Saturday, February 28, 2009

I'm bloggin' here! I'm bloggin' here!

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…

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!).

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…

“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…

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…

…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?

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…

“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…”

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...

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!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Nothin' matters but the Oscars...

...from a Tuesday point of view!

Since it's the only remaining award show with any substance, I'll once again give my annual review of the Oscar presentation.  I was fairly pleased overall with the Academy Awards ceremony Sunday night, both in terms of presentation as well as who won.  I have to confess to pure ignorance by saying I didn’t even know who Huge Jackass—er uh—Hugh Jackman was before Sunday, but I didn’t think he was so terrible as the emcee, in spite of the mixed reviews he seems to be getting in the media.  I at least found him more entertaining than Jon Stewart was last year or Ellen DeGenerate was the year before.  I thought the show was well-paced and liked how they kept the montages and ancillary stuff to a minimum this time.  Good thing I didn’t bet the over/unders on the show’s length, because it clocked in at just under 3.5 hours, and I'd have bet anything it would’ve exceeded that.  This year’s show was an added treat for me, after having actually seen the Kodak Theater (on the outside, anyway) and the whole Hollywood Blvd. scene in person last year, thus giving me a better "lay of the land", so to speak, during all the red carpet pre-game show folderol.  I do have one question, however:  what the filth-flarn-filth does Miley Cyrus have to do with the Oscars and why was she there?  She was clearly out of her league...come back when you grow up and can compete with the big girls, okay sweetheart?

As for the winners, those favored to win pretty much did so in all the major categories, particularly Slumdog Millionaire, Wall-E and Heath Ledger for Dark Knight, and about the only disappointment for me was my girl Marisa Tomei not winning for The Wrestler.  I was tickled to death that my other girl Kate Winslet finally got her first Oscar, even though I have yet to see The Reader—she should’ve already won for at least one of her previous nominations anyway, so this was a make-good win for her, if nothing else.  I’d also like to point out something about Ms. Winslet—she looked quite classy and elegant the other night, unlike her tattooed fellow nominee, the overrated Angelina Jolie.  I’m already on record here for taking a very dim view of tattoos on women, so call me biased all you want, but at least Kate doesn’t go around with what appears to be a grocery shopping list scrawled on her bicep.  Skank City, here we come…

I’m also very much looking forward to seeing Sean Penn’s Oscar-winning performance in Milk when it comes out on DVD.  I have sort of an oddball connection to the whole Harvey Milk thing due to my very vivid memories of that terrible night in 1978 when he and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were assassinated as it just happened to be when I got a brand new color TV for my bedroom, and that story was all over the news when I first turned on my set.  By extension, my first "Monday Night Football" game on the new TV that evening was slated for—where else—Candlestick Park in San Francisco, between the 49ers and Steelers, thus quite a pall was cast over the proceedings.  There was actually talk of postponing the game, but it would’ve been a logistical nightmare for the NFL to reschedule it, so they played on.  Didn’t matter much anyway, because this was the pre-Joe Montana/Bill Walsh/Ronnie Lott 49ers who totally sucked at the time, and the Steelers easily won, 24-7.

…a couple of quick reviews.  I recently viewed Oliver Stone’s W just for shits and hoots and was pretty underwhelmed by it.  Josh Brolin does a fairly impressive Dubya imitation (better than hack comedian Frank Caliendo even), but the film itself didn’t reveal anything earth-shattering to me that I didn’t already know about #43, and it was a tad too long for my liking.  I also struggled through Dark Knight last week.  I say struggled because the DVD I rented was so scratched and scuffed-up that it kept skipping around and I finally gave up about midway-through.  I saw enough to get why Heath Ledger deserved his posthumous Oscar, but I found the story rather boring.  Then again, I was spoiled by the TV version of Batman, so anything else pales in comparison to my Caped Crusaders.

President Obama’s administration has just surpassed that of William Henry Harrison in terms of duration, which was the shortest of all-time (32 days), but that hasn't prevented all the pundits and letter-to-the-editor writers from already declaring Barack Obama to be the worst U.S. President ever.  Uhhh, he’s only been President a freakin’ month!  Although he’s had a few missteps so far, Obama hasn’t even come close to rivaling the ineptitude we witnessed over the past eight years.  Put your poison pens away until the man actually does fuck up big-time, mmm-kay?

Gold star to the British government for declaring that the Rev. Fred Phelps and his merry band of roach droppings ain’t welcome in Merry Olde England and will not be allowed into their country under any circumstances to protest at some poor Brit’s funeral.  What I still want to know is where the hell do they get the money in the first place to be able to not only criss-cross our own country like a Rock band on tour, but to also travel abroad to demonstrate at people’s funerals whom they don’t even know.  Too bad we can’t just permanently eject these tick turds on some space pod, eh?

This one mostly applies to TV, the frequently-used bit of two or more cast members doing a weekend getaway at a remote cabin in the woods where some calamity usually takes place—being stranded with no food and/or heat, getting snowed in after arriving, or having a big pissing match erupt between lovers or friends, etc. It’s amazing how TV people always happen to know someone who has a cabin in the woods, let alone who is willing to allow access to said cabin to these city-dwellers who wouldn’t even last five minutes in the great outdoors.  "Happy Days", "Cheers", "Mork & Mindy", "Frasier", "Benson", "The Partridge Family", "Sanford & Son" (minus the cabin, anyway), "All In The Family" and countless other shows are guilty of using this predictably lame gambit.

And in a related cliché, there’s the equally-implausible scenario where a show’s entire cast goes on vacation somewhere en masse, like on "Happy Days" (the infamous dude ranch and shark-jumping episodes), "Friends" (when they all went to Las Vegas) or "Saved By The Bell".  Or even wackier, how about when a show’s entire cast relocates to another city en masse, á la "Laverne & Shirley"?  Only in Hollywood…

Thanks to the miracle that is TV shows on DVD, I can now add the "Partridge Family" to my ever-growing list of old-school TV shows that I’ve seen each and every episode of.  Season Four of TPF was a bit grueling, too, as we innocent viewers were subjected to the shrieky moppet neighbor kid with the Moe Howard haircut, Little Ricky Seagall, who entertained the Partridges at the end of each episode he was in by warbling some dopey little song while everyone stood around with equally-dopey looks on their faces doting on the little shit.  In one particular Ricky bit, Danny Bonaduce showed great prowess at faux-guitar playing by continuing to strum away on his acoustic even when the music momentarily stopped.  Midway through that fourth and final season, the show’s producers wised up (too little, too late) and phased Little Ricky out and sent him into oblivion.  According to this tribute page, he was a Christian minister, at last report.

Anyway, here is a fairly comprehensive list of TV show that (to the best of my knowledge) I have seen every episode ever made of:

"All In The Family"

"Are You Being Served?"
"Gomer Pyle, USMC"
"Good Times"
"The Munsters"
"The Odd Couple"
"The Partridge Family"
"Pink Lady and Jeff" (all six episodes!)
"Sanford And Son"
"Square Pegs"
"Starsky And Hutch"

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Do you recognize this man?

You've seen him in your lifetime, especially if you're a sports fan at all...

He evidently couldn't decide on a color on this day, so he wore all of 'em! Kinda reminds one of actor Billy Crystal, for some reason...

And here we see him (at left) in his Junior Samples tribute period.

I'll divulge the identity of this fashion plate in a future post...