Category Archives: Television

Live from Phoenix, it’s Saturday Night (Basketball)!

Game five of the NBA Finals was played last night in Phoenix. Milwaukee won 123-119. More on that in the next post.

Oddly, it was the first NBA championship series game contested on a Saturday since game three in 1981, when the finals were known as the world championship series. Hard to believe 40 years passed between Saturday games, considering MLB and the NHL consistently hold games in their championship series on Saturdays.
In 1979-80 and 1980-81, the NBA started its season three weeks earlier than usual and ended on the last Sunday of March. Since only 12 teams made the playoffs in those seasons, and the first round was a best-of-three, the playoffs were shorter.
In 1980, only one series in the conference semifinals and finals went longer than five games, Seattle’s seven-game triumph over Milwaukee in the western semifinals. Both conference finals lasted five, with the Lakers blowing away the reigning champion SuperSonics and the 76ers steamrolling the Celtics in the first of three consecutive eastern finals between the ancient rivals.
This allowed the NBA to schedule the first two games of the finals in Inglewood for Sunday, May 4 and Wednesday, May 7, very reasonable. The first game was televised live coast-to-coast, but the second, which started at 8:30 Pacific (11:30 Eastern) was tape-delayed in the Mountain and Pacific time zones in order to not pre-empt CBS’ primetime schedule.
Following two days off, the series moved to Philadelphia. CBS gave the NBA an ultimatum with two bad choices: (a) play the third and fourth games Saturday and Sunday of Mother’s Day weekend, and we’ll televise both live, or (b) play Saturday/Sunday and Monday/Tuesday, and the weekday game will be tape-delayed everywhere except Philly, LA and any western market (i.e. NBA cities in those time zones) that will televise it live.
CBS chose a, so for the first time in 12 years, a game in the NBA’s final round was played on a Saturday.
The decisive sixth game, the one where Magic Johnson went off for 42 points while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sat injured back in LA, was only televised live in Philly, LA, Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas, and oddly enough, Atlanta, where an independent station picked it up after the CBS affiliate, WAGA, refused to show it, even on tape-delay.
The same situation happened in 1981, with a more compressed schedule.
Since Boston needed the full seven games to oust Philadelphia in what has been considered by many the greatest playoff series in NBA history, the Rockets had to cool their jets in Houston. This pushed the first game back to Tuesday, May 5, with the second game only 48 hours after that.
For the third and fourth games at Houston, the NBA was faced with the same ultimatum from CBS, and again picked the back-to-back on Mother’s Day weekend for two live games, the only live games outside of Boston and Houston The other four were on tape-delay. The series took a mere ten days to complete, with the Celtics prevailing in six.
It could have been worse. In 1967, the 76ers and Warriors played a Sunday afternoon game in Philly, then flew across the country for a game the next night in San Francisco.

NBA commissioner Larry O’Brien, legal counsel David Stern and NBA owners were fed up after the 1981 debacle. They sat down with CBS and figured out how to get all NBA championship games back on live television, moving the season back to its traditional late October start date, meaning the final series would begin after the primetime shows had wrapped their seasons.
By 1987, CBS was televising conference finals games in primetime, and they became a staple of late May/early June programming on CBS, NBC and ABC until all weeknight NBA playoff games except the finals moved to ESPN and TNT in the mid-2000s.

Disney-free lodging

What am I going to watch?

The television in my hotel in the Kansas City area doesn’t have Disney Channel.

Yes, I’m 44 years old and been hooked on Disney Channel for the past couple of months.

Actually, the addiction goes back three years, when I purchased all four seasons of Jessie through Apple.

Jessie starred Debby Ryan as the titular character, a native of Fort Hood who goes to New York City to pursue her dreams of becoming an actress. She somehow becomes the nanny to four children of a famous model turned media tycoon and her movie producer husband.

Ryan recently starred in the Netflix series Insatiable, where she portrays a teenager hell-bent on becoming a beauty pageant queen. I watched the first season, but not the second and last.

Since July 2019, you can’t help but be sad watching Jessie.

Cameron Boyce, who played mischievous Luke Ross, passed away suddenly, only 39 days after his 20th birthday. Boyce also starred in two Descendants movies produced by Disney Channel, and likely had a long and successful career ahead of him.

Skai Jackson, who played youngest child Zuri, recently appeared on Dancing With The Stars. Peyton List (Emma) had several roles before Jessie, including a television movie, A Daughter’s Deception, with Kelly Rutherford and Natasha Henstridge.

Jackson, List and Karan Barar (Ravi), along with Mrs. Kipling, Ravi’s pet lizard on Jessie, moved on to Bunk’d, a spinoff where the Ross children go to a summer camp in eastern Maine. The backstory is Christina (Christina Moore) and Morgan (Chuck Esten) met at the camp in the 1990s.

Bunk’d is still on the air, with its fifth season opening next Friday. Jackson, List and Barar left after the third season, leaving Miranda May, who portrays sweet farm girl Louella Hockhauser, as the lead.

I didn’t have to buy Bunk’d. The entire series is on Netflix, as is Liv and Maddie, where Dove Cameron portrays twins Olivia (Liv) and Madeline (Maddie) Rooney. Liv is an actress and Maddie a basketball player.

I must admit I own three other series from start to finish:

Stuck in the Middle–Jenna Ortega stars as Harley Diaz, the fourth of seven children. Harley is always getting her family out of sticky situations with inventions and intelligence. Harley has three sisters (Rachel and Georgie, the two oldest Diaz kids; and Daphne, the youngest) and three brothers (Ethan and twins Louie and Beast). Tom and Suzy Diaz own a slushy store on the Massachusetts shore.
Bizaardvark--The title of the show comes from a portmanteau of “bizarre” and “aardvark”. Olivia Rodrigo and Madison Hu star as Paige Olvera and Frankie Wong, who make silly videos at Vuugle, a studio which is a cross between Dave & Buster’s and Chuck E. Cheese. In the third and final season, Vuugle moves to a Malibu beach house. Also starring are DeVore Ledridge as Amelia Duckworth, who gives fashion tips on her channel; and Bernie Schotz, who is the straight man for the three females and
Raven’s Home–Raven-Symone and Anneliese van der Pol reprise their roles from That’s So Raven. Raven and Chelsea are both divorced with children living together in a cramped Chicago apartment. Raven has twins: Booker (Isaac Ryan Brown), who shares his mother’s psychic ability; and Nia (Navia Robinson), whose smarts often gets her brother out of jams. Chelsea is the mother to Levi (Jason Maybaum), the smartest 11-year old on television. Joining Nia, Booker and Levi in their adventures is neighbor Tess O’Malley (Sky Katz), who captains her middle school’s basketball team as the only girl playing with boys.

I’m also hooked on two newer Disney shows, Coop and Cami Ask The World and Sydney To The Max. The former stars Ruby Rose Turner and Dakota Lotus as siblings who use Internet polls to determine their next video; the latter stars Ruth Righi as Sydney, a teenager living with her widower father, Max (Ian Reed Kessler) and paternal grandmother Judy (Caroline Rhea). Jackson Dollinger portrays 12-year old Max in flashbacks (Rhea wears a gray wig for current scenes), and Ava Koler portrays Sydney’s best friend Olive Rowzalski.

I have become so hooked I fall asleep with Disney Channel on the TV. Disney Junior runs from 05:00 to 10:00 each morning. If I had a kid, I would hope he or she would watch Bluey, the adorable Australian cartoon about a family and community of dogs. That airs for an hour starting at 06:00.

This is the first hotel in Kansas City I’ve stayed without Disney Channel. I’m staying somewhere I’ve never stayed before. Why? I’ll explain later.

Reduced to binging

My life has pretty much been in stasis since leaving St. Louis the morning of 18 May. There have been appointments with Crista, including my first in person since 2 March, the trip to Hutchinson and Wichita, and last Friday, an excursion to Salina just to do something different.

I was hoping for another trip to Missouri this month, but something happened which made it impractical. I’m not in the mood to go into it. The hot weather made the decision to cancel a little easier.

I have been reduced to binging on two of my favorite television series, Monk and The O.C.

I went through the eight seasons of Monk in three weeks. There was a time where I loved Natalie Teeger (Traylor Howard, who turned 54 today) and I disliked Sharona Fleming (Bitty Schram). When I first acquired the entire series on DVD, I started watching from the first Natalie episode, but eventually, I went all the way back get the full story of how Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub) lost his job as a San Francisco Police Department detective, then returned to the good graces of Captain Leland Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) and Lieutenant Randy Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford).

As I watched the Sharona episodes (the pilot through the ninth episode of season 3), I grew to appreciate both Sharona and Bitty, who portrayed Rockford Peaches right fielder Evelyn Gardner in A League of Their Own. Schram’s character was on the receiving end of the infamous line uttered by Tom Hanks’ Jimmy Dugan, “THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!”

I began watching Monk on USA during the fifth season, which was my first summer in Kansas following Hurricane Katrina. I fell off the wagon near the end of the series, largely because new episodes aired on Friday nights when I was on the road covering athletic events. The DVDs got me back on the wagon, and now I can recall lines from many episodes.

In April, Jimmy Kimmel brought together Shalhoub, Howard, Levine and Gray-Stanford for a Zoom videoconference where they were in character from Monk. Adrian tells Randy he was down to his last 12 cases of wipes. Randy says Adrian is hoarding, but Adrian replies it’s not hoarding if he bought them 20 years ago. Natalie mentions she tested positive for COVID-19. It was nice to see them together again, but I wish Schram, Hector Elizondo (Dr. Neven Bell, Monk’s second therapist) and Emmy Clarke (Julie Teeger, Natalie’s incredibly intelligent and talented daughter) would have also appeared.

I didn’t watch The O.C. during its four seasons on FOX (the first two seasons aired while I was still in Louisiana; the third season premiered one week after I arrived in Russell). I began to watch The O.C. in the summer of 2009 when it aired daily on the now-defunct Soap Opera Network (SoapNET) along with One Tree Hill.

The only main actor from The O.C. I have watched regularly since the show ended is Peter Gallagher (Sandy Cohen), who appeared as Arthur Larson on Covert Affairs and William Dodds on Law & Order: SVU. Peter is tremendously talented as both an actor and singer, and it’s a travesty he hasn’t had a leading role in a major motion picture since Sex, Lies and Videotape in 1989.

Since I first watched The O.C., I’ve had a huge crush on Kelly Rowan, who portrayed Kirsten (Nichol) Cohen. Kelly was born in Ottawa (the capital of Canada, not the one where Caitlyn goes to college) and was mostly an unknown, like the rest of the stars of the show excluding Gallagher. Kelly played her part flawlessly and with tremendous emotion and energy, and it’s a shame she hasn’t had another starring role either on TV or movies. If Kelly is a Senators fan, I’ll forgive her.

Three future leads of Pretty Little Liars–Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson and Janel Parrish–had guest appearances on The O.C. Benson and Parrish appeared in the same episode where Kaitlin Cooper (Willa Holland) throws a rager at Neil Roberts’ (Michael Nouri) mansion that is crashed by Ryan (Ben McKenzie) and Seth (Adam Brody), who go looking for their girlfriends, Taylor (Autumn Reeser) and Summer (Rachel Bilson).

I picked up One Tree Hill on the CW and watched the last three seasons as they unfolded. The last three seasons were missing something big without Lucas Scott (Chad Michael Murray) and Peyton Sawyer Scott (Hilarie Burton), but Bethany Joy Lenz (Haley James-Scott) and Sophia Bush (Brooke Davis) kept it going strong. Shantel Van Santen (Quinn James) was a great addition for the last three years, although many didn’t like her.

OTH is now on Hulu, not to mention I have all nine seasons on DVD, so I’m guessing it will be on my binge list soon.

The other two shows where I have seen every episode are The Brady Bunch and Law & Order: SVU.

Time to call it a night.

The NBA’s Memorex Moment

Forty years ago tonight, the Los Angeles Lakers were in Philadelphia, looking to defeat the 76ers in the sixth game of the NBA World Championship Series and bring the Walter Brown Trophy back to southern California.

If the Lakers wanted to avoid a seventh game at ingelwood less than 48 hours later, they would have to do so without the 1979-80 Most Valuable Player.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who won his record sixth MVP as the Lakers went 60-22, one game behind the Celtics for the NBA’s best record, suffered a high ankle sprain on his left ankle during the third quarter of the Lakers’ 108-103 victory two nights prior.

Abdul-Jabbar played the fourth quarter on the injured ankle and scored 14 points in the stanza, giving him 40 for the night. The 76ers’ woefully weak center combination of Darryl Dawkins and Caldwell Jones helped Kareem’s cause. When Philadelphia finally upgraded its center situation three years later, the results were much different. I’ll get to that later.

On the advice of Lakers team doctor Robert Kerlan and trainer Jack Curran, coach Paul Westhead and the rest of the Lakers, including 20-year old rookie Earvin Johnson, made the cross-country flight to Philadelphia without the 33-year old legend, who was seeking his second NBA championship, but first since winning it all with Milwaukee in 1971.

Philadelphia was quite fortunate to be in a game six to be honest. They nearly blew a 23-point lead at Ingelwood in game two, and it took a late flurry in game four, highlighted by spectacular baseline up-and-under by Julius Erving, to pull out a three-point win. The Lakers won easily in games one and three, then won a tight game five.

Most national pundits believed Philadelphia would exploit Los Angeles’ hole in the midlde and sent the series back to California. The simplest option would be to move Jim Chones, the former Cavaliers All-Star, to center and insert Mark Landsberger at power forward.

However, Landsberger had been overpowered by Dawkins and Jones when giving Abdul-Jabbar a rest earlier in the series, and he forever became a highlight film staple after Dr. J drove around him in the fourth game.

Westhead and assistant coach Pat Riley made a bold move.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson wold start at center, allowing defensive ace and long-range shooting specialist Michael Cooper into the backcourt with Norm Nixon.

Magic was only 14 months removed from leading Michigan State to a 75-64 victory over Indiana State and its superstar, Larry Bird, in the NCAA championship game at Salt Lake City, the highest rated college basketball game ever, a distinction it still holds 41 years later.

Though not old enough to consume alcohol in most jurisdictions, Magic played well beyond his years the evening of 16 May 1980.

Johnson turned in the greatest individual performance in an NBA championship game, before or after, with 42 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists as the Lakers routed the 76ers 123-107 in front of 17,000 shocked patrons at The Spectrum. The game was tied 60-60 at halftime, but after Los Angeles scored the first 14 points of the third quarter, Kareem could celebrate at home, and mayor Tom Bradley could announce the exact date and time for the first victory parade in the City of Angels in eight years.

Too bad most of the United States could not watch Magic’s scintillating performance in real time.

CBS, which televised the NBA from 1973 through 1990, inexplicably chose to air game six of the 1980 championship series on tape delay.

The NBA’s television ratings were in the toilet, and CBS did not want to preempt prime time programming for a basketball game which might draw a third to a quarter of the ratings of one of its primetime powerhouses.

When games were played in the Pacific Time Zone, CBS aired them live at 23:30 Eastern/22:30 Central after the late news. The Mountain Time Zone was delayed by an hour, but the Pacific zone was delayed by three hours unless the local affiliate preempted the prime time schedule and showed the game live.

Los Angeles obviously aired the games live. So did Portland and Seattle, where enthusiasm for the NBA was unbridled. The Trail Blazers were Oregon’s first major professional sports team, and remained that way until the Timbers joined Major League Soccer. The Super Sonics were THE thing in Seattle, even with the Seahawks and Mariners both starting play in the late 1970s.

The other market in the west to air all games live? Las Vegas, for obvious reasons.

Games two and five started at 20:30 Pacific. Yes, they were live in Philadelphia, but how many people stayed up until 01:45 the next morning to watch them to conclusion?

Meanwhile, weeknight games in the other three time zones were tape delayed to air at 23:30 Eastern and Pacific/22:30 Central and Mountain. CBS pulled the stunt during game two of the 1979 championship series from Washington, but it DID air game five live nationwide.

In the 1980 championship series, games three and four in Philadelphia were played Mother’s Day weekend, Saturday at 15:30 Eastern and Sunday at 13:00 Eastern. CBS would not be as fortunate for game six.

On the surface, CBS’ choice was logical. Do not preempt two of your highest rated shows, The Dukes of Hazzard and Dallas, the latter ranking number one for all television shows in 1979-80.

There was one flaw in CBS’ logic the evening of 16 May 1980.

Dukes and Dallas were already airing reruns.

J.R. Ewing was shot on 21 March 1980, seven weeks before Earvin Johnson became truly Magic.

All three networks ended their 1979-80 seasons in late March or early April, fearing the Screen Actors Guild would go on strike in the spring or early summer. That came to pass in June, and it delayed the opening of the 1980-81 season until November (America didn’t find out Kristin Shepard shot J.R. until 21 November, two months later than CBS had hoped), December, or even January (NBC did not air the first episode of Hill Street Blues until 15 January, 10 days before it broadcast Super Bowl XV).

With reruns already airing, it would have hurt nothing to air the game from Philadelphia live at 21:00, but CBS figured old episodes were better than new basketball.

Again, if you were living in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle and Las Vegas, you were in luck.

The other place to air the game live? Atlanta, where the CBS affiliate refused to show NBA games not involving the Hawks. However, an independent station figured the sports fans of north Georgia needed something other to watch than the pitiful Braves on WTBS, so it aired game six live.

Therefore, large markets like New York, Chicago, Houston, Detroit, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Francisco, Washington, Baltimore, Phoenix and Miami were all out of luck. San Francisco and Phoenix, of course, could have aired the game live and only would have had to adjust the regular Friday night programming back at most 30 minutes for game overrun.

It was well past bedtime for myself and my brother. Then again, I doubt there were very many NBA fans in New Orleans in the spring of 1980, since the 1979-80 season was the first for the Jazz in Utah after five seasons in the Crescent City. Utah probably should have let the new team in New Orleans reacquire the Jazz nickname when they moved in 2002, but that’s too confusing to go into right now.

There were a lot of negative articles written about CBS tape delaying the deciding game of the NBA championship series, but it didn’t change anything, at least in the short term.

The 1981 championship series featured the Celtics for the first time since 1976, and the Rockets for the first time ever. Houston won the Western Conference at 40-42, defeating the 40-42 Kansas City Kings in the conference finals.

With a team from the Eastern Time Zone taking on a team from the Central Time Zone, it meant tape delay at least twice, and possibly four times if the series reached a game six.

The first two games in Boston tipped at 19:35 Eastern, meaning a four hour for those not in Boston or Houston. Games three and four from Houston were live on Mother’s Day weekend. Game three was the last Saturday game in an NBA championship series, and game four started at 12:05 Central so CBS could televise golf afterwards.

Game five tipped at 21:00 Eastern and aired at the standard 23:35 Eastern/22:35 Central.

The sixth and deciding game started at 21:05 Central, the latest start to an NBA championship game in the Central Time Zone. Boston won in six, the first of their three championships with Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale.

Philadelphia and Los Angeles met again for the NBA championship with one major difference: all games were televised live on CBS.

The NBA agreed to start its regular season later beginning in 1981-82, allowing the championship series to be played after the network prime time seasons ended in mid-May. There were four weeknight games, including the clinching game six on 8 June, where the Lakers prevailed and left the 76ers as the NBA’s bridesmaids for the third time in six seasons.

The 76ers finally realized they needed a big change at center in order to stymie Kareem. Billy Cunningham made the biggest change he could by acquiring Moses Malone from the Rockets, and on 31 May 1983, Philadelphia had its first NBA championship in 16 years, sweeping Los Angeles.

The NFL and Major League Baseball would never dare to air any playoff game, let alone a championship contest, on tape delay. The NHL has aired just about every Stanley Cup Finals game live in Canada since the 1950s, but in America, its coverage has been far worse. Many cities had no NHL on television from 1976-79, and from 1989-92, most couldn’t see any NHL games because of an asinine deal with SportsChannel America, which thankfully no longer exists.

The German Bundesliga returned today, albeit without fans. But it’s LIVE SPORTS. NASCAR races tomorrow at Darlington.

Let’s hope there’s light at the end of the tunnel, although the alarmists hope we’re sitting at home twiddling our thumbs without anything to watch until 2021 or later.

Grocery shopping becomes a game of chance

I got up at 05:15 to use the bathroom. I thought about going back to bed, but as I washed my hands, I realized I had better take care of a particular task, or I may not get that chance.

That task: reserving times at Walmart in Salina and Hays to pick up groceries and household goods, notably toilet cleaners and paper plates.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated panic buying of anything and everything. The panic buying began shortly after the Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV, but throughout February, it was limited to cleaning wipes, cleaning sprays, paper towels and tissues.

With nine days left in March, nothing is immune to hoarders. Store shelves are picked clean, and trying to reserve items to be picked up is challenging not only because of the empty shelves, but because stores–Walmart and Dillons in my case–are severely restricting the times which items can be picked up.

Walmart is not allowing any reservations past the next day; i.e., I could not reserve a Tuesday pickup time last night, prompting me to do my shopping before 06:00. I got reservations at 12:00 in Hays and 17;00 in Salina.

Dillons is worse. I sneaked into a Tuesday evening slot at the store on Ohio Street in Salina last Friday, but when I tried to find another slot, there was nothing available for three days anywhere. A precious few slots for Wednesday and Thursday in Hays have opened this morning.

I’m going to be making three stops tomorrow, with a session with Crista at 13:00 wedged in. Walmart in Hays is before Crista, and Salina is after. The times in Salina are late enough so I can do whatever else I need to do in Hays, including a long wait in a drive-thru, before heading east on Interstate 70. At least I’ve mastered the art of ordering with an app at Taco Bell, McDonald’s and Sonic.

I’m driving this week, so I’d better get to Salina when I can. The diabetic ulcer on the big toe on my right foot has left me in a cast for the better part of the last seven weeks. It has healed very well, and with COVID-19 shutting down everything, there’s no downside to staying home all the time. Buzztime trivia, chess, Lifetime movies and naps pass the time.

While I have reserved items at three stores, whether or not I actually get those items is a crap shoot.

Last Friday, the Dillons in Hays could not get me any bacon. Nothing. My dad, who drove me to my appointment at Hays Medical Center for continued care on the toe, and I didn’t dare go inside to see if there was any on the shelf. The parking lot was filled, and I’m sure social distancing rules were being violated left and right inside the store.

There were no napkins in my Walmart order last Thursday. Fortunately I got them at Dillons.

Dillons is being stubborn by not allowing orders from their deli for pickup, meaning you have to go into the store if you want sliced ham, turkey, salami or other cold cuts and cheese. I like the Salina Dillons because it sells Boar’s Head, but I don’t know if I’m willing to fight the mob tomorrow night.

One thing I have not attempted to order: toilet paper. I have 19 mega rolls of Charmin Ultra Soft in my bathroom, so I’m probably good until at least August. And I will not consider the stupid “flushable” wipes, because toilets have become clogged numerous times using them, whether it be at home or at a hotel.

I also have not tried to order bottled water. As long as Russell’s municipal supply does not get contaminated, we’re in good shape with that as well.

If you want toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, wipes, hand sanitizer, hand soap or most other cleaning supplies, Walmart is kind enough to say they are out of stock. Dillons gets your hopes up thinking it might be in stock by allowing you to add it to your order, only for you to get a message the morning of your scheduled pickup telling you “we’re sorry, but these items are out of stock”.

Target is not allowing paper products and cleaning supplies to be reserved online for pickup orders. Again, you have to go into the store and fight the mob. I still have two full bottles of hand soap I bought at Target in January.

I seriously considered a Sam’s Club membership–there’s a store in Salina–but haven’t pulled the trigger yet. I might change my mind later.

In 1999, King of the Hill aired an episode on the Y2K fear, “Hillennium”, which predicted a possible toilet paper shortage one day.

Dale Gribble, the most paranoid character in the history of television animation, hoarded toilet paper, Mountain Dew, cookies and dozens of other items. Hank Hill bought Peggy a computer for Christmas, and fearing the machine would not be Y2K compliant, Bobby, Peggy and Luanne Platter (Rest in Peace, Brittany Murphy) began to hoard toilet paper like Dale.

Bobby is elated when he receives toilet paper as his Christmas present. Come New Year’s Eve, he is deathly afraid to come outside and join Hank, Boomhauer, Bill, Kahn and the rest of Rainey Street for fireworks. Finally, Bobby comes to his senses, and Hank uses the hoarded toilet paper to start a bonfire.

My dad was fortunate to find toilet paper in Russell’s grocery store last week. He also found three boxes of tissues at Dollar General. They aren’t the Puffs scented with Vicks I prefer, but I’ll take anything in an emergency.

I can order some food online. I have a delivery from Wolferman’s Bakery with English muffins (corn meal and sourdough) and bread (all sourdough) arriving today, and Wednesday, six cases of TaB cola and 12 bottles of Louisiana Fish Fry tartar sauce (for the fish I’m eating each Friday) is coming from Amazon.

I can’t find TaB anywhere anymore, and I like its taste due to it being sweetened with saccharin and not aspartame or sucralose. I used to smuggle TaB back from Kansas City, but it’s disappeared. I was going to check other markets on my LSU baseball trip, but that’s not happening, either.

Bread is scarce,and it’s doubtful I’ll get to Kansas City before June in order to buy the sourdough I like so much. What’s worse is Farm to Market, the company which makes the great sourdough, won’t sell it online. They’re missing out. The Wolferman’s sourdough will do well in a pinch.

I also ordered cleaning supplies from the Grove Collaborative, including the same hand soap I buy at Target. If it comes by the end of next week (April 3), I’ll be happy. I have plenty to get by until then.

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.
  • ##########################################################################

    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.

    #########################################################################

    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.

    ##########################################################################

    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.

    ##########################################################################

    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!

    2019-06-05_13-54-37_112.m4a

    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.

    %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

    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.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    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.

    ##################################################################

    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.