Saturday, October 31, 2015

Spook Rock: Fashion Zombies (2005)

Long before the Aquabats landed their now-defunct Saturday morning show on The Hub (now Discovery Family), the band were making hay on the indie scene.

My good friend Silverstar, who has contributed over at Saturday Morning Archives, posted this next item on Twinsanity, the site he shares with his twin brother, Goldstar. Funny how this never got any airplay in my neck of the woods, as "Fashion Zombies" is great music if you're looking for an alternative to the usual, traditional fare for tonight's Halloween parties.

Rock on!

Friday Night Lights: Queensbury @ Troy, the sequel, 10/30/15

When the 2015 season began, Troy High scored a mild upset, defeating defending Section II Class A champion Queensbury, 20-6, on September 4. Eight weeks later, the Spartans returned to Troy bent on revenge and a 3rd straight trip to the Class A Super Bowl.

In the first half of the game, it certainly looked like the Spartans' goals would be achieved. Star running back Brett Rodriguez scored three touchdowns, wrapped around a John Germinerio 1 yard run on 4th & goal for Troy, to give the guests a 24-8 halftime lead. Neither team has a reliable kicking game, it seems, as Queensbury opted to go for 2 after the first touchdown. What had the Troy faithful upset, however, wasn't so much the shoddy defensive play, but suspicions that the officials were favoring Queensbury. Proof of this came in the 2nd quarter, when a flag was dropped, presumably against Queensbury. Troy's Reid Crobok, who'd been  battling leg injuries all season, was helped off the field. His father, roaming the bleachers, was angry, accusing Queensbury players of deliberately injuring his son. The refs picked up the flag for no reason. Before the half was over, a second Troy player, Cam Ziter, was knocked from the game with what looked like an ankle or knee injury. On the other hand, Rodriguez's night was over by halftime due to an ankle injury. Karmic justice, perhaps?

In the 3rd, Queensbury took the opening kickoff, and freshman running back Brandon Scott, newly added to the team, broke off a big touchdown run to extend the lead to 30-8. It didn't matter who was carrying the ball for the Spartans, be it Rodriguez, Scott, Jared Bruno, or quarterback Kevin Collins. Troy had trouble again stopping the run.

But, back came the Flying Horses, riding their senior star, Damani Soares, who scored 3 touchdowns in the half, with a Germinerio TD toss to Dylan Casey mixed in. Troy came all the way back from a 22 point deficit to lead, 34-30, early in the 4th quarter. However, Queensbury came right back, as Collins ran it in himself to give the Spartans a short-lived 36-34 lead. Short-lived because Germinerio needed just 2 plays to get the lead back. First, it was a 16-yard completion to Tavon Moore. Then, senior wide receiver Dajuan Hudson raced 64 yards for the winning score. Dev Holmes caught the 2-point conversion pass, and Troy was back up, 42-36, with under a minute left.

Then, things started getting screwy again on Queensbury's final drive. An interception by Nick Pastore was wiped out by a questionable personal foul on the defense as Collins was headed out of bounds on the pass. A second personal foul, as Collins was shoved out of bounds on the Troy sideline, was more of the ticky-tack variety that the officials normally wouldn't call in a game like this. The message was again sent to Troy. Section II doesn't want you in the Super Bowl yet. However, the Flying Horses punched their ticket to the big dance anyway, as Ethan Evans picked off Collins on the last play of the game to ice it.

The last two Super Bowls have matched two sets of Spartans as Queensbury defeated Burnt Hills. This year, neither of those teams will play for the A title, as Amsterdam upset Burnt Hills, 37-7, a game that was over well before the final gun sounded at Picken Memorial Field. The Rams and Flying Horses will meet at Steuerwald Stadium at Shenendehowa High School next Saturday night for the A title, Troy's first Super Bowl of any kind in 5 years. This will be a rematch from a September 18 game at Amsterdam, which Troy won, 26-21. The Rams will be the ones motivated more for revenge, and it's been a while since they, too, played in the Super Bowl.

For those of us who can't get to the game, it will be on Time Warner Cable's Sports Channel, as last night's game was, providing an alternative to the usual college fare. Meanwhile, they'll soon be preparing the gym for basketball season, which, barring preseason tournaments, starts December 1. Schedules will be available to the public within the next 2 weeks or so on the school website and on Section II's site. We'll see if Troy can use the momentum of the football team to carry the hoops squads, both men's & women's, to similar success.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Advertising For Dummies: What lengths kids will go to to ensure getting Halloween treats (2010)

I don't know who the advertising agency is working with M & M-Mars, but they came up with this corker for Snickers in 2010, which has been repeated virtually every year since.

Couldn't Mrs. Jensen tell from the fact the "other woman"'s lips weren't moving that she was being scammed? Epic fail!

Creepy TV: Creature Features (1969)

With Halloween tomorrow, we're wrapping up our look at New York City's troika of horror movie showcases.

Creature Features, which aired on WNEW (now WNYW), launched in 1969, and lasted 4 years before its initial run ended due to ratings woes and competition from WPIX's Chiller Theatre. Cable television, with the introduction of WNEW, WPIX, & WOR to upstate homes, came right at the end of the run. However, WNEW would bring the series back occasionally, but there was just no faith in keeping the product on the air.

I've often associated the classic Universal Monster movies with airings on WOR, but they debuted on WNEW before the rights shifted to their rival in the mid-70's. Of course, the exception to the rule with the Universal Monsters was the crossovers with Abbott & Costello, with WPIX holding the rights to those films.

Lou Steele, who was heard nightly intoning, "It's 10:00. Do you know where your children are?", before The 10 O'Clock News, was also the host of Creature Features as The Creep. Never got to see him, though.

Tapthatt2012 offers up this intro:

No rating.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Classic Reborn: The Munsters' Revenge (1981)

15 years after the original series ended, The Munsters returned, this time in a TV-movie that was meant to be a pilot for a revival of the series, and airing on NBC instead of its original network, CBS.

The original cast was not completely intact, though. Butch Patrick had long outgrown----literally---his role as Eddie, so newcomer KC Martel, from Canada, was brought in to take his place. Jo McDonnell, another newcomer, was cast as Marilyn. Unfortunately for ratings-challenged NBC, The Munsters' Revenge didn't generate enough ratings to warrant the revival, and fans would have to wait a few years before the syndicated Munsters Today would hit the air.

The plot: Herman (Fred Gwynne) & Grandpa (Al Lewis) are framed for a series of crimes committed by robot duplicates created by Dr. Dustin Diablo (Sid Caesar, at the time best known for "Grease", but better known for Your Show of Shows). The supporting cast includes one of Caesar's old cronies, Howard Morris (ex-The Andy Griffith Show), Bob Hastings (General Hospital) as Uncle Phantom (as in Phantom of the Opera; Hastings' face was completely covered in makeup), and two of Hastings' castmates from McHale's Navy, Gary Vinson & Billy Sands. This, I believe, was one of Vinson's last roles. Executive Producer Edward Montagne served in that capacity on McHale as well. Curiously, instead of recycling Jack Marshall's kickin' theme, the producers hired Vic Mizzy, who scored The Addams Family, Green Acres, The Double Life of Henry Phyfe, & Petticoat Junction, among others, for Filmways, and had scored Don Knotts' films for Universal in the 60's.

Too bad they couldn't bring in Patrick or Pat Priest for cameos.

If memory serves, this aired on a Friday night, which back then meant Dukes of Hazzard & Incredible Hulk ruled the night over on CBS.

Rating: B.

Musical Interlude: Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now (1987)

From the movie, "Mannequin" comes the lone single off the soundtrack, Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now".

The video is a compact re-enactment of certain material from the film, mixed with Mickey Thomas & Grace Slick performing with the rest of the band. Slick & Thomas sub for the film's stars, Kim Cattrall & Andrew McCarthy, respectively, leading to a bizarre twist ending to the video, much to the chagrin of window dresser Hollywood (Meshach Taylor, reprising his role from the movie).

The movie and video, I think, kickstarted Taylor's career, as he would land a role on the sitcom, Designing Women, not long after.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Creepy TV: Turnabout (1979)

It started with a whimsical little book that became a movie, years before Disney came up with "Freaky Friday".

Turnabout is based on a 1931 book, which had previously begat a 1940 feature film, also entitled, "Turnabout". Like "Freaky Friday", the concept is based on two people swapping bodies, thanks to magic.

Rather than try to explain it, I'll just show the video, uploaded by Gilmore Box. Sterling Holloway (the voice of Winnie The Pooh at the time) is the narrator.

To think that this came out the same year that John Schuck (ex-McMillian & Wife, Holmes & Yoyo) would don the makeup of the Monster of Frankenstein for the first time, leading to The Munsters Today, which would bow a decade later, for a Halloween special that we recently reviewed over at Saturday Morning Archives. Sharon Gless (ex-Switch) would bounce back a couple of years later with Cagney & Lacey, and was last seen on Burn Notice. Turnabout was cancelled after 7 episodes due to poor ratings. To the layman, it seemed as though Universal, which packaged the series, was trying to rip off Disney, but that's not so. It just happened that the original "Freaky Friday", with Jodie Foster, came out 3 years before this show, and was still fresh in some folks' minds.

No rating.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Spook Rock: Monster's Holiday (1974)

I was hoping I'd find a Hee Haw clip of Buck Owens performing "Monster's Holiday", but this just isn't happening.

The Storyteller, on the other hand, put together a video montage collecting vintage movie and TV clips, although we must question the inclusion of Jim Carrey from "Dumb & Dumber" in the montage.

Election '15: Troy politicians need to read Santayana

As I write these words, it is a week before election day. One week ago, there was an uproar in the hometown, one that might just signal who will be the next Mayor.

But first, a history lesson. Four years ago, right around this same time, the GOP released a last-ditch attack ad against Democratic candidate and then-Rensselaer County legislator Louis Rosamilia, a former teacher at Hudson Valley Community College who was otherwise a political newbie. Rosamilia was holding a modest lead in a poll conducted on behalf of the Troy Record over Republican challenger Carmella Mantello, who is running for City Council this year. After the ad aired on the Friday before the election, the lead doubled, perhaps tripled. Ballgame over. Game, set, and election to Rosamilia.

In January, Rosamilia announced he would not run for re-election. He wasn't the Democrats' 1st choice to run in 2011, and he'd simply decided he'd had enough of politics. That prompted Democratic Party Chairman Thomas Wade to anoint another neophyte, Patrick Madden, brother of Rensselaer County Executive Kathleen Jimino (a Republican), as the party's choice for Mayor over Troy City Council President Rodney Wiltshire. Madden narrowly outpointed Wiltshire in a primary last month that also saw prodigal son Ernest Everett's chances disappear, not only in a poor showing, but the fact that he wasn't truthful about the signatures on his petition actually buried him even more.

Meanwhile, the Republicans chose Councilman Jim Gordon of Lansingburgh, knowing full well that should he win next week, there will be plenty of references to a certain comic book and/or Fox TV show in the press. Apparently, party leaders had to convince Mantello not to try a 3rd run at City Hall, having already failed twice, to avoid a primary. Local businessman Jack Cox, Jr., whose bid was blocked by petition issues raised by Mantello 4 years ago, rounds out a four man field (Wiltshire is running on the Working Families line), but few give him a real chance.

That brings us to now. A week ago, a 3 month old 911 tape of a call placed by Melissa Gordon, wife of the GOP candidate, was leaked to the press by a "Democratic operative" as a means of not only throwing shade on Gordon's campaign, but ensuring that Madden would win the election. The reader reaction in The Record has been predictable, slamming the Democrats for playing what amounts to dirty pool. All this says to me is that Wade, in his desperation to retain City Hall, is making a calculated mistake similar to the one that won it for Rosamilia in 2011. Like his GOP counterparts, Wade is forgetting that voters don't forget that easily. Not only that, but he should also heed the words of George Santayana:

Those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it.

I can assure you of one thing. Rosamilia would not have approved of this kind of low-ball strategy. He is leaving City Hall in January with his dignity intact. In this writer's opinion, Madden & Wiltshire would cancel each other out, and Cox could siphon more votes away from Wade's Golden Boy. However, it will be the folly of a leaked 911 tape that actually decides this election. To paraphrase the Bible, the GOP gave away the 2011 election, but they'll take away the 2015 election.

Monday, October 26, 2015

On The Air: Supergirl (2015)

The three most successful DC Comics adaptations for television have all featured Superman. Producer Greg Berlanti (Arrow, Blindspot, The Flash, The Mysteries of Laura) is hoping Supergirl can follow that hallowed tradition.

But first, a history lesson is in order. Supergirl's origin has been altered a few times since her debut in the Silver Age. Berlanti has chosen the 2004 revision, which has Kara Zor-El meant to accompany her cousin, Kal-El, albeit in a separate rocket, to Earth as his guardian. However, she winds up on an asteroid somewhere, delaying her arrival by a few years. For the television audience, Kara (Melissa Benoist, ex-Glee) explains in her narrative that she was diverted to the Phantom Zone due to the after-effect of Krypton's explosion.

On Earth, she is adopted by the Danvers family, and retains her birth name of Kara. In the comics, she adopted the identity of Linda Danvers. And instead of being an only child in the books, Kara now has a step-sister, if you will, Alexandra (Chyler Leigh), who's also a government agent, working for the Department of Extranormal Operations (DEO) under Hank Henshaw (David Harewood, Homeland). Alexandra was created, I think, for television, but Henshaw is known to comics readers as the first Cyborg Superman, introduced in 1994.

In the comics, Linda had a number of jobs, including an actress and a teacher's aide. Kara is a glorified go-fer for Catherine "Cat" Grant (Callista Flockhart, ex-Brothers & Sisters, Ally McBeal), CEO of CatCo, which owns the National City newspaper, The Tribune. Grant was introduced to comics readers in the late 80's following DC's epic Crisis on Infinite Earths, but was originally a gossip columnist, later a social activist. Berlanti has rebooted Grant as a cross between Anna Wintour and Perry White. Of course, to continue the homages to Superman, Kara is wearing glasses, just like her cousin did.

And, then, there's Jimmy Olsen (Mehcad Brooks), Superman's pal, who's relocated to National City, and, as Kara finds out in the opener, it seems cousin Superman sent Jimmy there to keep an eye on her. While I don't have a problem with Olsen (and for that matter, Henshaw) being rebooted as an African-American, I can explain this away pretty easily. You see, this version of Jimmy is more of an amalgam of the Jimmy we all know and African-American reporter Ron Troupe, like Cat Grant, a product of the post-Crisis 80's. I think Berlanti decided to use Jimmy because Olsen had a crush on Supergirl in one of her earliest incarnations in the 60's.

If you look quick, you'll see the first screen Supergirl, Helen Slater, playing Kara's adoptive mom, alongside Dean Cain, who played Superman in the 90's. Of course, the name "National City" is a homage in and of itself, referencing DC's former identity as National Periodical Publications.

Let's take a look at a trailer:

The only quibble I have is that Berlanti had wanted Superman all along, couldn't use him, and opted instead to use his vision with Supergirl. Will we see Superman on this show, with a new movie a few months away? I cannot say for sure, though it wouldn't hurt. Will there be a crossover with Berlanti's CW entries? Supposedly, no, although CW is a step-sister network and there was a commercial for The Flash during the show tonight. I wouldn't put it past Berlanti and his crew.

Rating: A-.

World Series 2015 Preview: Mets @ Royals

They say good pitching stops good hitting. The Mets and Kansas City offered great examples of this axiom in the League Championship Series wins over the Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays. Now, it's down to these two, and for the Royals, what better way to mark the 30th anniversary of their lone championship by reaching the pay window again.

If you look at starting pitching, however, the Mets and their Young Guns would have an advantage over Kansas City's veteran starting core, which includes ex-Met Chris Young. The Royals picked up Johnny Cueto from Cincinnati at the trade deadline, but if memory serves, the Mets handled Cueto earlier this season when he was still with the Reds, as the Mets swept the season series from Cincinnati. The only one of the Royals' starters the Mets haven't seen would be Yordano Ventura, because I don't believe he was on the roster when the two teams met in the 2013 regular season (KC won 2 of 3 at Citi Field). Ventura, then, is the x factor for the Royals, and job one for the pitching staff is shutting down NLCS MVP Daniel Murphy and the rest of the offense. Easier said than done.

The Mets will send their Dark Knight, Matt Harvey out in game 1 on Tuesday, followed by 2014 Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard in games 2 & 3. Playing in KC takes the bats out of Harvey & deGrom's hands due to the DH, but the Mets now have a deep enough bench where someone like Michael Cuddyer, reduced to a reserve role late in the season due to injuries and the emergence of rookie Michael Conforto, can be plugged in. If Yoenis Cespedes' shoulder isn't 100% on Tuesday, he can be the DH, I would think, and Juan Lagares would play center field. Kansas City returns much of the same crew that fell to San Francisco in last year's Series, mostly a lunchpail bunch who work at bats the same way the Mets do.

The bullpen is the Royals' strength. It's not as deep as it was last year, with Greg Holland on the DL, moving former starter Wade Davis into the closer's role. They saw Mets set-up reliever Tyler Clippard when he was with Oakland earlier in the year, but then, the Mets also picked up Addison Reed (Arizona) as bullpen insurance in August, and closer Jeurys Familia has proven he can go 2 innings to get a save. Familia was almost totally lights out this season, with a team record-tying 43 saves.

I think the Series will go 7 games again, but there will be no anniversary party for Kansas City. To describe the Mets right now requires a quote from one Elwood Blues of Chicago, circa 1980:

The 30th anniversary of the Mets' last title is next year, but I don't see them repeating KC's mistakes in last year's Series. Lucas Duda & David Wright's bats are waking up at the right time. Murphy will pass the baton to either of them, Cespedes will come to life again. Be very afraid, Kansas City. Mets in 7.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Creepy TV: The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976)

After flopping twice as a lead in sitcoms, Paul Lynde landed his first and only primetime special in 1976 for ABC. If memory serves me correctly, the Paul Lynde Halloween Special aired in place of Donny & Marie on a Friday night. Not that it made much difference, since the Osmond sibs made an unbilled appearance on the show, which was already loaded with guests, including Betty White (The Mary Tyler Moore Show), Tim Conway, Margaret Hamilton (who was shilling for Maxwell House back then), Billy Barty, Roz Kelly (Happy Days), Billie Hayes (reprising her H. R. Pufnstuf role as Witchiepoo), and musical guests KISS. Ernie Anderson is the announcer.

Had this been on NBC, you could've banked on a Hollywood Squares crossover of some form. Hamilton donned the green makeup of the Wicked Witch of the West ("Wizard of Oz") after more than 25 years, and I'm not sure if Hayes did any other skits than working as Witchiepoo. This wasn't a Krofft production, unlike Donny & Marie, which at the time was under the Kroffts' stewardship, and Lynde was making regular appearances there in addition to his Squares gig. As you could probably guess, I didn't see it the first time (I wasn't even home the night it aired, if my memory is correct), so there is no rating.

On The Shelf: It feels like old times

DC has launched a trio of books spinning out of the summer Convergence event, two of which have some meaning for old school fans.

Titans Hunt is a 12-part maxiseries that attempts to fill the holes in the franchise's history, specifically the team as it was constituted at the end of its initial run, circa 1972-3. You have to hope British writer Dan Abnett, writing alone, has done his homework.

Rating: Incomplete. This requires further study.

Superman: Lois & Clark is a definite case of fan-service for those readers offended by the editorial decision 4 years ago to end the marriage of the Man of Steel and his lady fair, Lois Lane. The way Dan Jurgens has drawn it up, the Kents have a child, likely an adoptee, and are adjusting to life on a new Earth. I'm one of those people who felt that if it ain't broken, you don't fix it, but there are too many morons in decision-making positions at DC & Marble these days. And you can't go wrong with a Superman drawn by Lee Weeks.

Rating: A-.

We won't even discuss the other book, Telos, largely because we don't see any staying power in it.

Dark Horse is providing some fan-service of a different kind, specifically, readers of Warren's The Rook from the late 70's and early 80's. Restin Dane, aka The Rook, is back after more than 30 years away. How Dark Horse scored this coup, I don't know. What I do know is that Bill DuBay's pride & joy is in the capable hands of writer Steven Grant and artist Paul Gulacy, whose pencils still kick butt more than 40 years after his debut on the original Master of Kung Fu at Marvel. Now, it'd be nice to chase down those old Warrens.......!

Rating: A.

After a lengthy delay, Archie's Dark Circle division rolls out their reincarnation of The Shield. This time, the character is a woman, Victoria Adams, and writers Adam Christopher & Chuck Wendig have traced her history all the way back to colonial times. On the one hand, I can see a crossover with Black Hood, which returns this coming week, in the offing, since the basic concepts are similar, but aside from that, well, I do have some questions about this book that hopefully will be answered sooner rather than later.

Rating: B-.

Meanwhile, Archie has apparently written fini to the current Betty & Veronica series after 278 issues, for a grand total of 625 in two series (the first run ended after 347 issues), and that the reboot will launch after the first of the year as we've previously reported.

Marble has invested heavily in their Avengers franchise. Perhaps too heavily.

Avengers 0 serves as a preview for almost the entire line of titles under that brand name. This is what you call overmilking a golden cow after 2 hit feature films and 2 animated series. Marble does this all the time, moreso than the other publishers. Consider:

Uncanny Avengers includes in its membership the Human Torch, Spider-Man, and Deadpool, the latter of whom has a movie coming out next year, with Ryan Reynolds under the red & black spandex. Come to think of it, I'm not all that big on the now-elderly former Captain America, Steve Rogers being a part of this, too, but this book essentially replaces Secret Avengers on the schedule. Ex-New Mutant Sunspot (Roberto DaCosta) fronts the New Avengers. We've known for years that Roberto was somewhere near Tony Stark's tax bracket, dating back to New Mutants back in the 80's. Not digging the artwork on either book. The Vision, the de facto breakout star of this year's "Avengers" movie, gets his own solo series, positing him as an ersatz family man. However, he's also trying to reconcile his past with ex-wife Scarlet Witch. TMI, amigos, for my money. The Squadron Supreme has the best creative team with James Robinson & Leonard Kirk, but why invest in this if inevitably there's a crossover with the other books?


Squadron Supreme: A-.
Uncanny Avengers: C.
New Avengers: C.
Avengers 0: C-.

As for other entries in the "All-New, All-Different" Marble line, a Point One one-off was issued to provide some previews. To wit:

Contest of Champions is a literal reboot of a long-forgotten 80's miniseries, which Marble has reissued as a 1-shot volume, oh by the way. This time, the Maestro (a future incarnation of the Hulk) is challenging the Collector. Not interested. Rating: D.

Carnage gets an ongoing series, but then, what did that do for Venom? Not much. I don't see this lasting long, but I'm not the target audience, for one, and too smart for that company. Rating: D.

Rocket Raccoon & Groot merges two books from the Guardians of the Galaxy line. Not sold on Skottie Young as a writer any more than I was with him as an artist. Not feeling it. Rating: C-.

Charles Soule, fresh off Inhumans: Attilan Rising, will helm not only All-New Inhumans, but Daredevil as well. He's got some skills, although I'd have to ask, would it hurt Marble's bottom line to just go back to the old numbering for the latter book? Too many #1's of various reboots of series in the last 20 years makes me ill.

Daredevil merits a B. All-New Inhumans is a B-.

The TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will have a comic book bearing that name, after the last series was simply S.H.I.E.L.D.. Reads more like they're trying to write this as a cross between Man From U.N.C.L.E. & Mission: Impossible. Then again, Marc Guggenheim is writing the book. Rating: Incomplete.

Speaking of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., DC has snagged a license to bring the characters in for a team-up with Batman '66 in a miniseries launching in December. Open Channel D, and Channel B, too.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Musical Interlude: Once in a Lifetime (1980)

Scope out the image(s) of Talking Heads frontman David Byrne in this clip for 1980's "Once in a Lifetime", from the album, "Remain in Light", and tell me if this wasn't the inspiration for "Revenge of the Nerds".......

This is actually an edited version of the song, as the 3rd verse was left off. If you've ever heard the full song on the radio, or have the album, you'd know what I mean.

Sports this 'n' that

The World Series is now set, and it should be a fun ride.

The Kansas City Royals punched their ticket for a return to the Fall Classic Friday night, defeating Toronto, 4-3, to win the ALCS in six games, despite 2 homers from Jose Bautista. The teams had to endure a 30-45 minute rain delay in the 8th inning before finishing.

Up next for the Royals are the Mets, with the Series starting Tuesday in Kansas City. In terms of pitching, the Mets' Young Guns, hot as they are, match up well with Kansas City, who haven't named their Game 1 starter as of press time. The bullpens are about even, as the Royals' Kelvin Herrera has proven to be, well, mortal this postseason. Of course, the Mets are milking the excitement, with some of the players appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Friday, as Kimmel wrapped a week of shows in Brooklyn.

Final pick coming on Monday.
New York's Section II began football playoff action Friday night. Troy High, the Class A Southeast Division champs, had to grind out a 14-6 verdict over Green Tech, extending the Eagles' losing streak to 4 games after a 4-0 start. Troy goes to 8-0, and awaits the winner of today's game between Mohonasen and Queensbury. Queensbury is one of the few schools that doesn't have lights, hence their home games being on Saturdays, and this is their home finale, as a win sends them back to Troy, where they lost on Opening Night last month.

Back to Troy. Green Tech took the opening kickoff and marched down the field before Azir Turner took it in from 5 yards. The 2-point conversion failed, and the Eagles led, 6-0. However, Troy came right back to tie the game as John Germinerio threw a TD pass to Tavon Moore. Point after failed, and it was 6-6 at halftime.

Damani Soares has been one of the offensive stars for Troy this season, but on this night, he also contributed on defense with an end zone interception to stop a Green Tech drive in the 3rd quarter. Troy, in all, recorded 4 interceptions, as Joe Casale's pick in the 4th quarter, his 2nd of the night, iced the game. On the other hand, the Flying Horses also committed 4 turnovers, as Germinerio had two picks, and Soares & Nick Pastore each lost a fumble. Soares found the end zone in the 3rd, after having an earlier TD called back on a penalty, and Troy hung on.
A former Troy star provided some inspiration. Iowa senior Jordan Canzeri returned home for the game, with the Hawkeyes enjoying a bye week. Canzeri was named an honorary captain, and likely gave the current club a pep talk at halftime after a sloppy first half.
Meanwhile, Troy's soccer teams are also in the postseason.

The women's soccer team, in their maiden season in the Suburban Council, finished 3rd in the Grey division with a 5-11 overall record, but the boys were even worse. Unfortunately, not all game results were submitted to the local papers, and so one wondered about 4 boys games which weren't reported, which left the boys otherwise winless. They still won their first round game Wednesday night, upsetting Catholic Central, while the girls blew away Amsterdam, 8-0, with 7 goals in the 2nd half. The teams are on the road today, with the guys in Burnt Hills, and the girls in South Glens Falls. I have to believe the golf, tennis, & volleyball teams were even worse, not qualifying for post-season play.
And as the fall seasons in high school are winding down, hockey season is underway. RPI started their season a couple of weeks ago, and the AHL's Albany Devils have their home opener today. Part of the reason I don't go to hockey games much is the ticket prices. $18 for a minor league hockey game's a bit steep, but then, everything at Times Union Center is overpriced, as Dinosaur Bar-B-Que's about to find out. The Troy eatery has opened a concession stand at the TUC, just in time for the Devils' games today & tomorrow. Like, who really wants to spend 3-6 dollars for soda? This ain't Yankee Stadium, you know.
Former major league ballplayer Tino Martinez was the main attraction at a health fair at Colonie Center last week, though two locally-based Ring of Honor stars, Bobby Fish & Dalton Castle, were also on hand. The line for autographs, mostly for Martinez, was ginormous. The grapplers were long gone by the time I came out of the multiplex after seeing (and later reviewing) "Goosebumps". The line was so long, you could've whipped out your cellphone and ordered dinner to go, and it'd be delivered to you while you're still in line!

Just wait. Should the Mets win the World Series, and any of their stars come upstate, they still won't get the same kind of attention, due to upstate being more split between the Yanks & Red Sox. Rodney Dangerfield would understand.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A parade of passings

Death has been busy this week.

Star Trek devotees will remember Bruce Hyde as Lt. Kevin Riley, who was showcased in at least one episode. Such a small role, but enough to merit a headline upon his passing at 74 earlier this week.

74 was the same age at the end of the road for musician Cory Wells, best known for co-founding Three Dog Night with Danny Hutton and Chuck Negron in the late 60's, but before that, he fronted the short-lived group, The Enemys, whose biggest claim to fame, it seems, was a guest shot on The Beverly Hillbillies, of all places........

While we're on the country tip, we also bid farewell to Petticoat Junction's Pat Woodell at 70. Pat played Bobbie Jo Bradley, but seemed to fall off the radar after Junction signed off in 1970. Actor-turned-talent agent Marty Ingels rounds out the list, having passed at 79. Ingels co-starred in 1962's I'm Dickens, He's Fenster, with John Astin, a short-lived series we recently reviewed. Unable to land another starring gig, Ingels turned to animation, and signed with Hanna-Barbera in 1969 as the voice of Autocat, who was forever chasing Motormouse on The Cattanooga Cats. We have a Motormouse & Autocat short up at Saturday Morning Archives to honor Ingels, who later gave voice to video game icon Pac-Man in 1982, all the while married to actress Shirley Jones (ex-The Partridge Family).

Rest in peace.

It's OK to be wrong sometimes

Regular readers of this blog know that I will tag my prediction posts with the end line, "Of course, I could be wrong", largely because 9 times out of 10, I usually am wrong.

Today, I couldn't be happier to be wrong, with the Mets advancing to the World Series. All they're waiting for now is to make travel plans to either Toronto or Kansas City for the Series, which starts on October 27 in either AL city (KC leads the ALCS, 3-2, and could wrap it at home tomorrow).

When I wrote a week ago that the Cubs would win in 7, I took into account the fact that 1) the Cubs had swept the season series from the Mets, 7-0, as well as 2) the Mets' roster upgrades prior to the trade deadline. Did the Cubs have enough offensive momentum to overcome the Mets' Young Gun starting rotation? Yes, but the Mets took care of that by limiting the damage. Kris Bryant, the presumptive pick as NL Rookie of the Year, homered in the 8th inning Wednesday, but by then, it was too little and too late. Kyle Schwarber, who had homered Tuesday, proved he was a fish out of water in the outfield.

The tabloid media in NYC tried to throw shade on the Mets' run by making note of the fact that infielder Daniel Murphy would be a free agent after the season, and that the Mets were not committed to retaining him. Murphy, the NLCS MVP, continued his torrid October stretch, and has homered in six straight games, snapping a mark set by Carlos Beltran, then with Houston, 11 years ago. Beltran, like Murphy, was a free agent-to-be, and wound up signing with guess who? Yep, the Mets. If Fred Wilpon has any sense at all, he'll open the checkbook to keep Murphy in New York, as he can not only play a serviceable 2nd base, but can back up David Wright at 3rd and Lucas Duda at 1st if either are injured and/or slumping.

As for the Cubbies, presumptive Cy Young candidate Jake Arietta simply ran out of gas, and had been exposed in the Division Series against St. Louis. Manager Joe Maddon ran out of magic, but he has a nucleus that will remain solid for a few more years, barring injuries and intrusive, meddling agents (i.e. Scott Boras, who has clients everywhere) butting in where they're not wanted.

The scary part? The Mets, and not the Nationals, will be everyone's pick to win the NL East next year, on the 30th anniversary of their last title. As the Washington players will tell you, you're better off if you're not the consensus pick. Right now, let's just see where the Mets will go next.......

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

On The Air: Dancing With the Stars (2005)

Reality TV shows run in cycles, but are referred to as "seasons", which kind of makes the traditional TV season seem irrelevant today.

Dancing With the Stars marks its 10th anniversary year this year, and is on its 21st "season", with 2 "seasons" per year (fall & spring). It allows celebrities and athletes to demonstrate other talents. In the case of recent winner Alfonso Ribiero (ex-Catch 21, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), it was a case of his career coming full circle. Ribiero first came to media attention in the early 80's on Broadway in "The Tap Dance Kid", which led to his TV acting debut on Silver Spoons. So it came as no surprise, then, that Ribiero and his partner, Witney Carson, ran away with the competition one year ago.

Tom Bergeron (ex-Hollywood Squares) was tapped as host. I believe it was either around this time or after that he'd taken over another ABC series, America's Funniest Home Videos, but he's passed the baton of that series to Ribiero this season to focus on Dancing, and when his father took ill and passed away recently, Bergeron took a brief leave of absence, and Ribiero stepped in to sub.

The field has included football icons including Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith, wrestlers Chris Jericho and Stacy Keibler, and "tabloid bait", if you will, such as Bristol Palin, daughter of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. Ribiero, however, has been the unquestioned king of the ballroom, as this video would suggest.....

One poster on YouTube, after posting the above video of "The Carlton Dance" from last year, referred to it as Ribiero whipping out an ace card, which would eventually wrap up the mirror ball trophy. Ribiero's no stranger to reality competition. He'd also won the lone season of Fox's ill-fated Celebrity Duets in 2006.

I'm not much for reality shows, and only really got interested during the spring '06 season (Kiebler, Rice), but not as a full time viewer.

Rating: B.

A betrayal of faith in a small town

It's been 10 days, as I write, since the shocking attack on two young brothers in New Hartford, a small Western NY village, not far from Utica. Two important factors to consider. The incident took place in a church, and the two boys, Christopher & Lucas Leonard, were set upon by their own family, among others.

When you hear the name, Word of Life, in reference to a church, you usually think of a global ministry founded by the late Jack Wyrtzen many years ago, one that used to have a nationally syndicated television program. However, the Word of Life Christian Church in suburban Chadwicks has no connection with the Wyrtzen ministry, and Wyrtzen himself wouldn't have allowed the attack to take place under his roof.

Nathan Ames, a former member of the Word of Life congregation in question, wrote an open letter to
As a former member of Word of life Christian Church of Chadwicks NY (WLCCC), I would like to clear some rumors up. I attended there from the time I was born till the age of 12 to 13. The WLCCC is not associated with the Word of Life Fellowship Inc. founded by Jack Wyrtzen. The WLCCC started out as a good, God fearing Pentecostal Church and was rapidly growing. Great things were happening, miracles, prophecy, and people getting set free. There was no beating and or molestation going on at WLCCC.

Jerry Irwin eventually became angry for unjustifiable reasons and removed the pastor from his position and proclaimed himself as "Pastor". Many left after realizing that he was a narcissistic psychopath. The few that stayed were slowly lied to and manipulated into believing Jerry was called from God to "Control" there lives. Filling their minds with outlandish stories that were for the most part fabricated.

Over a period of time Jerry became feared by his congregation by inflicting his wrath upon them, to the point of calling their name on the pulpit and say they were in sin and had not repented. After someone "repented of their sin" Jerry would make it a point that they were not sorry and it was all a ploy to get back on his good side. There was not forgiveness and that is how he held his place over them. He would intimidate people by coming over to the house and yelling, if they did not see it his way. He only liked obedient and submissive people that did whatever he wanted them to do without question or dubiousness.

After someone left the church he would then fabricate stories on the pulpit about that person and why they left and that they were on their way to hell, if they didn't repent. Lies started about my family and eventually we left. Jerry would single me out in church and make sure every one realized how much of a "rebellious" child I was, because of my hyper, intense, and forthright personality. "Spiritual Cannibalism" is the only phrase that I can come up with to provide how he was. After we left we were stalked on Facebook and lies about our family were spread to the congregation and our family.

Jerry eventually died of a stroke and left his children, Tiffanie, Daniel, and Joseph in charge, with their Mother Tracy as a guide. Jerry's children took the church to a whole new demonic level. With more control and randomized yelling and demeaning on the very few church members that were involved. Eventually beating and the brutal murder of a 19 year old young man and severely injuring his 17 year old brother because of "sin" that the Irwins thought the boys have. Because they thought they were God, they believed they could do anything to their members and have no repercussions.
We should all be praying for them and interceding that they see and hear the one true God, and that they truly repent for there sins. Forgiveness does not mean that they will not pay for their sin here on earth, it means that we release them to the Lord Jesus and ask Him to look softly on their ignorance. I do not condone their actions nor the churches existence. My deepest condolences to the family who lost a dear loved one. I would ask that anyone who has not come forward to the investigation, to please come forward and talk to them and help so they have a strong case against the Irwins.
And you thought the Westboro wackjobs in Kansas were out of control (and still are).

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Something tabloid media forgot about Lamar Odom

For a time, Lamar Odom was a basketball vagabond, well before he was hooked into the farce of reality TV.

Odom spent a year in the home district, attending and playing basketball for Redemption Christian Academy, then sought his fortunes elsewhere, which ultimately led to playing college ball at Rhode Island before an NBA career that included stops with Miami and the Lakers.

I never met the guy, even though Redemption was based in Troy. For a time, he was one of us. A local kid who'd eventually make it big.

After his playing days ended, as we've been reminded endlessly over the last week, Odom fell victim to what I call the Black Widow Sisters, aka the Kardashians. He fell in love with, then married and divorced Khloe. Ended up doing reality TV in lockstep with the Black Widows, who wouldn't know what a real job is if it came up and bit them.

You all know the story by now. Odom was found unconscious and unresponsive in a Las Vegas hotel last week. He's gradually recovering, thankfully, but, just as unfortunate is the fact that the Black Widows came to Vegas to exploit the situation for television. It's all they know, but that's worth a separate post another time.

ESPN's Scott Van Pelt took the wire services and tabloid media to task for forgetting how Odom became so famous in the first place with an on-air editorial......

Unfortunately, a wire service report in today's papers shows that Van Pelt's message didn't get through to the Associated Press, among others. Odom is still being referred to as a reality television star, not a former NBA player. It wasn't that long ago that he'd retired from the NBA and got tangled in the Kardashian web. Khloe's moved on, sinking her hooks in another NBA player, Houston's James Harden. The New York Post ripped the Black Widows to shreds the other day, and, to tell you the truth, after reading the piece, the perception I have is that these bimbos make a legitimately wealthy woman in their age group, Paris Hilton, look like a Girl Scout by comparison.

As far as the Kardorkians are concerned, to paraphrase an old Foreigner song, they need to know what a real job is, because reality is waiting to smack them down.

Musical Interlude: Sleeping Satellite (1992)

British singer Tasmin Archer's lone American hit, "Sleeping Satellite", was first released in her native England in 1992, where it went straight to #1. Introduced to American radio in February 1993, "Satellite", which referenced the Apollo moon missions of the 60's (the moon is the satellite in the song title), peaked at #32 on the pop chart here, but otherwise was pigeonholed as an alternative rock track.

In fact, the only station in the home district that played the song on the radio was an alternative rock channel (at the time). Archer gets help from ex-Pretenders guitarist Robbie McIntosh, though I don't think you'll see him in the video.....

Fellow Brit Kim Wilde, attempting a comeback, recorded a cover for her 2011 CD, but the original is still better.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Classic Reborn with a twist: Scare Tactics (2003)

Modern day hidden camera shows like MTV's Punk'd and our next subject owe their existence to Allen Funt's legendary Candid Camera. It just happens that the Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy) took the concept to an extreme that not even Funt thought would work.

Scare Tactics premiered in 2003, and initially lasted two "seasons" over one calendar year (2003-4), with two different hosts. Shannen Doherty came over from Charmed as the show's 1st host, but you have to figure there were issues, similar to what led to her leaving Charmed and Beverly Hills 90210 before. So Stephen Baldwin, perhaps still best known as Pauly Shore's sidekick in "Bio-Dome" a decade earlier, took over.

However, when Tactics returned after a 4 year hiatus, Baldwin was gone, and comedian Tracy Morgan (30 Rock, ex-Saturday Night Live) took his place for the final four years. In fact, if you check Hulu, chances are you will only find episodes from the Morgan era. YouTube? Ditto.

Here's a sample clip from Dailymotion:

Rating: B.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Creepy TV: Blade (2006)

After three movies, David S. Goyer felt it was time to move Marvel Comics' Blade to television. Showtime had the first option, which included bringing back Wesley Snipes, who played the vampire hunter in all three movies. However, Snipes was involved in litigation against New Line Cinema, which produced the movies and the subsequent series. Showtime passed.

Corporate step-sister Spike TV moved in and picked up the project, which hit the air in the summer of 2006. Snipes was gone, replaced by rapper Kirk Jones, aka Sticky Fingaz. Spike placed Blade on Wednesdays at 10 (ET), which had been a trouble spot for the network for years, even when it was still TNN.

Unfortunately, money became the issue that caused the show's demise. Blade was Spike TV's 1st original, scripted, live-action series, and lasted just 3 months. I never watched the show, so there's no rating. We'll leave you with the trailer:

On Stage: Wait Until Dark (2015)

The Theatre Institute at Sage (Russell Sage College for those of you outside the home district) rose from the ashes of the NYS Theatre Institute in 2010, continuing the tradition of quality productions. The one link between the two companies is actor-director David Bunce, who didn't act in the season opener, "Wait Until Dark", but has been an influence on the current company.

I confess that I'd never seen the movie version of "Wait Until Dark", with Audrey Hepburn, though the interest has gotten stronger after seeing the TI production, which closed today.

Anyway, a quick summation of the plot is in order. A blind housewife is caught in the middle when a pair of con men attempt to obtain a doll that might have something to do with a drug deal that also involves her husband, a photographer. The TI production was, at least for the final performance today, signed for the hearing impaired. Two acts, in a total time, not including intermission, of just over 2 hours. This was the first TI production I'd seen, as I'd not been at the Schact Fine Arts Center on Sage's Troy campus in nearly six years ("King Island Christmas").

While Charlie Barnet IV was charming as Mike, one of the con men, to the point where you'd believe he was actually willing to turn his life around, Taylor Hoffman conveyed all the right emotion as blind Susie, the role essayed by Audrey Hepburn in the movie. Funny thing. One of the villains was played by a fellow named Matt Harvey. Insert your Mets jokes here (and there were a couple of other Mets fans, moi aside, in the audience).

Up next for TI is an adaptation of L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz, which, as Harvey explained when addressing the audience after the ending of the play, subs for the annual Christmas production this year. It runs December 4-17, wrapping a week before Christmas. At least in that case I can say I've seen the movie.

Rating: B.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

In Theatres: Goosebumps (2015)

This also appears at Saturday Morning Archives as the first non-DVD movie review to be posted there.
The feature film version of "Goosebumps" is a homage and a celebration at the same time.

It's a celebration, though well past the 20th anniversary of the book series, which began three years after author R. L. Stine had started the Fear Street line of teen horror stories, which, amazingly, has never been adapted into movies or television, though Stine's other book series have. The TV Goosebumps marks its 20th anniversary this year, and I'd imagine Discovery Family, the last network to hold the cable rights, is doing a marathon of some kind this weekend to mark the occasion.

It's also a homage, as the producers crammed as many of the characters in the series, particularly Slappy, the Living Dummy, into the story, which is your typical Goosebumps plot, but with a few of the usual twists.

Stine (Jack Black) is presented as an anti-social recluse who moves from town to town, in the company of his daughter, Hannah (the real Stine, who appears in a quick cameo at the end of the film, actually has a son). A widowed vice principal and her son move in next door, and Hannah hits it off with the boy, Zack, who also makes fast friends with cheerful, but timid Champ. Stine forbids Zack & Hannah to be together, but you know how this will go, don't you? Of course you do.

After Stine leaves on an errand, Zack & Champ, concerned that something happened to Hannah, which Stine denies, break into the author's house. It takes them a while to figure everything out, but not before an accident unleashes an abominable snowman, which chases the kids to an ice rink. Unbeknownst to the kids, Slappy (Black again) has managed to escape, and Stine is faced with some unpleasant reality........

The film is not as bad as some critics make it out to be, though there are facepalm moments a'plenty, largely thanks to geeky, goofy Champ. Black plays his part well, although when the real Stine makes his appearance you can see why they opted for Black and a more dark humor approach.

Other trailers:

"The Fifth Wave" (January): Yep, another movie based on yet another youth sci-fi novel series. Color me underwhelmed, although I thought at first Sony might've snatched "Independence Day II" away from Fox....!

"Alvin & the Chipmunks: Road Chip" (December): Alvin, Simon, & Theodore are back. I think this is the 4th movie in the series?

"The Good Dinosaur" (Nov. 25): Disney & Pixar's latest postulates a different kind of Stone Age.

"Ratchet & Clank" (April) & "The Angry Birds Movie" (Summer?). Meh.

"Goosebumps" merits a B+.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Spook Rock: Mary Jane's Last Dance (1993)

Why this Tom Petty track isn't on the soundtrack to the CW's iZombie yet, I don't know.

"Mary Jane's Last Dance" might have some implications in the minds of some regarding drug use (Mary Jane is a slang term for marijuana), but as the video clearly shows, the subject matter is entirely different.

Petty plays a morgue assistant who becomes smitten with a recent corpse (Kim Basinger), to the point where he takes her home for dinner.

If Petty were to remake the video today, odds are pretty good that iZombie star Rose MacIver would replace Basinger. Heh, to take it a step further, maybe we could have Tim Burton direct and squeeze in Johnny Depp somewhere, and......!

Now we're down to four-League Championship Series preview

You just can't script October baseball. Major League Baseball emphasized this in an ad campaign a couple of years ago, and it is so true. We're now down to baseball's equivalent to the final four, with each League Championship Series a best-of-7 to be contested over the course of 9 days, including 2 travel days in each series.

National League Championship Series: Chicago @ New York:

The battle of the upstarts. Joe Maddon's Cubs swept all 7 games from the Mets during the regular season. That, more than anything, notwithstanding the sudden power surge of the Cubs' kiddie corps of sluggers over the last week and a half in dispatching NL Central rivals Pittsburgh & St. Louis, has the pundits believing the Cubs are now the favorites to finally end more than a century of heartbreak on the North Side of Chicago, 10 years after the White Sox won the Series.

Then again, those 7 games vs. the Mets came before New York acquired slugger Yoenis Cespedes from Detroit in late July. While Cespedes fell into a slump in the last two games vs. Los Angeles, Daniel Murphy picked up the slack for his team and was virtually a one man offense in the finale vs. the Dodgers, going 3-4 with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored, including the game winning homer off Zack Greinke in the 6th. Do we really need to mention the genius move of stealing an uncovered 3rd base on a walk to Lucas Duda, just because Don Mattingly decided to be a dunce and employ the now-overused defensive shift against the slumping Duda? Of course not. Karma, baby, karma. That's all it is.

The Cubs-Cards series turned when the wind blew out of Wrigley on Monday night, and Chicago's offense just went off. Come Saturday at Citi Field, they will have had three days rest, as opposed to just 1 for the Mets. Jon Lester will be matched with, most likely, Matt Harvey, since Noah Syndergaard pitched an inning in relief last night, though starting Syndergaard is not out of the question just yet. Those two, plus Jacob DeGrom and Steven Matz, matched against Lester, Jake Arietta, and whatever else the Cubs have? Interesting. Murphy aside, the Mets' bats have to wake up, and quickly, otherwise it could be all over early.

The pick: Cubs in 7. Yes, the Mets will finally win some games, but it's not their time yet.

American League Championship Series: Toronto @ Kansas City:

I don't know what surprises me more. Not to toot my own horn here, but the fact that I picked all 4 division series correctly, and also correctly predicted Toronto & Kansas City to win their divisions (I had the Mets as a wild card---what do I know?) only proves that the preseason preview books are a waste of money. For the record, I correctly picked three of the six divisions---St. Louis being the other---which may actually be better than most national pundits.

Digression aside, the Blue Jays-Royals series will come down to the Royals, looking to return to the Fall Classic on the 30th anniversary of their lone championship with grit, grind, and hustle, against the explosive offense of the Jays. In that regard, it's almost like a mirror image of Cubs-Mets. Simply sub the Jays for the Cubs and the Royals for the Mets. The Royals' pen is dinged, as closer Greg Holland is out for the year with an injury, moving Wade Davis into the closer's role. Yordano Ventura actually looked mortal vs. Houston, and it'll get worse vs. Toronto, I assure you. There will be blood, considering the Jays' showy antics, particularly that of Jose Bautista, on home runs. That sort of swagger will make the Jays closely resemble the 1986 Mets, if you can believe that. Then again, manager John Gibbons was a reserve catcher on the Mets back then. Hmmmmmm.

The pick: Blue Jays in 6. Sorry, Royals fans.

Just be prepared for an offensive showcase in the Series. Of course, I could be wrong.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Forgotten TV: The Nashville Palace (1980)

The success of the feature film "Urban Cowboy" prompted NBC to go country in the early 80's.

We've previously discussed Barbara Mandrell & the Mandrell Sisters, Sid & Marty Krofft's last entry for NBC, which lasted a couple of years before health issues prompted Barbara Mandrell to end the series.

Somewhere along the way, the network also got in touch with Hee Haw co-executive producer John Aylesworth about returning to network television. Aylesworth's last network projects in the 70's, particularly a Saturday morning variety show starring the Harlem Globetrotters, didn't last very long, and, well, neither did The Nashville Palace.

IMDB's data indicates only 2 episodes aired. Hee Haw co-host Roy Clark pulled double duty, as he emceed Palace, with Aylesworth as the announcer, which he likewise did on Hee Haw for all those years.

Following is a montage of clips focusing on Dukes of Hazzard co-star Catherine Bach, making her singing debut on the show. Someone must've convinced her that if her TV cousins, John Schneider & Tom Wopat, could sing, so can she. Judge for yourself. I believe the song is called "California Cowgirl".

The clip was supplied by a Dukes fan channel on YouTube. And, yes, Clark does the voice over intro when Bach comes out for her production number. Mickey Gilley, who also appeared in the episode, saw his career skyrocket thanks to "Urban Cowboy", but was last seen doing an infomercial for Time-Life with Lorianne Crook (ex-Crook & Chase) a while back.

No rating. Never saw the show, because if it aired when I think it did (Saturday nights, as a fill-in for Mandrell), I didn't see it because I was away from the house.

A Modern Classic (maybe): Family Matters (1989)

By the end of the 80's, thanks in large part to the "Revenge of the Nerds" movies, geeks & nerds were all of a sudden cool in pop culture. The producers of Family Matters found that out when they introduced America's Nerd, Steve Urkel (Jaleel White) in what was meant to be a 1-shot in the first season. Instead, Urkel became this generation's Fonzie, a show-stealer who quickly became a fan favorite, and America watched him and the Winslow children grow up over the course of nearly a decade.

Matters spent its first 8 seasons on ABC, where it had spun off from Perfect Strangers. Harriette Winslow debuted on that show as an elevator operator, and now we'd meet the rest of her family, including husband Carl (Reginald VelJohnson, "Die Hard"), a Chicago cop; son Eddie (Darius McCrary), and daughter Laura (Kellie Williams). Once Urkel was established as a regular, a steady subplot would find Urkel pining for---and eventually winning the love of---Laura. During the series, Urkel created a transformation chamber that would allow him to morph, "Nutty Professor"-style, into the suave, handsome Stefan Urquelle, believing that was what Laura wanted all along.

Somewhere along the way, the writers turned Stefan into a completely separate entity who was phased out during the final season, when the series shifted from ABC to CBS, along with stablemate Step By Step. In the series finale, Steve became an astronaut, and, if memory serves, he & Laura became engaged.

Edit, 11/20/22: Had to change the video. We've used this clip more recently, as Carl schools a rookie cop.

Post-Matters, Orlando Brown (3J) would resurface at Disney (That's So Raven), and Jaleel White, currently doing a car commercial trading off his famous alter-ego, shed his Urkel image in a series of roles, including hosting a reality game for SyFy, Total Blackout, which lasted two seasons.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Sports this 'n' that

With one game left in the regular season, Troy High wrapped up the Southeast Division title in NY's Section II last Friday, routing Mohonasen, 60-6. The Flying Horses, under coach Bob (The Builder) Burns, have outscored their last three opponents by a total of 177-29. Ouch! Niskayuna is the last regular season opponent for Troy, as they finish their 2nd 2-game road trip of the season, on Friday. The Silver Warriors were omitted from the Albany Times-Union's Class A standings online, chalked up to editorial error. I think I read where they're ineligible for the postseason this year for some reason. Maybe that explains it, which means they'll play for pride on Friday. Pride, and maybe some divine intervention, the way Troy's defense has been playing lately......
Conversely, Troy's boys soccer team, 3 years removed from a sectional title, sits at the bottom of their division in the Suburban Council, though the T-U has not updated their standings, due likely to some games having not been reported, a glaring problem that hasn't been fully addressed the last couple of years. Troy closes the regular season tomorrow night vs. long-time rival Christian Brothers Academy, which has also found the going tough this season, having won just 1 game. Troy's women, meanwhile, had a modest 2-game winning streak going into last night's home finale, the result of which was not in today's paper. Still, 4-11 isn't going to get you too far in the sectionals.......
I don't know who the bumbling boob is operating the scoreboard clock at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, but this loser unwittingly cost the homestanding Chargers Monday's game vs. Pittsburgh. Remember the infamous 18 minute gap on a tape of President Nixon during the Watergate mess over 40 years ago? How about the loss of 18 precious seconds, leading to the Steelers' game winning drive? I've heard of falling asleep at the switch, but.......!
Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw exorcised his postseason demons Tuesday night, outpitching Mets rookie Steven Matz as LA evened their NLDS at 2 games apiece with a 3-1 verdict. For his own safety, infielder (Paper) Chase Utley, acquired from Philadelphia earlier in the season, was kept on the bench in the wake of his takeout "slide" on the Mets' Ruben Tejada on Saturday night. Tejada is gone for the season with a broken leg, should be ready to go in time for spring training next year. Utley's moronic agent, Joel (Cry) Wolfe, decided to file an appeal of Utley's 2-game suspension. The hearing won't be until after game 5 has come and gone, but if the Dodgers should lose on Thursday, I'd not be surprised if Wolfe & Utley raise the white flag and decide to waive the appeal, and Utley would sit out the first two games of the 2016 season.

I wrote a blog piece over at Sports Card Forum on Monday where I felt initially that Utley was trying to go old school with his "slide", but upon closer examination, having previously put Tejada on the shelf while with the Phillies 5 years ago, Utley ignored the fact that he should've at least touched 2nd base, which he didn't do. The "neighborhood play", a safety valve for middle infielders such as Utley & Tejada for years and years, hardly exists anymore because of replay. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly made sure of that with his successful challenge, which in some circles, given he was a fan favorite with the Yankees in the 80's and 90's, might be construed as a betrayal of the NY fans that supported him back in the day.

Umpire Chris (no relation to Bob--we think) Guccione totally blew the call, exacerbated by replay reversing his initial out call. Had he paid closer attention to Utley, he'd have called an automatic double play, which would've wiped out the fielder's choice ruled on Howie Kendrick's grounder, and erased the tying run, scored by ex-Valleycat Enrique "Kiki" Hernandez. Instead, play continued. Adrian Gonzalez put the Dodgers up for good with a double, and ex-Met Justin Turner, now a Smith Bros. lookalike with that beard, put the final dagger in his former team with a triple.

Wolfe gets the dreaded Weasel ears for filing the appeal, because, quite frankly, in this case, the appeal process shouldn't apply to something like this. Utley, assuming the neighborhood play was in effect, ran off the field, accepting the initial call by Guccione. I will give him credit for that. The umpiring crew shouldn't have had to accept Mattingly's challenge, in hindsight, because had the six of them gotten together to review the play from start to finish, the entire landscape of the series would've changed. In short, baseball got another black eye as a result.
7 years after leaving WWE, Jonathan Coachman has been the linchpin that has brought the promotion together with his current employers at ESPN.

A former sports radio anchor before signing with the then-World Wrestling Federation in 1999, Coachman now is a SportsCenter anchor, mostly on ESPNews, which will now have interviews with WWE personalities on Tuesdays at 9 (ET). Current champ Seth Rollins was up first, with a montage of clips from the previous night's Monday Night Raw. While Rollins has the look of a rock star (facially, he resembles Nickelback singer Chad Kroeger just a wee bit), his character has all the credibility of a counterfeit dollar bill.

Right now, WWE is stopping short of actually adding to their programming schedule by placing something of significance on ESPN, which last had 1st run wrestling programming in the early 90's, with the ill-fated Global Wrestling Federation, reruns of which, and the AWA from the 80's, air on ESPN Classic. What I think WWE is trying to do is 1) appeal to the youth demo that isn't watching Raw and/or Smackdown! and isn't subscribed to their network, and 2) leverage themselves in case there is an impasse in their current deal with NBC-Universal-Comcast, even with Smackdown! shifting from SyFy to USA next year. Could we see a WWE presence at the Winter X Games? I'd not be surprised. Stay tuned.

Musical Interlude: I've Never Been to Me (1977-82)

Charlene was one of those rarest of birds. A white artist signed to Motown Records. Her 1-hit wonder, "I've Never Been to Me", was first released in 1977, but barely broke the Hot 100.

A few years pass, and radio icon Scott Shannon, then based out of Tampa, played the song for his then-girlfriend. That renewed interest in "I've Never Been to Me", which was given a new life on the Hot 100, peaking at #3, but reaching #1 on the adult contemporary chart, then topping the British pop chart in the fall of 1982.

From Top of the Pops 2, here's Charlene.

Predictably, there was no follow-up, likely due to the time lapse, and the fact that Charlene had moved on to another vocation in England after remarrying.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Creepy TV: Werewolf (1987)

Werewolf was one of the first original series for Fox when the network launched in 1987. While it was a critical darling, it ended up cancelled after 1 season.

Producers Frank Lupo & John Ashley, two former assistants to Stephen J. Cannell, struck out on their own, and hitched their wagon to Columbia-Tri-Star Television (now Sony Pictures Television), thinking they had a sure fire hit.

A college student, Eric Cord (John J. York) is bitten by his roommate, after discovering said roomie was a werewolf. He kills the roomie, but assumes the curse, which includes being chased by a bounty hunter (Lance LeGault, ex-The A-Team) while trying to find a man he believes started the bloodline, one Janos Skorzeny (Chuck Connors, in his final series).

My late father was into horror movies, and a lot of old movies in general. He was watching Werewolf regularly when it first started, but lost interest. I had no interest. Hence, no rating. Following is the episode, "Wolfhunt":

Monday, October 12, 2015

What Might've Been: Cleopatra 2525 (2000)

After exploring the mythic eras in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys & Xena: Warrior Princess, producer Robert Tapert decided to move to the far future with his next project, Cleopatra 2525.

I will freely state that I never saw the show. The show was buried locally, airing in late night on Saturday nights/Sunday mornings. That said, let's move on. Cleopatra 2525 was coupled with Bruce Campbell's Jack of All Trades for its first season (the two series bowed in January 2000), both as half-hour series, but when Trades was cancelled halfway through season 2, Cleopatra was expanded to an hour for the remainder of its run.

The plot? A 20th century girl is placed in suspended animation, and wakes up in the dystopian 26th century, where robots rule as tyrants. For someone like me who never saw it, the best way to describe Cleopatra, based on that brief synopsis, is it's Buck Rogers crossed with Charlie's Angels. The reason it aired in late night here? The local NBC affiliate held the rights, and couldn't air it in the afternoon due to sports commitments and/or the need to air infomercials, which somehow make more money than even scripted syndicated programming. Go figure.

Following is the intro. Co-star Gina Torres sings the theme song, which is a sort-of cover of Zager & Evans' 1969 hit, "In The Year 2525", albeit with new lyrics reflecting the series.

No rating.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Creepy TV: Chiller Theater (NY)(1961)

WPIX had a Saturday night tradition in place when cable television came to upstate NY in the 70's.

Chiller Theater bowed in 1961, playing a lot of B-movies. Two years in, Zacherle, aka "The Cool Ghoul", began a 2 year stint as studio host. After he left, they developed the following intro:

This remained in place until sometime in the 70's, when, amazingly, Rankin-Bass, the folks behind a zillion holiday specials, were commissioned to create a new intro, with a six-fingered hand made of clay, rising from a swamp to pull the word, Chiller, down into the muck.

Unfortunately, 'PIX pulled the plug on Chiller in the early 80's, and after bringing it back for periodic specials in recent years, decided to retire the franchise again three years ago. There was a period in the late 70's-early 80's, before Chiller was cancelled, when WPIX experimented with running the franchise in daylight, during the afternoon. Suffice to say, it ultimately didn't work.

Rating: B.

Forgotten TV: Face The Music (1980)

Syndicator Sandy Frank had been distributing the legendary music quiz, Name That Tune, for syndication. Seeing how well it was doing in the ratings, Frank figured, hey, I can make my own show along the same line. Well, not quite.

Face The Music was a mid-season entry that debuted in January 1980, and ran for 2 seasons total. Actor Ron Ely (ex-Tarzan) was tapped to host, having never done a game show before in this capacity. Frank brought over former Tune musical director Tommy Oliver to conduct the band, most of which also came over from Tune, and featured Lisa Donovan as the in house singer. So it was a clone of Tune after all, you think. Nope. The game play was a wee bit different, as you're about to see.

Veteran announcer John Harlan came over from Tune in the fall of '80 to replace Dave Williams for whatever reason. Not that it helped, since Face was cancelled soon after.

Ely's last high-profile gig might've been his most embarrassing, tasked to succeed Bert Parks as the host of the Miss America Pageant. Can you say, one-&-done? Yup.

Rating: B.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Creepy TV: Monsters (1988)

Producers George Romero & Michael Rubenstein felt Tales From the Darkside had run its course, so they switched gears and conjured a new show, strictly in the horror vein.

Monsters aired on many of the same stations that carried Darkside, and, unlike Darkside, lasted for 3 seasons (Darkside ran for 4, plus a pilot in 1983). The formula was the same, using familiar and soon-to-be-familiar stars to headline episodes, and mining the works of the likes of Stephen King for scripts. Some episodes, though, were, like Darkside, played for laughs, in order to ease things up.

Unlike Darkside, I didn't see any episodes of Monsters, so there won't be a rating. We'll leave you with the open, taken from a cable rebroadcast on Chiller.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Forgotten TV: The Tortellis (1987)

When people discuss Cheers, the only spin-off series they can think of is, of course, Frasier. That's largely because the first spin-off didn't exactly pick up the baton and run, if you catch my drift.

The Tortellis told the story of Carla's ex-husband, Dan (Dan Hedaya), and his new bride (Jean Kasem), whom viewers first met on Cheers. The series lasted just a few weeks in 1987 as a mid-season replacement, plugged right into NBC's Must-See TV Thursday block in back of, of course, Cheers.

Unlike her late husband, Casey, Jean Kasem had all the acting range of a tomato can, and for that reason alone she never landed another acting job after The Tortellis waved good-bye. Had Hanna-Barbera decided to revive, say, Josie & the Pussycats, Jean would've been a perfect choice to assume the voice role of Melody.

Anyway, here's a sample clip:

Of all the supporting characters on the show, you'd think these two would've been the last ones to merit a spin-off. Frasier succeeded Cheers, and continued for 10 years.

Rating: D.

On The Shelf: Of zombie detectives, teenagers, and other random musings

The other day, I was at a minor convention in Colonie. The venue had just undergone a change of ownership three days before the show, which left more than a few people confused. Didn't buy much, but I did find something worth discussing.

Amidst three bundles of bargain-basement books, there was perhaps one of the worst Batman miniseries of all time. Batman Unseen offers a twisted, modern-day homage to HG Wells' The Invisible Man, courtesy of writer Doug Moench, who'd written some better Bat-tales in the 80's after coming over from Marvel. Unfortunately, artist Kelley (Along Came) Jones, proving once again that it's one thing to emulate an icon, such as Berni Wrightson in this case, kills the interest deader than a picnic full of ants showered with Raid. Visually repulsive, although the script was fine.

Rating: D.

Dynamite has taken liberties with some of their licensed titles, as we've discussed here in the past. Around 2010-11, they entrusted former DC writer Scott Beatty with rebooting and updating Lee Falk's seminal jungle hero, The Phantom. Unfortunately, The Last Phantom lasted a year, plus an annual, and is bogged down with 21st century technology trying to overrun the tradition Falk had established with the "Ghost Who Walks". Small wonder, then, that the rights to the franchise are now split between Dynamite and Hermes Press.

Anyway, Beatty tells the story of a modern-day descendant who reluctantly adopts the mantle of the Phantom after his wife & child are killed. Turns out his business partner was a duplicitous, greedy jerk (aren't they all in literature these days) who wanted their business for himself and his criminal schemes. Lex Luthor or Wilson Fisk, he ain't. Not even close. Sadly, he stuck around for the entirety of the run.

Rating: C--.

Bill Morrison has long been associated with Bongo Comics' Simpsons line of books, but he moves over to Dark Horse for a wickedly amusing mini-series, Dead Vengeance, which launched this week. Morrison wrote & penciled the tale of a crusading reporter, long thought dead, but turns up as a zombie entombed in a water chamber at a carnival. An innocent youth recites a minor incantation that brings the guy back to life, amnesiac, and trying to put the pieces back together before setting out to avenge his own death. Oh, this is fun reading.

Rating: A-.

The 21st century makeover of the Archie Comics line continues with Jughead being relaunched under the auspices of writer Chip Zdarsky (Howard the Duck) and artist Erica Henderson (Squirrel Girl). As revealed in the pages of Archie, Jughead's family was wealthy, too, until some misfortune dropped them down the tax bracket ladder, if you will. The Jugster is smarter than he seems, although he still comes across as being the forerunner to the likes of Maynard G. Krebs (Dobie Gillis' sidekick) and Scooby-Doo's eternally hungry master, Shaggy.

What drives the plot is a commentary on the recent trend toward pushing healthier lunch programs in schools, coupled with the surprising decision, albeit short-term at best, to "retire" long-time Riverdale HS principal Waldo Weatherbee. As with Archie, the evolution of the old house style is revisited in the form of reprints in the backup slot.

Another interesting trend? Both Jughead & Archie are being drawn by women. As we've noted, it's been reported that the pending relaunch of Betty & Veronica had Adam Hughes attached. Go figure.

Jughead gets an A. Zdarsky's script reads better than his work on Howard the Duck.

More Archie news: The Archie Horror line has run into another snag, as artists Robert Hack (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) and Francesco Francavilla (Afterlife With Archie) are so in demand for variant covers with other publishers, plus other Archie books, that they've both fallen way behind again. One message board writer mused that issue 9 of Afterlife might not be out until after the 1st of the year. That doesn't bode well for the future, in this writer's opinion. Archie is already undergoing artistic changes due to Fiona Staples' commitments to Image's Saga. Annie Wu (Black Canary) draws issue 4, which was intentionally pushed back to Thanksgiving week (11/25) to give Ms. Wu some extra time. After that, Veronica Fish takes over with issue 5, which should be out in time for Christmas. It's funny. At the hometown comics shop over the summer, I'd met a customer who was a fan of Saga, so I touted the relaunch of Archie. Not sure if she took my advice, free of charge as it was.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Creepy TV: War of the Worlds (1988)

35 years after George Pal's feature film adaptation of the HG Wells classic, Paramount brought back War of the Worlds as a weekly series. Series creator Greg Strangis made some changes, which only served to prove he was better off leaving well enough alone.

In the film, the aliens were clearly meant to be from Mars, as Wells had intended. Because interest in life on the "red planet" had waned by the late 80's, Strangis decided to change that, and relocated the aliens from the film to the ficticious planet of Mor-Trax. A terrorist attack eliminated the bacteria that was keeping the Mor-Traxians in suspended animation (as opposed to the bacteria killing the Martians in the movie), and the aliens rewarded them by taking over their forms. And so it went.

Jared Martin (ex-The Fantastic Journey) starred and provides the opening narration from season 1:

14 weeks into a season 2 that saw more changes, including producer Frank Mancuso, Jr. adding Worlds to his workload (he was also the showrunner for stablemate Friday the 13th: The Series), Paramount pulled the plug. In this writer's opinion, it just wasn't meant to be.

Rating: C-.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Musical Interlude: Down in the Boondocks (1965)

News came across the wires this morning of the passing of singer Billy Joe Royal at 73. In his memory, we dedicate his 1965 hit, "Down in the Boondocks", which, if memory serves, climbed both the pop & country charts back then. For the balance of his career, Royal identified more as a country artist.

Creepy TV: Tales From the Darkside (1983)

Horror legend George Romero, following the success of his film, "Creepshow", decided to give TV a try. Since Warner Bros., which co-produced "Creepshow" with Romero's production company, had other ideas, Romero opted for a syndicated anthology series.

Tales From the Darkside started with a pilot, shown in October 1983, then went to series a year later, beginning a 4 season run (1984-8), which adapted works by the likes of Harlan Ellison and Stephen King, and attracted a cast of diverse talents ranging from comics Chuck McCann and Jerry Stiller to lesser knowns just making their break, like Theresa Saldana, who headlined the season 3 episode, "Black Widows", about a woman who discovers her family's dark secret on her wedding night.

Rather than run the risk of an episode later being deleted due to copyright issues, we'll offer up an open/close video:

Two years after the series ended, Darkside returned as a feature film with Debbie Harry and Clarence Williams III (ex-Mod Squad), among others. At last check, Chiller had the cable rights, while CBS Television Distribution (formerly CBS-Paramount) is distributing the show, and insofar as I know, only the first season is out on DVD.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Celebrity Rock: Cuban Pete (1994)

From "The Mask" soundtrack: John Arcudi's comic book anti-hero (Jim Carrey, ex-In Living Color) breaks into song, particularly a cover of Desi Arnaz's "Cuban Pete":

Carrey would come back 2 years later in "The Cable Guy" with a cover of Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody To Love", done more for comic effect, and, as we've previously seen, he also contributed to a George Martin tribute CD by covering the Beatles' "I Am The Walrus".

Some Weasels are repeat offenders just because.........

If you've ever wondered why some people have been designated as Weasel of the Week over and over again, well, they don't know enough to stay out of trouble, do they now?

Take for example ESPN's Stephen A. Smith. While I think we're all in agreement Seattle Seahawks star Richard Sherman doesn't deserve to have Smith sharing space with him in those idiotic Oberto Beef Jerky ads (we're in season 2 of this gimmick of Smith being the voice in the pit of Sherman's tummy), Smith's even more nauseating in his natural environment on ESPN's First Take. Consider his remarks on Monday's broadcast, where he warned Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant not to make an enemy out of him, just because Durant objected to Smith's claims that the Los Angeles Lakers were interested in signing Durant as a free agent after the coming season.

Now, no journalist worth his salt would divulge the sources from whence he gets his information, and Smith admitted he didn't talk to Durant or any of the player's "inner circle". His sources, then, are probably the voices in his head, making up nonsense as they go along. Howard Cosell would be embarrassed to have ever met Smith, who talks like the late lawyer-turned-sportscaster did, but with 10 times more bombast and imbecility.

What gets Smith another set of Weasel ears, plus a tail, is the fact he's using his status on ESPN, shaky though that is, to try to pass off his rumors as gospel. And the network ain't doing anything to refute him or offer a disclaimer ("The views expressed by Stephen A. Smith do not reflect those of ESPN, the Walt Disney Company, etc.") before he is put in front of the camera 5 mornings a week. We know he can't carry a talk show by himself, as ESPN tried him there and he bombed.
And, then, there is the cult known as Westboro Baptist Church. They know their 15 minutes have run out, but they don't care. The Phelps family just won't go away gently into that good night, because when have they really had a good night?

They tried picketing a Kansas City high school, just because the school's Homecoming Queen is a transgendered teen. The students wanted no part of the Topeka Turds, so they had a counter-protest, and sent the Phelps clan back across the border with their tails between their legs. Well, at least we could wish they would finally get a clue, but, nope.

Now comes word that the Phelps flock plans to picket, of all places, the National Weather Service, on Thursday. As usual, they're tying this to their anti-gay hate speech agenda. The continued ignorance of New Testament doctrines in favor of the Old Testament has turned Westboro into a joke in the wake of founding wackjob Fred Phelps' passing. We gave Steve Drain a Dunce Cap not too long ago because he didn't understand why someone would actually offer condolences and compassion after Fred Phelps passed on. However, Marge Phelps, who should be disbarred as a lawyer because of her abuse of priveleges, among other things, just won't give up the fight, even though it is a losing battle.

If they really want something to talk about, let's see what happens if a plane passes over them, dropping a crate of Gideon New Testaments. While the Apostle Paul railed against homosexuality, the theme of the New Testament has largely been how God loves everyone. Another option would be for the Phelps clan to pick 5 family members to embarrass themselves on Family Feud. Current host Steve Harvey would have a field day with them. It's either that, or Harvey could guest-host TBN's Praise the Lord and debate these Weasels for 2 hours.......!
Finally, time to hand out some fresh Weasel ears, and it's to the know-nothings in New York City railing against Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia.

As mentioned yesterday, Sabathia has elected to sit out the post-season and enter rehab for alcohol addiction. While ye scribe applauds Sabathia's self-less decision to clean up his personal life, putting his career on hold in the process, talk radio listeners, which NY Daily News media columnist Bob Raissman refers to as the "Valley of the Stupid", lived up to that monicker by going on the air and on Twitter to falsely accuse Sabathia of the exact opposite, being selfish.

The truth is, and former Met & Yankee star Darryl Strawberry was quick to make note of this in today's Daily News, Sabathia is doing the right thing here, setting his career aside in order to better his personal life, knowing that his issues had a damaging effect on him on the mound this season. With one season remaining on his current Yankee contract, Sabathia feels he owes it to himself, his family, friends, and the team, as well as its rabid, spoiled fan base, to get cleaned up, and put his demons behind him. Those that complain about him don't understand, don't want to understand, and will further vilify him if the Yanks lose to Houston tonight. What they should be doing is praying for him, not hating on him.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Musical Interlude: Imaginary Lover (1978)

The Atlanta Rhythm Section only had a couple of hits, and 1978's "Imaginary Lover" may be the better known of the two......

I was going to save this for Valentine's Day, but why wait?

2105 MLB Playoff preview, part 1

And now, all 10 spots have been filled for Major League Baseball's silly season (playoffs). Let's just take a look:

American League:

Wild Card round: Houston @ Yankees: The Astros have been the Cinderella story in the AL this season, and won the season series from the Yanks. Ex-Tri-City Valleycat Dallas Keuchel figures to get the ball Tuesday night, in the biggest game of his young career. The Bronx Bombers have turned into pop guns at the worst possible time, losing six of seven in the season's final week, including getting swept by Baltimore over the last two days.

Still, if there is any solace for the Yankees, they can forge ahead, dedicating this postseason to the memory of Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, who passed away 2 weeks ago. They won't have CC Sabathia pitching for them, however, as it has been reported that Sabathia has elected to go into alcohol rehab and forego the playoffs. Still, it's a must win for the Yankees, given the spoiled, rabid fan base in NYC, and a loss here could spell the end for Joe Girardi after 8 seasons in the Bronx. They do need to do some housecleaning in Yankee Stadium, anyway. The winner, however, gets defending AL Champ Kansas City, so a win just prolongs the inevitable.

The pick: Houston.

ALDS: Houston @ Kansas City: The last time the Royals had reached the playoffs in consecutive years was in the 70's, when Whitey Herzog was the manager, before he crossed the interstate to manage St. Louis. Houston is in for the first time as an AL Club, and last made the playoffs 10 years ago, losing in the World Series to the White Sox after upsetting Atlanta in the NLCS.  The Astros have progressed further & faster than anyone imagined, but, as the old saying goes, you have to learn to walk before you can run, and the Royals would love to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their lone World Series title in style.

The pick: Royals in 4.

Texas @ Toronto: It's been 22 years since Joe Carter led the Blue Jays to their 2nd consecutive title, upsetting Philadelphia in the process. While I personally question the logic in their July swap of veteran shortstops, sending speedy but injury prone Jose Reyes to Colorado for injury prone slugger Troy Tulowitzki, I have to say the Blue Jays fall into the walk before you can run category.

The Rangers, meanwhile, aren't too far off from their consecutive losing appearances under Ron Washington in the Fall Classic, but, like the Astros, no one expected them to get this far. Getting Josh Hamilton back from the Angels certainly was a plus, but he's not the featured star on the team anymore. However, I can't see the Rangers going any further.

The pick: Blue Jays in 5.

National League:

Wild Card round: Chicago @ Pittsburgh: Joe Maddon came to Chi-town with one goal in mind, and that was not only to get the Cubs into the post-season, but all the way to the World Series as well. The young nucleus of talent is jelling quicker than expected, and there's more where that came from. As for all the whining from Scott "Turf Builder" Boras at the start of the season in re.: Kris Bryant? Forgotten, especially if the Cubs can win it all. Maddon, Theo Epstein, et al, knew what they were doing with Bryant all along, even if the greedy but clueless Boras acted like he didn't. The Pirates are this generation's Atlanta. And so it goes.

The pick: Cubs.

NLDS: Cubs @ Cardinals: There are, I think, some people who'd like to see a rematch of the '85 Series between the Royals & Cardinals, but it isn't going to happen. Yes, St. Louis gets Adam Wainwright back in time for the playoffs, but that isn't going to be enough. Jake Arietta looks more like a Cy Young winner than the Dodgers' 2-headed monster (see below). The Cardinals may not have All-Star catcher Yadier Molina, and that might be a big difference.

The pick: Cubs in 5.

Mets @ Dodgers: Like the Yankees, the Mets backpedaled into the playoffs, losing 5 of their final 6, and their offense has gone back to June swoon mode at the wrong time. They need to wake up the bats to back up the pitching, especially knowing that Clayton Kershaw & Zack Greinke await this weekend in LA. Yes, the Mets won the season series, 4-3, and that was before the roster makeover at the end of July. One of those summer pick-ups, however, may not be available, as Juan Uribe missed the better part of the last week with an injury, reducing the Mets' bench & infield depth considerably. Terry Collins has waited his entire managerial career to reach the playoffs, and has the horses to ride the series to the limit. The idea is to make sure Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and either Bartolo Colon or Steven Matz can go at least six, then turn it over to the bullpen. The Dodgers are going to wish they never let Dee Gordon go......

The pick: Mets in 5.

Of course, I could be wrong.