Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Five Television Shows I Will Watch Anytime

We live in a world where there are literally hundreds of channels to view on our television sets. There are so many shows a person can choose from. That said, I'd like to list five shows that I always watch if I see them while I'm channel surfing.

1- "The Golden Girls" - There is a reason this show is as popular as it is, even now. That reason, I think, is that it was so well written and acted as to feel like Dorothy, Sophia, Blanche and Rose were real. They were not perfect. They argued with each other, sometimes to the point of truly being downright mean to each other. But in the end, they always were there for each other.

2- "Cheers" - It's been said by many people that this was essentially a radio show transplanted to television and I agree with that. I've seen every episode, and though each season had something worthwhile about it, I feel that its first season was its finest.

3- "Friends" - Again, one of which I've seen every episode. Does it have weaknesses? Yes, it does. I never cared for how the character of Ross was gradually changed into a much less interesting and less competent person. Also, by the end, it stuffed way too many characters into the cast; I never liked the character of Phoebe's husband. That's no slam against the actor, who I like in other roles. I just feel the character was very generic, one you could drop into any one of half a dozen different other shows.

4- "Seinfeld" - Also a show for which I've seen every episode. The much maligned finale is still something I don't care for, nor is the "clip" episode they did. But for a show that did so many things right, one creative misfire and one money-saving episode are both things I can deal with.

5- "Are You Being Served?" - This classic British situation comedy underwent several cast changes through its years on the air, but even its weakest episodes are well worth the time spent watching them, as far as I'm concerned.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Different Sports World

This post ties in with my previous one about rules changes for NASCAR that were announced earlier this week.

Once upon a time, the established sports leagues did not have the almost total control they now have over their respective sports. The possibility of competing with these leagues was real. Someone who challenged the then established order with enthusiasm is a gentleman named Gary Davidson. Davidson co-founded the American Basketball Association, the World Hockey Association and founded the World Football League.

It's worth noting that those first two leagues did well enough to have some of their teams eventually join the N.B.A. and the N.H.L., respectively. The W.F.L., however, crashed and burned, playing a full season in 1974 and then ending the 1975 season on October 22nd of that year. They had played twelve out of eighteen weeks that were scheduled.

The Birmingham and Memphis franchises were financially stable and enjoyed good fan support. Both teams asked to be admitted to the N.F.L. but were denied that option. The N.F.L., of course, had been challenged by the A.F.L. in the 1960s, a challenge that ultimately led to a merger of the two leagues.

Since the failure of the W.F.L., there have been more recent attempts to compete with the N.F.L., most notably in 1983 to 1985 when the United States Football League played three seasons of spring and summer football. A planned move to the fall proved to be disastrous, a move that Donald Trump, as owner of the New Jersey Generals, was the biggest advocate of.

The next challenge came in 2001, when Vince McMahon founded the XFL. McMahon did this after his attempt to buy the Canadian Football League failed. The XFL was widely perceived as not being serious, and though its games were aired on N.B.C, it played just one season.

And, most recently, the United Football League, an entity owned by Bill Hambrecht, played full seasons in 2009, 2010, and 2011. The league played four weeks of its 2012 season and then cancelled the remaining games.

Here is my take on these leagues:

The W.F.L. had several issues. Teams were underfunded, some teams played in stadia that were run down, and the placement of a team in Hawaii created a real nightmare in terms of scheduling. Some teams were caught inflating attendance by giving away several thousand tickets. The whole endeavor was a mess from the beginning.

The U.S.F.L. managed to do a lot of things right. Though there was some instability in terms of teams going defunct and some moving, the league was most certainly sustainable. I believe that it could have gone on successfully if it had continued to play its games in the spring and summer.

The X.F.L. was doomed from day one. It tried to establish itself as a renegade, but that just wasn't accepted by football fans.

The U.F.L. was, well, weird. The teams had coaches like Marty Schottenheimer and Jim Fassel, men who had coached with success in the N.F.L. and were well known to fans. But the league had financial issues from the start. It never had more than five teams, thus causing teams to rotate weeks off. I got to see a few of the games and though the quality of play wasn't up to that of the N.F.L., watching those games was fun.

I should also mention that in 1982, when a player's strike wiped out fifty-seven days of the N.F.L. season, the player's association staged two exhibition games. One game had an announced attendance of just over 5000 and the other had something like 3000 to 3500 fans in the stands. In spite of that, the players believed the games to be worth the time and effort involved.

That's when Ted Turner got involved, in that he was willing to finance a new league and air its games on his cable station TBS. Turner went so far as to make a formal presentation to the twenty-eight player representatives.

They voted the plan down, in what was reported to be a very close vote.

That was thirty-five years ago. What I would very much like to see is a serious challenge to at least one of the established leagues. Such an effort would require a lot of money, so whoever backed it would need to have very deep pockets.  Let's assume that there is someone out there with the money to start and run a league.

The only problem is, as I see it, is that pretty much everyone who has the money either is unwilling to spend it or can't manage to pull together all of the different elements involved in starting a league.

That's too bad, because goodness knows there's an appetite for something better.

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Stupidest Idea I've Heard In A Long Time

So, the idiot who runs NASCAR, Brian France, has come up with yet another idiotic rules change. Beginning this season, all races will be divided into three stages. The first 25% of a race is the first segment, the next 25% is the second one, and the rest of the race is the third. The first two segments will be stopped by a caution flag followed by a restart. Points will be awarded to drivers for each segment.

NASCAR is calling this an "enhancement". What it really is is a very bad idea.

I love stock car racing. I grew up attending races at tracks in the upstate New York area. In the 1970s, it was still fairly rare to have that week's race televised live in its entirety. It was more common to air races on tape delay, or to show portions of it as part of "Wide World Of Sports". The best way to make sure to catch all the action was to be at the track, and if that wasn't possible for a fan, radio broadcasts aired the races live.

My favorite driver on a national level was Richard Petty, and when my Uncle Joe got me his autograph for Christmas one year, I was thrilled.

NASCAR was founded by Bill France Sr. in 1948; he ran it and then his son Bill France Jr. ran it. Between the two of them they were in charge for fifty-five years. Every year for several years, the racing got better, the crowds grew larger and the money got bigger. I remember when Brian France took over from his father in 2003, when I made a prediction that he would ruin NASCAR.

I wish I had been wrong, I really do. But this person has just made every wrong move possible. This latest move may be the worst of them all.

This all ties into another post I'll be putting up tomorrow or the day after. I plan to discuss how much I wish that someone with very deep pockets would take on the N.F.L. or the N.B.A. or Major League Baseball or NASCAR. As I said, look for that post soon.

In the meanwhile, Rest In Peace, NASCAR as we knew it. Year of birth 1948, year of death 2017.

Friday, January 20, 2017

More Thoughts On The "Retro" Life Style

If you've been reading this blog since I first started it, you already know that I am a person who lives what I call a "retro" life style. By my best estimate, 90% of how I live my life every day is done the way people lived in the 1970s. The decor of my motel room and the products I use play a large part in that.

But, there's so much more involved. Living such a life style requires a commitment to have certain attitudes and behaviors, ones I do my best to adhere to every single day.

To live this way, you must be kind and courteous to others, even those who have wronged you. There are exceptions to this rule, of course. Someone who is mistreating you because of your race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or for any other thing that is perceived as "different" should be dealt with as the situation calls for. In other words, sometimes walking away is a good idea, and other times it is not. Injustice and inequality must be confronted head on, but the manner in which it is confronted varies from situation to situation.

Another thing you really should do is disconnect from the online world on a regular basis. Smart phones, tablets, and other such types of devices allow one to be connected at all times, if one chooses to be. For myself, personally, some of my best days are days when I limit my online time to just an hour or two. That's enough time to check the sites I read every day, and to read a few posts on a forum I subscribe to.

I should note that time spent listening to internet radio or watching streaming video, as far as I'm concerned, is pretty much the same as listening to over the air radio or watching television on an actual television set. I'm someone who grew up at a time when missing a new episode of a favorite show meant you had to wait until the summer and hope that it would be aired again as a repeat. Or, failing that, you would hope that one of your local stations would pick up the show once it went into syndication.

What I'm trying to say is this; that being able to rent a movie online for sometimes as little as 99 cents, or buy an episode of a show for $1.99. is a wonderful thing. It's something that I've come to love being able to do.

Is any of this making any sense? I certainly hope so.

Wishing you a good weekend,

Kevin Johnston

Saturday, January 14, 2017

We Interrupt Your Normallly Scheduled Programming

This post is being made in place of the one I had originally planned to put up today. That post is a perfectly nice one, but it's not as nearly important as this one. If the idea of reading a politically themed post here turns you off, that's fine. Come back in a day or two when I'll be talking about something more pleasant.

I am, nonetheless, asking you to read this all the way through.

Donald Trump will soon be our duly elected President. We need to resist his radical agenda from Day One. Anyone who truly believes that his presidency will be a normal one is a fool for thinking so. He is trying to ram through nominees who have not fully passed background checks. He insists on playing best friends with the Russians, and I believe that the Russians do have something on him that they are holding against him to gain his cooperation.

But let me set all that aside for a moment.  Do you want to know what kind of a man the 45th President is?

Do an internet search on Titan Atlas Global. What you will find is that this failed company owns a seven acre site in North Carolina that poses very real environmental hazards. The state has ordered a full clean up of the site. The company was about to default on a loan of $3.5 million when Donald Trump bought it, paid the loan and ceased operations. Mister Trump is refusing to pay for the clean up on the basis that he has no connection with the prior owner.

If he doesn't pay, the people of North Carolina, through the appropriate state agency, will pay.

The prior owner is Donald Trump, Jr. and, therefore, the claim of no connection is an out and out lie.

I have been saying, to anyone who will listen, for a very long time, that Donald Trump is a dishonest man.

Consider the Titan Atlas Global situation as one more piece of hard evidence that backs up my claim.

Or not. If you voted for him, and support him. you've made a conscious decision to just not care. There's not much I or anyone else can say at this time to change your mind until you decide to start caring.

* In all honesty, I must give credit to Rachel Maddow and her staff for covering this on her show *

Friday, January 13, 2017

What I've Been Doing Lately

Hello, dear reader. Since I last posted here, I've been dealing with a few different things. Locally, we had some very cold weather that kept me indoors for several days. I've also been doing more research on where I might relocate to.

But mostly, I've been giving myself a chance to calm down, to reflect and relax. I'm nine days away from my 51st birthday and I have a lot to think about.

I do have another post that is currently in draft form, which I will put up sometime tomorrow.

Best wishes to all,

Kevin Johnston

Monday, January 2, 2017

Five Products I Recommend

Life, I believe, is often made better by simple things that are inexpensive. They may be things we need, or things we want, but either way they make a difference. So, please let me recommend five products I use on a regular basis.

I have received no compensation for endorsing these. They may or may not be available in your area.

#1- Hershey's Simply Five Chocolate Syrup - This is the way to make really good chocolate milk. All this has in it is cane sugar, invert cane syrup, cocoa, water and natural vanilla.

#2- True Lemon Crystallized Lemon - This is great for adding some fresh flavor to water or tea, and also works very well in cooking. One packet equals one lemon wedge. This is sugar free, which makes it great for anyone who has diabetes as I do. It's all natural and very refreshing.

#3- Mrs. Myer's Clean Day dish washing soap - This is at least 97% natural. It's highly concentrated; one bottle lasts me two months. It has lavender oil in it. I use it to do dishes, dilute it for a nice fabric freshener, and I even use it as a hand soap.

#4- Kiwi Instant Wax Shine - This does a very nice job of quickly polishing and shining up shoes.

#5- Merriam-Webster's Dictionary And Thesaurus - This is the real deal. The name Webster's can legally be used by any publisher for a dictionary but this is the revised version based upon the 1831 version as created by Noah Webster.

In other matters, please accept my wishes for a good 2017.