Sunday, December 05, 2010

Let's Get Real -- A Look At My Favorite Reality TV Shows

What a week for reality TV!  Another season of “Hell’s Kitchen” on Fox-TV is coming to a close and it’s hard to believe that any one of the chefs that Chef Ramsey put through the drill this season is capable enough to put polish sausages and nachos together at a local 7-Eleven – but this coming week he’s going to pick one of the remaining two chefs to run his L.A. restaurant with a paycheck of something like $250,000. 

“Hell’s Kitchen” is one of those guilty pleasure reality TV shows.  The premise of the show is the same season after season with twelve chefs of varying skills trying to win the top prize – which is usually being the head chef at one of Chef Ramsey’s restaurants (the ones that are still open and haven’t filed for bankruptcy protection as of yet) – it’s just watching how incompetent these competing chefs are in just being able to complete a service.  Each and every season there is a chef or two that is your basic ‘fish out of water’ who is seeing the big city and bright lights in Hollywood for the very first time.  Then, you have those one or two chefs who think that they know everything who get a rude awakening when Ramsey lets them have it with a verbal tongue lashing.

There’s only one week left to “Hell’s Kitchen” and it’ll be interesting to see who he finally picks to win the whole kit-and-caboodle – but that won’t be the end of the exploits of Chef Ramsey on television – because this Wednesday night BBC America is rolling out another Gordon Ramey  reality TV cooking show.  This time – it’s not just chefs competing to win some outlandish grand prize – it will be restaurants.  Who knows what he has in store for this competition?  The only way to find out is to tune in to BBC America this week and find out – (and to sound cliché) – check your local listings for time and channel.

While I like to watch Chef Ramsey’s reality TV shows – I will admit that he is the master of “junk reality TV cooking shows” – but luckily there’s something out there for the more serious minded reality TV foodie and that’s “Top Chef” on Bravo.  I would love to see Carla Hall for season five win it all – but once I start picking favorites – they’re bound to lose.

A new season of “Top Chef” began last week and the twist to this season is that all of the chefs competing are runners up and just-about-made-it chefs from the previous seven seasons of the show.  Eighteen chefs in all will be competing to win this season’s top prize and the competition is fierce and if you’re a fan of the show – you will already rooting for your favorite chefs.  One thing that all of the chefs this season know is that you won’t be able to give the judges food that taste like crap and get away with it.

Anthony Bourdain has joined Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi and Gail Simmons at the judging table and he has already pissed off one of the chefs this season with his “spare no feelings no bullshit” comments. I know that I will never ever taste a quarter of the dishes ever presented on “Top Chef”, but I love watching this show. 

Dr. Drew's team at the Pasadena Recovery Center
Another reality show returned for its fourth season last week – “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” (Thursday nights, 10pm VH-1 and at various other times throughout the week) and I love this show.  Watching “Celebrity Rehab” is a lot like slowing down your car near a train wreck – you really shouldn’t be watching it but you’re drawn to it like a moth to a light bulb. 

If you’re looking for some really famous people going through the rehab experience on television for your entertainment pleasure – you’re not going to find a lot.  The biggest star of the bunch would have to be actor Eric Roberts, who has starred in a fair amount of movies and is also well known for being the brother of “Pretty Woman” Julia Roberts. 

Tiger Woods ex-mistress, Rachel Uchitel is another one of the people going through rehab with Dr. Drew, but you won’t hear Tiger Woods name mentioned at any time on the show, although you’ll get an earful of how she has been physically and sexually abused all though her life. 

The biggest human train wreck this season would have to be former 70s heart throb Leif Garrett who life of drug abuse makes Celebrity Rehab season one patient Jeff Conaway (of the movie “Grease” and the TV show “Taxi”) look like he’s a friggin’ eagle scout. 

The asshole of Celebrity Rehab’s season four patients would have to be Jason Davis – the spoil rich grand kid of businessman of Marvin Davis.  In the first two episodes Davis has done his best to piss off one-time model and reality TV start Janice Dickinson with cruel comments her looks and plastic surgery.

Even though Season four of “Celebrity Rehab” is not packed with stars – I feel that this could be one of the most interesting seasons of the show and if any one of these celebs advances to “Sober House” (another Dr. Drew VH-1 show)…I will be surprised.

[Small side note:  If you’re a fan of Dr. Drew – you be able to see him a lot more often than on his VH-1 rehab shows.  Dr. Drew has just signed on to do a nightly talk show on CNN’s HLN network after the beginning of next year.  I’m assuming his show will follow Joy Bahar’s show and air from 10-11pm.]

Well, we all know that there’s nothing more real than what we see on reality TV and I’m going to quit writing this and watch some of it.  What can you say…it’s only TV!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's Only TV: Dancing With The Stars Goes Shotgun and Other TV News

A New Way To Vote For Your Dancing With The Stars Favorite –
You Just Kill Your TV Set

How many times have you been watching television and what you were watching pissed you off so much that you have wanted to throw a brick through the TV screen?  Or better yet – the program that you were watching pissed you off so much that you wanted to do an “Elvis” and pull out a handgun and kill you TV set with a couple of pulls on the trigger?  Well...someone has done just that and it took Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol Palin’s appearance on “Dancing with the Stars” to put this guy over the edge.

An armed and intoxicated 67-year old Wisconsin man with bipolar disorder was watching “Dancing with the Stars” on Monday night and got a little angry by Bristol Palin’s appearance on the show – so angry that he fired a shotgun at his television set.  His wife got the hell out of the house and phoned the police to report the incident saying that her husband was also threatening to commit suicide.  It took the police fifteen hours to coax this man out of his house and charge him with second degree reckless endangerment and all it took was the site of  Bristol Palin on TV to do take him over the edge.  He felt that Bristol Palin was only on the show because her mother is somewhat famous (i.e.. former Republican candidate for Vice-President of the United States and half-term governor of the state of Alaska – as well as being a soccer mom and a famous Mama Grizzly) and that she wasn’t on the show for her dancing ability. 

Hey, I’m not bipolar, but I have to agree with this guy that the only reason that Bristol Palin is on DWTS is because of her Mother’s notoriety (as well as her being the unwed mother who now preaches abstinence) – the question this guy should have been asking before he blew the shit out of his television set is – how in the hell has she lasted this long?  Any one who has watched the show this season would have to agree that there have been far better dancers voted off this season than Bristol Palin.  I will give Palin credit for have improved herself on the dance floor since week one – but there is no way that she is a better dancer than former NBA star Rick Fox or pop singer Brandy (who was voted off this week). 

Personally, I would like to know who is voting for Bristol Palin?  Trust me – there are just as many people who can’t stand her Mother as there are people who think that she’s actually qualified to run for any kind of public office.  If the people who are voting for Bristol because of her mother – I want to know where the other half is on Dancing with the Star’s voting night?  Maybe Fox News will send out one of their fair and balanced news reporters to ferret out this story and report the truth.  Think again.

Trying To Make Something Old New Again

I was surprised to read on about two “new” projects in the planning stages at Warner Brothers pictures.  One of the projects in the planning stages is a remake of the old NBC-TV show “The Man From U.N.C.L.E”.  Nobody has yet to be cast to play the roles that made Robert Vaughn and David McCallum famous – I just got to question why they are even attempting a big-screen version of this TV show.  UNCLE isn’t one of those old TV shows that people get nostalgic about – but Hollywood is also doing a big screen version of the TV show “Dallas” – so maybe they think we’ll see anything these days from television in the 70s and 80s.

The other project that Warner Brothers is working on is a remake of “The Wizard of Oz” with Roger Zemeckis (“Back to The Future” and “Forrest Gump”) on board as director.  No one has been cast for this remake.  I wonder if you’ll be able to watch this new version will be Pink Floyd compactable – like the old version is for some people who like to watch the movie with the sound down and using Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” as the movie soundtrack.

NBC Is Still Having a Bad Year In Prime Time
And They Can’t Blame Leno for This One

I have very few “must see” TV shows and it looks like one of them is about to be a victim of NBC’s incompetence at building a prime time schedule that people want to watch.  It was announced yesterday that NBC will be moving a few shows around in the hopes that people will discover them.  For example – NBC will be moving my favorite show “Parenthood” to Monday nights at 10 against one of CBS’s biggest hits of this season – the remake of “Hawaii 5-0”.  It doesn’t matter to NBC that the audience for “Parenthood” has been building week-to-week against some really tough programming Tuesday nights on ABC and CBS…they’re going to move the show anyway.  All I have to say is “dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb”.  When you have a show that is a fan of the critics and is a marginal hit with the viewers – you don’t move it and make viewers of the show search for it…you let the show build. 

NBC is also going to test how scripted comedy shows in the Thursday 10pm slot will do since their scripted dramas in the 10pm slot aren’t bringing viewers to the tube.  If you’re a fan of “30 Rock” – look for it to find a new home at 10pm in the not too distant future.

And NBC is bringing back Jerry Seinfeld’s “The Marriage Ref” in January – which should give everyone enough time to find a couple of good books to read while they air this show.  As much as I loved Seinfeld – the “Marriage Ref” rubs me the wrong way.  If this is the best that Jerry can do – I recommend that he hang around in the kitchen with his wife and find more vegetables to hide in their kid’s food.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Talking TV: From Andy Dick to a Masturbating Bear...The Whole Truth Tanks While Trailer Trash TV Gets Renewed Through 2014

TV…TV…TV!  There’s lots to talk about…so, put down the remote, grab a cup of Joe and light one up (if you got ‘em)…we got some TV talkin’ to do.

His Name Says It All

One of Andy's more famous mug shots after being arrested
Andy Dick – one of the stars of the sit-com classic “Newsradio” and a frequent target of C-list comedians on those celebrity roasts on Comedy Central; plus – one of the more recent celebrities to have gone through Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab on VH1 has been caught with his pants down (so to speak). 

The website is reporting that Andy Dick allegedly flashed some patrons earlier this week at Café Audrey in Hollywood, California.  It all began when he kissed his male companion on the mouth and then he allegedly exposed his “little Andy” before leaving the Café in what is calling “a drunken stupor”. 

This isn’t the first time that Andy has gotten into trouble with his drunken behavior – all you got to do is Google his name for a list of all of the instances – but who knows – maybe Dr. Drew will give him another shot at cleaning himself up on an upcoming season of “Celebrity Rehab”.

Fans of Andy Dick can look forward to his next “direct to DVD” movie in the not too distant future.  Dick, along with Screech (from TV’s “Saved By The Bell”),  are the two marquee stars in a comedy being filmed in Flint and Ann Arbor titled “Tetherball” – which it will be safe to say will make the Will Farrell’s “Semi-Pro” movie with scenes filmed in Flint look like an Academy Award piece of film making. 

ABC Says, “You Want The Whole Truth?
You Can’t Handle the Whole Truth

When it comes to lawyer dramas on television these days – nobody can touch “The Good Wife” on CBS – but television likes to beat a successful genre to death once they have a hit – so we had a few new lawyer dramas premiere this season.  CBS dusted off  “The Defenders” format from the 60s with Jerry O’Connell and buffoon Jim Belushi and the people at ABC gave us a more original lawyer drama with “The Whole Truth” starring Rob Morrow and Maura Tierney – make a guess which of these two shows just got cancelled?  Yup, it was “The Whole Truth” that just fell under the ax!  It is not known when or where ABC will air the remaining episodes of the series – but they have pulled the show from its Wednesday night 10pm time slot for at least the next two weeks.

Wanna Know What The Weather Is?
Don’t Look To The Weather Channel

Remember when you use to go to CNN to see what the news was?  Now CNN and all of the other ‘news channels’ are populated with talk shows and talking heads with news nowhere to be found.  It wasn’t that long ago that you could turn to the TV Guide channel when you needed to know what was on television – but now that channel is filled with off-network reruns and reality programming.  MTV barely shows any videos – even the Gospel Music Channel is showing family movies and TV shows like “Highway To Heaven”….the only channel that is sticking to what they originally started out as is ESPN, you want sports – ESPN is there for you! 

If you are one of those people who look to The Weather Channel for weather when you want it – you’re going to be in for a big surprise.  NBC/Universal (the current owners of The Weather Channel – which won’t be that much longer since cable giant Comcast has purchased NBC/Universal) will soon be revamping the format with weather-related reality form programming – such as “Storm Stories” and programs like that.  You’ll still be able to get your local weather on the Weather Channel – but you’re going to have to look at the scroll at the bottom of your screen to find out what’s what weather-wise. 

Will Conan Be Seeing A Courtroom Soon?

Conan's Masturbating Bear
Conan O’Brien’s new show on TBS is set to debut on November 8th (11:00pm with a replay at 1:00am) and he is planning to bring back some of his signature bits and characters that were a part of his years at NBC – such as The Masturbating Bear – and everyone is wondering what NBC will do.  NBC lawyers could go all nuts on Conan and claim that all of the characters and bits that he did on NBC are intellectual property of the network and slap a cease and desist order on him.   

The latest issue of Vanity Fair features an excerpt from New York Times reporter Bill Carter’s new book on last year’s Tonight Show struggle between Conan and Jay Leno and once you read it, you just might understand just why Conan might like to see a confrontation with his old employer in a court room. 

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Conan is quoted as saying, “What I really wanna do is be sued over the bear and then appear in court with the masturbating bear.’Your Honor, this bear can't help himself!'"

Fans of Trailer Trash and DNA Tests – Rejoice!

If there were ever two television shows that point to a dumbing down of America – Jerry Springer and Maury Povich’s daytime show (you can’t really call these shows talk shows) these two shows would lead the pack.  What is also sad about these two shows is that they are also syndicated around the world for people to see and the impression of the Americans that people is not that flattering.  These shows are going to go away any time soon – as a matter of fact -- NBC/Universal Domestic television has announced that Springer and Maury have been sold to local station groups through September 2014.  I think a blank television screen would be better than these two shows – but I don’t think watching someone find out if he’s the baby’s daddy to be entertainment.

Well…that’s going to do it for this little visit.   Until we meet again via the written word – remember to pay your cable/satellite bill and choose your programs carefully….not that it really matters, because we all know – it’s only TV!  

Monday, October 25, 2010

They Just Don't Make 'Em Like That Any More -- Junk Food From Our Youth

Any one who reads this blog with any regularity knows that I love to talk about food and I’m not going to stray to far from that subject with this entry – but instead of talking about food that’s readily available now – I’m going to take a food journey blast to the past.  Yup, I’m going to talk about food that you just can’t get any more – but we still remember today.

For example:  Anyone who grew up in the 60s and 70s can remember those Banquet Cream Pies in the frozen food section at your local grocery store – they sure were tasty – especially the chocolate cream pies.  The only time that I ever saw them in our house though was when they were on sale for thirty-nine cents at Feke and Yott (Hickory Meat Block) on Franklin Street on Flint’s east side.  I am almost positive that there was nothing in the ingredients of these pies that could be considered “cream” by today’s FDA standards – but nonetheless – these pies with the graham cracker crust sure were delicious.  They gave your tastebuds the illusion that what you might be eating was ice cream – but there was no way in hell that you could get an ice cream pie (with those chocolate shavings on top) for thirty-nine cents – this was a pie that was conceived by the food chemists at Banquet – much like the food chemists at Proctor and Gamble (the soap people) created the potato chip that isn’t a chip – Pringles.

I visited a couple of stores recently to see if I could find a Banquet Cream Pie in their frozen food shelves and, just as I expected, they were nowhere to be found.  Banquet no longer makes them – just like they no longer make those single serving plastic bags filled with frozen roast beef and gravy, chipped beef, chicken ala king and single servings of a salsbury steak and gravy.  Ok, I want a show of hands – how many of you people use to make chicken ala king on toast and with Banquet’s frozen bags of chicken ala king that you pop in a pan of boiling water on the stove to cook (you got to remember – this was pre-mircowave junk food)?  My mouth is watering just thinking about them. 

Here’s another item that they don’t make anymore – Chef BoyArDee’s complete spaghetti dinner in a box.  Remember the box with the box of spaghetti, the can of sauce and a can of the cheese that you sprinkled over the top of the spaghetti – well, they don’t make ‘em anymore.  I have been able to find a kit that is basically a box of spaghetti and a packet of seasoning to put in some tomato sauce to make spaghetti sauce – but not the complete spaghetti dinner in a box that we remember as a kid.  This had to be one of the first junk food dinners put on the market and America ate it up.

(Chef BoyAreDee still makes those box pizzas that I’m that everyone enjoyed eating as a kid.    The pizza didn’t taste anything like real pizza – but we didn’t care – we weren’t corrupted by Little Ceasar’s or Dominos yet and there were pretty darn tasty and most importantly – they were cheap.)

Before I began my radio career, I worked at the 7-Eleven on Franklin and Leith on the east side of Flint, Michigan from 1976-1980.  I could write a couple of blogs about working at 7-Eleven, but right now I want to focus on something that they sold there that you can’t find today and that’s the “Big Wheel Ice Cream Sandwich”.  While regular run-of-the-mill ice cream sandwiches sold for ten or fifteen cents – the “Big Wheel” was what is now called “a premium ice cream confection”.  Back in the 70s – these babies sold for a whopping sixty-nine cents and they were worth every penny.  Imagine if you will – rich premium vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two oatmeal cookies covered with chocolate ….delicious chocolate…not the crappy Eskimo pie kind of chocolate that broke off in pieces…and you had a Big Wheel.  Occasionally, they would ship us a box or two of chocolate ice cream Big Wheels and they would sell out before you could blink an eye.  If you visit a 7-Eleven store around you today the odds are pretty good that you will no longer find a Big Wheel in their ice cream case…because they just don’t make ‘em anymore.

(And speaking of ice cream sandwiches – the best ice cream sandwich ever made (which aren’t made anymore) were Sealtest Ice Cream Sandwiches.  You couldn’t find these sandwiches everywhere – but I use to get my fix for them at Jack’s Trading Post on Franklin Street and Ryckman’s Pharmacy on Chevrolet Avenue and from the ice cream vending machines at the Capital and Palace Theaters in Flint.)

Long before Subway or Quino’s – there was K-Mart.  Remember going to K-Mart or Kresge’s and taking home a bag of three submarine sandwiches for a buck – try finding a K-Mart today that even makes subs – and trust me – you won’t pay a buck for them.  The Super K-Mart in Port Huron still has subs – but they’re something like two for five dollars, but they don’t taste anything like those three for a buck subs from our childhood.  There was something about those Kresge/K-Mart subs – with the carefully measured ham, bologna, onion, lettuce and mustard on a bun that brings back pleasant memories.  For a buck – you could grab three subs at Kresge and share them with your friends in one of the booths in their dining area as you planned the rest of your day downtown.

Here are a couple of other food observations:  Remember when both Mounds and Almond Joy were both made of dark chocolate?  Remember PDQ chocolate (and egg nog) milk crystals?  Remember the Hot Sam’s pretzel stands in the Eastland and Genesee Valley Malls and free chocolate cake on your birthday at Bill Knapps?  And remember when there were Ponderosa Steak Houses just about everywhere in the Flint area (there’s only one left in Flint) and the owner did his own television commercials surrounded by kids?

Well – that’s food for thought for today.  

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Adventures of Juan Williams

Hey Kids!  Whatever you do this Halloween -- don't dress like a Muslim
around this man -- it makes him nervous and scared.

Dear Juan Williams – Enough already! 

Unless you have been living under a rock this last past week – NPR radio commentator Juan Williams was fired because of something that he said about Muslims on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox television show. 

You see, Bill O’Reilly appeared on “The View” recently to promote his new book “Pinheads and Patriots” and as they say, all hell broke loose and life in the free world has changed for all of those in Bill’s orbit.  One of the first things that O’Reilly said on “The View” was that Muslims (not Muslim extremists) flew the planes into the World Trade Center on 9/11 which infuriated Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar enough to walk off the stage in protest.  Minutes after that incident happened – it was replayed on every cable “news” outlet, local news broadcasts, the network nightly news, Entertainment Tonight, TMZ and who knows where else.  The sad thing is – Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar walking off their own show isn’t news – its show business.  The President signs a bill – Congress and the Senate vote to do nothing and then recess – The World has been proven to be flat – now that’s all news. 

O’Reilly loves to push people’s buttons and that is exactly what he did on the View and the walk-out only fueled the O’Reilly ego and has given him something to talk about for who knows how long.  I think that O’Reilly has asked just about every guest that he has had on since the View incident to give him their take on what happened.  Dennis Miller chimed in.  O’Reilly brought in ‘the body language’ expert for her take and then in comes Juan Williams.

When O’Reilly asks Juan Williams for his take on the View incident – Juan should have said nothing – because Juan is a news commentator and the View incident is not news – it’s show business – Bill was there promoting his book and he probably would have done a song and dance with the cast of the show if they’d asked him. 

But Williams responds to O’Reilly’s “Muslim” view of 9/11 by saying, “I mean, look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”

Oh, no, Juan, you didn’t say what you just said, did you?  Any time you start out a sentence and say “I am not a (fill in the blank)” and continue on by saying the total opposite of what you said you aren’t – you have just stepped in shit and there’s no way out and this time Juan, your main employer National Public Radio said enough is enough.  Commenting that you get nervous and worried when you see Muslims in full garb at an airport isn’t commenting on the news it’s admitting your racism to Fox News Channel’s biggest show business personality (not newsman) Bill O’Reilly.

I have been fired Juan and sometimes its not pleasant – but you are lucky that you have friends at Fox watching your back.  Yup, leave it to Fox News to take what is essentially an employee/employer issue and turn it into a free speech campaign and vehicle to take government funding out of public broadcasting and you Juan are a willing pawn in the Fox News game (willing because you gladly accepted that $2 million dollar contract on Friday from them).

Juan Williams being fired by NPR is not a free speech issue. Juan Williams is free to talk about all of the fears that he has in life from people in Muslim garb to some poltergeist inhabiting his kitchen cupboards all that he wants, because he was fired because his employers felt he overstep the boundaries of that of a news commentator.  I’m sure there are other news organizations that would have done the same thing that NPR did had they been put in the same situation – Fox News doesn’t feel that way – because as we all know – Fox News is a news organization much like I am a nutritionist.  

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

From The McRib to Obama and Other Mid-Term Election Comments

I'll take two of these and a bag o' fries

Where do I begin?  Food or politics?  Let’s go food.

If I heard the news on the television correctly today – there will be fast food junkies around the country with a smile on their face.  McDonalds is going to be bringing back the McRib sandwich (nationwide) on November 2nd – but for a limited time only. 

The McRib sandwich is not a true rib sandwich.  It’s some ground up pork concoction that they shape to resemble pork ribs – it’s fried and smothered in barbeque sauce with onions and pickles and will set you back 500 calories per sandwich.  Each McRib also has 26 grams of fat (10 saturated) and a whopping 980 mg of sodium – it’s not exactly the sandwich for those watching their weight or concerned about eating healthy.  Despite all of that – the McRib is damn tasty! 

I know that the day that McDonalds posts that the McRib is back on their marquee sign – I’m going to be one of the first through the drive-thru line ordering me a couple of these bad boys and I’ll add a side of fries to the order just to help in the destruction of my arteries enjoying food that I shouldn’t be eating.

And speaking of ribs and fast food – has anyone noticed that the ribs that Burger King was selling earlier this year and disappeared off of their menu?  These little rib bites were the real thing – with a bone and all – unlike McDonald’s McRib offering.  The Burger King rib bites were tasty, but they didn’t drench them in sauce – you had to dip them in a little barbeque sauce container (similar to the dipping containers for ranch dressing and honey mustard that you get at other restaurants).  I’m one of those rib connoisseurs that wants their ribs drenched in barbeque sauce – you dip fries in sauce not ribs – so that was one of my complaints about the Burger King rib bites….along with the price.  The rib bites weren’t cheap and if you’re going to pay a premium price for ribs – you don’t go to Burger King to get them.

I will give a tip of my cap to Burger King for my favorite burger at the moment…the Burger King A-1 XT – one of the more filling burgers on the fast food menus today.  If you’re hungry and you want to feel like you actually ate something after ordering from a fast food restaurant – then The Burger King A-1 XT with A1 steak sauce is for you. 

Let’s talk a little politics – can the mid-term elections come any quicker?  I don’t know how you feel – but I have had enough of the political ads on television and news stories about Christine O’Donnell.  I’m not excited about having to go into the voting booth in a couple of weeks and vote for either of the yahoos running for Governor in Michigan because both of them suck (although I will say that republican Rick Snyder has one of those most irritating voices in politics). 

I mentioned on my Facebook status recently that Delaware Republican candidate for US Senate Christine O’Donnell’s looks reminded me of someone.  It too me a while to figure out who she reminded me of – but then it hit me – Christine O’Donnell looks like Sarah Palin’s favorite mainstream media newscaster, Katie Couric.  Take a good look at her tonight on the news and see if you don’t agree with me. 

One of the other races that I’m watching closely is the attorney general race in Michigan between Republican Bill Schuette and Democrat David Leyton.  One of the reasons that I’m interested in this race is because David Leyton use to be my boss when he owned WTAC in Flint and was the first person ever to “let me go” because of budget cuts and a change in format at the station.  I saw David about five years ago at a restaurant where I was having dinner with my family and Leyton looked like he didn’t know who in the hell I was (and I’m not an easy person to forget).  I found it all kind of humorous, because I was one of the first people that he hired when he bought WTAC and I had worked with him in the past when he use to fill in for Dave Barber when he went on vacation.  Do I want Leyton to win?   Yeah – only because Bill Schuette is a dick and he and the Michigan Republican Party are running one of the dirtiest campaigns that I have ever seen in Michigan

And – here’s a piece of news that surprised me.  The web site “The Wrap” is reporting that President Obama will be a guest on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart on October 27th (which is three days before Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert’s big rally in Washington, D.C.).  I know that Stewart will be respectful of the President – but I also know that he isn’t shy to ask some tough questions to that man won the country over on a platform of hope and change – only to see that there’s been very little of either since he has taken office.  

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tell Me It Ain't So -- Coney Island Tacos!!!

Van (on right) and I at Angelo's on Dort Highway

My friend Van from Georgia paid a visit to Michigan recently and I was lucky enough to be able to spend an entire day with him back in our old hometown of Flint, Michigan.  Since time was short,  we combined the two things that we loved to do into one – which is sitting down in front of two up and a side of fries from Angelo’s and playing a game of Scrabble.

Van and I take Scrabble pretty seriously.  For the last eight years or so, a Friday night doesn’t go by where the both of us aren’t online taking each other on in a game of Scrabble.  We connect to some Scrabble playing board located in Romania (I’m serious) and we use Yahoo or Google Talk for live audio chat to talk trash to each other as we play.   His wife and my girlfriend think that the both of us are nuts and neither Van or I will correct their opinion of us, because we know that despite our weirdness that they still love us.

The date was August 21, 2010.  I drove over to Flint from the Port Huron area (where I now live) to pick up Van at the motel where he was staying on Hill Road in Grand Blanc.  We were both hungry for coneys and playing a game of Scrabble and I decided that the best place to play and eat would be at Angelo’s Dort Hwy location – not only because the place isn’t as busy as the Franklin and Davison location – but this Angelo’s is located in the old Wendy’s restaurant location (next to where Ember’s use to be) and we had spent many hours soaking up alcohol with burgers and fries there in the early 80s.

You might think that people might say something to you or give you an odd look or two when two normal looking guys sit down in a coney island restaurant and set a Scrabble board before the drinks and menus are brought to the table – you might think it – but nothing whatsoever happened.  No stares, no comments, no nothing.  As a matter of fact, our waitress was nice enough to take a picture of the both of us playing and enjoying our coneys and who said the people in Flint aren’t friendly.  Hahaha!

To make a long story short – I am proud to say that I won what we titled “The Flint Angelo’s Scrabble Challenge” by a score of 348 to 283.  I should have taken a picture of the winning board – but it totally escaped me.

What didn’t escape Van or I was something that we saw posted on a sign at Angelo’s.  Angelo’s was introducing a new menu item and Van and I took it as a slap the Flint coney dog and something that we felt embarrassed that Angelo’s would stoop to doing just to sell a few more dogs.  The item that they were selling: ‘HARD SHELL CONEYS” – which is nothing more than coney island tacos.  What the…..

If you were born and bred in Flint, Michigan – there is one thing that we could always be proud of and that’s Koegel hot dogs.  Koegel hot dogs aren’t your everyday hot dog made with animal parts that you wouldn’t feed to your pet.  Koegel’s were (and still are) made to some pretty high standards and anyone who has ever eaten a Kogel coney longs to hear and feel that snap of the dog when you bite into it.  It’s that snap and the high quality that we have come to expect in a coney made with a Koegel hot dog – but now Angelo’s (of all places) is cheapening the coney experience by turning it into a taco.

I have had arguments with coney island cooks in the Port Huron area about the Flint coney versus the Detroit style coney.  I don’t care what these slap-happy grease pushers say --- the Flint coney is a better hot dog and I’m sure that there are other people out there who feel the same way that I do, but it just saddens me that Angelo’s has now turned the coney into a taco.  What’s next coney pizza?  Coney Subs?  Coney sushi?  Coney on a stick?

If you love coneys like I love coneys….I urge you to say no to the Hard Shell Coney at Angelo’s,  After all that Flint has gone through as a city – the last thing we need is to see Angelo’s make a mockery of our beloved coney island. 

And with that said…if you see my waitress…tell her that I could use another coney and a side of fries with gravy.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

American Idol New Judges, A Freddie Mercury Bio-Pic and What's Jon Stewart Doing?

American Idol Scheduled To Idle Up The Judges Bench

Mark your calendars -- Wednesday, September 22 – is the date when Fox Broadcasting and the producers of “American Idol” will finally and officially announce who will be filling the judge’s chairs on the upcoming season of the most popular show in America today. The safe bet is that the new judges will be Arrowsmith’s lead singer Steven Tyler and actress/singer Jennifer Lopez, but they just might throw a curve ball and announce someone who know one knew of or someone not even on the list of prospective judges -- it could happen -- but mostly likely won’t.

Once the names of the new judges are announced – the next big question is how they might affect the show and will the audience feel comfortable with their choices. Who knows how to addition of Tyler and Lopez will be to the show and what they can add to mix. Personally, I’m comfortable with someone like Jennifer Lopez as a judge -- she’s actually someone who has had a hit record or two in this decade and can really give some input to the contestants on the show, but Tyler is another story.

In my opinion, Steven Tyler is too much of a rock n’ roll icon to muck it up as a judge on a televised singing competition every week. I can just imagine some contestant from some small farm town in Iowa belting out another lame version of Neil Diamond classic and Tyler -- who sings songs like “Love In A Elevator” and “Jenny’s Got A Gun” having to give this contestant some constructive criticism – it just doesn’t feel right to me. I’m sure he’s capable of giving this person some criticism, but just appearing on this show as a judge has got to do some serious damage to his rock n’ roll credibility in the future. Is it really worth destroying your rock n’ roll icon status just to get a weekly check from a television program?

Bohemian Borat

Robert DeNiro’s Tribecta company is part of the production team that will be putting the life of Queen’s rock n’ roll frontman, Freddie Mercury, on the silver screen soon and you will never believe you they have hired to protray him. Sacha Baron Cohen. If his nsame doesn’t ring a bell – maybe the names of two of the characters that he has protrayed on film will – Borat and Bruno.

The production company has secured the rights to the music of Queen and members of the band will be participating in the production – what is not known right now is whether or not they will be using the actual recording of Freddie Mercury in the soundtrack.

Mercury, along with Queen, were responsible for a string of hits – such as “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions”, “Radio Goo-Goo”, and “Best Friend”.

Mercury died in 1985 of complications from AIDS.

On a personal note – I got to see Queen perform at the Civic Center in Saginaw, Michigan in the late 70s. Believe it or not – they were the opening act for Bob Seger and it was one of those concerts where the opening act made you forget who the headliner of the show was and one of the reasons for that was the showmanship of Freddie Mercury – who with some fancy trickery from the people working the sound board – allowed Mercury to harmonize with himself on “Bohemian Rhaposdy”. I have seldom been blown away by a live performance like I was that night at the Saginaw Civc Center.

What A Difference A Year Makes

The new television season has begun and the ratings are slowly begining to trickle in. This Tuesday was the season premiere of my favorite show “Parenthood” and with it’s premiere comes some good and bad news. The good news is that they won the 10pm time period – the bad news is that their ratings were down from last season and even 17% down from Jay Leno’s first Tuesday night in the 10pm time slot last year.

And...then there’s the story of Donald Trump and the new season of “The Apprentice” – filled with real people who have no job fighting to be hired to be Donald Trump’s apprentice. Airing against repeats on the other networks – the two hour premiere episode was the lowest rated episode of “The Apprentice” ever – with the ratings 53% down from the last celebrity edision of the show and 63% down from the last time that “The Donald” did a non-celebrity verison of the program. To add insult to injury – Thursday night’s premiere of “The Apprentice” was down 44% from the Thursday debut of the Jay Leno Show at 10 last season.

And here’s more ratings news. This week Jay Leno’s ratings were the highest that they have been since he has returned to the 11:35pm time slot. I don’t know the ratings breakdown in age – but I do know that he is attracting an older audience that what Conan was getting.

And a couple of more things before I leave....

If you are one of those people who wondered when the NFL would hire an act for the Super Bowl half-time show that has had a hit in the last decade – you can quit wondering. After a string of evergreen rock n’ roll acts – the NFL has hired Black Eyes Peas as the half-time entertainment for the 2011 Super Bowl.

Fans of Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show” – mark this date in your calendar – September 22, 2010. On that date – Jon Stewart will enter the “no spin zone” of Bill O’Reilly to promote “Earth (The Book)” written by Stewart and the writing staff of “The Daily Show”. O’Reilly will return Stewart’s visit to his Fox show by appearing on “The Daily Show” on September 27th. I don’t know if Stewart will be able to convince Papa Bear Bill O’Reilly to make an appearance at the Daily Show’s upcoming “Rally To Restore Sanity” in Washington, D.C. on October 30th..

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cider and Doughnuts -- It's Autumn In Michigan

(Photo courtesy of
It’s getting to be that time in Michigan.  The leaves on the trees are changing colors and it’s cool enough to turn off the central air and open the windows and let Mother Nature keep you cool with her cool summer breeze.  After a summer what seemed like non-stop ninety to ninety-five degree heat and humidity – these cool temperatures are a welcome relief and something of a reward from having to endure all that we had to this the summer. 

The cool temperatures aren’t the only reward that us Michigan folks get to enjoy right around this time every year and just thinking about it is enough to put a smile on your face.  What am I talking about?  It’s apple harvest time and there’s nothing like popping the wife and kids into the family sedan and going to an apple orchard for a gallon of freshly squeezed apply cider and a dozen or so of those apple cinnamon doughnuts with the sprinkled sugar that are greasy as all get out – but worth every delicious bite of them that you take.

The big box stores – Meijer, Wal-Mart and Kroger – try to capitalize on this time of year by offering apple cider and apple doughnuts from their bakery – but it’s just not the same.  For one thing – the apple cider that they usually offer has been pasteurized and distilled enough that by the time that they put it in the plastic gallon – you’d better off just going down their frozen food aisle and grabbing a can of frozen concentrated apple juice.  If you want really true apple cider – you have got to go to an apple orchard – there are no cutting corners here. And the apple cider doughnuts at the big box stores are same league as the jelly filled pastries that they masquerade as paczkis right before Fat Tuesday --- they’re about as close as Kool-Aid is to Coca-Cola…it might be tasty, but it’s not the real thing.

I’m a little choosy when it comes to apple orchards, too.  There are about six or so apple orchards in the area where I now live in Michigan and they are as varied as a Wal-Mart store is to some Mom and Pop grocery store or as Cedar Point is to a traveling amusement company.  When it comes to orchards – I prefer the orchard that is close to a Mom and Pop/fruit stand – farmer’s market kind of operation.  All you need is an area where there’s delicious apple cider that they squeeze and keep cold in a big cooler and they have got to have those apple cider doughnuts – fried before your eyes and served hot with a tall Styrofoam cup filled with cider.  If all the orchard has is just apples, apple cider and doughnuts – I’m there – looking for seconds and thirds.

There’s one apple orchard in this area that tries too damn hard.  They have classed the joint up to become a tourist destination for people visiting the area and when you class something up – you can expect to pay big ticket prices, too.  I go to an apple orchard for apple cider and donuts – I don’t go there for little knick-knacks and the kind of candy and trinkets that you can find a Cracker Barrel.  Give me cider, damn it! 

When my Mother was alive – I took her to this “fancy” apple orchard thinking that she might enjoy it, boy was I wrong.  When she came face-to-face with a caramel apple that was priced at nearly two bucks (and this was something like ten years ago), my Mom said, “I wouldn’t pay two dollars and I won’t let you pay two dollars for a god-damn caramel apple,” I knew then and there that the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree between my Mother and me when it comes to how we choose our apple orchards. 

Most of my life I have lived in an urban area and I never thought that I would ever find myself living, as well as enjoying, life in a rural setting and it was about six or seven years ago that I knew that I have finally adjusted to living in a rural area – and it took an apple orchard in the area to make me realize that I had made the change.  An out of town friend of mine was visiting his sister in the area and I had him follow me to one of the apple orchards in the area.  After enjoying some cider and doughnuts, he needed directions on how to get back to Detroit and I surprised myself that I actually knew how he could hook up to M-25 and the freeway back home – because I had only been to this orchard once or twice myself – and I’m usually not that great with directions.  But, when I could tell him how to get back to Detroit from this orchard – I realized that I was finally comfortable with my new rural lifestyle. 

Well, I should be going and don’t be surprised if you see me enjoying a nice tall glass of apple cider over the next few weekends….because it’s that time of year in Michigan....let’s enjoy it while we can.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

It's Only TV: The Return of "Parenthood" on NBC and CNN Decides To Dumb Down After King's Departure

(The cast of "Parenthood")

DVR Alert!!!

This Saturday, if a bunch of yahoos aren’t burning copies of the Koran and pissing off Muslims around the world in the dumbest excuse to fight terrorism, I invite you to gather ‘round your television set for two hours of just plain good television.  NBC, in an effort to get more eyes to tune in to the season premiere on Tuesday, will be rerunning (or as they say, providing an “encore” showing) of two episodes from last season’s marginal Tuesday night hit “Parenthood”. 

There are very few television shows that I would get on a soapbox to praise and “Parenthood” is that rare show.  It’s amazing that I even like this show as much as I do, because it comes from Ron Howard’s Imagine company which can really pump out some bland movies and television shows – but “Parenthood” clicked with me the moment that I started to watch it.

Is “Parenthood” great TV?  Far from it – but it’s enjoyable television – and it’s one of those shows that you hate to see come to an end every week. 

“Parenthood” is basically a story of the Braverman family – who are far from being the perfect family – but they have enough going for them that you want to be a part of their family and share all of the heartaches, triumphs and accomplishments.  And as you watch the show, you just wish that your family was as cool as the Bravermans.

The only bad thing about “Parenthood” is that it is directly opposite of “The Good Wife” on CBS at 10pm on Tuesday nights.  If you don’t own a DVR – these two shows are enough to entice you to get off your ass and get one hooked up in your home.  Good TV on network television doesn’t come along often – so you have to be prepared to capture it when ever you can – because if you don’t – all you’re going to get is more shitty reality programming.

It’s official Piers Morgan is coming to CNN

(CNN Founder Ted Turner)
Ted Turner has got to be a little frustrated with some of the recent news coming out of the all news network that he created and sold to Time/Life.  The management at CNN can’t do anything right and are being slapped about mightily in ratings by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News.

When Campbell Brown announced that she was leaving CNN – who did CNN hire to replace her 8pm news program?  CNN is pairing former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer, who resigned from elected office after news came out about how much he enjoyed “the whores”, and conservative columnist Kathleen Parker in an hour chat-fest similar to the old “Crossfire” debates CNN once aired.  Maybe Spitzer can work up a Dan Ackroyd impression from the old SNL sketches with Jane Curtan and respond to something Ms Parker said by saying, “Kathleen, you ignorant slut.”  If he did that – the show might be interesting to watch – but trust me – when this show debuts on CNN later this summer you’re going to be searching for a channel on your TV that’s airing a freshly painted wall drying.

And CNN has officially announced the worse kept secret in broadcasting – they have hired British TV personality/journalist Piers Morgan to replace Larry King come January.  Most people in this country are familiar with Morgan from his appearances on “Celebrity Apprentice” and as one of the judges on “America’s Got Talent” and he doesn’t exactly have one of the warmest personalities on television.  He can be arrogant , pushy and somewhat rude and I am of the opinion that Morgan will do or say something on the CNN show that will tarnish CNN’s image as a legitimate news outlet.

This one has me scratchin’ my head

I have a lot of respect for TNT and their programming choices.  I love “The Closer” and “Saving Grace” was one of my all-time favorite shows. Ray Romano’s TNT show “Men Of A Certain Age” (due to return to TNT in November) is television at its finest – so why in the hell would they order up a pilot for a remake of the old TV show “Dallas” – a show that hasn’t been on the air in nearly twenty years.  The CW network has learned the hard way that you can’t capture lightening in a bottle twice with their remake of “90210”…what makes TNT think that a remake of “Dallas” is going to set the world on fire? 

Well…that’s going to do it for now…until we meet again.....hand me the remote and remember – It’s Only TV.