Monday, April 30, 2018

'Mooners Monday: Opportunity Knocks But

You know, this is a funny episode that need not hang its head, but for some reason I just can't think of much to say about it. It offers some great Honeymooners staples: Ralph getting jealous of Norton over some mix-up, Ralph's shameless courting of his boss' affection, and billiards! Yet I don't see a need to do much other than sit back and enjoy it.

The Official Honeymooners Treasury doesn't add much to the conversation, giving this episode a measly 3 pages including the "title page" that sets up each episode chapter with the name, writers, airdate, and a still frame. That leaves just 2 pages of trivia and none of the tidbits/interview excerpts that make the book such a regular riot.

So maybe there isn't a ton that stands out to us, but I'd love to hear from others about memorable moments. Opportunity does feature maybe my favorite "Ralph throws out Ed" of all time. Ralph gets progressively angry as Ed talks about being Ralph's boss at the Gotham Bus Company.

Finally, Ralph erupts and gives the wordless heave-ho, made even funnier by Ed's wordless confirmation that he is indeed being kicked off the premises.


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Streaming Video Power Rankings #108

1) Hulu: I've been watching Gotham and Brooklyn Nine-Nine here, but I am also looking forward to the new Hulu original documentary about Barbie. Handmaid's Tale is still the flagship original, and it is getting excellent reviews. As if that weren't enough (and, hey, it isn't enough; I mean, we're all paying for this, so why not ask for more),  several older series are getting the ol' streaming treatment from me as I get ready for more Battle of the Network Shows episodes.

2) Netflix: I wasn't feeling well one night, and it was nice to be able to just put on a Frasier and relax, no muss, no fuss. In other news, a bunch of Disney stuff is leaving in May, and that's bad. However, there are plenty of premieres this week. Candy Jar is about a high school debate team, which sounds like a tired premise and--wait, Christina Hendricks is in it? Hmm...

The CW/Netflix deal actually has me watching less CW because those shows appear so quickly on here. There is a new Sandler/Rock movie, and it probably sucks but will be one of the most viewed things on the SVOD all month. And, er, ah, I am, er, ah, intrigued by the RFK docuseries because even though I am weary of Kennedy mythology, I enjoy political history docs. Another interesting bit of news: Netflix is creating a podcast based on its true crime docuseries like Making a Murderer.

3) Disney Now: My kids were delighted to discover the entire run of XD sitcom Kickin' It on here months after it left Netflix. At a minimum, that Disney paid service that's coming should have everything on Disney Now. At a minimum. I still worry it's gonna be stingy. Witness all the titles leaving Netflix in May, like the Favreau Jungle Book that premiered on Netflix less than a year and a half ago. That Netflix/Disney deal was cool but not nearly as extensive as many thought. I'm betting that's Disney's doing.

4) Filmstruck: I will probably not sign on right away now that my trial has expired, but it's not because I don't love Filmstruck. I just have a ton of other stuff to watch and have to give this one a break. It will be back, though, and this week it added Busby Berkley flicks, a ton of Ozu movies, and Star of the Week Marlon Brando (including TCM Select addition A Streetcar Named Desire).

As for me, I saw The Goodbye Girl and The Sunshine Boys. I guess it was Herbert Ross Week at Cultureshark Tower.

5) Warner Archive Instant: Consider this a final goodbye to the perennial underachiever that still brought me much joy over the last few years. I went out watching some Dr. Kildare, a show I grew to love after discovering it here. I make another plea for Warner or someone to provide a home for the rare vintage TV that was prominent on WAI.

6) WWE Network: Hey, whaddya know, thanks to a spectacular deal, I am a subscriber again. The bloated Saudi Arabia-set cash grab event it aired Friday wasn't great, but it was content. Personally I enjoyed the Bruno Sammartino tribute special it unveiled Monday and will be happy watching old stuff into the summer.

7) YouTube: When I got an old Rainbow Brite jingle in my head and wanted to play it for my on kids, where did I turn? My own personal collection? Nope. YouTube. I'm also pleased that Lou Grant episodes are still here.

8) HBO Go/HBO Now: I finally saw La La Land thanks to HBO. Barry is getting great reviews, and even when  there is bad Game of Thrones news--like another reminder that the novels are never gonna be finished--it seems to only stir interest in the return of the TV series.

9) IFC: There isn't a lot going on here, but the great Brockmire is back, and I was able to see the second-season premiere free of charge, so that is a big plus right there.

10) My Retro Flix: After months of inaction, this channel added a bunch of old Our Gang shorts. It sneaks into the top 10 by reminding us it exists.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

5Q Movie Review: Black Panther

This time, I am going to do this a little differently and give the questions but not the answers. Yes, I will let you the reader do the work!

OK, now that I drove off all of my readership, I think Black Panther is a good movie that I place in the top tier of modern Marvel Comics movies. I enjoyed it much more than I did the last two Avengers joints.

These are 5 questions the movie makes me ponder. It feels like I was the last person to see this, so why bother attempting a straight review?

Q: Isn't it great that the setting and tone was so distinct from other recent Marvel movies? Shouldn't Marvel mix it up a little more going forward? (OK, that's two, but they're related)

Q: While the movie feels like it is about something and like it considers ideas and principles in a way unlike recent Marvel movies (Captain America: Civil War should have had some amount of depth), would it have been even more provocative by making Killmonger less of a cartoonish villain?

At points in the movie, mainly the beginning and end of Killmonger's arc, there is some sympathy for his character, but in between he goes over the top and lets characters and viewers off the hook a bit. You could argue that some of his ideas are worth considering, but he ultimately is just a selfish super villain with less credibility than, say, Magneto in the recent X-Men movies. I understand why the movie didn't go this direction, but presenting him as a legit  counterpoint to T'Challa would have made a fascinating alternate movie.

Q: In "real life" how would the United Nations react to a high-minded speech about making the world better and leading the right way from a country that determines its leader in part through MMA-style brawls to the death? What would the reaction be if a country of white-skinned people had a succession ritual that involved such a practice? Wouldn't people call it barbaric? Is there a difference if it is put forth as an African "tradition"?

Q: Isn't the idea of rule by monarch kind of outdated in today's world? Wouldn't it be interesting to learn more about  the inner workings of Wakanda and see why intelligent people with such sophisticated technology still go by the old tradition of rule by King? I for one hope we see more of Wakanda in the sequel. I don't really care about how it interacts with the outside world, at least not yet when there is so much more to go with here. And by the way, the notion that the country could keep such secrets hidden for so long strikes me as a thin one, so it's cool that the movie ditches it by the end.

Q: Why in the world would I buy a regular popcorn for $1 less than the large popcorn when the latter is about 3 times as big? (It had been a while since I bought food at a movie theater)

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Streaming Video Power Rankings #107

1) Warner Archive Instant: Ladies and gentlemen, I have fulfilled my life's destiny and watched all episodes of Eight Is Enough on WAI. Umpteen months of WAI is still less than the 200-250 bucks it would have cost to buy the DVDs. That is why I will miss Warner Instant when it goes dark this week. I won't get through all the Dr. Kildare, but I enjoyed quite a bit of that classic series over the years as well. Farewell, WAI, and may something like Harry O somehow find another streaming home.

2) HBO Go: The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling is amazing and worth the price of a month of HBO alone, and the fact that all of The Larry Sanders Show is right there to dive into afterwards is a fantastic bonus.

3) Netflix: Still the easiest and best place to watch Cheers even though it is streaming seemingly everywhere. Therefore, when Harry Anderson died this week and I wanted to see a Harry the Hat episode, I went to Netflix. It sure would be great if Night Court were streaming somewhere.

Otherwise, Netflix got some headlines this week, but none of the adds really excite me. Kodachrome and Mercury 13 sound good, but otherwise, just a quiet and steady week of Netflix while I binged on Eight Is Enough.

4) Filmstruck: New this week are a bunch of Liz Taylor movies, early Hitchcock, a selection from the Maysles brothers, and a fun mini-category called "it Could Be Worse," featuring Wag the Dog, Escape from New York, and Mars Attacks! Personal note on that last one: I have a fond memory of seeing it with my dad when it opened, the two of us laughing and having a blast the whole time and wondering as we left why the hell nobody else in the theater seemed to be enjoying it. Did they think it was supposed to be a straight-up action/sci-fi movie?

I watched Mario Bava's Planet of Vampires (as opposed to Woody Allen's Planet of Vampires, right?)  and All the Marbles, which has to be the definitive Peter Falk women's wrestling movie.

5) Prime Video: Thank you, Prime, for making possible an upcoming episode of Battle of the Network Shows, the smash podcast covering TV of the 1970s and 1980s.  Thank you, also, for adding goofy stuff like the 1978 paranormal documentary The Force Beyond, which has to be worth at least a look.

6) Hulu: Hey, it looks like new episodes of Teen Titans Go! are fresh on the service, which may prevent my kids from going back to Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Also, word is strong on Handmaid's Tale season 2, and there is a lot of buzz about the upcoming Catch 22 series, even if George Clooney is stepping out of a lead role.

7) YouTube:  Honestly, it would get a spot in the top 10 just for the Mickey Rooney/David Naughton Dr. Pepper commercial that was uploaded this week.

8) The CW: I thought Black Lightning delivered a satisfying conclusion to its first season. Let's hope it maintains its distinctive voice next season and avoids rehashing what we saw this time out. There is some real potential here.

9) Boomerang: Captain Planet is free this weekend in honor of Earth Day!

OK, so I don't know anyone who watched the show when it originally aired, nor anyone who watched it since. It's still cool of Boomerang to do this.

10) FX Now: I still have major issues with FX Now, even if it does brag about now having Fox shows and National Geographic shows, but Atlanta is so good that I have to be thankful this exists.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Half-Assed Gourmet: DQ is your source for country gravy and toast?

On various "apps" and streaming video services, I keep running into a Dairy Queen ad touting "fan food"--not fast food, mind you, but fan food--in the form of a chicken strip basket. I am not a regular Dairy Queen customer, and it's been years since I had anything besides ice cream, but when I have indulged, I have enjoyed it. I recall the best thing being how freaking hot it was. I guess when you are the only idiot that comes in and makes them fire up the grill for a burger, you have a good shot at getting something fresh and sizzling.

I don't think this promotion is going to lure me in there. The chicken strips look fine--I mean, they're chicken strips; how can they not be--but DQ muddies the waters by introducing an actual murky liquid: GRAVY. It's not just any gravy, it's country gravy.

I hate gravy. I don't like it with turkey, not with sausage, and not with chicken strips. I hate gravy so much that if nacho cheese, which I love, were called Mexican gravy, I would hate it. Under no circumstances do I want any gravy-ish substance in a basket of fast food. How about some honey mustard of buffalo sauce instead? That's how I roll. No disrespect intended to Rural America.

Fortunately, DQ offers its country gravy in a side cup, so I presume that even if I begged them to leave it out of the basket and they forgot, I could pluck it away from the food and hurl it into the sun the way Superman did when Lex Luthor tried to poison the Metropolis water supply with generic country gravy (Ed. Note: See Weird-Ass Adventures #46.4). That's a good thing, but we need to talk about something else, the other thing that the commercial feels worthy of a hearty brag.

This basket comes with toast.

Yep, toast.

Part of the reason I eat fast food is that I want something I can't make at home with speed or ease. Toast is perhaps the single easiest thing one can make. Why go to a fast food joint and pay for it? Even if you consider it a throw-in, it looks superfluous. Chicken, fries...toast. Just how good can it be to make it seem like a big deal? IT'S TOAST!

Are we supposed to dip our toast in the country gravy? We know that ain't happening. Look, I don't mind toast as a delightful complement to real food in a breakfast platter, or as a quick wake-me-up in the morning, but let's not make toast a fast food thing, country or not.

Hey, wait! I just figured out how Dairy Queen can make me care about its toast. Put some ice cream on it, then some whipped cream, then some bananas slices, and then some chocolate syrup. Then just hold the toast, bring me a bill for the banana split, and then you haven't broken any rules.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Behind the Rankings: To find out about Netflix, go to YouTube

I mentioned before my pet peeve of websites that run a list of "What's Coming to Netflix Next Month" but either just run a list of titles or, worse, describe movies like Lethal Weapon or Zootopia but give zero info on the long list of originals. In any given month, there are a few Netflix Originals I have heard about, a few others I heard about but forgot long ago, and then a whole bunch about which I know nothing.

THAT is the kind of info we need, not propaganda like, "You're gonna love the fact that the original Batman movies are back for their annual stint!" Have you really investigated all the original series and movies before they drop? There are documentaries and foreign series and standup specials and--oh, no, now I am starting to sound like propaganda.

My point is that if it doesn't have Adam Sandler or a talking robot, chances are we don't know much about it. This is why I now appreciate the Looper YouTube channel so much. Each month, the site puts together a sizzle reel of sorts highlight all the stuff coming to Netflix. It distinguishes itself from the sizzle reel Netflix itself puts out by showing many more titles and by using words.

Yes, words. See, pretty pictures are enough to sell a project sometimes, but when you have 5-10 seconds before moving on to the next glamour shot, it helps to have a little context. Looper does this with concise, sometimes cheeky voiceover commentary that explains what the heck these Netflix Originals are.

It sounds like a simple concept, right? Yeah, it is, but I don't see many others doing it. I don't need to see a bunch of cool shots of Lost In Space; the trailer for something like that has already been circulating.  What I need is a bit of background on the Brazilian crime drama or the war movie or the reality show about fashion models competing in barbecue contests. OK, actually, I am fine prejudging that last one and don't need any info, but my point stands.

So consider this a shout-out to Looper. It looks like they run a lot of clickbait, but, hey, clickbait ain't always bad.  More importantly, at least once a month they offer a great service to Netflix subscribers.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Streaming Video Power Rankings Week #106

We are a little late with the rankings this week, but that doesn't make them any less rank. Hopefully you were able to hold your wagers until now. It's been a busy week at Cultureshark Tower with less time for streaming video, but we will give it our all as always.

1) Netflix: It remains my go-to #1 for weeks in which I am not watching much, and I don't see a lot exciting going on here, but despite mediocre reviews, Lost in Space interests me. A certain YouTube channel, of all things, has bolstered my appreciation for Netflix. Finally, if you are like me and the news of R. Lee Ermey's death makes you want to check out Full Metal Jacket to see one of the most memorable performances in modern film, then this is the place to stream it.

2) Warner Archive: OK, I lied. I have been streaming a lot. It's just that soooo much of it is Eight Is Enough and Dr. Kildare. The former might show up on Hulu or Prime someday--maybe--but I fear something like Kildare will never stream again, to say nothing of lesser shows like The Gallant Men and Cain's Hundred.

3) WWE Network: I didn't partake in WrestleMania this year, but many did, and the Network is coming out of its biggest stretch of the year. The Network version of the smash hit podcast Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard might actually bring some new subscribers, and co-host Conrad Thompson promoted it on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast this week.

4) YouTube: In addition to the channel I mentioned in item #1 (see a Behind the Rankings this week for more on that), SeanMc's channel brought lots of great promos and commercials. Don Giller continues to do tremendous work with his Letterman-centric channel. This weekend he uploaded a clip of Milos Forman on Late Night to mark the director's death. I mean, I have come to expect a timely upload on this channel when a celebrity dies, but Milos Forman on Letterman? Great pull.

5) Prime Video: It gets credit for providing fodder for my podcast this week, and I should give it credit for premiering the new season of Bosch this week, even though I screwed up and said it was debuting several weeks ago. Also, Amazon made an interesting deal with FilmRise to provide ad-supported free Prime streaming of some TV series.

6) Filmstruck: I didn't watch anything here this week--shame on me--but the service added dozens of films based on themes like Charles Laughton, John Ford comedies, Los Angeles, and Vincente Minelli. Plus it is streaming the original The Big Sleep. How can you not appreciate a service that offers The Big Sleep?

7) Hulu: Did you see that survey that showed how little original content versus licensed content is streamed on here? The big takeaway: Put up the rest of those FoxMary Tyler Moore shows. Of course, that's my takeaway for any story involving Hulu, but still.

Anyone else think King of the Hill is an ideal and necessary fit for Hulu?

8) The CW: The season is winding down, but it's been a strong one for my core 3: Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightning, The Flash. It surprises me to write Flash may be the least compelling of the 3 this year, and, wow, I think I almost forgot about Supergirl on its hiatus--not a good sign.

9) HBO Go: Look for this one to shoot up in the rankings next week after I get to some more stuff. I enjoyed the Andre the Giant doc, but I haven't been able to see the Paterno movie nor all of the Garry Shandling doc (hey, that one IS 4 hours, after all). The new Wyatt Cenec series is intriguing, as does the two-part Elvis documentary (It's kind of ironic that every HBO documentary is so massive now except the Andre one).

10 Watch ESPN: The Roku ESPN channel that allows access to on-demand programming and the ESPN3 live events cable/satellite subscribers get. I list it here because getting DirectTV Now reminds me how useful this is. It may be the last week it makes the rankings, though, because ESPN-Plus, a new PAID SVOD service, has stripped this of much of its content. 'Fortunately" there is no Roku version yet, so people like me haven't seen the exodus of so much material from Watch ESPN...yet.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

5Q Movie Review: These Three

I enjoyed These Three  (1936, directed by William Wyler and written by Lillian Hellman) on Filmstruck last month. It is not currently streaming there, but it is available on DVD via Warner Archive.

Q: Hey, whatsa big idea writing about something you saw on Filmstruck that isn't on Filmstruck anymore?
A: Well, excuuuuse me! I watched it when I did because it was leaving the service, and I didn't get to this quick enough. However, it shows up on TCM, it is available on DVD through Warner Archive, and it may well return to Filmstruck. I recommend catching it when you can! It stars Joel McCrea, Miriam Hopkins, and Merle "The Pearl" Oberon (OK, that's not her nickname, but I have been watching a lot of Eight Is Enough) in a compelling melodrama about...well, read on.

Q: How does this compare to other adaptations of Hellman's infamous play The Children's Hour?
A: Uh, I can compare them this way: There is this one, which I have seen, and then all the others, which I have not seen. So that's how they compare.

I do know the source material was about lesbianism, and 1936 wasn't ready for that, so we get a love triangle of sorts. Oberon and Hopkins are best friends who open a boarding school after graduating college, and they meet a strapping young doctor (McCrea) who they both admire...only Oberon is the one who gets romantically involved. There is a misunderstanding and a mean (some might day evil) maneuver by Bonita Granville's horrible brat character, and it leads to...SCANDAL!

This film, Wyler's breakthrough as a studio director, exposes the biggest problem facing sensible people in the olden days.

Q: So what was the biggest problem facing sensible people in the olden days?
A: Some might say gossip, some might say rumor, some might say jumping to conclusions, but I say that These Three reveals the menace of...OLD BIDDIES! That's right, the film is loaded with annoying old biddie-ism, from Hopkins' ultra-annoying freeloader of an aunt to Granville's ultra-powerful and ultra-close-minded granddaughter. The performances are fine, but, wow, are those characters irritating. You want to yell at the screen. Granville's malevolent brat is the villain of the piece, but she's just a kid. The old biddies should know better.

Q: How long is the movie?
A: It's about 93 minutes, and I'm glad you asked because it's about 15-20 minutes too long. I don't mean that the pacing is slow or anything. The movie is absorbing for much of its running time, but the last portion of it (pretty much starting with the trial) isn't as satisfying as the rest. Surely the Production Code restrictions had a lot to do with that.

Q: Filmstruck occasionally offers supplemental material for its movies. Did it make available the music video of Heart singing These Three with gauzy clips of the Wilson sisters vamping on stage alternating with shots from the movie?
A: All...All they had up was a brief clip of Wyler's son talking about the movie, and I was...I was happy to have that. Now...I kind of want this.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Streaming Video Power Rankings #105

1) Amazon Prime: In addition to the joy of the Dean Martin roasts and Laugh-In, Prime quietly added seasons 1, 3, and 5 of The Dukes of Hazzard and seasons 1-4 of Chips. So we get to see the New Dukes but not the New Cops in the final days of the latter least not yet!

These aren't the most prestigious adds Prime has had this year, but it may be a good sign that some of the TV product that might have gone to Warner Archive Instant might show up elsewhere. Now, Prime, how about adding the old Filmation DC Comics cartoons?

Also, Prime added The Florida Project and in a surprise move (Remember, those "Here's what's coming on __ in the month of __ are not definitive) started streaming 4 NBC/UNI series: House, Friday Night Lights, Parks and Recreation, and Eureka. I confess I totally forgot what Eureka was, but it sounds like a fun show. Good week for Prime.

2) Hulu: Thanks to Hulu for enabling my furious season 1 Atlanta watch so I could catch up before FX yanks the season 2 episodes from its app. See, the FX "app" is stingy, but that's a story for another post. Prestige series The Looming Tower ends this week, but I still can't motivate myself to watch it. Another set of National Treasure episodes just premiered, too.

3) Filmstruck: Folks, I don't want to stop getting Filmstruck when the free period expires. It's so great to know that at any given time, there are tons of great movies available, and the variety is better than ever. This week, I personally watched My Favorite Year and Rodan, but just added are The Thing, Reservoir Dogs, Infernal Affairs, T-Men, Gigi, The Spirit of St. Louis, and more. I was curious about a certain director's work, and I looked for the availability of some of his movies, and, bam, a bunch were on Filmstruck.

4) WWE Network: It's WrestleMania weekend, and that means it's the biggest week of the year for the network. Also, it uploaded a pretty sweet Andre the Giant collection timed to coincide with HBO's new documentary and a large drop of library content.

5) Pix 11:  It uploaded some assorted archival WPIX stuff last week, including a complete newscast from 1980. Boy, was it a far cry from the fancy-shmancy sets that would come later. This show, highlighted by coverage of a looming transit strike, consists of a guy reading news in front of a bank of video monitors in an editing room. it even has original commercials.

6) Warner Archive Instant: I'm almost done with Eight Is Enough season 4, and then...dare I attempt to make it through the morass that is season 5 and the Ralph Macchio Era?

7) Netflix: The lowest it has been in a long time, but it's a weird week. Yeah, it added a lot of Originals, but there is a BUT for every one. David Letterman's chat show is back, BUT I have no interest in hearing from Jay Z. There's a big comedy special, BUT I am not a big Seth Rogen fan. There's a big-budget historical epic series (Troy: Fall of a City), BUT it has a 2.8 average rating on IMDB. There's a new animated series, BUT it's based on The Boss Baby. There's a new reality show,'s a reality show. There's a new movie that sounds intriguing (6 Balloons), but it has Dave Franco. Seriously, right after I poke fun at how much stuff the guy shows up in, here he is again?

There may be something for someone in here, and Despicable Me 3 is a nice premiere to have, but I am busy enjoying other streaming services right now.

8) TuneIn: If TuneIn only offered Deep Oldies, it would still merit consideration. My pick for "Hey, They Played THAT of the Week": Words by The Monkees.

9) DirectTV NOW: It's a little odd to put this here, but I set precedent by ranking PlayStation Vue when I signed up for a month of that. It IS a channel on Roku, sort of. There is a great introductory deal floating around I decided to grab, and while I wasn't missing it, it is nice to have access to mainstream live television. The big drawback right now: No DVR for Roku, and they claim to be working on it, but if they want to be taken seriously as an option for more than a month or two at a time, they need to get that going.

A great thing about this service is it offers HBO for only $5 a month. Therefore...

10) HBO: I have the GO version after getting authorization through DirectTV Now, and I gotta say, getting this for 5 bucks a month makes you realize how overpriced some other things are. I haven't had much time to explore this, but I love that so much of the HBO library is available on demand (unlike with you. FX), and by the way, I watched a 1979 episode of Sesame Street that may have been the most entertaining thing I saw all week.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

MLB Teams Ranked in Ascending Order of the Coolness of Their Managers' Surnames

THE BOTTOM TIER (Nondescript/not much to say about them):

30) Philadelphia Phillies Gabe Kapler

29) Atlanta Braves Brian Snitker

28) Milwaukee Brewers Craig Counsell

27) Cincinnati Reds Bryan Price

26) New York Yankees Aaron Boone: Aaron just doesn't seem as outdoorsy as Boone, so he suffers from the dissonance.

25) Anaheim Angels Mike Sciosia: I checked 3 times and still can't spell it right, and this is a guy I remember catching for the Dodgers.

24) Miami Marlins Don Mattingly

23) Texas Rangers Jeff Bannister

22) Boston Red Sox Alex Cora: Needs a cool nickname, like "CoCo Cora."

MIDDLE-TIER (sound like decent salt-of-the-earth types you could have a beer with)

21) Chicago Cubs Joe Maddon

20) San Diego Padres Andy Green

19) L.A. Dodgers Dave Roberts

18) Washington Nationals Dave Martinez

NEXT TIER: (Something distinctive but not worthy of the top tier)

17) Detroit Tigers Ron Gardenhire: Decent guy, runs the hardware store, fixture at the local VFW.

16) Tampa Bay Rays Kevin Cash: Maybe a tick away from having a good action star name.

15) Cleveland Indians Terry Francona: I am ranking him higher than he deserves because I can't detach him from the "Tito" nickname.

14) St. Louis Cardinals Mike Matheny: Elevated slightly by the alliteration.

13) Toronto Blue Jays John Gibbons: Sounds like he should be a snooty Humanities professor at a Liberal Arts school--not that it's a bad thing, mind you.

12) Seattle Mariners Scott Servais: I always liked the fact that at one point there was a Scott Service and a Scott Servais on active MLB rosters. Hey, is Scott Service managing anywhere?

11) Minnesota Twins Paul Molitor: I was always fascinated by the name "Molitor," which I have never heard anywhere except attached to this Hall of Famer-turned-manager

10) Chicago White Sox Rick Renteria: bonus points for "Rick."

9) Arizona Diamondbacks Torey Lovullo: This name just...confounds me. I don't know what to make of it.

8) New York Mets Mickey Callaway: Should be playing Vaudeville as part of a family act.


7) Baltimore Orioles Buck Showalter: BUCK earns a man automatic entry into the upper tier of baseball names.

6) Houston Astros A.J. Hinch: Similar to "Buck."

5) Oakland Athletics Bob Melvin: This name is so uncool that it somehow becomes cool. This is like the Pabst Blue Ribbon of baseball names.

4) Pittsburgh Pirates Clint Hurdle:  I am a big Pirates fan, but I like Clint because he sounds like he's one syllable away from being a Flintstones character.

3) San Francisco Giants Bruce Bochy: "BOACH" may be the best managerial nickname in all of baseball. It sounds like a crude gesture of some kind.

2) San Diego Padres Bud Black: I mean, this could be a superhero's secret identity.

1) Kansas City Royals Ned Yost: I don't think Ned Yost is a particularly cool manager, but yyou betcha he has a great salt-of-the-earth kind of name. I KNOW they don't make "Ned Yosts" anymore, but the question is, do they even HAVE Ned Yosts anymore? Well, they got one here in Kansas City, and maybe another one in a bowling alley in Iowa, and that's it, so let's appreciate them while we have them.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

In which I make a point many others have already made and others will make again

I just realized the other day that Goodfellas was on Netflix and had been for weeks.

Or did I?

It's already in my queue, and I honestly can't recall if I just added it or if it was on Netflix for years, left, and then returned a few months ago. If something leaves Netflix, it doesn't recall leave your queue. You just can't ever watch it again...until it returns.

I know one thing: I have never watched Goodfellas on Netflix. Why? I have no idea. I think that when HBO used to play it every day right after it hit pay cable, I would watch at least part of if it every day. Now it's sitting here in Netflix gathering dust (and by dust, I mean the kind of "dust" we see in a Scorcese flick, know what I mean) for $#%# (it's a Scorcese flick, but this is a semi-family-friendly website) knows how long...and I am not watching it!

I blame myself. Isn't it weird, though, how what's on TV is somehow more powerful than what is just sitting there on demand, even if you really think it would be cool to sit down and watch it again?

Monday, April 2, 2018

'Mooners Monday: One final life lesson from "On Stage"

Sometimes we learn valuable life lessons from Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton. Take the sage advice Ralph gives us when he contemplates movie stardom after appearing in the Raccoon's fundraiser show. If there's one thing he's learned, he tells his pal...

 "Be kind to the people you meet on the way up..."


"...because you're gonna see them on the way down."

Jackie Gleason's delivery of this is great, with the little head nods really giving you the essence of one of the original "humblebraggers" and how funny this is. As Ed repeats it, he does similar but not identical little head movements.



Of course, Art Carney gets the punchline to close the scene, saying how true that adage is: "Happpens to me all the time in the sewer!"

But it's Gleason's moment, and a great one it is for the Great One. Really, though, isn't it fantastic advice for all of us?

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Streaming Video Power Rankings #104

1) MLB.TV: Because baseball is BACK, baby! Blackout rules still stink, though.

2) Filmstruck: I was set to drop this one a bit since I had time to watch "only" The Westerner and a few shorts on here. But The Westerner is very good! Furthermore, Filmstruck keeps adding things--this week, 'Fish Out of Water Comedies" like Local Hero and My Favorite Year, Ben-Hur in time for Easter, and more.

3) Amazon Prime: The nunsploitation comedy The Little Hours might be amusing, and The Dangeroud Book for Boys is an intriguing original series. One of these days I promise I am going to try Bosch, which is back for season 4 and has already been renewed for a season 5. But Prime is rated high this week on the basis of the totally awesome 1983 comedy Joysticks, about which I hope to write more soon.

4) Hulu: In addition to gaining movies like The Karate Kid for April 1, Hulu added all 12 (!) seasons of NYPD Blue as part of its catalog deal with Fox.

5) Netflix: The April 1 catalog dump isn't inspiring, but check out all the original stuff coming in April. More importantly, I saw a really funny episode of Cheers, which is enough to make me forgive Netflix for giving the world Fuller House and putting it in the Kids section where my own could find it.

6) NBC: Hey, did I mention that in addition to Punky Brewster, NBC's app also added Saved by the Bell: The New Class.? No?

OK, OK, but at least it's something. What did your app add in the last few weeks? Plus I used NBC a lot this week for research for Battle of the Network Shows (season 4 coming soon!)

7) HBO: I love that they gave Judd Apatow the airtime and resources to put together a Garry Shandling documentary, and I am gonna have to get a month or at least a trial of HBO to see it.

8) The Roku Channel: It's added some of the Carsey-Werner sitcoms like Third Rock From the Sun and Cybill to its expanding roster of TV shows.

9) Boomerang: My trial subscription/fantastic 3-month deal expired, so farewell for now, Boomerang. I will put together a mini-review of sorts soon. I am promising a lot this week, aren't I?

10) Warner Archive Instant: I said I would rank it as long as it stuck around, and I have almost a month more to watch it, but I am penalizing it by dropping it this week even though I am still using it a lot. Why? Well, seeing how good and active Filmstruck is angers me because WAI should have received the same kind of attention, the same "TCM Select" branding, etc.