The Great Pumpkin Is Filthy, Charlie Brown!!

gpump1ABC recently aired the 50th Anniversary edition of It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!, the classic Peanuts animated special that debuted in 1966. My trick-or-treating days ended many years ago and I’m not really into horror movies, but The Great Pumpkin is a Halloween tradition that has my full support.

 

I am sure that anyone with a pulse is familiar with the gist of the storyline so I’ll skip reviewing the gpump3details. However, allow me to point out that for many years the show that we’ve enjoyed watching each October is NOT the one originally broadcast in 1966. Network television routinely edits the broadcast, presumably to squeeze in an extra commercial or two. My innate idealism still occasionally pops up, so I thought that may be…just maybe…the program would air unedited in celebration of the Big 50. No such luck.

 

gpump6There are two scenes from the original that are usually cut. The first is an iconic interaction between Charlie Brown and Lucy Van Pelt where he naïvely thinks that THIS is the year that he is FINALLY going to kick that football. Of course malevolent little Lucy pulls the ball yet again and ol’ Chuck ends up flat on his back. The second deleted scene takes place at the kids’ Halloween party after Lucy has gone bobbing for apples and instead ends up with a mouthful of Snoopy. Snoopy goes over to Schroeder and the young piano virtuoso gpump11proceeds to play a set of World War 1 era songs, including It’s a Long Way to Tipperary & Roses of Picardy, which make Snoopy, who of course is dressed as a WW1 flying ace, very emotional.

 

gpump8After watching ABC’s broadcast and being disappointed that they couldn’t even show the program in its full & original form on its 50th anniversary I decided it was time to utilize modern technology. A couple of years ago I purchased one of those streaming stick players. What is really cool about it is that when I search for a movie or TV show it is almost always available from one of several services…Netflix, Vudu, Amazon, and a few other choices. However, upon searching for It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! I found that it was not available from any of the familiar suspects, but could be rented from a company I’d never heard of before called VidAngel.

 

VidAngel is a relatively new option launched in 2014. It allows viewers to filter out things like nudity, violence, & profanity from what may gpump13otherwise be a perfectly entertaining show/movie. It’s actually a really cool idea. For example, if you are watching Titanic with your young teenager but don’t want him to get an eyeful of Kate Winslet’s ample bosom then you can just edit that scene out. Or perhaps you’d really like to share your love of gangster flicks with a new girlfriend who’s a little squeamish. Just edit all of the violence. Now the other unique thing about VidAngel is that you actually “buy” the movie for $20 but after you’re done watching sell it back for $18, which means that it is ultimately a $2 rental. I am sure there are legitimate reasons for this approach, but exploration of the business model is not my current focus.

 

gpump12So, you would think that there wouldn’t be anything objectionable to be edited from The Great Pumpkin, right?? Well…much to my surprise that assumption is wrong. Way wrong. Apparently this sweet & innocent little animated special many of us have been watching annually all of our lives is potentially as offensive & depraved as a snuff film or anything ever made by Quentin Tarantino. Who knew??

 

VidAngel’s menu lists 64 possible filters for The Great Pumpkin. 64!! For a show that runs less than a half hour!! These potential pitfalls of gpump10profanity are listed under headings like Crude Language, Violence/Blood/Gore, Disturbing Images, & Sexual References. Sex?? In The Great Pumpkin?!?!? Charlie Brown is more of a rebel than I ever dreamed!! Now, the catch to VidAngel is that they assume you’ve decided to use their service for a reason, so you MUST select atleast one filter. How ironic that my whole purpose was to watch the program unedited but then being forced to make an edit.

 

Amused more than annoyed, I began to look at the filter menu. Among the possible choices of scenes to be cut:

            * ”A boy questions another boy’s belief in Santa Claus”

            * “A boy is cold & chatters his teeth”

            * Use of “crude” language like blockhead, stupid, & doomed

            * “A girl offends an animal”

            * “A girl stares at a boy”

            * “Gunshots & explosions are heard”

            * “An animal cries”

Ultimately I chose the most unobtrusive filter I could find, which was “several skeletons are seen”, which I knew comes during the opening credits. It shaved 4 seconds off the show, but I was able to enjoy Charlie Brown whiffing on kicking the football and Schroeder’s nimble piano skills.

 

As I said, I think VidAngel is a good concept. The world would be a better place without all of the vulgarity that has become such a pervasive gpump9presence on the pop culture landscape. Unfortunately our society has become anesthetized to so much of that. However, it is hilariously disturbing when we can take innocuous entertainment like It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! and pick the bones of its innocence clean thru the prism of political correctness. Perhaps we need to pump the brakes a bit. Happy Halloween Manoverse!!

2016 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 9

pfootIt wasn’t my intention to do bonus picks again so soon, but both the college & NFL schedules are chockful of intriguing matchups and I just can’t resist. Last week was a rough one for yours truly, as I could only muster a record of 1-4, while Zach fared a little better at 2-3. Obviously neither of us have a bright future in the prognostication arts, but we’ll have fun trying.

My Season:        22-24

Z’s Season:        16-31

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California                     at                USC (-15.5)

The Bears come into this game 4-3, but it must be noted that two of those losses were by 5 points or less, and they’ve split the last two games in overtime. Meanwhile,cal the Trojans have an identical 4-3 record but are riding a three game winning streak. This is a Thursday night contest, and while it is a home game for Southern Cal the 2 TD+ spread seems a bit much. I think it’ll be closer and Zach agrees.

My Pick:     California

Z’s Pick:     California

 

 

Michigan (-24)             at                Michigan St.

A year ago the Spartans escaped with a thrilling last second victory after a touchdown on a fumbled punt. But that team was undefeated and would go on to play in the national Michigan_State_Spartansplayoff semifinal. In 2016 the tables have been turned. The Wolverines are undefeated and ranked #2 in the country while State has lost five straight to stand at 2-5. I am not quite sure what has happened in East Lansing outside of the normal ebb & flow of players graduating & new ones stepping up take those spots, but obviously things have taken a bad turn. Conversely, Jim Harbaugh has coached his alma mater back to relevancy much quicker than I anticipated, although few are really shocked that they have been successful. I’d be surprised if the favorites lost, but I’d be almost as surprised if Sparty didn’t show some pride in defending their home field. Zach is a big Michigan fan but he agrees.

My Pick:     Michigan St.

Z’s Pick:     Michigan St.

 

 

Baylor (-3)          at                Texas

I thought that it’d be Baylor having a rough year given their…eventful…offseason, while Texas would show some life with Charlie Strong’s job on the line. However the bayloropposite has happened thus far. The Bears are 6-0 and have barely been tested. The Longhorns are 3-4 and probably already have a list of candidates to replace Strong. I’d LOVE to pick the upset…but I just can’t pull the trigger, even with the game being played in Austin. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Baylor

Z’s Pick:     Baylor

 

 

Washington (-10)       at                Utah

utah2The Huskies are a very quiet 7-0, ranked 4th in the polls, & look like a solid playoff team unless they stumble down the stretch. Could that washington2misstep come against the 7-1 Utes in Salt Lake City?? I think it is possible. At the very least I am uncomfortable with a double digit point spread.  Zach has no issues with the spread. He thinks it’ll be close for three quarters but Washington will take over in the end.

My Pick:     Utah

Z’s Pick:     Washington

 

 

Nebraska           at                Wisconsin (-8.5)

nebraskaThis is the prime time game on ESPN Saturday night. The Huskers have rather quietly amassed a perfect 7-0 record, while the Badgers have lost WisconsinBadgerstwice…to Michigan & Ohio St….nothing to be ashamed about. Wisconsin gets the home field bump, which is understandable. But are the points too much?? I think they might be. Zach thinks Nebraska is overrated and he likes Wisconsin’s defense.

My Pick:     Nebraska

Z’s Pick:     Wisconsin

 

 

Clemson (-4.5)            at                Florida St.

Florida_State_SeminolesBefore the season began this game looked like it could decide a playoff spot. Unfortunately the Seminoles have dropped a couple of games and clemsonare unlikely to re-enter the playoff conversation. However the Tigers, despite a few close shaves, remain undefeated and very much in the playoff hunt. As much as I’d love to stick with my pre-season choice and pick Clemson The Vibes are reminding me that this game is in Tallahassee, that Florida St. is still a very good team, & that Clemson has been on the cusp of losing a couple of times and their luck can’t run on forever. Zach believes the Seminoles will put up a good fight but Clemson will be too much in the 4th quarter.

My Pick:     Florida St.

Z’s Pick:     Clemson

 

 

Kansas City (-2.5)      at                Indianapolis

The Chiefs were one of my pre-season Super Bowl picks, but thus far they are an underwhelming 4-2 and trailing both the Raiders & Broncos in the AFC West. The kc-chiefs-logoColts aren’t much better. At 3-4 they still have a chance to win their division as I predicted only because the Texans aren’t very good. It is interesting that Indy is a home underdog. If the folks in Vegas aren’t going to respect them why should I?? Zach likes the Chiefs to outcoach the opponent and snag a victory.

My Pick:     Kansas City

Z’s Pick:     Kansas City

 

 

Oakland             at                Tampa Bay (-1.5)

The Raiders have been fairly impressive in what seems to be the culmination of a decade long rebuild, leading their division at 5-2. The Bucs have been…alright. They raidersare 3-3 and occasionally show flashes of…something. Whatever it is they aren’t there yet and Oakland is ahead of their progress by a country mile. Zach notes that Tampa has suffered some key injuries and thinks the Raiders will be a playoff team.

My Pick:     Oakland

Z’s Pick:     Oakland

 

 

Arizona               at                Carolina (-2.5)

Many pundits thought the Cards were a Super Bowl favorite this season, but so far they’ve looked rather mediocre. The Panthers have been even worse, following in the footsteps of other Super Bowl losers of the past by stinking up the joint the following year. I have no idea what the problem is, but it is irrefutable that a problem exists.nflarizonacardinals Carolina is probably already out of playoff contention, but Arizona can still recover and win their division. This looks like a tossup on paper, but I’m gonna go with the visiting underdogs. Zach agrees. He likes the Cardinals’ defense to lead them to victory.

My Pick:     Arizona

Z’s Pick:     Arizona

TAGS Episode Guide: Ranking (Not Quite) Every Episode of One of America’s Most Beloved TV Shows…Part 4

Welcome back!! If you haven’t already done so please go back and check out Parts 1, 2, & 3.

 

barnthelI want to take a moment to address an elephant in the room. Obviously with this project we are ranking only episodes in the first five seasons of floydTAGS. It’s not that I don’t enjoy some things from the last few years of the show. There are quite a few entertaining episodes, such as Malcolm at the Crossroads when Englishman Malcolm Merriweather tangles with Ernest T. Bass. Or Aunt Bea on TV, when Aunt Bea wins a bunch of prizes on a game show and becomes a bit too haughty about it. And how about The Battle of Mayberry, when Opie researches a famous Revolutionary War skirmish & exposes the hidden truth, or Opie’s Piano Lesson, when the boy has to decide between piano lessons & football. There are also a few return  gp2visits from Barney Fife, episodes that snagged Don Knotts two additional Emmy Awards. Having said all that, it is undeniable that TAGS lost a otis4lot of its magic when Knotts departed his regular role and the show switched to color technology, events that happened to coincide. When I am channel surfing and run across a black & white episode I almost always stop and watch. If it’s a color episode?? Well…then it’s a tossup. Maybe I’ll watch, maybe I won’t. Your mileage may vary and that’s okay.

 

 

 

 

 

75     Back to Nature  (S4E31)

Andy, Barney, & Gomer take Opie and some other boys on a camping trip. Opie wanders off to pick some berries and Andy goes to find him. Instead of staying with the btnother youngsters Barney & Gomer also go looking for Opie and manage to get themselves lost. Andy then goes in search of them, and as in numerous other situations, finds a way to spare Barney’s fragile ego and make him look like much more of a rugged outdoorsman than he really is. Really funny stuff from Gomer & Barney.

 

 

74     Mountain Wedding             (S3E31)

Charlene Darling is set to wed Dud Walsh, but wild man Ernest T. Bass has taken a shine to Charlene and wants her for himself. Andy & Barney are recruited to help  mtnwedddeal with Bass, who keeps throwing rocks thru the Darlings’ windows. Andy devises a ruse in which Ernest T. thinks he’s kidnapping Charlene, but it is actually Barney in drag. This is the first appearance of Ernest T. and the only episode in which he & the Darlings appear together. It’s always funny when Barney dresses up like a woman.

 

 

73     Runaway Kid (S1E6)

After Opie tattles on his friends for a practical joke they played on Andy the sheriff proceeds to teach the lad about the importance of keeping one’s word. However that lesson backfires when Opie befriends a young runaway and declines to reveal the boy’s real name so Andy can call his parents. All’s well that ends well though, as Andy gets the info when the case is reported by another police department. I adore father/son stuff with Andy & Opie, and Barney is pretty amusing as well.

 

 

72     Lawman Barney (S3E7)

Two farmers illegally selling produce on the side of the road ignore Barney’s orders to cease & desist. This blatant disrespect brings Barney down, and it’s up to Andy to lawmanbhelp him regain confidence. But after the two farmers learn that Andy’s tale about Barney being a badass is completely false they again defy the deputy’s orders. After a pep talk from Andy the deputy confronts the men a third time with genuine confidence and they respect his authority. Character actor Allen Melvin makes the third of eight TAGS appearances, this time as one of the quarrelsome farmers.

 

 

71     Andy the Matchmaker (S1E7)

At a crossroads in his life Barney tells Andy he is resigning from the police force. He feels bored & useless since there’s never any crime in Mayberry. In an effort to prop up Barney’s self-esteem so that he won’t quit and maybe even ask out a woman he’s sweet on Andy & Ellie make up a story about Walker’s Drug Store being robbed. However, much to their surprise the deputy actually arrests a stranger he suspects of the “robbery”. In a twist of fate the suspect, though obviously not guilty of the fake crime, is actually a wanted man in back in Chattanooga. Andy covertly doing things to boost Barney’s fragile ego is a tried & true TAGS staple.

 

 

70     Rafe Hollister Sings (S3E20)

As Barney is prepping for a tryout to represent Mayberry in some kind of regional choral concert farmer Rafe Hollister comes into the courthouse. It turns out that rafe5Hollister has a beautiful singing voice, and Andy encourages him to attend the auditions. Choir director John Masters chooses Rafe for a solo, but Mayor Stoner isn’t happy because the farmer’s appearance is rather unkempt & dingy. Andy tries to save the day by buying Rafe some new clothes, but they are way too small & tight. He ends up singing in his overalls but is nevertheless a fine representative of Mayberry at the concert. This is the final series appearance for both Mayor Stoner & Rafe Hollister.

 

 

69     Cyrano Andy (S1E22)

In the inaugural appearance of the lovely Thelma Lou things are a bit shaky because Barney, who we normally see exude a boastful cool with the ladies, is really uneasy around her and doesn’t know what to say or how to act. When Andy tries to help Barney misinterprets his actions and Thelma Lou decides to use the situation to make Barney jealous. Barney then hysterically hits on Ellie, and she plots to scare him away by actually responding to his advances. Andy tries the same tactic with Thelma Lou. Of course the ploy works and Barney & Thelma Lou find their way back to each other. This is a great episode that makes me sad that Ellie Walker didn’t stick around Mayberry for the long haul.

 

 

68     Three Wishes for Opie (S5E14)

Barney buys a fortune-telling game, and after the first two of the three wishes he grants Opie actually come true he mistakenly thinks Opie’s third wish is for Andy & Helen to wed. Of course the deputy gets overexcited and the rumor that Andy & Helen are getting married quickly spreads thru Mayberry, much to the chagrin of the sheriff. Floyd & Goober are also around to provide a laugh or two.

 

 

67     Mayberry on Record (S1E19)

A record producer comes to town looking to make a folk music album featuring local artists. As always the citizens get overly excited and agree to invest in the project. However, Andy thinks the guy may be a swindler. Eventually he is able to convince the others of this, but just as they are ready to hunt down the producer he returns with news that he has sold the record and made everybody who invested a nice profit. Future bluegrass stars The Kentucky Colonels appear in this episode.

 

 

66     Andy and Helen Have Their Day         (S5E13)

Andy & Helen want to have a nice, peaceful Saturday at Myers Lake. Unfortunately Barney keeps showing up to be a nuisance. When Andy is arrested by the gameah warden for fishing without a license he tries to call Barney to have him bring money for the fine, but Goober gets the call instead. Goober totally screws up the message Andy gives him, and Barney jumps to the conclusion that Andy & Helen are getting hitched…a mistake Barney makes often. This basic idea would be utilized again a couple of years later when Deputy Warren Ferguson & Goober keep interrupting Andy & Helen’s date at the lake.

 

 

65      Hot Rod Otis     (S4E19)

Andy & Barney become concerned when Otis buys a car. They come up with a hilarious ploy to fool Otis into thinking he died after he goes on one of his frequent benders and wakes up in jail. As it turns out Otis had come to his senses before he ever got drunk and actually sold the car. No one else besides Andy, Barney, & Otis are seen in this episode.

 

 

64     The Darling Baby (S5E12)

Charlene Darling & Dud Wash have had their first baby, a girl they name Andelina. Briscoe, Charlene, & the boys come to Mayberry seeking a future husband for the darlingbabynewborn, which is hysterically funny in a creepy sort of way. While jamming a bit with Andy at the Taylor homestead Briscoe gets the idea that Opie would make a great future husband for his granddaughter. Andy disagrees strongly, and Barney is around getting accidently snockered on hooch again. Andy eventually fools Mr. Darling by having Opie sign the betrothal “contract” with a disappearing ink pen, which the old man looks at as some kind of voodoo so he & his family leave as quick as they can. I have always thought that the 1986 TV movie Return to Mayberry missed out on a really cool nod to this episode by having Opie’s wife be a grown-up Andelina instead of some random woman the audience has no reason to care about.

 

 

63     A Plaque for Mayberry (S1E25)

The Women’s Historical Society deduces that a descendant of a Revolutionary War hero is living in Mayberry and want to present that person with an award. Much to the horror of Andy, Barney, & Mayor Pike the family member to be awarded turns out to be Otis Campbell. However Otis surprises them all when he shows up to the ceremony stone cold sober and all cleaned up. Otis decides to donate the award to the town, rightfully noting that just because a person’s ancestor was a hero doesn’t make them one, which is the most logical point of the entire plot.

 

 

62     Jailbreak (S2E18)

The state police are in town hunting down a thief and they arrogantly request that the local force…Andy & Barney…just stay out of the way. When the crook is caught he is temporarily housed in the jail and Barney stupidly allows him to escape. Andy & Barney deduce that the criminal & his gal pal partner are holed up at the local trailer park, and it seems that they have kidnapped the bigheaded state cop. Barney actually captures a perp legitimately with his quick thinking instead of the dumb luck that usually leads to his particular brand of heroism. Character actor Allen Melvin makes the first of eight TAGS appearances in this episode, and we also meet dry cleaner Fred Goss.

 

 

61     Aunt Bea the Crusader      (S4E15)

Andy & Barney must reluctantly run Mr. Frisby off of his chicken farm because the county is going to build a new highway. Aunt Bea & her lady friends are bcrusadehorrified and organize a protest. However in the midst of the standoff it is discovered that Frisby has a moonshine still in his basement and of course the ladies become angry that they were fighting for a lawbreaker.

 

 

60     Sheriff Barney (S2E12)

A neighboring town in need of a sheriff offers the gig to Barney after seeing a flattering newspaper article. Andy knows that Barney isn’t prepared for the job because sheriffin’ is different than deputyin’, and in an effort to teach Barney that lesson the two switch jobs for a day. After Andy is able to easily solve a dispute that Barney couldn’t between two farmers Barney gets down in the dumps, but Andy is able to reassure him by making Barney believe he has captured the most wanted man in the county, bootlegger Rafe Hollister. Full of bravado again Barney turns down the new job because Maybery needs him. There is a really funny scene with Barney trying to extract information out of a sleeping Otis. The town drunkard jokingly gives the address of his liquor supplier and it takes Barney a second to realize it is HIS address. Did you know that the address given…411 Elm St….is the same as the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas?? Now that might seem like some kind of morbid joke…except for the fact that this episode aired almost two years BEFORE the Kennedy assassination!! This episode marks the first of three appearances by Rafe Hollister, although the actor had previously been on three other episodes portraying different characters.

 

 

59     Otis Sues the County         (S5E15)

After Otis slips & falls at the jail Barney makes him fill out an accident report, but when the notary public at the bank isn’t around Otis has to take the paperwork to Mt. Pilot to have it notarized by an attorney. That lawyer is a shyster who convinces Otis to sue the county, persuading him that he’d actually be doing Andy & Barney a favor by assuring that the courthouse would receive needed renovations. At the hearing Otis remembers that he actually tripped over his own coat. Floyd is particular obtuse in this episode, to great comedic effect. There is a really funny scene involving Otis & Barney wherein the clueless deputy accidentally becomes intoxicated, something tha happens a few times over the years. The actor portraying the shady lawyer had previously played a thief on the show a few years earlier.

 

 

58     The Darlings Are Coming  (S3E25)

The Darling family came down from the mountains to visit Mayberry about a half dozen times, and this was the first. They are meeting the bus that is bringing darlings2Charlene’s fiancée Dud home from military service. In the meantime though they keep sneaking into the hotel and disturbing the peace with their music. There’s a lot of good singing in this episode. I wouldn’t have minded more appearances by the Darlings.

 

 

57     The Pageant  (S5E11)

Aunt Bea takes over the lead role of Lady Mayberry in the Founder’s Day play after Clara Edwards has to go out of town, pageantbut it turns out she’s a terrible actress. Andy is given the task of telling her about her…lack of ability…but he is spared when Clara returns sooner than expected and Aunt Bea willingly steps aside. Founder’s Day is a big deal in Mayberry, as it is celebrated or mentioned a few times over the years. I’m sure some modern touchy-feely folks may get their knickers twisted about Andy & Barney’s portrayal of Indians, but political correctness wasn’t the cancer fifty years ago that it has become.

 

 

56     The Rumor  (S4E29)

Barney misinterprets a PDA between Andy & Helen that just so happens to occur in a jewelry store. He quickly convinces Thelma Lou & Aunt Bea that the couple are engaged, which of course they aren’t. Practically the whole town bucks up for a surprise party & gift, which in this case is a redecorated bedroom befitting a married couple. When Andy breaks the news that there is no engagement folks are disappointed but stick around for a party anyway. Barney trying to push Andy into marriage or jumping to the conclusion that he is about to get married is a storyline that is used multiple times throughout the show’s run, and it’s almost always sweet & funny.

 

 

55     Opie’s Fortune (S5E9)

After Opie finds a change purse containing $50 Andy tells the boy he can have the money…if no one has claimed it in one week. Immediately after the deadline a man comes forward claiming the lost loot, but Andy doesn’t have the heart to disappoint Opie. However Opie finds out anyway and, in one of those classic mix-ups between father & son, Andy thinks Opie is hurrying to spend the cash when in reality he is preparing to give it back to its rightful owner. Father/son stuff between Andy & Opie is always poignant, a stark contrast to so many of the dysfunctional relationships we see portrayed on television these days.

 

 

54     Up in Barney’s Room                   (S4E10)

Barney is evicted from Mrs. Mendelbright’s boarding house after he breaks her strict rule against cooking in his room. But when Andy & Barney hear that the landlady barnroomis about to sell everything and run off with a new beau they smell a rat. It turns out that the guy is a con man out to scam the old lady. They save her, Barney profusely apologizes for breaking the rules, and she agrees to take him back & maybe ease up just a little. This in the only episode with Mrs. Mendelbright, who was portrayed by the same actress who was the first to ever portray Tarzan’s Jane, in a 1918 silent film. Barney gets gooned on hard cider, and it’s always funny when Deputy Fife accidently becomes intoxicated.

 

 

53     A Feud Is a Feud (S1E9)

In a nod to Romeo & Juliet Andy tries to end a long running feud between two families who have offspring that want to get married. The feud has been going so long feudthat neither family patriarch even knows what they’re fighting about. Andy does his patented reverse psychology thing by trying to get the two old men to duel each other, but it turns out that both are spineless cowards and that no one in either family has ever been hurt or killed during the alleged feud. All’s well that ends well when the two youngsters tie the knot. Hearing Andy break down Shakespeare for Opie in his down-to-earth homespun way is one of the highlights of the entire series.

 

 

52     Man in the Middle      (S5E7)

Barney & Thelma Lou get into an argument & break up, only to reconcile the next day. But an offhand comment by Andy (that he didn’t even say) when trying to console Barney explodes into a mess of quarrels among Andy, Barney, Thelma Lou, & Helen. The foursome are the only characters in the episode, which is almost Shakespearean in the way that things get misconstrued & spiral out of control amongst the characters. The infamous night filter is used again, which thru the prism of modern technology looks really silly, although I’m sure 50 years ago few even noticed.

 

 

51     Ellie Comes to Town (S1E4)

When pharmacist Fred Walker falls ill his young niece Ellie arrives to run the drug store. She’s a bit uptight and doesn’t immediately get how things work in Mayberry, ellie3for example Andy having a key to the store and helping himself to what Aunt Bea needs. There’s also local hypochondriac Emma Brand (later Watson), who demands her pills sans prescription and requests Ellie’s arrest when she doesn’t acquiesce. Despite Ellie’s…rigidity…there is definitely a spark between her & Andy, and the two would go on to become a couple soon enough. She is one of my favorite Andy girlfriends. Emma is one of those delightfully quirky characters that only made a handful of appearances but makes an indelible impression. There’s also some adorableness from Opie here, and that’s always fun.

 

 

 

 

Let’s take a timeout. We’ll be back!!

Rules of Adulthood

thinkAn old schoolmate of mine recently posted an article about rules of adulthood that everyone needs to know. It was specifically targeted toward men, but in looking over the list I think it contains a lot of good advice for everyone. So I thought it might be fun to review each item here and add my own pithy comments. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

If you don’t understand something, ask before it’s too late.

No one wants to look stupid, but it’s okay not to know everything. There is nothing wrong with getting clarification on something or asking for guidance. It’s far wiser to honestly say “I don’t know” instead of faking your way thru something until you get caught…and you WILL get caught.

 

Quit multi-tasking.

Ehhh…I’m not sure about that. I mean I get it. Sometimes we need to focus on something exclusively and get it done. “Busyness” is a social mtaskconvention designed to make people look more important than they are. But sometimes it is necessary to multitask.

 

Be less judgmental.

I’m mostly on board, although it is occasionally necessary to call people out on their BS.

 

Staying angry or holding a grudge is almost always a waste of energy.

Thankfully I’ve always been like my father – unable to remain angry with anyone for long. Except the Atlanta Braves & New England Patriots. I still hate those bastards.

 

Eat better, exercise regularly, sleep more.

I’d be so much better off if I’d follow that advice. Most of us probably would.sleep3

 

Go outside every day.

Sadly I don’t do that. Especially in the winter I tend to hibernate as much as possible because I do NOT like cold & snow. I’m pretty sure I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. But even in warmer autumn-park-sunshine-1600x1200weather I too often stay holed up in The Bachelor Palace reading a book & hanging out with Rocco. It’s not that I’m antisocial, it’s just that stupid people annoy me.

 

Use your minutes mindfully. The average male gets 37,843,200 total minutes in his lifetime. Do you really want to spend them on Snapchat?

I’ve never been on Snapchat, but we could all probably stand to make better use of time. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean that chillin’ out and enjoying some frivolous fun is wrong. Perhaps those than enjoy Snapchat or whatever else don’t consider it a waste of time at all.

 

Deal with uncomfortable situations sooner rather than later.

Easier said than done, but great advice. Face things. You’ll feel better afterward.

 

Your home is your castle. Keep your castle clean.

I’m not going to tell you that my humble abode would pass a white glove test 365 days a year, but in comparison to some homes I’ve been in I feel cleanpretty good about my place. Some people live like pigs. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” isn’t in the Bible, but it’s a good maxim to adhere to.

 

It’s okay to go to dinner or the movies by yourself.

YES!! I’m single. I spend a lot of time alone and I’m perfectly okay with that. There’s nothing wrong with spending time with yourself. Hey, you dinnernever know when you might get an opportunity to flirt with a cute waitress.

 

If it takes two minutes or less do it now.

I’m a procrastinator. I’ve been meaning to do something about that for years.

 

Pick up a book every once in a while.

Well, as my friend The Owl might say, I live in a freakin’ library. I love to read, although I do too often get sidetracked by other things.read

 

Learn to give thoughtful gifts.

I can’t pinpoint an exact moment in time, but at some point in my life I began to enjoy watching other people open their Christmas gifts more than I like opening my own. It really is better to give than receive, and the thought really does count. People can usually tell if you actually put some serious contemplation into what you bought them or if you just picked up something cheap at the last minute, and they WILL appreciate the former much more than the latter.

 

Set goals. Write them down. Track your progress. Adjust accordingly.

Fantastic advice in theory, but I’m not sure how many people really do it in real life.

 

What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while. Build beneficial habits.

Good habits > Bad habits

 

Everything you do makes an impression.

You never know who is watching.

 

Gratitude is a powerful response to most situations in life.

Gratitude is learned. Sometimes you have to experience valleys to really appreciate the good things.gratitude

 

Don’t aim for perfection at the expense of beginning. You’ll never complete a novel if you’re afraid to write the first word.

Ain’t that the truth!! The longest journey begins with the first step.

 

Don’t expect closure. It’s an added bonus.

There’s a great episode of The Big Bang Theory where Amy Farrah Fowler calls Sheldon Cooper out on his obsessive need for closure. However, the fact is that we don’t always get it. Sometimes we are left wondering. Deal with it and move on.

 

Know at least one good joke.

Or several. Having a good sense of humor is a fantastic trait.party

 

Pick up the tab when it’s your turn.

Don’t be a cheapskate. No one likes a cheapskate.

 

Take more chances.

A wise man once told me that a ship is safest in harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for. Sadly this is advice that I have not followed in my out-on-a-limb1life. I have been too scared to really venture out on a limb, and to some degree it has ruined my life.

 

Put your phone away. Be present in your conversations (and everything else you do).

Technology rocks, but I do think it can have a negative effect on how we interact with people. Perhaps it’s a Pandora’s Box and we’ll never be as good as we once were at interpersonal relationships.

 

Maintain and cherish your friendships. Good ones are harder to come by the older you get.

My father has always told me that if you can hold up one finger and say you have that many TRUE friends you are a very blessed. I’m glad to say bowlthat I think I have a few, and I do appreciate them very much.

 

Be nice for no reason.

Yep. It’s a lot more fun being nice when you possibly can.

 

Living in the moment and planning for the future are not mutually exclusive.

Truth. Both are important.

 

Know when to leave.

It’s an art form.guy-waving-bye-md

 

Wear the right amount of cologne.

A little goes along way, assuming you are using a good fragrance. Don’t be cheap, but neither do you need to spend hundreds of colognedollars.

 

Don’t take credit for work you didn’t do.

It’s called honor & integrity. Extremely important.

 

Don’t fight or break up via email, text, or social media.

Do people really do that?? Really?? How rude!!

Talk to people who are different from you.

Hey, you might actually meet some cool people and learn a few things. It’s a win/win.different

 

You can never change another person, only support them when they’re ready to change themselves.

YES!! This includes changing their minds. Don’t beat your head against a brick wall. Just do your thing and lead by example. They’ll figure it out…or they won’t.

 

It’s ok to ask for directions.

Or you could waste valuable time going in circles. Your call. GPS makes things so much easier.directions

 

If you never fail, you’re not trying hard enough or taking big enough risks.

Take a chance. Roll the dice. You’ll crash & burn sometimes, but even then you’ll learn something.

 

Measure yourself only against the person you used to be.

My father says that if you are a better person today than you were yesterday, and improve tomorrow over today, then you’ve done well. We spend too much time comparing ourselves to neighbors, family members, old classmates, & idiotic celebrities. Just stop. Who the hell are these people that think the Kardashians are role models?? That’s….I don’t even know. I have no words.

 

Give every job your all, even if you think it’s insignificant. There’s no point in doing something if you won’t do it well.

Do it for your own self-respect. Do it for The Lord.

 

Restock the fridge and household supplies before they run out.

I love shopping. I hate running out of milk & trash bags. Go to the store. Just do it.grocery

 

Refuse to let your imagination die.

Imagination rocks!! Never let go of childlike wonder. We get too caught up in the foolishness & antagonism of the world, and imaginationsometimes it is unavoidable…but avoid it as much as possible. Read a book. Play an instrument. Watch a movie. Spend time with your kids. Learn to cook or paint. Have some fun.

 

You are who you hang out with. Surround yourself with people who inspire you and help you grow.

You’ve heard that old saying “you are what you eat”, right?? Same thing. You can’t hang out with hoodlums, jerks, & morons and expect to be successful or happy. Have you ever noticed that when someone gets in trouble inevitably someone will say that they “got in with the wrong crowd”?? I’m all for personal responsibility, but there is a lot of truth in the idea that others can drag a person down.

Appreciate your family and friends. There’s no telling how much time you have left with them.

This especially true with parents & grandparents. I’m 44 years old and all my grandparents are gone. I lost my mother when I was 27. I’d give gpanything to have some more time with them. Life is short.

 

Strive for balance in all that you do…work & play, activity & relaxation, significant others & friends, etc.

Balance is good. All work & no play makes one very dull, right?? And all play with no work can make one lazy and possibly homeless.

 

Celebrate every success, even (and especially) the small ones.

But don’t get too carried away. Make those celebrations special.

 

Enjoy the company of old people. They have stories to share and lessons to teach.

Talk to old people…they’re pretty cool. Video them. Take pictures. Make memories. You’ll be glad you did someday.oldpeople

 

Admit when you’re wrong.

‘Tis a hard lesson to learn, but if you’re the kind of person that can never admit when you are wrong people WILL notice and they’ll think less of you.

 

Forgive yourself for your mistakes. Dwelling doesn’t make them better, and they’re almost never as bad as you think they are.

Newsflash: You’re not perfect. No, really…you aren’t. Don’t worry, neither am I or anyone else. It’s alright…you’ll live.

 

Be kind to everyone.

Pretty much the same as being nice, but worth mentioning twice.

 

Be especially kind to bartenders, baristas, taxi drivers, janitors, & anyone else who is often looked over.

They are often viewed as “the little people”. However, just because someone isn’t wearing a suit and doesn’t earn a six figure salary doesn’t janitor2mean you shouldn’t treat them with kindness. They work hard for the money…so hard for it honey…so you better treat them right.

 

The more you talk about yourself the less great you seem.

If you’re really awesome people will figure it out just by you being you. Don’t try so hard.

 

If you give your word keep it.

Your word is your bond. Honor. Integrity. Remember those??

 

Know your way around a kitchen.

FYI…women think guys that can cook are sexy. And ladies, we know it’s not the old days anymore. We don’t expect you to stay in the kitchen couple-sharing-time-togetherbarefoot & pregnant. But we do enjoy a nice home cooked meal. Hey, here’s an idea…everybody learn to cook and you can enjoy doing it together.

 

Work hard, but don’t let work become your sole purpose for living.

Most people have to work for a living. However, don’t let your job take over your life. Do your best, then go home and live a little.

 

Do what you naturally love to do rather than what you think you should enjoy doing.

This is especially important on the job. Don’t choose a career based on the money you can make then be miserable for 50 years. Too many people hate their lives because they’ve been cornered into doing what they have to do to put food on the table. It’s the survival instinct. Figure out what you’re passionate about before it’s too late.

 

In general, steer clear of shoulds as much as possible. Live the life that’s true to you, not the one you think is expected of you by others.

Screw societal expectations!! And don’t let your parents or anyone else guide you down a path that YOU wouldn’t choose. It’s your life…no one else’s.

 

Never use the excuse that it’s too late to change.

Ehhhh…I’m not sure I buy the ol’ “it’s never too late” thing. Sometimes it is in fact too late. You can’t hop in a time machine and change poor decisions of the past. Most people that say they have no regrets are lying. However, that doesn’t mean you have to be unhappy the rest of your life. Move forward. Make new choices. Make better decisions. Learn from your mistakes.

 

You’ll be a lot happier if you stop convincing yourself that happiness will come when you finally get this job or that car. Find joy in what and who you have now.

Enjoy simple pleasures. They’re all around you every day.joy

 

Let the cheers speak louder than the boos. Focus on your supporters, not your detractors.

Another Newsflash: Not everyone is going to like you. It’s okay. There are plenty of people who do. Unless you’re a complete tool. Then it might be time to look in the mirror.

 

No one notices your imperfections as much as you do.

Truth. Most people are harder on themselves than anyone else is on them. Except narcissists. They think they rock.

 

If you have something nice to say, say it. There are far too few compliments and “thank yous” in the world.

Always say “please” and “thank you”. Show some class.hug2

 

Keep your legacy in mind. Know the man you want to be remembered as and aim to be him every day.

I’ve really been pondering legacy the last couple of years, especially since my old friend Rob passed away awhile back. Everyone leaves a legacy. For most people it’s not going to be fame or fortune. But if you are a good person who does good things and treats people well there will be stories told about you when you’re gone. Good stories. And that’s pretty cool.

2016 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 8

kickoff_footballFirst, a few random thoughts.

  • I was wrong…the Carolina Panthers have indeed fallen victim to the Super Bowl curse. I honestly never saw it coming.
  • I am perfectly aware that my WV Mountaineers have virtually no shot to make the college football playoff, even if they go undefeated, something that I don’t think is going to happen anyway. However, recent comments by former NY Giants DB turned talking head Jason Sehorn were unprofessional & unnecessary.
  • Alabama is such a machine that I’ve grown bored with them.
  • I’m not surprised that the New England Patriots are that damn good…I’m just not happy about it.
  • Ben Roethlisberger is the starting QB on my fantasy dynasty team. Thank God Derek Carr is my backup.
  • What the hell is wrong with the Big 12?? The number “12” is in the name…they should be compelled to add two members!!
  • I’m really surprised about how much Notre Dame & Michigan St. have fallen since last season.

Okay, so last week Zach was 3-4, while I went 5-2. Yay…I’m above .500!! Let’s see how it goes this week.

My Season:        21-20

Z’s Season:        14-28

 

 

 

 

BYU                 at             Boise St. (-7)

byuThe Broncos are 6-0 and ranked 14th in the country, having defeated some pretty solid competition. However, let’s BOISE-ST-LOGOnot overlook the 4-3 Cougars, who lost those three games by a total of 7 points. They’ve got a RB named Jamaal Williams who will be playing on Sundays next year. I’m going to roll the dice and pick the upset. Conversely, Zach has concerns about BYU’s defense and thinks Boise will win in a blowout.

My Pick:   BYU

Z’s Pick:   Boise St.

 

Miami, FL                at             Virginia Tech (-6)

miamiu2Ahhhh…it’s a battle of former Big East foes, both of whom abandoned the conference for the ACC and killed the Big East. At Virginia_Tech_Hokies2any rate, both programs seem to be on the cusp of relevance again. I know the Hurricanes have lost two in a row and the Hokies were beaten by Syracuse last week, but I still think both can win 9 or 10 games and get a major bowl bid. Obviously the winner of this game will be in better shape. Tech is getting the home field bump, but I believe Miami is the better team. Zach can’t overlook the home field advantage and likes the favored Hokies.

My Pick:   Miami, FL

Z’s Pick:   Virginia Tech

 

 

Arkansas                at             Auburn (-10)

Okay…so, neither of these teams have a snowball’s chance in Brazil of winning the SEC or even their division. But the Razorbacks, at 5-2, and the arkansas-razorback-logoTigers, at 4-2, can both still have great seasons. A victory here would certainly help. Auburn is getting a big home field bump, but that seems odd. The points are a bit much and I’m not buying it. Zach concurs.

My Pick:   Arkansas

Z’s Pick:   Arkansas

 

 

NY Giants (-2.5)      vs.   L.A. Rams

laramsBefore the season I predicted that the Rams would go 3-13. They’ve already gotten three wins and we aren’t even to the Giants Logomidpoint of the season. More surprising than that is the fact that they’re doing well with Case Keenum under center and #1 overall draft pick Jared Goff hasn’t even smelled the field. Imagine what they could be doing if they’d chosen Carson Wentz or Paxton Lynch. Meanwhile, the always unpredictable Giants are also 3-3. They really need to find a better running back, but as long as Odell Beckham is around being an elite receiver they have a fighting chance. This game is being played in London and will start at 9:30am here in America. In other words no one will be watching. I’m going to walk on the wild side and pick the upset…for no apparent reason. Zach likes OBJ to have another big day and lead the Giants to victory.

My Pick:   LA Rams

Z’s Pick:   NY Giants

 

Minnesota (-2.5)     at     Philadelphia

Everybody has been impressed with rookie QB Wentz, but after a 3-0 start the Eagles have lost two straight. Meanwhile, Sam Bradford, who was vikingstraded to Minnesota from Philly a couple of months ago, has led the Vikings to a 5-0 record. When QB Teddy Bridgewater was lost to injury I assumed Minnesota’s playoff hopes had ended, but I was wrong. Really wrong. I suppose they’ll lose at some point, but I don’t think it’ll be this week, even in enemy territory. Zach likes the Vikings’ defense and believes that will be the difference.

My Pick:   Minnesota

Z’s Pick:   Minnesota

80’s Movie Mania…A Fatal Four Way Finale

movies&TVI’m a pro wrestling fan, and occasionally, instead of the normal one-on-one or even a tag team match, they’ll stick four combatants in the ring and let them fight it out. That is how I’ve decided to conclude this project. We started out back in March 2016 with 84 films, and seven months later we’ve pared it down to four.

 

The choices made here over these months have been undeniably influenced by my own entertainment sensibilities, but I can 80s5assure you that I’ve done my best to be…if I may borrow a phrase…fair & balanced. I’ve given early eliminations to films that I really like, and conversely made other films victorious that aren’t necessarily my cup of tea, all out of respect for undisputable attributes like major awards, significant box office earnings, well-regarded critical praise, & enduring mass appeal. I stayed within a well-defined set of rules, which is why movies like Empire Strikes Back, Field of Dreams, A Christmas Story, & Back to the Future were not included. However don’t doubt my fanboy love for those & many others not involved in this competition.

 

80sAt the end of the day I believe that we’ve ended up with a fun & interesting trek down memory lane. I’m a movie buff. I like to sit in a darkened theater with a bucket of popcorn or in the comfort of my living room snuggling with Rocco and escape into what our old pal Willie Wonka would call a world of pure imagination. Oh sure…most of us can’t spend too much time doing that. There are bills to pay, families to care for, responsibilities to fulfill, & goals to reach. But every once in a while it’s good & necessary. The 1980’s represent the latter part of my childhood & my teenage years. Life is fairly simple & typically enjoyable for the vast majority of kids, but most don’t appreciate just how truly wonderful that time was until years later, after things have become complicated, loved ones have departed, health has deteriorated, & guilt free fun is a rare commodity. Occasionally though we can temporarily close Pandora’s box and return to those halcyon days. The 80’s were a great era for cinema, and I am happy to celebrate that accomplishment. I hope you have enjoyed reading along.

 

 

 

The Contenders

 

The Blues Brothers

bb5The Blues Brothers began as a Saturday Night Live sketch in January 1976. They made two additional appearances as SNL musical guests in April & November of 1978. Of course the band’s leaders…Joliet Jake & Elwood…were portrayed by SNL cast members John Belushi & Dan Aykroyd. Like so many other SNL skits that have followed in the ensuing decades an idea was hatched to evolve the characters into a movie. Aykroyd wrote the screenplay and John Landis was hired to direct. Belushi & Aykroyd formed an actual band with real & accomplished musicians, and The Blues Brothers released their first album, Briefcase Full of Blues, in 1978. Belushi had also become a movie star in 1978 after his role in Animal House (directed by Landis), and left SNL in 1979 along with Aykroyd. The film was released on June 20, 1980. The story follows Jake, upon his release from prison, and Elwood, as they put the band back together to raise money for the orphanage in which they grew up. If you are curious why a religious organization owed back taxes, well, at the time there was a proposed law in Illinois that would have stripped such entities of tax exempt status, so I suppose Aykroyd took that idea and ran with it. It’s a movie full of great music, memorable quotes, numerous car crashes, iconic imagery (dark sunglasses & fedoras), & a ton of cool cameos that modern youngsters might not understand but were bb7awesome back in the day. Critics really liked it and it was the 10th highest grossing film of 1980. Did you know that The Empire Strikes Back was released less than a month earlier?? Heavy competition indeed. Anyway, more than thirty years later The Blues Brothers is still shown on television with some frequency, something that I consider to be somewhat of a hallmark of greatness. The Blues Brothers won the Tubular Division by defeating European Vacation, The Big Chill, When Harry Met Sally, & The Breakfast Club. That last result is probably considered a controversial upset by some, but the decision is final.

 

Dead Poets Society

dps2Citizens of The Manoverse know that I am a huge Robin Williams fan, and while he was mostly known as a stand-up comedian and the star of some really funny comedy films (Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Birdcage), he was equally accomplished in dramatic roles (Awakenings, One Hour Photo, Insomnia). He won his only Academy Award, for Best Supporting Actor, in 1997 for playing a quiet, introspective therapist in Good Will Hunting. By far my favorite dramatic Robin Williams movie is Dead Poets Society. It was released on June 2, 1989 and was the 10th highest grossing film of that year. Critics liked it very much. Williams stars as Professor John Keating, the new English teacher at a stodgy New England boarding school in the late 1950s. Keating isn’t your normal uptight teacher, and his methods & perspective on life inspire a group of students, who do some research and find out that Keating was a bit of a rebel even as a student. He attended the same school as a youth and was a member of a secret organization called the Dead Poets Society. The boys decide to revive that club and also use the things they’ve learned from the professor as encouragement to take some chances and rebel against the expectations of the school & their parents. When things don’t go well for one of the youngsters after he stands up to his domineering father the lad commits suicide and Professor Keating loses his job. It sounds much more depressing than it is…trust me. Dead Poets Society isn’t on TV as much as fans might prefer, but I understand. It isn’t dpsthe sort of silly comedy or mindless action flick that folks tend to enjoy during a lazy weekend. Even with some trademark comedic flourishes from Williams it is a serious film that some might consider kind of a downer, especially toward the end. But even without as many repeat viewings as a lot of other films discussed in 80’s Movie Mania I still have a deep fondness for Dead Poets Society. Perhaps it is the enchanting presence of Williams. Or maybe it’s the academic setting where people are learning about, discussing, & enjoying poetry & Shakespeare. I suppose the fact that it is a tale chockful of deep thoughts about life is appealing as well. Dead Poets Society topped the Radical Division, defeating The Naked Gun, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, & This Is Spinal Tap to get here.

 

National Lampoon’s Vacation

vacation2There have been five films in the Vacation series, but only two have really retained any lasting appeal. We’ll discuss the other one next Christmas, but for now this is the original, the one that started it all. Released on July 29, 1983, the script was written by John Hughes based on a short story called Vacation ’58 that he’d written for National Lampoon magazine in 1979. The story is available to read online, and while it is amusing and many of the broad strokes are retained in the film, what we ultimately get to enjoy onscreen is much funnier and less…intense. Harold Ramis, who many will remember as Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters or Russell Ziskey in Stripes, directed. He had previously directed Caddyshack and written the screenplays for Animal House & Stripes. Of course the star of the movie is Chevy Chase, who plays Clark Griswold, a sincere yet clueless husband & father who just wants to drive his wife & children from Chicago to California for a fun time at America’s favorite amusement park Walley World. As with any road trip flick there are adventures, mishaps, & quirky characters along the way, leading to a fairly surprising conclusion that admittedly does seem out-of-date in the Internet Age. Vacation was the 11th vacationhighest grossing film of 1983, and received solid reviews for a “screwball comedy”. It bested Stand By Me, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, & Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to win the Bodacious Division. Despite its outdated final act Vacation has retained significance on the pop culture landscape more than thirty years after its initial release. It seems to be shown on television with some frequency, and the fact that the series was rebooted (with Ed Helms portraying middle-aged Rusty Griswold and cameos by Chase & Beverly D’Angelo) just last year proves its lasting popularity. The humor is accessible to a wide target audience and can be enjoyed by multiple generations.

 

Airplane!

airplaneI’m a big fan of parody & spoof films. Parody is derived from the Greek word paroidia, with para meaning “side by side” or “parallel to” and oide meaning “song”. A parody is a work that imitates the style of an earlier work, usually in a humorous manner. The Scary Movie franchise pokes fun at the Scream movies. The Naked Gun movies make fun of cop shows & films. The Austin Powers trilogy parodies James Bond. Spaceballs is a comedic ode to Star Wars. You get the idea. Parody films go all the way back to the 1930’s when Abbott & Costello did a number of movies that were a comedic take on monster flicks of that era. Then in the 70’s there was stuff like Blazing Saddles, a parody of westerns, and Young Frankenstein, yet another funny monster movie. Airplane! was released on July 2, 1980 (just a couple of weeks after The Blues Brothers) and parodies disaster flicks, which had been quite popular in the 70’s (The Swarm, Airport, The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno, etc.). It is an odd remake of a 1957 film called Zero Hour!, a film most of us have probably never heard of much less seen. Airplane! was the 4th highest grossing movie of 1980. Hindsight being 20/20 it is understandable that The Empire Strikes Back topped that year, but how in the world 9 to 5 and Stir Crazy made more money than Airplane! is mind boggling and a testament to the popularity of Richard Pryor and…Dolly Parton (???). airplaneAnyway, the casting director deserves special kudos for choosing erstwhile tough guys Robert Stack, Leslie Nielsen, Peter Graves, & Lloyd Bridges to star in deadpan comedic roles. It was a masterstroke. The writers too must be praised, as not only does the movie spoof the disaster genre, but it does so with such a plethora of amazing dialogue, funny cameos, & hilarious sight gags that Airplane! practically demands repeat viewings. Critics have loved the film since it came out nearly forty years ago, and it continues to be shown on television with some degree of regularity. Airplane! has thus far defeated Beetlejuice, Top Gun, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, & Uncle Buck.

 

 

 

 

Elimination 1

Dead Poets Society

As much as I love Robin Williams the fact is that, compared to the competition, I don’t know that this is a film that has resonated with the masses dps3nearly as much. I’m not at all sure that many of my friends or family would immediately choose Dead Poets Society as one of the greatest films of the 80’s. I think it appeals to a certain demographic and I just happen to be in that group. It isn’t repeated on television all that much, and I believe that is because most folks, when channel surfing on a rainy day, gravitate toward comedies or action films. Dead Poets Society is probably a bit too erudite to be a cult classic. Perhaps that is an indictment of our culture and/or our education system, but it is what it is.

 

Elimination 2

National Lampoon’s Vacation

Two strikes go against Vacation. First of all, many would agree that it might not even be the most beloved film in its vacation3own series. Secondly, because of the ending it doesn’t hold up as well as one would hope. Younger viewers probably watch it and think “Why didn’t they just go online and see that Walley World was going to be closed??”. Is it fair to hold that against the film since The Internet obviously didn’t exist in 1983?? Probably not. As a matter of fact I suppose some might say that the fact marks it as representative of the very era this competition purports to celebrate. Trust me…I rolled all of that around in my head. But at the end of the day if I’m splitting hairs I have to admit that I lean toward the ending, as funny as it is, being a mark against Vacation’s longevity.

 

The Runner Up

Airplane!

Here’s the problem with parodies/spoofs. Much of the humor comes from the audience’s familiarity with the source material that is being mocked. I airplane2love Airplane! yet I have never seen Zero Hour!, the original film from which it is derived. I’d probably appreciate the spoof even more if I’d watch the original. Not only that, but I wonder how many people, in 2016, have seen any of the disaster flicks that are also being parodied?? How many people these days are familiar with Peter Graves’ role in Mission: Impossible, Robert Stack in 1960’s TV show The Untouchables, Lloyd Bridges in Police Story, or Leslie Nielsen’s work in Forbidden Planet & The Poseidon Adventure?? Many of the jokes in Airplane! are dated references, like cameos from Ethel Merman & Leave it to Beaver’s Barbara Billingsley. We still laugh because it’s all so very silly, but many younger viewers would laugh even more if they knew why certain things are funny. I’m splitting hairs again…obviously…but that’s what happens when it gets down to separating greatness from greatness.

 

 

 

and finally…….

 

 

 

80’s Movie Mania Champion


The Blues Brothers

It’s repeated on television a lot for a movie that was released nearly forty years ago. It is SO quotable. It has great music. Even if the blues isn’t Layout 1necessarily your thing you’ll enjoy the tunes in this film. Much like Airplane! some of the cameos are a bit passé, but it’s atleast a draw on that point. Belushi & Aykroyd are fantastic. A sequel, called Blues Brothers 2000, was made in 1998, but of course John Belushi had died 16 years earlier so, as talented as John Goodman is, the magic just wasn’t there. When I was in college our fraternity had a traditional dance/chant thing we did using the song Gimme Some Lovin’. Now that song was written by Steve Winwood and originally recorded by the Spencer Davis Group in 1966, but our inspiration was the awesome Blues Brothers cover. Back then I’d occasionally see guys don the famous dark sunglasses & fedoras. It’s little things like that that help a film endure so that it can be enjoyed by new generations. This is a movie that has stood the test of time. It isn’t deep. It doesn’t challenge one’s mind or elicit reflection on values, philosophy, or a person’s moral compass. It’s just great fun, and when judged against modern standards of acceptability it is remarkably devoid of sex, violence, & profanity. You can watch The Blues Brothers with your children and not only will they not be corrupted by much depravity, they might actually develop a taste for good music. What a bonus!!

2016 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 7

cfoot2As I sit here writing this there is an NFL game, hockey’s opening night, the MLB playoffs, & a college football game all on at the same time. It’s the most stimulating experience I’ve had in many moons. At any rate, bonus picks didn’t really work out so well for either one of us last week, but I’m nothing if not persistent so we’re going to try again. Zach was 3-5, while I broke even at 4-4. We picked LSU/Florida, but they didn’t play because of Hurricane Matthew. That game has been rescheduled for mid-November. As of right now Alabama, Clemson, Washington, & the winner of Ohio St./Michigan look like the favorites to get into the NCAA playoff, while the NFL is being dominated by the Vikings, Cowboys, Broncos, & Falcons. Of course the cool thing about sports is that all of that could change in a single day.

My Season:        16-18

Z’s Season:        11-24

 

 

 

 

 

Alabama (-13)              at      Tennessee

tennessee_volunteers_football_iphone_wallpaperThe Tide hasn’t really been challenged much this season, winning every game by atleast 19 points with the exception of a 5 AlabamaCrimsonTide2point thriller against Ole Miss. The Vols were on a roll until they ran up against Texas A&M last weekend. Perhaps they were looking ahead to this game. When revealing my pre-season Top 25 I opined that “it would surprise me less if this team actually lost 3 or 4 games than it would if they’d go undefeated”. Of course I also had Oklahoma & LSU in my Top 5, so what do I know?? As a fan I am hoping for a great game, and that would necessitate something closer than 13 points. I’m not all that confident about it, but that’s the direction I’ll go. Conversely, Zach has faith in ‘Bama’s defense and believes they’ll win by a comfortable margin.

My Pick:     Tennessee

Z’s Pick:     Alabama

 

 

Northwestern              at      Michigan St. (-4.5)

Northwestern_WildcatsNeither team is going to win the Big Ten (which has 14 teams), but with identical 2-3 records this is a game that could swing Michigan_State_Spartansthe momentum one way or the other and lead to a season to either feel alright about or flush completely from the memory. I’m no psychologist, but I assume that the rocky start isn’t a shock for the Wildcats, and a win here would be a giant boost to their morale. Conversely, the Spartans have been very successful in recent years, especially last season when they were in the playoffs. Recent events have to be rather disconcerting to them. I think Northwestern comes into this contest hyped up and ready to turn things around, while Michigan St.’s spirit may have already been broken. Zach thinks Northwestern is too inconsistent and believes Michigan St.’s defense will get the job done.

My Pick:     Northwestern

Z’s Pick:     Michigan St.

 

 

Stanford                       at      Notre Dame (-3)

photo.stanfordtreeUsually this is an important game between two highly ranked teams. This year…not so much. The Irish lost half their team to NotreDame1the NFL and are currently 2-4. Stanford has seen the Heisman buzz for RB/WR Christian McCaffrey virtually disappear in the throes of a two game losing streak that has them at 3-2. Part of me believes that Notre Dame HAS to win this game, since pride & defending their home turf are about the only worthy goals remaining, but I can’t fight this feeling that Stanford…atleast for this season…is the better team. Zach likes Notre Dame QB Deshone Kizer and thinks he’ll lead the Irish to victory.

My Pick:     Stanford

Z’s Pick:     Notre Dame

 

 

Ohio St. (-10)               at      Wisconsin

I didn’t have the Badgers anywhere near my pre-season Top 25. I just didn’t see any room for them to succeed in the loaded Big Ten. However, they WisconsinBadgersare capably filling the Top 10 spot I thought would be held by the faltering Iowa Hawkeyes. Of course no one is surprised by the 5-0 Buckeyes, who’ve barely broken a sweat thus far. That’ll change this week. I’d be surprised if Ohio St. lost, but I don’t think they’ll win by double digits on the road. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Wisconsin

Z’s Pick:     Wisconsin

 

 

Philadelphia (-2.5)      at      Washington

Washington_Redskins_logoThe NFC East might be the best, most competitive division in the NFL. Dallas is better than I thought they’d be, and the NY philadelphia_eagles-3715Giants are hanging around. This is an important game for Philly & the Redskins since the winner would stay on pace with the Cowboys. Rookie QB Carson Wentz has been impressive for the 3-1 Eagles, while the 3-2 Redskins don’t have much of a running attack and have relied completely on QB Kirk Cousins. It’s interesting that Washington isn’t getting the usual home field bump. The oddsmakers clearly have an opinion on which is the better team, but I’m going to go against the grain and pick the upset. Zach literally flipped a coin…I think…and is going with the favorites.

My Pick:     Washington

Z’s Pick:     Philadelphia

 

 

Carolina (-3)                 at      New Orleans

New-Orleans-Saints-Logo-244x300In my NFL Preview I stated that I didn’t think the Panthers would fall prey the usual foibles of Super Bowl losers. That assessment CarolinaPanthersmay have been wrong. Not only is Carolina 1-4, but QB Cam Newton has been concussed and missed last week’s game. It looks like he’ll be back this week, and fortunately for he & his struggling team they face the equally dismal 1-3 Saints. Or is it fortunate?? The Superdome will be rockin’, and what better way to right the ship then for Drew Brees to lead his troops past the defending NFC champs?? I’m not sure either team can catch the Atlanta Falcons in the division, but a win here could conceivably catapult the victor into wildcard contention. Zach is looking for a high scoring game and thinks Newton will lead his team to a win.

My Pick:     New Orleans

Z’s Pick:     Carolina

 

 

Dallas                           at      Green Bay (-4.5)

Green_Bay_Packers_HelmetThis should be a really good game. Rookie QB Dak Prescott has been better than Cowboys fans could have ever expected in thedallas-cowboys-logo2 absence of Tony Romo, and fellow rookie Zeke Elliot might be the best running back in the NFL at the moment. I am not among those that think that Romo has already lost his starting gig, but I’m sure he’ll be on a short leash upon his return. For the powers-that-be in Dallas it’s a nice problem to have. Meanwhile, the Packers seem like a forgotten team, lost in the shadow of division foe Minnesota. If Prescott can go into the unfriendly environment of The Frozen Tundra and snag a victory I’ll be more than impressed…but I don’t believe that’s going to happen. Zach, on the other hand, likes the Cowboys’ offensive line a lot and thinks they are a legit title contender.

My Pick:     Green Bay

Z’s Pick:     Dallas

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 11.16

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

 

 

 

As predicted, my late night habits have changed significantly in the past year & a half. Upon David Letterman’s retirement and offthe final piece of late night television’s transformation into something I barely recognize I opined that “it is just as likely that, at long last, I will begin my own transformation into a cantankerous old geezer and be in bed way before 11:30pm. more & more often.” Now I must admit that I am rarely in bed that early. However, if I am at home and not working it has become the norm for me to enjoy the late local news and then either watch a movie or turn the TV off altogether and read a bit or do some writing. The current late night lineup is oftentimes too political for my taste or just outright tedious. Either way I’ve got better things to do with my time. Your mileage may vary and that’s okay.

 

 

facebook-147Dear Facebook: What exactly are “top” stories?? Who decides that?? More importantly, why…when a person makes it perfectly clear that they prefer the most recent stories…do you KEEP SWITCHING IT BACK?!?!?!?? I realize that using the site is free, but that doesn’t give you the right to just do whatever you feel like and ignore your customers’ wishes on even the most insignificant of issues. Get your stuff together.

 

 

I wonder if it has dawned on the GOP & its voters yet that if almost ANYONE other than trump2Donald Trump had received the nomination they’d likely be beating Hillary Clinton by a comfortable margin??

 

 

I’m onto you delivery guys…..

deliveryI’m single, live alone, & can be lazy. Therefore I probably eat out way too much, to the detriment of both my economic well-being and overall health. Drive-thrus & delivery are a godsend for guys like me. However, I have noticed a trend. Let’s say your pizza, salad, sandwich, orange chicken, or whatever kind of vittles you’ve ordered is going to cost $12-15. You hand the delivery person a $20 bill. Protocol would normally dictate that he/she begins to count out your change, at which time you either say “keep it” or return what you feel to be an appropriate tip. But I’ve run into a couple of sneaky ones who, upon being handed $20 for that $12-15 order simply ask “do you need change??”. Now I am perfectly aware that it is well within my rights to say yes and get my change back, but one of my weaknesses is that I am too nice, so the couple of times that this has occurred I’ve been caught off guard and simply say “no, that’s okay”. It is only afterward that it’s dawned on me that I’ve just given someone a freakin’ $5-8 tip for food that didn’t cost much more than that. Hey, I’m not naïve…from the delivery person’s perspective this is an ingenious ploy, and I can’t really blame them, especially when it works on suckers like me. There’s an old saying though…say it with me…”fool me once, shame on you…fool me twice, shame on me”. The sequel to that adage should be “there won’t be a third time”. Now that I’ve figured out the scam I’ll be sure to have exact change if at all possible from now on, and sadly I am likely to become far less generous with my tips. Sorry folks…I’m crazy, not stupid.

 

 

I may not watch very much late night television anymore, and most prime time shows are so tedious that I don’t even bother, but kmanallow me to recommend one newcomer. I never watched a single second of Kiefer Sutherland’s popular 24, but I have quickly become hooked on his new show Designated Survivor. Sutherland portrays a milquetoast HUD Secretary who ascends to the Oval Office after the President, Vice President, and pretty much every other high ranking government official dies when the Capitol is bombed during the State of the Union speech. I see vague traces of The West Wing, a show I loved, with added elements of intrigue & action. Who committed the heinous act of terrorism?? Why?? Who can the new President really trust?? How in the world can he rebuild the federal government from nothing?? It’s not a perfect show. There have been some missteps, like the surprising reveal of a second designated survivor as well as a Congressman who survived the explosion and a little too much preachy emphasis on anti-Muslim sentiment. Much like The West Wing the show unmistakably leans left and paints conservatism with a disdainful broad brush, but thus far it continues to build layers of conspiratorial drama. I’m not sure we’ll be talking about Designated Survivor a decade from now or even in a couple of years, but it has my attention for now.

80’s Movie Mania…The Elite Eight

driveinAfter a little vacation from this series it’s time to focus on the finish line. I realize that things here have been very much sportscentric as of late, and that there are citizens of The Manoverse who aren’t really into that sort of thing. However long time readers know that this tends to occur in the fall and have hopefully modulated their expectations. At any rate, today we present the four division final matchups. Since I have said just about netflixeverything there is to say about these films I think I’ll just do a tale of the tape sort of thing this time around. Don’t worry…you’ll get a chance to enjoy more of my sparkling wit next time. Specifically I’m looking at five areas of influence that are important factors in deciding the stature of any movie:

Re-Watchability –       Is it on television a lot?? If it is on TV do I stop & watch??

Relevance            –        Does the story hold up well?? Or do modern societal norms & changes in technology make it feel dated??

Quotability          –        Fun, interesting, well-written movies of all genres are usually very quotable.

Cultural Impact  –        Is it one of those movies that everyone of a certain age has seen?? Is it familiar to multiple generations?? Do people still occasionally talk about it & watch it even many years after its release??

Pleasure              –        Do I enjoy watching this movie?? We’ve all read books or watched shows/movies just because we felt compelled to…because we wanted to be cool or seem educated. But what do you enjoy when no one else is around??

 

 

 

 

Radical

Dead Poets Society    vs.     This Is Spinal Tap

 

Re-Watchability                           rw4                                                         

Relevance       rw4                                                   

Quotability                spinal_tap_-_up_to_eleven                                                                               

Cultural Impact                           spinal_tap_-_up_to_eleven                                                            

Pleasure                                                    rw4                                                               

The Verdict:        Dead Poets Society. I think it comes down to timing. If Spinal Tap would have come out a few years later or Poets been released a few years earlier the coin may have flipped the other way.

 

 

Bodacious

National Lampoon’s Vacation       vs.     Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

 

Re-Watchability                               vacation4

Relevance                             fb                                                                    

Quotability                                 vacation4     

Cultural Impact                                                                    fb                    

Pleasure              vacation4                            

The Verdict:        Vacation. This is tough. Bueller probably deserves a better fate, but I have to be honest. Some might say that the invention of The Internet renders the conclusion of Vacation irrelevant, and I concede the point. In that one very significant way the film does not hold up well. However, I believe there is enough greatness there to balance out the one weakness. Bueller is a great time capsule that even modern high school students can enjoy, but I’m not sure it’s as relatable for adults.

 

 

Tubular

The Breakfast Club   vs.   The Blues Brothers

 

Re-Watchability                                      bb6

Relevance     bclub2

Quotability      bb6

Cultural Impact      bclub2

Pleasure  bb6

The Verdict:        The Blues Brothers. To be honest, this result surprises me. However, while The Breakfast Club is a great movie, its relevance & impact is limited to two demographics: high school students & those of us that were teenagers in the 80’s. Conversely, The Blues Brothers is a goofy comedy devoid of meaningful societal commentary, but it is jolly good fun for people of all ages. It is timeless in its own odd way, and has probably done more to advance interest in blues & jazz music than just about anything else in the past four decades.

 

 

Gnarly

Uncle Buck                  vs.          Airplane!

 

Re-Watchability                                                                               airplane3                              

Relevance                                                                                                      airplane3

Quotability                                        airplane3                                                                                                  

Cultural Impact                                                                 airplane3              

Pleasure                                                                     airplane3

                                            

The Verdict:        Airplane!. With all due respect to the memory of the late, great John Candy, this wasn’t a fair fight. Uncle Buck is a nice, underrated, above average comedy, but it’s not the best work of Candy, John Hughes, or MacCaulay Culkin. Heck, it’s not even Amy Madigan’s best film. Conversely, Airplane! birthed an entire subgenre in which everything that has followed in the past 36 years STILL  hasn’t measured up to the granddaddy of them all.

2016 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 6

football2I don’t feel particularly verbose today. Last week Zach was 0-5, while I fared a little better at 3-2. In an effort to get back on the right track we’re doing some bonus picks this week. It will either help right the ship, or it’ll totally blow up in our faces. We’ll see.

My Season:         12-14

Z’s Season:          8-19

 

 

 

 

 

 

Washington (-8)                   at      Oregon

oregonThe Huskies are for real folks. They proved that by destroying Stanford and pretty much nailing the coffin shut on Christian washington2McCaffrey’s Heisman hopes. The Ducks are 2-3 and have dropped completely off the grid. However it should be noted that two of those three losses have been by 4 or less points. I have a difficult time fathoming that a team that has been highly ranked and super competitive for several years now has all the sudden become terrible overnight. That doesn’t mean that I believe they’ll win this game, or that I’m not sold on Washington. I just think that, especially in the friendly environment of Eugene, it’ll be much closer than 8 points. Zach is all in on Washington and thinks that Oregon looks like a team in a rebuilding phase.

My Pick:     Oregon

Z’s Pick:     Washington

 

 

Arizona               at      Utah (-9.5)

The Utes were on a 4-0 roll until being upset by the Cal Bears last weekend. Conversely, the Wildcats are an up & down 2-3. The points concern me utah2just a little, but I’m going to take a chance and predict that Utah covers. Zach thinks both of these teams are a bit unpredictable, but he too is picking Utah.

My Pick:     Utah

Z’s Pick:     Utah

 

 

Texas                  at      Oklahoma (-10)

TEXAS LONGHORNS.1271817676They used to call this the Red River Shootout until the PC Police got their panties twisted, so now it is dubbed the much tamer oklahoma2Red River Rivalry. Word on the street is that the powers-that-be in Austin are ready to shove head coach Charlie Strong out the door. A 2-2 start was not what they were hoping for. Of course things at Oklahoma haven’t been that much better thus far, as they have an identically mediocre record. The Sooners are clearly the better team at this point, and they do have the home field advantage. However, human beings are capable of great things when our backs are against the wall, and I believe the Longhorns will put up a heck of a fight for their coach. I’m not sure it’ll be enough to win, but it’ll probably be enough to cover. Zach is going in the opposite direction, predicting that Oklahoma should win by more than two TDs.

My Pick:     Texas

Z’s Pick:     Oklahoma

 

LSU  (-3)             at      Florida

The Bayou Bengals have already made a coaching change, and it seemed to work out well last week. I don’t think Ed Orgeron will get the gig lsu_logopermanently in Baton Rouge, but if he guides the team to a successful season after a rocky start perhaps he can snag a head coaching position elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Gators are a solid 4-1 and a fairly quiet Top 20 team. All things considered I am stunned that the oddsmakers aren’t even giving Florida a slight home field advantage. I have to assume that they know something I don’t and go with it. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     LSU

Z’s Pick:     LSU

 

 

Tennessee                  at      Texas A&M (-7)

The Vols are off to a fantastic 5-0 start, but only a miraculous Hail Mary saved them from defeat last weekend. The 5-0 Aggies are surely the toughest 10015tenn_vols_w_helmetopponent Tennessee has faced, and the game is in College Station. Both are Top 10 teams just a tick away from playoff contention should a couple of higher ranked teams go down. I’m going to predict that A&M wins this game…by a field goal. Zach likes Tennessee to get the victory.

My Pick:     Tennessee

Z’s Pick:     Tennessee

 

 

Florida St.          at      Miami, FL (-3)

miamiuThis used to be one of the biggest games on the schedule, but then the Hurricanes fell on tough times. And now that Miami Florida_State_Seminolesseems to be on the cusp of being back the Seminoles are having a tough year. A month ago I would have picked Florida St. without a second thought. If this game were in Tallahassee I’d still pick them. But given recent events and the fact that the game is being played in Miami it seems the momentum lies with the favorites. Zach disagrees. He’s such a rebel.

My Pick:     Miami, FL

Z’s Pick:     Florida St.

 

 

Philadelphia (-3)                   at      Detroit

Rookie QB Carson Wentz is the real deal. The 3-0 Eagles should have no problem beating the 1-3 Lions. I can’t believe the point spread isn’t higher. philadelphia_eagles-3715Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Philadelphia

Z’s Pick:     Philadelphia

 

 

Washington       at      Baltimore (-3.5)

Washington_Redskins_logoThe Redskins, at 2-2, are having a tougher year than I anticipated. Conversely, the 3-1 Ravens are better than I expected. There Baltimore_Ravens2is only 40 miles separating DC & Baltimore, so I don’t think the home field is that big of an advantage. The Vibes are telling me to go with the upset. Zach feels differently and he’s picking the home team.

My Pick:     Washington

Z’s Pick:     Baltimore

 

 

Houston             at      Minnesota (-6)

Could it be that Sam Bradford was as good of a quarterback as a #1 overall draft pick is supposed to be all along and has now finally found the kind of vikingshelmet1good team he’s needed to shine?? It’s an interesting hypothesis. The Vikings’ defense is undeniably great, and there seem to be a plethora of weapons on offense. The Texans aren’t too shabby either, but they are playing on the road. I’m a big believer in Big Mo, and I think that rests with Minnesota. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Minnesota

Z’s Pick:     Minnesota