Sunday, May 20, 2018

Joseph Campanella (1924-2018)

He was a steady, reliable presence on television for several decades, with a resume that includes The Bold Ones, Mannix, One Day at a Time, Days of Our Lives, Batman, & The Golden Girls, just to name a few. Hollywood this weekend has been mourning the passing of character actor Joseph Campanella at 93.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Campanella? On Batman? Yep. He appeared in a few season 1 episodes as the made-for-TV character Inspector Bash, who rarely had any dialogue, and was written out of the show prior to season 2. He played Joe Mannix's boss in season 1 of Mannix, but, again, he was gone soon after. On The Bold Ones, Campanella teamed with James Farentino and Burl Ives in The New Lawyers.

In the 80's, Campanella moved into daytime television, appearing on Days, and hosted a Canadian children's program, Science International, known here in the US as What Will They Think of Next? when it aired on Nickelodeon. Following is a clip:



Campanella also was a pitchman for Quaker State motor oil and NAPA auto parts, among many sponsors during the course of his career.

Rest in peace, Joseph.

Sports this 'n' that

Someone asked on a message board the other day if there was a curse attached to the Mets to explain all the injuries plaguing the team in recent years. It certainly feels like there is one.

Star slugger Yoenis Cespedes was placed on the disabled list early in the week with a hip injury. Then, prior to the weekend series vs. Arizona, another outfielder with a cannon for an arm, Juan Lagares, was lost for the season with torn ligaments in his foot, an injury sustained in Wednesday's loss to Toronto. As I wrote on said message board, maybe there's a disgruntled fan who preferred ancient Shea Stadium remain open, and might've placed a curse of a sort on Citi Field before the Mets began playing there in 2009. We just don't know for sure.
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LaSalle institute had their commencement exercises yesterday, this after the spring sports season had officially come to an end at the school.

The Cadets were one-&-done in both the lacrosse & baseball sectionals. Coach Jesse Braverman's baseball club dropped a 7-2 decision to Columbia on Friday, while 1st year lacrosse coach Shane Hendry saw his season end in a loss to Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake. Hendry's club finishes at 9-8 for the season. The team got off to a hot start, but cooled off late.

At Troy High, the softball team is the only one still playing, and their next game will be against the last team to beat them, Shenendehowa, on Wednesday afternoon. Coach Sean Geisel's squad has won 9 of its last 10 after a non-league win over Class C contender Maple Hill on Friday, 7-1. The lacrosse team saw their season end Saturday morning in a 14-3 loss to Columbia. The Troy laxmen finish at 5-12. As noted on Friday, the baseball team failed to qualify for sectionals, having just 1 win on the season.
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The University at Albany moved one step closer to an NCAA title Saturday with a quarterfinal win over Denver. The game was played on a neutral site at Hofstra University on Long Island, which meant Denver had to travel cross-country for the game, which was not considered important enough to air on any of ESPN's over the air channels, but rather online. That won't happen in the semi-finals, I can assure you. What remains open to question, though, is whether or not a NCAA title would merit the Great Danes getting a ticker tape parade through downtown Albany........
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Despite the steady rain that fell on Saturday, they managed to get one baseball sectional game in, and it was a Class AA tilt that went to the wire before Guilderland defeated CBA, 8-7. The two schools also met in lacrosse, with the Brothers prevailing, so it all evened out. However, it must come as a surprise that CBA, a perennial power in other sports, went one-&-done in the baseball tournament. The baseball game was set for a 10 am first pitch to avoid the rain, but to no avail, as the rain came around the same time, starting as a steady drizzle. Guilderland will play top-seeded Shenendehowa on Tuesday. In fact, this was the only baseball game on the schedule. As noted, most of the 1st round games originally set for yesterday were moved up a day to avoid the rain and keep the schedule intact.
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At the rate things are going, after winning the Kentucky Derby & Preakness, the owners of Justify may be praying for rain for the Belmont Stakes on June 9. Justify has handled the sloppy conditions in both wins, so, karma being what it is, a dry track may be the colt's undoing. Just sayin'.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

In Theatres: Deadpool 2 (2018)

In the 80's, DC Comics introduced a new villain named Ambush Bug. A couple of years later, writer-artist Keith Giffen reimagined the character as a satire on conventional comics tropes. Sales for a pair of mini-series went through the roof. However, Ambush Bug didn't have enough staying power, and hasn't been seen since prior to the New 52 in 2011.

A decade later, on Batman: The Animated Series, the Joker (Mark Hamill) was given an on-again-off-again girlfriend-sidekick, Harley Quinn (Arleen Sorkin, Days of Our Lives), who today is a card carrying member of the Suicide Squad, and has become more of an anti-hero, or, in the wrestling parlance, a tweener, in her own book, and, like Ambush Bug before her, Harley's solo book is mostly comical in nature, which explains my belief that DC has so far missed the boat by not pairing her with Daffy Duck. Instead, as reported the other day, "Mistah J" meets Daffy in August.

At Marvel, around the time Harley made her debut, the "House of Ideas" introduced Deadpool as a villain in the X-family of books. Predictably, an editorial decision was made to turn Deadpool into more of a comedy character, who, like Ambush Bug, satirizes conventional comics tropes. Unlike Ambush Bug, however, Deadpool has made it to Hollywood, and, as with almost everything at Marvel, he's being pushed to the moon.

In "Deadpool 2", mutated assassin Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) wants to settle down and start a family with his girlfriend, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin, Gotham). Unfortunately, we're spared the thought of seeing how much more of Wade has been disfigured as he doesn't get the chance to get busy with Vanessa, and that will be all I'll say about that.

The core of the plot involves a New Zealand teenager, Russell Collins, who in the books was an American youth. Abused and bullied in the orphanage where he was raised, Collins lashes out, demonstrating pyrotechnical abilities, which gives him the name Firefist. Deadpool, accompanied by Colossus and a couple of other minor X-Men, tries to stop him. Instead, Firefist & Deadpool are captured.

And, then, there is Cable (Josh Brolin, "Avengers: Infinity War"), who has come from the future to try to kill Collins before he becomes a threat in Cable's lifetime. As with the first film, "Deadpool 2" makes with a ton of inside references and jokes, too many to keep track of. It also takes advantage of the R rating to turn the air a dark shade of blue in terms of language. Well, it worked the first time. Just too many F-bombs, even from Colossus.

The soundtrack is eclectic, kind of like the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movies, but boasting a lineup that includes Air Supply, Cher, Celine Dion, and Barbra Streisand, in a clip from "Yentl".

This trailer is one of the cleaner ones I could find:



No cameo from Stan Lee this time. Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) appears briefly as a member of the newly formed X-Force (which was not actually founded by Deadpool in the books, as it was the team he first fought). Other trailers include not only the predictable "Solo" (next week) and "Ant-Man & The Wasp" (July 6), but also "Sorry to Bother You" (July 6), which was a harbinger of things to come with heavy doses of F-bombs. Doomed to fail, that one. The other one was for "Ocean's 8", a distaff remake of "Ocean's 11", with Sandra Bullock, Mindy Kaling, and Rihanna as part of the gang.

"Deadpool 2" merits a A-.

Forgotten TV: Maybe This Time (1995)

With the success of Boy Meets World, producer Michael Jacobs was commissioned to deliver another sitcom to ABC. However, despite an ensemble cast that featured Marie Osmond, Betty White, and a future star in Craig Ferguson, Maybe This Time is considered a bomb. The series lasted less than six months, ending after 18 episodes in February 1996.

White was fresh from The Golden Girls and its sequel, The Golden Palace. Osmond hadn't done a sitcom before, and maybe ABC suits were thinking she could still pull in an audience, nearly 20 years after Donny & Marie first hit the air. Unfortunately, they weren't paying attention to the fact that Osmond's last primetime series, a solo variety show for NBC, was also a flop 15 years earlier.

In hindsight, Maybe This Time would've been better served being tested on Disney Channel before going to broadcast television. Jacobs was able to sneak in a minor crossover with Boy Meets World, but that wasn't going to be quite enough. Maybe was not part of ABC's TGIF block, airing instead on Saturday nights, back when you could still program first-run programming on that end of the weekend.

Ashley Johnson (Gracie) had previously appeared on Growing Pains, but may be better known today for her cartoon work. She would return to Disney for the animated series, Recess, and has also been heard on Teen Titans, Jumanji, Teen Titans Go!, and other cartoons.

Here's a sample episode:



Well, we can say Ashley has a face for cartoons. Had Maybe been instead packaged as part of TGIF, it may have succeeded.

Rating: B-.

Friday, May 18, 2018

What Might've Been: Fibber McGee & Molly (1959)

What happens when a beloved radio show moves to television without its lead actors? Disaster.

Jim & Marion Jordan, the stars of radio's Fibber McGee & Molly, were unwilling to make the transition to television. However, in 1959, NBC took it upon themselves, with help from sponsors such as the Singer Company, to develop a video version of Fibber McGee. Bob Sweeney, better known as a writer & director on later series such as The Andy Griffith Show, was cast as Fibber, with Cathy Lewis as Molly. The only other selling point? William Asher, better known for his later work at Screen Gems (i.e. Bewitched), was the producer & director.

Let's take a look at a sample episode:



We'll look at the radio version another day.

Rating: B-.

High School Fridays: Sectional season is here!

The wacky weather patterns in the northeast resulted in Section 2's baseball & softball schedules wrapping up yesterday, but there's no rest for the weary, as sectional play begins today.

To be fair, tournaments were supposed to start tomorrow, but with rain in the forecast yet again, many games marked for tomorrow were moved up to today in order to keep the schedule on track as best as possible.

Before we get into details, we will note the conclusion of the historically worst season in Troy High baseball history.

After beating Averill Park, 7-0, on April 5, 1st year coach Chris Strack knew he needed six wins to qualify for the post-season tournament. Unfortunately, the psychological damage done to the team with the departure of senior 1B/pitcher David Judge before the start of the season set in, and the Flying Horses find themselves packing their gear and getting ready for travel teams. Since not all the scores were reported in a timely fashion, perhaps to avoid further embarrassment, we must assume that Troy finished with just the 1 non-league win. Averill Park collected a receipt on Wednesday, as Anthony Germinerio, cousin of former Troy star John Germinerio (now at Union) pitched a complete game victory for the Warriors, who qualified for the sectionals as a result.

Averill Park's next game is today in what amounts to a play-in game vs. South Glens Falls in the Class A tournament. The winner then travels to Amsterdam on Tuesday, with the championship game a week later at Bruno Stadium.
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Troy High's lacrosse team wrapped its season with a 15-10 win over Averill Park on Thursday night, spoiling Senior Night for the Warriors. Troy finishes 5-11 for coach Joe Bennett. Senior star Derrick Cipriani, in his final game, scored 7 goals. Apparently, you also need six wins for sectionals in lacrosse.....
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Meanwhile, Troy's softball team is just scorching hot entering sectional play. Coach Sean Geisel's club has won 8 of their last 9 after collecting a receipt from Averill Park on Wednesday, then escaping with a 6-5 verdict over Niskayuna on Thursday. Sophomore catcher Maddie Rifenberick, who has been on the varsity since her middle school days (!), was profiled in today's Albany Times-Union (remember, The Record is not allowed to talk to Troy players or coaches because of a petty district policy that must needs be abolished yesterday). She's batting .419 for the season with 7 homers, most of them coming in the last couple of weeks.

Troy landed the #6 seed in Class AA. That's the good news. The bad? They travel to #3 Shenendehowa, the last team to beat Troy, on Wednesday. Here's to hoping Cinderella doesn't lose her glass sneakers.....
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Section 2 has scheduled the sectional title games for May 25-29 at Bruno Stadium, figuring that putting the games on a weekend will draw bigger crowds. Well, duh! The Class A & AA title games, however, will be on Tuesday, May 29, when most folks are back to work after the Memorial Day holiday. Like, here's a thought. If it rains on the 25th or 26th, and also on the 27th, why not try to play on Memorial Day?
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Let's try to figure out baseball & softball:

Baseball:

Class AA:

Shen is the top seed, while defending champion Niskayuna winds up as the #6 seed. The Silver Warriors open defense of their title today vs. Shaker. LaSalle, the lone Colonial Council representative, will play at Columbia, with the winner advancing to face Bethlehem in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. Bruno Stadium hosts the semi-finals on Thursday. Columbia will be playing their 2nd game in 24 hours, while LaSalle will be relatively fresh. Bank on the Cadets, and look for them to make another run to the finals.

Class A:

Amsterdam is the #1 seed, and awaits the winner of Averill Park-South Glens Falls on Tuesday. We'll be taking a look----weather permitting, of course---at Lansingburgh's quarterfinal match with Mohonasen in what will be a preview of things to come in the Colonial Council next year, on Tuesday.

Class B:

Albany Academy begins defense of their title today at home vs. Voorheesville. All signs point to a rubber match with #2 Ichabod Crane, the only Section 2 team to beat the Cadets, at The Joe on the 26th. At least the Riders have had a game this year on the Bruno Stadium field, even though they lost to Columbia last night. If form holds, Academy would get a 3rd game vs. Schalmont, a team they swept in the regular season, in the quarters. Last year's runner-up, Saratoga Central Catholic, is seeded #4 this year, and would be a semi-final opponent for the Cadets this time.

Class C:

Maple Hill holds the top seed, and will await the winner of a play-in game today between Duanesburg & Berne Knox-Westerlo.. If form holds, the Wildcasts would be playing #2 Rensselaer in the finals at The Joe.

Class CC:

This is the only sport where this classification still exists. Greenwich, which bounces between Classes C & D in football, for example, holds the #1 seed here. Hard to believe a former Big 10 school like Bishop Gibbons is down at this level, but here they are at #2. This will be interesting.

Class D:

The smallest classification in Section 2 gets to wait until Monday to start play, with the title game being the opening act of a Saturday double-dip at Bruno Stadium on the 26th. Whitehall is the top seed, but I wouldn't discount Mekeel Christian Academy, which has been a power in basketball in recent years. This to me looks like a wide open affair.
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Now, let's move on to softball:

Class AA:

Colonie holds the top seed. As noted Troy may be the hottest team right now, but their last loss was to Shen, and another receipt may be nigh. I like Troy as a dark horse sleeper pick. Realistically, the winner of Troy-Shen will be in the title game at Luther Forest on the 29th.

Class A:

South Glens Falls holds the top seed here, with perennial Suburban Council power Averill Park at #2. Catholic Central usually fields a strong softball team, but they've struggled just to get here, and have to go through Mohonasen in order to get another look at South Glens Falls. Not going to happen, I'm afraid.

Class B:

Emma Willard School's campus is on Pawling Avenue, but for some reason, they're playing their sectional home game at Russell Sage College vs. Bishop Gibbons. The Jesters don't get the respect from the press that they should. Should they get past Gibbons, they will have to play Ichabod Crane. Here's to hoping they can get some extra eyeballs at the game. Wasaren League champ Tamarac is the #3 seed, and awaits the winner of Cohoes and Fonda. I think the road to Luther Forest leads through Chatham (Ichabod Crane).

Class C:

Maple Hill also tops the class for the women, and will open vs. Cambridge, another school that has hopped between Classes C & D. Funny thing. Saratoga Central Catholic is a B school in baseball, but a C in softball? The mind boggles, man.

Class D:

Salem is the #1 seed, and Heatly, out of Green Island, will be looking for an upset in Wednesday's opener.

The semi-finals & finals in Classes C & D will be at Moreau Recreational Facility, rather than Luther Forest. Makes perfect sense, but in a perfect Title IX world, why not let the girls get some shine at The Joe right alongside the boys? Just sayin'.
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For parochial reasons more than anything, we're rooting for LaSalle (AA baseball), Albany Academy (B), Lansingburgh (A), and, just for kicks, Emma Willard (B softball), and, of course, Troy (AA) to continue their late season hot streak and avenge their loss to Shen.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Musical Interlude: The Auctioneer (1970)

From Hee Haw, circa 1970:

One of the greatest singing cowboys of all time, Roy Rogers, covers Leroy Van Dyke's 1956 #1 hit, "The Auctioneer". Scope!