Monday, December 31, 2018

40 years ago, a coach's career ended in shame

40 years ago, this past Saturday, Ohio State & Clemson met at the Gator Bowl, which, at the time, didn't have corporate sponsorship like it does now. ABC broadcast the game live, with the legendary Keith Jackson calling the action.

It would be the final game in Woody Hayes' 28 year career as head football coach at Ohio State. You'll see the reason why about 40 seconds into this video:



Hayes took umbrage with Clemson linebacker Charlie Bauman, who'd clinched the game for the Tigers with his interception. The story goes that Hayes believed he was trying to take the ball away from Bauman, and ended up striking Bauman in the throat. Hayes was dismissed as football coach the next day, but continued to teach at Ohio State for a few more years before he passed away.

Celebrity Rock: Moon Over Parma (1995)

"Moon Over Parma" was the first theme song for The Drew Carey Show, all the way back in 1995. However, it was supplanted the next year for a dance number set to the Vogues' "5 O'Clock World". Drew Carey never shot a music video for "Moon Over Parma", but one wishes he cut a full length music CD.......

NFL this 'n' that

The 2018 regular season ended Sunday night with Indianapolis claiming the last AFC playoff spot after beating Tennessee. That's the good news. The bad news is that the Colts will play AFC South  rival Houston for a 3rd time this season in the Wild Card round. Speaking of which, the field is now set:

AFC:

Indianapolis @ Houston.
Los Angeles @ Baltimore.

NFC:

Philadelphia @ Chicago.
Seattle @ Dallas.

Right now, these four games are hard to figure. Predictions coming at the end of the week.
======================================
We're in an era when most playoff teams rest some or all of their skill position starters. Dallas QB Dak Prescott opted to play Sunday against the Giants, and it turned out to be a good decision, as he hit Cole Beasley for a touchdown with under a minute to go. That play needed an officals' booth review, because it was originally ruled an incomplete pass. Prescott then hit Michael "Full" Gallup for a game-winning 2 point conversion.

Big Blue finishes its 1st season under Pat Shurmur at 5-11 with room for improvement. I've a feeling that if the Giants want to draft a quarterback again next year to caddy Eli Manning, Shurmur can always consider his son, Kyle, a senior at Vanderbilt.

With a playoff spot on the line, of course Ben Roethlisberger would be under center for Pittsburgh as they beat Cincinnati, but if they really thought the resurgent Cleveland Browns had it in them to beat Baltimore, they were fooling themselves. Despite rookie QB Baker Mayfield's heroics, the Browns came up short, as Pittsburgh misses the playoffs, and Baltimore wins its first division title in six years.

Some people, however, let their egos get in the way of common sense.

Chief among these is New England's resident prima donna, Tom Brady, who just had to pad his stats against the Jests, throwing four touchdown passes to as many receivers, none of whom were named Rob Gronkowski, in a 38-3 win. Common sense dictated that Brady sit this one out, as backup QB Brian Hoyer could've done the same thing. Instead, Brady pulled the diva card, and wasn't removed from the game until after he'd thrown his last TD pass to Julian Edelman.

All this proves is that Brady, and not coach Bill Belichick, controls the locker room. New England, as the #2 seed, is assured of just one home game in the playoffs instead of the usual two that go with being the top seed.

Jacksonville, last year's surprise, fell back to earth this season, and star running backs Leonard Fournette and T. J. Yeldon sat out the season finale Sunday. Wouldn't surprise me one bit if both are playing elsewhere next season. Former coach Tom Coughlin, now in the front office, was rightfully upset with the two having a pity party detached from the rest of the team on Sunday.
========================================
The blood letting of coaches started before the end of business on Sunday.

The Jests cut bait on Todd "Salad" Bowles after four seasons. Management seemed to dictate starting rookie QB Sam Darnold over veteran Josh McCown, this after Bowles refused to play the likes of Christian Hackenburg and Bryce Petty in critical situations the last couple of seasons. A promising start, upsetting Detroit on opening night, went by the boards very quickly.

Tampa Bay sent Dirk Koetter over the side after three seasons, none of which produced a playoff appearance. Anyone wanna bet that Bowles will resurface in Tampa?
==========================================
Let's try to sort out the playoff picture.

AFC:

Kansas City, the #1 seed, would play the Baltimore-Los Angeles winner unless Indianapolis beats Houston. If that happens, the Ravens-Chargers winner goes to Foxborough to play the Patriots. Otherwise, if form holds, the division round would have Houston at New England, and Baltimore at Kansas City.

NFC:

New Orleans is the #1 seed, followed by Los Angeles, Chicago, & Dallas. The Saints would host either Philadelphia, should they beat Chicago, or the Dallas-Seattle winner. If Chicago beats Philadelphia, it would not only ensure a new Super Bowl champion, but the Bears would play the Rams in the division round.

This will be fun.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Musical Interlude: Girl Talk (1965)

"Girl Talk" was written in 1965 for the movie, "Harlow", a biography of actress Jean Harlow. Actor-singer-songwriter Bobby Troup wrote the lyrics accompanying the music of Neal Hefti. This music video was directed by future icon Robert Altman.



I am going to try to find the episodes of Perry Mason where Troup sang as well as acted. Too bad he never got to croon on Emergency!, though. Hefti is better known to baby boomers for composing the themes to Batman and The Odd Couple, among others.

Forgotten TV: Viva Valdez (1976)

In the mid-70's, the networks discovered that there were still some under-served audiences watching their programs.

After James Komack scored a hit for NBC with Chico & The Man, someone at ABC thought that it was time for a domestic family comedy about a Latino family. However, Viva Valdez lasted just three months in 1976, and I think it was because viewers weren't ready. The Jeffersons, a spin-off from All in The Family, was in its second year. Another branch off the Norman Lear tree, Sanford & Son, was headed toward its final season on NBC. ABC was also home to Barney Miller & Welcome Back, Kotter, a pair of hit series with multi-racial casts.

While I never saw Viva Valdez, I can only speculate that the biggest reason why it failed was because viewers looked at this as a generic family sitcom with a Latino beat, and while African-American-based shows such as Jeffersons & Sanford had gained a foothold with viewers, it would take longer for a Latino family to find the same comfort zone.

Gilmore Box offers the intro:



Carmen Zapata was also starring on PBS' Villa Allegre around this same time. James Victor is better remembered for his later work on the remake of Zorro for the Family Channel (now Freeform) in the 90's.

No rating.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

In Theatres: Aquaman (2018)

Aquaman is one of DC Comics' legacy characters, one who's been around since the Golden Age, but in recent times has often been maligned & mocked because of his telepathic powers. Those critics tend to ignore, rather than forget, that Aquaman is relatively in the same strength class as Superman & Wonder Woman, two of his Justice League teammates.

Director James Wan, who also co-wrote the story, builds his tale from the ground up. It begins with an Atlantean, Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), discovered by a lighthouse keeper, Thomas Curry. After a period of adjustment, they fall in love, and Atlanna gives birth to a half-human, half-Atlantean, the future Aquaman. However, because of Atlantean traditions involving arranged marriages, Atlanna is forced to return home to Atlantis.

Flash forward to a year after the events of "Justice League". Aquaman, led to believe Atlanna has died, returns home to confront his half-brother, Orm, aka Ocean Master, one of the Sea King's long time enemies, but not before locking horns with another canonical nemesis, Black Manta. Keep an ear open for a voice-over cameo by Julie Andrews in a little in your face disgrace to Disney, since Andrews does not appear in "Mary Poppins Returns". Willem Dafoe and Dolph Lundgren are the other familiar names in the supporting cast.

Following is the trailer:



Yes, Aquaman now has his iconic green & yellow costume. Mera (Amber Heard) has her jumpsuit, which appears green underwater, but shifts to a bluish color on the surface.

Trailers include:

"Glass" (next month): M. Night Shyamalan completes the trilogy he started with "Unbreakable". With Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, & James McAvoy.

"Godzilla: King of The Monsters": Follow-up film to the modern reimagining of Japan's best known monster. Due in the spring.

"Shazam!": Zachary Levi (ex-Chuck) is the hero formerly known as Captain Marvel in the next DC Comics film, which has its roots in recent reboots dating back at least seven years. In other words, this version has more of an Our Gang vibe to it, but with super powers. The current DC book has that same setting.

"Hellboy": Yeah, Mike Mignola's demonic hero is back, with David Harbour (Stranger Things) taking over the role originally essayed by Ron Perlman.

"Wonder Park": Nickelodeon's animation division gets back into the game with a tale about a child's theme park that comes to life.

"Alita: Battle Angel" (Valentine's Day): Based on a well known Japanese series, and adapted by James Cameron & Jon Favreau, among others.

"Aquaman" gets an A.

Remember when Lovin' Spoonfuls meant cat food, not a rock band? (1974)

Back in 1974, Ralston Purina expanded their pet food lines. For cats, they introduced Lovin' Spoonfuls, which I would guess would be their answer to, for example, Puss 'n' Boots or Friskies. Actress Joyce Bulifant does the shilling here.



Unfortunately, Lovin' Spoonfuls were off the shelves before the end of the 70's. I wonder if that's because John Sebastian's old band, the Lovin' Spoonful, made a stink over copyrights to the name......

Friday, December 28, 2018

Musical Interlude: Turn-Down Day (1966)

The Cyrkle had just two hits, both off the same album.

"Turn-Down Day" was the follow-up to the title song, "Red Rubber Ball", and this clip appears to be from The Hollywood Palace:

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Forgotten TV: Musical Chairs (1955)

If you thought Musical Chairs was just a daytime game show on CBS in the mid-70's, cribbing its name from a classic schoolyard game, you'd be wrong.

20 years earlier, NBC acquired a regional game under the same Musical Chairs title as a summer replacement primetime series. The only thing these two sets of Chairs have in common is that neither was very successful.

NBC's Musical Chairs had the same panel each week: songwriter Johnny Mercer, comic actress Rose Marie (later of The Dick Van Dyke Show and Hollywood Squares, among others), actor-singer-songwriter Bobby Troup, at the time more known as an accomplished jazz musician, and cartoon & radio icon Mel Blanc. Series host Bill Leyden would follow this up with It Could Be You.

We showcased this sample over at Saturday Morning Archives (due to Blanc) yesterday, so now it's here.....



Troup's combo was the house band, backed by the vocal group, the Cheerleaders.

No rating.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Classic TV: Wide World of Sports (1961)

Over the course of four decades, it was a Saturday afternoon tradition.

However, after 37 seasons, ABC ended Wide World of Sports as a weekly anthology series. Today, the name remains as an umbrella title for various ABC/ESPN sports specials, such as the recent revival of Battle of The Network Stars.

Sportscaster and former game show host Jim McKay was the lead anchor for Wide World for most, if not all, of its run. The series also gave former NFL stars Frank Gifford & O. J. Simpson something to do, Gifford in particular, when in between seasons of Monday Night Football. In the course of its run (1961-98), Wide World lived up to the narrative spoken by McKay at the beginning of each episode, "spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport". Where else would you find televised lumberjack competitions? Demolition derbies? You get the idea.

Wide World also spun off The Pro Bowlers Tour & The American Sportsman.

We're going back in time to 1969, and an edited broadcast emphasizing that year's running of the Daytona 500. "The Great American Race" was shown on tape delay back in those days, long before NASCAR became big business, mandating that its major races would be shown live.



Rating: A.

What Might've Been: The Big Surprise (1955)

The late newsman Mike Wallace was long associated with CBS. He'd hosted a game show pilot that later became To Tell The Truth, and, of course, anchored 60 Minutes for several years. He also hosted and narrated the original, David Wolper-produced Biography.

The only time Wallace did anything for a network not named CBS came in 1956, when he took over as host of NBC's The Big Surprise, a knock-off of CBS' The $64,000 Question. Surprise was originally hosted by Jack Barry, and, mind you, this was before the game show scandals forced quizzers like these, and Barry, off the air.

Jack Clark is the announcer, and this represents some of his earliest work. This sample episode features movie legend Errol Flynn.



It was quizzers like these that were parodied by Jackie Gleason on The Honeymooners. No matter what, you can't go wrong just answering simple questions that get harder as the prizes get bigger.....

Rating: A.

Monday, December 24, 2018

On Video: The Thin Man (1934)

Acclaimed author Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man hit bookstores in January 1934. Four months later, the film was adapted for the screen by MGM, beginning a series of feature films with William Powell & Myrna Loy as the husband & wife team of Nick & Nora Charles. Nick is a retired detective who still has the skills when needed.

However, much like Blake Edwards' "Pink Panther" movies that launched three decades later, "The Thin Man" does not refer to Nick Charles. The movie explains how it got its title in the course of the story.

Here's a trailer:



While Maureen O'Sullivan earned third billing, keep an eye open for a young Cesar Romero, who would begin to land leading roles of his own.

In the 50's, MGM decided to develop a TV version of Thin Man with Peter Lawford as Nick Charles. Lasted one season. Lawford, you see, didn't have the kind of good fortune on television that his Rat Pack brothers had......

Rating: B.

Sports this 'n' that

The more things change, the more they stay the same in the NFL.

When Week 16 began Saturday, the New England Patriots were the #3 seed in the AFC. This morning, they need only win one more game, and they'll have their precious spot at #1.

How?

New England beat Buffalo, 24-12, on Sunday. Then, the players watched Philadelphia beat Houston, at the time the #2 seed. New England owns a tiebreaker over Houston based on a win over the Texans in September. Kansas City, which is #1, lost their second straight, getting blown out in the second half by Seattle. New England also owns a tiebreaker over the Chiefs based on a 44-0 blowout win in October at Foxborough. The Patriot win snapped a two game losing streak, and they close at home vs. the Jets in what is likely Todd Bowles' final game as Jets coach next Sunday.

But, that ain't all.

Pittsburgh fell out of the #4 seed in the AFC after losing to New Orleans, 31-28. Couple that with Baltimore beating the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday night, and the Ravens move into the #4 spot as AFC North leaders with a week to go. Baltimore plays resurgent Cleveland next week, and a win there locks up the division.
=======================================
If you wanted more proof that oddsmakers aren't the sharpest tools in the drawer some weeks, the last two days were proof positive.

Let's say you have a betting ticket that you got from a friend. Three teams (Tennessee, New England, LA Rams) were favored by 10 points or better, and only one, the Rams, covered. In the 15 games played the last two days, six underdogs beat the spread (Washington, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Baltimore, & the Giants). That says the games yesterday & Saturday all had meaning, and that there was no such thing as a meaningless game on the schedule, except for tonight's Monday Night Football season finale between Denver & Oakland.
========================================
All four NFC divisions have been decided, with Dallas beating Tampa Bay Sunday to clinch their 3rd NFC East title in five years. However, Dallas is locked into the #4 seed behind New Orleans, Los Angeles, & Chicago. The Cowboys have only won one playoff game since Troy Aikman swapped his shoulder pads for an announcer's blazer and microphone. The Wild Cards are still up for grabs with a week to go. Meanwhile, only one AFC Wild Card is secure, that belonging to the Los Angeles Chargers despite losing to Baltimore. The Patriots are the only division winner in the AFC, as everything else will be decided next Sunday. If Kansas City's recent collapse continues, the Chargers could sneak into the #2 seed.
==========================================
WWE would like you to believe they are actually listening to you. That was the message being sent on television last week, but given how frequently Chairman/CEO Vince McMahon changes his mind, this era of good feeling could only last a few weeks, if that.

On the other hand, some movies out now have a decided WWE presence.

Former champion John Cena appears in "Bumblebee", the latest in the "Transformers" movie series, serving as a prequel to the series. This, and a part in a Jackie Chan movie, would explain why Cena grew out his hair in recent months. Braun Strowman, currently unable to actually compete due to an elbow injury despite winning at TLC last week, will be on the big screen starting tomorrow in "Holmes & Watson", Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly's spoof of Sherlock Holmes. The ongoing "Marine" movie series produced by WWE, which began on the big screen with Cena, is now direct-to-video, and the sixth installment in the series is the fourth for its current lead, Michael "The Miz" Mizanin, joined this time by Becky Lynch & Shawn Michaels.

Meanwhile, there are some fans hoping that McMahon will finally step aside to focus on rebooting the XFL, due to relaunch in 2020. Like, d'ya really think that's gonna happen? File it under wishful thinking.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas at Ground Zero (1986)

"Weird" Al Yankovic took a poke at the legendary wall of sound of Phil Spector, particularly on the enigmatic producer's Christmas records, with 1986's "Christmas at Ground Zero", the final track on Yankovic's "Polka Party!" CD. Yankovic made his directorial debut, and appears only at the end of the video, which otherwise is a mishmash of stock footage and vintage clips (i.e. Howdy Doody's Clarabelle The Clown, a GE Theater clip with Ronald Reagan), mostly from the 50's and early 60's.



Funny thing was, Yankovic's label at the time, Scotti Brothers, a sister label to Columbia, refused to release "Ground Zero" as a commercial single. Yankovic paid out of his own pocket to make the video.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas at The Clampetts (Beverly Hillbillies, 1963)

The Beverly Hillbillies' 2nd annual Christmas show has the Clampetts getting presents from next door neighbor Milburn Drysdale (Raymond Bailey), including a chimp for Elly May (Donna Douglas).



I have little memory of seeing this one. I've seen many episodes, but I don't recall seeing this one. No rating.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas Eve at The Booby Hatch (Laverne & Shirley, 1976)

A tradition was started on Laverne & Shirley in season 2, that being the annual holiday talent show. We've already screened Lenny & Squiggy doing "The Jolliest Fat Man", but now, here's the complete episode, "Christmas Eve at The Booby Hatch":



No rating. Didn't see this initially.

Black Lightning season 2 mid-season report (2018)

Our final mid-season report is the first one for Black Lightning, one of the freshest shows on the air.
===============================
Show: Black Lightning.
Season: 2nd.
When it airs: Mondays at 9 (ET), beginning January 21.
Original rating: A.
================================
Where we are: Much of Tony Isabella's original concept for Black Lightning has been reimagined for this series. For example, Garfield High and police inspector Bill Henderson (Damon Gupton) were originally in Metropolis, and Henderson, as most comics fans know, was a close ally of Superman back in the day. Rather than have Black Lightning, who was originally set in Metropolis in his first run, beginning at the end of 1976, remain there and have to explain why another character with slight ties to the Man of Steel doesn't benefit from Supes' occasional presence (see also: Supergirl), producer Salim Akil relocated not only Jefferson Pierce and his family, but also Henderson and Garfield High, to the fictional town of Freeland, somewhere in the south.

As the series began last January, Pierce (Cress Williams, ex-Hart of Dixie) had retired his alter ego nearly a decade earlier, but brings Black Lightning back to deal with some gang issues at Garfield. Almost everything in terms of criminal activity runs through Tobias Whale (Marvin "Krondon" Jones III), was was originally conceived by Isabella and artist Trevor Von Eeden as an analogue for Marvel's Kingpin. But, as Whale disappeared from the comics pages in the 80's, the realignment of the DC Universe allowed for Lex Luthor to become DC's Kingpin..

Digression over. Whale is a master manipulator, but can't seem to hang on to his associates. His best known ally from the books, Syonide, was killed off at the start of this season, which was a shock in and of itself. Now, Painkiller (Jordan Calloway), who has been carrying a torch for Jeff Pierce's youngest daughter, Jennifer (China Anne McLain), has run away with Jennifer to get away from Whale. I think the producers will avoid the tragic ending of the usual story of young love on the run, though, because there are early indications that Jen will come home and embrace the family business, if ya will.

As Lightning's debut bumped Legends of Tomorrow to Mondays last winter, and, in turn, giving Supergirl an extended winter vacation, just because certain suits at the CW don't want the network flooded with comic book shows across the board, the series is being bumped to Mondays next month, as apparently those suits see money in using The Flash to lead into anything at 9 on Tuesdays. Whatever. However, there are just 7 episodes left to season 2 of Black Lightning, with Legends to return in mid-to-late March.

Right now, check the trailer for the next episode.



Tony Isabella has extolled the virtues of the series over at his Bloggy Thing, and with good reason. While the missteps are few and far between, Black Lightning is the best of the Berlanti-verse by far.

Rating: A.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

What Might've Been: Fay (1975)

If you believe certain sources, Fay was one of NBC's all-time flops when it arrived in 1975.

However, there are factors involved that would disprove this theory. The biggest reason why this Lee Grant-led sitcom failed was where it was placed on the schedule. It aired opposite the 2nd half of CBS' The Waltons. ABC's lineup included Barney Miller and another freshman sitcom, On The Rocks.

Creatively, Fay had no shortage of talent involved. Comedy legend Danny Thomas served as executive producer in what I think was his only project for Universal. Thomas moved his tack to MGM in January 1976 for his own series, The Practice. Son Tony and future partners Paul Junger Witt & Susan Harris were also involved. Harris was the show's creator and head writer. Grant appeared to have a solid supporting cast behind her, too, including Joe Silver as Fay's ex-husband, character actor Norman Alden (ex-Rango), and Audra Lindley, later of Three's Company. Coincidentally, Norman Fell, who would be paired with Lindley on Company and its spin-off, The Ropers, was Lindley's on-screen husband on this show, too.

Footage is hard to find, but check out this sample:



Of course we know what Susan Harris came up with next, a little spoof called Soap that weathered the storm of controversy two years later, and became a hit for ABC.

No rating. My folks alternated between Barney Miller and The Waltons at home.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Sounds of Praise: Angels Among Us (1993)

The country group Alabama rolls into the home district next month on their 50th anniversary tour (!!!). Like, I only became acquainted with them listening to country radio in the late 70's & early 80's.

Anyway, in 1993, the group released "Angels Among Us" as a Christmas single from the CD, "Cheap Seats".

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Countdown to Christmas: O Come, All Ye Bums (Laverne & Shirley, 1978)

The title of this Laverne & Shirley Christmas episode speaks for itself.

Didn't see this one, so there's no rating. Also, this is in memory of Penny Marshall (Laverne), who passed away at 75.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Countdown to Christmas: Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood Christmas skit (Saturday Night Live, 1984)

It is said that Fred Rogers actually admired and appreciated Saturday Night Live's clever parody of his PBS series, to the point where, in making a promotional visit to NBC, he sought out Eddie Murphy to thank him.

Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood was a series of sketches starring Murphy in the title role. He was everything Rogers wasn't. Lived in a poor neighborhood, behind on his rent, etc., and proud of it.

From 1984, Robinson dresses as Santa, but maybe, just maybe, he should've been the Grinch.....



When Murphy left the series, the Neighborhood was closed.

Rating: B.

Sports this 'n' that

Prior to the 2018 season, the Mets signed catcher Jose Lobaton away from the Washington Nationals. However, Lobaton produced in short spurts, and was on the expressway to the minors pretty often.

Today, the Mets introduced another ex-Nats catcher, and former Met-killer, Wilson Ramos, as their latest free agent acquisition. Lobaton is almost certainly gone, and one wonders about guys like Kevin Plawecki and injury prone Travis d'Arnaud, and where they fit in Mickey Calloway's 2019 plans. Stay tuned.
=========================================
Maybe, just maybe, Father Time has finally caught up with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

The AFC East leaders are the #3 seed in the conference after dropping a 17-10 decision to Pittsburgh. The Steelers avenged last year's screwjob loss at Foxborough, but to illustrate how times have changed, the Pats were flagged a season high 14 times. Usually, this time of year, New England is treated like an endangered species, protected by the zebras as much as humanly possible. Not so this time. New England needed the win to get within a game of AFC West co-leader Kansas City for the top seed, but instead were lapped by South leader Houston, which managed to escape the Meadowlands on Saturday night after beating the Jets. The Texans (10-4) are now the #2 seed, but should they & New England tie, the Patriots would hold the tie-breaker by virtue of having beaten Houston earlier this season. Same thing if New England & Kansas City end up tied. Tiebreaker favors the Patriots.
==========================================
To think that after winning the Super Bowl in February, Philadelphia was ready to cut bait on QB Nick Foles for the 2nd time. They didn't, and it turns out to be a good thing.

With Carson Wentz out for the season----again----, Foles led the Eagles to a 30-23 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night. Coincidentally, Foles' run last year also started against the Rams. At 7-7, with two games left, the Eagles are in position to catch Dallas and reclaim the NFC East. Problem is, the Eagles are tied with the Washington Trumpets at 7-7. Nothing is ever easy.
===========================================
Back at the end of January, Japan's Asuka won the first women's Royal Rumble, but was denied in her bid to win the Smackdown women's title from Charlotte Flair at Wrestlemania. For whatever reason, WWE Uncreative saw fit to have Asuka be denied the title in two matches vs. Carmella, both due to outside interference, and fans were ready to riot online.

Sunday night, at TLC, Asuka finally won the title, surviving a triple threat vs. Flair and Becky Lynch, but with an assist from Raw women's champ Ronda Rousey, who had retained her title earlier by beating Nia Jax. Rousey still has issues with Flair & Lynch dating back to last month, and it sets up next month's Royal Rumble. Flair & Lynch are already entered in the women's event, which pretty much telegraphs who could win it. However, leave us not forget the suddenly injury prone Alexa Bliss, who could be ready to return to action by the Rumble. When you consider the company chairman is a 73 year old man who's creative skills aren't what they once were......

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas All Over Again (2000)

With a week before Christmas, why not scope a modern day holiday treat from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Here's "Christmas All Over Again":

Sunday, December 16, 2018

On The Air: Arrow season 7 mid-season report (2018)

Sorry that this one's a little late, as I meant to do this one yesterday.
=================================
Show: Arrow.
Season: 7th.
When it airs: Mondays at 8 (ET). Returns January 14.
Previous rating: C-.
==================================
Where we are: Last year started with a nondescript fellow, Cayden James (Michael Emerson), deluded into believing Oliver Queen, aka Green Arrow (Stephen Amell), had killed his son. Turns out that wasn't true at all, and Ollie was framed. Once that was solved, James ended up going to jail, but never got a cell.

That's because Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo), the real villain, whacked James before he even was sentenced. Diaz's rationale for being what he is, other than being more annoying than the average obnoxious radio yapper, is that he was bullied as a child, somehow amassed a fortune, got his revenge on said bully, but then turned Star City against Team Arrow, using said money. However, that plot was foiled at the end of season six. Problem is, Diaz got away, and Queen was sent to prison, which is where we started season seven.

In jail, Queen is reacquainted with some old enemies, including Danny "Brick" Brickwell (Vinnie Jones), Derek Sampson (pro wrestler Cody Runnels), and Ben Turner, aka the Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White), who seem to have taken control of the prisoner colony. Sampson was a made-for-TV creation introduced in season 5. Tiger dates back to the 70's, and Brick, originally an African-American like Turner in the books, was rebooted as a White Australian, reversing the usual cultural diversity in casting. However, Jones has all the presence of a dead tree. Didn't like him in "The Condemned" 11 years ago opposite Steve Austin, and Runnels seems to act like he's uncomfortable around him.

Before this arc is over, we say good-bye to FBI agent Samandra Watson (Sydelle Noel, GLOW), who's been reassigned. Diaz is still loose, hassling Ollie's wife, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), but after he's finally busted and joins Ollie at Slabside, a battle royale breaks loose, leading to Turner finding the hero in him (he was originally a hero in the books) to help Ollie, who's finally sprung by Black Siren (Katie Cassidy), still posing as the Earth 1 Laurel Lance, who'd been killed in season four by Damien Dahrk.

Right before Elseworlds, ARGUS agents Lyla & John Diggle, the latter having joined ARGUS in the interim, recruit Diaz, of all people, for a project. That definitely was not a good idea, but an example of someone on the creative staff having some sort of interest in keeping the charismatically challenged Acevedo around.

Here's the season trailer:



There is a second Green Arrow running around, and it turns out to be Ollie's half-sister, Emiko, a recent addition to the comics within the last decade. This will get interesting.

Having shifted time slots twice in as many seasons says this show may be on its last legs. We'll see.

Updated rating: B+.

On The Air: The Flash Season 5 mid-season report (2018)

Some people just don't learn.
======================
Show: The Flash
Season: 5th
When it airs: Tuesdays at 8 (ET). New episodes resume January 15.
Previous rating (2017-18): B--.
========================
Where we are: At the end of last season, XS, aka Nora West-Allen (Jessica Parker Kennedy), officially introduced herself to Team Flash after helping Flash himself (Grant Gustin) defeat the Thinker.

Unfortunately, Nora also messed with the timeline, a recurring problem on this show, and, prior to Elseworlds, it was revealed that she was working in league with Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash, who is in his season 1 persona, occupying the body of the deceased Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanaugh). I'd just as soon file Thawne under "characters that need to go away", but he is Flash's greatest nemesis in the books, more so than the Rogues. Matt Letscher played Thawne on Legends of Tomorrow, but must've been unavailable this season. Plus, Cavanaugh maintains a presence playing various variants on Wells, this season being Sherloque Wells, a French sleuth who exists mostly for comedy relief.

Now, the problem with Nora is that since she is so young, she is also impulsive and naive, easily manipulated by the likes of Thawne with false promises.This will not end well.

The season's other villain is Cicada, a more recent creation, but not the one you know from the books. Instead, what the producers decided to do was tease the use of David Hersch, the Cicada from the books, but gave the identity instead to Ollin Dwyer (Chris Klein, "American Pie"), who is trying to care for his ailing daughter. I get the sympathy angle, as a means of humanizing the villain, rather than retain Cicada's original characterization as a cult leader. That's fine, and most viewers were lulled into thinking Cicada's story would end before Elseworlds. It didn't. It's going to drag into the second half, which shouldn't be happening. That says to me the writers are over-reaching, again showing they don't know how to write shorter arcs, unlike over on Supergirl, and assume Cicada has enough of a story to last the full season. No, he doesn't, not this itineration, anyway. The cult leader? Yeah, he would, but we just had a cult leader over on Supergirl last season......!

What is hurting the show is the absence of Jesse L. Martin (Joe West), who is out with an injury, and was limited in what he could do in the first half. That means Team Flash has to carry more of the action than usual, and that's not exactly working as well as it should. For what it's worth, they've revived the online series, The Chronicles of Cisco, on the CW website, so we will get more of Carlos Valdes' comedy stylings as Cisco Ramon, tech genius and lovelorn sidekick. At least with the addition of Jessica Parker Kennedy, Flash has upped the cute quotient.

Right now, there isn't much that would convince me to tune in on Tuesdays. I watch the show On Demand more than usual. Yeah, that says the writers need help.

Here's the season trailer:



Rating: B--.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Remember Kinney Shoes? (1975)

Honestly, do you remember Kinney, the "Great American Shoe Store"?

The chain is gone now, but one of its subsidiaries, Foot Locker, had remained at last check. Kinney, Thom McAn, & Buster Brown were big names back in the day. Kinney had a leg up on everyone else by recruiting actor-singer-dancer Ken Berry (ex-F-Troop, Mayberry RFD) to star in a series of ads between 1975-80. Back then, Berry, a couple of years removed from a failed variety show of his own, was a frequent guest of Carol Burnett, and took the occasional acting gig. As we've talked about, he nearly landed another sitcom of his own, but a proposed Brady Bunch spinoff never got past the backdoor pilot stage.

Anyway, Ken's at a mall for this spot. I'm told Pamelyn Ferdin (ex-The Paul Lynde Show, Curiosity Shop) also appears. Keep an eye on her.



You just don't see ads like this anymore.

Friday, December 14, 2018

On The Air: Supergirl season 4 mid-season report (2018)

This weekend, we are doing mid-season reports for the Arrowverse shows we're following. We're off the Legends of Tomorrow bandwagon, and we will give a mid-season grade for Black Lightning next week.
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Subject: Supergirl.
Season: 4th.
When it airs: Sundays at 8 (ET). Returns January 20.
Previous grade: B- (mid-season 2017-18).

Where we are: The biggest complaint people have about Supergirl is where its political leanings lie. It's no longer a mostly feminist agenda, but rather a scathing, ongoing analogy in relation to a certain demagogue occupying the White House. Executive Producer Greg Berlanti and his staff have all but put aside their LGBT agenda in favor of using the show to speak out against President Trump.

In the context of the show itself, Trump is embodied by the fictional President Baker (Bruce Boxleitner, ex-Babylon 5, Scarecrow & Mrs. King), who ascended to the Presidency when his predecessor, Olivia Marsden (Lynda Carter) was forced to resign after she was publicly outed as an alien. More specifically, a Durlan, a fact viewers had known for some time. Marsden's ouster came courtesy of Mercy Graves (Rhona Mitra), better known to comics fans as Lex Luthor's bodyguard-chauffeur, but unlike in the books, Mercy is doing her own thing, and was given a brother, Otis, who himself is a call-back to Ned Beatty's character of the same name from "Superman: The Movie" 40 years ago. That Otis was also an associate of Luthor, but neither Otis was sharp in the brain department.

The layers of the overarching plot for the season are being peeled back one at a time. The Graves sibs were killed off just a month into the season after recruiting Ben Lockwood (Sam Witwer, ex-Smallville), aka Agent Liberty, who, instead of a standard cowl & tights, wears a mask that looks like it was reforged after it was originally designed for Styx's "Mr. Roboto". Yeah, it's that bad. In the books, Agent Liberty started as a hero, turned jingoist rogue, then turned back to a hero before being killed off. The fact that his followers wear replica masks was inspired by Alan Moore & David Lloyd's V For Vendetta and those Guy Fawkes-inspired masks worn by characters in that book.

Prior to this week's Elseworlds, Lockwood was himself captured and unmasked, but don't think that's the end of him, because it isn't.

Meanwhile, Lex Luthor will finally arrive on the scene in the second half of the season. Jon Cryer (ex-Two and a Half Men), most recently flexing his dramatic muscles on NCIS, might actually be an improvement over the underachieving Jesse Eisenberg ("Justice League", "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice"). While Cryer might actually be much older than Katie McGrath, who plays Lex's sultry sis, Lena, he actually can pass for a guy 15-20 years younger. He also has some genre cred, as he appeared in one of the later "Superman" movies under the Salkinds' watch as another Luthor relative.

Superman himself (Tyler Hochelin) returned in Elseworlds, but forget about him returning again this season. He might not be back until next year's Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover. Y'see, he popped the question to Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch, ex-Grimm) after learning Lois is pregnant, conception having taken place at Argo City, which is where the couple will stay for the duration. An old foe of Superman's, Manchester Black (David Ajala) debuted, and reportedly will form his comics team, the Elite, in the second half, so that'll put the speculation to rest about Black being a guinea pig for Lena's experiments.

Back to President Baker. I'm so not digging his Trumpian bullying of Supergirl in the 12/2 episode, demanding her secret identity be revealed, and you can imagine he's claiming it's for national security reasons. Boxleitner wears his gray hair the way Trump would. If they really wanted to, they'd be better off if they could have pried Alec Baldwin away from his self-titled ABC talk show, which is nearing the cutting room floor, Saturday Night Live, & Match Game.

Anyway, here's a trailer for the next episode, airing January 20.



If they don't use Elvis Presley or Fine Young Cannibals (who covered "Suspicious Minds" back in the 80's) on the soundtrack, well.....!

Updated rating: A-.

Sports this 'n' that

There are two schools of thought when it comes to Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen.

On one side, he's brought back reliever Jeurys Familia, who owns the team record for saves in a season, signing Familia to a 3 year, $30 million contract. Infielder Dilson Herrera, who was dealt to Cincinnati for Jay Bruce a while back, signed a minor league deal a week or two ago after the Reds gave up on him for some reason.

With Familia now paired with Edwin Diaz, Van Wagenen has blessed Mickey Calloway with a lethal 1-2 punch in the back of the bullpen. Herrera will battle for a bench spot in spring training behind Robinson Cano and Jeff McNeil at second base.

On the other hand, Van Wagenen is riling up the fan base by dangling players that are meant to be untouchable, such as pitcher Noah Syndergaard and outfielders Brandon Nimmo & Michael Conforto, in a potential, but unlikely, trade for Miami catcher J. T. Realmuto. Owners Fred & Jeff Wilpon should've given Van Wagenen a list of players that cannot be traded. Period. End of story.
=============================================
Let the conspiracy theories fly, if they haven't already, surrounding the end of Thursday's Chiefs-Chargers rematch, the Thursday Night Football season finale.

Not to take anything away from Los Angeles salvaging a season split with Kansas City after a late fourth quarter comeback, but ref Walt Anderson's crew made some dubious calls that swung the game away from the AFC West leaders. Bear in mind that the Chargers weren't the real beneficiaries of Anderson's team screwing things up.

No, that would be East leader New England. Seems they're obsessed with keeping the path to the Super Bowl in their direction by any means necessary. Headed into Sunday's road match with Pittsburgh, the Evil Empire is now 1 1/2 games behind Kansas City/Los Angeles for the #1 seed in the AFC. The Steelers were screwed last year, and you wonder if NFL Director of Officiating Alberto Riveron may very well be in the pocket of Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Nothing says spoiled and artificially entitled like the Patriots and their legion of dittoheads.
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Hours before the game, on ESPN's First Take, Stephen A. Smith earned his 2nd straight Dunce Cap. How, you might ask? By being brain-dead on the air at the wrong time.

In discussing the pending game between the Chiefs & Chargers, Smith got confused, leading to looks of bewilderment from Max Kellerman and ex-Patriot-turned-ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi when he name checked three guys that weren't going to be playing:

Kansas City running back Spencer Ware was ruled out with an injury, which Smith somehow missed.

Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson is out of the league, and hadn't played for the Chiefs in the last few years.

Chargers tight end Hunter Henry is out for the season with a torn ACL sustained early in the season.

Smith got called out, rightfully, by Kellerman & Bruschi, and wigged, claiming he had a brain lock due to "multi-tasking". No, what it was, really, was ignorance. As we've noted before, the only reason ESPN keeps Smith around is because he's a lightning rod for controversy, and in this case, he was exposed for his ignorance of details that have been mostly public knowledge for some time. Still don't understand why ESPN keeps using this goof with Teddy Atlas on boxing telecasts when Kellerman, the more experienced of the two debaters on the sweet science, is left on the bench. If anything, Atlas, one of Mike Tyson's old trainers, should take Smith to the woodshed once in a while.........
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Bowl season starts tomorrow with a string of C-list games, mostly on ESPN and/or ABC, with one game on CBS Sports Network. Most folks will be watching the NFL double-dip on NFL Network, one of which will have Fox's Curt Menefee on play-by-play.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

On The Air: FBI (2018)

Dick Wolf has a lot of respect for the procedural crime dramas that preceded his Law & Order franchise. Fifteen years ago, Wolf tried to reinvent and reinvigorate Jack Webb's pioneering Dragnet, but ABC fumbled the ball. For his latest effort, Wolf turned toward another iconic producer's resume, namely that of Quinn Martin.

FBI follows the familiar formula of Law & Order, subbing a pair of agents (Zeeko Zaki, Missy Peregrym) for NYC detectives, even though the show is still set in the Big Apple. Sela Ward and Law & Order vet Jeremy Sisto co-star.

I would actually give this show more attention on Tuesday nights, but for now it's on opposite Black Lightning. I say for now because CW is moving Lightning to Mondays next month, pulling the same stunt that they did with Legends of Tomorrow & Supergirl last season, except now it's Legends being displaced. We'll talk more about it another time.

Martin's The F. B. I. ran for nine seasons (1965-74). Here's to hoping Wolf gets that much time with his version. Here's the trailer:



Is it just me, or did they send Sisto & Zaki to the same stylist? They look like spitting images of each other.

Rating: A.

Remember the Nevele? (1981)

Here's another classic ad that ran on New York channels back in the day.

The Nevele hotel gained a lot of business with a catchy jingle. Two back-to-back seasonal ads are featured here, one for winter, which is right around the corner, and one for the warm weather months of spring & summer.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

On The Air: Elseworlds (2018)

In the late 80's, DC Comics redefined their idea of "alternate reality" with the introduction of their Elseworlds line of miniseries and one-shot specials. There've been some great stories that came from that era, mostly involving----who else?----The Batman.

Unfortunately, DC retired the Elseworlds label a ways back for whatever reason. However, corporate sibling Warner Bros. and producer Greg Berlanti decided to take a shot at it in this season's crossover among Supergirl, Arrow, & The Flash.

First off, you have to understand that Elseworlds' reason for being in the first place was so readers would have some out-of-continuity stories to look forward to from time to time in the period that began after the seminal Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985-6) and its follow-up, Legends. Before that, DC would allow its writers to indulge in whimsical flights of fancy & fantasy with "Imaginary Stories", though those had already petered out before the end of the 60's.

In 2018, the Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) has already ravaged Earth-90, leaving that world's Flash (John Wesley Shipp) its lone survivor. In the comics, Monitor had a herald, known as Harbinger, who did the advance work for him. Due to copyright issues, that character has to undergo a name change before being used anew. (Valiant Comics has since published series about a team known as Harbinger). Then, there was also Pariah, a woebegone wretch who was a regular Donnie Downer. Arrow consulting producer and UAlbany product Marc Guggenheim wrote a good chunk of the story, and opted to leave Pariah out, too.

Instead, for parts 1 & 2 and a good chunk of part 3, Guggenheim and his fellow writers used films like "Freaky Friday" as an inspiration. While they wanted you to think Monitor was the big bad, he really wasn't,  but more like a cosmic Dr. Frankenstein, bestowing the Book of Eternity on a put-upon shrink, Dr. John Deegan (Jeremy Davies, ex-Constantine), known in the comics as Dr. Destiny. Seeing Barry Allen's mind in the body of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), and Queen's mind in the body of Allen (Grant Gustin) was cray-cray all by itself. There are the usual inside jokes that devoted fans of the Arrowverse will get immediately, but the fact that the cast of Legends of Tomorrow was held out of the crossover this year had a specific purpose. What that really was, I cannot say, because I have no clue.

You've seen this teaser by now.



Consider Elseworlds an appetizer, with the main course to follow next year---an adaptation of Crisis on Infinite Earths. By that point, Batwoman (Ruby Rose, Orange is The New Black) will either have her own show on the air, or it'll be held until after the crossover takes place. Consider, too, the events on Flash this season have also begun to build toward the same direction, now that I think of it.

Over the rest of the week, we will offer mid-season reviews, as we did last year, of Flash, Arrow, & Supergirl.

Elseworlds gets a B+.

Countdown to Christmas: Mary, Did You Know? (2014)

"Mary, Did You Know?" is meant to be a Christmas song, but where I go to church in the 518, our worship team plays it year-round, and with good reason. The lyrics to Mark Lowry's 1991 ode don't just cover the Nativity, but Jesus' life.

The a cappella group Pentatonix offered their cover in 2014.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Sports this 'n' that

Baseball's winter meetings are underway in Las Vegas, and one of the bigger headlines today is a rumor that the Mets, Yankees, & Miami would be partners in a 3-way deal that would send Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard across town to the Bronx, and somehow, the Mets would get catcher J. T. Realmuto from the SS Titanic, aka the Marlins.

BOLLOCKS & BALDERDASH!!!!

Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen, Syndergaard's former agent, is still thinking like an agent. If it was possible for a GM to have that kind of mentality, Scott Boras would be in the front office of his hometown Padres. It was one thing for Van Wagenen to bring another ex-client, Robinson Cano, back to New York, this time with the Mets, in a trade last week, but the dude is playing with fire by even entertaining the notion of trading Syndergaard, which would be filed among some of the stupidest trades in Mets history, and Van Wagenen would be no different than, say, M. Donald Grant, who was SO cheap, he made Ebenezer Scrooge look like a philanthropist before Christmas Eve!

This trade will not happen as constituted now, as it would represent a half dozen steps backward for the Mets, regardless of what Van Wagenen thinks.
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There's more about this over at my new blog, Tri-City SportsBeat, but the 518 lost a local sports legend over the weekend with the passing of Siena College Hall of Famer Bill Kirsch at 86. Bet the farm the current Saints will honor the legend by dedicating the rest of the season to him.
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Oakland Raiders owner Bruce Davis is acting like a whipped puppy.

On Monday, former player-turned-GM Reggie McKenzie, was let go so that the prodigal son, Jon Gruden, can take full control of football operations. Folks in the Bay Area are worried that star QB Derek Carr might be the next to go after the season, what with the Raiders having badly underachieved, despite upsetting Pittsburgh on Sunday. I don't think Davis' late father, Al, would've allowed this to happen, nor allow the mid-season trade of Amari Cooper to Dallas, which has jet-propelled the Cowboys to the top of the NFC East. The way things have gone this season, Gruden should've stuck to selling Corona Extra.......
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They're still buzzing and partying in Miami after the Dolphins' upset of New England on Sunday. ESPN bloviator Stephen A. Smith put the blame on Patriots coach Bill Belichick on Monday, but the simple truth is, after looking at the replay, putting your star tight end and detergent salesman, Rob Gronkowski, on defense was a bad idea. Looked like Gronk tripped over what he thought were a couple of Tide pods in a vain effort to catch Miami hero Kenyon Drake.

The result leaves New England two games in arrears of Kansas City for the #1 seed in the AFC. Conversely, Miami is two games behind New England with three to play, and the Patriots visit a very hostile Pittsburgh on Sunday, as the Steelers will be looking for revenge after getting screwed last year in Foxborough. Another Patriot loss, coupled with a KC win, locks the Pats out of the top seed.
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It's funny how, after early successes this season, Minnesota could be on the outside looking in when the playoffs start next month. Minnesota was outplayed by Seattle in a 21-7 defeat on Monday. Chicago has long since lapped the Vikings for the NFC North lead, and beat West leader Los Angeles on Sunday. As noted, Dallas has taken over the East, and Washington, due to QB injuries, was eliminated after getting blown out of the yard vs. the Giants in front of their home fans. Defending champion Philadelphia could wind up on the outside looking in, too, and would be the first defending champion since the Giants five years ago to miss the playoffs.
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Speaking of the man known around here as Screamin' A. Cosell, he & Will Cain, sitting in for an ailing Max Kellerman (laryngitis) on First Take today, took issue with some Twidiots who decided to be social justice warriors after Kyler Murray won the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, digging up as old as seven year old tweets, since deleted, in which a then-teenaged and immature Murray made some homophobic slurs. Murray has apologized.

Here's Smith & Cain:



There is no getting around this epidemic of Twidiots raining on other people's parades. Haters gotta hate, but take your hate someplace else.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Forgotten TV: Primus (1971)

Ivan Tors' television career came full circle in 1971.

No longer affiliated with MGM, Tors, a year removed from the cancellation of the Saturday morning series, Jambo, went back underwater with Primus, a syndicated series that also brought Robert Brown (ex-Here Come The Brides) back to television.

Unfortunately, Primus lasted just one season. It did manage some merchandising, including a short-lived comic book from Charlton. I cannot be certain of this, but Primus may have been Robert Brown's last series.

I never got to see the show, as I don't believe it was picked up by any station in my area. This sample clip is one of several available. Susan Oliver is the guest star.



It was not until after Tors passed away that someone got the idea to reboot two of his earlier hits, Sea Hunt & Flipper. Would Primus be worthy of a reboot? I don't know.

No rating.

Sports this 'n' that

Kyler Murray became the 2nd straight Oklahoma quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy Saturday. However, don't expect him to follow in the footsteps of Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders, & Brian Jordan, and try to play both football & baseball professionally.

You see, Murray was drafted by the Oakland A's back in June with the understanding that he could finish his NCAA commitments with the Sooners. Once football season ends, Murray will begin focusing on spring training at the A's camp in Arizona.

You need to remember, too, that we're in a different era in professional sports where the likes of Sanders, Jackson, & Jordan would not be allowed to play two sports at the same time. Jackson's football career, in particular, was cut short by an injury, but he continued to play baseball for a few more years. Murray has retained the services of baseball's favorite parasite, Scott Boras, as his agent, which means the A's will have overpaid for another player in order to fatten Boras' bank account.

Murray's former teammate, Baker Mayfield, has helped the Cleveland Browns back to respectability, as the Browns upset Carolina earlier today. Murray, by the way, isn't the first Heisman winner to bypass the NFL. The last one to do that was Florida State's Charlie Ward in the 90's, who opted for the NBA and the Knicks.
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So Army has beaten Navy three years in a row, and they're in the Top 25. When was the last time Navy was ranked after beating Army? Just askin'.
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It's definitely the off-season in baseball when there's a tragedy in Venezuela.

Former major leaguer Jose Castillo, who played in Pittsburgh, and Luis Valbuena, who's been with Houston and the Angels, were killed in an accident earlier this week. Prayers & condolences to the families of both.
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As week 15 of the NFL season starts Thursday, it marks the end of Fox's Thursday Night Football schedule, and the end of the silly in-game ads for Tide. Bad enough that Procter & Gamble signed Patriots party boy Rob Gronkowski to shill their Tide detergent pods, but to have Fox announcers Joe Buck & Troy Aikman, as well as rules expert Mike Periera, do short bits loaded with puns, is just plain lame. And Aikman, who did a series of ads for Rent-a-Center a few years back with Hulk Hogan, should've known better.
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With three games remaining after this week, it looks like the AFC path to the Super Bowl could go through Kansas City instead of Foxborough for a change.

The Chiefs beat Baltimore to run their record to 11-2. Meanwhile, New England dropped a 34-33 decision to Miami on the last play of the game to fall to 9-4. The only way New England gets their coveted #1 seed is if the Patriots & Chiefs end the season with identical records, in which case New England would own the tie-breaker by virtue of an early season win at home over Kansas City.

Headlines suggested South division leader Houston could sneak past and claim the top seed, but that won't happen, as they lost to Indianapolis today.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Countdown to Christmas: The Dean Martin Christmas Show (1968)

Back in the day, it was common for variety shows to reserve one episode for Christmas. As the variety show faded into the mists of time, these special treats went with them.

50 years ago, Dean Martin had his annual Christmas show......



Over the course of the next 2+ weeks, we'll see other Yuletide entries, including more with Dean, plus Donny & Marie and whatever else we can find.

No rating.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Dunce Cap Award: Stephen A. Smith

It's a good thing ESPN can restrain themselves and not replay First Take at night. Otherwise, they would have more evidence that Stephen A. Smith, aka Screamin' A. Cosell, is a professional idiot.

On today's show, with Max Kellerman away from the studio, Smith & Kellerman engaged in a heated debate, and Smith decided to be his usual delusional, imbecilic self......



Personally, I'd think Magic Johnson wouldn't mind disassociating himself from having ever met Smith, this week's Dunce Cap winner.

Smith is pandering to today's NBA fans, and disrespecting one of the greatest point guards of all time. Did Screamin' A. ever see "Space Jam", the sequel of which will be out soon with LeBron James as the star, in place of Michael Jordan? ESPN keeps this imbecile around because, well, you know, controversy. Calling for Kellerman to be suspended from the show? Sounds like Screamin' A. spends too much time watching WWE when no one's looking. What a maroon.......

What Might've Been: Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (1976)

Norman Lear had made a cottage industry with his network sitcoms, such as All in The Family, which were American remakes of British shows. In 1976, Lear felt it was time to go in a different direction with his next project.

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman parodied daytime soaps, and made a star out of Louise Lasser, who played the title character, and was at the front of a deep ensemble cast.

The series launched in January 1976, and ran for 2 seasons in all, ending in May 1977, replaced by Fernwood 2-Night. When Lasser decided to leave the show after the first season, the 2nd season was run under the title, Forever Fernwood. Lasser's departure, one could argue, made it difficult for the show to get past that second season.

Speaking of the supporting cast, Hartman gave Dabney Coleman his first regular TV gig. Dody Goodman would later turn up in the "Grease" movies. Norman Alden (ex-Rango) had his character killed off, presumably in the first season, and he later resurfaced in the Kroffts' Batman parody, Electra Woman & Dyna Girl, a component of The Krofft Supershow. Michael Lembeck also shifted over to the Supershow, serving as its host, Kaptain Kool, for the duration of its 2 year run, before moving back under the Lear umbrella and joining the cast of One Day at a Time. Martin Mull's character of Garth Gimble was killed off, but Mull would return as Garth's twin brother Barth, host of Fernwood 2-Night and its follow-up, America 2-Night. Today, Mull co-stars on Fox's The Cool Kids.

Here is the intro:



No rating. Never saw the show.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

A Classic Reborn: Baffle (1973)

Four years after P. D. Q. ended its four year syndicated run, Heatter-Quigley revived the show, but with a new title, and a new host.

Baffle spent a year on NBC (1973-4), hosted by sportscaster Dick Enberg (Sports Challenge). The format was essentially the same, and the fact that P. D. Q. had faded from the viewers' consciousness by 1973, helped keep it on the air for a solid year. Problem was, then-NBC programming chief Lin Bolen meddled with the schedule, plunging Baffle down to the bottom of the lunch hour schedule, shearing off five minutes to make room for a mini-newscast with Edwin Newman.

However, with ratings falling, the series was changed to an all-celebrity format, hence the title change to All-Star Baffle. This desperate attempt to keep the show on the air ultimately failed.

Gilmore Box offers a sample intro with Peter Marshall (Hollywood Squares) and frequent Squares panelist Rose Marie:



Rating: A.

Countdown to Christmas: Guess Who's Coming to Christmas? (Happy Days, 1974)

This was previously posted at Saturday Morning Archives:

Fonzie (Henry Winkler) makes one of his first visits to the Cunninghams, which apparently is meant to liven up what otherwise would be a boring Christmas.



No rating. Hadn't seen it 'til I pulled it the other day.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Countdown to Christmas: A Canada Dry Christmas party (1982)

These days, Canada Dry doesn't get the same kind of attention from advertisers it once did. However, the quality of some of their ads does put them right there with Coke & Pepsi. Exhibit A would be this 1982 Christmas ad.....

What Might've Been: Tammy (1965)

A trio of feature films based on a modest novel led to a short-lived 1965 sitcom. So where did Tammy go wrong?

ABC scheduled the show in between The Flintstones & The Addams Family, both entering what would be their final seasons, on Friday nights. Seeing as I've never seen the show, I honestly don't know why it failed.

Star Debbie Watson became the 3rd actress to essay the part of Tammy, whose family surname had been changed from Tyree in the books and movies to Tarleton for unknown reasons, after Debbie Reynolds & Sandra Dee essayed the role in the movies. In fact, Universal cobbled together four episodes of the series to create the film, "Tammy & The Millionaire", released a year after the series ended. Denver Pyle, otherwise a recurring player on The Andy Griffith Show, was cast as Tammy's grandfather, and would play similar roles later on in The Doris Day Show & The Dukes of Hazzard. Watson, however, had flopped in her first starring gig, Karen, a year earlier, also from Universal, for NBC, and would later assume the role of Marilyn Munster in the feature film, "Munster Go Home". She didn't land any more leading roles post-Tammy, however.

Gilmore Box offers the intro:



ABC had similar problems with the Sally Field beach comedy, Gidget, which didn't even finish the season. Maybe if the two shows switched nights......

No rating.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Musical Interlude: The Crying Game (1992)

Boy George had been off the pop charts for a few years before resurfacing with a Grammy-worthy solo track, recording the title song for 1992's "The Crying Game". The song actually predates the movie by nearly 30 years, written by Geoff Stephens and recorded by Dave Berry in 1964. Country-pop singer Brenda Lee covered it the next year, but no one here otherwise had heard of the song until George managed heavy airplay on MTV and peaked at #15 on the pop chart.

Neil Tennant (Pet Shop Boys) is heard as a backing vocalist, and, along with PSB partner Chris Lowe, produced the track.



Coincidentally, Dave Berry's 1964 recording is also on the soundtrack, but this fit George's neo-soul sound like a glove.

A Classic Reborn: The New Treasure Hunt (1973)

In the early 70's, eccentric game show mogul Chuck Barris acquired the rights to Jan Murray's 50's hit, Treasure Hunt, and rebooted it as a syndicated, weekly series with an updated set, a group of attractive models, and a new host, Geoff Edwards. Murray was still around, doing game & talk shows and stand-up comedy, but for some reason was no longer in demand as a game show host, despite his success in the 50's. Murray, though, was given screen credit as series creator.

The New Treasure Hunt ran for four seasons (1973-7), and you can blame Barris himself for scuttling the show before the 5th season. Flush with success from NBC's Gong Show, Barris wanted Hunt to be even more bizarre. He'd already done away with the quiz portion of the show, opting to try to emulate or parody (take your pick) Monty Hall's Let's Make a Deal. Edwards, who'd taken advantage of the weekly schedule to land a daytime gig (Jackpot), balked, and would've been gone, except that Barris had a change of heart, then pulled the plug anyway.

Hunt would return for that fifth season after all, in 1981, this time as a daily series, but the four year time lag proved costly, and the series finally ended in 1982. Subsequent purchases of the series by other entities have not produced revivals, although another game show icon, Wink Martindale, has been attached to recent attempts.

Let's take a trip back in time, via a 1984 CBN cable repeat, edited to include an extra sponsor plug.



Rating: B. Nothing beats the original.

Sports this 'n' that

'Tis the season where impatient owners are making moves before things get worse.

In the NBA, this is very obvious. Fred Hoiberg was dismissed by the Chicago Bulls over the weekend after a poor start. Hoiberg was in his 5th season with Chicago after a successful run in the college ranks, and will likely land somewhere else next season.
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There is much to-do over the fact that Green Bay fired Mike McCarthy after losing to Arizona on Sunday. Fox's Troy Aikman ripped the decision, feeling that McCarthy deserved a better fate in his 12th season.

ESPN's Jason Witten, like Aikman a former Dallas Cowboys star, echoed Aikman's sentiments Monday night. In contrast, fellow analyst Anthony "Booger" McFarland felt the time was right to make a change, as rare as it is for Green Bay to make a change in mid-seaosn. Former Miami coach Joe "Don't call me Regis" Philbin will take over for the final four games of the season.

Personally, I feel McCarthy will also find a new home in 2019.
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Meanwhile, the NFL needs to get its house in order when it comes to players and the law.

Two first round draft picks in 2017 are sitting out the rest of the season because of off-field issues. Last week, Kansas City cut their leading rusher, Kareem Hunt, amid charges of assaulting a woman earlier this year. TMZ posted a video of a February incident, and the Chiefs, despite being the #1 seed in the AFC at this point, wasted little time in dismissing Hunt, who has been placed on the league's exempt list, meaning he can't play or practice even if he signs with a new team.

A few days earlier, San Francisco cut their first round pick in '17, Reuben Foster, after an alleged incident in a Tampa hotel. Two days later, the Washington Trumpets took a chance on Foster, but he, too, is on the exempt list.

Has the NFL learned nothing from the Ray Rice debacle a few years back? Apparently, no, not yet.
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Perhaps, then, it is karma that visited the Trumpets in Philadelphia on Monday in a loss to the Eagles.

Colt McCoy, thrust into the starting role at quarterback after Alex Smith went down for the season with a broken leg, suffered the same injury, but was able to play two more downs before calling it a night and a season. Mark Sanchez, whose resume includes the Eagles, Jets, Bears, & Cowboys, was signed as McCoy's backup, and now he's the starter for the rest of the year. Butt Fumble II, anyone?
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The College Football Playoff is now set, but, as usual, the committee didn't exactly endear itself to the masses.

SEC champ Alabama has been the #1 seed from wire to wire, and despite claims of 'Bama Fatigue from fans tired of seeing Nick Saban's Crimson Tide in the playoff every year, nothing's going to change unless the NCAA finally does away with the early season scheduling of non-league tomato cans for Power 5 conference teams such as Alabama. They talk about "strength of schedule", but all that really is is an excuse to justify the same old, same old, leaving mid-major champs like Central Florida out in the cold.

With the SEC comprised of two divisions, you don't need to have non-league games. You've got enough teams to start conference play from the jump. Same goes for the Big 10, although its champion, Ohio State, got the el snubbino from the committee of idiots. The Buckeyes will play in the Rose Bowl on January 1, which will be coach Urban Meyer's final game with the team, as reports have surfaced that he will step down after the season, due mostly to health issues more than the scandals involving assistants.

Alabama-Oklahoma would be worth watching, if but to see all the front-runners on the Bamawagon plotz when the Tide can't blow away the Sooners. As it is, Alabama came from behind for a change to win the SEC title over Georgia on Saturday. I wouldn't mind ESPN getting the biggest Sooner fan in the country, Jim Ross, on the College GameDay panel. It's not as if they've had enough WWE talents, past or present, on their Saturday show. The Hall of Famer could easily take fellow geriatric Lee Corso to school.

Clemson-Notre Dame will be interesting simply because I can't see the Tigers running away and hiding from the Irish.
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A quick reminder that we have a new home for high school, college, & pro sports from the home district. Check out Tri-City SportsBeat. You'll be glad you did.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Countdown to Christmas: Must Be Santa (2009)

Bob Dylan doing polka music?? Whaaaaaaaaa?

The folk legend recorded his first Christmas album, "Christmas From The Heart", in 2009. Included is a cover of "Must Be Santa", which was first recorded by Mitch Miller in 1960.



Dylan was originally born into the Jewish faith, but not as a Hasidic, else his wig would've had braids.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Ken Berry (1933-2018)

Another piece of our childhood is gone.

Ken Berry, the energetic song & dance man who turned pratfalls into high art as Captain Wilton Parmenter on F-Troop, passed away Saturday at 85.

Berry served in the Army with another future 60's icon, Leonard Nimoy, who ultimately recommended Berry to various Hollywood studios. Berry's first series gig was a recurring comedy relief role on Dr. Kildare, which he left when cast for F-Troop in 1965.

A year after F-Troop ended, Berry returned to series television in the Andy Griffith Show spin-off, Mayberry, RFD, which outlasted Troop, going three seasons to Troop's 2. During this time, Berry also made frequent appearances on The Carol Burnett Show, which led to his being cast in the belated spin-off from that series, Mama's Family. Berry also used his talents as a singer & dancer, as memory serves, to serve as a pitchman for Kinney Shoes during the 70's. Along the way, Berry also headlined his own series, the short-lived Ken Berry Wow Show, in 1972, for ABC, which, as a sort-of make good, took a chance with him two years later with a back-door pilot on The Brady Bunch, but the proposed Kelly's Kids never got off the ground beyond said pilot.

Berry's passing leaves Larry Storch (Agarn) & James Hampton (Dobbs) as the only surviving cast members from F-Troop. In memory of Berry, we present a season 2 episode of F-Troop, "Is This Fort Really Necessary?":



At least now Captain Parmenter now joins his beloved Wrangler Jane (Melody Patterson) in heaven.

Rest in peace, Ken.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Classic TV: Dr. Kildare (1961)

MGM had a film franchise that had also conquered radio in the Golden Age. Thus, it made sense that they would return to said franchise, Dr, Kildare, and bring it to television.

Richard Chamberlain became a huge star as the result of playing Dr. James Kildare, as the series follows Kildare's career at Blair General Hospital. Film veteran Raymond Massey played Dr. Gillespie, Kildare's mentor. The series lasted five seasons on NBC (1961-6), and should've gone further, except for one thing. Someone at NBC, seeing how ABC had successfully adapted Peyton Place into a twice-weekly, half-hour soap opera, decided that Kildare would be split into two half-hour installments in season 5, hoping to siphon off Peyton's audience. All that did was ensure Kildare's cancellation.

Like many popular shows of the day, Dr. Kildare was adapted into comic books by Dell Publishing, and Chamberlain scored a #1 hit with "Three Stars Will Shine Tonight", which put new lyrics to Jerry Goldsmith's theme from the show.

Six years after the series ended, MGM decided to go back to the wellspring with Young Dr. Kildare in syndication. It lasted one season.

Dailymotion provides the opener, "Twenty-Four Hours":



Keep an eye out, in case Decades or Me-TV acquires the show.

Rating: A.

Friday, November 30, 2018

High School Fridays: Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake @ Troy (women's basketball), 11/30/18

The best kept secret in Section II basketball this off-season was at Troy High. Most of us didn't know about it until tonight.

Troy athletic director Paul Reinisch quietly overhauled the women's basketball coaching staff. Paul Bearup, after 13 seasons, decided to concentrate on his day-to-day duties as a physical education teacher. Ryan Meikel was named head coach, with Sarah Fullmer the only assistant. I think I can figure out what happened here. After a 6-15 campaign last season, Reinisch reasoned that the girls were hearing too many voices, which led to the team lacking cohesion and/or direction. The idea here is that with just two coaches instead of three or four, a system both the boys & girls teams have had (and the boys still do), it will make things a little easier for a women's team that still lacks senior leadership. They have just two seniors on this season's 11 player roster.

It helps the new coaching staff that they got what amounted to a gimme right away.

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake has been a second division club since the Suburban Council was split into two divisions three years ago. Headed into tonight's league opener, the Lady Spartans hadn't beaten Troy in three tries. Coach Colleen Froschauer has a talented roster, but she, too, also lacks seniors, with just one----Erin Pahl---on her roster, countered with two freshmen and an 8th grader.

Troy took the lead early, and never gave it up. Sophomore forward Jenalyse Alarcon, one of Troy's leading scorers last season, led all scorers with 18 points before fouling out in the 4th quarter. Alaina Holmes added 11, and survived a minor injury scare in the 3rd quarter when she tweaked either her knee or her ankle. Kelly Anderson led Burnt Hills with 11, and Troy rolled to a 60-36 victory.

However, the road doesn't get easier for Troy. While there's one fewer team in the division after Mohonasen departed for the Colonial Council, Troy has three home & home series on the docket this season, as they'll visit Burnt Hills for the rematch on January 29 after mid-term week. The other home & homes are with, as usual, Albany (starting Tuesday) & Schenectady. In the long term, however, it would make more sense, due to geography, to have that 3rd home & home series be with Averill Park or Columbia, both close territorial rivals.

After visiting Albany Tuesday afternoon, the Lady Horses return home next Friday to play Ballston Spa, then get a week off before traveling to Guilderland. The boys, under 2nd year head coach Greg Davis, begin their season Tuesday at home vs. Albany.

Musical Interlude: Sometimes When We Touch (1981)

Marie Osmond's solo variety series was a victim of poor scheduling and bad timing.

When NBC picked up the show as a mid-season replacement in December 1980, they placed it on Fridays, thinking Marie's fans would gravitate over, even though The Osmond Family Show (formerly Donny & Marie) finished its ABC run on Sundays, another graveyard for variety shows in the post-Ed Sullivan era. It didn't happen, and the show was placed on hiatus, not returning until the summer of '81.

The series finale aired on September 19, 1981. Grant Goodeve (Eight is Enough) joins Marie to do a cover of Dan Hill's pop-country crossover hit, "Sometimes When We Touch":



Grant had also appeared on The Osmond Family Show, and, barring any musical numbers on Eight is Enough, that would've been his singing debut on TV.

Having not learned their lesson, NBC tried again with another ABC franchise in '81, with the Brady Bunch follow-up, The Brady Brides.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

What Might've Been: The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters (1963)

In 1963, MGM acquired the rights to Robert Lewis Taylor's youth-centric Western novel, The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters, and adapted it into a weekly series for ABC. This was the show that put a young future movie icon on the map.

That would be a then-12 year old Kurt Russell, years before a string of Disney movies led to "Escape From New York", among other films. Russell had 2nd billing in the title role behind Dan O'Herlihy, who played Jaimie's father. Another future icon, Charles Bronson, already a television veteran, joined the show about halfway through the season.

So where did ABC go wrong? Travels was slotted opposite The Wonderful World of Disney on NBC and the combination of My Favorite Martian and the first half of The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS. Game over.

A feature film reboot of the series finale was released about a year or so after the series ended with Russell & Bronson joined by Russ Conway, replacing O'Herlihy.

The four eldest of the Osmond Brothers (Alan, Merrill, Jay, & Wayne) appeared as the Kissel brothers, and sang the closing theme, "In Old California". Unfortunately, complete episodes are not available online, so we'll settle for the instrumental intro:



I was but an infant when this came out, and I never watched the show, so no rating.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Countdown to Christmas: Father Christmas (1977)

The Kinks gravitated from pop to hard rock, closer to a punk style, some say, in the late 70's, before moving back to the softer sounds of yore on 1983's "Come Dancing".

From 1977, here's "Father Christmas", not to be confused with Emerson, Lake, & Palmer's "(I Believe in) Father Christmas", for obvious reasons.

Sports this 'n' that

For the 2nd straight season, ESPN is seeing a member of their football broadcast team leave for a coaching job that he once held.

This time, college football studio analyst Mack Brown is leaving to begin his second stint at North Carolina, taking effect next season, hoping to reverse the Tar Heels' recent misfortunes on the gridiron. However, if Jon Gruden's struggles in his 2nd tour of duty in Oakland are any indicator, Brown will have a long road ahead of him in tobacco country.
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A correction on recent notes on Troy High.

The boys' basketball team's game at Bethlehem last night was actually a scrimmage, but was not designated as such per Schedule Galaxy, which needs to specify such things going forward. Greg Davis' club begins their season, as per usual, in the first week of December. The women, meanwhile, open at home on Friday vs. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake.
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This is how bad things are at Bishop Maginn these days.

Once a power in the now-defunct Big 10, Maginn now plays in the Western Athletic Conference. Enrollment is down, thanks largely to the emergence of charter schools such as Green Tech. The performance on the court, as a result, is a far, far cry from those glory days, which weren't that long ago.

After their boys' team was blown off the court at Lansingburgh twice over the weekend, the Maginn women came to North Troy Tuesday, and were similarly dismantled by Lansingburgh, 40-19. Not a good start to the season for the Griffins, who will begin league play next week.
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While the Capital District High School Hockey League welcomed back Albany Academy this season, other schools are in the mix as well, but joining forces with pre-established teams.

For example, after changing their name from Tri-Falls to Adirondack last year, the conglomerate of Hudson Falls, Glens Falls, & South Glens Falls has added Warrensburg. Niskayuna-Schenectady is now Niskayuna-Schenectady-Albany after adding a handful of players from Albany High. An article in the Daily Gazette reports that the Mohawks have had fewer players from the Electric City in the last year or two due to declining interest.

"Guilderville" (Guilderland-Mohonasen-Scotia-Glenville) has added players from Schalmont & Voorheesville to their roster. The Shaker-Colonie Jets are now the Capital District Jets after welcoming players from Averill Park, Tamarac, & Columbia, the latter of whom has not fielded a team since the 80's, when their program merged with Troy's, for all the good that did. There just aren't enough kids in each of the individual schools to field separate teams, which otherwise would expand the league into two divisions within itself. Queensbury is in division 2, and thus doesn't play in the Section II tournament.
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Now's a good time to announce that starting next month, we're launching a new blog devoted to local sports. Watch for it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Countdown to Christmas: The Christmas Song (1957-61)

Nat "King" Cole, I think, though I cannot be sure, recorded Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song" with a jazz trio in 1946, then reissued it as a solo track 15 years later, and it is the solo version that everyone remembers.

This clip, though, appears to be from Cole's ill-fated variety show from the late 50's. I may be wrong (again), but this sounds like a mashup of the video clip, and the later recording.

Judge for yourselves.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Tough guys shill for Canada Dry (1977)

Canada Dry came up with a clever ad campaign in 1977, running a series of ads that mixed and matched various stars singing the praises of the soft drink.

Virtually every one of these spots features Broderick Crawford reprising his Highway Patrol character of Dan Matthews. Here, he's bookended by Aldo Ray (last heard from dabbling in cartoons) and Jack Palance.



There are other spots with Bruce Gordon, reprising as Frank Nitti from The Untouchables, a sought after bit that isn't available presently, and one with Ruth Buzzi as Gladys from Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. That same fall, Gladys would become a cartoon character in NBC's The Nitwits, a belated spin-off from Laugh-In.

Sports this 'n' that

Congratulations to the Glens Falls Indians on winning their 2nd Class B state title in 3 years after beating Batavia, 55-32, on Saturday at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. It was QB Joe Girard III's final football game, as he'll be playing basketball at the same venue beginning next season. In fact, Orange basketball coach Jim Boeheim and assistant Gerry McNamara were in attendance at the game, a perfect transition, if you will for Girard as he finishes his gridiron career.
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In a week of high scoring football games at the college level, an SEC game between LSU & Texas A & M turned into a basketball game if the final score is any indicator. The Aggies beat the Tigers, 74-72, on Saturday night, another case where defense had the night off.

Meanwhile, long time Big 10 rivals Ohio State & Michigan had their annual end-of-season game in Columbus, with the Buckeyes, a home underdog, spoiling Michigan's chances of sneaking into the College Football Playoff with a 62-39 win. Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh might want to talk to his brother, John, coach of the Baltimore Ravens, about figuring a way to beat Ohio State......
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Speaking of Baltimore, the future seems to be now. Rookie Lamar Jackson, out of Louisville, is 2-0 as a starter for the Ravens, who are chasing Pittsburgh for the AFC North title. It appears that Joe Flacco is being phased out in his 11th season out of Delaware.

The front-running Steelers, however, took one on the chin Sunday, dropping a 24-17 decision to Denver, which has been dealing with hard luck this season, chasing Kansas City and the LA Chargers in the AFC West. Five weeks remain, and plenty of time for more maneuvering.....
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Kingston won the Lansingburgh Holiday Basketball tournament on Saturday, beating the hosts, 71-53. The Knights fall to 1-1 as they will begin Colonial Council play this weekend. In the consolation game, Shaker beat Bishop Maginn, 73-46. It wasn't a packed house in North Troy, but that can be blamed on a lack of newspaper coverage.
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Speaking of which, El Cheapo Media has fumbled their high school sports listing for this week. LaSalle's hockey team begins their regular season schedule with the annual trip to Plattsburgh on Friday, but what does El Cheapo do? They have Friday's game backwards, reporting that LaSalle is home. Wrong-o, hedge fund breath! The Cadets play two games in the Plattsburgh area to start the season every year. They have a matinee at Beekmantown on Saturday before returning to the Capital Region. I guess El Cheapo laid off their proofreaders in the sports department.......
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RPI has advanced to the NCAA Division 3 football quarterfinals after upsetting Brockport, 21-13, on Saturday. Next stop is in the Baltimore suburbs against Johns Hopkins, better known as a lacrosse power, on Saturday. The only way anyone will know how the Engineers fare will be by listening to the game on the school's radio station. It would be an achievement if RPI brought home its first national title in any sport since the 1984-5 hockey team, but we'll see........
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Union College, speaking of hockey, won the Friendship Four tournament in Ireland over the weekend. This week, the University at Albany's men's basketball team visits the Emerald Isle for a tournament. Can lightning strike twice?
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Most observers are writing off, or have written off, Green Bay, and that was before they lost to Minnesota on Sunday night. Too many State Farm commercials, getting dumber by the year, have reduced Aaron Rodgers to not-quite-has-been status. They're saying the same thing about Eli Manning with the Giants, and Big Blue is 3-8 after getting swept by Philadelphia on Sunday. The Jests are playing out the string after dropping to 3-8 as well in a loss to New England. Patriots over Jets is met with a yawn at this desk, since the most selfish QB in the league, Tom Brady, doesn't believe in diversifying his offense. I get he's a gamer, but as Kenny Rogers sang 40 years ago, you've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, etc., and pad the stats on something else once in a while.......