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Monday, July 31, 2006

I'M GOING TO DEL MAR TO COOL OFF!

by Jim McAllister

Del Mar, California is one of the really nice places in this world. It’s nice to escape the hot climes of Arizona for a week at this time of year and enjoy the beach, the race track, and the nice restaurants in Del Mar. "California, here I come" starting tomorrow!.....Harvey MacKay writes this week about the importance of manners, in particular when it comes to RSVP invitations. It amazes me how so many people these days have no clue about the importance of the RSVP notation on an invitation. Many have no idea what it even means and others are too rude to care. For the uninformed, RSVP is French for "respondez s’il vous plait" which simply means "let us know one way or the other if you are coming." Is that so difficult? Email or pick up the phone, contact the inviter, and say "Yes" I will attend" or "No", I can’t make it but thanks anyway."
Manners are sorely lacking in this country anymore and it is not just because of the RSVP situation. In the busy and selfish world we live in, many parents are too busy to teach their kids those important values that many of us learned in childhood not that long ago. Hence, you see people eating in restaurants with hats on, men stepping in front of women getting on and off elevators, and other actions that would not have happened a couple of generations ago.....
MATT LEINART...The first round
draft pick of the Arizona Cardinals.
He is still unsigned as of 7-31.
(boifromtroy)
I see where the Phoenix Mercury of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) has been basically eliminated from the league playoffs by losing last night. I’ll take a short pause while you weep over that sad news. I admire the athletic ability of these girls just like I admire the ability of soccer players but, as I have said many times, who cares?.....Here we go again with the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL. This is the time of year when training camp begins in cool Flagstaff and is also the time when the Cards fail to have their number one draft pick on hand because of the inability to sign him. This year it is Matt Leinart, the Heisman trophy winner from Southern Cal and personal friend of Paris Hilton. Maybe that is the reason for the stall in negotiations, they don’t want Paris hanging around Flagstaff. I’m sure the reason is the usual one: MONEY! Hey, Cardinals: With the new stadium you are going to make a fortune this year. Cough up the dough and this get this show on the road!.....
STARBUCKS original store in Seattle, Washington.
They bring new meaning to "ubiquitous." (Starbucks)
Bill Gates is a brilliant guy, so are Dell, Ballmer, Wozniak, and all the other guys that have made a fortune with computers. However, they pale in comparison to the guy who thought up Starbucks. I don’t even know his name and I’m not going to bother researching it. All I know is he took a cup of coffee and turned it into a fortune with one of the most successful companies around. He understood the yuppie culture, that constant need to be "hip" and be involved in what is "yuppie cool". Think about it: what could be more mundane than a cup of coffee? If you can sell that idea to the world I would love to see your ability at selling something that is meaningful.....Speaking of Dell Computers, you could almost pull off a sitcom on the gyrations one has to go through with their customer service department. Like most companies, Dell outsources a lot of their jobs including customer service which has been handed to the citizens of India. These folks are very nice, congenial, and helpful. There is only one problem: they are very hard to understand. If you call them two items will come in handy: an extension phone and a person on the extension that speaks the Indian language. Otherwise, you will be better off using their chat room on the Dell site as their spelling is much easier to understand than their accented English.....I see where Ken Jennings of "Jeopardy!" fame from last year, has posted a statement on his blog that is not too complimentary to the show and host Alex Trebek. He says that Alex is like a robot and that the show has gotten stale. He also criticizes the set saying that they don’t do enough to update it every year. I hope the check cleared for the millions he won on that great show before he decided to spout off. He is entitled to his opinion but isn’t his opinion a bit like biting the hand that feeds him?.....Paul McCartney has filed the papers for his divorce from Heather. He should have known better than to marry her in the first place, she was too young and headstrong for him. The May-December thing is a tough sell but his biggest mistake was no pre-nup. He is worth about 1 ½ billion bucks, at least for now. Yes, Paul, you are 64.....
JOE DIMAGGIO in his prime. The "Yankee
Clipper" hit safely in 56 straight games
during May to July of 1941. He
went hitless in one game then hit
safely in 14 in a row. (Art.com)
"Dead or Alive", one of my favorite online sites, has a section for people to leave memories of meeting celebrities. My memory is of meeting baseball great Joe DiMaggio. It was 1974 in Chicago at McCormick Place during the Housewares Show. Joe had just begun his duties as spokesman for Mr. Coffee and as I walked by his booth, I saw him standing alone looking resplendent in a blue suit, white shirt, and tie. I did a double take as this guy was an idol to me. After all, he had been married to Marilyn Monroe and hit safely in 56 straight games in the same lifetime! I introduced myself and was pleased with his demeanor and manners as he autographed a picture for me with, "To Jim McAllister, Best wishes, Joe DiMaggio." I still have that photo framed on my office wall. Those were more innocent days. I’m sure that today Joe would be surrounded by opportunists trying to grab an autograph for its monetary value.....Thanks for stopping by, see you after Del Mar! JM (Comments, Questions? azjimmcallister@cox.net)

Monday, July 24, 2006

VIEWS FROM AN INTERESTED OBSERVER

by Jim McAllister

Quickie movie review: THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, (1:46, PG13), Starring Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Stanley Tucci). This sounds like a "woman’s movie" but it should be appealing to everyone if for no other reason than the performance of Meryl Streep as fashion magazine editor Miranda Priestly. Hathaway plays Andy Sachs, a recent graduate of Northwestern University, who goes to work for "Runway", a top fashion magazine. Her job is to be the assistant to the unbelievably demanding and temperamental Miranda. Since Andy hasn’t a clue about style she is in for a rough time but, as you will see, she is a quick learner. The job is very demanding which causes some stress in Andy’s personal life so she faces some hard decisions. Streep steals the show with her over the top performance and Tucci is also excellent. This one is worth your time.....Recent deaths: Mickey Spillane, mystery writer, author of "The Girl Hunters", "Kiss Me Deadly", "I, The Jury", and many other novels featuring Mike Hammer. Criticized by many for his hard core violence, Spillane laughed it off. He considered himself a "writer" as opposed to an "author". The difference was that a writer was a person whose books sold.....
ANNE HATHAWAY, MERYL STREEP, and EMILY
BLUNT (L-R foreground) in THE DEVIL WEARS
PRADA. Shenanigans in the world of high fashion
with Streep showing the way. (20th Century Fox)
Character actor Jack Warden is dead at 85. Two of his better known parts were in "Shampoo" (1975) and "The Verdict" (1982).....So, Katie Couric will be the new CBS News talking head beginning September 5. So what? She is being hired more for her celebrity as long time host of the "Today" show than for her knowledge and ability to report the news. I don’t dislike Katie, I just think she is a lightweight when it comes to the news. So far most of the questions about her new job seem to be centering on what outfits she will wear. It doesn’t really matter, with Fox News and CNN operating 24/7 who watches the networks anyway? Their audience share continues to dwindle every year, too much competition from cable and other sources. They don’t make any friends with their bottom of the screen promos during broadcasts either.....From Jimmy Kimmel: "So the World Cup is over, and now we can get back to our national pastime: NOT watching soccer." From David Letterman: "They’ve uncovered some personal papers of Albert Einstein. Turns out he had 10 girlfriends. Think about it: 10 girlfriends--that’s 10 different names, 10 different phone numbers, 10 different birthdays. You’d have to be a genius!".....I have to laugh every time I read about the effects of legalized gambling on certain segments of the population. Where gambling is concerned, whether it be on horses, dogs, lotteries, or casino games, someone is going to go off the deep end and lose their shirt along with their savings, car, and house. It is the nature of the business. It is also human nature to try to get something for nothing. The majority of gamblers accept gambling for what it is: A game of chance that they are probably going to lose. If most people gamble responsibly, should they be penalized for the lack of responsibility of others? Of course not, and if the casinos are closed they will go somewhere else.....
JIMMY KIMMEL with SARAH
SILVERMAN.....Kimmel is from
Phoenix and has come a long way
since hosting "Win Ben Stein's Money".
(all movie photo)
Paul Simon is making another comeback. He is playing a venue in Sun City, Arizona, the renowned retirement area. Bob Dylan has played the same place a couple of times. I guess "the times they are a-changin".....Huey Lewis and Tom Petty are both 55 and still going strong on their concert tours.....I still know a lot of people who refuse to bank online. I don’t know why unless it is because of the old fashioned fear of the unknown. Banking online is faster and safer and saves you a lot of money on stamps. If you insist on writing checks be sure to use a gel pen as it will stop a check thief. If a thief gains possession of a check that you have filled out with a regular pen, all he has to do is tape over your signature and dip the check in an acetone solution to remove all writing but your written name. A gel pen will stop this practice as the ink will not come off the paper. The world is full of identity thieves, be careful.....
PAUL SIMON...Now in his 60's Simon is still around
playing in venues like Sun City. "Where have you
gone, Joe DiMaggio?" (Kevin Mazur)
Quick notes: You must come to Phoenix for the summer. Golf is cheap, restaurants have great deals, and traffic is light. Oh, yeah, did I mention that it was 118 degrees on July 21 and 116 on July 22? Those were exceptions though; it usually is only about 110 this time of year!.....Maybe Kate Hudson finally has made a movie that will make some money. The lovely daughter of Goldie Hawn has been in some clunkers but it appears that "You, Me, and Dupree" is doing well at the box office despite being an airhead flick...... Paris Hilton now considers herself a singer. I checked out her song online today and it’s a yawner. Maybe she ought to actually go to work in one of her daddy’s hotels and see how the other half lives.....Sylvester Stallone turned 60 a few weeks ago. Can "Rocky" really be 30 years ago? Let’s see: 2006 minus 1976 equals 30! I guess it’s true.....What is the cure for the Arizona heat? Answer: San Diego, and that is where I am going in early August. As much as I love Arizona, even I have to have a break from the heat sometime.....Have a good week and thanks for stopping by. JM (Comments? Questions? azjimmcallister@cox.net

Friday, July 14, 2006

MICHELLE WIE, THE NATIONAL ANTHEM, GOOD BOOK, BAD MOVIE, ETC., ETC., ETC.....

By Jim McAllister

I have no problem with Michelle Wie playing against the best men golfers. I do have a problem with her being given exemptions into several men’s events. Ok, ok, I know; she brings a lot of people to the golf course which the tournament sponsors love but isn’t it getting a bit overdone? She has yet to make a cut in a men’s tournament in five attempts. Suggestion to Michelle: You are a marvel at 16 but so far you can’t even win a ladies tournament. You want to play with the men? Go through the same qualifying process as they do and I will welcome you to the tour with open arms. Oh, by the way, whining isn’t going to help. Show me some scores.....
MICHELLE WIE...a great talent
but needs to beat the ladies before
she considers playing with the big
boys. Oh, yeah...try qualifying too.
(golfafoot.COM)
The Baseball All-Star game was a snoozer this year until the 9th inning when the American League made a nice comeback to win. The thing I enjoyed the most about the game was the singing of the National Anthem by Carrie Underwood. She is a good looking gal with a great voice but more importantly she sang the Anthem the way it was meant to be sung. Too many of the popular stars want to add their own interpretations of the song. That is a definite no-no; you don’t tinker with the National Anthem. Thanks, Carrie for doing it correctly.....One good book: "The Wal-Mart Effect" by Charles Fishman. This is an interesting look into the gigantic chain. Fishman presents a dichotomy for readers: Is Wal-Mart good or bad for the economy? The answer may be "yes" and "no". Some economists say that Wal-Mart has kept inflation in check with its low prices. Others agree but ask if it is worth the residual effects of lost jobs, plant closings, and a lack of competition. You will be interested in some of the methods used by them to maintain low prices. Fishman explains it all in 259 pages and while giving us the facts doesn’t take a firm stand either way which is good. This one is worth you time.....One bad movie: "A Prairie Home Companion" starring Garrison Keillor, Meryl Streep, Woody Harrelson. If you like "A Prairie Home Companion" on NPR, I would suggest avoiding this mess. It’s boring, slow, senseless, and not worth your admission price. I thought it would be out of the theaters within a week but is still hanging on at a few shows here in Phoenix. Meryl Streep must have had a bad night at the casino and needed some extra cash to participate in this drivel; if you want to see her in something more suitable to her talents see "The Devil Wears Prada". This one is about the demise of the show and that is about it. The rest is slow going and monotonous.....Recent deaths: June Allyson, 88. She amazed me and herself. She was surprised that she made it big in the movies. She appeared with all the big guys including Jimmy Stewart three times and Alan Ladd. She was never a beauty but had a certain likable charm.
SYD BARRETT, one of the founding
members of Pink Floyd is dead at 60.
Barrett was a recluse late in his life.
(Neptune Pink Floyd)
Syd Barrett is dead at 60. He was one of the founding members of rock group Pink Floyd in 1965. He left the band in 1968 suffering from mental problems and was replaced by guitarist David Gilmour.....Red Buttons is dead at 87. He was a former comedian from the 1950's who went on to play character roles in 30 movies. He won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1957 for "Sayonara".....Bob Uecker, 72, former baseball player and 35 year announcer for the Milwaukee Brewers is suing 45 year old Ann Ladd for harassment and stalking. What is it with stalkers? Can’t they take a hint?.....Mark Twain once said: "The difference between the almost right word and the right word is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning." So true, and that is why today words like "singer", which used to relate to someone who could actually sing (like Frank Sinatra), now relate to non-entities like Ashlee Simpson. Thanks to REPUBLIC colleague John MacDonald for that bit of wisdom.....I like to watch Texas hold ‘em poker on TV but like any good thing, it is being beaten to death which will probably result in its downfall. For the best of this genre, watch the "Professional Poker Tour" on The Travel Channel and "Poker Superstars" on Fox Sports. They are the best, the rest is just repetition.....Have you noticed how more major league sports are leaning toward hip-hop and rap music? What are they thinking? I know they want to identify with youth but these aren’t the people forking out the big bucks. There must be something involved that I don’t know about because it doesn’t make sense.....I hope everyone is sitting down for this one: It appears that the kissing friendship between Britney Spears and Madonna is kaput. Apparently Brit has given up studying Kabbalah and Madonna is in a snit over it. Don’t blame me folks; it’s all supply and demand and I don’t contribute to either of these two airheads. Blame their fans for this being even mentioned.....
A "3-way" from Skyline Chili of Cincinnati, Ohio.
A delicious treat any time of the year (Skyline Chili)
Quick notes: Chili is a year round food especially if you are from Cincinnati like I am. I laugh when I see chili advertised as "in season", it’s always chili season!....Dan Rather working for Mark Cuban? Interesting, stay tuned on that one.....Oil is pushing $80 per barrel, better put a lock on your gas tank.....Christie Brinkley is ditching husband number 4, Billy Joel seems like a long time ago....I just heard a song by Cream, "Sunshine of Your Love" from about 35 years ago. Why can’t these groups come back?.....Tom Cruise was so good in "Risky Business" in 1983. Why did he have to get goofy after that? I think he dumped Kidman because she was taller than he was.....I wish Lance Armstrong was still riding in the Tour de France. That guy is amazing when you look at what he has overcome.....Of today’s actors, Johnny Depp is the best.....Keira Knightly is a real dish but is very undernourished looking. I hope she is not starving herself, I loved her in "Bend it Like Beckham".....That’s all folks! See you next week and thanks fore visiting. JM (Comments? Questions? azjimmcallister@cox.net)

Friday, July 07, 2006

SOUNDSTAGE, AUSTIN CITY LIMITS, HEDY LAMARR, AND OTHER THOUGHTS....

by Jim McAllister

SOUNDSTAGE is back! That’s right, the great rock showcase opened a new season last Saturday night (check local schedule to be sure of broadcast time) on PBS. The first show starred Robert Plant and he sounded the same as thirty years ago in his Led Zeppelin days. Last year they featured John Mayer, Heart, Chris Isaak, Lindsey Buckingham, and others. If you like good rock with no commercials, don’t miss SOUNDSTAGE. As long as I am plugging PBS, don’t forget AUSTIN CITY LIMITS. It’s been on for thirty years and is still going strong with great acts.....What and when was the first rap song? Some may disagreee but I think I am right with "Rapture" from 1980 by Debbie Harry and Blondie. Check it out sometime if you are not already familiar with the tune. It helps if you listen to the extended version ("Fab 5 Freddie told me everybody’s high").....
SHIRLEY MANSON of GARBAGE.
GARBAGE is a highly regarded
techno-pop group founded in
1993 and is featured this week
on SOUNDSTAGE. (PBS)
Did anyone see Mariah Carey recently on Jimmy Kimmel’s show? She brings new meaning to the words "breast enhancement". She looked good at 36 and was very congenial with the audience and Jimmy. I was wrong about her when she first came around in the ‘80s. I thought she would be another flash in the pan a la Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, and Kim Wilde but she has managed to remain on top a long time despite setbacks like the ill advised "Glitter" in 2001. Did you know that her name was derived from the song in the movie and stage play, "Paint Your Wagon" (stage 1951, movie 1969). Remember "They call the Wind Maria"? Her parents added the "H"....How does Rob Schneider continue to have a career? His Deuce Bigelow movies are an insult to anyone with a brain and are continuously panned. I admire his attempts to tweak the nose of political correctness but the guy just isn’t funny. Let me know if you feel differently, I would like to know what you see in the guy.....Those of you who like the fare on Turner Classic Movies are familiar with Hedy Lamarr (1913-2000). I saw her in a couple of movies lately, "Boom Town" (1940) and "H. M. Pulham, Esq." (1941). If ever there was a more beautiful woman in the movies, I would like to see her. Late in life, she was arrested in Florida for shoplifting, a sad ending to a beautiful gal.....I wish all the rain flooding the eastern United States could be channeled to the west. We are in a constant drought in Arizona and could use all that unnecessary water flooding the east.....Wouldn’t it be funny if we landed a camera on Mars and some guy was standing there waving back at us?.....
HEDY LAMARR with SPENCER TRACY in
BOOM TOWN (1940). Hedy was one of the
Hollywood's most beautiful besides being a
fine actress. (Hedy lamarr.com)
The July edition of ARIZONA HIGHWAYS contains a fine article on the joys of mountain climbing by my good friend and former cohort from the INDEPENDENT in Scottsdale, Brendan Leonard. It is a nice piece with some great accompanying photos and is worth your time. Brendan now works for the ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS in Denver and is enjoying the cool weather .....This week’s list of annoying people: Brad and Angelina, Tom and Katie, Britney and K-Fed, Ben Bernanke, Sean ("Puff Daddy", "P-Diddy", "Diddy") Combs, Ashlee Simpson, Paris, and Tori Spelling. You might be saying, "How can you put Bernanke with those Hollywood types?" He annoys me because every time he raises interest rates, my portfolio decreases. Now, that’s annoying!.....Moose, the Jack Russell terrier who tortured Frasier every week as "Eddie", died recently at 16. That dog was great on that show! Other recent deaths: Kasey Rogers, who played Louise Tate on "Bewitched", is dead at 80. About the only one left from that show is Tabitha. Comedian Jan Murray is dead at 89. He was the quintessential Catskill Jewish comedian and hosted some game shows on TV many years ago. Ken Lay is also dead; he was 64. They attributed it to heart failure undoubtedly due to the stress of the Enron situation among other things.....
MICK JAGGER....still touring and singing
"Satisfaction" at 63. (Yahoo.music)
Is there anything more boring than World Cup Soccer? I think it is to the credit of the United States that we ignore this monotony. What is the excitement in watching a bunch of guys run around all afternoon faking life threatening injuries, just to see a 0-0 score. Then, they have to have a "shootout" to determine the winner. Suggestion: Eliminate the game and just have the shootout or make the field smaller and the goal wider. I want to see some 10-9 games.....The May/June edition of "AARP, The Magazine" has a picture of Paul McCartney who is now 64 years old and still going strong. Can it really be 42 years since "I Want to Hold Your Hand"? The Beatles turned the pop music world upside down in 1964 while leading the British Invasion. Ringo is still around with Paul but John Lennon and George Harrison are gone (1980, 2001).....Speaking of the British Invasion, my favorite Mick Jagger quote still echos today as Mick turns 63 this year and is still touring. While in his 20's he said that, "I would rather be dead than singing "Satisfaction" when I’m 45." It’s all right Mick, a lot of us don’t always keep our word....See you next week! JM (Comments? Questions? azjimmcallister@cox.net)