Saturday, January 20, 2007

Bam Bam Bigelow passes away

Bam Bam Bigelow passes away

Written: January 20, has learned that former WWE Superstar Scott "Bam Bam" Bigelow has passed away in Florida.

Kevin Doll, the Public Information Director for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office confirmed that Bigelow was found dead early Friday morning in his home in Hudson, Fla.

"We can confirm that Scott Bigelow was found in his home this morning. At this time the cause of death is unknown," Doll told

Doll also confirmed that the Pasco-Pinellas Counties medical examiner has taken the body and an autopsy will be performed.

Bigelow, 45, worked for WWE, ECW and WCW extensively throughout his 20-year sports-entertainment career. A former ECW Champion, ECW Television Champion and WCW Tag Team Champion, he is perhaps best known for his rivalry with Lawrence Taylor that culminated in the main event of WrestleMania XI in 1995.

Former Sen. George Smathers dies at 93

Former Sen. George Smathers dies at 93

By MATT SEDENSKY, Associated Press Writer
33 minutes ago

Former U.S. Sen. George A. Smathers, a polished, dashing politician who forged friendships with presidents, waged war against communism, resisted civil rights legislation and was an early voice cautioning of Fidel Castro's rise to power, died Saturday. He was 93.

The Democrat, who served two terms in the U.S. House and three in the Senate, suffered a stroke Monday, said his son, Bruce. He lived in Indian Creek Village, an exclusive island community outside Miami.

Smathers was among a new breed of congressmen — along with John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon — who arrived on Capitol Hill in the late 1940s with a worldliness that few before them had brought. Shaped by World War II duty in the Marines, Smathers used his more than two decades in Washington to focus on international issues and fight the spread of communism.

The senator was a political force who managed to unseat familiar faces, garner the ears of the powerful and stake a place as a moderate able to straddle both sides of the aisle. But by the time Smathers left office in 1969 — at his own choosing — some dismissed his legislative achievements as far less impressive than his Rolodex.

Charming and 6-foot-2, so handsome in his tailored suits his opponents took to calling him "Gorgeous George," Smathers seemed to win friends wherever he went.

At Kennedy's wedding rehearsal dinner, Smathers spoke on behalf of the groom. When Lyndon Johnson suffered his first heart attack, Smathers was at his side. And when Nixon sought a refuge from the White House, it was Smathers who sold him his Key Biscayne home.

Smathers' links to the powerful meant he was frequently turned to for counsel, but his advice was often ignored and his stances didn't always fall in line with his party's leadership.

Like other Southern Democrats, Smathers coddled segregationist white voters. He supported voting rights for blacks but sought to weaken other equal rights measures or simply vote against them, as he did with the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. He said such matters were better left in the hands of the people.

"I don't like bigotry and intolerance," he said, according to Brian Lewis Crispell's 1999 biography "Testing the Limits: George Armistead Smathers and Cold War America." "But they do exist and I don't think you're going to get them out by passing laws."

He opposed Thurgood Marshall's nomination to the Supreme Court. He called the Brown v. Board of Education decision a "clear abuse of judicial power." And when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was jailed in St. Augustine, Smathers offered to pay the minister's bail, but only if he left the state.

While such positions led some to label Smathers a racist — those who knew him insist he was simply trying to keep his job — his expertise on Latin America made him an early advocate for the people of that region, if for nothing more than to quash communism's expansion.

Smathers consistently pleaded for more attention for Latin America. He pushed the Alliance for Progress, which pumped billions of dollars in additional aid to the region, and was among the earliest and loudest voices cautioning of Castro's communist leanings, urging a hard-line approach to Cuba and a total embargo on its goods.

"We have a moral as well as a legal responsibility to pursue a policy that will lead to Castro's downfall," he once told The New York Times.

Kennedy sought his friend's advice on Cuba and other issues.

Their upbringings of affluence, wartime experiences and passion for golf — and women — ensured they shared more than just adjacent offices when both arrived in the House in 1946.

Kennedy leaned on Smathers — literally. As the story goes, hampered by a bad back and other war injuries, Kennedy took advantage of his office's proximity to Smathers' when they walked to the floor of Congress to cast votes, leaning on his new friend.

George Armistead Smathers was born Nov. 13, 1913, in Atlantic City, N.J. His father was a federal judge; his uncle a U.S. senator. His family moved to Miami when he was 6 and he attended public schools, including Miami Senior High School, where he ran for student body president, and like every other election he entered, emerged victorious.

After earning undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Florida, Smathers served as an assistant U.S. district attorney, then entered the Marines. After his discharge, he served a short stint in the U.S. Attorney General's Office before pursuing politics.

Smathers unseated a four-term congressman to win his seat in 1946, but it was his Senate race four years later that was among the most contentious in Florida's history.

The congressman badgered incumbent Sen. Claude Pepper on his support of civil rights and charged his pleas for patience with the Soviet Union made him a communist sympathizer. Scurrilous statements were uttered on both sides of the campaign, but the most famous remarks — innocuous declarations delivered to less-educated audiences to appear scandalous — may have never been uttered.

"Do you know that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert?" he was quoted as saying. "Not only that, but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law and he has a sister who was once a thespian in wicked New York. Worst of all, it is an established fact that Mr. Pepper, before his marriage, habitually practiced celibacy."

The comments were recorded in a small magazine, picked up in Time and elsewhere and etched into the public's memories, but Smathers denied ever having made them. He offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who could prove he did, but no one could.

Pepper's backers called Smathers — who had previously worked on his challenger's campaign — a fearmonger and a bigot whose tactics amounted to McCarthyism. But Smathers prevailed.

In his political career, Smathers helped pass bills to create Medicare, the Small Business Administration and Everglades National Park. He pushed for federal holidays to be moved to Mondays, essentially creating the modern three-day weekend. And he ardently supported the war in Vietnam.

Despite his popularity — and the prodding of others — Smathers said he had no interest in ascending further in politics. After leaving office in 1969, he made a fortune through a lobbying office and varied business ventures from orange groves to car dealerships. He gave tens of millions of dollars to his alma mater, the University of Florida, and to the University of Miami.

Smathers' first marriage, to the former Rosemary Townley, ended in divorce shortly after his departure from politics; she died in 2002. He is survived by his second wife, the former Carolyn Hyder, to whom he'd been married since the early 1970s; his son Bruce, a former secretary of state in Florida who lives in Jacksonville; another son, John, of Arlington, Va.; a sister, Virginia Myers, of Coral Gables; and three grandchildren.

A funeral service is scheduled for Jan. 29 in Bal Harbour.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 19, 2007

What's New with Me

Hi Everyone,
I have been very busy lately. It seems that I have been putting in over forty hours at work lately. It happens when folks call out, have vacation, etc. I do not mind the overtime pay, as it always comes in handy (especially in NJ!). I have had the last two days off, resting as much as I can. The area below my left shoulderblade has been bothering me on and off since Tuesday. I think it has to do with two things- the change in temperature outside and sneezing awkwardly that day. A friend of mine, Christina, told me that I should see my doctor. I told her that I was doing okay today, that it tends to come and go. I do have prescribed muscle relaxers on hand, so I have been taking them before I go to sleep. I try not to take them if I am actively working or driving, as they do cause me to be dizzy and/or drowsy. I said to myself the other day, "This is one of those times I wish I had a significant other, because I know that she would make sure that I do not overdo it."

As far as relationships go, things will happen if given time, you cannot force it. There is nothing wrong with taking a step back to re-evaluate everything, including yourself. If you treat yourself good, then others will see it, too. Remember- the best way to be cool is to be yourself! You may not always finish first, but the other person will live to regret it later. DON'T SWEAT IT!

Sorry for going off on a tangent, but it is sound advice for all ages. I know that people of all ages read blogs, and everyday is a learning experience. Ignorance occurs when you stop learning, whether or not you want to hear it.

Getting back to the relationship thing, something could happen on my end. I have been small-talking to a couple of females, one older and one younger than me. I will say that both have great qualities, based on my observations. I am trying to make up my mind as to which one, but I do have to find out some more about both myself. This may sound weird, but I will treat as no big thing if I ask them out or not. It is not like I won the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes. (That would make me a marked man, if I did.)

I just signed up this week for an internet marketing gig. If you are interested in taking a peek, please copy and paste the following link below:

The good thing about it is that it does provide three different plans for you to start. Please check it out by doing a copy and paste to the link previously mentioned. Here it is again for those who do not like to scroll up:

Finally, I had lunch today with a former co-worker from my former job. It was a pleasure to catch up and to hear about the latest rumblimgs going on there. She told me a friend of mine (and somebody I like a lot) just got engaged. I was given the option of having the person I had lunch with pass a message to her, but I told her that she would rather hear it from me. I hope that the day does come, even though it would be an awkward moment. When I was there, I always did my best to be a man of class, and having me say both, "Congratulations!", and "Good Luck!" to her in person would be the right thing.

If you would like to a very interesting radio show that talk about relationships and the like, then check out "After Hours with Michele Pilenza". It is on Monday through Thursday nights from 7PM-11PM ET on 101.5-FM (WKXW, Trenton, NJ) locally, or 97.3-FM (WIXM, Millville, NJ) on the radio. Or, you can listen live at The topics that discusses are relative across the board, whether you are a husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, or solo, and it is very entertaining.

Take care, and have a wonderful weekend!


Mamas and Papas member dead at 66

Mamas and Papas member dead at 66

46 minutes ago

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - Denny Doherty, one-quarter of the 1960s folk-rock group the Mamas and the Papas, known for their soaring harmony on hits like "California Dreamin'" and "Monday, Monday," died Friday at 66.

His sister Frances Arnold said the singer-songwriter died at his home in Mississauga, a city just west of Toronto, after a short illness.

The group burst on the national scene in 1966 with the top 10 smash "California Dreamin'." The Mamas and the Papas broke new ground by having women and men in one group at a time when most singing groups were unisex. John Phillips, the group's chief songwriter; his wife, Michelle; and another female vocalist, Cass Elliot, teamed with Doherty.

"Monday, Monday" hit No. 1 on the charts and won the band a Grammy for best contemporary group performance. Among the group's other songs were "I Saw Her Again Last Night," "Go Where You Wanna Go," "Dancing Bear," and versions of "I Call Your Name" and "Dedicated to the One I Love."

"What made the group special was their haunting and sumptuous harmony singing," according to "The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll."

In 1998, the Mamas and the Papas were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The group's catchy sound was a blend of '60s upbeat pop and the folk music that had surged in popularity early in the decade. The song "Creeque Alley" told the story of their formation amid the musical ferment of the folk scene; among the other stars-to-be mentioned in its lyrics were members of the Lovin' Spoonful and the Byrds.

But the group's heyday was brief and it disbanded in 1968 following John and Michelle Phillips' divorce. The members re-formed in 1971 for the album "People Like Us," but all hope for a reunion ended in 1974 when the 30-year-old Elliot choked and suffered a fatal heart attack while eating a sandwich in London.

Phillips briefly re-formed the group in 1982 with Doherty, Phillips' actress daughter, Mackenzie, and Elaine "Spanky" McFarlane. The foursome toured playing oldies and new Phillips originals.

In 2003, Doherty was co-author and performer in an off-Broadway show called "Dream a Little Dream: The Mamas and the Papas Musical," which traced the band's early years, its dizzying fame and breakup.

"There's a part of this thing that if I'm not careful, I'd be just a blob on the stage crying my guts out," Doherty told The Associated Press at the time. "Everybody knows about death and dying and sadness, so it's an exercise in staying in the moment and not getting maudlin about your friends dying."

John Phillips died in 2001 at 65.

The Halifax-born Doherty started his music career in Montreal in 1960 as the co-founder of the Colonials, which later became the Halifax Three.

Doherty made a solo album in 1974 and achieved a bit of immortality by both playing the Harbormaster and voicing all the characters for the children's TV series "Theodore Tugboat."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Report: Waters' suicide tied to brain damage

Report: Waters' suicide tied to brain damage

January 18, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) -- Brain damage caused on the football field ultimately led to the suicide of former NFL defensive back Andre Waters, according to a forensic pathologist who studied Waters' brain tissue.

Bennet Omalu of the University of Pittsburgh told The New York Times that Waters' brain tissue resembled that of an 85-year-old man and that there were characteristics of early stage Alzheimer's. Omalu told the newspaper he believed the damage was related to multiple concussions Waters sustained during his 12-year NFL career with the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals.

Waters was 44 when he committed suicide last November.

Omalu said trauma was a significant factor in Waters' brain damage, "no matter how you look at it, distort it, bend it."

The pathologist also told the newspaper the signs of depression that family members described Waters as exhibiting in his final years likely was caused by the brain trauma. Had he lived, Omalu said, the former player would have been fully incapacitated within 10 years.

The Alzheimer's Association Web site reports "there appears to be a strong link between serious head injury and future risk of Alzheimer's." The statement did not distinguish between a single catastrophic trauma and lesser repetitive injuries.

"Whatever its cause, Andre Waters' suicide is a tragic incident and our hearts go out to his family," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Thursday.

"The subject of concussions is complex. We are devoting substantial resources to independent medical research of current and retired players, strict enforcement of enhanced player safety rules, development and testing of better equipment, and comprehensive medical management of this injury. This work over the past decade has contributed significantly to the understanding of concussions and the advancement of player safety."

Omalu began his research at the request of Chris Nowinski, a former Harvard football player and professional wrestler whose career was ended by multiple concussions. After hearing of Waters' suicide, Nowinski called Waters' sister, Sandra Pinkney, and asked permission to do further investigation on her brother's remains.

Pinkney agreed. In mid-December, Nowinski shipped four pieces of Waters' brain from Florida to Omalu in Pennsylvania.

Nowinski chose Omalu because he had examined the brains of two former Pittsburgh Steelers players who were discovered to have brain trauma after sustaining concussions -- Mike Webster, who suffered brain damage and became homeless before dying of heart failure in 2002, and Terry Long, who killed himself in 2005.

Waters' family said they hope further research will change the way the NFL -- and all athletic organizations -- treat concussions.

"I just want there to be more teaching and for them to take the proper steps as far as treating them," Kwana Pittman, Waters' niece, told the newspaper. "Don't send them back out on those fields. They boost it up in their heads that, you know, 'You tough, you tough."'

Updated on Thursday, Jan 18, 2007 5:55 pm EST

Jenkins: Parsons loved eats, song with colleague

Jenkins: Parsons loved eats, song with colleague

Two paired as broadcasters with ESPN for more than a decade

By Ryan Smithson, NASCAR.COM
January 16, 2007
08:12 PM EST (01:12 GMT)

Some of Bob Jenkins' best times with Benny Parsons had absolutely nothing to do with auto racing.

After a long day at the track, the two chased good food and good music, usually in that order.

Jenkins, who worked with Parsons in the broadcast booth for 10 years with ESPN, said Parsons' folksy on-air persona was real. The two traveled together constantly, hitting places from Tucson to Talladega.

Parsons died on Tuesday after complications from lung cancer. The news hit Jenkins, 59, extremely hard.

"I am just absolutely devastated, I can say nothing else but that," said Jenkins, paired with Parsons at ESPN from the late 1980s until the end of the 2000 season.

Their time together eventually morphed Jenkins and Parsons into brothers. The two traveled the circuit, often via car, searching for steak and song.

Yes, song. Parsons loved music almost as much as he enjoyed talking about racing.

"We just both loved oldies, and there was a station that we listened to when we went to Talladega that basically specialized in old country music," Jenkins said. "We would both sing. It was terrible if you were there in the car, but boy, we had fun."

Some of the best times with Parsons involved their annual trips to Arizona, where the two worked side-by-side broadcasting the now-defunct Winter Heat Series for ESPN. The Winter Heat Series wasn't as intense as the typical Cup or Busch Series broadcast, and Parsons and Jenkins enjoyed the laid-back weekends.

Parsons and Jenkins always stopped by a particular country-and-western steakhouse on the outskirts of Tucson. The band there played a lot of Parsons' favorite songs.

"We loved to go there and listen," Jenkins said. "One of the songs that Benny loved so much was El Paso, the song that was made popular by Marty Robbins.

"The last few words were, 'One little kiss, and Felina, good-bye.'

"Benny would always stand up when they came to that line, and we would sing along with the band."

Another benefit of working the Winter Heat races was the lack of traffic. Parsons absolutely hated to sit in traffic, which puts him in line with every other NASCAR driver that lived.

Parsons eventually came up with ways to escape the logjams in just about every track the Cup circuit visited. When the series hosted its first Cup race in Las Vegas in 1998, Parsons found himself horrified to see the track backed up on Las Vegas Boulevard.

He took drastic action, as Jenkins remembers. Even 10 years later, Jenkins chuckles at the story.

"When we went to Las Vegas for the first time, he hadn't figured out the escape route completely," Jenkins said. "But he had this idea.

"Benny made a right-hand turn into Nellis Air Force Base. We got in, and there were these signs as large as billboards, saying, 'Private Government Property, no trespassing, violators will be prosecuted.'

"It didn't matter to Benny. He was not sitting in traffic. We went right through. It was probably in the same element as Area 51 where the government was watching every move you made, but we went right ahead and traversed those roads and didn't sit in traffic for a minute.

"It was nothing to Benny. His goal was to avoid traffic any way you could, even taking a chance at being prosecuted by the federal government."

Parsons probably hated sitting in traffic because it delayed his meals. Parsons loved food almost as much as he loved driving a stock car.

"We ate a lot of meals together and traveled together in the car a lot," Jenkins said. "If you hung out with him, you'd find the best restaurants, not necessarily the best, but ones that served the type of food he liked."

Parsons' fondness for food even extended to the broadcast booth. During his ESPN days, the network began airing brief segments titled "Buffet Benny," where a camera crew would follow Parsons' experiences in some out-of-the-way establishment.

"We did those 'Buffet Benny' features those few years during our ESPN days," Jenkins said. "Those were so much fun to do because Benny was asked to do some really strange things, like paddling a canoe down a river.

"Because Benny liked to eat so much, we would choose a restaurant or a local hangout when we went to individual racetracks. They were just so much fun because Benny will allow you to do anything you needed as long as it was entertaining and for the broadcast.

"We put Benny through a lot, and he never returned a word. He was something."

NBC expanding `Today' to 4 hours

NBC expanding `Today' to 4 hours

By DAVID BAUDER, AP Television Writer
Wed Jan 17, 10:01 PM ET

NBC's "Today" show will add a fourth hour in September, stretching television's most popular and lucrative morning show nearly into lunchtime.

The fourth hour will likely resemble the current third hour, light on hard news and heavy on lifestyle segments, NBC executives said Wednesday. Al Roker and Ann Curry are currently hosts of the third hour, but NBC News President Steve Capus said it hasn't been determined who will do the fourth hour.

"The key here is the quality," said executive producer Jim Bell. "It will connect with the `Today' brand."

At the same time, NBC is canceling the soap opera "Passions." Both moves reflect a trend that advertisers have less interest in traditional daytime TV while morning news and entertainment is considered a growth area. Fox is introducing a new network morning show on Monday.

Roughly half of NBC affiliates are expected to take the fourth hour when it begins, Capus said. Some may air it at a different time of day.

"Today" host Matt Lauer, who will likely have little to do with the fourth hour, acknowledged that he was wary about the idea at first.

"You go into something like this with slightly mixed emotions," he said. "The one thing you don't want it to do is dilute the brand."

But he said he understood the business reasons behind it and was confident it will work.

Lauer's co-host Meredith Vieira will have nothing to do with the fourth hour for contractual reasons. Since she is host of the game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," her contract forbids her from being a part of another show past 9 a.m. each day.

Capus also said he expected better results from the fourth hour than the short-run "Later Today" program, which aired earlier this decade with Florence Henderson as a host.

That show didn't work because it felt like something different from the "Today" show, he said.

"Today" recently remodeled its studio to overcome technical barriers to the expansion. "Today" occasionally does a new live version for the West Coast of its first half-hour during breaking news. Until the studio expanded, NBC wouldn't have had room to simultaneously do this and a live fourth hour.

How long can "Today" eventually become? Lauer had a quip for that.

"At the end of the show, we're going to get to the point where I'm just going to hand it directly to Brian Williams," Lauer said. Williams anchors the "NBC Nightly News."

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Bill's Comment: Matt Lauer does have a point. At the rate they are going, they would have the "Today" show would run into "NBC Nightly News". Why not have "Today" as a separate channel? This would explain why NBC has been making all of those cutbacks. Remember- don't put all of your eggs in one basket.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

By the Numbers: B.P.

NASCAR legend Parsons turned consistency into success

By Josh Pate, NASCAR.COM
January 16, 2007
10:09 AM EST (15:09 GMT)

Only four drivers won NASCAR championships during the 1970s -- Richard Petty won five, Cale Yarborough won three, Bobby Isaac won the 1970 title ... and in 1973 there was Benny Parsons.

Parsons beat Yarborough by 67.15 points for the only NASCAR title of his career despite finishing 28th in the season's final race. It made him the first driver to win both ARCA and NASCAR championships.

But titles never defined Parsons, who died Tuesday from lung cancer.

Some may have known "The Professor" as the analyst for NBC/TNT broadcasts for the past six years, thanks to his colorful insight to sheet metal going 180 mph around a circle 500 times.

Others may know him as the NASCAR legend who was named one of the sport's 50 greatest drivers in 1998. It's no coincidence that Bill France once said such a title defined the competition of the sport.

Key Dates

July 12, 1941 -- Benny Parsons was born in Ellerbe, N.C.

Aug. 9, 1964 -- Benny Parsons' first NASCAR race, the Western North Carolina 500 held at the half-mile Asheville-Weaverville Speedway. Parsons started ninth but finished 21st after an overheating problem in his Holman-Moody Ford. He won $250.

May 9, 1971 -- Benny Parsons' first NASCAR victory, the Halifax County 100 at the .357-mile South Boston Speedway. Parsons led 42 laps in his No. 72 L.G. DeWitt Ford and finished one lap ahead of second-place Richard Petty.

March 18, 1984 -- Benny Parsons' final NASCAR victory, the Coca-Cola 500 at Atlanta International Raceway. Parsons beat Dale Earnhardt by 0.9 seconds. It was his second of just 14 races that seasons, although he finished the year with 10 top-10s.

What you didn't know

1 -- Time B.P. finished on the lead lap during his 1973 championship season, although he wasn't in the car when it crossed the start/finish line -- in first. John Utsman relieved an ailing Parsons and drove the car to its only lead-lap finish at the Volunteer 500 at Bristol and its only victory of the season. Parsons clinched the championship later that year with 15 top-fives and 21 top-10s.


Benny Parsons drove at least one race in 21 different seasons. He ran a partial schedule for eight seasons, and for 13 seasons Parsons was a full-timer in NASCAR's premier series. In 10 of those seasons, he finished inside the top 10 in the point standings

0 -- Times Benny Parsons finished on the lead lap in 31 races during the 1972 season, although he collected 10 top-five and 19 top-10 finishes and ended the year fifth in the final standings.

1 -- Victory for Benny Parsons in 1975 -- the Daytona 500 -- which marked the first of seven consecutive seasons he won a race. Parsons would later say winning the great race meant more to him than winning the 1973 championship.

1 -- Victory for Benny Parsons from the pole position: the 1980 Gabriel 400 at Michigan. He started up front, led 75 laps and held off Cale Yarborough for the win. It was the second of three victories for Parsons that season.

2 -- ARCA championships for Benny Parsons (1968 and 1969). Parsons became the first ARCA champion to be inducted into the International Sports Hall of Fame and is the only driver to win the ARCA and Cup Series titles.

3 -- Top-10 finishes in four starts during the 1969 season for Benny Parsons, his second attempt at NASCAR after a one-race deal in 1964. Parsons finished fifth in a Daytona qualifier, seventh in the Daytona 500 and third at Texas World Speedway. His only blemish was a 38th-place finish at Michigan when his engine expired.

4 -- Victories in 1977, the most in a single season during Benny Parsons' career. The victories came at Nashville, Pocono, Dover and Charlotte. He had 22 top-10 finishes and wound up third in the standings behind Cale Yarborough and Richard Petty.

5 -- Consecutive races that Benny Parsons either started or finished first at Nashville Speedway. He earned consecutive poles in 1975 and '76, then won two races in a row from 1976-77, then earned the pole at the July race in 1977.

7 -- Seasons that Benny Parsons had more than 20 top-10 finishes: 1970 (23), 1973 (21), 1976 (23), 1977 (22), 1978 (21), 1979 (21) and 1980 (21).

8.2 -- Average finish for B.P. in 28 races at North Wilkesboro, one of his most successful tracks. He had one victory, 16 top-fives and 21 top-10s at the .625-mile speedway.

9 -- Times Benny Parsons finished inside the top five in the season's final point standings.

9.259 -- Average starting position for B.P. during his career, 21st on the all-time list. He is one of only 30 drivers who have a career starting average of 10th or better.

10 -- Consecutive seasons Benny Parsons finished inside the top 10 in points, nine of which he finished fifth or better. Between 1972 and 1981, he did not miss a race and won in eight of those seasons.

14 -- Consecutive races during Benny Parsons' 1973 championship season that he finished in the top 10. Parsons was fifth at Bristol on March 25 and kept the streak going through short tracks and superspeedways until he was credited for a victory in the Volunteer 500 on July 8 -- his only victory of the season.

21 -- Victories for B.P. in his 21-year career, tying him for 28th on the all-time list with Bobby Labonte and Jack Smith.

53.8 -- Percentage in which Benny Parsons finished in the top 10 during his 526 career starts. He had 283 top-10 finishes, ranking him 17th on the all-time list.

199 -- Top-five finishes for Benny Parsons in his career, ranking him 13th on the all-time list. He finished in the top five in 37.8 percent of his starts.

200.176 mph -- Speed that Benny Parsons clocked to win the pole for the 1982 Winston 500 at Talladega -- the first NASCAR qualifying run faster than 200 mph.

1980 -- Year that Benny Parsons won his second consecutive race at Ontario Motor Speedway. Parsons' two victories happened to be the final two NASCAR races held at the track.

1989 -- First full season that Benny Parsons was a NASCAR broadcaster for ESPN. He won an ACE Award that year as the best sports analyst.

$4,426,278 -- Career earnings for Benny Parsons during his 21-year career, ranking him 74th on the all-time list.

Parsons, 65, dies after battle with lung cancer

Parsons, 65, dies after battle with lung cancer

January 16, 2007
10:37 AM EST (15:37 GMT)

Benny Parsons, who charmed television audiences with his folksy demeanor as much as he impressed fans with his ability as a driver, died Tuesday at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte following complications from lung disease. He was 65.

The former self-proclaimed Detroit taxi driver-turned-NASCAR racer never forgot
his humble rural North Carolina roots, and it came through in every aspect of his life.

Even though he gained fame as the 1973 Winston Cup champion and winner of the 1975 Daytona 500, Parsons understood that as a broadcast analyst, it was his job to aim the spotlight away from himself.

"I heard someone say this one time and I thought it was fabulous," Parsons said. "Everyone can't be stars. Someone has to sit on the sidewalk and clap as they go by.

"We announcers on TV that talk about sports are simply the people sitting on the sidewalk clapping as the parade goes by. We are no longer the stars. The guys on the racetracks and in football and basketball games -- those are the stars."

Still Parsons was a star in his own right. He was born in 1941 in Wilkes County, N.C., but resided for much of his life in Ellerbe, just a few miles up the road from Rockingham, home of North Carolina Motor Speedway. It was there that perhaps Parsons' greatest accomplishment as a driver took place in the 1973 season finale.

Holding a slim lead over Richard Petty, Parsons' car was heavily damaged in a Lap 13 accident. However, with help from a number of different teams in the garage area, Parsons was able to get back on the track, completing enough laps to finish 28th and win the title.

Parsons' racing career came somewhat by accident. When his parents moved north to Detroit following World War II, Parsons helped work at his father's service station.

One evening in 1963, a truck towing a racecar stopped at the station for fuel. Parsons was invited to join them and hopped into the bed of the pickup on the way to nearby Mount Clemens Speedway. According to the story, when the regular driver failed to show up, Parsons volunteered to drive.

Parsons made his first visit to Daytona that same year.

"I had become a huge race fan and had been going to the races with some guys that were running the ARCA series up in the Midwest. I didn't know a soul [in Daytona], and couldn't get in the garage area," he said.

"But I would buy my infield ticket for three or four dollars -- whatever it was to come in -- and just hang on the fence and watch those cars being pushed by. I would've paid anything I had in my pocket just to push -- you know, [Fred] Lorenzen's car and Ned Jarrett's car and Fireball [Robert's] car."

The highlight of the trip, Parsons recalled, was when he met H.B. Bailey's wife in the lobby of the hotel where they were staying.

"She slipped me a pit pass, so I got in for about two hours one day," Parsons said. "It was the highlight of my life, getting inside the garage area and getting close to those racecars."

Parsons quickly made a name for himself in the Midwest racing ranks, winning ARCA rookie of the year honors in 1965, then capturing the ARCA championship in 1968 and 1969.

He made his NASCAR debut in 1964, earning $250 for a 21st-place finish after his Holman-Moody Ford began overheating.

Parsons qualified for the first of 20 Daytona 500 starts in 1969, finishing eighth in the No. 88 Ford. He would go on to run the entire 1970 season in L.G. DeWitt's No. 72, posting the first of 21 career victories at Virginia's South Boston Speedway in 1971.

When David Pearson spun out while leading with two laps remaining in the 1975 Daytona 500, Parsons was there to take the checkered flag, giving Chevrolet its first win in that race since 1960.

Parsons also became the first driver to qualify a stock car at over 200 mph when he won the pole at Talladega for the 1982 Winston 500 at a speed of 200.176 mph.

After retiring as an active driver following the 1988 season, Parsons joined ESPN as a race analyst, winning an Ace Award in 1989 and an Emmy in 1996. He moved over to NBC and TNT when those networks began NASCAR coverage in 2001.

In July, Parsons revealed that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Parsons admitted he had been a smoker but had kicked the habit nearly 30 years before.

"The first thing everyone asks me is, 'Are you a smoker?'," Parsons said at the time. "The answer is that I smoked my last cigarette way back in 1978 and since then I've hated being around smoking. I don't even allow anyone in my foursome to smoke on the golf course."

After treatment, the 65-year-old announced in October that his cancer was in full remission.

"Three months ago my family doctor called me into his office and told me I had lung cancer," Parsons said at the time. "So Rick Hendrick told me if I was going to fight cancer, you have to get [oncologist Steven A.] Limentani. He helped Rick through his leukemia 10 years ago. So we did.

"The last three months we have been battling the disease. Then Wednesday, I had a scan and [Limentani] called me Wednesday afternoon with the best news: 'The cancer is gone ... see ya.' "

However, Parsons was unable to attend the Nextel Cup Awards Ceremony in New York as the cancer treatment reportedly left his left lung too damaged to function properly, according to a report in the Charlotte Observer.

He was admitted to the hospital for the final time on Dec. 26 as his condition progressively worsened.

Parsons was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1994 and named one of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers in 1998.

Stats at a Glance
Benny Parsons' Cup career
Year Races Ws T5s T10s Poles

1964 1 0 0 0 0
1969 4 0 2 3 0
1970 45 0 12 23 1
1971 35 1 13 18 0
1972 31 0 10 19 0
1973 28 1 15 21 0
1974 30 0 11 14 0
1975 30 1 11 17 3
1976 30 2 18 23 2
1977 30 4 20 22 3
1978 30 3 15 21 2
1979 31 2 16 21 1
1980 31 3 16 21 2
1981 31 3 10 12 0
1982 23 0 10 13 3
1983 16 0 4 5 0
1984 14 1 7 10 2
1985 14 0 1 6 0
1986 16 0 2 4 1
1987 29 0 6 9 0
1988 27 0 0 1 0
Totals 526 21 199 283 20

Bill's Comment: Before I begin, my condolences go out to the entire Parsons family. Like many, I was pulling for him to overcome this. I always looked forward to when he was going to be one of the commentators for the race. Not only was his style very smooth, but he was also a teacher to the average fan, explaining in layman's terms what "tight" and "loose" meant, and also able to do a cause-effect relationship on things as what may have caused either a transmission or motor to expire. Even though he was the Cup champion in 1973 and is one of NASCAR's greatest drivers, he never was the center of attention in the booth, and made you feel very inclusive as if you were either in the booth with him or if he was in your living room.

Rest in Peace, Benny. You will be missed.

World's 1st 'Test-Tube' Baby Gives Birth

World's 1st 'Test-Tube' Baby Gives Birth

By Associated Press
Mon Jan 15, 7:14 AM

LONDON - Louise Brown, who was the world's first "test-tube" baby, has given birth to her first child.

Cameron John Mullinder was born Dec. 21 in the western English city of Bristol, reports said.

"He's tiny, just under 6 pounds, but he's perfect," the Mail on Sunday newspaper quoted her as saying. The baby was naturally conceived.

The 28-year-old married Wesley Mullinder, 37, three years ago.

Her sister, Natalie, who also was conceived through in-vitro fertilization, in 1999 became the first "test-tube" baby to give birth.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Castro reportedly in grave condition

Castro reportedly in grave condition 3 minutes ago

Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro is in "very grave" condition after three failed operations and complications from an intestinal infection, a Spanish newspaper said Tuesday.

The newspaper El Pais cited two unnamed sources from the Gregorio Maranon hospital in the Spanish capital of Madrid. The facility employs surgeon Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido, who flew to Cuba in December to treat the 80-year-old Castro.

In a report published on its Web site, El Pais said: "A grave infection in the large intestine, at least three failed operations and various complications have left the Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro, laid up with a very grave prognosis."

Cuba has released little information on Castro's condition since he temporarily ceded power in July to his brother, Defense Minister Raul Castro, until he could recover from emergency intestinal surgery, prompting much speculation and rumor in the country and around the world.

El Pais' report, which could not immediately be confirmed, was a rare detailed description from a major media outlet about Castro's condition.

The U.S. government had speculated that Castro could suffer from cancer — a supposition denied by Sabrido. Some U.S. doctors believed Castro was suffering from diverticular disease, which can cause bleeding in the lower intestine, especially in people over 60. In severe cases, emergency surgery may be required.

That idea was supported by El Pais, which reported that its sources said Castro had suffered a bout of the disease.

"In the summer, the Cuban leader bled abundantly in the intestine," El Pais reported. "This adversity led him to the operating table, according to the medical sources. His condition, moreover, was aggravated because the infection spread and caused peritonitis, the inflammation of the membrane that covers the digestive organs."

A statement attributed to Castro was released on New Year's Eve saying his recovery was "far from being a lost battle."

Cuban officials told visiting U.S. lawmakers last month that Castro does not have cancer or a terminal illness and will eventually return to public life, although it was not clear whether he would return to the same kind of absolute control as before.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.