Thursday, January 30, 2020

Musical Interlude: Mistake #3 (1984-5)

From Culture Club's 3rd CD, "Waking up With The House on Fire", "Mistake #3" peaked at #33 on the Hot 100, though, in this writer's opinion, it could've gone a bit higher. I can imagine it's still getting some airplay on adult contemporary and oldies channels today.

Following is a concert clip from 1985. Exact date unknown. Boy George has swapped his usual attire, and added glasses for this appearance. The Motown influence is clearly evident on this track.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

What Might've Been: The Burns & Schreiber Comedy Hour (1973)

Jack Burns & Avery Schreiber formed one of the most popular comedy teams of the 60's & 70's. After appearing on all the usual talk & variety shows, it seemed natural that they would get their own show.

And in 1973, they did.

The Burns & Schreiber Comedy Hour was a summer replacement series for ABC. Unfortunately, it didn't last beyond that summer season.

Schreiber & Burns had done separate gigs in primetime during the 1965 season. Schreiber, of course, was the antagonist opposite Jerry Van Dyke in My Mother The Car, while Burns was cast as Deputy Warren Ferguson for 11 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, asked to succeed Don Knotts. Unfortunately for Burns, it didn't work.

Here's a clip from The Burns & Schreiber Comedy Hour. The guys are doing their famous taxi skit.



In memory of Burns, 86, who passed away earlier this week. He joins Schreiber, who passed in 2002, and original partner George Carlin, in comedy heaven.

How did Ford promote their trucks in the 70's? (1978)

Remember when Ford took its cameras to their "Arizona proving ground" to show how their trucks were "Built Ford Tough"? Here's an example from 1978. Dick Tufeld is the narrator.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Weasel of The Week: Wolfgang Halbig

Seven plus years after the fact, there are still people who believe Adam Lanza's one-man assault on Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut was a hoax.

On Monday, Wolfgang Halbig, 71, was arrested in Florida for harrassing some of the parents of the victims of that horrible massacre that happened two weeks before Christmas in 2012.

Sandy Hook shooting 'conspiracy theorist' arrested after tormenting families of victims: Police

Halbig was once associated with Alex Jones' Infowars, but now appears to be operating on his own. Jones even denounced him in an interview with ABC on Monday.

What is it going to take for Halbig, and others like him, to wake up to the reality that this tragedy actually happened? Halbig was in possession of some personal records of family members of the victims, and distributing them without their consent.

Let me ask you something, Weasel. How would you feel if someone did that to you? What becomes of the thought process in that case? They're talking about a one year sentence, likely suspended because of his age, if the case goes to trial. No, that one year should be served out undergoing psychiatric therapy. Period.

What Might've Been: Tales of The Gold Monkey (1982)

"Raiders of The Lost Ark" inspired producer Don Belisario (Magnum, P. I.) to come up with an adventure series set in the late 30's.

Tales of The Gold Monkey, however, ended up a 1 year wonder for ABC, despite the fact that it offered a semblance of nostalgia for those longing for the days of Saturday melodramas at the theatre, for example. Stephen Collins top-lined as Jake Cutter, fronting an ensemble that also included John Calvin, John Fujioka, Jeff MacKay (ex-Black Sheep Squadron, Dr. Shrinker) and Roddy McDowell (ex-Planet of The Apes, Fantastic Journey), whose character, Bon Chance Louie, had been played by Ron Moody in the pilot. As the island magistrate, Louie might've fit right in if Belisario had gotten the rights to adapt "Casablanca".

My folks watched the show. I was usually in another room, and would only look in periodically. Tales was Belisario's first, and to my knowledge, only, sale to ABC, as most of his series have, with the exception of Quantum Leap and the early years of JAG, were on CBS.

Here's the intro:



Rating: B.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Classic TV: Have Gun, Will Travel (1957)

CBS came up with their own Lone Ranger, if ya will, except that Paladin, the hero of Have Gun, Will Travel, didn't wear a mask, and was an Old West equivalent to a private detective, hiring himself out to folks in need.

Richard Boone had the title role as Paladin, and even directed a fair number of episodes over the course of the show's six seasons (1957-63). Paladin only used his gun if he had no other alternative.

The guest stars during the six year run included a who's who of television, including William Conrad, Ken Curtis (who created a prototype for his Gunsmoke role of Festus in one episode, and sang in another), and, in this offering, Janice Rule (Mrs. Ben Gazzara) and Jack Lord.




Have Gun, Will Travel currently airs Saturday mornings on Me-TV, anchoring its mid-day Western block.

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

More than 24 hours later, there are still headlines about the passing of former LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant after he, his daughter, Gianna, 13, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning.

Bryant, 41, had such an impact not only on the game of basketball, but on sports and pop culture. In addition to the moments of silence before each NBA game Sunday, NFL players gathered at halftime of the Pro Bowl in prayer. Grammy host Alicia Keys & Boyz II Men teamed to perform the latter's 1992 hit, "It's so Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" in memory of Bryant. Even WWE announcer Michael Cole got in on it, offering condolences on behalf of WWE during the Royal Rumble.

The tributes from not only the NBA, but the NFL, WWE, and elsewhere, are still pouring in today.

But, there is a downside.

Take, for example, CBS, which had the Farmers Insurance Open (formerly the Andy Williams San Diego Open back in the day). Tiger Woods, a friend of Bryant, was in contention, but finished ninth. After Woods finished his round, CBS cameras left the course with him, practically, so they could cover a hastily scheduled press conference.

You & I know that won't play well in New York with media gadflies Phil Mushnick and Bob Raissman.

ESPN & ABC, which carried the Pro Bowl, jumped to a quickly produced special report on Bryant that didn't really add anything to what had already been reported. Not even sure if the game was still going on or was over by the time of the cutaway. I get that the tragedy is big news, but does it need to trump (no pun intended) other events?

That ain't for me to decide.
========================================
Speaking of the Pro Bowl, aside from defensive quarterback sacks, they played two-handed touch football with the receivers and running backs to prevent unnecessary injury. Welcome to the playground game. Oh, by the way, the AFC won, 38-33.
========================================
Remember the Hula Bowl? The college all star game was brought back after a 12 year hiatus Sunday night in Honolulu, and, for the first time that I can think of, the game wasn't on ESPN/ABC. CBS Sports Network has the rights now, and aired the game live beginning at 10:30 pm (ET). For what it's worth, Team Kai (ocean) def. Team Aina (land), 28-7.

I can recall when the game was shown much earlier in the day on ABC's Wide World of Sports back in the day. If you're going to put the game on in primetime, why not move the start time in Honolulu back to about, say 2:00 local time (7 pm ET), because you're not getting kids to watch it in late night.
============================================
No matter what they do, WWE is bound to upset some folks based on booking decisions.

Such was the case at the Royal Rumble on Sunday in Houston. While Scotland's Drew McIntyre won the men's Rumble, eliminating reigning WWE champ Brock Lesnar along the way (title wasn't on the line), second generation starlet Charlotte Flair (Ashley Fliehr) won the women's Rumble, which made fans more than a little salty online, since Flair already has won 10 women's titles in the last 4 1/2 years since being called up in July 2015.

There are those who believe that Flair has gained favored nation status with CEO/Chairman Vince McMahon, but the truth of the matter is, Flair made history on Sunday. Her father, 2-time Hall of Famer "Nature Boy" Ric Flair won the 1992 Rumble at the then-Knickerbocker Arena, winning the vacated WWE (then-WWF) title in the process. Thus, it marks the first time a father & daughter have won the same event, separated by 28 years.

WWE has had familial ties with some of their championships over the years.

For example, the late Curt "Mr. Perfect" Hennig was an Intercontinental champion as late as 1991. More than 20 years later, son Joseph, under the name Curtis Axel, claimed the IC title for his last significant title run before winning the tag titles as 1/2 of the B Team a couple of years back.

There've been two sets of brothers who've held the IC title:

Bret (1991) and Owen (1996) Hart.
Dustin (as Goldust, 1995) & Cody (2012-3) Rhodes.

Of course, Vince McMahon booked himself to win the then-WWF title for a weekend in 1999, while daughter Stephanie was given the women's title for five months in 2000, but it pales in comparison to what the other families have accomplished.

Some might think that Vince is getting some, ah, side action with Charlotte when her fiancee, US champion Andrade, isn't around, but that hasn't been proven.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Musical Interlude: Elusive Butterfly (1966)

Bob Lind's 1-hit wonder, "Elusive Butterfly", remains an oldies radio staple, well after its release in 1966. If you've never matched a face to the voice, well, here he is:

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Old Time Radio: Have Gun, Will Travel (1958)

A year after the TV version of the series had launched to great success, CBS Radio introduced Have Gun, Will Travel to listeners. Some episodes were adapted from the TV show, which was co-created by Herb Meadow and Sam Rolfe.

Radio veteran John Dehner (Gunsmoke, Frontier Gentleman) stepped into Richard Boone's boots as Paladin, the gentleman gunfighter whom you might say was an Old West variant on the private detective.

In this offering, Paladin comes to the aid of a Native American couple whose land is being threatened. Other voices include Barney Phillips (ex-Dragnet) and Joseph Kearns (Dennis The Menace).



Yes, the theme song is the same as the TV show. Then again, that shouldn't have been a surprise.

Rating: A.

Musical Interlude: Slippin' & Slidin' (Peepin' & Hidin') (1975)

Here's a rarity that doesn't get as much airplay as it should.

Until today, I only knew of "Slippin' & Slidin' (Peepin' & Hidin')" as a hit single for country singer Billy "Crash" Craddock in 1973. Two years later, John Lennon took his turn, recording "Slippin'" for his solo LP, "Rock & Roll".



The kicker? "Slippin'" was co-written and previously recorded by Little Richard on his first album. To this day, I've never heard Richard's version......

Friday, January 24, 2020

Retro Reads: The tale of the Huntress (1977)

In the era before DC's monumental, legendary Crisis on Infinite Earths, the heroes of the Golden Age were set on Earth-2, while their Silver Age successors were on Earth-1. The idea behind Crisis, and some of the events that have followed, was to simplify the DC Universe for new generations of readers.

However, depending on the character, nothing is that simple.

Take, for example, The Huntress.

The second character to use the name was the daughter of Earth-2's Batman & Catwoman, the latter having reformed and renounced her life of crime.

[Cover of DC SUPER-STARS #17]

DC Super-Stars 17 explained the origins of this Huntress, aka Helena Wayne, who would join the Justice Society, and appear in All-Star Comics & Adventure Comics before her solo series began appearing in the back-up feature in Batman Family & Wonder Woman. Co-creators Paul Levitz & Joe Staton had themselves a winner.

However, Helena was killed off at the end of Crisis, or so you'd imagine. A few retcons over the last 34 years have changed the story.

With Huntress due to appear in "Birds of Prey" next month, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, DC is reissuing the 2006 trade paperback, Darknight Daughter, under the new title, Huntress: Origins. No matter how it's labeled, it's still good stuff, even though not all of the solo stories were included in the collection.

Helena Wayne deserved to star in her own book. This is as close as she'll get.

Rating: A-.
===================================
Post-Crisis, Huntress was reincarnated as the daughter of a Sicilian crime family, Helena Bertinelli. I remember reading this iteration of Huntress, impressed with Staton's changing his art style to fit the mood of the series. Unfortunately, it ended a wee bit too soon, in this writer's opinion.

And it was the Helena Bertinelli version that shared headline space with Batman in the 2000 miniseries, Cry For Blood. Artist Rick Burchett didn't go out of his way to emulate Staton's 70's look, but it feels that way, and it represents some of Burchett's best work, joined by inker Terry Beatty in the second half of the series. Greg Rucka's script encapsulates and revises the late 80's origin, suggesting that this Helena was the product of a forbidden affair between her mother and a rival capo. It continues the animosity between Huntress III and Batman, but then you throw the Question (Victor Sage) into the mix, too.

Cry For Blood was previously collected in trade paperback, and has also been reissued, this time as Birds of Prey: Huntress, as DC is doing everything they can to market the theatrical "Birds".

Rating: A-.
====================================
If you thought the producers of Supergirl were done with Mr. Mxyzptlk, think again.

The 5th dimensional sorcerer returns later this season, but embodied this time by Thomas Lennon (ex-The Odd Couple, Reno 911, The State). They're going out of their way to avoid using CGI and bringing in Gilbert Gottfried, who voiced Mxyzptlk on Superman: The Animated Series, aren't they?
=======================================
Apparently, Archie Comics is finding out that a 5 part story arc doesn't sell as well as it used to.

For example, with Katy Keene surfacing in Archie, her arc has been trimmed from five issues down to four. With the Katy live action series set to debut in two weeks on CW, and set in the future, it seems orders for the Katy-Archie meeting aren't where they should be.
========================================
IDW has gotten into the business of facsimile reprints, following behind DC & Marvel.

They tested the waters with a reprint of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, as originally adapted by Marvel in  Marvel Super Special 40 years earlier. Marv Wolfman wrote the adaptation, illustrated by Dave Cockrum & Klaus Jansen, which is as close to accurate as I've seen, and I've never seen the movie! (I've only seen one Trek movie, "Wrath of Khan")

Wolfman, who recently made a TV cameo at the end of CW's adaptation of Crisis, is one of the greatest comics writers of the latter 20th century. Jansen, however, mutes Cockrum's pencils ever so slightly, diluting their impact. Still, I'm figuring on finding a DVD one of these days....!

Rating: B.
===========================================
Dynamite has joined the party, too, producing monthly facsimile reprints of the original Vampirella series produced by Warren Publishing, dating back to 1969. I wonder if Marvel might be so motivated to do the same with their black & white line from the 70's, save for Doc Savage, whose rights, at last check, remain with Dynamite.
===========================================
As one might've expected, writer Brian Bendis marked the first anniversary of his Wonder Comics imprint at DC by bringing Miguel & Summer, the stars of Dial H For Hero, and the Wonder Twins over to Young Justice with issue 12. Naomi has been appearing since issue 10.

For those that didn't read Naomi, her full name is Naomi McDuffie, named for the late Dwayne McDuffie. Downside is that artist John Timms hasn't been reading Wonder Twins, and gave Zan & Jayna elf-like ears, twice the normal size that Stephen Byrne has drawn. First mistake.

The second wave of Wonder Comics begins next month, as Amethyst will be spun off into a six issue miniseries. Meanwhile, if the teaser at the end of Crisis is a harbinger of some kind, we'll see Zan & Jayna on our TV screens again, this time on CW, before the end of the year. Gleek was heard, but not seen. Hmmmmm.

Old Time Radio: Fort Laramie (1956)

As Westerns were plentiful on television in the 50's, it surprises no one that there would be one last radio Western on the air by 1956.

Fort Laramie, however, lasted just 41 episodes, a sure sign that the days of classic radio dramas were coming to an end.

Fort Laramie starred Raymond Burr as Capt. Lee Quince of the US Cavalry. The cast also included Vic Perrin, Parley Baer, and, in the episode, "War Correspondent", Lawrence Dobkin:



A year after Fort Laramie signed off, Burr began an 8 year run as Perry Mason. Baer would later move on to character roles in television, including a stint as the mayor of Mayberry on The Andy Griffith Show, and spent several years as the voice of Ernie Keebler in all those commercials. Vic Perrin was the announcer (Control Voice) of the original Outer Limits, and was a member of Jack Webb's repertory company during Dragnet's 2nd run. Cartoon fans will remember Vic as the original voice of Dr. Zin, the nemesis of Jonny Quest and his team.

Rating: A.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Musical Interlude: Relax (1983-4)

England's Frankie Goes to Hollywood produced three total videos for "Relax", which first entered the British charts in 1983, before being released on the album, "Welcome to The Pleasuredome", the following year. The live video below is the clip most often used by MTV back in its heyday.

Singer Holly Johnson and the band are besieged by female fans, who have no idea of the group's true orientation.

Sports this 'n' that

Some local politicos in Los Angeles wanted Major League Baseball to reverse the results of the 2017-18 World Series and award the trophies to the Dodgers, after Houston & Boston's involvement in the sign stealing mess.



Roughly translated, they're feeling more than a little butt-hurt in LA. Unfortunately, commissioner Rob Manfred isn't biting. He's already said they can't vacate the titles or award them to the runners-up, which would, in fact, set a dangerous precedent. Good for Manfred. While the jury's still out on whether or not since-ousted BoSox skipper Alex Cora brought his wacky sign-stealing "tech" with him to Beantown, let's just move on, shall we?
=================================
The Mets, who saw Carlos Beltran fall on his sword last week before spring training even got started, will introduce Luis Rojas as their new manager. Like Beltran, who went from Houston to the Yankee front office to Flushing, Rojas has no managerial experience. Translated, the Wilpons are being cheap again. Steve Cohen can't take majority control fast enough to suit the fan base.
=================================
After 16 seasons and 2 Super Bowl titles, Eli Manning announced his retirement Wednesday. Next stop? Who knows? Brother Peyton has those silly commercials for Nationwide, in which he embarrasses country singer Brad Paisley on a regular basis, and Eli's proven he's not good as a commercial pitchman (see his failed X-Men knockoff ads for Toyota for an example).

My take: ESPN recently offered Tony Romo a sweetheart deal to leave CBS. Watch them rescind the offer, and hire Eli to replace Anthony McFarland on Monday Night Football. Just sayin'.

Manning hung on about three years too long, in this writer's opinion. As his skills began to diminish and regress, management should've convinced him it was time to move on, oh, maybe, 4-5 years before they finally did. Loyalty is one thing, but blind loyalty often results in disaster.
===================================
They're a little butt-hurt in Yankee-land, too, if but because someone decided Derek Jeter didn't deserve to be a unanimous selection to the Hall of Fame.

While that one scribe remains anonymous, Jeter joins Larry Walker (Montreal, Colorado, St. Louis) and earlier selections Ted Simmons (St. Louis, Milwaukee) and the late union leader Marvin Miller in being enshrined in Cooperstown in July. Traffic headed in that direction will be more congested than the average winter flu virus for the 2nd year in a row.
===================================
You don't see fights break out much in basketball anymore, even at the college level.

But one did the other night in the waning moments of the Kansas-Kansas State game. One player, Silvio deSouza, must've thought he was the reincarnation of 70's wrestling jobber Silvano Sousa when he went for a chair and started swinging that around. For that, deSouza was suspended for 12 games. Considering they play 2-3 games a week, deSouza will be back in mid-February. Just keep him away from chairs until he gets out of therapy.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Musical Interlude: Shining Star (1980)

The Manhattans' "Shining Star" is not a remake of Earth, Wind, & Fire's hit of the same name from 1975. Oh, no. Completely different lyrics, and a smooth melody that defined the slow jams of the late 70's and early 80's.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Classic TV: Supermarket Sweep (1965)

You could say producer David Susskind had plenty of chutzpah to sell ABC a game show set in an actual supermarket.

In the end, Supermarket Sweep lasted 19 months (December 1965-July 1967), filmed on location at various Food Fair supermarkets across the country. Bill Malone was the series host. I vaguely remember seeing some of the show as a toddler, but not enough to merit a rating for this entry.

Before we get to the vintage video, and, speaking of chutzpah, independent producer Al Howard revived Sweep as a cable series in 1990, first on Lifetime, and then, on Pax (now Ion). Actor David Ruprecht served as host for this version, which is now available for viewing on Amazon Prime and Buzzr. Buzzr's owner, Fremantle Media, holds the rights to Sweep, and has added it to the list of shows being revived for ABC this summer, with actress-comedienne Leslie Jones ("Ghostbusters", ex-Saturday Night Live) tapped to host. Here's to hoping they go back to the real stores, and not a Hollywood soundstage, as they did with the 1990-2003 series.

Here's a partial episode:

Remember Union 76? (1972)

Union 76 oil was largely a regional company, a West Coast cousin, if ya will, to Chevron. Well before the US' bicentennial in 1976, Union Oil was promoting the "Spirit of '76" in their ads. You'd often see their logo turning up at Dodger Stadium during baseball season.

In this 1972 spot, Noam Pitlik (Sanford & Son) plays a mechanic. Pitlik would leave Sanford to concentrate on his directorial career, which would lead to Emmy & Peabody Awards, as well as an award from the Director's Guild of America for his work on Barney Miller. Casey Kasem is the announcer at the end.



Casey would later do a series of spots for Chevron, among a zillion endorsement deals.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Forgotten TV: Down The Shore (1992)

There was a time when Fox programmed their Sunday night lineup for a full four hours (7-11 pm ET). The only time they have anything airing after 10 now is usually when the network carries the Super Bowl.

In the summer of 1992, Fox tried out some new sitcoms, such as Down The Shore, as in Jersey Shore. You have a house with three men & three women. Chaos ensues, and the series lasted almost a full calendar year, with 29 episodes over two seasons before being cancelled.

To most folks, Pamela Segall (Adlon) is better known now for her cartoon work (i.e. King of The Hill), and I believe this was still early in her acting career.

One hook to the show had a definite Jersey feel, the theme song performed by Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, and composed by Bruce Springsteen's long-time sidekick, Steven Van Zandt.

Let's look at a sample episode, a rerun from New Year's Eve, 1992.



Louis Mandylor (ex-China Beach) later turned up in the "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" movies.

Rating: C. As in, cheesy.

Celebrity Rock: Simon Says (1963)

I'm not exactly sure where this vintage clip comes from, but if anyone knows, please fill in the blank.

Anyway, we have Julie Newmar, a year before My Living Doll, and well before being cast as Catwoman on Batman, performing "Simon Says". Like her TV successor as the feline fury, Eartha Kitt, Julie was also a hot attraction on Broadway when she got on the radar of television producers.

I'm thinking this might be from The Ed Sullivan Show, but there's no way to identify if that's the case......



Purr-fect, wouldn't you say?

Update, 1/21: Correspondent Mike Doran informs me this is from the Danny Kaye Show.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Making matches for scouts (Match Game, 1964)

We all know when CBS revived Match Game in 1973, the intent was to emulate the all-star panel of NBC's Hollywood Squares, even though by this point, Match was firmly entrenched as an afternoon show.

However, in the winter of 1964, Mark Goodson & Bill Todman, along with NBC, decided to try an all-star week on Match, to benefit the Boy & Girl Scouts of America, which at the time were two separate entities (I've heard they have wanted to merge the groups).

On the women's side: Peggy Cass (To Tell The Truth, ex-The Hathaways), Betty White, Joan Fontaine.

For the men: Bennett Cerf (What's My Line?), Henry Morgan (I've Got a Secret), Robert Q. Lewis (four months removed from Play Your Hunch).



Oh, what fun.

Rating: A.

NFL Conference Championship preview

Now, we're down to four.

AFC Championship Game: Tennessee @ Kansas City (CBS):

The postseason has been a coming out party, after a sort, for Tennessee running back Derrick Henry, the former Heisman Trophy winner out of Alabama, who has run roughshod over the defenses of New England & Baltimore, hailed as two of the best in the league. If Kansas City has a weakness, it is a porous run defense that Henry & the Titans can exploit.

A case can be made for Ryan Tannehill, in his first year with Tennessee after coming over from Miami via free agency, to be Comeback Player of The Year, coming off the bench to replace an ineffective Marcus Mariota early in the season. Tannehill's career has been rejuvenated in Tennessee, but I don't think it's enough to merit an award. A Super Bowl, maybe, but not Comeback Player of The Year.

Y'think maybe Kansas City is regretting losing some of their best defensive players, like Dee Ford (San Francisco) and Marcus Peters? Yep. That forces Patrick Mahomes and the offense to carry more of the load than necessary. It's one thing to come back from a 24-0 first quarter deficit vs. Houston like they did last week, but I don't think they can pull the same miracle two weeks running. It's a revenge game for the Chiefs, who lost to Tennessee earlier in the season.

Do I think the spread is too big? Yep. More proof that oddsmakers are morons.

Pick: Kansas City.

NFC Championship Game: Green Bay @ San Francisco (Fox):

The Niners won the first meeting this season, so it'd be a revenge game for the Packers as well. Lost in the narrative, except at this desk, is the fact that the two franchises have combined for 10 Super Bowl titles, and San Francisco would like to join Pittsburgh & New England in the pantheon of teams with 6 titles. So would Green Bay, but only one team is going to get there.

I think the storyline coming out of today will be how much State Farm will invest in their annoying advertising campaign with Aaron Rodgers & Patrick Mahomes, because they're going to the big dance.

Pick: Green Bay.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

YouTube Theatre: Jack Benny: Comedy in Bloom (1992)

Nearly 20 years after his passing, Jack Benny was celebrated in an HBO documentary.

Jack Benny: Comedy in Bloom, narrated by Tom Smothers, first aired in 1992, and has since resurfaced on PBS as recently as 2011. In the course of the special, Smothers traces Benny's career history, from his early days as a teenage violinist to the Navy to radio, movies, & television. Vintage clips from The Jack Benny Program (TV & radio versions), Make Room For Daddy, Dinah's Place, The Tonight Show, and elsewhere are sprinkled in with interviews with Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Dinah Shore, and some of the surviving writers of Benny's shows, plus archived interviews with Benny and Mel Blanc.



Forever 39, Benny left us the day after Christmas in 1974.

Rating: A.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Now the Mets are looking for a new manager. Again.

Carlos Beltran's 2nd tour of duty in Flushing is over before it really started.

Although he was cleared of any wrongdoing in the Houston Astros' 2017 cheating scandal, Beltran, realizing that the Mets were facing undue scrutiny just by hiring him as manager to replace Mickey Callaway, notified Mets management earlier today and said it would be better for all concerned if he stepped down as manager before spring training begins next month.

Beltran was a fan favorite in the course of 7 1/2 seasons with the Mets as a player (2005-11), but there were those in the fan base who were feeling salty about the managerial hire, especially since Beltran, like Callaway before him, had no managerial experience. The media has had their collective eyes on the Mets because, even though he'd been exonerated by Major League Baseball, Beltran was still guilty by reason of association. After Jeff Luhnow, AJ Hinch, & Alex Cora lost their jobs earlier this week, there was pressure on the Mets to do something.

Beltran did them a favor. He made the decision himself to step down, and walk away to save his career and his reputation.

Yahoo!'s Tim Brown and Fox/MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal were on top of the story as it was breaking.

Early word is that Luis Rojas, son of former Expos and Giants manager Felipe Alou, and brother of ex-Met Moises Alou, was the front-runner to take over as manager. Again, the Wilpon family is refusing to consider more experienced candidates in favor of pinching pennies. If they really wanted to hire a manager with zero experience, they could've just kept it in house.

Instead, former star player and current color analyst Keith Hernandez is finalizing a deal to remain with the team as part of the SNY/WPIX broadcast team. For someone who keeps preaching "fundies" (fundamentals) during telecasts, that should've been a sign that Hernandez, with the right kind of incentives, could've been persuaded to move downstairs to the dugout. The Mets could've had Joe Girardi, but he went to Philadelphia instead. All because the Wilpons are using the Jack Benny playbook in making business decisions.

Carlos Beltran walked away with his dignity intact, despite initially lying about his involvement in l'affaire Astros. Now, the Mets, Astros, & Red Sox have a little more than a month to find new managers, and put the scandal to rest.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Musical Interlude: Shotgun (1965)

From Hollywood A Go Go (not Hullabaloo as a YouTube commentator mistakenly assumed):

Jr. Walker & The All-Stars light up the stage with "Shotgun":

Weasel of The Week: Monica Cole

Regular readers of this blog will note that I've dropped the hammer on Westboro Baptist Church, out of Topeka, Kansas, which is a family-run operation that trades on hate instead of the Biblical doctrines.

But while the Phelps family, which has used Westboro Baptist as a bully pulpit, has all but disappeared, another haterizing "Christian" has earned a set of Weasel ears.

Rev. Donald Wildmon's American Family Association, founded and based in Tupelo, Mississippi, otherwise known as the birthplace of entertainment legend Elvis Presley, spun off something called One Million Moms a few years back. However, there's been plenty of blowback against One Million Moms, and with one good reason.

It's really just one mom, and a very angry one, at that.

Monica Cole isn't just the "spokeswoman" for One Million Moms. She IS One Million Moms. One woman with a haterizing agenda pretending that she has people backing her crusade. She has over 4,000 Twitter followers, and likely none of them realize this is a one person operation.

In recent years, Cole has targeted JC Penney (for employing Ellen DeGeneres as a commercial endorser), and shows like Glee and Lucifer.

So why does she lie? She wants attention, but she should be repenting for her continual lying. Intentional misrepresentation, bullying businesses, such as the Hallmark Channel, to push her agenda, add up to Cole being a con artist.

Cole's latest target is Burger King and their Impossible Whopper ads, promoting the plant based burger, which debuted in August. All because one consumer said "damn". Scope this commerical, and you'll see what I mean:



As with other media nannies like the Parents Television Council, Cole is railing because the language is being used when, presumably, "impressionable" children are watching. Sorry, but that ship sailed a long time ago. Today's kids are cursing like sailors at early ages, and their parents let them. That's today's society.

I'd like to see Cole do the impossible. Like appearing on To Tell The Truth. Until then, she is this week's Weasel. And well deserved.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

On The Air: Crisis on Infinite Earths (2019-20)

It's over. Savor it.

The CW's ambitious, ultra-loose adaptation of DC's 1985-6 maxiseries, Crisis on Infinite Earths, wrapped tonight in a 2-hour block to set the table for the second half of the season for the Arrow-verse family of series, which will grow exponentially next season.

Arrow consulting producer Marc Guggenheim, elevated back to executive producer this season, admitted that the building blocks began with season 1 of The Flash, leading to the first three chapters airing last month on Flash, Supergirl, & Batwoman, plus an interlude on Black Lightning. All four series have been renewed for next season already.

The core characters created by Marv Wolfman & George Perez back in 1985 are assembled. The producers also took major liberties by deciding that Lyla Michaels-Diggle (Audrey Marie Anderson) would be the Harbinger. Nash Wells, yet another variant on the Harrison Wells character from Flash, was set up to be the Pariah, who actually had a bigger role in the book than he did here. Tom Cavanaugh, who plays Wells, returned for the finale, but you'll have to see that On Demand or on the CW website to find out how that plays out.

Comics fans know what happened in the original story couldn't be duplicated for television. So, instead, the TV Crisis helps create a coda, if you will, for Arrow, which is wrapping after 8 seasons. Stephen Amell is moving on to new projects, but the Arrow legacy will live on in next year's Green Arrow & The Canaries, and that will be fleshed out in Arrow's final episode.

There were surprise guests galore, including Burt Ward, playing Dick Grayson for the first time in more than 50 years in primetime. Tom Welling & Erica Durance reprising as Clark Kent & Lois Lane from Smallville. In the finale, look for some ties to the DC Universe streaming service. That's all I can say for now.

Check out this trailer:



Normally, I'd wait to watch On Demand as my schedule allows, but not this time. And it was worth the time invested. Sometimes, when you don't have the tools you're supposed to, you make do.

Rating: A-.

Sports this 'n' that

On Monday, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred dropped the hammer on Houston manager AJ Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow, suspending them each a year for the sign stealing scandal that ultimately netted the Astros the World Series.

Now, MLB can't vacate the championship, nor can do they do that to 2018 winner Boston, whose manager, Alex Cora, came over after being a bench coach with Houston, and is said to be the ringleader, if ya will, of the sign stealers, using modern tech, which MLB strictly forbids. The Red Sox did the same things, it's being said, which means Cora's head is on the chopping block next after just two seasons with Boston.

Astros owner Jim Crane, one hour after Manfred's decision, dismissed Luhnow & Hinch, meaning Houston has to scramble to find a new manager in time for spring training, and, in all probability, so will Boston.

It's one thing if a runner on second can relay opposing signs if he can figure them out. That's been around since the invention of the game, practically. But using garbage cans, noise, modern technology? Nuh-uh. Not permitted.

Of course, there's already blowback among online commentators regarding Boston because, well, the perception is that there's a cheating culture due to the NFL's Patriots. Hinch & Luhnow seemed to look the other way, although Hinch busted a TV monitor, thinking that would stop the nonsense. Didn't work.

The Astros were also fined $5 million, the maximum financial penalty under MLB guidelines.

Tri-City Valleycats President Rick Murphy said it best when he described it as "a terrible day for baseball". Indeed, and it ain't over yet.

Newly hired Mets manager Carlos Beltran, who retired as a player after the '17 Series, won't be punished, because Manfred already decided that the players wouldn't be disciplined.

Update, 10:24 pm (ET): Cora has parted ways with Boston.
========================================
To the shock & surprise of absolutely no one, LSU won the College Football Playoff National title, 42-25, over defending champion Clemson, but there is some blowback because the game ended well after midnight in the east. Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow threw 5 touchdown passes, and ran for another, and Clemson's defense was left trying to figure out how to slow down the Bayou Bengals.

LSU defensive back Derek Stingley, Jr. has a connection to the 518. His father, Derek, Sr., spent four seasons with the Albany Firebirds in the Arena Football League, and was on the 'Birds' 1999 ArenaBowl title team.

Clemson will likely be back next season, but we'd all be better if another conference was represented in the title game. Southern fatigue, ya know?
=========================================
During the bloated halftime, they revealed the 11 greatest players in college football history:

11. Roger Staubach (Navy).
10 Gale Sayers (Kansas).
9. Barry Sanders (Oklahoma State).
8. Dick Butkus (Illinois).
7. Earl Campbell (Texas).
6. Red Grange (Illinois).
5. Jim Thorpe (Carlisle).
4. Archie Griffin (Ohio State).
3. Bo Jackson (Auburn).
2. Herschel Walker (Georgia).
1. Jim Brown (Syracuse).

Jackson & Butkus did not attend the ceremony. Sayers, Grange, & Thorpe were represented by family members. Butkus was also the only defensive player named to the list, though I think Grange & Thorpe were also two-way players. Staubach was the only quarterback among a sea of runners. Illinois was the only school to place two players on the list.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Football this 'n' that

Form held in the NFC divisional playoffs over the weekend, leaving the top two teams in the conference, San Francisco & Green Bay, franchises with 10 Super Bowl titles between them, to meet on January 19 at Levi's Stadium..

The 49ers' win on Saturday over Minnesota was a sort of coming out party for QB Jimmy Garoppolo, who has two rings from his time as Tom Brady's caddy in New England. Garoppolo only had 139 yards passing, with a TD and an interception, as the running game carried the Niners past a Minnesota defense that might've still be on an emotional high from upsetting New Orleans six days earlier.

It was, however, the last game for Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards, whose contract expired after the game, and offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, who reportedly is headed to Cleveland as their next head coach, replacing Freddie Kitchens.
================================
On Sunday, Aaron Rodgers threw a pair of touchdown passes to Davante Adams, Aaron Jones rushed for two more, and Green Bay continued its dominance over Seattle at Lambeau Field.

Some will say that Seattle coach Pete Carroll blundered again by going for two with his team down five in the fourth quarter. Russell Wilson was sacked on the ensuing play, and, for all intents & purposes, the game was over at that point. The idea was sound, to try to cut the deficit to three, and hope for another drive for either a game tying field goal or a winning touchdown. Seattle got neither.

Now, Seahawks fans have to wonder if Marshawn Lynch's comeback is over, or will he return next season, either to Seattle or with another team. Stay tuned.
===================================
Former Giants coach Pat Shurmur reportedly is headed to Denver to be their new offensive coordinator. Maybe these last two seasons have shown he was in over his head as head coach, or maybe John Elway sees something that Giants management didn't. Hmm.
=====================================
After a couple of seasons in the CBS booth, Tony Romo has caught the attention of ESPN, which may be looking to Romo to replace Anthony "Booger" McFarland as Joe Tessitore's partner on Monday Night Football. We wouldn't mind, as long as the contract stipulates that he also terminate his association with Corona Extra. Like that really did anything for Jon Gruden's career, did it now?
=====================================
All Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel has to do to motivate his team is show them his three Super Bowl rings from his Patriots days.

It's safe to say the Titans have peaked at the right time, having upset New England and Baltimore in back-to-back weeks.

To be honest, no one saw it coming on Saturday. Baltimore was completely outplayed in a 28-12 loss to Tennessee. Lamar Jackson, for all his talent, now is 0-2 in the postseason, and on Saturday night was clearly frustrated.

But, now, the task at hand for Vrabel and the Titans is to duplicate Saturday's performance, this time against another quarterback with a similar skill set to Jackson in Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes.

On Sunday, Mahomes and the Chiefs were down 24-0 in the first quarter vs. Houston. Then, everything just went the Chiefs' way, and they were going bananas in Kansas City.

The Chiefs scored seven unanswered touchdowns in the 2nd & 3rd quarters en route to a 51-31 win over Houston, avenging a loss to the Texans on the same field three months ago. The downside, though, is that they may not have tight end Travis Kelce, who caught three TD passes from Mahomes in the 2nd quarter, due to a hamstring injury. They won't know for sure until the end of the week about Kelce, but they'll have had time to study the Titans-Ravens films to figure out an answer to Dean Pees' defensive schemes.
=========================================
On back-to-back nights, reps from the Football Hall of Fame made surprise appearances in the CBS & Fox studios. Coaches-turned-analysts Bill Cowher (CBS) & Jimmy Johnson (Fox) have been selected to the Hall of Fame Class of 2020, and the shocking announcements came right out of the Ralph Edwards This is Your Life playbook.

In Johnson's case, his former QB, Fox game analyst Troy Aikman, was watching on the monitor in Green Bay, and he and his former coach both were emotional. Johnson has cut back on his Fox NFL Sunday duties this season, which is why Tony Gonzalez and Peter Schrager have gotten more time of late on Sundays & Thursdays, and the golden Hall of Fame jacket may be his golden ticket to full retirement.

Congratulations to both Cowher & Johnson.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Celebrity Rock: Kookie, Kookie, Lend me Your Comb (1959)

From The Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show:

Hollywood knew what to do about the slang used by young people of the day back in the late 50's. First, there was Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver) on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. And, then, there is Gerald Kookson III, or Kookie (Edd Byrnes) on 77 Sunset Strip.

While Denver did do some recording unrelated to Dobie, Byrnes cashed in on his TV alter-ego, with the help of Warner Bros. stablemate Connie Stevens (Hawaiian Eye). Here's "Kookie, Kookie (Lend me Your Comb)":



I think the pre-recorded finger snapping comes from Strip's theme song. Now, don't Edd & Connie make a cute couple?

In memory of Byrnes, who passed away earlier this week.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Musical Interlude: Limelight (1981)

The Canadian group Rush had been together for more than a decade, quietly building a following here in the US, when they released "Moving Pictures" in 1981. Drummer-songwriter Neil Peart composed all of the tracks, including "Limelight", which illustrated the frustrations of being in the spotlight.



When MTV arrived on the scene a few months later, they opted to use a concert clip for "Limelight", and I have no memory of seeing this conceptual clip before today.

In memory of Peart, 67, who passed away due to a brain tumor.

NFL divisional playoff predictions

We were 2-2 last week, and now, we're on to the divisional round.

Today:

Minnesota @ San Francisco (4:30 kickoff, NBC):

The Vikings caught a lucky break in overtime at New Orleans when the real life Mr. Magoo, Al Riveron, refused to call pass interference on either side on the game winning touchdown catch by Kyle Rudolph. Bear in mind that the Vikings, if they reach the big game, have never won the Super Bowl, and that might be a mountain Kirk Cousins may not be ready to climb just yet.

Coming off the bye after winning the NFC West, San Francisco wants to return to the glory days of the 80's. It's been about 25 years since their last title. For quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, it's a chance to prove once and for all that New England made a tragic mistake dealing him away a couple of years back. After all the officiating gaffes this season, this game in particular bears close scrutiny. However, I don't think we'd need to worry about that today.

Pick: San Francisco.

Tennessee @ Baltimore (8, CBS):

It's been 20 years since the Titans were in the Super Bowl, and were just inches away from a title, only to lose to the then-St. Louis Rams. Mike Vrabel's club eliminated the Evil Empire, and will look to build on the momentum from that upset six days past. However, Lamar Jackson is not Tom Brady, and the Ravens, looking for their third title, are mostly young and hungry. A win here, and they'll likely see old friend Terrell Suggs and Kansas City in the title game.

The run game for each side is about even. Baltimore has Mark Ingram, Jr., son of the former Giants receiver. Tennessee has Derrick Henry. Both were star runners at Alabama, but the common threads end there. I can feel Chris Berman practicing his Keith Jackson impersonation in case Henry breaks off a big touchdown run.

As it stands, it will be a track meet. Ryan Tannehill, try to keep up.

Pick: Baltimore.

Sunday:

Houston @ Kansas City (CBS): Part 1 of the State Farm doubleheader sees Patrick Mahomes lead the Chiefs against the Texans. Houston won the first meeting, but that means the Chiefs have revenge on their minds. They say the Chiefs have a porous run defense. The offense balances that out. Houston stupidly gave up on Jadaveon Clowney (Seattle), but they do have JJ Watt back, which will help the defensive front. Personally, I'd like to see Watt on offense at the goal line, just for fun.

The bye week has allowed Mahomes plenty of time to heal from injury. That's bad news for Houston.

Pick: Kansas City.

Seattle @ Green Bay (Fox):

They're forecasting snow in Green Bay today, and the Packers have already put the call out for volunteers to clear Lambeau in time for the game tomorrow. When you're the only community owned franchise in the NFL, you can afford to do things like that.

With the win last week at Philadelphia, Seattle is now 8-1 on the road this season, so the weather doesn't bother them all that much. While Aaron Rodgers has found his big game mojo, all those commercials for State Farm the last few years have been too much of a distraction at the wrong time. If Russell Wilson wants to be distracted, all he has to do is play one of his wife Ciara's CD's.....! Clowney, I think, will introduce himself to Rodgers early and often.

What I think the league wants is a rubber match between Seattle and San Francisco. Wish granted.

Pick: Seattle.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Musical Interlude: Don't Get Me Wrong (1986)

Pretenders singer-guitarist Chrissie Hynde must've been a fan of The Avengers growing up in Ohio.

How else to explain the video for "Don't Get Me Wrong", the first single from the Pretenders' 1986 CD, "Get Close"? Hynde assumes the part of Emma Peel, even though there's also classic footage of Diana Rigg (Emma), along with Patrick Macnee.

"Wrong" peaked at #10 on the Hot 100.



Update, 1/12/2020: Following is a version most of you have probably seen on MTV. I was reminded of this by frequent correspondent Magicdog. Here, the Avengers footage is gone, and there's a short concert sequence, plus Chrissie lip-synching some of the lyrics in front of the camera...

Dunce Cap Award: Garrison Lassiter

Who is Garrison Lassiter, you might ask?

Image result for Dimwit Terrytoons

"Duhhhh, yeah, who is he, anyway?"

A minor league washout with the Yankees who is suing the team for $22.6 million, claiming the team conspired to keep him off the major league roster, rather than groom him to be the successor to shortstop Derek Jeter.

A career .244 hitter in the  minors, Lassiter batted a paltry .195 with the Yankees' Tampa farm, but is in denial over his shortcomings. He compared himself to the Dodgers' Corey Seager and former NFL quarterback Brandon Weeden (Cleveland, Dallas). Lassiter has also filed suit against a North Carolina training complex owned by former NFL star Ricky Proehl, just because he didn't get a tryout after working out there.

Image result for Dimwit Terrytoons

"Uh, there's no guarantee he'd be invited, isn't there?"

You're right, Dimwit, there's no guarantee, but Lassiter didn't do anyone any favors by assigning Lou Gehrig's nickname, the Iron Horse, to Orioles icon Cal Ripken, Jr. in an e-mail to a Raliegh newspaper. He also stupidly filed suit against the Cincinnati Reds 13 months ago, claiming discrimination for 3 straight years.

Here's the truth, even if Lassiter is loathe to acknowledge it. He wasn't that good in the minds of the Yankee brass, if not also 29 other big league clubs. He went to college in 2013, and redshirted at Miami, but never saw the field.

This week's Dunce Cap winner needs to do one thing. Actually, two things.

1. Withdraw the lawsuits, because they're a waste of time.
2. As Screamin' A. Cosell (Stephen A. Smith) might say, get off the weed.

Oh, and a third thing.

3. See a psychologist. It's obvious Lassiter is mentally ill, from this desk.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Buck Henry (1930-2020)

As a filmmaker, he was a two-time Oscar nominee ("The Graduate", "Heaven Can Wait"). Together with Mel Brooks, he gave the world the hit spy spoof, Get Smart, which became as iconic as the genre it mocked.

But Buck Henry could also act, and was very good, even though any awards that came his way were mostly for his work as a writer.

Buck was a frequent guest host in the early years of Saturday Night Live, and even if he wasn't booked to be a host, he'd still pitch in on sketches.

Sadly, a month after his 89th birthday, Buck passed away Wednesday at Cedars Sinai Hospital.

I thought about pulling up a skit I found on YouTube where Buck, Tim Conway, & Jim Nabors were parodying folk music, but then I decided instead on a sample of his work as Dick Lemon, father of Liz (Tina Fey), on 30 Rock........



Rest in peace.

Musical Interlude: In Your Eyes (1986-9)

"In Your Eyes" was the last single released from Peter Gabriel's 1986 CD, "So". Why did it take so long? Because the song was included on the soundtrack to Cameron Crowe's directorial debut, "Say Anything", on an eclectic soundtrack that also included Fishbone, Living Colour, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The concert clip is the second of two videos for "Eyes", and features Yousouf N'Dour, who joins Gabriel on the chorus.




Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Of Recent Vintage: Ally McBeal (1997)

Hollywood has mined courtrooms for drama and comedy in equal doses over the years, just never at the same time.

And, then, there was Ally McBeal.

For five seasons, Ally anchored Fox's Monday lineup. To categorize it as quirky would be a gross understatement. Celebrity guests. Dancing babies. Periodic crossovers with ABC's The Practice (from the same studio). Oh, it's also been described as surreal, but unique makes more sense.

Ally (Calista Flockhart) joins a Boston law firm (hence the Practice crossovers), only to discover her ex-beau is working there, too. I'd like to think they could've used the comic strip Cathy as partial inspiration for Ally, but what do I know?

In this clip, Ally and pals get down with their funkier sides at a Barry White concert.....



The supporting cast, for lack of a better term, was eclectic. Robert Downey, Jr. joined the show toward the end of the run. There's also Peter MacNichol ("Ghostbusters"), Lucy Liu, Jane Krakowski, and Courtney Thorne-Smith (ex-Melrose Place), among others. And this wasn't an Aaron Spelling production, mind you.

This wasn't for me. No rating, just a public service.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Musical Interlude: Every Kinda People (1978-92)

Robert Palmer had his first American top 20 hit in 1978 with "Every Kinda People", off the album, "Double Fun". Palmer would reissue "People" on a 1992 greatest hits compilation CD, and, unless I miss my guess, that is where we get the following music video:

A little of this and a little of that

After missing out on Mike McCarthy (signed with Dallas), and amid rumors they were interested in New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, the Giants instead went for Patriots WR/special teams coach Joe Judge, and signed him today.

I'm sorry, but were they paying attention to the struggles New England had with its receiving corps this season? Yes, they lost to New England (likely screwed by referee bias in Foxborough), but did they learn anything from the opposing sideline? Apparently not.

We know owners John Mara & Bob Tisch can do better than this, but this reeks of the Wilpons, owners of the Mets, taking the cheap route in this case. They had to remember that McDaniels ankled the Colts a few years back to stay with New England at the last second, and perhaps feared the same thing would happen to them.

Like they say in the AT&T commercials, just ok is not ok.
=======================================
Meanwhile, Carolina signed Baylor coach Matt Ruhle to be their next coach after jettisoning Ron Rivera last month (Rivera has since landed in Washington). Seven year deal.

Here's the thing about owners. They see a hot commodity in college, and wave some money. Or, in the Giants' case, they wave the money at a lesser known assistant. Today's flavor of the month usually ends up in the bargain bin in short order.

There have been college coaches who've failed in the NFL, including Alabama guru Nick Saban, who famously flopped in Miami, and Steve Spurrier, who bombed in Washington. Ruhle has to adjust to working the pro game all over again. He was a Giants assistant for about 15 minutes a few years ago.
======================================
Turning to hockey, the NHL's Nashville Predators ditched coach Peter Laviolette Monday with the team stuck in a funk, having lost five straight. The Predators were in the Stanley Cup finals not too long ago, but these are the sort of knee-jerk reactions owners make with the theme of "what have you done for us lately?". Apparenly, patience is in short supply, even in hockey.
=======================================
Once upon a time, Jim Bakker was one of those televangelists whose cable series, The PTL Club, was here, there, and everywhere. But, it all fell apart after it was revealed he'd cheated on then-wife Tammy Faye with secretary Jessica Hahn. All Hahn did with her 15 minutes of fame was show up in a music video with Sam Kinison and a few heavy metal icons of the period.

Today, Bakker, having already demonstrated a willingness to violate the Ten Commandments, has shamed himself yet again, per the Huffington Post's YouTube channel:



"Love" Trump? Like, seriously?

That is tantamount to an invitation to worship Trump. The media takes issue with the perception of Trump's narcissism, and here's Bakker, whose best years were, in fact, long ago, enabling said narcissism. I've long said I respect the office of the President, but I'm not entirely sold on Trump, and this ain't helping.

Given Bakker's past, he falls closer to the side of Joe Isuzu than Billy Graham these days, and that means he gets a set of Weasel ears this week.

Monday, January 6, 2020

What Might've Been: The Yank (1960)

Andrew Fenady created The Yank as a companion for The Rebel. ABC was interested, but when they wanted to combine the two for the 1961-2 season, Mark Goodson & Bill Todman balked, and shopped Yank to NBC. ABC answered by cancelling Rebel.

As it was, NBC wasn't interested, and so the pilot you're about to see never aired.

James Drury, two years away from revisiting The Virginian, this time in a hit series for Universal/Revue and NBC, headlines as Matthew Dorn, who returns to Columbia, South Carolina, only to find hostility.....



Would this have worked? I don't think so. Good try, though.

Rating: B-.

NFL this 'n' that

The Dallas Cowboys finally said goodbye to coach Jason Garrett on Sunday, ending weeks of speculation. Owner/GM Jerry Jones is already in the midst of an informal search for a new coach, having already interviewed Marvin Lewis (formerly with Cincinnati) and former Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy, who's also on the Giants' radar after Big Blue dumped Pat Shurmur last week.

I don't see Lewis or McCarthy landing in Dallas, though. Surely, the 'Boys have enough assistants with qualifications for a promotion, and they should have been interviewed first if Jones was that sure he was dumping Garrett, who some say could wind up with the Giants, though I doubt that, too.

Update, 1:57 pm (ET): McCarthy has been hired as the new Cowboys head coach.
====================================
In the space of 24 hours, three divisional champions have been eliminated from the NFL playoffs.

New Orleans & Philadelphia followed New England out the door Sunday, but there is again a great deal of to-do in N'awlins about the Keystone Kops-level officiating at the end of the game vs. Minnesota.

NFL Director of Officiating Alberto Riveron, himself a former game official, claimed via Twitter that his staff in New York reviewed the controversial game winning TD pass from Vikings QB Kirk Cousins to Kyle Rudolph, and said that while Rudolph & Saints DB DJ Williams each could've been called for pass interference, there wasn't enough contact to actually warrant a flag.

Roughly translated.......



We all know Riveron went to the Quincy Magoo Academy of Officiating, but this is ridiculous.

Let's just hope Riveron never has to leave his cushy office in New York and travel to New Orleans any time soon.
==============================================
Of the four games played, three home teams went down to defeat. Of those, Philadelphia was the lone underdog, so maybe the oddsmakers actually knew something headed into the game against Seattle for a change. The Eagles were held to three Jake Elliott field goals in the loss to the Seahawks, even as backup QB Josh McCown tried to turn back the clock on his career to save the Eagles' season.

The NFC Divisional Round is now set:

Saturday: Minnesota @ San Francisco (NBC).
Sunday: Seattle @ Green Bay (Fox).

Predictions on Friday.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Spaghetti-O's at a carnival? (1974)

A few years ago, Campbell Soup Company retired the Franco-American brand, rebranding the imprint's most popular product, Spaghetti-O's, under Campbell's, along with the rest of the F-A line.

Back in 1974, the company's advertising agency put some kids on a carnival merry-go-round to eat the product. Background music by Barry Manilow.



A year later, Manilow, of course, was on top of the charts with "Mandy", and he never had to write another commercial jingle.

How does it feel, when your tricks are used against you?

This is why I always use the disclaimer that I could be wrong when I make my predictions.

As New England quarterback Tom Brady is trying to fight off Father Time, in addition to his NFL opponents, coach Bill Belichick learned a painful lesson Saturday night. He finally found a "student" who knew how to use the "teacher"'s tricks against him.

Mike Vrabel is now 2-0, not including a pre-season loss in August, vs. Belichick, as the Tennessee Titans eliminated the AFC East kingpins, 20-13, the Patriots' 4th loss in their final six games this season.

The trick in question? The Titans, up by one in the fourth quarter, took three consecutive offensive penalties on 4th down to kill the clock. Belichick used the same stunt in a blowout win over the Jests earlier in the season, but wasn't too thrilled that Vrabel decided to serve up a little karmic justice.

Belichick used the time-killing stunt while up, 33-0. Bullies do that, taking advantage of a weaker opponent. Vrabel knew the risk of using the same stunt against his former coach, but the idea was, well, let's see how he likes it when it's done to him. Bullies don't like it when their victims fight back, you see. New England could hardly be considered weak, though they did take advantage of a soft early season schedule, likely manipulated by owner Bob Kraft to go out to an 8-0 start. However, as strong as the defense was, the offense, ravaged by injuries all season, and too dependent on Brady instead of a diversified offense, became too predictable in the second half of the season.

With both AFC East teams eliminated, Buffalo having fallen in overtime to Houston, 22-19, the divisional round is now set. The Titans will now try to shut down Baltimore and presumptive MVP Lamar Jackson, while the Texans play at Kansas City. Watch the ratings go up.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Musical Interlude: (I've Been) Lonely Too Long (1967)

The Young Rascals, more commonly known today as The Rascals (they had to amend the band name due to conflicting issues with the Harmonica Rascals in the 60's), scored with the peppy "(I've Been) Lonely Too Long" in 1967. Still gets plenty of airplay today on oldies channels.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Wild Card weekend predictions

Ah, the silly season begins tomorrow in the NFL. In a quirk of scheduling, both AFC games will be played tomorrow, with the NFC on Sunday. Usually, there's one for each conference each day.

Saturday:

Buffalo @ Houston:

Buffalo cannot go in just thinking they're happy to be here. They had the East in striking distance, then lost to New England and the Jets in the final three weeks of the regular season. Houston, meanwhile, has had the same problem as Cincinnati in recent years. Win the division, but go no further than the first playoff game. That has to change.

Then, it becomes a question of who wants it more. Buffalo is young and hungry. The Texans are battle tested, despite their struggles in the playoffs, and they get defensive lineman JJ Watt back from injured reserve. That's the difference.

Pick: Houston.

Tennessee @ New England:

Ever since they lost to Miami on Sunday, the media has reminded us that:

A) New England is in the Wild Card round for the first time since 2009.
B) The Patriots have never won a Super Bowl after playing the Wild Card round.

There is motivation for the Patriots, however. There's the small matter of a little payback to be handed out to Tennessee and coach Mike Vrabel, who won three Super Bowls as a player with New England. Vrabel, in his first game as an opposing coach vs. his former club, beat the Patriots in 2018. Patriots coach Bill Belichick might've been a wee bit distracted by being on the panel for the NFL's 100th anniversary all-time team, as seen on NFL Network. However, he'll look for any small detail to motivate his club.

Pick: New England.

Sunday:

Minnesota @ New Orleans:

The Saints' Vindication tour begins here. Any call that goes against them will have Who Dat Nation up in arms, but a win here, and the Saints will meet Green Bay in the divisional round. Minnesota wouldn't mind another crack at the Pack, but it just isn't in the cards.

Pick: New Orleans.

Seattle @ Philadelphia:

Ah, the absurdity of a division champ with a worse record than their Wild Card opponent. Seattle, desperate for help at running back, lured Marshawn Lynch & Robert Turbin out of retirement for last week's loss to San Francisco and the playoff run. However, Seattle's Achilles' heel is and always has been coach Pete Carroll, who has been known to make bad decisions at the most inopportune times.

Philadelphia had to work for their division title, literally, given how weak the NFC East was. Like, it was so bad, I'd bet a few college teams could've beaten the NFC East. The division is so weak, Philadelphia will be the only home team to lose this weekend.

Pick: Seattle.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

The Munsters shill for Cheerios (1965)

Here's what appears to be an in-show ad from The Munsters for Cheerios. Eddie (Butch Patrick) narrates, with Herman (Fred Gwynne) adding on at the end.

On The Shelf: A mishmash of marketing oversaturation

With "Birds of Prey (& The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)" due in theatres next month, DC continues to over-promote Harley on the shelves. Like, hasn't anyone figured out yet that if you milk the golden goose until it runs dry, it ultimately depreciates in value?

After all, Marvel did their fair share of going overboard with "hot" characters (i.e. Wolverine, Spider-Man), too, but with the marketing departments at the publishers, or, more specifically, their corporate partners (i.e. WB, Disney), it's all about making as much money as possible as quick as possible.

Take, for example, a trade paperback compilation carrying the title, Harley Quinn & The Birds of Prey. None of the stories inside come from any iteration of Birds of Prey, and the oldest entry in the lot comes from the mid-90's revival of Showcase spotlighting Black Canary, but also co-starring Lois Lane. A Harley solo story from one of her earlier series leads off, and has her crossing swords with the second Ventriloquist and Scarface. Seems the original Ventriloquist, Arnold Wesker, had befriended Harley at Arkham some time back, and she ain't digging his replacement. The upside to Harley's past as a psychologist is that it allows her to do some deductive reasoning of her own.

The rest of the volume is a mishmash, including a chapter of a Nightwing-Huntress miniseries that predates the much beloved Grayson solo series from a few years back, and the first half of a Renee Montoya-centric 2-parter by Greg Rucka from Gotham Central. This mix is because Renee, Huntress, & Canary will join Harley in the movie, but there's no real connection here. Caveat Emptor, kids.

Rating: C.
=================================
So I finally scored a copy of Marvel Comics #1000, just for fun. All this does is set up the current 1-off, Incoming, and anything following in its wake related to the latest iteration of the Masked Raider, in a series of short pieces by Al Ewing. Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale reunite to revive, for one page, the 60's humor book, Not Brand Ecch, and you get healthy doses of the usual suspects (i.e. Spider-Man, Deadpool, X-Men). Otherwise, a vanity project that won't make much money in the secondary market.

Rating: C.
================================
Hot on the heels of Archie Meets Batman '66 several months back, DC & Archie Comics collaborated again, this time by sending Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy to Riverdale to meet up with Betty & Veronica. It would've been just fine, thank you, had Harley's creator, Paul Dini, wrote this himself, but nope. Marc Andreyko co-wrote it, and the two of them threw in almost everything, except for, of course, Batman. The variant covers for each issue, including one by Adam Hughes, are not quite the saving grace, but since this series ended, Betty & Veronica are currently in a crossover ongoing with Dynamite's licensed lethal ladies, Red Sonja & Vampirella (who are being overmarketed at Dynamite, by the way).

Rating: B-.
=================================
IDW's second GLOW miniseries, GLOW vs. The Babyface, puts some focus on not only social commentary, but some predictable tropes as well. Actress Aimee Garcia (Lucifer) and retired WWE women's champion-turned-best-selling author A. J. Mendez (nee AJ Lee) spin the yarn of a supposed runaway who's trying to weasel her way into the lives of the cast of GLOW. However, when the youth's mom gets involved....!

Rating: B.
===================================
In the final analysis, DC's Event Leviathan ended with 70's Manhunter Mark Shaw revealed as the villain of the piece. A 1-off, due in February, continues the story, which has zero connection to the Leviathan organization appearing on Supergirl this season. Meh.

Final rating: B.
====================================
The original Question returns in a Black Label miniseries from DC. Subtitled, "The Deaths of Vic Sage", the story by Jeff Lemire purports to remind that, apparently, Sage was rebooted in the New 52 as some sort of immortal who keeps coming back to life. Artists Denys Cowan & Bill Sienkiewicz, who drew the first Question series for DC, written by Denny O'Neil, back in the late 80's, reunite for this one, which makes the story a little more palatable.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

What Might've Been: The Cara Williams Show (1964)

Academy Award nominee Cara Williams, two years after Pete & Gladys ended its run, returned to CBS in 1964 with a self-titled sitcom that lasted just one season. Now, why was that? The only competition came from the first half of Burke's Law on ABC (2nd season) and movies on NBC.

Maybe this sample will help. Una Merkel guest stars, and, if you look quick, Howard McNear (The Andy Griffith Show) makes a brief, uncredited cameo appearance.



Frank Aletter would resurface two years later with It's About Time, then shifted to Saturday mornings with the serial, Danger Island, as part of The Banana Splits, co-starring with Ronnie Troup and a young Jan-Michael Vincent. Cara Williams would land a few guest roles here and there before retiring.

No rating.

Sports this 'n' that

Happy New Year to one and all.

The coaching merry-go-round has already started in the NFL.

Two coaches (Jay Gruden, Ron Rivera) were dismissed in-season, and less than 48 hours after San Francisco claimed the NFC West in beating Seattle, two more were bounced.

As expected, Pat Shurmur was bounced by the Giants after 2 seasons, going 9-23. You had to know things were bad when the Jets, after losing the annual pre-season game, avenged the loss in the regular season while going 3-1 against the NFC East, and that Gang Green had a better overall record than Big Blue. Rivera, the defensive genius who ran out of magic in Carolina, is interviewing for the Washington job, rather than give the Giants a sniff.

However, management has more faith in GM Dave Gettleman, hence retaining him for another year. For now.

Update, 4:04 pm (ET): Rivera has been hired by Washington, and will bring former Oakland & Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio with him.

In Cleveland, Freddie Kitchens was sacked after one full season as head coach. You'll recall he replaced Hue Jackson in 2018. The only positive is that the Browns didn't finish in the basement of the AFC North (Cincinnati did). The Browns are an improving team, even if they do have some problem children giving the organization some black eyes (we're looking at you, Myles Garrett).

Everyone assumed Doug Marrone was done in Jacksonville. Nope. The Khan family decided to retain Marrone for 2020. Shad Khan runs football operations while son Tony hob-nobs with his wrestling pals as a partner in All Elite Wrestling. Between the two of them, though, there's enough confidence to believe Marrone can get the Jaguars back on the right track, a couple of years removed from the AFC title game.
=================================
Wrestling fans have one less outlet for their fix.

AXS-TV, which was home to New Japan Pro Wrestling, the revived Women of Wrestling, and Impact, is now under the control of Canadian-based Anthem Sports & Entertainment, which runs Impact Wrestling. The network announced that they were severing their ties with New Japan, meaning that if you were planning on a viewing party for, say for example, Wrestle Kingdom, taking place January 5, and assuming it would air on AXS on January 11, you're, unfortunately, S-O-L.

Under Anthem, Impact Wrestling has transformed into must-watch programming, even though some of the same creative minds (i.e. Scott D'Amore) are back working for the promotion in backstage roles only. However, AXS is a premium channel here in the home district, so we look at excerpts on YouTube when we can.

Where Anthem has made a mistake is not even trying to negotiate any sort of a working agreement between Impact and New Japan, even though several wrestlers on the Impact roster, such as Michael Elgin, have appeared for New Japan in the past (Elgin left New Japan when he left Ring of Honor). New Japan fans will have to rely on Fite-TV & New Japan World until New Japan can make a deal with a new American broadcast partner.
===================================
We all know they treat college football like a religion in the south.

They also go stir crazy when a native son ends up playing for a rival school in a neighboring state.

Case in point: Travis Etienne, star running back for defending national champion Clemson, and his mom have gotten death threats from LSU fans ahead of the title game, taking place January 13. The Etiennes live in Louisiana, and Travis, apparently, is being branded a traitor by the natives in Cajun Country. One anonymous idiot suggested that the Etiennes had 24 hours to pack up and leave Louisiana. Nothing doing.

LSU coach Ed Ogeron, for his part, admitted that they fumbled the recruiting process with Travis Etienne, such that by the time he'd made a full visit to the LSU campus, his mind was made up, in Ogeron's opinion.

To sum things up, some of these jerks had to have looked up the Etiennes' phone number online in order to contact them to post death threats.

Image result for Dimwit Terrytoons

"Now, that's not nice!"

Yep, the good ol' boys gone way wrong down Louisiana way get the Dunce Caps this week. Collectively, they're as dumb as a man can come, but they don't care. With Alabama, long the standard bearer for the SEC, out of the picture, the Cajun Crazies think LSU has been anointed as the next national champion. As ESPN's Lee Corso would say, however, not so fast, my friends. There's still a game to be played, twelve days from now.

After a record-setting performance vs. Oklahoma four days ago, LSU QB Joe Burrow, the Heisman Trophy winner, doesn't need these clowns throwing shade on the big game, just because they're a few fries shy of a Happy Meal.

Lesson learned: It's never a good idea to be on your cell phone when drunk, which is probably when these idiots made their hollow threats.