Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Looking Back at a Monday Night

Last night, I came home to settle in for what I thought would be refreshing evening of entertainment.  I even had one last leftover slab of my famed lasagna to start the ball rolling.   The TV got flipped on for background noise.

And then everything fell apart.   Annoyances would be thrown at me every five minutes.

First off, the news was on and it was all aghast with something something Trump and Putin.  Since I have been pretty good at burying my head in the sand, I knew nothing of this alleged meeting yesterday.   But the liberal journalists (are there really any other kind?) were charging Trumpski with treason and duplicity as charges that our last Presidential election were rigged.

And I began to think about all this sanctimonious hand wringing and caterwauling I was hearing on TV and from some loony friends on social media.  How the hell could we allow this happen in our history?

Um, you fucking dumbbells, let's understand something.   The United States has been rigging elections in countries all over the globe for years.   South America.  Africa.   Bumfuk near the Equator.   We have been installing our favorite leaders in these disaster areas since World War II.   

God, my friends are so damn stupid.

I click the remote.

Ah, the annual Home Run Derby prior to the All Star Game.   I have always found this a dopey event that frequently destroys the abilities of its participants.   I am pretty sure that all of the Mets' David Wright's medical issues started with the Home Run Derby.   But I linger because the Dodgers' Max Muncy is going to hit.

But then I heard the voice.
One more time, ESPN trucks out its baseball color commentator, Jessica Mendoza, who has this job for two reasons.   She's a woman and she's got a Z in her last name.   Perhaps one of the most annoying people ever to call the sport.  Her qualification?  She played softball.   

Now I'm not against a female color commentator for baseball.   The Yankees' Suzyn Waldman has been working there for years and she's damn good at this.  But, every time Mendoza opens her mouth...well, she knows so little about the game of baseball.   Let's say that, if knowledge was liquid, you could pour hers into a thimble without spilling a drop.   

When she gets miked up to shag flies in the outfield, I go to wash my dinner dishes.

I come back to find the Derby has morphed into an episode of "I Love Bryce."  Harper, that is.   The Washington National is playing in the Derby and dressed like Rhoda Morgenstern on the Fourth of July.
As the ESPN gasbags bloviate over his greatness, I wonder if anybody of them saw the games over the weekend where the Nats were playing the Mets in Citi Field.   As a potential free agent looking for a new contract, Harper's play was lackadaisical and sloppy.   Buyer beware.   The Met announcers saw what I did.  I guess the ESPN idiots did not.

In the short space of one hour, I was completely annoyed.   I looked for a comfort zone and popped in a DVD for its annual viewing.
Ah, that's better.

Adults.   I don't know what's wrong with these adults today.

Dinner last night:  Lasagna...like I told you.


Monday, July 16, 2018

Monday Morning Video Laugh - July 16, 2018

Mr. Bean on vacation.   Enough said.

Dinner last night:  Too humid to cook...just a sandwich and some German potato salad.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Sunday Memory Drawer - A Fan of the Summer

We're deep now in the belly of Summer 2018.  On my last trip to New York in June, I got the tail end of some really sweltering weather on my first two days there.  Last week in Los Angeles, mercury spurted out of thermometers as temps went over 110 degrees.  The requisite photo on Facebook was a picture of your car temperature.   This past week, LA got to experience some very New York-like humidity...the kind of air that can be sliced with a butter knife.  You can almost see it as it envelops every pore of your body. 

You don't say global warming anymore.  It's now called climate change.  Whatever the case, I say "phooey."  Yeah, it's summer and it gets freakin' hot.  We deal with it.

When I was a kid, it was a lot easier to cope.  I had nothing else to do.  In that youthful purgatory of being too old to sit in a wading pool down on the backyard lawn and too young to get a summer job, I was a bit lost during the summer months.  We had one air conditioner in our house, situated in the living room.  Spend all day inside and watch TV?  That got a little old by the second week of July.  Spend all night inside the ultra-coolness that surrounded the Zenith picture tube?  Well, that wasn't an option.  When it was really, really hot, my mother, already commuting to a NY job every day, slept on the living room couch so she could be crisp for the morning run to the train station. 

So what to do at night when the temperature still hadn't dropped below 85?

Well, eventually, a routine developed for summer nights on 15th Avenue in Mount Vernon.

The post 6PM hours were easy to cover.  I've written before of our neighborhood vacant lot that was nightly transformed into our own personal ballpark.  Surrounded by weeds that were virtual condominiums for mosquitos, this was hardly the ideal way for me and my buddies to stay cool.  Running around till we were sweaty and playing our own special brand of baseball with ground rules that had to be perfectly tailored for our dimensions.  Hit the ball in the big thoroughfare of First Street, you're out.  Hit the sliver of a sidewalk and you've got a homer.  Throw the ball over the head of the kid playing first base and expect a ten minute delay while we rifled through the aforementioned weeds looking for the ball.

But, there we were every night from about 6PM to around 830PM or whenever the ball was declared officially lost.  We needed to head back to our block anyway.

Coot and his Good Humor truck were due at 845PM.  Dessert!!  And we would savor our treats on somebody's front steps.  Landing en masse as a group.  Or sometimes it was just me and my best neighborhood pal Leo munching our Chocolate Chip Candys on the cement stairs in front of my house and yakking up the day's events. 

By about 930PM or 10PM, Leo would retire to his home which included two parents and three lively brothers.  As for me, the house was deadly quiet and sibling-less.  Upstairs, my mother was asleep in the living room, chilling away for her next day of work.  Downstairs, Grandma had decided once again that television was for the birds and headed off to bed herself.  Meanwhile, my father wouldn't be home from his night job until after 1AM. 

Now an official summer night owl, I had at least three or four hours to kill before I would hit the hay myself.  Back then, nighttime Met home games started at 8PM, so sometimes there was still a contest to watch finish up on the rickety black-and-white portable television in my room.  But it was still way too hot for that and the bedspread worked up the sweat that had finally evaporated after my baseball exploits on the lot earlier that evening.  I could have watched Johnny Carson, but his jokes were not as funny while you were losing quarts of water in your own personal sauna.

I had hours to spend and a body to cool.  What's a kid to do?

There was only one place for me.  Our kitchen.  With the enormous fan in the window.  It made the sound of the D train rushing through a local subway station. But, like ocean water crashing up against a shore, there was something oddly soothing with that loud whirring of our kitchen fan. I could listen to it for hours. And frequently did. Way up close.

I was a weird kid.

And electric fans had been the way our family kept cool during the summer. 

My grandmother had one mounted in her kitchen downstairs as well and that must have been how people stayed cool during World War II. Apparently, there are all sorts of scientific solutions on how to use the fan to get gusts of wind going throughout the house. It must have been handed down like family lore, because both my dad and Grandma were cooling experts.

If you're in the bedroom, you turn on the kitchen fan and then close all the doors of the house except for the room you're in. Voila. The whole opening in the home gets all the intake and you have a breeze. Naturally, I would invariably go into one of the other rooms and then I would hear the wail.

"Close the door!!"

But, after 10PM every steamy summer night, I had to be near that monster of a fan.  For the breeze, but also for the noise.  It shut me into my own special world.  This was my "alone" time and I valued it.

So did my dog Tuffy, who would sequester herself in her sleeping box and keep me quiet company.  This would be my hideaway for the next three hours.

First order of business?  I'd make myself a sandwich with one of the German cold cuts my father had bought the previous Saturday morning.  Usually my beloved Taylor Ham or some Cervelat.  Wait, didn't I just have a Good Humor ice cream?  No worries.  That had to be...wow...over an hour ago.

For two summers, I would spend the 10PM hour and playing out past New York Met seasons with my Strat-O-Matic baseball game.  These were the versions of the popular strategy game that were not computerized.  I'd follow the games of an earlier season schedule and simply replay the games.  Then, I'd record the stats in a spiral bound notebook.  The goal was to see if I could duplicate the same statistics that each player had actually recorded in that season.  And was it possible for me to manage the New York Mets and improve their overall record?

I told you I was a weird kid.   And obviously an only child.

I was only good for about two or three games a night.  I had to set aside quality time for my next nightly activity.

Reading.  And summer was the best time to do it.

There was always something different about diving into a book when you didn't have to as opposed to when it was assigned to you by some nutty seventh grade English teacher. All those designated "must-reads" ever did was promote the opportunities to make sport of the titles.

Silly Ass Marner.

Great Expectorations.

And the boys locker room classic: A Sale of Two Titties.

Reading on hot and humid nights was a completely different thing, though. I couldn't wait to hit a book around 11PM and go till about 1AM or whenever Dad popped home from work and sent me to bed. Even then, my reading preference tended to be more film and sports biographies. I would attack a novel from time to time. Usually, if some best seller was being made into a movie for summer release, I would race to finish the book before seeing the film. I remember vividly the breakneck speed at which I finished "The Godfather." 

And, for this innocent youngster, Page 27 was more education than I ever needed.

But, the simple act of nightly reading was not the complete nirvana. I had another bizarre ritual that went along with it hand-in-hand.

I needed to have a glass of iced tea at my side.  Usually the Nestea powder brand.  Nobody in my house had the time or the inclination to brew it from scratch.

I'd then take the kitchen chair and put it as close to the monstrosity of a kitchen fan, which was always spinning on the highest speed.   It was situated right next to a china closet, which created a pretty dark corner and a very small space.  No worries.  I was snug.  And there is where my summer nightly reading took place. With a tensor lamp and me wedged in between the fan and the china closet with a good book. It was almost like my own private little cave.

To this day, the sound of an electric fan does a little more than just comfort me. It blows me right back to Don Corleone, Rhett and Scarlett, and a biography of Charlie Chaplin.

Before I knew it, I would be stirred back to reality by a male voice.

"Go to bed already."

Dad was home.  I'd stumble down the hall to my Gobi Desert of a bedroom.  Thinking fondly of the next night.   When I would repeat the routine all over again.

Dinner last night:  Sausage pizza from Maria's Italian Kitchen.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Classic Newsreel of the Month - July 2018

All Star Game time....60 years ago.

Dinner last night:  Grilled knockwurst.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Your Friendly Corner Liquor Store












Dinner last night:   Chef's salad.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Traveling While Not Walking

No, today's entry isn't about basketball penalties.   I don't give a shit about LeBron James coming to the Lakers.

Nope, this is all about my recent trip to NY and, as the picture above shows, part of my transportation on this sojourn was via American Airlines wheelchair.   I'm glad the dude in the picture is pretty young.   I don't feel so bad now.

So, if you're a regular reader here, you know I am moving slowly but surely to a right knee replacement.   I'm not there yet, thanks to a lot of proactive work with my personal trainer Peter and my electromagnetic therapist Marcie.  Plus I just got some gel injections so I would be travel-friendly, right?

Um, wrong.   About a week prior to my departure from LAX, I had a knee flare-up that was telethon-worthy.   When out of the house, I found myself walking with my Harry Potter fold-up cane.  The limp was limpier.   If I would be caught in a high rise fire, I would not make it out.

As I contemplated my trip, I thought about the AA arrival gates and baggage claim at JFK Airport.  They are so far apart that you might as well pick up your suitcase in Times Square.   This was an impending disaster.

I thought about the fact that I had flown over 1.5 million miles on AA in the past 15 years.   Surely, this could be some sort of accommodation.   I bit down hard on the bullet and made a...gulp...wheelchair request.

Best thing I ever did, hands...and legs down.  This process was efficient and painless.  As a result, I could ditch the cane for most of my NY trip.

The road back to Los Angeles, however?   Um, not so good.   I had bizarrely booked my return flight to LAX for 9PM.   That's already a long day for these knees.   I had also mistakenly overwrapped my knee with a brace which actually compressed my knees beyond recognition.   Never again.

While I got an aisle seat with extra legroom, the crowded flight allowed for a minimum of stretching.   Er, even with wheelchair transport, that person crawling around Baggage Claim Area 1 at 1AM Pacific time was me.  

My knee barely recovered.   Plus I had three Dodger games and a Hollywood Bowl upon my return.   Agony.

I realized somewhere along this recent journey that I need time to get my knee to rebound.   Luckily, I work at home and, over the next two weeks, I have just one Dodger game.   Along with training and electromagnetic waves, my knee is coming around.

Just in time for when I have to travel back to NY in mid-August.

Yes, it's a struggle.   But, luckily, this is the only health issue I have and things could be a lot worse.   More importantly, I refuse to let this define me as a person.

But, will my next airline reservation also specify "wheelchair assistance?"   You betcha.

Dinner last night:  Salad.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

This Date in History - July 11

Happy ____________ day, Brett Somers.

472:  AFTER BEING BESIEGED IN ROME BY HIS OWN GENERALS, WESTERN ROMAN EMPEROR ANTHEMIUS IS CAPTURED IN THE OLD ST. PETER'S BASILICA AND PUT TO DEATH.

So much for the national Anthemius.

1346:  CHARLES IV OF LUXEMBOURG IS ELECTED EMPEROR OF THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE.

Roman emperors have more churn than a butter factory.

1405:  MING ADMIRAL ZHENG HE SETS SAIL TO EXPLORE THE WORLD FOR THE FIRST TIME.

Was his wife named Zheng She?

1576:  MARTIN FROBISHER SIGHTS GREENLAND.

And said "big deal."

1735:  MATHEMATICAL CALCULATIONS SUGGEST THAT IT IS ON THIS DAY THAT DWARF PLANET PLUTO MOVED INSIDE THE ORBIT OF NEPTUNE FOR THE LAST TIME BEFORE 1979.

Pluto?  Dwarfs?  You get the impression that the universe was invented by Walt Disney.

1740:  JEWS ARE EXPELLED FROM LITTLE RUSSIA.

Gee, if you piss off Little Russia, what's the big country gonna do??  Tamper our elections??

1750:  HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA IS ALMOST COMPLETELY DESTROYED BY FIRE.

Did anybody notice?

1789:  JACQUES NECKER IS DISMISSED AS FRANCE'S FINANCE MINISTER SPARKING THE STORMING OF THE BASTILLE.

Screw the job.  With that name, he must have gotten a lot of girls.

1796:  THE UNITED STATES TAKES POSSESSION OF DETROIT FROM GREAT BRITAIN.

Otherwise Al Kaline would have lived in London.

1798:  THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS IS RE-ESTABLISHED.  THEY HAD BEEN DISBANDED AFTER THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR.

Oh, good, now Gomer has some place to go.

1804:  A DUEL OCCURS IN WHICH VICE PRESIDENT AARON BURR MORTALLY WOUNDS FORMER SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY ALEXANDER HAMILTON.

If only we could solve our Washington DC problems like this now....

1864:  DURING THE CIVIL WAR, CONFEDERATE FORCES ATTEMPT TO INVADE WASHINGTON.

Or there's another way to clean the town out.

1889:  TIJUANA, MEXICO IS FOUNDED.

Just a hop over the border.

1893:  THE FIRST CULTURED PEARL IS OBTAINED BY KOKICHI MIKIMOTO.

Mikimoto.  I have his ears with my name on them.

1895:  THE LUMIERE BROTHERS DEMONSTRATE FILM TECHNOLOGY TO SCIENTISTS.

So this is who we can blame Alec Baldwin on?

1914:  BABE RUTH MAKES HIS MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL DEBUT.

Boston, enjoy him while you can.

1920:  ACTOR YUL BRYNNER IS BORN.

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

1921:  FORMER US PRESIDENT WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT IS SWORN IS AS 10TH CHIEF JUSTICE, BECOMING THE ONLY PERSON TO EVER BE BOTH PRESIDENT AND CHIEF JUSTICE.

Obviously, Mrs. Taft was looking to get this guy out of the house.

1922:  THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL OPENS.

My summer home.

1924:  ACTRESS BRETT SOMERS IS BORN.

Wouldn't you have wanted to be a fly on the wall during one of her marital squabbles with Jack Klugman?

1931:  ACTOR TAB HUNTER IS BORN.

If he had been a girl, his mother was going to call him "Fresca."  Interesting timing on this since he just died last Sunday.

1936:  THE TRIBOROUGH BRIDGE IN NEW YORK CITY IS OPENED TO TRAFFIC.

And immediately loaded up on it for the next 82 years.

1937:  MUSICIAN GEORGE GERSHWIN DIES.

Rhapsody in Black.

1947:  THE EXODUS 1947 HEADS TO PALESTINE FROM FRANCE.

Still looking for a home since Little Russia kicked them out.

1960:  "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" BY HARPER LEE IS FIRST PUBLISHED.

Hey, Boo.....

1962:  THE FIRST GAME OF THE WORLD CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP 1972 BETWEEN BOBBY FISCHER AND DEFENDING CHAMPION BORIS SPASSKY STARTS.

If Boris Spassky was gay and married Art Shamsky, he'd be Boris Spassky Shamsky.

1977:  MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. IS POSTHUMOUSLY AWARDED THE PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF HONOR.

I wonder if this is part of the estate that his kids are fighting over.

1979:  AMERICA'S FIRST SPACE STATION, SKYLAB, IS DESTROYED AS IT RE-ENTERS THE EARTH'S ATMOSPHERE OVER THE INDIAN OCEAN.

What's that up in the sky?  Oh.  OUCH!!!!

1989:  ACTOR LAURENCE OLIVIER DIES.

Wuthering indeed.

2007:  LADY BIRD JOHNSON DIES.

Give her a medal, too, for sleeping with Lyndon.

2006:  209 PEOPLE ARE KILLED IN A SERIES OF BOMB ATTACKS IN MUMBAI, INDIA.

And the city actually looked better after the blasts.

2008:  SURGEON MICHAEL DEBAKEY DIES.

He had some heart.

2010:  YANKEE PUBLIC ADDRESS ANNOUNCER BOB SHEPPARD DIES.

"Ladies and gentlemen, now not living for the Yankees....."

2012:  AUTHOR MARION CUNNINGHAM DIES.

Oh, no, not Mrs. C?!

Dinner last night:  Cold salad plate.