Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Sense of History

At the moment, I am being a good Samaritan and temporarily housing a young actor who's working on a project of ours.   It is an interesting experience and my cap tips to anybody who has parented a 22-year-old.  For the first time ever in my life, there is both a snowboard and an XBox in my home.

Now the "kid" is mature in a lot of ways given he was a regular on a soap opera when he was a teenager.   But he got caught in a little bit of a housing crunch after graduating from UCLA and I couldn't let somebody I know live underneath the freeway.   

As a result, my guest room now looks a little like a frat house and, as I am discovered is a common trait with the younger set, nothing really has a sense of urgency until it is absolutely, absolutely necessary.

But the point of today's entry is not any of the above.   It's more about the discovery I am having about the sense of history the youth have today.   Essentially, it is zero.

To wit, a while back, I happened to be in the supermarket with him as he "liquided" up for the Friday night beer pong tourney.   Since it was right after the passing of Mary Tyler Moore, her picture was adorning the People cover on the magazine rack.   I dreaded the answer to my question but I had to ask it anyway.

Do you know who she is?

"Nope."

Checking into his temporary digs, I mentioned that my condo owner is the daughter-in-law of Shirley Jones.

"Who?"

I mentioned the guy who, for a long while, lived up on the fourth floor of this condo.   Don Knotts.

"Who?"

He used to be on "The Andy Griffith Show.

"What's that?"

My head hung lower but I had to keep up this streak.   I recited to him my top 25 favorite films of all time.  Classics from "The Godfather" to "Rear Window" to "Some Like It Hot."   He had seen one of them..."Jaws."

I moved to TV shows.   My revered and adored sitcoms.

The Dick Van Dyke Show.   Nope.

Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, Golden Girls...no, no, no.

All in the Family got a "what's that."

Now here is a young guy headed into what will probably be a strong career as an actor.  With absolutely zero perspective of the history of the industry he will be going into.

Is anybody teaching the past to the present?  I know my friends are, because some of their kids are really classic film buffs.   But is anybody doing in a university setting?   Anybody?

Okay, my favorite TV show of all time is I Love Lucy.   They had long since stopped producing new episodes before I saw my first one.

I didn't have to be around in 1939 to appreciate "Gone with the Wind.'

My parents weren't even born for the early years of Charlie Chaplin.   I still know he was a genius.

I never saw Babe Ruth or Jackie Robinson play baseball, but I know they were sheer greatness on the diamond.

Is this a good development with future generations?   Who's going to teach how to appreciate history of the arts and sports when we are gone?

The answer is one word.

Sad.

Dinner last night:   Chinese chopped salad.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

This Date in History - October 18

Happy birthday to Pam Dawber back in the day.  Na-noo, na-noo.

320:  PAPPUS OF ALEXANDRIA, GREEK PHILOSOPHER, OBSERVES AN ECLIPSE OF THE SUN.

Hopefully, he used one of those pinholes that don't damage your eyes.

629:  DAGOBERT I IS CROWNED KING OF THE FRANKS.

Defeating challenges by Oscar Meyer and Ballpark.

1009:  THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE, A CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN JERUSALEM, IS COMPLETELY DESTROYED BY THE FATIMID CALIPH AL-HAKIM BI-AMR ALLAH.

Yeah, even then.

1356:  THE BASEL EARTHQUAKE, THE MOST SIGNIFICANT HISTORIC SEISMOLOGICAL EVENT NORTH OF THE ALPS, DESTROYS THE TOWN OF BASEL, SWITZERLAND.

And, yeah, even then.

1540:  SPANISH CONQUISTADOR HERNANDO DE SOTO'S FORCES DESTROY THE FORTIFIED TOWN OF MABILA IN PRESENT-DAY ALABAMA, KILLING TUSKALOOSA.

Oh, that's where they got Tuscaloosa.

1648:  BOSTON SHOEMAKERS FORM FIRST AMERICAN LABOR ORGANIZATION.

Nary a sole didn't join.

1775:  AFRICAN-AMERICAN POET PHILLIS WHEATLEY IS FREED FROM SLAVERY.

Um, back then, I think they were called Black.  Or Negro.  Or colored.   Look at the history books.

1775:  THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION - THE BURNING OF WHAT IS NOW PORTLAND, MAINE.

What was then a big old fire.

1851:  HERMAN MELVILLE'S MOBY DICK IS FIRST PUBLISHED AS "THE WHALE."

It was a whale?  Spoiler alert!

1867:  THE UNITED STATES TAKES POSSESSION OF ALASKA AFTER PURCHASING IT FOR 7.2 MILLION DOLLARS FROM RUSSIA.

Collusion!!!

1898:  THE UNITED STATES TAKES POSSESSION OF PUERTO RICO FROM SPAIN.

Do they want it back please?

1922:  THE BRITISH BROADCASTING COMPANY IS FOUNDED.

Good, now PBS stations have something to air.

1926:  SINGER CHUCK BERRY IS BORN.

And, earlier in 2017, he died.   You see how this works?

1927:  ACTOR GEORGE C. SCOTT IS BORN.

He accepted birthday cards, but not Oscars.

1929:  THE JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF THE PRIVY COUNCIL OVERRULES THE SUPREME COURT OF CANADA WHEN IT DECLARES THAT WOMEN ARE CONSIDERED "PERSONS" UNDER CANADIAN LAW.

Has this been adopted in America?  Just checking.

1934:  ACTRESS INGER STEVENS IS BORN.

Katy, the Farmer's Daughter.

1935:  ACTOR PETER BOYLE IS BORN.

So good, especially in "Young Frankenstein" and "Everybody Loves Raymond."

1938:  ACTRESS DAWN WELLS IS BORN.

Mary Ann from "Gilligan's Island."

1939:  ASSASSIN LEE HARVEY OSWALD IS BORN.

You may have heard of him.

1944:  WORLD WAR II - THE STATE FUNERAL OF FIELD MARSHAL ERWIN ROMMEL TAKES PLACE IN GERMANY.

Unlike his pals, he never got to hide out in South America.

1945:  ARGENTINE POLITICIAN JUAN PERON MARRIES ACTRESS EVA DUARTE.

No crying now.

1951:  ACTRESS PAM DAWBER IS BORN.

Also known as Mrs. Mark Harmon.

1952:  TV PRODUCER CHUCK LORRE IS BORN.

Currently in charge of every sitcom on television.

1954:  TEXAS INSTRUMENTS ANNOUNCES THE FIRST TRANSISTOR RADIO.

It will never catch on.

1960:  ACTRESS ERIN MORAN IS BORN.

See Chuck Berry.

1963:  FELICETTE, A FEMALE PARISIAN STRAY CAT, BECOMES THE FIRST CAT LAUNCHED INTO SPACE.

They couldn't send it far enough to suit me.

1966:  BUSINESSWOMAN ELIZABETH ARDEN DIES.

I saw a red door and I want to paint it black.

1979:  THE FCC BEGINS ALLOWING PEOPLE TO HAVE HOME SATELLITE STATIONS WITHOUT A LICENSE.

Like the transistor, it will never catch on.

1982:  FORMER FIRST LADY BESS TRUMAN DIES.

Three years short of hitting 100.

2000:  ACTRESS GWEN VERDON DIES.

Whatever Lola wants.   Oh, yeah?   God has the final word.

2007:  A SUICIDE ATTACK ON A MOTORCADE CARRYING FORMER PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER BENAZIR PHUTTO KILLS 139 AND WOUNDS 450 MORE.   BHUTTO HERSELF IS UNINJURED.

So you try to kill one person and wind up hurting everybody but?   Gee, you need new anarchists in this country.

Dinner last night:  Had a big lunch so just a sandwich.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

My Trusty Scorebook

The official name of the book is Gene Elston's Stati-Score.   It's a spiral-bound book of baseball scoresheets good for 30 games.   Gene Elston happened to be the original radio voice of the Houston Astros and he passed away in 2015 at the age of 93.  

His scorebooks will hopefully be available for years to come.  I usually order them two or three at a time just in case they ever run out.   The last shipment I got had books that looked a little brown around the edges as if they were gathering dust in a warehouse.

Oddly, these scorebooks are as much a part of me as anything else.  I've been using them almost exclusively for over 30 years as my connection to games I've attended.  I would be lost without it.   

My scorebooks are famous.   Usually once a year, one of the Dodger Stadium roving cameramen will pop it up on Diamondvision.   The other night, the guy sitting next to us took a picture of that game's scoresheet to show his wife.   I've been patted on the back by other fans who see me scoring games.   A lost art, I am told.

I have boxes full of old ones in both my NY and my LA apartments.  They go back to the good days of the Mets in the 80s and the bad days of the Mets in the 90s.  I've got all of the great days of 1986 in Shea Stadium, including the famed Game 6 of the World Series with that little roller behind the bag that gets past Buckner.  

The scorebooks visited Chicago's Wrigley Field five years in a row as my college roommate and I made an annual trek there to see the Mets usually lose to the Cubs.   My scoring was once acknowledged by an Old Style-infused young lady who decided to call me "Stats" for the rest of the day.

The scorebooks made the trip West with me when I first became an occasional Dodger fan that ultimately bloomed into a full-fledged, card-carrying member of Blue Heaven.  Lots of games some ordinary and others not so.   Lots of cool moments.  Lots of bitter disappointment.  

But, now etched in ink for eternity is one more game and one more huge baseball memory.  You see it at the top.  Justin Turner's homerun that sailed into some fan's glove and subsequently Dodgers lore.  The scene was complete bedlam.   I've felt stadiums actually sway twice in my life.   For Game 6 of 1986 and then Sunday night.  

Because of the frenzy, I didn't actually record the homerun into my book until I had arrived home two hours later.   But it was important as always to complete the scoring of the game.   

I turn the page for the next one.   And, as far as I am concerned, there will be always be a scorebook page for me to turn.

Dinner last night:  Breakfast for dinner --- French toast and bacon.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday Morning Video Laugh - October 16, 2017

Apparently, there is a theme this month.   The first two Monday laughs featured public meltdowns so let's continue it.   Here, for instance, is Reason #973 why you should never shop at Walmart.

Dinner last night:  Chicken and waffles at the Dodger game.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Sunday Memory Drawer - What I Am Binge Watching on Hulu


The Hulu streaming service is a Sunday Memory Drawer all by itself.   I recently subscribed and I was immediately amazed by the number of old and classic TV  shows you can find on there.  What a wonderful diversion to what is considered prime time television in 2017.

Now one of the first shows I have started to binge watch is "Lou Grant."  I am about 75% of the way through the first season and I managed that in less than a week.  Think about that.  I am riveted by a show that is 40 years old!

Or is it that old?   Two of the episodes from 1977 seemed to be ripped right out of cable news in 2017.  One involved a Nazi-based white supremacy group.  Hello?!   Another covered what we now know as "fake news."   Amazing and this goes to prove that there are no real new issues in current events today.

All of which is why "Lou Grant" wound up at # 14 on my list here of my Top 25 Favorite TV Shows of All Time.   And, if I keep watching on Hulu, I just might have to revise that list and move the show up the ranks.

Okay, a pet peeve of my writing partner is a TV show set in a working environment where you never see the people actually working. His prime example is the old "Mary Tyler Moore Show." A major market newsroom. There were about four people working there at any given time. And all they were doing was sitting at their desks while Mary and Murray chatted.

You cannot make the same claim about "Lou Grant." No characters on TV worked harder than those employees in the Los Angeles Tribune newsroom. They work, they research stories, they write, and they then work and research some more. Indeed, I'd be hard pressed to tell you anything about the personal lives of the characters. Unless, of course, they were discussing it at the local watering hole. After long hours of work.

There was also no other TV show that so realistically depicted the world of journalism as "Lou Grant" did. They grabbed onto any current issue in our country and immediately turned it into some weekly plot that somehow managed to be balanced, unbiased, and....gasp, entertaining.

Maybe the reason why I loved "Lou Grant" so much is because, to this day, I have always been an avid reader of the daily newspaper. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure I learned to read because my dad used to buy not one, not two, but three daily NY papers. And, for some goofy reason, he used to go down and wait at the subway station every night for the delivery of the next day's Daily News---the Night Owl edition. In those days, they were pretty proud to boast that you could "read tomorrow's news tonight." Totally useful unless you were looking for any baseball scores. But, like clockwork, my dad would wait for that newspaper delivery every night at 830PM. He'd bring them home and then I would devour them. 

Well, not the whole paper. But, I would zero in on the baseball page, the movie listings, and the comics. I was five years old. A year later, on one of my first days in the first grade, there was a newspaper on the teacher's desk. I picked it up and started to read it to the class, much to Mrs. McKnight's surprise. Before I knew it, I had been dragged down to the principal's office so he, too, could hear my rendition of that day's adventures with Dagwood.

About a week later, I was in the second grade. And I have the daily newspaper to thank for the educational shortcut.

So, even now, there is always a newspaper in my daily regimen. The news. The sports. The comics. The Sudoku puzzle. Whatever the city, whatever the season. In California, the LA Times is left in front of my door by 6AM. And, sometime before 10AM, I am spending quality time with some black and white print.
Sundays are no different. Indeed, they're even more special because it takes more time to sift through all the sections. 

As I binge on "Lou Grant" reruns today, my appreciation for this traditional news dispersal is enhanced anew. The fictional LA Tribune on that show was a dying breed even when it first appeared on TV screens in the late 70s. Now, newspapers are dropping like the flies they used to swat. And I cringe at the thought of a day without them.

And I am amazed all over again at the performance of Edward Asner as the lead character. Consider that Lou Grant, as a character, started out on the half-hour "Mary Tyler Moore" sitcom. In that forum, he was a cartoon---a hard-boiled alcoholic with a heart of gold. Prone to screaming and temper tantrums. Somehow, on Lou's route to the cast list of a dramatic TV show, the character evolved into a multi-layered individual. You can still see the original comedic threads, but there is now so much more. It is fascinating to me that Asner and the writers managed to achieve such a changeover. Truly one of the greatest creative transitions ever created for the small screen.

Another remarkable performance in the cast is Nancy Marchand as Tribune owner Mrs. Margaret Pynchon, decades before she did a 180 degree turn and created the diabolical character of Tony Soprano's mother.   Light years of difference and mesmerizing.  Marchand won a pack of Emmys on both of those groundbreaking shows and they were all well deserved.

I can wax even more poetically about "Lou Grant," but I can't ignore one more baseline reality. The show gave me actress Linda Kelsey every week and I could watch her read the classified ads.

But, only those classified ads that you would find in a daily newspaper. If you're reading this entry right now, do me a favor. Turn off the freakin' computer and go open up the paper. There is nothing like it.

And watch "Lou Grant" on Hulu, please.

Dinner last night:  Bacon wrapped Dodger Dog at the NLDS Game # 1.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Classic Newsreel of the Month - October 2017

Check out this evidence of climate change in 1962.   Just kidding.

Dinner last night:  Taylor Ham and cheese panini.

Friday, October 13, 2017

This House For Sale












Dinner last night:  Barbecue chopped salad.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Hollywood On Its Knees

Figuratively and literally.  

The biggest news in Hollywood these days revolves around the grotesque sexual allegations against revered mogul Harvey Weinstein.   Oh, the humanity!  Cover your ears!  We must protect the children from hearing such shocking revelations.

Oh, puh-leze.  

To hear all the righteous indignations from the Tinseltown...and Washington DC...elite is mind boggling.  They had no idea this guy was feeling up and, in some cases, raping a Cecil B. DeMille cast of thousands.  

Okay, here's how ridiculous that is.  This news had filtered down to even my limited show business circles about ten years ago.   If I heard it, then everybody knew it.   Where there's smoke, there's always a three alarm blaze.   I go back many years to a sitcom writing workshop we took in NY and one of the moderators was a former showrunner for Bill Cosby.  He told us right then and there that Cosby was doing what everybody else knows he was doing now.  It was common knowledge and so was the Harvey Weinstein assorted gropes and grunts.  

But nobody said anything because Harvey was big money and he could make or break you.   Or get your new movie produced.

So, to consider that such well-known big mouth fressers as Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, and even Michelle Obama didn't know this shit was going on is absolutely ludicrous.  They're jumping on the band wagon with their hand wringing now because everybody is requiring them to be moral.   Now.

Come on.  The former President of the United States made 51 traffic-snarling, budget-busting fund raising trips to Hollywood during his eight year term.  Fat Harvey and the like are all his buddies and he regularly sucked their dicks or kissed their asses in return for a check containing multiple zeroes.   So, for him and his wigged wife to be "disgusted" by the news is an insult to us all.  Of course, Mr. and Mrs. Phony As A Three Dollar Bill needed to look the other way because Weinstein bestowed an impressive internship on one of their two brats.

Is this mike on?

Of course, now even sexual misconduct falls comfortably within party lines.  The delayed outrage about Harvey by Hollywood liberals is beyond belief in light of the undying support they supplied to Bill Clinton who, to this day, is violating the personal space of women all across America.   Of course, his own wife herself has enabled this all for decades so that she could forge her own political non-dynasty.   Then, you have conservative boob Sean Hannity totally aghast about Weinstein but, weeks before, devoted a whole show to the plight of Bill O"Reilly, who's entered his fair share of interns.  And, of course, there's the current President and we all know what we saw a decade ago on Access Hollywood.

This is all hilarious and could only happen in America.   But we live in a society where powerful men can get away with anything.   And also enabled by folks willing to look the other way until it's no longer advantageous to do so.  

Of course, the stink of Harvey Weinstein is on lots of people in Hollywood.  Oh, he's headed to his villa in Europe where he is allegedly ordering in some sexual harassment therapy like it's a Dominos pizza.  Meanwhile, his company will now be run by his brother.  Yeah, right.   That's akin to a baseball manager being thrown out of a game.   Most of them stay back in the runway and relay instructions to the bench coach.   

But he is now the perennial box office poison and the dumbbells in Hollywood can't stay far enough away from him.   They will scream about how something sinister could happen here for so long.   All the while covering up their own bony skeletons in the closet.

Dinner last night:  Taylor Ham with egg and cheese on a roll.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

This Date in History - October 11

Happy birthday to Eleanor Roosevelt on what would be her 133rd birthday.   She could do it all.  Here she is talking up a Led Zeppelin tune on FM radio.

1138:  A MASSIVE EARTHQUAKE STRIKES ALEPPO.

Aleppo?   Wasn't that also one of the Marx Brothers?

1311:  THE ORDINANCES OF 1311 ARE ESTABLISHED, IMPOSING A SERIES OF REGULATIONS UPON KING EDWARD II OF ENGLAND BY THE PEERAGE AND CLERGY.

Whatever you say...

1582:  DUE TO THE ADOPTION OF THE GREGORIAN CALENDAR, THIS DAY DOES NOT EXIST IN THIS YEAR IN ITALY, POLAND, PORTUGAL, AND SPAIN.

Don't mess with December 25.

1634:  THE BURCHARDI FLOOD KILLED 15,000 MEN IN DENMARK AND GERMANY.

No women?

1767:  SURVEYING THE MASON-DIXON LINE SEPARATING MARYLAND FROM PENNSYLVANIA IS COMPLETED.

A little more than a line in the sand.

1809:  IN TENNESSEE, EXPLORER MERIWETHER LEWIS DIES UNDER MYSTERIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES.

A 19th Century cry for the folks at CSI.

1811:  INVENTOR JOHN STEVENS' BOAT, THE JULIANA, BEGINS OPERATION AS THE FIRST STEAM-POWERED FERRY SERVICE BETWEEN NEW YORK CITY AND HOBOKEN, NEW JERSEY.

And ferries still sail the war all across the US>

1865:  PAUL BOGLE LED HUNDREDS OF BLACK MEN AND WOMEN IN A MARCH IN JAMAICA.

Just to be clear, not Queens?

1884:  ELEANOR ROOSEVELT IS BORN.

My grandmother used to say she lived in a suitcase.

1890:  IN WASHINGTON DC, THE DAUGHTERS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION IS FOUNDED.

If they are true daughters of the American Revolution, damn, they must be old.

1899:  THE WESTERN LEAGUE IS RENAMED THE AMERICAN LEAGUE.

Which would be confusing when we got the American League West.

1906:  SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC SCHOOL BOARD SPARKS A DIPLOMATIC CRISIS BETWEEN THE US AND JAPAN BY ORDERED JAPANESE STUDENTS TO BE TAUGHT IN RACIALLY SEGREGATED SCHOOLS.

Would anybody be bitching about this in 1941?

1910:  FORMER PRESIDENT TEDDY ROOSEVELT BECOMES THE FIRST US PRESIDENT TO FLY IN AN AIRPLANE.  HE DOES SO FOR FOUR MINUTES.

So no time for getting any food for purchase.

1946:  SINGER DARYL HALL IS BORN.

Private eyes, we're watching you.

1950:  CBS'S MECHANICAL COLOR TELEVISION IS THE FIRST TO BE LICENSED FOR BROADCAST BY THE FCC.

Okay, so how come all the first color TV shows were on NBC??

1954:  FIRST INDOCHINA WAR - THE VIET MINH TAKE CONTROL OF NORTH VIETNAM.

Yeah, this crap will be with us for a while.

1961:  COMIC CHICO MARX DIES.

Not Aleppo.

1962:  POPE JOHN XXIII CONVENES THE FIRST ECUMENICAL COUNCIL OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH IN 92 YEARS.

What took them so long?

1968:  NASA LAUNCHES APOLLO 7, THE FIRST SUCCESSFUL MANNED APOLLO MISSION, WITH ASTRONAUTS WALLY SCHIRRA, DONN F. EISELE, AND WALTER CUNNINGHAM ABOARD.

Those were the moon practice Apollos.

1975:  SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE DEBUTS.

And this turns into a civil service job for Lorne Michaels.

1976:  GEORGE WASHINGTON'S APPOINTMENT, POSTHUMOUSLY, TO THE GRADE OF GENERAL IS APPROVED BY PRESIDENT FORD.

And you thought Pope John XXIII was slow.

1984:  ABOARD THE SPACE SHUTTLE CHALLENGER, ASTRONAUT KATHRYN D. SULLIVAN BECOMES THE FIRST AMERICAN WOMAN TO PERFORM A SPACE WALK.

Without stopping into a mall on the way.

1986:  US PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN AND SOVIET LEADER MIKHAIL GORBACHEV MEET IN ICELAND IN AN EFFORT TO CONTINUE DISCUSSIONS ABOUT SCALING BACK THEIR MISSILE ARSENALS IN EUROPE.

A President talking to a Russian?   Seriously??

1987:  FIRST PUBLIC DISPLAY OF THE AIDS MEMORIAL QUILT ON THE NATIONAL MALL IN WASHINGTON, DC.

In the early days of that horrible disease.

1991:  COMIC REDD FOXX DIES.

Dropped dead while rehearsing a new sitcom.   

2007:  SINGER WERNER VON TRAPP DIES.

Not one of his favorite things.

2008:  COMPOSER NEAL HEFTI DIES.

Dah dah dah dah dah dah Batman!

Dinner last night:   Had a big lunch so just a leftover chicken drumstick.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Baseball Like It Shouldn't Be

There is nothing more exciting than October playoff baseball.   And the best way to watch it is with a ticket to a stadium.  Luckily, that includes me. Because the rest of you are relegated to watching it on television with what is now perhaps the worst coverage ever.

It used to be so much better but, then again, you can say that about mostly anything.  In the olden days, you didn't have to look far to far the baseball playoffs on television.  NBC and ABC alternated year to year with one covering the early rounds and the other doing the World Series.  Easy peasy and you could rely on having the likes of Al Michaels, Vin Scully, or Tim McCarver behind the mike.  Of course, NBC and ABC can't be bothered any more, thinking that they don't want to disrupt their viewers' expectations of seeing the next episode of "Superstore" or "Black-ish."

As a result, all the rounds of the playoffs got carved up among a bunch of networks.  This year, you can find baseball on Fox, Fox Sports 1, ESPN 1, ESPN 2, TBS, TNT, the MLB Network, and probably even the Cartoon Network.  As a result, you can never find the game you want unless you do an hour-long scroll through your on-screen program guide.

Once you arrive at your designated channel, you are greeted by either a pre or post game show with expired baseball stars who stopped making any sense when they stopped making their millions.  Plus the in-game announcing squads are clearly on top of some teams and woefully behind, information-wise, on other teams.  For me, only Fox' Joe Davis (from the Dodgers) and TBS' Ron Darling are stand outs.   The rest totally forgot to do their homework.   

Yep, the networks are mostly all bad.   But not equally so.  Because, as long as TBS continues to touch postseason baseball every October, they will always be the hands down winner for worst coverage all around.     

Hmm.  Where do I start?   How about the in-studio reporting which prominently features former pitcher Pedro Martinez, who has such language deficiencies that you fondly remember the late Bill Dana's old "Jose Jimenez" routine.  Trying to figure out what Pedro is saying is akin to listening to Charo read the Book of Psalms.

During the game, TBS has inexplicably reduced the now-important scoreboard bug into mosquito size so you literally have to squint to see how many outs there are.   After watching TBS for two innings, I literally had to drop some Murine into my eyes.

Now if I could only find something to fix what was going into my ears.  As a Dodger fan, I could not believe the number of informational points the TBS clowns got wrong.  Of course, they also sport among their announcers the now-requisite female voice whose commentary was so insipid that she may have wandered in from a Beverly Hills 90210 rerun.

Trust me.  TBS should be nowhere near a baseball playoff game ever again.  Instead, the network should stick to doing what they do best...running endless reruns of "Friends" on a loop.

Paging Lindsey Nelson....

Dinner last night:  Leftover chicken with prunes and olives.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Monday Morning Video Laugh - October 9, 2017

The general public?   Complete morons.   Somebody take a stick and kill this one.

Dinner last night:  Chicken with prunes and olives.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Meeting an Actor You Really Enjoy

Hollywood can be such fun. You never know when you're going to be in close proximity to an actor you have really enjoyed.

Lucky me.   That happened a couple of weeks ago when a theater here had an anniversary screening of "Two for the Road" starring Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney which is 50 years old this year.  Now the movie itself, at least for me, is pretty dreary.  And, of course, a question-and-answer with the stars after the film is out of the question since Audrey and Albert have both gone to that soundstage in the sky.   But there are supporting players still around who can attend such a screening.   And that's what caught my attention.

William Daniels, all of 92 and still looking fit as a fiddle, is one of them.   That got my attention.   Of course, I had completely forgotten that a small role in the film is essayed by Jacqueline Bisset and I got to actually meet her when she was fumbling around the parking meter kiosk.  They're both pictured above at the post-film dialogue.

But Daniels was my main draw and primarily because he played one of the most interesting characters ever on television in a legendary show that ranks at #4 on my Top 25 List of Favorite TV Shows.

What merriment.

Okay, if you watched NBC during the 80s, you would think they invented quality TV shows. Forget that CBS, in the early 70s, offered perhaps the best ever evening of programming every Saturday night. Nope, NBC was the alleged trailblazer, despite the fact that they had also unleashed such visual trash cans as "Hello, Larry," "Supertrain," and "BJ and the Bear" onto the unsuspected public.

NBC parlayed a couple of really well done shows into a huge marketing campaign. "Must See TV." If you weren't watching, you were marked as a heathen, a leper, and perhaps something far worse. You had to pay attention if, for nothing else, you wanted to hold your own at the office coffee wagon the following morning.

Now, I was not a complete buyer when it came to "Must See TV" on NBC. I enjoyed "Cheers"... when I caught up to it, which was not regularly. I liked "Family Ties" ... during its first two seasons before they turned every single character into a joke-wielding punching bag. I never got into "The Cosby Show." Or "Hill Street Blues" and "LA Law" which happened to air against another program which will turn up on my list very, very soon. Essentially, I was not the ideal invite for dinner at then NBC President Brandon Tartikoff's house.

Except for "St. Elsewhere." That was must-see television for me. Must-see, must-relish, must-watch-over-and-over-and-over.

Eons before "ER" hit primetime, "St. Elsewhere" became the quintessential medical drama. It had never been done before and will probably never be done like this again. Forget about "Gray's Anatomy." For a hospital show, "St. Elsewhere" placed the bar so high that even the youngest of the Chinese Olympic gymnasts could surmount it.

"St. Elsewhere" was about life. Its ups, its downs, its laughter, its tears. In any given episode, you would have some of all of the above. With a tone and a cache of regular characters and actors that was pitch perfect. And, just as in real life, everyone was just a little bit flawed. Or a lot flawed. But, who really isn't?

"St. Elsewhere" tackled a lot of issues long before anybody else on TV tried. AIDS, Epstein-Barre, autism, health insurance, senior citizen neglect. I learned first about all of them on "St. Elsewhere." And they did it in such a fashion that was not hit-you-over-the-head-with-our-message. You got the point and frequently both sides of an argument. It was way too smart for most folks' living rooms, but this was pure entertainment that was educational.

And funny.

The humor on "St. Elsewhere" was perhaps the most clever in TV history. Because the producers were not afraid of making inside jokes. Gags that might have gone over the heads of three-quarters of the audience. But, the other 25 percent were rolling on the floor.


There was one episode which made one reference after another to MTM Enterprises, which produced the show. Biting the hand that fed them, the writers concocted one male character in the psyche ward who actually thought he was Mary Richards from the "Mary Tyler Moore" show. Of course, right alongside him in the padded room was one Elliot Carlin, the lovable loser and former patient of Dr. Bob Hartley from the "Bob Newhart Show." When "Mary" is walking down the hospital corridor wearing the famed beret that MTM threw in the air during the opening credits, he runs into Betty White who has a guest shot as a visiting White House doctor. "Mary" naturally mistakes White's character for Happy Homemaker Sue Ann Nivens which she played previously on the MTM show. This is sheer brilliance. One of the true Gospels of TV writing.

No discussion of "St. Elsewhere" is complete without citing two of the actors, one a regular and another a recurring character for just one season. But, both were absolutely spot-on portrayals of people who would be the most memorable roles in TV history.  And I've already clued you in to one of them.

William Daniels as bombastic and arrogant surgeon Dr. Mark Craig is probably one of the greatest acting jobs on any TV series. Craig could be one of the nastiest, most racist, and politically incorrect people around. But, even with those extremes, Daniels colored enough of his acting choices to make this a truly likeable character. You waited with bated breath every week for his first appearance and/or tirade. 


Talking to an Indian assisting his surgery, "I'm still wondering where you were when Gandhi was shot." 

To a new woman doctor who is disputing his diagnosis on a patient, "Oh, why don't you go home and do the wash?" 

To a Black orderly, "You people need to get your heads away from the boom boxes and start to do some work in this country." 

To an Asian female surgeon, "I'll bounce you out of here so fast your kimono will spin." 

Yet, you loved the guy. Daniels won a passel of Emmys for his work here and he still didn't win enough as far as I was concerned.

Grizzled actress Florence Halop kicked around Hollywood for years. I think she was a sister to one of the Dead End Kids. But, nothing she did previously (or for the year or so she lived after her one season) would top her performance as the ultra-cranky patient Mrs. Hufnagel. In a storyline that ran for one year only, Mrs. Hufnagel was used by the writers as a means to show how the medical system tends to neglect and misdiagnose senior citizens. Because she is prickly and gnarly, it's easy for the doctors to dismiss her. She keeps getting admitted and re-admitted to the hospital because nobody wants to deal with her. 


Each week, she manages to piss off one of the characters until even the head of the hospital, Dr. Westphall as played by Ed Flanders, doesn't want to deal with her. She ultimately dies as a result of a poorly done surgery, but the previous season-long journey offers Halop with a wonderful legacy and end to her long career as a character actress. She is crabby, disrespectful, funny, racist, and touching all at once. Florence Halop didn't even get a sniff of an Emmy that year and she should have.

"St. Elsewhere" lasted six seasons but really only caught on with the smart people in the TV audience. Nevertheless, its very existence is pure validation that truly brilliant television can be created. 

And while we're thinking about "the end," much has been made of "St. Elsewhere's" rather bizarre closing episode. Indeed, they fashioned the entire season as being the illusions of Westphall's young autistic son. Was it a little too over the top? Perhaps.


But my real issue is not how "St. Elsewhere" ended. It's that it ended at all. A loss for all of us. Just like in real life every single day.  Oddly, you can't really find "St. Elsewhere" at the moment on any of the usual streaming suspects. That's a crime and needs to be rectified ASAP.

All of this came tumbling back to me at this "Two for the Road" screening.  Afterwards, Daniels was signing copies of his recently published memoirs in the lobby and I promptly was on line with my copy.   I got to talk to him a bit about Dr, Mark Craig and how amazing his work was as this character.  Indeed, the scenes with his on-screen wife Ellen, conveniently played by his off-screen wife Bonnie Bartlett, had the most amazing banter.   This I also shared with him and then also imparted the same remarks to Bonnie who was standing by herself over near the candy counter.  

It's terrific when several memories of your life come colliding in one single evening.

Dinner last night:  Chicken and waffles at the Dodger NLDS game.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Classic TV Commercial of the Month - October 2017

Baseball in October.  Nothing better.  Here's a classic baseball ad but somebody explain to me why this kid is wearing a NY Giants hat.

Dinner last night:  Pastrami double dip sandwich at Philippe's.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Head Jobs of October 2017

Man or Woman, I Can't Decide Head.
 Round Head.
 All Neck Head
 Two Moustache Head.
 What is That Head.
 Flour Head
Needs a Punch in the Head Head.
 Two Nose Head.
 Cheap Glasses Head.
Nobody Looks at My Head Head.
Badly In Need of a Makeover Head.
This is Not Beyonce's Head.

Dinner last night:  Hamburger