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Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
No Mo' Beisbol
Now Playing: Sox 1, Astros 0
Waaah. Baseball season is over. The White Sox swept Houston to win their first World Series since 1917. Imagine how emasculated Cub fans feel tonight. Even more than usual. And Fox was back at its usual abysmal standards. It's pretty common during clinching games for TV networks to stick a camera in one of the clinching team's hometown bars. Fox did it in Chicago tonight, and managed to somehow find the only bar on the South Side with not a single black person in it.

I suppose my life can get back to normal now, i.e. watching crappy movies instead of baseball games. I just got another big box of crapola in the mail, so I need to hunker down and bury myself in Al Adamson and Andy Milligan movies (deeeeeep hurting...).

I still haven't heard jack from the insurance company. I tried to do them a favor and called them today. I left a message, along with my home and work numbers. Someone did call me back a little after 5 and left a message. She said she'd be in 'til 7:30, but I called back and left another message at about 5:25, and she never got back to me. My neck and back are feeling better now; I think I'm going to be okay, although I'm not 100% yet.

Posted by Marty at 11:55 PM CDT
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Good Morning
Now Playing: Sox 7, Astros 5
Just finished watching the longest World Series game in history, more than five hours. Kudos to Chicken, Darcy and the Smoker Hodgsons for going the distance. A terrific game all around, at least as far as suspense goes. Some of it was sloppy; nearly any 14-inning game is.

Most ironic moment of the night: during a pregame minute of silence for the late Rosa Parks, Fox cut to former First Lady Barbara Bush sitting in the stands. If it was any network but the one owned by Rupert Murdoch, I'd think the director was playing a snarky joke.

Posted by Marty at 1:35 AM CDT
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Tuesday, October 25, 2005
I Am Waiting
Just waiting for Game 3 of the World Series to start soon. I wanted to post the latest in my car saga, not that there's much to post. An assessor from the insurance company checked out my car yesterday and left a message informing me that it was a "total loss." Not an unexpected finding, but one that still sucks. It was a decent car, got decent gas mileage, was not going to fall apart for a long time, had plenty of room for passengers and cargo, and was basically paid for. Now I have to figure out whether to buy an inexpensive used car or buy something newer, which will be harder for me to afford. It all depends, I suppose, on how much I can get from the insurance company, which means I have to depend on them to be honorable. We'll see. Meanwhile, I still feel okay. I have a lingering discomfort in my neck and shoulder area and in the back, but nothing serious. It feels like I slept wrong or something like that, just a nagging thing.

Posted by Marty at 6:36 PM CDT
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Sunday, October 23, 2005
Fall Classic
Now Playing: Sox 7, Astros 6
Great game. That's what the World Series is all about. Since I don't really care who wins the Series, it frees me to sit back and just enjoy well-played baseball. I'm just rooting for five more games just like tonight's.

I bet that'll be a long flight back to Houston for Brad Lidge. Or as he's now known in Texas, Fucking Brad Lidge. As in, "Fucking Brad Lidge, what the hell?"

Posted by Marty at 11:17 PM CDT
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Saturday, October 22, 2005
Shut Up, Tim McCarver
Now Playing: Sox 5, Astros 3
Why does Fox hate baseball so much? I can't imagine why a network would spend so much money and effort broadcasting a sport it so obviously despises. From the inanities constantly spouted by its announcing team to its annoying habit of punctuating every graphic with a ridiculous sound effect, Fox shows its contempt with every inning it telecasts.

For instance, the pregame show featured an old man talking about the 1919 "Black Sox", the White Sox team that threw the World Series in the employ of gamblers, and the White Sox "curse", which never existed in anyone's mind until just now. The old man was an actor babbling about the old days, and then there was a reenactment of a little kid saying "Say it isn't so, Joe," to Shoeless Joe Jackson. Good grief. Then "Joe" told the camera about how the players "had" to do it (yes, Fox is making heroes out of the corrupt Black Sox). Then, another actor playing legendary Sox owner Bill Veeck portrayed the likable, intelligent man as a fat, motormouthed, greasy used car salesman. Doesn't anyone who works on Fox's telecasts actually, you know, know something about the sport?

It then took Jeanne Zelasko about ten minutes to talk about how Roger Clemens' dead mom predicted that her son would be pitching in the World Series. Good grief. During the game itself, Fox missed Joe Crede's home run because they were boring the shit out of us with a taped interview with Houston's pitching coach. In-game interviews are dull and worthless. Nobody wants to hear them, and we certainly don't while a Crede homer is going over the outfield wall and the outfielder is making a valiant attempt at a miracle catch.

Tim McCarver was his usual idiot self, saying things like "Bobby Jenks certainly wasn't tonight" (wasn't what?) and "In the World Series, the world is watching this play". He also constantly calls pitches as being fastballs when they're actually breaking balls.

Throw in Fox's repetitive marketing of its prime-time lineup, which includes about 1000 viewings of the same HOUSE and PRISON BREAK promos (notice ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, maybe the best show Fox has, never gets mentioned, but the anemic THAT '70S SHOW pops up about ten times). Even worse, during the game, Fox throws up one of those annoying corner promos, complete with a loud police siren while the announcers are speaking!

To quote Casey Kasem: ponderous, man. Fuckin' ponderous.

Posted by Marty at 11:24 PM CDT
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Sly & The Family Stone Kicks Ass
I spent much of the afternoon watching MPI Home Video's DVD of THE MUSIC SCENE. THE MUSIC SCENE was a risky experiment for ABC in the fall of 1969: a rare 45-minute weekly series that was followed by another 45-minute series, an Aaron Spelling production called THE NEW PEOPLE (which ABC ripped off last year as its hit series LOST).

Both shows were designed to appeal to the young audience, as they featured large casts of young hipsters. In contrast to the drama on THE NEW PEOPLE (a show I've never seen, but would like to), THE MUSIC SCENE was a musical variety show produced in association with BILLBOARD and dedicated to current trends in popular music. Although it's obvious there was a major attempt to be tropical and hip (David Steinberg was the main host and writer), the show was also committed to featuring then-current hit records, which were often anything but hip. For instance, The Archies' smash SUGAR, SUGAR is lambasted week after week, which must have come as a disappointment to audience members who liked that song, treacly as it may be.

So while you had electrifying rock acts as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Janis Joplin tearing up the stage, the show's format also provided a venue for square acts like Merle Haggard's "Okie from Muskogee" (guest host Tommy Smothers rips Merle during his introduction and mimes toking up) and Roger Miller, whose attempt at making "King of the Road" cool is an embarrassing failure.

Not that the creative team's liberal bent doesn't come in for lambasting, as is clear when watching guest host Michael Cole of THE MOD SQUAD dramatically reciting Rod McKuen poems. As bad as television can be, it rarely gets as jawdroppingly insane as that.

Steinberg's repertory company includes a cute Lily Tomlin, Larry Hankin (still a familiar character actor who played "Kramer" in the pilot-within-the-show on SEINFELD), Chris Bokeno, Christopher Ross (who passed away in 1970, just a few months after the show left the air; since Ross missed a couple of episodes due to an illness that the cast talks about, I wonder if that had anything to do with his death soon thereafter) and Paul Reid Roman.

Now that you can fast-forward through the duller acts (can you sit through a leather-jacket-and-ascot-wearing Steve Lawrence crooning "The Drifter" on a cheap barnyard set?), MPI's THE MUSIC SCENE, VOLUME 1 is a fascinating glance at popular music as it was in 1969 (the show was cancelled, along with THE NEW PEOPLE, in January 1970 after 16 weeks). Sly & the Family Stone are incredible, doing four sizzling songs, including "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey". There's also The Rascals, Three Dog Night, The Temptations, James Brown and Jerry Lee Lewis for the cool crowd, and Bobby Sherman, Oliver, Buck Owens and Tom Jones for everybody else.

Stan Harris, director of THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR, probably the hippest variety show on television at the time (LAUGH-IN be damned), directed and co-produced the show, and Carl Gottlieb and Richard Schaal, both of whom appeared as extras, were on the writing staff.

My back feels a little better today, although I still have a bit of discomfort in my neck. I figure on taking it easy today. I'm staying in tonight anyway to watch Game 1 of the World Series, which should be a good one. Two teams with outstanding starting pitching, decent defenses, average offenses. The Astros have a better bullpen, but the White Sox's relievers won't be much of a factor if the starters continue pitching nine innings.

I went to bed early last night. Slept eleven hours. Haven't done that in a long time.

Posted by Marty at 3:35 PM CDT
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Friday, October 21, 2005
A Relaxing Day Off? No.
Got up at 8:00am and spent the next 2 1/2 hours on the telephone, talking to various insurance companies, tow guys, body shops, car rentals, etc. I carry only liability coverage on my car, otherwise my insurance company, Country Companies, would take car of a lot of this business for me. As it is, they were pretty helpful and answered a lot of my questions.

I mostly spent time talking to the woman at USAA General, the coverer of the girl who hit me. I was the first to report the accident to them, and the agent interrogated me over the phone in a recorded conversation. To be somewhat fair to her, she only had my word as to what happened, but I felt she was dragging her feet a bit to help me. I'm confident that the girl who hit me is 100% liable and that USAA General will be responsible for the entire tab.

Hopefully they'll live up to the deal. For instance, she told me that she could not begin an investigation into the matter until I had my car moved from the tow place to which it was taken last night to another location that would not charge a storage fee. That sounds like a load of b.s. and the Catch 22 is that, if my car is deemed totalled and no body shop can do repairs, then any body shop will charge for storage. If they do the body work, no, but if there's no body work to do, then they probably will charge. However, there's no way an appraiser can look at it and deem whether or not it's totalled until the car is towed to the body shop. I had little choice--I had it towed to a local body shop this morning. If there's work to be done, they'll have to do it anyway. If there isn't, I'll just have to fight that battle later.

I also picked up a rental vehicle this morning. It's a gigantic 2005 four-door Dodge Ram pickup. I think most people need a vehicle like this like they need a hole in the head, but I admit it is fun to drive. From what I understand, USAA General should be responsible for this too. Of course, that's only if their client is found to be liable, and I suppose there's no guarantee of that, despite what actually happened on the road last night. A call to the officer who wrote the report last night, so I could determine whether or not he ticketed to the girl, went unreturned, as did two followup calls to the USAA General agent I talked to this morning. On the other hand, I did receive a message from a local auto body appraiser who said they had received word from USAA General to give my car a look on Monday. I assume this means the investigation is complete and that USAA General is starting to figure up how much of a settlement I'm owed.

I also made a trip to the ER this afternoon. I wanted to see my regular physician, but I was refused by officials who made me go to the emergency room. I suppose that's SOP for car crash victims. I think it's probably because my co-pay is $25 to see my doctor, but it's $125 to go to the ER. I was only there less than 25 minutes. What is that, five bucks a minute? And probably for nothing. I feel okay, but I do have a bit of tension in my neck and back today. Nothing too serious or even painful, just a tightness. The ER doctor didn't seem too worried about it, but he prescribed me some muscle relaxants. I took one, but it doesn't seem to have done much for me yet.

Thanks to those of you who posted or sent email (the Z-man is still out there!). It feels like overkill, since the crash wasn't really a heavy one, and no one was seriously hurt. My pain is mostly in my ass now, as I have to make all these arrangements and eventually figure out how I'm going to buy another car. If my Altima can be fixed, that's fine with me and I would prefer that, but I have to face that I might have to find something else, and I can't in reality afford a car, even a used one. I'm keeping all my medical and car rental receipts in hopes I can be reimbursed for all that.

Eventually I'm going to have to post about the WALKER, TEXAS RANGER reunion movie. Norris is The Man.

Posted by Marty at 4:59 PM CDT
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Thursday, October 20, 2005
I was involved in a car accident on my way home from work tonight.

Don't worry--everyone is okay, it was just me in my car and the girl who hit me with hers. I call her a girl; well, I thought she was a teenager, she looks so young, but she's actually 20 years old.

At any rate, I was driving home on Springfield Avenue, just a few blocks from my place, when it happened. She was stopped at a stop sign, and, for whatever reason, she pulled right out onto Springfield in front of me to cross the street. She said she thought I was turning because I slowed down, which I may have done, because the four-lane street bottlenecks into two lanes right at that intersection. I certainly didn't have my turn signal on, and it still wouldn't have been my fault if I had.

I saw her pull out, braked, and tried to swerve away, but I couldn't. She T-boned me right on the passenger side, caved the whole side in, and spun me around about 200 degrees so I was facing the opposite direction. I've never been in an accident like this before, one where there was actual damage and where someone could have been seriously hurt. In fact, if anyone had been riding with me, I believe they could have been hurt badly. I suspect my bitchin' '94 Altima is totalled. For sure, it would cost more to fix than what I'm paying my brother for it, and quite likely more than its Blue Book value. I don't expect to ever drive it again.

So I'm taking tomorrow off of work, at least in the morning. I'm inexperienced at this, but I'll call my insurance agent tomorrow morning. The girl who hit me has insurance, and I'm pretty positive her company will be picking up the tab. The policeman who wrote up the report sent me home (with the tow truck guy who came to get my car), but kept her behind, and I presume he ticketed her, probably for Failing to Yield or something like that. I wonder if I can get a free rental car, but that won't last forever.

I might see my doctor tomorrow too. Oddly, no police officers even asked us if we needed medical attention, and probably we didn't. I feel a bit of soreness tonight, kind of like if I'd played basketball or something. Just a bit in my neck, my calf, upper back, and chest where my seat belt was. I think I'm fine, but for a $25 co-pay, I might as well make the just-in-case effort.

What's really scary is that she couldn't have hit me very "hard". In that she was accelerating from a stopped position, and moved only the width of one traffic lane before hitting me. She sure packed a wallop though--Mass x Acceleration = Force or whatever it is. It's been a long time since Mr. Hendricks' high school physics class.

Posted by Marty at 11:51 PM CDT
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Wednesday, October 19, 2005
George Kennedy Is A Nazi
Now Playing: TOP LINE
With all the postseason baseball and new TV shows, I've had little time to watch crappy movies, so I literally picked up a DVD-R off the top of one of my many piles and tossed it in the player. It was TOP LINE, a 1988 Italian science fiction movie starring Franco Nero of DJANGO and ENTER THE NINJA fame. I didn't know a damn thing about it, and a half-hour into it, I still didn't know anything about it. It picks up a little bit at that point and turns into a typically fucked-up Italian movie with lame special effects and a wonky sense of logic.

Nero is an alcoholic Italian author named Ted who discovers a 500-year-old spaceship buried in a Colombian cave. George Kennedy, who could have filmed his whole part in a day, is a Nazi who chases a barefoot Nero across a cactus field. He vanishes from the film pretty early, and Nero is then chased by the CIA, the Russians, and a human-looking robot (!) with a melted face. The robot is vanquished when a charging bull knocks off its head (!), and Nero contacts his bitchy publisher ex-wife in the States and has her fly down to meet him in the jungle. Turns out she's one of the aliens, and she shows Nero her true colors, stripping off her nude skin to reveal her slimy, gooey, misshapen, sharp-toothed self. She also reveals that her race has been visiting Earth for 16,000 years and that they have infiltrated world government at the highest posts. Franco's new girlfriend ices the bitch by firing a spear into it, and the film ends with Nero "gone native", wearing a loincloth, sitting in a grass hut, writing his expose of the alien invasion that will likely never be published.

Don't you wish you could be the guy who slaps the cuffs on Tom DeLay? With DeLay under arrest, Bill Frist under investigation, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby facing possible indictment, and a new New York Daily News story that reveals that President Bush may have lied to Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in charge of "Plamegate", is there any question that the current administration is the most corrupt since Nixon? And we all know what happened to that asshole. One thing is for certain: either Bush lied to Fitzgerald and lied to us when he claimed he didn't know anything about the leak of Valerie Plame's name or Rove lied to Bush about being involved. Something else for certain: Scott McClelland, Bush's press secretary, is absolutely a liar. There are also rumblings that Dick Cheney could be involved. I say round up the whole damn bunch and toss 'em into the hoosegow. They've certainly caused us enough trouble, pain, money and lives.

And if Bush lied to Fitzgerald, I wonder if we'll hear the same hypocrites who hollered "perjury" at Bill Clinton holler "obstruction of justice" at the President. I doubt it. It's interesting that Bush agreed to speak to Fitzgerald only after a long negotiation that ensured Bush would not be under oath. Why would the President demand to not speak an oath to tell the truth? Unless, of course, he planned to lie.

And just when you think these guys couldn't fuck up any worse than they already have, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the fuckup Michael Chertoff, admits that the federal government--NOT the state and local governments--are to blame for the disastrous aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Much of what Chertoff testified to was in the name of throwing former FEMA head Michael Brown (as in, "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job.") under the bus, but it certainly will be hard now for the Republicans to continue covering their asses with untruths.

I hate to say anything nice about Bill O'Lielly, um, I mean, O'Reilly, but he does demonstrate a nice sense of humor in this appearance on THE DAILY SHOW. Yes, he's full of shit, and I don't know how a sexual harasser like him has the nerve to denigrate anyone else's morals, but I think he comes off looking okay here, not that Jon Stewart tore into him or anything.

Posted by Marty at 9:54 PM CDT
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Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Shag Undercover

I know, it looks like a MAD parody, doesn't it? I've posted here before about the woes NBC faced in the late 1970's, putting shows on the air like QUARK, A MAN CALLED SLOANE, SUPERTRAIN and other notable bombs that left the network a perennial third-placer. But this show was dead meat right from the opening titles. After all, how could anyone take seriously a tough crime drama called...DAVID CASSIDY--MAN UNDERCOVER?

You can't really blame executive producer David Gerber for trying it. After all, the show was a spinoff of an episode of the acclaimed anthology series POLICE STORY, aired May 28, 1978. In "A Chance to Live", David Cassidy, the former PARTRIDGE FAMILY front man, guest-starred as a youthful cop who went undercover in a Los Angeles high school to ferret out drug dealers. The episode received a high Nielsen rating, and Cassidy was nominated for an Emmy. So, what the heck, why not have Cassidy bust bad guys every week?

Well, what the hell, DAVID CASSIDY--MAN UNDERCOVER? Reportedly, the titles UNDERCOVER and MAN UNDERCOVER were already taken or under copyright or some such rot. It seems as though there are a million other titles better than the one Gerber and NBC chose to go with, but...

DC--MU premiered on NBC in the fall of '78, but not to overwhelmingly optimistic ratings. Cassidy reprised his POLICE STORY role as undercover detective Dan Shay with the great Simon Oakland (KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER) as his police boss and Wendy Rastatter as his wife. It was unusual then and now for a leading man in a cop show to have a happy married home life.

Best I can remember, the plots were standard '70s cop fare, chasing arsonists, bank robbers, drug lords and bikers. WGN-TV reran some episodes around 1990. Unfortunately, I recorded them (and episodes of the equally shortlived RIKER with Josh Taylor) on a Beta machine, and the VCR and tapes are long gone. Cassidy, of course, co-wrote and recorded the theme song, which was never released on vinyl or CD.

Check out this totally bogus publicity still of Cassidy and co-star Oakland. Posed? Ya think?

Since my memories of the series are fuzzy, I relied on, believe it or not, a DAVID CASSIDY--MAN UNDERCOVER Web site for some information. So if you don't believe me that this show actually existed (I wouldn't), check it out for yourself.

Posted by Marty at 11:08 PM CDT
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