Thursday, December 31, 2020

Sports this 'n' that

 Traditionally, NFL teams that have already qualified for the playoffs will rest their starters in the final regular season game, the better to protect them from injury.

For example, the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs will give QB-State Farm pitchman Patrick Mahomes a week off as the Chiefs will close the season vs. the Los Angeles Chargers and rookie QB Justin Herbert. AFC North champion Pittsburgh will have Ben Roethlisberger on the bench for Sunday's finale vs. Cleveland. Mason Rudolph, who was at the center of an ugly incident vs. the Browns last year, will start.

But, it's not so easy for other teams due to COVID-19.

While the Browns will get their starting receiver corps, aside from injured Odell Beckham, Jr. (out for the season with a torn ACL), back vs. Pittsburgh, they have other key players on the COVID-reserve list. Miami will have rookie Tua Tagailova start vs. AFC East champion Buffalo due to Ryan Fitzpatrick testing positive for COVID. Likewise, the Los Angeles Rams, also fighting for a playoff spot, will be without receiver Cooper Kupp for their finale vs. Arizona.

NFC Least leader Washington cut 2nd year QB Dwayne Haskins after losing to Carolina last week, but they're not sure if Alex Smith will start the season finale vs. Philadelphia. Kyle Allen, who came over with coach Ron Rivera from the Panthers, is out for the year.

Figure the bookies will be at church this week, just for fun.
The San Antonio Spurs made history Wednesday night in a losing effort against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Head coach Greg Popovich was ejected after receiving two technical fouls for protesting a foul call against one of his players. Assistant coach Becky Hammon, the former WNBA All-Star, took over the head coaching duties for the rest of the game, becoming the first woman to be a head coach, even in an interim capacity, in a regular season NBA game. This is the same league that broke the gender barrier for officials just a few years ago, with the NFL following suit in recent years. Hammon got her props on social media from players around the league, including the Lakers' LeBron James, following the game.

Officially, Popovich gets tagged with the loss as a coach, but if San Antonio came back and won, then what?
Five days later, the wrestling community is still mourning the loss of Jonathan Huber, who wrestled as Brodie Lee for AEW and some independents, and as Luke Harper for WWE, who passed away due to a non-COVID-related lung disease on December 26.

On Wednesday, AEW dedicated its Dynamite broadcast to Huber, as his team, the Dark Order, won all 5 matches its members participated in, turning babyface at least for the night.

Even Huber's son, Brodie, 8, got in on the action. After getting his Dark Order mask taken from him by Maxwell J. Friedman, Brodie, code-named -1, got even by clocking Friedman upside the head with a kendo stick. Storylines were put aside for the night, as most, if not all, of the wrestlers wore black armbands in memory of their fallen comrade.

At the end of the night, AEW owner Tony Khan led a ceremony that saw Huber's boots left in center ring. -1, who got his mask back, got a hug from Khan.

It was reported today that Brodie Huber was signed to a futures contract, meaning that when he is of age, say around 2030, if he's still got interest in the business, he'll make his pro debut with AEW.

Jon Huber was a native of Rochester, one of a select few from the Empire State to make the big time. Fellow Rochester resident Dalton Castle, the former WQBK-FM DJ, continues to compete for Ring of Honor. WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix is a Buffalo native. Huber, as Brodie Lee, won the TNT title from Cody Rhodes earlier this year, only to drop it back to Rhodes in October. He also was a 2-time tag team champion and an Intercontinental champion as Luke Harper with WWE during his time there.

A Classic Reborn: Rescue From Gilligan's Island (1978)

 The success of syndicated reruns of Gilligan's Island had convinced series creator-executive producer Sherwood Schwartz that a live-action reunion could actually work.

Four years earlier, Schwartz had contracted with Filmation to adapt the series as a Saturday morning cartoon, The New Adventures of Gilligan, with all except Dawn Wells (Mary Ann) & Tina Louise (Ginger) returning. One season's worth of episodes were produced, and then syndicated as part of a larger package that Filmation sold to stations in 1978.

Not long after that came the first of what would be three Gilligan TV-movies, but, as with the cartoon, it wasn't for CBS. The cartoon aired on ABC, while NBC landed the movie series. Wells returned, but Louise, adamant about not returning at all to avoid typecasting, was replaced by Judith Baldwin for "Rescue From Gilligan's Island", which aired as a 2-part miniseries on NBC in October 1978 before being rerun as a full-length movie. Schwartz, of course, would also place the first revival of his other franchise, The Brady Bunch, at NBC a couple of years later.

The castaways finally come home, 11 years after the original series had ended, and the plot suggests that the series was set a year prior to airing (set in 1963, while the show ran from 1964-7). Returning to civilization presents a new set of problems for the gang.....

Schwartz had settled in at NBC, having produced, through his Redwood Productions, the short-lived Saturday morning fantasy-com, Big John, Little John, in 1976. The two sequels were co-produced by Universal, although the original series' rights remain with WarnerMedia.

In memory of Dawn Wells, 82, who passed away Wednesday due to complications from coronavirus.

No rating out of respect.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

A primer on cancer (On With Your Life, 1972)

 The American Cancer Society's Wisconsin chapter contracted with Paramount to make use of some of the cast of Mission: Impossible, specifically, Peter Graves, Greg Morris, and Peter Lupus.

Stafford Repp (ex-Batman, General Hospital) appears briefly around the 8 1/2 minute mark. 

Nearly 50 years later, it's still a relevant issue.

What Might've Been: The Manhattan Transfer Show (1975)

 Props to fellow blogger Chuck Miller for the tip.

It was the summer of 1975. In an era where just about anybody could get a variety show, the jazz-vocal combo Manhattan Transfer were given a 4 week tryout in August, as a fill-in for Cher on CBS. This quartet looked more at home playing Carnegie Hall or Radio City Music Hall. 

A little truth here. The first Transfer song I'd ever heard was 1980's "Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone", not to be confused with the Dutch group Golden Earring's "Twilight Zone" a couple of years later. As you can ascertain, I didn't see this show. I was just starting to go to church at the time.

That said, there's no rating. Enjoy the show, with an introduction by actor Jon Voight. 200 Years Ago Today, later rechristened Bicentennial Minute, follows, with Werner Klemperer (ex-Hogan's Heroes):

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

A party game for adults (1978)

 Hasbro, after years of producing games and toys for the kiddo's, tried to market a "party game" aimed at adults more than 40 years ago.

Great Moves was a short lived game that I'd imagine teenagers could play, too, but I'm not so sure about the little kids. This is because the commercial that introduced the product was loaded with celebrities, including:

Maureen McCormick & Barry Williams (ex-The Brady Bunch)
Roz Kelly (ex-Happy Days)
Ronnie Schell (ex-Good Morning, World, Gomer Pyle, USMC)
Peter Isacksen (CPO Sharkey)
Fred Berry (What's Happening)

I guess this was meant to be Hasbro's answer to Milton Bradley's long running Twister, except that this has the drawing board on different body parts, depending on the stunt. Oh, by the way, Hasbro has long since bought out Milton Bradley....!

A little of this and a little of that

 Cam Newton might not be starting for New England vs. the Jests next Sunday, and he surely won't be back in a Patriot uniform for the 2021 season.

Newton was sent to the bench again Monday after performing ineffectively in a 38-9 blowout loss to the AFC East champion Buffalo Bills. For the Bills, it is a rare season sweep of the Patriots, something that hasn't happened since the 90's, and it's the first time either of the Patriots' AFC East rivals, be it Miami or the Jests, have swept them since 2000.

I guess Greek yogurt and Subway do not mix well.
After reaching the playoffs this year, the San Diego Padres are poised to try to get there again in 2021.

To that end, the Padres made a pair of trades the last couple of days. First, they made another deal with the AL champion Tampa Bay Rays, having sent Hunter Renfroe to Tampa last off-season, this time acquiring Tampa ace Blake Snell. Then, San Diego heisted Yu Darvish away from the Chicago Cubs. The message is being sent to not only the NL West, but to everyone else. These Pads mean business.
It will be an embarrassment to the NFL if the Washington Deviants win the NFC Least next Sunday night by beating Philadelphia. I just can't see the Lombardi Trophy being given on February 7 to the "Washington Football Team" after a sub-.500 season.
CNN's Jake Tapper pulled no punches on another CNN program by castigating the Duchess of Dumb, Kayleigh McEnany, by saying he'd never book her on his State of The Union for being a chronic liar.

Brian Tyler Cohen explains:

Someone should Rick-roll Kayleigh with Don Henley's "Dirty Laundry". Just sayin'.
WWE's Money in The Bank has officially jumped the shark.

How, you might ask?

After the Miz (Michael Mizanin, Miz & Mrs., Cannonball) scammed the briefcase away from Otis in October, his tag team partner, John Morrison (Hennegan), acting as a proxy, we all assumed, cashed in the case at TLC 9 days ago so that Miz could enter what would now be a 3-way match against champion Drew McIntyre and challenger AJ Styles. McIntyre retained.

24 hours later, it dawns on the two scammers that, technically, Miz didn't directly cash in the case, so he still has a claim to it, and last night, the case was returned to him, all because, in the storyline, USA Network "has a lot invested" in Miz, to the point where they seemingly took a bribe to have Mandy Rose (Amanda Saccomanno) moved from Smackdown to Raw, and subsequently drafted to Team Red, as a means of weakening Mandy's storyline honey, Otis, who subsequently lost the case in a match.

Sorry, but that's unacceptable!!!

Creative fumbled the ball on this one many times over. Miz clearly resorted to bribery to get what he wanted, but isn't being properly punished. Instead of going with the obvious and accepting that Morrison was a proxy, which technically would mean that Miz is SOL as far as the briefcase is concerned, the scribbling idiots under the direction of Vince McMahon & Bruce Prichard decided to reset the briefcase with Miz. This diminishes the value of the briefcase to nearly nothing. Zilch! Nada! It isn't going to be worth it to have a Money in The Bank PPV going forward.

Monday, December 28, 2020

What Dr. FrankenTrump has wrought: An ambulance chaser wants two Republican Senators arrested!

 With 9 days before Congress puts the final nail in the Trump administration's coffin, one of the screwloose ambulance chasers retained by the administration has turned on Georgia Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.

What L. Lin Wood wants is to have the two Senators and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, no saint at all, we must remind, arrested, and wants Georgia Republicans to boycott the runoff election on January 5, which would actually ensure that Loeffler & Perdue would be getting tickets out of Washington.

What is this goober thinking?

Wood, being a total moron, is clinging to long debunked conspiracy theories about the Presidential election last month, and that the increasing paranoia within the GOP believes that certain in the party are complicit, along with a variety of other "suspects", including the late Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chavez, who passed away in 2013. Wood is ignorant of the fact that two companies, Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems, are threatening legal action against him, Trump, Silly Sidney Powell, Rudy Goofiani, Tabloid Carlson, Spam Hannity, etc., for perpetuating the lies.

When you add this to a report out today that certain GOP lawmakers such as "Screwy" Louie Gohmert are suing VP Mike Pence in a desperate bid to overturn the election results when the votes are counted next week, and that once-respected evangelist Kenneth Copeland went off the rails again on Sunday, claiming that the devil had "stolen" the election, the only civil war going on is within the Republican party. The GOP is imploding from within, and no one within the party seems willing to stop it.

On The Shelf: The reality of heroism

 When Stan Lee created Spider-Man nearly 60 years ago, his core idea was that despite the power, despite the responsibility that went with it, Peter Parker was still an ordinary joe who learned the hard way that there is no profit in crimefighting. Peter wanted to help his aunt make ends meet, and, later, pay the rent on his own apartment, since his work as a news photographer didn't always pay the bills.

Local blogger Mike Spring has taken that idea one step further.

Earlier this year, Spring started a Kickstarter account to fund his first comic book effort, Red, White, & Broke: Confessions of an American Superhero, which arrived in stores just in time for Christmas.

Red, White, & Broke introduces us to Captain Stronghold, aka Robert Rhodes, who has all the tools, except for one important thing. He's broke. Rhodes reveals his identity on television, along with his plight, knowing full well he's only adding to his personal burden.

Spring is doing two things here. One, he's calling attention to the seriousness of the homeless in our society, pointing out that there could conceivably be a hero among them if they had the courage to stand up for themselves. He's showing his readers what the real world looks like through the lenses of his protagonist. Two, by having Rhodes reveal his secret identity, he's addressing the hubbub over Brian Bendis' decision earlier this year to have Superman reveal his dual identity as reporter Clark Kent, and how, as a fan, he feels about it.

Image courtesy of Kickstarter.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge artist Dennis Tirona, Spring's partner in this venture. He hits every note needed to carry the story.

Now, I don't know when the next issue comes out, but let's give Spring & Tirona credit where it's due for a job well done.

Rating: A-.
Speaking of Bendis, one of the characters he created for Young Justice closes the door on the Wonder Comics imprint with her own 1-shot special.

Jinny Hex is, in fact, descended from Western hero Jonah Hex, who appears in a brief flashback. However, writer Magdalene Visaggio, remembering that Jonah became an icon in the 70's in the pages of Weird Western Tales (formerly All-Star Western), leans into a supernatural-centric plot that is too far removed from Young Justice. At her core, Virginia "Jinny" Hex is a small town girl who's in over her head with a problem she doesn't understand. Not what ye scribe expected.

Rating: C.
There is nothing simple in anything Tom King writes.

The author now has a 3rd maxi-series (that's what they called 12 issue books back in the day) on the shelf with Batman-Catwoman. Instead of leaning into the plotline he'd started in Batman before being unceremoniously dumped a year ago, King decides to take readers back & forth in time, which I think he's also doing in Strange Adventures, except that this is a past/present/future storyline involving old foes such as the Joker, as well as the Phantasm, who was introduced in a DCAU movie several years back. The way this is being set, one would think King is bucking to take over Catwoman when this is all said & done, but, nope. I don't think he's going to be entrusted with another ongoing series going forward.

This is a pretty good thrill ride, though.

Rating: A.
News & notes: The Joker will get his own book for the first time since the 70's come March, spinning out of the Infinite Frontier 1-shot. Seems the Clown Prince of Crime is on the run after doing something really heinous......It would appear that Justice League Dark is being folded into Justice League proper, with Brian Bendis taking over the latter book. Yes, he's apparently done with Legion of Superheroes, at least for now........DC, having already revised the whole core concept behind Swamp Thing thanks to Alan Moore back in the 80's, has found a new host for the character in the form of a fella from India, and the solicitations suggest this is more of a condition where the new guy can't control his changes. In short, I'm invoking caveat emptor with this one.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Now, the VP is being sued, and the plantiffs claim the votes haven't been certified. Oh, the pain of idiocy!

 "Dare to be Stupid!"--"Weird" Al Yankovic, 1985.

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

"(They're) dumber than a bag of hammers."--George Clooney, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", 2000.

I paraphrased that last quote to reference the goofballs representing the Thomas More Society, a conservative law group that has filed the mother of all frivolous lawsuits against Vice President Mike Pence, the Electoral College, the Senate, and the House of Representatives, all in a desperate bid to overturn the election and keep President Trump in office.

Farron Cousins explains:

Comparing them to chimps is an insult to chimps. The Electoral College certified the result of the election earlier this month, but these morons are ignoring it. I'm not so sure Trump even knows about this while spending the holiday weekend at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. The Legion of The Brainwashed just doesn't get it, and likely never will. Pence will be in charge, as President of The Senate, of the process of the final certification of the votes a week from Wednesday, at which point, it's finally over, regardless of what these jackasses claim to the contrary.

It's a waste of time, manpower, money, and what few brain cells these people have left. And like the rest of these lame lawsuits, this is doomed to fail.

Somewhere, Thomas More is turning over in his grave.

Sports this 'n' that

 The Detroit Lions were missing about half of their coaching staff, including interim head coach Darrell Bevell, and some key players heading into Saturday's matinee vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The coaches were out due to---what else?----coronavirus issues, and it didn't help that the Lions lost QB Matthew Stafford in the first half due to injury, with Chase Daniel finishing the game.

Tom Brady and the Bucs built up such a big lead at halftime that coach Bruce Arians gave Brady the 2nd half off, while leaving Rob Gronkowski and Mike Evans in the game, likely due to incentives in their contracts, I'd guess, though past history reminds that Gronk was left in the game too long in a New England blowout of Indianapolis in 2012, and ended up getting injured when he should've been out of the game.

So naturally, Yahoo! accused the Bucs, who won, 47-7, of running it up as they locked down a wild card in the NFC.

The Lions wanted the game moved to today, so that the coaching staff would've been at full strength, but the league refused. The detractors will claim it's because they promoted the game and emphasized Brady. They'll also say that because the Lions are a weak team this year, in last place in the NFC North, they weren't getting any help from the league, which is wrong.
The NFL also decided that the NFC West match between Arizona & San Francisco, won by the 49ers, would not be on over the air television. They contracted with Amazon Prime for the game (it's all about the money), though it was also available on Twitch, which is how I watched the game. The Cardinals' playoff hopes took a hit with the loss, as the Niners, last year's NFC champs, have already been eliminated from playoff contention.
In the nightcap, Miami tripped Las Vegas, 26-25, but in the course of the game, benched rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa in favor of veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. Like the Cardinals, the Raiders' chances decreased with the loss.
Pro wrestling was hit with a double whammy over the weekend.

First, legendary college and pro champion Danny Hodge had passed away. Hodge was one of the first stars to emerge from the University of Oklahoma, paving the way for later champions such as Steve "Dr. Death" Williams and current AEW/Bellator star Jake Hager.

Later in the night, speaking of AEW, Jon Huber, aka Mr. Brodie Lee, passed away due to lung issues at 41.

Huber, who worked as Luke Harper in WWE from 2014-19 on the main roster, winning the Intercontinental and tag titles during that span, held the TNT title in AEW as Lee earlier this year, set up as the figurehead leader of the Dark Order heel faction. A Rochester native, Huber was also a family man, and, as a gag, his young son Brodie was allowed to pin current AEW champion Kenny Omega at a recent taping.

Here's AEW's statement on the passing of Huber.

Rest in peace.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

America's Oldest Baby finds something else to whine about

 As President Donald Trump's term is grinding to a close, a slow news day at Yahoo! reveals that, for whatever reason, during the course of the administration, First Lady Melania Trump has not appeared on a lot of magazine covers, which is not sitting well with America's Oldest Baby and the Legion of The Brainwashed.

"WAAAHHH!!! Why isn't Melania on the cover of Vogue? Or Cosmo? WAAAAHHH!"

There's a simple reason for that. It's called an editorial decision. Of course, the jealous Trump notes the dozen or so times that Michelle Obama has appeared on magazine covers such as Vogue, Time, and Parade over the course of the 8 years she spent in Washington. Magazine editors have perhaps assumed that any interview with Melania, meant to accompany a cover photo, would inevitably address Dumb Donald as a topic, and those editors would rather not give free publicity to a polarizing figure such as the President.

Would an interview with Melania have actually been worth it, given what little we know about her personal life before she met Dumb Donald? Yes. She had one commercial endorsement deal (Aflac Insurance, 2005), but otherwise has largely been away from the public eye aside from being seen with her bloviating husband. That, though, might actually have been her choice, but try telling that to the Legion of The Brainwashed.

Predictably, Dumb Donald has dismissed the el snubbino as "fake news". The man just doesn't get it. I'm pretty sure there are folks who'd like to learn a little more about Melania, who, if my memory serves me correctly, is the first foreign-born first lady. 

This would not have been an issue at all if Trump wasn't a self-serving jackass. Period.

In Theatres: Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

 Ah, the 1980's. The era of excess.

It's the setting for "Wonder Woman 1984", the 2nd solo adventure of the Amazing Amazon (Gal Gadot), as she faces not one but two enemies.

One is Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal, The Mandalorian, ex-Game of Thrones), presented here as a con artist and business partner to Simon Stagg, whom comics fans know as the primary antagonist of another DC hero, Metamorpho. Here, Lord is of Spanish background, but changed his name to get away from an abusive childhood. He's also a divorcee, with shared custody of his son, who figures prominently in the finale.

The other is the Cheetah, in this case, archeologist Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig, ex-Saturday Night Live), presented as a mousy neurotic, which hews to recent interpretations of the character in the comics.

What brings them together is an ancient artifact that Barbara found and brought back to the Smithsonian in Washington, where she and Diana both work, albeit in different departments. 

If Barbara's story seems familiar to moviegoers, it's because it's been done before by both Marvel (Electro in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2") and DC (Catwoman in "Batman Returns"). It's a trope that never gets old.

WB's strategy was to release the film, which had been delayed at least three times since filming concluded last year due to COVID-19, both to theatres (limited availability in multiplexes in the 518) and on HBO Max, the better to call attention to the new streaming service, which has been active for nearly a year.

I should note that there's a mid-credits scene that will please long time fans of Wonder Woman, and leave it at that.

Here's the trailer, from WB's YouTube channel:

And, yes, Diana will return. But will the Cheetah? 

Rating: A-.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Countdown to Christmas: A Christmas Carol (1939)

 We've seen Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol adapted for movies, television, and the stage. Ye scribe actually acted in a Christian-themed school production in 1978. Never gave acting any serious thought afterward.

Digression over. Carol had also been adapted, unsurprisingly, for radio, dating back to the mid-30's. For example, CBS' Campbell Playhouse, which lasted just three years total after the soup giant landed a deal with Orson Welles, shortly after Welles' celebrated adaptation of War of The Worlds, presented Carol in each of the two seasons of its hour-long format. Welles starred as Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1938 production, but a year later, moved over to serve as narrator, opening room for Lionel Barrymore, who first essayed the role of Scrooge on radio in 1934.

Here, then, is the Welles-Barrymore production from 1939. Also heard are Everett Sloane and Bea Benaderet, among others.

It is our Christmas gift to one and all. No rating. We'll see you on Saturday. Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Musical Interlude: Johnny B. Goode (1977)

 From season 5 of Happy Days:

Ex-con-turned-musician Leather Tuscadero (Suzi Quatro) hits Milwaukee with her backup group, the Suedes. She recruits Richie & Potsie (Ron Howard & Anson Williams) to play behind her on a cover of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode". (Of course, the guys are just miming, as studio musicians actually played the guitar parts)

This was from the first half of a 2-part story.

You've heard of the blind leading the blind? The stupid can lead the stupid, too, in so many ways...........

 They say desperate men do desperate things.

President Trump is hardly desperate for attention. He seeks it out on a daily basis, because you can't go a day without a headline bearing his name for whatever.

I was prepared to finally cut him a break because he opposed the new stimulus package that has gone through Congress, simply because Joe & Jane Average ain't getting enough. The package calls for $600 per person for anyone making less than $75,000 a year, or half of what we got in the spring. Trump said no, make it $2,000, and, shockingly House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is on the bus for that. Trump can thank the GOP for trying to screw Joe & Jane Average again, but what he's really trying to do is make himself look good to the people in case he does decide to run again in 2024.

However, for every good thing he says or does, there's always two or three bad things.

Prior to his opposition to the stimulus package, Trump retweeted a video he saw on Twitter, which alleges that coronavirus was "invented" as a means of hurting his reelection chances. 


Now, I don't know who the moron is who posted the video, but we know that Trump admitted the severity of the virus in an interview with Bob Woodward all the way back in February, then downplayed it to avoid panicking the same people he's trying to give a financial mea culpa to in time for Christmas.

Farron Cousins explains:

That's the problem with these idiots denying the reality of the virus. They've listened to Trump work his shell game the last few years, and figure, yeah, he's an easy mark. Well, let's take into account his mental faculties aren't what they once were, if ever. What comes around, goes around. And around. And around.

Which is why the person behind the video----let's call him I. M. Stupid, since we don't know who he is----gets the Dunce Cap.

Trump's got a few of those to spare......

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

I've heard of crossovers, but this is ridiculous......

 I know The Muppets have a new show on Disney+, I believe. That's all the reason there really was for Disney to arrange a modest little crossover with ESPN, turning Monday Night Football into Muppet Night Football.

At least the intro was entertaining, with Kermit & Ms. Piggy opening the show, and leading into a football-themed riff on "Carol of The Bells":

Unfortunately for the Pittsburgh Steelers, their late season collapse continues, as they dropped a 27-17 decision to homestanding Cincinnati. Something tells me that QB Ben Roethlisberger is playing hurt, but trying to hide the pain in a bid to carry his team, Willis Reed-style, into the post-season. However, at this rate, what is now a 3 game losing streak could result in Pittsburgh falling out of playoff contention. This was supposed to be a gimme, considering the Bengals are in last place in the AFC North, and lost their rookie QB, Joe Burrow, to injury a few weeks back. Three Pittsburgh turnovers in the first half says that psychologically, the Steelers have lost their way.

Could a Steeler collapse lead to Cleveland or Baltimore taking the division? Well, Pittsburgh closes with the Browns........!

Countdown to Christmas: United Airlines salutes Santa (1965)

 Courtesy of the Pop Culture Archivist on Tumblr:

Here's a magazine ad for United Airlines from 1965, spotlighting Santa Claus.

And you wonder why NORAD makes a big deal of tracking Santa's global flight every year.....

There's no such thing as a no-fly zone with Santa.......

Monday, December 21, 2020

Countdown to Christmas: Ding-a-Ling The Christmas Bell (1971)

 I hadn't heard this next song until it played on the radio this morning before work. Man, it brings back some memories.

"Ding-a-Ling The Christmas Bell", recorded by Lynn Anderson in 1971, was actually being considered to be adapted into an animated special. The project never got off the ground, and, if you listen to the song, I think you'd understand why.

There is no video footage of Lynn singing this on TV back then, so all we have is a video with a screencap of the album cover.

"Ding-a-Ling", if you listen close, hews pretty close to Johnny Marks' immortal classic, "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer". Ding-a-Ling is an outcast who comes to the rescue when, in this case, Santa can't find his way into a snowbound small town. I think you can understand why it never even merited a half-hour special, although in the nearly 50 years since, there have been stranger tales.......

Football this 'n' that

 You didn't have to watch ESPN's College Football Playoff Selection Show, bloated as that was, to know that the eggheads in Dallas who make up the CFP selection committee were bent on pissing people off, just because they can.

Alabama held off a late rally by Florida to not only win the SEC title, but retain its #1 ranking. Ehh, ok. 'Bama haters likely will be looking at two seasons worth of AFLAC ads with coach Nick Saban as evidence that the CFP doesn't give a rat's butt about "Alabama Fatigue".

ACC champion Clemson has positioned itself for possibly another title game vs. the Crimson Tide, moving up to #2 after dispatching Notre Dame. The Irish drop to #4, as Big 10 champion Ohio State, with all of 6 games under its collective belt, moves to #3.

Yahoo!'s Dan Wetzel got on the stump to represent for American Athletic Conference champion Cincinnati, which went undefeated en route to the the league title, but get the el-snubbino because the AAC is considered a weak sister, with the Bearcats checking in at #8.

And so it is that the CFP semis are set for January 1:

Rose Bowl (Arlington, Texas): Clemson vs. Ohio State.

Sugar Bowl (New Orleans): Alabama vs. Notre Dame.

We know why the AAC and other "weak sister" conferences, including mid-majors like the Mid-American Conference, will never get consideration from the CFP.

It's all about name recognition, money, prestige, and reputation, not quite in that order.

There are those who are still calling for an expanded playoff, but for that to happen, you'd have to sacrifice some of those made-for-TV bowls, some of which aren't being played this season due to coronavirus. Bowl games mean money to college presidents. The NCAA and the CFP have made up their minds. They are not going to turn the CFP into the football answer to the basketball tournament, or even the College World Series in baseball, which has regionals and super regionals to fill out the field. By keeping the CFP at 4 teams, you're denying teams like Cincinnati, Ball State, Alabama-Birmingham, and others from joining the party and earning the right to play at the big boys' table. Generations of student-athletes have been conditioned and groomed to play for the Alabamas, Clemsons, and Notre Dames of the world, lured by the prospects of future pro contracts and endorsement deals, highlight reels airing on SportsCenter, and so on.

Oh, there will be players drafted from Cincinnati and UAB and Texas Tech, of course, but regardless of where you play, don't ya think you could benefit from the brass rings that go with playing in the CFP? Of course.

They really need to take the politics out of college sports. Yesterday.
One of the marquee games on Sunday's NFL slate had defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City in New Orleans to play the Saints. However, while the Saints may be taking some heat for rushing QB/Wrangler salesman Drew Brees back from a rib injury, which took some shine off the game, New Orleans defensive lineman Cameron Jordan is owning his situation.

Jordan was ejected in the 4th quarter for throwing what appeared to be a punch at a Chiefs lineman. He later admitted he cost his team the game, which Kansas City won, 32-29. Would that more players would take the high road, as Jordan did.
For the first time since 2008, the New England Patriots will not be in the AFC playoffs.

The Miami Dolphins sealed the casket on the Patriots with a 22-12 win, and while the Buffalo Bills clinched the division on Saturday, Miami is still in the hunt for a playoff spot with 2 games left. New England returns home to play the Bills, followed by the Jests, to close the season.

Speaking of the Jests, they finally won, upsetting the Los Angeles Rams, 23-20. It was QB Sam Darnold's "homecoming", if you will, returning to Los Angeles, where he played his college ball (USC). NFC West leader Seattle did its part, disposing of the Washington Deviants, but the Giants couldn't take advantage, and lost to Cleveland, 20-6, all but eliminating Big Blue from the playoffs. Two games remain, and the NFC Least figures to be the last division to be decided. We will remind that should the Deviants and Giants finish tied, the Giants sneak in the back door via the tiebreaker they hold over Washington after sweeping the season series.

The Jests winning means they probably won't get the #1 draft pick this spring, presumed to be Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence. Knowing these clowns, the NFL will decide that Jacksonville, which hasn't won since September, will get the #1 pick.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Musical Interlude: You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling (1980)

 The Righteous Brothers had a huge hit in 1965 with "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling". 15 years later, Daryl Hall & John Oates covered "Feeling", but fell short of #1 on the Hot 100.

Historians will note that this is a rare track with Oates on lead.

A little of this and a little of that

 It turns out the coaches were right.

The Rose Bowl Committee had asked for a special exemption to allow the families of players & coaches to attend the January 1 game in Pasadena. 

Request denied.

So, for the first time since forever, the Rose Bowl will not be played in Pasadena on New Year's Day. Instead, the game is being moved to the Temple of Excess, aka AT&T Stadium, aka JerryWorld (for Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones), in Arlington, Texas, which hosted the Big 12 title game Saturday afternoon. The College Football Playoff committee's offices are in Dallas. AT&T, now part of WarnerMedia, is a sponsor of college football games across the dial. It all fits.

However, karma came along and smacked Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly upside the head, not so much for being the loudest voice in the room, but, well, just because. Clemson did in fact collect a receipt on the Irish, 34-10, in the ACC title game, to punch their ticket to Arlington. 
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday that he believed Russia had something to do with the recent hacking of government computers.

Saturday, America's Oldest Baby contradicted Pompeo, and claimed, with no evidence, as usual, that it wasn't the Russians, but China.

What that says is that Donald Trump is bending over backward to protect his friend, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who, some say, has been like a role model to Trump during the last four years.

Meanwhile, Trump has been courting the notion of bringing back deranged attorney Sidney Powell to help him make one last desperate bid to overturn the election. Sorry, Dumb Donald, but the horse has left the barn, because when even Senate Majority Leader Mitch (Senator Pruneface) McConnell says it's time to move on, you might as well wave the white flag. Trump, Powell, and Rudy Giuliani all belong on the funny farm come January 21.

Worse, Michael Flynn is floating the idea to Dumb Donald to impose marital law.

Get over it. It's over. You lost. Take your ball and your toys and go home January 20. There's a room waiting for you at Bellevue!
The Giants will be without offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and defensive back James Bradberry for tonight's game vs. Cleveland. Both tested positive or were in contact with someone who had for COVID-19. A Giants win, coupled with a Washington loss to Seattle, would lift Big Blue back into 1st in the NFC Least.
Notre Dame's loss to Clemson will likely knock them out of the College Football Playoff, meaning #5 Texas A&M will likely move up for a date with Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, while Clemson plays Big 10 champ Ohio State.

Buckeyes running back Trey Sermon ran into the record books when he broke the school's single game rushing record with 331 yards in a come-from-behind win over Northwestern. Next stop? A longshot for the Heisman?

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Football this 'n' that

 It is Championship Weekend in college football. Three titles have already been decided, with six more on the line today, starting with the Big 10 & Big 12 title games (Fox & ABC, respectively).

On Friday, Oregon repeated as Pac-12 champ, ending USC's hopes for a perfect season, 31-24. Ball State, alma mater of talk show icon David Letterman, upended Buffalo to win the Mid-American Conference title, and Alabama-Birmingham defeated Marshall to win the Conference-USA championship.

Today, it's Ohio State vs. Northwestern in the Big 10, Oklahoma, looking for six titles in a row, vs. Iowa State in the Big 12, Alabama vs. Florida in the SEC, Notre Dame vs. Clemson in the ACC title game, a revenge game for the Tigers, who didn't have QB Trevor Lawrence due to coronavirus the first time.

Boise State and undefeated San Diego State will decide the Mountain West title, and Cincinnati plays for the American Athletic Conference title vs. Tulsa. The Power 5 conference games will have bearing on not only the College Football Playoff in 2 weeks, but the few bowls that are on the calendar, pairings of which will be announced as early as tomorrow.
As the Giants prepare to play Cleveland on Sunday, they'll do so without linebackers coach Bret Bielema, who has accepted the head coaching job at Illinois, replacing Lovie Smith, who was dismissed earlier this week. The Illini will close their season against Penn State this afternoon. Bielema, who, like Giants head coach Joe Judge, was an assistant to Bill Belichick at New England after leaving Arkansas.
While Notre Dame and Clemson will decide who actually does advance to the Rose Bowl in 13 days, coaches Brian Kelly and Dabo Swinney are expressing concerns about the event committee's insistence on playing the game in Pasadena, which would prevent the families of players & coaches on both teams from attending the game due to a COVID-19-enforced shutdown in California.

Kelly, reportedly, has threatened to boycott the game if the event committee can't get a waiver to allow families to attend the game.

They say two wrongs don't make a right, and this is a clear case. You can see Kelly's point. The Rose Bowl, rich in tradition, would be a destination for vacationing families this time of year under normal circumstances. What Kelly is looking for is for the Rose Bowl committee to move the game out of Pasadena for 2021 due to the pandemic, and to a safer locale.

The NFL's San Francisco 49ers are currently sharing space with the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, exactly for this reason.

The Rose Bowl committee's position, however, is based on a stubborn adherence to tradition. They can't have fans at the game because of the pandemic, but the city fathers in Pasadena are worried about---what else?----money, as in, loss of revenue not only from the game, but also the Tournament of Roses parade that morning. New Year's Day is the benchmark, if ya will, for the city's coffers every year.

Like, we're all dealing with the pandemic in some form or another. Kelly might've made a public relations blunder with his boycott threat, but there's no guarantee the Fighting Irish will be bound for Pasadena anyway.

Spoiler alert: Clemson collects a receipt.
When Sunday Night Football goes on the air tomorrow, it will be Mike Tirico at the mic, calling the game with Cris Collinsworth for the 2nd straight week. Al Michaels is remaining at home as a precaution, although sideline reporter Michelle Tafoya, who was also off last week, will return. Credit NBC with taking the appropriate steps here. Liam McHugh will anchor Football Night in America for Tirico for the 2nd straight week.
It'll be interesting to see what the ratings look like, as the ACC title game will air opposite the first half of the NFL Network doubleheader this afternoon (Buffalo vs. Denver), while the C-USA & SEC title games air directly opposite the other half of the NFLN double-dip (Green Bay vs. Carolina). Because NFL Network isn't in as many homes as, say, ESPN, the numbers ain't gonna be good. Trust me.

Old Time Radio: The Couple Next Door (1957)

 We had this up before, but all existing broadcasts of The Couple Next Door have since been deleted by YouTube and Internet Archive for copyright reasons.

Anyway, I had won a copy of a holiday episode compilation of the series, "Merry Mix-Ups", from fellow blogger Ivan Shreve a couple of years back, and that's when I posted the review, which I unfortunately had to delete.

Peg Lynch & Alan Bunce starred in what was a reboot of Lynch's earlier series, Ethel & Albert, to which she had lost the rights, hence a change in series title and character names. Character actress Margaret Hamilton ("The Wizard of Oz") was heard in some, if not all, episodes.

"Merry Mix-Ups" collects Christmas themed episodes over the course of the series' 2 year run (1957-9). Because the classic era of radio comedies and dramas was drawing to a close, Couple felt a little too generic, like a fair number of its contemporaries, and "Merry Mix-Ups" is a good example of this. I wish there were some samples still available, but not now. Maybe later.

Rating: B--.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Of Recent Vintage: Gene Krupa: Jazz Legend (actual date unknown)

 Many of today's jazz and rock drummers have cited Gene Krupa as an influence on their careers.

In fact, you can say Krupa inspired several generations of drummers, from Buddy Rich and Louie Bellson to Charlie Watts. Krupa struck out on his own after parting company with Benny Goodman, and became an even bigger star.

In 2004, Gene Krupa: Jazz Legend was released on DVD, but I have no clue when this was first produced, since narrator Steve Allen had passed on before the release of the DVD. A compilation of vintage footage and relatively forgotten television appearances, such as Lionel Hampton's One Night Stand in 1971, with Mel Torme and Rich.


The 1971 performance of "Sing, Sing, Sing", long a Goodman trademark, may sound familiar to today's audience from usage on shows like The Simpsons. I think Cartoon Network may have used a riff, too, for interstitals.

Rating: A.

What Might've Been: The 20th Century Fox Hour (1955)

 Anthology shows were a thing in the early years of television. Most had the sponsor's name in the title. In the case of our next entry, it was a case of a major studio making the most of its available resources.

The 20th Century Fox Hour was one of the studio's first television entries, airing on CBS, and alternating with another anthology series, The US Steel Hour, which we'll discuss another time. However, this series lasted just two seasons, and was repackaged in syndication as the Hour of Stars. When Fox Movie Channel exhumed the series many years later, they opted to use the Hour of Stars title, perhaps because it wouldn't be so obvious.

With Christmas a week away, here is a compacted adaptation of "Miracle on 34th Street", produced 8 years after the original film. Thomas Mitchell ("Gone With The Wind", "It's a Wonderful Life") and MacDonald Carey (10 years before Days of Our Lives) headline.

No rating. Just a public service.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Countdown to Christmas: Where Are You Christmas? (2000)

 From the 1st feature film version of Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas:

Country singer Faith Hill performs "Where Are You Christmas?", co-written by Mariah Carey. In the video, Faith interacts with the Grinch's dog, Max, and, before that, with Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen), who was aged up to 6 in the movie (she was actually a 2 year old toddler in the book and the 1966 cartoon).

Today, Taylor Momsen is the lead singer of the rock group, Pretty Reckless, after leaving Gossip Girl a number of years back. Faith Hill seems to have disappeared from the charts.

Origin of a Classic: The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (1971)

 It had been 8 years since Earl Hamner, Jr.'s novel had been adapted into the movie, "Spencer's Mountain". CBS asked Hamner to adapt another of his books for a holiday movie that became as much of a tradition as the series it spun off nine months later.

"The Homecoming: A Christmas Story", as with the subsequent The Waltons, was narrated by Hamner in character as an older John Walton, Jr., aka John-Boy (Richard Thomas), the eldest of the Walton children. The story is set in the days of the Great Depression, when Franklin D. Roosevelt was President. 

Aside from Ellen Corby (Grandma), Thomas, and the rest of the children (i.e. Jon Walmsley, Kami Cotler), most parts were recast for The Waltons. Patricia Neal plays Olivia (later played by Michael Learned). Edgar Bergen was cast as Grandpa Zeb (Will Geer took over the role, which would not be recast after Geer's passing during season 6), Woodrow Parfrey was store owner Ike Godsey (Joe Conley in the series), and Andrew Duggan (ex-Lancer) played John Walton, to be succeeded by Ralph Waite in the series.

To be honest, I couldn't find fault with Bergen, who was doing a good bit of acting sans his entourage (Charlie McCarthy, Mortimer Snerd) during this period, as Zeb, but apparently there were chemistry issues between him and some of the other actors.

The film's cast also includes William Windom (ex-My World & Welcome to it) and Cleavon Little.

Even after The Waltons ended, CBS would replay the movie every other year around Thanksgiving when they had the second NFL game of the day. This continued through the 80's, and maybe the early 90's.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

There is dumb, and then, there's these Dunces

 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally woke up to reality Tuesday, and congratulated President-elect Joe Biden.

Of course, that doesn't sit well with the outgoing president:

"WAAAHHH! It's not over! I won! I won! WAAAAHHHHH!!"

Unsurprisingly, President Trump took to Twitter to throw a Twantrum at McConnell, who, in turn, has warned his fellow Republican Senators not to disrupt the final formalities next month, when the Electoral College votes will be read in Congress by VP Mike Pence.

Meanwhile, the Duchess of Dumb, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, continued to advance the disinformation agenda of her boss. Of course, she got slammed on Twitter, with one user going so far as to suggest she could follow one of her predecessors, Sean Spicer, to Dancing With The Stars after she leaves her post on January 20. Well, she's had plenty of practice dancing away from reality since being hired.....!

With the Georgia Senate runoffs 2 1/2 weeks away, incumbents Kelly Loeffler & David Perdue are demanding voter information that they already have, as the Secretary of State in the Peach State reminded them.

Not to be outdone, newly elected North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn tried to take a page from the playbook of America's Oldest Baby, and smear Raphael Warnock, who is running for one of the two Senate seats in Georgia. Warnock, also an ordained pastor, was born & raised in Savannah, Georgia, and preaches in the same church where the civil rights icon, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., also preached years earlier. Trump tried that same tactic with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and that backfired badly. Something tells me that Mr. Cawthorn has never read Santayana.

Methinks Cawthorn just dug his political grave before he even is seated. He, along with Loeffler, Perdue, McEnany, and, of course, the King of Dunces, Trump, all get the caps this week.

Countdown to Christmas: The Ghost of Christmas Past (The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, 1969)

 From season 2 of The Ghost & Mrs. Muir:

After Claymore (Charles Nelson Reilly) tries scamming her into overpaying for a Christmas tree, Carolyn Muir (Hope Lange) gets an unexpected surprise when Claymore, also her landlord, shows up with a missing baby.

The ghost of Captain Daniel Gregg (Edward Mulhare) then plants a dream from his time, which lifts some material from a certain Dickens novel, into the minds of the Muir family and Claymore. Here's "The Ghost of Christmas Past":

No rating. Just a public service.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas on Match Game (1973)

 With the Christmas episode of Match Game in 1973, a tradition was born. Panelist Charles Nelson Reilly (ex-Ghost & Mrs. Muir, Lidsville) dressed up at Santa, and took method acting to a new level. Santa Reilly is joined by regulars Brett Somers (The New Perry Mason) & Richard Dawson, plus guests June Lockhart, who gets in a plug for CBS' coverage of the Tournament of Roses Parade a week later, Jack Cassidy (ex-He & She), and Loretta Swit (M*A*S*H).

Looking back at it today, a lot of the questions merit some facepalming, especially the contestants' answers.

Rating: A.

A little of this and a little of that

Fox has had a promotion this season on Fox NFL Sunday and Big Noon Saturday where viewers can go on the apps on their phones, pick 6 games, and if they win, they get some serious cheddar.

On Fox NFL Sunday, however, it seems that the "Super 6" promotion is ripping off a Comedy Central game show from the 90's.

You see, senior commentator Terry Bradshaw, the Hall of Fame QB of the Pittsburgh Steelers, is giving away $100,000 of "his own money". They give away $1,000 on Saturdays.

"Didn't someone do this before?"

Yes, they did. And that someone was Ben Stein.

Comedy Central got a few good years out of Win Ben Stein's Money, the same show from whence Fox plucked Jimmy Kimmel back in 1999 so that Kimmel could be their in-house handicapper, a gig Kimmel had until leaving for ABC in 2002. His cousin, Sal Iacono, is the current court jester/handicapper, having replaced Rob Riggle this season. Sal also debuted on Win Ben Stein's Money, after Nancy Pimental left the show (she was Kimmel's successor), and has been on cousin Jimmy's talk show.

I am begging ESPN to bring in Stein, if they haven't done it already, to test his football smarts on College GameDay someday.

As for Fox's "Super 6", if you ain't got the app, you're screwed. Shame on Fox.
Following up on a recent story, Texas high school sports star Emmanuel Duron's senior athletic season is over.

Duron was not only arrested for assaulting a referee in a recent game, but he has been banned from participating in other sports, including wrestling, for the rest of the school year. A harsh punishment, true, and Duron has apologized for his heat-of-the-moment actions. The final takeaway is that this would be a life lesson learned the hard way.

By the same token, Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Myles Garrett was suspended for a violent incident involving Pittsburgh QB Mason Rudolph last year. This year, Garrett has turned his life around, and is a nominee for the NFL's Walter Payton Man of The Year Award, sponsored by Nationwide Insurance (which means Nationwide shill Peyton Manning will probably present the award). 

We're praying Duron uses this as a motivating point to erase the stigma of his 15 minutes of infamy.
I've said for years that WWE CEO/Chairman/head nutcase Vince McMahon has needed to retire, despite his public declaration to the contrary.

Evidence remains that he is still creatively out to lunch.

Consider the sitch on Raw involving women's tag team champions Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax. For nearly three months, they have bullied and abused Lana (Catherine Perry-Barnyashev), putting her through the announcers' desk on several occasions. Raw women's champion Asuka has come to Lana's defense, but on Monday, after Lana defeated Jax in a singles match, Baszler ambushed Asuka backstage, leading to Lana getting abused again.

I honestly don't know what the end game is here, but the message is clear. Lana's been scratched from a tag title match scheduled for Sunday at TLC, which says that McMahon doesn't really have as much faith in Lana as he claims to. Her husband, Miro (formerly Rusev), is now with All Elite Wrestling, and many speculate that this is the reason for Lana being bullied and abused on television.

While the Be a Star anti-bullying program, which WWE has been involved with for nearly a decade, isn't getting as much play in recent years, it's still a thing. McMahon loves to recycle storylines, and this is one of them. It's rare, though, to see an underdog story done in the women's division. However, this has gone far enough, and needs to reach its end sooner rather than later.

Bottom line: While there is no place for bullying in today's society, McMahon would rather continue to use that trope, regardless of consequence.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Countdown to Christmas: Little Saint Nick (1964)

 Somehow, the Beach Boys envisioned a younger Santa Claus when they came up with 1964's "Little Saint Nick", off their Christmas album that year. It was enough, though, to get them on Shindig.....

It's all over but the crying continues......

 Today, the Electoral College meets virtually to have the next-to-last word on the 2020 presidential election. The actual last word will come from Congress two weeks before the inauguration.

However, America's Oldest Baby, President Donald Trump, took time out from his favorite pastime, golfing, to claim he's still going to contest the election, even though he and his army of ambulance chasers, led by the living disgrace that is Rudy Giuliani, have lost, save for a minor case in Pennsylvania, every lawsuit they have brought forward.

"WAAAHHHH!!! I won! I won!"

No, you didn't. You got your pampered butt spanked at the polls, and if it wasn't for your goading your base with your pointless lies and phony conspiracy theories, it'd have been way worse.

As pundits such as Brian Tyler Cohen and Glenn Kirschner have pointed out, Team Trump didn't formally bring their suits before judges. Instead, they made one grandstand play after another in front of television cameras in order to inflame his base. Even if they did present their cases before judges, it's not very likely they would've succeeded anyway, and still got smacked down.

And that ain't all.

Trump is also whining about reports circulating that the Cleveland Indians are planning on changing their team name after 106 seasons. Following the lead of the NFL team in Washington, Cleveland is looking for a new team name down the line. Trump's reaction?

"WAAAAHHH!!! They shouldn't change it! WAAAAHHH!"

Sorry, Dumb Donald, but if you bothered to pay attention to the protests by Native American activist groups that led to Washington changing the name of its football team to a more generic name, and paid attention to the point behind the changes, you'd understand. Then again, maybe not.

Back to Cleveland. It wasn't enough that they retired the stereotyped image of their mascot, Chief Wahoo, two years ago. Ownership decided they had to take the next step. The next move, then, belongs to the Atlanta Braves, who retired their Native American mascot, Chief Noc-a-Homa, several years ago. However, while there has been some complaint over the "tomahawk chop" fan taunt, also used by Florida State University football fans, there hasn't been as much public pressure on Braves management to make a change. Yet.

In case anyone wonders, the NBA's Golden State Warriors do not use Native American imagery, instead putting more emphasis on their home base in the Bay Area (Oakland-San Francisco). As for the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks, who use the image of a member of the Blackhawk tribe, I've heard no protests over that, either. Various high school & college teams still use "Braves", "Indians", and "Warriors", but also haven't been pressured. And there won't be any pressure on Cleveland from a bloviating baby.....

"WAAAHH! Keep it as it is!! WAAAAHHH!"

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Countdown to Christmas: Andy Williams' Early New England Christmas (1982)

 Andy Williams' Christmas specials are usually associated with NBC or PBS. But there was a time when he did one for CBS.

The year was 1982, and Andy, along with co-executive producer Bob Banner (Solid Gold), brought a camera crew to Vermont for Andy Williams' Early New England Christmas. Aileen Quinn, who had the title role in the first feature film adaptation of "Annie", Olympic skating champion Dorothy Hamill, flutist James Galway (another one associated with PBS), and Dick Van Patten (Eight is Enough) are the guests.

Then-CBS studio announcer Danny Dark, for years also a voiceover pitchman for Keebler, and the voice of Superman on Super Friends in its various iterations (1973-86) is the announcer in one of his last gigs for CBS before replacing Super Friends castmate Casey Kasem as studio announcer at NBC the next year.

Three years later, Williams would return to NBC to team with some of the young stars of the network's primetime shows for his last Christmas special for NBC.

Rating: A.

Football this 'n' that

 Today's NFL slate doesn't bode well for the top two teams in the AFC East, although, as they say, fortune favors the bold.

Take, for example, division leader Buffalo, which will have the NBC Sunday Night Football game vs. Pittsburgh, which is five days removed from their first loss of the season to the Washington Deviants. A Buffalo win would eliminate 3rd place New England from division title contention, as the Patriots would be 4 games out with 3 to play, all in the division.

Second place Miami has an even more daunting task, trying to stop the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. Good luck with that. As play begins today, Miami is a game behind Buffalo in the division. The Dolphins play New England next week, with a chance to eliminate the hated Patriots once and for all. If both Miami & Buffalo lose, the margin will remain 1 game headed into week 15.
It's becoming increasingly clear that Patriots QB Cam Newton, in his 10th season out of Auburn, isn't the dynamic playmaker he once was. Sacked four times in the second half vs. the LA Rams Thursday night led to his benching in favor of 2nd year QB Jarrett Stidham, who was sacked twice himself. Color Newton gone after this season, as the Patriots may be forced to draft another QB.
Politics plays a big role, bigger than most people think, actually, in deciding the College Football Playoff.

The Big 10 Conference, for example, had amended its rules due to a shortened season, decreeing that teams had to play a specific number of games to qualify for the league title game.

Ohio State has had three games cancelled due to coronavirus, the latest being their annual meeting with Michigan. They're 5-0. Six games was to be the minimum. Had the Big 10 suits stuck to their guns, Indiana, which lost to Ohio State last month, would be facing resurgent Northwestern in the title game on December 19.

However, there's the small matter of television ratings, and how much Ohio State generates for the NCAA's media partners (Fox and its cable cousins, FS1 & the Big 10 Network, ABC/ESPN). Indiana-Northwestern isn't what networks suits would call a "sexy" matchup for television. Ohio State vs. Northwestern, however, is, and that's what viewers will get next Saturday. If Ohio State wins, they punch their ticket to the CBP and a date with Alabama.
Lovie Smith, a year removed from taking Illinois to a bowl game, was given the gate after five seasons with the Illini after Saturday's game. To say that Illinois underachieved would be an understatement.

By the same token, Arizona sent Kevin Sumlin packing after the Wildcats were smacked down by Arizona State, 70-7, on Friday night.
Once the rankings are made official over the next 48 hours, expect Florida to take a nose-dive after losing to defending national champion LSU, 37-34, on Saturday night. The loss might actually cost QB Kyle Trask the Heisman Trophy, which will be handed out next month due to COVID concerns.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, USC's Cardiac Trojans pulled out another seat squirmer to remain unbeaten, taking down UCLA, 44-37, and making a case to move up the ladder.
It's safe to argue that Navy was lost in the fog on Saturday.

Army, enjoying a legitimate home field advantage for a change, with the annual service game being played at West Point for the first time since 1943, shut out the Midshipmen, 15-0, with outgoing President Trump in attendance for Army-Navy for the 4th time in 5 years. Army is 3-1 in Trump's appearances. Hmmmmmm.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Charley Pride (1934-2020)

 This hurts.

It has just come across the wires that country music legend Charley Pride has passed away at 86. Cause of death as of press time has been tagged as complications from coronavirus.

Country fans know most of his hits, from 1971's "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'", to his 1975 cover of Hank Williams' "Kaw-Liga". From "Just Between You & Me" to "Is Anyone Goin' to San Antoine?". From "Burgers & Fries" to a cover of "Mountain of Love".

But music wasn't his only interest. Pride also played in the Negro Leagues, and was in the minor league systems of at least a couple of major league clubs, including the Yankees, back in an era when they had Classes B-D in the minors, instead of A-AAA, like they do now. He tried out for the then-expansion Mets in 1962, but didn't make the cut. He served in the Army as a quartermaster, and after his baseball career ended, he found his calling in music.

Charley also dabbled in acting, including a guest appearance in the short-lived Jerry Reed-Claude Akins crime drama, Nashville 99.

From a 1978 appearance on Hee Haw, here's "Burgers & Fries", which peaked at #2 on the country chart here, and hit #1 in Canada.

Rest in peace, Charley. Heaven just got another vocalist in the choir.

It's time to wave the white flag. Another lawsuit goes down in flames.

 Late Friday afternoon, the US Supreme Court struck down a frivolous lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton against Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, & Wisconsin in another pointless bid to overturn last month's presidential election results. All 50 states have certified the results, and it will be a mere formality when the Electoral College meets on Monday.

In short, the ballgame's over. Unfortunately, President Donald Trump, whose personal & political reputations, as if he had much of the latter, have been irrevocably destroyed, will press on in order to maintain the facade that had lured over 70 million gullible voters to his side last month in a losing effort.

As for the over 100 GOP lawmakers who cast their support behind this fool's folly, Congressman Bill Pascrell of New Jersey is calling for them not to be seated when Congress returns to session next month:

As for the 17 GOP Attorneys General? How soon are they up for re-election? Or can they be impeached?

Even though Trump now calls Florida his home state, after turning his back on his native New York, once he leaves office on January 20, regardless of how it happens, there will be some severe heat in the form of litigation from NY Attorney General Letitia James and Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr., investigating alleged criminal activity in the Trump organizational chain.

In other words, Dumb Donald I & II, Stupid-E, Trust Fund Barbie, and the rest of this family of con artists, could end up swapping custom tailored wardrobe for prison jumpers, or, in Dumb Donald I's case, a straitjacket, right alongside his BFF, Goofiani.

And as for those traitorous lawmakers? Check yourselves before you wreck yourselves, if you haven't done that already.

Friday, December 11, 2020

What Might've Been: Sons of Thunder (1999)

 Every now and again, a show gets cancelled because the network and/or producers have some money issues.

That's what happened with Sons of Thunder, a spin-off from Walker, Texas Ranger, which served as a spring replacement for Walker in March-April 1999, even though Walker (Chuck Norris, who served as an executive producer) appeared on the show. Norris and his brother, Aaron, thought they had a hit on their hands, but CBS suits passed, citing budget concerns. Only six episodes were produced, and have aired recently on INSP, among other places. Fans are hoping for a DVD release, just the same.

Let's take a look at the series opener, "Moment of Truth". Alan Autry (ex-Mama's Family, In The Heat of The Night) plays a bartender pal of the titular detectives.

The above came from an Autry fan channel.

No rating. Didn't see the show.

Dunce Cap Award: Ken Paxton......and every other Republican sheep loyal to America's Oldest Baby

 As reported earlier this week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed suit against Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, & Georgia in another lameassed attempt to overturn the presidential election. America's Oldest Baby and 17 other states joined the fight, continuing to push baseless claims of voter fraud which have been debunked so often, real con artists are going on strike until Donald Trump is out of office.

However, this cadre of dumbasses have little to no shot of succeeding with this fool's folly. The US Supreme Court shut down a lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania Republicans earlier this week, and this looks to be no different.

The problem is, Trump thinks that the justices he appointed, including Amy Coney Barrett, are honor bound to him and him alone. That's not how it works, Dumb Donald!!

All 50 states have certified their election results, and the Electoral College will have a virtual meeting on Monday. By then, it would appear, Paxton's stupid suit will get tossed into the garbage where it belongs. Paxton, Trump, and the fools supporting this suit all get Dunce Caps, showing once again they're so willing to destroy their careers for a cause that exists only in the splinters of the windmills of the President's warped mind.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Countdown to Christmas: Rich Little's Christmas Carol (1978)

 Impressionist Rich Little returned home to Canada to write and star in a virtual one-man show, Rich Little's Christmas Carol, a very loose adaptation of the Dickens classic. The supporting cast gets zero credit, while Rich uses the voices of W. C. Fields, Paul Lynde, Johnny Carson, Peter Falk, Humphrey Bogart, George Burns, Jack Benny, Jimmy Stewart, Jean Stapleton, and Laurel & Hardy, just to name a few, for many of the central characters.

This special would find its way to HBO here in the States a year later.

Awwww, that's funny! That's funny stuff!

Rating: A.

A little of this and a little of that

 It's gotten to the point where nostalgia obsessed network executives aren't letting the dust settle on recently ended series.

It was reported on Wednesday that HBO Max has picked up options for new series of True Blood (previously on HBO) and Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family/Freeform), both of which are owned by WarnerMedia divisions. Both are being entrusted to Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, whose video version of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is finishing its run on Netflix later this month.

File photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Riverdale is set to return to CW next month, but Aguirre-Sacasa is still in no hurry to return to writing comics and his other gig at Archie Comics, and the company would be well served to pressure him into at least letting someone else finish the books he was working on.

It's my belief that neither Liars nor Blood need actually be straight remakes. Instead, they could follow Peacock's lead (Saved by The Bell and the forthcoming Punky Brewster), and continue where the previous series left off, a strategy Disney also employed with Raven's Home, the follow-up to That's So Raven, another recent series.

Whatever happened to originality in Hollywood?
Since I work for an insurance agency in my day job, I am not fond of Progressive's radio ads featuring Flo (Stephanie Courtney), under the heading, Commercial Chicken, or her sidekick, Jamie, leaving voicemail messages for himself, since he's such a doofus. The parodies on TV are a lot more fun.
I wouldn't be at all surprised if radio talk show host and former NFL punter Pat McAfee's next appearance for WWE would be at next month's Royal Rumble, which would virtually merit a SportsCenter mention.

Meanwhile, former women's champs Alexa Bliss (Lexi Kaufman) & Charlotte Flair (Ashley Fliehr) are in LA filming guest appearances for Peacock's Punky Brewster relaunch. Expect the latter to return at the Rumble, but Bliss should be back well before then.