Tommy and Me by Ray Didinger Evokes Nostalgia for a Bygone Era in Professional Sports

Tommy and Me by Ray Didinger Evokes Nostalgia for a Bygone Era in Professional Sports

When my brother Mark announced his plan to take us to see Tommy and Me by Ray Didinger, I had no idea what to expect. Although a lifelong Eagles fan, my earliest memories of the team begin in the 1970’s with players like Tom Dempsey, Harold Carmichael, and Roman Gabriel…when the Dallas Cowboys ruled and loyal fans suffered through consecutive losing seasons until Dick Vermeil came along and turned the Eagles into winners, beginning with the 1978-79 season. The one characterized by the Miracle at the Meadowlands, culminating in a 9-7 record. Winners!

I had heard about older players and the 1960 championship from my parents and brothers, but it didn’t mean much to me until I attended Didinger’s one-act play, featuring just four excellent actors. Performed at Theatre Exile, it tells the uplifting and heart-warming story of a Philly boy (Didinger) who loved his Philadelphia Eagles, and in particular, his idol Tommy McDonald. Their personal relationship begins one summer day in Hershey, during the Didinger family’s annual Eagles training camp vacation, when after patiently waiting outside the locker room for an autograph, young Ray meets his favorite Eagle. Tommy McDonald graciously engages the boy in conversation and asks him to hold his helmet as they walk together toward the field. It’s the start of a lifelong connection, though McDonald won’t realize it until decades later.

We follow Ray through his career as a Philly sportswriter and commentator, which reunites him with McDonald in the 1980’s and culminates in McDonald at last being inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 1998. At the end of the performance, I learned something new about my own family when my dad raised his hand during the Q & A to tell the story of how he took care of McDonald when he was a resident doctor at Misericordia Hospital in West Philly.

More than anything, Tommy and Me made me nostalgic for the days when professional athletes were connected to their fans and played mostly for the love of the game. What a refreshing tribute to a bygone era in professional sports. Many thanks to the cast, writers, and crew for the fun, interactive conversation with the audience at the end of the performance. I’m so thankful I was still “up north” to see it.

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For the Heroes – A Tribute to the United States Military

From Matt Fitzgibbons:

Matt Fitzgibbons has won multiple awards for songwriting including two ASCAPlus Awards and has a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Connecticut. He’s done many interviews about his passion for individual liberty both nationally and internationally on TV, radio, newspapers, and podcasts including WVIT, WPKN, KPMX, WRKI, WTNH, NPR, the Hartford Courant, Waterbury Republican, etc. He has also hosted a popular online radio show called “Constitution Corner” and currently co-hosts “Common Sense for the 21st Century” with Tim Howard on the USA Emergency Broadcasting Network. Music, press, awards, interviews, and contact information can found on his website at PatriotMusic.com.

Thank you to all who have served and sacrificed. God bless you and God bless America!

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The Truth Is Out There – The Voice of The People

The Truth Is Out There – The Voice of The People

Many thanks to Joe Goldner and Gayle C. Hammer for hosting me last night on their excellent program. During our interview, we talked about  Writestream Radio and Writestream Publishing, ghostwriting, politics and more! Click to listen below. I join them in the second hour.

Visit The Truth Is Out There – The Voice of The People on Blog Talk Radio.

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A Review of Ben-Hur

Last night, I saw the epic 2016 version of Ben-Hur in 3-D. While the film has mostly been disparaged by critics, I thought it was excellent — and not just for its outstanding cinematography and special effects.

Based on the bestselling novel, Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ, the film tells the story of  a Jewish prince whose family is betrayed by his adopted Roman brother, after he is falsely accused of sedition. These events unfold in parallel with the ministry and ultimate crucifixion of Jesus Christ, played by Rodrigo Santoro.

As Judah Ben-Hur and Messala Severus, actors Jack Huston and Tony Kebbell offered gritty, realistic performances as brothers torn apart by political circumstances. Playing Ben Hur’s wife, Esther, the beautiful Nazanin Boniadi  comes across as genuine, strong, and feminine. As the film progresses, her character becomes a devout disciple of Christ.

While most critics have paid homage to the spectacular climax of the film, if nothing else, I was just as moved by its themes of love, betrayal, redemption, hope, and faith. It was also striking to witness the utter brutality of the Romans (just as in The Passion of the Christ), borne of a lust for power and a thirst for blood. Morgan Freeman, the only actor I recognized, turned in another compelling performance as Sheik Ilderim. I especially loved the scene in which he advises the former galley slave, Ben-Hur, to beat the Romans the only way he can.

Intertwining history, human fallibility, and spirituality with beautiful scenery, breathtaking special effects, and excellent acting, Ben-Hur is a must-see film…preferably in 3-D.

 

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