Saturday, July 04, 2020

Oh yes, there will be baseball!

Yesterday, Rizz was back where he belongs, within The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field!

Saturday 9

Unfamiliar with James Cagney's 1942 version of this song? Hear it here.

1) The flag we currently fly, with 50 stars and 13 stripes, was designed by a high school student. When Alaska and Hawaii were added, President Eisenhower invited Americans to submit designs for how best to incorporate the two new states. Ike chose 17-year-old Robert G. Heft's submission from more than 1500 entries. Tell us about a contest you entered and won. (Or really hoped to win.) I fantasize like mad every time I buy an Illinois State Lottery ticket. (It's more than $2.5 million this week!)

2) The government also has another of Mr. Heft's designs waiting: one that incorporates a 51st star if another state is added. When you were in school, did you memorize the states and their capitals? No. Not knowing the state capitals really hasn't been a hardship, either.

3) Six American flags have been planted on the surface of the moon. Those are undoubtedly the flags farthest from you this morning. Where is an American flag flying near you today? The post office is around the corner, and then the library across the street from the post office, and then the WWI memorial in the park next to the library. Stand in the right spot and you can see three big flags, all at once.

4) This version of the song was performed by James Cagney in the 1942 classic, Yankee Doodle Dandy. Have you ever seen it? A million times! It's one that I watch whenever it's on. In fact, it's on TCM today.

5) In that film, Cagney portrayed George M. Cohan, the composer of this week's song. In 1940, Cohan was honored by with a Congressional Gold Medal. In presenting him with the award, President Roosevelt specifically thanked Cohan for "You're a Grand Old Flag," "Yankee Doodle Dandy," and "Over There." What's your favorite patriotic song? "America, The Beautiful." When we sing it at church, we always include the third verse. I admit it never fails to leave my a little teary. Someday we'll live up to it, I know we will!
"Oh, beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife
Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness and every gain divine."

6) Though a performer his entire life, Cohan disliked listening to recordings of his own voice. How about you? Do you like your singing and/or speaking voice? Nope

7) James Cagney won the Oscar for Best Actor his performance as George M. Cohan. Also nominated that year was Gary Cooper, who portrayed Lou Gehrig in Pride of the Yankees. Tell us about another movie about a great American. Everyone knows Speilberg's Lincoln, and it's wonderful. It's so highly regarded by Lincoln scholors that that the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum exhibited its  costumes and sets.

But I adore this one, too. Abe Lincoln in Illinois is another terrific movie. It begins when a young Abraham leaves Kentucky and settles in Illinois. It ends with his election to the Presidency, when he boards the train in Springfield and heads to Washington DC to save our nation. This one devotes time to Lincoln's early romance with Ann Rutledge -- a story I want to believe but many Lincoln scholars now dismiss -- so it's not considered as historically accurate as Spielberg's. Still, it's based largely on fact, using many actual Lincoln quotes/speeches, and is heartwarming and highly entertaining. It's available on Amazon Prime

Oscar trivia: Both Raymond Massey and Daniel Day-Lewis were nominated when they played Mr. Lincoln in these movies. Day-Lewis won. Frank Langella and Anthony Hopkins were both nominated for playing Richard Nixon. I don't mean to remember this stuff, I just do.

 8) As a teen, Cagney juggled high school with a variety of jobs, including bell hop and delivery boy, and gave all his earnings to his family. Looking back, Cagney was grateful that he had to begin work early, saying, "I feel sorry for the kid who has too cushy a time of it. Suddenly he has to come face-to-face with the realities of life without his mama and papa to do his thinking for him." Do you agree? Yes. I've had to be independent for a long time, and I think that life circumstance made me tougher and more savvy.

9) Cagney had a rebellious streak. His boss, studio head Jack Warner, nicknamed Cagney, "The Professional Againster." Cagney joked that he enjoyed earning the title. What about you? Are you rebellious? I've always questioned authority, a character trait that has come in handy during Covid19. Never forget that our President first commented -- dismissively -- about the virus back in January. He said, "We have it totally under control." That was more than 125,000 deaths ago. Thousands of businesses have gone bankrupt since then. Millions of lives have felt its impact. Imagine how different our nation would look now, in July, if our President had been serious about masks, social distancing, ventilators, PPE and testing back then! When a vaccine is developed, can we trust him to handle its distribution any better? Question his authority/mismanagement and hold him responsible when you vote in November.