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.