Thursday, September 29, 2011

And now, the silly season begins

For the first time, Major League Baseball ended its regular season in the middle of the week, with most of the season finales played under the lights on Wednesday. To traditionalists, it's another black mark on the resume of MLB's dumber-than-a-doorknob commissioner, Allan "Bud" Selig. While the New York Mets wrapped their season with a matinee that offered temptations of playing hooky from school and/or work, the most important matchups were played at night and given maximum television coverage.

Now, the field is set, and the Division Series begin tomorrow. Let's set the table.....

American League:

Detroit at New York: The Eastern Division champion Yankees have injury issues. Alex Rodriguez sat out Wednesday's finale vs. Tampa Bay with a sore knee, not to mention a broken heart, with recent reports of a split with actress Cameron Diaz. Backup catcher Francisco Cervelli has a concussion and probably is done for the season. And, then, you have the case of pitcher AJ Burnett, in his 3rd season with the Yanks, and trying to recover from last year's meltdown. Let's face it, Burnett is showing his age more than his teammates are. Game 1 sees likely Cy Young winner Justin Verlander matched with CC Sabathia. Game 2 on Saturday has Rick Porcello vs. rookie phenom Ivan Nova. Beyond that, it's a toss-up. The Tigers have recovered from getting smacked two out of three by the Mets back in June (Verlander prevented the sweep), and would be happy to play game 3 in Detroit on Monday with series even at a game apiece. Remember that Sabathia is not a lock in the postseason, as was shown in '08 with Milwaukee. While network executives would love to see the Yankees advance, that would only merit a collective yawn. Like, dullsville. The Bombers don't want to see Verlander twice in a short series, but they will, and it will cost them. Upset special: Tigers in 5.

Tampa Bay at Texas: The Rays are this year's Kardiac Kids. They opened the season 1-8, and weathered the storm of Manny Ramirez's abrupt retirement before the first month was over. They came back from a 7-0 deficit to beat the Yankees Wednesday night to claim the final AL spot after Boston completed an epic collapse in losing to Baltimore. The Rays, simply put, are hot. The Rangers, for all intents & purposes, have the same cast as last year's World Series runner-up, plus Adrian Beltre. However, at this time of year, you go with the hotter hand, so........Tampa Bay in 4.

National League:

St. Louis at Philadelphia: Notice how all the talk has quieted about whether or not this is Albert Pujols' last season in St. Louis? Now, the speculation is on manager Tony LaRussa, who could also be leaving. The New York Daily News had an article earlier this week suggesting LaRussa could return to the Chicago White Sox, who gave him his first managerial gig in the bigs, after the ChiSox let Ozzie Guillen go to Florida.  The more damaging blow, of course, would be Pujols, because he is the center of their offense. St. Louis has some pitching, but not enough to match the Phillies. I lost respect for Philadelphia 2 years ago when they let a punk with a laser pen escape after he nearly blinded Pujols on national television. I would love it if St. Louis could pull off the upset, but it ain't happening. Phillies in 4.

Arizona at Milwaukee: Diamondbacks skipper Kirk Gibson was a World Series hero in 1988 with the Dodgers, and now he's infused that same never-say-die mentality with Arizona in his first full season as manager. However, aside from Justin Upton, the D-Backs don't really have a big name on offense. They do have a Cy Young contender in ex-Yankee Ian Kennedy, though, and ex-Met JJ Putz is their closer. It's been 10 years since the D-Backs, behind the two-headed monster of Curt Schilling & Randy Johnson, upset the Yankees to win their only World Series. Milwaukee has pitching to match Arizona, and more offense. Besides, they wouldn't mind collecting a major receipt from Philadelphia for ousting them 3 years ago. Brewers in 4.

Of course, I could be wrong.......

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Monday Night Raw: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly, 9/26/11

It's been a couple of years since I've done this, but after I resigned from last weekend, I resolved that I would start doing reviews of WWE programming in this space.

Monday Night Raw Supershow is in Kansas City this week. Amazingly, no one took a shot at the luckless Chiefs, who opened the NFL season at 0-3 after winning the AFC West last year.

Triple H, the "Chief Operating Officer", opens the show. Footage is played of Miz & R-Truth cutting a promo following the Night of Champions PPV on 9/18, and, then, the lame, insincere apology for referee abuse in that same PPV, given directly to Triple H the next night. HHH fired them anyway, so the "$250,000" fines handed to them were just a harbinger of things to come. World champion Mark Henry was also hit with a similar fine for his abusive actions toward announcers Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler on last week's show. Lawler is in absentia, with Booker T moving over from Friday Night Smackdown to fill in. More on him later.

A parade of crybaby heels began with US Champion Dolph Ziggler and his valet, Vickie Guerrero, whose lack of entrance music and stale gimmick make her ripe for reassignment, even if management doesn't see it. Ziggler got some publicity from his match vs. Zack Ryder last week after actor Hugh Jackman, acting as a guest cornerman for Ryder, clocked the arrogant Ziggler after Guerrero was ejected for interference. Intercontinental champion Cody Rhodes, the WWE's answer to the Phantom of the Opera, was next, followed by Christian, who has been saddled with a whiner gimmick again.

The following matches were made:

1. Christian has a gauntlet to run through over the next week, starting with John Cena, followed by Randy Orton on Smackdown, and Sheamus at Hell in a Cell on Sunday.

2. Ziggler defends vs. Ryder.

3. Rhodes' arrogant smack talk gets him a IC title defense in a battle royal, which is our first match.

Rhodes won thanks to Christian interfering with Sheamus and the use of his protective faceguard, which he really no longer needs, an example of the creative team riding a gimmick far past its expiration point.

Beth Phoenix & Natalya Niedhart defeated Divas champ Kelly Kelly & Eve Torres in a return from last week, with Phoenix earning another title match vs. Kelly by pinning the champ with the Glam Slam.

World champ Mark Henry's match vs. Great Khali never started because Henry ambushed Khali before the bell with a belt shot and the World's Strongest Slam.

WWE Champ John Cena came out and cut a promo putting over the Hell in a Cell three way vs. CM Punk & Alberto Del Rio. The challengers would join the announce team in short order while Cena faced off with Christian. Cena won when Del Rio attacked, leading to a DQ. Bad idea here, as it devalues all concerned. Punk made the save, this despite Christian being tossed to the announce table, raising Punk's ire.

Ziggler needed a distraction from Guerrero and interference from Jack Swagger to beat Ryder, but the post-match double-team on Ryder led to the tag champs, "Air Boom" (Kofi Kingston & Evan Bourne) rescuing Ryder. Smackdown GM Theodore Long then made it a 6-man tag, daring the heels to find a partner. That partner was presumed to be Mason Ryan, just back from the disabled list, but, at a critical juncture, Ryan turned on Swagger & Ziggler and left Ziggler all alone for Ryder to collect an immediate receipt. A US title do-over is likely now for Sunday, though one hasn't been announced yet.

Punk defeated Del Rio by pin after a crescent kick to the back of the head. Cena was on commentary, and Punk served a receipt by tossing Del Rio to the announce desk. The camera missed Del Rio's houseboy/ring announcer, Ricardo Rodriguez, the love child of Wayne Newton & Desi Arnaz, attacking Punk after, but Cena prevented him from escaping, trapping the hapless Rodriguez in the cell as it was lowered to the floor. Punk & Cena hit their finishers on Rodriguez in succession, but Del Rio laid them both out with chair shots to end the show.

Meanwhile, Triple H's problems will continue as former tag champ David Otunga met first with VP/Talent Relations John Lauranitis, then convened a meeting of Ziggler, Rhodes, Christian, & Guerrero to discuss the prospect of a lawsuit, charging unsafe working conditions. So Otunga is now being repackaged as a locker room lawyer. He does own a degree from Harvard Law School, but all roads in this angle obviously lead to the return of CEO/Chairman Vince McMahon, before the end of the year. And that is a mistake that shouldn't happen.

McMahon's been down this road before, using others to sabotage someone's administration. Did it to his own daughter, Stephanie, on Smackdown 8 years ago, and the only ones in this drama who were around then are Cena, HHH, & Christian, and of those three, only Cena was a Smackdown regular at the time. HHH, of course, reaped the benefits, as he & Stephanie were wed after she was written off television. Because McMahon believes the general audience won't remember that, he won't allow it to be referenced, but he should. It's plot holes like that one that insult the viewers' intelligence, but then again, McMahon's been doing that for years.

Bottom line is, nothing good can come out of this angle. It never does.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Musical Interlude: Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (1985)

The following video also appears on my other blog, Saturday Morning Archives, as it was taken from Live Aid, which took place on a Saturday in July, 1985. Crosby, Stills, & Nash originally recorded "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" around 1969 or so. The live performance clocks in at a shade past 8 minutes, slightly longer than the studio version. Uploaded by LiveAidVideo:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Weasel of the Week: Manny Ramirez

The season was not even a month old when Manny Ramirez decided to retire, all the better to avoid a 100 game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's anti-drug policy. He was awarded weasel ears then, and, guess what? He's picked up a second pair this week.

It got out in the press that Manny was expressing some interest in playing winter ball in his native Dominican Republic, I believe. Today, Yahoo! is reporting that Manny is ineligible for the winter league due to the simple fact that he never served his suspension. When I first read of his wanting to play this winter, I figured he was trying an end around, stupidly thinking that the winter season was exempt from MLB rules. It isn't. MLB and the Players Association wouldn't allow that to happen, perhaps fearful of the public relations nightmare that would surely follow if Ramirez were to play even an inning.

It's time to stop "Manny being Manny". If the man wants to play, he's got to do the time for his crime first. I doubt very seriously if he can land a gig in Japan next year, largely for the same reason. Basically, stick a fork in Manny, he's done, as long as he keeps trying to avoid acceptiing responsibility for his mistakes.

Forget Cooperstown. Manny needs to go back to school.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It's the end of their world, and they feel fine.

To borrow a line from Huey Lewis, the news that R. E. M. decided to disband today hit me like a hammer.

R. E. M. exploded onto the scene in the fall of 1983 with the album, "Murmur", which produced their first hit, "Radio Free Europe". However, 8 years later, "Losing My Religion" was in heavy airplay on MTV and radio, and the song netted the Georgia quartet a ton of awards. Through the years, the band has also featured various guests on their albums, including Kate Pierson of the B-52's, KRS-One (Boogie Down Productions), & Patti Smith, who sang with the band on "E-Bow The Letter", a haunting ballad that still resonates today, as does virtually all of the R. E. M. catalogue.

The band made its television debut not on MTV, but on Late Night With David Letterman in October of '83. Following is a clip from that broadcast, with Dave introducing the band, followed by a performance of "Radio Free Europe".

The end comes after 22 years with Warner Bros. Records, which had made some internal changes within the last year, and, while I can only speculate here, it may be a case of the label wanting to phase out the band in favor of a younger, fresher act, something that happens all the time in the music business. 31 years in the business overall, and they did it by their rules, leaving little, if any, room for compromise. If only today's generation of record executives could better respect that.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Celebrity Rock: In The Sun (2010)

Zooey Deschanel is one of Hollywood's new generation of "it girls", judging by some of the reviews I've read of films like "(500) Days of Summer" and "Yes Man". She's also a very talented singer-songwriter and one half of the duo, She & Him. With her new Fox series, New Girl, debuting tonight, I thought it'd be a good idea to showcase her talents as a singer and dancer. "In The Sun" is the first single from She & Him's 2nd CD, "Volume 2", released last year. Oh, by the way, Zooey joins her sister, Emily (Bones) on the Fox roster.

Now, I know there are a lot of guys who want to go back to school to find a girl like her, dancing in the hallway between classes..........

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Coolest Commercial of 2011

The AFLAC duck now has a sparring partner, if you will, in a pigeon representing "major medical". The result of these spots, the first without Gilbert Gottfried (ex-Saturday Night Live) as the voice of the duck, is the funniest ads of the year. The latest hit the air within the last couple of weeks, and includes a worm doing, well, the worm. You've got to see this for yourself, so I'll shut up and let the video play........

Friday, September 16, 2011

The lights aren't shining just yet.......

Tonight was supposed to be a big night for Troy High School. The football team, 2-0, was to rechristen their home field by playing under the lights for the first time in school history, following in the cleated footsteps of the University of Michigan, which similarly had their first night home game 6 nights ago, an edge-of-the-seat thriller that saw the Wolverines score the game winning touchdown with 2 seconds left to beat Notre Dame. Unfortunately for the Flying Horses and their supporters, they're on the road again.

The lights just aren't ready at Picken Field, and the delay likely can be traced to Tropical Storm Irene passing through the area a couple of weekends ago, pushing back construction of the light stands and the renovation of the field. Apparently, the field isn't ready for game use yet, else they'd simply move the game to a Saturday matinee, but instead, Troy will travel to Averill Park, and will have their October 7 game vs. cross-town rival Lansingburgh rescheduled as a home game in exchange. This information I obtained from a friend in my bowling league, who has a relative who is a student at Troy. If they can finish the construction by this time next week, the Horses will play their remaining 4 regular season games at home, vs. Glens Falls, Bishop Maginn, Lansingburgh, & Green Tech.

Had the lights been ready, the hometown paper would have probably had a feature article written for today's edition. Have to believe they're holding the press on that until they get confirmation from Troy High that the lights are in fact in place.

Chalk it up to some collateral damage from the storm that went under the radar. Literally.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

On The Air: Hulk Hogan's Micro Championship Wrestling (2011)

Three years ago, wrestling legend Hulk Hogan tried to teach a group of faded TV stars and athletes how to become wrestlers. However, Celebrity Championship Wrestling lasted just one season, its conclusion spoiled by the National Enquirer leaking the details of the finals before it aired in December 2008. As we know, NBA star and Hogan crony Dennis Rodman was crowned the lone CCW champion.

That ain't gonna happen this time. Journeyman wrestler-turned-promoter Johnny Attitude, who spent some time in WCW in the late 90's during Hogan's tenure there, reached out to his friend to lend a hand to his own promotion. Hulk Hogan's Micro Championship Wrestling, which bowed on TruTV Wednesday night, chronicles the struggles of Attitude's MCW promotion to get off the ground floor and hit the big time. With Hogan, and, by association, Eric Bischoff involved (Bischoff's production company produces the show), you'd think Spike TV, home to TNA, would've gotten first crack. However, CCW aired on Spike's corporate sibling CMT, and the ratings weren't as strong as they'd hoped. It must feel weird for anything associated with Hogan & Bischoff to surface on a Time Warner-owned channel, 10 years after WCW was sold to the WWE.

Edit: 10/28/15: MCW has shut down their YouTube channel, so we replaced the previous video with a match between Blixx & Justice.....

Aside from Hogan, there is a TNA connection. Meatball wrestled there in its early years. Justice is the son of the late midget grappler Cowboy Lane, so there is the legacy factor to consider. Nasty Boy Brian Knobbs was also a trainer for CCW and has been pals with Hogan for seemingly forever and a day, as Hogan himself would say. Sadly, no footage from the series opener has surfaced on YouTube yet, but there are matches, recorded as recently as last month, and I'll put those up, real soon. MCW has promise, but the late time slot (10 pm ET) is due to the coarse language and behavior. If this were on any other channel, like Spike, for example, the PTC would be all over these guys like a cheap suit.

MCW's reality show is meant to be a more grass-roots look at the struggles of breaking into the business, not quite unlike WWE's recently revived Tough Enough, and Knobbs is certainly no Bill DeMott or Steve Austin. The roster is already set, and will grow as we go along. Will it get past the first season? That's up to the viewers to decide.

Rating: A-.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Next thing you know, they'll outlaw the high five........

I realize I'm a little late to the party on this subject, but I meant to write about this sooner.

High school football season begins much earlier for some states, including Ohio, mostly because the "Friday Night Lights" will attract ESPN and/or Fox Sports Net. Too bad they never think of coming to upstate New York, but that's another story for another time. Anyway, on August 26, Walsh Jesuit defeated Louisville High on a last second field goal. That isn't at issue here, though. What is at issue is what happened before that game winning kick.

Louisville had just scored what they thought would've been a game winning touchdown pass, caught by Alex Schooley. Schooley and teammate Gavin Lovejoy met in the end zone and pointed up toward Heaven, a gesture that a lot of athletes make to thank God for granting them the ability to play the game. In this case, Schooley & Lovejoy were honoring a friend who'd passed away days before the game.

Out came the yellow flag. Louisville was cited for excessive celebration, a rule that has gotten out of control in college, and has led to the NFL being derided as the "No Fun League". Walsh Jesuit returned the ensuing kickoff all the way to the Louisville 29, and, less than 2 minutes of game time later, had won the game, 27-26.

When I first read this article two weeks ago, my first thought was to assign weasel ears to the referees, but they're just doing their jobs. The guidelines for excessive celebration cite players calling attention to themselves. Had the Louisville team come together to pay tribute as a team, not just two members of the team, the same thing would've happened. The tragedy was so recent, you'd think the game officials would've understood the meaning. You never read or hear about penalties for excessive celebrating in Section II.

Understandably, the fans were irate, feeling that their team got screwed seven ways to Sunday, just because the officials wouldn't relax the rules for this one case. Had the Louisville players met with the officials before the game to talk about it, maybe then things are different, but we don't know that for sure.

I've seen those penalties called in college games, and often at inopportune times. It's a judgment call that often lends itself to the officials being second-guessed and ripped by fans and media alike, but what can you do? You want them to call the game fairly and within the boundaries of the rulebook, but in cases like this, when you have players who want to honor a fallen friend, do you force them to the sideline for a private prayer?

Unfortunately, if you follow the letter of the law, according to the rulebook, you do. Sports are supposed to be fun as well as competitive. Just as unfortunate is how in cases like this, human emotion is slowly being outlawed on the field, and it shouldn't be.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Musical Interlude: Pop Goes the Weasel (1991)

3rd Bass' 3rd CD, "Derelicts of Dialect", produced this monster hit in the summer of '91.

"Pop Goes the Weasel" was the group's statement about the proliferation of hip-hop onto the pop charts, specifically the likes of Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer. They even recruited poet-musician-actor Henry Rollins to masquerade as Ice to get the point across. I am not sure if that is also MC Serch in drag as the teacher in the opening segment.

3rd Bass sampled Peter Gabriel's 1986 megahit, "Sledgehammer", and in the middle portion, you can see Pete Nice moving around with his throne, a riff on Depeche Mode's clip for "Enjoy The Silence", from a year earlier. Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" was also sampled.

In recent times, Nice left the music business, and, at last check, was running a sports card shop in Cooperstown. MC Serch has hosted a couple of reality competition shows for VH1. Man, it was good while it lasted.

Edit, 7/31/21: Found a fresh copy with the Rollins skit included:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Weasel of the Week: Bud Selig

Allan "Bud" Selig, commissioner of Major League Baseball, has heard the jokes about his former profession as a used car salesman many a time. Ever since he was appointed commissioner, he has been criticized for being slow to react on a number of issues, the implication being that he was, well, in over his head.

Today, on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York & Washington, all 30 teams wore special American flag patches on their uniforms, or other symbols to mark the occasion. The New York Mets, hosting the Chicago Cubs in the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game, wanted to wear the special caps that they'd requested 10 years ago to honor the New York Police & Fire Departments and Port Authority. Selig, speaking through former Mets & Yankees manager Joe Torre, now a VP/Baseball Operations for MLB, denied the request, citing the "unamity" of MLB policy regarding uniforms for today.

Unsurprisingly, that has caused some ill feelings with commentators online. While the Mets will respect MLB's mandates, they have taken some heat as well, as their detractors felt they cowed too easily, considering their city was the hardest hit and has been the epicenter of media attention this past week. Torre, himself a native New Yorker, got heat for being the messenger relaying Selig's ruling, but at the end of the day, the fault lies with Selig for making another boneheaded decision.

The game was originally marked on the calendar as a matinee, but MLB made the decision to move the game to ESPN's primetime berth some weeks back, and perhaps the anniversary was the motivating factor.  However, for Selig to turn around and decide that the Mets couldn't bring their tribute caps out of retirement, preferring they would conform with the rest of the teams, well, that has all the hallmarks of being a weasel, doesn't it? If you're going to pay tribute to the real heroes of NYC, 10 years later, why not go all the way? On Yahoo!, at least one person cited MLB's merchandising contract with New Era. That may be a minor factor at the end of the day, but when it comes to decisions like this, Selig has had his share of lemons, and this falls in with them.

Sounds of Praise: Better Than a Hallelujah (2011)

Amy Grant's latest hit single, "Better Than a Hallelujah", has gotten pretty heavy airplay on K-Love and other Christian music stations since its release earlier this year. Uploaded by EMI Records' VEVO Channel:

Cliff Robertson (1923-2011)

Academy Award winning actor Cliff Robertson passed away on Saturday at 88, two days after his birthday.

Audiences are familiar with Robertson mostly for three roles. One, he starred as John F. Kennedy in 1963's "P. T. 109", the first film to focus on an at-the-time sitting President. Two, just 5 years later, Robertson played the title role in "Charly", a feature film adaptation of Daniel Keyes' novel, "Flowers For Algernon". Robertson would win the Best Actor Oscar for his striking, stirring portrayal of a mentally challenged man who suddenly becomes a genius. Finally, he played Ben Parker in the first "Spider-Man" film in 2002. In the interim, Robertson had made a number of other films, and had done voice-overs for A T & T.

Television audiences might recall Robertson as the modern-day outlaw Shame, a sendup of "Shane", if you will, in a pair of guest appearances on Batman, with then-wife Dina Merrill appearing as his moll, Calamity Jan, in both stories.

A personal note. The only time I saw "Charly" was when it was playing in a theatre as a second or third run in the early 70's, and I was on a field trip to see this movie. Robertson was just amazing in this film.

Rest in peace, Cliff, and, thanks for the memories.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What are Troy Republicans afraid of?

On November 8, voters in my hometown of Troy will elect a new Mayor, as the current one, Republican Harry Tutunjian, will step down at the end of his term. Right now, it's a 3-way battle for the office, but the GOP wants to keep it a 2-horse race.

Earlier this week, Republican candidate Carmella Mantello, in her 2nd bid for the Mayor's office, filed suit against 3rd party candidate Jack Cox, Jr., alleging that some, if not all, of the signatures on the petition Cox submitted to be allowed on the ballot were invalid. On Friday, the suit was dismissed, but it is speculated that Mantello and the city GOP will appeal the ruling.

A number of years ago, Mantello made her first bid to become Mayor, but lost to Democrat Mark Pattison. This year, the GOP chose her to be their successor to Tutunjian. The Democrats initially responded with long-time Troy City Council President Clement Campana. Campana stepped down after the GOP raised a stink over a residency issue involving his father, so the Democrats selected Rensselaer County Legislator Lou Rosamilia, who is not a career politician, but was elected to the Legislature 2 years ago in his first bid for office. Rosamilia, a long-tenured educator at Hudson Valley Community College, welcomed Cox into the race, and didn't have a problem with the petition.

Cox and his father have had past run-ins with city officials, mostly over zoning violations in relation to their business in the North Central district. Therein lies the source of the GOP's concerns. Four years ago, another city business person, Elda Abate, made a similar move to enter the Mayor's race, and also had standing issues with city officials. Mrs. Abate was not a difference maker, however. There's no guarantee that Cox will be one, either, but his presence apparently scares the GOP, such that they had to resort to frivolous litigation to remove him from the race, wasting taxpayer money in the process. Their decision to challenge Cox in court over his candidacy, in truth, could cost Mantello the election.

What could be so wrong about 3rd party candidates, creating their own independent parties as they go, being given a fair and equal opportunity to run for public office at city level?  How about a fear of breaking the status quo? The GOP wants to hold on to the Mayor's office in Troy. The Democrats want it back after 8 years of GOP rule. Cox, if his platform is strong enough, could pull votes away from the "incumbent" GOP, and even from the Democrats. The best solution that exists before Election Day would be to have the three candidates meet for a debate. They did that in NYC last year, and it created a short-term cult favorite in Jimmy McMillian. Troy has plenty of venues to host a series of debates between now and November 8, and it allows the voters open access to all three candidates' platforms and issues. Those debates could go a long way toward deciding the election, rather than two months of mudslinging. However, we haven't heard peep one about a debate in any direction-----yet. Again, what could be so wrong?

Regardless of who wins, there will be a fresh voice in City Hall. If Mantello wins, she becomes the first female Mayor in the city's history. If Rosamilia wins, it won't be regarded as an upset, as some might have viewed it when he was elected to the Legislature in 2009. Cox would be the first 3rd party candidate to gain the office anywhere in the region in seemingly forever. Any way you look at it, it'll be the longest two months of the year.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Musical Interlude: Dani California (2006)

The Red Hot Chili Peppers take us on a time trip through musical history in this video for their 2006 hit, "Dani California". For what it's worth, the guys pay homage to Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Parliament, David Bowie, the Sex Pistols, Poison, the Misfits, & Nirvana before, ah, reverting to normal. Uploaded by----wait for it----RCHPtv:

Enough said.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

NFL 2011 forecast

After an unnecessary, over-long lockout, the NFL is back in business for the 2011 season. Now, I'm not an expert on these things, but let me take a crack at figuring out who is going to the postseason......

AFC East:

1. New England. I lost respect for the Patriots a while ago, well before the '07 imperfect season. Still, they may have just enough to hold off the Jets and finish at 11-5.

2. NY Jets. "Gang Green" will be a bridesmaid again with a wild card berth. 10-6.

3. Miami. Exit Ricky Williams, Chad Pennington, & Ronnie Brown. Enter Reggie Bush. Not enough for the playoffs. 8-8.

4. Buffalo. 20 years ago, they were relevant. They're still trying to live down losing 4 straight Super Bowls. 7-9.

AFC North:

1. Baltimore. The balance of power in the division officially shifts. 12-4.

2. Pittsburgh. Hines Ward won on Dancing With the Stars. The Steelers will be happy to be a wild card. 11-5.

3. Cleveland. One more step shy of the playoffs. 7-9.

4. Cincinnati. Chad Ochocinco is gone, Carson Palmer quit and took his brother with him. Marvin Lewis is likely next if the Bengals become the Bungles again. 6-10.

AFC South:

1. Indianapolis. So what if America's Favorite Hick, Peyton Manning, isn't playing in week 1? Kerry Collins knows how to take a team to the promised land. 11-5.

2. Houston. Way overdue, but not yet a primetime player. 8-8.

3. Tennessee. Jeff Fisher is gone. So is Vince Young. Matt Hasselbeck leads the offense, but where? 7-9.

4. Jacksonville. Dumping David Garrard was a mistake. Enough said. 5-11.

AFC West:

1. Kansas City. Last year wasn't a fluke. 10-6.

2. San Diego. The glory days are over with Darren Sproles having followed LaDainian Tomlinson & Shawne Merriman out of town. 9-7.

3. Denver. Not quite their turn. 7-9.

4. Oakland. Last year's 6-0 division record was a fluke. Back down to earth. 7-9.

NFC East:

1. Philadelphia. The Eagles' so-called "Dream Team" actually makes more sense than Miami's over-hyped NBA crew, who choked in the Finals. The Eagles have something the Heat and the Patriots don't. R-E-S-P-E-C-T! 13-3.

2. Dallas. At least their defense isn't a M*A*S*H unit. 10-6.

3. NY Giants. 2 key offensive weapons, gone. A shredded defense due to injuries. And Eli Manning thinks he's an elite QB? Methinks he may have been sniffing his Oreo cookies too much before eating. 9-7.

4. Washington. Daniel Snyder, do us a favor. Sell the team. 7-9.

NFC North:

1. Green Bay. It took Aaron Rodgers six seasons to formally become The Man in "Titletown". That ain't changing right away. 12-4.

2. Detroit. The Lions will follow the lead of the Tigers instead of the Pistons for a change. 10-6.

3. Minnesota. Donovan McNabb replaces Brett Favre, or whatever that was posing for a QB the last two years. 9-7.

4. Chicago. The division has passed them by. 8-8.

NFC South:

1. New Orleans. Reggie Bush fled for Miami. Darren Sproles comes in from San Diego. And the Saints drafted 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, the son of the former Giants star. Drew Brees remains the QB, and that may be enough. 11-5.

2. Atlanta. Never bet against Matt Ryan, especially at home. 11-5. (New Orleans wins the division based on tiebreakers)

3. Carolina. Heisman winner Cam Newton joins Jimmy Clausen at QB for the Panthers, but they're not yet ready to take the division. 7-9.

4. Tampa Bay. Too tough a division, and someone has to fill the basement. 7-9.

NFC West:

1. Arizona. Kevin Kolb takes over at QB, given a fair chance to prove he is a winner. 10-6.

2. Seattle. For Pete Carroll, year 2 is make-or-break. 8-8.

3. San Francisco. Close, but not yet. 7-9.

4. St. Louis. See San Francisco. 5-11.

Wild cards: AFC: Jets, Pittsburgh; NFC: Dallas, Atlanta.

Of course, I could be wrong.......!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The case of the rogue Ace in the deck

You can tell a lot of the time when the WWE's over-maligned creative staff paints themselves right into a corner and can't get out.

Case in point: With 12 days before the next pay-per-view, Night of Champions, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, aka Triple H (Paul LeVesque, who has a new movie, "Inside Out", opening in limited release this weekend), the current figurehead Chief Operating Officer, has put himself in a very difficult position. He will compete for the first time since Wrestlemania, back in April, vs. CM Punk, who is being posited as the company's new counter-culture anti-hero, this decade's version of Stone Cold Steve Austin. If Punk wins, Helmsley gives up being the COO after just 2 months on the job. Sounds easy, right? Wrong.

The original thinking was to match Punk with 52 year old Kevin Nash, who returned to the company in January after signing a "Legends" deal and made an appearance at the Royal Rumble. 7 months later, Nash cost Punk the WWE title at Summerslam after Punk beat John Cena, enabling Alberto Del Rio to cash in his Money in the Bank contract to claim the belt. However, with Nash's history of leg injuries, and having had more knee surgeries than about half the NFL, and fellow grappler Rey Mysterio, combined, Nash was scratched in favor of HHH, especially with Punk pushing the "Cerebral Assassin"'s buttons by dissing the COO's wife, Stephanie McMahon. Apparently, Punk never consulted the last guy to do that, Randy Orton.

Last night, on Monday Night Raw, Nash was "fired" by Triple H, but left the arena in the company of WWE Vice President of Talent Relations John Lauranitis, who has been a player in this drama as well. Lauranitis, you see, "signed" Nash to a "lucrative deal" some three weeks ago behind HHH's back, and the two cads scurried out of the arena like a couple of mice to plot their next move. Problem is, with the match a No-Disqualification bout, that next move seems rather obvious.

But what does Lauranitis gain from this? That's easy. Power, and plenty of it. Stephanie is his superior officer, but if HHH loses the COO's job, Lauranitis can easily be elevated over the golden couple and lord it over them and everyone else. You see, in his wrestling career, Lauranitis, as Johnny Ace, had to deal with the long shadow cast by his Hall of Fame brother, Joe, aka Animal of the Road Warriors. Johnny Ace enjoyed his greatest success in Japan, but has never received his just due from the critics here in America. He has been an executive with WWE for 10 years, and prior to that had the same gig in WCW. He's been Vince McMahon's hatchet man for a decade, and some wonder why he even landed that gig in the first place. I know I do. His mission now, as far as the viewers are concerned, is to eliminate Punk by any means necessary, but with something more valuable at stake, what's stopping him from screwing over Triple H?

Believe me, that is an option I don't even want to think about. Punk AND Helmsley are being played like a couple of fiddles, oblivious to the real threat in their midst. Count on this. Nash will be back at Night of Champions, to stab an old friend in the back. He goes back further with Lauranitis than he does with HHH, a fact that has yet to be acknowledged on television, another sign of creative incompetence. Those of us with long memories can connect the dots quicker than the writers can, which makes you wonder why these scribes are even working in WWE in the first place. I've already gone over that.

Bottom line: In order to save the WWE from ruin, it falls upon Triple H to beat CM Punk, not the other way around. And the sooner they realize this, the better!

On DVD: Dick Tracy, Detective (1946)

RKO Radio Pictures released 4 films based on the Dick Tracy newspaper strip over the course of a one year period (1946-7). "Dick Tracy, Detective" starts the series, with Morgan Conway in the title role.

Tracy goes after a serial killer named "Splitface", who had vowed to avenge himself on the jurors who put him in prison, a plot device that would be used again and again in other films in later years.

Mike Mazurki (Splitface), originally from Austria, emigrated to the US with his family at the age of 6, and spent most of his formative years in my home district. Mazurki would continue to appear in movies and TV, even appearing in a music video with Rod Stewart in the 80's ("Infatuation").

This was easily the best of the series, as the later installments were dumbed down for some reason, as future police Chief Pat Patten was made more of a comedy relief sidekick in the later films.

Rating: A.

Friday, September 2, 2011

He might not be a winner, but.......

I freely admit I don't watch much reality TV, including Dancing With The Stars. It just ain't my thing.

However, I do find it a bit disconcerting that there are a few people with their noses out of joint just because Chaz (formerly Chastity) Bono, the transgendered offspring of singer-actress Cher and the late Sonny Bono, is in the field for the fall season. Bono, who underwent the change from woman to man several months back, is paired with pro dancer Lacey Schwimmer, and, unsurprisingly, Schwimmer is going to bat for her newest protege. So is Cher.

It wouldn't surprise me in the least bit, though, if certain disreputable supermarket tabloids recycled the same, tired faux headlines about Dancing being rigged in order to cash in on the Bono controversy. They made the same accusations when Bristol Palin made her run to the finals despite being a consistent low scorer. They claimed her mother and the Tea Party stuffed the "ballot box", if you will, to ensure Palin would win, but as we all know, she didn't. In Bono's case, he's a work in progress, based on what I've read elsewhere. Schwimmer told that Bono is picking up the choreography, but has to work on his stamina. He'd need it if he does make a "miracle" run to the finals. Coming from a show business family, I'd say he has more than a puncher's chance of succeeding, and doesn't need any sort of scandal, however it is created, calling attention to him during the competition. Will he win? I don't think so. A top 5 finish seems likely, but that may be about as far as he goes.

And as for the haters, well, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't bother.