Cubs, Cronkite, and Halloween

Wet leaves on wooden inclined plane = nearly horizontal person, somewhat in pain.

chicagocubsI swear I read a number of people who treated the baseball World Series win by the Chicago Cubs as, “Oh, that’s nice,” rather than the astonishing event that it was. Heck, even Arthur wrote about it, not once, but twice. He noted that “Some things transcend all of that, and sport can, for some, be one of those things.”

And the stories I read about fans remembering parents, or grandparents, who loved the Cubs, but never had the joy of seeing them win the National League pennant (last time, 1945), let alone the whole enchilada (1908, 108 years ago; 108, like the number of stitches on a baseball). This was touching, for example.

I was rooting for them, once the New York Mets were quickly eliminated. General Theo Epstein, who got the long-suffering Boston Red Sox fans a pennant in 2004 and 2007, may be a miracle worker.

Apparently, there were a number of people who predicted the Chicago Cubs would win the Series this year.
***
Today would have been the 100th birthday of Walter Cronkite of CBS News. I’ve remembered his natal day since about 1980 when I realized it coincided with the date the hostages in Iran were taken a year before.

So much in the news has changed since his heyday, the 24-hour news cycle, and competing with the TMZs of the world, not to mention Facebook and Twitter as news sources.

I read his autobiography and reviewed it here.
***
Monday, I decided to ride my bike to work. But the front tire was light and failed to inflate, so I stuck it back into the shed, locked the door, turned around, and, as I wrote in Facebook about 45 minutes later:
Wet leaves on wooden inclined plane = nearly horizontal person, somewhat in pain. I’m hobbling to work now…

Managed to hit my head to the right of my left ear, and my left shoulder, and my back (wearing the backpack), and turned my left ankle. It happened so fast, I didn’t have a chance to put out my hand to try to save myself, which, I suppose was a good thing. No lasting damage, but I was sore for a couple of days, especially my back.

Got a very angry IM on Facebook that evening about something I wrote which a person believed was a mischaracterization of their feelings, and was quite possibly friendship ending, which made me both sad and exhausted, as I tried to explain my POV. I had a nice IM exchange from an old friend about something else I had written.

The highlight of the day had to be, when I was handing out Halloween candy, a half dozen College of Saint Rose students Halloween caroling of this Thomas Tallis piece. I even sang along on the repeated section.

That’s when I could still sing because subsequently, I’ve lost my voice; hope I can shake whatever bug is irritating my vocal chords, or my vocal cords.

Book Review: A Reporter’s Life by Walter Cronkite

Walter Cronkite as a morning show newsreader had dialogues with a lion puppet and Dick van Dyke.

At some point a year or two ago, I bought a whole bunch of books for not very much money; can’t remember where. They sat on my bookshelf en masse, all but untouched until I got into this recent reading binge. First up had to be the 1996 autobiography of Walter Cronkite (November 4, 1916 – July 17, 2009), for he was my all-time favorite news anchor.

The early chapters, about him growing up in Kansas City and later Houston, I found to be a bit bloodless, even as he tells about murderous racism. It seemed very “that’s the way it was.” His World War II retelling was somewhat livelier. When he described being stationed in Moscow for CBS News, he realized “how effective lies can be when the truth is suppressed,” so that his Russian driver was convinced that the Soviets had invented baseball and the Jeep.

When he gets to the issue of television, though, he lets his personality, and his opinions, shine through. He believes that the press’s focus on the “sizzle rather than the steak” of politics created a cynicism that resulted in an “international embarrassment” of low voter participation.

During Cronkite’s tenure as the anchor, US government officials were looking for the network to take a more supportive role toward the Vietnam war. He replied, “It is not the journalist’s job to be patriotic. How can patriotism be determined anyway? Is patriotism simply agreeing unquestioningly with every action of one’s government? Or might we define patriotism as having the courage to speak and act on those principles one thinks are best for the country…?”

My favorite parts of the book are the insights about the early days of television, where folks established in radio and print figuring out the new medium, including his tenure as a morning show newsreader having dialogues with a lion puppet and Dick Van Dyke. Later, he recognizes that he had become an “800-pound gorilla” of news trying not to upstage his news colleagues. When he retired, he developed disgust with the new CBS News ownership of the early 1980s over its concern with profits over content.

Of course, he tells about reporting the important events of the times, including the John Kennedy assassination and the landing on the moon. He namechecks his college physics teacher, who would be amazed how well Cronkite explained the technical aspects of the space missions.

I think that the state of television news, from the time he wrote this book until he died, must have filled him with despair for his chosen profession. Still, it was a most interesting read by a most stellar individual.