Monday, October 5, 2015

Musical Interlude: Imaginary Lover (1978)

The Atlanta Rhythm Section only had a couple of hits, and 1978's "Imaginary Lover" may be the better known of the two......

I was going to save this for Valentine's Day, but it doesn't fit the "Spook Rock" requirements, either.

2105 MLB Playoff preview, part 1

And now, all 10 spots have been filled for Major League Baseball's silly season (playoffs). Let's just take a look:

American League:

Wild Card round: Houston @ Yankees: The Astros have been the Cinderella story in the AL this season, and won the season series from the Yanks. Ex-Tri-City Valleycat Dallas Keuchel figures to get the ball Tuesday night, in the biggest game of his young career. The Bronx Bombers have turned into pop guns at the worst possible time, losing six of seven in the season's final week, including getting swept by Baltimore over the last two days.

Still, if there is any solace for the Yankees, they can forge ahead, dedicating this postseason to the memory of Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, who passed away 2 weeks ago. They won't have CC Sabathia pitching for them, however, as it has been reported that Sabathia has elected to go into alcohol rehab and forego the playoffs. Still, it's a must win for the Yankees, given the spoiled, rabid fan base in NYC, and a loss here could spell the end for Joe Girardi after 8 seasons in the Bronx. They do need to do some housecleaning in Yankee Stadium, anyway. The winner, however, gets defending AL Champ Kansas City, so a win just prolongs the inevitable.

The pick: Houston.

ALDS: Houston @ Kansas City: The last time the Royals had reached the playoffs in consecutive years was in the 70's, when Whitey Herzog was the manager, before he crossed the interstate to manage St. Louis. Houston is in for the first time as an AL Club, and last made the playoffs 10 years ago, losing in the World Series to the White Sox after upsetting Atlanta in the NLCS.  The Astros have progressed further & faster than anyone imagined, but, as the old saying goes, you have to learn to walk before you can run, and the Royals would love to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their lone World Series title in style.

The pick: Royals in 4.

Texas @ Toronto: It's been 22 years since Joe Carter led the Blue Jays to their 2nd consecutive title, upsetting Philadelphia in the process. While I personally question the logic in their July swap of veteran shortstops, sending speedy but injury prone Jose Reyes to Colorado for injury prone slugger Troy Tulowitzki, I have to say the Blue Jays fall into the walk before you can run category.

The Rangers, meanwhile, aren't too far off from their consecutive losing appearances under Ron Washington in the Fall Classic, but, like the Astros, no one expected them to get this far. Getting Josh Hamilton back from the Angels certainly was a plus, but he's not the featured star on the team anymore. However, I can't see the Rangers going any further.

The pick: Blue Jays in 5.

National League:

Wild Card round: Chicago @ Pittsburgh: Joe Maddon came to Chi-town with one goal in mind, and that was not only to get the Cubs into the post-season, but all the way to the World Series as well. The young nucleus of talent is jelling quicker than expected, and there's more where that came from. As for all the whining from Scott "Turf Builder" Boras at the start of the season in re.: Kris Bryant? Forgotten, especially if the Cubs can win it all. Maddon, Theo Epstein, et al, knew what they were doing with Bryant all along, even if the greedy but clueless Boras acted like he didn't. The Pirates are this generation's Atlanta. And so it goes.

The pick: Cubs.

NLDS: Cubs @ Cardinals: There are, I think, some people who'd like to see a rematch of the '85 Series between the Royals & Cardinals, but it isn't going to happen. Yes, St. Louis gets Adam Wainwright back in time for the playoffs, but that isn't going to be enough. Jake Arietta looks more like a Cy Young winner than the Dodgers' 2-headed monster (see below). The Cardinals may not have All-Star catcher Yadier Molina, and that might be a big difference.

The pick: Cubs in 5.

Mets @ Dodgers: Like the Yankees, the Mets backpedaled into the playoffs, losing 5 of their final 6, and their offense has gone back to June swoon mode at the wrong time. They need to wake up the bats to back up the pitching, especially knowing that Clayton Kershaw & Zack Greinke await this weekend in LA. Yes, the Mets won the season series, 4-3, and that was before the roster makeover at the end of July. One of those summer pick-ups, however, may not be available, as Juan Uribe missed the better part of the last week with an injury, reducing the Mets' bench & infield depth considerably. Terry Collins has waited his entire managerial career to reach the playoffs, and has the horses to ride the series to the limit. The idea is to make sure Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and either Bartolo Colon or Steven Matz can go at least six, then turn it over to the bullpen. The Dodgers are going to wish they never let Dee Gordon go......

The pick: Mets in 5.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Creepy TV: Topper (1953)

It is one of the first fantasy-coms, a sub-genre that didn't really take off until a decade after it ended, but you'd think there'd be more interest in Topper this time of year.

A reboot of the movie of the same name, Topper tells the tale of Cosmo Topper (Leo G. Carroll), who has bought the house once owned by the late George & Marion Kerby (Robert Sterling & Anne Jeffreys). In the movie, the Kerbys' ghosts came into play when Topper bought George's car.

Topper lasted two seasons, and spent some time in syndication in the 70's. I recall seeing reruns on WOR in New York, usually as filler if a Mets game or a movie ended early. I used to believe this came from Screen Gems, which would be one of the leaders in fantasy-coms, producing a slew of them in the 60's and 70's. However, the series and the movie both came from Hal Roach's studio. Go figure.

Internet Archive serves up a sample episode, "George's Old Flame":

13 years later, 20th Century Fox adapted one of their films into a sitcom that also lasted two seasons. Chances are, though, that despite Topper being remade as a TV-movie in the 70's with Kate Jackson, most folks might remember The Ghost & Mrs. Muir more.

Rating: B-.

Forgotten TV: A. K. A. Pablo (1984)

The 70's saw a resurgence in prominent roles for African Americans. It also saw the first sitcoms built around Hispanic Americans. NBC's Chico & The Man, with the late Freddie Prinze, was a hit. Popi, with Hector Elizondo, was a flop.

8 years after Popi, Elizondo returned, this time in a supporting role, in Norman Lear's A. K. A. Pablo, which was built then-up-&-coming Hispanic-American comic Paul Rodriguez. Unfortunately, like Popi, Pablo was a ratings failure, and lasted barely a month in the spring of 1984.

Joe Santos (ex-The Rockford Files) and a pre-Saved by the Bell Mario Lopez co-starred. Never saw the show, so there's no rating. We'll leave you with the open, supplied by Gilmore Box.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

On The Air: Minority Report (2015)

Earlier this morning, I was looking to get caught up with season 2 of Gotham. Time Warner Cable and Fox were being sneaky and coupled the season's 1st episode with the series premiere of Minority Report, the 2nd adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel, which was first made into a movie with Tom Cruise more than a decade ago. Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment hasn't produced a primetime series in years, but is back in the game in conjunction with Paramount & 20th Century Fox to produce this series.

So, I got about 5 minutes or so into the opener before I decided I could take no more. Too depressing. See for yourself.

I never saw the movie, not that I'd ever be interested in it anyway. For this, Fox moved Sleepy Hollow to Thursday nights? I'll lay odds both of these shows won't survive the season.

Rating: D.

Musical Interlude: Bubba Hyde (1995)

The country group Diamond Rio has a link to the home district. Drummer Brian Prout is one of those rare birds that made it to the big time from the hometown.

In the winter of 1995, Diamond Rio served up their Nashville-tinged answer to Men at Work's 1982 track, "Dr. Hekyll & Mr. Jive", but instead of parodying or paying homage to Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, as Men at Work did, "Bubba Hyde" has more in common with Jerry Lewis' "The Nutty Professor", to a point. Jim J. Bullock (ex-Too Close For Comfort, ALF, Hollywood Squares) is a bumbling supermarket clerk by day, party animal on the weekends.

Friday Night Lights: Averill Park @ Troy High, 10/2/15

It was Senior Night at Troy High on Friday night, with Averill Park High in town. Last year, at Averill Park, the Flying Horses escaped with a 14-13 verdict. However, it's a different team, a different coach, and a different philosophy. And that was enough.

However, if Troy has an Achilles' heel, it was exposed in their inability to contain Warrior QB's Tim Vermilya and Ryan Long, a pair of read-option QB's who shouldered most of the offensive load for Averill Park. Vermilya had the longest run of the game for the Warriors, 52 yards in the 1st quarter, on the opening possession. Unfortunately, the Warriors fumbled close to the goal, and Troy recovered in the end zone for a touchback. Troy's bend-but-don't-break defense had held, and would hold fast for most of the night. In all, Averill Park turned the ball over 6 times (2 fumbles, 2 interceptions, 2 on downs), and lost Vermilya for the night, if not the season, late in the 2nd quarter. I heard two different accounts. One fan said that he thought Vermilya might've been concussed, and was held out as a precaution. The parent of a Troy player, however, said Vermilya broke his arm. As of this writing, insufficient information had been reported to the local papers, so one can only speculate.

And, so, it was Long who directed the Averill Park offense in the 2nd half, and led them to their only score, as Antoneo Serrano-Cicero found the end zone late in the 3rd quarter. By then, however, the game had already been decided.

Senior running back Damani Soares ran for 131 yards and 3 touchdowns, and added a TD catch from John Germinerio for good measure. On Senior Night, the offense was spread around, as Germinerio, a junior, added a TD toss to Tavon Moore. On the first play of the 4th quarter, Dev Holmes put the game away with a 56 yard run. Randy Jefferson put the icing on the cake one possession later to make the final tally 51-7.

With the home portion of the schedule over, Troy finishes on the road in the Schenectady area with games against Mohonasen next week, and Niskayuna. If Troy can run the table, they assure themselves of a home playoff game in 3 weeks.