Friday, May 31, 2019

Weasel of The Week: Dave Pugilese

Averill Park High has had a rivalry develop with Troy High in softball & women's basketball in recent years, particularly since Troy entered the Suburban Council four years ago.

While the Lady Warriors have owned Troy on the court, things have been a little more even on the softball diamond. The teams split two games last year, while AP swept the regular season series this year. On Wednesday, however, a firestorm of controversy hit the school, and the timing couldn't have been worse.

The Lady Warriors were the #3 seed in Class A, and hosted Troy in the quarterfinal round, playing the #6 Flying Horses for the third time this season. Hours before the game, there were allegations of body shaming & bullying levied against varsity coach Ken Bailey by seniors Jayden Lee & Kelsey Mohl.

According to today's Albany Times-Union, Mohl & Lee were planning on quitting the Lady Warriors after a 9-1 loss to Ballston Spa two weeks ago, but were persuaded to continue, with a Senior Night game against Guilderland next on the schedule, followed by the season finale on the road against Troy. Averill Park won both games, and, being a witness at the Troy game, I didn't see any signs of issues with the Lady Warriors.

On Wednesday, assistant coach Dave Pugilese, also the men's varsity basketball coach and an assistant football coach at AP, chose not to play Mohl & Lee, according to Spectrum News, which said the seniors wanted to play as long as Bailey wasn't there. Superintendent James Franchini, hoping to avoid any and all distractions, had asked Bailey not to coach that day. Pugilese, out of loyalty to Bailey and the school, made his decision, and it was a costly one, as Troy pulled the upset, erasing a five run deficit in the seventh inning to win, 8-6. That Troy would lose the next day to South Glens Falls isn't a factor at this point.

What is, however, is Pugilese's decision to assume Mohl & Lee were, in fact, going to quit, and not play them. Perhaps this, again, was to avoid any distractions with the rest of the team, even though the two seniors were in the bleachers with their families. It begs to ask what might've been had Pugilese not taken such a hard line stance. Had Mohl & Lee played, maybe AP goes on to the semi-finals.

Per the Times-Union, the case is still being investigated, and it appears that Bailey may have coached his last game at AP, walking away in an effort to save his reputation.

So why does Pugilese get the Weasel ears? He can say he wanted to avoid distracting the rest of the team, but I'd think the horse had left the barn already in that case. Down two key players, the Lady Warriors were in a position to win the game, were it not for that fatal final inning. As a coach, you want to make sure you have your best players on the field in critical situations, and Pugilese's short-sighted decision essentially shot AP in its collective foot.

I've seen how such short-sighted decisions have come back to bite Pugilese on the court. He's 0-4 vs. Troy in men's basketball. Now, the onus is on Franchini to find Bailey's successor. Pugilese isn't it.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Can a can of beer send you on a time warp? (1982)

Budweiser must've had some weird inspiration to hire on singer Leon Redbone to shill for the King of Beers back in the early 80's. Leon's ads were some of the most imaginative of the period, and that's coming from someone who never drinks beer.

In memory of Redbone, 69, who passed away today. Rest in peace.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

What Might've Been: This is Tom Jones (1969)

As the 60's were drawing to a close, Welsh singer Tom Jones caught the attention of executives at both ITC and ABC, leading to a variety series, This is Tom Jones, which was a winter replacement series that launched in February 1969, and ran for three seasons total.

Jones, aided by musical director Jack Parnell, had the requisite dancers, and also was aided by frequent appearances by the Ace Trucking Company, an improv comedy group that included the still-active Fred Willard, and future Match Game icon Patti Deutsch. Willard was last seen doing a soda commercial with Michael McKean.

Following is a performance clip with Stevie Wonder joining Tom for a medley of hits. Tom Jones has his own YouTube channel, which is where we found this clip:

The early success of the series led ITC & ABC to add a series with Engelbert Humperdinck (previously reviewed) to the schedule, but both Engelbert & Jones were gone by the end of the 1970-71 season.

No rating.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

On The Shelf: Reprints can be your best friend

Marvel recently made a decision to retire the phrase, "true believer", in memory of founding father Stan Lee, who passed away some months back.

What that does is it rebrands the company's reprint line as Marvel's Greatest Creators, which will still be offered on a monthly basis. Here's some recent entries:

A reprint of Power Man 30 introduces Piranha Jones, who was an even bigger menace than he was presented on Luke Cage. Writer Don McGregor gave Jones teeth like his aquatic namesake, and it was amusing seeing Piranha try to go vampire on Luke to no avail. As is the case with most reprints, they are taking chapters from story arcs, and directing readers to the trade collections to finish the stories. Those trades, though, are more expensive than DC's average trade.

Rating: B.
As Marvel launched the MC2 line, they started with an issue of What If? (2nd series), which was the debut of a new generation Spider-Girl. Tom DeFalco, understanding the ill feelings of fans after the Green Goblin had stolen Peter & Mary Jane Parker's baby girl, created an alternate reality where May Parker had survived the kidnapping, reunited with her parents, and discovered she had inherited her father's powers.

Spider-Girl enjoyed a pretty healthy run, the most successful of the MC2 books, and May has returned periodically as part of those Spider-Verse events.

Rating: A.
A pair of Iron Fist reprints from his run in Marvel Premiere in the mid-70's rounds out this lot.

In issue 18, Colleen Wing makes her debut. Her father, a professor, is in danger, and she & Iron Fist meet for the first time, as Danny Rand is recruited to rescue the professor. Three issues later, fellow blogger Tony Isabella brings Misty Knight into the mix. How Marvel never did a monthly Daughters of The Dragon series during this period, I'll never know. Artist Larry Hama, who drew issue 18, is better known to fans today as a writer, currently scripting GI Joe for IDW.

Rating: B (both issues).
Marvel is also experimenting with "facsimile" issues that reprint not only the story content, but also advertisements and house ads. DC will be doing this later this summer as well.

Marvel Feature 1, circa 1971, brought the Hulk, Sub-Mariner, and Dr. Strange together as The Defenders, who would get their own series after the third issue of Marvel Feature. The Silver Surfer was the fourth member, but he was not a major part of the story due to other issues addressed in passing.

Anyway, the odd pairing of Ross Andru and Bill Everett, the latter Sub-Mariner's creator, on the artwork, does mesh better than you'd think. Don Heck draws a Dr. Strange solo story in the back of the book, and in between is a Sub-Mariner reprint by Everett. Good fun.

Rating: A.
Last week, we reported that DC was sacking Tom King as writer of Batman, with his last issue rolling out in December.

Now comes word of two other events.

1. DC is discontinuing its twice-monthly publishing schedule of major books such as Batman & Wonder Woman, likely effective in January.

2. King will get to finish his epic Bat-saga with a 12 issue Batman-Catwoman series, debuting in January, to be drawn by the brilliant Clay Mann.

Whomever replaces King on the core Batman will, in the eyes of King loyalists, have a tough act to follow.

On The Air: The Wrestlers (2017-9)

In the wake of the just-concluded miniseries, The Dark Side of The Ring, Viceland dusts off a new docuseries that has taken two years to reach the air.

The Wrestlers takes a look at independent wrestling here in the US, and charts the course of the business in other countries, including Canada, Japan, Mexico, Bolivia, & the Congo. Wrestling fan Damian Abraham is the host-narrator. The series airs Wednesdays on Viceland through July 10 at 10 pm (ET), and is available On Demand.

In the following episode, Abraham takes a look at Evolve, a popular indie that has a working relationship (not mentioned on the show) with WWE. Promoter Gabe Sapolsky used to work for Ring of Honor in its early years. Parental discretion is advised. The video comes from Vice's YouTube channel.

Edit, 9/19/21: The episode has been deleted. In its place is a trailer:

I am reminded of Barry Blaustein's "Beyond The Mat", which was quite the sensation 20 years ago, but goes much further than Blaustein ever dared dream.

Rating: A.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Three champions say goodbye

The sports world is in mourning. Three men who were among the elite in their respective sports have passed away within the last week.

Champion race car driver Niki Lauda was 70 when he was called home last week. Lauda raced primarily on the Grand Prix circuit during the 70's.

Earlier today, Bill Buckner, who spent 22 seasons in baseball with the Dodgers, Cubs, & Red Sox, winning league pennants with the Dodgers (1974) and BoSox (1986), passed away at 69 from Lewy's Body Dementia.

Despite his career accomplishments, most people will still remember Buckner for a game ending error in Game 6 of the '86 World Series, which enabled the Mets to tie the series, which they ultimately won two nights later in game 7. Buckner, by all accounts, deserved to be remembered for more than that.

On Sunday, NFL Hall of Famer Bart Starr, who led the Green Bay Packers to the first two Super Bowls, passed away. Many will remember the 1967 NFL title game vs. Dallas, the "Ice Bowl", as a definition of the grit & determination of Starr and the Pack.

Rest in peace.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Classics Reborn: Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in The Family & The Jeffersons (2019)

Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel has admitted to the world he is a fan of Norman Lear's family of sitcoms from the 70's, so much so that he & Lear co-hosted and produced Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in The Family & The Jeffersons, which drew 10.4 million viewers on Wedneday night. The special, was encored last night, and a behind the scenes special followed both nights.

All in The Family recreated what amounted to a transitional episode in the series, as Henry Jefferson (Mel Stewart in the original series) was being written out to make room for Henry's brother, George (Sherman Hemsley).

The casting was, for lack of a better description, eclectic. Woody Harrelson (ex-True Detective, Cheers) plopped into Carroll O'Connor's legendary easy chair as bigoted, narrow minded Archie, Ellie Klemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) played Gloria, Ike Barinholz (ex-The Mindy Project, MadTV) hit note after note as Mike "Meathead" Stivic, and Oscar winner Marisa Tomei (to be seen next in "Spider-Man: Far From Home") returned to television (her resume includes A Different World & As The World Turns), and somehow made naive, good natured Edith look hot. Anthony Anderson (black-ish, To Tell The Truth) played Henry, with Grammy & Oscar winner Jamie Foxx (Beat Shazam) as George. Jamie even got the famous George Jefferson walk on point. It was in this part of the show that Jamie ended up forgetting a line and improvising for a few seconds.

Emmy winner James Burrows was brought in to direct both episodes, and had he gotten a cameo, the audience would've popped for him as much as everyone else.

Sean Hayes (Will & Grace) filled Vincent Gardenia's role as Frank Lorenzo, but came off like the second coming of Charles Nelson Reilly, albeit unintentionally. Wanda Sykes (who has recurred on black-ish) played Louise Jefferson, and gave one of the best performances of her career.

To effect the transition to The Jeffersons, Grammy & Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson sang "Movin' On Up", the show's theme song, originally recorded by Good Times' Ja'net DuBois......

The Jeffersons was a remake of the pilot, which introduced Florence (Marla Gibbs) into the mix, and oh, did the audience pop when Florence appeared. Co-executive producer Will Ferrell & Kerry Washington (ex-Scandal) played Tom & Helen Willis. Ferrell and his Funny or Die partner, Adam McKay, were among the executive producers, and this gave Ferrell an opportunity to return to his salad days on Saturday Night Live.

There were a couple of downers. Stephen Tobolowski, signed to play Harry Bentley (Paul Benedict in the original series), was way older than the character was written to be. Sad to say, time has not been kind to Jackee Harry (ex-Sister, Sister), and that's just being kind.

Having not seen the original episodes when they first aired actually was a benefit, as, despite the time warp, there was a certain freshness to both. I can imagine a certain residence in Washington had this on DVR.

Rating: A.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

When MTV meant something: Dial MTV (1986)

MTV was in a period of transition in 1986. Original VJ's Nina Blackwood, JJ Jackson (both in June), and Martha Quinn (December) were let go, and America was introduced to the phrase, "Wubba, wubba, wubba", courtesy of British-Jamaican import "Downtown" Julie Brown. The network was experimenting with third-party reruns (i.e. The Monkees, Best of Saturday Night Live) in order to diversify their programming, infuriating viewers with the non-music programming (i.e. The Young Ones) in the mix.

But, then, with hair metal a growing thing, metalheads dominated the phone lines of the channel's weeknight request series, Dial MTV, which aired at 6 (ET), opposite your local evening news. It was kind of hard for pop-rock to gain a foothold. Even with a change in the rules for video eligibility in mid-stream, not much changed, and Dial MTV was history by the end of the decade.

Following is a promo for the show.

Rating: B.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Musical Interlude: Tears Are Falling (1985)

In 1985, Kiss, which had shed its trademark face paint at the time, introduced themselves to the MTV generation

Bassist-vocalist Gene Simmons had already established himself without the makeup, embarking on a successful acting career away from the band in movies & television, including a role opposite Tom Selleck in "Runaway" a year earlier.

Guitarist-vocalist Paul Stanley endeared himself to the young ladies with leading man-style looks. He wrote and sings lead on "Tears Are Falling", the first single from the CD, "Asylum". Strangely, if you believe Wikipedia, Simmons isn't credited with playing bass on the track. Instead, they claim Stanley played both bass and rhythm guitar in addition to lead vocals.

"Tears" topped the daily Dial MTV chart for several days until the network changed the rules. Go figure.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

On The Shelf: Much ado about Batman

The big news this week is the shocking report that acclaimed writer Tom King is leaving Batman way sooner than he would've liked.

Seems King had a meeting with some higher-ups at WarnerMedia last week, and after revealing later on that he had plans that would change the landscape as far as the Dark Knight was concerned, someone at WarnerMedia wigged, and sent word to DC to pull King off one of their flagship books. King's final issue will be #85, due in the fall. King had hoped he could do 100+ issues, but sales have been falling since last year's wedding swerve, and, as fans have noted, Marvel's recent reboot of one of their franchises as Immortal Hulk got the Green Goliath past the Caped Crusader in terms of sales. That would be another reason for the panic at the corporate level.

Understandably, King has his supporters and detractors, the former wondering if he has to rush the finish of his arc, and he probably will. The detractors have grown since the wedding swerve last July.

At the core of the problem seems to be, predictably, editorial interference. Seems King had pitched one arc in the series, "The War of Jokes & Riddles", to be released separate from the regular book, but publisher Dan DiDio, proving once again to be a little off-center in terms of common sense, decided it would be part of the regular book. That it was eventually released in trade paperback is a moot point, as it would have either way.

Bat-group editor Jamie S. Rich, a former "letterhack" from back in the day, and who came over from Dark Horse to work at DC, may have some explaining to do.....
In 1983, DC decided that Batman would leave the Justice League of America, and form his own team. In effect, Batman & The Outsiders was launched as a back-door pilot in the final issue--at that time---of The Brave & The Bold. Ultimately, however, Batman would be moved back to the Justice League, as creative directions changed on both books.

More than 35 years and a few iterations later, Batman & The Outsiders is back, even more blatantly a part of the Bat-line than before. Original team members Black Lightning & Katana are back, but now tasked to mentor two of Batman's younger proteges, Orphan (Cassandra Cain, who previously had been Batgirl 20 years ago) and The Signal (Duke Thomas, a recent addition to the Bat-family) in the field.

Black Lightning's creator,----and fellow blogger----Tony Isabella, isn't too thrilled with the use of Black Lightning, seeing as how DC has refused to green-light any more solo series for the character in the wake of the success of his CW series, which will return for its 3rd season in October. Seems sales on last year's "Cold Dead Hands" miniseries, outside of the home district, where I couldn't get my hands on a copy of any issue, weren't that great, and after all the work that had been done to mend fences between Isabella and DC after years of bad feelings, it seems to have been undone by editorial or corporate decision making.

Digression over. The new Outsiders picks up plot threads from a prequel that ran in Detective Comics, also last year, written by Bryan Edward Hill, with some nice retro artwork by Dexter Soy to complement the mood du jour. However, since corporate feels the need to appease the fanboys in the audience by sticking with the grim-dark atmosphere of the Bat-books, it does this series no favors to include it in the Year of The Villain event, beginning in issue 3. While I may be tempted to pick up a trade or two to catch up, I don't see the long term benefit of this book.

Rating: C-.
Most of us get it by now. DC wants to rewrite Bat-history by deciding that Selina (Catwoman) Kyle was Bruce Wayne's true love all along, such that a new young adult graphic novel aimed at young women follows the idea presented on the now-concluded Gotham series that Bruce & Selina met as kids, not as adults.

"Under The Moon", a DC Ink graphic novel, offers a peek into Selina's childhood in this new reality. The artwork is age appropriate, and, yes, there's an appearance by young Bruce Wayne. If you're an old school traditionalist like me, this is not for you, unless you reconcile yourself to the fact that DC's current regime wants to grow & broaden its audience by any means necessary.

Bear in mind this obsession with The Bat & The Cat has made Vicki Vale, among others, an afterthought. And whatever became of Vicki in this modern era, anyway?

Rating: B.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

What Might've Been: McKeever & The Colonel (1962)

Four Star's track record with comedies wasn't that good. No matter what they tried, it turned out that comedy wasn't their forte at all.

One such example of a good idea that went nowhere was 1962's McKeever & The Colonel, one of two service comedies Four Star sold to NBC, the other being Dean Jones' Ensign O'Toole.

McKeever, however, was set at a military academy, where the plots were as much about the faculty as the students themselves. Allyn Joslyn was the Colonel in the title, matching wits with Cadet McKeever (Scott Lane), whom the producers sought to present as a juvenile knockoff of Phil Silvers' Sgt. Bilko. Jackie Coogan, two years before The Addams Family, was sympathetic Sgt. Barnes, the central figure in the episode, "Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow". Cast member John Eimen has a YouTube channel, from which we get this video:

Coogan & Joslyn would work together again on Addams Family, where Joslyn appeared frequently in a supporting role.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Sports this 'n' that

Entering play Monday, the Mets had dropped five straight, including getting swept by the last place Miami Marlins, who collected a receipt after the Mets had beaten them five times this season.

Predictably, New York tabloid media and talk radio, dubbed "The Valley of The Stupid" by New York Daily News media columnist Bob Raissman, decided to vent, and declared second year manager Mickey Calloway's job is in jeopardy.

First year GM and former agent Brodie Van Wagenen gave Calloway the dreaded vote of confidence on Monday afternoon, hours before the Mets dispatched fourth place Washington. The love affair is over between Van Wagenen and the team's online fan base, and their perception is that owner Fred Wilpon and his son, Jeff, are the most inept owners the team has had, operating on the cheap. Remember, they're still digging out of the mess created by scam artist Bernard Madoff a few years ago, so the Wilpons would rather go cheap than find the right tools (players) to appease the fan base.

Free agent pitchers Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel are still out there because their agents refused to budge on contract terms. Kimbrel, in particular, collected a World Series ring with Boston last year, and Keuchel did the same a year earlier with Houston. The free agent market isn't as strong as it used to be as more owners are preferring to take greater investments on home-grown players, which Keuchel was with Houston.

The Mets haven't been this cheap since the infamous M. Donald Grant was GM in the 70's. They opted to trade for Wilmer Font, getting him from Tampa Bay a couple of weeks back for cash.

Somewhere, Jack Benny is smiling.
So War of Will won the Preakness on Saturday, recovering from the Kentucky Derby debacle two weeks earlier. However, what folks wanted to talk about was the fact that Bodexpress dumped jockey John Velazquez at the start, and actually led much of the way. Even if he won, it wouldn't have counted because he ran free without a rider, and that's a big no-no, or, neigh, in racing.
Japan gave us Godzilla, who became a pop culture icon in both countries, as well as everywhere else, immortalized in song by the Blue Oyster Cult in the 70's.

Unfortunately, a bigger menace to pop culture is headed their way.

President Trump is heading to Japan later this week to meet with new emperor Naruhito, and is interested in attending the finals of a sumo wrestling championship. Trump, a close friend of WWE CEO/Chairman Vince McMahon, is just piquing his curiosity, but he'll soon find that sumo wrestling is serious business.

We can only hope he doesn't go full Ugly American in Tokyo.
Speaking of WWE, while the Monday Night Raw troupe was in town last night at Times-Union Center, McMahon is proving again and again that he doesn't have clue one about solving the ratings problems plaguing his company.

Former champ Brock Lesnar returned Sunday, and was a surprise entrant in the men's Money in The Bank ladder match. The fact that he won, barely doing anything, was mostly for shock value, and a vain attempt at juicing ratings, which were likely to tank opposite the NBA playoffs last night.

The nature of Lesnar's contract with WWE, signed seven years ago, allows him to pick and choose when he appears at his leisure, and thus is not beholden to McMahon as everyone else is, and that is wrong. Fans have complained about Lesnar winning championships and defending when he feels like it, and rejoiced when he dropped the Universal title to Seth Rollins last month at Wrestlemania.

Look, I get that McMahon is seven levels of desperate for ratings here, but his complacency the last few years has created a feeling of staleness with the product. The promo he and his family cut a week before Christmas, promising changes? Empty lip service, five months later. The product conforms to his out of date, myopic vision. Son-in-law Paul "Triple H" Levesque, curator of NXT, the company's developmental brand, has, in the eyes of fans, more on the ball than McMahon, who will be 74 after Summerslam in August.

However, the company is revisiting the Attitude Era of the late 90's and early '00's as much as possible lately, and it's not helping.

Shane McMahon turned heel back in March, and is playing the spoiled, entitled bully, just as he did at various times between 1998-2001. The once beloved cult favorite is bordering on being overexposed, but his father doesn't care.

Last night, a new title, the 24/7 championship, merely the old hardcore title given a new, 21st century look, was introduced. The hardcore title, a knock on ECW, was popular with fans, and McMahon is looking to recapture the vibe of nearly 20 years ago.

What does this tell us? For all the fresh ideas being submitted to McMahon by his creative staff, he rejects them in favor of older concepts, most of which don't really fit anymore. To say he's stuck in the past would be a gross understatement.

And then, there is the spectre of the nascent All Elite Wrestling, founded by Matt & Nick Jackson (The Young Bucks) and wrestler-actor Cody Runnels, which will have Double or Nothing taking place Saturday in Las Vegas, with a TV deal with TNT to kick in come October, after Smackdown changes networks and nights, from Tuesdays on USA to Fridays on Fox. If AEW delivers a superior product on Saturday night, that will give them much needed momentum, publicity, and create something McMahon hasn't seen in 18 years. A viable threat to his dominance of the business. Cody's father, the late Dusty Rhodes, not only was a top star with the NWA in the 80's, but he also worked behind the scenes on their television programs.

In that respect, Cody has something in common with Levesque. Both are old school at their cores. You can bet that Levesque, who has created a back to basics approach with NXT (coming to Albany in August at the Capital Center, according to early reports), and wants to do the same with the main WWE roster, will be watching AEW closely. And quietly cheering for Cody.

Monday, May 20, 2019

What Might've Been: The Famous Teddy Z (1989)

CBS had the hype machine rolling full steam 30 years ago to herald the debut of The Famous Teddy Z, from WKRP in Cincinnati creator Hugh Wilson, and based on the real-life story of an agent who went to work for Hollywood legend Marlon Brando.

Jon Cryer, at the time known for having appeared in John Hughes' "Sixteen Candles", had the title role as the novice agent. Today, Jon just finished the current season of Supergirl as master villain Lex Luthor, and will return next season at some point.

No episodes are available online at present, but we do have an intro:

Five unaired episodes later surfaced on cable, first on Comedy Central, then Trio.

No rating.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Musical Interlude: He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother (1969-75)

From the British children's variety show, Supersonic, comes the Hollies, revisiting 1969's "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother", which was covered by the Osmond Brothers in 1970. This clip is reportedly from 1975.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Tales of The Invisible Kingdom (Joyce Meyer @ Times-Union Center, 5/17/19)

Evangelist Joyce Meyer returned to the Times-Union Center tonight to begin a two-day conference. The general topic, which will encompass all three teaching sessions in the space of a 24 hour period, is "The Invisible Kingdom".

With no admission charge, you'd think the T-U Center would open the upper bowl, considering the lower bowl and the floor were almost full. Didn't happen. Their loss.

Meyer's ministry has been active for more than four decades, and tonight's program was being recorded for her syndicated television show, Enjoying Everyday Life, for future broadcast. She read passages from the Gospels of Matthew & John, and from 1 Corinthians (pronounced First Corinthians). She mixed scriptures with humorous ancedotes about her life and family. She also shared her own personal issues with sexual abuse at the hands of her father in her youth. Those issues have led to the formation of Project GRL (Guide-Restore-Love), which was represented with a video early in the evening.

Singer-songwriter Kari Jobe opened and closed the program, leading off with one of her earlier hits, "Forever". It just so happens that there's a concert clip from an earlier tour......

A reading of "How Great Thou Art" bled into Cody Carnes (no relation to 80's star Kim Carnes--I think) and one of his hits, "Nothing Else". If anything, the man sounds like he was influenced by Michael W. Smith. Their voices are similar.

The atmosphere in the T-U Center was electric. Pre-program, they played a parody of movie trailers to promote some of Meyer's merchandise. The narrative was so over the top, you couldn't help but laugh.

"The Invisible Kingdom" continues with part 2 Saturday at 9:30 am. The conclusion comes four hours later. The reason it's just two days? The WNBA will be in town on Sunday.

The petition of the butt-hurt

I don't have HBO, so I've never seen Game of Thrones, which wraps its final season on Sunday night.

However, a disgruntled fan from Texas started a petition on, demanding, get this, a do-over of the current season, alleging that the show's writers, without fresh source material from acclaimed author George R. R. Martin, the creator of the series, have created less than satisfactory product.

As someone who regularly watches most, but not all, superhero programming on the air today (i.e. The Flash, Supergirl, Arrow, Doom Patrol), and has taken issue with the creative direction of those programs, I cannot support this frivolous effort.

Before we go any further, here's a trailer for the current season of Game of Thrones:

Game of Thrones has been a source of inspiration for baseball promotions. The Mets, for example, had a bobblehead giveaway recently where the bobblehead of the player honored, pitcher Noah Syndergaard, had a GoT theme. However, the petition has, as of this writing, generated nearly a million signatures.

I get that genre fans are passionate. However, this petition isn't going to do a blessed thing to change what you're seeing on your television screens. It is, as noted, frivolous, and borne of frustration over the creative direction of the series this season. You won't see that sort of thing with, say for example, The Flash or The Walking Dead, as fans of those shows know that the writers are loosely adapting the source materials----very loosely, in many cases----in order to create the best possible story for a wider audience made up of casual viewers. Are those adaptations flawed? In many cases, yes.

That's because the fans don't readily understand that they're not the target audience. In all honesty, I think the same applies to Game of Thrones. With no fresh material from Martin, the writers have to use their own imaginations, and ask themselves, how would Martin write this?

If you believe the Texas twit that started this petition, Martin wouldn't have approved, but we don't know that, do we now?

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Musical Interlude: I Drove All Night (1987-92)

One of Roy Orbison's last recordings was "I Drove All Night", which he recorded in 1987. However, this version didn't see the light of day until well after Orbison's passing, first appearing on a Nintendo compilation CD in 1991, and then released on "King of Hearts", produced by Orbison's Traveling Wilburys mate, Jeff Lynne, a year later.

The black & white video features Jason Priestley (Beverly Hills 90210) & Jennifer Connolly.

Before this version was released, "Drove" went up the charts via Cyndi Lauper's 1989 recording, which had Lauper using her naked body as a projection screen. Celine Dion was the last solo artist to record "Drove", and that led to an endorsement deal with Chrysler.

Comics on TV-fall 2019-20 preview

The CW has announced its fall slate. Some shows stay on the same night, others are moving.

For example, the much hyped Batwoman, a spin-off from Arrow, will be coupled with Supergirl on Sundays. Executive producer Greg Berlanti will have Sunday-Tuesday all to himself, with the remake of Charmed shifting to Fridays to join another Aaron Spelling reboot, Dynasty.

The lineup:

Sundays (all times ET):

8: Batwoman
9: Supergirl (new time)


8: All American (new night & time)
9: Black Lightning


8: The Flash
9: Arrow (new night, final season)


8: Riverdale
9: Nancy Drew (Dynamite owns the license on Nancy these days, as she's already appeared in a couple of miniseries)

Thursdays will stay the same with Supernatural & Legacies, and, as mentioned, Charmed & Dynasty will be paired on Fridays.

Legends of Tomorrow and Katy Keene, a freshman entry based on the Archie comics property, will be mid-season entries. If I could hazard a guess, I'd say Katy is ticketed for Wednesdays to relieve Nancy Drew, following a likely back-door pilot on Riverdale, while Legends will move back to its original night, Tuesdays, after Arrow finishes its run in December. In all, Berlanti will have 9 series on the CW roster this season. Still another Berlanti entry, NBC's Blindspot, will be held until mid-season there.

Oni Press' Stumptown hasn't had any new material in four years, but ABC has adapted the series for its fall lineup, airing on Wednesdays. If you've never read the books, check with your local comics shop to see if they have the trade paperbacks. Anyway, Cobie Smulders (ex-Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, How I Met Your Mother) will star in the TV version. Speaking of SHIELD, it'll once again be a mid-season entry for ABC, just as it is now.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Dunce Cap Award: Gary West

I've heard of sore losers before. This, however, takes the grand prize for sheer stupidity.

11 days ago, this was the Kentucky Derby, and the ensuing controversy over the finish.

Gary West, owner of Maximum Security, who was dropped down all the way to 17th place, has taken sour grapes to a whole new level. First, West appealed to the Kentucky Racing Commission. The appeal was denied, because the stewards' judgment was final.

That wasn't enough for West. Today, he filed a lawsuit against those same stewards and a few other folks, over the result of the race, and what he calls---get this---an "unconstitutional" disqualification of his horse.


West believes his horse rightfully won the race, and has been mocked by online commentators. Doesn't help that a certain "fan" in Washington weighed in with his opinion on the race, lacking a true horseman's credibility to state said opinion. A frivolous lawsuit will only do two things. One, it makes West's lawyer rich, especially if this week's Dunce Cap winner continues to appeal every decision that goes against him. Two, it destroys any chance Maximum Security has of any reasonable career progress going forward. West believes the DQ cost him and his horse an untold amount of future revenues in post-career breeding.

One of my old teachers used to say that stupidity runs rampant. In this day and age, stupidity is where you find it.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Tim Conway (1933-2019)

They say death comes in three's, and it often happens that way in Hollywood.

This latest celebrity trifecta is complete with news today that Emmy winning actor-comedian Tim Conway had passed away from water on the brain at 85.

For nearly 60 years, Conway made television audiences laugh with his low-key, often improvised, brand of physical slapstick comedy. He first became a regional star in his native Ohio, working alongside another future icon, Ernie Anderson, who would later be Conway's announcer on his CBS variety show, and then was given his first national break when Rose Marie, in town to promote The Dick Van Dyke Show, met Conway, and recommended the comic to Steve Allen, who cast Conway on his 1961 ABC series.

You know the rest of the story. McHale's Navy put Conway on the map, once and for all, as bumbling, naive, often dimwitted Ensign Charles Parker over the course of four seasons (1962-6), including two feature films. However, while he shined as a supporting player, winning a few Emmy awards, Conway for some reason was never able to carry a show by himself as a lead. Rango, a mid-season replacement series from Aaron Spelling & Danny Thomas for ABC in 1967, was the first such attempt. Conway reunited with McHale co-star Joe Flynn for a short-lived, self-titled CBS sitcom in 1970. After making frequent appearances on the Carol Burnett Show during its first 8 seasons, Conway was added to the regular lineup in 1975, and stuck around until the series ended in the spring of 1978.

Conway also parlayed his Burnett run into a series of films with Don Knotts (ex-The Andy Griffith Show), including "The Apple Dumpling Gang" & its sequel for Disney, and the independently produced "The Private Eyes". Conway's first Disney outing, 1973's "The World's Greatest Athlete", was parodied later that year when he guested on The New Scooby-Doo Movies. Conway would continue to work in animation well into recent times, including a DTV series created by Christian author Max Lucado, and a stint on SpongeBob SquarePants, playing a superhero parody alongside McHale co-star Ernest Borgnine.

Here, Tim does a sketch with a most unlikely straight man, Fugitive star David Janssen, on The Hollywood Palace:

Rest in peace.

On Stage: A reading of Models of Perfection, 5/13/19

To paraphrase Billy Joel, it was a pretty good crowd for a rainy Monday night.

Superior Merchandise Company hosted the 2nd Dark Day Monday production of the Troy Foundry Theatre. This time, it was a reading of Katie Pedro's Models of Perfection. The Dark Day Monday series mostly has readings of plays, and one of last year's readings has led to a world premiere production which will open in two weeks, "100 Years", by Richard Dresser.

Digression over. The evening began with actor-singer-songwriter Jacob Morgan Fisch, one of the three cast members in the program, playing a three song acoustic set. I've a feeling we'll be hearing more from him both as an actor and as a musician in the months to come.

The reading of Models followed, after introductions were made by TFT creative director David Girard. The pacing was swifter than you'd think, as Fisch and castmates Heather Frederick & James Carola went through the play. There are some layers to Models. "Sister" (Frederick) seems to be off in her own world, while "Brother" (Fisch) is trying to make sense of where she is. Carola carries off the dual roles of a pastor and the personification of the economy with ease, but both roles are more cameos than featured. To be honest, I'd be interested in seeing this developed into a world premiere production next year, except for the fact that there will be a workshop in New York later this year on the production.

Heather Frederick, having just finished her sophomore season at Siena, has already developed quite the theatrical resume, including a couple of Shakespeare adaptations. While you might be led to believe "Sister" isn't exactly in touch with reality, Heather happens to be quite adorable. Maybe it's the retro-pig tails that have something to do with that.

As noted, TFT returns in two weeks with "100 Years" for a 2 weekend engagement.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Doris Day (1922-2019)

She sang with Les Brown and His Band of Renown. She was Hollywood's Girl Next Door in the 50's. Wham! name-checked her on their 1984 hit, "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go".

Doris Day starred in movies with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Clark Gable, Ronald Reagan, Rock Hudson,  & Howard Keel, just to name a few. Back in the day, her movies were often rotated on local television to fill time during weekend afternoons.

After the end of her self-titled sitcom (1968-73), Doris became more prominent as an animal rights activist, a cause she championed to the very end.

Doris Day passed away at age 97, leaving behind a lifetime of memories. Radio stations around the country are playing her music today in celebration of a fabulous career.

Rather than do the obvious and post a clip of Doris performing her trademark song, "Que Sera Sera", which became the theme to her sitcom, we'll serve up a sample clip from the show, co-starring McLean Stevenson, Rose Marie, & Denver Pyle.

Rest in peace.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Celebrity Rock: Just a Little Lovin' & Little Green Apples (1969)

Before she landed her iconic role as Julie Barnes on The Mod Squad, Peggy Lipton had embarked on a secondary career as a singer, and had released a self-titled LP in 1968, either right before or after Squad premiered. Having logged a number of guest appearances pre-Squad on shows as diverse as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and Mr. Novak, it's fair to say Peggy landed her big break when she was cast by Aaron Spelling & Danny Thomas.

The success of Squad brought Peggy to The Hollywood Palace in the spring of 1969, where she sings "Just a Little Lovin'" and duets with host du jour Sammy Davis, Jr. on OC Smith's "Little Green Apples". Davis would also make a guest appearance on Squad in addition to making a couple of TV-movies for Spelling & ABC, as he acknowledges in his intro.

Keep an eye out for Squad co-stars Michael Cole & Clarence Williams III, who show up at the end of the video.

In memory of Peggy Lipton, who passed away Saturday at 72 from colon cancer. Her talent has passed down to daughter Rashida Jones (Angie Tribeca), one of her two children with Quincy Jones, to whom Peggy was married from 1974-89. Rest in peace.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Bat-Coke? (1989)

Coca-Cola got on the bandwagon when WB released "Batman" in 1989. The ad agency contracted by the studio and DC stitched in clips of Michael Keaton in the title role driving the Batmobile while Alfred (Michael Gough) is contacting a local market requesting a fresh supply of Diet Coke, noting that a certain "gentleman" will pick up said order.....

I remember seeing this the first time around, amused. 30 years later, it's still entertaining.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Dunce Cap Award: Jerome Kunkel

I just don't get the anti-vaccination movement.

Because of some misinformation about vaccines, there are thousands of people who think it's not a good idea to be vaccinated against diseases like the flu or chicken pox or measles.

In Kentucky, however, there is a case where the anti-vaccination movement took a step backward.

Jerome Kunkel, 18, is a student at a Catholic high school, and unsuccessfully attempted to sue the state health department, citing religious beliefs as a reason why he & his family refuse to accept vaccines.


In a clear case of reaping what you sow, Kunkel, according to an article on Yahoo!, has himself contracted chicken pox, and now cannot return to school until the disease runs its course. The Kunkel family bought into the big lie about vaccinations (I'd like to meet the jabroni who started this nonsense and smack him upside the head), and now, Jerome is paying the price.

Personal note: I contracted chicken pox in 1973, as did my brother. I was 10, he was 7. We were attending summer camp in town, and ended up missing a few days. As a result, I have to be vaccinated for shingles. In time, Mr. Kunkel and his family will, too, whether they like it or not. Trying to dodge the vaccine based on religious beliefs is, to me, asinine, and asking for trouble, which has already visited the Kunkel family.

As a representative of the folly of the anti-vaccination movement, Jerome Kunkel has also contracted a Dunce Cap. At least he can wear that pretty well........

Musical Interlude: Sing For The Moment (2002-3)

"Sing For The Moment" is the last single off Eminem's 2002 CD, "The Eminem Show". This time around, Eminem lifts the chorus from Aerosmith's classic, "Dream On", which is why you hear Steven Tyler on this track. Don't know if Tyler ever sat in with Eminem on tour, but it would've been news if it did happen.

Oh, and, hey! Is that "Wee Man" (Jason Acuna) in the audience?

Props to Eminem for including a contortionist on his tour. Talk about easy on the eyes.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

On The Air: Dark Side of The Ring (2019)

Viceland is a channel that was recently added to Spectrum Cable's roster. It's also home to a six part miniseries, Dark Side of The Ring, a documentary series that takes a look at the tragedies of a number of wrestling personalities, as well as a well known scandal in the late 90's that still has ramnifications today.

In the opener, the love story of "Macho Man" Randy Savage and valet-wife Elizabeth was told with the help of Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, & Bruce Prichard, among others. Coincidentally, Prichard, after the conclusion of production on the miniseries, has returned to work for WWE after several years away.

Here's the trailer, from Viceland's YouTube channel:

If the ratings warrant it, there's likely to be a sequel. A second docu-series, The Wrestlers, debuts later this month.

Rating: A.

Musical Interlude: Pipeline (1963)

Many a time have I heard this next number, but today's DJ's rarely identify the artist associated with the song.

The Chantays are also an answer to a trivia question, as they were the only rock act to appear on The Lawrence Welk Show, which they did in May 1963. "Pipeline" was later covered by Welk and his orchestra, among other artists.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Classic TV (?): Nashville Now (1983)

The Nashville Network, whose original configuration has evolved under Viacom's stewardship into the Paramount Network, got into the talk show business with a primetime series, Nashville Now, which ran for 10 years (1983-93) before being replaced by another talk-variety show, Music City Tonight. Not much difference there.

Veteran country music personality Ralph Emery (ex-Pop! Goes The Country) was the series' host for its entire run, often aided by a puppet, Shotgun Red (voiced by Steve Hall). Red would also appear on Hee Haw in its final years.

The format was pretty much cookie cutter for the genre, set up as a primetime answer to The Tonight Show, and at a much more accessible hour for most folks.

Contrary to what you'd might think, Nashville Now also hosted pop acts, usually on the nostalgia circuit, like in this 1988 episode:

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

Prior to Monday's game six in the Eastern Conference semi-finals against Boston, Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, who should've known better, guaranteed the series would go to a 7th game.

What happened? The Bruins dismissed the Blue Jackets, 3-0, to win the series, 4-2.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if Columbus drops the other shoe and drops Tortorella like a bad habit.
I didn't see the race---I was covering a high school baseball game at the time----but the controversy over the Kentucky Derby should be dying down.

In case you missed it, Maximum Security crossed the finish line first, but, after a stewards' review that took nearly a half hour, Maximum Security was disqualified for interference, and dropped all the way down to 17th in a field of 19. Country House, the 65-1 longshot, was declared the winner.

Kentucky racing laws don't allow for appeals, but Gary West, owner of Maximum Security, convinced his horse didn't do anything out of line, is planning to appeal to the courts.


Now, ye scribe doesn't follow horse racing as closely as in the past, but this is a fool's folly all the way.

By the way, neither Country House nor Maximum Security will run in the Preakness on May 17. There are still folks who want more lead time between Triple Crown races, to give the horses significant, sufficient time to rest. I don't see a problem with that, but this is one tradition that won't be broken for any amount of money.

Right now, the three races (Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes) are run over the course of a six week period (The Belmont will run on June 8). Taking into account the rash of horse deaths at Santa Anita in California, advocates calling for the longer lead time between races have a clear cut case. It's the TV money involved that's a stumbling block. NBC holds the rights to the Triple Crown, and they're the ones to blame for the races being delayed to nearly 7 pm (ET), to milk ratings. That's been going on for a while now.

I can remember when CBS had the rights, and didn't air any "undercard" races. They got it right, and so did ABC when they took it over. I guess they think it's necessary to flood Joe Sixpack's brain with useless information for four hours before the race.
As long as WWE Chairman/CEO Vince McMahon is forging ahead with XFL 2.0 next February, he's got the TV deal in place.

Fox, FS1, ABC, & ESPN will be the places to go in 2020. Considering Fox will be picking up Smackdown come October, their involvement is no surprise. WWE has a cozy relationship with ESPN as well. As long as WWE personalities don't appear during XFL games like they did in 2001, and Vince keeps a low profile this time, maybe they can succeed where Charlie Ebersol's Alliance of American Football failed. The AAF folded a few weeks ago, unable to finish their lone season, and many believe the XFL is headed for that same fate.

Somehow, though, Fox XFL Saturday or ESPN's XFL Countdown don't sound so promising, although in the latter, it would give Jonathan Coachman, a former ESPN guy between WWE runs, something to do.
We brought this up over at Tri-City SportsBeat, but it bears repeating here.

When Monday Night Raw rolls into Albany in two weeks, even though advertising is promising low prices of $15, a check of the Times-Union Center website showed that hadn't been the case, as the low price on the site was $20 higher ($35). I am guessing it's to cover renovation costs on the arena.

Meanwhile, NXT figures to be in town in August, right before Summerslam, but not at the acoustically-challenged Washington Avenue Armory. Instead, early word is that NXT will move down the hill to the Capital Center, which hadn't listed it on its website at last check, so I can't quote ticket prices just yet.

Then again, I've advocated ever since the Capital Center opened that NXT should be there. The Albany All-Stars women's roller derby moved there a couple of years ago, even though they weren't selling out the Armory.. I think they, too, realized the sound issues...........

Monday, May 6, 2019

On Stage: A live episode of Old Scout (2019)

Troy Foundry Theatre kicked off its 2019 Dark Day Monday series tonight with a live taping of Christian Strevy's YouTube series, Old Scout, complemented with an earlier episode, and two short films.

Alabama native Strevy, who now makes his home in Philadelphia, had been in the Cub Scouts until he dropped out at age 10 or 11. The premise of collecting every badge available up to Eagle Scout will remind some of one of Adam Sandler's screwball comedies from the 90's, "Billy Madison", but while Sandler went through grades K-12 in the course of a two hour or so movie, Strevy's quest should last another few weeks, as he's planning to put the wraps on Old Scout next month with partner Julie St. John.

The production process for each episode takes less than a week, a la Comedy Central's long running South Park, and Strevy & St. John make it work. Scope out "Canoeing, what could go wrong?":

Tonight's taping had David Girard joining Strevy on stage for "A Clearing in The Woods". Strevy's camping in the Adirondacks. Girard is an obnoxious, unfriendly hustler. As soon as that's available on YouTube, which should be in the next week or two, we'll have it up. On stage, it felt like a skit worthy of Saturday Night Live.


"Ready or Not": Produced & directed by TFT regular and Theatre Institute icon John Romeo, a game of hide & seek between a mother and her daughter has a bizarre ending. And I do mean bizarre, like right out of, say for example, Night Gallery (which Romeo later owned up was what he was going for), or any number of horror comics from the 50's through the 80's.

Rating: A+.

"The Check": David Girard stars & co-directed this short piece about--what else?---a missing check. The ending is one you can see coming a mile away, but the trick is how they get there.

Fun fact: An extra, wielding a wooden staff/tuning fork, was sighted downtown one day, probably the day of filming, at the end of last year, but hasn't been seen since. Hmmmmm.

Rating: B.

Old Scout, based on what I've seen, merits an A.

Next week, TFT moves up the road to Superior Merchandise on 4th Street. Details to follow.

How lemonade brought a couple together (1980)

Country Time lemonade, now made by Kraft, and originally made by General Foods, emphasized the country part of the name back in the day. Seems most of their ads were set in rural areas, like this 1980 spot. Ed Begley, Jr., two years before St. Elsewhere, appears in the flashback portion.

On The Shelf: Free Comic Book Day 2019, and other stuff

Free Comic Book Day has come & gone, so let's take a look at some of the bounty from this year's event:

The last time anyone had heard about Marjorie Buell's legendary Little Lulu, it was when Lulu was adapted for television, on HBO of all places, several years ago, with Tracey Ullman attached to the project.

Today, Drawn & Quarterly, an independent publisher, has acquired the rights to the original Buell stories drawn by John Stanley. I remember reading some Little Lulu when I was a little fella who'd buy anything--DC, Marvel, Gold Key, Harvey, Archie, Charlton--at the newsstand. Subtitled, "The World's Best Comic Book", this volume collects some choice reprints from early in the run at Dell. The issues I had nearly 50 years ago were from Gold Key, and likely were reprints themselves.

It's a nice introduction for a new generation of readers. However, D & Q will likely stick with trade paperback format releases going forward.

Rating: A.
DC introduces their DC Zoom line with a sampler from the forthcoming graphic novel, Dear Justice League, due out in August. DC Zoom is aimed at elementary school kids, and the fan letters certainly fit the demographic stereotype. Parents, I'd invest when this comes out.

Rating: A.
American Mythology Press, the current home to cartoon icons Underdog & Pink Panther, has added Casper to the roster. Casper's Spooksville premiered last month, and award winning artist Eric Shanower, better known for his adaptations of the Wizard of Oz books for Dark Horse, has adapted his style to replicate the works of artists who came before him, such as Warren Kremer and Ernie Colon. The series also allows Hot Stuff, the "little devil", to interact with Casper and his bewitching bestie, Wendy, something that I don't think ever happened at Harvey. They went to the body switching gimmick in the second story, which allows for something else we'd never seen at Harvey, this involving Casper & Wendy. You'll see what I mean.

Rating: A+.
After what seemed like forever at Dark Horse, the licenses for Buffy, The Vampire Slayer & Angel have moved over to Boom! Studios. Their entry offers a sample of what's to come in Buffy's book, as well as another Joss Whedon creation, Firefly, which Boom! also acquired, and are pushing to the moon. Fans of both series will love this.

Rating: B.
Canada's Captain Canuck makes his annual appearance, but, copying what Marvel has done with Captain America, there's a new guy in the suit. Chapterhouse isn't getting as much attention with this franchise as they should, and there is a sense of been there, seen that.

Rating: B-.
It's also an annual tradition at Titan Books to preview a forthcoming story arc for Doctor Who. If you faithfully follow the franchise, which has been around since 1963, they're on the 13th incarnation of The Doctor, this one a female. This is good stuff. In this entry, the Doctor visits a carnival that isn't what it seems. Standard fare.

Rating: A-.
Marvel's Avengers entry is two previews in one, the main title and the new Savage Avengers, which was the excuse to bring Conan the Barbarian to the 21st century, just so Marvel can over-milk Conan like they do their own properties. Not impressed.

Rating for both: B--.
Marvel, you know, is not alone in holding a license for "Star Wars". Idea & Design Works (IDW) has the other license, and continues with Star Wars Adventures as a kid friendly entry level book. Derek Charm comes over from Archie Comics (he had been on Jughead before that series was inexplicably cancelled), and helps spin a yarn from Han Solo's earlier days.

Rating: B+.
IDW is also home to the comic book version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which marks its 35th anniversary this year, as IDW itself turns 20. Standard fare, co-written by co-creator Kevin Eastman, and the artwork reflects the original concept behind the series.

Rating: B.
Marvel can be accused of a bait & switch with their Spider-Man entry.

While Venom gets the lead feature to promote the forthcoming reboot of "Maximum Carnage" as an event this year, Peter Parker & Miles Morales square off And you expected a clash between two heroes? How cliched! How fun!

Rating: A.
Dark Horse is home to an adaptation of Netflix's popular Stranger Things. If you don't follow the show, you probably won't get the story. The backup feature is Jeff Lemire's Black Hammer, as Dark Horse is continuing to build a new superhero universe, and this is a little better than the lead feature.

Rating: B+.
As Riverdale wraps its 3rd season on CW on May 15, Archie Comics begins a Season 3 adaptation in the comics. If they could get away from some of the creepier elements of the TV show, they'd be fine.

Like, we get it. Jughead and Betty have been repackaged as a couple, since the show's writers don't want to deal with the eternal triangle between Betty, Archie, & Veronica. The latter are a couple on TV. If it wasn't for the soap opera aspects of the show, I'd be more into Jug as a detective. There's a lot of potential that's being explored in the current Archie book as well.

Rating: B.
While The Tick's creator, Ben Edlund, has been in Hollywood for a while, his superhero parody is in the hands of writer-artist Ian Nichols, who doesn't quite have the knack for satire. Amazon's adaptation of the series has been renewed for a 2nd season, which is more than Fox did for Tick.

Rating: B--.
Dynamite has the license for Vampirella, who begins a new solo series, while also being paired with Red Sonja in a mniseries crossover with Archie Comics' Betty & Veronica. Christopher Priest will script the new Vampi solo book, but for once, I fear that Priest, a veteran writer with over 40 years experience (he started at Marvel as Jim Owsley), may have finally laid an egg.

Happily, a 1993 reprint from Harris Comics, written by Kurt Busiek, has Vampi and her mentor, Pendragon, dealing with some strange bugs, and the predictable hysteria of a small town. Plus, Busiek opted to let Vampi talk in her bat form, something she hadn't done at Warren, and I'm not sure about more recent stories.

You do know that Archie's parodying Vampi with Vampironica, right?

Rating: B.
DC's big summer event is called "Year of The Villain". I'm not impressed. A new character is introduced by DC, but this time, it's not a requirement to buy every issue tied into this event. Thank God! At least they now know better.

DC also has something called Event Leviathan, which is a 6 issue miniseries, debuting this summer, and is also being previewed. That could be even better. I am not, however, so sold on the Batman Who Laughs, an alternate universe mashup of Batman & The Joker. Check your brain cells at the door anytime you see this guy.

Year of The Villain merits a B.
After all the hype surrounding writer Tom Taylor's latest opus, DCeased, ye scribe comes away from issue 1 unimpressed.

In the last decade, we have seen zombie apocalypse stories from Marvel, DC, Image (The Walking Dead is still going strong), and Archie. Zombies have been popular for a while, but, while CW's iZombie is in its final season, just started, Walking Dead shows no signs of slowing down, but there's no rush, it appears, for another show about zombies. SyFy's Z Nation was cancelled not too long ago.

The fact that the modern era creators depict zombies as being a little bit faster afoot in some cases, contrary to the legendary George Romero movies of days gone by might have something to do with the interest in zombie apocalypse. iZombie is the exception, since it's a supernatural crime drama, fronted by the cutest, hottest zombie around, Liv Moore (Rose McIver). Since Afterlife With Archie is locked in turnaround while series creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa shuttles back & forth between Hollywood & Vancouver (where Riverdale & Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and virtually everything else produced by Greg Berlanti, are filmed), why not develop a new, standalone zombie book at Archie that doesn't require Aguirre-Sacasa? Just sayin'.

Meanwhile, DCeased reminds us again of how modern creators have had some sort of issue with Jack Kirby's Fourth World characters. DeSaad, for example, doesn't look human anymore. Instead, it seems some idiot at DC decided to put the Apokoliptian scientist's mind in the body of a Dominator. He doesn't need all those teeth. Kirby envisioned DeSaad as if he'd been modeled after the late comedian-actor Marty Feldman, who was a big star in the 60's & 70's. So not digging. I thought this was going to be something special. It isn't.

Rating: C-.
WWE's Rusev (real name: Miroslav Barnyashev) and his wife, Lana (Catherine "CJ" Perry, "Pitch Perfect"), are shopping around a comics project entitled, Dark Country, with veteran writer Jason Starr attached. They're looking for an artist to work on the project. In a recent interview with Newsarama, Lana revealed she in particular is a fan of the Punisher. Who isn't? They'll find a landing spot soon enough for the book, but I've a feeling Boom! Studios, which has the license for WWE comics, could be in the running.
Mark Russell & Richard Pace's superhero/religious satire, Second Coming, has found a home at Ahoy Comics, with the first issue out in July. In a recent interview, Russell acknowledged that while it was meant to be ongoing, as it'd been solicited at Vertigo/DC before moral zealots got in the way, they'll go with a 4 part miniseries to start. Good idea to take the temperature of the readers before going full bore.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Rockin' Funnies: Without Me (2002)

Right from his first album some 20 years ago, Eminem has managed to make listeners think and laugh, sometimes at the same time.

2002's "Without Me", the first single off "The Eminem Show", falls into this category. The video parodies Batman, ER, CNN, Elvis, and so on, though the captions would also recall Wonder Woman early in its run, or, for current viewers, iZombie. Jenna Jameson is among the guest stars in the video, which is a showcase for the many faces of Eminem.....

In time, Eminem would ditch the bleach bottle, but not his sense of humor.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Sports this 'n' that

Few outside of Cincinnati had heard of Reds outfielder Jesse Winker before this week's series vs. the Mets.

After three games, there are some hardcore Mets fans who'd like to make him a villain just because.

On Monday, Winker put Cincinnati up for good with a 9th inning homer off Met closer Edwin Diaz. On Wednesday, after teammate Jose Iglesias had touched up Diaz for a bomb in the top of the 9th, Winker made a spectacular defensive play to end the game, giving the Reds a 1-0 win. Taunted by fans, he simply waved at the crowd as he ran off the field.

On Reddit, there are hardcores who just aren't having it, and these people are quick to push the panic button when things go astray for the Mets. Like, it's still early May. A lot of season left. It's just too bad there are no such things as chill pills after all..........
The Mets, however, must push forward without reliever Juerys Familia, who went on the injured list on Wednesday with a shoulder issue, which appears to be a recurrence of an earlier injury. Still, it explains some of Familia's struggles since returning to New York from Oakland in the off-season.
The Yankees have the day off today for travel after getting swept in a 2-game series at Arizona.

On Tuesday, CC Sabathia notched his 3000th career strikeout, fanning ex-teammate John Ryan Murphy. However, ex-Met Wilmer Flores had Sabathia's number, driving in 2 runs with a homer and a single, as the Diamondbacks won, 3-1. Arizona won, 3-2, on Wednesday. After the Mets conclude business today vs. Cincinnati, they'll be hitting the road as the Yanks come home.
Some of the shine came off the Kentucky Derby Wednesday with news that early morning line favorite Omaha Beach was scratched due to some breathing issues. He has what is known as an entrapped filigottis, which is a flap that prevents food from entering the lungs and windpipe. Of course, Omaha Beach could come back in time for either the Preakness (May 18) or the Belmont Stakes (June 8), but ya never know.
Just when you thought it was safe to read the sports pages, the Fred Sanford of stage parents is back.

LaVar Ball now is peddling a minicamp, to be held in four countries, including Qatar, Switzerland, & Belgium, in late July and early August, under the auspices of his embattled Big Baller Brand. The rate for the camps is 400 Euros, which translates to $450 in US dollars. Apparently, Ball just ignores the warning signs. His company's in trouble. Eldest son Lonzo missed most of the season with an injury on a Laker team that couldn't make the playoffs even with LeBron James. And now, Ball wants to fleece naïve European children to feather his nest?

This, too, shall fail.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Musical Interlude: Living Inside Myself (1981)

Gino Vannelli's last hit single on the Hot 100 came in the spring of 1981. Vannelli had left A&M Records for Arista, but the label dropped him despite the success of the single, "Living Inside Myself", which was Vannelli's last top 10 hit.