UB-Day July 1

(UB-Day marks the birthdays of people born between 1955 and 1964. If you want to know more, please read this post.)

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Carl Lewis (7/1/1961)

Celebrity can be cruel, as just doing these UB-Day posts has shown me from time to time. But I’m not sure there’s any part of it quite so poignant (and, in a way, natural) as the ephemeral nature of the star athlete.

Walk into a middle-school basketball practice, for example, and ask about favorite players. I’m thinking the name Michael Jordan doesn’t come up very often. I could be wrong.

So, for the youngins — Carl Lewis was, simply, the predominant track athlete in the world for the better part of 15 years as a sprinter and long jumper.

There are too many accomplishments to list here. I’ll note that he won 10 Olympic medals, 9 of them gold, and 10 World Championship medals, 8 gold. He was Track and Field News‘s Athlete of the Year three years running, Over the years, he set multiple world records in the 100 m and 4 x 100 m and 4 x 200 m relays, and he won 65 consecutive long jump competitions, finally losing in what would be one of the most amazing contests in the sport’s (and maybe any sport’s) history, the 1991 World Championships in which Mike Powell ultimately broke Bob Beamon’s 23-year-old world record, and Carl Lewis’s heart.

Lewis was born in Birmingham, Alabama, but grew up in the quiet town of Willingboro, New Jersey, away from the chaos of the racially charged 1960s in the deep South. His sister, Carol, was also a world-ranked track and field athlete, and his mother competed in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki in the 80 m hurdles.

Trivia: Lewis was voted “Sportsman of the Century” by the International Olympic Committee and named “Olympian of the Century” by Sports Illustrated (it should be noted that the century included Jim Thorpe and Jesse Owens, among others).

Age Today: 46.

Shares Birthday With: Liv Tyler (30), Pamela Anderson (40), Dan Aykroyd (55), Deborah Harry (62), Genevieve Bujold (65), Twyla Tharp (66), Karen Black (68), Sydney Pollack (73), Jamie Farr (73), Leslie Caron (76), and Olivia de Haviland (91).

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UB-Day June 30

(UB-Day marks the birthdays of people born between 1955 and 1964. If you want to know more, please read this post.)

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Vincent D’Onofrio (6/30/1959)

D’Onofrio was born in Brooklyn but grew up in Hawaii, Colorado and Florida. After 18 months of college, he dropped out to pursue acting and was accepted at the American Stanislavsky Theatre in New York City in 1979.

After numerous AST productions, student films and a stint as a bouncer, Vincent made his Broadway debut in 1984 in Open Admissions, and then got his first major film role as Private Leonard “Gomer Pyle” Lawrence in Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 film, Full Metal Jacket (for which he gained 70 pounds). He also had a small but pivotal role in Adventures in Babysitting (for which he had his apostrophe surgically removed).

He’s since continued film and television work in a variety of roles, including Orson Welles in Ed Wood, Abbie Hoffman in Steal This Movie, and “Bug” in Men In Black. He currently stars as Det. Robert Goren on NBC’s Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Trivia: D’Onofrio is often confused with actor Vince Vaughn, and was cast as Vaughn’s brother in The Break Up in 2006; the two also costarred in The Cell and Thumbsucker.

Age Today: 48.

Shares Birthday With: Mike Tyson (41), David Alan Grier (52), and Lena Horne (90).

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Northwest Country

689059.jpgI’ve been listening to Brandi Carlile’s song The Story for days now. Days. Every day. Unwillingly, at first, as Julie had it blasting (it blasts, too). Now I’m more willing.

Carlile is a local singer who’s starting to making national waves. She was at Woodland Park Zoo Wednesday in concert, and I was intrigued by this paragraph in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer review:

In some ways, Carlile is the Kurt Cobain of Northwest country. She uses the same technique of alternating pretty melodic verses with screaming choruses. The crowd loved it when she switched from acoustic to electric guitar after the first verse of “The Story.” It sounded like Nirvana covering George Jones.

Check out The Story on iTunes or wherever; it grows on you. Trust me.

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UB-Day June 29

(UB-Day marks the birthdays of people born between 1955 and 1964. If you want to know more, please read this post.)

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Leslie Browne (6/29/1958)

Thirty years ago, I went to the movies and halfway through the film my date suddenly appeared on the screen. Sounds like a Woody Allen thing, doesn’t it?

It was only a brief moment, a shot of her walking across a college campus, but it was still a magical evening. As I recall.

This same young woman also grew up with Leslie Browne, which is why this is all on my mind.

Leslie Browne was born in New York but raised in Phoenix, where she attended her father’s ballet studio. She earned a scholarship to study at the School of American Ballet, then joined the distinguished New York City Ballet.

Her biggest claim to fame, however, is for her performance in the 1977 film The Turning Point, with Shirley MacLaine, Anne Bancroft, and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Leslie received an Academy Award nomination fo Best Supporting Actress for her role as Emilia Rodgers.

In 1976, she joined the American Ballet Theatre as a soloist, then became principal. She retired from the company in 1993. Since then she has made guest appearances, studied acting for three years, and performed in the Broadway show The Red Shoes. She has also been choreographing and teaching dancing. In 1997 she was awarded the Distinguished Achievement Award by the New York City Dance Alliance.

Trivia: She has appeared in three ballet films, all of them directed by Herbert Ross, her godfather.

Age Today: 49.

Shares Birthday With: Richard Lewis (60), Gary Busey (63), Harmon Killebrew (71), Robert Evans (77), and Ray Harryhausen (87).

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UB-Day June 28

(UB-Day marks the birthdays of people born between 1955 and 1964. If you want to know more, please read this post.)

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Michael Main (6/28/1957)

This may be an apocryphal story, but it’s fascinating anyway. On March 30, 1981, following the assassination attempt on President Reagan’s life, ABC news anchor Frank Reynolds was live on the air when he appeared to lose his composure. The conversation in the control went something like this:

“Damn! Frank’s losing his composure! What can we do?”

“I’ve got it! Quick! Get me that Michael Main fellow from Texas!

“No can do, chief.”

“Why not?”

“He’s in Texas.”

“Damn! Oh, all right. Get me that Koppel guy!”

And history was made. Or so they say.

Michael Main clawed his way up the journalism ladder, leaving claw marks and everything. Raised on the mean streets of New York, orphaned as an adolescent, sent to Texas to live with relatives, Michael attended the University of North Texas and quickly made a name for himself (lacking in imagination, he just used the same name he always had, though).

He’s currently a popular radio news anchor in San Antonio, although his dulcet tones can be heard as far away as north San Antonio. He’s known as The Main Man, The Voice of South Texas, and sometimes Pepe.

Michael is married to the lovely Amy Main, and is stepfather to three apparently outstanding young adults, for whom he takes little credit, but then. I’m giving him some of the credit. I know Michael a little, and he seems pretty credit-worthy.

You should maybe meet some of my other friends, though.

Of note: According to legal experts, Michael will always be one year and 28 days older than I am.

Aside from the dulcet tones thing (not covered by health insurance), Michael is active in his church community, has some very strange pets, and writes a blog at MichaelMain.com.

Trivia: If you ever run across Michael, introduce yourself as “Wayne” and watch for the expression on his face. It helps if you’re armed. Also, I’ve been in his house and it’s not as messy as he says.

Age Today: 50.

Shares Birthday With: Mary Stuart Masterson (41), John Cusack (41), John Elway (47), Kathy Bates (59), Sen. Carl Levin (73), Dr. Hans Blix (79), Mel Brooks (81), and A. E. Hotchner (87).

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Big Blogging

The scorn and derision (sometimes at the same time) directed at bloggers by members of the mainstream media has been evolving lately. There’s still a hint of snobbery, but it’s flavored now with a nice dollop of what seems like fear. Be very, very afraid. The road suddenly seems awfully open, and Joe Klein, Michael Kinsley and George Will (just to name three anti-blog screeds I’ve read recently) can sniff all the way to irrelevancy as far as the blogosphere is concerned. There’s a new player in town. Millions of them, actually.

That being said, I think it was Mr. Kinsley who a while back poked fun at bloggers who write, “Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile” when, you know, maybe three people are reading and they’re all in the same dorm. And it really should be “a while,” anyway.

Still, I’ve been a little light in posting lately, for various reasons, so sorry.

On the subject of relative insignificance, one of my daily blog reads, Mark Evanier’s News From Me, has been picked by PC World as one of their 100 Blogs We Love. Since I have personally called his site the best blog in the world on more than one occasion, I’ve got some affirmation heading my way. Blogs — they’re not just for comic book nerds anymore.

Although Mark is sort of a comic book nerd. But damn popular.

News From Me is one of the big boys in blogging, one of those sites that gets monthly visits in the millions. Others on my list include Josh Marshall’s original (he’s got sort of a blog empire now) Talking Points Memo, Andrew Sullivan (now hosted by Atlantic Monthly, formerly TIME magazine), Rosie O’Donnell, and comedy writer extraordinaire Ken Levine’s blog. And that’s just my list.

This blog right here, actually (i.e., the one you’re reading at the moment, assuming you’re still reading, which is apparently quite an assumption judging from what my wife recalls of any given daily post), from my thorough research, hangs around the top ten percent of blogs in the world, which sounds impressive until you acknowledge that this means there are roughly a million and a half blogs more popular. You can pretty much get in the top 10% by having 50 readers and a nice header.

Still. I put it on business cards and stuff.

But look at my blogroll over there on the right. Famous people, not so famous, obscure, unknown. Out of all those people (and I did some checking), you wanna know who ranks? Who’s got the demographics and readers and traffic and all that jazz?

Meg. No kidding. Vancouver’s Finest.

**salutes, bows, we-are-not-worthy scraping**

She’s on the radio and everything now.

I take full responsibility for her success. Or maybe partial responsibility. Or I’m at least in the top ten percent.

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UB-Day June 27

(UB-Day marks the birthdays of people born between 1955 and 1964. If you want to know more, please read this post.)

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Lorrie Morgan (6/27/1959)

The daughter of country music singer George Morgan, Lorrie Morgan made her first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry at age thirteen, performing Marie Osmond’s Paper Roses, a song most of us could never hear again and be OK with that.

Following her father’s death in 1975, Lorrie took over the leadership of his band, followed by a tenure with the Little Roy Wiggins band.  She had a couple of minor hits in the late ’70s, and in 1984 became the youngest singer ever to join the Grand Ole Opry.

Morgan had her first #1 single in 1990, Five Minutes.  Her second album, Something In Red, went platinum in 1991, and that same year went to number one again with the single What Part of No.  Morgan began the first female country artist to have three platinum albums in a row.

Her private life has been, well, public and interesting.  By my count, she’s been married five times, and she’s been linked romantically with various tabloid-provoking men, including Troy Aikman.

Trivia: In 1994 and 1995, Lorrie was romantically involved with former senator, Law and Order star, and possible 2008 presidential candidate Fred Thompson.

Age Today: 48.

Shares Birthday With: Tobey Maguire (32), Julia Duffy (56), and Ross Perot (77).

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UB-Day June 26

(UB-Day marks the birthdays of people born between 1955 and 1964. If you want to know more, please read this post.)

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Patty Smyth (6/26/1957)

Patty Smyth first enjoyed mainstream success in 1982 as lead singer of the band Scandal. That band’s self-titled debut release became Columbia Records’ biggest selling EP, and was followed by The Warrior in 1984.

Smyth dated punk musician Richard Hell for two years; their daughter, Ruby, was born in 1985. In April 1997, Smyth married former tennis star John McEnroe; the couple have two daughters, Anna and Ava.

Following two solo albums in 1987 and 1992, she secured a further hit record via a duet with Don Henley of The Eagles; Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough peaked at number 2 in the Billboard Hot 100 and went gold. Its parent album, Patty Smyth, also went gold and featured an additional Top 40 hit with No Mistakes.

She subsequently co-wrote the 1994 song Look What Love Has Done, nominated for a Grammy and an Academy Award after its inclusion in the soundtrack to the film, Junior. Further soundtrack commissions resulted in her penning the theme tune Wish I Were You to the 1998 movie Armageddon.

Trivia: When David Lee Roth left Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen invited Smyth to replace him as lead singer; she declined.

Age Today: 50.

Shares Birthday With: Princess Alexia of the Netherlands (2), Michael Vick (27), Jason Schwartzman (27), Derek Jeter (33), Chris O’Donnell (37), Shannon Sharpe (39), Greg LeMond (46), Mack McKinney (48), Dave Grusin (73), and Eleanor Parker (85).

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