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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Rant #2,166: A Beautiful Morning

OK, ladies ... I am going to tell you right away that this column really isn't for you, although you are free to read it if you must.

And I am not going to apologize for being male, and having male tendencies toward female beauty.

I know that the slightest inference of this in today's world can lead to sexual harassment charges, but why shouldn't I be impressed with those ladies who have both beauty and brains?

I wake up at 3:30 a.m. in the morning on weekdays, and I watch CBS for my early morning news.

And let me tell you, both nationally and in New York, there is an array of female newscasters who are both good looking and have the brains to back it up, which makes them even more attractive.

So here is my periodic update on the female newscasters that deliver the news in the early morning on CBS and Channel 2, the local CBS affiliate and flagship station of the network in New York.

And if you consider this sexist, so be it.

On the CBS Morning News, I start my day with Ann Marie Green, originally from Canada, who has that "girl-next-door look" that I find quite attractive. She is professional, has a bit of a sense of humor that she displays at times in her banter with other newscasters on the show, and she pulls it all off with a lot of talent.

One of the news reporters on the shows is Hena Doba, who recently subbed for Green when she took a few days off. I remember her as Hena Daniels from an early stint in her career on Channel 11, WPIX here in New York, and this lady is not only talented, but she seems to get better looking each and every day. Eye candy with talent, if you will.

At 4:30 a.m., the local news begins, and right there at the starting point, and the starting point for all of this chatter, is Mary Calvi. The veteran reporter is already in my personal female newscaster Hall of Fame. She is absolutely gorgeous, and if you need eye candy to perk you up in the morning, she is definitely it.

Working the traffic beat is Alex Denis, another veteran newscaster who is long and lean and does what she does with a lot of aplomb.

And her occasional substitute is another Alex--Alex Lee. She hadn't been on the air in a while--she only subs when the other Alex is either off or is moved to the leadoff spot to sub for Calvi when she has time off-but she came back having lost a bit of weight, and she looks great!

The show has numerous younger male and female reporters in the field, and one of the veteran ones is Janelle Burrell, You can't forget her rhyming name, but she is way, way beyond that. As probably the most talented early morning reporter on the show, she has seen it all and covered it all, and I am sure you will be hearing of her years from now, when she gets off the early morning beat and maybe one day anchors the show. She is that good.

A recent hire--I assume to replace another early morning hire, Magdalena Doris, who moved to a Philadelphia station in the CBS network--is Natalie Duddridge. When she came on the scene a month or two ago, when I first saw her, I said to myself "who is that?" and now I know--she is a very talented street reporter, again with that girl-next-door look that I find attractive.

There are others on that station that are both very talented and easy on the eyes, but I will leave you with this group.

If you are in New York, take a gander at CBS News. Don't tell me that these ladies weren't hired simply for their newscasting talents. Yes, they are talented, but yes, they are also eye candy, really easy on the eyes, and yes, they get your attention each and every morning.

And you can say what you want to about me, but heck, I am a red blooded American male, and there is nothing that I find more attractive in the opposite sex than the two "Bs": beauty and brains.

And these women that I just described have them both, in great abundance.

Yes, they are sights for my sore eyes each and every weekday morning.

Classic Rant #819 (October 9, 2012): Puppy Love

We all have crushes when we are growing up.

Whether it’s for a neighbor, a teacher, a kid in your class, or someone in TV or the movies or in music, we all have these “puppy” crushes that usually don’t last very long, and are bypassed when we learn more about what love is as we get older.

One of my crushes during my childhood was Angela Cartwright, who just happened to turn 60 years old a month ago today.

Cartwright was a cute, talented kid, and her sister, Veronica was also cute, but in an episode of “Leave It To Beaver,” she gave the Beav his first kiss, so she was taken already.

Angela was not.

She came to national prominence as one of Danny Thomas’ children on “Make Room For Daddy,” the first show in my memory where the kids weren’t just precocious, they also had big mouths.

Later, she was the younger daughter on “Lost in Space,” one of my favorite TV shows as a kid.

She started to fill out a little then, and, as I was also getting older, I kind of look at it as if we were growing up together.

In between, she was one of the Trapp children in “The Sound of Music,” and along with Julie Andrews, she was the only actor I knew about at the time from that film, so I, again, became enamored of her.

And later, on shows like “Room 222,” she was one of the high school students, and by this time, I was older, and I still thought she was cute.

I guess I was drawn to her because she was on TV, on her shows, just about every day of the week as I was growing up.

She was around my age—or so I thought, now that I know that she is actually five years older than me—and she had those expressive eyes, which even captured me when I was a little kid.

No, I did not hang her pictures around my room, but when she was on TV, I took notice.

As I said earlier, puppy love usually doesn’t last that long, and once I didn’t see her on TV much anymore, I found others to pin my hopes on.

But Angela Cartwright might have been the first for me—and probably millions of other guys around my age.

So happy belated birthday, Angela. You are a part of my childhood that I won’t soon forget. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Rant #2,165: Kick

The baseball races are heating up.

The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, the two teams with the best records in baseball this season, are revving up for classic confrontations later this month and later into the season.

The All-Star Game is about a month away, and people are beginning to vote for their favorite players to appear at the mid-summer classic.

And the World Cup is on.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ...

Do most Americans really care about the World Cup?

Well, with our PC world, Americans are supposed to care about the World Cup, and supposed to care about football, or what we call soccer, on these shores.

I will call it what we call it, soccer, and this sport has been shoved down our throats for generations, and sorry, the summer is baseball time, and baseball and soccer do not mix.

Look, the fact is that this boring sport--where players basically run back and forth on a large field and try to score, and 99.99 percent of time, they do nut succeed--is the world's most popular sport, filling stadiums to the gills with people.

And with some knocking our current administration for being so nationalistic, is there a more nationalistic sport than soccer? And in particular, during the World Cup competition?

American advertisers who have bought into this nonsense--feeling for the seemingly 320,859,039th time that soccer would finally take hold here--were taken aback when the American men's team did not even qualify for the tournament.

They had already committed millions in ad dollars to the promotion of the World Cup, and their millions are being wasted, because our own team isn't in it.

Sure, there is more interest in soccer now in America than there has been in previous generations.

Again, I am not being political here, but with so many nationals living in our country now, both legally and illegally, the interest has to be up, but for most Americans, the only sporting cup anyone cares about is probably hockey's Stanley Cup.

And no one can deny that on the junior level, soccer is a popular sport, but once those kids move up in age, they seem to lose interest in the game ...

Because of its "boring" factor.

Those that claim that soccer is the most "scientific" of sports use that as a cover for its lack of scoring, and overall boring stature.

And in the championship series like the World Cup, there can actually be ties?

What other sport, in particular in their respective championship series, allows this nonsense?

And if I hear the use of the world "nil" by supposedly with-it sportscasters to describe zero goals, I will scream.

Look, we have tried every permutation of this sports in this country--indoor, outdoor, professional leagues, network coverage--and it has simply not worked well.

Remember Pele? His coming was thought to be the turning point for soccer in America, an international sports celebrity who was actually going to try to get Americans interested in the sport.

Sure, I guess it worked briefly, but by the late 1970s, it all fell apart.

The sports has had other celebrities try to bring Americans up to speed with soccer--David Beckham, for one--and it simply has not worked.

So soccer, and its World Cup, are simply the PC world's dream, highlighting a sport that will be nothing but a niche competition in the U.S. for the foreseeable future.

And sure, Mexico can rock its nation to a minor earthquake when it comes out of nowhere to win a game, sure, American sportscasters can all of a sudden become interested in a sport that they normally wouldn't cover, and sure, Americans can all of a sudden have some interest, like they have in certain sports during the Olympics, but no, soccer is never going to take off here, no matter what some people think, and more importantly, like some people want.

So if you have any interest, watch the World Cup, feign interest as if your very life depended on it, but honestly, I would rather watch Aaron Judge hit a mammoth shot into the stands than see Rinaldo take a shot at the goal and try to score.

There is really no comparison, is there?

Classic Rant #818 (October 8, 2012): Our National Pasttime

I just love baseball.

There is nothing better than the six months of drama that unfolds every year when the baseball season begins in April and ends in October.

Yesterday, the baseball playoffs heated up, and the New York Yankees were among the winning teams in yesterday's games, pulling out a nail biter that turned into a route via a five-run ninth inning, leading to a 7-2 win.

Today, they face the tough Baltimore Orioles again, and hopefully, the game won't be delayed by more than two hours by rain as last night's game was.

It's just one win on the road to the World Series, but it was great getting off on the right foot in game one.

Anyway, 56 years ago today, the Yankees won another game, but this game was something different entirely.

Don Larsen, basically a journeyman pitcher during his career, cemented himself in the annals of baseball history, pitching a perfect game against the crosstown rival Brooklyn Dodgers.

No one has matched this game, either before or since.

Larsen would have been, pretty much, a forgotten pitcher if not for this feat. and he normally shows up at Yankees oldtimer games, and gets a warm round of applause for his achievement during that game, a contest during which, at least for a game, he was the greatest pitcher on earth.

Larsen made the news recently, as he decided to sell some personal memorabilia from that game in order to finance his grandchildren's education.

Good for him. He has been a class act since that wonderful day.

Also yesterday, the Atlantic League's Long Island Ducks won their league championship in a game that was decided in the ninth inning.

It's the second time the Ducks have won a championship, and although it's independent league, minor league baseball, there is something to say about the popularity of baseball, even when the weather begins to get colder.

The Ducks are the centerpiece of this league, the league's most successful franchise.

They have a beautiful ballpark, they have fans nearly as boisterous as the Yankees do, and their league started from nothing and has become a resource for major league baseball teams to find players who fall through the cracks.

How about Lew Ford, who was in the starting lineup for the Orioles last night? He is an alum of the league and the Ducks.

This is the league that allowed Roger Clemens the chance to pitch this year, and a league which will soon announce a division devoted entirely to the state of Texas.

Yes, the Atlantic League will field several teams from that state.

Go figure.

But as Yankees radio voice John Sterling has said many, many times over the years, "You just can't figure baseball."

And you can't.

Even though some would deny it, it remains our national pastime, a game that is so easy to understand that pre-schoolers get it, yet so complex that it takes cybermetrics to understand it.

And I love it, I really do.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Rant #2,164: Big Shot

Yes, I had a very good Father's Day, actually a super Father's Day weekend.

I hope you had as good a weekend as I did.

It all started on Thursday evening. I left work early for my son's work meeting, as I always do throughout the year.

Usually, I am dead tired when I have to take him to the meeting, because after a difficult day of work, I have to travel a great distance to get him to his meeting, anywhere between 60 to 80 miles round trip depending on where it is held.

This unique situation is caused by the fact that we live in one county, but my son works in another, and the work meetings are held by county, sort of midway to accommodate workers from that particular county, who generally work in the county.

We don't, so it makes for a long, long drive after work.

But we didn't mind it too much this time around, simply because his work meeting was what they called a "social," and this year, it was held at a Long Island Ducks baseball game.

It was a combined social and fundraiser, and we got there, and found that we had terrific seats down the left field line.

This is minor league baseball, so that is pretty much what you get--no, it's not the Yankees or even the Mets--but it was fun.

We saw an 11-inning game which the Ducks ended up losing, but there is nothing like going to the ballpark and seeing baseball live, major or minor league.

A couple of balls were hit our way, but my bucket list could not be checked off because I didn't catch anything. Fifty-four years without having caught a foul ball ... and counting.

Friday I had my big eye doctor visit, and it could not have gone better.

I was given a clean bill of health ... in fact, the doctor said that my eyes were "remarkable," and when I heard that, I breathed a sigh of relief.

And what's more, I don't have to go back there for another year.

I couldn't see clearly for the remainder of the day, but it was all worth it.

On Saturday, in the morning my family visited my father in law at the Veterans home, and he appears to be doing pretty well.

We gave him his Father's Day gifts, and he seemed to be in good spirits.

In the afternoon, my wife and I went swimming in the newly refurbished backyard pool.

A couple of storms had ravaged the pool over the winter, but it was resurrected, and I have to say, it is a godsend on a hot day, which Saturday was.

I covered myself up pretty good--wore a T-shirt in the water, wore my Yankees hat on my head, and put plenty of sunscreen on my nose--and we spent a few hours in the pool, and it was pretty relaxing.

In the evening, my son and I watched one of the two pay-per-view wrestling events that the WWE put on in Chicago this weekend, and yes, as is my habit, I missed about half of it because I fell asleep right in the middle of the action.

On Sunday, the big day, we had a houseful of people over from both sides of our family, to celebrate Father's Day. I managed to watch a little of the Yankees' Oldtimers Day festivities--I saw the Nick Swisher second-deck home run--but really not much.

I barbecued, made way too much food, everyone ate and everybody had fun.

I was pooped, but got up enough energy to watch the second WWE pay-per-view this past weekend in the evening.

And yes, I missed most of the show, as I conked out pretty early on.

So yes, it was full weekend, but now, it is only a good memory, and it is back to work, or for me, back to the gates of hell.

Back to looking for other work, back to getting frustrated, back to putting my nose to the grindstone.

And the worst thing ... back to wearing long pants and a tie and shoes.

It is supposed to be in the mid to upper 90s today, and it doesn't matter to me, because I will be inside enjoying the constant 78 degrees that the office is set at year round all day.

But let me tell you, it was so good being a big shot for at least a weekend.

Now, it's the same old, same old, at least for a few days.

Happy belated Father's Day to all, and to all, a good morning!

Classic Rant #817 (October 5, 2012): Listen to the Music

OK, let me get this out of the way right at the get-go: I have lost all faith in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to get anything right.

Their nominations are usually brutal, serving no purpose but to glorify acts that generally aren’t worthy, and to create great public debate.

Well, this year’s list of nominees takes the cake as probably the worst set of nominees ever.

First-time nominees Rush, Deep Purple, N.W.A., Public Enemy, Albert King, the Marvelettes and Procol Harum join previously nominated acts Chic, Heart, Donna Summer, Kraftwerk, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Randy Newman, Paul Butterfield Blues Band and The Meters.

My question: Do any of these acts really deserve to be in there?

I will give a nod to the Marvelettes. They had numerous hits, including “Please Mr. Postman” and, my personal favorite, “The Hunter Gets Captured By the Game,” and they paved the way for a group like the Supremes to make it big.

But beyond that, who else truly merits consideration?

Rush? Maybe. They are the true FM-oriented act, never garnering much airplay on pop radio at all, but having numerous FM airplay hits and LPs to garner a solid consideration.

Deep Purple? Maybe. I loved “Hush” and “Smoke on the Water,” but their time was brief, very brief. They have reformed a few times, and I kind of like their music, so I will give them a maybe.

The rest of the acts reek of political correctness. N.W.A. and Public Enemy will probably get in, for the thinking is that the Hall of Fame must be all inclusive, including musical acts that have absolutely nothing to do with rock at all.

Kraftwerk was basically a one-hit synthesizer wonder, it that at all, and Heart is important as the first true self-contained rock and roll act led by women to make it big.

The rest don’t even merit the least bit of consideration.

I do get why these acts were nominated, but I simply, as a true rock and roll fan, do not understand why, let’s say, Glen Campbell is not in there.

I don’t understand why Chubby Checker is not in there.

I don’t understand why Paul Revere and the Raiders are not in there.

I don’t understand why the Monkees are not in there.

But on the other hand, I do understand.

They do not fall into the vision of the man who runs the place, initials J.W., so these acts aren’t even on the map as far as this person is concerned.

Again, it is this person’s personal choice, and I have made my personal choice.

Until a more representative group of acts is nominated and gains entrance, I won’t ever bother to visit the place.

I mean, what’s the point?

My suggestion: Allow fans in on the nominations. Fans look at acts differently than supposedly in the know industry types do. You cannot have a representative Rock and Roll Hall of Fame without consideration from the fans.

And without such consideration, I repeat, what's the point?

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Rant #2,163: Happy Father's Day Mrs. Robinson, This Guy's In Love With You

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!

If Mother's Day is the holiest day of the year, then Father's Day has to be the most fun day of the year,

Barbecues, baseball and relaxation are certainly the things that we dads do that day, and you know what, we deserve it!

And a special happy Father's Day greeting to my own dad, who at 86 is my personal rock. I hope I can be as strong as he is if and when I get to his age. He is a pretty remarkable guy.

Now that I got that one out of the way, today we take one of our periodic looks back at the music that shaped our lives 50 years ago.

It's June 14 today, but we're going to look back on the Billboard Hot 100 top 10 singles for the week of June 15, 1968, so while it's not quite 50 years, it's close enough for our purposes.

And I am sure there are quite a few dads--and moms--on this list.

So what was the No. 1 single in America 50 years ago tomorrow?

It was Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson," the song from the movie "The Graduate," which topped the chart this week. This was its third and final week at the top spot, and would be replaced by this week's No. 2 song--

"This Guy's In Love With You," by Herb Alpert. This was one of Alpert's rare vocal songs, and even with his thin voice, he carries the tune over well. And no, the Tijuana Brass are not credited on the "A" side of the single. I think this stands as the perfect Father's Day tune.

Coming in at No. 3 is Tommy James and the Shondells' "Mony Mony," which got its name from a Mutual of New York sign that James saw outside his window one day.

Another song with a repetitive name came in at No. 4 this week. "Yummy Yummy Yummy" by the Ohio Express pretty much defined what "bubblegum music" was, with its lyrics a mix of innocence and more adult undertones.

As simple as "Yummy Yummy Yummy" may have been, the complexities of the No. 5 song this week are still being discussed to this day. "MacArthur Park" by another unlikely singer, actor Richard Harris, was the fifth most popular song this week, and what exactly does the cake represent?

A former No. 1 tune, "Tighten Up" by Archie Bell and the Drells, follows at No. 6, with Aretha Franklin's soul classic, "Think," at No. 7.

The Rascals' "A Beautiful Morning" is at No. 8, while another movie soundtrack song, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" by Hugo Montenegro, is the No. 9 song for the week.

Rounding out the top 10 was "The Look of Love" by Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66. Lani Hall, one of the female voices on the record, was and still is Herb Alpert's wife, so the family had a very good week on the charts this week.

The highest debut single, at No, 61, was "D.W. Washburn" by the Monkees. With the TV show canceled and heading into "Head," the song only got up to No. 19 on the charts, and stands as the TV rock group's last real hit with the four stars of the show/band in tow.

The biggest mover of the week--the song that went up the most number of places on the chart from last week to this week--was "Face It Girl, It's Over" by jazz/pop stylist Nancy Wilson. The song would eventually get up to No. 29 on the chart.

So there you have it, a top 10 filled with classics, forgotten songs and others that simply resonate inside our brain every time we hear them

As I said last week, for myself, this is a month of doctors, and I have a major appointment tomorrow--nothing serious at all, but it is one of those appointments that, let's say, resonates through the day for me.

So I won't be at this perch tomorrow, and I will next speak to you on Monday.

Have a great Friday and a great weekend, happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there, and I will speak to you again on Monday.