Thursday, April 30, 2020

YouTube Theatre: The Bread Special (1978)

Bread produced a string of hits between 1970-7, including "Make it With You", "If", and "Guitar Man" (not to be confused with the Jerry Reed composition of the same name that was a hit for Reed and for Elvis Presley) before singer David Gates scored his first solo hit with the title song from the movie, "The Goodbye Girl".

In March 1978, the band flew to London to record a concert special for the BBC. Almost all the hits are here, plus a cover of Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally".

A little of this and a little of that

The New York Racing Association (NYRA) firmly believes they can run races without fans at Belmont and Saratoga.

While Governor Andrew Cuomo hasn't given the green light to open up Saratoga for its summer meet, set for mid-July through Labor Day, or to Belmont, other tracks around the country are operating on limited schedules, and without fans. Those tracks include Gulfstream Park & Tampa Bay Downs in Florida, Remington Park, a quarterhorse track, in Nebraska, and Will Rogers Downs in Oklahoma. NYRA is figuring on picking up betting revenues online, just like Off Track Betting. Stay tuned.
Feeling restless, President Trump, according to CBS Radio, is planning on traveling again, as early as next week, as he wants to reopen the country. National guidelines to guard against coronavirus expire today, though states have their own guidelines in place.

For example, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has extended shelter-in-place until May 18, three days after New York's current guidelines are set to expire. Some states have already reopened in stages, but whether it's desperation or recklessness, innocent lives remain at risk if the guidelines are relaxed or ended across the board.

A rally is scheduled for today at the Capital in Albany, where Mayor Kathy Sheehan is trying to discourage curiosity seekers from getting near the event. Traffic along the vicinity of the Capital will be closed for the duration of the event.

In Trump's case, he is trying to rally his base for his re-election campaign, but the question is whether or not enough damage has been done to his administration with the perceptions of how he's handled COVID-19.
If you're headed to a bank today, you might see a giant yellow sign posted on the door that doesn't belong.

An anonymous activist or group of activists, taking their cues from the UK's Extinction Rebellion, have posted signs at banks and other businesses, declaring that these businesses should be closed. The activists here are railing against big business, claiming they're being enabled by the banks. The hook is the phrase "Closed For Good", in large block letters, in the center of the poster. From a distance, people will think the banks, for example, have suddenly closed, but upon further examination, that's not the case.

We don't know who's doing this, or why they have to be so secretive, but they're actually doing more harm than good with deceptive "advertising". If you see one of these posters, before the banks open, take it down, and either trash it, or take it to the police. I'm pretty certain bank cameras can identify the party responsible for posting these signs in the first place.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Major League Baseball considers a 1 year realignment plan that's too crazy to even work

Here's how desperate the Lords of Baseball are to get the 2020 season underway.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, a temporary realignment plan is being considered so that they can start the regular season in June. The twist? The two leagues, National & American, would be merged together, division by division, in 3 10-team divisions.

Yeah, it's weird. The Mets & Yankees in the same division. Ditto for the Cubs & White Sox, Angels & Dodgers, taking away the uniqueness of their annual interleague series. Another twist is that there will not be any inter-division games to save on travel and minimalize the risk of another wave of COVID-19.

In other words, in order to meet the goal of a maximum of, say, 110 games, each team would play the others in their division anywhere from 11-13 times. Under normal circumstances, you would have teams meeting their divisional opponents 18-19 times a year, 6-7 against the teams in the other divisions.

Had the schedule remained intact this year, the NL East would've met the AL West, for example, plus their territorial rivals in the opposite league. Would fans in say, Ohio, stomach 11-13 games between the Indians and Reds? Or how about Tampa Bay vs. Miami? You wouldn't want to have interleague play for 2-3 years after this.

They're also talking about extended playoffs. Gotta make sure you maximize that almighty dolla-dolla bill, y'all, for the networks and advertisers.

Roughly translated, the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals have to navigate an even rougher mine field in order to repeat. And if teams expected to contend (i.e. Mets, Phillies) get out of the gate slowly, the media will castrate this idea and call for Commissioner Rob Manfred's head. Trust me, that will happen.

At least it beats Scott "20 Mule Team" Boras' stupid idea of extending the season to Christmas......

Monday, April 27, 2020

What Might've Been: Vicki! (1992)

Vicki Lawrence, with Mama's Family and a stint hosting Win, Lose, or Draw behind her, took a shot at hosting a talk show in the early 90's.

It was clear Lawrence didn't want to step into the tabloid cesspool that was beginning to overcome daytime television. She wanted to be more along the lines of, say for example, Oprah Winfrey, rather than Jerry Springer.

However, Vicki! lasted for 2 seasons due mostly to backstage tensions after Lawrence was given more creative freedom. We've previously shown a clip from one episode, in which Vicki teamed with Reba McEntire to duet on a hit they each had, "The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia". This time, we have a complete episode devoted to wrestling, featuring talent from World Championship Wrestling. Featured are then-Minnesota mayor Jesse Ventura, Missy Hyatt, and the late Rick Rude. Watch for when Vicki decides to get in on the action......

I remember seeing this particular episode, as it was promoted on WCW programming. Otherwise, this wouldn't have been worth the time. I just wasn't into talk shows anymore by then.

Rating: B.

Remember Sam Breakstone? (1977)

Commercials for Breakstone's cottage cheese & sour cream, especially the sour cream, were in heavy rotation on NYC television in the 70's, not so much on broadcast television in upstate, where I live.

Actor Michael Vale, better known now for his many ads for Dunkin Donuts (now simply Dunkin') in the 80's, portrayed persnickety Sam Breakstone, a perfectionist who had to make sure his sour cream, in this case, was just right. 

Breakstone is now part of Mondelez International after that company bought out Kraft a number of years back.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Musical Interlude: Flowers on The Wall (1965)

From The Porter Wagoner Show:

The Statler Brothers perform their 1965 classic, "Flowers on The Wall".

In memory of bass vocalist Harold Reid, 80, who passed away Friday from kidney failure complications.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Weasel of The Week: Pat Robertson

Well, you knew this was going to happen.

Every time there is some sort of disaster (i.e. hurricanes), or the current coronavirus pandemic, evangelist Pat Robertson will use his TV pulpit on The 700 Club, seen weekdays on Freeform due to a deal made when Robertson sold the Family Channel to Fox in the late 90's, which Disney inherited when they bought the then-Fox Family Channel, to claim that this is because of the perceived sins in this nation today, such as same-sex marriage and abortion.

As you can see, time has not been kind to Robertson, who seems to think the Old Testament rules still apply to today's society, when the New Testament tells of how Jesus rewrote those rules, essentially, when he was crucified on the cross for everyone's sins. We live today in a more inclusive society that embraces the diversity of cultures. As has been noted here in the past, homosexuality, and, by extension, same-sex marriage, would be labeled under fornication in the Bible.

What Robertson is doing, yet again, is throwing the country under a bus because of that inclusiveness, claiming it's the reason for COVID-19. It's not. He said the same thing about Hurricanes Harvey, Katrina, and Superstorm Sandy, that they were the result of the wrath of God. Robertson's doctrines are rooted, according to the Huffington Post piece, in the Southern Baptist Convention, but he's gone way off the beaten path. If you believe some sources, COVID-19 was a product of science gone wrong. Human error taken to the nth power, if you will.

Thus, we are endowing Robertson with the dreaded Weasel ears.

Reading between the lines of President Trump's threat to the Postal Service

During his daily briefing at the White House on Thursday, President Trump warned that the United States Postal Service would not get a $10 million dollar loan from the Treasury Department unless it agreed to jack up rates for online retail giant Amazon in particular, and probably other online retailers in general.

Those retailers could easily move their business to FedEx or United Parcel Service or any other service, but let's read between the lines here. Amazon is owned by Jeffrey Bezos, the richest man in the US, if not the world. Bezos' Washington Post is one of the media outlets that has been characterized by Trump as "fake news" because they've written some damaging articles on him since he began his run to the White House.

Classless Crybaby Donald Trump Wants to Be America's Complainer in ...

"Waaaaaahhhh!!! Bezos is richer than I am! Waaaaaahhhh!"

Yes, Trump and Bezos have been business rivals, and it angers the thin-skinned Trump that Bezos has been more successful in the long term, seeing as how Trump has seen some of his business holdings go belly up, while Bezos rolls merrily along, scandals aside.

Trump has gone so far as to claim the USPS, as we know it today, is a joke. Oh, really? That raised the ire of a postal workers' union. He has demanded that the USPS hike their shipping rates for Amazon by four times the current standard.

But, just to show how much of a difference there is from one day to the next with the President, he vowed via Twitter on Friday that the USPS would not fail.

So which is it, Mr. President? An empty threat one day, followed by a minor mea culpa? Or has the pressure of the office gotten to the point where you don't know which end is up?

Understand that it has been reported that the USPS would "collapse" come September amidst the current pandemic. While we can't be entirely certain of that, what we do know is that Trump is making it even harder for himself to be re-elected in November. Either he or his sycophants have accused Democratic candidate Joe Biden of being senile, as Biden is a few years older than Trump. If that's so, the unstable genius in the White House keeps offering evidence that he, too, is showing signs that age may be in fact an issue with him.

Friday, April 24, 2020

NFL Draft 2020: The first round

Night 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft is in the books, and there were a few surprises.

However, there were no surprises with the first two picks.

Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow (LSU), as expected, was selected by Cincinnati with the first pick. Chase Young (Ohio State) went at #2, going to Washington. Detroit, picking at #3, had the first real surprise of the night, taking another Buckeye, Jeff Okudah, to help refresh their defensive secondary.

Considering that Burrow had played at Ohio State before transferring to LSU, ESPN made a point of stressing that it was the first time that three players who had been at the same school at one time were selected with the first three picks.

New England and Buffalo had dealt away their first round picks, so for local fans, it was just a matter of who the Giants & Jets, and, for some, the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys, would take.

The Jets, picking at #11, addressed offensive line needs by taking Mekhi Becton from Louisville. The Giants, with the #4 pick, chose an offensive lineman as well, selecting Andrew Thomas from Georgia.

Dallas made a splash by taking speedy Ceedee Lamb (Oklahoma) at #17, giving Dak Prescott another target to complement Amari Cooper. Philadelphia picked receiver Jalen Reagor from Texas Christian at #21.

The Miami Dolphins, looking at an opportunity to finally move to respectability in the AFC East with Tom Brady now in Tampa Bay (and the NFC), chose Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa at #5, then chose offensive tackle Austin Jackson (USC) at #18. They then completed their first round hat trick by selecting defensive back Noah Igbinoghene from Auburn at #30. Super Bowl champion Kansas City got richer at running back, taking Clyde Edwards-Helaire (LSU) with the final pick of the first round.

They're making a mountain out of a molehill online with commentary on Green Bay drafting Jordan Love (Utah State) as a prospective heir apparent to Aaron Rodgers at #26. To those short-sighted souls, we have this:

Rodgers will be entering his 16th season this year, and has declined some the last couple of years. The Packers are erring on the side of caution, hoping that Rodgers will be healthy enough to play this season while Love carries a clipboard, just as Rodgers was an understudy for Brett Favre during his first three years in the league (2005-7), before Favre departed, first to the Jets, then Minnesota, to finish his career.

LSU had five players selected in the first round. The SouthEastern Conference (SEC), as a whole, had fifteen players picked, a record for the draft. The market reopens tonight at 7.

The President admits he's not a doctor, but he's still suggesting bad ideas for cures..........

Just because someone suggests something out of the blue as a potential cure for COVID-19 doesn't mean it is a cure, and that is something President Trump has yet to actually realize.

Someone told Trump that he (the other fellow) thought that if people exposed themselves to ultraviolet light, it might kill the coronavirus.

Yeah, I feel the same way.

Overexposure to ultraviolet light is almost the same as getting sunburn at the beach, if not worse. The only way this "cure" works is if you first coat yourself with Coppertone, or some other sunscreen, and even that's not a guarantee.

This same source also suggested that disinfectant (i.e. Lysol) could be injected into the bloodstream or ingested.

Reckitt Benckiser, which makes Lysol, clearly has a disclaimer on their product warning against ingestion as being hazardous to your health.

To be fair, Trump actually admitted he's not a doctor, but he pointed to his brain to try to explain why he believes in what someone told him could be miracle cures. The only real miracle is if someone actually survived by following such bad advice.

Trump has to remember that his daily, overlong, "briefings" are shown to the entire country, not just his voter base in the Bible Belt states and suburban areas that would, like him, be gullible enough to buy into this twaddle.

It's not the President's fault in this case, but he's being shown to be gullible enough to listen to such claims, which again contradicts his own claims of being a stable genius.

I believe that source that gave Trump the advice might be seeing another "patient" right now. Some fellow named Fudd...........

Update, 4/24/20, 3:02 pm (ET): New reports have Trump walking back his remarks, saying he was being sarcastic to reporters. Sure, avoid acknowledging the fact that he wasn't paying full attention to what he was told in the first place.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

What Might've Been: Get The Message (1964)

By appearance alone, Goodson-Todman's Get The Message, which aired on ABC in 1964, was a mash-up of two of the game show titans' other shows, airing on other networks, Match Game (NBC) and Password (CBS), in that you had two teams of celebrities with contestant partners (2 celebrities with one contestant, just like Match Game), and that the Message was revealed via one-word clues, like Password. Both Password & Match Game, in different iterations, would later gravitate to ABC.

Comedian Frank Buxton, host of the Sunday morning magazine series for kids, Discovery, was tapped to host when Message launched at the end of March. Six months later, he's gone, replaced by Robert Q. Lewis for the final three months. Message ended its run on Christmas Day.

Here's a sample episode:

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

I found it amusing that Tom Brady got himself in trouble with Tampa police earlier this week.

Brady decided to use a local park to work out, despite the fact that city parks are closed due to COVID-19. The cops came along, and Brady was politely asked to vacate the premises, which he did. He was given an appearance ticket, from what I understand, but I'd be willing to guess he gave the officers some autographs in exchange.....!
But can he play golf?

Brady and former NFL nemesis Peyton Manning will meet again, this time on the golf course, as part of a made-for-TV event with a couple of guys who know a little something about 18 hole showdowns---Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.

The event is set to air on TNT next month, likely to be sponsored by Nationwide Insurance, so we will also suffer through more of Manning's silly Jingle Sessions ads with country singer Brad Paisley.

It's just too bad you can't fast-forward live TV.
Notre Dame women's basketball coach Ann "Muffet" McGraw announced her retirement on Wednesday, two years removed frome leading the Irish to a NCAA title. Former assistant Niele Ivey is being promoted to head coach for the 2020-21 season.
Major League Baseball has completed its investigation into the Boston Red Sox and allegations of sign stealing during their 2018 World Series run.

Then-manager Alex Cora, who was dismissed in January, will be suspended for the 2020 season, assuming there is one, for his role in the Houston Astros' 2017 scandal. Boston also loses a video manager, also suspended for 2020, and a 2nd round draft pick in the June 1st year player draft.

Seems a little light in comparison to the punishment handed out to Houston.
The NFL is banking on higher than normal ratings for their draft, which begins tonight. The first rounds will be broadcast on ABC, ESPN, and NFL Network. The draft is being conducted remotely due to COVID-19, which will be unique in and of itself. Everyone is assuming Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow (LSU) will end up with Cincinnati as the heir apparent to Andy Dalton. We'll have to wait & see.....

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

You call this cabin fever?

It started in Michigan, where a pair of conservative groups with alleged ties to the Trump administration organized protesters to defy the same shelter-in-place mandates that Trump himself signed into law a month ago. It's happening in other states. Minnesota. California. Pennsylvania. Virginia. And, according to fellow blogger Chuck Miller, they're planning one in Albany for today after a similar protest was attempted in Buffalo.

Jobs have been lost. Normalcy is missing. People are going completely cuckoo for cocoa puffs, waiting to go back to work or school, waiting to get their lives back.

Nurses and other healthcare workers are counter-protesting, demonstrating what the protesters should be doing. For example, a nurses' union gathered at the White House. They stood six feet apart from each other (social distancing), masked, and most in standard scrubs or uniforms.

And, then, there are incidents like what happened in Denver on Sunday:

Healthcare workers stand in the street as a counter-protest to those demanding the stay-at-home order be lifted in Denver, Colorado, on 19 April.

Some protesters are masked, others are not, and most are not practicing social distancing, risking their health and everyone else's.

Look, I get it. I've been working from home, and some of these other folks apparently don't have that luxury. That's what's frustrating them. This ain't the common cold, contrary to what radio bloviator Rush Limbaugh would like you to believe. We all have to adjust. Do I want to return to the office? Of course, but I and my co-workers have to be patient. It's going to take some time.

Some states, including Georgia, are putting their citizens at risk by reopening certain "non-essential" businesses too soon to placate the frustrated masses. The caveat is that social distancing must be enforced in order to stay open. Hair salons will have beauticians masked. They do that in nail salons here, but all the salons here are closed until further notice.

If you want to call this cabin fever, leave me out.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Sports this 'n' that

For Rob Gronkowski, retirement lasted just one season.

The NFL's favorite party boy will return in 2020, assuming there's a 2020 season. New England has agreed to trade Gronkowski and a draft pick to Tampa Bay, so Gronkowski can be reunited with Tom Brady.

Like, you knew that was coming, didn't you?

Gronkowski left the WWE's Wrestlemania with the 24/7 title, and buddy Mojo Rawley is already making noises about getting it back. Stay tuned.
Speaking of WWE, one of the negatives about last night's Monday Night Raw was a match between Nia Jax and Japan's Kairi Sane, a return bout from the previous week. Sane is coming off a stint on the DL with a concussion, after which she and countrywoman Asuka dropped the women's tag titles to Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross.

Unfortunately, Jax, who publicly raised a stink a couple of weeks back about Ronda Rousey being unsafe with Bliss, for one, added another botch to her resume. She attempted a buckle bomb on Sane, but was out of range, and poor Kairi landed with her head hitting the middle turnbuckle. Jax went on to win the match, continuing to build toward Money in The Bank, set for Mother's Day (May 10), but that botched buckle bomb may send Sane back to the DL, and possibly out of WWE, as reports have circulated that Sane wants to return home to Japan, where she recently got married (sorry, guys), and rejoin the Stardom promotion.

Sane made her American debut with Lucha Underground in a one-shot appearance a few years back. WWE would be wise to try to coax her to remain with promises of better protection. However, the common complaint online is that Sane has been victimized twice by "legacy" wrestlers. Jax is the cousin of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and Sane's previous concussion was courtesy of current NXT women's champion Charlotte Flair, and WWE is not about to punish Flair, but Jax has had the stigma of being unsafe almost from the day she arrived.

If I were the bookers, I wouldn't think of putting Sane in with another former NXT champion, Shayna Baszler, who has adopted a gimmick of "breaking her opponents' arms", as she's done the last two weeks. Sane's only match in Lucha Underground saw a male wrestler, Pentagon, Jr., "break her arm". For Baszler, this is also a means to an end as a it relates to Money in The Bank. However, WWE CEO/Chairman Vince McMahon wasn't exactly a fan of Baszler headed into Wrestlemania, which explains why she failed to unseat Raw women's champion Becky Lynch.
Add McMahon, who is being sued by XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck for wrongful termination after being dismissed recently, prior to the league filing for bankruptcy. The COVID-19 pandemic short-circuited the league, which was getting great reviews for improved quality of play this season, but it may be a while before McMahon tries it again.

And that ain't all.

A man claiming to be a WWE employee is claiming to be forced to work closed set tapings, despite the fact that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had deemed WWE an essential business a week ago. Not only that, but WWE suits have gone on record stating that talent and off-air personnel had the option of staying at home (which some wrestlers are doing) to fend off the pandemic.

And, yeah, this is being filed in a Florida court.

Something stinks about the timing of this complaint. What it is, I'm not sure.
We have read of pro sports teams and/or individual players making donations to help folks in need during the pandemic. Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter is foregoing his salary during the health crisis. The former Yankee star has been unfairly maligned for some of the Marlins' business decisions since his group took over, but this might change people's opinions of Jeter down in South Beach.
Meanwhile, Jeter's former teammate, current ESPN/Fox analyst Alex Rodriguez, and his lady, singer-actress Jennifer Lopez, are talking about possibly putting a group together to buy the Mets. Yeah, right. Hasn't he been paying attention to what Jeter's going through? Apparently not.

Celebrity Rock: All Love Broke Loose (1958)

Seems Peter Marshall wasn't the only "boy singer" turned game show host/icon in the 60's.

While Marshall was touring nightclubs with Tommy Noonan, Winston "Wink" Martindale appeared in the 1958 movie, "Let's Rock", headlined by Julius LaRosa, and also featuring Della Reese among others.

Until today, the only recording I knew that Martindale had made was "Deck of Cards". "All Love Broke Loose" was included in "Let's Rock".

Yeah, there's a bit of Elvis, or even Carl Perkins, in Wink's vocals.

I've read where Jack Narz and even the inestimable Bill Cullen took turns recording albums. Who knew? Today, a prequisite for game show hosts seems to be having a background in comedy, although ex-N*SYNC vocalist Joey Fatone is changing that culture, or so it'd seem, with a show airing on GSN........

Monday, April 20, 2020

YouTube Theatre: Return to Green Acres (1990)

Nearly 20 years after the series ended, "Return to Green Acres" (italics mine) takes viewers back to Hooterville, where, admittedly, not a whole lot has changed in 19 years.

After the series had ended in 1971, Oliver & Lisa Douglas (Eddie Albert & Eva Gabor) had returned home to New York, but when slimy, conniving Eustace Haney (Pat Buttram) conspires with an outsider (Henry Gibson) to swindle the entire town, the Douglases are persuaded to return to Hooterville on a rescue mission, after a sort......

While I don't know if Arnold's voice was dubbed in during the original series' run (1965-71), ever-busy Frank Welker (Transformers, Smurfs, Scooby-Doo, etc.) was called in to do just that in the movie.

Sadly, the last of the cast, Tom Lester (Eb), has passed away at 81 from complications due to Parkinson's disease. No rating, out of respect.

The effect of COVID-19 on the home front

I've been working from home since March 23. Since then, I've had the opportunity to see first-hand the effects the COVID-19 pandemic and the "shelter-in-place" mandates have had in the hometown.

Some restaurants, but not all, are open for take-outs and deliveries. The dining halls are all closed. Unagi Sushi, directly below my apartment, has been closed. A Chinese restaurant that has been around for years, just a block to the south, appears to have closed its doors for good after trimming their schedule a year ago. Troy Kitchen, the incubator on Congress Street, is now closed on Sundays, since it's their "short day", open just four hours on Sundays otherwise (Noon-4 pm). Troy Kitchen otherwise is doing take-outs Monday-Saturday. The lounge on the other side of the space is closed.

The Uncle Sam Atrium, home to state offices and a few non-essential businesses, is closed to the public, save for CVS Pharmacy, and customers enter there on the 3rd Street side. Other non-essential businesses, such as barber shops, tattoo parlors, and jewelry shops, are all closed.

Thankfully, we don't have a bunch of frustrated, shut-in workers yearning to return to their jobs resorting to protesting, like they're doing in Michigan, Colorado, Arizona, Minnesota, etc.. New York isn't like that. Yet.
Across the river in Albany, however, there might be something stirring if the Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) doesn't get a collective clue regarding one of Albany's busiest thoroughfares, Central Avenue.

My brother, who was cut by El Cheapo Media one year ago, changed careers and jobs when he took a job in Colonie last summer. He tells me that an unexpected side effect of CDTA's scheduling changes sees overcrowding on the #1 (Central Avenue) line on weekdays, because the BusPlus (#905-Albany-Schenectady) doesn't have its first run until after 7 am, this after using the Saturday schedule on a six-day-a-week basis since last month. Increasing the frequency of the #1, which runs every half hour for the first 90 minutes or so, would do the trick, but CDTA suits haven't thought of it. While passengers now board the bus from the rear instead of the front, and everyone's required to wear facial covering of some kind, be they scarves, bandanas, or face masks, upon boarding. The overcrowding cancels out the protective measures. Not a good way for CDTA to mark its 50th anniversary.
As has been documented over at Tri-City SportsBeat, Governor Andrew Cuomo has expanded the "shelter-in-place" mandates to May 15, effectively eliminating spring sports in high schools for this season. Next up would be summer activities, such as the Troy Fighting Irish of the Northeastern Football Alliance, a semi-pro league that gets minimal attention from El Cheapo, the Tri-City Valleycats and the NY-Penn League, the Albany Dutchmen and the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, and, of course, horse racing in Saratoga. Harness racing was suspended last month at Saratoga, and you have to believe there are concerns that the flat track season, set to start in mid-July, might not start on time, absent a truncated Belmont meet. Off Track Betting's television channel is doing their part in carrying Cuomo's daily briefings, which look out of place otherwise.
We don't know for sure exactly when New York will "reopen", but never has it been truer than now that patience is a vital virtue.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Classic TV: Simon & Simon (1981)

Two brothers as diverse and different as night & day join forces as detectives. In a variant on the buddy cop movie concept, Phil DeGeuere created Simon & Simon for Universal & CBS in 1981.

Rick (Gerald McRaney) was an ex-Marine. AJ (Jameson Parker) was wealthy and a Wall Street maven. Of course, there would be conflicts between the two in between, and sometimes during, cases. It just goes with the territory.

Simon & Simon ran for 8 seasons, the last being a truncated season of 13 episodes due to declining ratings. For a while early on, the series had the benefit of airing in back of the original Magnum, P. I. following a crossover between the two shows. But then, at the start of season 4, ratings fortunes changed thanks to The Cosby Show as the anchor on NBC's sitcom-laden lineup, which had an adverse effect on both Magnum & Simon.

The supporting cast could be described as fluid. Long time Miller Lite voice-over pitchman Eddie Barth co-starred in the first couple of seasons, but left. Tim Reid (ex-WKRP in Cincinnati) joined the show as police contact "Downtown" Brown. Reid's wife, Daphne, also joined the show in season 3, but the Reids left after about 3 seasons to develop their own series, Frank's Place.

Also, there were a couple of crossovers with another DeGeuere creation, Whiz Kids. Parker appeared as AJ in one episode, while the young sleuths appeared on Simon some time after.

Following is a sample intro from season 2.

Rating: B.

Musical Interlude: Something About You (1985)

England's Level 42 produced one of the most provocative videos of the mid-80's with 1985's "Something About You", the first single off the album, "World Machine". Singer Mark King doubles as a dark clown-magician type whose attire suggests he goes back as far as vaudeville. Creepy!

Saturday, April 18, 2020

The complexities of an unstable genius

I just don't get it when it comes to President Trump and COVID-19.

The self-declared "stable genius", accepting the judgments of Dr. Anthony Fauci and the Centers For Disease Control, signed into law the current social distancing guidelines we're all living under.

In recent days, however, as Trump has been waffling on a number of topics, including the misguided assumption that he would have full authority (which he doesn't have) over the state governments, then turning around and acknowledging that the governors have the authority. How he conducts business with, say for example, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, on a day-to-day basis seems to be based on which side of the bed he comes out of in the morning, going so far as to throw a Twantrum in the middle of Cuomo's daily briefing in Albany on Friday. Cuomo laid the smack down on Trump as the briefing progressed.

However, Trump is also fanning the flames of protest and dissent in three other states with Democratic governors---Michigan, Virginia, & Minnesota----in an effort to influence voting come re-election time in November. You have protesters in those three states and California risking their own health by disobeying the same guidelines that Trump approved just a month ago.

Is there frustration over social distancing? Yes. The people in those four states and elsewhere, some of whom are masked while others are not, are still stricken with fear over COVID-19.

There is still panic buying, but not just toiletries anymore. I went shopping yesterday after work, for example, at a local supermarket. They were nearly out of orange juice. The panic buying now deals in food because people are afraid there will be shortages of fruits, vegetables, etc. this summer.

Digression over. Trump is stirring up his base of brainwashed dittoheads in order to influence the election. What he is doing in this case is contradicting his own executive orders, just because he thinks he can get away with it.

On MSNBC's The Last Word, host Lawrence O'Donnell interviewed Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingle of Michigan and former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, who served in George W. Bush's cabinet nearly 20 years ago.

What the unstable genius fails to see is that the protests are counter-productive to his own orders. All he sees are people just as unstable as he is, due to fear and anger in their cases, who support him. And you know how his ego swells with people who support him. Donald Trump is an embarrassment to our government. Vice President Mike Pence is supposed to be reining in the ego, and has lost the leash.

It's going to be a long, difficult summer.

When Stooges go to court: Idiots Deluxe (1945)

This was waaaaaaaaaaaay before The People's Court, but could you picture the Three Stooges before a judge on that show?

"Idiots Deluxe" was released in the summer of 1945, and was the beginning of the end for Jerome "Curly" Howard, who had taken ill in the interim before this short was released. The boys are all alone in a courtroom with a judge, no jury, as Moe relays the tale of how Curly & Larry supposedly drove him crazy.....

Considering the current climate, an empty courtroom would work today, coupled with modern technology to allow a virtual jury to make the verdict instead of the judge (Vernon Dent).

Rating: B-.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Only in The South: A church usher dies from COVID-19, and his pastor says it's a lie......

Louisiana pastor Tony Spell is in trouble again.

After it was reported that Harold Orillion, 78, an usher at Spell's Life Tabernacle Church, had passed away due to complications from COVID-19, Spell claimed it was a lie, and that the usher had died "of a broken heart" over an unrelated matter.

<div class="inline-image__title"> 1218400275 </div> <div class="inline-image__caption"> <p>Pastor Tony Spell stands outside of Life Tabernacle Church before an Easter service on April 12.</p> </div> <div class="inline-image__credit"> Chris Graythen/Getty </div>

Photo obtained from Yahoo!.

Spell has even gone so far as to suggest his congregation donate their incoming stimulus checks to Life Tabernacle. And that's assuming Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards doesn't shut Spell down first.

While I get that Spell and his flock believe their faith will pull them through the pandemic, Spell has steadfastly refused to comply with Edwards' orders to "shelter in place". As we've previously noted, Spell won't do an online service, because it takes away the laying on of hands of ailing parishoners. Dude, you can still pray for them.

A pastor in Virginia had passed away recently after trying to keep his church open. Virginia is one of the states where there are active protests supported by President Trump to try to end the "shelter in place" mandates. Like, hello? Trump was encouraging people to "shelter in place" in the first place. It makes you wonder how much pressure has gotten to Trump..........

Musical Interlude: Flowers on The Wall (2015)

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Statler Brothers' top 5 hit, "Flowers on The Wall", the Muppets took a swing by creating the Ratler Brothers.

The chorus has been revised, with lyrics changing each time, including a reference to the then-white-hot puzzle game, Sudoku.

And, yes, this comes a few years after Eric Heatherly's cover of "Flowers"......

Yes, the last verse was left out.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Dunce Cap Award: Kellyanne Conway

"You can't fix stupid."---Ron White.

"Stupid is as stupid does."--Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks), 1994.

There's a reason Kellyanne Conway works for President Trump, and it has nothing to do with anything resembling intelligence. Given that her husband George, a lawyer, is one of the President's staunchest critics, you would think she'd actually get a clue, and abandon ship. The Good Ship Trump, that is.

But, nope. She's just as clueless about COVID-19 as Trump is, if not worse.

Mrs. Conway was on Trump's favorite show, Fox & Friends, this morning, and demonstrated that, with apologies to Don Henley, this bubbleheaded blonde doesn't have to come on at 5 pm.

The Ring of Fire has a YouTube channel, and offered some analysis after Kellyanne's latest gaffe:

Kellyanne gets the Dunce Cap this week, for obvious reasons. Like, I'll come right out and say that COVID-19 will never be confused with Product 19 cereal or the Rolling Stones' "19th Nervous Breakdown", but this should be Mrs. Conway's theme song:

Advertising For Dummies: Why would anyone impersonate Chris Paul? (2020)

NBA star Chris Paul is State Farm's other sports star, aside from Aaron Rodgers & Patrick Mahomes. However, Paul gets the identity theft treatment in this spot, as Alfonso Ribiero (America's Funniest Home Videos, Catch 21) thinks he can pass himself off as "The New Chris Paul".

Two problems. One, Alfonso is older than the pro athlete he's mimicking. Two, this commercial was DOA.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Celebrity Rock: The Sadder But Wiser Girl (2011)

Some YouTube commentators have compared Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane's musical ability with that of someone like, say for example, Michael Buble, or, to go even further back, Frank Sinatra.

In 2011, MacFarlane headlined his first concert special. The only way you'd get to see this would've been if you had the Epix premium channel. MacFarlane and Family Guy co-star Alex Borstein (ex-MadTV) had done a half hour variety special for Fox in 2009 that had been raked over the coals by the same media nannies that had been critical of Family Guy, so MacFarlane must've figured, in order to gain some respect as a musician, he had to ply his wares on another network.

He's released 5 CD's of his own at last count, and was one of several guests, including Jamie Foxx and Hugh Jackman, to appear on a Barbra Streisand album in 2016.

From the 2011 special, Seth MacFarlane: Swingin' in Concert, here's "The Sadder But Wiser Girl".

Now I have to see if he's done any of the late night talk shows here. I know he's sung on Graham Norton's BBC show.

Sports this 'n' that

NASCAR has been running something known as the iRacing series in recent weeks. On Sunday, driver Kyle Larson was heard using a racial slur on what he thought was a secure line. It wasn't. It was a public line.

48 hours later, Larson is out of a job, dismissed by Chip Ganassi Racing, and this was after he'd been slapped with an indefinite suspension yesterday, and ordered to undergo sensitivity training. Larson will still have to go through with the training course if he wants to latch on with another team.
Eyebrows were raised in Florida on Monday after Governor Ron DeSantis declared WWE "an essential business" in his state, just in time for Monday Night Raw. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings delivered the news mere hours before the program went on the air.

While Demings' political affiliation wasn't made public, it's known that DeSantis is a Republican who has already gotten himself in hot water with his handling of COVID-19, allowing college students on spring break to congregate three weeks ago when it wasn't safe, for example.

WWE CEO/Chairman Vince McMahon is also a registered Republican, and his friendship with President Donald Trump is well known. I think you can figure out the rest.

McMahon made the decision on Friday to resume live broadcasts, rather than do a marathon taping session that would've ensured they would've had programming well into May. Around the same time, an unnamed WWE employee was revealed to have tested positive for COVID-19, and has recovered.

The issue seems to be, in relation to live programming, fulfilling the terms of contracts with the company's media partners, USA Network (NBC-Universal-Comcast) & Fox (now part of Disney), as McMahon feared there would be an issue over a contract breach if they didn't start with live programming soon enough. And, then, as with Trump, there's the matter of protecting the corporate bottom line.

Meanwhile, the other shoe dropped for XFL 2.0 on Monday, as the league, having suspended operations halfway through the season, filed for Chapter 11 in bankruptcy protection. All 8 coaches (i.e. Bob Stoops, June Jones) are among the main creditors. Yes, the league lost money, but only because they weren't able to fill the stadiums, and I think half the teams were playing in NFL stadiums (NY, Tampa Bay, Seattle, and, I believe, Houston), while a fifth, St. Louis, used the dormant Edward Jomes Dome, formerly home to the NFL Rams. Overpricing the tickets might've had something to do with the cash shortfalls.
News has just come over the wires in the last hour that former Royals & Cubs manager Jim Frey has passed away. Frey led the Royals to the 1980 World Series, where they lost to Philadelphia, and took the Cubs to the 1984 NLCS, where they were upset by San Diego.

In New York, Yankee co-owner Hank Steinbrenner has also passed away, but COVID-19 had nothing to do with it. Steinbrenner, 63, inherited the Bombers, along with brother Hal, after father George passed away 10 years ago.

The unstable genius strikes again

If you take into account that President Donald John Archie Bunker Trump is in his early seventies, you'd conclude he's showing signs of premature senility, because it seems he has an issue when being confronted with his own "facts".

CBS' Paula Reid found this out on Monday.....

Even more galling is the arrogant claim that Trump alone can "re-open" the country, when he didn't give the order to shut it down in the first place. You have governors acting as units, including a six state coalition that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is a part of, working to figure out when would be the most appropriate time to end each state's stay-at-home directives, so people can get back to normal life, one step at a time.

Trump is more concerned about:

1. His re-election campaign. He was torched online for what amounted to a campaign propaganda ad aired during his daily briefing on Monday. And you wonder why people think he wants to be a dictator like Kim-Jong Un in North Korea or Vladimir Putin in Russia, people he's done business with, in all probability, before becoming President.

2. The national economy and/or his own personal bottom line.

3. Keeping his voter base on point. After so much rhetoric the last few years, that base has eroded some, but not enough to guarantee he won't be re-elected.

It adds up to this:

Classless Crybaby Donald Trump Wants to Be America's Complainer in ...

Four years ago, I wondered if Trump based his campaign on the movie, "Wag The Dog". It sure seems as though he's still using that cinematic playbook, and now there's plenty of pushback.

I'd rather listen to the governor.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Sounds of Praise: Love....Thy Will be Done (1991)

Martika's last top 10 hit was 1991's "Love...Thy Will be Done", co-written with Prince as the first single off the album, "Martika's Kitchen", which was also Martika's last album to date. The singer and Kids Incorporated alumnus had shifted gears with her sophomore release, making it a mix of gospel, funk, R & B, and other genres.

The unstable genius lashes out again----this time at Fox News

President Trump's favorite hobby, albeit a self-indulgent one, is patting himself on the back. As they often say on TV, a pat on the back is a few inches from a boot in the tuchis.

We all know he doesn't take criticism very well. He insists on referring to CNN, MSNBC, et al, as "fake news", which it really isn't. He engages in grade school name-calling and insults, such as referring to Meet The Press moderator Chuck Todd as "sleepy eyes". He's in his 70's physically, but, mentally, he's regressed to about 10 or lower. Youngest son Barron would be embarrassed to admit the self-proclaimed stable genius is his father. Then again, Barron's half-brothers, Don, Jr., & Eric, aren't exactly mentally sound, either.

So when second generation journalist Chris Wallace (Mike's son) played it straight down the center with a recent guest that had critical remarks about the President's handling of COVID-19, well, this was the reaction....

Classless Crybaby Donald Trump Wants to Be America's Complainer in ...

Trump ripped into Wallace, who anchors Fox News Sunday, and claimed that Mike Wallace treated him well whenever he was on 60 Minutes back in the day. Trump's idea of liking people is that if you treat him with respect, he likes you. However, if you confront him with actual details and facts he doesn't agree with, well.......

Classless Crybaby Donald Trump Wants to Be America's Complainer in ...

Trump has claimed he won't wear a protective mask to demonstrate how important such masks are to the public during the pandemic, but wife Melania has no problem. There was a picture of her with a mask last week. The difference? Trump feels he needs to appear on TV every freakin' day to address the public, but wastes their time by stretching those briefings to 2 hours and change. He thinks the mask will scare viewers away. Actually, he might've been doing that all by himself, but I digress. He has advisors like Dr. Anthony Fauci to address the issue. Fauci, however, is rumored to be on the firing line because he offended the World's Oldest Baby by stating that he believed the US should've acted sooner had they known sooner about the coronavirus. Oh, Trump couldn't have that, and reacted thus...

Classless Crybaby Donald Trump Wants to Be America's Complainer in ...

I don't think he pays as much attention to his staff of advisors, pastors, Cabinet members, et al, as he claims he does. In contrast, Governor Cuomo keeps his daily briefings as short as possible, and is also being honest with the people of New York. He is the Anti-Trump.

Now is not the time to engage in immature antics like grade school taunts. Trump has been playing the Ugly American for years, but the facade needs to disappear. Real leaders are mature, responsible, stable. This is the picture our overseas allies have of our President...

Classless Crybaby Donald Trump Wants to Be America's Complainer in ...

And, then, there is a report that says MGM, which co-produced The Apprentice, from whence Trump developed the facade of a tough boss, has to turn over some footage that alleges there were some inappropriate things said and/or done on the set of that series. One wonders if this pattern of behavior didn't start with his association with Vince McMahon........