Sunday, July 23, 2017

when you can't runaway ...

“Can I get an encore?
Do you want more? …”




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I wish I knew what to write.


I got a text message from a friend about 1:30 Thursday afternoon, telling me that Chester Bennington, the lead singer for one of my favorite bands ever, Linkin Park, had committed suicide.


I looked at the text and thought … well, a lot of things.  But when in doubt about news in the entertainment industry, I turn to a media outlet that (pathetically) might be the last accurate bastion of information left in the national media -- TMZ.  And the lead story on that god awful site confirmed the text my buddy sent me.


My first impulse was literally to puke.  I’ll admit I was enjoying a cerveza on that lovely 99 degree day here in Kansas City.  I upchucked what had already gone down.  My next impulse was to cry.  


Linkin Park -- specifically the “Hybrid Theory” cd -- got me through some dark, dark times in my life.  I detailed the lowest of those lows five years ago, in the aftermath of Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher doing what he did.  (Note: that link is still the most read story ever on this site, and nothing else is within one hundred clicks of it.  For a site whose average post registers 35-40 unique clicks, that’s pretty impressive, five years after the fact.)


“Hybrid Theory” kept me (semi) sane as my life fell apart in the winter of 2001 into the spring of 2002.  Every song on that cd spoke to me in ways that no counselor, licensed professional, man or woman of faith, or friend or family member could.  Sh*t, it spoke to me in ways that weed and booze couldn’t (although I certainly listened to both -- a lot.)  


Literally from the first note of the cd, for forty some odd minutes, Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda channeled everything I was feeling, and then some.  I felt then -- and in some regards, still do today -- that nobody has ever f*cked up and failed at life more epically than I did in my early to mid 20s * .  


And so I can honestly say, I highly doubt I’d be here today -- still f*cking up and failing, albeit at a slightly slower pace! -- without that cd.


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(*: to be fair, my mid 30s gave my early 20s one hell of a contest, in the “f*ck up and fail” department.  Although it was Brantley Gilbert that got me through my mid to late 30s (sir elton john voice) still standing, not LP ** .)


(**: and yes, the fact someone I know despises the two letters LP together, explains why I shorten Linkin Park to LP a lot, in this post.  What can I say, even toddler Stevo was a snotty asshole when he felt like it.)


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“Hybrid Theory” opens with “Papercut”, with its’ haunting closing lyric to the chorus of “it’s like the face inside?  Is right beneath my skin!”  A painful examination of inner torment, of “Jesus, I know I’m not right, but do I actually give enough of a sh*t to want to stop being wrong?”  


That question was then built upon with the second track, a song that hits me like few ever have, “One Step Closer”:


“I find the answers?  Aren’t so clear.
Wish I could find a way?  To disappear!
All these thoughts?  They make no sense.
So I’ll find bliss?  In ignorance!


Nothing seems to go away --
Over and over again!
(Just like before …)


Everything you say to me?
Takes me one step closer to the edge --
And I’m about to break!


I need a little room to breathe!
‘Cause I’m one step closer to the edge --
And I’m about to break!”


If you’ve never had a moment in your life where those lyrics felt real, felt genuine, felt perfect to describe said moment in your life?  Then you’re one of the lucky few, in this life.


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After a couple solid yet unspectacular tracks (“With You”, “Points of Authority” -- the latter being far more potent and memorable than the former), comes what for the first 500, 600 times I listened to the cd, the song I never got past, the fifth track -- a song that just nailed what twenty four, twenty five year old Stevo felt:




“There’s something inside me?
That pulls beneath the surface --
Consuming.  Confusing.


This lack of self control?
I fear is never ending --
Controlling.  I can’t seem


To find myself again --
My walls are closing in!
(Without a sense of confidence?


I’m convinced, there’s just
Too much pressure to take!)
I’ve felt this way before -- so insecure!


Crawling in my skin!
These wounds?  They will not heal!
Fear is how I fall --
Confusing what is real …”


For the longest time, I felt no need to advance beyond “Crawling”.  I didn’t think any artist could possibly put more accurately into words, what I was feeling.


How wrong I was.


Because the next track, I would argue, is Linkin Park’s finest hour *** .


A finest hour, we’re coming back to.


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(***: yes, “My December”, the bonus track / sneak single off the extended version of “Hybrid Theory”, is probably the best song on the cd, and probably the one I should like the most.  It’s not, at least for me.)  


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There was more success for Linkin Park after “Hybrid Theory” -- “Meteora” is one hell of a cd in its own right.  “Numb” deserved every accolade it got -- and it got a lot of them.  “Somewhere I Belong” hit many nerves with this dude.  “Easier to Run” should have been released as a single.  “Faint“ probably shouldn’t have been released as a single.  “Breaking The Habit” is awesome.  Man, does “Don’t Stay” hit some raw nerves when I think about “The Ex”.  And to be fair and honest (one of which I am rarely accused of being), “Figure .09” is my favorite Linkin Park track ever **** .


And the release of “Meteora” gave rise to the Projekt Revolution Tour, that landed in lovely Bonner Springs, Kansas, on Tuesday, August 24, 2004.  I remember every damned thing about that day -- recapped if you scroll down far enough in this previous post ***** .


I freely admit I was baked, drunk, and trying to sort through the death of one of my best friends growing up, whose funeral I had just attended, the day that concert went down.  I guess that’s in some ways why that concert has the meaning, the significance, the importance that it does to me -- for the second time in nearly as many years, Linkin Park kept me (semi) sane when life made no sense, when I took a look at things and realized either (a) it was all my fault, or (b) there wasn’t a damned thing I could do, to stop what was going on.


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(***: there’s a difference between “favorite”, and “most meaningful” to me.  “Figure .09” is my favorite.  It is not the most meaningful LP track to me.  Most meaningful to me, is “Track Six” off “Hybrid Theory” … which we’re getting to, eventually.)


(****: to this day, I thank God that the “let’s shake up the set list” change from many other stops on the tour was to sub in “Figure .09”.  I’ve rarely if ever loved a single song performance in my presence more, than “Figure .09” on that ridiculously hot Tuesday evening at whatever the hell it’s called nowadays Sandstone Ampitheater.)


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The later stuff, as is predictable, didn’t garner the attention, the love, or the acclaim of the peak stuff.  “Minutes to Midnight” is a fantastic cd to listen to.  But for me, with the exception of “Hands Held High”, nothing on that cd truly moves me.  “Numb / Encore” off the “Collision” cd with Jay-Z is incredible.  It’s two peak artists at their, uuh, combined peak.  It’s the only song on “Collision” I still listen to.  The stuff newer than the late 2000s, I can’t claim to be knowledgable about.


But the stuff from the early and mid 2000s?  I owe a debt of gratitude, I wish I could properly express.


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I suppose, given Thursday, that it somewhat surprises me more fans and entertainment industry scribes haven’t focused on the LP track that truly describes the tragic event of Thursday -- the eighth track on “Hybrid Theory”, and arguably Linkin Park’s biggest hit, “In The End”:


“It’s so unreal --
Didn’t look out below.
Watch the time
Go right out the window.


(I was) trying to hold on,
But you didn’t even know --
Wasted it all,
Just to watch you go.


I kept everything inside.
And even though I tried, it all fell apart.
What it meant to me?
Will eventually be a memory of a time when


I tried so hard,
And got so far.
But in the end?
It doesn’t even matter!


I had to fall,
To lose it all.
But in the end?
It doesn’t even matter! …”


Because that’s what stings so much about Thursday’s death.  In the end?  The author who helped pull me out of a dark place, had so little faith in himself and his power to do for himself what he did for at least one person in this life (hey, that’s me!)?  


Mr. Bennington decided his life didn’t matter enough, to try to pull himself out.


It took Track Six off “Hybrid Theory” … to convince me, that contrary to what the theme song to “MASH” would say?


Suicide is anything but painless.


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“Runaway”.


Track Six off “Hybrid Theory”.


It’s the most meaningful song LP ever did, at least for me.  It’s one of the five or six most influential songs that define my life -- or at least what it was, what it is, and what I desire it to be.  The others in some order would be “I Don’t Wanna Be” by Gavin DeGraw, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” by Sir Elton John, “Crawling In The Dark” by Hoobastank, “Perfect Memory” by Remy Zero, and “Innocent” by Our Lady Peace.


Four of those five others, came out around the same time “Hybrid Theory” was dominating the charts Steph Curry style.  And each of them speaks to me in different ways, but always with the same theme: just be damned proud to be you, and screw anyone who thinks otherwise.


And that’s probably why I love “Runaway” so much, why it defines “Hybrid Theory” for me, and why I’ve been listening to it as I attempt to type this post.  Because “Runaway” isn’t a “f*ck you!” anthem of defiance.  It’s the exact opposite.


It’s a recognition that the biggest problem in your failure of a life?


Sometimes?




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“Paper bags and angry voices,
Under the sky of dust.
Another wave of tension,
Has more than filled me up.


All my talk of taking action?
Those words were never true.


Now I find myself in question --
(You point the finger again!)
Guilty by association --
(You point the finger again!)


I want to run away!  (Never say goodbye!)
I want to know the truth!  (Instead of wondering why!)
I want to know the answers!  (No more lies!)
I want to shut the door (and open up my mind!) …


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Like I noted at the top, I wish I knew how to write this.  Because Jesus, has linking all these, uuh, links, hurt like there's no tomorrow.

I wish I knew how to compose how I feel properly.  I just don’t.  But what I do know, is that I felt the same pain on Thursday, some of you felt a couple months ago when Chris Cornell killed himself.  That a lot of you my age felt when Kurt Cobain killed himself, that I so f*cking felt when Brad Nowell overdosed, when Scott Weiland succumbed to his inner demons, when 2Pac was assassinated -- a pain that a lot of our parents felt when John Lennon was murdered on Monday, December 8, 1980.


Thursday, July 20, 2017, is a day that will stick in my head for all of my life.  


It’s a day I wish to God Above I could run away from.  Perhaps the only day more painful in my life the last five years, was Wednesday, August 15, 2012.

But at least I'm alive, to survive both of those painful days.

And God f*cking damm*t, how I wish neither of those two days, had ever occurred.

How I wish neither had caused the hurt, pain. and indefensible wrong, both caused to so many of us ...

Thursday, June 29, 2017

arguably the happiest moment of my life ...

“And maybe?  I’ll find out?
A way to make it back someday.
To watch you -- to guide you --
Through the darkest of your days.

If a great wave should fall --
Fall upon us all?
Then I hope there’s someone out there
Who can bring me back to you!

If I could?  Then I would!
I’ll go wherever you will go!
Way up high?  Or down low?
I’ll go wherever you will go! …”


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I hope to post a full recap of my week in Puerto Rico at some point over the next week or so.  Given that over the next week, I have two job interviews, two great friends (at least) from Sioux Falls coming in for one (guaranteed) week of drunken debauchery, a great friend at “former employer”’s retirement bash, and the holiday all coming in the next seven days, I’m not betting on that occurring immediately.

But I wanted to post my favorite moment of the trip, and why.

And that moment … was damned near the last memorable one, of the journey.

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On Sunday morning, after one amazing Saturday night dinner, I stumbled out of bed about 9am Island Time.  (Or 8am KC time, for the time zone challenged.)  I showered, got dressed * , and headed outside for a bit to see what the day looked like.  Charlie, the “less than friendly” dog upstairs, was somehow always friendly to me.  He never barked even once, when I’d head out first thing to survey the day the entire almost week I was down there.  He barked at everyone … other than me.  I have no idea why ** .

After a few minutes surveying the day, I headed back inside, grabbed a glass of water, and pulled up the laptop to survey what happened around the world the night before.  (I suppose this is where I note any morning spent going to Drudge and not seeing “Trump Launches (Insert Military Weapon Here)” as the 72-font headline, is a moral victory in my book.)  And once the rest of the house got going, it was decided we were going to go to the last place I would see in Puerto Rico on this trip, the “aquedad de naticion”.

“The Swimming Hole”.

Call me crazy -- and I’ve certainly been called worse -- but hitting up an “aquedad de natacion” on a 95 degree day … seemed reasonable and sane.

Who was I to know … that said trip to the “aquedad de natacion”?

Would be the most reasonable and sane moment, I’ve ever felt in my life.

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(*: I know this is one my rules in life, and God bless, does it apply in Puerto Rico.  “Any time you wake up, and putting a shirt on seems like the most (mentally challenged) thing you’ve ever heard of?  Is a perfect Stevo Day!”  Every day at this time of year in Puerto Rico?  Is a PERFECT Stevo Day!”)

(**: this is an absolute lie.  The dog liked me because I brought him a Beggin’ Strip every time I stepped outside.)

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There are a lot of things you can say about me.  Most of them will be negative, and probably all of them will be true ... and sadly, that is an absolute true statement.

My life -- and I swear, my closest friends can confirm this! -- my life should be like a textbook for everyone else’s life, on who NOT to be.  Save for my amazing talent at sitting in the sun and drinking, t-shirt nowhere in sight? I’ve failed at damned near everything I’ve ever tried.  

I live in the shadow of friends whose lives should inspire me … only I don’t really desire any part of what they have.  (Namely, I don't want kids. Sweet merciful Lord Jesus, can you imagine how f*cked up a kid of mine would be?)

I live in the shadow of a brother I almost worship, I admire him so much … and yet, I wouldn’t want to be him either.  (There's something to be said for making it home every night.)

I have two amazing, incredible sets of parents -- both real and “adopted” -- who I love, cherish, and would give my life for.  And yet, I still somehow feel I fail them every chance I possibly can, no matter how much they all assure me I’m not a failure.

My personal anthem in life is Gavin DeGraw: “I don’t wanna be anything?  Other than me!”  And yet even that feels like a lie, because who would want to be someone who for the better part of adulthood, has been an abject failure, an abject idiot, the gold standard of “see that guy buddy?  Don’t ever turn out like him!” disgrace?

And that, I suppose, is why the moment meant so much to me.  

The moment, I planted my ass on top of a concrete wall dividing the “aquedad de naticion” from the waterfalls above and below … and took five seconds, to simply look, around what I planted said ass, on.

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(My View.  Photo: me, via my iPhone 7 something.)

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June 25, 2016, I am sure I spent being miserable in the office … at a job that a year later, I not only no longer have, but was paid thousands of dollars to go away from.  It was a day I am sure I hated where I lived … and a year later, I live in a part of town (Waldo), I’ve wanted to call home for the better part of a decade.  I used to always remember The Ex’s birthday (June 25th).  I totally forgot it was Sunday until Chris mentioned it before we headed out for the day.

Nothing about my life made sense a year ago, other than none of it was good, none of it was healthy, and none of it was propelling me forward.  And nothing about my life makes sense a year later, other than all of it is good, all of it is healthy, and all of it is propelling me forward at this point.

That’s what a small, simple, “wait, Stevo’s scared of heights *** , what the f*ck is he doing sitting on a freaking waterfall ledge?!?!?!” moment means to me.  

For the first time in a damned long time?

I felt like a success.

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(***: this is an absolute truth.  I am terrified of heights.  The first stop we made on Friday, at the waterfall you can climb up and get into, it took me fifteen minutes and a few prayers, to make the hike.  But I did it:


(photo: Chris, via my iPhone 7 something.)

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This past week in Puerto Rico meant a lot to me.  And yeah, trust me kids -- once you turn forty, you begin to look back at the life you’ve lived, versus the life you desired.  I’m not upset with the life I’ve lived -- I made every decision, every choice, and I have attempted to own every consequence -- the good, the bad, and the (far too often) ugly.

But what this week meant to me, is that for the first time, I don’t feel married to my past.  I’m not who I was ten years ago, five years ago, even one year ago.

I’m not who I was three months ago, or even three days ago.

Sitting on that concrete wall, the meaning of my personal anthem in life finally hit me.  “I don’t wanna be anything?  Other than me!”

And for the first time since I first heard that song pushing fifteen years ago?

The words actually applied to me ...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

the throwdown of the summer ...

“Sometimes the world looks perfect;
Nothing to rearrange.
But sometimes, you just get a feeling --
Like you need some kind of change.

No matter what the odds are this time?
Nothing’s gonna stand in my way!
This flame in my heart?  Like a long lost friend?
Gives every dark street a light at the end!

Standing tall!
On the wings of my dreams!
Rise and fall!
On the wings of my dreams!

The rain, the thunder?  The wind, the haze?
I’m bound for better days!
It’s my life!  My dreams!
And nothing’s gonna stop me now! …”


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I suppose I may have picked the theme song because one of my favorite television shows (“The Leftovers” -- which sadly just aired its’ final episode last week) had a running joke that the only one left behind from the cast of “Perfect Strangers” was Mark Linn-Baker (who played Larry).  

And in the fourth to last episode, the “joke” finally came full circle.  Any fan of the show knew the moments the opening credits rolled, that this was … well, in the words of the great Mr. Hugh M. Hefner: “this is going to be something … REALLY special!”:


And it all leads up to one of the best crafted dramatic scenes you’ll ever see on television, as the Mark Linn-Baker, as himself, tries to explain to Nora how he came to grips with being one of the leftovers, as she is trying to reason through why she was left behind as well:


(Seriously, Larry dropping the F bomb! (seth cohen voice) That ... is freaking awesome, Ryan!

OK, enough trying to get you to watch a show that maybe three million people ever saw a moment of, and that is now in the scrap heap of history.  Instead, as one show is added to the scrap heap of history, let’s dust one off said (s)crap pile, because today, I come in praise of a “new” show ABC is airing starting Thursday, June 29th.

Oh yes, kids.  “The Battle of the Network Stars” is back!

The TVLine site has the details if you’re interested in them.  I honestly don’t care.  This is going to be a train wreck the likes of which Thomas and Friends haven’t managed to pull off yet.  This is going to be so god awful, it’s going to be epic.

There are twenty teams this season, and trust me peoples and peepettes -- when you see the “talent” on these rosters, you are going to drool in anticipation for this show.  It’s that (depending on your perspective) awesome or horrendous.  

Something this incredible, this train-wreck potentially, can really only be properly handled one way.  And that’s what today’s post is.

The first ever Stevo Battle of the Network Stars Power Poll * !  

Enjoy?

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(*: yes, the Stevo’s Big Brother Power Poll will return this summer as well, once the cast is announced ** .  “Big Brother” returns to CBS on Wednesday, June 28th.)

(**: unless the reveal of the cast occurs while I am in Puerto Rico next week.  Then the Power Poll returns once I, uuh, return, from a week of Caribbean sun and fun.)

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Stevo Battle of the Network Stars Power Poll 1.0.
Key: Ranking.  Team Name (Next Competition).  Roster.  Commentary.

20. Lawyers (vs White House).  Elisabeth Rohm, Corbin Bernsen, Matt McGorry, Romi Dias, Catherine Bell.  As the biggest “Law and Order” addict you’ll ever meet … allow me to register my outrage that Serena Southerlyn is once again being forced onto my TV screen.  I despise Elisabeth Rohm with a passion.  She can’t act.  She probably isn’t athletic at all.  But -- she is kind of cute, so maybe she’ll get the dunk tank treatment?

The only thing that almost -- almost -- kept this squad from occupying the bottom rung of the ladder is Arnie Becker (Corbin Bernsen).  If he’s still half as sleazy as his character was on “LA Law” back in the day, this roster might spring an upset or two along the way.

19. Variety II (vs ABC Stars II).  Lance Bass, Joey Fatone, Adrienne Houghton, Cameron Mathison, Kelly Osbourne.  Sadly, this is not the only Osbourne in this competition, which means there’s at least two too many for my liking.  Also, I have literally never heard of forty percent of this roster.  But, you gotta love that forty percent of the roster is composed of the washed up remains of *NSYNC.  Circle me stunned -- stunned! -- that Justin Timberlake apparently said "Bye, Bye, Bye!" to the (no doubt lost in the mail) invitation to participate in this star-studded summer circus.

18. TV Lifeguards (vs Troublemakers).  David Chokachi, Brande Roderick, Parker Stevenson, Nicole Eggert, Gena Lee Nolin.  OK, I’m fine with these five being the “Baywatch” stars that get hauled out for this competition.  But seriously -- where the hell is Alexandra Paul?  I mean, that has to be one of the greatest mysteries in television history: how the hell did a (not very) attractive chick with (little to no) cleavage get a major starring role on a show whose sole intent and purpose was to have 15-21 year old dudes get turned on by hot chicks in little to no clothing?  How did that happen?  Was she like the EEOC token role?  Was she the affirmative action hire?  Screw the Russia investigation -- this is the investigation both red and blue states can get behind!

Speaking of ...

17. White House (vs Lawyers).  Cornelius Smith Jr., Marlee Matlin, Joshua Molina, LaMonica Garrett, Mary McCormick.  As a die-hard “West Wing” fan, having Will Bailey and Kate Harper back in our lives makes me very happy.  As a fan of “Family Guy”, having Marlee Matlin back in our lives make me really happy.  Also, remember these power rankings are based on “epic train wreck potential” -- the better the potential, the higher the ranking.  This squad looks way, way, way too well put together to do anything but win.

16. TV Sex Symbols (vs Variety I).  Keegan Allen, Traci Bingham, Rosa Blasi, Brant Daugherty, Galen Gering.  I have literally heard of zero of these people.  Also, the dude with the last name of Gering I am already inherently biased against for personal reasons.  So this team has nothing going for it, at least for me.

15. ABC Stars I (vs Primetime Soaps).  Olivia d’Abo, Shari Belafonte, Michael Fishman, Jason Hervey, Anson Williams.  Of all these “stars”, I guarantee you the one most happy with ABC right now is Michael Fishman, who I don’t think has starred in anything since “Roseanne” went off the air twenty years ago.  (Speaking of trainwrecks of Biblical proportions, “Roseanne” returns early 2018 everyone!!!!!)  Also, was Ralph Most not available to fill the “Happy Days” portion of the ABC Stars squad(s)?  I mean, there are two of them for crying out loud.

14. TV Sitcoms II (vs Cops I).  Todd Bridges, Leigh-Allyn Baker, Dave Foley, Willie Garson, Jenna Von Oy.  Six!  Six is in da house!  That’s awesome!  I always thought Jenna Von Oy was hot as hell growing up.  Much hotter than Blossom (brantley gilbert voice) back in the day.

Also, come on -- who’s gonna be the first to drop “What You Talkin’ ‘Bout, Willis?” during the competition at Todd Bridges?  Given who their opponent is?  I can think of not one, but two potential opponents as the correct answer.  (Don’t worry -- Cops I won’t be appearing for a bit yet, the roster is that flaky … err, solid.)

13. Doctors (vs Famous TV Families).  Thomas Calabro, Taye Diggs, Rachelle Lefevre, Diedre Hall, Benjamin Hollingsworth.  In the interest of full disclosure, this team had me at the word “Calabro”.  Dr. Michael Mancini is one of my ten or twelve favorite television characters ever.  I loved the original “Melrose Place”.  Sh*t, I even watched every episode of the unwatchable 2.0 reboot eight years ago.  I love me some sleazy, shifty doctors in prime time.  Nobody’s ever done sleazy and shifty better than Thomas Calabro.  Kudos to ABC for yanking him out of whatever bridge he’s living under to get him at least one semi-solid paycheck.  (And potential residuals to boot!)

12. Cops II (vs Sci-Fi/Fantasy).  Marisol Nichols, Roma Maffia, Adrian Zmed, Fred Dryer, Ryan Paevey.  Well, let’s see here.  You have a veteran of one of the greatest named television shows ever (“TJ Hooker”).  You have a “star” of the only soap opera I occasionally watch (“General Hospital”).  You have a chick from “24”, and a chick from both “The West Wing” and “Law and Order”.  Sounds solid.

(Pause).

Wait, who’d I miss?

(Re-reading the squad’s lineup …) Oh Sweet Merciful Lord Jesus!  Rick Hunter!  Sergeant Hunter!  “It Works For Me” Freaking Rick Freaking Hunter!!!!!  Eleven year old me just did something eleven year old me didn’t really do … well, until he was fourteen year old me.  Oh this is sweet!  I swear to God I am happier right now than I’ve been since at least two seconds ago!

Rick Hunter is back in our lives, people!  This is beyond awesome!  I am so happy I might pour a glass of pinot grigio to celebrate!  (Pause).  What?  (Pause).  Well of course it’s a refill!  Jesus, it’s probably glass five by this point, Ms. Non-Existent Stevo’s Site Numero Dos Editor Dudette!

11. Variety I (vs TV Sex Symbols).  Joanna Krupa, Nick Lachey, Vanessa Lachey, Gilles Marini, Jack Osbourne.  I had to look up two of these people.  The three I didn’t have to Google search, are so train-wrecky worthy this should be 98 degrees of phenomenal (rimshot)!

10. Troublemakers (vs TV Lifeguards).  Vivica A. Fox, Paul Johannson, John Barrowman, Julie Benz, Catherine Bach.  The fact that this collection of “talent” is only in the middle of the pack, is a good sign for this series.  Because trust me, there’s a solid five or six way competition for the number one ranking, these squads are so excellently filled out.

Plus, any roster that contains (a) a chick who’s arguably most famous role is as a stripper named Jasmine, (b) a dude who is arguably the worst father in television show history (rest in peace, One Tree Hill), and (c) the original Daisy Duke herself?  That’s a hell of a squad!

9. Sci-Fi/Fantasy (vs Cops II).  Lou Ferrigno, Vinnie Jones, Charisma Carpenter, Kevin Sorbo, Jill Wagner.  The original Incredible Hulk AND Ryan Atwood’s father on the same team!  This is something I know America has been clamoring for over these last five months! (With (gulp) thirty seven more still to come.)  

8. Prime Time Soaps (vs ABC Stars I).  Ian Ziering, Josh Henderson, Gabrielle Carteris, Donna Mills, Mischa Barton.  Even odds Ms. Barton shows up drunk; 3:2 odds she shows up stoned.  And (fidelity ad guy voice) why not?  5:2 odds she passes out during the competition due to her alleged chemical dependency issues.

Plus, and let’s be honest here.  I’m 40 years old.  I religiously watched the original “90210” in the 90s.  Anyone care to guess how old Ms. Carteris is in real life today?  Keeping in mind she began her career playing a high school junior twenty five years ago.  Go on, take a guess.

(colon blow ad voice) Forty?  (Pause).  Try again.

(colon blow ad voice) Forty one?  (Pause).  I’ll give you one more try.

(colon blow ad voice) Forty two!  (Pause).  Not even close.

Fifty six.  She’s fifty six years old!  Which means she was thirty one when “90210” debuted!  She literally was twice the age of the character she portrayed!  In the words of a former ABC Prime Time staple: “that’s incredible!”

And I haven’t even mentioned Steve Sanders yet!  This squad is loaded folks.  Absolutely loaded!

7. TV Moms and Dads (vs TV Kids II).  Chad Lowe, Greg Evigan, Ted McGinley, Lesley Fera, Jackee Harry.  Rob Lowe’s kid brother!  Jefferson D’Arcy!  And Sandra from 227 to boot!  I mean, from the “I can’t make this sh*t up” department, according to Wikipedia, Ms. Harry played “the sexy nemesis of Mary Jenkins” on 227.  Seriously?  I mean, when I think sexy, when I think “hot damn I need to get horny fast”?  About the 10,385,983,209,847,288th thing that pops into my mind is “Jackee Harry”.

I really hope though we get at least one quality “No Ma’am!” reference out of Mr. McGinley though.  We all need a lil’ National Organization of Men Against Amazonian Masterhood in our lives again.

6. ABC Stars II (vs Variety II).  Ted Lange, Troy Gentile, Jill Whelan, Denise Richards, Joely Fisher.  Yes, I am aware Chuck Sheen’s ex is on this squad.  Yes, I am aware Princess Leia’s sister is on this squad.  And yes, I am aware the dude who plays Jack Black in Tenacious D in various movies is on this squad.

I couldn’t care less about them.

Because this squad also gives us Captain Stubing’s daughter AND Isaac the Bartender!  (Pause).  Yeah, gotta.

“Love!
Exciting and new!
Come aboard --
We’re expecting you!

And love?
Life’s sweetest reward!
Let it flow --
It floats back to you!

The love boat!
Soon will be making another run!
The love boat!
Promises something for everyone!

Set a course for adventure;
Your mind on a new romance! …”

You know, maybe it’s time to retire the “ALF” or “Webster” Game O’ The Week this fall, and promote “The Love Boat” to its spot as “I’d rather watch three hours of this sh*ttacular show than one second of this horrific football game” designation …

Now, it gets hard.  (Pause).  What?  (Pause).  Well of course I meant the countdown!  What the hell else did you think I meant?

I can make the case for ANY of these five remaining squads being the one you don’t want to miss compete.  They’re all that damned train-wrecky.  They’re all composed with beloved former “stars”, epic washouts in life, and catch phrase gimmicks galore.

Here we go …

5. TV Kids I (vs TV Sitcoms I).  Joey Lawrence, Corbin Bleu, Nolan Gould, Lisa Whelchel, Kim Fields.  In the word of one of these talented superstars: “whoa!”

Joey from “Blossom”!  Tootie AND Blair from “The Facts of Life”!  Luke from “Modern Family”!  And whoever the hell Corbin Bleu is!  I mean, this is one fantastic crew!

4. TV Sitcoms I (vs TV Kids I).  Bronson Pinchot, Tom Arnold, Dave Coulier, AJ Michalka, Tracey Gold.  And now you get the point of the theme song to this post.  Cousin Balky!  Oh hell yes!  Tom Arnold!  Sweet!  Tracey Gold!  Phenomenal!  Whoever the hell AJ Michalka is!  Spectacular!  

And the nightcap -- Uncle Joey himself, the greatness that is Dave Coulier!


I couldn’t have said it better myself, sir.

3. TV Kids II (vs TV Moms and Dads).  Jimmie Walker, Mackenzie Phillips, Jonathan Lipnicki, Krista Marie Yu, Jeremy Miller.  Amazingly enough, there are two squads even more loaded with meltdown ability than this one, and this one boasts Ben from “Growing Pains”, the annoying kid from “Jerry Maguire”, Kid (Clap!) Dy-No-Mite, AND the odds on favorite for an epic drug and/or alcohol induced meltdown, Mackenzie Phillips!

2. Cops I (vs TV Sitcoms II).  Erik Estrada, Larry Wilcox, Kelly Hu, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Lorenzo Lamas.  Admitting up front I don’t recognize either of the two females, this still is one loaded roster.  Lorenzo Lamas!  Ol’ Renegade himself!  What could possibly go wrong with him in the competition?  And not one, but two -- two! -- of the heroes of CHiPs!  Both Jon AND Ponch!  Again, what could POSSIBLY go wrong with those two involved in the outcome!

But your leader in the clubhouse as this thing gets underway … and I think I’m right about this one …

1. Famous TV Families (vs Doctors).  Danny Bonaduce, Barry Williams, Beverley Mitchell, Willie Aames, Charlene Tilton.  Apparently this Beverley Mitchell person starred in “Seventh Heaven”.  Having never seen a second of that show, I had no idea.  

And, let’s be honest here -- this roster would be upgraded if instead of Charlene, it was Robert, filling the Tilton Role:


But the other three?  Wow.  Just … hang on, I have to do this one right.

(dave armstrong voice) WOW!

This … I mean, which of those three is the biggest trainwreck -- Ol’ Bar, Ol’ Dan, or Ol’ Bill?  Which of those three (and if anyone ever needed proof the entire nation was drugged from about 1970-1982, this ought to prove it), which of those three sex symbols that had females coast to coast fifty years ago, which of these three fine male specimen are about to inspire grandmas across America to whip out the pocket rocket all over again?

There’s really only one way to find out.  And sadly for all of us … it does involve a threesome.

As Ryan Seacrest will start noting again come January 2018: “dim the lights, here we go!”  2017’s first Stevo’s Site Numero Dos … Tale … O’ The Tape!

Seven Questions.  Three Possible Outcomes.  Only one winner.  (And I’m guessing it won’t be anyone reading this, or about to tune in to this entertainment extravaganza in two weeks.)

Question One: Nailed Florence Henderson.

Barry: probably.
Danny: maybe.
Willie: can you define “nailed” for me?

Point: Willie Aames.  I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt here.

Question Two: Beat both Barry Williams and Donny Osmond in a celebrity boxing bout.

Barry: nope.
Danny: yup - and yup.
Willie: yeah, right.

Point: Danny Bonaduce.  Guess Senor Osmond isn’t the “Soldier of Love” he professes to be.

Question Three: Was a participant in a sh*ttacular fake band on his TV show.

Barry: yes -- both as Greg Brady and Johnny Bravo.
Danny: yes -- as Danny Partridge.
Willie: what’s a band?

Point: Barry Williams.  Hey, there’s sh*ttacular … and then there’s Johnny Bravo.

Question Four: Made a cameo appearance in “Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star”.

Barry: yes.
Danny: yes.
Willie: what’s a cameo?

Point: Willie Aames.  You people have no idea how much I f*cking hate David Spade.

Question Five: Once stated on Joe Scarborough’s MSNBC show that “if anyone has a rope thick enough, I think that Rosie (O’Donnell) should be strung up”.

Barry: no.
Danny: yes.
Willie: what’s a rope?

Point: Danny Bonaduce.  Admit it, you laughed as hard as I did, at that visual.

Question Six: Has his own show on Sirius XM’s “70’s on 7” channel.

Barry: yes.
Danny: no.
Willie: what’s a channel?

Point: Barry Williams.  At least he’s gainfully employed.

So here we are, the Question of Great Significance, and we’re all tied up 2-2-2.  Someone (and God knows it won’t be you or I) is about to “win” this thing.  Here we go …

Question Seven: Has been a part of two successful television shows.

Barry: Does a bit part in “General Hospital” count?
Danny: Does a couple appearances on “Celebrity Boxing” count?
Willie: Does starring as Buddy Lembeck on “Charles in Charge” count?


Winner: no doubt about it, the biggest trainwreck about to appear on our television screens, ladies and gentlemen, is Bibleman himself, Willie Aames!  

So, peoples and peepettes, pick your rooting interest, and enjoy the hell out of this revival. Because God knows I intend to.

And hey -- as always -- until next time? (Which hopefully won't be two months from now, unlike this post following the previous one?)

(sgt. esterhaus voice) Let's be careful out there ...