Monday, October 16, 2017

Weasel of the Week: Sam Judge

Downtown Troy has been without a first-run movie theatre for several years, ever since the last multiplex at the Uncle Sam Atrium was converted to state offices. Just when it looked as though the drought would finally end, Bow Tie Cinemas, which would be moving into Rensselaer County for the first time, bowed out the other day. Why? Litigation.

Troy developer Sam Judge had tried and failed to fill the vacant space at Monument Square after the former City Hall building was demolished in 2011. Judge's company owns the Verizon building where city offices had relocated in 2008 until moving to their present location in Hedley Park Place on River Street. The two sides have been involved in lawsuits over the Verizon building, and now, Judge is part of a group of "influential" people along River Street who are blocking Bow Tie and Bonacio Construction from building a 11-screen multiplex that would bring fresh income to city businesses surrounding the theatre.

However, Judge and his associates don't see that. They see environmental concerns that haven't been resolved in the past five years or better, and last month, Judge filed suit against Bonacio & Bow Tie. At the end of last week, the movie theatre project was shelved, with Bow Tie & Bonacio Construction backing down and out. Judge bullied them out, is what it really is.

Instead of searching for a compromise that would make both sides happy, Judge seems content with keeping 1 Monument Square vacant, and in this writer's opinion, it's going to stay that way until Judge himself can put forth another proposal to develop the space, whenever he decides to take the chance. In this writer's opinion, Mr. Judge, you're little more than a self-serving little Weasel who's depriving the citizens of Troy of a quality, state of the art facility, and the opportunity to see a movie without having to drive to Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, or Clifton Park, to name a few examples. Shame on you, then, Mr. Judge, for putting your interests ahead of the rest of the city.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Classic Reborn (?): The Saint (2013-7)

Some 20 years ago, some alleged genius in Hollywood thought it might be a good idea to reboot The Saint in a feature film that had Leslie Charteris' modern day Robin Hood, Simon Templar, repackaged as a master of disguise who was in fact searching for who he really was. The film, with Val Kilmer as Templar, was a dud from the get-go.

Sixteen years later, a proposed pilot for a new Saint went unsold until it was released on digital DVD earlier this year, and landed on Netflix, four years after production had been completed. Adam Rayner is the latest to essay the role of Templar, and certainly could've continued had anyone bothered to take a chance.

When the film begins, Templar is in Russia, disguised as a Russian soldier, infiltrating an arms deal that the CIA had been monitoring. He spikes the vodka, serving up the world's biggest mickey, if you will. That gets him in the crosshairs of a young CIA agent, and an older agent who had been pursuing Templar for years. Flashbacks explain a previously untold and, in truth, unnecessary origin for Templar. You see, the creative personnel on the film decided to borrow some elements from more familiar sources (i.e. Batman) to explain Templar's mission in life. His parents were killed, and the family, very wealthy to begin with, were linked with the legendary Knights Templar in some form. None of this fits Charteris' original vision, but what does in the 21st century anyway?

Today's writers are obsessed with making their heroes as dark, moody, and brooding as possible, following the template of Denny O'Neil's makeover of Batman in the 70's. These writers think that because it works for certain characters, it can work for other pop culture icons such as The Saint. The truth is, it doesn't, because it falls under "if it isn't broken, you don't fix it".

On the other hand, viewers are introduced to Templar's sexy associate, Patricia Holm (Eliza Dushku, ex-Dollhouse, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), who hadn't been seen on screen since the George Sanders series of "Saint" movies in the 40's. My brother & I were discussing what needs to be done to bring other popular heroes into the present day, such as The Shadow, Doc Savage, or The Avenger, who also have teams of associates working for them, as long as it adheres to the current Hollywood obsession with cultural diversity. This film heads in that direction, but relies too heavily on Bat-influences (not just the origin), and that may explain why it didn't sell.

The film also serves as a final coda for the late Sir Roger Moore, who played Templar in the 60's, and appears briefly prior to the climax of the film. Ian Oglivy, who top-lined Return of the Saint in the 70's, is seen as well.

Let's take a look at the trailer.

It took four years for this version of The Saint to see the light of day, and that was largely in tribute to Moore, as if someone realized this film was out there, waiting to be released. Let's just hope it doesn't take another four years or more for someone else to try to get it right.

Rating: B--.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Forgotten TV: The Joe Namath Show (1969)

Today, it's common for pro athletes, as well as managers & coaches, to be given air time on radio on a weekly basis during the season, or, in some cases, year-round.

Back in 1969, it was unheard of, really, for an active player to be moonlighting in anything besides acting or making commercials.

Joe Namath was never exactly the average pro athlete.

Coming off a Super Bowl win with the Jets, the only one in the team's history, Namath somehow landed a syndication deal for a talk show that ran during the 1969 season. Dick Schaap, best known for Sport magazine and as the initial moderator for ESPN's now-defunct Sports Reporters, acted as Namath's co-host, ostensibly to keep the playboy quarterback on point. Unfortunately for Namath, his first foray into television lasted just the one season. He'd try again a few years later, this time with a sitcom, The Waverly Wonders, for NBC, and that also flopped.

A few years ago, the Classic Sports Network (now ESPN Classic) acquired 15 episodes of the series. This sample episode features Knicks star Walt "Clyde" Frazier, now better known to today's generation for shilling for Just For Men hair color, often alongside Keith Hernandez.

Namath would follow up this flop with the film, "CC & Company", before Waverly Wonders ended any hope of being taken seriously on television, and, yes, that includes his broadcasting career at NBC.

No rating.

High School Fridays: Colonie @ Troy (football), 10/13/17

In two weeks, Troy High will open its athletic Hall of Fame to induct their 1996 football championship team. I may be wrong, but Colonie coach Eric Rouleau may have been on that team and/or the 1998 squad.

Rouleau returned to Troy as a visiting coach for the first time on Friday, hoping to not only spoil Senior Night for the current Flying Horses, but also deny them the Liberty Division title, which, on tiebreakers, would've gone to Shaker.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Garnet Raiders put up the first points on a 37 yard field goal by Christian Hubbard, who was left off the Colonie roster listed on the game program.

Then, Joey Ward took over, and, oh, did he ever.

It took just 4 plays for Troy to take the lead, with Ward racing in from 20 yards out. Jordan Audi returned after missing last week's win over Shaker, booted the extra point, and Troy was off and running. The defense kept Colonie's running game in check, denying them the end zone. Ward added four more TD's, and Dev Holmes caught a TD toss from Joe Casale, plus a 2 point conversion, then really put the game away with a 65 yard run off the option. Audi finished with four extra points, and Troy routed Colonie, 48-3, to wrap up a third consecutive perfect regular season under coach Bob Burns at 7-0, and their second straight Liberty title.

Audi still wasn't able to kick off, so junior QB/kicker Michael Fazio handled those duties. For what it's worth, Holmes changed jersey numbers just for this game, wearing his brother Darius' #22 instead of his usual #8.

Colonie entered the game with the lowest points against average in the division, but that took a hit after Troy rang up 48 unanswered points. Troy, meanwhile, lowered their PAA to 9.5 points per game, while Colonie's ballooned to 15.2.

Up next for Troy will be a first round playoff game at home against Christian Brothers Academy, which dropped to 4th place in the Empire division after losing, 21-10, to Shenendehowa. Colonie visits Shen, while Shaker hosts Guilderland, and Empire champ Saratoga welcomes Bethlehem. The Eagles close the regular season later today vs. winless Schenectady. CBA nearly stole one last year at Picken Field, but the Brothers (3-4) have not been the same team they were a year ago. I don't have the brackets in front of me for the playoffs, but it all points to Troy meeting Saratoga in the title game, as they're the two undefeated teams in Class AA. This year's title game, per the Albany Times-Union, will be played at a neutral high school site on November 2, as RPI reportedly will be unable to host the game this year due to a scheduling conflict. With the turmoil between students and administration there, it's just as well.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Sports this 'n' that

We are now down to four teams in the baseball playoffs after the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs ousted Washington, 9-8, in game 5 on Thursday night. The 3rd seeded Cubs, however, must head West to play the top seeded LA Dodgers to open the NLCS on Saturday night in a rematch of last year's NLCS. Los Angeles, however, will have had four full days of rest after sweeping out Arizona on Monday.

Momentum may be on the Cubs' side for now, but do they risk sending Jake Arietta or Jon Lester back out on 2 days rest? No, I don't think so. Both pitched on Wednesday in a 5-0 game 4 loss to the Nationals. Clayton Kershaw almost certainly will be on the hill for the Dodgers to start the series, hoping to exorcise the ghosts of postseasons past once and for all. If the Cubs aren't feeling fatigued after 5 grueling games with the Nats, they will be when this is over.

Pick-Cubs in 6.

As for Washington, another 1st round loss should, by rights, spell the end for Dusty Baker in DC. He had the same problem in Cincinnati, unable to get past the 1st round, and it may be time for a change. It wouldn't surprise me if a certain spoiled brat in Washington prevailed upon GM Mike Rizzo to fire Baker, but does the President know anything about baseball?
Meanwhile, Houston is looking to reach the World Series for the first time since they were a NL club back in 2005, when they fell to the Chicago White Sox. To get there, the Astros must first deal with the Yankees. Masahiro Tanaka and Dallas Keuchel will be the starters in game 1 tonight. The Yankees' rise comes a bit ahead of schedule, and while finicky fans were calling for Joe Girardi's head after game 2 of the LDS vs. Cleveland, no one is complaining now, at least until the Astros win a game.

However, it's Houston's time, at long last. Sports bars in the home district will be filled with Yankees and Astros/Valleycats fans for every game in the series, and I do mean every game. I do know some people who are fans of both the 'Cats and the Bombers, so there'll be some conflicted souls during the series. Houston doesn't have an easy out in the lineup, while the Yanks struggled to generate some offense in some positions, like DH, for example, vs. the Indians.

Pick-Astros in 7.
The NFL has won its battle to uphold the suspension of Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott, but the case is far from over, as there could be more appeals, much like the Tom Brady case, to drag this out even further. Just let it end.

Meanwhile, the league is looking at an alternate site for Sunday's Raiders-Chargers game due to wildfires in the area. Given the Chargers' horrible luck since moving out of San Diego, this would kill the momentum after beating the Giants last week.
Troy High's soccer teams ended their regular seasons on Thursday, headed in opposite directions. The girls have lost six in a row after losing to Averill Park, 2-1, and have been outscored an unsightly 26-3 in those six losses, with all 3 goals scored by sophomore star Abby Burns, daughter of football coach Bob Burns. When sectional pairings are announced, as early as Monday, it looks like Troy will be at Bethlehem for the 2nd straight postseason.

The boys, on the other hand, snapped a 5 game winless streak (0-4-1) with a 6-1 Senior Night win over AP. Mike Murnane's club finishes the regular season 6-9-1 overall (5-9-1 in the Suburban Council), and while they too will be on the road for sectionals, at least they have momentum on their side. Senior Kevin Vargas notched another hat trick as Troy scored six unanswered goals after Averill Park drew first blood in the first half. The girls finish the regular season 2-14 (1-13 in league), the 3rd straight campaign with 10+ losses. A few breaks here and there, and maybe things are different.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Creepy TV: Buck Rogers vs. a space vampire (1979)

From season 1 of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century:

Buck (Gil Gerard) has to protect Wilma (Erin Gray) from a Vorvon, a form of vampire who drains energy from its victims. Talk about spooky.

For what it's worth, actress Patty Mahoney (ex-Far Out Space Nuts) dons Twiki's suit for this episode, sitting in for Felix Silla.

A year later, Thundarr the Barbarian took futuristic vampires to an even weirder extreme, with an alien vampire that was almost like a spider in design, and that show was set even further in the future than Buck Rogers.

Rating: A.

Musical Interlude: Call Me (1985)

No, Go West's "Call Me" was not a remake of the Blondie hit from 1980. Instead, this 1985 gem is a pastiche that includes a call-back to B-movies of the 50's, including a homage to the original "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman". I don't know what kind of look singer Peter Cox was going for with just one sideburn, though.