Ben’s Favorites

I have been asked which of the many trivial subjects that are in general use are my personal favorites. Most of them are favorites, but because of where I grew up, pre WWII, baseball and the movies seem to be what I gravitate to. So, with that in mind let’s deal with some baseball movies.

1.) My favorite baseball movie is “Bull Durham.” Kevin Costner played Crash Davis, who played the naive young pitcher Nuke Lelouch?

2.)  In “Field of Dreams”, who was the real life player of the 20s played by Ray Liotta who asked Costner to build a field so “they will come?”

3.) Who played Babe Ruth in the movie “Pride of the Yankees?”

4.) What was the name of the mysterious great hitter played by Robert Redford In “The Natural?

5.) Who played Branch Rickey, the man who introduced Jackie Robinson to Major League Baseball in the movie “42?”

6.) In the 1970’s film “The Bad News Bears,” who was the sponsor of Walter Matthau’s Little League team?    



Man it’s Hot!

On one of the hottest days of the year, our genial editor, Eric Johnson, has suggested we stay inside where it is cool and supply our monthly epic. So, here goes! Speaking of Heat…

  1. In which great Cole Porter musical did he produce the song “It’s Too Darn Hot?”


  1. A mystery writer in a recently canceled TV show wrote mystery novels about a female detective named Nikki Heat. What was the show?


  1. What position in baseball is known as the “hot corner?”


  1. Who won an acting Oscar for the movie “In the Heat of the Night?”


  1. What legendary singer was known as the “last of the red hot mamas?”


  1. Rated the funniest movie in history by the American Film Institute, “Some Like it Hot” was directed by which of the great Hollywood directors?

The Doctor is In

As most old people do, I spend an inordinate amount of time with doctors. You name it, I got it. While watching these amazing people doing wonderful work keeping us oldies alive, I thought about the wonderful doctors we saw in the movies, heard on radio and viewed on television. Let’s see if we remember these fictitious sawbones.

1. “Dr. Kildare was a popular movie series of the late 40s. Who played Dr. Jimmy Kildare

2. A prestigious Oscar is presented each year with his name attached, but we knew him as kindly Dr. Christian on our weekly radio. Who was the distinguished actor who played Dr. Christian?

3. Richard Chamberlain played Dr. Kildare on TV. What veteran actor played his mentor, Dr. Gillespie?

4. One of the most famous fictional doctors was Frankenstein. Dozens of movies have been made about him, but still the most famous is the original made in 1931. Who played Dr. Victor Frankenstein in that film?

5. What cartoon character always addressed people by asking “What’s Up Doc?”

6. Vince Edwards was a short term hit in the TV medical series”Ben Casey.” Who played his mentor, Dr. Zorba?


Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Because of annual TV showings during the holidays, “Wizard of Oz” is now ranked as the most watched movie of all time. New generations of children get to enjoy it, while old duffs like me, who saw it when it came out in 1939, get to enjoy it again and again and again (you get the idea).

1. Who was the author of the series of books about Oz?

2. What was the name of the group of little people who played the Munchkins?

3. The director of the movie won an Oscar that same year for directing “Gone with the Wind.” Who was he?

4. Frank Morgan was the wonderful Wizard. What was his name back in Kansas?

5. What was Dorothy’s last name?

6. Now a toughy and my favorite. The Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion were based on farmhands on Auntie Em’s farm. What were the farmhands names?

The Golden Age of Radio

You have to be of a certain age to remember a time before there were television sets in every home in America and not the beloved radio. It is hard for my kids and grandkids to imagine a time when we sat around a floor model radio to listen to (not see) our nightly entertainment shows. Before it is much too late, let’s take a look at a few of the radio shows that provided us with nightly and weekly excitement.

1. Each week, our hero went to his closet to find something, always forgetting how over crammed it’s was with endless junk. When he opened the door, everything fell out with an endless roar of junk hitting the floor. What was this comedy classic?

2. Our hero and his trusty friend entered each week to the stirring music of Ferde Grofe’s “William Tell Overture.” What was this show?

3. He was the “All American Boy” and he attended Hudson High. Who was our college hero?

4. Jack Benny was a great radio star and was one of the rare ones who made a seamless transition to TV. Because of his unbelievable thrift, he drove a vehicle that was at least 50 years old that made a real racket on radio. What was the make of his car?

5. “Amos and Andy” was the most popular radio show of the early 1930s. Because of its popularity,, movie theaters would play it in theaters before the movie was played in an attempt to keep patrons from staying home. What mythical lodge were Amos and Andy members of?

6. “Christmas Story” has become one of the most popular movies shown every year at Yuletide. It captures the draw of old radio on families of that time. In the movie, the little boy desperately wants a BB gun for Christmas that is promoted by his radio hero. Who was that hero?

Play Ball… Where?

Baseball season is upon us, basketball is mid season and football has closed up for the time being. Our local teams have played over the years in various sites. Let us see if you can name them.

  1. The San Francisco 49ers started play in 1946. At what stadium did they play their games until 1970?
  1. Before moving to the Oakland Coliseum in 1967, the Raiders played three seasons in a temporary field built for them at the current Laney College site. What was the name of that stadium?
  1. When the Giants moved to San Francisco in 1958, they played two seasons in a stadium previously occupied by a Pacific Coast League team. What was the name of that field?
  1. The Oakland A’s have always played at the Oakland Coliseum since 1968, no matter the various names attached to that stadium. From what city did the team move to Oakland?
  1. Before moving permanently to Oakland, the Warriors played in various venues throughout San Francisco. One location they shared with the Ice Capades. What was it?
  1. Another Warrior location was a site for livestock exhibitions. What was that venue?

Trivially Presidential

Most U. S. Presidents are portrayed eventually in movies or TV. I think our new one will insist on playing himself. Let’s review some of the prez’s, both fictional and real, portrayed on the large or small screen.

  1. He played a skirt chasing prez in Absolute Power and an ex-president in Welcome to Mooseport–both fictional of course, but who was the actor?
  1. A distinguished Oscar winner, he played the title role on TV’s Mr. President in the early 90s. Who was he?
  1. Oliver Stone likes making movies about recent presidents. Who played George W. Bush in his movie W?
  1. Who played Woodrow Wilson in the 1944 movie, Wilson?
  1. It appears that 24 is coming back to TV. Jack Bauer is busy playing the prez on another show. Who played the POTUS on the first two seasons of 24?
  1. West Wing was very successful TV series about life in the White House. Who played the President on that show?


60 Minutes

It only seems like “60 Minutes” has been on TV for 60 years. It is the longest running network television news show in history. Not the ratings juggernaut it used to be, but it still gets excellent ratings and remains timely. I would not miss it. Let’s see what you know about the show.

1. What year did it begin? It appeared originally as a bi-weekly show.

2. One of the original hosts left CBS in the 1980s because he was given the assignment of sharing the anchor desk with Barbara Walters. Who was he?

3. The other original host earlier served as a game show host on “The Big Surprise” and “Who’s the Boss.” Who was he?

4. A popular co-host joined the show in the 70s. He was a sober, thoughtful correspondent and worked until his death early this year. Who was he?

5. The first African American newscaster worked regularly on “60 Minutes” until his death 10 years ago. Who was he?

6. One of the delightful features of “60 Minutes” was the wry commentary the last five minutes of each show. The correspondent was never replaced upon his passing. A veteran of Stars and Stripes from WWII, who was he?

Holiday Trivia 2016

Among all the things we get used to at the holidays is the proliferation of Holiday Television shows. Some of these, if not all of them, were made 50 years or more ago. A new generation comes along to enjoy them, so I guess we should too. So, let’s…

  1. The Charlie Brown Christmas Special plays every year. What celebrated San Francisco Jazz artist is responsible for the music in all the Charlie Brown specials?
  1. He owned a Major League Baseball team and was one of the first singing cowboys, but he is probably most famous for singing Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. Who is he?
  1. He played Patton in the movies, but he also played a memorable Scrooge in a very good TV version of “Christmas Carol.” Who is he?
  1. “Miracle on 34th Street” still delights families at Christmastime, although it was filmed 69 years ago. In the movie, Kris Kringle surprises the shoppers at Macy’s by telling them they can find a better deal at famous competitor’s store down the street. No longer in business, who was that competitor?
  1. It think everyone’s favorite movie at Yuletide is still “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I know my kids watched it repeatedly as kids and I watched it with my grownup daughter last year. What were the names of the cop and the cabdriver in that movie?
  1. In that movie, who played Mr. Potter, the town miser, who always tried to upset George Bailey’s plans to make Bedford Falls a more livable community?


Favorite Broadway Musicals

Sitting around with contemporaries over morning coffee leads to long discussions on matters in the distant past. This morning, for example, we discussed our favorite Broadway musicals. It is no surprise to anyone that we did not speak of “Hamilton” or “Book of Mormon.” No, we spoke of older chestnuts. Thankfully, modern audiences enjoy these shows too, since they are constantly restaged for modern audiences. Bet you, most of you will know these.

  1. My favorite is “My Fair Lady.” What song writing team wrote the music and lyrics for this timeless classic?
  1. My friend’s favorite is “Guys and Dolls.” I love it too. The words and music were crafted by a prolific tunesmith of movies, radio and stage. Who was he?
  1. “Gypsy” is another show that pops up every few years to feature veteran actresses who love playing Mama Rose. Who wrote the music and what young prodigy wrote the lyrics for this timeless score?
  1. Musicals of the 20s and 30s do not come around often, but “Anything Goes” is a delightful exception. Who was the composer of this great score?
  1. Rogers and Hammerstein are responsible for so many of the great musicals. The sources of the stories will vary greatly. “The King and I” is based on a movie of the late 40s. What was that movie?
  1. “The Music Man” was an original story that resulted in a great hit of the late 50s. The words and music were the brain work of a musician who had been better known as the backup band for a couple radio shows. Who was he?