Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sports this 'n' that

In the wake of last weekend's incident in Charlottesville, Va., Boston Red Sox owner John Henry is calling for the city to rechristen Yawkey Way, feeling that continuing to honor the former owner of the team would be to continue to celebrate the team's dubious history of racial intolerance. The Sawx were the last team to field an African American player, all the way back in 1959, 12 years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier. Today's Red Sox have more than their share of African American and Latino players (shortstop Xander Bogaerts is from Curacao in the Netherlands), like every other team in the majors, but to be honest with you, I have never understood why management was so slow to, ah, get with the program back in the day.

Bear in mind, too, that the 3 World Series titles that the Sawx have won in this century have been under Henry's stewardship. Just sayin'.
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To the surprise of no one, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has filed an appeal of his 6 game suspension for domestic abuse. Around the same time, it's gotten out that his ex-girlfriend, apparently, was looking to exploit Elliott's fame to feather her own nest. Now, we don't know all the facts, but doesn't it seem as though the seeming victim in cases like this often have hidden agendas? Just sayin'.

Also, it's another case that the NFL has dragged its corporate feet on. Last year, Elliott was 1/2 of a two-headed rookie bulldozer (w/QB Dak Prescott) that carried Dallas to the NFC East title, and any ruling at that time would've had an adverse effect on that playoff run. Hmmmmm.
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When the Mets started making trades before the deadline last month---and have made a couple of waiver deals since---it was clear that the white flag had been raised and the team was conceding the NL East. This year's Subway Series ended up a 1-sided affair, as the Yankees swept the series for the first time in 14 years. The Mets lost to Miami last night to run the current losing streak to 5. Some of the online crybabies are calling not so much for Terry Collins' head, but that of pitching coach Dan Warthen. The simple truth is that the injuries have been too much to overcome this year. Pitcher Seth Lugo was put on the DL, along with infielder Jose Reyes, before the Yankee series was over. Lugo going back to the DL had me thinking that maybe, just maybe he and Steven Matz, Thursday's starter, had been rushed back a little sooner than they should've, and now they're paying the price.
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Two weeks remain in the Northeastern Football Alliance's regular season, and you wouldn't know unless you read this blog on a regular basis. That's how little attention is paid to the league and the hometown team, the Troy Fighting Irish, who finish the regular season on the road. The local press will only pay attention when it's a slow news day, even if the Irish are in the postseason, which they are every year.
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Troy's other summer team, the Tri-City Valleycats, had a taste of first place in the Stedler Division, as we told you earlier in the week, but after the All-Star Game, have extended their current losing streak to 3 after dropping two games to Hudson Valley. Friday's game was rained out, and may not be made up, as the last open date before the playoffs comes the day after the regular season ends, and will only be done if the 'Cats are still in line for a playoff spot. The lone bright spot this week was collegiate HR champ Jake Adams winning the home run derby Tuesday prior to the All-Star Game. Trust me, you'll see Adams in the majors in a couple of years, so enjoy him in a 'Cats uni while you still can, with 3 weeks left in the regular season.
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NY Daily News media columnist Bob Raissman often refers to Michael Kay's radio sidekick, Don LaGreca, as the Yankee announcer's valet or houseboy, tongue firmly planted in cheek. However, LaGreca will take umbrage, as any radio host will, with ignorant or moronic callers.

Take for example this choice Yes Network simulcast clip from Thursday, prior to the conclusion of the Subway Series. Seems Steve from Brooklyn isn't an Aaron Judge fan.



Look, I get that Judge has fallen prey to the epidemic of strikeouts, a case of pitchers adjusting to him before he can pick it up and adjust in response. He's hit just 7 homers since the All-Star break, and while he still leads the AL, he's no longer the major league leader. That would be the man he's often compared to, Miami's Giancarlo Stanton (44 prior to last night). Steve from Brooklyn comes across as being dumber than a box of hammers, not so much the clown LaGreca paints him to be, but to think that Judge should've been pinch-hit for in the 9th inning of Wednesday's game? Now you know why Raissman refers to talk radio as the Valley of the Stupid.

Yo, Don, as one Mets fan to another, I feel your pain, man. Local radio legend Bob Mason often had the perfect response to idiots like Steve:

"Say goodbye, dummy!"

Friday, August 18, 2017

Creepy TV: The Man From The 25th Century (1968)

In 1968, Irwin Allen was in transition mode. At ABC, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was about to give way to Land of the Giants. Over at CBS, he had planned on a new series to replace Lost in Space, as that series was running on fumes after 3 seasons. Plans for a back-door pilot, however, had to be scrubbed because said pilot wasn't ready in time for presentation to network suits.

The Man From the 25th Century starred James Darren (ex-Time Tunnel) as an earthling, Robert Prentice, now known as Tomo, who'd been abducted by aliens as a youth, and trained to lead an invasion of his homeworld. The aliens were from a far advanced race. 500 years advanced, that is.

Unsurprisingly, Tomo finds that the aliens can't be trusted after all, and his loyalties are, in truth, to his native world.

The complete 16 1/2 minute pilot is available, but the lone poster on YouTube disabled the embedding code. For now, we'll serve up this morsel:



Had it gone to series, it would've certainly bombed, likely lasting less than half a season. Land of the Giants lasted 2 seasons at ABC, and it would be 5 years before Allen would land another series on ABC, this time an adaptation of Swiss Family Robinson (previously discussed).

Rating: D.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

What Might've Been: Harry O (1974)

David Janssen's final series brought him back to ABC in 1974 with Harry O. The O stands for Orwell, and I could imagine that they felt it easier if they went with just the initial, just so's not to confuse people with author George Orwell, whose Animal Farm had been adapted into an animated film that made the rounds on HBO that year, as memory serves.

Anyway, Harry O was the end result after 2 ABC Movie of the Week entries garnered sufficient ratings to warrant a regular series featuring the former police detective turned private eye. Orwell had been forced off the force after being shot by a hoodlum some years earlier. The series, however, lasted just 2 seasons. Why? Then programming head Fred Silverman, who came over from CBS, decided to take the network in a new direction, and decided to end Harry O, despite the fact the series was still generating decent ratings.

Halfway through the first season, the locale changed from San Diego to Los Angeles. Why? Can't really say, as I never saw the show. Anyway, Henry Darrow (ex-High Chaparral) was written out and killed off, and replaced by Anthony Zerbe, who would earn an Emmy for his work as Lt. K. C. Trench, Orwell's police contact in LA. An eclectic supporting cast over the course of two seasons included Mel Stewart (ex-Roll Out, later of Scarecrow & Mrs. King), G. W. Bailey, better known for his appearances on M*A*S*H, and Farrah Fawcett, who would move on to Charlie's Angels after 8 appearances in 2 seasons.

Warner Archive offers a sample clip:



No rating.

Will this nonsense ever end?

It wasn't long after I'd arrived at church for Bible study Wednesday night when the pastor's wife had filled me in on a shooting that took place back in the home district 24 hours earlier. This morning, I've read accounts of the incident in 2 local papers, including a protest that almost immediately followed the shooting of 22 year old Dahmeek McDonald, who'd been wanted on a parole violation, amplified by the fact that McDonald had somehow managed to remove an ankle bracelet meant to keep track of his whereabouts so that he wouldn't get into further trouble.

McDonald was shot twice, once in the head, and once in the shoulder, and is expected to recover. On Wednesday, dozens of people marched down Hoosick Street, all the way to City Hall on River Street. Members of McDonald's immediate family met for anywhere from a half hour to an hour with Mayor Patrick Madden, based on accounts in the two local papers. Troy Police are conducting an internal investigation on the shooting, but on the surface, it'd appear that this is another case where officers, acting on assumption over perception, may have crossed the line. There've been too many of these incidents across the country over the last three years at least, and this is the 2nd in the Capital District in as many years.

Messiah Cooper, McDonald's uncle, called for more African-Americans to apply to become police officers, citing the fact that there aren't enough African-American officers on the Troy force. The officers involved in Tuesday's shooting are on administrative leave, per TPD regulations, until Saturday at the earliest. Rensselaer County DA Joel Abelove is, in turn, being investigated by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for his handling of an earlier case, and I'd suspect Schneiderman may want in on this investigation as well.

This was the last thing the city needed, three weeks before the start of the school year. Will this ever end?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Creepy TV: The World Beyond (1977-8)

Time-Life had branched out into television in the 70's, first with syndicated nature programs. Then, in 1978, they decided to try to move into primetime. Unfortunately, it didn't pan out.

The World Beyond was tried out in a pair of pilots about a year or so apart. Granville Van Dusen was cast as sportswriter Paul Taylor, who was clinically dead for nearly three minutes after an accident, but after coming back to life, Taylor discovered that the dead can reach out to him to help other living beings.

After the 2nd pilot, "Mud Monster", CBS gave up on the project, as it was perhaps a bit ahead of its time. Then again, the cheesy special effects didn't help matters.

JoBeth Williams (later of "Poltergeist", among other feature films) and Barnard Hughes co-star in "Mud Monster":



Van Dusen is better known to cartoon fans after being cast as Roger "Race" Bannon in the 1980's revival of Jonny Quest, and I'm not sure about any other live action work he had done.

Rating: C.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Charlottesville wasn't funny. President Trump takes the heat from late night TV

It took President Trump 2 days to denounce the white supremacists and modern-day neo-Nazis involved in the incident in Charlottesville, VA on Saturday. Unfortunately for the embattled President, his reluctant denounciation was fodder for late night television on Monday night/Tuesday morning.

For example, Minnesota Senator and veteran comic Al Franken was on Conan:



On The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon took on a more serious tone:



ABC's Jimmy Kimmel mixed humor with his commentary:



Trump's "many sides" remark had already gotten him in trouble, exposing the fact that he's not as well informed as he'd like us to believe.

Late Night's Seth Meyers has routinely ripped into Trump, and this was no exception:



Later, in his A Closer Look segment, Meyers turned up the heat:



And, then, there is Stephen Colbert on The Late Show:



All they had in common was ripping President Trump a few new ones for his lack of venom on Saturday, then pulling a sort-of mea culpa Monday afternoon. Trump then turned around and ripped CNN's Jim Acosta, again referring to the cabler as "fake news".

The most glaring problem with Trump is that he can't tell the difference between what really is fake news (i.e. The National Enquirer, which belongs in the fiction section of a bookshelf at Walmart or CVS) and what is real journalism. Trump has made himself such an easy target for the late night comics because he's so out of touch with reality. His Saturday statement was slightly off script ("many sides" was not in the statement, I've read), but his press flacks had to give him a new one on Monday so he could redeem himself. Shoot, he couldn't redeem green stamps if he tried when they were still popular.

The more he uses Twitter as a reactionary outlet for nonsense, the more Trump comes off as being disconnected from the country he's supposed to serve. Here's an idea. Get off Twitter, and spend your off-hours watching Green Acres reruns with Melania, since I think you two can relate to that.

2017 NFL Preview, part 2: The rest of the AFC

Last week, we took a look at what is probably the easiest division to figure in the NFL, that being, of course, the AFC East. Today, we're finishing the AFC, as we'll do the NFC over the next two weeks.

AFC North:

No matter what Cleveland does, they're perhaps cursed to remain in last place until the end of time. Johnny Manziel crashed & burned in just 2 seasons, and last year, well, Robert Griffin III wasn't the answer.

That's why this division is a 3-team race every year. Oh, sure, the Browns will make a little noise, but they usually get muted by Halloween.


In Pittsburgh, it seems they're already preparing for the post-LeVeon Bell era, as Fitzgerald Toussaint scored the game winner in Friday's preseason opener at MetLife Stadium against the Giants. Bell is unsigned, but the Steelers would be wise to get him in camp ASAP, preferably yesterday. DeAngelo Williams wasn't retained, either, and he tried his hand at wrestling last month, appearing at a Global Force Wrestling PPV alongside former Falcon Quinn Ojinnaka, aka Moose. Pittsburgh will be there at the end if they can stabilize the offense around Ben Roethlisberger. If not, even a Wild Card would be a longshot.

For Cincinnati, it's back to the playoffs, or it's the end of the line, methinks, for Marvin Lewis, bottom line. Baltimore has to weather the loss via retirement of receiver Steve Smith, Sr., and reload. It's anyone's game, really.

Projected order of finish:

1. Cincinnati.
2. Baltimore.
3. Pittsburgh.
4. Cleveland.
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AFC South:

Houston, after the Brock Osweiler debacle last year, drafted DeShaun Watson (Clemson), and he'll battle Tom Savage for the starting QB job. On defense, Vince Wilfork returned to New England, then retired, which means plenty of double-teams on Jadaveon Clowney. All Indianapolis needs is for Andrew Luck to be healthy for the entire season. Hm, seems that applies to some of their other skill position players, too. Tennessee picked up receiver Eric Decker (Jets), who reunites with Jace Amaro, who came over last year. Marcus Mariota has enough weapons at his disposal. It's just a matter of scoring enough to make a run at the playoffs.

Jacksonville? Who cares at this point?

Projected order of finish:

1. Tennessee.
2. Indianapolis.
2 (tie). Houston.
4. Jacksonville.
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AFC West:

I still don't see the logic behind the Chargers moving to Los Angeles from San Diego. Relocating back to LA didn't do anything for the Rams last year, so....! On that same note, I don't like the idea of Oakland losing their beloved Raiders again, this time to Las Vegas. Like, how long did the Raiders last in LA themselves before moving back to Oakland?

Digression over. The two California teams will likely fight for Wild Card spots, although the Raiders are a legit division contender as long as Derek Carr is healthy. Kansas City may have their future QB in Patrick Mahomes II, son of a former baseball pitcher whose resume included stops in Minnesota and with the Mets. Andy Reid also got some offensive help in running back C. J. Spiller (New Orleans) and receiver Gavin Escobar (Dallas). If Alex Smith gets hurt, Mahomes should step in. From what I saw of him in college, he is the real deal.


In Denver, year 2 of the Paxton Lynch era should be an improvement. However, the bloom is off the rose for the Broncos.

Projected order of finish:

1. Kansas City.
2. Oakland.
3. Denver.
3 (tie). Los Angeles.

Wild cards: Oakland, Baltimore.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Classic TV: The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour (1969)

CBS needed to retool their Wednesday lineup in the winter of 1969. Network suits remembered that country singer Glen Campbell had fronted a summer replacement series for the Smothers Brothers the previous summer, and realized they found their answer.

In all, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour ran for 4 seasons (1969-72), surviving the infamous "rural purge" of 1971, if but for a year's respite. Technically not a spin-off from the Smothers' show, although he had made a few appearances there, Campbell did get the services of comedian Pat Paulsen as a series regular. Curiously, when Paulsen landed his own series, he ended up at ABC. Go figure. Anyway, while one source compared Campbell to Perry Como, whose production company was largely responsible for NBC's Kraft Music Hall, Campbell's format had more in common with another NBC star, Dean Martin. Actor-comic Dom DeLuise made frequent appearances on both shows, which helped strengthen the connection.

The lineup of guest stars was just as eclectic. For example, on this show, Glen shares the stage with fellow country crooner Roger Miller and Motown icon Stevie Wonder, plus appearances by John Wayne, Steve Allen (w/Jayne Meadows), and Let's Make a Deal's Monty Hall.



Pay attention to the mini-skit behind Campbell's performance of "Mary in the Morning". Paulsen nearly steals the entire segment. Why his own show bombed remains a mystery.

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

Don't look now, but the Tri-City Valleycats are suddenly playoff contenders in the New York-Penn League.

On Saturday night, the 'Cats swept a doubleheader from Williamsport, which vaulted Tri-City into first place in the Stedler Division. However, that lasted just 24 hours, as the Cross-Cutters, a farm team of the Philadelphia Phillies, beat the Valleycats, 5-2, on Sunday. At the All-Star break, Tri-City sits 1/2 game behind Vermont in the division with less than a month to go. Two weeks ago, I don't think we'd have been thinking playoffs, but stranger things have happened.
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Speaking of the Phillies, they're happy to see the Mets leave town after dropping 3 of 4 to the Amazin's over the weekend. The mystique that the Phillies had during their run of division titles (2007-11) is gone, and they're now in rebuilding mode.

So are the Mets, who dealt Neil Walker to Milwaukee on Saturday, which would finally allow Asdrubel Cabrera to play second instead of 3rd. Why? Jose Reyes was forced to shift to 2nd when the Mets acquired Japan's Kaz Matsui 12 years ago, and that didn't end very well. Reyes now is at 2nd to accomodate rookie Amed Rosario, and Cabrera is splitting time at third with Wilmer Flores while another rookie, Dominic Smith, was called up at the end of last week. I would not say the Mets are rebuilding. They're reloading.

The Subway Series, 4 games in 4 nights in 2 ballparks, begins tonight at Yankee Stadium, and the Yanks are suddenly without their two best pitchers, as CC Sabathia & Masahiro Tanaka went on the DL last week. Luis Cessa gets the ball for the Yanks tonight vs. Rafael Montero. Get the Sominex ready, just in case they sleepwalk through this one, just as the Yankees & Red Sox did last night.
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LaVar Ball got taken to school in a 4-point shot challenge on Sunday night. Not by another basketball player, mind, but by actor-rapper Ice Cube, the founder of the Big3 3-on-3 basketball league. Scope.



All that does is prove once again that Ball is full of hot air for someone who claims he could beat Michael Jordan, and also claimed he could shoot 4 pointers (30 feet from the basket) with his eyes closed. Cube, you'll recall, took part in some of MTV's Rock 'N' Jock basketball games back in the day, so he's got some serious cred, not like the Pecos Bill of basketball.

Let's see if Ball tries spinning some sort of fake controversy out of this.
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WWE Chairman/CEO/professional nutcase Vince McMahon reportedly was upset over the fact that John Cena nearly had his neck broken in a televised match vs. Japan's Shinsuke Nakamura on August 1. Hall of Famer Superstar Billy Graham, however, shut down McMahon by telling him in an online post to, essentially grow up.

Cena has been with the WWE's main roster since 2002, and his days as a main event performer are coming to an end due to his increasing non-wrestling schedule (i.e. American Grit). Nakamura winning that night was the right call, since it sets up the "King of Strong Style" to take on Canadian-born-&-raised Jinder Mahal, representing India, at Summerslam on Sunday. adding some mystery to the finish, as everyone assumed that had Cena won, he would go on to win the World title in Brooklyn. McMahon, who turns 72 next week, is locked into the idea that Cena, and, for that matter, Randy Orton, is still a draw after 15 years on the main roster. This is another reason why McMahon needs to step down and let the company move forward.

Personally, I'd leave him on an island with fellow geriatrics Pat Robertson and President Trump, but that's just me.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Forgotten TV: Steve Canyon (1958)

Milton Caniff's adventure hero, Steve Canyon, made the transition to television in 1958, airing on NBC. It has only been within the last decade or so that the series was made available on DVD.

Canyon (Dean Fredericks) was a troubleshooter for the Air Force. Very little, however, carried over from the comic strip, which ran for nearly 40 years. The series was brought back in the spring of 1960 on ABC, and that was the last anyone would see of Steve Canyon until it was released on DVD.

Now, I've never seen the show, so there won't be a rating. For now, here's the intro, narrated by---who else?---Paul Frees.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Musical Interlude: Shilo (1967)

Neil Diamond's autobiographical, introspective "Shilo" wasn't released as a single until 1970, but had been recorded 3 years earlier.

The reason for the long layover? Diamond, at the time contracted to Bang Records, had a dispute with company management over the song, as the record company preferred teeny-bopper pop from Diamond, who left for Uni Records (later MCA) the next year. Out of spite, Bang released "Shilo", with a new backing track to match the work that Diamond had been doing for Uni, in 1970. It's become a concert staple, though, ever since, after Diamond re-recorded it for 1972's "Hot August Night".



Diamond spins the tale of his own imaginary childhood pal. One of his endearing qualities is his ability to connect with his audience. I think it's safe to say Bang went belly-up after this.

What Might've Been: The Psychiatrist (1970)

NBC was big on anthology, or, "wheel" series in the early 70's. The Name of the Game & The Bold Ones are considered "wheel" shows because each had separate segments that never crossed over with each other.

In 1970, NBC introduced Four-in-One, which wasn't a true anthology in that the four series in the wheel didn't rotate. Instead, McCloud, Night Gallery, San Francisco International Airport, & The Psychiatrist each took turns with 6-episode seasons. Of these, Night Gallery & McCloud were the most successful.

Today, we're focusing on The Psychiatrist.

Executive Producer Norman Felton brought his production company, Arena Productions, to Universal from MGM, where he'd had some success with Dr. Kildaire & The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in the 60's, both for NBC. To my knowledge, this may have been Felton's last network project at that point. Roy Thinnes (ex-The Invaders) starred as Dr. James Whitman, who had his hands full with an assortment of patients whose issues allowed for the discussion of social issues of the day.

The pilot, "God Bless The Children", aka "Children of the Lotus Eaters", aired in December 1970, with Psychiatrist going to series less than 2 months later. Peter Duel (Alias Smith & Jones) co-stars as ex-con Casey Poe. The title song is performed by the Staple Singers, who also appear.

Parental advisory: "Children" is heavy on drug themes.



I wasn't too thrilled with the repeated jump cuts from the junkies back to the various meetings among adults. The original story, by noted mystery writers Richard Levinson & William Link (Mannix, Columbo) was adapted by Jerrold Freeman, but apparently something got lost in the translation.

Due to the drug themes, I'm not mirroring this over in Saturday Morning Archives, despite the presence of future Super Friends cast-mates Norman Alden (ex-Rango) and Shannon Farnon.

I think you can see why The Psychiatrist ended up failing. Not only that, but it aired opposite the 3rd year series, Hawaii Five-O. Ballgame over. If you pay close attention, you'll see a pre-Happy Days Marion Ross as a concerned parent.

Rating: C-.

Friday, August 11, 2017

What Might've Been: The Roaring Twenties (1960)

On the surface, WB's The Roaring Twenties might've been the studio's answer to another ABC series, The Untouchables, except that instead of federal investigators, the protagonists were reporters.

Rex Reason ("This Island Earth") & Donald May (later of As The World Turns) were the leads. Dorothy Provine provided a distraction as ingenue Pinky Pinkham. Mike Road (ex-Buckskin, later better known for his cartoon work) was their police contact. The cast also included Gary Vinson, who moved from this series directly to McHale's Navy, as Roaring Twenties was cancelled early in 1962, midway through its 2nd season, with remaining episodes burned off right before the start of the fall season, which, in those days, started in late September-early October, as they do now.

In "Lucky Charm", Pinky is courted by a mobster (Cesare Danova), who may have other plans. Pay attention to when Pinky sings "Don't Bring Lulu". I think we may have found the inspiration for "My Name is Tallulah", from "Bugsy Malone", nearly 15 years later.



I'm begging for someone, like, maybe Me-TV, to pick up this show.

Rating: A-.

On The Shelf: Celebrating a legend, while another gets another makeover

August 28 would've been Jack Kirby's 100th birthday. To mark the occasion, Marvel & DC are both honoring Kirby with special projects. DC is doing a series of 1-shots of some of Kirby's 1970's creations, including The New Gods, and launching a Mister Miracle maxi-series. Over at Marvel, some of Kirby's Silver & Bronze Age work is being revisited in reprint form.

Under the True Believers umbrella, Marvel is reprinting issues of Journey Into Mystery, The Avengers, and the 1970's Black Panther series that followed on the heels of T'Challa's acclaimed run as the star of Jungle Action. With the exception of Black Panther, these reprints have been done a number of times over the last few decades, almost to the point where you can say they were done to death. That being said, it shan't surprise anyone that in the next 2-3 weeks, we'll see reprints of two more Kirby series from the 70's, those being The Eternals (Kirby's Marvel analogue for the New Gods, or so it'd seem) and his adaptation of the movie, "2001: A Space Odyssey", which later spun off Machine Man into his own series.

The earliest appearances of Thor in Journey Into Mystery have the Thunder God speaking modern English, largely because at the time, the idea was that it was still Dr. Donald Blake's mind in Thor's body. That would soon change, of course, and we'd soon get the "thees" and "thous" you'd otherwise find in your King James Bibles.

Meantime, it sure seems as though Jane Foster's time as Thor is nearing its end, if my suspicions are to be proven with Marvel's Legacy initiative, starting in a few weeks. After all, when the decision was made to pass Mjolnir to Jane, she had been stricken with cancer. Do the math, kids.
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Did you see "Valerian" last month? What you might not know is that this was adapted from a series of European graphic novels that were first published back in 2003. Accompanying the film's release is a reprint preview of Valerian & Lauraline: Ambassador of the Shadows, which certainly plays out better than the movie seemed to, since Luc Besson's latest apparently laid an egg at the box office.

Rating: B.
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The 2nd wave of DC's Hanna-Barbera line will commence next week with the launch of Future Quest Presents, which picks up where the previous maxi-series left off. Should be fun. Ruff & Reddy will get their own miniseries, written & drawn by Howard Chaykin, and Dastardly & Muttley will get their long rumored series underway. October & September, respectively. I believe November brings The Snagglepuss Chronicles, which continues the narrative from earlier this year, when it was broadly implied that Snag is gay. As I wrote before, I'm not sure if that was the original intent when Snag bowed in the Silver Age. The Jetsons will follow in due course.

Now, all they need is to lower the cover price.
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Archie is giving Betty & Veronica another alternate look, beginning in November with the debut of B & V: Vixens, which they're saying will be an ongoing series. Considering that Adam Hughes' take on the iconic teens lasted just 3 issues over a 1 year period, it'd be a relief to get more than 3 issues out of this. Jughead: The Hunger becomes the 3rd ongoing Horror line title, thankfully not written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, else it'd never see the light of day. With so many alternate continuities, you'd need a road map to get everything straight.

Sports this 'n' that

With less than a month left in the regular season, the Tri-City Valleycats have made a late surge to get within 1 1/2 games of Stedler Division leader Vermont after taking 2 of 3 from Lowell on the road. The Spinners will return to Troy next week seeking a little payback, but I'd guess that if the 'Cats can make some hay in Little League country (Williamsport, PA) this weekend, and Vermont stumbles, there's every reason to believe the 'Cats could be in 1st come the All-Star game on Tuesday. Just sayin'.
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Speaking of Little League, I'm sure that by now, you've all seen this:



Actually, Jayce Blalock's grand slam in Warner-Robins GA was measured at 375 feet. In a season where the major league Rookies of the Year have been all but decided (Aaron Judge in the AL, Cody Bellinger in the NL), Blalock, 13, could be the next big thing if he keeps this up. We'll see if he's drafted out of high school in about 5 years.
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The Mets dealt outfielder Jay Bruce to Cleveland on Wednesday after their offense did a disappearing act against Texas. So what happens? They go to Philadelphia and beat up the Phillies, 10-0, on Thursday. Ex-Valleycat Vince Velasquez gave up 3 runs in the first on a Wilmer Flores homer, but developed numbness on his pitching hand and was removed after the frame. In this crazy business, I wouldn't put it past the Mets to actually make a modest run, even if it falls short.
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So the Super Bowl champion Patriots lost a pre-season game to Jacksonville. Whatever. If the Jags are on the Pats' regular season schedule, there will be payback with interest. As in, running up the score, college style.

So everyone's assuming Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott will serve a suspension for domestic abuse. Why the sentence wasn't passed down before this point, I don't know. Some of will shrug, considering where Elliott went to school (Ohio State), and how a student-athlete's sudden celebrity creates scenarios like this like clockwork. Meh. Let's just get this over with, I say.

Update, 12:29 pm (ET): Elliott has been suspended 6 games by the league, pending the inevitable, predictable appeal.
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High school football begins in 3 weeks. Other fall sports begin earlier in the week. Can your heart stand it?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

If at first you don't succeed: NBC orders another Munsters reboot

You'd think NBC would've learned after the failure of rebooting The Munsters as an hour-long drama, 1313 Mockingbird Lane, a few years back.

It seems that they only got part of the message.

Word from Hollywood now is that the network & Universal are trying again, this time going back to the sitcom format, but they're running the risk of duplicating another mistake.

Late Night host Seth Meyers is being tasked with putting the new Munsters together, but before we go any further, let's remind you of why it's a cherished classic:



What Meyers and Jill Kargman are planning is to transplant Herman, Lily, Grandpa, Eddie, & Marilyn across country, from California to Brooklyn. A very hipster Brooklyn.

Didn't NBC & Universal learn from earlier reboot mistakes? Apparently not. It wasn't so long ago that they sent Ironside to New York, too, in addition to flipping him from white to African American. I needn't remind you that Sony & ABC made the same mistake with Charlie's Angels, albeit moving from Cali to Miami. The common factor? Both of those reboots bombed.

Ever since the original Munsters ended in 1966, on CBS, every Munster project has gone anywhere but CBS. Now, of course, since NBC & Universal are components of Comcast, it makes perfect sense to leave the franchise with the peacock network now and forever. Problem is, taking away elements of what made the original series so special dilutes the reboot. Period.

To borrow a line from the chorus of "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?", when will they ever learn?

Only in the South: A Tennessee high school senior follows the dress code---and still gets cited for a violation

In the Northeast, classes don't start until after Labor Day, though student-athletes will get a headstart a week prior, when the fall sports schedule gets underway.

Meanwhile, other states have already started a new school year, like, for example, in Tennessee, where a high school senior is being cited for a dress code violation----even though she followed the rules.

SAY WHAT?

At Dickson County High, senior Tori Taylor has already been pulled from class twice because of a "wrong cut" on her crew-neck t-shirt. Huh? Far as I know, and I've always worn crew-neck t-shirts, there's only one cut, just the way the shirt is designed. In an interview with a local television station, Ms. Taylor said she can't afford to buy new clothes just for inspection's sake. Seems to me that during the first week of classes, DCHS hadn't bothered to update their dress code on their own website, which caught some students' attention.

And, then, there is school principal Joey Holley, on the stump for the school and its dress code, such as it may be. Here's his statement, supplied to Yahoo!:
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“Dickson County High School is proud to build good relationships with students, parents, and our community. We have a great school and we strive every day to keep it that way. The purpose of our dress code is to assure students will dress and groom in a clean, neat, and modest manner in order not to distract or interfere with the educational environment of the school. For the most part, 99 percent of our students have come to school within our dress code guidelines. As a reminder, we have communicated with students, parents, and community our dress code expectations for this school year.”
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So who's in charge of dress code inspections, Mr. Holley? Mr. Magoo? Seriously, though, someone's been in the sun too long to start the season, and over-reacted.

I only had to deal with a dress code at school just once, and that was when I was in a private academy for 2 seasons. Never had a code violation. Someone needs to rethink Dickson County's policies yesterday, that's all I can say.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What Might've Been: The Young Rebels (1970)

Aaron Spelling made a brief alliance with Screen Gems, resulting in a short-lived 1970 series for ABC, The Young Rebels, one of three freshman entries Spelling produced for the network that year. The others were through his own production company, The Most Deadly Game & The Silent Force, and both also bombed out.

Set in the time of the Revolutionary War, The Young Rebels features a young Louis Gossett, Jr., in one of his earliest roles. Gossett would later guest on The Partridge Family, another Screen Gems series, after Rebels was cancelled.

So where did it go wrong? How about on the wrong night? It aired on Sundays as a lead-in to The F. B. I., but had to be slotted opposite The Wonderful World of Disney. Game over. Seems folks weren't too keen on a historical drama on a Sunday, and wouldn't be for a while.

Here's the intro:



This might explain why Sony would later obtain the rights to some of Spelling's other creations, like Charlie's Angels and Fantasy Island, although Columbia Pictures Television did co-produce the latter, for video distribution.

My memory is hazy on Young Rebels (I was 7 at the time, after all), so there won't be a rating.

Your child commits suicide. Your response? File a lawsuit, months after the fact. Not a good idea.

In January, 8 year old Gabriel Taye, a 3rd grader at Carson Elementary School in Cincinnati, committed suicide by hanging himself with a necktie off his bunk bed. It sounds ludicrous, I know, but the circumstances surrounding Taye's death are in the news again today.

Seems the lad was supposedly "bullied" at school, and although there is no real, hard evidence to support the allegations, Taye's parents have decided to file a lawsuit, alleging that officials at Carson Elementary supposedly withheld information about the incident on January 24. Taye, supposedly, took his own life 2 days later.

The Cincinnati Public Schools District released a report on bullying recently which doesn't include any account of Taye being bullied, but there was a culture of violence at the school during the just concluded school year. In the lawsuit, it is alleged that another 3rd grader threw a chair at a girl and wished he could rape her. What are these kids watching in the inner cities at such young ages? R-rated movies on HBO? The initial report on Taye on 1/24 is that he had taken a spill in the boys' bathroom. His family learned of the assault after lawyers reviewed police documentation describing a surveillance video that captured as much of the incident as possible.

The lawsuit follows reports of one intended to be filed by the family of 12 year old Mallory Grossman, a New Jersey student who was the victim of cyberbullying by other students, perhaps jealous of her for whatever reason. A video on NBC News' website shows that Ms. Grossman looked like a future Homecoming Queen in waiting, fairly attractive, but perhaps had run afoul of jealous peers who saw her as a threat to them. As of now, the Grossman family hasn't formally filed the suit. They have, though, identified four classmates as the bullies, but not publicly. They allege that officials at Copeland Middle School in Rockaway, where Mallory was a 6th grader, did nothing to stop the bullying, and that efforts to address the issues were ignored. Likewise, pleas to the bullies' parents were dismissed.

With a new school year right around the corner, this is the last thing they need in Ohio, New Jersey, or elsewhere. Parents don't feel their kids are safe because of a few cowards who need to make themselves look good by hassling other kids.

Where I have a question is in the timing of a suit filed by Gabriel Taye's parents. Nearly 7 months have passed since Gabriel died, and now they want a lawsuit? Something about this case doesn't ring true, but I can't quite put my finger on it. Security cameras are in place all over the schools, which I think link up to a central monitoring area near the principal's office. You'd think it wouldn't reach the point where litigation has to be an option, but there's also the matter of how many security guards are available on a day-to-day basis. If they're short-staffed, then there's cause for concern.

Here's to hoping cooler heads prevail without litigation.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Death has been very busy........

Yesterday, we referenced the passing of Bronco star Ty Hardin, but he wasn't the only one we lost over the weekend.

Baseball Hall of Famer Don Baylor, whose playing career was entirely in the American League (Yankees, Oakland, Baltimore, Boston, Minnesota, California), and managerial career in the National League (Chicago, Colorado), passed away at 68. Darren Daulton, who played on some talented Philadelphia Phillies teams but never won a championship, left us as well at 55. Baylor's passing, in particular, came a week after the Hall inducted its 2017 class.

And, then, there is Glen Campbell.

The pop-country icon lost his battle with Alzheimer's Disease earlier today at 81. Campbell, who fronted his own variety show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, in the late 60's and early 70's, and starred with John Wayne & Kim Darby in the original "True Grit", had been a session player, part of the legendary "Wrecking Crew" with Leon Russell, among others, and played with the Beach Boys before finding solo success with hits like "Galveston", "Gentle on My Mind", "Wichita Lineman", "Try a Little Kindness", "Where's The Playground Susie", "Ghost on the Canvas", and, in 1977, he topped the pop & adult contemporary charts with his cover of Allen Toussaint's "Southern Nights".

Following is a performance of "Southern Nights" from The Midnight Special:



I regret I never saw Campbell in concert, but he leaves behind a fabulous legacy.

Rest in peace, one and all.

NFL Preview 2017, part 1: AFC East

Over the rest of the month, we're going to be taking a look at all 8 divisions in the NFL as we prepare for the start of the regular season on September 7 (New England hosting Kansas City). Today, we'll start with the easiest division.

AFC East:

Defending Super Bowl champion New England just found the going a little bit easier in the division with key injuries to the Jets & Miami in recent days. However, for reasons only he can comprehend, coach Bill Belichick decided to part company with bruising running back LeGarrette Blount, who signed with Philadelphia in the off-season. Never mind that Albany native Dion Lewis is recovering from an injury, the Pats went and signed Rex Burkhead (Cincinnati) to replace Blount. The former Nebraska star should finally get some primo attention, but then, with ball-hogging QB Tom Brady padding his stats and minimalizing the running game for that reason....! And you wonder why I don't consider Brady to be the greatest QB of all time. There's little balance in the offense.

However, the division is New England's to lose again. Miami owner Stephen Ross convinced Jay Cutler to put off his broadcasting career for another year (he was due to be the #2 analyst on Fox) and replace an injured Ryan Tannehill at QB. Cutler's run in Chicago ended the same way it did for Rex Grossman, with dimiinishing skills and returns. No one's giving the Jets a chance at all, assuming Josh McCown can beat out 2nd year QB Christian Hackenburg for the starting job. Receiver Quincy Enunwa was lost for the season Monday with a neck injury, further depleting a receiving corps that already lost Brandon Marshall (Giants) and Eric Decker (Tennessee). That means more pressure on RB Matt Forte to lead the offense. 

In Buffalo, the Rex Ryan era ended a bit abruptly, but that wasn't all. Defensive back Stephen Gilmore is gone (New England), the latest skill position player that has left the Bills high & dry for the big bucks. It may not be worth the time to binge-watch preseason games on NFL Network on the weekends involving this division.

Projected order of finish:

1. New England
2. Buffalo
2. (tie) Miami
4. Jets

Next week, we'll be looking at the AFC North.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Classic TV: Bronco (1958)

WB needed another Western after Clint Walker took a break from Cheyenne. What they got was another hit.

Bronco managed to last 4 seasons (1958-62) on ABC, and starred Ty Hardin in the title role. The following video is my first look at the series, as it wasn't airing in syndication when I was young.



You know how President Teddy Roosevelt had reportedly said to walk softly and carry a big stick? WB's variation on the idea was for their cowboy heroes to talk softly as well, and the big stick was usually a gun, like a rifle, for instance. Humility & modesty, two traits almost lost in fiction these days.

As I said, that small sample is all I've seen, so no rating. Posted in memory of Hardin, who passed away today at 87.

Celebrity Rock: Right Now (2005)

"Right Now" was the 2nd & final single off John Cena's lone CD to date, 2005's "You Can't See Me". As was the case on "Bad, Bad Man", Cena's cousin, Tha Trademarc, helps on vocals, set against a backdrop of a family reunion in suburban West Newbury, Massachusetts.



12 years later, Cena's swapped out the rhymes for reality TV (Total Bellas, Total Divas, American Grit) and movies when not wrestling. If he doesn't do another CD, after all this time, then we can say he simply fulfilled a dream he had as a youth, other than wrestling.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

What Might've Been: The King Family Show (1965)

Lawrence Welk liked to refer to the ensemble he formed on his show as his "musical family", from the orchestra to singers like the Lennon Sisters, Jo Ann Castle, & Norma Zimmer, to name a few.

The King Family put Welk to shame.

Spun off from The Hollywood Palace, The King Family Show, with 39 family members total, launched in January 1965, and ran for 1 calendar year. Why? Part of it was network meddling. The show started as an hour long variety show, like Palace and The Lawrence Welk Show, but in September, ABC suits cut the show to a half-hour, up against the established Jackie Gleason Show on CBS, and freshman sitcom I Dream of Jeannie on NBC. The 2nd season barely got past the holidays.

With a heavy emphasis on music, the Kings' show was similar to another ABC series, Shindig, and NBC's Hullabaloo. With 39 family members, you'd think they were a branch office of Up With People. Two family members are better known, though, for their acting. Cameron Clarke, for example, grew up to become a voice actor, and worked on the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series. Tina Cole, prominently featured in the following video, moved on to My Three Sons, joining that series in 1967. Cole, though, would return when The King Family Show was revived as a spring replacement in March 1969, this time lasting 6 months. In the video, Cole performs a cover of Petula Clark's "Downtown", which she would also do on Sons.



In between the two series, the Kings produced a series of syndicated specials, which resumed after the 2nd series ended. They even turned up on PBS. And the names on the sweaters? I think they got that idea from the Mickey Mouse Club.

My only memory is seeing some advertising for the show in reading some back issues of Reader's Digest at an optician's office back in the day as a youth. Never saw either show, so there's no rating.

Remember the Go Ahead bar? (late 70's)

In the 70's, Nestle expanded its line of candy bars. Out of that era, on the 100 Grand (formerly $100,000 Bar) is still around. In fact, the core Nestle bar is no longer available in much of the country, as Nestle pushes 100 Grand, Nestle Crunch, and later acquisitions like Chunky and Oh Henry. Yeah, they got rid of my personal favorite, Choco Lite.

Near the end of the decade, Nestle introduced the Go Ahead bar, described as a nutritious mix of peanut butter and crispy rice wrapped in milk chocolate. In the following spot, actor Ron Masak (ex-Love Thy Neighbor, later of Murder, She Wrote) impersonates Lou Costello for a riff on an old Abbott & Costello routine.



Unfortunately, Go Ahead didn't last long, either, maybe 3-4 years at the most before it disappeared from shelves.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Videos of Summer: Hot Fun in the Summertime (1969)

Sly & The Family Stone scored a hot hit in 1969 with "Hot Fun in the Summertime", which has been covered in later years by artists as diverse as Hall & Oates, the Beach Boys, and Michael Jackson.

"Hot Fun", along with "Everyday People", seems to be a better choice to covered out of the Family Stone catalogue.




Weasel of the Week: Martin Shkreli

Former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli was convicted on three out of eight charges of securities fraud on Friday, and faces up to 20 years in jail. The problem with the so-called "Pharma Bro" is that he doesn't think he's going to be doing much time behind bars.

Shkreli was accused of jacking up the prices of anti-AIDS drugs and reaping the profits. He's one of these over-moneyed clowns who thinks he's above the law. Here's the simple truth. He betrayed the trust of his hedge fund customers, and while some victims actually did see a profit, Shkreli profited more. He doesn't see himself doing 20 years. Just a few months, thinking his money will save his sorry tuchis.

Reality check time. You got busted, now you gotta pay the price. There ain't no "Club Fed" in your future, punk. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if this week's Weasel gets sued kinda stupid by those who didn't recoup their losses.

What makes Shkreli even more of a Weasel is the fact that after the conviction, he was allowed to return to his home in Manhattan and host a live streaming online chat, which included a reporter from the New York Daily News. Shkreli has no shame.
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Long as I'm venting, let me get this in on a past multi-time Weasel of the Week & Dunce Cap winner.

During the last NBA season, Knicks owner James Dolan had a former Knick, Charles Oakley, removed from Madison Square Garden. Things got heated and blown out of proportion. Rather than go to court to prove his poiint, Oakley accepted a compromise that will have him barred from MSG for 1 calendar year.

BOLLOCKS!

Oakley backing down means Dolan thinks he's won, but it's not over yet. Oakley is still contemplating a civil suit, which Dolan would almost certainly end up losing. The thing is, Dolan & Oakley have had a private beef between them, and Oakley, like everyone else in New York, ain't exactly digging the way Dolan has mis-run the Knicks. Dolan, for his part, is part of the Tri-State area's unholy trinity of over-moneyed Weasels who think they're above the rules. If you have to guess what the other 2/3 of the trinity is, I'm embarrassed for you. (Hint: One's in Washington, the other in Connecticut, and both belong in Bellevue.) To Dolan, owning the Knicks, Rangers, MSG, Liberty, and Radio City Music Hall, gives him more power than he knows what to do with.

Funny thing. That dude in Connecticut? He ain't exactly buds with Dolan, given that his television shows don't tape at MSG anymore.

We will never know if Oakley would've won his case in a courtroom, although in the court of public opinion, it seems to be split, especially given the misinformation Team Dolan spewed after the incident. For a team that hasn't won an NBA title in 44 years (Isn't that the longest NBA drought now?), you would think the fan base would be putting on more of a full court press to get Dolan to sell the team, but it ain't happening. Their loss.

A Classic Reborn: College Bowl National Championships (1984)

The College Bowl didn't entirely disappear after leaving NBC in 1970. Instead, the national organization that created the quiz game carried on with regional & national tournaments, much like most college sports. The 1978 tournament finals were shown in syndication, and the next year, College Bowl returned to its radio roots, with Art Fleming (Jeopardy!) as host, for a 3 year run (1979-82).

In 1984, the national semi-finals & finals were presented in a primetime special, as College Bowl returned to NBC after a 14 year absence. Pat Sajak (Wheel of Fortune) takes over as host for this one, and we pick up the first game (Minnesota-Princeton) already in progress.



Unfortunately, NBC wasn't interested in doing this again on a full-time basis. They're still doing tournaments on an annual basis, and you'd think that a cable outlet would pick up College Bowl, just because.

Rating: A.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Musical Interlude: Bullet the Blue Sky (1987)

U2's "Bullet the Blue Sky", off 1987's "The Joshua Tree", wasn't a single per se, but rather a B-side that still got a ton of airplay on album-oriented rock radio channels. Written in response to what vocalist Bono observed during El Salvador's civil war, "Bullet" also directs a pointed message at then-President Reagan.




On The Air: The Today Show (1952)

Today is NBC's oldest, longest running television program, having launched in 1952, meaning that it celebrated its 65th anniversary back in January.

A lot of us are old enough to remember that Today was originally 2 hours in length (7-9 am ET), but in the last decade has doubled in size to 4 hours (7-11 am ET) if for no other reason than to milk the ratings and justify the presence of singer-former talk show host Kathie Lee Gifford, who anchors the 4th hour.

In this regard, Today, while it hasn't entirely veered away from its original concept as a news & variety program--the first of its kind back in 1952--has become bloated needlessly, especially now that ABC & CBS have been aggressively competing, but confining themselves to the 7-9 am window.

Let's take a trip back in time to 1952 and original anchor Dave Garroway:



Garroway would soon be joined by a chimp, J. Fred Muggs, who provided comedy relief for a time. Too bad it was before my time.

My earliest memory was during the 1972 Olympics in Sapporo, Japan, and I happened to be watching one morning before going off to school. I haven't tuned in much since, especially now since I have a day job, and I wouldn't be interested in the 2nd half of the bloated four-hour marathon, anyway. I'd rather it go back to a 2 hour format, equal to its competitors, and lose the fluff.

No rating. As I said, I haven't watched it often enough to merit a rating.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sports this 'n' that

It's funny how things work sometimes.

The Albany Dutchmen had swept their season series with the Hudson Valley Diamond Dawgs, including a double-header on Monday, the final day of the regular season. However, fortunes changed as the two teams met again Tuesday, this time at Siena College, the Dutchmen's home field du jour, and Hudson Valley gained a measure of revenge on the Dutchmen, eliminating Albany from the Perfect Game Collegiate League's playoffs. Hudson Valley now moves on to play top-seeded Amsterdam later today.

The Dutchmen, at 33-17, improved their win total from last season, and I think they may have set a team record for wins. Congratulations on a great season.
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Not even Super Bowl heroes are exempt from discipline.

New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman found that out on Monday when he got into a scrum with a teammate at practice and both players were ejected from camp for the day. This wasn't the only training camp incident over the last week, and these things do get heated, but when was the last time you heard anything like that in Patriots camp? I guess the CIA had the day off......!
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Closer to home, Troy's Fighting Irish kicked off a 2-game road trip last weekend by throttling the Upstate Predators in Rochester to the tune of 43-8. That it took the Northeastern Football Alliance's website four days after the game to finally post the result makes them look almost as bad as the local press that has ignored the Irish, save for some pre-season puff pieces, all season. The Irish return to Lansingburgh on August 12 to play Broome County (Binghamton) in what appears to be the home finale. I get that NFL preseason games and the Valleycats will take precedence, as will horse racing at Saratoga, but let's see if El Cheapo Media can finally give the Irish some love.
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Sad news in college football. One of Notre Dame's most revered coaches, Ara Parseghian, passed away earlier this morning at 94. Parseghian led the Irish to 2 National titles (1966 & 1973) in the course of a 11 year career at Notre Dame (1964-74), after stops at Miami of Ohio and Northwestern. Parseghian retired after the 1974 season, and moved into broadcasting, working for ABC.

While at Notre Dame, Parseghian was one of a rare breed of college coaches who parlayed their success into commercial endorsements. In this case, he was a pitchman for Ford, as seen in this 1971 ad:



He will be missed.
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Meanwhile, the Fred Sanford of basketball, LaVar Ball, last week's Weasel of the Week, is getting called out by a pair of NBA legends.

For example, Michael Jordan, in an interview released earlier this week, disputed Ball's 5 month old claims that the stage parent could beat the 6-time NBA champion in a game of one-on-one. Ball added more fuel to the fire with an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live in June, claiming he'd make Jordan cry. What a dreamer. What a maroon!

And, then, Shaquille O'Neal took his shot via a rap video:



Of course, Shaq, pitchman for Gold Bond and Icy Hot when not on TNT's NBA pre-&-post-game shows, couldn't resist getting in a plug for the latter in the lyrics.

In a related matter, Court Club Elite, which is responsible for assigning the referees for the Adidas-sponsored AAU summer tournament in Las Vegas, ended their association with the shoe company after 5 years in the wake of Ball's antics last week. The company caved in and allowed a change in referees after a female official, a Division 1 college ref, hit Ball with a technical foul. Adidas suits have since apologized for that error in judgment, but the damage left by publicity leech Ball remains as a number of online commentators had said they'd boycott Adidas as a result of what happened in Vegas.

Oh, and it gets better. Not.

Now, according to USA Today, Ball claims he was a better football player, particularly at tight end, than the New England Patriots' resident party boy and WWE fan, Rob Gronkowski. Not so fast. Ball played in the World League of American Football with London a number of years back, and in the article, two ex-teammates disputed Ball's claims.

Those 15 minutes can expire in a hurry for LaVar Ball, and they should before Lonzo's first game. Just sayin'.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Modern Classic: The Drew Carey Show (1996)

The mid-90's began a new era in Cleveland. The Indians were undergoing a resurgence, but it would take time before the city's other sports teams would catch up. In fact, in 1996, there were  no Cleveland Browns. The original Browns had moved away, and a new version would come along soon after.

Cleveland native Drew Carey had tried one sitcom, and didn't get too far past the starting gate. However, he hit the jackpot by creating a fictionalized version of himself, developing the kind of life he thought he'd be leading if he hadn't taken up show business.

In all, The Drew Carey Show ran for 8 seasons on ABC (1996-2004), though the final season was as a summer replacement series. In the show, Carey was employed at first by the fictional Winfred-Louder department store, often crossing swords with acid-tongued Mimi (Kathy Kinney), who'd later become Drew's sister-in-law by marriage to Drew's storyline brother, Steve (John Carroll Lynch). The ensemble cast led to the development of a new comedy team in Drew's BFF's, Lewis (Ryan Stiles) and Oswald (Diedrich Bader). Craig Ferguson joined the show in the 2nd season as Nigel Wick, the gang's new boss and another foil for Drew---and vice versa.

One of the hooks was the music. At first, there would be a soft jazz number, "Moon Over Parma", sung by Carey himself over the title credits. In season 2, the Vogues' "Five O'Clock World" was added, creating a swank video that takes Drew from home to work. However, Carey and co-executive producer Bruce Helford must've figured they needed a contemporary sound, one that would also represent the city of Cleveland. Hence, the rock group Presidents of the United States of America recorded a cover of Ian Hunter's "Cleveland Rocks".

During the show's run, Carey added a 2nd series on ABC when he was asked to MC the American version of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, with Stiles along for the ride as a regular panelist. In return Whose Line regulars Brad Sherwood, Colin Mochrie, Greg Proops, and Wayne Brady made guest appearances on The Drew Carey Show. Episodes were made that challenged viewers to find intentional bloopers, a tactic Carey would later reprise on The Price is Right after succeeding Bob Barker as host. Some episodes were actually shown live, recalling the early days of television.

At the end of the 3rd season, someone at ABC recognized the need for a crossover with a cartoon legend who was appearing on Saturday mornings. This next clip has previously been used over at Saturday Morning Archives:



Now, this is the way Daffy should be portrayed today, but, like some other beloved characters, he's been dumbed down by the nimrods at Cartoon Network. That, though, is for another time.

The concurrent success of Whose Line has led Carey into a regular gig as a game show host. In addition to Price, he also hosted a short-lived CBS game, Power of 10, and tried to recapture the magic of Whose Line with a pair of improv-driven shows, one each on CW and GSN. Neither lasted more than a season. Craig Ferguson just finished his 3rd season of Celebrity Name Game after a lengthy run with The Late, Late Show, and had also hosted a game show on History Channel, of all places. Kathy Kinney reprised as Mimi Bobeck in a guest shot on Price. Naturally, it fell on April Fool's Day. Christa Miller (Kate) left the show and married producer Bill Lawrence, this after Kate had come close to getting married twice, once each to Oswald and Drew, then was wed off-screen for her write-off. Personally, I was hoping she'd have been the one for Drew, but, meh.

Currently, reruns are airing on Laff TV (check listings).

Rating: A-.

Baseball's trade deadline passes: The rich get richer, and the poor get hosed

On Monday at 4 pm (ET), baseball's non-waiver trade deadline had passed. The rich got even richer than they had any right to be, and the poor, well, some might've just gotten hosed.

Take, for example, the Oakland Athletics, who sent star pitcher Sonny Gray to the Yankees in exchange for three minor leaguers, two of whom won't be ready for a while. You see, that's because of the three, only utility player Jorge Mateo, currently in AA, is healthy. Pitcher James Kaprelian had Tommy John surgery in mid-April. Outfielder Dustin Fowler made his debut on June 29, and promptly blew out his knee. He's gone until next season, Kaprelian likely won't resurface until 2019.

The trade came a day after the Yankees had picked up Jaime Garcia from Minnesota, just days after the Twins had acquired Garcia from Atlanta, along with ex-Met Anthony Recker. Atlanta, in turn, had picked up Garcia in December from St. Louis. To think that Garcia was once a rising star in the Cardinals' rotation. Anyway, Garcia and Gray will provide some insurance for the Yankees' rotation, which lost Michael Pineda to injury recently, and Pineda is out for the year.

On the one hand, it reeked of Yankee trades of years ago, when the late George Steinbrenner didn't hesitate to squander the farm system in favor of a quick fix. Now, I'd not be surprised if they're crying foul in Oakland over "damaged goods" (Kaprelian and Fowler) being shipped their way.

Meanwhile, the Mets shipped closer Addison Reed to Boston for three pitching prospects, this coming three days after the team had acquired A. J. Ramos from Miami. Unfortunately, insofar as this Mets fan is concerned, the Mets got hosed on the Ramos deal, as he's not the same dominant closer he was before. Bear in mind that the Marlins moved Ramos out of the closer's role earlier this season, and the Mets lit him up at least once or twice already this season. Reed moves back into a set-up role with the Red Sox, who have Craig Kimbrel closing for them, and was only closing for the Mets because Jeurys Familia is on the DL with a shoulder injury. Ramos' Mets debut on Sunday was not good, giving up 2 runs on 2 hits, with the game all but decided at the time, in a 9-1 loss to Seattle. The Mets have another ex-closer, Fernando Salas, but he's been working middle relief most of the season. I bring that up because I don't think Ramos is the answer in the Mets' pen.

Out west, AL West leader Houston added Francisco Liriano to their rotation. In state rival Texas, however, gave up ace Yu Darvish, sending him to the Dodgers, who, like the Yankees, are looking for pitching insurance with their ace, Clayton Kershaw, on the DL. Darvish got off to a slow start this season, as he's recovering from injuries. The World Series champion Cubs picked up another reliever, Justin Wilson, from Detroit, along with catcher Alex Avila, whose 2nd tour of duty in Motown comes to an abrupt end. AL champ Cleveland welcomed back reliever Joe Smith, who comes over from Toronto.

Good thing football season is right around the corner......