By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
We'd like to think it is only due to the lengthy writers' strike, but we have to admit it's much more likely due to the decline and fall of Western civilization: American Gladiators is coming back.
In case you've forgotten — or haven't caught the reruns on cable — Gladiators was the ultimate in 1990s cheese, a noble attempt to prove that decade could be as ridiculous and silly as the '70s or '80s combined. Laughably costumed "gladiators," all with haircuts moussed or gelled beyond what many would think the capacity of human hair to be, competed with amateurs in a series of contrived athletic competitions.
Many of the gladiators tried, with depressingly reliable amounts of failure, to become "characters." "Malibu," for instance, was convinced his ticket to stardom was to come across as the world's least likely surf bum.
Hosts included big names like Joe Theismann and Larry Csonka. Not to mention Houston's own Lisa Malosky, who spent two seasons interviewing gladiators before moving on to Rockets and Comets broadcasts.
She's raising two kids now, but still has the inside skinny on her brief moment in the sun:
Hair Balls: What do you remember most?
Lisa Malosky: What I would say — the most-asked question I get is, "Was it real?" It was absolutely real. The gladiators were — some were ex-athletes, some ex-bodybuilders and 99.5 percent of them were interested in getting into the entertainment industry or Hollywood.
HB: How'd that work out?
LM: "Hawk"...I saw him on the HGTV show, something or other, a while back...I've seen a couple doing cameo spots on cable shows over the years.
HB: Did the gladiators take themselves seriously?
LM: Absolutely. They did take themselves very seriously. And honestly, they were very nice people and you have to give them credit: That was their reputation on the line. They were the ones who were supposed to win. So although everyone was always rooting against them, I kind of felt for them because the people who were competing against them were actually very good.
HB: Looking at clips, you have to believe there were a lot of steroids being used.
LM: People ask that a lot, and people assume. I will be perfectly honest — steroids at the time were not talked about like it is now. And they certainly were incredibly fit. I have no knowledge of anyone taking steroids, but I wouldn't have known anyway because I wouldn't have known the signs to look for. But we didn't have any odd episodes of 'roid rage or anything like that.
HB: Do you watch the reruns?
LM: I TiVo'd the show — my husband and I checked it out, because I have two boys, eight and six, and they are going to absolutely howl when they watch it.
Howl with respect, one hopes. Those who watched Gladiators — the original, the best version; not the new one — would expect nothing less.
We're Classic, Not Modern
There was a brief notice in the Houston Chronicle in February when William Vanderbloemen, the young, energetic senior minister of Houston's First Presbyterian Church, announced his resignation.
FPC is the dignified, classy church in the Museum District. Vanderbloemen preached at Senator Lloyd Bentsen's funeral, to a crowd that included both Clintons.
The resignation was said to be so he could spend more time with his family. That hasn't worked out so well — he and his wife are getting divorced.
But with the divorce case, word is getting out that Vanderbloemen — who to some was trying to be a Presbyterian Joel Osteen — was pissing off a large chunk of his congregation.
Documents from Presbyterian higher-ups show performance reviews criticizing him: "We know that you consider yourself to be ethical and honest. The fact that you are not perceived as such must be corrected immediately." And "Your e-mails to your congregation are losing their effectiveness due to your bragging about how great the church is and how others are watching us because we are so great. This is also a problem with sermons."
Vanderbloemen was also urged to cut back on radio spots selling him and the church, and traveling so much.
Geez, Presbyterians: You will never get to be a bestseller-hawking mega-church with that attitude.
Wayne Stroman runs a time-share business that has generated hundreds and hundreds of complaints at the Better Business Bureau (see "The Getaway," July 5, 2007).
So what's his latest accomplishment? Getting elected to the board of directors of the Houston Association of Realtors.
Apparently none of the voters ever paid the $599 that Stroman charges for what critics say is bupkis. (The Yiddish-speaking critics, at any rate.)
HAR's new chairman, Michael Levitin, says he's fine with the move: "The bottom line is, he's a member in good standing," he says.
Dan Parsons of the Houston chapter of the BBB doesn't necessarily agree: "If I were HAR," he says, "I would be concerned with where that decision came from because they've got to look at that man's history and say, 'What an amount of complaints.'...I would question what the nominating committee was thinking."