Thursday, December 31, 2009

Uncle Jay's Year In Review

Cincinnati based radio personality Jay Gilbert has put his stamp on "the year in review" better than I ever could. Jay's been giving his satirical view of the news in an online weblog since 2007, but it had its origins going back to local broadcasts in the mid 1990's. Its a tongue in cheek sendup of a kiddie show that takes shots at both sides of the political spectrum, and at at the lunacy of our pop culture.

All you have to know about his take on things is his website's motto....

"Helping small minds understand big news".

Here's Jay!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Passages- People, Places and Things We Said Goodbye to in 2009 ( and Some Shout Outs)

Looking back at the past year; its time to say a fond farewell to some old friends and things that left us in 2009. and we look at some milestones in certain lives that we talked about as well.

From the pages of "UT&MR"; Last April we left County General and ER for the last time. Later in the month John Madden, the dean of NFL analysts and a Pro Football Hall of Famer, announced his retirement from broadcasting. And on the 22nd of April, I published REMEMBERING THE ACE, dedicated to the memory of by uncle, who passed away days before.

On May 11 of 2009 the ever pixie-ish Martha Quinn turned 50 (no, I don't believe it either). On the same day, Mort Sahl, the Godfather of Political Humor, celebrated his 82nd birthday. And "Yes Man" Rick Wakeman hit age 60 on May 18th, while the fantastic Joe Cocker turned 65 on May 20th.

On June 1st General Motors filed for bankruptcy.

And later in June we lost blues legend Koko Taylor and actor David Carradine. June 28th saw the loss of Billy Mays, the King of the Pitchmen.

But it was June 22, 2009 that could truly be called The Day The Icons Died; we lost Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson within hours of each other.

July 16th saw the 60th wedding anniversary of my parents.

Detroit Lions Hall of Famer Lou Creemur died on July 8th of this year. He's famous in my family for breaking my Dad's nose in football practice back in the 1940's.

July 1st gave us the announcement that Mississippi was The Fattest State of the Union.

July 2nd showed Jeff Goldblum on The Colbert Report, confirming his own death, which he first read about on TWITTER.

And on July 3rd Sarah Palin announced she would resign the governorship of Alaska. She has so many books to write and so little time.

July 22nd was the 203rd birthday of Cleveland, Ohio. July 23rd marked the end of my Too Old To Rock and Roll- Too Young To Die classic rock blog.

Gidget, the TACO BELL chihuahua, went to the Big Dog House In The Sky on July 24th. She was 15.

"The Most Trusted Man in America", Walter Cronkite, passed on on July 17th at age 92. Folk legend Pete Seeger celebrated his 90th birthday on August 2nd.

My former pastor and family friend Msgr. Michael J. Alliegro passed away at the relatively young age of 62 after a long fight against leukemia on August 18th. And legendary guitarist and inventor Les Paul died at age 94 on August 13th.

And on August 26th Ted Kennedy, "The Lion of the Senate", died from the brain cancer that he had been fighting for more than a year. He was 77 years old.

On September 9th a little known congressman from South Carolina named Joe Wilson disgraced himself and the House of Representatives when he yelled "You lie" to President Barack Obama as he addressed a joint session of Congress.

Soupy Sales died at age 83 on October 23rd, taking Pookie, White Fang, and Black Tooth with him. October 15th gave us Falcon Heene and the Balloon Boy fiasco.

Roger Goodell didn't think he'd be a suitable owner for the NFL. But the Miss America organization wasn't scared off by Rush Limbaugh- they announced he would be a pageant judge on October 21st.

On November 3rd Chris Christie was elected as New Jersey governor. The next day the New York Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies to win their 27th World Championship. The following day saw the tragedy at Fort Hood, Texas.

December gave us the announcement of FSU head coach Bobby Bowden's departure coaching. And on December 4th we said Goodbye to Mister Monk, our favorite obsessive- compulsive detective.

And Furthermore.... 2009 saw the presidency of Mr. Obama, our first African American chief executive. It also gave us new words to the American lexicon, like "birther" and "tea bagger". We had a foiled Christmas Day terror attack, and an expansion of the war in Afghanistan. We went gaga over Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift became everybody's fave (except Kanye West's).

We saw old friend Queen Bea end her blog, and Miss Moss step up to fill the void.

And I was surprised to learn of the end of The Neil Rogers Show earlier this year in Miami. Neil was a fixture in Miami radio for more than 30 years, and I thought he was one of the funniest (and irreverent) people on the planet. He was one of the most influential radio personalities in the country, yet he never left the South Florida market and avoided syndication or going national on several occasions. He was a true original, a "thinking man's Howard Stern", and he'll be impossible to replace, but will be remembered with a smile.

Thanks to all who have visited this blog in the past year....we hope to give you more entertainment in 2010 and beyond.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Welcome Back! (After A Slight-But Appropriate- Delay)

Here's hoping any and all had a very merry Christmas, and that Santa was good to you. My Christmas was kind of an emotional rollercoaster that started high, sank low, and ended up high again. As most of the regulars here know my parents are both getting up there in years....and after all the Christmas shopping was done, and all of the presents were wrapped, and the preparations for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were in place, my Mom came down with a cold that had her bedridden for most of Christmas Eve and almost all of Christmas Day. Naturally it made my Dad depressed- and me for that matter- and both of us were more than a little concerned when she slept for most of those two days.

I take that back....we weren't concerned; we were scared.

Though her illness wasn't life threatening or anything that required hospitalization , it did put a damper on the proceedings. We did scale things back considerably, and at one point I actually considered delaying everything until the 26th or 27th, or until she would be able to participate. Mom did make it downstairs in time for Christmas dinner, though she had to gut it out and was less than 100%.
We didn't open presents until the evening, which was a first for us.

And on Christmas morning, in the midst of all that had happened, I had my "Martin Sheen as President Jed Bartlett moment"- I looked up at the sky and told God how mad I was at him.

"Damn it! Couldn't you give us just ONE MORE?". That's right....I called out the Big Guy because I wanted one more Christmas with my parents- I don't know how many are left. And I acted with my usual maturity- I didn't go to church on Christmas morning, using the excuse that I had work to do for the day's festivities- but in reality I was too upset to sit there in a pew acting happy when I wasn't.

All I wanted was for my Mom to have that day to enjoy, and for my Dad to have that to share with her. All I was saying to God was that my folks deserved a better deal than the one they were dealt that day....and I wasn't going to be apologetic.

I guess sometimes when your honest about your feelings you get action- even from God. True, Mom was able to join us for Christmas dinner...and she was feeling better on the 26th.

But it all started to get better by dinner time on the 26th. We got a phone call from my brother and sister in law from Ohio- only they weren't in Ohio, they were halfway through Pennsylvania on the way to New Jersey for a surprise weekend visit. That's when it dawned on me- there were no gifts or cards from them this year. This was planned out by them all along.

They arrived late Saturday, and we spent the day with them yesterday, and a good part of today as well. They're both longtime Philly Eagle fans, so we watched them put away the Broncos yesterday to set up next week's showdown with the Cowboys for the NFC East title. We feasted on linguine and sausage, with some meatballs thrown in, tossed salad, and Sicilian chicken noodle soup.

But the best part of the time spent with them was the laughs....the greatest gift of all. The grab-your-sides because-it-hurts-laughs, laughing about family foibles and the colorful members of our clan who've passed on years ago. Its one thing we don't do enough of collectively as a society- to sit down at a table, share a meal, swap some stories, and laugh until you're drained. People need to reconnect with loved ones, and enjoy them, and appreciate them. Share and treasure the moments while you can, and then pass it on to the next generation- its a key to survival.

They'll be over for breakfast in the AM before heading home to Ohio.

They are two wonderful people who's act of finding some time to share saved Christmas for their brother- but most of all, did so for their parents.

And I cannot thank them enough.

(Promise you won't tell them I can be so sentimental...its SO un-Jersey!)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Merry Christmas To All!

I'm just taking a minute to wish all readers and visitors to this blog a very Merry Christmas.

Just one more thing.....why are you wasting your time on the internet reading this stuff while you should be with your family and friends this time of the year? Just TURN IT OFF!!!! Blackberries, cell phones, computers....hit the off button and put it down. RIGHT NOW!!!!!

Good. That's much better. I knew you'd be reasonable.........

I'll be back in a couple of days, probably Saturday night or Sunday morning, with some new and improved stuff.

Make this Christmas the best one ever....and use a designated driver.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

12 Hours (I Mean 72 Hours) Later....RU Wins Bowl Game, "AD" Leaves For The NFL, The Big Dig Out, and Other Stuff

Rutgers celebrates its 45-24 victory in the ST. PETERSBURG BOWL (Star-Ledger Photo)

First my apologies for being away so might have heard about a "slight issue" with the weather in the Northeast- a blizzard hit and dumped two feet of snow in much of the area, though we got about ten inches here, most of which fell Saturday into early Sunday. A good portion of Sunday involved digging out and waiting to be dug out, and Monday and Tuesday was dedicated to catching up with Christmas shopping that had to be scuttled because of the storm.

But I'm done....FINALLY. And some semblance of normalcy is returning to life.,,,and it feels good!

So, without further ado, lets talk about "some stuff".

(1). Five consecutive bowl games, four consecutive wins. Rutgers pounded Central Florida in the St. Petersburg Bowl 45-24. The win gave Rutgers a 9-4 record for the 2009 season, its best win total since going 11-2 in 2006. This was the the fifth consecutive winning season for Rutgers- you have to go back to the 1991-92 seasons for the last time they even had back to back winning seasons.

You can talk about some of the disappointments of the year if you wish, but I won't. Naysayers first said "when Ray Rice leaves they'll start losing again". Ray left, and RU went to another bowl game. The same cynics then said "when Mike Teel and Kenny Britt leave, RU will collapse". Mike and Kenny moved on to the NFL, and Rutgers won one more game than last year.

It was the young freshmen who shined brightest this year....not to take away from great old grizzled veterans like Ryan D’Imperio, Devin McCourty, and Tim Brown. But it was the emergence of new stars Tom Savage, Mohamed Sanu, and Steve Beauharnais that gave promise to the beginning of a new era where the success can continue. Head Coach Greg Schiano has said that you have to be consistent before you can be great. The Scarlet Knights seemed poised to take that next step- the building blocks and keys to success are there.

When Schiano came to Rutgers he had to build a program from the ground up. His way is a amalgamation of a little bit Joe Paterno, with heavy emphasis on academics, graduating his players, and getting the "right kind of players"- in Paterno-speak its called "we don't want any bigshots". An RU player has to love football, and he has to dedicate himself to the academic demands of the institution. Often Schiano asks the team leaders if a potential recruit is an "RU recruit". So far, Greg Schiano has delivered on all promises save one- a Big East Championship.

Another coach Schiano borrowed from was Howard Schnellenberger. When he took over as the head coach of the University of Miami in 1979, Schnellenberger declared South Florida to be "The State of Miami", and used that as his recruiting base. The beginning of "The U's" dynasty began with that philosophy, and Schiano incorporated it into his "State of Rutgers" campaign- it extends to all of New Jersey and to a three hour driving radius from New Jersey's borders. True, Schiano does recruit Florida and other some other states as well- but its about New Jersey first. Six or seven years ago you couldn't find Rutgers fans anywhere. Its nearly 2010, and walk around any parking lot in Central New Jersey and try to count the scarlet block 's on the cars, or the jerseys, tee-shirts, and and caps on the people walking around.

So far....a job well done.

(2) Speaking of Schiano the disciplinarian...sometimes he'll let a thing or two slide. As the game was winding down of Saturday night, check Coach's reaction to linebacker senior Damaso Munoz's fielding of an on side kick, and taking it back for a touchdown. Munoz, who was razzed by his fellow linebackers for never having scored a touchdown finally did on what would be his last touch of the ball in his college career- he did a frontwards flip into the end zone and then spiked the ball. It resulted in a TD, but with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty as well.
In this video, Coach Schiano seems like he's trying not to laugh.

(3) Saying goodbye to "AD". In the worst football secret since Brian Kelly's latest coaching destination, Rutgers junior All-America lineman Anthony Davis has decided to forgo his senior season to enter the 2010 NFL draft. Davis is projected to be a first round pick. He follows Ray Rice and Kenny Britt, who also left early following the two previous seasons.

Thanks AD....and good luck.

(4) The Giants and Redskins. Was it possible for the Giants to play a better game, or the Redskins to play worse, in that 45-12 blowout on Monday Night football? I'll say it right now- the first 15 minutes of the game might have been the best opening quarter for a team that I have ever seen for any team at any level. The Giants opening drive lasted 9:13, was 16 plays , covered 80 yards, and resulted in a Giants touchdown. The ensuing possession for Washington was a three and out. Then the Giants got the ball back at the 4:21 mark in the first quarter the Giants got the ball back and went on a 5:00 minute, 67 yard, 11 play touchdown drive that lasted into the second quarter. This was the equal of a first round TKO. The Skins showed a little fight in the second half, scoring twice....but the Giants D came alive. and kept them contained, while the Giants offense scored at will. Eli Manning might be playing the best quarterback of his career.

As a Giant fan....a tremendous game, and kudos to Big Blue.

(5) And finally....goodbye Melky Cabrera , and welcome back to New York Javier Vasquez. I followed Melky from his days with the Trenton Thunder, and I hate to see him leave. But when the Braves were willing to deal Vasquez back to New York it was a move you have to make. Vasquez will be a solid number four starter for the Yankees, while the Braves essentially receive Melky, who was usually the number nine hitter in the Yankee lineup. Cabrera still has a world of potential....maybe a change of leagues will help him take the next step.

That's all folks....I'll be back with some "pre-Christmas stuff" ina day or so.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Quick Hits For December 18- Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

(1). A massive snowstorm has hit the DC area and will be churning up the coast to blanket the Middle Atlantic States and New England, bringing a halt to travel and retail activity on the last weekend before Christmas.

The rumor is tomorrow (Saturday December 19th) Republican House leaders John Boehner and Eric Cantor will call a press conference to blame the Obama Administration for not knowing about the storm a week ago.

(2) Obviously I'm here, in soon to be buried New Jersey, instead in sunny St. Petersburg, Florida where 8,000+ of my fellow Rutgers fans traveled to watch our beloved Scarlet Knights take on the University of Central Florida in St. Petersburg Bowl. While going to five straight bowl games is an accomplishment and it shows vast improvement from the way things used to be- little fan support, losing seasons and year upon year of bad football, it is unfortunate with the scheduling of the game right in the middle of the the Christmas frenzy with less than two weeks notice. Its hard to drop everything and go when there have been prior commitments, and in the students case bowl week is right in the middle of finals.

And even worse....ESPN and the bowl organizers should know better than to violate Rules One and Two- "Thou Shalt Not Schedule a Sports Event Opposite an NFL Game" and "Thou Shalt Not EVER Schedule a Sports Event Opposite an NFL Game Featuring the Dallas Cowboys". Organizers of the bowl were crowing the other day about scheduling the game in the evening against no other college football bowl game competition on ESPN at 8:00PM Saturday- and that's a good thing.

Now the bad stuff- the St. Petersburg Bowl will be on opposite the undefeated New Orleans Saints vs the Dallas Cowboys on the NFL Network. True, many cable systems don't have the NFL Network as part of their basic package, and some don't carry them at all. But still, in a situation where there is one team with a national following and another trying to make history by going undefeated, the TV schedule makers did neither the fans of Rutgers or UCF, or for those nationally who love bowl games any favors. Moving the game from an afternoon start to opposite the Cowboys and Saints was a colossal blunder....and you can't spin it any possible way.

(3). The other day I wrote about the inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and touched on Genesis for a bit. I came upon this amazing video of the classic five piece GENESIS lineup from 1971, featuring charter members Peter Gabriel, Mike Rutherford, and Tony Banks and introducing the two new kids, Steve Hackett and Phil Collins. Hackett replace original guitarist Anthony Phillips and drummer Collins took over for John Mayhew (who replaced John Silver, who replaced Chris Stewart). This stabilized lineup recorded the band's third album Nursery Cryme, released in November, 1971. This lineup went on to record Foxtrot (1972), Selling England By The Pound (1973), and the ambitious double album The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (1974), after which Peter Gabriel left to embark on his very successful solo career. The group then auditioned 400 singers to take over the lead vocalist chores....but Phil Collins came out from behind his drum kit, and sounded (according to several British critics) more "like Peter Gabriel than Gabriel did".

This early video, from a Belgian TV show, is the then new lineup of Genesis performing THE MUSICAL BOX, from Nursery Cryme. And check out the hair on the now very bald Phil Collins!


(4). This is another abbreviated version of QUICK HITS. In the past three days I must have driven 300 miles and never left a two county area of New Jersey, just Christmas shopping and getting stuff together for the holidays. To be blunt....I'm beat! Time for a beer or two, and then start counting the snow flakes, because they're a-comin'!

I'll be back with my final "12 Hours Later" segment about the 2009 Rutgers Football season on Sunday or Monday. Stay well, stay warm....just STAY! And avoid those treacherous and icy roads.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Quick Hits For December 16, 2009 -ABBA , The Hollies, and The Grinch From The Nutmeg State

(1). Don't even get me started on what has happened to the health care reform package. Its a travesty that I'll talk about extensively in the coming weeks. All I'll offer for now is....Joe Lieberman, you've proved one thing to me- the insurance companies of America own you. But in the spirit of the season I'll reserve any further judgement. Enjoy the coal in your stocking.

(2) The inductees for the 2010 class of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were announced, and making it were Genesis, The Hollies, Jimmy Cliff, The Stooges....and ABBA. ABBA...who woulda thunk it? The Stooges were a precursor to punk rock, Jimmy Cliff was a reggae pioneer, Genesis began as prog- rockers but became a megastar arena rock band, and the Hollies were one of the most successful bands from the British Invasion. I know ABBA sold a ton of records, and were big worldwide (and held Godlike status in Australia)....but I never really saw them as a rock n' roll band. They were musically talented and the four members were obviously attractive- but I always saw them as like bubble gum for bigger kids. I will admit this; I liked Frida's Something's Going On, I thought it was a tremendous record....but Genesis' Phil Collins played and sang on it, and was its co producer (with Hugh Padgham)- and it had a Phil Collins feel to it more than an ABBA sound. And I was admittedly a big fan of Genesis and of Phil Collins.

I'm still wondering what KISS has to do to finally be inducted, as well as the most progressive of all the prog-rockers, YES (in all of their various incarnations)

(3). Many years ago I met The Hollies in a hotel I was working at in New Jersey. It was a reunion tour they were doing in the early 1980's, and they were scheduled to play Great Adventure in Jackson. Graham Nash hadn't arrived yet, but Tony Hicks, Bobby Elliot, and Allan Clarke showed up early, right after lunchtime. The problem was they were hungry and wanted something to eat, and our dining room closed until dinnertime, roughly three hours later. I was not even the front desk manager....I was something like the assistant front desk manger's apprentice or something even lower than that, but I took it on myself to keep the dining room open, and coerced the telephone operator to watch the front desk while I cooked up some food for The Hollies.

A few hours later, I got called into my general manager's office to explain "by what authority did I keep the dining room open?". My boss, "Mr. G", usually had a demeanor like an SS officer with a bad case of hemorrhoids- that was on his good days.

My only response to Mr. G was...."B-b-b-but- those guys are THE HOLLIES!!!"

Mr. G was not amused. My career at that hotel was doomed from that point on...

No big deal. The food sucked there anyway. And no health care...there we go again.

(4). This is a quick version of Quick Hits...mainly because I've spent hours Christmas shopping today, and have driven a lot of miles....and quite frankly, I'm more than a little out of gas. One more time, congrats to the Rock and Roll HOF inductees.

And Joe are morphing into the Grinch.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Quick Hits For December 14, 2009 - "Tis The Season"

(1). Die Hard and Lethal Weapon....yeah, I know what time of the year the action takes place for both films. But they still aren't Christmas movies.

(2). I met the bravest woman this side of Mother Theresa last night. I was on the 6:14 leaving PENN STATION on New Jersey Transit from New York, which was loaded to the the gills with Giants fans getting off at Secaucus. Sitting to the left of me was a woman heading back to Trenton or across the river into Philly Country- and obviously an Eagles fan- who started telling anybody and everybody on the train that "the Giants are goin' down tonight". The only thing I said to her was it could be worse for her having to go back to Cheesesteakland...she could be from Boston," which got a laugh from the Giants fans on the train. I'll give her credit took some gumption to be so in yer face to a bunch of Big Blue fans headed to Giants Stadium.

The result wasn't so good though....the Giants got smacked by the Eagles 45-31. Too many missed opportunities on offense, but it really was the defense (ie, shoddy tackling) that ultimately did them in).

(3) By the way, I didn't attend the Giants-Eagles game, but was coming back from a women's basketball doubleheader at Madison Square Garden yesterday. It was the annual MAGGIE DIXON CLASSIC, named for the late coach of Army women's basketball. To those who don't know her story, Maggie Dixon, sister of Pitt basketball coach Jamie Dixon, played at the University of San Diego and became an assistant coach under Doug Bruno at DePaul University from 2001-2005. Eleven days before the 2005-06 season began Dixon was hired to be the head coach of the Army Black Knights. As the video in yesterday's between games tribute showed, Army women's basketball was often played in an arena filled with thousands of empty seats. Coach Dixon would break into mess halls and try to get the cadets to come over to watch the games, because she had a good and motivated (albeit undersized and not so talented) team that was starting to win some games. And they kept on winning, and the crowds at Army women's basketball games started to grow as well. They shocked the basketball world by winning the Patriot League Championship and got the automatic berth in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. It was the first time Army women's basketball made the tournament in history.

The reward for winning the league and making the tournament was a 16 seed and a date with Pat Summitt's mighty Tennessee Lady Vols, who crushed Army 102-54.

On April 5, 2006 Maggie collapsed and subsequently died of cardiac arrhythmia. An autopsy revealed that she had an enlarged heart. She was about a month shy of her 29th birthday. Maggie was buried in the cemetery at West Point, a place where many of the nation's military heroes are laid to rest.

The first MAGGIE DIXON CLASSIC was held at West Point on November 12, 2006, featuring a women's game Army - Ohio State, and a men's game, Western Michigan- Pitt (coached by Maggie's brother Jamie). The following year the classic was moved to Madison Square Garden. This year's classic featured Boston College-Baylor and Tennessee-Rutgers.

The between games tribute was very well done, with a short speech by Jamie Dixon and presentation of awards, and of a check for fighting cardiac arrhythmia to the Cardiac Arrhythmias Research and Education Foundation (CARE) . Jamie Dixon told the crowd that Maggie always wanted to play in a game at MSG, and this was the way she could do so in spirit. Additionally, former Army women's basketball player and and Afghanistan War veteran Lt. Col Kim Kawamoto and Rutgers women's basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer were awarded the inaugural MAGGIE DIXON COURAGE AWARDS in the between games ceremony.

(4) As for the games of yesterday's borrow a line from Jon Landau..."I have seen the future of women's basketball and her name is Brittney Griner". To call Griner a phenom is like calling Joe Louis a pretty good boxer. I've seen hundreds of women's basketball games in my life, both on TV and in person. I don't believe I've seen any player at this stage of her career (a true freshman) have such a presence on the court. She's 6'8" tall, can dunk, and has a wingspan unlike any I have ever seen on a female player. She is averaging 17 points a game with 8.2 rebounds. But the stat that tells the story- Griner has 50 blocked shots in nine games. That's a career for most players.

With that height she'll score big on anyone, but on the defensive side of the ball she changes the way you play the game against Baylor- she'll make you alter your shots by taking away the inside and daring you to win by shooting from the perimeter.

Yesterday in Baylor's 68-55 win over BC Griner had 25 points, and didn't seem to even break a sweat. I don't think I've ever been more impressed after seeing a player for the first time. We've been told in the past that Diana Taurasi or Candace Parker or "insert another name" would change women's basketball. They advanced it, but didn't alter it. Brittney Griner may do for women's basketball what George Mikan did for the men's game back in the day.

In the second game, Rutgers' Brittany Ray had 29 points to lead all scorers, but it wasn't enough as the Scarlet Knights fell to the Tennessee Lady Vols 68-54 . RU fell back early on to trail 21-7 but stormed back to make it 40-39 at the 13:17 mark of the second half. The crowd was into it, the Rutgers faithful were loud and screaming...and then the Vols held Rutgers scoreless for the next five minutes while they built a 45-39 lead they never relinquished.

Truth be told, this game was lost at the fouls line. Tennessee was 26 of 33 for 79%; Rutgers was 7-13 for only 54%. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that if you go to the line 20 more times than your opponent you should be able to win. Rutgers kept sending them to the line, the Vols made their shots...and in the few trips the Scarlet Knights made to the line they didn't capitalize.

Truth be told, Part 2....other than Brittany Ray's steady play and the emergence of sophomore Chelsey Lee as an inside presence, and the contributions freshman Monique Oliver coming off the bench, the other seven members of the 2009-10 Scarlet Knights have been consistent in their inconsistency. They have to get the ship righted, and ASAP....Coach Stringer has ways of motivating players which could be seen relatively soon, just in time for Christmas.

(5) I have to hand it to the fans of the Tennessee Lady Vols. There were several thousand of them in Madison Square Garden yesterday. Few teams have a fan base that travels as well as they do. And they really are easy to spot- a hoard of people dressed in orange walking around New York City at Christmas time.

And the bright orange regalia does make it easy for the cops to readily identify jaywalkers.

(6) AMEN!!! No jury duty! I checked out the website and I don't have to report. I didn't need that stress anyway. I'll create my own when I set up the Christmas tree tomorrow.

(7) No mas! I have nothing else to contribute.

And that's the truth....see you again on Wednesday.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Playlist; "Pour Me Another Glass of Good Cheer!"

Readers of this blog might be surprised to hear the "sounds of the seasons" on these pages during the holidays. I was thinking about doing something to spice the old bloggeroonie up....and then I heard Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone's version of BABY ITS COLD OUTSIDE, and it was a go. Besides, I never miss an opportunity to post a picture or two of beautiful women on this blog, and talk about their talents- it creates traffic here, and keeps me from going nuts talking about the lunacy of politics all of the time.

Christmas wouldn't be the same without the Beach Boys singing LITTLE ST. NICK. And being a Jersey Guy we have to include at least one Bruce and one Bon Jovi Christmas song. BB King and Aaron Neville are on the list because they are who they are....Brian Setzer and his Orchestra because they are soooooo cool. Sarah McLachlan and Joni Mitchell are listed because they're so talented, and Jack Johnson for being so inventive...its almost like hearing RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER as interpreted by a man pretending to be Ella Fitzgerald.

Ray Stevens is on the list because his song touches my "Inner Grinch"....and of course, we have a "Message from the King"....thank you, thank you very much.

That's all for now....another icicle light blew out in front of the house. Wish me luck....crikey!!!! Its colder than a witch's (CENSORED!) out there!

(To start a free playlist on your blog or website, go to and search for some tunes.)

Late Addition!!! I almost forgot- tonight begins the first night of Hannkkah. So sing it, Adam Sandler!

A Mindful Rant; Brian Kelly To Notre Dame- And It Ain't Right

I'll get this part done with before the reader moves on- I'm no Notre Dame fan. I don't like the special handling they get from the public, the media, and the college football establishment. In my eyes, in the 21st century they're similar to Old World aristocracy living off of the glory of those who came before them, won in battles- in some cases- generations ago.

The bottom line is excepting their history they are no better nor worse than most of the college football programs in America. And that includes the way they hired their new head football coach, Brian Kelly, who until less than 24 hours ago, was the head man at the University of Cincinnati.

It was the worst kept secret this side of Sarah Palin's political aspirations for 2012- Charlie Weis needed to win at least nine or ten games at Notre Dame this year and get to a desirable (read BCS) bowl game or he was out at Notre Dame. And the man most in the free world thought would be his targeted replacement was Brian Kelly. Kelly won Big East Coach of the Year in each of his three seasons at UC, compiling a 34-6 record and back to back Big East championships. This year the Cincinnati Bearcats are 12-0, ranked #4 in the AP and #2 in the BCS- and think about this; as Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic brought up in their ESPN show this morning- if at the end of the Big Twelve Championship Game the one second was not restored to give Texas a chance to kick a game winning field goal against Nebraska, then Cincinnati would be playing Alabama for a National Championship- and Brian Kelly may not be Notre Dame's coach as we speak.

But instead, UC will meet the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl with offensive co-ordinator Jeff Quinn coaching Kelly's former team.

Even as late as last night, when Kelly won the HOME DEPOT NATIONAL COACH OF THE YEAR award, Kelly remained mum on the situation. See his interview below with ESPN's Chris Fowler.

Kelly's departure prior to the biggest game in UC's history is the way college football coaching hirers are done. Its the nature of the business, and it is the business they have chosen. Its the way Rich Rodriguez left West Virginia for the Michigan job two years ago, weeks before WVU's BCS bowl game. Other coaches have done it that way- you do it in order to keep recruiting in tact and hit the floor running. Its The System.

And The System stinks. And it needs to be overhauled.

Loyalty....honor...."we are family". Keep preaching it. But its all so very hollow. Brian Kelly insisted to his players at Cincinnati that its all rumors, and indicated to them he would be at UC for the immediate future, even while he was meeting with Notre Dame officials about taking over that program.

Kelly waited until the conclusion of the Cincinnati awards banquet to tell his players he was leaving. Understandably, his players at UC were hurt and upset.

Wide receiver Mardy Gilyard......
"He went for the money.I'm fairly disgusted with the situation, that they let it last this long."

Tight end Ben Guidugli.....
"We already knew what he was going to say. We weren't giving him a round of applause or anything. It's like somebody turned their back on us. We brought this whole thing this far. We've come this far. To have someone walk out now is disappointing."

Quarterback Tony Pike....
"The Tuesday when we were practicing for Pittsburgh, he said he loves it here and he loves this team and loves coaching here and his family loves it here.

Yeah, three cheers for the Fighting Irish. But what about the Cincinnati players who fought so hard to take a program that nobody cared about and give it national attention? What about the fans who filled tiny Nippert Stadium and made the emotional investment with the team in this dream season, and who bought out their allotment of Sugar Bowl tickets? What about the dreams those fans had about the possibility of doing at Cincinnati what had been done at Miami, Florida State, and Virginia Tech, all at one time under the radar programs who with the right coach and circumstances became special?

The UC players and fans have a right to be angry....I'm not one of them, but I can sense the feelings of betrayal they must have.

Honesty and integrity are demanded by all football coaches on the college level- except when it has to be reciprocated back to the players in situations like this. And as stated before, its not just Brian Kelly who was less than forthcoming with his players. Its the way business is conducted in the NCAA involving the student athletes and the men who are charged with them. If anything, the young players at the University of Cincinnati have learned a very harsh life lesson- its not very fair. And the bottom line is, the only people you should be depending on for any kind of long term loyalty should be your immediate family....or barring that, buy a dog.

There should be a rule change in NCAA hirings- a coach may not be contacted unless the team he is currently coaching has completed its season. It may not be a perfect solution, but at least it would be a way to coerce college coaches practice the honesty and integrity they demand of their players, but sometimes do not practice themselves.

(In writing this entry I used and The Star-Ledger as my primary sources).

Postscript- @ 3:30PM Friday December 11- I just listened to portions of Brian Kelly's introduction as Notre Dame's new head coach on the radio. Now I can approximate what Arthur of the Britons probably said when he pulled Excalibur from the stone.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Quick Hits For December 9th; Meet Mr. Monk's Daughter (Well, Sort Of)

(1) There was a lot of activity on this blog last weekend concerning the MONK series finale, one of the busiest 24 hours this blog has ever seen....but there was one issue that was never resolved and had viewers scouring the internet still looking for answers....

People wanted to know who was the very beautiful actress who played Trudy Monk's daughter?.

Molly Evans was played by Alona Tal, an Israeli actress, who like the character she played on MONK is 26 years of age. She starred on several series in Israel, and began her career in the United States on Veronica Mars as "Meg Manning" from 2004-06. She had a recurring role on Supernatural (2006-09), and has guest starred in such series as CSI; Crime Scene Investigation, Cold Case, 7th Heaven, Ghost Whisperer, and The Mentalist.

Almost immediately after the episode aired, within minutes, queries began....who played Molly in MONK's finale?  I had no answer at the time, and as of now on the USA website the credits for the last show of not been posted in the episode guide. But she definitely made an impression on the huge audience for the final show. 

After five years of working in the States, Alona Tal is an overnight sensation!

(2) Same sex marriage is being debated in Trenton. The current governor, Jon Corzine, said he would sign the bill if it passes. Governor elect Chris Christie has said he would veto the bill if he were in office. My take- I agree with the immortal Kinky Friedman. When Kinky was running for governor of Texas a few years ago he was asked what he thought of same sex marriage he said....."I'm for same sex marriage. There's no reason gay people shouldn't be allowed to be as miserable as the rest of us are".

(3).The funniest guy on late night TV....or possibly on any TV show? Its Craig Ferguson, hands down (above with Jennifer Love Hewitt). Living proof that less is band, no sidekicks, just Craig and his stream of consciousness  form of humor. The guest has no idea where he going with the interview, so its just be prepared for anything and everything. He does a great Michael Caine impression as well.

(4). On November 29th I boldly made these bowl projections for the Big East....

Cincinnati beats Pitt, West Virginia beats Rutgers, and UCONN- USF a tossup. Cincinnati would go to the Sugar Bowl, West Virginia (tie breaker on Pitt) goes to the Gator, Pitt goes to the Meineke, Rutgers to St.Petersburg, South Florida to The International, UCONN to Papa John's. I also included three other scenarios to cover all of the bases. I'd rather be thorough than to be wrong. But I'm usually never so thorough, and often find myself oh-so-wrong.

(5). Does anybody out there actually write down how you managed to rig the outdoor Christmas lights so you can be more efficient each year, or are you like me- a mad scientist plugging in lights and watching them short out before your eyes? And because of this, have you invented any new curse words for this most sacred of seasons? Well...I have.

"#@%$#)&@'er's".....and its so damn cold out here!"

(6). I don't know what I found more amusing- Chad Ochocinco putting on a sombrero and poncho after catching a touchdown pass last Sunday (and getting a $30,000 fine from the league for doing it) or seeing ESPN's latest promo featuring Mike Ditka and Snoop Dogg (talk about an odd couple). Nice hat Mike!

(7). I woke up yesterday morning, looked at the calendar, and saw it was December 8th...."Ahhhhh! The "Feast of the Immaculate Reception," I said to myself. Which means either I'm not such a good Catholic (no big news there) or I watch way too much football. Or perhaps both.

(8) Sad news about the WNBA's Sacramento Monarchs being disbanded. Just a few years ago they won the league championship and for years were one of the WNBA's flagship franchises. In recent years the franchises in Charlotte and Houston were dissolved and Detroit is being relocated to Tulsa. A recent press release has said the league wants to have a franchise in the San Francisco Bay area in 2011- new ownership was sought for the Monarchs but not found, and the timetable for a move to the Bay Area just wasn't feasible. A dispersal draft is to be held for the the players on the Monarchs roster.

(9).As The World Turns , the CBS soap opera which made its debut on April 2, 1956, will end its run on September 17, 2010. The age of the daytime soap opera may be nearing an end, with a total of only six on three networks as of fall, 2010. Its yet another blow to the acting fraternity based in New York.

So what will be the replacement? Yet another talk show? A retread gameshow? Or a vapid unreality reality show? I'm not a fan of soaps but at least they are scripted and gave actors a chance to work on their craft. This is just another example of what happens when bean counters take over an industry....ANY industry.

(10). Finally, Rick Malwitz, columnist for The Home News Tribune wrote a great piece; For Some Five Consecutive Bowls Is Not Enough, concerning some of the griping Rutgers Nation is doing about its selection to play Central Florida in The St. Petersburg Bowl. Rick's take is it wasn't that long ago (2004) that Rutgers football fans would sell their first born to go to a bowl game...ANY bowl game, having not gone to one since 1978. And Rick is right- the mere fact that people are complaining about going to a minor bowl game is, in a way, a sign of progress.

I'll be sticking to this self imposed Holiday Schedule until the beginning of the New Year or unless World War III breaks out in the next three weeks, which ever comes first. It works for me....and I have mucho stuff to do, Christmas shopping, and a house to decorate for the holidays....we'll talk to you again on Friday.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holiday Schedule For The Blog

To All Readers, Visitors, and Followers.....Its becoming apparent that the demands of the Holiday Season are going to mean its time to cut back on postings on this blog for the next few weeks. For most of 2009 I posted at least two or three entries per day, but for the duration of the month I'll be chiming in with new material every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday until after the New Year. In the coming weeks I'll comment on "The Year In Review", a look back at the first decade of the 21st century (I can't believe its over already), and a look back at some of the most popular topics and persons on this blog in 2009. Thanks to all of you for your amazing and much appreciated support during the past year. I'll be adding some holiday "bells and whistles" on the blog very, very soon.

"Hugh Jee"

12 Hours Later (Plus + Plus)- Rutgers Falls to WVU, St . Petersburg Bowl Bound

This is part of my season long look at the Rutgers Football team's 2009 season from my seat in Section 104.

There was rain, there was cold, there was snow, there were 50,000 plus people in the stands at the start of the game (and don't believe those members of the media who say it was only 40,000; you can't get a good view of the stands from a heated press box next to your complimentary hot meal courtesy of the tuition payers and taxpayers, Rutgers being the State University of New Jersey).

The result was the same- for the 15th straight year Rutgers was beaten by West Virginia, 24-21. Think about this- the last time Rutgers beat West Virginia was the second game of the new Rutgers Stadium. For the trivia minded out there- and check the name of the blog, if you will- Ray Lucas, now the radio analyst for Rutgers was the winning quarterback in both of Rutgers last two win against WVU. He started the last game ever at old Rutgers Stadium in November, 1992 and was the winning qb in the Dedication Game of the new Stadium in September, 1994 against the Mountaineers.

(To take it a couple of RU Trivia steps further, Lucas- besides being the winning qb at the last game ever played at Old Rutgers Stadium, was also the winning qb for the first game ever played at the new Rutgers Stadium, against Kent State in September, 1994. He is also the only Rutgers qb to win Rutgers home games in three different stadiums- Old and New Rutgers Stadium, and at Giants Stadium, where Rutgers played home games during the 1993 season.)

Was I disappointed in the outcome of the Rutgers-WVU game? I wouldn't be much of a fan if I wasn't. At some point Rutgers will have to end the streak against WVU in order to be taken seriously by the media and the college football community. Don't get me wrong- I think anytime you turn your team over to a true freshman quarterback (Tom Savage) and still make it to a bowl game the season is a success and the bigger picture says the future is bright. And this will be five straight bowl games- this has to be called the most successful period in the history of the Rutgers football program. And remember this- it was only six years ago that Rutgers ended a 25 game Big East losing streak that spanned five seasons, five years, two head coaches, and two centuries (1999 to 2003). It was only a short time ago that Rutgers was not just a Jersey joke, but a national one as well.

The bowl streak began with the 2005 season (7-5)and a trip to the Insight Bowl and a loss the Arizona State. The following years Rutgers was 11-2 and clocked Kansas State in the Texas Bowl. What we had was a team that went from being a perennial loser to being a seven win team to being an eleven win team. And RU actually skipped a step- when building a football program teams usually don't go from 6 and 7 wins to 10,11, and 12 wins without spending some time in the 8 and 9 win area. That 10 win per year territory is usually reserved for the college football elite. What Rutgers did in 2006 was the result of a remarkable year in which they began the season 9-0.

The following three years saw Rutgers at 8-5, 8-5, and currently at 8-4. This is where they are, and this is where the program (as of this moment) probably should be. Right now this program, considering its history which has been long but not very storied, seems poised to take the next step- that is, getting to that 10 win plateau. Its not easy, but having a Top 20 recruiting class in 2009 helps, coupled with incrementally better recruiting classes each year since the bowl appearance streak began in 2005.

If getting to that next level and staying there was such an easy task, don't you think guys like Charlie Weis would have done so for job security's sake? People, like WFAN (NYC) radio's Mike Francesa, have called Rutgers a "total fraud" because they have not improved after that 11-2 season. He has a bully pulpit, which at times he does tend to use as a bully....but I won't take to task any program that finds itself in bowl games every year while seeing its classes ranked in college football's APR in the top five ever year, along with the likes of Navy, Stanford, Duke, and Air Force- they go to bowls and they graduate their kids, they fill their expanded stadium to 95% capacity, and their fan base travels better than anybody in the Big East not based in Morgantown, WV.

Pardon the language....some f-ing fraud.

There was speculation that Rutgers would be invited to the Meinecke Bowl in Charlotte, which has become one of the more prestigious second tier games in a relatively short period of time. Truth be told, Rutgers didn't deserve it; with Cincinnati off to the Sugar Bowl with a date with Florida, West Virginia to meet FSU in the Gator, Pitt- by virtue of being the third place team in the Big East, beating Rutgers at home, and having a winning record in the Big East and a better overall record (9-3) deserved that bowl. Rutgers was in a tie for fourth place with UCONN and South Florida at 3-4 in conference but held a tie breaker with wins over them and a better overall record (8-4 to their 7-5 each).

Rutgers will meet the University of Central Florida in the second St. Petersburg Bowl. The good news is its a warm weather city, its Florida, its sun and fun for the fans who want to go the game. The bad news- its in less that two weeks (December 19) which will make things tight for the RU faithful in the middle of the holiday season with short notice. And Rutgers will not get much of the extra practice time allotted to bowl teams since the game is among the first bowl games to be played in the first bowl weekend. This really amounts to the same prep time in a bye week situation. Also, the game is being played during the final exam period at Rutgers- who knows how this will play into the mental preparedness for the game?

On a personal note, the timing of this game could not be worse for me- not only will I have to contend with all the holiday trials and tribulations that other fans, but I have the prospect of jury duty on December 15. If I'm selected for the trial I'll be performing my duty as a solid citizen of New Jersey and Middlesex County instead of drinking a Corona (with lime) on the beach in the Tampa Bay area, counting down the hours till kickoff with my beloved football team.

The sacrifices one must make for truth, justice, and the American way....especially that justice part.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Monk- The Final Episode

Major spoiler alert! If you haven't seen the final episode of Monk and don't want to know what happened.....GET OUTTA HERE! NOW!!!

Well, we knew Judge Rickover (Craig T. Nelson) was the person behind the murder of Trudy Monk and two others last week. And now the connection to the birthing center became clear when Trudy revealed on the tape that she had an affair with Rickover while she was in college and Rickover was her professor. She became pregnant by him.

A baby was born on January 3, 1983...a daughter, of whom Trudy was told died the same day.

The tape nailed Rickover, and later Monk held a gun a Rickover as he forced the judge to dig a hole in his backyard, where the remains of the missing midwife, Wendy Stroud was buried. Monk laid his gun down, and the judge shot himself with these last words...

"You take care of her".

An antidote to the toxin Monk took in was found, and he lived. Soon afterward Monk discovered the meaning of Rickover's last words....Trudy's baby was alive and was put up for adoption after her birth. Trudy, Wendy Stroud, and the doctor at the birthing clinic were all murdered as per Rickover's orders to cover up the existence of his out of wedlock daughter.

The now adult daughter's name was Molly Evans, and she was a film critic for the San Francisco Examiner. Adrian met Molly and bonded with her, he became a doting Dad, taking hundreds of pictures of her in a three day span. While showing the pictures at police HQ Randy announced that he was leaving San Francisco to become police chief in Summitt, NJ....and he and Sharona were an item.

"Its called a blog".....said Mr. Monk of Molly's prowess on the internet.

We faded to the closing montage including small clips from past shows and of the cast in their new relationships....Stottlemyer and his new wife TJ; Natalie preparing dinner for new love Stephen; Randy setting up shop in Summitt; and Adrian talking about going to a movie with surrogate daughter Molly.

The last scene shows Natalie and Adrian going to another case where they meet Leland, and the camera zooms out to the tune of Randy Newman's "Your Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone".

It was a different Adrian Monk in the closing scenes...still quirky but happy and feeling a sense of purpose. He had a bounce in his step and appeared to finally be the man he once was before the death of Trudy.

Will this REALLY be the end? Or will this just be the beginning of a slew of Monk Mystery Movies for television, much like we saw for Columbo back in the 1980's?

Stay tuned!

More on MONK's "goodbye" here.

Update and corrections. 11:30PM Saturday 12/5.... Last night I typed the synopsis during commercial breaks as the show was playing, so please forgive any omissions or a lack traditional structure of the entry. One correction- Molly worked for The East Bay Chronicle, not the San Francisco Examiner.

True story- last week after the original airing of the first part of the series finale my Mom, age 80, told me she thought the birthing center murders somehow would have a connection to a daughter Trudy had out of wedlock that she kept secret from Monk. After all these years, Mom knows best. Growing up I always knew she was the real world's greatest detective.

Mr. Monk Says Goodbye

About seven years ago I saw a review in a local paper about a new detective show, it's hook being the protagonist was an obsessive-compulsive (with multiple phobias) ex-cop who's wife was murdered, leading to his mental breakdown.

Sounds like a lot of laughs, so I thought. That's a gimmick that should last about six weeks.

I never realized from reading the review that Monk was really a comedy disguised as a murder mystery. Consequently I never watched the first season at all. It wasn't until early in its second season that I got hooked on Adrian was the episode titled Mr. Monk Goes To The Theater, which aired on August 1, 2003. Like all of the plot lines on MONK, it was incredible and unbelievable....but part of MONK's charm was you never cared about resolutions because it was always such a comedic hoot. It was an hour of pure escapist entertainment.

In a way MONK was a direct descendant of COLUMBO- the quirky cop who was always the smartest guy in the room. But while COLUMBO was procedural drama with comic undertones, MONK was done for laughs, with the occasional veer to drama, particularly when dealing with Adrian Monk's efforts to find wife Trudy's murderer, or looking at his attachment to her years after her demise in a parking garage. 

I don't think I missed an episode since 2003, and managed to catch up on all episodes from Season One. Adrian Monk was a true classic TV character, and MONK, the series, was a show that may have opened the door for DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, a comedy masquerading as a soap opera in much the same way MONK did as a crime drama.

We all rooted for Adrian Monk to make it back to some semblance of wellness, even though Monk could even grate on the nerves of even his biggest fans with his quirkiness- spending three hours to write a check because the writing wasn't even, not taking his shoes off in a Buddhist sanctuary (which drove a man who took a vow a silence to start screaming at him in frustration), or his taking out and polishing each one of his lightbulbs just because they needed polishing.

And we stood by him in his quest for the past eight seasons to find the individuals involved in the murderer of his beloved wife Trudy. Last week we found out that Trudy's murder was ordered by a judge (played by Craig T. Nelson). Tonight (Friday December 4) we'll find out the motive for the murder. We were left hanging in last week's two part episode when Adrian finally opened a Christmas present from the month of Trudy's death. In it was a video tape from Trudy- she was about to reveal a terrible secret to Adrian and his assistant Natalie Teeger  12 years after her death. What was the connection to the missing midwife at the birthing center 12 years before? Or was there any connection at all? Why was the doctor who ran the birthing center (played by Ed Begley, Jr) murdered? Did "the Judge" work in cahoots to have Adrian framed for killing Frank Nunn, the man with six fingers who was the man who set off the bomb that killed Trudy? And will Adrian, who had ingested a toxin and was told he only had two days to live, survive?

It was a wild and fun ride for the past eight seasons, and many thanks to stars Tony Shalhoub (Monk),  Traylor Howard (Natalie),  Jason Gray-Stanford (Randy Disher), and Ted Levine (Leland Stottlemeyer). And we will not forget original cast member Bitty Schram and the late Stanley Kamel (who's Dr. Charles Kroger character died of a sudden heart attack, as did the actor). Most recently the great character actor  Hector Elizondo joined the cast as as Dr. Neven Bell, Monk's newest therapist.

The list of guest stars  over the eight year run is long; it includes Willie Nelson (as himself), Gena Rowlands, James Brolin, Adam Arkin,  Laurie Metcalf, Malcom McDowell, Howie Mandell, Jason Alexander, Sharon Lawrence, Glenne Headley,  and David Strathairn.

My two favorite guest stars of the series were John Turturro and Stanley Tucci.  Turturro first played Adrian's agoraphobic brother Ambrose in the episode Mr. Monk and The Three Pies. Adrian and Ambrose hadn't spoken in years, and Adrian holds a grudge because Ambrose wouldn't leave the house to attend Trudy's funeral. The homebound Ambrose spoke seven and a half languages (he was teaching himself Mandarin), and made a living writing instruction manuals for household appliances from his cluttered mess of a home. He was also saving the mail sent to the house for the brother's missing father- he went out for Chinese food when they were kids and never came back. Ambrose was a good hearted nerd who first took a shine to Monk's assistant #1 Sharona, and later with assistant #2 Natalie. Ambrose appeared in several other episodes over the span of the series- another memorable episode with Ambrose was Mr. Monk Goes Home. There was a memorable exchange in this Halloween episode in which Ambrose tells Leland Stottlemeyer that the suspect he is looking for was dressed like Frankenstein's monster. When the Leland puts out an APB for FRANKENSTEIN, Ambrose stops him to tell him that technically he is wrong; Frankenstein is the maker of the monster, not the creature he made and that the cops in the squad cars would be confused by this faulty information.

Stanley Tucci played actor David Ruskin in Mr. Monk and the Actor. Ruskin is a method actor who follows Adrian around for a film based on the lives of the show's characters. But he becomes too good in his research- he starts dressing like Monk, feeling his many phobias, and even dons a dark curly wig to look like Adrian. And of course he has to become involved in the solving of a crime, which puts the lives of both Adrian and Ruskin in jeopardy.

So many episodes, and so little time....but here are a few more favorites; Mr. Monk and the Garbage Strike, Mr. Monk and the Birds and the Bees, Mr. Monk Takes Manhattan, Mr. Monk vs. The Cobra, and Mr. Monk and the Genius. I could go on and give a dozen more.

I'm sad to see the show end, but happy to see its ending on a high note. Nothing is worse than watching a series continue years after it has "jumped the shark" (think the last three or four years of DREW CAREY, HAPPY DAYS, ALL IN THE FAMILY). The cast and crew are leaving us wanting more....and that's a testament to the show's enduring entertainment value.

To all involved....thanks. I feel a tear coming on.

Give me a wipe, please.

I'll be back after the final episode to discuss the finale later this evening.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

WWII vet fights homeowners group over Va. flagpole | National News |

Retired Colonel Van T Barfoot, 90, is one of our oldest Congressional Medal of Honor winners. He won the medal for his action at Carano, Italy on May 23, 1944 during the Second World War.

Below, the details of his citation for the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 157th Infantry, 45th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Carano, Italy, 23 May 1944. Entered service at: Carthage, Miss. Birth: Edinburg, Miss. G.O. No.: 79, 4 October 1944.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty on 23 May 1944, near Carano, Italy. With his platoon heavily engaged during an assault against forces well entrenched on commanding ground, 2d Lt. Barfoot (then Tech. Sgt.) moved off alone upon the enemy left flank. He crawled to the proximity of 1 machinegun nest and made a direct hit on it with a hand grenade, killing 2 and wounding 3 Germans. He continued along the German defense line to another machinegun emplacement, and with his tommygun killed 2 and captured 3 soldiers. Members of another enemy machinegun crew then abandoned their position and gave themselves up to Sgt. Barfoot. Leaving the prisoners for his support squad to pick up, he proceeded to mop up positions in the immediate area, capturing more prisoners and bringing his total count to 17. Later that day, after he had reorganized his men and consolidated the newly captured ground, the enemy launched a fierce armored counterattack directly at his platoon positions. Securing a bazooka, Sgt. Barfoot took up an exposed position directly in front of 3 advancing Mark VI tanks. From a distance of 75 yards his first shot destroyed the track of the leading tank, effectively disabling it, while the other 2 changed direction toward the flank. As the crew of the disabled tank dismounted, Sgt. Barfoot killed 3 of them with his tommygun. He continued onward into enemy terrain and destroyed a recently abandoned German fieldpiece with a demolition charge placed in the breech. While returning to his platoon position, Sgt. Barfoot, though greatly fatigued by his Herculean efforts, assisted 2 of his seriously wounded men 1,700 yards to a position of safety. Sgt. Barfoot's extraordinary heroism, demonstration of magnificent valor, and aggressive determination in the face of pointblank fire are a perpetual inspiration to his fellow soldiers.

This man, who demonstrated such extraordinary gallantry and heroism on that day 65 years ago bought a 21 foot flag pole in September and placed it in front of his Richmond, VA home. The 90 year old rises and hoists the flag each dawn, and at sunset each day he lowers it.

Col. Barfoot has been told by his local home owners to remove the flag pole or face a lawsuit. They cite the flag pole violates aesthetic guidelines for the neighborhood. He has been given a deadline of 5:00PM Friday to comply.

Its not about politics or liberal vs. conservative, ladies and gents. Its a matter of right and wrong. And few deserve to fly the flag they fought for, killed for, and risked their lives for more than this elderly gentleman.

READ MORE.....from

Rocker Ronnie Wood arrested for possible assault |

Say it ain't so, Woody!

Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood was arrested on Wednesday and held in custody overnight, and released on bail on Thursday after what is being called a "domestic incident" by local authorities in the UK.

Wood divorced his wife of 24 years last month. He is said to be involved with 20 year old cocktail waitress Ekaterina Ivanova. Ron Wood is 62 years old.

Some of us don't know the meaning of aging gracefully.

READ MORE....From |

Hofstra cutting football, citing cost, low interest

As a big college football fan, this is some sad news. Playing a 1AA schedule is a tough sell, particularly in the New York Metropolitan area. Rutgers, playing in the Big East never started to draw well until they began winning and going to bowl games in 2005.

This is the second program to fall in recent weeks- Northeastern has also dropped football. Unfortunately, this could be just the beginning of a slew of money losing programs making the cut due to tough economic times.


Posted using ShareThis

Comcast aims to reshape entertainment with NBC |

The article, courtesy of, concerns the proposed takeover of NBC by COMCAST. If that does occur COMCAST would be a cable company that controls one of the Big Four networks and several cable networks, but a movie studio as well. To take it a step further, I'm typing this entry using an internet connection from COMCAST...the landline phone? That's from COMCAST as well. NEWSCORP...Disney...Viacom...COMCAST. Ladies and gents, meet the new "Big Four".

READ MORE....from|

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Statement From Tiger Woods

Below is the text of a statement released by Tiger Woods regarding the incident last week, its aftermath, and allegations made regarding him.

"I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behavior and personal failings behind closed doors with my family. Those feelings should be shared by us alone.

Although I am a well-known person and have made my career as a professional athlete, I have been dismayed to realize the full extent of what tabloid scrutiny really means. For the last week, my family and I have been hounded to expose intimate details of our personal lives. The stories in particular that physical violence played any role in the car accident were utterly false and malicious. Elin has always done more to support our family and shown more grace than anyone could possibly expect.

But no matter how intense curiosity about public figures can be, there is an important and deep principle at stake which is the right to some simple, human measure of privacy. I realize there are some who don't share my view on that. But for me, the virtue of privacy is one that must be protected in matters that are intimate and within one's own family. Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn't have to mean public confessions.

Whatever regrets I have about letting my family down have been shared with and felt by us alone. I have given this a lot of reflection and thought and I believe that there is a point at which I must stick to that principle even though it's difficult.

I will strive to be a better person and the husband and father that my family deserves. For all of those who have supported me over the years, I offer my profound apology."


Opinion- So be it. What has happened between Tiger Woods and his wife should be a private matter in a world in which nothing is private anymore. If there is anyone among us who can claim never to have had a moment or period of time involving a relationship that went south and caused embarrassment or pain, please be straight with yourself and with others- everyone of us is guilty sometime along the way. What has happened in the case of Tiger Woods is yet another instance of unrealistic expectations in the private life of a celebrity. Tiger Woods owes the public his best performance on the golf course, nothing more, nothing less.

Sadly, this will not go away. There will always be tabloids and websites that exist only for celebrity gossip- they'll try their best as judge, jury, and executioner to put the subject in their grave, and will then criticize the clothes they wore in their own funeral.

I won't go there....this will be my last post regarding Woods and his private life.

"Hugh Jee"

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bobby Bowden- Saying Goodbye To A Legend

I just wanted to get my two cents in regarding the "resignation" of Florida State Head Football Coach Bobby Bowden....and I did put resignation in quotes, because the man was forced out. Like Casey Stengel with the Yankees in 1960, Coach Bowden's major offense was he just got old. His 6-6 record and 4-4 in the ACC made the Seminoles bowl eligible once again, but it wasn't good enough for the administration. Bowden has been the coach at FSU since 1976 following a successful run at West Virginia. FSU didn't start playing Division One football until 1947, didn't give athletic scholarships until 1951, had some success in the 1960's under head coach Bill Peterson, but by the 1970's the program was a disaster, going winless in 1970 and not much better in the first half of the decade.

Enter Coach Bowden, the witty, affable, good old boy who was even a better man than he was a coach....and a damn fine coach he was. He won 388 games in his career, second only to Penn State's Joe Paterno. He led his team to a record 27 consecutive bowl games; 15 of those were on New Year's Day. His teams won 10 or more games for 14 seasons in a row. All along he and his wife have lived in the same house in Tallahassee, had the same phone number, and turned FSU football into a family affair, having his sons and son in law serving as assistants.

And I forgot to include that he did win two national championships...sorry 'bout that!

There was a Florida State football team before 1976, but Bobby Bowden became the Florida State program. What he did for FSU football is similar to what John Thompson did for Georgetown basketball, or what Geno Auriemma and Pat Summitt did for UCONN and Tennessee women's basketball- he built something that will forever be identified with him in history.

When Jimbo Fisher was added to his staff several years ago as Bowden's designated successor the writing was on the wall. Bobby Bowden was forced out by the administration and boosters at FSU, plain and simple. They already built a statue to him in front of Doak Campbell Stadium, so I guess that made it OK to turn him loose.

He deserved better..Bobby Bowden should have been allowed to come back for a farewll tour in the ACC one last time. Its so sad.

I did get a chance to see his team play back in the early 1990's when they blew out Kansas in a game held at Giant's Stadium. That group included Derek Brooks and Heisman winner Charlie Ward. I got to see a legend....and I feel good about that.

For more on the Bobby Bowden legacy, click here.

And for the Florida State Football website click here.

President Obama's Afghan Strategy; Worth The Risk, or Worth The Risk?

"We must deny al-Qaida a safe haven. We must reverse the Taliban's momentum. ... And we must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan's security forces and government."- President Barack Obama.

And thus President Obama committed an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan at an approximate cost of $30 billion for the next year alone. They will be joining the 71,000 already on the ground in that war torn country, where the United States has been involved in a ground war since October, 2001. The new first troops will arrive in Afghanistan by earlier 2010.

In his speech to the nation from the United States Military Academy at West Point, (NY) the President did give a timetable for the deployment of troops- Mr. Obama said the troops will start coming home in the summer of 2011. In the interim US forces will attempt to get Afghan forces to take control of their own security.

The President told viewers and his audience that he would get together with Congress to find a way to fund the additional expense, but offered no specific way to do so. So far, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost the United States a trillion dollars, with 4,284 killed in action and 30,182 wounded in Iraq as of December 1st, and 849 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan, Pakistan and neighboring Uzbekistan, according to the Pentagon.

My reaction to the President's speech was mixed. I want Osama bin Laden punished for his murder of 3,000 people on our own soil, and want to see al-Qaida, if not destroyed, at least put in check permanently. The incompetence of the Bush-Cheney administration allowed the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks to escape by getting America involved in an unnecessary war in in Iraq. Bin Laden was there for the taking in 2001, and the Bush administration decided to start preparing for a war in Iraq as early as November, 2001 (according to retired Col Lawrence Wilkerson, an aide to the Bush White House).

But tonight Barack Obama took ownership of the war and the escalation of its prosecution. He was left holding the bag left to him by the previous administration. Its all his now, to win or lose.

I think he realizes the American people are weary of war and shaken by the fragile state of the American economy- and that they will not stand for an open ended strategy, thus the time table. But how can any war be fought with a "game clock", as CBS's Bob Schieffer put it? Or how can we keep asking are troops to do more and keep sending them back into combat for two or three, or even more tours of duty? How can this war be paid for without adding on to the ballooning national deficit? If bin Laden is in Pakistan and not in Afghanistan, how does this help to bring him to justice? Why should America continue to support the weak and corrupt regime of President Karzai, who's brother is one of the largest traffickers of drugs in the Middle East? And the Afghan people are showing signs of wanting foreigners- meaning Americans and our allies- out of their country.

These questions will only multiply in the coming months regarding this escalation. Maybe in trying to find a solution to the conflict President Obama had cut off the head of the Hydra, only to see two heads grow back in its place.
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