Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Killer

I made a big deal over at BSmoked Turkey earlier about my favorite Martin Mull moment. When Craig Kilborn used to have his little late night show after Letterman on CBS, every Thanksgiving, he’d have this roundtable with 3 other folks. Every year, he had the late Rod Roddy from the Price is Right, and Martin Mull, with some other odd mystery guest (one time they just had Anna Kornikova staring out from a TV and not say anything, probably because it was some ESPN feed they were running and poor Anna had no clue she was a part of things). For whatever reason, Mull and Kilborn were pure comic gold. It’s like Martin Mull understood what Kilborn wanted to do, or maybe Kilborn just brought out the best in Martin. Anywho, those Thanksgiving shows were always events I couldn't wait to see, only because I knew Martin Mull was good for at least five legitimate laughs. One of my favorites was when Kilborn asked the group who their favorite young Hollywood Actor was. Without missing a beat, Mull said, “You say Potato. I say Jared Leto.” Not many folks get or I guess understand Martin Mull. But damn I miss those Thanksgivings with him.

Lots of Kilborn stuff on youtube, most of it with musical guests. But the real find today comes after another Christmas going by without "The Larry Sanders" shows other seasons being released on DVD. The great news is that you can literally find most of these episodes, usually in two or three parts. One of the best appears below. I can't tell you how excited this makes me. I might put a different episode up everyday for the next few weeks. Enjoy:

Friday, December 29, 2006

Our Best of 2006 (Insert Your Own "It's Not Like There Was Much To Choose From" Joke Here)

So we might have SOME sort of legs, considering that a few of these articles continue to this day to receive comments. And with Bsmoked Turkey around, we can count on at least one person to appreciate our non-Husker related rants.

(By the way, I'm pleased to announce that I currently lead their 2nd annual bowl pool, although right now the Old Ball Coach has me awfully nervous. I wonder if Bsmoked knows how to spell "Spurrier" or even "Callahan". I hope he gets mine correct before he engraves it on the winner's trophy.)

Oh, and I guess if you have to quit drinking before you're of legal age, you might as well at least try out to be a stripper. Elvis died at the age of 42, and he had a good 6 years of trying to get over a divorce as his reason for getting so hooked on pain pills. What are the odds this girl doesn't make 30? Can you even pick Lindsay Lohan in the death pool anymore? Do you have to give money to pick her or Haley Joel Osment? And speaking of death, ever notice on all of these year end death "honor rolls" that every news organization thinks they has to spill out with cheesey music that barely any of them mention Kirby Puckett? Are attention spans that short that nobody can remember that he died in March?

Alright, so here's how I year in review goes (and we didn't even get up and running until late August, so we have an excuse if we don't mention Puckett dying):
  • "Billy C Might Not Be For Me": First appeared on Monday, August 21, 2006. We had over 40 comments in less than two days, and we have Deadspin to thank for this. Hell, we have Deadspin to thank for us even continuing on to this day. This article still is the one that brought out the most passion and hate mail, primarily because it was right before the start of the football season and all Husker fans were convinced this was a National Championship Year. Or at worst, a BCS Season. But definitely not a Cotton Bowl season. I'd go at it with Billy C all season long, sometimes backing him, other times calling him out. Next year has to be his really big season. If not, go back and read my first blog, typos and all.
  • "LP, TO and OJ": It seems like every other day since this first was published that we'll get a comment or email about this, mostly because it shows up on google when you type in the words "Lawrence Phillips". I'm surprised at how many people are still interested in this story (and frankly LP). Mostly I'm stunned at how few people recall that Scott Frost was in that apartment building.
  • "Casting Moneyball: The Movie": Our most popular blog (in terms of number of hits and publicity). We even got a great Deadspin feature on this story (with PICTURES!), which is always nice. Probably our proudest moment, but it's great to note how this story came about. Mackenzie was down in Lincoln at a Husker game, doing what anyone else does during a non-conference Corn blowout. So three sheets to the wind, he calls to tell me something I swore I'd never put in print (or at least on this blog) again, and then out of nowhere says the following: "Hey, I know what you're next blog is. Cast Moneyball the movie only don't just decide who should play Billy Beane, give parts to everybody in that fucking book. Damn that chick's got a great ass, I gotta pour another Crown and Coke." And there became our most famous blog. I'm particularly proud of my Paul Giamatti as Bill James casting, not only because Wil at Deadspin also loved it, but because I decided to pull a Mackenzie and have some adult beverages while writing it.
  • "Is It Too Late to Cast Tom Cruise?": At least that's what Deadspin called it when they posted it. Written by Mackenzie, he called the piece, "What if I were to tell you that I had a package deal with Dennis Rodman and Vern Troyer? Is that something you might be interested in?", which is both an inside joke and Entourage reference. No piece that we did made Deadspin laugh more than this one did. And I still have no idea why Mackenzie isn't contributing more. It's Mac at his finest, and if I have to pin him down before New Year's Eve to put something new together with more Crown and Cokes, all the better.
  • Damon Fits In Wherever He Goes: FINALLY! A non-Husker related story that Deadspin linked to us. Nothing made me feel better than seeing that link to this story, mostly because I was so sick and tired of Husker shit, mostly because I have about 500 more frustrated Royals stories in me, but mostly because it proved we could do more than diss Billy C and have an audience.

Grab the Kids! It's Cheaper Than a Minor League Baseball Game

"Those (Cotton Bowl) tickets are dropping to unforeseen territory for a bole game of that magnitude."
--Sean Pate, StubHub Spokesperson

"Ten dollars is as low as anyone would sell them (Cotton Bowl tickets) for, so you could say the ticket has hit bottom with the Cotton Bowl."
--TicketLiquidator CEO Don Vaccaro

Let me say this up front: NO group of fans in any sport travels like Nebraska football fans, and I make that statement while knowing some Iowa Cubs fans. These people come in droves of over 60,000 to watch what is basically a practice every April. I've been to South Bend, and in my mind there are no better college football fans than Notre Dame fans.

But Husker football fans would travel 3,000 miles to watch Billy C try to win a potato sack race against Houston Nutt.

In the 2000 Alamo Bowl when Nebraska throttled Northwestern, the only fans who bothered to show up were Husker faithful. I'm telling you, the beyond thousands of Husker fans plan their holiday vacations around Bowl games. Now they've got one where all they have to do is immediately hop into their car, drive down to Dallas, and pay less than they would for reserved seats to an Omaha Royals game and get to see a New Year's Day College Football game.

I don't blame Husker fan here, even though for the first time that I can remember, they still haven't sold out their allotment of 12,500 tickets. Here are a few of the biggest problems involving all things COTTON BOWL in general:
  1. They play at 10:30am. On New Year's Day. That's right, 10:30 AM CST, which means anyone on the West Coast would have to get up at 8:30 for this bastard. You know, HANGOVER Day. They expect people to literally make an attempt to come to a game that starts first thing in the morning on the day after the biggest party night of the year? I don't think so. The greatest alternative is stumbling out of bad at 10:29 AM, still half-assed drunk, find some hair of dog, plop yourself in front of the HDTV (The game is on FOX after all, not CBS), and nurse your hangover while watching the Corn try to upset Auburn. But actually getting dressed to go out and go to the game at that time of day after the night you just had? I'll pass.
  2. The horrible stadium. A lot of people, when they first heard of where Nebraska was going for this year's bowl game, said, "Hey, this'll be great, we get to go and play where the Cowboys play." As in, the Stadium that Jerry Jones thinks God put a hole in so he could watch his favorite football team. Uhm no, the game is still actually played at the actual COTTON BOWL. Even our boy (hee-hee) Tom Shatel is joining in the fun with his take on what a joke the stadium is.
  3. Auburn doesn't give a shit. They started the season with National Championship dreams. Even Beano Cook, who believe or not is usually right about these things, had Auburn has his pre-season pick to play for the National Championship. I'm sure Auburn folks in particular are staying away in droves.
  4. For some reason, everyone's throwing around a phrase known as "Unpredictable Dallas weather." Oh, and all of a sudden we can predict the Nebraska weather? What, is everyone like the Detroit Tigers and hasn't heard of the Weather Channel?
  5. The Omaha World Herald ran a front page story last week on what a disappointment the stadium is. Did we mention the stadium already? Yeah, thought so.

Finally though, Shatel of all the people in the world brought up a good point. Oklahoma State and Kansas State fans showed up in droves for the Cotton Bowl. There were no $5 or $10 tickets to be had. So why are "only" maybe 12,000 in Husker red making this trip? My personal opinion is that after seeing 70,000 of them hit Kansas City and hit it hard, they all had Fiesta Bowl visions in their head. They didn't want to spend New Year's Day MORNING in Dallas when they could have recuperated all New Year's Day long in Arizona for a great night game. And oh by the way, as we stated here a few weeks ago, we're still not sure that Billy C knows he's got to get up so early Monday morning and play a football game.

Nebraska fans have all moved on to next year. Everyone's ready for Sam Keller and a pre-season top 10 ranking. But like most people on Monday morning, everyone, even Husker Nation, wants to sleep in, nurse that final 2006 hangover, and get through it all with a game on HDTV. If Callahan doesn't care about this game, and tickets are only $10, why would anyone treat this with anymore urgency than they would say an Omaha Royals game in late April?

Only difference is that in late April, more than 60,000 strong will come watch a football practice in Lincoln.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

We Haven't Been a Husker Site Since Moses Wore Short Pants

And I must say, it actually feels....good. We haven't received the Deadspin coverage, we haven't gotten the big hits, but I guess we can still hang our hats on the fact that until Billy C gets the Corn to lace them up, we're a nice little garage band that some folks find amusing. Seriously, it's refreshing. Deadspin always linked to our best Husker articles and the Moneyball and Midget Basketball pieces. But the free form stuff is fun if not liberating. We probably ought to throw up a few pictures before the Cotton Bowl though.

Here's my mistake of the day: Mentioning to Mackenzie that I have four (4) all-time favorite Christmas songs. Truth be told, I wish we could skate right through Christmas music, and I can't stand the fact that there are like six radio stations in the area playing non-stop Christmas music. And this has gone on since before Thanksgiving. So I might as well share my guilty pleasures with the rest of the audience. In no particular order:
  1. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" by the Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan. I stumbled upon this in the "off-season" but it's a great interpretation that brings together two acts who aside from each other, I have literally very little to deal with.
  2. "Please Come Home for Christmas" by the Eagles. Here's the great back story about this song. The Eagles were breaking up at the time, couldn't stand one another, had no new music to bring out, and on a whim the band got together in Miami to cover this Charles Brown classic. They put Henley on the lead with the naturally great harmony's thinking nothing of it other than to make the record label happy before "The Long Run" album would be complete. In return, they made a Christmas classic that at the time was so popular that it cracked the top 20 on the singles chart. A happy accident, and the perfect choice in material for Henley's aching voice.
  3. "The Christmas Song" by Nat King Cole. You can listen to this song anytime of year and it never gets old. Cole did many more Holiday favorites, but this one is simply perfect and one I can never tire of. Probably #1 on my list. It's that good. I have a hard time with anyone else even trying to do this song.
  4. "Merry Christmas Darling" by The Carpenters. Yes, Karen and Richard Carpenter were forced to record a cheesy Christmas album. And for chrissakes, don't come anywhere close to buying that record. The entire album as a whole is embarassing. But from it came this classic nugget, made perfect by Karen's incredible voice. If you go to their itunes page, at this time of year, this is their most downloaded song. Nobody I can recall even bothered to cover this song. Karen makes it perfect. Then again, other than Henley, nobody sang about heartache like Karen Carpenter.

OH -- I also love that Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth thing that David Bowie and Bing Crosby did (aside from the weird intro). But it has that creepy video that accompany's it, where Bowie admits to liking John Lennon and Harry Nilsson while poor Bing just sits back and acts like he knows what he's talking about. It's an incredible musical achievement, just don't youtube the thing anytime soon. Why? Because we've got it right here:


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Chasing Chevy

FINALLY, we did a blog that was non Husker related and got some response. We had to delete some comments (because I'm sure they had to be written by either Michael Richards, Mel Gibson or Andy Dick). But generally people have a genuine interest in at the very least, seeing the current version of SNL fixed.

OK, so about poor Chevy Chase. Here's what I think of Chevy: He's absolutely the major star of that first season currently out on that impressive DVD package (and explains why he immediately bolted for what he thought would be bigger and better things that would await him). It's obvious that the remainder of the cast resented Chevy for this, or were jealous that Chevy became the first breakout star. It's also obvious that Chevy became pissed off at how big a star his replacement, Bill Murray became, and this would be a sticking point with Chase for the rest of his life as Murray would go on to have the brilliant movie career that Chevy would only get a small taste of. But Chevy will forever be in the Comedy Hall of Fame for his brilliant comedic turns in Caddyshack and Vacation (the FIRST Vacation flick, none of the embarrassing sequels). There's also a big cult following surrounding Chevy for Fletch. In my mind, he gets the get out of jail free card for playing Ty Webb and Clark Griswold (again, in the FIRST of each of those movies). HBO has been showing Chase's first career move after SNL, Foul Play, which is a cheesy, dated romantic comedy with the over the top Barry Manilow song "Ready to Take a Chance." But somehow, Chevy and especially the gorgeous Goldie Hawn make that one still watchable. Oh sure, it also has Dudley Moore and Billy Barty (OK, I admit it, I watched it just to see little old Bill Barty). It's a cute little movie that Chase is at least remotely funny in, but it certainly wasn't the big first movie that Chevy was looking for. That same year, John Belushi came out with Animal House. I'm sure all of this got under Chevy's skin.

So after the first Vacation, something very odd happened to Chevy. It's no coincidence that Chevy did Vacation around the time that Belushi died, and for whatever reason, Belushi's death seemed to also kill Chevy's ability to be funny. Chevy Chase literally lost it. He made some incredibly God awful movies (take a look at Chevy's IMDB page if you don't believe me). Even after Caddyshack, Vacation, even Fletch and that first season of SNL, Chevy Chase has become a big joke. Legend has it he's turned into a major duchebag. Will Ferrell goes out of his way to tell stories about what a dick Chevy was when he came back to host the show once. In James A. Miller and Tom Shales great book, Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told By Its Stars, Writers and Guests, there's a great story about how Chevy came back to host the show and couldn't been more of a dick to anyone and everyone, including a skit where he wanted one of the gay cast members to die of AIDS. Then there was maybe the biggest embarassment's in television history known as "The Chevy Chase Show" . This was FOX's way of throwing their hat in the late night ring, airing the same year that Letterman was making the jump to CBS. The show started a half hour before Letterman and Leno went on, and within the first five minutes of any of Chevy's shows, you just sat there squirming at how embarrassing it was. People would literally tune in for those first five minutes just to see what a train wreck the whole thing was. I have no idea how many weeks Fox gave Chevy to make something click, but if my memory's correct, I don't think he made it past Halloween. I'm thinking that all available footage of these shows has been burned by Chase himself.

And this literally KILLED Chevy Chase. There was absolutely no coming back from this. Chevy's reputation as being, how should we say this, "difficult", coupled with the idea that he wasn't even remotely funny anymore, left him for dead. He hasn't done even one decent movie since, not even a small cameo role in anything. The only good thing he did was a self-mocking appearance on the brilliant "The Larry Sanders Show" (now again is my time to plug or at least ask for the remainder of that series to come out on DVD immediately). It was Chevy's way of trying to admit that he made a horrible decision with that talk show. There was a scene where Larry and Chevy were waiting outside of a psychiatrists office, where Chevy was seeing a professional to still talk about what went wrong with his talk show.

But nothing worked for Chevy. There was that Comedy Central Presents: The N.Y. Friars Club Roast of Chevy Chase where Chevy literally sat there the entire time, unamused at the shots that friends were taking at him. It was a ROAST Chevy! Didn't you know that some of your friends, some of whom obviously didn't even want to be there, were going to say some relatively mean spirited things at you? As with all roasts, the show ended with the star getting a chance to say a few things about the evening. Chevy literally just stood up, looked into the camera and said, in all seriousness, "That hurt." You'd think that he went backstage and cried for hours and hours because Beverly D'Angelo made some cracks about him.

And that was literally the end of Chevy Chase. In interviews, he STILL goes on about Bill Murray's career, saying that it's a crying shame that he doesn't have a similar film career. Frankly, I don't think Chevy ever has, or ever will, get over Bill Murray. I don't even think he could get Quentin Tarantino to resurrect his career. Or get a Paul Thomas Anderson to do a Burt Reynolds for him. It's just over. And in a way, it's sad. But we'll always have Ty Webb. We'll always have that sketch with Chevy and Richard Pryor from that first SNL season. Maybe for Chevy, that's going to have to be enough to hang his hat on. CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

No Easy Way Out

It should be said that kicking boy Bill Simmons has eloquently described how men in our demographic react to the Rocky movies. As much as we loathe him for all things Red Sox related, he's pretty much nailed everything here. But now that there's the alleged final chapter in the Rocky saga out in theaters and getting reviews calling it the best in the series since the original, our big time boy Simmons got a sneak peak before anyone else and has thoroughly dissed Sly's latest effort. As Marvin in Pulp Fiction would paraphrase, I can't even offer an opinion on this as I'm not seeing the film until Friday (Rocky Balboa, not Pulp for the 485th time). It just seems really odd that somebody like Simmons, who spoke for all men aged 25-45 regarding the first four Rocky flicks, would utterly diss the latest installment, other than to recommend it backhandedly. "It's one of the most embarrassing sports movies ever made, yet every Rocky fan should be required to go, for closure," Simmons says.

In this corner, I think I'm going to listen to actual movie critics, most of who have been incredibly kind towards the 6th Rocky film and are predicting big time grosses for the flick. Like Simmons, I probably like (and watch) the first four Rocky films a little too much. But I don't need his opinion on this last film. Maybe I too just need closure. Of course if I would have listened to Simmons NFL picks all year, I'd be filing for bankruptcy this Christmas.

Better news: If you need to request that last second gift, by all means go for Season 3 of The Sopranos, currently airing all month on HBO In Demand and finally bargain priced (for a 4 disc set anyway) at all major DVD outlets (including to the link posted above). Rewatching these episodes, this was clearly the Sgt. Pepper season for the series. Everyone, from the writers to the actors, were working at another level. You can't watch just one episode without craving to see another. The work is that great. Consider this:
  • Most of the more infamous episodes come from this season: Pine Barrens (where Paulie and Christopher are lost in the woods with the Russian); Employee of the Month (Dr. Melfi is shockingly raped and chooses in the end to not let Tony in on the thing for revenge); University (the one with Ralph killing the stripper carrying his child and Tony exacting revenge on Ralphie); and one of my all-time favorites, Second Opinion (a showcase for Dominic Chianese as Uncle Junior).
  • The best selection of music in the series history, from Tony singing along to Steely Dan's "Dirty Work" in the season opener, to the consistent usage of "Living on a Thin Line" by the Kinks in the University episode, to the multiple versions of "Return to Me" in the penultimate episode called Amour Fou.
  • Speaking of Rocky, Burt Young (aka Paulie) appears in one episode (Another Toothpick) as Bobby Bacala's father, dying of cancer but wanting to do one last hit.
  • Maybe my memory's fading, but nearly every episode warns of nudity before it begins. Never hurts.
  • A never better looking Annabella Sciorra scoring perhaps her best role as Tony's love interest Gloria Trillo. I only wished she could have stuck around (or as Tony would say, hung around) longer other than dream sequences.
  • Even though both would continue with incredible work on the show, this is the best James Gandolfini and Edie Falco have ever been, primarily because both are giving the lion's share of the work. Both won deserved Emmys.
  • Not that awards matter (especially no the Emmys, where they often screw things up worse than the Grammys), but that season, the show was nominated for 22 freaking awards. Twenty-two? They were up for four of the five writing slots. That's how good of a season it was.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bowl Pickin

Even after what, 37 some odd years, I certainly can't imagine why anyone would have anything against Yoko Ono, can you???

I love being in the College Bowl pools that make you do the whole confidence picks, as in ranking each game with your highest level of who you just KNOW is going to win down to who you're taking a rim shot on. And seriously, this year, is anyone NOT picking Texas with their top pick? I mean, they're playing IOWA, right? Yes, sports fans, they are, in the ALAMO Bowl. In Texas. That's my top pick. I also like Rutgers. A LOT, even though most of the world won't be able to watch this game because it's on...The NFL Network??? Somewhere, James Gandolfini is really pissed. Lucky for him I'm sure he'll be an honorary captain for the game, like he was for Rutgers last year.

Coming in 3rd in the confidence picks is Auburn. This was almost my #1 pick. Ordinarily, I'd go to my old, "Don't bet against Callahan with time on his hands to prepare for a game" speech right here. But now I'm not even sure that NU officials have convinced Billy C that he's actually got a game on New Year's Day. At 10 AM CST. I'm thinking he thinks this is some big joke. Seriously, Billy C has already hung his hat on that big old Big 12 North Championship Trophy. He's moved on, recruiting as many quarterbacks as he can find. If he really does find his way on a plane come December 26th to get ready to play Auburn, I'm sure he'll look at it as some great recruiting trip, and a way to game plan for Bo Jackson. I'm thinking that sometime yesterday, somebody had to tell Steve Pederson that he needed to sit Billy C down and say, "You know, we've got one more game left, you know this, right? It's on January 1st, so on New Year's Eve, when you break it gently to Cosgrove that he's not coming back next year over Dirty Martini's at Jimmy Johnson's favorite restaurant, remember that we've got to be at the stadium at like 7am the next day."

I'm telling you, Callahan is dumbfounded by all of this. After spending an entire year of doing nothing but saying, "Our goal is to win the Big 12 North. Our goals are still intact. That's it, that's the list. Nothing more. Gosh what a quality opponent we just played," I can't imagine how he's getting up for actually having to play one more game. Not after losing out on a big payday that he would have gotten for going to a BCS game in just his third year. Not after 70,000 some folks with Nebraska addresses made that drive down to Kansas City on the first Saturday of this month, all with ideas of winning a conference title and booking a trip to Arizona for the Holidays. Not after his boy (and I guess mine for as much as I talked about him) Zac Taylor threw those four picks on that chilly Kansas City night. Plus there's this added wrinkle: EVERYONE, including Stevie P, was hoping that Arkansas got to the Cotton Bowl, which would have given everyone in Nebraska excitement if only because it would have dredged up those old "We almost had Houston Nutt as our Head Coach" thoughts. That game, Stevie P would have made damn sure Billy C cared about in a big way. Now, they've got a great Auburn team a lot of folks, including Beano Cook, picked in the preseason as a National Championship contender.

And frankly that's what Billy C has on the brain: HIS National Championship contender for next year, with his one chance at the title in QB Sam Keller. He could give two shits about Auburn or the Cotton Bowl. In fact, make Auburn your #1 confidence pick. Auburn 35, NU 17. CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

At Least I Know What Mackenzie and Bsmoked Turkey Want for Christmas

Mackenzie still can't quit talking about last night's big fight between the Nuggets and Knicks, which frankly I could give two shits about, primarily because I think Isiah Thomas staged the whole thing and roped golden boy Carmelo Anthony into some of Zeke's Bad Boy ways. It's gotten some pushed back in favor of today's NFL action. Which is fine with me, fights in the NBA have been around forever and this one got big attention this morning primarily because it was in New York. But Mac can't give up the fact that this is it for Thomas. I doubt it, look at the guy's history. He's a fucking cock roach and is seemingly going to outlast everything. But it'll give Dan Patrick a lot to talk about tomorrow on the radio, provided he's not on another one of his Johnny Carson-esque vacations.

Meanwhile, consider me guilty of once again coming late to the party. I totally bypassed last year's Rick Rubin produced Neil Diamond album, primarily because frankly I figured I had all the Neil that I need. In college -- and this ought to date us -- the only real Neil Diamond best of set was this cheesy two disc set that had one disc of horrible live versions of some of Neil's best early work, and one disc of studio versions of his bad later work, including the ET inspired "Heartlight". But since then, all of Neil's stuff has been brought out in many compilations, so if Bmoked Turkey -- who was so upset that he couldn't find this back in college -- needs to hear "Solitary Man" or "Cracklin Rosie" the way they were intended (which in reality, is on LP in MONO), he and everyone else can do so. But I finally took a shot on the Rick Rubin disc, called "12 Songs". Rubin encouraged Neil to do a bunch of stripped down versions of stuff I've never heard before. The one song I've been playing over and over again is "I'm On To You", which sounds like something David Chase should use over the closing credits over one of the final 9 episodes of The Sopranos. Neil should stick with Rubin, ala Johnny Cash, going into his final years. Neil will forever sell out crowds in Omaha and any other market he wants doing his cheesy "We coming to America" Vegas like shows. But this is bringing Neil full circle. And I'm sure Bsmoked is going to make me email him an mp3 of "I'm On To You", just like I did with the original Fleetwood Mac version of "Landslide." I don't even want to tell him that Neil does a great cover of Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" from the "Love Songs" compilation. It's been OK to admit to liking Neil Diamond for a while now (even after the God awful movie Saving Silverman). Rick Rubin could continue to give Neil the Johnny Cash treatment. Maybe someday Jason Biggs could actually play Neil in a biopic called "Touching You, Touching Me."

Finally, I know Deadspin has been rather congratulatory about this, but Kissing Suzy Kolber was named the best sports blog of 2006. Kiss Me Suzy is a great website (if only for putting up pictures of Sports Illustrated writer Peter King's daughter earlier in the year). They easily have the best NAME for a sports blog for my money. I'll continue to go there every chance I get online, but I hope that they realize that Deadspin made them, sort of like how they made this website. We're nothing without Deadspin. According to Kissing Suzy Kolber, There was a call for nominations early in November for all of the categories. There were around 4,500 nominations overall for the various categories. I'm guessing that Bill Callahan threw our name into the hat at least once. CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Rethinking Chevy

FINALLY, we've figured out what's wrong with Saturday Night Live to the point where it can legitimately be fixed. NBC finally released, in their unedited "glory" (more on that in a moment) the very first season of SNL, or "Saturday Night" as it was original called until Howard Cosell's show of the same name got cancelled. No need to go out and buy the entire set (again, we'll get to that), especially at itunes, you can order a complete unedited 90 minute show for only $1.99. It's worth a couple of bucks to get the Richard Pryor show, or the one where Chevy Chase first brought out "Landshark" (in a sketch called Jaws II ironically enough).

But taking a look at some of these episodes from the very first season, it's quite simple to figure out how to fix SNL in it's current incarnation.


No, more like fewer sketches. Here's what happened on the very first show alone, hosted by George Carlin: TWO musical guests (Billy Preston and Janis Ian) who EACH sang two songs, ('Nothing From Nothing" and "Fancy Lady" from the eternal fifth Beatle Preston and "At Seventeen" and "In The Winter" from Ian). This was also the show that marked the debut of Andy Kaufman (who would come back a few more times that season), a short film by Albert Brooks, and some stand-up by somebody named Valri Bromfield. And remember, this was the episode where they had to cut Billy Crystal's first appearance because they were so long on time.

That was just the first episode. Future episodes see bizarre appearances by Jim Henson's Muppets (seriously, I have no idea how this lasted beyond only one show), more Brooks films, but the second episode is where current staffers should start to pay attention. Paul Simon hosted, it was the show where he famously sang "Still Crazy after All These Years" dressed up as either a chicken or a turkey depending on your taste, and they STILL found room to bring back Art Garfunkel to do three songs with him. But that's not enough. Randy Newman was on to sing is classic "Sail Away". Phoebe Snow sang "No Regrets" (I know, I was hoping for "Poetry Man" too). And somehow, Simon still found room to sing three more songs ("Loves Me Like A Rock", "Marie" and "American Tune").

It's painfully obvious why they had more musical numbers and other films. A LOT of the sketches just weren't that good, or at least as not as good as we remember. We tend to all wax nostalgically about that first season, and justifiably the Bill Murray years (which were miles better than season 1 with Chase). Oh there are some incredibly great moments that still belong in the Hall of Fame. And for the most part, the shows are still much better than anything SNL has put on since Will Farrell left.

So the answer's quite obvious: It's still, after all of these years, a 90-minute show. Hell, even Johnny Carson had to cut down from 90 to 60 minutes. If you're going to keep things at 90 minutes (and I'm in the camp that says they should), then Lorne Michaels needs to rewatch a few of these old shows and realize that it ultimately needs to be a 90 minute VARIETY show. Book 2 more musical guests per week (Seriously, one of the greatest things about watching some of these shows are getting to see genuine live performances from people in the 70's you rarely see, especially from the likes of ABBA and Gordon Lightfoot). Take a chance on unknowns like Andy Kauffman was and try to create a buzz (let's face it, most of SNL's legendary moments involve the wild cards, from Sinead O'Connor ripping up the mug of the pope to Martin Lawrence having to have his monologue cut). But most of all, strip the show of unnecessary segments that just aren't funny. The best eras of the show are defined by the legendary stars. Chase (I actually forgot how funny he was from that first year, no wonder he busted out so quickly to cash in on movies). Billy Murray, John Belushi (who didn't bust out in a big way on the show until Chase left), especially Eddie Murphy (who probably saved the show from cancellation), through Phil Hartman and Farrell.

Go ahead and buy some of the episodes from 1975-76 on itunes. You'll be glad you did. No matter which one's you download, you'll see and feel the freshness and energy that the show hasn't had in years. It's not all legendary comedy, but it's enough of a history lesson to generations to come of how to right the ship. CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I Was Ready To Call This a Carl Pavano Move

Let's face it: Nothing the Kansas City Royals have done since oh 1985 has made any sense. Taking Bo Jackson, who had just won a Heisman Trophy and been drafted by the Tampa Buccaneers, didn't make any sense at the time, and history now shows he was nothing more than a four-year sideshow for a team that never won their division.

In his last season as Royals GM, John Schuerholz signed National League Cy Young winner Mark Davis (to go along with reigning AL Cy Young Winner Bret Saberhagen) and Storm Davis, who had won 19 games for an Oakland A's team that slugged their way to a World Championship. Both deals looked great on paper, both had the Royals heavy favorites for the 1990 season, and both deals turned out to be complete disasters.

In 1991, then General Manager Herk Robinson traded the greatest pitcher to ever wear a Royals uniform in two-time Cy Young Award winner Bret Saberhagen to the Mets for Kevin McReynolds, Keith Miller and Gregg Jefferies. Of course, Jefferies was the best part of the deal...and the following winter, they traded HIM to St. Louis for Felix Jose.

They traded hometown boy David Cone for Ed Hearn and a bag of balls in March, 1987. Cone was so eager to come back home he signed a lucrative free agent deal with the Royals in December, 1992. Cone would win a Cy Young Award for KC in 1994...and then they traded him AGAIN, this time to the Blue Jays, for three guys who never played for the Royals.

But the worst that happened to the franchise in the past 20 years occurred at the time when they had an outfield that consisted of Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltran and Jermaine Dye. All three patrolled Kauffman Stadium's outfield at the same time, and instead of locking one or two of them to decent deals -- and at any time, all were somewhat willing to give the team a hometown discount -- the Royals foolishly threw around funny money at good guy Mike Sweeney to become the face of the franchise.

Damon, Beltran, and Dye were all traded. All that's left to show from any of those deals is a budding star in Mark Teahan -- and rumors swirled this off-season that even HE might be traded.

I wanted to say that nothing could compare to what the organization did last week. They gave a 5-year, $55 million deal to....

Gil Meche?

Here are Meche's career numbers: 55-44, with a career 4.65 ERA. All with Seattle. Meche's best year was in 2003, when he went 15-13 with a 4.59 ERA while giving up 30 homers. Yes, he was named The Sporting News comeback player of the year. But that year, he was Seattle's # FOUR starter and made a whopping $325,000.

The Kansas City Royals are paying Gil Meche, who will undoubtedly be their opening day starter, $11 million a year for the next 5 years.

I know the Royals have been the poster franchise for not spending any money on available players in the past. I know that lame duck GM Allard Baird was given the go ahead to spend money last winter only to come up empty handed (most notoriously, wanting to give Paul Byrd silly money). But if you're going to throw money around...I mean, Barry Zito is still unsigned.

Nobody who follows the Royals (and that number is about as big as the number of people who follow the Devil Rays or are card carrying members of the Michael Richards Stand-Up Comedy Club) can reasonably expect Gil Meche to behave like anything other than a #4 starting pitcher. But he's now going to anchor the Royals pitching staff for the next five seasons. I understand the organization had to make some sort of splash to show their fans and the community that the team is committed to putting together a competitive club.

OK, fine. Now they've signed Octavio Dotel, and are SERIOUSLY considering bringing back former #1 starter Jeff Suppan (who obviously isn't in Michael J. Fox's corner, by the way). Which means Suppan would be their #2 starter behind Meche going into the 2007 season.

It's so easy to bash them for (finally) throwing around money at players (similar to what the Blue Jays did last year). Now there are reports that Mark Teahan is learning the Right Field position, and that phenom Alex Gordon is NOT going to start the season in Omaha, but rather with the parent club at third base on opening day. We have one more year of the whole Mike Sweeney mess before Billy Butler can become the permanent designated hitter.

I want to bash these moves, but I can't help but be optimistic. They could have three veteran starters to get their young pitchers ready. Let's face it, Gordon is set to move to the next level. I have no doubt in my mind that Dayton Moore knows what he's doing. Screw it, I'm all in. Let Gil Meche try to be if not Bret Saberhagen, then maybe Mark Gubicza. See if Dotel has two years in him to win more than 10 games each year. Hell, at least now, they're TRYING to do something. Last year, it was by me a vowel and spell check guys like Mark Grudzielanek and Doug Mientkiewicz to bring stability to, uhm, no pitching. Moore is all about pitching, learning at the foot of former Royals GM John Schuerholz all of those years in Atlanta. I'll say this, at least the guy seems to have some sort of plan.

And they're actually spending MONEY. Something they wouldn't dare do with Damon, Dye and Beltran. CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

End of the Cosgrove Experiment

Well, at least it's going to be fun to hear Billy C spin this one. But let's not forget that there's a reason that Bob Stoops is always up for coach of the year. The man is a defensive whiz. Remember what his defense did to Florida State to win his first National Championship for the Sooners? He had a great defense all set for anything and everything tonight, and that should come as no surprise. Plus in the back of my mind, I kept thinking that Billy C and his staff were thinking even before the Texas A&M win that they'd get that rematch with Texas, and having only week to say, "Oh shit, we gotta get ready for those 'Fuckin Hillbillies' again" surely hurt.

No, the one true memory we should all take from tonight's Big 12 Championship game that essentially gave the Corn a berth in the Cotton Bowl on January 1st is that absolutely inexcusable 3rd and 10 back-breaker from Oklahoma's own 1 yard line. The NU Defense almost had the Sooners for a safety on 2nd down, and then somehow (well, we know who to point the fingers at) allowed OU to complete that 3rd and ten, passing from THEIR OWN endzone. It was sick to watch. I could only wish this was "Being Bill Callahan" at that moment, and we could have taken a trip into Billy C's mind to hear him say, "Well, enough of this friendship shit with Kevin Cosgrove. If we're ever going to win big here, I gotta get a real defensive coach who can coach AND recruit." I stared at replays of that 3rd and ten trying to figure out a way to somehow pick my jaw up from off the floor.

A lot of people are (justifiably) point to the Maurice Purify fumble on the first play of the game that set OU up for their first touchdown. Yes, it totally changed the game from the onset. Coming back from that disaster was going to be a chore. Others are pissed at Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year Zac Taylor and all of those interceptions. But remember, he was forced to throw even more than usual trying to lead the Corn back, and well this was against a Stoops coached defense. People need to understand how important Purify is to next year's team, how talented a receive he is. And that there's no KC trip without Taylor, interceptions tonight be damned.

All year long, it seemed that Billy C was content just to GET to this game, and whatever happened after that was gravy. I mean seriously, all that was on the line after this was a date in Tempe against Boise State in a BCS game that would be a bigger payday than the Cotton Bowl. He got over 60,000 people to take a trip to cold and snowy Kansas City and take a nice vacation to see the lights down on the Plaza.

Granted, now he's got 60,000 dissecting this damn thing for the next week, but everyone should really point to the big ass pink elephant in the room named one Kevin Cosgrove, and understand that the next move in order to take that all important next step to the next level involves bringing in a defensive minded coordinator who can put together a defense like Stoops does every year. Then a QB like Taylor won't be forced to throw and throw to all of those people not wearing Husker jerseys. Cosgrove has NEVER worked. Texas Tech 70, Nebraska 10 anyone? Remember the Oklahoma State disaster from October? And most importantly, the 3rd and 10 from tonight that signifies all things Cosgrove? I'm not suggesting reaching out to Bo Pellini (God that'd be fun though, he and Billy C would kill one another). But there are brilliant defensive coaches all over the NCAA at all levels, and even the NFL.

Nebraska can probably win the Big 12 North for the next 3 years with the way things are moving now. But they're never going to get anywhere past that unless Cosgrove packs up his shit and gets the hell out of Dodge. He's had three seasons. Everything else seems to be moving according to schedule. The pipeline is filled with great talent coming to Lincoln. ABC color analyst Todd Blackledge made mention that Oklahoma QB Paul Thompson looked awful in warm ups, and that he could have a bad time throwing the ball. Nebraska's defense made Thomspon, who started the season as WIDE RECEIVER, look like Troy Smith or Brady Quinn.

(Before I forget though, and you have to grant me this as nice as I've been to Billy C of late: 4th and less than a yard to go, and you DON'T run Brandon Jackson up the middle but rather try some wild throw to the right side of the field? Just go ahead and say that was Norvell's call Billy.)

Callahan achieved that one goal he kept beating down everyone's throat all season long in winning the Big 12 North. He knows this is no longer enough. The 2007 Huskers are going to be expected to win the conference next year by a lot of experts AND fans. Something tells me that Billy C knows he can't do that with Cosgrove anymore.

On a related note, it's going to be nice to start having some non-Husker football blogs in the upcoming weeks and months. It was never our intention to make this a Husker only blog. I mean, don't look for much in the way about Husker Basketball anytime around here. Mackenzie may want to cast the movie for the new Michael Lewis football book. There are great Michael Richards stories to discuss further. But with Billy C around, I'm sure we'll go to the Husker football well from time to time. CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!