Friday, December 29, 2006

The Return of Pumpstradamus and The Bird - A Multimedia Extravaganza

Well folks, today December 29th is the 5th anniversary of the day I met Trophy Wife! Details about that fateful day are in the archives “Jemimah and the Sugar Plums” see January 24, 2006… Today is also the one year anniversary of the day I got hit in the head by a dead bird while driving through Florida. Therefore… we present that video clip, and more clips of other road trips throughout the year where my lovely wife always seems to remind me of my unfortunate Audubon encounter…

Also as part of our annual tradition, the Great Pumpstradamus visits us today for a chat about his predictions for the upcoming year. Today you will learn about Pump’s 2007 predictions…. After the panty less hijinks of Britney Spears and Lloyd Lindsay Lohan I asked the Great One who would be the next celebrity in 2007 to get caught without panties on. Sayeth the Pump: "Richard Simmons!" To hear the rest of the 2007 prognostications.. Click play!

Now time for the final week of regular season NFL picks… Last week we went 10-5-1... (The same as Pumpstradamus’s season to date record!) and we have improved to 13 games under .500 at 110-123-7.. Not bad considering we were a horrific -25 in the beginning of December… Here we go…

Giants 3 point faves over WASHINGTON - Not sure exactly why they are road favorites, but they do have a winning record away from Giants Stadium. A win here pretty much clinches a playoff spot..;. They could get in with a loss too if the other NFC 7-8 teams lose their road games.

Raiders 13 doggies over THE JETS - Remember, the Raiders always cover the huge spreads..

BENGALS 6 faves over Pittsburgh - Can you believe the Bengals might miss the playoffs because of that missed point after attempt last week? (They also might have lost that game in OT)

DALLAS 12 faves over Detroit - It would be nice to see the Boys lose, but I cant stand the Eagles either.

HOUSTON 4 faves over Cleveland - Did you see how bad that Houston field looked during the Rutgers bowl game? And will the Texans march out to the field holding hands like Rockettes like the Kansas State team?

Jacksonville 3 doggies over KANSAS CITY - The Chiefs historically play well at home in December, but they really arent too good this year.

Rams 2 faves over MINNESOTA - If the Giants lose, the Rams pretty much earn the spot with a win.. If the Giants win, the game means nothing and St. Louis will just play half assed like all the other wild card NFC pretenders have done for the past 4 months.

NEW ORLEANS 3 doggies over Carolina - Don’t forget if you send checks out for Katrina victims this weekend, it still counts as a 2006 tax deduction.

Seattle 3 ½ doggies to TAMPA BAY - At least Tampa Bay signed Chris Simms to a contract so fans there have something to look forward to.. If Seattle loses they would win the division with an 8-8 record.

New England 3 doggies at TENNESEE - Nice bounce back by the Titans.. But the Patriots are better.

Atlanta 8 doggies over PHILADELPHIA - Eagles also bounced back but I think the spread is a bit large.

BALTIMORE 9 ½ faves over Buffalo - I would have taken Buffalo to cover, but the Ravens are still playing for home field in the 2nd round.

COLTS 9 faves over Miami - The NFL has moved all the AFC relevant games to 4:15... Which means all the CBS shows are gonna start late Sunday Night! (Don’t get too involved in Without a Trace… you might miss midnight!)

San Fran 10 ½ doggies over DENVER - The Broncos need this for a playoff spot.. But the niners are a much better team than the last few years….. I think they will cover.

SAN DIEGO 13 ½ faves over Arizona - To paraphrase Pumpstradamus - The Cardinals pick the Pope.. So I pick the Chargers.

CHICAGO 3 faves over Green Bay - IN a bizarre twist, if the Giants and the other 7-8 teams lose, the Packers can earn a playoff spot if they win. If Green Bay loses, the inevitable Giants canning Coughlin press conference is postponed for another week. The game has no meaning to the Bears by the way….

PUMPSTRADAMUS PICK OF THE WEEK - Pumpie is 10-5-1.. This weeks pick is only available via the pod cast.. (Oh quit kvetching.. Its free!)


Thursday, December 21, 2006

TV 4th Quarter Report - 14 Shows That Entertained Me in 2006 - Part II

Well folks.. … Christmas is almost here.. Instead of repeating last year’s column about A Jewish Guide to Christmas Movies, just Click Here to go back to the archives where I write about my 3 traditional holiday movies. This year I don’t have an elf picture.. but we have Something Even Better!

By the way, Scrooged will air at 12 midnight Sat. night/Sunday Morning on The Family Channel., TBS will run a 24 hour marathon of “A Christmas Story” and NBC runs “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Sunday Night at 8pm.

I will have to skip IAWL this year.. because Sunday night I will be going to an Avi Maza concert… It‘s a fundraiser for The Highland Park Conservative Temple and Center (where I met Trophy Wife 5 years ago) which readers of this blog know was badly damaged in a fire last August. Here is more concert info - … And of course, they will be serving Chinese food - as they said in “A Christmas Story”…. fa ra ra ra ra. The Chinese PC Police say that everyone is allowed to laugh at that scene… except Rosie O’Donnell! Now I see she is in a war of words with Donald Trump after her comments on "The View" about his treatment of "troubled" Miss USA. That whole thing was a publicity stunt for his new season of The Apprentice. Now he wants to sue sweet Rosie for her comments about his $ problems in the early 90's, and he called her fat. Heck his dad ended up buying a ton of casino chips to get some cash into Donald's troubled casino. By the way, on that same episode that right wing nutjob Ms. Haselbeck goofball while speaking to Senator Clinton compared our staying in Iraq to taking an antibiotic - you have to keep doing it till the infection is gone. Huh?

Now time for part 2 of our “14 Shows that Entertained Me in 2006”… Today, we cover the cable shows.

1. MATCH GAME ON GSN - My favorite TV show of all time, it is a cultural phenomenon that just can’t be duplicated or explained. T’was the night before Thanksgiving, the Match Game DVD had just been released, and I visited 7 different stores in a futile attempt to buy it, only to end up in eBay hell! I bought it from this goofball on eBay and 22 long days later it finally arrived…and then I discovered that the 4th of the 4 disks… is defective! I cant blame the “power seller“ for that…. but I was quite ticked that it took so long to get here! The seller is one of those people who went to one of those “Make Money on eBay” seminars and ended up selling DVDs by hooking up with a dvd warehouse and a shipping company. The seller sets up the eBay auctions himself and then tries to make sure that the warehouse gets the stuff shipped out and delivered before the buyer gets antsy and goes for the negative feedback! Selling dvd's on eBay was a concept I mentioned in this column back on July 29th, (see the archives).

What really grinds my gears about this particular power seller is his policy that he will not leave positive feedback until he gets positive feedback from the buyer.. And.. if you give him a negative, . he sends one right back at you.. which is incredibly absurd because if you check his profile, he has sold about 70,000 items and you will see that in the last month alone he has 350 negatives and 350 neutrals… This means that people who paid him, didn’t get their product, and then complained in negative feedback, will find their percentage score take a bigger hit than the seller, even though the buyer lost his money!! It is so totally absurd that eBay allows this kind of practice! Anyway after numerous emails and some lying on the sellers part, I did get my dvd and being the positive feedback ho that I am, left him a snarky positive comment: “Good guy to buy from if you are not in a hurry to get your product; my dvd took 22 days to get here”. I’m sure some might criticize my positive score for this scoundrel.

Anyway, rumor has it that a new syndicated Match Game is coming out next fall - but I don’t know if this will really see the light of day. Deal or no Deal has spawned a big game show revival just like Regis’s Millionaire did a few years back. This week's 5 day run of "Identiy" is a good example - but don't you think it jumped the shark in the 2nd episode when Penn Jilette had that little guy on who won the jackpot? And didnt seeing the little guy standing next to the towering Penn make you realize that you now have the new Mr. Roarke and Tattoo for the next remake of Fantasy Island?

The 70’s Match Game worked because they got a well known host, who was smart enough to put his ego aside to play straight man to the B Listers who adorned the 6 seats. But it’s impossible to duplicate the Match Game magic from the mid to late 70s… because with the exception of Kathy Griffin, B list celebrities don’t want to admit that they are B-listers. Hollywood Squares had Peter Marshall playing straight man to his panel, but the Squares usually booked more famous celebrities.

Now if you get a host who is willing to play straight man, you might have a chance of having a show. Ryan Seacrest actually does this well when he plays 2nd banana to the singers and Simon Cowell.... But no remake will ever be as good as the original. And for those of you who weren’t around in the 70s, the premise of the show is very simple.. A sentence is read with a word left out and replaced with a “blank”.. Six stars jot down an answer; the contestant then has to give the same answer. Could it be any simpler? Check out this clip for an example…

2. THE FAMILY GUY - (Cartoon Network and TBS) - Absolutely brilliant and was left off last week’s network list because the Fox episodes get rerun pretty quickly on cable. Seth MacFarlane is a genius and his tale of a doofus of a father with a loving wife and 3 kids is a warped Simpsons featuring bizarre flashbacks and a talking baby and dog who happen to be the 2 smart characters on the show. Everyone hears the dog speak, but only the dog understands the baby….I just got on the show’s bandwagon last summer,… even the supporting characters are hysterical, the wheelchair bound Joe the Cop, the sexually confused soft talking Cleveland Brown, and the man ho Quagmire.

3. LARRY KING - CNN - The king of 70s talk radio and talk tv, his nightly chat fest may have a dull guest or two, but that doesn’t stop Larry from conducting the best interviews. He was ranked # 3 on my Top 14 Talk Show rankings.. behind Letterman and Carson. Over the years he has had his share of bizarre interviews such as Tammy Faye Bakker who sadly appears to be at the end of her rope with her battle against cancer. Larry holds his own with all kinds of guests including Roseanne Barr who got him to admit that he doesn’t have a clue about how the internet works. Its kind of strange - Larry is a great interviewer, because of the combination of his lack of preparation - and his natural curiosity.. I’m surprised he hasn’t gotten curious about all the porn he can get free on-line!

4. DATING SHOWS ON MTV - Family Guy was my show in Summer ‘05 and Next and Parental Control were the TV highlights of Summer ‘06… along with “Why Can’t I Be You?” with Nick Zano which was THE best makeover show and seems to have disappeared off the network.. Of course if there was a regional TV Guide, I would know when its on.. But whatever the case may be.. all these dating shows owe their popularity to Chuck Barris who created the original Dating Game. Next is fun for its pure chutzpah and Parental Control gives the parents the big thrill forcing their kid’s detested boyfriend/girlfriend to watch a video of their kid on a date with a person the parents would prefer to see as the new paramour.

5. SHALOM IN THE HOME - I always like watching the Chabad Telethon for the Dancing Rabbis and the Ultra Orthodox hosts who are not very savvy about camera angles and video production in general due to the fact that they don’t watch TV. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach who is the coolest Lubavitcher has been racking up the shekels with his books.. starting with Kosher Sex…. Now he gets a new wardrobe and an RV and gets to head out for a little Dr. Phil Orthodox Jewish style.

I really have to give Shmuley credit for tackling issues that undoubtedly make him uncomfortable.. He counseled a family with a Jewish guy that gave up his religion and converted.. And then there was the episode with the lesbian couple who was invited to the Boteach home.... with his 10 chasidisih kids. Well as it turns out, Shmuley informed us he has a gay brother, and it was nice to see that he is a lot more open minded to these people than what we saw in “Trembling Before God”. I haven’t seen SITH in awhile, so I don’t know if it is coming back again. I checked his website and there is no mention of new episodes,.

6. ENTOURAGE - The story of a Hollywood actor who hits it big and still has his 3 childhood buddies hanging out with him all the time. Matt Dillon’s brother Kevin is actually a great actor playing the ego maniacal frustrated actor “Drama”. In one of the funniest scenes on TV this year, Drama runs into some gangsters who hang him over a hotel balcony but as he faces possible death, he is thrilled when the guy who is threatening to kill him recognizes him from a past acting job.

7. THE SOPRANOS - Yep this was the year we got HBO and I was not sure I wanted to like this show.. But interestingly enough having also seen all 3 Godfather movies this year, and now a full season of The Sopranos, it appears that the program really does not glorify gangsters. I’m not that emotionally attached to the characters , but I did watch the season to see what all the hype was about.. And I guess the show is OK… It’s a total waste of newsprint that the Ledger had a weekly recap.. yet they don’t have a New York Rangers beat writer! The Rangers have been much improved the past 2 seasons.. yet the paper chooses to have a beat writer covering the Knicks… who are absolutely awful. By the way the reason Isiah Thomas wasn’t suspended for that disgusting fight that he instigated was because NBA Commissioner David Stern doesn’t want to suspend the man who will be doing the post game locker room interviews at the NBA Finals, after the Knicks fire that slimy smooth talking used car salesman sleazebag.

Three that would be here if it was a Top Ten List..- The now cancelled Rita Cosby and Lucky Louie plus Password on GSN. Cosby was a walking train wreck.. You just cant look away when she is on a roll.. Especially with her breathless excitement about stories created by news producers who have nothing better to do.. ie Natalie Holloway, the guy that fell off the cruise ship, etc. Nothing about the Holocaust going on in Darfur, or other important stuff. Nonetheless, her show was very freaking watchable.. especially her golly gee shazam fascination with the BTK killer who used the “k” from a kosher symbol for one of his taunting ransom style letters.

Lucky Louie was a sitcom that was so adult, I cringed for the parents of the actress who played the little kid. It was strange to hear the f word followed by a laugh track.. But the scene where the Kramer esque neighbor used Louie’s shower, and then walked right past poor Louie with his shmeckle sticking out was just so unexpectedly hysterical, especially since it had never ever happened on a sitcom before.. except behind the scenes on the Different Strokes episode with the molester in the bike shop. This is the same “I can’t believe I just saw this on a sitcom” shock viewers felt in the 70s when Archie Bunker was constantly shooting off his mouth with his “politically incorrect“ commentary. Incidentally, Lucky Louie was cancelled after one season.

Finally, Password is just a fun game..… I’m surprised they don’t try to remake it.. Its always amusing to see the same star appear on GSN reruns of Password Plus the same week as Super Password - Last week, John Astin was on both shows.. showing up with a big bald spot on Password Plus from the early 80s, but a full head of hair in the early 90‘s Super Password! Then again Entourage’s Jeremy Piven also has a lot more hair than he did in the Seinfeld episode he appeared on in 1993. It’s a Christmas Miracle!

Ok folks.. time for the wkly NFL picks.. last week we had our 2nd straight winning week going 9-7 and now we are 18 games under (we were –25 2 wks ago!) at 100-118-6. The Amazing Pumpstradamus lost last week and is 9-5-1. Here we go!

Minnesota 3 ½ point doggies over GREEN BAY – The game nobody sees on the wacky NFL Network that will air that wacky Rutgers bowl that no Cablevision customers will see.

Kansas City 6 1/2 faves over OAKLAND – Not even sure KC deserves this much respect… this may be the toughest pick of the week.

GIANTS 3 over New Orleans – I am still on the bandwagon for another week.

Titans 4 ½ doggies over BUFFALO – 2 teams streaking to the finish that should look even better in 2007.

Carolina 6 ½ doggies over ATLANTA – IF the Giants are winning, this will be a HUGE game for the scoreboard watchers.

ST. LOUIS 2 faves over Washington – The locals must be happy that Jason Marquis went to the Cubs.

Colts 9 faves over HOUSTON – Blame the Texans for the Rutgers TV fiasco – they own that wacky bowl game.

Baltimore 3 doggies over PITTSBURGH – That oughta put the kibosh officially on the Steelers much to the chagrin of Steelers fans and my buddy Brian whose father in law created the Nate the Dancing Elf video.

CLEVELAND 3 faves over Tampa Bay – Is this gonna be the Gus Johnson game? Great call on the miracle Lee shot in the Knick game Wed. night!

DETROIT 5 doggies over Chicago – Do the Bears really have anything to play for now that they have iced home field?

New England 2 ½ doggies over JACKSONVILLE – THE game of the week for Jets fans who should want the Jags to lose while Denver and the Bengals beat up each other in the wild card race. See Pumpstradamus below.

Bengals 3 doggies over DENVER – Im really down on the AFC West wanna-bes. Hopefully the airport is shoveled out so the Bengals get home for Christmas.

SAN FRAN 4 faves over Arizona – Another pair of mediocre teams that are still amazingly alive in the pathetic NFC Wild Card race.

San Diego 4 ½ faves over SEATTLE – The AFC teams are just so much better plus we could have an 8-8 team win the NFC West.

The Jets 2 ½ doggies over MIAMI – Huge game for the well coached team whose home field is Giants Stadium.

Philadelphia 7 doggies over DALLAS – The Eagles may win more games than the 76ers and the Flyers – combined!

PUMPSTRADAMUS PICK OF THE WEEK: Pump lost last week to fall to 9-5-1. This week in honor of the Family Guy's hometown of Quahog we will go to.. New England for the Patriots-Jaguar game. Sayeth the Pump: "Take New England because they are closer to The North Pole and Santa Claus. New England is 2nd in distance only to Seattle."

Next week: A special podcast chat with... Pumpstradamus

Thursday, December 14, 2006

TV 4th Quarter Report - 14 Shows That Entertained Me In 2006 - Part I

As we prepare to wrap up the year, its time for the annual traditions at NWOW.. first the final TV quarterly report of '06... and later this month.. the great psychic Pumpstradamus will appear to take a look into the future for what we will be seeing in 2007. This time for the TV quarterly report, we will do it as a Top 14 list... 14 shows that entertained us in '06... Part I features 7 shows from regular ol tv.. Part II features the other 7 on cable.

Back in the good ol’ days there used to be a little magazine called “TV Guide” which published regional editions each week that included local TV listings. In the early to mid 80’s the focus of the magazine’s articles started to change as an increasing number of TV consumers spent more time taping shows on their VCR’s and cable was becoming increasingly more popular…Remember when there was Wometco Home Theater - WHT - The Movie Network, or when TBS started all its shows at 5 minutes past the hour so it would get its own separate time listing?

TV Guide realized that people weren’t watching shows the way they used to… The local channels on 2-13 were facing increasing competition, and more people were taping shows for later viewing… assuming they knew how to program those pre-TIVO VCRs. And as TV Guide changed, so did we. DVDs have replaced videotapes, and since DVDs are so cheap to produce, TV shows now come out on collectors disks (Don’t even ask me about the Match Game dvd that I ordered 3 weeks ago on eBay and still hasn’t arrived!) As a result, “appointment TV” has virtually vanished. In addition, over the past year or two as more of us have dumped dial up for high speed modems, we are also watching more shows on network’s websites and/or itunes. Basically, listing a “time” for a show has become irrelevant,… TIVOs now just does the taping for you…. And sadly the idea of “listings” has succumbed to computerized color coded grids.

On to the list we go...

Broadcast -

1. 24 - Hands down the most intense show on TV - its serialized format has been imitated by a lot of other shows.. but now as it gets ready to launch season #6.. it has the copyright on action packed fun as the whole season takes place over 24 nail biting hours... And as the show gets older, the writers have learned how to make the 60 minute episodes more self contained.. yet they leave themselves enough wiggle room to allow themselves to change course mid stream while making the ending of episode 24 match up to episode 1.

One odd drawback for FOX... after trying to drag 24’s episodes over a September to May "traditional" season, the producers realized its better to just run the show 24 weeks in a row.. so it now starts in January and runs straight through May. However, its other hit show.. the mega popular American Idol (which did not make my list) also can only run through a finite number of episodes, so Fox has to contend with its annual dinky Fall schedule and then wait until AI and 24 come back in January to pick up the ratings slack of the first 4 months of the season. Survivor and The Amazing Race have been able to split its season into 2 competitions.. ... I know it would be impossible with 24... but maybe AI? Or maybe pair it up with the AI/Gong Show copycat with Regis - NBC’s America’s Got Talent? Heck, an AI episode got higher ratings when it went up against the Grammys, while one of the old AI winners was performing on that prestigious awards show!!

2. Heroes - The BEST new show of the new season is picking up in the ratings.. and if I’m FOX.. I’d do a major tivo ad campaign because 24 is gonna face a run for its money when it starts airing opposite Heroes. I plan to watch 24 live, and then watch Heroes on-line on Tuesday… I can‘t watch it right after 24... that hour after 24 is an hour of decompression... and my blood pressure cant take any more stress.. so unless its some fluffy lightweight David Caruso acting on CSI Miami.. I would just as soon catch Heroes the following night.

And what a brilliantly executed format.. it sounds silly as its premise. a bunch of people have super powers.. but it comes off far more sophisticated than the typical comic book mythology. The show is blessed with some charming actors like the time bending Hiro.. and some not so nice guys such as Nathan the sleazy politican and his brother Peter... who seems to have a jail bait thing going with that cute little cheerleader who also has a superpower that she may or may not remember since her dad has a way of erasing people's memories... That was the December cliffhanger as lovely young Claire realized that anybody who knew about her self healing powers.. seemed to have totally forgotten about it. The Lost fans are flocking over to Heroes because it does something else.. it moves the plot along and ANSWERS questions... while simultaneously creating new head scratching mysteries.

3. Lost - Speaking of which.. I watched every episode in 2006 and for the life of me.. I can’t figure out why. The plot really goes nowhere and the whole “Others” plot has turned into a massive sado masochist torture chamber. I did get a kick out of the cliffhanger at the end of the 1st half of the season where Jack performs life saving surgery on Ben (plastics Benjamin plastics) and stops mid stream and announces he’s just gonna leave him hanging there until he knows his pal and fellow prisoner Kate has been freed. The fact that Jack saw Kate doing the ol’ hocus mcpocus with Sawyer on a hidden cam? Priceless! However my patience continues to wear thin with this show.

4. Desperate Housewives - Another serialized show and the 4th of 4 shows whose recaps I read the day after on and The show seems to have found its way this season by focusing more on the craziness that envelops Marcia Cross’s Bree character including her wacky hubby Orson.

I also wonder what will happen with the storyline involving Lynette after she found some creepy pseudo kiddy porn in her new neighbor’s basement. I was hoping that she would go into the basement and find Betty Applewhite’s son chained down there like he was during Season 2.

5. The CSI Trio- Miami, NY and the Original - I usually catch the first two much more frequently than the Thursday night original. Miami has the legendary David Caruso - and this season the show has given a higher profile to Eva LaRue.. . She‘s not quite Emily Procter.. but they do give her some odd outfits which draws more attention to the silly crime stories that seem to always be solved during the same day .. Just like NYPD Blue used to do… It’s either that or LaRue‘s character has hygiene problems and doesn’t change her clothes!.

By the way did you know that in the 90s La Rue was married to John O’Hurley who played Peterman on Seinfeld and currently hosts Family Feud? Actually, the lovely LaRue is much older than she looks - she and O’Hurley are only 12 years apart. Also, LaRues sister Nika was one of many women photographed by convicted serial killer William Richard Bradford…. He had a thing for photographing women he met in bars.. His ruse? (or La Rues?) He would promise these young ladies that he would help them with their aspiring modeling careers… This story came out on the news just this past summer and CSI Miami producers were so sensitive to LaRue’s connection to this sordid criminal that they made a whole episode about it, and cast LaRue’s sister in that episode!

CSI NY might just be the best one - Gary Sinise is an excellent actor.. Not as much sex appeal as Miami.. but better acting and more interesting storylines. I really haven’t watched too much of the original lately.. I see that Grissom shaved off his beard.

6. The Law and Order trio - By a show of hands can anyone tell me who Steven Zirnkilton is? No googling allowed.. When it comes to this franchise, my L and O of choice is SVU with the Vincent Donofrio Criminal Intents running a close 2nd...

Here is one question about SVU… How much money does Richard Belzer earn… and why??? I happen to think Belzer is very talented.... He was great on Homicide,… but on SVU he has been delegated so far to the back burner that he makes only the occasional wisecrack and reminds me of old Hollywood Squares episodes where Peter Marshall would apologize at the end of the show to any stars who weren’t called on. (Sorry Wayland Flowers - I guess our contestants preferred Lester because Willie Tyler.... HAS TALENT!) By the way speaking of Hollywood Squares.. check out the panel on this clip from You Tube... The CBS FM oldies fans are gonna love this..., and check out the living legend in the Center Square!

Getting back to SVU, it has changed quite a bit since it first started - I think they had 6 detectives back then. But now its only the main 2 with occasional cameos by the other actors… and Belzer taking home more money each week than most of us make in a year.. for doing zippo! And as for the original… they probably should have retired the show when Jerry Orbach died a couple of years ago.. And I’m not such a big fan of the platooning they do with CI.. But I guess I can live with it… Donofrio’s the best TV detective since the days of Columbo,

7. How I Met Your Mother - the only network sitcom to make this list.. I recently went back to it after a brief dalliance with that absurd Deal or No Deal.. the game show that inspired NBC to dedicate its nightly 8pm hour to game shows and reality TV. D or No D has the dopiest contestants who simply don’t understand how to incorporate statistics into their choice to continue playing or quit… . One thing I have noticed while watching the show… I know all the model’s names.. even before Howie Mandel asks them to open the case. I must admit that Howie does a great job hosting this otherwise dopey game, and its popularity might lead to a game show resurgence that CBS was hoping for during last summer’s Game Show Marathon.

HIMYM is quite amusing - some feel it’s the best sitcom on TV although its ratings are not quite as good as the one joke Two and a Half Men. Neil Patrick Harris has hit a career resurgence ever since Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.. Imagine if they went to the one in South Plainfield instead and found it closed.. Would they have gone to Taco Bell instead and spent the rest of the movie sick on the toilet?

Three Shows that would have made the list if it was a Top 10 List:

American Dad, Game Show Marathon and The Nine. American Dad has not drained Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane of all of his creativity! Thank God! What other show has a Republican dad… two teenagers,… a captured alien that sounds like Paul Lynde and a goldfish with a German accent. Game Show Marathon also gets an honorable mention for bringing back some classic game shows on their old retro sets.

The Nine is a perfect example of how the continuing storyline/flashback genre has jumped the shark - the show started out with a bang.. Nine bank robbery hostages and how their lives intertwine after they are freed.. But all the big hullaballoo about the mystery involving one character and his pregnant girlfriend’s breakup during the siege turned into a big disappointment at his parent’s Friday night Shabbat dinner when he reveals he tried to escape the bank and left her behind. And the father is a Rabbi.. Yet they only say the blessing over the wine and challah on Friday Night? What kind of a Rabbi doesn’t say Kiddush? V’Shabbat Kodshachah b’ahavah oovratzon - Key the Zirnkilton baritone HINCHALTONOOOOO….. Zirnkilton by the way is the narrator whose voice you hear at the beginning of all the Law and Order episodes.

Happy Hannukah! And next week - The Seven Cable shows…

Now time for the weekly NFL picks.. Last week we were 10-6.. Now 20 games under .500 at 91-111-6. Pumpstradamus is 9-4-1... and has clinched a winning record.

SEATTLE 9 1/2 point faves over San Fran – The weekly NFL Network game that nobody gets.

ATLANTA 3 doggies over Dallas – Is this gonna be another NFL Network game? I like watching Cowboy losses – and Atlanta may be getting hot.

Philadelphia 5 ½ doggies over THE GIANTS – Fear not, fellow Giants fans.. Our boys will win.. but I think the spread is a just a bit steep, especially against the resurgent Eagles who know that the 9-17 choke job against the Giants may have killed their season.

Jets 3 doggies over MINNESOTA – Bounce back week for the jets in that wacky roller coaster AFC.

BALTIMORE 11 faves over Cleveland – Not a big fan of these huge spreads… or the Browns for that matter…

NEW ENGLAND 11 faves of Houston – Another biiiiig spread.

Miami 1 doggies over BUFFALO – They’re both so mediocre, the game will probably finish in a tie.

Pittsburgh 3 ½ doggies over CAROLINA – No line on this one in the Thursday Ledger due to the Carolina QB situation – so I’m using a friends office pool spread. Notice how nobody consults me for football pool advice? The Steelers may run the table and finish out of the playoffs at 9-7.. but look how much better the Penguins are doing!!

NEW ORLEANS 9 ½ faves over Washington – I just saw in the Washington Post this week that Skins owner Dan Snyder bought the last DC classical music station and flipped the format – now the football AND classical fans cant stand him.

TITANS 3 ½ doggies over Jacksonville – See Steelers running the table theory above plus Nashville fans have the Predators to root for – and theyre in first place!

CHICAGO 13 ½ faves over Tampa Bay – The Bears special teams alone will outscore the bucs.

GREEN BAY 5 faves over Detroit – yawn

Denver 2 ½ faves over ARIZONA – Don’t look now but the Cardinals have their first hot streak since Ford was in office – Not Gerald Ford – Im talking about Henry Ford when he ran the car company!

Kansas City 9 doggies over SAN DIEGO – just a wild hunch…

Rams 2 ½ doggies over OAKLAND – The Raiders are favorites? Woweee!

INDIANAPOLIS 3 faves over Cincy – I get the feeling a lot of people are going with the Bengals on this one.. but this game may not be as predicable as a long in booth chat Monday Night with Archie Manning.

PUMPSTRADAMUS PICK OF THE WEEK: This week we go to NJ.. The site of the origins of the Taco Bell e coli outbreak as the Giants take on the Philadelphia Eagles. Sayeth the Pump: “Go with the Giants, in honor of the late Peter Boyle, who played a giant monster in “Young Frankenstein”.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Who's Sane for Person of the Year?

Its that time of the year again.. The big Time Life empire starts to give out their end of the year awards through its magazines, so let the speculation begin. Entertainment Weekly has its Entertainer of the Year.. maybe the cast of Heroes? Or how about Jerry Bruckheimer.. of the time travel flick "Deja Vu" who is singlehadedly putting CBS at the top of the Nielsen ratings? Or Dakota Fanning? Is she a real person or did they invent a time machine in the early 90s and she's really little Christina Ricci traveling here from the past?

I was also about to write a column questioning who would get the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year Award when I heard that they had already issued it to Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat. That kind of surprised me - I had a few other people in mind including Tony LaRussa or Albert Pujols of the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals, or possibly LaDamian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers who is making everyone who owns him in fantasy football truly happy. Up until this weekend, I would have also made an argument for Rutgers coach Greg Schiano who was thisclose to getting onetime laughingstock Rutgers into a BCS Bowl - but the triple overtime loss last weekend kinda knocked him out of contention for that award. Nonetheless, Wade seems to be a rather surprising choice - Mad Dog Russo on WFAN speculated the other day that they would have given it to tennis player Roger Federer but he was out of the country and couldn’t make it to the award ceremony.

And who would I give the Time Magazine Person of the Year Award to if I had a vote? Well its definitely somebody who wont be in the country to receive the award!

Last year I posthumously picked Teri Schiavo because her feeding tube turned into a gigantic political hot potato. This year I would pick someone else who made an impact.

One of my favorite movies this time of year is “It’s a Wonderful Life” where the angel Clarence takes our hero on a tour of how life would have been had he never been born. Clarence could have taken the person who invented panties, but he would see he had no impact on Britney Spears. But if there was one person who really made an impact on 2006.. How about the person whose presence was a major issue in this years midterm elections that swung Congressional control from the Republicans back to the Democrats? Plus his trial was quite interesting for those of you like DAS who actually listen to NPR….

Therefore I would pick,….

Saddam Hussein! Just imagine how different life would have been this year if he wasn’t around. His trial was pretty captivating.. Hes gonna get hung sometime next year - hopefully that event will get into more homes than the NFL Network. And this whole disaster in Iraq which was the defining issue in this year’s election never would have been going on if he didn't create the mess there in the first place? Did anyone else really make as much of an impact this year?

Now on to the picks where we are 81-105-6 a pathetic 24 games under .500.... which reminds me.. 24 is back next month. Woo Hoo. Pumpstradamus has clinched at least .500 at 8-4-1.

This week for the hideous football picks we are doing something different.,… We are taking all the road teams on Sunday except for the Chargers! Maybe that might change our luck..

Giants 3 point road doggies at Carolina – I haven’t given up on ‘em yet! But one more loss and I think it’s hockey time.

Bills 4 point road doggies at The Jets – Have you noticed that every year the Bills or Dolphins always seem to have a late season hot streak? Sorry Jets fans especially after last wks losses by the Wild Card contenders out west.

Ravens 3 point road doggies over KC – This one I’m not too sure about, but the Chiefs have not been playing that well lately.

Atlanta 3 point road doggies over Tampa Bay– Any day now the Bucs will get Chris Simms signed to a long term deal so the Tampa fans have something to look forward to in the future!

Vikings 2 point road doggies over Detroit – Another yawner…. Only the fantasy footballers will watch on the dish.

Titans pick em at Houston – Notice how I raved last week about the Titans covering the spread and then picked the Colts – that’s called a Nate boo boo…

Colts pick em at Jacksonville – This week I don’t have to worry about the Colts covering!

Saints 7 ½ road doggies at Dallas – They barely escaped the Meadowlands last week.. I don’t think they can cover by a TD over the Saints.

Eagles 1 road faves over Washington – Great win on Monday Night! I wouldn’t want to be in Snyder’s luxury box at 4pm on Sunday afternoon….

Raiders 11 ½ road doggies over Cincy – If there is one thing I have done right this season, it’s taking the Raiders to cover the big spreads! This is the Gus Johnson game by the way – The Post says he and Clyde Frazier had a little off the air tiff last week during a Knick game.

New England 3 ½ point road faves over Miami – Keep in mind a Patriot loss combined with a Jet win… See Pumpstrasamus below…

Packers 4 road doggies at San Francisco – I have now left the 49er bandwagon although NFC teams at 6-7 after this week will still be contenders… The lucky announcers assigned to this one are Matt Vasgersian, JC Pearson, Tim Ryan, and Laura Okmin. Laura Okmin?

Seahawks 3 ½ road faves over Arizona – Well at least the weather will be nice.

And the lone home team pick for Sunday – San Diego 7 ½ home faves over Denver – My impression of a Fan at the Jet Game Sunday – J-E-T- hey look the Chargers scored again!

Rams 6 ½ doggies over the Bears – Home doggies on Monday Night… And speaking of Monday Night.. what do I watch at 9pm Mondays in January since Heroes and 24 will be on against each other? Do I watch 24 and tape heroes? Or do I watch Heroes on the next day:? After all you need some time to decompress after these shows… Oy what a dilemma.

PUMPSTRADAMUS PICK OF THE WEEK: This week we go to Miami where Rutgers Coach Greg Schiano spurned the University of Miami and Donna Shalala and decided to stay at Rutgers. Sayeth the Pump: “Gotta go with Miami - they have my favorite store AND Dwayne Wade who I predicted would win the SI Sportsman of the Year award even though I never heard of him” Note from Nate: Miami Pump is actually in Fort Lauderdale! (On Power Line Road if you don't believe me)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

(Corle)One is the Loneliest Number: A Movie Club Column

Sung to the tune of “Oh Mickey”:

“Oh Britney you’re so fine
Your unpantied legs should intertwine
Oh Britney Oh Britney ”

Talk about a tough job.. How does a movie franchise that made 2 awesome movies in the 70s.. bounce back with a sequel in the 90s to a much loved piece of work? This was a question facing George Lucas when he tried to make the Star Wars Phantom Menace movie in 1999... But, from an NWOW perspective, that movie is soooo 2005... Kind of like the days when Britney Spears used to wear panties and all the universe didn’t know her personal grooming habits. And why is she partying with Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan instead of taking care of her kiddies?

Today we are talking about another sequel that had a lot to live up to.. The Godfather Part III. This movie came out in the very early 90s…and it definitely pales in comparison to the first two films. Back in 1990 when this came out, a lot of critics blasted Francis Ford Coppola for casting his daughter Sofia in a major role in this movie,… As Mary, the daughter of Michael Corleone, many of the die hards consider her the Jar Jar Binks of this movie..

The first issue with this film comes in the very beginning with a timeline shot of our old pal The Twin Towers establishing that the movie takes place in New York City in 1979, some 20 years after the end of Godfather II when Michael Corleone killed his brother while on a fishing trip. The movie also features a nasty shootout in Atlantic City which is ironic since 2 columns back we featured a fishing headline and an Atlantic City trip. The issue with 1979 is did they make a mistake? Or is the movie taking poetic license by introducing a storyline involving the deaths of 2 Popes which actually happened.. but in 1978? Of course shows like The West Wing and 24 have “Presidents“. But these are not the real President,…. Those are examples of the writer using poetic license to create a fictional Prez like this movie may have done by creating fictional Popes. On the other hand, the 2001 sitcom That’s My Bush which amazingly is easier to find on DVD than the new oh so elusive Match Game DVD (released 2 weeks ago and still IMPOSSIBLE to find in NJ!) featured a moronic buffoon named Bush as President which is obviously very true. Speaking of That’s My Bush, do you think Kevin Federline will use those recent Britney Spears pics when he tries to get custody of their kids?

The movie starts like the other 2.. The Corleone Family hosts a big party and makes a 10 million dollar donation to a Catholic Charity. This film features prominent new characters including Don Altobello played by Eli Wallach who is still working in 2006 and will celebrate his 91st birthday this Thursday! There are also some striking similarities between this film’s opening party and the first movie. Both Godfather’s sons say “no” to a life of crime. And when an older teen idol Johnny Fontaine comes out to sing a song, the head of the family again retreats to his office to work… this time Michael has to address a dispute between his nephew and mobster Joey Zasa.. a scene that culminates with an ear biting performance that shows that Godfather III was on Mike Tyson’s Netflix list before his fight with Evander Holyfield.

The film focuses on Michael Corleone’s 2 kids.. .. now grown and possible heirs to daddy’s life of organized crime. His daughter Mary starts the movie by blatantly flirting with Sonny Corleone’s son… Sonny’s sonny.. Sounds like the catch phrase that catapulted Tom Hanks to stardom in Bosom Buddies. However, Sonny’s son Vinny is also Mary’s first cousin which makes the budding romance kind of creepy. Of course it works for Vinny since he aspires to rise within the ranks of the Corleone organization.

Sonny, played in the original by James Caan of Brian’s Song fame, was gunned down in the original movie at a toll plaza in a violent gun battle that seems to have replayed over Thanksgiving weekend outside that Queens nightclub when a man leaving his bachelor party died after 50 shots were fired by undercover cops investigating nightclub shenanigans, . Isn’t it interesting how Al Sharpton came in and got everyone all riled up BEFORE he knew the facts involved in the case? Now there are reports that there may have been a person with a gun in that entourage…. . And did Sharpton jump on the bandwagon because the young man was gunned down by 50 bullets OR because of another headline grabbing twist… that he was killed on his wedding day. I wonder if Shapton would have started his marches and protests if this gentleman had been killed by just one bullet. I think so because he could always seize the “gunned down on his wedding day“ angle. . Sharpton never met a headline he couldn’t resist; one of his protests was held outside a hospital where sick people need to rest and recuperate!

First of all… you shouldn’t have a bachelor party the day before the wedding.. You need to be sober and well rested to keep track of all the guests and the dancing and of course the envelopes! Secondly, the guy drove his car right into an undercover cop and then rammed his car twice! So maybe he was up to something involving the undercover investigation, or he was seriously intoxicated. Let’s say he was drunk…. While Sharpton talks about the young man’s legacy, its very likely that based on statistics of drunk driving car crashes, that another scenario was very likely to unfold. Based on his difficulty in getting the car out of its parking spot without striking a man and another car is it unreasonable to believe that he likely would have gotten into a deadly accident with his car? And what would his legacy have been then? Or the legacy of the young kid on a bicycle or innocent pedestrian who would have been hit?

Getting back to the movie, Michael’s son Anthony also has his scene announcing his decision to distance himself from the family business, by telling his padre in the beginning of the movie that he will not become a lawyer.. ostensibly groomed by Michael to replace Tom Hagen who “died” because Robert Duvall demanded too much money to appear in this film. Anthony instead decides to follow his dream to become a singer, yet his premiere night at the opera in Italy is like an episode of 24.. capped off with a massive shootout on the steps outside.. the most action seen on steps outside a building since the singles meat market that used to congregate outside of Bnai Jeshurun on the Upper West Side back in my single days.

Its interesting to compare Anthony to his dad in the very beginning of the first movie. Keep in mind that the first movie started with Michael Corleone telling his girlfriend (who would be the kid’s mom) that he would never get involved in his dad’s line of work. Would the kids succeed where Dad failed and steer clear of all the craziness? Unlike his dad, Anthony was able to follow through and stay away from all of the Corleone shenanigans, although hypothetically you wonder if there was a G4 movie, would he actually be working for the family?- What opera company would hire him after his family’s behavior at his Italian premiere? Shootouts on the steps? Another guy poisoned to death in his balcony seats?

But Michael so incredibly unlikeable in the second movie is the focal point in G3. Now that some 20 years have gone by since the brutal killing of his brother… (as opposed to the original where he brutally killed his brother in law in the end), Michael has a craving to legitimize the family business. He offers to make a deal with the struggling Vatican bank where he will bail them out with several hundred million dollars, if they use their board of director votes to catapult him to the head of Immobilare- an international real estate company that will make him a Gates-ian multi gazillionaire. And how did the Vatican Bank get into this pickle? Did they make a bunch of bad loans? Was their slogan - “When the Protestant Bank says no.. the Vatican says… Yes!” Of course things don’t go according to plan and we watch the unfolding of the 3 Popes era of 1978... Or 1979?.

Michael also faces his own mortality as his health starts going downhill. He is actually civil to his ex wife and at times sweet. His dealing with the Vatican is part of his attempt at redemption - he himself rationalizes his deal with the Vatican Bank by weighing the power to absolve debt vs. the power of forgiveness. But his attempt to escape the family business is short lived as his nephew Vinny continues to drag him in.. and Michael can only watch helplessly as his little ho daughter goes skipping around town showing off “My Cousin Vinny”.

Overall when you give this movie a rating it really isn’t fair to compare it to the 2 masterpieces that preceded it… But even if you look at it on its own merits its still way too long clocking on at more than 3 hours.. And the opera scene which had so much potential… enough to add a half or full bladder to the final rating…. lets us down by going on and on and on… Therefore 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 III gets 2 bladders.

And now folks its time to announce our movie club‘s next anthology: A salute to the late Robert Altman with a look back at four of his classics. (assuming I can find them at Blockbuster)… M*A*S*H, Nashville, Short Cuts and The Player. To paraphrase Lindsay Lohan - I just hope the Altman columns are adiquate!

For Thursday’s NFL Pick - Take the Browns as 7 point doggies.