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Showing posts from October, 2012

Extortion for Fun

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I was never a Halloween guy, as a kid. I could take it or leave it as a youngster. Too much effort, I suppose.

I never knew what I was going to dress up like, or even if I was going to go door-to-door at all, until sometimes hours before sundown on October 31.

One year, I recall, I was particularly tardy with my decision. I was planning on staying in, passing out candy, when I got a phone call from a friend. It was dusk, at the very least, when the phone rang in our Livonia home.

"You going baggin'?" was the question. It was my friend, Bob Bernard, who lived a couple blocks away and who I never had gone Trick or Treating with prior to that year. I still don't know what prompted the call. It wasn't that Bob and I weren't friends; we just weren't very close. Certainly not "baggin'" close. Or so I thought.

I initially rebuffed his request, but he pressed me.

"I don't have a costume," I pleaded. It fell on deaf ears.

I hung up, scr…

Bye, George

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Was George McGovern the worst presidential candidate to come from the two major parties, in history?

You could make a case for it. 
Not that any Democrat would have defeated Dick Nixon in 1972, all of the president's dirty tricks notwithstanding. 
Yet somehow McGovern, the senator from South Dakota who passed away last week, became the Democrat nominee in '72, when there were better and more appealing men available.
It wasn't just that McGovern was more left than a freeway's fast lane shoulder. The times were kinda, sorta, right for a left-winger such as McGovern to run for president. There was the Vietnam War, for one; McGovern was a famous opposer of the war. 
But the Democrats didn't need to go so left of center to have a shot against Nixon, even with the war raging on. 
Part of the blame could be laid at the feet of Lyndon Johnson.
It was LBJ who shocked the nation by not seeking re-election in 1968, after pretty much trouncing the hawk Barry Goldwater in 1964.…

On the Record

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There's an episode in one of my favorite TV comedy series of all time, Everybody Loves Raymond, where Ray Barone's dad, Frank, chastises his son for ruining (accidentally) dad's jazz album collection when Raymond was a youngster. Seems Ray moved the albums to make room for his new Hot Wheels car track, received for Christmas. Unfortunately, Raymond moved the albums next to the furnace. You can imagine what happened to them.

So Ray tries to make up for the lost music by replacing as many of the albums as he can, with CD versions. He professes to have visited a bunch of independent music stores in his effort to replace the albums.

Frank is skeptical of the discs and won't even listen to them, which frustrates Raymond. Finally, Raymond basically forces his dad to listen to the discs by having them in a portable CD player, ready to go, when his parents return from a shopping trip. They enter the home, Raymond hits the remote button, and the jazz fills the house, loudly.

Bu…

Boss Romney

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Leave it to an old Wayne State guy to cut to the chase.

James Lipton, who's so much more than just the host of Bravo's "Inside the Actors Studio," was on Chris Matthews' MSNBC show last night. And the former Wayne State attendee (he received an honorary doctorate from WSU in 2002) boiled the presidential election down to this.

"The choice is clear," Lipton said. "Do you want a president, or a boss?"

Lipton was asked to give his impressions of the performances of Mitt Romney and President Obama at Tuesday's debate, from the perspective of someone who is very used to critiquing on-screen, on-stage bits.

Lipton felt that Romney was every bit the CEO and Obama every bit the statesman.

"Romney is that boss who tells bad jokes to his employees and waits for everyone to laugh," Lipton said. And, "He's very used to getting his way."

Lipton thought that Romney was less-than-deferential to the president, particularly when Rom…

Just Marie

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The cake would hold 53 candles if it could, or if the recipient would allow it.

The say there's a light on Broadway for every broken heart. In Marie Osmond's case, there might be a candle on her birthday cake for every heartache.

Not literally, of course. Marie, the kewpie doll, only girl of the Osmond entertainment clan, turns 53 tomorrow. She hasn't had 53 heartaches, though sometimes it has seemed like it.

An entertainer entertains. Period. It's what they do. The show must go on and all that rot. Marie Osmond is a shining example of that adage.

It hasn't always been easy to keep smiling and keep knocking them dead on stage for Osmond, who's back on the airwaves with Marie, a variety show that debuted October 1 on the Hallmark Channel.

You can't keep a good girl down.

You can say the odds were always with her. And you can also say that the odds were always against her. Depends on how you look at it.

For being the only girl among a gaggle of boys, in a fam…

Clara, Meet Big Bird

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Clara Peller was a retired manicurist who found fame after the age of 80, in early 1984, when she barked out three words that became a national catch phrase. Then the phenomenon dovetailed into the 1984 presidential campaign, and Clara enjoyed a new wave of popularity.

You never know who will be plucked from obscurity or the recesses of our consciousness when it's an election year.

In 1984 it was Peller, who famously and angrily asked, "Where's the beef?' in a Wendy's commercial mocking competitors who rely on big buns and not-so-big hamburger patties.

It didn't take long before we were all saying, "Where's the beef?" in a variety of situations. It started on TV, of course, and then filtered its way to the water coolers and barber shops.

The commercial hit the airwaves in January, 1984 and a few months later it got a second jolt of awareness when, in the Democratic presidential primaries, Walter Mondale used the catch phrase as a way of attacking…

Nobama

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The clothes had no emperor---or president.

It was a vanishing act of the most extreme. Someone start rolling milk cartons off the presses with the president's mug on them.

"Have you seen me?"

Mitt Romney is a magician. He walked on stage at the University of Denver last night, opened his mouth, and made Barack Obama disappear.

Obama, for his part, did some "Abracadabra" of his own---by making Romney's baggage go away, just like that. Someone check back stage for an albatross slithering away, freed from Romney's neck.

Last night's presidential debate was made out to be Muhammad Ali vs. Chuck Wepner, redux. The challenger didn't have a chance to touch the champ, right? Obama was going to wipe the floor with the former Massachusetts governor.

But unlike the Ali-Wepner bout, which featured the overmatched challenger Wepner hanging tough by showing he could take the pounding of a lifetime from champion Ali, it was the champ/president who entered the …

The Voice(s) of Treason?

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The good news about Seth MacFarlane as the host of the Oscars telecast is that the producers can save a ton of money.

MacFarlane, he of many voices and characters, isn't just one man. He's his own talent pool. He's an R-rated Mel Blanc.

It was announced Monday that MacFarlane, creator of the popular animated TV series "Family Guy," and the source for many of the show's voices, will host the 2013 Oscars telecast.

Who needs Steve Martin or Billy Crystal? They're one trick ponies (or, one pony each, anyway), while MacFarlane will never run out of voices and characters, not even during Oscar's sometimes interminable telecasts.

MacFarlane doesn't just do voices. He does TV shows---as in he produces them. Besides "Family Guy," MacFarlane has his fingers in the pies of "American Dad!" and "The Cleveland Show" (all animated).

The hiring of MacFarlane signals an attempt by Oscars producers to go after a younger, more hip demog…