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Showing posts from September, 2009

Heaton Up Again

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I'm not sure what it says on McLean Stevenson's tombstone, but if I were commissioned to write it, I'd keep it simple, stupid.

"I should never have left M*A*S*H"

I tend to think of actors like Stevenson around this time of year, when the new fall shows debut.

I'm thinking now of those opposite of Stevenson, like the wonderful Patty Heaton, who played Ray Romano's beleaguered wife in "Everybody Loves Raymond" for that show's entire nine-season run.

Heaton---give her credit---didn't give up on the TV sitcom format, even though it would have been easy to say, "I'll never have anything like 'Raymond' ever again," and not even try another show.

She hooked up with another TV comedic veteran, Kelsey Grammer, in the pun-titled "Back to You," a cute premise involving TV news co-anchors who also just happen to be ex-husband and wife. That show hit the airwaves in fall, 2007, but only lasted about a year.

Heaton's &quo…

Skullduggery

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Adolph Hitler is dead, alright---but maybe not how we thought.

Some recent DNA testing has indicated that what was thought to be the skull of the Nazi dictator is, in fact, not.

Not Hitler's, but that of a woman, no less, probably no older than 40.

Hitler was presumed to have taken his life in 1945, along with mistress Eva Braun, when he was 56 years old.

University of Connecticut archaeologist and bone specialist Nick Bellantoni knew from the outset that something was amiss. "The bone seemed very thin; male bone tends to be more robust," he said. "And the sutures where the skull plates come together seemed to correspond to someone under 40." Hitler had turned 56 in 1945.

It's been universally accepted that Hitler took cyanide and then blew his brains out with a gun in his Berlin bunker as Allied forces closed in on him, with Braun replicating his actions on herself.

But scientists at UConn conducted tests on the bullet-pierced skull---which had been secretl…

Drive-Through

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They say you can't go back home again. That, and you can't go to the drive-in movies again. At least not with as much convenience.

They used to sprout all over the land---the drive-in movie theaters of America.

They died a slow death, the drive-ins did. Their big screens stood above the horizon like tombstones in a cemetery, unused and garish reminders of a day gone by. Then, even the tombstones got knocked down, leaving only weeds growing around the feet of the speaker stands.

There's a wonderful photo that first appeared in LIFE Magazine, taken in the 1950s when "The Ten Commandments" was a new release motion picture. The photo was shot with a wide-angle lens and showed a typical drive-in movie theater of the day.

Charlton Heston's Moses filled the huge screen, during the scene where he parts the Red Sea. In the foreground are all the cars---hundreds of them---parked, following the action.

The drive-in was THE place to be in the 1950s and '60s.

It was a place…

Gee, Gordon!

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It happened at a party, and the story isn't apocryphal. It's been confirmed by too many people.

The tough guy lawyer and former FBI man enthralled the guests as held his hand near an open flame. As people gasped, the tough guy drew his hand nearer to the flame.

So this man, once described by a former supervisor at the bureau as a "wild man"and "superklutz," kept his hand near the flame long enough until his flesh started to burn. Finally, he withdrew it.

Someone asked him what the trick was.

"The trick," Gordon Liddy said, "is not minding."

Today, Liddy is 78 and is still going strong, his radio show syndicated by over 160 stations across the country.

It's hard to imagine that the White House was once crawling with creeps like Liddy, though, back in the day.

Liddy was a New Jersey kid, from Hoboken---the town of Frank Sinatra. He was raised Catholic, and eventually entered the Army, serving during the Korean War. But a burst appendix kept h…

Papa John

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It's a toss-up, really, as to who is on the highest number of their nine lives right now: Danny Bonaduce or Mackenzie Phillips.

Danny---Big Red---can't have too many left. The child star from "The Partridge Family" has self-destructed more times than the tape recorder in "Mission: Impossible." But somehow he keeps rising.

Phillips, the child star from "One Day at a Time," has come out with some memoirs that claim she slept with her father, singer/performer John Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas.

It allegedly happened when Mac was 19, and on the cusp of her marriage, no less. She claims that her father wanted to prevent the wedding and went so far as to get her into a drug-induced stupor and have sex with her.

Believe me, it was far worse typing those words than it was for you to read them.

Phillips, like Bonaduce, has teetered and tottered on the brink of both career and physical demise more often than what is normally accepted by the gods of fate.

Dr…

DeLayed Reaction

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Tom DeLay is through as a lawmaker.

His political career cannot possibly continue. He's done, like dinner.

Grab the shovels and start pouring dirt over his metaphorical coffin.

DeLay, the former House Majority Leader, took his turn on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" last night and after viewing the two-and-a-half minute display, I can tell you that DeLay can never again run for political office.

I hope it was worth it.

We've elected a B-movie actor to the highest office in the world. A professional wrestler has become governor. Congress is filled with former entertainers and athletes. Same with city councils and state legislatures.

But after DeLay danced the cha cha with all the grace and finesse of a jackhammer last night, he can never again put a suit and tie on and act congressional.

It would be impossible to look at DeLay now with any degree of seriousness. He had his fun, which is fine, but it's a tit-for-tat thing.

Dance with the stars. Never show your face in W…

Movie Daze

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We had a thing about movies on TV in Detroit. Mainly, that we didn't always like to tune in to watch the movie itself.

Often it was the sideshow, the stuff between clips of celluloid, that drew us to the TV, back in the day.

There was The Ghoul on Saturday nights, and the sheer quality of the flicks that The Ghoul foistered on his viewers made you want to look away, until there was a break and it was time for The Ghoul, Froggy, and Cheez Whiz.

There was Rita Bell and her "Prize Movie," on in the mornings. Rita was a sweet lady (my wife once met her, working in the same building, and said she was very nice) who'd play a movie and then solicit phone calls in between, with lucky callers winning stuff.

Then there was Bill Kennedy.

Ole Bill, the former B-movie actor with the gravelly voice, which was made even croakier thanks to the cigarettes he chain-smoked on the air.

Bill Kennedy, who bellowed into the camera and sat behind a desk in front of faux bookcases. Sometimes Bill …

Pot Disses Kettle

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If George W. Bush thinks you're a nitwit, then what must that mean for you?

If the Republican party picks someone as a VP candidate that the sitting president of its own party finds laughable, then what does that say about the GOP?

Bush, it turns out, had some serious reservations about Sarah Palin's candidacy for vice president, as he learned about it last summer---according to sourced information that was recently released.

"Who is she, the Governor of Guam?," Bush was quoted as saying derisively as White House aides looked on, stunned.

"I might have met her once or twice before," the president said.

After joking, Bush then expressed sincere concern.

"This woman is being thrust into a position that she's not ready or prepared for," he said, according to the source. "Let's see her and her family after five days."

Whoa.

John McCain certainly doesn't have to run his VP choice by the sitting president for approval, but the comments by …

Murder in the Backyard

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Twenty-four years ago, I read a book and it scared me half to death. That's what'll happen, when you read about gruesome murders that took place right in your own backyard.

The book was titled "Michigan Murders," by Edward Keyes, and it chronicled---sometimes in gory detail---the killing spree of one John Norman Collins in and around Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti in the late-1960s.

Collins, who's still in prison up in Marquette, was only convicted of one of the murders---that of Karen Sue Beineman---but it's widely believed that Collins was responsible for the deaths of up to six girls, mostly college students from Eastern Michigan University.

What made the book so stark in its reality was that I was foolish enough to read it while attending EMU, in my senior year.

Many of the events took place in Ypsilanti, near the EMU campus, and Keyes describes them in detail---sometimes with addresses---so it was damn near impossible not to get the creeps reading it, considering I…

A New Low

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I try to avoid writing about sports here, because I have other venues for that kind of stuff.

But then again, this isn't really about sports today. It's about common decency---and an ill-conceived idea for a sports column.

Mark Whicker is a sports columnist for the Orange County Register, and he needs a spanking. Some would say he needs a lot worse than that, and I can't say that I blame them.

Whicker apparently has never heard of the old equation, "Comedy= Tragedy + Time."

And no, this isn't about 9/11, despite today's date.

Whicker wrote a column the other day, making light of the 18 years lost by Jaycee Dugard, the young woman who was held captive and forced to bear children.

And yes, he was making light of it, despite his "apology" and anything he goes on record saying.

The column ticked off a laundry list of news events in the sports world that Jaycee has missed, in light of being a prisoner for 18 years.

As if she---or her family---gives a rat'…

GPS=Getting Pretty Silly

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Where is America going that we need so many directions?

GPS systems/devices are all the rage. Smart-as-whips gizmos that tell us when to turn left or right, how far it is to our destination, and even suggesting possible shortcuts.

It's becoming a status symbol of the 21st century---whether or not you have one of these electronic navigators in your vehicle. I've seen grown men bursting at the seams about their GPS systems.

Where is everyone going, that they don't know how to get there?

I don't know about you, but I pretty much always know where everything is, when it comes to where I venture on a normal basis.

The Target. The mall. The grocery store. The ballpark, on occasion. My mother's house. The movie theater.

McDonald's. The local Thai joints. Suzy's Party Store. CVS. The race track, on occasion.

Another mall. A friend's house. The pharmacy for our dog's meds. The 7-Eleven.

Yeah, I can make it to all these places---and more!!---without the computer ridi…

Pupil Haze

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The day after Labor Day. Time for those three little words.

Back to school.

Three words that inspire either angst or elation---or retail dollar signs, depending on your perspective.

Back to school.

Another school year has officially begun---some districts began before Labor Day---and with it comes nine more months of the unknown.

For the parents of a 16-year-old girl---that would include my wife and me---the next nine months are likely to be a roller coaster ride.

Driver's ed somewhere out on the horizon. Boys. Teachers. Catty girls. Homework up the ying-yang (and if you've ever had homework up the ying-yang, you know how painful that can be).





Back to school.

The alarm clock gets set again for 6:00 a.m. Another nine months of trying to get the kids to eat breakfast---you'll even settle for cold pizza from the fridge if that's the ticket. Our daughter's stomach doesn't open for business in the wee hours, so we're thinking about buying her an IV. (Just kidding, honey…

Jerry's Angry Kids

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We're coming up on another Labor Day, and another chance for Jerry Lewis to trot out his wheelchair-bound kids and put on his annual pity party.

And I have just put the feelings, into words, of those who aren't enamored with Lewis's annual telethons---which includes those afflicted with the very disease that Lewis aims to fund every September.

It came to light about a decade or so ago, when the folks who were advocates for those with Muscular Dystrophy began to look cross-eyed at Lewis and his telethons. He may have been well-meaning, they said, but his presentation ran counter-productive to what those advocates believed in---namely, that people with MD can lead lives with impact.

But Lewis didn't seem to understand that notion. Never one to be accused of subtlety, Jerry Lewis unsurprisingly went the maudlin route, and portrayed the kids with MD as being "half" of everyone else, due to their disability.


Jerry Lewis, with one of those whose type he's described…

Hold the Sugar

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Quick---someone check Coleman Young's grave for signs of spinning.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing trudged over to the Oakland County Board of Commissioners meeting Wednesday and told the leaders there---plus state politicos who showed up---that his city is broke, which isn't news to anyone who's been half paying attention.

Bing appeared and all but plunged his hands inside his pants pockets and turned them inside out in front of everyone in attendance.

See? No moolah.

"Detroit needs Oakland County," Bing said. "Detroit needs Macomb. Detroit needs Wayne County."

Can you imagine Hizzoner, Young, doing such a thing?

Of course, no matter what you think of Young---Detroit's mayor from 1973-93---he never presided over a city that was in the financial straits that Motown finds itself in currently.

Bing's visit to the Oakland County Commission was the first, according to today's Detroit Free Press, since Kwame Kilpatrick's about five years ago. But, the Freep…

Oh, Stop!

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Since when is it merely a suggestion that folks actually stop at a stop sign?

Actually, it's not so much a suggestion anymore as a punch line.

STOP

Ha-ha! You're killing me!

I walk our Jack Russell Terrier several times a day thanks to his tiny little colon and his refusal to soil our backyard. So I pass a whole lot of stop signs in our neighborhood, many of which are routinely ignored or barely noticed.

It's something I notice while behind the wheel, as well.

The stop sign is becoming more and more disrespected as a rule of the road, and I'm dying to find out why.

There are some, no doubt, who are dying, period---due to the ignoring of this driving rule staple.

Now, do I come to a complete stop every time I encounter one of those red octagonal signs? I must tell the truth and say no. But nor do I cruise through them, barely tapping my brakes. I come to a virtual stop---meaning that, looking at my car from the outside, you'd likely see my tires rolling forward ever so slig…