Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A few more sports quickies

This ad (click pic to enlarge) appeared in last week's Sports Illustrated.  With apologies to all you grieving New York Mets fans out there, methinks we need a little White-Out here...

Just wanted to share this little nugget that was e-mailed to me by a fellow owner in my Yahoo Fantasy Football League (Yahoo being the operative word here), the grammar and punctuation of which I have not altered at all:

"The commish deleted my post and locked me.  This guy runs his league like a Nazi Concentration Camp, if you disagree or have a different opinion than he does, your through.  Watch your back Hitler has a Knife and he is prepared to use it."

It's fuckers like him that take all the fun out of fantasy sports and have me truly reconsidering my participation in this activity these days.  Evidently, our Commissionera very honorable guy I know well and once worked with (and a staunch conservative, no less!)disallowed a trade this goomer wanted to make (and rightfully so), and as often happens within computer-based fantasy leagues, this asshole hides behind his cute little screen name ("Dawg Pound") and proceeds to call him every name in the book just because he didn't get his way.  My guess is "Dawg" is probably in his forties and still living in his parents' basement...

Hockey season is upon us, once again.  The regular season got underway over the weekend as the Anaheim Mighty Quacks and L.A. Kings played a pair of games across the big pond in London, and tonight things got underway stateside and north of the border with a handful of games.  I truly hope the NHL can reclaim its former glory and cease being the butt of so many snide remarks from the talking heads at ESPN (aka "Poker Central") like Tony Cornholio (Kornheiser) and others.  Yes, the league took a major hit with the 2004-05 labor stoppage, and their TV presence ain't what it should be, but it's still a wonderful sport to watch, and deserves a lot more respect than what it's getting these days.  I sure don't hear anything in the NHL about steroids, dog-fighting or referees that cheat...

And in a hopeful development, it seems that the tentative lease deal reached by the Nashville Predators to allow them to remain in Music City earlier this year is beginning to unravel like baseball's Milton Bradley, thus raising the chances of the team relocating to K.C. for the 2008-09 season.  The puck may well stop here, after all...

X Gets The Square

A mere three months into my first tour of duty as a lowly Private in the Kiss Army, I was glued to the TV on October 29, 1976 when the band made its first-ever appearance on prime-time network TV on ABC’s semi-legendary "Paul Lynde Halloween Special".  Edited versions of the Kiss segments were already available on their Kissology-Vol. I DVD set, but now the entire one-hour show has been released on DVD, so just for shits and hoots, I rented it this week.

This show aired back in the day when entertainers—actors, comedians, singers, whatever—would often host these one-shot variety show specials on network TV, especially during the almighty ratings sweeps periods.  Paul Lynde was still a fairly big name in ’76 on the strength of his work on "Hollywood Squares" and various other TV sitcoms, but I'm afraid to say that after seeing the whole program again for the first time in 31 years, this thing was a total train wreck!  I can also safely say that Kiss was far and away the only decent part of it, even after putting aside my bias as a dyed-in-the-wool Kiss fan—and even their performance was pretty watered-down here.  I’d forgotten how gratingly hokey shows like these could be!  Cornball skits, lame one-liners, gaudy costumes, hackneyed dance numbers—this show had it all, in best ‘70s Captain & Tennille/Donny & Marie tradition.  The latter duo made a brief cameo appearance here on Lynde’s little "spookfest", along with the usual '70s game show/variety show denizens like Betty White, Florence Henderson and Tim Conway, plus Billy Barty, Billie "Witchypoo" Hayes and Margaret "Wicked Witch of the West" Hamilton, and for no particular reason, the gal who played Pinky Tuscadero (for all of what, three episodes?) on "Happy Days". Paul Lynde was certainly a lot funnier in his element on "Squares" than he was on this show, which made him look rather foolish.

As bad as the feature presentation was, the DVD made up for that with a 10-minute special bonus interview with recollections from "Squares" host Peter Marshall about PL's career that also featured some great still photos from HS and some funny anecdotes from Marshall.  Unlike today’s still-born version of "Hollywood Squares" that features "celebrities" like Bruce Vilanch and Gilbert Gottfried, the ‘60s/’70s HS was the one game show that managed to regularly draw A-List personalities to appear on it like Burt Reynolds, George C. Scott and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and as I previously posted on this blog, it’s a crying shame most of those old videotapes were either destroyed or re-used for other shows.  Not only was HS a classic game show, but it also provided a nice time capsule of who was who in the entertainment world during that era.  And, as Officer Hopkins on "Sanford And Son" once pointed out, where else on earth would one find "the great Jack Webb...sitting on top of Karen Valentine"?  The DVD also features some of Paul Lynde’s classic quips from the show, which were pretty funny stuff, as well as still photos from throughout his career and appearances on other game shows like "Baffle", which aired for one season in 1973-74.  I’d even totally forgotten that show was hosted by legendary sportscaster Dick Enberg, too.

According to Marshall (who, btw, was born Pierre LaCock and is the father of former Major Leaguer Pete LaCock), they would tape all of the "Squares" shows for a given week on the same day—three shows before lunch and two after, and just like with "Match Game", alcohol was readily available for the show’s celebrity panelists’ consumption, thus the verbal barbs—particularly those from Lynde, a prolific alcoholic—were just a tad more pointed on the Thursday and Friday episodes.  Lynde was a fairly mean drunk too, and he was known to take pot shots at other guests on the show whom he didn’t like, and even actual contestants who he deemed to be total morons.  Ironically, Paul Lynde died in January, 1982—about a year or so after he got clean and sober and started taking care of himself.  You don't suppose his casket was provided by Dicker & Dicker of Beverly Hills, do you?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Top 50 Songs From The '50s (That Weren't Done by Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry or Budy Holly)--Part II

25) "I Walk The Line"—JOHNNY CASH (1956)  The Man In Black’s Top 40 debut, recorded at the mighty Sun Records studio in Memphis.  It was quite an honor for me earlier this year to be able to stand in the very same room that this and many other legendary songs were recorded and soak in all that music history.
24) "Tutti-Frutti"—LITTLE RICHARD (1956)  I can state with great certainty that Brother Richard’s version of this one is far superior to Pat Boone’s.
23) "I’m Walkin’"—FATS DOMINO (1957)  The best of Antoine Domino’s pedestrian-themed songs, along with “Walkin’ To New Orleans” and “I Want To Walk You Home”.
22) "Blue Suede Shoes"—CARL PERKINS (1956)  CP’s career was forever derailed by a car accident that laid him up in the hospital for quite a while just after this one came out, and EP came along and stole his thunder with his even more famous version of it.
21) "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?"—FRANKIE LYMON (1956)  Future junkie and alleged polygamist Frankie Lymon had one helluva falsetto until his voice changed during pooberty.
20) "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes"—THE PLATTERS (1958)  “They asked me how I knew--her brassiere was blue…”  ’Nuff said!
19) "Charlie Brown"—THE COASTERS (1958)  Not to be confused with the Charles M. Schulz comic strip character of the same name, but a guy who evidently got picked on every bit as often.
18) "A Thousand Miles Away"—THE HEARTBEATS (1957)  Doo-wop classic that makes creative use of the phrase “rat-a-tat” in the backing vocals.
17) "Speedo"—THE CADILLACS (1955)  Mr. Earl sings early prequel to Kiss’ 1976 tune “Mr. Speed”.
16) "Rip It Up"—LITTLE RICHARD (1956)  Oft-covered LR classic that features the line “wanna ball it up”, which somehow got by the censors and all the uptight religious conservative pinheads of that era.
15) "Ain’t That A Shame"—FATS DOMINO (1955)  This song’s official title is “Ain’t It a Shame.”  Ain’t no shame at all, actuallygreat song, no matter whether Fats or Cheap Trick does it.
14) "Rebel Rouser"—DUANE EDDY (1958)  Outstanding twangy instrumental that was the perfect accompaniment to the “Run, Forrest, Run” scene in Forrest Gump.
13) "What’d I Say?" (Parts 1 & 2)—RAY CHARLES (1959)  Brother Ray was one of the first to use an electric piano in his recordings, and this song was way ahead of its time.
12) "Rock A-Beatin’ Boogie"—BILL HALEY & HIS COMETS (1955)  Haley’s songs had a habit of all kinda sounding the same (particularly the backing tracks), but this one stands out for me, for some reason.
11) "Party Doll"—BUDDY KNOX (1957)  Not to be confused with the slightly more famous Buddy from this era, Mr. Knox scored a big hit with this catchy little tune, featuring a great guitar solo, which was still a rarity back then.
10) "Come On, Let’s Go"—RITCHIE VALENS (1958)  I’m still not sold on RV deserving to be in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame—I think his induction was based more on potential than Ritchie’s actual achievements during his truncated eight-month career—but this song cooks from the get-go.  Los Lobos did him proud with their excellent 1987 version for La Bamba too.
9) "The Battle Of Kookamonga"—HOMER & JETHRO (1959)  Well over two decades before Weird Al came along, the art of the music parody was already born in the form of this duo who lampooned Johnny Horton’s hit “The Battle of New Orleans” from earlier in ‘59.  A veritable Dr. Demento classic, indeed.
8) "I Only Have Eyes For You"—THE FLAMINGOS (1959)  Rather trippy doo-wop belly-rubber song that features the mysterious “guh-budge-uh-buh” backing vocal bit.  I suspect this was quite the make-out favorite back in the day too…
7) "Come Go With Me"—DEL-VIKINGS (1957)  Is there any song more quintessentially ‘50s than this one?  “Dom-dom-dom-dom,” indeed!
6) "The Big Beat"—FATS DOMINO (1958)  One listen to his greatest hits CD revealed to me that there’s a helluva lot more to the Fat Man than just “I‘m Walkin‘” and “Blueberry Hill”, and this song is my favorite of everything he’s done.  I’m just thankful that Richie Cunningham or (even worse) Potsie Webber never sang this one…
5) "Stranded In The Jungle"—THE CADETS (1956)  One of the funniest and most creative songs of any era, let alone the primitive ‘50s.  “Meanwhile, back in the States…”
4) [Tie] "Good Golly Miss Molly" (1958)/"Keep-A-Knockin’"—LITTLE RICHARD (1957) Two classic screamers from Mr. Penniman that I can’t choose one over the other, so they’re in a dead heat.  The former also inexplicably snuck past the censors with the line “sure like to ball”, and the latter, while poorly recorded, is a sassy little attitude piece that just cooks.
3) "Since I Don’t Have You"—THE SKYLINERS (1959)  Lovely ballad that just glides along like a Lincoln Continental, featuring outstanding vocals by this group from Pittsburgh, of all places.  Oddly enough, this one only got to #12 on the Billboard charts.
2) "Little Darlin’"—THE DIAMONDS (1957)  Doo-wop, Canuck-style!  These guys were from Toronto, and hit the Top 40 numerous times, but only scored three truly big hits, ”The Stroll”, a version of The Rays’ “Silhouettes” that hit the Top 10, and this classic, which features the entire vocal range from bass to falsetto.
1) "Get A Job"—THE SILHOUETTES (1958)  Speaking of doo-wop, they don’t get no better than this one, which is the epitome of the genre.  The group Sha Na Na no doubt took their name from this song.  I wonder why no one took the name “Ba-Doom”…

A few sports quickies

Congrats to the Philthadelphia Phillies for overtaking the New York Mets on the season's final day to win the National League East division, after the Metropolitans blew a 7-game lead with 17 games to go.  Gotta give it up to the Phightin' Phils for keeping their collective eyes on the prize, even after getting off to a miserable start this season, then getting within a couple games of the Mets after sweeping them in a four-game series near the end of August, but slipping back almost immediately afterwards.  Even though the Mets are a New York team, I don't hate them nearly as much as the Yankees, but this shit is still pretty funny...

Similar kudos to the Colorado Rockies for charging back from out of nowhere, winning even more games the last couple weeks than there are letters in Tulowitski (13 of their last 14, actually), to force a one-game playoff against the San Diego Padres tonight at Coors Field in Denver.  Between the Rockies' recent success and the Colorado Buffaloes' shocking upset of Oklahoma on Saturday, the mighty Denver Broncos have been relegated to third-string on the Rocky Mountain sports depth chart, which is no mean feat.  The Rockies are managed by former K.C. Royal Clint Hurdle, who was a big rookie pheenom in the late '70s—the "next George Brett", if you will—but he was done in by the dreaded "SI curse" when he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and his playing career fizzled rather quickly. They should put more Yankees on the cover of SI, come to think of it...

That would be the Kansas City Chefs, as I still refer to them, but another performance or two like they put on yesterday in San Diego, and I might just start calling them the "Chiefs" again.  It took them a while to kick it into gear, but da Chefs owned the Chargers in the second half and won 30-16, and were sparked by rookie Dwayne Bowe's 164-yard receiving yards.  With Denver and Oakland also at 2-2, things may not be so desolate for this team after all...

While watching ESPN's pregame show tonight, I couldn't help but wonder why on earth it requires no less than three different teams of announcers to cover "Monday Night Football".  First, we have Chris Berman, Tom Jackson, Bill Parcells, et al, in the studio, then there's the ever-irritating Stuart "I Must Constantly Remind You I'm A Brotha" Scott, Steve Young, etc., at the stadium, and finally, Mike "Sexual Harrasser" Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Tony Cornholio—er uh—Kornheiser in the booth during the game itself, along with not one, but two, sideline reporters—Michelle Tafoya and Mountain Dew adrenaline junkie Suzi Kolber.  Back in the good ol' days, all they needed was Frank, Howie and Dandy Don for MNF instead of this ridiculous flotilla of personalities assigned to cover one freakin' game!  ESPN doesn't seem to realize that bigger isn't necessarily better.