Thursday, October 26, 2006

TV 3Q - Fall 2006: Have our Heroes on "Lost" Lost Viewers to "Heroes"?

Network TV has undergone a major transformation since the fall of 2004.. Looking back to that fateful fall, ABC was finding itself in a desperate situation.. No pun intended!. While CBS was making millions on the CSI franchise and NBC was loading up on Law and Orders, and FOX was counting shekels with American Idol, 24, and Sunday Night Cartoons.. ABC had turned into the network of irrelevance as their lineup consisted of shows with no buzz… except for the long running Monday Night Football which is only on for four months. (MNF is now airing on ESPN with monster ratings!)

Well along comes ABC with its 2004 fall line-up and lo and behold they had these 2 new hot shows... Desperate Housewives and Lost. (with a 3rd in the on deck circle - Grey’s Anatomy) DH was the first attempt at a prime time soap opera since the mid 1990s when Melrose Place ruled the roost at Fox... Two Melrose actors were hired to star in the new show, along with Teri Hatcher who had been in a notorious Seinfeld episode featuring the memorable quote… “They’re real and they’re fantastic!” ... DH was also seeking to become a humorous prime time soap.. something not seen since Dallas and Dynasty in the late 70s- early 80s.. although I’m not sure how much of that humor was actually intentional. DH also hired 2 Melrose actors plus vampy Nicolette Sheridan... who had been on the Dallas spin-off Knots Landing in the early 80s.. (The show actually premiered in the tail end of 1979)

Speaking of tail end.. Lost premiered with a premise of “a group of strangers brought together” when they survive a plane crash on some mysterious island.. and with a nod to Fox's popular X Files of the 90s... inspired conspiracies and theories and much water cooler talk and comments on the TV Blogs. Nonetheless, DH and Lost were going about it with a different tactic.. continuing storylines which means you pretty much need to follow the show on a weekly basis…or you can wait and buy the DVD... At the time of their premieres, 24 had been using that same playbook for 3 seasons and was increasing in popularity.

Usually baseball fans can just wait till the Post World Series November sweeps to get caught up with the new season. However, TV viewing has changed, the shows come out on DVD a season later.. and you can now watch most shows on-line the morning after they air. But then you have the dilemma of what to do if a show generates so much buzz that you want to start watching it from the first episode. For me, the baseball season basically ended with that Strike 3 looking on Carlos Beltran.. so now its time to catch up with what I have missed. So far I have only really seen 2 new shows.. One fantastic one and one ok one… and both have continuing storylines! This leads us to the TV quarterly report for the 4th quarter of 2006.. Aka the NWOW Fall Preview..

SUNDAY - For now, The Family Guy has been delegated to repeats on TBS and Cartoon Network.. I also try to see American Dad which has gotten a lot funnier but its hard to remember to watch it with NBC Sunday Night Football. Plus the Big East now has a Sunday Night! College Football game each week.. this week featuring the unbeaten Rutgers Scarlet Knights. A few weeks back I speculated if TV air hog Joe Buck would do an NFL game and World Series game on the same day… Its not possible since The Lions are off Sunday, but… will Chris Carlin do the Giants pre and post game show on WFAN and then scoot down to Piscataway in time to call the Rutgers game on WOR.. (Did you notice how many ads were in The Star Ledger hyping WOR's Arthur Frommer's appearance at the Travel Show in Westfield this weekend?)

DH has been very funny this season with more than a few laugh out loud knee slappers...Bree has 2 wacky kids with the goofy son pulling out a few funny lines.. especially when he makes fun of his ho of a sister who just spent the semester sleeping with her teacher. By the way, is it possible that maybe Mike is a bad guy and Orson is a good guy? Maybe Mike's phone number is on the dead girl because she left behind a clue as she was dying and Orson tried to kill him because he knows Mike was behind the dastardly crime. This question of who is good vs. who is bad leads us to Monday..

MONDAY - I’m kind of getting bored with Deal or No Deal and have started to wander back to How I Met Your Mother. I also try to catch CSI Miami at 10pm depending on who is on Monday Night Football. Of course once 24 comes back.. All bets are off. But the new must see show is on Mondays…. The incredibly original and fascinating “Heroes”… a show that takes the Lost idea… tossing a bunch of strangers into an odd situation and watching how they interact with each other. Heroes is a about several people who don’t know each other at first, but all possess - super powers, and are faced with the daunting task of saving the world from what looks to be a terrorist attack. All the superhero characters are quite fascinating, and tossed in the mix is a painter who has visions that create futuristic paintings that combined with time travel create a very entertaining show and a very confusing blog paragraph.

But this show also raises a lot of questions about which characters are good or. bad. Is the cheerleader’s dad a bad guy trying to fight good.. Or maybe he is a good guy who knows the truth…..that the super powers might actually be in the hands of some bad guys? It did have an amusing scene when a woman who does a sexy live cam web cast answers her door terrified that it might be her “criminal“ missing ex-husband… and finds a fan of hers who came to visit her from Japan!

TUESDAY - Jericho looks interesting.. But I only watched one episode.. Maybe I’ll catch it on There is also the Law and Order twin bill.. Although I don’t think I have caught Criminal Intent yet this season. When SVU is a rerun I’ll catch Boston Legal… but that depends on if I catch CSI Miami on Monday.. I can’t handle back to back nights of David Caruso and William Shatner.. The two worst actors in all mankind!

WEDNESDAY - Lost is the first of 2 shows on the Wednesday schedule. I wrote about Lost last season and included my Lost theory last May 25 (see the archives) But, as they say in the NFL.. “Upon further review”. I am starting to believe that the writers are just making it up as they go along. So I have decided to just go along for the ride and not strain my brain to try to jump ahead of the writers. But one theme does stand out about “The Others”…. Is it possible that they really are the good guys?. Like the Cheerleaders dad on Heroes? Like Orson on DH? Like Senator Bob Menendez?

The other watchable show is the 2nd new show - The Nine.. But it might be just a matter of weeks before I go back to watching CSI NY which I have been catching on The Nine like Lost and Heroes takes characters who are total strangers and tosses them into an odd situation - this time they all survived a 52 hour hostage ordeal when they were held as captives during a bank robbery. Parts of the ordeal are shown each week in flashbacks.. But there are some interesting characters… including the teenage daughter of the bank manager who claims to have amnesia of the whole ordeal yet oddly visits the robber in prison. The other guy is Foote who seems to have a new lease on life….. yet I have a feeling that it will turn out he was the inside man on the bank job…(He left a gun in the bathroom after a failed suicide attempt. Or was it for Michael Corleone?). I think he has turned happy go lucky because he got away with a crime. But I could be wrong.. However I have heard that the writers scripted out the season in advance, so I may not be on a Lost wild goose chase..

THURSDAY - Haven’t seen anything yet.. Post baseball: Survivor and probably Grey’s Anatomy…. I just caught the 1st two episodes Thursday night…. I also like My Name is Earl,… but NBC has announced that it will soon turn over its 8pm hour to reality shows and game shows. GSN tried that out, and eventually phased out the reality.. But the idea of a game show hour sounds very intriguing to me.

FRIDAY - 1 vs. 100 - the new Bob Saget game show. Rumor has it that my old radio coworker “Young Chuck” (he looks like Mr. Scarborough) who appeared some years back on Who Wants to be a Millionaire with Regis will also be on this show. I like it.. It involves some brains unlike Deal or No Deal which is a game of chance played by people who don’t understand numbers and statistics. The 1 vs. 100 has potential.. Its 1 contestant trying to beat out 100 panelists playing for a progressive jackpot…… but if the contestant gets a wrong answer.. the money goes to the surviving panelists. This show could have some potential, if they make the questions tougher.

SATURDAY - Nothing except The Super Password Hour on GSN at 6pm. Graphite - Pencil… Aristophanes - Ridiculous!

CABLE - The only new show I have really noticed is MTV’s Parental Control an oddball show where parents who hate the person their son or daughter is dating and try to break them up by sending their beloved kid off on a date with one person they each choose. The audition process is amusing - and the dates are watched “live” by the parents at “home”.. In reality the dates are recorded, and the parents watch a taped version with the offensive boyfriend/girlfriend sitting with them on the couch making nasty comments at each other. It amazes me how disrespectful these young men and women are towards their boyfriend/girlfriend’s parents!

Aside from Larry King on CNN, the only other stuff I watch are the old game shows on GSN, Family Guy reruns, and movies on HBO. I also caught my first episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm which I found to be quite entertaining.

One final TV thought: Did the premiere of Heroes cause the frustrating Lost to jump the shark? A lot of Lost fans feel jerked around because every answer leads to two more questions, while Heroes seems to have a sense that we know that inevitably all the people with "special powers" will ultimately unite. Lost will only be on a few more wks, go on hiatus for a few months and then return in Feb for four months without a rerun. ER was supposed to do the same, but NBC cancelled the hiatus after its ratings shot up this season.. maybe a spillover from hospital fans flipping over from the 9pm Grey‘s Anatomy on ABC? . Now, Lost is losing viewers to "Criminal Minds" with Mandy Patinkin, and watercooler buzz to Heroes.. Will ABC decide not to send it away for a few months? And doesn’t it face a tough task in early '07 against American Idol? And with a lot of bloggers kvetching about DH, and Grey's Anatomy getting a run for its money from CSI - could ABC end up back where it was in 2004?

Time for the picks.. I was all set to jump on the Washington bandwagon this week… this week the George Washington Bridge turned 75… my dad, also a George would have been 75 today, AND he married a woman from… Washington! As it turns out. The Skins are off this week… Oh well.. here are the picks for the teams that are playing…. Spreads are from Friday’s Star Ledger. Last week we went 6-7.. Year to date we are an embarrassing 44-50-6.

Tampa Bay 9 point doggies over NY GIANTS – Calm down… the Giants will win,… but NOT cover.

NY Jets 2 doggies over CLEVELAND – J-E-T-S… They have a better record than the Steelers!

San Fran 15 doggies over CHICAGO – Road doggies on a roll or are these spreads too big? And since Joe Buck is at the World Series.. Pat Sumerall is doing this game! Is it possible the rainouts could extend the World Series for a few extra weeks?

BENGALS 4 faves over Atlanta – Cincy has a shot as top dog in the division with the Ravens facing a tough road game.

GREEN BAY 4 faves over Arizona – Ron Pitts drew the short straw to get this game.. At least Gus Johnson doesn’t have to sit through this one..

TITANS 3 faves over Houston – This is the one Gus Johnson has to sit through…. And 82 Knick games too… (He still does the Knick games right?)

DENVER 2 ½ faves over Indiana – When was the last time the Colts were doggies? And is this an AFC Title Game Preview?

NEW ORLEANS 2 faves over Atlanta – I’ve learned my lesson to never go against the Saints at home!

Jacksonville 7 doggies over PHILADELPHIA – I like the Eagles to win but not cover.

St. Louis 9 ½ doggies over SAN DIEGO – Another odd spread… See Pumpstradamus’s comments below.

Pittsburgh 9 faves over OAKLAND – If the Steelers lose this one they are 2-5, and those Penguins are starting to look like they have a good young team.

Seattle 6 doggies over KANSAS CITY – I’m not as down on the injury plagued Seahawks as the other prognosticators… They just might win this game.

Dallas 5 doggies over CAROLINA – This may be the 1st time ever that I pick Dallas and not the Giants in the same week. Parcells will not let himself be embarrassed on national TV 2 wks in a row. And this just in from the set of Grey’s Anatomy: Isiah Washington is a big Cowboy fan and yelled “Romo” during his fight with the guy who plays George. Hey theres that George – Washington connection again.

MINNESOTA 2 doggies over New England – Home Doggies on Monday Night.

Pumpstradamus Pick of the Week – This week Pumpstradamus tries to improve on 4-2-1.. by going to Missouri the home of the big Senate race where Michael J Fox did that much talked about political spot for Claire McCaskill. St. Louis also might be home to the World Series Champs. Therefore for the Rams-Chargers game Pump predicts: “St. Louis because I was listening to Louie Armstrong this week.”

Friday, October 20, 2006

Sleazy Karr Salesman

Before we get to today's regularly scheduled column and NFL picks... I just wanted to briefly address the gut wrenching Mets loss in the NLCS to St. Louis. My buddy Paul in L.I. text messaged me after the game last night and said this was the worst Met loss ever... Maybe it's because it was fresh in his mind but frankly the Kenny Rogers bases loaded walk in '99 and the loss to the Yankees in 2000 were much more bitter than this one.

Frankly, it reached a point where the Mets were playing with house money. Considering 2 of their 4 scheduled playoff starters were injured, and we got only one inning out of Steve Trachsel, I am actually quite impressed that the series went this far. Amazingly had they won Game 7 its likely the unheralded Oliver Perez would have won the MVP.. a player the Mets only traded for because reliever Duaner Sanchez was injured in a car crash. Nonetheless, no matter how you twist and turn there really is nothing Willie could have done differently... Aaron Heilman was the man I wanted out there in a tie game in the 9th inning of Game 7.

Which leads me to my turning point of the Series.. and you might find this strange.. but I think it was the 2 run double So Taguchi hit off Billy Wagner in the 9th inning of Game 6 which turned a 4-0 lead into 4-2. Wagner's inability to get out of that inning without giving up the runs caused Willie and the Met fans to question his intestinal fortitude. I'm not overly concerned about the Game 2 meltdown.. Wagner was due to have a bad game, and frankly if he kept the game tied and that game went extra innings, the Met bullpen would not have been as rested as it needed to be for the subsequent games. But the book says, the stopper pitches the 9th in a tied home game since there is no way he can get the save. Yet, here were all the Met fans praying that Heilman's batting spot would not come up in the 8th so he and not Wagner would be out there in the 9th. That speaks volumes about how much the team relies on its stopper. And who knows.. maybe Wagner might not have given up that 2 run dinger to light hitting Yadier Molina.

By the way, it should have been 5-1.. but Endy Chavez's gravity defying catch behind the AIG sign stole 2 runs from the Cards. Too bad it wasn't ING with the commercial with the person sitting on the park bench that has ING on it. I could just see the endorsements now.. hey what's that? Oh ING... its an investment firm.. yadda yadda yadda... No.. I mean behind that... Oh that? Thats Endy Chavez reaching over the fence stealing a 2 run homer from Scott Rolen!

Here is something in the news this week that just grinds my gears!

John Mark Karr - is he a pedophile or a master media manipulator?

Here is a guy nobody ever heard of teaching little kiddies in Thailand. Next thing you know, he is arrested as the long awaited suspect in the murder of poor little Jon-Benet Ramsey... after his apparent "confession" to a college professor in a series of emails. The guy is flown here first class.. but the case falls apart since his DNA was not found on the poor little girl and he is cut loose. Subsequent kiddie porn charges are also dropped after the computer that holds the evidence - was lost. Are we all caught up now?

So Monday night I was watching Larry King Live and 2 things stood out about that hour long interview. First, Karr doesn’t deny that he is thinking of having a sex change. Folks, if you don't deny it.. that means you’re having one.. I mean c'mon... any guy who is asked if he is thinking of being deshmeckelized... the technical term for the procedure,.... and doesn’t strongly deny it immediately.. is thinking about it!

Mr. Karr also showed great enthusiasm to selling his story as a book and/or movie.

Here is my question....

Did Mr. Karr make the whole Jon Benet thing up so he could write a book to make a million dollars? Is Karr selling himself and his story to pay for his expensive sex change operation?

The media just loves to jump on certain bandwagons. Jon Benet Ramsey is one of them. Does this mean that others wanting expensive sex change operations will falsely confess to a crime and then write a book about their brush with fame? How about a seriously ill person who can't afford a kidney, heart and/or liver transplant? Will they confess to killing OJ Simpson's wife so they can raise the money for their surgery?

And one other aspect that is also disturbing.. there is a new talk show hosted by this guy named Keith Ablow. He also interviewed Mr. Karr and then chatted with him "off camera" and would you believe.. Mr. Karr exhibits a totally different personality "off camera"? The only exception was he was being recorded on a hidden cam and we got to hear Mr. Karr discuss such nuggets about acceptable scenarios involving physical contact with children. Was this part of Mr. Karr's manipulation of the media? And is Abelow being ethical about the "hidden camera" even though he says it helped expose a person he says is a pedophile?

And why doesn’t Mr. Karr just go away? And an even scarier thought... if he is a pedophile, will he be able to disappear into the woodwork under his new female identity? Or will this creep re-emerge one day as a woman who calls himself.... Jon Benet Ramsey?

Now on to the picks... Last week we went 8-5... 2 straight winning weeks folks.. and the season to date record is 38-43-6. The ever popular Pumpstradamus lost his game and his record is 3-2-1.. (He was telling people it was 3-1-2 until we told him the tie goes last!)

JETS 3 ½ faves over Detroit – Unlike the Yankees, this NY team can beat a team from Detroit.. See Pumpstradamus’s pick below.

San Diego 5 faves over KC – This game could seriously damage the Chiefs wild card hopes

Jacksonville 10 faves over HOUSTON – The Texans have their first half win.. see ya in Nov or Dec for win #2.

New England 5 faves over BUFFALO – Wow.. another 1pm road favorite. The fans can leave early to get home for the 4 o’clock games

Pittsburgh 2 ½ faves over ATLANTA – Did both of these teams make a statement last wk? If so, 2 and a half may be a very generous spread.

CINCINATI 3 ½ faves over Carolina – Tough game for the Bengals, but I cant see them as a .500 team if they lose this game.

PHILADELPHIA 5 over Tampa Bay – Bucs fans are looking at those playoff years as a thing of the past.

Green Bay 5 doggies over MIAMI – Ladies and Gentlemen.. a 1 o’clock doggie. The only one for this wk! I don’t respect the Dolphins enough to cover and I have been so busy watching the Mets this week, I didn’t see if GB traded Favre….

Denver 4 ½ faves over CLEVELAND – Did you take my advice and take the Raiders to cover last wk? The Broncs don’t score a lot, but this spread looks very do-able.

INDIANAPOLIS 10 faves over Washington – A very deceptive 5-0… should become 6-0 thanks to the Skins who are in must-win situation in a very tough division.

SEATTLE 6 ½ faves over Minnesota – Lotsa bad blood between these 2 teams… they like each other like Scott Rolen and Tony LaRussa.. That phony hug after Game 7 was as good as an acting job as Tom Kean Jrs. concession call to Senator Menendez will be on Election Night.

Arizona 3 faves over OAKLAND – Shouldn’t this be the first win for Oakland? CBS is putting Tony Siragusa in the booth as the color man for this game by the way. Should be a fun game for the die hards who have the NFL package.

Giants 3 ½ doggies over DALLAS – Only the second doggie pick of the wknd. Disclaimer: This pick comes from a Giants fan Cowboys hater. Take this pick with a grain of salt.

PUMPSTERDAMUS PICK OF THE WEEK; 3-2-1 so far.. This wk the Great Pumpsterdamus picks NY over Detroit in both the NFL and The World Series. Note from Nate: Maybe Pumpie should NOT send me his picks on Thursday afternoons.

OK Mets fans.. lets all sing together from The Life of Brian….. “Always look at the bright side of life.. doo doo … doo doo doo doo doo doo…

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Name Clearing Part II - A Movie Club Column

This blog started on Nov 10, 2005 with a Movie Club column where I announced that I would be watching the 6 Star Wars movies in chronological order... We're planning something special to celebrate the blog's 1 yr anniversary this Nov. 10th and on that day Cinemax will run all 6 Star Wars movies in chronological order. Coincidence? I‘ll leave it to my fellow conspiracy theorists to decide.

In last week's column we talked about the importance of a good name...This week, in honor of Columbus Day, we continue that theme with a Movie Club column about the Corleone Family in the Godfather and how one man built up the family's name, while another destroyed it. The Columbus Day tie-in is not because the movie is about an Italian family per se.. but because Columbus was the ultimate immigrant, and a large part of G2 is the story of how an immigrant came to America with nothing, and makes something out of his life... just like many of our ancestors.

The movie is not exactly a sequel to the Original Godfather - It is actually a half new story and half back story that was actually part of the original Godfather book -The producers smartly left the flashbacks out of the first movie because it would have been waaaaaay too long. Therefore part of the movie is the Robert DeNiro show as flashbacks tell the story of how Vito Corleone built his family and the rest is the Al Pacino Show as we see Michael Corleone destroy his family.. You will leave the movie saying the opposite of the old Nike campaign - I don’t like Mike!

Speaking of Mikes that I am not too happy with… I can’t believe the sheer audacity of Mike Francesa and Chris Russo of WFAN in their ambush interview with Corey Lidle on Monday afternoon. (Incidentally, Lidle and Thurman Munson are 2 Yankees to die in plane crashes on Jewish Holidays.. Lidle on Sukkot.. and Munson died on Tisha B’Av.) Lidle had been quoted in a tabloid paper saying the Yankee players were “unprepared” for the Detroit series… Mike and the Mad Dog ranted and raved that Lidle’s comments were dissing the beloved sacred Mother Teresa-esque manager Joe Torre.. Lidle called in to defend himself, and repeatedly told Mike and the Mad Dog that he was referring to the players not being prepared and that the comments were no reflection on Torre. However, the two co-hosts in full Bill O’Reilly/Nancy Grace attack mode claimed he was criticizing Torre. (Torre by the way was the first person to confirm to CNN Wed. afternoon the plane belonged to Cory Lidle - Mayor Bloomberg wouldn’t give out names pending notification of family members-And Lidle’s wife was in a plane from NY to CA the whole afternoon apparently unaware of what was going on.) The ultimate insult came when Lidle remarked how he was just enjoying the day in NY City when a friend text messaged him about the content of the radio show... so he called in. To which Mad Dog retorted… “How can you be enjoying the day so soon after the Yankees lost?”…. Now who the heck are these two guys to question Lidle for enjoying himself during his last 48 hours on Earth?

In the flashback portion of the movie, Vito comes off as being rather likeable.. As a young kid he watches his family slaughtered by a ruthless gangster in Corleone, Italy; He is then smuggled away to avoid getting killed, and ends up on a ship bound for New York. Once he arrives in Ellis Island, an overworked staffer just stamps his name as Corleone when it reality that was not his name but the town from which he emigrated. This kind of hits home for me because when my father and his parents came over here in 1948, they decided to “Americanize” their name to Kean.. but the worker at Ellis Island just wrote Kean for my dad, and "Keane" for my grandparents. From then on, they always had different spellings.

Vito advanced through the ranks purely by chance. He was in his apt minding his own business one day when his neighbor throws him a bag and asks him to hide it... and would you believe it was loaded with guns? Later the neighbor, played by a very young Bruno Kirby decides to repay him with an expensive rug... which he then steals from a rich neighbor. Ultimately, Vito ends up stealing clothes and re-selling them, and when the local gangster - Don Fannucci adds Vito to the list of people he terrifies with demands for "protection money", Vito decides to just kill him - and from then on, we see Vito as the man about town who goes around helping ladies who have issues with mean landlords. Sounds very sweet and sugary… almost like The Waltons.

The ultimate last flashback - is Pearl Harbor Day - Vito's birthday... the kids are grown up and are in their 20s and they all gather around the kitchen table preparing to surprise him with a cake. James Caan is there (At that time he was a big star post “Brian’s Song” and was credited as a "special appearance") plus there is a cameo by Abe Vigoda. You can see how well they all get along - except for Michael. He is the outsider not involved with the camraderie with his siblings, and when its time to surprise his dad with the cake, he just sits alone in the kitchen... moments after informing his family that he joined the Marines, as did many other people who signed up when the Japanese attacked us. His family is upset with him, but he doesn't care... but oddly enough later in life he would bellow to his siblings how they "disappoint" him. yet you wonder with his lousy husband and parenting skills whether they really cared too much for him, or just liked him because he is their brother.

The plot in the non-flashback part of the movie consists of Michael Corleone's battle with Florida Jewish gangster Hyman Roth. The 2 team up while simultaneously attempting to double cross each other. Roth, played by legendary acting coach Lee Strasberg lives in a small house in Florida and while watching a college football game tells Michael what a big sports fan he is, while at the same time admitting how much he admires Arnold Rothstein for fixing the 1919 World Series.

There are other interesting trends to note in this film… the movie starts at the Christening of Michael’s son and the law enforcement milling around the parking lot are enjoying hors deuvres and drinks… a contrast to the first movie where the cops were treated rather unfriendly during Vito’s daughter Connie’s wedding. That scene also introduces us to the fascinating Nevada Senator Geary whose mispronunciation of the name “Vito Corleone” makes one think the good Senator is an outsider to the hijinks of the Corleone family. Indeed it turns out that he is very aware of the names and pronunciations when he tells Michael in no uncertain terms that his kind of people are not welcome in his state. How interesting to see the tables turn when Senator Geary “blacks out” and wakes up to find his favorite hooker dead and bloodied… in a Corleone hotel… only to be reassured by Tom Hagen that everything is gonna be ok because it’s a Corleone hotel!

There is another smooth segue scene when Michael travels to Cuba to see Roth. This is the pre-Castro Cuba before the Revolution and Roth speaks lovingly of the Cuban government which does not regulate him as much as his nearby home base of Florida. During the New Year’s Eve visit, Michael notices the Cuban rebels and admires their ability to rise up against the establishment.. (which was a well placed dig at Roth and his old school way of doing things.) We then go to a flashback scene of Young Vito Corleone rebelling against gangster Don Fannucci by refusing to pay him the requested “protection money”.

There is also the character Pentangeli..portrayed in an Oscar winning performance by Michael V. Gazzo, another old school gangster who survives a choking by the Rosato brothers. In the beginning of the movie at the Christening he drunkenly starts leading the band in “Italian Music” only to see them perform “Pop Goes The Weasel”.. Later on in the movie he prepares to testify as a Gravano-esque snitch before Senator Leary’s committee investigating organized crime, only to back down when his brother flies in from Italy and sits in the audience to hear his testimony..

It was cool to see how young some of the actors are in this movie.. Bruno Kirby looks like a kid.. Danny Aiello who plays a Rosato brother looks exactly the same. And the character of Johnny Ola (who ultimately led to the demise of Fredo Corleone) is unrecognizable as he looks today as Uncle Junior on “The Sopranos”

The theme that ultimately sticks out in my mind is how Michael Corleone can’t hold his family together while conducting his business affairs while his dad was able to maintain the balance. Michael achieves shmuck status for killing his brother… and also for denying his kids time with their mom who leaves him after she gets tired of his shenanigans.. Michael doesn’t even go home for Christmas because he is too busy hanging out with Roth in Cuba. Instead he dispatches Tom Hagen to get his son a gift. The first movie ends with Michael closing a door to keep his wife out of business… in the 2nd movie she visits her children, and as she waits for her little son to give her a good bye kiss at the doorway Michael silently walks over and closes the door leaving her out in the cold. Now we see why his family did not like him.

Even though Michael disintegrates in this film… The Godfather Part II is a total masterpeace… with 2 legends DeNiro and Pacino.. who of course never share a scene… I may have to rent Heat to see that colossal acting duo work together.,…The screenplay is flawless as we go from flashback to “present time“. . and the characters are well fleshed out and very fascinating.. specifically Senator Leary, Hyman Roth and Pentageli. 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.. Godfather Part II is a 4 bladder movie!

Ok now on to the picks… Last week we were 7-4-3; our record now is 30-38-6. Pumpstradamus is 3-1-1. Remember team in caps is at home… And this week for the 1pm games were taking all Road games except for 1!

Giants 3 point doggies over ATLANTA – Now that the NY Baseball team has shown Atlanta who is boss.. the Giants have a chance to throw around some muscle.

Miami 2 doggies over NY JETS – The Jets do well against the Dolphins.. but they are coming off such a horrendous loss.. do they deserve to be favorites?

Bengals 6 faves over TAMPA BAY – I get nervous after 5 or 6 weeks with these winless teams…but the Bengals are for superior.. For more logic see Pumpstradamus below.

Titans 10 doggies over WASHINGTON – See above and I’m not too impressed with the Skins..

Texans 13 doggies over DALLAS – Huh? Has Nate lost his marbles.. I don’t think the evil Cowboys will cover against Houston… (also remember I love the Giants and hate the Cowboys.. if youre betting shekels, keep that in mind!)

Seattle 3 faves over ST. LOUIS – Poor St. Louis fans.. looking ahead to Game 4 against the Mets and losing to Seattle on the same day. I don’t think the Mets are gonna sweep ‘em though… I like the Mets in 5.. but if they beat Carpenter Fri. night.. hmmmm.

Eagles 3 faves over NEW ORLEANS – How sacrilegious.. the Saints are at home and are America’s team.. but the Eagles look pretty good so far this year..

Panthers 3 doggies at BALTIMORE – Hey how many road teams are going to cover the 1pm games? I’m taking 8.. in honor of Shmini Atzeret… (which is the 8th day of Sukkot)

DETROIT 1 doggies over Buffalo – Hey a Detroit – NY matchup.. sounds like The World Series. The only difference is Detroit is going to win this one.. the only 1pm home team I am picking..

San Diego 10 OVER SAN FRANSISCO – The 49ers have been a halfway decent home team.. but despite not being a fan of double digit spreads.. this one is reasonable.

STEELERS 6 ½ faves over The Chiefs – I’m thisclose to jumping off the Steeler bandwagon – If KC plays like they did last week.. it could be a long season for Steeler fans. They always have the Penguins who looked good on Thurs night.. (By the way The Star Ledger again doesn’t have a Ranger beat writer!)

Oakland 15 doggies over DENVER – The Broncos will win.. but so far they have only averaged 12 points a game.. so that spread might be a bit too large.

ARIZONA 10 ½ doggies over Chicago – Probably a dopey pick but you gotta go with Home Dogs on Monday Night.. By the way.. isn’t MNF getting higher ratings on ESPN than the regular Bachelor – What About Brian garbage on ABC?

PUMPSTRADAMUS PICK OF THE WEEK: This week in honor of Hyman Roth… we pick a game from his home state of Florida.. and since George Steinbrenner is home in Tampa watching the Mets in the playoffs while his Yankee season is done… we’re picking the Tampa Bay – Cincinatti game. The pick is Cincy because they are in Ohio, the home state of the Hamilton Ohio prosecutor who got caught on a courthouse closed circuit camera walking around butt naked.

Friday, October 06, 2006

A Week of Name Clearing Accurate NFL Picks

Well folks… it looks like the old football picking ain’t going as well as expected. So far after the 1st four wks, the only reliable pick has been the one provided by renowned psychic Pumpstradamus. He is 3-1. Our picks? An incredibly embarrassing 23-34-3….. a lowly 11 games under .500 this after last weeks 4-9-1 debacle. It appears that I have brought shame to my good name.

Speaking of bringing shame to a name…

Is there any human being more disgraceful than that punk Tom Kean, Jr. who is running for Senate against Robert Menendez. Kean has no record to speak of..yet he is threatening to pull out of a League of Women's Voters debate if Menendez doesn't debate him on NBC's Meet the Press. Little Tommy's only legacy is being the son of former NJ Governor Tom Kean.. arguably the worst NJ governor in my lifetime. Jim McGreavy gave him a run for the money but thankfully quit and rode out of Dodge in his Brokeback Mountain horsey before he could inflict too much damage. Governor Kean did a good job with the 9/11 Commission and is actually a nice man. His son is not.

Listen to what The Star Ledger says sleazy Little Tommy did. There was this political bigshot in NJ named Robert Janiskewski who now spends his time in prison for corruption charges. Tommy Jr. has decided his campaign will consist of attacks on Menendez’s character and through an intermediary has established a pen pal relationship with Robert J. and has been exchanging mail where Robert J. has been providing “insider sleaze” about Menendez that Little Tommy is then using for his campaign propaganda. According to Ledger Columnist Tom Moran, Little Tommy Kean has hired a political consultant who was shown the door by the New Hampshire Attorney General after his tactics were deemed too sleazy for that fine fine state. According to Moran, this goofball went around spreading rumors that the wife of a political candidate had joined a cult that – worships orgasms.

Here is an orgasmic concept… Election Night at Kean Headquarters when Little Tommy loses to Senator Menendez and has to disappear into the woodwork with his tail between his legs. Former Governor Tom Kean was a man of class – it’s too bad his son brings such shame to the name.

Now time for the picks…

Remember we take ‘em from the Friday Star Ledger.. Home teams are in CAPS… And this week since fantasy baseball is over… I dedicated more time to researching these freakin’ games!

JAGUARS 6 ½ point faves over the Jets – The Jets have shown an ability to cover big spreads though.. but a TD isn’t so big.

COLTS 18 ½ faves over Tennesee – that is a huge spread.. but the Colts are that good and the Titans fans always have the Grand Ole Opry.

VIKINGS 6 ½ faves over Detroit – Two very disappointed baseball towns.. but the Tigers look like they have some life!

Tampa 6 ½ doggies over NEW ORLEANS – Time for the Bucs to show some life.. they may lose.. but they should cover.

Rams 3 faves over GREEN BAY – Did someone say the Rams were gonna stink this year?

GIANTS 5 faves over Washington – Let’s see what Jeremy Shockey says during the Post Game Show this week.

PHILADELPHIA 2 faves over Dallas – Only 2 point favorites? Huh? Y’think the sweet Philly fans are gonna pick on TO?

NEW ENGLAND 10 faves over Miami – I thought Miami was better this year? It is a big spread.. have you noticed I’m avoiding the doggies this wk?

BEARS 10 faves over Buffalo – First Rex Grossman played on Yom Kippur; now on Sukkot – Is he Jewish by the way?

CAROLINA 8 faves over Cleveland – Another big spread that Nate is not questioning…

Chiefs 3 ½ faves over ARIZONA – Looks like the Chiefs have bounced back from Trent Green’s injury.

Raiders 3 ½ doggies over SAN FRANSISCO – I gotta take the doggie here.. what a dreadful game? This is a Gus Johnson game.. poor Gus.. he’s got this game and The Knicks to look forward to!

Pittsburgh 3 doggies over SAN DIEGO – The Padres aren’t the only disappointment in San Diego this weekend.

DENVER 4 point faves over Baltimore – The Ravens keep burning me.. because I pick against them.. Maybe next wk?

PUMPSTRADAMUS PICK OF THE WEEK – Current Record 3-1; Last week was a victory in the Bears game. Since FL Congressman Foley has been in the news all week, let’s pick the Dolphins game. This week we are picking The Patriots over Miami because team owner Robert Kraft’s wife is an alumnus of Brandeis just like The Great Pumpstradamus!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Baseball '06 4Q: Fair and Balanced Coverage From The Eyes of a Met Fan

Well folks, the 2006 regular season has come to an end.. Time to stop checking those fantasy league standings and get ready for the playoffs. Today we will look back at the ‘06 season, make some playoff and award predictions, and look back at some of the lame-o predictions made here back in March. And yes, these predictions are coming after the start of the playoffs.. Did you expect me to post a witty column Monday Night after fasting all day on Yom Kippur? And what a day it was! My fellow congregants kept losing the place in their prayer books.. I was finding more pages than Congressman Foley.

First, baseball needs to make some changes. Why not push the start of the playoffs to Wednesday or Thursday? They wait 2 weeks for the Super Bowl, surely they can wait a couple of days to start the playoffs. The season makes no allowances for late season rainouts, and the possibility of the Cardinals playing a make-up game on Monday against the Giants and then a possible tie-breaker game Tuesday against the surging Astros would have been absurd under the current post season schedule. Same thing for the Phillies… they had to wait out a rain delay in Washington Thursday night so the game started after 11pm… didn’t end till 2 in the morning, and the team didn’t get to their Florida hotel rooms for their Friday night game until after 8 in the morning because they were caught in Friday morning rush hour traffic! If they had a couple of extra days for make up games, they could have just gone back to Washington to play the game on Monday, and not endure that wacky all night marathon.

I also have some issues with TV Coverage too. This may be a Cablevision issue and not ESPN‘s fault….. but during the 15 inning game on Wednesday night.. It was a tie game in the bottom of the ninth, bases loaded. 2 out and a 3-2 pitch…. And ESPN goes to a commercial. The same thing happened a couple of days later.. ESPN was showing a documentary about Ernie Banks.. And right in the middle.. ESPN drops out for a Malouf Car Dealer commercial!! Again, it’s probably a foul up on Cablevision’s part.. But they gotta fix that. FOX Sports is also guilty.,.. Geoff Jenkins was in the middle of an at bat during the Saturday Brewers-Cardinals game.. And poof.. There is Jeannie Zelasko breaking in to tell us that the rain delay is over in Florida so they’re switching to the Phillies-Marlins game.. Whereas we then got to see Kenny Albert and Tim McCarver announce proudly that it had stopped raining and then we got to see about 3 minutes of commercials!! Don’t you think it’s a bit disrespectful to Geoff Jenkins to cut away in the middle of his at-bat? He doubled by the way.

I made preseason picks right here in March.. (Look to the left at the March archives) and some of the trends I predicted were actually accurate. I mentioned that former Mets Mike Cameron and Mike Piazza would combine for more than 40 homers, and I also questioned how it would be possible for the Braves to finish higher than 3rd.. (although I respectfully picked them for 1st place.) I also said the Astros would finish 2nd to St. Louis due to Tony LaRussa’s managerial brilliance, but it was really the bat of Albert Pujols that catapulted the Cardinals to the top spot. I also accurately predicted the end of the Red Sox playoff streak and didn’t buy into the hype that trading Bronson Arroyo for Willie Mo Pena was a smart deal. I pointed out to a fellow congregant who is a Red Sox fan on Yom Kippur afternoon during the reading of the story of Jonah and the Whale that that legendary story is similar to the Yankees and Red Sox of '06 - The Yankees were the whale.. they chewed up The Red Sox (Jonah) and then spit him out.

The Column addressed the 14 Most Relevant Teams of ‘06 and included such lovable losers like The Cubbies, The Braves, The Giants, and The Indians who I had winning the Pennant and losing to St. Louis in The World Series! I also only correctly picked 3 playoff teams… St. Louis, The Mets and The Yankees. As you can see my incompetence is not limited to just the weekly NFL picks! Then, to add insult to injury, I did a mid season column and again made some mulligan picks and used this brilliant logic why the Braves would be in the post season.. But not the Yankees! Here is the exact quote:

“So I’m picking the White Sox to move into first, paced by Cy Young contender Jose Contreras. Im sure the Yankees wish they had him now since they will finish THIRD to the Red Sox and the Blue Jays. What? The Yankees are just as far from the Wild Card as the Braves! Why the Braves and not the Yankees?? That’s because the teams in the AL are much better than the NL wild card wannabes. And the Yankees really need to address the loss of Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield”

Now time for the Post Season Awards and then the Post Season Series Picks….

NL MVP - Albert Pujols.. Ryan Howard had a great season.. but who is in the playoffs? If Pujols wasn't on the Cards.. the Astros would be getting ready for the post season.... therefore since the award is based on value you gotta give it to Pujols for single handedly muscling his team into the post season..  

NL CY YOUNG - Chris Carpenter - another Cardinal- just ekeing it out over Brandon Webb.  Zambrano also deserves consideration, but Carpenter's games were more pressurized since he was pitching for a team playing for its post season life, and Carpey knew he had to go deeper into games because his bullpen is such a disaster.  

NL ROOKIE - Hanley Ramirez - 17 homers, 51 steals.. The Marlins version of Jose Reyes.. he is definitely the real thing..  

AL MVP - Justin Morneau - monster numbers for just his 2nd year.. Do you think the Twins would be in the playoffs if it weren't for Morneau?  

AL CY YOUNG - Johan Santana - slam dunk.  

AL ROOKIE - How about Jonathan Papelbon? Notice how unhittable he was before the Yankee massacre in August, and how the team went down the tubes once he was injured? You gotta give credit to a rookie who saves 35 games, has an ERA less than 1 and whose team sank after he got hurt.    

SERIES PICKS -   Padres over the Cards - Cards limped into the post season.. No Mulder, No Isringhausen, Jim Edmonds is platooning and has post concussion issues.  This is not a typical Cards team and they might have a hard time winning games not started by Carpenter.  

Mets over LA - May not be as easy.. since LA has some decent starters.. And the Mets lose at least a start from El Duque, but the Mets offense is so much better than everyone else.. and those pitchers who feasted on those other NL offensively challenged teams may be in for a rude awakening.  Perez in Game 4? How's Zambrano's rehab going? Any chance he can pitch?

Yankees over Detroit - Again.. not the cakewalk the Yankees expect.. the season is a marathon, not a sprint, so don’t get too excited over the Tigers late season swoon, and they have a very well rounded, well managed team.  This could go late into the 5th game before its decided.  

Oakland over Minnesota - You get the feeling that the Tigers and Twins wanted to face the Yankees and not the amazing A’s pitching staff? The Twins can only go so far with one great starter and the other drek in their rotation. The A's have no hitters besides Frank Thomas, Eric Chavez and Nick Swisher but their pitching is superb with Zito, Haren, Harden and Blanton.   They always say pitching goes far in baseball!

League Championship Series Predictions

Mets over Padres- Reunion time with Mike Cameron and Mike Piazza. without the standing ovations!  The Pods have those 2 hitters.. And Chris Young is their only reliable starter… although David Wells may be able to crank it up a bit. Jake Peavy doesn’t seem to have it this year… That means the Mets go to the World Series.. Which begs the question.. Will it be a rematch of the ‘73 World Series against Oakland.. Or that hideous 2000 Subway Series…

2000 revisited

Yankees over Oakland - A’s great pitchers will have their hands full with this killer Yankee line-up.  

Mets over the Yankees in the World Series - Picked with the heart AND the brain!