Thursday, December 31, 2009

In the Year 2010

"In the Year 2525" is a hit song from 1969 by the duo of Zager and Evans which reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for the six weeks commencing July 12. "In the Year 2525" opens with the words "In the year 2525, If man is still alive, If woman can survive, They may find...” Following verses pick up the story at 1010-year intervals from 2525 to 6565. Disturbing predictions are given for each selected year. Tomorrow is the beginning of the year 2010. Unlike the Zager and Evans tune, I have no disturbing predictions.

Instead, I have come up with four unbelievable things occurring in the year 2010 that not even Zager and Evans could have predicted.

In the year 1992, Green Bay Packers general manager Ron Wolf traded a first-round pick to the Atlanta Falcons for quarterback Brett Favre. Favre played 16 seasons in Green Bay. During his time in Green Bay, he helped the Packers appear in two Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl XXXI. Favre also started every Green Bay Packers game from September 20, 1992, to January 20, 2008.

Unbelievable as it might seem, “In the Year 2010”, after retiring twice, then subsequently “unretiring” and considerable consternation, Favre now plays for the Packer’s arch-rival, the Minnesota Vikings. Could Zager and Evan have predicted such a betrayal back in 1992?

I think not.

In 1983, Regis Philbin, along with co-host Cyndy Garvey, starred on a local New York program called The Morning Show. In 1988, Kathie Lee Gifford joined Philbin as co-host and the show became Live with Regis and Kathie Lee and was syndicated nationally. When Gifford left the show in July 28, 2000, the show was simply known as Live with Regis and featured guest co-hosts.

As far-fetched as it might seem, “In the Year 2010”, Philbin is hosting a syndicated morning talk show called Live With Regis and Kelly. Could Zager and Evans have predicted in 1983 that the cantankerous Philbin would still be at it some twenty-eight years later with the insipid Kelly Ripa as his co-host?

I think not.

In March 1979, Steve Dahl was hired to do a morning radio show at WLUP in Chicago where he met overnight DJ Garry Meier. The team was soon billed as "Steve and Garry." The irreverent twosome enjoyed success together at both WLUP and WLS until 1993. During their reign of terror on the Chicago airwaves, they were best known for the historic Disco Demolition and their relentless ripping of the more established WGN.

As unthinkable as it might sound, “In the Year 2010”, Garry Meier is now the afternoon host at WGN, the same station that once featured Wally Phillips and Eddie Schwartz, the very men Meier once ridiculed unmercifully. Could Zager and Evans have predicted in 1979 this unlikely hiring by the Chicago 50,000 watt blowtorch?

I think not.

In February1964, the legendary English rock band The Who was formed. The group consisted of vocalist Roger Daltrey, guitarist Pete Townshend, bassist John Entwistle, and drummer Keith Moon. The Who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, their first year of eligibility.

The Who

Incredibly, “In the Year 2010”, The Who will perform at halftime of Super Bowl XLIV. Surviving members, Townshend and Daltrey, along with drummer Zak Starkey and bassist Pino Palladino, will take the stage on February 7th, exactly forty-seven years to the month later. Could Zager and Evans have predicted that the band formed in Shepherd’s Bush, London England would be entertaining at the world’s largest sporting event, being broadcast worldwide in more than 230 countries and territories?

I think not.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Again, I think not. Not when it comes to Brett Favre, Regis Philbin, Garry Meier and The Who. Happy New Year my friends. I wish you much prosperity “In the Year 2010”. Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Koos Christmas Story

On a bitter cold Saturday night, late December in 1976, the men of Koos Inc. gathered in the backroom of Mario’s Red Arrow Club on Sheridan Road in Kenosha. The reason for this get-together was a Union Christmas party. UFCW Local 73A was good enough to sponsor the much-appreciated gathering for the workforce from Koos. This night was going to be an event to be remembered. This celebration would be a first. Never before had the Union workers at Koos Inc. had an official Christmas function. Tonight that would all change.

The year before, not only was there no party, the employees had to work until 11:00 o’clock on Christmas Eve morning. Of course the beer that was smuggled into the plant made for somewhat of a cheerful atmosphere, but it still wasn’t a party. Not even the numerous pints of blackberry brandy purchased from the nearby Beer Depot could do the trick. It just wasn’t a party.

The people in management always had a nice little soiree each year, but not the guys in the Union. This year was going to be different. The guys in the plant were finally going to have a bash of their own.

And what a bash it was!

The backroom at Mario’s Red Arrow Club was dimly lit, long and narrow, with a chest-high wall at one end that separated a small kitchen from the rest of the hall. This might have been the back of a smoke filled neighborhood bar, but it was perfect for this inaugural event.

The good people from UFCW had provided the guys from Koos with enough money for the hall, food, a keg of beer and a couple of bottles of hard liquor. Several of us had even brought festive holiday deserts. What more was needed? Let the party begin!

Because we were new to this Christmas party thing, most of us had neglected to bring a date. The only females present for the event were Ziggy Gutowski’s wife and the aunt of Danny Fliess who brought her two daughters. Other than that the guest list was strictly male.

It was still going to be quite a shindig, trust me.

As the sloppy Joes warmed in the crock-pot and the hot dogs simmered in a large pot of hot water, we decided to start playing cards. While Ted Nugent blared through the speakers hung on the walls, the collection of partygoers broke into two separate games of cards, one at each end of the room.

Located at the east end was a boisterous group of Koos veterans, consisting of Danny Fliess, the legendary Arno Schubert, Jim Weber, Munk Ekern, Harry Leipzig, along with several others. They were playing poker for cash and the shots of Wild Turkey were flying.

Joining me at the other end of the hall, near the kitchen area, were Chuckie Haubrich, Chuck Huck and some of the newer employees. Rather than gamble, we had opted to play drinking games where the loser had to guzzle a beer. The card playing was sloppy, but the suds were cold.

The party was in full swing and everyone was having a high-spirited time.

That is until our group spotted a humongous can of black olives. As we were attempting to get the can open, the group from the east end informed us that they wanted some of the olives. The diminutive Chuck Huck put a handful on a paper plate and brought it over to them.

Evidently this was not good enough for them.

Several members of their contingent made their way over to our table and demanded the whole can of olives. We would have no part of that and we all grabbed a big handful and told them that they were all ours!

Seeing that we were not giving up the olives peacefully, the “east-enders” grabbed the can and made off with it and the remaining olives. We were outraged and shouted, “You want all the olives?” With that the war was on. Olives were flying from one end of the hall to the other.

Unfortunately, the olives were only the beginning. Soon cups of beer were being flung across the room. Being near the kitchen area, our group decided to “escalate” the battle. Using cooking tongs, we began plucking hot dogs from the boiling water and used them as projectiles in our efforts during this now epic battle. The frankfurters were flying!

This melee resembled a scene from any Three Stooges film. At this point it was pure chaos.

Then something happened that momentarily brought the frantic food fight to an abrupt stop. For some unknown reason, Chuckie Haubrich grabbed a big handful of raw hamburger, wadded into a lump the size of a baseball and hurled it across the hall at Arno Schubert’s oddly shaped head.

Before I go on, for those of you who don’t know Chuckie Haubrich, he possessed an extremely strong arm. The man could throw a ping-pong ball through a brick wall.

Now back to the story.

Splat!!!! The sphere of uncooked ground beef had found its’ target – the right side of Arno’s face. Chuckie Haubrich would have made Nolan Ryan proud with that toss.

Seeing what happened, we started chuckling as Arno staggered and tried to regain his bearings. It didn’t take long before everyone in the room was roaring with laughter. Well, everyone except for Arno.

With the glob of meat still stuck on his face, he picked up a pan up of orange Jell-O covered with whipped cream. Fuming, with the desert held at shoulder height, he unsteadily made his way over to our end of the room.

As he got closer, he spat out, “You think it’s funny?” Everyone continued to snicker, wondering if he would actually retaliate against Chuckie Haubrich. After all, he was the one who had tattooed him with the beefy missile. When he finally reached our cluster, Arno walked right by the 6’4” 250 pound Haubrich.

Instead, he turned to the 5’7” 150 pound Chuck Huck and hissed yet again, “You think it’s funny?” You could have heard a pin drop.

Huck stared the irate German right in the eye and blurted out, “Hell ya it’s funny!”

You guessed it. Chuck Huck was now wearing the pan of orange Jell-O and whipped cream all over his head. Needless to say, the war was on again. Only, now cakes and various other creamy delights had been added to the arsenal.

When all was said and done, the backroom of Mario’s Red Arrow Club was declared a disaster area. Food was not only on the walls and floor, but on the ceiling as well. As we scraped our holiday meal off of our clothes, the manager of Mario’s kindly asked us to leave. Okay, it wasn’t so kindly.

And the Union didn’t get the deposit back for the hall. And there was never another UFCW sponsored Christmas party. That Christmas party was the first and last for the Union guys at Koos. It was the only Christmas Party. Ever.

And what a bash it was!

May you all have a Happy Holiday season and a very Merry and Blessed Christmas. Until next time…from the booth.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Reality Show Comes To An End

Back in May I wrote a blog summing up Survivor Tocantins titled “Survivor Reflections”. I described the finale of season eighteen as being “satisfying because JT, the guy I was pulling for won and he was a respectable family-orientated guy to boot.” I also said last year’s finale was “less than thrilling was because the final four contestants were all down-to-earth, decent people. There was no “villain” to root against.” Well, last night’s finale for Survivor Samoa was the polar opposite. Not only was it completely dissimilar, but also it marked the end of the reality show Survivor.

Despite Variety naming producer Mark Burnett’s durable program the most influential program of the soon-to-be-concluded decade, it’s reign as a reality show has come to an end after nineteen wonderful successful seasons.

Please let me explain.

Don’t panic Fellow Survivor Geeks, season twenty, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, will debut 52 days from today. However, when Survivor airs February 11th it will no longer be a reality show. It can’t be. Not after Jaison made the following statement at last night’s reunion show:

“This game (Survivor) is a lot like real life.”

Huh? Okay, Jaison did wear his “smart girl glasses” at Jury Council, and he is an aspiring attorney. It could even be that he is bitter because Hall of Famer Russell burned your socks for a second time, this time on the reunion show no less. But counselor, what did you just say.

The first word in reality is real. I don’t know about you, but my life is real and no part of it resembles the game of Survivor. I have never had my socks burned. Never have I dined on Sea Noodles and Slug Guts Parmesan. And regretfully, my life doesn’t include having beautiful beach nymphs, clad only in bandanas, cuddling up to me for warmth at night.

Oh yes, and there isn’t a $1,000,000 prize waiting for me. Not even a $100,000 check from Sprint for being the “Fan Favorite”. That my friends, is NOT reality.

Therefore, with that being said, it is official; Survivor is no longer a reality show.

I didn’t need an emotional speech from a teary-eyed Erik make me aware of this fact. Real life is one thing that Survivor is not. That is why I watch it. That is why I have a such passion for it. That is why I will be tuned in on February 11th for its twentieth season.

Enough pontificating on my part. Time for some random observations.

Shambo is Shambo, a loveable knucklehead…Dave Ball still reminds me of Mick Fleetwood…If the T-shirts that Brett was wearing are the ones that he designs professionally, maybe he is the one who needed to win the million bucks…Another thing about Brett, what was he talking about at Jury Council? I didn’t quite get it…Laura is an arrogant, snotty bitch that makes me vomit in my mouth…Monica’s Botox-inflated lips made her exaggerated facial gestures even more nauseating…

Was it just me, or did everyone look like they were ready to cry? A lot of watery eyes. Maybe it’s the HD…Am I the only one that has the image of Natalie hanging her lacy panties up to dry permanently etched into their brain? I bet not…Did this season have more petulant crybabies than usual? Everyone thought they got screwed…I let out a cheer when Hall of Famer Russell won $100,000 for being the Sprint Fan Favorite.

Oh, I almost forgot, Natalie outwitted, outplayed and outlasted to the tune of $1,000,000.

That’s it for Survivor Samoa. I can’t wait for Heroes vs. Villains. But remember, it’s not reality! Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to everyone. Make sure that you check back on Christmas Eve for my gift to you. Here’s a hint - it has Arno in it! Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Tonight’s blog is written with a somewhat heavy heart. My heart is heavy for a couple of reasons. For one it’s in my body, so it has to be heavy. But seriously, the reasons I am a bit downcast after tonight’s chapter of Survivor Samoa are twofold. The first is fairly obvious; it’s the last Thursday episode of what has been an outstanding season. The other reason is that tonight we bid adieu to the magnificently mulleted one, Shambo Waters. And she left in true Shambo fashion.

Although the ex-marine from Washington had started to annoy me in the past few weeks, I will dearly miss her. Tonight I was reminded why she had become so iconic.

The first moment was when the show opened with emerging superstar Brett rubbing that glorious mane of hers in the glow of the Samoan moon. That was a very subtle hint that tonight was going to be all about Shambo and her splendid ‘do.

When Emmy award-winner Jeff Probst asked her at the Reward Challenge what she called her hairstyle, she playfully tossed those stunning tresses, smiled and said, “Shambolicious.”

We then learned she had been sporting mullet-zilla since 1986!

It was at that point that I was fully aware that this Harley-riding woman from the bad streets of Renton, Washington was going to be a focal point in this next to last episode of the nineteenth season.

Random Shambo Highlights:

• Referring to Natalie as “You lucky little bitch” in the Reward Challenge.

• At the Reward feast, while ripping the skin off of a roasted pig, she mutters, “Right there baby. My favorite part.”

• After toasting the people of Samoa at the feast, she gets jiggy with it, much to the delight of the locals, as well as Hall of Famer Russell and Jaison.

• Later she declares, “That being a grown-up is just so overrated.”

• At Tribal Council, she gleefully admits, in front of a jury made up of her former Galu tribe mates, that she is proud of the fact that she is a traitor.

Unfortunately, it was at that same Tribal Council when Probst uttered that fateful phrase, “the tribe has spoken” to tonight’s star. When she realized that her time had come, she hugged Brett, had her torch extinguished and graciously wished everyone good luck.

What a classy move by the mulleted one.

But she wasn’t through. During the closing credits, smiling straight at the camera she commended the Fao Fao Four for being loyal to each other and voting her off! She said they were “awesome”.

On Sunday night the sole Survivor will be announced and will be awarded one million dollars. And I am pulling for Hall of Famer Russell to be that person. But tonight belonged to Sharon “Shambo” Waters and that Shambolicious mullet. Well done Shambo.

Until next time…from the booth.

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Americanization Of Britain

In 1964 the film “The Americanization of Emily” was released. “Emily” starred James Garner and Julie Andrews. Set in London, in 1944, the film is based on a novel by William Bradford Huie, a former naval officer and aide to an Admiral during World War II. In 2005 I joined Pogo, a gaming website that offers a variety of casual games, ranging from card and board games to puzzle, sports, and word games. While playing, you are able to “chat” with people from all over the world. That is where I met a lovely lady from the U.K. named Bev.

That is when I first embarked upon my Americanization of Britain.

And it hasn’t been a small undertaking. Not by any stretch of the imagination. This ambitious endeavor not only includes the Americanization of Bev. Nope, it has branched to the rest of her family and a couple of friends.

No big deal you say? Well, Bev’s family is nothing to sneeze at. Her parents, Alfie and Elsie, obviously had a favorite hobby. The results of their hobby were Sue, Margaret, Hazel, Christine, Carol, Beryl, Donald, Barry, Keith, David and Debbie. In that order.

Where is Bev you ask? Bev’s given name is Beryl, sibling number six of eleven. She might be the middle child, but she compensates for it with an abundance of nicknames. She is also Doris. And Bell. And B. And Coops. You get the picture.

Over the years Bev and I have become dear friends. I have gotten to know a lot of her family and have no less than ten of them as facebook “friends.”

The language barrier was the first bridge to cross. In England, football is soccer and soccer is also soccer. In America, football is football and soccer is soccer. We still struggle with that one.

Then there are chips and crisps. Okay, pay attention. The British call French fries, chips. They call potato chips, crisps. I am having more success Americanizing Bev’s family in this regard.

This was made obvious one night when Bev’s daughter Louise asked her if she could speak to me on Skype. Bev said sure. Louise sat down in front of the computer, said hi and told me that she had just been to McDonald’s. I asked her what she had.

Her reply made me grin.

With a big smile the young Brit said she had a burger and a milk shake. She then paused, and proudly added, “And French Fries!”

My hard work was beginning to pay off.

Other inroads in my effort to Americanize include providing Bev’s husband, an electrician, with an American-style nickname of his very own. He is now commonly referred to as “Sparky”.

Bev’s enchanting eldest sister Sue has become a regular reader of this very blog, leaving comments on a consistent basis. She is a big fan of my tales of Koos, especially when they involve the legendary Arno.

I have also introduced the Brits to my favorite sport teams, the Green Bay Packers and the Milwaukee Brewers. Bev loves it when I email videos to her of Brewer home runs at Miller Park, so she can see Bernie Brewer descend down his slide.

Bev’s charming sister Debbie is another member of her family that I have become good friends with. Here my attempts at Americanization are aimed mostly at Debbie and husband Scott’s rambunctious son, Jake.

Jake loves sports. On weekends he plays football (soccer) one day and rugby on the other. If that wasn’t enough, he takes swimming classes on both days. Oh ya, during the week he takes Judo lessons after school. With this daunting schedule, it’s amazing that Debbie has any time for games on Pogo.

Now back to the Americanization of young Jake. This past Saturday, Bev had a family get-together at her house. The function served two purposes. Not only was it a Christmas party but it also celebrated Jake’s eighth birthday. He was born on Christmas Eve, so in her infinite wisdom, Bev decided to combine both of the events at one time.

Bev had graciously extended an invitation to me, but unfortunately my schedule prevented me from attending the festive bash. Not wanting to be rude, I did however mail a present to the guest of honor.

If the pictures below are any indication, it looks as if he enjoyed the gift that I had sent to him. Quite American, don’t you think? It goes without saying that Jake is clearly the coolest kid in England.

A British Packer Backer

Prince Has a Fan "Across the Pond"

My efforts to Americanize Britain aren’t finished, not by a long shot. I think my next venture will be to have them consolidate all the different things for which they use the word “piss”. Don’t even ask. Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tis The Season…Again!

The holiday season is here once again with Christmas just around the corner. Last year at this time I wrote about the onslaught of holiday programming that hits our televisions during this time. Tonight, the classic “It's A Wonderful Life” is airing on NBC and beginning on Christmas Eve, TBS will run its annual 24-hour marathon of “A Christmas Story”. All the other Yuletide movies are there for your viewing pleasure as well. My personal favorite is the underrated “We’re No Angels” starring Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray and Peter Ustinov.

That’s just the movies; there are still the TV programs to be considered.

Being more of a television-guy than a movie-guy, I have seen my share of Christmas-themed episodes on the tube. TV Land has a marathon starting tomorrow at 5:00 am. It kicks off with Roseanne and concludes at midnight with 3rd Rock.

Sandwiched in between are multiple installments of Three’s Company, The Brady Bunch, Good Times, Sanford And Son, All In The Family, Married With Children and The Beverley Hillbillies. There is even a 2-hour chunk of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition for you Ty Pennington fans.

Over nineteen hours of holiday sitcom programs that aren’t really among my favorites. I preferred it when shows like The Bob Newhart Show, Cheers, Becker and The Dick Van Dyke Show went all merry and mirthful. You could even give me Frank Costanza celebrating Festivus with the gang on Seinfeld.

The TV Land marathon would be much improved if they mixed in some of these programs. Sanford And Son? Come on.

My biggest disappointment with the marathon’s lineup is the fact that it does not include the Andy Griffith episode entitled "The Christmas Story". Mayberry’s version of Ebenezer Scrooge will surely warm the cockles of your heart. I know each time I watch it my cockles get toasty.

Here is a quick synopsis:

On Christmas Eve, ornery department store owner Ben Weaver insists that Andy lock up moonshiner Sam Muggins. Weaver has brought along a jug of moonshine as evidence of Sam's wrongdoing.

In order to keep Weaver off his back and still have the party they had planned, Andy arrests Sam's wife and children as "accessories before, during, and after the fact", and deputizes Ellie, Opie, and Aunt Bee to help watch the prisoners.

With the Muggins family in jail, Andy, Barney and their deputies prepare a feast with all the trimmings for the family and decorate a Christmas tree. Everyone is having a good time except Ben.

Peeping through the jailhouse window, Weaver is touched when he sees everyone having a good time. Touched with the Christmas spirit, the crotchety store owner tries to get himself arrested in order to join the fun.

After several failed attempts, Andy finally arrests Weaver, after he dumps a garbage can in the alley. Together, the men appear at the door of the jail with a suitcase full of gaily-wrapped gifts from Weaver's store. Weaver is welcomed and regaled with food and drink. He falls asleep in one of the jail cells after finishing the jug of Sam's moonshine.

TV Land will be airing this all-time favorite of mine, but not until Christmas Eve at 7:30 pm and on Christmas Day at 10:00 am. Maybe there is something to be said for anticipation making the reward even greater.

During this festive season, I hope that you all have the opportunity to view your favorite holiday programming. Whether it’s a movie or a TV sitcom, take a break from all the shopping, wrapping and partying and do yourself a favor and make time to enjoy it.

Happy holidays! And don’t forget to catch Andy Griffith’s version of “The Christmas Story” and see Barney Fife dressed as Santa Claus. Until next time…ho, ho, ho from the booth.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

And Then There Were Six

Tonight’s episode of Survivor Samoa marked the next to last Thursday night of season 19 of the award-winning CBS reality show. All that remains is next Thursday’s program and the finale show on Sunday December 20th. Oh yes, and immediately following the finale, the reunion show where we learn which of the remaining six takes home $1,000,000 by having outwitted, outplayed and outlasted the others.

That’s right, only six of the original twenty have endured this odyssey that started back on September 17th.

To get the magic number down to six there were two Immunity Challenges this evening with each one followed by a Tribal Council, thereby extinguishing the torches of two more hopefuls.

I had mixed feelings about the people sent home tonight. I was glad that the petulant Monica got her walking papers. Although she is easy on the eyes, she makes me vomit in my mouth each time she speaks. Good riddance.

On the other hand, I was starting to dig Dave Ball. Am I the only one that noticed that Jeff Probst always called him Dave Ball? He never called any of the others by both names. Wonder what that was about? Hmm…

So that leaves us with only two left from Galu - Brett and Shambo. Added to the four contenders from Foa Foa - Jaison, Natalie, McDreamy and Hall of Famer Russell, and you have the final six.

My pre-blog phone call to Fellow Survivor Geek Auntie Janet proved to be very enlightening. If I liked someone, she couldn’t stand him or her. And conversely, the competitors that she was pulling for were the ones I didn’t care for. I guess that’s the beauty of Survivor.

With that being said, I would like to offer my evaluation of the final Samoan six. I have placed them in the order that I would like to see them finish. Sorry FSG Auntie Janet.

1. Hall of Famer Russell. With the HUGE target on his back, it will be tough for him to win it all. The man is outstanding. Say what you will about him, he has made this season a memorable one.

2. Natalie. This young lady has played a marvelous game and has proven to be a fierce competitor in some of the challenges. Her spot at number two was solidified when they showed her hanging her lacy gold panties out to dry on the tree branch.

3. Jaison. He has been coming on strong as of late. Plus, as an added bonus, the longer he sticks around, the longer I get to type his misspelled name. His name greatly pisses off Non-Survivor Geek Pat.

4. McDreamy. He too has become more of a force in the challenges. It will be interesting to see how he and Jaison handle the Hall of Famer as the game progresses in its final days.

5. Brett. This evening, the non-descript one finally started talking and by doing so, has become a major player that must be reckoned with. By winning the second Immunity Challenge tonight he made everyone take notice.

6. Shambo. Sorry FSG Jamie, but the magnificently mulletted one has started to annoy me immensely. I know that you are pulling for this ex-marine, Harley riding broad, but the woman is delusional! She has to go.

There you have it, my take on the final six. I would be very interested to hear your opinion as well. I already know how FSG Auntie Janet feels.

I would like to leave you with the quote of the evening. Before becoming the thirteenth person asked to leave Samoa, Dave Ball was lamenting the fact that it would take a miracle for him not to be voted off. But he then reasoned that miracles do indeed happen, “Because the Lord frickin’ provides.” Nice.

Until next time…from the booth.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Good-bye My Old Friend

On Friday December 4, the television series Monk, which premiered on July 12, 2002, came to an end after eight entertaining seasons. With a tear in my eye, I said good-bye to my old friend, Adrian Monk as the final montage was shown. Evidently, I was not alone in wishing Mr. Monk a fond farewell. The series finale drew a record 9.44 million viewers. Prior to Friday night’s finale, Monk had never drawn more than 7 million total viewers. The wrap beat the previous high-water mark by 37 percent.

Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data shows the series finale of Monk now stands as the most-watched episode of an original cable series, edging past TNT’s The Closer, which drew 9.21 million viewers.

For those of you not familiar with Monk, here is a brief history.

Adrian Monk was a brilliant detective for the San Francisco Police Department until his wife, Trudy, was killed by a car bomb in a parking garage. Monk believed the bomb was intended for him.

Trudy's death led Monk to suffer a nervous breakdown. He was discharged from the force and became a recluse, refusing to leave his house. He was finally able to leave home with the help of his nurse, Sharona Fleming. This allowed him to work as a private detective and a consultant for the SF PD despite his phobias embedded in his obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), which had grown appreciably worse after the tragedy.

Typically, Captain Leland Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Randy Disher would call on Monk when they had trouble with a murder investigation. Monk's obsessive attention to detail allowed him to detect the most minute discrepancies, discover tendencies, and make connections that others would fail to make.

Other regulars were Natalie Teeger who was hired as Monk's new assistant, when Sharona decided to re-marry her ex-husband and move back to New Jersey. Teeger, a widow, was the mother of daughter Julie. Monk had a brother Ambrose, and a half-brother, Jack, Jr.

It should be noted that, in my humble opinion, the show lost something when the feisty Sharona moved on after season three. Much to my delight, she did appear in an episode in this last season.

Adrian Monk also went through two psychiatrists during the run of the show. Dr. Charles Kroger counseled the detective the first six seasons before giving way to Dr. Neven Bell during the final two.

The one case that Monk never had been able to solve was the death of his wife. Throughout the series, he continued to search for information about her death. Finally, he solved it in the series finale.

With this case closed, the series came to a close.

I was happy to see the obsessive-compulsive detective finally find closure with the tragic death of his beloved Trudy. It made me even happier to see him have joy in his life again when he was reunited with Molly, his 26-year-old stepdaughter, a newspaper movie critic.

Good-bye my old friend, I am going to miss you. Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sickness Will Surely Take The Mind…

Back in 1968 when Pete Townshend and The Who wrote the rock opera Tommy, I doubt that they had ever imagined a television show called Survivor. And I guarantee they never envisioned a mullet-coiffed, 45-year-old ex-marine named Shambo. But somehow, some way, when they penned the song “Amazing Journey”, it was for Shannon “Shambo” Waters from Renton, Washington. You don’t believe me? Check out these lyrics:

Sickness will surely take the mind

Where minds can't usually go.

Come on the amazing journey

And learn all you should know.

Okay, granted she hasn’t learned a whole lot to date, but that mind is definitely going places that minds don’t usually go. And she has been on one hell of an amazing journey!

Perhaps Shambo got by the first 27 days being the loveable loser with the magnificent mullet. She was the proverbial square peg in a round hole. However, after tonight’s episode of Survivor Samoa, the girl is just certifiably crazy.

Either that, or she is tripping.

Yes, that must be it; she’s tripping on some sort of mind-altering, surreal trip just on the outskirts of reality. That would explain her constant irrational behavior. Or the incessant deer-in-the-headlights look she possesses.

And I know just what induced this bizarre journey she has embarked upon.

It was the $240 plate of Sea Noodles and Slug Guts that she won at the Survivor Food Auction held at the beginning of the show. Obviously, when you ingest this concoction, when topped with an ample sprinkling of parmesan cheese, your mind goes “where minds can’t usually go”.

This has to be the explanation for her unorthodox behavior and her inability to deal with reality. It has to be! No one else ate this putrid combination. The others fared much better at the auction.

The scrumptious Natalie had a $200 peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Monica enjoyed a $340 roasted chicken and McDreamy noshed on a huge cheeseburger and fries that cost him $500. Even John’s $300 slice of apple pie was a much better reward.

Yes, Shambo’s entrĂ©e has to be the culprit. What else could have caused the clairvoyant dream where God told her that Dave must be the next to go at Tribal Council? That dream sequence even blew my mind.

It had to be the Sea Noodles and Slug Guts Parmesan.

Although she did say she had that type of dream 30 times previously. And there is that humongous mullet. And she talked to those stupid chickens before she ate that mind-expanding meal.

Whether it was a psychedelic meal or just being nutty as a fruitcake, Shambo made Jeff Probst shake his head and question her sanity at Tribal Council. After seeing Shambo do a double take when Russell, the Hall of Famer said that today was “completely strategic”, Probst’s eyes bugged out and asked incredulously, “How is it possible that you are shocked to learn that people are scrambling to stay in the game?”

Shambo mumbled something about wanting someone who deserved the million dollars to win. The rest of the sane people at Tribal Council just shook their heads in disbelief. She had no clue.

This was made even more evident when her face twisted in astonishment when John was the one voted out. Jury member Laura summed it up when she whispered, “She has no idea what happened.” She was spot on. Shambo was the only person, besides John himself, not to cast their vote for John.

The girl just doesn’t get it. But The Who certainly did. Sickness will surely take the mind where minds can't usually go. Until next time…from the booth.