I’ll never forget what Roy Rolison taught me

Sports editor Roy Rolison in a print ad for the South Mississippi Sun in 1973, the newspaper's first year.

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

For the past seven days, I’ve spent considerable time remembering Roy Rolison, my teacher and my friend who passed away on Aug. 26 at the age of 67.

Roy was the sports editor at The South Mississippi Sun in Gulfport from 1973 to 1982, and I was a rookie sportswriter at The Daily Herald in Gulfport in 1973.

The Sun was a new morning newspaper that year and The Herald, where Roy had been a sportswriter, was a traditional afternoon newspaper. Both were owned by the same company and both operated in the same building.

The Herald newsroom was near the front of the building and The Sun newsroom was in the back, and though we worked different hours, I became friends with Roy and in 1978 he hired me as a sportswriter at The Sun.

I was just 21 when I started at the Herald and Roy was only two years older than me, though he seemed to have 200 more years of knowledge, newspaper experience and talent than I had.

His knowledge included the Gulfport-Biloxi night life. Without him, I would have never known Spider’s, T.O.’s, The Sports Page and The Fiesta. Hanging out with him kept me from being a monk.

Ham sandwiches

 My late-night memories include a 2 a.m. phone call I answered about a year after Patty and I got married. Roy called. He was across the street with some guys at Mike Tonos’ house. Tonos was a city editor at The Sun.

Roy asked for ham sandwiches and said Patty and I could bring them to Tonos’ house. I didn’t think that was funny. The call woke me up and put me in a foul mood. I said something rude to Roy and slammed the phone.

I’m surprised I wasn’t fired the next day because Roy was my boss.

Roy taught me through observational learning, even when I was at The Herald. I watched how he worked.

I read his column, Sunny Side Up. I would try to emulate his inspired writing style. One or two times, I stole a phrase from his column because it was so good.

I was also influenced by his headline writing and the way The Sun sports pages were designed.

‘Rip ‘Em Rolison and Kick ‘Em Kirkland’

When I was at The Sun, I worked with Cliff Kirkland, my longest-running friend to this day. Roy hired Cliff as a sportswriter around 1975, and Cliff became sports editor after Roy left the paper.

Roy and Cliff were the writers I wanted to be. As columnists, they were provocateurs. They would tell it like it is, to borrow from Howard Cosell, and would get a rise out of readers who disagreed with their opinions.

They became known as “Rip ‘Em Rolison” and “Kick ‘Em Kirkland.”

Scoops

Roy loved to get scoops, and he helped me get my own.

My most memorable was when I found out the name of the new Gulfport High football coach well in advance of the athletic director’s announcement of the hiring. This was in 1978.

The AD would not confirm the name, but Roy told me to go with the story with the name of the new coach.

We were right and the AD did not like that we broke his news.

At a press conference to announce the hiring, the AD said to me, “John, would you like some coffee? It’s not poison.”

Picks

We lived for covering high school and college football and the New Orleans Saints.

Pigskin Picks was one of The Sun’s most creative football features. Each week during the season, the sports staff and a guest picker would make predictions accompanied by a story that was like a comedy piece. It poked fun at the guest picker.

Tonos, who looked like Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Davey Lopes, was the guest one week and two pictures ran with the story. One showed Lopes laughing and the other showed Tonos imitating Lopes laughing. I believe this was Roy’s idea and it worked to perfection.

When I started at The Herald, I gave up my pursuit of a journalism degree because I had the job I wanted and Roy Rolison was among people who would educate me.

He was the main one. I’m forever thankful.

Editor’s note: The picture with this post shows Roy in a print ad for The Sun in November 1973. Years later, The Sun and The Herald merged to become the Sun Herald, a morning daily. I retired from the Sun Herald in March. One of my retirement gifts was a picture showing me with Roy and Cliff covering a basketball game. Cliff presented me with the picture.

My Facebook went to the dogs and it was ama-zzzzz-ing

Soft butt to lean on

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

My Facebook went to the dogs on Sunday, Sept. 3.

It was ama-zzzzz-ing.

It all started with this Facebook post about Tilly, our 4-year-old basset hound who lives, and sleeps a lot, in Gulfport, Mississippi.

I included this message with the post: “I bet our dog can outsleep your dog. Feel free to share a photo of your napper, and I’ll publish the pictures in a new blog post.”

The post was written on my blog and was shared on my own Facebook page and The Wonderful World of Basset Hounds Facebook page.

I heard from my daughter, my brother, a cousin, a cousin’s wife, old friends and new strangers.

I received more than 40 photos of great-looking dogs in funny sleeping positions, and most of the pictures included clever comments from their owners.

For this post, I embedded photos I received on my Facebook page and I made screen grabs from the basset hounds Facebook page.

Gus just “hanging out” 😂

Marco

Silk bed with Vera Bradley blanket

Maggie

We like couches and sleeping bags.

Kaiya. But she woke up for the picture.

Kaleb is a champion napper, however.

Lola

Gracie

Sally Suzi. Was heading to the couch for a snooze. She didn’t make it 🐾It was way too far.

Dakota loves to visit Grandma.

Rigby and Sadie – my lapdogs.

Boss and Beignet. Unfortunately, both have passed on.

Too many to choose from…Party Dog

As long as there is no thunder, Juliet is a champ.

As long as there is no thunder, Juliet is a champ.

Tadder and BettyJo while thunderstorm is overhead

Tadder and BettyJo while thunderstorm is overhead

Tracker Jack tracks his food bowl first and then his comfy bed.

Tracker Jack tracks his food bowl first and then his comfy bed.

Sophie has small bursts of energy between long naps.

Sophie has small bursts of energy between long naps.

Soft butt to lean on

Soft butt to lean on

Just saw this. Here’s a late addition from the owners of the house where the Filmmakers Dinner was held on Thursday before the Telluride Film Festival. Eight-year-old basset decides to take a nap while waiting for the elevator.

Maggie and her moose

Maggie and her moose

Yogi

Yogi

Mick has to have his blanky

Mick has to have his blanky

Zzzzz

Zzzzz

My Charlie

Charlie

Harland

Harland

Jasper fell asleep trying to find something educational to watch

Jasper

Napping is Fred’s favorite pastime.

Another Fred

My boy Elmer, from Bristol uk x

This is Winnie snoozing

This is Flopsy Mae

Minerva sleeping……..zzzzzzzz

And Andres, her brother, doing the same………..ssssssssss

Prince Harry loves to wrap himself up

Tracker Jack from Iowa

Priscilla from Ohio.

Gus loved to nap in any position lol

Here is my Sunshine ready for bed.

Abby fell asleep eating a bone!

Millie

Rocky from San Diego

Winnie in Alaska: “I get stuff stuck in my jowls a lot”

Beau can crash out anywhere!

Millie

Kylee Dawn and Kaitlynn Skye

Blondi

 Molly and George

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Tilly sleeps through 4th anniversary

Tilly takes a nap at 2 o'clock in the afternoon on her couch. Yes, her couch. JOHN E. BIALAS

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

Tilly  slept through her fourth anniversary, a special occasion last month for the Bialas family.

Props to Leiber and Stoller for helping me come up with this line: Tilly ain’t nothing but a hound dog, sleeping all the time.

Yep, inspired by the song “Hound Dog.”

Leiber and Stoller wrote “Hound Dog,” the Elvis Presley classic and a tune that Big Mama Thornton recorded first.  Her version dropped in 1953 and it includes the lyric “you ain’t never caught a rabbit.”

That’s true. Tilly has never been outside long enough to catch anything since she moved from Cleveland, Tennessee, to Gulfport, Mississippi, in August 2013.

She was born in May 2013 in Cleveland, and three months later, Patty and I drove there to pick her up and bring her to Gulfport.

This old Facebook post reminded me about the fourth anniversary.

A 2013 picture of Tilly as a pup taking a nap showed up last month as an On This Day memory in my Facebook feed.
A 2013 picture of Tilly as a pup taking a nap showed up last month as an On This Day memory in my Facebook feed.

It’s an embellishment to say that Tilly slept through her anniversary of being one of the few basset hounds in our neighborhood of Broadmoor, but she loves being a comforted creature.

She pretty much has her own room. She definitely has her own couch, which includes a little bed that helps keep her well-rested day and night.

The picture at the top of this post was taken at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. You would think that at that time of the day, she would be playing in her dog run or taking a walk around the block.

No way. I can’t remember the last time she took a walk. It seems like every other dog in Broadmoor enjoys walking.

Tilly’s idea of exercise is shutting her eyes.

Her favorite part of her dog run is the cot that Patty bought for her a couple of years ago. I call it a Hound Hammock, which is not a good description, because it is not a hammock. It’s low to the ground like Tilly, and she’s fine with that. It gives her room to stretch out.

The physical activity Tilly seems to enjoy most involves barking, howling and water-bowl knocking. The latter is to let us know that her water bowl is empty and she’s really thirsty and very impatient.

On occasion, she will also knock her food bowl around, but she’s on a restricted diet that prevents her from overeating. She has a special kind of dog food. No Kibbles and Bits for her and no doggie treats.

She doesn’t seem to mind. Patty treats her well, taking her to two vets. Her regular vet is in Biloxi and she has a dermatologist in Mandeville, Louisiana.

Tilly is allergic to everything, but things are under control.

Patty says Tilly is the best-tempered dog we’ve ever had, and we’ve had quite a few.

Tilly is a big ole gentle girl, 60 pounds of sweet fluffiness.

They say she is high-classed. Well, that’s not  a lie.

 

 

 

 

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What the eve of September means to you

September Eve leads to thoughts about pumpkin patches.

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

It’s the eve of September and it means a lot to you.

It means going to The Dollar Tree for autumnal designs, Halloween candy and Thanksgiving decorations.

It means rushing to Hobby Lobby in hopes of loading up on Christmas decor.

It means coming up with a list of easy dishes you can make for Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving, and you shop at Rouses for some ideas.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
On September Eve, you’re looking forward to an autumn leaf served with your ghost roast. Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

It means you are ready to rock October with haunted houses, corn mazes, scary makeup and horror movies.

It means dreaming of your first Pumpkin Latte of the season while you are in the Starbucks drive-thru.

September Eve means letters to Santa, even though The Claus isn’t thinking of you as he hits the beach for Labor Day weekend. Photo by srikanta H. U on Unsplash

It means Christmas planning and sips of hot chocolate. Letters to Santa and wish lists for family and friends.

It means you want to clean the fireplace, even though your AC might keep going full blast through Oct. 1.

You forget that you live in South Mississippi. You forget about the Labor Day weekend and the baseball and football that go with it. You want to bypass it all.

It’s Aug. 31. September eve. Almost 90 degrees, but change is coming.

Happy fall, y’all!

Editor’s note: This post’s featured photo is  by Hide Obara on Unsplash. Inspiration for this post came from 40 Holiday Blog Post Ideas by Amanda Cross, who, unlike me, is sincere about the holidays.

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This is not your father’s Hugo’s pizza

Hugo's Pizzeria in St. Louis posted this photo on its Facebook page in March. The restaurant will be opening soon, but it has no relation to the old Biloxi Hugo's except in name and the love for making pizza.

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

This is not your father’s Hugo’s pizza.

That was the message Paul Hampton sent me  last week with a link to a story about a new St. Louis restaurant that is opening soon in Midtown.

Hugo’s Pizzeria is the name and the story from Feast Magazine said “the debut menu features a variety of specialty pies including a pizza with garlic oil, mushrooms, Fontina and rosemary. Twists on traditional toppings include a variety of housemade pepperoni options including French duck, Buffalo chicken, vegan, spicy beef and a house version made with grass-fed beef.”

Paul is correct. This is not your father’s Hugo’s. In fact, it’s not your mother’s Hugo’s and it’s not your Hugo’s.

The Hugo’s that Paul and I are referencing is the old Biloxi restaurant that served straightforward Italian food and the best pizza south of Chicago. It’s one of my all-time favorite restaurants.

This was the place that began the tradition of French dressing on pizza, and the wildest toppings, if you want to call them wild, would be shrimp and anchovies. I usually went for the large sausage or meatball along with a cheeseburger po-boy, a plate of onion rings and two Barq’s.

Grass-fed was never a concept when I was introduced to the Biloxi Hugo’s during my Catholic elementary school days in the 1960s. Had it been a concept, I probably would have spit out grass-fed food. What 12-year-old in their right mind would have wanted grass in their food?

At 65, I grasp grass-fed and I’m sure the grass-fed and not grass-fed food at the St. Louis Hugo’s will be very, very good. I hope to go there someday and erase the memories of my worst pizza experience, which was in St. Louis more than 20 years ago.

Patty, Kristin and I went to a restaurant on a Saturday evening in the classic Italian neighborhood of The Hill. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, but the place was so packed we had to wait 90 minutes for a table.

I had no doubts the pizza would be great because this appeared to be a popular restaurant, but things started going downhill on The Hill when we had a very mediocre salad before our large pizza arrived.

I wish the pizza had never arrived. It was terrible. Cheap American cheese. Cheap white cheese. Wafer-thin crust. Cheap pepperoni. Pupperoni would have been preferable.

This was easily the worst pizza experience in my life. It was shockingly bad, and Patty and Kristin felt the same way.

All these years later, we’re still dealing with a form of PTSD  called Pizza Traumatic Stress Disorder. Maybe the St. Louis Hugo’s will be the cure. I know the Biloxi Hugo’s would be.

Editor’s note:  The image with this post is a photo that Hugo’s Pizzeria in St. Louis published on its Facebook page in March. The restaurant will be opening soon, but it has no relation to the old Biloxi Hugo’s except in name and the love for making pizza.

 

 

 

 

 

Walked into hot bar, walked out with cool book

The Saturn Bar on St. Claude Avenue in New Orleans hosted a book launch and reading Thursday night. JOHN E. BIALAS

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

I walked into a hot New Orleans bar around 7 p.m. Thursday and walked out around 8:30 with a cool new book.

I was among the many who packed a back room at the Saturn Bar for the launch of “The Futilitarians: Our Year of Thinking, Drinking, Grieving, and Reading.” a post-Katrina memoir by New Orleans writer Anne Gisleson.

This is her first book, and she writes about being in the Existential Crisis Reading Group and their meetings from January 2012 to December 2012.

Had I known the temperature of the back room before I got to the bar, I would have come up with my own subtitle:  “Thinking, Drinking, Grieving, Reading and Sweating. A Lot of Sweating.”

Actually, it felt nice and cool when I walked into the bar.  The AC was going in the front room, but the back room was hot.

It was sweaty hot. It was drip-from-your-forehead hot.

No matter.

I was more than happy to be there because of the presence of Octavia Books, one of my favorite Uptown stores, and my first chance to go to the Saturn Bar, a Bywater dive on St. Claude Avenue.

Octavia Books had a table in the front room to sell copies of “The Futilitarians” and I was one of the first to buy one. I had cash in hand, money left over from a trip to Colorado in July.

Gisleson and other ECRG members did an entertaining hour-long reading that included music, and before I left the bar, she signed my copy of “The Futilitarians” after my short wait in line.

Now that I’m back home in Gulfport, I believe “The Futilitarians” will be a challenging, thought-provoking and emotional experience. I look forward to reading it starting this weekend.

And I predict no sweat will be involved.

 

 

Why I thought Beatles song was about Ginger Baker

A box of Good News candy inspired the Beatles song "Savoy Truffle," written by George Harrison. This is a cropped version of a photo in Harrison's book "I, Me, Mine."

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

The South Mississippi rube that I am, I’ve always thought the Beatles song “Savoy Truffle” was about Cream drummer Ginger Baker.

“Savoy Truffle” is a George Harrison song on “The White Album,” which came out in 1968, and I got the Beatles record shortly after it was released. Sometime later, I also got an 8-track of “The White Album” and I would play it in my car.

I tried to find the original Beatles song on YouTube, but instead I came up with a nice consolation prize: Dhani Harrison, George’s son, doing a cover version.

“Savoy Truffle” is one of my favorite songs on “The White Album,” and when I was younger, I was obsessed about it. I was addicted to the sound, the lyrics and George’s singing. I would listen to the song over and over again on my record player in my bedroom and on my 8-track player when I was driving to Edgewater Mall in Biloxi.

I thought the lyrics gave clues the song was about Ginger Baker.

Creme tangerine and montelimar
A ginger sling with a pineapple heart
A coffee dessert, yes you know it’s good news
But you’ll have to have them all pulled out
After the Savoy truffle

Cool cherry cream, a nice apple tart
I feel your taste all the time we’re apart
Coconut fudge, really blows down those blues
But you’ll have to have them all pulled out
After the Savoy truffle

You might not feel it now
But when the pain cuts through
You’re going to know, and how
The sweat is going to fill your head
When it becomes too much
You shout aloud

I thought the words “Savoy truffle” were British slang for the way Ginger Baker played blues shuffle beats on his drum set.

I thought “creme tangerine” was a George Harrison reference to Baker, Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, the rock stars in Cream, the short-lived super power trio.

I thought for sure I heard “Ginger slings with a pineapple heart,” believing pineapple heart was some kind of narcotic Baker enjoyed using while playing for Cream.

And I thought “the sweat is going to fill your head” was about withdrawal from pineapple hearts.

I’ve had these thoughts since I was 16 years old. They have entertained me for 49 years.

Then last week I got the extended 2017 edition of the 1980 George Harrison book “I, Me, Mine” and it it he explains what “Savoy Truffle” is all about.

Harrison writes that the song is about Eric Clapton’s addiction to chocolate candy at the time and the cavities the guitar god got from eating too much.

“He was over at my house and I had a box of Good News chocolates on the table and wrote the song from the names inside the lid,” Harrison says.

The box included “Ginger Sling with a Pineapple Heart.”

No matter the story, Ginger Baker slings with a pineapple heart.

Editor’s note: A photo of a Good News candy box is in Harrison’s book “I, Me, Mine.” For this post, I cropped the photo and made it the featured image.

 

 

 

 

 

I turned against Jerry Lewis when I was 11

A screen grab of Jerry Lewis' IMDB page.

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

I turned against Jerry Lewis when I saw “The Nutty Professor” at a movie theater at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi in 1963, the year the film came out.

I was 11 years old at the time and months later I would enter the sixth grade at Nativity Elementary.

I was never a fan of “The Nutty Professor.” Jerry Lewis’ Nutty act was too goofy and his Joe Cool was too pompous, and the kid in me believed the latter part reflected the real Jerry. I didn’t like the real Jerry.

Give me his 1950s films and, much later, “The King of Comedy,” the 1982 Martin Scorsese work of geninus in which Rupert Pupkin stalks Jerry Langford. Those movies represent Jerry Lewis’ best.

My favorites include “The Delicate Delinquent,” “The Sad Sack,” “Rock-a-Bye Baby,” “The Geisha Boy,” “The Bellboy,” and “Cinderfella.”

All are from 1957 to 1960 and they are classic LOL comedies. A theater at a military base was usually the venue for the films because my Dad was a sergeant in the Air Force. His tours of duty took us to  Japan and the Philipines before we moved to Keesler in 1960.

We lived in base housing and our address was 5440 C Street, which was within walking distance of at least three movie theaters.

I saw a lot of movies at those theaters, and “The Nutty Professor” was a classic. It was a classic disappointment. I couldn’t handle Jerry Lewis playing two roles, one as Professor  Julius Kelp and the other as Buddy Love.

Perhaps I was too young to appreciate a man drinking a magic potion to improve his social life.

Had I been 21, maybe I would have enjoyed the premise.

After “The Nutty Professor,” Jerry Lewis had a couple of good 1960s films, one of them “The Disorderly Orderly,” but none matched the awesome entertainment he provided in the 1950s.

And don’t get me started on his Labor Day telethons. Though working for a great cause, the man was over the top and unwatchable.

I’m sorry I don’t love Jerry Lewis as much as you do, but his death brings out the contrarian in me.

 

 

 

 

Did you know it’s ‘Troglodyte’ Thursday?

'Troglodyte' is the third track on 'It's Just Begun,' The Jimmy Castor Bunch's second album.

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

Did you know it’s “Troglodyte” Thursday?

I didn’t know it until I woke up at 11:15 a.m. thinking of the song, a funky comedic tune on my mind for the first time since the 20th century.

If I’m going to think about the song all day, and I have, might as well make it “Troglodyte” Thursday. It’s certainly a throwback.

The song was released as a single in 1972. Forty-five years ago. I was 20 back then. That’s also the year I started Boogie, a rock-music fanzine I published until 1975.

“Troglodyte” was a Top 10 hit for The Jimmy Castor Bunch and I was going to write a Facebook post about it once my day got going, but I decided to make it a blog post instead because I’ve going a week without writing one.

I went to YouTube and found a televised 1973 performance.

“Troglodyte” would be great for a karaoke night on the town. Imagine millennials reciting the lyrics, dancing and dropping the mic in triumph before an appreciative club crowd.

Here are samples of the lyrics:

“Gotta find a woman, gotta find a woman, gotta find a woman, gotta find a woman.”

“This one woman just lay there, wet and frightened.
He said: Move… Move.
She got up, she was a big woman, big woman.
Her name was Bertha, Bertha Butt, she was one of the Butt sisters.”

Make “Troglodyte” Thursday a new tradition. Do it tonight if you gotta find a woman or even if you don’t have to gotta find a woman.

Do the Castor karaoke.