Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Ashley, Donn - And Maurice, Barry And Robin

TigerBlog was listening to the radio the other day when he heard a voice that is instantly recognizable to anyone TB's age.

It was Casey Kasem's. If you're in TB's age range, you immediately know Kasem's voice. It was on the radio each week, doing the America's Top 40 Countdown. Oh, it also belonged to Shaggy from the "Scooby Doo" cartoons, which were way up there on TB's list of favorites, though not quite equal to "Bugs Bunny," "Foghorn Leghorn" or "Rocky and Bullwinkle."

This happens to TB every now and then. He'll turn on the radio, and the station will be replaying a countdown from one week or another, always with Casey Kasem. You now. He'll say, continuing the countdown from August of 1970 (the No. 1 song in the country at the end of the month was "The Wonder of You" by Elvis Presley), in the way that only Casey Kasem could.

The other day, TigerBlog heard not a countdown of a single week but instead the top acts of the 1970s. The one issue that TB has is he's not sure what the criteria was, but there was some sort of points system created that rewarded singles that made the Billboard charts.

Anyway, TigerBlog was pretty sure that No. 1 would be the Bee Gees, as in the Brothers Gibb - Robin, Maurice and Barry.

How could they not be No. 1? The Bees Gees sold 20 kabillion records in the 1970s and had every song they even thought about singing go to No. 1.

Seriously, if you missed the 1970s, the Bee Gees were already huge before they transitioned to their disco phase, with hits like "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart," "Nights on Broadway" and "It's Only Words."

Once they jumped to disco, though, they were as big as any group that has ever been. They won five Grammy Awards just from the "Saturday Night Fever" album, which is one of the greatest albums of all time.

At one point in 1978, the Bee Gees had the top two songs on the charts - "Night Fever" and "Stayin' Alive" - and had five of the top 10. The only other group ever to match that? The Beatles.

And then, there they were - at No. 2. What? How was that possible?

Who was No. 1? TB will give you a few paragraphs to guess.

He'll tell you that he didn't get it right. He thought it would be the Jackson 5, but they were sixth. Stevie Wonder was fifth.

TigerBlog would have guessed that if the Bees Gees weren't No. 1, then it would have to be the Carpenters, but they were No. 4. And No. 3? Paul McCartney and Wings?

With two left, TB just assumed that Robin, Maurice and Barry would be No. 1, so he was trying to figure out who else would be up there. And it was?

Elton John. Oh well. TB likes Elton John. He's a solid B+. He has five songs on TB's iTunes - "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," "Empty Garden," "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" and "Benny and the Jets."

All of them are really good, right?

Of course, the No. 1 musical act of the 1970s was Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, who didn't appear on the top 40 at all. But hey, that's another story.

TB thought the Bee Gees would be No. 1 and not No. 2. No big deal.

You know where you don't want to be? Fourth.

Not on the Top 40 countdown. At the Olympic Track and Field Trials.

That's the worst place to be. By far.

Ashley Higginson knows the feeling all too well. The Princeton alum (Class of 2011) finished fourth in the 2012 Olympic Trials in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Unfortunately, only three athletes qualify for the Olympics in each event. The fourth is the alternate - unless there's a relay, which there isn't in the steeplechase.

Higginson thought about giving up on running after that experience. And yet there she was again yesterday, in the first round of the steeplechase qualifier, from Eugene.

The 3,000-meter steeplechase is TigerBlog's favorite track event. Why wouldn't it be? It has four hurdles and a water jump on every lap. It's something a little different.

Plus, Princeton has two alums who are among the best in the world - Higginson, and Donn Cabral, who ran in his own qualifier last night as well.

Both figured to waltz, or jog, into the final yesterday, and that's exactly what happened.

Higginson went first. She was in the first of three heats for the women, something the commentators on NBC Sports Network didn't like, because it diluted the competition.

The top three in each of the three heats advanced to the final, as did the next five fastest times. Higginson and two others ran way from the field in the first heat, easily advancing to Thursday's final.

As for Cabral, he won his heat. The top five in each of the two races, plus the next four fastest, advanced, so Cabral didn't have to win. The men's final is Friday.

Cabral finished eighth in the 2012 Olympics. It's one of the greatest athletic accomplishments by a Princeton athlete TigerBlog has seen.

Cabral and Higginson took the first steps to Rio last night. The next ones won't be as easy, but the prize is a big one.

TB is rooting hard for both of them.

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