I Love Tennis, But …
Summer is for tennis, and the season is in full swing with the French Open tournament that’s currently going on in Paris. Tennis is my favorite sport by far, to both watch and play (though I haven’t played in years — it’s hard getting old), but I really only enjoy watching the matches that are played on hard courts and grass. Why?
The red clay.
There are two reasons why tennis matches on clay are the least enjoyable to watch, and often frustrating. The first is the simple fact that you can’t really see the ball. At least it’s not as clear as a yellow ball against a blue or gray hard surface or green grass. The red clay actually sticks to the ball, and after a while you can’t even see it. It just blends into the court. Once in a while you can see the ball, but not enough to actually enjoy the entire match. I have a 52-inch TV and even I sometimes can’t tell where the ball is. And if the sun is shining brightly? Forget it. The red clay is illuminated so much that it just looks like two athletes swinging their arms at nothing.
But the biggest beef I have with red clay tournaments are the arguments players and officials have over whether a ball is out or not. Unlike hard courts and grass, matches played on clay don’t use the Hawk-Eye replay system, because with clay you can actually see a mark. That’s the explanation in theory, anyway, but in the real world it doesn’t really work. Especially when a player and the chair umpire can’t even agree on which mark is the mark! Honestly, you watch a match and see two grown adults looking at a mark and they have two completely different conclusions to whether a ball is out or not. I don’t even know how they can judge something like that if it’s not completely clear, because, well, clay moves around a lot. They often show the Hawk-Eye replay for fans at home even though it’s not used on the court, and 9 times out of 10, the call is wrong.
I don’t know why they don’t use the technology and challenge system that’s available on the other surfaces — it’s a combo of the marks being more “obvious” and officials not wanting to tamper with traditions — but if I were a tennis player, I wouldn’t even play on clay until they finally decide to use the replay. It’s not perfect, but at least it can see the correct mark, and shouldn’t all tennis matches have the same standards?
(End of rant.)
Here Come Barry, Karen, and Nestor
While many states have been dealing with dangerous tornadoes the past few weeks, this is a reminder that the official start of hurricane season is June 1 (it lasts until November 30, believe it or not). Last week, the World Meteorological Society released the names of this year’s hurricanes, and if you were around in 2013, they may sound familiar — the names are recycled from that year. The WMS keeps six alphabetical lists of 21 names for storms in the Atlantic that they cycle through, so — except for the retired names of particularly horrible hurricanes — the same storm names pop up again every six years.
They don’t pick names starting with Q, U, X, Y, or Z though. So if your first name is Ulysses or Zelda, you’re out of luck.
Star Trek: Picard
If you didn’t know this was a trailer for the new CBS All Access series starring Patrick Stewart, you’d swear it was an ad for either wine or a new cholesterol medication.
New TV on DVD Releases
Every once in a while I like to tell you about classic TV shows that are being released on DVD (if you still buy DVDs, which I do!). I could tell you about the current shows that are being released, but you can already assume they’re coming out at some point, so what’s interesting about that? Here are four sets you might want to get.
Jonny Quest: The Complete Original Series. There have been DVD sets for the classic ’60s animated series about the boy adventurer (voiced by Tim Matheson!), but this Blu-ray set is remastered and presented in HD. There are lots of extras too, including behind-the-scenes info, trivia, and commercials.
Bronk: The Complete Series. This was a short-lived drama (it ran on CBS for one season in 1975-76) starring Jack Palance as a police detective. It was co-created by Carroll O’Connor!
High Sierra Search and Rescue: The Series. Does anyone else remember this Robert Conrad series about a team of experts who rescue trapped and injured people in the Sierra Mountains? It ran for only six episodes (not including the TV movie, which is included in this set).
Wally Gator: The Complete Series. I loved this show as a kid. It was about a walking, talking alligator who wore a hat and constantly escaped from the zoo to get into various adventures.
The Journals of Byron Levy
This is my favorite story of the week. Artist and filmmaker Colin Levy discovered that his late grandfather not only left behind 2,500 paintings when he died at the age of 94, he also left behind decades and decades worth of journals. He kept track of everything that happened to him, and it’s all illustrated. This isn’t just a story on the value of keeping a journal; it’s an example of how someone should live their life.
RIP Leon Redbone, Bart Starr, Bill Buckner, Bobby Diamond, and Edmund Morris
Leon Redbone was a rather unique musical artist who over a long career did a little bit of everything, singing 1930s tunes and blues and standards to theme songs for commercials and sitcoms like Mr. Belvedere. He also performed on Saturday Night Live several times and sang and appeared in the movie Elf. He died yesterday at the age of 69 (even if the official statement on his death says he was 127).
Bart Starr won five NFL championships as quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. A Hall of Famer, Starr won the MVP Award for two of those championships, the first two Super Bowls. He died Sunday at the age of 85.
Too many people are focusing on an error that Bill Buckner made in the 1986 World Series and aren’t talking enough about the great career he had. Over a 22-year career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, California Angels, Kansas City Royals, and Boston Red Sox, Buckner had a batting average of .289, won a batting title in 1980, had 2,715 hits in his career, and hardly ever struck out. He died Monday at the age of 69.
You’ll remember Bobby Diamond from his role as Joey on the ’50s series Fury. He was also a regular on The Nanette Fabray Show and the final season of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, and he appeared in shows like The Twilight Zone and The Andy Griffith Show. On the big screen he appeared in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Greatest Show on Earth, and Airborne. He died last week at the age of 75.
Edmund Wilson won a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for his biography of Theodore Roosevelt, but he’s known by most people as the author of the controversial Ronald Reagan biography Dutch. He died last week at the age of 78.
Quote of the Week
“That was Franklin Canyon and we were only allowed to put two fish a day in, because it was actually the drinking water for Hollywood. And on the opening-credit scene shoot, I was only allowed to throw two rocks in the water for the same reason. Yeah, there was a lot of pressure on that rock toss. I had to get it right.”
—Ron Howard, on the fishing scenes and opening credits of The Andy Griffith Show.
This Week in History
Star Wars Opens (May 25, 1977)
The George Lucas-directed movie was a complete failure and we will never hear from those characters again.
Golden Gate Bridge Opens (May 27, 1937)
This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Whitman’s Sampler (May 28, 1955)
Hey kids, here’s a fun game you can play. Rearrange the candies in the Whitman’s box so your parents don’t know what they’re getting. There’s nothing funnier than biting into a piece of candy, expecting a Chocolate Fudge Truffle, and instead getting a French Pineapple!
June Is National Candy Month
Making candy is one cooking adventure I don’t want to participate in. It seems rather difficult, and I’d rather just go to the store (maybe get a box of Whitman’s?) or online to buy my candy treats. But if you have the ambition and don’t mind working with a candy thermometer, here’s a recipe for Hard Candy from Judith Synesael at Allrecipes, and here’s one for Peanut Brittle from ThermoBlog.
And here’s a recipe for Buffalo Sponge Candy, which I’m including because I like the name. In Maine it’s called Sea Foam, and in Canada it’s called Sponge Toffee.
Next Week’s Holidays and Events
National Trails Day (June 1)
Turn off your TV, put down your phone, and spend some time outdoors this Saturday. You can go hiking, make a donation to your favorite trail spot, or even volunteer.
Yell “Fudge” at the Cobras in North America Day (June 2)
There’s a holiday for everything, and this proves it. Supposedly, cobras hate fudge and yelling the word at them makes them go away. (Disclaimer: Yelling “fudge” at cobras in North America or any other continent is not a guarantee of safety. Yelling “fudge” at cobras may bring about injury or death. Ask your doctor if yelling “fudge” at cobras is right for you.)
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