Sunday, May 29, 2011

Weasel of the Week: Fred Wilpon

Last month, New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon was interviewed by The New Yorker for their current issue. At the time, the Mets weren't playing as well as they have been of late, but once the tabloid media got hold of the story, they had a field day.

Wilpon declared that All-Star 3rd baseman David Wright is "not a superstar", although the media has tried to treat him as such. Wright is presently on the disabled list with a back injury. Wilpon wasn't too kind to outfielder Carlos Beltran, who may be making a bid for Comeback Player of the Year, considering how well he's performed in the first two months of the season, adjusting to his new position in right field, and shortstop Jose Reyes, who could leave either via mid-season trade or as a free agent after the season is over. Wilpon believes that despite the stats Reyes is putting up now, he's not getting the same kind of money that Boston threw to outfielder Carl Crawford in the offseason, citing Reyes' injury history. Understandable, yes, but then you also consider the Mets' muddled financial picture.

The Mets have a potential minority partner in David Einstein, who was chosen by the team on Thursday. The influx of cash coming in from Einstein can be of help to the franchise, trying to resolve the crisis created by being fleeced by con artist Bernard Madoff, but exacerbated by greedy trustee Irving Picard, a previous Weasel. Because of the money crunch, the Mets don't believe they can retain Reyes beyond this season, even though he is putting up All-Star caliber numbers and is, like Wright, a fan favorite.

After the Wilpon interview was published, however, the Mets dropped 2 of 3 to the Chicago Cubs, then came home and lost the first two games to front-running Philadelphia before laying the smack down on the Phillies earlier today. Reyes led a 17-hit attack with 4, including 2 triples. And they want to trade him? Ri-freakin'-diculous! Wilpon, of course, had to defend his remarks in meeting with the team, because the last thing he wants to do is destroy morale in the clubhouse, which would only make things harder for manager Terry Collins, GM Sandy Alderson, and assistants Paul DiPodesta, JP Riccardi, & John Ricco.

The media thought Wilpon was trying to channel the spirit of the late George Steinbrenner, whose negative comments on certain Yankee players served as a form of reverse psychology that seemed to work more often than not. Instead, Wilpon's comments had no adverse affect whatsoever. As they say, Reyes has been unconscious at the plate of late. What has done the Mets in, especially against the Phillies, is a tendency for the bullpen to implode at the wrong time. Wilpon is lacking faith in his own organization to retain their star players, perhaps thinking that he can't roll against the tide of the team's history. Past ownership has made some bad decisions (trading Tom Seaver in 1977 comes to mind immediately), but Wilpon's worst decision was planting seeds of doubt, not in the players' minds, but in the fans. Hope you like the weasel ears poppin' on your head, Fred.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Musical Interlude: Modern Girl (1984-5)

Meat Loaf is better known for hits like "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" & "Two out of Three Ain't Bad" from his 1977 album, "Bat Out of Hell", and to most people, he made a comeback at the end of the 80's with "Bat Out of Hell II". In truth, Meat Loaf released the album, "Bad Attitude", in 1984 overseas, before it reached American stores, where it ultimately landed in cutout bins (don't ask).

"Modern Girl", not to be confused with the Sheena Easton song of the same name from a few years earlier, was the second track on the album, and the lone video (that we know of). Mind the fact that the audio is a bit behind the video.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Jeff Conaway (1950-2011)

He was best known as cab driver Bobby Wheeler on Taxi during its first 3 seasons, and as Kenickie, Danny Zuko's best pal in the feature film adaptation of "Grease". Today, Hollywood mourns the passing of actor Jeff Conaway at 60.

Today's generation probably only knows Conaway from what they've read in the papers about his battles with substance abuse, made public during a stint on VH1's Celebrity Rehab. Post-Taxi, Conaway returned to television with a brief run on the soap, The Bold & the Beautiful, in 1989, then tried science fiction by joining the cast of Babylon 5. Conaway had lapsed into a coma a few days ago, and almost immediately, one of the tabloids declared him brain dead, claiming that "Grease" co-star John Travolta had tried to help him, but failed. Premature declaration? Of course. It was only yesterday that the actor's family had chosen to take him off life support.

Rest in peace, Jeff. You will be missed.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Musical Interlude: Learn to Fly (1999)

Foo Fighters brought the funny with this video for "Learn to Fly", the 1st single from their 1999 CD, "There is Nothing Left to Lose". All 3 band members play multiple characters, most notably singer Dave Grohl, who plays 2 women, a pilot, and a swishy male flight attendant.

Framing the clip is a storyline involving Tenacious D (Kyle Gass & Jack Black) as drug smugglers posing as airline maintenance. And this was before Black ("Kung Fu Panda", "Gulliver's Travels") really hit it big. From the band's VEVO channel......

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Armageddon isn't ready yet.......

Undaunted by failure, or perhaps unable to ascertain that his theory holds no more water than a leaky bucket, California radio evangelist Harold Camping, 89, is now claiming that the world will end on October 21, claiming that his earlier forecast of May 21 was off by 5 months.

While we still don't know how Camping has come to his conclusions in the first place, we do know that October 21, a Friday, won't be the day of the Rapture. Only God knows when that will happen.

In unrelated news (sort of), comedienne Lisa Lampanelli made news the other night at a tour stop in Kansas. Ms. Lampanelli promised to donate $1,000 for every Westboro Baptist Church parishoner who protested at her show to a gay-rights charity. By the time the night was over, $50,000 was donated to the charity, a bit of an in-your-face to Rev. Fred Phelps and his haterizers.

Maybe, for his next stunt, Rev. Phelps can make a bet with Camping about when the world will really end, and whether or not Phelps will be taken to Heaven......

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Weasels of the Week: "Armageddonists"

Back in January, radio evangelist Harold Camping, based out of California, made the bold claim that the Rapture foretold in the Book of Revelation would take place on this day. Fellow blogger Sam Wilson took note of this over at the Think 3 Institute on January 3, and I responded to his post then by noting that Camping and his followers were off base.

During the week, the press picked up on the story, but, judging from the letters pages in the New York Daily News, few were really buying into Camping's prediction. After all, he'd similarly declared the Rapture would take place 17 years ago, and of course it didn't.

How Camping even came to any sort of conclusion about the Rapture is an even bigger mystery. Allow me, however, to quote from the Gospel according to St. Matthew, chapter 24, verses 32-36. Jesus is teaching a parable to his disciples.

"Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:

So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.

Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

Heaven and Earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of Heaven, but my Father only."

From the King James Version.

More than one reader of the Daily News referenced the last verse in their letters after reading the articles and interviews with Camping's followers. The Pastor at my church never once discussed this matter with our congregation, perhaps deeming it unnecessary.

Only God knows when the Rapture will happen. Will it be in our lifetime? We do not know for sure. Harold Camping and his followers thought they did, and thus are bestowed weasel ears for misreading the scriptures, and misleading the public.

Friday, May 20, 2011

"Macho Man" Randy Savage (1952-2011)

My Long Island pen pal tipped me via e-mail earlier today. Since said pen pal is factually challenged a large amount of the time, I had to do some fact checking myself, and got the proof from Yahoo!.

Wrestling icon "Macho Man" Randy Savage passed away earlier today as the result of a heart attack while driving with his new wife, Lynn. Savage lost control of the car as a result of the heart attack, and crashed into a tree. An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow, which may reveal a lot more than just the heart attack.

Savage, nee Randall Poffo, went into pro wrestling after a shoulder injury cut short his baseball career. Savage was a catcher in the minor league chains for the Cincinnati Reds & Chicago White Sox, among others, during the 70's. His big break came when he signed with the then-World Wrestling Federation in 1985, where he won the Intercontinental title and 3 WWF titles, the last coming in 1992. He also wrestled for TNA and World Championship Wrestling.

Aside from the ring, Savage ventured into acting, appearing in "Spider-Man" and a number of cartoons, including guest appearances on Family Guy, Dial M For Monkey, & Space Ghost Coast-to Coast. However, most people will remember him as a long-time pitchman for Slim Jim beef snacks. Here, in tribute to the "Macho Man", is a classic Slim Jim commercial:

Savage also took a chance on music, and cut a rap album in the 90's, largely because he couldn't sing. Then again, long-time rival/frenemy Hulk Hogan can't carry a tune, either, but that's another story for another time, brother.

Rest in peace, Randy.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Free Comic Book Day 2011--a review

It's been over a week since Free Comic Book Day, so I'm finally going to review what I picked up this year:

Darkwing Duck/Chip 'N' Dale's Rescue Rangers: One of three flip books I snagged, this one comes from Boom! Studios' Kaboom! imprint. Based on the popular Disney Afternoon series from the 80's.

The Rescue Rangers half is a preview of a graphic novel due next month. Some very old business comes back to haunt Monterey Jack, and we learn a little something about Gadget's upbringing. Great fun. Now, if Disney could be convinced to revive the TV show.....! As for Darkwing Duck, apparently, nothing is as it seems. Darkwing appears to be retired, and as Drake Mallard, is working for Quackwerks, which has created a robot police force. Funny thing is, one of Darkwing's old foes is also a Quackwerks employee. When the robocops go haywire, well.....!

Rating: A.

Inspector Gadget/Johnny Test: Viper Comics has obtained licenses for both series. Seems that Cookie Jar, which bought out DIC a couple of years back, acquired Gadget from Disney. Didn't even know about that. Anyway, Gadget plays out just like the TV show, although the only gripe is that most of the panels are printed a wee bit too small. The hometown paper recently experimented with smaller print, and got some negative feedback from readers rather quickly. The same, I think, could hold true here, unless it turns out to be a printers' error at Viper. As for Johnny Test, it's worse. It's a little too stiff. By the way, this ain't a flip book. Gadget leads off, followed by Test, and in this case, to paraphrase Reese's, these two great tastes don't go great together.

Rating: C.

Geronimo Stilton/Smurfs: I am not familiar with Stilton. Then again, I'm not the target audience. Papercutz has published a series of Stilton graphic novels, and "Dinosaurs in Action" is a preview of the next one in the series. A Smurfs strip runs across the bottom of the page leading into the backup feature, "The Smurf Submarine". Yes, Papercutz has done Smurfs graphic novels, too, the first time the little blue people have been in American comics since a short-lived run at Marvel in the 80's. It helps, of course, that Papercutz editor Jim Salicrup is a former Marvel editor. With the feature film due later this year, this will give fans a warm-up.

Rating: A.

Young Justice/Batman: Brave & the Bold Super Sampler: If you follow either series on Cartoon Network, you're already ahead of the game. 1st of 2 FCBD entries from DC, and it's a mixed bag. Young Justice battles the Psycho Pirate, a long time DC villain who hasn't been seen in a while. Meanwhile, Batman lends Flash a helping hand in Central City when Bruce Wayne is supposed to be hosting a party back in Gotham City. Of course you know that on Brave & the Bold, we never see Batman as Bruce. Good, clean fun.

Rating: A.

Green Lantern Special Edition: The other DC item reprints a portion of a recent Green Lantern miniseries as part of the run-up to the feature film starring Ryan Reynolds, opening next month. Also included is a preview of the Flashpoint miniseries, the first issue of which is out now. If you're a fan of parallel universes or alternate timelines, this may just be your speed. Literally.

Rating: A-.

Captain America & Thor: The Mighty Fighting Avengers: 1st of 2 from Marvel. I get that the artist, Chris Samnee, was looking for a Golden Age style vibe, but it is a little discomforting and disconcerting to modern readers unaccustomed to such. I'm guessing Samnee might've been influenced by Cap's co-creator, the inestimable Jack Kirby, but it wouldn't have hurt to change things up for the scenes in the present day with Thor and his girlfriend, Jane Foster (which follows the continuity of the movie, oh by the way).

Rating: B-.

Richie Rich/Kung Fu Panda: I told you when I reviewed Richie Rich's 1980 cartoon show in Saturday Morning Archives a while back that Richie would be returning to comics this year, and he's back with a vengeance. Ape Entertainment's Kidzoic imprint has given Richie a 21st century makeover. No using the Harvey Comics designs of yore. Richie looks like a regular kid. Girlfriend Gloria Glad has gone from blonde to redhead. Irona has been given a complete reboot, no longer just a domestic robot. Cadbury has been buffed up into a he-man dishing out cans o' whoopin' to the bad guys, in this case some robots. An old foe of Richie's Dr. N-R-G, has also been rebooted. Back in the day, he had a light-bulb mask that completely concealed his face. Here, it's a helmet, revealing the demented Dr. Phil Lament (Filament? Get it?). Long story short, Richie MacGyvers a solution to beating Lament. The first issue of the new series is out presently as well.

With "Kung Fu Panda 2" due in time for Memorial Day, Po returns in an all-new adventure to whet your appetite for the movie on the flip side of the book.

Rating: A.

Amazing Spider-Man: Marvel's other entry gets readers ready for the series' summer event. Considering what editorial has done to the webhead in recent years, this may actually be a step forward. I'll stick to the newspaper strip, although sometimes I wonder if Stan Lee should pack his typewriter away.....!

Rating: B.

Classic Comic Strip Action & Adventure/Blondie: IDW is doing reprint collections of classic newspaper strips like Secret Agent Corrigan & Rip Kirby, strips that the hometown paper didn't feature when I was a wee lad. You can also sample some Golden Age Blondie, as well as Al Capp's seminal L'il Abner. Methinks I may be clearing some bookshelf space this summer.....!

Rating: A.

Friday, May 13, 2011

O Blogger, Where Wert Thou?

A routine maintenance check goes awry, and countless messages that were posted across the blogoverse on Thursday were erased. Such was the chaos that encountered when it was forced to shut down for nearly a full day after an unforeseen glitch turned up during said maintenance check on Wednesday night.

To be honest, I only realized what was going on after reading a message from Sam Wilson over at The Think 3 Institute earlier this afternoon. He says that Blogger is promising to restore any and all postings that were deleted on Thursday, but it's really a question of exactly when that'll happen. Not everything will return immediately, of course, as they have about a zillion blogs to address.

Did any of us know about the site maintenance? No, actually. I was online on Wednesday night, but at no time did I see a message from Blogger stating they'd be doing site maintenance. It's not like they were anticipating anything like this happening, because, for all we know, they weren't. That said, this was the first time that it has happened that anyone knows of. Accidents will happen, and the glitch likely was one of those things, so, rather than raise cain when it isn't necessary, we will simply move on.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bill Gallo (1922-2011)

If you've read the New York Daily News over the years, chances are you've run across the artwork of sports cartoonist/columnist Bill Gallo, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 88 after a lengthy illness.

Gallo famously characterized the late Yankee owner George Steinbrenner as a Prussian officer named General Von Steingrabber, because Steinbrenner was forever grabbing back page headlines. He once drew an out-of-shape Muhammad Ali pushing a wheelbarrow to balance his exaggerated belly. Ali used that as a motivational tool for a fight vs. Larry Holmes. Gallo also created the everykid, Yuchie, who represented the younger sports fan, and Basement Bertha, a symbol of the bleaker years of the Mets.

Gallo also covered boxing for the Daily News for several years before passing that baton to other writers. On Sundays, he'd write a column that would appear under one of his famous cartoons, often writing from personal experiences, such as his service in the Marine Corps during World War II.

On Wednesday, the Yankees paid tribute to Gallo with a moment of silent prayer prior to their game vs. Kansas City. The Steinbrenner family had held Gallo in high esteem through the years, proving that George did have a sense of humor after all, to laugh at his own alter-ego. Today, Heaven is getting a new portrait artist, 10 months after George Steinbrenner passed away.

Rest in peace, Bill. You'll be missed.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

In Theatres: Thor (2011)

The run-up to next year's "The Avengers" continues with "Thor", which boasts two Oscar winners in its ensemble cast supporting newcomer Chris Hemsworth as the Thunder God.

Thor (Hemsworth) is banished from Asgard by his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins, "Silence of the Lambs") after he defies the Allfather and breaks the truce between Asgard and the home of the Frost Giants. Stripped of his powers, Thor crashes---literally---in a small New Mexico town, his landing buffeted by a collision with an SUV driven by scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman, a recent winner for "Black Swan"). Mjolnir, the mystic hammer of Thor, has drawn the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D., which cordons off the entire area. Learning of its location, Thor seeks to retrieve his weapon, only to discover that even he cannot lift it, as Odin no longer deems him worthy to wield it. For now.

Meanwhile, back on Asgard, Loki, Thor's half-brother, learns of his true origins, as Odin had taken him from the Frost Giants when he was a baby. Thus, Loki schemes to overthrow Odin and rule Asgard himself. Fate intervenes during an argument between the two, when Odin collapses into the Odinsleep, which could take forever before he awakens. Forever, of course, could be all the time Loki needs.

However, Sif & the Warriors Three (Fandral, Hogun, & Volstagg), in defiance of acting monarch Loki, decide to travel to Earth themselves to retrieve Thor. Loki had told his half brother that Odin had died, a little white lie to be sure, but enough to convince Thor not to consider returning home. The by-play between the two half-sibs will remind some of the interplay between Lex Luthor & Clark Kent during the early years of Smallville, at least in this writer's opinion. In response, Loki sends the Destroyer to eliminate Thor once and for all. Thor opts to take steps to evacuate the people of the town and get them out of harm's way, and that act of selflessness is enough, once Odin awakens, to reunite Mjolnir with Thor, and even the odds.

Inevitably, romance blossoms between Thor & Jane, but after a final battle with Loki, the rainbow bridge of Asgard is shattered, seemingly beyond repair---at least until "The Avengers"---and that forces Thor to keep tabs on his new-found beloved from high above.

One more link to the "Avengers" surfaces in the form of S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), whom comics fans know as Hawkeye. Fans of the current Avengers cartoon on DisneyXD know that Barton eventually left S.H.I.E.L.D. to go freelance and eventually join with Earth's Mightiest Heroes, and that plotline will likely be replicated in the movie.

I saw the movie in 3D, my first ever experience with a 3D film, and, well, it wasn't anything special. Sad to say, but the theatre where I saw "Thor" had a little problem with their remote projector, such that when it was time for the post-credit teaser to lead into July's "Captain America: The First Avenger", the projector shut off, denying the few of us that were in the theatre (and I mean that literally; there were just 7 of us in the theatre) the next links in the chain, if you will.

There are going to be those who will accuse the venerable Hopkins of phoning it in, something that he's been accused of doing ever since he completed the Hannibal Lecter series of films, but that isn't the case here. Hopkins fits in perfectly, though Rene Russo ("Lethal Weapon 3") isn't given much to do as Odin's wife, Frigga. Ray Stevenson ("Punisher War Zone", "The Other Guys") is totally unrecognizable, buried under a fat suit and makeup as Volstagg. Idris Elba (ex-The Wire) is understated and effective as Heimdall, the guardian of the rainbow bridge, and will likely return.

Of course, the fanboys will try to rate this in line with the two "Iron Man" movies, but I disagree. I rate it below those films and "Incredible Hulk". For Chris Hemsworth, the true litmus test comes in "Avengers", where he'll rub shoulders with Hulk (to be played by Mark Ruffalo) & Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) as well as Capt. America (Chris Evans, "Fantastic Four"). Will there be a "Thor 2"? I wouldn't be at all surprised. After all, there is a love story to be told.......

Here's the trailer:

Rating: B-.

What were they thinking?

"The best laid plans of mice & men often go astray."---Robert Burns

The WWE had a feel-good story unfold over the last month after Edge (Adam Copeland) was forced to retire after 13 years on the active roster due to spinal injuries related to a neck injury he sustained 8 years ago. His former tag team partner and best friend, Christian (Jason Reso), defeated Alberto Del Rio to win the WWE World title at Extreme Rules on May 1. Heck, the creative team had the first feud for the title lined up for Christian in the form of 1996 Olympian Mark Henry, who had turned heel on Monday Night Raw mere days before the PPV. All they had to do was connect the dots.

Vince McMahon, unfortunately, had other ideas. It came out in the wash following the taping for the May 6 episode of Friday Night Smackdown that regardless of who won the title at the PPV, be it Christian or Del Rio, Randy Orton, who had been drafted to Smackdown, was the next in line for the title. The oh-so-inspiring story of Christian becoming World champion didn't matter to McMahon, whom internet scribes say never really took much of a shine to Christian in the first place, and never saw him as "main event material". Oh, please, give me a break! The internet fans can see where this is going, with the prospect of Christian turning heel himself. In all honesty, if McMahon wants to do right by his audience for once, he can avoid doing the predictable, and set things right. He won't, of course. His selfish, myopic vision won't allow it. His loss, as usual.

That wasn't the only head-scratching decision I encountered on the tube last week.

Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated has had a bad case of rerunitis on Cartoon Network all winter, and some sources claim that there was a contract dispute (what a shock) between the network and corporate sibling Warner Brothers Animation, which produces the series, which caused a delay. In the meantime, audiences outside the US were seeing new episodes up to two months ahead of us. While there has existed an internal feud within Time-Warner between CN/Boomerang and WBA over the last few years, according to reports, the viewers are the ones who have to suffer the most, just like in the labor disputes in sports.

Anyway, SD:MI writer-producer Mitch Watson didn't do his homework in preparing the episode, "Mystery Solvers Club State Finals", which had its American premiere on May 3. Watson used an old plot device made popular by Sherwood Schwartz on Gilligan's Island back in the day, and built the episode around a fevered dream that Scooby (Frank Welker) was having while fighting off the effects of the flu.

In that dream, Scooby teamed with the Funky Phantom, Captain Caveman, Jabberjaw, & Speed Buggy, along with Angel Dynamite, the Crystal Cove DJ who's been aiding the MI team so far, to battle Infernicus. As it turned out, Infernicus was in fact the Phantom himself, who would then reveal that Jonathan Muddlemore wasn't a ghost after all, but an out-of-work actor pretending to be one, which renders the 1971 Funky Phantom series rather obsolete. And therein lies the problem.

This is Funky Phantom's 40th anniversary, and how do they mark it? By completely deconstructing the character such that his whole existence is now irrelevant. It is an insult to any fan that actually cared about the series during its initial run in 1971. Yeah, it was a cookie cutter comedy-mystery in the mold of the original Scooby-Doo series, but it has also languished in CN's vaults all these years, ignored when it could've gotten some use, especially around Halloween. I am reminded of one of CN's lamest stunts of all time, a parody of the "Blair Witch Project", "The Scooby-Doo Project", which was a Halloween stunt in 1999, which, if used right, would've led to the CN debut of the 2nd Scooby DTV, "Scooby-Doo & the Witch's Ghost".

If CN's programmers had any sense, they'd have put Scooby on the shelf for about a month to sell the "Project", and subbed in Phantom and other series. Instead, being obsessed with Scooby as they were, they stayed the course, and refused to give the other shows a chance. Nearly 12 years later, they perpetuated that mistake by deconstructing the Phantom. Then again, [adult swim] has made a habit of warping Hanna-Barbera characters for their own twisted needs (i.e. turning Birdman into a lawyer and Mightor into a judge), showing not a whit of respect to the fans of the older shows. What it tells me is that the staff at CN, and this includes [as], while they may profess to have an appreciation for what came before them, they have an odd way of showing it. I'm sorry, but that snarky, so-called "attitude" went out with the last century.

The common thread? Vince McMahon routinely underestimates the intelligence of his audience. He still believes they have a "sound-byte mentality" and will forget things rather quickly. That's not entirely true. CN's staff of court-jester-wannabes don't seem to realize that their target demographic isn't confined to tweens, teens, & young adults. It expands to include older people who can fondly recall their favorite cartoons from their youth. I'd say the demographic range actually goes from 5-55, regardless of what they think to the contrary.

To paraphrase George Santayana, those who fail to research the characters they use, fail their audience. A hard lesson that apparently is harder to even learn.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Musical Interlude: Land of 1,000 Dances (1982)

"Land of 1,000 Dances" may be more closely associated with Wilson Pickett and the lesser known Cannibal & the Headhunters dating back to the 60's, and Pickett would revisit it in the late 80's on the soundtrack to "The Great Outdoors", joining forces with Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd). However, the J. Geils Band included "Land" on their 1982 live album, "Showtime". Vince McMahon's comical parody-cover, using a number of his wrestlers 3 years later, went off the sheet a wee bit too early by design. However, Geils' lead singer, Peter Wolf, plays it straight from start to finish.

The video comes courtesy of EMI Records' channel on YouTube:

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Jackie Cooper (1922-2011)

He was the youngest actor ever nominated for an Academy Award at age 9, and made a successful transition from acting to directing, beginning in the 50's. On Wednesday, Hollywood mourned the loss of actor-filmmaker Jackie Cooper at 88.

Cooper earned his Oscar nomination for his role in "Skippy", and went on to star in films such as "The Champ" & "Treasure Island". Cooper was also a cast member of Hal Roach's Our Gang shorts, making his debut in "Boxing Gloves".

Television gave Cooper the opportunity to try his hand at directing, which he did first with his own series, Hennessey, and also a number of episodes of other series, most notably M*A*S*H, as well as TV-movies, such as 1985's "Izzy & Moe", which reunited Honeymooners icons Jackie Gleason & Art Carney.

Cooper returned to movies in 1978, cast as newspaper editor Perry White in "Superman", and appeared in the three succeeding sequels.

Rest in peace, Jackie, you'll be missed.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Where were you when you got the news.....?

The capture and execution of Osama bin Laden on Sunday may have been a triumph for our military, but it was also a godsend for editors of newspapers such as the New York Daily News, which now can lead with stories on bin Laden for a few more days.

But, to the question at hand. Where were you when you learned of bin Laden's death?

For this writer, I was stretched out on my sofa, trying to stay awake during the Mets-Phillies game on ESPN. Play-by-play announcer Dan Schulman spoke to the television audience and said that there was some "breaking news", and invited viewers to flip over to ABC (ESPN's corporate cousin) if they were so inclined. Mere moments later, a chant of "USA! USA! USA!" broke out at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, as word spread like wildfire.

There are people already predicting that President Obama will earn a 2nd term in office next year as a result. Problem is, a lot can happen between now and then. Worse, you can believe that there are forces in Al-Qaeda looking to fill the power vacuum left by bin Laden's passing, and carry on his mission of hate against our country. Long story short, while we've cut off the head, shall we say, the body isn't ready to follow.

Instead, Al-Qaeda can be considered a real-life Hydra. Like the mythical serpent, if you cut off one head, two or more will take its place, ensuring that the battle will rage on.

Interestingly, the WWE found a creative way to reference the death of bin Laden. Newly crowned champion John Cena addressed the fans after the Extreme Rules pay per view had ended, and told the audience that bin Laden had been captured and "compromised to a permanent end". With a lot of children in the audience, WWE didn't want to use the word "kill" and frighten the young ones. That's understandable. It also made the next night's Monday Night Raw even more eventful. They'd already scheduled a birthday party for former champion turned actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson ("Fast Five"), and now there was another reason to celebrate. They had Johnson lead the audience in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance after former ring announcer Lillian Garcia, visiting for the evening, sang the National Anthem. If anything, for all of his faults, Vince McMahon is a bit of a jingoistic patriot.

I've read comments from a number of people the last two days that stated they were afraid of possible reprisals. Again, it's understandable. Some of those same people want our troops to finally come home, and that may yet happen. That's still the President's call to make. Still, as a nation we cannot let our guard down just because bin Laden's gone. It's still a long way to September........