Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Republican embarrassment 101

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is taking a page from President Trump's playbook by trying to mislead his constituents in Kentucky.

There's been sniping on both sides, really, after McConnell claimed that his Democratic opponent, Amy McGrath, isn't willing to debate him. In reality (unsurprisingly), Senator Pruneface is the one who's resisting. He doesn't want a female moderator overseeing the debate between him and Ms. McGrath.

There have been debates where there's not just a moderator, but also a panel of reporters and pundits, which wasn't the case last night in Cleveland (more on that shortly) when Trump debated Joe Biden. For some reason, Senator Pruneface thinks that a female moderator---say, for example, Katie Couric, Robin Roberts (Good Morning, America), or even Oprah Winfrey (!)---would be slanted against him. That's not how it works, and he knows it. Bear in mind, this yokel beat actress Ashley Judd to start his Senate career several years ago.

McConnell is due to fall, and hard.

Meanwhile, in Cleveland, the first Presidential debate was anything but civil, which would make the likes of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and John F. Kennedy turn over in their graves.

President Trump squandered another chance to redeem himself before the American people, opting instead to stick to his strategy of lying, bullying, and avoiding truth as much as possible, such that the organizers are planning on making changes ahead of the next debate on October 15. By comparison, the Vice Presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris should be more on the order of a traditional debate. If the goal was trying to make Biden look bad, Trump didn't exactly succeed. Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News lost control of the debate fairly quickly because the Oldest Spoiled Brat in America flat out refused to be civil, pushing oft-debunked lies instead of confronting facts, refusing to denounce white supremacist groups like the Proud Boys, instead advising them to "stand back & stand by", which was quickly marketed by the group.

In order to avoid more of the same on October 15, expect Trump to have his mic cut off if he can't rein himself in. All of America is watching him implode, and he only has himself to blame.

Music suffers a double whammy: Mac Davis & Helen Reddy (1942-2020)

 They were two of the most listened to artists of the early 70's, staples of AM radio, and, by extension in the modern era, oldies radio. Within hours of each other, they passed away Tuesday.

Texas-born singer-songwriter-actor Mac Davis passed away due to complications from recent heart surgery. Davis wrote "In The Ghetto", "A Little Less Conversation", and "Memories", all of which became hits for Elvis Presley, with "Ghetto" peaking at #2. Other artists, as diverse as Vicki Carr and Glen Campbell, also recorded Davis' songs, but in the early 70's, Davis branched out to record his own material, including "Baby, Don't Get Hooked On Me", which topped the pop & country charts.

Davis' popularity was such that he landed his own variety show on NBC, which aired between 1974-76. After that, he branched out into acting, winning acclaim for his film debut opposite Nick Nolte in 1979's "North Dallas Forty".

Helen Reddy emigrated from Australia, and scored one of her earliest hits with Davis' "I Believe in Music". But it was her female empowerment anthem, "I Am Woman", which took her to the top of the charts in 1972. Like Davis, Ms. Reddy landed a variety show, also for NBC, in the mid-70's, and dabbled in acting, playing a guitar-playing nun in "Airport '75", for example. She also had hits with "Delta Dawn", which was also a hit for country singer Tanya Tucker, "You & Me Against The World", and the spooky "Angie Baby", about a young girl who somehow turns the tables on a would-be rapist, presumably with magic.

In recent times, Helen was diagnosed with Addison's Disease and dementia. Her five year struggle ended with her passing Tuesday night.

Rest in peace.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Dunce Cap Award: Rudy Giuliani

Once upon a time, he was a champion of New York City.

Today, Rudolph Giuliani is a babbling, out of touch idiot.

I'm pretty sure even some Republicans cringe whenever the 76 year old former mayor of NYC appears on television, as he did on Fox & Friends, frightening even the show's three anchors with baseless claims that Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden has dementia. It is not helping that Giuliani, along with former New Jersey governor Chris "Jersey Fats" Christie, have reportedly been coaching President Trump for tonight's debate in Cleveland. And Christie looks the most healthy of the three!

Trump, who is two years Giuliani's junior, and three years younger than Biden, has traded on the claims that Biden has had some cognitive issues. Trump & Giuliani should be looking in the mirror before going public with such claims again, because, well, neither one of them can pass themselves off as a Rhodes scholar any more than they think Biden could.

Deflection much?

Bear in mind that tonight's moderator is Fox's Chris Wallace, a second generation investigative reporter who will not put up with Trump's garbage, as we've already seen, but he won't give Biden a pass, either. 

Every time Giuliani appears somewhere on cable, be it Fox Shmooze, CNN, or ABC, change the channel before you go insane!

That having been said, after seeing the once vigilant "America's Mayor" reduced to a gibbering dolt, it's no wonder we bestow upon him a Dunce Cap.

They say people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Apparently, Team Trump ignores that philosophy, too.....

Monday, September 28, 2020

What Might've Been: Speak Up America (1980)

George Schlatter thought his career had been reborn after Real People became a hit for NBC. However, a 2nd series in the same vein as People proved him wrong.

Speak Up America had a pair of pilot specials in the first half of 1980, which led to a short-lived series that fall, airing on Friday nights. Evangelist-turned-actor Marjoe Gortner and Jayne Kennedy (ex-The NFL Today) were the headliners, joined by comedienne-actress Rhonda Bates (ex-Blansky's Beauties, Rollergirls). Gortner upset critics with his fire & brimstone approach to things, and the network had promised to tone things down. Promise broken within minutes into the series opener.

The competition on Fridays didn't help. Speak Up had to deal with CBS' powerhouse lineup, and I think Incredible Hulk or Dukes of Hazzard filled the 9 pm (ET) hour on Fridays for CBS. Game over.

Unfortunately, no actual series footage exists. My folks were into Hulk and Dukes, so, no rating.

Sports this 'n' that

We would be remiss if we tarried any longer to acknowledge the passing of NFL Hall of Famer Gale Sayers, who passed away a few days ago. Sayers starred for the Chicago Bears in the 60's, and brought his faith to the forefront in his autobiography, I Am Third, in which he put God first, his family, friends, & teammates second, and himself third, hence the title. God has called him home. Rest in peace.
Today's Bears sit in first place in the NFC North after coming from behind to beat Atlanta on Sunday. Yes, the Falcons committed another 4th quarter choke job for the 2nd straight week. If I'm coach Dan Quinn, I'd worry about finishing the season. Nick Foles took over at QB for an ineffective Mitchell Trubisky, and led the Bears on their 4th quarter comeback. Up next is a matchup with Tom Brady & Tampa Bay, which won its 2nd straight after beating Denver.
The NBA finals are now set to start on Wednesday night after Miami eliminated Boston Sunday night, setting up what will be an over-scrutinized final round matchup with the Lakers and LeBron James, who won his first NBA title with Miami 14 years ago. Unfortunately, ABC insists on the opening tip being around 9 pm (ET) to maximize ratings. They don't get that there are kids who won't get to see the ending live because of school the next day.
For the Giants & Jests, maybe it's a good thing there are no fans at the Meadowlands this season. Both teams are 0-3 after a pair of stinkers on Sunday, where each team gave up 36 points, and combined for 16. Indianapolis blew away the Jests, 36-7, while San Francisco completed a 2 game Meadowlands sweep, 36-9.

The 49ers, now 2-1, have tightened up the NFC West, as Arizona & the Los Angeles Rams each suffered their first loss, creating a 3-way log jam in 2nd behind undefeated Seattle.

Buffalo is all alone atop the AFC East, a game up on New England, after beating the Rams, while the Patriots had their way with the Raiders.
Baseball's revamped playoffs start tomorrow:

With the exception of Tampa Bay-Toronto, all the matchups are fresh since the teams played a regional schedule. The first round is best of three, and while fans of the AL East champion Rays may think it'll be a walkover, it really won't be. The opening rounds are played as normal, with the higher seeds being at home. However, the later rounds will be in bubbles. The NL playoffs will be in Arlington (home of the Rangers), while the AL playoffs will be at Petco Park in San Diego.

The picks:


Tampa over Toronto in 3.
Yankees over Cleveland in 3.
Oakland over Chicago in 2.
Minnesota over Houston in 3.


Los Angeles over Milwaukee in 3.
San Diego over St. Louis in 3.
Chicago over Miami in 3.
Atlanta over Cincinnati in 3.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

The President makes his choice for Supreme Court, but she doesn't deserve either the haterizing or exploitation

President Donald Trump kept his word Saturday, and nominated Amy Coney Barrett, a district court judge, as a successor to the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Upon Mrs. Barrett's confirmation, which the GOP wants to rush before the election, the GOP will have a 6-3 advantage on the Supreme Court.

That, in effect, is really enough. No, really, it is.

But try telling that to a Senate fundraising committee that is thumbing its nose at Ginsburg, nicknamed, "The Notorious RBG" as a play on the late rapper, The Notorious B. I. G. (Christopher Wallace, aka Biggie Smalls), by having some merch already prepared.

Like, seriously?

These shirts were ready to hit the market before Trump made his announcement. That's how sure they were. Naturally, the critics had a collective cow, accusing the Republicans of exploiting Ginsburg's passing to make a few bucks. At the same time, these idiots are also disrespecting the incoming justice.

Mrs. Barrett has 7 children, two of whom were adopted from Haiti, is a practicing Catholic, just like Democratic candidate Joe Biden, and is also involved with a Christian organization. Solid citizen, you know. She doesn't deserve to be exploited like this.

Nor does she deserve to have someone like Grammy winning songwriter Diane Warren coming up with an analogy just as idiotic as the shirt. Warren suggested via Twitter that Mrs. Barrett was a mash-up of a character from Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and one of the Stepford Wives.

Speaking of morons, that brings us to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is the brains behind the bull rush to confirm Mrs. Barrett for no other reason than to tarnish the legacy of Ginsburg. It is McConnell, more than Trump, who should take the heat. You know the Democrats will use the best weapon available to them, filibustering, to delay the confirmation as long as they can, perhaps well past election day, to turn the heat on Trump & McConnell. Coincidentally, four years ago, with much more lead time to election day than there is now, then-President Obama had nominated Merrick Garland for the supreme court, but guess who torpedoed that? Yep, McConnell, the real-life Pruneface for you Dick Tracy fans. Hypocrisy, anyone?

We wish Mrs. Barrett a long and productive career. She just doesn't need the unnecessary drama.

Sports this 'n' that

 After today's game, the Boston Red Sox will supposedly begin a search for a new manager. Again.

Ron Roenicke, hired to replace the suspended Alex Cora, will not return next year, not after the under-manned Sawx, who lost ace Chris Sale to Tommy John surgery, and dealt David Price & Mookie Betts to the Dodgers in the off-season, finished, as most expected, in last place in the AL East.

But are the Red Sox playing with fire by even considering bringing Cora back? He's already at the top of a list, assuming there really is one, to replace Roenicke next season. Mind you, no one's considering Carlos Beltran for a job after the Mets were forced to divest themselves of their former star for his part in Houston's sign stealing scandal three years ago. Cora apparently didn't play as much of a role, even after leaving for Boston in 2018, but took responsibility for not cutting things off when he should have. And maybe that plays a part in his return.

Penance is a good thing, after all.
Speaking of the Mets, fans are split regarding whether or not rookie skipper Luis Rojas will return next year. One would have to believe that incoming majority owner Steve Cohen, bringing back former GM Sandy Alderson as team president, might want his own guy in the dugout to erase the stench of three underachieving seasons under Rojas, and, before him, Mickey Callaway, who's now in Anaheim as Joe Maddon's pitching coach, and missing the playoffs again.

The Mets were eliminated Saturday in a doubleheader sweep at the hands of last year's champions, the Washington Nationals, who have gone from first to worst, as the most the Nats can do now is a 4th place tie with New York, should they win on getaway day today.

If there is a positive to this underachievement, it's the fact that the Mets found themselves another front line starter in rookie David Peterson, who outdueled fellow rookie Ian Anderson and veteran Patrick Corbin in his final two starts of the season, to complement ace Jacob deGrom, who will not win his 3rd straight Cy Young after misfortune bit him over and over again in his final three starts, including yesterday.
The Las Vegas Raiders have barely settled into their new home, and already they're dealing with scandal.

It's not the fact that coach Jon Gruden was fined for not wearing a mask on the sidelines, but there are other COVID-19 protocol violations that the NFL is investigating.

You know what they say. If you're not looking for trouble, trouble finds you anyway.
As reported over at Tri-City SportsBeat yesterday, former Tri-City Valleycat Hunter Pence, after a 14 year major league career that saw him go from Houston to Philadelphia to San Francisco to Texas, and back to San Francisco, officially retired, days after the Giants had cut him, ending his 2nd tour of duty with the team.

Hunter's 1st taste of pro post-season came with the Valleycats in 2004, his rookie year. He won two World Series with the Giants in 2012 & 2014, and was a multi-time all-star. His future likely includes a coaching job with, if not the Giants, but maybe with Houston.
The final dominoes fell in college football, as the Pac-12 & Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC) both reversed field, and will play shortened seasons this year. It's all about revenues for the member schools, more so than, say, political pressure, even as each league has schools in swing states in the coming election. The MAC, for example, has teams in Ohio & Michigan, same as the Big 10. The only politics these leagues would rather be concerned with, you see, are the politics that keeps their teams out of the College Football Playoff, which has been dominated by the SEC & ACC. 

Saturday, September 26, 2020

On The Shelf: A Japanese legend returns

 Marvel Comics is the latest to obtain a license for one of Japan's pop culture legends.

The Rise of Ultraman retells the origin of the superhero, Japan's 1st costumed hero, who made his debut in 1966, with the plot, understandably updated to today. Marvel and Tsuburaya Productions, which owns Ultraman, are hoping to reintroduce him to a new generation of readers. Tsuburaya tried more than 25 years ago with Harvey Comics, but it didn't get very far.

If you can stomach the short comedy bits that wrap around the back-up features, this should be fine. If you're a fan going all the way back to the beginning, I'd think this might be a must have. 

If Marvel is able to sell this to today's readers, there might be a sequel. However, it's a tough sell when today's fans associate Japan with a more modern concept which Marvel once had a license on, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (now licensed to Boom! Studios).

Rating: Incomplete.
Detective Comics reached 1000 issues a while back. This month, DC marked the 1000th appearance of Batman in the series in issue 1027. It's a mixed bag of short stories by writers as diverse as Tom King, Marv Wolfman, and James Tynion IV, and also includes teasers for forthcoming projects.

As is often the case with these potpourri editions, there are a couple of clunkers to avoid, but then, that's just my opinion.

Rating: B.
For some reason, American Mythology has an obsession with putting Zorro in some supernatural-themed stories.

The latest, Galleon of The Dead, includes a Lucha Libre themed villain who might've been inspired by the now-defunct Lucha Underground's resident zombie, Mil Muertes. However, as a purist when it comes to heroes like Zorro, there's something about this story, and its predecessor, Sacrilege, that leave me cold.

Rating: C-.
Apparently, with Young Justice ending its current run with issue 20 in November, Brian Michael Bendis is shutting down his Wonder Comics imprint, as December's Jinny Hex 1-shot, showcasing a modern descendant of 70's & 80's Western anti-hero Jonah Hex, is not under the Wonder Comics umbrella. And, oh, is that such a downer!

Fans of The Expanse, the former SyFy series now on Amazon Prime, might want to look into Boom!'s forthcoming miniseries, out in December, which provides a bridge to season 5, due in 2021.

Vampirella celebrated her 50th birthday last year, and now, Dynamite Entertainment has decided the alien vampiress needs some more standard superhero attire.


This is filed under, "If it isn't broken...", but the purpose is for a crossover, The Dark Powers, which kicks off in December. I guess the idea is the skimpiest costume ever made doesn't fit with other heroes, so Vampi gets a red & yellow leotard to wear so she can stand alongside other heroes like the Black Terror. 

Um, right. Kinda takes away one of the selling points to the character, doesn't it?

A loaded stick of bubble gum? (1978)

A year before being cast as corrupt Jefferson Davis "Boss" Hogg on The Dukes of Hazzard, character actor Sorrell Booke was on the other side of the law as a county sheriff in this spot for Freshen Up bubble gum. The gimmick here is that the gum was loaded (with flavor), a play on the phrase loaded gun.

Friday, September 25, 2020

How scared is the President? What do you think?

There was a report out in the Senate earlier this week that found no wrong-doing on the part of Hunter Biden, son of Democratic candidate Joe Biden, in relation to his employment with a company based in the Ukraine.

So what does President Trump do? He goes on a Fox News Radio show, and says that the elder Biden, 77, drop out of the race, basically handing Trump a second term.

"WAAAHHHHH!! I want to stay in the White House! WAAAHHHH!!"

And when Trump has been asked about a peaceful transition of power should he lose on November 3, he remains non-committal. That lack of commitment alone, coming from Trump, suggests that his childish, sore loser mentality is getting in the way of common sense. Fortunately, even his closest allies in the Senate, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, agreed to a resolution Thursday that would ensure a peaceful transition if Biden is elected over Trump.

You have to hope Trump's youngest son, Barron, his only son by wife Melania, is learning how not to behave like a brat.

It's also easy to assume that, as Sara Haines suggested on The View this morning, that Trump, as usual, is trolling the media. Problem is, the jokes have worn thin coming from President Onionskin. There'll be a room waiting for him in New York when he leaves the White House. One with four padded walls, no windows. We'll call it the Napoleon Suite at Hotel Bellevue.

Here we go again, part 2: Ex-DA cleared of misconduct in his handling of a 2016 case

 Now we know why there were protesters in front of Russell Sage College on Thursday afternoon.

Former Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel Abelove, who was voted out of office a couple of years ago in favor of Mary Pat Donnelly, was cleared of charges of official misconduct in relation to his handling of a murder case in 2016.

In that case, Troy police officer Randall French shot & killed Edson Thevenin, an unarmed African-American. According to prosecutors, Abelove rushed the case to a grand jury. French was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony, which meant no charges would be brought against the officer, who passed away earlier this year from complications due to coronavirus.

Video courtesy of WNYT.

Protesters gathered in front of the Rensselaer County Courthouse, and in front of the home of Mayor Patrick Madden later in the day. Thevenin's family has said that they will continue to fight for justice, not just for Thevenin, but for other African-American victims of, we might as well say, poor police judgment.

Sooner, rather than later, Thevenin, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others will be properly avenged, but the only way that happens is if city governments and police departments get their houses in order, and put justice ahead of office politics.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Here we go again: No charges filed in the Breonna Taylor murder case

 Ye scribe woke up this morning to radio accounts of protests, not only in Louisville, but across the country, after a grand jury, predictably, indicted one Louisville police officer, not with murder, but with "wanton endangerment" for shooting not into the home of Breonna Taylor, but neighboring houses, and none of the officers involved in the case are facing charges.

Nothing like "good ol' boy" Southern injustice.

You would think the grand jury that convened had paid attention to what had happened earlier this year, after protests sprouted in the wake of George Floyd's death on Memorial Day in Minnesota. Unlike Floyd, who was in the process of being arrested himself, Breonna Taylor was a paramedic that some of those same officers might've worked with in the past. That she was killed in her sleep only made the case that much more disgusting.

Ring of Fire's Farron Cousins explains:

On my lunch break, I happened to be on a bus headed out on a shopping trip, and saw a couple of folks with Black Lives Matter signs in front of Russell Sage College. No violent confrontations. The people here knew what was coming. So did protesters in Seattle, New York, etc., already fed up with justice not only turning a blind eye against an African-American, but turning its head away.

And so the cycle continues.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Weasel of The Week: Pascale Cecile Veronique Ferrier

President Donald Trump has gotten death threats before, for a variety of reasons. He's cultivated many enemies since being sworn into office as President in 2017. For the first time in several years, someone decided that ricin would be a tool in an attempt to end the President's life. Fortunately for Trump, the FBI interceded and intercepted a letter containing the poison.

Who knew that it would come from Canada?

Pascale Cecile Veronique Ferrier, to use her full name, hails from the Quebec province, and had been in Texas some time back to protest the building to the infamous wall at the southern border. Like many of the President's detractors, she has reason to hate him, but to go so far as to try to poison him through the mail?

In a letter, Ferrier dubbed Trump, "The Ugly Tyrant Clown". Given how Trump has this tendency to make ridiculous statements aimed at inflaming his voter base, despite the fact that the remarks are heard by his detractors as well, his lack of political acumen was bound to get him in trouble with someone like Ferrier, who was deported back to Canada a year ago after a misdemeanor arrest, but this is bigger. This is life-in-prison big. Unless she winds up in a psychiatric hospital, which, I think, is likely.

We never wish ill on anyone. For this week's Weasel, we recommend counseling, even if she only is sent to prison.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Sports this 'n' that

With the Stanley Cup finals underway (Dallas & Tampa Bay are knotted up at 1 game apiece), NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has indicated that the 2020-1 season won't start until either December or January, which leaves less off-season time than normal, of course, due to the pandemic, but you have to believe that the league's media partners (NBC-Universal in the US, TSN in Canada) are hoping the series ends at the end of this month.

It would be in their best interest if it did. As it is, the finals have been shoved aside in terms of viewer interest with the NFL having started their season, and baseball will start their playoffs next week. While television ratings for football & basketball are down from a year ago due to fan apathy over players using the forum to protest racial injustice and inequality, you don't hear much about it on the ice, which might actually be a good thing.

Week 2 of the NFL season is in the books, and the injury reports coming out of Sunday's games looked like some teams all of a sudden turned into M*A*S*H units. Consider some of the major players sidelined after Sunday:

Nick Bosa (San Francisco): Out for the year with a torn ACL.
Saquon Barkley (Giants): Out for the year with a torn ACL.
Bruce Irvin (Seattle): Out for the year with a torn ACL.
Sterling Shepard (Giants): Ankle injury. Status for week 3 unknown.
Jimmy Garoppolo (San Francisco): Ankle injury.
Christian McCaffrey (Carolina): High ankle sprain.
Solomon Thomas (San Francisco): Out for the year.

I read that someone complained about "sticky turf" at one stadium. Ya might want to check some of the player equipment (i.e. cleats) for possible defects, too.

The league is also fining certain coaches, including Seattle's Pete Carroll and San Francisco's Kyle Shanahan, for not wearing masks throughout the games, although there's supposedly a provision that allows for them to lower the masks, as the refs do when announcing penalties, to call plays. Stay tuned.
WWE introduced two new ideas during the summer on Monday Night Raw. Two months later, one of those ideas has been irretrievably ruined by uncreative stupidity.

I am referring to the activist group known as Retribution. Created as a parody of the protests going on across the country, the group of masked wrestlers, both male & female, set about disrupting both Raw & Smackdown at first, and, then, last month, it was announced that the group would be exclusive to Raw.


Monday's broadcast presented the five core members with new masks and "new contracts", if only because internet fans knew who the core five were under the ski masks the group initially wore. The two women are Mia Yim & Mercedes Martinez. The men are Dominik Dijakovic (formerly Donovan Dijak to northeast indie fans), Shane Thorne, and Dio Maddin, the latter of whom was a commentator for a hot minute a few months ago.

They had a solution to one early mystery, that being how Retribution could easily enter the building every week, right in the palm of their collective hands, but didn't use it. No, instead, with over 30 untrained-in-wrestling-psychology Hollywood rejects at his disposal, Vince McMahon decided to think in terms of long term marketing---to toy stores. The new masks are meant to represent prospective action figures to be made by Mattel and sold in time for Christmas, in this writer's opinion. 

What happened, it seems, is that McMahon saw how the group didn't get over with viewers, at least in his opinion, and decided to make premature changes. He gave the men new ring names, such as Slapjack (Thorne), T-Bar (Dijakovic), & Mace (Maddin). The women have not been assigned new code names yet, but at this rate, Retribution will be a distant memory by the holidays because of McMahon's impulsive meddling.

And they wonder why ratings are down....

Musical Interlude: A Muppet salute to Hollywood (1977)

From season 2 of The Muppet Show:

Impressionist Rich Little performs a 3-song medley of songs from musicals:

1. Rich, as Gene Kelly, sings the title song from "Singing in The Rain". Fozzie Bear (Frank Oz) chips in, and Rich pauses to do Winston Churchill (since the show tapes in London) and John Wayne.

2. Rich, with Kermit (Jim Henson), performs "Well, Did You Evah?", as Frank Sinatra & Bing Crosby (from "High Society").

3. As Maurice Chevalier, Rich serenades Miss Piggy (Oz), standing in for Hermoine Gingold, with "I Remember it Well", from "Gigi".

I'd post the complete episode, but the only copy available on Dailymotion resorts to the trendy tactic of pushing the camera back & forth for unnecessary close-ups in order to evade the copyright police.

Monday, September 21, 2020

A regional classic (?): Pick-a-Show (1965)

Long before 1st run syndicated programming began to dominate daytime as well as afternoon/early evening programming, network affiliates were filling time any way they could.

Let me use my home district as an example.

WAST (now WNYT, then the ABC affiliate, now the NBC affiliate) was linked up with Bert Claster's network of stations carrying his Romper Room franchise for the kiddo's. WTEN (CBS then, ABC now) had Dialing For Dollars, in which they'd cut in during the morning movie and see if folks were willing to play. Good Ship News anchor Ralph Vartigan swapped out his Navy uni for the standard suit & tie as an MC.

At WRGB, then an NBC affiliate (now CBS), there was Pick-a-Show, a little curiosity that was similar in concept to Dialing, but focusing on television, specifically what was airing on NBC on a given night. Singer-songwriter and regional icon David Allan was the series host for the entirety of the series' run (1965-1974 or thereabouts) before leaving for channel 13 and a similarly formatted game show, Pitfall, not to be confused with the CBS game of the same name that came along a few years later.

Image courtesy of fellow blogger Chuck Miller.

Pick-a-Show, in truth, was half game show, half variety show, as Allan had in-studio guests, including WGY mid-day host Harry Downie and local legend Earle Pudney, who at that time was hosting Pets on Parade, the forerunner to today's Pet Connection segments on WTEN's afternoon news.

Unfortunately, given the practices of the day, there's no video of the show, just the above picture and some audio, which was collected into a record album in 1972, including Allan's novelty hit, "Little Red Scooter", which, at the end of the 20th century, was still getting some airplay, often as a joke, on WPYX-FM.

I barely remember seeing the show, not enough to merit a rating.

Sports this 'n' that

Folks on message boards were raising a fuss over NBC-Universal-Comcast choosing to move coverage of Premier League soccer to the Peacock streaming service to make room for the Tour de France, which ended yesterday. Until this year, the alternate plan for Premier League coverage was to move it over to CNBC, but that was declared a non-option. My guess is that NBC suits thought it a better idea to promote the new service, which already repurposes some PL-centric news programs, by having the matches air there. With the Tour over, Premier League, which was shown in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday morning, will move back into its customary berths on NBC & NBC Sports Network, perhaps as early as next week.

Roughly translated, the complaining posters didn't completely check their listings.
The Buffalo Bills sit alone atop the AFC East after disposing of Miami Sunday afternoon. New England dropped a 35-30 decision on the road to Seattle, leaving the Dolphins & Jests, both 0-2, sharing basement space.

Speaking of the Jests, they lost their home opener to San Francisco, despite the NFC champs losing starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo to an injury in the first half, as well as three more key players. The 49ers will look for a NY-NJ daily double next week when they play the Giants, who lost to Chicago to fall to 0-2, and lost running back Saquon Barkley (knee) and receiver Sterling Shepard (ankle) to injuries.

The game of the day, however, saw the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs go to overtime before dispatching the Los Angeles Chargers, 23-20. Rookie Justin Herbert (Oregon) took over at QB for the Chargers after starter Tyrod Taylor went down with a chest injury.

That could be a sign that in Miami, second year coach Brian Flores may need to insert rookie Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) if Ryan Fitzpatrick can't deliver a win within the next week or two. Just sayin'.
Fans aren't supposed to be attending Major League Baseball games. That's what the cutouts are there for, plus Fox using CGI technology to create virtual fans for their national telecasts, such as Saturday's Mets-Braves game.

However, one Boston idiot decided he'd had enough of being kept away from Fenway, and threw away any hope of future attendance by sneaking into the hallowed ballpark during Sunday's Red Sox romp over the Yankees. The goof, likely on a dare, got onto the catwalk, and threatened to jump onto the tarp covering the bleachers. Did some exercising before security finally caught him. For now, John Doe, we must assume, spent the night in the drunk tank. We'll leave you with a shot of this clown and his 15 minutes of stupidity:


Sunday, September 20, 2020

Rich Little shills for Little Debbie (1986)

In the mid-80's, the folks behind the Little Debbie snacks hired impressionist Rich Little to do a series of ads. Here, he plays John Wayne as a marshal.

Rich would also do spots as Jack Benny, Jimmy Stewart, and Robin Leach. Last I checked, the Banana Twins aren't available 'round these parts anymore.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Musical Interlude: Right Between The Eyes (1986)

Wax's "Right Between The Eyes" was the 3rd single, released in 1986, off the combo's debut CD, "Magnetic Heaven".

The video is a mashup of silent movie footage and assorted other items, including clips from Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds. For most MTV viewers back then, the hook wasn't so much the song itself, despite its bouncy beat, but an anonymous model, in a black catsuit and gold chains, bopping to the beat at various points.

This was previously posted with an obit for singer Andrew Gold back in 2011.

Forgotten TV: What a Dummy (1990)

Before Nickelodeon foisted the equally goofy Cousin Skeeter on its audience, Arthur Amarachico, after reviving Dragnet, Adam-12, & The Munsters for a new generation, co-created What a Dummy, an oddball fantasy-sitcom that was designed mostly as a knockoff of NBC's ALF, substituting a ventriloquist dummy for an alien.

By 1990, when Dummy premiered, ALF was in its 4th season, and had spawned a pair of Saturday morning spin-offs. Dummy got 24 weeks, and no more. It was the first regular series gig for Stephen Dorff, after making guest appearances elsewhere, and a comeback vehicle for Kaye Ballard (ex-The Mothers-in-Law). Stephen is the oldest of the children on the show, and has to play straight man not only to Buzz, the titular dummy (voiced by Loren Freeman), but to his siblings.

After Dummy was cancelled by distributor MCA (now NBC-Universal), Dorff would not get another regular series gig until being cast in Fox's 2017 series, Star, and for one season of HBO's True Detective.

In "Whose Life is it Anyway?", Tucker (Dorff) has to emulate his younger brother's sensitive lifestyle to win the affections of a young girl.

Part of the reason this show failed was because some stations that had the rights also were network affiliates and had commitments to sports (i.e. college football), meaning Dummy, depending on where you lived, didn't have a steady time slot.

No rating.

Friday, September 18, 2020

60 years ago, the first televised Presidential debate

As President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden prepare for their first debate in a few days, let's turn back the clock to 1960, and the first debate between VP Richard Nixon and Senator John F. Kennedy. Howard K. Smith (then with CBS) is the moderator. Forgive the video quality. 

Uploaded by the JFK Library YouTube channel:

I don't think you're going to get this same kind of dialogue this year.

A study in contrasts on the road

 Thursday, CNN hosted a Town Hall with Democratic candidate Joe Biden in Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, President Trump held a rally in Wisconsin where social distancing was ignored, as were masks for the most part. Par for the course for the man-child in office living in a delusional fantasy world.

 In stark contrast, CNN's venue was socially distanced, and Biden looked like a star, with moderator Anderson Cooper across the stage. As Brian Tyler Cohen shows us, Biden saved most of his venom not just for Trump, but for Attorney General Bill (Corner) Barr, Trump's consigliore.

Barr, you see, stuck his foot in his mouth, likening COVID-19 to putting innocent Americans in slavery. It couldn't be further from the truth. The Trump administration insists on trading on fear and paranoia to cover the President's many insecurities, but as we know, those horses left the barn a while ago. Trump would rather trade lives for votes. Political strategist Steve Schmidt, appearing on MSNBC, labeled Trump "a dime store, slurring Mussolini". OUCH! Trump willfully allowed attendees at his rally to violate their state's social distancing mandates and run the risk of getting sick. If they do catch the virus, it's not only on them, but Trump as well.

One plank on Trump's platform has been to question Biden's mental faculties. That, along with a number of other issues, reflect badly on the President himself, as he is projecting his own issues onto his opponent. A true fighter finds his last reserves of strength when backed up against a wall or a corner. That's not the case with Trump. He's been leading with his mouth for too long. He projects child-like insecurity, stoking fear and paranoia, and having no real compassion. Biden is the opposite, presenting the dignity, compassion, and humility we expect from our leaders.

Imagine, if you will, the Hall of Presidents at Disneyland. They'd be ashamed to include a statue of Trump, and would just as soon substitute a Disney icon like Donald Duck or Goofy. Trump thinks he's on a par with the likes of Lincoln, Nixon, & Reagan. They'd turn over in their graves. For all his flaws, Biden reminds me more of Jimmy Carter with his quiet dignity.

Come November 3, who would you rather have as President? A political veteran who has compassion, or a paranoid, deranged man-child?

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Dunce Cap Award: Florida anti-maskers

On Tuesday, a group of anti-mask protesters marched into a Target store in Fort Lauderdale, playing Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It" as they marched, calling for customers to remove their protective masks.

                                            "Is it just me, or do they want to get sick?"

You ain't alone, dude. These people think that just because an infant doesn't have to wear a mask, they don't have to, either, ignorant of the fact that the virus is still a serious threat, especially in Florida.

This won't come as a surprise, but Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider isn't thrilled with his iconic song being used this way. He bashed the anti-maskers on social media as "morons".

As far as the rules regarding the masks are concerned, it was decreed here in New York that children 2 and up would wear the masks. The only reason you don't wear a mask is because of a pre-existing medical condition. Our Dunce Cap winners are doing this because they think wearing masks violates their Constitutional rights. No, they don't. It's just another example of how fear and paranoia reduces people's minds to jelly because they can't be bothered to comprehend the situation as it really is. And if these people end up getting sick, that's on them. Period.

What Might've Been: Hot L Baltimore (1975)

 Comedy legend Norman Lear made his first sale to ABC in the winter of 1975. Curiously, over the course of his illustrious career, Lear had the least amount of success with the "alphabet network", in contrast to series airing on CBS & NBC.

Hot L Baltimore was based on an off-Broadway play by Lanford Wilson. The title is because the neon marquee at the Hotel Baltimore, where the show is based, has a burned out "e", although it's flickering in the promo below.

James Cromwell, who had brought Archie Bunker's co-worker Stretch Cunningham to life on All in The Family, headed an ensemble cast that included Conchata Ferrell, whose career resume includes series as diverse as BJ & The Bear and Two And a Half Men, Al Freeman, Jr. (later of One Life to Live), and Charlotte Rae (ex-Car 54, Where Are You?), who would experience a television career resurgence with this series, as she would move on to The Rich Little Show, Diff'rent Strokes, & The Facts of Life.

Unfortunately, it's believed that network practices of the day have erased every episode produced, such that Sony, which owns Lear's library, is at the moment unable to produce a DVD of the series.

Baltimore had the distinction of debuting less than a week after Lear had struck gold again at CBS with The Jeffersons, the 2nd spin-off from Family.

All that's available now is this promo, narrated by studio announcer Ernie Anderson:

No rating.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Pecos Trump embarrasses himself on national television

Tuesday, ABC hosted a Town Hall with President Trump. Depending on how you look at it, it couldn't have gone any better or worse.

And for Trump, less than two months to Election Day, it couldn't have been worse.

Instead of trying to do the right thing, and own up to 3 1/2 years of half-truths, lies, and misstated facts, Trump doubled down on some of his more bizarre talking points, embarrassing himself before the entire country. Well, at least the parts of the country that were interested.

A week after audio tapes recorded by Bob Woodward for his new book, Rage, surfaced, Trump is now trying to claim he didn't downplay coronavirus, and is still pinning the blame on China for the pandemic. No, Mr. President. While the virus has its origins in China, your mishandling of the virus, despite knowing the severity of the virus, as you admitted to Woodward seven months ago, your haphazard handling of the pandemic in its early stages here exacerbated the situation.

Here's an excerpt from what may well be a watershed moment in Trump's re-election campaign:

You had a chance to redeem yourself in front of the entire country, Mr. President, but it was an epic fail. I'd say you were better off leaving your spin doctors to handle this one, but I hear they're on the comeback trail, and rehearsing in one of your empty hotels.

That's a joke, by the way.

Only the most snowblind among the President's loyal supporters will take him at his word now.

The irony of all this is that, assuming he loses in seven weeks' time, it will mark the end of the longest running iteration of an old game show that won't be revived again any time soon.

The Liars' Club.

Football this 'n' that

The Jests will be without running back Le'Veon Bell for the next few weeks, which only makes things worse for coach Adam Gase.

New York welcomes San Francisco for their home opener, but will have Bell and rookie receiver Denzel Mims on injured reserve. Bell should be back next month coming off a hamstring injury, and Mims could be back sooner, but by then, the Good Ship Gase could be sinking...!
The Big 10 made it official Tuesday night. The conference has reversed field on football, and play will begin October 24. allowing enough time for a conference title game in December, leading to a possible berth in the College Football Playoff around New Year's.

Big Ten — Story
Conversely, the Pac-12 has opted to remain idle for the fall, more so now because of wildfires affecting the air in California, Oregon, & Washington state, which means most of the league is adversely affected. Fans in the Big 10's territory, perhaps urged on by President Trump applying undue political pressure because member schools are in swing states such as Ohio, Michigan, & Pennsylvania, made their voices heard. Unsurprisingly, the clueless Trump is taking credit he doesn't deserve for the league's members reversing an earlier vote. The success of other conferences after two weeks was certainly more of a determining factor than the hot air coming from the Bloviator-in-Chief in Washington.
While the SEC doesn't begin league play until September 26, Alabama coach Nick Saban has begun his second season as a commercial pitchman for AFLAC insurance, which is a major sponsor of college football. Someone must've told him that since Nationwide has benefited from Peyton Manning as a comedy act shilling for them the last few years, maybe AFLAC could get someone who could convince viewers to take them a little more seriously than relying on a duck......

Forgotten TV: Sweethearts (1988)

For every British series successfully adapted for American audiences (i.e. Steptoe & Son becoming Sanford & Son), there's usually a clunker or two mixed in. For example, On The Buses begat Dom DeLuise's short-lived Lotsa Luck in the early 70's.

About 15 years later, independent producer Richard Reid acquired the rights to a short-lived British game show, Sweethearts, hoping to successfully market it here in the US. The British version lasted three months a year earlier, which made this proposition doubly daunting. Reid landed a distribution deal with Multimedia (now part of NBC-Universal) to syndicate the series.

After years of being on the panel on Match Game, Charles Nelson Reilly was tapped to be the show's host. As you'll see, Reilly is already on center stage when he's introduced by announcer Jim McKrell (ex-Celebrity Sweepstakes). Reilly had his own "burden", if you will, with him. Like Paul Lynde, Tim Conway, and Jerry Van Dyke, just to name three, Reilly was not a successful headliner, having flopped with a pair of Saturday morning series in the 70's (Lidsville & Uncle Croc's Block, for those of you scoring at home) after a 2 year run as a supporting player on The Ghost & Mrs. Muir. Tasking Reilly with his first hosting job only made selling Sweethearts that much harder for Reid.

Following is a sample episode:

The game play was a mix of Newlywed Game mashed up with To Tell The Truth, but with three celebrities on the panel, instead of four as on Truth. You can bank on the estates of Chuck Barris and Mark Goodson disavowing any knowledge of this series being pitched to them.

To be fair, the American Sweethearts outlasted its British counterpart by 9 months, going for a full year before cancellation. Conversely, Heatter-Quigley's 1972 Saturday morning game, Runaround, was a 1 year flop for NBC, but found new life in England for several years.

No rating. I don't think this show played in the 518.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

What Might've Been: Channing (1963)

Up until 1963, most TV shows set on school campuses usually were in regard to high school (i.e. Our Miss Brooks, Dobie Gillis, Mr. Novak, Mr. Peepers).

Revue Studis/Universal rolled the dice with Channing, an ABC freshman drama set on the campus of the titular college. The series was already saddled with the task of replacing Naked City at the bottom of ABC's Wednesday lineup. Viewers were likely conditioned to think Channing was actually a member of the school faculty, not the school itself, given the above examples.

Character actor Henry Jones was given top billing as the dean, with Jason Evers as a professor who was the actual main protagonist. The ensemble in this anthology series also included Leslie Nielsen and Yvonne Craig, neither of whom we will see in the sample episode below.

Associate producer Bob Rafelson rebounded nicely, thank you, working on The Monkees and "Five Easy Pieces" post-Channing.

So what went wrong? Channing aired opposite Danny Kaye's variety hour on CBS, and viewers gravitated there, costing Channing the audience of its lead-in, Ben Casey.

Following is the episode, "The Trouble With Girls", with guest stars Keir Dullea, Frances Reid (pre-Days of Our Lives), Joey Heatherton, and Mark Goddard.

No rating.

Sports this 'n' that

After 41 seasons, Fred Wilpon will no longer be in charge of the Mets.

Logos and uniforms of the New York Mets - Wikipedia
On Monday, Wilpon & business partner Saul Katz reached an agreement with billionaire Steve Cohen to sell the team. All it needs now is to be ratified, if you will, by a majority of the other 29 owners in November, but already, Mets fans on message boards are absolutely giddy. An 11th hour bid by actress-singer Jennifer Lopez and her steady, ESPN/Fox analyst Alex Rodriguez, was not enough to postpone the inevitable. In fact, it's better that Cohen has bought the team. Team J-Rod would've been a perpetual distraction because of both stars being tabloid fodder for the press. With 2 weeks to go, the Mets still have an outside chance at the postseason, but maybe this is the inspiration they need. Stay tuned.
You can say the Pac-12 & Big 10 conferences are caving in to political pressure from America's Oldest Baby.

Reports have the Pac-12 mulling a November start for a shorter than normal football season, and the Big 10, which has member schools in two midwest swing states, Michigan & Ohio, and felt the most pressure from President Trump to start play, may be following suit. Nothing's been finalized yet as of press time, but after seeing games played the last two weekends with few or no fans in the stands, there are possibilities.
Watching Giants-Steelers last night on Monday Night Football, I wouldn't blame you if you thought it was Saturday night.

That's because ESPN assigned their primary college commentators, Chris Fowler & Kirk Herbstreit, to call the front end of the doubleheader, which would be the first NFL game assignment for both. Fowler is coming off covering the US Open tennis tournament for the network, and was in the tri-state area, anyway.

For whatever it's worth, the Giants spoiled the debut of new head coach Joe Judge by dropping a 26-16 decision to Pittsburgh, and this was despite the Steelers losing leading runner James Connor to an ankle injury in the first half. Daniel Jones, starting his 2nd season with Big Blue, was pressured the entire night, and threw perhaps the easiest interception of the week to Subway pitchman T. J. Watt. Ben Roethlisberger threw a couple of TD passes to Ju Ju Smith-Schuster, and the defense did the rest.

Former Giants coach Pat Shurmur, now the offensive coordinator in Denver, was a loser Monday night as well, as the Broncos blew a 4th quarter lead in a 16-14 loss to Tennessee. Stephen Gostkowski, yet another ex-Patriot who flew south to the Titans to play for Mike Vrabel, hit the game winning field goal with under a minute to go after missing three previous attempts.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Does deodorant calm your nerves? (1979)

In 1977, Gillette introduced Soft & Dri deodorant as their answer to Ban (then a property of Bristol-Myers, IIRC), and Procter & Gamble's Secret, a deodorant marketed to women. Gillette has subsequently sold the product, as it currently is made by Village Products.

In this 1979 spot, a then-unknown Rita Wilson (now Mrs. Tom Hanks) leads off a trio of vignettes to promote the product. Casey Kasem, who was everywhere at the time, and was a studio announcer for NBC, among his many jobs, is the narrator.

Nervous? I think they wanted you to buy the idea that it prevented wetness.

Musical Interlude: Velcro Fly (1985-6)

"Velcro Fly" was the 4th single off ZZ Top's 1985 CD, "Afterburner". The single was made available in stores in July of 1986, and garnered mucho airplay on both radio & MTV.

It's easy to see as far as the video goes. The real fun is watching the band doing some dance moves, choreographed by Paula Abdul, who also choreographed videos for Janet Jackson and for Dan Aykroyd & Tom Hanks ("City of Crime") for the "Dragnet" soundtrack before climbing the charts herself. Too bad Paula wasn't one of the ladies appearing in the video.....

Some of the archived footage must've been left over after Robert Plant shot the Honeydrippers' video for "Rockin' at Midnight" (Plant and ZZ Top were both under the WB umbrella back then).

Football this 'n' that

With tonight's Monday Night Football double-header left on the Week 1 schedule, Sunday's NFL slate provided some surprises, and plenty of insight into the season going forward.

This season is meant to answer two questions. Could the New England Patriots succeed without Tom Brady at QB, and could Brady do what Jameis Winston failed to do in five seasons in Tampa Bay, lead them to the Super Bowl?

Week 1 provided only partial answers.

The Patriots, with yogurt salesman Cam Newton at QB, beat Miami, 21-11. Given that coach Bill Belichick is one of several NFL personalities joining the Watt brothers in shilling for Subway this season, I'd not be surprised to find subs and yogurt in the commissary for the players at Gillette Stadium. As far as the AFC East goes, it's the same old, same old.

In New Orleans, Brady rushed for a touchdown, threw 2 TD passes, and 2 interceptions, one of which was a pick-six for ex-Giant Janoris Jenkins, as Tampa Bay dropped its opener to the Saints. The Bucs' biggest problem? They acquired Leonard Fournette (Jacksonville) and LeSean McCoy (Buffalo) to bolster the running game, but the offense, as it was in New England for 20 years, is predicated on Brady. Period. Tampa will have its home opener next week vs. Carolina.
The Los Angeles Rams christened their new home, So-Fi Stadium, with a 20-17 win over Dallas. Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow saw how much different things are in the pros, as Cincinnati dropped a 16-13 decision to the Los Angeles Chargers. Everyone's assuming the Carolina Panthers will fall into the NFC South basement, and for now, they share 2nd place with Tampa Bay & Atlanta after losing, 34-30, to the Las Vegas Raiders.

For all the talk about how pro sports leagues wanted to avoid Vegas like the plague, the success of the NHL's Golden Knights in their three seasons to date have proven that "Sin City" will support a pro sports team, and that's why the Raiders decided to leave Oakland a 2nd time.

Ex-Carolina coach Ron Rivera disclosed before the season began that he has been diagnosed with cancer. Then, his new team, the Washington Deviants, upset Philadelphia, 27-17. Similarly, Arizona upset the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers, 24-20. Seattle opened with a road win over Atlanta, 38-25.
New year, same old Jests, who lost to Buffalo, 27-17. The clock is already ticking on Adam Gase, and the press already is assuming, for the 2nd straight season, that the Jets could tank so they can get Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence with the #1 pick next spring. Gase is another example of a coach who is not a perfect fit as a head coach. Wore out his welcome in Miami after 2 seasons, and it looks like the same fate will befall him in New York unless things change.

Don't hold your breath on that.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

More idiocy from people with small minds

No President has gone more than two terms since Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected four times. The 22nd Amendment capped the Presidential term limit to two full terms, or, eight years.

At a rally on Saturday in a small Nevada town, President Trump claimed that he's "probably entitled" to a 3rd term because of how he and his administration have been treated.


It's safe to say that Trump would rather continue to tell more tall tales than Pecos Bill than acknowledge defeat, regardless of margin. And he ain't alone.

Roger Stone, an adviser to Trump who had his prison sentence commuted by Trump earlier this summer, went on Alex Jones' radio show, and suggested that Trump should impose martial law if he loses. The Constitution decrees that Trump's term would end on January 20 at 12:00 pm (ET) if he loses. Not a thing he can do about it, other than ensure that his future involves an empty room with either iron bars or padded walls if he takes Stone's advice. Unfortunately, America's Oldest Baby and the Legion of the Brainwashed don't understand or comprehend the simplicity of that rule. Trump, then, would get hammered just for being drunk with power, on top of everything else.

The Archduke of Affluenza needs a reality check every day. End of story.

On The Air: 25 Words or Less (2019)

What would be the best way to describe 25 Words or Less, which begins its 2nd season this month?

From what I've seen, there are elements of other games. Bidding for how many words are to be used in a  specific round, for example, recalls Name That Tune's Bid a Note segment. The format of two celebrities and one contestant on each side has been used on a zillion other shows over the years.

Meredith Viera (ex-The Today Show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?) serves as series host. The game is easy to play, like a party game at home. Check this sample, with John Michael Higgins (America Says), ex-NBA star Rick Fox, and Melissa Peterman (ex-Reba).

Locally, the show airs on the NBC affiliate as a bridge between the noon news and Days of Our Lives. There've been at least three weeks with WWE superstars, where they take turns doing the announcing, giving the show's announcer a week off. Eh, it's fun.

Rating: A.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Why doesn't the President want his tax returns revealed?

On Friday, President Donald Trump lost the latest round in a protracted legal battle with Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr. (Cyrus, Sr. was secretary of state under Jimmy Carter) over his tax returns.

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

"WAAAAAHHHHHH!!! I'm rich! I don't have to show my tax returns to anyone! WAAAAHHHHH!!"

The burning question, of course, is why Trump, who promised he'd turn over those returns upon being elected four years ago, is going back on that particular promise. It makes people think he has something to hide. Like the prospect that he's not quite as wealthy as he'd like people to believe. He has also sued to keep his college transcripts confidential. Most Presidents before him willingly turned over their tax records to show transparency to the American people. You can bank on Joe Biden doing just that if he's elected in November, to return to tradition.

Trump is suing, and is being sued. No other President that I can think of had that kind of legal trouble while in office. The tabloid stories about, for example, the late John F. Kennedy, surfaced long after his assassination in 1963 (bear in mind, ye scribe didn't see these headlines 'til I was a teenager). Richard Nixon was undone by the Watergate scandal nearly a decade later, but he was more of a pro-active President than Trump wishes he could be, and, realizing how much trouble he was in, opted to resign, retaining what dignity he had remaining. Trump has no dignity, no shame, no transparency, just secrecy out of fear of exposure. Post-administration, Nixon remained a respected figure. Trump? Fuhgeddaboutit!!

Even fictional millionaires like Thurston Howell III (Jim Backus, Gilligan's Island) and John Beresford Tipton (Paul Frees, The Millionaire) would engender more trust than Trump. Think about that.

A lesson Hollywood won't learn

In this era of diversity casting, Hollywood has gone overboard, rebooting familiar TV series, and, sometimes, movies, with African-American casts. Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, it doesn't.

On television, the trend has been to revive game shows with African-American hosts, a topic we've discussed before. The latest in this trend is ABC bringing back home Supermarket Sweep for primetime consumption, with Leslie Jones (ex-Saturday Night Live) serving as MC. The series returns to ABC after more than 50 years away, and the last incarnation went through two cable networks (Ion & Lifetime), with David Ruprecht as host.

But for every game that succeeds with this trend (i.e. Steve Harvey on Family Feud), there's a few that fall by the wayside.

Primetime drama has had an even more checkered record with revivals.

In 2005, someone at Universal thought it might be cool to turn Kojak into an African-American, and handed Ving Rhames Telly Savalas' old box of lollipops. The reboot on USA Network lasted 1 season. Eight years later, having learned nothing from the failures of not only Kojak, but also revivals of Night Stalker, Bionic Woman, & Knight Rider in the interim, Universal decided to try again, this time putting Blair Underwood (ex-L. A. Law) into Raymond Burr's wheelchair as Ironside, and relocated the series from San Francisco to New York. Didn't even make it to Christmas.

Around the same time the Kojak reboot was in production, some genius thought repackaging Jackie Gleason's seminal The Honeymooners with an inner-city beat would work as a feature film. Nope. Having Cedric The Entertainer (currently in The Neighborhood) and Mike Epps as Ralph Kramden & Ed Norton didn't translate at the box office.

And that brings us to news of a remake of John Hughes' 1987 comedy, "Planes, Trains, & Automobiles", with Will Smith and the super-busy Kevin Hart in the roles originated by Steve Martin and the late John Candy. If you've never seen the original, the trailer should motivate you to rent the DVD:

Due to arrive next year, I believe, the new "Planes" is meant to capitalize on the box office appeal of its leads. The final verdict, of course, rests not so much with critics, but with the ticket buying consumers. Hollywood in the 21st century is so obsessed with pre-sold product, it's getting insane.

Eventually, the gold mine of familiar properties will bottom out. Hollywood needs new ideas, but is servicing a generation or two of movie-goers that aren't willing to try something new. That needs to change.

Friday, September 11, 2020

A primer on Presidential dignity that Republicans have forgotten

President Donald Trump seems to think he's on a par with past Republican Presidents such as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Trump is no fan of the Bushes, but makes George W. Bush look like a genius because of his mishandling of the coronavirus.

Trump wanted to downplay the virus to avoid a panic, but that horse left the barn anyway. Where he also fails is the fact he lacks the qualities that makes a good President on either side of the aisle. Dignity, grace, and charisma.

Reagan, because of his Hollywood background preparing him for a political career that began with a stint as Governor of California, earned the respect of voters on both sides. The following video is a montage of excerpts from his debates with President Jimmy Carter and, in 1984, Walter Mondale.

Reagan sent Carter back to his peanut farm in Georgia. He sent Mondale into obscurity. He would've destroyed Trump if they had a debate back in the day. Today, he's looking down from Heaven, and not liking what he sees of the Republican party he once led.

40 years ago, we elected a man who became a strong leader. Today, we could be re-electing Joe Isuzu.