Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hallowednesday


All tricks and no treats.

---We're now officially renaming the national pastime "Alex Rodriguez" as this jerk and his blood sucking agent upstage the 2007 World Series by announcing their big opt out from the Yankees in the middle of Game 4.

---Supposedly, his wife never liked New York.

---That's because it's over 500 miles from a hotel room in Toronto, where 26 million dollars a year can certainly get you quite a bit of liquor from the mini-bar.

---And hookers from the lobby.

---Great player, terrible person. The pure embodiment of deliciously sweet and bitterly sour.

---If not the Yankees, who can afford this dope? Not a lot of teams. But, I'll bet the Mets are licking their chops.

---Forget the great stats. The Mets are salivating because his last name ends with "z."

---New Yankee manager Joe Girardi looks like one of those little squealers you would see in those Warner Brothers prison dramas from the 1930s.

---And promptly winds up sitting on the business end of a floor mop.

---If you go into a store that only sells Spam and they suddenly stock up on filet mignon, you immediately develop a taste for steak.

---And that's exactly why the Dodgers have conveniently "disappeared" Grady Little and moved toward Joe Torre. It's as if Tony Soprano engineered the whole deal.

---Grady's a nice guy who always seemed to be one inning early and one pinchhitter late. Sort of like managing a Strat-o-Matic game against your four-year-old kid brother.

---Torre is the perfect fit for the current Dodger team. Lots of great talent that just needs some clubhouse maneuvering.

---Joe will find some overpaid and bloated egos here as well.

---Mr. Torre, please say hello to Jeff Kent.

---Fathead Al Sharpton is back flapping his gums one more time. He's all worked up because VP Cheney was hunting at a Westchester country club that had made the misguided choice of putting a Confederate flag out front.

---Sharpton is like an ambulance chaser. I'm afraid he's going to show up at my office with a picket sign today because I decided not to wear black shoes.

---I was in Westchester over the weekend. I didn't see one single sharecropper.

---Although I would pay top dollar to see Sharpton yoked up and pulling a plow.

---Driving around the wilds of Westchester during a fall weekend is always a treat.

---Saw this in White Plains. A storefront sign. K F C.

---But, if you looked closer, you would see that the name of the place was Kennedy Fried Chicken.

---Now, that's one marketing genius. Counting on the fact that a majority of the neighborhood can't read.

---Which they probably can't.

---Found this store in a Hartsdale strip mall. "We Ain't Just Ribs."

---Now why would you openly promote bad grammar?

---Although I was tempted to stop in and ask them if they had any recliners.

---On Central Avenue in Yonkers, four fire engines came screaming past me. I was the only car who pulled over to the side.

---Meanwhile, two cars sped up to beat the fire trucks through a light.

---So I guess it will take another national calamity for New Yorkers to start recognzing the plight of the fire fighters.

---More Westchester sloppiness. Sitting and watching the first five minutes of "Dan in Real Life" with the lights on since nobody at this Clearview cinema had the first notion of how to run a theater.

---While the patrons are screaming "Lights," the usher staff is out in the lobby comparing notes on Halloween costumes.

---If that happened in Los Angeles, the usher would be used as a pinata.

---By the way, Hell has frozen over again. "Dan in Real Life" is a totally engaging film that features both Steve Carell and Dane Cook. And I lived to tell about it.

---A pass through Ferncliff Cemetary in Hartsdale (visiting the folks) astounded me. The place is crawling (probably literally) with Asians.

---The one mausoleum is filled with these ornate Chinese urns.

---Now, I'm waiting for the one Asian with a sense of humor. He puts his loved one's ashes in a white cardboard container with one of those metal handles. With a take-out menu sticking out of it.

---Knowing how he felt about his Army stint in Japan, the influx into Ferncliff has got to be killing my father.

---Well, again.

---I guess I could have done worse. I could have put him in the "south side" of the cemetary. Right between Malcolm X and Moms Mabley.

---In the last twenty years, it has become very commonplace to diagnose youngsters with ADD.

---But, we all know that this condition has existed for years. And there are tons of adults out there who are undiagnosed.

---I had one of them sitting next to me on my return flight to LA.

---This guy looked like a fairly respectable businessman.

---Except he behaved like a five year-old. He did everything in increments of two minutes. Read a magazine. Put it back. Play the Ipod. Turn it off. Open the DVD player. Close the DVD player. Read a magazine. Put it back. Play the Ipod. Turn it off. Turn on the light. Turn off the light. Ring for the flight attendant. Order a coffee. Ring for the flight attendant. Ask for some water. Turn on the light. Turn off the light.

---By the time I got to LA, I felt like I had been flying for three days.

---With all the drugs being advertised on TV these days, I am shocked we don't see ritalin marketed to adults.

---And what's with all these ads for reptile dysfunction? I really don't care that lizards can't get along with each other.

---Yes, I know. It was a lousy joke.

---Actually it would have been a great gag for Gilda Radner doing her Emily Litella bit.

---Geez, it's not like you have to pay to read this.

---Robert Goulet died while waiting for a lung transplant. Isn't that always the way it happens? There's never a body organ when you need one.

---Amid all the platitudes in his obit, there was no mention of the fact that Goulet used to beat the crap out of his then-wife, Carol Lawrence.

---He probably caught her using his mascara.

---"If ever I would leave you..."

---You just did.

---Sort of like when Peggy Lee died.

---"Is that all there is?"

---Yes.

---Even though the Writers Guild is scheduled to strike today, please be reassured that I will continue to update this every single....

Dinner last night: The BLT at Islands.




Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Blog Post Come True



Who knew that one of my recent blog posts would turn out to be so prophetic?

You might remember that, when I hit Post # 200, I celebrated by doing a faux interview with James Lipton of "Inside the Actor's Studio" fame. You know the kind. One of those Bernard Pivot things. Blah, blah, blah.

Well, yesterday, American Airlines accorded me a rate upgrade into business class for my return flight to Los Angeles from New York. And it didn't take me long to figure out that I was indeed sitting two rows behind Mr. Lipton himself. I noticed him a couple of times when he stood to get something out of the overhead. (Note to all: He is short.) Of course, he captivated my attention when I kept seeing him doing some sort of repetitive motion with his hands. Either he was constantly wringing them with exasperation. Or perhaps he was crocheting a blanket for the baby. With the dinner tray open in front of him, he was instantly recognizable, even without the pile of index cards.

Let's move forward several hours later. I am at LAX's AA Baggage Claim Area # 4. I waiting for my suitcase. Simultaneously, I am juggling my two carry-ons as well as my Black Berry. And, certainly not for the first time, I dropped my Black Berry onto the floor. And, definitely not for the first time, my reaction is the same.

"F % C #!"

I was loud enough to startle those around me. The one who jumped the most was Mr. Lipton, who happened to be standing right alongside me. As I bent down to retrieve the apparatus, we made eye contact. I rarely get this clever this quickly. Noting his stare, I could only say one thing.

"And, yes, that is my favorite curse word."

I got a hearty chuckle back.

I assume I'll never see him again. But, then, they certainly have lowered the standards of that program. Who knows? He might include me as a guest...right after they salute Clint Eastwood's pool cleaner.

Dinner last night: The salad bar from Gelson's.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday Morning Video Laugh - October 29, 2007

In the true spirit of Halloween......BOO!


Dinner last night: Chef's salad.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

My Top 25 Favorite Films: #23!





Those of you who get Christmas cards from me may recognize that I have been sending a card with the poster to the right for several years. I think I still have a few boxes left, so don't be surprised if it turns up again in your mailbox sometime this December. Besides, they were on sale.

Here's another movie I came to later than most. From a distance, it always looked a little plastic. And it stars Danny Kaye, an actor and comedian whom I have never understood. Add to that my general ambivalence to Bing Crosby, who I consider, when he is sans Bob, rather Hope-less. For the longest time, I listened to all the critics, who said that, if you're looking to hear Bing sing "White Christmas" in a movie, you should go to "Holiday Inn" from 1943. And I did. "White Christmas" just never looked to be my cup of egg nog.

And, then, about 17 Christmases ago, I saw it.

Maybe it was a direct result of some things going on in my life at the time. Perhaps, it was a serendipitous moment in that particular holiday season. But, it hit me like a thunderbolt. Now, I could never envision going through the annual Christmas traditions without watching it. Last year, I got to see it for the first time on a big screen in a packed theater with an exurberant audience. And it roped me in all over again. Right from the moment that Paramount's Vistavision logo exploded onto the screen to the last frames of the movie when the Pine Tree Lodge is celebrating a snowy Christmas Eve. One more time. I was moved to tears.

I can certainly understand why the critics always scoffed. The plot is so tired that even a Vitamin B-12 injection couldn't revive it. Bing and Danny are two Vegas-like performers who wind up, for a bunch of silly reasons, camped out at some heat wave-plagued Vermont ski lodge and pursuing this singing sister act, played by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. Rosie plays the older sister, despite being younger than Vera-Ellen, but who cares? The women steal the picture right out from under Bing and Danny. The two actresses add such incredible vitality as soon as they come onto the screen you would think the reels were suddenly infused with a double shot of caffeine. With supporting players Dean Jagger and Mary Wickes adding, respectively, some choice poignant and comedic moments, you suddenly find yourself standing in front of a tray of the most delicious cinematic Christmas cookies. You sit for two hours watching everybody put on one of those Mickey-and-Judy barn musicals while they all wait for the inevitable Christmas Eve snowfall. And it all blends together perfectly, as if somebody finally got you just the right tie to match a new shirt.

Songwriter Irving Berlin obviously emptied out the bottom of his lyric trunk to come up with 11 or 12 songs for the movie. But, besides the title song, ditties like "Sisters," "Count Your Blessings," and "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me" are so warm and inviting, the producers of the film should have marketed a complimentary blanket for home viewing. Watch for up-and-coming George Chakiris, years before "West Side Story," among the dancers. His wordless close-up during one number apparently had women across the nation swooning and they subsequently flooded the Paramount fan letter office. And how Rosie Clooney fills out a black velvet cocktail dress should be shown in Webster's Dictionary as the official illustration for the definition of "eye candy."

If it all sounds a bit hackneyed, so be it. I'm not alone. I understand that "White Christmas" was the highest grossing film of 1954 and that says something for a movie that came out at the end of the year.

Once again, my initial appreciation might be jaded. I was ripe for the comforting arm of a good movie. I had both my parents housed in separate hospitals with illnesses. Unfortunately, my dad was in the final stages of his cancer and this year would be his last Christmas. My mom was sequestered elsewhere dealing with one more smoke-provoked bronchial episode. I spent the holiday season shuttling between semi-private rooms located on opposite ends of Westchester. And I felt incredibly alone.

"White Christmas" gave me a little bit of hope and brightness for some darker days that would come. And it still shines for me every year.

Dinner last night: Sausage and Peppers at Carlo's.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Red Sox Nation, Rockies Alienation


Sorry, Matt Holliday. Smack dab in the middle of the 2007 World Series, I am making it official.

I am rooting for the Boston Red Sox.

Say what?

I am rooting for the Boston Red Sox.

Yes, I am a National League fan.

I am rooting for the Boston Red Sox.

But, aren't the Colorado Rockies the feel-good story of baseball? With all the refreshing low paid kids just having a ball playing the national pastime?

I am rooting for the Boston Red Sox.

Granted my decision isn't going to merit the same attention as longtime Yankee fan deluxe Rudy Guiliani's announcement that he was pulling for the Sawx. Heck, the way Yankee fans are thrashing him, you would think they found Julius Caesar's bloody toga in his washing machine at home.

I admit that Boston, having shed themselves of the cute hapless demeanor they so snugly wore for almost 100 years, have ceased to be the darlings of America. As a matter of fact, with their bloated payroll and collection of high-priced individualists, the Red Sox are in immediate danger of becoming baseball's version of the Anti-Christ.

Which, of course, is in direct contrast with the Rockies, who are, of course, the Pro-Christ.

And therein lies the reason why I am rooting for the Boston Red Sox.

You see, sports gremlins, the Rockies' recent torrid September and subsequent meteoric rise through the standings brought attention to a franchise that was generally ignored in the past. And it has come out that the Rockies are, what you would call, a Christian organization. Their ownership has mentioned of late that their 2007 success is due to their commitment to signing ballplayers who reflect the moral values and life style of Christianity. There was even one comment maybe that, perhaps, the Rockies' playoff berth was, in large part, due to God's intervention. After all, they are a team that has largely accepted that Jesus Christ is the one true savior.

Well, now, the Phillies can finally know why they were swept by the Rockies. Jesus doesn't love Ryan Howard.

The Diamondbacks can come to grips with the fact that it wasn't a lack of hitting on their part during the NLCS. God doesn't like Brandon Webb.

And Met fans can finally understand what happened to them during the second half of September. Hell, their collapse wasn't due to anything that happened on the field. Trace it back to the roster spot taken up by that infernal Jew, Shawn Green.

Just like in our political platforms, there is little room in baseball for religion. When I hear Matt Holliday and Jamie Carroll praise God in the highest in the Rockie clubhouse celebration after their tiebreaking win against the Padres, I wonder how God made the choice that night. Come on, He chose the Rockies over the PADRES. Aren't they working for the firm itself?

I don't care what the Rockies organization thinks. God did not have a hand in their amazing season. God did not make the home plate umpire miss the call at the plate. It wasn't Jesus who coaxed Padre manager Bud Black into not arguing such a blatantly bad call. And, indeed, I would say it wasn't their Christian commitment that was behind their September pennant drive. When you get right down to it, seven of those victories came against a Dodger ballclub with a clubhouse that was hopelessly conflicted. Indeed, watching the Blue Crew in September did prompt me to exclaim several times, "Oh, for the love of Christ." But, no, I really don't think that pushed the holy envelope one way or the other.

Religion is a personal relationship with God. And it should be kept that way. When the Dodgers won the World Series in 1988, the arm that got them there, Orel Hershiser, knelt on the mound and prayed for 15 seconds.

He did it silently.

As it should have been.

No, God doesn't love the Rockies anymore than he loves the Phillies or the Red Sox or the Mets or the Dodgers. God loves everyone.

As it should be.

He probably even loves Barry Bonds.

But, I'm betting He is waiting to hear the results of the BALCO investigation.

Dinner last night: Pepperoni pizza at Gianna's in Yonkers.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Changing of the Christmas Guard

It happens every single time I go to NY. My first morning walk past Radio City Music Hall brings back so many memories. And sadness.

You can already see the decorations for the upcoming Christmas Spectacular, which inexplicably starts just one week after Halloween. You'll get those big toy soldiers lined up on top of the marquee. The cannon fires and knocks them down. And the throngs will show up from all over the country by the busload to spend 75 bucks for 90 minutes of alleged entertainment.

I remember taking my pseudo-nephew to this about 15 years ago. I was trying to connect to some divine passage of time. Christmas at Radio City. I used to be the kid being taken there for the sheer exhileration of the season. Now I'm the adult, taking a child for the same experience.

He came out of it all as bored as I was.

The ninety minutes blew by like a decade. The show was so badly paced you would think the Pentagon was staging it. And, except for the forever reliable Rockettes, the overall production was extremely unprofessional with some of the cheapest production values this side of Jack Benny. They even managed to make the birth of Jesus Christ uninteresting. I remember that, right in the middle of the Nativity scene, my ten year-old pseudo nephew turned to me and said loudly, "Is this over yet?"

Yet, to this day, people flock to Radio City Music Hall every Christmas as if it had the healing powers of Lourdes. And they don't even know how good it could be.

Holding a parent's hand while standing in the cold trenches of 50th Street. You didn't feel the chill. There was the warmth of the hall awaiting you. As the Salvation Army bells chimed on the corner, you would enter the grand foyer and it would be a Christmas decorated sight like no other. I would stand in ten year-old awe. Who could imagine such splendor?

And then you'd enter into the auditorium. With Christmas carols being played by that magnificent organ that slide in and out of the wall. Goosebumps by the barrel.

And then you would see a movie. Usually some cinematic entertainment that was specially selected for the Hall's Christmas offering. Take a look at this list of Radio City Music Hall Christmas films going back to 1942. This is what dreams are made of.

1942: You Were Never Lovelier.

1943: Madame Curie.

1944: National Velvet.

1945: Bells of St. Mary's.

1946: Till The Clouds Roll By.

1947: Good News.

1948: Words and Music.

1949: On The Town.

1950: Kim.

1951: I'll See You in My Dreams.

1952: Million Dollar Mermaid.

1953: Easy to Love.

1954: Deep In My Heart.

1955: Kismet.

1956: Teahouse of the August Moon.

1957: Sayonara.

1958: Auntie Mame.

1959: Operation Petticoat.

1960: The Sundowners.

1961: Babes in Toyland.

1962: Jumbo.

1963: Charade.

1964: Father Goose.

1965:That Darn Cat.

1966: Follow Me, Boys.

1967: The Happiest Millionaire.

1968: The Impossible Years.

1969: A Boy Named Charlie Brown.

1970: Scrooge.

1971: Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

1972: 1776.

1973: Robin Hood.

1974: The Little Prince.

1975: The Sunshine Boys.

Okay, there are some duds in that bunch. But, still, it was more than enough for a smile. And, coupled with a 30 minute well-crafted stage show that prominently featured the Rockettes, you came away with the ultimate holiday memory.

Probably for less than 5 bucks a person.

In the murder of movie theater glory in New York, Radio City Music Hall is the most tragic victim.

It's just a memory for me now. But, there is still one place that gets it right. Every day of the year. And especially at Christmas time.

The El Capitan on Hollywood Boulevard is a revered long time movie palace that Disney has smartly restored to its previous sheen. Sure, it's a money-making outlet for whatever movie Disney is trying to push at any given time. But, throughout the year, it is movie going nirvana. A glorious theater, complete with balcony, that takes you to the lofty heights once only attained by Radio City Music Hall. An organist popping in and out of the stage between shows. And some Disney-on-steroids stage show with some leftover performers from the Electrical Parade down in Anaheim. Usually no more than 15 minutes. Corny as hell, but as warm and comfortable as the oldest sweater in your drawer. Then, you see your movie and your smile is complete. They even literally and figuratively put the cherry on the sundae by opening up an ice cream parlor adjacent to the theater.

I was there at the El Capitan last Christmas for "The Santa Clause 3." Certainly not a movie I would have seen normally (okay, the addition of Martin Short in the cast helped). But, the stage show gave you snow. The glittery Christmas trees on both sides of the theater gave you hope. And the whole evening gave me back my youth.

If I closed my eyes, I could feel the hand of my mom or dad as they escorted me up the staircase from the D train.

Christmas, indeed.

Dinner last night: Linguini and sundried tomatoes, black olives, and broccoli.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

As Shown on the Back of My Eyelids


As the marketing slogan says, I live for this. Two months ago, I arranged my work and travel schedule to coincide with the New York Mets hosting Games Three through Five of the 2007 World Series this weekend at Shea Stadium. And now I am actually flying into NY for the games! In the most wonderful of omens, Saturday night's game is the 21th anniversary of the Mets winning Game 7 of the 1986 World Series against the Red Sox. And they're playing Boston once again! My seats this year are not as good: I am in Section 23 of Arthur Ashe Stadium across the street. But, at least, I am going to be in the same borough for all the excitement.

The Mets' journey to get to baseball's promised land has been a whirlwind of thrills. It seems like just yesterday that the Mets needed to pin down just one win that last weekend in order to secure a playoff spot. I can only recount the events as they unfolded before my very eyes.

On that last Sunday of the season, Tom Glavine pitches a gutsy 19 innings to propel the Mets into the playoffs for the second straight year. The final score is 1-0 and scrappy Jose Reyes contributed to the winning run scoring from the dugout. Reyes' Spanish chants so unnerve Marlin reliever Kevin Gregg that he experiences internal combustion on the mound. Jose Valentin, back from a seven year stint on the disabled list, scores from third and immediately dons a FDNY cap as firemen rush to hose down Gregg on the infield. After the game, Glavine announces that, despite his pitch count being over four hundred, he will be ready for Game One of the playoffs. Unfortunately, he won't make that start after being hit by a taxicab on his way to a golf course the next day.

The National League Division Series begins in a cloudy Shea Stadium. And, in a rematch of 1969, the Cubs are the opponents. The National Anthem is sung in Spanish by Jennifer Lopez as the Met fans gleefully wave their rally serapes. Orlando Hernandez, aided by two caregivers from the North Shore Assisted Living home, takes the mound and doesn't have it. He scatters 10 hits over 1/3 of an inning and the Cubs take an early 6-0 lead. But, Cub starter Carlos Zambrano doesn't have it either. By the fifth inning, the Mets have mounted a formidable lead, 16-6. While it is not a save situation, closer Billy Wagner still enters the ninth inning to the strains of "The Sandman." Ultimately, the Cubs close the gap to 16-15. The Mets are reduced to using pitching coach Rick Peterson to finish the game, stranding pinch hitter Lou Piniella at third as the tying run.

Game 2 of the NLDS begins after a stirring rendition of the Colombian National Anthem by a barbershop quartet of convicted drug mules. Met starter Oliver Perez walks 19, but gives up only two hits. At the same time, Cub starter Carlos Zambrano doesn't have it. Powered by a Carlos Beltran grand slam, the Mets go two up in the series and head to Chicago.

The wind is blowing out at Wrigley Field for Game 3 of the NLDS. Oprah Winfrey throws out the first ball and then announces that all 35,000 in attendance will receive a free bag of Funyons and a bottle of grape soda. Thanks to a first inning homerun by Aramis Ramirez off Met starter John Maine, the Cubs get off to an early 2-0 lead. But, Cub starter Carlos Zambrano doesn't have it. Thanks to an inside-the-park single by Moises Alou in the seventh, the Mets prevail 3-2. They happily advance to the National League Championship Series against the Padres, who have successfully appealed to the US Supreme Court to overturn the umpire's call in their tiebreaking match vs. the Rockies.

Following a 10 hour rain delay at Shea Stadium, the Mets and Padres finally begin Game 1 of the NLCS at 5:15AM. TBS star Frank Caliendo throws out the first ball, while simultaneously doing a dead-on impression of Madeline Albright. Met starter Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez becomes the first playoff starter to pitch from a sitting position and dedicates his performance to Raymond Burr. He confuses the Padres thoroughly at the plate as they manage just one hit over six innings. The only Padre to reach base does so when a ball up the middle gets stuck in the spokes of Hernandez' wheelchair. Meanwhile, the Mets piece together four timely hits to gain a 2-0 victory. Surprise closer and non roster invitee Jesse Orosco finishes it up with a 1-2-3 ninth.

Due to the Game 1 rain and the accommodation of TV schedules, Game 2 of the NLCS starts 10 minutes after the completion of Game 1. In their first reunion in twenty years, the original members of Menudo sing the National Anthem, with two of the kids accompanied by their parole officers. Met starting pitcher Oliver Perez electrifies the Shea throng when his first three pitches to Padre Brian Giles wind up in the mezzanine. Carlos Delgado strikes out three times with the bases loaded, but a Shawn Green fifth-inning double plates three off Padre starter Chris Young. The three runs stand up as the Mets win, 3-2. Surprise closer and non roster invitee Neil Allen gets the save. The Mets go 2 up in the series as they head off to San Diego's Pet Bowl Park.

There are only 10,000 empty seats when the Padres take the field for Game 3 of the NLCS. Veteran starter Greg Maddux lasts seven innings and throws just 42 pitches as the Met bats are silent. Met righthander John Maine brings nothing and the Padres belt him around for 13 runs. Because of a shortage of available arms, Met Manager Willie Randolph is forced to leave Maine in the game. His removal is requested only when two San Diego paramedics arrive with a court order. As a peace offering, Randolph lets one of the paramedics finish the game at second base.

After getting 21 days of rest after his last start, Pedro Martinez pronounces himself ready to start Game 4 of the NLCS for the Mets. His mound opponent will be Padres' Cy Young candidate Jake Peavy in what promises to be a pitching duel. The first inning lasts 2 hours as the two teams pummel each other with a total of 35 hits. By the third inning, the Padres lead by a field goal, 16-13. San Diego's closer deluxe, Trevor Hoffman, comes on for the save in the ninth. He promptly walks the bases loaded. The Mets grab the lead when David Wright hits a 3-0 fastball for a grand slam. Surprise closer and non roster invitee Galen Cisco wraps up the Mets' stunning victory as they find themselves just one victory away from the World Series.

When it is announced that El Duque has undergone hip replacement surgery, the Mets turn to rookie Mike Pelfrey for the potential World Series clincher. Padre Manager Bud Black tries to revert his fate by having closer Trevor Hoffman pitch the first inning and the future Hall-of-Famer responds by walking only two and not allowing a run to cross the plate. As the teams switch in the middle of the third, Padre Mike Cameron and the Mets' Carlos Beltran collide just behind the pitching mound. Both leave the game and are taken to the hospital for x-rays. Pelfrey pitches the best game of his young career and the Mets, with four runs in the sixth, win the National League pennant with a 4-2 victory. And, now, it's off to the World...

"Flight attendants, prepare for landing."

Huh?

Why the hell am I making this trip again?

Dinner last night: Turkey burger and grilled vegetables.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wednesday's Child is Full of Woe



And so am I.

---I have enough of this Red Sox knucklehead Jonathan Papelbon and his Lord of the Dance routine. He reminds me of some Catholic high school kid on St. Patrick's Day who has one beer and then promptly throws up into his backpack.

---Or the jerk in gym class who is standing two feet away from you in a dodgeball game and still slams the ball into your head.

---At least, this time, he remembered to put his pants and shoes on.

---You know that, at some point, some opposing player is going to get pissed at his shenanigans. And then, his Irish jig morphs into an IRA car bomb.

---But, then again, we could have been watching Jose Reyes in a postgame samba.

---The real dancing in baseball last week was the Yankees' spin on their insulting offer to Joe Torre.

---They did that with all the subtlety of the Third Reich.

---"What concentration camps?"

---They played the Yankee fan as a complete buffoon. Like their fan base actually thinks Adolf Hitler had a customer service department.

---More baseball: everybody is talking about the great feel good story being written by the young bucks on the Colorado Rockies, now headed to the World Series.

---People are saying that it's refreshing to root for these kids who have yet to be tainted by the almighty dollar.

---Yeah, call me in a few years when players like Matt Holliday and Brad Hawpe become free agents and leave snowtire marks racing out of Denver.

---The Rockies will never be able to compete on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Let's face it, until their September hot streak, Coors Field was half full.

---Or half empty for those pessimistic readers.

---With the latest catastrophes hitting Southern California, I do appreciate all the people who check in to see if I am okay.

---Trust me. I live nowhere near Malibu.

---If I lived in Malibu, do you think I'd be writing a blog for you people every day?

---You don't have to call me unless you hear there's an explosion at the Coffee Bean on the corner of Santa Monica and Beverly Glen.

---Last year, I actually had somebody check in on me when there was a tsunami warning in Japan.

---When do we get to see the pictures of Barbra, wearing a kerchief and hosing down her roof?

---All the people who had to evacuate their homes in San Diego are all camped out in Qualcomm Stadium. News reports says it is a very orderly gathering.

---Unlike what happened in the Louisiana Superdome after Katrina hit.

---And the difference is what? Come on, folks, you all know the answer.

---The California fires have prompted wall-to-wall coverage on all TV stations. Amazing shots, especially in high-def. And very educational. For instance, you learn that black smoke signifies a fire that just started. White smoke means that Lake Arrowhead has a new Pope.

---AOL cut 20,000 jobs. There goes the unemployment rate in Pakistan.

---When they call HR to talk about their benefits, somebody should put them on hold for 20 minutes.

---I had some telemarketer from India call me last week and stumble with the pronounciation of his name, which he said was "Joe."

---How the hell can you mess up saying "Joe?"

---I went to see the Halle Berry/Benecio Del Toro movie "Things We Lost in the Fire."

---Apparently, one of the things was a decent script. A dreary mess.

---Benecio Del Toro always looks like he just ate a bad burrito.

---His eyes have more bags than a Louis Vuitton outlet store.

---I do, however, recommend "Lars and the Real Girl." Very quirky, but it holds your interest.

---Oh, so that's what I'm supposed to do with that plastic sex toy I ordered over the internet.

---Speaking of dummies, anybody who is perhaps considering a 2008 lever pull for Miss Hillary needs to read this month's Vanity Fair. Ironically, it's the one with JFK and Jackie on the cover.

---It goes in great detail to describe how Hillary completely railroaded Gore's 2000 campaign in favor of her NY Senate campaign. By the end of Bill's term in office, he and Al Snore barely spoke.

---She is the quintessential pushy broad. You know that this Presidential campaign is serving in lieu of alimony payments from Bill. This is the ton of flesh she has extracted from her alleged husband.

---And you also read how they selected NY for her Senate run. Hillary's folks realized that super liberal New Yorkers are dopes and would probably elect Joe Stalin if he was on the Democratic ticket.

---I was shocked to hear that scuzzbucket rapist Robert Chambers is actually out of jail. And getting busted for cocaine possession.

---I figured he was still behind bars. Canoodling with some guy named Bruno and answering to the name of "Peggy."

---I think I know the real reason why that dog adoption place got so ticked when weepy Ellen DeGeneres re-gifted that puppy to her hairdresser.

---Maybe the hair stylist is Korean?

I'm off to NY for Game 3 of the World Series at Shea Stadium this Saturday night. No, wait a minute...

Dinner last night: Eggplant Parmagiana at Earth, Wind, and Flour.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Help Wanted, Bronx, New York

With Joe Torre's departure, the field manager job of the New York Yankees is available for the first time in twelve years. Since the front office must be admittedly out of practice when it comes to finding suitable candidates to be Joe's replacement, I assume they will be using one of those career search engines like Hotjobs or Monster.com. They probably need some help in filling out the job specs. Let me assist.

Job Qualifications: Must understand the sport of baseball. Those using the Dodgers' Grady Little as a benchmark need not apply.

Past Experience Preferred: Should have appeared at least once at a Yankees Oldtimers Game. Non-drinkers requested only. Candidate must make available recent PSA screening with a score of 2 or less. Candidate should also have past experience working in bug-infested environs.

Job Responsibilities:

1. Must be available to manage team for all 162 games per season. Any health issues should be addressed only during spring training.

2. Must be able to recite the names of all 73 New York Yankees who have had their uniform numbers retired.

3. Must be willing to contribute monetarily to a monthly floral display for Monument Park.

4. Must be able to understand that, when the owner calls on the dugout phone during the game and tells you "akfdjfqie pirya rfedaqw," it means to change the pitcher.

5. Must be willing to share dinner once a week with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. If you are seated in proximity to Mr. Sterling, protective bibs will be provided.

6. Must commit to taking Yankee public address announcer Bob Shepherd to the super market one Saturday morning per month. Candidate should understand that it is not appropriate to giggle when Mr. Shepherd, in the middle of the A&P, announces "Aisle # 5, Canned Peaches, Del Monte, Aisle # 5."

7. Must be able to understand that, when the owner calls on the dugout phone during the game and says "bghjmnasde ac hpilkjpow," it means the next batter must bunt.

8. Must not be easily offended if tapioca is thrown at you.

9. Must realize that there is crying in baseball. (See # 5, Dinner with Ms. Waldman)

10. Should be prepared to get through a season with a bullpen comprised of one future Hall of Famer and four other pitchers culled from the cast of "Artie Lange's Beer League."

11. Must not be easily unnerved when your boss wears his underwear on top of his business suit.

12. Should be ready to accept responsibility for everything that goes wrong and receive no credit for everything that goes right.

13. Should not laugh out loud when the owner suggests you hire Babe Ruth as your bench coach.

Hours: Various. Generally four to five per day. Could be more on days when Mike Mussina is pitching. One 30 minute nap/break allowed when Ronan Tynan sings during the seventh inning stretch.

Salary: Negotiable. Starting pay will be reduced by a sliding scale of 33 percent per year. At the end of the fourth season, candidate will be paying the Yankees to work here.

Dinner last night: Bang Bang Chicken and Shrimp at the Cheesecake Factory.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Monday Morning Video Laugh - October 22, 2007

Fall down funny.


Dinner last night: Black Forest Ham on sourdough baquette.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

My Top 25 Favorite Films: #24!


Some movies are clearly a product of their era. There is no film that is more keenly a reflection of the quiet and demure Fifties than "Pillow Talk" from 1959.

One could make the argument that this movie invented the "chick flick." Maybe so. But, this is an absolutely delectable 90 minutes of sheer ridiculousness. And it gets more and more silly each time I see it. At the same time, when I finally saw it on a big screen several years ago (after multiple TV viewings) at the Alex Theater in Pasadena, the place was packed. And nobody caught stop laughing.

Where else but in the world of Doris Day and Rock Hudson could a 30 plus year-old career woman be still saving herself for the right guy? The hell with Steve Carell and his 40 year-old virgin nonsense. Doris takes the honors for keeping the store closed as long as she did. With style, elegance, and fashions that only producer Ross Hunter could find out of the Universal Studios wardrobe department.

Thanks to today's technology, the story is incredibly dated. A case of mistaken identities as a result of two people sharing a party line. When I saw it with a live audience, I actually heard a father explain that whole concept to a rather confused teenager. I guess if this were remade today, Doris and Rock would be slugging it out on My Space. But, indeed, regardless of the now virtually ancient plotline, any remake could never come close to the sheer brilliance of this script, which won an Oscar for screenplay. The dialogue crackles as the actor have fun with a plot that they must know deep down is ludicrous.

In retrospect, it's hilarious to watch "Pillow Talk" now that we are all fully aware of Rock Hudson' sexual orientation. Because, for a good deal of the movie, he pretends to be a man who is very fond of sharing recipes, etc.---you know "the sensitive kind." Wink, wink. Nobody in the moviegoing audience knew it then, but I am sure everybody in the cast and crew got their jollies as Rock sunk his teeth into those scenes, which are utterly inane and believable at the same time.

Amongst the all important supporting players, Tony Randall lays the groundwork with seeds that will eventually sprout to his portrayal of Felix Unger eleven years later. And no one does "drunk housekeeper" better than Thelma Ritter. I wish my cleaning lady would show up bombed once in a while just so I can have the same razor sharp repartee Thelma shares with Doris.

All throughout the movie, the pastel colors prevail. The wardrobe is luscious. And, above all, there is laughter.

Not bad for a world that really doesn't exist.

But should.

Dinner last night: Actually breakfast. French toast at Dupar's.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

You Ain't Heard Nothing Yet


Propped up on the couch with an ice pack on my conflicted knee earlier this week, I settled into my latest DVD purchase. Unlike other entries into my movie collection, this one is a movie I had never seen before. But, this film's stature in cinematic history was enough to warrant its presence. Plus, the Warner special edition was three discs full and had oodles of extras that put the introduction of film sound into marvelous perspective.

Indeed, the attached documentary called "The Dawn of Sound" is the best reason to buy this collection. You learn how all the Hollywood studios at the time were tripping over each other to all be the first ones to add sound to movies. Not just any sound, but the best sound possible. There were a variety of different technologies being invented at the same time and some of those inventors were downright snarky. To gain advantage, none of them were above throwing each other under the proverbial bus. This DVD "extra" is 90 minutes long, but required viewing for any devoted film-o-philes. But, I digress...

Let's get back to my leg elevated onto a pillow and "The Jazz Singer." Indeed, this Al Jolson star vehicle may have been the first "feature length" film to include sound, but it certainly isn't the first film of any length to be shown that way. In this DVD set, you see a lot of the musical and comedy shorts produced earlier that included sound. A lot of old vaudevillians had already blazed this trail on their way to committing homocide of their "art form." You watch this stuff and you understand that vaudeville was not only killed, but it was terrorized with torture for an extended death knell. Then there were some silent features which used a lot of sound effects, most notably "Don Juan" with John Gilbert. But, for a feature length movie, "The Jazz Singer" is indeed the first so-called "talkie."

Except there are only about five lines of dialogue that are actually heard. And several of them are voiced by the old lady playing Jolson's mother. She was the physical embodiment of the Seinfeld "low talker" episode. While all the musical numbers are certainly heard, the rest of the movie, save for those few lines of dialogue, play just like a regular silent film. Given everything I have heard about this historical artifact, I was actually surprised to see how silent this movie really was.

The plot is well known. Archie Bunker once described in a joke on "All in the Family." "This guy is supposed to sing in a synagogue, but, instead, goes out and sings for his mammy. His father gets mad, sings an old Jew song, and dies." That is pretty much it. It's well done. It's snazzily produced. But, classic drama, it isn't. You ain't heard nothing yet? In reality, we've heard it all before.

But, that's not the real story with this recent DVD release. Warner Brothers is intending to honor "The Jazz Singer" on the occasion of his 80th anniversary, given its original release in October of 1927. And it certainly should be heralded. But, all of a sudden, we are getting flack. Protest groups are coming down hard on some of the embedded ethnic and racial stereotypes. Given the plot, the setting is very Lower East Side NY Jewish. There is no disguising that. One of the characters is simply called "The Kibitzer." The guy playing the father, a stern Jewish cantor, is Warner Oland, who eventually traded his orthodox beard for slanted eyes as Charlie Chan.

And then there's the blackface. Okay, a big part of Al Jolson's act on stage and in this movie is straight from a minstrel show. That's a fact. Now, we're hearing people talking about what a rascist he was. Fifty seven years after his death, Al Jolson's career as a consummate performer is being trampled needlessly. I'm actually expecting Al Sharpton to head out to Hillside Memorial Park with a lit broom, intending to set fire to Jolson's sarcophagus.

Enough please.

New York City in the twenties was built on immigrants from Europe. Yes, there were a lot of Jewish folks living on the East Side of Manhattan. And they certainly did embrace their ethnicity. No differently than the Puerto Ricans or Haitians that currently reside there.

And, swallow hard, folks. Minstrel shows were a form of entertainment during the 1920s. Like it or not. They were a function of the times. Were they appropriate? Probably not, but, indeed, they are no more offensive than hip hop music, in which African-Americans denigrate each other. If you want to throw a brick at a glass house, be prepared to clean up the mess afterward. And don't complain either about the annoying sound it makes.

And it's the sound that people should focus on when they consider "The Jazz Singer." Regardless of whether or not it was the innovative groundbreaker folks think it was, it still represents a moment in our film heritage that, even for its small contribution, should be embraced, not denounced.

Dinner last night: BLT at Islands.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Finally A Positive Story About a Doctor

It's like Edgar Allen Poe's been working overtime.

In my travels, I hear more and more horror stories from friends about their recent experiences with doctors. Symptoms being ignored for months. Mis-diagnoses that ultimately resulted in surgery. Non-diagnoses that ultimately resulted in surgery. You name it. I've heard it. Makes you long for the days of Marcus Welby.

One of the problems, beyond all the nutty insurance issues that these medical mavens must contend with, is that they are extremely overbooked. I can't tell you how many times I've called one of my specialists with a problem. When I have a rash that won't stop itching, I'll call my dermatologist, only to find out that the first available appointment is ten days away. By that point, I will probably have ripped off enough layers of skin to resemble the Cryptkeeper. Same thing with my ENT. I can easily tell when I have a sinus infection. You call the office. "See you next week." Provided the mucus hasn't choked me in my sleep. And I like these guys!

This brings me to my medical issue of this past week. I've had a seriously arthritic right knee for some time, originally incured during some loopy warm-up exercise during senior year gym class in high school. Of course, my parents, charter members of the anti-doctor regime, took me not to an orthopaedist, but to the old fossil who was our family doctor. The guy had not read a medical magazine since Margaret Truman was playing the piano in the White House. He would prescribe the same thing to anybody. Aspirin. A fairly serious knee situation was largely ignored and the end result is the Mickey Mantle cartilege-less joint that I have today. The bone-on-bone friction has provided me with a wonderful party trick that has always proven to horrify my friends. About ten years ago, a sports injury doctor at UCLA (whose main claim to fame was that his name was found on Heidi Fleiss' client list) told me that I had the right knee of an eighty-year-old. So, unless joints ages like dogs, that leg is now 90. Can I get a senior discount for a quarter of my body?

I have been pretty much episode-free the past several years. Until this past Tuesday. I got up from my desk to get my one daily cup of coffee and suddenly felt twinges of stiffness. I had a lunch down the block with my producer/friend, so I walked there nonetheless, thinking that the exercise might work out the tightness. By the time I walked back, I had more kinks than Ray Davies. When I got home at the end of the day, I was crawling through the front door. I immediately threw myself into the time-honored hourly rendition of Aleve and ice. Nothing.

The next morning, I had as much mobility as Ed Kranepool with an armoir on his back. The only problem was that I had actually had to go to the office, not for any pressing business reasons, but, because my apartment garage was having pipe work done, all cars had to be vacated for the day. I felt like a homeless Vietnam vet. I toddled into the office with a cane. I was ready to do battle with Ebenezer Scrooge two months early. God bless me, everyone.

Unfortunately, I have never clicked with an orthopaedist in Los Angeles. In the dating world of patient and doctor, I have never gotten past the appetizer with the two I tried. So, not only was I not able to walk, but I had nobody to see about it. And then I remembered my internist.

Let me back up albeit gingerly. My original general practitioner in Los Angeles, a well-known cardiologist, had retired two years ago. My medical records were shipped over to a new guy, a Doogie Howser type, who probably only has to shave twice a week. On my first visit to him, his small stature reminded me of a middle school kid who would regularly get stuffed into his locker. But, he had totally read my file and knew more about my body than I did. Impressive. During that first meeting, he pledged that he would be at my disposal for any emergencies on any day, including Christmas. Given I know some friends can't get a doctor to call back within a decade, I bought in. My doctor said that he and I were going to "grow older together." I reminded him that I did have a head start.

So, Wednesday, as I rattled my cane all over the San Fernando Valley, one of those "any emergency on any day" cards needed to be played. I had to start someplace. I called his office and explained the problem. I held on while the receptionist consulted with the doctor. "Can you come in at 3PM today?" Bingo. We had a winner.

Now I figured that, since he wasn't an orthopaedist, my internist was going to be a trifle limited with how he could unbend my knee. If I walked out of his office with an Ace bandage, some pain killing prescription, and a direct line phone number for a fast track to a new ortho guy, I would be today's Lotto winner. But, my guy did so much more. He looked at my knee which was now twice the size of my other leg. He figured an arthritic flare-up, but also considered gout. Huh? Isn't gout something that was treated by Doc Holliday in 1872? Nevertheless, he admitted he was limited to what he could do. Okay, I thought, here comes the vicodin and the phone number. Nope. He was determined to give me immediate relief. And he did. Above and beyond.

He drained the knee. Then he shot it full of cortisone. I had one such shot twelve years ago and that was the most physical pain I had ever felt. Until yesterday. It was so excruciating that I started to pass out. His assistant remarked about my suddenly gray pallor. And, here's something I learned yesterday and it's the medical tip of the day. If you ever feel woozy and a need to faint, cough three times. The action moves blood to your head and the feeling goes away. Amazing. Nevertheless, the cortisone settled into my blood stream wonderfully. My leg could have been broken and I would have still been able to go to Roseland.

On the way out without the cane, now hanging in my closet like Lourdes, I commented that all I had expected was an Ace bandage, vicodin, and the number of an orthopaedist not on Heidi Fleiss' list. He offered all three. I took him up only on the latter. One day later, I was back to normal. And he actually apologized for not being able to do more.

I wouldn't post his name here. But, if you are in the LA area and looking for a new internist, let me know and I will share.

And that reminds me. My eczema is starting up again. Time to see my dermatologist next December.

Dinner last night: Spaghetti and meatballs.




Thursday, October 18, 2007

Out Amongst Us

One of the truly cool things about living in Los Angeles is the ability to see celebrities out and about, living their lives just like you and I do. Of course, if you go to an industry function or a studio lot, it's a slamdunk that you will see a star or two. That's cheating. The real fun is when you're in the supermarket next to them as they're running their debit card through to buy a head of lettuce and some beer.

I had a really stellar celebrity encounter day last weekend when I actually tallied three sightings on one single Saturday. While picking up my dry cleaning, I saw Sydney Pollack parking his car on Westwood Boulevard. Walking into the New Balance sneaker store, the door was held open for me by Steven Bochco. And, capping it all off, Henry Winkler was sitting in the row ahead of us at the Arclight for a showing of "Michael Clayton," co-starring...Sydney Pollack. It all got me thinking. Who else have I seen here?

Robert Guillaume at a coffee shop down the block from my office. We spent five minutes discussing just how unnatural the ingredients are in a bottle of Diet Snapple.

Jack Riley from the Bob Newhart Show at the Arclight for a showing of "3:10 to Yuma."

Bob Newhart himself several times pushing a shopping cart at Ralph's supermarket. My roommate has seen him multiple times picking up a prescription at Walgren's.

Carol Burnett hiding behind sunglasses and a column at The Cheesecake Factory.

Barbara Bain from "Mission Impossible" buying movie tickets at the Arclight.

Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy buying movie tickets at a kiosk in the Grove theater complex.

Jane Alexander crossing a street in Westwood.

Brenda Strong, the narrator from "Desperate Housewives" picking out a birthday card at Aahs in Westwood.

Dean "Superman" Cain trying to corral his young son at Aahs in Santa Monica.

Kristian Alfonso from "Days of Our Lives" eating lunch with her children next to me at The Cheesecake Factory.

John Lithgow parking his car underneath my living room window.

Teri Hatcher three times. Yelling at her daughter in Tower Records. Sitting with absolutely no make-up on at the Marmalade Cafe. Standing in front of me on the popcorn line at the Arclight.

Nicolette Sheridan and I making eye contact while stopped at a traffic light on Wilshire.

Ellen DeGeneres at the car wash. Pre-talk show and dog drama, she was driving a Toyota Corolla.

Grant Tinker at the same car wash and at a French restaurant in Brentwood.

Greg Kinnear at the car wash.

Della Reese at the car wash as she was getting her church van lathered up.

Pre-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger fishing for coins at a parking meter near the Ivy in Beverly Hills.

Christina Ricci waiting at the car valet with me at Jar.

Jon Voight at the AMC theater in Westwood, two rows behind me.

Rip Taylor at the Laemmle theater in Beverly Hills, one row behind me.

Lesley Ann Warren sitting next to my roommate and me at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. She moved at intermission when he wouldn't stop staring at her.

Joanne Worley on the ticket will call line at the Ahmanson.

David Spade in the men's room at the Grove Theater.

Queen Latifah coming out of the ladies' room at the Grove Theater.

Harrison Ford on the escalator at Dodger Stadium.

Ray Romano on the club level on Dodger Stadium.

Bradley Whitford multiple times at Dodger Stadium. He has season tickets two sections away from mine.

Tom Lasorda at the urinal next to me in the fifth floor bathroom at work. "Hiya, pal!"

Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees at the Dodger Stadium club restaurant.

Brad Garrett at the Hollywood Bowl.

Sean Hayes at the Hollywood Bowl.

Penny Marshall at the Hollywood Bowl.

The late Tony Franciosa several Christmas Eves at church.

Harvey Korman at church on Christmas Eve. I lit his candle.

Lukas Haas at church on Christmas Eve.

Keifer Sutherland coming out of a medical building in West Hollywood.

France Nuyen watching herself in "South Pacific" at the Egyptian.

Leonard Maltin watching a pair of screwball comedies at the Egyptian.

Ron Howard with his kids buying popcorn at the Egyptian for a showing of "Guns of Navarone." He is the only one I wanted to talk to.

Ed Begley Jr. waiting for an electric powered bus on Beverly Boulevard in West Hollywood.

Giovanni Ribisi wandering around Hollywood Boulevard.

Carson Kressley from "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" sitting next to me on a flight to NY. He had excessive body odor.

Molly Shannon sitting across from me on a NY bound flight.

Timothy Busfield on one of the first NY flights after 9/11. He and I chatted.

Harry Morgan of M*A*S*H* eating soup at Jerry's Famous Deli.

And that's all I can remember right now. Come on out. I can tell you where to find them.

Dinner last night: Chef's salad.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It's Wednesday and My Lips are Not Moving

Hey, I'm no dummy.

---So, let me get this straight. I could dust off a couple of old Powerpoint presentations and win the Nobel Peace Prize like Al Gore?

---After years of telling us that he invented the internet, now Al Snore is going to lay claim that he came up with the Handletie garbage bag.

---Giving him the Nobel Prize for touting stuff we have known for years essentially drops that honor down to the level of a People's Choice award.

---I wonder if the nominating committee got a look at Al's electric bill for that Tennessee monstrosity he lives in.

---I understand that when Gore puts on his coffee maker in the morning, there is a brownout in Memphis.

---Let's face it, the only thing with low wattage in the Gore Household is Tipper.

---You know this is pissing off Clinton. Because he was there talking about these issues, too.

---The only difference is Bill has been devoting his leisure time to hanging out at the local Starbucks, ogling the pretty baristas behind the counter.

---Yo, Bill, it's not the Nobel Piece of Ass Prize.

---And Al Bore still says he's not running. I still think he's waiting till the last minute. While the other idiots duke it out, he keeps his nose clean and sits around sorting glass and plastic bottles.

---But, remember, folks. He's still the same Al Gore. The guy who ran for President, coming out of a successful incumbency, and he couldn't carry his home state.

---I never heard of any voter machine fraud in Tennessee.

---So, in 2008, we're not letting Florida vote, right?

---Imus is going back on the radio in December.

---Now that he's been vindicated for that railroad job he got from that beacon of good taste, Al Sharpton, we can all go back to hating Imus for being the true bastard that he really is.

---Four scary words for Met fans: Kaz Matsui, World Series.

---The Rockies are the perfect example of what wins a World Series these days. All it takes is one late season hot streak.

---Is Glavine out of that first inning yet?

---This week's quotable quote from my friend, the Bibster: Edith Head gives good wardrobe.

---The Red Sox' Manny Ramirez looks like somebody who would be Jimmy Cliff's bodyguard.

---With TBS now out of the baseball coverage, how the hell are they going to promote Frank TV, which doesn't premiere for another five weeks?

---Why TBS relegated the best up and coming baseball analyst, Ron Darling, to the in-studio desk is beyond me. Instead, we get Tony Gwynn, who sounds like a door hinge in a haunted house.

---Anybody warming up behind Glavine yet?

---It looks very much like the writers will strike later in the month.

---Which will mean that the only clever thing being written in Hollywood is this blog.

---If the writers do go out, the television season may be greatly curtailed.

---Kiefer Sutherland in "15."

---There is no more inconsistent show on TV than "Curb Your Enthusiasm." I came to this show late and I am astounded how episodes vary in quality.

---The opening episode this season was laugh-out-loud hilarious with one of the greatest sight gags ever.

---But, subsequent editions have been terrible. I was ready to write it off completely. Then, last week, another brilliant episode. The "ratdog" show was one belly laugh after another.

---George Steinbrenner says he will have a decision on Joe Torre as soon as he speaks to his most trusted advisors.

---Winston Churchill and Ida Lupino.

Dinner last night: Dried cappacola with roasted peppers sandwich.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Is It Me??

I'm having an identity crisis.

Now I consider myself a pretty good judge of cleverness. I certainly have to create enough of it in the course of my average day. And, when it comes to TV comedy, I'd like to think that I can appreciate what needs to appreciated. And flush what needs to be flushed.

Over the years, I have enjoyed and embraced a myriad of television sitcoms. I could laugh out loud heartily to the utter silliness of a "Green Acres" at one moment and then hit the same giggle meter listening to the Noel Coward-like verbal sparring on "Frasier." From "I Love Lucy" to "The Beverly Hillbillies" to "Mary Tyler Moore" to "Family Ties" to "Everybody Loves Raymond" to "Entourage," I think I run the gamut of funny. I'm an equal opportunity employer when it comes to good comedy. And, usually, I'm in lockstep with most of the critics and, gasp, the general population.

Which brings me to NBC's "30 Rock." This show, which debuted last season, is the current darling bastard child of all television critics at large. When it came on in September of 2006, it got reviews generally reserved for the New Testament. I watched the first two episodes.

I didn't laugh once.

It goes on, for its first season, to become TV's equivalent of Jesus in the wilderness. The prophet and savior that nobody recognizes. Despite the laudatory praise piled on by journalists across the country, lots of folks didn't watch it. That happens. Like most of the population, I didn't catch the first year-and-a-half of "Everybody Loves Raymond." But, once we all did, it caught on like Pinkberry Yogurt. I consider that show one of my top 10 favorite sitcoms of all time. It's the only TV series that I own completely on DVD from first to last episode.

Meanwhile, I am hearing all last season from friends I respect how good "30 Rock" is. Alec Baldwin appears as the funniest character to hit TV since Archie Bunker. One LA Times writer goes so far to devote 15 paragraphs to a comparison of "30 Rock" and "Mary Tyler Moore." At the end, he argues that "30 Rock" is a better show and that Tina Fey is a better actress than Mary Tyler Moore. I raised my eyebrows so high that I gave myself a migraine.

And, then last month, there are the Emmy Awards. "30 Rock" is nominated for a dozen or so. Alec Baldwin is considered a shoo-in winner for Best Actor, although I know that this will never happen. Most of my actor friends say he is widely hated in those circles. He is regarded as a "lazy" actor---one who does the barest mininum in choices and is not particularly generous with his fellow castmates. Indeed, he does not win. But, "30 Rock" is named Best Comedy. NBC pumps this new to the rafters as they barely renewed it for a second season, since it ranked 105 out of 104 shows last year.

Hmmm, thinks I. Time for a revisit. After all, according to my well-researched theory, most comedy shows don't hit their stride for the first season or two as writers learn to hit the voices of their cast. If you look at the most successful TV comedies, the ultimate creativity usually is achieved in Seasons 3 through 5. Those are the peak performance years. After that, the actors start to phone it in and the writers spend more time working on their screenplays at Starbucks. But, I digress...

I checked into "30 Rock" for its first two episodes of the second season.

I didn't laugh once.

I sat stonefaced like Buster Keaton.

Each episode was essentially four or five SNL sketches stitched together with a bare bones plot. The alleged "new" Mary Richards is an incredbily unlikeable character, played by somebody who really can't act beyond reading a Weekend Update teleprompter. As for Alec Baldwin, his performance pretty much matches his girth: bloated. Moreover, I can't really connect with the setting of the show. Who cares about the funny antics of a Lorne Michaels-like live variety show? I always thought that the early goings on of SNL with Belushi, Akyroyd, and enough drugs to stock a Walgren's would be great fodder for a feature film. As a weekly sitcom, who can identify with these folks as an extension of your family? Because, at the end of the day, all sitcoms are about a family of characters that can provoke some small semblance of recognition to our own lives.

Have I lost the ability to understand the concept of "funny" anymore? Is it an age thing? While I don't get "30 Rock," I'm certainly enjoying the first weeks of "Big Bang Theory," which clearly targets twenty-somethings as its primary audience.

I am hoping that my failure to appreciate "30 Rock" is simply no different than my dislike of certain foods like asparagus and sushi. But, there is still that nagging thought...

Is it me?

Dinner last night: German cervelat on baquette with side salad.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Monday Morning Video Laugh - October 15, 2007

Morons all.

Dinner last night: Fried chicken.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

My Top 25 Favorite Films: #25!

Okay, I can hear the groans.

"I've never heard of this movie."

"Is this going to be what this top 25 favorite film list is going to be like?"

"Thanks for the curveball, Len."

Well, in my book, this movie totally qualifies for a myriad of reasons.

"Since You Went Away" came out in 1944 and it is 100% devoted to the homefront during WWII. For what "Mrs. Miniver" and "Hope and Glory" did for the London bombings (and I have a good friend who lived through that), "Since You Went Away" wonderfully depicts life in the United States when most men were overseas someplace and completely out of touch with their family and loved ones. David O. Selznick produced it and hoped to do for World War II what his earlier effort "Gone With the Wind" did for the Civil War. Yes, it's almost three hours long, but it sails by and, for me, is a big screen version of the best macaroni and cheese you can ever eat.

Claudette Colbert plays the mother of Jennifer Jones and Shirley Temple (here, she's a teenager and Bill Robinson-less). The family is semi-well-to-do and lives in Everytown, USA. Hattie McDaniel, who was obviously highlighted in Selznick's phone book for all servant roles, is their housekeeper and there is not a single stereotypical note to her performance. You never see the father as he has just left for active duty on Christmas Eve as the film opens. What follows is a year in the life of the Hilton family with Dad gone. You visit USO dances. You experience food rationing and scrap metal drives. You watch as neighbors lose loved ones in battle and then sense the uneasiness as others in the community grapple to find the right words to comfort them. It is probably the truest picture of life in our country as that war raged on in Europe and the South Pacific. The courage. The resiliency. The dread. It is all here in this terrific slice of Americana.

The tearful railroad goodbye scene between real-life lovers Robert Walker and Jennifer Jones is still referenced by film historians today. And Claudette Colbert was so warm and inviting that I wished I was part of the family. And, in a way, I was.

I came to see this movie for the first time about 15 years ago. I've probably seen it once a year ever since. Because it opens and closes on Christmas Eve, it can serve as a holiday movie. For me, it is a annual reminder of my grandmother, who was a mother during World War II. And she shared virtually all of the stories that are portrayed on screen. On cold winter Sunday afternoons, I would sit in her living room and hear about rationing and community dances and the fear that wrapped around you when a letter from the government arrived in the mail. She lost a son in France in 1945---I was named after him. This movie gives me more than a history lesson. It gives me back my grandmother one more time.

"Since You Went Away" turns up on Turner Classic Movies. It is worth three hours of your time. And, if the calendar says December, it is even better. I defy you not to well up at the end of Act 1 or just prior to the finale. I double defy you.

Dinner last night: Chicken tenders at the Arclight after seeing "Michael Clayton."

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Coming Soon to a Computer Near You


In response to many of your e-mails, I am going to try a new weekly feature here starting tomorrow. From my various movie commentaries on this blog, more than one of you (that's a lot in my book) have asked me to compile a list of my Top 25 personal favorite movies. Not sure why anybody would care, but it was actually tons of fun for me to sit down and rate some of my favorite cinematic pleasures.

So, I will start to count them down one per week, starting at #25. What constitutes a favorite movie in my lexicon? Well, it's a film that I visit regularly. Like meat loaf and gravy on a winter's day, these are movies that are visual comfort food for me. Movies that I watch to re-experience the exhileration of seeing them for the first time or the seventeenth time. Films that, despite repeated viewings, I still find something new in with each successive viewing.

I will detail each film's place in my life. More than just a discussion of the movie, I will recount the reasons why it holds a special place on my mental shelf. In this case, it will be more than just the actor, the director, or the story that moves me. It will be all about the complete cinematic experience and how these movies came to be the warm sweater in my closet.

I'm looking at the complete list right now and I can give you these sneak previews.
There is only one movie on the list that was made after 1975.

There is one silent movie.

There is one Woody Allen movie, but not one you would expect.

There are six musicals among the top 25.

There are seven movies that won the Best Picture Academy Award.

There is one movie directed by Steven Spielberg.

There are two movies directed by William Wyler.

There are three movies written and directed by Billy Wilder.

There are two movies directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

There is one movie that features James Cagney and another with Ann-Margret.

There is one film with Hattie McDaniel playing a maid and it is not "Gone With the Wind."

There are no cartoons listed nor any Star Wars movies.

There is surprisingly not one single entry produced by Walt Disney.

The only stars that show up more than once on the list are Jack Lemmon, Fred MacMurray, Rock Hudson and Cyd Charisse.

In breakdown by decade, there are two movies from the 1930s, 6 movies from the 1940s, eleven films from the 1950s, three pictures from the 1960s, two movies from the 1970s, and one from the Eighties.

And that's all you get for now.

Tomorrow, we start with #25.

Dinner last night: German cervelat sandwich with German potato salad.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Your October Weekend Movie Guide



For my friends from the Bronx, here's a bus on Fordham Road sometime in 1956. It just went past the RKO Fordham Theater, which is clearly in the background. Now, I know that you are not going to pass by a movie theater this weekend. And, with that in mind, here's my monthly service for you. I'll flip through the LA Times Calendar section and give you my gut reactions on films that are out there, so you can be sure not to make that major moviegoing mistake.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age: Cate Blanchett as the legendary Queen of England. I could feel my eyelids dropping during the trailer.

Lars and the Real Girl: Ryan Gosling plays some moron who has a romantic relationship with a dummy. Could be retitled "The Laura Bush Story."

Lust Caution: Director Ang Lee's latest work about Japanese-occupied China in WW II. It's 2 hours and 40 minutes long and rated NC-17 because there's lot of sex in it. I'll wait for "Charlie Chan Gets a Hickey."

Into The Wild: I'll save you ten bucks right from the getgo. I saw this last week and hated it. It's a true story about some nut who ditches his family to live in the Alaskan woods. Great reviews by a bunch of critics who must be easily entertained by ant farms. The direction by Sean Penn is incredibly self-indulgent. I think anybody who does this wilderness survival bit gets what they deserve, especially if they view wild animals as their friends. Like that guy who was depicted in the documentary "Grizzly Man." He treated all those vicious bears like he was in Frontierland at Disney. And he wound up getting chewed up like a Slim Jim you would buy at the local 7 Eleven.

The Kingdom: A dramatic enactment of terrorism in Saudi Arabia. Not exactly your fun escapist fare. I know some people who walked out of the movie because it was a relentless assault on your senses. I hear the camera shakes so much you're convinced the cinematographer has Parkinson's.

The Final Season: One more of those "feel good" movies about some high school baseball team that wins against unbelievable odds. Obviously, the consultant for the film is not associated with the Mets.

Sleuth: How freakin' clever. A remake that now has Michael Caine in the older role as opposed to the younger role he had in the first version. Next, we'll be seeing Macauley Culkin and Soleil Moon Frye starring in a remake of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married: Not to be confused with Kevin Federline's Why Did I Get Married.

The Game Plan: A Disney family comedy starring The Rock. That sound you're hearing from Forest Lawn is Fred MacMurray turning in his grave.

Michael Clayton: I am hearing great things and reading fabulous reviews. I hope it's not from the same critics who saw "Into The Wild."

Good Luck Chuck: Good Luck, anybody who finds Dane Cook funny.

The Heartbreak Kid: Needless remake. Netflix the original. Ben Stiller will no longer be appearing in the role of King Midas.

We Own the Night: One more look at the NY club and drug scene of the late 80s. Not to be confused with the NY club and drug scene of the late 70s. Not to be confused with the NY club and drug scene of the late 90s.

For The Bible Tells Me So: This documentary sounds interesting. It follows five Christian families in which one of the family members is gay. Hopefully, they will explain why Judas Iscariot got so pissed.

The Darjeeling Limited: Three idiots wandering around India. From the looks of the trailer, it looks like they outsourced the script. No wonder Owen Wilson was depressed.

The Jane Austen Book Club: Try to find a guy anywhere in the audience. A straight guy, that is.

Across the Universe: This love story set to Beatle music is apparently attracting teenage girls by the carload. And you thought they were just "one hit wonders."

Feel The Noise, Dream Out Loud: The ad features four very scary words. "From Producer Jennifer Lopez."

The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford: At a length of almost three hours, it took less time for them to catch up to the real guy. Or type out the title.

The Brave One: Still hanging around theaters. Jodie Foster as Bernard Goetz with mascara. Or is that redundant?

Dinner last night: Chicken Piccata.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

More Legend Demolition

In an earlier post on Tom Carvel, I mentioned my encounter with Mickey Mantle and his attempt to lure a nun to his hotel room. Would you believe I got two e-mails that actually questioned the validity of this story? I had to be making this up because a Yankee legend would never do something as audacious as this.

Oh, gimme a friggin' break. Have you ever paid attention to baseball history? The guy was a mean drunk who was abusive to a lot of people. You keep hearing about how his career would have been a lot more productive without all the injuries. Yeah, well, it's a well known fact that excessive alcohol drains body muscles of all their resiliency. How many times did he sit out half-seasons due to hamstring pulls? He was his own worst enemy and certainly not worthy of anybody's sympathy.

And guess what? I've got another tale that will illuminate how much of a dirtbag the Mick was. And it also makes somebody else look pretty stupid as well, so it's certainly my kind of fun tale. And it really did happen. I heard it from a friend who saw and heard it all on one of Mickey's last appearances at that annual funeral requiem, better known as Yankee Oldtimers Day. My friend was on the field as a guest of another more reputable Yankee oldtimer and he also backs up the story.

Comedian Billy Crystal was hanging around during the Oldtimers pre-festivities. As you probably know, Billy fancies himself as the ultimate Yankee fan. In fact, he would have you believe that there was no such thing as Yankee baseball until he walked up the Stadium ramp during some game in the fifties. He's absolutely nauseating with his fervor and, on this day, running around the field in a Yankee uniform like some Little Leaguer who missed his daily Ritalin. Because he met Mickey Mantle on the Dinah Shore show some years back, he somehow translated that into some lasting friendship with #7. If you watch the special features on the "61*" HBO movie DVD that Crystal directed (and it is admittedly a great movie and 100 times better than that "Bronx is Burning" crap from ESPN), you will hear all about Billy's ongoing love affair with his favorite centerfielder. Who knows how much of it was true? I figure most of this was scripted in Billy's version of unreality. On this day, Crystal's goal is to stand in the outfield and have a catch with his buddy the Mick. Gag.

Billy makes himself a pest chasing the big Texas lug all over the place. Finally, he sidles up to #7 and virtually begs him to play catch with him for a few minutes. I hear that Mantle rolled his eyes and finally acquieced to the request.

They're tossing it around in the outfield. Crystal has a grin that stretchs all the way up Jerome Avenue to Fordham Road. Finally, Mantle waves him over. Billy runs up like a kid that has been summoned to the candy store. He thanks Mickey profusely and runs off to presumably change his soiled underwear. Mickey turns to my friend and the other Yankee Oldtimer who witnessed the entire exchange.

"Can you believe I had to play catch with that stupid goddamn Jew?"

Yep, a Yankee great.

Dinner last night: BLT at Cage 50s.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Mid-Week Gut Check


Well, since you're just hanging around here. Be forewarned: we are baseball heavy today.

---The Mets still one game back?

---There is ice skating in Hell. I found myself rooting for the Yankees in their losing cause on Monday night, just to spite George Steinbrenner, who says Torre is gone without a playoff victory.

--- The amazing thing here is that George can actually put several words into a coherent sentence.

---I never thought Torre was the brightest guy in the world, but you can't argue with the success he's had. Especially working for that throwback to Colonel Klink as his boss.

---People don't realize how hard it is to get to the playoffs. Torre managed it 12 times in 12 years. With a team constructed for a fantasy baseball league. Full of bloated egos and wallets.

---GM Brian Cashman has spent over 300 million dollars for lousy pitchers. Heck, he offered me a three year contract last spring.

---By the way, Carl Pavano got 10 million dollars this year and he had as many victories as I did in 2007.

---Meanwhile, Fathead George doesn't know how good he has had it.---These days, instead of yelling at people, George probably just throws his oatmeal.

---This bastard was no damn good when he was lucid. Can you imagine how horrible he is now that he drools all over himself?

---Isn't it time to pick out a casket for him?

---The Yankees have Phil Rizzuto's number on their uniforms now. I guess a link to the Money Store website wouldn't fit.

---When Steinbrenner dies, I think the Yankees honor his memory by having all the players wear a bad toupee for a whole year.

---It took all of 12 hours for the sound bite of Yankee broadcaster/char woman Suzyn Waldman's post game sobbing over the imminent departure of Joe Torre to cross the country and make the Southern California rounds.

---From the way it sounded, she will spend the offseason renting herself out as a mourner for Italian funerals in Brooklyn.

---I can't believe that the Yankees are still carting out that glorified Irish bartender for the seventh-inning stretch rendition of "God Bless America."

---Which, by the way, is not a seventh-inning stretch song.

---The way this Ronan Tynan sings it, they could sell it as a mini-series.

---By the way, nice ears on that idiot. I wonder if he can pick up the NFL package.

---They say he is a good luck charm for the team in the postseason.

---Uh huh. Meanwhile, they haven't won the World Series since this goofball got here.

---That four leaf clover is really poison ivy.

---I love all the postseason drama about pitching somebody on three days' rest. It wasn't too long ago when three days rest was plenty for a starting pitcher.

---Hell, Sandy Koufax won Game 7 of the 1965 World Series on two hours rest.

---Is the Met wake over yet?

---I asked my NY neighbor, a former Brooklyn Dodger and a current NY Met fan, what was worse for him. 1951 or 2007?

---He said, hand downs, it was 1951.

---Now, I'm going to find a Met fan who lived through the Hindenburg disaster to put it all in perspective.

---TBS' coverage of the Division series was not half bad. At least, they got away from the constant shots of worried fans that Fox loves to employ.

---Every fan Fox shows looks like they are waiting for a callback from the oncologist.

---But, yo, TBS, what's with that strange graphic showing how much of a lead somebody is getting off first base? It looks like a backgammon table.

---And, after watching him during their in-studio coverage, will somebody please tell me when Cal Ripken Jr. passed away?

---He had all the vitality of a SAT exam proctor.

---These playoff games are taking four plus hours. What is this? The Director's Cut?

---And, what is FrankTV and why do I care?

---They keep promoting some show with this Frank guy who does one bad imitation after another.

---Like we need one more George Bush impression.

---If you want to impress me with an imitation, do somebody that nobody else does.

---You never see anybody doing an impression of Edgar Buchanan or Arlene Golonka. Why?

---I can get snarky now about TBS' new shows, since they passed on the project we pitched them.

---Watching Phillie manager Charlie Manuel during their loss to the Rockies, he reminded me of an old neighbor who chases you off his front lawn.

---Losing Cub manager Lou Piniella looks at the bright side. He can start Carlos Zambrano next spring on 175 days rest.

---Springsteen is on tour. AGAIN.

---One trick pony.

---You ever hear one of these die hard Springsteen fans talk about seeing him in concert? They have this weird concept of time.

---"I saw Bruce at the Meadowlands and he played for three days."

---"He was so exhausted that he left the stage on a gurney."

---"When I went into the show, it was humid and when I came out, it was snowing."

---It's a freakin' concert by a great musician. And you were there for three hours, tops. Get over it.

---I was giddy with glee when I heard that "The Heartbreak Kid" tanked in its opening weekend. Finally, the public rejects a needless remake.

---So, Ben Stiller and a lot of farting is not a direct line to oodles of money?

---The original from 1972 was fine. A script by Neil Simon with supporting actor Oscar nods to Jeannie Berlin and Eddie Albert. See it sometime.

---Flipping the dials last night, I ran across the last five minutes of that sewer backup called "Dancing with the Non-Stars." They were kicking off this Native American with jet black hair, a ponytail, and a facelift so bad his head looked like a Honeybaked Ham.

---Imagine my surprise when I discovered this was really Wayne Newton!

---With all the money he made in Vegas, he can afford to get plastic surgery from someplace other than Jiffy Lube.

---Danke schoen indeed.

---Driving home from dinner last night, we actually saw a guy driving and doing a crossword puzzle at the same time.

---I rolled down the window and yelled, "Hey, Idiot, what's an eight letter word for 'car crash'? A-C-C-I-D-E-N-T."

---He looked at me like I just drowned his puppy.

---It's your life, jerk. Just don't make it somebody else's.

---The Mets still one back?

Dinner last night: scrambled eggs and chicken sausage at the Cheesecake Factory.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Why I Liked Don Cardwell


Okay, for those of you who are looking at this title and the accompanying picture and are assuming this will be some tired baseball yarn, I would hang in there.

It ain't gonna be what you think.

Alright, at first, it will be.

Don Cardwell was a right-handed journeyman pitcher who had floated around the major leagues starting in 1957. He wound up being traded to the Mets in 1967. When you look at his stats for his three plus years at Shea, they are quite impressive compared to today's hurlers. In 1967, his ERA was 3.57. It dropped to 2.95 in 1968. At an ERA of 3.01 in 1969, Don was indeed one of the unsung heroes of that miraculous season. He only got into one inning of the World Series, but he certainly was one of the main reasons they got there in the first place. I'm remember one twi-night doubleheader in Pittsburgh during that surging September. The Mets won both ends, 1-0. And it was noteworthy because, in both games, the pitchers drove in the lone run. The second game was won by Don Cardwell.

So what was behind my attraction to him? Well, I thought it was really cool that a veteran pitcher like Cardwell was finally getting to enjoy winning baseball after such a long career.

Oh, yeah. And he was also the favorite Met of the first girl I ever liked.

She had first appeared in my Sunday School class somewhere around the era of Cardwell. And my first meeting was certainly a memorable one. Before the Bible studies began, one of the assistant pastors of my Bronx church would conduct a little mini-service for all the kids enrolled in Sunday School. For some bizarre reason, I had left the house that morning without eating breakfast. Perhaps my father had been a little late with his Sunday morning ritual of stocking up with enough jelly donuts to choke a diabetic horse. Nevertheless, the emptiness of my stomach somehow floated up to my head. Because, as the assistant pastor led us in the Lord's Prayer, my mind started to drift into a catatonic blackness.

"And the power and the glory, forever and ever."

I started to weave forward.

"Amen."

Clunk.

I apparently landed on my face and cut my chin.

When I came to, the assistant pastor was already attending to me as I was seated back in my chair at the table. In my woozy state, I peered down at the end of the table at my new friend. Her look of concern made me weak in the knees all over again.

I immediately made two mental notes. Always eat something before church. And find out what this girl thing was all about.

We wound up in confirmation class together, which ate up two years of Saturday mornings. There were lots of walks to the bus stop. I remember once getting an ice cream cone with her and that was tantamount to heading out to a furniture store and picking out a sofa. There was another girl in the class who also seemed to drift into our midst (translation: got in my way) and I tolerated her, all the time trying to figure out how to "accidentally" throw her in front of the BX 41 bus.

My friend was gold. She seemed to like me. I seemed to love her. And she was the pinnacle of what boys looked for. She could talk baseball with the best of them. Even better, she could talk Met baseball like she was the daughter of Lindsey Nelson. And she loved Don Cardwell for all the reasons I did. This was my Winnie Cooper.

"I now pronounce you boyfriend and girlfriend."

My feelings for her were unfortunately outed by a very unlikely accomplice. My own father.

Her grandfather would pick her up after church every Sunday. He would wait for her in pretty much the same spot as my dad would. One Sunday, she got into her car. I got into mine.

It took a few blocks before I noticed that, as her grandfather bobbed and weaved through the streets of the Bronx, my father was making all the same moves. It suddenly became illogical to me. I wanted to ask my father what the hell he was doing, but I was afraid it would wind up as a protracted dialogue about something serious that I wasn't ready to share with a parent. So I say quietly in horror as he followed her car.

Left turn. Right turn. Right turn. Left turn. Right turn.

WTF, Dad!!!

About one car length forward, she was starting to have the same realization. As she looked out the back window of her car, she had this concerned look. It was as if Princess Diana saw the paparazzi tailing her limo. My friend's look said it all.

"What the heck are you doing?"

What these two unsuspecting 11 year-olds did not know was that, the very night before, Mayer's Restaurant, the premier restaurant and reception hall of the Bronx, had burned to the ground. It was all over the radio that morning, and my father, being the deluxe rubber necker of all time, wanted to see the cinders. Apparently so did her grandfather.

The following Sunday, she asked me why we had followed her car. I stammered like Ralph Kramden and told her the truth. It sounded like a lie.

The two years of confirmation study was an exercise in how a young male calculates endlessly to always someway wind up in a girl's vicnity. I timed my entrances and exits to hers. I always figured out just how much available pew space there was so we could sit next to each other. Most people would come home from church feeling cleansed and renewed. I would crawl in with my head aching from all the strategy I needed to formulate just to be near her.

When we were finally confirmed, the pastor took the whole class to Rye Playland for a day. That presented a whole new world of dating architecture. Now I had to time everything so we wound up on rides together. I suddenly realized that day how easy it was becoming.

Because she was doing the same thing.

My mother had forgotten to pack me a lunch that day. So, when it came time for the midday sustenance, I sat there at the picnic bench like Oliver Twist. The pastor offered to buy me a hot dog. She jumped in quickly.

"He can have half of my bologna sandwich."

We might as well have consummated it right then and there on the grass outside the Dragon Coaster.

And I hated bologna.

But not that day. It was Oscar Meyer's finest nitrate production ever.

We got a little older, but, unfortunately, it ended before all the good stuff. After one summer away from church, I discovered her family had moved to New Jersey.

And the Mets sold Don Cardwell to the Atlanta Braves on July 12, 1970.

Years later, I was in college but still hanging onto my childhood church. As I snooped around the guestbook in the vestibule one Sunday, I saw an eyepopping entry dated the previous Christmas Eve. Her family had been there! And where had I been? At some relative's house watching a family argument.

Crap.

Of course, in college, I was already dwelling on the lost opportunities of my life. And there was nobody at Fordham who could hold a candle to her. I started to think. If her family had visited their old church one Christmas Eve, maybe it was a new tradition. It might have been July, but I already started to plan my outfit for December 24.

It couldn't have arrived more quickly. At Christmas Eve, I sat with my father's cousin, but she would easily be dispensed with if luck would....

....have it. There she was! Two pews over to the left.

"Joy to the World!"

After service, everyone mingled on the icy 219th Street. Even in the cold night air, she immediately recognized me. It was probably the first time she had ever seen in my shaving era. Lou Brock couldn't have moved faster as she came over. The hug couldn't have been warmer.

Her family busied themselves off to the side as we caught up. On high school. On college. She was going someplace in the boondocks of Pennsylvania. It was nice. It was easy. It was special. I asked for her address (pre e-mail days, sports fans) and she offered it willingly so we could stay in touch. Making more seasonal small talk, I inquired what she got for Christmas.

"Engaged."

She held up the ring for me to see.

Oh.

The snow flurries around me picked up with intensity as if my life was being orchestrated by a production manager for a Lifetime movie.

We parted company, pledging to stay in touch. After one written volley in the mail, it all ended.

Not knowing her married last name, even Google searches have come up empty for future reference.

I do know that Don Cardwell will be 72 on December 7. I hope he's doing well. He would be happy to know that, in two recent productions I have written, the female lead's last name has been Cardwell.

Dinner last night: Beef Stroganoff and stuffed tomato.