Friday, October 29, 2010

Very Special Visitors

This afternoon I was fortunate enough to be paid a visit by two celebrities. Straight from the 1995 box office hit Toy Story, Woody and Buzz Lightyear were kind enough to stop by. They were on the way to a Halloween event at the Milwaukee Zoo when they decided to stop in Kenosha. Don’t believe me? Check out these photos.

Woody and Buzz

Buzz, Up Close and Personal

Woody, Being Very Introspective

See, they were really here! After a snack of Halloween cookies on a stick and juice boxes, they were back on the road. Don’t worry; they took a couple of boxes of Dots for the trip north. This will always be a special Halloween for me. Man, Woody and Buzz…

Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Finally…Someone To Hate!

As most regular readers of this blog know, I love sports. One of the things that I like about sports is having a player or a team to pull for, something to root for. Among the individuals that I pull for are Prince Fielder, Clay Matthews and Maria Sharapova. The teams that I root for are the Milwaukee Brewers and the Green Bay Packers. When I am watching a Brewer or Packer game, I always have a rooting interest. I cheer for them and against whomever they are playing. It’s easy. But what happens when I am watching a sporting event that doesn’t involve one of my favorites? That’s just easy.

I root against the team or person that I hate.

In baseball that would be the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees. In football it’s the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears. In tennis it’s the Williams sisters. You get the point. The Vikings could be playing the Nazis and I would be pulling for Adolph’s boys.

Sometimes it is just as fun to root against someone that you can’t stand, as it is to pull for a favorite. That’s what why Survivor: Nicaragua has finally become enjoyable – I have someone to hate!

After tonight’s episode of the award-winning reality show, I finally have someone to hate and I’m loving it! At long last I am back to looking forward to Wednesday nights. (Although it should be Thursday nights.)

In last week’s Survivor Blog I listed Yve, Kelly B. and Dr. Jill as “The Halfway Decent Folks”. Well, they have all been sent home.

Yve and Kelly B. were voted out last week and the two scoundrels that I now officially hate – Sash and Brenda, eliminated Dr. Jill tonight.

I know, I know, I can hear Sue all the way from Britain reminding me that Brenda was one of my early favorites. That was based purely on looks. It was before I knew that she was an arrogant and manipulative little bitch. Now I abhor her.

The reason for my loathing of Sash (besides his name) is that he is an arrogant and manipulative little bitch. Hey, what a coincidence!

To see the smug duo gloating about how hard they had the “old people” working started my contempt building. When Sash said he really didn’t care what they did as long as they voted the way he told them to, that was it! The deal was sealed – I had someone to officially hate!

Tonight’s Highlights:

• Chase getting hit in the “lunch box” with a ball during the Reward Challenge. Don’t worry, Sue, I think he will be okay.

• During that same Reward Challenge, Fabio pauses to relieve himself in the pool. Everyone was quite disgusted when he admitted what he was doing.

• Danny not even being able to jump into the water when he threw the ball. The man is useless.

• Nasty Nay at the Reward attempting to milk a cow on the Nicaraguan farm was entertaining. She was quite pleased that she touched a cow’s “nipple”.

• Jane, forced to be the fisherman of the La Flor tribe, catches two big catfish. She keeps one for the tribe but sneaks into the woods and eats the other one herself. The old girl makes me laugh.

• Host Jeff Probst and the dimwitted Fabio discussing the merits of Freudian psychology at Tribal Council. This came about after Sash made a glaring Freudian slip under Probst’s interrogation.

All in all, it was a very good show. Coming attractions hint that there will be a merge next week. That means Nasty Nay will be reunited with scumbags Sash and Brenda. More people to hate!

The best part is that sooner or later the good-for-nothing scoundrels will turn on each other and begin backstabbing one another. Sort of like when the Cubs play the Cardinals or when the Vikings take on the Bears. Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Did You Know…

Tonight’s blog will attempt to enlighten you with a few things that you might not have known before.

Many of the older readers of this blog will remember the 1960s ABC hit western series, The Rifleman. It starred Chuck Connors who portrayed Lucas McCain as a rancher and widowed father with a penchant for using his Winchester firearm, but only as a last resort.

During the course of his four-decade acting career, Connors was best known for his roles in films of the 1950s, which included his performance as Burn Sanderson in Old Yeller, opposite Dorothy McGuire. Did you know he was also a professional basketball and baseball player?

Connors played basketball for the Boston Celtics and baseball for both the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs. He was even drafted by the Chicago Bears of the NFL, but never suited-up for the team.

* * * * *

On December 11, 1968 a film was made by the Rolling Stones of an event called the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus. Did you know that the film, which was released in 1996, was initially intended to be aired on the BBC? The event included two concerts on a circus stage and featured such acts as The Who, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithfull, and Jethro Tull. John Lennon and his fiancée Yoko Ono performed as part of a supergroup called The Dirty Mac, along with Eric Clapton, Mitch Mitchell, and Keith Richards.

It was not aired on the BBC as originally planned because the Stones withheld it, saying they were unhappy with their performance. Many others believe that the actual reason for not releasing the video was that The Who, who were fresh off a concert tour, upstaged the Stones on their own production. The Stones had not toured recently, and were not in top playing condition, as The Who were.

* * * * *

It’s fairly well known that the New York Yankees’ payroll of over $208,000,000 is the highest in the major leagues. Did you know that the combined salary of their starting infielder is higher than the entire payroll of sixteen teams?

The $85,225,000 that Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter make is more than the total payrolls of the Atlanta Braves, Colorado Rockies, Baltimore Orioles, Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals, Tampa Rays, Toronto Rays, Washington Nationals, Cleveland Indians, Arizona Diamondbacks, Florida Marlins, Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres and Pittsburgh Pirates.

* * * * *

Leave It to Beaver debuted on CBS Friday October 4, 1957 with the episode third in production order, “Beaver Gets ’Spelled.” Did you know that the intended premiere, “Captain Jack”, aired the week following the premiere because it displayed a toilet tank? The display of a toilet didn't pass the censor's office in time for the show's scheduled debut.

Because Wally and the Beaver were raising a pet alligator in the tank of their bathroom toilet, “Captain Jack” has claimed its place in television history as the first American TV show to display a toilet tank.

* * * * *

John Wooden, the iconic basketball coach of the UCLA Bruins, passed away on June 4, 2010. He was born on October 14, 1910. Did you know that the last time the Chicago Cubs won the World Series was October 14, 1908? Had Mr. Wooden made it to his 100th birthday, he could have also celebrated the 102nd consecutive year that the Cubs have not won a World Series.

* * * * *

Jim McMahon played quarterback for the Chicago Bears from 1982 to 1988 and lead them to a Super Bowl Championship in 1985. Did you know that he played for five different NFL teams in the eight seasons he played after leaving the Bears?

McMahon played for the San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, and Arizona Cardinals before finishing his career with the Green Bay Packers. In 1996, his last year with the Pack, the “Punky QB” added a second Super Bowl Championship ring to his collection.

* * * * *

On January 18, 1952, Jerome Horwitz passed on after suffering from a massive cerebral hemorrhage. On November 22, 1955, Samuel Horwitz died of a massive heart attack. Louis Feinberg suffered several strokes before his death on January 24, 1975. Moses Horwitz died of lung cancer on May 4, 1975.

You are probably wondering why I am listing the dates and details of the deaths of these distinguished gentlemen of Jewish descent. Did you know that they made up one of the greatest comedy teams ever?

Moses Horwitz, Louis Feinberg, Jerome Horwitz and Samuel Horwitz were better known as Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard and Shemp Howard – the legendary Three Stooges. May they all rest in peace.

* * * * *

And finally, did you know that I am something of a Renaissance Man? I never thought about it before, but I must be. By now you all know that I have authored a book, “Some Kenosha Softball”. I am in the process of writing its sequel. But I have done more than write.

When I was younger I enjoyed art in general and drawing in particular. In eighth grade I won an award for a painting of Chicago Blackhawk goaltender Tony Esposito. I proudly had my picture taken for the local newspaper on the steps of the Kenosha museum.

The following year at Lance Jr. High, I garnered the Kiwanis choral achievement award for the top male voice. Carol Mickewicz, the female award winner, and I were honored in an afternoon ceremony at Bradford High School.

One year later I was the second string right tackle for Tremper High School’s sophomore football team. Wait, okay, maybe I’m not a Renaissance Man. At least I was able to let you know a few things that you might not have known before. Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I’m So Confused

I had high expectations for tonight’s episode of Survivor: Nicaragua. All week long I saw advertisements that there was going to be not one, but two Tribal Councils. On top of that, there would be Individual Immunity up for grabs. That sounded promising didn’t it? I was anticipating some extraordinary Survivor action. Well, approximately 12 minutes into the show, with the Immunity Challenge action complete, it seemed like any hope of anything exceptional happening were nonexistent. Then a bunch of “stuff” happened and I was very satisfied. I’m just not quite sure what happened. I’m so confused.

Let’s see if I can figure this thing out.

Here is what I do know; it’s hard to find someone to root for this season. While watching tonight I put the competitors into the following categories:

The Good-for-Nothing Dirtballs

The Brainless Morons

The Halfway Decent Folks
Dr. Jill
Kelly B.

I couldn’t quite determine which category to put Sash and Purple Kelly into, but I am pretty certain I that I can’t root for people with names like that.

Regular readers of this blog might be surprised that I put the lovely Brenda into the Dirtball group. After tonight, I had to. Even though she’s a lot better looking, she is getting just as cocky and arrogant as Marty.

Another thing that I know is that Nay is both nefarious and not very bright. A lethal combination.

Not having anyone to root for, you can understand why I thought tonight had the potential to turn into a snoozer after Dr. Jill and Holly had won the Individual Immunity Challenges. All there was to look forward to were the two Tribal Councils.

Prior to the Tribal Councils there was the usual plotting and backstabbing, but it was nothing special. La Flor had targeted Marty and Kelly B., while Espada planned on taking out Yve or Dan.

Maybe it was at Tribal Council that something magical happened to make tonight’s episode come close to meeting the lofty expectations I had set forth.

Yes, now that I think of it, that is definitely where it happened! And it was because of one man – Jeff Probst.

After playing host to Survivor for over 20 seasons, Probst knows who to target at Tribal Council and what burning issues to get stirred up. The questions he asks would make the late Johnny Carson proud. He made Tribal Council special tonight.

While I have figured out why tonight’s Survivor put me on such an emotional rollercoaster, I am still a bit confused.

Kelly B. and Yve, two of the Halfway Decent Folks, were eliminated. All this did was insure us that we wouldn’t see the psychotic Nay beat Kelly B. with her own prosthetic leg.

There are now two less respectable people to root for. The fools on Espada keep on voting off people because they are a threat, not caring how it decimates their tribe.

The moronic Fabio believes Marty’s story about being a grand master chess champion and therefore thinks he is “really smart”. If that wasn’t bad enough, beefcake Chase declared, “The only one I trust is Nay.” Huh?

Now can you see why I’m so confused? Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

How Many Friends

Last night I was digging the Who. I had just finished watching Hell’s Kitchen which I had recorded from Wednesday evening and decided to see what was happening on facebook. When I checked my notifications I discovered that my friend Jamie had posted something on my wall. All she wrote was “Slip Kid”. That’s all I needed. The rest of the evening was spent listening to the Who, posting Who YouTube videos and sending messages with Who lyrics. It had become a facebook “music night”.

Digging around Wikipedia and YouTube I came to the realization that the album, “The Who By Numbers” was one of the Who’s more under-appreciated efforts. Look at this track list:

1. Slip Kid

2. However Much I Booze

3. Squeeze Box

4. Dreaming From The Waist

5. Imagine A Man

6. Success Story

7. They Are All In Love

8. Blue, Red And Grey

9. How Many Friends

10. In A Hand Or A Face

Although these songs are all wonderful, my favorites are “They Are All In Love”, “Blue, Red And Grey” and “How Many Friends”. I guess I like these tunes because they make me think.

An old friend of mine at Koos Inc. once told me that I liked “brain music”. I believe that he was trying to be sarcastic; he often was. I, however, took it as a compliment.

Of the three favorites, “How Many Friends” is the one that I enjoy the most, because it makes me think the most. Although all of the lyrics are thought provoking, the chorus provides the most intriguing questions.
How many friends have I really got?
Well, you can count 'em on the one hand.

How many friends have I really got?

How many friends have I really got?

That love me, that want me, that'll take me as I am?
See what I mean?

Here is the YouTube video of the song I hope that it works, it’s my first attempt at posting a video on my blog. Dig the Who.

Hopefully it worked for you so that you were able to enjoy the song. If it did work, I hope that it makes you think about your friends and how important they are.

I thought it was very interesting that while I was writing this blog, my longtime friend Jimmy called to catch up on things. How’s that for karma?

Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Survivor Is Baaaack!

Last week I had Survivor: Nicaragua on its last leg. It had become mundane and predictable. Most of the competitors were proving to be stupid. Plus, once again there was only one challenge, combining Reward and Immunity. Well, all of that changed tonight; except for the part of most of them being stupid. There were twists and two separate challenges. Survivor Is Baaaack!

Day twelve started with Old Fart Marty declaring himself the king of Survivor. He went so far as to say that unless something “out of this world” happens he has everything under control for the perceivable future.

Meanwhile, Young Snot Nay was doing the same at her camp, feeling very good about herself. She proclaimed that her alliance controlled the game of Survivor; that nothing could stop them.

You stupid idiots! (said in my best Ren voice)

Five minutes into the show Jeff Probst had the tribes on the beach for a Reward Challenge. Marty and Nay were feeling pretty cocky when Probst unexpectedly announced, “Drop your buffs.” The Tribes were being realigned!

Nay’s mouth fell open in amazement as she relinquished her buff. Along with his buff, Marty dropped something else into his depends.

Because of the realignment, I will have to go back to calling the tribes by their given names, La Flor and Espada. Here is what the tribes look like after the shakeup:

La Flor
Brenda (young)
Jane (old)
Jill (old)
Marty (old)
Sash (young)
Fabio (young)
Kelly B. (young)
Kelly S. (young)

Holly (old)
Alina (young)
Chase (young)
Nay (young)
Dan (old)
Yve (old)
Tyrone (old)
Benry (young)

Fittingly, Marty blows the Reward Challenge for his new tribe and Espada wins a chicken coop complete with three chickens.

As the members of the newly formed tribes got to know each other, we learned several things:

• Nay isn’t as much of a bad ass as she would like people to believe.

• Marty is an arrogant jackass no matter what tribe he is on.

• Fabio knows he isn’t bright, telling Marty, “We’re young, we don’t know much.”

• Alina thinks that Nay acts like a high school girl who’s always on her period.

• Young people don’t like to be told what to do, even when it makes sense.

The Immunity Challenge was pretty cool. Three ladies from each tribe were strapped upside down to a giant. Three other members of their respective tribes spun the giant wheel so they were momentarily submerged in some dirty pond water.

When submerged they had a take a big gulp of the filthy water and spit it into a bowl as they were spun to the top. When enough of the foul water was accumulated a ball was released that was used to break tiles. I told you it was cool.

La Flor emerged victorious in a real nail-biter and Espada is forced to eliminate another one of it’s own. I guess that’s another thing that hasn’t changed.

At Tribal Council Espada proves that they can be stupid even with young people on their tribe. Rather than voting off Nay the phony Angry Black Woman or gimpy Danny the Paulie Walnuts wannabe, they send the athletic Tyrone packing.

Survivor: Nicaragua staged a strong comeback this week. There was a major shakeup and we got to enjoy two quality challenges. We still have way too many unintelligent people, but what can you do. Survivor Is Baaaack! (at least for the time being)

Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Enough Is Enough!

Cruising the radio dial this afternoon I discovered that the Chicago Blackhawk pregame show on WGN radio began at 4:00 pm. Not bad for a 7:30 pm puck drop! I know, I know – the ‘Hawks won the Stanley Cup last year, but get over it already! How many times can David Kaplan report that Patrick Sharp has an “upper body” injury and won’t be playing? Give me a break! I am overdosing on sports coverage. I love sports as much as the next guy; probably more, but enough is enough!

Don’t think for a minute that I am singling out the ‘Hawks and WGN, because I’m not. You can toss the National Football League, the NCCA and Major League Baseball in there with the National Hockey League. I have had it with all pre and post game shows and excessive, unnecessary coverage.

Am I leaving out the National Basketball Association? No, it’s just that the NBA hasn’t mattered to me in quite some time. I really couldn’t care less.

Let me get back to sports that matter. This thing on WGN today was the straw that broke this camel’s back. If I hear one mope from Tinley Park tell Kaplan that they have been a Cubs fan all their life, I will scream!

A typical post game show for a Cubs night game on WGN is 2 hours! And I’m not picking on the Cubs and their flag station. Both WSCR (White Sox) and ESPN540 (Brewers) have post game shows, albeit a bit more modest than the one on WGN. But they are tiresome nonetheless.

I believe that WSSP and WTMJ also feature Brewer pregame shows to go along with the ubiquitous post game affair. The thing is both station’s signal is so weak that I don’t even bother trying to listen. WSSP’s is especially puny.

Locally, WLIP now features Carthage College football on Saturdays. This falls into the same category as the NBA for me. I really couldn’t care less. Although it is somewhat of an improvement compared to when they carried the Wisconsin Badgers. You could always count on two hours of pregame babble and at least an hour of post came yak.

Finally, there is the grand daddy of them all – the National Football League. It is here that I must give radio coverage some slack. This is only because the television media is the most pretentious, pompous group there is.

Starting at 11:00 am Sunday morning, both FOX and CBS have an hour-long NFL pregame show. Fox calls their show; “Fox NFL Sunday” while the CBS program still goes by “The NFL Today” moniker. At 6:00 pm, NBC has “Football Night in America”, a 75-minute lead-in to the Sunday night game.

Each of these shows has at least five personalities “breaking the games down” for us. Throw in several “experts” and cut-ins at the various stadiums and you will know more about the NFL than Lovie Smith. Sorry, I had to.

Not to be outdone is ESPN. They have an hour long “Sports Center: Monday Kickoff” show that is followed by 90 minutes of “Monday Night Countdown”. This bombastic preamble features no less than ten “stars” – Chris Berman, Mike Ditka, Keyshawn Johnson, Cris Carter, Tom Jackson, Stuart Scott, Matt Millen, Steve Young, Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. And that’s not including the reporters who are doing the Sports Center portion of it!

The ESPN NFL experience concludes with the last game of the weekend. Thank goodness, right? Not so fast. Of the trio calling the game, Mike Tirico is the only who is bearable. Ron “Jaws” Jaworski would be the most obnoxious if not for the presence of Jon “Chuckie” Gruden. He is insufferable. And that’s being kind.

If you want to get real drunk on a Monday night, play this simple drinking game. During the game consume your favorite adult beverage each time Gruden says either “this guy” or “that guy”. I guarantee that you will be seriously polluted by halftime.

I am definitely going to make an effort to cut back on my peripheral sports indulging. I have to. Enough is enough. The only guilty pleasure that I will allow myself is tuning into WSCR after a Bear game. Listening to Doug Buffone and Ed O’Bradovich rant and rave after a Bear’s loss is something everyone should experience. It is priceless.

Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Strike Two!

Last week’s snooze fest was strike one. Tonight’s episode of Survivor: Nicaragua was no better, making the count 0 and 2. To be honest with you, halfway through this evening’s installment I was really considering changing things next week and recording Survivor and watching Hell’s Kitchen live. That way I could watch and write my Survivor blog on Thursday like the good old days. But being the levelheaded chap that I am, I will give it one more week. Besides, I saw something in the coming attractions at the end of the show that gave me a glimmer of hope.

What we were given tonight really doesn’t merit much of a recap. So here it is, short and sweet –

• Old Fart Jimmy T. reminds me of Reverend Jim Ignatowski from the TV show “Taxi”.

• Nay of the Young Snots makes Russell Hantz look like a sweetheart.

• Marty of the Old Farts is a pompous ass.

• Jimmy T. should shut his mouth. Man…

• Nay is a bad person.

• Fabio made me laugh when he said, “God bless Sears” when his Young Fart tribe collected their Sears swag after winning the Challenge.

• Marty is a total jerk.

• Speaking of Challenges. Once again they combined the Reward and the Immunity Challenges. This is beginning to suck.

• Nay is not only an evil Angry Black Woman, she is stupid as well.

• Everyone trusts Young Fart Brenda.

• The Old Farts are as idiotic as the Young Farts, but in a different way.

• At Tribal Council Jimmy T. started crying when Tyrone told him he would better serve the Old Farts as follower.

• Guess we won’t find out if Jimmy T. takes Tyrone’s advice because they voted his crazy ass off.

I imagine it would have made too much sense to eliminate mob boss wannabe Danny off. After all he can’t compete in Challenges when it’s muddy. Or wet. Or if the ground isn’t level. Or if he had too much prosciutto.

Enough already. If I write any more, I will start recording Survivor next week. Only because of the tease during the coming attractions will I watch Survivor live next week. You just know they had to mix the tribes up sooner or later. I just hope that evil Nay and Marty the jerk get on the same tribe.

Until next time…from the booth.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I Am Truly Blessed!

This weekend I was reminded that I am truly blessed. It’s a good thing too, because the sports teams that I follow did nothing to bolster my spirits. On Friday night my alma mater, the Tremper Trojans, lost to Franklin 42-12 in their homecoming game. Then Saturday the 11th ranked Wisconsin Badgers lost to Michigan State, 34-24. Sunday wasn’t much better. The Milwaukee Brewers wrapped up a less than mediocre season; finishing eight games under .500. Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers had to struggle to eke out a victory over the winless Detroit Lions.

No, it wasn’t the play of my favorite teams that reminded me just how fortunate I am. It was my family. The Vagnoni family is outstanding and I treasure every one of them all. It is truly a blessing to a part of such a wonderful clan.

Earlier this week my brother Mike called saying he was going to stop by for a visit on Saturday with his newly adopted sons, John and Ryan. He said they would be over sometime after 12:30.

Friday evening my mother called a few Vagnonis to see if they would like to come by and meet Mike’s boys. Given the short notice, nobody was able to give a definite reply.

Well, at 1:00 o’clock on Saturday, when Mike, John and Ryan arrived, a household of Vagnonis greeted them. The congregation consisted of Mother Milly, Uncle John and Auntie Janet. Uncle Joe and Auntie Joanne brought granddaughter Mia. If that wasn’t enough, cousin Mark and his wife Pat who happened to be visiting from Michigan, also came by. Oh ya, I was there as well.

It was a delightful, albeit noisy, Vagnoni get-together on Saturday. Both John and Ryan have motors that run nonstop. They are amazing!

Then on Sunday I received yet another reminder of how fortunate I am to be a part of the Vagnoni family. We celebrated my brother Joey’s upcoming birthday with a lunch.

Not only did I have the satisfaction of dining with Joey and his lovely wife Nancy, but I also had the pleasure of meeting Nancy’s granddaughter, Lillianna. The 3-week old little bundle of joy barely made a peep, despite the small din the adults were creating.

Yes, I am blessed to be a Vagnoni. Below are a few photos from my blessed weekend. Had one more Vagnoni been in attendance, this marvelous weekend would have been truly incredible. Dad would have loved it. Until next time…from the booth.

Auntie Janet and Bother Mike smiling while Ryan plays

John playing with stuff Auntie Janet brought

Ryan hoping he gets another brownie

Cousin Mark listening intently

Brother Joey, Mom and Nancy

Brother Joey and yours truly