Egg McMuffin Creator Bites The Big One

Why is it that kids always want to eat a McDonald’s? I did my best to take them someplace nicer or healthier but I ended up there just to appease them. The only time that I will eat at McDonald’s is during breakfast. I will buy their breakfast burrito or a bacon and egg biscuit but my favorite is the Egg McMuffin.

The McMuffin consists of a slice of Canadian bacon, a grill-cooked egg, and a slice of cheese on an English muffin. (What do they call Canadian bacon in Canada?) This trademarked McDonald’s egg sandwich was invented in 1972 and was important in the history of the company and opened up a whole new area of potential business for McDonald’s, the breakfast trade.

Herb Peterson shows off his famous creation- The Egg McMuffin

The sandwich was invented by Herb Peterson after he had a crazy idea–a breakfast sandwich. Peterson has taken his Final Taxi at the age of 89.

Peterson was very partial to Eggs Benedict and worked on creating something similarfor a morning meal on the go. He took an egg that had been formed in a Teflon circle with the yolk broken, topped with a slice of cheese and grilled Canadian bacon. It was served open-faced on a toasted and buttered English muffin.

The Egg McMuffin made its debut at a restaurant in Santa Barbara that Peterson co-owned with his son, David Peterson.

For a while the Egg McMuffin was served all day but was but back to just breakfast hours, although several countries serve the sandwich around the clock. I wish McDonald’s would start serving it at all hours- much like Jack-in the Box has breakfast at all the time.

The Egg McMuffin is the lowest-calorie breakfast sandwich McDonald’s offers. A complete Egg McMuffin has 300 calories, versus 450 or more for biscuit sandwiches and McGriddles.

Although semiretired, Herb Peterson still visited all six of his stores in the Santa Barbara area until last year when his health began to deteriorate.

Richard Widmark – A Real Tough Guy

The film world has lost one for its finest actors, Richard Widmark, who has taken his Final Taxi at the age of 93. I remember him for all of his gangster roles as he was typically cast as a villain or tough guy.

Actor Richard Widmark

That type-cast came because of the role he played as Tommy Udo, a giggling, psychopathic killer in the 1947 gangster film “Kiss of Death,” Widmark tied up an old woman in a wheelchair
(played by Mildred Dunnock) with a cord ripped from a lamp and shoved her down a flight of stairs to her death. It was a performance that won Widmark his sole Academy Award nomination, for best supporting actor, which is quite as shame since he played some great roles.

Widmark was born in Sunrise Township, Minnesota, grew up in Princeton, Illinois. He attended Lake Forest College, where he studied acting. He taught acting at the college after graduation, before debuting on radio in 1938 in Aunt Jenny’s Real Life Stories. He appeared on Broadway in 1943 in Kiss and Tell. He was unable to join the military during World War II because of a perforated eardrum.

Although he played mobsters dripping in evil with an arm around some femme fatale, Widmark was a mild-mannered man who had married his college sweetheart, the actress Jean Hazelwood, and who told a reporter 48 years later that he had never been unfaithful and had never even flirted with women because, he said, “I happen to like my wife a lot.”

Among the 65 movies he made over the next five decades Widmark played a doctor who fights bubonic plague in Elia Kazan’s “Panic in the Streets” (1950), the daredevil pilot flying into the eye of a storm in “Slattery’s Hurricane” (1949) and the pickpocket who refuses to be a traitor in Samuel Fuller’s “Pickup on South Street” (1953). Also there was “The Cobweb” (1955), in which he played the head of a psychiatric clinic where the staff seemed more emotionally troubled than the patients; “Saint Joan” (1957) , as the Dauphin to Joan Seberg’s Joan of Arc; John Wayne’s “The Alamo” (1960), as Jim Bowie, the inventor of the Bowie knife; “Judgment at Nuremberg” (1961), as an American army colonel prosecuting German war criminals; and John Ford’s revisionist western “Cheyenne Autumn” (1963), as an army captain who risks his career to help the Indians.

Richard Widmark created the role of Detective Sergeant Daniel Madigan in Don Siegel’s 1968 film “Madigan.” It proved so popular that later he played the loner Madigan on an NBC television series during the 1972-73 season.

As his blonde hair turned grey, Widmark moved up in rank, playing generals in the nuclear thriller “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” (1977) and “The Swarm” (1978), in which he waged war on bees.

I remember Widmark’s role as was the evil head of a hospital in “Coma” (1978). When I saw that film, I snuck a whole pizza in the theater that night and regretted it with some of the scenes where body part are removed.

Among his many other films were Death of a Gunslinger (1969), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), Rollercoaster (1977), Who Dares Wins (1982) Against All Odds (1983) and Blackout (1985). I think he tried to relive the role of Tommy Udo in the Gene Wilder- Gilda Radner film ” Hanky Panky ( 1982).

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Widmark has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2002, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Wear Your Dead Pet

If you look up ‘dog sweater’ in Google you will find all kinds of clothes for your four-legged friend to wear. It was become a very profitable business. Many people will take the time to even knit a coat for their furry companion.

But a British couple have taken on a different meaning to the words ‘dog sweater’ by making a pair of pullovers out of their dead dogs hair.
Beth and Brian Willis lost their white Samoyed, called Kara, 12 years ago and Swedish Lapphund, Penny, in 2002. They were upset by both losses. They wanted some way of remembering their pets.
After seeing a picture of Princess Diana wearing a dog fur stole at Crufts, they collected thousands of dog hairs from brushes and carpets.
It makes me wonder how often this couple vacuumed their home?

Mrs. Willis said: “Kara was a pedigree Samoyed. We found out from the breeders we got the pups from that it was possible to use their coat for clothes. It is the most amazing stuff. It’s like mohair but more lightweight and more soft, and the more you wash it, the more soft and fluffy it gets.”

She first used the fur of Kara, to knit her husband’s sweater in 1990 and then her one later. The pair said the his and hers dog memorials were “warm and waterproof”.

Sorry but I would be afraid of the smell after getting caught in a rainstorm.

PODCAST: Brunkert, Dixon, Gynax- All Final Taxi Riders

Listen to Direct Download of MP3- click here.

Ola Brunkert was a former drummer for 1970s Swedish pop group ABBA. The group has not performed together since 1982, but continues to sell 3 million records a year.

Ivan Dixon was an African American actor and television director, best known for his series role in the 1960s sitcom Hogan’s Heroes.

Gary Gygax was an American writer and game designer, best known for co-creating the pioneering role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons.

All have taken their Final Taxi in the past weeks.

Hogan’s Heroes “Kinch” – Ivan Dixon

I picked up a new DVD set  released this week of an old TV show that I barely remembered but have enjoyed watching in syndication. It was a collection of the 3rd season of Hogan’s Heroes. That show ran from September 17, 1965, to July 4, 1971, on the CBS TV network. The comedy starred Bob Crane as Colonel Robert E. Hogan and was set in a German prisoner of war (POW) camp during the Second World War. The POWs of Stalag 13 were actually active war participants, using the camp as a base of operations for Allied espionage and sabotage against the Nazis.

Ivan Dixon as Kinch in CBS' Hogan's Heroes

One of the regulars on the U.S. Staff Sgt. James Kinchloe. He was one of the only African-American’s on the show and in charge of electronic communications and could also mimic German officers on the radio or phone.

The role was played to perfection by Ivan Dixon. Dixon has taken his Final Taxi ate the age of 76.

Ivan Dixon was born in New York City on April 6, 1931. Ivan had a prestigious list of acting credits before delving into the comedic escapades of Stalag 13. One of his first acting credits was for the celebrated television anthology show “The Dupont Show of the Month” in the 1960 production of “Arrowsmith.” He went on to act in the film version of the theatrical drama “A Raisin in the Sun” with Ruby Dee and Sidney Poitier in 1961, in which he played Asagai, the African boyfriend of Beneatha. He also portrayed Jim in the 1959 film version of “Porgy and Bess.” His other pre-“Hogan’s Heroes” film work includes: “Something of Value” (1957), “The Murder Men” (1961), and “The Battle at Bloody Beach” (1961).

Perhaps Ivan’s most important film role is in the acclaimed drama “Nothing But a Man” (1964). In this subtle, complicated character study, Ivan plays Duff, a Southern railroad worker who must decide if his life, his marriage and his relationship with his son will repeat the mistakes his own father committed. Unlike many films of the era, it presents a cast of black characters who are fully-developed individuals, with problems, joys and identities of their own. Dixon acted with Poitier again in the 1965 film “A Patch of Blue” about a blind white girl falling in love with a black man (Poitier).

Also in 1965, Dixon began his enlistment as Sergeant James Kinchloe on “Hogan’s Heroes” “Kinch” was primarily responsible for radio, telegraph, and other forms of electronic communications on the show and was always their when Hogan needed him.

Dixon left the series in 1970, one year before the show ended. His post-“Hogan” films included: “Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came?” (1970) and the Vietnam veteran melodrama “Clay Pigeon” (1971). I fondly remember him in the movie “Car Wash” (1976) when he played the boss Lonnie. Other television acting credits include the 1987 mini-series “Amerika,” the 1986 mystery film “Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star,” in which he played the judge, and the 1974 action drama “Fer-de-Lance” (aka “Death Dive”). In addition to acting on television, he also directed hundreds of episodic shows, including “The Waltons,” “The Rockford Files,” “Magnum P.I.” and “Heat of the Night.”

Dixon began directing films in the early 1970s, such as the 1972 gang warfare flick “Trouble Man” and the 1973 action movie “The Spy Who Sat by the Door” (which he also produced). For television, he directed “Love Is Not Enough” (1978), the series “Palmerstown, U.S.A.” (1980), the detective series “Hawaiian Heat” (1984), and the telemovie “Percy & Thunder” (1993).

Dixon’s awards include four NAACP Image Awards, National Black Theatre Award and the Paul Robeson Pioneer Award from the Black American Cinema Society. He was a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Directors Guild of America, Screen Actors Guild of America, and the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.

The Most Listened To Unknown Musician In Rock- Chuck Day

It’s funny how when you listen to music you may never know who is playing with the name musician. Many times a popular artist will have session musicians come in and play on a song. Session musicians are musicians available for hire, as opposed to musicians who are either permanent members of a musical outfit or who have acquired fame in their own right. Many go on to a solo career or join a regular band.
One of these unknowns was Chuck Day who was a guitarist and baritone bluesman from South Side Chicago with a name you may not have heard of, but you have probably heard his work. He will be most well known for coming up with “The Riff” in the song “Secret Agent Man”. He has taken his Final Taxi at 65.
Born in 1942, he recorded the single “Pony Tail Partner” under the name Bing Day at Federal Records in 1957. Day recorded several singles over the next ten years as ‘Bing Day’ and as ‘Ford Hopkins’.

He moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1965 and began a career as one of the most listened to “unknown” artists in rock and roll. He became bassist with Johnny Rivers’ Band playing with River on songs like “Seventh Son” and “Poor Side of Town” but he made a name as a musician when he came up with the cords heard in the popular song “Secret Agent Man”. The song was used during the opening titles of British spy series Secret Agent which aired from 1964 to 1966.
Day joined The Mamas and the Papas in 1967 playihng on such classic tracks as  “Monday, Monday” and “California Dreamin'”. During this time he became the father of band member Mama Cass Elliott’s daughter, Owen. Elliott never identified him as the father. He was stunned when his daughter, 21 years later, sought him out.

During the ’70s and ’80s Chuck played on numerous recordings including Shel Silverstein’s “Freaker’s Ball”. He also wrote for the soundtracks of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Switchblade Sisters , Blacula and Fritz the Cat

He eventually formed his own band in 1986 called the Burning Sensations also known as the Chuck Day band. They released a CD called, “Desperate Measures” in 1997.

Rocketeer’s creator – Dave Stevens

Back in the early 80’s I was buying comics from a tobacco store that doubled as a comic book shop in Tuscaloosa Alabama. I had become a fan of a writer/ artist Mike Grell. His Jon Sable- Freelance book was ahead of it time in story and art. I also picked up Mike Grell’s Starslayer #2 published from Pacific Comics that year. Something more that Grell’s work blew me away. rocketeer and Jenny
In it was a backup story for a character called the Rocketeer. Many other comic readers took notice for this story as well. It combined elements of classic pulp fiction heroes like Doc Savage and the Shadow into the narration, but is also had artwork that was incredible. One of the draws for many of the male audience was the sexy art of the heroes girlfriend. She looked a lot like the popular 50’s model, Bettie Page.Bettie Page became famous in the 1950s for her fetish modeling and pin-up photos. While she faded into obscurity in the 1960s after her conversion to Christianity, she experienced a resurgence of popularity in the 1980s (thanks to the Rocketeer) and now has a significant cult following.

The Rocketeer was created and drawn by Dave Stevens. It is comic book and pin-up artist Dave Stevens who has taken his Final Taxi due to leukemia at age 52.

Stevens was born July 29, 1955 in Lynwood, California, but grew up in Portland, Oregon. His first professional comic work was inking Russ Manning’s pencils for the daily Tarzan newspaper comic strips in 1975. ( Fittingly, he won the inaugural Russ Manning Award in 1982 for most promising newcomer.) Starting in 1977 he drew storyboards for Hanna-Barbara animated TV shows, including Super Friends and The Godzilla Power Hour.

1n 1982 Stevens created the character “The Rocketeer.” The Rocketeer was a stunt pilot, Cliff Secord, who discovered a mysterious jet pack that allowed him to fly. The character’s adventures were set in 1938 Los Angeles and Stevens gave them a retro, nostalgic feel, influenced by, among other things, Commando Cody movie serials and pinup diva Bettie Page.

The eponymous superhero’s girlfriend was inspired by Stevens’ ex-wife, the actress Brinke Stevens, who continued to model for him after their divorce (although he always substituted the face of glamour icon Bettie Page).

Stevens was a huge fan of Bettie Page and captured her sensual beauty in hundreds of drawings and paintings. He later befriended her and gave her a share of his earning on the comic.

The character migrated from Eclipse to Comico, and finally ended up at Dark Horse Comics. Later, the character was transformed into a 1991 Disney film The Rocketeer, which starred Bill Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin and Timothy Dalton. Mr. Stevens co-produced the hit film.

Stevens did uncredited storyboard work on “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” He appeared as himself in the documentary “Frazetta: Painting With Fire.”

When asked in an interview about how he created his most famous creation, Dave Steven said, ” I’d always loved the idea of a guy flying like a bird, with just a combustible contraption strapped to his back. The image really appealed to me. But I didn’t want to be stuck doing an exact replication of the serials, with Martians, death-rays, etc. That wasn’t the quite the approach I wanted to take. I wanted to do a real period aviation strip, but with one small element of science-fiction added: The rocket-pack! So I came up with the outfit and the name. You know, a funny take on the word, racketeer, “The Rocketeer.” I thought it sounded catchy and the drawing seemed to work.”

Letter to Heaven returned- Postage due

Imagine wanting closure from the death of a loved one and getting a bill for it. That is what happened when a French teenager who wrote a letter to her late mother in heaven had it returned with a demand for postal costs.

The 13-year-old girl, named, addressed the letter to Paradise Street, Heaven.

Two days later it was returned to her home in Chatillonais, France with an “unknown at this address” notice and a demand for 1.35 euros as she hadn’t put a stamp on the envelope.

Two years after her mother’s death, Anais was still inconsolable. She decided to send her a letter to let her mum know how much she loved her.

Asked to explain the mishap, the French post office said there really was a town in the area called Heaven — “Ciel” in French — but that the street named Paradise Street was unknown.

Gary Gygax, D&D creator, rolls a natural 1 on a saving throw

One of my favorite episodes of the TV show Futurama has the lead character, Fry, wondering what would happen if he had never gone into the future. A machine shows him that it would have caused a rift in the time and he is abducted and introduced to the “Vice Presidential Action Rangers”, led by Al Gore, whose task is to protect the space-time continuum. Fry soon causes the universe to collapse into a space-time rift. The scenario ends with the characters playing Dungeons and Dragons gary_gygax.jpg for the next quadrillion years with Al Gore playing a role of Vice President rather than a typical role in D&D.

Dungeons and Dragons creator, Gary Gygax, made an appearance during show alongside Al Gore. This is something of an inside joke since Gore’s wife, Tipper Gore, hates Dungeons & Dragons and has been publicly critical of it.

The groundbreaking role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons spread to high schools and college campuses across the nation starting in 1974.Initially players were isolated in communities of socially awkward young men listening to heavy-metal music and pretending to be goblins. Today they have grown to include millions of different people, of all ages and sexes and musical tastes, connected by the Internet and pretending to be everything from gnomes to glamorous models.

The game has helped many people get over being shy or awkward and given them the ability to become doctors, lawyers, police or any other job they might have stayed away from.

It is Ernest Gary Gygax, the father of the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, whose has taken his Final Taxi as the age of 69.

Born July 27, 1938, in Chicago was taught to play cards at the age of five, and chess a year later, by his mother. Gygax grew up reading science fiction and fantasy works by Ray Bradbury, Robert E Howard (the creator of Conan the Barbarian) , and H.P. Lovecraft. After dropping out of the University of Minnesota, he became an insurance underwriter. In his spare time, he helped found the International Federation of Wargamers, a group of gamers scattered around the Midwest. There he met Dave Arneson and the two developed a game where the gamers played roles. The result was a game heavily influenced by J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. They called it Dungeons & Dragons. Among the game’s signature items was a die with 20 sides.

The game was marketed mainly by word of mouth as D&D sold its first thousand units in less than a year and then jumped dramatically. Gygax co-founded the company Tactical Studies Rules (TSR, Inc.) with Don Kaye in 1974 and in 1977 he developed a more complex version of the game that was released with a thick rule book.

The game became the focus of controversy in 1979 when a Michigan State University student went missing in steam tunnels below the school’s campus and was rumored to have been playing D&D. Role-playing games were denounced by Christian groups, and a “60 Minutes” report seemed to link D&D to a pair of suicides. Gygax received threats and hired a bodyguard, but the publicity only increased sales.

Gary Gygax was a producer and writer for the Marvel Productions, Ltd. cartoon series Dungeons & Dragons, which aired on CBS in 1983-84. He also still hosted a weekly game of Dungeons & Dragons as recently as January.

Among the tributes of his career was when fans named a species of bacteria for him: Arthronema gygaxiana.

Precious Moments Figurine Creator – Eugene Freedman

Have you seen that episode of The Simpsons where Ned, Homer’s next door neighbor and an avid collector of Humble figurines, gets fed up with the morally bankrupt populace of Springfield and moves to the fictional Humbleton, Pennsylvania? This is where figurines which depict large-eyed boys and girls in iconic Americana settings are produced and Ned thinks it will be perfect there. However, the residents of Humbleton are so uptight that even Ned doesn’t meet their moral standards and he moves back to Springfield.

Of course that show is parodying a widely known series of collectible porcelain bisque figurines called Precious Moments.

I have in my time bought a few of them for a girl I may have gone out with on Valentine’s day or a little girl’s birthday. Those young children with distinctive teardrop-shaped eyes, and often accompanied by inspirational messages have always been good gifts to give.

Eugene Freedman, the creator of the porcelain Precious Moments figurines has taken his Final Taxi at the age of 82.

Born in Philadelphia on March 9, 1925, Freedman grew up in Milwaukee and attended Northwestern University and California Institute of Technology. He received his Navy commission at Notre Dame University and was a Second World War veteran.

He began his career in the late 1940s as a salesman for a Milwaukee-based gift and novelty company. After a year, Freedman opened his own manufacturing and distribution company under the name Gene Freedman. Some time before 1978, Freedman met Sam Butcher at a Christian trade show in Los Angeles, California. Butcher is the artist behind the Precious Moments brand of characters. He recognized the potential of Samuel J. Butcher’s two-dimensional art on greeting cards as a successful series of porcelain figurines. Sculptors brought life to Butcher’s “children” as three dimensional figurines thanks to the idea thought out by Freedman.

In 1977, the porcelain figurines were introduced to US retailers, and officially started its retail career in 1978. Years passed and Precious Moments became one of the top porcelain collectible brand in the United States during the mid 1980s to 1990s.

The Precious Moments Collectors’ Club was founded in 1980, followed by the Precious Moments Fun Club in the 90s. In a 2004 report by the club headquarters, the cumulative membership was 100,000 individuals.

Under Freeman’s leadership, the company grew to achieve an international sales volume in excess of $500 million.

Freedman worked with Easter Seals, and served on the national board of Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Freedman’s philanthropic endeavors earned him well-deserved recognition. He received the Gift for Life’s Chuck Yancy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001 for his efforts to fight AIDS, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America’s Herbert Hoover Humanitarian award in 2004, and the Easter Seals National Philanthropist of the Year award in 2005. Freedman was also honored with the Congressional Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and a special recognition award from the National Association of Limited Edition Dealers (NALED), among many other awards.