Archive for November, 2009


Oprah’s Long Goodbye

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For someone who professes to hate goodbyes, Oprah Winfrey sure is hosting quite a long one.

Oprah’s TV show will vanish sometime in 2011, she says. I only wish we had this kind of warning BEFORE she arrived on the scene.

Oh, stop frowning and looking at me sideways. Oprah’s OK. She annoys me a little bit but she’s probably done more good than bad for folks in this cartoon of a country that we inhabit. I’m sure she’s a very nice woman, truth be told.

Time for a quick check of the iconic TV people over the years.

Johnny Carson: none of us did what Johnny told us to do, because that wasn’t his gig. He didn’t pontificate, he entertained. He mugged. He could crack us up with an arched eyebrow and a crooked mouth. But Carson was a ghost outside of his TV show. He was almost Howard Hughes-like in guarding his privacy. He championed no causes, endorsed no products, imparted no life lessons. No way of knowing if he was a Republican, a Democrat, or a Marxist. Johnny was just there to make us laugh every night at 11:30. That was it.

David Letterman: Letterman is perhaps the closest thing to Carson as there ever was, or ever will be: private, close to the vest, apolitical. No endorsements, no causes, either. Just glad to be a sounding board and a straight man to whoever happens to be sitting to his right every night.

Walter Cronkite, Ted Koppel, Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and the rest: Men we would trust with our liquor cabinet while on vacation. Personalities ranging from uncle-like (Cronkite) to wooden (Jennings) but in all instances, guys that were OK in our book—as long as they stuck to reading the news and giving us election results. Outside of that it could get clunky and awkward—and did on occasion.

Jay Leno: More of a person than Letterman and Carson. Jay let us know that he’s into cars, for one. He put on some free shows for the unemployed in Michigan, as a way to show support for the car industry. Even appeared in a movie, although in the worst way. Funny in a Bob Hope kind of way; you wonder if he’d be a cut up sans cue cards and pre-written material.

Oprah—she’s one of those who ascended to the one-word name, like Madonna or Johnny or Magic—changed the way TV personalities interacted with their public; I must grant her that. She doesn’t have fans, she has cultists. Oprah won’t just have someone on to promote a book—she’ll practically insist that her viewers read it. Like, right now. Immediately.

And she did all this without the benefit of prime time or late night. She’s one of the few TV personalities who carved out her niche while the sun was still out—soap opera stars notwithstanding.

But I still don’t like that she feels compelled to put herself on the cover of every issue of a magazine that bears her name.

Oprah helped to build a school in Africa for girls, though that wasn’t without some controversy, when it came to how those students were being treated by the faculty when no one was looking. But at least she didn’t take her sweet time responding to the reports of maltreatment.

Oprah’s OK. I’m a little put off by the way her fans follow her like wide-eyed puppy dogs but if that’s the worst thing, then maybe it’s not so bad after all.

And, she’s giving them plenty of time to say goodbye to her TV show.

Or is it vice-versa?

Reminds me of the last line of pitcher Jim Bouton’s famous tell-all book about baseball, “Ball Four.”

“You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball,” Bouton wrote, “and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.”

You see, Oprah Winfrey had her faithful in the palms of her hands for over two decades, but maybe it was the other way around all the time.

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Tiger Woods is finally being brought to his knees.

Augusta couldn’t do it. Pebble Beach, neither. Nor could any of the vaunted courses across the pond.

A four-stroke deficit on a Sunday doesn’t faze Woods, either. Having to get up and down from 45 yards away, his ball in a pile of thatch? Piece of cake.

But this isn’t the golf course, it’s the fish bowl of celebrity.

Woods, who was involved in a single-car crash just outside his home over the weekend, is playing this one like Greg Norman trying to hold on to a lead in a major on the final day.

Tiger is shanking them and his approach shots are plopping into water hazards.

Woods is hoping that the statement he released on his website will satiate those among us who are a tad curious—and that number is no doubt in the tens of millions, at least— about what went down, and why at 2:25 a.m. Saturday, when Woods smashed into a fire hydrant and then a tree with his Cadillac.

The statement takes responsibility for the crash—duh, it was a single car mishap right out of the driveway; who ELSE’S fault would it be?—and praises the actions of wife Elin Nordegren, who according to reports used a golf club (I imagine there are a few of those lying around the Woods house, huh?) to smash the windshield so she could help extricate her husband from the vehicle.

The statement also apologized for the embarrassment the incident has caused, and it vowed that it will never happen again.

Bounding out of your driveway, ramming into a fire hydrant and then careening off a tree? I would hope not!

Sorry, Tiger—not enough. Your statement was a 75-yard chip shot when you’re 90 yards away from the green.

Tiger left this one short, alright. Now he needs to blast out of some serious rough, just to save bogey.

What was conspicuous by its absence was any REAL explanation of what happened late Friday night/early Saturday morning. Woods chided rumors and the irresponsibility of some of the sensationalistic reporting of the incident, yet did nothing to stop either—unless he fancies himself living in some fantasy land where folks take everything celebrities say at face value.

Was he popping out to the store for a late night Haagen Dazs run for his wife? Did he run out of Doritos?

The number of viable, explicable reasons why one leaves his/her home at 2:30 in the morning doesn’t create a very large cache. Unless Tiger took a graveyard shift to earn some extra dough, then we know he wasn’t on his way to work, either.

Why not come clean? Woods has, at press time, canceled three separate interview requests made by state troopers who want to ask, basically, “Hey, what happened?”

And the troopers are giving Tiger a wide berth here. Next time you or me or Joe Shmoe try to put off cops trying to investigate an incident at our home, see what happens.

Tiger Woods is the Muhammad Ali of his time, in that he’s recognizable worldwide. He’s iconic, and his mere being transcends golf, and even the entire world of sport. So when he crashes his car at 2:30 in the morning when no one else is around, it’d be nice to know what the hell went down.

The rumors, meanwhile, continue to swirl like the wind at Candlestick Park.

Tiger and Elin had a fight. Tiger stormed out. If that’s true, then good thing she used the golf club to smash the windshield and not his skull.

Tiger’s having an affair and was setting out for a late night tryst. If that’s true, see above re: Elin and the golf club.

The rumors that Woods derides, however, are like any vegetation: they need fertile ground in which to germinate. And it doesn’t get much more fertile than silence and cryptic “statements” that say everything yet answer nothing.

You’d think Tiger would know this. His whole life has been spent in the fish bowl, just about. You’d think he’d know how to handle an incident like this as if it was a par-4 at the Buick Open.

But Tiger is stumbling and bumbling. He’s making a mess of this hole.

Meanwhile, the vegetation of rumor and innuendo is climbing, like a vine, around his life. And that stuff grows fast.

He ought to know that.

Categories : Out of Bounds
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I’m going to make a preemptive strike here. An end-around, if you will, to head them off at the pass.

I’m getting my own iron hot. Not enough time to wait for others to reach the proper temp.

This is for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and those who would petition him on their behalf.

Keep your stinking paws off our Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit.

Maybe the rumblings have already started. Maybe I’m not the early bird that I think I am.

The Lions lost, 34-12, on Thursday to the Green Bay Packers. That’s what the Lions do anymore on Thanksgiving—they lose by scores like 34-12. It’s been so bad lately that 34-12 is actually one of the better ones, truth be told.

That’s six straight losses on Turkey Day. And those outside of our fair city are crying fowl.

It began a few years ago, when the Lions were starting a new tradition of getting the stuffing beat out of them on Thanksgiving.

“Take the Thanksgiving Day away from the Lions and give it to a team more deserving—or at least one that’s easier on the stomach.”

One of the biggest instigators was the late Lamar Hunt, the erstwhile owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, who whined yearly about the Lions and their Thanksgiving tradition.

Rotate the game, Lamar said. Let other teams get in on the fun. Other teams like his, for example.

The movement gained momentum. Hunt garnered more and more support, until it was forgotten by many that it was Hunt’s idea in the first place. You could almost see the pitchforks and torches gathering in front of the league office.

Hunt, among other things, thought that the quick turnaround from Sunday to Thursday benefited the Lions, who were used to doing it, so therefore they must have some sort of an advantage.


The Lions, after their latest Thanksgiving Day turkey, are now 33-35-2 on the holiday. Yeah—that’s some advantage, alright. They really clean up on Thanksgiving, don’t they?

The NFL went out and started scheduling its own Thanksgiving Night game on its own network, but that still hasn’t stopped the moaning about the 12:30 kickoff in Detroit.

At issue is the Lions as a team, not a franchise. It’s nothing personal, the pitchforkers and torchers say. They’d just rather see a better brand of football at 12:30.

Well join the club!

So here’s my scientific, heavily-researched, highly analytical response to that argument.

Tough cookies!

We have precious few football traditions in Detroit. If we didn’t host a couple of Super Bowls, the Vince Lombardi Trophy wouldn’t have even crossed the state line.

Hell, we don’t even have Matt Millen to rip anymore, so there goes one of our pastimes, right there.

Yeah, the Lions are bad—been bad for this entire century, so far. The Lions wear bad like rice wears white. No argument there.

So you don’t like them soiling your television set from 12:30-4:00 p.m. eastern time every Thanksgiving Day? Then turn the channel, or turn the TV off and talk with your family—until the Cowboys come on. Or plan the meal for that time slot. I’m sure you can manage.

There’s this, too: WE have to watch them, so why should YOU be any different? Who died and made you Kings of Football?

You don’t seem to understand. This is all we have here in Detroit when it comes to the Lions. Every year, when the new NFL schedule is released, the first thing we do is ask, “Who’s the Thanksgiving opponent this year?” The second thing we do is get our magnifying glasses out and look for possible wins for the Lions on the team’s agenda—and squint realllllly hard.

That’s pretty much it—for now.

I don’t care that the Lions stink. I don’t care that they’ve been the Washington Generals to the other team’s Harlem Globetrotters for the past six years. I don’t care that the game starts at 12:30 and the outcome is usually decided by 1:00.

The game is ours. Period. The ritual started in 1934, so that means we’re now in our second great economic depression of providing pro football on Thanksgiving Day.

Besides, you have your precious rotating game on the NFL Network during prime time, so shutty.

You think the Green Bay Packers want to take the game away from the Lions? Thursday’s stinker makes two shellackings they’ve laid on the Lions in the past three years. I’m surprised they haven’t called dibs on it by now.

Thanksgiving Day is special in Detroit. It’s enjoying the parade in the morning, then traipsing to Ford Field to watch the Lions get whacked in the afternoon. Then it’s back home to have dinner in the evening and bitch about how the Lions got whacked in the afternoon.

And you’d take that away from us?

Look, all I know is that I don’t recall any blubbering about this game until Millen took over the Lions and turned them into a punch line. Talk about kicking a team’s fan base while it’s down.

Finally, as much as I hate to invoke Bill Ford Sr. as a heroic figure, the truth is that the NFL owes a whole lot to the Ford family. They pumped big time advertising dollars, via Ford Motor Company, into the league in the 1960s and ‘70s, when it was sorely needed.

So quit your moaning and get your grubby hands away from our Thanksgiving Day game.

We wouldn’t even know what to do with ourselves at 12:30. If you met some of our families, you’d see how attractive the Lions look, too.

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Friday’s Favs: The Best of “Enotes”

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(Note: every Friday I’ll post a favorite rant from the archives)

from April 28, 2009

Motionly Disturbed

It’s taking me longer to go to the bathroom nowadays, and I blame technology.

I’m not talking about going to the bathroom at home. That’s always taken me a long time, mainly because I treat the rest room like a library. That is, if they ever allowed toilets on the floor of a library.

But that’s a long time that I choose to take. It’s a guy thing, but the bathroom is a safe haven, a reading room for men.

It’s public restrooms that are starting to waste more and more of my time.

First, unlike the throne at home, which I’m in no hurry to leave, I can’t wait to get my tush out of a public lav. The thought of what sort of scientific creepy-crawlies that are clinging to every wall and faucet and door handle in there doesn’t lend itself to me wanting to spend anymore time there than is absolutely necessary.

But here’s why it’s taking so long nowadays: all the fancy-shmancy motion detectors.

Today’s modern public restroom is discouraging you from touching anything inside it. Which on the surface sounds like a grand idea, but in disallowing human contact, it’s relying on the motion detectors, which seem to be unable to do one key thing: detect motion properly.

It starts when you enter the stall, or (for the guys) approach the urinal. No handles to be found, which means the porcelain God must acknowledge your presence once you finish your business.

In the stall, you stand, and wait for the detector to detect that your rump is no longer pressing on the seat. For that’s the only clue it uses to signal for a flushing.

So you stand. Nothing. Now, I suppose you could let your waste sit there for the next poor slob, but that’s not very nice. So you sit, and try to re-create the whole “I’m done so I’m going to stand now” moment for the detector.

Rinse. Repeat.

Same thing at the stall. The detector is supposed to signal for the flusher after you’ve walked away. But ha! — you walk away and nothing happens. This is a little trickier to replicate than the standing up thing.

Time to refresh the detector’s memory.

“Remember? I came up to you and stood here, like this…..(physically re-creating the action)…then I peed, and I walked away, like THIS….(walking away). Remember?

“Now flush, damn you!”

Business-doing has now taken twice the amount of time than it should have, and now you’re ready to wash your hands. Again, I suppose you could….

Don’t you dare!

Wash your hands. Dammit.

But alas, no faucet handles. Just a faucet. The eunuch of all sink fixtures.

The fancy-shmancy detector is supposed to know when you’ve thrust your hands beneath the faucet, so that it will dispense water. How much water, and at what temperature, is anyone’s guess. Sometimes it’s a short blast, sometimes it’s a gentle shower, sometimes it’s…not at all.

That third option is what usually happens.

So again we’re back to re-performing our physical actions for the very technologically advanced and very expensive motion detector, which is why the price of restaurant food has been going up, I’m sure.

Good for you if you’re able to get your allotment of water on anything less than the third try. And even better if your allotment is enough to get both your hands entirely wet, so that you may wash them.

Which leads me to….

The soap.

Remember–no human contact allowed.

Several waves of your hand under the dispenser before you find the right speed, angle, and motion. But, just like the water, no telling how much soap you’ll be rationed.

So now we have barely wet hands, traces of soap, and with that we’re expected to wash our hands competently.

Which leads me to…

Drying your hands.


Look ma — no handles!

More hand waving until the motion detector-equipped dryer kicks on. In fact, you might find that the hand waving dries your damp hands (remember, you weren’t rationed all that much water and soap to begin with) faster than the damn dryer.

Note: Some less fancy-shmancy bathrooms may have paper towels instead of dryers. But these, too, are connected to motion detectors, which instruct the gizmo when to whirr and spit out a 4″ x 5″ piece of brown paper, which isn’t enough to wipe your brow, much less dry your hands. Which means precious time spent coaxing four or five pieces of brown paper from it.

OK, so you’ve made it through Motion Detector Hell, and you’re ready to leave. A three-minute trip to the bathroom is now on its tenth minute, most likely.

No human contact, to decrease the chances of germs spreading.

The only thing you need to touch is the door handle.

Which the person ahead of you has just touched–after being so disgusted with Motion Detector Hell that no hand-washing was done.


Categories : Enotes
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Stafford’s Legendary Tale Gets Re-written by Packers

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Cinderella’s coach really did turn back into a pumpkin. Hansel and Gretel got caught, after all. None of the pigs got around to building a joint out of brick.

John Elway’s legend is safe once again. Whoever sculpts those busts for Canton needn’t rush out to procure a head shot of Matthew Stafford at his earliest convenience.

Cloud Nine just touched down. The bandwagon came to a screeching halt. After one game.

If rookie quarterbacks were stock on the New York Exchange, their chart would look like an EKG readout.

On Sunday, Stafford won a game for the Lions. Damaged wing and all. Real storybook stuff. Someone dared to disturb Bobby Layne’s ghost over it.

Four days later, the re-set button got hit, taking his progression back to the hot July days of training camp.

On Sunday, the kid threw five touchdown passes. It usually takes a Lions QB half a season to do that. On Thursday, he had a fetish of throwing to the wrong guys. Four interceptions, and it could have been more. Each one of them was a killer.

The rookie quarterback gives and he takeths away. Within four days, sometimes.

Stafford tried to pen another chapter in the tiny legend he’s trying to author as a first-year signal caller in the NFL.

His tender left shoulder was so bad after Sunday’s game that the idea of him playing on Thanksgiving Day seemed folly.

The days of the short week passed and after each one, the diagnosis was the same: doubtful. Highly.

Backup Daunte Culpepper arrived at Ford Field Thursday morning thinking he was the starter. He had taken all the reps with the first team. Stafford’s left wing was still limp.

But a funny thing happened, though the humor was lost on Culpepper.

Stafford threw some footballs Thursday during warmups, and suddenly things weren’t so bad. The doctors, abiding to the script, agreed that Stafford playing wouldn’t cause any further damage. It was deemed to be a “pain management issue.”

So Stafford is announced as the starter not long before game time, and Culpepper was probably the only person in the stadium who was disappointed with that determination.

But someone forgot to send the script over to the Green Bay Packers for their approval.

After an early hiccup—a fumbled opening kickoff that led to a Stafford-to-Calvin Johnson TD toss—the Packers regained control and jammed Stafford’s next chapter into the paper shredder.

If you played a drinking game where you had to take a shot of booze whenever Troy Aikman said something like, “That’s part of the development of a rookie quarterback,” you’d be reading this with a hangover. But Troy’s right, and he ought to know. Aikman suffered through a 1-15 season with the 1989 Cowboys, in which he went 0-11 as a starter.

I tried my hand at playing soothsayer on Monday’s episode of “The Knee Jerks,” the Blog Talk Radio gabfest I co-host with Big Al Beaton.

Stafford could very well, I said, go back to being the goat as soon as on Thanksgiving Day, because that’s what happens with these young whippersnappers. They waddle then they fall down sometimes.

I’m not right all that often, but I picked a helluva time to be spot on.

The loss on Thursday wasn’t all on the kid, though.

Once again, the Lions’ pass rushers treated the opposing quarterback as if he’d had a garlic sandwich before the game, topped with limburger.

I think I saw Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, prior to rocketing a 68-yard bomb to Donald Driver in the first quarter, have a shave and brush his teeth. Or maybe the rules were that the Lions’ pass rushers had to count to 20-Mississippi, and they got stuck on 11 or 12.

Once again, the Lions were the antidote to what ailed the other team. The Packers have had trouble all season protecting Rodgers, who came into the game being sacked once for every 8.9 pass attempts. That rate was one for every 39 passing attempts on Thursday.

It wasn’t just that the Lions didn’t sack Rodgers; they didn’t even get within shouting distance of him. They made him more comfortable in the pocket than a set of car keys.

The Lions’ secondary needs all the help it can get, and it’s not getting it from the front four. The pass coverage is softer than Charmin, and it’s being made to look even worse because of the complete lack of pressure from the pass rushers.

So it’s not all on Stafford, but there will still be afternoons where he’s no help, as on Thursday, and at Seattle, and against the Rams.

All part of the development of a rookie quarterback, right?

Ha! Now you have to take a shot.

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Time to give thanks. I suppose I can muster up the will to do that. It’s only once a year, after all.

So, here goes…

I’m thankful for Army-Navy, even though I never watch it.

I’m thankful for Brandon Inge.

I’m thankful that a football is shaped the way it is, because you never know how it’s going to bounce. Other balls are so predictable that way.

I’m thankful for outdoor stadiums.

I’m thankful for the mute button.

I’m thankful for the Original Six.

I’m thankful for left-handed golfers because they look so cool.

I’m thankful for a well-timed 6-4-3.

I’m thankful for Nick Lidstrom.

I’m thankful for fake kicks, because they’re so rare.

I’m thankful for NFL Films.

I’m thankful for tabletop baseball games, so I can play a summer’s game on a cold winter’s night.

I’m thankful for anyone named Igor, or last names that start with Z.

I’m thankful for players who have the courage to wear number 13.

I’m thankful for Vyacheslav being shortened to Slava.

I’m thankful for the quick slant on a key third down.

I’m thankful for no timeouts remaining for either team in an NBA game.

I’m thankful for sudden death overtime in the Stanley Cup playoffs, even if my heart isn’t.

I’m thankful for Tony Dungy.

I’m thankful for having seen every one of Barry Sanders’ ten seasons.

I’m thankful for my photo with Ernie Harwell, our arms over each other’s shoulder, and showing it to Ernie sometime later and him saying, “Well, who are THOSE two handsome fellas?”

I’m thankful for George Kell and “They’re waaaaaaaving him in!!”

I’m thankful for whoever first thought of pulling the goalie.

I’m thankful for kick returners who run it out from five yards deep in the end zone.

I’m thankful for doglegs right because that’s how I hit them anyway.

I’m thankful for the flag they run up at Wrigley Field after every Cubs’ game: W or L, depending on the result. So quaint, so simple.

I’m thankful for the squeak of sneakers on the basketball floor.

I’m thankful for scoreboard watching in September.

I’m thankful for Canton, Ohio. And Cooperstown, New York.

I’m thankful for

I’m thankful for stand-up triples.

I’m thankful for Dr. J.

I’m thankful for TV showing us the play clock winding down.

I’m thankful for Don Criqui.

I’m thankful for football in the snow and baseball in a light rain.

I’m thankful that the Yankees have the arrogance to omit the names from their jerseys.

I’m thankful that the Red Wings and Tigers have pretty much the same uniforms as they did during the Truman Administration.

I’m thankful for Bruce Martyn and “He shoots, he SCORES!”

I’m thankful for “Hockey Night in Canada,” even though I can’t get it on my dish.

I’m thankful for the Canadian National Anthem.

I’m thankful for seeing-eye singles.

I’m thankful for a basketball block from behind.

I’m thankful for “the ground can’t cause a fumble.”

I’m thankful for tape-to-tape passes.

I’m thankful for Bo and Woody.

I’m thankful for knuckleballers.

I’m thankful for Madison Square Garden, because it’s still one of our finest sports palaces.

I’m thankful for boxing in Yankee Stadium, the Beatles in Olympia, and hockey at Wrigley Field.

I’m thankful for the Red Wings’ New Year’s Eve games. Did you know that Christmas Day at Olympia was a tradition, too, until the players squawked too much?

I’m thankful for a backhand stab at third base and a gun to nip the runner at first.

I’m thankful for good free throw shooters—and bad ones, if they’re on the other team.

I’m thankful for Canadian football, because linebackers wear no. 71 and wide receivers wear no. 37 and quarterbacks wear no. 23.

I’m thankful for the two-point conversion.

I’m thankful for medium deep fly balls with a runner on third base, because you know there’s going to be a whale of a play at home plate.

I’m thankful for Ann Arbor on a crisp fall Saturday, Joe Louis Arena on a warm June evening, and Comerica Park on a chilly April afternoon.

I’m thankful for Mike Babcock.

I’m thankful for the hip check, because no one throws them anymore.

I’m thankful for a well-executed screen pass.

I’m thankful for the circus catch.

I’m thankful for Mays, Mantle, and Snider all in New York at the same time.

I’m thankful for whoever invented slow motion replays.

I’m thankful for a fastball down the middle on 3-and-0.

I’m thankful for the trap play.

I’m thankful for pinstripes.

I’m thankful for basketball coaches who coach sitting down.

I’m thankful for spaghetti. I know it’s not sports but I like it so much.

I’m thankful for a wife who has put up with me, and my games, for 17 years.

I’m thankful that you’ve read this far.

Happy Turkey Day everyone!


Oh, Donny Boy

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Donny Osmond had an unfair advantage as a contestant on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars”: he had way more experience beating the odds than those whippersnappers who were his fellow finalists.

Osmond, about to turn 52, came away with the garish trophy last night on “Dancing,” beating out Kelly Osbourne and Mya, two women whose combined ages barely exceed his own.

I was thrilled for Osmond—while also being very proud of Osbourne, by the way, who really showed me something, and not just me. Who knew that Ozzy could have spawned something so vivacious?

It’s not a generational thing, either (I’m 46). I wanted Osmond to win because he deserves all the mainstream recognition he can get, and then some.

Perhaps no entertainer in my lifetime has been stereotyped as badly as Donny Osmond. Or as tormented, both by others and by himself.

He’s a man who sunk to the depths of his profession and was derided for it—often times unmercifully. And drugs weren’t even involved. Not that they weren’t considered.

In the mid-1980s, his career teetering on the brink of extinction—because that’s what happens to teen idols—Osmond’s “people” suggested a drug bust. No joke.

“They wanted to concoct some sort of phony drug arrest,” Osmond once said on Larry King’s show. The reasoning? Something that George Bernard Shaw once said.

“The only thing worse than being talked about, is NOT being talked about.”

So a fake drug bust was considered—both to bring Osmond back into the public’s consciousness, and to maybe make him “cool” to those who thought him to be too bubblegum.

But Osmond, a good Mormon kid with too much respect for his burgeoning family and for himself, said absolutely not. If we’re going to play this hand in a winning fashion, we’re going to play it straight, is what he basically said.

We have a funny habit in this country when it comes to our celebrities. We build them up and tear them down. And in no nook or cranny of the industry is this more prevalent than in the matter of kid stars who have the audacity to pursue their careers as adults.

The Cassidy boys couldn’t manage it—David and Shaun. Neither could Leif Garrett. You can see what’s happening to Lindsay Lohan, only I dare you to witness it without one eye closed. Dana Plato was reduced to making soft porn and living in a trailer.

Do I need to go on?

But Donny Osmond persevered and made it into his 30s without being arrested, blackballed, or a clerk at the 7-Eleven. He made it without going nuts. But it was close.

His family fortune was lost in some bad business deals while he was in his early 20s. I mean, totally gone. His TV show with sister Marie got canceled. The brothers weren’t being booked for concerts anymore. He went solo and that eventually dried up pretty quick, too.

Washed up, almost, before his 30th birthday. Another cautionary tale. Another candidate for one of those “Whatever happened to?” specials.

That’s when Donny’s people suggested the phony drug arrest.

Maybe all that praying did some good, because suddenly Osmond hit it big with a song called “Soldier of Love,” which rocketed up the charts, circa the late-1980s.

Donny Osmond was a paradox, because he was selling records again but his reputation still stunk.

Not among the ladies, of course, but by the sniping, vicious media folks who looked at him and saw not a comeback story but an annoyance they thought had died off.

What’s he doing back? Doesn’t he know that once the heartthrob reaches legal drinking age, he’s finished?

I don’t know who said it, but he ought to be ashamed of himself.

“The saddest day in music history,” the bile-filled person sneered, “was the day Donny Osmond was born.”

I only know that someone said that because I heard it—from Donny Osmond.

He related the horrifying quote during an interview—maybe it was also with King—and he choked up when he said it. Wouldn’t you?

I don’t know what it was about Donny Osmond that got so many people angry at him. I don’t know why so many wanted him to fail again and go away, this time for good. I don’t know how someone who never cheated on his wife, who never embarrassed his profession, who never sniped at anyone else, who never ran afoul of the law, riled so many people up.

Thank goodness for the ones who stood by him. Read: the ladies.

Never underestimate the power of the female entertainment fan, my friend.

Donny Osmond’s fan base was, and always will be, an estrogen-laced one. His concert venues don’t even need the men’s room to be unlocked.

The women didn’t care what the predominantly male critics were saying about their Donny. They just plowed forward, buying his albums and filling his concert halls.

Maybe it’s the name, Donny. Maybe that sounds too juvenile for a 50+ year-old man. Perhaps he should have changed it to Don. Like Ricky-turned-Rick Schroeder.

Too late now, of course.

He did some Broadway, and did it very well, as part of his career recovery. He played the title character in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” his signature stage role—for years.

Yet he did it under the radar, so to speak. The women were always there, of course, and that only made him more in the background. Performers whose fan base is so heavily weighted toward one gender over the other never quite get that mainstream credibility.

To many, he was still just an adolescent entertainer who was getting old, adored by once-adolescent girls who were also aging. Nothing more than that.

Well, while the men ignored him and scoffed at him, Donny Osmond simply became one of the finest entertainers the baby boomer age has ever seen.

It was proven, once again, by his 10-week turn on “Dancing.”

Donny won the contest because he deserved to win it. End of story. Any other outcome would have been robbery of the highest order.

It really wasn’t fair, in the end. Osmond outperformed his competition because he’s been entertaining since he was in kindergarten. He and his sis played Vegas for quite a long run and you don’t do that if you don’t know how to give the people what they want.

Donny gave the people—and the judges—what they wanted and he did it more consistently than all the others competing. Because that’s what he’s always done. Mya and Kelly were terrific, no question. But Donny was better—and he’s old enough to be both of their fathers.

My wife, certainly biased but speaking objectively this time, stated it plainly.

Donny ended up being the most talented of all the Osmond brood, she said.

I agree, and that’s saying something, because if you placed the Osmond clan in Rhode Island, they’d threaten to nudge the population into Connecticut.

Donny Osmond, more than any of the kid entertainers of his time, made something of himself. He’s had to do it, in fact, a few times.

So did Kelly Osbourne and Mya really have a chance, after all?

Categories : Enotes, Entertainment
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Last Night on “The Knee Jerks”: A Football Extravaganza!

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First, a semi-major announcement: “The Knee Jerks” will be moving up a couple of hours!

Beginning December 14, you’ll be able to get your jerkosity two hours earlier. The show will debut its new 9:00-11:00 ET time slot, so everyone can get some sleep on Monday nights!

The Michigan Wolverines and MSU Spartans just finished their football seasons, so it was the perfect time to do a post-mortem. Our guests were Andy Reid, sports editor of the Michigan Daily (U’M’s student newspaper) and Bleacher Report’s  Nick Mordowanec, who writes about MSU frequently.

Andy and Nick provided us with solid analysis of U-M and MSU, respectively, along with taking a look ahead at both programs’ futures. Big Al almost totally stopped Andy in his tracks when he asked him whether he thought Rich Rodriguez was the right man for Michigan. I guess you’ll just have to listen to find out what Andy finally said in response!

After talking college football, Al and I turned our attention to the pro game—specifically, the Lions’ improbable 38-37 win over Cleveland, a.k.a. the Coming Out of Matthew Stafford.

Thirty minutes later, we drifted over to the Red Wings and the latest injury—to defenseman Niklas Kronwall, thanks to a dirty, knee-on-knee hit by Montreal’s George Laraque.

The Pistons then made a rare appearance on “The Jerks,” for about five minutes of garbage time!

But that’s OK—the Pistons will be the focus of our show next week!

As always, we closed with a flurry, in the form of our “Jerks of the Week.”

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, for updates on scheduled guests, time changes, etc.

Upcoming guests/topics:

Nov. 30: Guest(s) TBD (Pistons-related)
Dec. 7: NHL Central roundtable with Bleacher Report writers from Columbus, Chicago, Nashville, and St. Louis
Dec. 14: Gregory Shamus, one of the best sports photographers you’ll ever know (Getty Images, Pittsburgh Penguins, Red Wings, Cleveland Cavaliers, and others); don’t forget—this will be our first 9:00 show!

Some highlights from Monday’s show:

Big Al

On Matthew Stafford: “This was like a Disney film! Like a script! At least it looks like the Lions have found their answer at quarterback and now they can turn their attention to other things.”

On the NHL suspension of Laraque for five games: “You almost want to go to an ‘eye for an eye’ way of punishment. Five games was ridiculous.”

On the Pistons: “(Coach) John Kuester is really hamstrung because he doesn’t have Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince. But there’s no way they’re going to win anywhere close to 50 games.”


On the Lions: “I don’t think they’ll lay an egg on Thanksgiving. Maybe they can build on Sunday’s win, but they’ve never come off a win like that before.”

On the NHL: “Once again they’ve put themselves in a trick box. The five-game suspension is too low. It should have been 15, 20 games. They’ve set a bad precedent.”

On the Pistons: “I like this rookie Jonas Jerebko. He’s not a true starter, but he’s getting invaluable experience against other teams’ No. 1 units.”

You can listen to the episode by clicking below!

Categories : Greg on the radio
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City, City Bang Bang

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The late, great sportswriter Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times used to be one of the best at skewering towns across this great country. I haven’t been to nearly as many burgs in the United States as Murray visited during his wonderful career, but I HAVE been to my share of cities around Metro Detroit and outstate…

We’ll start with Pontiac, which would be a terrific town—if this was 1956. When a bus stops in Pontiac, everyone gets on, no one gets off. There’s a road somewhere called Pontiac Trail, which isn’t so much a street name as it is a warning. The overall mood is like a drab winter’s day, only worse. The town is full of ghosts of businesses past. The city would make a mint if they erected toll booths at the borders and charged people to leave.

Then there’s Taylor, where half the population is in-bred. More people sleep with their teeth in a glass than in their head. It’s a great place to go if you’re a producer for “The Jerry Springer Show.” The official city song is “Dixie.” After driving through Taylor, you have to change your clothes to get rid of the bacon stench. They park more cars on the front lawn than a valet at the mall during Christmas season. It’s so bad that Southgate makes fun of it.

I used to live in Warren, where the only thing more crooked than the politicians are the police. If they didn’t have the GM Tech Center, the city’s IQ would drop like a lead balloon. The home of the brick ranch. Houses weren’t built in Warren, they were pressed. Even Wal-Mart high-tailed it out of town. Warren has more motels and gas stations than the Ohio Turnpike. The next good night out in Warren will be the first. The city has as much culture and enrichment as Benton Harbor on a bad day.

I grew up in Livonia, the whitest city in America. You’ll see grains of rice that are darker. The welcome mat for new residents includes a DNA kit. It’s the only city I know where you have to pass a genealogy test before you can move in. They tried to bring Broadway-like entertainment to Livonia via the George Burns Theater, but the residents liked their tri-levels more than culture so it closed. The problem with Livonia is that there’s nothing to do after 10:00—in the morning. Livonia is where you go if you want to see what the demographic of Detroit was like in 1944. The biggest attraction is the Awrey Bakery. By the way, when was the last time you saw any Awrey Bakery items on your grocer’s shelves?

I live all-too-close to Royal Oak, which thinks it’s Greenwich Village’s long lost brother. It’s a great town to people watch in—if you’re Diane Arbus. There are more freaks strolling the streets of Royal Oak than all the circuses of this country combined. The real estate and homes are more overpriced than Nordstrom’s. Royal Oak is a wonderful place, if you’re into paying $1,400 a month for a 900 square foot bungalow. $1,700 if you want a bathroom. Royal Oak borders Ferndale, which is like Boy George bordering Clay Aiken.

Off I-275, around Ford Road, is a city called Canton, which is where to go if you ever wondered what Canton, Ohio would look like without the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Canton wasn’t founded, it sprouted. Like a weed. Canton is four shopping centers, 10 strip malls, and a Meijer’s. If it was a movie, it’d be “The Stepford Wives.” No one goes to Canton unless they have a shopping list. You wonder if the residents are only living there because someone has something on them. Canton is as intoxicating as alcohol-free beer.

Then there’s Southfield, which isn’t a town, it’s one big freeway exchange. People only pass through Southfield because it’s on the way to someplace far more fun and interesting. It’s the only city around that’s so stuck up it named a freeway after itself. Someone should tell them. Southfield has it all, if you’re planning on spending no more than an hour. The city has more concrete than Manhattan and less pizazz than Al Gore. Southfield is a perfect place to live if you want to keep your smart, cultured, refined friends away from you.

So…where do YOU live?

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It’ll be a cornucopia of football tonight on “The Knee Jerks,” the weekly Blog Talk Radio gabfest I co-host with Big Al Beaton of The Wayne Fontes Experience .

Tonight we’ll give post-mortems on the recently completed U-M and MSU football regular seasons, with help from Andy Reid, sports editor of the Michigan Daily (U’M's student newspaper) and B/R’s own Nick Mordowanec, who writes about MSU frequently.

Al and I will also give our takes on the Lions’ thrilling, improbable win yesterday against the Browns.

It all starts at 11 PM ET LIVE. The chat room will be open!

Go to and register. It only takes a minute and then you can join us in the chat room.

Categories : Greg on the radio
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