Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday Morning Video Laugh - June 30, 2008

Especially for the graduating senior in your life.




Dinner last night: "Cleaning out the refrigerator in NY" leftovers.

Tomorrow; Back in humidless LA.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

My Top 25 Favorite TV Shows: #14!



A pet peeve of my writing partner is a TV show set in a working environment where you never see the people actually working. His prime example is the old "Mary Tyler Moore Show." A major market newsroom. There were about four people working there at any given time. And all they were doing was sitting at their desks while Mary and Murray chatted.
You cannot make the same claim about "Lou Grant." No characters on TV worked harder than those employees in the Los Angeles Tribune newsroom. They work, they research stories, they write, and they then work and research some more. Indeed, I'd be hard pressed to tell you anything about the personal lives of the characters. Unless, of course, they were discussing it at the local watering hole. After long hours of work.
There was also no other TV show that so realistically depicted the world of journalism as "Lou Grant" did. They grabbed onto any current issue in our country and immediately turned it into some weekly plot that somehow managed to be balanced, unbiased, and....gasp, entertaining.
Maybe the reason why I loved "Lou Grant" so much is because, to this day, I have always been an avid reader of the daily newspaper. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure I learned to read because my dad used to buy not one, not two, but three daily NY papers. And, for some goofy reason, he used to go down and wait at the subway station every night for the delivery of the next day's Daily News---the Night Owl edition. In those days, they were pretty proud to boast that you could "read tomorrow's news tonight." Totally useful unless you were looking for any baseball scores. But, like clockwork, my dad would wait for that newspaper delivery every night at 830PM. He'd bring them home and then I would devour them. Well, not the whole paper. But, I would zero in on the baseball page, the movie listings, and the comics. I was five years old. A year later, on one of my first days in the first grade, there was a newspaper on the teacher's desk. I picked it up and started to read it to the class, much to Mrs. McKnight's surprise. Before I knew it, I had been dragged down to the principal's office so he, too, could hear my rendition of that day's adventures with Dagwood.
About a week later, I was in the second grade. And I have the daily newspaper to thank for the educational shortcut.
So, even now, there is always a newspaper in my daily regimen. The news. The sports. The comics. The Sudoku puzzle. Whatever the city, whatever the season. In California, the LA Times is left in front of my door by 6AM. And, sometime before 10AM, I am spending quality time with some black and white print.
Sundays are no different. Indeed, they're even more special because it takes more time to sift through all the sections. When I see "Lou Grant" reruns today, my appreciation for this traditional news dispersal is enhanced anew. The fictional LA Tribune on that show was a dying breed even when it first appeared on TV screens in the late 70s. Now, newspapers are dropping like the flies they used to swat. And I cringe at the thought of a day without them.
I can still see "Lou Grant" episodes on Hulu.com or the American Life TV network. And I am amazed all over again at the performance of Edward Asner as the lead character. Consider that Lou Grant, as a character, started out on the half-hour "Mary Tyler Moore" sitcom. In that forum, he was a cartoon---a hard-boiled alcoholic with a heart of gold. Prone to screaming and temper tantrums. Somehow, on Lou's route to the cast list of a dramatic TV show, the character evolved into a multi-layered individual. You can still see the original comedic threads, but there is now so much more. It is fascinating to me that Asner and the writers managed to achieve such a changeover. Truly one of the greatest creative transitions ever created for the small screen.
I can wax even more poetically about "Lou Grant," but I can't ignore one more baseline reality. The show gave me actress Linda Kelsey every week and I could watch her read the classified ads.
But, only those classified ads that you would find in a daily newspaper. If you're reading this entry right now, do me a favor. Turn off the freakin' computer and go open up the paper. There is nothing like it.
Dinner last night: Post Subway Series supper at Athena Diner---Virginia Ham dinner.














Saturday, June 28, 2008

Classic Newsreel of the Month - June 2008

When that bridge in Minnesota collapsed last year, there was tons of press coverage. Years ago, this bridge had its own issues, and you only found out because of this newsreel.




Dinner last night: Chinese buffet at Ocean Empire in Pomona---a graduation celebration.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Get That Off!

This is a car radio from a 1967 Buick LeSabre, which is pretty much what my father was tooling around in back when. Hopefully, this post will spark a lot of interaction with you all. Because I'm thinking about songs that come on while you're driving. The absolute dreck that your finger can't click off fast enough. Hit ditties that were inexplicable. Ear garbage. I have a few that instantly come to mind and I'm betting you will all be able to tell me some of yours.

Margaritaville: That crap sung by Jimmy Buffett. I can recognize it coming on the radio within a few notes and I am happy to say that my trigger finger can react with a split second. A big hit when it came out in 1977, I have never like this mess because it is essentially a national anthem for the homeless bum. Come on...

Nibblin' on sponge cake,
Watchin' the sun bake
All of those tourists covered with oil.
Strummin' my six-string
On my front porch swing,
Smell those shrimp; they're beginning to boil.

Get a freakin' job, you drunken slob.

Time in a Bottle: Actually, I will immediately change the channels when any Jim Croce song comes on. They are annoying and depressing and resonate today only because the guy and his career nosedived out of the sky in 1973. Yawn and click.

Don't Worry, Be Happy: Don't listen, be even happier. This was a huge hit by Bobby McFerrin in 1988 and, as soon as those faux calypso strains start to emanate from my speakers, I get sick to my stomach as if I had ingested some rancid jerk chicken. Frankly, I can lose all that reggae shit. Plus it reminds me of all those Haitians and Jamaicans that run the city government of my hometown, Mount Vernon, New York, into the dirt. They have essentially turned a proud city into an expanded chicken coop.

We Built This City: Starship's # 1 hit from 1985 and it may be linked to brain cancer. I read where one guy tortured himself by listening to it over and over for 24 hours straight. And they're complaining about waterboard torture? The military should use it for just those reasons and I'm betting no one will come after this country ever again. There are versions of the song that include a traffic report, which renders the senseless even more senseless.

American Pie: As soon as this Don McLean crap, a bizarre # 1 hit from 1972, comes on, I change the dial quickly. And know not to turn back to that radio station for another 20 minutes or so, because the song is that freakin' long. My only thought for its popularity is that there was an epidemic of deafness in the United States in the early 70s. It's allegedly about Buddy Holly, who's probably much happier being in Heaven far, far away from anybody playing this swill. The lyrics are so super whiny...

A long, long time ago I can still remember how that music used to make me smile and I knew if I had my chance that I could make those people dance and maybe they'd be happy for a while but February made me shiver with every paper I delivered, bad news on the door step, I couldn't take one more step, I can't remember if I cried when I read about his widowed bride but something touched me deep inside, the day, the music, died. So...

Wah, wah, wah. You can add to this hatred the fact that Don McLean was supposedly one of the biggest jerks ever to walk the Earth. Drive your Chevy off a cliff, please.

Okay, gang, what qualifies as aural pollution in your world?

Dinner last night: Sandwich and macaroni salad at the NY abode.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Top 10 Automatic E-mail Replies

The business world, with technology now designed to make our careers easier, is now virtually hamstrung by e-mails. You see it every day. Sixteen different exchanges to answer one single question. And then everybody has to add their two cents.

"Thanks."

"No problem."

"You're welcome."

Eventually you get a courtesy from about 16 other people who were only slightly connected to the original question. There was a day here in my LA place of business when the e-mail server went down for an entire morning. No one knew how to proceed. The world, or at least ours, was stopped in its orbit.

Then, you get the automatic replies. There are those with signatures that will include the disclaimer. "Please excuse any typos as I frequently type on a Blackberry." How about using a spellcheck so we don't have to figure out what you are trying to say when you ask me to "prease hondle"?

And then there are the out-of-office replies. Some are short and sweet. Others go into more detail than the Books of Acts in the New Testament. Frankly, if you're not there, I don't care. Have yourself a good time doing whatever you love to do in your leisure time. I don't need to know more than that.

The following came to me in an e-mail but it perfectly illuminates the whole phenomenon. Enjoy. And, yes, the screen shot here is my office computer.

1. I am currently out of the office at a job interview and will reply to you if I fail to get the position. Please be prepared for my mood.

2. You are receiving this automatic notification because I am out of the office. If I was in, chances are you wouldn't have received anything at all.

3. Sorry to have missed you, but I'm in surgery having my brain and heart removed so I can be promoted to our management team.

4. I will be unable to delete all the emails you send me until I return from vacation. Please be patient, and your mail will be deleted in the order it was received.

5. Thank you for your email. Your credit card has been charged $5.99 for the first 10 words and $1.99 for each additional word in your message.

6. The email server is unable to verify your server connection. Your message has not been delivered. Please restart your computer and try sending again.

7. Thank you for your message. You are now in queue. You are currently in 352nd place, and can expect to receive a reply in approximately 19 weeks.

8. Hi, I'm thinking about what you just sent me. Please wait by your PC for my response.

9. I've run away to join a different circus.

10. I will be out of the office for the next two week for medical reasons. When I return, please refer to me as "Lucille" instead of "Steve."


Dinner last night: Salad bar from Gelson's.

Tomorrow: From NYC one more effin time.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Double Coupon Wednesdays


This blog entry will not be 12 items or less.

---Ralph's Supermarkets in California will stop doubling coupons this week. We can now safely take scissors away from all those senior citizens.

---Now, people over 75 are going to have to find something else to sort through every Sunday.

---Of course, I expect lots of hoarding. Try and find any Polident or Depends by the end of the week.

---Speaking of groceries, how freakin' lazy is this?? Smuckers now puts out a pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the crust already cut off. All you do is thaw it out for an hour and then give it to Junior for lunch.

---One more time. I blame Oprah.

---How goddamn busy are parents that they can't make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for their kid?? For Pete's sake, you can make 12 sandwiches in the time it will take Dumbbell Mom or Dad to thaw one out.

---This is the only country in the universe that should have a built-in laugh track.

---And while we're shopping, doesn't new Met Manager Jerry Manuel look like the night manager at your local A & P?

---He's supposedly going to be the big difference for this team. Maybe they will finish above .500.

---Except he's already likened the Met fans to "fertilizer."

---From what I can see, the only real manure still remains on the field.

---And that means you, Carlos Delgado.

---By the way, Met owner Fred Wilpon came out and said that he really liked Willie Randolph despite the fact they fired him.

---And everytime I hear Fred talk these days, he reminds me of some guy at the home waiting for his afternoon Jell-O.

---I'm betting Fred is first in line for those pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

---The other night at Dodger Stadium, there was some gasbag behind me with his kids. And he was sharing with them his baseball knowledge.

---Except everything he told them was a blatant lie or downright wrong. I felt like I was listening to a DVD box set of Keith Olbermann.

---Behind every stupid kid is a stupid parent.

---Even Tori Spelling has a child, gang.

---I love all these polls coming out now. Every news publication has some sort of "numbers" on the upcoming Presidential election.

---Obama up by 12 points. McCain ahead by 2 points. Blah, blah, blah.

---Why do we even bother to go through the vote? Let's just get it over with now. Anoint one or the other so we can all simply go hide under our beds for the next four years.

---Obviously, Obama thinks the race is over. He already has trotted out his own logo, which looks very much like the official Presidential seal.

---The guy is so sure he's getting in that I heard he's already erecting some white columns around his house.

---Of course, he was smart enough to stop using the seal after one day. His campaign is now selling them as Frisbees on E-Bay.

---Meanwhile, Middle America females, AKA morons, are all dying to buy the dress Michelle Obama wore when she guested on that hen party called "The View."

---If they all want to emulate her, they should talk to people who used to work with Ms. Obama and hear their take on the future First Lady.

---"She's a %$%#% (*&)^ @!+%.

---And I edited that down.

---I hope they don't start copying Cindy McCain with that goofy hairdo. We'll wind up with a nation full of Marge Simpsons.

---By the way, Ms. Obama needs to stop with the knuckle bump nonsense. Ballplayers were doing that five years ago. And, as far as I know, she hasn't hit any walk-off doubles lately.

---I'd love to bump my knuckles with her.

---And I'm aiming from the neck up.

---A true story from my apartment last night: Around 6PM, the phone rings and I answer it. On the other end of the conversation is clearly the voice of a Black woman.

---"Hey, I'm out on the street and looking for a john."

---HUH?

---There are certain moments where my cleverness and speed don't match up. Here are some replies I wish I had come back with.

---"Well, there's a bathroom down at McDonald's."

---"Sorry, I already gave money to Hillary Clinton."

---"Mom?"

---But, alas alack, all I could muster up was...

---"Boy, do you have the wrong number!"

---Heck, for all I know, I could have been speaking to the next Secretary of State.

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




Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Photo Essay - A Day in My Dodger Stadium Seats

As promised when I bought that digital camera, some nifty photo essays depicting my bi-coastal world were due to come. Here's a pictorial encapsulation of a day (actually shot over a Friday night and a Sunday afternoon) spent on the Loge Level, Aisle 144, Row G, Seats 1 and 2 at Dodger Stadium. Follow me to the game.

Here's my entrance to the loge level conveniently located steps away from my reserved parking space. They've changed the parking patterns around the stadium and I now get to ease in and out of my designated lot ever so quickly. It's almost like I'm on the preferred side of the velvet rope at the Kodak Theater. They've been putting these player pictures outside the stadium for a while, but, given this year's 50th Anniversary celebration, they now use former stars of the past. That's a lot better than when they would put up current players and then be forced to remove them in July after the players are released on waivers. I can swear that, during the 2007 season, they needed to use two panels for the photo of bloated pinch hitter Olmedo Saenz.

Here are my two season seats. As I am in Shea, the aisle seats make it a lot roomier. Plus, for some reason at Dodger Stadium, you're not constantly standing up to let people out. Maybe it's because there's nobody else in the row for the first three innings. I have no idea who the guy is in the row behind me, but he refused to move despite the fact I was trying to take this picture.

A nighttime view of Diamond Vision from my seats. A nighttime view of the famous scoreboard from my seats. The Dodgers would tie the game in the ninth inning and then lose in the tenth.

Here's a nighttime view of the action from my seats.

And a daytime shot of Dodger pitcher Chad Billingsley's follow-through.

Here's a shot of the longtime usher of my section. His name is Richard and, unlike the surly ushers at Shea, I have never seen him get a tip. I have also never seen him stand alongside you with his hand out. Yet, I have seen Richard assist people up the stairs, let folks use his badge for a discount at the souvenir stand, carry food trays, hand out game notes that he gets from the camera guy (a big help for scorers like me), and always, always, always smile. Except in this picture as he is still recovering from the Lakers' loss to the Celtics. Or maybe he realized I was taking this photo.

And a glorious daytime shot of the scoreboard. Everybody is huddled in the shade because it was 95 freakin' degrees in the sun. Even I moved undercover. Thanks to the aforementioned Richard who secured some aisle seats for me in the shade. And he still wouldn't take a buck.


Dinner last night: Dried cappacollo sandwich with leftover German potato salad.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday Morning Video Laugh - June 23, 2008

George Carlin has died and we now will all finish one laugh short.



Dinner last night: Chicken salad wrap and homemade German potato salad.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

My Top 25 Favorite TV Shows: #15!

Here comes an odd admission.

I used to have a crush on Ronny Howard. Oh, not in a sexual way, since I was not even in double digits of age at the time. But, I really wanted to be his friend. Well, maybe Opie Taylor's friend. So, I could live in Mayberry, hang out with the kid, and do everything you can do on a summer's day in your average American small town. With Andy, Barney, Floyd, Gomer, Goober, Helen, Thelma Lou, Aunt Bee, and Otis.

My weekly desire to be a part of this world resulted in a fairly regular battle with the Warden of Bedtime, namely my mother. You see, for a while, "The Andy Griffith Show" aired on Monday nights at 930PM. The problem was that, in those formative Wonder years, my bedtime on school nights was 830PM. After much negotiation, my mother added an amendment to the Parental Constitution and extended my bedtime on Monday night to 10PM. Sweet. Of course, there was the fine print disclaimer that often now follows most TV ads for pharmaceuticals. I could stay up to watch Andy provided I had gotten to bed at the regular time on Sunday night.

It didn't take me long to figure out that I had been snookered on this one. Because, indeed, we were always visiting some relative on Sunday and usually never got home until 9PM or later. The biggest fly in the household ointment was if we had traveled to visit my aunt and uncle in Deer Park, Long Island. Over an hour away. This is not the way you learn to love your relatives. If we had gone out to Suffolk County, I would be relentless in my behavior. Starting around 5PM, I would start the patented whine.

"Can we go soon?"

"Can we go home now?"

"I'm tired."

It became a race to get home so I could hit the hay by 830PM. After a while, my bedtime on Monday was permanently unrestricted. Perhaps they were tired of hearing me bitch, moan, and groan at some family gathering. And I didn't really lose that much sleep since I always managed to catch up on the ZZZZs in class the next day. It also helped that CBS eventually bumped Andy up to 9PM.

Unlike some of the other sitcoms I liked as a kid, "The Andy Griffith Show" was quieter and softer in its approach to humor. It was simple. It was homespun. It was virtually devoid of any of the usual complications offered by life. Even the romance was sweeter. When you would see Andy in a loving moment with girlfriend Helen Crump, there was usually nothing more than hand holding or a peck on the cheek. I do, however, recall one episode where Andy was reunited with an old high school flame. At the end of the show, Andy gave her a dead-on,, right on the mouth, probably a little tongue kiss. It was jarring and now widely regarded by devout fans as one of the worst episodes in the entire series.

Andy Griffith was also a very wise actor. In the first year, Sheriff Andy Taylor comes off as a country bumpkin with lots of "gollee" and "shucks." He knew that, ultimately, this would sink the show. So, he eased his portrayal into more of a straight man and he let all the wonderfully drawn supporting actors get all the laughs. It made for a much richer series. And one that I liked a great deal. This was back in the day when the stars stayed in character to shill for their sponsors. Here's Andy teaching Barney all about the benefits of Sanka Coffee.


I understand that Andy himself used to come to my apartment building frequently to visit the ailing Don Knotts, who died just one month before we moved in. I wished that I would have run into him in the elevator while I was getting the mail. I could have shared with him my fervent love of this series.

I could also have asked what time he made Opie go to bed on Monday nights.

Dinner last night: Garlic noodles with chicken at CPK.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Classic Movie Trailer of the Month - June 2008


They don't make this like they used to. Here's what movie audiences in 1956 saw about the coming of "The Ten Commandments."




Dinner last night: Ham French Dip at Philippe's---Friday pre-game meal.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Dumbest Teacher of the Year



Hey, we have annual awards saluting some of the great educators of our land. Why shouldn't we have one on the flip side? And the lady pictured with her class to the right wins hands down on my ballot.

There are frequently news stories in the daily paper that boggle my mind. This is one of them. The LA Daily News ran a column on North Hills teacher Danielle Quinto. It seems this woman, with a bunch of 9-year-olds entrusted to her on a daily basis, was challenged by the kids' notion that day laborers are all scary people.

Confused? I'll back up a bit. Here, in Southern California, day laborers, frequently known as illegal aliens, can be hired at the drop of a sombrero. If you need a slab of cement moved around your house, you simply drive down to the local Home Depot where you will find them hanging around the parking lot, ready to be hired at the drop of a dollar bill. You also find them scurrying around car washes, construction sites, and strip malls. Want your garage cleaned? Basement gutted? Car detailed? They would be one of your options. Cheaper than using a licensed contractor, of course. Illegal? You bet your green card.

So, the kids in Quinto's class mention that they are very leery of these folks. Ms. Teacher, obviously bored with such class field trip options as the LA Zoo and the Griffith Park Observatory, gets a 30 watt light bulb of an idea. Why not take 25 children down to the parking lot adjacent to the Home Depot in North Hollywood so they can meet these people? And learn that day laborers are not all that sinister.

Inexplicably, she gets the consent of all parents. Six mothers, who are now officially designated as idiots, even show up to chaperone the expedition, probably just for an excuse to meet their friends and compare prices for Pergo tiles. Armed with bologna sandwiches and apples, off they all troop for their great adventure.

The class interviews the day laborers, who are apparently "quite moved" by all the attention. One starts to cry. What transpires is nothing short of a Hallmark Channel movie. The kids go back to class and now understand that you should not judge a person so quickly. Under the goofy Quinto's direction, they then craft a news release that illustrates their new-found realization and it is sent out to media outlets all over Los Angeles. They even pledge to raise money to give to these guys so they can all upgrade the tools they use to paste up wallpaper.

Cumbayah, cumbayah.

So, here's these children learned in school that day.

It's totally cool to go and approach any stranger in a parking lot.

Day laborers are good people who need proper tools to do their jobs.

The media will buy into any story whatsoever if it has the slightest hint of squishiness.

Here's what these children did not learn in school that day.

Approaching strangers in a strip mall may not necessarily be the safest thing around.

Most day laborers are illegal aliens, who are trying to earn money so they can bring more of their relatives over the border in the trunk of an Impala.

Crime statistics show that many felonies are commited by illegal aliens.

Day laborers are taking jobs and services away from people who are actually American citizens.

Had Ms. Quinto come back to the class and discussed those facts along with what the kids had just seen, she would have spirited an incredibly balanced and measured lesson, albeit a bit too complicated for a gang of fourth graders. But, instead, she completely ignored the big picture of what is a major issue in this country. And, now, there are 25 more misguided children in our society---with some truly moronic parents apparently in tow.

And, if this chucklehead of a teacher needed more help for a broader dialogue on the topic, she should have been aware of this. Several nights ago, a good friend of mine, who is currently vacationing in New Mexico, learned that her LA home had been ransacked. She lost many impossible-to-replace items and now must go through the thorough inconvenience of piecing together important artifacts of her being. Her robbery was one in a series that has happened in her reasonably fashionable neighborhood. And, now, police are looking at a common thread.

It seems that all of these crimes started when some day laborers started working regularly in the area.

Teach that, Ms. Quinto.

Dinner last night: BLT at Cafe 50's.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Worst Organization in Baseball?



Willie Randolph, you've just been fired as Met manager. What are you going to do?

"I'm going to Disneyland."

Well, conveniently, all Willie really had to do was walk across the street, because the Mets were playing in Anaheim at the time. But, if he really wanted to go on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Willie would have had to wait until the park opened. Hours later. Because, indeed as well reported, he got fired at midnight ironically after a Met victory over the Angels.

So that means Tuesday, June 17 is officially one of the most embarrassing days ever for a Met fan. For an organization that has had many glorious moments on the field of battle, their front office is traditionally inept. If there is absolutely a worst way to fire a manager or trade a player or make some sort of announcement, you can count on the New York Mets to do it. With fanfare. And, throughout a chain of different owners over the past 46 seasons, the consistency to be assholes is amazingly maintained.

The latest jerks in charge are the now doddering Fred Wilpon, still harboring his man crush on Sandy Koufax, and his shithead son Jeff, who will never be confused with anybody possessing a soupcon of class. The two of them have zero knowledge when it comes to running any sort of professional organization regardless of the business involved. I had a protracted correspondence with Junior several years ago when I questioned why season ticket holders were being forced to buy March exhibition game tickets at regular prices. Jeff's response to me was terse, condescending, and inappropriate. So, it's never a surprise to me when he looks like a jerk. Because he really is one. Oddly enough, the Wilpons allegedly used to make fun of their former partner, Nelson Doubleday, who got a little goofy in his later years and frequently was trying to put his socks on over his shoes. But, even baseline senility can be excused when compared to incompetence and stupidity and a lack of civility. The Fred and Jeff Show has cornered the market in all of that. And I'd like to see where Fred's socks are right now. Whatever the comparison, the Wilpons have managed to do the impossible. They have singlehandedly made the Steinbrenners look like the more level-headed baseball owners in NY.

Okay, in baseball, it's usually the manager that is to be blamed. Indeed, baseball managers are hired to be eventually fired. And it happens to all of them from Joe Torre to Art Howe. Maybe Willie Randolph should have been terminated last September when the Mets collapsed like the Bridge at San Luis Rey. Supposedly, Shithead Jeff never even wanted to hire Willie in the first place, despite the fact that all of his baseball acumen could fill a thimble without spilling a drop. And, with the Mets' lousy start this year, Willie became Dead Manager Walking. He probably knew he was managing the next day only if he found a laundered uniform in his locker. There are allegedly leaks all over the clubhouse and Shithead Jeff uses another front office buffoon, Tony Bernazard, as a conduit to the volatile Latin faction in the clubhouse. The Nixon White House didn't have this many cover-ups. Willie couldn't win no matter what he did. He might as well have bought an apartment on the 100th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Indeed, as are most expelled baseball managers, Willie was the victim of a lousy team composition. And the blame for that can be laid solely on the sombrero of GM Omar Minaya, who now moves up one on the ticket buyers' line to see The Grim Reaper. I've written it here before. Omar has constructed a baseball team version of the Buena Vista Social Club and there's absolutely no balance. You're either too Hispanic or too old or perhaps both. Carlos Ohgodno, from a number of reports, is a complete self-centered jerk and now can only hit a fastball thrown by an arcade machine out in Coney Island. Moises Alou can be counted on for about two hours of play per season as he can literally pull a hamstring by brushing his teeth. Pedro Martinez is a shell of his former monster pitching self, and now he's really nothing more than a clubhouse clown with strained calf muscles. Jose Reyes is quite acrobatic and he regularly displays that talent by playing with his head up his ass. The team is really a big hunk of swiss cheese. Lots of holes and what's left stinks. Indeed, the glorious Met team of 2006, which came within one hit of reaching the World Series, was not as good as they played. They were the aberration. This is the same concoction of garbage and it is merely a .500 baseball team. And the notion pervaded by Omar Minaya that this roster is anything more is pure folly regardless of whatever is your designated second language.

So, Willie gets on a plane, flies to the West Coast, wins a game, and is fired anyway. Omar says the firing was a gut reaction. Yet, most of the press had the specifics of the changeover as early as last Thursday. Omar's subsequent statements showed more twists and turns and lies than three seasons of Desperate Housewives. if they were going to can Willie, they should have done it weeks ago. It took less time for us to find out who killed Laura Palmer on Twin Peaks. Yes, Met fans were clamoring for Willie's ouster, even chanting the name of "Bobby V" as a potential replacement. But, it wasn't that long ago that the same fans were yelling for the removal of a previous manager also named "Bobby V." But, regardless of the team performance and the fans and the indecision of an amateurish baseball organization, the whole midnight massacre was despicable and no baseball professional deserved to endure it. Surely and most definitely not Willie Randolph. And, in a year or so, the time will come for Omar Minaya to move onto his next career checking on the heat in some tenement on the Grand Concourse. If he's lucky, his firing won't be delivered via e-mail at 12:13AM in a hotel lobby 3000 miles away from his home.

Ironically, this sewage spill might result in an upside for me and my lingering Saturday plan ticket package. Two Loge seats in my name for every Saturday game at Shea Stadium the past 40 years. The rumor has been there will be no room for partial plan holders in Citi Field. Well, as the stench grows around the Met organization, I am thinking that seat availability at the new park might be improving on an hour-by-hour basis. I have said that, if I am offered a Saturday plan in Citi Field, I would take it.

Today.....I don't think so.

Dinner last night: Pepperoni sandwich.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

If It's Wednesday, This Must Be Me


Round and round and round I go. Where I stop, nobody knows.

---The second of my three cross country sojourns in the month of June went off without a hitch as I close in on over one million miles flown on American Airlines.

---And apparently the banks may be closing in on American, which makes my mileage account as useful as a book of Plaid Stamps.

---When I hit one million, I am supposed to be a preferred American Airlines flyer for life. That, and 3 dollars, gets me a bag of Trail Mix to snack on.

---More and more and more people are walking around airplanes with no shoes on. This makes me want to purposely miss the bowl when I use the bathroom.

---Of course, when one of these morons gets some flesh-eating disease, they will be the first in line to call Jacoby & Meyers.

---My flight to NY took a southernly route to avoid all the Midwestern storms that have turned Iowa into a sewer. I got some great pictures of the Amazon rainforest.

---There was great symmetry watching the Tony Awards while in NY. Although I wish I had heard of any of the nominated plays or musicals.

---There was something called "Passing Strange" with music by Stew---no last name. Apparently none needed.

---There was another concoction called "In The Heights" which looked like outtakes from the old TV show "Fame." It''s bad enough you have to sift your way through this urban blight on the way to the theater. Now you can't escape it inside.

---With seats that were made for asses that had still not been widened by an overdose of Hot Pockets.

---Liza Minnelli was a presenter and she now slurs everything she says. She's either got permanent wet brain or the worst fitting dentures.

---Mario Lopez is playing the director in "A Chorus Line" and that means we are just a little closer to the end of the world.

---What's next? Screech as Mame??

---And, still, the white trash from the Midwest keeps clogging NY's legitimate theater. Where your pre-theater dinner can get a lot cheaper if you have coupons for the Olive Garden.

---They tell you at the end of the Tony telecast. "Please come see a Broadway show."

---Please don't.

---Can we make a deal please? You peckerwoods stay where you live and I will promise never to set foot in Arkansas.

---I also caught up to "Sex And The City" over the weekend. With all the young women supposedly going to see it in groups of four, I got none of that.

---The suburban crowd I saw it with was in between canasta games. They were peeing themselves with laughter. Although I think that would have happened anyway.

---The movie is three days long and needed to be cut. It is essentially the next season of the show played back-to-back.

---Sarah Jessica Parker was shot in such a horrible light that she looked like she was being interrogated at the local police station.

---The Los Angeles Lakers collapsed faster than FDR at Campobello.

---Professional basketball is now impossible to deal with. Between all the shaved heads and the excessive tattoos, you would think you were watching one of this year's Tony nominees for Best Musical.

---It looks like neither of my baseball teams will be playing in October. If this keeps up, I don't even want to see either of them in August.

---The Dodgers are so bad they are actually looking forward to the return of Andruw Jones, when his .170 batting average will actually raise the average of the whole team.

---Not only does Manager Joe Torre miss Derek Jeter, I'm betting he's even thinking fondly of the days when he had Joel Youngblood.

---Most of you won't get that joke, but those that do are laughing hysterically.

---A NY station should now start their nightly news with this: "It is 10PM. Do you know who your Met manager is?"

---Months after he left office, former NY Governor Elliot Spitzer still had more job security than Met Manager Willie Randolph.

---Will somebody please tell Doug Sisk to get out of Aaron Heilman's uniform?

---After a long primary campaign, Barack Obama chose to go on "a date" with his wife. On the other side, Bill Clinton also did the same.

---No word yet on who he went with.

---By the way, Mr. Bill was appearing last night at Radio City Music Hall. And I still think you would get a better show with the Rockettes and an old MGM musical.

---Like one starring Cyd Charisse. Rest in peace.

---Obama spoke at his new church and told Black men that they need to stick around.

---Whatever Black men were still there.

---I wonder if Obama heard his own sermon.

---Shameless plug of the week: The magazine/book containing my essay "The Saturday Plan" is now out on the stands. It is the one that commemorates Shea Stadium and all of the pieces inside are quite good. If you're so inclined, seek it out. I want the check to clear.

---You can find it (no joke) at all Exxon On The Run locations in NY, NJ, and CT. Also at selected Universal News stands in NY. Or at pressboxlegends.com.

---I'm not posting the article here, so you do have to buy it, cheapskates.

Dinner last night: Had a business class lunch on AA Flight 117, so essentially my nighttime meal was a Klondike Bar.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Dying of the Last of a Breed



For reasons never explained to me, my parents had me go with my grandmother on Sunday afternoon visits to some of the older relatives. One such recipient of my grandmother's company would be her sister-in-law, Tante Emma, who lived somewhere near Burke Avenue in the Bronx. I had little control over this situation, so I would just grin and bear it. Two older ladies doing nothing but sitting at the kitchen table and gossiping in German. Tante Emma did her best to keep me amused. She would sit me down in her living room easy chair and pop the TV on.

"Would you like to watch Meet The Press?"

Hello? I am eight years old.

I'm been thinking about this since last Friday when I got off a plane and read the e-mail that this show's host, Tim Russert, had died suddenly. Standing at baggage claim, I spotted what were probably some NBC News folks. The logo on the luggage tags was a dead giveaway. They were staring at the TV screens which were relaying the grim details. They were clearly straining to cope. Indeed, in a small way, so was I.

While I wanted nothing to do with Meet The Press when I was sitting on Tante Emma's plastic slipcovers, that show had become a ritual for me over the past ten years while living in Los Angeles. Because the show was on a live feed, we got it at 730AM on the West Coast and it usually started my Sunday. And, over time, it really became the only TV news show that I would bother to watch. It was balanced. It presented all sides of a political argument. It educated me. And all of the above can be directly attributed to Tim Russert.

In one of the many tributes to him, it should have been no surprise to me that Russert was a registered Independent. That makes him my hero. And perhaps even a saint. Because nowhere in TV news today does such an animal exist. Most journalists are now personalities. They're nothing more than game show hosts with political opinions. You tune to CNN and MSNBC for the Barack Obama pep rallies. You tune to Fox for the latest edition of the George W, Bush Appreciation Society. There are is no gray area anywhere. And, in reality, life as we all know it is nothing but the gray area.

Tim Russert knew that. He presented everything in the most unbiased and non-partisan way he knew how. And he did it in a way that all could understand. Who else could have boiled down the whole 2000 Presidential Election disaster into three words? "Florida! Florida! Florida!" It was concise. It was perfect.

I listened to idiots like Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews extol Russert's virtues. At the same time, they weren't even worthy to work in the same profession that he did so splendidly. There's one more chip in the armor now. Before long, the knight will be totally unprotected.

Oddly, Tim Russert died just before Father's Day. I am thinking about that best selling book he wrote about his dad, who now has outlived his son. I hadn't read it yet. I will now. And, as only the written word can do, thoughts and ideas and feelings are preserved forever.

One last notion: They say that Tim Russert, who looked to be a bit overweight, died at the the virtually unmentionable age of 58 from coronary disease and an enlarged heart. Today, with the wonders of medicine, I wonder how that can even happen. But, then I hear that, on the day before he died, Russert had just returned from a family vacation in Rome. A long, long flight. And I think about the disclaimers in all the flight magazines about DVT. Keep walking. Keep the blood moving. And I wonder if Tim Russert had read them.

Maybe he did. Maybe he didn't. But, perhaps, this is just one thing that we can all learn from him.

Dinner last night: Salami sandwich.

Tomorrow: Ranting from LA.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Monday Morning Video Laugh - June 16, 2008


A rare funny moment from the past 10 years of SNL.




Dinner last night: Sandwich and German potato salad from Lange's Delicatessen in Bronxville.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Top 25 Favorite TV Shows: #16!


"The Dick Van Dyke Show" made me feel like an adult. It made me smarter. It made me want to write. It made me laugh. And it made me funnier.

And I wasn't even a teenager yet.

Actually, while I watched it as a tyke, I didn't really get to appreciate it until it went into reruns after its initial network run. When it first aired, "The DVD Show" was on Wednesday nights, right after "The Beverly Hillbillies," another favorite that I watched religiously with my grandmother. But, after Jed and Granny went off, my grandmother didn't join me in watching Van Dyke and the gang. She would go off to do other things: wash the dentures, pull down the bedspread, or have a nip of Black Berry schnappes if she needed to settle her stomach. She didn't care for the Petries and I never knew why.

Until I finally got the show myself years later. Because, while there were tons of wonderful slapstick, "The DVD Show" was one you had to listen to. Carefully. Because it was rapid fire dialogue that might have gone a little too fast for my grandmother.

On this list of Top 25 Favorite TV Shows, we are heading into a very sitcom-populated territory, and, indeed, each and every one of them forms a lot of me today. Each one was just another writing class. And "The DVD Show" was essentially Sitcom 101 for me.

There are some episodes that stand out for me more than others and I dip into the complete DVD set at least once a year to sample them anew. The one where Laura gets her toe stuck in the bathtub faucet. The walnut dream episode where Mary Tyler Moore comes sliding out of the closet. Or the show when Rob thinks he took the wrong baby home from the hospital. And the one where Laura, on national television, reveals that boss Alan Brady is bald. For some reason, I love this snippet of Richard Deacon, as the ultra put-upon Mel Cooley, demonstrates perhaps the worst ventriloquist act ever.




There is one episode, however, that has never been seen by me again. It's the one where they throw a birthday party for little Ritchie. When I first saw it, I thought it was awful. Had there been a complete shift in writers? The energy was completely off. The acting was terrible. The live audience was replaced by canned laughter. I never could understand how this mess was actually part of this series.

Until years later. When I learned this particular episode was filmed on Tuesday, November 26, 1963. The day after the funeral for President John F. Kennedy.

Great television can be more than just entertaining. In this one case, it's a reflection of American history.

Dinner last night: Baked Virginia Ham sandwich at Athena Diner after a Met rainout.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Million Dollar Movie

Greetings from NYC, where tonight WPIX, Channel 11, will be celebrating their 60th anniversary on the air with a retrospective. But, my thoughts today are drifting more to another channel.

You've already heard countless mention of the old WOR-TV Channel 9 Million Dollar Movie. More than a several of my earliest movie memories come from watching this great television gimmick. They played one movie every night and then all day Saturday and Sunday. If you played your cards right, you could see one film about 9 or 10 times over a seven day period. Excessive? Not if you really, really loved it.

I can remember some of them. Hold That Ghost. Never Wave at a WAC. King Kong. Buck Privates. The Big Circus. What I didn't know is why Channel 9 started this essentially lazy programming approach. From what I have researched, Million Dollar Movie was began in 1954. WOR-TV didn't have a huge film library, but they needed something cheap to bridge together all the nights when their schedule was going to be pre-empted by Brooklyn Dodger games. Once the Dodgers headed west, Channel 9 started airing the Mets, so it was a given that Million Dollar Movie continue.

I remember how grand the theme song was. I was always so impressed that some small TV channel could employ such a great orchestra with such a lush musical composition. Little did this even littler kid know at the time that the Million Dollar Movie theme was indeed the score from Gone With the Wind.

But, nevertheless, here is a version of that very special opening for all the nostalgic buffs in blog world. Enjoy.





Dinner last night: Grilled Chicken and salad.

Friday, June 13, 2008

If A Stanley Cup Falls in the Forest...


Last week, I was in a sports bar having dinner and I glanced up at one of the many LCD TV screens around the place. And I saw some hockey player skating around triumphantly with the Stanley Cup. I had no idea who was playing in the finals. I couldn't really tell who won. (Yes, now I know it was the Detroit Red Wings) I was completely clueless that this was even happening anymore.

Hockey had finally reached a zero level of relevance with me. And I am guessing that's the case with a lot of people.

I used to follow the sport a bit. In college, I became friends with a bunch of hockey fans who lived and breathed with the sport. There were Ranger season tickets all over the place and regular novenas said to St. Eddie Of Giacomin. To fit in with some bunch of lunatics, I started to get involved. My college roommate took me to my first game and I actually enjoyed it, especially since I got to see a very rare penalty shot.

To be the ultimate rebel, I adopted the New York Islanders as my team, and a few of us even bought season tickets to their games. They won a bunch of Stanley Cups long before the bloated New York Rangers, who had not enjoyed a championship season since Jesus was in short pants at the temple. For some bizarre reason, this excited me, although I had no idea why. I got so enamored with it all that I even went on a bus trip to Montreal with the Rangers Fan Club, which will never ever be mistaken for Alcoholics Anonymous. We were loaded onto some school bus like they had just introduced school desegregation in Quebec. The trip became even more memorable when one of my traveling friends got so drunk that he sat down in a Glens Falls' Howard Johnson restaurant phone booth and flooded it with his own sick.

I was on board with all this nonsense simply because everybody else was. It's probably how friendships form in a mental hospital. And, years later in retrospect, I had an epiphany.

I really didn't like hockey at all. No, really. I couldn't give a rat's ass about any of it. Think about this sport. You can't watch it on television. Most of the players have names you can't pronounce, let alone spell. Most of them have "summer teeth." Some are there, some aren't. And none of the rules or penalties make a lot of sense, which is a moot point since the referees only call them when they feel like it. And, for all those reasons, you can understand why the sport never got a footing in this country. Certainly, professional soccer hasn't either. But, at the same time, the latter sport is what most school kids play these days. You don't see a lot of youngsters strapping on a helmet and loading in a bite plate for a quick game of hockey during recess.

Let's face it. In America, nobody gives a shit. If your local hockey arena seats 19,000 people, that's exactly how many hockey fans there are in that city. No more, no less. And, while Wayne Gretzky raised the level of popularity a bit, he is now gone and now the whole sport is merely a flatline on the national sports scene.

Whatever interest they gained over the past several decades, the hockey powers-that-be managed to kill. Even I was surprisingly sliding back in. Several years ago, I Christmas-gifted a pair of Los Angeles Kings tickets to Mr. Anonymous of the Barbara Judith Deluxe Furnished Apartments on Hollywood Boulevard. We went to the game and had a terrific time in our seats right next to the penalty box. Oddly, we talked about doing this several times more. It was that much fun.

A few weeks later, the hockey players went on strike and effectively cancelled almost one entire season of games. Now I was really done. And I am thinking that a lot of other folks agreed with me. Hell, they didn't need any of us. Most of the players don't speak English anyway.

Last minute of play in the sport. Good riddence.

Dinner last night: Chicken Sandwich.

Tomorrow.....from NYC again.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

That Cat Plays a Mean Trumpet



There are no animals in the fascinating documentary "Trying To Get Good: the Jazz Odyssey of Jack Sheldon." Unless, of course, you want to count the parrot that is inexplicably sitting on Dom DeLuise's hand everytime he is interviewed on camera. But, what you do get is a riveting look into the life of a renowned jazz musician, who I admittedly and mistakenly had thought was nothing more than a buffoon from his clownish appearances on the old Merv Griffin gabfest.

One of the most underrated benefits of a good documentary film is its ability to teach you something that you previously did not know. I like jazz music to a degree, especially some of those smooth jazz radio stations (gone now in New York, regrettably). But, I would not consider myself a huge fan. I know some of the big names associated, and I even have some favorites like Dave Koz and Bobby Caldwell. At the same time, I could hear a trumpet on the radio and not know who the hell was blowing into it.

So, I was probably an unlikely patron for this documentary. But, I had been hearing about it for some time because I'm a fan of KABC morning talk show host, Doug McIntyre, and he wrote, produced, and directed this with his wife, Penny Peyser. And I remember her from the old Tony Randall Show as well as one season on Knots Landing. Plus she's also from Westchester, NY, and I'm a sucker for that. They had it playing at the Westwood Crest Theater, which is always a nifty night in the dark. In I went.

And I am glad I did.

I had no clue about anything I learned about Jack Sheldon. I knew he did a sitcom called "Run Buddy Run" and then a gig in Merv Griffin's TV orchestra. But, beyond that, I was lost. And now amazed. This film is wall-to-wall his music and it is phenomenal. There was one jazz musician in the audience and he told Penny Peyser afterward (one or both of the filmmakers show up every night for Q&A) that it was the best jazz documentary he had ever seen. While all I can do is bang a pen on a desk, I would have to concur.

First off, Jack Sheldon is an amazing trumpeter. But, he also now sings in this smoky way that probably resulted from many long evenings of bad night club air conditioning and second hand cigarettes. His background, however, is anything but normal. He literally grew up underwater as his apparently famous mom ran a legendary swim class for toddlers on Hollywood Boulevard and he also taught there. She was later killed, literally being hit by a truck on the sidewalk. While bouncing from jazz club to nitery, Sheldon just kept on playing, because, in his mind, he is always still "trying to get good." In the meantime, there was the almost requisite bouts with booze, cocaine, and pot, which he KOed. His wife gave him several children and then ultimately left him. So did two of the kids in tragic ways. Sheldon endured one curveball after another as if he was destined to spend his life hitting against Sandy Koufax.

Throughout it all, you see his act. You hear him play. And you are astonished just how good he is. There are a variety of famed jazz hepcats interviewed and they all proclaim Jack as the best. But, a weird guy nonetheless. Penny Peyser told us that, in the process of filming this for five years, he would drop out of sight for months at a time. When his one son died as a result of substance abuse, the filmmakers did not know because Sheldon didn't bother to mention it until three months later.

Yet, at the end of the film, there is Jack singing and playing "It Had to Be You" and the theater was enveloped with pure silk. There are countless reasons why you should sample this movie. Indeed, it is the last time Merv Griffin was shot on camera. But, there are so many other learning moments. That Jack Sheldon was the creative voice and songwriter behind the Saturday morning cartoon "Schoolhouse Rock." Or that it is his trumpet you hear playing the Oscar winning "Shadow of Your Smile" on the soundtrack for the movie, "The Sandpiper." Or that there are so many famous Jack Sheldon one liners that can't be printed in public forums.

That's what a good documentary is supposed to do. Teach. Share knowledge. Increase appreciation. "Trying to Get Good" does all that in 90 minutes. And now I want to see the guy perform in person. I poked through his website and he just finished a gig at a hotel near LAX. Talk about an understated venue.

The filmmakers are shooting for a one week New York City booking, which would be required for them to qualify for the Academy Awards. Here's hoping they get it.

Here's hoping you see it. If my word isn't good enough, the trailer comes up next.


Dinner last night: Dried cappacollo on sourdough.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

If It's Wednesday, This Must Be Tuesday Weld



I have no idea what today's title means, but the Bibster said it and I laughed, so that's good enough for me.

---The New York Mets finally got on a surge, but then lost four in a row to the Padres

---Here they come, here they come, here they come.

---Er, never mind.

----Their catcher showed up late on Sunday in San Diego because he got confused what time the game started.

---He obviously forgot to change his clocks when we converted to Moron Savings Time.

---The Dodgers' Andruw Jones is recovering from knee surgery, but nothing has changed. Last night, he missed the toilet.

---At a Dodger-Cub game last week, there were so many Chicago fans screaming that I thought I was at an Oprah taping.

---With their team in first place, they were awful obnoxious.

---I guess 100 years or so of World Series non-victories will do that to you.

---Since the Cubs last won the World Series, there have been 16 different Presidents, two World Wars, and a half dozen prosthetic legs for their legendary shill, Ron Santo.

---Flipping the TV dials through all those so-called news networks, I had an epiphany. There is now no such thing as a TV news journalist.

---Regardless of whether it's CNN, MSNBC, or Fox, everybody has an unbridled opinion or an agenda.

---I even think that I passed by that Catholic channel and Mother Angelica was trashtalking Dick Cheney.

---For instance, there's Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, once a horrible sportscaster and now an even bigger idiot as an alleged political pundit. He compared one of Obama's speeches to Abe Lincoln.

---I guess he meant the 16th President. Although there is an Abe Lincoln who works at a newspaper stand on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

---Greta Van Susteran on Fox wants to tell you that the Republicans do speak the truth. All the while, her face has been lifted more times than the free weights at Gold's Gym.

---And, of course, Chris Matthews on MSNBC has stated that there is a "warm tingle" that goes down his leg every time he hears Obama speak.

---That could be excitement, urine, or perhaps the onset of a crippling stroke.

---Where the hell are Huntley and Brinkley when you need them?

---Dead, I suppose.

---I caught up to Indiana Jones this past weekend. That's not hard since he's not running as fast as he used to.

---The movie had no humor or any of the charm from the first picture. Every chase scene looked the same and I saw Shia LaBoeuf more animated when I ran into him at the Dodger Stadium concession stand.

---From the direction, I am thinking Spielberg was bored. Or perhaps depressed over Hillary.

---They should have called this "Indiana Jones and the Last Movie."

---Horse racing's potential Triple Crown winner, Big Brown, ended up coming in dead last. So, by now, the horse probably is a Belmont Steak.

---I understand something that goes by the same name is also running in November.

---Hey, folks, I never promised you a rose garden.

---Here come the Mets! Here come the Mets!

---Oops, sorry, forget it.

---I was in the parking garage of the Beverly Hilton for an industry function and I actually heard this ongoing conversation from some dame in a business suit and on her cell phone.

---"Okay, I'm getting out of my car."

---"I'm now approaching the elevator."

---"I'm getting on the elevator."

---"I'm off the elevator and moving toward the lobby."

---"This guy standing next to me looks angry and may punch my face in."

---I wish.

---Does this idiot have to report every move she makes? I expected to see it on a CNN crawl when I got home.

---"BREAKING NEWS. CAREER BITCH PARKS IN BEVERLY HILTON GARAGE."

---Why is that the people who are so unimportant have the highest opinions of themselves?

---Which reminds me of a great line uttered by Rudy Vallee in "The Palm Beach Story."

---"Why are the people that deserve a beating so enormous?"

---Now, the Mets are on fire. Now is the time they put it together. Watch out, watch out.

---False alarm.

Maybe they'll get hot by next Wednesday.

Dinner last night: Hamburger.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"I Got a Nikon Camera..."

"I love to take a photograph. Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away."

God, I hated that Paul Simon song. But, it does provide an interesting entry into some new innovations to come on this blogsite.

Sometime in the middle of July, I will reach 500 daily posts on this sucker. That's a lot of writing, both nasty and otherwise. My goal in this daily exercise was to develop a regular regimen for my creativity. Mission accomplished. Am I running out of things to say? Well, thanks to the ever-expanding lunacy of the world around us, absolutely not. But, since my aim is to always make this blogsite as pleasing to the eye as it is to the mind, I often feel a little hamstrung in the visual department. I am relegated to photos I can find on the internet. Sometimes, they're not downloadable into .jpeg files which is what the blogsite accepts.

And then I look at a new blog started by my childhood friend, Leo, who often comments here as "15thAveBud." In one of his very first entries, he cites my little trivial rants as an inspiration for him to do the same. Entitled "Ramblings of a Fortunate Man" (http:\\www.leotalian,blogspot.com), he uses it as a place to chronicle, often in pictures, his wonderful family and his life. Of course, in contrast, my blog could be easily titled "Ramblings of An Angry Idiot Who Is Convinced the World is Falling Apart." A slightly different focus, of course. But, I digress...

My friend's blog has been populated with quite a few family photos every week. Obviously, taken via digital camera and downloaded, uploaded, or whateverloaded onto his site. Hmmmmm....

I'm not a photographer by nature. And I'm still a little old school. Take the picture with the film in the camera, drop it off at Walgren's by 9AM and pick them up at 5PM. But, even I know that the days of some jerk sitting on a stool in a hot Fotomat kiosk are over. Digital is here. Accept it. Embrace it.

And, last Saturday, at Bel Air Camera in Westwood, buy it. I laid out to the sales clerk what I wanted to do and I stressed that he needed to make it simple. And he did. So, now, I've got the camera pictured above. And it is tres simple. Even for the usually technology challenged and phobic me.

This now opens up a slew of new pictoral essays that I can include here. For instance, I plan to document via photo a day sitting in my Shea Stadium seats for a Met game. Then, I'll do the same for a game at Dodger Stadium. You will see what I see. Hopefully, the smell of the Dodger Dog will come wafting through your computer screen. You'll enjoy some of my Hollywood Bowl evenings. It will be my personal version of TMZ.

One thing you won't see pictured is me. I am very, very, very, very fussy about how I look in photos and I don't need this to turn into psychological torture on a daily basis. But, everything and everybody else will be fair game and coming your way.

As a starter and good practice for the novice cameraman that I am, here are two shots of my LA apartment living room. One includes the Bobblehead Village that occupies one corner of the room. Yes, I am nuts. You will note that there are both Dodger and Met artifacts there. The bi-coastal fandom displayed in toys.


The next shot is one of the rest of the living room with the 42 inch plasma TV prominently shown. My housekeeper needs to sweep the floor.


So, we will see where this goes. I know there are readers out there (and I know who you are) who love to visualize all aspects of my bi-coastal existence. Now you have your opportunity.

And, in two weeks, Leo, my inspiration for this innovation, and I will be taking his sons to a Dodger game. If he thinks he will be taking a picture of me there to use in his blog, he has another thing coming.

Dinner last night: English muffin sandwich.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Monday Morning Video Laugh - June 9, 2008

Please don't watch this on a full stomach.



Dinner last night: NY Strip Steak at BLT Steak.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

My Top 25 Favorite TV Shows: #17!

These days, Saturday nights are a complete wasteland for television. As a matter of fact, one network now uses that low viewing nights to show reruns of shows that are broadcast on other nights.

What the hell happened?

Back when, a Saturday night on CBS is where you wanted to tune your set. One classic comedy after another (several will show up on this list later on) and the topper would be Carol Burnett and her crew at 10PM.

Sandwiched in the middle of all this smart programming was the truly exceptional "Bob Newhart Show." While it may not have had the wild popularity or flash the other Saturday night shows had, the Newhart laughfest more than held its own. And, viewing it again years later, you realize just how good it was.

This was intelligent comedy that was offered up by Mary Tyler Moore's production company. A half hour consisted of very little slapstick. You had to listen to the words. Shows like "Frasier" and "Cheers" years later owed their legacies to MTM. And "The Bob Newhart Show" was one of those stalwarts. And, of course, the late Suzanne Pleshette didn't exactly give you a stye.

There is a moment in this series which is probably one of the best written scenes I have ever seen. I posted it a while ago and the video is no longer available. Bob is on a local talk show and the hostess/interviewer is super nice---off camera. She attacks him with such venom as soon as the camera is turned on. His virtually wordless reaction is sheer brilliance. A classic TV moment.

For some inane reason, there is a dearth of Newhart clips available on the internet. Like the one I mention above, they're all gone. But I did find this really bizarre example of somebody with way too much time on their hands. This kid re-enacts the opening credits.


"The Bob Newhart Show" made me want to be a writer. It, along with some other comedies of the time, formed a master class in the art. For some odd reason, I keep seeing Bob Newhart in the neighborhood around my apartment. I saw him drinking a soda outside Walgren's. I have seen him three times pushing a shopping cart around Ralph's. I've always wanted to tell him what that show did for me with regard to mining my creative juices. But, I just leave him alone. I rarely break my self-imposed rule of intruding upon celebrities I don't know. But, some day, I will say...

"Hi, Bob."

Dinner last night: BLT Sandwich at Charcoal.


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Vin Scully Last Night


On every TV game he does, Vin Scully uses a midway point to come back from a commercial and face the camera with a little stat or factoid that might be developing during the game. But, not last night. Not on June 6, 2008. Because, indeed, Vin was not happy.

Normally on the telecast we talk about "This Day in Baseball." I don't mean to sound grumpy or grouchy, but I can't believe what I didn't hear. I listened to the news on the radio for an hour and 15 minutes today. Did not hear one word about what this day really means. June the 6th, 1944. Do the names Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno, Sword - do they mean anything? They're the beaches at Normandy. Sure, today was D-Day: the invasion of Europe, when thousands of soldiers gave their lives so that we could be free. I'll be darned if I saw any real publicity about it at all. Please don't let that happen again next year. Please? Yeah - this day.

It was delivered sternly. It was harsh.

It was right on the money. Bravo, Vin.

The sad thing is that kids these days are taught all about the history of the countries they emigated from. Yet, the historical fabric of where they live is ignored. Or discounted. Or distorted.

D-Day? It probably will be a fading blip. Except those who will recall that it provided the plot for a mighty good Steven Spielberg movie.

Dinner last night: Sausage Pizza at Maria's Italian Kitchen.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Your June 2008 Weekend Movie Guide



The photo at the left shows you one of my favorite movie palaces in Los Angeles. I frequently turn to the Egyptian on a Saturday night for a classic double feature, primarily because there's nothing playing anyplace else.

So, here I am again. Your cinematic consumer advocate. I flip through the weekend entertainment section of the Los Angeles Times and give you my gut reactions on the films being advertised for your viewing.

Good night and God bless.

Sex and The City: Amazingly, it beat out Indiana Jones last weekend for top box office and I didn't realize there were that many male manicurists in this country. At 2 and a half hours, this is essentially the equivalent of a five episode marathon. The biggest laugh comes when Kim Cattrall has diarrhea in her bathing suit. Are you laughing yet? Friends who have seen it tell me the movie is lousy.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: Still have not sampled, although, once again, most friends who have seen it tell me the movie is lousy. The ending allegedly is stupid and confusing and don't we already have enough of that in the country's political landscape? Spielberg is getting older and he was bound to lose focus eventually.

When Did You Last See Your Father?: In a Mount Vernon, New York nursing home and the Black orderly stole his TV. As for this movie, it's about some poet and his relationship with his dad and I would much rather spend my time trying to track down that orderly.

Kung Fu Panda: More cartoon nonsense that doesn't hold a candle to the Looney Tunes of the 40s and 50s. And it's probably loaded with MSG.

You Don't Mess With the Zohan: Here we go again with Adam Sandler. He plays an Israeli counterterrorism agent who fakes his own death to move to NY and fulfill his dream of becoming a hairstylist. Sandler is dying to be treated as a serious actor, but then he shows up with this junk. One step forward, nine hundred steps backward.

The Chronicles of Narnja, Prince Caspian: I hear this is absolutely terrible. Read the book. Better still read another book.

Baby Mama: Still lingering like the smell in the bathroom of the bus station. Or that nursing home where my father's TV was stolen by a Black orderly. In a momentary lapse of judgement, I saw this junk several weeks ago. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler need to return to their TV careers. Better still, they need to return to their waitress jobs at the Olive Garden. Mystery talents.

Speed Racer: Still hasn't gone, gone, gone. A man from my church, who is over 60, told me he and his girlfriend hated it. I acknowledged this review in silence, but I secretly wondered how the hell those two wound up seeing it in the first place. I now put one extra pew between me and him on Sundays.

Stuck: A depiction of that true story where a woman ran over some homeless bum and he died while stuck in her windshield. And I'm betting she had just washed her car, too.

Iron Man: Saw it and enjoyed it. For a special effects-based movie, you need to see this for the great acting offered up by Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, and the extremely under-valued Robert Downey Jr.. Finally, an action movie with characters that have motivations. Who knew this could exist?

War, Inc.: A satire featuring Dick Cheney as the CEO.

The Strangers: Some couple getting terrorized in a remote cabin. Where is Norman Bates when you need him?

The Promotion: Two guys battle for the job of supermarket manager. Who knew that the A & P could be such a pool of sharks?

Mongol, the Untold Story of the Rise of Genghis Khan: Sounds more like a term paper than a movie. I will take this movie as pass/fail only. Perhaps it should be on a double feature with Kung Fu Panda. Or better yet, Genghis Khan slices up Kung Fu Panda.

Roman De Gare: French. Claude Lelouch. I believe the French word is "dormir."

What Happens in Vegas: Apparently stayed there. Still hanging around, but this was a critical and box office bomberoo.

The Children of Huang Shi: Just how much Chinese crap must we endure this week?

Then She Found Me: Helen Hunt's directorial debut and I saw it a while back. It's quite dreary and I think the director was feuding with the star. Given that they were one in the same, I suppose you can expect problems.

Miss Conception: Some stupid comedy with that madcap comedienne Heather Graham. I never miss one of her comedies. Actually I alwasy miss one of her comedies.

Bigger, Stronger, Faster: Lousier. All about steroids. The movie is probably about twice as long as it should be.

The Foot Fist Way: Will Ferrell and Seth Rogan. Two of my absolute favorites. I won't even drive past a theater where it's playing.

Dinner last night: Louisiana Hot Sausage at the Dodger Game.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sorry About That, Harvey Korman


The hilarious Harvey Korman left us last week and that's just one carat of classic talent that has been chipped away from the diamond of our world.

Everybody remembers the great Dentist sketch with Tim Conway. Or when he played Hedy, no, it's Hedley, Lamarr in "Blazing Saddles." The moment when Hedley walks up to the box office of the Chinese Theater and tries to pass himself off as a student is one of my all-time favorite screen laughs. But, for my grandmother watching "The Carol Burnett Show" in Mount Vernon, Harvey Korman was a huge hit when he showed up as the old Jewish yenta, Mother Markus, in the "As The Stomach Turns" sketch. I have never heard her laugh as much as she did when Harvey sashayed his way onto the screen.


Out here in California, there are those small moments when you find yourself somehow intertwined with celebrities. About four years ago, I was ushering at my church's Christmas Eve candlelight service. One of the major job responsibilites is to light the candle of the person on the end of each pew so everybody can sing "Silent Night" with the appropriate lighting. As I was making my way down the aisle, I wondered who the really tall guy was in the last pew. It was Harvey Korman with his wife and daughter. I lit his candle dutifully and then stood alongside him as we sang about this holy night. How did this man, whom I assumed was Jewish, come to be there? I never asked.

One year later, I had the same candle lighting experience with actor Tony Franciosa, who would show up at church on all the holidays. About two weeks later, he had a stroke and died. When Harvey Korman passed away, I thought about both of them and remembered the candles.

And I wonder why celebrities don't show up at my church on Christmas Eve anymore?

Dinner last night: Turkey Burger at BJ's.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Moe, Larry, and Wednesday


Woo woo woo. Stick this in your eye.

---So much for a "dwindling" economy. There were more idiots than ever in the airports on Monday traveling wherever.

---And they were not business travelers, because they generally wear shoes.

---There was one bunch of about 50 teenagers flying as a group and trying to push their life's belongings through Homeland Security.

---I was wondering if they have re-started "Up With People."

---If so, I will be joining "Down With Morons."

---If the economy is so freakin' bad, why are planes crowded?

---And why are the big screen TV departments in Best Buy so busy?

---Buy now, bitch later.

---And, once airlines start charging passengers to check baggage, I can't wait to see what gets shoved in the overhead compartments.

---"Hiya, Grandma, comfy up there?"

---As an American Airlines Platinum flyer, the surcharge ain't applying to me, thank you very much.

---Unlike Barack Obama, I am proud to admit that I am an elitist.

---A Surprisingly Tasty Luncheon in Business Class: the antipasto cold plate. Dee-lish.

---With my humblest apologies to those several rows behind chowing down on Pringles from a can.

---Speaking of which, the guy who invented Pringles Potato Chips died and his ashes have been interred in one of those cans.

---I got nothing.

---And a Surprisingly Great Read from Business Class while returning to Los Angeles: the oral history/biography of SNL's Chris Farley. When you boil it down, this poor guy had a career of only about 7 years. Truly sad.

---And to the idiot sitting next to me who kept reading over my shoulder, buy your own damn book!

---While this elitist was happily parked in the JFK Admiral's Club (which American offered to me this year at a much reduced rate), I watched the Crappy News Network report on the opening of a museum devoted to remembering Woodstock.

---A great way to recall the events of those days. A terrific way for those folks who went there to see what they can't remember.

---To make the museum truly authentic, they should flood it and pile in some mud.

---Just last month, a bunch of people who were conceived in a Volkswagen while Janis Joplin stumbled around on the stage just turned 39.

---While I was away from Los Angeles, there was a huge fire on the Universal Studios lot

---So, after all that, what good were any of those fire precautions you saw in the Backdraft exhibit?

---The King Kong attraction burned to a crisp and that finally ends the huge lie Universal has been propagating for years.

---The original King Kong movie was made not by Universal. It was done by RKO.

---What goes around comes around and I guess that includes flames.

---If Obama had only not run for President, he could still be going to the church he has frequented for 20 years.

---Now that he's a religious free agent, I'm wondering if Scott Boras is accepting offers yet.

---Hey, not only can Hillary keep her church, but she now has time to run the Halloween bake sale.

---And the summer ice cream social.

---And be the lector the first Sunday every month.

---For all the talk about the presumptive Democratic candidate, Obama is finishing up the primary season like the Mets wound up the 2007 baseball season.

---Speaking of the New York Metropolitans, my first game there last Saturday was an adventure. I have never seen more people walking around and not watching a ball game. It was like the Puerto Rican Day Parade started early.

---With the coming of Citi Field, the Mets finally removed the big traffic ring from the parking lot.

---Now the only thing in the vicinity still going around in circles is reliever Aaron Heilman, who can't even get a cigarette out.

---Or, even more mysteriously, he can't get a Dodger hitter out.

---In this, their 99th year since last winning the World Series, the Chicago Cubs are looking like world beaters.

---Rhetorical question: Will Cub October success bring on the apocalypse? Discuss.

---I think it's sort of akin to the crypts underneath the Vatican. When they run out of places to bury dead popes, the world ends.

And, for today, so do I.

Dinner last night: Grilled Bratwurst at the Dodger game.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Recount


I urge you to catch up to this TV docu-drama now running on HBO. I saw this depiction of the voting mess in Florida during the 2000 Presidential election and it is wonderfully balanced. As a moderate who pretty much hates both sides of the political aisle, "Recount" does a terrific job of showing all the flaws of both the Democrats and Republicans as they tried to piece together what was a complete and insane breakdown in the voting process.

For a movie that was produced by predominantly left-leaning Hollywood, such an even keel is no easy feat. Kudos to all involved, especially producer Sydney Pollack. He was originally scheduled to direct "Recount," but backed out when he got the news of the cancer that would ultimately kill him last weekend. He still has his name amongst the producing credits and it is a great capper to a terrific career.

"Recount" plays out as intricately as "All The President's Men." Indeed, the very first scene shows you just how screwed up Florida was and probably still is. Never has there been a better argument to cut a state from the Union. You see some old canasta playing biddy, probably on her way to the early bird special at Applebee's, trying to vote. It's one of those push-pen ballots that we have used in LA for years. You see the ballot and you watch this fossil's confusion at which candidate to push for. I'm looking at it and I'm wondering. What the hell is so hard about this, you old broad, you? Plus the Board of Elections usually sends you a diagram and a brochure ahead of time. If these moronic senior citizens spent a few minutes reading those instead of checking the lotto numbers, this whole Florida shitstorm would not even have happened. As far as I'm concerned, once you hit 70 in that state, not only should they confiscate your car keys, but you should also be given regular aptitude tests to make sure you can still perform simple functions. Of course, the whole issue could be easily negated if we simply annexed the whole state to Israel. But, I digress...

"Recount" also surprised me in a way it probably shouldn't. I probably can't be that stunned when you see how much of a political candidate is controlled, steered, and actually puppeted by the machine behind him or her. Every word, action, gesture, and nuance is so carefully rehearsed and planned. It's one more indictment for me of the phony two party system that is choking our country.

But, beyond that angst, "Recount" can still be enjoyed for what it is, because it is truly a very even-handed look at an embarrassing moment in this country's history. If for nothing else, see it for the performance of Laura Dern, who portrays Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris as if she was Jessica Rabbit. The amazing thing is that the real person is probably not that far off the mark.

Dinner last night: Chinese Chicken Salad at the Cheesecake Factory back in LA.



Monday, June 2, 2008

Monday Morning Video Laugh - June 2, 2008


For those of you who might happen to know a June bride...that's also a complete moron.




Dinner last night: Leftover Sausage and Peppers, cleaning out the refrigerator as I plan to fly back to LA.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

My Top 25 Favorite TV Shows - #18!




Arguably, "Bonanza" did more to sell new color television sets than any appliance store salesperson could hope to do. When this show, with its lush filming of the Lake Tahoe area, was the only program broadcast in color, folks clamored to buy one so they too could be enveloped by the splendor of the scenary.

You count my parents in that group. You cannot count my grandmother among those sales.

Actually, my parents took their own sweet time moving out of the black and white TV world. There was one token color television in our family. My aunt had one and we all descended on her living room if ever there was a "must see in color" program. The only problem with her set, which might have been one of the first off the assembly line, is that the colors were never coordinated properly. Grass was blue. Tree trunks were red. Faces were green.

Once my parents were content that the technology had all the bugs worked out, they were buyers. And so, on one March Saturday afternoon, this super clunky Zenith console got delivered to our home. And then, for the rest of the weekend, we watched everything and anything just to see what it looked like in color. And, unlike my aunt's set, people actually had flesh tones that didn't make them look like third degree burn victims. We absorbed it all. But the focus of that weekend was Sunday night at 9PM on NBC. When we finally could watch an episode of "Bonanza" on our very own color TV.

"Bonanza" was one of the few TV shows that got two floor viewing in my house. My grandmother was watching downstairs and we were tuned in upstairs. I would act as Kissinger. One week, I would watch it with my grandmother and then the next week with my parents. It was a tradition I held to for many years. But, with the purchase of that huge Zenith, I would be multi-conflicted. Black and white vs. color. A major dilemma.

My mother, in a rare display of multi-generational family unity, had a solution. Grandma could come up and watch "Bonanza" in color with us. So, on that first "colorful" Sunday, my grandmother mounted the three flights of stairs to our living room. She sat down and wasn't there more than five minutes into the program.

"This doesn't look right."

She gave a cursory wave at the dastardly television set and went back downstairs. And never returned on a Sunday at 9PM ever again. To the day she died, she was one of the few stalwarts in America who would not cave in to that crazy fad of color TVs.

So, I spent many a Sunday watching "Bonanza" in black and white. Nevertheless, it didn't diminish my love of this classic western. As I got older, the tradition held, but I came to appreciate that the better episodes were written and directed by co-star Michael Landon, who clearly was a gifted creative force. As soon as Dan "Hoss" Blocker died, the show pretty much lost its cohesiveness. But, given that, it still had an amazing run with close to 500 episodes.

Most folks remember the theme song to this day with the Cartwrights riding up across the meadow to a conveniently placed Eastman color camera. But, oddly enough, I much preferred the different opening and theme that they used for several of the final seasons. Most people don't remember this, but I do.




I'm not sure which version of the opening my grandmother liked better. She probably didn't care.

As long as it was in black and white.

Dinner last night: My absolute favorite Sausage and Peppers at Carlo's in Yonkers.