Wednesday, July 31, 2019

A rapper in on trial in Sweden. President Trump sends the wrong guy to represent the US---we think

Rapper-model A$AP Rocky, aka Rakim Mayers, is on trial for assaulting a Swedish teenager a month ago. As previously reported, President Trump has taken an interest in the case, thanks to wife Melania, as well as Kanye West.

As the trial began, Trump sent Robert O'Brien, who normally deals with hostage matters, to represent the US government in the hopes of securing Mayers' release from prison.

That begs to ask:



Surely, Trump could've spared a defense attorney or three, but instead he sends what amounts to a hostage negotiator.



Mayers is not being held against his will. He committed a crime, or so the Swedish authorities say. Mayers contends he acted in self-defense. Does Trump not know the difference here? He acted at the direct request of his wife, who must be a fan of Mayers' work, but his sending O'Brien sends the wrong message. If I'm Mayers, I'm praying for a miracle.

Baseball this 'n' that

For the second year in a row, the rumor mills were churning in New York, as the Valley of The Stupid (talk radio) pushed the idea of Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard being traded. When will those jabonies ever learn? Syndergaard isn't going anywhere. He pitched into the 8th inning Tuesday and ended up with another no decision as Edwin Diaz suffered his fifth blown save of the season against the Chicago White Sox.

The Mets, though, extended their winning streak to a season best 5 in a row after being the ChiSox, 5-2, in 11 innings. Jeff McNeil & Michael Conforto hit back-to-back homers for the Mets to win it.

On Sunday, after sweeping Pittsburgh, the Mets traded a pair of minor league pitchers, including highly touted Anthony Kay, to Toronto for Marcus Stroman, who'll make his Mets debut Saturday in Pittsburgh.

The next day, Jason Vargas, Sunday's winner, was shipped off to Philadelphia in exchange for a minor league catcher. Vargas' 2nd stint in Flushing ends rather abruptly, but apparently the Mets never intended to trade Syndergaard after all, and the talk radio idiots were faked out.
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Speaking of the Pirates, they took out their frustrations Tuesday by blowing out Cincinnati, 11-4, but that wasn't the story. The game was already well in hand in the 9th inning when tempers flared. Reds reliever Amir Garrett had had enough....



Reds outfielder Yasiel Puig, acquired just seven months ago from the Dodgers, is on the move again. Minutes before the brawl, it was reported that Puig was headed out of the National League, as the Reds dealt him to Cleveland for disgruntled pitcher Trevor Bauer as part of a three team deal that also sees San Diego send outfielder Franmil Reyes out to Cleveland.

Bauer wrote his ticket out of town when he tossed a baseball over the center field wall on Sunday in a fit of anger. The Reds don't figure to be players for a wild card going forward in another lost season, hence disposing of Puig. Stranger things have happened, though.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Now you can't play a game of dodgeball without getting in trouble

Try this one on for size.

A 10 year old boy is being charged with assault after striking another boy in the face in a game of dodgeball three months ago at their school. One boy is white. One is African-American. Can you guess which one was charged?

If you said the African-American, Bryce Lindley, go to the head of the class.

Now, ye scribe, like so many other kids, played dodgeball in gym class from time to time over the years. There was never any intent to injure, but according to the victim's mom and local police, it seems that young Mr. Lindley had intent on his mind. The victim and his mother have chosen anonymity, perhaps out of fear that the victim might be shamed over the incident. The mother, for her part, claims her child had some earlier issues, and got a black eye and some bruises. Seems earlier, the victim threw the ball over Lindley's head and out of bounds, forcing a stoppage in play. Sounds to me like this was gym class, and not recess.

The whining mom claims her son has been targeted before, including an incident two weeks earlier.

But, bringing charges of aggravated assault on a 10 year old is an overreaction that requires this reaction:



Despite what some online reports suggest, I don't think race is a factor here. Actor-comedian D. L. Hughley tweeted that the game is "kids just being kids", and he's absolutely right. However, this is also a product of the times we live in. A white child and his mother don't want to be identified on camera or in print, but they don't hesitate to ID Bryce Lindley after he's been arrested. You want to talk about scarring a kid for life? Give me a break.

It's like Bryce's mom said. The victim, with his medical history, shouldn't have been playing, and should've gotten a pass from the nurse's office, but did his mom think of that? Nope. Her loss, more than the Lindleys.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Weasel of The Week: James Dolan

Some of you know that Knicks/Rangers/MSG/Radio City Music Hall owner James Dolan is also a weekend rocker in his spare time.

Dolan actually brought his band, JD & The Straight Shot, to an Albany club a number of years back. No, ye scribe didn't go. I had more class.

The classless, paranoid, insecure Dolan was playing a Long Island concert hall the other night, where tickets were as much as $38, when he met a reporter for Newsday, who'd been assigned by her editor to do a feature piece on Dolan's other life. Unfortunately, the reporter wasn't able to file the piece, as Dolan had her removed from the building.

When you're rich & spoiled all at the same time, you do things that would get most folks hauled into court for whatever. Dolan gets publicity for doing stupid things like this, like having a former Knicks star, Charles Oakley, banned from MSG, and so on. Wouldn't surprise me at all if this Weasel has broken bread with President Trump, well before the Ugly American President took office. We also know that WWE doesn't play MSG as often as it used to since Dolan took over the "Mecca of Sports Entertainment".

Turns out Dolan has out-Weaseled Vince McMahon AND Trump with this latest stunt. And that's saying something. The tickets for the concert seemed overpriced for a cover band. but that's Dolan for you, greedy, and fattening his wallet thanks to the concert-goers foolish enough to pay his prices. Don't think the venue set the prices. I'd bet Dolan did.

And you wonder why people want Dolan to sell the Knicks.......

Sunday, July 28, 2019

What Might've Been: Margie (1961)

20th Century Fox had The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis on CBS. In 1961, the studio sold ABC what amounted to a spiritual cousin to Dobie, but not quite as successful.

Margie lasted just one season, but not for lack of trying. It had a favorable time slot, hammocked in between two proven hits in My Three Sons & The Untouchables. The problem? Hazel. Screen Gems' adaptation of the Ted Key comic strip proved to be too much for Margie to overcome.

Cynthia Pepper had the title role as Margie Clayton, with Dave Willock as her father. In this sample episode, Margie and her friends are trying to lure a big band for a school dance. Of course, chaos follows.



Give them credit for ingenuity and imagination.

Rating: B.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Videos of Summer: Smooth (1999)

Matchbox Twenty frontman Rob Thomas was one of several guests on Carlos Santana's 1999 CD, "Supernatural", and scored a monster hit with "Smooth".



It's hot & humid today, so this is appropriate fare.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

What Might've Been: The Blue Knight (1976)

Jack Webb popularized procedural crime dramas in the 50's, 60's, & 70's with Dragnet and Adam-12. In 1971, real life Los Angeles detective Joseph Wambaugh took the baton, and ran with it to the best-seller list.

Wambaugh's 1st novel, 1971's New Centurions, became a feature film a year later with George C. Scott. In 1973, Wambaugh's The Blue Knight became an Emmy award winning TV-movie with William Holden as William "Bumper" Morgan, who was about to retire.

Three years later, Morgan, now played by George Kennedy, was back on the beat as Lorimar & CBS decided to reboot Blue Knight as a weekly series, airing on the back end of the network's Wednesday lineup. This was despite the fact that Wambaugh had another series, Police Story, and two spin-offs from that series, Police Woman & Joe Forrester, airing on NBC. How the Peacock Network passed on Blue Knight in the first place, I'll never know, since the movie aired the same year Police Story debuted.

In fact, Police Story was in the midst of its 3rd season when Blue Knight premiered on CBS in January 1976. Knight was slotted against Aaron Spelling's Starsky & Hutch on ABC during the first season. After Knight was renewed for a 2nd season, ABC countered with another Spelling crime drama, Charlie's Angels. Ballgame over.

For what it's worth, after Knight was cancelled, ABC flip-flopped Angels & Barreta while CBS switched to movies to fill the Wednesday block.

Here's the intro:



Today, Blue Knight sits in the WB vault, and it shouldn't.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Celebrity Rock: West End Girls (2015)

Nearly 30 years after England's Pet Shop Boys climbed the charts in the US with "West End Girls", one of their biggest fans covered the song.

Actor David Tennant (ex- Doctor Who, Jessica Jones) got his stage surname from singer Neil Tennant, but on the series premiere of the short-lived Bring The Noise, David took Chris Lowe's role as the stone-faced keyboard player sharing vocal duties with Tinie Tempah ("Written in The Stars") & Katherine Ryan.

Bring The Noise was supposed to be another one of these comedy games, in this case mocking The Voice, among others. Unfortunately, it only lasted 10 episodes.

Here's "West End Girls":

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Musical Interlude: Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)(1991)

In the late 80's & early 90's, there were a few studio-centric pop acts flooding the charts. Producers Robert Clivilles & David Cole were the masterminds behind not only our next subject, C + C Music Factory, but also Seduction, among others.

Where Clivilles & Cole ultimately ran into trouble was with an image problem.

Ex-Weather Girls singer Martha Wash was the vocalist on "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" for C + C Music Factory, as well as Black Box's "Everybody Everybody". So why isn't she in the video? Some marketing moron decided that Wash wasn't quite as marketable as a model-turned-singer in Liberian-born Zelma Davis. There was some litigation, as memory serves, forcing the record labels (Columbia for C + C, RCA for Black Box---today, both labels are under the same roof) to acknowledge Wash's contributions.

Today, Freedom Williams holds the rights to the C + C Music Factory name.

Monday, July 22, 2019

David Hedison (1927-2019)

He was the original "The Fly". He played Felix Leiter in two James Bond movies, opposite Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton. But, to many viewers of the Baby Boomer era, David Hedison will forever be Captain Lee Crane of the Seaview on Voyage to The Bottom of The Sea (1964-8) opposite Richard Basehart.

It has come across the wires that Hedison, 92, had passed away on Thursday. In his memory, we present a sample episode of Voyage, "No Escape From Death":



After Voyage ended its run, Hedison had relocated to England, and made a lot of guest appearances during the 70's & 80's, in addition to his movie work.

Rest in peace.

Classic TV: Soul! (1968)

When you think of the African-American musicians we grew up with, what immediately leaps out?

Motown legends such as Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, the Four Tops, the Supremes, and the Jackson Five, just to name a few, were immediate mainstream successes. Isaac Hayes won an Oscar for the theme from the original "Shaft". Curtis Mayfield left the Impressions and scored with the theme from "Super Fly".

Earth, Wind, & Fire began climbing the charts in the mid-70's with hits like "Shining Star", "September", and "After The Love is Gone". However, it was PBS' Soul!, near the end of its groundbreaking five year run (1968-73) that introduced America to the jazz-funk combo. Not Mike Douglas. Not Johnny Carson. Not Merv Griffin. Soul!, sadly, was on its last legs when Earth, Wind, & Fire made their debut.

Based in New York, Soul!, funded by the Ford Foundation, had a core audience among inner city viewers, and I'd imagine, even though I'd never seen a minute of the show until today, white kids were watching, too.

Dr. Alvin Poussaint and Loretta Long were the original hosts. Long left after the first season and shifted over to Sesame Street. The Earth, Wind, & Fire episode is introduced by Gerry Bledsoe, a prominent African-American radio DJ in New York during this period. Bledsoe is better known for hosting WPIX's Soul Alive later in the decade.



Rating: A.

Meet the heiress to the Three Stooges! (To Tell The Truth, 1990-1)

We had this one up before, but it got taken down. Then again, you can never keep a good Stooge down.

Joan Howard Maurer, daughter of Moe Howard of The Three Stooges, appeared on To Tell The Truth during its NBC run (1990-1). Ultra busy Alex Trebek is the moderator. Joan appears in the first game.



While we're at it, happy birthday wishes to panelist Orson Bean, who turns 91 today.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

A little of this and a little of that

Every year, San Diego hosts the pop culture event of the summer, Comic-Con International, and the news coming out of Saturday will have comics fans going completely bananas.

Among the headlines:

*--Marvel will bring "Blade" back to the big screen as part of "Phase 4" of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali (ex-Luke Cage) will play the vampire hunter originally portrayed by Wesley Snipes in a trilogy of movies that ended 15 years ago.

*--Natalie Portman will return to the "Thor" franchise in the fourth movie in that series, due in 2021, and they'll adapt Jane Foster's transformation into a Thunder Goddess, if you will, adapting Jason Aaron's recent stories.

*---On the DC side, Supergirl will have a new look when the series returns October 6 on the CW. Star Melissa Benoist asked for, and got a costume change, swapping out her skirt & blue tights for blue pants to match her top. Melissa will also be making her directorial debut during the season. Also, Mehcad Brooks (James Olsen) is leaving the series sometime during the season, which means James' on-again, off-again relationship with Lena Luthor will permanently hit the skids. Tyler Hoechlin, as some expected, will return as Superman for the Crisis on Infinite Earths adaptation, which will start with three chapters in December, but he won't be alone.

That's because Brandon Routh (Legends of Tomorrow) will reprise his 2006 role as the Man of Steel as well, in addition to his regular Legends role as Ray Palmer, aka The Atom. Some fans on Reddit are clamoring for 90's Superman Dean Cain, who didn't appear at all last season on Supergirl, to suit up as well, but if they'd cared to follow the show, they'd see that's not likely, unless Dean's been hitting the gym lately.

*---For the first time, Burt Ward will suit up as Robin without the late Adam West playing Batman. This is also part of the Crisis event. After reprising the role in 2 animated DTV's, I would suspect Ward could actually play an older Dick Grayson, suited as Nightwing, instead. We'll know for sure come December.
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ESPN yapper Dan LeBatard could find himself facing disciplinary action after speaking out on the air earlier this week about President Trump's disrespectful spew toward four freshman Congresswomen. The Disney-owned network wants to stay as far away from politics as much as possible, even though that is kind of difficult, considering President Manchild's warping of NFL players' protests of racial inequality into perceived disrespect of the flag and country. If you can get him to focus on what his job is supposed to entail, instead of trolling for media attention every day, public perception of the President could finally change for the better. Or not.
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Meanwhile, Trump has gone to bat for rapper A$AP Rocky, who was jailed in Sweden. First Lady Melania Trump made the suggestion to her husband, but that wasn't all. Rapper Kanye West, like President Trump a known narcissist, also appealed to the President. Now, I don't think the President's musical tastes include rap, though disco might've been his thing back in the day, but at least we know Melania's got her finger on the pulse of music today.
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Six months after the New Orleans Saints were screwed out of the NFC title by some incompetent officiating, a Louisiana judge has signed off on a lawsuit filed by Saints fans against the NFL.

Look, the city was lucky not to be bombarded by Tropical Storm Barry last week, but some folks there are still butt-hurt over a missed call in a playoff game? The league will, of course, fight the suit, if but to avoid verifying the worst case suspicions of fans around the country, that the playoffs are, more often than not, in their minds, rigged.

Now, I watched the Saints-Rams game, and, yes, the zebra held his flag even though the play was right in front of him. But there's this thing called karma, and it came up and bit the Rams in the Super Bowl, and had the Rams beat the Patriots, then maybe you could have a case, but I don't support this stupidity. Not one bit.

We'll send some waterproof Dunce Caps to the Saints fans.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

What Might've Been: Sara (1985)

The success of Family Ties enabled series creator Gary David Goldberg to sell another series to NBC, this one a workplace comedy that had the misfortune of being on the wrong night.

Sara was set in a legal aid office in San Francisco, with Geena Davis in the title role, leading an ensemble that included Ronnie Claire Edwards (ex-The Waltons), Alfre Woodard, Bill Maher, Bronson Pinchot (fresh from "Beverly Hills Cop"), Mark Hudson, and, in one of his first roles, Matthew Lawrence.

So what was the problem? In a word, Dynasty. NBC slotted Sara as a winter replacement series, and could only get 13 weeks, bringing the show back three years later to recoup production costs.

Here's a sample episode:



Rating: B.

Musical Interlude: Hang on Sloopy (1965)

The McCoys gave Rick Derringer one of his first hit records with 1965's "Hang on Sloopy".

Personal note. When I was in school, there was a time when a group of us would strap on some roller skates and cruise around the gym. More often than not, "Sloopy" was on the turntable, and this was seven years after it'd charted....



Of course, Derringer would go on to play with the Edgar Winter Group before launching his solo career.

Friday, July 19, 2019

What Might've Been: Smartass (1999)

Smartass was a made-for-cable comedy game show, except for one thing. It didn't sell.

Host Jack Cass, a CGI anthropormorphic donkey (voiced by co-creator/co-executive producer Mark DeCarlo of Studs infamy), presided over the silliness of a game that could've landed at Comedy Central---if it hadn't been produced by Studios USA (Universal), and, perhaps, intended for USA Network.

Let's check the pilot.



If Jack looks like he was meant for a video game, it's because he was. University Games came out with a home video game version of the show, and that, at least, found its way to stores. Cross-promoting on television? Not so much.

No rating.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Here we go again: Now it's DC that has deadline issues with one writer

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

History tells of a myriad of comics projects over the last 35+ years that have staggered to the finish line for one reason or another.

At Marvel, for example, they took a chance on filmmaker Kevin Smith writing Daredevil, drawn by then-editor-in-chief Joe Quesada, who was never great at deadlines, as anyone that read DC's Sword of Azrael miniseries will tell you. Between family emergencies and movie projects, Smith struggled to keep deadlines. He didn't have this bad a problem writing Green Arrow at DC by comparison. Marvel management compounded the problem by giving Smith a pair of miniseries, one featuring Daredevil, the other headlined by Spider-Man and Marvel's answer to Catwoman, the Black Cat. At least "The Evil That Men Do" ultimately was completed, but a recent report says that Smith still plans to finish Daredevil: The Target. File that under, "I'll believe it when I see it".

We've talked a number of times about Archie Comics' Creative Director Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa abandoning the two books he was writing, Afterlife With Archie & Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, in order to focus on adapting the latter and developing Riverdale for television. He's now fronting a third TV series, his 2nd for CW, Katy Keene. Aguirre-Sacasa, however, refused to share his vision with any other writer, else those books would be back on the shelves right now. It's been over a year since the last issues of Afterlife & Chilling Adventures were released, but the Archie Horror line, now rechristened Archie Madhouse, is thriving without them.

That brings us to a once-dependable writer, Geoff Johns.

Johns, who gave up a front office job with DC some time back, is the writer of the Shazam! series and the Doomsday Clock limited series, which have seen interminable delays, and it's not because of the artists on those books (Dale Eaglesham & Gary Frank, respectively).

No, like Aguirre-Sacasa, Johns is busy with Warner Bros. Television & prolific producer Greg Berlanti on a pair of projects, specifically Stargirl, based on his own creation, introduced at DC 20 years ago, and ticketed for DC Universe for next year, and Titans, due to return to DCU later this year for season 2.

In reality, Doomsday Clock should've been finished, as far as Johns' script was concerned, months ago, well before production began on either TV project or DC soliciting the limited series. A fill-in writer could cover Johns on Shazam! to make up the time lost to this point, but Johns and/or DC editorial decided not to go in that direction. Big mistake. The delays with both books will almost certainly be addressed during the annual Comic-Con in San Diego, which started today, and will run through Sunday.

It used to be common practice for DC or Marvel to cover for a deadline delay with a fill-in issue or a reprint, but that hasn't been the case in several years. Not when today's books are designed to lead into one of the annual "events" that get hyped to the moon and are what the company's lines are built around. To protect those events, they opt to delay issues by a few weeks, rather than go the reprint route, to maintain continuity, at the risk of their bottom line. How long do you think WarnerMedia or Disney will tolerate things like that before changes have to be made?

Here's to hoping the cases of Johns and Aguirre-Sacasa are a cautionary tale to future creators. Stress hoping.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

It happened 50 years ago this week: Apollo 11 lands on the moon

Like a lot of you, I grew up watching network news coverage of the Apollo moon missions in the late 60's & early 70's. My parents would alternate between NBC, CBS, & ABC's coverage to get different viewpoints from the news anchors.

To be perfectly honest, I don't remember seeing the following as it happened in the summer of 1969. I was 6, after all. However, as we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 and the first men on the moon, let's revisit that historic day. The actual anniversary is this Saturday. Footage comes from NBC and one of their YouTube channels.



In recent times, there has been a bit of a buzzkill from some conspiracy theorists who claim the moon landings were faked. In 2002, Buzz Aldrin, one of the astronauts on the Apollo 11 mission, was confronted by conspiracy theorist Bart Sibrel, who insisted Aldrin swear on a Bible that he actually walked on the moon. Aldrin's response was to belt Sibrel in the face...

Unfortunately, Sibrel came away still believing the moon landings were faked and supported by, of all things, the CIA. However, insofar as I know, Sibrel has no evidence, nor do any of the other tin foil idiots, to prove his claims. Guys like him traded in their brains for used tater tots a long time ago.

Look, I watched some of the later missions on TV. This actually happened, despite the claims of Sibrel and his ilk. And you wonder why I have a problem with Birthers, Alex Jones, and other idiots of that stripe......

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

When MTV Meant Something: The Big Picture (1988)

As the 80's were drawing to a gradual close, MTV was expanding its programming catalogue to include a show about movies. No, they didn't repurpose the PBS series, Sneak Previews, but, rather, developed their own show in conjunction with Premiere, a then-emerging movie magazine that sought to do for movies what Rolling Stone was doing for pop culture in general.

The Big Picture premiered in 1988, airing as memory serves on weekends. Premiere senior editor Chris Connelly, now with ESPN, served as host. Sorry to say, there's no Wikipedia entry that tells us how long the show actually lasted. It was pretty much a half hour infomercial for Premiere, which probably contributed to its short shelf life on the air.

Following is a sample episode from the fall of 1988.



Rating: A.

Here there be Weasels

Being rich doesn't mean you can get away with anything. You only think you can.

Jeffrey Epstein should've been paying closer attention to the trial of Keith Rainere, who was convicted on sex trafficking charges a few weeks back. Now, Epstein is facing the same charges, 11 years after avoiding jail on similar charges in Florida.

Epstein's lawyers are trying to get him out of jail on bail, but prosecutors believe Epstein is a flight risk, since he has homes across the globe. No amount of bail money will allow him to go scot free. In the #MeToo era, if you've had a reputation as a pervert kept private, it'll go public. The only thing the money is good for now is to be donated to various charities dedicated to ending the exploitation and shaming of women of all ages.

If Epstein is that defiant, thinking he's above the law, maybe he should Google Rainere, Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, before going to trial.....

Enjoy the Weasel ears, pal.
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President Donald Trump built his campaign in 2015-16 on the persona he generated for NBC's The Apprentice. His faux tough guy act won over enough gullible voters, disenfranchised, disenchanted, disgruntled, disgusted with the status quo, such that any criticism is met with indifference from his voter base.

For a man who claims to be a born again Christian, he doesn't turn the other cheek to criticism, instead meeting it head on with all the arrogance of a schoolyard bully.

When you get right down to it, that's basically how Trump is dealing with four freshman Congresswomen, including New York's own Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The Ugly American President issued a series of Twantrums over the weekend, suggesting that the quartet would "go back to where they came from". The House of Representatives is considering a vote today to condemn Trump's latest bout with social immaturity.

Trump's problem is that in his warped mind, Ocasio-Cortez and the other members of her "Squad" don't fit his profile of Congress. He's making more enemies than friends in Washington, but he just doesn't care. The Republicans are mostly rolling over for him, afraid that the most thin skinned Chief Executive in history will turn on them if they do what they should be doing, making him see the truth.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn't want to entertain the idea of impeachment, which, in truth, would be counter-productive, as it would only add fuel to the fire for Trump and his brainwashed minions. No, the only solution is to condemn him publicly for attempting to race-shame Ocasio-Cortez and others in a bid to retain the votes from the disenfranchised that got him into the White House in the first place.

No, the shame is on Trump for continuing to make a mockery of the highest office in our country for his own amusement, spite, & profit. If I were VP Mike Pence, I'd drag Trump's bloviator butt to the nearest church. Not on Sunday, but ASAP.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Celebrity Rock: Main Attraction (2019)

There's a reason the cast of "Avengers: Endgame" did a cover of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire" on The Tonight Show prior to "Endgame"'s release three months ago.

We know Robert Downey, Jr. can sing. Ditto for Mark Ruffalo. And, then, there's Jeremy Renner.

Renner's recorded soundtrack music for some of his movies, including "The Assassination of Jesse James by The Coward Robert Ford", but never for any of the "Avengers" movies. In his spare time, Renner is a singer-songwriter, and also plays drums & keyboards.

A week ago, Renner released the single, "Main Attraction". This'll bring him back to New York and Tonight, if that hasn't happened already. Here's the video:

Sunday, July 14, 2019

A Line of Truth: To Tell The Truth meets What's My Line? (1966)

Well, ask & ye shall receive.

Earlier this week, I posted an episode of What's My Line? in which the panel of I've Got a Secret appeared on the show. I had stated I was hoping to find a similar circumstance where the panel of To Tell The Truth did the same thing.

Frequent correspondent Mike Doran filled in the blank, and, today, it's here. It's not quite Christmas in July, but this episode did air two weeks before Christmas in 1966, during season 2 of Hogan's Heroes, as its star, Bob Crane, is on the panel. Take note that Truth panelist Tom Poston seems to take his sweet time "signing in", as the rest of the crew (Kitty Carlisle, Peggy Cass, & Orson Bean) are waiting on him.



The crossover takes place in the first segment. Thanks, Mike, for pointing the way.

Friday, July 12, 2019

On The Shelf: Lessons in humility

Mark Russell & Richard Pace's Second Coming is finally here, and, yep, it's worth the wait.

Ahoy Comics, populated by some former DC talent, including "Tennessee" Tom Peyer and Stuart Moore, took a chance on a religious satire that already raised enough of a fuss such that Vertigo had to cut it before it could be released in February.

Recall that on South Park a number of years back, series creators Trey Parker & Matt Stone posited Jesus as a talk show host for a story arc. Russell, on the other hand, opts to have God send His son back to Earth for a lesson in humility, if you will, learning from a hero named Sunman, billed in early solicitations as the "Last Son of Crispex", a parody of a certain DC icon.

Turns out Sunman has a live-in girlfriend who is privy to his dual ID, and they welcome Jesus into their home. How long this lasts remains to be seen. I'd read that Ahoy will start with a four issue miniseries. Those of you with narrow minds won't accept the context of the story. I can appreciate satire if it's done right, and so far, Russell, one of the hottest writers around, is doing just that.

We'll hold on a rating until the conclusion.
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Marvel continues to serve up some choice "facsimile edition" reprints of classic tales, some of which haven't been reprinted in years.

One such case would be Incredible Hulk 181, circa 1974-5, which introduced the world to the ol' Canucklehead himself, Wolverine, who cuts into a pitched battle between Hulk and the Canadian monster, Wendigo. The downside is that while the emphasis is on Wolverine, it's still the continuation of a story from the previous issue. I get that Marvel is still milking Wolverine's popularity 45 years later, but this was better off not released as a 1-off "facsimile", but instead, issued as part of a trade paperback, if that hadn't happened already.

Rating: B+.

For what it's worth, the latest "facsimile" is of 1963's X-Men 1, which has been reprinted to death. DC joins the party next month, as previously reported.
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Mark Russell's Wonder Twins series has reached the halfway station, as the book has been expanded to 12 issues. Jayna learns a lesson in humility herself, as Russell has redefined her as being more shy & mousy than assertive. She loses a friend whose father has disappeared, and that should set the stage for the second half. When a fellow ex-letterhack like George Gustines, now with the New York Times, is touting this book, you know the Twins have finally gotten some serious respect.
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American Mythology, current licensee for Zorro, has released a new miniseries that is devoted to reprinting some old stories that haven't seen the light of day in years.

Zorro Masters covers some stories illustrated by the legendary Alex Toth for Dell's Four Color Comics back in the day. If you're jonesin' for done-in-one mysteries, these old school tales are for you.

Rating: A.
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Lois Lane stars in a 12 issue maxiseries by Greg Rucka that should set the stage for an ongoing book in 2020 or '21.

In Lois' old series back in the day, the stories were a little more light hearted, because back then, DC editorial didn't see the value of Lois as a serious investigative reporter. Not this time. Rucka and artist Mike Perkins will have the Question (both of them) joining Lois on this case, and of course, you know Superman won't be too far away. You want humor? Jimmy Olsen's new book will be out soon.

Rating: A.
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Speaking of The Question, Jeff Lemire is writing a new miniseries for DC's Black Label imprint, which will reunite artists Denys Cowan & Bill Sienkiewicz, who worked with Denny O'Neil on the book back in the late 80's. Debuts in October, along with another miniseries featuring The Joker.....There are some concerns not just about Doomsday Clock being interminably late, but Geoff Johns' other book, Shazam!, has also fallen behind schedule. Seems the prevalent theory is that Johns and DC editorial want to make sure both books retain the highest quality of storytelling. You have artists on the order of Gary Frank and Dale Eaglesham, who have never had deadline issues before the last year, so it falls upon Johns to make the time to get the books back on time. Otherwise, people will see Johns as another Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, and regular readers of this blog know how I feel about Archie Comics' creative director. I'll just play trade-waiter with Shazam!, thank you very much.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Musical Interlude: Head Over Heels (1985)

Tears For Fears' "Head Over Heels" will never be confused with the Go-Go's single of the same name, but the two songs did chart months apart.

Singer Roland Orzabal is courting a librarian. Drummer Manny Elias sports an Amish beard as a patron of the library. Curt Smith appears to be a custodian, and makes friends with a chimp in a Red Sox jersey. Oh, what fun.

Sports this 'n' that

The US Women's soccer team was honored with a ticker tape parade in New York on Wednesday. Two days prior, some numb-nutz decided to deface some posters of one of the team's biggest stars, Megan Rapinoe. Have to figure the vandal is in the tank for President Trump, whom Rapinoe has criticized in recent times.

A speculative poll was taken, placing Rapinoe just slightly ahead of Trump in the event she decided to primary the President next year. While that's not likely, and the pollsters who concocted this see Rapinoe as a flavor of the month, similar polls place some of next year's Democratic hopefuls ahead of Trump as well, suggesting that the novelty of this Ugly American President has worn off. Recent approval polls show 46 percent of those polled favor Trump.

If it hasn't been done already, the next time you'll see Rapinoe and her teammates is likely on Ellen DeGeneres' daily yap-fest.

Just the same, congratulations to Team USA.
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Aside from some poor judgment on the part of the scoreboard operators at Progressive Field, the Mets were well represented at the All-Star Game. You know, of course, that rookie phenom Peter Alonso won the Home Run Derby, clipping fellow rookie Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. (Toronto) in a final round for the ages. Guerrero, though, appeared to be out of gas by the finals after going to overtime to put away Dodgers star Joc Pederson.

On Tuesday, Mets utility ace and NL batting leader Jeff McNeil was unintentionally embarrassed by the scoreboard dweebs, who put Jacob deGrom's picture with McNeil's profile. Seems there were issues all through the three day festival.
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While he's a hero now in the ring, after starring in the last 4 "Marine" movies, Cleveland native Michael "The Miz" Mizanin, the lone WWE representative in the celebrity softball game on Sunday, acted like his old braggart self, and wound up a loser in front of his homies. Miz, last year's softball MVP, got hammered on the mound, then jetted to Newark the next day for Monday Night Raw, and was on the winning end of a 6-man tag match.

With WWE having consigned Jerry "The King" Lawler to a form of limbo, at least Miz gets to represent for his hometown, even though he now lives in Dallas with wife Maryse. You'll recall he also cut a video promo on Instagram after the Browns won their first game of 2018 vs. the Jets last fall.
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Back to the Mets. The New York Post showed their true colors in today's editions. The Mets' mid-season report card was brutal, to say the least, with mostly B's & C's and some D's for players. Manager Mickey Callaway and GM Brodie Van Wagenen, as well as off-season acquisitions Robinson Cano & Edwin Diaz, got the "what have you done for us lately" treatment from the tabloid, getting failing grades.

Alonso & McNeil, of course, were graded A+, but watch. Should they slack off the rest of the way, with 72 games remaining, the grade will be lowered. Beat writer Mike Puma should find another line of work, like selling sneakers........
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The Atlantic League, an independent baseball league, is experimenting with electronic umpires. Fans would love to see something like that in the bigs, as long as it hastens the retirement of veteran umpires such as Angel Hernandez and part-time country crooner Joe West, whom fans think aren't very good anymore, assuming they ever were. What commissioner Rob (Not so Mighty) Manfred should be doing, though, is evaluating the boys in blue on a more regular basis, and call some of the short-fuse types on the carpet well before the playoffs.

Hernandez, you might remember, had the stones to complain about racial discrimination in the last off-season, which some folks might think was a means of keeping his job.

Looking at all those compilation videos on YouTube of called strikes leading to player and/or manager ejections, the takeaway I get is that if the ball crosses the plate at the knees, even if it's outside the strike zone, the umpires will call it a strike anyway. On a checked swing, if the bat crosses the plate just enough above the ball as the latter passes through, it's going to be called. How these players and managers fail to realize this, I don't know.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

A not so Secret crossover (I've Got a Secret meets What's My Line?, 1958)

It wasn't so long ago that we looked at the monumental crossover between I've Got a Secret and To Tell The Truth. Well, in 1958, Secret's panel (Bill Cullen, Henry Morgan, Faye Emerson, Jayne Meadows) appeared on What's My Line?, before first Emerson, then Meadows, left Secret. Imogene Coca (Your Show of Shows) is also in this episode.



Now, I have to see if there was a crossover between Truth & Line to complete the circle.

Rating: A.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

A Modern Classic (?): Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1989)

2019 is the 30th anniversary of a cult classic that has found new life online.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 began life as a locally produced series based in Minnesota. The Comedy Channel, forerunner to today's Comedy Central, acquired the show, a campy comedy wrapped around a collection of B-movies, some of them obscure, and TV-movies from the 70's.

Today, MST3K is back on the air, with Netflix its current home. Original host Joel Hodgson led a crowd-funding campaign through Kickstarter to bring the series back after it'd been axed by the Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy) some years back. Hodgson's successor, Mike Nelson, is prominently featured in the following entry, which showcases the pilot for the failed Four-In-One entry, San Francisco International Airport, starring Lloyd Bridges.



I know when I reviewed San Francisco International Airport, I said I'd use other source material for MST3K, but, naaaaaaah.

Ratings: San Francisco International Airport: A. Mystery Science Theater 3000: B-.

What Might've Been: The Witness (1960)

In 1960, CBS tried something new. A live, hour-long series that was a blend of Biography and Perry Mason, but, instead of a lawyer, The Witness would testify before a committee seeking to verify what had been recorded in the press.

The Witness came from David Susskind's Talent Associates, and aired on Thursdays for much of its run. It's said that despite initial reviews praising the show, people tuned it out, leading to its cancellation after 17 episodes. Telly Savalas, in one of his earliest TV appearances, played "Lucky" Luciano. In this installment, Warren Stevens portrays John Dillinger.



CBS, I believe, owns the rights to the show,  but doesn't see a market for it on DVD. Maybe it'll turn up on, like, Decades, sometime down the road....

Rating: B-.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Remember when Admiral made televisions? (1977)

If memory serves me correctly, Admiral & Amana were both part of the same conglomerate. One made refrigerators, the other made televisions.

In this 1977 ad for Admiral, Louis Nye is dressed as a Navy Admiral......

Classic (?) TV: Blockbusters (1980)

Here's a different kind of puzzle game from Goodson-Todman.

Blockbusters bowed in late 1980 as one of two game shows added to NBC's lineup after the David Letterman daytime experiment failed. Dependable, genial Bill Cullen was the host for this show, which represented a departure for G-T in that Bob Cobert, who'd composed themes for Barry-Enright and Chuck Barris, composed the music.

You had a "family pair", usually a husband & wife or mother/father and son/daughter, vs. a solo player in a best of three series. This sample episode will explain everything.



When NBC brought the show back in 1987, five years after the first run ended, Bill Rafferty (ex-Real People) took over as host, as Cullen, I think, was busy elsewhere. Didn't quite last as long, maybe because they changed formats, and went to a one-on-one competition, retaining the best of three game format.

Rating: A-.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Forgotten TV: Overland Trail (1960)

Revue's Overland Trail was a winter replacement series that spent four months on the air (February-June 1960), and it could be argued that if Westerns weren't glutting the schedule, it could've stuck around.

Instead, it was a formulaic entry from Revue, built around William Bendix (ex-The Life of Riley) and Doug McClure (pre-Virginian), and a fictionalized version of the Overland stagecoach. Seen one, seen just about all.

In "All The O'Mara's Horses", a hastily built bridge provides some tension. Keep an eye open for Mary Tyler Moore, who shows up early on.



So why did it fail? Sundays, airing opposite Disney, Lassie, & Dennis The Menace. Enough said.

Rating: B.

Sports this 'n' that

Less than 48 hours after the sudden passing of Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher Tyler Skaggs, former NFL quarterback Jared Lorenzen, known as the "Hefty Lefty" in his college days at Kentucky, passed away as well. Lorenzen played for the NY Giants in 2007, but while he did get into a few games as a backup to Eli Manning, he retired after a stint in Indianapolis where he was a backup to Eli's telegenically challenged brother, Peyton.
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Kendrick Norton's NFL career is over before it really got started.

Drafted last year by Carolina, Norton spent the entire season on the Panthers' practice squad before signing with Miami in the offseason. Norton lost his arm in a auto accident, but other injuries sustained in the accident are not considered life threatening, per ESPN. Such a shame that Norton never made it to the field for coach Ron Rivera in Carolina, and moving to Miami promised a fresh start.
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Predictably, there are already changes afoot for next week's baseball All-Star Game.

Tampa Bay's Brandon Lowe had been added to the AL squad Wednesday, but that was before the Rays had any clue of the severity of an injury sustained when Lowe fouled a ball off his leg. Lowe was to replace Angels infielder Tommy La Stella, who broke his leg on a foul ball on Tuesday night. Yankees infielder Gleyber Torres was then selected to fill the vacancy on the roster. There was much complaint when the rosters were announced on Sunday, and Torres hadn't been picked by Boston/AL manager Alex Cora, not so much because of the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry, but Torres' overall numbers couldn't be ignored too much longer.
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On Sunday, the US Women's soccer team will play the Netherlands in the finals of the World Cup. Star midfielder Megan Rapinoe, however, won't accompany the team to Washington for the inevitable celebration with President Trump. Rapinoe is another outspoken athlete in opposition to Trump and his policies, but it might be better to keep such criticism of the President quiet, since that just adds fuel to his ego.

If President Donald John Archie Bunker Trump could focus on the job at hand, and not react like a child every time someone says something he doesn't like, he'd get more respect. Then again, more people would trust Rodney Dangerfield, if the comedian were still with us, than they would Trump.....
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With WWE's Smackdown moving to Fox in October after 9 seasons under the NBC-Universal-Comcast umbrella (SyFy/USA), the network that boasted attitude before there was the Attitude Era wants to pull out all the stops to ensure big ratings for the October 4 opener.

That includes inviting President Trump, a friend in long standing of WWE Chairman/CEO Vince McMahon, to appear at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, making his first appearance on WWE-TV in several years. Of course, having the Secret Service accompanying the President creates issues for fans attending the show, which is also expected to be jam-packed with celebrities in the audience, including former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who appeared on Smackdown during its run on UPN some 20 years ago. I'm not saying "Ahhh-nold" has already been invited, but it'd be inevitable if they do a 20th anniversary show.

Meanwhile, McMahon may have finally found the solution to his ratings problems, and at the same time, found a means to clear a path so he can focus on XFL 2.0, to launch in February.

Paul Heyman, already on board as Brock Lesnar's "advocate", was promoted to executive director for Monday Night Raw last week, and shared the "gorilla position" with McMahon on Monday in Dallas. The end result saw a spike in ratings, mostly from curious fans hoping Heyman, a renowned creative genius in ECW 25 years ago, could help turn the corner.

After the July 14 Extreme Rules show, Eric Bischoff will return to WWE as executive director of Smackdown. McMahon is counting on his old enemy's ties to Fox executives and sponsors---Bischoff has been producing mostly reality shows with his business partner, former actor Jason Hervey---to make a good first impression with Fox. Bischoff, however, is not expected to be on-camera talent this time, but then, he said the same thing 10 years ago when he signed with TNA-Impact Wrestling. Heyman, however, will appear periodically in his role as Lesnar's spokesman. The new deals with NBCUC and Fox could result in Lesnar's contract being restructured such that the former champion may be required to make more in ring appearances on free TV, something he's been loathe to do since returning to the company 7 years ago.

All we can say, then, is stay tuned.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

In Theatres: Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

"Spider-Man: Far From Home" is equal parts superhero movie and awkward teen comedy, much more so than "Homecoming" was a couple of years ago.

Set a few months after the events of "Avengers: Endgame", Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is back at school, and swooning over MJ (Zendaya). However, a new threat arises that prompts Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to call Spider-Man back to duty, whether he likes it or not.

And, then, there is Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), who presents himself as a survivor from another dimension's earth, and, to this point, is filling the hero void created by events in "Endgame". However, as any Spider-fan worth his salt will tell you, nothing is what it seems with Beck, who is repackaged here as a former Stark Industries employee with an axe to grind. Gee, there's a shocker. NOT! The disgruntled employee turned villain isn't so much a popular literary trope, but, in truth, very common in the real world, giving rise to the phrase, "going postal", over the last 20 years.

It's not a coincidence, of course, that, after the Amazing Spider-Man newspaper strip suspended original publication after the passing of Stan Lee several months back, the first reprinted story arc featured Mysterio.

There's some legitimately funny subplots, including Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) being courted by Tony Stark's former bodyguard, "Happy" Hogan (Jon Favreau), who's now Spider-Man's handler. Of course, Stark himself flirted with May not long ago......! New York cable personality J. B. Smoove turns up as one of Peter's teachers. Stunt casting, yo.

Hang around for the in-&-post-credit scenes, and some old friends drop by.

Here's the trailer.



I'm convinced that the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon (2012-18) served as at least a partial template for how Peter is presented in these films. It was there that the narrative was begun that Spidey would be working for SHIELD.

Rating: B-.

On The Shelf: An end of an era

The repackaging of DC Comics and its subsidiary brands continues.

DC, which acquired Mad Magazine several years back, leading to first the Fox series, MadTV, then Cartoon Network's 15 minute Mad animated series, rebooted the venerable satire magazine back to #1 last year, moving to a bi-monthly format that included an issue guest-edited by music satirist and long time fan of the magazine, "Weird" Al Yankovic. It was no longer cheap by any standard, as the cover price rocketed to $6 per issue, due to the usual suspects (rising paper costs, etc.).

But, come August, Mad will leave store shelves in places like Walmart, CVS, Rite Aid, etc., and while there were initial reports that DC would continue the book with reprints, and continue the traditional specials, August's issue 9 will, in fact, be the final original issue, after 68 years of publication.

I'd say now, mascot Alfred E. Neuman has reason to worry.
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A few years ago, Mark Russell had pitched a reboot of DC's short-lived 1970's political satire-drama, Prez, and was promised a 12 issue limited series. Russell only got halfway before DC pulled the plug, perhaps amid pressure from certain people in positions of authority outside of the industry. Russell, instead of using original protagonist Prez Rickard, created a completely new, female lead.

With Prez cancelled, Russell forged on, undaunted, becoming one of the hottest writers in comics. He's been entrusted with some familiar licensed properties, including Red Sonja, The Flintstones, & The Lone Ranger, to positive response.

Then came word last month that his revamp of the Wonder Twins was being expanded from 6 to 12 issues, along with Sam Humphries' reboot of Dial H For Hero, both of which will finish now in February 2020 (the twins will get a month's vacation in August). In a way, this is DC rewarding Russell for his perseverance. If that's the case, why not let him finish Prez?
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Russell's religious satire, Second Coming, finally arrives next week from Ahoy Comics. We'll have a full review in the next On The Shelf.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

YouTube Theatre: The Return of Charlie Chan, or, Happiness is a Warm Clue (1973)

Earl Derr Biggers' legendary sleuth, Charlie Chan, had returned to television in the fall of 1972 in the animated series, The Amazing Chan & The Chan Clan, for CBS. Keye Luke, who'd played #1 son Lee in several movies, voiced Charlie, but, around the same time, he was also appearing in two primetime shows, CBS' Anna & The King and ABC's Kung Fu, which premiered a month apart. In fact, Anna bowed about a week or two after Amazing Chan did.

This, then, would explain why Luke was not available to play Chan in a live-action film that followed a few months later.

"The Return of Charlie Chan", alternatively known as "Happiness is a Warm Clue", after a line spoken by Chan in the film, follows along with Amazing Chan in that Charlie speaks perfect, fluent English in much of the film. Ross Martin (Sealab 2020, ex-The Wild, Wild West) was instead cast as Chan, bringing back all the arguments against non-Chinese actors portraying Chan.

In "Return", Charlie is retired, living in Hawaii with his grown children and grandchildren, but is lured out of retirement to take the case of an assassination attempt on a Greek shipping tycoon (Leslie Nielsen).



Nielsen had made at least one guest appearance on The Wild, Wild West, and there is that chemistry between him and Martin in the course of the movie. However, if this was meant to be a pilor for another attempt at a primetime Chan series, it didn't click with viewers.

Rating: B-.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

A genie as a telephone operator? (1990's)

AT&T hired Barbara Eden to reprise her iconic role from I Dream of Jeannie for this cute little bit from the early 90's. Dick Cavett is the narrator.



Cute, isn't it?

Monday, July 1, 2019

Videos of Summer: Cherish (1989)

After all the controversy over the title song on Madonna's 1989 CD, "Like a Prayer" faded, she followed up with the bouncy "Cherish", the video of which, directed by photographer Herb Ritts, has her frolicking on the beach.....

Sports this 'n' that

The NBA started the free agent signing period a wee bit earlier than usual Sunday night, which turned out to be one of the best decisions of the year.

The biggest news came out of Brooklyn, where the Nets announced that they would add Kevin Durant, formerly of Golden State, Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan to their roster for 2019-20. Durant, in particular, will sign a 4 year deal averaging around $40 million per season. The Yes network, the Nets' cable home, will reap the benefits if the Nets get off to a quick start.

Durant is essentially being swapped for DeAngelo Russell, who reportedly is headed to Golden State.

All deals announced Sunday don't become official until July 6, per NBA rules.

As for the Knicks? The NY press believed they were the front-runners for Durant, but owner James Dolan and his brainless flunkies apparently weren't as prepared as had been thought. One more reason for fans to demand that Dolan sell the team.
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Major League Baseball hit a home run in England over the weekend with a 2 game series between the Yankees and Boston. The Bronx Bombers swept the series, and the two teams combined for a ridiculous 50 runs in the two games.

Saturday's opener was a high scoring affair that took more than four hours to complete, with the Yankees winning by a football-esque count of 17-13. Sunday's game ran almost as long, with the Bombers withstanding a late Red Sox rally to exit with a 12-8 verdict.

Next year, the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs will play in London. Conversely, per published reports, MLB is scuttling plans for an opening series in Japan in 2020. Go figure.
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The Mets & Yankees will each have three players in this year's MLB All-Star game, taking place July 9 in Cleveland.

Yankee closer Aroldis Chapman joins starters DJ LeMahieu and Gary Sanchez on the AL roster The Mets will be represented by reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, rookie sensation Pete Alonso, and second year utility ace Jeff McNeil, who's among the league leaders in batting entering this week.

Speaking of the Mets, they snapped a 7 game losing streak in salvaging the final game of a weekend set vs. Atlanta on Sunday, 8-5. That won't take the heat off Mickey Callaway, but beating the Yankees Tuesday & Wednesday could. Maybe.