Category Archives: TV/Movies

Jive Turkeys To Avoid on Turkey Day



GORDONVILLE — Three years northbound of 50 (the new 30), I’m old enough to remember when the term “jive turkey” was as common as men wearing platform shoes and women all trying (and failing) to look like the one and only Farrah Fawcett (my second celebrity crush after Marcia Brady).

With us now into Thanksgiving week, we are a country in such turmoil that we are deathly afraid to stray from narrowing choice of safe topics just to avoid the fun of the healthy political debate that should be as required as cranberry sauce.

Adding to the tension is the outside noise from jive turkeys keeping the volume raised.

A start would be to end the constant “gobble-gobble” of certain attention seekers. They have their pulpits – i.e. blogs, Twitter accounts, microphones in front of their non-stop traps, etc. – but that doesn’t mean anyone is required to take in their sermons as gospel.

For this pre-Thanksgiving public service, we will exclude elected officials and full-time employees of accredited media outlets, from the PNML (Pay No Mind List).

As for the rest, get these noisemakers out of your life:

1) Michael Avenatti – During minutes 10-12 of his 15 of prime-time exposure as Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, some saw him as an out-of-the-box Democratic presidential candidate who would actually bring some fight into the ring. His act has since worn thin, though. A recent poll of Democrats showed him with less than 1 percent support as a candidate in 2020. Bye, Michael. Hello, Richard Ojeda of West Virginia, a new gloves-off kind of a guy.

2) Steve Bannon — For many of us, any chance to give the president half a chance was ruined in Charlottesville. That horrific August weekend in 2017 – from the planning, to the chilling nighttime Nazi-to-English chants to the equal blaming of both sides afterward – had the DNA of Bannon, then serving as White House Chief Strategist, all over it. He has since departed from that role. That’s the good news. The bad news? He still draws the same air as the rest of us, and has a full calendar of public speaking engagements to prove it. Ain’t that America for you and me?

3) Ann Coulter – If we had a dollar for every idiotic thing this Cornell graduate has written and said just to grab back the attention she briefly enjoyed a decade ago, every homeless veteran would have shelter and every hungry child would be fed. She has a right to spew her nonsense – “liberals love America like O.J. loved Nicole,” etc. — but we have a right to ignore it.

4) Louis Farrakhan – No denying the good he has done within the black community, with the Million Man March of 1995 serving as a highlight, but there is no denying the bad vibes puts out simply because he just won’t let his raging anti-Semitism rest. With each incendiary remark (questioning what Jews did to Hitler to earn what they got), he loses any credibility in the mainstream — let alone the mainstream black community.

5) Kardashians – Not going to break it down to this Kardashian or that Kardashian. They are not even worth the time I just spent on them.

6) Ted Nugent – Going back to the Classic Rock era, when people used the term “jive turkey,” this guy was just another B-level turkey mostly known for one song – “Cat Scratch Fever.” It seemed nonsensical at the time, with lyrics just to serve as fodder for his half-decent guitar chops. Upon further scientific review, “Cat Scratch Fever” is an ailment with long-term side effects of brain damage. Nugent is entitled to extreme right-wing views, but a “tough guy” who admittedly did whatever it took to get out of going to Vietnam shouldn’t be considered a cogent voice in the political debate.

7) Sarah Palin – Oh, man, what was the late John McCain was thinking by adding someone with limited political experience (not even one full term as governor of Alaska and mayor of a small city) to the bottom of his presidential ticket in 2008? Right idea, going with a woman, but the wrong choice. Those who were bitter about Barrack Obama winning the presidency, and immediately – and curiously – demanded their country back, should trace their angst to Palin, as she may have cost McCain the election (I know it made my decision easy). She seemed to go away for a bit, but was empowered all over again by the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Ugh!

8) Phil Robertson – Ah, the Duck Commander of Duck Dynasty infamy. Remember that? The once formidable A&E Network chose to grab the low hanging fruit and produced a reality show about a family of duck hunters. You can’t make this stuff up. His relatives grew beards to fit the façade and, with consequences we are still dealing with, western civilization went on life support as ratings soared. The show ended, and his kinfolk shaved their beards and went back to the real world. Meanwhile, Robertson’s sense of self-importance continued when he became a right-wing Buddha often propped up by Bannon. If you hear this guy’s patented duck call (eye roll), please duck!

9) Melania Trump – I have kept her off-limits, but no more. The first “lady” is suddenly sticking her beak in where it does not belong, ripping a page out of Nancy Reagan’s playbook (and we know why Mrs. Reagan had to become increasingly protective of her husband). Isn’t it ironic that Mrs. Trump’s stance is supposedly against bullying, especially cyber bullying? She not only condones it with her husband’s 3 a.m. Twitter tantrums, but she is becoming one herself. What’s up with that? Three cheers for the Einstein Visa.

10) Kanye West – Already public enemy No. 1 on the Glantz home front for that bizarre awards-show incident with Taylor Swift back in 2009 (Sofia was only 2 at the time, but she knows every detail the way I do about the JFK assassination that took place two years before I was born). “Kanye being Kanye” was a cover-up for clear untreated mental health issues. He lauded the president’s persona, earning a bizarre visit to the White House, and then changed what is left of his mind about his support. We are dealing with the ultimate jive turkey. And don’t get me started on the “music.” I’d rather listen to Ted Nugent.

This column first appeared in The Times Herald.

A Cool Idea





GORDONVILLE – It is a typical pastime for a typical American.

What will your child be when they grow up?

Not sure yet on Sofia. Many roads to travel, and passions to come and go.

However, it would surprise me if she wanted to be like her old man and be a writer – even if it’s a side thing while making real money in the real world with a real job.

How do I know this?

Because she loves stories. Not just to be amused, but to retain for future use. I can talk by the look in her eyes that it is being retained, kind of like bank deposits to retain interest (i.e. embellishment).

We drive through Conshohocken, and she queries her mommy all about her hometown with questions well beyond that of the average incoming missile of a ‘tween.

The other night, she asking me about old Atlantic City – the Atlantic City I remember as a kid around her current age; the Atlantic City before gambling made it the weird combination of glitz and the pits that it is now.

Among the stories was how my grandfather, Poppie, would wake up each day and, with a broad smile on his easy-going face, ask if it was a “beach day or a Two Guys day.”

Two guys, for the uninitiated, was a catch-all department store – a sorta pre-historic Target – where they had it all, from an arcade and a place to eat to a furniture department.

You could buy food, a new baseball glove or bell-bottom jeans for your platform shoes.

After Sofia drifted to sleep – these stories are often meant as biofeedback to cure summertime insomnia – an old idea resurfaced it what is left of my brain.

Beach day or a Two Guys Day?

That more or less sums up the forecast for every day from Memorial Day through Labor Day, does it not?

Especially here in the Melting Ice Age, the forecast is pretty much in the same octave range, is it not?

It is either going to be hot or very hot, with a chance of rain to varying degrees.

So, I wondered, why do we need met meteorolgists in the summertime?

No offense to them, or the profession.

And the world doesn’t need more journalists working at a coffee shop.

And the loss of eye candy – from any perspective — would mean less sweetness in the world.

All I’m talking about is a three-month furlough.

I’m willing to bet that nine out of 10 of us could care less, especially if the time is better spent on real news.

Seriously, why do we need to be told the obvious three times in a half-hour span – and all before the important news, like the sports?

Just throw a graphic up on the screen and the anchor can do a quick summary. Hot or very hot, and the chance of a thunderstorm by percentage.

In and out faster than Chris Christie at a burger joint drive-thru on his way to the beach.

And, since this is my idea, it must follow the rule of being after the sports, lest you run the risk of FCC fine.

I took the liberty of breaking out the calculator.

According the “fake news” on the “internets,” the average weather person makes $89,820 a year. There are four stations – the three networks plus FOX in Philadelphia, employing an average of three meterologists – which brings our three-month (Memorial Day to Labor Day) savings to $269,460 that can be donated to help causes more worthy than letting people know if it is going to be a beach day or a Two Guys Day.


We Laughed And Cried

Robin Willams



GORDONVILLE — My maternal grandfather – i.e. Poppy – was among an interesting ensemble cast of characters than made up the first act of comedy-drama that is my life.

Born in 1900, it was always easy to mark history by his life. When the stock market crashed in 1929, he was 29. When Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941, he was 41. When I was born in 1965, he was 65.

In a time when non-WASPs were put on quotas at most colleges of distinction, he rose above the intolerance.

He went to the University of Pennsylvania and Jefferson Medical School, becoming a physician.

He served his country during the back end of World War I and, as a doctor, volunteered to give physicals for the draft board during World War II (he even received a letter of commendation from FDR).

An avid reader, Poppy’s mind was like a steel trap on a variety of subjects. He loved sports, watching game after game on the tube, and music. He played every string instrument created, with the violin being his specialty.

And, like most people, he was a dichotomy.

Many summer mornings in Atlantic City, I would be awakened by the sound of his distinctive laughter. The source of his bemusement was the low-brow humor of the “The Three Stooges.”

At 11 p.m., when most were tuning in the nightly news to see who shot whom or have Jim O’Brien tell us the weather by throwing clouds off his map, Poppy would turn to some UHF channel to catch “The Gong Show.”

Even at a young age, I found zero humor in silliness and slapstick, but this man of more education than the rest of the family put together responded to it.

In the late 1970s, I had already outgrown “Happy Days.” It was the show where the term “jump the shark” originated, and it had done that for me.

I don’t recall Poppy ever watching Fonzie and Co., but he somehow got hooked on one of its spinoffs, “Mork and Mindy.”

It ran from 1978 to 1982 — meaning 13-17 for me and 78-82 for Poppy — and I tried humoring him and watching it, I really did.

But, to be kind, we’ll say it didn’t float my boat.

At that age, I was either watching hockey or playing hockey.

I remember my school mates talking about it, but I tuned them out. I had been there, done that and didn’t want to go back.

So, while that show introduced many of my generation to its star, Robin Williams, I was off to a late and shaky start with the guy playing Mork.

I think that aversion, and lack of girls wanting to go the movies with me anyway, kept me away from his first major role in “The World According to Garp.”

By 1984, when Poppy was 84, the CE (Cute Era) had commenced for me. Girls would go the movies with me and I caught “Moscow On The Hudson” on a date. The girl said Williams kind of reminded her of me, which I wasn’t sure how to take at the time. It may have had something to do with him being so hairy, as I didn’t speak with a Russian accent.

Beyond that assessment, which I have since come to realize was a major compliment – even if not intended – I was coming around.

He made his share of middling movies in the 1980s, but two more – “Good Morning, Vietnam” (1987) and “Dead Poets Society” (1989) – cemented him in Gordonville as a talent who can make you both laugh and cry with nuanced facial expressions or gestures.

He was the ultimate sad clown of my generation, matching Charlie Chaplin of Poppy’s era, but there was a more daring side.

He had an edge to his game.

I also caught some of his HBO specials and, in addition to laughing at humor that would not have been Poppy’s style, appreciated the all-important underlying social commentary.

In 1997, the year that he had a small part in Woody Allen’s “Deconstructing Harry,” Williams stepped to the plate as Sean Maguire, Will Hunting’s therapist, in “Good Will Hunting.”

I consider that movie a modern classic, one that should be required viewing for young adult males looking to find their place in the world they are about to enter. It would have been a good movie without Williams, but it was his spin on the role — often improvising on the script of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon – that made it great (and I rarely use that overused word).

He won an Oscar for best supporting actor.

And won my heart by touching my soul.

Poppy left us three years earlier, and likely would not have believed that it was Mork from wherever up on the big screen.

He also would have had a hard time understanding that Williams, at age 63, succumbed to depression and took his own life (We are now hearing that a recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease may have factored in.).

It is hard for all us to believe, but we are not in his shoes. All that made Williams who he was to the world is what proved to be what haunted him. He felt too deeply. He felt a need to laugh and cry at one time, perhaps not knowing which emotion would win out, and was able to get us to do it as well.

All we can do now is enjoy the body of work – whether it is “Mork and Mindy” or some of my personal favorites (“What Dreams May Come” and “The Fisher King”) or one of the new movies that will be released posthumously – that he leaves behind.

All of it is not for all us, but most of it is for most of us.

And instead of pounding our judge’s gavels about how his life ended, let’s focus on how he brought life to his alter egos.

If I could talk to him now, I would thank him for making Poppy laugh through his grief during the years when my beloved grandmother — and Sofia’s namesake — died suddenly of stroke.

And I would steal a line from my favorite Robin Williams role and say: “It’s not your fault.”

If I had to repeat it, like he did to Will Hunting, I would.

And if he needed a hug, I’d give him one.






Not Head Over Heels




GORDONVILLE — America’s voyeuristic pop culture world went into shock during the final episode of “The Bachelor” Monday.

Juan Pablo, who had all the bachelorettes smitten at hello and lost them all before goodbye, spurned Clare and picked her archrival, Nikki.

But he did not propose to Nikki. He kept the ring in his pocket, even though she had already professed her love for him.

After giving her the final rose, which she accepted (probably thinking the visibility will launch her modeling career), they did an on-camera smooch.

And he said, to the groans of the live studio audience and millions watching from their sofas, “I like you … I like you a lot.”

What else would you expect from a playboy ex-jock named Juan Pablo?

Love at first sight – particularly with the willowy Nikki – would come from the likes of guys named Byron.

A day later, when NFL free agency kicked off, I was feeling a bit like Juan Pablo myself.

The Eagles were decisive, busting some moves – signing a B-list safety in Malcolm Jenkins, special teamers Chris Maragos and Bryan “Don’t Call Me Norman” Braman and cornerback Nolan Carroll.

Like Nikki, they would likely want me – as a season ticket holder and perpetual naysayer –to fall in love.

But like Juan Pablo, I can’t fully commit.

I like it, though.

I like it a lot.

The book on Jenkins, a converted corner, is that his strength is a lack of obvious weaknesses.

That is certainly an upgrade after watching safeties in the post-Brian Dawkins era whose weakness was their lack of any discernable strength.

He is not Jairus Byrd, T.J. Ward — or even Antoine Bethea or Donte Whitner – but signing Jenkins is better than sitting on their hands or worse (bringing back Nate Allen and/or Kurt Coleman, although Allen’s return is not a dead issue).

But as long as they add another safety early in the draft to compete with second-year man Earl Wolff for the role of Robin to Jenkins’ Batman, I’m good with it.

Maragos played behind one of the best safety tandems in the league in Seattle, so he might have some upside as a fourth safety (which is why bringing back Allen would be an unnecessary move). Braman adds wedge-buster size (6-foot-5, 250 pounds) and reckless abandon (the Yiddish word “mashugana” comes to mind) to the special teams, and Carroll, a physical corner with starts under his belt, could push for playing time this season and could be a starter by the following season (when cornerback Cary Williams’ contract balloons).

The Eagles also made a trade, sending a fifth-rounder to New Orleans for utility back Darren Sproles.

If you went to a factory and asked them to custom build the quintessential third-down back, the 10th-year man out of Kansas State would be it. Sproles is dangerous on draws and screens and returns both kicks and punts. In fact, his kickoff return in the playoffs last season sealed the Eagles’ fate, as it set up the game-winning field goal as time expired in a 26-24 Saints’ win.

Still, when the trade was announced, you would have thought it was Christmas in March around the Delaware Valley.

Seems like premature adulation.

Not to get all Juan Pablo on you, people, but I don’t love it.

I like it. I like it a lot.

But I’m not giving out the ring – in this case, Super Bowl rings.

Sproles, who will be 31 years old by training camp, never carried the ball more than 93 times in a season. And this coming season, 2014, will put him three beyond his peak season of 2011, when he set a benchmark for all-purpose yards with 2,696.

Despite his back-breaking return in the playoffs –more the combination of a feeble kickoff, subsequent coverage breakdown and an experienced return man taking advantage – Sproles is not as explosive in that area as he was in the past.

He has not taken a kickoff all the way to the house since 2008 or a punt since 2011. Last season, he had career lows in kick return (21.3) and punt return (6.7) average. That is almost identical to what the Eagles averaged last season – 21.4 on kick returns and 6.6 on punt returns.

And for around the same monetary investment, the Eagles could have gotten a similar player in his prime, Dexter McCluster, 25, who was the AFC’s Pro Bowl selection as a return specialist last season. The former Kansas City Chief, who was also a second-team All-Pro return man last year, signed for a fairly modest $12 million over four years. If the Eagles snapped him, it would have had the added benefit of sticking it to Reid.

Sproles comes from a good team, and good teams don’t let good players walk without good reason.

The fact that he was available should keep you from falling head over heels in love, like the Eagles brass apparently has already.

Despite throwing nickels around like manhole covers, they already gave him a two-year extension with guaranteed money.

The most troubling part of the deal is that Joe DiFannio, fueled by the irresponsible and Tweeter-happy media – from talk radio to television to print – is already concocting trades for backup running back Bryce Brown.

And this, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, really has my Irish up.

The Eagles committed highway robbery in 2012 when they drafted Brown in the seventh round. A blue-chip high school recruit, he had only played one full year of college ball at Tennessee (463 yards, three touchdowns as a true freshman) before transferring to be with his brother, Arthur (now with the Baltimore Ravens), at Kansas State and then leaving that program.

The pick of a 220-pound back with sub-4.4 speed was a stroke of genius, and his play as a rookie was one of the few bright lights in the darkness of Andy Reid’s final year of steering the ship aground.

He fumbled a lot, though.

This past season, with Kelly deploying a new offense and blocking scheme, Brown seemed tentative running, but hit his stride as the season wore on, scoring touchdowns in the final two regular-season games (including the game-winner against Dallas to seal the NFC East).

It was widely questioned – by many of the same closet GMs trying to ship him out of town now for a bag of deflated footballs – why Kelly didn’t ride Brown’s fresh legs a bit in the aforementioned playoff loss to Sproles & Co.

The Eagles have no reason to unload Brown – or fellow promising third-year back Chris Polk, for that matter. They were empty milk containers on trash night, and both are still playing on their rookie deals at bargain salaries (Polk was an undrafted free agent).

Comparing Sproles to Brown – or Polk – is not apples to apples. They don’t really play the same position.

Expect Sproles, still a prolific receiver, to be on the field a lot at the same time as LeSean McCoy, lining up a lot in the slot. Brown and Polk, who is not as talented as Brown but is a better blocker and a special-teams contributor, are there to spell McCoy from the tailback spot.

And consider the worst-case scenario, one the Eagles artfully dodged during last year’s typical charmed life under a first-year coach ‑- a substantive injury to McCoy.

When Reid stupidly left McCoy in the game late in a blowout loss against Washington in 2012, leading to a concussion, it gave Brown the chance to play – and run regularly, as opposed to a carry here or there – and he responded with big numbers (247 yards in his first two starts, along with four touchdowns … and three fumbles).

If McCoy went down this season, even for a game or two, would you entrust that workload to the 5-foot-6 Sproles?

The best chance they would have of still functioning, and frightening other teams, would be a combination of Brown (13-15 carries) and Polk (8-10 carries) with Sproles still lining up all over the field.

Just because Sproles is listed as a running back, like Brown and Polk, doesn’t mean he takes away one of their spots on the roster. That would only be if his arrival put them up against the cap, which it clearly doesn’t.

Just as it seemed obvious the Eagles could re-sign Jeremy Maclin and add him to the receiving corps without also bringing back Riley Cooper after a breakout season, they are not in either/or mode here.

They are not an import-export business, not when it comes to stockpiling offensive weapons.

Sproles’ greatest value to the team is that he fills a lot of needs and they have some roster flexibility, no longer having to carry as many receivers on their active roster as they have in the past.

Sproles almost becomes your de facto fourth or fifth receiver, depending on if one is drafted, while tight end Zach Ertz is also likely to line up outside or in the slot, creating mismatches with linebackers and slower safeties.

Sproles is a nice addition, another piece to the puzzle intended to end the championship drought.

It is not a cause for subsequent subtraction of an ascending player with age on their side.

And you have to like that.

You have to like it a lot.

The column originally appeared at