Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Musical Interlude: Act Naturally (1989)

 Buck Owens & The Buckaroos hit #1 on the country chart in 1963 with the Johnny Russell-penned "Act Naturally". Capitol label-mates the Beatles covered it 2 years later with Ringo Starr taking a turn on vocals.

24 years after the Beatles' cover, Starr & Owens teamed up, and hit #29 on the country chart. The video has the guys on a movie set, and dueling over who should get top billing. Vic Tayback (ex-Alice) appears in the role of a bartender in a movie scene.

Ringo wasn't the first Beatle to go country. Paul McCartney holds that distinction with Wings in the mid-70's with "Sally G", although I'd imagine at least one or two country artists might've taken a stab at John Lennon's "Imagine" somewhere along the way......

Portrait of a Weasel

 The count is now up to 21, and could go even higher. However, Houston attorney Tony Buzbee won't show his hand, and says he won't deliver what evidence he has of sexual assault allegations against Deshaun Watson to the police, claiming he'll go elsewhere.

21 women, at least if you believe Buzbee, have come forward. I don't blame you if you think this is the Bill Cosby case all over again, where everyone's jumping on the bandwagon in a case that ultimately destroyed the career of an Emmy award winning entertainer in the sunset of his years.

In contrast, Watson is not yet 30, in the prime of his life. Unhappy with the management of the Houston Texans, Watson wants out of town. Buzbee has claimed that his cascade of lawsuits has nothing to do with Watson's sitch with the Texans. Yeah, sure, that's becoming less and less realistic as each day passes.

However, by choosing not to cooperate with the police, after they'd debunked his claim of previously contacting them, Buzbee is making it clear that it's still about some sort of financial settlement that Watson turned down two weeks ago, which is when this whole thing started. Instead, Buzbee is using the Donald Trump & Friends playbook of tell, don't show when it comes to evidence. The NFL is, of course, investigating, as they should, but if Buzbee refuses to cooperate with the police, and the NFL finds absolutely zero evidence, they'll put their support behind Watson in a Houston nanosecond, and Buzbee's career would be in jeopardy instead of Watson's. His excuse for not turning over evidence to the Houston PD is because the son of Rusty Hardin, Watson's attorney, is a HPD officer, so he is worried about a possible conflict of interest in this case. Either that, or that the younger Hardin might find something out of place and contact his father, and that would compromise the entire case.

Again, let's contrast this with the accusations of sexual harassment and/or assault levied against NY Governor Andrew Cuomo. To date, 10 women have come forward, and at least one has provided some photographic evidence. The scandal was bumped off the headlines in recent days as Cuomo turned his attention back toward a surge in COVID-19 cases in the state, but to be sure, it's there.

Buzbee, an ex-Marine, doesn't trust the police and the justice system for some reason, otherwise, instead of suits, the victims would've already gone to the police at Buzbee's direction, and then, there'd be some credibility to the lawyer. Right now, however, there isn't, and that's what gets Buzbee the Weasel of The Week award. All Buzbee is doing now is frustrating Watson, Hardin, and Watson's fans by refusing to show any evidence. However, now's the time to show your hand, Mr. Buzbee. If you don't, I'm fairly certain the courts will Semper Fi your cowardly ass out of the courtroom. Fictional lawyers like Ben Matlock would be embarrassed to be associated with you. Either you play your hand, or fold, just like in poker. Which way do you want to go? 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Forgotten TV: The Heart of Juliet Jones (1954)

 The Heart of Juliet Jones was based on a daily newspaper strip created by Elliot Caplin, brother of L'il Abner creator Al Capp, and, over the course of 46 1/2 years, was a soap opera strip aimed at young women, especially those whose parents were into daytime soaps. The series contained some brilliant art by Stan Drake (1953-89) and Frank Bolle (1989-2000). Yes, this strip appeared in the local papers in the 518 when I was growing up.

A year after the series began, it was optioned for television, adapting the first story arc's initial chapters in a 15 minute pilot.

I remember reading the strip, which in the hometown only appeared on Sundays. The strip has been collected in a series of trade packages, which may or may not be still available.

Rating: B.

WWE's Hall of Fame Classes of 2020-1 are complete

 One week from tonight, the WWE will have its first mid-week Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which will be streamed on Peacock. Last year's class will go in along with this year's group. The lineup:

Class of 2020:

John "Bradshaw" Layfield: In the space of 9 years upon entering the WWE in 1995, Layfield morphed from a cowboy to an Acolyte and best selling author to a JR Ewing-esque wealthy heel, and won his only WWE title in 2004. He's also a Grand Slam champion, and is credited with creating the annual Tribute to The Troops holiday specials, which began as incorporated episodes of Smackdown (2003-4) and Monday Night Raw, the latter beginning in 2005 until NBC-Universal convinced WWE to spin Tribute off as a stand-alone special.

Jushin "Thunder" Liger: The Japanese legend is being recognized for his contributions to the industry, and had appeared briefly on NXT a few years back.

The Bella Twins: Brie & Nikki have teased a return to action, all the more to promote E!'s Total Bellas than anything else, but the Arizona natives have been polarizing figures.

The New World Order: The faction founded by Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Hulk Hogan is acknowledged, with Sean Waltman, already in as a member of WWE's nWo clone, D-Generation X, joining his Kliq pals and Hogan. All four are now 2-time inductees.

Davey Boy Smith, aka The British Bulldog: The late Bulldog, who also competed for WCW, held the tag titles in 1986 with Dynamite Kid, then went on to win the IC title from brother-in-law Bret Hart in 1992.

Class of 2021:

Rob Van Dam: Most recently with Impact Wrestling, RVD has bounced back & forth between Impact & WWE the last several years. His stoner gimmick was the forerunner to current US champion (& Saratoga High grad) Matt Riddle. 

Molly Holly: The former women's champion was moved to tears when her friend Shane "Hurricane" Helms informed her of her induction on The Bump a couple of weeks back. A beloved fan favorite, despite an all-too-long heel run from 2002-5, Molly has been cited by many of today's female competitors as an inspiration.

Kane: Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs had just announced he was running for re-election, and as the cherry on top, he goes into the Hall ahead of storyline brother Undertaker (Mark Calaway), who will likely be the headliner of the 2022 class in Dallas.

Eric Bischoff: He went from being a John Davidson clone as an announcer with AWA & WCW to running the latter into the ground because he didn't know how to properly end the nWo's initial arc, which lasted too long. Served as Raw's initial GM from July 2002-December 2005, another overlong period.

The Great Khali: Dalip Singh caught the attention of WWE after appearing with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Bill Goldberg, Kevin Nash, and Adam Sandler in the 2005 remake of "The Longest Yard". A couple of years later, Khali became the 1st Indian-born WWE champion.

And, then, there's this guy:

William Shatner: The seemingly ageless Canadian icon made a few appearances on WWE-TV in the 90's & 00's, embarrassing Jerry "The King" Lawler in one instance. Shatner will still be better known for a bazillion TV & movie roles (i.e. Star Trek, T. J. Hooker). Must be a mutual admiration society between Shatner and Vince McMahon. 

Now, if they could only build a physical Hall of Fame museum.......

Monday, March 29, 2021

Dunce Cap Award: John Joyce

 Just when you think the GOPers can't sink any lower, along comes a Congressman no one has heard of who wants his 15 minutes.

Rep. John Joyce introduced a bill called the GRINCH Act, so named after a certain iconic Dr. Seuss character, in which Joyce claims that publishers or copyright owners, such as the Seuss estate, which owns the rights to the late Ted Geisel's works, cannot edit or censor their own works under 1st Amendment protections.

Farron Cousins explains:

"Dumbest man in Congress"? Maybe, but let's get a reaction from some random folks:

Joyce and the GOPers don't get it. They're stoking the flames of fictional "culture wars" for their brainless base so they don't have to explain issues they know nothing about, as Cousins notes. Joyce earns a Dunce Cap for his lame attempt at legislation that ain't going anywhere except where it belongs, in the trash.

2021 baseball preview, conclusion

 We're going to wrap up the preview, as we're three days away from opening day.

National League Central:

The talk in Chicago regarding the Cubs is centering on pending free agency for infielders Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Baez, either after this season or next. The Northsiders have already lost Kyle Schwarber & Jon Lester (Washington), and can't risk any further losses of their core players if they want to be players in the division title chase in 2021.

On the positive side, they've replaced Schwarber with Joc Pederson (Dodgers), while Jake Marisnick comes over after being underused by the Mets last season. Zach Davies (San Diego) came over when Yu Darvish was traded away. Reliever Jonathan Holder (Yankees) could make a quality 5th starter.

Cincinnati has been underachieving more often than not in recent years. They would be well served to have reliever-pinch hitter Michael Lorenzen move into the rotation, adding another power bat to the lineup every 5 days. There are rumors, though, that this could be the last season that pitchers would be allowed to bat in the NL, if they go through and add the DH next year. 

Milwaukee picked up outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. in the off-season (Boston), and snagged ex-Tri-City Valleycat Derek Fisher & ex-Yankee prospect Billy McKinney (Toronto) as a bonus. Lorenzo Cain returns after sitting out 2020 due to COVID concerns. A starting outfield of Cain, Bradley, and Christian Yelich should be interesting.

In Pittsburgh, the hot talk in camp surrounds 2nd generation infielder Ke'Bryan Hayes, whose father, Charlie, played for Philadelphia and the Yankees, among others, winning a World Series with the Bombers in 1996. Otherwise, nothing to be scared about, especially after losing pitchers Joe Musgrove (San Diego) and Jameson Taillon (Yankees) in the off-season. St. Louis remains largely intact, adding only power hitting 3rd baseman Nolan Arenado (Colorado), which strengthens infield defense.

Projected order of finish:

1. St. Louis.
2. Milwaukee.
3. Chicago.
4. Cincinnati.
5. Pittsburgh.

American League West:

Houston welcomes back catcher Jason Castro (Minnesota), who will back up starter Martin Maldonado. Otherwise, the scandal-scarred Astros will stand pat, although their big free agent acquisition, pitcher Jake Odorizzi, who also comes over from Minnesota, starts the season on the injured list. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim reloaded the pitching staff, picking up Alex Cobb (Baltimore), Raisiel Iglesias (Cincinnati), Jose Quintana (Cubs), and Dylan Bundy (Baltimore) in the off-season. They also improved their outfield defense with Dexter Fowler (St. Louis), and had ex-Met Juan Lagares in camp, but it does not look like the rocket-armed Lagares will be on the opening day roster.

The rest of the division is loaded with underachievers who will make noise. I don't see Oakland getting back to the postseason, and Seattle and Texas will be cannon fodder by Labor Day.

Projected order of finish:

1. Angels.
2. Houston.
3. Oakland.
4. Seattle.
5. Texas.

National League West:

Everyone knows by now that the Los Angeles Dodgers, coming off their first World title in 32 years, won the Trevor Bauer sweepstakes, adding to an already very good starting rotation. Bauer will help Clayton Kershaw mentor younger hurlers Dustin May and Walker Buehler. Not only that, but with David Price returning after sitting out 2020, the Dodgers could repeat. Arizona begins year 2 with Madison Bumgarner as their ace. They picked up outfielder Kole Calhoun from the Angels, but didn't do much else. San Diego may be the only legit challenger to the Dodgers. They picked up catcher Victor (Beta)Caratini in the Yu Darvish deal with the Cubs, and added Austin Nola (Seattle) as insurance. Of course, Darvish wasn't the only big ticket coming west, as the Pads also snagged Blake Snell (Tampa Bay).

Colorado will regret letting Nolan Arenado go (St. Louis), but the lineup isn't as scary as it once was. San Francisco stood pat for the most part. Not a good idea.

Projected order of finish:

1. Los Angeles.
2. San Diego.
3. Arizona.
4. San Francisco.
5. Colorado.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

On The Air: Zack Snyder's Justice League (2017-21)

 Fans & critics alike were displeased with 2017's "Justice League", especially after director Zack Snyder had to step down due to a death in the family, and Joss Whedon was brought in to finish the project, taking no credit for his work as director.

Since then, Whedon has been vilified for alleged on-set abuses by cast member Ray Fisher and actors that Whedon has worked with in the past. Snyder, meanwhile, was given the green light by WB to release his cut of the movie, twice the time, twice the thrills, and, well, twice the drama.

"Zack Snyder's Justice League", dedicated to the memory of the auteur's late daughter, Autumn, clocks in at an unwieldy 4 hours and change. You know. "Ben-Hur" territory back in the day. There are plenty of changes, plenty of scenes that Whedon had shot were removed, replaced with material that Snyder wanted in. More backstory is given to the central characters to allow the plot to actually breathe a little more, and for the story to make sense, although burdening Barry Allen, aka the Flash (Ezra Miller), with the clowning, buffoonish personality given to his successor, Wally West, in the 2001 Justice League animated series, can be explained away by making Barry, presented here as a college student not yet employed as a police scientist, someone the kids can relate to. You know, a role model.

The core plot remains the same. Steppenwolf, Darkseid's once trusted lieutenant, arrives on Earth, hoping to regain favor with his boss. Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) assemble the rest of the team, but need to resurrect Superman (Henry Cavill) in order to ensure that Darkseid doesn't arrive on Earth. There are trust issues with Cyborg (Fisher) and Aquaman (Jason Momoa) before they're forced into action when Steppenwolf and some parademons go after their loved ones, an age old comics trope.

Snyder's cut would get an R rating in theatres for coarse language.

Here's the trailer:

Seems Snyder is not among those who'd rather see Bruce Wayne and Selina "Catwoman" Kyle hook up, instead continuing to tease a relationship between Wonder Woman and Wayne, as more than just business partners, that is. However, some scenes are inserted in the wrong places, disrupting some of the flow, just the sort of thing that Snyder wanted to avoid. Well, no one's perfect.

Rating for the original version: C.

Rating for the director's cut, airing on HBO Max: B-.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

What Might've Been: Brothers & Sisters (1979)

 The original Brothers & Sisters, not to be confused with the ABC drama of the same name from a few years ago, had a plum debut slot, airing after the Super Bowl in January 1979, back when the NFL's season finale still took place in January before being moved down to February for ratings purposes.

This Brothers, from Paramount. was one of three sitcoms modeled after "National Lampoon's Animal House", and bowed days after "Animal"'s own spin-off, ABC's Delta House. Like Delta House, though, Brothers & Sisters had some second generation talent in the cast. In this case, this was the first series for Chris Lemmon (Jack's son), miscast as a student of Greek background, and Mary Crosby (Bing's daughter, later of Dallas & Star Trek: The Next Generation). It also marked the first series for William Windom in nearly 10 years (My World....And Welcome to it).

Ratings challenged NBC took a chance, but dumped Brothers after three months. The show's theme song was co-written by Happy Days co-star Anson Williams, and sung by his future bride, Lorrie Mahaffey. Let's take a look at a sample episode:

Producers Nick Abdo, Bob Brunner, & Arthur Silver had all worked on Days, but couldn't manage a big hit without mentor Garry Marshall right away. 

Chris Lemmon didn't land another steady series gig for a few years until Duet, for Fox, nearly a decade later, and his last was TNT's Thunder in Paradise, as a sidekick to Hulk Hogan.

No rating. I was in bed by the time this turkey hit the air.

A Classic Reborn: The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988)

 Six years had passed since The Incredible Hulk ended its run on CBS, and had gone into syndication. The Marvel-produced animated series that followed had one season of original episodes, cycled over three seasons (1982-5) ad nauseum.

NBC, home to the animated Hulk, decided to bring the Jade Giant back for a TV-movie, reuniting series stars Lou Ferrigno & Bill Bixby. However, "The Incredible Hulk Returns" was also a backdoor pilot for a series that never saw the light of day.

If you saw "Avengers: Endgame", you will recall how Thor (Chris Hemsworth) had packed on some pounds and settled into a mortal existence of a sort. The producers of "Incredible Hulk Returns" tweaked Thor's Marvel origin, such that Dr. Donald Blake, cast here as a total nerd (Steve Levitt), summons the Thunder God, instead of transforming, by calling out the magic word, "Valhalla!". Okay, so this is a parody of Shazam!. Not good, and right away, you get the impression that this Thor is not cut out for primetime.

In the meantime, David Banner (Bixby) has finally settled down and found a girlfriend (Lee Purcell). Unfortunately, he & Hulk (Ferrigno), along with Thor, end up dealing with some mob types, and, another relationship bites the dust, as the general theme of the series, based upon Les Miserables and The Fugitive, continues. There would be a sequel. However, Jack Colvin, who played reporter Jack McGee, returned only for this film, and was written out.

Following is a teaser that aired before the movie began. NBC studio announcer Danny Dark (ex-Super Friends) narrates.

Bixby & Ferrigno would return for 2 more TV-movies for NBC, both co-produced by Bixby with New Line Television, of which Marvel was a sister company at the time.

Rating: B--.

Friday, March 26, 2021

2021 American League Central preview

 With less than a week to opening day, let's move on to the American League Central:

The Chicago White Sox will be without prized outfielder Eloy Jiminez until August or September, if that at all, after he tore his Achilles tendon in a preseason game earlier this week. A terrible blow to a team hoping to contend with prodigal son Tony LaRussa returning to the dugout after being many miles away the last 35 years (Oakland, St. Louis, front office job with Arizona). With a pitching staff fronted by Lucas Giolito and Dallas Kuechel, the ChiSox should still be able to contend. The ChiSox also welcome back Adam Eaton (Washington) to patrol the outfield, so Jiminez's absence won't be as noticeable.

Defending champion Minnesota picks up pitchers Matt Shoemaker & Hansel Robles from the Angels, and JA Happ from the Yankees, with Shoemaker & Happ set to be in the rotation behind Kenta Maeda. The offense is for all intents and purposes the same. Cleveland is talking about doing away with the "Indians" monicker, following in the footsteps of the Washington club in the NFL. They get Terry Francona back in the dugout after a year off, but time will tell if they made a mistake dealing free-agent-to-be Francisco Lindor to the Mets for Amed Rosario & Andres Giminez. They tried Rosario in the outfield the other day, and he committed three errors. Keep in mind the Mets wanted to try him in the outfield, but never pulled the trigger.

Detroit stupidly let shortstop Jose Iglesias walk (Angels), but they welcome AJ Hinch as their new manager after he served a year's suspension for the 2017 Astros' cheating scandal. There's a reason they finished last in 2020. Kansas City thinks they've got the solution after Alex Gordon retired. They signed Michael A. Taylor (Washington), a faster, younger athlete who was under-used in DC.

Projected order of finish:

1. Minnesota.
2. Cleveland.
3. Chicago.
4. Kansas City.
5. Detroit.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Fox Shmooze can't tell the truth, and they whine when someone has the facts......

 Fox Shmooze's Spam Hannity just made a big mistake.

No, it's not the fact that he had Texas Senator Ted "Sea" Cruz on his show earlier this week. It's the fact that Hannity responded to Late Night host Seth Meyers' withering blast of Fox Shmooze's decision to continue to peddle false narratives about guns after a pair of mass murders in the last week. Hannity claims Meyers isn't funny? When was the last time Spam was at a comedy club? Or watched reruns of Meyers' old haunt, Saturday Night Live or any other comedy show?

Spam is only interested, as is his Fox Shmooze colleagues, like Laura Inkblot and Tabloid Carlson, in denigrading President Biden as much as possible to assuage the fractured collective ego of the GOPers.

Give a look at what Seth had to say earlier this week:

Spam Hannity is one of these braying jackasses perpetrating nothing but lies in front of a national television audience. Meyers deals in facts mixed in with comedy, something he learned from anchoring Weekend Update on SNL a few years back. If Hannity tries to pass off his claims as opinions, he's further off base than he thinks, just like his pal, Tabloid. Why do you think the late night hosts are getting more respect from the mainstream than you idiots? It's because they know what the public really wants to hear, not a bunch of whiny BS.
Speaking of Laura Inkblot, she had Citizen Pampers on her show via telephone, and the former president, rapidly growing more delusional, if not senile, by the day, now claims the insurrectionists were doing a lot of hugging and kissing of Capitol Police 2 1/2 months ago. Sure, they were, Dumb Donald. Never mind jail, get him to Bellevue!

I mean, honestly, how do you hug someone when you've got a gun in your hand? Trump knows his sorry ass is going to be in a sling soon enough, but nothing he can say can cover up the video truth about what happened on January 6. And he had the nerve to say that Joe Biden had some mental issues? So far, Biden, despite recent gaffes, is looking more healthy than Trump was in his entire 4 years in Washington.

See ya at the funny farm, Dumb Donald.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

A little of this and a little of that

 A shade more than 24 hours after 10 people were murdered in a Boulder, Colorado supermarket, there was nearly a copycat incident in Atlanta, just a week after 3 spas were hit and eight people were killed.

An Instacart worker at Publix happened to see Rico Marley, 22, enter a men's room at the store, carrying a rifle, and called police. Marley was found to have five other weapons, all concealed, in his possession. Police in Atlanta admitted they have no evidence at this time, but they are questioning Marley about why he had the guns with him when he entered Publix, which made it their policy in 2019 to bar shoppers carrying weapons, even if it's legal to do so.

Let's just say that they're erring on the side of caution for now.
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is fighting back against a $1.3 billion dollar defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems.

Lindell has retained the services of respected attorney Alan Dershowitz to defend him in the suit, and apparently they're talking countersuit. 4 1/2 months after the election, and Lindell is still claiming he has evidence that there was election fraud.

Dude, if you've got the evidence, stop playing games and show us what you've got. If not, then give it up. You say you're a Christian, but Christians don't, by rule, engage in fraud, a lesson former President Trump won't learn.
On the other side of the Tree of Stupid is Silly Sidney Powell, who now claims that no "reasonable person" would actually believe her fairy tales about the election, and is trying to avoid liability, as she too was sued by Dominion for the same amount.

Let's be real. There was no voter fraud at the level that Powell, Lindell, and others have claimed. Nearly 5 months later, this is still a story because these geeks won't let it go. We attempted to get a statement from a close friend of Powell's:

"No comment!"

What a surprise.

Musical Interlude: Second Chance (1988)

 Southern rock icons 38 Special made the switch to a more softer sound with 1988's "Second Chance", off "Rock & Roll Strategy". Long time singer Don Barnes had left the group, but his solo CD was backburnered until nearly 20 years later after A & M Records, the group's label had folded. Singer-keyboard player Max Carl came over from Jack Mack & The Heart Attack to succeed Barnes. Since Jack Mack didn't get the same kind of airplay on MTV or VH1 as 38 Special did, think of "Chance" as Carl's introduction to viewers.

"Strategy" was also 38 Special's coda to A & M, as they moved to the British-owned label Charisma three years later. "Second Chance" topped the adult contemporary charts in early 1989, and still gets played on AC and oldies channels today.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

On the shelf: Of Aliens and ancient warriors

 30 years ago, Keanu Reeves took the first steps toward proving he was more than just one half of the "Bill & Ted" movie franchise when he appeared in a Paula Abdul music video for "Rush Rush", which was a tribute to James Dean.

With three "Bill & Ted" movies, the "Matrix" & "John Wick" series now dotting his resume, Reeves is trying something new.

Writing a comic book.

After a four month wait, BRZRKR finally landed on store shelves earlier this month from Boom! Studios. Created and co-written by Reeves with one of the current hot commodities in the comics industry in Matt Kindt, BRZRKR, a 12 issue maxi-series, is the story of an ancient warrior, thousands of years old, who now works for the government in exchange for giving up his immortality and allowing himself to pass on.

Artistically, veteran artist Ron Garney creates a visual mix that recalls what may well be his own influences, such as Joe Kubert, the Buscema brothers, and, to an extent, John Romita, Jr.. It wasn't long after the first issue was released that it was announced that Netflix will do a movie adaptation, plus an anime series. Reeves is, unsurprisingly, interested in doing both.

Reeves also narrates the Boom! trailer for the series:

Stylistically, with the title character modeled after Reeves himself, it's a mix of John Wick and Frankenstein's Monster. Entertaining, and worth the investment.

Rating: A-.
With 20th Century Fox now part of the Disney family, along with Marvel Comics, the "Alien" & "Predator" movie franchises will have future comics series published by Marvel. Predator debuts in June. Alien debuted this week.

Set more than 100 years from now, it appears that some corporate barons are unaware of the danger that awaits them. Marvel opted for a 40 page opener, but the series will drop down to 32 pages for $4 next month. 

Rating: Incomplete.
Staying with Marvel, the 2nd Ultraman miniseries arrived last week, continuing the storyline from the Rise of Ultraman. Unfortunately, there's only so much you can do to make the Japanese franchise, which has been around for more than 50-55 years, relevant to American audiences in the 21st century. The Trials of Ultraman reveals that the United Science Police have gone public, which may not be the smartest of moves, and the story is filled with so many tropes familiar to American readers. And you wonder why Hollywood has failed to make older franchises like Tarzan and The Lone Ranger relevant in the 21st century? Unfortunately, Ultraman has fallen into that category.

Rating: B--.
After nearly 60 years as a franchise, DC's Teen Titans now merits the opportunity to have the members of the 80's team become instructors themselves, training the next generation.

Teen Titans Academy is set up for a crossover with Suicide Squad come June, and it has to do with Red X, a character introduced in the 2003 Teen Titans animated series, and who made his comics debut in the just-concluded Future State: Teen Titans miniseries. One fault readers are already finding is the lack of cohesion between this series and Nightwing's solo series, as they're already teasing a rekindling of affections between Nightwing and Starfire, his alien honey from the 80's. This bears watching.

Rating: Incomplete.
Superman headlines the 2nd issue of DC's new Truth & Justice anthology series, in a tale where the emphasis is more on his human alter-ego, Clark Kent, and his pursuit of a story involving the mysteries surrounding African American prisoners being sprung, then sent back, rinse & repeat. It's also a means of bringing back an obscure Superman foe, The Master Jailer, who hasn't been seen in years. Whereas in the past, it was established that Carl Draper, aka Master Jailer, was an old high school acquaintance of Clark's, that has been ret-conned out. Here, Draper is a locksmith and a con artist. Master Jailer, I think, was the inspiration for Lock-Up, a villain on Batman: The Animated Series in the 90's. However, I prefer the original Jailer.

The story, though, by Brandon Easton, should not be missed.

Rating: A.

A complete episode of Love, American Style (1970)

 Thought we'd try something different today, and get everything started with a smile, courtesy of Love, American Style, from season 1:

"Love & The Fly": A cartoonist (Darren McGavin, ex-The Outsider) risks his marriage when his wife (Suzanne Pleshette) decides to save a fly by keeping it in a birdcage. Herbert Rudley (ex-The Mothers-in-Law, Michael Shayne) also appears.

"Love & The Millionaires": Jane Kean (The Jackie Gleason Show) trades barbs with Forrest Tucker (ex-F-Troop), and their by-play bears some resemblance to something Jane was familiar with by this point---The Honeymooners. Jonathan Harris (ex-Lost in Space) co-stars.

"Love & Double Trouble": A bachelor prince (Sean Garrison, ex-Dundee & The Culhane) is caught off-guard when an emissary from his father's home country (Johnny Brown) brings a pair of dancing girls for a party after a party. Phyllis Davis was a few years away from Vega$ when she appeared in this short. Malachi Throne, fresh from It Takes a Thief, plays the king.

If this doesn't wake you up, I don't know what will.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Remember the Tucker Inn? (1976)

 Back when Cool Whip topping was still a vital part of General Foods, their advertising agency came up with a series of ads set in a modest country inn in an unnamed city.

Marge Redmond (ex-The Flying Nun) was cast as innkeeper-hostess Sarah Tucker, and this series could and should have gone longer than it did. My late mother used to buy Cool Whip whenever we had strawberries so we could make strawberry shortcake (mostly for my dad).

Here, veteran character actor James Hardy, who'd been in a bazillion ads, and later turned up in a John Mellencamp music video ("The Authority Song"), plays a hotel guest who is convinced to give the dessert a try.

Deshaun Watson is being Cosby'd

 The count is up to 13-14 actual lawsuits, and Houston lawyer Tony Buzbee has said that he's now looking at at least two dozen more against Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson.

The question, however, has been raised. Why is Buzbee the only attorney handling this case? Oh, sure, when all those charges were brought against Bill Cosby, Gloria Allred represented some, but not all, of the victims.

To this point, Watson and his attorney, Rusty Hardin, have kept silent, waiting for the appropriate time to answer. However, that time is now.

"If you're gonna make a move, you better make it now!"--Eddie Rabbitt, "Step by Step", circa 1980.

What they're waiting for, it seems, is for Buzbee to slip and trip himself up. A commentator on Mike Florio's Pro Football Talk webpage suggested he heard rumors that at least two of the women were being coached, and others were recruiting the rest of the victims, obviously looking at a hefty payday, but not if they're called out for fraud.

Speaking of Florio........

Watson & Hardin cannot afford to wait any longer. The longer they wait, the more pressure Buzbee will apply, whether it's legit or not. What would an ex-Marine who failed in a Mayoral bid two years ago stand to gain from pursuing these cases against one man? As Florio notes, Buzbee is coming off as being more of a showman than a legit barrister here, and that won't look good if Watson can prove his innocence.

Stay tuned.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Guess who wants to start a social media network?

 Four and a half months after America determined he was no longer the President, two and a half months after the Legion of The Brainwashed stormed the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the election by force, Donald Trump is not only clinging desperately to his warped belief that the election was stolen, and that then-Vice President Mike Pence should've gone back and reversed the results. Pence didn't have the authority to do that, but try explaining it to a 74 year old baby.

"WAAAHHH! I should be in Washington! WAAAHHH!"

Trump appeared via telephone with Fox Shmooze's Harris Faulkner. During that conversation, Trump told Faulkner that he was planning to---get this---start his own social media network, in answer to Twitter, since he was ejected from that platform in January, and Facebook.

Faulkner didn't do viewers any favors by incorrectly stating that the current head of Homeland Security had resigned after 6 weeks on the job. She corrected herself a few seconds later, which, of course, didn't make America's Oldest Baby too happy.

"You lied on national television! WAAAHHHHH!"

Farron Cousins said earlier he believes that like most of Trump's other self-serving franchises, such as his casinos and short-lived airline, his platform will flatline, citing the fact that Parler, which was created as a conservative alternative to Twitter, is failing.

But with prosecutors in New York preparing to take Trump to court, it may not matter. If Trump and/or his adult offspring end up in jail, stick a fork in that social media platform. I still think he has a better chance of living out his sunset years in a padded cell.

A little of this and a little of that

 Ten months ago, after Batwoman ended its freshman season on the CW, star Ruby Rose decided she wasn't returning for season 2, citing concerns for her personal health, among other things.

Showrunner Caroline Dries, ignoring fan requests to recast the role, opted to create a new character to fill the costume, and Javicia Leslie (ex-God Friended Me) was brought in as Ryan Wilder, who has taken over the role of Batwoman, but not without her own issues.

But, after this week's episode signed off on Sunday, Dries and company threw another curveball. The character of Kate Kane will return, with another actress in the role, and it's the actress a lot of fans had campaigned for last summer.

Wallis Day (ex-Krypton) was the people's choice, and has finally signed on to play Kate, who will have "undergone plastic surgery to repair her damaged face" after a season-opening plane crash to explain the change in actresses. 

This twist brings to mind a quote made famous by the late wrestler-actor Roddy Piper some 40 years ago.

"When you think you've got all the answers, I change the questions!"

Dries has changed the questions, alright. The big one is, why didn't they do this in the first place? I would guess that Day was fresh off a 2 season run on Krypton, and perhaps needed a break. Money, too, might be a factor.

Stay tuned.
Sometimes, you just can't make stuff like this up.

A headmaster at a Long Island Catholic school forced an 11 year old African-American student to get down on his knees to apologize for a slight. Seems that he had done this with another African-American student, and thought it was common practice in Africa. The student is staying at home now, and his mother told the NY Daily News that her son has been traumatized by the incident. And, yes, the headmaster is white. What a surprise.
Let me get personal for a moment.

As I've stated in the past, I've been working from home at my day job, and it's now been a year since this started. Living in the heart of downtown the last 42 years affords me the advantage of having options for meals if I'm not interested in cooking on a given day. I wear a mask when I travel, like most responsible people. In other words, effendis, I'm not suffering from cabin fever.

Which is considerably more than I can say for spring breakers among college students, congregating in the usual hotspots, like in Florida. 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images, via Yahoo!

As you can see in the above photo, some are masked, others are, unfortunately, not, and running the risk of another super-spreader event in the Sunshine State, which has seen another spike in COVID-19 cases over the last two weekends.

I get it. These kids have been cooped up on campus and/or at home for most of the past year, and they need to get out and party, and doing so via Zoom or Skype isn't going to cut it. It's not helping matters that Florida's clueless governor, Ron DeSantis, was one of several southern governors to lift mask mandates in recent weeks, concerned not about public health, but the incoming revenue that comes with spring breakers. In other words, this moron is trying to refill the state's coffers, sacrificing the health & safety of the citizens of his state. Still, a curfew has been imposed in Miami through April 12 to try to slow the spread and get the kids in their hotels at a decent hour.

And it's not just the spring breakers, either. Reports late last week said that former president Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate was partially closed due a fresh outbreak of COVID. WWE's NXT had to scramble to put a show together on Wednesday when several wrestlers were scratched from the show, or forced to appear remotely via Face Time, such as Johnny Gargano and his wife, Candice LeRae. Paul "Triple H" Levesque is, at last check, in quarantine in Orlando for his own safety (wife Stephanie and their daughters are home in Connecticut), and can you blame him? With WWE set to move the Thunderdome out of Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg in time for Wrestlemania on April 10-11, with limited attendance at the Showcase of The Immortals, which is taking place in Tampa, this setback will further delay the company's plans to resume touring for all three brands.
There may be a 4th brand of COVID vaccine on the way to the US.

Astra Zeneca's vaccine, developed overseas, has been approved in the UK, and will need to petition for emergency approval from the FDA and the CDC here before it becomes available, joining Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. The sooner, you figure, the better.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Musical Interlude: Big Bad John (1961)

 From The Ed Sullivan Show:

Actor-singer Jimmy Dean hit the top of the charts and won a Grammy with 1961's "Big Bad John". I've been dying to find this one for a while. Excerpts have been used in infomercials for country music collections.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

This is no way to chase a star athlete out of town. Or is it?

 They say misery loves company. If that's true, then NY Governor Andrew Cuomo can make room for someone else dealing with a series of allegations of sexual assault and/or misconduct. The only difference is, those cases are moving forward in litigation.

Not too long ago, Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson wanted out of town, asking to be traded. Now, he's facing lawsuits from seven different women, and their attorney claims there are five more on the way.

Houston lawyer Tony Buzbee is representing the unidentified victims, and claims that Watson's personal quarterback coach put him in contact with one of the victims. Watson has denied the allegations, and has accused Buzbee of being a publicity-seeking "plaintiff's attorney". In other words, he sees Buzbee, an ex-Marine who failed in a bid for the Mayor's office 2 years ago, as an ambulance chaser looking to leech off Watson's fame and present unhappiness in the city.

Buzbee claims to have been in contact with Houston police. The Houston Police Department issued a statement via Twitter on Friday denying this.

The timing of these lawsuits, he also says, has nothing to do with Watson's desire to leave the Texans. I have my doubts about that. This is a man who also bought billboard space begging the Texans to draft Johnny Manziel out of Texas A & M, and that failed (Manziel went to Cleveland, and is now in Canada). The NFL is investigating, as it should, but they should talk to both sides, and get the real story. Talk not only to Watson and his representatives, but also to Buzbee, who's getting his 15 minutes of fame for the wrong reasons.

Watson has also said that Buzbee tried to get some sort of six-figure settlement out of him. When that didn't happen, that's when the lawsuits started. No lawyer worth his degrees should resort to that. Ever.

Roughly translated, Mr. Buzbee, tell the truth, and show your hand. The alleged victims of Cuomo have come forward and gone public, save for at least one. It is preferred that you do the same with your clients.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Maybe she should've checked to see if anyone was home......

 Pete Davidson might want to give David Letterman a call.

Photo courtesy of Yahoo!

The Saturday Night Live cast member has found himself the target of a stalker, much like Letterman was nearly 35 years ago. Only, in this case, the stalker didn't realize that Davidson not being home didn't mean the house was empty.

Michelle Mootreddy made headlines earlier this week issuing a false press release on behalf of Davidson, claiming to be his business manager and wife. She broke into Davidson's Staten Island home, only to find he had relatives minding the store, if you will, while he was away, presumably at rehearsals for SNL. They called the cops, and Ms. Mootreddy was on her way to jail.

Still, reading this story recalls the tragic tale of Margaret Mary Ray, who, beginning in 1988, was arrested 8 times for trespassing on Letterman's property in Connecticut, and even taking his car for a joyride with her then-3 year old son. Ray was diagnosed with schizophrenia, a condition that apparently ran in her family, and, 10 years later, she committed suicide after she'd been hospitalized and released following her stalking of retired astronaut Story Musgrave. Ray had tried to move on with her life, taking a series of odd jobs, before her passing.

In the Ray case with Letterman, the talk show legend was never home when Ray came a'calling, but he showed enough compassion such that he didn't press charges. One has to hope Mootreddy doesn't go down that same primrose path in her pursuit of Davidson, a much younger star than Letterman was back in 1988, and she gets the help she needs to rebuild her life.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Sports this 'n' that

 Earlier today, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that open air stadiums, such as Joe Bruno Stadium here in town, Citi Field & Yankee Stadium in New York City, and Thomas & Mary Casey Stadium at UAlbany, will be open to fans as of April 1. Limited capacity, social distancing, etc., are requirements.

For example, the Mets will cap attendance at 8,000. Bruno Stadium seats as many as 6,000+ on a good night, so they'd have up to about 1,500-2,000 fans for a Valleycats home game, I'd guess, when the team starts their first season in the Frontier League.

Former Mets & Yankees pitcher Al Leiter, now an analyst for MLB Network, was in attendance at the presser this morning as a guest of Cuomo.

Unfortunately, high school & college games may still be closed off to fans, with high school football in Section II kicking off tomorrow, but come the next school year, things may well be different. Stay tuned.
It was just a matter of time before La Loudmouth was heard from again.

Even though eldest son Lonzo is having his best season as a pro, LaVar Ball is complaining about how the New Orleans Pelicans are using him, along with 2nd year pro Zion Williamson. 

Photo courtesy of Yahoo!

LaVar's not the sharpest of minds as a coach, as we have previously seen, but he just can't help himself. He thinks the Pelicans should trade Lonzo. HA! If he's doing so well, pops, then keep your opinion to yourself!

I'd bet that even if youngest son LaMelo and Charlotte don't make the playoffs, he'd be looking for Michael Jordan & the Hornets to trade LaMelo.

I'd rather lock La Loudmouth in a room with Screamin' A. Cosell (Stephen A. Smith), put them in a boxing ring, and see who survives.
Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor has made it clear that while he & his reps are negotiating a contract extension, he'd like to have it done before the season starts in 2 weeks. If I'm Steve Cohen & Sandy Alderson, I'd listen.

Meanwhile, Amed Rosario is being tried out as an outfielder with Cleveland, something the Mets had only talked about doing the last couple of years. It's a work in progress, of course. Rosario had a couple of errors in the field earlier this week, but if Cleveland management is bent on making him an outfielder, he may need to start the season in the minors, while Andres Giminez would start at short.
Get ready to say goodbye to Thursday Night Football on broadcast television.

The NFL finalized new media deals earlier today, with Thursday Night Football moving to Amazon Prime, which also owns Twitch, starting with the 2023 season. The Thursday package currently airs on Fox, save for opening night in September, and a primetime game on Thanksgiving, both of which air on NBC. In addition, ABC re-enters the Super Bowl broadcast rotation, which means the February curtain dropper could rotate among the four broadcast networks for the duration of the contract. I can dig.
Finding it hard to believe that ESPN was willing to bring back Skip Bayless until he decided to re-up with Fox Sports 1. First Take has gotten better with Max Kellerman replacing Bayless, and schooling Screamin' A. on a daily basis, while Bayless is stuck with marble-mouthed Shannon Sharpe on Undisputed. To tell you the truth, I'd suspect Screamin' A. is tired of Kellerman embarrassing him, and wanted him gone. Actually, beef jerky for brains, we'd rather see you disappear.
So LeBron James has bought into the Boston Red Sox, even though he's a Yankee fan, or was. I'd think that he would've bought a stake in Cleveland, which is giving up the "Indians" at some point, or even the NFL's Browns.

Heck, I wouldn't mind a celebrity consortium taking a share of the Browns, including LeBron and the WWE's Michael "The Miz" Mizanin.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

How do you whitesplain hate crime?

 A 21 year old man goes on a killing spree in Atlanta, specifically targeting businesses owned by Asian Americans. Eight people are dead. Six are Asian American women. The others are a white couple.

Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department tried to explain, or, make that, whitesplain away the actions of Robert Long as the perp "having a bad day", and that, supposedly, racism had nothing to do with it.

Photo courtesy of Yahoo!

Who taught Baker law enforcement? Elroy P. Lobo? Deputy Dawg? Ferris Bueller?

"Maybe he forgot his lessons, hm?"

I don't know about that, Mortimer, but what I do know is that Baker isn't doing the victims any favors, and got roasted on Twitter as a result of his attempt at whitewashing what Long did.

Like, sex addiction? Yeah, right. In other words.....

Translated, Captain Baker, no matter how you slice it, it's still a hate crime. So Long's like a real life Beavis and/or Butt-Head and can't score. There's something called therapy. Long should try it if he gets probation.

And as for Captain Baker, well, there's only one thing for you and your Chief Wiggum impersonation:


2021 American League East preview

 Last year, the Tampa Bay Rays shocked everyone by reaching the World Series for the 2nd time in franchise history, only to lose to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Series.

However, the Rays, because of being a small market team, have overhauled their roster, and the chances of repeating in 2021 are not as good as you'd think because of all the moves that were made in the off-season.

For example, Charlie Morton & Blake Snell, their top pitchers, chased the money to the National League (Atlanta & San Diego, respectively). Conversely, Chris Archer (Pittsburgh) returns to the Rays, joining the man he was traded for, Tyler Glasnow. Colin McHugh comes over from Houston. Michael Wacha (Mets) will be competing for a rotation role. Expect those Fozzie Bear posters from St. Louis to find their way to Tropicana Field. Chris Mazza, another ex-Met, pitched for Boston last year. Rich Hill came over from Minnesota.

Offensively, though, the Rays are, for the most part, intact, although outfielder Hunter Renfroe is gone (Boston). Catcher Francisco Mejia actually came over from San Diego in a swap for Snell, which may still end up biting the Rays' collective corporate tuchis. Brett Phillips (Kansas City) replaces Renfroe.

What is it about the teams in Florida and being cheap?

The popular pick in the division, though, is Toronto after getting outfielder George Springer from Houston via free agency. That was just the tip of the iceberg, as the Blue Jays also netted pitchers Steven "Welcome" Matz (Mets), Robbie Ray (Arizona), and Ross Stripling (Dodgers), plus infielder Marcus Semien (Oakland) in the off-season. Pitching had to be a priority, as the Jays also picked up potential closer Kirby Yates from San Diego, and starter Tyler Chatwood from the Cubs.

With Springer adding to a young offensive core with second generation sluggers Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., & Cavan Biggio, Toronto looks like it means business.

Baltimore can't help but be a doormat, no matter what changes were made. The Orioles recently signed infielder Maikel Franco (Kansas City), reuniting him with former Philadelphia teammate Freddy Galvis (Cincinnati). Otherwise, nothing special.

In Boston, Alex Cora returns after a year's suspension for the Houston sign stealing scandal. Unfortunately, while the team still has some punch with the additions of Marwin Gonzalez (Minnesota) and ex-Valleycat Enrique "Kike" Hernandez (Dodgers), along with the aforementioned Hunter Renfroe, the pitching isn't exactly top shelf with Chris Sale starting the season on the injured list. Adam Ottavino comes over from the hated Yankees, and the Red Sox heisted Garrett Richards from the Angels. It's not going to be enough in the long term.

The Yankees ended up 7 lengths in arrears of Tampa Bay last season, and, like the Blue Jays, prioritized pitching. Masahiro Tanaka returned home to Japan. James Paxton decided to return to Seattle. So they picked up starters Jameson Taillon (Pittsburgh) and Corey Kluber (Texas), along with reliever Darren O'Day (Atlanta), who is added to the list of players who've been on the rosters of both the Mets & Yankees over the years. Speaking of which, Justin Wilson returns to the Bronx after spending 2020 with the Mets. Still another ex-Met, Jay Bruce (Philadelphia) is a non-roster invitee. The offense is still there, and with Tampa having dropped down, the Yankees should move back up, and will.

Projected order of finish:

1. Yankees.
2. Toronto.
3. Tampa Bay.
4. Boston.
5. Baltimore.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Only in The South: A rigged Homecoming election? Yep, it happened, and the perps got caught

For all of his false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump would probably give this next story a pass.

In Contentmont, Florida, the Homecoming ceremonies at J. T. Tate High School went off without a hitch on Halloween weekend. Or so everyone thought.

Study the picture of the young lady in the middle. The press isn't identifying her as she is being treated as a juvenile even though she's 17. We'll call her Jane Doe as a result. Anyway, the innocent smile on her face hides the fact that she cheated to earn the crown. Her mother is an assistant principal at an elementary school in the same district.

Four and a half months after what was supposed to be one of the high points of her senior season, Jane Doe is now out of school, expelled after it was learned that she, with the approval and assistance of her mother, used modern technology to rig the election in her favor. More than 250 false votes were cast on her behalf, but where Jane slipped was the fact that the votes were traced back to their IP source----her cell phone.


Mother has been suspended from her job, and likely won't be coming back, and Jane is trying to figure out where she went wrong. The real question is why she did it, then brag about it to her friends. This ain't exactly "Mean Girls", ya know.

Let me give you an analogy from the comics.

7 years ago, Betty & Veronica began a storyline where the Riverdale teens went off on a foreign exchange student sojourn across the globe. Veronica wanted this gig all for herself, and with her dad's help, mostly money, of course, the vote was rigged in her favor, but ultimately, Betty got to tag along after all. Unfortunately, the storyline dragged for over a year due to Archie Comics demoting the series to bi-monthly.

That brings us to now, and Jane Doe, risking her mother's career and her collegiate future by pulling a stunt worthy of Veronica Lodge. She's paid the price publicly by being expelled, and likely forced to return the crown, though that wasn't mentioned in the wire service articles making the rounds.

Couple this with the story about a Pennsylvania parent and her cheerleader daughter from the other day, and you wonder what gets in the heads of these parents these days.

2021 National League East preview

 Little by little, fans are being let back into stadiums during baseball's pre-season, in venues in Florida & Arizona. Yes, they're socially distanced. Mask mandates have been lifted in both Florida & Arizona, due in larger part to spring break this month, and we've talked about that. Now, however, with a shade over two weeks left before opening day, it's time to take a look toward this season, and we'll start with the Mets.

To paraphrase former President Ronald Reagan, it's morning again in Flushing. Steve Cohen is the new majority owner, and there are new faces in Luis Rojas' dugout.

Start with Francisco Lindor. The all-world shortstop came over from Cleveland in exchange for Amed Rosario & Andres Giminez, and, at least this year, forms a potentially formidible double play combination with Jeff McNeil. Robinson Cano is suspended for the season (PED's). The Valley of The Stupid wanted the Mets to find a more experienced 3rd baseman, not entirely sold on J. D. Davis, who's in his 3rd year in Flushing. Those armchair managers think they know everything. Emphasize think.

The Mets missed out on ex-Valleycat George Springer, who went to Toronto instead. Not a problem. Ex-Blue Jay Kevin Pillar might as well adopt Ricky Nelson's "Travelin' Man" as his theme song, seeing as how he's split time between San Francisco, Boston, & Colorado the last two years. The Mets also brought in Albert Almora, Jr. (Cubs) and Jose Martinez (St. Louis) to play for roster spots, and as depth insurance for Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, & Michael Conforto. Well traveled vet Mallex Smith, whose resume includes stops in Atlanta and Seattle, is also in camp.

Behind the plate, Wilson Ramos is gone (Detroit), replaced by James McCann (White Sox). One of Cohen's goals was to bolster the pitching staff, and, oh, did he ever. Carlos Carrasco came over from Cleveland with Lindor. Jordan Yamamoto was heisted from Derek Jeter & Miami. Sean Reid-Foley & Taijuan Walker came from Toronto. Joey Lucchesi came over from San Diego in a 3-team deal that saw ex-Valleycat Joe Musgrove go west to the Padres. As usual, an embarrassment of riches. 

Meanwhile, Justin Wilson has gone across town for his 2nd tour with the Yankees. Outfielder Juan Lagares and his bazooka of an arm have gone back to the AL, this time with the Angels. Michael Wacha is in Tampa Bay after a disappointing 2020. And no one's sure if Yoenis Cespedes will return.

Now, let's see about the rest of the division:

Atlanta has won three straight division titles, and they, too, are getting richer on the hill. Picking up Drew Smyly and reliever Will Smith from San Francisco, and Carl Edwards, Jr. (Cubs) is a non-roster invitee. Smyly should help the rotation, which lost Julio Teheran (Detroit), and will have Mike Sirotka return after tearing his Achilles vs. the Mets last summer. Charlie Morton moves back to the NL after stints in Houston & Tampa Bay. The lineup remains intact.

Washington is preparing for life without Ryan Zimmerman. They're doing so by picking up Josh Bell from Pittsburgh, but another free agent signing, Kyle Schwarber (Cubs) can also play the position. The Nationals' outfield has been gutted, with Michael A. Taylor (Kansas City) and Adam Eaton (White Sox) gone, so Schwarber figures to play mostly in the outfield. Alex Avila takes over as the starting catcher (Minnesota), though he'll likely platoon with Yan Gomes. Pitching? Beyond Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, & Patrick Corbin, you have Jon Lester (Cubs) replacing Anibal Sanchez, but the 5th starter is a question mark. Brad Hand (Cleveland) replaces Sean Doolittle (Cincinnati) as the closer.

Philadelphia needs help. The Phillies re-signed catcher J. T. Realmuto & shortstop Didi Gregorius, but otherwise stood pat. Not good.

Miami will regret letting Yamamoto go. You'd think Jeter would know better, but then, his former boss in New York, the late George Steinbrenner, often traded away prospects that he thought wouldn't amount to anything, and they'd blossom elsewhere. Manager Don Mattingly, another Steinbrenner protege, if you will, should remember those lessons, too.

Projected order of finish:

1. Atlanta.
2. Mets.
3. Washington.
4. Philadelphia.
5. Miami.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Moron TV: Stephen A.'s World (2021)

 Stephen A. Smith has no shame.

The ESPN bloviator has shilled for beef jerky, embarrassing the pro athletes co-starring with him in ads (i.e. Richard Sherman). He embarrasses himself on a regular basis on First Take, and he's already bombed with a primetime talk show.

So why is ESPN+ letting him have some space for himself again?

Stephen A.'s World, which we sampled a while back when actor-singer Jamie Foxx stopped by, is a spin-off from First Take for one big reason, and it ain't Smith's ability to communicate.

Seems that some genius thought it'd be a nice idea to have Smith, Max Kellerman, et al have "baby" alter-egos created through some sort of CGI filter, with the commentators' voices sped up (remember those horrid [adult swim] knockoffs of 60's Hanna-Barbera superhero cartoons?) for comedy relief, as if Smith didn't provide that all by himself by being dumber than two bags of hammers on subjects outside of boxing and basketball.

So now, there's a regular feature devoted to "Baby Stephen A." And it's as bad as it sounds. In this excerpt, the "baby" thinks he's got game....

The E-Trade baby commercials were funnier than this baloney.

Rating: C-.

A little of this and a little of that

 After 20 seasons in San Diego & New Orleans, winning one Super Bowl (with the Saints), Drew Brees retired Sunday, and was promptly hired by NBC, meaning either they're expanding the desk for Football Night in America next fall, or someone's being reassigned.

Brees was drafted by the then-San Diego Chargers out of Purdue in 2001, and signed with New Orleans in 2008. The Saints as of now will go into the 2021 season with Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston dueling for the starting QB job. In addition, Brees' retirement makes the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers a prohibitive favorite to win the NFC South, if not a 2nd NFC title, at least from this desk.
Big headline coming out of last night's Grammy Awards was Beyonce winning her 28th award, an all-time record. That's more than Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna, Mariah Carey, etc.. The record breaker was for a duet with daughter Blue Ivy.

Tabloid magnet Kanye West, newly estranged from Kim Kardashian, won a Grammy for Best Christian Album for "Jesus is King". We'll see if he adds any Dove Awards.
A couple of CW stars are soon to make their debuts as comic book writers.

Camrus Johnson (Batwoman) is writing a story for one of DC's Batman anthology titles, due in June. Supergirl co-star Nicole Maines is scripting a story marking the DCU debut of her character, Nia Nal, aka Dreamer, for DC's Pride anthology special showcasing LGBTQ+ characters, also due in June. With Supergirl being rushed onto the schedule at the end of the month while Superman & Lois goes on hiatus from production due to COVID, Maines is making sure Dreamer won't be forgotten, as she has poured so much emotional investment into the role since joining the show two seasons back. Supergirl begins its final season March 30.
Just when you thought LaVar Ball was the worst possible stage parent, along comes a Pennsylvania mom who's taken some extreme measures to ensure her daughter's spot on a high school cheerleading team.

Raffaela Spone, 50, used deepfake technology to create phony videos purportedly showing three other girls drinking alcohol, smoking---presumably marijuana----, and, supposedly, walking around naked.

Photo courtesy of Yahoo!

Spone allegedly also sent abusive messages to other team members and their families, as well as the owners of a gym from false phone numbers. Spone's been charged with three counts of cyber harassment, among other things. Apparently, in Mrs. Greasy Spone's warped mind, her daughter was being bullied herself, and took it upon herself, supposedly without her daughter's knowledge, to pull this scam, which makes her a easy pick for Weasel of The Week. I get that she was obsessed with getting her daughter on the team, living vicariously through her child, but this does more harm than good.

Update, 3/16/21, 10:38 pm: We've added a video from Monday's Good Morning America:

Sunday, March 14, 2021

When MTV Meant Something: MTV goes to Spring Break (1986)

 Spring Break was already a college tradition, dating back to 1935, by the time MTV took their cameras and VJ's to Daytona Beach in March 1986, meaning that Daytona to television meant something else besides a certain auto race every February.

For 20 consecutive years, ending in 2005, MTV devoted a weekend----originally a full week----of Spring Break programming, including concerts and specially themed episodes of original series, beginning in 1988, such as Remote Control, which did a week of shows from Daytona for 3 consecutive years (1988-90), and the series' official finale was taped at Daytona. 

1990 also stands out for some silliness with Yo! MTV Raps! weekday hosts Dr. Dre (Andre Brown) & Ed Lover, and original VJ Martha Quinn, on her 2nd tour of duty with the network at that point, wearing a oversized Yo! t-shirt. I swear, I'm not making this up, because I tuned in that weekend. 

Speaking of Martha, she MC's this 1986 concert special with Mr. Mister, which was sponsored by Miller Beer, and does a quick post-concert interview with the band.

Judging from some YouTube commentators, Martha really was America's Sweetheart back then.

By the end of the 80's, MTV had switched gears and began scaling back on live programming, due to the unpredictability of Spring Break causing issues with network censors and the FCC. The network moved the annual tradition off MTV itself and onto MTVU after 2005, only to bring it back, at least as an experiment, in 2019. With the channel turning 40 this year, and 35 years after the first week of shows from Daytona, were it not for COVID-19, they probably would be down there again this year, but it wouldn't be the same.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

What Might've Been: Cade's County (1971)

 In the wake of the infamous "rural purge" of 1971, CBS tried out a new Western, this one set in modern times.

Cade's County starred Glenn Ford as Marshal Sam Cade of Madrid County, a fictional county in an unnamed state. Edgar Buchanan, fresh from Petticoat Junction, co-starred as Cade's deputy, JJ. For Buchanan, it was a return to drama after spending seven seasons as Uncle Joe on Junction, having previously top-lined Judge Roy Bean in the 50's. CBS slotted Cade's County on Sundays, which, in hindsight, was a bad idea, as it aired against the 2nd half of Bonanza.

But it wasn't for lack of trying.

In "A Gun For Billy", actor-singer Bobby Darin plays a thief who imagines himself as Billy The Kid, making Cade, in his eyes, Pat Garrett. Linda Cristal, fresh from High Chapparal, David Doyle, and a young Leif Garrett also guest star. Directed by Richard Donner.

Writer Anthony Lawrence would see his own creation, The Sixth Sense, debut for ABC the following winter. Cade's County lasted the one season, and with its cancellation, executive producer David Gerber left 20th Century Fox for Screen Gems, where he'd strike gold with Police Story and its spin-off, Police Woman.

No rating. Just a public service.

And so the chorus grows louder

 After New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced Thursday that he would initiate an inquiry into Governor Andrew Cuomo's alleged sexual harassment and/or assaults, with up to about 9 women having come forward so far, Congressmen Paul Tonko & Antonio Delgado, and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer have added their voices to the chorus calling for Cuomo to step down, something he's not willing to do until all the facts have been accounted for.

Photo courtesy of Yahoo!

With Schumer now Senate Majority Leader in Washington, the pressure on Cuomo to resign grows more intense. Cuomo continues to deny that he has done anything wrong, and has apologized more than once for making some of the accusers feel uncomfortable.

But, as we've seen happen with disgraced entertainer Bill Cosby, the more women that come forward, at this rate en masse, the harder it's going to be for Cuomo to stand and fight, a full 180 degree turn from last year, when Cuomo was seen as the white knight during the pandemic, condemning then-President Donald Trump for his public inaction. Cuomo, however, wasn't exactly 100% perfect, either, as his administration fudged some numbers on coronavirus-related fatalities in nursing homes. If that was the only ongoing issue, it wouldn't be as much of a problem, but in the era of #MeToo, Cuomo is finding that almost every hand is against him, something his late father never had to deal with.

If any of this is proven, then Attorney General Letitia James might have two rather large pelts before this year is out, assuming that the litigation against Trump also goes forward and results in charges against the former president and his family for tax fraud and, possibly, also evasion. In the latter case, Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr. announced Friday that he will not be seeking re-election in November. A conviction against Trump may or may not change that, but who knows?

If I'm Cuomo, I'm going to confession today. A few Novenas, Our Fathers, and rosaries can help.

Friday, March 12, 2021

If you haven't gotten your shots yet, maybe these guys can help (2021)

 Four of the five former presidents still living have come together to do a PSA for the Ad Council encouraging Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, & Barack Obama all appear in the ad. The lone holdout? Who else but Donald Trump, who downplayed the pandemic intentionally in a lame attempt to avoid panicking the American people, if but to cover the fact that he prioritized the national bottom line over public health & safety. America's Oldest Baby is probably afraid that if he took part in this ad, he'd look weak in front of his brainwashed base.

Of course, CBS' Stephen Colbert found a way to edit the ad to insert Trump on The Late Show, but we'll pass on that. Ye scribe has already gotten one shot, with one more coming in a couple of weeks.

But if you don't take the advice of four former presidents, what are you waiting for?

A little of this and a little of that

 A year ago, Governor Andrew Cuomo was hailed as a hero for his handling of the then-developing coronavirus pandemic. The diametric opposite of then-President Donald Trump and his intentional downplaying of the pandemic, largely because it didn't fit Trump's warped agenda.

Now, however, Cuomo has something in common with America's Oldest Baby.

Both are alleged to be serial perverts.

As of press time, six women have come forward to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment. Cuomo is defending himself by saying he doesn't believe he said or did anything inappropriate. However, as more women likely will come forward, it's less & less likely that Cuomo will make it to the end of his current term. You have calls for impeachment investigations coming from both sides of the aisle at the Capitol in Albany. You have political rivals like New York Mayor Bill DiBlasio calling for Cuomo to resign.

None of this would have come out, as we talked about previously, had Cuomo not split with Food Network personality Sandra Lee a couple of years back. Or would it?

Here's a short clip from Reuters' YouTube channel:

If Cuomo does cave in and resign, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul would be the state's first female Governor.
The NCAA basketball tournament, which starts next week, is going to feel a little different without Duke.

The Blue Devils, who'd reached the quarter-finals of the ACC tournament, were forced to withdraw due to----wait for it----COVID-19, forcing a premature end to a middling season that saw Duke at .500 in the league (9-9). Florida State gets a bye into the semi-finals as a result.

As we've noted over at Tri-City SportsBeat, the Capital District High School Hockey League (CDHSHL) similarly saw their post-season tournament turned upside down with 2 teams, CBA & LaSalle, both forced to withdraw for the same reason.

This lends itself to the unpredictability of the virus, trust me.
Patrick Ewing's #33 hangs from the rafters at Madison Square Garden. He played virtually his entire pro career as a Knick before taking his first coaching job as an assistant with Orlando, leading to his current gig as head coach of his alma mater, Georgetown.

With the Hoyas in town for the Big East tournament at MSG, Ewing was greeted with a rude shock this week. In a Thursday presser, Ewing revealed that today's MSG security just doesn't know who he is, and questioned him about his access passes. Like, hello? At Georgetown, Ewing won a national title, and nearly one or two more, before being drafted by the Knicks. A decade later, he took the Knicks to the cusp of the NBA title. And these dweebs don't know who he is?

Luckily, Knicks/MSG owner/tyrant James Dolan does know who Ewing is, and the two had a phone conversation to clear the air. Knowing Dolan, though, he's probably reassigned the guards to sanitation duty.
Texas Governor Greg (Let me shake you down) Abbott is suing the city of Austin because the city fathers there are refusing to abide by his executive order to end the mask mandate in the Lone Star State. A county is also being sued.

Actually, there should be calls for Abbott to resign for being so stupid as to prematurely lift the mandate. As we've previously discussed, Abbott made the decision because he sees incoming revenue with college kids hitting his state for spring break. Abbott, and his lieutenant, Dan Patrick, are putting the bottom line ahead of public safety, and, at this time of year, that's a big no-no. Austin, of course, is home to the University of Texas, which has its own issues because of the perception that the state song, "The Eyes of Texas", might have some racist themes.

All this tells us is that in many cases, you reap what you sow.