Monday, April 30, 2007

Monday Morning Video Laugh - April 30, 2007

Where would we all be without a video camera at a wedding?

Dinner last night: chicken and grilled vegetables.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

My Personal TV Land Award

TV Land has been broadcasting their annual classic TV awards this week. Have you been exposed to this video virus yet? What they do is pull a lot of Hollywood back numbers into an airplane hangar (seriously, it is an actual hangar at Santa Monica Airport), feed them dinner, and make them sit through such ridiculous presentations as "Series Finale You Hosted a Party to Watch" (the winner was M*A*S*H) and "Fake Product You Want to Buy" (the winner was Vitameatavegamin from I Love Lucy). When you see the event, it looks like one of those autograph and memorabilia conventions they have at a Holiday Inn next to the airport. Where all the attendees are these fat comic book store geeks who are running around with RiteAid shopping bags.

I was good for about 15 minutes of this, until my head started to hurt. I mean how many times can you be subjected to another reunion of the Brady Bunch cast? I swear they get together more than the Presidential Cabinet. I think that, if he hadn't already died from AIDS, Robert Reed would have shot himself by now.

And that brings to mind one of my classic TV encounters.

A few years back, a friend of mine was one of the coordinators of the Hollywood Christmas Parade. He got me to volunteer for the event, and always gave me a plum assignment.

One year, I was stationed at the door of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which always served as the event's green room. Celebrities would gather there for a libation before hopping into their convertibles for the ride down Hollywood Boulevard. My job that year was to greet the celebrities at the door and point them to the green room. Nifty. Not too complicated. Other than this ugly red vest I had to wear, I was in a good place.

So, cars keep pulling up and celebrities spilled out. Don't be impressed. Kevin Eubanks. Rip Taylor. Jane Withers. Not even your D list. I'm thinking that, if they weren't there for the event, they'd be at home watching it on TV with a Stouffer's frozen dinner on their snack tray.

A car pulls up and out comes two heralded TV moms. Marion Ross from Happy Days and Florence Henderson from the Brady Bunch. Why they were carpooling to this was a mystery to me. But, nevertheless, out they popped and they approached the door. Unbeknowst to me, there were three 10 year-old girls standing near me---probably hotel guests. As soon as they saw Mrs. C and Carol Brady, they ran over for autographs.

Marion Ross was a total pro to these kids. Ever gracious, she thanked them for recognizing her and personalized autographs for each of them. Florence did the same, but I could see only the faintest glimmer of a smile.

Now, it was my turn. I held the door open, ready with a smile and a hello for their entrance.

Marion Ross came over first. She wished me a good evening, a Happy Holiday season, and thanked me for holding the door open for her.

Florence Henderson approached next. Once again, I held the door open, ready with a smile and a hello for her.

Flo scowled at me.

"You needed to do a better job keeping those kids away from me."

I was stunned by her brazen nastiness. All I could mutter was a voice-cracking "Excuse me."

"You heard me. We can't get blindsided by autograph hounds when we show up for these things."

I needed to respond somehow. In my most professional manner. I doubted if I would ever work with her, since she really hadn't done anything new since the $100,000 Pyramid in 1985. But, I felt compelled to say something as a semi-representative for the parade.

I responded. "I am sorry, Miss Henderson. I did not see them. And I am sure they are very excited in seeing somebody they have enjoyed on one of their favorite reruns."

She dismissed me with a frown and a wave of her clenched fist.

I secretly hoped that she would choke on her Polident-cleaned dentures. Let's be real here. The woman has parlayed a career out of a crappy TV show that was almost 30 years old. She owes any celebrity to those kids who are, for some bizarre reason, one more generation who is enamored with that pre-teen-targetted sitcom.

She should have smiled and engaged those kids. She should be happy they even bothered. She should have watched how Marion Ross handled the situation.

But, no, I guess. After all, she is Florence Henderson.

So, I'd like to give Florence Henderson my own classic TV award.

Most Beloved TV Mom Who's a Complete Creep in Real Life.

Dinner last night: Chinese buffet at Panda Inn in Glendale.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Shopping Tip of the Day

A couple of days ago, I am in the men's department of Macy's. Waiting on line to pay for a new belt.

A woman of unknown foreign descent is at the sales counter. The only description I can provide is that she is badly dressed and has probably not used a preposition in a sentence for years.

And every item she has on the counter comes with a story.

"This no fit."

"This wrong color."

"Where is manager?"

"This 10% off?"

Lasting peace in the Middle East will be easier.

As she prattled on in barely formed sentences, I started to snap the belt in my hand. At first, I am doing it aimlessly. But, when I notice that the snapping gets her head to turn, I start doing it more. And more. And louder. And louder.

All of a sudden, the problems went the way of Amelia Earhart. She quickly picked up her stuff and ran off. I might as well have yelled for Immigration.

Keep it in mind when you are behind one of these gnomes on line.

But, it only really works if you are buying a belt.

Dinner last night: Chef's salad.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Indirect TV

When I call their automated service and put my home phone number in, the record-o-lady reminds me that I am on their A list---a most valued customer.

I now know what the A stands for. You can find it during any rectal exam.

I have been hooked up with satellite television for a number of years. I was a big fan and used to love their customer service. They couldn't do enough for you. I was such a devotee that, when I moved last year, you may remember that I went major league toe-to-toe and nose-to-nose with the Fourth Reich, more commonly known as my building's condo association. I wanted my Direct TV in my new home and I wanted it bad. Real bad. It was ugly, but I won the battle.

Now flip the calendar pages one year ahead to April, 2007. I finally give in to the urges and drop some coin for a plasma high-def TV. Not one of the screens that are as big as the Elmsford Drive-In. But, something that will make Jack Bauer look really good as he is tazering some Arabs. So, I shuffle the other TVs around the bedrooms and designate the living room as the new Hi-Def Lounge.

Of course, you need to upgrade to a Direct TV High Def receiver. And, of course, the DVR is a necessity. I call my friends there and ask specifically if I need any additional outside wiring because that is verboten per the homeowner association's president, who may be the only Boy from Brazil still unaccounted for. Direct TV tells me no and can we please set up your installation date. Done deal, right?


The plasma is delivered on time and the Direct TV guy shows up an hour later. With the HD DVR, but no corresponding dish. I asked him why he would even bother showing up like that. He answered that he just goes by the work order. Literal to a fault.

The trouble is that Direct TV now outsources all installation jobs. So, there is no real follow-through on customer service. When I voiced my displeasure with this guy, he told me his supervisor would be calling later on Friday.

Maybe it's a Friday next month. No call yet.

And, of course, despite what I specifically asked on the phone, I do need extra outside wiring. A lot of outside wiring. Enough to recreate the barbed wire on the original Berlin Wall. Plus I needed a bigger dish. A much bigger dish. And it has to be mounted to the roof. I can admire it when I am standing up there waiting for my blindfold and final cigarette in front of Adolf Homeowner.

I was told none of this on the phone with Direct TV. And that was before I even bought the plasma. It was now as useless to me as a Philco TV that only picks up the DuMont network.

In the last two days, I have heard even more horror stories about Direct TV's ineptitude. HD DVRs that don't record properly. Messed up bills.

Is this coincidental to the fact that they have been taken over by Fox Corp, a big evil conglomerate? Hmmmm.

So, now I will move forward with Direct TV on the two bedroom TVs and Time Warner HD cable on the plasma.

I just wish there was something on to watch.

Dinner last night: All Beef Super Dodger Dog.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Potpourri for $100, Please, Alex

And the picture above is actually potpourri that is available on-line for much less than $100. Sorry, Alex.

---I had to read this twice in this morning's LA Times Sports section. There is a sports writer by the name of Mike Penner. He has been a beat reporter for the Angels. He's covered tennis and the Olympics---the usual gamut for a staff writer.

But, this morning, he has a column in which he says goodbye to the readers as Mike Penner. After a few weeks, he will return to his job as Christine Daniels. Yep, he's going to complete the transgendering journey. From soup to, pardon the expression, nuts. He writes about how he broke this news to his editor, his colleagues, and his friends. It's actually an amazing story. I can't imagine the amount of courage that will take. I have no idea how I would deal with it if someone I worked with made that choice.

I didn't do so well in my first ever encounter with a transexual. It was eight years ago in the Beverly Hills apartment building we were getting kicked out of because they were upgrading to condos. Other than our next door neighbor Kato Kaelin, we had very little contact with the other tenants, except for silent nods in the elevator. But, as soon as the eviction notices hit, the place turned into Mayberry. Everybody started talking to everybody, exchanging everything from real estate agent names to recipes for fruit compote.

So, during that era of extreme community, I am in the super market one afternoon. I see one of the neighbors that I had always noticed from a distance. She ran over to me, so we could verbally disembowel the landlord one more time. Once she got past that subject, she started talking to me about her job, her dog, her hobbies, etc.

One thing she didn't talk to me about was her Adam's Apple. Which was of apparent obvious interest to me. Because I couldn't stop staring at it. And then I saw the hands. They were huge. A female basketball player, no doubt.

It was an Edith Bunker moment for me.




What the heck did I know? I was from Mount Vernon, New York.

Sad to say I got out of that conversation. Quickly. I made up some sorry excuse prosthetic leg is starting to itch.

I never saw "Nancy" again.

I think I'd do a lot better now.

---In a totally bizarre segueway, I read on the very same page of today's sports page that KFWB, starting with tonight's game, will abandon their delay system when broadcasting Dodger games on the radio. Now, Dodger fans who like to simulcast won't be totally confused for the two innings they are actually in their seats.

Dinner last night: leftover pot roast and potatoes.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dial Flipping

The weekly TV scorecard:

American Idol:

It's really, really hard to make fun of something when it is dedicated to relieving starvation all over the world. This is the "Idol Gives Back" week and the remaining six finalists all sang songs of hope and inspiration. If you're one of the judges, how the heck do you tell somebody their song choice this week sucqued? It's the reason why, after 364 days of avoiding the guy every year, you can't hate Jerry Lewis on Labor Day.

There were way too many phone numbers flashing across the screen last night. And, tonight, I expect to be lots of donations on the crawl below. It will be like the Chabad telethon, except that most of the amounts will be rounded up to the next dollars. You won't see "Lou Goldstein, Tarzana, $123.56."

From what I am hearing and reading from folks who actually attend Idol telecasts in person, the performances sound a lot different in the studio. I thought Blake Lewis' rendition of "Imagine" was pretty darn good. But, the judges thought less so.

I am sorry to say. I now miss Sanjaya. Last night, we didn't have the comedic anticipation we have come to enjoy in recent weeks. There was a letdown. Like when Shemp replaced Curly. Or worse....when Curly Joe DeRita replaced Shemp.

I would have liked to see how Simon Cowell actually got downtown in LA to that food mission. There's not a lot of street parking for limos.

It was interesting to see that Simon and Ryan went to Africa. Randy went to Katrina-torn Louisiana. Paula got as far as a mobile health clinic in Van Nuys.

I still think this competition will be neck-and-neck between Melinda and Jordin. But, I have a feeling that the latter is now the one to beat.

How are they going to do two hours devoted to world hunger with Lakisha sitting right there?


Jack Bauer probably can't wait for this year's day to end. And neither can I. For the first time, I am saying that the show has missed some creative steps this season. I can't put my finger on it. It just doesn't feel right. But they did blow up Valencia, California, so I have to be appreciative of some plot points.

The President has been in and out of a coma twice in one day. Once again, insert Bush joke here.

Larry King:

I ran into this last night. Larry always has his finger on the pulse of America. He dedicated his show to Alec Baldwin. He replayed an interview from last November, where Alec bemoans all the nasty legal barbs he endured from his ex-wife's attorneys. He presented himself as being totally innocent in their marital issues. First of all, fathead, no one is completely blameless in a divorce. But Alec is. He's one of those people we all have in our lives. It's never their fault. It always has to be somebody else's fault.

Larry had one of Alec's brothers live in the studio. I forget which one. The only way you can tell them apart is by their varying police records. Anyway, when Larry pressed him for a reaction to Alec's loving voice mail to his daughter, the brother begged off from responding. "Do you want Alec to kick my ass?" Your honor, the prosecution rests.

Larry looked particularly grumpy. He might have had too much lettuce for dinner. Or he's still smarting over the fact that CNN postponed that week-long tribute to him because of that inconveniently-timed Virginia Tech massacre.

High Definition Local News:

The CBS affiliates here in LA converted to HD this week. This required completely new studios for the local news. Granted I don't have a high-def set yet, but I have to tell you that the screen was so bright, my retinas were probably damaged. The anchorpeople looked like characters on The Simpsons. But, I guess it's really important to see Pacoima's local temperatures in the most technologically advanced way possible.

Rosie O'Donnell:

It was announced this morning that she is leaving the View. Totally spun as being her decision. But, I think not. I know I pledged to be go on a low-Rosie diet, but I have been sneaking looks at her website from time to time. Yesterday's entry had to make its way around ABC top brass, and they finally realized they are harboring a maniac in their studios. It was a video of her sitting in the back of her town car on her way to work. No make-up. Her hair was a mess. And she babbled on for ten minutes about absolutely nothing. The incoherent ramblings of a woman waiting for the medication cart at the asylum. It is amazing to watch. I can't copy it and post it here, because several of the many voices in her head probably told her to make that impossible to do on her website. But, go to and look under the entry for "barbra's birthday."

Dinner last night: Chili's sirloin with mushroom.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Shea Hey

It's happening. It's really, really, really happening.

I had tuned into the Mets' opening day festivities before I left for the Dodger home opener. Beyond the centerfield fence, a landscape, once adorned with chop shops, scrap metal, and Serval Zippers, now features a single huge crane. And I was close. I mean, I thought it could reach down and pick up Carlos Beltran the seats of his uniform pants. It was a huge ugly monstrosity and I thought we had seen the last of those when Mo Vaughn left the Shea Stadium clubhouse buffet table. And then it dawned on me...

In two years, Shea Stadium will be gone. My processing will need to begin. Admittedly, losing Shea will be easier for me now that I spend 75% of my year (both calendar and baseball) in another National League city. But, what will come flooding back to me like the overflowing Raritan River will be memories. Of my childhood. Of Saturday afternoons and nights. Of George Theodore hitting Don Hahn on the warning track like an Acela train would run over a stray cat. Of the girl in Loge, Section 5. Of the dentist and his grandson in the row behind me in Loge, Section 7. The memories will return slowly, and, by August 2008, frequently. It is the last tangible thing still remaining from my childhood. And, unfortunately, even that now has an expiration date.

But, there will be more on that in subsequent days, weeks, and months.

What struck me about the picture shown above is how damn close that new park is. I hear there's literally ten feet separating Shea's outer fence from the construction site. And I am thinking that, as the new place goes up, it's going to seriously impact shadows and wind conditions at Shea. It's a matter of time before David Wright gets a hold of one in Shea and sends it over to Shitty Field, probably forcing some construction workers to drop their bologna sandwiches and scurry for cover. Of course, saying that parking at Shea the next two years will be a nightmare is like saying George Bush has had some bumpy moments in his administration.

The Mets have announced that the old Shea Stadium will not be imploded as they normally do with all those other baseball toilet bowls built during the late 60s and early 70s. (Remember beautiful Veteran's Stadium in Philadelphia?) Instead, they plan to dismantle Shea piece by piece and sell it off to fans. Well, I want to reserve the cement stairway block in Section 1 of the upper deck. It should be easy to remove: the damn thing has been loose for twenty-six years. Somewhere I still have the letter I got from Joan Payson's daughter, Lorinda De Cirque de Soleil, after I complained when I almost broke my neck going for a hot dog.

And, as I wrote in an earlier post, Shea Stadium hot dogs are not something you spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair for.

Dinner last night: my favorite turkey burger at the Cheesecake Factory.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Monday Morning Video Laugh - April 23, 2007

This got a lot of play on Howard Stern's radio show a few years back. He still uses the sound byte of the woman's moans. A classic. What I love best is the two anchors' non-interest in what happened.

Dinner last night: pot roast with potatoes and peas.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

In Happier Times

By now, you have probably heard about Alec Baldwin's voice mail message to his 11 year-old daughter, Ireland. I wasn't at all put off by his rants. They pretty much duplicated what I say to a telemarketer that interrupts my dinner. But, what did surprise me is the public's reaction to this news. Was there a slight tinge of surprise? Hello, McFly?? I can swear I saw Kim Basinger in Staples buying file cabinets just to save all the temporary restraining orders she's had against this slug. He obviously never watched Robert Young deal with Kitten on "Father Knows Best."

Now, I actually know several women who think this guy is the bee's knees. I have heard him described in terms that sounds like they came from the Vermont Teddy Bear catalog. Lovable. Such a cutey. Huggable.


How many inappropriate displays of violence do you need to complete your correct assessment of his personality?

Haven't we heard of actresses who have reportedly feared taking the stage with him?

Are we not all too familiar with the exact dimensions of the formerly Baldwin-Basinger driveway that is always photographed with him slamming a fence in her face?

What is it not last October that I saw video of him screaming at a NYC firefighter who would not let him cross a street because he would be walking into an area of a burning skycraper apartment that was the final resting place of Cory Lidle's airplane?

Now, usually I can dissociate my creep-o- meter from someone's acting abilities. And, actually, I remember liking what he did 23 years ago during the season he was on "Knots Landing" as a demented Evangelistic minister (Is there any other kind?) But, if you take a closer look at the film roles he's had, you'll realize that he is not that good an actor. Because, indeed, he's not stretching himself that much. Go ahead, do the IMDb thing. In every single movie, he's either playing a tough guy, a philander, or some other pillar of the community. And, don't drag up "Thomas the Tank Engine" because he was only the narrator of that cartoon. And don't tell me what a fantastic comedic talent he is. Nobody but the newspaper critics watches that "30 Rock" thing. A comedy show that is not funny about another comedy show that is no longer funny. Double negatives, your table for four is waiting.

So, Oscar nom not withstanding, all the work he gets (and he does about 3 films a week) really is not all that impressive. He's not reaching too far into his soul for motivation.

Nope, I have never been a fan. Oddly enough, he's the bright spot of the family---that jail cell better known as the Baldwin Brothers.

If he's still considering a move to Canada, he should focus on Vancouver. At least, he'll be in the same time zone as his daughter and they won't have all those phone mishaps again.

Dinner last night: free chicken wings at Hooters. How? Dodger promotion: if the they score ten or more runs. your ticket stub gets them free within 48 hours.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

First Hillary Clinton Campaign Poster

Enough said. Any credibility this guy had is gone.

Letters, We Get Letters, We Get Tons and Tons of Letters

Since I started this blogging nonsense, I have heard from many of you with comments on things I have written. Mucho appreciated. Some of you have used the comments feature on the blog. Most ohave gone the old fashioned routine of e-mail. Nobody has sent me a letter via the Post Office. First class stamps are going up to 41 cents next month. Nobody is worth that.

Some of your comments are worth re-commenting on. Let's touch on a few:

---A few of you wrote with dismay regarding my Baseball 2007 preview. How could I possibly root for the Dodgers since I had been a life-long Met fan? Well, read the title of this blog, Spunky. "Musings from a Bi-coastal Existence." I live on two coasts. I can easily root for both teams. Is there a rule written someplace that I can't? Some of the same people that posed that very query to me are the most notorious band wagon jumpers. "OMG, Glavine just walked somebody in the first inning. I am so done with this team." You know who you are. I am watching you.

---A couple of folks from the NY area mentioned they tried, only to discover that there are apparently no sex offenders in the NYC metropolitan area. Don't be so smug. They are there. I know one who lives down the hall in my Westchester residence. Indeed, the lack of NY-based perverts is probably more a result of the fact that they are making court records public. Now, what would you prefer? Knowing where they live...or be completely clueless about what's going through the mind of that guy next door innocently watering down his lawn. I still think it's an important website. If I was a Jehovah's Witness, I'd be checking it every Sunday before I head out with my latest edition of "Awake."

---One person told me that it was time to get off Rosie. Thinking about that in the most literal sense, I will do so gladly.

---One early opinion is that I apparently eat much better on the West Coast than I do on the East Coast. That is obvious to me. Here, I have a sous chef on staff---better known as my roommate. In NY, I have the Food Emporium's hot food counter.

---Thanks to all who comforted me regarding the news that Valerie Bertinelli is no longer on the market. I am still processing and taking it one day at a time.

---The post that sparked the most comments (pro and con) was my Good Friday piece on growing up Protestant in a Catholic neighborhood. I had one person tell me that he experienced the flip side of my dilemma. He went to a Catholic school, but had a best friend who was a Protestant. All of a sudden, he realized that his friend was going to hell, and that this was a shame because he was such a nice guy. So, I know I wasn't making it all up. But, I know that this was just a product of the times. In a lot of respects, we have all progressed so much further since then.

I'd like to clarify that I was not intimating that a Catholic school upbringing was what spurred my neighbor Monte to become a nutso koo-koo mountainman who has weeds all over his front yard. Monte's ultimate end result was probably more a product of acute family dysfunction. If I recall, his father drank. (I remember one night where he staggered into a backyard shack with a lit cigarette and almost burned down half the neighborhood). His mother was Jewish and two of his brothers wound up as born again Christians. I think the fourth brother went into dry cleaning, so he probably wound up with a benzene addiction. Who knows? The bottom line is that Monte was destined to be pretty fragmented with or without that goofy Catholic school workbook.

When I look at the group of people in my life, I realize that I run the gamut, religion-wise. Protestants, Jews, Catholics, born-again Christians, Atheists. And I know Protestants who have become Jewish, Catholics who have become Protestants and vice versa, and virtually every possible Rubix's Cube combination of the above. At least, people are looking, examining, and thinking.

At my church in LA, we had thirty people for Easter Sunday service. That is pitiful. But, at the same time, in any given week, there are over 500 hundred people filtering through the church premises as it provides the locale for AA and Al-anon meetings, yoga classes, spirituality music forums for the homeless, acting classes for kids with special needs, the local Cub Scouts, and karate matches. So, folks, while not worshipping per se, are clearly looking for answers. That's probably because the world asks so many questions.

So, Monte's nuns were wrong. Catholicism is not the one true religion. Neither is fundamentalism or Judaism or Lutheran or any other sect that can take out an ad in the Yellow Pages. So, what is the one true religion? It's mine. And it's yours. It's whatever grounds you and makes you take a regular daily examination of how you lead your life. Religion is personal in nature. Because it deals with your heart and your soul...which resides only in you.

Dinner last night: All Beef Super Dodger Dog and Fries

Friday, April 20, 2007

How to Confuse a Baseball Fan 101

The retro transistor radio shown above has been a staple at Dodger Stadium since 1962. Indeed, when the franchise first moved west, SoCal fans, unfamiliar with the players on the team, depended upon the radio play-by-play of Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett for their daily indoctrination.

I have heard that, in the early days of Chavez Ravine, there were so many transistor radios during a Dodger game that it seemed like the radio broadcasts were piped in over the loud speakers. Of course, this was the pre-head phone or ear piece generation.

I still see people tuned into the broadcasts even today. But, there has been a complication, sports fans. You see, Dodger games are currently being broadcast on KFWB, which is one of the two all-news stations in the market. Both of those radio outlets are owned by CBS, which has imposed a stipulation that all such formatted stations must now impose at least a seven second delay on all live broadcasts. This is all a by-product of the paranoia that started when Janet Jackson's buttons didn't work correctly during the Super Bowl a few years back.

Of course, this delay presents a huge problem for Dodger fans listening on their radios while at the ballpark. One guy near me on Sunday had the radio up loud and the radio transmission was at least 10 seconds behind. It might have been more. I can swear I heard Vin Scully say "two and two to Harvey Kuenn" as if it was September, 1965. I saw most of the fans around me give up on the radios within two innings. If you check e-Bay today, you can probably score a good deal on one of them.

Now it's really important for Dodger games to be featuring a ten second delay. Just in case Vin Scully is going to say something totally inappropriate about Rachel Robinson's breasts.

K F W Bonehead.

<Dinner last night: chef's salad.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehn, Good Night

America's long nightmare is over. Two days after parents all across America had to sit down with their children and help them confront their fears about stepping into a school room, they have to comfort them all over again. I wish I didn't have to equate the two diametrically opposed events, but this turkey's ouster was the lead story on my 10PM news last night---ahead of those chilling home movies from that creep who shot up a campus. What does that say? Nevertheless, I am thrilled that this morning, I can finally say...

Sanjaya, we are pre-boarding your row.

I cannot really get a handle on this kid. Originally, I thought he didn't get the joke, like the kid in school with the clip-on tie and pocket pen protector who thinks he's hot. Then, a few weeks ago, I was convinced he was in on the gag. Like some practical joker who is giggling in the bushes while people bend over to pick up a wallet that he's attached a string to. Hee hee hee hee. But, then, I heard him on Seacrest's radio show this AM and he sounded....gulp, normal. Just a 17-year-old high school kid who probably should have stuck to trig.

Whatever the case, he is toast, pass the butter. Now, they can get down to the business of continuing with a singing competition, where four of the final six finalists actually have the chance of me buying their first CDs.

If you watched the results show last night, you will note that there were a groundswell of cheers in the studio when he was shown the door. For a moment, I thought they were all listening to the Laker game. But, obviously, people were clearly now tired of the joke. So, despite all the nonsense about teenage girls being fixated, Howard Stern prattling on and on, and that computer geek with the "Vote for the Worst" website, the vote finally got it right. The kid couldn't sing and he never got better. Done. Period. Exclamation point. The meat's cooked. Let's make gravy.

When it was him and Lakisha standing as the final two, I could swear she was reaching behind her back for some numchucks to hit him upside his head. If she had gone home, I think we would have seen a fight worthy of the longest line in the DMV.

Now that would have been great television.

Dinner last night: sandwich and salad.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Because We All Need a Little Diversion....

let's talk about what's been on television the past few days. And I don't mean the news. Spoilers are found below. That's your warning in case you have TiVoed any of these.


Okay, America, the Sanjaya joke has to be over. What the hell was that on his head last night? My grandmother used to wear something like that when she beat the rugs in the yard. Or maybe he's the guy that squeegies your windshield at the entrance to the freeway. Vocally, it was a toilet in a dive bar at 3AM. There were dogs barking all over my neighborhood. Let's face it, if Sanjaya were on 24, he would have been written out weeks ago. Actually, the outfit he was wearing looked like something from another FOX show---Prison Break. No, really, he could easily fit on that show. You know, the weasly little convict who is befriended and "protected" by the big hulking wife beater. FOX, if you want to keep this chucklehead around...

Simon regrouped pretty quickly with those heartfelt words about Virginia Tech. I guess the producers (and everyone else in America) noticed him rolling his eyes when Chris Richardson mentioned VT after his rather poor performance. I'm pretty sure Simon was reacting more to the fact that Chris said he is actually trying to sound nasal every week. Oh, I get it now. You want to sound like you have a deviated septum. Actually, he has gotten worse each week. Last night, he sounded like Ernestine the phone operator.

Patricia Wettig scored the nice "on-camera every time they showed the judges" seat this week.

Phil Stacey actually was quite good this week. He's probably most suited to that country music genre. And that bald serial killer look of his would go virtually unnoticed in the middle of the country.

Something is telling me this might be Lakisha's week for American Tourister. I am convinced Americans are keeping Sanjaya around simply to give them all plenty of fresh costume ideas for next Halloween.


Doesn't that Cheng guy talk and look like the evil Chinese puppet from Team America?

Okay, Jack, so you are jeopardizing the safety of the entire country so you can get your girlfriend back. Why don't you just go the route like everybody else?

President Palmer blabbering through a press conference and sounding incoherent? Insert Bush joke here.

Ricky Schroder chained to a link fence? He's probably wondering.....where is Erin Gray now that I need her?

Apparently, President and Martha Logan have falled into the same unexplained plothole that befell the Russians in the "Pine Barrens" episode of The Sopranos. And, speaking of which.....


The first two episodes have been just okay. Does Sydney Pollack now do guest shots on every single TV show? And Bogdanovich shows up as well. Where did they film Sunday's episode? At a DGA meeting?

They're obviously setting up for the ending. But, just what is it? Everybody keeps talking about who will get whacked at the end. I really wish people would realize that this is a show about family and relationships first...and gangstering second. I have said this from the beginning. The ending will tie into their last name. Soprano. Singing. Witness protection. If I am right, this blog will get unbearable.

I really miss it when there is no scene between Tony and Melfi. I find that dynamic riveting and they have not used Lorraine Bracco enough the past two years.

It took me about fifteen minutes to get back into it during the premiere episode. The wait between seasons is too darn long. Was this the first episode to be produced during the Bush administration?

If you think the fit will hit the shan when Carmella finds out Adrianna was bumped off, wait till she finds out that she wound up on the Joey sitcom for two years.


I've been catching up to this show via TiVo. And is it me or has this show become one flatulence or sex joke after another? If I am the parent of that kid who plays Jake, I am worrying about the education this kid is getting on the set. If I'm Martin Sheen, I am worrying the education my son is getting this kid.

Dinner last night: honey baked ham with broccoli salad.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

John Edwards Meets Paul Mitchell

And, of course, this sums up an American politician.

I have to tell you that I've always had this eerie feeling about this guy. Especially, with his most recent responses to his wife's medical issues.

Now, we're hearing about 400 dollar haircuts and a very obvious obsession to his appearance.

If he only spent this much time on the real problems facing our country.


Twice In a Lifetime

I can remember this picture. I never thought I would see the likes of it again.

You really can't compare yesterday's events at Virginia Tech to what happened in 1970 at Kent State. The latter was a clusterf&^k that could have easily been avoided with a lot of patience, understanding, and, perish the thought, some respectful dialogue.

None of that could have stopped the carnage at Virginia Tech. A lunatic with a rifle has no reason. Perhaps, his family members will rationalize that they could have seen more, done more, and said more. Even that would have made little difference. Like an earthquake, you cannot really predict when a mind snaps.

There are no answers to madness. But, over the next few days and weeks, we will have the requisite hand wringing of those who specialize in...hand wringing. There will be efforts to find blame and fault. There was no security. There was no communication. There was no this. There should have been more that.

Our Presidential hopefuls will contribute with statements written hastily by their assistants in limousines or between fundraising dinners. We will hear over and over that this should not happen in America. Our youth should be able to walk across a campus quad without fear that a bullet will prevent them from going to Ethics class. And these remarks will all be dead on accurate.

But, moving forward, while you cannot really prevent madness, our political leaders AKA "chuckleheads" can certainly try to work together in unison to create a climate where we can feel safe when we leave our homes every morning to go about our business. Instead of worrying about how to get elected or re-elected, how about spending some time in that gray area of moderation which allows for open constructive dialogue on issues that are pulling at the threads of our national fabric? Gun control. Immigration. Poverty. It's clear that Red Vs. Blue, Liberal vs. Conservative, Republican vs. Democrat has gotten us nowhere fast.

That is the one and only type of madness that they can do something about.

Dinner last night: grilled bratwurst with carrots and stewed tomatoes.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Monday Morning Video Laugh - April 16, 2007

I have no idea where this is. Could be a courtroom lobby. Maybe a hospital hallway. But aren't you dying to hear the backstory?

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.

Dinner last night: Dodger Dog with french fries at the game.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


I wish I had the ability to write more about the passing of Don Ho, but I don't want Al Sharpton on my ass.

Jackie Robinson Day 2007

Today marks the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's entry into the major leagues in 1947. Major League Baseball is hosting a variety of celebrations today. The primary one is here in Los Angeles. I will be attending. There will be many words of salute. Jennifer Hudson is singing the National Anthem. Pitcher Brett Tomko has drawn a charcoal poster of Jackie, which all fans will receive. All the Dodgers will be wearing the number 42. It's a good thing they put the names back on the jerseys this year, or most of the fans will be lost. And, I hear that, at the conclusion of the game, the entire Dodger roster will be traded to the Giants and then refuse to report. Indeed, the Dodgers will always be home on April 15. They petitioned for this right several years ago. Regardless of the fact that Robinson's exploits happened 3000 miles to the northeast, this is the franchise that was his home in the city that was his birthplace.

It's sad that this day this year caps off a rather bizarre week of media frenzy caused by the Imus controversy. Indeed, Jackie should not be sharing the spotlight this week with folks like Reverend Al and Reverend Jesse, who are not even worthy to hold his dirty socks.

I'd like to imagine what Robinson's baseball debut would be like in today's media-heavy climate. First of all, ESPN would be heralding it with a week-long series of specials....a Countdown to Jackie. Fatso and Fruit Loops on WFAN would be traveling to the stadium to host a three hour pre-game show. Who knows how many corporate sponsors would be tying into the event?

"Remember, folks, Jackie will be there in time courtesy of DHL."

"Jackie Robinson, this Bud's for you."

"Hey, Jackie Robinson, you've just played your first major league game. What are you going to do now? Jackie: I'm going to Disney World."

Back in 1947, there was none of that nonsense. You probably only had the radio play-by-play....maybe. There were newsreels of the event, but I'm guessing that there are some fans who showed up that day and had no idea what momentous thing would be happening. And they would see Jackie, in his resolute quietness, get down to the business of being a major league baseball player.

Yes, he would endure the harsh words of fans who preferred their baseball players to be as white as their home uniforms. And segregated hotels on long road trips. And the slow acceptance of his teammates, who ultimately would follow the lead of their team captain, staunch Southerner Pee Wee Reese. But, throughout it all, Jackie did this thing. Quietly. Professionally. Magnificently.

And agenda-less.

A note of all this should be taken by the Sharptons and Jacksons of our world, who take their mis-guided approachs to even more mis-guided extremes. The double and triple standards that are rationalized with the ridiculous notion that gangsta rappers can pervade our youth with the same vile expressions voiced by Don Imus because they need to express their creativity. Baloney! They are just as accountable as anybody else.

And while Sharpton and company are making too much noise, other prominent African-Americans are making too little. Just like the liberal guests who continually embraced the morning soap box that Imus willfully accorded them, and have subsequently abandoned him in steely silence, so, too, are the truly worthy African-American leaders who probably cringe at Reverend Al's antics, but say nothing. Where is Oprah? Where is Obama? Yes, he made the customary press release comment condemning Imus. But, at the same time, you don't have to use a major Internet search engine to find photos of him running around with rappers like Ludacris.

The silence from them is nothing like the quiet resolve of Jackie Robinson. Because he got things done they cannot even hope to achieve in their lifetimes.

Jackie, this Bud is truly for you.

Dinner last night: Monte Cristo sandwich at the local diner.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Dodger Dog

If you read the ingredients of any package of Farmer John franks available in SoCal supermarkets, you'd probably reserve now for your colonoscopy.

But, indeed, there is no better marriage of the senses than this: a baseball game at Dodger Stadium on a warm night with a scorebook on your lap and a Dodger Dog in your hand. Of course, those of you around the country can substitute your team's frankfurter concoction and favorite baseball arena. It will certainly serve the purpose.

Yet, nothing works as well as the Dodger Stadium edition of this sensual carnival.

Sure, I had eaten hot dogs before at ballparks. The Shea variety was never anything special. A Kahn's all beef hot dog. If you were lucky, there would be squirt bottles of mustard. For a while, they gave out those little packages of relish and onions, which generally wound up adorning me instead of the wiener.

So, imagine my surprise when I learned how much better these suckers can be in Chavez Ravine. First off, depending upon the concession stand you visit, you get them steamed or grilled. (Always go for the latter and the all Beef Super Dodger Dog). Then, you pick your treat up and head over to the CONDIMENT TABLE. Yes, folks, fresh condiments. Trays of relish and onions that are regularly replenished. Slather it all on with mustard and ketchup.

Yes, New Yorkers, mustard and ketchup. You heard me. Don't scrunch your face like that at me. Ketchup does work on a hot dog. I know. I thought it was satanic, too, when I lived in NY. But, on one of my first Dodger games here, I saw some friends do it. You put mustard on one side of the dog. Then you lace some ketchup on the other side. It results in a flavor that I can't describe. Especially with the FRESH CONDIMENTS.

Okay, I am only good for one of these per game. And if you top it off with the GARLIC FRIES, you are at St. Peter's Gate.

You want to know how good these freakin' things are. Look at these stats which I found on the Wikipedia entry for "Dodger Dogs." (Yep, they are that famous) The source is the Hot Dog and Sausage Council. Yes, there is apparently such a thing.

An average of 862,702 hot dogs are eaten per ballpark in 2004. top 10 hot dog eating ballparks in the 2004 season, with number of dogs eaten:
1. Dodger Stadium 1.61 million
2. Coors Field 1.5 million
3. Wrigley Field 1.47 million
4. Yankee Stadium 1.3 million
5. Minute Maid Park 1.2 million
6. Angel Stadium 1.1 million
7. Ameriquest Field 996,000
8. Metrodome 883,500
9. Jacobs Field 595,000
10. Camden Yards 400,000

I was surprised to see that Yankee Stadium was so high. The last time I was in that urinal, the hot dog was worse than the ones at Shea. It was like eating pink chalk. I took two bites and stuffed the rest of it into the handbag of some Yankee fan sitting in front of me.

I hear Shea creeped into the Top 10 in 2005, but they could do so much better in Flushing if only they had FRESH CONDIMENTS!

Dinner last night: I was at the Dodger 9-1 win over the Padres, so my dinner was....................................not a Dodger Dog. Last night, I opted for a grilled bratwurst decorated with the aformentioned FRESH CONDIMENTS. Dee-lish.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Best Viewpoint on the Imus Fiasco

This is from sports columnist Jason Whitlock of the KC Star. To me, it is the best summation of the Imus situation.

Imus isn’t the real bad guy
Instead of wasting time on irrelevant shock jock, black leaders need to be fighting a growing gangster culture.
Thank you, Don Imus. You’ve given us (black people) an excuse to avoid our real problem.
You’ve given Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson another opportunity to pretend that the old fight, which is now the safe and lucrative fight, is still the most important fight in our push for true economic and social equality.
You’ve given Vivian Stringer and Rutgers the chance to hold a nationally televised recruiting celebration expertly disguised as a news conference to respond to your poor attempt at humor.
Thank you, Don Imus. You extended Black History Month to April, and we can once again wallow in victimhood, protest like it’s 1965 and delude ourselves into believing that fixing your hatred is more necessary than eradicating our self-hatred.
The bigots win again.
While we’re fixated on a bad joke cracked by an irrelevant, bad shock jock, I’m sure at least one of the marvelous young women on the Rutgers basketball team is somewhere snapping her fingers to the beat of 50 Cent’s or Snoop Dogg’s or Young Jeezy’s latest ode glorifying nappy-headed pimps and hos.
I ain’t saying Jesse, Al and Vivian are gold-diggas, but they don’t have the heart to mount a legitimate campaign against the real black-folk killas.
It is us. At this time, we are our own worst enemies. We have allowed our youths to buy into a culture (hip hop) that has been perverted, corrupted and overtaken by prison culture. The music, attitude and behavior expressed in this culture is anti-black, anti-education, demeaning, self-destructive, pro-drug dealing and violent.
Rather than confront this heinous enemy from within, we sit back and wait for someone like Imus to have a slip of the tongue and make the mistake of repeating the things we say about ourselves.
It’s embarrassing. Dave Chappelle was offered $50 million to make racially insensitive jokes about black and white people on TV. He was hailed as a genius. Black comedians routinely crack jokes about white and black people, and we all laugh out loud.
I’m no Don Imus apologist. He and his tiny companion Mike Lupica blasted me after I fell out with ESPN. Imus is a hack.
But, in my view, he didn’t do anything outside the norm for shock jocks and comedians. He also offered an apology. That should’ve been the end of this whole affair. Instead, it’s only the beginning. It’s an opportunity for Stringer, Jackson and Sharpton to step on victim platforms and elevate themselves and their agenda$.
I watched the Rutgers news conference and was ashamed.
Martin Luther King Jr. spoke for eight minutes in 1963 at the March on Washington. At the time, black people could be lynched and denied fundamental rights with little thought. With the comments of a talk-show host most of her players had never heard of before last week serving as her excuse, Vivian Stringer rambled on for 30 minutes about the amazing season her team had.
Somehow, we’re supposed to believe that the comments of a man with virtually no connection to the sports world ruined Rutgers’ wonderful season. Had a broadcaster with credibility and a platform in the sports world uttered the words Imus did, I could understand a level of outrage.
But an hourlong press conference over a man who has already apologized, already been suspended and is already insignificant is just plain intellectually dishonest. This is opportunism. This is a distraction.
In the grand scheme, Don Imus is no threat to us in general and no threat to black women in particular. If his words are so powerful and so destructive and must be rebuked so forcefully, then what should we do about the idiot rappers on BET, MTV and every black-owned radio station in the country who use words much more powerful and much more destructive?
I don’t listen or watch Imus’ show regularly. Has he at any point glorified selling crack cocaine to black women? Has he celebrated black men shooting each other randomly? Has he suggested in any way that it’s cool to be a baby-daddy rather than a husband and a parent? Does he tell his listeners that they’re suckers for pursuing education and that they’re selling out their race if they do?
When Imus does any of that, call me and I’ll get upset. Until then, he is what he is — a washed-up shock jock who is very easy to ignore when you’re not looking to be made a victim.
No. We all know where the real battleground is. We know that the gangsta rappers and their followers in the athletic world have far bigger platforms to negatively define us than some old white man with a bad radio show. There’s no money and lots of danger in that battle, so Jesse and Al are going to sit it out.

Dancing with the Former C-List Stars

I don't necessarily get sucqued into every hot TV show. I watched two episodes of "The Office" and realized that the writers have no idea what goes on in a real office. Because most of it would not make it to television. I don't know what "Heroes" is or are. I have never really CSI-ed. I am not a Survivor.

But I was curious about the attention given to "Dancing With The Stars." I actually know people who have been captivated by this. They encouraged me to try it. It's just like "American Idol" they said. And, after all, I like that venue.

So, a few weeks ago, I popped in for a half-hour. I couldn't wait to pop out.

First off, I used to like host Tom Bergeron. I thought he did a darn good job years back navigating through the "Hollywood Non-Star Squares." Martin Mull to block, please, Tom. And I have to admit there has been the occasional peak at "America's Funniest Home Videos." On that program, I started to notice a bit of a smugness coming over him as he guided us through the hilarious antics of brides setting themselves on fire.

Well, on "DWTS", (as they call it in the biz), he is working with a caliber of celebrity several rungs down from the Squares. And, to compensate, his mugging and pandering to the audience hits levels that have not been achieved since Milton Berle used to walk on his ankles in the 50s. He wants to make sure you get the joke and virtually tazers us to laugh along with him.

But, that's not the worst part of this televised gas leak. These contestants are not stars. They barely were at one time. Now, any celebrity out here who is just about to submit an employment application to Best Buy clamors to get onto this mess for one last gasp of the rarified airs of stardom. How can I get invested in whether Leeza Gibbons gets through a polka without her face lift coming apart mid two-step? Unlike a lot of people, I really don't care to see how far Heather Mills can go without her leg falling off? These folks are hanging onto careers with their finger nails.

You can't compare this with Idol. Those contestants, at least, (save for Punjab) have the spectre of future music. Regardless of whether they will make great inroads in the pop world, you know that the last three or four finalists wind up with record deals. You can't argue with the success of Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. Heck, even I bought that Elliott Yamin album.

But, there's no real future for any of these DWTS contestants. Are you really going to pay to go see Ian Ziering do the samba someplace? It's the last gas station before the success highway ends for most of these folks. They don't even have the Hollywood Squares to fall back on anymore.

Nope, I'm not watching this again.

Unless, of course, they sign up Imus next season.

Dinner last night: homemade fried chicken.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

This Week's Product Endorsement

It's allergy season on both coasts. I am sure NY is now starting to hear about pollen counts courtesy of Long Island Jewish Hospital (How did they get to be the official arbitrator for pollen??)

As for me, I have had sinus issues for as long as I can remember. My mother used to let teethe on Dristan tablets. She suffered as well. I remember once she took one of those Allerest pills with a can of Coke. Not an effective mix. She might as well have been Judy Garland downing a bottle of Blue Nun.

When I lived in NY, sinus infections used to birddog me about three or four times a year. You'd be cooped up in the winter breathing in all that radiator heat...or in an office with a bunch of people who never covered their mouths.....ever. Plus I was probably allergic to a bunch of junk in the air---which, in NY, is redundant.

So, moving to LA with that famous brown layer of ozone which descends frequently on the San Fernando Valley, you would think that my sinuses would work about as well as a leper in a touch therapy group. Not so. Early on, I discovered that what I was allergic to in NY is not necessarily the same here. They apparently manufacture a completely different brand of pollen here, probably in some factory up in Oxnard. And sinus infections became much less frequent.

But, that is not to say that clogged sinuses and the subsequent headaches disappeared completely. Of course, 90 plus cross-continental airplane trips over the past nine years have rendered my sinus cavities as confused. "Hey, right side, where the hell are we now?"

My ENT here has been quite good and I wound up on a virtually steady diet of Allegra, Zyrtec, Flonase, and Rhinocort or some combination thereof.

The ultimate by-product of over-medicating my sinuses? Well, about a year and a half ago, I wound up with a condition called dysosmia. From time to time, I experience major lapses in my ability to taste and smell correctly. Somebody told me that this must sucque. It does. The same person asked whether I can discern if food is bad in a restaurant. I tell them this is not an issue: I don't go to those restaurants.

My ENT had me go to a specialist to confirm diagnosis. The cause: over-drying of sinus cavities. The prognosis: it may go away or it may not. The treatment: I cannot take any form of medicated sinus medicine or sprays. I spent two days tossing medicine bottles out of my bathroom. It was like I just got out of Betty Ford.

How do I deal with sinus issues now? Well, I am a saline junkie. I am allowed to shoot anything up my nose that is simply salt water. It's a great healer----you know how better you feel when you are breathing ocean air.

And I essentially rinse my sinuses once a day with this terrific mixture:

I do it every morning. You mix one packet (essentially salt) in this bottle of warm water. Then you hang over the sink and essentially pop it up each nostril. The water goes up one nostril and comes out the other. And you should see what drains out. I saw junk I inhaled in 1994. It's sort of like when Richard Dreyfuss cuts open the shark in "Jaws." Everything but a Florida license plate. Now, you probably could mix this stuff yourself, but I like the fact that the packets are pre-mixed for you. Keep in mind that if the water isn't running out the other nostril, you are either not doing it right.....or you have, at some point, ingested a basketball.

I've used this rinse for over a year now. No sinus infections. If I do get a sinus headache that is unmanageable, I am allowed half of one Allegra pill. But, that happens rarely.

And, if you are also one who wakes up all clogged, you are breathing dust while you sleep. So, I suggest you get one of these:

They are a little pricey, but worth the investment. When you clean out the filter once a month, you will be so astounded how much dust it has absorbed. You will want to immediately bitch-slap your housekeeper.

Gee, I hope Al Sharpton doesn't read this.

Dinner last night: a friend's birthday dinner at Bistro Garden-Coldwater. I had a huge pork chop, but really loved the retro shrimp cocktail I had as an appetizer.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Odds and Ends for One Hundred, Alex

A Wednesday mixed bag....

---On the right you see an aerial photo of Dodger Stadium. In the upper right hand corner, you can see the famous Union 76 gas station. It has been there since the park opened in 1962. The service station has achieved landmark status. Why is this important to note today? Well, reportedly due to the new parking set-up at Chavez Ravine (which has resulted in verbal hari-kari here in the newspapers----LA Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke and I traded e-mails about this all day on Tuesday), the Union 76 (formerly Philips 76) gas station may have to close as drivers won't be able to access it. It should be perserved, so this is one more reason for the Dodger parking genius to be hung in effigy outside of Frank McCourt's house. Of course, the gas there is much pricier, probably around 10 bucks a gallon. Maybe we can show our support by stopping there for air, water, or a Diet Snapple.

---I have had KIIS-FM on for the past two hours and I have already heard the words "bitch" and "ho" several times. But, I'm not listening to an Imus rerun---it's Ryan Seacrest's morning show and the words are generally found in lyrics of some of our more popular chartbusters. Let's be consistent, folks. Yes, Imus is a dirtbag and always has been. I have heard countless stories of his rudeness to employees, clients, etc.. If this gets him off the air forever, praise the Lord. For corn's sake, the guy is 111. At the same time, let's not maintain double standards.

---If Dave Chapelle makes that same comment about the Rutgers basketball team, I am betting the team members would be so honored they'd post it on You Tube.

---I just saw an African American here lose some change trying to get a granola bar out of the vending machine. I guess we'll see Al Sharpton here in about an hour.

---I have belts wider than some of Haley Scarnato's skirts.

---The Latin thing on Idol did not work. I felt like I was having trouble sleeping in some Tijuana motel and the late night TV there ran a commercial for a CD collection of the 80s. And I heard those songs---one after another.

---Beyond coaching them musically, I wonder if Jennifer Lopez also instructed the Idol finalists in how to verbally abuse your assistants. And also how to spread a room for germs before you enter.

---Sanjaya's costume this week was muted, but he looked like a drug pusher who had gotten beaten up in the movie "Traffic."

---Does he take his eye off the camera.....ever? He followed it the same way you had to follow an optometrist's finger during an eye exam.

---This week, Phil Stacey resembled a Bowery Boy. Huntz Hall Sings Santana.

---Lakisha, honey, those dresses comes with labels that tell you the sizes. Check 'em out.

---So, big surprise on 24, heh? Audrey is alive. So, we end one plot to finish up the season with another. This year, the show should be called "17" and "7".

Dinner last night: French Dip at Bandera.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

For Those in NY Who Remember....

Granted I wasn't around in 1952 for this. But, I certainly remember Radio City Music Hall and its holiday stage shows. Going on the D train and buying your theater tickets in the subway station and heading right up to the theater lobby.

NYC no longer has any special movie palaces. Shame, shame.

P.S. They're still here in LA.

The Opening Day Fan

The glory of opening another season of baseball attendance, at least for this humble fan, is always tempered by the people around me. Beyond the bunting, pomp, circumstance, Navy Seal fly-ins, Air Force flyovers, and some unknown but "rising" recording artist stumbling his or her way through the National Anthem, there is one phenomena that always ruins this annual event for me. It's happened before. On both coasts. At Shea Stadium. And, yesterday, at Dodger Stadium.

It's called the Opening Day Fan. Obviously not exclusive to one coast. This person takes what should be a glorious day and turns into it either a homocidal or suicidal moment---depending upon which direction I want to take it.

The Opening Day Fan is not a baseball fan. He probably thinks that Andre Ethier is some French guy who invented anesthesia. He shows up once a year because, well, he can. He probably got tickets from his boss or his neighbor. He could care less about the game. He just wants to go because....well, like all lemings, everybody else is.

He doesn't know how to drive around the parking lot. (This was aggravated yesterday by the newly-reconstructed parking setup at Dodger Stadium, which was as well thought out as giving Stevie Wonder a plasma HDTV for Christmas.) He has no clue where he is. He stands on the concession line and then, once at the counter, doesn't know what to order. It's a baseball stadium, for Pete's sake. Don't canvas the menu looking for Mahi-Mahi!

And, yesterday, this guy was sitting behind me. He was with this woman who had to be his wife, since no other person would stay with him without the prospect of community property. All he did was talk. And talk. And talk. And talk. Not about baseball. They prattled on about anything but. The Sopranos premiere episode. Princess Cruises to Alaska. Wicked at the Pantages. Twelve Angry Men at the Ahmanson. Clinton vs. Obama. American Idol. 24. The price of tuition at UCLA. At one point, I wanted to turn around and ask if the sound of a Jason Schmidt 86 mph fastball hitting Russell Martin's glove was disturbing them.

And he ate peanuts. The shells wound up everywhere but in front of him. The aisle. One section over. My tote bag. Down my back. I felt like a buffet table at the elephant exhibit in the LA Zoo.

Oh, yes, they discussed baseball once. When Schmidt pulled a calf muscle and had to come out of the game in the fifth inning, he explained to his wife that reliever Mark Hendrickson had unlimited time to warm up as a result of the injury. Except his wife apparently didn't grasp this concept fully. Maybe she was too busy trying to decide what night to order tickets for Jersey Boys when it hits LA in July. He explained this baseball rule not once, not twice, but six times.

Around the seventh inning, he announced that, regardless of the score, they would stay to the end of the game. My head sank to my chest. I wondered if the concession stand had poison available. In a souvenir cup.

Of course, they left in the eighth. I think they saw the standing ovation I gave them as they sashayed up the aisle.

I can't wait for my next game. When the real fans show up.

By the way, did you know that when a pitcher is hurt in the game, his reliever has as much time as he wants to warm up?

Dinner last night: cheesesteak sandwich at the Cheesecake Factory.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Monday Morning Video

This is my new feature. Hopefully, it will work for you. A Monday morning visual to get your week going with a laugh.

This is one of those school basketball games where there is a last ditch "Hail Mary" shot to the basket. You see them on the news all the time. But, in this one, pay close attention to the little kid who runs down the sideline.


Dinner yesterday: BBQ Turkey sandwich at Mo Better Burgers in Burbank. Not exactly an Easter feast, but still yummy.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Three Questions from a Saturday Night

The mind never shuts down.

There's a station here in LA that plays disco music every Saturday night. It's perfect and just enough for me to hear in this ultra-small dose---driving to and from a movie.

Okay, so last night, they play Donna Summer's rendition of McArthur Park. For one of the first times, I actually listen to the lyrics. Have you?

Spring was never waiting for us, girl
It ran one step ahead
As we followed in the dance
Between the parted pages and were pressed,
In love's hot, fevered iron
Like a striped pair of pants
[Chorus] MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down...
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it
'Cause it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again Oh, no!
I recall the yellow cotton dress
Foaming like a wave
On the ground around your knees
The birds, like tender babies in your hands
And the old men playing checkers by the trees
[Chorus] There will be another song for me
For I will sing it
There will be another dream for me
Someone will bring it
I will drink the wine while it is warm
And never let you catch me looking at the sun
And after all the loves of my life
After all the loves of my life
You'll still be the one.
I will take my life into my hands and I will use it
I will win the worship in their eyes and I will lose it
I will have the things that I desire
And my passion flow like rivers through the sky.
And after all the loves of my life
After all the loves of my life
I'll be thinking of you
And wondering why.
MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down...
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it
'Cause it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again Oh, no! Oh, no No, no Oh NO!!

Clues? Anybody? This song was a big hit. Striped pants and melting cakes. What the h...?

And, now for Question #2, do you witness this as well? You're at a movie. It ends. You head out in the lobby and find at least two dozen people checking their cell phones and calling somebody. What the heck has happened in the last two hours that precipitates this mass reconnection? Was everybody checking for the Angels score?

I got home and checked my voicemail. Nobody called.

Query # 3: on my way to the movies, I passed another one of those anti-war demonstrations, this one outside of the Grove. There were about a dozen signs that read "Impeach Bush Now."

Do these people realize that, if you impeach Bush now, an even more dangerous idiot becomes President? Hello? Did anybody ever take Civics in school?

Dinner last night: Post "Hoax" supper at the Arclight---the chicken tenders again.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

I Still Remember You

A few weeks ago, I was lunching with two female friends from work. Somehow, we got to the subject of having crushes on TV stars. My one friend immediately piped up and announced that Ricky Schroeder was so hot. My other friend, who is gay, said that she was always soft on Kristy McNichol. (So, her gaydar was working with pinpoint accuracy of a GPS system apparently).

It was my turn. And the answer was so easy.

Valerie Bertinelli!

And since that lunch, it has dawned on me. In the ten years I have lived in Los Angeles, I haven't seen her yet. From the list of celebrities I have come in contact with, whether it be at work or at church (Harvey Korman) or at the orange counter at Ralph's (Bob Newhart), how could I have missed Val?

And it was a good time for us to connect to boot. Marriage over. Ex-husband in and out of rehab. Where, oh, where was she?

I didn't see her working much. She did that Touch Your Angel thing for a while. I'm pretty sure she did a celebrity version of Millionaire. But, other than that, she certainly wasn't out and about town. At least, not in the places I go to. Which pretty much means she hasn't been to the Hollywood Bowl, Dodger Stadium, or the Arclight Cinemas. The closest I ever got in person was many years ago when I went to a taping of One Day at a Time. Val, I couldn't hang out afterward. I was, ahem, with other people. But, I did in my mind imagine myself as a staff writer on the show. Valerie and I bonded over script changes for the second act.

So, imagine my surprise this morning. She is on the cover of People. Valerie is going to be the new Jenny Craig girl, thereby knocking Kirstie Alley back to the donut counter of Winchell's.

Now, she's looking okay to me on the cover. But, if you feel the need to feel better about yourself, Val, you have yourself a time.

Unfortunately, the attached article mentioned a boyfriend of three years. This is what I get for spending all my time with Vin Scully.

Maybe we could still be friends. I eat yogurt. We could do lunch.

No, wait, let me think. Jenny Craig, heh? Is that one of those places where you actually have to report and get weighed. I could stand to lose fifteen.

I wonder if the FBI starts files on people by reading their blogs.

Never mind.

Dinner last night: orzo with grilled vegetables.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Growing Up Catholic (as a Protestant)

Given that it is Good Friday, a childhood story comes flooding through the seas of my cranium. It is vintage Martin Luther and probably why he nailed those things to the doors a couple of centuries ago.

I grew up in a neighborhood that was predominantly Italian, which meant that it was also predominantly Catholic. In fact, I was the lone Protestant on the block as well as the only one of my group that attended public school. That made me instantly out of sync. When they all had days off for All Saints Day and the Assumption, I was off for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The public school students weren't necessarily Jewish, but the faculty sure as heck was. At an early age, I realized the upside and the downside of being Lutheran. There were never any real eating restrictions---thumbs up. But, you got major league gypped on holidays---thumbs down. When was the last time you got to stay home from school for Pentecost?

Being the religious outsider, I lost out on participating in all active arguments on saints. I could tell you the line-ups of every major league baseball team, but couldn't tell the difference between an Ignatius or a Basil. I also never got to chime in on the unified hatred all my friends had for some teacher like Sister Mary RiteAid, who allegedly wielded a mean ruler full of 2 inch nails.

And, apparently, I was missing out on something else in those schools. So said my next door neighbor Monte. Monte was an A+ student at one of the Catholic schools, one of those places where all the kids were forced to wear chocolate-colored pants with chocolate-colored jackets and chocolate-colored ties. I used to get to eat over his house from time to time. One night after dinner, instead of tuning into "Get Smart," Monte pulled out a school workbook and proceeded to instruct me in the Catholic faith. Per his teacher, Sister Margaret Advil, I, as a Protestant, was going to Hell. I was not to pass Go. I was not to collect 200 dollars. A one way ticket, all expenses paid and no questions asked, to H E Double Hockey Sticks. 

To further explain my impending peril, he turned to the page in his religious schoolbook where they apparently segregated the Protestants. There was a cartoon of a small boy. That was me, Monte said. In the center of the boy's chest was a black circle. That was the dirt on my inner soul for being a Protestant. I began to rub my chest. Could I feel this stain growing inside of me? Was that cough I was getting a result of this or just a second hand by-product from my mother's cigarettes? I wondered if my parents or my grandparents at home knew if they were doomed as well. 

Monte also let me in on a little more magic he learned from his school. On Good Friday every year, between the hours of 12 Noon and 3PM, the skies around the world get dark, as God weeps over the crucifixion of Jesus. When my nine-year-old logic tried to challenge Monte on this, I was rebuffed. It's impossible that it gets darker all over the world, I contended. But, no, I was wrong, according to Monte who studied at the feet of Sister Alice SpicNSpan. 

Good Friday came a few weeks later. And wouldn't you know it? The darkest clouds ever blanketed the sky right between 12 Noon and 3PM. Amazing! Monte was a genius. Obviously, that Martin Luther was a real snake oil salesman. 

Where do I sign up to be a Catholic? How fast can I get my soul cleaned and can they hem my new chocolate-colored pants at the same time?

Well, I noticed that nobody else really talked about the fact that the skies got dark that afternoon. My parents didn't mention it. My grandmother said nothing. Walter Cronkite did not make it a lead story on the nightly news. Monte and his teachings were exposed even further when subsequent Good Fridays turned out to be totally lovely days. 

And, when my grandfather died a few years later, nobody at the funeral talked about his black hole or the fact that he was in Hell as we spoke.Over time, I came to learn about the intricacies of all religions and made my own choices as wisely as my knowledge could sustain. Hopefully, Monte's school workbook has been discontinued at Sacred Heart School. I can only imagine what else was included in the curriculum back then. Dick and Jane Stone a Presbyterian?

As for Monte himself, the A plus student hit the skids big time in high school. He went a little crazy via drugs, etc.. He still lives in the same house he grew up in. He buried his parents (probably in the backyard). And he looks like somebody on an open call for "Helter Skelter: The Musical" with wardrobe from the Charles Manson collection. 

Usually once a year on one of my NY trips, I take a drive down the old block. It has turned over several times economically and ethnically. All the homes look like liquor storefronts in the worst areas of the Bronx. On my last trip, I noticed Monte's house painted lime green. The front yard is covered in weeds. It is a complete eyesore. And there in the front stood Mountainman Monte. A homeless man with an address. 

I thought about stopping for a second. But I drove on. The blackness of my Protestant soul was nothing compared to the hell his life has been.

Dinner last night: Chinese Chicken Salad.