Category Archives: Television

Press Your Luck—the good and bad

Late Thursday night when I was searching for something to watch on Hulu, I discovered a game show which originally aired during my formative years had been revived.

Press Your Luck aired for three years (19 September 1983-26 September 1986) on CBS alongside two highly-rated game shows, The $25,000 Pyramid and The Price Is Right, the latter of which begins its 48th season on CBS in September.

The premise of Press Your Luck was pretty simple. Players took spins on a computerized game board with 18 squares. They could accumulate cash or prizes with each spin, but if they hit a “Whammy”, they would lose all they had accumulated to that point. Four whammies eliminated a contestant.

To earn spins, players had to know the answers to questions asked by the host, Peter Tomarken; if a player buzzed in and gave the correct answer, he/she earned three spins, while a player who guessed the correct answer out of a list of three received one spin.

There was some strategy involved. A player could pass his or her spins at any time. Those spins would go to the player with the highest amount of winnings at that point, unless the other two contestants were tied, then the player passing the spins could choose whom to pass to. The player receiving the passed spins had to take all of the spins passed to him or her, unless he or she hit a whammy. At that point, the passed spins would transfer to the earned column (spins won by answering questions correctly and hitting spaces on the board which included an extra spin).

The winner of the game was the only player to keep his or her earnings. He or she would come back until (a) he or she won three consecutive games, at which point that contestant retired undefeated or (b) the player went over CBS’ earnings limit, which was $25,000 when PYL premiered; it was later raised to $50,000 and then $75,000. There is no cap on winnings now; if there was, Drew Carey couldn’t offer Maseratis and other ridiculously expensive cars on TPIR during Dream Car Week, nor insane amounts of cash during Big Cash Week.

A bum from Ohio named Michael Larson cheated his ass off in 1984 to win $110,237 in cash and prizes. The unemployed jerk spent his days watching tapes of PYL in order to memorize the pattern of the lights on the board. He figured it out and kept avoiding whammies so much (a) the game was aired over two shows; as luck would have it, the first half aired on a Friday, meaning you had to wait out the weekend to see the second half, and (b) Tomarken and the other players were frozen like zombies while Larson performed his robbery of CBS.

Tomarken and CBS executives were dumbfounded. One producer did not want to give Larson his winnings, thinking he cheated; but in the end, Larson got his loot, after Uncle Sam got his cut, of course. Larson went broke and died in 1994. Too freaking bad.

Game Show Network, now shortened to GSN, began airing PYL reruns in the late 1990s. In 2002, it created a semi-revival of the show called Whammy: The All New Press Your Luck.

I did not like that revival. Too many inane prizes that nobody cared about, not to mention the infamous “double whammies”, which not only took the player’s winnings, but dumped something upon him or her (water, golf balls, feathers, etc.).

Early this year, ABC and Fremantle Media announced Press Your Luck would be coming back in its original format. Sadly, Tomarken could not have hosted the revival had ABC wanted him to, because Peter and his wife died in a 2006 plane crash off the coast of California. The Tomarkens were delivering organs for transplant when they went down in the Pacific.

Less than three months after Tomarken’s death, CBS played PYL as part of its Game Show Marathon, a one-off series of classic games which also included TPIR, Match Game, Family Feud and Card Sharks. Rikki Lake hosted, while Leslie Nielsen, Tim Meadows and Kathy Najimy played for charity, with Najimy winning. Nielsen, unfortunately, hit four whammies.

Elizabeth Banks, the fabulously talented and fabulously beautiful actress, was chosen to host ABC’s PYL. Great choice.

The only knock I have on Elizabeth is she needs to stop wearing so much black. In three of the first four episodes, her wardrobe was black. However, in the third, she wore a green dress which exposed her arms, shoulders and lower legs. WOW!

The game play is faithful to the original, with one notable addition.

There is now a bonus game. The lack of a bonus game in the 1980s differentiated PYL from most game shows on the air in the mid-1980s.

The player who wins the most cash and prizes over two rounds in the main game keeps what he or she has accumulated to that point, then goes to the bonus game. The players go to the board and attempt to build their bank.

  • There are anywhere from one to six rounds in the bonus game, with each round having a set number of spins. A player must take all spins in a given round, plus any spins he or she might earn from hitting a space on the board which gives the player an extra spin.
  • Once the round ends, Elizabeth asks the player whether he or she wants to go on or stop and keep what is in the bank. Once a player commits to another round, there is no turning back; he or she must get his or her spin total to zero. Dollar amounts increase in each round, with some spaces worth $100,000 in the sixth round.
  • As an added sweetener, players have three “dream prizes” available to win on the board. Those prizes are selected by the players and range from the practical (a new car) to the strange (a week traveling on Michael Bolton’s tour bus and having VIP seats to all of his concerts) to the out of this world (pizza for life). There are other prizes out there which are not customized, like cars and vacations.
  • The best thing about PYL, both then and now, are the whammy animations. Some animations from the original series have been updated with new graphics, while ABC has added some fresh ones. To show PYL has kept up, in the original show, animations included The Supremes and The Beatles; the new show has the whammies imitating the Backstreet Boys.
  • I would love to see some celebrities play PYL for charity. Like have two shows with The Brady Bunch kids. Or fellow game show hosts.
  • Another revival taking me back to my childhood. And this one is pretty good.
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    Speaking of pressing your luck, I did it yesterday and lost big time

    I got caught in two massive traffic jams caused by construction on the eastern side of Interstate 435 in Kansas City. It took 30 minutes to travel from Missouri Highway 350 to Highway 210 due to construction at the junction of I-435 and I-70 near Arrowhead and Kaufman Stadiums, and on the bridge over the Missouri River just south of Highway 210.

    Of course, some idiots wait until the last possible second until merging, thinking getting a few cars ahead will save them time.

    IT WON’T. If anything, it’s dangerous, because it’s more likely to cause an accident.

    Yesterday was terrible, at least after my laser hair removal treatment. Let’s see:

    • I was stupid enough to attempt to handle dry ice without gloves at a grocery store in Prairie Village. My left thumb and right ring finger stung for a few minutes. I’m having other problems with my right ring finger, and it may come to an operation.
    • Larry couldn’t show up at Buffalo Wild Wings because a contracter working on a house next door parked a large truck in his yard, damaging his lawn.
    • Tina didn’t show up to work at Buffalo Wild Wings. Between her absence and Larry’s, I was lonely as hell.
    • The Women’s World Cup match. Megan Rapinoe, everyone’s favorite anarchist, scored twice as the not okay USA won 2-1 over France.
    • Bill, the human chimney who plays trivia every Wednesday and Friday without fail at this Buffalo Wild Wings, showed up at 1630, prompting my exit. Maybe it was for the best; I was exhausted from getting up at 0445.
    • I thought I had lost a cable at Buffalo Wild Wings. The search for a Pilot travel center, where I bought the cable last month, took me straight into the massive traffic jams on I-435, because I was in Kansas picking up things I ordered from Amazon.

    Add in the stifling heat, which is as bad as I remember it from Louisiana, and it hasn’t been good. With everyone I know at Buffalo Wild Wings not scheduled to work tomorrow, I might be in search of a new trivia locale tomorrow–should I want to play. The thought of coming into a place with foreign faces is not appealing.

    I want to cry. I don’t know why.

    AC and OJ, partners in crime

    I did not blog Monday for a good reason. I didn’t yesterday, either, but I didn’t have a good reason.

    If you didn’t know, Monday was the 25th anniversary of Al Cowlings aiding and abetting a fugitive wanted for two homicides.

    The fugitive, of course, was Orenthal James Simpson, charged with first degree murder in the deaths of Nicole Brown (I never use Simpson after her name) and Ronald Goldman.

    I knew Orenthal was absolutely 100 percent GUILTY before the chase. He was evasive with the LAPD upon returning from Chicago.

    I would never encourage anyone to take their own life. However, the world would have been a better place had Orenthal pulled the trigger in Cowlings’ Ford Bronco. It would have saved us from seeing Johnnie Cochran make a mockery of the criminal justice system, Lance Ito bumbling like an idiot, Marcia Clark shooting herself in the foot more than any human should be allowed to, and most of all, allowing 12 less than stellar citizens let Orenthal get away with it.

    I also believe Cowlings played a much larger role in the murders than anyone will ever know. I would not be one bit surprised if he was with his buddy Orenthal when Nicole and Ronald were nearly decapitated in the late hours of 12 June 1994.

    Orenthal can’t be tried again for the crimes. Why doesn’t the MF just admit it?

    That’s it. I don’t want to discuss that vile piece of feces anymore.

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    Third consecutive night of trivia at The Golden Q. Some of the lovely ladies finally know my name. But I have to be careful not to cross a line, something I think about a lot with a certain establishment in Kansas City.

    Seeing so many men in here with either beards, tattoos or hats (some have all three), I bet some think I’ve been plopped down from Luxembourg.

    I’m not growing a beard. I don’t like wearing hats. And I certainly don’t want to ruin my skin with stupid tattoos like my father did when he was in the U.S. Navy in the early 1960s.

    My dad has said the tattoos are among the biggest regrets of his life. That, smoking (thank God he quit in September 1985, or I’m convinced he would not have made it to 2000) and not at least going to junior college. But had he gone to junior college and waited to enroll in the Navy, he might have found himself in Vietnam.

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    I had little sleep this morning. Very little. Still binging on The Brady Bunch–now I’m back to the beginning. It took all of 11 days (I’m not counting the two days I was in Kansas City, because the DVDs stayed behind) to watch 117 episodes, some more than once.

    Amazon Prime and Hulu have many episodes of The Brady Bunch, but a lot are missing. The DVD set was worth it, though, because it includes The Brady Kids cartoons, The Brady Brides, A Very Brady Christmas, The Bradys (the spectacular failure from early 1990 where the Brady kids are all grown up), the two theatrical movies (The Brady Bunch Movie and A Very Brady Sequel), a TV movie about the Bradys in the White House, and a movie based upon Barry Williams’ book Growing Up Brady: I Was a Teenage Greg.

    The only thing missing is The Brady Bunch Hour, the variety show which aired when I was an infant. Paramount doesn’t own the rights to that, and the five living members of the cast who participated (Eve Plumb opted out) probably don’t want it out there anyway.

    In past summers, I watched The OC from start to finish. It got to the point where I would know line for line what Sandy, Kirsten, Ryan, Seth, Marissa, Summer and all the others would say at a particular point of a particular episode.

    Coincidentally, Seth Cohen himself, Adam Brody, plays Greg Brady in the movie on Williams’ book. Marcia is portrayed by none other than Kaley Cuoco. Nobody could have dreamed she would become television’s richest actress one day.

    Kaley is beautiful, but I’m partial to Mayim Bialik, the same way I’m partial to Eve over Maureen and Jan Smithers (Bailey) over Loni Anderson (Jennifer) on WKRP in Cincinnati.

    Don’t know if I’ll re-watch The OC this year. But I would give anything to see Kelly Rowan and Mischa Barton back on TV. At least Autumn Reeser is constantly in Hallmark Channel movies.

    I also need to watch all of One Tree Hill. Sophia Bush may be the biggest name from that show now, but Brooke Davis would be sixth on my list of desirable ladies. For me, it’s Peyton (Hilarie Burton), Haley (Bethany Joy Lenz), Quinn (Shantel Van Santen), Erica Marsh (Katherine Bailess), Shelly (Elisabeth Harnois), then Brooke.

    Sophia was great on Chicago PD, but I’m more keen on Maria Squerciati and Tracy Spiradakos.

    I can watch Monk on the road because Amazon Prime has all eight seasons. There, I’m Team Natalie, although I have warmed to Sharona more than I did when I first watched the show.

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    My iPad is down to 3% battery. This is intentional. Apple suggests draining the battery to zero once a month to improve its life. My rapid charger will have it back to 100% in less than three hours when I get home, so I’m not worried. Besides, I need to sleep, not fooling around on it. I will start draining my phone tonight.

    Until next time…

    Listen up!

    Click the link for my first audio blog post!

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    Red Sox wins; Cardinals seeing red

    The Red Sox did what I thought they would last night. They closed out the Astros in Houston and clinched their fourth American League pennant this millennium. Boston now awaits the Dodgers or Brewers in the World Series.

    MLB executives, especially commissioner Rob Manfred, have to be having multiple orgasms over the probable Dodgers-Red Sox World Series. They were loathing a potential Brewers-Indians or Brewers-Athletics World Series when the postseason began. Now, they have one of their three most desirable matchups (Dodgers-Yankees and Cubs-Yankees were the others).

    The Red Sox and Dodgers have played only once in the World Series–way, way, WAY back in 1916. That’s before the Curse of the Babe. Ruth was a 21-year old hotshot left-handed pitcher for that year’s Red Sox, and Boston easily won the series in five games.

    Two interesting things about the 1916 World Series.

    First, the first two games were in Boston, the next two in Brooklyn, then it was back to Boston for the clincher, not the 2-3-2 we are used to seeing. The format was presumably 2-2-1-1-1, the same as the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals.

    Second, the Red Sox opted to play their home games at Braves Field, home of the future artists known as the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves. The Sox moved their games out of Fenway to shoehorn more fans into Braves Field, which opened in 1915. In 1914, when the Braves swept the Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series, the National League team played their home games at Fenway due to the decrepit condition of their rickety old stadium, the South End Grounds.

    I am very pessimistic about the Brewers tonight. Hopefully there’s a game tomorrow. But I have my doubts.

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    Speaking of decrepit, that would accurately describe the Arizona Cardinals. They were demolished 45-10 by the Broncos last night in Glendale, and frankly, it should have been worse.

    Denver led 35-3 at halftime, and State Farm (nee University of Phoenix) Stadium sounded more like Mile High or whatever it’s called these days. It was a throwback to the days the Cardinals played in front of tons of aluminum and a few fans (mostly visiting team, especially when the Cowboys were there) at Sun Devil Stadium on the other side of the Phoenix metro.

    I knew the Cardinals were seriously screwed when they hired Steve Wilks. Wilks has no business being a head football coach at any level, especially the highest level of football.

    This buffoon was a head coach just once before moving to Arizona, and that was in 1998 at mighty Savannah State, a perennial punching bag for Power Five teams willing to exchange a few hundred thousand dollars for the right to win by 70 to 80 points. When Wilks coached there, Savannah State was Division II. And the team went 5-6 under Wilks’ leadership.

    Wilks’ professional playing experience consisted of one year in Arena Football with the Charlotte Rage. Are you kidding me?

    Ron Rivera, who was Wilks’ boss in Carolina before the latter was hired by the Cardinals, conned Michael Bidwill and Steve Keim good. Then again, Steve Keim is a known drunk, so it wasn’t hard to pull the wool over his eyes.

    If the Cardinals wanted an African-American coach, why not hire Herm Edwards? He got a job in the Phoenix area not long after Wilks when Arizona State hired him to succeed turd Todd Graham. Edwards’ failure with the Chiefs was not all his own doing; he had a lot of help from terrible drafting, free agent signings and trading by Carl Peterson, who clearly was awful without a strong personality as a head coach like Jim Mora with the USFL’s Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars and Marty Schottenheimer in Kansas City.

    Josh Rosen threw not one, but TWO pick-sixes in the first quarter. Geez, the Cardinals could have brought back Ryan Lindley, John Skelton, Max Hall, Kevin Kolb or Stan Gelbaugh to do that instead of wasting the tenth overall pick in the 2018 draft.

    Then again, Rosen has zero protection. The Cardinals have had a woeful offensive line for their entire stay in the desert. In my opinion, it has been really, really bad since the glory days of Dan Dierdorf, Conrad Dobler, Tom Banks and Tom Brahaney in the 1970s, when Don Coryell led St. Louis to NFC East titles in 1974 and ’75.

    Arizona’s defense is Chandler Jones, Patrick Peterson and a whole lot of crap. Peterson and Jones deserve better than this. They are true professionals and would be All-Pros if they played on a halfway decent defense.

    Larry Fitzgerald, WHY did you come back for this? Your professionalism and dedication to the Cardinals is admirable. But you could have easily rode off in to the sunset. All you’re doing is pushing back your Hall of Fame induction.

    Wilks is by far the worst Cardinals coach I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. And I can remember all the way back to Jim Hanifan (1980-85). Dave McGinnis was mocked and went 17-44 in three and a half seasons, but his teams never looked as absolutely awful as the Cardinals have under Wilks. Buddy Ryan was pretty bad, but at least the defense was fierce in 1994. Too bad he hated offensive players and had no clue what to do at quarterback.

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    Starting next year, Wimbledon is implementing the tiebreak in the final set when the score reaches 6-6.

    I will only watch tennis if someone pays me a ton of cash, and that hasn’t happened. And I will NEVER watch Serena Williams. But I think this is dead wrong.

    I understand why the All-England Club is doing this. They want to avoid marathon last sets like the one between John Isner and Nicholas Mahut in 2010 in a match that took 11 hours and three different days to complete, with Isner winning the fifth set 70-68.

    I totally disagree with doing this in what is supposed to be tennis’ signature event. This is a grand slam event, the most prestigious championship on earth. It should be EARNED. And if it takes 138 games in the final set to do so, so be it.

    If Wimbledon wants to implement the tiebreak in the final set, it should not be at 6-6. It should be at minimum after 8-8, maybe 10-10 or 12-12. And that rule should be in all five sets for men or three for women.

    The Australian and French Opens, the other grand slams, have not announced they will. implement a tiebreak in the final set. However, I’m certain they will be under enormous pressure to do so now that the U.S. Open and Wimbledon have them.

    Using a tiebreak in the final set at Wimbledon is the same as The Masters using a sudden death playoff if there is a tie for the low score after 72 holes.

    The Masters bills itself as the premier event in golf, although I will always believe it is The Open Championship. If The Masters is so high and mighty, why not make those tied play a fifth round? If it’s television they’re worried about, there are enough cable channels which would salivate at the chance to televise a round from Augusta for 18 holes. Besides, The Masters rarely allows full 18-hole coverage anyway, so how hard would it be to cut in for the last nine? Also, I’m sure CBS could pre-empt The Price Is Right, The Young and the Restless, and The Bold and the Beautiful for one day.

    The U.S. Open was the last golf major to require a full 18-hole playoff if there was a tie after 72 holes. Last year, that ended and it became a two-hole playoff, which wasn’t necessary when Brooks Koepka won it outright. That’s even worse than The Open (four holes) and PGA Championship (three holes). All majors should be the full 18-hole playoff. Sudden death is just fine for a regular tournament in late October, mid-January or early August. But not for the majors.

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    I’m guessing ESPN is going to try to force the officials to speed up the Mississippi State-LSU game in Baton Rouge tomorrow night. That’s because the network is scheduled to show the Rockets-Lakers game from Los Angeles at 2130 CT (1930 PT), which will be LeBron’s first regular season game at Staples Center. It would probably anger the suits in Bristol, as well as two of America’s four largest metropolitan areas, if a trivial football game in the Southeastern Conference goes overtime.

    LSU and Mississippi State are not teams which throw the ball on every down. I hope 3 1/2 hours is enough time to get the game in, because college football games drag on and on and on! I remember non-televised games when I was attending LSU could last as short as 2 1/2 hours. But every game in the SEC is now televised, so that’s not happening. Not unless the NCAA wants to return to the terrible idea of starting the clock after the ball is spotted on a change of possession, an experiment which failed miserably in 2006. Not stopping the clock after a first down would be a good start. Maybe that rule could be limited to the final two minutes of the first half and final five of the second, much the way the out-of-bounds timing rules change in the NFL in those periods.

    CBS is notorious for forcing the games in the late window (1525 CT on doubleheader days; 1505 on non-doubleheader games) to speed up in order that 60 Minutes starts on time, either 1800 or 1830 CT. Fox doesn’t care, because it never airs new episodes of The Simpsons (JUST END IT ALREADY!) on Sunday nights before 1900 CT.  Actually, Fox prefers longer games in the late window when it has the doubleheader, so it can switch to bonus coverage, then Terry, Howie, Michael and Jimmy can drone on and on until 1900.

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I have a runny nose this morning. Using lots of tissues. Need to stop by the store before I leave Kansas City.

    Just saw I was close to 1700 words. Time to end it.

    Four days in a TV wasteland

    I’ve got some opinions on a sport I don’t give a crap about anymore. I don’t have time to go over them right now, since I have to be up before 0630 tomorrow for the first Premier League match of the day, Wolves vs. Manchester City at Molineux. I don’t expect City to have much trouble.

    Liverpool plays the night game (1730 British Summer Time, or 1130 Central) at home vs. Brighton, which is sky high after defeating Manchester United last Sunday. .The Reds figure to hold serve at home and stay atop the table.

    Bournemouth tries to keep it going, too, hosting Everton on the south coast. The other south coast match has Southampton hosting Leicester. There easily could be two draws. I’ll have to watch those matches on NBC Sports Gold, since the 0900 CDT (1500 BST) match is Arsenal vs. West Ham at the Emirates. The Gunners should get off the goose egg and keep the Hammers in the mire of the relegation zone.

    I’ve been watching too much Netflix, especially Insatiable, where Debby Ryan (formerly of Disney Channel’s Jessie) goes from bullied overweight girl to beauty queen under the direction of lawyer/coach Bob Armstrong, portrayed by Dallas Roberts, who played two murderers on Law & Order: SVU, as well has had a recurring role on The Good Wife. Alyssa Milano plays Bob’s wife, Coralee, while Christopher Gorham (Covert Affairs) plays Bob Barnard, Bob Armstrong’s archrival.

    There are a few movies starring Ryan I need to catch up on. She’s fantastic.

    Atypical, the Netflix series where Jennifer Jason Leigh stars as the mother of an autistic son played by Keir Gilchrist, will roll out the second season two weeks from tonight.

    We’re one week away from baseball armageddon, Orioles at Royals. The O’s lost their 91st game tonight, and KC needs to rally or else it will fall to 38-91. Since it’s a weekend series, the Royals are still seeing fit to charge outrageous prices for tickets. Wow.

    Seriously, I need to sleep. Gotta watch my Premier League.

    Tiger won! Not really, but some would have you believe otherwise

    Did Brooks Koepka win the PGA Championship? I couldn’t tell. By the homepage of ESPN.com, CBSSports.com, and many newspapers, Tiger Woods won, even though the scoreboard I checked showed Woods two shots behind Koepka.

    The drooling love affair with Eldrick Woods has gone on since the weekend of April 10-13, 1997, when he won The Masters, the first of his 14 major championships. When Tiger was forced off the course by injury following the 2008 U.S. Open, and again by various injuries earlier this decade, fans on message boards bitched and moaned and said they would not watch golf until Tiger was playing again.

    It’s not as if golf is going to die without Eldrick Woods. Koepka has won three of the last six majors. Jordan Spieth is only a PGA away from the career grand slam, and Rory McIlroy will wrap it up if he wins The Masters. Dustin Johnson is the top ranked player in the world, with Justin Thomas a close second. Phil Mickelson is still chasing the career slam, needing the U.S. Open.

    There are a lot more marketable players out there today than there were 50 years ago, when it was Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and a whole lot of good but not great players who really didn’t move the needle. Lee Trevino took Palmer’s place among the big names in the late 1960s, and once Player and Nicklaus passed their prime, it was wide open, even though nobody had the star power that the Golden Bear and Arnie had.

    People were scalping tickets for as much as $2,000 in St. Louis for Sunday’s final round at the PGA. That’s enough to buy season tickets for the Cardinals or Blues. Kopeka and Adam Scott were the final pairing, and both played with far smaller galleries than what Woods and Gary Woodland did.

    Eldrick is part of a cadre of athletes American media drools over. The others are Serena Williams, LeBron and Tom Brady. Baseball doesn’t have a specific athlete, but the Red Sox and Yankees get all the headlines, with the Cubs getting them to a lesser extent. The NHL has not had that problem as much, although the national media couldn’t stop peeing in their pants about the Vega$ Golden Knight$.

    I don’t watch very much golf, simply because I’ve had enough of Mr. Woods. I don’t watch any tennis. Haven’t since the late 1980s. I’m sick of the Williams sisters on the women’s side, and the men’s side is the same people over and over and over: Federer, Nadal, Djokovic. The NFL holds little appeal these days, at least the AFC does. And don’t get me started on the NBA.

    In sports I actually watch, Liverpool flexed its muscles Sunday by thrashing West Ham 4-0 at Anfield. The Reds appear to be well-positioned to be Manchester City’s chief challenger for the Premier League championship. City opened with a 2-0 victory at Arsenal, ruining Unai Emery’s first match as manager of the Gunners. I didn’t watch the Liverpool match, simply because I knew West Ham had zero chance. I instead streamed Southampton-Burnley, which ended 0-0 at St. Mary’s.

    Now there are no Premier League matches until Saturday morning. I’m stuck between bad MLB and NFL exhibitions until then if I want to watch live sports. Of course, there’s the Little League World Series, which I absolutely refuse to watch because of the “mandatory play” rule.

    I’m now on to season three of The O.C. UGH. I hated season three, simply because there were so many characters whom I despised: Dean Hess, Charlotte Morgan, Taylor Townsend (the evil version; she makes a 180 in season four), Veronica Townsend (god I love Paula Trickey, but Veronica was downright mean, which shows Trickey is a tremendous actress), the scuzzy loan sharks who beat up Jimmy Cooper, Johnny Harper, Casey, Seung-Ho (the sexually obsessive boyfriend of the equally sexually obsessive Taylor) , the “Harbor  Heckler” (an unnamed character who is so cruel to Seth and Taylor that I want to climb through the screen and squeeze his testicles until they pop, then go Lorena Bobbitt on his penis) and of course, Kevin Volchok and all of the lowlife scum associated with him, particularly Heather, the evil bitch who does all she can to make Marissa’s life a living hell at Newport Union.

    Then again, I wish Volchok would have found the heckler and beat the living crap out of him. If it were possible to hate a character more than Volchok and Oliver Trask, the heckler was that character. He and Felix Tagarro from One Tree Hill always make me extremely nauseous.

    The only bright spot I could think of that season was Dawn Atwood (Daphne Ashbrook) putting her life back together. Josh Schwartz and the rest of The O.C.‘s production staff should have brought Dawn back in season four so she could rescue Ryan from his deep depression caused by Marissa’s murder.

    Not to say season three was 100 percent bad. Just saw the scene where Seth scratches his face with his middle finger, flipping off Taylor. Priceless.

    English football fever

    The third day of the 2018-19 Premier League campaign is only hours away.

    Liverpool hosts West Ham and Burnley visits Southampton at 0730 Central (1330 British Summer time), while Manchester City kicks off its title defense at Arsenal, which plays its first match under new manager Unai Emery. That fixture starts at 1000 Central (1600 BST).

    Very few surprises the first two days. The only draw was an exciting 2-2 fixture at Molineux between Wolverhampton, playing its first Premier League match in six years, and Everton, which had to play the final 50 minutes down a man after Phil Jagielka was shown a red card, the first of the new campaign.

    I didn’t wake up early enough to catch the Newcastle-Tottenham match. Spurs won 2-1. I watched the Huddersfield-Chelsea match until the Blues scored the first goal; at that point, I figured the Terriers were toast. Indeed, Chelsea rolled 3-0.

    I bought the NBC Sports Gold package so I can watch all the Premier League matches which are not televised. My first online match was Bournemouth hosting Cardiff City, with the Cherries winning 2-0 at home over the newly promoted Welsh side.

    The other 0900 Central matches were also 2-0. Crystal Palace won at London rival Fulham, spoiling the Cottagers’ return to the top flight after a four-year absence, while Watford, whom I pegged for relegation in my predictions, bested Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0 at Vicarage Road.

    Manchester United bested my Leicester City Foxes 2-1 at Old Trafford Friday evening (in Britain; late afternoon here in Kansas). The Foxes were done in by a very early handball (three minutes in) which gave the Red Devils a penalty kick that was converted by Paul Pogba, who played for France’s World Cup championship team earlier this summer. Jamie Vardy did put Leicester on the board in second half stoppage time, but it couldn’t prevent Leicester from falling to 2-7-16 all-time vs. United.

    I did two B-52 shots this evening. I don’t have anywhere to be tomorrow.

    There are only two “exhibition games” taking place tonight in the NFL, Minnesota at Denver and the Los Angeles Chargers at Arizona. Don’t ask me who’s winning. I don’t care. Remember, the 2008 Lions and 2017 Browns each went undefeated in exhibition games…and winless in games which counted.

    The epic showdown between the Orioles and Royals in Kansas City is on the horizon. Baltimore may already have 100 losses.

    I’m watching The O.C. all over again. Last Sunday marked the 15th anniversary of its premiere. Right now I’m finishing the episode where there was a rainstorm (“The Rainy Day Women”), where Seth (Adam Brody) gets hung up on the roof attempting to fix the satellite dish at the Cohen mansion; Summer (Rachel Bilson) comes looking for him and they kiss. It’s the final appearance of Lindsay Gardner (Shannon Lucio) and Rebecca Bloom (Kim Delaney), and the beginning of the end of the relationship between Marissa (Mischa Barton) and Alex (Olivia Wilde).

    The 15th anniversary of the debut of One Tree Hill is Sept. 23. I will probably have to go through that series all over again, but it will take a lot longer. I will need some valium, or at least four B-52 shots, to get through the episodes with that piece of fecal matter Felix.

    As Genesis sang in 1983, that’s all.

    Say no to network “news”

    Tonight, I realized just how much I dislike network news.

    After eating with my parents, my father turned on the NBC Nightly News. The first thing they showed were students from the high school in Florida where 17 people were killed by a gunamn last week, as well as students from other high schools across the state, marching to the state capitol in Tallahassee, demanding the state legislature adopt gun control laws.

    Throughout the piece, Savannh Guthrie, who was substituting as anchor for Lester Holt, was fawning all over the student protestors, implying that they were 100 percent right to demand gun control, and that those who were opposed to stricter gun control laws were dead wrong and supported mass murder.

    Are you kidding me?

    What ever happened to watching the news and making up our own minds? Savannah and her colleagues think the general public is too stupid to make up their own minds, and that you must believe their position, or else you are an uninformed idiot.

    I only had to watch five minutes to realize just how much I cannot stand it. It was five mintues more than I should have watched, and I will do all I can to never, ever watch NBC, CBS or ABC news as long as I live.

    I never watched NBC when I lived in Louisiana, nor did I watch it until my parents moved to Kansas 11 years ago. I was never a Tom Brokaw or Brian Williams fan, and I cannot stand Lester Holt, either. And don’t get me started about Savannah Guthrie. She is a confirmed marriage destroyer.

    That’s one reason I don’t like eating with my parents on weekenights. I do not want to watch that crap.

    I am so angry right now. Really angry. I’m trying my best not to let out a spew of nasty words. It’s not the way to do it. Also, I promised not to do so for Lent, and hopefully carry it over after that.

    It was the first time I watched any sort of network newscast since the shooting. I am determined to make it my last, period.

    I’m not going to take a side. I don’t want to. There are too many people I see out there taking sides, and I don’t think anything is achieved by spouting back and forth. One person in particular won’t shut up about it on social media. I won’t name this person, but I know who this person is.

    For those of you who are watching the network news at 5:30 Central every weeknight, stop. Find something better to watch. Your brain will thank you.

    Another reason not to watch NBC, especially right now: THE OLYMPICS.

    I don’t watch the Olympics. I haven’t in 30 years, and I admit, I wasted too much time watching them when I was much younger. Then again, I did not know any better. I am sick of my mother talking about it.

    Maybe there’s a good reason I’ve been watching Last Chance U, Bunk’d and Jessie over and over when I’m at home or in a hotel room, even though I’ve seen every episode multiple times. And I still have my complete series DVD sets of Monk, The OC and One Tree Hill, plus I can watch all 18 1/2 seasons of Law & Order: SVU on Hulu.

    Thank God for streaming and DVDs. Or else I might have gone off the deep end.

    Oh well something to talk about with Crista tomorrow. I hope for her sake her daughter hasn’t seen any of this ugliness. It’s not appropriate for children.

    Happy birthday Caitlyn! I love you! 

     

    Throwback Thursday: Scooba

    In my post (late) last night, I mentioned watching Last Chance U, the Netflix series about the football team at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba.

    The town is on Mississippi’s eastern border. Kemper County, where Scooba is located, has a little under 10,000 residents, and more than 60 percent are African-American. There are only two incorporated villages in Kemper County: Scooba and De Kalb, the county seat.

    Kemper County was the birthplace and childhood home of John Stennis, a legendary politician who represented Mississippi in the United States Senate for 42 years (1947-1988). NASA’s test facility not too far from Bay St. Louis on the Gulf Coast is named in Stennis’ honor. My seventh grade science class at Arabi Park Middle ventured there in February 1989.

    Scooba is only 40 miles east of the site of one of America’s darkest days of hatred.

    Philadelphia, the seat of Neshoba County, was where civil rights workers Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Mickey Schwerner were arrested the afternoon on June 21, 1964 on trumped-up charges of speeding and disturbing the peace. After five hours in the county jail, the three young men were released and began to driving down Mississippi Highway 19 to Meridian.

    Sadly, while Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner were in jail, a dastardly plot was hatched by Neshoba County Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price and numerous members of the Ku Klux Klan. The plan was to follow the civil rights workers down Highway 19 and eventually stop them, then murder them and bury them in an earthen dam.

    Eventually Price and his minions, led by trigger man Alton Wayne Roberts, carried out the executions. It wasn’t until August that the bodies of the three murdered men were found.

    Price and Roberts were convicted of violating the civil rights of Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner by an all-white Mississippi jury in October 1967. Unfortunately, nobody was prosecuted by the state or the feds for murder.

    Scooba (permanent population 700, give or take; many more people are there during the school year) is one of the many places I ventured during my 14 months as the publicity person for Delgado Community College’s athletic teams.

    Delgado is the largest community college in Louisiana, a state which has a woefully low number of two-year colleges, but an oversaturation of four-year colleges. For instance, there are so many four-year colleges within 100 miles of downtown New Orleans that I’m not going to sit here right now and try to figure it out. If it were only LSU, Tulane and the University of New Orleans, it would be plenty. But add in Nicholls (Thibodaux), Southeastern Louisiana (Hammond), Southern (Baton Rouge), plus numerous other smaller colleges, and it gets to be too much.

    I think there are too many four-year schools in Kansas, but Kansas Wesleyan, Bethany, Bethel and the others in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference are private. SOuthern, Nicholls, Southeastern and UNO are all funded by the the state of Louisiana, as are several others. LSU complains about not getting enough funding, but if Louisiana had the guts to close some of the smaller universities or convert them to community colleges, it might help the flagship.

    Delgado has only three athletic teams: men’s basketball, women’s basketball and baseball. The baseball program has been one of the best junior college programs in the United States since its founding in the mid-1970s under the leadership of Joe Scheuermann, who has been the Dolphins’ coach since 1991, and his father, Louis (Rags), who began the team in 1973 after Loyola University, another private four-year school located literally next door to Tulane, dropped its athletic program. Loyola restarted its program in 1989-90, but it was at a much lower level.

    With an utter lack of two-year colleges in Louisiana–the only others with athletic teams are Bossier Parish near Shreveport, LSU-Eunice north and west of Lafayyette, and Baton Rouge Community College–Delgado must go into other states to find games.

    Fortunately for the Dolphins, Mississippi has numerous two-year colleges, so they don’t have to travel long distances.

    Delgado traditionally plays three Mississippi JUCOs every year: Gulf Coast, about 40 miles north of Gulfport; Pearl River, about halfway between New Orleans and Hattiesburg on Interstate 59; and Meridian, which does not play football nor does it compete in the same conference with the other Mississippi JUCOs due to its strong baseball team, one which has sent hundreds of players to Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Miss.

    Scheuermann will rotate the other Mississippi JUCOs onto his schedule, and in my second baseball season there, one of those was East Mississippi.

    The team had to stay in Meridian, 40 miles south of Scooba. Fortunately, US Highway 45 is four-laned throughout most of the state, and it provided easy access from Meridian. The original schedule was to play a single game on a Friday night and a single game the next afternoon.

    I drove separately from the team. I like my freedom. I rented an SUV at the Baton Rouge airport and drove straight to Meridian. I didn’t rent from New Orleans because it is much easier to do so in Baton Rouge, where I parked my car, walked from the garage to the rental counter, then out to the rental car on the ground level of the garage. In New Orleans, you have to take a shuttle from the terminal to the rental car area, which is at the far western edge of the airport property. Pain in the butt.

    It’s an easy drive from Baton :Rouge to Meridian: US 61 to Natchez, US 84 to Interstate 55 at Brookhaven, I-55 to I-20 at Jackson, then to Meridian. All four-lane highway. Much easier than driving from Russell to Norton (sorry, Peggy), especially if deer are congregating on the side of US 283.

    The team drove north on US 45 to Scooba and arrived just before 4:30, with first pitch scheduled for 6:00. However, there were fierce thunderstorms gathering in east central Mississippi, and the coaches agreed to postpone the Friday night game and play two seven-inning games the next day. There was no option to play Sunday, since Delgado was going to be traveling to Wesson to play at Copiah-Lincoln Community College Sunday.

    With thunderstorms on the horizon, I figured I’d better haul butt back to Meridian. I was doing much faster than the 65 MPH speed limit (I estimate a couple of times I was close to 90) as I tried to beat the thunderstorm back to Meridian.

    While I was driving like a bat out of hell, I was also on my phone, talking to Jimmy Ott to discuss the LSU-Arkansas baseball series that weekend on his radio show. I don’t recommend that.

    It absolutely poured once we got back to Meridian. But I was safe.

    The next day, I drove from Meridian to Philadelphia on Highway 19. Made me think long and hard about just how backwards and cruel Mississippi was until the 1970s. There is a large Indian casino near Philadelphia, and the city has certainly modernized greatly since 1964, but it will always carry the shame of what happened to Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner that Father’s Day.

    I remember getting ridiculously sunburned in Scooba. I had to sit outside because there was no press box, and silly me exposed my nearly bald head to the sun on a cloudless day.

    Less than two months after my trip to Scooba and side excursion to Philadelphia, Edgar Ray “Preacher” Kilian, one of the members of the lynch mob that killed Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner, was convicted of murder. Kilian was acquitted during the 1967 federal trial because some jurors stated they could not convict a preacher, even though Kilian’s claim to be a preacher was dubious at best.

    Coincidentally, the same day of the evil act in Neshoba County, Jim Bunning pitched a perfect game for the Phillies against the Mets in Shea Stadium. The next year, when Sandy Koufax threw a perfecto vs. the Cubs in Los Angeles, New Orleans was battered by Hurricane Betsy at the same time. And Woodstock was being held at the same time Hurricane Camille lay waste to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

    The third season of Last Chance U came to Kansas. The 2017 Independence Community College football team was highlighted, and episodes should be available for streaming in the spring. If the Netflix producers thought driving from Scooba to Wesson was a grind, I hope they were ready for Independence to Garden City. Russell to Norton is tough enough, though I will never complain, because two of my favorite people on earth call Norton home.

    I’ve got to get some sleep. I’m supposed to have my first session with Crista in almost a month tomorrow at 8. Supposed to. I’ll leave it at that.

    More than 57 channels and nothing on

    Confession: I cannot stand Bruce Springsteen. I cannot stand his far left-wing views. I’m not big fan of Trump, but Bruce’s hatred knows no bounds. I have ZERO Springsteen songs on my iPod, and I have played exactly ZERO Springsteen songs in my more than 10,000 plays of TouchTunes jukeboxes at Buffalo Wild Wings over the past four and a half years. Liz, Lisa, Tori and others at B-Dubs have never asked me to play Springsteen, and I’m not going to bring it up.

    However, the title of this post is a take on a Springsteen song title because it’s appropriate here.

    Weekday television in January is torture.

    I cannot stand regular season college basketball. It’s mostly pointless. I want LSU to do well, of course, and I also follow Kentucky very closely. I love rubbing the SEC in the faces of the Kansas, K_State and Wichita State fatalists here.

    I quit watching the NBA almost 30 years ago, and I will never start watching again. I follow the Milwaukee Bucks, but I do not watch games, period. The only reason I know how the Bucks are doing is because I get text alerts on their games.

    The NHL isn’t on enough to watch, and besides, NBC only wants to show American teams. I really cannot stand many American teams, especially those in the south: Arizona, Carolina, Nashville, Florida, Tampa Bay and Dallas are all high on my shit list. The Stars are there mostly because of the way they fucked the fans in Minnesota by moving in 1993. The only other option is to buy the NHL’s streaming package, but that’s a little expensive. I’m not that invested in the game that I want to drop that kind of money. If the Quebec Nordiques ever return, that may change.

    Thank God for streaming.

    I have been known to binge watch a few shows on Hulu, Netflix and iTunes. Two of my guiltiest pleasures are a pair of Disney shows starring Peyton List, Jessie and Bunk’d. However, I’m more into stars other than List on those shows: Debby Ryan, the titular Jessie Prescott on Jessie; and Miranda May, who plays goofy farm girl Lou Hockhauser on Bunk’d.

    I saw in the Jessie wikia where the character’s birthday was October 13, 1993. That happens to be the same day Tiffany Trump was born. It also was my 17th birthday.

    I feel bad for Tiffany. Hopefully Debby is not cursed by this, even if it was just a character she played (FYI, Debby’s real life birthday is May 13, 1993).

    Also, List co-starred in a TV movie, A Sister’s Nightmare, with Natasha Henstridge and Kelly Rutherford, in 2013. It’s worth checking out.

    Tonight, I began to watch Last Chance U on Netflix. It chronicles the football program at East Mississippi Community College, where many players who could not make it a Division I university transfer to the school in tiny Scooba (think Russell if it had a JUCO) in hopes of getting back to the big time.

    I should have been watching from the start, because my past took me to Scooba and many other points on the map in Mississippi.

    I would go into it now, but it’s almost midnight. There’s only so many Jessie episodes I can watch in one day. Until then…

    UCF update: an electronic billboard greeted motorists in Tuscaloosa today, begging national champion Alabama to schedule a home and home series against the Knights. If UCF is looking for sympathy for going 13-0 and not being selected for the CFP, this is not the way to go about it. ENOUGH ALREADY.