Saturday, December 16, 2017

Tigers vs. Horses: Kingston @ Troy (boys' basketball), 12/16/17

There is a natural progression in team sports when it comes to the frequency of games. We're accustomed to seeing NBA basketball teams play as many as 3-4 games per week during a regular season that stretches over 7 months (October-April). College teams will play a maximum of 3 regular season games a week. High schools usually have 2.

It's only the first month of the high school season, but it could be argued that some teams may be dealing with sudden fatigue. For example, Saratoga's women's team has played three games in four days, counting a matinee home game today. For another, tonight's non-league home game vs. Kingston was the third for the Troy High boys team in five days.

Unfortunately for coach Greg Davis, fatigue may have been a fatal factor. He dressed only 10 players, as seniors Joe Casale & Avery Curley sat out in street clothes, seemingly healthy scratches. Kiasone Loadholt, a junior, was absent, perhaps injured. That meant more minutes for some of the bench players who otherwise wouldn't be called on so often.

Despite the manpower shortage, Troy ran out to an early lead on Kingston in the first quarter, forcing coach Ron Kelder to call a timeout. He adjusted his defense, going to a heavy pressure defense for much of the game. This strategy seemed to work, as the Tigers contested just about everything. In contrast, no matter what Troy tried, the Flying Horses couldn't contain Kingston's Damani Thomas, who led all scorers with 27 points. Similarly, Mohonasen's Duncan Tallman burned Troy for 33 points in a losing effort last night. Chris Wright, held to 2 points in the first half, came to life in the second half, scoring 24 in all, to back up Thomas. It was Wright who forced overtime with a key three pointer in the 4th quarter.

The extra session, unfortunately for Troy, was the final nail in the coffin. Tyquan Watson's only points of the night came on the eventual game winner, and Kingston outscored Troy, 12-6, in overtime to come away with a 76-70 win, snapping Troy's three-game winning streak. Nazaire Merritt led Troy with 20 points. Alonzo Alexander had 15, but only 2 after halftime, and Latyce Faison had 14.

Things will get back to normal for Troy on Tuesday, as Averill Park comes to town. The Warriors may be looking for a little payback, since they were blown out of the building the last time they came to Troy 2 seasons ago. Just two nights later, the boys will travel to Schenectady to play the Patriots in the last game before the Christmas break. Oh, by the way, they'll be visiting Kingston next month in a return match. If tonight was any indicator, the rematch should be even more intense.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Celebrity Rock: In The Jailhouse Now (2000)

By all rights, "In The Jailhouse Now" should've been the 2nd single off the soundtrack CD for "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", and perhaps it was, but until recently, I hadn't seen the video.

Tim Blake Nelson (Delmar in the movie) does his own singing on this track. "Jailhouse" had previously been recorded by the likes of Jimmie Rodgers, Webb Pierce, & Johnny Cash, among others.

High School this 'n' that

Troy High's bowling team snapped a very long losing streak, dating back at least 2 years, in defeating Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 17-15, on Thursday. This year's team is co-ed, as the school doesn't have a separate girls team for the sport. If I'm not mistaken, this may in fact be their first win since entering the Suburban Council 2 seasons ago. Here's to hoping this starts them on the up-swing.
Inclement weather forced postponement of several events, largely involving Saratoga County schools (i.e. Burnt Hills, Shenendehowa), on Tuesday. Shen & Saratoga rescheduled their basketball games for the next day, with both the women's & men's games under the same roof. Saratoga swept both games, with the boys' game marred by a scuffle between the two teams in the 4th quarter that has resulted in a total of seven players (3 for Saratoga, 4 for Shen) suspended for tonight's games. Yes. it's early in the season, but Shen has already lost a game apiece on both the boys' & girls' ledgers.
Wednesday was not a good day for Shen, it seems. The skating Plainsmen dropped a 3-0 decision to LaSalle in the Cadets' home opener, extending Shen's hockey losing streak to 3. LaSalle squares its record at 2-2 (1-1 in league play), and will visit Shaker-Colonie on Saturday night before returning home to play Queensbury next Friday night. After that, the defending Section II champs will defend their title in the Mohawks tournament at Union College.
There doesn't appear to be any plans for Troy High to host a holiday basketball tournament this year. The Flying Horses have not fared well in their own tourney the last two years, as the women finished last in the 2015-16 edition, while the boys had the same thing happen last year. Apparently, this explains why the boys have three non-league weekend games on the calendar this year, starting with tomorrow's home game vs. Kingston. We'll see what the attendance looks like, depending on whether or not any of the local papers acknowledge the game's even taking place. The onus for that, of course, is also on athletic director Paul Reinisch to supply the local press with the schedules. If he can't find the time to do so, then it should be a matter of either parents and/or alumni to help.
I have to stress this yet again. While it's great that Troy does have some non-league games on the docket for both men & women this season, and the ladies will host Lansingburgh next month on a Monday night, weather permitting, of course, I think there's still a remote possibility of reviving the long dormant Uncle Sam Basketball tournament, this time for both men & women.

As of now, Troy is on the outside looking in when it comes to in-city rivalries. There are some territorial rivalries in the Suburban Council (Averill Park, Columbia), plus the traditional home-&-home series with Albany & Schenectady (and for the boys, CBA), but what about bragging rights to the city itself? Lansingburgh, LaSalle, & Catholic Central all play in the Colonial Council, and will see each other twice a year. On the women's side, you could sub Emma Willard, which plays in the Central Hudson Valley League, as does Heatly, but both of those schools are in lower classes than Troy, which is in Class AA, along with LaSalle and Catholic Central (Lansingburgh is a B school this year).

Because of the football team's success in recent years, a boys tournament would be next to impossible to pull off. A women's Uncle Sam tournament, though? Different story, and one that can be done if Reinisch and his counterparts at Lansingburgh, CCHS, and either Emma Willard or Heatly can agree to it. Troy tested the waters in women's soccer last year, hosting Heatly on Senior Night, and a JV game vs. Emma Willard. Can't see why not in other sports.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

On The Air: Happy! (2017)

You know that SyFy is entering the comic book-to-television arena, but before Krypton hits the air, presumably next year, their first entry adapts an Image Comics miniseries.

Happy!, then, is not based on the Pharrell Williams hit from a couple of years back. Instead, the title character is a blue CGI unicorn, an imaginary friend to a little girl who's been kidnapped. Realizing his friend needs help, Happy (voice of Patton Oswalt) recruits ex-cop-turned-assassin Nick Sax (Christopher Meloni, ex-Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) to do his legwork for him.

Happy! comes from the whimsical, warped pen of Scottish writer Grant Morrison, who, with artist Darick Robertson, produced the miniseries for Image a few years back. No, he's not crossing Dr. Seuss with Looney Tunes in developing the title character, who gets lost in the midst of all the splatter and violence. I thought the producers were being clever (Morrison & Meloni both get an executive producer credit) by using what looked like a dated photo of a clean shaven Meloni from his SVU days on a mock front page of the New York Post in the opener. Like, that trenchcoat looked awfully familiar, for starters.

I'd show yoiu the opener, since SyFy has a YouTube channel, but because of coarse language, we'll settle instead for a trailer.

Oswalt (also heard on Cartoon Network's Justice League Action) wasn't the first choice to play Happy. Bobby Moynihan (Me, Myself, & I, DuckTales, ex-Saturday Night Live) had recorded the pilot, but the producers made a change once the series was green-lit, probably after Moynihan had landed the other series.

At least Happy! takes Meloni down a familiar path, but he doesn't have the morals of being a police officer holding his character back this time.

Rating: B--.

Musical Interlude: Too Much Passion (1991)

New Jersey's The Smithereens brought out some retro-60's style pop on 1991's "Too Much Passion", off the CD, "Blow Up".

Ya know, this might be the theme for serial Lotharios like a certain President, don't ya think?

In memory of singer-songwriter Pat DiNizio, who passed away Wednesday at 62.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Countdown to Christmas: The last Christmas episode of I've Got a Secret (1966)

Toward the end of its initial CBS run, I've Got a Secret ended a long standing tradition of Christmas episodes. This one's from 1966, with special guests the Salvation Army band and Durward Kirby.

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

The Yankees made news again Tuesday, shipping infielder Chase Headley back to San Diego in exchange for some prospects. Headley became expendable when the Bombers acquired Todd Frazier from the Chicago White Sox at the trade deadline, and they also have a couple of infield prospects of their own they want to look at to share time with Frazier at third in 2018. The Yankees acquired Headley from the Padres at the deadline in 2014.
In the space of the last five nights, LaSalle Institute completed a sweep of in-city rivals Catholic Central & Lansingburgh to go to 5-0 in the Colonial Council in basketball. The teams will meet again next month to complete each home-&-home series. While the Cadets have made a smooth transition into the league, Catholic Central has struggled ever since prodigal son Chuck Mack and son Anthony departed.

Just the same, I still believe that at some point down the road, the athletic directors at LaSalle, Catholic Central, and Lansingburgh should meet with Troy High AD Paul Reinisch about reviving the long-dormant Uncle Sam basketball tournament, which was discontinued in the early 80's, the operative thing being to keep it as a pre-season tournament. Problem is, from Troy's POV, that would be nigh impossible given the length of the football team's season of late.

Of course, we wouldn't mind a women's tournament, subbing Emma Willard for LaSalle, too......
Meanwhile, LaSalle's hockey team is finding out how hard it is to duplicate the success of last season. The skating Cadets are 1-2 headed into their home opener tonight vs. Shenendehowa, assuming the game gets played, as it is snowing as I write these words. Shen had to cancel some activities yesterday due to inclement weather, and they were in the minority in that regard.
Add Troy. Coach Greg Davis' boys team is 2-1 after dispatching Christian Brothers Academy on Tuesday, as the transition from the Richard Hurley-Daniel Buie era has been smoother than expected. Hurley, as it turned out, chose to step down altogether as head coach six months ago, and that may very well have prompted Buie's decision to transfer to Gould Academy in Maine. So far, though, it's been No Buie, No Problem for Troy, which now will head off to Mohonasen on Friday before coming home for a non-league game vs. Kingston on Saturday night.

For what it's worth, James Allen's account of the Troy-Shaker game in the 12/9 Albany Times-Union revealed that Hurley stepped down altogether as head coach in June for the same reasons stated when he decided three months earlier to take a year off. That, in effect, would explain Buie's subsequent decision to transfer.
Lavar Ball just doesn't get it, and doesn't want to get it.

Ball decided to jumpstart LaMelo & LiAngelo's pro careers by having them sign with brother Lonzo's agent, Harrison Gaines, who promptly managed to place the two teens in a pro league----in Lithuania. We all know La Loudmouth is all about making as much money as possible as soon as possible, to make up for what he didn't achieve in his own career.

On Tuesday's Skip & Shannon-Undisputed, Shannon Sharpe expressed his doubts about La Loudmouth's plans, and correctly diagnosed exactly what the problem has been all along.....

Translated: La Loudmouth can't cut the apron strings, and feels he has to "control the situation", as Sharpe put it. If things don't work out in Lithuania, the kids'll be home by the NBA All-Star break at the earliest, because Gaines & the elder Ball are just chasing the money a wee bit too soon. Let these kids grow up, for cryin' out loud.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Countdown to Christmas: Snoopy's Christmas (1967)

Believe it or else, the Royal Guardsmen were actually an American pop group, whose biggest hit featured America's most famous cartoon dog, Snoopy. Making use of Snoopy's daydreams of using his dog house as a "Sopwith Camel", the Guardsmen reached #2 on the charts in 1966 with "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron". A year later came "Snoopy's Christmas", which, unfortunately, failed to reach the Top 40.

Well, "some other day", we'll serve up "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron".

DC-TV mid-season report, part 3: The Flash (2017-18)

"You can't fix stupid"--Ron White.

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

After three seasons of fighting speed-based villains, The Flash was given a more cerebral opponent this season, but Team Berlanti fumbled the ball with the Golden Age villain, the Thinker.
Subject: The Flash.
Season: 4th.
When it airs: Tuesdays, 8 pm (ET), returning January 16.
Original rating: B.

Where we are: Clifford Devoe (Neil Sandilands) was rebooted as a sort-of cyborg, using a modified "Thinking cap" and a floating chair, which had comics fans thinking Devoe was merged with the New God Metron, since the floating chair is known as a Mobius chair. However, Devoe was dying, and there was little his wife could do to help in that regard. Their criminal operations should've had a more sympathetic bent, but that's where the writers fumbled.

In the midseason finale, we are introduced to Dominic Lanse (Kendrick Sampson), whom modern comics fans know as Brainstorm, an enemy of Mister Terrific. We barely get to know Dominic before Amunet Black (Katlee Sackhoff, ex-Battlestar Galactica) sells him off to the Devoes, all so Clifford can download his consciousness into Lanse, making Brainstorm, in effect, the new Thinker. Meanwhile, in his final act, Devoe frames Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) for his murder.....

Let's just cut right past the BS, ok? During last season, I felt very strongly that the Arrowverse family of series had to get away from the season-long story arcs because it exposed some flaws in the overall writing. Unfortunately, these dullards haven't gotten the message. It would have been nice to have the end game for Thinker and move on, but Clifford Devoe's story hadn't been fully told, nor had the character been realized, a problem also evident with villains on Arrow & Legends of Tomorrow, not so much with Supergirl, which appears to be the best of a sorry lot right now. The most recent Thinker in the books, a 1-shot villain who fought Batman 20 years ago, was a telepath, as is Brainstorm. The original Thinker was not. Once again, in order to tell the story they want us to see, the writers are mixing elements of different versions of the same character. Sometimes it works. Sometimes, as in this case, it doesn't, and makes for sloppy storytelling. I don't know if I want to invest 5 more months in such garbage writing.

Updated rating: B--.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Origin of a Classic: Gomer Pyle joins the Marines (The Andy Griffith Show, 1964)

The season 4 finale of The Andy Griffith Show served as a pilot for the spin-off series, Gomer Pyle, USMC, which bowed the following fall, as Griffith began its 5th season.

"Gomer Joins The Marines" begins with Gomer (Jim Nabors) visiting Sheriff Andy Taylor (Griffith), singing the Marine Hymn in his sing-song Southern drawl. Gomer had lost his job at Wally's Filling Station earlier in the season, only to, I presume, get it back, but this time, his job would be filled by cousin Goober (George Lindsey) once Gomer left for Camp Henderson, the setting for the spin-off. Frank Sutton debuts as Sgt. Carter, and, as you'll see, it takes a conversation between Carter and the sheriff to change Carter's mind about letting Gomer go on ahead to camp......

Nabors, of course, was really from Alabama, and got 5 seasons out of Gomer before ending the series and trying his luck with his own variety show. In a way, Aaron Ruben's concept may have been partially inspired by the production that made Griffith a star---"No Time For Sergeants", which ABC picked up as a sitcom that fall, only to see it fall flat.

Rating: B.

Sports this 'n' that

As the saying goes, the rich get richer.

Former Yankee star Derek Jeter is now part of the ownership group in charge of the Miami Marlins, and one of his first trades benefits his old club, with outfielder and reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton going to the Bronx for 2B Starlin Castro and 2 minor leaguers. There go the Marlins' chances of landing a postseason berth in 2018, as there are rumors their other stars, outfielders Marcell Ozuna & Christian Yelich, could be next to go.

The problem for the Yankees, though, is this. Where do you fit Stanton in the lineup? It's one thing if he's a DH batting alongside Aaron Judge & Gary Sanchez, but Stanton is also a very capable defensive outfielder. Can the Yanks afford to put Jacoby Ellsbury and/or Brett Gardner on the bench to accomodate Stanton? Or are there other moves coming? Stay tuned.
If you've wondered why there was no account of a girls basketball game between Shaker and Troy High on Friday night, wonder no more. According to Dave Johnson of The Record, the game was postponed (reason unknown), and pushed back 2 weeks to December 22. The venue has also been switched, as the game will now be played just up the road at Siena College's Alumni Recreation Center. The Lady Horses, unfortunately, are off to an 0-4 start after losing to Baldwinsville in a non-league tilt on Sunday, 49-30, and are now off until Friday, when they host Mohonasen.

Updated, 12/13/17: Shaker is hosting a charity double-header at Siena on 12/22, as the Blue Bison's boys will play Albany Academy in the nightcap.
The USGA has finally done away with a controversial rule that allowed home viewers to contact them about perceived rules violations during televised tournaments. You know, the sort of thing that cost Lexi Thompson an LPGA tournament earlier this year. This way, Joe & Jane Sixpack can't influence the outcome of a tournament any longer. Why that practice even started, I'll never know.
Former WWE Cruiserweight champion Rich Swann flushed his chances of regaining the title down the chute on Sunday when he was arrested and charged with domestic abuse and unlawful imprisonment----of his own wife. WWE has suspended Swann indefinitely, but if recent cases of sexual harrassment in other workplaces are any barometer, consider Swann gone if he's convicted. He faces up to 5 years in prison if convicted.
The Philadelphia Eagles locked up the NFC East Sunday, defeating the West leading Los Angeles Rams, but at the expense of losing QB Carson Wentz for the season with a torn ACL. Luckily, the Eagles had brought back former starter Nick Foles as a backup, and Foles likely will be the starter the rest of the way, which includes rematches with the Giants & Cowboys over the final three weeks.

Add the Giants. After losing, 30-10, to Dallas on Sunday, Big Blue may be inviting more criticism after flushing another lead down the tubes. It's a lost season, everyone knows that, but it may be time to cut bait on Eli Manning after the season and let him test the free agent market. After 14 seasons, and gradual regression over the course of the last 3, it may be time for Manning to take his talents elsewhere, like, maybe, to Denver, where brother Peyton retired after winning the Super Bowl a couple of seasons back.

Add the Cowboys. Yes, they've woken up just in time, but that doesn't mean they're guaranteed a playoff spot just yet in a stacked NFC playoff pool. And they get Ezekiel Elliott back in time for the holidays.
Saturday's Albany Cup basketball games between Siena and the University at Albany may be the last ones for a while. Per WNYT's Rodger Wyland, writing in the Albany Times-Union today, Siena seemingly wants no part of playing another Albany Cup at the University's SEFCU Arena, which doesn't have the capacity of the cavernous Times-Union Center, which drew more than 9,000 fans on Saturday as Albany defeated Siena, winning the Albany Cup for the 5th time in 6 years. Well, here's a compromise. Why not use the Capital Center, just up the hill from the T-U Center? Or the ancient, acoustically challenged Washington Avenue Armory, which will be shaking anew next month when the Albany Patroons return to play in the North American Premier Basketball League? The T-U Center is Siena's home, and they're comfortable playing downtown. UAlbany should think about claiming the new Capital Center for their alternate home......

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Classic Reborn: Classic Concentration (1987)

Nearly a decade after its last run, Concentration returned home to NBC in 1987, still produced by Mark Goodson, who now was going it alone after long-time business partner Bill Todman had passed away.

Classic Concentration, as it was known ran for four years of first run episodes (1987-91), with reruns continuing until the end of 1993. During this entire period, Alex Trebek not only hosted Concentration, but the syndicated Jeopardy! (which he still does today), and had taken over another Goodson revival, To Tell The Truth, for the end of its NBC run.

The puzzles were reduced in size from 30 tiles to 25, and, as you'll see in this sample video from Christmas Eve, 1987, the puzzles were also a little easier.

A choice of 8 cars in the bonus round? Yep. It was more than what they were doing over on Hollywood Squares at the same time (the John Davidson era ended in 1989). After acquiring the rights to the franchise shortly after the departure of co-creators Jack Barry & Dan Enright in 1958, NBC still owns the series nearly 60 years later.

Rating: A.

On The Shelf: Is Batman ready to take the plunge?

I'm sure you've heard by now that, in current comics, the Batman is engaged to his on-again, off-again frenemy/girlfriend, Selina Kyle, aka the Catwoman. And, yes, Bruce Wayne revealed his dual ID to Selina. Been there, done that. However, this is the furthest any writer has taken the Bat-Cat relationship in decades.

Back in the day, on what would become Earth-2, Batman & Catwoman ultimately became husband & wife, with Selina having renounced her criminal ways. Over the last 20-plus years on Earth-1, Catwoman has been more of an anti-hero. Her first ongoing solo series cast her as more of a costumed, female version of Robert Wagner's Alexander Mundy (It Takes a Thief, 1968-71), stealing not so much for herself, but to help the downtrodden.

Current Bat-scribe Tom King's current arc offers a glimpse of what the future could hold for the Bat & the Cat in Batman Annual 2 (the actual number of annuals dating back to years past escapes me), drawn by Lee Weeks in a style that recalls David Mazzuchelli, circa the late 80's. It's a wonderful read, and for long time fans who've hoped, even dreamed that the Dark Knight would settle down with the Princess of Plunder, it gives hope that like their Earth-2 counterparts, theirs will be a lasting union.

Meanwhile, DC has taken the "Rebirth" tag off their books after nearly a year and a half, and it's just as well, rather than beat the point into the ground any further than it already has. In the first regular issue of Batman since the annual, King explores just how Bruce has to go about explaining his engagement to his closest allies in the Justice League, particularly Superman, himself happily married, and Wonder Woman. King's arc, "Super Friends", uses the familiar logo of the 1970's cartoon series in chapter 1. One wonders why this hadn't happened sooner, but it's a great way to put a light through the grim-darkness of recent years.

Rating for both issues: A.

Word on the street is that when Action Comics reaches issue #1000 in March, DC will release a special hardcover commemorative edition with a retail price of roughly $30. Expect the same thing when Detective Comics reaches the same milestone a year later. However, I doubt you'll see either book at Barnes & Noble. The retail chain has pulled all of DC's current books from their shelves. Earlier this year, Barnes & Noble began charging an extra buck per issue. Whereas the semi-monthly books (i.e. Batman, Superman, The Flash) are $3 at direct shops, Barnes & Noble would charge $4. The monthly $4 books went up to $5 at Barnes & Noble. Apparently that decision wasn't making the registers go any faster, so.....!

The other story that has made the rounds, of course, is that of writer-producer Brian Michael Bendis leaving Marvel and signing with DC. Just what exactly he'll do at DC is unknown at this point, but Marvel, unsurprisingly, has cancelled Bendis' creator-owned series, Powers & United States of Murder. I'd think both of those books will land at DC sometime in 2018. Bendis is largely responsible for a lot of Marvel's "events" the last few years, so expect more of the same at DC, at a time when we need to slow things down and cut back on the "events" to let the books breathe for a while. Just sayin'.

DC-TV Midseason report, part 2: Legends of Tomorrow (2017-18)

Don't worry, we'll get to The Flash in part 3.

Legends of Tomorrow is the anomaly in Greg Berlanti's DC-TV universe, a collection of heroes and anti-heroes traveling through time to repair chronological anomalies. It's not exactly like time travel shows of the past (i.e. Time Tunnel, Quantum Leap, Voyagers!) because our heroes do get to go home from time to time. So, let's just get right to it:
Subject: Legends of Tomorrow.
Season: 3rd.
When it airs: Mondays at 8 (ET), beginning February 12.
Original rating: B-.

Where we are: Firestorm, the Nuclear Man, a composite of Professor Martin Stein (Victor Garber) and Jefferson Jackson (Franz Drameh), has left the team following the death of Stein and Jackson's decision to depart in the last episode. Taking their place are Citizen Cold, the Earth-X version of Leonard Snart, aka Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller, also on Prison Break), and John Constantine (Matt Ryan), the latter at least in the short term. Unfortunately, one of the writers' favorite villains, Damian Darhk (Neal McDonough), a villain who just won't go away, has returned, seemingly as an ambassador for a big bad named Mollus (voice of John Noble, ex-Sleepy Hollow).

I refer to the 4 Arrowverse shows as a tetralogy, and that's because Legends, which only links up with the other shows at least once a year, isn't like the others. Is it too campy? Not really, but the writers decided that Nate Heywood, aka Steel (Nick Zano) and Ray "Atom" Palmer (Brandon Routh) had to be comedy relief some of the time, same with Mick Rory (Dominic Purcell). Nate comes off as being too dim for someone who's a historian when it comes to non-historical issues. Mick has become a fan favorite as the resident cynic, and couldn't be happier teaming with Prison Break co-star Miller once more, although Miller figures to be leaving at the end of the season.

Original captain Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) started the season in charge of the Time Bureau, which is just a rip-off of Lowell Cunningham's Men in Black, but dealing in time instead of alien threats. Darvill, it seems, is slowly being phased out as well.

Note the date listed above for the show's return from winter hiatus. Supergirl will be bumped to make room because Legends is losing its Tuesday berth to Black Lightning next month. CW programmers, just like the writers on this show, have small brains. However, fans of Constantine will be happy to see their hero return, as he made his season debut in the last episode. Constantine vs. Darhk should be fun, if but to wipe the smirk off Darhk's face permanently. Here's a trailer for the next episode:

Three seasons, three different nights. Not good for a show's long-term future. Those of you who need to catch up with Constantine can do so online on CW Seed.

Updated rating: B-.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

DC-TV midseason report, part 1: Supergirl (2017-18)

Beginning today, we're taking a look at CW's 4 DC Comics adaptations as they hit the holiday break. We won't discuss Fox's Gotham & Lucifer, as we haven't followed either series of late.
Subject: Supergirl.
Season: 3rd.
Airs: Mondays, 8 pm (ET), returning January 15.
Original rating (2015): A-.

Where we are: During season 2, we were introduced to Mon-El, rebooted from the comics as a Daxamite prince (Chris Wood). He & Kara (Melissa Benoist) fell in love, but at season's end, Mon-El, because of a bomb laced with lead (Daxamites are weakened by lead the same way Kara is vulnerable to Kryptonite) used to drive off an invasion fleet from his homeworld led by his mother (Teri Hatcher), who'd killed her own husband, Mon-El's father (Kevin Sorbo) to further her own agenda, was sent off-world in a pod. It veered off course an into a black hole, which landed Mon-El in the 31st century.

Comics fans know that the 31st century is home to the fan-favorite Legion of Superheroes. In a twist only Greg Berlanti and his team could come up with, it was decided that Mon-El would marry Imra Ardeen, aka Saturn Girl. Comics fans know that Imra actually was married to Lightning Lad in the books, but we're not sure if Garth Ranzz will appear here.

Meanwhile, Kara's adoptive sister, Alex (Chyler Leigh) came out of the closet in season 2, and entered a relationship with National City police detective Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima). That came to an end a few weeks ago, as Lima had been previously reported as leaving the series. Aside from a brief hookup with Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) during Crisis on Earth-X nearly 2 weeks ago, Alex is still dealing with that split, so both sisters are dealing with heartbreak, but Kara's got it worse now.

See, a new face on the scene, Samantha Arias (Odette Annable) recently discovered she's really from Krypton, too, as the Worldkiller, Reign. Reign & Supergirl engaged in their first battle in the mid-season finale, leaving Kara in a coma.

When the series returns on January 15, well......

Unfortunately for fans of Supergirl, CW has screwed the pooch, if you will, with the announcement that Legends of Tomorrow, displaced from its Tuesday perch come next month to make room for Black Lightning, and, presumably, after that, the returning iZombie, will share the Monday berth with Supergirl for the rest of the season. Legends returns February 12 after 4 weeks of Supergirl, and the plan seems to be for 9 weeks of Legends, which means Supergirl would then return to finish out the season on April 16, and if it's a 20-episode season, Supergirl would have 7 episodes left by April, meaning it would end its season on Memorial Day. I for one don't like this move, as it says that CW is unwilling to break up its Friday combo of Jane The Virgin & Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, when plugging Legends in on Fridays would be a perfect counter to Marvel's Agents of SHIELD over on ABC.

Meanwhile, J'onn J'onzz (David Harewood) was reunited with his father (Carl Lumbly), with each having assumed the other had passed on. This goes against the long-established comics canon that J'onzz was the Martian equivalent of Superman. The idea here was to try to put some depth to the character, and it's working, actually.

Pros: J'onn's backstory being deepened is a welcome change. Samantha/Reign was developed nicely over the first 2 months of the season. Thing is, most folks can anticipate the ending.

Cons: Kara should not have had to deal with so much drama and negativity so quickly. The season's other big bad, Morgan Edge (Adrian Pasdar) is so 1-dimensional, it isn't funny. He's being posited here as an analogue for Lex Luthor, which is why Edge is targeting Lex's sexy sister, Lena (Katie McGrath). Lena, in turn, may have developed feelings for Kara's ex, James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks), per the last episode. And all that sisterly bonding among Kara, Samantha, & Lena will dissipate, sooner rather than later.

Creatively, Supergirl is trying to avoid the same pitfalls that befell The Flash & Arrow in their 3rd seasons. However, ending the 1st half on such a downer was only a harbinger of what would come the rest of the week.

Current rating: downgraded to B-.

Countdown to Christmas: Patty Duke's unwelcome Christmas Present (1963)

From season 1 of The Patty Duke Show:

The Lanes are preparing for Christmas when Martin (William Schallert, ex-The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis) is surprised by the appearance of his boss, J. R. Castle (John McGiver), who informs Martin that his twin brother, Kenneth (Schallert again), is to be fired for abandoning an assignment overseas. "The Christmas Present" is also the first half of a holiday 2-parter.......

Co-creators William Asher and Sidney Sheldon would move on to Screen Gems over the next two seasons (Bewitched & I Dream of Jeannie, respectively),  but I think now you can see where and why they had the idea to use the twin gimmick on those shows. Not sure if Sheldon stuck around for the 3rd & final season, which was the year Jeannie debuted.

Rating: B.

Friday, December 8, 2017

High School Fridays: Shaker @ Troy (boys' basketball), 12/8/17

It may have been the home opener for Troy High tonight, but it felt like old home week between the Flying Horses and Shaker, considering that some of the players on both teams had just seen each other on the football field just 2 months ago.

Troy's Joe Casale, Hunter Redden, & Avery Curley are coming off the school's 2nd straight state title in football. Jack Bush, Raveon Burt, Connor McHugh, & Devin Mahoney were on the Shaker football team that dropped a 40-15 decision to Troy on October 6 in Latham. In effect, the Blue Bison were looking for a little measure of revenge on two fronts, since Troy has owned them on the court as well as the gridiron in recent years.

A couple of minutes into the first quarter, Mahoney put Shaker on top, but it wasn't long before Latyce Faison answered back for Troy, and so it went. Back & forth, all night long. Mahoney finished with 15 points. Sloan Seymour had 17, and Burt finished with 12 to lead Shaker.

On Tuesday, in a narrow loss to Shenendehowa, Troy senior Alonzo Alexander had a breakout game with 19 points. Tonight, it was Faison and Nazaire Merritt who led the Flying Horses. Merritt, a junior, led all scorers with 21 points. Faison added 19.  Casale had 7 for the 2nd straight game, and Alexander had 11.

As was the case on Tuesday, it came down to the final play. 3 seconds left. Troy up by 3. Shaker is playing for a potential game-tying shot that could send it to overtime. Burt heaved up a 3 point shot that rimmed out, and time ran out for the Blue Bison, as Troy escapes with a 63-60 win to square each team's record at 1-1.

Troy also won the junior varsity game, 58-53. That game ran a little long with an epidemic of late fouls and time outs, delaying the start of the varsity game, advertised for 7 pm, to 7:30. There was a decent crowd for a Friday night, and Troy boosters went home happy after the final buzzer sounded just before 9 pm. Up next for Troy will be old foe CBA on Tuesday at home, then at Mohonasen next Friday before a quick return to Troy for a non-league game vs. Kingston, the first half of a home-&-home series, as Troy travels to Kingston next month.

Sounds of Praise: The Lord's Prayer (1973)

In 1973, Sister Janet Mead cracked the top 10 with a musical interpretation of "The Lord's Prayer". As a result, she became the first female artist from Australia, about a year or two ahead of Olivia Newton-John, to sell over a million copies here in the US.

Sister Mead gave her proceeds for the single to charity, and I wonder, nearly 45 years later, how many people's lives were touched with this recording.

I bring it up because in the news today, Pope Francis has said he'd like to amend one line from the Prayer, as it is written in the Bible. Allow me, then, to quote it for you from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6, in the King James Bible:

"Our father, which art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive our debts, as we forgive our debtors,
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."

I emboldened the line the Pope wishes to amend. He believes that as it is presently interpreted, it would suggest in error that God would lead us into sin, which is not His intention. In France, the Catholic Church there has amended it to "do not let us fall into temptation", which Pope Francis believes may be an appropriate alternative.

The question then is, what do you believe is appropriate?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Countdown to Christmas: Deck the Halls w/Dobie Gillis (1959)

For your viewing pleasure, we present a Christmas episode of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis from the 1st season (1959).

Dobie's dad, Herbert, decides to spend Christmas in jail. The episode, "Deck The Halls", explains why.

No rating. Just a public service.

Sports this 'n' that

The NFL, ignoring the fact that commissioner Roger Goodell should've fallen on his sword long ago for inconsistent disciplinary policies, decided to extend Goodell's contract by an additional five years, meaning he'll still be the commissioner until 2024. What the league needs is someone who can define their disciplinary policies, and stick to them. Goodell, after all this time, is not the answer.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, the Giants reversed field and reinstated Eli Manning as the starting quarterback for the rest of the season after Ben McAdon't was finally shown the door on Monday. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who should've had the head coach's job in the first place, was promoted to replace McAdon't. Unfortunately for Big Blue, up next is a rematch with the rival, resurgent Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. The Giants have already been eliminated from post-season consideration, and are assured of a top 5 draft pick unless they win their final 4 games, which, considering they also have to play Washington & Philadelphia again, won't happen.
The Albany Times-Union named its all-area---well, Section II, anyway--soccer teams for boys & girls today. Troy High is represented by senior Kevin Vargas on the boys' side. Vargas was also tapped as the Player of the Year, tallying 23 goals in 17 games. Next stop could be UAlbany or Siena or an out-of-town school. Maddie Rifenberek was named to the women's 1st team as goalkeeper, leading the Suburban Council with a whopping 86% save percentage. Congratulations to both players.
Unfortunately, Troy High has gone back to not allowing The Record to talk to their coaches as we begin basketball season. Make up your minds, folks. I thought this was behind us.
One of last year's stars on Troy's women's basketball team, Sabrina Wolfe, is now a freshman at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology). Wolfe will have a "homecoming" when RIT visits RPI on Friday, January 26 to complete a home-&-home series for the season. Don't be too shocked if The Record whiffs on covering the game, since press coverage of local sports is soooooo spotty.
Not long after the Yankees welcomed back former infielder Aaron Boone as their new manager, Arizona State hired former Jets & Kansas City coach Herman Edwards as their new football coach. Edwards, like Boone, is leaving ESPN for his new gig, rather than run the risk of being laid off, as ESPN cut more than 150 people the other day to save money. However, there are those online who feel as though ESPN is unwilling to part with First Take rabble-rouser Stephen A. Smith, perhaps afraid that the bloviating Howard Cosell wanna-be would bolt to Fox or Turner Sports at first asking. Actually, since he has a face for radio......!
Add former CFL/NFL Hall of Fame QB Warren Moon's name to the list of those accused of sexual harassment. What's next? An owner gets outed? If I'm, say, Jerry Jones, I'd worry.
Before losing the Intercontinental title and leaving to shoot "The Marine 6" in England, Michael "The Miz" Mizanin returned to his cable roots at MTV, as he's hosting The Challenge: Champs vs. Stars. The show made headlines on Wednesday when former NFL primadonna Terrell Owens (Eagles, Cowboys, 49ers, Bills) quit the competition when he had his trash talking thrown back in his face by one of the reality stars. The Challenge was taped earlier this year., just to set the record straight. We wouldn't mind MTV reviving Celebrity Deathmatch, just so we can see a claymation version of Miz getting his just desserts......

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Celebrity Rock: The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)(1973)

You might recall that on The Partridge Family, only Keith (David Cassidy) did any actual singing. The rest of the family band, including Shirley (Shirley Jones), had their singing voices dubbed over by studio musicians, this despite the fact that Shirley was a trained vocalist herself.

Before the series was over, Danny Bonaduce had released a solo album, and, to support it, appeared on a American Bandstand primetime special, Rockin' The Palace, in June 1973, hosted by the comedy team of Skiles & Henderson.

Here's Danny performing a cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)".

Well, at least now we know why Danny had to have someone sing for him on Partridge.

It's going to be a long winter at Troy High

When the Suburban Council basketball schedules came out earlier this year, the coaches at Troy High could see their teams facing a virtual gauntlet right from the jump. It didn't help on the boys' side when it came out a week ago that their leading scorer, Daniel Buie, had transferred to Gould Academy in Maine, part of the New England Prep School Athletic Council (NEPSAC), in an effort to boost his chances of landing at a Division 1 college. Buie, as reported, has reclassified as a junior, so he'd be part of a Class of 2023 in college.

Interim boys' head coach Greg Davis found that his job had just gotten tougher with Buie gone. Fortunately, he found Buie's successor in Alonzo Alexander, who led Troy with 19 points (5 3 point goals) in a 57-56 loss to Shenendehowa last night. The road, though, won't get easier going forward, as Troy has their home opener Friday vs. Shaker, which beat Albany on Tuesday. Next week, CBA makes their annual visit to Zotto Memorial Gym before Troy goes on the road at Mohonasen. After that is a Saturday home game vs. Kingston in a non-league tilt.

Meanwhile, women's coach Paul Bearup, in his 13th season at Troy, starts 0-3. The Lady Horses knew they'd have trouble replacing their two-woman scoring machine (Shallie Frierson & Sabrina Wolfe) from last season, but there were signs of life last weekend in the Anthony Drago pre-season tournament in Oneonta. Even though Troy finished last in the tournament, it served as a showcase for sophomore Abby Burns, the leading scorer for the women's soccer team during the fall. Not sure if Abby was on the JV team last year, probably was. Troy was blown out by Horseheads, 55-21, on Friday, then dropped a 48-43 decision to Haland Patent in the 3rd place game on Saturday. Jenalyse Alarcon, a returning starter from last season, led Troy with 11 points in the Saturday game.

However, reality struck in the home opener vs. Shen, and did it ever. After playing a tough game vs. the Lady Plainsmen in January at Zotto Memorial Gym, the Troy women were blown off the court last night in a 79-12 demolition. Burns was held scoreless, and Alarcon had only 1 basket. Troy was shut out in the 3rd quarter, held to just 2 points overall in the 2nd half, as Shen had their way the entire night. It was so bad, that on Sports Night on Spectrum News, anchor Marissa Jacques opted not to have the score posted on the screen to save the Lady Horses from further embarrassment.

The Troy women will play at Shaker for the 3rd time in 2017, and the 4th meeting between the 2 schools in a calendar year, dating back to New Year's weekend last year, on Friday. Then, it's right back home for a non-league matinee vs. Baldwinsville before Mohonasen comes in on the 15th.

It's too early to project how deep either Troy team will go in the sectionals in late February-early March, but as of now, the prospects don't look good. Troy High Nation has to prepare for a long, cruel winter.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Countdown to Christmas: Delivering Christmas (2008)

We had this up before, but it was taken down. Now, it's back, and hopefully, back to stay.

From A Muppets' Christmas: Letters to Santa: The show opens with Kermit, Fozzie, Ms. Piggy, and the gang at the post office. Jesse L. Martin, now co-starring on The Flash, joins in on vocals. Now you know why he's had opportunities to croon the last couple of seasons.....

I still think a big reason why The Muppets flopped 2 years ago was because it aired opposite Flash and NCIS. Ballgame over. If they had a few more musical episodes, and aired on a different night, maybe it's in its 3rd season now.....

Dunce Cap Award: Lavar Ball

Gee, what a shock, eh?

Word got out Monday that the Fred Sanford of stage parents, Lavar Ball, decided to coax son LiAngelo into withdrawing from UCLA. Sorry, Lavar, but that just cost your son his ticket to the NBA.

LiAngelo was serving an indefinite suspension for his part in a shoplifting spree in China last month, and to date had missed 8 games. Younger brother LaMelo is being homeschooled by his self-serving pop, who's only doing things like this for attention. This much we know about Lavar. He's living vicariously through his three boys because he never achieved any semblance of fame of his own as a player several years ago. He has his own reality show, which I think is online-only (Thank God!), but, as a Yahoo! article notes, he believed LiAngelo, like brother Lonzo, would be a 1 year player at UCLA, an example of the mentality in basketball today where players are convinced they have the skills for the pros, even if they're not completely polished.

By all rights, Lonzo should still be at UCLA, but figure his father, and Lord knows who else was in his ears, convinced him he only needed 1 year of school. Wrong. The fact that Lonzo is struggling now with the Lakers proves my point. The Lakers, meanwhile, have started enforcing a rule that restricts media access to players' families (i.e. Lavar), which would reduce the elder Ball's opportunities to extend his 15 minutes of infamy.

LiAngelo, meanwhile, can only enter the NBA next year as an undrafted free agent, as I doubt anyone would be willing to take him and the baggage (Lavar). If Lavar Ball is so obsessed with putting his kids on the Lakers, why doesn't he raise enough capital to buy a stake in the team?

No, instead, we'll give him a Dunce Cap for proving again to the world that he's not the sharpest tool when it comes to parenting.

Meanwhile, Toby Keith's 2001 hit, "I Wanna Talk About Me", describes Lavar's whole agenda in a nutshell......

Monday, December 4, 2017

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas with Dick Van Dyke & friends (1963)

From season 3 of The Dick Van Dyke Show:

A rare case where the episode is entirely built around the show within the show, in this case, The Alan Brady Show, which presents its Christmas episode. Brady (Carl Reiner) decides to bring out head writer Rob Petrie (Van Dyke), which leads to a musical half hour. We previously served up the finale, "I Am A Fine Musician", when we reviewed the series a ways back. In addition to "Fine Musician", Brady has "Deck The Halls" reworked to satisfy his ego (bad idea). Ritchie (Larry Matthews) goes a capella with "The Little Drummer Boy". Sally (Rose Marie) puts a spin on "Santa Baby".

I have no memory of seeing this in its entirety. I've seen pieces, but not the whole enchilada. No rating.

Sports this 'n' that

As reported yesterday, Alabama slunk into the College Football Playoff over Big 10 champion Ohio State and Pac 12 champ USC. Why? Because of politics. The folks behind the CFP and their media partner, ESPN, are under the impression the Crimson Tide, who lost 9 days ago to Auburn, are a bigger ratings draw than the others.


So what if USC & Ohio State had 2 losses each? Auburn ended with 2 losses after Georgia bumped them off to win the SEC title on Saturday night. As a result, as mentioned yesterday, there are no teams from the East, Midwest, or West, aside from Big 12 champ Oklahoma, which identifies more as a Southwestern team, in the Playoff on January 1, and that's wrong for those who are more concerned about ratings in major media markets like New York, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Since the Rose Bowl will host one of the playoff games, USC & Ohio State, who would normally be in Pasadena on January 1, will be elsewhere.

Committee chairman and chief apologist Kirby Hocutt of Texas Tech tried to clarify the committee's final decisions, but it all ended up a bunch of excuses to cover the political games being played behind the scenes. Like, don't ya think there were some committee members in Charlotte on Saturday morning when Alabama coach Nick Saban was a guest on ESPN's College GameDay? I'm now convinced that the fix was in.

Enjoy your Weasel ears, Mr. Hocutt. You deserve them.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, the poster boy for fraternity behavior in the NFL, did his best impersonation of a wrestler, not specifically his real-life pal, WWE's Mojo Rawley, in Sunday's win over Buffalo. Perhaps overcome by the need to over-perform in front of his homies in the area, Gronkowski was flagged for a late hit on Buffalos Tre'Davious White, who left with a concussion. Now, you wonder if Gronkowski will wind up suspended or get a slap on the wrist from the NFL. After all, he did apologize for his actions, and so did coach Bill Belichick.

Maybe Gronk's warming up for Wrestlemania in April. Rawley needs a new tag team partner after turning on Zack Ryder last week, and.......!
Congratulations to Saratoga resident Bobby Fish, who, along with regular tag team partner Kyle O'Reilly, copped the NXT tag titles at the tapings in Orlando on Wednesday. Not too thrilled with this current gimmick that has the former reDRagon teaming with O'Reilly's old partner, Adam Cole, to form the Undisputed Era in NXT. All that is, really is another nWo/Bullet Club clone gimmick. Cole has all the charisma of a burned toothpick, and wore out his welcome in Ring of Honor earlier this year. The title match will be shown on WWE Network on December 20.
The timing of this next item is a little dubious if you're a fan of former WWE champ John Cena.

Cena, currently in "Daddy's Home 2" with Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell, & Mel Gibson, and soon to be heard in "Ferdinand" next week, is being sued by Ford after he reneged on a deal to keep a vehicle he'd recently acquired for 2 years. Cena, for whatever reason, turned around and sold the vehicle within a few weeks. To his credit, Cena, knowing that the lawsuit would stain his WWE image, has agreed to work with Ford to pay restitution.
Giants coach Ben McAdoo may be an ex-coach soon, and why not?

Never mind that McAdoo, who will never be confused with former NBA star Bob McAdoo, a former Knick, was mocked by Fox celebrity NFL handicapper and KFC pitchman Rob Riggle before Sunday's game vs. Oakland. Then, Big Blue slumbered through most of the first quarter before finally putting some points on the board behind QB Geno Smith, only to lose the game and drop to 2-10, their worst record after 12 games in 41 years.

I honestly believe the Giants made a big mistake by not bouncing McAdoo (or, should that be, McAdon't?) after Big Blue opened the season 0-5. GM Jerry Reese didn't address the team's biggest off-season issue, the offensive line, which has more holes than a cake of Swiss cheese, in the draft or via free agency, likely because he was checking peanut butter futures at the time.

Updated, 12:13 pm (ET): Reese & McAdoo are both gone with 4 games remaining in the season.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

On The Air: Skip & Shannon: Undisputed (2016)

Fox Sports 1 lured long time Dallas Morning News columnist Skip Bayless away from ESPN and Howard Cosell wanna-be Stephen A. Smith last year. The end result? Bayless now has to share a 2 1/2 hour mid-morning show with ex-NFLer Shannon Sharpe (ex-The NFL Today).

Skip & Shannon: Undisputed is bloated because FS1 wants to 1-up ESPN's First Take, where Smith is routinely being clowned and taken to school by new partner Max Kellerman. Sharpe has learned how to improve his communicative skills since leaving CBS, since he came off as being a little too marble-mouthed on Sunday afternoons. However, he has the same problem as Smith does. Smith was a basketball beat reporter for ESPN before being allowed to pretend he could host a talk show, much less emulate his idol, Cosell. Smith has routinely been exposed as being ignorant about other sports besides basketball. Sharpe comes from the NFL (Ravens, Broncos), but can be seen looking at his notes on other sports subjects, so that it looks like he legitimately is prepared to talk about basketball. Since I'm usually at work when the show is on, I wouldn't know if he similarly is prepared for boxing, UFC, etc..

Anyway, in this clip from Nov. 30, Skip & Shannon discuss Wednesday's Lakers-Warriors game....

Unfortunately, the Fred Sanford of stage dads, Lavar Ball, has made appearances on the show, as well as on other FS1 shows and ESPN, unwilling to dissolve the delusion that he believes his son, Lonzo, is better than Golden State's Stephen Curry. All he's doing is adding more pressure to his son. Not good.

I made the note about Sharpe having his notes before him. I haven't seen Screamin' A. with notes in front of him too often. He should be Lavar's manager. They deserve each other.

Rating: B.

College football shuffles the playoff deck

Later today, the College Football Playoff selection committee will make public who will qualify for the Playoff, to take place on January 1. Based on the results of yesterday's games, we may not need ESPN eating up half the afternoon to get to that result.

Top-ranked Clemson won its 3rd straight Atlantic Coast Conference title in thrashing Miami. #3 Oklahoma copped the Big 12 title in similarly dominating fashion by demolishing Texas Christian (TCU). Meanwhile, Auburn could not sustain the momentum of beating Alabama last week, and lost out on the Southeastern Conference title, as Georgia achieved revenge for a beating last month. Ohio State ended Wisconsin's bid for a perfect season, and claimed the Big 10 title in the process.

And, so, as of now, it seems this is how the playoff would shake out:

1. Clemson.
2. Georgia.
3. Oklahoma.
4. Ohio State.

However, there is a debate as to whether or not Ohio State belongs in the Playoff anyway, considering they have 2 losses, one of those in the Big 10 (Iowa), and the other a non-conference loss to Oklahoma. Alabama coach Nick Saban was a guest on ESPN's College GameDay on Saturday, but I didn't see the whole show, so I can't say if he was on the stump for his team. Ideally, as it stands now, the Playoff has 4 teams, one each from 4 of the "Power 5" conferences, as Pac-12 champion USC is on the outside after beating Stanford on Friday. The underlying factor in allowing Ohio State, which would face Clemson in the Playoff, over Alabama or even Central Florida, the only undefeated team left in the FBS, is the prospect of high ratings for a potential rematch with Oklahoma, should the Sooners beat Georgia on January 1.

Updated, 1:27 pm (ET): Alabama, despite not being in the SEC title game, gets in ahead of Ohio State, and for the 2nd year in a row, the Big 10 champion (Penn State last year) gets hosed. Only 3 of the "Power 5" conferences will be represented, and I'm already reading comments from angry fans who believe that because there are no teams from the East, Midwest, or West, the ratings will plummet. Not so sure about that. Was the fix in? We'll never know.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Origin of a Classic: Andy Griffith meets Danny Thomas (1960)

From Make Room For Daddy, aka The Danny Thomas Show:

Danny Williams (Thomas) and family end up getting towed into what would be Mayberry, NC by Sheriff Andy Taylor (Griffith), who's a little closer to Griffith's characterization of Will Stockdale in "No Time For Sergeants" than the gentle, pacifist sheriff we'd see over 8 seasons of The Andy Griffith Show. In fact, the character of Andy Taylor would soften into its final form over the course of the first two seasons.

Regrettably, there would not be a "rematch", as Thomas didn't appear on The Andy Griffith Show.

Rating: A-.

Sports this 'n' that

I haven't watched a lot of golf lately, and that's not about to change. Even with Tiger Woods back on the course.

Woods, 20 years removed from his 1st Masters title, is 5 shots off the lead after 2 rounds of the Hero World Challenge.That's fine, but if the PGA and NBC think that's enough to lure viewers away from college football today, they're dreaming. It's been nearly a year since Woods last set foot on the course for a competitive round, and he's not the ratings draw he once was because of injuries and scandal over the last few years. Just sayin'.
USC punched its ticket to the Rose Bowl by beating Stanford, 31-28, to claim the Pac-12 title on Friday, but not without some controversy. Seems the zebras blew a 4th & goal call on a Stanford drive with a premature whistle. USC, starting at their own 1, marched 99 yards for the winning score. It was already a given that the Pac-12 champ was not going to be in the College Football Playoff next month, but today's games will have an effect on that for sure.
After 12, nearly 13 years with the WWE's main roster, mostly as Dolph Ziggler, Nick Nemeth may be ready to move on, and follow a path blazed by former champion and commentator John Layfield.

The Kent State product appeared on Edge & Christian's podcast Friday, dropping hints that he could be heading to Fox News or Fox Business, having appeared on Kennedy a few times on the latter channel. Nemeth holds a degree in political science from Kent State, and, like Layfield before him, may have his future career mapped out already. Layfield began his broadcasting career with both WWE AND Fox News a decade ago, appearing on the latter's Bulls & Bears and Fox & Friends, and is also a best-selling author (Have More Money Now in the early 00's), As Dolph, Nemeth has already proven his worth with a microphone, and if he's ready to walk away from the WWE, more power to him.
Meanwhile, former baseball player Aaron Boone is headed in the opposite direction.

Boone, who has been an analyst for ESPN since retiring a few years back, was hired by one of his former clubs, the Yankees, on Friday as their new manager. This after the media had been swerved with reports that the Bombers had reached out to a more recent star, newly retired Carlos Beltran, about the position. Bank on this. They aren't digging this in Boston........
Troy High's women's basketball team opened their season in a tournament in Oneonta Friday, and we'll have the results if at all possible before the end of the weekend. Meanwhile, the boys open at Shenendehowa on Tuesday. As reported on Thursday, the Flying Horses won't have star guard Daniel Buie, who transferred to Gould Academy in Maine, and, while I'm not privy to who may be on this season's roster, interim coach Greg Davis may be looking at avoiding the grey division basement in the Suburban Council. Opening the season at Shen, then a 2-game homestand with Shaker & CBA? Killer, although the Horses have beaten Shaker & CBA in recent years.

The girls open at home with Shen, as the Lady Plainsmen make their 2nd trip to Troy in less than a year, and will have a non-league Sunday matinee on December 10 vs. Baldwinsville before Mohonasen comes in on the 15th. Again, I'm not expecting great things, and that is just this writer being realistic.
So LeBron James was ejected from an NBA game for the first time in his career the other night. Big whoop.
It was just a matter of time before Lavar Ball began second-&-third guessing Lakers coach Luke Walton, and that was the case Wednesday when the Lakers lost to Golden State, all because Walton called a timeout late in the game, and didn't set up a play for rookie Lonzo Ball. The real-life Fred Sanford predictably pitched a fit, still living under the delusion that 1) he knows how to coach better than Walton. If that was true, he'd be an NBA coach instead of a mentally deficient stage parent, 2) The Lakers are a playoff team, 3) That Lonzo is better than Warriors star Steph Curry, and 4) He thinks the Lakers would have won the game if Lonzo had the ball on the final play.

Considering that Lavar pulled his AAU summer team off the court at least twice when things didn't go his way, that says he's not of sound mind. The NBA should take note and hire someone to serve as a public relations flack for Ball. Since Jonathan Coachman left ESPN, maybe he can take the job. Ball's nutty enough to remind Coachman of his WWE days.

Speaking of which, before he dropped the Intercontinental title a week and a half ago in order to shoot the next "Marine" movie, Michael "The Miz" Mizanin spilled that Ball wasn't fully cooperative when he appeared on Monday Night Raw when the WWE was last in Los Angeles over the summer. Gee, what a shock. Raw returns to the Staples Center, the Lakers & Clippers' home court, on Monday. Quick, where are the Lakers playing on Monday?

Friday, December 1, 2017

Countdown to Christmas: O Holy Night (1980)

I think when Jim Nabors did a Christmas special in 1980, it may not have been for CBS, his long-time network home, but perhaps for PBS. If someone can check into that for me, I'd appreciate it. Anyway, this show was taped in Hawaii, where Nabors would make his home until his passing yesterday. From this performance comes a stirring rendition of "O Holy Night".

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Jim Nabors (1930-2017)

Well, gollllllly!

News has just crossed the wires of the passing of actor-singer Jim Nabors, just a day after his 87th birthday.

Nabors, of course, is best remembered as Gomer Pyle, USMC. Gomer debuted on The Andy Griffith Show, then was spun off into his own series, which ran for five seasons (1964-9). In a way, Gomer's solo series was modeled after Mort Walker's still-running comic strip, Beetle Bailey, except that Gomer was a Marine, as opposed to Beetle being in the Army.

As demonstrated in this clip from Gomer Pyle USMC, Nabors' Southern drawl disappeared when it came time to sing. This would explain how he was also a million-selling recording artist for Columbia....

For 43 years (1972-2014), Nabors also sang at the Indianapolis 500, performing "Back Home Again  in Indiana":

In 1975, Nabors landed his last series gig, this time starring in a Saturday morning sci-fi series, The Lost Saucer with Ruth Buzzi (ex-Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In). The series, however, lasted just 1 season, and other than the occasional movie gig, Nabors would wind down his career rather quietly.

Nabors spent his final years in Hawaii, and, as noted, passed away earlier today, just a day after celebrating his birthday. Rest in peace, Jim. You've earned it.

Section II players opt for prep school before graduating. Does it make sense?

Reporting in today's Albany Times-Union, James Allen wrote that some premier Section II basketball players are taking their talents elsewhere this season. The prep school bug has hit Section II again, and for some teams, the timing just couldn't be worse.

Two years ago, Troy High's boys basketball team lost star guard Zach Radz when he opted to transfer to a prep school. Today, Allen is reporting that Daniel Buie, who would've been in his senior season at Troy, and was the basketball equivalent to Joey Ward with the Flying Horses, transferred to Gould Academy in Bethel, Maine, a member of the New England Prep School Athletic Council (NEPSAC), which counts Albany Academy For Boys among their member schools in football and hockey. Suddenly, five days before the season opener at Shenendehowa, interim coach Greg Davis is facing an even rougher road than he thought.

Stop and think for a second. Davis is filling in for Richard Hurley, who decided to take a year off to spend more time with his family, although he's still fulfilling his other duties as an assistant to principal Joseph Mariano, Jr.. Once that news got out in March, after Troy's 1-&-done elimination in the sectionals, I suspect the other shoe may have dropped, depending on when Buie decided to transfer, be it before the end of the school year, or over the summer. According to Allen, Buie has reclassified as a junior once more, and will play two seasons at Gould.

Greg Davis coached at least one game in Hurley's absence last season, a home loss to Bethlehem. Now, I cannot be certain if there were any issues between Buie and Davis, and I doubt that there were any, but considering that Hurley coached Buie's brother, Taran, at Bishop Maginn, maybe Buie felt more comfortable listening to Hurley, and having a different voice calling plays this season than accustomed may or may not have been a factor in his decision.

Meanwhile, Colonie's Bryce Waterman, Columbia's Grace Heeps, and Glens Falls' Sophie Tougas have all transferred to prep schools as well. Heeps & Tougas are attending NEPSAC schools, per Allen's report, but while there was no mention of where Waterman was going this season, I suspect he, too, is attending a NEPSAC member school.

So why the switch? As I've written before, these moves are made with an eye toward bolstering one's chances of being recruited to a Division I college (i.e. Duke, Syracuse, UAlbany). Tougas, like Buie, has reclassified as a junior, so maybe grades are a factor, too.

For Troy, which won the Suburban Council Grey division title in their first season in the league, then dropped to 3rd last year, and already dealing with the prospect of not having certain players (i.e. Joe Casale) ready by the Shen game on December 5 due to the length of football season, the departure of Buie likely brings this reaction:

There is a downside to going to a NEPSAC school, though, for student-athletes, as Albany Academy already knows. Local media coverage will be minimal, if not sparse, due to a lack of available resources for local newspapers and television stations.

For Troy fans, it's going to be a looooooooong winter.

And, so, they fall like dominoes.........

Not a day goes by now without a headline or two telling us that someone prominent in politics, television, movies, etc., is facing charges of sexual harassment dating back years in some cases.

For example, right before airtime on Wednesday, NBC sacked Matt Lauer, who'd been on Today for 2 decades. Seems to me that in the mind of Lauer's detractors, this was a long time coming. Later in the day, Garrison Keillor, creator and former host of A Prairie Home Companion, was given the boot by Minnesota Public Radio.

All of this comes on the heels of revelations of similar improprieties involving Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore, Minnesota senator and former TV personality Al Franken, actor Kevin Spacey, movie execuitve Harvey Weinstein, and Andrew Kreigsberg, who earlier this week was bounced by Warner Bros. Television.

Today's Record tells us that there may be a scandal close to home, too.

Newly elected Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin is dealing with some issues from the recent past during his tenure in the state Assembly involving---what else?---interns. Just what the county GOP doesn't need, as they retained control of the County Executive's seat, at least for now. If an investigation is warranted, though, I suspect McLaughlin won't last long in his new post, as there may be so much public pressure for him to step down before he can actually settle in.

And what of the Pervert-in-Chief? Let's remember that a nation of disenfranchised voters elected Donald Trump last year, despite the fact that an 11 year old Access Hollywood video surfaced right before the election where Trump bragged that because of his celebrity status, he could do anything and get away with it.

However, America's biggest man-child is now claiming the video was doctored. Typical Trump, resorting to childish tantrums to avoid manning up and accepting responsibility for his actions. He even went so far as to call for an investigation into NBC News head Andrew Lack and commentator Joe Scarborough, recalling a cold case from Scarborough's days as a Florida politician in which an intern had been found dead in his office. The authorities say the the victim suffered from cardiac issues. Trump, not knowing all the facts, and already in an online feud with Scarborough, claims there was a cover-up. Predictably, on Morning Joe, Mika Brezinski, speaking for Scarborough, refuted the President's false claims.

37 years ago, Ronald Reagan was elected President, the first to make the transition from Hollywood to the Oval Office, having warmed up for the Presidency by serving as Governor of California. Because of that experience, Reagan is held in high esteem for his two terms in office. Trump? For a man who reportedly became a born-again Christian last year, the President is behaving like anything but, and that's not good. Instead, he continues to play the role of the Ugly American, stirring up the gullible fan base to deflect from his inexperience in handling political matters. As I've written in this space before, VP Mike Pence might need to add Chaplain to his duties, and remind Trump that he has a responsibility not only to a base of disgruntled citizens, but the entire country, which views him now with a collective side-eye because of his own sordid past, and his unwillingness to address the real issues before him without resorting to a juvenile Twitter-tantrum when things don't go his way.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

On The Air: Crisis on Earth-X (2017)

The ratings sweeps for this month are wrapping up, and the CW held their biggest draw right to the end.

The network bumped freshman military drama Valor for one week, moving Arrow from its usual Thursday berth so that they could have the four-part DCTVU miniseries, Crisis on Earth-X, run across just 2 nights of programming. Seems the suits thought that a 3-night, 4-part crossover last season wasn't feasible enough. For what it's worth, a rerun of Penn & Teller: Fool Us, which usually airs during the summer, will fill in for Arrow tomorrow night.

Anyway, the miniseries starts with Supergirl. The titular heroine (Melissa Benoist) is prodded by adoptive sister Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) to accept the invitation to the Earth-1 wedding of Barry Allen, aka The Flash (Grant Gustin) and his lady love, Iris West (Candice Patton), with Alex as Kara's guest in place of ex-beau Mon-El (Chris Wood), who had just returned to Earth-38, the setting of Supergirl, but his relationship with Kara has become compromised. I'll have to explain that one another time.

After last year's crossover, Kara was given a remote transport device that opens a "breach", or, dimensional warp, to Earth-1, so she & Alex step into the breach to visit some old friends. Meanwhile, on Earth-1, Star City Mayor Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and his on-again, off-again lady fair, Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) arrive in Central City for the nuptials. Members of the Legends of Tomorrow reach home from 12th century England after wrapping up a case there, and this creates an awkward moment when Mick Rory, otherwise known as Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell) is reacquainted with Captain Singh of the CCPD.

But, just as Barry & Iris are about to say "I do", the minister is vaporized, and a group of modern-day Nazis, led by evil dopplegangers of Green Arrow and Supergirl, storm the church, leading to a pitched battle. These Nazis come from Earth-X, an alternate world where the Nazis won World War II and altered the course of history there. Comics fans know that Earth-X gave birth, also, to the super team known as the Freedom Fighters, who will star in a CW Seed animated series, which, apparently, is or will soon be available online. This miniseries, then, is a prequel to the cartoon. Go figure.

Rather than spoil things for anyone that hasn't seen any of the 4 parts over the last two nights (it'll be On Demand by the end of the week), scope the trailer.

On the plus side, the network began airing teasers for the next entry from producer Greg Berlanti, Black Lightning, which bows January 16, replacing Legends, which apparently will be shifted to another night for the 2nd time in as many years.

On the whole, Crisis on Earth-X was largely entertaining, though your actual mileage may vary.

Rating: A-.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Musical Interlude: There is a Time (1964)

Any time the bluegrass group The Dillards appeared on The Andy Griffith Show as the Darling brothers, you had to know there'd be a musical number or two mixed in. This is no exception.

Here, the Darlings (The Dillards, Maggie Peterson, & Denver Pyle) are jamming again with Andy, this time on "There is a Time". Now, Andy sang this one solo earlier in the series' run, mixing in some whistling. This time, Charlene (Peterson) sings lead, and it is such that Andy & Briscoe (Pyle) stop playing. In the Darling patriarch's case, it's just as Charlene feared. He starts crying.

The Dillards actually made the rounds on variety shows as themselves, including an appearance on The Judy Garland Show. We'll have that up soon.

A little of this and a little of that

First off, congratulations to England's Prince Harry and his new fiancee, actress Meghan Markle (Suits), who announced their engagement on Monday. Wedding is sometime in the spring, and, oh, the media circus that will follow. Certain disreputable supermarket tabloids have been claiming the engagement/and or nuptials had already taken place as a means of trying to attract readers to their now useless rags, which belong in the fiction section of your local newsstand, not at the front counter, alongside, say for example, Time, which is dealing with its own problems with perception, especially as it relates to a certain deranged lunatic running the country.
And, as for President Trump, he put his foot in his mouth again Monday. In attendance at an event honoring the Navajo codetalkers of World War II, Trump took the occasion to make a subtle dig at one of his Democratic rivals, Senator Elizabeth Warren. As long as there are cameras present, Trump is going to make a fool of himself, but only he and his brainwashed followers won't see it that way.

Trump is a 70-something man-child who reacts the way a little boy would when things don't go his way, except that little boys, say around kindergarten age, don't know how to use Twitter, and abuse it the way Trump does.

The President railed against the NFL again as well, and his detractors see it as a distraction from the real issues at hand, including the national tax bill, which Trump doesn't know how to address, or care to. Seems to me much of his policy was borne after watching "Wag The Dog" a few times too many.
Troy High senior tailback Joey Ward's dazzling touchdown run vs. Lancaster made ESPN's SportsCenter Top 10 Plays for Sunday. As Albany Times-Union and Spectrum News high school analyst James Allen tweeted on Sunday, and it was retweeted by Troy High's Twitter account, Ward "spin-dried" four Lancaster defenders en route to the end zone. Watching the game on TV, I'd say this was an accurate description.
Even though New England & Pittsburgh have matching 9-2 records with 5 games left, the Steelers are the #1 seed in the AFC as of now based on a greater conference record, and the two teams are set to meet next month, which would decide the #1 seed once and for all. Pittsburgh struggled to put away Green Bay on Sunday night, thus making fools out of the oddsmakers who installed AFC North leaders as a 14 point favorite. New England was favored by as much as 16 1/2 vs. Miami, and covered, but they, too, had their struggles, despite the fact that Miami was without starting QB Jay Cutler (concussion).

I still think the Pats should do more to diversify the offense (didn't see the game, as it was not available in the Albany market), rather than cater to Tom Brady's ego and keep the offense based on him. Rex Burkhead, who came over from Cincinnati in the off-season, scored two TD's on Sunday, and between Burkhead and Albany native Dion Lewis, New England does have a good enough running game, but in the mind of CIA wanna-be Bill Belichick, it's an afterthought since he has to pacify his primadonna QB first.
Time to hand out a belated Dunce Cap, if but because the story was late in reaching the local press.

Joseph Cooper, 30, was arrested not once, but twice on shoplifting charges last week, and on the same day, no less.

You see, Cooper first stole some items at Market 32 (formerly Price Chopper) on Hoosick Road, and was arrested by state troopers, who issued an appearance ticket, charging him not only with petit larceny, but also drug possession, since they found cocaine in his car.

Not to be outdone, the troopers were called later that afternoon to Walmart, further up the road, and Cooper was arrested again. This time, he was sent to the county jail.

Now why would this Dunce let himself get busted twice in the same day? I'd say he may have still been stoned from the cocaine enough to lose sight of the fact that even though he went back to the general area where he was busted the first time, he got nailed again. Probation isn't the answer in this case, but rather a few months in the jail should straighten out his few remaining brain cells.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Countdown To Christmas: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (1944)

From "Meet Me In St. Louis", here's Judy Garland's take on the classic Yuletide song, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas".

Sunday, November 26, 2017

What Might've Been: The Smith Family (1971)

Don Fedderson hadn't sold a series to ABC since My Three Sons moved to CBS. When the 1970-1 season began, he had just 1 series left, and that was The Lawrence Welk Show, which moved to syndication in the fall of '71.

In the winter of '71, Fedderson sold The Smith Family to ABC. Originally meant to be a comedy-drama, sort of like Room 222, except it was about a cop (Henry Fonda) and his family, the format was changed in the 2nd season to a straight sitcom, and the show's theme song, a cover of "Primrose Lane", sung by Mike Minor (Petticoat Junction) was added.

When you consider that the supporting cast included Ron Howard (ex-The Andy Griffith Show), three years away from Happy Days, and British actor Michael James-Wixted, you'd think the kiddo's would've been sitting in watching with the parents. Well, we don't know that for sure. After the show was cancelled, the only TV work Fonda would do going forward was a series of commercials shilling for GAF's View-Master.

Following is a network promo, which looks like it was joined in progress. Voiceover by John Erwin.

I cannot recall if I've seen the show, so no rating.

The quest for history: Lancaster vs. Troy (Class AA championship), 11/26/17

Through the course of the 2017 season, Troy High, in its quest to win back-to-back state titles in football, played some of the same opponents they beat last year en route to the title (i.e. Shenendehowa, CBA, Newburgh). To win their 2nd straight Class AA title, they had to beat a team that was in its first state title game.

Lancaster, out of the Buffalo area, was, like Holy Trinity in Class C on Friday, in their first title game. The football program at Lancaster had been in operation for 98 seasons, far fewer than Troy, which opened the high school all the way back in 1852.

Lancaster took the opening kickoff, but after one initial 1st down, turned the ball over on downs. Troy did the same on their first possession. On Troy's 2nd possession, it was business as usual, with Joey Ward running it in to give Troy a 6-0 lead. Michael Fazio's PAT was blocked. On Troy's next possession, Joe Casale hit Dev Holmes for a TD toss. Off the Wildcat formation, Ward ran in the 2 point conversion to make it 14-0.

Back came Lancaster. Andrew Hersey ran it in from 5 yards out to bring the Legends within 14-7. On the next Lancaster possession, QB Ryan Mansell was picked off by Holmes at the Lancaster 4. Casale then directed a 96 yard drive, ending with his 2nd TD toss to Holmes. However, the PAT was blocked again, and Troy led, 20-7, at the break.

Troy took the 2nd half kickoff and marched down the field again, as Casale threw his 3rd TD pass of the game, this one to Ward. Casale ran the 2 point conversion in himself to make it 28-7.

Lancaster, however, wasn't about to wave the white flag. Mansell found Hersey in the corner of the end zone, beating Luis Virola, and suddenly, the lead was 28-14. We had a game after all. At least for now. Troy came right back, as Ward scored his 3rd TD, but the conversion failed, and it was now 34-14.

A Troy fumble set up the Legends deep in Troy territory, and multi-tasking specialist Joe Andreessen, who split time as a lineman and running back, ran it in from 3 yards out to make it 34-20. After Troy's next possession ended on another turnover on downs, Mansell hit Kyle Barger with a 72 yard bomb. PAT was no good, making it 34-26. Time to squirm if you're a Troy fan.

However, the Flying Horses put the game away once and for all on their next drive, as Ward scored his 4th TD of the game, 3rd on the ground. Jordan Audi, who handled kickoffs all day, kicked the PAT. After Lancaster turned it over on downs with under 90 seconds to play, Troy ran out the clock, running their winning streak to 26 in a row with a 41-26 verdict.

As per normal, penalties nearly did in the Flying Horses, as they were called for about a dozen, most of them in the 2nd half, but Lancaster was flagged only twice the entire game. As the entire starting offense is graduating next June, following the obligatory appearance in the Flag Day parade, since Troy doesn't do ticker tape parades, coach Bob Burns will stress discipline more than usual when training camp starts in August. Fazio will either be the the quarterback or kicker or both next season, and Troy does have some skill players coming back, such as Xavier Leigh, plus whomever is promoted from the junior varsity.

History was made twice in Section II this weekend, as Cambridge repeated as D champ on Friday. Now, the mission is to, well, three-peat. We'll see.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Old Time Radio: The Couple Next Door (1957)

It is the simplest of concepts, such that it can be adapted and/or remolded many times over.

Peg Lynch first created Ethel & Albert in 1944, and that series moved from ABC to NBC to CBS before it was all said & done. A TV version aired on ABC in the early 50's. What you might not know was that future movie tough guy Richard Widmark was Lynch's original leading man.

In 1957, Lynch revisited the concept with CBS' The Couple Next Door, which ran for 3 years (1957-60) as a daily program. Alan Bunce, who had succeeded Widmark on Ethel & Albert, continued with Lynch in this series. The other constant was Margaret Hamilton ("The Wizard of Oz"), who played a relative on both shows.

A few months ago, I acquired a 6-CD set of the series thanks to a contest that fellow blogger Ivan Shreve runs periodically over at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear. This set covers a month-plus worth of episodes from December 1958-January 1959. "Christmas Day at The Pipers" aired on Christmas Day 1958.

Stunned by the lack of a laugh track? I was, but then it wasn't needed here after all. To think I had never heard of this show before seeing an entry in Radio Spirits' catalog.

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

Normally, you don't see colleges firing coaches in mid-season. However, with bowl season right around the corner, three have been dismissed in the last week, including today, joining former Florida coach Jim McIlwane & Tennessee's Butch Jones on the unemployment line.

UCLA quietly dumped Jim Mora, Jr. a week ago, and earlier today announced the hiring of "Tortilla" Chip Kelly, who returns to the college ranks, and the Pac-12 in particular, after a 4 year stint in the NFL (Philadelphia, San Francisco). While this will ratchet up the in-city rivalry in Los Angeles with USC, it won't really do anything on the national landscape as long as most of the attention is focused on the SEC.

Arkansas bounced Bret Bielema after 5 seasons on Friday, mere seconds after the Razorbacks lost to Missouri. Earlier today, Nebraska sacked coach Mike Riley. You think maybe the Cornhuskers are regretting ever moving from the Big 12 to the Big 10? They just don't fit, but administration there just chases the money, and that's all that matters to them.

The latest rumor has Mike Leach ready to bolt Washington State to take the Tennessee job. There were rumors earlier this week that had "Wisteria" Lane Kiffin, now the head man at Florida Atlantic, possibly giving it another try in orange & white. Nope. Not going to happen.

Seems the rumor mills have finally gotten a clue and stopped name-dropping ESPN's Jon Gruden every time there's a coaching vacancy. My own thinking on that is that Gruden is holding out for another NFL job, not specifically as a head coach, but the dream job, in this writer's opinion, would be to join brother Jay in Washington as an "associate head coach". Jay Gruden could use the help, even though the Trumpets beat the Giants on Thanksgiving night. I just don't think Jon Gruden, who also has an endorsement deal with Corona thanks to his ESPN gig, wants to rock the boat in the NFL right now.
In high school football, Cinderella's glass slippers broke at the worst possible time.

Holy Trinity failed in its bid to win its first state title in Class C on Friday night, despite a furious 4th quarter rally, and dropped a 28-25 decision to Skaneateles. Bear in mind that QB Joe Tortello, who threw 4 touchdown passes on Friday, is just a sophomore. Skaneateles QB Patrick Hackler is a junior, and broke the 3,000 yard mark for the season on Friday, throwing 3 TD's while giving up 2 interceptions, both to Holy Trinity RB/DB Nacier Hundley. Hackler returned the favor after the first pick, picking off Hundley, who had to move to QB for one play when Tortello lost his helmet.

Could we see both teams in a rematch next year? I doubt it. Spectrum News/Albany Times-Union analyst James Allen, who called the Cambridge-Maple Grove game, said he believes there's a possibility that Cambridge will move from Class D to Class C next year, especially after winning back-to-back state titles in Class D. We'll know for sure in about 3 1/2 months.
Jests coach Todd "salad" Bowles was quoted in the press today as saying Gang Green needs to win out to make the playoffs. Sounds like he's hoping to save his job. Unfortunately, the Jests play Carolina tomorrow, then host Kansas City, and have a rematch with New England looming in Foxborough. Bowles, along with his Giants counterpart, Ben McAdoo, will be emptying his office after the last game of the season. Bowles' reluctance to use 2nd year QB Christian Hackenburg or 3rd year signal caller Bryce Petty in place of Josh McCown is going to be what costs him his job.
The Giants' Olivier Vernon is the latest to incur the wrath of the Ugly American-in-Chief.

President Trump has made NFL players' penchant for kneeling during the "Star Spangled Banner" more about disrespect for the flag and the US than about protesting racial inequalities and social injustices. There are better ways to address the latter, but as long as the most attention-addicted President in human history continues to champion racism and bigotry from his bully pulpit in the White House, the players are better off finding those alternate means to address their concerns.

One solution is for the players association to meet with the NFL about giving the players a forum, before the game, of course, to address societal issues, such as the obligatory interviews to the league's media partners (ESPN/ABC, Fox, CBS, NBC, NFL Network). Take that route, though it won't exactly mean it'll get President Trump off the players' backs, and the message will be much louder than it's been since the protests started in the 2016 pre-season.
The freefall of the Dallas Cowboys illustrates the unspoken problem some teams have.

2nd year RB Ezekiel Elliott will return in week 16, but the damage has already been done to the Cowboys' chances of catching Philadelphia and winning the NFC East, if not also any hope of a Wild Card. Factor in also the injury to LB Sean Lee, and the Cowboys' collective psyche has been damaged. The defense hasn't been able to close games, and couldn't stop the Chargers' Philip Rivers on Thanksgiving Day. The offense isn't exactly one dimensional, but teams are forcing 2nd year QB Dak Prescott to try to beat them through the air more than on the ground. I think they will have one more game with the Giants before Elliott returns, which might be the only win over his 6 game suspension.
I find it amusing that certain media outlets think Minnesota's Case Keenum, a journeyman, is hotter than New England's stat-hogging Tom Brady right now. Yes, the Vikings have won seven straight after beating Detroit on Thanksgiving Day, with Keenum starting the last six. The Vikings are winning because they have something the Patriots are reluctant to admit they don't have. A balanced offensive attack. Brady pads his stats to satisfy his ego while the marks genuflect and declare him the greatest QB of all time, which he isn't by a country mile (Joe Montana says hello), and the running game, featuring Albany native Dion Lewis, gets the short shrift. Why do you think the Patriots let LeGarrette Blount go (now in Philadelphia and about to win another division title anyway)? Why did they give up on other running backs like Shane Vereen or Stevan Ridley? Because Brady believes the offense revolves around him and only him. Apparently, he didn't get the message in 2008 when he got hurt in week 1 and missed the rest of the season.

Reality check: Brady is 40. Time will catch up with him.
Just when you think you've got the College Football Playoff figured out, heading into conference championship games next week, think again.

Miami will play for the ACC title next week, but the Hurricanes were ambushed by Pittsburgh on Friday, this after Miami had eliminated old nemesis Notre Dame from contention.

Now, the reigning SEC champion, Alabama, has fallen to in-state rival Auburn, 26-14. The Tigers, now 10-2, advance to play Georgia for the SEC title in Atlanta next week. Only political favoritism will give the Crimson Tide a chance to make the playoff when the teams are announced December 3. Ohio State will play for the Big 10 title vs. Wisconsin next week, but there aren't that many that think the 2-loss Buckeyes, who beat Michigan today, will win the title. When the updated chart comes out Tuesday, we may have an idea.