Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Abbott And Costello

TigerBlog's channel flipping the other night never made it past TMC, which had a triple-feature of "Buck Privates," "Ride 'Em Cowboy" and The Noose Hangs High."

As anyone who grew up in the 1970s in the New York area and watched Channel 11 Sunday mornings at 11:30 knows, those three movies all belong to the legendary comedy team of Abbott and Costello.

"Buck Privates" was the first movie for the duo, who started their movie career in 1941 as an extension of their vaudeville days. The straight man was Bud Abbott, who grew up in Asbury Park, and the portly man with the punchlines was Lou Costello, who grew up in Paterson and was a boxer before turning to show business.

Together they made 36 movies in 14 years, from 1941-1955, and they were the No. 1 box office team the entire time. And years later, every Sunday at 11:30, Channel 11 would show one of them.

TB has seen every one of them a bunch of times, though not for years. And so, when he saw the tripleheader the other day, he was hooked.

Most Abbott and Costello movies were the same. The two buddies would find themselves unwittingly thrust into the middle of some situation, and they would just as unwittingly become the heroes of the situation. Along the way, Abbott would torture Costello verbally, but Lou would sometimes get back at Bud.

TB's three favorite Abbott and Costello movies are "The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap," "Comin' Round the Mountain" and "The Time Of Their Lives." The first two follow the familiar script; the third is unique in that Abbott (a modern-day psychiatrist and the descendant of a Revolutionary War traitor, whom Abbott plays in the beginning of the movie) and Costello (a ghost whose character was mistaken for a traitor during the Revolution) don't play off each other much.

Of course, the two are most famous for their routines, especially "Who's On First," which originated as a skit on a radio show and later was in the movie "The Naughty Nineties."

TigerBlog remains a huge fan of the two, long after their deaths (Costello died in 1959 shortly before his 54th birthday; Abbott died in 1974 at the age of 78).

TB was also a huge fan of the Marx Brothers. He liked Dean Martin more than Jerry Lewis, and he never really got into Laurel and Hardy.

And, since Channel 11 long ago stopped showing the old Abbott and Costello movies, there are probably fewer than, oh, 10% of current Princeton athletes who can identify them.

Anyway, a more modern version of a comedy duo was formed in Cincinnati, when the Bengals signed Terrell Owens to pair with Chad Ochocinco. You want to talk about funny? How about the two of them on the same team?

It was brought to TB's attention this morning that becoming the Princeton head football coach spared Bob Surace from having a front-row seat for the Owens-Ochocino show.

Actually, Owens and Ochocinco are more alike than just being me-first attention grabbers who've been known to destroy team chemistry. In fact, they both feel that they are actually misunderstood and misrepresented and that they practice hard and play hard all the time, even hurt. They don't get arrested, and they don't do drugs.

In contemporary American sporting society, doesn't this pass for being a good guy? Or is the bar so low that often-boorish behavior doesn't make you a bad guy?

Either way, Surace walked away from coaching with the Bengals to become Princeton's head coach. Now, while NFL training camps are starting, Surace is removed from that, still a few weeks away from his first Princeton preseason.

Here in the Ivy League, football season doesn't start until Sept. 18, and practice doesn't start until late August.

The NFL preseason, of course, is about to start. If there's any doubt what the No. 1 sport in this country is, check out the amount of attention paid to mundane practices, let alone the games themselves.

In most of college football, teams are getting ready to get started in the next week or so, though the start of the regular season doesn't come around until Sept. 2

TigerBlog has said this often, but he is a big fan of the way the Ivy League does it, with 10 games in 10 weeks and no off-weeks built in. The schedule does not start before Labor Day and run until after Thanksgiving.

And of course there is no postseason, which is clearly the No. 1 thing most Ivy League fans would change about their league.

TB hates the postseason in the FBS, but the FCS is different, with its 16-team tournament. TB understands why the Ivy League does not participate, as the foundation of the league was built on no athletic scholarships or postseason for football.

And TB is looking forward to the 2010 football season, especially to see how Surace begins to make his mark on the program. And, for that matter, to see what he's like on game day, how he runs his team, what his in-game and post-game personality is like.

And even something simple, like what he and the coaches will wear during the games.

Princeton football has a new head coach for 2010, one who could have been spending his time shaking his head at TO and Ochocinco. Instead, he's here, getting ready for his first run through the league.

In a few weeks, at least.

1 comment:

CZ said...

A) How could you not mention "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein"? Definitely one of their top 5!

B) “Ochocinco and Ochostinko”… who cares? The fact that so much time is being spent pontificating on this nonsense is clearly an indictment on today’s sports media looking to create stories and flame the fires of controversy wherever possible. ESPN/Fox/CNBC, unfortunately today they’re all the same. Remember when you got all your weekly football info Friday nights from This Week in Pro Football with Tom Brookshier and Pat Summerall?

C) I completely agree that the only reason all other sports exist is to kill time between football seasons. BTW, GO GIANTS!!!

D) Coach Surace clearly made the right move in leaving the Bungles for the Tiggers. Good Luck Coach!