Monday, July 30, 2007

Scott Wichmann: Old School Sox Fan

Over on Andrew Hamm's blog, there's a discussion of the phenomenon of the 'New School Red Sox Fans'-- Currently (and derisively) called the 'Pink Hat Crowd' by astute members of the Boston Sports Media. This nomenclature refers to the brand-spankin' new pink hats worn by young and often hardball-disinterested ladies who simply wanted to buy a Sox hat because it's "soooo right now." They're the gals you see on TV at Fenway text messaging their gal pals and not watching the game. Obviously not all ladies are like this, and whatever anyone does at a ballgame is their business-- I just hate to see a good seat at Fenway gobbled up by someone who has no clue how lucky they are to be there in the first place.

The merch is flying off the shelves and the folks like the way it looks. But some of them can't name anyone on the team. It drives. Me. CRAZY.

The Pats fan base suffered the same phenomenon back in 1993, when the Patriots hired Bill Parcells to coach, Drafted Drew Bledsoe, and switched their helmet logo from the hilariously un-threatening 'Pat the Patriot' (The disgruntled minuteman in the three-point stance) in favor of the more aerodynamic and marketable 'Flying Elvis' logo, which I always thought looked a little bit like New Hampshire's fabled 'Old Man of the Mountain'-- which has since crumbled like the Yankee dynasty-- but I digress. The point is that everyone and their mother was now a 'lifelong, diehard Pats fan,' but most of them were made out of Phoney Baloney. (Which, Ironically, is what I eat now that I'm a Vegetarian-- so what does that make me?? Aww crap, 'philosophical conundrum alert'-- umm, I'll table that tangental thought as well...)

I remember getting into a heated argument with a guy at the Friendship Bar & Grille in Pittsfield Mass back in '93 after I walked into the bar wearing a brand-new 'Flying Elvis' Pats hat. This guy called me a 'Johhny-come-lately' and I took umbrage. This was back when I used to hit the sauce pretty hard, so it's all a little blurry... Anyway, the point is that the New England fan base is a grizzled lot, and you've got to know your stuff if you wannna hang around. I understand it, and I always say that "you've got to support your team through thick & thin." That's why I still wear my Celtics gear now & again, and I have a feeling that my boys in Green & White may actually become RELEVANT again, but I'll shut up so as not to jinx anything in that department...

Anyway, back to my main point-- this phenomenon of 'New school' Sox fans is just, well, WEIRD to me. I'm just not used to it.

On the 4th of July 2005, Jenny, Zac & I sat next to four 17-18 year olds (two Girls and Two Guys) at the Diamond for a game against the Columbus Clippers, the Yankee AAA Team. These kids were ALL decked out in their brand spanking new Red Sox t-shirts & hats. Of course, the girls had Pink Sox Hats. Then, one of the guys started talking to me about the Sox in this thick southern good-ole boy accent, and I was like "Am I in Bizarro World??" They were nice enough kids, and I was glad to have them aboard the SS RED SOX, but I couldn't help but flashback to my own ordeal, spending part of my childhood (6th-9th grade) in Pennsylvania, where all we ever got were Phillies games and the American League was, like, a RUMOR. I used to read the Box Scores of the late games two days later to quench my insatiable appetite for All Things Sox-Related. Thank goodness they made the postseason in 1986 or I would probably have never have seen them on TV all year long.

So, most people know that I've been a Sox fan as far back as I can remember, and they know that as far as I'm concerned, the Red Sox are like BREATHING. I can't remember when I wasn't a lunatic Rooter for the 'local nine' and I'm tied to them through my family my New England roots-- Heck, I even have the same BIRTHDAY as Ted Williams (August 30th). Anyway, I just thought I would post a picture to show Andrew (and everybody who knows me and my insane obsession) just exactly HOW far back me & the Sox go.

Check it out...

Scott Wichmann is an OLD SCHOOL RED SOX FAN.

Monday, July 23, 2007

New Tony Stewart 'Old Spice' Spot

So, the new Tony Stewart Collectible 'Old Spice' spot is out in full force. I actually watched a half hour of NASCAR Busch series coverage on July 14th to see it, and it's pretty funny. I'm on the 5-man pit crew, and, along with the other guys (Local acting treasure Mark Joy included) we only appear for like a millisecond. You can see me for like a split-second at :25 into the spot holding the trophy and Pointing to Tony as he raises his arms at Victory Road. It's pretty sweet.

We had a great time shooting it out at RIR on May 16th, and the actors on the 'Pit Crew' bonded pretty quickly. We kept saying that we should all be the featured actors in a new HBO series called 'The Crew.' Mark would be the crew chief, and we would have Rich ('the hotshot'), Casey ('the black guy'-- his own words), Andy ('the wily veteran'), and myself ('the quirky guy who should probably be played by Steve Buscemi but he was already booked.')

Maybe I'll pitch it.

A lot of 'locals' were employed by the Wieden & Kennedy Folks who shot the spot. Liz Marks held the auditions for it; David Sennett was Tony's stand-in; Justin Dray worked in the art dept; Antoinette Essa was the on-camera interviewer you see in the commercial, and Frank Creasy and Derek Phipps along with many others did extra work, playing photographers, press, and fans for the spot.

Here's hoping they come back through sometime to film some more. The spot is below-- there's a 10-second delay, then the spot starts. Enjoy!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

"Dice-K, meet my hometown. Hometown, Dice-K."

Yet another reason that Daisuke Matsuzaka is fast becoming my favorite player. I was at the Berkshire Athenaum last year to see the 1791 Baseball exhibit, and it was really a very, very special feeling to know that I grew up in the 'birthplace' of baseball. It's also great to know that Dice-K felt strongly enough about the game to want to check out it's oldest historical reference!!

Here's the article from the Berkshire Eagle about an otherwise uneventful day in the 'Pitts' turning into a special visit from a very special player...

PITTSFIELD,MA — It was supposed to be a secret.

But when the Boston Red Sox's multimillion-dollar pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka is in town, word tends to get around.

Having expressed an interest in seeing America's earliest known official reference to his profession, Matsuzaka's handlers made arrangements to have Mayor James M. Ruberto show the 1791 document located in the Herman Melville Room at the Berkshire Athenaeum yesterday afternoon.

By the time he arrived at the Athenaeum's main entrance shortly after 3 p.m., about 30 people had gathered to catch a glimpse of the baseball phenomenon. Matsuzaka — donning a low-drawn ball cap, a T-shirt and shorts — was escorted into the building by two Pittsfield police officers. Three friends, his wife and infant son accompanied the 26-year-old Tokyo native on the visit.

Matsuzaka, whose English is limited, seemed interested in the original hand-written ordinance and the original book page containing the minutes that were hand-written during the annual town meeting in Pittsfield in September 1791.

The Pittsfield ordinance — banning the playing of baseball, cricket or any other games using a ball within 80 yards of the town meeting place — also seemed of interest to his wife.

Ruberto showed Matsuzaka the documents, explained their importance, and then presented him with gifts — two baseball caps with the 1791 date on them, two red T-shirts meant to be worn during the human baseball event Saturday at Wahconah Park, a set of the Art of the Game baseball cards and a replica of the historic document.

Matsuzaka seemed happy with the gifts.

"Thank you," he said in English.

Ruberto noted that Matsuzaka played golf yesterday morning at the Country Club of Pittsfield. The club president made him an honorary member, according to the mayor.

"I was born in Pittsfield, I've been mayor here for almost four years — and I'm not even an honorary member," he said, laughing. "So that's really something."

While Matsuzaka was at the club, there was an air of awe among employees and golfers.

Near the ninth green, assistant golf pro Michael Morschauser was teaching some youngsters how to putt when Matsuzaka sank his ball.

"The kids got real excited," Morschauser said. "He said, 'Hello,' and waved when he went by."

Six-year-old Jacob Goldstein, sporting a Red Sox hat and visiting with his grandparents from the San Francisco area, where Major League Baseball's All-Star game took place last night, watched as Matsuzaka cruised by in his golf cart. It was a lucky sighting for the youngster since Matsuzaka didn't make the All-Star team.

"I thought it was really great," he said. "It made me feel real good to see Daisuke Matsuzaka on the golf course." Jacob pronounced the pitcher's full name flawlessly.

"I feel like I want to be a professional athlete, too," he added.

Matsuzaka became an instant celebrity for Red Sox fans when he signed a $52 million deal in the offseason to join Boston from the Seibu Lions in Japan. The Sox also had to pay the Lions $51 million for him.

A superstar in his native country, he first received notice in America when he was named the most valuable player of the 2006 World Baseball Classic after leading Japan to the championship of the inaugural tournament.

Currently, he is 10-6 with a 3.84 earned-run average. He has pitched 119 2/3 innings, the most of any Boston pitcher this season, and has a team-high 123 strikeouts.

Matsuzaka has won three of his last five starts heading into the All-Star break, but lost his last start Sunday at Detroit. His best start this season was July 3 against Tampa Bay, in which he allowed no runs and just four hits in eight innings while striking out nine Devil Rays.

Eagle sports editor Matthew Sprague contributed to this report. Scott Stafford can be reached at or at (413) 496-6240.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Richmond.Com review of 'The Odd Couple'

Local version of Classic "Odd Couple" is delightful.
by Joan Tupponce

Since Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" appeared on Broadway in 1965, audiences have delighted in the unlikely pairing of Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar. Their antics carried over to film and television and are now entertaining audiences at Barksdale Theatre at Hanover Tavern.

At first glance, Oscar and Felix are as outwardly opposite as Martha Stewart and Pigpen of Charlie Brown fame. Oscar is an unconcerned slob and Felix is a neurotic clean freak. But when you dig deep down, you find that Oscar and Felix are more alike than the surface impressions. They share similar feelings as they tread the waters of divorce and, even though they bicker, stay loyal to their friendship.

Some of Hollywood's best comedians -- Walter Matthau, Jack Klugman, Jack Lemmon, Art Carney and Tony Randall -- have portrayed these two unlikely roommates with much success.

In London, they even staged a female version (Florence Unger and Olive Madison). Instead of that poker game that opens the original male version, Madison has invited her female friends over for an evening of Trivial Pursuit. And, in this version, the Pigeon sisters have become the Costazuela brothers. The situation is the same. Only the gender changed.)

So what do David Bridgewater and Scott Wichmann bring to the traditional roles?


Director Joe Pabst gets a pat on the back for bringing these veteran actors together on the stage and surrounding them with a strong cast of supporting actors that can hold their own in the realm of comedy. With "The Odd Couple," Pabst has created a show that delivers on many emotional levels.

Bridgewater brings a genuineness to Oscar's disordered life that is quick to elicit laughter. He is at his best when he is trying to deal with Felix's quirks and neuroses, bursting into fits of comic frustration. He is also adept at showing the audience the character’s softer side when Oscar relates to his children and to the sadness that Felix is experiencing.

In his role as Felix, Wichmann is the obsessive-compulsive neurotic mess that Simon must have visualized when he wrote the part. Wichmann is a master when it comes to facial gestures, body language and physical comedy. His needy, nerdy, portrayal takes "odd" to new comic heights. When you pair Wichmann and Bridgewater, you have comic bliss.

Other standouts in the production include Derek Phipps who delivers a dead-on portrayal of henpecked Vinnie and the ditzy Pigeon sisters, played by Jen Meharg and Jennifer Frank. Even though their deliberate over-the-top portrayals are a little much, the sister act is a crowd-pleaser.

Scenic designers Terrie Powers and David Powers are to be commended for creating an apartment-like set that feels as real as any rentable space in the city. Their attention to detail -- autographed sports photos, vintage vacuum cleaner and dirty dishes in the kitchen -- adds to the authenticity of the show as does the lighting design of Bennett J. Fidlow.

"The Odd Couple" is a great laugh-out-loud show. Matthau, Klugman, Lemmon, Carney and Randall would be proud.

"The Odd Couple" runs through Aug. 12 at Barksdale Theatre at Hanover Tavern. Tickets are $38, with a $4 discount for seniors, students and Ukrop's cardholders. You can purchase tickets by calling Barksdale Theatre's Box Office at 282-2620 or online at

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day!!

This is a clip from my favorite musical, 1776, featuring William Daniels as Massachusetts firebrand John Adams. This selection is my favorite from the show, and the haunting lyrics are applicable to this day and age, never more apropos than in this time in our country's history.

When there are so many apathetic people around, weary of politicians who constantly fail to do more than 'just enough to keep their jobs', is it still possible to, in the words of Dr King "transform the jangling discords of our nation into a symphony of brotherhood?" Furthermore, with our troops embroiled in a Civil War in Iraq, how do we best achieve peace and security for ourselves and our neighbors on the planet?
What's next? Where do we turn? How do we navigate towards real progress in these tenuous times, where one half of the country is pitted politically against the other half? I don't have a clue.

Yet I do know that all of us have asked the same question of our fellow human beings:


I love this country with all my heart. I still think that this country is the best, most effective place to enact social and political change. This country was founded on the possibilities we all posess as individuals, and it entrusts us with the power to speak truth. The United States of America was founded on our very capacity to change, to evolve, to grow into what we would be and to master our very destiny.

That is true independence. Let us strive for that as a nation.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Richmond Times-Dispatch review of 'Odd Couple'

'Odd Couple' is a timeless comedy
Neil Simon's beloved 1965 play still has the ring of truth


Barksdale Theatre's second Hanover Tavern season validates their premise: classic comedies and mysteries are reliable crowd-pleasers.

And no playwright is more trustworthy than Neil Simon. And no Neil Simon play is more foolproof than "The Odd Couple."

This beloved 1965 comedy still works -- hilarious situations, brilliant punch lines and the ring of truth. When the pathologically fussy Felix Unger is kicked out by his fed-up wife, his divorced friend Oscar Madison takes him in, and thus is born a mismatch for the ages. "It's not your fault, Felix," Oscar the slob admits. "We're just a rotten combination."

Joe Pabst directs in the usual Pabstian style: over the top, swinging for the fences with every line. It works here most of the time; the only false note, really, is the notion that Scott Wichmann's Felix could really be a close friend and poker buddy of David Bridgewater's Oscar.

A skinny tie, slicked-back hair and heavy black glasses don't make Wichmann look like a father of two who's been married for 12 years.

But otherwise, no complaints. The four poker buddies are totally convincing, especially Jeff Clevenger, who speaks with the music of Brooklyn. The Pigeon sisters are wacky and hysterical. Gwendolyn (Jennifer Frank) is especially alarming in her scary bouffant wig, and it's fun to see Jen Meharg, Wichmann's wife, play Cecily opposite him.

Terrie Powers and David Powers provide the shabby Manhattan apartment set, with the requisite swinging door to the kitchen. Heather Hogg outfits everyone in the right 1960s wardrobe. There's even an A&P grocery bag for authenticity.

Wichmann is great as always with the combination of physical comedy and neurotic dialogue, and his ear-clearing snorts are unlike other sounds made by man.

Bridgewater plays Oscar as a sort of combination Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton from "The Honeymooners." This is an interesting choice, since Art Carney, who played Ed Norton in "The Honeymooners," was the original Felix (not Oscar!) on Broadway. His quiet moments on the phone with his ex-wife are as believable as his air-freshener attack on Felix.

It's no accident that this play has spawned a hit movie, a TV series and numerous adaptations over the years -- it's a modern classic. Pabst's program note suggests that Simon will eventually join George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart in the American comedy pantheon, and surely he's right about that.