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  • CAP


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  • The Equalizer

    Alabama’s less than stellar New Years performance left me in a less than stellar mood. When our football season is over, it flat out is.
    I love the wonderful expression “I was just beside myself.” That is pretty much where I was for most of January 2nd. Beside myself, or is it “besides my self.” I think the former.

    Anyway, I was just going through the motions for the better part of the day, and when I get that way, what I have to do, sooner or later, is push the refresh button and get back to being myself, as they say.

    What does it for me, these days, is an action movie. Once I watch it, I push the refresh button and pick up where I left off, before the ballgame started. I think it is one of Newton’s Laws.

    Coincidentally, I just read one of my friend’s FaceBook posts in which he (Leigh Montville) mentioned that he’d enjoyed The Equalizer, Denzel’s current movie.

    Now I happened to think that Denzel deserves an Oscar on an annual basis, just call his name, let him walk up there, hand him a statue, let him flash his world class smile, say a few offhand asides, and we can send his extraordinary ass off to make another fine film. Denz got my vote for Flight, a really cool, Oscar nominated effort, starring the coolest actor since Jack, Brando, or Bogey. Come to think of it, that would be a pretty good Mount Rushmore of actors. I would make that pilgrimage.

    If you consider the leading women actors… Hepburn, Kidman, Blanchett, and Streep, would make a nice foursome. Of course, that’s off the top of my head, you know, bang, bang, slam bam thank you m’am. Equal pay for equal work. Just the way it oughta be.
    <

    In fact, The Equalizer equalized my equilibrium and now I can completely accept that Ohio State just ate our lunch and it’s time now for the NFL playoffs. I have moved on. The page is turned.

    Still, Alabama should have run the ball down their throat for two and a half quarters which would have opened things up for Amari Cooper, and we could have closed the sale in the last third of that game, and we’d be on to the Fighting Ducks of Nikeville. And I would not have seen The Equalizer yet, which happens to have been filmed in my current hometown of Boston.

    Since The Tide didn’t win, and since I wanted to move on, let the pain go, I went and watched Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down, one right after the other. Olympus was a lot better, but neither one will win a popularity contest, unless it’s just against each other, and then Olympus takes that one. This further helped me clear my head and bring me back to being a reasonable semblance of what I normally pass for.

    It’s not hard to be a Bama fan, but when we lose with such a lousy effort, I have to go to the movies, a triple feature, to make life, once again, worth living. -

    Harry, January 3rd, 2015


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  • Some Thoughts and Wishes

    hl3The GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, Wes Anderson directing, is a wonderful little respite, a magical little movie.

    SONY CAMERA REPAIR is beyond terrible. I love their pro-cameras, but the service department sucks.

    I am going to watch (live probably, or possibly TIVOed) Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin in Times Square on CNN, New Year’s Eve. It is funny, risque, and fascinating every year. I have not yet tired of the interplay between a respected reporter/Anchor and a crazy, funny, free-spirited comedienne.

    I sure like the musical resonance of the accordion. More and more I hear them in the music I listen to, which is primarily “Americana.”

    I recommend Austin SUN RADIO if you are a fan of Americana. Jessie Scott has a show weekdays that reminds me of Cross Country XM 12, the now defunct satellite radio channel that had a cult following, myself among them.

    Thinking about losing weight. Of course I am, it’s New Years. Checked out some elliptical machines and rather liked the NordicTrac A.C.T. Elite from Sears. It turns out that Sears is now the exclusive sales company of all NordicTrac stuff.

    If you have HBO, and if you don’t I recommend it highly; check out the HBO Sports documentary “Glickman.” What a life, what a guy.

    DON LEMON at CNN. I watch CNN regularly and like them. But Don Lemon is less than brilliant. He has minimal grasp of facets of what he is discussing. Good looking guy. Good voice. But he does not ask probing, intelligent followup questions. He is a lightweight without a shred of gravitas or expertise. And he seems to think it’s all about HIM. Don, it isn’t. It’s about the NEWS, the ISSUES, the EVENTS. He needs a lot of seasoning and CNN gives him a prize time slot which he does not merit, at least at this point in his career. May I suggest Jim Schiuto in his place or Hala Gorani, or Candy Crowley, if they can convince her to unretire. I also could recommend Richard Quest. He is bombastic and seems to have swallowed the Energizer bunny, but he knows of what he speaks and he deserves a prime time slot, whereas Don Lemon does not. CNN would be better for reading this blog post.

    I wish you a Happy New Year. A healthy one too. If you have wealth, share some of it with others. If you send some to me, I will be eternally grateful and will try to pay it forward. You will be forever anonymous and unmentioned, but an angel you will be.

    I hope you will love yourself, something I need to be better at doing.
    Good luck in 2015. Let’s be safe out there.
    Harry
    PO Box 245
    Arlington, MA 02476


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  • My 2014 Dear Santa Letter

     

    MY DEAR SANTA LETTER 2014
    These are my Christmas Wishes, my New Years’ Hopes, Etc.

    OK, Santa

    Hopeful Harry writes….
    P1020345I am a long way from perfect, so it’s hard to say precisely whether I’ve been entirely good or bad, naughty or nice. As time passes, I don’t see much in black and white. I see greys, nuances, shadings, gradations, arguments, plusses and minuses in living, in the world, in my life, in the way things are, etc., etc.

    So with random thoughts in my head, maybe a vision of a sugar plum or two, here we go:

    Can we feed everybody. Can’t we end world hunger. I know that’s a biggie Santa, but heroic effort is required. I see this as black and white, no grey area. Starvation shouldn’t happen.

    OK, Santa, ready for more? How about referees not getting assaulted, battered, threatened. Whether it’s pee wee football or FIFA World Cup, fans have to respect the refs, umps, and officials. A lot of us are intensely loyal fans, but I humbly ask that you, dear Santa, bring sanity to the sports world, even though we call ourselves “fans,” which is shorthand for fanatics, which brings into question our sanity; big ask, but a civil society is one of my wishes.

    I wish freedom was available for all that are oppressed.

    I wish freedom was available for all that feel depressed.

    I wish freedom for all that live in fear.

    I wish that the world’s religions could bask in harmony and equality.

    I would like to see illiteracy wiped from the face of the earth.

    Maybe fracking isn’t such a hot idea, Santa. Illness and earthquakes that seem to result, as a by product, are reasons to give pause.

    I wish prescription medicines were available, at no cost, to all of us.

    I wish that we could cure cancer, heart disease, lupus, asthma, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and all known diseases.

    Santa, I think you should promote brussell sprouts as excellent in many ways, and a good source of natural health. A little butter, some chopped garlic, a dash of salt, and you’ve cooked a healthy item. And they’re so easy to eat with your hands. A double bonus.

    I want gender equality to spread around the world. Men and Women equal in societies the world over. That’s another big ask, but you’re a big guy, Santa, so I’m asking you to make it happen.

    I want animals to be treated better. Life is precious. All life. Spread that around Santa; get the word out. Harm an animal, be very unlikely to get into heaven, a concept that may or may not be manmade, but that should be a Commandment everyplace, everywhere.

    I want all the worlds’ children to be loved and raised with kindness and understanding. That is going to be the game changer. Future generations would be less likely to go to war so easily, take from others, do violence, cause mayhem. Kindness and Understanding are right up there near the very top on my list.

    Money. Rich folks should give something back. That gets them bonus points.
    Let’s revere Philanthropists like we do athletes.
    At this time of year, it is a message that should be stressed all year long. Philanthropy, anonymous or otherwise, can cure a lot of unhappiness in the world. So here’s to those that share good fortunes.

    toastyBut Then, Cynical Harry chimes in:

    I dismiss you, Santa Claus. A child’s fantasy. Whimsy.
    But, you can prove to me that you exist.
    I demand that you, Santa-man, show up at my house on Christmas Eve, with a new Ultra High Def 65″ TV.

    Then you better bring along a new 5K 27″ Apple IMAC computer. Load it up with apps, Santa. Get the 3TB version.

    I’ve been good all year (a lie) so I deserve more stuff.

    Bring me a brand new La-Z-Boy electric recliner with auto heat and massage. In fact, give me two of them. One cherry red and one in mustard yellow. Those things can’t be beat for comfort.

    Come to think of it, I could use new wheels. Santa I need a Tesla. Shiny dark blue, cream colored interior. Every options checked.
    I want it ALL. Stat.

    Clausy, stick Bad Santa in my blue tooth player and press “play.” Don’t let the door hit you in the butt on your way out.

    P.S. – IF you actually show up with all of my toys, (which you know I totally deserve), AND there is no MasterCard/AmEx/Visa statement coming; the UHD TV, the Imac, the Tesla, and the La-Z-Boys; if it’s all mine – gratis, compliments of the House…. Santa, if you come through then I promise that I’ll believe in you, Tinkerbell, magic Hobbits, Rudolph with his ruby red nose, and the Jolly Green Giant.

    P1050839Then, Hopeful Harry returns :

    What else would I like for Christmas? Let’s see. What I want for Christmas?…. well, a nice fire in the fireplace. The Kings College Choir singing English carols on the stereo.
    Just a few candles glowing. No presents expected, but perhaps I find something simple, meaningful, given with thought, sitting under the tree.
    A little mulled cider would be nice. I’ll get settled into a comfortable chair and begin to think about it all. Plus all those important wishes to come true in 2015.
    That’s what I want this Christmas, and all my Christmases to come.
    There’s a lot that I believe in. It fills my head with visions of… ..sugar plums.

    Harry, in Boston. 12-23-14


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  • Allison Williams’ Peter Pan – My Review

    PETER PAN, a live TV musical. From the book PETER PAN by James Barrie (first published in 1904)

    peterFOUR STARS… I really liked it.

    I remember Mary Martin who, up to now, was the Sean Connery of James Bonds, as Peter Pan. All others were judged by Ms. Martin’s spunky Peter, and I am here to say that ALLISON WILLIAMS is the new standard by which future Peter Pans’ will be judged. She didn’t overact, she sang, acted, and flew with earnest glee. Ms. Williams was engaged, present, in the moment, and it was great to see her meet this challenge and fly.

    When it comes to Captain Hook, alas, I am old enough to remember Cyril Richard, who was villain enough for me. Dustin Hoffman gave an interesting Hook, but Sir Cyril’s performance is what I judge all Hooks by. Christopher Walken came through and was both humerous and treacherous, a fine Hook he was. He too was brilliant.

    The sets were spectacular and entertaining. The costumes were catchy and in keeping. Christian Borle was a rather plastic Father, but he earned his money as Smee. And were those his real arms?  I know the tattoos were fake, but were those guns he sported real?  I had not pictured him pumping iron daily for the past ten years.

    awSuccess as live musical theatre is hard won whenever the rare attempt is mounted. So much can go wrong. But this was superb and rarely bogged down. The Disney Tinkerbell “light trail” was back and I was glad to see “Tink” in high def. The dance choreography was way beyond what I ever expected. It was a tour de force. I have no doubt it will soon be on Broadway and win Tony after Tony.

    Allison Williams welcome to the Big Time. Your good old Dad must be very, very proud. Good for you Allison.  Good for you NBC, you should be, well, proud as a peacock.

    It was a flying success.  FYI, for young and old alike, the DVD becomes available everywhere on December 16th. – Harry


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  • Obama, The Republican Congress, and the 2016 elections

    The next two years are going to be interesting and likely very frustrating for many of us as a Republican Congress and a Democratic President try to find common ground and an end to the gridlock in Washington. Will that common ground lead to beneficial legislation? Probably not is the short version answer. Will legislation get passed and not be vetoed by Obama? Are we in for two more years of gridlock? How will the 2016 election go. Who will the Dems nominate? Who will the Republicans nominate? Who will become the 45th President of the United States?

    Well, let me tell you what I think is going to happen. The democrats will try to use the lame duck Congress to get some things done. There will be intense pushback from the Republican leadership. Will the President use Executive Orders on immigration, among other things?

    Here is my take: I believe that the “well” is already poisoned and that President Obama will use Executive Order in the lame duck weeks between now and the new Congress reconvening in January.

    Then as 2015 unfolds, I think Obama will, as his final two years in office begin, get off to the rockiest of starts, and be under constant and withering attack from Republicans. You can expect Ted Cruz to ratchet up his demagoguery. As Obama sees the writing on the wall, he will decide to go it alone, seek no compromise with Congress, and both threaten, and ultimately use his veto powers. T

    The plot will thicken when calls for impeachment echo, and the Repubs open hearings on Benghazi and on Obamacare, which I have no doubt they will do. Benghazi, of course, involves then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who many feel will be the Democratic nominee in the 2016 elections.

    In my opinion, as these hearings become increasingly strident and accusatory, in a surprise to many, the President will, at some point, find his courage and pull Excalibur from the lake or stone (I forget which it is). The once eloquent “Obama the Orator,” circa 2007, will emerge to climb on his donkey (to mix metaphor and literature) and go into full battle mode to defend his presidency and his legacy. It will be great political theatre that is as important as can be for the immediate future of the Country. Both sides will go to DefCon 5 as the slings and arrows fly.

    Now, as to the nominations and 2016 Presidential Elections get under way and campaign season gets into full swing, the Benghazi hearings will be an attempt to damage Hillary and affect her chances in 2016, as Republicans chip away at both Clintons.

    As a fan of VP Biden (His fan club consists of me, his wife Jill, and I don’t know who else, but not many), Joe will use his considerable skill and do himself a lot of good as he seeks the Presidency in 2016. Hillary will be constantly under attack and it will hurt her as the months drag out.

    I don’t know who Dems will choose, but Biden will make a strong case for himself. His obvious ties to the S.S. Obama won’t hurt him as much as some may think, because Joe can think on his feet and even though he has his “mouth moments,” he is nobody’s fool, and Joe has some statesmanship in his blood. He is a foreign policy expert and knows Congress very well. I would never bet against Joe Biden, who may very well become President Biden, to the surprise of most, but not me.

    I think this will become possible when Mitch and the Repubs will overplay their hand going after Obama and Hillary. There will be dark days ahead for the Dems, no doubt, but the internecine warfare between Tea Party Repubs and more mainstream Repubs will escalate. Sarah Palin and the Crazies will be heard from again. Michelle Bachman where are you?

    To my mind, there are only three possible Republican presidential nominees. It’s going to be either Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, or Rand Paul. The Dems will choose between Clinton and Biden.

    I think the Republican nominee will be Jeb Bush, with either Chris Christie or Rand Paul as his vice president.

    The Democratic ticket will be Biden as President and Elizabeth Warren as Veep.

    Here’s a news flash: The Dems will win again in 2016. The president will be Joe Biden and Senator Warren will become the vice president.

    That is how I see it, as of now, November 6, 2014.


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  • PAGING RENEE ZELLWEGER?

    You know, I kinda fell in love with you, circa “Jerry Maguire” and later, you did brilliant work in “Cold Mountain.” “Fetching” was your middle name; You were the tomboyish girl who lived next door. You were a little goofy, but there was sex appeal and you looked like you might be a lot of fun afterward. It’s fair to say that you were a fantasy that seemed possible, plausible, perhaps even likely. You had that every girl appeal and it was very convincing and sexual. 

    You might not remember me, but I had a glimpse when you rode past in a convertible on a cold winter’s day, as the Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year, in Cambridge, just a few years ago. You looked good. I could tell that you were freezing your ass off. In person, you looked like yourself. I was freezing my ass off too. We had that in common on the day we sort of met. You were Dorothy Boyd in the flesh…only with goosebumps.

    I’ve got nothing against plastic surgery but you look, well, like somebody else. You look nothing like Dorothy Boyd now. You exude a distant sexiness, but the fantasy is Mission Impossible for most red blooded males, myself included. You have gone from Labrador Retriever to Borzoi. I’m a Lab kinda guy, Renee. We’ve drifted apart. Face it, you’ve changed.

    Taking things so far that you are almost unrecognizable to an old friend like me is unsettling. You now have a vaguely haughty and disinterested look. Jaded, nonchalant and detached. I guess you can audition for that Hepburn role you must have been fantasizing about.

    Sorry to say, but you no longer are the girl we had grown accustomed to; and liked. Rex Harrison would be muttering and stuttering. C’mon RZ, what does it feel like to look yourself in the mirror and not see someone familiar? You don’t have to answer that, and it’s just my opinion, but I liked you best when you lived next door to me.




  • Harry on Hunting

    HUNTING? – I do not cotton to the idea of hunting, per se. The notion of hunting for “mon plaisir” doesn’t make it anything close to “sporting,” even if a small chunk of the population finds it “pleasurable.” It is a damn shame and a damn lie to say that hunting is sport. My guess is that most deer and a goodly number of ducks agree with me.

    Looky, it’s great fun to be outdoors, weather permitting; and there are those occasions where I like tromping through the woods, even if said tromping is tempered by the artificiality of my knees. And I have actually hunted a few times in my reckless past, always by invitation from parents of friends, in my younger days. I get the thrill of the chase, as they say. For the record, I never chased anything, or fired my weapon, neither have I been hunting when anybody else did. I’m cool with walking around in the deep dark woods for hours.

    rabOn the one occasion that I was invited to a deer hunt, others, not in my “party,” killed deer aplenty. I have seen them being bled out, hanging there, dead and all, as trophies for us to see. There is a ritual where a hunter is slathered in the blood of his first killed deer. Truly pagan and probably historic social anthropology as practiced for all millennia. I just didn’t need to see it.

    Notwithstanding the above, I actually find no fault with some of the trappings – the LL Bean boots with their lifetime guarantee, a rifle slung, Che Guevara-style, over the shoulder; or an unhinged, safety-breaked shotgun in hand, and a crackling campfire that a November afternoon can offer. It is good to be out in nature, away from it all, from time to time. All that I do get.

    What seems irretrievably wrong, to me, is pulling the trigger or letting loose the taut-drawn bow to kill. Being out in nature is one thing. Killing Nature is another. How sporting is it to kill an unsuspecting animal, or duck/bird? Hunters will say sporting enough. I don’t draw that conclusion. – Harry Lipson III
    ps- if you truly need to hunt to put food on your table, then I can live with that, even if what you kill can’t.


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  • How and Why I Know Roy Blount, Jr., which I Do

    OK so,back around 1975, I read Roy Blount, Jr.’s first book, Three Bricks Shy of A Load, which if I recall was about the NFL Pittsburgh Steelers and the Rooney family that owned that ball club. I had been reading a lot of Dan Jenkins’ stuff around that time, and I found that I liked Roy about the same as Dan.

    Long story short, I became an event producer in Boston in the early 1980s and I went on to produce several events that Roy was invited to participate in, and did.  Since Roy and I are both from the Deep South,  we talked a lot about food and football, which is what Southerners often do when they first meet in a place like Boston, or elsewhere.

    Roy is a good guy, in case you didn’t know.  Real humble, pretty smart, and he generally tells a good story.  All laudable Southern traits.

    Now fast forward to early this morning.   I had been “working” on my computer, mostly seeking new FaceBook friends, and after a while I headed over to Amazon.com to find a book to make me sleepy when I read in bed.

    For reasons that are beyond me, perhaps it was a higher power, I ended up ordering another one of Roy’s books; this one about the legendary Confederate GeneraI, Robert E. Lee of Virginia.

    After buying the paperback version, I went back to FaceBooking (a phrase I have just now invented, and want full credit for.  If you can copyright a phrase, then I hereby do it  You are my witness).

    Anyhow, I went back to FaceBooking and I stumbled onto the RBJASFB page:  The Roy Blount, Jr. Appreciation Society FaceBook page.  How’s that for coincidence.

    royI have for many years been in possession of a photo of Roy Blount, Jr. and yours truly, which  I offered it up to The Cause, that being, the Appreciation Society of one of Society’s underappreciated former sportswriters, the aforementioned Mr. Jr. himself.  They immediately accepted my photo and published it.  Then they wanted to know how every member of the club came to appreciate Roy.  Someone went first and then things just sat there, so I assumed it was my “turn to go” and that’s how we end up here, with me telling them How and Why I Know Roy Blount, Jr., which my photograph almost certainly proves.

    Since early childhood, in Alabama, I have been vividly aware of, and surely inspired by General Robert E. Lee.  Coincidentally, when I was a little bit younger, a bookmaker I knew called me LightHorse Harry or, more frequently, just LightHorse.  I actually had never been given a nickname before, and I kinda liked LightHorse Harry, partially because the original LightHorse was General LightHorse Harry Lee, who as it turns out was Robert E. Lee’s daddy.  That is the same Robert E. Lee that Roy Blount, Jr. wrote a book about, which I bought, as you know, as a sleep aid.

    As a footnote, Lighthorse Harry Lee was actually named Henry, but Lighthorse Henry didn’t have that revolutionary ring to it.  So its a small world, and Southerners tend to stick together when they’re not seceding.  I hope you see the coincidence or irony here and let there be no doubt that I am the inventor of the English word “FaceBooking” which refers to spending time, of any length, on FaceBook.  And that is How and Why I know Roy Blount, Jr., who has his own FaceBook fan club.  –   Yours truly, LightHorse Harry Lipson III, in Boston, 8-23-14.


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  • Football: A Commentary

    I write this in response to a Boston Globe columnist’s article calling for phasing out of football and arguing that we should not watch football on TV any longer.
    The columnist correctly pointed out the issue of concussions and injuries in football.

    My response: Your article about the traumatic realities of football is accepted science.
    HOWEVER, AND IN SPITE OF IT ALL, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE AND LOOK FORWARD TO WATCHING AMERICAN COLLEGE AND PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL, both in person and most especially on HD color TV, in living color as the old TV slogan goes. I just can’t help myself. Football games are too colorful, exciting, interesting, compelling, spellbinding, wonderful, heart pounding, jump out of your La Z Boy enjoyable.

    We are all voyeurs. And I don’t watch football to see anyone get hurt. Injuries happen and brain injuries are a reality. I recognize the danger but I don’t accept personal responsibility for watching football. That is the disconnect. I get that it can be dangerous. I acknowledge your science. I buy that football can be linked to the Roman Circus. I understand the psychology and the human nature of Spectacle. Football, however, is not bloodsport, per se. I draw a line between the two.

    Professional bicycling is dangerous. Watch the Tour de France. Professional soccer is full of intentional contact with the aim to hurt your opponent. I give you the World Cup, for example. Skiing is inherently dangerous. Men’s lacrosse is no walk in the park either.

    I don’t apologize for football or my love of it. I don’t think I have to rationalize that. I don’t think I need to apologize for that. I don’t think football should be be turned into some sort of non-contact ballet. I do think that safer equipment and rules modifications which improve safety are important and ongoing. I’m not going to quit loving football. I revel in the history of college football, the fight songs, the uniforms, the halftime speeches, and the legacies of the great players and coaches. Roll Tide Roll. Go Patriots. Rah, Rah, Rah, Boola Boola, Sis Boom Bah, Dot the I, On Wisconsin, All the Live Long Day.

    The world wide popularity of sport is, in general, a good thing. It brings us together. We learn to respect rivalry. In general, War is a bad thing. Therein lies the difference. Football is a game with rules and the contests are officiated.

    If you want to vent, may I suggest railing against hunting, for example, where the object is to kill an animal or a bird. Hunting for pleasure is not sport, nor is it sporting. I don’t have a problem with hunting for food. Culling of herds is occasionally necessary. It’s great fun to be outdoors. I get the thrill of the chase, having hunted occasionally in my past. I like the whole deal except for pulling the trigger or drawing the bow. To me, it’s not justifiable, to kill for sport.


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HarryShotsRadioIcon

Monthly Archives: December 2011

Here’s To A Wonderful 2012 !!!

I want to wish you, my readers, the happiest and healthiest in 2012.  May those dreams you wish for,  come true, and be everything you always imagined.  May those dreams you keep to yourself add interest and meaning to your life.  May you find things working out in your favor.  If I could grant wishes, I would like you to all find satisfaction and contentment in the new year.  Laughing and crying make us better people.

Be brave. Be courageous.  Be forgiving.  First and foremost, of yourself.  Show kindness and patience to those closest to you.

Kick up your heels once in a while.   The writer Tom Robbins said, in  Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, that “taking small excursions when invited out of the blue, is God’s way of having angels ask you to dance.” (I paraphrase)

Let’s worry less.   My wish, my resolution, my hope is that we will be inscribed in the Book of Life for another year.  I look back asking for forgiveness.  I look forward with guarded optimism asking for all good things.  I hope the world finally recognizes your genius and mine.  I hope we rise to all occasions and notice when angels are inviting us to dance.  Happy New Year everyone.     HL

Boston Convention Center

The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center

“Sing Sing With A Swing” by Benny Goodman

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One of the greatest big band jazz tunes is Benny Goodman doing one of his signature instrumentals, a variation of the great “Sing, Sing, Sing,” here is Benny and the Band doing “Sing, Sing, With A Swing” which is today’s HarryShots Song of the Day.  Enjoy.  HL

December Morn

December Morn

Sugar Maples

Sugar Maples

“Pachelbel Canon” by The Canadian Brass

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Today’s post Christmas, HarryShots Song of the Day is The Canadian Brass performing “Pachelbel Canon in D.”  Enjoy.  HL

 

Light on the Lake

Light on Water

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

Merry Christmas to All

Merry Christmas to All

Mark E.

I found a name in the obits that jumped out at me last week.  It took me back to my freshman year in college at the University of Alabama where I was a new freshman pledge in a fraternity.

Long story, short; I was hazed, nearly every day, for the duration of my freshman year in college.  Mark E. was the Hazer in Chief.  There was Animal House-ish hazing, but plenty worse than that.  Mark E. liked to get in my face and shout, up close and personal.  He played the part of the drill sergeant in the movie that was my life back when I was a freshman pledge.  I was warned repeatedly that If I touched him once, I would be blackballed.  He  got a kick out of downgrading me in front of everyone.  The hazing was both verbal and physical.  I duckwalked the halls of my frat house on a regular basis, to his amusement, and that of others (at age 55, I had two total knee replacements).  I was paddled, hard, on occasions.  There were the usual push-ups.  They got pretty imaginative.   I provided entertainment to a few upperclass assholes.  Most of my pledge brothers were hazed in a slightly amusing, once-in-a-while way.  Not me, I got the full metal jacket hazing.  This “Brother” (upperclassman), Mark E. was the one who died last week.  It was his name that I read in the obituaries of the Birmingham News.  It said he was 65.

With the hazing, I suppose that I could have de-pledged and quit the fraternity.  I heard that from him, and many others, all the time.  I was their whipping boy.  It was not just Mark E. who hazed me, but he was the worst.

But I stuck with it.  I kept my anger in check and dealt with it all.  No one in the fraternity ever intervened on my behalf, or stopped it from happening.  A number of upperclass Brothers privately spoke with me, some saying that I should quit for my own good.  They said “why take it.  Just quit.”

I never waivered, never strongly considered leaving.  Also, I never told my family.  I didn’t tell anyone.  Everyone in the fraternity saw it go on.  A handful of my pledge brothers had my back and did what they could to help me through it.   I decided that I was in for the long haul and a long haul it was.  I was humiliated on a regular basis and I could not fight back.  It was ritual hazing 1950s-1960s style.  But I endured and hung in there.  Should I have stayed, I think yes.  Would I put up with it now, not for five minutes.  But I was seventeen years old, a freshman in college, and I toughed it out.

At the end of the year, on the night of Initiation into the fraternity, every pledge was secretly voted on by the Brotherhood.  As pledges, we were in the basement and were brought upstairs, one at a time, blindfolded.  There was a widespread belief that I was going to be blackballed.  One down vote by a Brother was all it would take.   I had no idea if I would get in or not.  The Brothers had hung that over our heads all year.

I was blindfolded by two Brothers who led me up the stairs, one holding onto me under each arm.  I was marched into the Chapter Room.  Even though I was blindfolded, I could tell the lights were off or very low.  I was spoken to by the chapter president, Alan A.   He was standing right next to me, and he asked me how bad I wanted in. Then I was  jostled and there was a lot of shoving and yelling.  I heard them all yelling that if I wanted in, I had to “go through” Mark E.; literally take him on.  Someone removed the blindfold, I saw I was surrounded by all the Brothers,  and I looked around and found him.

I charged him wildly with all the pent up frustration of the whole year of hazing.  I was scared, enraged, unbelievably angry, and I really went after him.  It took a bunch of them to hold me back before I got to him.   There was a lot of cursing and shouting while they were trying to hold me down.  Finally I heard them telling me over and over that I was IN.  It took a moment for me to realize they were laughing and clapping me on the back and telling me I was a Brother and that I had made it.  They let go of me and asked me shake hands with Mark E., which I did hesitantly and reluctantly.

After my freshman year, I had a truly wonderful time in the fraternity. I knew I had earned respect for taking it and being strong through the hazing. It turned out to be a great life experience. Looking back at college, I laughed a lot, I had lots of friends. It was the time of my life. I would not trade it for anything. That was in the late 1960s, in Alabama, where the Greek fraternity system was the center of social life on our campus.  I totally related to the frat house dances in  Animal House.  I partied to a bunch of Otis Days.

So Mark E. died last week.  I never spoke to him or saw him after college.  Obviously, I never forgot him. I can’t forgive him, but I have not had malice toward him for decades.  I know who he was.  My bitterness faded away a long time ago.

Reading his obituary, I was surprised to learn he served in the Vietnam War. He apparently had no wife, kids, or close family.  The paper said his closest relative was a cousin.  They didn’t say much else other than he loved Bama athletics, Broadway shows, and horse racing.

Having outlived him and knowing that his life is over, I am not exactly sure how I feel about it all.  The best I can come up with is that I finally feel sorry for him.  Maybe that is payback enough.  HL

Nature’s Christmas Card

Nature's Christmas Card

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir

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Click here to download song at Amazon.com

Back again with the Mormom Tabernacle Choir, except this time it is the Mormon Tabernacle Hand Bell Choir with “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” today’s HarryShots Song of the HoliDay.  Enjoy.  HL

The Promise

The Promise

“Suo Gan” by John Williams, from the movie soundtrack of Empire of the Sun

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Click here to download the mp3 of Suo Gan, by John Williams, from the sountrack of Empire of the Sun, via Amazon.com

The greatest living composer, John Williams, adapted “Suo Gan” for the sountrack to the Spielberg movie, Empire of the Sun.  There are many versions of Suo Gan.  To my ear, none rival or compare to this moving version of this incredible song.  I give it my highest recommendation and it is today’s Harry Shots Song of the HoliDays.  Enjoy.  HL

Autumn in Massachusetts

Autumn in Massachusetts

Christmas Medley by Placido Domingo

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Placido Domingo at his very best, pours himself into this Medley of Christmas Carols.  Included in this song are Joy to the World, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Good King Wencelas, O Little Town of Bethlehem, and the 1st Noel.  Enjoy the Christmas Medley as today’s HarryShots Song of the Day.  HL

 

The End of the War in Iraq/ Now What Next?

American combat troops crossed into Kuwait last night, and the War in Iraq officially came to an end.   I am profoundly struck by the quiet, “ho-hum” nature of this news.

The Iraq War was among our nation’s longest.  The cost was incredibly high.  Far too high in lives lost, lives destroyed, and in “treasure” as they say.  Lies, and the aggression of the Bush 43 administration, including George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney boldly and with malice aforethought, deceived the American people and the world, in taking us to war.

The War, and the manner in which we entered into it, was Topic One for years in the American dialogue.  Our leaving last night barely seemed to be noticed.  No agate type headlines, no breaking news bulletins interrupting our football games, and TV re-runs.

Most of the “democracy we established” in Iraq will largely evaporate.  Iran will fill the void.  Bombings and regular acts of terror in Iraq will become commonplace.  Kurds will try to reassert their independence.

We are working/hoping for regime change in Iran.  Israel and/or a Western Coalition/United States will, at some point in the short term, strategically bomb numerous Iranian nuclear facilities.  It will ignite the region in anti-Israeli/anti -American fervor.  It may lead to another Arab-Israeli war.  At the very least, Israel will come under withering criticism, rocket attacks, and acts of terror.  The Arab “street” will erupt in bitterness toward Israel and the U.S.

The War in Iraq was a great failure.  The next chapter will be far more important in determining meaningful long term peace in the entire Middle East and beyond.

True peace, honest self governance, equality, safety, security, and the chance of a decent life are goals to which most in the Middle East aspire.  Someday Peace will come.  That is a very long way from where we are as 2012 begins.

Nevertheless, tonight the War in Iraq officially ends and that, for damn sure, is very good news.     HL

 

 

Sky Flyer

Sky Flyer

“Last Month of the Year” by the Tarbox Ramblers

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Click here to download mp3 of “Last Month of the Year”, at Amazon.com         

The Tarbox Ramblers originally came out of the Cambridge, MA music scene.  They have a raw hard blues sound which is fairly primitive and harkens back to Otha Turner, but as a bues rock band, if you can imagine that.  I love their hard driven “Last Month of the Year” an old African-American church/gospel hymn.  Done here like no other, it is the HarryShots Song of the HoliDay.  Check it out.  HL

Closing for the Winter

Closing for the Winter

“Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” by John Starling

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Click here to download the mp3 of this song, at Amazon.com

John Starling is a fine artist and his version of “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” from the album, Sugar Plums:  Holiday Tunes from Sugar Hill, is today’s HarryShots Song of the HoliDay.  Enjoy.  HL

Wind Powered Tall Ship

Wind Powered Tall Ship

“The Christmas Song” (Chestnuts Roasting by An Open Fire) by Mel Torme

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Click here to download this song at Amazon.com

 

The Christmas Song” was co-written by Mel Torme, who made this his signature song.  Back in 1944, Mel wrote this with pal, Bob Wells on a scorching summer day in Southern California.  Sorry to burst your bubble.  They were trying to think “cool thoughts” and came up with the whole song in less than an hour and a half.  Not bad.

Christmas carols don’t have to be old to be great (unless you consider 1944 old, which it certainly is not).  So here is Mel Torme singing his original song which is the HarryShots Song of the HoliDay.  Enjoy.  HL

 

 

Almost Christmas at Walden Pond

Almost Christmas (at Walden Pond)

Reflecting: Walden Pond

Walden Pond

“Beautiful Star of Bethlehem by Faith, Family, and Friends

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Not sure where I ran across this group, but I’m glad to have found them.  I am unsure if they are a group in and of themselves, or a larger group effort from various musicians.  Here is a great version of the wonderful Christmas carol, “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” and it is today’s HarryShots.com Song of the HoliDay.  Check it out.  HL

Christian Science- Mary Baker Eddy

Mary Baker Eddy

The Brussel Sprout Kid

The Brussel Sprout Kid       (EXPLORE)

Check Out The Pilot

Wheels Up.  American Eagle out of 500 ft.  Check out the pilot.

Almost Christmas

Almost Christmas

“The Holly and The Ivy” by The New York Choral Artists

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Click here to download the mp3 at Amazon.com

The Holly and The Ivy” is believed to have been written and first performed in the early 1700s.  No one knows its author, but it was published in England, which makes sense because this song is of Gaelic/GBR roots.  I am told that holly and ivy were both worshipped as long ago as The Druids, which is going back a long way.

This version, today’s HarryShots Song of the HoliDay is sung by the New York Choral Artists, from their album “O Come All Ye Faithful.”  Enjoy.  HL

 

“Silver Bells” by Margaret Whiting and Jimmy Wakely

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Margaret Whiting was a very popular singer in the 1940s and 1950s.  She died this year and I pay homage to her by making her version of “Silver Bells” our HarryShots Song of the Day.  Interestingly, Margaret’s father was a well known songwriter (“Hooray for Hollywood”) and she was performing for Johnny Mercer at the age of 7.

Silver Bells” was first heard at the movies.  Bob Hope sang it on the big screen.  Bing Crosby was the first to record “Silver Bells” and it is now a Christmas classic.  Enjoy  HL

Mr. and Mrs. Jack O. Lantern

Mr. and Mrs. Jack O. Lantern

Roanoke Road

Roanoke Road

“Sleigh Ride” by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops

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Click to download the mp3 at Amazon.com

Well it becomes the Christmas Holidays when Arthur Fiedler is on the old turntable leading his beloved Boston Pops in Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride.”  Anderson, a Cambridge native, and Maestro Fiedler had a special working relationship over the years, and it was many a Leroy Anderson piece that debuted with the Boston Pops.

Sleigh Ride” is a great picker upper and crowd pleaser, and it is today’s HarryShots Song of the Holidays.  Enjoy.  HL

Tough to Tackle

Tough to Tackle

“Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” by Jerry Douglas

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Click to download the song at Amazon.com

Not only is this one of my favorite Holiday songs, this version is by Jerry Douglas, the finest dobro player this side of Timbuktu.  The entire album is one to cherish, and it is hard to pick one song from the record.  That being said, here is today’s HarryShots Song for the Day, Jerry Douglas and “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem.”  HL

The Three Pumpkins

The Three Pumpkins

“Go Tell It On the Mountain” by Eric Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops

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Click here to download the song at Amazon.com

Well, here we go with the first of our twenty-four Holiday Songs running from December 2 through December 25.  We are starting out with Erik Kunzel at the

baton, directing the wonderful Cinncinnati Pops that Maestro Kunzel was so instrumental (pun intented) in bringing to prominence.  One of my favorite conductors and one of America’s most energetic during his long career, I honor Erik, the Cincinnati Pops, and the great Afro-American spiritual that is “Go Tell It On theMountain,” today’s HarryShots Song of the Day.  Spread some holiday cheer, y’all.  HL

In December The HarryShots Songs of the Day Will Focus On Superb Holiday Music

For December, the HarryShots Songs of the Day will be exclusively featuring wonderful holiday music.  I have chosen my favorite songs to share with you and I hope it brightens your season.  Some of the songs are well known and popular.  You’ll here the best version of those songs.  Some of the songs are not so well known and again I will choose the good stuff, that I hope you will enjoy.

We cover a lot of musical ground here at HarryShots and the holiday music will be varied as well.  The daily song selection will come from such artists as the Morman Tabernacle Choir, Margaret Whiting, Buddy Clark, Patty Loveless, Dan Crary, John Starling, Jerry Douglas, Yo Yo Ma, Robin Petrie, Bryan Bowers,  the Philadelphia Brass, Leroy Anderson and the Boston Pops, the Harlem Parlour Musicians, Peter Rowan, John Williams, Stile Antico, The Elizabethan Singers, Celtica among others through the month of December, which will conclude with a daily variation of “Auld Lang Syne” between December 26 and New Years Day.

I hope that you will each drop by daily during December for a taste of my favorite holiday music.

Happy Holidays,

Harry

A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault“.   –  John Henry Newman

Sunlight in the Forest

Sunlight in a Forest Woods

“Love’s Old Sweet Song” by Thurl Ravencroft and The Mellomen

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Click here to download “Love’s Old Sweet Song” at Amazon.com

“Love’s Old Sweet Song” is what my Mother sang to me as a bedtime lullaby when I was a little tyke.  I remember this song with all of the fondness and all of the nostalgia my heart can hold.  It is one of my favorites for purely sentimental reasons.  “Love’s Old Sweet Song” was probably the first song I ever heard for obvious reasons.

Today would have been my Mom’s 91st birthday.  Sadly, she passed away in 1971.  So this one is for you, Mom.  Happy Birthday.  Today’s HarryShots Song of the Day is “Love’s Old Sweet Song” sung barbarshop quartet style by The Mellomen with Thurl Ravencroft.  Oh my.  HL


The Quotes of "Whatever"

  • bbhMost American children suffer too much mother and too little father” – Gloria Steinem

     

    The HarryShots.com Quotes of Wha (whatever)


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  • maskPeace begins with a smile - Mother Teresa

     

    The HarryShots.com “Quotes of Whatever”


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  • Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein




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  • Never interrupt your opponent while he’s making a mistake” - Napoleon Bonaparte

     

    The HarryShots Quotes of Whatever


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  • sonny

    shines2

    If you don’t know the blues… there’s no point in picking up the guitar and playing

    rock and roll or any other form of popular music” —-
    Keith Richards

    …from The HarryShots.com Quotes of Whatever

    .


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  • What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists, is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant.” - Bobby Kennedy




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  • Enjoy a safe lunch. Use a condiment.

     

    The HarryShots Quotes of Whatever


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  • Dream as though you will live forever; live as if you may die tomorrow

     

     

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  • No man is happy who does not think himself so” – Publilus Syrus




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  • There is nothing wrong in America that can’t be fixed with what is right in America.” – Bill Clinton




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  • If you’re always battling against getting older, you’re always going to be unhappy, because it’s going to happen anyhow.” – Mitch Albom




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  • You know there is a problem with the education system when you realize that out of the 3 R’s only one begins with an R.” – Dennis Miller




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  • I have six locks on my door all in a row. When I go out, I lock every other one. I figure no matter how long somebody stands there picking the locks, they are always locking three.” – Elaine Boosler




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  • Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter - Martin Luther King, Jr.

     

     

    The HarryShots Quotes of Whatever


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  • When I eventually met Mr. Right I had no idea that his first name was Always” – Rita Rudner

     

    The HarryShots Quotes of Whatever


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  • It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” – John Wooden




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  • Isn’t having a smoking section in a restaurant sorta like having a peeing section in a pool?” - anonymous




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  • When it rains….rain’s my choice.” – Dr. Harry “Big Daddy” Lipson, Jr.




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  • Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. Love me and I may be forced to love you.” – William Arthur Ward




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  • The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong” – Mohandas Gandhi

     

     

    the HarryShots.com quotes of Whatever


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  • Men that are bald have simply grown too tall for their hair.” – anonymous




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  • Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.” – Etty Hillesum




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  • The greatest mistake you can make in life… is to continually fear that you’ll make one - Elbert Hubbard

     

    The HarryShots Quotes of Whatever





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  • A synonym is a word you use when you can’t spell the word you first thought of

     

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  • I envy people who have the capacity to sit with another human being and find them endlessly interesting, I would rather watch TV. Of course this becomes eventually known as the other person.” - Carrie Fisher




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  • Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” – Mark Twain




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  • FUNDon’t cry because its over.

    Smile because it happened.

    - Dr. Seuss

     

    the harryShots.com “Quotes of Whatever”


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  • IN HONOR OF THE 39TH RYDER CUP. GO USA!

    John, one of the older club members, was about to putt when he noticed a funeral procession driving slowly past the golf course. In response, he took off his cap and solemnly bowed his head. Another member of the foursome asked, “Did you know the deceased, John?” Nodding, John donned his cap and started to putt again. “In fact,” he said, “today is our fiftieth wedding anniversary.”

     

    The HarryShots Quotes of Whatever


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  • Everybody needs his memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door.” – Saul Bellow




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  • You know, all that really matters is that the people you love are happy and healthy. Everything else is just sprinkles on the sundae.” - Paul Walker




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  • I am not a cat man, but a dog man, and all felines can tell this at a glance – a sharp, vindictive glance.” – James Thurber




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  • James Hood Was Here

    FosterIt is reported that James Hood died today. from THE TUSCALOOSA NEWS 1-17-2013:-

    { “James Hood, who faced down George Wallace’s stand in the schoolhouse door to help integrate the University of Alabama 50 years ago, died Thursday afternoon at the age of 70, in his hometown of Gadsden. James did a great thing for the University of Alabama,” said E. Culpepper Clark, former dean of UA’s College of Communication & Information Sciences, and author of “The Schoolhouse Door: Segregation’s Last Stand at the University of Alabama.”

    “With Vivian Malone, he liberated the university to serve all the people of Alabama and thereby join the ranks of the nation’s flagship universities.”

    Hood and Vivian Malone Jones, who died in 2005, attempted to register and pay fees June 11, 1963, at UA’s Foster Auditorium, accompanied by Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach. Gov. George Wallace, surrounded by a phalanx of state troopers, barred them, attempting to keep his infamous inaugural promise of “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” Later that day, Wallace backed down after President John F. Kennedy federalized the National Guard. }

    JAMES HOOD WAS HERE. Thank you Sir. Lord, may he rest in peace.HL


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  • Reminds me of my safari in Africa. Somebody forgot the corkscrew and for several days we had to live on nothing but food and water.” – W. C. Fields




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  • For me, the lame part of the Sixties was the political part, the social part. The real part was the spiritual part.” – Jerry Garcia




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  • “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”  -  Harriet Tubman




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  • I signed with the Milwaukee Braves for three-thousand dollars. That bothered my dad at the time because he didn’t have that kind of dough. But he eventually scraped it up.” – Bob Uecker, former Major Leaguer and baseball funnyman




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  • tubaBe who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind” – Dr. Seuss

     

    …from the harryShots.com “GoodQuotations”


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  • Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are.” – Bertolt Brecht




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  • Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” ― Marthe Troly-Curtin




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  • gggNo one has ever drowned themselves in sweat” – Coach Lou Holtz

     

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  • Confidence is what you have before you understand the problem.” ― Woody Allen




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  • swfThe Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself” - Benjamin Franklin

     

    from the harryShots.com Good Quotations


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  • Be as smart as you can, but remember that it is always better to be wise than to be smart.” – Alan Alda




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  • Baby used to play with her hula hoops, now she tells her problems to therapy groups” – John Prine, from “The Sins of Memphisto”

     

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  • I’m no different from anyone else with two arms, two legs, and 4200 hits” – Pete Rose




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  • Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible” – The Dalai Lama

     

     

    The HarryShots Quotes of WhAtEvEr


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  • If we all did things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” – Thomas Edison

     

     

    The HarryShots Quotes of Whatever


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  • SHIPWe cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust our sails

     

     

    …from the harryShots.com Quotes of Whatever


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  • I don’t believe you have to be better than everybody else. I believe you have to be better than you ever thought you could be.” – Ken Venturi, U.S. Open Golf Champion




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  • Poverty is the mother of crime” - Marcus Aurelius




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