Monday, September 30, 2019

Football this 'n' that

There are some hard feelings, more so than normal, between Buffalo & New England after the Patriots beat the Bills, 16-10, on Sunday. At issue is a late hit called against the Patriots' Jonathan Jones when he hit Buffalo QB Josh Allen, which knocked Allen from the game with a concussion. NFL Director of Officiating and Patriots apologist Al Riveron said that Jones, at least, turned his head to avoid a direct helmet-to-helmet hit on Allen, to explain why Jones wasn't ejected from the game.

However, as Buffalo's Micah Hyde points out, correctly, in fact, had he or one of his teammates delivered a similar hit on New England QB/uberdiva Tom Brady, that player would've been tossed. Yes, it's a double standard, thanks to the 6-time Super Bowl champs gaining favored nation status in the league office, despite all the drama over the last 12 years.

So what happens next? New England runs it up on Washington in their next game. That's what bullies do.
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More proof that oddsmakers don't always know what they're talking about comes in the form of Tampa Bay, a week removed from blowing a fourth quarter lead against the Giants, beating the Los Angeles Rams, 55-40. And the Bucs were at least a 10 point underdog. Defenses on both teams took the day off, as this game swelled to nearly four hours to play four quarters.

Like, people thought they were going to an NFL game, and a college game broke out?
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The Bills weren't the only team to fall from the ranks of the unbeaten.

Detroit lost to Kansas City, and Dallas fell to New Orleans, the latter a 12-10 snoozer on Sunday Night Football. Tonight's Monday Night Football matchup is an AFC North rivalry that could get ugly.

That's because Pittsburgh & Cincinnati are both still looking for their first wins on the season. Whodathunk the once mighty Steelers would be 0-3? Hasn't happened in Lord knows when.
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The Cowboys' loss, coupled with Philadelphia beating Green Bay on Thursday, creates the predictable three team race in the NFC East, as Dallas leads the Eagles & Giants by a single game, owning the tie-breaker, of course, on Big Blue, by virtue of winning their opener.

Washington? Fuhgeddaboutit. If in fact the Patriots treat the Trumpets like the Little Sisters of The Poor Northeast, Jay Gruden may be saying 'bye-'bye soon after, likely to be joined by brother Jon if Oakland doesn't string some wins together after beating Indianapolis.
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To the surprise of absolutely no one, the league invoked zero tolerance on Oakland's Vontaze Burfict, suspending the repeat offender for the rest of the season, and perhaps beyond, after a brutal hit on the Colts' Jack Doyle. A lifetime ago, the Raiders had Jack Tatum dishing out hits like that until they were outlawed, and Tatum was exiled from the league for paralyzing Darryl Stingley of the Patriots.

On Speak For Yourself, hosts Jason Whitlock and Marcellus Wiley, joined by panelists Tony Gonzalez, & LaVar Arrington, discuss whether or not Burfict could ever return after this, his 13th suspension....



Considering Fox is one of the XFL's broadcast partners in 2020, it shouldn't shock anyone that Whitlock would bring that league up. Sorry, Jason, but if history is any barometer, XFL 2.0 will be just like the original, a 1 year wonder.

Now, baseball's silly season begins

No need for tiebreakers this year. Major League Baseball's 2019 postseason begins tomorrow with a National League Wild Card game. The roads to the World Series run through the west, as the Los Angeles Dodgers & Houston Astros have the #1 seeds in their respective leagues. Time now to take a look at the field:

National League:

Wild Card round: Milwaukee @ Washington (Tuesday)

In hindsight, the Nationals looked like geniuses divesting themselves of Bryce Harper in the offseason. While Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies contemplate another late season collapse that knocked them from the playoffs, and likely, cost Gabe Kapler his job, Washington, which has never won a full playoff series, tries again for its first pennant since the former Expos moved to DC 14 years ago.

Milwaukee, on the other hand, is playing like a team possessed, even though they did lose their finale to Colorado. Ever since last year's MVP, Christian Yelich, went down for the season with a knee injury, the Brewers have lost just four games. They, too, have never won a World Series. Problem is, whomever wins this has to go to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers, and that won't be fun.

Pick: Milwaukee.

NLDS (starts Thursday):

St. Louis @ Atlanta: 

The Braves limp into the playoffs after getting swept by the Mets over the weekend. First baseman Freddie Freeman is dealing with bone spurs in his elbow, which he's been playing through, to his own detriment. St. Louis has not seen the postseason in a few years, and it's been 13 since they beat Detroit for their last title. However, they have some young, hungry players, including shortstop Paul DeJong and outfielder Marcell Ozuna, the latter of whom came over from Miami following the 2017 season.

In a different generation, the Cardinals beat Atlanta to reach the Series in 1982, back when there were two divisions in each league, but that's just something to be a talking point this time.

Pick: St. Louis in 5.


American League:

Wild Card round: Tampa Bay @ Oakland (Wednesday):


If you wonder what other factors prevented Boston from defending their title, their struggles with these two teams would be among them. In Oakland, it's not exactly the revival of Moneyball, but there is youth and collective hunger. Tampa Bay surprised everyone by getting this far.

Pick: Oakland.

ALDS (starts Friday):

Minnesota @ Yankees:

Traditionally, the Bronx Bombers have owned the Twins. However, these aren't the same Twins that were routinely getting beaten. Minnesota led the majors in homers with over 300, a new record. Offensively, it's a wash, so it comes down to pitching. The last thing the Twins want is to face Aroldis Chapman in the 9th. As a bonus, the Yankees could get Giancarlo Stanton back in time for this series, and they could use an extra bat. Then again, some of us could use tooth decay.


Pick: Yankees in 5.


We'll project the other divisional series later in the week. Of course, I could be wrong.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

On The Air: Evil (2019)

A forensic psychologist, tasked to prove a serial killer isn't using an insanity defense, joins forces with an accessor from the Catholic Church, and runs into more trouble than she could even imagine

Welcome, then, to Robert & Michelle King's world of Evil, a new CBS series that combines elements of The X-Files and, well, for lack of another possible resource, The DaVinci Code, since Dan Brown's novel began a series of books involving the Catholic Church.

The Kings, after The Good Wife and The Good Fight were both cancelled, changed things up for their new project. Katja Herbers (Westworld) and Mike Colter (ex-Luke Cage) are the leads. Michael Emerson (ex-Person of Interest, Arrow) is Dr. Townsend, an agent provocateur, if you will, obsessed with influencing people to do dirty deeds, and is the primary antagonist.

Scope out the trailer, courtesy of a TV Guide YouTube channel:



Evil will have some rough sledding, ratings-wise, over the first half of the season, with the competition including football, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and How to Get Away With Murder, which is in its final season. It should, however, be allowed to stand on its own merits.

Rating: B-.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

YouTube Theatre: The Wasp Woman (1959)

We're getting a head start on the creepy stuff with Halloween a month away. Rather than wait until October 1, we'll kick things off with the original "Wasp Woman", produced & directed by Roger Corman.

Most of you probably know the story, given how frequently this aired on cable back in the day. A cosmetics magnate (Susan Cabot), concerned about both her business and her personal image, strikes a deal with a disgraced scientist, unaware of the consequences. Anthony Eisley (Hawaiian Eye), billed under his real name, Fred Eisley, co-stars.



More than 35 years later, Corman remade "Wasp Woman" as a more risque made-for-cable feature for Showtime, taking advantage of the upgrades in technology.

Rating: B.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Musical Interlude: Take me in Your Arms (Rock Me) (1975)

The Doobie Brothers' 1st single off 1975's "Stampede" was a cover of Kim Weston's 1964 hit, "Take me in Your Arms (Rock Me)".

This clip is more of a stripped down version, without the backing chorus at the end of the song or any post-production tweaking. Tom Johnston had wanted to do this cover for some time, and sings lead, with Patrick Simmons, Tiran Porter, & Jeff "Skunk" Baxter on backing vocals.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Baseball this 'n' that

So the Mets were eliminated from post-season consideration Wednesday night before the final out was recorded in their bludgeoning of Miami, 10-3. Milwaukee defeated Cincinnati, 9-2, and that score went final minutes before the Mets-Marlins game ended.

The two National League Wild Cards are now official, with Milwaukee & Washington jockeying for home field advantage for the 1-&-done round. However, Milwaukee, on a six game winning streak, is also in the hunt for the NL Central title, trailing St. Louis by a game and a half entering play today. The divisional race could very well come down to the last out on Sunday, and by then, the field should be finalized.

The NL Central is the only division left to be decided, as all three divisions in the American League have been settled, with Minnesota claiming the AL Central last night. In contrast to the NL, the AL Wild Card remains a three team race, with Oakland, Tampa Bay, & Cleveland separated by a game and a half with four days remaining in the regular season. The Yankees & Houston are battling for home field advantage, as are Atlanta & the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL.

It's safe to say there won't be a lack of drama over these last four days.
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Back to the Mets. They're beating the drums for reigning Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom to possibly repeat, though he's a couple of percentage points behind Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Dodgers, who will make his last regular season start Saturday vs. San Francisco. Although deGrom won just 11 games, one more than last year, the Mets' fan base is convinced he could repeat. Come Sunday, we'll know for sure.

What is certain, however, is that Pete Alonso has locked up the NL Rookie of The Year trophy. The slugging first baseman hit his 51st homer Wednesday to pretty much ice the game vs. Miami, and has four games remaining to tie the Yankees' Aaron Judge, who hit 52 two years ago, for the single season HR record by a rookie.

Utility ace Jeff McNeil, long since lapped for the lead in the NL batting race, saw his season end with a hit-by-pitch Wednesday, suffering a fractured hand in the process. McNeil entered the game 4th in the NL in batting, and joins the current leader, Milwaukee's Christian Yelich, on the injured list. Coincidentally, Yelich's season also ended with a HBP against the Marlins, his former club. All Milwaukee has done is go 17-2 in his absence.

Which begs us to ask this of Miami pitchers, who've also targeted Atlanta's Ronald Acuna, Jr. at various times last year and this year:

Jealous much?

The Marlins unloaded Yelich in an off-season fire sale after the 2017 season. All he did was win NL MVP last year after having what was thought then to be a career year. Imagine what happens when the Marlins & Brewers meet in 2020.....
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After the Cubs' Kris Bryant was injured on a slide last weekend, his pet leech, Scott Boras, got on his soapbox and starting whining about the need for safer bases.

Cry me a river, why don't ya? If you were really that concerned about your clients, Boras, all along, then maybe you should've steered Alex Rodriguez away from the PED's and saved his career. He's not exactly the second coming of Tony Kubek in the ESPN booth on Sundays, and, yes, there's been the occasional sighting of A-Rod's current steady, singer-actress Jennifer Lopez, but Rodriguez has made out pretty well since retiring from the Yankees.

Back to Boras. Two years ago, Bryce Harper, then with Washington, suffered a similar injury, and Boras started whining about safer bases then. He complains now that MLB hasn't done anything, and based on what I've read, they can't, because the technology isn't there to create bases that have safeguards against injuries.

The easy solution, of course, is to condition players to stop sliding head-first into bases and home plate. Sliding in feet-first doesn't lessen the risk of injury. though. Substitute foot injuries for hand injuries, and you're still going to get some complaints from leeches like Boras.

It's just a part of the game.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Matching house guests doesn't count (Match Game, 1978)

The Carol Burnett Show was nearing the end of its run in the early part of 1978. This must've been in February for a sweeps stunt, because Carol, accompanied by Tim Conway, Vicki Lawrence, & Jim Nabors, paid a visit to Match Game, and sat in for part of round 2 of a game.

Now, we all know Carol & Vicki were frequent guests on Password and its later incarnations, and Vicki would be a recurring panelist during NBC's 1990-1 run of To Tell The Truth. They show up around the 10-11 minute mark on this tape:



All but Tim managed to match, even though it didn't count in the scoring. This was just for kicks.

Carol ended her show in March 1978, and reruns, in half-hour increments under the syndicated title, Carol Burnett & Friends, air weeknights on Me-TV (check listings).

Celebrity Rock: You Gotta Have Heart (1969)

50 years ago, the Mets won their first World Series, beating Baltimore in five games.

An immediate reward following the victory parade down New York's Canyon of Heroes was an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, and performing "You Gotta Have Heart", which is better known from the Broadway musical and movie, "Damn Yankees". How ironic is that?



Sullivan was still writing a column for the NY Daily News while doing his variety show, so I wonder if he plugged the appearance in his column......

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

When an icon fights back (The Lone Ranger on Real People, 1980)

In 1979, marking the 30th anniversary of The Lone Ranger's television debut, producer Jack Wrather was beginning the process of making the first movie to feature the Ranger in more than 20 years. However, fearing that the original TV Ranger, Clayton Moore, would undercut the pending movie with his continuing personal appearances as the Ranger (the series was in syndication at the time, airing on WPIX in New York, for example), and filed suit against Moore.

Moore counter-sued, and the fight would rage on. Moore was profiled a year later on Real People in a segment narrated by John Barbour. As the segment ends, Moore joins Barbour, Skip Stephenson, Byron Allen, and Sarah Purcell on stage.



Luckily, the story has a happy ending. Two months before his passing in the summer of 1984, Wrather dropped the suit. 1981's "Legend of The Lone Ranger" was a monumental flop, though the 2013 version with Armie Hammer & Johnny Depp was much worse. Wrather felt he could still make some money off the Ranger franchise, as if the residuals off the reruns weren't enough. The lawsuit seemed to reek of pettiness on the part of Wrather, ignorant of the increase in popularity of the TV series.

Clayton Moore left us in 1999. There have been two films since then, including the Hammer/Depp flop, the other being an ill-advised TV movie for the WB network. There are the periodic comics from Dynamite Entertainment. Nothing, though, will match the work Moore put in, forging the legend of the Masked Rider of The Plains.

Monday, September 23, 2019

On The Air: All Rise (2019)

Yankee fans, this ain't for you.

All Rise, a brand new courtroom drama on CBS, has nothing to do with Yankee star Aaron Judge, although his very name lent itself to the well known courtroom command to become part of the baseball lexicon, at least in New York, two years ago.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, it's time to focus on this show, which is not your normal courtroom drama.

The focus is on newly minted judge Lola Carmichael (Simone Missick, ex-Luke Cage), a former deputy district attorney who now moves to the bench in a prominent Los Angeles court. First up, as shown in the following trailer, is the case of a pregnant woman accused of burglary. In the meantime, DDA Mark Callan (Wilson Bethel, fresh from Daredevil) is matched with a defendant acting as his own defense attorney.

All Rise also stars Jessica Camacho (ex-The Flash) as a defense attorney.



One week, and I'm hooked.

Rating: A.

What Might've Been: The Headmaster (1970)

After a couple of years away, Andy Griffith returned to CBS in 1970 in the high school comedy-drama, The Headmaster, which aspired to be CBS' answer to ABC's Room 222, which was entering its 3rd season. Unfortunately, Headmaster went head-up against another freshman comedy, The Partridge Family, and NBC's 3rd year anthology drama, The Name of The Game, during its first half hour.

As you know, the show was cancelled, and Griffith returned in the winter with The New Andy Griffith Show, which also failed. But what hurt Headmaster? Hard to say, since I never saw the show. It did have bad luck charm Jerry Van Dyke, three years removed from Accidental Family, as a luckless football coach. Nearly 20 years later, Van Dyke, of course, would play an assistant football coach on ABC's Coach, but that isn't either here or there presently.

The following comes from CBS' fall preview for 1970. 



No rating.

Edit, 8/8/21: Gilmore Box has uncovered the intro. The title song, "Just a Man", is sung by Linda Ronstadt:

NFL this 'n' that

For one day, at least, the Giants look like geniuses for consigning aging, fading Eli Manning to the bench. Rookie QB Daniel Jones, out of Duke, ran for 2 touchdowns, including the game winner, and threw for 2 more, as Big Blue sweated out a late field goal try by Tampa Bay rookie Matt Gay, escaping with a 32-31 win on the road.

Gay, who'd missed two extra points earlier, said he was confident he could redeem himself. Instead, he came off like Ben Gay, as he shanked another kick, with time running out.

The Giants (1-2) will play the Washington Trumpets next Sunday. Tonight, Washington plays Chicago on Monday Night Football.
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Yes, the Jests are 0-3 after losing to New England, 30-14, but the story here is another example of the defending champions' lack of faith in back-up quarterbacks.

4th quarter, 6 1/2 minutes remaining. Tom Brady takes a seat on the bench, game well in hand, or so he and everyone else thought. Then, Jarrett Stidham, a rookie from Auburn, throws a pick-6 to Jamal Adams, and, suddenly, Brady decides to re-enter the game on the ensuing Patriot possession. That New England didn't score again says the Jets' defense had the momentum, or the Pats were content to run out the clock.

But how is a rookie like Stidham going to learn anything just carrying a clipboard if Brady continues to hog playing time, even when the game is decided? As noted above, the Giants took a chance and started Daniel Jones, and it worked. He'll face the Evil Empire in 10 days, but if the Patriots think the Giants are an easy out, they'd better think again, and concentrate on finishing their first cycle of division games against Buffalo, which shares first place at 3-0.
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Both the Giants and Patriots suffered significant injuries on Sunday.

New England WR/KR Julian Edelman left with a rib injury, and was held out for the rest of the game as a precaution. Patriot Nation is hoping he'll be ready for Buffalo.

The Giants, though, just learned that 2nd year RB Saquon Barkley will miss up to 2 months with a high ankle sprain. Kinda makes the decision to part with Paul Perkins (now with Detroit) a bad idea.

But, then.......you can't predict injuries.
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By now, you've seen KC QB Patrick Mahomes joining Green Bay counterpart Aaron Rodgers in shilling for State Farm. David Haydn-Jones (Supernatural) plays Rodgers' fictional agent, Gabe Gabriel, in these spots.

But if you think that's bad, the ad agency hired by Procter & Gamble to do an elaborate, multi-part spot for Tide at the Super Bowl, decided to try a two-part bit that has been making the rounds, with Peyton Manning appearing in the first half. As if we need more of him.....

I'm begging Disney to cast Manning as a live-action, human version of Goofy. Just sayin'.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Weasel of The Week: Antonio Brown

Earlier today, Antonio Brown, who has burned bridges with three teams now in record time, sent off a series of tweets, claiming he's done with the NFL, although agent-enabler Drew Rosenhaus is trying to find another team (read: patsy) for his client, when the only place the second generation star should be right now is in rehab.

As reported yesterday, the New England Patriots cut Brown on Friday, three days before he was to receive $9 million in guaranteed money after additional allegations came to light courtesy of Sports Illustrated, that Brown had been accused by a second woman of sexual misconduct. Brown allegedly, in a group text, had threatened or intimidated the accuser.

As we noted, had Patriots owner Robert Kraft, cleared of some not exactly similar charges involving a Florida massage parlor earlier this year, known what was going on, he would not have signed off on signing Brown two weeks ago. Brown targeted Kraft in one of his tweets, alleging that maybe, just maybe, Kraft used his money and influence to get the charges dropped against him.

Brown, unfortunately, is a man on a path toward self-destruction. As we've noted, his father, "Touchdown" Eddie Brown, became a local icon in the 90's, playing arena football for the Albany Firebirds, culminating in an ArenaBowl title 20 years ago. Eddie was a solid citizen, and we all thought it was the same with Antonio.

Nope.

After Brown was cut on Friday, there was a roundtable discussion on several cable talk shows, including FS1's Speak For Yourself, which now has Marcellus Wiley as one of its hosts, replacing Colin Cowherd:



Today, on Fox NFL Sunday, former coach Jimmy Johnson spoke for much of the NFL's fan base when he suggested that no one should sign Brown until the NFL completes its investigation, because any team that does (stupidly) runs the risk of wasting money if Brown is placed on the commissioner's exempt list.

Do yourself a favor, Antonio, for the sake of your father, and all of your fans, as well as your dad's fans here in the 518. GET OFF THE BONG! Stop being the NFL's answer to Kanye West. Save yourself, and clean it up ASAP.

Until then, enjoy the Weasel ears.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Musical Interlude: Dance Away (1979)

England's Roxy Music returned after a four year absence in 1979 with the album, "Manifesto". "Dance Away" was the 2nd single off the album, reaching the top 3 on the UK charts. Still gets a bit of airplay here, too, 40 years later. This clip comes from Top of The Pops:

Sports this 'n' that

Call it buyers' remorse, NFL style.

The New England Patriots, after just one game, cut Antonio Brown on Friday, after more sexual misconduct allegations had been made public, plus reports that Brown allegedly bullied this latest accuser. Yahoo! is reporting that had Patriots owner Robert Kraft known about how much of a pervert Brown is off the field, he'd never have green-lit the signing of the second generation receiver two weeks ago.

Watch the value of Brown's football cards plunge into the abyss very quickly.
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Half the divisions in major league baseball have been clinched with 9 days left, counting today, in the regular season. Atlanta became the second National League team to clinch on Friday, winning their 2nd straight divisional crown. The Braves join the Yankees and the Dodgers in punching their tickets to the postseason, which begins in less than two weeks. The NL Central is still up for grabs, and will come down to the wire, along with at least one wild card berth, with three teams--St. Louis, Milwaukee, & Chicago---vying for one, possibly two spots.

Houston figures to clinch the AL West this weekend, and then, the AL Central figures to be settled soon after.

At least one wild card will go to the NL East, as Washington has the first wild card, but it's not clinched, and the Mets are within striking distance after beating Cincinnati, 8-1, on Friday. The Orange & Blue Crew will have two more in Cincinnati before returning home to play Miami & Atlanta next week. Bear in mind the Braves still have something to play for, and that's the top seed in the NL playoffs. If that's secured before next Friday, then they could rest their regulars for the final series vs. the Mets.
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Speaking of the Mets, Pete Alonso may have wrapped up Rookie of The Year honors by smashing his 50th home run at Cincinnati, becoming the second rookie in baseball history (Aaron Judge, 2017, being the other) to hit 50 homers in his rookie campaign. He's already obliterated Cody Bellinger's NL mark for rookies, and owns the Mets' team records for single-season homers.

Putting Alonso on the major league roster back in March turned out to be one of the smartest moves 1st year GM Brodie Van Wagenen ever made, but if I were Van Wagenen, I wouldn't even think about moving any of the core players, including pitcher Noah Syndergaard, who's having issues over his choice of catchers, inflamed by tabloid media scrutiny.
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Even though Smackdown doesn't officially move to Fox for another 13 days, the network is making sure viewers know about it in as many ways as possible.

One of those ways had Braun Strowman (real name: Adam Scherr) appearing in the Fox booth during a game on Thursday night, which led to some chirping from ESPN's Keith Olbermann, which, in turn, led to Olbermann getting roasted on social media by some of Strowman's WWE mates. Yo, Keith. It's 2019. Get over yourself.


Friday, September 20, 2019

Remember the Red Barn? (1973)

I mentioned not long ago that Popeye's Louisiana Chicken occupies a space in the hometown previously held by the now-defunct Red Barn restaurant chain.

I can say I've dined at Red Barn as a youth, at least once. Here's a sample ad campaign from the 70's.



You couldn't get those kind of deals today.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Musical Interlude: Really Saying Something (1982)

After the smash duet, "It Ain't What You Do, It's The Way That You Do It", Fun Boy Three joined forces with Bananarama again, this time on the latter's debut album, "Deep Sea Skiving", for the single, "Really Saying Something", which in turn was a remake of a track by a lesser known Motown group, the Velvelettes, 10 years earlier.



Unfortunately, "Something" failed to crack the top 40, but did land on the dance charts here in the US.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Origin of a Classic: A Day in The Life of Wilbur Pope (1958)

George Burns' loss was Filmways' gain.

Burns, you see, had produced an early pilot for what would become Mister Ed, but his 1958 pilot, A Day in The Life of Wilbur Pope, with Scott McKay in the title role, didn't sell. Allan "Rocky" Lane voiced Ed here, too. Scope.

Edit, 12/11/2020: The video has been deleted. In its place is a screencap of Mister Ed:


Filmways co-produced the pilot, then made a few tweaks, including changing the human lead to Wilbur Post (played by Alan Young), and the rest is history.

No rating.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A little bit of this and a little bit of that

Most Presidents, after they've left office, will write a memoir, knowing it'll be almost instantly a best seller, and so former President Barack Obama is no different.

But, between the predictable book deal and a pending Netflix project that he & wife Michelle will produce, Obama has again incurred the jealous wrath of his successor, a best selling author himself, Donald Trump.

With news that some in the Democratic party want an investigation into whether or not Trump has used his office for personal gain, Trump wants the Obamas investigated.

Like I said, jealous.

Some 35 or so years ago, Trump wrote The Art of The Deal, which cemented his celebrity status. Speaking not from that experience, but from the persona he developed for The Apprentice, the same persona that his dittoheaded followers think is the real thing, Trump, three years after being elected, still wants his predecessor discredited. His followers are mostly disenfranchised, disgruntled folks who weren't digging when Obama was elected 11 years ago.

For someone who claims to be a Christian, Trump has forgotten one important thing.

Turning the other cheek to criticism.

Not only that, but if you buy into the mainstream media's relentless presentation of Trump as a crackpot at 73, unfit for office, etc., then you would think he's also a bit of a hypocrite.

Trump refers to legitimate news outlets such as CNN, NBC, and the Washington Post as "fake news" because they're not rolling over and genuflecting before him, or so it'd seem. The only fake news I see on the newsstands are the now badly overpriced supermarket tabloids operated by Trump's buddy, David Pecker & American Media. Those weeklies now belong in the fiction section of the bookshelf section at Target.

Let me recommend the first place Trump should go after he ends his run. To Tell The Truth.
===================================
Hours before Dancing With The Stars began a new season yesterday, word got out that model Christie Brinkley, at 65 one of the oldest entrants, was withdrawing due to an arm injury, and having her daughter, Sailor, take her place.

Talk show host Wendy Williams is crying foul, claiming Billy Joel's former "Uptown Girl" is faking the injury so she could open a path for her daughter, who's also a model.

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer can rest easy. He's not the only one taking heat.

Stay tuned.
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To use the title of an old Cranberries CD, the suits at NBC-Universal-Comcast, seeing as how ABC (through Disney) and CBS have their own streaming services, figutred, "everybody's doing it, so why shouldn't we?"

And so, NBCUC will launch Peacock next year. Not too original a name, I know, but whatever.

The content includes not only familiar reruns of series owned by the network, but also there are plans to reboot a couple of old favorites, namely Battlestar Galactica (which ended its first reboot run 10 years ago), Saved by The Bell & Punky Brewster, for a new generation. In the case of the former, Mario Lopez (most recently on Extra) and Elizabeth Berkley have already signed on.

Like, if they can find tapes of old football & baseball games from the 60's, 70's, & 80's, I might actually be interested.
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Before Saturday Night Live begins its 45th season, one of the series' three new cast members is now out of a job.

Shane Gillis was let go just days before the premiere after a year old podcast of his, in which he made some homophobic & racist remarks, surfaced on Twitter, thanks to a freelance journalist, Seth Simons.

Yes, it's the James Gunn case from last year all over again. Some busybody with nothing better to do other than a hidden agenda, spoils someone else's success.

My take? If Gillis had been upfront about his past when auditioning and/or being in the interview portion of the process, maybe things are different. However, when someone like Simons comes along and throws cold water on the guy's big break, then there are issues.

We're human. We all make mistakes, and most of us learn from them. Shane Gillis will move on with his life. Seth Simons will have his 15 minutes, and then he'll move on.
=======================================
In Arkansas, the cheerleaders at Lake Hamilton High held up a banner using President Trump's pet slogan, "Make America Great Again", while encouraging their team to "trump" the Leopards of Malvern High.

While the choice of words has sparked a divisive discourse (naturally), it proved to be prophetic. Lake Hamilton won, 63-34.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Videos of Summer: Eternal Flame (1988-9)

The Bangles hit #1 on the Hot 100 with the title song from 1988's "Eternal Flame". The song was co-written by singer Susanna Hoffs.

Sports this 'n' that

So the Mets dropped two of three to the NL East champion Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend. Like the Mets, the Dodgers had something to play for, and that is the #1 overall seed in the NL playoffs, which begin in two weeks.

So, of course, the headlines declared that the Mets' chances of reaching those playoffs are "dwindling". They open a 6 game road swing tonight in Denver against the Colorado Rockies. Online, fans are salivating over NL HR leader Pete Alonso possibly taking advantage of the thin air at Coors Field. We'll see.
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It's just the second week of the season, but some key players are already falling like dominoes in the NFL.

The Jets play at home tonight against Cleveland without QB Sam Darnold, out with a bout of mononucleosis. Former Denver QB Trevor Siemian will be under center, and will have a former teammate to throw to in Demaryius Thomas, who was acquired from New England last week. The game marks Odell Beckham Jr.' return to the Meadowlands since the Giants dealt him away for Gibrill Peppers in the offseason. Unfortunately for the Jets, even if they win, they have to go to New England next.
===============================
In Pittsburgh, QB Ben Roethlisberger's 16th season is already over after 2 weeks due to a non-contact elbow injury in a loss to Seattle. Mason Rudolph takes over. There's every reason to believe Big Ben may just get Wally Pipp'd by Rudolph.

And if you don't know what I mean, go back and read your baseball history books.
================================
Here's another reason why the New England Patriots are the NFL's Evil Empire.

I've often joked about coach Bill Belichick acting like he'd rather work for the CIA. Truth is, he wishes he was a college coach. The defending champs ran it up against Miami on Sunday, to the tune of 43-0. Yes, they want to play a full 60 minutes, but Belichick doesn't believe in preserving the long term health of his star players. Just ask Rob Gronkowski. Gronk was lost for the season in a blowout win over Indianapolis in 2012, still in the game at a point when the game was long decided because Belichick wanted to rub it in the way certain college teams do.

Fast forward to today, and the game's biggest diva, Tom Brady, who was still chucking late in the game against Miami even though the defense was pitching a shutout. Common sense tells us to pull the starters when the game is well in hand. They do it all the time in baseball, as the Mets demonstrated in two blowout wins over Arizona last week. They do it in high school football. Case in point being Troy High pulling some of their starters in the 3rd quarter against Amsterdam with the game already decided on Friday.

Brady wants to pad his stats to justify people claiming he's the greatest of all time, which he really isn't. Funny how a 6th round pick out of Michigan is one of the league's biggest bullies on the field today. He's forgotten how he missed most of 2008 after getting injured in the first quarter of week 1. New England didn't reach the Super Bowl that year, but it seems like they think they're the only AFC team that belongs there.

As another example of Patriot arrogance, rather than hold off on activating Antonio Brown, the Pats decided to let him play in front of his hometown fans in Miami. Yes, they're waiting for everything to sort itself out as it relates to allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse. And, yep, there's another case that has cropped up as of today.

Maybe it doesn't pay to play the Raiders for fools.
================================
The Giants are 0-2 after losing to Buffalo yesterday. Coach Pat Shurmur is openly questioning whether or not Eli Manning should still be the starting QB.

Here's the problem. Most of the Giants' receivers are out due to injuries (Sterling Shepherd) or suspension (Golden Tate). Reigning Offensive Rookie of The Year Saquon Barkley isn't getting enough touches. The defense is also inept and suspect. It's not going to get any better.
================================
New Orleans will have to turn to Teddy Bridgewater, who was a Jet for 15 minutes last year, at QB after Drew Brees broke his hand in a loss to the Rams. Why Minnesota gave up on Bridgewater, who's also been a backup in Baltimore, I'll never know.

What Might've Been: The Corner Bar (1972)

Comedian Alan King was one of the greats of our time. As a television producer? Different story.

In 1972, King sold The Corner Bar to ABC as a summer replacement series, and as a starring vehicle for former Dead End Kid Gabe Dell, who'd been on the guest star circuit for a number of years, while still making movies.

The network liked the returns on the series, but had no room to put it on the fall schedule, so Corner Bar returned in June 1973 for a 6 week run. Dell was gone, replaced by Eugene Roche. Anne Meara, in one of her first appearances without husband Jerry Stiller, was added to the cast as a waitress. She'd later land a similar gig on Archie Bunker's Place.

Gilmore Box serves up a sample intro from season 1, featuring Bill Fiore, whom you might know as Chuck McCann's foil from those "Hi, Guy!" ads for Right Guard.



Too bad this isn't on DVD. I barely remember seeing this show, so there's no rating.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Musical Interlude: Emotion in Motion (1986)

Cars frontman Ric Ocasek delved into the world of fantasy with 1986's "Emotion in Motion", off "This Side of Paradise", his first solo record in four years.



In memory of Ocasek, 75, who passed away today in New York.

What Might've Been: Needles & Pins (1973)

NBC thought they had a winner with Needles & Pins in 1973. What could go wrong with a domestic comedy set in New York's Fashion District?

Plenty, apparently, mostly a lack of ratings. Coupled with Screen Gems stablemate The Girl With Something Extra, Needles was slotted opposite ABC's Room 222 at the start of the season. It was supposed to be a star vehicle for newcomer Dierdre Lenihan, who'd later turn up on The Waltons in a recurring role. With a veteran supporting cast including Bernie Kopell (ex-Get Smart, That Girl, The Doris Day Show), Louis Nye (ex-The Steve Allen Show), Milt Seltzer, and Norman Fell, whose last series gig prior to this had been in a crime drama, Dan August, Lenihan had plenty of mentors to work with. Executive Producer David Gerber came over from 20th Century Fox, and I think this was one of his last sitcoms at that time, as he was moving toward drama himself (Police Story).

Gilmore Box provides the intro, which shows that the show was meant all along to be built around Lenihan, though she's not top-billed.



No rating. The parents preferred either the CBS movies or Room 222.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Community Movie Night: Rookie of The Year (1993)

The Tri-City Valleycats and Hudson Valley Community College hosted Community Movie Night, sponsored by Rensselaer County, tonight, the second consecutive year this event has taken place.

Tonight's feature was "Rookie of The Year", a 1993 baseball comedy about a Little Leaguer who, after a freak accident, gets a whirlwind tour of the big leagues.

Every kid dreams of playing for his favorite sports team. For 12 year old Henry (Thomas Ian Nicholas), that dream would be to play for his hometown Chicago Cubs. A freak accident in a pickup game leaves him with a broken arm, which, when it heals, turns him into a fireballing pitcher who breaks 100 mph on the radar gun.

For the Cubs owner (Eddie Bracken), it's a one in a million miracle. The general manager (Dan Hedaya, ex-The Tortellis), after seeing Henry's early success, decides to exploit the boy. So does Henry's prospective stepfather, who now doubles as Henry's manager-agent. But, Henry's success is initially at the expense of a veteran pitcher he idolized (Gary Busey), who eventually wins the heart of Henry's mother.

Here's the trailer:



Yes, that's John Candy, uncredited, doing the play-by-play. Daniel Stern (The Wonder Years, "Home Alone") directed, and also has a comedy relief supporting role.

While the Valleycats have promoted the event on their website, there hasn't been much press support, and it's been nearly 2 weeks since the season ended. Most of the families camped out in left field to watch the movie, some bringing blankets or lawn chairs. Same thing happened 14 months ago when they screened "The Sandlot", another 20th Century Fox movie from the same period.

"Rookie of The Year" gets a B.

On The Shelf: Has Brian Bendis lost his mind?

Remember "Manny being Manny", when Manny Ramirez was playing baseball for Cleveland, Boston, Tampa Bay, et al? In comics, it's "Bendis being Bendis".

Brian Michael Bendis, that is.

While Bendis has rightfully gotten the huzzahs from fans not only for bringing back the Legion of Superheroes & Young Justice and creating Naomi for DC over the last year, his latest idea will divide the fan base for sure.

Solicitations for December, released online on Friday, suggest that Superman will, after 80 years, publicly reveal himself to the world, effectively removing Clark Kent from the playing field.

Is nothing in comics sacred anymore?

In recent times at Marvel, Spider-Man and Daredevil both went public, the latter on Bendis' watch, but in both cases, the genie got back in the bottle with a retcon. That Bendis would try it with Superman shouldn't surprise anyone, if but because there's no shock value in comics anymore. Something tells me this is equal parts Bendis looking for shock value, and DC suffering a drop in sales on Superman & Action Comics on Bendis' watch over the past year.

It all goes down just in time for Christmas. Now, if only I could find a book of Santayana to send to Bendis....
=======================================
If you've ever wondered why writer-artist Rob Liefeld has engendered such polarizing attention from fans since the early 90's, this Levi's ad, with Spike Lee off-camera interviewing Liefeld, should answer some questions:



Liefeld was only 23 when the commercial was made. Dude should've gone to art school, anyway.
=================================
DC's current Deathstroke series ends in December with issue 50, as Suicide Squad is relaunched yet again. The "#1 mentality" in the business  has gotten past jumping the shark. Just sayin'.
===================================
An early sketch intended for January's Young Justice issue 12 shows the team is growing even bigger, with the addition of the aforementioned Naomi, who joins the team in issue 10, out in November, and, to the surprise of no one, the Wonder Twins, whose limited series wraps in February. Now, all that's needed is for Bendis to hand the reins of Young Justice to Mark Russell, and we're all set.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Musical Interlude: I Wanna Go Back (1986)

School's back in session, and there will be the class reunions dotting the season.

After Billy Joel used a class reunion as the backdrop for "The Longest Time" two years earlier, Columbia stablemate Eddie Money did the same thing with "I Wanna Go Back", a remake of a 1984 track by a lesser known group, Billy Satellite. Money peaked at #14 on the Hot 100 with his version, which was the follow-up to his top 10 duet with Ronnie Spector, "Take Me Home Tonight":



In memory of Money, born Eddie Mahoney, who passed away earlier today at 70 from throat cancer.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Sports this 'n' that

Are the Jests regretting letting Jason Myers chase the money to Seattle, or what?

Gang Green waived Kaare Vedved on Tuesday, replacing him on the roster with Sam Ficken, who played his college ball at Penn State. Ficken will debut Monday at home vs. Cleveland, as the Jests will try to avenge last year's loss to the Browns.
======================================
Just when Antonio Brown and the NFL thought all the soap opera was over with Brown signing with New England, made official on Monday, a former personal trainer filed a civil lawsuit against Brown, alleging that he'd sexually assaulted her three times in a period of just over a year between 2017-18, while Brown was still with Pittsburgh.

The timing of the suit, however, couldn't be worse for Brown, after the juvenile shenanigans he pulled to get out of first Pittsburgh, then Oakland. There is talk that Brown could be placed on the commissioner's exempt list, rendering him ineligible to play Sunday at Miami. I find it very curious, as well as dubious, that the suit was made public less than 48 hours after the Super Bowl champs held a presser to welcome Brown to Foxborough.

To make room, New England shipped former Denver & Houston receiver DeMaryius Thomas to the Jests. Seems they think the Jests aren't a threat. However, the Jests lost Quincy Enunwa to a season-ending injury, so this could backfire on the Evil Empire in the worst way. Stay tuned.
=========================================
The WWE revived the King of The Ring tournament this year after a four year absence, and originally planned for the finals to take place at Clash of Champions on Sunday. However, the tournament has been one big farce on the Smackdown side of the draw, thanks to the show's current uberheel, Shane McMahon.

Word has gotten out that Shane's dad, Vince, was the one who decided to insert his once popular son as an injury replacement for Elias in the division final on Tuesday. Shane, then, appointed Kevin Owens, whom he cheated out of a spot in the tournament three weeks earlier as a referee, promising to rescind a (storyline) fine dating back to Summerslam, when Elias was used as a heel referee.

However, it all backfired, as Chad Gable submitted the 49 year old McMahon with an anklelock-grapevine. Owens was then "fired" by the spiteful McMahon, who has worn out his welcome as a heel in just six months. Gable will face Baron Corbin, who won the Raw half of the draw, in the finals, which have been moved to Raw for reasons known only to WWE. Expect shenanigans.
==========================================
In Alaska, of all places, a 17 year old high school swimmer won a race on Friday, only to be disqualified because of what was claimed to be an issue with her school-issued swimsuit.

Breckynn Willis, of Dimond High in Anchorage, had the last laugh, though, on Tuesday, when the Alaska School Activities Association overturned the DQ. Lauren Langford, a coach at a rival school, who had coached Willis and her sisters when they were younger, was on the side of her former protégé, alleging that the unnamed official who rendered the DQ did it purposely due to 1) Willis being of mixed race, 2) body shaming, and, well, 3) personal bias, for all we know.

Edit, 8/13/2020: The video has been deleted. Fortunately, the story has a happy ending, as Willis was reinstated as the winner and the official who made the error in judgment was removed for the rest of the season.

To be honest, I hope we see Breckynn in the Olympics someday.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Musical Interlude: Babe (1979-80)

Styx's "Babe", off 1979's "Cornerstone", still gets played on adult contemporary & oldies channels 40 years later.

And, yes, folks, Dennis DeYoung is wearing a Cubs jersey.

Sports this 'n' that

If the Mets don't make the playoffs, despite their flashes of brilliance in getting back into the wild card race in the second half, I'd not be surprised if Mickey Callaway is shown the door less than 24 hours after the final game.

Callaway has been in over his head ever since he came to Flushing from Cleveland after the 2017 season, and some of his game decisions have been second, third, and fourth guessed by the paranoid fan base, as well as the Valley of The Stupid (NYC talk radio). Closer Edwin Diaz has collapsed under the pressure of the micro-scrutiny of the tabloid press in his first season in New York. He's not exactly, say for example, Ed Whitson, who was booed out of the Bronx in the mid-80's after coming to the Yankees from San Diego, but GM Brodie Van Wagenen would be wise to shop Diaz in the off-season. Former closer Jeurys Familia, brought back from Oakland to set up Diaz, has also been a problem. Two stints on the IL for shoulder issues should've raised a red flag. Seems Familia still has arm problems, and is not the lights out reliever he was during his first tour with the Mets.

Then again, I'd not be surprised if Diaz is playing through pain, too, and doesn't want to be placed on the injured list.
==========================================
Watching Jets-Bills yesterday, one could see the reasons why Miami let Adam Gase go, only to be picked up by the Jets. He doesn't know how to adjust when one of his best players is forced out with an injury.

That would be C. J. Mosley, who came over from Baltimore as a free agent, and scored the Jets' first points of 2019 on a pick six off Bills QB Josh Allen. Unfortunately for the Jets, Mosley left with a groin injury in the third quarter, and never returned. Buffalo then erased a 16 point deficit, which should've been bigger had Kaare Vedvik, the Jets' new placekicker, acquired from Minnesota, not missed the extra point after the Mosley TD, and a subsequent field goal. The Bills open at 1-0, and the Jets, as per usual, are 0-1. Vedvik was a spare part in Baltimore that was cut loose, and the Vikings took him first, but gave up on him after two weeks. I give the Jets to the end of the month before they decide to cut bait. Last year's kicker, Jason Myers, is now in Seattle.

Same old Jets.
============================================
The Boston Red Sox, in a clear case of "What have you done lately?", dismissed team president Dave Dombrowski, the architect of last year's World Series champs, before losing to the Yankees, 10-5, on Sunday night.

Red Sox Nation is even worried about whether or not slugger J. D. Martinez will use his opt out clause after the season and chase the money. Well, his agent is Scott (20 Mule Team) Boras. What else is new? Boras wants those opt-out clauses in his clients' contracts so he can fatten his wallet even more than needed. Here's a better idea, bunky. Make an investment, and buy your home town Padres.
==========================================
Giants GM Dave Gettleman has gotten heat in New York for trading receiver/shampoo salesman Odell Beckham, Jr. and defensive lineman Olivier Vernon to Cleveland to get Gibril Peppers. He also dealt away B. J. Goodson to Green Bay, and the defensive weakness was apparent in a 35-17 loss to Dallas on Sunday. Dak Prescott was able to play pitch & catch with receivers Randall Cobb (formerly of Green Bay) and Amari Cooper against the Giants' secondary on a pair of long touchdowns.

WROW morning host Ben Patton declared the season already over for the Jets & Giants, but it's still week one. Plenty of time for improvements.
============================================
Some people are already thinking the Miami Dolphins, under first year head coach Brian Flores, are tanking so they can get Tua Tagliaova (Alabama) in next year's draft. Please. They made one mistake getting rid of their best defensive lineman, Cameron Wake, who, along with QB Ryan Tannehill, is  now in Tennessee. The Evil Empire is coming to Miami next week with hometown diva Antonio Brown. Expect another blowout, even though Flores is going to try to show that he, too, can beat Bill Belichick, after Matt Patricia (Detroit) & Mike Vrabel (Tennessee) did last year.

Add the Patriots. Under no circumstances should Brown suit up for the Evil Empire until the league investigates six months or more worth of diva drama that had Brown burning his bridges in Pittsburgh and Oakland. If the Patriots are found to have broken league rules, then Brown is ineligible, his deal voided, and the Patriots lose all draft picks for the next three years, and are prohibited from signing free agents over that span.

Robert Kraft doesn't care if he's still being investigated for "Massagegate" in Florida. He's another crooked owner getting free passes because he has the money to cover his sins. I'm tired of making jokes about Miracle Whip and Velveeta with this scumbag. The league won't completely investigate him, and since President Trump is pals with this dirtbag, there won't be a federal investigation unless it is totally independent of President Trump, and it should be.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Musical Interlude: Written in The Stars (2010-11)

British rapper-singer Tinie Tempah teamed with American singer Eric Turner to create "Written in The Stars", which peaked at #12 on the Hot 100 in 2011, after being released as a single in the fall of 2010.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

What Might've Been: Jeopardy!'s 1st nighttime run (1974)

Jeopardy! has been on the air for most of the last 55 years. There was a three year gap between its two NBC runs (1964-75, 1978-9), and a five year gap between the end of the 2nd run and the current syndicated series, which marks 35 years this season.

However, when Merv Griffin brought the show back, with Alex Trebek as host, it wasn't the first time the show was tried out at night.

In the course of the 1974-5 season, Griffin struck a deal with Metromedia Producers Corporation, the same folks who distributed his syndicated, weeknight talk show, to add a weekly, syndicated Jeopardy! to the mix. This was despite the fact that the NBC series' ratings were in decline at that point, and it carried over. This first night-time Jeopardy! was done after 1 season.

I have little memory of seeing this version, and what we can serve up is an installment from November 1974. The trend at the time was for hosts, such as Jeopardy!'s Art Fleming and Hollywood Squares' Peter Marshall, to swap the usual three piece suits worn in the morning for tuxedos. Excessive? You decide.



Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

Antonio Brown has fallen victim to the "disease of me".

Brown has now burned bridges in two NFL cities after being released by Oakland today, two days before the team's season opener. Whatever the reason is for his diva behavior, it threatens to permanently torpedo his future in the league. I'm not even sure if he'd be wanted in the CFL, which started play earlier this summer.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus couldn't be that stupid to let Brown play the spoiled brat card, but he should be familiar with the gimmick. After all, he also represented Hall of Famer Terrell Owens, another gifted player whose success in San Francisco gradually turned him into a diva everywhere else he played (Dallas, Philadelphia, New England).

It's just been reported that the Patriots, which also took in another problem child in Randy Moss, have signed Brown, who won't be able to play against the Steelers tomorrow. Chalk it up to the rich & greedy getting richer.

Brown, the son of local Arena Football icon "Touchdown" Eddie Brown, isn't making dad proud these days. His loss.
=================================
The Mets activated infielder Jed Lowrie from the injured list today, so Mets Nation can finally relax. Problem is getting Lowrie, who'd missed the season with injuries, some playing time during the playoff push. He'd share 2nd base with Robinson Cano, 3rd base with Todd Frazier, and shortstop with Amed Rosario. Problem is, Luis Guillorme and Jeff McNeil can play those positions, too, and McNeil has proven capable in the outfield this season. For Mickey Callaway, it's a nice problem to have. For now.
=================================
It's only the 2nd week of the college football season, but ESPN is not wasting any time with the ratings stunts.

Ahead of tonight's LSU-Texas game, future WWE Hall of Famer The Undertaker (Mark Calaway) made a guest appearance on College GameDay, which was on location on the Longhorns' campus in Austin. Calaway, a Houston native, swapped out, for a day on camera, his supernatural persona for the "American Bad Ass" look he rocked from 2000-3, and commenters on YouTube & Reddit both complained that his theme music should've reflected the 'Taker's "human" era, like maybe using the Jim Johnson-penned "You're Gonna Pay". Nah.

Considering WWE is loading their cards for Raw & Smackdown this week at Madison Square Garden, and Raw routinely gets spanked in the ratings this time of year by Monday Night Football, I wonder how Vince McMahon feels about this.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

2019 NFL preview, part 4

With the Bears & Packers due to kick off, literally, the NFL's 100th season in about 12 hours as I write this, and before we finish previewing the season, NBC thought it'd be cute to have former Packers (& Vikings & Jets) QB Brett Favre sit down with a pair of "Bears Superfans" (Robert Smigel & George Wendt, reprising from Saturday Night Live):



The Superfans were last seen in a State Farm commercial with Favre's successor in Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers, a few years ago.
==============================================
NFC South:

It's been 10 years since Drew Brees led the New Orleans Saints to the Super Bowl. Since then, Brees has had endorsement deals with Wrangler and other advertisers, but hasn't gotten back to the big dance. As has been documented here, Saints fans are still butt hurt over the NFC title game, but karma came a'callin' on the Rams in the Super Bowl. Still, at last check, a few dweebs wanted to file suit against the league (good luck with that). The only thing that'll mollify the Doug & Wendy Whiners of New Orleans is the Saints getting back to the Super Bowl, in what might very well be Brees' career coda.

In Atlanta, Matt Ryan begins his 11th season at QB, and another Matt, Bryant, that is, has re-upped to do the kicking since attempting to replace him this pre-season has been an epic fail. The Falcons could fly high, especially if they can generate some momentum from a Braves post-season run.

Tampa Bay reportedly has soured on Jameis Winston, but having Ryan Fitzpatrick as the alternative isn't so bad. It's just that he turns the ball over too much. Carolina has to hope Cam Newton can be healthy for the whole season.

Projected order of finish:

1. New Orleans.
2. Atlanta.
3. Tampa Bay.
4. Carolina.
===========================================
NFC West:

Seattle got some much needed defensive help in getting JaDaveon Clowney from Houston last week. They had seen Michael Bennett pack up and leave (New England), and they don't have defensive & spiritual leader Earl Thomas anymore (Baltimore). The offense has to be more than just Russell Wilson and a cloud of dust.

San Francisco has to hope Jimmy Garappolo stays healthy for the entire season, but their defense was boosted as well, after drafting Nick Bosa (Ohio State), the brother of the Chargers' Joey Bosa. They could also do all of America a favor by hiring ESPN bloviator Stephen A. Smith to motivate defensive back Richard Sherman. By being tied to a tackling dummy, that is. Smith, remember, was paired with Sherman in a series of beef jerky ads a couple of years back, with Smith as the voice in Sherman's stomach. Gross!

I actually know someone here in the 518 who is a Rams fan, but is not a fan of Jared Goff, probably because of the choke job in the Super Bowl. Goff was outplayed, pure & simple. If the AFC representative was anyone other than New England, maybe it's a different story. Arizona gave up on Josh Rosen after just one season as Carson Palmer's successor. Turning to former Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury to run the team isn't exactly brain salad surgery, but they have to address the issue of getting the right talent on the field for Kingsbury to succeed. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither was an NFL team.

Projected order of finish:

1. San Francisco.
2. Los Angeles.
2 (tie). Seattle.
4. Arizona.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Advertising For Dummies: How do you find beef in spaghetti sauce? (1985)

A year after gaining fame for the phrase, "Where's the beef?" in a Wendy's ad, Clara Peller was back, this time shilling for Prego Plus spaghetti sauce.



Apparently, Wendy's didn't find the ad amusing, believing that Campbell's, the makers of Prego, were misleading viewers into thinking Peller had found the beef she'd been looking for since the now famous Wendy's ad. Peller was released from her contract, and, as it turns out, Wendy's didn't approve her appearance in the Prego spot.

2019 NFL preview, part 3

NFC East:

Talk about perfect timing. The Dallas Cowboys welcomed back running back Ezekiel Elliott on Tuesday, just in time for Sunday's opener vs. the Giants. Apparently, Elliott wasn't satisfied until he became the highest paid rusher in the league. That's what happens when the positions become competitions within themselves in a game of salary chicken.

Digression over. Dallas now has all the pieces for a championship run, save for receiver Cole Beasley (Buffalo), who left as a free agent. A full season of Amari Cooper should fix that problem.

Meanwhile, the Giants are having injury issues. Again. Sterling Shepherd opened the preseason injured, but should be ready to go in due course. However, Golden Tate, acquired from Detroit, is suspended for the first month for using a banned substance, a fertility pill, of all things. Yeesh. While rookie QB Daniel Jones, a first round pick from Duke, impressed, 2nd year coach Pat Shurmur and management don't see any reason to uproot Eli Manning as the starter, even though Manning has regressed somewhat in the last two seasons.

Philadelphia has injuries at the QB position. Carson Wentz is not 100%. No surprise there. Kinda makes the Eagles wish they never got rid of Nick Foles again (Jacksonville). The Washington Trumpets drafted Dwayne Haskins out of Ohio State, but he won't be under center at the start of the season. A year under the learning tree might not be so bad.

Projected order of finish:

1. Dallas.
2. Philadelphia.
3. Giants.
4. Washington.
======================================
NFC North:

The pundits will tell you there's a changing of the guard in the division, and all four teams will be jockeying for playoff position again.

Jordy Nelson came back to Green Bay just to retire. Aaron Rodgers might be getting hints that it's soon going to be time for him to leave the Packers, too. Green Bay has a hole in the offense with the departure of RB/WR/KR Ty Montgomery (Jets). And the Pack opens in Chicago tomorrow night. Ugh.

In Detroit, coach Matt Patricia's signature win in 2018 came against his former boss, Bill Belichick, and the Patriots. At least the Lions recovered from an opening night loss to the Jets last year. Matthew Stafford begins his 11th season with the Lions at QB, second only to Rodgers in the division.

For all intents and purposes, Chicago & Minnesota stood pat in the offseason, not making a lot of waves, which might actually be a good thing.

Projected order of finish:

1. Chicago.
2. Minnesota.
3. Green Bay.
3 (tie). Detroit.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Musical Interlude: You Little Trustmaker (1974)

It can be said that The Tymes were making a comeback in 1974. 11 years after "So Much in Love" climbed the charts, the group returned with "You Little Trustmaker", which I remember being included on a K-Tel compilation album.

This clip comes from a Dutch TV show of the period.

2019 NFL preview, part 2

AFC North:

Baltimore waited until the last day last season to clinch the division. Now, they'll have a full season with Lamar Jackson at QB after shipping Joe Flacco to Denver in the offseason. However, while they acquired defensive back Earl Thomas from Seattle, they said good-bye to Eric Weddle and Terrell Suggs on defense, which could prove problematic.

Not that last year's runner-up, Pittsburgh, can take full advantage. Depending on who you believe, QB Ben Roethlisberger, entering his 16th season, turned diva last year, leading to receiver Antonio Brown (Oakland) and running back LeVeon Bell (Jets) leaving town. Bell's contract demands last year made him expendable with the emergence of James Conner. Brown's departure, and subsequent diva behavior, makes Ju-Ju Smith Schuster the #1 receiver.

The task awaiting Cleveland is whether or not they can make the postseason after picking up a few wins in 2018. The Browns gave up linebacker Gibrill Peppers to get receiver/shampoo salesman Odell Beckham, Jr. from the Giants, giving second year QB Baker Mayfield an experienced deep threat, despite Beckham's own bouts with divatitis.

Cincinnati said goodbye to coach Marvin Lewis after last season, and one suspects that Andy Dalton & AJ Green might follow him out of town if the Bengals don't return to playoff form. Changing personnel in the front office might help.

Projected order of finish:

1. Pittsburgh.
2. Baltimore.
3. Cleveland.
4. Cincinnati.
=============================
AFC South:

Houston, we have a problem.

The Texans, after designating JaDaveon Clowney as a franchise player, dealt Clowney to Seattle over the weekend for a draft pick. Nothing says stupid like trading one of your best defensive players a week before the season. Someone check and see if the Texans and Seahawks meet this season!

You wouldn't know Jacksonville was on the doorstep of reaching the Super Bowl two seasons ago before getting screwed by New England in the AFC title game. However, they do bring back skill players such as TJ Yeldon and Leonard Fournette.

After winning the division the first time out of the box, Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel has basically stood pat with the same cast of characters surrounding QB Marcus Mariota. Repeating as division champ just became easier with the retirement of Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck, which prompted pundits to downgrade the Colts to third instead of overtaking the Titans to claim the division title. I wouldn't sell Jacoby Brissett short, though. He, after all, was under the learning tree of the league's biggest diva, Tom Brady.

Projected order of finish:

1. Tennessee.
2. Houston.
3. Jacksonville.
4. Indianapolis.
================================
AFC West:

Kansas City divested itself of Kareem Hunt after domestic troubles sidelined him. They still have Tyreek Hill, despite his own issues, and it appears QB Patrick Mahomes may have supplanted Odell Beckham, Jr. as a endorser for Head & Shoulders shampoo. I can picture a few other things he can pitch.

Antonio Brown is now Jon Gruden's headache in Oakland. Issues over helmets and frostbitten feet (!) have downgraded Brown to just another diva in the NFL. Then again, the league's rules on equipment are no worse than some of the archaic rules in college.

In Los Angeles, the Chargers are prepared to start the season without running back Melvin Gordon, who wants a contract similar to what Bell got from the Jets. Seems to me that the agents for these players are encouraging this unhealthy jealousy over contracts. This might be the last chance for Philip "Old Man" Rivers, who's also in his 16th season, but hasn't reached the big dance.

Denver is hoping that Joe Flacco can do for them what Peyton Manning did, win them a Super Bowl. Like the telegenically challenged insurance shill, Flacco comes to town with 1 ring, hoping to make it two. Maybe this year, maybe not.

Projected order of finish:

1. Kansas City.
2. Denver.
3. Oakland.
4. Los Angeles.

In part 3, the NFC East & North.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Classic TV: Soundstage (1974)

It wasn't so long ago that we took a look at one of PBS' legendary music series, Soul!, which lasted 5 years.

In 1974, a small regional series was picked up for greater national distribution by PBS, and, coupled with Austin City Limits, posited the network as a go-to for a wide, diverse range of artists, as if that hadn't already been demonstrated with artists ranging from Stevie Wonder to Buffy Sainte-Marie having appeared on Sesame Street.

Soundstage, taped in Chicago, had two lengthy runs, the second of which ended last year. 21 seasons, stretched across a period of 44 years, though there was an 18 year gap from the time the first series ended in 1985 to its revival in 2003.

There was no visible MC. None was needed in the original series.

Three Dog Night's appearance was the finale of season 2 in 1975. Drummer Mickey McMeel left TDN the next year, cast as Turkey on The Krofft Supershow for 2 seasons (1976-8) on ABC, then moving over to The Krofft Superstar Hour on NBC, which lasted just a couple of months. On Supershow, McMeel was allowed to leave his drum kit to do some singing once in a while. Here, you can barely see him. Keyboard player Jimmy Greenspoon looked like he was dressed as Merlin the magician. I wonder if this was taped around Halloween. Paging Mike Doran.......



Oh, what fun.

Rating: A.

On The Shelf: The "other" origin of Swamp Thing, and other stuff

DC's 2nd facsimile edition reprint of August is House of Secrets 92, released in 1971. As everyone knows, this is the issue in which Len Wein & Berni Wrightson introduced Swamp Thing. The character, who turns 50 in two years, was cover-featured, and after a splash page with host Abel, also by Wrightson, the initial tale leads off the issue.

In Wein's original script, our tragic hero was Alex Olsen, who was killed by a jealous rival for the affections of his wife, Linda, who would soon marry the cad. Basically, your standard gothic horror-romance story.

A year later, when Swamp Thing went to series, Wein rewrote the origin, changing the protagonist's name to Alec Holland, and the rest, of course, is history. Wein's original story struck a chord not only with readers, but also with DC editorial of the period.

The rest of the issue is standard fare for DC's horror line, including an issue-closing two page short by an uncredited Gerry Conway & Dick Dillin. In those days, DC was inconsistent about crediting creators, though that would soon change.

Rating: A-.
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With Harley Quinn set to return to the big screen next year in "Birds of Prey", plus her own DC Universe animated series, due this fall, DC is flooding the shelves with Harley-centric new books, including a young adult graphic novel on the DC Ink line.

Best-selling author Mariko Tamaka's Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass is narrated by Harley herself, but way too chatty for her own good. Veteran artist Steve Pugh sets the tone. However, I for one am not a fan of DC suits deciding that Harley is their answer to Marvel's Deadpool, who also gets a little too chatty. Shoot, Deadpool was already parodied in the pages of Harley's solo series, and it seems to me that DC is uncertain of how to properly market Harley as a solo act. Her forthcoming miniseries with Poison Ivy is in answer to years of internet fan shipping, and, sad to say, will disappoint a lot of male fans who'd wish they had a girl like Harley to call their own.

DC is previewing Breaking Glass by releasing chapter 1 in a stand-alone giveaway. You'll need to eventually pony up $10 for the whole enchilada, but trust me, while this would make a good Christmas present for your daughter, some back issues of Harley's solo series might help counter-balance.

Rating: B-.
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In 1975, Marvel tried out a new black & white magazine, Marvel Movie Premiere, which adapted the feature film adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' The Land That Time Forgot, which was someone's idea of marketing TV vet Doug McClure (ex-The Virginian) as a movie star. As memory serves, Marvel Movie Premiere flopped, and this ended up being a 1-shot. The company's black & white line was dying by 1975.

44 years later, American Mythology Press has acquired the issue, and split it into a 2-part miniseries, as they have the rights to most, but not all, of the Burroughs library of characters. Behind the painted cover of long time DC artist Nick Cardy, the story itself remains in black & white, as coloring it might've forced AMP to raise its price by an extra buck. Marv Wolfman wrote the adaptation of the movie, which, in turn, was co-written by fantasy novelist Michael Moorcock, the creator of Elric. Sonny Trinidad did quite a bit of work for Marvel in the 70's, but doesn't get the respect he deserves.

For what it might be worth, AMP delayed the release of the first issue by a week for unknown reasons. Their Zorro books are running late as well, and I've a feeling there might be some licensing issues involved.

Rating: A.
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Coming attractions: SyFy's hit series, The Magicians, is being adapted into a 5 part miniseries, due in November from Boom! Studios. If you're a fan of the show, you might want this.......IDW is moving forward with its second miniseries based on Netflix's GLOW, and this time, because of her heavy schedule, Tini Howard has been replaced by not one, but two writers. Actress Aimee Garcia and former wrestler-turned-best-selling author April Mendez (pka AJ Lee of the WWE) are collaborating on GLOW vs. The Babyface, also due in November. Artist Hannah Templer returns, and we can assume she didn't do the Summer Special so she could get a head start on this one.

If you're a die-hard Super Friends fan, it must be frustrating knowing that past reprint volumes of the series have not collected the entire 47 issue comic book series (1976-81).

In December, the same 24 issues that were reproduced in black & white as part of DC's Showcase trade paperback collection are being restored to full color, plus two more issues and some rare material not reprinted in over 40 years, in a hardcover volume that is labeled as Super Friends: Saturday Morning Comics Volume 1, and the same Alex Toth cover that has been used a few times since 1976 is being reprinted yet again. Back then, Toth was working for Hanna Barbera on and off, and Super Friends was one of his last projects for the studio. Due date? Christmas!

Ya know, I get the suspicion they may be testing the waters for a revival, and perhaps entrusting it to a certain hot writer (Mark Russell). Stay tuned.