Saturday, April 18, 2009

Beware the Pop-Bottle Blogger!

If I didn’t know any better, if this whole Tea Party protest thing that took place this week had been staged by Democrats/liberals, Fox News Channel would’ve been labeling the demonstrators as “unpatriotic” because they were protesting paying taxes.  Instead, FNC was basically egging the protesters on, although they claimed “We don’t promote this—we merely report on it.”  Yeah right, and the Holocaust never happened, either…

The late Edward R. Murrow surely must be somersaulting in his grave since K.C. television station KCTV-5 was recently given regional awards named after him for Best Newscast and Best Investigation for their sleazy tabloid-y nightly crapfests that pass as TV news.  Granted, all TV news outlets are pretty much caca anymore, but Channel 5 is easily the worst of the lot in this town.  There was a time when this station produced a newscast they could be proud of, but that was before they fired all their long-time anchors and reporters and replaced them with a bunch of hacks who do nothing but tease-tease-tease and sensationalize everything.  What an insult to Edward R.’s memory!  Have I mentioned before how much I loathe TV news?  No?  I coulda swore I did…

John Madden abruptly announced his retirement from broadcasting this week after 30 years in the booth.  I have mixed feelings about it—it’s hard imaging NFL Sundays back in the ‘80s and ‘90 without Madden teaming up with my man Pat Summerall, and later on Monday nights and Sunday nights with Al Michaels, but just as with Chris Berman at ESPN, Big John’s act has gotten kinda stale over the years.  Still, I’d much rather see Madden continue on as color analyst than endure his replacement, the ever-smarmy Cris Collinsworth.  And sadly, this brings an end to my patented John Madden Drinking Game (i.e. take a drink every time he utters "those types of things", etc.), but like late Oakland Raiders announcer Bill King once said of Madden, “Get yer big butt outta here!”  Apparently he will…

Funny story I’m reminded of about Madden:  A dude I used to work with about ten years ago wasn’t even aware that John Madden was a highly-successful AFL/NFL head coach.  He only knew of him via the broadcast booth and his video games!

MERLE HARMON, 1926-2009
For the second straight week, we lost another sportscasting legend as play-by-play man Merle Harmon passed away on Wednesday.  Merle had K.C. connections as he worked with the Kansas City A’s and Chiefs in the ‘60s.  I was too young to remember that, but I do remember him doing some games for NBC’s baseball coverage in the ‘70s.  I also bought a jersey or two at his chain of Merle Harmon’s Fan Fare stores.

Let’s hear it for the high price of mediocrity as those dreaded Bronx Bummers lost to the lowly Cleveland Indians 22-4 today at new Yankee Stadium.  Even funnier, they gave up two touchdowns in the second inning to the Tribe.  Couldn’t happen to a nicer team…

I started in on Season 1 of “Fantasy Island” on DVD last week. Unlike it’s sister show “The Love Boat”, it took a little while for “Island” to attract big-name celebrities to appear, thus the first season featured such G-listers as John Schuck, Mary Jo Catlett (Mary Jo Catshit?), Mabel King, Jane Powell, Robert Clary and Bert Convy.  Then again, it wasn’t totally wretched, as seeing Marcia Brady (Maureen McCormick) in a tube-top was totally worth the rental!

It’s been a while since I did any of these, but here’s a couple more I dug up:

“Chevy Van”—SAMMY JOHNS (1975)  “I put her out in a town that was so small…”  Put her out?!?  Sounds like something you’d do with a rabid dog or a cat in heat, not some chick you had sex with in your van the night before!  He could’ve easily substituted “I dropped her off” instead.  Dumb song, anyway...

“In The Mood”—RUSH (1974)  “Hey, baby, it’s a-quarter-to-eight--I feel I’m in the mood/Hey baby, the hour is late--I feel I‘ve got to move…”  Uhhh, Geddy, you hoser, how can the hour be late when it’s only 7:45?!?  Or was it a school night for you?  This lyric is a classic illustration of why Rush would surely have been “victims of venomous fate” if drummer Neal Peart and his slightly more advanced lyrics hadn’t come along to save the day after their first album came out.

“Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves”—CHER (1971)  “Picked up a boy just south of Mobile/Gave him a ride, filled him with a hot meal…”  Or as my six-year-old ears inferred, they “...filled him with a rotten meal.”  I must’ve concluded since they were indeed tramps and thieves, the chow would be substandard…

Back in the halcyon days of “Saturday Night Live”, Dan Aykroyd’s Leonard Plinth Garnell could’ve easily done a bit on that 1976 cinematic classic Two-Minute Warning, which I watched on AMC last weekend.  You had a sniper perched high atop the L.A. Coliseum during a Super Bowl-type football game between two teams who looked suspiciously like USC and Stanford and charmin’ Chuck Heston doing all his gun-toting macho-man histrionics as the police chief out to get the miscreant.  This thing was a total waste of an all-star cast that included Jack Klugman, David Janssen, Beau Bridges, John Cassavettes and Howard Cosell as his humble self.  A good example of the lameness of this thing are the scenes on the concourses of the stadium where there are absolutely no fans milling around or waiting in line at the concession stands while the main characters chat with each other.  Heston and his boys finally nab the scumbag, but not after he kills and maims numerous people and causes a riot in the stadium.  A better storyline might’ve had something to do with the sniper picking off ol’ Howie Cosell—he’d have been a hero instead!

I rented Cadillac Records—the story of the legendary Chess Records label—last week as well, and was fairly underwhelmed by it.  While I was rather impressed with Mos Def’s Chuck Berry impression as well as Beyoncé’s turn as the overrated Etta James, I was disappointed how the film seemed to play fast-and-loose with the facts.  Then again, if you love the word “motherfucker”, this movie is for you, as they set a record for usage of it in a single film.  Not that I’m offended by that kind of language, but it seems to me that the writers could come up with more imaginative dialogue than that.  As for Beyoncé, she was great here, but I’d really like to see her play something else in a movie besides a singer like she did in the Austin Powers flick.

I also threw in my special edition Fast Times At Ridgemont High DVD this week.  Fast Times was the American Graffiti of the ‘80s, and it was of its time (1982) as opposed to looking back 10-12 years later like Graffiti did.  I can’t think of any other film that ignited the careers of so many actors like this one did—Sean Penn, Judge Rinehold, Phoebe Cates, Jennifer Jason-Leigh, and Forrest Whittaker, as well as (to a lesser extent) Eric Stoltz and Nicholas Cage.  If you blinked, you missed Cage, as he was in the film for all of two seconds during the scene where Rinehold threatens the asshole customer with physical violence at All-American Burger.  And what heterosexual male didn’t get a stiffy watching the divine Ms. Cates removing her bikini top during the infamous masturbation scene?  I know I had one!

A little trivia for you:  the producers originally wanted the late Fred Gwynne (aka, TV’s Herman Munster) to play hard-ass teacher Mr. Hand, but he thought the film was a bit too risqué, so they gave it to the late Ray Walston, who as freakin’ brilliant in the role…The famed Galleria shopping mall, where much of Fast Times was filmed, was heavily damaged by the big earthquake in ’94, and eventually torn down altogether.  However, the mall that was shown as its exterior still exists in Santa Monica…In the scene where Judge Rinehold gets embarrassed trying to impress the chick in the Corvette at the traffic light (while wearing his pseudo-Captain D’s get-up), that’s Heart’s Nancy Wilson in the Corvette.  She’s married to author Cameron Crowe, who wrote the whole thing…According to Crowe’s commentary on the DVD, the inclusion of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” in the film was semi-intentional, given Mike Damone’s advice to Mark Ratner about playing Side 1 of Led Zeppelin IV, when of course, “Kashmir” was on Zep’s Physical Graffiti album.  Evidently, they weren’t able to secure licensing from Zep for anything from the famed Zoso album, but somehow got the rights for “Kashmir”, and given Ratner’s penchant for ineptitude, it seemed kind of appropriate anyway that he’d put the wrong Zep tape in while trying to score with his girl…

Friday, April 17, 2009

The (Love) Life of Brian--Part III

If you're just joining me, this is a chronicle of my checkered past when it comes to relationships with women of the female sex.  While totally self-indulgent and a bit lengthy on my part, it's been very cathartic to take out this mental garbage I've been dragging around for years.  And again, it's not intended as a pity-party for yours truly, and it's not all gloom-and-doom, either, so if you choose to read on, I thank you, and if you choose to pass, that's fine too...

The best analogy I can think of to describe my relationship history is the excellent 1990 film Awakenings, starring Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams.  Just as with Dr. Sayer’s encephalitis patients, my love life has only “awakened” from its dormancy for brief intermittent stretches (none lasting more than six months) over the past 25 years.  I had my first girlfriend when I was 20, the next one nine years later, and the most recent one nearly ten years ago, with only a handful of scattered dates with other women the rest of the time.  I realize that’s still better than nothing at all, but rather pathetic in my eyes, because I don’t think I’m such a bad guy.  Admittedly, I’m no leading man like Tom Hanks or Burt Reynolds, but you can do a lot worse than me—I ain’t no Quasimodo or Peter Griffin either…

My first real girlfriend was a co-worker at my old restaurant gig named Lisa in the fall of 1984.  Lisa and I probably would never have actually dated at all if it hadn’t been for my little personal mandate (or a MAN-date, if you will) to lose my virginity before I turned 21 the following June.  It seems so silly now, but I think it had a lot to do with me watching one too many teen sex farce movies like Porky’s and Private School, et al, on Cinemax and Showtime during that era, thus it seemed like an appropriate rite of passage to me at the time.  Anyway, I resisted Lisa for the longest time because I wasn’t all that attracted to her—she was semi-cute at best, with short curly brown hair and freckles, but her height and weight were in nice proportion and she did have nice legs and a cute tush.  I eventually relented and asked her out when a couple meddling co-worker gals kept trying to play matchmaker for us, even though we had precious little in common.  A nice enough person, Lisa was, but not exactly the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree of life and not terribly ambitious, either.  Sadly, something tells me to this day she’s still waiting tables somewhere at an IHOP or a Denny’s.  In spite of all that, we had a few enjoyable—if not slightly awkward—dates, and within a month or two, we got pretty good at kissing and fondling and fondling and kissing.  More succinctly, to use the traditional baseball analogy, by Thanksgiving of ’84, I had a HUGE lead off second base…

Lisa’s 21st birthday was in early December, as was my last final exam at UMKC, so we went out to “celebrate” with some college classmates at a UMKC bar hangout (when underage drinking wasn‘t policed very well), and she offered to help me lose my virginity later that night.  Unfortunately, the beer I’d consumed earlier (which wasn’t a whole lot, by my standards) rendered me—how shall I put it?—sluggish, therefore it was a no-go.  As checkered as my love-life is, it seems only fitting that I couldn’t get it up the first time and had to take a rain check.  I waited an additional three weeks to finally “pop my cherry” on Christmas Eve, 1984, and even then, the whole experience wasn’t all that earth-shattering to me.  What’s worse, I was scared shitless for about a month afterward that I’d gotten Lisa pregnant, even though at the time she was taking birth patrol pills (as A. Bunker would call them).  My paranoia about fatherhood aside, I knew deep down inside that something was missing—I just wasn’t all that attracted to this girl!  Lisa was a good person, to be sure, but we shared no cerebral connection at all and had very few common interests.  A good analogy is I was Hard Rock and she was Country (i.e., a bad mix), which made the Kiss concert I took Lisa to a fairly miserable experience for her, and I felt badly afterwards.  Anyway, the whole relationship felt really hollow to me—what good was the physical relationship without some sort of emotional connection?  What’s worse, it had gotten to the point where the meddling matchmaker gals at work (Hilda and Zelda, if you will) were more interested in our torrid little affair than either Lisa or I was, and it had become a sideshow.

Now here’s the REAL kick in the head:  during that time, Lisa was in the process of moving out of her parents’ house into her own apartment not far from our workplace, so I could’ve pretty much had sex with her just about any night of the week if I wanted to, but by the time she got settled in, I was already backing away from her and I never even set foot in her new place.  The thing I’m least proud of is that I never actually had the balls to officially break up with Lisa—I just kinda became distant and drifted away and avoided her for a few weeks and was pretty relieved when she changed jobs a couple months later.  To be brutally honest, I was like a drunk at the wheel of a stolen car with Lisa—I didn’t have a freakin’ clue what I doing with her from start-to-finish.  Like the Bob Seger lyric goes, “I used her, she used me—neither one cared.”  Lisa, if you’re out there reading this, what can I say?  I should’ve been more of a man and handled things better than I did, and I apologize—you at least deserved better than to just be blown off like that.

And little did I know on that Christmas Eve of ‘84 that I would have to wait another 14-and-a-half years before having true sexual intercourse with another woman.  In some strange way, it was kinda worth the wait, though…

The remainder of the ‘80s was mostly dead-ends and disappointments for me with women.  I at least took a stab or two at asking girls out at school as well as an office girl at the first radio station I worked at, but met with the usual indifference I’d so often encountered with women.  To my chagrin, even having front-row Kansas City Comets season tickets at Kemper Arena and my connection to the radio station weren’t sufficient-enough calling cards/chick magnet assets.  By the time my radio career crapped out in 1989 and I was forced to get a real job at a major downtown KC bank, I’d pretty much given up trying to find a woman and didn’t really care anymore.  I actually started buying into the lyric in the Monkees’ “I’m A Believer”:  “I thought love was only true in fairy tales—meant for someone else and not for me.”

I finally hit bottom one day circa. late 1990 while attending an optional class sponsored by my employer about stress in and out of the workplace and how to relieve it during which we had to answer a questionnaire.  I could only respond to “Do you feel anxiety in your sex life?” with “WHAT sex life?!?”  Instead of relieving my stress, the bloody class only added to my misery, because I walked away feeling so depressed at being left-out of the whole dating/mating game milieu.  Thankfully, long about that time, a savior of sorts came into my life—a beautiful co-worker named Susan.  She was a transplant from the Springfield, MO area in her mid-‘20s with the prettiest big blue eyes I’d ever seen, the cutest curly brown hair and a warm, friendly smile and sweet, nurturing personality.  Astoundingly, she even loved Hard Rock music just like me!  She had two children from a previous marriage and was spoken-for again with a new boyfriend (who was kind of a schmuck), so I never tried to pursue her romantically (believe me, I wanted to!), but I credit Susan as much as anyone for inspiring me to get off my duff to do something about my flat-lining love/social life because she was very sympathetic and supportive of me.  If nothing else, she gave me something to shoot for again, because apart from having kids and disliking sports, she was the template in so many ways of my ideal significant other in terms of looks, personality and intellect.  Sadly, Susan is no longer with us, as she and her two children died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a freak house fire in early, 1995 (on her 30th birthday, no less).  I still think about her a lot to this day, and ironically, the first and only time Susan and I ever hugged each other turned out to be one of the last times I ever saw her alive.

Somewhere along the line while getting to know Susan, a voice inside my feeble brain said, “Hey, dumbass—why NOT you?  You see all these assholes out there who date nice women like Susan, doncha?  Surely, a decent guy like you could score with SOMEONE out there…”  At that point, I ratcheted up my efforts to get out of the penalty box of love and back on the ice and went into “Gotta find a woman!  Gotta find a woman!  Gotta find a woman!” mode—with very mixed results for the first couple years, anyway.  However, one positive right off the bat was when I finally woke up and realized that my outward appearance needed a major overhaul.  One of the first things I did was get my hair cut by a professional barber chick after decades (not years) of avoiding haircuts like Ricky Martin CDs because of the hatchet-jobs my old man used to do on me when I was a kid.  That act alone got people’s attention, esp. women folk! I got a much-needed confidence boost in the elevator lobby at work one day when one of the pretty (married) teller gals started chatting with me and said, “You got your hair cut—I love it!”  Then I set about to lose a few pounds, and by the summer of ’92, I got on a major roll and went from 260-plus pounds down to 190! With this weight loss came a major improvement in my wardrobe as well.  It also helped immensely when I transferred departments and began working for my good friend Phil, who was sympathetic to my cause and took me under his wing and taught me a few things about how to deal with women of the opposite sex, not unlike how Hawkeye counseled Radar on “MASH”.  As I mentioned in Part II, small-talk has always been a stumbling block for me, so one thing I learned from Phil early on was how to actually carry on a conversation with a woman about just plain “stuff” like the weather and such instead of going straight to “Ya wanna date?”  Okay, bad analogy, but you get the idea.  It was still far from smooth-sailing yet, though—I figured I’d just wave my magic wand and the women would come a-runnin’, but I quickly learned it didn’t quite work that way.

I did get fairly chummy with a kinda plain-Jane co-worker girl named Judy who I thought was pretty nice and seemed date-able at the time.  I lowered my “standards” a bit since she was a smoker (one of my big no-no’s).  She was a transplant from New Yawk, but was devoid of any Big Apple accent (or attitude), so at least we had a conversation piece there.  We had a few nice lunch dates and I even got a little touchy-feely with her (hug-wise), but for whatever reason, she failed to interpret my overtures that I was interested in dating her, even though as Phil advised me at the time, “Women sense that very easily and it usually scares them off—most women can read that shit from a mile away.”  How Judy failed to read my rather obvious signals is beyond me, and she also neglected to tell me that she was seeing some other guy at the time.  It was very awkward when I confronted her about that, and she was all apologetic, but the damage was done and I was very distant with her for the longest time afterwards—whether I had the right to be or not.  Judy did admit to me a couple years later that she regretted not going out with me at that time, as it turned out the other guy was a real creep (which I confirmed the one time I met him), so that was some consolation, anyway.  I fully admit I didn’t handle that situation very well—attribute it to sheer inexperience on my part—and I learned a valuable lesson about what a dicey proposition dating a co-worker can be, and I’ve made it my policy not to pursue any since—with one exception.

When I changed departments at the bank in 1992 and started working with Phil, it opened a new world for me in terms of meeting women, not only because he knew practically everyone in the company (single gals in particular) but also because he played in a band (he’s a drummer), which lent itself to having lots of contact with women, and we got out quite a bit on weekends back then.  Long about that time, a cute singer girl from another band named Holly started working as a temp. on the floor right above us, and we came in contact with each other quite a bit.  She had a voice similar to Natalie Merchant’s, and Phil and I attended a few of her band’s gigs and I took quite a shine to her.  After a while, I finally was able to get her all to myself for an evening when I took her to a Blades hockey game—not really a date, per se, but as friends—and the evening went better than I could’ve imagined.  After the game, we stopped off at one of those beatnik-type coffee houses that were all the rage at the time in the pre-Starbuck’s era, even though I can’t stand coffee.  I still had a wonderful time as Holly and I sat and just talked for the longest time—well over three hours—about our lives, work stuff and life in general.  I had never connected with a woman so thoroughly like that before, and this turned out to be one of the better dates I ever had with a woman, albeit with hardly any physical contact apart from a goodnight hug and kiss.  I really thought I was onto something here, but even though we’d really gotten to know each other, I was never able to get past the friendship stage with Holly.  It took me a while to figure out that even if she liked you, she tended to keep everyone at arm’s length and wouldn’t let anyone get real close to her.  She’s the kind of person who has lots of acquaintances, but very few people who you’d call really close friends, so that was as far as I got with her.  Too bad, because she was a really sweet person, and if you’re out there reading this, Holly, I hope you’re doing alright now.  Phil thought you and I would make a really cute couple.  So did I…

In the early ‘90s/pre-Internet era, personals ads were very much en vogue, so I took my best shot at finding a woman via that avenue.  It didn’t dawn on me right away that the majority of personals ads are fake, or that the respondents to them are merely shills for the publication they’re listed in, but I did manage to get a few nibbles here and there.  One big mistake I made was once I established contact with someone, I would write these long-ass letters detailing everything I was looking for in a relationship and my turn-offs, turn-ons, et al—i.e., too much information.  I mean I specified height, weight, hair and eye color, stopping just short of bra size and tax bracket!  Anyway, one respondent whom I politely passed on was apparently desperate to get knocked-up, and offered to let me impregnate her with no strings attached—yikes!  Another respondent seemed a lot more promising, a redheaded school teacher named Teresa who wasn’t unattractive—sort of a plainer Sarah Ferguson (I don’t mean that in a bad way)—and our correspondence resulted in two actual dates.  We did a comedy club on the first outing, which was fun, and for the second date, I took her to a Blades game, during which I got the impression that I was boring her to death.  But when we stopped after the game for a bite, it suddenly dawned on me that she wasn’t exactly the most scintillating company either.  I thought to myself, “Who’s boring WHO here?”, and I realized we really weren’t hitting it off.  Too bad, because she wasn’t bad-looking, and even as hungry as I was for a girlfriend then (not to mention my attraction to redheads), I had sense enough to know we just weren’t a good fit, and we never saw each other again.

There was one other gal I met via a personals ad, but we only went out once.  She was a hairdresser about 25-ish, and we seemed to hit it off rather well, liked the same kind of music and TV shows, etc., and it didn’t even faze me that she had a deformity on her right hand (a birth defect, she explained).  Hell, I even got to meet her mother on our one and only date!  But I guess I got a little over-anxious about seeing her again when I broached the subject of a second date, and she more or less blew me off by saying she wanted to “keep her options open” and wasn’t looking to seriously date anyone then.  I soooo wanted to reply “Then why did you place a personals ad in the first place and why are you wasting my time here?” but I remained a gentleman.  Thanks for nothing, sweetheart!  That experience soured me enough that I gave up on personals ads for good after that.

In a heroic attempt to help re-ignite my Mojo, my good friend/boss man Phil even took me to a gentleman’s club or two during 1992-93.  We once hopped in my car with a couple other guys and drove to the new Million Dollar Fantasy Ranch 40 miles away in Warrensburg, which was a juice bar where you could actually touch the merchandise.  During my $20 lap dance, I got lucky with a really cute brunette named Lori who was hotter than a snake’s ass in a wagon rut, and Phil told me later he was impressed with my handling of the female torso, so that gave me some confidence.  I really appreciated the effort on Phil’s part, and I do realize it ain’t every day that one’s boss takes his employee to titty bars, but it was only semi-satisfying for me, at best.  Yes, the girls were very hot and sexy and all, but you don’t feed a starving dog a rubber bone!  I even toyed with the idea of frequenting an escort service several times, especially during my 1994 vacation to Toronto (where prostitution is legal), but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  Not to criticize anyone who frequents juice/topless bars or patronizes prostitutes—if that’s your scene, who am I to judge?—but, what does it say about me if the only way I can have sex with someone is to have to pay (lots of) money for it?  I guess I’m a little old-fashioned here—I’ve always felt that sex is more meaningful when you earn it instead of buying it.

Fortunately, my long dry spell was about to end...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

(Don't Fear) The Blogger

Nothing certain but death and taxes, you say?  Well, there's plenty of both to go around this week...

HARRY KALAS, 1936-2009
Very sad day in baseball yesterday with two major passings.  Veteran Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas died in Washington as he was preparing for the Phils’ game at the Nationals’ home park.  Kalas was to Philadelphia what Jack Buck was to St. Louis and Ernie Harwell was to Detroit, and was also known nationally as one of the narrators for NFL Films (more or less succeeding the late John “Voice of God” Facenda) and HBO’s “Inside The NFL” program, as well as the voice of numerous Chunky Soup TV ads.  He had a rather slow, deliberate play-by-play delivery style and was known for his trademark “outta here” home run call.  Unfortunately, “outta here” has a sadder connotation for Harry now…

MARK FIDRYCH, 1954-2009
Long about the same time that Harry Kalas left us, former Major League pheenom pitching sensation Mark “The Bird” Fidrych flew on as well in Massachusetts, evidently the result of some sort of accident involving a dump truck he was working on.  The Bird was the Word in the summer of ’76 with his quirky behavior on and around the pitcher’s mound as he earned American League Rookie Of The Year honors with his 19-9 record and even started the All-Star game for the A.L.  This was back in the days when ABC aired “Monday Night Baseball”, and their ratings went through the roof on the nights when The Bird was on the mound.  Injuries to his knee and shoulder derailed what was a promising career, and although Fidrych’s goofy antics gave the impression that he was a couple fries shy of a Happy Meal, everything I’ve heard and read about him indicates that he was a really down-to-earth guy.  Done too soon, both in his career and his life.

The Grim Reaper was busy this week, as semi-infamous porn star Marilyn Chambers died over the weekend of unknown causes.  Don’t mean to speak poorly of the dead, but I never quite got why she was so popular.  I remember seeing several of her more soft-core stuff on Skinemax back in the ‘80s and found her to be awfully plain-Jane for a porn star.  Whatever worked, I guess…

ROCKY HILL, 1946-2009
Here’s one more recent passing worth mentioning, although you may not know the name.  You probably know Rocky Hill’s younger brother Joe, better known as Dusty Hill of Z.Z. Top.  Rocky was a guitarist and singer in a band with Dusty and drummer Frank Beard called American Blues before the latter two hooked up with Rev. Billy Gibbons and formed that Little Ol’ Band From Texas.  R.I.P. one and all…

Speaking of someone a few fries shy of a Happy Meal, legendary producer Phil/Phyllis Spector appears on his way “outta here” after being convicted yesterday in his re-trial for the murder of singer Lana Clarkson in 2003.  This man was once a brilliant music producer—just one listen to the Righteous Bros.’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” or “For Once In My Life” bears that out—but he’s always been a strange duck.  He basically imprisoned his ex-wife, Ronnie Spector of the Ronettes, in her own home for years because of his raging paranoia that she would cheat on him with someone else.  Who woulda blamed her if she did?

One thing I’ll never get about legal-eze, though:  in addition to the murder charge, they also convicted Spector for “using a firearm to commit a crime”.  Uhhh, isn’t that kinda redundant?  Who gives a rip about the firearm?  Seems like the murder charge would render that part irrelevant.  As A. Bunker once said, “Let’s hear it for the legal profession, Little Girl…[Bronx cheer].”

As part of my ongoing effort to mine the past for good TV viewing in light of the putrid offerings on the networks and cable today, I started in last week on the “Dick Van Dyke Show” on DVD.  I’m fairly impressed with the care and effort that went into the first season set, which includes numerous bonus features, including trivia questions and recollections from D.V.D. himself, along with Mary Tyler Moore.  The plots and situations are a bit dated nearly 50 years hence, but this show is considered by many as the “perfect” TV sitcom.  I tend to disagree with that assessment to a degree, but it is indeed a classic, and it was a pretty good template for subsequent shows to follow.  Here are just a few observations on what I’ve seen so far:

  • It seems odd that in the early episodes, the producers couldn’t decide whether to call MTM’s character “Laura” or “Laurie”.  They eventually settled on “Laura”, of course.
  • Not trying to be mean here, but did Rose Marie ever NOT look old to you?  She was in her late ‘30s when the show debuted, but she could’ve easily passed for 55 even then…
  • It took me a minute or two to recognize a young Jamie Farr, in his recurring role as a smart-alecky deli delivery boy on several episodes.  The voice registered at first, but it wasn't until he turned his head sideways and I saw his famous schnozz that I realized who it was!
  • I coulda done without the kid that played Richie, the Petrie’s only son.  He wasn’t much of an actor—just a little kid reciting lines like it was a school assembly or something.
Just to show how little I’ve been paying attention lately, I was unaware that TV pundit Glenn “Chicken Little” Beck had jumped ship from CNN to Fox News Channel, which seems to be a much more appropriate home for all his The-Sky-Is-Falling histrionics.  My good friend Tom, a staunch Republican, once urged me to watch the Big G, but I’m sorry, dude—you got to do better than some wanker who has all the credibility of Jerry Springer.  There was a write-up on Beck in last week’s Slime—er uh, Time—magazine by James Poniewozik in which he opined, “Some TV observers (like me) wondered if Fox’s commentators could thrive in an Obama era.  The answer is yes, and how…”  That may be true, JP, but that doesn’t make it right when some fear-mongering ratings whore like Beck starts crying like Johnny Fontane in front of Vito Corleone in The Godfather, proclaiming, “I’m sorry.  I just love my country.  And I fear for it.”  Well, Glen, as Vito said to Johnny, “You can ACT LIKE A MAN!”  Beck’s hackneyed effort to tug at our collective heartstrings and prey upon ignorant viewer’s irrational fears and hang-ups with all his doomsday prophecies almost makes Pat Robertson look legitimate by way of comparison.  I was so pleased to see our good friend Steven Colbert do a mighty fine job a few weeks back on Comedy Central of slaying this faux dragon

Then again, I long ago gave up wasting my time on the prime-time crap (Beck, O’Reilly, Nancy Grace, Hannity, Van Susterererereren, et al) these networks try to pass off as “news” because it’s nothing but Sensationalism, 101.  In the words of Phil Collins, "I got better things to do with my time—I don't care anymore…"

Here we are again on the eve of the Stanley Cup playoffs and now’s when the fun really begins.  I like the field of teams this year, especially in the Western Conference with the first postseason appearance by the expansion Columbus Blue Jackets, as well as the return of a couple teams who’ve been missing from the Big Dance for a few years, the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks.  I say watch for a San Jose Sharks-New Jersey Devils Stanley Cup finals in late, May.

Meantime, word came down yesterday that the proposed Central Hockey League franchise for the new 5,800-seat arena going up in nearby Independence is a done-deal and will begin play in November.  I still have my doubts whether this little arena will fly or not, success-wise, but it’s not far from where I live and supposedly, one won’t have to pay more than $20 a ticket for the as-yet unnamed team.  I presume they won’t pay tribute to Blazing Saddles and name them the Kansas City “Faggots”…