteeing worthless products.  The “Merchant of Nothing” explains how in this month’s 100 Moons article.

 

JANUARY 16, 2015     THE TIMES

’Tis the season to televise pucks and hoops.  In my case in Pittsburgh, that means NHL hockey and college basketball.

One thing I like about hockey is that the game ends when it’s supposed to end.  Unless an official blows a whistle, the action is nonstop.  Substitutes enter while play continues.  In the final minutes, a losing team can’t delay the inexorable countdown.  The coach can call a single timeout for a 30-second discussion at the bench, but only after the official has already stopped play.

In college basketball, however, each team can interrupt the action by calling five timeouts.  The teams often use all ten opportunities.  Also, late in the game, the trailing team can stop the clock another ten times or so by fouling an opponent.  There seems to be a whistle every 1.9 seconds.  Last month, blogger Bob Smizik reported, “It took 14 minutes to play the final 34 seconds of the Pitt-St. Bonaventure game Saturday.  There were no commercials during those 14 minutes.”

If the game goes into overtime, another five minutes is put on the clock.  I think that’s longer than necessary, and three would suffice.  (Five minutes used to be even more painful to watch before the NCAA adopted a shot clock in 1985.  Back when I started, if a team got the lead in overtime and also got possession of the ball, they’d freeze it by standing there for the next four minutes until the trailing team was forced to foul.)

Televised college games are generally scheduled at two-hour intervals:  the 7:00 game is followed by a 9:00 game on the same channel.  Sometimes that works out, but often the 7:00 game drags on and on until 9:14.  For those interested in the 9:00 matchup, nobody gets to see the introductory segment we TV types have lovingly produced (which frustrates us) and nobody gets to see the first several minutes of action (which frustrates the fans).  I often think games should be scheduled 2½ hours apart so there’s no overlap.  However, that would create other problems, for the schools and for the network’s bottom line.

The bottom line is all-important, of course.  I read in the papers that ESPN is cutting costs by televising some  college basketball without actually being present at the game.

The network does send half a dozen cameras and a few microphones, and they hire some local people to operate them.   (However, local people like me miss out on our usual assignments for graphics, switching, tape replays, and the like.)  The network may send a sideline reporter.  Everyone else works out of the home office in Bristol, Connecticut.  The pictures from the various cameras are transmitted back to ESPN, where a producer and director cut between them.

Graphics, replays, and other elements are created in Connecticut.  Viewers don’t care where that stuff originates, but they do assume that the announcers are actually witnessing the game in person.  They’re not.

Instead of reporting from a cramped table at courtside, they’re in a cramped room in Bristol.  An ESPN article illustrates the technique with this view of soccer announcers Adrian Healey and Taylor Twellman calling a game “off the tube.”

The idea isn’t completely new.  It's been used for narrating tennis matches and Formula One races and other lower-rated events that place far away — for example, on a different continent. 

On a forum for sports journalists, several deplored the technique.  “At some point, something will happen that bites the broadcaster in the butt for doing it this way.  What if the coach is attacked by a fan off-camera?  Or there's an earthquake?”  (I suppose if a sideline reporter is actually on site, he can track down the story.)

There was also this comment:  When the play-by-play announcer and analyst are at the game, “There are things that happen, things you see, that happen out of camera range.  For someone to think the quality of the broadcast is just as good, that's not possible.” 

Why do it like this?  Travel has become more expensive and video bandwidth has become cheaper.  It costs more to send a dozen highly-paid people to a college town for a day than it costs to transmit half a dozen camera signals across the country for a few hours.  The times are moving on.  (As are the times required to play a game.)

 

JANUARY 11, 2015     MAGENTA WORLD

When I watched him in my bedroom twenty years ago, Dave always appeared to be in the pink.  And so did everyone else.

In a new article, I explain the reason for this.  It all started on The Day the Green Died.

 

JANUARY 5, 2015     GOOGLE ME

In the early days of Internet search engines, users vied to find a phrase that returned one and only one hit.

I’ve done it!  If you take the last two words of my post from New Year’s Day (enclosed in quotes to specify that the words have to appear consecutively) and Google that phrase, you get a single result.  I’m the only one in the world who’s ever put those words together!

 
JANUARY 3, 2015     HOW ABOUT THE “TRILOBITES”?

A sports headline told me the “Panthers” are playing the “Cardinals” today.

Are the Pitt Panthers kicking off against the Louisville Cardinals in another of those bowls?  Or are the Florida Panthers skating into the St. Louis Cardinals ballpark for another of those outdoor hockey games?  No, this is the National Football League, so it’s the Carolina Panthers against the Arizona Cardinals.

We need more uniqueness among nicknames.  “Coelacanths,” anybody?

 

JANUARY 1, 2015     FOUR-LETTER MNEMONIC

As a landlubber, I've always had trouble remembering which side of a boat is port and which is starboard.  And which side is marked by a red light and which by green?  A little research, and the fact that Portugal produces a red wine called “port,” led to this suggestion.

Simply group together the four-letter words
“left: port wine.”

Contrast them with the longer words
“right: starboard Gatorade.”

 

DECEMBER 26, 2014     POINTS FOR KRE'8'IFFYTEY

In televising college sports, I often encounter first names, or spellings of first names, that I’ve never seen before.

For example, on women’s basketball teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference, there are players named Aaliyah, Arica, Ataijah, Ayisa, Brielle, Cha’nelle, Chania, Cortnee, Daneesha, De’Ashia, Emiah, Emilee, Emmonnie, Erykah, Jae’Lisa, Jassany, J’Kyra, Kaela, Ka’lia, Karima, Kelila, Keyanna, Keyona, Khadedra, Len’Nique, Lyneé, MaKayla, Markisha, Millesa, Myisha, Mykia, Necole, Nigia, Nylah, Oderah, Roddreka, Shakayla, Shakena, Shawnta’, Shayra, and Xylina — among others.

Their parents gave them their unusual monikers.  When you have several kids and every other family on your block has several kids, you don’t want them to bear tired old names like Erica.  You need to invent something distinctive like Arica or Erykah.

I think sometimes parents, particularly African-American parents, choose random euphonic syllables and then concatenate them to form a musically pleasing combination.  Or they use existing names that fit that pattern.  In many cases, it’s the middle syllable that’s accented, as in Natasha and Malia Obama.

Mormons from Utah, on the other hand, don't go for poetic-sounding neologisms.  They prefer to show how orthographically unconventional they can be.  They're too clever, say I.  We almost had a President named for a baseball glove.

I wrote a little poem imagining what Utah fatherhood might be like, using actual names from a couple of videos (for girls and for boys) that demonstrate LDS nomenclature.

I am a Mormon parent now.
     In this home, I’m the male.
My wife is called Alizabeth.
     First daughter? Abigayle.
Our next three girls, we named for traits
    We hope in them we’ll see:
They’re Aunistee, Sarenity,
    And (please God) Chazdidee.

More rapid than rabbits our offspring they came, 
And I whistled, and shouted, and called them by name: 
"Come, Linzee!  Come, Skylei!  Now, Ziah and Jaxon! 
Here, Kamryn!  Here, Kaylub!  Now, Jerrick and Braxen!"

And then we had Mykayla, Kyte,
     McKyndree, Emersyn,
Deannessa, Bryntle, Annistyn,
     Sh’Kelle, Nakkole, and Wren.
Unique are all our children’s names.
     You ask me who I am?
A patriarch suggested it:
     Just call me Ayebraeham.

 

DECEMBER 22, 2014     MY ANSWERS

Idiocy:  When an egg falls in the forest, does the chicken make a sound?

Theodicy:  Life is nonsensical.  It isn't fair.  So is anyone writing the script?

In this month’s 100 Moons article, I attempt to settle these age-old questions once and for all.  Bwak.

 

DECEMBER 16, 2014     TOUCHING THE STATE

Jordan Whitehead is a senior football player at Central Valley High School, west of Pittsburgh.  Next year, he’ll be a cornerback for the University of Pittsburgh.

Through December 5, according to maxpreps.com, Whitehead made 87 tackles and six interceptions.  His Warriors were undefeated at 15-0.

However, he’s an outstanding athlete, and his high school used him not only on defense but also on offense.  Through those first 15 games, he carried 135 times for 1,899 yards and 22 touchdowns.  He also caught 22 passes.

If you add rushing yards, receiving yards, and his return yardage on punts, kickoffs, and interceptions, you get an all-purpose average of 207.6 yards per game.

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) has 12 geographic divisions.  Its strongest division for football has always been the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL), comprising nine counties around Pittsburgh.  ROOT Sports Pittsburgh televises WPIAL football.  This year we saw Central Valley three times.

For one of our telecasts, the producer wanted to highlight how often Whitehead was involved in the action.  One of the statistics I was asked to keep track of was his “touches.”

I wasn’t sure what qualified as a “touch.”  First I tried to figure it out using the English language.  On any play when Whitehead made contact with the pigskin, he should be credited with a touch.

If that were the definition, the center and the quarterback should get touches on every play.  If the quarterback put the ball in Whitehead’s hands but then pulled it back out to carry it himself, Whitehead should get a touch, albeit a very brief one.  If he attempted to catch or intercept a pass but dropped it, at least he touched it.  If someone fumbled and Whitehead tried to recover but batted the ball away, at least he touched it.

However, I learned that incomplete passes and the like don’t count.  Also, interceptions are defensive plays.  So I began listing “touches” as only rushes, receptions, and returns.  But no, I was reminded, punt returns and kickoff returns are special-teams plays.  It came down to only offense:  rushes and receptions.

When I got home, I tried to confirm this by looking up “touch” in a list of football terms.  It wasn’t there.  It isn’t a football stat.  It’s a fantasy football stat, which is why I wasn’t familiar with it.  And touches do equal rushes plus receptions.

Pennsylvania has four classes for football based on the size of a school’s enrollment.  This year, our WPIAL champions in all four classes went on to win twice more, in the PIAA quarterfinals and semifinals, thereby reaching their respective state title games.  According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Mike White, this was the eighth such clean sweep for the WPIAL since the PIAA playoffs started 26 years ago.

All four of these WPIAL representatives happen to be public high schools, where athletes are required to live in their school’s geographic district.  Their opponents in the finals — the best of the other 11 divisions across the state — included one public school and three Catholic.  Parochial schools can recruit any students they want, including athletes who live many miles away.  St. Joseph’s Prep, in Philadelphia, has out-of-state players from New Jersey and Delaware.  There’s some debate about whether it’s fair to make public schools, with their recruitment restrictions, compete against private schools.

Last weekend in the PIAA championships, one WPIAL school (South Fayette in Class AA) was able to play against another public school like itself.  The WPIAL team won.  But in the other three classes, the WPIAL representatives were defeated by Bishop Guilfoyle, Archbishop Wood, and St. Joseph’s respectively.

In Class AAA, the Archbishop’s defense held Whitehead to 34 yards on 13 carries.  Central Valley finished the season as a state runner-up with a 15-1 record.  They almost touched the trophy.

 

DECEMBER 11, 2014     DRESSED ALL IN FUR

Three years ago I mailed a personalized holiday card, describing the winter situation at our television production truck.

Despite the efforts of this snow removal technician / engineer in charge, not all of the internal environmental conditions had been properly adjusted to suit our individual preferences.

A reproduction of that message has now been inserted into this thread of correspondence.  Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

 

DECEMBER 7, 2014     SNIDELY TWITLASH 3

Snidely’s back!  Ho ho hee!  

For more than a year, I’ve been monitoring Twitter for the comments of Eric D. Snider, humorist and film critic.

Now the holidays approach.  Time for my third gift-wrapped box of tweets.

Is Eric a bearded piano player?  Why, yes; yes, he is.  But two months ago today, he revealed two other personal characteristics — both of which are “big parts of who I am,” he says.  Neither is his Defining Characteristic, but they may be surprising to some of his readers.

What are they?  Click on Snidely Tweeting 3 if you dare!

 

DECEMBER 6, 2014     WAY UP HIGH, SUDDENLY HERE AM I

Watching NBC's production of Peter Pan got me thinking.  I imagined I was a youngster attending a live stage performance, with no prior knowledge of what was about to happen.

The play starts a century ago in a conventional way, with characters conversing in English accents about domestic matters.  Then a strange boy enters through a window and tells strange stories about his home in a strange place called Neverland.

PETER:  Come with me.

WENDY:  To Neverland?

PETER:  Yes.  We’ll fly!

WENDY:  You can ... fly?

PETER:  Yes, of course.  Delta Airlines offers four daily non-stops.

No, wait, that’s not how the line goes.  Peter claims he can actually soar up into the air all by himself.

PETER:  You just think lovely, wonderful thoughts, and up you go!

Another tall tale, I think.  Unless they bring out a trampoline, this actor’s feet are going to remain firmly planted on the stage.  People can’t fly.

But then he actually does rise into the air!  To me, this is the most sensational moment in the play.  The impossible is happening, right before my eyes.  He’s flying!

Soon Wendy's little brother is encouraged to think his own lovely, wonderful thoughts.  In his case, that means candy, or Christmas.  Amazingly, the little boy also soars straight up, wriggling and squealing in delight!

And now the whole company is soaring about the stage!  This can’t be happening!

Nothing that follows, not pirates nor Indians nor ticking crocs, will be able to surpass this magical sight.

 

DECEMBER 4, 2014     HIS WIFE WASN'T MRS. RUTABAGA

From 1943 to 1947, Jimmy Durante teamed with Garry Moore (“the nose and the haircut”) on a radio show which I never listened to, on account of not having been born yet.  Jeff Kallman’s account is here. 

However, I do remember each of these stars from 1950s TV, Moore hosting I’ve Got a Secret and Durante performing his chaotic vaudeville routine at an upright piano.  “Stop da music!” he’d shout at any interruption.  “Stop da music!  Everybody wants ta get inta the act!  I’m surrounded by assassins!  It’s a catastastroke!”

Also in the 1950s, we elementary-school kids performed “Frosty the Snowman” for our beaming parents.  Loudly we sang out, in even rhythm.

There

MUST

have

BEEN

Some

MA-

gic

IN

That

OLD

silk

HAT

they

FOUND

That brings us up to yesterday.  The omnipresent seasonal background music included “Frosty” as performed by Durante, who was actually a talented musician who had helped popularize ragtime jazz in New York City as far back as 1908.  Having no choice but to listen, I appreciated that he knew how to phrase the snowman's song more meaningfully than we schoolchildren did, delaying the “in.”

There must have been some magic
     In that old silk hat
     They found

Thumpity thump thump.

I also remember an aging Durante singing “September Song” in the 1960s.  “The days dwindle down to a precious few:  September.  November.”

And the Schnozzola had a funny-sounding pet name for the first Mrs. Durante, who died on Valentine’s Day in 1943.  Thereafter when he signed off his broadcasts he waved goodbye and said “Good night, Mrs. Calabash . . . wherever you are.”

 

DECEMBER 2, 2014     PETER PAN

Last holiday season, NBC aired a live broadcast of The Sound of Music.  This year they’re doing Peter Pan.  It airs Thursday.

Of course, there have been many other versions of Pan over the 110 years since J.M Barrie first wrote a play about Peter’s adventures in Neverland.  I remember especially the 1953 Walt Disney movie. 

My parents took me to see it at the Palace Theater in Marion, Ohio.

They worried afterward that, with all the sword fighting and such, perhaps the movie had been too violent for their six-year-old son.


The parts that gave me nightmares involved the pirate crew.

I don't mean the jovial scenes where a piratical chorus line sang yo-ho-ho and waved Jolly Roger flags.

I mean the disturbing scenes where an uncontrollable mob of murderous outlaws came charging threateningly toward me, angrily brandishing their deadly steel.

Once can hope that NBC’s production will be a bit more friendly toward impressionable children than Disney’s was.

 

 


Archive

2014

DEC  NOV

OCT  SEP

AUG  JUL

JUN  MAY

APR  MAR

FEB  JAN

2013

DEC  NOV

OCT  SEP

AUG  JUL

JUN  MAY

APR  MAR

FEB  JAN

2012

DEC  NOV

OCT  SEP

AUG  JUL

JUN  MAY

APR  MAR

FEB  JAN

2011

DEC  NOV

OCT  SEP

AUG  JUL

JUN  MAY

APR  MAR

FEB  JAN

2010

DEC  NOV

OCT  SEP

AUG  JUL

JUN  MAY

APR  MAR

FEB  JAN

2009

DEC  NOV

OCT  SEP

AUG  JUL

JUN  MAY

APR  MAR

FEB  JAN

2008

DEC  NOV

OCT  SEP

AUG  JUL

JUN  MAY

APR  MAR

FEB  JAN

2007

DEC  NOV

OCT  SEP

AUG  JUL

JUN  MAY

APR  MAR

FEB  JAN

 

To search for specific names or events, click the icon to bring up a Yahoo search box.  Replace ql in the search box with the word or words you seek.