Tuesday, March 31, 2009


APBA Baseball (official site) is a lot like Strat-O-Matic, except most of the action is determined by charts instead of the cards. The basic game is almost too basic - all but ignoring things like stolen bases and lefty/righty breakdowns. The master (advanced) game, however is sublime - a very fair approximation of the real thing.

I switched from Strat to APBA at some point (early ’80’s), and then back again. (And then back again, and so on...). Despite the decline of table-top (and text-based computer) games in the Playstation era, I have yet to play a decent baseball video game that gives me the same thrill as APBA.

When I was a kid, I dreamed of visiting the APBA offices in Lancaster, Pa - a nice little brick building depicted on the box of the ‘70s era Master Game (see above). One Saturday in 2007, I finally did. It was in dire need of some landscaping (and looked much smaller in person) - but it was the building I remembered from my youth.

Of course the office is closed on Saturday, so all I could do was snap a few pictures.

I returned last year - with my wife in tow - to buy a baseball game in person. Their “store” is a large wood-paneled room that looks more like a small banquet hall. The walls are decorated with pictures of mostly middle-aged men playing the game at conventions and such.

We were followed into the store by a middle-aged man who seemed to be there solely to chat up one of the employees about a game he was playing (in progress). I believe the best word to describe my wife’s expression during the visit is “bemused”.

APBA also sells a Football game. In their day, they also sold Basketball, Ice Hockey, Bowling, and Saddle Racing games. A revamped Ice Hockey game is making a comeback later this year.

Here’s APBA President Marc Rinaldi demonstrating the game at a trade show.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Cop Out!

Here's a failed pilot from the '70s for a game show called Cop Out!

Everything about the show is lame, from the failed-attempt-to-be-hip of a title, the all-too literal set, the bad hodge-podge of pseudo-celebs, the flimsy-as-hell premise...

You can actually tell when the show "dies" - it's around the 3:52 mark when Ann Elder admits she was "copping out". The almost total anti-climax is greeted with a dull thud from the studio audience (assuming there is one), and forgive me if I'm wrong, but do I hear the producers murmuring in the background?

Strat-O-Matic Baseball

I received Strat-O-Matic Baseball as a gift in 1975, and played it obsessively for many years following – taking time out only for meals and the ocasional shower. The day each Spring when the new player cards would arrive in the mail - was second only to Christmas and last day of school as the happiest of the year.

Strat-O-Matic has great Basic and Advanced rules that are easy to play and easier to learn. Most of what you need to know about the game can be inferred from the individual player cards which have most of the play results printed right on them. Each year, they print new cards for just about every player based on the previous season.

The game has a great Lefty/Righty system – with results for batters broken out against left-handed and right-handed pitching. (And vice-versa for pitchers). For many years, Strat was the only game that had this distinction.

Being a Phillies fan, I played that team more than any other - probably wearing out the Steve Carlton and Tug McGraw cards. My second favorite was probably the Royals (George Brett, Dennis Leonard). Most of what I knew about the Royals when they played in the 1980 World Series was from playing the team in Strat-O-Matic through most of the late ‘70s.

I was also a fan of the 1975 Milwaukee Brewers (for some reason - maybe because they had boyhood hero Hank Aaron at DH), the 1977 “Bronx is Burning” Yankees, Billy Martin’s 1980 Oakland A’s (five solid starters and Rickey Henderson), the 1980 Expos (great pitching - Steve Rogers and Charlie Lea, and unbelievable baserunning - Tim Raines, Rodney Scott, and Andre Dawson.)

It used to be easy to find Strat-O-Matic in stores - it was readily available at KB Toys at the mall, for example. At some point (mid ‘90s) it became less available. These days, you need to either order it online, or go to a “gaming” store like The Complete Strategist.

Last season I purchased a new version of the Strat-O-Matic Advanced game (with the 2007 players) for old time’s sake. Although it’s still is a great game – new “Super Advanced” rules make things a bit more complicated. (I refer primarily to complex new base-stealing and cutoff rules).

Strat-O-Matic also sells Football, College Football, Basketball, and Ice Hockey games. (Besides Baseball, their Ice Hockey game is probably the best of the lot). And if I’m not mistaken, they still support computer versions (Windows only – of course) of each game.

I don’t really have an interesting link to accompany this post (you could always visit the official site) – so I leave you with this fascinating Google Street View of the company’s headquarters in Glen Head, Long Island.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sherco Grand Slam Baseball

Sherco’s Grand Slam Baseball was the only tabletop game that attempted to use real ballparks, weather effects, and hit locations. For example, a routine fly ball might turn into a single if your fielder was positioned too deep, or it could turn into a homerun if the wind was especially fierce that day.

Sherco was played on a 28x28 grid representing a baseball field. It came with diagrams for each major league stadium (and a few classics) - so you knew where the outfield walls were.

Player positioning was a key feature. Whereas other games never got more sophisticated than “Infield In/Infield Back”, Sherco let you position your fielders exactly on the grid. You could shift your outfield to target a pull-hitter, for example.

For me, the gimmick didn’t quite work. You had to count the number of grid squares based on the fielder’s throwing arm. Routine ground balls required numerous checks, especially with runners on base.

Sherco also gave you the ability to play with any player in history using their ratings formulas. This was a real break, especially if you had a Baseball Encyclopedia handy. (It would be even better now that all this information is readily available on the Internet).

I always like the idea behind Sherco, if not the execution. I once tried - with mixed results - to integrate the game’s ballpark effects into Strat-O-Matic.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday Morning TV Comic-Book Ads

Just because Saturday morning television sucks now (Cake, Jane and the Dragon, Veggie Tales and such), is no reason why we can't enjoy the thrilling days of yesteryear when it sucked a little bit less.

Our friends at Stupid Comics have two whole pages devoted to this topic here and here.

All-Star Baseball

As baseball season approaches, I’d like to take a look at some of the many table-top games I used to play (and still occasionally do).

All-Star Baseball was an entry-level game that was widely popular. Unlike Strat-O-Matic and APBA, All-Star was relatively cheap (about the same price as Monopoly) and pretty much available at any toy store.

Uniquely, the game used spinners instead of dice, and rounded player cards instead of square ones. The cards contained numbers which roughly approximated how a player would perform in real life. The set I owned (1975 or so) contained an assortment of big named “All-Stars” from the majors (Joe Morgan, Reggie Jackson, etc...), but not a complete set of teams (as the other games did), and no Phillies - which was important to me back then.

I played the game pretty much every day for years. All-Star was so simple, you could bang out a game in 10-15 minutes. And I knew the numbers by heart and still do - 1 is a homerun, 11 is a double, 13 is a strikeout, 7 is a single. I became so enamored of the game and it’s oddball assortment of players, that when I wore out the game box and spinners after a year or two of play - I insisted on buying a replacement that contained the exact same players.

The best player in All-Star (for me, anyway) was Lee May. In real life, May was a decent firstbasemen for the Astros, but in All-Star he was a cross between Babe Ruth and Roy Hobbs. If I had played him for a full season, May likely would have been good for 150 or so homeruns. (This probably has more to do with my liberal interpretation of the spinner than the accuracy of the game).

There is a great article about All-Star Baseball and it's creator, Ethan Allen, here. It’s a shame that the game company (Cadaco - the same company that still makes Bas-ket) doesn’t sell it anymore, because I think kids would still love it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Top 10 Movie Gimmicks

I'm linking to the Top 10 Movie Gimmicks, only so I can wax nostalgic about one of them - Sensurround - a technique which gave the illusion that the theater was shaking.

As far as I know, it was only ever used in two films - Earthquake and Rollercoaster. I saw them both, and even saw Rollercoaster twice.

I didn't realize Earthquake was such a dreadful movie at the time (Lorne Greene plays Ava Gardner's father for chrissakes) - I was too fascinated by the brief sequences where the theater appeared to be shaking. It was the moment in my life when I first discovered the term "richter scale".

Rollercoaster was a much better movie. A real gem from the '70s about a mad bomber who blows up rollercoasters - starring George Segal as a detective. I actually saw this twice, and then watched the non-Sensurround version when it played on TV.

Turns out "Sensurround" was a bit of a rip-off; just an exaggerated loud sound that made the seats vibrate. (And I always thought the theaters had to be specially wired!)

U.S.A. Sitcom Map

Here is the U.S.A. sitcom map from DanMeth.com. I am a bit disappointed they left out One Day at a Time (Columbus, Ohio Indianapolis, IN).

The complete set is here.


I think the Beatles' best song was Revolution (the single version; an incredibly powerful B-side to Hey Jude that I am old enough to remember my brother purchasing new at the record store). The Beatles did a great semi-live version of it on David Frost's U.K. show (which aired on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in the states). Nothing I could wax lyrical about it would rival enjoying it for yourself here.

Revolution never appeared on an original album. Two songs on the classic White Album bore similar names - Revolution 1 and Revolution 9. Revolution 1 was the slower, original version of the single, but Revolution 9 - well, that's a story for another time.

A bootleg version of "Revolution 1" was recently leaked to the internet - a full 10:00 recording which contains elements from "Revolution 9". It was the original intention of how both songs were to be presented on the album, and it can be heard here.

Beach Volleyball Player Faints

She's okay - it seems she had only just been told that Sean Penn is going to play Larry Fine in a Three Stooges movie.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sean Penn is Larry Fine

From IMDB:

Sean Penn, Jim Carrey and Benicio Del Toro have been lined up to star in a new movie based on 1930s comedy icons The Three Stooges.

Director siblings the Farrelly Brothers are behind the new project, about the slapstick antics of Moe and Curly Howard and Larry Fine.

Oscar winner Penn is expected to play Larry, with Carrey and Del Toro taking on the roles of Curly and Moe, respectively, reports Daily Variety.

The project marks 48-year-old Penn's first comedy movie since 1989's We're No Angels.

It's too early for April Fool's, right?

New Zoo Revue

The New Zoo Revue was a syndicated kid's show that ran from 1972 to 1977 (and probably for much longer in repeats).

It starred a frog, an owl, and a hippo - actually costumed representations thereof - and two humans named Doug and Emmy Jo. Hard to believe, but Doug and Emmy Jo were married in real life; he was a grade-A schlub, and she - with her short skirts and go-go boots - was the bee's knees. Well at least that's the way it seemed to an impressionable young Golem.

Today's clip
features Mr. Dingle the "mailman" character. For some reason, every kid's show had a mailman in it back then - all happy and cheerful; belying the fact that in reality mailmen have none of these qualities.

He is portrayed by no less than Chuck "Love Connection" Woolery.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Google Maps StreetView in the UK

Just a reminder that Google Maps StreetView now covers several key cities in the U.K., including London, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, and several others.

You can take a virtual stroll around such historical places as Abbey Road (above), Westminster Bridge, and the Golem's favorite comic book store and pub in Glasgow.

Billy West

Here's the great Billy West imitating Howard Stern and Jackie "The Joke Man" Martling.

I'm not sure where this is from, but the imitation - especially the cadence during the commercial parodies - is remarkable.

APBA / Steven Pappas

I still sometimes play APBA Baseball - a tabletop card game that accurately recreates the big-leagues. (Someday I hope to post about my visits to the APBA Game Company in Lancaster, if I can figure out a way to make the story interesting).

Although games like APBA and Strat-O-Matic may seem hopelessly old-fashioned in these days of Playstation and X-Box, I still find that video games have never quite captured the spirit of baseball much like APBA does.

In researching APBA on the web, I came across this site by the son of former major-league pitcher Milt Pappas (above) - Steven Pappas.

You see, some people like to play APBA to recreate entire seasons. Steven used it to recreate every season. (Well, every season from 1876 to 1989 at least - I guess he's getting on with his life until he picks up the slack on the remaining years).

Among the "alternate Pappas reality" highlights - his Dad's team beat the much-better Cardinals in 1968, Willie Mays hits 69 homeruns in 1962, and the Phillies won the World Series in 1976.

Where are they Now? (Animals Edition)

Time to find out whatever happened to Mr. Bigglesworth (above) and all your other animal favorites from TV and Film.

Note: The site makes you watch a 15-second commercial before giving up the goods.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Danny Bonaduce

On the days when I drive to work, the radio program I listen to the most is The Danny Bonaduce Show on WYSP. I can't explain exactly why - the show consists mainly of inane banter from Danny about how tough he is, and overplayed hard rock from the 90's.

To give you some idea of the level of intelligence on the show, this past week brought listeners a lengthy discussion from Danny and Company about who would win in a fight between an eagle and a wildcat.

Danny is set to "wrestle" pro Eric Young at an upcoming TNA pay-per-view. Young was the surprise guest on Danny's Friday show, and I'm sure you can all guess what ensued. If you hang in there and watch the whole video, you will be rewarded by witnessing the most-fake slap you've ever seen - followed by a nonsense floor-scuffle between a relatively unknown wrestler and the former Partridge bassist.

To give you some idea of the level of TNA as a wrestling promotion, the WWE has signed Mickey Rourke to be at their next big pay-per-view. TNA has Bonaduce.

Let me Google that for you...

If you're sick and tired of people asking you for information that they could easily answer for themselves - by looking it up on the internet - then here's the site for you.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Wheel of Fortune

Well, something we've always hoped would happen - finally did.

Esther Rolle

Today, we examine the less-than-dulcet tones of Esther Rolle - aka TV's "Florida".

Rolle hit the TV jackpot in the 1970's when she turned a co-starring "sassy" maid role on Maude into her own spinoff series: Good Times. This was back in the day when producer Norman Lear could spin-off anyone or anything into a new (usually hit) series.

Esther got a record deal at some point, despite having all the vocal chops of a wheezy old air-conditioner. She chose to go the Ed McMahon route and narrate instead of sing, but it's still an assault on the eardrums.

[MP3 courtesy AprilWinchell.com]

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Peter and Gordon

Sometimes it's amazing to consider the songs Paul McCartney chose not to record with the Beatles. We've talked about it here and there, but today I'd like to discuss "World Without Love" - a song that would have been a natural fit on any of the early Beatles albums, and could easily have been a #1 single for the band (not that they were hurting for #1 singles).

Paul was dating Jane Asher, sister of Peter Asher (above) - and supplied the band (Peter and Gordon - a duo Asher formed with Gordon Waller) with their biggest hits: this one, "Nobody I Know", "I Don't Want to See You Again", and "Woman". Peter later went to work for Apple Records - where he signed (and later managed) James Taylor, but I digress...

Anyway, try to watch today's video without thinking how much Peter Asher looked like Austin Powers. Also, try to watch them as they "walk around" at the 1:50 mark, without noticing how incredibly lame it is.

Cheech & Chong meet Dick Clark

Here's one I vaguely remembering seeing when it originally aired (in 1973) - Cheech & Chong appear on American Bandstand, and generally trash the set.

Monday, March 16, 2009

More Pacemakers

We looked at Gerry and the Pacemakers last week - specifically lead singer Gerry Marsden's association in Britain with the song "You'll Never Walk Alone".

Here's the Pacemakers again, singing one of their biggest hits - "Ferry 'Cross the Mersey" from the film of the same name. The Pacemakers had the same manager (Brian Epstein) and producer (George Martin) as that other famous band from Liverpool - so you know they just have to be good!

Spock Must Sing!

Let's listen as Leonard Nimoy warbles a remarkably maladroit rendition of "Both Sides Now" inspired - possibly - by the time he caught caught in the transporter during the novel "Spock Must Die!"

[MP3 courtesy of AprilWinchell.com]

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Watchmen Credits/Titles

Saw Watchmen today and loved it.

One of the most memorable sequences in the film has got to be the opening titles. Set to the tune of Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'", the credits provide much of the back-story involving the characters, and the alternate U.S. history depicted in the film.

It's viewable here, but Warner Bros. is so keen to keep pulling it down, it will likely soon be gone.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Watchmen / Alan Moore

Alan Moore - brilliant author of my favorite comic Batman: The Killing Joke, not to mention V for Vendetta and The Watchmen (among others) won't see a dime from the latter's multi-million dollar box-office take.

The Poetry of Herman Munster

Herman wows the beatniks with his poetry skills.

Note: It was mandatory for 60's sitcoms to devote entire episodes to counterculture hippies (or since this is from early in the decade - beatniks). It's plausible that Herman and the gang could meet a gang of beatniks, and I'll even give you Gilligan's Island and Star Trek (space hippies!) - but when they showed up on Hogan's Heroes for chrissakes...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Batman Dancing

Here we have a legendary scene from the 1960's Batman TV show - the man himself (Adam West) dancing the Bat-usi with Jill St. John.

Painstaking research reveals that he also did it here with a Cleopatra look-alike.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

You'll Never Walk Alone

In the U.S., "You'll Never Walk Alone" is a song probably best associated with Jerry Lewis and his telethon, but in the U.K. - it is a sports anthem best associated with the Liverpool and Celtic football clubs.

Today, we look at two clips - first, Gerry and The Pacemakers perform the song set to stirring images of Liverpool. (The recording was #1 in Britain for four weeks).

Next up, it's Gerry Marsden again - leading the crowd at Celtic Park in Glasgow. It seems both Liverpool and Celtic share strong ties with Ireland and a similar working-class ethos. It's pretty remarkable to watch the fans sing together as one, isn't it? Great stuff!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Return of Clunk Click

Due to overwhelming demand (???) - we present another edition of Clunk Click Every Trip featuring that great English weirdo Sir Jimmy Saville, OBE.

In this one, Jimmy meets Maximillian, a wheelchair-bound young man who was injured in an unfortunate accident where he was not wearing a seat-belt. Why Jimmy calls the kid an "old fruit" is beyond me - it must mean something different over there. He also makes an unfortunate crack about Max not going to the disco anytime soon.

Ah - good times.

Disturbing Comics

Luthor turns Superman into a baby, and then punches him in the back of the head with a kryptonite glove. Did I mention he's already killed Batman and Flash using similar methods?

Click for a better view - if you dare!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Clunk Click

As a public service for those of you who may be driving home after reading this - we present Clunk Click Every Trip featuring beloved English creep Jimmy Saville.

Monday, March 9, 2009


I'm not sure what this is, but it's so weird I have to link to it.

I think it may be just one guy doing both impressions, but it's hard to tell these days.

Blow up Wolverine


Matt Vasgersian

MLB Network's Matt Vasgersian drops the F-bomb live on air.

I don't usually like to link to "point your camera at the screen" videos, but this one has the superior sound quality.

Maureen Starkey

It's amazing how you can be a Beatles fan all your life and still learn something new every day.

In 1968, in honor of (Ringo Starr's wife) Maureen Starkey's then-upcoming twenty-second birthday, Apple executive Peter Brown convinced Frank Sinatra to record a re-worded version of his hit "The Lady is a Tramp" in honor of Maureen. It was called "Maureen is a Champ" - and was pressed as Apple #1. Only one copy was ever made, and given to Maureen as a birthday present.

Someone over on YouTube set the song to a slide-show of pictures, and you can see and hear it here.

And now for some random trivia about Maureen: That's her cheering loudly at the end of the version of "Get Back" that appears on the Let It Be album. Paul says, "Thanks, Mo" immediately after the song.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Chris McDaniel

On Saturday, I attended a "comedy magic" show at West Chester University.

For a magic show, it was remarkably lean on tricks - only two of the five acts were magicians. There was a juggler, a bullwhip expert, and a creepy MC who made giggling jokes about wildfires in California. Oh, and for some reason - lots of clowns.

I found the trick-rope/bullwhip guy (Chris McDaniel, above) most entertaining, but I'm not sure the audience of mostly YouTube-generation little kids understood that it takes real skill to make a bullwhip crack.

I was initially dubious of the MC's claim that McDaniel had once appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, so I did a little digging and found the video evidence on McDaniel's website. Sure enough, he was on the show.

Was it anything? You be the judge.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Batman and Robin meet Colonel Klink

More Hogan's Heroes frivolity, as everybody's favorite Nazi - Colonel Klink - meets Batman and Robin during an episode of the Batman TV series from 1966.

For being a Nazi on American television, Colonel Klink sure got around. In addition to Hogan's Heroes, Klink made guest appearances on Batman, Laugh-In, The Simpsons, and Hollywood Palace. He even found time to do a Jell-O commercial.

Am not sure how to rectify the "world's colliding" aspect of a character from World War II meeting Batman and Robin the then-current 1960's. I suppose a remarkably well-preserved Klink could have been cleared of any war crimes, and settled nicely in a Gotham city luxury apartment on the interest from looted Nazi gold... but how to explain the inference, at the end, that he still has Colonel Hogan imprisoned?

And can you imagine any two shows - from rival networks and different producers - giving each other a "shout out" like this nowadays?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Carol Channing meets Hogan's Heroes

Just how and why did Carol Channing travel back in time to World War II and meet the gang from Hogan's Heroes? And why did Jell-o think it appropriate to use Nazis in a TV commercial? Click here for the alarming answers.

What If...?

What if -- the Beatles were Jewish?

Talent / No-Talent®

It's time for our newest feature - Talent / No Talent - and today we feature Tina Fey and late-night superstar Jimmy Fallon in their "screen test" as news anchors for Saturday Night Live.

See if you can guess which person has legitimate talent, and which one will be lucky if he's still on the air six months from now.

Of course, it's too early to make fun of Fallon's flop-sweat fueled train wreck of a talk show, but it's not too late to poke fun at Mr. Unprofessional's lame ad-libs after his very first joke in the clip.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Dig It

Above left, we have Philadelphia broadcast pioneer Georgie Woods - an influential DJ from the 1960's, and over on the far right, we have Wee Georgie Wood - a British midget actor who excelled at playing children.

For years, I believed the Georgie Wood mentioned at the end of the Beatles' song "Dig It" was the guy on the left (I've even seen interviews with Georgie Woods asking him about it) - but according to Wikipedia it was the little guy on the right. (And who are we to doubt Wikipedia?)

Since we're discussing "Dig It" - the famous version from the Let It Be album is actually a greatly distilled edit of a much longer performance which can be viewed here. It's from the film version of Let It Be, that is so bogged down by music copyright problems that you'll probably never see the DVD in your lifetime.

Get Smart Blooper Reel

You might well ask why I am linking to a Get Smart Blooper Reel. Well last week, I received the complete Get Smart series on DVD (a great bargain at - would you believe - $86.99), and happened upon part of this as a bonus feature on the first season disc.

This is pretty standard mid-60's blooper territory - with the notable exception that Don Adams (Max) is a bit of a dick to Ed Platt (the Chief) throughout - calling him "dummy" at one point, chastising him for being unprofessional, and only giving him one more take to get his lines right.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Have you, like me, been waiting patiently for a way to take still photos and animate the subjects' mouths - with the ability to add your own dialogue track to make it look like the picture is talking?

No? Well here's Blabberize anyway.

500th Post