A personal memory of Harry Kalas

Harry Kalas (1936-2009)
Harry Kalas (1936-2009)

Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas collapsed at Nationals Park and later died in Washington, D.C., this afternoon, just hours before the Phillies’ game today against the Washington Nationals. He was 73.

I became a Phillies fan in April 1979 and Harry’s voice is practically embedded in my brain — something I am sure I have in common with many other die-hard Phillies fans.

I convinced my family to make the trek up to Cooperstown, N.Y., in 2002 to see Harry enter the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s broadcasting wing as that year’s Frick Award winner. I even shook Harry’s hand a couple of times in my life, both coming while getting his autograph. However, the second time features a pretty cool Harry the K story.

My friend, Cliff, and I were at Jack Russell Memorial Stadium to see the Phillies play in a spring exhibition game. After the game, we went up to the window of the broadcast booth to get Harry’s autograph. However, Cliff saw the people in front of us give Harry a cell phone and he was either recording a message or talking to somebody. So Cliff decides to call our friend Jimmy — a huge Phillies fan — with the hope that Harry would talk to him for a few seconds.

So we finally approach Harry. After Harry talked to us for a few seconds and signed our programs, my friend handed Harry the phone and asked him if he could just talk to our friend for a bit. Harry says, “Sure, what’s your friend’s name?” We tell him that it’s Jim…Harry takes the phone and all we hear is something like this:

“Hey, Jim, this is Harry Kalas. How are you?…Watching the NCAA Tournament, eh?…Well, take care, Jim. It’s getting late so I am outta heerrrrre!”

We again shook Harry’s hand and thanked him. Cliff puts his phone back up to his ear and hears Jimmy say this: “That was awesome. I gotta call my dad.”

Earlier today, I sent Jimmy a text message saying that I was thinking about that time. In his reply, he said “…that’s how cool Harry was. It’s like a small piece of my life is gone.”

A lot of Phillies fans feel the same way.

RIP, Harry the K…Phillies baseball will never be the same.

(Photo courtesy of Phillies.com)

Reminder: Christian Beach CD release party this Friday

Christian Beach CD Release Party - Click for PDF Flyer
Christian Beach CD Release Party - Click for PDF Flyer

As mentioned earlier on this blog, I will be part of the backing band for my good friend, singer-songwriter Christian Beach, when he takes to the stage at The Saint (601 Main St.) in Asbury Park, NJ, this Friday night as he celebrates the recent release of his self-titled, solo CD.

Joining in the festivities will be Arlan Feiles and The Lone Howdys, as well as The Sunday Blues. Doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets are just $10.

Christian’s band this time out includes John Pfeiffer (Well of Souls, In Between Dreams) on electric guitars, Michael Scotto (Agency) on drums and percussion, Gorgo (Private Sector) on mandolin and bass, Keith McCarthy (The Works, The Sunday Blues) on bass, and yours truly on organ, accordion and tambourine.

If you are in the area and are available that night, please feel free to come to the show. If you want to get a taste of Christian’s music, visit his new web site at ChristianBeach.net, or visit him on MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/christianbeach. Plus, he is now on Facebook and Twitter.

The CD can be purchased via CDBaby.com, iTunes or Amazon.com.

Christian Beach
The Saint
601 Main St.
Asbury Park, NJ
(Directions via Google Maps)

What is up with Facebook?

As most people on the Interwebs know by now, social networking giant Facebook made a slight change to its terms of service (TOS) recently that had a big impact on what the site could do with your content.

As the original post on The Consumerist blog reported, the TOS states this:

You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.

The original TOS, however, included this passage at the end of the section quoted above:

You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.

Basically, Facebook’s tweaking of the TOS meant that it had rights to your content forever — even if you cancel your Facebook account!

The uproar caused by The Consumerist post eventually led Facebook to revert back to its old TOS early Wednesday morning — a temporary move by Facebook as it reviews language to create revised TOS that will address the fears and concerns of the site’s users.

However, during all this, I discovered something a bit odd while using FriendFeed, a link-sharing service that has the ability to feed content into my Facebook profile’s “wall.” During the Facebook firestorm over the past few days, I posted two articles about Facebook to my FriendFeed account.

Neither made it onto my Facebook wall.

Every other article and link I shared with FriendFeed made it onto my Facebook wall…but not the two stories I shared that were about Facebook itself. If you happen to be a friend of mine on Facebook, go to my profile and click on the FriendFeed tab. You will see all the links I shared with FriendFeed are there, including the two Facebook-related items.

But go back to my wall…and the two stories are not there. And I did not delete them, that’s for sure.

So this blog post will be another test to see if there is some kind of filtering going on over at Facebook. This blog feeds into my FriendFeed account so it should technically wind up on my Facebook wall.

If it doesn’t, I think Facebook needs to answer why this is happening…because it would look a lot like censorship to me.

And, just to be fair, I will update this post to let any readers down the road know what happened.

Stay tuned!

UPDATE…OK, so this post appeared on my Facebook wall, but there is still something troubling me about why the Facebook news links I shared via FriendFeed did not make it there.

New “Who” announced: Matt Smith is the 11th Doctor!

Matt Smith takes control of the TARDIS in 2010 as the 11th Doctor. (BBC Photo)
Matt Smith takes control of the TARDIS in 2010 as the 11th Doctor. (BBC Photo)

Matt Smith, a 26-year-old actor whose name had not even been mentioned for the role until the last couple of days, has been cast as the 11th incarnation of the Doctor in BBC’s long-running sci-fi series, “Doctor Who.”

Smith will officially take over the role when the fifth series of the show debuts in 2010. Until then, popular David Tennant will continue to star in the title role in a series of specials through 2009 and early 2010. It is expected that the famous “regeneration scene” — in which Tennant’s 10th Doctor will “die” and transform into Smith’s 11th Doctor — will take place in the conclusion of a two-part special that will be broadcast in the UK for the Easter holiday in 2010.

The announcement of Smith’s casting was made during a special episode of “Doctor Who Confidential” on BBC 1 on Saturday.

Smith, who will be the youngest actor to ever play the approximately 1,000-year-old Time Lord, has coincidentally appeared in three series opposite former “Doctor Who” companion Billie Piper (Rose Tyler) — “Ruby in the Smoke”, “The Shadow in the North”, and “Secret Diary of a Call Girl”.

Following Tennant into the Doctor’s TARDIS will be no easy task for Smith. Tennant, who has starred in the titular role since a 2005 Christmas special (“The Christmas Invasion”) has become arguably the most popular actor to ever play the character, even surpassing perennial favorite Tom Baker, who starred as the floppy hat/long scarf-wearing Fourth Doctor from 1974-1981.

Watch an extended interview with Matt Smith below:


Ben Folds Five reunites for Chapel Hill, N.C., show on 9/18

Ben Folds Five will be reuniting for one night only in Chapel Hill, NC, on Sept. 18, 2008.
Ben Folds Five will be reuniting for one night only in Chapel Hill, NC, on Sept. 18, 2008.

I was stunned to see this news this morning, but Ben Folds will be performing with former bandmates Darren Jesse and Robert Sledge for a Ben Folds Five reunion show at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Sept. 18, 2008. The show, which kicks off MySpace.com’s new Front To Back concert series, will feature the band playing their 1999 CD “The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner” in its entirety.

Tickets go on sale 10 a.m. ET through eTix on Monday, Sept. 8.

Olga’s Diner is in trouble!

Olgas Diner - Marlton, NJ (from populationfive.com)
Olga's Diner - Marlton, NJ (from populationfive.com)

Although it really hasn’t been a great place to eat in years…and I have only eaten there a handful of times in my life, Olga’s Diner in Marlton, NJ, is a landmark to many in these parts. While growing up in Brick, NJ, my family would make many trips to Phillies games by taking Route 70. Olga’s was right there on the Marlton Circle and it kind of represented an official crossing into Philly territory en route to Veterans Stadium.

Well, for the second time this month, Olga’s has had to close its doors because it couldn’t pay the bills. Earlier in July, Olga’s was closed for one day because the gas bill had not been paid. But now, it is much, much worse…today, the state of New Jersey seized Olga’s because the family that owns it is $37,000 behind in back taxes.

Although a family member says the plan is to pay the $37,000 to the state and get Olga’s reopened, it doesn’t seem likely that the diner’s long-term outlook is good.

Way to go, Ron Mexico (Michael Vick)!

UPDATE: 1/24/2007 @ 2:40 p.m. ET
A couple of days ago, the following story became a non-story when the substance found hidden in Michael Vick’s water bottle was determined to be nothing that was illegal. However, it is apparent that he tried to hide something in this water bottle and take it onto a commercial airliner. How is that not at least a minor criminal act? Shouldn’t he at least be fined or something? And then I saw this story, which just makes all of this really, really weird.

But here is my original post…

Well, it seems the most overrated quarterback in NFL history, Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons, reportedly tried to sneak a substance “closely associated with marijuana” onto an Atlanta-bound plane at Miami International Airport by storing it in a secret compartment in a water bottle that he reluctantly surrendered to security personnel.

USA Today: Michael Vick’s water bottle raises suspicion at Miami airport

…The Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback entered a concourse Wednesday morning at the airport with the 20-ounce bottle. He eventually handed it over and boarded his flight to Atlanta. But his initial reluctance to turn over the bottle aroused suspicion among airport security screeners, a police report said.

The bottle was found to have a hidden compartment that contained “a small amount of dark particulate and a pungent aroma closely associated with marijuana,” the report said. The compartment was hidden by the bottle’s label so that it appeared to be a full bottle of water when held upright, police said.

No charges have been filed but police said the bottle would be sent to a lab for analysis…

You can read the incident report here (PDF).

The most shocking thing I found in the incident report? Vick was a passenger on an AirTran Airways flight. What the heck was Michael Vick doing flying on AirTran?! AirTran only has business class and coach. The guy signed a 10-year, $130 million contract in December 2004…can’t he afford to fly on an airline with first class? I’m sure there were other carriers offering flights from Miami to Atlanta.

Then again, maybe he is trying to save his money. After all, when you a) allegedly spread herpes while using the alias of Ron Mexico, b) tell your team’s own fans “they are No. 1” with both hands, and c) are barely a mediocre quarterback, maybe Vick thinks the Falcons–and new head coach Bobby Petrino–will realize he is getting overpaid by, well, $130 million, and the team will try to void that big contract for conduct reasons?

Honestly, Vick is a tremendous athlete…I do not dispute that. He might be, as many claim, the most “electric” (whatever that means) player in NFL history…although those people should really watch some NFL Films footage of Fran Tarkenton (Vikings, Giants), who was ridiculously elusive and could actually make big-time passes (by the way, you should really get to know about the remarkable life Tarkenton has lived). I also think Randall Cunningham was a far better quarterback than Vick, but that might be the Eagles fan in me (even though Cunningham had his best days as a passer with the Vikings).

When it comes to being a quarterback, though, Vick just isn’t any good. His passing game is weak and he is not a good decision-maker…especially when it comes to deciding on an alias, apparently.

And he is definitely not worth $130 million.

(Photo credit: Jason Getz/Atlanta Journal-Constitution)