Thursday, February 26, 2009

Survivor Tocantins Has Personality!

Last week I lamented the fact that there was a definite lack of personality on this season’s Survivor. After watching tonight’s episode, the complaining is over! Not only is there a major personality emerging but there is also an underlying theme developing as well.

In my recap last week I mentioned that Coach used his “Svengali-like power” to persuade Sierra and Erinn to vote Candace off. Tonight he oozed Svengali power! He has become Coach Svengali. He has wicked eerie powers.

After his Timbira tribe lost the Reward Challenge and a prize package that would have made Monty Hall blush, Coach Svengali let out a primal scream. Back at camp he pulled Tyson aside and decided to make him his assistant.

Tyson was giddy about being named assistant coach. He said that someday, under Coach Svengali’s tutelage, he would make “Coach”. He said that if he was ever separated from Coach Svengali and put on a new tribe, he would demand to be called coach on his new tribe.

I told you that Coach Svengali had wicked eerie powers.

You have to have some freaky mojo to say things like, “I am so true that existing around people that smile evilly when somebody else is on their knees kills me! I cannot exist around someone like that.”

Who says stuff like that? Coach Svengali, that’s who!

His crowning moment was at Tribal Council when Jeff Probst questioned him about being a leader during the Immunity Challenge. He said he was leading by making eye contact with everyone and telling them what to do using only his eyes. Creepy, huh?

Coach Svengali’s wizardry is so powerful that it is also connected to the underlying theme that has developed.

If you recall last week that hunky country-boy J.T. was showing the demure city-boy Stephen the fine art of fishing. Afterwards, Stephen commented dreamily that he thinks he might be smitten with J.T.

Now this week, after his pow-wow with Coach Svengali, Tyson gushed how wonderfully dynamic Coach Svengali was and declared, “He has a little school boy crush on me. He loves me.”

These two moments highlight the underlying theme that is blossoming that I like to call Brokeback Survivor. Love, exciting and new. As Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza once said, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”

I would be remiss if I did not mention one other outstanding quote from tonight’s episode. It came from Sandy the 53-year-old bus driver from Kentucky. Please keep in mind that this woman has probably chewed more tobacco then the New York Mets.

After a good night’s rest in Jalapao’s newly refurbished camp, Sandy, running her fingers through her nappy, bug-infested hair said, “I know I am a sex kitten this morning.” Nice.

In the end Brendan finds the Hidden Immunity Idol in Timbira’s camp and U.S. Army sergeant Jerry is ousted by Coach Svengali and his cohorts.

We finally have a major personality, plus an underlying theme! Until next week…from Tocantins.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Catching Up With “Cool Papa”

I just had a 45-minute phone call with a friend of mine that I hadn’t spoken with in quite a while. “Cool Papa” played softball for me back in the day. You would never guess by talking with him what he does for a living. He is as down-to-earth as they come. Plus, he is a little bit crazy. Okay, he is a whole lot crazy.

I usually call “Cool Papa” every couple of months. This time it was closer to six months. We always try to catch up on things. You know, stuff like how the Brewers are going to do or who the Packers are going to draft. Nothing earth shattering, just general sports stuff.

Sooner or later we will get to talking about the “good old days” at Finney’s West. Back in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, Finney’s West was the softball hot spot in Kenosha. Many of the events that we reminisce about would center around Finney’s West. Some of them even had something to do with softball.

A typical chat with “Cool Papa” usually ended with me asking how his wife and three sons were doing. He would bring me up to date and then ask me if I was going to come out and watch him play at the Moose Lodge.

Today when I called “Cool Papa” the call started out in the routine fashion. We talked about the Badger/Michigan State game. Brett Favre’s latest retirement came up and we eventually got around to the upcoming baseball season.

After that the familiar stories about the crazy hijinks at Finney’s West began. We talked about the time his youngest boy tried to climb the centerfield fence after a morning league game.

I then brought up one of my favorite tales - the infamous incident involving Jim Krifka and Mike Foss. Before could I get done saying Foss, “Cool Papa” said, “Don’t start Mike!” You see that was (no pun intended) the punch line to this particular anecdote.

After we both chuckled. I reminded my friend that Jim Krifka was no longer with us. He then made me aware that Mike Foss had also passed away not so long ago. Before long we had come up with a rather sobering list of people from the good old days that were “no longer with us.”

Attempting to divert the conversation to a more positive direction, I asked “Cool Papa” how the boys were. He informed me that he and his wife, “Fred” were now blessed with a total of four grandchildren. Remember I mentioned his youngest son climbing the centerfield fence? He is currently serving our country over in Afghanistan.

My latest phone call with “Cool Papa” had all the ingredients it usually does, although this time there was a difference. We gabbed about the good old days like we always do. However this time there seemed to be a little more emphasis on the old parts then on the good ones.

I plan on calling my friend again in a few months, not waiting six like this time. By the way, before hanging up, he asked me if I was going to come watch him play at the Moose Lodge this year. “Cool Papa” turns 57 this year. I told you he was a whole lot crazy. Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Would Somebody Like A Personality?

Well week 2 of Survivor Tocantins is in the books. Yawn! What started out as an exciting, action-packed episode turned into a real snooze fest. So much so, fellow Survivor Geek Jamie commented via email that it was a little “soap operaish” with little action. She referred to it as “Days of our Tribe”.

As I said, things did start out very promising. How can you go wrong with “No-Holds Barred” Water Basketball in the rain? This was the Rewards/Immunity Challenge. The tribes were playing for fishing equipment, immunity and the privilege of sending someone from the other tribe to Exile Island.

The first tribe to three won the challenge and Timbira sprinted out to a 2 to 0 lead. However, Jalapao stormed back and scored the next three baskets for the victory. Sandwiched in between was plenty of physical, full body contact, mostly by the women.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view) the editors were able to “gel” any stray flesh that wasn’t contained by the competitor’s meager swimsuits. Otherwise it easily could have been “Survivors Gone Wild”.

Sadly this was the only challenge of the episode and the only real excitement. Ya, Brendan (Timbira) was sent to Exile Island. Okay, and there was a minor twist when he was able to choose someone from the winning tribe to join him and brought Taj (Jalapao). But the rest was boring!

The nondescript, humdrum last thirty minutes finally culminated with Tribal Council. Hurray! But alas, the outcome was the same as last week. Another amply endowed contender is blindsided. Big Boobs plus Bitchiness equals “The tribe has spoken” and Candace is sent packing. Don’t they ever learn?

What this season is sorely missing is PESONALITY! Where are characters like Richard Hatch? Oh ya, he’s in prison. Well then, where are the Ruperts, Toms, Fairplays or that goofy lunch lady? Not in Tocantins!

I know it is very early and perhaps I am too impatient. There is definitely the potential for a number of stars to emerge this season. There were a couple of incidents that showed several survivors having star quality.

One such occurrence was when rugged country-boy J.T. was showing city-boy Stephen the fine art of fishing. Afterwards, Stephen commented that he thinks he might be smitten with J.T. Is it wrong?

Another moment was when Coach was using his Svengali-like power to persuade Sierra and Erinn into voting for Candace. Hell, when he was done I was ready to vote for Candace.

Other possibilities are the 53-year-old bus driver Sandy. She was impressive during the challenge, hootin’ and hollerin’ while she tugged on the bra of an opponent to prevent her from scoring.

Tyson, who got nude (much to Jamie’s delight) in week one, could materialize as a superstar, as could Jerry, the likeable Army sergeant. Like I said, it is early and the potential is there.

Next week’s previews didn’t show me anything much in the way of action. Looks like a bunch of strategizing, conniving and plotting, which are all important components of Survivor. Let’s just hope another vital ingredient shows up – PERSONALITY! Until next week…from Tocantins.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Survivor: Hooters Edition!

Tonight marked the kickoff of the 18th season of the award-winning reality show Survivor. The competitors will try to outwit, outplay and outlast one another while attempting to survive whatever the mountainous highlands of Tocantins, Brazil can throw at them.

Like all good Survivor Geeks, I was singing along during the opening credits, “oy luli-luli-luli”. After watching for fifteen minutes I came to realize that Tocantins isn’t the only thing that is mountainous this season!

My assessment was reinforced when Jamie, a friend and fellow Survivor Geek, emailed me during the first commercial break. She commented that her first impression was that the boobs are getting bigger. She said, "This is like "Survivor: Hooters Edition!"

Yes indeed, the theme of this first episode was first impressions and the ample bosoms of this year’s crop of female challengers definitely made an impression on me. Before the closing credits were rolling, my Aunt Janet called to get my take on the opener. When I brought up Jamie’s comment, she said that’s exactly what your Uncle John noticed!

Both tribes, Timbira and Jalapao, have equal representation with none of their female members lacking in the cleavage category. Early standouts are Carolina, Sierra, Candace and Taj. It’s not going to be hard for guys to stay interested this season.

It should also be noted that Jamie made a salient comment later in the broadcast. It was shortly after professional cyclist Tyson stripped completely naked in front of two of the females that the following was emailed to me – “Tyson's the first one to get naked…he will go far.” That prophetic statement reminded me that Jamie isn’t your average run of the mill Survivor fan. No sir, she is a true Survivor Geek!

So it looks as if the ladies will also have sufficient visual matter to hold their interest as well. Besides the buff Tyson, there are no fewer than five other males vying for the million-dollar prize that fall into the classification of hunk. Hey, what about Survivor Chippendale Edition?

It is still too early for me to choose a favorite, a favorite to win the title of sole Survivor that is. Erinn is from Waukesha, so I have a soft spot for her in the early goings. Plus she is much more attractive than Wisconsin’s representative from season one, Sue Hawk. I am going have to wait a few weeks and see more of the contestant’s personalities.

Geek Jamie says she sees no clear-cut front-runners yet, although she seems to be leaning toward the curmudgeon bus driver, Sandy. As far as someone to hate, she is waiting for a super-loud, opinionated bigot to emerge. Patience my fellow Geek, patience, it will happen.

I suppose at some point I should let you know the results of the first Tribal Council. It came down to the well-endowed 26-year-old bartender, Carolina and the salty 53-year-old bus driver from Kentucky, Sandy.

Unfortunately, as prominent as Carolina’s breasts were, so was her annoying, squeaky voice. Plus she was bossy. As any long-time Survivor Geek knows, this is not a winning combination. Mammoth mammaries are always overlooked when they belong to someone that is overbearing and has an aggravating voice.

The tribe spoke and told the busty bartender it was closing time. She didn’t have to go home, but she couldn’t stay in Tocantins. However, Sandy, much to Jamie’s delight, could.

Next week looks promising. In between phone calls and emails I was able to catch the upcoming highlights. It looked like the hunks and babes were playing basketball in the water, in their skimpy bathing suits while it was raining. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait! Until next time…from Tocantins.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Competition, Pride and Friendships

A while back, I had kicked around the idea of putting together some sort of book celebrating the history of Kenosha slow-pitch softball. Although the book idea got shelved, I was able to obtain some interesting stories while gathering information for the project. I would like to share one of those stories with you.

Jim Nehls was kind enough to respond when I put out a call for information for the book. Nehls pitched for Margetson Construction. Margetson was a constant thorn in the side of The 400 Club, the team I managed and Nehls was their ringleader.

They were only together a total of 3 years, one as Arneson Foundry. During that short period of time, they were able to win the 1979 Kenosha City Tournament. This group of ex-hardball players committed only one error over the 2 weekends that it took to complete that tourney. The final Sunday's action took place at the expansive Simmon's Field. On that memorable day, Margetson knocked off The 400 Club, Matador Lounge, Sorensen's Mfg. and Tirabassi's in the finals.

Nehls told me that winning that City Tournament was obviously the number one highlight in Margetson's short existence. When he mentioned his number two highlight it brought a broad grin to my face.

It seem, Nehls remembered a 6:00 pm "grudge match" with The 400 Club at Finney's West. After the game, star 400 Club outfielder Bruce "Eddie" Edmark approached Nehls, saying, " Why don't you chumps ever stop at The 400 Club?" Later that evening Nehls honored Eddie’s request and gathered several of his teammates arriving at The 400 Club around 10:00 pm.

Upon entering the historic establishment, Nehls was greeted by The 400 Club legend, "Munk." The affable Munk snapped at the Margetson contingent, "What the hell are you guys doing here?" Nehls bravely replied, "Back off! We were invited by Eddie." Munk chuckled and informed Nehls that he was too late - Eddie was already asleep in Gentile's van. Nehls said he thought that was a bit rude. Jimmy Gentile, owner of said van, assured Nehls that it was nothing personal, explaining that Eddie often ended up in the back of his van after a "tough game." Nehls broke into a big smile and ordered a beer.

The players from both teams "closed" The 400 Club that evening, had a great time getting to know each other better. Nehls summed up this memorable moment, saying, and “I guess that's what Kenosha softball was about - Competition, Pride and Friendships." Well-said Mr. Nehls. Until next time...from the booth

Friday, February 6, 2009

Survivor Tocantins Preview

This afternoon, Friday February 6th, the following was written on my facebook wall, courtesy of my friend Jamie -

“HEY!! I thought you said Survivor was starting last night. I was all fired up, wearing my survivor t-shirt and my official Survivor buff from eBay (I wear mine turban style)…and then nothing. Very upsetting.”

Now please keep in mind that Jamie is a fellow Survivor fanatic. Her facebook posting evidences this. Like all Survivor fans, the upcoming season has her giddy with anticipation. This euphoria obviously confused her when she read my January 29th column, “What’s On Tonight?”

Thursday February 12th is the date for the premier of Survivor Tocantins. It marks the 18th season of the award winning reality show. My early research indicates that all the ingredients necessary for another stellar season are definitely there.

Host Jeff Probst takes a brand new cast of 16 hopefuls to Tocantins. Located in the heartland of Brazil, the State of Tocantins, borders the states of Bahia, Maranhão and Piauí, in the North region; it has one of the smallest population rate in the country.

Survivor custom is followed, as the contestants will be broken into two tribes, Jalapao and Timbira. Each tribe will be comprised of four men and four women. The traditional diversity looks to be present as well. Here are the members of the tribe:


Ben, a 37-year-old soccer coach who doubles as an orchestra conductor. Maestro?
Brendan, a 30-year-old successful entrepreneur.
Candace, a 31-year-old who lawyer who doubles as a model. Nice combination.
Debra, a 46-year-old Middle School Principal who reportedly doesn’t act her age.
Erinn, a 26-year-old hair stylist from Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Jerry, a 49-year-old U.S. Army Sergeant recently returned from duty in Afghanistan.
Sierra, a 23-year-old model. Perhaps a Sugar wanna-be?
Tyson, a 29-year-old professional cyclist.


Carolina, a 26-year-old bartender. She is the little cutie this season.
J.T., a 24-year-old hard working cattle farmer.
Joe, a 26-year-old real estate salesman who will remind Survivor fans of Colby.
Sandy, a 53-year-old bus driver. A good old country girl from Kentucky.
Spencer, a 19-year-old college student. A fan of Survivor since age 10!
Stephen, a 29-year-old corporate consultant. A cunning strategist.
Sydney, a 24-year-old interior designer who also models. Yes, another one.
Taj, a 37-year-old R&B singer who is he wife of Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George.

There you have your two tribes. Nine of the participants are under the age of 30, with seven 30 or over. By my estimation there are at least a half a dozen guys that qualify as hunks. For the male fans there are no less than 6 babes, one of which is in the MILF category.

With this eclectic group of personalities all that is needed are some innovative challenges and several of producer Mark Burnett’s now infamous twists. And it all starts Thursday. I know Jamie can’t wait and neither can I. Until next time…from Tocantins.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Importance of Zak Starkey

Zak Starkey is an English drummer who has played with Johnny Marr and the Healers, The Waterboys and Oasis. Currently, he is employed as the (fourth) drummer for the legendary rock band The Who.

So why is Starkey so significant to me? First and foremost, The Who is my favorite band ever. I have been a fan since my school days in the early seventies. No group even comes close. Oh, and did I mention that he has also performed with Ringo Starr and his All Star Band?

This is noteworthy because it speaks to his lineage. You see Zak Starkey, born September 13, 1965, is the first-born child of The Beatles drummer Ringo Starr (whose real name is Richard Starkey) and his first wife, Maureen Cox. He is Ringo’s kid!

That would make Zak 43 years old, not quite ready for AARP. But at present time he plays with the two remaining members from The Who’s original lineup, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey. Daltrey, born in 1944, is 65 later this year. Townshend was born a year later and turns 64 this year.

A while back I stumbled across a wonderful HD channel called Palladia. This channel showcases all types of music, both old and new. Yesterday while waiting for the Super Bowl to begin, I switched over to Palladia and lo and behold, what did I find? “On Tour: The Who Virtual Ticket”.

This thirty-minute show documented the band during a recent tour. Daltrey and Townshend discussed the storied history of the group that I had grown to love over the past 35 plus years. I absorbed and enjoyed every minute of this mini-documentary. But when it was over I realized something, something that I wasn’t ready to accept.

Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey are OLD! The Who is OLD! This is the same Pete Townshend who, in 1965, penned “My Generation.” This is the same Roger Daltrey who belts out, “I hope I die before I get old!” during that same song.

Maybe Townshend wrote those words. And maybe Daltrey sang those words that Townshend wrote 44 years ago. But they have never heeded them. Unfortunately other members of The Who did.

Manic drummer Keith Moon listened, tragically passing away at age 32, many years before he was old. Following suit was bassist extraordinaire John Entwistle, who left us at age 57, before “officially” getting old.

I remember being both saddened and shocked when I heard Moon had passed. Before he got old. Fourteen years later, Entwistle regrettably left this earth. Also before he got old. But I still had Townshend and Daltrey. And they weren’t old. Not yet. Right?

Well, sad to say, on February 1, 2009 I have come to the heart-rending realization that Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey are indeed old. I still enjoy the music that they make and take every opportunity I get to hear them perform. But the fact remains; they did not die before they got old.

So because Moon and Entwistle died before they got old, The Who is made up of an old Pete Townshend and an old Roger Daltrey, with Pino Palladino playing bass, taking John Entwistle’s place. Oh, and I almost forgot, playing drums, Ringo’s kid Zak Starkey.

Until next time…From The Booth.