Friday, June 29, 2018

Musical Interlude: East Bound & Down (1977)

From Hee Haw:

Jerry Reed opts for casual lip-sync, seated in a rocking chair, one shoe on, one shoe off (?) to perform his hit, "East Bound & Down", from "Smokey & The Bandit".

One move too many sinks the ship (Renegades 4, Valleycats 3, 6/29/18)

When the Hudson Valley Renegades arrived in town Thursday night for their series with the Tri-City Valleycats, it was a battle of two first place teams. So far, the Tampa Bay Rays' affiliate has demonstrated why they have the best record in the NY-Penn League.

However, it was Tri-City that drew first blood in the home first. Enmanuel Valdez, with one out, laced a double, then came around to score on a single by Gilberto Celestino. Valleycats starter Cody Deason, making his first appearance, went just two innings, likely due to pitch count, but gave up just one hit in those two frames. Bryan Abreu came on in the third, but was undone by sloppy defense in the fourth. Tyler Frank led off the visiting half of the inning with a single, stole second, then advanced to third on an error by Oscar Campos. Ramiro Rodriguez tried to throw out Frank at third, but the ball sailed into the bleachers, and Hudson Valley tied the game at 1-1.

In the sixth, Chris Betts, no relation to Boston star Mookie Betts, not by any stretch, homered into the Renegades' bullpen. Unfortunately, Hudson Valley lifted starter Michael Mercado after five innings, holding the 'Cats to one run on four hits and two strikeouts. The Renegades' bullpen promptly coughed up the lead and took Abreu off the hook. Jeremy Pena reached on an error by third baseman Adrian Rondon, and Valdez cashed in with his second double of the game. A single by Austin Dennis plated Valdez to give Tri-City their first lead of the night at 3-2.

Austin Hansen gave up just two hits in his two innings of relief behind Abreu, but manager Jason Bell made a tactical error in lifting Hansen, and going back to the bullpen in the ninth. One hit, an error, and three walks added up to two runs for Hudson Valley, and the Renegades defeated the Valleycats for the second straight night, 4-3.

There's just no way to put a happy face on this loss, and Bell will be second and third guessed through the weekend on sports talk radio in this market. With the loss, one assumes Tri-City loses possession of first place in the Stedler Division back to the Vermont Lake Monsters, with whom they were tied at the beginning of play tonight.

Strangely, the park wasn't packed on a sweltering Friday night, even though the temperature cooled as the night progressed. Folks are likely saving their money for "Star Wars" Night tomorrow night.

Sports this 'n' that

Tonight, the Albany Empire are in a position where they can run the table and win the Arena Football League's regular season title. All they need do is beat Washington for the fourth time this season, this time on the road, setting up a showdown with first-place Philadelphia (The Soul & The Empire are owned by the same ownership group) at Times Union Center July 7. Luckily, the Empire do have a radio deal to go along with most of their games being broadcast on CBS Sports Network, so fans won't miss much, although with the Empire on the road, sports junkies will be gravitating to Bruno Stadium.......
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The Tri-City Valleycats' hold on 1st place in the Stedler Division of the NY-Penn League is tenuous at best after losing to Hudson Valley, 3-1, on Thursday. The Renegades have the best record in the league at 10-2. The 'Cats, however, played without pitcher Chad Donato (3-0, 0.00 ERA) and Houston's 1st round draft pick, Seth Beer, who were promoted to Davenport, Iowa, earlier Thursday. so a period of transition has already begun. Expect more 'Cats to move up the ladder, as is an annual tradition, before the end of the season.
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Mets GM Sandy Alderson has taken a leave of absence from the team to address some health issues. Former GM Omar Minaya will aid assistant GM's John Ricco & J. P. Riccardi in running the team, but it seems ownership is resigned to the prospect that Alderson will not return this season or beyond. The Mets could certainly use some stability at the top, though disgruntled fans are begging the Wilpon family to sell the team. Good luck with that.

One thing I don't like hearing are rumors of top players such as pitchers Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, & Jeurys Familia on the trading block. Sure, Familia has struggled this season, such that 1st year manager Mickey Calloway moved him out of the closer's role, opting, apparently, for closer by committee, and Familia was tagged with the loss after failing to record an out Wednesday vs. Pittsburgh, but that speaks more to Calloway and pitching coach Dave (Long) Eiland's general unfamiliarity with the Mets' pitching staff, making unnecessary tweaks where they don't belong. If this keeps up, Calloway will likely be leaving for the nearest golf course come October, one & done.
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Congratulations to the Oregon State Beavers of the Pac-12 Conference, this year's College World Series champions. The Beavers, down 1-0 in games vs. Arkansas (SEC), came back to win the next two games, wrapping up the title on Thursday night.

The NCAA & ESPN did the smart thing by scheduling each game for a 7 pm (ET) start, something Major League Baseball should consider for the World Series. A 7:30 start is fine, as long as the pre-game is kept to a bare minimum, like, 10 minutes. Otherwise, the glacial pace of post-season games at the MLB level will keep the kiddo's away, forcing parents to DVR the games......
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Happened to see in the transactions section of the sports page that former Met Gonzalez German, who had a cup of coffee in Flushing a few years back, has resurfaced with the Long Island Ducks, an independent team. If this doesn't work, his career's definitely over, although some players do use the indies as a way station toward getting back to The Show.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Musical Interlude: Big Yellow Taxi (2002)

Counting Crows just missed the Top 40, insofar as the Hot 100 was concerned, in 2002 with a remake of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi". Some of the lyrics were understandably altered, but anyone that bought the single, thinking this was a straight-up duet between frontman Adam Duritz and Vanessa Carlton was dissed. Carlton only helps with the chorus and some harmony vocals at the end.



Bait & switch, anyone? Turned out to be the Crows' last big hit, save for "Accidentally in Love" from one of the "Shrek" movies.

Forgotten TV: The Best of Times (1981)

ABC must not like George Schlatter much.

The man who gave us Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In & Real People, two bonafide hits, for NBC, struck out in 2 attempts with ABC. Turn-On was one-&-done in 1969. 12 years later, ABC decided they wanted to work with Schlatter again, this time developing a teen-oriented comedy-variety show that they thought might complement, say, for example, Happy Days

I have to believe Schlatter came up with The Best of Times as a title from reading Dickens' Great Expectations, and not from listening to Styx's "Paradise Theatre" album, which was pretty hot back then. Of course, there was that movie with Kurt Russell and Robin Williams, too, but that's beside the point.

Crispin Glover is our genial "host", if ya will, but he'd have been better served fronting a remake of Dobie Gillis. Crispin's bedroom, as we see, reminds me of mine back in the day, except that mine was a little more organized and free of pets.

The supporting cast includes Nicolas Coppola (Cage) and Julie Piekarski (The Facts of Life), with Jackie Mason getting "special guest star" billing.



If you didn't see it, and most online sites snarkily suggest you do, you actually might be lucky. Glover actually sounds like he could've been a new generation Dobie. Looking at this for the first time, it seems that Schlatter's idea was somewhere between Dobie Gillis and one of James Komack's failed Archie pilots from a few years earlier. With Glover having achieved cult favorite status since then, this might be of interest to his most devoted fans.

Rating: C-.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Junior Basketball Association: A coast-to-coast scam

While the NBA held its annual draft last week, delusional huckster LaVar Ball launched his Junior Basketball Association, but no one could watch it on television. Why? The games are scheduled to air only on Facebook Watch.

It only gets worse. La Loudmouth is overcharging for tickets, which range from $40-99. Big Baller Brand controls all the teams, which all have been labeled the Ballers, regardless of what city they're playing for. Big Baller also controls each player's social media, and, according to one online analyst, the JBA is a glorified agent collective. In other words, the kids that signed for this league signed away any hope of playing college ball. Allow this video to illustrate:



LaVar Ball created the JBA as another revenue stream to fatten his own wallet. Reports say some kids are getting paid, but the league is supposed to be an alternative to the NCAA. Not from what I'm reading, it isn't. The first games were played in near-empty arenas. In other words, the attendance was worse than the average Albany Patroons game this year. Shoot, the Patroons charged $12 per ticket minimum for games. Three of those wouldn't exactly equal one JBA ticket, but you get the idea.

In short, in earning another set of Weasel ears, LaVar Ball is sacrificing innocent kids' dreams of NBA careers, while showcasing youngest son LaMelo, in another desperate attempt to extend his 15 minutes of infamy. As noted the other day, no NBA team drafted LiAngelo Ball, and I doubt he'll ever play in the NBA. Ditto for LaMelo, and they have their father to blame. His greed and obsession with realizing the money he never made as a player will lead to some lawsuits from angry parents, once they realized their kids were scammed.

Of course, if that happens, expect to hear about a prison basketball league in about 3-4 years.......

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Classic TV: The George Michael Sports Machine (1984)

He would never be confused with the British singer who shared his name, but George Michael was a regional sports icon whose Sunday night program went national in 1986 after being tested in select markets where NBC owned their affiliates.

In all, The George Michael Sports Machine, which began as The George Michael Sports Final as a local program in the early 80's, ran for nearly three full decades, ending when Michael retired in 2007, having spent the final three years with Lindsay Czarniak, later of TNT & ESPN, as his co-anchor.

Michael treated every subject with respect and realism, and that included wrestling. Take for example this 1987 show, which took place around Wrestlemania 3.



Locally, the program can be considered a forerunner to the NBC affiliate's current Sunday night, locally produced sports program, which is an off-shoot of their 11 pm (ET) newscast, and likely the same holds true in other parts of the country. Michael passed away in 2009, two years after the series ended.

Rating: A.

Politics shouldn't be on a restaurant menu

On Friday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a Red Hen restaurant in Virginia. She'd barely been there with her party a few minutes when the chef put in a call to the restaurant owner, Stephanie Wilkinson, who requested that Mrs. Sanders leave the premises.

SAY WHAT?

This is a product of President Donald Trump's America in 2018. Reverse discrimination, if you will. Ms. Wilkinson is opposed to President Trump's policies, and, unfortunately, any of his aides are going to be treated as collateral damage if they dine at eateries whose owners oppose Trump's Ugly American policies, such as his evolving, hate-filled stance on immigration. Two other Trump aides were asked to leave separate Mexican restaurants in the Washington area, a direct push back against Trump's mean-spirited, ill-conceived immigration policy.

The President is catering to a base of closeted bigots, a bunch of Archie Bunker wanna-bes who don't see both sides of the picture. The New York Daily News photoshopped the faces of Trump and three of his offspring on a file still from All in The Family, with Trump's face on the body of Archie Bunker himself (Carroll O'Connor), the other day.

Sarah Sanders' only crime in Lexington on Friday night was guilt by association. Her father, Arkansas governor-turned-TBN talk show host Mike Huckabee, defended his daughter, as a father should in this case.

A true Christian would be looking for and working on a more reasonable, peaceable solution to the immigration issue. Donald Trump professes to be a Christian, and has been a frequent guest on Mike Huckabee's TBN show. However, the perception given to the American public is anything but Christian. That has to change, and quickly, if his supporters want to see him re-elected in 2 years.

Do I agree with his approach to immigration? Of course not. We do not want the President to be perceived as a soulless, heartless bully, especially one whose ego demands he take credit for things he didn't have a direct involvement in.

There's only three words I have to say to the President right now. GET IT RIGHT!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Musical Interlude: For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Fresh off her #1 hit, "Morning Train (9 to 5)", Sheena Easton burned up the radio airwaves in the summer of 1981 with the title song from "For Your Eyes Only".



The James Bond adventure, with Roger Moore as Bond, was released around the same time as the single and a comic book adaptation published by Marvel. Unlike "Morning Train", Easton peaked at #4 on the Hot 100 with "For Your Eyes Only".

Sports this 'n' that

It was "bullpen day" for the Mets on Sunday, as rookie manager Mickey Calloway took a page from the Tampa Bay Rays' playbook for the finale of a weekend series vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers. Scheduled starter Jason Vargas was placed on the DL on Saturday with calf issues, though with his shaky performance so far this season, I'd say the calf may be the least of his worries.

Anyway, the strategy didn't work. At all. Ex-Valleycat Enrique "Kike" Hernandez and reigning NL Rookie of the Year each mashed two home runs, the Dodgers hit 7 in all, but they needed extra innings to complete the sweep, 8-7. Kevin Plawecki forced the extra frames with a three run blast, but ex-Met Justin Turner stuck the knife in the Mets' collective backs with a game winning shot off Chris Flexen in the top of the 11th.

Injuries have knocked the wheels off the bus for the Mets since an 11-1 start, and now, they're closer to last place Miami than they are to the top of the division. Yuck.
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Speaking of the Valleycats, after getting blown out, 11-4, by Lowell on Friday night, Tri-City came back to win the rubber game of their series with the Spinners on Saturday, then moved into first place in the Stedler Division of the New York-Penn League with a 5-2 verdict over Staten Island. The 'Cats come home Thursday to play Hudson Valley.

Meanwhile, the Albany Dutchmen will be back on the field on Tuesday after an off-day today. They'll have actually had three days off, since weekend games vs. Amsterdam and at Oneonta were postponed by rain. The Dutchmen sit atop the East Division of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, but, like the 'Cats, their hold on first is tenuous at best at this point.
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To the surprise of absolutely no one, LiAngelo Ball, brother of Lonzo, and La Loudmouth's middle child, was not drafted by any NBA team last week. All the pundits said before the draft that LiAngelo wouldn't be drafted. The Los Angeles Lakers have made it clear that LiAngelo will not play on their summer league team. The best hope for the Lakers, and the rest of the league, for that matter, is for someone to convince La Loudmouth to seek psychiatric help, since he's still living under the delusion that all three of his kids will play for the Lakers. Not only that, but he thinks the Lakers would be making a mistake if they trade Lonzo away.

Here's the problem. La Loudmouth isn't an executive with the Lakers, just a stage parent living vicariously through his sons to realize the money he didn't make as a player, and to further that end, he makes sure he is heard from on a weekly basis, practically.

Contrast that with newly drafted Kevin Huerter, who will be in line for a roster spot at the least with Atlanta. Kevin's father, Tom, Sr., is still a radio broadcaster at last check with his alma mater, Siena College, and isn't making outrageous statements about his boys just because he never played professionally. The Huerters are going about things the right way. La Loudmouth is a profiteering hustler extending his 15 minutes every chance he gets, even though his act has already gotten past stale and moldy.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

YouTube Theatre: Cop of The Year (McMillan & Wife, 1972)

This second season episode of McMillan & Wife puts the focus squarely on Det.-Sgt. Charles Enright (John Schuck), who, after receiving an award for "Cop of The Year", is framed for the murder of his ex-wife.

John Astin, who directed a first season episode, moves back in front of the camera as a forensic scientist, in a rare dramatic turn. Charles Nelson Reilly (ex-Ghost & Mrs. Muir, Lidsville) appears briefly, as does ventriloquist-actor-scientist Paul Winchell. Kenneth Mars, a favorite of creator-executive producer Leonard Stern from his He & She days, makes his 2nd appearance in the series. Edmond O'Brien & Michael Ansara also guest.



Rating: A.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Musical Interlude: Silly Love Songs (1976)

Paul McCartney and Wings topped the pop charts in 1976 with the bouncy, disco-tinged "Silly Love Songs", off the "Wings at The Speed of Sound" album.



McCartney would re-record "Silly" as a solo track nearly a decade later for his film, "Give My Regards to Broad Street".

Friday, June 22, 2018

Sports this 'n' that

Shenendehowa graduate Kevin Huerter knew he was taking a risk by declaring for the NBA draft after his sophomore season at Maryland. Thursday night, Huerter became the first Section 2 graduate since Jimmer Fredette to be drafted, as he went to Atlanta in the first round. Given that so few players from this region have made it into the NBA, period, one wonders if the Hawks will actually give Huerter a chance to start, something his father, Tom, Sr., never had coming out of Siena years ago. As Rodger Wyland wrote in today's Albany Times-Union, the Hawks are not expected to be a contender next season, but ya just never know........
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Speaking of the Times-Union, their coverage of the Tri-City Valleycats consists of a mix of game coverage and puff pieces about selected players on a day-to-day basis. I am guessing that this practice, which has been in place for a few years now, is to save space for national items in the sports section, but that's just me. The 'Cats are 4-3 after a week's play, and will continue their series with Lowell tonight. Tomorrow? With rain in the forecast, I wouldn't count on it.......
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Troy High's 2-time state football champions have been recognized by the city in a few different ways. The latest of which was to have signs posted in downtown on Thursday, in much the same way other teams from other schools have gotten similar recognition in recent years. With the seniors from the 2017 team graduating on Sunday, El Cheapo Media finally got to talk to outgoing senior Matt Ashley, who will stay in the hometown, playing his college ball at RPI.

Mayor Patrick Madden gave the school some lip service, perhaps unaware of the ongoing press embargo between the school and El Cheapo Media. If Madden doesn't run again, he could take on a second job as a celebrity lookalike. Like, he could take some heat off Dr. Phil, don't you think?
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WWE Chairman/CEO Vince McMahon has gotten raked over the coals by critics over the years, including ye scribe, for a number of things, including his fetish for big men. Now, it seems he also has more of an interest in making sure his women's champions are blondes. It's an image thing, you see, with the belief that these young, attractive women are more marketable to Madison Avenue than someone on the order of, say for example, Japan's Asuka, who was made to look like a fool twice in three nights earlier this week.

Most of us expected Asuka to defeat Carmella (real name: Leah VanDale) for the Smackdown women's title. However, indie star James Ellsworth was recalled, and got involved in the match, helping his on-again, off-again storyline lover retain the title.

The fact that Carmella resorted to cheating shouldn't really be a surprise, considering that VanDale was a New England Patriots cheerleader about a decade ago before swapping her pom poms for leotards & tights. It's the culture that comes with the "Patriot Way", or so it'd seem.

Meanwhile, the experiment with Nia Jax, a cousin to current star Roman Reigns (Joe Anoia) and former champion turned movie star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, as Raw women's champ, ended with Alexa Bliss (Lexi Kaufman) regaining the title after winning the women's Money in The Bank briefcase on Sunday. Bliss is another one who's been overprotected by WWE Uncreative, as during her last title run, she didn't defend the title on free TV. Commentators on a couple of message boards I frequent weren't digging, believing that Bliss has gone stale.

The truth is, WWE blew a golden opportunity with Jax & Reigns back at Wrestlemania in April. Were it not for another obsession of McMahon's, Reigns could've beaten Brock Lesnar for the Universal title. However, with McMahon bent on removing CM Punk (Philip Brooks) from the WWE record books, Lesnar was allowed to keep the title. That should change, as rumors persist that Lesnar could leave following Summerslam. Were it not for McMahon, Jax & Reigns could've had the stage to themselves, much in the same way the late Chris Benoit & Eddie Guerrero did in 2004, and current movie stars John Cena & Dave Bautista did the following year.
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We close on a sad note. As reported over at Saturday Morning Archives earlier this week, former WCW & IWGP champion Big Van Vader (Leon White) passed away on Monday at 63. While he wasn't treated with any semblance of respect in WWE during his brief time there (1996-8), it's a shock that White isn't already in the Hall of Fame. That should change, perhaps as early as next year. We'll leave you with one of Big Van Vader's early appearances in WCW, from December 1990.



While with WWE, Vader became a supporting character on ABC's Boy Meets World. White portrayed Francis Albert Leslie Stecchino, Sr., father of Frankie, one of the school bullies (Ethan Suplee), and appeared in at least 3 episodes.  Rest in peace, Leon.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

What defines President Trump's immigration laws? Lies and shame

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to put an end to families being separated by immigration officials when undocumented immigrants are set to be deported to their native lands. There's been so much outcry over children being separated from their parents, so much so that Trump was forced to reverse field on his faux tough guy stance on immigration.

See, here's the thing. If a Mexican citizen wants to relocate to the US, instead of trying to cross the borders without proper documentation, he/she needs to go to the nearest US Embassy, and request asylum in the US. Too many immigrants choose to take the shorter route, crossing the borders illegally, seeking a new life, unaware that there is a safer way on their own turf, if you will. We do have an ambassador to Mexico, you know.

With so many undocumented immigrants working and living over here, establishing residency with green cards for so long, emigrating from Mexico, Honduras, Puerto Rico, etc., it is no wonder that federal immigration officials are being villified for trying to do their jobs, especially when they don't have all the facts before them.

Trump has openly lied about Germany's immigration system, claiming crime has risen, when it's actually the reverse. Germany's crime rate is lower than that of the US. No wonder German chancellor Angela Merkel appeared to have issues with Trump a couple of weeks back. When you are dealing with a President whose best friend is the nearest camera, well......!

Naturally, Trump's lies about just about everything make him fodder for late night talk shows. NBC's Seth Meyers, for example, mixes comedy with hard news in his A Closer Look feature on Late Night. A Closer Look, in truth, is simply a variation on Saturday Night Live's long running Weekend Update segment, which Meyers anchored at one time. Earlier this week, Meyers skewered the President as well as this week's Weasel of the Week, Corey Lewandowski.......



Lewandowski tried backpedaling on his remarks about a 10 year old girl with Down's Syndrome, claiming his remarks were directed at the Democrats.

BOLLOCKS & BALDERDASH! Just like Trump, Lewandowski refused to cop to the truth, disrespecting a young girl because of her condition. Please. Open mouth, insert both feet, Mr. Lewandowski, and enjoy the Weasel ears.

Back to the undocumented immigrants. The simple solution works like this:

1. If you know how to find the US Embassy in your home country, go there, and ask for asylum. They'll take care of the paperwork for you and/or your family if you're not happy with your present situation.

2. Once in the US, apply for citizenship, again with help from the proper authorities. Ellis Island, home of the Statue of Liberty, would be a good place to start.

Alas, too many people sneak across the border because they don't have the patience or time to find the embassy to address the problems they're having at home. While Trump plays Ugly American to stir up his fan base of Archie Bunker wannabes, he also demonstrates over and over again how ignorant he is of our own rules and regulations. You've heard the phrase, the blind leading the blind? It's never more true than now.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

On The Air: Celebrity Undercover Boss (2018)

Eight years ago, CBS introduced Undercover Boss, in which employers posed as prospective employees to observe the day-to-day operations of their own businesses. This year, the seasonal hit has spawned a celebrity edition, which bowed last month.

Celebrity Undercover Boss is filling MacGyver's space on Fridays for a few weeks. So far, former NFL star Deion Sanders and singer-songwriter Jewel have been featured. On June 15, WWE heiress Stephanie McMahon took her turn.

Adopting the identity of internet journalist Samantha Miles, Stephanie interviews the family of a pediatric cancer patient, a photographer who lost a leg in the military, and an aspiring wrestler whose goal was to become the first openly gay WWE champion. The episode was recorded late last year, while Jeff Hardy, now the US champion, was on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Hardy, Big Show, and the since released Big Cass appear briefly prior to the final reveal.

The episode is currently available On Demand (check with your cable service), and on the CBS app & website. All I can say is, have a box of Kleenex handy at the end of the show. As reruns of Undercover Boss are airing on OWN and other outlets, it won't surprise anyone if the celebrity edition follows suit.

Here's an excerpt.



Not sure about this, but what might've been a precursor to this episode, in particular, was WWE CEO/Chairman Vince McMahon doing some undercover work of his own on the WWE Network series, Swerved, last year. Vince & Triple H appear briefly at the start of this show.

Rating: A.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A Modern Classic (?): Sister, Sister (1994)

Imagine, if you will, an inner-city remake of Disney's "The Parent Trap". Twin sisters, brought together after being separated at birth.

Motown executive Suzanne DePasse must've been a fan, because she came up with that urban remake in 1994.

Sister, Sister started off as a mid-season replacement at ABC as part of their Friday block in the spring of 1994. A year later, the show was cancelled after two seasons due to declining ratings. The fledgling WB network took a chance, and, once again, Sister, Sister was a mid-season replacement. This time, however, it was a hit, at least by WB standards.

The show was a star vehicle for twin sisters Tia & Tamera Mowry, so there was no need for trick photography, unlike in the two "Parent Trap" films (Hayley Mills, and, later, Lindsay Lohan), or, in The Patty Duke Show, where Duke played twin cousins. Tim Reid (ex-WKRP in Cincinnati, Simon & Simon, etc.) and Jackee Harry (ex-227) were the parents.

Cable reruns have aired on ABC Family (now Freeform) and MTV2, among other places.

Let's take a look at a sample episode.



The twins' brother, Tahj, made a few appearances, the last of which was a crossover with his own series, Smart Guy, which we'll look at another time. Tia & Tamera have kept busy in recent years, and there's word that Sister, Sister may be the latest to be revived or rebooted.

Rating: B.

Sports this 'n' that

After a day off on Monday (they probably would've been rained out otherwise), the Albany Dutchmen travel to Glens Falls tonight, with first place on the line. The Dutchmen are coming off a brutal 10-2 loss to Amsterdam on Sunday afternoon at Siena College, and are now tied with Glens Falls at 7-5 in one division of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League.

In contrast, the Tri-City Valleycats are in Aberdeen, Maryland for a series with the Ironbirds, the Baltimore affiliate of the NY-Penn League, owned by former Orioles star Cal Ripken, Jr.. The 'Cats snapped a 2-game losing streak Monday with a 6-1 win in the series opener. Tri-City returns home for a quick 3-set with Lowell on Thursday night before going back on the road.

Interesting scheduling quirk this year in that the 'Cats are home on Friday & Saturday each of the first four weekends, and only have two other home weekend series. Both Camp Day matinees are in July this year, as opposed to having one each in July & August.
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While I've not been able to ascertain the entirety of Troy High's football schedule in Class A for 2018, what I do know is that they have Schalmont, Amsterdam, & Averill Park on the docket. They'll travel to Amsterdam, seeking revenge for the loss in the 2015 Class A title game, on September 7. As for Averill Park, they'll be the ones seeking revenge for the beatdown administered by the Flying Horses in that same 2015 campaign. Stay tuned.
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The Mets may have finally gotten out of their offensive funk.

Mickey Calloway's club split a 4-game weekend series in Arizona, and clinched the season series vs. the Diamondbacks, 5 games to 2. On Monday, it was on to Denver, and red-hot Brandon Nimmo led the way, with family & friends making the trip from Wyoming. Nimmo had 4 hits, including 2 homers, as New York thumped Colorado, 12-2. Jacob deGrom snapped a personal 2 game losing streak to run his record to 5-2. With any luck, he'd be among the league leaders in wins.
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Condolences to the family of Around The Horn moderator Tony Reali. On Father's Day, Tony and his wife were expecting twins, but one of the two sons, Amodeo, died in childbirth. On Monday's episode of Horn, Reali was granted the "Face Time" segment normally awarded to the winner of each day's game:




Monday, June 18, 2018

No, they're not cops: Flat Foot Stooges (1938)

The Three Stooges are firemen in 1938's "Flat Foot Stooges". Silent film star Chester Conklin appears as their boss, and the film was written, directed, and co-produced by Charley Chase, a long time star for Hal Roach. Co-producer Hugh McCollum had worked on a number of Stooge shorts, and also worked for Roach, as memory serves.



Rating: A.

Matt "Guitar" Murphy (1929-2018)

The Blues Brothers knew what they were doing when they recruited ace blues guitarist Matt "Guitar" Murphy in 1978 for their debut album, "Briefcase Full of Blues". Murphy, whose career started all the way back in the 40's & 50's, had played with artists such as Etta James, Muddy Waters, and, in this clip, Memphis Slim.



It would've been too easy to pull another clip from the "Blues Brothers" movie from 1980, where, in the storyline, Murphy and soul legend Aretha Franklin played husband & wife and ran a diner. That clip will come at a later time. Murphy passed away over the weekend at 88.

Rest in peace.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Forgotten TV: The Ames Brothers Show (1956)

In the early days of television, it was common for some shows, including newscasts, to air for just 15 minutes, a practice that Cartoon Network revived several years back with Space Ghost Coast-to-Coast, the forerunner of their [adult swim] division.

In 1956, Revue Studios took a chance with a 15 minute show featuring the Ames Brothers, sponsored by Royal Crown Cola, at the time positing themselves as a legitimate competitor to Pepsi & Coca-Cola. Mostly musical numbers with a short dramatization of their career trajectory, this is the sort of music your parents and grandparents listened to in the 40's & 50's.



Ed Ames, the youngest of the four brothers, is the only one still around. Better known, of course, for his four year run on Daniel Boone (1964-8), Ed is still performing at 89. There is an audio clip on YouTube of Ed performing a full-length version of the Daniel Boone theme, and one of him and co-stars Fess Parker and Darby Hinton reuniting to do the shorter, more familiar version. I'll have those up soon.

Rating: A.

Rockin' Funnies: Hello, Muddah! Hello, Faddah! (1963)

Humorist Allan Sherman landed a novelty hit that put him on the Kraft Music Hall in 1963. With summer camp right around the corner, Allan takes us to Camp Granada in "Hello, Muddah! Hello, Faddah!":



The song's chart success led to Milton Bradley marketing a Camp Granada board game. Sherman, speaking of games, created another TV legend, I've Got a Secret, and was the original voice of Dr. Seuss' Cat in The Hat.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

These 'Cats have claws (Valleycats 11, Vermont 1, 6/15/18)

Wednesday's exhibition win over the Albany Dutchmen might as well have been a warning shot to the New York-Penn League.

The Tri-City Valleycats carried the momentum from their annual Education Day game into Friday's regular season opener at Bruno Stadium, in front of a packed house, and bludgeoned the Vermont Lake Monsters, 11-1.

Tri-City starter Chad Donato gave up a run without a hit in the top of the first. He had Vermont's Jeramiah McCray struck out, but catcher Oscar Campos couldn't contain the baseball, and McCray reached safely on a wild pitch. He'd come around to score on a sacrifice fly by Payton Squier, but that was the extent of the Lake Monsters' offense for the evening.

It didn't take long before the hosts answered.

With two out in the home first, Enmanuel Valdez drew a walk from Vermont starter Rafael Kelly. Then, Luis Encarnacion, cousin of Cleveland star Edwin Encarnacion, showed he has some power, too, cracking a two run homer over the left center field fence, just shy of the Valleycats' bullpen.

In the fourth, with Tri-City leading, 4-1, Kyle Davis, one of the holdovers from last year's team, crushed a Kelly pitch into the berm in left, making it 5-1. Then, in the fifth, two of the Astros' draft picks got into the act. Third round pick Jeremy Pena, out of Maine, stroked a double. The next batter was Houston's first round pick, Seth Beer, out of Clemson. The Suwanee, Georgia native slammed a two run homer into the same area in left center where Encarnacion parked his big fly earlier. That should've finished Kelly, but he stuck around to get two outs before plunking Ramiro Rodriguez and walking Davis, That finally brought a pitching change, as Kelly departed after 4 2/3 innings, charged with seven runs while walking three, hitting one, and striking out just two.

Donato, meanwhile, was brilliant. He went six in his season debut, giving up just the one run while walking one, and fanning six Lake Monster batters. In all, 'Cats pitchers racked up thirteen strikeouts on opening night.

The Valleycats are wearing memorial patches in memory of Millie Gladstone, wife of team president Bill Gladstone. Mrs. Gladstone passed away last month. It was opening night, so former Senator Joe Bruno, for whom the stadium is named, showed up to throw out the first pitch. The way Tri-City has played so far, their playoff draught may be coming to an end, but it is still early, and a lot can happen.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Forgotten TV: Glitter (1984)

Aaron Spelling had a formula for some of his ABC series, such as The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, & Hotel, a formula dating back to his days at Four Star with the original Burke's Law. That formula was to load up on the guest stars, mostly to help bolster the show's ensemble cast.

1984's Glitter wasn't an anthology series, but rather a straight drama, not unlike the cookie cutter crime dramas that Spelling was churning out, mostly, again, for ABC. The pedigree of the show's core cast should've allowed for some cohesion and continuity, but it didn't happen, simply because it was on the wrong night of the week.

Glitter was built around a magazine that fell somewhere between People and, say for example, the National Enquirer. It also brought back Arthur Hill (ex-Owen Marshall, Counselor-at-Law) to series television after a few years away. Spelling lured David Birney away from St. Elsewhere and Morgan Brittany from Dallas. The ensemble also included Melinda Culea (ex-The A-Team), Tracy Nelson (ex-Square Pegs, later of The Father Dowling Mysteries), and, in a rare dramatic role, Arte Johnson (ex-Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In).

So what was the problem? It was on Thursdays at 9 (ET), opposite Simon & Simon (CBS), and Cheers & Night Court on NBC. As a result, only 14 episodes were produced and aired. Ballgame over.

Following is a sample episode, with guest stars Lois Nettleton, Pat Harrington (One Day at a Time), & Melissa Sue Anderson (Little House on The Prairie). Uploaded to YouTube by a Nettleton fan channel.



I would say Glitter aspired to be for ABC what Lou Grant had been over at CBS for a few years, but it wasn't close.

Rating: B-.

Celebrity Rock: Shake a Tail Feather (1980)

Here's another nugget of joy from "The Blues Brothers":

Ray Charles plays a music store owner from whom the band gets their instruments, and, as per usual, it seems, they're running up a tab.

What results here is that the legend sits in with the band for an impromptu romp through "Shake a Tail Feather", which references several dances of the 60's, also referenced in "Land of 1,000 Dances". Jake & Elwood (John Belushi & Dan Aykroyd) sing backup behind Ray, while a couple of kids are dancing on the Bluesmobile. Like, wild!



Today, Ray & Joliet Jake are in music heaven.

Sports this 'n' that

La Loudmouth (LaVar Ball) is at it again.

Earlier this week, Ball went on record claiming that once the NBA free agent signing season begins July 1, LeBron James will leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for the 2nd time, this time signing with Ball's hometown Los Angeles Lakers.

What works in favor of the Lakers is that James has a home in LA, and his namesake son, LeBron, Jr., will be going to high school in the city next fall. However, would James put up with the traveling media circus that shows up every time LaVar, 50, opens his mouth? I doubt that very seriously. James put up a valiant, brave effort, despite Cleveland being swept in four games by Golden State last week in the NBA Finals, playing with a broken hand in the last couple of games.

What Ball is expecting is James to be a mentor to Lonzo, but there are some online commentators who think Lonzo will be traded instead, perhaps to Cleveland, which could do a sign-&-trade to send James and his endorsement deals (i.e. Sprite) to La-La-Land. I don't see that happening, either. James will stay in the east, and likely land, if not in Cleveland, but in Philadelphia, Boston, or even Chicago.

Unfortunately, Lonzo is drinking his pop's kool-aid, and reportedly said that brother LiAngelo will likely join him with the Lakers after next week's draft. Seriously? LiAngelo, thanks to his father, by-passed college for a pro league in Lithuania, and when things went south there, La Loudmouth brought LiAngelo and LaMelo home with some lame excuses.

Here's the problem. Ball thinks his kids are already good enough, despite the fact that he himself was a bench player in high school and college, and even had a cup of coffee in the World League of American Football in 1995, when the Jets had him on their roster. Ball also was on the practice squad of the then-expansion Carolina Panthers, also in 1995. Remember, this delusional dreamer thinks he could beat Michael Jordan and outplay Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski. Ball never played a down in the NFL with either the Panthers or Jets, and thus you can forget about a football card with his mug on it. Unless there's a WLAF 1995 set floating out there that has one.
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Three weeks after acquiring him from the Jests, the Oakland Raiders cut former Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg on Tuesday. I guess even Jon Gruden couldn't figure out a way to get him on the field. Next stop for Hackenberg, methinks, is, like, Canada, eh?
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The Tri-City Valleycats and Albany Dutchmen played through some raindrops Wednesday morning for their annual Education Day exhibition at Bruno Stadium, with the new-look 'Cats giving new manager Jason Bell his first win right out of the gate, 6-1. While Tri-City opens the NY-Penn League season tomorrow vs. Vermont, the Dutchmen are back in action tonight at Amsterdam after a scheduled Perfect Game Collegiate League game was cancelled due to the advancing rainstorm that hit the region later in the evening. The Dutchmen sit atop their division in the PGCBL at 6-2. Then again, they got off to a good start last year, too, and then fell out of the lead late in the season.
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Football fans in the home district have a choice on Saturday. The Troy Fighting Irish (1-0), a semi-pro team, will play their second straight home game at Lansingburgh High, while the Albany Empire (Arena League) will wrap their current homestand at Times-Union Center. The Fighting Irish have lower ticket prices around the same level as the Valleycats, who, oh, by the way, are a 3rd option for local sports fans, with the Dutchmen out of town on Saturday.

Problem is, and I mentioned this before, aside from a season-opening feature piece by El Cheapo Media on opening night, the Irish don't get any coverage, as their opening victory was not reported in the papers. The revamped Northeastern Football Alliance website provided the information. El Cheapo ain't exactly pushing to send a reporter to cover the Empire, either, despite the hometown angle (former Troy High star Jordan Canzeri plays for the Empire). The Empire's game, meanwhile, is likely airing on CBS Sports Network, which would save some budget conscious fans some money.
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The Mets are in the desert this weekend, opening a four game series with Arizona after getting swept by Atlanta the last two days, wasting the prosperity of a nationally televised win over the Yankees on Sunday. They didn't need to replace their trainer (Ray Ramirez was let go after last season), they actually need a staff psychologist to help them get over the mental blocks that appear when their star players (i.e. Yoenis Cespedes) are on the DL.

I'm serious. I actually believe most of the team's issues are psychological in nature, something the rabid, scandal-obsessed press and the residents of the Valley of the Stupid (talk radio) don't consider. All these armchair managers who think they've got the answers actually don't. Not saying that I do, because I don't, either, but the psych thing has me puzzled.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

What Might've Been: Annie McGuire (1988)

Ever since her 1970-7 sitcom ended, Mary Tyler Moore struggled to find another hit series, while at the same time reinventing herself as a dramatic actress.

In 1988, she and her production company sold CBS on the dramedy, Annie McGuire. This time, Mary was bridging two worlds. She was a housewife again, just like on The Dick Van Dyke Show, but she was also working for a living in a two-income household with her husband (Denis Arndt, who hasn't been heard from much since). Future film star Adrien Brody plays one of the sons.

Unfortunately, viewers weren't interested in Annie, largely because The Mary Tyler Moore Show, as well as The Dick Van Dyke Show, were readily available in syndication at the time, and most folks couldn't get past Mary's past roles. As a result, Annie McGuire was a short-lived series.

Here's the opener:



Rating: B.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Celebrity Rock: So Far Away (2018)

You've heard her sing on Glee & The Flash. Now, Supergirl star Melissa Benoist is spending her summer vacation on Broadway, starring in "Beautiful: The Carole King Story". Melissa was a presenter at last night's Tony Awards, and appeared on Live With Kelly & Ryan this morning to promote "Beautiful".

This video was taken from a recent rehearsal in New York, as Melissa covers King's "So Far Away":



I'm begging the Troy Music Hall to beat Proctor's to a touring company of "Beautiful".

Sports this 'n' that

There used to be just two things that are inevitable, death & taxes.

To this we add Rafael Nadal winning the French Open. Nadal won the Open for the 11th time on Sunday, in straight sets. Winning Wimbledon, which begins in 2 weeks, however, is not as certain. Nadal has found the courts at Paris' Roland Garros Stadium to his liking so much, I'd say once he retires, they could rename the joint in his honor......
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It's hard to be a Mets fan these days.

The Mets snapped an 8 game losing streak Sunday, becoming the first team to shut out the Yankees, 2-0, to salvage the final game of the homestand, as well as building some momentum for when the Subway Series moves to the Bronx next month.

After the game, however, the team cut aging, struggling first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, and called up Dominic Smith from Triple A Las Vegas. Smith struggled in his first extended tour of the majors last year, but with the team mired in 4th place in the NL East, and looking to avoid falling into the cellar as they begin a road trip to Atlanta and Arizona this week. Also, backup catcher Jose Lobaton will be designated for assignment for the 2nd time this season, with utility man Ty Kelly, back with the Mets after spending last season with Philadelphia and Toronto, being called up to replace Lobaton on the roster.

However, fans are up in arms because the team won't part with another aging vet, once-beloved shortstop Jose Reyes, who's seen some time at 2nd & 3rd this season. With Asdrubal Cabrera likely becoming the latest to go on the disabled list (hamstring), this gives the team an excuse to keep Reyes around, although Kelly will likely get a bulk of the reps at 2nd. Rumors are that the team wants to ease Reyes into retirement. Stay tuned.
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Until American Pharoah had won the Triple Crown three years ago, it had been 37 years since the last one (Affirmed). On Saturday, Justify, like Pharoah, trained by Bob Baffert, became the 13th horse to complete the Crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes), and of course the rumors began that Justify could be headed to Saratoga to compete during the meet that begins July 20. Baffert brought Pharoah to Saratoga in 2015, only to lose to Keen Ice in the Travers. Baffert horses have won the last two Travers, however, so maybe Justify can pull it off. We'll see.
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On Friday, there were 8 Section 2 teams vying for state titles in softball & baseball. At the end of business on Saturday, only 3 teams came home with championships. Albany Academy was denied in Class B, dropping a 4-0 verdict to eventual state champ Central Moriches on Friday. On Saturday, Queensbury (Class A) won their first state title. The other winners from Section 2 came in softball, as as Ichabod Crane (B) & Fort Ann (D) took home championships. Unfortunately, El Cheapo Media focused only on Averill Park (Class A), which was also denied a state title, ignoring the other games.

The Section 2 season officially ended on Sunday with an exhibition game for seniors in memory of Deanna Rivers, a Shenendehowa student who was killed in an auto accident in December 2012. This was the 6th annual event, but it hasn't gotten a lot of publicity. Surprisingly, the only way I found out about this year's edition was in El Cheapo's editions today.
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The Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League (PGCBL) has already begun play, with the Albany Dutchmen off to a 5-2 start. The Dutchmen will have their annual exhibition with the Tri-City Valleycats on Wednesday morning, billed as Education Day at Bruno Stadium, one last treat for the kiddo's as the school year ends. Valleycats season begins Friday.
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El Cheapo Media gave some lip service to the Troy Fighting Irish semi-pro football team ahead of Saturday's opener, but as of this morning, there was no sign of a box score from the game. Gee, what a surprise. The Irish play their home games at Lansingburgh High, but with the Albany Empire playing across the river at Times-Union Center, where do you suppose most of the fans were going? And this was despite the fact that the Empire game started 30 minutes later than normal so fans could watch the Belmont Stakes on the big screen at the TUC.

The challenge for El Cheapo and the rest of the local media is to give the Irish maximum coverage for a change. How's anyone outside of the fan base supposed to be aware of the team if no one covers them with any consistency?

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Celebrity Rock: Duke of Earl (1991)

While on a break from Roseanne, John Goodman was given an opportunity to headline a feature film. Unfortunately, "King Ralph" was savaged by critics, and was but a minor success at the box office. The soundtrack CD includes three covers by Goodman: Little Richard's immortal "Good Golly, Miss Molly", Don Ho's "Tiny Bubbles", & Gene Chandler's "Duke of Earl", which begins as the credits roll at the end of the movie.

What you'll hear is a truncated version of the song.



Some commentators on YouTube hadn't been aware that Goodman made his singing debut five years earlier in "True Stories" with "People Like Us". Yes, the clip ends with the opening bars of "Good Golly, Miss Molly". Little Richard had re-recorded the song, produced by Jeff Lynne (ELO, Traveling Wilburys), so there are two versions of "Miss Molly" on the soundtrack.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

YouTube Theatre: GLOW: The Story of The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (2013)

Vince McMahon will tell anyone who'll listen that he coined the phrase, "sports entertainment", but that genre had actually been around well before McMahon decided that his wrestlers were "superstars". Roller derby had become choreographed by the time the mid-80's rolled around (pun not intended).

David McLane came up with the idea of creating an all-women's wrestling "promotion", since instead of legitimate wrestlers, he held a casting call for actresses who would be trained in the craft.

Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, or, GLOW, for short, spent four seasons in syndication (1986-90). McLane served as host for the first two seasons, and ring announcer during the first season. To help the Good Girls (babyfaces), McLane and his partners brought in Jackie Stallone, but I don't recall if there were any side references to her actor-son, Sylvester ("Rocky", "Rambo", etc.), in commentary.

A quick check of the roster over the course of the series' run reveals two women who moved on to bigger things. Lisa Moretti (Tina Ferrari) entered the WWE Hall of Fame earlier this year under her other alias, Ivory. Taeler Hendrix joined the show late in the run, but is better known today for her runs with TNA (Impact) & Ring of Honor. Moretti was interviewed for the 2013 documentary, GLOW: The Story of The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, but Hendrix was not, as the clips used focused on the first two seasons. Ursula Hayden (Babe, The Farmer's Daughter) obtained the rights to the original GLOW a while back, and authorized the documentary.

As you'll see, the rigors of the training under Mando Guerrero took their toll, as injuries cut short some women's careers. Mando's nephew, Chavo, Jr., is the trainer for the current GLOW, which begins season 2 at the end of this month, and will also join the cast.

Grab some popcorn, and enjoy.



Some of the rapping and singing is of the so-bad-it's-actually-good variety. If you thought it was bad, well, McMahon topped it a year later with a cabaret act at the Slammy Awards.

Rating: A-.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Forgotten TV: Catch-22 (1973)

Joseph Heller's Catch-22 had first been adapted into a feature film by Paramount & Filmways in 1970, the same year that 20th Century Fox had adapted M*A*S*H for the big screen. ABC was hoping it had their own M*A*S*H. Uh, no.

Before becoming a cinematic icon with films such as "Jaws" & "Close Encounters of The Third Kind", Richard Dreyfuss was paying his dues doing television. Catch-22, I think, was one of his last TV projects. The cast also includes Nicholas Hammond ("The Sound of Music", later of The Amazing Spider-Man), Dana Elcar (later of Black Sheep Squadron, Baretta, & MacGyver), and Frank Welker, better known now for his cartoon work (i.e. Scooby-Doo, Transformers, etc.).



While I've never seen the movie, the pilot lacks the star power of it, including writer-actor Buck Henry, and, in a rare acting role, Art Garfunkel (whose role was filled by Hammond). I think Bob Newhart's self-titled series was on the air by this point, too.

Rating:  B-.

45 years ago, it was the greatest Belmont Stakes in history

Tomorrow night, Justify will attempt to become the 2nd Triple Crown winner in the last 4 years. During the course of NBC's telecast, they will inevitably invoke the memory of Secretariat, who completed his Triple Crown 45 years ago come tomorrow.

You will be asked where you were on June 9, 1973. Back then, CBS had the rights to the Triple Crown races. I was home that day, watching the race with my parents. While Fred Capposella called the race live at the track, CBS contracted Chic Anderson to call all three Triple Crown races on the air. Anderson would later work for the New York Racing Association himself.

The background music in the video comes from a documentary, I think, produced either later that year or some time after.



I believe the video was later used as filler on the local OTB channel.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

On The Air: Cloak & Dagger (2018)

In 1981, Marvel Comics writer Bill Mantlo was inspired by a visit to Ellis Island to develop the tale of a pair of teenage runaways who developed super powers. Cloak & Dagger aren't angels by any stretch of the imagination, debuting in volume 1 of Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man in the March 1982 issue (released in December 1981), then were spun off into a series of miniseries and ongoing titles.

Two years ago, Marvel Studios began developing a TV series based on the books, but with one big difference. Instead of being runaways, Tandy (Olivia Holt) & Tyrone (Aubrey Joseph) have diverse lives. Tyrone is a high school basketball player whose mom (Gloria Reuben, ex-ER) expects the very best from him. Tandy is a petty thief. An accident involving some drugs gives them their powers, and their story begins to develop from there.

Freeform is the place to go for Cloak & Dagger, but, like Syfy's just-finished Krypton, it's a short, 10-episode season, which wraps on August 2. Freeform is looking to get a slice of the pie from CW's hit series, Black Lightning, as the writing so far appears to be along the same quality line. Oh, by the way, CW is running Black Lightning on Thursdays for a summer rerun cycle before the series moves back to Tuesdays in October.

Here's a trailer:



The setting for the show has changed from its comics origins. Instead of New York, our leads are in New Orleans. How much of a difference that makes remains to be seen. It worked for Black Lightning, which is set in a New Orleans suburb, so maybe this will make two in a row for the Crescent City. We'll see.

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

Hockey season could end as early as tonight, unless the upstart (Las) Vegas Golden Knights can find a third gear and bounce back, down 3-1 in games to the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup finals. All Vegas netminder Marc-Andre Fleury needs do is flash the two rings he won with Pittsburgh to remind his teammates of the task at hand. They are home. They will have the 7th man, if you will, the home crowd, behind them. This will be appointment television the rest of the way if Vegas can recover.
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Exam week for local high schools officially begins next week, which means that spring sports season wraps up no later than Sunday. Eight Section 2 teams are still alive in baseball (3) & softball (5), while one of the the section's top lacrosse teams, Niskayuna, lost in a state semi-final at Adelphi University on Long Island Wednesday. There could be some state titles coming home by Saturday, and you know, I think we could have at least one, maybe two. We'll see.
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Meanwhile, UAlbany lacrosse star TD Ierian has been released from his scholarship commitment, though the option still exists for him to return to the Great Danes next season. He has a brother who is enrolling at Cornell as a freshman, and that would explain his decision to leave Albany. I respect the fact he wants to be close to his sibling and help him along.
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The Albany Twilight League, one of the oldest amateur leagues in the country, has already started its season, but all we ever see are box scores in the Albany Times-Union. With the Tri-City Valleycats and the Albany Dutchmen about to begin play in their respective leagues next week, the ATL doesn't get the press coverage it used to get back in the day. Yes, the standings are kept up-to-date, but I think all the games are played at ancient Bleecker Stadium, which is sorely in need of renovation. Just sayin'.
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ESPN knows the Yankees mean big ratings, and decided to move the Bombers' July 8 home game vs. Toronto into a Sunday night berth. However, right before that decision was made, the Yankees had agreed to a double-header at Baltimore, to make up for one of last weekend's rainouts, on July 9. The Yankees, though, took things a step too far, threatening to boycott ESPN if they didn't change their minds. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed, and the Yankees & Blue Jays will play a matinee on July 8 after all. Whomever's in charge of flex scheduling at ESPN should've considered those rainouts in Baltimore first.
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If he ever leaves the WWE and reality TV behind, Michael "The Miz" Mizanin has a future as a sports commentator.

Speaking as a fan of his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers, Mizanin appeared today on ESPN's First Take, with the Cavs down 3-0 in games to Golden State and game 4 tomorrow night. Mizanin had the Cleveland homies behind him, and got into a heated debate with Stephen A. Smith, more so than with Max Kellerman......



For once, I would've been happy to see Miz talk the Cosell wanna-be under the table. Then again, just about anyone can take Screamin' A. to school........

Musical Interlude: Sorry Seems to be The Hardest Word (1976)

"Sorry Seems to be The Hardest Word" is the 2nd single from Elton John's 1976 album, "Blue Moves". It peaked at #6 on the pop chart, and topped the adult contemporary chart. Today, it still gets significant airplay on oldies radio.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

YouTube Theatre: Archie: To Riverdale & Back Again (1990)

Until Greg Berlanti and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa hit on the idea of turning Riverdale upside down with a dark soap opera on the order of Twin Peaks, the last time Archie Andrews & friends hit primetime was a 1990 NBC TV-movie that was never meant, I think, to be more than a 1-shot.

Archie: To Riverdale & Back Again aired on a Sunday night, and I remember watching it in the kitchen on a portable TV I kept there for such occasions. Christopher Rich (Another World) landed the title role as Archie, with Lauren Holly, who co-starred with Andrew "Dice" Clay in "The Adventures of Ford Fairlane" that same year, but is better known for Picket Fences, played Betty, with Gary Kroeger (ex-Saturday Night Live) as Reggie, and James Noble (ex-Benson) as Hiram Lodge, Veronica's dad, who was just as crooked as he is now on Riverdale. I guess this is where Aguirre-Sacasa came up with the idea of making Lodge Riverdale's answer to Lex Luthor, if you will, subbing mob connections for an obsession with superheroes.

The plot: The gang gets back together for their 15th anniversary class reunion, and Lodge is planning on building something on the property belonging to Pop Tate's Choc'lit Shoppe, with Reggie throwing in with Lodge. Archie's engaged, but not to Betty or Veronica..........



This was a trip, I'll admit. I even bought the adaptation that Archie Comics released, with a cover by the inestimable John Byrne, and interiors by Gene Colan and, in flashbacks, classic Archie artist Stan Goldberg.

All Aguirre-Sacasa & Berlanti have done is push the envelope completely off the table, if you catch my drift.

Rating: B+.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

What Might've Been: 12 O'Clock High (1964)

Rare was the case where Quinn Martin's production company came up with something other than a crime drama. In 1964, Martin partnered with 20th Century Fox to adapt the studio's 1949 film, "12 O'Clock High", into a weekly series that, as far as ABC was concerned, was meant to be a complement to the network-produced Combat!.

However, 12 O'Clock High lasted 2 1/2 seasons, signing off for good in January 1967. Part of the problem appeared to be a revolving door with the ensemble cast. Robert Lansing (ex-87th Precinct) was cast in the lead role of General Savage in the 1st season, but left after that initial season. Lansing would return in The Man Who Never Was during the 1966-7 season, but that ended up a casualty as well.

Paul Burke (ex-Naked City) appeared in 2 episodes, including the opener, in the first season before being brought back as a regular in seasons 2 & 3. While most of us will remember Chris Robinson, another 2nd season addition, for his later work on the daytime soap, General Hospital, he was part of the ensemble, getting wide exposure for the first time.

Here's the opener, "Golden Boy Had Nine Black Sheep":



Rating: B.

Sports this 'n' that

As you probably know by now, former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel has taken his talents to the Canadian Football League, where he signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. That's the good news. The bad? Hamilton lost their opener. I don't know if there's enough of a curiosity factor with Manziel back on the field after last playing a regular season game in the NFL three years ago. None of this would be happening, of course, if Manziel didn't listen to the leeches surrounding him while at Texas A & M convincing him to turn pro after his sophomore season. As we've seen, stats are one thing, but maturity of a player is another.
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Meanwhile, America's oldest spoiled brat, President Donald Trump, has struck again.

Trump rescinded an invitation extended to the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, claiming it had to do with players kneeling during the National Anthem, but one article I read alleges that it was also because so few of the players were planning on making the trip. Not a single Eagle knelt during the anthem in the 2017 season. Trump flaunting his faux patriotism should be an impetus for his next book, and I even have the title for him. How about, The Art of The Con?

The Eagles will hold a small, patriotically themed party for their fans instead. Good call.
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The NFL is mourning the passing of San Francisco 49ers legend Dwight Clark at 61. Clark was the recipient of "The Catch" from Joe Montana in an NFC title game vs. Dallas. According to an account on ESPN, Clark had contracted ALS in later years.

Meanwhile, former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Bruce Kison passed away over the weekend. Kison was more recently a scout for the Seattle Mariners.

Condolences to the families of both Kison & Clark.
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When they reached the Stanley Cup Finals, the (Las)Vegas Golden Knights were on the cusp of history. Now, they're one game away from total defeat.

The Knights trail the Washington Capitals, 3-1, after Washington thrashed Vegas, 6-2, on Monday. The scene shifts back to Las Vegas for Game 5, which could be the Knights' last stand. Still, their accomplishment this season is one for the books.
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La Loudmouth (LaVar Ball, of course) thinks too big, and doesn't see the reality of his fool's folly.

Ball's Junior Basketball League, meant to be a showcase for son LaMelo, is set to launch next week, but Ball is putting the games on in large arenas that would otherwise host NBA or college games, and overcharging for tickets. As with the similarly overpriced basketball shoes the Sultan of Stage Parents peddles, Ball is trying to realize the money he never made as a pro player himself. He may not like it, but I think he'll be hearing from the Better Business Bureau, and maybe the FBI, too, before the end of the summer. Ball's latest shell game gets him another set of Weasel ears.

Oh, it's one thing to shoot for the moon, but Ball's in the business of exploiting kids, including his own, to feather his own nest, and it needs to end yesterday.

A league like the JBL is better left in the hands of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, not a greedy, real-life Fred Sanford.
======================================
You're probably wondering why the WWE doesn't do television at Madison Square Garden anymore. As Cody Rhodes and Matt & Nick Jackson (The Young Bucks) are about to find out, it's because MSG's owner, James Dolan, is just as greedy as LaVar Ball, and makes Vince McMahon look like a saint by comparison.

At Ring of Honor's Saturday show at the Hammerstein Ballroom, Rhodes and the Bucks, separately, teased the audience with the idea that the sequel to their September 1 All In show in Chicago could wind up at the Mecca of Sports & Entertainment. We salute Rhodes & the Jacksons for their initiative, but if the reports are true that Dolan overcharges for renting the Garden for events, the Bullet Club could be facing a severe reality check. Stay tuned.

Monday, June 4, 2018

On The Air: Major League Wrestling Fusion (2018)

Major League Wrestling arrived on the scene roughly before Ring of Honor and TNA (now Impact), then went dormant for a few years before returning last year. A few weeks back, MLW landed a television deal with Bein Sports (check your cable listings), resulting in the debut of MLW Fusion, episodes of which are available on YouTube through both Bein Sports & MLW's channels.

Veteran announcers Tony Schiavone, formerly with World Championship Wrestling and also currently calling minor league baseball for the Baltimore Orioles' AAA team in Norfolk, and Rich Bocchini (nee Brennan, formerly with WWE) are at the mics, and the roster includes some local talent in the form of Mike Parrow, who also wrestles for Evolve, and is from the hometown. That's the good news. The bad? Parrow, a heel, is managed by the ageless Col. Robert Parker (Robert Fuller, a long time fixture in Southern wrestling with stints in WCW as well as WWE (as Tennessee Lee) and elsewhere). I give them less than a year before Parrow tires of Parker and dumps him.

Yeah, Parker bored me back in the day. So what?

There are other familiar faces here. Penta OM, aka Pentagon, Jr./Pentagon Dark, has also been with Impact and Lucha Underground, as has his brother, Rey Fenix (known simply as Fenix in LU). Austin Aries is the current Impact World champ, and had a short stint with WWE last year. He's taken this freelance thing really serious, as he's also with ROH. ACH is a former ROH star, and currently is touring Japan. MVP had stints with WWE & TNA. Shane Strickland is known to LU fans as the masked Killshot. Sami Callihan also wrestles for Impact, and works for LU as Jeremiah Crane.

Here's the opener:



As with ROH, respect is the name of the game here. I can dig.

Rating: A.

What Might've Been: Jericho (1966)

As viewers were waxing nostalgic over the period of World War II (1941-5), CBS already had a hit sitcom set in that period, the comedy-adventure, Hogan's Heroes, which was entering its 2nd season in 1966. CBS then purchased a WWII drama from producer Norman Felton's Arena Productions & MGM that they thought would be a complement to Hogan.

Jericho told the story of a 3-man team of agents operating behind enemy lines. Problem was, CBS also launched the more contemporary Mission: Impossible that same season, and it managed to last into the 70's. Worse for Jericho, the first half of the show aired opposite Batman. Game over.

ABC,  by the way, also had a trio of WWII-themed series: Rat Patrol lasted two seasons, and had one cast member in common with Jericho, that being Hans Gudegast, aka Eric Braeden, later of The Young & The Restless. 20th Century Fox's Blue Light (with Robert Goulet in the title role) and The Man Who Never Was (starring Robert Lansing, and produced by One Step Beyond's John Newland) both flopped, like Jericho.

Here's the intro. Bill Woodson is the narrator.



Co-creators Richard Levinson & William Link would find their niche in crime dramas, starting with Columbo, and would return to CBS with Murder, She Wrote, some 20 years after Jericho.

No rating.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

On The Air: Ancient Aliens (2010)

Ever since Erich Von Daniken released Chariots of The Gods in the 70's, a fair number of people believe that aliens came to earth during our world's formative years. While there have been movies (i.e. "In Search of Ancient Astronauts") and TV shows (i.e. In Search Of.....) that tried to present both sides of the argument, History Channel's current series, Ancient Aliens, really takes the cake. 13 seasons and counting, all in the space of less than a decade (cable seasons are way shorter than broadcast networks, and they can have as many as three "seasons" in one calendar year).

Local product Kevin Burns, from Schenectady, now working & living in Los Angeles, is the brains behind this series, and Von Daniken has been a frequent contributor, still going strong at 83. I honestly think part of the reason this show is on the air is the success of Chris Carter's The X-Files during its initial run in the 90's and early '00's. There are people who believe that aliens have visited Earth in some form in recent decades, but proof is hard to come by organically (meaning, there usually isn't any) without skeptics alleging a scam.

Personally, while there are facts that debunk claims of aliens having been involved in landmarks such as the pyramids in Egypt, there are the believers who think otherwise, and I'd offer them a Bible and a DVD set of either Star Trek, My Favorite Martian, or Mork & Mindy to challenge what common sense they have left.

Burns, by the way, does have a sci-fi pedigree. His production company was responsible for a movie and subsequent TV show a few years back that those same believers should be checking out. Alien Nation.

Here's a recent episode:



Somehow, I can't watch this without thinking of a soundtrack that includes "Weird" Al Yankovic, Thomas Dolby ("Aliens Ate My Buick"), and pieces of Looney Tunes.

Rating: C.

On The Shelf: DC meets Hanna-Barbera, round 2

The 2nd wave of DC Universe-Hanna-Barbera 1-shots hit the stands on Wednesday, focusing this time on H-B icons of the 70's.

When Joe Ruby & Ken Spears returned to H-B in 1976 after four years away, time spent at DePatie-Freleng & 20th Century Fox (they were consultants on Planet of the Apes), they brought with them Jabberjaw & Dynomutt, while also developing components of the Krofft Supershow, all for ABC. Dynomutt's teaming with the present day Super Sons was not available for review at press time, but the meeting of Jabberjaw with Aquaman is, and leads off our review.

It was established on his show that Jabber and his band, the Neptunes, existed in the late 21st century, 100 years after their creation, if ya will. Instead of traveling through time to the present, which cuts the time difference down considerably to 58 years, Jabber is crossing dimensions. On his world, Aquaman is also a TV star, as he was initially in 1967 with another studio (Filmation). Comics fans know that Ocean Master is Aquaman's half-brother, but the version they used here comes from Jabberjaw instead. With both DC & H-B under the WB umbrella, that takes care of any legal imbroglios. Dan Abnett & Paul Pelletier created a surprisingly entertaining adventure.

However, the backup feature showcases another Ruby-Spears creation, Captain Caveman, under the watchful eyes of the wizard Shazam and The Spectre. It appears that the Teen Angels aren't teens anymore, having all grown up. Same ol' Cavey, though.

Overall rating: B-.

Black Lightning is totally hot right now, between his hit CW series and a recent DC miniseries written by his creator, fellow blogger Tony Isabella. Bryan Hill, though, was entrusted with pairing Black Lightning with Hong Kong Phooey in another interesting pairing. As Hill and penciller Denys Cowan see it, Penrod Pooch, aka Hong Kong Phooey, wasn't a bumbling police janitor, but rather served in Vietnam, and Rosemary, the love-struck police receptionist, is now a disciple of sensei Phooey, who's more assertive than ever. Penry and Jefferson "Black Lightning" Pierce appear to be old friends, and encounter villains common to both men. This was the one I wanted all along, and I wasn't disappointed.

On the other hand, the handling of Funky Phantom does little more than provide lip service to fans of the 1971 series. Jonathan Muddlemore is now a literal spiritual advisor to the military, but the story's too short.

Overall rating: A.

The Flash, in this case Wally West, circa the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths era of the late 80's, is paired with Speed Buggy, but it's not the Speedy you remember. Scott Lobdell concocts a story that has a scientist experimenting with the speed force and his dune buggy. The end result is the vehicle gaining sentience at the expense of the professor having to pretend he's died. You see, one of Speedy's mechanics in this reality, Debbie, is the professor's daughter. Watch for the homage to the late entertainer Mel Blanc, the original voice of Speed Buggy and a bazillion other characters, and also a match race that aspires to be on a par with the Superman-Flash races of the Silver Age. Surprisingly good.

Lobdell and artists Brett Booth & Norm Rapmund are also working on one of the DC-Looney Tunes 1-shots, due in August.

Rating: A-.

Meanwhile, DC is ending Hal Jordan & The Green Lantern Corps (with issue 50) and Batwoman (#16) in August, although there's a chance both books could be rebooted at a future point, especially with news that Batwoman will be added to Arrow this fall.

Current WWE World champ AJ Styles will make his comics writing debut on one of the WWE-sanctioned books coming from Boom! Studios. Styles is teaming with Headlocked creator Mike Kingston to offer his side of things leading to his WWE debut at the 2016 Royal Rumble. Should be fun.

Finally, DC's Justice League: No Justice miniseries has wrapped, leading to yet another relaunch of Justice League, plus a pair of new series, debuting in July. The script, a collaboration between Scott Snyder, Joshua Williamson, & James Tynion IV, purports to have the League join forces with the likes of Lobo, Brainiac (!), and Starro the Conqueror against a common threat. Superman's arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor, has been with the League for a while, but this is a means of spinning him out of it. I wasn't fond of the effort to make the artwork have a uniform look. The facials didn't look right in a lot of places. A new Justice League ongoing launches this week, but I don't think I'm sticking around.

Rating: B---.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

A Classic Reborn: Get Smart (1995)

Would you believe someone thought it'd be a good idea to revive Get Smart as a mid-season replacement?

Well, it happened.

Fox acquired the rights to the franchise, a few years after a TV-movie had aired on ABC (the original series aired on NBC from 1965-9, then CBS from 1969-70). Unfortunately, Fox put the show on the wrong night.

Get Smart spent seven weeks on Sunday nights on Fox (January-February 1995), not enough time to actually reacquaint audiences with the franchise. Don Adams & Barbara Feldon were back, as was series regular Dave Ketchum as Agent 13. Now, however, Maxwell Smart (Adams) was the Chief of CONTROL (Edward Platt had passed away in the intervening years), and 99 (Feldon) was now a Congresswoman. Son Zach (Andy Dick) was following in their footsteps, but his twin sister had been seemingly retconned out of existence. Zach was just like his father. Not exactly a brain surgeon, but smart enough to crack a case (pun intended).

So was the choice of nights the whole problem? No, not really. Dick, apparently, was not sure this would work, and had shot another pilot, which turned out to be a little more successful. NewsRadio bowed three weeks after Get Smart was decommissioned for good.

Here's a sample episode:



Yes, Siegfried (Bernie Kopell) returned as well, but didn't factor into this episode.

Rating: B.

Musical Interlude: Gimme Some Money (1984)

From "This Is Spinal Tap":

The Thamesmen, one of the early incarnations of the band that evolved into Spinal Tap, perform "Gimme Some Money", which is a mockery and a homage at the same time to British Invasion-era pop. Ed Begley, Jr. (St. Elsewhere) mans the drums in this segment.



Now, I definitely have to rent the movie.

Friday, June 1, 2018

What Might've Been: Unsolved (1960)

In the early years of television, there were about a zillion pilots that never made it. Unsolved, a crime drama produced in 1960, may have been one of those that were ahead of their time.

Long before Warren Beatty took the story of Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel to the big screen, an independent producer told the tale from a different point of view, using fictional characters that were analogues for the real-life figures.

In the pilot, Siegel is represented by Martin "Mugsy" Hiedell (Simon Oakland), a New York fellow who moves west to seek his fortune, and his destiny......



The cast includes Aneta Corsault (later of The Andy Griffith Show) and character actor Dabbs Greer. Oakland is better known for his work at Universal in the 70's (Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Baa Baa Black Sheep/Black Sheep Squadron) and other character roles of that period.

Rating: A.