Thursday, March 30, 2006

The 14 Most Relevant Baseball Teams of 2006: Part II - The American League

Well folks… here we go with Part II of the 14 most relevant teams for the upcoming season. The arrival of Opening Day has me as happy as Jonathan Pollard when Caspar Weinberger dropped dead the other day… Okay maybe not that happy! Today’s column is not about Weinberger’s lies.. But if you offer a plea bargain to a criminal… keep up your end of the deal. Granted, Pollard is no saint… but Weinberger showed his true colors when he asked the judge for a life sentence after agreeing to a guilty plea in exchange for a few years in prison. At the same time he also handed over a 46 page document to the judge that he refused to share with Pollard’s lawyers.. And then Weinberger shuffled off to sell arms for his buddy Ronnie Reagan! I just wonder if Weinberger’s funeral will feature a 21 gun salute using the guns he sold to Iran? Of course he ended up getting a pardon by the first incompetent President Bush.

Ok.. Time for the preview:

THE YANKEES - We could be approaching the end of the amazing run that has gone on since the mid 90s… The pitching is very old and creaky.. And even though the lineup is rock solid up and down with ARod, Jeter, Matsui, Giambi, Sheffield, Johnny Damon and Robinson Cano… it always comes down to pitching. Nobody seems too excited about this year’s staff… and I am starting to think that unless George coughs up a few new starters in 2007... we are going to see Toronto and the vastly improved Tampa Bay Devil Rays move to the top of that division. Nonetheless the hitters and the Mariano Rivera anchored bullpen will compensate for Randy Johnson’s weak supporting cast.. That is when Johnson is not too confused on Bring Your Daughter to Work Day. (In his defense, no matter how rich he is.. If the money was supposed to be for daycare and was allocated elsewhere… he has a valid argument) The Yankees will probably win the division much to Trophy Wife’s Delight and my chagrin.

THE BLUE JAYS - It looks like this could be the first exciting year since the early 90s when Joe Carter blasted that home run off Mitch Williams to win the World Series. However, the AJ Burnett elbow issue could cost them a possible wild card berth. The team improved itself in every which way… Roy Halladay, AJ Burnett (out for 2 starts with a sore elbow) and young Gustavo Chacin are one of the best 1-2-3 pitchers in the American League East… and former Oriole BJ Ryan anchors the pen. (They got AJ and BJ… how about CJ Nitkowski to DJ a party! Anybody know an EJ?)

The Jays also improved their lineup by bringing in Troy Glaus and Lyle Overbay to join Vernon Wells. This team is very well rounded and will be breathing down the Yankees neck all season long.

THE RED SOX - Red Sox Nation fans are lucky that the team just barely and I mean barely made this list. It was either the Sox or the Padres.. And the Sox are just a tiny bit better. Originally, I felt they made a bonehead trade by sending away Starting Pitcher Bronson Arroyo to the Reds for Willie Mo Pena. However, last Saturday I was at synagogue talking baseball with a Red Sox fan who has oh so carefully gotten rid of his Bahs-ten accent.. Although traces of it are noticeable when you mention anything pertaining to 1986 and/or Bill Buckner (Since I was a little kid.. Synagogue trips always involved God-chat and baseball chat!). The Sox fan feels it was a good trade because Arroyo would have gone to the pen, and Pena is very versatile in the outfield and will eventually be an everyday starter. Since he is deeply ensconced in Red Sox Nation, I will take his word for it! Oddly enough Sunday’s Star Ledger also echoed a very similar sentiment.

Now the staff is Josh Beckett joining the very aged Curt Schilling, David Wells and Tim Wakefield. Keith Foulke is very shaky in the pen and the lineup is basically David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. Coco Crisp might do a decent job replacing Johnny Damon. The playoff streak will end during this 20th anniversary of the Bill Buckner team.

THE INDIANS - I get the feeling this is the first of many big years for them. CC Sabathia, and Cliff Lee anchor a staff that took a hit with the loss of Kevin Millwood to the Rangers. Bob Wickman also may be near the end of the road as the stopper. However the lineup is probably a notch or 2 below the Yankees when it comes to solid players.. And they are young! They have the best offensive catcher in Victor Martinez and a solid lineup with Grady Sizemore, Casey Blake and Travis Haffner. They made a huge run late last season only to run out of gas at the finish line.. But this year they will probably do a heckuva lot better.

THE WHITE SOX - Coming off the World Series win, the Sox went out and added 35-40 homers by trading for Jim Thome who if healthy will add a major spark to this team. (He had three 2 homer games this week!) He along with Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye will be popping balls out of the ballpark on a regular basis and once Scott Podsednik realizes his playoff home run surge was just a fluke he will go back to being the sparkplug for this team with 50-60 stolen bases. Don’t forget the Sox traded slugger Carlos Lee to get Podsednik and the fans in Chi-town are quite happy with the deal. The pitching looks solid 1-5 with Mark Buehrle, Freddie Garcia, Javier Vazquez, Jose Contreras, and Jon Garland. Bobby Jenks will hold things down in the pen, but they are going to have a tough time winning the division again.

THE ANGELS - Are they in LA? Anaheim? Who knows? They lost their catcher Bengie Molina to the Blue Jays, but assuming Garrett Anderson still has something left in the tank.. he and Vladimir Guererro will keep things going for this team which is anchored by the speedy legs of multi position player Chone Figgins. His increasing popularity could lead to a lot of families naming their babies Chone! They also have a dazzling rotation with Jeff Weaver joining Bartolo Colon and John Lackey… possibly the best 1-2 punch in The American League.

THE A’S - Are they the A’s? The Athletics? Are they ready to bounce back after trading Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder? Barry Zito anchors a staff with young studs Rich Harden and Dan Haren along with the puzzling Esteban Loaiza. Huston Street holds down the pen.. Is this guy named after the most famous part of Greenwich Village? Offensively, Frank Thomas and Milton Bradley are coming to Oakland trying to show that they have recuperated from injuries and craziness to join Eric Chavez in a rather soft lineup that will lean heavily on its pitching staff.


Division Winners The Yankees, Indians and Angels
Wild Card: Chicago White Sox
Audrey Raines Award for Surprising Twist of 2006: The vastly improved Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Most Distracted Player - Jason Giambi who will once again be in the spotlight during the upcoming steroids investigation.
Most Focused Player - The newly re-singled Kris Benson
Happiest Team - Possibly the Baltimore Orioles. Last year Anna Benson said she would have sex with the entire Mets staff if she found out Kris cheated on her. Now that they have split.. how much would the players have to bribe Kris to tell his estranged wife that he had been with another woman? Late breaking news in Friday's Daily News: Anna is accusing Kris of having an affair! Break out the cologne Orioles!!

Pennant Winner: The Indians
World Series Winner: St. Louis
Best Baseball Blog: Not This One!

Monday, March 27, 2006

The 14 Most Relevant Baseball Teams of 2006: Part I - The National League

After our recent 3 part series about the Top 14 Game Shows of All Time.. it is time once again to roll out another Top 14 List.. And with baseball’s Opening Day just around the corner.. It’s time for Natesradamus’s predictions for the upcoming year. For me, baseball season started Thursday night when my NCAA brackets went down the tubes with the demise of 2 of my Final Four teams… Duke and this year’s big choke team - Gonzaga. As I tossed out my bracket sheet and thanked CBS for streaming the games for free.. It was time to go back to the usual routine of Larry King and Rita Cosby… not even realizing that Sunday would mean the elimination of my other Final 4 Teams - Villanova and UConn.

Now that I am back from my NCAA hiatus, I see that both Larry and Rita are still covering the tragic death of that grad student and the indictment of the bouncer…. I wonder if it would get this much coverage if she wasn’t so pretty. Then it is time to hear commentary about this teacher who had sex with her student and had her charges dropped because the boy was freaking out over all the media coverage. Yet the woman rapist just doesn’t get it… and continues to blame the media for this big mess.

I got a kick out of one of these lawyer talking heads who said this was every teenaged boys dream.. To have sex with an incredibly hot teacher. However, if these horny teenaged boys want to get hot blondes… they should do what other teens do… have a party and arrange for some call girls to come up to their tree house. These kids should not be getting their sex from the people who are supposed to teach them about Napolean and Shakespeare and integers and dangling participles. If this teacher wants to have sex with young boys she should change her career to what she has already proven to be - a whore. But not in a school.

So anyway without further ado… we start with the National League… later in the week we will unveil the rest of the list with the teams from The American League.

THE METS - Of course we will start out with my favorite team.. And no.. they are not on the list because I am a fan… The Mets will be much improved in ‘06. They added slugger Carlos Delgado at 1st base, plus the team is expecting some big numbers from Carlos Beltran and David Wright to shore up the middle of the line-up. The team may have made some costly oddball moves in the offseason however.. Trading Jae Seo OR Kris Benson may have made sense… but sending away both of them to shore up the bullpen may come back to bite them in the tushy if the starters fall short and Aaron Heilman and Victor Zambrano can’t pick up the slack.

I also wasn’t too thrilled to see Mike Cameron go to San Diego and I think that he and Mike Piazza may end up combining for approximately 40 dingers there. Oh well.. Billy Wagner will be a vast improvement to the bullpen. And once Pedro’s toe gets better… fans will be back at the park wearing Vote for Pedro shirts… while I will wear my rebellious Vote for Summer shirt. I don’t know how much gas Tom Glavine has in the tank.. But Steve Trachsel should bounce back from an injury filled 2005. I also like the new radio announcer Tom McCarthy.. He sounds just like Gary Cohen except he talks just a bit slower..

THE BRAVES - They win the division every year and I will continue to pick them as long as the streak continues. They look lousy on paper every year.. But they always bounce back. John Smoltz and Tim Hudson anchor the front of the rotation, and the rest of the starters will pitch lights out as soon as they put on the uniform. The bullpen has a big hole with Chris Reitsma as the stopper.. But somehow the Braves will put it all together. The lineup looks weak.. Andruw Jones won’t have such a great year like last year.. But I am so tired of picking against the Braves and seeing them win that I sheepishly again concede the division to them.

THE PHILLIES - The National League East is gonna be one strong division this year.. And the Phillies have the horses to make a run at the top. The lineup is stellar with big bopping bats of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell. If Rollins’s hitting streak continues into the season it could be a distraction since many will debate any comparison to Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game streak which took place in one season. The pitching staff is pretty decent and is anchored by Jon Lieber and Brent Myers. Who knows how much Tom Gordon will do now that he is back in the spotlight as the closer?… With the talent in this division (and the gimme games against The Nationals and The Marlins) it makes you wonder how the Braves will finish higher than 3rd.

THE CARDINALS - They should do pretty well this year.. Albert Pujols is arguably the best hitter in the National League and the Cardinal fans are praying for a full season of health from Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds. Mark Mulder, and Chris Carpenter anchor a strong staff, and like their counterparts in Atlanta, the Cards have a knack of getting the most out of pitchers who have been mediocre with other teams. Jason Isringhausen should nail down his annual 30-35 saves. It’s hard to believe that Larry Walker isn’t playing anymore. I think he will make it to The Hall of Fame. What a great player he was!

THE ASTROS - Their success could hinge on Roger Clemens decision to retire. He can’t return to the team till May 1, and I get the feeling he will be so bored away from the game that he will re-sign with the team after the one month hiatus. Roy Oswalt is still the ace of the staff… and Brandon Backe and Andy Pettite ain’t too shabby either. Brad Lidge is arguably the best stopper in the NL. The Astros also have a pretty potent lineup with Lance Berkman, Morgan Ensberg, Preston Wilson and Jason Lane. The only reason they will finish 2nd to the Cards is because St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa is a genius.

THE CUBS - A borderline for the Top 14.. Maybe no. 14 overall… and a lot of it hinges on the health of pitchers Mark Prior and Kerry Wood who are injured.. Yet again. The back of the rotation is quite solid with Carlos Zambrano and Greg Maddux.. (who might be in his final season), but those 2 can’t carry this team without Prior and/or Wood. The top of the lineup is improved with the acquisition of Juan Pierre.. The only player with a Spanish-French name. Derrek Lee is coming off an amazing year, and he will anchor the lineup with Aramis Ramirez. Stopper Ryan Dempster will have to repeat his ‘05 success to keep the Cubs on this list.

THE GIANTS - The only team from the NL West worthy of this list. The Padres won the division last year as a barely better than 500 team. and that’s because Barry Bonds was out most of the year. I won’t use today’s column to blast Bonds.. But if he can eke out one more solid year, this team should do quite well. (Imagine that Hall of Fame Day.. Maddux and Bonds.. I can see the Lupica columns now!) If Bonds has enough in the gas tank to put up some decent numbers, the team will easily win the division. The outfield will have a four man rotation with Bonds, fellow old-timers Moises Alou and Steve Finley and Randy Winn. The rotation has a strong starting 3 with Jason Schmidt, free agent Matt Morris, and Noah Lowry. Armando Benitez will be counted on to perform for a contending team… a task he has had great difficulty with in the past. But Bonds is good enough to carry the team and give WFAN afternoon drive host Chris Mad Dog Russo something to bark about during the season.

Also, I wonder what will happen once Bonds breaks Babe Ruth’s homer record of 714 and starts to target Hank Aaron’s all time record of 755. Bonds is so hated by so many people that the glare of the spotlight will be tough to overcome. If he finishes the year in the 730s or 740s will he give it one more shot despite the widespread heckling he will get from the fans? And will the anti-Bonds sentiment become a race issue? The all time home run record is held by a black man… so the racism angle might lose some muster. Keep in mind that Aaron got a ton of vicious racist hate mail as he made his run at 714. Hank Aaron’s record may not be broken by Bonds, but what happens if A-Rod is still playing into his 40’s?

Division Winners: Braves, Cardinals, Giants
Wild Card: The Mets
Wild Card if I wasn’t such a big Met fan; The Astros
Final Wild Card Pick: The Mets!
Pennant Winner: St. Louis Cardinals
The Audrey Raines is Bad! Award for Biggest Surprise Team: The vastly improved Pirates
The Don’t Jump to Conclusions that Audrey Raines is Bad! Based on the 24 Promos Award: Nate for jumping to conclusions that Audrey Raines is Bad! Based on the 24 promos.

Later in the week.. The American League and The rest of the Top 14!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Where Do You Get Your News?

So I was watching the Desperate Housewives - Grey's Anatomy double dip on Sunday night... (and Grey’s Anatomy is now the better show both in quality and ratings) and just after the Grey’s scene with the crazy tree climbing stalker woman, the local news tease came on,..."Tonight Channel 7 Remembers Bill Beutel"... Oh yeah... Bill Beutel.. I remember him... and then I saw the little graphic saying 1930-2006 and I realized why young whippersnapper Charles Perez was even mentioning the former Channel 7 anchorman.

Beutel's death actually reminded me of something long forgotten in the deep recesses of my mind. Back in the old days, I used to watch Channel 7 Eyewitness News. But, since the late ‘80s, I have been flip flopping between Channel 2 and 4... usually based on Warner Wolf's employment status at Channel 2. When Warner was on.. I watched 2.. if not.. it was Chuck and Sue... But way back when.. in the 80s... I actually did watch Channel 7... As did my mother.. and I can prove it. Here is a clip from a home movie where she gets breaking news about President Clinton from my friend Mike Roth, and Channel 7, as she was packing to move from her old house in Roselle. Click play to see the video.. in letterbox format! Check out Roz Abrams before her stunning Channel 2 makeover!

As I recall, Bill Beutel used to anchor the 6 pm news with the late Roger Grimsby... Grimsby was this old curmudgeon with a sarcastic dry wit who used to make wisecracks during the broadcast... while Beutel was the handsome older gentleman who was supposed to be the picture of class...(I’m sure Peter Jennings was inspired by Beutel when he molded his own on air persona.).. Back then Spencer Christian used to do the sports at 6 (but he would do the weather on the 5pm cast while regular weatherman Storm Field anchored the news with spell check stumper Roseanne Scamardella). Eyewitness News was the home of happy talk news.. yet it amazed me that Roger never ever ever spoke directly to Spencer Christian. Not even a thank you for his fine sports repot... nothing.. gornisht... Sports was over... Roger went to the next news story...usually a feature with Milton Lewis.. (remember him?) Grimsby stayed on until the late 80s, and Beutel just retired a few years ago.

This is how news works. Newspapers and TV stations prepare obituaries in advance so when someone famous dies.. they are ready to roll instantly with a nice tribute package. That’s how it went with Beutel. Bill Ritter, Beutel's successor on Eyewitness News, pre recorded a piece... However, I found one aspect of their Beutel tribute to be very bizarre. All of the interviews are prerecorded in the past tense... with the intent to use it after the person's death.... Well., Channel 7 interviewed the late Peter Jennings some time back.. and here is Jennings talking about Beutel in the past tense! It was very creepy... Did Jennings record obit pieces for other news people before his own death? Actually the sharp viewer (not to be confused with another late ABC News Roger... Roger Sharp) would notice that the piece was recorded for Beutel's retirement a few years ago, and it just so happened that in the sound bite Jennings referred to Bill Beutel in the past tense.

I’ll miss Bill. He was a class act and looked good for his age. And this raises the question.. Where do people get their news? Do people read blogs to catch up with what’s going on in the world? That brings me to today's commentary on stuff that has been going on that grinds my gears.

Tom Cruise... why is this man famous?? What a moron! He exercised his free speech with comments last year that blasted Brooke Shields for post- partum depression, his criticism of the mental health field (I’m married to a social worker and my dad was a shrink), and his ridiculous debate on The Today Show with Matt Lauer... .why oh why do we pay attention to this no-talent? All the gay people think he is gay.. yet if people try to out him he goes ballistic. And it’s all because of this crazy L Ron Hubbard cult he belongs to that harshly criticizes the mental health field. Of course it does.. its members go for therapy and the therapist tells them... "Hey you’re in a cult.. get out of it!". That’s why the Jews for Jesus cult’s “constitution” rejects the rabbinical teachings of Orthodox Judaism… Jews joining that logic defying organization make as much sense as a vegetarian in a hot dog eating contest.

Well the fine folks at South Park decided to exercise their free speech just like Cruise did with his absurd ramblings,... by doing an episode making fun of Cruise's cult. And what happens? No more repeats of that episode.. Ol' Tom didn’t like it... so he allegedly told his movie company (which owns Comedy Central the network of South Park) that he won't do any publicity for his upcoming movie if they allow the show to be rebroadcast.

I guess Freedom of Speech only applies to certain people. In Hollywood, if you have the right credentials you can get away with anything. Remember the actor Cliff Robertson? His career was blacklisted because of a bad check scandal.. except Robertson was the victim of a check written to him by Columbia big shot David Begelman, which Begelman then cashed by forging Cliff’s signature. The Hollywood Powers that Be decided that Robertson should be blacklisted for having the audacity to be the victim of a crime by the beloved Begelman. Imagine that.

Or how about the recent World Baseball Classic? WBC runner-up Cuba was playing a road game and one of the fans unfurled a banner criticizing Fidel Castro. The Cuban bigshot at the game ran up furiously to berate the banner holder only to be stopped by stadium security which promptly reminded the Cuban that that part of South America allows democracy and free speech… unlike Cruise and his cult world.

Hollywood is not the only place with a bizarre double standard. NJ's new Governor Jon Corzine got a call one night from Trenton lobbyist Karen Golding that she was in jail and needed some bail money. Okie dokie said the fabulously rich Corzine.. here are some shekels... and a get out of jail free card... Was it bail out now and ask questions later? It turns out that Golding was accused to stalking Union County Assemblyman Joseph Cryan and was caught red handed breaking into his car!

Cryan himself recently became the head of the State Democratic Party.. but not before he was cleared of accusations of receiving an illegal campaign donation. The accuser was a fellow who was screwed over in Union by our old favorite… eminent domain. This guy bought some land in Union and was about to hire a developer to build some townhouses when lo and behold, the big shots in Union decided to take the land back through eminent domain and let a differently politically connected local developer do the job instead. The aforementioned developer was actively involved in fundraisers for Mr. Cryan. Was Ms. Golding breaking into the car in a Watergate-esque conspiracy to find the smoking gun in this coincidence? Or was she a bit coo coo and had the hots for Mr. Cryan like the looney toon stalker who fell out of the tree in Sunday nights episode of Grey's Anatomy?

Golding is not the only stalker in the news. Some poor shlub named Ronald Martin was just convicted last week of stalking WABC talk show host and wacky yet hot conservative Monica Crowley. Martin was convicted of sending her a ton of emails and trying to give her flowers at a subway stop. Martin upon his arrest did not call the governor as far as I know,... and if so, he probably would not have gotten through. The poor guy is apparently homeless and has spent a large part of the last year and a half in mental hospitals.. Obviously his medicine hasn't been kicking in… or he decided to follow the teaching of the L Ron Hubbard cult and refused to take them. Obviously he’s not well if he likes Monica Crowley.. . .. even though she’s hot, her politics cancel out her good looks... and so what if he bought her flowers? Maybe Crowley should give the guy a shot. maybe a nice candlelight dinner at a local hot dog stand.

And what about that ABC jinx? Crowley is on WABC... Morning man Curtis Sliwa is worried about his life after his cohost Ron Kuby's testimony helped lead to the hung jury of the man he accused of shooting him.. Channel 7 just lost Bill Beutel and ABC's Evening News anchor Bob Woodruff was mortally wounded in Iraq just months after the death of Peter Jennings.

And where do I get my news?

I’m definitely avoiding the jinxed ABC entities. Maybe I’ll start listening to WOR instead. They just added Donna Hanover and some new traffic guy. Or maybe I’ll just read The Star Ledger which had a picture of an old college pal on the front page of Monday's paper. Although it annoys me that their TV critics spend so much time talking about The Sopranos and then act like it’s better than 24. I mean c’mon… Audrey Raines, Jack Bauer’s paramour working with terrorists? That beats watching a man in a coma!

Or…maybe Ill just sit in a tree and watch Grey‘s Anatomy and the Charles Perez news teases on my Ipod...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Most Incredible Five Days in Television History

Assuming they get past their squabbling, construction should soon be getting underway at the World Trade Center site.. And wouldn’t this be a good time to shift the focus on this horrible tragedy away from the date - September 11th - and more to the event itself?

The stigma of the date is starting to be felt by little pishers entering kindergarten this fall… kids who were actually born on September 11th 2001...not to mention other little kiddies who also try to celebrate their birthdays on that day. They will have to spend their lives knowing what was going on as they as they entered this fine fine world. The same goes for people who were born on December 7, 1941... Even though it is a day that “will live in infamy”, we now refer to it not by date… but as Pearl Harbor Day.. After 12-7-41, the focus was more on the event than on the date… and kids back then who were born on 12-7 had to also deal with the coincidence. One such person born on the 1st anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day… Peter Tomarken went on to a career of game show stardom.. hosting Press Your Luck which ranked number 7 on my recent list of the Top 14 Game Shows Ever. Tomarken’s life sadly came to an end Monday when he died in a plane crash while on a Roberto Clemente-esque charity mission.

I recently purchased the September 11, 1965 issue of TV Guide. I used to collect TV Guides until last October, but I stopped when they made the foolish decision to discontinue the regional listings in favor of the current national glossy format. However, even though I don’t collect them anymore I still buy certain back issues on eBay… specifically those from certain landmark dates.. This particular issue covers the day I was born,…. couldn’t get much more landmark than that!

You cant imagine how tough it was to get that issue… since the September 11th issue happened to be a Fall Preview Issue… (Are we getting more comfortable now with using September 11th in that context folks?) I knew Hogan’s Heroes premiered the day I was born.. But as I read through the Fall Preview… which back then was vastly less detailed and shorter than the Fall Previews as we know it today. It was also an innocent time for TV in the pre cable era where people weren’t downloading shows on their video ipods, or watching the NCAA tournament on their pc’s at work since CBS so kindly offers it for free! And yes folks.. I did pick the Wisconsin-Milwaukee victory!

This issue also led me to a realization. You really have to salute the TV programmers who put together an ass kicking lineup for Fall 1965. Take a look at this incredible list of landmark shows that premiered in what I call the most amazing 5 days in television history….

The fun started on September 13th with the premiere of 3 new shows: The night actually kicked off with the season premiere of Rawhide… which is only notable for me because it shares a name with my favorite now defunct bar that used to be in Nyack.

MY MOTHER THE CAR - How original can you get? Barry Van Dyke starred in this much maligned show about a guy who buys a car that is inhabited by the ghost of his dead mother. It was a concept from way out there.. But people still make jokes about it to this day!

PLEASE DON’T EAT THE DAISIES - The show was based on the famous Jean Kerr book which was later made into a movie with Doris Day.

F TROOP - Arguably the most popular of the 9-13 premieres.. Larry Storch, Ken Berry and Forrest Tucker starred in this much repeated sitcom about the wacky Fort Courage.. Hey did Dan Rather serve there?

September 14th marked the premiere of 5 classics even more famous than the shows that premiered the day before…

LOST IN SPACE - Danger Will Robinson… Crush Kill Destroy… what else can you say? The premiere was the episode where Dr. Smith snuck on the space ship… and of course it was the show that gave us the futuristic much imitated Robot! The show was produced by disaster movie maven Irwin Allen and was about the first family to colonize in outer space.

GIDGET - Sally Field was in it.. And she’s a surfer…What more can you ask for?

GREEN ACRES - Ok.. Lets all sing along.. Green Acres is the place to be… Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor starred as NY City muckety mucks who decide to give it all up to move to a farm in Hooterville.. The show was spun off from Petticoat Junction.. Can you imagine a show nowadays taking place in… Hooterville? It would probably be a reality show where Hooters girls would be judged by Simon Cowell wisenheimers.

BIG VALLEY - If you weren’t watching Oliver the Pig over on CBS, ABC was kicking off Big Valley… The show featured the Barkley family and the premiere episode had a Maury Povich-esque twist where a gentleman arrives claiming to be the son of the late family patriarch Tom Barkley. Oy vey.. And what a cast.. Barbara Stanwyck! Lee Majors! And wait till you see what a cutie pie Linda Evans was back in 1965! I’d show you the pic, but my scanner is on the fritz… thank you HP…. And here is a knee slapper from this yuksters at the TV Guide Fall Preview department.. “There seems to be everything in the Big Valley but a jolly green Giant” Yo ho ho!

I SPY - The Jackie Robinson of sitcoms.. Bill Cosby and Robert Culp costarred as the dynamic duo of undercover agents… and also marked the first sitcom with the first black man as the lead. The show was filmed all over the world and was produced by Sheldon Leonard who as readers of this blog now know,… was a cousin of Trophy Wife..

Thursday… in the pre- Must See TV… this premiere sure as heck deserved to be billed that way…

THE DEAN MARTIN SHOW - The showbiz legend had one heckuva premiere with an outrageous guest list… Jack Jones, Steve Allen, Danny Thomas, Eddie Fisher, Jan and Dean, Diahann Carroll, Bob Newhart, Joey Heatherton, The Krofft Puppets.. (then called the Marionettes) and… the Chairman of the Board… Frank Sinatra… Gosh.. Who did they get on the second show?

Friday… Sheldon Leonard welcomed a new cousin by marriage although it would be 2004 before we would finally be related.. And what a night.. Not only in the maternity ward at Mt. Sinai.. But also in television land.. No wonder the nurses weren’t paying attention to me.. There were too many awesome premieres…

HOGAN’S HEROES - For one thing, it helped make game show legend Richard Dawson famous in the USA, and actually got some yuks out of the premise of a POW camp... That gave new meaning to the term.. The inmates running the asylum! Bob Crane was the star… although his x rated hijinks that were shown in Auto Focus built his legacy for a new generation… Bob Clary was also on the show.. He was actually a Holocaust survivor…

HONEY WEST - Anne Francis starred as a James Bond-esque private eye.. Her lipstick was actually a radio transmitter. That uniqueness lasted a full day till another show hit the airwaves that featured a lot of other outrageous gadgets.

THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS SHOW - Not the variety show but actually a sitcom where Tom is Dick’s long lost brother who is now an angel! The boys weren’t too famous then.. But maybe this show helped launch their careers… not to mention the uncomfortable precedent of CBS showing weird supernatural shows on Friday nights such as the wacky insane Ghost Whisperer show with Jennifer Love Hewitt that currently inhabits that timeslot. Maybe in retrospect this show was not that legendary after all.

THE WILD WILD WEST A show I loved as a kid.. It was a tongue in cheek western about a guy named Jim West. Each time it went to commercial, they froze the final pre commercial shot and then zipped it to a corner of the screen. The next time they went to commercial, the shot was again frozen and moved to the next corner until the show was over and all the frozen shots were onscreen and basically recapped the whole episode. The term is technically called a wipe… and it actually was quite a cool idea. I also didn’t realize until I got the TV Guide that Wild Wild West came to this earth the same day that I did!

Saturday… Would you believe that would you believe used to be asked without a Don Adams accent? That all ended on 9-18-65

GET SMART - What a legend! GSN just ran a week of Match Game episodes with Don Adams, and you could see him cringe in pain as each of the panelists continuously did their Maxwell Smart impressions. Here is how TV Guide describes it…

“One episode co-authored by Mel Brooks involves a dwarf called Mr. Big, a NY Mets doubleheader, a plot to blow up the Statue of Liberty , a diabolical weapon called Dante’s Inthermo and a scow full of rubber garbage. Some of the plots on the other hand are preposterous”.

That show also started my habit of singing the tune loudly at automatic sliding doors. I am now banned by the doormen at many finer apartment buildings!

I DREAM OF JEANNIE - While Sharon Stone goes around bragging about how much skin she will show in Basic Instinct 2... Barbara Eden pushed the envelope with this legendary show by showing her belly button. Eden is about 20 years older than Sharon Stone and still holds her own quite well, thank you very much. The show is about an astronaut played by Larry Hagman who finds a bottle.. opens it.. And out pops Jeannie. Bill Daily from the Bob Newhart show was also one of the stars. This was not one of my favorites by the way, but is still a classic.

Sunday… Would you believe there was something to watch on Sunday in the Pre-Simpsons, Pre-60 Minutes era??

THE FBI - A Quinn Martin Production! Remember that announcer from Barnaby Jones? Efrem Zimbalist Jr. starred as Lew Erskine.. who also has a personal life that just complicates his working life and adds intriguing plot lines to the final of the week‘s premieres. Sort of like The Sopranos for Good Guys. Speaking of which.. I finally saw an episode last week… so big deal.. Tony gets shot by the old dancing guy from the Great Adventure commercials.

Wow.. What a week… 15 awesome shows… a Smothers Brothers flop… and it all appeared in the September 11th 1965 Fall Preview! I think TV execs have been drained of their creative juices since I doubt we will ever see a week with so many fantastic premieres!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Sopranos?

Well.. everybody is all excited because woo hoo The Sopranos are coming back Sunday night... and for me... it means more hoopla about a show I don't watch. I haven’t had HBO for at least 10 or 15 years... so aside from the one episode I saw off a buddy's dvd a couple of years ago, I really don’t know too much about the show. I liked the episode.. but not enough to run right to the cable company to order it.

Well a couple of weeks ago, Trophy Wife was complaining to me about how annoying it was to have dial up... and I was complaining to her about how high our phone bill is. To be honest she has a point.. dial up can't handle all the graphics that adorn websites and it was a royal pain in the neck to sit and wait an hour to upload and then download my 8 minute podcast interview with Walter "Its Hard Out Here For a Pump" Nagel. (Listen to my last pod cast to understand that reference! Kudos to my buddy Craig for coming up with that knee-slapper)

I called the local cable company and lo and behold... we could kill the proverbial two birds with one stone... (a phrase one should never use when talking to people from The Audubon Society). The cable company has a promotion for a cable modem AND phone service for a fee much cheaper than the phone bill had been... And, added the overzealouos salesman.. HBO is included!

Well we got the cable modem hooked up and its a breeze... and I'm thrilled beyond belief that we won't be getting these big phone bills anymore.. but alas... HBO is not my eager beaver salesman over promised and under delivered. However, the cable company nicely agreed to throw it in for a month.. which is fair enough because I tend to watch too many bad movies already. The other night I sat through 2 hours of this horrible Alec Baldwin movie... (and by the way I liked "The Marrying Man"!) called The Last Shot about this bizarro plot to stage a fake movie filming just to lure in some mobsters in a sting. It was a pretty lame-o movie with maybe one or two chuckles along the way. I must admit I liked Toni Collette in this role and shes come quite a long way since Muriel’s Wedding!! However, this whole cable thing might be a moot point, because if the cable company drops GSN to add the new Mets channel as other systems have done.. its gonna be adios cable and helloooo satellite dish!

But why is that we glorify the mob and criminals? I just don't get it. Back in my radio days, a man whose young son had been murdered told me he couldn’t understand why people watch "Murder She Wrote".... because it glorifies murder. I always kept that grieving father's comments in the back of my mind when I thought about buying into The Sopranos frenzy.

And what is with this fixation with prisoners? How is it that one of the Menendez brothers found a wife.. while my single buddies continue to troll the singles scene and peck away at their computers trying to meet chickies on JDate?? And they still can't find anyone?

Granted, some shows have a way of showing a gray area when it comes to the good guys/bad guys battle. Many shows have created situations where you actually have to root for the bad guy because his bad has some asterisks. CSI-NY (which is becoming the best of the CSIs) had an episode last week where a guy killed a woman who had extorted him once before and was about to do it again. (He was a restaurant owner who lost his 1st restaurant and his family left him when a woman scammed him with a food poisoning accusation, and he killed her after catching her red-handed in his new restaurant trying to do it a 2nd time). 24 also does this all the time too. Speaking of which, I'm dreading Monday's episode with the Edgar post mortem. And since they are in the sealed room does that mean Edgar's body is just going to lie there for the next few episodes. Y'think Bill Buchanan will throw himself at Chloe to console her? I think he used to be with Michelle and her character also died on the same day. Hmm...

Getting back to the topic of organized crime, if I was the program director of WABC.. .this is the first thing I would do. FIRE RON KUBY. He doesn't deserve to be co-hosting the morning drive show with Curtis Sliwa. His testimony on the witness stand in the Gotti trial this week shows that there are no words in the English language to define how low he has sunk. In his pre-WABC days, Kuby was a relative nobody.. .he used to be the late William Kunstlter's little sidekick.,.. and all he really did was clip Kunstler's eyebrows. By the way, Kunstler’s widow Margaret Ratner later had a little feud with Kuby about legal files that her late husband left behind.

Kuby... a defense lawyer by trade has put a black mark on other defense lawyers with his antics over the years. I mentioned this in a prior column that constitutionally, every accused criminal deserves the right to a solid defense. No question about it. But some people take cases for the wrong reasons.. to further their own agenda. From a radio entertainment persepective, Kuby has 2 things going for him .. he is a bleeding heart liberal and he has charm. But he can shmooze his way only so much when he opens his big mouth and takes on a cause just to draw attention to himself. That is not the purpose of a defense attorney.

And in reality.. If Kuby didn’t get the gig with Curtis Sliwa, he would probably be a talking head on MSNBC with Rita Cosby...(doesn't that Daily News reporter who interviewed that Littlejohn guy bear an uncanny resemblance to Rita?) and the other hosts on the all news stations.. like that annoying lawyer from FL with the long dark hair and lipgloss who is an inspiration to thank God every day that I'm married since she reminds me of the awful women I used to meet back when I was single. But these liberals are a dime a dozen and Kuby knows it. Although I may not agree 100% with Curtis Sliwa.. he is the heart and soul of the show.... and Kuby would have a lot less shekels in the bank if it werent for the fact that he rode Curtis Sliwa's coattails. Actually Kuby wouldn’t have shekels because he is a self hating Jew...

So what does Kuby do? He testifies in the Gotti Jr. trial. Gotti Jr. was on trial for hiring the hitman who tried to kill Curtis Sliwa several years ago by ambushing him in a taxi. Sliwa only escaped by climbing out of the taxicab window. Let me tell you my viewpoint on this whole Gotti issue. I assume the Gottis are plumbing salesman. That's what they say. Who am I to question? I like their old lawyer Bruce Cutler who pronounced the word mafia as Ma - feye-a as he said he wasn’t familiar with the word or its pronunciation. I lead the na├»ve driven life when it comes to these things, so I dont know much about organized crime, because that alleged lifestyle doesnt fascinate me. I don’t watch the Sopranos…. And I have never seen the Godfather… although it has been suggested that that be the next movie series I see after I finish up with Star Wars.

In his trial, Gotti Jr. needed to prove that he has been out of the alleged family business since '99 to avoid being found guilty due to the expiring of the statute of limitations. And what does Kuby do? He goes on the stand to testify that Gotti Jr. told him in '99 that he wanted to live the straight life, thereby sticking it to his meal ticket, and digging the knife deeper into Curtis’s back. Kuby’s agenda? Look at his past history.

Curtis feels that Gotti Jr. is guilty. Do you think he is going to live in fear now that there has been a second mistrial? Why should Curtis have to live with that fear because of a man whose success he is almost 100% responsible for? I think WABC should just cut him loose and find any from the many other liberals that walk our streets to replace him on the lefty vs. righty show. I would even nominate Alberich who writes DAS Blog as an excellent candidate for the position. Based on his blogs, he fit’s the bill perfectly, and he also bears an uncanny resemblance to my former Rabbi.

Now if you will excuse me I must set my vcr to The Sopranos. You don’t think I’m going to miss Desperate Housewives and The Family Guy??

Monday, March 06, 2006

It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp

No.. today’s column is not about the Oscar winning song.. (which by the way kicked off a crazy finish of 8 out of 11 accurate picks in my Oscar pool). However.. The song would be appropriate for the new town in Florida… a wacky but now retracted proposed town being developed by Domino’s owner Thomas Monaghan,

Start singing along folks.. Its gonna be called Ave Maria.. And according to the original proposal….if you’re not Catholic.. they don’t want you there. Even Governor Jeb Bush attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the new town that Monaghan promises will never have abortions, porn, contraception at a drug store, or a Little Ceasars franchise. Now, Monaghan has realized that he has a little controversy on his hands.. And has announced these proposals will only apply to the new Catholic college he wants to build within the confines (pun intended) of Ave Maria. Businesses will also have to sign agreements in their leases that the aforementioned products will not be offered at any time.

Porn… I’m all for a ban.. The porn magazine industry is in such a disarray since so much of it is free on the internet.. Not to mention all the movies people can buy and/or rent… and most seem to like the movies better than the magazines. Will Monaghan force an internet ban like the ultra Orthodox Jewish community in Lakewood, New Jersey? The magazines are out of control and some of the stuff that is on the covers (not to mention the covers of FHM and Maxim) really shouldn’t be out there for the eyes of the little ones. Some of the harder core porn mags have covers that are way too graphic.. So if he wants to ban porn. I won’t complain. But wait till he runs into the Supreme Court-eque question of what constitutes porn? Will the aforementioned non nude mags also be banned? How about the SI swimsuit issue? How about the fitness magazines that show women in bikinis? Where do you draw the line? Hmmmm…

Speaking of porn.. Do you think Fox News Channel owner Rupert Murdoch ever looked at My Spaces before he bought it? That website is out of control… with wacko pedophiles reaching out to girls under the age of 18. As it stands right now... the chat rooms are so out of control with these pedophiles lurking around. NBC News Reporter Chris Hanson has done some remarkable undercover pieces showing sexual predators being lured to a home under the guise of meeting an underage teen. The pervert shows up at a house to meet a kid… and hello.. Its Chris Hanson…

I was researching the recent game show column and I read a column on a My Spaces blog, and I couldn’t believe some of the links posted there. Let’s cut right to the chase. Attention parents of teenagers!! Why don’t you take more control over your child’s internet access and/or access to a digital camera. it’s a lethal combination, Some of these pics that have been posted online are absolutely scary! There are so many sickos out there who are perusing these websites and trying to meet these children, while the parents just go around lollygagging without a clue about what their kids are posting out there. People may want to blame My Spaces, but teenagers are sophisticated enough to build their own websites… and while its ok for adults to post “adult content”… somebody… a concept called PARENTS should do some parenting and make sure that their kids are not turning into a new generation of Traci Lords. Maybe there is some merit to the Lakewood internet ban after all!

Abortions - Lets face it.. have you ever seen a storefront clinic that has the word “abortion” posted out front? Nope.. But when the good little Catholic girls are no longer virginal in Monaghan-land.. And of course condoms won’t be available.. They will just have to hop in the car and go to the next town to have their abortions. This traveling abortion circus will make a mockery of the whole teenage premarital sex ban and probably open up the eyes of some of the more reasonable looney tunes who will realize that maybe the idea of banning birth control is not such a brilliant idea… and abortions will always be available as the girls who go get them.

And just Monday, Governor Mike Rounds has signed a new law into effect that bans almost all abortions in South Dakota except where it endangers the mother. Lets flash back in our time machine to last month's blog... "Klein and King".. for this natesterdamus nugget!

“The Nancy Klein event was when I permanently became Pro-Choice, and realized how scary life would be if the Supreme Court ever overturns Roe v Wade. I don’t necessarily think abortion is right.. but it must remain legal. I also realized this issue doesn’t have much to do with abortion… but about morons who want to butt into personal family decisions. The Right to Lifers, as evidenced by the Klein case are out of control and need to be stopped before things get too far... especially the extreme religious right. Sadly, this hasn’t stopped Bush from being elected TWICE.. And in reality the President’s most powerful job… is picking the Supreme Court justices who will ultimately keep or reject this law.

Who knows how the courts will rule on these type of topics if Bush keeps picking justices? The Right Wingers only care about their extreme beliefs and their attempts to overturn Roe v Wade could lead to a lot of scenarios. Lets say a rape victim wants an abortion.. . Amazingly some right wingers will say the procedure is ok if she was “raped” and that means a “crime” was committed.. Which means without a conviction, there was no crime, and then we will live in a society where victims of rape and incest will be forced to carry a baby. Do you really think a rapist would be convicted before the point where it would be safe to abort a fetus?”

Well now South Dakotans have lost a freedom granted by our constitution.. Rape and incest victims are not protected by this law.. so if a pervert meets a teenager on My Space and rapes her.. she has to keep the baby. And of course the question of how this baby will be supported has not been thought through by these moronic SD lawmakers. And how about this horrific scenario? A crazy sick man decides to molest his stepdaughter... the aforementioned teenager now MUST carry the baby if he impregnates her. He goes to prison...(assuming of course that the teen's mom doesn't buy his crazy alibi..."But… she seduced me") And who helps her support the baby?

But before we blame Governor Rounds, who was too cowardly to speak to the press.... lets blame the voters. Don’t you people realize what happens when we vote Republicans into office? Any woman out there who sadly could be forced to carry a baby because they are the victim of such horrific violence should not be voting Republican. See what happens folks when you give the party power on the local level! Wow.. welcome to South Dakota.. where perverts can father children and poor rape victims get to carry them! Maybe their Chamber of Commerce can make that their tourism advertising slogan

As for the birth control ban…how absurd can you get? Im not such an expert on Catholicism.. But don’t Protestants allow birth control? Ok.. So they wanna ban my fellow Jews.. But Protestants too! This is worse than a golf course! A Protestant won’t be allowed to buy condoms, The Pill… or anything else a sponge worthy man’s paramour would want to pick up on a routine trip to Walgreens. Will the next town have a sign in its drug store window…”Last Jimmy Hat before Ave Maria”… Wow.. What a marketing campaign.

Some have made the argument that there are some very orthodox towns such as New Square. I’m not 100 percent sure.. but I believe its almost exclusively Hasidic.. And they have strict rules that all chusids must observe. You gotta give the chusids credit. They really appreciate the beauty of a woman! When I was a teenager, I simultaneously discovered women and The Honeymooners. I used to get a kick out of Ralph Kramden getting so discombobulated that all he could say was “Homina Homina”…Then every time I would see a beautiful woman.. It because a method of measuring how stunning she was if all I could say was “Homina Homina”… Then as the teen years became the 20s.. we would simply refer to beautiful women as hominas.

And the chusids really must be saying “homina homina“. The men are so prone to get all stimulated from seeing female skin that the Rabbis have issued strict modesty rules where the women are to be covered from head to toe. But, the more observant go even further than that.. And in New Square the sexes walk on alternate sides of the street…and woman are not considered modest if they sit in the front seat of a car.. So they are not allowed to drive. But when push comes to shove.. the whole issue about the men looking at skin is kind of sexy actually… it shows how much they appreciate the beauty of a woman.

Most of this New Square information is made available to us by the town’s spokesman Rabbi Meyer Schiller, an incredibly fascinating person who grew up Reform and later became an ultra Orthodox New Square man. Schiller had to give up all of his old vices,… except for one… The New York Rangers… a team I despise, but I guess you can give Schiller a pass for that one, I know in the 80s he used to watch his beloved team wearing a Rangers jersey over his Chusid outfit,… no truth to the rumor that New Square passerby have heard old tapes of Marv Albert and Sal Red Light Messina being drowned out with yells of “Islanders suck!” That’s not to be confused with the Monday night yells from my house during 24 of “Get out of there Edgar… Edgar bubbele..... run for safety. Get into the sealed room”.. right before my favorite character died from an outbreak of nerve gas. It was so sad seeing Chloe looking at him with such heartbreak from the sealed room as he inhaled the gas and dropped dead…. I always rooted for him… the short chubby guy… to finally hook up with Chloe… He was so sponge worthy…. Maybe it would have been nice if she would could flashed him her boobies so he had something to look at in his final moment… but then again… I guess Ave Maria, FL wouldn’t have aired 24.. Too pornographic.

I can just hear the Ave Maria advertising campaign being sung to the tune of “Gilligan’s Island”…. no abortions, no porn, no birth control, not a single luxury,…. And with all of these Victorian morals.. they might be better off singing Ave Maria's true theme song...”It’s hard out here for a pimp”

Friday, March 03, 2006

1977 Part II - The Summer of Sam

It was May 25, 1977... the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend of... The Summer of Sam. Memorial Day always kicked off the summer... The Jerry Lewis Telethon, then on Channel 5 marked the end of summer… and it was on September 8, 1977 just days after Jerry sang “You Will Never Walk Alone” that Interpol met and discussed the dangers of audio and video piracy. (Don’t you also watch the disclaimer at the beginning of movies??) On that fateful May day, all the other kids were gearing up to see this new Star Wars movie featuring r2d2, c3p0, Chewbacca and Princess Leia and Darth Vader. Me?? What did I know? I was home that Friday afternoon watching Match Game '77 with a panel of Dick Smothers, Meg Bennett, Fannie Flagg, along with Brett, Chuck and Richard. Any fact checkers want to doubt that was the panel that Friday?? I'll leave the details of that day’s episode of The Price is Right to my blog pal Louis in Tampa, but I think they gave away 2 cars, someone hit a dollar on the wheel and one of the contestants overbid in the showcase showdown that featured Johnny Olsen cavorting with Janice Pennington and Dian Parkinson in their cleavage filled bikinis.

The Summer of 77 was also known as the Summer of Sam.... Spike Lee made a pretty good movie about that fateful summer as chics were scared to make out with their boyfriends in their Dodge Darts because of...."the Son of Sam". Michael Badalucco who used to be in "The Practice" did a great job playing Son of Sam.. especially in the scene where he engages in a conversation with a talking dog! There also was an amusing scene where John Leguizamo shows how his character is not too into his girlfriends needs in the bedroom. The movie also featured Jim Jensen playing himself.. and it was great to see the Channel 2 legend once again! He died a short time after the movie was released.

Now, close to 30 years later, I have finally seen the original Star Wars. And you know what? I actually liked it. However had I not seen the other 3 movies first, I don’t think I would have liked it as much. For you peeps who saw the 1977 movie when it came out... you didn’t have the backstory of the first three flicks. That’s why I could sit patiently while Sir Alec Guiness explained to Luke Skywalker how the force works.

By the way, remember back in the early 80s, Channel 5 used to run movies on Sat. nights at 11pm under the guise of “The Channel 5 Movie Club”. It was a perfect opening act for “Fright Night” which aired afterwards on Channel 9. The Channel 5 Movie Club would show “uncut” movies which means yours truly actually could see an occasional breast slipped past the censors when they showed films like “Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice” and “Straw Dogs”. Viewers could even send in for a pin… and who you might ask would actually join The Channel 5 Movie Club?? Well folks, here is that pin! Maybe we will use it as a symbol for movie columns on this blog,

Star Wars picks up approximately 25 or so years after SW III left off. Twins Luke and Leia who were adopted at the end of the third movie have yet to meet. At the end of SW III, Obie wan Kenobie arranged for them to be raised by two different families. However, their lives are quite different. Leia is a glamorous, sophisticated Princess, while Luke works on his Uncle’s farm, never really goes anywhere, and spends a lot of time obsessing about his real father.

Leia however is a real swashbuckler. Darth Vader and his gang have created the Death Star…. A facility powerful enough to destroy a planet. But the Death Star has a vulnerability which can cause it to be destroyed.. And that little sneak Leia manages to steal the plans to do so. Ol’ Darth finds out about it and Leia downloads the info into R2D2.… which means he is basically an Ipod… and you don’t need a subscription to Itunes to listen to it! R2 is sent out to find Obie… so that once again the Force can save the world!

By now I of course have learned that these stretches of the imagination can be attributed to ... The power of the force! It would have been nice to know about this when I saw the first movie and sat there stunned that the little pisher Annakin Skywalker could save the world. How ironic that this movie has a similar ending with his son Luke using the force. It’s also interesting to note that Luke sees his family get murdered and decides instantly to join The Force… while Annakin’s mother’s murder inspired him to go off on a murderous rampage where he killed innocent women and children. And I always thought the force worked when there is a runner on the base behind you! I saw this movie “Blast from the Past” recently where this kid is born and raised in an underground bomb shelter after his weird parents erroneously thought a nuclear bomb had gone off. The father teaches his son about baseball.. But the kid doesn’t understand what a force means until he leaves his bunker to buy groceries and ends up going to a baseball game.. At which point he bellows out… “Oh the force… now I get it!!” .

Luke purchases R2D2 and C3P0 literally off the back of a truck….and while cleaning 'em and preparing to clean out the hard drive….he finds the embedded info. Pretty sophisticated for 1977. Luke’s day starts out very Jack Bauer-esque…. One minute he’s working on a farm wondering who his real father is.. The next moment he is called in to save the world. .. And with plenty of references to real time.. it starts to once again look like another episode of 24. Speaking of which, wasn't Mondays episode of 24 just fantastic? It was a lot better than the 8pm hour when Deal or No Deal jumped the shark at the very moment that Donald Trump walked onto the stage. And how about Sean Astin's character's meltdown? I remember when he was a kid, his parents John Astin and Patti Duke Astin hosted the local version of the Jerry Lewis telethon... And their kids would be playing around on stage during the later hours of the telethon.. Patti Duke would actually start yelling at them on live TV when they acted up! And next week on 24... a 2 hour episode with Tony and Kim making appearances. I'm psyched!!

At this point you have to keep a chart about who knows what. I know that Darth Vader was Annakin Skwalker and fathered both Luke and Leia. But, the '77 viewer doesn’t know this, nor do Luke and Leia which is kind of kooky since they kind of have a little spark going after they meet. Darth Vader apparently doesn’t know that Leia is his daughter... yet Obie won kenobie who is now an older man seems to have the whole family tree down pat.

Lucas is quiet consistent with the SW mythology since stuff that is referred to in this movie,… are consistent with the facts laid out in movies he made more than 20 years later. One exception is when Obie gives Annakin’s light saber to Luke and says his dad wanted him to have it… That’s not quite true since in the end of SW III, Obie beats the living hell out of Annakin and then confiscated his light saber. However, both droids at one point are on the same ship as Darth yet they never see each other. If they did see each other, then Darth would recognize them from his youth... yet if Darth still has the psychic powers of the Force... wouldn’t he sense his two buddies were on the ship? Or was this a ploy to save Princess Leia since he really knows she’s his daughter? And does he really kill Obie wan Kenobie? Guiness is back for the next movie... I checked the cast on IMDB but carefully avoided any unless he appears in flashback. I’m not too sure about this one... and please don’t post comments that would give it away.

I like how the characters allude to past events that from the first 3 films.. but the '77 viewers who were seeing it just assumed this was part of the Great Star Wars mythology. The story picks up with Luke being recruited by Obie Wan to use the powers of the Force to fight evil and help save the Princess. They decide to hire a renegade pilot Han Solo played by a very young Harrison Ford. Of course as is the case with every movie.. the “troubled hero” is found in a seedy location… this time at a very sleazy bar in a neighborhood referred to as “a hive of scum and villiany“ When they meet Han Solo at the bar, the rough and tough bartender evokes memories (and maybe exact lines) of the bartender in "Its a Wonderful Life" played by Sheldon Leonard... who just so happens to be related to my wife. He was back in the news this week with the death of Don Knotts.. Since it was Sheldon Leonard’s idea to add Knotts to the cast of “The Andy Griffith Show”

Once Solo is ready to take off.... the adventures begin… Accompanied by Chewbacca, (the only actor to appear in SW III and the ’77 movie), r2, c3 and a rejuvenated Obie.. Its time to save the world… a task that can only ultimately be accomplished by destroying the Death Star with a precise air attack. Along the way, our pals get into all kinds of tight binds.. And ultimately… Obie “reunites” with Darth in a thrilling light saber duel, Darth makes note of the fact that the two are meeting again.. But what the 77 viewers don’t know is that Obie once gave Darth a can of whoop-ass in SW III which severely deformed him and forced him to walk around with what turned out to be the best selling costume for Halloween 1977. Darth seems to finish Obie off… he just kind of dies and melts there on the ground.. Or maybe it was some kind of force thing going on and he really doesn’t die! Hmmmm…

The story is well presented and the special effects are excellent and don’t pale in comparison with the 3 movies that Lucas would make more than 20 years later. It appears that he had the concepts for the first 3 movies in his mind before he wrote Star Wars because the consistency is remarkable. The only disappointment.. And it really doesn’t affect the quality of the movie was…. There’s no Yoda!! I even wore my Yoda watch when I watched the movie that I mentioned in the review of SW III.

The dvd that I saw apparently is not the exact version that was in the ‘77 movie since Lucas tweaked it and fixed it up a bit. However, I really don’t want to track down the original vhs since the quality is nowhere as sharp as the dvd.. And I probably wouldn’t even notice the subtle changes.

So therefore I am just gonna assume that the final bladder grade would be the same if I had seen the original flick that you folks saw….

On a scale of 1 to 4 bladders meaning how less likely you would be to leave in the middle to go to the bathroom… the original Star Wars….. It’s a 4 bladder movie!!

Here are my Oscar Picks for the big awards…

Actor - Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Actress - Felicity Huffman
Supporting Actor - Paul Giamatti
Supporting Actress - Michelle Williams
Director - Brokeback Mountain
Best Picture - Crash