Friday, December 31, 2004

Pat Sajak's Head Is Out Of Control!

Is it just me, or does Pat Sajak's forehead get bigger with each passing year? When he started on "Wheel Of Fortune" in 1981, it was a manageable size. Now his cranium is just plain out of control. I think "Wheel" has been renewed through the 2010-2011 season, and by that time they'll have to strap that sucker down to keep it from exploding in the middle of the Mystery Round.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Just a note to all those TV and radio stations out there....

The proper website address for relief donations for the Asian tsunami disaster is

NOT your local station's web site. This is no time to use this tragedy to appease your advertisers in the form of hits to your website. Thank you.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Hal Seeger's Place In Warner Bros. Cartoon History

You're looking at it, folks. It's the main title sequence from "The Porky Pig Show", the 1964 ABC-TV series featuring old Porky toons and an absolutely mind-boggling title sequence by that master of cartoon lunacy, Hal Seeger (?). Read why on our new Porky Pig Show page.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Goodbye, Public Service

The price of progress: energy company Exelon, which just announced plans to purchase PSEG (the holding company which owns Public Service Electric and Gas), says the company will assume the name of its corporate parent, laying to rest a proud name in New Jersey energy and transportation circles for the last century.

We do our part in keeping the Public Service alive here.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

We Don't Go Down Often...

...but when we do, it's a doozy. Our hard drive on our server at Webmasters failed, so a new one is being installed and backup is being prepared. If you can see this message, then we're back up. (The reason this notification is so late is because of a firewall issue.)

Monday, December 06, 2004

Poker Is The New Wrestling

I was watching an episode of the syndicated "Ultimate Poker Challenge", which airs very high channel numbers in a lot of markets, and I came to the above conclusion today.

Robair, who was in the room with me, noted, "All you gotta do is give Vince McMahon a deck of marked cards and let his wrestlers have at it."

Back to the above observation: the plethora of televised poker has reached a point where it is as ubiquitous as pro wrestling was in the days of the WCW/WWF (or, as it was originally called, WWWF) rivalry. Now, sadly, WCW is no more, and WWE (as it's now called) has the market pretty much to itself.

Now, as for poker, you've got the aforementioned syndicated show, Travel's "World Poker Tour", Bravo's "Celebrity Poker Showdown", the new "Poker Royale" premiering tomorrow night on GSN, the endless ESPN rebroadcasts of "World Series Of Poker", and Fox Sports has "Championship Poker at the Plaza" and a show currently not on its schedule, the British import "Late Night Poker". NBC is even planning on televising poker sometime this winter (NBC, of course, owns Bravo, so they know how well "CPS" has done for them). So there's gotta be a shakeout real soon.

But do all these shows, now, feel they have to tell us how to play No Limit Texas Hold 'Em every time out? Anyone who's seen enough of it has probably picked up the rules. It's like baseball - you're not told the basics of how the game is played every time it's broadcast. So, to modify a trademark phrase of a certain tournament director - "SHUT UP AND DEAL!" (I'd also like to see a little more balance as far as keeping younger viewers away from the card tables until they're of age, not to mention messages deterring compulsive/problem gamblers to get help.)

UPDATE: GSN does indeed carry advisories on "Poker Royale" advising against compulsive gambling and promotes the 1-800-GAMBLER phone number, for those who need help with that sort of thing. To my knowledge, it's the only televised poker extravaganza that does so.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

One Last Question For Ken Jennings

Who's doing your taxes this year, pal?


Effective immediately, all spammers sending e-mails with fake UPS tracking numbers will be referred to the UPS legal department. You may be in violation of UPS trademarks, as well as mail fraud laws.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Dayton Allen 1919-2004

(UPDATE: The Associated Press has now moved Dayton Allen's obit.)

Dayton Allen (nee Bolke) died on Thursday at the age of 85; he was a veteran television and cartoon personality. You will find his name in a few places if you google it against my site, as he was voice actor on some of Hal Seeger's shows, as well as in Paramount cartoons of the 1960's. At Terrytoons, he voiced the Talking Magpies, Heckle and Jeckle, as well as Deputy Dawg. He was one of the resident lunatics on Steve Allen's TV show in the 1950's, along with Louis Nye, Bill Dana and others. His forte was appearing as one of the Man On The Street guys invariably interviewed by Allen. "Why Not?" was his big catch line.

He was a voice provider and puppeteer on "Howdy Doody" (including a stint where he did Howdy's voice while Buffalo Bob Smith was sidelined after a heart attack), and he did have a bit of a mischievous streak about him. "Never get into an elevator with Dayton Allen," warned a fellow "HD" cast member.

In addition to his showbiz career, Allen also operated a successful real estate concern in Dobbs Ferry, NY for a number of years. His brother, Bradley Bolke, was a cast member on "Tennessee Tuxedo" (he played Chumley) and also was heard on "The First Family" (which featured the also-recently-departed Vaughn Meader as JFK).

Thursday, October 21, 2004

New Avocation For Dave

UPDATE: The February 2005 issue of Games has now appeared in my mailbox, and my puzzle is indeed in the issue, on Page 19.

Last summer, I vowed that I would make a run at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, held each March in Stamford, CT. Along the way, I gained an appreciation of how puzzles are constructed, and have decided to try my hand at creating my own.

The upshot of all of this is the first of what I hope will be many published crossword puzzles. Look for my first byline in the February 2005 issue of Games Magazine.

(The bad news? I can't enter their contests any more.)

Sunday, October 10, 2004

"What's Missing" From My Cable

For years, my hometown's church had a sign out front that read "Come to CH--CH - what is missing?" (Of course, the answer is U-R. That church still has that sign, and I believe that sign has outlasted three or four pastors at that church.)

Anyway, to help the folks at Comcast Cable at Toms River, here's a little quiz to help them figure out What's Missing from cable here.

1. What do you throw in Australia that comes back to you?

2. What do you like to do when you go places?

Don't send me the answers, send them to Comcast.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Batfink Rolls On In Australia

Monday, October 18 - Karate's Case
Tuesday, October 19 - The Wishbone Boner
Wednesday, October 20 - Hugo For Mayor
Thursday, October 21 - The Indian Taker
Friday, October 22 - The Devilish Device

Sunday, October 03, 2004

SNL Band Pages - Updates

Hello all! Yes, even though they look like they haven't been updated in a while, cosmetically or otherwise, we still feature the Saturday Night Live Band Pages on our site, chronicling all thirty years of the band. Even though the band's presence on the show has waned in recent years, we still support their musicianship and efforts.

The show is starting to resemble a lifer's group, with several members marking their 20th year on the show and one starting his 25th. We'll soon update the pages, but here is the 2004-2005 roster.

Lew Del Gatto - baritone sax/arranger (on and off since 1977, mostly on!)
Leon Pendarvis - musical director/keyboards (since 1980)
Lenny Pickett - musical director/tenor sax (since 1985)
Earl Gardner - trumpet (since 1985)
Steve Turre - trombone (since 1985)
Alex Foster - alto sax (since 1985, except for a few years in the 90's when George Young had the chair)
Shawn Pelton - drums (since 1992)
Valerie Naranjo - percussion (since 1995)
Lukasz Gottwald - guitar (since 1997)
James Genus - bass (since 2000)
Katreese Barnes - keyboards (since 2000)

Friday, September 24, 2004

Batfink Down Under - First Half Of October Schedule

Monday, October 4 - #29 A Living Doll
Tuesday, October 5 - #30 The Bat Patrol
Wednesday, October 6 - #31 Dig That Crazy Mountain
Thursday, October 7 - #32 Spin The Batfink
Friday, October 8 - #33 Greasy Gus
Monday, October 11 - #34 The Mark Of Zero
Tuesday, October 12 - #35 Swami Salami
Wednesday, October 13 - #36 The Human Pretzel
Thursday, October 14 - #37 Jumping Jewelry
Friday, October 15 - #38 Roz The Schnozz

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Happy Birthday Bruce (And John)

Happy birthday on Thursday to that other favorite son of Jersey born on September 23, 1949... Bruce Springsteen.

The eldest Mackey brother, John, was born that day as well. Both were born in what is now Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch. I often wonder if Mom and Mrs. Springsteen ever crossed paths in the maternity ward that day. I also wonder if my dad and Bruce's dad got to talking about what sort of sons or daughters their newborns were going to be.

All that ever happened on my birthday was the premiere of "The Yogi Bear Show" in syndication. And you know what? I probably watched Yogi Bear that day. "Sure, Doll, put on some cartoons for the twins, it'll entertain them." (Thanks, Dad.)

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Dave Tendlar, Master of Looney Tunes?

The IMDb entry for the 1955 Paramount cartoon "Kitty Cornered" has a very interesting video box attached to it.

It begs the question: how would Dave Tendlar have fared with the WB characters? Considering he was a terrific draftsman and an underrated cartoon director, I think he would have done well.

BTW, if you want to see some of these cartoons, you can rent them from Movielink, who has sixteen different programs of Paramount cartoons running about two hours each for you to overdose on. This is great stuff, and you'll have Winston Sharples music playing in your head for days afterward. (Which is, after all, a good thing.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


THE METS HAVE LISTENED! The Associated Press, as well as radio station WFAN, are reporting that the Mets have indeed fired Art Howe, effective October 3, at the end of the game.

More coverage at The Eggplant.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Website Update

If you can read this, then you've survived our Monday morning bout with downtime. Webmasters is generally a good host, but right now Tampa isn't quite the place to be, weather-wise.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Attention Aussies

Batfink is now on in Australia, on ABC. It is presently airing at 6:30 a.m. The programs scheduled to air are:

Friday 9/10 - The Dirty Sinker
Monday 9/13 - Gluey Louie
Tuesday 9/14 - Brother Goose
Wednesday 9/15 - The Chocolate Covered Diamond
Thursday 9/16 - Crime College
Friday 9/17 - Myron The Magician
Monday 9/20 - Brain Washday
Tuesday 9/20 - MPFTBRM
Wednesday 9/21 - Gloves On The Go-Go
Thursday 9/22 - Sporty Morty
Friday 9/23 - Go Fly A Bat
Monday 9/27 - Ringading Brothers
Tuesday 9/28 - Out Out Darn Spot
Wednesday 9/29 - Goo Goo A Go Go
Thursday 9/30 - Crimes In Rhymes
Friday 10/1 - Stupidman

Friday, September 03, 2004

Late Addition To Music Calendar

I will be performing with the Manalapan Battleground Symphony in their Labor Day Pops concert, Sunday, September 5, at Manalapan-Englishtown Middle School, Route 527, in Englishtown. Showtime is 7:00 but get there early. Chiu-Tze Lin conducts an all-Broadway program featuring selections from West Side Story, Les Miz, Hello Dolly, My Fair Lady, and others.

Seeger Credits Get A Boost

Thanks to the feverish efforts of our frequent correspondent and helper Ken Layton (who is unfortunately no longer in cyberspace), we now have a complete brace of screen credits for "The Milton The Monster Show" and we will be redesigning those credit pages to make them look a little more attractive.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Bike Designer Indian Larry Dead at 55

Since my brother and I run a Trading Spaces website, we're very much attuned to the goings on on the other shows on many of the Discovery Networks channels. An interesting development has been the ascent of custom motorcycle builders into TV superstars. One such, "Indian Larry" from "The Great Biker Build-Off", died on Monday after injuries sustained in a weekend accident in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the age of 55.

Now I'm not a biker. I haven't ridden a bike since I was a teenager. My wife even looks at me funny when I wear my "American Chopper" boxers. But we note with quite a bit of interest the work of the late Indian Larry (who was introduced by Jesse James of West Coast Choppers fame on an episode of "Monster Garage"), and of course those guys from Rock Tavern, New York, the crew at Orange County Choppers, headed up by the father-and-son team of Paul Teutul Sr. and Jr. (whose star only rises with each visit to Jay Leno), with brother Mikey in able support.

Their bikes are works of art...working within a framework (each bike has to have an engine, a tank, exhaust system, etc.) but they are so creative within those constraints. They look cool and ride like a dream. And there's a lot of bickering in the OCC garage, as it is in any workplace, but the work gets done, and it's quality work. Check em out... and light a candle for Indian Larry.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Brass Tacks To Appear At PNC Bank Arts Center

I'm pleased to announce that the mighty Brass Tacks Orchestra will be appearing at the PNC Bank Arts Center (Exit 116 of the Garden State Parkway in Holmdel, NJ) in a free senior citizen show on Wednesday, September 8, 2004 at 1:30 p.m. Also appearing will be comedian Stewie Stone. The performance is sponsored by the Garden State Arts Center Foundation. For more information visit the Garden State Arts Center Foundation website.

Fire Art Howe

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Lost: One Scream

This is the famous painting The Scream by Edvard Munch. For the second time in ten years, it is a hot painting, as it has been stolen from its Oslo gallery. The 1893 painting, tempera and pastel on board, said to be worth about $75 million, was taken by two armed bandits from the Munch Museum in Oslo.

There are actually three versions of this painting. The version in the National Museum was stolen in 1994 on the opening day of the Winter Olympics in Lillehamer. A third is in a private collection.


Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Jackson Beck 1912-2004

Mark Evanier notes the passing of Jackson Beck, aged 92 years, five days. If we had voice credits listed in our Paramount Cartoons filmography, Jackson Beck's name would be all over them. He was with the studio roughly from the beginning until about 1961. The voices he performed included Bluto, Buzzy The Crow, King Leonardo, and of course the narrator of the "Superman" radio series, where he may have been the first to ever intone the words "It's a bird - it's a plane - it's Superman!" Up until about five years ago, you could still hear Jackson Beck on dozens of national television commercials, including Little Caesar's Pizza Pizza and Thompson's Water Seal. I believe the last commercials he ever did were for Infusium shampoo, and if anyone had trouble believing an 87-year-old could sell shampoo to teeny boppers, they probably had no soul to begin with.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Lighten Up On Ahnold

As misguided as Gov. Schwarzenegger's choice of words was, I don't think he should apologize to California democrats for calling them "girly men". Nor should the Dems be upset, IMHO.

News commentators have rightly noted that the phrase "girly man" was actually an invention of the old Hans and Franz sketches on "Saturday Night Live", in which Kevin Nealon and Dana Carvey vowed to "pump (clap) you up" while preening in front of riduculous looking cardboard cutouts of Arnold at his beefiest.

Schwarzenegger is just riffing on himself. Everyone else just needs to drop it and get on with their lives.

More Ad Disclaimers We Don't Need

Oh, in reference to the June post below talking about ad disclaimers... I was gonna talk about that tasteless commercial for Metamucil in which a park ranger is shown pouring a glass of the orange stuff into Old Faithful, thus allegedly keeping it nice and regular.

But then I found out this spot originally premiered in January 2003. And it's taken me this long to even see it?

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Ad Disclaimers We Don't Need

Ad disclaimers are becoming nothing more than excuses for lawyers to have jobs. Note this ad for Bud Light. The disclaimer, in case you can't read it, essentially says that there is no such thing as the Bud Light Institute and the research and products it touts in its ads don't really exist.

I can see it now come Christmastime. Ad comes on with Santa Claus coming down the chimney. Disclaimer comes up:


Wednesday, June 16, 2004

That Wacky Britney

so let me get this straight... Britney Spears has to cancel concert dates because of her KNEE?

Lordy sakes! Are her vocal chords down there?

Friday, June 11, 2004


Image courtesy Save Tillie

If you grew up anywhere near Asbury Park, New Jersey, you know this face. You've seen it a million times at the very end of Cookman Avenue, just where it meets Kingsley. The lime-green facade of Palace Amusements was an Asbury Park landmark for years. But the building lay in decay for years, much like the city around it. It had been fifteen years since the place had any life in it. Now, the wrecking ball has lay claim to the 1888-vintage carousel house, the oldest part of the Palace Amusements complex.

But in a meticulous rescue operation, a member of the Save Tillie coalition arranged at his own expense to cut through the concrete around one of the 14'x16' Tillie heads, install 1/4" thick girders around the structure, and has lifted it out of the building facade.

Tillie has been saved and will be restored as a part of new construction on the site. There is also talk of saving some of the other decorative wallwork, perhaps part of the Skooter Ride graphic on the Lake Avenue side of the building, or perhaps the roller coaster cars that are on the Kingsley Avenue side.

Palace Amusements was a frequent recreation destination as a child. I ate my very first slice of real pizza on the site as a wee child. I played the pinball machines for hours, back when arcades had many to choose from. We watched movies, either at the Lyric Theatre right next door, or across the lake in Ocean Grove (Dad got free passes for posting an ad placard in his gas station window). There were other great arcades in the city - Lee's, in the forecourt of Convention Hall, and the Casino Arcade right across the street from the Palace Amusements, but the symbolism of those Tillie heads and those great graphics we'd always pass by in our family sedan will always stay in my memory, long after the building has been demolished.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Brother Ray

I had the pleasure of seeing Ray Charles in concert several times during his lifetime, which sadly has ended today at the age of 73. Mr. Charles' career was a miracle when you consider that he was sighted until the age of 4, when he began the gradual process of blindness.

He took music lessons at a school for the blind, became a pro as a teenager, scored his first big hit records in his mid-20's for Atlantic Records, then became a legend in 1959 upon his move to ABC-Paramount Records which yielded some of his biggest hits, among them "Hit The Road Jack", "One Mint Julep" (an instrumental), "What'd I Say" and "Busted". He also developed a gentler sound featuring strings and backup singers which endeared him to the MOR crowd and made him a fixture on country stations with such other hits as "Georgia On My Mind" and "You Don't Know Me."

Ray Charles performed for world dignitaries and the common man with the same zeal and fervor. He could even poke fun at his image, as was witnessed during a mid-1970's episode of "Saturday Night Live" in which he was given a rare artwork, which when unveiled revealed a torn-out canvas with the attached note "PLEASE DON'T TELL HIM!" (it is said the gag was the work of the late Michael O'Donoghue, and some apocryphal stories cite Stevie Wonder as the victim of the prank). He also recorded a self-effacing ditty with George Jones called "We Didn't See A Thing". And who could forget his advertising turn for Diet Pepsi in the 1980's, surrounded by gorgeous girls and warbling "You've got the right one baby uh-huh!"

In a week where the death of Ronald Reagan has put the country into a reverential mood, let's take a moment and also remember the music and joy that Ray Charles left us with. I'll be pulling out my CD's tonight and singing along as the nation mourns.

(The picture is from the last public appearance of Ray Charles on April 30. He is flanked by Cicely Tyson and Clint Eastwood.)

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

McCracken: The Blog

PC World Editor and longtime chum Harry McCracken has a tech-related weblog at the PC World site. This is for those of you who feel that once a month isn't nearly enough.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Bush 41 To Take The Plunge

Just read a news item that notes that former president George H.W. Bush will be jumping out of a parachute this weekend to mark his 80th birthday.

Please remember to pack a chute. Two dead presidents in one week is plenty, thank you. (Too bad nobody ever told that to John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who not only passed away on the same day, but picked our nation's 50th birthday to do it!)

Monday, May 24, 2004

Alo-huh to Gene Wood...

I'll explain the headline later, but Professor Steve Beverly reports that longtime game show announcer Gene Wood has died of cancer at the age of 78.

He is perhaps best remembered for his years announcing "Family Feud" (1976-1994) as hosted by both Richard Dawson and the late Ray Combs. He has a raft of other credits in the game show field, everything from "The Price Is Right" (where he filled in for Johnny Olson after his death) to a succession of shows with Bert Convy, including "Super Password" and "Win, Lose Or Draw", where Gene once introduced a week's worth of shows from Hawaii with the slightly mispronounced "Alo-HUH!" Bert and Gene had a great working relationship that spilled over onto the screen.

Gene was also a clever, creative man. He wrote the script for the compilation feature "The World Of Abbott And Costello" and worked with Captain Kangaroo on scripts for that show's animated "Lariat Sam" segment, produced by Terrytoons. At breaks in taping of game shows, he'd pick kids out of the audience and rehearse them in re-enactments of old movies or corny melodramas, just for fun.

Gene's mischeviousness could also spill out on camera: when celebrating a milestone performance for host Jim Perry on the old NBC "Card Sharks", Gene came out on stage before Jim and produced a case of fine wine for him. The gag was for Gene to give away the bottles to those who he thought deserved to share in the success of the show, everyone from producers to hangers-on, until Wood was left with just an empty crate to give to Perry as he entered.

Gene Wood even graced this blog once:

That's Gene with Richard Dawson, holding up the official flag of Monmouth County, New Jersey, which served as the home base for all of the Mackey Brothers at various times (in fact, Robair still lives there).

Gene's last work as announcer was as a fill-in post VO on "The Price is Right" in 1998, during a Rod Roddy illness.


Any company or entity that remotely changes the default homepage of any computers on the network is subject to possible legal action and fees up to the maximum allowable by law.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Blackjack Follies...

Mark Evanier waxes on the latest TV version of blackjack, courtesy of GSN. I watched the whole tourney the first time around. So fortified, I faced down a blackjack game for the first time in my life. Okay, so it was just an early-morning $10-minimum table at Bally's in AC, but it's a great way to get your feet wet. I won the first hand. And the second. And many more after that. I really didn't make too many errors to make me appear totally green. The third-base player was wondering whatever could have compelled me to do that. I told him that some days you just get a little crazy. But all in all I did pretty good for my maiden foray into table games; I wound up almost doubling what I threw on the table (the dealer asked me if I wanted to color up at the end and at least I knew what that meant). But I don't know if I want to make a habit of live games. (And you little kiddies who may happen to be reading this... not till you're 21, okay.)

Thursday, May 06, 2004


I don't know if it was my little diatribe that formerly appeared here, or if it was the thousands of other purists who also consider the three baseball bases sacred territory, but Major League Baseball has had a change of heart and has decided not to go ahead with the emblazoning of a "Spider-Man 2" movie logo on the bases during the weekend the film is to open.

Among those who chimed in were former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent, who shuddered to think of what his predecessor, the late A. Bartlett Giamatti, would have thought of the whole thing. One New York baseball writer did a broadcast interview in which he surmised, "What's next? Putting the umpires in Spidey suits?"

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Identity Crisis, Book I: Banking

In 1994, my new bride and I opened a checking account at Central Jersey Bank. A pretty nice, pretty stable, local bank. All of a sudden, signs go up at our local branch: "NATIONAL WESTMINSTER BANK." Okay, we have to change our checks and stuff. A few years later, more implosion as our bank now becomes Fleet Bank.

With the acquisition of Fleet by Bank Of America (and the latter's dumping of the Fleet name), we now have a FOURTH name for our bank! No wonder our money is confused! It doesn't know who to call home.

What else goes through these kind of name changes almost at the drop of a hat? Our local cable in Toms River started out as Clear Channel Cable, then Adelphia Cable, then it was acquired by the much more stable Comcast (which was my employer for seven and a half years, so I can't speak too ill of them... except my modem is a piece of crap and I need to get a new one). I'm sure there are other industries that go through these kind of striations, but with the Federal Reserve's rule that banks can hold no more than 10% of deposits nationwide, don't look for Bank Of America to be swallowed up by anyone bigger. Thank goodness.

Monday, April 12, 2004

A Belated Happy 70th Birthday one of my favorite sax genuises, Lanny Morgan. You may not know him but you've probably heard his work. He toured with Maynard Ferguson throughout the 1960's. You've seen him on TV countless times as a member of the house band on the original "Gong Show", where he primarily played baritone sax and clarinet. However, Mr. Morgan is first and foremost an alto sax man, and his four albums as leader are worth a listen. The solos are swift and sure and last much longer than the four bars he'd take at times during the Gene Gene segments on "Gong". You can order any of his first three albums by clicking on the pictures. His fourth, "Suite For Yardbird", is not yet available through Amazon.

Lanny turned 70 on March 30, and the best birthday present you can give him is to buy as many of his records as you can. Thank you.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Arnie's Army? Sign Me Up

Here are Steve Beverly's thoughts on Arnold Palmer's final stroll through Augusta National yesterday. I was standing in a local pizzeria last night, and the USA Network coverage of the second round of The Masters was on the telly. Arnold Palmer is approaching the green at 18 for the final time, there's not a dry eye in the house, and I'm there yelling "ARNIE'S ARMY IN FULL EFFECT YO!" and none of the twentysomethings in the pizzeria have a clue. But fortysomething me, with a father who lived and breathed golf for most of his last two decades on Earth (Mom, however, always liked Nicklaus), knew the gravity and the emotion of the moment. Steve Beverly's essay perfectly captures the moment. Thank you Arnie, and thank you Steve.

White Castle Won't Go West

Mark Evanier on the aborted westward expansion of White Castle. As an added sidelight, may I add that we never had White Castles in our immediate area until exactly 20 years ago, in 1984, when the first of central New Jersey several locations opened on Route 1 in Woodbridge. Crowds lined the place, and all three order/pickup locations were working. Today, the average White Castle usually has only one of these order/pickup locations working, with the other two gathering dust.

When Evanier calls the frozen White Castles a "reasonable facsimile", he's right. Cooking them in the microwave isn't quite the same as the steam-cooking process, and the frozen W.C.'s don't include pickles.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Panther Publishings...

With the release of The Pink Panther Film Collection (a new box set featuring five Pink Panther films and six cartoons), there is more interest than ever in the Pink Panther as the character celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Here is an article from Animation World Magazine which features a new interview with Pink Panther cartoon producer David H. DePatie, who even today has some big ideas about the Panther's future... and the great news is we may even see the cartoons again soon (they've been off TV for almost a decade now).

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Most Overused Sound Effect In Commercials, Promos, Etc.

The scraping of a phonograph record needle, and some sort of profound pronouncement afterwards.

Nobody under 30 even knows what a phonograph record needle IS. There is an ancient record player in one of my classrooms, and one of my students had a curiosity about it before admitting, "Oh yeah! My grandma has one of those."

Thursday, April 01, 2004

A Very Happy Birthday To Someone You May Know...

...That is, if you read a lot of computer magazines. Tomorrow, April 2nd, is the birthday (I won't say which, but I think it's one of those that ends in 0) of PC World's erstwhile editor, and a friend for almost a decade and a half, Harry McCracken. I first became aware of Harry years ago through an animation magazine he edited and a late but fondly remembered computer service run by BYTE Magazine, the BYTE Information eXchange, or BIX. BIX was like AOL, but smaller and friendlier. Later, Harry and I took turns running APATOONS. It's been Harry's turn for the last several years. Harry had been a writer for a number of smaller computer mags before getting the PC World gig. And eventually Harry landed the big chair and has been doing a terrific job running the magazine. So here's a birthday toast to Harry! (And go visit his website while you're at it..., of course!

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Art James Passes On...

One of my game show favorites, Art James, has died. He was either 74, if you believe the New York Times, obit, or 71, if you believe the IMDB entry under his name. Among his shows was a little trifle called "The Magnificent Marble Machine." In the first year of the Usenet group, I had this assessment of James and his career, and most of what I said still holds today, except for the opinion that "Pay Cards" taped in New York - he did that show in Cincinnati. In case you don't recognize "It's Academic", it was a high school quiz bowl show that aired in the 1960's in New York; the Washington, DC version still airs today on WRC with original host Mac MacGarry (since 1961!) still at the helm.
I saw weeks and weeks worth of episodes [of "Magnificent Marble Machine"] -- the show aired beginning in the summer of 1975, when most kids aren't in school -- and being somewhat of a pinball man, I thought it was a technological marvel defying every rule of pinball engineering. Did you ever see how slow that ball traveled on that machine? They really did have to keep it on the simple side for television purposes, but Heatter-Quigley's art director at the time, Romain Johnston, really made the machine look colorful. The arcade atmosphere carried through to the carnival-style music composed for the show by Mort Garson, who wrote some of the best themes of the early 70's. And, of course, there was lots of format and game play tinkering typical of HQ shows, eventually ending up as an All-Star version (like "Baffle" before it)

I really thought Art James was among the better hosts. It's hard to believe that "MMM" was one of only two shows he did on the West Coast -- the other being "Blank Check". All his other shows were done in New York ("Say When!", "Who, What Or Where Game", "It's Academic", etc.), Canada ("Super Pay Cards") or Nashville ("The Shopping Game"). I think he did the original "Pay Cards" out of New York too, since it was pretty close to Nicholson-Muir's home base of Larchmont, NY. But I think ol' Art will be best remembered for his Peter Pan Peanut Butter blooper. These days you can hear Art from time to time as announcer, on shows like "Family
Feud" and "Tic Tac Dough".

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Tighten That HTML!

Okay, so I went to a certain website to register to enter a contest. The legal on the contest read, "Open only to residents of New Jersey." I get to the drop down box for the state, and EVERY STATE IN THE UNION is listed there! Nothing like nice tight HTML.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Domain of The Century?

I just got an e-mail from Network Solutions, dispenser of domain names, and they are trumpeting the fact that you can now renew your domain name for 100 years.

Gee, I'm not sure there's even going to BE an Internet 100 years from now. By then, any information will be available on your own personal data port, installed by your doctor shortly after birth.

Besides, we're already locked up through the year 2016 for our domain name.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

There Goes The Neighborhood!

Won't you be my neighbor? These are some of the performers who populated Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, and what they are doing now.

Some of them, unfortunately, have passed on, including the beloved Chef Don Brockett and Robert Trow/Robert Troll. Oddly, this article makes no mention of David Newell, who played Mr. McFeely. Like Betsy Nadas Seamans, he too was a younger performer playing a very old man, and he still works for Family Communications, the company that produced the Mister Rogers shows.

Name That Trombone Player?

"In the year 2000.... in the year 2000...."

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Frank Mantooth dies

JazzNews obituary of composer/arranger Frank Mantooth, who was a friend to music education, composing and arranging literally hundreds of music arrangements for young performers.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Come BlogRolling With Me

BlogRolling is now powering a links list living below the Mackey Brothers links on the left sidebar. It may move to a more prominent place, as we are thinking of some sort of redesign for this page within the next few months.

If I've championed your site in the past and the link's not there yet... patience, my friends.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Rudy Lapick dies

Death notice for comics inker Rudy Lapick, who was one of the mainstays of the Archie Comics bullpen for many years, inking the work of Dan DeCarlo, Stan Goldberg, Bob Bolling, and the other Archie pencillers.

Happy Birthday To ME

Happy Birthday... to my fellow blogger and gent I've mentioned at least several times on this blog, Mark Evanier, who's 52 today. Mark was born on the same day as Laraine Newman of SNL fame.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Happy Leap Day!

Who is probably the most famous person celebrating a once-in-four-years Leap Day birthday today? Well, here are but a few... Dennis Farina, Antonio Sabato Jr., Phyllis Frelich, Dinah Shore, dancer and soap star James "Palmer Cortlandt" Mitchell, motivational speaker Anthony Robbins, rapper Ja Rule, stripper Tempest Storm, bandleader Jimmy Dorsey, composer Giaocchino Rossini, and serial killer Aileen Wuornos.

Speaking of, ahead of tonight's Oscar ceremony, which I believe is the first-ever held on Leap Day, we observe the following. Why is it that the Motion Picture Academy only seems to take notice of women's acting performances when they get overemotional and screaming? Whatever happened to subtlety? Why must the women bring it up to an obnoxiously high decibel level, while the men can sail in with a low-key performance (witness Bill Murray, who my money is squarely on for an Oscar win tonight, and his terrific job in "Lost In Translation"). That probably helps explain why Scarlett Johansson didn't get nominated for her matching work in that film. Part of which explains why the Motion Picture Academy is so out of touch.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Blog On Oscar Night

It's always entertaining to read blogs as the Oscar telecast is going on. Last year, I made my destination Box Office Prophets, which had a panel of its best writers, and the added load of all the Oscar blog readers crashed that site into oblivion for about a week.

This year, my Blog destination for Oscar night is going to be Mark Evanier's News From Me. Mark and I have crossed paths many times over the years, though we have never met. I was a reader 20 years ago of his fine comic books "DNAgents" and "Crossfire", the latter of which included not letters from readers, but very interesting essays on show business. When I was Fearless Leader of APATOONS, Mark was one of our honorary members and was thus entitled to mailings without contributions. Now Mark's running this newsfeed, and it's really a treat to read his opinions on matters big and small, covering both showbiz and politics in equal doses. Professionally, Mark is probably most renowned for writing and voice directing every single episode of the "Garfield And Friends" cartoon series, one of the best Saturday Morning shows when cartoons still ruled that daypart. So go hear with Mark has to say on Oscar night! And hopefully it won't crash!

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

De-Evolution Of Late Night Television

As exhibited by the NBC late night show announcers

Gene Rayburn
Bill Wendell
Hugh Downs
Ed McMahon
Edd Hall
Stuttering John Melendez

Great. We've got an announcer now with "stuttering" in his name.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004


Fox Sports has random sampling of the A-Rod to Yankees deal. The commissioner should have squashed this one in the bud, because you will now probably not want to care about baseball.

Steinbrenner is fielding a team of overpriced benchwarmers acquired for the express purpose of keeping them off other teams (i.e. The Red Sox). And Channel 11 News was saying this morning that he's not done, he's trying to get Greg Maddux.

And who did the Mets get this off-season that's even name-worthy? Oh yes. They BLEW getting Vladmir Guerrero!

I might be done with baseball if the Yanks take it all... because Steinbrenner will have BOUGHT himself a championship.

Eagle Soars

Check out this op-ed piece from today's Washington Post by musician Don Henley, who paints a pretty sorry picture of today's music industry. (Registration may be required.)

Quite telling is his comment that the music industry may eventually boil down to three major labels - I would assume these to be Sony, Warner and Universal.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Who Will Replace Rod?

Who says no electioneering outside polling places? You are outside the door of the polling place for CBS.COM's
"The Price Is Right" web page. They are soliciting opinions on who would be the best announcer to continue in the footsteps of Johnny Olson and Rod Roddy.

Your choices are the four who have already had on-air auditions: Burton Richardson, Randy West, Art Sanders, and Daniel Rosen.

I'm sure Messrs. Richardson, Sanders and Rosen are nice enough guys, but I implore you: if you have any respect for the tradition of the program and the natural order of progression, your vote must go to Mr. Randy West. Follow the links below to read Randy's tribute to Johnny O, the original "Come On Down!" man from 1972-1985, and then go to CBS and vote Randy. Thank you.

Randy tells the story of Johnny Olson's life and career on his website
CBS - TPIR Announcer Poll

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Ooh, "The Chase"

For one brief moment, I thought I was living in Los Angeles... or reliving an old Charlie Sheen movie.

At approximately 5:03 p.m. today, Channels 2 and 7 in New York featured helicopter footage of a police car chase that began in Hunterdon County and ended in a driveway in Bayonne. Such chases are an almost daily event in the Number Two TV market, but in New York they are almost unheard of. Channels 4 and 5 had the editorial good taste not to join their competitiors in the high-skies fray.

The old Charlie Sheen movie I was alluding to was "The Chase", in which Sheen (with Kristy Swanson riding shotgun) eludes cops in a high-speed, high-stakes gamble that is covered by two rival news teams. It frequently shows up on cable to this day. The film doesn't know if it wants to be a serious chase drama, or a goofy sendup of local TV news coverage, but it's one of those movies that has its moments. Mostly when Swanson is on screen.

And speaking of Sheen, how delicious was it seeing Jenna Elfman the other night on "Two And A Half Men"? Hey Chuck Lorre... sign that kid up, she's good! (Yeah, I know Mrs. Elfman and Lorre have a past together...)

Friday, February 06, 2004

NJT and PSCT Mailboxes Closed

Due to problems with spam, I have decided to close the njtbus and psct mailboxes. Please see below for the correct address for pertinent comments.

Also, we had a brief interruption in service this morning due to problems at Webmasters.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Here's The Real Tragedy of The Super Bowl Halftime Show

It isn't Janet Jackson's breast... this is what REALLY hacked me off (because, like the President, I dozed off and missed it)...

In total agreement with the VFW on this one.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004



Friday, January 23, 2004

Mere Alcohol, It Doesn't Move Me At All

I don't know how this escaped my notice, but there is now a Sinatra Wine available in your local liquor store.


The last standing of the great big band arrangers, Billy May, has died at the age of 87. Billy May was most closely associated with Capitol Records, producing the soundtracks to records for both adults and children (including those featuring Bozo and the Warner Bros. characters). He was a trumpeter and arranger for Charlie Barnet and Glenn Miller. His first work with Frank Sinatra was the album "Come Fly With Me", later migrating to him with Reprise for some great sides including his great arrangement of the Frank Loesser song "Luck Be A Lady", and he worked with many other great singers. He also scored television shows to magnificent effect, including "Batman" and "Emergency". He even supervised the music for Stan Freberg's comedy records. As Freberg's co-star Daws Butler once attested to, he imbued his sessions with much alcohol-induced jocularity, but he got the job done and delivered some great tunes.

Boy, did he get it done. And now, sadly, Billy May is done.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

She Had Legs And She Knew How To Use Them

That description suited Ann Miller to a T, right up until her passing this week. Although she made lots of film musicals (and literally had million dollar legs, the value of RKO's insurance policy), Ann Miller will probably be best remembered for a Heinz Soup commercial. That genius of the black art known as advertising, Stan Freberg, engineered a commercial in which a husband (played by Dave Willock) comes home and asks his wife what's for dinner. (So PI!) Ann Miller breaks into a choreographed dance routine and the kitchen splits apart to reveal a dance stage worthy of Busby Berkeley himself. Once she's sang and danced and spread the message about Heinz' soups, Willock deadpans, "Honey, why do you always have to make dinner into a big production?"

Classic Freberg... and the dancing wasn't bad either. Ann Miller kept active in films until last year; her last film role was in "Mulholland Drive" a few years ago. Ann Miller's status as retired dance queen was the parodic source for a mid-90's SNL sketch called "Leg Up!", featuring Molly Shannon as Ann Miller and Cheri Oteri as Debbie Reynolds.

Bennifer: It Is Over, Part Deux

And ET, Extra, Access Hollywood are all wondering, "Why couldn't you have waited a week until the beginning of the Sweeps?"

I still say it was because "Gigli" was such a bomb, and their romance was created just to hype this movie.

Friday, January 16, 2004

The End Of Walt Disney's Florida Studio...

Not since Max Fleischer was left out in the cold (warm?) in Miami and his studio pulled back to New York by Paramount Pictures has Florida experienced such a sad day in animation history as this past Monday, when Walt Disney Feature Animation closed its Orlando, Florida unit, part working facility, part tourist attraction. The studio started small in the early 90's with a couple of Roger Rabbit (remember him?) shorts, then about a reel or two of "The Lion King", then eventually complete features, up to and including the just-completed "Home On The Range". On Monday, the studio employees were given their pink slips and severance, some being shipped out to Burbank to continue their work, others wondering if they can get a job wearing a Mickey suit around Epcot. Anyway, Jim Hill Media has a great series of articles about the studio and its closure, including this one which includes a charming little anecdote about Frisbees being launched onto Sunset Boulevard from the fourth floor of the animation studio, when who should happen by but Mr. Eisner.... read it for yourself to find out what happens next!

Monday, January 05, 2004

Tug McGraw Dead At 59

Just heard the news (confirmed by two Philadelphia TV stations, WCAU and KYW) that former Met and Phillie great Tug McGraw has passed away. He had been fighting cancer, and was apparently stricken while visiting his son and daughter-in-law, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, in Tennessee over the weekend. He was one of the great relief pitchers for both those teams and coined the rallying cry - "Ya gotta believe!" during the 1973 season that saw the Mets win a National League championship for the second time in four years. Tug was 59.

Sunday, January 04, 2004


No, Sesame Street is not brought to you by the number 368.

Well, let's backtrack. Remember Dave and Robair's Blood Sugar Challenge? Well, we discontinued it a few months back. Not coincidentally, I was getting a little lax in my blood sugar readings and thought I was doing fine until this number was quoted to me by a nurse at the emergency unit at Florida Hospital in Celebration, FL, in the early morning hours of December 31, 2003.

I had a buffet steak dinner and was shopping for souvenirs when I began feeling funny. I went outside for some air, and then went back to my hotel, where I didn't feel any better. After about a half hour of feeling this way I was convinced I was having something... a heart attack, a stroke, a diabetic coma, who knows what.... I had my wife call the paramedics.

It turns out that when I was at the hospital, my heart and lungs checked out fine, but my blood sugar had been an impossible 368. Any higher and I would have checked out for a while. The ER doc gave me a saline IV and I was home within hours, and the following morning my sugars checked out normal, where they have been since.

I don't know if it was the cumulative effect of the various foods I had eaten since on vacation, or perhaps one cookie too many for dessert - but I am now going to be ever more vigilant about the blood sugar readings, and this time I won't have to put them on public display to do it.

I want to thank the paramedics of the Osceola County Rescue department and the staff of Florida Hospital in Celebration for their care. And hopefully my appetite won't get me into more trouble in the future.