Saturday, March 31, 2007

March Matchups: Petr Prucha vs. Frau Blucher

Ding ding...ding ding! Welcome back ladies and gentleman to the "Rangers In Seven" Arena. Tomorrow, is our main event and the last contest in our "March Matchups" series. Get ready for an old fashioned slobber knocker as we have Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, and Ric Flair engaging in a "Triple Threat Match." A couple of items before we begin. I want to wish "Mr. Hockey" Gordie Howe a happy 79th birthday and here's to a bunch more! Also, congratulations to Jim Ross who gets inducted into the W.W.E. Hall of Fame tonight. Way to go J.R.! By the way, try his BBQ sauce it's killer. Finally, before we begin, I want to say that due to some problems with, yeah you guessed right, The Dudleys, we were unable to get to all the matches we had planned for "March Matchups." I am inviting all of you back on April 13, for our big free-to-view "One Friday Night In April" card from the "Rangers In Seven" Arena. On that night, we will have the rest of our bouts that we had planned. Here are just some of the matchups scheduled for that evening:
Reggie Jackson vs. Rickey Henderson
Mark Messier vs. Gordie Howe
Patrick Ewing vs. Willis Reed
Rick Nash vs. Steve Nash
L.T. vs. Ray Lewis
Gordon Solie vs. Jim Ross
Denis Leary vs. Dennis Miller
"Triple Threat Match" #1:
Hillary Clinton vs. Barack Obama vs. John Edwards
"Triple Threat Match" #2:
John McCain vs. Rudolph Giuliani vs. Mitt Romney
Then we'll open up an even fresher can of whupass and pit the winner of those two "Triple Threat Matches" against one another!
Generally, in pro wrestling the main event is the last tilt on the card, however, the second to last bout is usually when a less serious contest takes place. I guess it gives folks a chance to reload on popcorn or to just return a call to nature. Whatever it is, we have a dandy for you today so let's hook 'em up!

Petr Prucha vs. Frau Blucher
Petr Prucha, 24, scored 30 goals as a rookie last season for the New York Rangers. The Czech native was drafted 240th overall in the 2002 NHL Draft by the Blueshirts, set a single season rookie power play goal mark last year with 16. Prucha, who lived with countryman Jaromir Jagr during the 2005-2006 season, has become a fan favorite at Madison Square Garden. Former teammate Darius Kasparitis found a song last season that gets played at M.S.G. after every Prucha goal. The song "Genghis Khan," is by someone or some group known as Dschinghis Khan. The "Hoo Haa" part sounds like the name "Prucha." There was even a funny clip during a Rangers' broadcast a year ago of Al Trautwig dancing to the "Prucha Song." Prucha has 19 goals this year including seven on the power play. He plays a pretty fierce style and has the uncanny ability to bounce up from some big hits by the N.H.L.'s toughest.
Cloris Leachman played Frau Blucher in Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein. If you know the movie then you'll get the whole joke. Basically the movie is a spoof on past horror films. It makes fun of the seriousness of classics like Dracula and Frankenstein. So every time the housekeeper's name "Blucher" is mentioned, nearby horses whinny and neigh, and quite often with the crackling sound of lightning in the background. Legend has it that "Blucher" means glue in German which would obviously scare any horse. However, the joke is not any deeper than my original point, which was that the movie is a spoof in every sense.
So who wins this one? Who else but "Hoo Haa" Prucha!
Keep it in the Ring!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

March Matchups: Godfather I vs. Godfather II

It is rare - and I mean extremely rare - for a sequel to even be somewhat comparable to the first. Oh sure, there are some exceptions such as Empire Strikes Back, which smoothly continued what "began" in Star Wars. Of course, Star Wars turned out to not be the original, however, but in reality the fourth edition. Here's the real test: could you sit down and watch the Star Wars Trilogy and feel like they haven't missed a beat at any moment? I'll even say you add the three prequels; Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith, and they all go well together. But The Godfather II is the only sequel that I feel is equally as great as the original. In fact, an argument can be made that the followup is better than its predecessor. Holy anchovy, Robin! Yeah, you could say that or we could do better and hook 'em up!

The Godfather vs. The Godfather II

The Godfather was released in 1972 and boasted an all-star cast: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, and Diane Keaton, among many, many others. The film was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and based on the book by Mario Puzo. The Godfather won an Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Actor (Brando) and Best Writing (Coppola and Puzo), it was also nominated for eight other Academy Awards, according to A couple of facts about The Godfather that many people may not know is that Robert De Niro tried out for all the top roles in the movie, but was cast as Pauli. However, Coppola arranged a "trade" to get Pacino from the film, Bang the Drum Slowly, sending De Niro the other way. Also auditioning but getting rejected was Sly Stallone for Carlo Rizzi and Paulie Gatto; Anthony Perkins for Sonny; and Mia Farrow as Kaye.

The Godfather focuses on the lives of New York mobsters and their supposed "values" and "loyalty." There are some great lines in this movie and in some ways it is the forerunner for any cop or gangster movie and/or television show that has come about since. In many circles, it is ranked as the top movie ever, but as you know, I'm not big into lists. The book is better than the movie, which is almost always the case.

The story shows the established leader, or don, of the Corleone family, Vito (Marlon Brando), to be very powerful at the beginning of the movie. Brando does a fantastic job of playing a guy who appears to be in total control of everything going on while welcoming well-wishers at his daughter's wedding. He also deals with many unsavory characters showing up and looking for "favors." Vito Corleone appears to get too comfortable in his lofty stature as the number one don. He eventually gets shot and never really regains the same type of dominant presence that he had at the beginning of the film. Sonny, one of his children, takes over briefly, before his temper does him in. So the movie then shows Michael (Al Pacino) returning from his forced exile in Italy to eventually assume the role of the undisputed leader not only of the Corleone family, but as top mafia leader, after he has the leaders of the other "five families" killed.

The ascent of Michael is brilliantly done. He is the one who comes up with the idea of him going and killing a crooked N.Y.C. Police Captain and the Corleone family's scorned enemy, Virgi Solozzo. The closing moment of the film shows Michael having his ring kissed by his father's former top lieutenants, Pete Clemenza (Richard Castellano) and Sal Tessio (Abe Vigoda).

The Godfather II was released in 1974 and once again featured some of the best and brightest in Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Robert De Niro, John Cazale, Talia Shire, and Lee Strasberg. The movie illustrated Vito Corleone's arrival to the U.S. from Sicily and his eventual involvement in organized crime. De Niro played a young Vito, with the film taking us back and forth from the early days of his rise as an unassuming hard worker to the leader of the most feared crime family in New York. Al Pacino continues in his role as Michael Corleone and decides to move the family to Las Vegas. He says the Corleone family will become completely legit, but everyone knows better. Michael continues to succeed - but not without an increased sense of paranoia - as he wipes out all his perceived enemies, real or just suspected. One of his enemies who Michael has killed is his brother Fredo. Michael also shows how powerful he is by eluding jail time while being under investigation by the Feds.

The closing of Godfather II shows Michael sitting in a chair reflecting on his life, with much of the old guard now either incarcerated or dead. He appears to be a man extremely powerful, yet so incredibly alone.

A few years ago on television Godfather I and II were mixed together to form one long movie with all events occurring chronologically. The Godfather is great except for Michael's time in Sicily which seemed interminable, however, the second edition did not have any lapses of brilliance. Still, I realize the impact of the original and have to give the slightest of edges to Godfather I.

Monday, March 19, 2007

March Matchups: Patrick Roy vs. Martin Brodeur

Ladies and gentleman welcome back to "March Matchups," we've got another great contest coming your way. Two great goalies; two fierce competitors. The cool thing about this matchup is that there is some genuine bad blood that exists between the two participants. Also, these are two modern day athletes who are arguably the best at their position. Fortunately, I have been able to follow both of them closely since they entered the National Hockey League. You know both and if not, the hell with it, let's open up a fresh can of whupass and hook 'em up!

Patrick Roy vs. Martin Brodeur
I remember very well the debut of Patrick Roy, and what an entrance, or entré, "St. Patrick" made. After being drafted 51st overall in the 1984 N.H.L. Draft, Roy won a Stanley Cup in 1986 for the Montreal Canadiens; beating the New York Rangers in the Conference Finals, before knocking off the Calgary Flames. Roy (pictured on top) would also win the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP; and at 20 was the youngest player in NHL history to capture that prestigious award.

The 6'2", 190 pound, Roy, would hoist Lord Stanley's Cup in 1993 after winning 10 straight overtime playoff games and going on an 11-game tear without a loss during that post-season. By the way, he also bested Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings in the Finals.

Roy would get dealt from Montreal to Colorado after a terrible fallout with then Head Coach Mario Tremblay in December 1995. All the better for Roy, however, because he would go on to win two more Cups with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996 and 2001.

Roy won the Conn Smythe in 1993 and 2001; the Vezina (awarded to the best goalie as voted on by the General Managers) in 1989, 1990, and 1992, and the William M. Jennings Trophy (awarded to the goalie with the lowest goals against) in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1992, and 2002. He retired following the 2002-2003 season.

He is also noted for his records, which include: most wins (551), most N.H.L. games played (1029), most Conn Smythe wins (3), and most N.H.L. playoff wins by a goalie (151). Roy could be quite surly throughout his career, and certainly was never lacking confidence. His desire was something I will always remember. Maurice "The Rocket" Richard was known for having an unparalleled intense - almost borderline crazed- look in his eyes during big games. Roy's intensity was just as strong as Rocket's.

The story of Martin Brodeur is still being written, Brodeur, 34, is one of the best goalies in the N.H.L. right now. He was drafted 20th overall by the New Jersey Devils in 1990. Brodeur (pictured making another great save) won rookie of the year (Calder Trophy) in 1993-1994 and backstopped N.J. to second in the league, finishing behind the Rangers. The Devs would be runner ups to the Blueshirts again that season losing an epic seven-game series in the Conference Finals. Brodeur was brilliant in that series, but inexplicably let in a soft goal during the second overtime of game seven. However, New Jersey bounced back the following year winning the Stanley Cup in a lockout-shortened season.

He would win the Cup in 2000 and again in 2003, maybe his best season. That year he won the Vezina, the Jennings, and was a Hart Trophy (league MVP) finalist. The Devs beat Anaheim for the Cup in seven games. In that series, Brodeur recorded three shutouts and seven overall during that year's playoffs. However, the Conn Smythe was awarded to Ducks goalie J.S. Giguere; an obvious travesty in my book. Brodeur holds an astounding 30 New Jersey Devils' records and is also one of a handful of goalies to have scored more than once in his career. This season he notched his 462nd career win, moving him into second place all-time, behind Roy's 551. He also recorded his 85th career shutout to move ahead of Glen Hall for third all-time.

Brodeur penned his own book a few years ago and stated that he never has forgiven Patrick Roy for insisting on starting every single game for Canada at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Incredibly, Canada failed to medal at that Olympiad. However, with Brodeur clearly as the number one goalie, Canada would win the Gold at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The knock on Marty Brodeur is that he has benefited from the Devils' system that they used for many years: the neutral zone trap. However, Brodeur continues to play extremely well, despite a lack of offensive output from the Devs and the loss of several key defenseman, notably Scott Stevens. Let's revisit this matchup when Brodeur's career is over a few years from now, but at this point in time I have to go with Patrick Roy as the winner of this contest.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

March Matchups: The Dudleys vs. The Road Warriors vs. The Steiners

The Dudleys vs. The Road Warriors vs. The Steiners

Ding, ding, ding, ding!!! Well, ladies and gentleman we have come to that moment you've all waited of the greatest matches ever to be staged. Where else, would you find such action? But of course, right here at the "Rangers In Seven" Arena at "March Matchups." The contest is being held in honor of the late, great Big Dick Dudley. Let's hook 'em up!

The Dudleys you may have guessed are one of my favorite tag teams ever, as are their opponents. We did have some trouble convincing all the other Dudleys to go home. You know Spike, Runt, Dudley Dudley, why I think there is even a Dudley named Dudley Dudley Dudley or his cousin Dudley Dudley Dudley Dudley. Well, anyway you get the point. I've got it down to two - the two best and most successful tandem - Bubba Ray and D-Von.

Bubba Ray had a stuttering problem, but he has been able to overcome that. Showing us that in life, you can overcome just about anything! Amazing, all Bubba Ray used to be able to utter from his mouth was, "My name is Buh Buh!" Funny how far one can come.

The Dudleys started off in E.C.W. and are based on the Hanson Brothers from the movie Slapshot. Legend has it that the whole Dudley idea was formed by two great minds; Tazz and Paul E. "Dangerously" Heyman. The Dudley gimmick is that they are the sons of the fictional "Big Daddy" Dudley, a salesman that travelled throughout the U.S.A. and basically fathered all these kids through different women. That's why so many of the Dudleys look different not only in size, but also are of different races. Really, the only similarities are the taped glasses they wear, their unkempt hair, and that they all wear the same wrestling gear, tie-dye shirts and overalls.

The Dudleys are one of the most successful tag teams in the history of pro wrestling - having won 18 world tag team championships - and also perfected the art of smashing tables on their opponents and throwing their foes through tables. The Dudleys are the only team to hold the E.C.W., W.C.W., W.W.E., and All-Japan tag titles. They now compete in T.N.A. (Total Nonstop Action) and are known as Team 3D, since Vince McMahon owns the rights to the Dudleys' name.
The Road Warriors (Hawk and Animal) grew up on the south side of Chicago and formed as a tag team in 1983. They were the first ones to use face paint, and were the most powerful and dominant tag team at that time. The Roadies have been copied by so many different wrestlers, it is impossible to count all of them. The Road Warriors joined manager Paul Ellering's stable of wrestlers which were known as the "Legion of Doom." Hawk and Animal would also go by that name throughout their career and specifically when they joined the W.W.E. in 1990. They held tag team titles in the A.W.A., N.W.A., W.W.E., W.C.W., and all throughout Japan where they were enormously popular.

Unfortunately, the Road Warriors were misused many times throughout their career. Because they were so dominant, they never needed to win the tag team titles to "sell," so quite often they would get stuck feuding with a tag team that were not the champs. This allowed whatever promotion they were wrestling with, to have tag team champions who they could sell, in addition to the Warriors. To me, these guys should have been tag champs throughout the entire '80s, they were that dominant.

Hawk passed away on October 19, 2003, five months after he and Animal made their final WWE appearance wrestling on Monday Night Raw. Animal still wrestles on the indy circuit and in Japan.

The Steiners are real life brothers, Rick and Scott, and were former all-American wrestlers at the University of Michigan. I remember Rick from his days in the U.W.F. (Universal Wrestling Federation) where he would often team with Sting. When Rick eventually teamed up with his brother it was instant success! The two would go on to hold tag team titles in the N.W.A., W.C.W., New Japan, the W.W.E., and E.C.W. Scott has done very well as a singles' competitor, whereas, Rick, a.k.a. the "dog-faced gremlin" would never "go over" with the fans as a singles' star. They recently reunited in December to win the N.W.A. Mid-Atlantic tag team titles. Scott left the W.W.E. a few years ago and wrestles for T.N.A. and also in Japan.

As a team the Steiners showed athleticism that was unparalleled, and probably is something that we may not see again. The Road Warriors were about brute strength and intimidation. Before going to work for McMahon they used Black Sabbath's Iron Man as their entrance song. I recall fondly Hawk and Animal running to the ring and demolishing their opponents, particularly, when they bloodied and battered The Midnight Express (Stan Lane and Bobby Eaton) for the N.W.A. titles in late 1988 after turning heel. The Dudleys, well, what can you say about them that hasn't already been said at the most glamorous cocktail parties around the 'big city.' They combined athleticism, power, stunts, comics, and crudeness to form an awesome tandem. They defied the barriers between "baby face" or good guy, and "heel. It's a big problem for promoters when they are trying to push you as "bad guys," and the fans are cheering you wildly. Therefore, I rule the winners of this match...The Dudleys! By the way, if this match had ever taken place it absolutely would have been one of the most brutal and entertaining bouts ever! Somewhere in the ether right now, Big Dick Dudley is smiling down on all of us here at the "Rangers In Seven" Arena!

Keep it in the Ring!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

March Matchups: Brendan Shanahan vs. Owen Nolan

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, we match up two NHL players whose names fit perfectly on the marquee...

Brendan Shanahan vs. Owen Nolan

Brendan Shanahan (featured above crushing a Devil) has had an enormous impact both on and off the ice for the N.H.L. He was drafted second overall in the first round of the 1987 N.H.L. Entry Draft by the New Jersey Devils, behind Pierre Turgeon. Shanny, as many call him, is the son of Irish immigrants and was expected to do big things in the N.H.L. after playing juniors with the London Knights of the O.H.L. His first few seasons with the Devs he improved his offensive skills each year before being signed as a restricted free agent by the St. Louis Blues. The Blues would have to give up compensation for grabbing Shanny. At first, they offered Curtis Joseph and Rod Brind'Amour, but the Devs wanted Scott Stevens. New Jersey got what they wanted, in Stevens they would receive a bruising d-man who could put up great numbers. Stevens changed his game quite a bit when he arrived in New Jersey, tending to play more of a defensive game and although he dished out some of the biggest checks ever, he was not likely to be seen chasing around opposing players looking for a fight.

Shanny spent four tremendous years in St. Louis before GM Mike Keenan dealt Shanny to Hartford for prodigious d-man, Chris Pronger. The Blues appeared to have gotten themselves a cornerstone for future Cup runs. Unfortunately, Pronger would not win a Cup in St. Louis, due largely to the mismanagement of St. Louis, by guys like Keenan. "Iron" Mike even ticked off Wayne Gretzky enough during the playoffs that Gretz decided to sign with the New York Rangers after a couple of months in St. Louis.

Shanahan's stay in Hartford was brief. He would be dealt to the Detroit Red Wings along with Bryan Glynn for Keith Primeau, Paul Coffey, and a first round pick. Shanahan would win three Stanley Cups in the Motor City; 1997, 1998, and 2002. He also picked up a Gold Medal for Team Canada at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake. Shanahan signed with the Rangers this past summer and netted his first two goals as a Blueshirt on Opening Night. Oh yeah, they also happened to be his 599th and 600th of his career. Shanny is a member of the unique "Quad Gold Club," having won a Stanley Cup, Canada Cup, Gold Medal, and a World Championship. No doubt he goes straight to the Hall of Fame.

Shanny also brought together a number of current and former players before and during the lockout of 2004-05 to come up with ways to make the game better, re: more marketable. Shanahan comes across as a very bright guy and in my mind I could see Shanny someday holding a top executive job for the league.

Owen Nolan is the only man ever to play in the N.H.L. that was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He was drafted number one in the 1990 N.H.L. Entry Draft by the Quebec Nordiques, who had a penchant in those days for stellar drafting. Nolan missed out on the success of the Nordiques when they moved to Colorado. He got traded to San Jose for offensive-minded defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh, who at that time was one of the final pieces of the championship puzzle for the Colorado Avalanche.

Nolan has bounced around a bit having played for Toronto, and now Phoenix after taking off the entire 2005-06 season to heal from nagging injuries. He's a prototypical power forward who can score goals and plays with an edge. He also won a Gold Medal with Canada at the 2002 Olympics. Nolan has scored 365 goals and has picked up over 1,600 penalty minutes. I always wanted to see Nolan play for the Rangers, his grit, determination, and the fact that he was a real team player were things that have sorely lacked in the Rangers' locker room over the years.

Nolan and Shanahan play a similar game, although I think Shanny expends his energy better. Shanny is still going strong at 38. Injuries have slowed down Nolan, so the winner of this contest is....Brendan Shanahan!

Friday, March 16, 2007

March Matchups: Glengarry Glen Ross vs. Boiler Room

Ding ding...ding ding....Hello and welcome back to "March Matchups." By the way, let's all wish Roger Daltrey (featured above left with Pete Townshend) a quick recovery from bronchitis. In the ring at this time are two movies that have many similarities. So, of course, we decided to hook 'em up! Ding ding ding ding! So let's get it on!

Glengarry Glen Ross vs. Boiler Room
I recently saw Glengarry Glen Ross and liked it very, very much. In fact, I think it was one of Al Pacino's best performances. The film was released in 1992, and was based on the play of the same name by David Mamet which won the Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award, according to An all-star cast is featured with Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, and Alec Baldwin.

The basic premise focuses on a bunch of real estate salesman who will do anything to make a sale, due to the fact that they are under enormous pressure, in particular, Lemmon who plays an aging salesman. Baldwin was superb in his role as the demanding boss, while Spacey was stellar as the office manager. Stealing the show was Pacino, however, who sold real estate to a guy who he had gotten drunk in a bar. The man realizes he can't afford it and comes back to the office to renege on the deal. Pacino basically goes into part salesman, part friend, part shrink; which is entirely brilliant.

Boiler Room is another movie I could watch at any moment. It came out in 2000 with Giovanni Ribisi playing the role of a New York City guy in his early 20s, trying to gain the respect of his father, a judge. So he goes out and gets a job with a brokerage house, but it turns out they rip people off right and left. Ben Affleck plays the boss, while Vin Diesel is one of the top brokers at the fictional firm, J.T. Marlin. Ribisi, was running a gambling operation out of his apartment, and should have stayed in that position, because eventually he nearly gets his dad in trouble with the feds. He gains his father's respect by coming clean and being willing to take the fall for his dad. A tremendous film, which is more comparable to Wall Street with the whole father-son thing going on.

The winner of this contest as a result of a Glengarry Glenn Ross. I can never go against Pacino! "Don't ever go against the family."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

March Matchups: Animal House vs. Revenge of the Nerds

Hello everyone and welcome to the "Rangers In Seven" Arena...the S.R.O. (Standing Room Only) signs went out early because we are jammed packed! The crowd is really on edge and you could cut the electricity with a knife! When word leaked out earlier today that this was the next match, all the big shots wanted tickets...hey we even managed to get WFAN's John Minko a press pass, imagine that! Let's go up to our ring announcer...

Animal House vs. Revenge of the Nerds
Animal House (pictured at the top), or more properly, National Lampoon's Animal House, was released in 1978 and starred John Belushi and Tim Matheson, and was written by Chris Miller who based the flick on his experiences as a member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity at Dartmouth. Animal House was ranked number 36th according to Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies." There are 35 movies funnier? Now you know why I'm not big about lists. Incredibly, the U.S. Library of Congress selected Animal House for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2001. The movie cost three million dollars to make but has grossed nearly $200 million in VHS and DVD sales.

Animal House is about a bunch of party animals in a fraternity that take on the ruling class of the college. The movie's uniqueness is in the fact that it pushes the envelope to places that envelopes previously were not pushed. The actors are absolutely hysterical and really make the film. Notable scenes include, of course, the rallying cry for a toga party, John Belushi's character smashing the guitar of a folk singer ("I gave my love a cherry..."), D-Day's rendition of the William Tell Overture on his windpipe, the song Shout! being sung at the Delta house toga party, etc. The list of funny scenes is really endless.

Incidentally, Dartmouth is also noted in another great movie from the '70s. In The Godfather, Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) met his future wife Kay (Diane Keaton) while a student at Darmouth. This is mentioned in Mario Puzo's book, but not in the movie. Also, in Puzo's book Luca Brazie takes on a much great role. For some reason, Luca was not as prominently featured in the movie.

Revenge of the Nerds was released in the summer of 1984 and has gone on to become a cult classic. The story is pretty basic and has been done many times to varying degrees: The outcasts at the fictional Adams College basically get tired of being humiliated by the football team, and decide to unite to form their own fraternity to gain respect. Yeah, I know people can say "been there done that." But this movie is different.

Robert Carradine plays the head nerd, Lewis Skolnick, with Anthony Edwards (Top Gun, E.R.) as his sidekick, Gilbert Lowell. Those two got the whole thing down to a science; not just in the clothes they wore (high waters, ugly shirts), the nerd glasses, and the pocket protectors, but the high-pitched nasally laugh by Carradine. John Goodman excels in the role as the obnoxious football coach, while Ted McGinley plays the arrogant athlete to a tee.

The film accentuates every stereotype to the max, and may offend some people. But really the only ones who would take offense to Revenge of the Nerds are those who take life a bit too seriously, and why wouldn't you? There's plenty of gratuitous nudity, including the hysterical pantie raid conducted by the nerds, while the Mission Impossible theme song plays. The movie included some great lines and the ending was classic with Queen's We Are the Champions serenading the formally outcasted Tri Lams, who rose to the top of the campus!

Parts of the movie were filmed at the University of Arizona. James Cromwell played Lewis Skolnick's father in the film. Meanwhile, Matt Salinger played "Burke," one of the guys who bullied the outcasts. Sallinger, is the son of J.D. Sallinger who penned Catcher in the Rye. Curtis Armstrong played booger; remember Armstrong from L.A. Law and Risky Business? A sequel was made that was OK, plus two additional made-for-t.v. movies that were awful. Plans for a remake were scrapped this past summer.

I absolutely love both of these movies and could watch them anytime, with virtually anyone. This is a really tough matchup, perhaps the toughest we have had here at "March Matchups." I love underdogs, so the winner of this contest is...Revenge of the Nerds!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

March Matchups: Vote For Rachel!

Currently, the Golden Kayak Indie Song of the Year tournament is in progress. The commissioner contacted me and asked if he could hold some of the matches here at the "Rangers In Seven" Arena, to which I agreed. However, I did warn him about the Dudleys. Before we get to today's contest, let me explain the whole Dudley thing:

The gimmick is that they are the sons of the fictional "Big Daddy" Dudley, a salesman that travelled throughout the U.S.A. and basically fathered all these kids through different women. That's why so many of the Dudleys look different not only in size, but also are of different races. Really, the only similarities are the taped glasses they wear, their unkempt hair, and that they all wear the same wrestling gear, tie-dye shirts and overalls. By the way, the gimmick is based on the Hanson Brothers from the movie Slap Shot. Anyway, one of their creeds is "Thou shall not steal! Thou shall not kill! Thou shall not F*** with the Dudleys!" Anyway, I promise that soon the Dudleys will be in action....On to our next match.

I'm One vs. Hot Pink

Today, Rachel Fuller & Pete Townshend's I'm One goes up against Fifty Foot Wave and their tune, Hot Pink. By the way, the above picture is Rachel (left) and Pete (with the guitar) performing at Joe's Pub in lower Manhattan during one of their In the Attic shows. Also on stage are Jimmy Fallon, Martha Wainwright, and Sean Lennon (who looks exactly like his dad). I'm not sure who the guy to Wainwright's left is. However, she is from a family that is very involved in the music world. In fact, she is the niece of Sloan Wainwright who has collaborated with our old pal Montgomery Delaney on occasion.

Anyway, it's I'm One vs. Hot Pink...Go here to listen and vote early, vote often, but most importantly vote for Rachel...yes I am biased in this one! Don't make me call the Dudleys!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

March Matchups: The Battle of the Big Shows!

Well, folks I think we have things ironed out for our much anticipated "Triple Threat Tables" match. The Dudleys are a tough group to deal with at times. But right now there are only five Dudleys in the building, so hopefully we can get three to go home, and then we will be able to have our match. More to come on that...The Big Show, it's been a movie, a radio show, a t.v. show, and a wrestler. So we decided to take the wrestler and have him go up against the guys who did and do the sports show. Welcome, to the Battle of the Big Shows!

The Big Show (Paul Wight) vs. The Big Show (Keith Olbermann & Dan Patrick)

Paul Wight, 35, is billed as being 7'0" and 5oo pounds, I don't know if that is true or not, but he's definitely a big boy. 'Show got into wrestling by being introduced to Hulk Hogan by Danny Bonaduce at a charity basketball event in 1994. Hogan then hooked up Wight and trainer Larry Sharpe, who owns a wrestling training center in New Jersey, and several others throughout the country. Sharpe worked with Show for about seven months or so before Wight was ready to make his debut.

He began in World Championship Wrestling (W.C.W.) under the name The Giant. The storyline being that he was Andre The Giant's son and was accusing Hulk Hogan of being the cause of his "father's" death. He is the only wrestler to have held the W.C.W., W.W.E., and E.C.W. World Titles. He dropped the E.C.W. belt to Bobby Lashley three months ago at the pay-per-view event December to Dismember, and has since taken some time off to recuperate from "nagging injuries."

Wight shows incredible agility in the ring for such a big guy. I've seen him drop kick guys and he was at one point able to do a moonsault. Which basically is doing a back flip off the top rope onto your opponent. Amazing to say the least!

The Dan Patrick Show is a syndicated sports program on ESPN Radio, but transmogrifies itself into The Big Show when Keith Olbermann joins his old tag team partner, Dan Patrick from 2-3 p.m. The two were wildly successful as co-hosts of Sports Center from 1992-1997.

Olbermann bounced around a bit after leaving ESPN in 1997, but has gone on to host his own political show weeknights on MSNBC, called The Countdown. The Dan Patrick Show began airing in September 1999, and at one point featured former Major League Baseball player Rob Dibble as Patrick's co-host.

Olbermann's MSNBC show started off as being apolitical back in March 2003, but has become a nightly bashing of Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. He regularly names Mr. O'Reilly as being the "Worst Person in the World." Olbermann regularly gets crushed by The O'Reilly Factor in ratings as they both air during the 8-9 p.m. time slot.

Olbermann/Patrick started out at ESPN being kind of hip and cool to many people, but eventually their act wore thin. If you like "hip hop sportscasting" then those guys are for you. I personally thought Patrick would be good at hosting his own radio show, but I turned out to be hopelessly wrong. Too much of the same type of pie throwing goes on, with not enough substance. Same goes for Olbermann's news show. His constant verbal attacks on O'Reilly fall somewhere between being sophomoric and obsessively hysterical.

If you took The Big Show, you won! The winner in this one is clear....The Big Show, more specifically Paul Wight chokes slams The Big Show for the win!

Monday, March 12, 2007

March Matchups: The Battle of the Playmates

So what would pro wrestling be without beautiful women? Well, your humble blogger and promoter of "March Matchups" has decided to bring together a battle of the Playboy Magazine covers. Tomorrow, the new magazine hits newsstands with Ashley on the cover; meanwhile, wildly successful editions of Playboy Magazine have featured Torrie Wilson (twice) and Sable (three times). Playboy brought Wilson and Sable together for the March 2004 edition. So we decided to take the obvious route...Let's hook 'em up!

Ashley vs. Torrie Wilson & Sable
Ashley Massaro, 5'5", 110 pounds, hails from Babylon, N.Y., and is the winner of the 2005 W.W.E. Raw Diva Search, which included a one-year contract with W.W.E. and $250,000. Ashley, 27, hasn't won any championships yet, but I'm sure that accomplishment is right around the corner. She can currently be seen on Friday nights as part of the Smackdown version of the W.W.E.. According to, she signed a three-year deal last year.

Torrie Wilson, 31, 5'7", 133 pounds, has been on the cover of Playboy two times (May 2003 and March 2004 with Sable). Wikipedia said she won something called the 2002 Golden Thong Award and was also voted the twenty-second Most Desirable Woman in the World according to Wilson manages Carlito on W.W.E. Monday Night Raw.

Sable, was formerly married to superstar Johnny B. Badd - a Little Richard lookalike - and has appeared on the front of Playboy Magazine two times (April and September 1999) before being on the cover with Torrie Wilson. She was the W.W.E. Women's Champ for five months in 1999. Sable no longer works for Vince McMahon and was last seen wrestling in Japan and hanging with former World Champ, Brock Lesnar.

So the winner is...two is better than one usually, but I think Ashley comes out on top! Er...uh... of course, I mean the magazine cover!

Keep it in the Ring!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

March Matchups: A.L.F. vs. E.T.

Good afternoon everyone! I've been busy all morning trying to get The Dudleys to agree to which two should be involved in the "Triple Threat Tables" Match. Originally Bubba Ray and D-Von showed up at the "Rangers In Seven" Arena looking for a match, however, the other Dudleys started to arrive and at this point it's like a Dudleys' family reunion. We'll straighten it out, just bear with me...Now, to our match! Entering the ring to my left from the planet Melmac...please welcome A.L.F.(Alien Life Form)...and his opponent from somewhere far, far away, E.T. (Extra Terrestrial)!

A.L.F. vs. E.T.

There aren't many sitcoms that I have really gotten into and watched on a regular basis, in fact, especially the last few years. But for whatever reason, I really liked the television show A.L.F. The furry creature from the planet Melmac crashed into the Tanner's garage and they kindly took him in. A.L.F. was a wise-cracking character who loved to chase after the family cat. The show was a surprise to t.v. execs who did not have high expectations for the sitcom. Still, it ran for four years beginning in September of 1986. A.L.F. has been used from time to time in commercials, most notably in some spots with Hulk Hogan and Terry Bradshaw. I love underdogs and A.L.F. was definitely a guy who came out of nowhere.

E.T. was an alien who became stranded on Earth after being chased by government agents. A boy named Elliott lures the alien from his garden into his home using Reese's Pieces. Eventually, E.T. learns to speak English and is even able to imitate and quote some notable films, such as The Quiet Man. The two would work together to send E.T. home using very unconventional means, such as a device called Speak N Spell.

E.T. was directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, while Drew Barrymore played Elliott's little sister, while John Williams wrote the score. The film itself cost $10 million to make but has nearly grossed $400 million, according to imdb. When it was released in 1982, it was the highest grossing film ever. The sci-fi click remained at number one until the special edition release of Star Wars in 1997. E.T. was nominated for nine Academy Awards and took home four: Best Original Music Score, Sound, Sound Effects, Editing, and Visual Effects.

So who wins? I saw E.T. once in my life and that was in the theater when it was first released. A great movie that has stood the test of time, although I have not seen it aired on t.v. much. I'm not one who usually goes with something just because it is the popular thing, or just because it has won a bunch of awards. So I take A.L.F. in this one. These are of course my preferences, so A.L.F. gets the nod in this bout!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

March Matchups: The Ocean vs. The Pool

Welcome back ladies and gentleman to the "Rangers In Seven" Arena! I just want to remind you that we will have our "Triple Threat Tables" match coming soon! The Road Warriors vs. The Steiners vs. The Dudleys. The delay is that there are so many Dudleys, they can't decide which two should be involved. Why, there's Dudley Dudley, D-Von Dudley, Bubba Ray Dudley, Sign Guy Dudley, Rasta Dudley, there's even Runt Dudley, and half-brother Spike Dudley! I'm going to have to resolve this myself! Anyway, we get set now for more action here at "March Matchups." Clocks spring ahead tonight and that brings up images of the summer and going to the beach to take a dip in the ocean. Or at the very least it will no longer be dark at 4 p.m. Meanwhile, some of us may have spent time indoors this winter swimming in a pool. So why not bring the two together and hook 'em up for our next match:

The Ocean vs. The Pool

So where would you rather swim? Some people, myself included, love swimming in the ocean. There's really nothing better than "riding" the waves and when you're finished, you really feel refreshed. I guess it is the salt water that does it. My favorite beach is Jones Beach (featured above during a sunset) out on Long Island, however, I have been to some other really cool places as well, where the water is awesome to swim in, such as San Diego. Of course, you have to be very careful when swimming in the ocean. The undertow can be difficult and you have to watch out for the unusual formation of a whirlpool. You might be concerned with sharks, or more reasonably, jelly fish. But I still love the ocean for the waves and the smell, which is usually refreshing. Even if I am at the somewhat nearby Jones Beach, it still can take on the illusion of being on a vacation.

The pool is a different story. Today, they are loaded with chlorine to kill all the germs, which is a good thing. I feel pretty confident that I'm not going to get sick from swimming in a pool. I believe the ocean cleans itself - at least from some waste that is deposited. Pollutants from the environment are altogether entirely a different story. Anyway, I do possess a pair of goggles but rarely if ever wear them because chlorine generally does not irritate my eyes. If it does, then I know that whoever is in charge really dumped a bunch of the stuff in. Like I said earlier, after swimming in an ocean I feel pretty refreshed, pools, however, are not always the case. You need to take a long hot shower to get rid of that chlorine smell, otherwise you will reek like a pool for the rest of the day. Still, I like pools for the fact that you can go in them any time during the year. There is also no need to be concerned about sharks, jellyfish, or pollution.

The Ocean wins this bout...because although like most everything it has it's drawbacks, anything that can make you feel like you are on vacation is good enough for me!

Friday, March 09, 2007

March Matchups: I Love It When You Call Me Big Poppa!

Hello everyone and welcome back to the "Rangers In Seven" Arena. Please join me at this time to remember Chris Wallace, also known as the Notorious B.I.G., who was gunned down ten years ago today. R.I.P. Biggie(May 21, 1972-March 9, 1997)...Before we move on to today's match, let me mention that unfortunately an ugly incident occurred in a nearby arena last night, the Nassau Coliseum. All those who never pay attention to hockey will get on their high horse today, I'm sure, and bash the N.H.L. What New York Islanders' forward Chris Simon did to New York Rangers' winger Ryan Hollweg was obviously disgusting. But it was an isolated incident. We don't need shrinks and quacks or dogs yapping about it being something bigger than what it was. Case the way the Rangers won, 2-1, in a very exciting game. One more note, congratulations to Rachel Fuller and Pete Townshend for their song, I'm One, being victorious. For more refer to yesterday's post! OK ladies and gentleman we now continue with "March Matchups" and a most intriguing battle we have today: Ric Flair's arrival to the W.W.E. vs. the "Original" Midnight Express' entry into the N.W.A.

The Battle of the Arrival Storylines:
Ric Flair (W.W.E.) vs. the "Original"Midnight Express(N.W.A.)

Many wrestlers during the 1980s left the N.W.A./W.C.W. for greener pastures, also known as the W.W.E.; Dusty Rhodes, Ron Garvin, Arn Anderson, and Tully Blanchard, to name just a few. But the idea of Ric Flair wrestling for Vince McMahon was ludicrous. Flair was about as anti-W.W.E.(W.W.F. back then) as there could possibly be this side of Bruno Sammartino. So when Ric Flair was fired by W.C.W. in the summer of 1991, most experts believed the perennial World Champion would head to the Far East. That's why tongues were wagging the day manager Bobby"The Brain"Heenan appeared on W.W.E. television holding what he called, "The real World Championship belt."

You see Flair was owed a deposit on that belt by the W.C.W., which the champion gives when he "wins" the title. That particular World Championship, is a beautiful gold belt with a removable panel, where the current champ's name is imprinted. McMahon had been raiding the N.W.A./W.C.W. of its talent vigorously, but this was his biggest score. Flair would sign with the W.W.E. and the gold belt would be blurred on W.W.E. television. Eventually the title went back to W.C.W. and so would Flair, although not before two reigns as W.W.E. Champ and memorable feuds with Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage.

Some of you may be aware of The Midnight Express the movie, and perhaps were not familiar with the name being synonymous with tag team wrestling. Well, for a short time Dennis Condrey partnered with Randy Rose in World Class Championship Wrestling (W.C.C.W) to form the Midnight Express managed by the tennis racket-wielding loudmouth, Jim Cornette. Rose was soon ousted in favor of the younger and quicker Bobby Eaton. The two, Condrey and Eaton, went on to great success in the southern wrestling territories before reaching the pinnacle in the N.W.A.

In February 1986 they beat the Rock and Roll Express for the tag team titles. Later on while still in the N.W.A. - shortly after dropping the belts - and in a deft move by Cornette, he would replace Condrey with the more athletic Stan Lane. Eaton and Lane were guided to the top of the N.W.A. by Cornette, engaging in memorable feuds with the Rock and Roll Express and the Road Warriors.

Meanwhile, an up-and-coming manager would emerge carrying a cordless telephone - which would often illegally come into play during matches - I speak of, Scarsdale's favorite son, Paul E. Dangerously (later in his career he would go by his surname, Heyman). Paul E. united the ostracized members of the Midnight Express, Dennis Condrey and Randy Rose, to form the "Original" Midnight Express. The duo rose to the top of the A.W.A. winning the tag team belts in 1988.

However, they along with their manager, were ready to go to the next level of competition. So let's move forward to one Saturday night on World Championship Wrestling. Stan Lane is wrestling in singles competition, while Bobby Eaton stood at ringside with his arm in a sling. The two had just days earlier been mauled by the Road Warriors, who usurped Cornette's boys as tag team champs. The show was taped in a small television studio in Atlanta, GA., and while manager Jim Cornette assisted Tony Schiavone on the play-by-play, Lane took care of business in the ring. Cornette, was undeniably in a foul mood over his tandem dropping the titles. "Incredibly" a telephone had been placed on the podium that Schiavone and Cornette were broadcasting from. The phone rings and a miffed Cornette answers, and after a few seconds he begins yelling into the phone, "Yeah, well anytime you guys are brave enough just come on down here!" Cornette then hung up. Schiavone asked who it was, to which J.C. shot back, "No one important!" At precisely that moment, some kind of white powder was thrown in the face of Stan Lane who had just won his match, while Bobby Eaton was knocked onto the concrete floor from behind. Meanwhile, Cornette got struck in the head with a cordless telephone and lay bloodied; the Midnight Express and Paul E. had arrived.

Schiavone described the scene in complete and utter shock, only very believably yelling, "These guys don't even wrestle here!" This event touched off a decent feud between the two tag teams who both used the same moniker. But that initial moment was perfect played out.

It's always hard for me to go against Ric Flair, however, I was and am a big fan of Paul E. and this was the type of angle that would be acted out in E.C.W. years later. So the winner of this bout goes to...the arrival of the Midnight Express!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

March Matchups: Rachel Fuller/Pete Townshend vs. Themselves

Welcome back everyone, you've got to admit the action has been fast and furious here at "March Matchups." I finally caught up with The Dudleys and they demanded that a "Triple Threat Tables Match" be put together! This has never been done before, I think. Anyway, coming soon it will be The Dudleys vs. The Road Warriors vs. The Steiners; three of my favorite tag teams. The rules are, well there are no rules. Tables will be provided for the participants to do virtually anything they like with them. So stay with us...Meanwhile, Rachel Fuller and Pete Townshend have two songs in the running for the 2007 Indie Song of the Year; I'm One which Pete did with The Who on the Quadrophenia album, and Jigsaw which is on Rachel's first CD, Cigarettes and Housework. To listen and vote click this. If you want to view the entire brackets and listen to some of the other fantastic artists, go here. Couldn't find a photo of them actually performing, so this will have to do.

As always...

Stay Onsides!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

March Matchups: Jaromir Jagr vs. Pavel Bure

The Road Warriors have now arrived at the "Rangers In Seven" Arena...The Dudleys are up to something and I'm going to get to the bottom of it! Anyway, we continue on with the battle of two National Hockey League greats; current New York Rangers' superstar, Jaromir Jagr vs. Pavel Bure (now retired). So without further adieu...let's hook 'em up!

Jaromir Jagr vs. Pavel Bure

Jagr, 6'3", 245, was drafted fifth overall in the 1990 NHL Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Czech native was initially adored by the fans in Pittsburgh and they were the ones who realized that the letters in his first name could be scrambled to form the anagram "Mario Jr.," a reference to his elder teammate at the time, Mario Lemieux. Jaromir Jagr must have thought things were going to be easy in the NHL, and who could really blame him? In his first two seasons with the Pens, the team won the Stanley Cup both years. In fact, I heard Jagr say in an interview once that he really did not have an appreciation for how difficult it was to win the Cup, and that each year that goes by without a Stanley Cup Ring only increases his desire to lead his team back to the top.

At 19, Jagr was the youngest player to ever score a goal in the Finals and had the most assists (5) by a rookie in the Stanley Cup Finals (1991). Those teams that Jagr played with were powerhouses, to be sure. The first Cup team was coached by the late "Badger"Bob Johnson; while the second team featured Scotty Bowman at the helm. Mario Lemieux was the Captain and the team consisted of such greats as Ronnie Francis, Kevin Stevens, Ulf and Kjell Samuelson (no relation), plus many others.

Jagr's career really flourished from the lockout-shortened 1994-1995 season to the 2000-2001 season, with some pretty average Penguins' teams. He won five NHL scoring titles which included four straight from 1997-1998 through 2000-2001. In 1998, he was the Captain of the Czech Republic Olympic team which won gold at Nagano; the first time that the NHL sent its talent to compete in the Olympics. Jagr would again lead his country to gold at the 2005 World Hockey Championships in Austria, thus making him a member of the very prestigious and unique Triple Gold Club; having won a Stanley Cup, a World Hockey Championship, and an Olympic gold medal.

Jagr has been traded twice in his career; once to the Washington Capitals in the summer of 2001; and then again to the New York Rangers in early 2004. Jagr had a monstrous season in 2004-2005 scoring 54 goals and assisting on 69 tallies. This year he has been slowed by off-season shoulder surgery, which caused Jagr to come into the season weighing 15 pounds less, because he was unable to work out as vigorously as he normally would.

Jagr - who scored his 600th goal earlier this year - has been criticized in the past for his seemingly disinterested play, particularly in Washington, but is unquestionably one of the best players to have ever laced up the skates in the NHL. He is also one of those guys that although maligned in other cities, since he arrived in New York has been a model teammate. Similar to Eric Lindros.

The question is will Jagr be able to bring New York to the playoffs for the second straight year and then will he - along with gold medal winner Henrik Lundqvist - be able to put together a long run for the Blueshirts.

Pavel Bure, a right wing, was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks 113th overall in the 6th round in 1989. He is retired and is the current General Manager for the Russian National Team. Bure, is one of those guys who the NHL sorely misses having put up 437 goals and 779 points in 702 games. Bure won a bronze medal in the 2002 Winter Olympics and a silver in the 1998 Olympics, losing to Jagr and the Czechs.

Pavel Bure's father was also an Olympian as was Pavel's brother Valeri, who also played hockey in the NHL. Pavel's father competed for the U.S.S.R. in the '68, '72, and '76 games. He lost the gold by a half a second to swimming legend Mark Spitz in 1972. Spitz became the story for his domination at that particular Olympiad.

Pavel left the infamous Red Army Team in Russia to play for the Canucks in the 1991-1992 season. He won the rookie of the year award and followed that season up by scoring 60 goals in each of the next two years. He is most noted for his awesome play during the '94 playoffs in which he scored 16 goals and assisted 15 times in leading the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Quite often when I tell people I am a New York Rangers' fan they bring up '94 and Bure. He will always be remembered for buzzing around the net against the Blueshirts. It wasn't just the numbers but the feeling you got that every time he touched the puck something was going to happen.

Sadly, his career was marred with injuries which would force him to retire after just 39 games in the 2002-2003 season with the New York Rangers. A scoring machine when healthy Pavel scored 51 in 97-98 while still a member of the Canucks, and then as a Florida Panther he tallied 58 in 99-00, and 59 in 00-01.

Bure was a linemate with superstars Sergei Fedorov and Alex Mogilny for the U.S.S.R. World Junior Team which won gold in 1989, and silver in 1990 and 1991.

Jaromir Jagr is undeniably a Hall-of-Famer. Pavel Bure should be as well, but may not get in because he was not always accommodating to the media. Bure would never kowtow to anyone. I remember Pavel being interviewed by Al Trautwig on the MSG Network and Wiggie going on and on about how great the U.S. is. Bure simply looked at him and said, "Let's make no mistake about it. I'm here to play hockey." Ouch! I'm sure those greenbacks aren't too bad either. Bure has been connected with some unsavory characters which also blemishes him. But remember the Hockey Hall of Fame is not just based on what a person does in the NHL, but throughout their career playing elsewhere. In my book, what Bure accomplished in the NHL and in International play makes him an inductee into the old bank on Younge Street in the great city of Toronto.

So who wins? Bure brought me out of my seat many times. He was the fastest and more importantly the quickest guy I've ever seen with the puck. Jagr does not go coast-t0-coast anymore - mostly because linemate Michael Nylander is the puck carrier - but is still extremely dangerous. Durability and longevity win out in this very close bout. Jagr also lists the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan as his hero. That may very well be the turning point. Therefore the winner in the "Battle of the Right Wings," Jaromir Jagr!

Heeeeee shooots and scores!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

March Matchups: Dominick's vs. Spoto's

"Ladies and gentleman we have just been notified that The Steiner Brothers have now entered the building. More on that later." This is a matchup of two of my favorite restaurants. In the corner to my right...Dominick's Restaurant...while just entering the ring...Spoto's Restaurant!

Dominick's vs. Spoto's

Dominick's is a pretty unique and well-known locale. The walls are adorned with pictures of celebrities who have dined at the eatery on Arthur Avenue, located in the Belmont Section of the Bronx - the birthplace of Dion and the Belmonts. Politicians like to drop in for food and flash bulbs on Columbus Day, similarly to when they go to Manhattan's McSorley's on St. Patrick's Day and enjoy a Guinness draft. I first was taken to Dominick's some time in high school and since then have introduced many friends to this gem located minutes from the Pelham Parkway.

Here's what to expect: There's no menu. What, no menu? Yep, the waiter comes over and tells you what they have and that's that. Sure, you can order something he doesn't mention. But expect to receive a look that says,"So the food I just talked about isn't good enough for you." I can't remember ever going that route, but was with someone who did, and saw the impact on "the check." The waiter starts you off with a salad to split, while you are mulling over what you want. I like to start with either calamari or muscles, preferably the calamari. Why? Well, unlike most places where the calamari is crispy, greasy, and rubbery; Dominick's calamari is much kinder to eat and gentler on the stomach, due to the fact that they boil their calamari instead of frying it.

For the main course you really can't go wrong. I usually make it a point to try something different each time. What stands out to me? Well, I shared with three friends once, the best dish of baked ziti I've ever had. Their eggplant is dynamite as well.

Generally speaking, Dominick's food is really good. Although I feel - as do a couple of friends - that they have slipped a little in the past couple of years. Their bread is either awesome or hard as a rock. You also sit at long tables with "other people," so if you want to have a private conversation, Dominick's is not the place.

Which leads me to the check. There is none. At the end of your meal the waiter tells you what you owe. The problem with this is that it depends on the waiter and his mood as to how much you'll spend. I've paid practically nothing and other times I've handed over a king's ransom. The night my friend ordered something that was not initially mentioned by the waiter, I thought we'd be washing dishes. The parking can be dicey as well. Get there between 4:30 and 6:00 and you're fine. After that forget it! You definitely don't want to go there on a Saturday unless you like long waits and crowded, noisy restaurants. Yankees' Opening Day is also a no-no. But I'm afraid I am being too critical. Dominick's otherwise gets a B+ from me and is definitely worth the experience.

After dinner you can make a left out of the restaurant and walk two blocks to find a couple of really good pastry shops. One in particular - which I forget the name of - is on the corner of 187 Street and is really, really good. Don't forget to take the canolis!

Spoto's Restaurant is a place I was introduced to in 2002 by a buddy from the New York Guard. We were discussing restaurants and I mentioned Dominick's and Arthur Avenue. He swore by Spoto's and East Tremont Avenue, so I figured I'd give it a try. I was really blown away! To start, the atmosphere is pretty nice; the noise level is reasonable so that you don't have to shout; the place is very clean; and the staff is very professional. Parking is never a problem as there is a huge lot next door and a couple of neighboring residential side streets almost always have open spaces.

Here what I like to eat at Spoto's: Start off and have a plate of stuffed mushrooms and then order one of their chicken dishes with a side of spaghetti. Oh yeah, the bread is always fresh out of the oven and I love to dip it into the olive oil they bring you. I next go with the chicken - Marsala or Francaise- which is always tender. The spaghetti is good and the red sauce tastes as if it is homemade.

Yes, there's a menu and your bill is itemized! So no worries about the tempestuousity of your waiter. Hey, they even bring out a dessert menu.

The portions are big so you might not want dessert. I can't eat like when I was 21, so the last couple of times at Spoto's I've passed on dessert. But the cheesecake is most certainly a home run.

My experiences at Spoto's have always been positive. It is easy-on and easy-off from the Bruckner Expressway to East Tremont Avenue. On the other hand, Dominicks is a great place to go to with "the guys." I remember going there with six friends after the Kickoff Classic at Giants Stadium. We waited a long time but had our own table which was cool. If you are looking for the whole "bottle of red, bottle of white" experience, Dominick's isn't it. Spoto's serves both purposes. If you want to go with a few friends it's fine, or if you would like to impress a date it can also win you some points. Of course, side two of Led Zeppelin Four (also known as ZOSO) never hurts in that department.

So the winner is....Spoto's. Another close one, but I give the gang up on East Tremont Avenue the duke. Incidentally, up the block is Mario's Restaurant. That's where - legend has it - the scene was filmed where Michael Corleone kills the police captain and Virgil Sollozzo in The Godfather, at the fictitious "Louies."

Happy Eating!

Monday, March 05, 2007

March Matchups: Italian Pavilion vs. Sal's Pizzeria

We continue this edition of "March Matchups," with the battle of the pizza parlors. Incidentally, ladies and gentleman, The Dudleys - Bubba Ray and D-Von - have entered the arena and are looking for some competition; seen here with Stacy"Dancing with the Stars"Keibler. I've got something in the works, but it may take some time. Stay with us...
For some of you who live in the general area, you may be quite familiar with two outstanding pizza parlors, Italian Pavilion and Sal's Pizzeria. So let's hook 'em up!
Italian Pavilion vs. Sal's Pizzeria
Italian Pavilion has been in business for a long, long time. It sits on the corner - 377 Mamaroneck Avenue - at the beginning of downtown White Plains. I've been going there since I was a little kid, and the same goes for my family. On occasion, whenever we order something, the guys always remember our name when I go in to pick up the order. Which is nice, because it means that they appreciate their customers. Generally speaking, when I go to I.P. I order a couple of slices of regular pizza and a Coke. Simple enough. The cost of their pizza is $1.50 a slice, at least it was the last time I went there, which was not that long ago. No matter what type of pizza I have ordered it is always good. Regular, peperoni, mushroom, sausage, white, Sicilian, it doesn't matter. I.P's employees are pretty friendly and their is plenty of parking in the municipal lot behind the parlor.
The inside of Italian Pavilion is like any other pizza shop. It looks a little small and can fill up fast, but people are usually in-and-out pretty quickly. Baskin-Robbins' used to be next door, which was great for a little desert. However, B & R has closed after being there it seemed for centuries and a gelato place took its place, called Classico. I have not been to the new place, but have heard good things about it. Italian Pavilion's number is easy to remember, (914) 761-6070. Their meatball parm wedges are a knockout, also.
Sal's Pizzeria is pretty well-known in these parts for their Sicilian pizza. They are located at 316 Mamaroneck Avenue in Mamaroneck. Basically, if you are driving down Mamaroneck Avenue and you begin to see the Harbor, you'll know that Sal's will be coming up soon on your right.
The parking can be tricky. I've never had to drive around the block more than once to find a spot. However, backing out can be a drag because quite often Mamaroneck Avenue is very busy - especially during the day - and people aren't so patient in letting you back out. At night, parking is generally no problem.
The pizza shop itself is sort of like a railroad apartment, in the sense that it has the general area where you place your order and then opens up into a more spacious room with plenty of tables. The regular pizza is pretty good, but there Sicilian is outstanding. My experience with Sicilian pizza has been that it can be either soggy or too crisp, with the exception of Sal's. Somehow the folks there are able to find the right balance. It is not burnt at all, the cheese is not soggy, but is just right. Their Sicilian also is relatively easy to bite through. So no problem with the pizza at all.
However, the staff at Sal's has a bit of a reputation for being gruff. That's probably the nicest way to put it. I guess they know that their product is above average and so they have definitely ticked off more than a few people I know. Many have obviously ignored the rudeness because Sal's doesn't show any sign of closing in the near future.
A dark horse is their pasta fagioli. You get a huge bowl with plenty of bread, and all for under five bucks. Today, would be a perfect day for it! If you need to know more about Sal's you can call them at (914) 381-2022.
Blogger Note: Believe me folks I'm not getting a dime or a free slice for giving out either parlor's info!
The winner of this bout as a result of a Italian Pavilion. I'm not expecting super friendly, but it's a pretty easy concept. "Hi, can I have two slices of Sicilian pizza and a Coke?" "OK that'll be $5.95." That's it. No need to slam a Coke can on the counter or throw the pizza in your direction. If Sal's pizza wasn't so awesome, they would have been out of business a long time ago. I.P. is just as good without the heartburn!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

March Matchups: Sting vs. The Ultimate Warrior

"Ladies and Gentleman! This bout is an Iron Man match! The contest is scheduled for 60 minutes. At the end of that duration the man with the most pinfalls, submissions or wins by count out and/or disqualification, will be declared the winner..." To my left from Venice Beach, California, weighing in at 255 pounds....this is...Sting!!! To my right, from "parts unknown," weighing in at 275 pounds, the former World Wrestling Federation Champion...The Ultimate Warrior!!
Sting vs. The Ultimate Warrior
Welcome to the fourth match in our special series, "March Matchups." This time it's a contest between two former tag team partners - who were once known as The Blade Runners, Sting and Rock - and worked for the old Mid-South promotion based in Shreveport, Louisiana which later became known as the U.W.F. (Universal Wrestling Federation). The two were only a team for a short time in 1985-86, but later both men went on to great prominence in the world of professional wrestling.
The Ultimate Warrior, like Dr. Strangelove, went a little funny, you know, a little funny. Hey rent the movie if you don't get the joke, it's a classic. Anyway, Jim"The Ultimate Warrior"Hellwig does not have all his buttons. The knock on The Ultimate Warrior is that if you can hang with him for more than 15 minutes, you got him beat. So Mr. Hellwig requested this be an "Iron Man" match. Sting, of course, not to be confused with the "King of Pain," obliged his former tag partner.
Although they were considered to be good as a team, and separately, many viewed The Blade Runners as ripoffs of another tag team that painted their faces, The Road Warriors(Hawk & Animal). Rock went on to wrestle for the World Class wrestling promotion as The Dingo Warrior (a heel). where he feuded with the legendary Von Erichs, before venturing on to the World Wrestling Federation in 1987. He was a two-time W.W.F. Intercontinental Champion beating the Honky Tonk Man in 32 seconds and then later regaining the belt from Rick Rude.
The pinnacle in his career, however, was when The Ultimate Warrior defeated Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI to win the W.W.F. Championship. That match was unique for the W.W.F. back then. For one it featured two "baby faces" or good guys fighting each other. In addition, both the World and Intercontinental titles were on the line. Warrior was supposed to be the guy to carry the torch for the retiring Hogan, but was just never able to do it.
The Ultimate Warrior has had an interesting career. Rumors of his demise are definitely not true. In fact, and ridiculously so, many of those rumors were fueled after he was put in a casket by The Undertaker. Hey, it was part of a story line! Warrior is still alive and has sued the W.W.F. (now called the W.W.E.) on multiple occasions. Apparently, Warrior was incredibly difficult to work with, and often times did really hurt his opponents because of his careless nature.
Steve"Sting"Borden on the other hand is an entirely different story. After The Blade Runners broke up and the U.W.F. was absorbed by the National Wrestling Alliance (N.W.A.), Sting immediately went after World Champion Ric Flair, but was unable to beat him for the belt at that time.
Overall, he's been a nine-time World Champ(N.W.A./W.C.W.) but has never wrestled for the W.W.E. Sting is probably the most popular wrestler around that has never worked for Vince McMahon. The Stinger basically has cited personal reasons, most likely the immense amount of travel that the W.W.E. does around the world throughout the year.
When McMahon bought out the W.C.W., Sting sat out for over a year in order for his contract to expire so he did not have to work for McMahon. Eventually he showed up in the upstart Total Nonstop Action (T.N.A.) where he captured the N.W.A. World title. This is a bit confusing but I think I have made sense of it. The World title which has lineage back to at least the 1950s is defended in the W.W.E. and is currently held by Batista. That belt - the gold belt - went from being the N.W.A. to W.C.W. World title. When the W.W.E. took over W.C.W., it had two world titles, the W.W.E. World Title and the World Championship. One would be defended on Monday Night Raw the other on Smackdown. The N.W.A. title was restarted in T.N.A., but does not have the direct lineage all the way back. Got it? Well, at least that makes one of us.
Anyway, Sting's finishing moves are the "Stinger Splash" and the "Scorpion Death Lock." What are they? Sting throws a guy into the corner and leaps through the air onto the guy. The scorpion death lock is when he basically pretzels the other guy's legs with his own, presumably he hurts the other guy more than himself. The Ultimate Warrior uses the "Gorilla Press" in which he lift his opponent high over his head before unceremoniously dropping him and finishing with a splash.
Both guys had awesome ring entrances. The Ultimate Warrior would run down the aisle and then would shake the ring ropes like a maniac to a rock song that I have no idea what it is. Although it does sound a lot like Led Zeppelin's Communication Breakdown. Meanwhile, Sting has been known to enter the ring by "flying" down from the rafters on a pulley. But that ended after the untimely death of Owen Hart, when he tried to enter the ring area the same way. Tragically, one of the pulleys malfunctioned causing Hart to fall into the ring and snapping his neck. Since then Sting usually enters from a spot in the arena that according to the script no one knows where he is going to come from. He is then shown to be walking through the crowd.
Sting and The Ultimate Warrior were great performers. Sting has always tried to stay out of the limelight, despite being so popular. I never hear anything about his life outside the "squared circle." Warrior has obviously been very controversial.
After 60 minutes, Sting holds the edge over The Ultimate Warrior 3-2. Therefore, I declare the winner of the "Iron Man" match to be...Sting!!
Stay Onsides!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

March Matchups: Anne Rice vs. Ayn Rand

Welcome, welcome, welcome! This is the third match as a part of "March Matchups." Tonight, we will have the battle of two truly amazing authors, Anne Rice will take on Ayn Rand. Because of my perceived bias in this one, I have been barred from ringside. So in my place tonight we have a special guest ring announcer, Tom Wolfe. Mr. Wolfe is a brilliant author in his own right. Born in Richmond, Virginia, he is most well-known for penning The Right Stuff and The Bonfire of the Vanities. Believe me when I tell you, Bonfire the book, is a thousand times better than, Bonfire, the movie. So without further delay I turn things over to our special guest ring announcer.

"Ladies and gentleman this match uh...I don't know how to do this! I know nothing about wrestling! Anyway Anne Rice is going against Ayn uh...back to you Sean."

Alright thanks very much, Tom. Now to our match...

Anne Rice vs. Ayn Rand

Some of you may know Anne Rice from my links section, "The Great Anne Rice." Yes, I've mentioned her and her great literature on this blog, oh I don't know, maybe once or twice. Seriously, you more likely know her from the movie Interview with the Vampire (1994) based on the novel she wrote of the same name back in 1976. The movie starred Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Kirsten Dunst, Christian Slater, and Antonio Banderas. Once again the book is better than the movie, but that's almost always the case.

Rice is the author of 26 bestselling books, of which your humble blogger is in the process of finishing up number 15. To say that I love her writing is the understatement of the century. Rice, 65, was actually born Howard Allen O'Brien; but told a nun on the first day of school that her name was "Anne." Apparently her mother named her Howard after the father. Pretty unusual. But I guess the mother was a pretty unique person. Rice was born in New Orleans and raised a Catholic. Although she went away from Catholicism for a while, she came back to her faith in 1998, which led to her recent work of art, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt.

Rice has been criticized throughout her career by some religious people for some of her writings, which can be on the racy side. Rice has also written erotica, using a pseudonym. But, I believe, the criticism was because of her topics and characters in her famed Vampire Chronicles. In those books in particular, Rice explored philosophy and the human condition.

You can interpret many of her books to mean more than what they on the surface are about. The character "Claudia" in Interview with the Vampire was based on her daughter, Michele, who died of leukemia at the age of five.

Her recent book explored the early life of Jesus Christ and how He felt as He started to discover who He was and what the future held for Him. One part of the book that really stood out to me, was when Jesus felt bad after discovering that many babies had been slaughtered by King Herod after He was born. Herod had ordered the killings of all newborn because he had heard that this "wonderchild" was due to be born. Christ the Lord details the return from Egypt to Jerusalem of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the rest of their family following the death of King Herod. It also talks about Christ's miracles as a child; such as when He healed a blind man outside the Temple Mount.

Despite past criticisms, Beliefnet named Christ the Lord, Spiritual Book of the Year for 2005. In addition, many noted Christian scholars have lauded Rice for her thorough research and excellent writing in her latest masterpiece.

Rice's books have sold nearly 100 million copies. She was married for 41 years to the poet Stan Rice, who died of brain cancer in 2002. Her sister, Alice Borchardt, and her son Chris, are also authors.

Ayn Rand, some will tell you her name is "Ann" while others say her first name rhymes with "wine." Either way she is a brilliant writer. She was born in Russia in 1905 and died in NYC in 1982. Rand is buried in the Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla.

She grew up during volatile times in Russia and had to move with her family when she was 12 during the Russian revolution in 1917 out of St. Petersburg. She would later return for her education at St. Petersburg University. She came to the United States in 1926 when she was 21 and was completely amazed by New York. She wrote about the great New York City skyline in her book, The Fountainhead.

Rand was big into philosophy, studying all the greats. She wove her philosophy into fiction and non-fiction. She believed in man's pursuit of his own happiness as the sole reason for living. She wholly subscribed to the satisfaction of the individual and in man's freedom and pursuit of happiness

This is what she told the graduating class at West Point in 1974, "I can say - not as a patriotic bromide, but with full knowledge of the necessary metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, political and aesthetic roots - that the United States of America is the greatest, the noblest and, in its original founding principles, the only moral country in the history of the world." We could use an Ayn Rand or two today, could we not?

Both writers are very similar in the sense that their personal philosophies on life are injected into their writings, be it fiction or nonfiction. Rice, however, tends to be on the more liberal side, whereas Rand might be described as "middle of the road." Their writings are fantastic, very descriptive, and extremely thought-provoking. Their books are very deep and are not always the type of books you can just "coast" through. However, I guarantee you that your vocabulary will improve by leaps and bounds.

The winner in this one is predictable: Anne Rice. Being a liberal, Rice probably did not want to fight early, but after Rand slugged her a few times, the basic instincts for the survival of man (or in this case woman) and her need for success drove Rice to victory. Hey, I'm the promoter what'd you expect?

Stay Onsides!

Friday, March 02, 2007

March Matchups: Coffee vs. Tea

Coffee vs. Tea

"Ding ding ding ding....This contest is scheduled for one fall with a 20-minute time limit..." So we begin matchup number two here at "March Matchups." Yes, this one is Coffee vs. Tea!

Coffee seems to be more and more of a staple in our society. Every time I turn around I see a new Starbucks or a new Dunkin' Donuts opening up. Everyone seems to be getting into the act when it comes to coffee. Most people drink coffee to get a boost of energy. Some like the taste and others do it out of routine. As we all know coffee contains caffeine, unless if you get decaf which still has a substantial amount of caffeine. Studies have shown that caffeine can be bad for you over time. Plus most people usually add some form of sugar to their cup of coffee, which again over time and in large quantities can be bad for you. You know what is also bad for you? Listening to the liberal media fawn over Al Gore!

But I think everything in moderation is OK, except for Al Gore. I like coffee but haven't had a full cup in a few months - basically because if I am at Starbucks I usually order one of those ice cold frappuccinos or a cup of tea. If I get really strong coffee it can make me feel a bit jittery, as well. I also associate coffee with cigarettes, something else bad for you, which is also highly addictive. I bet if one stays away from both that it can significantly reduce their chances of having health problems down the line. Plus, both can yellow your teeth. Ughh!

If you click this link you can find out more about coffee, but I guess it started in the ninth century in Ethiopia and then kind of spread itself out around the globe. Coffee has been featured
all over. It seemed like Denis Franz was always drinking a cup of coffee on NYPD Blue and even Frank Sinatra sang about coffee with his quick-tempoed rendition of The Coffee Song.

Besides the usual spots that are famous for coffee, I have also found surprisingly that the Hess Gas station - which is within a mile of the ramps to I-95 and the Hutch in Mamaroneck - has excellent coffee. When I was living in New Rochelle, there was a great spot in neighboring Pelham Manor on the corner of US1 and Pelhamdale Avenue called The Four Corner's Cafe that had the smoothest tasting coffee I've ever had.

Coffee can be great and it can also be not so great, I suppose like anything. Oh yeah, if you are ever constipated coffee is the best remedy. Which leads me to tea...

Tea does contain caffeine despite what proverbial wisdom may be and can even have as much if not more caffeine than coffee. Again click on the highlighted word and you can find out about its origins. You can order decaf tea, but if you want to avoid caffeine altogether look for 'caffeine free' tea.

Many people like tea with milk or cream, some add sugar. More commonly I do see folks adding a lemon. Me, I like it plain. Here's what I like: Barnes & Noble in White Plains has the friendliest group of folks working not only in the book store, but in their cafe which sells Starbucks tea and coffee and has pastries from The Cheesecake Factory, which is within walking distance. So I go there and get a chocolate mint tea made by Harney's. In fact, the other day I went to B & N and the guy behind the counter told me they were not going to be making that flavor anymore. So he suggested I buy a tin which was on sale. So for $4 I got 20 bags of chocolate mint tea. Great stuff! Smells great and does contain some caffeine but not too much. Enough that I feel awake, but not wired. Plus it is very, very relaxing. That type of tea goes great with a chocolate almond biscotti (whatever the hell a biscotti is), but that's what I like. It actually is a black tea which is supposed to be good for you with all its antioxidants. I also have heard wonders about green tea. So the winner is...

After just five minutes (usually the right amount of time to let a cup of tea sit) tea has won by using a submission hold, probably the sleeper.

As always...

Stay Onsides!