Yahtzee History

Saturday night we had some guests over and we all played Yahtzee. It was the first time I’d played it since the 1980s at least. I had a good time and looked up the history of the game.

In 1954 a wealthy anonymous Canadian couple, who called it The Yacht Game invented the game to play aboard their yacht. They would invite friends and teach them. In 1956 they went to toy maker Edwin S. Lowe to make some games for their friends as Christmas gifts. Edwin liked the game so much that he wanted to buy the rights to it. The couple sold the rights for the amount of making them a 1000 games.

When Edwin released it on the market it did not do well in it’s first year. The game could not be explained easily in an ad.  It had many nuances and interesting things about it and they can only be understood if the game was actually played.

Finally, Edwin tried a different approach. He started to have Yahtzee parties hoping to spread the news about the game by word of mouth. That started to work and Yahtzee got extremely popular. During Lowe’s ownership alone, over forty million copies of the game were sold in the United States of America as well as around the globe

In 1973  Milton Bradley Company bought the E.S. Lowe Company and in 1984 Hasbro, Inc. acquires the Milton Bradley Company and the game.

The origins of the game came from the  Puerto Rican game Generala and the English games of Poker Dice and Cheerio. Another game, Yap, shows close similarities to Yahtzee.

 

http://www.twoop.com/yahtzee/

 

Charlie Chaplin – The Kid

This 1921 movie by Charlie Chaplin teamed him up with young Jackie Coogan. You may remember the adult Coogan as Uncle Fester on the Addams Family. It’s a great film with some classic scenes between Chaplin and Coogan. This was Chaplin’s first feature film. He was finishing up his First National contract as he co-founded United Artists with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith.

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The Jackie Coogan and Chaplin…Jackie Coogan as Uncle Fester

The story starts off with a woman (Edna Purviance) that abandons her baby in the back of an expensive car hoping that the owners will give her baby a life that she can not. The car is then stolen and the baby is left on the street. The Tramp (Chaplin) finds the baby and takes it home and raises him. Five years pass and he loves the kid and together they have a great scheme going on.

The kid goes around throwing rocks through windows and out of nowhere later on comes The Tramp who would just so happen to have glass and materials with him to fix the window for a price.

The authorities soon find out that the Tramp is not the kid’s father. While this is going on the mother who is doing really well now is looking for her child. The Tramp and Kid are pursued and in this film, Chaplin had some serious and tender moments combining comedy with pathos which at the time was a turning point. The movie was considered a masterpiece when it was released.

One scene that jumps out is the scene where social services are physically taking the child away and Chaplin fights…not comically but really fights to keep the Kid.

The film was written, directed, produced and starred… Charlie Chaplin. Edna Purviance makes her last appearance acting with Chaplin. She would be directed by him one more time in a drama as a leading lady. This movie kicked off Coogan’s very successful child acting career.

Jackie Coogan would become a star in the twenties. He earned 3-4 million dollars acting and when he turned 21 in 1935 he thought he was set for life only to find out the money was gone. His mother and step-father spent all of his money on furs, jewelry, and cars. His mom said that Jackie enjoyed himself acting and no promises were ever made to give him any of the money. Jackie sued his mom in 1938 and only received 125,000 dollars of his money.

Coogan had financial problems for a long while and even went to Chaplin for help which Chaplin gladly gave him money.

One good thing came out of it. The “Coogan Act” which made parents set aside at least 15 percent of their child’s earnings to a trust fund.

If you get a chance this is a great short entertaining movie.

 

 

This is Spinal Tap

I remember seeing this movie with some buddies in the 1980s and we all loved it. A great mockumentary of the fictional rock group Spinal Tap and their dying drummers. There are many quotable lines in this movie and they have stayed with me since I saw it the first time. I’ve met some people who didn’t get this movie at all and some who loved it.

The movie starred Michael McKeon as singer/guitarist David Saint Hubbins, Christopher Guest as guitarist Nigel Tufnel (reminded me of Jeff Beck), Harry Shearer as bassist Derek Smalls, Tony Hendra as manager Ian Faith, David Kaff as keyboard player Vic Savage and R.J. Parnell as drummer Mick Shrimpton…also Rob Reiner as the Marty DiBergi the filmmaker.

Harry Shearer, Michael McKean, and Christopher Guest actually wrote, played, and sang the music.

The movie was released in 1984 and started slow but built a cult following. At first, some people thought it was about a real band and they would ask Reiner why he would do a documentary on a band no one had heard of.

Christopher Guest said he was inspired at an LA hotel in 1974 when a British band came in and the manager of the band asked the bass player if he left his bass at the airport. The bass player replied I don’t know if I left it…did I leave it? Do you get my bass at the airport? Guest said this went on for 20 minutes back and forth and it stuck with him.

They did have a basic story but the movie was ad-libbed with no script. They had over 100 hours of film and had to edit it down. They have regrouped many times and played live concerts as Spinal Tap.

This Is Spinal Tap was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry because it is a film that is considered “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress.

My favorite bits? Stonehenge, Nigel’s “Mach” piece, these go to 11, Nigel’s bread, you can’t dust vomit… there are too many to name them all. check the videos out at the bottom.

 

Some of it hits home according to some rock stars.

Quotes about the movie

The Edge – “It’s so hard to keep things fresh, and not to become a parody of yourself,”. “And if you’ve ever seen that movie Spinal Tap, you will know how easy it is to parody what we all do. The first time I ever saw it, I didn’t laugh. I wept. I wept because I recognized so much and so many of those scenes.”

Ozzy Osbourne reportedly thought it was a real documentary. ” “They seemed quite tame compared to what we got up to”

Joe Perry from Aerosmith –  “It was great, every bit as brilliant as it was supposed to be, so good. Even then, we had been through it all six times. I told Steven the next day, ‘You’ve got to see this movie! It’s so good. It’s hilarious.’”

Steven Tyler from Aerosmith – “That movie bummed me out, because I thought, ‘How dare they? That’s all real, and they’re mocking it’

Pete Townsend –  “Keith Moon “was ‘Spinal Tap incarnate.”

Stonehenge

 

These go to 11

 

Nigel’s Bread

 

Can’t dust vomit

 

Trailer

 

 

 

Artist Neysa McMein

I discovered Neysa McMein through Harpo Marx’s autobiography “Harpo Speaks” and I looked up her artwork. I’ve seen her art plenty of times by reading and collecting 20’s and 30’s magazines but never knew the artist. She was also a member of the famed Algonquin Round Table.

She sold millions of magazines with her covers for McCall’s, Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, McClure’s, Woman’s Home Companion, Photoplay, Liberty, Associated Sunday Magazine, Ladies World. Ad work: memorably for Palmolive; also Cadillac, Lucky Strike, Adam’s Gum, Coke, Hummingbird Hosiery, Gainsborough Hair Nets, Colgate.

She painted portraits of two sitting presidents, Warren G. Harding, and Herbert Hoover.

She also created the first Betty Crocker and updated her through the years.

 

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Neysa marching in 1917 in a Suffrage Parade.

Harpo Marx said this about Neysa: The biggest love affair in New York City was between me—along with two dozen other guys—and Neysa McMein. Like me, Neysa was an unliterary, semi-illiterate gate-crasher at the Algonquin. But unlike me, she was beautiful and bursting with talk and talent. A lot of us agreed she was the sexiest gal in town. Everybody agreed she was the best portrait and cover artist of the times.

She taught Harpo Marx how to paint and according to Harpo she only had one failing as a teacher: Neysa had one failing as an art instructor. It was, as far as I knew, her only failing, period. That was her passion for fires. If a siren or bell should sound during one of our late-night seminars, that was the end of the seminar. Neysa was such a fire buff that she once dashed to Penn Station and jumped on a train when she heard there was a four-alarm fire burning in Philadelphia.

The Harpo quotes are from his autobiography “Harpo Speaks.”

Neysa died in 1949 and was inducted into the Society of Illustrators’ Hall of Fame in 1984.

To see more of her artwork check out this from Pinterest. 

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20 Songs Classic Radio Has Worn Out

Everyone’s list will be different but classic rock radio has just overplayed these songs. It does not mean I don’t/didn’t like the song to begin with…some I didn’t…some I did… There are more than this but I kept it at 20. No need for me to post youtube links…just turn on a classic rock station and they will come to you.

I’ve tried to keep it one per band or artist. The order of these is not really important…you could pull them out of a hat and be just as well. Sometimes the artists have other hits that you don’t hardly hear but no… they stick to the old reliables.

Radio has ruined these for me. Yes, I’m older and have heard them more than some other people but my 18-year-old son suggested a few of them.

  1. Taking Care of Business – Bachman Turner Overdrive – I liked this song at one time…Now I would pull a hamstring getting up to turn it off.
  2. Hotel California – Eagles  – I still like the solos at the end with Joe Walsh and Don Felder but the rest I can do without.
  3. More Than A Feeling – Boston  – At one time it was refreshing and different. Radio has worked this song like the town pump.
  4. In The Air Tonight – Phil Collins (just one of many) His songs saturated the market so much in the 80s that is was enough for 3 lifetimes
  5. Jukebox Hero – Foreigner – I know huge Foreigner fans but I’m not one of them. This one I know more than I should.
  6. Feel Like Making Love – Bad Company – Not a well-written song to begin with…it doesn’t get better with more spins. They have good songs…Painted Face, Crazy Circles but they don’t get played as much.
  7. Don’t Stop Believing – Journey – Yes it’s catchy and an eighties theme…it fit at the end of the Sopranos…but I can do without it.
  8. Start Me Up – Rolling Stones – Oh how I loved this song when it was released. I liked it a decade later…until Microsoft used it and since then you would think it was the Stones only song.
  9. Tom Sawyer – Rush – See number 5
  10. The Joker – Steve Miller – Hanspostcard says it all.
  11. Money – Pink Floyd – Great band and they have so many others they could play.
  12. Roundabout Yes – When I hear the octave on the guitar I spin the dial like a top to another station.
  13. Sweet Home AlabamaLynyrd Skynyrd – In the south where I live this song is required listening…. over and over and over…They have better songs…
  14. Sharp Dressed Man – ZZ Top – I loved the video, the car, and the girls in the video but the song no more. How about the older ZZ Top?
  15. Bad to the Bone – George Thorogood & the Destroyers – In high school alone I heard it enough.
  16. Old Time Rock and Roll – Bob Seger – The first 5 times I heard it…I liked it…but after the 1, 855th time…no more.
  17. Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin – It’s been played backward, forward and sideways…and the hidden message is the same…a worn out masterpiece.
  18. Barracuda Heart – This and Magic Man are like the bookends of worn out songs.
  19. Black Water – Dobbie Brothers – I’ve never bought a record by them and they had great musicians in that band…but this is nauseatingly overplayed
  20. You Give Love a Bad Name – Bon Jovi – Not for me the first time or the many times after…in cars, shopping centers, and grocery stores.

To be fair…there are songs that are worn out but yet I still listen to… Who Are You, Baba O’Riley, Hey Jude, Lola, Paint It Black, Brown Eyed Girl…

 

Remembering The Waltons

In the early 70s Television was going through a bout of criticism by the public because of its violence, there was the fear of government intervention and censorship. CBS decided to make the “Homecoming” into a series. Their reasoning was that once this family-oriented series aired and if it proved a failure, they would have shown they tried to put out a show that the public wanted. But the show did not fail. It took a little time, but it found its audience and CBS unexpectedly found itself with a smash hit on its hands.

The Waltons have been made fun of through the years. Other shows such as Good Times took shots at it for being too wholesome. I watched it when it was originally on. I liked the show and my mom thought I loved the show so she got me a Waltons Lunchbox. So while my buddies had the Superfriends, Evel Knievel, and cool lunchboxes I had the Waltons…yea my buddies got some mileage out of that but it was ok…I would love to have that lunchbox now.

A few years ago I got the complete DVD set and started to watch them again. The series had such quality scripts and the children were believable but the ones who made the show to me were Will Geer and Ellen Corby.

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Will Geer’s grandpa was a grandpa everyone would love to have. Johnboy (Richard Thomas) was the lead to the show but when he left it remained solid to me. When Will Geer died the show missed him terribly. Ellen Corby’s grandma could be spicy and cantankerous and she helped balance the show from the sometimes sugary episodes.

The show ages well because it was set in the depression era and that is what you get until later on in the show’s run. The show remained a quality show in part because writer Earl Hamner Jr. remained with the show the nine years it was on. The show ended up winning 11 Emmy Awards…Good Night Johnboy became a catchphrase that you still hear today.

 

 

The Algonquin Round Table

I’ve read about this gathering for years. Writers, Editors, Artists, Humorists, Actors, Actresses and Reporters would gather at the Algonquin Hotel for what has been known as the 10-year lunch. They would hold court jesting with each other about a number of topics. It was not the place for the thin-skinned. Groucho Marx, the king of insults never felt comfortable there. He once said, “The price of admission is a serpent’s tongue and a half-concealed stiletto.” 

Round Tabler Edna Ferber, who called them “The Poison Squad,” wrote, “They were actually merciless if they disapproved. I have never encountered a more hard-bitten crew. But if they liked what you had done, they did say so publicly and whole-heartedly.” Their standards were high, their vocabulary fluent, fresh, and very tough. Both casual and sharp-witted, they had incredible integrity about their work and endless ambition. Some of the members of the Round Table came together to work on each other projects. They essentially networked with each other. George Kaufman teamed up with Edna Ferber and Marc Connelly on some of his stage comedies, including Dulcy and The Royal Family. Harold Ross of The New Yorker hired both Dorothy Parker as a book reviewer and Robert Benchley as a drama critic.

By 1925, the Round Table was famous. What had started as a private gathering became public. The country-at-large was now attentive to their every word—people often coming to stare at them during lunch. Some members began to tire of the constant publicity. The time they spent entertaining and being entertained took its toll on several of the Algonquin members. In 1927, the execution of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, whose case had divided the country and the Round Table… seemed to cast a pall over the group’s antics.

Dorothy Parker believed strongly in the pair’s innocence, and upon their deaths, she remarked “I had heard someone say and so I said too, that ridicule is the most effective weapon. Well, now I know that there are things that never have been funny and never will be. And I know that ridicule may be a shield but it is not a weapon.”

As America entered the Depression, the bonds that had held the group together started to break. Many members moved to Hollywood for work or on to other interests. It didn’t officially end…it just faded. All in all, it lasted around 10 years.

The last gathering of the Algonquin Round Table was when Alexander Woollcott died in 1943. They all hadn’t met there in years…but the surviving members went straight there after the funeral for the last time.

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Members and Part time-Members who would drop by

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George S. Kaufman (1889–1961): Playwright, New York Times drama editor, producer, director, actor. Wrote forty-five plays (twenty-six hits), won two Pulitzer Prizes.

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Alexander Woollcott (1887–1943): Drama critic for New York Times and New York World, CBS radio star as the Town Crier, model for the character of Sheridan Whiteside in Kaufman and Hart’s “The Man Who Came to Dinner”.

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Beatrice B. Kaufman (1894–1945): Editor, writer, socialite. Married to George.

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Harpo Marx (1888–1964): Actor, comedian, musician, card player.

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Dorothy Parker (1893–1967): Vanity Fair drama critic, New Yorker critic. Celebrated poet, short-story writer, playwright. Wrote Hollywood screenplays. Champion for social justice.

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Franklin P. Adams (1881–1960): Columnist at the New York Tribune, the New York World, and the New York Evening Post; wrote the “Always in Good Humor” and “The Conning Tower” columns. Always known as FPA.

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Robert Benchley (1889–1945): Vanity Fair managing editor, Life drama editor, humorist and actor in short films.

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Heywood Broun (1888–1939): Sportswriter at New York Tribune, columnist at New York World, author; helped found Newspaper Guild.

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Marc Connelly (1890–1980): Newspaperman turned playwright; cowrote plays with George S. Kaufman. Won Pulitzer Prize for play The Green Pastures.

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Edna Ferber (1887–1968): Novelist and playwright. Cowrote plays with George S. Kaufman, including Dinner at Eight. Won Pulitzer Prize for her novel So Big. Wrote Show Boat, Saratoga Trunk, Cimarron, and Giant.

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Ruth Gordon (): American film, stage, and television actress, as well as a screenwriter and playwright. Later in life starred in Harold and Maude.

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Margalo Gillmore (1897–1986): Actress and “the baby of the Round Table.” Starred in early Eugene O’Neill plays.

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Jane Grant (1892–1972): First female New York Times general assignment reporter; co-founded The New Yorker with husband Harold Ross.

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Ruth Hale (1887–1934): Broadway press agent, helped pass Nineteenth Amendment for women’s rights, married Heywood Broun.

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Margaret Leech Pulitzer (1894–1974): Magazine short story writer turned serious historian. Married Ralph Pulitzer; after his death, she earned two Pulitzer Prizes in history.

Alice Duer Miller (1874-1942):  A writer from the U.S. whose poetry actively influenced political opinion. Her feminist verses made an impact on the suffrage issue.

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Neysa McMein (1888–1949): Popular magazine cover illustrator, painter. Wrote about party games.

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Herman J. Mankiewicz (1897–1953): Press agent, early New Yorker drama critic; cowrote plays with Kaufman, produced Marx Brothers movies. Won an Oscar for co-writing Citizen Kane.

 

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Brock Pemberton (1885–1950): Broadway producer and director. Wrote short stories.

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Harold Ross (1892–1951): Founded The New Yorker with his wife, Jane Grant.

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Arthur H. Samuels (1888–1938): Editor of Harper’s Bazaar.

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Robert E. Sherwood (1896–1955): Vanity Fair drama editor, Life editor, author, playwright who won four Pulitzer Prizes. Won Oscar for writing The Best Years of Our Lives.

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Laurence Stallings (1895–1968): Ex-reporter, editorial writer for New York World. Collaborated with Maxwell Anderson on What Price Glory?

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Donald Ogden Stewart (1894–1980): Author, playwright, screenwriter. Won Oscar for The Philadelphia Story.

Frank Sullivan, who became best known for his articles and Christmas poems in The New Yorker, lived most of his life in Saratoga Springs.  Forty years after his death, Frank Sullivan’s career as a writer is being rediscovered and celebrated in his hometown. Photo courtesy Saratoga Room at Saratoga Springs Public Library

Frank Sullivan (1892–1976): Journalist turned humorist. longtime contributor to The New Yorker.

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Deems Taylor (1886–1966): Music critic turned populist composer. Wrote libretto for The King’s Henchmen with Edna St. Vincent Millay. Started national concert series. Narrator of Disney classic Fantasia.

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John V. A. Weaver (1893–1938): Poet who wrote in street vernacular, literary editor of the Brooklyn Eagle

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Peggy Wood (1892–1978): Actress in musical comedies, plays, early TV star.

 

 

https://www.biography.com/news/algonquin-round-table-members