Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wrap Up Wrapped Up

This gets as close to complete as I can manage—for this year at least.

A review like this serves to remind one of is how versatile the obituary writer is. They seemingly become instant experts in the field the deceased made their mark in. Surely, some of the writers might have a grooved specialty, but the assignment may not always coincide. They become like a debating team, getting the assignment cold, and having to make good on what follows.

These were the doubles and triples that caught my interest. There were many single ones that have been clipped and stuffed. It’s impossible to predict if you’re newsworthy enough to even rate such a send-off who you might get ganged up with. Through suicide, or very careful planning (I always thought Charles Schulz just too coincidentally passed away on the last day of his Peanuts strip), one might be able to pick their time, but they can’t pick the company they’ll keep.

It’s like riding the subway. You never really know who will be next to you.

  • Peter E. Fleming Jr., 79; Defense Lawyer Who Relished the Limelight
  • Tears for Creator of Hot Dog Onion Sauce
(Okay, these weren't on the same page. They weren't even in the same newspaper. They weren't even on the same day. They were both, however in January, six days apart and together on my stack. With your own blog, you get to play editor.)

  • Ricardo Montalban, Actor, Dies at 88
  • Patrick McGoohan, 80, Star of Spy Series
  • W.D. Snodgrass, 83 a Poet of Intensely Autobiographical Themes
  • Andrew Wyeth, Realist and Lightning Rod, Dies
  • John Mortimer, Barrister and Writer Who Created Rumpole, Dies at 85
  • Leonard Andrews, 83; Bought Wyeth's Artworks
    (Same paper, same day. Honest.)
  • Pat Hingle, an Actor Adept at Good and Evil, Dies at 84
  • Victor H. Krulak, 95, Marine Behind U.S. Landing Craft
  • Philip Egan, a Designer of a Fabled Sedan, Dies at 88
  • Inger Christensen, 73, Scandinavian Poet
  • Harlington Wood Jr., 88, Siege Negotiator, Is Dead
  • Don Galloway, 71, TV Actor Known for 'Ironside' Role
  • Schuyler G. Chapin, Stalwart Champion of the Arts in New York, Dies at 86
  • John Cephas, 78, Piedmont Style Guitarist
  • Clement Freud, Wit, Politician and Granson of Famous Psychoanalyst, Dies at 84
  • Deborah Digges, 59, Poet Who Channeled Struggles
  • Whitelaw Reid, 95, Heir to New York Herald Tribune
  • John Oros, 87, Top Jockey as a 17-Year-Old
  • Yitzak Ahronovitch, 86, Exodus Skipper In Defiant '47 Voyage of Jewish Refugees
  • Lester Rodney, Early Voice in Fight Against Racism in Sports, Dies at 98
  • George Michael, Sportscaster, Dies at 70
  • Robert Howard, 70, Decorated Serviceman
  • Charles Lieber, 78, Dies; Studied Alcohol as Toxin
  • Alf Pike, 91, Cup Winner Before Rangers' Dry Spell
  • Rev. Joseph C. Martin, 84, Leader in Alcoholism Fight
  • Ron Silver, 62, Persuasive Actor and Activist, Dies
  • Jack Kemp, Football Star Who Became Champion of Tax Cuts, Dies at 73
  • John Michell, 76 Author and Eccentric
  • Paul Harvey, Homespun Radio Voice of Middle America, Is Dead at 90
  • Mary Printz, 82, An Ear for the Famous


Friday, December 25, 2009

Year-End Wrap Up, Part II

Back at the pile. This is a bit like shoveling snow. You make a dent, but you tire out.

Certainly not many occupational clusters here, but the first one does somewhat provide some irony. The last survivor of the Titanic and a famous boat designer are written about on the same day. If that bigger boat had a better design and came equipped with a lot more little boats, then the "survivor" might have only had a story to tell of landing in New York from the maiden voyage. Who knows if they even would have lived so long? New York can wear you out.

I was reminded of the serendipity nature of all his when my friend was over for Christmas and was telling me about the New York Giants book he was looking at that I gave him recently. It contains facsimile pages of the sports stories that appeared in the NYT of the Giant seasons throughout the years of the franchise. And like anything in a newspaper, the story of interest might be surrounded by something else. Just like these obituaries.

Passing through the Giants' history and the early 60s my friend came across a story about Cuba and Dr. Fidel Castro. This was the years when he was still being wooed by the United States. I somewhat remember this honorific, a nod it seems to a law degree, I believe. I also remember Castro throwing chicken bones out of the Hotel Theresa in Harlem at reporters one Sunday morning.

There are many ways to make an impression in New York.
  • Millvina Dean, Last Survivor of the Titanic, Dies at 97

  • Philip C. Bolger, 81, Prolific Boat Designer

  • Harry J. Gray, Who Lead the Rise of United Technologies, Dies at 89

  • Drake Leven, 62, of Paul Revere & the Raiders

  • William F. Reedy, 72, Billy Martin's Friend

  • Jerri FitztGerald, 57, Dies; Treated Herself at South Pole

  • Shelly Gross, 88 Producer For Broadway and Suburbs

  • Harve Presnell, Singing Actor, Dies at 75

  • Alexis Arguello, 57, Boxer and Politician

  • Howard Unruh, 88 Dies; Killed 13 of His Neighbors in Camden in 1949

  • James Wiseman, 91, James Bond's Dr. No

  • Soupy Sales, Flinger of Pies and Punch Lines, Dies at 83

  • Dr. Ignacio Ponseti, 95; Created Cure for Clubfoot

  • Jack Nelson, an Investigative Reporter, Dies at 80

  • Collin Wilcox, 74, Actress in 'Mockingbird'

  • Arturo Gatti, Fearless Boxer Known For Relentless Violence, Dies at 37

  • Barbara Margolis, 79, Prisoners' Advocate

  • Alan F. Kiepper, 81, Who Oversaw Transit in Atlanta, Houston and New York, Dies

  • Richard Egan, 73, a Founder of EMC Storage

  • Robert Schindler, 71, Father of Terri Schiavo

  • Keith Waterhouse, Writer, Dies at 80

  • F.M. Rogallo, 97, Father of Hang Gliding

  • Ismael Valenzuels, 74, Hall of Famer Who Rode Kelso

  • Sergei V. Mikhalkov, 96, Russian Anthem's Lyricist

  • Harold A. Ackerman, 81, A Longtime Federal Judge

  • John Storm Roberts, World-Music Scholar, Dies at 73

  • Bess Lomax Hawes, 88, Folk Scholar

  • Tommy Henrich, Yanks Star, Dies at 96

  • Jennifer Jones, Actress Whose Career Came With a Turbulent Life, Dies at 90

  • C. Bryan, 73, 'Friendly Fire' Writer, Dies

  • Thomas Hoving, Who Boldly Remade the Met in the '70s, Is Dead at 78

  • Gene Barry, Actor of TV, Film and Stage, Dies at 90

  • P. Scanlon, 78; Led Coopers When Big 8 Ruled Accounting

  • (With the length of Hoving's obit, I didn't even get to the Sports until we were in the tunnel)

  • Hugh Morgan Hill, Who Wove Tales as Brother Blue, Is Dead at 88

  • (Does anyone remember NY's Moondog, pictured above?)
  • Ira Hanford, 91; Rode Winner of '36 Derby

  • Evelyn Hofer, a Subtle Photographer Of People and Architecture, Dies at 87

  • Carl Ballantine, 92, Slapstick Magician

  • Bobby Frankel, 68, Trainer of Champion Horses, Dies

  • Edward Woodward, 79, Star of Spy Series

  • John J. O'Connor, a Times TV Critic In Years of Industry Upheaval, Dies at 76

  • Patriarch Pavle, 95; Led Serbian Church

  • John Kenley, 103; Took Big Stars to Small-Town Stages

  • Micelle Triola Marvin, 76, Of Landmark Palimony Suit

  • Captain Lou Albano, 76, Wrestler and Showman

  • Nan Robertson, Pulitzer-Winning Times Reporter, 83


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Starting the Year-End Wrap Up

I'm hardly exempt from the year-end look backs and nostalgia induced thoughts that occur at this time of the year. In fact, year-end might really be my July 4th, time to remember all that has occurred and celebrate.

My form of celebrating I suspect surely differs from most. I set out to clip and trim all the articles I've saved over the year. Sort of act like a butcher and get rid of all the extra pages, margins and other stories that are surrounding the one I'm interested in.

I have a great scissor for this. A left-handed scissor, no less, that is very sharp and cuts while just passing the newsprint through the angle of the two blades. This saves time, and creates less fatigue. Despite all these good intentions and tools, I rarely get through the whole year. So, I never really bail out the ocean. But I don't want to give up the clippings all together. Thoughts the second time around are more indelible.

And right now what is occurring to me is that while sometimes people kick off in occupational clusters, I'm finding that the subject of my article saving can also be surrounded by someone else who was of equal interest. Thus, far less to trim. There are even whole NYT obituary pages that are worth saving, because everyone featured has been of some of interest.

Here are some surprising double and triple headers that I wouldn't have put together on a test, but who landed on the same page throughout the year and who provoked interest. Some occupational similarities, but they can be a diverse set.

And since I do this over a period of time, this blog entry might have installments.

  • Mary Travers, Ringing Voice of Folk In 60s, With Peter and Paul, Dies at 72
  • Henry Gibson, 73, Versifier of 'Laugh-In'

  • Jody Powell, 65, Trusted Aide to Jimmy Carter, Dies
  • Crystal Lee Sutton, 68, The Real-Life 'Norma Rae'

  • Samuel M. Ehrenhalt Is Dead at 83; Added Color to Dry Economic Data
  • Danny La Rue, 81, Female Impersonator

  • Gale Storm, 87, Is Dead; Earned Television Fame For Her Wholesome Role
  • Michael Martin, 50, Subway Graffiti Artist Iz the Wiz
  • Billy Mays, 50, Enthusiastic TV Pitchman

  • Sam Cohn, Talent Broker in Film and Stage, Dies at 79
  • Eleanor Perenyi, Writer and Gardener, 91

  • Sam Church Dies at 72; Led United Mine Workers
  • Reggie Fleming, 73, Ruffian On the Ice and a Fan Favorite

  • Daniel Carasso, 103, a Pioneer of Yogurt
  • Edwin Shneidman, Authority on Suicide, Is Dead at 91
  • Wayne Allwine, 62, Mickey's Voice

  • James F. Calvert, 88, Sub Captain Who Surfaced at North Pole, Dies
  • Barry Beckett, 66, Muscle Shoals Musician

  • Daniel Carradine, Actor Defined by His 'Kung Fu' Role, Dies at 72
  • Sam Butera, 81, Saxophonist for Louis Prima
  • Charles Albury, 88, Co-Pilot of Nagasaki Bomber

  • Paul Haney, Voice of Mission Control, Dies at 80
  • Jerry Rosenberg, 72, Jailhouse Lawyer
  • Vincent O'Brien, 92, Top Irish Horse Trainer

  • Paul Fino, 95, Politician Who Battled Lindsay
  • Dusty Rhodes, Star Pinch-Hitter in '54 Series, Dies at 82


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We Will Cobble You

It might be hard to believe that a Soviet Premier in the 1950s could ever emerge with something in common with hockey players from Boston, but this is actually a small world and events can be linked, no matter how much it may seem they have nothing in common.

Nikita S. Khrushchev was famous for many things, but he will ALWAYS be famous for taking his shoe off at a United Nations General Assembly session and banging it on the table, while also drumming his fists on the table, as if he was creating rolling thunder. He did this in 1960, after already being famous for telling the Western World, in 1956, via translation, “We will bury you.”

It turns out he claimed not to have actually said that, but that's how the Russian got translated when it hit certain newspapers. Headline writers get to create history their way. Gerald Ford learned this when the Daily News headlined his answer to a financial aid request for NYC in the 70s to be: Ford to City: Drop Dead.

Nikita was excited, but this was hardly a diplomatic approach. The remark was directed at the United States, and the free world in general, that the Soviet system would win out over the democracies of the rest of the world. The Soviet system did win, but it was rather in hockey, not government. Another story.

Dovetailing with this Cold War history we have today's NYT story recalling the Ranger-Bruin game of 30 years ago today that saw a memorable exodus of Bruin players leaving the ice via the stands, and in particular, wrestling with one fan to the point of taking his shoe off and hitting him with it, then throwing the shoe on the ice.

Ranger-Bruin games could always be memorable, and not always because of the game itself. The "shoe" game was in 1979, a little after I relinquished my season tickets after 11 years. The news story goes on about how the Garden always beefed up its security efforts when Boston came to town. They had to.

The era that I was in attendance bracketed Phil Esposito's career with the Chicago Black Hawks, the Bruins, and finally with the Rangers. Esposito was always a high strung player, quick to take exception to anything. He always had diaper rash. Even when he was a Ranger, I couldn't help calling him Cry Baby Phil.

But it was with the Bruins that he earned the enmity of the Ranger crowd. The Bruins of that era were good, very good, and played and beat the Rangers for the Cup in 1972, winning it on Garden ice.

I distinctly remember a pre-game skate of that era when the organist, Eddie Layton, played "Talk to the Animals," the theme song from the the recently released movie
Dr. Doolittle. Eddie played it well, and way more than a few bars, as the Bruins came out to start the game.

Well, Espo, always the irritated Espo, started jawboning with the organist and banging his stick on the ice. Eddie Layton, at that time, was situated quite close to the ice, so they could easily hear each other discussing the playlist. Espo was mad at the song selection. And of course, anything that irritated Espo was a good thing. I know I loved it, and so did the crowd that was just getting to their seats.

Today's story, complete with a great picture of Mike Milbury trying to find out where his seat is, has the intended effect of jump starting memories. And wouldn't you know it, Phil Esposito, as a Ranger, has a part in it, showing off his frustration at missing a tying goal in the final seconds.

So, how do we get to Russia? Well, the story is so good it finds people who were either there, or who could weigh in with a remembrance based on what they saw on television. And of course there are celebrities.

One person, Carol Alt, a model, e-mails her memories from Russia! Ms. Alt, who at the time of the "shoe" game was married to Ron Greschner, a Ranger defenseman, apparently has not lost her desire to be with hockey players, as she is now corresponding from St. Petersburg, where she has followed Alex Yashin, a former Islander and now a player on a Russian team.

By all accounts, Khrushchev got to put his shoe back on. The poor fellow who was in the middle of all this, and certainly a bit of an instigator, John Kaptain, got to go home without his.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lessons from the Crypt and Other Places

I don't know if Bruce Weber is the Dean of The New York Times obituary writers, but he certainly is a workhorse. Bruce is somewhat new to the pages there, but hardly new to writing. He recently completed a book on major league umpires that is informative and entertaining, As They See 'Em. Until now, umpires have been overlooked as subject material.

The other day Bruce got the call from the bullpen twice. Two bylines about two very different people. One was about an AIDS doctor in Africa, Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. The other about a writer, C.D. B. Bryan, most famously the author of Friendly Fire.

Bruce fools the ump on what might have been an out of the strike zone fastball that gets called a strike anyway when he reports that Mr. Bryan, who was fond of relaxing with gab, smoke and spirits will be cremated in advance of a memorial service, with his remains stored in martini shakers until the event.

As good as the book The Dead Beat is, it is more about obituaries and the art of writing obituaries, than a handbook on the logistics of death and internment itself. We're therefore left to wonder just how many martini shakers might get filled with the remains of a 73 year old male? And, are they shaken, or stirred?

If there are any Alert Readers out there who might be able to authoritatively answer that question, I'd appreciate it. An answer in grams or pounds is acceptable. Conversion tables are standing by.

In other obituaries writings we learn that circus clowns have defined roles.

Stephen Miller, in the WSJ reports of the December 6 death of Michael Polakovs, 86, a legendary circus clown who was quite literally born into the circus.

Along with details of Mr. Polokovs's genetic bonds to clowns we learn that he was of the "auguste" clown faction, as opposed to a white-faced clown. Apparently, this branch of clowndom is the butt of all the silly things other clowns do to them. Like squirt seltzer at them, pull their pants down, throw pies at them, and other circus-like mayhem. Never knew there were assigned roles. I thought opera was the only place where that happened.

I know little, personally, about the opera. I've only seen a few, and liked only half of them. Hardly a regular. But one observation continually sticks in my mind when I recall what someone who is an opera fan said: "Did you ever notice that all the baritones are c--------s?"

(The word is one of George Carlin's seven: lots of c and k sounds.)

So, if there any Alert Readers out there who might he able to tell us if this is true or not, I'll share the answer.

If I can print it.

And finally, from the world of book reviews, we learn from the WSJ book review of Leslie Caron's autobiography, Thank Heaven, that Leslie's mother advised her on coming to America not to marry Mickey Rooney.

It's still not too late to make a mistake.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Missing Sock

It's hard to explain why these things happen, but every now and then I would think of the letter a woman wrote the the New York Times many, many, years ago that went something to the effect that the only Velazquez worth any kind of money was Jorge Velazquez, a capable jockey who booted home winners on the New York circuit in the 70s and 80s.

In the context of the times, it was known what she was talking about. It seems the Metropolitan Museum had just shelled out a grand sum for a painting by the famous painter Diego Velazquez, an apparent masterpiece, "Juan de Pareja."

The woman was making a point that a Velazquez on top of a horse coming home first with her money on it was worth more to her than something on a wall in a museum. As always, everyone has an opinion about something.

Over the years I lost track of how the letter was connected to the bigger story. The Times must have thought so much of the letter to not only publish it, but to also accompany it with a picture of a jockey on a horse winning a race at Aqueduct. Then, and now, I seldom read Letters to the Editor, but the picture must have attracted my attention. In 1971, the Times even ran small offerings of verse on its editorial page, which was also probably a bit of a hook for me.

So today, reading about Thomas Hoving, the other sock was found. It was his controversial acquisition of the Velazquez that created so much attention that even the railbirds were taking notice. It did get A LOT of attention, and based on the obituary was apparently a great part of this style. Showy.

He was also apparently pugnacious. What 78 year old man can still have on his resume being "eased out" of the Buckley School in the fourth grade? He also punched a Latin teacher at Philips Exeter Academy, thereby getting himself banished after six months. Must have been a contretemps over declining verbs, or Ovid translations. The closest I can relate to that is thinking about throwing a piece of wood at the shop teacher. (I didn't.)

I remember as NYC parks commissioner he was responsible for Mayor Lindsay's "Fun City" attitude extending to Central Park. Prior parks commissioners, like Robert Moses, maintained Keep off the Grass signs. Hoving invited everyone in to roll around on it, so much so they had to reseed the Sheep Meadow. The crowds and the concerts wore it out.

When I first absorbed today's obituary my first reaction was that I would have thought he was much older. Seventy-eight is not tottering. Hoving was around so long ago, but he was also so young when he was doing it. At 46, his parks and museum days were behind him.

He got a lot of attention in both positions. I remember reading, perhaps in The New Yorker, how when he was in Princeton he and his frat buddies burned their Hickey-Freeman suits in the fireplace on graduation. It reminded me of my own joy at no longer having to go back to St. Andrew's Academy On-the-Sound (a pretentiously named dumpy Greek school in Whitestone, Queens, hard by the East River) that I jumped up on down on my grey blazer from Miller and Mack while waiting for the city bus.

Hovings have house numbers with single digits, followed by East. People from Queens have hyphenated addresses. But like today, I always did enjoy reading about him.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Years and years ago I worked for a Midtown company that had its record storage center in Long Island City, an industrial, warehouse area of Queens, just across the East River from Manhattan that seems lit at night only by the moon and Amtrak locomotives, usually running behind schedule.

In my early days with this company the storage center was managed by a man named Gus. On occasion, I had some need to visit the place to retrieve some documents. This is well before this kind of thing was outsourced to companies like Iron Mountain, or documents were scanned and digitized for computer retrieval. The only computer in that era was something as big as a building itself.

Gus was always helpful, but not always there. He was at work, but he spent a good part of his day away from work at whatever local gin mill was playing whatever it was he wanted to watch on television. This was well known about Gus, and well before the enlightenment of Employee Assistance Programs. It was tolerated. Gus didn't handle heavy machinery, didn't meet the public, and was basically out of sight and out of mind--except when someone needed something.

There were no such things as cell phones then. That would have been a prisoner with special privileges. The story went that one day Gus's boss, or some boss, was tired of not being able to reach Gus on the phone. He was heard to be yelling on the phone, "Where IS that half-dead sonofabitch?" (People aren't always nice.)

I was reminded of this when I read a recent book review in the WSJ about Robert Sellers's book Hellraisers, a story about four of the most famous British actors who have consumed, or still consume, way more distilled spirits than most people. Even how they functioned and performed successfully while under the influence. Three of the subjects have passed on: Richard Burton, Richard Harris and Oliver Reed.

The reviewer, John Heilpern, fills us in on the status of the fourth when he tells us, that happily, "at 77, Peter O'Toole is still half with us."

At least he didn't curse.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Survived By

Alan King, the durable stand up comedian and sometime actor, who seemed to appear on the Ed Sullivan show nearly as often as Ed himself, had a terrific routine that basically pointed out that husbands died before their wives.

With a basic knowledge of the numbers this should come as no surprise. Men still tend to have a life expectancy less than women, and they tend to marry at least slightly younger women. So, it would come as no surprise to a student of statistics that men would generally pre-decease their wives.

But comic genius makes the obvious funny, and King did just that. In a Vegas-type show he is seen doing I don't know how many minutes of reading newspaper obituaries where, you guessed it, the man is "survived by..."

King's humor was typical of the the 60s and 70s in that its source was a take on the battle-of-sexes. Man vs. woman. Husband vs. wife. Fun in the truth. When King passed away I distinctly remember the obituarist reminded us what King reminded us: if you want to read about love and marriage, you need to buy two books.

Today's style of obituaries can sometimes, on purpose, leave out the hackneyed, or common phrases we've read so often when reading of someone's passing.

Today's obituary on Robert Degen by Bruce Weber, is itself a masterful blend of the past and the current obituary styles. It reads like a treatise on the origin of the song Hokey Pokey, a piece Mr. Degan was credited with co-writing. The next time the strains come up at an affair you might be at you would do well to remember that the origins might go back to the time of the Puritans, that it is so used by soccer hooligans as a taunt that it might result in being banned in Scotland by the Catholic Church as a hate crime. Admittedly, this is a lot to keep in mind as you might be heading to the bathroom to avoid being pulled onto the floor, or as you fixate on someone's behind if you do join in.

Robert Degan was 104 when he passed away. He is survived by his wife of 74 years, Vivian, and others.

I learned a lot today.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's 3 A.M...Do You Know...

Today's obituary for Tommy Henrich is as much a homage to Old Reliable as it is to Casey Stengel. It's impossible to write about the Yankees of Henrich's era and not include something about Stengel. Stengel enters the obituary with the last word, when something he said about Henrich is used as an example of Tommy's character.

Tommy is described as dedicated with a strength of character that leads Stengel to say that if Tommy "comes back to the hotel at 3 in the morning and says he's been with a sick friend, he's been sitting up with a sick friend."

Stengel surely knew human nature, and stood by his players. It is a keen manager who tells you that a professional ballplayer never got in trouble spending all night with a woman. It was spending all night looking for a woman that would get him in trouble.

As for 3 A.M., this must have been when most bars closed in the cities the team visited. Stengel seemed to have that time on his mind quite a bit. When he was once asked by a reporter if he was aware that so-and-so--a known carouser--was seen in the lobby by the elevators at 3 A.M. Stengel replied that he'd have to look into it and determine if the player was leaving very late or arriving very early.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It Was A Very Good Year

Max Eisen, 91, press agent of a bygone Broadway era, has passed away.

"This is the crowning achievement in lunacy,” is how a staff member described Max Eisen's staging of a Broadway Olympics in 1964 through Shubert Alley, involving eight events and 30 performers from seven shows.

Say what you will about that, but 1964 was an Olympic year and Max was either in the USA Olympic spirit because he expected a good showing, or was in one because of a good showing, which the Americans did have.

Apparently some of Max's eight events included a 50 yard, and a 100 yard dash. This is notable because Shubert Alley, cutting north/south between 44th and 45th Street is not 300 feet long. So, whatever dash there might have been, it must have had a bend in it. No matter, Max doesn't read like a man who was burdened with technicalities and infinite details.

There was even a half-mile, back and forth walking event. It turns out one female performer won these three events. There is no mention of drug or gender testing, even given that show people were involved. This is a testament to the 60s that shows that fun was possible, even then.

And, like any genius, Max was ahead of his time. Just look at the stunts on TV that get coverage and prize money these days. Running a self-styled Olympics promoting shows would now have to compete with some pretty weird stuff. It seems quaint.

Which of course is what makes the phrase so timeless. “This is the crowning achievement in lunacy.”

Should be etched in stone. Awarded often.