Wednesday, March 31, 2010

On DVD: The Greatest Adventure: Stories From the Bible: The Easter Story (1989)

With Easter being this weekend, I thought I'd pull out this direct-to-video offering from Hanna-Barbera (now distributed through Warner Bros.) that I picked up for mere chump change some months back.

"The Easter Story" is the final episode of the Greatest Adventure: Stories From the Bible series, which H-B produced between 1985 and 1989. As it is explained in the opening, a pair of college students and a Middle Eastern youth fall through a hidden trap door in the sand and into a dark cavern which holds a doorway through time. In "The Easter Story", the trio--Margo, Derek, & Moki--meet the apostle Mark (Richard Thomas, ex-The Waltons) who tells them the tale of the Last Supper, and the subsequent betrayal & crucifixion of Jesus (Joe Spano, ex-Hill Street Blues), followed by His resurrection. It's a hard enough task to compress everything into 30 minutes, especially considering that the Pharisees are portrayed as typical cartoon villains, which they really shouldn't be. It suggests, then, that Greatest Adventure could've been marketed as a syndicated series aimed at the Sunday School audience, but H-B couldn't find any takers, hence the DTV format, resulting in 13 episodes released over the course of 8 years.

It would've made more sense, since it ended up as a DTV series, that each episode could've been expanded, but remember, too, that it was launched during an era where continuity from one episode to another was only just being accepted in animated series (i.e. G. I. Joe, He-Man), so it would've presented another challenge.

Grade: B.

Edit: 4/11/14: Here's "The Easter Story":




On DVD: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1955)

One of the first television series imported from England featured one of its most beloved folk heroes, Robin Hood.

Nearly 20 years after the feature film with Errol Flynn in the title role, The Adventures of Robin Hood (alternately known as Adventures in Sherwood Forest) introduced the outlaw and his Merry Men to a new generation of fans. The series lasted 4 years, and in those days, a season (or series, as they call them in the UK) entailed anywhere from 30-40 episodes, as opposed to the standard 13-24 of today's television.

The single disc volume I have from Alpha Video has 4 episodes, all standard issue fare. Downside to this disc is the abrupt freeze-frame while a character is still speaking. It only lasts mere seconds, but it is a distraction.

As Robin, Richard Greene is excellent, but I fail to recall if he was able to follow up on his success in this series. I had sampled one episode on an earlier compilation of Christmas shows (much better condition, I might add), and I wished that this disc was of better quality. Robin Hood currently airs daily on Retro (check your local listings), and previously was available on another digital sub-channel, the Variety Channel.

20 years later, Robin returned, but this time, it was played for laughs in Mel Brooks' When Things Were Rotten. Apparently, coming so soon after a pair of animated adaptations cast Robin & the Merry Men as funny animals (Disney's "Robin Hood" and Hanna-Barbera's "Robin Hoodnik" for the ABC Saturday Superstar Movie), fans of Robin preferred the more traditional model, didn't get it, and turned away in droves, despite the excellent ensemble cast, including Dick Gautier as Robin and Misty Rowe (Hee Haw) as Maid Marion.

Rating for The Adventures of Robin Hood: A-.

Edit: 4/11/14: Here's the episode, "The Blackbird":

Monday, March 29, 2010

On DVD: WWE History of the Intercontinental Championship (2008)

I was given this as a Christmas present, but I only got around to playing this DVD set in the last week. Appropriate, considering the present state of WWE and the general neglect of the Intercontinental title.

As host Todd Grisham (Friday Night Smackdown) explains, the IC championship was the fusion of the North American & South American championships. As most fans know, however, the tournament to crown the first IC champ never really took place. In truth, the company decided to entrust Pat Patterson as the first champion in a boardroom decision.

The first match features Patterson against a then-babyface Ted DiBiase, whom Patterson defeated to win the North American title in the first place. Patterson out-cheated DiBiase to retain, but, inexplicably, Patterson would return as a babyface himself in the very next match, helping break up a post-match brawl between Pedro Morales and Olympic strongman Ken Patera. Patterson would later move to the broadcast booth, and then to the front office before being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in the late 90's.

There are some classic matches in the 3-disc package, some of which I'd already seen, including the legendary Wrestlemania 3 match between "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Rick Steamboat, Steamboat's subsequent screwjob loss to the Honky Tonk Man, and Honky's later dismantling at the hands of the Ultimate Warrior at Summerslam over a year later.

The upside: Lots of memories came rushing back, mostly because I'd seen some of these bouts, including the majority of the matches on disc 3, before.

The downside: No commentaries from former champions, which would've enhanced the product. Also, in the course of the two Bret Hart matches on disc 2, a Russian Legsweep is miscalled as a neckbreaker. Coincidentally, Vince McMahon was the play-by-play man in one of those bouts. Grisham looked like such a tool in the course of this presentation. A number of past champions, including the late Kerry Von Erich, were left out, save for a token picture included in the fold-out attached to the back cover.

I have been hesitant to invest in WWE DVDs in the past myself, and I see no reason to change that after this. Grade---B.

Dick Giordano (1932-2010)

Comics fans are in mourning over the passing of former DC, Marvel, & Charlton comics artist and editor (with DC) Dick Giordano on Saturday at 77.

While I obtained most of the information from Diversions of the Groovy Kind, the initial alert came from a pen-pal of mine in Long Island who sent me an e-mail. Unfortunately, this poor soul didn't get the name right, and said it was someone named Don Genaro. You see, the pen pal has a learning disability, but that's another story for another time.

Back to Giordano for a moment. Dick began his career at Charlton in the 60's, where he oversaw the development of their "Action Hero" line, which included Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, & the Question. Giordano came to DC initially in 1968, working on a number of books including Batman, Witching Hour, and Wonder Woman. Giordano left in the early 70's in a dispute over editorial opportunities, and went to Marvel, where he drew the Sons of the Tiger feature in the Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu magazine. Giordano returned to DC as managing editor and artist in the 80's, inking the vast majority of covers. Giordano also authored a monthly editorial page, "Meanwhile....", which became DC's answer to Marvel's Bullpen Bulletins page, and signed off with the gentle tag line, "Thank you and good afternoon", which was very classy.

Thank you, Dick, for the wonderful memories. You will be missed.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Wrestlemania 26 predictions

Wrestlemania, the WWE's spring spectacular, lands at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, on Sunday. The 26th annual edition may in fact be the best pay-per-view WWE will offer in 2010, who knows? Let's take a look at the card.

Monday Night Raw matches:

WWE title: David Batista (champion) vs. John Cena. This actually ties into another match on the card. You see, at last month's Elimination Chamber show, Cena won the WWE title, but didn't get the chance to savor the moment. WWE Chairman-CEO Vince McMahon decided right then and there to have Batista challenge Cena for the title. This was a bizarre redux of the 2006 New Year's Revolution card in which Edge cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase after Cena scored his only other victory in the Elimination Chamber. Sure enough, Cena was easy pickings for Batista, and this was done solely because Cena had cast his lot with Bret "Hitman" Hart. We know McMahon is certifiably insane, but apparently he either doesn't realize it or doesn't care. His loss. McMahon won't or shouldn't be a factor here, assuming his match goes on before this one. The pick----Cena.

Vince McMahon vs. Bret Hart. Even though Slim Jim is the sponsor for the entire show, I'm shocked McMahon didn't arrange for Dannon yogurt or Geritol to sponsor his match. This is a no-holds-barred brawl that figures to include Cena & Batista, to set up their match later in the show. One truism that will hold for sure is that McMahon NEVER wins at Wrestlemania (0-3 as a wrestler), and this won't be an exception. I see Cena putting McMahon through a table to set up Hart applying the Sharpshooter to make the insane executive tap out. The pick----Hart.

Triple H vs. Sheamus. Last month, Sheamus lost the WWE title in the Elimination Chamber, which was a typical McMahon curveball to fool the internet fans who thought they had it all figured. It was Triple H who eliminated Sheamus, ending his 2 month run, so the Irishman is looking for revenge. Here, relative youth (Sheamus is in his early 30's) will be served. The pick----Sheamus.

Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Ted DiBiase, Jr.. Legacy, once a trio, is now down to the former 2-time tag team champs, Rhodes & DiBiase. For some strange reason, the creative team would like you to forget about those tag title runs, or so it would seem. Based on the comments Rhodes & DiBiase made on Monday, this will be the final break of the faction, as these two may turn on each other in the heat of battle. Since Ted's father, Ted, Sr. (the Million Dollar Man) is going into the Hall of Fame, I'd say he'd have to be considered a favorite to win this one. Most pundits, however, favor Orton, feeling he can't lose two years in a row. The pick---DiBiase.

Friday Night Smackdown matches:

WWE World title: Chris Jericho (champion) vs. Edge. One tends to forget that these two were tag team partners last summer, before Edge was sidelined with a torn Achilles' tendon. Edge returned at the Royal Rumble in January, and made no secret of who was his target once he won the Rumble. Jericho won the World title at Elimination Chamber thanks to an assist from an unlikely source---Shawn Michaels. Since then, Edge has gotten the better of Jericho at almost every turn. Jericho's first reign as (undisputed) champion came to a crashing end 8 years ago in Toronto at Wrestlemania 18, and some think he may lose again. I'm not one of those people. I'm expecting some sort of screwy finish here, to set up a rematch at Extreme Rules on April 25. The pick---Jericho.

Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk. It's amazing how Punk has gone from beloved hero to despised arch-villain in the last year. Transformed into a Charles Manson like cult leader as the head of the Straight Edge Society, Punk has become a polarizing figure on Smackdown over the last 9 months. If he wins, he adds Mysterio to his little group, but I think Rey's been through that before (The Latino World Order in WCW comes to mind rather quickly), and I don't think it's going to end up that way, not with Rey needing time off for knee surgery yet again. The repackaging of Punk, in this writer's opinion, judging from his current look, is just another example of McMahon's twisted sense of humor in the face of religion. Punk, you see, is supposedly meant to resemble Jesus. We've got enough lunatics in the real world that adopt that kind of look, and if that's what McMahon was after with Punk, well, it does prove he's nuts, doesn't it? The pick---Mysterio.

Interbrand matches:

Money in the Bank: This year, they're doing a pay per view built around this ladder match, so this may be the last MITB at Wrestlemania after 6 years. The field:

From Raw: Christian, Evan Bourne, Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger, Montel Vontavious Porter.
From Smackdown: Matt Hardy, Kane, Shelton Benjamin, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre.

McIntyre, McMahon's newest "golden child", needed three opportunities to qualify, which speaks more to McMahon's overall insanity than the devaluation of the current Intercontinental champion (McIntyre). They neglect to tell you that this is really the Scotsman's 2nd go-round with the big club (he was up for a few months in 2007), but the time spent in developmental has helped McIntyre greatly. They'll still need to call air traffic control, with MITB vets Kane, Hardy, Christian, & Benjamin, plus Bourne, Kingston, & Ziggler, flying all over the joint. At least they don't have to worry about concrete this time. With rumors that the briefcase could be cashed in at the end of the night, which would help set up the MITB PPV in July, we have to go with the presumptive favorite here. The pick---McIntyre.

WWE Unified tag titles: Big Show & Mike "The Miz" Mizanin (champions) vs. John Morrison & R-Truth.

A year ago, Morrison & Mizanin were the tag champs going into a unification match with the Colons (Primo & Carlito), but the bout was moved to the pre-show, and the Colons became the champs. "ShoMiz" won the titles from D-Generation X on Raw last month, so it's too soon for a title change. The pick---"ShoMiz".

Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker. As noted earlier, Michaels cost Undertaker the World title at Elimination Chamber last month, bent on getting his rematch with the "Dead Man". However, the "HeartBreak Kid" is putting his career on the line. Last year's bout was voted the match of the year on the Slammy Award edition of Raw back in December, so these two are being asked to top it. Tough chore, but if any two people could, it's these two vested veterans. As William Shakespeare wrote, many years ago, all good things must come to an end, so.......The pick----Michaels.

Women's tag match: Gail Kim, Kelly Kelly, Eve Torres, Mickie James, & Beth Phoenix vs. Simply Flawless (Michelle McCool, Layla El, & Vickie Guerrero), Alicia Fox, & Maryse Ouellette. Instead of making this an interbrand match, Raw vs. Smackdown, for the sake of brand supremacy, McMahon and his creative staff decided that the "official consultant" to Smackdown, Vickie Guerrero, would be in this match instead of either Serena, Natalya, or Tiffany. However, if Mickie James, recovering from a staph infection, has to be scratched at the last minute, that would allow Tiffany or Natalya to step in. Smackdown's diva pool has gotten so unbalanced of late, it isn't funny, and they're pushing Guerrero, widow of the late Eddie Guerrero, even harder than ever. She's a heat leech, which makes her inclusion in Simply Flawless even more puzzling. Vickie has no skills as a wrestler, not learning thing one from Eddie, it would seem. In other words, Vince is treating this match like last year's Miss Wrestlemania battle royal, as a joke, an insult to every woman who's ever competed in the WWE or elsewhere. They really need to get a room ready for the old man at Bellevue, and he can take Guerrero with him. With the Women's champ (McCool) and the Divas champ (Maryse) on the same team, their respective challengers need to win this to gain some momentum for future title matches. The pick---Gail Kim, Kelly Kelly, Eve Torres, Mickie James, & Beth Phoenix.

The next challenge, of course, would be to build on the momentum from the big dance with television programming for the next month. An even bigger one, though, is getting rid of McMahon, but as I've noted before, he won't allow himself to be exposed as weak to the point of being forced out. That's where his gigantic ego gets in the way. For the sake of the company's future, McMahon must do the right thing and step away, once and for all.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Robert Culp (1930-2010)

It has just come to my attention regarding the passing of actor Robert Culp at 79. Culp fell while walking yesterday, but no one's sure as of press time if the fall was a collapse as a result of a heart attack.

Culp's first starring role was in the Western, Trackdown, spun off from Zane Grey Theatre, and would later have a spin-off of its own in Steve McQueen's Wanted: Dead or Alive. It was the groundbreaking spy series I Spy that elevated Culp to icon status, however. Culp co-starred with Bill Cosby as secret agents, and while Cosby won Emmy awards in each of the series' 3 seasons (1965-68), beating out his co-star, Culp earned one for writing. Culp had written seven episodes of the series and directed at least one.

After several turns on the guest-star merry-go-round, Culp landed another iconic role, as FBI agent Bill Maxwell, opposite William Katt in The Greatest American Hero (1981-83). He'd also reunite with Cosby by making a guest appearance on The Cosby Show.

The most unlikely role Culp ever took, in this writer's opinion, was that of the narrator in a music video for one of Eminem's early singles, "Guilty Conscience", a rap battle duet with Dr. Dre. Culp only appeared in the video, as someone else was the narrator on the actual track, but perhaps didn't have enough of a telegenic presence to translate to the video, hence Culp being hired to fill the role in the clip.

I Spy currently airs on Retro, but I don't know if anyone is currently running Greatest American Hero anywhere.

Rest in peace, Robert. You will be missed.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The War of Complacency---Week 3

TNA needed to score big with its fans coming out of their Destination X pay-per-view, but could it finally put a dent in Monday Night Raw?

TNA Impact remained in Orlando, and opened with an oddity. Eric Bischoff playing guitar. This was an obvious reference to Jeff Jarrett's weapon of choice over the last 15 years. Bischoff played a simple instrumental piece which sounded in part like it was derived from Mason Williams' 60's classic, "Classical Gas". He then cut a promo on Jarrett, deriding Jarrett's first run in the WWE back in the mid-90's, when Jarrett tried to pass himself off as a country singer. Jarrett ultimately came out and tried to be the better man about it, to the point of declining Bischoff's offer and heading back up the ramp. Bischoff ripped into Jarrett's family. Bad move. Jarrett raced back into the ring, and plastered Bischoff with the guitar.

On the heels of getting his head shaved by Mick Foley last week, Bischoff decided to have Foley vs. Jarrett later, with the loser being "fired", and the winner having to endure more humiliation from Bischoff.

In San Jose, Raw opened with Shawn Michaels cutting a promo on Undertaker in the wake of showing up on Friday Night Smackdown after Undertaker defeated Drew McIntyre and serving up a superkick to the "Dead Man". Guest host du jour Pete Rose, entering to the beat of Fox's baseball theme music, put Michaels in a match vs. Kane for later. Michaels would weather the Undertaker's sudden appearance and go on to beat the Big Red Machine, who'd then pay Rose a visit near the end of the show.

James Storm & Robert Roode, collectively known as Beer Money, Inc., were assigned as the guest referees for Foley vs. Jarrett, and while they've had their issues with both combatants, they called the match down the middle, as Jarrett ended his personal losing streak by sending Foley "away", but I wouldn't count on this lasting. TNA rarely makes any of their stipulations stand up because of the inconsistencies in their booking. On his way out, Foley did a favor for fans everywhere by decking radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge when the neophyte reporter tried to 1) do a post-match interview with Foley and 2) failing that, insulting the former WWE & TNA champion. Beer Money would attack Jarrett after the match, only to have Rob Van Dam & Jeff Hardy ride to the rescue, setting up the main event.

Back in California, Kofi Kingston became the 10th and final qualifier for the Money in the Bank ladder match at Wrestlemania by defeating Vladimir Kozlov in the Russian's 1st official match since moving to Raw. Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase, Jr., & Sheamus defeated Triple H & Randy Orton, with the latter pair teaming for the first time in nearly 6 years, given all the bad blood between them in the last year. Current champ Dave Batista decided to have some "rent-a-cops" surround him for a show-ending confrontation with John Cena. Major waste of time.

In Orlando, Hardy & Van Dam defeated Beer Money, as the 3-time former champions fell for the 2nd straight night. Current tag champs Matt Morgan & the mono-monickered Hernandez never got their match started and Hernandez was stretchered out after eating a Carbon Footprint (bicycle kick) from Morgan against the ringpost. Morgan will find a new partner and end up losing the belts in short order, you watch & see. Abyss & Hulk Hogan did an interview, interrupted by TNA champ AJ Styles, who clearly was pretending to be injured, as manager Ric Flair was in a wheelchair, the result of last week's chokeslam on the ramp. Sting appeared, and the next thing ya know, Hogan was handcuffed to the ropes while Styles had his way with Abyss. Pope D'Angelo Dinero (Elijah Burke to WWE fans) made the save, as the build begins for next month's Lockdown event. Team Flair was embarassed again!

So who won the night? The ratings will say WWE wins again, I'm almost certain of that, but the main event was what TNA needed to make an impact, and once again sent the fans home happy. The challenge now is that TNA needs to maintain consistent booking in their programming. They are building toward Bischoff & Hogan feuding, once Hogan catches wind of Bischoff's underhanded tactics. That will be something to see if they go in that path before the end of the summer. Once that's done, then the best thing they can do is send Bischoff & Hogan to the front office and leave them there.

The same goes for WWE. Vince McMahon claims he'll screw Bret Hart again at Wrestlemania, but I don't see it. McMahon never wins at the big dance, so what makes him think this will be any different? This is where the feud, for once, has to end. It cannot be extended any further, regardless of what McMahon thinks, because if he decides to follow that tired course, he's handing TNA ratings points on a silver platter. Now is the time for McMahon to finally concede that he isn't the creative genius he once was, and he must hand the reins of the company over to his daughter, Stephanie, with no turning back. It's the way it has to be. No excuses. No if's, and's or but's. He's gotten too predictable, and right now, predictability is a liability in both companies. Where's the drama if you can guess what either side is going to do?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Weasel of the Week: "John Doe"

On March 14, a 16 year old boy somehow was able to get on the public address system at a Walmart store in New Jersey, and announced that all African-American customers had to leave. It took police 5 days to finally arrest the kid, charging him with harassment and bias intimidation, then released him into the custody of his parents. Citing his juvenile status, the kid's identity is being kept confidential.

And that is a mistake that only compounds the situation.

Let's assume that whomever was in charge of the PA was called away for a moment or three. That would be long enough for our "John Doe" to get to the PA and make his announcement. What likely led to his arrest was a brazen, arrogant error of judgment on the part of "Doe" by returning to the scene of the crime. Walmart employees probably recognized him, called the cops, and he was picked up.

Realistically, I can't see him hiding behind juvenile laws here. This was a far more serious offense than just tagging a store wall with graffiti or vandalizing the local Salvation Army, for example. This brat is adversely affecting the lives of a number of innocent people with his asinine, immature antics. I say, he has to be tried as an adult, so that he learns first hand the severity of his actions. Who's to say he didn't spend the last 5 days bragging about his little stunt to pals at school? What if that was what got him busted?

If they want to keep this kid's name out of the papers, there's only one realistic solution here, and that is to immediately assign him to a sensitivity training course, especially if there's one available at his school. If he completes the course, he can have this expunged from his permanent record, but that doesn't guarantee he'll have completely learned his lesson. Who's to say he doesn't do something this stupid again? One thing's certain, and it's the weasel ears this punk will wear as a result of his fool's folly.

For once, the minority got it right

When the final buzzer sounded Friday afternoon in Spokane, Washington, it no longer mattered that the Siena College Saints were the reigning 3-time Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) basketball champions. It no longer mattered that they had been a trendy pick to pull off a first round upset for the third straight year, so much so that President Obama included them in his bracket. What mattered was that the Purdue Boilermakers, out of the Big 10, justified the faith of their fans and themselves.

All week long, one of the key issues was that Purdue was missing its star, Robbie Hummel, lost for the season when he blew out his knee last month. However, that was negated when Siena's Clarence Jackson was held out with an ankle injury. Siena had gotten to the 2nd round in each of their previous NCAA tournament appearances. They beat another Big 10 team, Ohio State, last year, and in 2008, they blew away Vanderbilt, from the SouthEastern Conference (SEC). This time, though, it was Siena who was on the verge of being blown out. Keaton Clark hit a pair of 3-pointers to start the 2nd half, propelling Purdue to a 20-5 run. Down by as much as 15, Siena ended up losing, 72-64. They made it exciting, going on a 10-0 run of their own late, but Purdue, well aware of the reputation the Saints had garnered the last couple of years, held in the waning moments.

Most of the TV analysts & pundits had Siena pencilled in for a 2nd round meeting with Texas A & M, out of the Big 12. New York Daily News college sports columnist Dick Weiss had Siena as one of the three things he was sure of on Friday. To say that the Saints' bandwagon had been filled to capacity would be an understatement. They weren't the only team the upstate region was rooting for, of course, not with Syracuse also in the tournament, and let's not forget emerging star Jimmer Fredette, from Glens Falls, now the leading scorer for Brigham Young University, who torched Florida for 37 points on Thursday.

The season, however, may not be over for the Saints' faithful. Former Siena star Kenny Hasbrouck signed a 10-day contract with the NBA's Miami Heat, but as of press time, he hadn't seen any game action. Here's to hoping Hasbrouck does get to play, which would make him the first Siena player to ever appear in an NBA game. As for the current Saints, they will still be able to defend the MAAC title next season, their home winning streak at Times-Union Center now at 38 in a row and counting. Will they make it 4 NCAA appearances in a row? We'll know for sure in a year's time. For the most devout of fans, next year just can't come soon enough.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fess Parker (1924-2010)

The man who launched a zillion coonskin caps in the 50's, Fess Parker, passed away earlier today as a result of natural causes at 85.

Parker shot to iconic status in the 50's in Walt Disney's adaptation of Davy Crockett on the Disneyland anthology series, discovered by the Disney studio after appearing in a bit part in the sci-fi film, "Them!". Disney executives were looking at signing James Arness (Gunsmoke) to play Crockett, but Parker's performance convinced them that he was the man they were looking for after all.

After appearing in a number of films for Disney, most prominently "Old Yeller", Parker went back to television, starring in a short-lived series version of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington in 1962 before returning to the untamed frontier as pioneer Daniel Boone (1964-1970). Parker, I have learned, turned down the title role in McCloud (which went to Dennis Weaver) and retired from acting after a self-titled sitcom pilot failed to sell in 1974.

Daniel Boone currently airs on the Retro Television Network (check local listings), and I am not sure if any other cable network holds the rights. I'd like to think Retro could break from format and do a tribute marathon for Parker, but I highly doubt it. I'd be surprised if they actually did it.

While most people know that soap actor Bill Hayes (Days of Our Lives) recorded the definitive version of the Davy Crockett theme, Parker recorded his own version, having sung for Walt Disney at an audition.

Rest in peace, Fess. Now you'll get to meet Daniel & Davy in Heaven.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A precedent avoided

A few weeks ago, the New York State Senate voted to expel Hiram Monserrate after he'd been arrested on a misdemeanor charge for assaulting his girlfriend late last year. Monserrate, arguing that because it wasn't a felony, the Senate had no right to remove him, ran in a special election today to try to win back his seat. Well, we'll give him points for taking this path, but the tide of public opinion is still against him, as Monserrate was soundly defeated by Jose Peralta.

Had Monserrate succeeded, it would've set a dubious precedent that would allow other disgraced politicos a second chance in various offices. Not the sort of thing they need at the state Capitol right now, don't you think?

All they need now is a building.....

I refer to the WWE Hall of Fame. It has become an annual tradition around Wrestlemania in recent years for Vince McMahon to recognize the accomplishments of not only his own former employees, but people who never worked a nano-second for him. Unfortunately, unlike the Halls of Fame for baseball, basketball, and even the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, McMahon hasn't yet gotten the inspiration or initiative to build an actual Hall of Fame building for his shrine, perhaps thinking he doesn't need one, but in the minds of many, they won't accept his Hall of Fame as legitimate until he does.

Pro wrestling does have a Hall of Fame here in upstate New York, but they forego the pomp & circumstance and attendant publicity is minimal. I'm not sure they'd ever induct McMahon, if they haven't already.

The WWE's Hall of Fame class of 2010 is taking shape, with the induction gala scheduled for March 27 in Phoenix. The inductees:

Antonio Inoki: The Japanese legend is best remembered here in the United States for his famous boxer vs. wrestler bout with Muhammad Ali in 1976, which went to a draw (predictably).

Gorgeous George: The "Sensation of the Nation" was the first wrestler to become a national television star, and one would've thought George would've already been in this Hall, but his is a welcome inclusion.

Wendi Richter: 80's fans will remember her two title runs and her association with singer Cyndi Lauper. Richter fell out of favor with McMahon and was screwed out of the women's title in the fall of '85, then went to the AWA to finish her career.

Ted DiBiase: "The Million Dollar Man", whose son, Ted, Jr., is a current WWE star, tried to buy the then-WWF title from the late Andre the Giant in February 1988, only to be thwarted by then-figurehead President Jack Tunney. DiBiase would win a couple of tag titles in the 90's, and later trade in his tights & boots for a Bible and a preacher's pulpit.

Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon: Better known for his success in the AWA than in the then-WWWF, Vachon is recognized as one of the most brutal heels in the history of the business. Sadly, I never saw him on TV in his prime, but his brother, Paul, aka "Butcher", was a WWWF mainstay during the 70's.

Stu Hart: Patriarch of the Hart wrestling family. Vince McMahon teased that Hart would be inducted, then dissed Stu's son Bret by reneging, only to have Stone Cold Steve Austin make the announcement on Monday Night Raw last night.

Bob Uecker: The former ballplayer-turned-actor (ex-Mr. Belvedere)-turned-broadcaster (long the voice of the Milwaukee Brewers) is being inducted in the celebrity wing, having done skits at Wrestlemania 3. His induction will be made official with another ex-ballplayer, Pete Rose, hosting Raw on March 22, though the local papers in Milwaukee have already leaked out the information as of March 13. Rose, by the way, is also in the WWE Hall as a sort of consolation prize due to his exclusion from the Baseball Hall of Fame. For once, Uecker can say he's sitting in the front row and mean it.

The WWE Hall, however, won't be complete until Vince McMahon resolves lingering grudges with other greats of the past like Randy Savage (who was rumored for this year, but may be in down the road) or Bruno Sammartino (who reportedly has said he'd never accept induction). If McMahon really wants his Hall to mean something, he has to check his ego and reconcile all past issues, and that may be what is really keeping him from retiring, for all we know.

The War of Complacency--Week 2

Total Non-stop Action (TNA), following the WWE's old business model, pre-recorded this week's episode of Impact one week ago, allowing for plenty of post-production editing if necessary. The only editing they really need to do, however, is in getting rid of the past-his-prime hack serving as their head writer.

The only reason Vince Russo has a job is because of his long-standing friendship with co-owner Jeff Jarrett, dating back to Jarrett's 1st run in the WWE in the pre-Attitude Era 90's, and you have to believe that Hulk Hogan & Eric Bischoff have him on a tight leash. They'll only tolerate his nonsensical ideas for so long before giving him the hook and ending his 3rd tour of duty with TNA.

That having been said, Jarrett might have Barry Manilow's "Some Kind of Friend" playing in his head of late, considering that he's been abused and mistreated by Bischoff, looking to break Jarrett's will, if you will, in order to gain greater control of the company. Isn't that what this is all about? Jarrett was forced to officiate a handicap match pitting the mono-monickered Hernandez vs. 3-time TNA tag champs Beer Money, Inc. (James Storm, the most decorated tag wrestler in TNA history, and Robert Roode). Beer Money gained some additional momentum going into Sunday's Destination X PPV vs. Hernandez & Matt Morgan, who has developed the same me-first attitude that Beer Money has of late, a symptom of Bischoff's sleazy influence since arriving 2 months ago.

Post-show, I read some comments on a newsboard I frequent, and there were some questions about champion AJ Styles, who faces Abyss on Sunday, losing to Jeff Hardy in the TV main event. Hardy's barely been back in TNA and has a court case pending against him in his home state of North Carolina, and yet he goes over Styles, who has Pope D'Angelo Dinero (Elijah Burke) waiting for him at Lockdown next month, assuming Styles gets by Abyss. Clearly, TNA is using Hardy as much as possible now because they don't know for sure if he can really be a long-term investment, given his legal problems.

In San Diego, Monday Night Raw promised their annual Wrestlemania Rewind show, this time hosted by Stone Cold Steve Austin. Unfortunately, the rematches of Wrestlemanias past left a bitter taste in the viewer's mouth.

First out of the gate was tag team co-titlist Big Show vs. John Cena. 6 years ago, Cena won his 1st US title at the expense of the colossus, and while they've had many battles since, this was not one of their best. Current champ David Batista decided to stick it to Cena again, drawing his foe's attention, enabling Show to KO Cena for the cheap win.

Here is Exhibit A of the flawed booking. We see this over and over again. This is a scenario where you need to change things up. As long as Batista didn't make physical contact with Cena, it's OK, but in truth, it isn't. A distraction is just as good as physical interference, in my view, and thus is subject to a disqualification against the party benefiting, in this case Big Show. It's hard to enforce, I know, but as long as the company chairman behaves like he's totally crackers and won't change his methods of operation, we're going to keep having these kinds of finishes.

Current WWE World Champion Chris Jericho deliberately got himself counted out vs. Shawn Michaels, only to be ambushed by his opponent at Wrestlemania 26, Edge. In other words, the match was window dressing for angle advancement much more so than the Cena-Big Show match. Lame.

Triple H and Randy Orton headlined last year's Wrestlemania, but now, Orton's former running buds, 2-time tag team champs Ted DiBiase, Jr. & Cody Rhodes, are feuding with him, while Triple H has Irish phenom Sheamus on his case, so you knew this latest match between Orton & HHH wasn't going to end properly, either, and it didn't. Rhodes & DiBiase ran in and attacked Orton, resulting in their former boss winning via DQ. Sheamus showed up after and laid out HHH, setting up a 3-on-2 handicap for next week.

Jericho wasn't the only one visiting from Friday Night Smackdown, as women's champion Michelle McCool and her sidekicks, Layla El & Vickie Guerrero, decided to rain on the Raw "divas" parade again. After Divas champ Maryse defeated Kelly Kelly, she decided to press the attack further, drawing Eve Torres & Gail Kim into the fray. That brought McCool & Layla, with Guerrero emerging from the backstage area after the carnage had ended. Clearly, there's going to be some kind of women's tag match at Wrestlemania, and with Maryse standing with Simply Flawless (McCool, Guerrero, & Layla), or, as I prefer to call them, Simply Flawed, it's not going to be Raw vs. Smackdown in the women's division. Guerrero has fostered too much ill will across the board with her latest power trip (billed as the consultant to Smackdown, but more a corporate snitch answering directly to Vince McMahon), and needs to be taken out of play, preferably yesterday.

Austin officiated the contract signing for Vince McMahon's grudge match vs. Bret Hart, but, to the surprise of many, Austin didn't unleash his signature Stone Cold Stunners. Maybe he realizes Vince, at 64, is too old for that kind of abuse. Hart, meanwhile, ended a month of deception of his own, as it turned out the "accident" he had where he supposedly broke his leg was a scam designed to force McMahon's hand. In other words, the insane chairman got played like a fiddle, and everyone was digging.

What needs to happen after Wrestlemania, however, is rather simple. This has to be not only Hart's last match (his 1st in 10 years), but also McMahon's. He's the only one, in my view, who doesn't see that his irresponsible actions have brought much shame & dishonor to the company and his family. It's time for Vince to retire. Past time, in fact, and if it means McMahon being embarassed on national television by being led out of the arena in a straitjacket after being declared publicly as clinically insane, well, it would be the coda, the end of the persona that wore out its welcome long ago.

Raw wins going away this week, and has disgraced baseball star Pete Rose hosting next week. TNA needs a house cleaning before it can actually mount a challenge to WWE, but do Jeff Jarrett & Dixie Carter have the stones to make the necessary moves sooner rather than later, when it might be too late? All I can say for now is, stay tuned.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spies on TV: an appreciation

The success of USA Network's Burn Notice suggests that maybe, just maybe, there might be a full-on revival of the spy genre on television. After all, there's already a glut of procedural dramas and reality shows, so we do need a break! Besides, the creatively bankrupt jabronies in Hollywood have already mined the archives, what with feature films based on I Spy, Get Smart, & Mission: Impossible all within the last 15 years. I'm actually surprised no one even dared think of taking Robert Ludlum's Bourne trilogy and spinning it into a weekly series after the movie series starring Matt Damon had run its course.

Anyway, let's take a look at some of the TV classics of days gone by.

It Takes a Thief: Robert Wagner became a icon in this series, which originally ran from 1968-71 on ABC. Alexander Mundy (Wagner) was sprung from prison by the SIA to do what he does best, steal, albeit from foreign powers and common crooks. With ratings fading, the producers brought in Fred Astaire in the 3rd season to play Mundy's dad, and Malachi Throne, who'd been Mundy's boss, Noah Bain, left the show. Throne, instead, tried his hand at voice acting, working on the children's series Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp.

Lasting impression: When DC Comics decided to give Batman's femme fatale foe/sometime girlfriend, Catwoman, her own book in the 90's, they borrowed the general concept behind Thief, except that Catwoman was an independent contractor who didn't work for anyone at that time but herself.

Should Thief be revived? Yes, but under a different title, since there's a reality show by that name nowadays.

Get Smart: A satirical comedy-adventure series that was designed as a parody of the James Bond movies, Get Smart actually outlasted most of its more serious contemporaries, but like Thief, signed off the air for good in 1971. Co-creator Mel Brooks hasn't been able to duplicate the success with other TV ventures, most notably his 1st take on Robin Hood, When Things Were Rotten, in 1975. Smart lent itself to the camp craze, what with oddball villains like the Groovy Guru, but at its core was a well-acted ensemble comedy. The 2008 feature film saw Steve Carell (The Office) step into Don Adams' gimmicked shoes, and do decent business, but as of this writing, a sequel doesn't seem likely.

Lasting impression: Smart was a partial inspiration for a recurring sketch on the original Electric Company, although "Fargo North, Decoder" didn't have a beautful partner helping him like Smart did. Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon on TV, Anne Hathaway in the movie) was supposedly the inspiration for Toto's hit song, "99", in the early 80's.

Should Smart be revived? It's been tried before, without much success, and with Adams having passed on and Carell rather busy at the moment, another small-screen revival isn't likely.

I Spy: This was the series that put comedy legend Bill Cosby into icon status. Cosby won 2 Emmy awards for his work as secret agent Alexander Scott, partnered with Robert Culp as tennis pro/secret agent Kelly Robinson. Another comedy legend, Sheldon Leonard, was the executive producer, and at the time, almost everything Leonard was attached to (i.e. The Dick Van Dyke Show) turned to gold. A late 90's movie version, done for laughs, flipped things around, with Eddie Murphy as Robinson and Owen Wilson as Scott. Robinson's chosen athletic profession, in turn, became a boxer. Audiences weren't amused.

Lasting impression: Cosby made history as the first African-American male actor to headline a prime time show, and he'd remain a steady presence on television for the next four decades. However, the formula that made I Spy so successful hasn't been fully duplicated, and probably never will.

Should I Spy be revived? The movie was a dud, especially without even minimal participation from Cosby & Culp. It might not work in the here and now.

Mission: Impossible: The most successful spy series of them all. Mission enjoyed a healthy 8 year run (1966-74), weathering a revolving door of cast changes, then returned in 1988 for another year-plus. Most people forget that the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) was originally under the direction of Daniel Briggs (Steven Hill, later of Law & Order), as they're more apt to remember the later seasons when Jim Phelps (Peter Graves) took over the team. 44 years later, Lalo Schifrin's theme song still kicks major butt, especially after a 30th anniversary makeover in 1996, courtesy of U2's Larry Mullen, Jr. & Adam Clayton.

Lasting impression: Mission was revived as a series of feature films starring Tom Cruise, beginning in 1996, but may have offended hardcore fans by using Phelps as a villain, played by Jon Voight. There's talk of a 4th film, since Cruise's recent films have not been major successes. Hmmm. Ya don't suppose his overindulgent promotion of Scientology might have had something to do with it, do ya?

Should Mission return to television? No.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: Another series that draws inspiration from James Bond. Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Ilya Kuryakin (David McCallum) fought enemy agents, but also fell victim to the camp craze, which ultimately doomed the series. There was a TV-movie revival in the 80's that didn't reverse the tide all that much.

Lasting impression: Vaughn & McCallum teamed one more time in the 80's, this time in an episode of The A-Team during that show's final season (when Vaughn joined the cast), but this time, McCallum played the villain. Producer Stephen Cannell paid homage to U.N.C.L.E. by using chapter cards and other hallmarks of the series in the episode.

Should U.N.C.L.E. be revived? Questionable. They tried to expand the franchise with The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., but that failed to click. Today, you'd have the agents in a more dangerous "hot zone", like the Middle East, but I just don't see it happening.

And that would illustrate just how tough it'd be to revive any of the classics. You'd have to reset the shows to modern times, as the '08 "Get Smart" did, but then you run the risk of offending Arab-American groups, among others. Maybe that's why Hollywood is more comfortable with making movies and not attempting to do full revivals. For once, it's the right move.

Peter Graves (1926-2010)

This has just come across the wires, but Hollywood has lost another TV icon.

Peter Graves was found dead in his home earlier today, 4 days shy of his 84th birthday. Graves will be best remembered as Jim Phelps, head of the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) on Mission: Impossible, joining the series after Steven Hill (ex-Law & Order) left the show. Graves would return when Mission was revived in the late 80's, and later served as a host of the Arts & Entertainment Network (A & E)'s revived Biography series.

Graves had starred in the children's series Fury long before signing on to do Mission: Impossible, and appeared in the 1980 movie "Airplane!". One of his last television appearances was just a few years ago in an ad for GEICO insurance, which, in hindsight, seemed to be a wee bit awkward in context. Mission had last aired around these parts on the Retro Television Network (RTV) about 2-3 years ago, and I am not certain of who holds the cable rights presently, but I'd expect it and Fury to be included in tribute marathons in short order.

Rest in peace, Peter.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Co-Weasels of the Week: Malin Agnew & Jeremiah Masoli

It's amazing how this generation continues to turn out kids who seem to misplace their brains at the most inopportune times.

The first case is that of Malin Agnew, a clerk at the Apple Store in New York, who made headlines earlier today when she accused actor-comedian Richard Belzer (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) of choking her at the store. Agnew was doing her job, asking Belzer if he needed help. He casually placed his hands on her shoulders, a fact verified by store cameras and the police investigating the case. She claims Belzer began choking her. Belzer, in response, feels Agnew targeted him because of his celebrity status and a need for a quick payday, as if her salary isn't enough to pay the bills. You would think she'd know better than to target an actor who plays a cop on TV........! To vocalize the famous opening of Dragnet, dum-de-dum-dum-dumb!

Next, we go all the way across the country to the University of Oregon, where star quarterback Jeremiah Masoli has been suspended for the 2010 season, six months before it even begins! Masoli, considered a candidate for the Heisman Trophy, killed his chances when he was arrested on burglary charges. Worse, he tried to lie about it to his coach, but the fact that he plead guilty to a lesser misdemeanor charge cost him his high profile gig. In reading an account on Yahoo!, I found out that Masoli had a prior criminal record as a teenager. In other words, he'd be a perfect candidate to be drafted by teams like the Raiders & Bengals, who seem to have cornered the market on hiring reprobates & problem children.

It's doubtful that Masoli will even remain at Oregon. I see him turning pro, fueling his need to play despite his rap sheet, and since it's too late for him to declare for next month's draft, it's likely he'll be signed as a free agent. If not in the NFL or UFL, but likely Canada.

I was going to have only one Weasel this week, but the utter stupidity of Masoli ranked right up there with Ms. Agnew having an airhead moment on the job, such that it couldn't be ignored.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Saturday Night Live lands a Golden Girl

Saturday Night Live may have just signed its oldest hostess yet with news out of New York earlier today that TV legend Betty White (ex-The Golden Girls) will be the host for the May 8 episode, just in time for Mother's Day.

The signing is the culmination of a Facebook campaign that began last month, after the 88 year old White appeared in a Snickers commercial (co-starring Abe Vigoda) that aired during the Super Bowl. White's credits also include a self-titled mid-70's sitcom, a short-lived 80's game show, Just Men, and a healthy run as Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, plus a ton of appearances on various game shows, including Match Game and Password. She has also appeared in a few films in recent years, including the horror movie, "Lake Placid", so there's plenty of material for the writers to work from.

And there will be a SNL connection on WWE Monday Night Raw next month, when Will Forte & Kirsten Wiig will co-host Raw to promote "MacGruber", the MacGyver parody that has spun off into a feature film. Coincidentally, "MacGruber" also has a few WWE wrestlers, including Chris Jericho, Mark Henry & Great Khali, making appearances. I shan't be surprised if Forte is roped into a match, just as Jon Heder was a few weeks ago (and looked like a deer in the headlights in doing so), as part of the show.

With all due respect to Betty White, I don't think Vince McMahon would ask her to be on Raw. He already has Mae Young on speed dial for special occasions, and it'd be just like McMahon to answer his pal Lorne Michaels by having Young appear on Raw the following Monday......

Merlin Olsen (1940-2010)

NFL Hall of Famer and actor Merlin Olsen passed away Wednesday at 69 after a lengthy bout with mesothelioma, a form of cancer.

Olsen was a member of the Los Angeles Rams' fabled "Fearsome Foursome" defensive line in the 60's that also included Deacon Jones and Roosevelt Grier. Like Grier (who would later join the cast of Daniel Boone), Olsen made the transition to Hollywood, starting with a supporting role in the 1969 film, "The Undefeated", which starred John Wayne. After his playing days ended, Olsen moved into the broadcast booth for NBC, working alongside play-by-play announcer Dick Enberg, and the two also called the Rose Bowl for NBC from 1980-88. During that time, Olsen re-established himself as an actor, joining the cast of Little House on the Prarie before being given his own series, Father Murphy, in 1981. Olsen also did a series of commercials for FTD, and in addition to being enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame, he was inducted into the Rams' Ring of Fame after the team moved to St. Louis.

Rest in peace, Merlin. You will be missed.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Reaching out to a brother in blogging

It has come to my attention that Ivan Shreve, the genius behind the Thrilling Days of Yesteryear blog, has taken ill and is in the hospital. Right now, I cannot stress enough that Ivan needs your support and prayers for a speedy recovery.

Get well soon, Ivan. We all miss you.

Corey Haim (1971-2010)

Best remembered for 1980's movies like "Lucas" & "The Lost Boys", Corey Haim was found dead earlier today at the age of 38. Reports say it was because of a drug overdose.

Tragic? Maybe. It's definitely disappointing, though. Haim had returned to the spotlight nearly 4 years ago with a reality series, The Two Coreys, co-starring best pal Corey Feldman, who co-starred with Haim in "Lost Boys". Haim faded back into the shadows, if you will, after Two Coreys was cancelled in 2008 after 2 seasons. Another young talent, gone too soon. In all probability, when the remake of "Lost Boys" comes out later this year, it'll be dedicated in Haim's memory.

Rest in peace, Corey.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The War of Complacency---the Morning After

Total Non-stop Action (TNA) has decided to reignite the "Monday Night Wars" vs. WWE, but after channel-flipping between Impact and Monday Night Raw, I can't honestly say there was a real winner.

Word filtered on the internet that TNA was going to do something within the first five minutes of their telecast. HA! It actually took them about 10-12 minutes before their first surprise was unveiled.

They decided to tease the audience and have their main event go on first. TNA World Champion AJ Styles and his new mentor, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, battling Abyss & Hulk Hogan, in the latter's first television match in 3 1/2 years. Just as Styles & Flair gained the upper hand, the lights went out, heralding the arrival of Sting. Even a blind man could see what was coming. As Hogan & Abyss staggered to their feet, Sting attacked them, and left them laid out, aided by Styles & Flair, after a series of bat & chair shots. Hogan, though, got the last word, and said the two teams would be rematched later in a no-DQ match.

Meanwhile, in Portland, Oregon, two former World champs, Shawn Michaels & Undertaker, met in center ring. Undertaker is risking his perfect record at Wrestlemania (17-0) vs. Michaels' career. Michaels claimed Undertaker had fear in his eyes. Riiiiiiiiight, and chickens have lips. It's now a no-DQ, no-countout match at Wrestlemania 26. Essentially, anything goes, because that may be the only way they can top their bout from last year, and some are saying this might be the last Mania for both.

In Orlando, they crowned new women's tag team champs when the Beautiful People (Velvet Sky & Madison Rayne) won a triple threat over former champs Taylor Wilde & Sarita and BP founder Angelina Love & Tara, the women's champion. This was due to an uninvited party, Daffney, using Tara's title belt against her. Clearly, Daffney, who was little more than a novelty act in WCW 10 years ago, wants the women's title. Awesome Kong ran afoul of the politics that come with Hogan being in TNA, and was let go, leaving her partner, Hamada, on the outside looking in, their reign abruptly halted after 2 months. X Division champ Doug Williams won a 3-way of his own, beating Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels in what was easily the best match on the TNA card.

WWE's co-main event saw 2-time former tag team champions, Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase, Jr., get the measure of their former partner in crime, Randy Orton, in a handicap match. This was to be expected, but the smart thing to do now, once this storyline has run its course, is to have Rhodes & DiBiase get back into the tag title hunt, but then again, logic is a foreign substance in this wacky business.

Illusionist Criss Angel was Raw's guest host of the week, but he couldn't do us the biggest favor imaginable and make Vince McMahon disappear, which would've spared us a predictable main event. The 64-year-old McMahon was matched vs. former champ John Cena in the other half of the double main event, and it went just as you'd expect, with the insane chairman changing the match at the last minute, which realistically you cannot do, to a handicap gauntlet match, recruiting Vladimir Kozlov, Drew McIntyre, Jack Swagger, and a reluctant Mark Henry to do his dirty work. This is because McMahon can't work a match by himself as an arch-heel, but that act has long since gone stale. McMahon then decided to make it a no-DQ match, as I had suspected he might. Henry wanted no part of it, so Batista came down and took down the World's Strongest Man, then wiped out Cena, helping McMahon gain the cheap pinfall, just as I predicted he would.

In Orlando, the tag team main event was restarted, and this time, Hogan & Abyss won the match, with Abyss, a title match already in his back pocket vs. Styles for Destination X on 3/21, pinning the champ. The celebration didn't last, as Desmond Wolfe came down to attack, giving the advantage back to Styles & Flair. However, the last "surprise" of the evening was the first one on 1/4. Jeff Hardy, with a court case still pending, showed up and wiped out Wolfe with a gourdbuster, and had Styles set for a Swanton Bomb just as the show signed off.

So who won the night? I call it a draw. McMahon put himself over Cena simply because he wanted to show up Hogan. Had Hogan not booked himself into a main event, it wouldn't have changed anything, because McMahon has a Wrestlemania match vs. Bret Hart, and he felt it was more important for him to go over as opposed to Cena, the #1 contender to the WWE title, beating him, which in truth would've been the right thing to do for the sake of business!

Meanwhile, they tried making Sting a bad guy a couple of years ago, but it didn't take because it was more of a case of moral conflict. This time, Sting may actually have a legitimate beef to fuel this turn to crime. Plus, Hogan is looking to get even after Sting beat him at WCW Starrcade several years ago, thinking that two 50-somethings headlining a PPV will draw money. TNA founder Jeff Jarrett is fighting a losing battle vs. Hogan's alleged business partner, Eric Bischoff, so it's clear at the moment that Hogan & Bischoff are playing good cop/bad cop, but that won't get more people watching. TNA reeks of moldy bread and stale crackers. WWE serves up sirloin steak with a side order of cheese (comedy skits and women's matches), with the occasional pig cutting to the head of the line (i.e. McMahon) to ruin things.

Next week, Impact will be pre-recorded (taping tonight), while Raw is live in San Diego with guest host Stone Cold Steve Austin. Someone's going to be paying for last night's sins, guaranteed.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A rush to bad judgment

I had just boarded a bus headed for home today after work. An African-American woman, whom I'd guess would be in middle age, judging by the gray in her hair, was chatting on her cell phone with someone, then decided to get off the bus, just before the driver was ready to pull out and resume her run. In her haste, the woman never saw a silver pickup truck approaching until it was too late. The truck made contact, and the woman fell to the ground.

Within minutes, a pair of rescue squad trucks and 2 Menands police cruisers arrived, followed by two ambulances. Traffic was rerouted while the EMT's attended to the victim. A supervisor from the bus company took pictures and talked to the driver, as did the police. The woman was taken to the hospital, but as I write these words, I do not know her exact condition. After a 30 minute wait, the bus was finally able to resume its run without further incident.

On either side of the street, there are buttons that can control the traffic lights for no more than about 30 seconds. The victim never considered this option. Had she done so, there would've been no accident. If I could venture a guess, I'd say the person she'd been conversing with on the phone might've been closer than she thought, and so she decided to leave the bus and catch up. She forgot one of the most fundamental rules of traffic safety, and didn't check either side of the road before attempting to cross the street. As the bus driver pointed out, the light was red when the woman began to cross, then changed to green as she got halfway. In short, she was caught in No Man's Land. I only pray that she will survive this accident.

Discipline isn't meant to traumatize young minds, but.......

Here we go again.

In Ionia, Michigan, a 6 year old boy was suspended from school for 2 days for doing something a lot of kids have done for generations. He formed a gun with his thumb & forefinger, and pointed it at another child. School officials claim the child was warned several times this school year about it, but he didn't heed the warnings, and on Wednesday, they decided to take action.

The boy is in kindergarten, and as his mother is quoted as saying, he doesn't understand any of the fuss. Once again, we have school faculty over-reacting to something that was once acceptable behavior for kids at that age. After all, what is one of the first games a child learns to play at school? Cops & robbers. With no toys, kids will form guns with their hands. It's just natural. In this day and age, they're trying to discourage children from even pretending to have a gun. What is wrong with using imagination? It's a tool all of us have had since our youth.

I get what they're trying to do, but they're aiming too low. Kindergarteners aren't ready to deal with this sort of thing. You wait until they get to the 3rd or 4th grade before you start putting restrictions on imaginary gunplay or other forms of pretend violence. Instead, these overzealous school principals are risking giving these kids emotional scars that will be carried for years to come. Loosen up!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

At least they were trained.....

It's been two weeks since it happened, but the story has only come to light in the last two days.

On February 16, Glenn Duffy, an air traffic controller at Kennedy Airport, decided to bring his 9 year old son to work. Just for kicks, Duffy decided to let the lad help direct traffic. The next day, he brought the child's twin sister to work, ostensibly to give her equal time. Unfortunately for Duffy, this stunt may ultimately cost him his job.

I had heard an excerpt of an audio tape of the boy talking to one of the pilots on a 12 noon newscast. It seemed so innocent. The kids were on vacation from school for the week, so Duffy figured, why not give them something to do that would give them something to talk about when they returned to class? The opinions gathered as of press time are split, but the most important opinions belong to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which decried the stunt as an unacceptable distraction. Duffy has been suspended and, according to the New York Daily News, could wind up losing his job as a result.

I'm going to venture a guess here, but it seems as though Duffy decided to satisfy his son's curiosity and let him talk to the pilot. His supervisor, who also has been suspended for allowing this to happen, didn't think it was a problem, and let it go. Luckily, there were no accidents on those two nights, and that may yet be Duffy's saving grace. Now, I'm trying to picture the kids returning to school and telling their classmates about their little adventure. They've probably earned respect, but was it at the risk of their father losing his job?

Art is snow fun---sometimes

I have to admit I found this amusing. The New York Daily News reports in today's editions (available online at http://www.nydailynews.com/) that a family in New Jersey was forced to find clothing for a headless, topless snow-woman designed in the mold of the famous Venus de Milo statue after police received a complaint from an anonymous outside party. Heeding the warnings of the police, Maria Conneran and her brother, Jack Shearing, put a bra and a sarong on their creation until the snow-woman melted away.

Now, if someone had a legitimate objection to the snow-woman as it was being built, don't you think that person could've gone to the kids personally to voice his/her concerns? As usual, the nothing-happening, party-pooping prude(s) opted to call the cops rather than do the diplomatic thing. A friendly warning would've diffused a potentially embarassing situation without incident.

Children are taught to respect their elders. How can they if certain of those elders don't have any respect for them and lack the courage to actually talk to them?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Common sense finally emerges!

2 years ago, he made history as the first African-American to hold the office of Governor of the state of New York, and was the first legally blind man to do so as well. Today, David Paterson is in the same position as his predecessor, Eliot Spitzer, at the center of a political firestorm that ultimately has cost him any hope of a full term in the November general election.

At the end of last week, Paterson announced that he would not run, leaving the field wide open for current Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, son of former Governor Mario Cuomo, to make a run for Governor himself. The only name the GOP has in response is Rick Lazio, who had the smack laid down on him by Hilary Clinton in a run for Senate 4 years ago. If that wasn't enough of an embarassment, then Lazio may be looking for a rock to crawl under if in fact he loses out to the younger Cuomo. Either that, or he can apply for a talk radio job out of state.

Meanwhile, Paterson will serve out the term begun by Spitzer (himself a former Attorney General) with a sword of Damocles of his own hanging over his head having to do with an assistant's indiscretions.

The latest carpetbagger to call New York home, Harold Ford (formerly of Tennessee), decided on Monday that he would not challenge Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in a primary. Apparently, some higher-ranking suits in the Democratic party convinced Ford that discretion might be the better part of valor at this juncture, considering that Ford came across as a bounty hunter who's barely settled in before making noises about running for public office.

Well, it saves the newspapers plenty of humorous headlines making puns of Ford's name.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Forgive him, because he doesn't know what he's doing anymore

I am referring to, of course, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Chairman/CEO Vincent K. McMahon.

A year ago, McMahon famously told ESPN's Jeremy Schaap that he'd never retire, but he's better served if he did. Tonight on Monday Night Raw, McMahon, 64, agreed to a match vs. 52 year old Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 26 on March 28 in Glendale, Arizona. He also announced that, 4 months after claiming he was retiring from competition to avoid a grudge match with "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, McMahon would give himself a warm-up match by facing one of today's stars, John Cena.

We have seen this play out before. I know I've talked about it here and elsewhere, but it bears repeating. Vince McMahon has become too predictable.

In 2003, McMahon picked a fight with a man who is now working for the competition, Hulk Hogan. Hogan beat McMahon at Wrestlemania 19 in Seattle, but McMahon, professional sore loser, couldn't accept defeat. He "suspended" Hogan for no reason, which only gave Hogan an excuse to pull a ream from the Dusty Rhodes playbook and return as "Mr. America", with a cowled mask that was a knockoff of Captain America's signature cowl. Hogan was gone by the time July 4 rolled around.

Three years later, McMahon was feuding with Shawn Michaels. "The Heartbreak Kid" beat McMahon at Wrestlemania 22, but had to deal with McMahon making a mockery of religion (Michaels is a born-again Christian) by assigning God as a tag team partner for what amounted to a handicap match for Michaels vs. McMahon and his son, Shane, at Backlash. Ultimately, Michaels won the feud.

In 2007, McMahon lost his hair when Bobby Lashley defeated the late Umaga, with Lashley representing Donald Trump, at Wrestlemania 23. Three weeks later, McMahon cheated Lashley out of the ECW title, only to drop it back some 5 weeks later. Thankfully, it went no further, but by this point, McMahon had become an embarassment to the company, his family, and the wrestling industry.

Add to this a loss to Shane McMahon at Wrestlemania 17 (2001), and the fact that a year earlier, McMahon technically was a losing manager, and "Mr. McMahon" is 0-5 at Wrestlemania, and soon to become 0-6. You wonder if McMahon has bought stock in Western Union, because he's already telegraphed what'll happen next.

Next week on Raw, McMahon will make an arbitrary decision at the last possible moment to make his match No-Disqualification, enabling another wrestler, current WWE champion Dave Batista, to interfere freely on his behalf, and do all the damage while McMahon collects a cheap, lazy pinfall. His bout with Hart will also end up No-DQ, because in truth, neither man is really able to work a proper match. Hart suffered a stroke a few years back, and is working an injury angle at present to set up the match. McMahon, meanwhile, while in reasonably good health physically, should have his psychological health questioned by a team of impartial doctors. I hear the best ones work at Bellevue. Let's face it, folks. The character of "Mr. McMahon" has long since been played out, and the only one who doesn't fully understand this is Vincent Kennedy McMahon himself. We don't need to see this scenario play out again for the 4th time in the last 8 years, but you can bet that McMahon has seen to it that the only solution that is feasible can't be used.

All Vince needs to do is take a look at the success of the New York Yankees. Principal owner George Steinbrenner, a long time friend of McMahon's, turned over day-to-day operations of the team to his sons, Hal & Hank, a couple of years ago. That infusion of fresh energy in the front office extended to the field, enabling the Yankees to win the World Series last fall. "The Boss" (George) has stepped to the background, and life has gone on for the Yanks. If Vince wasn't so obsessed with his on-screen image and so afraid that people would see him as being weak in his advanced age, he'd follow Steinbrenner's lead and let his daughter, Stephanie, and her wrestler-husband, Triple H (Paul LeVesque) take command of the day-to-day operations. Life would still go on. It can all easily be explained on the air that "Mr. McMahon" had taken too many chair shots to the head over the years, such that it unhinged his mind. Given some of the decisions the real Vince has made of late (and documented here), you wonder if the onset of old age hasn't already caught up with him, and the mule-like stubbornness of his alter-ego is the only thing keeping him from admitting it and retiring. Sooner or later, to paraphrase Elton John, reality will run up McMahon's spine, but the pieces of his body will already be fading. And it will be the fault of one man, and one alone. Vincent K. McMahon.