For a long time, I have always had in mind the concept of Six Degrees of PGar500. The challenge to me is basically to pick two entities as random, and tie them together in six mini-essays. Kind of like how any actor can somehow be connected to Kevin Bacon in six steps or less. At least for now. It is an idea I have had in my head but not one I have acted on.
And now, that I (finally!) make regular posts here on a blog, I can.
The lead off will be get from the Philadelphia Eagles to the Philadelphia Phillies. And here we go.
1. The City of Philadelphia had a love hate relationship with Donovan McNabb, to say the least. He was what the team needed when he was drafted — the first homegrown quarterback that team had had in forever. By any metric, he did well — he made the team competitive just in time for their move to Lincoln Financial Field, and took them to a Super Bowl in 2004-and yet somehow the Philadelphia fans were not always pleased.
In an essay I wrote for my fantasy league back in 2009, I said that the Eagles fans felt the same way about Donovan McNabb the same way I felt about Melissa Joan Hart. Yes, Hart looked smoking hot in a purple bikini on the cover of People Magazine (unquestionably her absolute apex, after she had two sons) but at the same time there was something that just — how do you say-just didn’t feel right. High maintenance, someone who if you didn’t know her might shut you out. Plus, her mom Paula, basically is the mother in law out of central casting. MJH resembles her mother, and there you go.
Not least of all is the fact that her father, Bill-father to her and her four siblings- is completely out of the picture. Nowhere. Perhaps there is a reason he was squeezed out, maybe he was his decision, maybe the kids, maybe both. We don’t know. We really don’t. But, whatever, it is always sad when this happens.
2. The above was a result of my stumbling onto MJH’s Facebook page. She isn’t 113 pounds anymore, but she looks good. She seems to be happy in her marriage and with her three kids, and while looks can be deceiving (ESPECIALLY on Facebook) she does appear to be comfortable.
MJH’s whole family went on vacation somewhere down south where it was beach weather. Everyone happy, having a good time. And like I said, I picked up on Paula immediately as the mother in law, immediately. . Big hat, big sunglasses, skirt, and these weird big ass white sandals, that apparently were made of rubber, or resin. And I was like, what? Whatever makes you happy, and if they’re comfortable that fine, but I just thought they were…odd. How she feels about her son in law I don’t know, but put it this way: I wouldn’t want to find out first hand.
3. Facebook is, in a word, Not Fun. As a general rule I don’t like going on there, as I see everyone else’s kids and couples and everything and within five minutes I’m basically like ‘I hate my life. I got nothing. I can’t compare.’ (Most other people feel the same) In the past I have used my FB page as a repository for sophomoric adolescent humor or other thoughts, but as a general rule they haven’t been terribly popular (although a few did well) While my thoughts on the Patriots or the Red Sox and “Scoreboard” aren’t that popular, when I posted my daughter graduating from high school? Over 100 likes and lots of congratulations.
My old therapist once said that she told one of her clients who felt bad about FB to reimagine her page. And, sure enough, she would be able to build something that would make other people maybe feel bad about THEIR lives. The lesson was a valuable one, FB is more of a highlight reel than an accurate portrayal of the people who are on there. I try to be as transparent as possible with all that I do-here and on social media-I’ll talk about how often I am like Howie Mandel and Jay Glazer ‘in the dark place’ as proof — but basically a big part of winning Facebook is staying the hell off of it.
3. The other prong is to go to the Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal FB page. I love Gottfried, even though I had a roommate from hell back in 1986 who all but threw the TV out the window when he came on MTV. Because of course he did.
I have a ‘writer’ ‘merit badge’ on there which means I have a little coffee mug icon next to my name. And I will post on there. How I do is hit or miss. Sometimes, my posts will be (correctly) removed because they aren’t in line with the page, for instance about meal kits or what people’s favorite numbers were. Other times, my posts will have tepid responses — for instance a post I did about a ‘random 32 person bracket consisting of people that pop into my head’ didn’t get a lot of interest. And, last November I was sent to the ‘penalty box’ where for about a month I was limited to one post every 30 days. Once the penalty was over, I came out of the box, wiser for the ware.
What does well: questions for the floor, such as who their favorite supporting actor on a sitcom was, will get a lot of interest. But by far the most satisfying are ones where I will write thoughtful essays. For instance, when Betty White passed I wrote a think piece about how Allen Ludden saved games shows in the aftermath of the game show scandals. Basically: At the end of the 1950’s, no one could trust game shows. They were out and out rigged, often shamelessly. And in the rubble, Ludden comes along, by all accounts a very kind gentleman, a widowed father who loved his kids, owlish, kind of nerdy but above all trustworthy, with a simple game, Password. The game was low tech, the stakes were not big. But it was a simple concept that anyone and everyone could play with a pen and piece of paper. And, he got the top celebrities of the day, fun contestants, and Dr. Reason A. Goodwin. And in doing so, Ludden restored trust in game shows. Bill Cullen also did a lot as well-he was another owlish, nerdy guy with the original Price Is Right-but Ludden was front and center.
Anyway, that post got a lot of love, and it was very satisfying. It’s hard to do, but very satisfying when it happens. Indeed, Frank Santopadre himself (Gilbert’s cohost) has congratulated me on some of my more interesting posts.
Most important, it is a key prong (for me anyway$ as how you win Facebook. Gottfried’s is a page where no one is humblebragging, but just (mostly) guys taking turns trying to crack each other up. And succeeding.
4. Ludden is one of my all time favorite game show hosts. How rock solid was his integrity? After the game show scandals, no one got dinged harder than Jack Barry and Dan Enright. Basically they were blacklisted from TV for over a decade, went up to Canada on the long road to restore his reputation. When Barry decided to make his comeback, when he did the pilot for The Jokers Wild (an absolutely brilliant game show, based on trivia mixed with a slot machine, and one that needs to come back full time) who did he and Enright pick as the host? That’s right: Allen Ludden. It was a masterstroke, it set the tone. He was going to run his shows on the level. And when ABC took a chance on bringing him back for ‘The Generation Gap’ in 1969, Barry humbly thanked the network on air for giving him a second chance.
And, for the rest of his life, until he passed in May 1984 jogging in Central Park, he bent over backwards to ensure that the games he and Enright ran were trustworthy. For that matter, the games he and Enright created were innovative and original. Even if they failed — there was a game, Break the Bank, that they did in the mid 70s that was confusing as hell, and basically Hollywood Squares turned on its side-but all props for thinking out of the box and making something original. Even if ugly, I’ll never fault anyone for taking a shot. Even Twenty One-one of the best game show concepts ever- was a fun and exciting concept. It is screaming to be rebooted. And by the way, the reboot with Maury Povich in 2000, never happened. Glad that’s cleared up.
5. The movie Quiz Show is another one of my favorites. This came out in 1994, when I was engaged and not yet married. This held my interest as it was a topic I was interested in and it did not disappoint. And Robert Redford and the producers crushed it with casting: Rob Morrow as Richard Goodwin (who nailed the Boston accent). John Turturro as Herb Stempel (and no one did ethnic characters like Turturro). Raif Fiennes, who had just came across as the ultimate evil Nazi in Schindlers List as Amon Goeth, turned around and played a likable, erudite Charles Van Doren, (aka Charles Van (Freaking) Moron) and captured his angst about the whole thing perfectly. Paul Scofield as Mark Van Doren, Charles’s dad. Mira Sorvino as Sandra Goodwin, Morrow’s wife. David Paymer as Dan Enright. Even Christopher McDonald as Jack Barry, who captured Barry’s smugness and cynical approach perfectly. All perfectly cast. It is a movie that you can watch over and over and not get tired of. And would make a good subject for Bill Simmons ‘The Rewatchables’ podcast.
Which brings us to…
6. Morrow got the role on the strength of his performance in Northern Exposure as Dr. Joel Fleichmann. While he was solid, and Janine Turner was very good as Maggie O’Connell, Morrow’s love interest (and I love the mole on the side of her head, I found it really sexy) and their love affair was good, the show was just…meh. Not a show I particularly seek out.
Indeed, Morrow and Turner were to that show what Steve Carlton was to the 1972 Philadelphia Phillies. Like Northern Exposure (especially in the later years) the show was a train wreck, much the same way the 1972 Phillies were a train wreck. But like Morrow on Exposure, who won three Golden Globes, Steve Carlton went 27–10 for those awful Phillies, and was awarded the Cy Young Award for his efforts. While Carlton is now in the Hall of Fame, Morrow has largely disappeared from the public eye, so the analogy ends there. But, yes, Rob Morrow and Janine Turner were the 1972 Steve Carlton of Northern Exposure, and Northern Exposure was the 1972 Philadelphia Phillies.
So to summarize: 1. Philadelphia Eagles 2. Melissa Joan Hart 3. Gilbert Gottfried’s Facebook page 4. Allen Ludden 5. Quiz Show 6 Philadelphia Phillies
And that’s how the game is played. In doing this I find as you’re getting to the end, there needs to be a strategy in place as far as how to get to the entity at the end. In this case I knew the final reference was going to be a reference to Carlton on the ‘72 Phillies, but I would have liked a better analogy. A good one is Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street (a show I’m not a huge fan of) Statler and Waldorf on The Muppet Show. John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf on Roseanne. And on and on and so forth. Basically, the one redeeming factor on a disaster.
So that’s the first one. As I do more of these I’ll get better. And the more esoteric the start and finish is, the better and more challenging it is.
As always, stay tuned.