Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Origin of a Classic: The debut of Maude (All in The Family, 1971)

All in The Family was in its 2nd season, and already was generating water cooler talk, largely because of Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor) and his myopic world view. America's Bigot, however, was about to meet his match.

Maude (Beatrice Arthur) was every bit the opposite of Archie, which explains why he didn't want her coming to Queens to tend to him, Mike (Rob Reiner), & Gloria (Sally Struthers, Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm) when they were stricken with the flu. But Maude came anyway.......

"Cousin Maude's Visit" first aired in December 1971.

Maude would return three months later in what was a formal "back-door" pilot for her own series, which launched the following fall.

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

The Kansas City Chiefs have decided that they'll go into training camp this summer with the idea of 2nd year pro Patrick Mahomes, Jr., son of a former Mets & Twins pitcher, possibly being their starting quarterback. They like that idea so much that they traded incumbent starter Alex Smith to the Washington Trumpets on Tuesday. Now, there's just the matter of the other shoe dropping, that is, where Kirk Cousins will end up when the regular season begins anew in September.

All that says is that in the final analysis, Trumpets owner Daniel Snyder didn't have enough faith in either of the quarterbacks he drafted in 2012, Cousins or Robert Griffin III, as he dismissed Griffin a couple of years back, and now Cousins is being shown the door. Not a good move on either front, in this writer's estimation.
LaSalle's hockey team rebounded from a 4-4 draw with Bethlehem on Friday night by completing a season sweep of Niskayuna-Schenectady last night with a 2-1 win at Union College. The Cadets picked up a point and a 1/2-game in the standings on the idle Eagles, and continue their road trip this Friday with a return match vs. Saratoga. LaSalle beat the Blue Streaks earlier this month. If they run the table and win their remaining four games, they'll be assured of a 2 seed in the playoffs next month.
It's clear that Glens Falls High tailors its offense around junior phenom Joe Girard III, who's been averaging 50 points a game. Last night, Girard broke the state scoring record, previously held by Lance Stephenson, Jr., currently with the NBA's Indiana Pacers, in leading Glens Falls to a win over Amsterdam in an important Foothills Council match. The Rugged Rams used a man-to-man defense for much of the night, sometimes employing double-teams on Girard, who finally exploded in the fourth quarter to lead a final charge to victory. Congratulations to Girard.

We should note that it's very, very rare for an athlete from this part of the state to make it to the NBA. Jimmer Fredette, now in China, was a rare exception. So was current Schenectady women's coach James Thomas. Both went to major colleges (Brigham Young & Texas, respectively), but it seems someone in the NBA hierarchy doesn't believe the talent pool in upstate NY is as deep or talented as it is downstate. Stephenson grew up in Brooklyn, and a lot of NBA players, past & present, have hailed from the Big Apple's five boroughs.

Perhaps the most successful player to make the jump from the upstate corridor to the NBA is Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley, for whom the Patriots' home gym in Schenectady is named. Riley, now the president of the Miami Heat, won multiple titles in the 80's with the Lakers.
Back at home, the Troy High women's basketball team closed the home portion of the schedule on a sour note, losing 55-32 to Colonie as the Garnet Raiders collected a receipt from last year's sectionals. Erin Fouracre led all scorers with 14 points, as offense was at a premium. Jenalyse Alarcon, Alaina Holmes, and Juliana Valenti led Troy with 6 points each. The Lady Horses open a season-ending three game road trip Friday at Columbia.

Meanwhile, Colonie's boys team continued its mastery over Troy with a 61-55 win. The Flying Horses are now 0-3 on the boys' side of the ledger vs. the Garnet Raiders. Lateef Johnson led all scorers with a season high 26 points. Latyce Faison was held to a season low 2 points. Naziaire Merritt had 9 points, and Alonzo Alexander had 8. Isaiah Moll and Kyle Aybar led Colonie with 23 points each. Coach Greg Davis' club is now 9-6 on the season (9-4 in the Suburban Council), and trails CBA by two games with four to play in the league. Troy comes home to welcome back former star Curtis Sankey and the Columbia Blue Devils on Friday before heading off to Middletown on Saturday for their final non-league game of the season.

We should note that if you check the Albany Times-Union's web site, they have the league record wrong for Troy. They have Troy as 8-5 in league play, when it should be 9-4. Their proofreaders may have been trained by Mr. Magoo.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

What Might've Been: East Side/West Side (1963)

Welcome to David Susskind's New York.

Susskind, best remembered as a prominent talk show host in the Big Apple for many years, was also one of the founding fathers of Talent Associates, which produced mostly sitcoms during its relatively short existence in the 60's & 70's. The studio is best known for, of course, Get Smart, the classic spy spoof that ran for five seasons on NBC (1965-9) and CBS (1969-70), and a pair of critically acclaimed but short-lived dramas that presented a realistic picture of life in New York. We've previously reviewed both Smart and N.Y.P.D., so let's take a look at that other drama, East Side/West Side.

George C. Scott starred as social worker Neil Brock, who did his level best to help the poor and downtrodden, the disadvantaged, the so-called "lost causes" of the city. Part of the reason the show was cancelled after one season was because of issues between Scott and CBS executive James Aubrey, who wasn't exactly a programming genius.

I was but an infant when East Side was launched, so I don't know if my folks ever watched this show. I have had occasion to check it out, thanks to episodes being available on YouTube. I think this might've recently aired on Decades (check local listings) after its last cable home was the defunct Trio channel.

Anyway, let's check out this episode from October 1963, "I Before E Except After C", co-written by Ossie Davis.

Guest stars William Daniels (later of Captain Nice, Knight Rider, St. Elsewhere, & Boy Meets World) & Howard Da Silva would team again more than a decade later in the musical, "1776". By then, Da Silva was well established for his portrayals of Benjamin Franklin, including a 1-man show that eventually merited a TV special.

Rating: A.

On the Shelf: James Bond's Gal Friday goes solo, and other things

Time to do some catching up.

Last August, Dynamite released a 1-shot special showcasing James Bond's Gal Friday, if you will, Moneypenny. Eve Moneypenny, as she's now known in Bond canon, was a field agent before being moved into an office job. In this 1-off written by Andy Diggle, Eve, modeled after her current portrayer, Naomie Harris, gets back into the field, with minimal participation from 007 himself. Is it worth spending the extra dollar? Depends on how you look at it. It's serviceable, and entertaining.

Rating: B-.

Meanwhile, Dynamite made a big mistake entrusting The Spirit's latest miniseries, "The Corpse Makers", to one of the busiest artists in the business, Francesco Francavilla, who, while waiting for the green light on the next issue of Afterlife With Archie, is doing covers for other books. His attempt at emulating and paying homage to Will Eisner was fine, but being tasked to write and draw the 5 issue miniseries was asking for trouble, given his workload. The final issue came out 7 months after it was supposed to, and, as a result, the finish was underwhelming, despite the introduction in the series of an African-American detective who could end up being the Spirit's new police contact down the road if they play it right.

Rating: B.

Over at DC, the task of developing the origin story of Hanna-Barbera's Birdman in Future Quest Presents was given to Phil Hester. Steve Rude is doing some of his best work, and it shows. Hester's idea is to reveal that Ray Randall, aka Birdman, has lost chunks of his memory since gaining his powers. You know, that sounds awfully familiar if you're a fan of a certain X-Man. For some reason, in soliciting the trade paperback coming out in March, DC is leaving out the Galaxy Trio one shot from issue 4. Hmmmmmmm.

Rating: A.

DC also has included a preview of The Terrifics, debuting next month. Looks promising, and will he priced at $3 per issue. Mister Terrific returns to lead the new team, which figures to include Metamorpho, among others.

I was blessed at Christmas time, as my brother gave me volumes 2-3 of DC's Silver Age reprint trades of the original Justice League of America. The simple storytelling of writer Gardner Fox is lost on a lot of today's creators, although the closest one comes to Fox would be Bat-scribe Tom King. Later writers have rebooted some of Fox's classic stories, such as the team's definitive origin story, when it really wasn't necessary. Today, in order to get a handle on the JLA's history, you need these books, as well as a scorecard.

Rating: A.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Sports this 'n' that

Contrary to Thomas Wolfe, yes, you can go home again.

Jonathan Coachman left the WWE 10 years ago to work for ESPN, and was instrumental in the "Worldwide Leader in Sports" expanding coverage of WWE from periodic fluff pieces to feature reporting before leaving ESPN last year due to budget cuts. After appearing on Monday Night Raw's 25th anniversary show last week, the other shoe dropped when Coachman signed a new deal with WWE, and will rejoin the Raw broadcast team beginning with tonight's broadcast.

Coachman takes over for Booker Huffman, otherwise better known as Booker T, who moves back to being a panelist for pre-show programs. It also frees Huffman to make a run for mayor of his hometown of Houston, following the footsteps of fellow grappler-politician Glenn Jacobs (Kane), who will be up for election in March for mayor of Knox County, Tennessee. Huffman was supposed to be a temporary commentator on Raw while ex-wrestler and legal analyst David Otunga was filming a movie. Otunga has issues of his own with his ex, singer-actress Jennifer Hudson, so now he's free to focus 100% on that issue.
The big news coming out of Sunday's Royal Rumble was not that the Japanese wrestlers swept the two Rumble matches (Shinsuke Nakamura for the men, Asuka for the women), but rather that former UFC champion and actress Ronda Rousey took time out from filming a movie in Columbia with Mark Wahlberg to fly back to the US, sign her contract, and make a surprise appearance at the end of the night.

Leave it to ESPN bloviator Stephen A. Smith, however, to throw cold water on it all. Unfortunately, Max Kellerman seems to agree with the notion that Rousey may be done with UFC. Scope this out from First Take:

Uh, guys, Brock Lesnar would like to have a word with you.

The current WWE Universal champ left WWE the first time in 2004, and signed with UFC after a failed tryout with the NFL's Minnesota Vikings. Lesnar returned to WWE in 2012 after diverticulitis cut his MMA career short, save for one fight a couple of years ago in between WWE bookings. Lesnar's contract runs out in August, and the rumors are that he'd like to return to the octagon and make up for lost time there. That said, I don't think Rousey's days in MMA are done.
While we don't know if Steve Spagnuolo will return to the Giants next season as part of Pat Shurmur's staff, he reflected back on his time as a defensive assistant with Philadelphia prior to Super Bowl XXXIX. Shock of shocks, he believes the New England Patriots, who will face the Eagles again in the big dance this year, may have taped some Eagles practices prior to the 2005 meeting. Just when we all thought it was safe, the past gets dredged up again at the worst possible time. Nothing like a reminder of Spygate to be the first thing on the bulletin board leading to the game.

Maybe Spagnuolo should get into the Witness Protection Program instead of returning to the Giants.....
There's an old proverb that rings ever so true from time to time. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

In other words, La Loudmouth is at it again.

LaVar Ball has conned his way into being a head coach for at least one game for his sons' team in Lithuania, which doesn't speak well for the host country. That aside, Ball threw major shade at Golden State coach Steve Kerr, calling him the "Milli Vanilli of coaching". Oh, I don't know about that. All Kerr has done is win 2 NBA titles at the helm of the Warriors, and won a few as a player alongside a guy Ball thinks he's better than. Yeah, you know. Michael Jordan. If anyone is a phony as a coach, it's Ball, who wins another Weasel of the Week award.

The sad thing is, none of Ball's kids will ever understand how to truly play the game of basketball as long as their doddering dad continues to fill their minds with misinformation about his own career, and how he's living vicariously through them. If the Los Angeles Lakers don't make the playoffs, it won't be coach Luke Walton's fault nor that of Lonzo Ball. They just happen to be in a down period right now, as some teams are. La Loudmouth should spend the summer in a padded cell watching reruns of his idol, Fred Sanford, instead of misleading another AAU team to ruin.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Would you let a dog wash your car? (2018)

Kia has the hamsters. Subaru wants to show they're still relevant, so what can they do that hasn't been done?

Truth be told, I don't think this is the answer.

A dog driving a car has been done. A dog washing a car, I think has been done (Scooby-Doo, anyone?). This is an unoriginal attempt at regaining relevancy. Nothing more to see here.

Rockin' Funnies: Stand Back (1987)

Sometimes, Vince McMahon just can't help himself.

In 1987, the Slammy Awards had been moved from the spring to right before Christmas, to coincide with the release of "Piledriver: The Wrestling Album II", a sequel few actually wanted. No, seriously. While there were actually some good tunes on the album, although Robbie Dupree's attempt at a comeback flamed out with the cheesy "Girls in Cars", McMahon had to take home the prize for the campiest performance ever.

He had Hulk Hogan pull his bass guitar out of mothballs, then had wrestlers Jake Roberts, Brutus Beefcake, Junkyard Dog, B. Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, and the late "Macho Man" Randy Savage pretend to play instruments as a backing band. McMahon came out trying to be a poor man's Tom Jones, but came off as Jones crossed with Adam West doing a cabaret act. Problem is, well, Jesse Ventura hit the right note in his intro. McMahon couldn't sing a lick.

"Stand Back" is not to be confused with the Stevie Nicks hit of the same name that came out four years earlier.

Of course, 20 years later, it became fodder for mocking McMahon. For the record, as we've documented, at least Adam West could actually carry a tune.........

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Classic TV: The Danny Kaye Show (1963)

Song & dance man Danny Kaye spent four seasons (1963-7) entertaining viewers on CBS with his self-titled variety series. It's just a pity he wasn't given a second go-round, unlike, say for example, Andy Williams, whose NBC show was cancelled, then brought back for another go-round, then cancelled a second time.

If you only know Kaye from his movies, the fact that he was a founding co-owner of the Seattle Mariners, or his tireless charity work back in the day for UNICEF, scope the show out. It's a treat.

Edit, 1/21/2020: Had to change the video. Here's a sample open from the final season.

Of course, you know that series regular Harvey Korman would later fill a similar role with Carol Burnett, and I think he might've segued to Burnett's show as Kaye's was coming to an end. Henry Beckman is better known as a respected character actor (i.e. Here Come The Brides)

Rating: A.

What Might've Been: Busting Loose (1977)

Second generation star Adam Arkin landed his first series gig in the winter of 1977, cast in the lead of CBS' Busting Loose, which ran for a grand total of 21 episodes between January & November of '77. Which begs to ask. Why renew it if you're going to turn your back on it two months into the second season?

Truth is, viewers turned away in droves when the second season began, after the series was moved from Monday to Wednesday nights. Even though Loose was coupled with Good Times, the two sitcoms were matched against Eight is Enough  (ABC) & The Life & Times of Grizzly Adams (NBC). My folks preferred Grizzly Adams, most Nielsen families opted for Enough. Ballgame over.

It wasn't for lack of trying. What the producers were hoping for was an ensemble buddy comedy that would've suggested studio stablemate Happy Days all grown up, with the setting being New York instead of Milwaukee. The lack of a Fonzie-esque character didn't help matters. Arkin and friends were helped along by veterans Pat Carroll (ex-Make Room For Daddy) and Jack Kruschen, better known for his frequent appearances in commercials and on Barney Miller.

Co-executive producer Mark Rothman also composed the show's swinging theme song, but the music otherwise came from Jack Elliott & Allyn Ferguson (Barney Miller, Charlie's Angels, etc.). Co-star Greg Antonacci was also a consultant, but wasn't heard from again on camera.

Let's check out a sample episode.

I can relate to Lenny's sitch. He's got an engineering degree and works in a shoe store? My brother has a Ph.D, but put himself up too high, career wise, and can't get a teaching job.

Of course, more than a decade later, Married......With Children found the gold mine with a high school jock turned shoe salesman who became a cult favorite.......

Generic sitcom fare of the period. Not much else.

Rating: B.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Musical Interlude: Mambo #5 (1999)

Fifty years after Perez Prado had recorded it as an instrumental track, German singer Lou Bega became a 1-hit wonder here in the US with "Mambo #5". The track hit #1 in Australia and stayed there for 2 months. Not quite so hot here in the US, despite the video......

Nearly 20 years later, Bega's still trading off "Mambo", doing commercials and such.

High School Fridays: Ballston Spa @ Troy (boys' basketball), 1/26/18

Mid-term exam week usually means a smaller than normal crowd for basketball. Then again, there was another reason why Clem Zotto Memorial Gym at Troy High wasn't filled tonight. We'll get to that later.

For Coach Greg Davis' Flying Horses, it was back to business, six days after another heartbreaking non-league loss to Kingston. Ballston Spa provided the opposition tonight, as Troy begins its final push toward its second division title in three years.

Early in the first quarter, Kevin Ledesma-Mora got the scoring started for Troy with a 3 pointer. However, the Scotties answered with a 9-0 run to move in front, and led, 17-14, after the period. As has often been the case this season, Troy's defense had enough holes to allow for at least one opposing player to carry his team. In this case, it was Luke Alteri, who led all scorers with 23 points. Troy held Ballston Spa to just seven points in the second quarter to take the lead for good. Nazaire Merritt led Troy with 16 points. Joe Casale added 10 before getting into foul trouble in the fourth quarter, and Troy put down the Scotties, 63-53.

Troy moves to 9-3 in the Suburban Council (9-5 overall) with the win. They will play three of their last five league games at home, which should be a huge advantage. Up next will be a road game at Colonie on Tuesday, as the Flying Horses will look for their first win vs. Colonie since joining the Suburban Council in 2015.

Conversely, the Troy women continue to trend in the opposite direction. Jenalyse Alarcon's season high 28 points were not nearly enough, as the Lady Horses dropped their seventh in their last eight league games, 59-50, to Ballston Spa. What teams are doing is cutting off whatever support Alarcon could use on offense, forcing her to be virtually a one-woman team on a rebuilding club. Troy's home finale is Tuesday vs. Colonie before finishing with a three game road trip.

As for the other reason why Zotto Memorial Gym wasn't even half-full? Recent graduate Sabrina Wolfe was in town with Rochester Institute of Technology to play RPI's women's team. It was a sweet homecoming for Wolfe, who finished with 18 points, as RIT defeated RPI, 80-59. Sabrina's brother, Alex, is on Troy's JV team, which also won tonight. One wonders if he managed to make it over to RPI to see his sister play after his game was over.
On the ice: LaSalle had a chance to close some ground on Bethlehem in their game tonight, but the two teams come away with a 4-4 draw. Thomas Ryan had 2 goals, Jack O'Bryan & Ryan Murray had one each, and Casey Boone had 35 saves in net for the Cadets, who are still unbeaten in their last seven games (6-0-1). The Cadets will remain on the road as they visit Niskayuna-Schenectady on Tuesday.

The XFL lives again----but will it last?

On Thursday afternoon, WWE Chairman-CEO Vince McMahon announced the relaunch of the XFL, his short-lived football league which was last seen in 2001, and the subject of a ESPN 30 For 30 documentary last year.

Seemingly learning from the mistakes he made 17 years ago, McMahon has decided to keep the WWE & XFL separate this time. No crossovers, meaning you won't see Jerry Lawler, Jesse Ventura, or Jim Ross in the booth, although two of the three had experience as football announcers prior to 2001. No cheerleaders, which might be a mistake unto itself, and McMahon is even throwing out the idea of no halftime, in order to get the games to a 2 hour time frame that he has suggested.

Otherwise, the structure remains the same. 8 teams. 10 week regular season. Top 4 teams advance to the playoffs. Maximum 13 week schedule. One important caveat is that there will be no players with arrest records, not even a DUI on their record, on any of the rosters. Yes, it again is meant to be an alternative to the NFL, and the goal is to relaunch the league in 2020, right before the Super Bowl.

That itself might not be a good idea, and by the time 2020 rolls around, McMahon will be 74, and have probably forgotten and have been reminded a zillion times over in order to stay on point.

Now, let's listen to what he had to say on Thursday:

Of course, the media weighed in. We'll start with Michael Kay on the Yes Network. Peter Rosenberg, one of Kay's co-hosts, is also on the WWE payroll.

TMZ Sports interviewed ex-WWE & ESPN commentator Jonathan Coachman, who said he won't be a part of XFL 2.0, which goes back to what I noted above. Announcer Matt Vasgersian may not be available, either, as busy as he is these days, but then, if WWE bolts USA Network again next year when their current contract runs out, and takes Fox's money, that may change.

Do I think this will work the 2nd time around? No. Given McMahon's age and history with non-WWE projects works against him here, I'd say it's another one and done. It wouldn't hurt to try, but don't say I didn't warn you.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Musical Interlude: Watching the River Run (2013)

Jim Messina revisited one of his earlier hits with Kenny Loggins, 1974's "Watching the River Run", nearly 40 years later, this time with singer-actress Crystal Bernard (ex-Wings, Happy Days) as his vocal partner.....

Yes, Crystal has released a couple of albums of her own. Vocally, it sounds like there's a bit of Dolly Parton to her singing. Agree or disagree, pilgrims.

Sports this 'n' that

The World Series champion Houston Astros have shuffled minor league managers. Morgan Ensberg, the former Astro who guided the Tri-City Valleycats to a 3rd place finish in the Stedler division last year, won't be back for a 2nd year. Instead, Ensberg will manage the Astros' Advanced Class A team in Buies Creek NC. Jason Bell becomes the 3rd different Valleycats manager in as many years, following Ensberg and Lamarr Rogers. The V-Cats have failed to make the playoffs the last two seasons after 4 straight division titles, three under Ed Romero, and a NY-Penn League crown in 2013.
The NFL has taken some heat for not approving a 1 page ad in the official program for Super Bowl 52 from the American Veterans group, which is taking a stand against players kneeling or doing anything else but standing for the National Anthem before games. American Veterans, one would guess, would have the seal of approval of a certain man-child in Washington who's turned the players' silent protests over the last two seasons into a political powder keg, changing the theme from racial inequality and social injustice to disrespect of the veterans and the military in general. A 3rd party publisher produces the programs, but the league has final approval over content.

In other words, they're looking to control the message, and don't want the Super Bowl tainted by politics. News flash. The big game already is, if you believe anyone that thinks the league and its television partners (NBC, which will have the game, CBS, Fox, & ESPN) conspired to fix the playoffs.
Here's one for the books.

After being a studio analyst for Fox the last couple of post-seasons, Alex Rodriguez will be a color analyst for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball this season, in addition to his Fox duties. He's not the only one collecting multiple paychecks, though. Matt Vasgersian, who's called games for Fox & MLB Network, and has been affiliated with Fox for several years, dating back to FX's short-lived Toughman competitions, replaces Dan Schulman, who will spend most of his time likely in Toronto this season. Jessica Mendoza and Buster Olney will return to round out the 4 person team.

Something tells me this may be the start of something even bigger, like ESPN partnering with MLB to the point where Vasgersian could be calling games for three different networks this season. It's not unprecedented, given the partnership between the NFL Network and NBC/CBS. Can you imagine, however, Harold Reynolds, who left ESPN for MLB in relative disgrace a few years back, returning to ESPN under this kind of agreement?
It's Regents mid-term week in high schools throughout New York, and most schools have put their sports on hold until the end of the week.

However, there were two games of note on Tuesday in boys' basketball. Suburban Council blue division leader Saratoga ran their winning streak to 11 in a row in beating LaSalle (Colonial Council). The Cadets have dropped 3 of their last 5 to fall behind Schalmont. Meanwhile, Albany Academy, which plays more of an independent schedule in basketball, beat Guilderland, 70-43. The Dutchmen are in rebuilding mode this season, which would explain the lopsided result.

Things should be back to normal come Friday.
The coaching carousel has begun spinning in the NFL, with three first-time head coaches having been hired in the last couple of days.

Steve Wilks will be the new head man in Arizona, replacing the retired Bruce Arians. Arians, in turn, has reportedly expressed interest in taking Jon Gruden's old chair on Monday Night Football, now that Gruden has returned to Oakland. The Giants hired Minnesota offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, the nephew of former defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur, on Monday. Where that leaves Steve Spagnuolo remains to be seen. Finally, Mike Vrabel, after serving as defensive coordinator in Houston this past season, moves to AFC South rival Tennessee to replace Mike Mularkey. Vrabel, at least, has a couple of Super Bowl rings from his time in New England to motivate the Titans, who were bum-rushed out of the playoffs by the Patriots a week and a half ago.
This should surprise absolutely no one, but La Loudmouth, LaVar Ball, has signed on as an assistant coach for his sons in Lithuania. I don't think it's just to help with the language barrier, mind you, but rather to gain control of things to satisfy his own ego and extend his 15 minutes of infamy. Don't be alarmed if there's word of some international incident in Lithuania in the next few months, because the chief suspect would be too obvious.........
Arena football returns to upstate NY in April with a shrunken Arena Football League, which now has just 4 teams, including the newly minted Albany Empire, which shares the ownership group with the Philadelphia Soul. Said group includes former NFL QB and ESPN personality Ron Jaworski, but at last check, singer Jon Bon Jovi gave up his share of the Soul. I for one cannot fathom why they couldn't resurrect the Firebirds, the team name the Albany market had back in the 90's, ultimately winning the Arena Bowl in 1999. After all, the Albany Patroons have been revived twice now, and are doing well in a nascent league. One of the team names that was up for vote was the Phoenix, which would've been the closes thing to reviving the Firebirds. Still, though, Empire's a good fit, given the team is based in the capital of New York.
On the other side of the spectrum, some self-declared social justice warriors decided to do a late night commando raid on the National Museum of Racing in Saratoga, draping confederate flags on a set of lawn gnomes shaped like jockeys. Problem is, these dorks have been caught on tape. They claim the jockey-gnomes represent racism & slavery.

Here's a thought, morons. Instead of acting like thieves in the night, why not meet with the museum board to express your opinions in a public purview? Going about it anonymously does nothing for either side. Just sayin'.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Sounds of Praise: Testify to Love (1998)

When I started going back to church again in the summer of 2005, I acquired a 2-CD compilation of Christian music. On the first disc was "Testify to Love", performed by the group Avalon. Little did I know that this was really a cover version.

"Testify" originally was recorded by Wynonna Judd for the soundtrack to Touched by an Angel in 1998. Judd guest starred in an episode excerpted below, and Tess (Della Reese) refers to "Testify" as the 151st Psalm.

We'll discuss Touched by an Angel in greater detail another time.

Super Bowl 52 is set. Have the Sominex ready!

It's getting so football, both pro and college, can be boring if the same teams are champions every year.

Alabama's latest national title three weeks ago was met with a collective yawn outside of the SouthEastern Conference (SEC). It didn't help matters that the Crimson Tide were chosen over Pac 12 champion USC and Big 10 champion Ohio State, both of whom had 2 losses at the time, and the selection of Alabama suggested some sort of political collusion, since ESPN is one of the networks with a contract with the SEC, and created the SEC Network a couple of years ago as part of said contract.

After the New England Patriots repeated as AFC champions Sunday night, using another Tom Brady-led 4th quarter comeback to beat Jacksonville, 24-20, one of the first articles to appear online was written by Yahoo!'s Jay Busbee, who took note of referee Clete Blakeman being the first to congratulate Brady after the game. Busbee was speaking for the growing legion of Patriot detractors who felt the fix was in, especially since Blakeman's crew only flagged New England once in the entire game.

My take on Blakeman was that the arbiter let his guard down and let his inner fanboy out for a few seconds. Busbee and all the haters were over-reacting to that innocent moment.

As for the Jaguars, you can say that, like the Atlanta Falcons in last year's Super Bowl, they took their collective foot off the gas pedal at the wrong time, switching to a zone defense instead of man-to-man with the game on the line, and not switching up defenses with every play. Brady or any other elite quarterback will take advantage every time. The Jags were playing their first AFC title game in nearly 20 years, had the defending champs on the ropes, and let them escape.

In total contrast to the games of a week earlier, the Philadelphia-Minnesota game was devoid of drama, the game virtually over at halftime. The Eagles, the NFC's #1 seed, weren't treated like a #1 seed by the Vegas oddsmakers for the 2nd straight week, and took it out on the Vikings to the tune of 38-7, setting up a rematch with New England. The two teams previously met in Super Bowl 39 in 2005, with New England winning their 3rd title in 4 years.

Think about that for a moment. The same pattern is forming here. The Patriots have won two of the last three Super Bowls. Overall, the AFC has won three in a row, with Peyton Manning's last game in between Patriot victories. For all we know, and this isn't quite as certain as it was with Manning two years ago, that this could be the last ride for Brady and coach Bill Belichick, who actually have nothing left to prove. Another Patriot win will be met, again, with a collective yawn, especially if the team returns intact in the fall. Brady, fueled by ego more than anything at 40, won't be satisfied unless he's universally regarded as the greatest quarterback of all time. No matter how many more years and/or titles he wins, he won't get that designation from this desk because of how some of those title victories were tainted by scandal.

You never heard anything like that said about, say for example, Bart Starr, Roger Staubach, or Joe Montana back in the day. Not a word. In contrast, in this modern era, the slightest hint of impropriety on the field will set off a torrent of hatred from fans outside of New England. A couple of bottom feeders were caught taping the Jets' practice at the Meadowlands in 2007, but the league gave the Pats a basic slap on the wrist. Same thing with the "Deflategate" debacle. Controversy creates cash, and the league and its media partners thrive on money, ratings, and scandal. The NFL still sees money in the Patriots, and will do anything to ensure they stay on top. At least until Brady does decide to retire.

The Eagles are 0-2 in the big game. Against Minnesota, they did their best impersonation of the Patriots in a dominating performance. Can they bottle that emotion and use it again in 12 days? We'll find out soon enough.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Forgotten TV: Picture This (1963)

I was but an infant when Picture This bowed as a summer replacement series on CBS in 1963. On the surface, it looked like just another Mark Goodson-Bill Todman game. It wasn't, although you'd be forgiven if you thought it was. Announcer Lee Vines had worked on a few G-T shows prior to this, and the best way to describe this show would be Password with pictures. Jerry Van Dyke was tapped to host, and this would be his only game show assignment.

Only one episode is available now on YouTube, recently uncovered, from August 1963, with William Bendix (ex-The Life of Riley) and Alan Young (Mister Ed):

Of course, Van Dyke moved on to The Judy Garland Show just a few weeks after this series ended, and we know the rest of his story. Certainly looked like he could handle the game show business, but the ratings convinced CBS not to give him another chance.

Rating: B.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Celebrity Rock: Everybody Needs Somebody to Love (1980)

From "The Blues Brothers":

With pressure from the law bearing down on them, "Joliet" Jake (John Belushi) & Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) rev up the crowd with "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love".

Belushi, we all know, was taken from us too soon. Brother Jim would later join the act and he & Aykroyd, as themselves, would later record a CD.

BTW, Jim Belushi was supposed to hit town later this week for a bash at the Times-Union Center in Albany, but the show's been cancelled due to issues with the promoter. James Taylor & John Legend were to headline.

High school this 'n' that

The differences between Troy High's basketball teams are like night & day. It's unfortunate that it happens to be the truth.

In his first year as head coach, Greg Davis has the boys within striking distance of CBA for first place in the Suburban Council's Grey division. The Flying Horses are 8-3 in league play, 8-5 overall after losing on the road to Kingston, 78-70, on Saturday night. Troy has six league games left, four of them at home, plus a non-league game on the road at Middletown on February 3. Davis has remolded his team such that it's not dependent on one star player anymore. If an opposing defense decides to key on, for example, Latyce Faison, and shut him down, someone like Lateef Johnson will come along and have a career night, as Johnson did last night at Kingston, with a season high 19 points. It's this kind of diversity that will make Troy a tough out the rest of the way.

Contrast this with Paul Bearup and his women's squad. In his 13th season at Troy, Bearup has no seniors on his team, and it has hurt the Lady Horses more often than not this season. Troy snapped a six game Suburban Council losing streak in beating Burnt Hills on Friday. Problem is, they only have five games left, and only one at home (Colonie, January 30). At 4-11 overall (4-9 league), Troy figures to be one and done come the sectionals next month. Depth has been a problem, too. Teams are focusing their defenses on Jenalyse Alarcon, the Lady Horses' lone star. While others, such as Alaina Holmes and Nadia Brown, have picked up the scoring slack, there hasn't been any consistency. Consider the Lady Horses, then, a work in progress as they are rebuilding.

Of course, we thought they would take a first round exit last year, too, but they beat Colonie, then were blown away by Shaker in the second round.

Prospects: Troy has two winnable games left (Colonie, Schenectady), and would need to get one big monkey off their collective backs (Albany, February 6) to gain some semblance of respectability. As for the boys, if they can hold course and remain one game in back of CBA going into their February 9 rematch, a win would give Troy a leg up on their second division title in three years, since they would hold the tie-breaker.

Projected finishes: The boys, I think, can run the table in the league and claim the division, finishing 14-3. Upsetting Middletown is not out of the question, so they'll be either 15-5 or 14-6 come sectionals. The women, I figure, will finish 6-14, their worst record in recent memory.
Meanwhile, on the ice, LaSalle finds itself five points behind Bethlehem with seven games left, four of them on the road, including at Bethlehem on January 26. This week is crucial, with CBA coming in Wednesday. The Brothers lost in overtime to Queensbury last night, and can't afford another loss as they, too, are chasing the Eagles. However, the Cadets, winners of five in a row after defeating Shaker-Colonie last night, look like they could run the table to capture their second straight regular season title. They are assured of a high seed when sectionals begin next month if they can keep winning.

Tim Flanigan's winning formula has essentially been the same as Greg Davis' at Troy. There is no one star that an opposing defense can key on. Let's say for example Bethlehem decides to shut down LaSalle's leading scorer, Thomas Ryan. Jack O'Bryan or Ryan Murray or Taylor Nitz can still hurt the Eagles. That's how teams win, by functioning as one cohesive unit.

We know that everyone goes through lean periods in high school sports. LaSalle has come out of theirs in basketball & hockey the last couple of years. Troy is experiencing a down period for women's basketball now, but the Lady Horses, you figure, will be back. Consider the jam-packed Conway Arena last night for LaSalle. Two years ago, you wouldn't have dreamed that would happen. The press couldn't ignore the game if they wanted to, due to Cadets For Vets. Having seen just one Troy women's home game, they could use a little help in the promotion department themselves. Just sayin'.

What Might've Been: Tenspeed & Brown Shoe (1980)

Stephen J. Cannell didn't set out to remake I Spy, although you could argue that the 1965-8 Bill Cosby-Robert Culp series had to be an inspiration for Tenspeed & Brown Shoe, a mid-season replacement series that Cannell sold to ABC during the 1979-80 season.

E. L. "Tenspeed" Turner (Ben Vereen) was an ex-con trying to go straight. Lionel Whitney, aka Brown Shoe (Jeff Goldblum) was an accountant-turned-private eye who sought to rehabilitate Turner. The two formed a detective agency in Los Angeles, where, it seems, just about anything is possible.

Unfortunately, viewers didn't respond, as Tenspeed initially aired on Sundays when it launched in January 1980, then was bumped to Friday nights, where it ended its run five months later. Cannell had probably seen Vereen in Roots, and thought he could build a series around him. He thought enough of the Tenspeed character to bring Vereen back for an appearance on another of his shows, NBC's J. J. Starbuck, with Dale Robertson, a few years later.

My belief is that viewers probably felt Cannell was just having a little fun at the expense of rival producer Aaron Spelling, who had sold quite a few crime dramas to ABC during the 70's. Cannell would perfect his formula a few years later with another ABC series, Hardcastle & McCormick, which ran for three seasons.

Here's a sample episode:

Rating: B-.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Musical Interlude: On The Dark Side (1983)

John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band took an unusual route to the top of the charts.

Cafferty was hired on to compose the soundtrack for 1983's "Eddie & The Cruisers". The Beaver Brown Band was close enough to the creative concept of the Cruisers that Cafferty, after having previously composed two songs, was then asked to do the rest of the film.

As a result, it is Cafferty's voice coming out of actor Michael Pare's mouth as Eddie Wilson (Pare) performs "On The Dark Side".

Cafferty would chart with "Tender Years", and, then, land two more hits with "C.I.T.Y." and "Voice of America's Sons", the latter used in Sylvester Stallone's 1986 movie, "Cobra".

Cadets For Vets: Shaker-Colonie @ LaSalle (hockey), 1/20/18

This is how you start a new tradition.

LaSalle Institute joined forces with the Albany Housing Coalition to present Cadets For Vets at Conway Arena at Hudson Valley Community College tonight, the culmination of perhaps the biggest day of the season. It's also Alumni Day on the hockey schedule, with the annual, ahem, "old-timers" game taking place early in the afternoon.

The main event, though, came before the largest crowd of the season, with very few open spaces in the bleachers, as LaSalle welcomed Shaker-Colonie to Conway Arena. Concessions were expanded to include chili, macaroni & cheese, meatballs, and goulash with the usual pizza, coffee, candy, and other snacks.

With LaSalle leading, 1-0, in the second period, Jack O'Bryan lasered a one-timer past Jets netminder Dan Molloy to boost the lead to 2-0. Nineteen seconds later, however, Tyler Wilson brought Shaker-Colonie back within a goal at 2-1 by beating Casey Boone, ending Boone's shutout string, which had begun a week and a half ago in the 2nd period against Guilderland/Mohonasen/Scotia-Glenville. Later in the period, Sebastian Geiger found the sweet spot in the corner to Molloy's right, and went top shelf to make it 3-1. The Cadets would add two insurance goals in the third period to, ah, ice the game, and run their winning streak to five in a row with a convincing 5-1 victory.

Next comes the most difficult stretch of the season for LaSalle. Christian Brothers Academy handed the Cadets their only league loss of the season last month, and the Brothers visit Troy on Wednesday night on a down note after dropping a 3-2 decision to Queensbury earlier tonight. Then, the Cadets begin a 4-game road trip in Bethlehem against the first place Eagles, who kept pace by beating Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa, 6-1. Meanwhile, Shenendehowa, after a tough 1-0 loss to LaSalle on Wednesday, fell by the same score to Ithaca, out of Section 4, earlier this afternoon, as the Plainsmen's offense seems to have gone into hibernation.

NFL Conference championship preview

Back in the day, it was hip to hate teams like the Yankees, because they were so dominant for so long. However, the Bronx Bombers have had their lean periods, too, just like every other team.

When the Boston Celtics ruled the NBA in the 80's, their detractors claimed the team, owned at the time by former coach Red Auerbach, was being given preferential treatment by the league's officials. As the NBA has transitioned into a star-driven league for marketing purposes, the Celtics, as presently constituted, are just another team, despite their rich history. The same can be said for their ancient rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, who are making headlines now because of a rookie whose father is addicted to attention in order to make up for his own shortcomings as a pro years earlier.

Today, the New England Patriots are nearly two decades deep into their current run as the NFL's Evil Empire. Coach Bill Belichick went from being "nattily dressed", as Chris Berman often described him on ESPN, to trying to be hip by wearing a hoodie on the sidelines, and treating his press conferences like he was in a hurry for a CIA meeting. The team's preference for secrecy is counter-balanced by the allegations of wrong-doing raised over the last decade, and despite commissioner Roger (Ramjet) Goodell's seeming dislike of the team, they somehow manage to escape punishment with but slaps on the wrist. Owner Robert Kraft may be slipping some free cheese and salad dressing to his fellow committee members on the side to ensure his teflon team carries on unabated.

Diva QB Tom Brady has caught the fever of keeping things close to the vest. He refused to discuss a hand injury sustained earlier in the week during a Friday press conference, and the team has him listed as questionable for Sunday's AFC title game vs. upstart Jacksonville. The AFC South champs beat New England in August in what was thought to be a meaningless preseason game, but maybe, just maybe, Belichick and his staff might be looking back at game films to see where they went wrong that night.

Assuredly, this is not the game CBS and the league wanted, after Jacksonville took down Pittsburgh last weekend in a thriller. Most folks assume, despite the fact that the spread has shrunken to the Pats being a 7 1/2 point favorite this morning, that New England will roll on. If he understands his history like people think he does, Belichick would be wise to hang a certain quote from George Santayana on the bulletin board prior to kickoff.

To be honest, I don't see New England covering. I see them surviving, if that. Brady may be trying to be a hero, but covering up an injury is the last thing you want to do this time of year. Jacksonville's QB, Blake Bortles (& Jaymes) isn't on the same level as Brady, but, then, the Jaguars do rely more on the run game than the Patriots do, thanks to rookie running back Leonard Fournette (LSU). The Patriot defense will key on him first, forcing Bortles to chuck it in the air more than he really needs to. Brady pads his stats by throwing more than he needs to in order to feed his ego, but would be well served to give the ball more to Albany native Dion (& The Belmonts) Lewis and James White, one of the heroes of last year's Super Bowl.

And that suggests another quote should be posted, this one directed at Brady. Consider, then, the words posted prior to the recording of "We Are The World", 33 years ago:

"Check your ego at the door."

In order for Brady and the Patriots to win back the respect of the rest of the country, Brady needs to stop trying to be a one-man team. Even Superman needs help once in a while.

The pick: Patriots, 38-35.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles have played in six Super Bowls between them, losing them all. Between them, the Eagles took a crack at the Pats more than a decade ago, when Donovan McNabb was still their QB. Today, Nick Foles, on his 2nd tour of duty in Philly, leads the Eagles into the NFC title game, and for the 2nd straight week, they're a home underdog. Talk about disrespect. What this says is that the oddsmakers, being just pound foolish and not even penny wise at all, don't believe Foles can get the Eagles to the promised land. They didn't get the message last week, after the Eagles clipped Atlanta, 15-10. Minnesota ended New Orleans' run in more convincing fashion, but the two games combined, coupled with the Jacksonville-Pittsburgh game, did more for the league in terms of drama and ratings than a certain defending champion did in showing no respect to their opponent.

Let's not forget that Vikings QB Case Keenum is also a backup, and coach Mike Zimmer chose not to put incumbent QB Teddy Bridgewater back on the field when he was activated from IR late in the season. Zimmer stuck with the hot hand, and it's paid dividends. The Vikings have also overcome adversity, losing rookie running back Dalvin Cook (Florida State) to injury early in the season.

The weather will also be a factor, as it will in Foxborough. By game time, the temperatures should be around the 20's, normal for this time of year, and not the deep freeze it was when Minnesota played Seattle in the playoffs two years ago, prompting a reference to the movie, "Ice Station Zebra", from one of the NBC announcers. For Philadelphia's LeGarrette Blount, it's a chance to get back to the big dance, too, to get back at the Patriots for cutting him loose after last season. Unfortunately, I don't see it.

The pick: Vikings reach the Super Bowl for the first time in more than 4 decades, 41-35.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Old Time Radio: This Is Your FBI (1945)

This Is Your F. B. I. ran for 8 seasons (1945-53) on ABC Radio. As Dragnet would dramatize actual cases from the files of the Los Angeles Police Department, this series, with the approval of then F. B. I director J. Edgar Hoover, did the same for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Actor Stacy Harris, who would become a member of Jack Webb's repertory company on television, was the star of This Is Your F. B. I. as agent Jim Taylor.

This Is Your F. B. I. had been on the air for a while before Webb launched Dragnet, so one can assume he got the idea for his show from this one. Just sayin', since I don't know all the facts.

Anyway, the series went through three narrators over the course of 8 seasons. Actor Frank Lovejoy was the first narrator, but lasted just a year. Bill Woodson joined the show in 1948, and is heard here in the episode, "Old Mother Larceny".

Woodson, of course, is better known to TV viewers for his narration of The Invaders, and the intro to The Odd Couple. Millions of children are familiar with him as the narrator of Super Friends (1977-85) and Battle of the Planets among his many cartoon credits.

In 1965, 12 years after This Is Your F. B. I. signed off, producer Quinn Martin launched The F. B. I. for ABC-TV. One wonders if Martin was a fan of radio.......

Rating: A.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Celebrity Rock: Beyond The Sun (1962)

Most of you know that Clint Eastwood managed to find his way onto the country charts in the 80's, teaming with the late Merle Haggard on "Barroom Buddies", for example. But, did you know that Clint's singing debut came during his run on Rawhide?

It's true, and here's the proof. From March 1962, Rowdy (Eastwood) sings "Beyond The Sun". Special guest star Buddy Ebsen (Ex-Davy Crockett, a few months away from The Beverly Hillbillies) is his accompanist, at least for the cameras.

I forget who the other artist was that Clint worked with in the 80's, but there was another track that made use of "Dirty Harry"'s signature line in the song "Make My Day".

Forgotten TV: Good Sports (1991)

Ryan O'Neal hadn't done a television series since leaving Peyton Place. Long time live-in honey Farrah Fawcett had made some TV movies after leaving Charlie's Angels, as well as some theatrical releases. Neither would ever have been thought of for their comedic skills.

Producers Bernie Brillstein & Brad Grey thought otherwise, and put the sweethearts together in a short-lived CBS sitcom, Good Sports, in 1991. O'Neal wasn't quite in demand for movies by this point as he had been in the 70's & 80's, but as they say, any old port in a storm.....!

O'Neal was an ex-jock who had a one-night stand with Fawcett's character, now a TV sports anchor., before reconnecting. Out of the 15 episodes ordered, only 9 aired. Following is a sample clip with Arthur Burghardt (ex-One Life to Live).

Co-stars Lane Smith & Cleavant Derricks would find success in the dramatic arena later in the 90's (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman & Sliders, respectively), but this was the last tango on TV for O'Neal and Fawcett.

No rating.

High school this 'n' that

The season can't end fast enough for Troy High's women's basketball team.

The Lady Horses dropped their 3rd straight on Tuesday at Niskayuna to fall to 3-10 on the season, nowhere near contention for the Suburban Council Grey Division title, which for all intents & purposes, Averill Park has already clinched. Coach Paul Bearup's team will finally play Shaker today, then return home for what amounts to a breather vs. Burnt Hills tomorrow night. The way the schedule is set, the girls will have their Senior Night on January 30 vs. Colonie, then go on a season-ending 3-game road trip.

Given that the Lady Horses have no seniors on this year's team, perhaps it was expected to be a rebuilding year.
Meanwhile, the Troy boys are now 7-4 overall after blowing out Nisky on Tuesday night. Coach Greg Davis' squad will be on the road this weekend, at Burnt Hills tomorrow night before a rematch with Kingston on Saturday. The impetus now is to keep winning to put the pressure on Grey division leader CBA, which lost to Shenendehowa on Tuesday. Troy will visit CBA's McGraw Gym on February 9. CBA has just 2 losses in league play to Troy's 3, so if Troy completes the season sweep, assuming both teams run the table up to that point, then beats Schenectady on Senior Night (February 13), they would win their 2nd division title in 3 years.
It's safe to say the skating Cadets of LaSalle have shaken off their overtime loss in the Mohawks tournament 3 weeks ago. Coach Tim Flanigan's team has now won 4 in a row after posting its 2nd straight shutout, 1-0, over Shenendehowa on Wednesday night. Unfortunately, league leader Bethlehem also won, blowing out Adirondack, 8-1, and now lead 2nd place CBA by 2 1/2 points. LaSalle is in 3rd, 4 points back. The Cadets host Shaker-Colonie on Saturday night for Cadets for Vets night, then welcome the Brothers next Wednesday, looking to avenge an earlier loss. Even if they don't come all the way back and win the regular season title, LaSalle is still looking at a favorable seeding in the tournament next month.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Musical Interlude: Livin' on a Prayer (1986)

Back in the 80's, Bon Jovi looked like another hair metal band, but the truth was, these Jersey boys were aiming at the pop charts, and had been since their 1984 debut.

1986's "Slippery When Wet" produced back to back #1 hits, the second of which, "Livin' on a Prayer", tells the story of two average kids trying to survive despite individual hardships. If you were watching Supergirl on Monday night, this was on the soundtrack.

Anyway, let's take a trip back to the fall of '86 for the video, which was all about the band and not the story.

Sounds like Jon Bon Jovi was trying to mine the same trail as fellow Jersey icon Bruce Springsteen, doesn't it? Sounds like "The Boss"' kind of tale.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

On The Air: Black Lightning (2018)

In the winter of 1976-7, DC Comics introduced Black Lightning, the first series from the company to be headlined by an African-American hero. Jefferson Pierce returned to his hometown of Metropolis to become the principal at Garfield High, and adopts the identity of Black Lightning to fight the 100, an inner city gang fronted by Tobias Whale, posited to be DC's answer to Marvel's plus size mob boss, the Kingpin. Series creator and fellow blogger Tony Isabella has reset the series in his hometown of Cleveland in the current Cold Dead Hands miniseries, which has been met with glowing reviews since its premiere a couple of months back.

Meanwhile, Black Lightning becomes the 5th DC Comics series adapted for television by Greg Berlanti and his staff, and gets the cushy slot behind The Flash. That's the good news. The bad is that the first season is just 13 weeks, and will wrap in mid-April.

In this series, Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams, ex-Hart of Dixie) had been Black Lightning until retiring 9 years ago. The setting is different, too, having shifted to the fictional town of Freeland. Pierce is the principal at Garfield High, where his youngest daughter, Jennifer, is a student, and his oldest, Anissa, is a teacher. They also happen to be metahumans, just like their father, as we will see over the course of the next three months.

Whale is here, too, but, as embodied by rapper Marvin "Krondon" Jones III, isn't a Kingpin wannabe any longer. Bear in mind, too, that it was assumed that a short-term Arrow villain last season, Tobias Church, was meant to be an analogue for Whale, but now we can't be sure.

Pierce is at a crossroads as this series begins. He would rather focus on his day job and keep his kids and the school safe. Of course, gang violence is bound to find its way to Garfield High. He's also looking to make amends with his ex-wife, Lynn. Well, not everything's meant to go according to plan......

For now, Black Lightning will not intersect with the rest of the Berlanti-verse family of shows, but, then, they also said the same thing about Supergirl, and we all know how that went.

What works in this show's favor is that it has the seal of approval of Tony Isabella, who's worked closely with the creative staff. That may make all the difference in the world, considering how the other shows have fallen off the rails, or are threatening to, of late.

Rating: A.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Musical Interlude: Dreams (1992)

The Cranberries' "Dreams" was first released as a stand-alone single in 1992, then included on their major label debut the following year. It took a while, but the song did manage heavy airplay on MTV, largely because the network had three versions to choose from.

In memory of vocalist Dolores O'Riordan, who passed away at 46.

The NFL's Final Four: Can a new champion arise?

We are now down to four in the NFL playoffs. All but one of the weekend's games were packed with enough drama to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Can you care to guess which one lacked drama?

Saturday: Old Man Winter's latest barrage in the Northeast suggested that both games would be played in sloppy conditions, but that wasn't the case. NFC East champion Philadelphia, the conference's top seed, took the insult of being a 3 point home underdog against defending NFC champ Atlanta as motivation, and ensured there would be a fresh opponent on the NFC side at the Super Bowl on February 4, taking down the Falcons, 15-10. Ye scribe only saw less than half the game due to other commitments, but from what I did see, it was a good game.

The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots spotted the Tennessee Titans an early touchdown, and then did their best impression of a horde of vampires, sucking the drama out of the game by blowing out the Titans, 35-14. Reading an article on Yahoo! Sunday morning, I noted that the author, speaking for Patriot haters other than me, felt the officials were favoring the Patriots a little too much. Seeing as how I didn't watch the game, I can't rightly judge. I won't be watching the AFC title game next Sunday, either, but if the Patriots think the road to Minneapolis got a little easier, well.......

"Those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it."---George Santayana.

Sunday: AFC South champion Jacksonville jumped out to a 21-0 lead early against North champ Pittsburgh, and had to hold on to advance to their first AFC title game in 19 years. Forced to abandon the running game, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin relied heavily on QB Ben Roethlisberger to bring the team back. However, a late field goal by Jacksonville's Josh Lambdo, coupled with a botched onside kick by the Steelers, sealed a 45-42 win for the Jaguars. If Tomlin didn't have Santayana's famous quote on his bulletin board, he should have, considering that Jacksonville won at Heinz Field for the 2nd time this season (they upset Pittsburgh back in October).

Patriots coach Bill Belichick should consider putting that quote on his bulletin board. The Jags went into Gillette Stadium in August and knocked off the Super Bowl champs in a preseason game. Patriot Nation might think it was a fluke then, but considering the banner year the Jaguars had under coach Doug Marrone, it really wasn't. Not only that, but Jacksonville has some Kryptonite in the front office for New England to worry about. Former Jags/Giants coach Tom Coughlin is now in the front office with Jacksonville, and all he needs do is flash his 2 rings, and give coach Marrone a primer on how to beat the Pats when it counts.

Meanwhile, the NFC North champion Minnesota Vikings moved a step closer to their first Super Bowl in 41 years, and becoming the first team to actually be a home team at the Big Game, by holding off New Orleans, 29-24. The Vikings, the NFC's #2 seed, needed a miracle on the last play of the game, and got it when Case Keenum hit Stefon Diggs for the game winner, a 61 yard TD catch & run that sent the fans into a frenzy. Minnesota now travels to Philadelphia next Sunday night for the right to go home and not only host the big dance, but play it, too. The Vikings avenged a loss in the NFC title game 8 years ago in beating the Saints, who put down Minnesota in 2009 en route to their only Super Bowl victory.

If anything, if the Pats lull people to sleep again, wake up call will be 6 pm (ET) for the NFC title game.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

This revolution was televised: Extreme Championship Wrestling (1994-2000),

Eastern Championship Wrestling broke away from the National Wrestling Alliance in 1994 after Shane Douglas won a tournament to determine the NWA champion. Infamously, Douglas threw down the NWA title, and cut a promo on the august promotion.

Subsequently, the E in ECW became Extreme, as the combined forces of promoters Tod Gordon & Paul Heyman, the latter better known at the time as Paul E. Dangerously, turned wrestling on its ear. The rulebook was essentially tossed out the window, as ECW specialized in hardcore street fights where anything and everything usually went.

Thus, ECW's weekly TV show was renamed, ECW Hardcore TV, and aired in late night on weekends on MSG Cable starting in 1995. ECW introduced viewers to the Dudley Boys, who originally were a dysfunctional clan of half-brothers of odd parentage, but by the time ECW folded in 2001, only to be resurrected by WWE (2006-10), the Dudleys were down to a trio, Bubba Ray, D-Von, and 1/2-brother and on-again, off-again ally Spike. Raven (Scott Levy, formerly Scotty Flamingo, Scotty the Body, and Johnny Polo) resurrected his career in ECW, and used this guise for the rest of his career.

In 1999, ECW added a network berth on TNN (now Spike) as part of the network's short-lived Friday Night Thrill Zone block, coupled with Rollerjam, a roller derby revival. The format was the same except that the violence was slightly toned down for primetime, and language sanitized.

Some veteran wrestlers used ECW as a stopover before moving on to bigger things. For example, in 1995, Steve Austin, who had been released by WCW via phone call, came to ECW, and cut a memorable promo....

Austin would also take out his venom on WCW's Eric Bischoff with a riotous parody of WCW Monday Nitro that demonstrated that he could do comedy with the best of them. Oh, and that spot-on Dusty Rhodes mimic in the above video is classic. It was here that Austin began to develop what would become Stone Cold more than a year later in the then-World Wrestling Federation, and propel him to their Hall of Fame.

Today, the spirit of ECW lives on via Tommy Dreamer's House of Hardcore promotion, which doesn't have a television contract, but wherever Dreamer goes, he promotes House of Hardcore. One wishes HoH could make a stop in the home district, but, well.......

Rating: ECW Hardcore TV gets an A-.

Musical Interlude: Rockin' Fu Music (1980)

The acclaimed British actor-comedian Peter Sellers passed away 2 weeks before his final film, "The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu", hit theatres. This odd, satirical take on Sax Rohmer's legendary villain had an even odder twist ending.

Sellers plays both Fu Manchu and his arch nemesis, Sir Denis Nayland Smith. In the final scene, Fu, now much younger than his 168 years, has formed a rock band.......

I can't say for sure if they found someone as a voice double for Sellers for this number, but I'd imagine they did.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The untold story of Gatorade (2007)

Gatorade marked its 40th anniversary in 2007 with an ad campaign that explained the sports drink's origins. Developed by doctors at the University of Florida, Gatorade made its sideline debut at the 1967 Orange Bowl.

This short spot starts with a snippet of the Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer in the City", and is narrated by sportscaster Keith Jackson.

Niskayuna-Schenectady @ LaSalle (hockey), 1/13/18

"It was a pretty good crowd for a Saturday."--Billy Joel, "Piano Man", 1973.

Indeed, Robert Conway Arena at Hudson Valley Community College was nearly full as LaSalle closed a 3-game homestand by entertaining Niskayuna-Schenectady tonight. As was the case Tuesday vs. "Guilderville", the skating Cadets had to feast on an opponent at the bottom of the CDHSHL to gain some momentum headed into a rematch next week vs. Shenendehowa.

About 6 1/2 minutes into the first period, senior forward Sam Brendese gave LaSalle the only goal they'd need, as he beat Mohawks netminder Jack LoRe to put the defending Section II champions up, 1-0. After a scoreless second period, the Cadets came roaring out of the gate in the third, scoring three times in 64 seconds.

First, it was Taylor Nitz beating LoRe, just 24 seconds into the period. 11 seconds later, Tom Ryan tallied his 11th goal of the season, but it came at a cost, as Nitz slid and crashed into the boards just as the goal was scored. Nitz was helped off the ice and didn't return. Have to assume he was undergoing concussion protocols, and as such, his status for the road game at Shen is questionable at this time. Then, nearly half a minute later, Christian Rudd lit the lamp to make it 4-0. Ryan Murray added an insurance goal, and senior goaltender Casey Boone registered a shutout, as LaSalle ran its winning streak to 3 in a row, 5-0.

If there is an Achilles' heel to the Cadets, it's a lack of discipline. Throughout the homestand, the disparity in penalties called was ridiculous. Tonight, the Mohawks were 0-6 on the power play, but LaSalle only had two power play chances, the last coming with under 10 seconds left in the game. As it is, LaSalle allowed only one power play goal in the three home games, that coming against "Guilderville" on Tuesday. The Cadets' penalty-killing unit has been spectacular, a big reason LaSalle entered play tonight 2 points behind front-running Bethlehem.

Up next for LaSalle will in fact be Shenendehowa on Wednesday night before returning home next Saturday for Cadets For Vets night vs. Shaker-Colonie. Face-off time will be a half-hour earlier than normal at 6:45, and all proceeds (tickets, concessions, etc.) will benefit the Albany Housing Coalition's House For Veterans.

Sports this 'n' that

He's just a junior, with a state football championship under his belt in 2016, but Glens Falls' Joseph Girard III is Section II's new all-time leading scorer, as of Thursday night.

It's a clear case of Glens Falls building its offense around the high scoring phenom, who averages nearly 50 points a night. He broke the sectional scoring record vs. Schuylerville. He'd earlier broken the school record, held by former NBA star Jimmer Fredette, who's now playing overseas because the NBA didn't really respect his talents. By the time Girard graduates in 2019, the scoring record could be well out of reach, considering that some kids don't play through their senior seasons in high school, opting to move to prep schools to improve their stock for college and/or the pros. Here's to hoping that when Girard chooses a college, he'll stick close to home and go to either Siena or UAlbany.
Add Siena. The Saints said good-bye to Nico Clareth earlier this week, prior to Thursday's loss to Iona. Clareth will finish the school year at Siena, then transfer to another school, likely to be closer to his family. Something tells me there's more to this than anyone's letting on. Just sayin'.
Ever since entering the Suburban Council, there've been some elite schools in the league that Troy High hasn't beaten, either in men's or women's basketball. The Troy men broke their hex vs. Guilderland Tuesday night, but then dropped a 91-87 overtime thriller on the road to Saratoga Friday night. Greg Davis' Flying Horses are now 6-4 overall (6-3 in league play), and will return home to play Ballston Spa on Tuesday before a 2-game road trip next weekend at Burnt Hills & Kingston. With CBA running away and hiding in the Grey division, it's all Troy can do to keep pace.

Meanwhile, back at home, the Lady Horses were blown out of the gym by Saratoga. Troy was playing its 3rd game in 5 days, and 5th in 10, coming out of the holiday break. Paul Bearup's senior-less squad falls to 3-9 overall, and will face 3 games in 4 days next week before a break for mid-term exams. The girls travel to Niskayuna on Tuesday, then will finally play Shaker on Thursday, before coming home to play hapless Burnt Hills next Friday night, and that could be the only winnable game left on the schedule for the Lady Horses.
You've heard, I'm sure, about WWE's Mixed Match Challenge, launching on Facebook Watch on Tuesday night. Here's the field and schedule:

Week 1: Finn Balor & Sasha Banks vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Natalya.
Week 2: The Miz & Asuka vs. Big E & Carmella.
The winners meet in Week 7 (February 27).

Week 3: Braun Strowman & Alexa Bliss vs. Sami Zayn & Becky Lynch.
Week 4: Goldust & Alicia Fox vs. Jimmy Uso & Naomi.
The winners meet in Week 8 (March 6).

Week 5: Elias & Bayley vs. Rusev & Lana.
Week 6: Apollo Crews & Nia Jax vs. Charlotte Flair & Bobby Roode.
The winners meet in Week 9 (March 13).

I think the idea would be to keep the matchups as Raw vs. Smackdown through the semi-finals and maybe even the finals. Each team is competing for charities that have been associated with WWE (i.e. Make-a-Wish, Special Olympics). Some of the first round matches are easier to figure than others, but trying to out-think Vince McMahon's Uncreative team isn't that easy.
The NFL playoffs have reached the Divisional Round. Both of the #1 seeds (Philadelphia & New England) play today, which goes against tradition. The largest odds on the board are for New England, a 13 1/2 point home favorite vs. Tennessee, and that's because the idiot oddsmakers don't think the Titans can keep up with the league's biggest diva, Tom Brady, and the Patriot offense. I still think Crybaby needs to balance things out and let the running game take control for a night. Local viewers will be tuning in to see Albany Academy graduate Dion Lewis, who's been a star for the Patriots this season, but overshadowed by Brady and his ego, as well as party boy TE Rob Gronkowski, who's the biggest cheater on offense since Michael Irvin, as both get away with offensive pass interference a majority of the time. "Playfaker" Irvin's in the Hall of Fame, and Gronk's likely to join him a few years from now.

How I see it this weekend:

Philadelphia, a 3 point home underdog, reasserts itself and ends Atlanta's hope of repeating at NFC champ.

New England over Tennessee, but not by 2 touchdowns.
Pittsburgh over Jacksonville.
New Orleans over Minnesota.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Musical Interlude: Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line (1968-70)

From Hee Haw:

Waylon Jennings performs his 1968 hit, "Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line", which peaked at #2 on the country chart. Pay close attention to the final chorus, as he changes one word.

That same season, Jennings had performed the same song on The Johnny Cash Show with the original chorus intact throughout. A few years later, Jennings would shed the clean-cut, clean shaven look for the "outlaw" look that would define him the rest of his career.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

On The Air: Child Support (2018)

ABC's latest primetime game show is a generous mix of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, Child's Play, and, because of some of the quips of the kiddo's on this show, Kids Say The Darndest Things.

Child Support was originally titled Five to Survive when it was first pitched in 2016. The current title seems a little odd, given the societal connotations.

Anyway, Fred Savage (ex-The Wonder Years) is the genial MC. Ricky Gervais is in an isolated room with five children. In the opener, it appears we have some kids in between grades K-2. Gervais is clearly having fun, and so is Savage. Gervais doubles as an executive producer. If you look closely at the credits when watching the show, one of the production companies will be familiar to parents. Greengrass Productions is better known for producing Saturday morning programming back in the day (i.e. Bump in The Night).

Anyway, this commercial should give you an idea....

I am begging ABC to repurpose this on a Saturday morning, mixed with the E/I programming from Litton.

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

The Mets reacquired outfielder Jay Bruce, signing him to a 3 year deal on Wednesday.  It makes you wonder why they even traded him to Cleveland at the trading deadline in the first place. It doesn't offset the pound-foolish decision by GM Sandy Alderson to settle an arbitration case with suspended pitcher Jenrry Mejia, but, well.......!
Meanwhile, the MLB Players Association dismissed a lesser known agent after he was caught videotaping some of his clients.

Jason Wood isn't as well known as, say, Scott Boras, but his client roster included Boston's Andrew Benintendi. Wood was fired from the agency he worked for on Wednesday, and it seems his tactics may have been a little too below board for the agency's standards. Compared to a known con artist like Boras, Wood was like a guppy swimming with sharks and trying to make his own ends meet on the side. Hmmmm.
So Alabama won college football's national championship---again---early Tuesday morning. That the title game vs. Georgia went to overtime wasn't an issue. The problem I have, and probably a lot of other fans, too, was that ESPN decided to make this game more like the Super Bowl has become in recent years, and booked rapper Kendrick Lamar as halftime entertainment.

Now, I get that rap music is big business in the "Dirty South", but given that the game started shortly after 8 pm (ET), and the first half took nearly two hours to play (!), the pace of play being a problem that the NCAA suits need to address yesterday, don't you think ESPN could've set it up so that Lamar's concert was part of the pre-game activities in Atlanta? When the game went to overtime, I went to bed, since I had to go to work the next morning. So did a lot of other fans in the East. Shame on you, ESPN.
So Alabama coach Nick Saban won his 6th title, 5th with the Crimson Tide (he also won at LSU a few years back before an ill-advised 2-year run with the Dolphins). While fans may be showing signs of Alabama/SEC fatigue, the gossip mill was churning, suggesting that Saban would bolt for the NFL again, this time to take over the Giants. Yeah, right, and chickens have lips.

Then again, those same gossips are claiming the Giants could poach either RPI grad Matt Patricia, Josh McDaniels, or Bill Belichick himself from the Patriots in the offseason. Remember, Belichick won his first 2 rings with the Giants as Bill Parcells' defensive coordinator after the 1986 and 1990 seasons. Given the gossip suggesting a growing chasm between Belichick, Pats owner Robert Kraft, and diva QB Tom Brady, it's easy for the simple minded to pick up on that and pray that Belichick finally "comes home" to finish his career. He has said, though, that he'd return to New England for the 2018 season, but we'll know for sure after the Super Bowl.

Most of America is suffering from Patriot fatigue, too, except in New England, where their fans are almost as rabid as the zealots in SEC country, who see football as a second religion. McDaniels flopped in Denver. Patricia's never been a head coach, but could get the nod because of his upstate ties. We'll see.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Weasel of the Week: LaVar Ball

If you have ever wondered why I refer to LaVar Ball as the Fred Sanford of stage parents, well, consider this.

On Sanford & Son in the 70's, Fred (Redd Foxx) was always looking to make extra money to supplement his junk business in the Watts section of Los Angeles. His schemes, of course, didn't work, in the grand tradition of Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason, The Honeymooners) and Kingfish on Amos 'n' Andy.

So what does this have to do with LaVar Ball? Plenty.

On Monday, it was reported that the Better Business Bureau had given Ball's Big Baller Brand an "F" rating, the worst it could possibly be. Ball dismissed the claim, of course, while putting over his company as the BBB people care about. Yeah, sure, tell us another tall tale.

And while the biggest con artist this side of Joe Isuzu is overseas with his two youngest boys, Closet Collection, a clothing firm contracted to Big Baller, is now suing the company for $25,000 for missed payments dating back to May 2017. Gee, what a shock, eh? La Loudmouth is also a deadbeat, whilst doing everything but accepting responsibility. Put this on top of Ball raising a ruckus from long distance, criticizing Lakers coach Luke Walton, son of 70's icon and current ESPN announcer Bill Walton, and claiming the younger Walton has "lost" the locker room. That was before the Lakers snapped a nine game losing streak over the weekend in beating Atlanta.

While Ball won't stop with the hyperbole and the bluster to extend his 15 minutes, that time is just about up, if Closet Collection's case goes to court. La Loudmouth has earned another set of Weasel ears, this time with a tail attached.

For anyone who's interested, here's the link to the article on Closet Collection:

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

"Guilderville" @ LaSalle (hockey), 1/9/18

Students and fans at LaSalle Institute had two choices tonight. Some opted for a Colonial Council basketball game vs. Schalmont. More on that later. Others chose the defending Section II hockey champs as they continued a three game homestand vs. Guilderland-Mohonasen-Scotia-Glenville, collectively better referred to as Guilderville.

As was the case on Friday night vs. Saratoga, senior forward Ryan Murray got the scoring started off a feed from Tom Ryan to give LaSalle a 1-0 lead headed into the first intermission. Less than 2 minutes into the 2nd period, Jack O'Bryan snapped off a one-timer through a crowd and past goaltender Daniel Cooper to make it 2-0, LaSalle.

However, after Christian Rudd was sent to the penalty box, Alex Bzdell answered for the visitors to make it 2-1. Unfortunately for the Storm, that was the extent of their offense. Murray restored the two-goal lead with his second tally, and the Cadets led, 3-1, going into the final frame.

Freshman Owen Scannell poked one past Cooper early in the 3rd, and junior forward Taylor Nitz added two insurance goals late to put this one in the books, as LaSalle is now 2-0 in 2018 with a 6-1 win.

What you might not know is that the Storm has two female forwards on their roster. Junior Rebecca Gregg and Maddie LeBel, a sophomore, saw some limited action for the Storm. "Guilderville" may be the only team in the league that has women on the roster.

Up next for LaSalle is winless Niskayuna-Schenectady on Saturday night before going to Clifton Park and a return match vs. Shenendehowa next week. After that, LaSalle hosts Cadets for Vets Night on January 20 vs. Shaker-Colonie, with proceeds benefiting the Albany Housing Coalition's House for Veterans. Face-off will be a  half-hour earlier than normal, at 6:45 pm.
Meanwhile, on the hardwood, LaSalle dropped a 67-57 decision to Schalmont. The Sabres (9-1 in the Colonial Council) have played two more games than the Cadets in league play. LaSalle is 8-2 overall, 7-1 in the league.

Troy High's women's basketball team played their fourth game in a week, and first on the road, after closing a 2-2 homestand with a win over Lansingburgh last night. Unfortunately, Troy fell, 67-40, to Guilderland, dropping to 3-8 overall for the season. The Lady Horses will finally get to play Shaker on January 18. Weather permitting, of course. The boys' game vs. Guilderland had not been reported as of press time.

Advertising For Dummies: "Laurel & Hardy" shill for Anco (1980)

Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy had long since passed on by the time Larry Harmon, who had gained the rights to the comedy icons' likenesses in the 60's, brokered a deal to have Chuck McCann & Jim MacGeorge bring the duo back to life for a series of spots for Anco windshield wiper blades.

Harmon would also have "Laurel & Hardy" appear in other ads for other sponsors. In addition, McCann is also a founding member of the Sons of the Desert, the biggest Laurel & Hardy fan club on the planet.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Musical Interlude: Like to Get to Know You (1968)

From The Ed Sullivan Show:

Spanky & Our Gang perform "Like to Get to Know You", the title tune from their 2nd album. Pay close attention to the performance. The band members appear at the front in a cocktail party scene, while also performing the song on stage. Try to figure out where the trick photography comes into play.

It would interest you to know that one of the album's co-producers was Bob Dorough, who would gain greater fame a few years later as one of the voices involved with Schoolhouse Rock.

Sports this 'n' that

The Albany Patroons won their home opener on Saturday night, beating Rochester for the 2nd time in a week. Tonight, they host the Ohio Cardinals, but will they have had enough time to effect repairs on the scoreboards?

Seems the scoreboards weren't working, so the shot clock had to be kept at press row, creating a great deal of chaos for those who were there, over a thousand fans, plus players, coaches, and game officials.

It's called growing pains, people. The North American Premier Basketball League (NAPBL) is new, and some kinks have to be worked out, even at an old venue like the Washington Avenue Armory.

What's worse is that two of the three local dailies covered the game. I don't have to tell you which one didn't, but we might as well say that El Cheapo Media, the owners of the Record, couldn't be bothered to send anyone to cover the game, due to the usual reasons.
Even when he's thousands of miles away in a foreign country, LaVar Ball, the worst stage parent in the world, can't keep his mouth shut.

The Los Angeles Lakers had lost nine in a row prior to beating Atlanta on Sunday, but the elder Ball was claiming that coach Luke Walton had lost the team. We get it. The real life incarnation of Fred Sanford wants to coach the team himself, if at all possible, but unless he can prove his claims, they have zero merit. Every team in the NBA goes through cycles of losing, and the Lakers are no exception. Does La Loudmouth realize son Lonzo was injured during part of that recent losing streak? Does he really care? Injuries, of course, are a bane on any team in any sport, but that doesn't matter to LaVar. It's all about keeping his name out there. Not good.
NFL referee Jeff Triplette retired after Saturday's Titans-Chiefs playoff game, ending a career of 25 seasons in the league, all but 3 as a referee. His next job should be selling magnifying glasses. That way, he can see things a little clearer.
The Divisional round of the NFL playoffs are now set:

AFC: Tennessee @ New England, Jacksonville @ Pittsburgh.
NFC: Atlanta @ Philadelphia, New Orleans @ Minnesota.

While we'd like to see some fresh blood in the AFC title game, the power brokers in the league are the only ones who aren't suffering from Patriot fatigue. Atlanta would like to get back to the Super Bowl for a rematch with New England, but I don't see it happening. Picks coming on Friday.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Musical Interlude: Nights in White Satin (1967)

More than 50 years after its release, the Moody Blues' "Nights in White Satin" still gets airplay on not only oldies channels, but also classic rock and adult contemporary stations.

In memory of Ray Thomas, an original member of the Moodies, who passed away this weekend at 74 after a bout with prostate cancer.

Jerry Van Dyke (1931-2018)

A year ago, Dick Van Dyke lost his most famous leading lady, Mary Tyler Moore. On Friday, his brother, Jerry, passed away at 86.

Jerry Van Dyke was one of those performers who seemed to work best as a supporting player rather than as a lead, much like, for example, Tim Conway. After a few appearances on brother Dick's show, Jerry was brought in as part of Judy Garland's repertory company for her variety show, but left the series before its lone season ended. In 1965, he landed his first lead role in a sitcom, in the infamous My Mother The Car for NBC. That, as we all know, lasted just 1 season. So did Accidental Family (1967), also for NBC.

Van Dyke then went back to doing stand-up comedy, and appeared on the usual variety shows (i.e. The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Mike Douglas Show). Then, in 1979, he was given one more chance at his own hit show, but 13 Queens Boulevard, a spring replacement for ABC, was another non-starter. Van Dyke was the only male regular in a female dominated cast, led by Eileen Brennan.

However, fate finally smiled on Van Dyke when he was cast as assistant coach Luther Van Dam on Coach, co-starring with Craig T. Nelson and Shelley Fabares. Coach was a huge hit for ABC. In later years, Van Dyke would resurface on Yes, Dear (CBS) and, most recently, The Middle, in which brother Dick made a guest appearance, returning the favor for the times Jerry had appeared on his show back in the 60's.

Rather than pull something from The Dick Van Dyke Show, Coach, or any of the others, we're going back to 1965, not for My Mother The Car, but the 5th season finale of The Andy Griffith Show. This was the last black & white episode of the series, and the second of two set at the Mayberry carnival. Van Dyke's character is out of a job, but Andy's looking for a new deputy, now that Barney Fife (Don Knotts) has left Mayberry (which happened 2 episodes earlier)......

Edit, 9/29/21: Unfortunately, Dailymotion deleted the video for copyright reasons. In its place is another series Jerry Van Dyke starred in, albeit briefly, 1979's 13 Queens Boulevard:

Rest in peace, Jerry.