Rick: A good friend of both Ron and myself ended his years-long battle with leukemia Thursday afternoon. John “Bad Dog” McCormack was a much-beloved morning radio personality whose heart was as big as his laugh and his immense legion of fans. John was a natural lover of people, considering everyone he met a friend. No matter who you were, he had a way of making you feel like you were the most important person on the planet.
He was as well-known for his charity work with the Ronald McDonald House as for his legendary Twilight Phone prank calls. With a quick wit and a ready joke for every occasion, we often called him the Morey Amsterdam of radio. Upon that cue he’d jump into an impression of the Dick Van Dyke Show quipmeister that would impress Rich Little.
I fondly remember spending many a Thursday night with Bad Dog editing Twilight Phones for his Friday show. (This was back in the days before digital editing, so what would now take just a few minutes would often run into three, even four hours with a razor blade, a roll of splicing tape and a lot of trial and error.) Inevitably we’d go grab dinner first, and he made those adventures in dining even funnier than the prank phone calls we’d spend the rest of the evening whittling down to broadcast length. One of our favorite midtown dives he aptly called “Ptomaine Tavern”. During a particularly unforgettable meal, there was a moment when he suddenly and inexplicably slammed the salt shaker down on the table. I thought he was just being funny, but it was only after we left the restaurant that John confessed he was killing a cockroach.
He spent his life spreading joy and encouragement to everyone around him. Anticipating that his days were drawing to a close, he was determined to shield us from sorrow even after his passing. Per his request, John’s Facebook page posts his parting message to us all:
“I have gone to be with God and He is holding me tightly and I am surrounded by many of the Ronald McDonald House kids. Do not say you have lost a friend… one is only lost when you don’t know where they are… you know where I am. I thank each and every one of you for your support and prayers. I love all of you and that will never go away. When you are having a bad day, think of my laugh or a Twilight Phone or the time we met. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow. Make every day great, be the spiritual leader of your family. May peace be with you. Your friend, Bad Dog.”
Thank you Johnny Mac, for all the laughs, and all the love.
Click below to listen to a classic Twilight Phone: “The Zoo Call”
America’s favorite crooners have been warming our winters with yuletide sentiments for seven decades now. By virtue of their continued playlist popularity every December, these select few have earned their place in the holiday Hall of Fame. Here’s Rick & Ron’s video tribute to the top ten most enduring baritones and balladeers of the season.
Rick: At lunch recently, Ron and I spent quite a bit of time recalling the many guest stars on The Andy Griffith Show, and were surprised by the lengthy list. Beyond the main stars and the familiar supporting cast of the 1960s classic, a fair number of future celebrities graced the streets of Mayberry. Before you wrack your own brain to remember the many famous faces, we’ll nip it in the bud for you with this video. Even Gomer would find these citizens arresting.
For more on Mayberry, join Ron and I as we discuss The Andy Griffith Show at length in our latest webisode: click to listen
Rick: Though entertainment is the main focus here at Rick & Ron at Lunch, sometimes our short attention span does turn to food (at least three times a day, actually). So perhaps it was inevitable that at some point we’d be musing over singers and musicians whose very names inspire hunger. I know whenever I hear them announce Meat Loaf on the radio I start thinking about mashed potatoes and gravy on the side (but let’s leave Dee Dee Sharp out of it).
After considerable contemplation – and a half a bag of Doritos – I came up with a list (and this resultant video) of entertainers who have a song in their heart and food in their names.
I have just five words. Please don’t be aliens. Please.
Now that America’s Got Talent is down to only four finalists, I thought it would be fitting to look back at some of the contestants who left lasting impressions on us this season, along with some ideas on why they didn’t make it to the end. If you’ve also invested Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the last eleven weeks, let’s indulge each other.
ANNA AND PATRYK
What fantastic 12-year-old dancers; technically perfect, polished and professional. One hopes that Anna realizes her unfortunate fall in the semi-finals had no negative impact on the voting; everyone overlooked that because they’re both so good. But they are just too young and too ballroom to pull in a Vegas audience. There’s no doubt that they’ll have enduring dance careers in a more appropriate and family-friendly environment.
CHRISTINA AND ALI
Sweet little gals with a sad backstory. If only they had sounded better together, but their harmonies were frequently off. Their inspirational songs were crowd-pleasers and it was also nice to see them pick up the pace and dance their last time out. It wasn’t just sympathy votes that got them to the final ten, it was their overall charm factor. Good luck and good health to them both.
The extreme bicycle stunt guy. Enjoyed what he did but was always worried for his safety, in a distracting way. I’m rather relieved that he was voted out before he killed himself.
This young singer/guitarist was my favorite underdog. While not as strong a singer as Michael Grimm, his personality made him a winner in my book. If a performer can make you feel good sometimes that’s what matters most, and Taylor Matthews always shined. May he find his niche out there somewhere.
STUDIO ONE YOUNG BEAST SOCIETY
They had some pretty original and even dangerous moves that were very exciting. Dance troupes rarely catch my eye, but this one really has something new going on. Hope they’ll show up elsewhere too.
As a contortionist-dancer he was always entertaining. I especially liked his interaction with the big video on his last sojourn. He never was likely to win this competition, but his presence added the right kind of variety.
This muscle-bound fire magician was a true showman and managed some powerful illusions. I really enjoyed Antonio and wanted him to make it to the finals, but I suspect word got around that he already has a Vegas show, Ignite, in which he plays a fire demon. The rules related to amateur vs professional in AGT must not be that stringent, since a few of this year’s acts have been out in public performing for years.
Using tesla coils and other high-tech devices, these engineers achieve impressive feats with electricity, but the music generated by their dangerous toys just didn’t sound that good. Admittedly, their act has to be seen live to be appreciated, as was mentioned many times. Sadly, on TV it was akin to watching fireworks on an iPod.
Clever name and an original concept, that of ballet on the rocks. It might be my own aversion to rock climbing, but beyond my appreciation for their skills, it’s not something I needed to see more than once.
I won’t say anything bad about him. He did what I could never do, which is get a kite off the ground.
This is the Tim Burtonesque magician who freaked Howie out by getting too close with used dental floss. Sperry was great until his last unconvincing sawing-off-Nick-Cannon’s-arm trick. Everyone has a bad night. The truth is, he’s already a major award-winning illusionist who I hope will make future appearances on TV shows.
Very, very nice voice, but frequently off-key, not to mention a breathy mic technique. With vocal training and the confidence of experience she could still be a successful recording artist. She’s got the look and there’s nothing sexier than a girl who plays guitar.
Wasn’t sorry to see them go. Cute as bugs and just as unnecessary.
Air musicians. They dress up and pretend they’re rock stars. As entertaining as drunk fratboys wearing grass skirts and coconut bras. Thanks anyway.
I didn’t think she was all that bad, though her song choices were regretful and the overall presentation never quite hit the target. Like Debra Romer, some vocal training could still help her get where she wants to go.
This jolly and flamboyant baritone who did inspiring takes on “Circle of Life” and gospel numbers is a voice coach and also crochets hats by hand. Likeable and loud, he seems like he’d be fun at a party. He has a Facebook page. We should all Friend him.
I liked Doogie! He looked funny, he sounded funny, and even when his jokes didn’t work he made that funny. Loved when he brought his own cheering section and even they were booing him. Doogie should have made it to the top ten.
Does anyone else remember Sponjetta? In one of the very first auditions way back in June she sang her original composition, “Studio”, which basically consisted of the lyrics “I’ll be in my studio, studio,” repeated over and over. She got buzzed by all three judges within a minute, but I kinda dug it, ’cause I’m up in my studio right now, y’all.
He’s the worst impressionist of all time (not counting some of the ones on YouTube). The jury’s still out on whether Ronith really thought that he had talent, or if he did know how awful he was and created a brilliant act around it. I just thought he was hysterical in his badness. A million dollars worth of hysterical? No, but I still hope ‘he’ll be back’.
Can’t finish the list without mentioning this beehive-wearing, Casio-playing, virus-spreading octogenarian. Like Ronith, it was uncertain whether she was in on the gag or not, but eventually it just became too painful to watch. Even dancing cows couldn’t make her act any more ridiculous than the absurdity of an old lady who can’t sing and can’t play being allowed on stage in the first place. She was there for Howie’s amusement and little else.
Well, there you go. There were many more contestants, some of whom also deserve mention. Give us your impressions. (Not you, Ronith.)