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[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Blow Up Your Friends

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Jersey Joe checks out the Action Movie App, where you can use special effects to blow up your friends, fly the USS Enterprise, create natural disasters, and more!

THE 411

Name: Action Movie FX

What: IPhone app

Cost: Free — in app purchases start at 99 cents

Website: www.actionmoviefx.com

IMG_6800JERSEY JOE RECOMMENDS:

This is a great app.  It’s been around for a few years, so I pretty much figured that they had given up on designing more scenes.  I was completely surprised when a major update came out in mid-June, so I decided to share it with you.

There are a ton of similar apps out there, but this is the only one with official effects from the new Star Trek movies.  The official Action Movie FX app is only available for IPhones, but there are a ton of similar apps for Android devices.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

[California Seething] FIFA is Terrible And So Is Everything Else

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Ahhh, the Swiss. Early in the morning of Wed, May 27, Swiss police descended very politely upon the 171 year old Baur du Lac hotel in pristine downtown Zurich to arrest a number of high ranking FIFA executives on corruption charges. As bundles of newspapers were dropped on the front steps, and the hotel’s marble floors were being buffed and polished, nattily dressed detectives walked through the hotel’s revolving doors, quietly approached the front desk, presented documents and asked for the room numbers of select guests. A concierge quickly called up to one of the rooms and said: “Sir, I’m just calling to say that we’re going to need you to come to your door and open it for us or we’re going to have to kick it in.” Seriously? Are you fucking kidding me withCal Seething- 060315- ray this shit? In my mind a police raid should be wild, chaotic, dramatic affair- a fantasia of Scorcese cliches, if you will. Fed burst in, guns drawn, doors smashed, barefoot Ray Liotta with shirt half tucked in thrown to the ground by agents in FBI logo windbreakers, a grim faced Leonardo DiCaprio restraining a big haired, coked out, blue eye shadow wearing Lorraine Bracco as she screams and claws the air, Gimme Shelter blaring on the sound track- now that’s a fucking raid! But oh no- not in Switzerland. Nooooo, they don’t want Scorcese directing their raids- they prefer a Wes Anderson approach to mass arrests. You know, police quietly approach perfectly constructed 3’ scale model of the Baur du Lac (only for some reason, this one has a funicular), all of them dressed in suits except Officer In Charge Edward Norton who is wearing a dress Alpine scouting uniform including a small green hat, which seems to remain on his head despite all the laws of physics with a yellow feather protruding at a suitably jaunty angle. He approaches Owen Wilson at the front desk, and shows his papers (a calligraphied scroll with a large gold seal). Owen calmly calls up to F. Murray Abraham’s hotel room and explains the predicament and, a few minutes later, F. Murray Abraham appears in the lobby, resplendent in tight black turtleneck, immaculately tailored, but slightly worn, muted plaid jacket, herringbone grey slacks and bright white loafers with a small gold tassle. He is surrounded by agents and led out the door by Edward Norton in slow motion,accompanied by an obscure Kinks song performed in Portuguese (natch!), as Mysterious Hotel Guest Bill Murray, wearing a rumpled grey suit and trench coat looks on intently, a single tear running down his cheek for reasons that will never be explained. And they leave the hotel with such great discretion that not even the orphan girl deliveringCal Seething- 060315- mendls pastries from Mendl’s is aware that something is out of sorts. Oh, you Swiss. Well, what can you expect from a country who’s most sophisticated weapons system has a removable toothpick.

And, of course, we, as Americans get to read about these doofy Swiss and their wacky distaste for police brutality, as well as the staggering level of corruption at FIFA and snicker with detached amusement. Hell, that’s the whole point of world news- to make us feel better about being Americans by making the rest of the world look worse (which is also how the Swiss feel when they read about Baltimore, Rick Perry and the Kardashians. Congrats BTW to Caitlin Jenner on her fabulous Vanity Fair cover. Not only is she the hottest of all the Kardashian women, she’s also had the least work done. I know a lot of people are having a hard time getting used to this- but, seriously everybody- it’s not that hard. Instead of saying “oh, that Bruce Jenner- he’s such a cheesy, fame-grubbing, reality show whore” you say “oh that Caitlyn Jenner, SHE’S such a cheesy, fame-grubbing, reality show whore” – you see- it’s who you are on the INSIDE that counts.) I mean- sure, the NFL is so absurdly hypocritical that they spent millions on a campaign addressing violence against women the same Cal-Seething--060315--jameiyear they selected a known rapist as the number one pick in the draft, so they’ve had to change the name of the campaign from  “No More” to “Oh, Maybe Just This Once” but they can’t approach the level of corruption of FIFA. Hell, if the NFL were as corrupt as FIFA, they would mysteriously choose Branson to host the next Superbowl over Phoenix and Miami (after Roger Goodell received a series of mysterious enormous bank deposits from a mister “Y. Smirnoff”),  in the dead of winter in the Ozarks in a brand new 250,000 person outdoor stadium built at a cost of 45 billion dollars and 5,000 Guatamalan lives (as an eerie silence descends over the parking lot at Branson’s only Home Depot), which will never be used again – probably a good thing because the bathrooms aren’t hooked up.

So yeah, sure- I’ve been following this story closely- can you blame me? Feeling good about America in comparison to other countries is my FAVORITE, hell that’s the only reason I watch the Olympics, but and lately America’s been making it just SO…FUCKING….HARD. We’ve got anti-vaxxers on Cal Seething- 060315- joshthe left, climate change deniers on the right and the TLC Network like a 24 hour infomercial for the decline of the American empire. Come on, TLC executives, don’t deny it. You’ve just had two of your biggest hits taken off the air cause of child molestation. 19 Kids and Counting and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo- TWO! Most people in your position would be like “huh. This isn’t good. Maybe I should seriously evaluate my programming choices”. But not TLC! You guys are probably thinking “Hello- SPIN OFF!! Josh Duggar and Mama June’s molester ex-boyfriend move to the big city- and they have to share an apartment in the only building that will take two sex offenders. It’s The Odd Couple meets Megan’s Law! We can call it 19 Allegations and Counting– logline: ‘Show me on the doll where TLC touched you’- BRILLIANT!” Alright, maybe they wouldn’t go that far- but they sure as hell didn’t wasteCal Seething- 060315- bates any time finding a shiny new family of fertility obsessed religious fanatics to replace the Duggars just as soon as Joshie’s indiscretions couldn’t be covered up anymore. Seriously what the fuck? The Duggar and Bates families are dangerous religious extremists with a terrifying ideology- and yet, somehow, we’re just supposed to overlook their hate-mongering, misogynist, repressive views because of the cutesy antics of their disturbingly numerous kids???? Only Christians could get away with this. This would never fly if the shows were on Al Jazeera and they were called “Daddy’s Lil Jihad” or “Blowing Up Bates” (firing rockets of love into living room every Thursday at 8). And that’s cause this is America- and we like our extremists the way we like our half-Chinese, half-Hawaiian female lead characters in Cameron Crowe movies: WHITE. Look, I feel a little bad for Emma Stone- she’s a talented actress and seems like a totally lovely person but she really should have known better. This is 2015 people- if you’re a white actor and someone wants to cast you as an Asian character – JUST SAY NO. Seriously, Emma- if you want to be ethnic so damn Cal Seething- 060315- rachelbadly, just work for the NAACP and be done with it. You’ll certainly get lots of media attention! The Rachel Dolezal story is so big that Caitlyn Jenner has changed her name to “Shaniqua”.

Of course, I’m acting like this FIFA thing is just some crazy story about wacky foreigners that has nothing to do with the U.S. of A- but that’s not really true is it? Cause the U.S. is actually responsible for the investigation that busted these crooks- and they’re gonna be extradited back here and tried on American soil. That’s right- we may not host the World Cup- but this is the next best thing. Hell, it’s better, cause this we might actually win! You see, there have been rumors swirling for decades that FIFA officials are corrupt- accepting bribes from countries to host the World Cup, taking kickbacks from sports marketing companies for preferential treatment, misappropriating funds- all that nasty stuff. And most countries have chosen to deal with these allegations by looking FIFA officials straight in the eye and asking them three tough questions:

  1. Hey- are you one of those FIFA officials that take bribes? If so- let’s talk!
  2. Come on, dude, you can tell me, I’m cool. You’re one of those officials that takes bribes right? Right? Right?
  3. Ok ok ok, fine. I get it. You’re NOT one of those officials that take bribes wink wink. So…OK….let’s just say hypothetically I had a gigantic 600-00954719briefcase full of money, right- just hypothetically. And let’s say I left this hypothetical brief case full of money on the table- you know- right here- and then, oh, I don’t know, let’s say I walked out of the room for, oh, let’s say…three and a half minutes while you were still in here. And- you know, when I came back, this hypothetical brief case was just, like, gone. You know, POOF magically disappeared into thin air. So…yeah…my question is…you know, hypothetically, how much money would I have to put in this brief case so that I could HOST THE MOTHERFUCKING NEXT WORLD CUP???? You know- just hypothetically. Wink wink.

But not the U.S.- no siree Bob. In the grand, American Interventionalist, who-asked-you-guys tradition of George Cal Seething - 060315- shatnerBush, James T. Kirk, John Wayne, and George Bush, the U.S. decided to clean up FIFA. Because if there’s one thing we can’t stand in this country it’s INJUSTICE (elsewhere). So we investigated our little brains out until we had enough info to charge in and drag 7 of the top FIFA scumbags out of their comfortable five star Swiss hotel beds and into, slightly less comfortable, five star Swiss jail beds (the Aryan Brotherhood leaves a mint on your pillow. A Junior Mint, which is ironic, cause it’s half black- but I don’t recommend you tell them that.). And, it’s not even like the U.S. had to make up some reason for going in, like, oh let’s say, lying about the fact that these guys had a secret stash of yellowcake Uranium (a Weapon of Mass Deliciousness). No- these FIFA idiots actually conducted their dirty business on U.S. soil- and funneled their money through U.S. banks. Seriously- how stupid do you have to be?? I mean, I know these guys are aware of a little country called… SWITZERLAND- did they not know there are banks there??? What- did they think all the billionaires just come for the cheese and chocolate? Cause they needed to replace the tiny tweezers on their knives???? Maybe a shiny new cukoo clock for their underwater lair so they have a kitschier way to count down the seconds until they launch their Doomsday Device and end the world (appropriately signaled by a hearty “koo-koo!”)???? No- they come for the banks. Because the Swiss still value “Privacy” and “Anonymity” – concepts which in the U.S. take a backseat to “Homeland Security”, “Counter-terrorism” and “Adding bacon to foods that previously did not have bacon incorporated into them, with mixed results”. And, actually- Privacy and Anonymity don’t even get the back seat- they’re shoved in the trunk, bound and gagged, and dragged to a CIA black site in Buttfuckistan and as a result the U.S. Government knows everything these FIFA scumbags were doing here and so do the Chinese.

A word, if I may, about James T. Kirk. How did this guy break the Prime Directive (“No interference with the social  Cal Seething- 060315- kirkdevelopment of the planet. No references to space or the fact that there are other worlds or civilizations”) every single goddman week for three fucking years and never get in trouble for it? Seriously- dude- is it the Prime Directive or the Prime Suggestion?? Other Starfleet officers must have hated that guy- they must have been like: “Oh, sure, I end up on a planet full of freaky ass mountain people wearing fake fur who worship the U.S. Constitution for some baffling reason even though they don’t understand what it means and can’t even pronounce all the words right, and I’ve gotta be all like ‘Cool. OK. E Plemnista. Sure that’s what it says. Whatever you say freaky Mountain Man.’ But not old Jim – he’s all like ‘Oh, you silly little Mountain folk- it’s not E Plemnista it’s WE THE PEOPLE – and this is what the rest of it says, and this is what it means, and this is why every single thing that you hold dear as a civilization is wrong. Cool? Right- gotta go back to space- later gator!’ It’s ridiculous! ‘He’s all like blah blah blah I’m James Kirk I’m gonna undermine the entire basis of your civilization and then drop the communicator and beam away and totally get away with it blah blah blah’ What a dick.”

And yeah- I know I’m talking about a 50 year old TV show- shut the hell up before I start dropping truth bombs on Twilight Zone. Seriously- there’s an alien race from a distant planet that flies all the way across the galaxy Cal Seething- 060315- aliento the planet Earth- to do what now? Turn off the power in a few suburban neighborhoods and watch us turn into assholes??? Is that, like funny to them? I’m seriously asking here- is space really as boring as that? Cause maybe if those dicks spent a little less time developing intergalactic hyper-drive and a little more time developing Netflix they could just binge watch the new season of Orange is the New Black and leave us the FUCK ALONE.

So, sure, we rounded up some of the top crooks at FIFA, but the King Rat himself, FIFA president Sepp (short for “Septic”) Blatter (short for “Bladder”) is still at large. How do we know Sepp is a rat? Well, I could go on and on about his sexism, racism, homophobia, and countless allegations of bribery, corruption, kickbacks, nepotism, abuse of his power, shady electioneering, vindictive behavior and general assholery- but, suffice it to say, that the only Cal Seething- 060315- vladprominent world leader who spoke out on his behalf after the arrests was Vladimir Putin and, by some totally strange and random coincidence, the next World Cup is in….you guessed it- Russia! Which- if I were Sepp, I’d be kind of “thanks, but no thanks” about- cause- let’s face it- even under the best of circumstances, a character reference from Vlad is like a babysitting referral from Josh Duggar- but with the World Cup being in Russia- well, it’s hard not to be just a teensy wit cynical about Vlad’s agenda. Look, Vald- I get it- you paid good money for the World Cup and you want to keep it- but honestly dude, you’re not helping here.

Of course, Vlad may have a point by suggesting that the U.S. was trying to influence the FIFA Presidential Election. Let’s keep it real- it can’t be a coincidence that this scandal broke a few days before the election, and the U.S. was supporting Blatter’s opponent Price Ali of Jordan, who had campaigned long and hard to be the very first ever character from Aladdin to be president of FIFA (“It’s a Whole New World for FIFA with Prince Ali”) . The FIFA election, BTW, is a mysterious process- similar in many ways to the election for Pope. Delegates gather from all over the world in a single location and cast their vote in a series of secret ballots. Then, if Sepp Blatter wins, the world finds out by seeing the U.S.’ chances of ever hosting the World Cup again go up in smoke.

Or….maybe not- cause after winning the election decisively and pledging to clean up FIFA, ole Sepptic Bladder resigned as President…so- hey- maybe he was serious about cleaning up, FIFA after all! And, even though he’s not actually leaving office for a few months he is COMMITTED to WORKING HARD to reform FIFA- and to prove the point- he posted THIS Instagram photo of himself WITH A PEN.

Cal Seething- 060315- sepp

Wow! Look at him go! I know I’m inspired- Here’s me working hard on getting in shape for summer:

Cal Seething- 060315- mepen

And here’s me working hard on finally cleaning out the shed in the backyard

Cal Seething- 060315- mepen

And here’s Punky working hard on not freaking out like a tiny adorable furry idiot every time someone goes by the house on a bike. Or a skateboard. Or a scooter. Or on foot. Or AT ALL. OH MY GOD – WHY ARE YOU FREAKING OUT ABOUT EVERYTHING??? CHILL THE FUCK OUT! HOW CAN SOMETHING AS ADORABLE AS YOU BE SO TERRIBLE?? Oh don’t look at me like that. You’re so adorable. You’re so cutey-wootey-wootey-wootey. You don’t have to work hard at changing anything at all. Which is good. CAUSE YOU’RE NOT. But here’s what it would look like if you were.

Cal Seething- 060315- punky

So – what does the future hold for FIFA? Who knows? And- more to the point- who cares? The fun part of the story is done- time to move on to the next big thing and forget all about it- we’ve got escaped convicts to worry about! I mean, come on- did Malaysian Air improve its radar guidance systems? Are we in Arab Summer now or is it Arab Fall? Is Ebola still, like, a thing? We don’t know cause we don’t care. Hell, we don’t want news, we want NEWS. If we really heard about what was wrong with the world, we’d never stop crying and stockpiling some canned goods- so BRING ON THE RUNAWAY CONVICTS!

Even ESPN- which covered the entire FIFA Presidential Election live while pumping Bob Ley full of all the black coffee Cal Seething- 060315- bobthey could find to keep him from seeing pink elephants and drunk texting pictures of his balls to his ex wife (“nothing deflated here, you ungrateful whore :) :) :)”) has downgraded the FIFA story to a mere item on the crawl at the bottom of the screen- right between Stanley Cup scores and Tiger Woods’ latest round of futility. It’s been a bit sad, by the way, to watch Tiger Woods struggle so mightily at the game that once came easily to him, but then it’s also kind of inspiring and uplifting to all of us who aren’t all that great at anything and fucking hate people who are. Ha! Fuck him.

Still, for the billions of people around the world that live and die by the beautiful game – I do hope that FIFA can cure it’s nasty case of Seppsis and find a way to move forward without corruption. And for the thousands of World Cup players – I do hope that they move the 2022 World Cup the fuck out of Qatar cause otherwise you’re all gonna die like a bunch of Thai workers. Oh- and – all of you bloated, corrupt fat-cats at the IOC – you’re next bitchez! Sleep with one eye open in your comfy Swiss hotels- cause Edward Norton is, very politely, coming for you.

Cal Seething- 060315- edn2

Right- that’s enough blogging for today- time to get to work!

Cal Seething- 060315- mepen

Special Thanks to Geoff Rice- I stole the idea for the Wes Anderson police raid from him. I know, I know. I’m like the Sepp Blatter of unpaid bloggers.

[Desert Droppings] Final Frontier

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I was halfway through composing a new Desert Droppings post, when our son called to share the sad news that Leonard Nimoy aka Mr. Spock, had passed away at the age of 83.
Eighty three no longer sounds as old and long-lived as it once did. And to lose Leonard Nimoy at any age is too soon.
I put aside my post – in- progress  and let memories flood in. I could picture a toddler sized shirt with Star Trek characters on it. I felt again an appreciation for Star Trek’s sly messages of respect, tolerance, and acceptance of diversity whether it be a half white- Desert- 022815- rockhalf black humanoid or a rock (which Spock’s painful mind- meld revealed to be a mother protecting her pebbly offspring). I recalled a 1980’s day at the mall where, while his sisters cringed in embarrassment, our son and I dramatically acted out Spock’s death scene from “The Wrath of Kahn.” We pressed our hands against an imaginary glass pane, gasped out the soulful dialogue, and sank slowly to the ground.

Ah, Spock. You came back to life in Star Trek III as both character and director, but, sorry to say  the encores are over.

There are people who leave a positive imprint on our lives even though we never actually meet them; people whom we expect to be there…always, whenever we choose to happily recall them.  It’s like knowing that the porch light’s lit back home, even though we haven’t been back  in a very long time.
Maybe I feel a special connection to Leonard Nimoy because he was brought up in a Yiddish speaking home as I was. Maybe I feel an aging Trekkie’s admiration for the half human- half Vulcan Mr. Spock and his humane, unshakeable logic calmly delivered with that superbly ironic arch of an eyebrow. Maybe, in the rosy glow of nostalgia, Spock represents a robust, optimistic rationality that appears to be fearfully lacking these days. From Congress to cyberspace, those that profess to inform and direct the rest of us,Desert- 022815- eyebrow go about their dubious machinations with less common sense than a tubful of Tribbles. While the media reports ever more ominous threats from “extremists” and “terrorists,” whose malevolent message we shudder to comprehend, our lawmakers toy with the notion of spitefully shutting down Homeland Security!

“Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the  needs of the few.”

We hear you, Spock!

Star Trek, of course, lives on in TV syndication and websites where nearly every detail of every scene can be viewed and commented on. Despite the now gawky special effects – “Turbulence!” (i.e. Everyone sway to the left. Now everyone sway to the right. Now fall out of your seats.)  and the sub-Shakespearean dialogue -(i.e.  “All phasers on stun!”) the show and Leonard Nimoy’s character still speak to a current audience.

Imagine if TV culture and technology had been such that each Star Trek episode was followed by a commentary show a la “The Desert- 022815- sadshatnerTalking Dead”. Think “Trek Talk” – which would have given Trekkies insights into the inner workings of the series which has inspired such a passionate, decades long following. Imagine how well we would have known Leonard Nimoy. Imagine…
Captain Kirk famously said of Spock, ” Of all the souls I have known in my travels, his was the most human.”  Considering the depravity which characterizes some human behavior today, I’m not sure that was a compliment!

Mr. Spock said of Kirk, “I have been and always shall be your friend.”  In the broadest sense of the word, the character of Spock will always be my friend, too.

Leonard Nimoy’s last  tweet said:  “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP.”

Leonard Nimoy/Mr. Spock, thanks for the moments and the memories. In crossing the final frontier, may your Katra live long and prosper.

Desert- 022815- nimoydead

 

[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Star Trek on Stage

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The cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation gathers for a panel discussion hosted by William Shatner at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City as part of the 2014 New York City Comic-con.  Jersey Joe was in attendance and offers his thoughts on how Star Trek convention are still so popular.

 

THE 411

What: cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation panel discussion

Where: Hammerstein Ballroom, New York City

Date: Friday, October 10, 2014

JERSEY JOE RECOMMENDS:

Would I ever check out another gathering of the cast? Absolutely!  I just wish that the talk had gone on for more than just 90 minutes.  Most of the people sitting around me, were a little shocked that it ended so abruptly.  Someday, I hope to travel to the big annual fan convention in Las Vegas and you can bet that I’ll be chatting all about it on here!

[California Seething] Eric Goes to Camp

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Look- I know this is going to come as a huge shock to many of you- but I was a gigantic nerd in Middle School. I know, I know- it’s practically inconceivable. I bet you’re all thinking:Cal Seething- 082814- pc

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But it’s true. I was one of the great nerds of all time. Just picture me as a young Bill Gates with no potential for greatness only through some baffling accident of Ashkenazic eugenics I was both short and lanky at the same time with a prehensile teen moustache and a gigantic hairy mole on my face so that I looked like I fell asleep early during a slumber party on the USS Enterprise and woke up with half a tribble glued to my face (Sulu and Chekhov were giggling uncontrollably but Spock was all “I do not understand why you call these ‘practical jokes’. There does not seem to be anything practical about them. Fascinating.’ And Kirk was all ‘Jesus Christ, Spock, lighten up already. I liked you better when you had Pon Farr. Now I’ve gotta wait like, what, Cal Seething- 082814- startreksix more years for you to pull that enormous rod out of your ass and fight me to the death with it while all the big brain dudes are sitting around us like ‘5 million quadrooles on the white guy.’’#mixingmyepisodesup #sosueme #nerd)

Anyhow- when I wasn’t obsessively video taping Star Trek marathons which is totally something I absolutely never did and there’s no way that you or my recent Google search “Converting VHS to digital files free software” can prove otherwise, I was cruising the Open Bar Mitzvah scene of upper-middle class suburban Albany (you know- Niskayuna GE middle manager rich- not like, la-di-da cardiologist’s daughter Loudonville rich) drowning my sorrows in extremely tiny cups of Manischevitz and trying to score a pity slow dance to La Isla Bonita with the freakishly tall girl so I could discreetly nudge her boobs with the top of my head.

All things must come to an end, though, and eventually I graduated from my little private Jewish middle school and entered the big, bad public high school in my neighborhood, Bethlehem Central High School (in point of fact- neither big nor bad. More like West Beverly High without the token black kid carrying a backpack in the background.). At this point- things really started to turn around for me! Or, rather, I started to turn around every time someone yelled “faggot!” in the hallways because that was evidently my new nickname. In fact, it wasn’t til I was in high school that I realized how good I actually had it in middle school. I mean, in middle school I was invited to parties, I was talking to girls, I was even playing basketball.  Hell, compared to High School Eric, Middle School Eric was the love child of Kevin McHale and Fonzy (Jewish on Fonzy’s side.) In High School, though, I was cut from the Freshman basketball team- a decision which the coach recently described as “hands down the easiest of my entire career. Seriously- I agonized more about cutting the blind kid” and I would have been a pariah, if the other pariahs had let me eat at their lunch table. The only highlight of the year was getting cast as an FBI agent in You Can’t Take it With You. While this tragically inspired me to pursue a career in theatre rather than law enforcement, I doubt I would have made it out of the Police Academy Cal Seething- 082814- michaelwcause I don’t like shooting black people. They may leave that little aspect of police academy training out of the Steve Gutenberg movies- but let’s keep it real- the first time Michael Winslow busted out his super-realistic machine gun noises, he would have been gunned down by Darren Wilson for sure, especially if he was wearing a hoodie. #mixingmyraciallymotivatedkillingsup #sosueme #honkey.

And, I’m pretty sure that high school would have just kept right on sucking for four solid years like Obama’s second term if I hadn’t gotten a job during the summer between Freshman and Sophomore year at Camp Givah, a Jewish Day Camp in the Helderberg, ahem, “Mountains” just south of Albany between a patch of woods, a swamp and a smallish marijuana field. Now I know when you hear “Jewish Camp” a lot of you get all Arbeit Mach Frei but there was nothing at all Auschwitzy about this place. For one thing, nobody was trying to murder all of us there and also we didn’t have working showers. I mean, this wasn’t some fancy La-di- Dachau type fancy pants camp- just a small little hippie Jewish camp in the woods.

I should be clear, also, that this wasn’t my first experience with Camp Givah- my parents actually sent me there as a camper the summer after fourth grade- the first summer I spent in the US after moving back from Israel. They chose to send me there after an absolutely disastrous two weeks at the local Jewish Community Center Sports Camp where I learned how to be picked last in a wide range of exciting sports. It’s true- whether we were playing baseball, kickball, soccer, basketball, dodgeball, football, floor hockey or water polo- I could always count on being chosen after Down Syndrome Girl and the blind kid. (Damn that blind kid! My athletic nemesis! He was the Magic to my Bird in the sense that I had no real athletic ability and he threw a great no-look pass.) Now, some would say that being chosen last like that would build character- and I suppose that’s true, if the character in question is Richard the Third cause when I wasn’t being humiliated for my physical deficiencies I was plotting sweet, sweet revenge.

Camp Givah, though, was way more chill. Sure, I still got picked last, but at least everyone laughed at my jokes about it. To really understand Camp Givah- you have to understand the 80’s. I know that we now like to think of the 80’s as the decade of conspicuous consumption but there was more to this era than slicked back hair, shoulder pads, cocaine and Swatches. Because, you see, there was a flipside to the Hateful Rich- and that was the Loveably Broke- for every Bette Midler and Danny DeVito there Cal-Seething--082814--ruthlwas a Judge Reinhold and Helen Slater; for every Mr. Burns there was a Homer Simpson; for every Molly Ringwald in Breakfast Club there was a Molly Ringwald in Pretty In Pink and for every JCC Sports Camp there was a Camp Givah (Givah is Hebrew for “Goonies”.) The JCC had sparkling clean locker rooms fully equipped with hot and cold running water and showers – and lockers! Camp Givah had a dilapidated shed (dilapidated shed was the dominant architectural style of the camp) split by a partition into Boys & Girls changing rooms fully equipped with splintering benches, ancient carpet with appearance and aroma of rotten eggplant, and a covert hole drilled in the partition between the Boys and Girls sections by skeezy Russian immigrant counselor Alex whose mission in life was to be a disturbing cautionary tale for the horrors that would occur when we got the Soviet Jews out of Russia #becarefulwhatyouprotestfor. The JCC Sports Camp had heated indoor and outdoor Olympic size swimming pools. Camp Givah had one smallish outdoor pool which was so cold in the morning that it could easily be used in viral videos to raise money for ALS but thankfully was warmed by sunshine and urine in time for the afternoon. Hell- all you really need to know to understand Camp Givah was the Camp Song that we sang enthusiastically every morning on the decommissioned prison bus that carted us up there: “Machaneh Givah- Ha Yoter Tovah Bekol America” – or, in English, “Camp Givah- the Better Camp in All America”- not the best or anything- just “better”. Better than what? Who knows! Grammatically incorrect? Who cares! All we had to know what that the bus didn’t break down and the driver was sober enough to get us to camp- LET’S SING! The JCC Sports Camp might have had the Albany Jewish community’s collar up and cardigan preppy elite- but Camp Givah was a place for….the rest of us. I didn’t learn to be cool at Camp Givah, I learned I didn’t have to be.  And I learned a whole bunch of other stuff, too- things like:

No Matter How Late You Stay Up- the Kids are Still Gonna Show Up in the Morning

Although Givah was a day camp, they instituted a program where the Counselors in Training and Junior Counselors could stay overnight a couple of days a week with limited supervision. The called this program, Bogrim which is a Hebrew word for “YOU’RE LETTING THE COUNSELORS IN TRAINING AND JUNIOR COUNSELORS STAY OVERNIGHT A COUPLE OF DAYS A WEEK WITH LIMITED SUPERVISION????? ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MIND??????”” (It’s weird that Hebrew has a word for that. Very succinct language. There’s also a word for “we’re not committing genocide- they are”.) Well, if you know teenagers or have teenagers or remember your teenage years (I’m pretty sure you’re not a teenager if you’re reading this because there’s no possible way you could have read this far) you know that if you leave a bunch of teenage misfits to their own devices they’re gonna stay up all night lying with their heads in each other’s laps solving every one of the world’s problems except how to get to second base. The one thing they sure as shit aren’t gonna do is “sleep”. Well, we did stay up all night. And it was awesome. And the next morning, at 8 AM sharp, busloads full of children showed up ready for us to Counsel them and no matter how tired we were, we had to do it. And guess what? We did! I mean, sure, we didn’t do it well– I’m sure that “fruit loop necklaces” “extended nap time” and “let’s run in circles until everyone vomits!”  were not the highlight of any kids’ summer- but, the important thing is that we got our jobs done. And that’s where I learned a valuable lesson that would serve me throughout my adult life- it’s totally cool to stay up all night and be completely irresponsible as long I can drag my sorry butt into work and do a half assed job the next day. Hurray!! Let’s hear it for being responsibly irresponsible! It’s what made me the hungover slacker I am today. And by “today” I mean- right now. Crap. Is it time for work already?

Of course we weren’t left entirely to our own devices. The Camp directors weren’t that crazy (I’m kidding, of course. They were that crazy. Fucking certifiable). There were always a couple of adults with us, if by “adults” you mean college kids who couldn’t get hired at Ground Round. And my favorite of these “adults” was our lead counselor. His name was Steve- but we all called him by his Hebrew name “Peace”…..or “Hello”- depending on how you choose to translate it (just don’t call him Annyong). “Peace” (Shalom) (Shloey to those of us pretended we were cool enough to know him well) was my Hippie Yoda. He is the one who Cal Seething- 082814- yodainspired me to grow my hair long (although it just turned into a giant unruly Jewfro), play guitar (even though I have absolutely no musical talent)  and wear wire rimmed glasses (even though my skin is allergic to the metal and I developed a weird rash #worsthippieever).  He also taught me one of the other really important lessons I learned at Camp Givah- namely

All the Lyrics to Leaving on a Jet Plane, I Know You Rider and Cat’s In the Cradle.

Look, when I was in high school, you were defined entirely by the music you listened to- sort of like today, it’s all about your peanut allergies and how autistic you are. And when I entered Camp Givah I had no real allegiances. My musical tastes were sort of “preppy agnostic” – I figured Kasey Casem knew what he was talking about, generally supported Michael Jackson and knew all too well the tragedy of grandma getting run over by a reindeer. At Camp Givah, though, my mind was expanded- and I’m not just talking about the night we drank a bottle of Manischewitz smoked all the oregano in the kitchen-although, admittedly that was pretty fantastic  despite a bad case of pizza lung. No- I’m talking about Classic Rock. Every meal-time, after singing the blessing (long version, bitchez!) and the obligatory song about how the world is a narrow bridge, so stop being such a fuckin’ pussy about it (those are the words- look it up!) he would take out his guitar and school us in the ways of the Great Rabbis: Reb Garcia, the Venerable and Holy Rabbis Simon and Garfunkel, Rebbe Robert “Bob Dylan Sounds Less Jewey” Zimmerman of Minneapolis and, of course, the Holy Trinity: Crosby, Stills, Nash…and Young. Sometimes. Crap. Holy Quadrangle. Whatever. What’s the damn problem with Y anyhow? Sometimes it’s a vowel, Sometimes Neil Young is involved- it’s like the goddamn College Freshman of the alphabet. One night it’s shaving it’s head in the bathroom at an Ani Di Franco concert and the next it’s pledging a sorority and blowing lacrosse players in the bathroom of an Ani Di Franco concert. I mean, sure, I know everybody loves Ani DiFranco- but make up your mind, Y!

It wasn’t just Shloey and his guitar, though. Much as the traditions of our ancient forefathers were passed down orally from one generation to the next, distorting and changing slightly with every generation, dating all the way back to Mount Sinai- so were the tapes of the Classic Rock Masters passed down to me, copies of copies of copies distorting and changing with every recording dating all the way back to some dude’s older brother who got his Dad’s record collection after his folks split up in ’85 and his Dad didn’t have room for records or children at his new condo in Phoenix with Shirleen. The Who, The Stones, The Dead and Zeppelin  – oh God, Cal Seething- 082814- zep Zeppelin. It’s like my whole life I had been eating Soylent Green and Star Trek style blue green cubes plopped out by the Replicator (they say it tastes totally like Bajoran Groatcake but you can totally tell) and Led Zeppelin plopped down a great big bloody slab of prime rib with a bottle of whiskey and let me gorge myself at the trough of awesomeness. It was music I could listen to with my crotch- which was all the more significant as it was the only action my crotch was seeing. I even wrote a poem about how Classic Rock made me feel. It was called “Orgasm of Rock” and it was rejected by my High School Literary Magazine in a decision which the editor would later describe as “hands down the easiest of my entire academic career. Seriously, I agonized more about making the blind kid co-editor. That kid can write” DAMN YOU BLIND KID!!! I’d give you the finger if you cared.

Anyhow, the point of all this was that Camp Givah was where I discovered my musical subculture. I entered the Camp as a lost little Lacoste wearing wanna-be preppy lamb and emerged a full blown Classic Rock Hippie- complete with guitar I couldn’t play, Jew-Fro I couldn’t comb and wire rimmed glasses that were slowly turning my face green. I had arrived! I wasn’t one of those pathetic trend following sheep any more. No sir! I was a true individual – just like all the other hippies!

But finding a musical subculture to belong to wasn’t the most important thing I got out of Camp Givah. No sir! Hell, I could have learned about classic rock from any marker sniffing degenerate dating my sister. No- the real lesson I learned there- and the one that saved my adolescence from misery and despair (not the fun kind of adolescent misery and despair, but the real stuff) was the ancient Jewish proverb:

Find Yourself a Dungeon Master and Make For Yourself A Friend

A couple of years ago I turned 40 and, while that is kind of depressing, as any Ebola sufferer will tell you, it beats the alternative. To celebrate this milestone, there was only one thing I wanted to do. Well, that’s not exactly true- there were a whole bunch of things I wanted to do but they were all illegal, medically dangerous or required me to learn how to drive. Shudder. Anyhow, I chose to celebrate by gathering the closest friends I had made at Camp for a reunion at a rented house in the desert. It was, hands down, the easiest decision in my Birthday Celebrating career- even though I didn’t invite the blind kid (Dude’s not on Facebook- not my fault. Plus his job as an internationally renowned tenor keeps him hoppin’.)

Anyhow, we hadn’t seen each other much in recent years and our paths had all diverged somewhat over the years- but when we got together it – well, I can’t exactly say nothing had changed – that’s like saying nothing changed with Mark Hammill’s face between Star Wars and Empire. We were old and fat and bald and stressed- more Homer than Bart and well on our way to Grandpa. Still, there was a connection there- after all, we weren’t merely camp friends- ours was a brotherhood forged in battle. And I’m not talking about Desert Storm or Kosovo or any of the other random little wars of the 90’s (Ahh Kosovo. Adorbs) I’m talking about real battle – battle with aboleths, kobolds, draconians and orcs (did we really fight orcs? God that seems so cliché. What a poseur Cal Seething- 082814- ddmonster- it’s like the Automatic for the People of monsters. ) For two years, starting at camp, we engaged in a practically non-stop D&D campaign. It wasn’t even a game- just an endless conversation that lasted for two years interwoven between inside jokes, “deep” philosophizing, deep dark secrets (mine always sucked), wonderfully idiotic plans for the future, and long sessions drinking our parent’s liquor strategically so they wouldn’t notice how much was gone. Ahh, so many mornings I remember getting up early to clean puke off the carpet before anyone else was up. Southern Comfort and Resolve is still the drink of my youth. The point is, though, that when I was with these guys, for the first time since coming back from Israel, I felt like I was home. And when we saw each other two years ago and again earlier this month- well, that, was everything visiting home should be and almost never is.

To be clear, we didn’t actually play D&D when we got together. Our erstwhile Dungeon Master’s wife has informed him that if he plays D&D again, she’ll add another D to the game- “Divorce”. So, yeah, Cards Against Humanity it was- which was still pretty awesome. Finally my strategy of using pedophilia jokes in card games paid off! I can’t tell you how many rounds of Go Fish I lost at Michael Jackson’s slumber parties (Woody Allen’s clarinet lessons is also an acceptable punch line.)

So- yeah- if you live in the Greater Albany Area (or Capital Region as everybody in Albany wishes you would call it already) and you have a super cool kid like that braid guy at the Emmy’s whose got tons of friends and is great at sports- by all means send them to something like the JCC Sports Camp. You can say hi to the blind kid when you pick up your son. But if your kid is, well, not so much- then I think you know where to send them – Machaneh Givah the Better Camp in all America.

Alright. That’s enough living in the past. Time to get real and get back to living in the present- the Every Simpsons Ever Marathon is on. Doh! Oh well- at least I’ll have something to write about for my next post. Woo Hoo! Now THAT is hands down the easiest Cal Seething- 082814- simpsonsdecision of my blogging career.

 

 

[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Jersey Joe’s Top 100 TV Themes (Honorable Mentions)

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It’s been a great summer counting down my top 100 TV themes.  It was a task that was harder than it looked!  I chose my top 100 based on theme, style, and if the credits properly demonstrated to viewers what the series was about.  There were many more than 100 that I wanted to feature, so here’s a few honorable mentions that came close to making my list.

 

ENTOURAGE

 

 

The Entourage opening credits featured a great theme and cool shots of the actor’s names as neon store front signs in LA.  The final overhead car shot was pretty neat, too!

 

WILL & GRACE

 

 

Will & Grace get bonus points for having one of the most unique opening credits sequences I’ve ever seen.  Whoever designed this did a great job of interspersing a few funny clips inside layers of the show’s logo, something no one else has really done.  The piano theme is pretty cool, too!

 

MISTER ROGERS NEIGHBORHOOD

 

 

Everyone who was a kid in the 70s – 90s can probably sing this theme song!  When I was a kid, I always wanted that traffic light in Mr. Rogers’ house!

 

Only people from Western Pennsylvania have probably ridden the Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood trolley at Idlewild Park in Ligonier, PA.  Sadly, that ride has closed and will be re-themed as Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and will reopen in 2015.

 

SESAME STREET

 

 

Sesame Street is really much more hi-tech now then when we were all kids, right?

 

ER

 

 

Man this was a big show back in the day… and George Clooney, wonder whatever happened to him?

 

CAGNEY & LACEY

 

 

The saxophone solos in the second version of the Cagney & Lacey credits was the best!  Much better than the jazzy theme from the forgetful first season with Meg Foster!

 

TJ HOOKER

 

 

I am so glad they are rerunning this on Universal HD… William Shatner jumping over the hood of cars, YES PLEASE!

 

THE BRADY BUNCH

 

 

Here’s another song that everybody knows.  This was taken from an early second season episode.  They would have to reshoot the opening each season as the kids grew older.

 

STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE

 

 

The second version of the opening credits to this series was the best!  I love how they added all the little ships and activity going on around the space station.

 

THE 411

 

What: TV Theme Songs

 

Use: themes used to open a TV series or cartoon

 

Purpose: introduce main cast and introduce audience to the theme of the series

 

Numbers reviewed: Honorable mentions

 

JERSEY JOE RECOMMENDS:

 

So, here are a few that I wish I could have squeezed into my top 100 list.  There are loads more that we could have gone over and everybody has their opinion, but these few really needed to be added to the list.

 

I hope through my top 100 and these bonus additions, that I was able to help you take a walk down TV memory lane.  I also hope that I got a few of your favorites on my list!  If there’s any you think I missed – I’d love to hear about it!

 

I don’t own any of the rights to these, nor did I upload them to YouTube.  This blog is presented for educational and informational purposes.

 

Image credit – Howard Walfish

[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Jersey Joe’s Top 100 TV Themes (1-10)

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Here they are – the top 10 of my top 100 TV theme songs summer countdown.  Over the past 10 weeks, I’ve been counting down ten at a time what I think are the best TV themes ever created.  The list is not just about the music. It’s also about the editing, the style of the credits, and how well they introduce each series.

 

Just like David Letterman – let’s get to my top 10 list!

 

#10 LA LAW

Airdates: 1986-1994 (NBC)

 

 

I’ve always loved that rocking saxophone intro and hit during the credits.  Over all 8 seasons, the only change to the credits was the stars, with both Harry Hamlin and Susan Dey, leaving the series and others coming and going.

 

This show has finally been released on DVD, with seasons 1 through 3 hitting stores in by the end of 2014.

 

You could look at this show as the template for which all other legal shows would follow.  Each episode featured humor as well as hard hitting drama, usually on a recent topic such as the 1992 LA riots.

 

This show may have also been America’s first introduction to vanity license plates?

 

#9 ALL IN THE FAMILY

Airdates: 1971-1979 (CBS) & 1979-1983 (CBS, as Archie Bunker’s Place)

 

 

All in the Family is one of the most controversial shows to ever hit TV.  The series was way ahead of it’s time with all the off color topics that were handled, especially for the 1970s.  Racism, same sex, and bigotry were handled with lots of laughs and that kept viewers coming back for more.  You never knew what Archie was going to say or who he was going to insult next?  Nobody was safe!

 

The show took years to develop and was originally titled Justice for All, as Archie and Edith’s last name was originally Justice, not Bunker and was to shot for ABC.  Here’s a look at the original, rare unseen pilot.  You’ll notice the different characters for Meathead and Gloria, as well as a few different lyrics.

 

 

Did you also catch the disclaimer “suggested for the mature audience”?  That would remain when the second pilot was shot, now titled Those Were the Days.

 

 

There are actually several verses of the song that were recorded, but never broadcast.  The main reason behind Archie & Edith singing in the first place, was a cost cutting measure, as there was no more money after the first pilot was shot.

 

All in the Family also has the most amount of spin-off ever for a TV show including, The Jeffersons, Maude, Gloria, and 704 Hauser.

 

Although the series ended after 8 seasons, it technically continued on as Archie Bunker’s Place for 4 more.  The focus of the show shifted from the Bunker house to Archie’s new bar, after most of the cast had no longer wanted to be part of the series.  Here’s an episode of Archie Bunker’s Place:

 

 

#8 THREE’S COMPANY

Airdates: 1977-1984 (ABC)

 

 

Originally inspired by a British show, Three’s Company was a ratings blockbuster for ABC, but was just as famous for the behind the scenes turmoil with the cast.

 

Three roommates, sharing an apartment – with Jack having to pretend he’s gay in order to stay with two women.  You can instantly see where the comedy begins, but that was far from the end of it.

 

The first big change to the show was when the Ropers, the downstairs landlords were given a spin-off of their own, The Ropers.  Check out the really bad opening to their show:

 

 

After The Ropers leave, Don Knots is brought on as new building manager, Mr. Furley.

 

 

The show continued to do well with Knotts, but Suzanne Sommers (Crissy) then demanded a pay raise, producers fought back and had her only appear in one minute taped sequences at the end of the episodes during season 4.  After her contract was not renewed, a new roommate played by Jennilee Harrison was brought in as her cousin Cindy.  She lasted for one season, before Priscilla Barnes took over the third roommate Terri.

 

 

Ratings started to dip after season 8 and ABC wanted something new, so they kept Ritter’s character and developed a continuation of the show under the title Three’s a Crowd.  This show has often been packaged with the Three’s Company episodes under the title, Three’s Company Too.

 

 

 

#7 THE GOLDEN GIRLS

Airdates: 1985-1992 (NBC) 1992-1993 (CBS as The Golden Palace)

 

 

Three widows and an elderly mother share a Miami house, a whole lot of cheesecake, and big ratings for NBC on a Saturday night.  Who knew that these four older women could be so funny?  The NBC executives did!

 

Most people don’t remember, but in the pilot the girls also had a live in cook, Coco who never again appeared after that episode.

 

The series also created a spin-off show; Empty Nest that aired in the time slot directly after, featuring The Weston’s who lived across the street.  The characters and pilot for Empty Nest was actually part of a Golden Girls episode with a different cast.

 

After 8 seasons, Bea Arthur decided to leave the show and the series was cancelled by NBC.  CBS wanted to continue with the characters, so they created a continuation known as The Golden Palace, where Blanche, Sophia, and Rose ran and lived in a beach front hotel.  It lasted for only one season.  It wasn’t that bad and would have been fine if they had kept it around for another season (which they very nearly did).

 

 

And now the big announcement – The Golden Girls have made a comeback!  Well, in the Netherlands!  It began airing in 2012 and is using old scripts and music from the original series.  Here’s a look at their opening credits!

 

 

#6 THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR

Airdates: 1990-1996 (NBC)

 

 

Just about anyone who was watching television in the 90’s can sing the theme song to this show.  They kept the opening in tact through most of the show’s run, although it too was cut down in later seasons.  Unlike, TBS who cut it down to just a few terrible shots and beats for the reruns.  Over all the seasons, there was only one minor cast change, with two different actresses playing the role of Vivian, the mother of the house.

 

There are several other verses to the theme and a few of them have made it to air.  For a handful of early first season episodes, the credits were 40 seconds longer, and contained additional scenes.  Take a look…

 

 

The Fresh Prince of Bel Air was the ultimate rags to riches story, from the means streets of Philly to the post life in LA.  Both for the character and actor, Will!

 

#5 LAVENRE & SHIRLEY

Airdates: 1976-1983 (ABC)

 

 

I got in trouble for airing this theme on our high school news.  I still don’t know why.  Some teachers are just plain mean!

 

Anyhow, Laverne & Shirley was the story of two Milwaukee roommates who were just trying to make their way in the 1950’s.  We all grew up with them, through their jobs, their dates, and their weekly adventures.  The series was a spin-off from Happy Days, where both Laverne & Shirley were introduced as love interests for Fonzie (Henry Winkler).

 

While the show mostly focused on the two title characters, their upstairs neighbors Lenny and Squiggy were also featured.  It’s been said that actors David L. Lander and Michael McKean, created the characters while high on pot one night at Carnegie Mellon University.  They toured the country with the characters as a comedy duo, before being picked up by the show.

 

I always loved how Laverne (Penny Marshall) wore an L on all of her clothes.  Her favorite drink was milk & Pepsi, a combination I’ve never tried!

 

After 5 seasons, producers decided to move the characters to Burbank, California.  It was explained that they lost their brewery jobs to automation and they wanted to start fresh.  The rest of the cast followed.  As a result, the opening credits were changed, but the now classic theme song was kept…

 

 

Usually, a move like this is a last ditch effort to boost ratings, but the ratings weren’t that bad and the show held on.  In season 8, actress Cindy Williams who plays Shirley, became pregnant and after some harsh negations with the network, was let out of her contract.  She disappeared after two episodes with a note apologizing to Laverne.  The show would continue on as Laverne & Shirley, with Williams name and shots removed from the credits.

 

 

But, the show without Shirley just couldn’t make it.  Even Lenny was gone by the end of the season.  The LA episodes were still good, but they should have kept the series in Milwaukee making beer.

 

#4 THE FACTS OF LIFE

Airdates: 1979-1988 (NBC)

 

 

The Facts of Life focused on four girls and their housemother at an all girls school in Peekskill, New York.  But, that’s not how the series started.

 

The head housemaster, Mrs. Garrett (Charlotte Rea), was actually the housekeeper for the Drummonds on the first two seasons of Diff’rent Strokes.  During the second year, NBC executives loved the character and producers sent the Drummonds to visit an all girls school upstate as a potential place for daughter Kimberly (Dana Plato) to enroll.  Garrett is offered the job, but turns it down at the end of the episode, only to reconsider and take it during the summer hiatus, leaving her to suddenly disappear from Diff’rent Strokes.

 

During the first season, there were about a zillion different girls, along with a different headmaster.  While the theme song was written by Alan Thicke (who we’ve discussed before), for this season Charlotte Rea herself sings along!  Take a listen and look at all the confusion as the editor tries to squeeze the giant cast members into boxes!

 

 

After the first season was done, producers retooled the show, letting many of the girls go, and reformatted the sets and role of Mrs. Garrett.  I kind of wish they would have kept all of the cast, but adding Jo (Nancy McKeon) in season two was pretty cool.  The changes worked and the show scored high ratings.

 

It was during season 6, that the opening credits took on an updated rock version of the theme, but the biggest change was about to happen at the end of season 7, when Charlotte Rae decided to leave the series and passed the torch to her long time friend Chloris Leachman as her sister Beverly Anne to take care of the girls.  Check out the updated intro after a retro Saturday night NBC promo.

 

 

The show was never as good without Rae and it was cancelled after two seasons in this format.  Had she stayed with the show, who knows how long it could have been on the air?

 

#3 CHEERS

Airdates: 1982-1993 (NBC)

 

 

Who wouldn’t want to pull up a stool at the bar where everybody knows your name?  If this thing was in my neighborhood, I’d be a regular!

 

Cheers was a staple of NBC’s Thursday nights, but was almost cancelled after a low rated first season.  The producers worked out the bugs and kept the laughs coming with this great group of barflies week after week.

 

The opening theme has become a TV classic and is featured prominently on the new Cheers slot machine on casino floors!

 

The show underwent many cast changes, starting in season four with the off-screen death of Coach (Nicholas Colansanto).  He’s replaced by Woody (Woody Harrellson) as head bar tender for the rest of the show’s run.  Shelly Long, who plays Diane decides she wants to leave the show to pursue an ill fated movie career and is replaced by Rebecca (Kirstie Alley), who first manages the bar, then burns it down.  Kelsey Grammer as Frasier and his wife Bebe Neuwirth as Lillith would eventually join the cast as main characters as well.

 

Though all the changes, America still loved to tune in and see former Red Sox player Sam Malone (Ted Danson) keep everything together, no matter what.

 

Here’s a look at a later set of opening credits, with the awesome song and classic pictures, and the cast changes.

 

 

#2 STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION

Airdates: 1987-1994 (Syndicated)

 

 

This show has one of the best musical scores in the history of television.  Not only did it have excellent writing, excellent acting, it also had a full orchestra that gave every episode an epic feel.  I was glued to the TV each week and would sit there for the end credits, just to see the promo for what was coming next week, hoping it would be a new episode.

 

Star Trek: The Next Generation was a spin-off of the original 1960’s Star Trek series and an earlier version almost made it to the air in the 1970’s as Star Trek: Phase II, using many of the same elements such as the Riker – Troi romance.

 

The show has been in reruns, non-stop since the series left the air and every episode is now being remastered and released on Blu-Ray.

 

I’ll still stop and watch every time it’s on. I put in on in the background just about every day at work.

 

The cast stayed mostly intact, throughout the seven year run with only Denise Crosby as Tasha Yar and Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher, leaving the series.

This show also launched two official spin-offs, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager.  Another spin-off Star Trek: Enterprise has loose connections to this show as well.

 

Check out the opening credits for the original pilot… notice anything different?

 

 

#1 DALLAS

Airdates: 1978-1991 (CBS) & 2012-present (TNT)

 

 

So, here’s my pick for the best ever TV theme – Dallas!

 

The show was must see TV for anyone with a set on Friday nights.  It’s the story of Ewing Oil and the crime, corruption, and family battles for the empire.

 

At the center was tycoon J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman), who was the only character to appear on every episode of the original CBS run.  The classic Who Shot JR? cliffhanger episode left America gasping to know who pulled the trigger and would the character survive during the six month summer hiatus of 1980.

 

Through the 14 seasons, there was a large turnover in the cast that is far too many to go into in this countdown blog.  Here’s a look at the opening as it appeared during the final CBS season.  One mistake they made was getting rid of the iconic three way boxes that were featured on every episode, except for the last two seasons.  But, the iconic theme was there in all its glory!

 

 

I was too young to fully understand this show during the early seasons, but I know how much I loved the theme.  My grandmother would watch the show and I would make sure to stick around for the opening credits, before running away to play with Matchbox cars or whatever I did as a kid.

 

Most of the main characters stayed including Ewing, Duffy, and Gray, all of which would return for the TNT remake that launched in 2012.  It’s awesome that they still kept the music, although they have shortened it a bit for modern audiences.  Hard core fans of the show should be able to tell where the music edit is.  Take a listen and see if you can spot it…

 

 

One thing you can definitely spot is the changes to the Dallas skyline over the two decade hiatus.

 

Sadly, actor Larry Hagman passed away last year during season two of filming.  His character JR was also killed off the show, using some unused takes that had already been shot.  The producers paid homage to Hagman with a special orchestration of the theme and special opening credits featuring Hagman, that are nothing short of poignant, touching, and absolutely respectful.

 

 

 

THE 411

 

What: TV Theme Songs

 

Use: themes used to open a TV series or cartoon

 

Purpose: introduce main cast and introduce audience to the theme of the series

 

Numbers reviewed: 1 – 10

 

JERSEY JOE RECOMMENDS:

 

So, here they are… the final 10 of my top 100 TV themes!  Did you find any of my choices shocking?  Again, these weren’t chosen just for the music, but also for the editing style, and how well they introduced the series and characters.

 

Next week, I’m going to do a special HONORABLE MENTION blog.  I have a few shows, that didn’t quite make the list that we should take a special look at.  Let me know what you thought of the countdown. I hope that many of your favorites as well as a few surprises made the list.

 

I don’t own any of the rights to these, nor did I upload them to YouTube.  This blog is presented for educational and informational purposes.

 

Image credit – Eduardo Basto

[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Khan Finally Gets Revenge on Admiral Kirk

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Of all the Star Trek movies ever produced, the second film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is generally regarded by fans as the best.  Khan, a generically engineered human seeks revenge on Admiral Kirk after stranding him on a dead planet on the original TV series.  Kirk and Khan get into several epic battles during the film, but this version I found on YouTube was sadly, not part of the original feature.  Had the two battled in this manor, perhaps the end result would have been different?

 

Khan is a super intelligent human; it was engrained in him as part of his genetic engineering when he was created back on Earth.  His “superior intellect,” as he calls it, allows him to be a superior tactician.  It’s this intellect that helped him to become the largest ruler back on Earth and narrowly be defeated by Captain Kirk in their first encounter on the season one episode.

 

But, as you will see in this video, it’s not phasers or photon torpedoes that Khan uses against Kirk. It becomes a mind battle!

 

 

So, do you think Khan is the winner?

 

THE 411

 

Film: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

 

Release date: June 4, 1982

 

Rating: PG-13

 

Starring: William Shatner as Admiral Kirk and Ricardo Montalban as Khan

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JERSEY JOE RECOMMENDS:

 

I happened to be surfing through YouTube the other week and came across this.

 

I love when fans add fun gags to already existing films and upload them to YouTube.  Hopefully, it won’t get taken down due to copyright violations, but let’s thank Tom Gigliotti for his awesome work on this.  The video has been online since May 2008 and has scored almost 140,000 views.

[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] When William Shatner Was a Game Show Host

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He’s battled Klingons, starred in big blockbuster movies, and speaks his lines with big dramatic pauses as he tries to remember the words; but there’s only one William Shatner.  The Canadian born actor loves to perform, but one of his greatest performances has already been mostly forgotten and was mostly missed – and that’s his brief stint as a game show host.

 

In 2006, the ABC television network got into the big money prime time game show craze with their new show Show Me the Money.  The show, which was one giant spectacle and hosted by William Shatner, was sadly cancelled before all the episodes could be broadcast.

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The series featured 13 “Million Dollar Dancers,” who each held a scroll that contained 12 different dollar amounts and one killer card.  The contestant would be presented with a category that started with the answer and three possible choices for questions.  Once they chose a question, they would have to answer, and then select one of the dancers who would reveal the amount of money on their scroll.  If their answer was right, they got the money on the scroll, if it was wrong it was deducted from their bank.  Answering 6 questions either correct or incorrect ended the game.  If the one “killer card” was revealed, the contestant was placed into a sudden death situation, where an incorrect answer immediately ended their game, or a correct answer allowed them to move on.

 

Besides the hot models, the fun part of the show was William Shatner.  Shatner is at his best when dealing with outrageous contestants.  It was nice to see him ad-lib and dance right along with the models.  In fact, the show really didn’t seem to be about the quiz at all, but more of watching Shatner and 13 models dance.  Before going to commercial break, Shatner would scream a random dance to the models and everyone would hilariously dance to break!

 

Here’s a look at the pilot episode of the show:

 

 

Sadly, the show never really caught on and was cancelled.  Seven episodes were taped and five were aired.  The odd thing is that executives at ABC at first thought this show would work and ordered an additional 7 episodes, but then quickly changed their minds, and cancelling the show a week later after episode 5.

 

The ratings were so bad, when the Game Show Network aired the reruns; they had to cancel the show again after only reairing the first two episodes.  The final two episodes have never and most likely won’t ever see the light of day.

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THE 411

 

What: Show Me the Money

 

Type: TV game show

 

Host: William Shatner

 

Airdates: November 14 – December 13, 2006

 

Number of episodes: 5, plus 2 unaired

 

Network: ABC

 

JERSEY JOE RECOMMENDS

 

The concept was corny and over the top, but Shatner made it work.  ABC should have moved the show to another night and gave it another shot.  This could have also worked as Saturday night network TV filler, instead of on a tough Tuesday night with big time competition from the other networks.  I could see this on playing in the background at a packed bar on a Saturday night, getting laughs.

 

Very little video of this show is still online, so take a moment, and laugh at the hilarious first episode while you can, because as the ratings show most people missed it the first time around.

 

“Ladies, let’s salsa!”williamshatner2