Monday, November 20, 2017

Sounds of Praise: Take My Hand, Precious Lord (1988)

It is one of the most frequently recorded gospel songs of the 20th (and so far, 21st) century. "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" has been recorded by artists as diverse as Jim Reeves, Mahalia Jackson, Elvis Presley, Engelbert Humperdinck, and ex-Hee Haw regular Lulu Roman. Actress-singer-ordained minister Della Reese never recorded it as a single, but she did perform it live in 1988.........

In memory of Reese, who was called home by the Good Lord Himself today.

A little of this and a little of that

President Manchild (Donald Trump) is at it again, picking a fight for no other reason than to call attention to himself.

The object of the President's ire this time is Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch, who isn't exactly winning votes for comeback player of the year, based on what happened in Mexico City Sunday, prior to the Raiders' loss to New England. Lynch sat for the "Star Spangled Banner", but stood at attention for the Mexican anthem. That, of course, raised a red flag with the Ugly American-in-Chief, who took to Twitter to voice his displeasure with Lynch, demanding that the Raiders and/or the NFL suspend Lynch. Well, if the league isn't suspending anyone for perceived disrespect of the flag and/or our national anthem before this, why start now, just to appease a 70-something, petulant, narcissistic, in-way-over-his-head Chief Executive Officer in charge of stirring racial tensions in the 21st century?

Obviously, Lynch isn't going to be suspended, so President Manchild should keep his mouth shut on the subject and let the players put the focus of the protests back to where it was when this issue started a year ago, as a means of protesting racial injustice and other societal ills.
Meanwhile, Trump is further enabling another media parasite to extend his 15 minutes. You know who I'm talking about.

You'd think the President would find a kindred spirit in America's worst stage parent, LaVar Ball, but now I'm reading of Ball being an ungrateful parent after Trump had negotiated the release of Ball's son, LiAngelo, and 2 UCLA teammates last week from China. So Trump is now saying maybe he should've left the light-fingered hoopsters in jail. I've made references to Ball as this generation's Fred Sanford, but next to Trump, we're looking at the real-life Archie Bunker and Henry Jefferson (George's brother) from All In The Family.

Again, President Manchild, leave well enough alone and focus on what you're supposed to be doing. The White House is not a bully pulpit.
Troy High's opponent in the NYS Class AA championship game is now set. Troy will play Lancaster on Sunday at the Syracuse Carrierdome, with a 3 pm start. By then, we'll know if Section II's other remaining teams, Cambridge & Holy Trinity, will have won their state titles (Classes D & C, respectively), as their games are on Black Friday.
Death has been very, very busy this weekend.

In addition to AC/DC's Malcolm Young, the obituary list also included:

Jana Novotna, a former Wimbledon tennis champion, succumbed to cancer at 49. Taken too soon.

Terry Glenn, who played with New England & Dallas in the NFL coming out of Ohio State, was killed in an auto accident over the weekend.

Ann Wedgeworth, whose TV credits included The Edge of Night, Another World, Filthy Rich, Three's Company, & Evening Shade, passed away at 89. Her stint on Company was a short one, just nine episodes before being written out, and yet, the online scribes think that's all people will remember her for.

Charles Manson, perhaps the most infamous killer of the 60's, passed away Sunday at 83. He had been in ill health in recent days. Manson had aspirations of being a songwriter years ago, and one of his songs, "Look At Your Game, Girl", was recorded by Guns 'n' Roses in the 80's. The latent talent he possessed had vanished in a heartbeat when he was arrested and convicted in the murder of actress Sharon Tate nearly 50 years ago. Despite numerous attempts at parole, Manson was denied his release, the belief being that he was still too dangerous to be set free.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Musical Interlude: Moneytalks (1990)

AC/DC's "Moneytalks" (yes, that's how they spelled it out) was the 2nd single off the Australian metal band's 1990 CD, "The Razor's Edge", and, like the forerunner, "Thunderstruck", received heavy airplay on MTV.

In memory of guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Malcolm Young, who passed away on Saturday.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

One step closer to another title (Troy vs. Newburgh, 11/18/17)

If the Goldbacks of Newburgh Free Academy had one goal in mind going into tonight's Class AA semi-final vs. defending champion Troy High, it was to avoid getting blown out of the yard, the memory of last year's 50-27 demolition in the quarters refreshed in their collective memories.

Say this, then, for Newburgh. They came prepared to play to the final whistle.

Troy, though, took the opening kickoff, and marched down the field, culminating in a 5 yard TD toss from Joe Casale to Isaiah Burdette. However, Michael Fazio's extra point attempt was blocked, and Fazio wasn't heard from again the rest of the night, as fullback/linebacker/punter Lorenzo Brammer handled the kickoffs from that point.

Newburgh's first play from scrimmage looked like something out of the Troy playbook, as Jadon Munroe burst up the middle and outran the defense to give the Goldbacks their first lead at 7-6. In the 2nd quarter, Troy reclaimed the lead as Joey Ward raced down the sideline 50 yards to paydirt. The 2 point conversion failed, and Troy held a 12-7 lead at halftime.

Newburgh took the 2nd half kickoff and marched back into the lead. Their 2-point conversion failed as well, leaving the Goldbacks with a 1 point lead, 13-12, headed into the final stanza. With under 2 minutes to go, Dev Holmes put Troy up for good on an 11 yard touchdown run off a double reverse. This time, the 2 point conversion worked, as Ward hit Holmes on the halfback option, giving Troy a 20-13 lead. However, they left enough time on the clock for Newburgh QB Terry Anderson to try to bring his team back.

But, on the first play after the kickoff, Anderson fumbled the snap, and Matt Ashley recovered, putting Troy right back in the red zone with a chance to run out the clock. Troy turned the ball over on downs with less than 30 seconds left. Newburgh was left with time for one play, and the defense bottled up Anderson, sending the Flying Horses back to Syracuse with a shot at repeating as NYS Class AA champions.

Troy will be one of three teams representing Section II in Syracuse next week. Class C champion Holy Trinity beat Burke Catholic, 28-23, earlier today, and, on Friday, Cambridge blew away Millbrook, 56-8. However, Class B champion Glens Falls, which entered the day sharing the state's longest winning streak with Troy at 24, fell to Pleasantville in a rematch of last year's semi-finals, 20-7. No team in Section II has ever repeated as state champs in any classification in football. Cambridge & Troy have a chance to make history, then, while Holy Trinity's Cinderella story conceivably could have the happiest of endings.

In Theatres: Justice League (2017)

Nearly a decade ago, Marvel Comics enacted a long range plan to bring their large library of heroes and villains to the big screen. That plan reached fruition 5 1/2 years ago with the release of "The Avengers", and, well, with the notable exception of 20th Century Fox's epic mishandling of the Fantastic Four in three attempts in 10 years (2005-15), you might as well say Marvel has become critic proof, and given a license to print money with their movies.

DC, on the other hand, has been behind the 8-ball from the jump. When Marvel put "Iron Man" in theatres in 2008, DC answered with "The Dark Knight", but didn't have anything to respond to "The Incredible Hulk". The fans basically spoke with their wallets. If it wasn't going to feature Batman, it wasn't going to work. 2004's ill-advised reimagining of "Catwoman" being one example of creative stupidity at Warners.

However, WB may want to rethink who's in charge of their DC Comics adaptations going forward.

Zack Snyder's 3rd visit to the DCU, "Justice League", isn't quite as bloated as "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice", released more than a year and a half ago, but it isn't exactly a critic's delight, either. In fact, critics by and large have trashed the film, if for no other reason than to protest Snyder's insistence on a now-out-of-date idea that all heroes have to be dark & brooding. While that works for Batman (Ben Affleck), it doesn't fit for everyone else. What became a chic thing in the late 80's (thanks to Sylvester Stallone's take on "Rambo" and Marvel giving The Punisher his own book in response) is now best left in the history books.

The origin of the Justice League in this context draws its roots from DC's New 52 initiative from 2011, although Green Lantern is missing from the picture, save for an alien GL in a brief flashback. Oh, I'm sure there will be a few kiddo's who might be confused seeing Cyborg (Ray Fisher) as a member of the League when on TV, he's still a Teen Titan. Aquaman (Jason Momoa) is all tatted up and loaded with an attitude that mostly comes from the 90's and an attempt to make him more of a clone of Marvel's Sub-Mariner. Flash (Ezra Miller) is a college student instead of the police scientist we know from TV and years of comics. Snyder's idea was to posit Barry Allen as DC's answer to Spider-Man. The closest analogue to this Barry would be from 2001's Justice League animated series, whose Flash was a clown and a bit of a tool, too.

Snyder co-wrote the original story with Chris Terrio (no relation to Denny of Dance Fever fame--we think), but the final screenplay was credited to Terrio and Joss Whedon ("Avengers", Buffy The Vampire Slayer, etc.), who actually took over directing when Snyder left the project after a death in the family. On the whole, DC/WB would've been better served if Whedon had been lured away from Marvel well before this. Snyder's been losing credibility points with each of his DC films, and this didn't help.

This trailer will help paint the picture:

Let's put it this way. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is the glue holding everything together, and keep an eye out for a mid-credit scene that recalls an iconic moment in DC history.

Other trailers include:

"The Greatest Showman" (Dec. 22): Hugh Jackman swaps Wolverine's claws from a top hat & tails as P. T. Barnum. It's not "Barnum", per se, but if you wonder why Jackman also has a Tony Award or two on his mantle, you'll see why.

"The Quiet Place" (April): A family on the run tries to avoid making noise, but an accident brings a worst case scenario to their door.

"The Commuter" (January): Liam Neeson has to find a particular person or innocents will be killed by a crackpot. Sound familiar?

"Rampage" (April): As if visiting the jungle of "Jumanji" next month wasn't enough, Dwayne Johnson's spring blockbuster looks to be a tale involving a mutated white gorilla named George.

"Samson" (February): The Biblical strongman's story is told for the first time in years.

"Black Panther" (February): Previously discussed.

"Ready Player One": Steven Spielberg's latest is based on a young adult novel, set nearly 30 years into the future.

"Pitch Perfect 3" (Dec. 20): Rebel Wilson & friends return.

"Justice League" gets a C.

Sports this 'n' that

The Bible tells us that no man can serve two masters. Which begs to ask when was the last time LA Lakers coach Luke Walton, not that far removed from his playing career, mind you, actually read the Bible?

You see, Walton hasn't completely relegated rookie Lonzo Ball to the bench despite Ball's recent struggles. Yes, Ball has been benched in the 4th quarter of recent games, but a stronger message would be sent if Ball didn't start until he got out of his funk.

While Walton has acknowledged, along with the rest of the planet, that Ball might be just a wee bit distracted by his brother LiAngelo's legal problems, the easiest solution for all concerned is to sit Lonzo for a few games and get him some extra practice time. Players do that all the time when they're slumping.

Unfortunately, Walton may be just keeping the rookie in the starting lineup to appease LaVar Ball, and that is not in the best interests of the team, much less the Ball family. The elder Ball will be happy as long as his son continues to make headlines, regardless of how well he's done on a given night, because it'll extend his 15 minutes that much longer.

Translated, this wouldn't play well in New York or any other market.
Section II is now down to 4 teams in the running for state titles.

Class A champ Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake had an uncharacteristically bad game on Friday in Middletown, dropping a 34-19 decision to Section I champ Yorktown, which won their sectional title by beating defending state champion Somers last month. The Huskers forced three Spartan fumbles, and played a more aggressive, ball-hawking defense. They were clearly the better, hungrier team, hungrier especially since their sectional title was their first in 19 years.

Class D champ Cambridge punched its ticket back to Syracuse by thumping Millbrook, 56-8. Ouch! No truth to the rumor that Millbrook was offering cases of bread to their supporters after the game.

Holy Trinity (Class C), Glens Falls (B), and Troy (AA) play today.
While the World Series champion Houston Astros were shut out of Gold Glove awards the other day, batting champ Jose Altuve was named American League MVP on Thursday, beating AL Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge of the Yankees by a comfortable margin. Altuve, who earned his first commercial endorsement this season (5 Hour Energy) wasn't quite a unanimous selection. Then again, neither was Miami's Giancarlo Stanton, who beat out Cincinnati's Joey Votto for NL MVP. And the Marlins new ownership, which includes ex-Yankee Derek Jeter, wants to shop Stanton? Oy.
Less than a week before tomorrow night's Survivor Series, WWE parted company with James Ellsworth earlier this week. Ellsworth (real name: James Morris) was another indy star signed by the company, but unlike the likes of Kevin Owens and Apollo Crews, Ellsworth went from rent-a-jobber to cult favorite underdog to manager/heat leech for women's Money in the Bank winner Carmella, all in the space of a year.

What may have finally written the coda to Ellsworth's run was this ill-advised skit in England on the November 7 Smackdown, right before his intergender challenge match vs. Ireland's Becky Lynch.

Translated, Ellsworth was set up to fail. On the final 5 dates of the fall European tour, Lynch and the rest of the women on the Smackdown roster ganged up on Ellsworth when he tried to make amends with Carmella, who turned on him after he lost to Lynch. The above promo was the touchstone, as Ellsworth, thanks to WWE's moronic writers, played the male chauvinist card, not realizing he was offending his on-air partner indirectly. One more reason WWE needs to lose the Hollywood rejects, especially if they're not being taught anything about what I call Wrestling Semantics 101.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

On The Air: Jimmy Kimmel Live! (2003)

20 years ago, he was just another aspiring comic who'd landed a gig on Comedy Central. Today, he's the longest tenured of the networks' late night hosts, approaching the 15th anniversary of his ABC yak-fest.

Jimmy Kimmel was a relative unknown when Comedy Central brought him in to be the announcer/co-host of Win Ben Stein's Money. While Stein ended up landing an endorsement deal with Visine, Kimmel added a 2nd CC series, The Man Show, to his resume, which he co-produced himself, with co-host/business partner Adam Corolla. The duo were also responsible for Crank Yankers and other CC shows during the period.

In 1999, Kimmel was hired by Fox to be a celebrity handicapper, picking 5 games a week on Fox NFL Sunday, starting a tradition that would continue with Frank Caliendo and, more recently, Rob Riggle. Skits aside, Kimmel turned out to be pretty proficient in picking winners. After 4 seasons, Kimmel left Fox when ABC lured him away with his own late night talk show.

Jimmy Kimmel Live! bowed in January 2003, but the series isn't always live. Like his rivals, Kimmel's show is recorded a few hours prior to broadcast, with live episodes only running on special occasions (Oscar night, NBA Finals, etc.). As the show has evolved, the comedy segments are fundamentally formulaic, especially when it comes to politics. I haven't seen any of the Mean Tweets segments that have been a part of the show the last 5 years, and I don't watch it too often.

Anyway, this choice clip from earlier this week spotlights this week's Dunce Cap Award winners. On Tuesday, Kimmel sent a camera crew out into the streets of Los Angeles to interview ordinary citizens about a certain former Presidential candidate.....

Like, a year later, some of these people have forgotten that Hillary Clinton lost the election, thanks to current President Trump copping the Electoral College vote. They follow the lead of the Chief Wackjob, not realizing you can't impeach someone who's not holding a political office at the present time. Did Kimmel's staff mislead these folks to make the joke work? I can't say for sure, but if you interpret the point of this exercise, it seems they'd be happy if Mrs. Clinton were put on trial for some, if not all, of her alleged crimes.

I guess part of the joke is that in Southern California, being an airhead is part of life.

No rating. We haven't watched enough of the show to merit one.