Saturday, August 21, 2010

Welcome back, my friends, to the blog that never ends

“NOTHING’S IN THE PAST—IT ALWAYS SEEMS TO COME AGAIN…”
The late brother Dio was right, and in this case I’m delighted, as indoor soccer is returning to the K.C. area after a five-year hiatus in the form of the Missouri Comets, who begin play in the latest version of the Major Indoor Soccer League this fall.  I’d prefer they call themselves the Kansas City Comets, like my favorite all-time sports franchise, but since they’ll be playing at the Independence Events Center (also home of Missouri Mavericks hockey), they’ll be the Mo. Comets.  But, in a nice compromise, the team is resurrecting the original Comets logo and colors from the ‘80s, thanks to an on-line fan vote in which the old logo trounced the new one they created by a 2-to-1 margin (a little ballot box stuffing by yours truly didn’t hurt, either!).  Unlike the Kansas City “Faux” Comets from the early ‘00s (originally known as the Kansas City Attack), the new team is doing a much better job already of reaching out to us veteran indoor soccer fans who packed Kemper Arena back in the ‘80s and remember when it was real.

Toward that end, in a “meet the new boss/same as the old boss” maneuver, the Comets named Kim Roentved as their first head coach.  For the uninitiated out there, no, they didn’t hire a woman named Kim, but rather the Great Dane himself, whom a local journalist referred to this week as the “Babe Ruth of indoor soccer”.  That’s not quite accurate—Steve “Lord of All Indoors” Zungul was the Bambino (although the late Stan Stemankovic was built more like the Babe) and I have a better analogy for Roentved anyway:  Kim is the Bobby Orr of indoor soccer—a great defender who was also a huge part of the offense.  Defenders aren’t supposed to average 24 goals a season!  “The Rocket” (as he was nicknamed for his rocket-hard shots on goal) was the first guy I thought of as a potential head coach, remembering what a great on-field leader he was for the Wichita Wings and (later) the Comets back in the day.  I also fully expect former Comet greats like Gino Schiraldi and Alan Mayer to be involved in the new franchise in some capacity.  It shouldn’t be too hard to round up former Comets in this area—so many of them (Roentved included) liked living here so much once they got to Kansas City that they relocated their families and have stayed put ever since.  KR also has previous head coaching experience with Wichita in the ‘90s, and I, Brigadier General Comet, am very pleased that he’ll be running the new show here.  [NOTE: I used to be Captain Comet, but after all these years, I thought I deserved a promotion!]

My only real concern about Comets v. 3.0 is the venue and the smalltime-ness of the league.  The IEC seats 5,800 people, which is fine for minor minor league hockey like the Mavericks, but the Comets should be able to attract bigger crowds than that—like in the 7,000-8,000 range, so they may outgrow the place rather quickly.  My hope is that’s exactly what they intend to do sometime down the road and perhaps move to the big house downtown eventually.  The current MISL has been struggling to stay afloat for years, and they were down to only five franchises—Baltimore, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Rockford, IL (?!?), and Monterrey, Mexico—before the Comets joined, and they’ve since added Omaha to the fold as well.  To really have a league, in my opinion, you need a minimum of eight teams, and ten or more would be preferable.  If the current MISL really wants this thing to take off again, it’s imperative they place teams as soon as possible in the old MISL hotbeds like St. Louis, Cleveland and Dallas, not to mention Wichita, which supported the old Wings passionately, and I truly miss our rivalry with their fans, whom I used to call the “Wing-A-Lings”.  The league needs to make this thing coast-to-coast, too, not just a regional concern, and with all the different sports channels on cable (ESPN, Fox Sports Net, Versus, TBS/TNT, etc.), surely they could find a TV outlet for the league somewhere.  Indoor soccer is too good a sport to have to languish in obscurity like it has the last 20 years or so.

Oh, by the way, I have not forgotten about or abandoned my “Hot Winter Nights” series that I posted a taster for on here a couple months ago.  It is currently under construction, but is taking far longer than I expected because once I started jotting down recollections and dialing up old memories from the period when I practically ate, slept and drank the original Comets in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s that I wound up with enough material to write a novel.  And as you know, I don’t like doing things half-assed on this blog, so instead of hurriedly slapping together a bunch of drive-by Comets/MISL posts, I’m piecing everything together into what I hope will be a comprehensive history of and tribute to my most beloved sports entity ever on earth in this hemisphere.  And the timing is perfect—with the advent of the new team, I’m kinda glad I waited now.  Stay tuned, boys and girls…

THE LAST STRIKE
I noticed a “For Sale” sign this week outside Laurel Lanes on 350 Hiway in Raytown, apparently another victim of the weak economy.  Located within about 200 yards of the house I grew up in, LL was an old-school 16-lane bowling alley, and I spent a small fortune in the place trying to become a pinball wizard in the mid-to-late ‘70s (the old Williams’ brand Klondike machine was my favoritesee pic) and another small fortune on video games in the early ‘80s.  Could I use some of that money today?  Sure, but I don’t give a fuck—I had fun back then!  Once a week during gym class in high school, everyone had to pile into a bus and ride to Laurel Lanes to bowl, even though the coaches never once taught any of us a damn thing about bowling—it was just a convenient opportunity for them to sit on their duffs and plot and scheme their game plans for that week’s football or basketball game.  We didn’t give a rip anyway—we’d rush through bowling so we could get over and play Donkey Kong before it was time to leave.  Laurel Lanes was one of two bowling establishments at any given time in Raytown, the others being Raytown Bowl, which crapped out in the late ‘80s and was more or less replaced by the big fancy Premier Bowling Center in the early ‘90s.  LL held its own against Premier for quite a while, but the place didn’t age particularly well and could no longer compete.  A moment of silence, please…


SPEAKING OF PINBALL WIZARDS…
I was delirious to find this little gem on YouTube last week—video of the short-lived 1975 game show “The Magnificent Marble Machine”, hosted by the late Art James.  I had always heard there was no video left in captivity of the show, but guess again!  The video quality here is poor, to be sure, but seeing this rascal once again is priceless to me.  I do have one criticism of the actual show, though:  they spent way too much time on the question-and-answer stuff, and not enough time on the blasted pinball machine!  I was also pleased find another Art James show on YouTube from the early ‘70s, “The Who, What or Where Game” (aka “3W”) that I hadn’t seen in almost 40 years, as well as long-forgotten game shows like “Jackpot” and “Split Second” and several compilations of game show bloopers and goofs from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.  Excellent way to time-travel!

DING DONG, THE BITCH IS GONE!/DING DONG, THE ASSHOLE’S GONE!
Tuesday was a banner day in my little world as two of my most-reviled media personalities were disconnected from their jobs.  Radio quack Dr. Laura (Schlessinger) announced she was ending her syndicated talk show in the wake of her big n-word FUBAR last week.  This woman has absolutely no credibility with me, especially when she starts talking smack about honoring your parentsthe woman didn’t speak to her own mother for the last 20 years of her life.  Her poor mother died alone (on welfare) and her body wasn’t even found for nearly four months!  "Dr." Laura's degree is in Physiology, NOT pyschology, and for all her moralizing, this is the same woman who cheated on two of her husbands, posed nude for photos, had an abortion (to save her own life, yes, but it still counts in my book) and claimed she was an only child, even though she has a sister named Cindy, and yet she has nerve to judge other people?  Pathetic.  I’m not na├»ve enough to think Dr. Laura is going away for good, but at least she’s no longer littering American airwaves with her psychological tripe.

Meanwhile, mega-ego self-promoting sports columnist Jason Whitlock is no longer employed by the Kansas City Star.  It’s not clear whether the Flatulent One left of his own volition or if he was given the heave, but I’m delighted that he’ll no longer be embarrassing our fair city with his pompous bombast, hypocrisy and race-bating.  My hunch is it got to the point where the paper just plain couldn’t afford his exorbitant salary anymore.  Either that, or he ran off and eloped with Jeff George (or Drew Bledsoe).  And like Dr. Laura, Whitlock ain’t disappearing from view—he’s all over the Internet on various sports outlets anyway.

EXPLAIN THIS ONE, LITTLE BUDDY!
Was thinking about “Gilligan’s Island” the other day for particular reason and wondered why their theme song says they landed on an “unchartered DESERT isle”.  Looked more like a jungle with a beach to me—the weren’t no desert to be found there.  I loved that show when I was a kid, but I find it almost unwatchable now.  Oh, and for the record, I prefer Ginger over Mary Ann, only because I’m such a sucker for redheads.  I wouldn’t kick Mary Ann out of bed, either, tho, and I’ve heard Dawn Wells is a real nice lady in real life.  Tina Louise?  That’s a whole ‘nother story…

FOR A GOOD TIME, CALL MAGIC CHEF!
The number for the customer service line listed in the instructions for various Magic Chef appliances is 1-800-553-4355.  Unless they’ve branched out into the vibrator business, that ain’t what you get when you call this number!

I’M IN THE WRONG BUSINESS
Was out the other night wandering around at the Cabela’s outdoorsman/hunter’s paradise store the other night and got a chuckle out of what they’re asking for goose decoys—$100!  And that was a sale price—they normally go for $120.  A hundred bucks for a fake goose?!?  Shit, the real ones ain’t even worth that much, are they?  Sounds like a racket to me…

THE HOTTEST BAND(S) IN THE WORLD
I thought this was kinda cool.  When juxtaposing The Beatles and Kiss, however, I think John should be Gene and Paul should be Paul, based on their personalities, with John and Gene being the outspoken cynical ones and the two Pauls being the hopeless romantics.  Then again, the artist may have simply been going by the instruments each band member played/plays.












LEMMY RULES!
“How come he’s got those two Cocoa Puffs stuck to his cheek?”—Beavis, 1994