Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Davy Jones (1945-2012)

It has just come to my attention, thanks to the afternoon news, of the passing of actor-singer Davy Jones, former co-lead singer of The Monkees. I say co-lead singer with respect to the fact that Jones shared lead vocal chores more often than not with drummer Micky Dolenz. Anyway, less than 2 weeks after his last concert gig, Jones was admitted to a Florida hospital last night, and passed away earlier today at 66, just 2 months after his birthday.

Jones was perhaps the most visible of the band members after their initial split, guest-starring as himself on The Brady Bunch & The New Scooby-Doo Movies, and, in recent years, did informercials, including one memorable one reuniting him with ex-MTV VJ Martha Quinn (the two acted in a skit when the Monkees shot a Christmas music video for MTV in 1986).

Kisszac uploaded the Monkees' recording of "Daydream Believer", with Davy on lead vocals (and sharing the piano with Peter Tork).



Rest in peace, Davy.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Celebrity Rock: Daddy Wasn't There (2002)

Word is that Mike Myers is actually thinking of making a 4th Austin Powers movie. Well, considering it took Harrison Ford more than 20 years in between the 3rd & 4th Indiana Jones movies, you can't blame the guy for deciding not to wait more than, I don't know, 10?

Anyway, yourdad30 uploaded the 2nd Ming Tea novelty single, "Daddy Wasn't There", from the last Powers movie, "Goldmember". Includes film footage with Michael Caine as Nigel Powers, Austin's absentee (most of the time) pop.



And don't let the fake name fool you, that is ex-Bangles vocalist Susanna Hoffs backing Myers on guitar. Too bad they never bothered to go all the way and release a full-length Ming Tea novelty CD. Peace.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Two games of joy tempered with pain

In the space of 18 hours, two basketball games involving teams in my market were marred by injuries to key players, and those injuries couldn't come at worse times.

On Saturday night, Troy High advanced to the semi-finals of the Section 2 Boys' basketball tournament, with the Big 10 champions dispatching Bethlehem of the Suburban Council. However, as the back page headline in The Sunday Record declared, the Flying Horses were "in no mood to celebrate". One of their star players, Javion Ogunymeni, injured an ankle during the game, and had to be removed from the court on a stretcher. His status for Thursday's semi-final game vs. another Suburban Council school, Shaker, is in doubt.

Earlier this afternoon, on Senior Day at Times Union Center, the Siena Saints closed the regular season by beating Canisius, but, like Troy High the night before, victory came with a terrible price. Late in the second half, Siena's Evan Hymes was injured, and it looked like it might have been a knee or an ankle. With the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) tournament starting later this week, Hymes' availability is questionable at best. The Saints' roster is already decimated by injuries and pre-season eligibility issues that took a couple of players off the roster before a game could even be played. If Hymes is lost for the post-season, Siena conceivably could be one-and-done in Springfield, Ma., come Friday.

Oh, by the way, the Troy-Shaker game on Thursday? It's at the T-U Center. You don't want to think that the injury jinx could strike again so soon, but stranger, crazier things have happened.........

Friday, February 24, 2012

You wouldn't think it'd happen, but it just might.......

Every year, it seems, Time Warner Cable is in a dispute of some kind with some channel, and the subscribers are the ones that suffer the most.

Less than a week after TWC had resolved its issues with MSG Networks, a smaller-scale issue's been raised in my market. ABC affiliate WTEN revealed during its news broadcasts beginning Thursday that the station's parent company, Young Broadcasting, is in a dialogue with TWC to remain available to cable subscribers when the current agreement between the two expires on Wednesday, 2/29. Now, you'd think, this can't be happening. Local channels are virtually protected from such matters, right? Wrong.

The issue between TWC & Young Broadcasting, while it hasn't been publicly acknowledged, in sharp contrast to the very public discourse between TWC & MSG, almost certainly has to be the usual suspect----money. Now, I haven't yet logged on to WTEN's website, where they have the details they'd rather not include during the news for rather obvious reasons, but I can imagine that's the source of the dispute. Nothing's been written up in the local papers because Young Broadcasting and/or TWC would like to keep this matter as private as possible to avoid consumer panic and/or apathy towards either side. In that regard, I salute both parties.

Unlike the MSG issue, in which case TWC was able to have a contingency plan in place, nothing has been set up yet in case they do lose WTEN, which in turn would set a dangerous precedent. It wasn't that long ago that Fox affiliate WXXA had a similar issue, but that was resolved before any blackout could be initiated. That having been said, it's very likely WTEN will also avoid a blackout with an 11th hour agreement by Wednesday. With ABC's roster of primetime shows, including Modern Family and the freshman hit, Once Upon a Time, plus the lone soap opera still on the network, the venerable General Hospital, WTEN cannot afford to lose so many viewers.

When cable television first came to upstate NY nearly 40 years ago, it made changing channels that much easier on the local level, but no one in their wildest dreams could imagine that in 2012, the local channels that were part of the lifeblood of local cablers back then would be endangered just because of a few extra dollars. It's funny how times change, and sometimes, not for the better.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Weasel of the Week: National Enquirer

When you're a celebrity, you have to take the risks of being exploited by those whose loyalty is only to the almighty dollar. When you're a once-proud supermarket tabloid like the National Enquirer, and you've lost readers left & right to the internet, among other things, you tend to go back to doing the worst things imaginable that have gotten you in trouble before.

Such is the case here, as the Enquirer has come under fire for publishing a cover photo for its latest issue that it says is of singer Whitney Houston in her coffin on the day of her funeral. They've pulled this stunt before, first with Elvis Presley in 1977, and then John Lennon 3 years later. The idea is to try to lure in readers and make some quick cash, but, as I've said, the supermarket tabloids are fighting a losing battle with internet gossip sites like TMZ.com, which is owned & operated by lawyer-TV personality Harvey Levin (The People's Court), and bloggers like the notorious Perez Hilton, who recently got some primo face time on WWE Monday Night Raw. I can't think of too many people laying down $3, or whatever the cover price is these days, for a weekly that used to buy advertising time to promote itself as a legit magazine.

There are those that will claim the photo is a phony, citing the fact that the singer's family requested a closed coffin for the funeral. Others say that the tabloid paid off someone at the funeral home for an "exclusive". No matter how you slice it, it's still wrong, and it always has been wrong. Like Elvis & Lennon, Whitney became a pop culture icon during her peak years in the mid-to-late-80's through the early 90's. The Enquirer seems to think there is a collector's market for anything connected to Houston at this time. Not that I can fathom.

The Enquirer has famously been sued by other celebrities, including TV icon Carol Burnett, so they've tripped themselves up enough times to know better, but, as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures. In this age where traditional print news is giving way to the digital world, the supermarket tabloids are a dying breed. For lacking the journalistic common sense to leave well enough alone, the editors of the National Enquirer have been awarded Weasel ears, along with paws & tail, for this latest, desperate get-rich-quick scam.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

On DVD: The Restless Gun (1957)

Timeless Media Group has become a major player in the distribution of classic TV DVD's, particularly those obtained from the NBC-Universal library. Ivan Shreve, Jr., over at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, has kept readers apprised of pending TMG releases, and with good reason. With classic Westerns becoming popular again in cable reruns on Encore Westerns, Me-TV, et al, a new generation of viewers are discovering a lot of these shows for the first time.

TMG, as noted previously, also acquired some other properties as well, including Goodson-Todman's Branded, which we reviewed the other day. This time, our focus is on the 1957-59 NBC series, The Restless Gun, which starred John Payne.

Restless, which was launched as a back-door pilot on another NBC series, Schlitz Playhouse, was based on the radio Western, The Six Shooter, which starred movie icon Jimmy Stewart. The character's name was changed when Restless went to series to Vint Bonner, likely for copyright reasons. Restless was actually more like an anthology in and of itself in that several guest stars, as was the custom in those days, appeared multiple times in different roles. Additionally, Restless has a huge connection to the iconic series that replaced it on NBC in 1959, Bonanza. Actors Dan Blocker, Ray Teal, and Michael Landon each appeared on Restless, with Landon in the Schlitz Playhouse episode, Teal in at least 1 Restless episode, and Blocker in at least 5 episodes that I could count from reading a Wikipedia entry on the show. 2 of those episodes appear on an 8-episode sampler that Timeless released in 2007. That sampler also includes the pilot, which also co-starred Andrew Duggan (later of Lancer) & William Hopper, better known as private eye Paul Drake on Perry Mason. Other notables include Claude Akins, who appeared in at least 2 other episodes aside from one on the sampler, and John Ericson, later of Honey West.

Edit, 11/23/16: YouTube deleted the video previously shown. In its place is a fan-created montage.



The sampler does include the NBC logo prior to the start of the pilot episode. Wikipedia, foolishly, listed Schlitz Playhouse as a CBS series, which tells you something about contributors and their attempts at research.

After leaving NBC, Restless Gun was picked up by ABC to air on weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings for the 1959-60 season. I'd not be surprised to find the show currently on Encore Westerns' roster.

Rating: A.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Seussology: The Lorax (1972)

With a feature film adaptation of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax hitting theatres in about 2 weeks, I thought it might be a good idea to remind one and all that this will not be the first adaptation of the tale.

DePatie-Freleng, in conjunction with Dr. Seuss' own Cat In The Hat Productions, produced a half-hour musical adaptation for CBS in 1972, which has not seen the light of day much since its initial broadcast. Actor Eddie Albert (ex-Green Acres) narrates, while the rest of the voices are performed by Bob Holt, who spent the bulk of his career working for DFE during the 70's. I remember seeing this when it first aired nearly 40 years ago, fascinated by the plot, but too young to understand its message.

The 2012 version features the voices of Zak Efron ("High School Musical"), Betty White (Hot In Cleveland), Danny DeVito (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), and country singer Taylor Swift. DeVito voices the Lorax, and the feature length format pads the story even further than DFE did in 1972.

Here, then, is the original cartoon version.



I think this is where we got the phrase, "tree-hugger" from, don't you?

Rating: A.

Celebrity Rock: Gomer Pyle sings!

Tennnnn-hutttt! While Gomer Pyle, USMC was on the air, it served as a showcase for star Jim Nabors in more ways than one. Gomer was first introduced on The Andy Griffith Show as a simple, innocent country boy whose good intentions often led to chaos. But when it came time for Gomer to sing, the country drawl disappeared, and a powerful singing voice emerged.

One example is this clip, with Gomer performing "The Impossible Dream". Small wonder, then, that Nabors was also a million selling recording artist during the 60's.



Enough said.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A weasel won a war

After 6 weeks, MSG Networks have returned to Time Warner Cable systems throughout New York, and, particularly in the upstate corridor, the deal also brings the music channel Fuse back to TWC, after it had been removed in mid-December due to low ratings.

What that tells me is that MSG/Knicks/Rangers/Cablevision owner James Dolan got what he wanted out of the deal, and he can thank Jeremy Lin, the overnight sensation who has led the Knicks to a 7-game winning streak headed into play tonight against New Orleans, for giving him the leverage he needed to broker the deal. NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman got the two sides back to the negotiating table, and, you have to assume that once TWC suits realized the amount of ad revenues lost because of the current successes of the Knicks & Rangers, magnified by the hyperactive press coverage given to Lin, the 2nd year player out of Harvard who is also the first Asian-American to be a starter for an NBA team, the handwriting was on the wall.

For TWC subscribers, the "Sports Pass" free preview, which enabled viewers to save $6 on channels like ESPN Classic, Fuel, & the CBS Sports Network, will soon come to an end, just as college baseball season heats up and college basketball & hockey wind down toward their post-seasons.

In the end, money talked, bulloney walked, and a weasel walked away like a thief in the night.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Gary Carter (1954-2012)

He was nicknamed "The Kid" because of his youthful enthusiasm and infectious smile, but he also was a multi-time All-Star with the Expos & Mets, and won a World Series with the Amazin's in 1986. Today, the sports world mourns the passing of Gary Carter at 57 following a bout with brain cancer.

Carter was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor less than a year ago, just a few short years removed from induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. It was Carter who was a hero for the NL All-Stars in the 1981 game, the first game played after a strike that season. He was one of the offensive leaders for the '86 Mets, and, with first basenan Keith Hernandez (now a broadcaster for the team), he was one of their defensive leaders as well. Carter finished his career in 1992, and was inducted into the Hall as a member of his original club, the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals). He had played with the Giants & Dodgers after leaving the Mets. In recent years, Carter had been involved in the Mets organization, working with their minor leaguers.

I would imagine that the Mets will posthumously honor Carter by retiring his number (8) this season. It would, in fact, be the right thing to do.

Rest in peace, "Kid".

On DVD: Branded (1965)

Branded was the 2nd of three post-The Rifleman series for Chuck Connors during the latter part of the 60's. In between Rifleman & Branded, Connors had starred in the crime drama, Arrest & Trial, and would follow Branded with Ivan Tors' little-remembered Cowboy In Africa.

Branded took Connors back to the Old West, but this time as a disgraced Army Captain, Jason McCord, falsely accused of cowardice against the enemy and court-martialed. McCord now wandered the plains, helping people in need whenever possible, but often is reminded of the public perception that he was, supposedly, a coward.

Branded creator Larry Cohen mined the lone-man's crusade again in two other series: Coronet Blue, which debuted later in 1965, then was revived in rerun form a couple of years later, and the Quinn Martin science fiction opus, The Invaders, neither of which lasted very long, either. Branded was an anomaly of a different kind, as it was produced by game show moguls Mark Goodson & Bill Todman, though, as you will see in the following video, credit for Goodson-Todman was removed from syndicated prints in later years.

Timeless Media released not only the complete series on DVD, but a smaller, 5-episode sampler that includes a color 3-parter guest-starring John Carradine and MacDonald Carey (later of Days of Our Lives). Other familiar faces include Claude Akins, Robert Q. Lewis, Alex Cord (later of Airwolf) and June Lockhart (ex-Lassie, would later star in Lost in Space later in '65). The sampler also includes a Connors-starring episode of the little-remembered 1955 anthology series, Frontier, in which Connors plays a gun-for-hire, uncharacteristically smug & glib, in comparison to the stoic characters that became his trademark.

SpudTV uploaded the open & close. As I noted earlier, the Goodson-Todman logo was skipped over. This comes from the episode, "The Survivor", with Alex Cord.



Branded currently airs on Me-TV Saturday afternoons at 12 noon (ET).

Rating: B.

Only in the South: A High School sacrifices its post-season berth due to a feud with another school

In October, a high school football game in Georgia was marred by a violent, bloody brawl, and, apparently, the bad blood between the two schools doesn't stop on the gridiron.

Warren County High has chosen to forfeit all of its post-season berths to avoid any playoff matchups with rival Hancock High. What has brought this to light is a Yahoo! article that tells us that the Warren County boys' basketball team isn't happy about the decision. They wanted to prove they could play their game without incident, hoping there wouldn't be a repeat of the messy melee vs. Hancock 4 months ago that left WCHS coach David Daniel needing major surgery after being bludgeoned by a Hancock player's helmet. However, the Warren County School District, fearing for the safety of their student-athletes and fans, tried in vain to move their team to another sectional bracket, but were turned down. Left with no other choice outside of playing Hancock, WCHS opted for a forfeit. Not just in basketball, mind you, but in all sports.

It's an unprecedented step, borne out of violence, bloodshed, and, as noted, fear. You never see this sort of thing in any schools anywhere else. It won't solve the problems between Warren County & Hancock, though. What if the two schools are scheduled to meet in football again this fall? What happens then? That is left up to the officials of the two districts to settle between now and the start of the next school year. By then, in all probability, the people largely responsible for the October incident will be long gone, and then they can start with clean slates.

Well, we can hope.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

On DVD: Dusty's Trail (1973)

"Those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it."--George Santayana

Let me start with a quick history lesson.

In 1966, with Gilligan's Island entering its 3rd & final season, series creator-producer Sherwood Schwartz sold a 2nd series to CBS, It's About Time. As with Gilligan, it was produced through Phil Silvers' production company and United Artists. By the end of the season, both Gilligan & Time had been cancelled. Gilligan, of course, became an iconic classic, much beloved in reruns nearly 50 years later.

In 1973, The Brady Bunch and its animated spin-off, The Brady Kids, entered their final seasons on ABC (5th & 2nd, respectively). Not willing to tempt fate again, even though he did have a new series ready, Schwartz opted to test the waters of syndication with his latest creation, Dusty's Trail. Unfortunately for Schwartz, the fates didn't smile on him this time, either. Dusty rode off into the sunset, pulled from the air by producer-distributor Metromedia 6 months after its debut.

What was the problem? It was really a reincarnation of Gilligan, only this time it was set in the Old West, with a wagon & stagecoach separated from the rest of its wagon train. Scout "Dusty" Boots (Bob Denver) had screwed up, and took the wagon off course. From there, Dusty, wagonmaster Callahan (Forrest Tucker, ex-F-Troop), and 5 passengers ventured to locate the rest of the train. Suffice it to say, the series ended without a proper resolution.

Bob Denver had enjoyed some minor success after Gilligan with The Good Guys (1968-70), but while he claimed in interviews that Dusty was a favorite of his, it wasn't an icon like Gilligan or even Maynard Krebs, his role on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Not only that, but the perception was that Dusty was 2-3 times dumber than the other two characters put together. The rest of the cast corresponded with other Gilligan characters, including the sweeter-than-honey Southern belle (Lori Saunders, ex-Petticoat Junction), the aformentioned wagonmaster, and the brainiac (Bill Cort). However, the chemistry just wasn't there.

Country singer Mel Street performed the title song. Uploaded by MarktheSaiyan:



Undaunted, Schwartz & Denver teamed up again the next year, reuniting most of the Gilligan cast for the animated New Adventures series for ABC & Filmation, which lasted three seasons (1974-77), even though only 1 year's worth of episodes was produced, enabling Denver to try one more series, 1975's Far Out Space Nuts, bringing him back to CBS. That same year, Tucker reunited with F-Troop's Larry Storch for the Ghost Busters, also for CBS, and coupled with Space Nuts as part of the network's Saturday morning block. All three have been reviewed over on my other blog, Saturday Morning Archives.

For what it's worth, I gave away the ending already. The two Brady series ended their runs 5 1/2 months after Dusty's Trail did, meaning that Schwartz's previous misfortune had indeed been repeated.

Rating: D-.

Dunce Cap Award: Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

It was not so long ago we gave a set of Weasel ears to boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. for shirking responsibility and using the celebrity card to avoid jail time so he can go through with plans for a fight in May. Today, we're adding a Dunce Cap. Why? Because Mayweather put his foot in his mouth on a hot topic having nothing to do with his chosen sport.

By now, I think you've all read that Mayweather tried to play the race card as it relates to the sudden rise of Jeremy Lin, the 2nd year NBA player who has become a phenomenon in New York, playing for the Knicks, who have won 6 in a row with a win last night in Toronto. Yes, Lin is an Asian-American, the first such player to start for an NBA team. Yes, he's from Harvard, which rarely places anyone in the NBA. Shoot, there haven't been many players from an Ivy League school, period, since another Knick, Bill Bradley, a Princeton grad and later a US Senator, starred on 2 championship teams in the early 70's.

What is Mayweather's problem, then? I honestly don't know, and I don't get why he had to throw cold water on the kid. Lin's rise came with 2 veteran stars, Carmelo Anthony & Amar'e Stoudamire, sidelined by injuries. Stoudamire was to return last night vs. Toronto, and Anthony is due later this week. Not only that, but that rise came right around the time the Giants prepared for, and won, the Super Bowl, so there is some momentum carrying over. New York has a new sports hero. Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News wrote the other day that Lin's sudden run of success may lead to the end of the dispute between MSG & Time Warner Cable. While I'm not sure that would be true, it would be a contributing factor if it did happen before the end of the season. In short, Lin has become the savior the Knicks had been waiting for, even if it's in the short term.

For the Asian community, Lin's success comes at a perfect time, as well. Yao Ming retired after injuries had limited his availability for the Houston Rockets the last few years, cutting short a successful career here in the US. Ming is back in China, and I believe is involved in the sport in a different capacity these days. I believe he would be very happy seeing the success Lin is enjoying. The New York press, of course, has fallen in love with Lin, but it's a matter of time before they turn on him when his hot streak runs out.

So, again, where does "Money" Mayweather get off playing the race card? Lin is the kind of role model that Mayweather only wishes he could be, and it bothers him. Face it, dude, you made your bed, now lie in it, and take the Dunce Cap with you.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Video Valentine: You Know I Love You--Don't You? (1986)

Howard Jones' 1986 hit, "You Know I Love You--Don't You?", from his CD, "One to One", would be appropriate today for those couples unsure about the state of their relationships and need reassurance. It would be about 3-4 years before Jones would scale the Billboard Hot 100 again, however. Uploaded by utahwrx:



Happy Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Video Valentine: My Valentine (2012)

Paul McCartney is back with a brand new single, "My Valentine", from his new CD, "Kisses on the Bottom".

Noisey uploaded the following video, with guest star Natalie Portman:



Sunday, February 12, 2012

Whitney Houston (1963-2012)

The music world, and all of Hollywood for that matter, is mourning the passing of singer-actress-model Whitney Houston, who passed away last night, six months shy of her 49th birthday, on the eve of the Grammy Awards.

Whitney exploded onto the scene in the mid-80's, with hits like "I Wanna Dance With Somebody", "How Will I Know", "The Greatest Love of All", and "One Moment In Time", the latter a theme for the 1988 Summer Olympics. She made her film debut in 1992's "The Bodyguard", opposite Kevin Costner, and scored a #1 hit with her cover of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You", which has since become more closely associated with Whitney than with Parton, who also wrote the tune.



Whitney came from a musical family. Her mother, Cissy, is a gospel singer. Her cousin was 60's pop star Dionne Warwick. The legendary "Queen of Soul", Aretha Franklin, who later became a label-mate of Houston's at Arista, was her godmother. Her ex-husband, Bobby Brown, recorded a duet with her for his 1992 CD, but their union fell apart years later due to her issues with substance abuse, among other things. Tonight, at the Grammys, they will no doubt honor the memory of Whitney, and remember when she was atop the charts, and a role model for so many young performers.

Rest in peace, Whitney.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Video Valentine: I'll Be Good To You (1989)

Chaka Khan was in the midst of a comeback in the late 80's when she joined forces with Quincy Jones and the late Ray Charles for "I'll Be Good To You", off Jones' 1989 CD, "Back on the Block".



Now, how many couples have made that promise to each other over the years?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Section 2's hottest basketball ticket of 2012 needs a bigger venue

Last month, my alma mater, Troy High, upset Christian Brothers Academy of Albany, the 2-time defending champions of the Big 10 league in New York's section 2. Troy took over first place in the league, and held it until the rematch on Tuesday in Troy, in front of a sold-out, standing-room-only crowd, which CBA won in overtime, 52-50. I only wish I could've been there, but I knew going in I had no chance.

It has happened before with CBA, across the river in Albany. Rivalry games against in-city foes Albany High & Bishop Maginn have sometimes been played at the Washington Avenue Armory, especially against Maginn, which boasted the likes of Talor Battle, who graduated from Penn State last year. The gyms in the respective schools couldn't handle the likely overflow. In Troy's case, they couldn't have anticipated the packed house on Tuesday, but they should've. Now, they have to enact a contingency plan within the next week, in case the two teams meet again.

CBA closes its regular season tonight, while Troy has 2 games remaining. Assuming both teams win out, they will meet in a 1-game playoff to determine the league champion next weekend. However, there is just no way they can play the game at either school's gym. A neutral site, especially a much larger venue, has to come into play. The best Troy can offer is to play the game a block away at RPI's Houston Field House, which has hosted basketball in the past (i.e. Harlem Globetrotters), and can seat as many as 4,000-6,000 fans for a game, maybe more if they can reconfigure the venue for basketball. However, if RPI has a hockey home game that night, there goes that option, right out the window, forcing the game to Albany.

The Armory is available, but hasn't hosted a basketball game since the IBL's Legends won their championship nearly 2 years ago. The Legends now play their home games, ironically, at CBA, due to some sort of dispute between the league or the team and the Armory. Then, there's the cavernous Times Union Center, home to Siena College's men's basketball team, which routinely draws anywhere from 6,000-10,000 fans on a given night. A simple high school game won't draw that many, but there'd be enough room to accomodate fans from both THS & CBA, especially if the game has to be booked on short notice.

The common link between THS & CBA is Troy AD Paul Reinisch, who was a multi-sport star at CBA a number of years ago. If anyone has mixed emotions about the season series between the two schools, it'd be Reinisch, but, assuming he still has connections at CBA, it wouldn't take much to negotiate a neutral site for the playoff, should it happen. As with RPI, the only thing standing in the way of playing at the TU Center would be if Siena or the Albany Devils has the venue booked next weekend, forcing the game to go to the ancient Armory, and, for all we know, that would be the best bet.

With all that having been said, the only concern remaining is whether or not any of the schools in Section 2 can merit national attention from ESPN for their high school showcase. Why should schools in the South, Midwest, & West get all the attention? I'd be willing to bet that some Section 2 schools might be worthy of national attention, because it'd be the surest way to get scouts looking to the Northeast to find the next Jimmer Fredette or Talor Battle. Just what are they waiting for?

Hey, all I know is that if there's a playoff at the TUC or the Armory next Friday, I'm there. And I may just dust off that old THS basketball button.........

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Weasel of the Week: Marge Phelps

The late Andy Warhol postulated several years ago that "in the future, everyone would be famous for 15 minutes". Some people just haven't figured out that 15 minutes of fame can go very quickly, and isn't a gift card that can be renewed with impunity.

Case in point: The dreaded Westboro Baptist Church is back in the news, just two weeks after the church's spokeswoman, lawyer Marge Phelps, declared they would protest the funeral of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. This time, the congregation is pointing their wagons to the Northwest, where they won't find a welcome wagon, but, more than likely, a very angry mob that is sick & tired of the Phelps family and their misguided flock leeching off tragedy to push their hateful agenda.

Earlier this week, Josh Powell, already a person of interest in the disappearance of his wife 2 years ago, had brutally slain his two children with his axe, then blew up his house, with himself and the children in it, in a bizarre murder-suicide. All that did was ratchet up speculation that Powell had also killed his wife, and realized the police were on the verge of reaching that conclusion, or at least he thought so. The children are being laid to rest this weekend, and, according to an article on MSN.com, the Westboro Wack Pack is headed to the funeral, using the occasion to protest the state of Washington allowing same-sex marriage. That's what has the citizenry up in arms. That the funeral of two innocent little boys is being used to push someone else's agenda, and raise a ruckus.

Westboro Baptist has become infamous for protesting at military funerals, but the truth of the matter is, the funerals are the wrong place to be. If they've got a problem with same-sex marriage, they're better off taking their case directly to the state capitol. Their continued use of funerals to push their hateful agenda has gotten tiresome, and now, every time Marge Phelps announces they're going to protest, someone will form a counter-group to block them. Rev. Fred Phelps insists on misinterpreting the Bible to suit his ends, but he's too far gone to see the error of his ways. His daughter is the same way, and for the first time, earns her own set of weasel ears. Just for kicks, we'll give her the snout, tail, & paws to go with it, because, let's face it, pilgrims, it'll save the trouble of mentioning Westboro in the Weasel of the Week ever again.

Charity is spoiled by a spoilsport

I just read this interesting piece on Yahoo!'s Prep Rally blog, and I thought I'd share some of the details.

In Omaha, Nebraska the other night, Burke High's women's basketball team wore pink uniforms as part of a fund-raising effort on behalf of the Make-a-Wish foundation for a game against Columbus High. In the 3rd quarter, Columbus AD John Krogstrand called attention to the fact that since Burke was the home team, they were supposed to wear white uniforms, per league rules. Why wait until the 3rd quarter to do something like that, to spoil the theme of the evening? The Burke women were wearing the pink uniforms from the start of the game, and those uniforms would be auctioned off after the game. The bottom line is that game officials accessed a technical foul on Burke. Columbus took the lead, and coasted to a 62-47 victory that is now tainted because Krogstrand chose to put strict rule enforcement ahead of charity and fellowship. Krogstrand alerted his coach, Dave Licari, who in turn called it to the referees' attention.

The Burke players are still trying to fathom how they could be penalized for something like that. We've seen pro baseball players wear special "alternate" uniforms, sanctioned by Major League Baseball for marketing purposes. That's one thing. Minor league teams, like the Tri City Valleycats, have worn special 1-time-only alternate uniforms that were later auctioned off, again with the blessing of their governing body. As it turns out, Burke's AD didn't dot all the i's and cross the t's to get the proper sanctions to allow the women to wear the alternate uniforms in time.

There are protocols in place, and they weren't followed, but what is worse is that the Yahoo! account of the game makes it sound like Krogstrand engaged in a little technical gamesmanship. While the Burke AD has owned up to his mistake, his players are the ones who ended up suffering. The technical foul did a number on them psychologically and took them right out of the game. In case anyone's interested, Burke HS raised $2, 600 that night for Make-a-Wish, but now, they may be reluctant to do something like that again unless the proper protocols are followed.

Maybe next time, the schools should get together and plan everything out in advance so there isn't a repeat.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Video Valentine: The One You Love (1982)

Mrgunick uploaded this clip, from Glenn Frey's first solo album, "No Fun Aloud", released in 1982.

"The One You Love" was the only major single to gain major airplay, peaking at #15 on the Hot 100. However, in sharp contrast, the video was rarely, if ever, seen on MTV back then.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Musical Interlude: Manic Monday (1986)

If they had bothered to make the feature film version of Josie & the Pussycats sooner than they did, say, about 15 years earlier, they would've had the perfect band to provide the soundtrack----The Bangles.

The all-girl group had debuted with IRS Records in the first half of the 80's, but their only hit from that period was "Hero Takes a Fall". IRS subsequently released the Bangles, who then signed with Columbia. "Different Light", released in the winter of 1986, took off like a rocket. The first single, "Manic Monday", was written by Prince (under an assumed name) and went to #1 on the Hot 100.



Now, you try telling me that Susanna Hoffs and friends couldn't cover any of Josie's songs............

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Lombardi Trophy returns to New York!!! (Giants win the Super Bowl)

Super Bowl XLVI has just ended, with Tom Brady's last-second Hail Mary pass falling incomplete in the end zone, giving the New York Giants their 4th Super Bowl win, 21-17. It is the 2nd win for Big Blue in the Tom Coughlin era, as he matches Bill Parcells' 2 rings.

Brady, the poster boy for the NFL's policy of overprotecting their star players, committed an odd faux pas early, as a long, incomplete pass was ruled as intentional grounding, simply because, in the officials' view, and I found this strange, to be honest with you, there was no Patriot receiver in the area where the pass was thrown. The officials ruled that Brady threw the ball away to avoid a sack in the end zone, but the result was the same, a safety for the Giants, giving New York an early 2-0 lead. Thing was, Brady's pass flew a good 20 yards or better before it landed on the turf.

Ironically, the Giants spotted Atlanta a 2-0 lead in the Wild Card round, then routed the Falcons after Eli Manning was called for intentional grounding in the end zone. In that instance, Manning's pass didn't travel very far, but the dire straits were enough for the yellow flag.

Manning promptly took the Giants down the field on a touchdown drive to extend the lead to 9-0. New England led, 10-9 at the break. It was 17-15 when the Giants began their final drive. Ahmad Bradshaw scored, but according to the announcers, it appeared the Giants wanted Bradshaw to take a knee before going in, the idea being they wanted to let the clock run and prevent Brady & the Patriots from making one last drive. However, the defense provided Bradshaw with redemption, holding firm, and even tagging Brady for a 6-yard sack. Only a penalty for 12 men on the field prevented this from being a clean drive for the defense. New England gained 2 first downs, but time was slipping away, and after spending their last timeout after the sack, New England was just about done. The final play, with 5 seconds left, was the Hail Mary that ended up incomplete.

Brady's quest to become the first QB since Joe Montana to win 4 Super Bowls ended in failure. He remains tied with Troy Aikman (Dallas) at 3, but there is always next year, and the year after that. Brady's wife, model Gisele Bundchen, made headlines when she had asked fans for prayers for her husband at mid-week.

Had the Patriots won, sure, those prayers would've been answered. The team had dedicated their season to the memory of owner Robert Kraft's late wife, hence her initials on their uniforms. That storyline had been largely ignored all season, underplayed because, well, these are the Patriots, the supposed "evil empire" of the NFL, the football equivalent of the New York Yankees, derided as the "evil empire" by Boston fans in particular. In New York, they weren't getting much sympathy from the press, except maybe the New York Times, the only newspaper in the city proper that doesn't deal in tabloid journalism.

Fans in upstate New York are hoping the Lombardi Trophy comes their way, along with the Giants. After a truncated training camp in New Jersey last year because of the lockout, Giants management has hinted that they would return to Albany this July. We won't know for sure for a while yet, but you can bet if it happens, the University at Albany will be a happening place well before school starts.

As for the overhyped commercials? Fuhgeddaboutit! I wasn't paying much attention this year. About the only thing that I actually bothered with was Elton John for Pepsi. Lah-de-dah. The cameo at the end by Flavor Flav (ex-Public Enemy) was overkill.

Now, basketball & hockey take center stage until baseball Spring Training starts in a couple of weeks. Yeah, whatever.......

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ben Gazzara (1930-2012)

Most of today's audience will remember Ben Gazzara more for movies such as "Road House" and "The Big Lebowski", but the baby boomer generation remembers him as Paul Bryan, an attorney who'd been given as much as 18 months to live, in Run For Your Life, back in the mid-60's. On Friday, Gazzara lost his battle with cancer at 81.

Windesong uploaded this clip from Life, with guest star Katharine Ross ("The Graduate"):



Rest in peace, Ben. In a way, Paul Bryan now can stop running......

One last game to play

The Super Bowl is tomorrow. The way the tabloids in New York are hyping it to the moon, you'd think it was a life-or-death struggle. It isn't. It is New York vs. Boston for all the marbles, for the 2nd time in 5 years in The Big Game.

For the New England Patriots, it is about revenge, times two. Not only is it about payback for losing 4 years ago, spoiling a "perfect" season tainted by scandal and charitable officiating in key games, but for a Week 9 loss at Foxborough in November, ending a lengthy home winning streak that also benefited from charitable officiating. Tom Brady aspires to be among the great QB's in Super Bowl history, right up there with Joe Montana & Terry Bradshaw, the latter now a Fox analyst, both of whom won 4 Super Bowls. Brady is tied with another Fox analyst Troy Aikman, better known to other folks as Hulk Hogan's sidekick in those Rent-a-Center ads, with 3. None of those wins has been a blowout, and neither will this one.

For the New York Giants, it is to prove that win in November was not a fluke, and their QB, Eli Manning, can back up his pre-season boast of being among the league's elite. The overanalysis of his statement was done to death well before November, but he has mastered the art of the 4th quarter comeback, a Montana specialty. David Tyree, Steve Smith, and Plaxico Burress are gone, but now you have Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks, & Victor Cruz.

The Pats' defense has been suspect most of the season. Their defensive front has stiffened at the right time, but the secondary is another story. Vulnerable to the big play? Yep. They have to hope their front four can rattle Manning, but at the same time, the Giants have to get around the Patriots' offensive line and their propensity for holding---and not getting called for it 90% of the time. They hassled Brady last time, threw him off his game. I look for more of the same.

I have friends who have rooting interests on both sides. The Patriots lost my respect a long time ago, making this pick an easy one. Air traffic control would be on full alert if this game wasn't played indoors, but it will be a track meet. The Giants win again, 31-30.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Weasel of the Week: Yael Rothschild

You've probably heard about this on the news. After Novak Djokovic won the Australian Open tennis tournament last weekend, he threw his shirt into the crowd, intended for a 14 year old fan, Melissa Cook. This week's Weasel, Yael Rothschild, intercepted, thinking it was open season on the shirt. She ignored Ms. Cook, and the other fans around them.

Since then, according to a Yahoo! article, Mrs. Rothschild has been besieged. Someone on Facebook gave out her address, and the Rothschilds have had to deal with----wait for it----death threats. She put the shirt up for auction, instead of doing the right thing and giving the shirt outright to Ms. Cook, whose mother put up the winning bid for the shirt, the proceeds going to a anti-bullying charity.

So what's wrong with this picture?

1. Mrs. Rothschild made the first mistake by snatching the shirt away from Ms. Cook. She didn't know that it was Djokovic's intention to give the teenager the shirt.

2. Someone decided to embarass Mrs. Rothschild by announcing her address online. We don't know who this idiot is, otherwise, he/she would also get a set of weasel ears.

3. Other morons decided to make pointless threats toward Mrs. Rothschild. This is similar, though not the same as the threats issued to football players in Baltimore & San Francisco after their teams lost their conference championship games nearly 2 weeks ago.

4. Mrs. Rothschild, instead of trying to contact the Cook family, puts the shirt up for charity auction. This says she didn't want to profit from the incident, and chose the charity as a means of making amends. While that's understandable, there's also the old fashioned means of using a phone book to locate the Cooks and call them personally to arrange a delivery and a major mea culpa. Going the auction route only exacerbated the entire scenario.

5. Mrs. Cook was forced to spend nearly $6,000 to pay for a shirt that was meant to be a souvenir for her daughter, making her even more of a victim.

Bottom line: Mrs. Yael Rothschild's selfish act, followed by a questionable attempt at charity, gets her a pair of weasel ears. Free of charge, of course.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Video Valentine: Theme from "Love Story" (1971)

"Love Story" was one of the biggest movies of 1971, based on the book by Erich Segal. The theme song was sung by Andy Williams, whose Saturday night variety show on NBC was nearing its end, but Williams took the opportunity to sing "Love Story" live on his show. Uploaded by Yootami to YouTube:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Don Cornelius (1936-2012)

As Dick Clark would become synonymous with American Bandstand, so would Don Cornelius with his inner-city answer, Soul Train, which launched as a local series out of Chicago in 1970, then went national a year later. Overall, Cornelius presided over the "hippest trip in America" for 23 seasons before stepping down in 1993. Today, we are learning of his passing at 75, reportedly from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

After stepping away from the cameras, Cornelius would continue to oversee Soul Train, turning over the MC duties to others, including actors Dorian Gregory (ex-Charmed) and Shemar Moore (now on Criminal Minds). Behind the scenes, though, Cornelius' marriage came to an end, though it wasn't quite as public as most celebrity marriages are, and thus, it wasn't quite as known.

In tribute to Cornelius, we present a clip from the 1st national season of Soul Train, with Cornelius interviewing Stevie Wonder, before Stevie performs "Superstition".



Rest in peace, Don.