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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

Sports this 'n' that

UCLA freshmen Cody Riley, Jalen Hill, & LiAngelo Ball have returned home from China, only to find that their troubles aren't over yet.

After it got out that the trio had shoplifted from 2 other stores in the vicinity of their hotel, it took the intervention of President Trump to bring them home. After the narcissistic, attention-addicted Chief Executive wondered publicly on Twitter if the kids should thank him, they held a press conference yesterday to do just that. However, UCLA has decided to indefinitely suspend the trio until the full investigation is completed.

To paraphrase Simon & Garfunkel, nearly 50 years ago, "any way you look at it, they lose".
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Despite increasing demand from fans and media alike, the owners of the NY Giants aren't about to send 2nd year head coach Ben McAdoo packing despite a dismal 1-8 start. They're loathe to change coaches in mid-season, and you'd have to go back about 40 years for the last time they did. The Giants are 10 point home underdogs vs. Kansas City on Sunday, the first of a 2-game swing in the Meadowlands for the Chiefs (they stay in town to play the Jets after Thanksgiving). Big Blue has already been eliminated from playoff contention, the earliest that's happened in years.

All I can say is, they're better off doing it now, or no later than Monday, and start with a clean slate after Thanksgiving. Part of the problem is that McAdoo is unwilling to give rookie Davis Webb a chance to show what he can do. By the same token, the Jests have the same problem, as 3rd year coach Todd (Pro) Bowles has similarly used the "best chance to win" defense to avoid using 2nd year QB Christian Hackenburg (Penn State) or 3rd year signal caller Bryce Petty, who actually has some game experience, to replace aging stop-gap Josh McCown, because while the Jests have overachieved beyond fan expectations, McCown has shown his age at times, and so has Eli Manning with the Giants. The future is now, guys. It can't hurt.
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New York's worst sports owner, James Dolan, is putting the WNBA's NY Liberty up for sale. We'd all be better off if he also decided to divest himself of the Knicks, Rangers, Radio City Music Hall, AMC, and Madison Square Garden, and just go away.
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All 5 Section II football champions have reached the state semi-final round, but only two of them will be on TV this weekend. Burnt Hills (Class A) on Friday, and Troy (Class AA) on Saturday, with both games announced Wednesday as airing on Spectrum News (cable channels 1, 9, or 200). The others (Cambridge, Holy Trinity, & Glens Falls) will have their games streamed online on Spectrum News' sports site.

Add Troy. QB-DB Joe Casale will stay close to home for college, like his predecessor, John Germinerio (Union). Casale gave a verbal commitment to UAlbany on Wednesday. I guess he doesn't want to change the color of his gym bag (UAlbany's color scheme includes purple, just like Troy. However, Casale will be strictly a defensive player for the Great Danes, which will ensure some playing time as a freshman, unlike Germinerio, who's carrying a clipboard for the Dutchmen this season.
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Just when you thought it was over, it apparently isn't.

It would be the embargo Troy High had placed on The Record, prohibiting the hometown paper from interviewing players & coaches. The embargo had apparently been lifted last month, but the paper's account of the Troy-New Rochelle game revealed that Coach Bob Burns, newly elected to the Rensselaer County Legislature three days before the game, was not allowed to talk to The Record, although players did. Burns' run for his first political office went under-reported to begin with, suggesting that he and the school didn't want it to be a distraction of any sort, and I can respect that (Burns finished 4th in the balloting). You wonder, though, if being elected hasn't become a sore spot for the school board or THS administration, and that would explain not allowing Burns to be interviewed by The Record.......

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What Might've Been: Wonder Woman (1974)

Seven years after William Dozier's campy sitcom pilot was rejected by ABC, Wonder Woman returned, this time inspired by her "civilian" phase, if you will, a period that had the Amazing Amazon swapping her traditional star spangled costume and her powers for a white jumpsuit that made her into DC's answer to Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) from England's The Avengers. However, by the time this ABC Movie of the Week first hit the air in March 1974, to be encored five months later, Wonder Woman was back in the red, white & blue in the comics, if my memory serves me correctly.

Veteran sci-fi writer-producer John D. F. Black and director Vincent McEveety cast Cathy Lee Crosby as Diana, with character actor Kaz Garas as Steve Trevor, the only one of Diana's usual supporting cast left intact. The plot deals with Diana taking on a corrupt businessman, Abner Smith (Ricardo Montalban) and his aide, George Calvin (Andrew Prine), who have stolen some top secret code books from across the globe.



Later in 1974, Crosby would turn up as a corrupted version of Helen of Troy, or so it would seem, in an episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, before rebounding with the reality-magazine series, That's Incredible, a couple of years later. Montalban landed an endorsement deal with Chrysler right around the time this movie aired or thereabouts, and, of course, parlayed that into Fantasy Island. Wikipedia says that Crosby has claimed to have been offered another shot at Wonder Woman, but we all know who ended up taking over the role a year later (Lynda Carter). In all honesty, Crosby was just not believable enough as Diana to warrant a second chance. However, in the course of Wonder Woman's CBS run, she would run into a few more Abner Smiths and George Calvins, garden variety crooks looking to feather their nest in a misguided belief they were looking to better the world.

In other words, no different than the ordinary folks Wonder Woman encountered on Super Friends at that time.

Maybe I'm a little spoiled, having seen this year's model of "Wonder Woman", epic in its scope, but this comes off as a wee bit pedestrian.

Rating: C.

What Might've Been: The Montefuscos (1975)

In 1975, NBC had a brand, spankin' new Thursday block. It took them less than 2 months to break it up.

At the head of the block was The Montefuscos, a sitcom about an Italian-American family from creators Bill Persky & Sam Denoff (That Girl), which aspired to tell the story of a more typical Italian-American family, as opposed to the stereotypes created in gangster movies such as "The Godfather".

Unfortunately, despite a talented ensemble headed by Joseph Sirola (ex-The Magician) and Naomi Stevens, The Montefuscos didn't make it to Halloween, as NBC dropped the axe on it and Lee Grant's Fay. Surprisingly, rival ABC criticized the decision, feeling NBC's panicky beancounters acted too soon. Sadly, it became the norm rather than the exception in later years, even at ABC.

The opposition on Thursdays came from The Waltons (CBS) and ABC's 1-2 punch of Barney Miller and Welcome Back, Kotter, if my memory is correct. Coincidentally, Ron Carey (Frank Montefusco) would later join the cast of Barney Miller.

Following is an excerpt from NBC's 1975 Fall Preview, narrated by Lloyd Bridges.



No rating. In my house, the parents alternated between Barney Miller and The Waltons.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Celebrity Rock: Good Lovin' Is Just a Dime Away (1991)

From the final season of Amen:

Deacon Ernest Frye (Sherman Hemsley, ex-The Jeffersons) was looking to bring his old vocal group, Ernie & the Sublimes, back together for a charity event at the First Community Church. However, the guys can't get along, despite the intervention of guest stars Chubby Checker & Casey Kasem. Ultimately, as we'll see around the 5 minute mark, Frye improvises a new set of Sublimes, including Rev. Reuben Gregory (Clifton Davis) to cover "Good Lovin' Is Just a Dime Away", a Lamont Dozier song recorded by the Originals for Motown back in 1975.



A year later, Hemsley, as previously documented, appeared on Soul Train, promoting what I think was his debut CD. I wonder if Davis, an established singer, had given Hemsley some advice.....

A little of this and a little of that

While they're still trying to put TV icon Bill Cosby behind bars for ages old cases of sexual harrassment and/or assault, Hollywood now is reeling as more cases are being brought to light in recent days.

The current stream of allegations started with producer Harvey Weinstein, who has since been ousted from his own company. Then, it was actor Kevin Spacey, who subsequently came out as gay as a result of his indiscretions becoming public. The last few days have seen comedian Louis CK, 70's movie icon Richard Dreyfuss, and television producer Andrew Kreigsberg being accused. 

Kreigsberg in particular is galling for fans of CW's DC Comics shows (i.e. Supergirl, Flash, Arrow), especially after it came out that "Wonder Woman" star Gal Gadot, who will return later this week in "Justice League", reportedly said she wouldn't do a sequel to this spring's monster hit unless producer Brett Ratner was cut. Apparently, the dark secrets of the casting couch are still in play in the 21st century.

Supergirl star Melissa Benoist and Arrow co-star Emily Bett Rickards took to Twitter over the weekend, and while they didn't name Kreigsberg specifically, both actresses took a stand against rampant sexual harrassment. Benoist, in particular, made it clear she would return to the set of her show. Warner Bros. suspended Kreigsberg on Friday, pending an internal investigation. DC Comics, meanwhile, suspended long-time editor Eddie Berganza, as he, too, has been caught in the web.

It's only going to get worse before it gets better, friends. Stay tuned.
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Albany Academy For Boys' initial football campaign in the New England Prep School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) came to a crushing end on Saturday with a 41-19 road loss to Canterbury. The Cadets, at 4-4 (3-3 in the league) will not advance to any of the NEPSAC bowl games. 

Meanwhile, all 5 Section II teams will be in Middletown, just outside of Poughkeepsie, this weekend for state semi-final games. Courtesy of the Albany Times-Union, here's the lineup:

FRIDAY, NOV. 17

CLASS D SEMIFINALS

II-Cambridge (10-1) vs. IX-Millbrook (6-5), 4 p.m.

CLASS A SEMIFINALS
II-Burnt Hills (11-0) vs. I-Yorktown (11-0), 8 p.m.

SATURDAY, NOV. 18

CLASS C SEMIFINALS

II-Holy Trinity (10-1) vs. IX-Burke Catholic (10-1), 11 a.m.

CLASS B SEMIFINALS
II-Glens Falls (11-0) vs. I-Pleasantville (10-1), 3 p.m.

CLASS AA SEMIFINALS
II-Troy (11-0) vs. IX-Newburgh Free Academy (9-1), 7 p.m.

Troy beat Newburgh last year to advance to the semi-finals, so they're playing the same opponents as last year (Newburgh, New Rochelle), but in reverse order.
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Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott served the first game of a 6 game suspension by going out of the country. The result? Dallas lost to Atlanta, enabling idle Philadelphia to gain a 1/2-game on the Cowboys, as well as Washington & the Giants, in the NFC East. Big Blue, accused of going in the tank in a blowout loss to the LA Rams last week, fell to San Francisco, 31-21, but that doesn't assure them of the #1 pick in next year's draft. After all, Cleveland has yet to win a game this season. The calls are growing louder for coach Ben McAdoo to be cut loose.
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Similarly, the AFC East leading New England Patriots picked up a game on Buffalo and the Jets on Sunday. The defending champs blew out Denver, while Buffalo was wiped out by New Orleans. The NFC South leaders have now won seven in a row. The Jests, facing former QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, dropped a 15-10 decision to Tampa Bay, which won with just 1 TD & 3 field goals against one of their former QB's, Josh McCown. Luckily for the Jests, they get their bye week next week, but it would've been nice to go into said bye at 5-5 instead of 4-6. Either way, it's better than anyone expected. When the Jests return from the bye, they'll play Kansas City, as the Chiefs, on a bye this week themselves, spend the next two weeks at the Meadowlands (they play the Giants next), and should head home winning both games. Just sayin'.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A cracker in a slot machine? (1977)

Sunshine Brands (since absorbed by Kellogg's) came up with a novel idea for a commercial to promote Hi-Ho crackers in 1977. What they did was sign Gary Burghoff (M*A*S*H) and Herb Edelman (ex-The Good Guys, Big John-Little John) as the main stars of this next bit. Ron Masak shows up at the end.



Burghoff did at least one more spot for Hi-Ho crackers, this time as a company spokesman. We'll have that up another time. I doubt very seriously anyone really tried to put a cracker in a slot machine......

What Might've Been: The Tim Conway Show (1970)

Tim Conway had to believe in the age-old expression, "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again". By this, I mean that Conway, between the end of McHale's Navy in 1966 and joining the cast of The Carol Burnett Show, had several opportunities to prove he was just as capable a headliner as Burnett or Ernest Borgnine, for example. His first attempt, Rango, was a mid-season replacement for ABC in 1967, and didn't fare very well.

Three years later, Conway moved to CBS, and signed with Talent Associates, whose Get Smart was in its final season. The Tim Conway Show, from Smart producer Burt Nodella, was another mid-season entry, this one reuniting Conway with McHale castmate Joe Flynn.

Flynn was the owner of a struggling, small-time airline, and Conway his only pilot. As it happened, neither were exceptionally skilled. For Conway, this was another variation, just like Rango, of his McHale role as bumbling Ensign Charles Parker. You'd think that by this point, Conway would've been looking for a different kind of role, and he'd eventually get it. This just wasn't it. That Flynn's character, Herbert Kenworth, was just as inept was an attempt to disguise that fact.

Subsequently, only 12 episodes aired, and the last, after being pulled from the schedule twice, aired in June 1970. Three months later, Conway was back, this time with a comedy variety show that also failed.

Here's part 1 of "All of Our Airplanes Are Missing":



The problem? The show aired on Fridays, and ABC had taken control of the night with a lineup led by the freshman Brady Bunch. Ballgame over.

Rating: C.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

In Theatres: Murder on The Orient Express (2017)

"If it was easy, I wouldn't be famous."---Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh).

Dame Agatha Christie modeled the Belgian sleuth Poirot in the mold of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's irrepressible Sherlock Holmes, right down to the meticulous attention to detail. Forty three years after the novel was first adapted for the screen, Murder On The Orient Express is brought to life again, this time with Branagh not only heading an ensemble cast, but directing and serving as co-producer.

It begins with Poirot in Jerusalem closing a case when he receives a telegram from an old friend, the owner of the Orient Express. What follows is a lesson in Whodunit 101. Anyone who's ever watched TV mysteries like Murder, She Wrote or Ellery Queen, for example, would know what I mean.

The passengers on board the train are the predictably diverse group. A fading star, traveling in relative anonymity (Michelle Pfeiffer). An undercover Pinkerton detective (Willem Dafoe). A soldier-turned-doctor (singer Leslie Odom, Jr.). The cast also includes Daisy Ridley (to be seen next in "Star Wars: The Last Jedi", next month), Penelope Cruz, Derek Jacobi, and Johnny Depp. Trust me, you won't see the twist ending coming. Having not seen previous adaptations nor read the original story, it threw me for two loops.

Check out the trailer:



One complaint I read is that Branagh gives himself too much screen time, as if Poirot needs to be in every frame. Maybe this was a vanity project, I don't know, but those of us unacquainted with Poirot will forgive.

Other trailers include:

"Darkest Hour" (limited release Nov. 24): Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. 'Nuff said.

"Three Billboards in Ebbing, Missouri" (in limited release): Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, & Peter Dinklage are among the stars in this one, as a rural sheriff (Harrelson) is harrassed by the titular billboards and the woman who commissioned them.

"The Man Who Invented Christmas": Dan Stevens is Charles Dickens. Christopher Plummer brings Scrooge to life.

Ye scribe will be looking to rent the 1974 version of "Orient Express", with Albert Finney and Sean Connery, among others, just for comparison shopping.

Rating: A.

Forgotten TV: Headliners & Legends (1998)

After A & E revived Biography in the 90's, it seemed as though everybody wanted to get in on the act. VH1 developed Behind The Music, while sister network MTV had the shorter (usually) Rockumentary. Over at MSNBC, as they were looking to fill time on the weekends, there was a Biography clone, Headliners & Legends.

Headliners covered the same ground, and some of the same subjects. Current Today anchor Matt Lauer was the host, but, unlike Behind The Music, Biography, and more like E!'s True Hollywood Story, an off-screen narrator told the stories.

I may be wrong about this, but Don Knotts may have scored a hat trick by being a subject on Headliners, Biography, and perhaps True Hollywood Story. Let's take a look at Headliners' take on Knotts.....



I think Headliners has long ceased production, swept off the screen by MSNBC's growing line of political programming.

Rating: A.

Friday, November 10, 2017

High School Fridays: New Rochelle vs. Troy (football), 11/10/17

A year ago, in Kingston, Troy High defeated New Rochelle to advance to the NYS Class AA title game. Tonight, the Hugenots came to Section II country, seeking revenge. The site was Columbia High, as Section II hosted a state playoff for the first time in what seems like forever, if ever at all.

On what was easily the coldest night of the season so far, the rematch was as advertised, a game dominated by defense on both teams, a war of attrition that would be decided on the final score of the game. For coach Bob Burns, this was the first game since being elected to the Rensselaer County Legislature earlier this week, a side story that had gone underplayed in the local press.

After a scoreless first quarter, Troy struck first, as Joe Casale hit Isaiah Burdette for a 40 yard touchdown strike. Michael Fazio converted the point-after, and Troy was up, 7-0. However, barely a minute later, New Rochelle answered, as Jared Baron scampered 39 yards to tie the game. Right before the half, Troy regained the lead, as Casale connected with Dev Holmes. However, for the 2nd straight week, Holmes was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, this time after the touchdown was scored, and Troy led, 14-7, at the break.

After the teams played a scoreless 3rd quarter, New Rochelle tied the game on a touchdown catch by Miles Taylor. On the ensuing kickoff, Holmes injured his left ankle, and had to come out of the game, though he would return. Joey Ward, kept out of the end zone, was grinding out yardage to get Troy in position for a game winning score. However, it wouldn't be a touchdown. For the first time this season, Troy set up for a field goal, and with 7 seconds left in regulation, Fazio connected from 24 yards out. The Flying Horses, thinking the game was over, rushed out onto the field to celebrate, which cost them another 15 yard penalty.

No matter, as a desperation pass by New Rochelle fell incomplete as time expired, and Troy moves on with a 17-14 win. The Hugenots, the 3-time Section I champs, are sent packing by a Section II team for the 3rd straight year (Saratoga in 2015).

Next week, Troy leaves the comfort of Section II, and will travel to Middletown to play Newburgh Free Academy, with the winner advancing to the title game Thanksgiving weekend in Syracuse.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

What Might've Been: Bourbon Street Beat (1959)

By the end of the 50's, crime dramas were becoming as common as Westerns and sitcoms.

One year after launching 77 Sunset Strip, Warner Brothers followed up with Bourbon Street Beat, which, as the title implies, was set in New Orleans, which was also the setting of the Western, Yancy Derringer. Bourbon Street Beat, however, lasted just 1 season, although two of the leads were moved to other WB series.

Richard Long headlined as Rex Randolph, the junior partner in a detective agency with Cal Calhoun (Andrew Duggan). Van Williams played Kenny Madison, the aspiring sleuth-in-training. After the series ended, Madison was relocated to Miami, making Surfside 6 a spin-off. Randolph, on the other hand, packed up and moved across country to LA, as Long joined the cast of 77 Sunset Strip for its 3rd season. Duggan, meanwhile, would not headline another series until Lancer in 1968.

The Rap Sheet provides the intro:



So why did Bourbon Street fail? I have zero clue.

No rating.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Musical Interlude: I Just Want to Celebrate (1971)

If you thought that Motown was an exclusively African-American label, you'd be so, so wrong. In its history, Motown has signed a number of white artists, one of whom, Charlene, hit #1 in the early 80's with "I've Never Been to Me". Before that, the jam band Rare Earth, for whom Motown named a label, peaked at #4 in 1971 with "I Just Want to Celebrate", which still gets airplay today on classic rock and oldies channels.

Sports this 'n' that

This is defnitely not how you want to start your college basketball career.

UCLA freshman Jalen Hill, Cody Riley, and LiAngelo Ball were arrested Tuesday in China on shoplifting charges, the accusation being that they stole sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store next door to their hotel in Hangzou, where the Bruins will play their an exhibition game this weekend. There are reports that suggest the trio, if convicted, could face 3-10 years in a Chinese prison, ending their college careers before they get started.

Stage parent LaVar Ball had planned on a press conference today, but was advised against it, and is looking for find out more details. The elder Ball has previously said that he would have his youngest son, LaMelo, who is in China with his family, play there until he's eligible for the NBA draft, rather than finish his high school career in the US. We're all better off if Papa Big Mouth doesn't say anything until he gets home.
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The last of WWE's big 4 pay-per-views, Survivor Series, may have just gotten an upgrade on one of their main events.

On last night's same-day-tape episode of Smackdown, A. J. Styles defeated Canada's Jinder Mahal, representing India, to win the WWE title, and will advance to face Universal champion Brock Lesnar on November 19 in Houston. Throughout Mahal's run as champion, he has rarely won a match without the assistance of the Singh brothers (formerly known as the Bollywood Boys), who, like Mahal, are representing India, but are really from Canada. On paper, a match between Styles, who has a slight experience advantage over Lesnar, may actually be more appealing to the casual fans, especially considering how WWE has taken some heat for using Mahal to expand business into India. The Monday Night Raw crew will be in India December 8-9, but there is no guarantee that Mahal would get the title back before then. More than likely, he would be posited as an underdog challenger, and forced to work as a babyface (hero), rather than the villain he's been presented as. It's the fault, of course, of WWE Chairman/CEO Vince McMahon, looking to create a new revenue stream at the expense of common sense, ignoring the fact that Mahal had zero credibility as champion because of the repetitive nature of his title defenses.
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The NFL has its answer to LaVar Ball, Kanye West, and President Trump.

Miko Grimes, wife of Tampa Bay defensive back Brent Grimes, made some seriously false statements when appearing on the Revolt network the other day. Mrs. Grimes claimed that the Oakland offensive line took exception to QB Derek Carr's objection to their kneeling during the national anthem, and "let" Carr suffer a back injury.

As it turns out, Mrs. Grimes was as wrong as wrong could be. The Raiders, as well as several media outlets, have pointed out that Carr was supportive of his teammates, and that his injury wasn't in week 3 against the Washington Trumpets, but rather the following week. Miko didn't have her facts straight, and, as of press time, hasn't recanted her statements, now that she knows they're false. President Trump could use her as another minister of misinformation if needed, but until then, she'll settle for something the President has plenty of, a set of Weasel ears
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Major League Baseball's Gold Gloves were handed out Tuesday. And the winners are.....

CATCHER
American League - Martin Maldonado, Angels (1)
National League - Tucker Barnhart, Reds (1)

FIRST BASE
AL - Eric Hosmer, Royals (4)
NL - Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks (3)

SECOND BASE
AL - Brian Dozier, Twins (1)
NL - DJ LeMahieu, Rockies (2)

SHORTSTOP
AL - Andrelton Simmons, Angels (3)
NL - Brandon Crawford, Giants (3)

THIRD BASE
AL - Evan Longoria, Rays (3)
NL - Nolan Arenado, Rockies (5)

LEFT FIELD
AL - Alex Gordon, Royals (5)
NL - Marcell Ozuna, Marlins (1)

CENTER FIELD
AL - Byron Buxton, Twins (1)
NL - Ender Inciarte, Braves (2)

RIGHT FIELD
AL - Mookie Betts, Red Sox (2)
NL - Jason Heyward, Cubs (5)

PITCHER
AL - Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays (1)
NL - Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks (4)

Let's just break this down:

AL:

The Royals, Angels, & Twins have 2 apiece. The World Series champion Astros were shut out, along with the Yankees. Don't worry. Everything will balance out once the rest of the awards are handed out.

NL: Arizona & Colorado each have 2, but nothing for the Dodgers or Mets? Figure the Dodgers' Cody Bellinger will be the NL Rookie of the Year, but the Mets will get Charlie Brown'd altogether after a horrible season.
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Condolences to the family of former Phillies & Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay, who was killed in a plane crash Tuesday. Halladay, a 2-time Cy Young winner, reached the World Series twice with Philadelphia, winning it all in 2008, but losing to the Yankees the next year.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Did Chachi steal some of Fonzie's tricks? (1981)

Dr. Pepper needed a new song & dance pitchman while David Naughton was off filming "An American Werewolf in London". So Scott Baio (Happy Days) was signed. Baio had some experience doing commercials before, having shilled for Honey Comb cereal a few years earlier.

Here, though, it looks as though Scott may be acting like he's playing his Days character of Chachi Arcola, who may have just gotten some of cousin Fonzie's gifts when it comes to snapping his fingers.....



Care to guess if this aired during Happy Days? It probably did.

Musical Interlude: Election Day (1985)

Duran Duran took a minor break between 1985-6, during which time the group split into two separate components. John & Andy Taylor joined forces with Robert Palmer and Chic drummer Tony Thompson to form the Power Station. Meanwhile, Simon LeBon & Nick Rhodes created Arcadia. Drummer Roger Taylor appeared on both projects' lone releases, but not in any of the music videos.

Fittingly, then, considering what today is on the calendar, we serve up the first single from Arcadia's lone CD, "So Red The Rose". Here's "Election Day".




Monday, November 6, 2017

Sports this 'n' that

We have reached the halfway point of the NFL season, and it seems the lone dominant force in either conference isn't the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots, but instead the resurgent Philadelphia Eagles, who are at 8-1 and atop the NFC East. There are so many teams at 6-2, including the Patriots, the Los Angeles Rams, and some of the usual suspects (Dallas, Pittsburgh).

Meanwhile, the calls for the Giants to sack head coach Ben McAdoo are getting louder after the Rams laid waste to the Giants, 51-17, on Sunday. There are those who think that Big Blue quit on their coach, chief among them NBC's Rodney Harrison and, closer to home, WNYT sports anchor Rodger Wyland, who contributes a short piece in the sports section of the Albany Times-Union, in addition to his morning radio show on WTMM-FM. Like, the once mighty Denver Broncos, in year 2 AP (After Peyton), also laid an egg on Sunday, giving up 53 to Philadelphia. It's not helping that the Broncos go home to play the Patriots next.

And what happened to Kansas City? The AFC West leaders have dropped 3 of their last 4, including a 28-14 loss Sunday to Dallas. The Chiefs have a bye next week, but play their next two games at the Meadowlands (Giants & Jets, in that order). Oakland is 2 back after beating Miami, and could still make the playoffs.
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Two Section II schools will host state football playoffs this weekend, which is a first for the home district, insofar as I know.

Troy will play Section 1 AA champ New Rochelle in a rematch of last year's quarters, but this time the Flying Horses could very well be the home team, as the game will be at Columbia High in East Greenbush on Friday night. Less than 24 hours later, Schuylerville will host a Class C quarterfinal between Holy Trinity and Ogdensburg Free Academy. OFA, in turn, hosts a B quarterfinal (Glens Falls vs. Gouvenour) on Friday. Class D champ Cambridge will play Moriah at Au Sable Valley High, also on Friday. All three defending champs from last year (Troy, Glens Falls, Cambridge) are looking to repeat the trek to Syracuse, where the state finals will be contested Thanksgiving weekend.

Meanwhile, Albany Academy, in their first season in the New England Prep School Athletic Council (NEPSAC), sits at 4-3 with one game to play, on the road. However, press coverage of the Cadets, due mostly to playing in NEPSAC, has been sparse, as local outlets seemingly can't be bothered to regularly cover the team's home games, the mentality being, apparently, that if they're not in Section II, why bother? The only other sport where the Cadets are on the outside is hockey, and they once were a Section II power there. Otherwise, Albany Academy is still a member of the Colonial Council in all other sports (Albany Academy for Girls is also in the Colonial Council).

My message to the local radio/TV outlets and newspapers is this. Lose the bias, and show these kids some respect!!
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The fans in Houston have been starving for a pro championship for practically forever, so when the Astros had their victory parade on Friday, there were a few jabronies that were bothered by the fact that pitcher Justin Verlander, a trade deadline acquisition from Detroit, was a no show. Well, he did have a very good reason. Verlander had picked last weekend in advance for his wedding to supermodel and video game sales doll Kate Upton. To the city as a whole, the World Series title is a catharsis in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, so why throw cold water on the party? Some folks just don't get it.
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For years, the marathons in Boston & New York have been almost exclusively won by athletes from Kenya or other African nations. On Sunday, Shalane Flanagan ended a long American drought in the race by winning the women's division. The Boston native was the first American female in 40 years (Miki Gorman won back-to-back NYC marathons in 1976-7) to win the event, and outkicked 3-time defending champion Mary Keitany (Kenya, naturally) to make history.

On the men's side, Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya crossed the finish line first. We won't hear about races like this again until they run in Boston in mid-April.

What Might've Been: Nero Wolfe (1977-9)

The late author Rex Stout, creator of Nero Wolfe, despised television. Since his passing in the mid-70's, Stout's classic sleuth has been adapted for television on a number of occasions.

Paramount acquired the rights first, and mounted a TV-movie, with character actor Thayer David as Wolfe, and Tom Mason as Archie Goodwin, Wolfe's trusted operative. However, ABC sat on the film for 2 years before it finally aired as an overnight offering in December 1979. By then, David had passed on himself, and the fact that the film was kept on the shelf for so long killed any chance of a possible series, although Paramount would do just that, 14 months after the movie aired. NBC, as previously reported, took a chance on Wolfe, with William Conrad, fresh from Cannon, in the title role.

The film aired earlier today on the Decades channel, which might just be the only cabler that has the gumption to run it. Burke's Law creator Frank Gilroy adapted & directed Stout's novel, The Doorbell Rang, and made the mistake of trying to remold Wolfe in the manner of his own sleuth, Amos Burke. You'll see what I mean.



David effected a serviceable mimic of Sydney Greenstreet, who starred as Wolfe on radio, but Gilroy's preference to make Wolfe more like Burke, or any other romantic sleuth, wasn't the brightest of ideas.

Rating: C.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Celebrity Rock: Sunshine on my Shoulders (The Muppet Show, 1978)

On a break from Charlie's Angels, Cheryl Ladd stops by The Muppet Show. The closing number has Cheryl performing a cover of John Denver's "Sunshine on my Shoulders", with a backing chorus building as the song plays, including Kermit, Rowlf, Scooter, and Fozzie.



You tend to forget that Cheryl began her career as a singer, and was one of the original singing voices for Josie & the Pussycats back in 1970. During her Angels run, Cheryl also landed a variety special for ABC that gave her a chance to return to her musical roots.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Musical Interlude: Superstar (2017)

Former NFL player Esera Tuaolo is a contestant on the current season of NBC's The Voice, coached by country singer Blake Shelton. Tuaolo, whose NFL career saw him play for Green Bay, Jacksonville, and Carolina, among others, began his singing career while with the Packers, performing "The Star Spangled Banner" in full uniform before a game in the early 90's.

For a recent episode of The Voice, Tuaolo reached back all the way to the late 60's-early 70's for a cover of "Superstar", made most famous by the Carpenters, and covered in later years by the late Luther Vandross. Seems Tuaolo is channeling Vandross on this 2 minute compact cover.



The Yahoo! article I read only acknowledged Vandross' version, but we know better, don't we?

In Theatres: Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Comics fans know that Thor Odinson, to use his full name, lost his hammer after he became unworthy to wield it, and it ended up in the hands of his ex-girlfriend, Jane Foster, who otherwise is battling cancer.

Jane doesn't figure into the latest "Thor" movie, as Natalie Portman was not interested in returning. Likewise, the Lady Sif (Jamie Alexander, Blindspot) is also MIA for "Thor: Ragnarok", which is equal parts epic genre drama and slapstick comedy. I'm not kidding.

Recall that in "Iron Man 3", Tony Stark's most famous nemesis, the Mandarin, was reduced to being an out-of-work actor (Ben Kingsley) essaying a part to make some easy money. Kingsley hammed it up, much to the dismay of long time hardcore Marvel fans. To me, "Iron Man 3" was a bit of a farce, more so than "Iron Man 2".

So, the 3rd "Thor" movie goes for the laughs as well, but somehow, it works. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns to Asgard after dispatching Surtur (voice of Clancy Brown), only to find that half-brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has usurped the throne, and is impersonating Odin (Anthony Hopkins). That is, until Thor exposes the scam for all to see. In due course, Thor & Loki return to Earth, and meet Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), who then sends them off to Norway, where Odin reveals that he is dying, and discloses that Hela, the Goddess of Death (Cate Blanchett) is, in fact, their sister, which really is not the case, as anyone who understands Norse mythology and/or Thor's Marvel history would know. Loki's scam, in effect, opened a virtual Pandora's Box by releasing Hela from her prison.

Thor is then sent to a faraway world where he ends up a gladiator for the amusement of the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum, chewing scenery in between Apartments.com commercials), and we find that Valkyrie is working for this goof. So, too, is the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), as this part of the story is taken from the pages of the green goliath's book, and grafted onto the core plot. Apparently, there wasn't enough money in the corporate budget to give Hulk another shot at a solo movie. Skurge, the Executioner (Karl Urban), better known to Marvel fans as the Enchantress' sidekick, is working first for the disguised Loki in the absence of Heimdall (Idris Elba), then for Hela, but that is fated not to last.

This trailer should help explain a few things.



A mid-credits teaser sets the stage, at least a little bit, for "Avengers: Infinity War", one of four Marvel movies on the docket for 2018.

Trailers:

"Justice League" (Nov. 15). Wonder Woman, Batman, and, inevitably, Superman, are joined by the Flash, Aquaman, & Cyborg. As with many of the comic book movies out there, this is based on the more recent reboots of the series, and not the original concept of the series, which was nearly 60 years ago, as DC decided to graduate Cyborg from the Teen Titans to the League 6 years ago.

"Roman J. Israel, Esq." (Nov. 22): Denzel Washington as an attorney facing a moral crisis.

"The Disaster Artist" (Dec. 8): Based on a real-life movie project that was SO bad, I don't think it ever got released.

"Downsizing" (Dec. 22): Matt Damon follows up "Suburbicon" was this fantasy about a man who willingly becomes 5 inches tall, but there's a catch. With Jason Sudekis and Kristen Wiig.

"Black Panther" (Feb. 16): Chadwick Boseman returns as T'Challa.

"Pacific Rim: Uprising" (March): Sequel to a surprisingly popular movie from a couple of years back.

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" (Dec. 15). Enough said.

"Thor: Ragnarok" gets an A-.


Friday, November 3, 2017

Wally & the Beaver shill for Corn Flakes (1982)

In the early 80's, Kellogg's embarked on an interesting ad campaign for Corn Flakes. Suggesting that the average consumer could turn up on the front of the box, the punch line, if you will, had a famous face appearing at the end of the spot. The campaign began in 1981 with the likes of Mickey Rooney, Don Knotts (at the time on Three's Company), and, in this 1982, Tony Dow & Jerry Mathers from Leave it to Beaver, reprising their roles as Wally and Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver (while the vintage pictures appeared on the box front).



The poster got the date wrong on the ad, as the barely legible copyright date at the end states this was, in fact, 1982.

High School Fridays: Troy vs. Saratoga (Class AA football Super Bowl), 11/3/17

After Saratoga QB Wes Eglintine did his best Tom Brady impersonation a week ago in leading the Blue Streaks past Shaker, Troy High knew they couldn't let him do that again.

Conversely, Saratoga coach Terry Jones knew that if his defense couldn't contain Troy's quick strike offense early in the Class AA Super Bowl, it was going to be a long, long night.

For the 2nd straight year, Troy was designated the road team for the Super Bowl, which was contested at Bob Ford Field at Thomas & Mary Casey Stadium at the University of Albany. Troy won the toss, and took the opening kickoff. Sure enough, they struck quickly, but senior receiver Dev Holmes was called for taunting, taking away what would've been the game's first score. Inevitably, Joey Ward punched it in from 5 yards out, and Troy was up, 7-0.

Late in the first quarter, Holmes atoned for his earlier gaffe. He took an end around 75 yards, and this time, he simply laid the ball in the end zone and ran back to the sidelines. Troy led, 14-0, after the first quarter.

Saratoga thought they had the Flying Horses pinned at their own 3 yard line halfway through the second quarter. Perish the thought, why don't you? QB Joe Casale marched his team down the field, 97 yards, capped with a 5 yard flip to Holmes. 21-0, Troy, at the break.

If there was anything that would've sabotaged the Horses' attempt at repeating as Section II champs, it would be a combination of penalties, due to a lack of team discipline, and a sudden rash of cramps to Casale, Ward, and other players. However, the Blue Streaks couldn't capitalize. They held the ball for much of the 3rd quarter, but couldn't score. Troy added one more score in the 4th quarter on Ward's 2nd TD of the game. Eglintine finally broke the shutout with a pass to Carter Steingraber with about 2 1/2 minutes left in the game, but the extra point was no good.

Steingraber feigned an onside kick, hoping to pin Troy deep or have the defense recover the kickoff for a quick score. Xavier Ward, Joey's brother, foiled the strategy, and put the Flying Horses in position to add one more score. However, Michael Fazio, who did the placekicking in place of the injured Jordan Audi, and took over for Casale for the final series of the game, took a knee at the Saratoga 5 with under a minute to go, and Troy advances to the state tournament, 28-6.

This year, the road to the state title game at the Syracuse Carrierdome starts closer to home. Troy will get to play one more game in their home district against the Section 1 winner next weekend, date and site to be determined. The winning streak is now at 23 in a row, and, overall, Troy is 32-1 in 3 seasons under Coach Bob Burns, whose next challenge comes Tuesday at the polls, as he's running for Rensselaer County Legislature. Something tells me a late groundswell of support carrying over from this game might get him his first political office. Just sayin'.

Forgotten TV: Crunch & Des (1956)

This one's for Hal Horn over at The Horn Section.

Hal, I think, is the biggest Forrest Tucker fan online, and I'm sure he'd be delighted to find that Tucker actually had a series under his belt before F-Troop, while still making movies.

Crunch & Des was a 1 year wonder, launching in syndication in the summer of 1956, and running for nearly 40 episodes. Capt. Crunch Adams (Tucker) owns and operates the charter boat Poseidon, along with his 1st mate and business partner, Desperate Smith (Sandy Kenyon). The Poseidon ends up being a destination for all kinds of mysteries in the course of the series.

To be honest, I think now I know why Tucker ended up being cast opposite Bob Denver in Dusty's Trail several years later. Just a guess, but if the producers didn't want to or couldn't reunite Denver with Alan Hale, Tucker would've been the next best foil, if you will. It's not that Kenyon was comedy relief totally, but....!

In "Hot Rod & Reel", the boys think they've come up with the find of the century, only for an opportunistic con man and killer to throw cold water on it all. Bob Hastings, in one of his earliest roles, is among the guest stars. The fight scene he has with Kenyon ain't exactly anything to write home about, but I don't think he had too many of those in his career, anyway.



Given that the Decades channel (check listings) has plumbed the vaults for obscurities lately, maybe this'll turn up sometime soon. It's worth the trip.

Rating: B.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Musical Interlude: Fare Thee Well (1960)

Ken Curtis made two appearances on Have Gun Will Travel, the last of which, in the 4th & final season, came in the episode, "Love's Young Dream". Curtis plays Monk, a trail bum who inherits a portion of a gambling house in San Francisco. All he needs now to make everything complete is the love of a woman.

The majority owner of the house isn't too fond, but, as you'll see, Monk wins her over with a rendition of "Fare Thee Well".



The poster misidentified the song, going only by other lyrics. And, yes, Curtis did have a few opportunities to sing in character as Festus on Gunsmoke. As you've seen, once he begins to sing, his character voice disappears to make way for the refined crooner. Kind of like Jim Nabors a few years later (Gomer Pyle USMC).

Sports this 'n' that

Congratulations to the Houston Astros on winning their first World Series.

Twelve years after getting swept by the Chicago White Sox, while the Astros were still a National League team, Houston defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in a seven-game thriller that should've meant beaucoup ratings for Fox.

It was, of course, all hands on deck in the final game of the season, and for the Dodgers, that meant ace Clayton Kershaw, the game 1 winner who was non-decisioned after going 4 2/3 in game 5 on Sunday, came back on two days rest to pitch 4 innings in relief. Starter Yu Darvish couldn't get out of the 2nd inning after giving up a home run to George Springer, and was tagged with the loss. Surely, this is not what the Dodgers had hoped for when they acquired Darvish in July.

I had read a headline online prior to the game where former Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda reportedly reamed out current skipper Dave Roberts, claiming that everything that Roberts has accomplished in two seasons in LA wouldn't mean anything if the Dodgers didn't finish the job. Please. I thought that sort of thing went out when George Steinbrenner passed away, considering the Yankees haven't made such impulsive moves in recent years until dismissing Joe Girardi last week. Lasorda is probably still spoiled by the success he enjoyed in the 70's & 80's with the Dodgers, and thinks the team is the NL's answer to the Yankees. Like, in the 21st century, it's okay to stop short. You pick yourself up and move forward. Period.

As for the Astros, as I've said all along, the next move would be to honor the Tri-City Valleycats, who had a few alumni (Springer, Jose Altuve, Dallas Keuchel, Joe Musgrove, Derek Fisher) on the Astros' roster this season, by bringing the championship trophy to Troy for another victory lap. The San Francisco Giants, whose roots lie in the Troy club of the 19th century and early 20th century, did that after winning in 2010. Now, it's Houston's turn.
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The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association should be ashamed of themselves.

Nine days ago, 16 year old Emily Nash competed against the boys in a tournament, and posted the lowest score of the day at 3 over par. Her school team finished 4th overall, and failed to qualify for the state tournament. Even more galling is the fact that the MIAA rules worked against Nash, denying her the first place trophy, which went instead to Nico Ciolino, who finished at 7 over par. Ciolino, being a sportsman, offered the trophy to Nash, who declined, though she appreciated the kind gesture.

Tournament director Kevin Riordan went on record as saying he's willing to buy a trophy for Nash to make up for the snub, but that's likely to be turned down, too. Nice idea, but a better one would be for the MIAA to amend its archaic rules so that this doesn't happen again. The MIAA, despite Riordan's attempt at a mea culpa, gets the Weasel ears this week.
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The NFL trade deadline came on Halloween, and for some teams, it really was trick or treat.

Carolina must not think they'll make the playoffs, so they sent receiver Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo. All that does is strengthen the Bills' receiving corps. Benjamin likely could make his Bills debut tonight vs. the Jets.

Miami, in 3rd place in the AFC East, chasing both New England and Buffalo, dealt running back Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia, where the NFC East leaders now can pair Ajayi with ex-Patriot LeGarrette Blount. Yes, that also makes the Eagles stronger, and more of a lock to win their division.

In a real head scratcher, the Super Bowl champs, perhaps catering to the ego of QB Tom Brady, dealt shipped Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco, then pulled Brian Hoyer off the scrap heap. Ironically, Hoyer had been released by---wait for it---San Francisco after being benched. Hoyer returns to New England, the team that drafted him in the first place, but he knows he won't get too many snaps, even in a blowout, because of Brady's ego demanding that he pad his stats as much as possible.

Meanwhile, while the Bills, Eagles, & Niners were given treats, the Jests were tricked, in a way. It was reported on Wednesday that WR/KR Jeremy Kerley, on his 2nd tour of duty with Gang Green, was suspended by the NFL. At the time, the reason for the suspension and the length of the ban were unknown. The Jests feel like Charlie Brown anyway, since they didn't make any deals to improve the status of the team to compensate for losing Kerley for however long this will be.

Then again, the front office probably gets virtual rocks from everyone else every year, anyway. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Forgotten TV: Going My Way (1962)

Revue Studios (now Universal) had acquired the rights to Bing Crosby's 1944 film, "Going My Way" through a little-known subsidiary, EMKA, Ltd., which, if you look close, also held the rights to The Virginian after acquiring them from Screen Gems. Anyway, Revue decided to adapt Going My Way into a hour-long comedy-drama for ABC in the fall of 1962.

By 1962, Crosby had his own production company, which had produced Breaking Point and Ben Casey, the latter airing on Tuesdays on ABC. I'm not sure if he had negotiated to try to acquire the rights to Going My Way, but had he done so, there is no guarantee it would've fared any better than it did.

As it was, the series was given to sitcom producers Joe Connolly & Bob Mosher (Leave it to Beaver, Calvin & The Colonel), but Going My Way wasn't a Kayro-Vue production, unlike their other series. Revue cast Gene Kelly in Crosby's role as Father O'Malley, with Leo G. Carroll (ex-Topper) as Father Fitzgibbon. Dick York, two years away from Bewitched, was cast as Tom Colwell, a boyhood pal of O'Malley's who ran a neighborhood youth center. York had been established as a character actor who'd appeared in "Inherit The Wind" and The Twilight Zone, among his pre-Bewitched credits.

Like Calvin, Going My Way lasted just 1 season, airing in back of Revue stablemate Wagon Train,with the last 1/3 of Virginian airing opposite the first half of Way. The primary competition, however, came from CBS' Beverly Hillbillies.

Let's take a look at the episode, "Hear No Evil". Richard Long guests as a hearing-impaired attorney. James Doohan makes a brief appearance as an attendant.



Even though this lasted just the one season, with 30 episodes, I wonder if Universal would let it out of the vaults and let some cabler take a chance on it.

No rating.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

What Might've Been: Ripcord (1961)

Most folks associate producer Ivan Tors with mid-60's shows like Flipper, Gentle Ben, Daktari, Jambo, & Cowboy in Africa, or Lloyd Bridges' Sea Hunt. Tors also worked with Ziv on another adventure series that was a little, well, uncommon for its time.

Ripcord tells the tale of two men who deliver goods and services by air, and the various dangers they face on the job. Larry Pennell may be better known to most for his recurring gig as actor Dash Riprock on The Beverly Hillbillies than his work here. Of course, actor-singer Ken Curtis is better known for his lengthy stint on Gunsmoke as deputy Festus Hagen, and as a result, is unrecognizable here.

After a few episodes, actor-comic Shug Fisher, who also spent some time on Hillbillies, Gunsmoke, and a few other shows, and, like Curtis, was an on-again, off-again member of the Sons of the Pioneers, was on board as a pilot.

Speaking of pilots, the unaired pilot, "The Skydivers", with guest star Russell Johnson, is up, but before that, Tors offers a little insight on skydiving and the conception of Ripcord.



Rating: B.

Monday, October 30, 2017

What Might've Been: Van Dyke & Company (1976)

After being associated with CBS his entire career, Dick Van Dyke moved to NBC in 1976, but his comedy-variety series, Van Dyke & Company, failed, and not for a lack of trying. It just happened that NBC had it on the wrong night and/or at the wrong time.

First, the show aired at 10 (ET), which on Thursdays meant it was opposite a pair of competing Quinn Martin crime dramas, Barnaby Jones and Streets of San Francisco. But, after Gemini Man, a reworking of Harve Bennett's adaptation of The Invisible Man, flopped, Van Dyke was moved into the 8 pm (ET) berth, opposite The Waltons and ABC's sitcom combo of Welcome Back, Kotter & Barney Miller. Ballgame over.

Creatively, Van Dyke & Company seemed to be in capable hands, too, with veteran producer Allan Blye at the helm, partnered with Bob Einstein, whose alter ego of Super Dave Osborne was a regular on the show. The repertory company also included eccentric performance artist/comedian Andy Kaufman in one of his first TV gigs. Blye's former partner, Chris Bearde, was collaborating with Chuck Barris on The Gong Show at the time.

The title card offers a sketch of Van Dyke that recalls his impersonation of comedy legend Stan Laurel. Meanwhile, this sample episode offers a reunion with Mary Tyler Moore, and Carl Reiner is also featured.



In my house, Thursdays meant CBS or ABC, depending on what the parents wanted to watch, which was usually a mixed bag, including Barney Miller and Streets. No rating.

Singing while you work? (1971)

Remember this McDonald's ad?



The cast included John Amos, whose resume includes Good Times, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and the original Roots, and Johnny Haymer, later of M*A*S*H. Someone on YouTube assumed the youngest looking member of this crew was future Happy Days co-star Anson Williams, but the guy doesn't get enough face time.

Most of today's McDonald's employ teens & 20-somethings, but you're not going to see the ad agency for McDonald's try to recreate this spot with a hip hop beat. They would've already done it by now.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Spook Rock: Sittin' Up With The Dead (1990)

Leave it to Ray Stevens to provide some musical levity as we draw closer to Halloween. From 1990's "Lend Me Your Ears", here's "Sittin' Up With The Dead", and we don't mean the Grateful Dead.

Sports this 'n' that

It appears that, for one week at least, The Record was able to actually interview Troy High football coach Bob Burns and star players Joe Casale & Joey Ward after Troy decimated Shenendehowa on Friday, 50-14. Maybe it was the choice of reporter that had something to do with it, as Stan Hudy (& the Blowfish) was assigned the game, rather than Sam Blum, whose attempt at old school muckraking journalism back in March got him in hot water with THS administration. Maybe the icebreaker came a week earlier, after women's soccer coach Justin Haviland, a biology teacher, was named a Master Teacher by Governor Cuomo, and was subsequently interviewed by the hometown paper. In any event, it's great to see that wiser, cooler heads have finally prevailed.
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ESPN radio/televison trouble magnet Stephen A. Smith is at it again.

Smith, on his radio show, got on Cleveland Cavaliers star J. R. Smith about wearing a Nike-issued hoodie, which passes for a NBA warmup jacket these days, on the bench during a recent game. J. R. Smith took to Twitter to rip into the Cosell-wannabe. My message to "Screamin' A", who gets a Dunce Cap for his blatant on-air stupidity, is just be a journalist, not a wannabe member of the Fashion Police. In other words, shut up.
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Game 1 of the World Series may have been a bit of an anomaly, considering how slow the pace of play has been of late, despite Major League Baseball's attempts to speed up the game. Tuesday's opener was completed in just under 2 1/2 hours, but each of the last three games have gone 3 hours-plus. Well, game 2 couldn't be helped, as that went 11 innings before Houston won.

Game 1 starters Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles) & Dallas Keuchel (Houston) are rematched tonight. Can we hope for an encore?
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Some things never change in college sports around these parts.

Union swept a home-&-home hockey series vs. RPI the last two nights, and have owned the Engineers on the ice in recent years. They'll meet again later this season for their annual visit to the Times-Union Center, but only one of these teams will likely still be playing come March. Care to guess which one? The schools' football teams will meet in a couple of weeks in the annual battle for the Dutchmen's Shoes at Union's Frank Bailey Field, and both are doing very well this season. Hmmmm.

After playing at UAlbany's SEFCU Arena last year, Siena will welcome the Great Danes back to the T-U Center next month for their annual basketball game. There's been some griping in recent years since the game almost always is played at T-U Center, mostly because the venue is much bigger, but with the new Capitol Center just up the hill, maybe the Danes could rent that for a home game next year?
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This is just too good to resist:



On Senior night in Atlee, Virginia, Sepp Shirey, who is playing despite Cerebral Palsy, was playing his last varsity game in front of the home fans. Varina High had a big lead, so they could afford a little charity, and helped escort Shirey to the end zone, cheering him on.

Proof positive that anyone can triumph over adversity.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Old Time Radio: Can You Top This? (1940)

Vaudeville comedian "Senator" Edward Ford claimed he came up with the idea of Can You Top This?, which began as a regional radio program in New York in 1940, then went national when the series left WOR-AM for the NBC network 2 years later. Ford, along with Joe Laurie, Jr., and cartoonist Harry Hirschfield, were the regular panelists, and continued with the first television version, which ran on ABC in the early 50's.

However, there was a similar series, Stop Me If You Heard This One, which launched a year or so earlier, which actually makes Top a bit derivative.

Judge for yourselves, as we listen to a 1942 episode that leads with "Restaurants".



After the ABC-TV series failed, Four Star picked up the rights for a syndicated version that ran in 1970 (previously covered), with Wink Martindale as host/announcer, and Morey Amsterdam (ex-The Dick Van Dyke Show) as not only a panelist, but executive producer as well. However, this version lasted less than a year.

Rating: B.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Musical Interlude: It's All Been Done (1999)

Like, this is worth an entry in the X-Files, eh?

Canada's Barenaked Ladies were booked for The Tonight Show to perform the single, "It's All Been Done", off the CD, "Stunt". X-Files star David Duchovny sits in with the band. Where was Jay Leno? His intro was edited off.



This is even cooler than the actual video the band shot for the track, which uses a bird's eye view---literally, as well as a cat's, and a dog's.

High School Fridays: Shenendehowa @ Troy (football), 10/27/17

The last time Shenendehowa and Troy met in a playoff game was 2010. Troy won, and went on to reach the state final, only to fall short of a championship.

The last time the two teams met, prior to tonight, was Week 1 last year, in Troy's home opener. That was the game that started Troy's current winning streak.

Thus, as Brian Clawson brought the Plainsmen back to Troy for a Class AA semi-final game, a berth in the Super Bowl wasn't the only thing on the agenda. A modicum of revenge would be nice.

Unfortunately, Shen went home with some embarrassing parting gifts.

In the first quarter, both teams found the going a little rough, until Troy's Joe Casale found Dev Holmes in the corner of the end zone. Holmes beat two defenders, and Troy had a 7-0 lead. On Shen's next possession, Holmes picked off Plainsmen QB Brandon Belott. On the next play, Casale hit Joey Ward for a 25 yard TD to make it 14-0. Ward was back in the lineup after missing last week's game due to disciplinary issues related more to academics than anything on the field.

Ward ran for two more scores in the 2nd quarter, and had a 3rd called back on a holding penalty. As it was, Troy went into the break with a 28-0 lead. At that point, most of the Troy fans decided to head home, not because they were confident the hosts would win again, but because of the cold weather.

Shen finally got on the board in the 3rd quarter, as Belott found Devon Disonell in the end zone. On the next possession, Casale hurled his 3rd TD pass of the game, this one to Avery Curley, to make it 42-7, headed into the final stanza.

Belott narrowed the margin by tossing a TD strike to James Altenberger to make it 42-14. Unfortunately, after a Troy turnover, Clawson stuck with Belott one series too long, and Troy's defense made him pay for it with interest. Derrick Cipriani picked off Belott at the Shen 1 yard line and took it the distance for a 99 yard pick-six. Michael Fazio then hit Michael Ragone for a 2 point conversion to put a bow on this one, as Troy gallops back to the AA Super Bowl, 50-14.

The next stop for Troy is Bob Ford Field at UAlbany, site of this year's Super Bowl, where they'll face Empire division champ Saratoga, which beat Shaker, 29-22. This will give Troy a fresh matchup, rather than a 4th meeting in 2 years against Shaker. Since returning to Class AA last year, Troy hasn't played Saratoga, but that will change next Friday.

Sports this 'n' that

We'll say this for the Mets and the Boston Red Sox. They're willing to take a chance on a first-time manager for 2018, rather than hit the recycling bin.

Boston tapped Houston bench coach Alex Cora as their new skipper, while the Mets poached Mickey Calloway away from Cleveland, where he'd been Terry Francona's pitching coach the last few years. Now all the Mets need is a new pitching coach, although some might think that bullpen coach Ricky Bones is the front-runner for that gig. Cleveland reportedly reached out to Carl Willis, who was in Boston as John Farrell's pitching coach, to succeed Calloway, but what are the chances of Farrell, who pitched for the Indians back in the day, reuniting with Francona?

Meanwhile, Washington is looking for a new manager after Dusty Baker's 2-year run ended with another NLDS exit. Philadelphia is looking to replace Pete Mackanin, who's already being mentioned as a possible successor to Joe Girardi with the Yankees. Girardi led the overachieving Yanks to the ALCS, capping a 10 year run that saw only 1 World Series title over that span (2009).

I think the trend now in MLB is to find younger, fresher voices in the clubhouse to run the team, which is why Dave Roberts, in his 2nd year in Los Angeles, has the Dodgers in the World Series.
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We're down to 4 teams in the Section II Class AA football playoffs, and now we know where the game will be played next week.

Section II officials announced yesterday that the title game will be played at the University at Albany's Thomas & Mary Casey Stadium (Bob Ford Field) next Friday night. We'll know by the end of business tonight who will represent Class AA in the Super Bowl among Shaker, Saratoga, Shenendehowa, and defending champion Troy. UAlbany last hosted the AA Super Bowl three years ago, and, as we noted previously, RPI chose not to host the game this year, citing a scheduling conflict, but an RPI employee who's a regular at Troy games thinks there's something else that RPI's not disclosing. Business as usual in that section of the hometown. RPI's senior day is November 4, so maybe they wanted to reserve the field for that?
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So far, the NBA season is playing out just as most of us feared. Every Lakers game is being over-analyzed because of rookie Lonzo Ball and his overbearing parasite of a father, LaVar. Can you imagine the worst stage parent on the planet in New York when the Lakers play Brooklyn and the Knicks? The tabloids would have a field week.

I haven't seen Lonzo play yet, don't care to. In this writer's opinion, he should still be in school, just like a lot of other "one & done" so-called phenoms who listen to the leeches surrounding them and are convinced they're ready for the big time when in some cases, they're not. For every LeBron James, for example, there are about a dozen or so who fall too far below the radar and are out of the league in less than five years. LaVar Ball claims he could beat Michael Jordan? Utter fallacy coming from a delusional old man living vicariously through his sons.

News flash: The Lakers will be lucky if they make the playoffs. Just sayin'.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Look who's shilling for Head & Shoulders (1970's)

Mid-70's icons Farrah Fawcett (later of Charlie's Angels) and Penny Marshall (who had a recurring gig on brother Garry's The Odd Couple around the time this ad was produced) play roommates in this commercial for Head & Shoulders shampoo. Today, Procter & Gamble alternates between Sofia Vergara (Modern Family) and Giants receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. as their celebrity endorsers.

Now, if anyone can ascertain when this ad was done---definitely before 1976, I think---please share.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Fats Domino (1928-2017)

Antoine "Fats" Domino passed away within the last 24 hours at 89, leaving behind a legacy of classic hits from the early years of rock & roll music.

Beginning in the late 50's, Domino cranked out hits like "Ain't That a Shame", "Blueberry Hill", "I'm Walkin'", and "Walking to New Orleans", playing the piano. "Blueberry" was really a cover of a 1940's song that had previously been recorded by country legend Gene Autry and jazz icon Louis Armstrong, among others.

Domino, it can be said, paved the way for 70's R & B icon Barry White, who, like Domino, played the piano and was of similar size & stature.

Let's take a trip back to 1958 and the weekday edition of American Bandstand, as Domino performs a medley of his earliest hits.



Rest in peace.

Remember Squoze lemonade mix? (1976)

Once upon a time, Pillsbury tried to be more than just bisquits and dinner rolls, but their other products have gradually fallen by the wayside.

Take for example Squoze lemonade drink mix, which came out in the mid-70's. The advertising promoted that the product contained half the sugar of regular lemonade.

Veteran actor John Stephenson is the voice behind the talking lemon.



Unfortunately, just like their other drink mixes (i.e. Funny Face), Pillsbury failed to crack the sales numbers of General Foods' Kool-Aid and Crystal Light, and Squoze was gone in short order.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A Classic Reborn: The Joker's Wild (2017)

A few years ago, MTV commissioned an urban reboot of Hollywood Squares, but Hip Hop Squares is currently in drydock after relaunching earlier this year on VH1 with DeRay Davis (ex-Mind of a Man)

Sony, which owns the rights to Squares, also owns the rights to some of the late Jack Barry's properties, including The Joker's Wild, and decided this, too, needed a hip hop backdrop. With former Hip Hop Squares host Peter Rosenberg unavailable (currently working part-time with WWE), Sony could've gotten just about anyone.

Well, wait just one minizzle.

Snoop Dogg gets the call for the 21st century reboot of Joker, serving as host and co-executive producer. Snoop (Calvin Broadus) has copped to being a fan of the original Joker growing up, may be indulging in a little vanity action, since some of the categories, mini-games included, are built around him (i.e. "Six Degrees of Snoop"). Fellow rapper Wiz Khalifa and actor-producer Seth Rogen (Preacher) are among the celebrity contributors to the new series, and because of some of the content in the questions, now you know why this Joker airs as late as it does, at 10 pm (ET), coupled with James Corden's new series, Drop The Mic, and leading into Conan.

Sure, this game is being played for laughs, but there's nothing funny about Snoop's sexy sidekick, Jeanne Mai, billed as Lady Luck. Barry probably would've gotten more mileage out of the original series if he had someone like her.

Consider, too, that one of television's busiest personalities, Michael Strahan (The $100,000 Pyramid, Fox NFL Sunday, Good Morning America) is another co-executive producer, and likely will also be a guest contributor.

Let's take a look at a promo.



In the opener, Snoop managed to slip in a line from one of his earliest hits, "Gin & Juice" in briefing viewers on the rules of the game. I think now my Tuesdays are complete.

Rating: A.

Celebrity Rock: "Benson" grooves with Gladys Knight & the Pips! (1984)

Now, this is a classic pairing.

From Benson:

Benson (Robert Guillaume) performs a duet with Gladys Knight, backed, of course, by the Pips. As it turns out, Guillaume's son, Kevin, wrote "What Are Friends For?".



In memory of Robert Guillaume, who passed away today, five weeks shy of his 90th birthday, from prostate cancer.