Saturday, December 31, 2022

Of Recent Vintage: Lingo (2002)

 Game Show network revived a late 80's game show that few people realize even aired in the first place.

Lingo was originally in syndication back in 1987, and ran for a couple of years, with executive producer Ralph Andrews going in front of the camera to host after his original choice, Michael Reagan (brother of the President), bowed out after a period as MC. In 2002, GSN revived the series, with veteran Chuck Woolery (ex-Wheel of Fortune, Love Connection, Greed) as host. Seven "seasons" over five years (2002-7) would be a pretty healthy run in this day & age.

Here's a sample.

Four years after the series ended, GSN brought it back, with actor-comedian Bill Engvall taking over as host. While Engvall was a decent MC, the series was canned again after 1 season.

We bring this up because CBS has picked up the rights to revive the show again, starting January 10, and thus allowing Lingo to make its broadcast network debut. RuPaul (RuPaul Andre Charles) will be host and executive producer, following the success of RuPaul's Drag Race on Logo & VH1.

Rating, based on the Woolery & Engvall versions: A.

Another trilogy of passings

The last two days have seen three people who impacted sports and the world in general leave us.

It started with soccer legend Pele, born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, who passed away Thursday at 82. The Brazilian icon won 3 World Cups, and built his legend in his native country before emigrating to the US to play professionally for the NY Cosmos in the 70's. He appeared with Sylvester Stallone in the 1981 film, "Victory" (aka "Escape to Victory"), and remained an ambassador for the sport of soccer until his passing.

This morning, they are mourning Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who succumbed to an illness at 95. After resigning from the papacy due to declining health in 2013, Benedict served as a mentor to the current Pope, Francis, remaining at the Vatican until his death on Friday. To my knowledge, he might've been the first Pope Emeritus.

Finally, trailblazing news reporter-anchor Barbara Walters, whose career began as a writer for CBS in the late 50's, and became the first woman to anchor a nightly national newscast for ABC in 1976, passed away, also on Friday, at 93.

Walters made her television debut filling in as a runway model at a fashion show she was covering for CBS. She spent 13 years co-hosting Today for NBC, leading to the late Gilda Radner's famous parody of Walters, Baba Wawa, on Saturday Night Live. She teamed with Harry Reasoner, who returned to ABC from CBS, to co-anchor the ABC Evening News, even though that didn't last very long. Walters then segued to launching, with Hugh Downs, 20/20, which is still on the air today.

Walters also co-created, hosted, and served as executive producer of The View, before announcing her retirement in 2014. ABC sent Barbara into retirement in grand style with special guests Hillary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey. At the end of the show, Walters attempted a sit-down monologue......

Walters continued as EP of The View for a few more years, perhaps serving as a mentor to current moderator Whoopi Goldberg.

Rest in peace.

Friday, December 30, 2022

Musical Interlude: Abraham, Martin, & John (1969)

 From The Ed Sullivan Show:

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles serve up some 4-part harmony in covering Dion's "Abraham, Martin, & John".

Yes, Robert F. Kennedy was mentioned in the lyrics, too. The other song that referenced the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers was Tommy Cash's "Six White Horses".

When Icons Meet: "Batman" vs. "Gilligan's Island" on Family Feud (1983)

 The other day, we posted an episode of What's My Line? over at Saturday Morning Archives in which Jim Backus was a panelist, still at the peak of physical health.

By 1983, however, it was a different story. Jim had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, the same affliction that Michael J. Fox and others have fought since. Backus was reduced to a cameo in 1981's "The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island" (Italics mine), and had recovered enough to go into the recording studio with the rest of the Gilligan cast (save for Tina Louise, of course) for the short-lived Gilligan's Planet cartoon the next year. 1983 brought an appearance on Family Feud, playing for charity alongside castmates Alan Hale, Natalie Schaefer, Russell Johnson, & Dawn Wells. Bob Denver (Gilligan) had passed on appearing. I think he was working on another project at the time.

Providing the opposition? Batman. It was a reunion of the "Terrific Trio" (Adam West, Burt Ward, & Yvonne Craig), joined by Lee Meriweather (ex-The Time Tunnel, Barnaby Jones), the 2nd Catwoman during the 1966-8 series' run (in the feature film released between seasons 1-2), and Vincent Price (Egghead), no stranger to game shows himself (i.e. Hollywood Squares). Where was Frank Gorshin? Cesar Romero? Julie Newmar? Holy Batastrophe!

Richard Dawson presides over the meeting of icons, being one himself (Hogan's Heroes). You'll see a slight tweak in round 2, as apparently, Backus was not able to walk to the podium for the face-off with Meriweather.

Rating: A.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Sometimes, the host plays: Bert Convy cedes his MC's microphone on Tattletales (1974)

 Long before Ben Stein put himself in position as a contestant for part of Win Ben Stein's Money during its run on Comedy Central, Bert Convy (ex-The Snoop Sisters), at the urging of Goodson-Todman, would bring his wife, Anne, onto Tattletales so they could play for a week.

In this instance, Gene Rayburn pulls double duty, hosting Match Game concurrently with his guest gig on Tattletales while Bert is on the panel with Harvey Korman (The Carol Burnett Show) and his wife, and Jo Anne Worley (ex-Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In) and then-husband Roger Perry.

This wouldn't be the only time Convy gave up the MC's mic during this run.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Forgotten TV: The Donna Summer Special (1980)

 Winter 1980. Disco is on its last legs, as the public's musical tastes are changing yet again, gravitating toward the punk rock sound, and, otherwise, re-embracing traditional pop and rock sounds.

Cbart topper Donna Summer headlined her first special for ABC, airing in January 1980. Part autobiography, part concert, part traditional variety special, Donna retraces the steps of her musical career. Robert Guillaume (Benson) all but steals the show with a mid-show medley of covers ("Midnight at The Oasis", "The Way You Do The Things You Do", "Bridge Over Troubled Water') as an angel comforting Donna.

Donna shifted to a more traditional R & B sound 3 years later with "She Works Hard For The Money".

Rating: A.

Here a liar, there a liar.........

 When the Republican-majority House of Representatives opens the 2023 session next week, NY Rep.-elect George Santos shouldn't be seated.

Santos, you see, lied his way to the House in last month's election, falsely claiming to have graduated from Baruch College, which has no record of him doing so, and also claiming to have worked at CitiGroup and Goldman Sachs in NYC, neither of which can confirm having employed this modern day Pinocchio, either. He's also misled people about his religion, sexual orientation, etc., as an elaborate con, the likes of which would make Citizen Pampers jealous (and, don't worry, we'll get to the Sultan of Spray Tan shortly). Depending on who you talk to, and Santos was grilled by Tulsi Gabbard on Fox No News, it seems he's told so many lies that he's forgotten what the truth is.

Fittingly, CBS is launching a series based on the 90's Arnold Schwarzenegger/Jamie Lee Curtis farce, "True Lies", next month. We recommend Santos pay attention to how long that lasts.

As for the Archduke of Affluenza, he's still claiming immunity, even though that ship sailed long after he left the White House. Yeah, he's allergic to prison. Farron Cousins explains.

Yes, the marks will buy into Trump's persistent lies, and if that's a benchmark, then the marks in NYC will do the same for Santos. He'd better pray he doesn't get into a debate with Alex From The Block, who would just flat destroy him on the House floor.

Out in the desert, Kari Lake is still in denial over losing her bid for the Governor's mansion in Arizona last month. A two-day trial last week, in which a judge had reduced the number of complaints from 10 down to 2,  ended with the judge dismissing the lawsuit. Naturally, Empty Lake is planning to appeal, even though Governor-elect Katie Hobbs is to be sworn in next week. This is the price she pays for using Citizen Pampers' playbook. Like others who have knelt at the Altar of Affluenza, Kari sacrificed her career. That's all that needs be said. Maybe she should go into therapy before she ends up like Rudy Goofiani and Prince Pillow (Mike Lindell), both of whom have lost their minds.

Lake, oh, by the way, is appealing the judge's ruling, but it's a waste of time.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Weasel of The Week: Greg Abbott

 "Those who fail to remember history are condemned to repeat it."--George Santayana.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott is being condemned because of another political stunt he pulled over Christmas weekend in a selfish effort to try to "own the libs".

"Oops, I did it again!"---Britney Spears.

Yes, he did it again. Abbott, showing absolutely no concern for his own constituents who are freezing in the wake of last week's bomb cyclone, sent three buses of migrants to the Naval Observatory in Washington, home to VP Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff. These people were attended to immediately upon arrival by some local not-for-profit groups who found them shelter and season-appropriate wardrobe. Abbott insists on pinning the blame for the current wave of migrants crossing into Texas on the Biden administration, but here's a newsflash, jackass. It's not Biden's fault. It's yours all the way around. You're scapegoating because, again, you're shirking responsibility, not only to migrants seeking asylum, but to your own citizens. 22 months after an ice storm caused massive blackouts, and shamed Timex Cruz into cutting short a vacation in Mexico, Texas is again dealing with a lack of electricity because Abbott's too lazy and cheap to fix the existing problem, due to his and the GOP's obsession with "owning the libs".

Farron Cousins breaks it down:

Screw the political points. When the people of Texas need him the most, Greg Abbott thumbs his nose at them, not realizing they're just as much at risk (hypothermia, frostbite, etc.) as the migrants he sent to Washington. The migrants are being shown compassion, kindness, and respect, where Abbott showed them none. To him, they're pawns in a political chess game he's doomed to lose. I'll bet Abbott like certain other GOPers, hasn't really read the Bible lately.

And he gets a set of Weasel ears this week. He may think he did something noble in this season of giving, but all he really did was pass the buck on responsibility. Again.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Sports this 'n' that

 Less than a week ago, Mets fans were salivating over the idea of Carlos Correa playing 3rd base alongside Francisco Lindor for the next few years.

As ESPN's Lee Corso would caution, though, not so fast, my friends, not so fast.

Turns out that the same 8 year old ankle injury that raised red flags with San Francisco has also put the Mets' deal with Correa on hold. Not only that, but Minnesota has decided they're not taking a chance on bringing Correa back. Houston replaced Correa with Jeremy Pena this past season, and got a new star in the bargain.

However, there was never any mention of this ankle injury when Minnesota signed Correa last off-season. Agent Scott Boras Badenov now has to work overtime to try to either close the deal with the Mets, or find another patsy.

If the Mets balk, then Eduardo Escobar would retain the starting job at 3rd going into spring training. The Mets will be fine.
Proving that there is a way to be a Scrooge after Christmas, the NFL decreed that video footage from Sunday's "Nickmas" telecast on Nickelodeon cannot be used on blogs like this or Saturday Morning Archives.

Anyway, the Nick telecast is getting some attention for using a CGI version of Patrick Star, the bestie of SpongeBob SquarePants, to contribute some commentary from Bikini Bottom during the broadcast. Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke, ex-Coach, Gargoyles) roasted Denver QB Russell Wilson after he threw two interceptions in the 1st quarter. The defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams, already eliminated from the playoffs, blew away the Broncos, 51-14.
In the wake of that national embarrassment, Denver dismissed coach Nathaniel Hackett with 2 games remaining. Denver is 4-11, and going nowhere. The team released a statement.

And, just like that, the talk will start again about getting Peyton Manning out of the ESPN booth and back in Denver. Just watch.
In the course of a 24 season career in golf, Kathy Whitworth won a record 88 tournaments. She was to the LPGA what Sam Snead was to the men's tour in his day, or, in more recent times, Tiger Woods.

Whitworth passed away Saturday at 83 after collapsing following a friend's Christmas party. The LPGA will likely honor her memory with either a trophy or renaming an existing tournament in her honor.

Rest in peace.
ESPN bloviator Stephen A. Smith is a wrestling fan. We know this from his having WWE personalities like Triple H and the Miz on First Take, where Miz roasted Smith in defense of the Cleveland Cavaliers in a memorable interview.

Now, Smith seems poised to go in over his head and step into WWE.

Smith has started a promo war on social media with veteran manager Paul Heyman, currently advising WWE champion Roman Reigns. The minute Smith shows up on Raw or Smackdown to confront Reigns, Heyman, and the Bloodline, WWE is expecting big ratings. Given Smith's history as being clueless about various subjects outside of basketball, maybe he should consult Pat McAfee before the latter finishes his commitments to College GameDay in 2 weeks and heads back to Smackdown
After seeing brother Logan shine in WWE in limited appearances this year, Jake Paul is making noises about moving to another sport-----football.

Paul, a Cleveland native, signed with the Cleveland Browns prior to the team's home finale Saturday, a loss to New Orleans. The Browns want Paul for his social media skills, not his own dream of playing wide receiver, though the Browns could use his help on the field.

Undefeated as a boxer (6-0), Paul's signing may be little more than a publicity stunt. If he gets trading cards with his name on it on Panini's various NFL brands next year, we'll know he's doing this for real.

Meanwhile, Miz, another Cleveland native, may be wishing he'd thought of the same thing. Michael Mizanin was a running back in high school a lifetime ago. Paul is younger, of course, but we'll know by summer if he's serious about playing.

'Tis The Season to be Silly: Guardians of The Galaxy Holiday Special (2022)

 If you believe James Gunn (and DC fans don't trust him right now), Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) was led to believe that Kevin Bacon saved the world, not just the dancing rights of an entire town, nearly 40 years ago in "Footloose".

Because of this, Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis decide to bring Bacon on a space trip to meet Quill. Such is the screwball plot to Gunn's latest "Guardians of The Galaxy" opus, a Holiday Special for Disney+ that will warm up fans for "Guardians 3", due in 2023, as Gunn's coda to Marvel, now that he's an executive working on DC movies for Warner Bros. Discovery.

Gunn's bizarro ideas have taken both Mantis and Drax away from their comics roots, right along with the other Guardians. At least Drax learns about the present day tradition of ugly sweaters.....!

Check the trailer:

Bacon & the Old 97's are the musical guests, as Quill learns a hard lesson how Earth customs are translated in deep space. The episode is bracketed with some line animation.

Rating: A-.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Countdown to Christmas: Merry, Merry Christmas (2019)

 To today's viewers, Keb' Mo' (Kevin Moore) composed some music for Mike & Molly, and co-wrote the theme to Chuck Lorre's current series, B Positive, both for CBS. However, Keb' Mo' has been around way longer than that. Ye scribe was introduced to Keb' Mo's brand of blues in the 90's, and his career extends back to the early 70's or earlier.

"Merry, Merry Christmas", a Koko Taylor cover, was released in 2019. Can't think of a better way to segue to Christmas Day.....

Merry Christmas, indeed. We'll see you Monday.

Countdown to Christmas: A Carol For Another Christmas (1964)

 Imagine, if you will, a man, grieving for two decades after his son died in World War II, and so resistant to the then-present, such that certain spirits have come to change his mind.

Produced for the United Nations and airing initially on ABC, A Carol For Another Christmas had only one broadcast until it was picked up by Turner Classic Movies several years later, where it airs every year. This modern spin on the oft-adapted Dickens classic sprang from the pen of Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone), recasting Ebenezer Scrooge as a grieving parent named Daniel Grudge (Sterling Hayden), who is still mourning the loss of his son 20 Christmases past. Second generation actor Peter Fonda had originally been cast as Marley Grudge, but most, if not all, of his scenes were edited out, leaving a portrait Fonda posed for. Grudge's nephew, Fred (Ben Gazzara, ex-Arrest & Trial, and 9 months away from Run For Your Life), is a college professor who has had a foreign cultural exchange program with Poland cancelled thanks to his uncle.

Steve Lawrence, Pat Hingle, Eva Marie Saint, Percy Rodrigues, James Shigeta, Peter Sellers, and Britt Eklund co-star.

Reviews upon release were mixed, and largely because of the perception that this was too depressing for viewers. The fact that it took 48 years before TCM picked up Carol should tell you something. This was producer-director Joseph Mankiewicz's TV debut, and he fared much better after this.

No rating. Just a public service.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Wasting time in the desert: Kari Lake's lawsuit goes nowhere

 First, a judge threw out eight of the ten claims of election fraud alleged by defeated Arizona GOP nominee for Governor, Kari "Empty" Lake, allowing the remaining two to be brought to trial over the last two days.

To the surprise of no one, of course, Lake's lawsuit was a non-starter, as her legal beagles couldn't produce any legitimate evidence to support her claims, and were smacked down by the judge.

Game over, Kari. You lost. Get over yourself. Your political career is over before it starts. Please pick up the white courtesy phone.

And as for her ambulance chasers, we have this, as we imagine Kari berating them thus:

Next stop for Kari? Well, as a localized TV anchor, her career is over. Nationally? Newsnacks and Fox No-News are interested. We think.......

Countdown to Christmas: Little Toy Trains (1967-2015)

 Ever since Natalie Cole, with the aid of modern technology, recorded a "duet" with her father, Nat King Cole, remaking "Unforgettable", there have been other "duets", using the same technology of using an original vocal track with new vocals by a "duet partner". Hank Williams, Jr. followed Cole's lead by fusing together a duet with his father, Hank, Sr., on "Tear in My Beer".

We've seen it in Christmas songs, too. One such example enables another 2nd generation singer, Dean Miller, son of Roger Miller, to remake one of his dad's ballads, "Little Toy Trains", into a duet. Roger originally wrote & recorded "Trains" in 1967. 48 years later, Dean, who was established on the country charts himself, paid tribute to his dad.

No video was produced, so we have to go with the audio that's available. I think you'll love it.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Countdown to Christmas: Family Feud's 1st Christmas (1976)

 Family Feud had been on the air just a few months as it marked its 1st Christmas. The MatchGameProductions channel on YouTube serves up a pair of episodes that were 1st broadcast on December 23rd & 24th, 1976. No mistletoe in sight.

Rating: A.

Notes from around town

 Walking up Congress Street this morning to catch the bus for work, I happened to notice that Calypso Restaurant, just weeks after hosting the Troy Foundry Theatre, has cut its schedule to 5 days a week, Tuesday-Saturday, 12-9. The eatery has been closed on Sundays & holidays from the jump, and now is also closed on Mondays, due likely to a quick decline in business. Advertising might help in the long term. Just sayin'.
Across the street, Jimmy's Lunch is officially out of business.

We reported over the summer that the long running eatery had put up the for sale sign, and now the windows are covered in newspaper. That means the joint is done for good, and/or someone else will take over the space in due course. Like the long defunct J & L Diner on 6th & Ingalls Avenues, Jimmy's was serving only breakfast & lunch. If Calypso bombs out in its current home, what's stopping them from moving across the street to a relatively smaller, but more reasonable space?
Stacks' Espresso Bar, a Lark Street hangout for coffee lovers, is opening in Troy in 2023 in the former home of Spillin' The Beans on 3rd Street. No date has been set for the opening. It'll give Atrium owner David Bryce someplace to hang out before work, as Spillin' was a regular stop for him. Now, if he could just figure out how to refill the Atrium, and make it more attractive instead of tearing it down, as he'd previously planned......
Teacher. Pizza guru. Now an award winning author of children's books.

Rocco DeFazio, whose pizzeria and pizza goods shop on 4th Street has been the bridge to the Little Italy section linking downtown to South Troy, published his first book, A Shepherd's Tale, which won a literary prize, per a profile on Spectrum News 1 this morning.

File photo courtesy WAMC-FM.

DeFazio, a former 8th grade teacher at what is now Troy Middle School, has been a frequent guest on WAMC in recent years, and has been the organizer for the annual stickball tournaments in Little Italy. Something tells me the dude is going to get some write-in votes in next year's Mayor's race, as current Mayor Patrick Madden is stepping down after 2 terms, per the city charter.
Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin announced the other day he was diagnosed with cancer. How far it is, we don't know. To me, it's a form of karma after he screwed his own party out of City Hall three years ago by betraying Tom Reale in favor of Rodney Wiltshire. All that did was gift wrap a 2nd & final term for Madden. I can think of a few people that could take his place..........

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

In New York, the back pages belong to the Mets. For now

 Jacob deGrom signs with Texas. The Mets answer by getting Justin Verlander (Houston).

Taijuan Walker signs with Philadelphia. The Mets answer with Jose Quintana (St. Louis).

The Mets win the Kodai Senga sweepstakes, signing the Japanese right-hander to a 5 year deal, solidifying the rotation. Adding Senga, Verlander, & Quintana to a rotation with Max Scherzer & Carlos Carrasco? Scary, although reports are that the Mets are shopping Carrasco.

The Mets also welcomed back relievers Adam Ottavino, Sean Reid-Foley and Tommy Hunter, added Brooks Raley (Tampa Bay) & David Robertson (Philadelphia), adding Robertson to the list of players who have appeared for both the Mets & Yankees. Reid-Foley missed most of 2022 with injuries. However, they lost Seth Lugo (San Diego), Yoan Lopez (Japan), and Adonis Medina (Korea)

Outfielder Brandon Nimmo will stay in New York, with Abraham Almonte added for insurance. Jose Peraza is back for a 2nd tour of duty with the Mets. And, then, the icing on the cake.....

After the Yankees snagged pitcher Carlos Rodon (San Francisco), the Mets swooped in and snatched shortstop Carlos Correa, who will convert to 3rd base, playing alongside Francisco Lindor. That means Eduardo Escobar will DH and backup Correa. Brett Baty can play the outfield, so he's an option there. Catcher Omar Narvaez came over from Milwaukee, and suddenly, James McCann is expendable. Correa's deal with San Francisco died due to concerns over an old injury from years past.

This would be the general reaction of Mets fans...

There is cause for caution, of course. Bryce Harper and the Phillies reached the World Series, only to lose to Houston. Harper, four years into a 13 year contract, still hasn't won his championship, while his former club, Washington won in his 1st year in Philly. You can construct the super teams anywhere, in any sport, but it doesn't always add up to a championship. It's been 36 years and counting since the last World Series title in Flushing. Steve Cohen is working to change that. If they win within the next, say, 2-3 years, they'll nominate him for sainthood. We'll see.

Classic TV: NFL Game of The Week (1965)

The National Football League (NFL) saw an opportunity to grow its audience with a syndicated series that featured its Game of The Week in a tidy 30 minute package. The series ran for 38 seasons in syndication until moving to the then-nascent NFL Network in 2003. Ion picked up the show for its final season in 2007.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary this Saturday of one of the most improbable plays in league history, we're looking back to 1972 and "The Immaculate Reception". Ray Scott is the narrator. This is taken from a replay on ESPN Classic.

Raiders QB Daryle Lamonica passed away earlier this year, and earlier this week, we lost Pittsburgh RB Franco Harris. This is dedicated in their memories. No rating out of respect.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Countdown to Christmas: Humbug Not to be Spoken Here (Bewitched, 1967)

 From season 4 of Bewitched:

The series offers a modern day take on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, with Scrooge embodied by a prospective client of McMann & Tate, a Mr. Mortimer (Charles Lane, Petticoat Junction). Character actor Don Beddoe appears as Santa, in place of Cecil Kellaway, who essayed the part in Season 1.

No rating. Just a public service.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Classic TV: Evening at Pops (1970)

 When I was in high school, my brother was into classical music, Broadway shows, jazz, et al. I was into pop, rock, & gospel. My folks were into country, and never gave much thought to what was a PBS tradition on Sunday nights. Evening at Pops.

PBS launched the series in 1970, coupled with what was then known as Masterpiece Theatre (now simply, Masterpiece), with Arthur Fiedler directing the Boston Pops. Only two others succeeded Fiedler as the full-time conductor, Oscar winner John Williams, who was returning to television after scoring series such as Kraft Suspense Theater, Lost in Space, and The Time Tunnel in the 60's, and Keith Lockhart. The series ended in 2004 when it became too expensive to keep on the air. Unfortunately, as well, PBS keeps the show in the vaults when it could be available for streaming.

Pops brought in plenty of guests from different musical genres during its run, Broadway included. John McGlinn fills in for Williams in this 1993 entry, with guest host Kitty Carlisle Hart (ex-To Tell The Truth), for whom a theatre at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center is named.

Rating: A.

Countdown to Christmas: WKRP does Dickens (1980)

 By that, of course, we mean an adaptation of Charles Dickens' oft-adapted and parodied A Christmas Carol. In this case, Scrooge takes on the form of station manager Arthur Carlson (Gordon Jump) when he decides to be stingy come bonus time. Parley Baer (ex-The Andy Griffith Show) and Don Diamond (ex-F-Troop) guest star.

No rating. Just a public service.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Countdown to Christmas: Mary & Her Lambs (Benson, 1982)

 We've had this one up before, but it was taken down. Another copy is privatized and can't be used. Here, though, is a near complete episode of Benson from season 3.

Benson (Robert Guillaume) and the gang step in to help a housekeeper and some orphans. The episode wraps with the cast gathering at the piano for some caroling, with Denise (Didi Conn) at the piano. The capper is Benson's powerful rendition of "O Holy Night".

Other copies have the closing tag, in which the cast steps out of character for holiday greetings, edited off instead.

Rating: A.

Countdown to Christmas: The Christmas Story (Dragnet, 1967)

 From Season 2 of Dragnet's 2nd run:

Jack Webb brings back a holiday classic. "The Christmas Story" is a remake of "The Big Little Jesus", which previously aired on radio and during the 1st TV run. Actor-musician Bobby Troup (later of Emergency!) and a pre-Brady Bunch Barry Williams are among the guests. While the opening graphic comes from season 2, the closing graphics come from season 3, complete with Frank Comstock's kickin' score, replacing Lyn Murray's theme score.

In summation of the plot: A Nativity display in a LA church, or more specifically, the baby Jesus figurine, is stolen, so Joe Friday (Webb) & Bill Gannon (Harry Morgan) are called on to solve the case.

Rating: A.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Sports this 'n' that

 Dana White has lost his mind.

The UFC boss is launching a new venture next month that already has him getting roasted.

You've heard of slapstick comedy? You've seen wrestlers and MMA fighters slapping each other. Some wise guy on YouTube wanted to give actor-rapper Will Smith credit after the now-infamous slap of Chris Rock at the Oscars earlier this year. Actually, if you want to do that, I'd go all the way back to the Three Stooges and other masters of slapstick comedy.

The Power Slap League is a 2 month competition series set to debut next month on TBS, airing in back of AEW Dynamite on Wednesday nights. Following is a primer on the project.

What White is hoping to do is piggyback on AEW and pick up some of their audience. There are separate division for men & women, weight classes, et al. I don't think so. I think White loses AEW's audience within 10 minutes of the opener.

Just sayin'.
The Minnesota Vikings wrapped up the NFC North earlier today with a bonkers comeback from a 33-0 halftime deficit against visiting Indianapolis. Greg Joseph kicked the game winning field goal on the last play of overtime after the Vikings had come all the way back, and tied the game at 36 at the end of regulation. It goes into the record books as the biggest comeback in league history, and gives Minnesota their first division title in 5 years.
On Smackdown last night, Damage CTRL (represented by IYO SKY & Dakota Kai) defended the women's tag titles vs. Liv Morgan & Tegan Nox. Near the end of the match, a woman in a hoodie attacked Nox, leading to SKY pinning Nox to retain. We'd later learn that China's Xia Li was the attacker, setting up a program with Nox.

What is amusing about all this is that there were some dimbulbs on social media who hoped or thought that former NXT women's champion Mandy Rose, fired two days earlier, made a sudden return, thinking the firing wasn't real. Wrong! Li has been starving for some match action as she's been "left on the bench" the last few months after her initial heel turn, and now has an opportunity. That's all it really is.
We mentioned this over at Tri-City SportsBeat earlier, and it bears repeating here.

Former Siena men's basketball coach Louis Orr passed away earlier this week at 64. Orr, a Syracuse product, played his pro ball with the Knicks, among others, before beginning his coaching career in Loudonville with the Saints before going on to Seton Hall and Bowling Green. More recently, he served as an assistant to former teammate Patrick Ewing, now the head man at Georgetown.
The Yankees added another ace pitcher in signing free agent Carlos Rodon (San Francisco) to a 6 year deal. Conversely, outfielder Andrew Benintendi was a summer rental, and heads back to the AL Central after signing a 5 year pact with the Chicago White Sox.

Countdown to Christmas: Father Christmas (Archie Bunker's Place, 1982)

 From season 4 of Archie Bunker's Place:

Archie's brother, Fred (Richard McKenzie), is coming for a visit. You see, he had essentially abandoned his daughter, Billie (Denise Miller, ex-Fish), who ultimately moved in with Archie (Carroll O'Connor) and his adopted daughter, Stephanie (Danielle Brisebois). Archie is trying to keep it a secret from Billie, to surprise her for Christmas. Good luck with that.

Meanwhile, Barney Helfer (Allan Melvin) dresses up at Santa at the bar. 

Courtesy of Norman Lear's YouTube channel.

Rating: A-.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Countdown to Christmas: Little Drummer Boy (1959)

 The most famous recording of "Little Drummer Boy" was made by the Harry Simeone Chorale. The group appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1959 to perform this holiday classic.

Eight years later, as we all know, the song was adapted into a Christmas special for NBC. That same year, Jose Feliciano recorded a bilingual cover on his Christmas album. When the title song from said album, "Feliz Navidad", was reissued 20 years later, "Drummer" was the B-side on cassette singles & CD-singles.

$99 for a digital card? The World's Greatest Grifter is at it again

 Every now and again, under Vince McMahon, the WWE would tease a "major announcement", only to under-deliver. In other words, they'd have you think something big was brewing, but in the end, it was not even close. That hasn't happened since McMahon retired in July.

Earlier this week, Donald Trump teased a "major announcement" on Truth Social, and had people thinking he would either add a running mate for 2024, or withdraw from the race, or something along those lines.

He could've even announced he was divorcing Melania in favor of Marjorie Taylor Greene.


Instead, Trump decided on his latest grift. The "major announcement" was the introduction of digital trading cards.............of himself. That ugly mug, photoshopped on several different pictures. $99 per card. These NFT's (Non-fungible tokens for the uninitiated) are just for the sake of Trump's wounded ego.

I'll let Brian Tyler Cohen break it down:

While other Republicans can afford these lame cards, the marks in Trump's base can't, but they'll happily take a chance, blind to the fact that Trump is ripping them off again. As Brian points out, the Archduke of Affluenza pockets the money himself, as if he hadn't been doing that all along via his political action committees.

As a long time sports card collector, I'm insulted by this latest scam. Topps, Panini, et al, could sell NFT's for way less than what Fraud Fauntleroy is charging, but, as Brian notes, NFT's are a dying trend.

This is too easy. Trump adds to his collection of Weasel ears for his shameless grift.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Countdown to Christmas: It's OK to be a Kid at Christmas (1979)

 50's teen idol Pat Boone had matured into a family man by the end of the 70's. Daughter Debby scored her only #1 hit with "You Light Up My Life" on the Hot 100. If she had any more chart-toppers, they were likely on the gospel charts.

ABC took a chance and had Pat, Debby, and the rest of the family headline a Christmas special in 1979, joined by the Hudson Brothers, Gavin McLeod (The Love Boat) with wife Patti, Tom Bosley (Happy Days, That's Hollywood!), Norman Fell & Audra Lindley in character as The Ropers, and costumed dancers dressed as Hanna-Barbera's Scooby-Doo, Dynomutt, Snagglepuss, Huckleberry Hound, Fred Flintstone & Barney Rubble, & Hong Kong Phooey.

The complete show is available for streaming on Tubi. For now, we have the opening number, "It's OK to be a Kid at Christmas". Pat's already showing signs of losing his boyish good looks. Dick Tufeld is the announcer.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Rockin' Funnies: Another One Rides The Bus (1981)

 "Weird" Al Yankovic had already gained fame on Dr. Demento's radio show with his parody of the Knack's "My Sharona", entitled, "My Bologna". 2 years later, having graduated from college, Al landed on Tom Snyder's Tomorrow to perform "Another One Rides The Bus", a satire of "Another One Bites The Dust", which was a hit for Queen off 1980's "The Game". Drummer Jon Schwartz is the lone backup here, the beginning of a partnership still going strong 41 years later.

From champion to the unemployment line in less than 24 hours: Mandy Rose cut by WWE

 There is a scene near the end of Barry Levinson's 1987 adaptation of "Good Morning, Vietnam" in which General Taylor (Noble Willingham) informs Adrian Cronauer (Robin Williams) that his friendship with a native Vietnamese revealed to be a VC (Viet Cong) would put the Army at risk, so Cronauer is being discharged. His nemesis, Sgt.-Major Dickerson (J. T. Walsh) isn't safe, as he's transferred to Guam because of his petty, vindictive actions against Cronauer.

This stands out 35 years later because of what we are learning from WWE.

NXT women's champion Mandy Rose (Andrea Saccomanno) was set to defend her title vs. Roxanne Perez, the winner of the women's Iron Survivor Challenge at Deadline, on January 10 in a special "New Year's Evil" episode of NXT's weekly program. An angle at the beginning of last night's broadcast accelerated the timetable, and by the time the show signed off just at 10:05 (ET), Perez had defeated Rose to win the title.

Less than 24 hours later, Rose was released by WWE after some content from her FanTime site had been leaked on Twitter by some fans.

You see, word quickly got around that Rose was selling nude pictures of herself on FanTime. With recent reports that she was engaged to former WWE & AEW wrestler Tino Sabbatelli, one would assume, depending on when she started this venture, that she might've been trying to raise money for the wedding. Another way of looking at it would be that she was living out the gimmick as a self-absorbed, self-serving heel champion as the leader of Toxic Attraction, which was the women's answer to the Bloodline on the main roster in that they dominated NXT's women's division, and never getting punished for blatant rules violations.

I used the "Good Morning, Vietnam" analogy because the feeling is that Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom), who has been in charge of NXT for over a year, was being accused of protecting Toxic Attraction, based on the old television adage that "sex sells". Rose, in this writer's opinion, should've lost the title months ago, but Michaels, and maybe USA Network suits for all we know, didn't see any reason to have Rose do so. Until last night.

So what's next for Andrea Saccomanno? Aside from a wedding, no one really knows, and in the final analysis, she only has herself to blame for her situation being where it is, 11 days before Christmas.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Empty-G invades NY to tell tall tales to the Young Republicans. It doesn't end well

 Welcome to the latest chapter of If Only She Had a Brain: The Saga of Marjorie Taylor Greene.

The Georgia Misrepresentative was in New York over the weekend as a speaker at a NY Young Republicans event that also featured some of the usual dimbulbs of the GOP, including Steve Bannon and the father & son team of Rudy & Andrew Goofiani. Empty-G tried to sell the idea that had she & Bannon organized the riot at the Capitol on 1/6/21, there would've been more weapons than were actually used that day (something Empty-G conveniently forgets), and they'd have "won".

Brian Tyler Cohen offers footage of Empty-G being her usual self. Consider, too, the way she was dressed. I think she was boyfriend-shopping that night, don't you?

Less than 48 hours later, Empty-G was walking back her remarks, trying to pass them off as "sarcasm". As The View's Joy Behar opined earlier today, Empty-G doesn't know what sarcasm means, just like she doesn't know the meaning of, say, communism, socialism, etc., using them instead as fear-mongering buzzwords for her base. The evidence above says she meant what she said, and is trying to deflect because she embarrassed herself yet again.

Oh, and we received a notice from a prominent fellow in Kansas....

"I smartened up once I realized I actually had a brain."

I think if we x-rayed Empty-G, we'd find a moldy peach.

Classic TV: The series premiere of Love, American Style (1969)

 There's a reason we've chosen the series opener of Love, American Style this time. We'll explain later. The lineup in the opener is very eclectic, including Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Flip Wilson (who was a year away from his variety show), Gail Fisher (Mannix), Michael Callan (ex-Occasional Wife), Bob Cummings, and Yvonne Craig (ex-Batman).

Stuart Margolin, brother of co-executive producer/co-creator Arnold Margolin, was part of the repertory company doing blackout sketches, usually partnered with Barbara Minkus. This launched Margolin's career, which skyrocketed with his Emmy Award-winning run on The Rockford Files. This, then, is in memory of Margolin, who passed away at 82.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Sports this 'n' that

 The Mets have said good-bye to 60% of the starting rotation they had at the end of the 2022 season, and wasted little time in filling the holes.

We've previously discussed Jacob deGrom ankling the Mets to go to Texas. Taijuan Walker gained a 2 year deal with Philadelphia. The Mets quickly filled those holes by getting Justin Verlander (Houston) and Jose Quintana (St. Louis).

They won the Kodai Senga sweepstakes, signing the Japanese right-hander to a 5 year deal. He'll replace Chris Bassitt, who spent just 1 season in Flushing, and returns to the American League after agreeing to a 3 year deal with Toronto. Senga, per Wikipedia, will also inherit deGrom's uniform number (#48). 

He thinks the grass is greener north of the border, eh?

Senga joins a rotation that also boasts Quintana, Verlander, and returning starters Max Scherzer and Carlos Carrasco. If Senga is what the Mets think he is and worth the price, they may have the last piece of their puzzle for 2023 and beyond.
The University of Texas suspended men's basketball coach Chris Beard today amid a recent arrest on domestic abuse charges. Beard is suspended without pay until further notice. You'd think some of these guys would get the hint by now. In this era, you're under a microscope on and off the court.
The Atlanta Braves shipped off catcher William Contreras and pitcher Kyle Muller in a 3-team trade with Oakland and Milwaukee today. Muller goes to Oakland, while Contreras will join the Brewers, meaning he'll see brother Willson (St. Louis) more often next season. There are Braves fans, however, who are not too thrilled with the deal. Muller was a key cog in Atlanta's 2021 World Series run, but missed a chunk of 2022 with injuries.
Have the Giants peaked too soon?

Sure seems that way after Big Blue got spanked, 48-22, by Philadelphia on Sunday. The Giants, at 7-5-1, sit in a 3rd place tie with Washington, whom they'll play again this Sunday, and are now out of the NFC East race. The Eagles have clinched a playoff spot, but not the division, as they lead Dallas by 2 games with 4 to play.

Countdown to Christmas: Winter Wonderland (1987)

 Eurythmics (Annie Lennox & Dave Stewart) recorded a version of "Winter Wonderland" for the initial volume of "A Very Special Christmas" in 1987. There are some additional lyrics, and the video is a collection of clips from past Eurythmics videos (i.e. "Here Comes The Rain Again", "Would I Lie to You?").

The very next year, Lennox would team with Al Green to cover Jackie DeShannon's "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" for the "Scrooged" soundtrack, and would then go solo four years later.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

What Might've Been: Domestic Life (1984)

 It'd been a few years since Martin Mull last had a series. In fact, about six years had passed since America 2-Night (nee Fernwood 2-Night) had ended. In the winter of 1984, CBS bought Domestic Life, a sitcom created by Mull, Steve Martin, and writers Ian Praiser & Howard Gerwitz. Mull toplined as news anchor Martin Crane, who'd relocated his family to Seattle.

Unfortunately, the network wasn't sure where the series actually fit on the schedule, and, as often happens with shows they're unsure of, Domestic Life was shuffled around, and cancelled in April of '84, only to return to fill space that summer. Martin was the show's executive producer, and didn't land his own series until the current online hit, Only Murders in The Building, with Martin Short and Selena Gomez.

In "Harold at The Bat", Martin tries to help his son's baseball team. Oh, by the way, the show's theme song, "God Bless The Domestic Life", was co-written by Mull and his wife, Wendy, with Praiser. Mull also sings the theme song.

This was also a rare primetime gig for character actor Robert Ridgely, who plays sports anchor Cliff. Up until then, Ridgely was mostly doing cartoons (i.e. Flash Gordon, Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, Thundarr The Barbarian).

Rating: B.

Countdown to Christmas: The Girl in The Emporium (The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, 1961)

 We had this up before, and then, it was taken down by YouTube. It's back.

"It" is "The Girl in The Emporium", from season 9 of The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, that season's Christmas episode. Rick's going shopping, not just for gifts, but, if he's lucky, a date.....

Rating: B.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas w/The Honeymooners (1955)

 One of the all-time classic holiday episodes comes from The Honeymooners

Alice (Audrey Meadows) and Ralph (Jackie Gleason) are both scrambling to find places to hide each other's gifts on Christmas Eve, instead of leaving them under the tree. Chaos, of course, ensues.

Watch at the end when the cast breaks character to extend Christmas wishes to the audience.

Edit, 3/2/23: Had to change the video. The open has been deleted from this copy.

Never a dull moment.

Rating: A.

Countdown to Christmas: Joe Santa Claus (Gruen Guild Theater, 1951)

 I've been waiting to do this one ever since I bought the DVD collection that included it a few years back.

From Gruen Guild Theater comes "Joe Santa Claus", the tale of an Everyman who becomes a department store Santa, and, as a matter of happenstance, finds out what his young daughter really wants for Christmas.

You don't get these kind of stories on Hallmark or Lifetime without needing to reach for the Kleenex.

Rating: A.

Friday, December 9, 2022

A little of this and a little of that

 On Tuesday, Georgia Senator-Rev. Raphael Warnock earned a full 6 year term in office, beating back the challenge of former football hero Herschel Walker. That gave the Democratic Party a 51-49 edge in the Senate.

That advantage lasted all of 48 hours.

On Thursday, Arizona Senator Kyrsten "Sinister" Sinema decided to leave the Democrats and re-register as an independent. 

Photo courtesy Yahoo!.

While I get she disagrees with President Biden and fellow Democrats on a number of issues, she may have written her political epitaph. Stay tuned.
Right before the GOPers take over the House of Representatives, a House Ethics Committee panel is investigating NYC Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over her attire and ticket to the 2021 Met Gala. Yes, Alex From The Block is being investigated by her own party, not the GOPer idiots, but no matter how you look at it, it's a bag of nothing burgers. The "Tax The Rich" dress? AOC returned it after the Gala. She also scored a free ticket to the Gala. To the Democrats investigating AOC, I only have one question.

Jealous much?
I've often told friends how sometimes oddsmakers are morons who set weekly odds so far in advance that they can't be bothered to update their information.

Case in point: Sunday's rematch between the Buffalo Bills and the Jets.

As of Wednesday, the Bills were a 9 1/2 point favorite, despite the fact that Gang Green upset Buffalo last month. The oddsmakers assumed that the Jets would be, as usual, the Jests, the joke of the suddenly potent AFC East, all the way back at the start of the season, and set each week's lines accordingly. Five weeks ago, the Jets were a double digit dog, and won straight up. Not to say the same thing will happen again on Sunday, but this season is not normal, and stranger things have happened.
Lost amidst the news that Xander Bogaerts is leaving the Boston Red Sox for San Diego are two things.

1. Bogaerts' departure allows Trevor Story, a free agent pickup from Colorado last off-season, to return to his natural position at shortstop after playing 2nd base last season.

2. On the Padres' side, a clear message is being sent to problem child Fernando Tatis, Jr., who will finish an 80 game suspension to start the 2023 season. Tatis was supposed to be their shortstop of the future, forming a lethal offensive combo on the left side of the infield with Manny Machado. Tatis, whose father was an outfielder with Montreal and the Mets, among others, could wind up with an outfielder's glove when he returns. Unless the Padres dump him first.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas with the Showoffs (1975)

 Showoffs had the misfortune of airing at noon (ET) during its all-too-short run on ABC. Some might wonder if the show is cursed. Larry Blyden (ex-What's My Line?) had been tapped to host, but died in a car crash while on vacation. Bobby Van, who landed the gig, passed away after having recorded the lone season of Make Me Laugh four years later.

A Christmas episode surfaced on Buzzr a year ago, with Vicki Lawrence (The Carol Burnett Show), Greg Morris, fresh from Mission: Impossible, which ended its 1st run a year earlier, Tina Cole (ex-My Three Sons, The King Family Show), & Robert Urich (S.W.A.T.).

No rating. Just a public service.

Dunce Cap Award: Gee, care to take a guess?

 By now, you know that WNBA star Brittney Griner is on her way home from Russia, swapped for a Russian arms dealer. There are still other prisoners in Russian jails, but the officials there decided that only Griner would be sent home.

Naturally, this sends the GOP into a frenzy. They know President Biden was left with little choice but to agree to the conditions to bring Griner home instead of someone like Paul Whelan, who's been waiting longer to be released. But, they don't care. 

Not surprisingly, of course, Empty-G (Marjorie Taylor Greene) is calling for Biden to be impeached because of how the deal was constructed. Of course, she doesn't really understand the concept of impeachment, nor does she care to. It's just a buzzword for her base, far as Empty-G is concerned.

Would someone buy her a thesaurus, a dictionary, and a clue? In that order.

Remember, this is the same dimbulb who has promised to file for impeachment of Biden every week once the new Congress is sworn in on January 3. That, of course, is because the false prophet of the GOP, Donald John Judas Trump, was impeached twice. Doesn't matter that he wasn't convicted, and, of course, Biden won't be convicted, either.

Like Trump, Empty-G is making news just for the sake of doing so. Naturally, she gets another Dunce Cap, because of her inability to comprehend the meaning of impeachment.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Baseball this 'n' that

 Yankee fans can breathe easier. Aaron Judge likely will finish his career in pinstripes.

This morning, Judge, the AL HR champ, re-upped with the Bombers for 9 years and upwards of $300 million, making him the centerpiece of the franchise into the next decade.

Photo courtesy Yahoo!.

The Yankees outbid San Diego & San Francisco in particular to keep Judge, but other teams have been busy, too.

The Mets said good-bye to Taijuan Walker, who moves to division rival Philadelphia on a 4 year, $72 million deal. Walker had two solid years in Flushing, despite fading down the stretch each year, something the Phillies have to watch out for, now that they have three ex-Mets (Noah Syndergaard & Zack Wheeler being the others) in their rotation. Philadelphia also added reliever Matt Strahm (Boston) earlier today.

This comes after the Phils brought shortstop Trea Turner back into the NL East after spending the last 1 1/2 seasons with the Dodgers, who acquired him from Washington at the 2021 trade deadline.

While San Francisco didn't land Judge, the Giants did acquire Mitch Haniger (Seattle). The Yankees lost starter Jameson Taillon, who returns to the NL Central with the Chicago Cubs. Boston filled the bullpen hole created by Strahm's departure by picking up closer Kenley Jansen (Atlanta).

Meanwhile, AL Central champ Cleveland bolstered its offense by bagging 1B/DH Josh Bell (San Diego/Washington). A week ago, Philadelphia lost starter Zach Eflin, who moved to the bullpen during the playoffs, to Tampa Bay, necessitating the signing of Walker.

In other Mets news, the team has reached a deal with pitcher Jose Quintana (St. Louis) for 2 years and $26 million. The Mets have also brought back reliever Sean Reid-Foley, who missed most of the 2022 season due to injury. However, they could end up losing Seth Lugo, who is being looked at as a starter by Kansas City.

The Cubs also secured 1B/OF Cody Bellinger (Dodgers) to strengthen their offense.

Now you know why they refer to the postseason as the Hot Stove League.

When Icons Meet: Forrest Tucker & Dick Butkus on Matt Houston (1982)

 From season 1 of Matt Houston:

NFL Hall of Famer Dick Butkus got back on the gridiron in this outing, part of an ensemble that includes Forrest Tucker as the coach, and NBA icon Chick Hearn calling the action. Hearn was the go-to when they wanted to set an episode of a show at either a basketball or football game.

Anyway, Houston (Lee Horsley, ex-Nero Wolfe) steps in when a former college teammate of his (John Beck) is being blackmailed after the death of the team owner.

Paul Brinegar (ex-Rawhide) was written out of the show before the end of the 1st season, but gets significant screen time here.

This helped Butkus graduate from those Miller Lite commercials and to other acting ventures, including Blue Thunder (the TV version) and Hang Time.

No rating. Just a public service.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Musical Interlude: Something to Believe In (1990)

 "Something to Believe In" was the 2nd single from Poison's 1990 CD, "Flesh & Blood". Bret Michaels riffs on Jim Bakker, and recalls a security guard, James Kimo Maano, who'd passed away some time earlier. Footage of Maano was inserted into the video, making this one of Michaels' most personal songs.

Monday, December 5, 2022

Victorian Stroll 2022, and a meeting with old classmates

 Time to get personal.

I've never really been one to toot my own horn, but Sunday's Victorian Stroll affords me the opportunity to do just that.

See, the plan was, I would be in a party of four, the other three being classmates from Troy High, class of 1981.  However, half the group was unavailable due to other commitments.

I'm in the center of this picture. On the left is Claire Hughes, formerly of the Albany Times-Union & Albany Business Review (formerly the Capital District Business Review). On the right is Ornella Quinn (nee Russomanno), who was our Homecoming Queen. Today, she's happily married with two sons, and otherwise lives & works in Massachusetts. Claire was raised in South Troy, Ornella in Sycaway, and moi? My folks started on the Troy-Lansingburgh border, 2nd Avenue side, then North Central, to my current HQ in downtown. The three of us studied journalism together at THS.

Ornella & I caught up with Claire at Artcentric, where the picture was taken.

Earlier, Ornella & I checked out some carolers at St. Paul's Church on 3rd Street. The original plan was for the chime concert at St. John's, further out on 1st Street, and----my bad---I had the two events mixed up.

St. Paul's is one of Troy's oldest churches, and its Tiffany stained glass windows are an attraction for tourists. To wit:

After St. Paul's, it was on to do some shopping, before reaching the Arts Center of The Capital Region, and Dinner With Will, which we discussed yesterday. Then, Artcentric was next.

Like, we packed a lot of stuff into nearly four hours. The encore should be next year.

Sports this 'n' that

 The College Football Playoff is set for New Year's Eve.

Top ranked Georgia will host #4 Ohio State in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, while #2 Michigan will play #3 Texas Christian in the Fiesta Bowl, the first half of the doubleheader airing on ESPN. The winners then play for the National title on January 10 at So-Fi Stadium, home of the NFL's Rams & Chargers, in Inglewood, California.

For the committee, the worst case scenario might be a rematch of Michigan & Ohio State. The Wolverines won at Columbus on November 26, beating their arch-rivals for the 2nd straight year.
When Baker Mayfield left Cleveland, traded to the Carolina Panthers, his endorsement deal with Progressive Insurance ended. His career might be next.

The Panthers parted with Mayfield after an injury riddled three months which saw him lose his starting job twice, first to PJ Walker, the former XFL prodigy who is currently out with an injury, then to ex-Jet Sam Darnold, who split time at QB with Walker last year. There are a few teams that would take a flier on Mayfield, but those teams are all unlikely to make the playoffs. Stay tuned.
Just days after 2-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom packed his bags for Arlington and the Texas Rangers, the Mets have reached a deal with another Cy Young winner.

Justin Verlander leaves the World Champion Houston Astros for the Mets, with a contract that will be 2 years and $86 million, with a vesting option for a 3rd year. This would reunite Verlander with Max Scherzer, as the two were teammates previously in Detroit.

Of course, what will really get the tabloids' attention is if Verlander's wife, model Kate Upton, shows up for some of her husband's starts, if not all, at Citi Field, plus some road games.

Your move, Houston.
Deion Sanders is taking his "Coach Prime" act to Mile High Country.

Sanders announced over the weekend that he was leaving Jackson State for Colorado. Just watch. ESPN's College GameDay will make a point of going to the University of Colorado next season, and, as they did when they went to Jackson State, bring along national nuisance Stephen A. Smith. Maybe Sanders can do us all a favor, and hire Smith as his press flack (Sports Information Director). That way, ESPN's less embarrassed.
Yes, the US was eliminated from the World Cup after losing to the Netherlands, 3-1, on Saturday, but there's no national crisis.

That might be because soccer is still not considered one of the top pro sports in this country. Most folks would rather be watching football, basketball, baseball, hockey, golf, & tennis, in that order, before watching soccer, despite the success of Major League Soccer. I think even NASCAR ranks ahead of soccer, depending on who you talk to.

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Terminate the Constitution?!?!

 Desperation creates the craziest, most delusional ideas.

Former president Donald John Fauntleroy Trump, eternal man-child, spewed some more venom on Truth Social Saturday, demanding that the existing Constitution be abolished, just because he lost his bid for re-election two years ago.

A lifetime of artificial entitlement and affluenza has come to this. Trump has gone out of his way to try to somehow regain the White House despite his loss two years ago, and is grasping at straws now. The Constitution is part of the fabric of not only our government, but our country, but you can't make a self-serving man-baby understand that.

Trump has already announced his intention to run again in 2024, but that contradicts his persistent attempts to reverse the result of the 2020 election. You can't have it both ways.

"WAAAAAHHHHHHHHH! Edit or delete the Constitution! WWAAHHHHHH!!"

By this time in 2024, he'll be in either prison or a psychiatric hospital.

On Stage: Dinner With Will (2022)

 Will, of course, is William Shakespeare, and while the Bard himself doesn't appear, the Blue Horse Repertory Company, based in Albany, collected the funniest bits from 11 of his plays to create Dinner With Will, presented today at the Arts Center For The Capital Region as part of the 40th anniversary Victorian Stroll.

The hour long production begins with Romeo & Juliet, served as hors d'oeuvres. Cast members will cheekily let the audience know which play is being excerpted as the show progresses. Some were performed with modern interpretations of the script, while others used the "thee"'s & "thou"'s of Shakespeare's time. These days, the only places you'd find that would be in the King James translation of the Bible and old Mighty Thor comic books.

Digression over. You know you have something when a scene from The Merry Wives of Windsor turns into a round of the inner city insult game, the dozens, which entered the pop culture lexicon thanks to In Living Color and Benson years ago. This got the biggest laughs of the afternoon. Pity the poor jugglers (Susan Carmody & Amber Acosta) who were mercilessly booed by the rest of the troupe sitting behind them, waiting for the next act.

The standing room only crowd appreciated every minute of this production, and director Lora Lee Ecobelli has promised to return next year. She's already created a tough act to follow.

Rating: A.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

What Might've Been: The Waverly Wonders (1978)

 While in the NFL  with the Jets & Rams, Joe Namath moonlighted as an actor, having appeared in at least one film, "CC & Company", and had his own talk show for a season (previously reviewed).

So why in the blue hizell did he end up in a sitcom as a basketball coach?

Some genius at Lorimar, the folks behind The Waltons & Dallas, convinced Fred Silverman at NBC that Namath would be perfect as a former player turned coach-teacher. Unfortunately, The Waverly Wonders lasted just a month in 1978. Poor ratings, coupled with killer competition (Wonder Woman, Donny & Marie), did in the Wonders.

Nine years earlier, now-disgraced comedian and Emmy winner Bill Cosby was cast as a gym teacher in a self-titled sitcom, and got two seasons, before transitioning to The Electric Company and Fat Albert, plus a short-lived variety hour, the latter two series for CBS. Did NBC think they'd catch lightning in a bottle again with Namath?

To even suggest that The Waverly Wonders fell somewhere in between, say, The Bill Cosby Show and, for another example, because of the classroom aspect, Our Miss Brooks or Welcome Back, Kotter, would actually sell all of those shows short. It was Namath and a cast of unknowns, and viewers voted with their remotes.

In my memory, my folks were either into Wonder Woman, cable movies, or what few baseball games were still available during the season with the Yankees, Mets, & Red Sox. To that end, there's no rating, and we'll leave you with this short clip:

Sports this 'n' that

 In less than 24 hours, the College Football Playoff field has taken a pair of major hits.

First, #4 Southern California lost the Pac-12 title to Utah, to the tune of 47-24, a bitter end to Lincoln Riley's 1st season at USC after leaving Oklahoma.

Earlier this afternoon, TCU's chances to a big hit with a 31-28 overtime loss to Kansas State, which won the Big 12 title for the first time in a decade. While the usual pundits still have TCU at #3 at the moment, that may not last, depending on what happens as today's games continue. Ohio State, currently #5, would almost certainly move up if they win the Big 10 title later tonight. Georgia is cruising to the SEC title, leading LSU, 35-10, at the start of the 2nd half.

#6 Alabama would stand to gain if both TCU & USC are removed from the field, and then, the complaints would start again about the Crimson Tide's favored nation status.
Jesse "Eye" Winker is on the move again.

Traded from Cincinnati to Seattle one year ago, Winker is headed back to the NL Central, as the Mariners traded him and Abraham Toro to Milwaukee for infielder Kolten Wong earlier today. Wong wound up in Craig Counsell's doghouse after he lost his starting job at 2nd base this past season, and no one's really sure why Winker's bags were packed again for the 2nd straight off-season.
The Texas Rangers love taking risks, but getting little in return.

Despite splashy free agent moves the last couple of seasons, the Rangers have not been able to make the playoffs.

Now, they think 2-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom is the answer.

DeGrom leaves the Mets for Texas after signing a 5 year contract with an option for a 6th, netting him $185 million, or, an average of $37 million per season. With Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker as free agents, the Mets only have Max Scherzer & Carlos Carrasco under contract for next season, and are hopeful of bringing back Bassitt & Walker, despite the latter's late season fade-outs the last two seasons. DeGrom & Scherzer were supposed to be a formidable 1-2 punch at the front of the Met rotation, but deGrom didn't see the mound until August due to injury, and it's his recent injury history that calls into question the decision made by Ranger management to take a flier on him. 

Of course, with every team playing each other at least one series a year starting in 2023, deGrom will see his former mates at least once a year, and unlike Noah Syndergaard in Philadelphia, won't shy away, unless another injury gets in the way.

In other Met news, the team signed journeyman reliever Jimmy Yacabonis to a minor league deal. Yacabonis has pitched for Miami, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, & Seattle in the course of his career. Of course, the caveat emptor sign has to be put up here, as the Mets previously signed reliever AJ Ramos, whose career flamed out due to injury, and Jordan Yamamoto, who spent last season in the minors after injuries cut short his 2021 season. In short, one wonders if the Marlins haven't done enough fleecing.
Speaking of the cheapskate Marlins, former manager Don Mattingly has signed on as a bench coach in Toronto, working with manager John Schneider. Not that it would help the Blue Jays overmuch.

When GOPers bring the stupid: Now they want to investigate their own donors for being "woke"

 It just never ends with the Republican Party.

Once the GOPers take control of the House of Representatives in January, they intend to make with a bunch of frivolous investigations, including their own corporate donors, because those donors, in the warped ideology of the GOPers, are "woke". Of course, GOPers don't know the definition of "woke" in its popular context. Presumptive incoming Speaker Kevin "The Body Snatcher" McCarthy has already promised Empty-G that she could have and do whatever she wanted after she was booted from committee assignments last year. Many say that Ms. Moldy Peaches may be the real power behind the Speaker's office if McCarthy lands the gig. Ugh.

Farron Cousins explains:

McCarthy, Empty-G, and the rest of the GOPers are stupid enough to think they'd throw away corporate money just to fit a mythical agenda created for them by former president Citizen Pampers (which is why Trump is in the screencap). As I noted, I don't think they know what "woke" really means in today's context. Their loss.

Friday, December 2, 2022

Names making news

 Well, that didn't take long.

Twitter CEO Elon Musk has his first crisis since acquiring the social media platform, and, despite his own stated preference for championing free speech, the South African native has put rapper-fashion mogul Ye (Kanye West) back on the suspended list after Ye posted an image merging a Nazi swastika with the Jewish Star of David.

He needs to get back to his meds.

Ye, who has acknowledged he has bi-polar disorder, didn't exactly help his cause by appearing on Alex Jones' InfoWimps show the other day alongside Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes, who apparently is Ye's new best friend, since the two showed up at Mar-a-Lame-o a few nights earlier and broke bread with Donald Trump, who has since turned on Ye.

To be fair, Trump is also taking heat for not denouncing the anti-semitic rants of Ye & Fuentes, but, then again, what did you expect? Ye appeared on InfoWimps with a ski cap pulled completely over his face like a mask. Like, was he ashamed of showing his face on Jones' channel?
DC Comics fans are not going to like this next item. Maybe.

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has decided to move all DC animated content off HBO Max and struck a deal with Amazon Prime to move the programming there. It's all part of WBD's grand plan to use HBO Max and the CW network to air cheaply produced "reality" programming that also runs on the Discovery family of networks.

In addition, HLN (formerly CNN Headline News) is discontinuing live programming in favor of being an outlet for Discovery network programming as a cost-saving measure. CNN's morning news program will now be simulcast on HLN.

In Zaslav's case, it still is more about profit margins than reading his audience, which ye scribe believes he doesn't care about at all.
The Cochise County Board of Supervisors finally certified the elections in Arizona that took place November 8. Still, Kari "Empty" Lake, defeated in her bid for governor, is planning to file a lawsuit next week challenging the results.

Waste. Of. Time. Lake is using the Trump playbook, ignorant of the fact that these tactics haven't worked at all since the 2020 presidential election. Too much mascara has seeped into her tiny brain to realize she's fighting a battle she can't win at all.
Closer to home, Troy's Victorian Stroll returns to its traditional one day format on Sunday after two "seasons", in which the events were spread out over a 3 week period. The event begins at 11 am, and runs until 5 pm. A list of events can be found on the Stroll website, and were published in the local papers earlier this week.