Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Gene Wilder - Comic Actor

I'll always cherish some of the hardest, side-splitting laughter I've ever experienced thanks to Mr. Gene Wilder.  He's the cool white-black guy above!

June 11, 1933 - August 29, 2016

Monday, August 29, 2016

LLWS 2016 - Best Story in Summer Baseball

The United States Little League Champions defeated the International Champion South Korean team 2-1 yesterday to win the LLWS title.  

The U.S. hadn't won a LLWS title since 2011, and a team from New York hadn't won since 1964. Good to see my home state get one for the country. The boys from Endwell, NY have completed an undefeated 24-0 season.

Congratulations Boys from Endwell, New York!

Mr. Fuji Now Salt of the Earth

Harry Fujiwara (May 4, 1937 – August 28, 2016)

Wow, Mr. Fuji has passed away at 82 years old.  The villainous professional wrestler who when losing, was known for reaching into his waistband then throwing salt into an opponent's eyes, was one of the great entertainers of the sport.  At least that's how I remember him back in the 1970's. 

Mr. Fuji was a tag team partner with that other bad boy from the East you loved to hate,  the late Professor Tanaka. Together they made up one of the best acts in professional wrestling. For us who knew and cheered the entertainment value of the sport, a bout featuring Mr. Fuji and Professor Tanaka was a treat you didn't wanna miss.  You knew coming in that they'd pull any and every cheating trick in the book to gain an advantage. Mr. Fuji's salt throwing act was as legendary as Chief Jay Strongbow's war party revival dance.  

I can still picture the Chief on one knee, being pummeled on the back by some beast and looking like he's ready to go down and out. Then, with that bobbing head, slowly regaining his strength and rising with every strike to eventually war dance while slapping and flipping his opponent into submission. I think he was chanting something also while doing that choppy strut of his. The Chief was one of the good guys and we loved him for it, God rest his soul.

Mr. Fuji on the other hand, was a bad guy who we loved to hate.  If there was someone who could yell a Scarface style "say goodbye to the bad guy" line, it was Mr. Fuji.  The problem with that though is that I don't remember him or Professor Tanaka ever talking much, if at all. Their act included not understanding the referee's English, which allowed them to get away with more cheating. Fuji and the Professor would probably be considered racial stereotypes by many politically correct persons in today's age.  Their strong Asiatic looks along with their sly, sneaky gestures were easily misinterpreted by us western viewers as cheating traits that all Asians might employ. 

My guess is that Mr. Fuji, due to his Japanese culture background (Sumo Wrestling), might of had as much, if not more respect for the art of wrestling, than many of the wrestlers from the West. But then again, wikipedia has Mr. Fuji as Japanese-American being born in Hawaii.  So maybe he was really just another marketing opportunist taking advantage of the preexisting racial stereotypes of the West. Ever since the WWII attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese had been depicted as cruel, sneaky and distrustful. 

Funny I just watched an old Twilight Zone episode where a young Japanese-American and white American WWII veteran have an encounter. The episode was broadcast once in 1964 then withheld from syndication in the United States due to it's racial overtones. Finally, on January 3, 2016, the episode was rebroadcast in the U.S. The name of the episode: "The Encounter"

As for Mr. Fuji and who he represented to us fans of early professional wrestling lore; it wasn't his race or looks, but the character he so convincingly played on that wonderful stage of Pro Wrestling, who we loved to hate so. 

Mr. Harry Fujiwara, you will live on in the hearts and souls of those you entertained.  I'll throw a bit of salt out the window today in honor of your brave audacity to break the rules to your advantage.

"If you ain't cheating you ain't trying"

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Are Raiders Just Paper Tigers?

Carr & Cooper celebrate touchdown throw and catch

Oh Well, it was only a preseason game.  Seeing the Raiders lose to the Tennessee Titans yesterday was not the 2016 coming out party I expected at the Oakland Coliseum. Where was that upgraded defense I've been reading about? Were they allowed to tackle in training camp, because they sure weren't tackling like professionals yesterday. Is Titans second year first round number two pick, quarterback Marcus Mariota, that good or has the Raiders defense taken a huge step backwards with the retirement of veteran leader Charles Woodson?

I know I'm being hard on the defense but what I saw yesterday made me more cautious than optimistic about the Raiders defense, the silver & black unit most heavily invested in during the off season. The starting unit had a few good stops, but it's those broken plays, out of position misses and beaten d'backs that sit fresh in my mind. CB David Amerson seemed to be the only reliable defensive back on the field for the Raiders. All others were suspect to allowing completed passes on a regular basis. 

#29 David Amerson breaking up a pass

I saw the Raiders defensive line pressure early, with a nice knockdown of Mariota on a completed pass, but the QB always seemed to have oogles of time to pick and choose receivers to throw to. Maybe that's why the Raiders defensive backs had such a bad day, due to the little if any pressure up front. And did Khalil Mack even play? I don't remember seeing the so-called future MVP. How about rookie safety Karl Joseph, didn't see that future monster out their either.

The starting offense showed that they have more than just one weapon and are just itching to let it all out in the regular season. Second year sensation WR Amari Cooper had a dazzling back of the end zone catch for a 29 yd touchdown. Michael Crabtree's lone 41 yd reception confirms he still has the best hands in the business.

There were some coughs & hiccups though by QB Derek Carr and company, but I do believe they were trying out a few new plays and personnel, like rookie RB DeAndre Washington.  Washington proved that he can make plays both running and catching the ball. He scored his first NFL touchdown on a six yard catch and run. Also, later in the game, he showed he could take a hit as a Titans linebacker laid a "welcome to the NFL" smackdown on him, causing a fumbled scoop and score for Tennessee. 

Backup QB Matt McGloin probably should of read the defense better and never thrown the ball on that play, but you gotta hold onto the pigskin rook. Both backup QB's McGloin and Connor Cook threw interceptions in the second half.

Undrafted rookie receiver Johnny Holton continues to make a case for being on the 53 man roster come the regular season (begins September 11th).  Holton showed good hands catching 3 passes for 54 yards, one of them a one-handed behind the defender back catch. K.J. Brent, another aspiring rookie WR, matched Holton's receiving stats, but Holton flashed that electric sprinter type speed on a reverse that gained the Raiders 14 yds and a first down. The kid can hoof it!

Raiders special teams looks improved. Pro Bowl Kicker Sea Bass Janikowski is back for year 17. RB Jalen Richard, wearing #46 and leaving fans asking "who was that guy?" looks to be a force running back kickoffs as well as lining up in the backfield on offense. 

If this, the third preseason game, is any indication of what to expect of the 2016 Raiders season, then I must warn silver & black fans to "fasten your seatbelts. It's gonna be a bumpy ride." I'm ready for some football; win lose or tie!

Final Score
Titans 27
Raiders 14