Yes, I’ve been watching Midnight Cowboy again…
NORM VAN LIER, 1947-2009/JOHNNY "RED" KERR, 1932-2009
Former NBA All-Star Norm Van Lier was found dead Thursday in Chicago. Along with Jerry Sloan, Chet Walker and Bob Love, Van Lier was part of the nucleus of those Bulls teams of the early/mid-‘70s that were perennial playoff contenders but couldn’t quite get over the hump. I remember having an intense dislike for “Stormin’ Norman” whenever he played against our dreaded Kansas City-Omaha Kings because of his hard-nosed style of play—your basic Dennis Rodman without the piercings, tattoos and day-glo hair—and he always seemed to be starting shit with one of our players or lipping off to one of the refs. He was a fan favorite at the old Chicago Stadium, though, and I learned to respect him a lot more as an NBA analyst via his appearances on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike In The Morning” radio show.
My brother from another mother, Randy Raley, posted a very interesting quote from NVL that sheds even more light about his on-court modus operandi: “I primarily play defense, and to me, that means that if keep my player from catching the ball and scoring, I have done my job. If my player scores an average of 16 points a game and he only gets 3 on me, that means I've scored 13 points that you will never see in the box score. I not only don't want my guy to score, I'll work my hardest to make sure he doesn't touch the ball." Guess he wasn’t such a dastardly villain after all—just a smart and dedicated player. Oddly enough, Van Lier could easily have been a KC-O King, as he began his career with the Cincinnati Royals, but was traded to the Bulls the year before the Royals moved here (and Omaha).
Thursday was a bad one all-around for Bulls fans, as their longtime TV color analyst (and the franchise’s first head coach) Johnny “Red” Kerr also passed away later in the day, although not unexpectedly, as he’d been suffering from pancreatic cancer for quite some time. Kerr had a pretty good NBA career as a center-forward, mostly with the Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers in the early and mid-’60s. I don’t know all that much about Red’s announcing style, but I gather he was the Bulls’ equivalent of Harry Caray—part announcer/part cheerleader. Sad day in Chi-town, indeed.
WENDY RICHARD, 1943-2009
The Grim Reaper was a busy bastard Thursday, as he also claimed actress Wendy Richard at age 65. Regular PBS viewers should know Wendy from the ‘70s BBC 'Britcom' “Are You Being Served?” as the junior saleswoman at Grace Bros. department store with the dynamite legs, the voluptuous Miss Shirley Brahms. I always loved her exaggerated working-class dialect on the show, which presaged Daphne Moon's on “Frasier” by 20 years, and Wendy was quite the hottie back in the day. She went on to spend 22 years on the BBC nighttime soap opera “EastEnders” before her character was killed off in 2006. WR's off-screen life wasn’t always peachy-keen, though—she was married four times and endured three bouts with breast cancer, the last of which she succumbed to Thursday, bless her heart. Rest in peace, Wendy—you were a real cutie…
OUR NEW CASTLE'S GOT A CASSEL!
Enough bad news—in conjunction with the renovations at Arrowhead Stadium, general manager Scott Pioli has begun to make over the K.C. Chefs into the K.C. Patriots by trading for upstart quarterback Matt Cassel and veteran linebacker Mike Vrabel for the mere pittance of a second-round pick in this year’s NFL draft. What a strange twist of fate it is that in the first quarter of the first game of the 2008 season, a Chief (Bernard Pollard) inadvertently ended Tom Brady’s season with the P-Men, subsequently giving the untested Cassel a chance to prove himself a worthy NFL quarterback, and now he’s the field general of the Chefs. Considering what K.C. gave up for these two, this deal is a steal, especially if Vrabel still has some gas left in his tank. Plus, it frees K.C. up to address other needs with their #3 pick in this year’s draft, especially on defense, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Pioli trades down for more draft choices, as per their usual in Foxboro over these past few years. More wheeling and dealing to come, no doubt…
I was very pleased to see my man Martin Brodeur, goaltender for my beloved New Jersey Devils, come back in style Thursday night by skunking the Colorado Avalanches 4-0 after spending most of the season on the DL with an elbow injury. MB was also back between the pipes this afternoon as my boys in red and black whooped Florida 7-2. Oddly enough, the Devils have done mighty fine without Monsieur Brodeur this year, as they now lead their division, and with Marty back in the fold, they look loaded for bear to make another run at Lord Stanley’s Cup. Brodeur’s shutout was #99 in his sure-shot first-ballot Hall of Fame career, and he’s now just five away from breaking the late Terry Sawchuk’s record for most all-time in NHL history, which to me is in the same realm as baseball’s home run record. And unlike America’s pastime, they don't need no stinking asterisks in Canada’s pastime’s record books! To wit (to what?), there ain't no steroid problem in hockey, thank you very much...
Fox TV says it’s renewing “The Simpsons” for two more seasons, which will surpass the record held by “Gunsmoke” for being the longest-running prime-time tee-vee series on earth in this hemisphere (22 seasons). Have to admit, I don’t tune in to my good friend Homer J. Simpson all that much anymore, as “Family Guy” has more or less supplanted “The Simpsons” as my favorite animated prime-time show, but I guess the show is still relevant, although there seems to be a difference of opinion amongst longtime fans as to whether the show has overstayed its welcome or not. By the time it’s all said and done, there should be at least 493 “Simpsons” episodes, which would rank them #3 all-time. By my count, if you ran every episode of “The Simpsons” back-to-back 24/7, it would take well over 10 days to get through all of them—there could almost conceivably be a Simpsons cable channel somewhere down the road. Anyway, a round of Duffs on me in celebration...
Here are the current standings of most episodes of a prime-time series:
1) "Gunsmoke" (1955-75)—633
2) "Lassie" (1954-73)—588 [includes all of her/its various incarnations]
3) "The Simpsons" (1989-Present)—493 [projected through 2012]
4) "Ozzie And Harriet" (1952-66)—435
5) "Bonanza" (1959-72)—430
6) "My Three Sons" (1960-72)—369
7) "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (1955-65)—361
8) "Dallas" (1978-91)—357
9) "Knots Landing" (1979-93)—344
10) "Make Room For Daddy" (1953-64)—336
Technically, the original ABC run on “Monday Night Football” (1970-2005) could be considered the all-time prime-time champ at 36 seasons and 557 episodes (and not one single rerun!).
NEVER SEND A BOY TO DO A MAN’S JOB
The Republican Party has skidmarks in its collective pants/panties in the wake of the disastrous rebuttal speech by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to Pres. Obama’s speech to Congress the other night. To me, this guy had all the charisma of Mark the ticket-taker from Fast Times At Ridgemont High as he rambled on for 15 minutes, although he did make one or two lucid comments (see below) while prematurely ending his 2012 Presidential bid. And personally, I think he looks kinda French, too…
“MOSTLY SAY ‘HOORAY FOR OUR SIDE‘…”—REDUX
“The people on our side are making a real mistake if they go after Bobby Jindal. We cannot shun politicians who speak for our beliefs just because we don’t like the way he says it.”—Rush Limbaugh
Meantime, the BFI (Big Fat Idiot) was shitting bricks because some Republicans had the unmitigated gall to criticize that which young master Jindal uttered in his speech. Uhhh, Rush, buddy, if you’d listened at all to what your boy Jindal was saying, he actually advocated what B. Obama’s been promoting all along about both sides working together to find solutions to this economic crisis—ergo, you need to knock off all this "people on our side" jingoism, as well as all this blame-game crap. Even though I’m left-leaning, if someone from the conservative wing can concoct a way out of this mess, I might just kiss the son-of-a-bitch on the lips, but I sure don’t see a whole lot of bright ideas coming from the right these days. As my man Bob Walkenhorst of The Rainmakers once brilliantly wrote: “The generation that would change the world is still looking for its car keys.”
By the way, Rush Limbaugh is once again a big fat idiot, literally. The one thing I often did praise him for was when he lost all that weight a few years back and kept it off for quite some time, but he’s reverted back to his previous Jabba T. Hut size. I guess making $10 mil a year will do that to a person…
HOW’S THAT WORKIN’ FOR YA, DOC?
Since the whole potential Britney Spears residual TV ratings bonanza tempted him last year, you knew it was only a matter of time before Dr. Fool—er uh—Dr. Phil got involved in this whole whacko octuplet chick hoop-de-doo. He claims this gross ignoramus (that‘s 144 times worse than an ordinary ignoramus) actually called him—as if an unemployed mother of 14 on food stamps just happens to have his number on her speed-dial—to intervene on her behalf. Seems that hospital officials are balking at releasing her flotilla of newborns to her because of concerns about the living quarters they’d be residing in, which is on the verge of foreclosure because her mother owes $23,000 in mortgage payments. Hell, if Octuplet Mama likes, I have some empty shoe boxes she can have to use as cribs.
Meanwhile, do you really think Dr. Fool is just doing all this out of the goodness of his pea-pickin’ heart? Anyone who believes that, stand on your head…
THIS MIGHT BE BLATANTLY OBVIOUS, BUT…
…if so many of these people on TV Land’s “High School Reunion” show are such connivers, drama queens and assholes, why would anyone even want to see them again, anyway?
PRAISE THE LORD AND PASS THE DOOBIE?
As I‘ve previously discussed here, .38 Special played a concert last night at a retirement community here in the K.C. area, which was weird enough. Now I hear that next Friday, Kansas City’s own ‘70s duo Brewer & Shipley (of “One Toke Over The Line” fame) is scheduled to play at the Community Christian Church on the Country Club Plaza. Strange venue indeed for an act whose greatest hit (pun only partially intended) is a tune about smoking pot. Then again, they do sing “sweet Jesus” several times in that song, so I guess there’s a Biblical connection there somewhere…
CLASSIC MISHEARD LYRIC #108
“The Boys of Summer”—DON HENLEY (1984) “I can see you, your brown skin shining in the sun…” Or as my feeble brain originally interpreted it, “Your broad’s skin shining in the sun…”
“DA RAIDAS!” UPDATE
A few more nuggets from the Paul Revere & The Raiders video treasure trove have been unearthed by some wonderful soul on YouTube. First off, here’s a little sampling of the PR&TR version of “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” that wasn’t available on YouTube a couple weeks ago when I did my Raiders tribute post. This rascal blows the Monkees’ version away, IMHO. And just for shits and hoots, here's an optimisic Raider ditty from the same 1966 LP as "Steppin' Stone" that didn't even make my Top 25 called "There's Always Tomorrow", sung by late Raider drummer Mike "Smitty" Smith. And for good measure, here's the long-lost Mark Lindsay 1970 minor solo hit, "Miss America", which I believe was aired on the 1971 TV special "Make Your Own Kind Of Music", which also featured The Carpenters, among other '70s luminaries. Memories, light the corners of my mind...
HERE’S ONE FOR JAY LENO
Small headline I saw in the paper the other day read: “Zoo loses elephant”. As in ‘misplaced’? Now, that would be a piece of work!