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Patrick Kiger

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Journalist Patrick J. Kiger tells the stories of people who make their mark in ways big and small.

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David Brenner: He Made Everyday Life Seem Funny

Posted on 03/17/2014 by | Who's News | Comments

LegacyAs a stand-up comic, David Brenner’s trademark line was “Did you ever notice … ?” Brenner, who died on March 15 at age 78 in New York City, made his living calling the myriad absurdities of everyday life to our attention — “the dumb things we say and do,” he once put it. Brenner, in fact, could get an entire routine out of, say, the frustrations that drivers experience when they have to ask for directions. Here he is, doing that …

Ready to Kiss the Penny and the Nickel Goodbye?

Posted on 03/12/2014 by | Who's News | Comments

Bulletin TodayA penny for your thoughts? Well, maybe not for long. In 2015, the U.S. Treasury Department will begin studying “alternative options for the penny and the nickel.” A big problem is that the cost of producing the lowest-denomination coins is now nearly twice their face value. According to the 2013 annual report of the U.S. Mint, a penny now costs 1.8 cents to make, and a nickel costs 9.4 cents to make. The Brookings Institution estimates that the difference costs taxpayers $1 billion …

Joe McGinniss: The Journalist As ‘Psychological Detective’

Posted on 03/11/2014 by | Who's News | Comments

LegacySome writers are myth-makers. Joe McGinniss, who died on March 10 at age 71 in Worchester, Mass., was the opposite. Whether McGinniss was writing about the repackaging of Richard Nixon in The Selling of the President 1968 or Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald in the 1983 book Fatal Vision, McGinness liked to get up close and personal with a subject, gradually peel away a carefully crafted public persona like the leaves of an artichoke. In doing so, he usually became part of the story …

Jim Lange: Host of ‘The Dating Game’

Posted on 02/27/2014 by | Who's News | Comments

LegacyA newspaper feature writer gushed in 1969 that Jim Lange, the host of The Dating Game, personified “the swinging, nattily dressed bachelor.” The description might seem amusingly quaint today, but then again, so would the show itself. During its original run from 1965 to 1973, The Dating Game — in which a “bachelorette” picked one of three prospective bachelors hidden behind a screen, or vice-versa, by asking provocative questions — was an awkward artifact of society’s evolving attitudes about sexual freedom …

Harold Ramis: A Funnyman’s Finest Moments

Posted on 02/25/2014 by | Who's News | Comments

LegacyFor many of us, Harold Ramis will always be Dr. Egon Spengler, the wild-haired, intensely serious paranormal researcher in the 1984 comedy classic Ghostbusters. With his bizarre, faux-scientific mumbo-jumbo, it was Ramis’ character who provided the perfect foil for the irreverent, semi-competent Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) and anxiously earnest Dr. Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd). But most moviegoers probably didn’t realize that Ramis, who died  on Feb. 24 at age 69 in his native Chicago, had co-written the Ghostbusters screenplay with …

Maria von Trapp: Her Family Inspired ‘The Sound of Music’

Posted on 02/24/2014 by | Who's News | Comments

LegacyIn 1938, Maria von Trapp fled the Nazi takeover of her Austrian homeland along with her father, her siblings, and her similarly named governess-turned-stepmother, Maria Kutschera von Trapp. Their adventure eventually inspired one of the most beloved film musicals in history, The Sound of Music, which made Julie Andrews (who played stepmother Maria) into a superstar. But the true story lived by von Trapp — who died on Feb. 22 at age 99 in Stowe, Vt. — was considerably different from the one depicted on …