Monday, November 05, 2018

Misc. Takes

I haven’t done this in awhile, so what the hell?

Again, thanks to everyone who answered the call last week and gave me your feedback. I got a very interesting suggestion from reader Janet Ybarra about my now taking weekends off. First off, why the weekends? Traditionally there are fewer readers. Lots of people read blogs either at work or school. Fridays tend to be lighter on traffic so that’s why I set the weekly question feature on Friday (there’s actual method to this madness).

Janet suggested I reserve every Thursday for the posting of my podcast, move the Friday Questions to the weekend, and write a new post every Friday. The problem is I don’t want to mess with Friday Questions (that’s my Golden Arches… or at least Arch), but I will experiment with the weekly podcast announcement being Thursday and write something original for Saturday-Sunday. How’s that? Besides, I’m really proud of the podcast and wish more of you would listen. So thanks, Janet. We’ll see how new plan goes.

Reader Louis suggested a separate podcast where I put my DJ hat back on and play my favorite music.  That would be a blast except for two problems.  One is I don't have the right equipment to do what essentially would be a live show.  And the second, even bigger issue, is that if I play music I then have to pay rather hefty royalty fees.   But if you're ever in my car with me I still talk up to the vocals.  It's a marvelous useless skill. 

And speaking of the podcast, I’m just a few weeks away from my 100th episode.

If you visit the blog on a weekend and there’s no new post you could always check out the archives. I probably have come to 150 months worth of material available. From time to time I’ll still post Friday Questions from ten years ago, but there’s all kinds of good stuff in the archives and they’re only a click away.

People wonder why I haven’t monetized my blog yet. I could get some money but it would really junk up the page with ads. I’d rather occasionally use the blog to promote something I’m doing — like the podcast (hint hint) or my website to license my plays. The way to support this blog is to support my other endeavors. And I like to think it’s a win/win because you’ll be getting some form of entertainment back.

Even as a Dodger fan I was really bummed about hearing of Willie McCovey’s passing. He was a class act, even if he owned Don Drysdale. In a typical game against "Big D." McCovey would go 2-2.  He'd smack a double his first time up, get hit in the ribs by Drysdale his second, homer in his third, and get drilled on the arm in his fourth. 

More people seemed to hate my political rants even more than my baseball posts. To those people I say you might want to skip tomorrow. Look, I don’t love writing political posts. I’m hardly what you’d call a wonk. But there are times events are so appalling that I’m almost forced to comment. So on those occasions I hope you will excuse me or even perhaps consider my position. Ultimately I want peace and prosperity and dignity and equality for all — regardless of your political party.

Was up in San Francisco last week. Did not go to big “Battle of the Bay” Thursday Night NFL game that pitted the 1-6 Oakland Raiders against the 1-7 San Francisco 49’ers.

Went by my old studio apartment at 1915 Greenwich in the Marina district. I think I paid $200 a month for it in 1974. It’s probably costing $6000 a month now. But they have a new awning.

My baseball rant last week elicited a lot of response, some of it even positive. For the record, I know analytics are here to stay (at least for now) and yes the games are taking longer, which I’d be fine with if it meant there was more action as a result. But it’s the opposite. Longer games with larger gaps between balls-in-play is hurting the sport. It just is. And it’s one thing when it’s the World Series and each game, each pitch is important. There’s real suspense. But what about a game in early May? Do you really want to sit through a 3:45 San Diego Padres vs.Baltimore Orioles game that ends with a final score of 2-1? I love baseball but it needs to address some issues.

God, I hope the new BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY movie is good.

I have a play that will be produced in Brooklyn in January. Stand by for details. I can now say I made it to Broadway (adjacent).

Barbra Streisand was great on CARPOOL KARAOKE with James Corden last week. The only thing that was truly unbelievable was Barbara Streisand stopping to pick up a motorist in need. Yeah, like that could happen unless it was staged or Obama had a flat.


Ktb said...

I quite like you political comments; always clever and observant.

Roger Owen Green said...

There's a guy who I follow who wrote Why I’m Voting Straight Democratic; links abound you might want for tomorrow.

I love your baseball stuff. I LOVED McCovey, 2nd favorite Giant only to Mays. (And I HATED the Dodgers, who beat the Yankees in the 1963 WS; I have a LONG memory.)

I haven't seen the Queen movie, but I LOVE this review.

You don't want a separate podcast. Per your last one, I think it would dilute your "brand."

Mike Barer said...

First of all, you deserve weekends off. Stick with your plan. I do have ads on my blog, just to remind me to run the blog like a business. I would like to see you run your very first post again as a repost. It would be fun. Speaking of archives, readers should put their name in the blog's search engine, they may see their name in a post. I did and I have made the blog.
My favorite podcast so far is your interview with Peri Gilpin. For folks who have read the book, True Fiction, the main character is a writer for the show, "Hollywood And The Vine" sound familiar?

Karan G said...

re: Podcasts - Everyone that I have listened to has been entertaining and informative. I admit that I often don't take the time to listen. In a world where entertainment now competes with some awful "Breaking News" the news channels are sucking up a lot of our time. More often than not, I have no previous knowledge of your guests and their work and therefore assume I won't be all that interested. On the occasions where you sell the podcast with a sound bite, such as the "Jim Morrison" story....I listen. I should assume that you will make it interesting as you always do. That's my two cents.....

Peter said...

Yesterday, Trump said at his latest ego stroking rally: "I’m not on the ticket, but I am on the ticket because this is also a referendum about me".

It was filmed. It's recorded. It's now forever.

But come Wednesday morning, if the Republicans have taken heavy losses, he will deny ever having said those words and will say the results are because of loser Republicans who didn't get behind him enough. Even with recorded evidence, he will deny it and call it fake news.

Mark said...

I love this page. With that said, please add more baseball, or even better, start a baseball page as well....With your knowledge and love of the game, it would be a great diversion....(Going, Going, Gone was/is a great read)

Janet Ybarra said...

Thanks for such thoughtful consideration of my suggestions!

As for the politics, look, it's fine. I suppose in a way it's a bit like the late night hosts dipping their toes but finding it, ultimately, fine.

Also, as I've mentioned, people here cite Mark Evanier's blog as great reading and that has a much higher political content.

Look, the way things are in our country and society today and the way immigrants, children in cages, Jews dying as they pray, and other vulnerable groups are counting on us, if you were to say, 'Well, eyeballs on my blog is more important," I'd lose a lot of respect for you.

I respect you because you are willing to take a stand. I bet most others believe the same. No shame in being a proud member of the #Resistance.

No one is expecting you to turn this into a political blog, but please don't be afraid or second-guess yourself when it comes to saying something important.

To that end, I would like to share two bits of information.

One is a link to a recent essay by Max Boot. Mr. Boot is a former Republican who advised John McCain and Mitt Romney on their Presidential campaigns.

Vote against all Republicans. Every single one.

I also wanted to let people know who are voting Tuesday, who may be voting in red states run by Republicans who are doing some form of voter suppression (ie purging voter rolls, voter ID, exact match, etc) that there is help.

Call (866) OUR-VOTE or visit

to make sure that your vote counts.

therealshell said...

Dang. I must have missed the post about you taking the weekends off. I was thinking that tRump had possibly made you one of the disappeared. I am glad that you're well. And I hope that your brand remains as undiluted as mine, which is only occasionally cloudy.

Mike Bloodworth said...

This weekend, I automatically went to your blog and noticed that there was nothing there. Then I remembered, he ain't doin' him no weekends no more. Its going to take a while to break the weekend Ken habit. I hope you're doing something worthwhile with your time off.

P.S. Everyone go VOTE tomorrow.

P.P.S. #SaveGooglePlus

Buttermilk Sky said...

That's a lot of ground to cover.

Looking forward to your election day diatribe. Appreciate the absence of ads here (didn't your podcast have a sponsor? I remember a Blue Apron commercial). Enjoy the free weekends, you deserve them. Anthony Lane (The New Yorker) found BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY underwhelming, but I haven't seen any other reviews.

Sorry to hear about McCovey's passing. The most frustrating moment in AWAKENINGS is when Mrs. Lowe gets into a cab and the driver is listening to a Mets/Giants game (announced by Bob Murphy). The scene ends just as McCovey comes up with men on base. Shame on Penny Marshall, who also directed A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN -- didn't she think we'd want to know what happened next?

Everybody vote. PLEASE.

Chris G said...

Could you schedule repeats of "classic" blog posts on the weekend? Then there's daily content but you don't have to write something seven times a week.

thomas tucker said...

I've been looking for a reason to go to New York in January, strange as that sounds. Now, you've given me one! Since tomorrow's an election day post, see you Wednesday.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

In my program of reading your blog from the beginning on Saturdays and Sundays (or whatever days you're dark), I read the first two posts this weekend. It was interesting to see how you have evolved the blog from then: you began with two posts that were collections of jokes. Post #2 was Thanksgiving Day 2005. In it, you asked this:

>>Since they always SAY the day after Thanksgiving is the worst shopping day of the year, with the biggest lines, why do people go???? >>

Thirteen years later, there's still no answer to that.


Peter Aparicio said...

Heaven forbid you need an ID! Those wascally Wepublicans trying to stop voter fraud.

Douglas Trapasso said...

Possible Friday Q:

The job isn't open right now, but who are some people you would be happy to see appointed as the next Commissioner of Baseball? Should it by definition be a former player or executive, or is baseball the kind of sport that would be better served by a complete outsider?

Douglas Trapasso said...

Possible Friday Q:

The job isn't open right now, but who are some people you would be happy to see appointed as the next Commissioner of Baseball? Should it by definition be a former player or executive, or is baseball the kind of sport that would be better served by a complete outsider?

Cowboy Surfer said...

I refuse to vote until every celebrity in Hollywood has reminded me.

Looking at you Barry Williams...

Anonymous said...

Speaking of baseball "plays" I remember seeing "Bleacher Bums", milleau was right field bleachers of Wrigley pre lights. Pre pop culture poularity back when seats were almost always open. Have to admit using a word like milleau while speaking of old bleacher bums is a bit discordant.
In small LA theatre last time I visited.
Remember enjoying it.
Did you ever see it and if so what was your opinion?
Remember first beers I drank were in the right field bleachers double header when Ken Holtzman made his debut ( after reports of dallying with Mamie Van Doren) and Fergusan Jenkins v. Koufax and Drysdale.
Having an El stop right out the gates was convienent.

Eric J said...

In 26 or more degrees of Ken Levine, we have a connection. I had a Christmas season temp job delivering mail in that part of the Marina district 13 years before. I was an Army Brat living on the Presidio nearby.

Voted a couple weeks ago, straight Demo ticket. If you vote for Republicans for local offices, they grow up to be Republicans for national office. Who knew?

JAS said...

I thought Bohemian Rhapsody was good. Not great, but enjoyable enough for the ticket fee. I just wish it had something to say.

Looks like your old studio is roughly $4100 per month. Quite a deal if you were expecting $6000:

Lemuel said...

Anonymous: I remember "Bleacher Bums" as a televised play on WTTW Chicago, before they sold off their Good Stuff and got yoked by the FCC.

Janet Ybarra said...

Voter fraud hasn't been a problem:

Voter ID has been found to be discriminatory;

Louis Burklow said...

Thanks for responding to my suggestion about a DJ blog, Ken. As a fan of WKRP who knows how music rights have ruined its syndication value (I think something similar happened to The Wonder Years), I thought you couldn't do it. Still, it would be fun if it was affordable.

I don't mind your political posts. Like you, I had some anger to work through after the 2016 election. As long as we keep on fighting things have to get better. That said, I would advise that in writing about politics, less is more.

Janet Ybarra said...

Hey Ken, so I've been thinking...yeah, I know, you could smell the smoke over there ;)

You mentioned folks typically read the blog at work or school.

Thing is, people can't always necessarily listen to a podcast from work or school. There is the simple time crunch, of course.

But more ominous is a podcast could be considered blocked content from various "net nanny" software. Such software could block the podcast just on bandwidth issues alone.

(Luckily, being of the retired set I don't have to worry about such problems. But I remember them well from my time in the federal government. Not to mention the wifi at my kid's school blocks blog content.)

Perhaps to encourage people to download the podcast for later consumption driving home, at the gym, etc.

Also, let's brainstorm some simple contests using the blog and/or social media to encourage listenership of the podcast.

Mike O'Meara (who you might remember from the old DON AND MIKE SHOW) a few years ago had a morning show on local radio here in DC and he and his partner at the time had a simple daily contest to encourage listenership.

They called it "Know Your Show" and toward the tail end of the show, Mike would pick some random trivia or factoid that came up during the course of that day's broadcast. They would take callers until someone had the right answer. The winner might get a station t shirt, concert tickets or whatever they had up for grabs at the moment.

Maybe you could do something similar, and offer Levine swag as prizes.

BTW, here is contest legalese if you are interested:

Another BTW, O'Meara has turned his show into a podcast. They did a live show here at the State Theatre several years back, it was fun.

Peter said...

It's come to something when even Fox News withdraws a Trump ad because they felt it was offensive! Fox News!

Janet Ybarra said...

Sadly, they are like weeds that way...

YEKIMI said...

Google mapped your former address in San Francisco [not a stalker, just wondered what it looked like]. In that earthquake prone part of the country, I'd probably want my apt. to be on the top floor so I could hopefully ride it down and survive during the inevitable quake. Same reason I'd park my car on the curb, not going to be much use if it's squashed flat under the building. And would you be able to get a rebate on the rent if it collapsed a week or so after you paid it?

Janet Ybarra said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
sanford said...

If you haven't gone to Bohemian Rhapsody you might want to skip it. Nick Digilio who hosts the over night show reviews the movies with two other people. Nick started out reviewing the horror movies on the Roy Leonard show in the 80's when he was pretty young. Roy reviewed the other movies but did not like the horror genre. Nick is a big fan of Queen. He really hated the movie as did the other two people. The actor who played Mercury was very good. But if you wanted to see the Live Aid part you might as well go to You Tube and watch Queen at Live Aid. Here is the segment where they reviewed the movie. It starts at the 25:27 mark.

mdv59 said...


I'm sure I'm not the first to mention this, but have you considered setting up a Patreon account? I'd happily chip in a couple of bucks a month for your beer budget.

Friday Question: To what do you credit your work ethic? I'm about 10 years behind you and I'm already exhausted-- how the hell do you have the energy to continuously write plays, create blog posts, record podcasts and still pursue writing?

Y. Knott said...

Post about baseball and politics all you want. I come for the writing and the insight, and you provide it. Even when I don't agree with your conclusions, they're presented entertainingly, and they give me something to think about.

I do listen to the podcasts, but not as frequently. They're enjoyable ... it's just a longer time commitment that I don't always find I can manage!

DyHrdMET said...

As far as your blogging schedule goes, I usually catch up on the week's posts sometime over the weekend, so it doesn't matter much how often you post. and sometimes, i might catch up on a few weeks at a time. just keep posting new stuff and occasionally, reruns.

scottmc said...

Very pleased to hear that you will have a play produced in Brooklyn next year. I missed that one at the Gallery Players earlier this year.
I also was bummed to hear about the passing of Willie McCovey. He was a favorite Giant of my dad and I. My dad grew up a N.Y.Giants fan and rooted for them somewhat after they departed to San Francisco. He loved the way McCovey's home runs differed from others. Most home runs are like an arc and sometimes just scrap over the wall on their way down. McCovey's home runs just seemed to always start level and kept climbing and reach the stands at their peak.

Mike Doran said...

If you wish, you can find the WTTW-Chicago PBS production of Bleacher Bums on YouTube, in nine parts.
The whole original cast is on hand - including Joe Mantegna, Dennis Franz, Keith Szarabajka, et al. - who also are the playwrights of record.
It was Mantegna's idea; he and the other recruited actors, together with director Stuart Gordon, went to a string of games at Wrigley in that wild year of '77, then went back to their theater and workshopped it all into a play - and became a local legend in Chicago theater circles.
Seen today, Bleacher Bums is a real period piece; 40 or so years after the history, I guess most millennials might need a scorecard (or maybe a glossary) to keep everything straight …

Dixon Steele said...

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY is a mixed-bag of a movie. But Rami Malek is great and the last 20 minutes, a recreation of their Live-Aid appearance, sends you out of the theater on a high.

I have to say though, that through no fault of the actors, some of the scenes between Freddie & his "girlfriend" Mary were cringe-worthy.

On the other hand, the producers really can't be accused of straight-washing either...

It's definitely worth seeing if you're a Queen/Freedie Mercury fan.

Tom said...

Tomorrow we'll know either that 2016 was a freak thing, or that half the nation really has joined what amounts to the Branch Davidians. I don't see a problem with political commentary at such nexus points. If more people (and fewer Twitter trolls) were engaged then politics would be a lot more civil.

Janet Ybarra said...

I voted. Straight Democratic. Except for one write-in socialist.

Jahn Ghalt said...

Barbra Streisand on CARPOOL KARAOKE - gotta be the toughest ever act to follow.

I thought, "so Ken is opening an "off-broadway" play - which I thought meant "out of town" (New York). Turns out the current wikipedia entry narrows that down:

"An Off-Broadway theatre is any professional venue in Manhattan in New York City with a seating capacity between 100 and 499, inclusive."

I'd heard that a Broadway show would open "off Broadway" - in other cities to tune up the show - before opening on Broadway (and what is THAT called?)

(and the Marx Bros tuned up at least a few of their Broadway shows on the road)

I'll go check out the baseball rant. So far as "anylytics" it seems a big effect is "the shift", which really suppresses a hitter's effectiveness (and MLB averages are said to be the lowest since the DH rule started in 1973).

If I were a regular hitting lefty against the shirt - I'd check in with my manager and see if he'd support at least a limited, right-circumstances, bunting campaign. Would have to be "sneaky" about that - or eat dirt.

(which brings us to that famous brushback artist)

I too was saddened about McCovey's passing - and the AP announcement we got up here mentioned how he owned Drysdale.

We are fortunate that a Good Story need not be true. I did some checking and found that McCovey was one of only three famous Giants to be plunked by Drysdale (the others were Mays and Cepeda - both plunked twice).

McCovey was hit once by Big D - in 1967 - and ducked everything else. Good Thing - I'd have been disappointed with an oh-fer.

The "home run legend" seems to have some support - in those games where Drysdale hit Giant batters, McCovey launched at least two home runs.

Over his career, he hit batters roughly twice as often as the MLB average (one batter per 26 innings). In '61 he hit onr per twelve.

Unlike McCovey, it took the BBWAA quite some time to warm up to Drysdale - probably because as MLB pitching elites go, his record was mediocre. Actually the BBWAA is tough - only 21 starters, 4 relievers, and Eckersley have been inducted among those whose careers begane in 1955 or later. Among starters Drysdale is in the bottom three for Starts, Wins, and Innings Pitched.