Archive for March, 2014

Being humble

March 30, 2014 Leave a comment

I recently chatted with a dear friend from college about humility. Wonderful guy. We don’t agree on everything, but one thing I enjoy about him is his humility.

It made me think of some of the people I’ve known who were, um, not exactly humble. It also made me think of some celebrities who also aren’t humble. We can probably imagine.

There’s nothing wrong with being self-confident or having self-respect, but when those traits aren’t kept in check and are allowed to develop cultures that fester into ego and arrogance, that’s when it gets bad.

I tell my kids that being humble allows you to be able to relax and see things objectively instead of becoming overconfident, condescending and being unable–as the saying goes–to see the forest for the trees.

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A visit with Rube Waddell

March 16, 2014 Leave a comment

A big left-hander who pitched in the Major Leagues from 1897, 1898-1910, he was 193-143 lifetime. One has to wonder what his lifetime wins-against-losses record would’ve been if he’d been a more dependable player, not given to alcoholism or to what would be considered Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder today.


Rube Waddell during his playing days.

His career earned run average of 2.16 and his 2,316 career strikeouts (six times, he led the league in strikeouts as a pitcher) are both astonishing, considering he pitched in the Deadball Era, when batters focused more on making contact with the ball and getting on base rather than trying to hit tape-measure home runs. 

The true irony of George Edward “Rube” Waddell was that he had little control over his personal behavior or his spending habits, but had excellent control of his fastballs and curveballs. Baseball managers, such as Connie Mack of the Philadelphia Athletics, tolerated Rube because, when he was on, he was close to unhittable. Unfortunately, he was also high maintenance: he’d often show up late or not at all for scheduled starts, would leave a game abruptly to follow fire engines and was easily distracted by opponents.

And, on March 16, I got to meet him.

That day my sons and I went to Mission Burial Park South to visit the final resting place of Rube Waddell. He died in a sanitarium on April 1, 1914 at 37 of complications from pneumonia. Having no money, it’s been said Waddell would’ve been buried in a pauper’s grave if not for the generosity of Mack.




A few weeks from now on April 1, 2014, it will mark the 100th anniversary of Waddell’s passing. His tombstone is an impressive large, vertical slab, about six feet tall. There is what appears to be a stone ball protruding out of the top. As I looked at the slab, weathered by time, I wondered how many people know this is the final resting place for a man who, for the first decade of the 20th century, was considered one of the top draws in Major League Baseball.

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Waddell,” I said. “I’m sorry your life ended so soon. I read about your life and it sounds like you were very fun to watch play. I don’t know what your spiritual beliefs were, but I’d love to see you in heaven someday.”

Next time I visit, I think I’ll print out a picture of Waddell, laminate it and leave it there along with a baseball.

Richard Zowie’s favorite baseball team is the Houston Astros, Like Waddell, he is also left-handed. Post comments here or e-mail them to 

Les Misérables–that’s about miserable people singing in French, right?

March 12, 2014 Leave a comment

This past weekend, I and the rest of the very talented cast at Fredericksburg Theater Company finished a three-week run of the comedy-horror musical Little Shop of Horrors. In it, I had two parts: as Customer #1 and in the Skid Row chorus.

This is the third play I’ve been in since revitalizing my hobby for acting a few years ago. When I lived in Michigan, I was Protean #2 in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and then Sam Hendrix in Wait Until Dark.

Even then, I have a lot to learn about theatrical plays. I remember googling Forum a week or two before auditions, since I had no earthly clue what it was about.

In fact, there are a lot of famous plays that I know little about. Here’s a sampling of how I’d describe them.

Death of a Salesman — I saw the TV version with Dustin Hoffman. I remember a salesman going insane, talking to himself a lot and then wrecking his car.

Les Misérables — A bunch of miserable French people. They can, however, sing pretty well.

Phantom of the Opera — A phantom wears a mask and haunts an opera. He’s bitter because his plastic surgery went horribly wrong.

Hello, Dolly! — A man who can sing very well wants very much to meet Dolly Parton.

Meet Me in St. Louis — Duh! Two people meet in St. Louis. I’m guessing, though, that catching a Cardinals game isn’t the reason why.

La Cage aux Folles — Gay men dress in drag and sing, marveling at how often final consonants are ignored in French. I remember watching something on TV where a man sings the number “I am who I am”. He proceeded to sing he didn’t “give a damn” about something, and then concluded the number by tossing his wig into the crowd and marching off the stage.

Kinky Boots — A man puts on a pair of boots that serve as a natural aphrodisiac. Other than that, all I know is Harvey Fierstein wrote it.

A Chorus Line — A bunch of people audition for a musical. They all want in very badly. They have lots of issues.

Honk! — Geese fly through the air and sing about how superior they are to ducks. (They aren’t, by the way).

The Dining Room — A family gathers for dinner and each proceeds to talk about their favorite and least-favorite dishes. The consensus is that everybody likes enchiladas but nobody likes liver and onions.

The Book of Mormon — This two-person play consists of two young men–dressed in slacks, short-sleeved dress shirts and ties–arriving on stage riding bicycles. They then proceed to read passages from the Book of Mormon and then order the doors locked: NOBODY leaves until at least half the crowd agrees to serve as a Mormon on the mission field.

Richard Zowie loves acting and being a smart aleck. He blames The Annoying Orange. Post comments here or e-mail them to