Friday, August 31, 2012

Rant #796: Joltin' Joe ... The Drink?

Joe DiMaggio was an icon to many as one of the greatest baseball players in the history of the sport.

His 56-game hitting streak is a record that may stand forever.

And later in life, he kept in the headlines as first, the husband of Marilyn Monroe and later on, as the spokesperson for Mr. Coffee.

But now, DiMaggio, who passed on many years ago, will be promoting a new beverage, with his likeness adorning its can.

AriZona Beverages will soon be offering "Joltin' Joe," a lightly carbonate espresso, to its line of soft drinks.

It already offers Arnold Palmer varieties, so this is another step in its plan of linking sports icons with beverages.

And it reportedly is legit, with Joe DiMaggio LLC, which has rights to license the Yankee Clipper's image, giving their permission.

According to news reports, the can will feature a young DiMaggio, several photos of newspaper headlines about the 56-game feat, but it will be missing one major image ...

The New York Yankees logo on his cap. Instead, his cap will have a "USA" log on it.

I guess they couldn't get permission from the Yankees to use the iconic, interlocking "N-Y" logo.

I really don't know what to think of this. Images of many icons--everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Groucho Marx--have been legally used after their deaths to sell various things. Heck, DiMaggio's former wife's image has been used for decades, hasn't it?

Why not Joe DiMaggio?

But on the other hand, if you have to use an image like this, doesn't it cheapen the product?

And since these drinks are marketed to young people, do they really know who Joe DiMaggio was/is?

But it gets a lot of press, so I guess it already is generating a buzz that the drink itself probably won't ever deliver.

But what's next? Babe Ruth candy?

Oh, that's right, that's happened already ... although not really, because Baby Ruth bars have nothing ot do with Ruth, although most people think it does.

And since that candy has been around for generations, I guess the icon/food mix is a viable one.

Here's to Joltin' Joe.

Will it add to AriZona's hit streak?


No, it's made in Brooklyn!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rant #795: Great Sidekick

It seems that every "star" has a great sidekick with him or her, a person who isn't the star, but shares the same experiences as the person that the focus is on.

Sherrif Andy Taylor had his deputy, Barney Fife, on "The Andy Griffith Show."

Bus Driver Ralph Kramden had plumber Art Carney on "The Honeymooners."

Housewife and show business wannabe Lucy Ricardo had fellow housewife and former vaudevillian Ethel Mertz on "I Love Lucy."

And several major TV stars have had Bill Daily as a sidekick, on shows like "I Dream of Jeannie" and "The Bob Newhart Show."

Daily turns 85 today, and if there was a "Sidekicks Hall of Fame," he would probably be inducted on the first ballot.

On "I Dream of Jeannie," he played Roger Healey, fellow astronaut to Larry Hagman's Tony Nelson character. They both knew the secret of Jeannie, played by gorgeous Barbara Eden, that she was actually a genie that Nelson unleased from a bottle he found after a launch touchdown.

The show was filmed in a breakneck pace, with each episode breathlessly revolving around Eden's encounters with the new world around her, and Hagman and Daily's efforts to cover up for her and her doings.

Each of the three stars fit their roles perfectly, which was one of the major selling points of the show. Sure, it was pure fantasy, but Daily and the others were so good that you actually believed the whole concocted story.

Daily success on this show led him to another memorable sidekick turn, as Howard Borden, the insecure airplane pilot and next door neighbor of the Hartleys on "The Bob Newhart Show."

Where on "Jeannie," Daily's acting skills were pretty much rolled up into a manic ball, on the "Newhart" show, he really had to act.

Always coming into the Hartley's apartment--Bob Newhart and luscious Suzanne Pleshette--seemingly at the wrong time, Daily's character was insecure, and a great sidekick to Newhart's psychologist character, who was also not the most secure person in the world.

It was probably Daily's signature character, and he was all over television in the 1970s. If he wasn't on the "Newhart" show, he was on "The Match Game."

He also starred on a few shows where he was the top banana, but they all failed miserably.

He, like Don Knotts, was very capable, but was sort of in a TV caste system.

Once a sidekick, always a sidekick.

Although you will continue to find Daily in reruns all over the tube, he is pretty much retired now, although he does pop up from time to time, especially on radio.

He has been a guest on New York WABC's "Saturday Night" program hosted by Mark Simone, and he has also filled in on occasion as a radio host on stations out west.

Daily's legacy is that he was among the best TV sidekicks of all time, and you can see that in reruns of "I Dream of Jeannie" and "The Bob Newhart Show" that continue to run all the time.

It probably isn't easy to be a second banana, but Daily took the peel off of the job and did it as well as anybody.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Rant #794: Losing Their Way To Popularity

When a baseball team loses 100 games during a 162 game season, you have to rate it as pretty bad.

But what happens when a team loses 120 games in a season?

In 1962, the New York Mets--and expansion team in the National League--lost 120 games during their inaugural season.

Led by manager Casey Stengel, the Mets set the modern record for baseball futility, and today is the 50th anniversary of the team losing their 100th game of the season.

They played the Phillies, and lost 3-2, with their record standing at 34-100.

The team managed to win six of its next 26 games--two games weren't played due to rainouts--and the team's first season ended with 120 losses.

Made up of way past their prime stars and lots of young kids, the Mets were the exact opposite of their cross-town rivals, the Yankees.

The Yankees won seemingly every year, and they did that year too, winning the World Series against the Giants.

But these Mets were lovable losers. New York had been without a National League team since the Giants and Dodgers left New York for California at the end of the 1957 season, so five years was a long time.

Branch Rickey was devising a rival baseball league, and the linchpin for that league--the Continental League--was a New York franchise.

Major League Baseball got scared, and granted expansion franchises to New York and Houston, and the Mets and the then-named Houston Colt 45s started playing in 1962.

Old Dodger and Giant fans embraced the team, and even though they lost 120 games, their futility was almost a virtue.

During those years, you expected the Yankees to win, and you expected the Mets to lose. It was a corporate team versus a team of nobodies, and the Mets' fan base embraced their team perhaps like no other.

As the 1960s went on, things changed. The Yankees went through a period of losing that they had never seen, culminating in a last place finish in 1966 and 10 more years of futility.

The Mets were terrible, too, until 1969, when they fully captured the hearts and minds of baseball fans the world over with their improbable World Series win over the Orioles.

Of course, things have pretty much gotten back to "normal" in the intervening years.

The Mets have had a few good teams over the past 40 some-odd years--the 1986 team was one of the best New York teams ever--but basically as we look at 2012, the Mets are battling to stay out of last place and the Yankees are battling to stay in first place.

The more things change the more they stay the same, I guess.

Having been a Yankee fan my whole life, I have had an opportunity to look at the Mets from the outside looking in. Those rabid fans of the early days aren't much around anymore. The Mets have made many moves over the past decade that defy understanding, and they continue to be the second team in a town where the Yankees have ruled since the 1990s.

Mets fans demand more from their team, especially with a new ballpark and with ticket prices through the roof.

The 2012 Mets are far from that lovable bunch of yore.

But 50 years ago, they were something else, something else indeed.

Ashburn, Kanehl, Woodling, Christopher, Throneberry, Neal, Coleman, Hickman, Chacon, Hook, Craig ...

They were certainly "the gang that couldn't play straight," but they endeared themselves to New York like a bagel with cream cheese does.

But even that bagel with cream cheese doesn't taste the same in 2012 as it did in 1962.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rant #793: While I've Been Gone, They Left Us

Two iconic personalities left us during the time I was not able to write anything on this blog.

I realize it's kind of old news already, but I figure that my take on these two people would be new, so I thought to myself, "Why not?"

Phyllis Diller was one of our most popular female comics, and probaby one of our favorite funny people, period.

She made a living poking fun at herself, at her personal foibles, and her personal life. Without her, there certainly wouldn't have been a Joan Rivers or a Rosanne, but Diller did this all the while laughing along with us.

She was a housewife with a house full of kids when her first husband persuaded her to try standup after he lost his job.

She was subsequently discovered by Bob Hope, and the rest is history.

She made fun of her looks, her face, her body, her legs, and her relationship with second husband Ward Donovan, a union that lasted mere months but from which Diller generated decades of jokes. "Fang" was his name, and she used his name liberally throughout her routines.

The next icon was a true American hero. Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, died last week as we landed a rover on Mars.

But I'm afriad that landing a machine on a sister planet, no matter how stupendous a feat, pales in comparison to putting a man on the moon.

He, Buzz Aldrin and Edward Collins went up in their Apollo spacecraft, and in 1969, thrilled the world with their landing on the moon.

Where were you when this happened? Everybody who was alive knew where they were that day. I sure do--right in front of my family's old Dumont black and white TV, and I was mesmerized by this mission.

"One small leap for man, one giant leap for mankind" was what Armstrong said when he lept onto the moon surface, and whether he was misquoted or not--he claimed that he said "One small leap for a man," but it was not picked up by the audio transmission that way--it was a stupendous achievement.

Aldrin followed him onto the surface, as did other astronauts, but he was the first.

He could have cashed in on this mightily, but he was a bashful hero, and he never did make a fortune off of this accomplishment. He was more into teaching, more into living life his way.

And he did just that.

Not to compare Diller and Armstrong, but each was a pioneer in their own way.

And each will be fondly remembered by a generation that was allowed to dream, allowed to think that we could do anything if we put our minds to it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Rant #792: Where I've Been, Again

This pinched nerve I have is interfering with a lot of things that I do, including putting together this blog.

I am often in such discomfort that the last thing I want to do is type, so I haven't been around for a couple of days.

In the interim, I had an MRI, which is basically a torture chamber where photos are taken of your ailment, and when the doctor studies them, they can give him or her a better feel on what ails you and what can be done to make you better.

I thought I had had an MRI before, but I was told by the technician, based on what I told her, that I had not had one.

Little did I know what I was in for.

I should have known when she read me the riot act: "No moving, no swallowing, no unnecessary movement" during the procedure.

I came into the room, had to take off any metal on my person--watches, belt buckles, etc.--and then I put myself on this thin gurney-type device, all sprawled out.

I machine was put around my head to make sure I didn't move, and then I was pushed into the machine.

Happily, I don't have claustrophobia, because if I did, I would not have made it.

It was a closed MRI, as opposed to an open one, meaning that I was now in a pod-like structure where my nose was about three inches from its ceiling.

My arms were sprawled out to my sides, and boy, was it uncomfortable!

The pain was incredible. I know at one point, I yelled out, "Get me out of this thing, but the attendant basically talked me out of it.

I decided that this is something I had to do, so with the attendant telling me, "If I let you out of the machine, it's over!" I decided to stick it out.

What did I do to suppress the pain? I literally thought of nice things in my life, visualizing each one: my family, my wife, my daughter, things I like to eat (like hot dogs) ... anything to get my mind off of the pain.

I also tuned out whatever the attendant was saying to me, which wasn't the right thing to do. Her instructions were vital in getting me through this, but I couldn't listen to her screeching anymore.

Nor could I listen to the "relaxing" music they had on in the background. Sorry, Lionel Ritchie does not calm me down at all.

Finally, it was over, and yes, I hurt all over. My arm was really barking, but at least I got through it. The attendant told me that this wasn't going to be a group of the best "pictures" she had ever witnessed, but they would be good enough to help the doctor plan my path.

So, all the pain was worth it that morning.

But honestly, even if the medicine I am taking--an anti-inflammatory--typing has become a bit of a chore.

I have been back to work for over a week now--I worked six days last week--but I am far from 100 percent. I still ache all over, and many things--like shaving--are quite hard to do.

But I am coping, probably not getting any worse but not getting any better.

My doctor won't be in until next week, so I am going to have to wait for the results.

Woe is me, I guess.

I am going to try to create blog entries every day, but if I miss a day, you will know why.

Enough about my ailments.

I won't talk about this pinched nerve again unless there is a reason to, because I know it must bore the life out of you.

So onward and upward, even though I probably can't lift my arms or jump very far now.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Rant #791: Where I've Been

Good to be back ... but where have I been?

I have a pinched nerve, and I was ordered by my doctor to literally take a week off from my normal activities, including any computer work.

So typing was out, and work was out.

I am in great pain. The pain has not subsided, but as they say, life goes on.

I am returning to work today, not because I feel able to, but because I have to. I have a doctor's note to say that I am on "limited duty," whatever that is, but I will be there.

I have an MRI scheduled for this Thursday, very early in the morning. That should really show exactly what the problem is beyond the initial X-ray that I had a week ago.

Than we move on to the next part of this--my rehabilitation.

My doctor said I might be a prime candidate for an epidural injection, but I am sure that some type of physical therapy will also be involved somewhere down the line.

So right now, I just have to grin and bear it.

There is no other way.

So for right now, I might be in and out of here. Continue to check me on a daily basis, but there might be some days that I am not feeling up to putting anything here.

I hope you understand.

Now, onward and upward!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Rant #790: It's Over

Yes, I am still in lots of pain.

This pinched nerve seems to have gotten worse, not better. I am taking medicine for it, but it doesn't seem to be helping.

Everything I do is a chore now.

But at least the Olympics are over, and we can put our focus back on sports that we are truly interested in.

Sure, we won lots of medals, but there was a lot of phony sentiment attached to these games by people who think that these games are so, so important.

Sorry, I don't thin archery is important, and some months down the line, you won't even know who people with the names of Stephen Kiprotich, Alicia Coutts and Jacob Stephen Varner are. Nor will you care about their sports, either.

These games are all about politics, nationalism and phony pride, stuff that we should all be above at this place and time.

Yes, these athletes do amazing feats, but what is our real interest in these games, and the Winter games, which will take place in Russia in about a year and a half.

Let other countries show their nationalism through their athletes. We don't have to do that, and shouldn't have to do that.

We are Americans, not Europeans.

And who really cares about soccer, anyway?

Now, onto our real sports passions--baseball, and yes, even though I hate the sport, football.

That is really what we care about.

The Olympics are nothing but a sports footnote, sort of like how soccer is treated here.

It exists, but it really isn't very important.

So let's move onto something else.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Rant #789: You Have Your Pinched Nerve!

I was in real good spirits yesterday.

I secured what I wanted--Monkees tickets for the upcoming short tour they will be doing in November and early December--and I felt like I was on top of the world.

The problem was, and still is, that I am in pain, and a lot of it.

On Sunday, I awoke to find that I had a lot of pain in my right arm. From the shoulder down to my fingers, I seemed to have a shooting pain that would not go away.

I also discovered that I had a mass of what looked like small teeth marks on the side of my left hand.

My left hand itched; my right arm throbbed.

The itch went away, the pain persisted in my right arm.

I finally went to the doctor yesterday, and it appears that I have a pinched nerve in my neck that is affecting my right arm.

Moreover, on my left hand, I have spider bites.

Yes, spider bites.

Last week, as I left for work, I walked through the front door as I always do, and strolled right into two massive spider webs that encased the front door.

My initial shock at walking into these things was what you'd expect: I said an expletive and tried to wipe the thing off of me, my arms, my head, you name it was covered in it.

This happened two days in a row. I guess the third day, the spider got the message and moved on ...

But not before it bit me.

It must have been a pretty big spider, because it literally looks like teeth marks on my hand.

And no, it was apparently not a radioactive spider, so I won't be climbing the walls and turning into Spider-Man anytime soon.

My right arm is another story.

It throbbed so bad at times yesterday that I thought I was going to pass out. It still does to this moment, and is hurting as I am typing this.

The doctor told me it might have been the way I slept, that the way my arm was positioned might have forced the nerve to pinch.

I have two prescriptions out today for an ointment for my hand and some pills for my arm.

The doctor said the bites would clear up in days; the pinched nerve might not clear up for two weeks.

So, I am supposed to be happy, but I'm not.

I'm in a lot of pain, but hopefully, when I start taking the medications later today, I will be fine.

I hope so.

It's one thing being bitten by a Monkees bug, but to be bitten by a spider, well, "Randy Scouse Git" to that!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Rant #788: Barrel Full of (Three) Monkees

Yes, you have probably heard, but if you have been in a hole somewhere, here is the news.

The Monkees will be holding a 12-concert tour in the U.S. this fall, from November through early December.

And when I say the Monkees, I am talking about Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and ...


Yes, the original Space Cowboy, fresh off a successful tour of England, has decided that he will participate this time around.

Some say it really isn't the Monkees without Davy Jones, and like they sang in their film "Head," "to that we all agree."

But it is Dolenz, Tork and Nesmith--the closest we will ever come to a real, honest to goodness reunion now that Jones is no longer with us.

His spirit is, and that is what counts.

Why did Nesmith agree to do this short tour?

I am not a psychologist, but I can offer my opinion.

Here it is:

I think that Papa Nez was the most hurt by Jones' passing. He and Jones had not been on good terms for years, and each time a situation arose where the four of them could have gotten back together, Nesmith turned his back on his former bandmates, except for a few times--including during the mid-1980s revival of the band which was spurred on by MTV, when he played with his bandmates for a few shows in California and in the 1990s, for the failed "Justus" LP.

Every other time, Nesmith was the one who balked, for a variety of reasons I am not going to go into here.

But with Jones gone, and Nesmith showing great remorse, was that enough to get him to tour with Dolenz and Tork?

During Davy's memorial, there was the sense that the three surviving Monkees might be talking about doing something together for Jones' memory.

But then, a few months ago, from what I have read, Nesmith went through some type of medical procedure, I believe on his eyesight.

I don't know if it was cataracts or something much more serious, but did talk about it, in his own inimitable way, on Facebook.

It really stirred him, and I think it took him aback on some things, including his Monkees past.

Life is too short to continue to harbor animosity toward a project that made him so well known.

So this medical procedure actually gave him more vision, more insight into his own soul, and he decided that now might be the time to do this.

He did a "practice" tour of England, found that he still had the chops for this type of thing, and Voila!, the wheels were set into motion.

Sure, that is my own prognostication, and if anybody has any other theories, please chime in.

Anyway, I am trying to get tickets for the New York shows.

It is going to be hard, and my pocketbook will be empty if I am successful.

But I just have to go. Even my 16 year old son is excited. He wants to see Nesmith too.

So I need three tickets, for myself, my wife and my son.

Think I can get them?

I sure hope so!

(P.S.: Hey, Hey, I'm going! Dec. 1 on Long Island. Can't wait!)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Rant #787: The Beat Goes On and On and On and ...

Yesterday I filled you in on how my little town on Long Island is constantly besmirched by infamous people and events, including the latest besmirching, the case of the man who supposedly drowned but actually didn't.

Well, that missing man saga continues, and it gets more bizarre by the minute.

Evidently, the man has finally turned himself in, but not to the police.

He has voluntarily checked into a mental health facility for observation. There is one right near my community, but although I won't name it, it is a good possibility that he is there, but it hasn't been released exactly where he checked himself in to.

Heck, if the place was good enough for Judy Garland to check herself into years ago, it's good enough for him (if, in fact, it is the place he checked himself into).

Anyway, his son has been arrested on a variety of charges, and according to some news reports, he has confessed to being part of the dastardly deed.

However, the son's girlfriend isn't so sure about what is going on.

Injecting herself into a situation that she has nothing to do with--but who the media is happy to interview, since they have nothing else to report on this case, and let's face it, they love stuff like this--the girlfriend says her boyfriend is innocent, but in the same breath, she admits she doesn't know who to believe.

Then she says if her boyfriend is guilty, he was coerced by the father into participating in this fraud.

Yes, it is summer, and I swear that people do get crazy from the heat.

Obviously, this group is so crazy from the heat that they are well overdone--as is this case.

I'm wondering what "revelations" we will hear about today on this case.

It is supposed to be very hot and humid here today, and any new news generated by this case will certainly make it hotter, and yes, more uncomfortable.

Can't wait.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Rant #786: My Little Town

Yes, that guy you have been reading about who supposedly faked his own drowning and turned up en route to Florida comes from my community on Long Island.

I don't know who he is ... he could live down the street from me, on the other side of the community, or wherever. I don't know the guy.

Funny, my community seems to have been constantly in the news since the 1990s. Ever since the Long Island Lolita story, which became a media event around the world, my little town has become known worldwide as Long Island's most notorious village.

And yes, I knew of Joey B., vaguely remember him in high school, and I remember his then wife, the one who got shot in the head by a deranged lunatic who later became a porn star, strolling around the local Toys R Us with an attendant in tow.

Heck, my little town's reputation as a place for "strange" people actually started decades earlier, when the world's first transsexual, Christine Jorgensen, came out in the 1950s as an oddity for the ages.

And in the 1960s, some of Andy Warhol's brigade came from my little town.

And off and on over the decades, notorious people--like church vixen Jessica Hahn--have called my little town home.

But back to the latest rub on my little town.

This fellow supposedly went into the ocean and never came back. His son reported him missing, and a search and rescue mission was launched, costing thousands of dollars, to find him.

Nobody was found, and the man was thought to be lost. His son called in the original message that his dad was lost, and called the insurance company to tell them about the situation.

But something was awry. The man had just increased his insurance policy, had just lost his job, and had put his house up for sale.

Of course, what unfolded soon after made this whole story what it was--a real fish story for the ages.

Just slightly later, the dad was picked up in South Carolina for speeding. Evidently, he was en route from this timeshare in Orlando--God help me if it is the same timeshare community that my wife and I have interests in--but he was trying to leave a bit too fast.

He was given a ticket, but he was not arrested, because, as the police spokesman from that state said, "It is not a crime to be missing."

All the while, this man was sending emails and other messages to his family.

His wife distanced herself from the whole thing, saying that she had been planning for a funeral when she learned her husband was alive.

The man contacted police, and said he was en route from the South to local police, where he would turn himself in.

He never did, and his whereabouts are uncertain at this moment in time.

In the meantime, the wife claimed that the whole thing was set up by the man's son, her stepson.

And police evidently believe her, as the son was subsequently charged with insurance fraud and filing a false report.

The son's girlfriend believes her boyfriend innocent, stating that he was the "fall guy" for an elaborate plot concocted by the father.

And the man still cannot be found.

What I don't understand is why when this thing got rotten, New York State did not put out a warrant for the man's arrest. In this case, when he was picked up for speeding in South Carolina, the police there could arrest him and have him sent back to New York for his punishment.

Why wasn't this done?

And another thing. The whole thing smelled fishy to me once I found out that the man was supposedly driving away from his timeshare in Orlando.

You just can't drive to your timeshare and expect to get a place to stay just like that. Timeshares in that area are at a premium, and you have to plan months ahead to secure your space.

Timeshares aren't hotels. Even if you have bought into a timeshare, you can't just drive up out of nowhere and expect accommodations.

This all told me that this plot was well planned, had been well planned for at least weeks if not months, and that more people than this particular person were involved.

I don't believe the wife knew about this plot--she sure puts up a good front, if nothing else--and she has hired her own attorney to represent her.

That doesn't put her completely out of the woods, but it casts some doubt on her knowledge of this situation, which is exactly what she wants to do.

The son is in a pickle, because the burden of proof will be on him to present a defense that he was as astonished as his stepmom was that his father was still alive.

And what of the missing man? Where is he? Has he committed suicide, or is he riding around the country, looking for a new hiding place?

Stay tuned, you just know there is more to this than meets the eye.

And you just know that the networks are salivating about this story. It sounds like good fodder for a TV movie.

And what of my little town? Will it survive another round of scrutiny once again.

Sure it will. This imbecile won't do any further damage to an area whose image has been scarred for decades.

But if I see another news truck driving through our streets, I'll scream ...

For mercy. Enough is enough.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Rant #785: Why I Don't Care About the Olympics

Perhaps you were wondering why I have not written a single, solitary word about the Olympics.

Perhaps not ... but I am going to break my silence now and tell you why the Olympics and I go together like oil and vinegar.

I don't like the Olympics.

I don't like the phony pomp and circumstance, and I certainly don't like the phony nationalism that the U.S. demonstrates during the overlong process.

We become European during the Olympics, and frankly, I am not interested in athletes that throw the flag over themselves.

I don't like the fact that we have professional athletes competing, but let's face it, our hand was forced on that one.

And that leads me to the next thing.

I hate how phony people get during the Olympics.

All of a sudden, we care about sports like archery and swimming, events that we normally couldn't give a hoot about.

Sure, we know that Michael Phelps won all those medals, but even three months from now, will we care that so and so won a match in an international swimming competition apart from the Olympics?

Probably not, and we won't care about track and field, and volleyball, and the like after the Olympics is over and done with.

I also don't like the Olympic history that some people choose to conveniently forget.

Let's take the 1972 Olympics, probably the last time I really cared about this two-week sleep inducer.

Forty years ago, the U.S. basketball team lost the Gold medal to the Russians in a championship game that was so rigged that even a 15-year old kid like me back then could see it.

The Russians got three--count them, three--chances to win this game, and of course, they did, even after the U.S. team had won the game twice.

This error was never rectified, and there has been a movement to get Gold medals for the U.S. team to this day, that is how idiotically that game went.

And more importantly, 40 years ago, members of the Israeli team were murdered for just one reason: they were Jewish.

Extremists interrupted the games when they took members of the Israeli team hostage, and murdered them one by one, 11 murders in total.

ABC Sportscaster Jim McKay and his team kept us riveted to the television in describing the details, probably the highest point in American television journalism history.

You simply could not leave the television as the details leaked out.

But 40 years later, the International Olympic Committee refuses to acknowledge this event, and would not have a moment of silence for the murdered athletes during the current Olympiad.

This was a heinous, cowardly act, and the IOC, which has been accused of blatant anti-Semitism in years past, lived up to those charges once again this year.

So, in a nutshell, I congratulate the athletes for their skills, but I don't really care about the Olympics.

My sports direction during the summer is baseball, and baseball it is this summer.

The Olympics? Old fashioned, out of date, anti-Semitic, having little or nothing to do with sports, and I won't spend any more time giving my reasons for ignoring this Olympiad.

I think I have made my case.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Rant #784: The End of the 1950s

On Sunday, Aug. 5, an anniversary will be celebrated that I think a lot of people would like to forget.

More than anything else, I think they want to forget it because it signaled the end of an era, the real end of the 1950s for most of us who were around then.

On Aug. 5, 1962, Marilyn Monroe died.

Her death has been under focus for the past 50 years. Did she kill herself? Was she murdered because she knew intimate details of the Kennedy family? Was she a pawn in a power struggle between the White House and others?

No one knows, and probably no one will ever know the real truth about her passing.

And maybe that's the way it should be. It makes her aura even brighter.

She was the sex symbol to end all sex symbols. Sure, there were pinup girls before her and after her, but Marilyn Monroe set the standard.

Even today, she is looked to as the ultimate sex symbol.

She had the looks, the body, the demeanor, and she knew how to carry this thing off.

It isn't as easy as it looks, but she played it to the hilt, both professionally and in her very public private life.

She married one of America's greatest sports heroes and later one of its top playwrights.

Neither marriage lasted, but she went from one extreme to the other with a magnitude not seen before or since.

Yes, she had numerous personal problems, which were played out in the press of the 1950s and early 1960s to the hilt.

But she signified a different time. When you think of the 1950s, she comes to the fore like not even Elvis or Eisenhower does.

And the questions about her life--and death--continue to be spoken about, all these years after her demise.

On this day in 1962, I was barely three months removed from my fifth birthday. My family and I lived in a small apartment in Kew Gardens Hills, New York, and I shared my room with my little sister, who was just two years old at the time.

The morning of that day in August, I was playing with my Kenner Give-A-Show Projector, which was a pretty high-tech toy for its time. All that it was was a set of film strips that you pushed with your finger through a projector, which was more like a flashlight than a real projector. You pushed the film strips through the projector, and you could put the images anywhere.

I was projecting whatever the images were on the wall of my room, which was dark. I am sure my mom was feeding my sister at the time in the kitchen.

The radio was on as it always was back then. I don't know what New York station it was on, but it was on, and I heard it pretty well, even though I was in my room. It was a small apartment and the sound reverberated from one end of the apartment to the other.

Suddenly, the radio announcer came on the air and said something like, "We have reports out of California that movie star Marilyn Monroe has been found dead in her apartment. We don't have much more on this right now, but I repeat, movie star Marilyn Monroe has been found dead ... ."

I heard this news, and I shivered and shook. I stopped playing with my Kenner Give-A-Show Projector. I turned on the light, and I was sad, sad all over.

What did this five year old know about Marilyn Monroe?

My dad was a great fan of Monroe. He thought she was the greatest thing to happen to humanity since sliced bread. He often spoke about her in glowing terms.

So I knew the name. I probably hadn't seen any of her movies at the time, probably really didn't know who she was, but my father often spoke about her so positively that I knew that this was a negative.

And it scared me.

Since then, I've seen probably all her movies, and I understand why my dad--and so many other men, and lots of women--really loved this woman during her heyday.

She was blond, busty, beautiful and brassy, and she was the exact opposite of the 1950s, or what we thought the 1950s were--bleak, bland and boring.

When she sashayed across the screen--with her breasts the first things we saw when she entered every scene, done purposely by Monroe--we were seeing both a vixen and a wounded bird at the same time. She knew it and we knew it.

She posed in Playboy in the magazine's very first centerfold. Certainly, she set a standard that all those who have followed her have tried to reach.

Sure, there were other manufactured sex symbols at that time that wowed us--certainly Jayne Mansfield and Mamie Van Doren had their way with us--but Marilyn was the best of the bunch. Like the other ladies, she knew what she was doing, and she did it well.

Unlike the others, she did it with a panache that few sex symbols could only approach.

So on the 50th anniversary of her death, I would rather look at her life--confused and confident at the very same time.

Her death was really the end of the 1950s, even though it happened in 1962.

That innocence was gone for good, and JFK's untimely death a year later really closed the book on the innocence of a different time in our history.

Marilyn Monroe was more than a sex symbol; she was the 1950s encapsulated from the bleach blond hair on her head to her toes.

Little did we know what the 1960s would bring, and how sad is it that she only dipped her toe in the water of the tumultuous decade?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Rant #783: Happy Birthday, Eddie ... Err, Butch

Today is Butch Patrick's 59th birthday.

And if you don't know who Butch Patrick is, well, shame on you.

Butch Patrick is an icon to many baby boomers simply because of the two years he spent as the star of one of the most popular TV shows ever.

Patrick was Eddie Wolfgang Munster, the son of Herman and Lillie, on CBS's "The Munsters" TV show. Although he wasn't the first choice for this role, Patrick made the role his own, so much so that I doubt many people actually knew what he really looked like without all the makeup as a kid.

Eddie was the offspring of a Frankenstein monster and a vampire-like creatures, but the show taught us one thing: never judge a book by its cover.

The Munsters were one big happy family, no different from your family or your next door neighbor's family. They had hopes and dreams and goals, just like everyone else.

The difference was the way they looked--even cousin Marilyn looked odd in her own eyes.

And then there was Grandpa, the grandfather that everyone wanted, even if he was a little odd.

The show was actually a goof on creators Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher's previous "Leave It To Beaver," where the Cleavers were your typical All-American family.

The Munsters were too, just coming in odd packaging.

And Eddie was the next generation, carrying his "Wolfie" doll and feeding Spot, the family's pet dinosaur.

But Eddie was like every other boy his age, and was very like I was at that age.

He was shy, unconfident; he loved sports, including baseball, football and basketball; and his father was his hero.

And his favorite rock act was the Standells.

There was nothing different about Eddie, except the skin that he was in.

And I think that show taught us a lot about judging people from the outside rather than judging them from the inside.

Patrick appeared on numerous other shows, including H.R. Pufnstuf and a memorable guest appearance on "The Monkees" where he played a spoiled kid who was taught the meaning of Christmas by the Pre-Fab Four.

But Patrick will always be remembered for being Eddie, and even though he is 59 today, I guess he will always be Eddie to us.

So happy birthday, Butch. May you feed Spot for many, many more years.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Rant #782: Video Killed the Video Star

Today is the 31st anniversary of the launch of Music Television, better known as MTV.

Some people rue this day, others celebrate it.

I lean towards the former, but I understand its significance in music--and television--history.

Prior to 1981, many pop acts filmed videos. Actually, music videos probably date from the 1930s, when big bands filmed performances that were often played in movie theaters as part of the schedule of a cartoon, a short feature, and a major film.

In the early rock era, through the foresight of dad Ozzie Nelson, Ricky Nelson built his reputation on filmed music scenes that were inserted into the "Ozzie and Harriet" TV show. And let's not forget David Seville and the Chipmunks, where cartoon scenes with music were part of their weekly TV show.

Anyway, moving into the rock era, videos--often called romps--were also filmed, especially by acts that wanted to spread their music to other shores. Thus, British acts often filmed their romps to entice American audiences, and American bands often filmed their romps to entice European audiences.

Even the Beatles made these types of videos, and they continued to make them when they stopped touring in 1966. Many were shown on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

1966 was an important year for what became known as the music video.

Although other acts built their reputations on their regular TV work--Including Paul Revere and the Raiders on "Where the Action Is"--it wasn't until the Monkees came on the scene during that year that the power of television to create music stars was fully envisioned, and based on their success, fully accomplished.

Heavily influenced by the Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night" film, each weekly show featured at least one or two songs interspersed into the storyline, and some were actual music videos that purportedly showed the foursome playing their instruments and singing. Others were just interspersed as part of the storyline.

This phenomena lasted about two and a half years, but the Monkees' TV show set the groundwork for such acts as Bobby Sherman and the Partridge Family to emerge and sell millions of records through their TV shows into the early 1970s.

Michael Nesmith, who was at ground zero of the emergence of rock music videos as a member of the Monkees, took his knowledge and talent and created something called Pop Flicks, which was a very late Friday evening/very early Saturday morning show that showcased rock videos of the time (mid to late 1970s) from such acts as Adam Ant, Doug and the Slugs and Nesmith himself.

Viacom liked what they saw, and thought that a cable channel showing these videos--and nothing but these videos--would be a hit. They made Nesmith an offer to head what became MTV, but he declined, selling them the idea only.

And in 1981 on this day, "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles was the start of an incredible run.

MTV made stars of everyone from Pat Benatar to Blondie to the Police to Weird Al Yankovic, but it also ruffled a lot of feathers along the way.

Suddenly, style became much more important than substance, and videos that looked good, but didn't feature good music, were making stars out of acts that really needed a bit more seasoning.

And then, there was the racist cries from some, asking why MTV only played acts that were white. Of course, in the early days, it was programmed as a rock station, and thus, not too many current acts of the day geared to the black audience were playing rock.

Of course, once they were permitted to re-format the station, acts like Michael Jackson and Prince really revolutionized videos and what pop music was back then.

MTV became so big that it was making the music stars of the 1980s and 1990s, not radio anymore. Not since the days of the Monkees had this happened, and yes, MTV made huge stars of the Monkees again in 1986 by replaying their old shows.

But music was changing, and MTV had to change too. Since the mid to late 1990s, MTV--and its group of sister stations--have had less of an influence on pop music, simply because these stations have lessened their airplay of rock videos. Viewers became bored of the format, and today, while videos are played mainly on MTV's sister stations, it is not a necessity that an act have a video on heavy rotation to become stars anymore.

Pop music is so scattered today that I doubt that most people could name today's No. 1 in the country. People don't buy physical disks anymore, they download files with music that they like. Music charts are really a thing of the past, not meaning very much.

And some would say that MTV holds little value today too, what with its slate of reality shows like "Jersey Shore."

But while it was new and hot, it changed music, some say for the worse.

People often date modern music by MTV's launch, often forgetting that without acts like Chuck Berry and Little Richard, there would be no MTV and no rock music to speak of.

Most rock music from the 1960s through the 1970s is dismissed, not even part of the conversation when talking about top acts, top songs, etc.

As MTV moves through its 30s, it will be interesting to see what it comes up with next as a new generation of kids gravitate toward its programming.


yasmin lawsuit