Thursday, December 30, 2010

Co-Weasels of the Week: Roger Goodell, Brett Favre, & Ed Rendell

This was just too easy.

After the first major snowstorm of the season tore through the Northeast on Sunday, prompting the NFL to move the Eagles-Vikings game to Tuesday, the first Tuesday game in the league since 1946, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell ranted that the NFL had, in effect, wimped out by not playing the game as scheduled. The blizzard wouldn't have actually touched down in Philadelphia until much later on Sunday. As it turned out, there were only five inches of snow on the ground by the scheduled 8:20 kickoff. However, the league, acting in the interests of public safety, for its fans as well as the players and officials, opted to err on the side of caution and postpone the game, the 2nd postponement in 3 weeks, both involving the Vikings. Oh, by the way, Minnesota won the game. I guess Gov. Rendell wasn't watching the Weather Channel (a cable cousin of NBC)....!

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had earned a reputation as a hard-line authority figure ever since he was appointed to succeed Paul Tagliabue as commissioner a few years ago. The seemingly endless number of suspensions handed out to players for off-the-field violations is proof of that. So why did Goodell whiff on what would've been a defining moment in his administration?

I think everyone knows the story by now. A heretofore little known website, Deadspin, broke the story earlier this season that Vikings QB Brett Favre had sent some vulgar, graphic messages, including some pictures allegedly of his private parts, to one Jenn Sterger, who, like Favre, was employed by the New York Jets during the 2008 season. At the time the story broke, the Jets were already dealing with a more recent problem, with reports that a cable reporter, Inez Sainz, had been hassled by some players in the team's locker room. Coincidental timing? Maybe. The NFL took forever to conduct its investigation, and on Wednesday, had closed the case by fining Favre $50,000 for not being more forthcoming and/or cooperative in the investigation.

$50,000 is pocket change for Favre, you see. The fine amounts to a mere slap on the wrist, which, understandably, didn't sit well with Sterger and her legal team. They would've been happier if Goodell had taken a more pre-emptive action and suspended Favre while the investigation was ongoing, rather than drag out the drama. Recall that Eagles QB Michael Vick made a much-ballyhooed comeback in 2009 after sitting out two seasons for the dog fighting case. Favre is treated with kid gloves. Why? Favre has something Vick hasn't had. An endorsement deal.

Favre also does commercials for Wrangler jeans, and had also shilled for Prilosec (a Procter & Gamble product). In short, Goodell, like other authority figures in sports, is still beholden to corporate America and their interests. Favre played on, until his iron man streak ended on December 13, and the commercials continued to play. In comparision, golfer Tiger Woods lost a majority of his endorsements when his public image was shattered a year ago at this time. Yes, he played on, but for the first time in his career, didn't win a single tournament during the season. The scandal still weighs heavily on him, even though he might not admit it.

By the same token, Favre tried to blot out the drama surrounding him. Kinda hard to do, when you're the biggest waffler this side of Eggo during the off-season. Favre's already said he's retiring. He's saying that to avoid a suspension, and that makes him no different than, say, for example, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds in baseball. Where Goodell fails is by kowtowing to the corporate interests and protecting Favre as much as possible, instead of punishing him. In effect, he let Favre slide, and that is so wrong. If Favre were to play his little game again next summer, deciding again to come out of retirement, Goodell should be waiting for him with a year's suspension, maybe more, just to prove he meant to do it after all.

At the end of the day, we have 3 weasels. Rendell for his blind posturing and ignorance of public safety in the face of disaster. Goodell for not taking a harder stance on Favre. Favre for not being man enough to 1) admit what he did was wrong, and 2) walking away from the game again, this time to avoid a stiffer penalty than what was imposed. He's only heightening his guilt this way.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Teena Marie (1956-2010)

She was one of the first white artists signed to Motown, and a protege of funk legend Rick James ("Super Freak"), but the first time I actually heard something by Teena Marie was after she'd left Motown for Epic. Teena (born Mary Brockert) passed away Sunday at 54, reportedly from natural causes, and the MTV generation might remember what really was her biggest hit, "Lovergirl", from 1985.

The following clip comes from the artist's VEVO channel:



I confess that I wasn't that big a fan, but to read how it was she, and not Charlene ("I've Never Been To Me") a year later, who was Motown's first white female star, was a stunner. "Lovergirl" was the only song of Teena's I'd ever heard. Now, however, she's joined Rick James, her mentor and one-time boyfriend, in Heaven's chorus. Rest in peace, Teena.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

If PT Barnum was a publisher......

"There's a sucker born every minute."---P. T. Barnum.

"We snack on danger, we dine on death, and dead men make no money!"---Road Warrior Hawk (Michael Hegstrand), sometime in the 1980's.

The last part of the late wrestler's bold declaration doesn't hold a lot of water anymore, considering how, for example, Sony released a posthumous Michael Jackson CD just a few weeks ago, and they claim to have more in the can, due to a backlog of material Jackson had recorded before his passing in 2009. Of course, profits are still being made on other deceased musicians such as Elvis Presley & John Lennon.

Marvel Comics' Joe Quesada & Dan Buckley subscribe to the Barnum theory, because, once again, they're teasing the death of a major comics character, hoping to juice up sales on a flagging iconic title. In this case, it's the Fantastic Four.

In 2009, Marvel had Captain America killed off, then brought him back a few months ago. DC didn't quite do the same with Batman, opting instead for an intricate story arc that had the Dark Knight lost in time before being brought back to the present a couple of months back. DC, of course, famously killed off Superman for a period in 1993-94. In each case, it wasn't so much generating mainstream publicity as fishing for extra sales. In the case of Quesada & Buckley, it's all about attention, and how to go about it. However, it's getting old real fast.

A wire service article on the pending FF story arc appeared in some newspapers earlier this week, and around here, the only paper that had the story was the Albany Times-Union, which put it on page 2 of their Dec. 23 edition. Not sure about any others, but I do know that my hometown paper whiffed, as usual. They're routinely a day late and a few dollars short on wire service articles.

There are rumors that, after 2 feature films that weren't exactly very popular with the fan base, Marvel is considering starting over again with the FF at the movies. If this is actually going to happen, why kill off one of the central characters, even for a short time? In 2010-11, there aren't going to be too many people who will fall for this trick again. You know how this is going to play. They'll go ahead with their plans, and, after a few months, bring the deceased back to life in a more-complicated-than-it-has-any-right-to-be story arc. Quesada & Buckley have presided over some pretty stupid story ideas during their tenure at Marvel, but they are risking a severe backlash, especially when you consider that Marvel is now part of the Disney family. No way would Disney allow these two jackals anywhere near Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck, so let's stop with the faux bloodletting, ok?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

On video: Stamp Day for Superman (1954)

The producers of The Adventures of Superman were commissioned by the US Treasury to produce a special episode of the series, slightly shorter than usual, to promote stamp collecting. There is the usual (for this series) drama of Superman (George Reeves) rescuing Lois Lane from a robber on the lam, of course. "Stamp Day For Superman" was uploaded by Nuclearvault to YouTube:




To my knowledge, "Stamp Day For Superman" was not included with the rest of the series during its syndicated runs after production had ended.

The Goodtimes VHS copy I have also includes 8 of the classic Max Fleischer Superman cartoon shorts from the 40's. The last, "Secret Agent", appears to have been partially recreated, as the Paramount logo is missing at the end of the short. Also, the feature, "Superman vs. The Mole Men", which I have on a separate tape, is an unadvertised added attraction, and is missing the opening credits. "Stamp Day" is not completely perfect, either, but is intact.

Rating for the tape: B--.
"Stamp Day For Superman"---A.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Countdown to Christmas: Wonderful Christmas Time (1979)

Earlier this month, we presented John Lennon's "Happy Christmas (War is Over)". In the interest of equal time, it's Paul McCartney's turn, with his peppy, positive 1979 offering, "Wonderful Christmas Time". Enjoy.





Merry Christmas.

Co-Weasels of the Week: Noah Ellis and the editors of the NY Post

Plenty of weasel ears to hand out on Christmas Eve.

First stop is New York. By now, everyone has heard about the latest scandal involving New York Jets coach Rex Ryan. Deadspin, quickly turning into the Wikileaks of sports, especially in New York, claims that it is Ryan's wife, Michelle, appearing in a series of foot fetish videos that have appeared on YouTube. The New York Post made this a page one story on Thursday. Rival New York Daily News did the same, but only in their local editions. The copies that were distributed outside NYC had a different front page story. The Post, like its British cousin, The Sun, subscribes to the belief that, in the words of TNA's Eric Bischoff, "Controversy Creates Cash", which was the title of Bischoff's 2007 autobiography. The Chicago Tribune had some fun (The Jets play the Bears this week), designing their article on the scandal in the shape of---what else?---a foot. However, the key word in all this is, alleged. For the 2nd time this year, the Post editors get tagged with weasel ears for throwing respect, dignity, & common sense out the door in favor of catering to the lowest common denominator, or, as the News' Bob Raissman would say, the "Valley of the Stupid".

Next, we go across the country to Beverly Hills, where restaurant owner Noah Ellis has banned a Los Angeles Times critic from his eatery because of a past reputation of negative reviews. Hogwash! If Ellis is that sensitive about the perception of his business, barring a specific critic for petty, selfish reasons is the wrong way to go. It's one thing to bar particular customers because of bad, boorish behavior, but if the critic is an influential writer, Ellis is risking losing a lot of future business. Critics' judgements are subjective, based on their experience on a particular visit. Ellis, you would think, would understand that, but apparently, he's developed a very thin skin. Perhaps he's gotten one too many negative reviews from other critics, and is afraid another one, appearing in the Times, would be too damaging. Shame, shame, shame on Ellis. Weasel is not a delicacy in most restaurants, but Ellis is certainly behaving like one, so he is so deemed to be one.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

.......And they say death comes in threes........

My grammatically-challenged pen pal from Long Island was the first to tip me to the news of the passing of radio & television announcer Fred Foy. Curiously, he gave Mr. Foy a little more credit for time spent, as he claimed Foy was 90. In fact, Foy was 89. Foy is known to most of us as the announcer, both on radio & television of The Lone Ranger for much of its run. As I noted in an earlier post, actor Gerald Mohr was also an announcer on the show. Later on, Foy was the announcer for Dick Cavett's ABC late-night talk show.

Earlier this week, we said goodbye to actor Steve Landesberg, whose portrayal of brainy-to-an-extreme Det. Arthur Dietrich on Barney Miller may well have been a forerunner to John Ratzenberger's similarly over-intellectual Cliff Clavin on Cheers. Landesberg succumbed to cancer at 65. Landesberg had enjoyed a career comeback, largely in films such as "Forgetting Sarah Marshall", over the last few years.

Finally, this one's more figurative than literal. The New York State Theatre Institute, which has presented productions in Russia over the years, was shut down on Wednesday, but while the press will have you believe the final curtain has rung----and the cavalier attitude of Larry Schwartz, an aide to outgoing Gov. David Paterson in criticizing NYSTI's current boss, David Bunce, was no help----there is always the possibility that NYSTI could return once Andrew Cuomo is sworn in as Governor on January 1. NYSTI, founded in 1974, has called the Schact Fine Arts Center at Russell Sage College home for the last few years, after spending their first few years across the river at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center. I've had the privelege of attending a number of NYSTI productions over the years, the last being "King Island Christmas" last year, and I for one am disappointed by the Paterson administration's unwillingness to support NYSTI. Its impact on the arts at home and abroad has been immeasurable. You'll forgive me for the obvious pun, but for Gov. Paterson to turn a blind eye to NYSTI is inexcusable. Never mind the behind-the-scenes corruption that soiled NYSTI's reputation earlier this year and led to its demise (for now). While there will still be theatre productions in the upstate NY area, NYSTI to me is, and may always be, the gold standard.

Countdown to Christmas: Gabriel's Message (1987)

"Gabriel's Message" is based on a hymn originally written in the 13th century. Sting recorded this song initially for "A Very Special Christmas" in 1987, and has since reissued it on his own CD, "If On a Winter's Night". Snidelywhiplash uploaded this clip to YouTube:



Monday, December 20, 2010

On DVD: Space Angel (1962)

The 60's were a golden time for television animation. However, some producers felt it prudent to cut corners in an effort to present what they felt was the best possible product, and hope the audience didn't notice. As history tells us, however, Cambria Studios' use of "Synchro-Vox" technology, inserting an actor's lips in place of the characters', is regarded as one of the worst ideas in television history.

While Cambria did use full animation for their later New Three Stooges shorts, their more infamous works, Clutch Cargo & Space Angel, lowered the bar, if you will.

I was killing time at a dollar store over the weekend when I spotted a Space Angel DVD on the rack. I have hazy memories of seeing this series when I was but a wee lad in the late 60's, long after the series had ended production. I figured, ok, I'll give this a once-over. Why did I even bother?

The Synchro-Vox is most obvious with Taurus (Hal Smith, The Andy Griffith Show), as opposed to our hero, Scott "Space Angel" McCloud, and Crystal. There isn't a lot of movement, and way too many stock poses. Worse, the 3rd serial in this 1 hour set, "The Gladiators", is incomplete. No screen credits are ever given (each original episode was 5 minutes in length back in its original run from 1962-64), but the closing graphic is the part I remember the most from those halcyon days.

Research reveals that Cambria actually had some A-list talent on the creative end, including Doug Wildey (better known as the creator of Jonny Quest) and Alex Toth, who designed many of Hanna-Barbera's adventure series, from Space Ghost to the original Super Friends, in the late 60's & 70's. Aside from this single disc DVD release from EastWest, Space Angel has largely been forgotten, while Clutch Cargo has become a punch line of sorts. The Synchro-Vox method, though, lives on, as it has been used by musicians Timbuk 3 & Weird Al Yankovic and talk show host Conan O'Brien in recent years. Now, if someone would actually revive Space Angel, preferably in CGI........!

Here's the complete "Incident of the Loud Planet":



Rating: D.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Countdown to Christmas: Rev. Linus Van Pelt explains the true meaning of Christmas (1965)

Most of us may have gotten our first Bible lesson in 1965's A Charlie Brown Christmas and didn't realize it. Over the years, Peanuts creator Charles Schulz used Linus to recite various Biblical passages. In this clip, Linus, without the aid of the Bible, recites a passage from the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 2. Uploaded by Wteach to YouTube:





Amen!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Countdown to Christmas: Cricket on the Hearth (1967)

Here's a Rankin-Bass production that somehow has been lost to the mists of time, having not gotten as much airplay as the rest of the R-B line. Cricket on the Hearth is based on a story by Charles Dickens ("A Christmas Carol"), and, as with virtually every other R-B special, is star-packed, with an all-star cast headlined by Danny & Marlo Thomas. Marlo was starring in That Girl around this time, so this might've aired on ABC, I'm not sure. The cast also features actor-singer Ed Ames (Daniel Boone), Abbe Lane, and Roddy McDowell as the titular cricket. Starwarsmarveldc uploaded this clip to YouTube:





Seeing as how I've never seen this show, I cannot rightly give it a rating. It is, however, available on DVD in a compilation package.

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas with the Monkees (1986)

In the early years of MTV, back when they played music 24/7, it was a tradition to have an artist shoot a Christmas music video in the studio with the VJs and other staffers. One of the best was this bit with the Monkees. Davy Jones, Peter Tork, & Micky Dolenz were touring as a trio, marking the 20th anniversary of their TV series. The 4th Monkee, Mike Nesmith, opted against it, and was all but retired. However, you'll see him before this medley is done. Antifrodis uploaded this clip to YouTube:



Now, don't Davy & Martha Quinn make a cute couple? A few years later, the two would be reunited, doing an informercial for one of those Time-Life CD compilations. Apparently, "Downtown" Julie Brown didn't know the words to "Jingle Bell Rock" by heart, otherwise she'd know that you glide in, not on, a 1-horse sleigh. Her campy antics, though, nearly killed the video.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Blake Edwards (1922-2010)

Word has just come across the wires of the passing of writer-producer-director Blake Edwards at 88.

The mere mention of Edwards' name will have people thinking of any number of hit films, including the original "Pink Panther" series, "Victor/Victoria", "The Days of Wine & Roses", "Breakfast at Tiffany's", "The Great Race", & "10", as well as an iconic television series from the early years of that medium, Peter Gunn. At the time of his passing, Edwards was in the process of developing a Broadway production based on "Panther", as well as an original work.

Rest in peace, Blake.

Weasel of the Week: Sal Alosi

If you're a football fan, this one's pretty obvious.

Alosi is a heretofore anonymous strength & conditioning coach for the New York Jets who became public enemy #1, at least in the eyes of the press and the Miami Dolphins, on December 12 when he leaned out from the sideline with his knee to trip up the Dolphins' Nolan Carroll. What was his motivation? I get that it's a long-standing rivalry between the two teams, but this just goes beyond common sense. Carroll could've been seriously injured, but he wasn't, and he re-entered the game later on. Miami won, 10-6, to split the season series (the Jets won at Miami earlier in the season).

The Jets, knowing they're under more scrutiny from the New York media than usual after appearing on the HBO pre-season series, Hard Knocks, not to mention the fact that their 2nd year coach, Rex Ryan, has become a media magnet, took action, suspending Alosi indefinitely after it came out that Alosi instructed some of the players to form a wall on the sideline to prevent Carroll or anyone else on the Dolphins from seeing what he was planning to do. The next likely step is Alosi being fired, probably before the end of the regular season.

Yahoo! Sports referenced a college game from years ago as a precedent set for Alosi's actions, but the only other incident that I can think of in the college ranks was when Ohio State coach Woody Hayes assaulted a Clemson player several years ago. That ultimately led to Hayes leaving Ohio State, having soiled his reputation and that of the university. What Alosi did was similarly uncalled for, adding more fuel to the fire between the Jets & the Dolphins, who don't play each other again until next season. By then, Alosi's folly will be a distant memory, punctuated by the weasel ears he gets for further tarnishing the Jets' collective image, as if it wasn't already soiled this season.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Countdown to Christmas: Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962)

Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol is considered the very first animated Christmas special, predating Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer by 2 full years. Some misguided historians mistakenly claim that Carol was an episode of the prime-time series, The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo, but that is factually incorrect. Given the format of the special, however, maybe those historians can amend their findings and consider that Carol would actually be a pilot for Famous Adventures, which also debuted in 1964, but lasted just one season, and all but marked the end of the trail for UPA, which also produced the Magoo theatrical shorts.

Here, now, is the opening sequence to Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, uploaded by christmasman2004 to YouTube:





Jim Backus (Gilligan's Island) is joined by Jack Cassidy (later of He & She), Morey Amsterdam (The Dick Van Dyke Show), and the seemingly omnipresent Paul Frees (Rocky & His Friends), among others. Carol also marks the rare occasion for another UPA character, Gerald McBoing-Boing, to actually talk (actress Joan Gardner provides Gerald's voice), as he plays Tiny Tim. It is a little odd to see Magoo managing to work despite his visual disorder, but it works. The only other musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol", that I can think of right off the top, would be the 1970 feature film, "Scrooge", with Albert Finney. Noted Broadway tunesmiths Jule Styne & Bob Merrill, composed the music for the cartoon, which, appropriately, was set on a Broadway stage. Who knew Magoo knew anything about acting back then?

Rating: B.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Weasel of the Week: Rev. Fred Phelps

"How do I know you're not sick? You could be some deranged lunatic!"--The Fresh Prince (Will Smith), "Parents Just Don't Understand", 1987.

Yesterday, Elizabeth Edwards, the estranged wife of former Presidential hopeful John Edwards, was laid to rest, but if you thought that was the end of the story, you're in for a surprise.

Yes, it's after the fact, but the hate mongers of Westboro Baptist Church are back in the news. They're among the top searches on Yahoo! today, after announcing on Thursday that they were planning to picket Mrs. Edwards' funeral, claiming there are matters in her personal life, aside from the breast cancer that ultimately led to her passing, that these people find offensive. The article I read on CNN's website doesn't specify exactly what these venomous hypocrites are referring to, but the mere fact that Rev. Fred Phelps and his congregation decided to extend their 15 minutes of infamy yet again at someone else's expense is really all you need to know.

The tabloids had a field day when it was revealed that John Edwards had had an affair, so you'd think Phelps would've targeted him. Uh-unh. I'd say Phelps is nuttier than a can of cashews, but then again, that would be an insult to cashews and other nuts of the edible variety.

Phelps claims to be an "old time" minister. No preacher that I've known, heard, or seen on television preaches hate. In the case of Fred Phelps, hypocrisy wears weasel ears, and thus, the bad reverend becomes the 2nd person to have achieved Weasel status twice. Can someone direct the Westboro flock to the nearest sensitivity training course? Reality has called, and they don't want to answer.

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas Time is Here (1965)

From the seminal classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas, here is "Christmas Time is Here", uploaded by Hitsofthecentury. The song opens the show, but ya wonder just how Pigpen can generate a cloud of dust while skating..........



Saturday, December 11, 2010

Countdown to Christmas: The Christmas Song (2008)

Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song" has become as much an icon of the holiday season as any traditional carol. Today, we present actor-singer Jamie Foxx performing "The Christmas Song". The performance was taped 2 years ago at Rockefeller Center in NYC. Uploaded by MrKringle012 to YouTube:





Enough said.

If you really don't know anything about wrestling, you might be a writer for WWE......

It's well known that Vince McMahon doesn't want his writers to have any prior understanding of the wrestling business, and he couldn't be more wrong if he tried. It's like, you write the script the way he wants it, or you don't have a job. In truth, it actually helps if you know something about wrestling history, which automatically disqualifies ye humble scribe from ever working for McMahon.

Let me give you a couple of recent examples.

1. Announcer Michael Cole has been behaving more like a total jerkweed on the air since NXT launched at the end of February. His cheerleading for current WWE champ Michael "The Miz" Mizanin (ex-The Real World) is something a color analyst biased in favor of ring villains such as Miz would do, not the play-by-play announcer. That's not the issue here. What is the issue is the fact that on Monday Night Raw, Cole was the victim of an RKO (jumping Ace Crusher, more commonly known to American wrestling fans as a Diamond Cutter) by former champion Randy Orton, and was not heard from the rest of the night. 4 nights later, on Friday Night Smackdown, Cole was right back at the desk, as if nothing happened. An argument can be made that they were short on announcers since Todd Grisham was noticably missing, replaced by Josh Mathews, who'd filled in for Cole on Monday, but that is not enough of a legitimate excuse. A week earlier on Raw, Cole's blatant interference on behalf of Miz cost his broadcast partner, Memphis legend Jerry "The King" Lawler, an opportunity to win the WWE title, even though it looked rather obvious Lawler wasn't going to win anyway. This breach of ethics on Cole's part would have gotten him booted from the broadcast team, but Raw's anonymous general manager did nothing. Speculation is running rampant that Cole himself could be working covertly as the GM, but they're stalling on the reveal as long as they can, and that's another problem.........

2. Since late June, Raw has been governed, seemingly in absentia, by the mystery GM, whose red herring teases have suggested people as diverse as Stephanie McMahon (who previously served a short term as GM herself in 2008-9 on Raw, and was Smackdown's 1st GM from 2002-3) and Rowdy Roddy Piper, but the audience can see right through such transparent scams. The general consensus seems to be that the fan base is growing impatient for the reveal, which, if they hold to current plans, will be anti-climatic by next month's Royal Rumble PPV. Count me among those who believe that Cole has been working this scam, but the Uncreative drones don't know how to create a suitable backstory. It actually writes itself. Cole (Sean Colthard, a former radio news reporter) has been with WWE since the dawn of the "Attitude Era" in 1997, and would know just about everything there is to know, enough to try to fool the fans into thinking who the GM might be. However, this storyline should've reached its conclusion 2-3 months ago, and is running on fumes now. The sooner the reveal, the better we'll all be.

3. Smackdown's World champ, Kane, is supposed to be a bad guy these days. So why is a long-time villain like Edge, who is supposed to have reformed, acting like he has reverted to his old ways by kidnapping Kane's "father", Paul Bearer, who was written off the show last night? This is the sort of ambiguous storytelling that was prevalent in the "Attitude Era", but as TNA has found out and ignored, such methods don't have a place in pro wrestling in 2010. This is something that could've gotten some foundation by denoting past issues between champion & challenger, dating back 5 years, but McMahon wouldn't allow it, thinking, wrongly of course, that the average wrestling fan has a sound byte mentality and doesn't retain enough of the information processed from viewing.

As usual, McMahon's ignorance of the general wrestling audience is his undoing. Last night's Smackdown was panned by fans on one message board I frequent, largely because the Kane-Edge-Bearer storyline had lasted two weeks too long. Former Freebird Michael Hayes is the show's head writer, but rumors have him on the chopping block because the series has lost ratings in the two months since it moved to SyFy. Again, this sounds like the sort of knee-jerk reaction McMahon would have, and to dump Hayes now would be a mistake. Not that moving to TNA would improve things down in Orlando, because it won't, and because TNA is irretrievably lost in its own morass of stupidity, but because the quality of writing on Smackdown would actually decrease instead of increase.

So what needs to be done? Well, DUH! The agent-producers McMahon has on staff, retired veteran grapplers such as Rick Steamboat, Arn Anderson, Dean Malenko, & Mike Rotundo, would be of greater help if they were added to the creative team. The failed Hollywood rejects McMahon keeps hiring are not the answer, and never have been. Actor Freddie Prinze, Jr., on his 2nd tour of duty with the creative team, is a fan, but he knows enough about what McMahon wants out of him to avoid any hangups. However, it's time to put that fan's knowledge to good use. McMahon's not going to be around forever, contrary to what he told Jeremy Schaap of ESPN a year and a half ago. Creatively, he's spent, bankrupt. While he may be physically fit, the ravages of old age, and one too many unprotected chair shots over the last 20 years, have taken their toll on the old man. In order to keep WWE viable and relevant in the 21st century, Vincent K. McMahon must accept the fact that he needs to cede control of the company right now, and spend the sunset years caring for his five grandchildren. The longer he stalls and stubbornly tries to soldier on, the worse it's going to be. The sad part about it is, he's the only one who doesn't get it. And when he finally does, it may be too late.

Yeah, it sounds like I've said this before, and I have, but it needed to be repeated.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Countdown to Christmas: Caroling with the cast of "Benson" (1982)

Benson, spun-off from the controversial late 70's sitcom, Soap, proved to be a far more popular series than its parent. One example is a Christmas episode, courtesy of Frank Pilato. DiDi Conn (later of Shining Time Station) is on the piano for the medley at the end of the show. Just wait 'til you get to the ending, and Benson himself (Robert Guillaume) sings "O Holy Night".







Enough said! Rating: A.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Countdown to Christmas: Happy Christmas (War Is Over) (1971)

In memory of John Lennon, who passed away 30 years ago today, we present his other big hit of 1971, "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)", in which he's joined by his wife, Yoko Ono, the Plastic Ono Band, and the Harlem Community Choir. Uploaded by Bgarens to YouTube. Enjoy.



Remembering John Lennon (1940-1980)

30 years ago today, the world mourned the loss of a music legend.

Former Beatles co-lead singer John Lennon was assassinated by a deranged fan, Mark David Chapman, who had obtained Lennon's autograph some hours earlier. The incident garnered far more media attention than the passing of Elvis Presley some 3 years earlier. Howard Cosell broke the news during Monday Night Football, perhaps the most important moment of Cosell's tenure at ABC.

Lennon, they say, was taken far too soon at 40. He had the foresight, however, to have plenty of music recorded for future release, and the double album, "Double Fantasy", went straight to number 1, producing the hits, "(Just Like) Starting Over", "Woman", & "Watching the Wheels", all of which either hit #1 or landed in the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.

To me, Lennon's biggest single was 1971's "Imagine". Although I would debate the point of some of his lyrics, in truth, Lennon was postulating what life would be like in a perfect world. Here's the video:





I wasn't that big a Beatles fan growing up, but it did become an acquired taste as an adult. I wonder, though, what John Lennon would've thought if he knew that some of his songs, such as "Revolution", have been licensed to use in commercials (Nike) in the intervening years since his passing. I guess we'll never know.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Countdown to Christmas: "Children Go Where I Send Thee"

The late Tennessee Ernie Ford may be better known for pitching Martha White muffins and hits like "Sixteen Tons", but he also knew how to appeal to children. One example comes, I believe, from his self-titled TV show in the 50's, in which he performs "Children Go Where I Send Thee", which, as Ernie himself explains, can be adapted into a Christmas carol rather easily.



Come to think of it, this is the only time of year where I hear this song nowadays. How about you?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Don Meredith (1938-2010)

Word has just come across the wires of the passing of former NFL quarterback Don Meredith at the age of 72.

Meredith was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in their initial season in 1960 out of Southern Methodist University (SMU), and was named the starting quarterback in 1965. While Meredith never made it to the Super Bowl as a player, he would later get there as an announcer for ABC. Meredith was inducted into the Cowboys' Ring of Honor in 1976.

Meredith retired after the 1968 season, and turned to television, first by joining ABC's Monday Night Football as a commentator. Meredith's trademark was crooning "Turn out the lights, the party's over!" once a game was definitively decided. Meredith left ABC for NBC in the mid-70's for three seasons, then returned to ABC, returning to Monday Night Football for a few more seasons before retiring from broadcasting in 1984. Meredith also dabbled in acting, appearing on Police Story, and was a commercial spokesman for Lipton Tea.

Meredith passed away as the result of a brain hemorrhage. In all probability, Monday Night Football, now on ESPN, will pay tribute to Meredith during tonight's broadcast.

Rest in peace, Don.

Countdown to Christmas: Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (1977)

By the late 70's, Rankin-Bass was looking for original ideas in order to continue producing Christmas specials for the networks. ABC took a flier on Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey, based on a song co-written by Gene Autry. Singer Roger Miller ("King of the Road", "England Swings", etc.) is the narrator.



Nestor will, I think, be in rotation on ABC Family over the next three weeks. Sorry to say, I've never seen the complete story, so I can't give it a rating.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Advertising for Dummies: Miller High Life goes to the dogs (2010)

You've seen this spot a zillion times during sports programming in recent months, but this simply couldn't be passed up. The Westminster Kennel Club's annual dog show takes place every February, right around Valentine's Day, at Madison Square Garden. This year, Miller Brewing and their ad agency thought it might be a good idea to shoot a commercial backstage at the dog show as part of a new series of ads where they're not only pitching traditional Miller High Life, but the new Miller High Life Light (not to be confused with Miller Lite). Moonbatty uploaded this 30 seconds of silliness to YouTube:




You know, of course, that the Miller spots over the last 4 years have brought some rewards for actor Windell Middlebrooks, who landed a gig on Disney Channel's Suite Life on Deck as a result. He's not given much to do aboard the S. S. Tipton, but maybe the Sprouse twins can get him into a commercial with them for Dannon yogurt..........

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Countdown to Christmas: Run-DMC's Christmas in Hollis (1987)

From the 1st "A Very Special Christmas" CD is an amusing number from hip-hop icons Run-DMC, who have a VEVO channel on YouTube, from whence we bring you "Christmas in Hollis":




Apparently, Santa hasn't had time to discipline some of his elves.......