Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘karen given’

In honor of the Kentucky Derby last month, Karen Given reported a story on Only a Game about the naming of thoroughbred horses. At the end, the radio show’s host, Bill Littlefield, did a  funny imitation of calling a race. I won’t be able to do it justice. You’ll have to listen to the clip.

“Since 2004,” Given reports, “Rick Bailey has been the registrar for the Jockey Club, and he really enjoys the creativity he gets to witness in his job. Bailey and his staff review about 40,000 names every year and approve two-thirds to three-quarters of them. The numbers add up pretty quickly.

” ‘We do have 350,000 to 400,000 names that are considered active,’ Bailey says.

“With that many names off the table, maybe owners are just running out of normal horse names to choose from? …

“The list of available names is getting bigger, Bailey says, because the horse racing industry is getting smaller.

“There will never be another Secretariat or Seabiscuit. Those names have been permanently retired. But the names of less successful horses are eventually released. Bailey publishes those names on the Jockey Club’s website every year. This year, that list included more than 45,000 names. …

“The list includes Bambi le Bleu, Fabulous Rex, and Zippity Doodah Day. …

“Most ancient horses, says [Philip Sidnell, who has written the book on ancient warhorses], are named for pretty mundane reasons. Take the horses who ran in the ancient Roman chariot races.

” ‘They had names like “Swift” or another called “Snotty” and one called “Chatterbox.” ‘ “

Listen to Littlefield showcase some unusual horse names in the clip, here. “It’s Cookie Monster, Maple Syrup and Spineless Jellyfish  … Cookie Monster is hungry on the outside …”

 Photo: Only a Game

Read Full Post »

Get ready. National Bobblehead Day is just around the corner.

Bobbleheads? Karen Given at WBUR’s Only a Game can tell you more about the history of sports bobbleheads than you ever imagined.

She says that is 2015, the San Diego Padres were the only Major League Baseball team that didn’t offer fans a game where they handed out bobblehead figures of players. “For years, the Red Sox didn’t give away bobbleheads either.

“ ‘There was a long time actually when we felt like “maybe they’re not into bobbleheads,” ‘ says Red Sox Senior Vice President of Marketing Adam Grossman. ‘But even in Boston we know that the people love them and if they love them then we’ll provide them.’ …

“The Red Sox spend months getting the facial features and tattoos and the stance on their bobbleheads just right. …

“Bobbleheads even have, get this, their own Hall of Fame.

“ ‘We sort of thought of it this way–,’ says Phil Sklar, co-founder and CEO of the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, ‘if mustard deserves its own museum, bobbleheads definitely deserve their own shrine.’

“The museum doesn’t actually exist yet. Sklar and his partners are busy accumulating thousands of bobbleheads — many from private collections.”

For “the story of a business deal that would change the course of bobblehead history, [Given turns] to Todd Goldenberg of Alexander Global Promotions.  …

” ‘Malcolm Alexander, he’s our founder and former president. He’s retired now, kite skating around the world—’

“So, Alexander was trying to start a business selling promotions, and he got a meeting with the San Francisco Giants, who, you’ll remember, were trying to find a company to manufacture a promotional item that hadn’t really been made for 40 years.

“ ‘He just basically said, “What can I help you with?” and they said, “We need a bobblehead doll,” ‘ says Goldenberg. …

” ‘And Malcolm, being very cocky and very Australian said, “Yeah, sure, I’ll do it. How many do you need?” ‘ says Goldenberg. ‘And then he proceeded to leave the office and find out what a bobblehead doll was. Because even though he had just sold about a quarter of a million dollars worth of bobblehead dolls, he didn’t know what he had sold.’ ”

The rest of the story can be found at WBUR radio, here.

Photo: Karen Given/Only a Game
A Luis Tiant bobblehead doll.

Read Full Post »

Looking for an indoor sport this winter? Have you considered belt-sander racing? Bill Littlefield has been covering the unusual sport at WBUR’s  Only a Game since 2002, and as Karen Given reported recently, the sport could probably use some new blood — er, participants.

She begins by revisiting the 2002 broadcast.

” ‘Two by two, they come screaming down the 85-foot-long, waist-high wooden track, trailing rooster tails of sawdust and long, yellow extension cords that power them to the finish line.’

“That is how reporter Sean Cole began his treatise on the New England Belt Sander Racing Association,” continues Givens, “which first aired on Only A Game on April 13, 2002. But here’s the bit everyone remembers:

“NEBSRA co-founder Dave Kenyon: ‘It’s a real family event. It’s a family event with beer.’ …

“There is still beer, so there is still belt sander racing. Or is there? I went to Jamaica Plain in Boston to investigate. …

” ‘You are at the 2014 Fall Nationals Belt Sander Drag Race and Costume Ball,’ Glen Gurner tells me.

“Gurner is a woodworker and former champion of this sport. But for some reason he’s really enthusiastic about the idea that this might be the last time NEBSRA, an organization he helped found, holds a belt sander race. …

” ‘It takes a village.”

“ ‘And the village is tired?’ I ask.

“ ‘Yeah, the village is getting old.’ …

“For about 10 minutes, Kenyon fusses over the position of the crowd and a 60-pound, lithium-ion-powered sander outfitted with a motorcycle engine. It has a theoretical maximum speed of 85 miles per hour, and its name is Bruce….

“I stay long enough to watch Bruce surge to life and almost immediately slam into the spring-loaded preventer at the end of the track. It’s spectacular, but no one dies. So the crowd goes back to reminiscing about old times.

“There are other belt sander races around the country. Some even have corporate sponsors and professional crews. But NEBSRA likes to believe theirs is the first — and the best. Kenyon is proud of how far this event has come in the past quarter-century.

“ ‘It’s so much more now. It’s homecoming. This is real homecoming. People have come up to me and said, “Thank you, thank you for doing this.” That’s nice,’ Kenyon said. … ‘There’s not enough rituals in our life anymore — not enough tradition. This is what passes for tradition.’ ”

Tradition! I can almost hear Tevye singing, “Tradition!”

Photo: Jessica Coughlin/Only A Game
Two competitors get ready to race at the 2014 Fall Nationals Belt Sander Race and Costume Ball.

Read Full Post »

If you want people to innovate, get out of the way. That’s what I think must have happened when Bill Littlefield launched his sports program at WBUR. Clearly, someone gave him freedom to do it his own kooky way, and when radio stations around the country wanted to carry the program, that laissez-faire manager must have smiled.

Both sports fans and non-sports fans like Littlefield’s show. He covers all the usual sports topics but also showcases offbeat competitions like this one at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier. Karen Given was the reporter.

“Just 15 minutes before game time, the vast and serene campus green at Vermont College of Fine Arts showed no signs of the annual Writers vs. Poets softball game. There were no bats, no balls, no bases, and no players. Suddenly, Victorio Reyes stormed onto the scene.

“ ‘First of all I’m a poet,’ he said. … ‘There’s two things,” Reyes continued. “One: the United States invests way too much money in sports and too much emotion, okay? That’s the first thing. The second thing? This game is life or death. That’s all you need to know.’ …

“No one seems to know the overall record. Louise Crowley, director of the MFA in Writing program, said the game itself is similarly imprecise.

“ ‘We might have 50 people in the outfield. It’s just kinda an informal, crazy game.’

“ ‘Eventually, will there be bases?’ I asked.

“ ‘There will be bases, yes,’ Crowley said. ‘There will be bases, there will be a batter, there will be a catcher, you know. But other than that, it’s just sort of a free flowing, everything goes.’ …

“After dinner, there’s a reading, and then hours of painstaking writing and re-writing before workshops begin again early tomorrow morning. …

“Poetry instructor Matthew Dickman had a preexisting injury this time around, so his job was to provide inspiration — of the negative variety.

“ ‘Whenever a fiction writer gets to bat, a student, I’m going to sit behind them and talk about how difficult it is to get published,’ Dickman said. ‘How they’ll probably just go back to working wherever they work and their dreams will come to an end.’  …

“Every once in a while, the pitcher lobbed in a good one and the batter managed a hit — usually a pop fly that floated over the outfield. And, although the number of outfielders had ballooned to at least a dozen, every single one of those pop flies dropped to the grass.” More at Only a Game.

I laughed all the way through this report.

Photo: Going the Distance Blog
At the annual Vermont College of Fine Arts softball game, it’s war. Cats vs. dogs have nothing on poets vs. prose writers.

Read Full Post »

Over at Bill Littlefield’s Only a Game on WBUR radio, Karen Given recently provided the background on athletic banners made in New England. The radio show is entertaining for all sorts of listeners as it covers anything remotely related to sports.

“The sewing room at New England Flag and Banner is humming with activity,” says Given. “It’s been that way for a while now — the company’s been around since 1892. The current owner, Ned Flynn, has only been in charge since 2006. …

“Among the photos on Flynn’s wall is one of Fenway Park, adorned with red, white, and blue bunting to celebrate the return of baseball after World War II.”

After a mini tour, Given describes the banner-making process: “Staples temporarily hold together full sheets of brightly colored fabric — usually nylon. The paper is used as a stencil to mark the pattern, but the design isn’t cut out. At least not yet.

“Skilled sewers, some of whom have been working here for 30 years, deftly zigzag around the stenciled marks. And finally, the extra fabric is cut off by hand, layer by layer, revealing the design.

“ ‘It’s counterintuitive,’ Flynn said. ‘People think we sew letters on and sew logos on. It’s actually the opposite. What we do is sew the image on and then we cut everything around it off.’ ” More here.

I like to read about longtime businesses like this chugging along in New England. I also like reading about start-up businesses. With three entrepreneurs in the family — including Suzanne (Luna&Stella), Erik (Nordic Technology Group), and John (Optics for Hire) — I am pretty sure the local economy is going to be OK.

Photo: Karen Given/Only a Game

Read Full Post »

The day after Thanksgiving is a day that many people’s thoughts turn from an unusually wonderful and gigantic meal to fitness.

In an increasing number of locales, people who have never worked out before are now working out with their dogs. Because dogs need fitness, too.

Bill Littlefield’s sports show on WBUR radio, which covers both traditional and offbeat sports, sends Only A Game‘s Karen Given to Hinsddale, Illinois, to interview K9 Fit Club president and founder Tricia Montgomery.

Says Montgomery, “K9 Fit Club is a place where pooches and peeps get together and have a healthy and happy lifestyle. We do exercises, we do workouts, we bond, we socialize and most of all we have fun.

“K9 Fit Club was originally developed in 2008 but we didn’t open the doors here until Aug 5, 2012. We started in Hinsdale, Illinois in our first location and now we have corporate facilities, we also have locations starting all the way from Monterrey City, Mexico, all the way to New York, into Raleigh- Durham, North Carolina, up into Florida, St. Louis, all across the country. …

“Our programs were developed by veterinarians, by personal trainers, by dog trainers, and by doctors and psychologists, actually. So we’re not just a bunch of people running around with a bunch of dogs jumping up beside us. Our programs have really been developed for people who have never worked out a day in their lives to people who are very, very fit. …

“I love what I do, how cool is this? I get to come to work every day with my dog and I get to have the coolest job working with dogs and people and helping change their lives and feel better about themselves.” More.

Photo: K9 Fit Club

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: