Thursday, July 31, 2008

Classic Newsreel of the Month - July 2008

Well, it is hurricane season. This is from 1967.



Dinner last night: Turkey Pastrami Reuben at the Cheesecake Factory.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Shake, Rattle, and Wednesday

Here's some aftershocks courtesy of me.

---A 5.4 shaker didn't go unnoticed. But, to be honest, I thought it was this fat guy down the hall walking to the kitchen to get his lunch.

---Seriously, all our walls vibrate when it's time for him to microwave his Hot Pockets.

---I had a premonition of the earth shaking the night before. When Andruw Jones got a pinch hit RBI single.

---When another former New Yorker friend of mine bemoaned that this kind of calamity does not happen in NY, I reminded her that she could be stuck behind a tanker in the middle of the Lincoln Tunnel.

---My point was taken.

---All in all, there was no great damage. People were panicking mainly because their cell phones didn't work for about 45 seconds.

---And, in certain supermarkets, you'll be hard pressed today to find a jar of Grey Poupon or a bottle of Jack Daniels.

---Of course, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sprang into emergency action and cancelled his scheduled business lunch at the Hideaway Motel in Pomona.

---I love, love, love the fact that some former Apollo astronaut confirms that aliens live among us. And maybe they work at the local car wash with all the illegal ones.

---Why is it that every one who admits to actually seeing an alien lives in a mobile home park?

---And they never seem to show up in major cities. If you're from outer space and wanted to be inconspicuous, wouldn't you want to blend in on the IRT subway?

---Another great place where aliens can hide: the monthly meeting of the LA chapter of the Andruw Jones Fan Club.

---Speaking of idiots, I had a fun celebrity encounter last Friday at Dodger Stadium. As I entered the gate to the park, I spotted actor Jason Bateman gabbing with MSNBC's renowned moron Keith Olbermann.

---Later I was walking back from the concession stand and saw that Keith Olbermann was approaching from the opposite direction. As our paths crossed, I had an impulse. I muttered "asshole."

---He heard me. I heard a growl back. "Who was that?"

---It felt so good. And I'm thinking that probably happens to him at least four or five times a day.

---So, for just one night at Chavez Ravine, Andruw Jones was not the biggest jerk in the park.

---I feel so much better about Obama now that I know Germany loves him.

---Okay, it's not like they don't have a history of standing around and listening to some lunatic yell at them.

---And, just maybe, the presumptive President wasn't the main draw. Heck, there were two rock bands there, as well as free beer and bratwurst.

---For free German sausage, even I would have shown up.

---I think it's hilarious that, at the same time Obama was in Germany, McCain was parked at some Wienerschnitzel stand in Wisconsin.

---Shorty McCain just can't get a break. If Obama goes to the Olympics, McCain probably shows up at a Kansas City Royals game.

---Okay, so Obama tried to do everything that JFK did in Berlin. But he couldn't complete the job since actress Romy Schneider died twenty years ago.

---The way he was running around Europe acting like the President, I was convinced I had dozed off and reawakened on January 22, 2009.

---On the way home, somebody should have reminded Obama to make stops at the Thomas E. Dewey and Michael S. Dukakis Presidential Libraries.

---The cover of last week's People was hilarious. "The Obamas at Home." Some hysterical attempt to make these cretins look like your average American family.

---I can sleep easier knowing that the Obamas have managed to work hard and claw their way out of the upper Middle Class.

---Meanwhile, I met somebody last week who used to live in their Chicago neighborhood. Let's just say that Michelle Obama is not someone you want to be negotiating with when your kid needs a playdate. This person tells me she is almost universally hated.

---Except for the German family around the corner.

---This week, the Dodgers' Nomar Garciaparra went on the disabled list on Tuesday.

---Nomar is probably the only person in America who would actually benefit from Universal Healthcare.

---I think the late Pee Wee Reese got into more games at shortstop this year than Nomar.

---The July 31 trading deadline for major league baseball has taken on this bizarre media frenzy. There are so many rumors about so many different players being available. And ultimately nobody goes anyplace.

---If Babe Ruth was still alive, he would have been "designated for assignment" by now.

---I can hear one of those knuckleheads with a fantasy baseball team now. "I gotta get rid of that stiff Gehrig. The shithead upped and died on me."

Dinner last night: Super Dodger Dog and onion rings at the game.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Supreme-O



From my perch high atop the Hollywood Bowl venue on Saturday night, I could see (in the picture at the right) a small snippet of the Hollywood sign. I could also watch the assembly of what would be the oldest audience ever to witness a musical concert. The occasion was the return of Miss Diana Ross (I think there is a law that stipulates you must put "miss" in front of her name always) to the Bowl for the first time since 1967, which was even before she had tossed the two other Supremes under the Motown bus.

And, from what I could see, this was the first time since 1967 that many of the audience members had been out of the house. There were people in wheelchairs, people with walkers, and one man getting oxygen from a tank. Was this going to be a musical evening with a true 60s icon or faith healing at Lourdes? I wondered if I had missed the news. Beyond the 30 or so hits she has plattered for the past 45 years, was Miss Diana Ross also known for her amazing healing powers? Was Lazarus indeed raised from the dead after she sang "The Happening" to him?

Hollywood Bowl crowds can be bizarre depending upon the artist. Along with the advanced age of the throng, there were other oddities that caught my eye around the place. Heck, I didn't have to look past the next row, where some midget plopped himself down in front of us. At least, there would be no cries of "down in front!" But, there were other screwballs about:

The last thing I would expect to see at a Miss Diana Ross concert is a busload of Asians. But, there they were. I speculated if they even knew where they were. For all I know, they might have been expecting Pat Sajak and Vanna White to appear for a "Wheel of Fortune" taping. And imagine their disappointment when Miss Ross didn't do her rendition of "Sukiyaki."

Not only had some of the audience not been out in public for years, but this woman showed up in her pajamas with matching nightcap. There was yet another lady with more hair extensions than Rapunzel. Sailors would give their eye teeth to do slip knots with her coiff. In most cases, the fashion sense of the folks around me had been pretty much grounded in the joke wall on Rowan and Martin's old Laugh-In TV show. One old hippie guy was wearing several strains of pearls. Not only was he insane but also incredibly overdressed. There was, not surprisingly, a huge gay contingent. I ran into a gaggle of older lesbians, who were, I kid you not, discussing car engines. And our row was populated by about seven or eight gay guys, who kept getting up to go to the bathroom. Just how small are the bladders of our gay community? As they kept sliding their behinds in front of my face, I wanted to interject that their asses mean nothing to me.

Given the advanced age of the assembled mass, it was probably not wise for Miss Ross to execute what had to be the longest entrance in show business history. As the music kept playing, you kept hearing her off-stage.

"I'm......................coming......................out!"

Over and over and over and over.

"I'm...................coming........................out!"

Was she having a problem with the zipper on her sequined dress? Or perhaps the adhesive tape on the inside of her wig was malfunctioning. Nevertheless, she drew out the anticipation as long as she could.

"I'm.....................coming........................out!"

It took less time for the Jews to cross the parted Red Sea. Several people around me mentioned that fact as they were no doubt there.

Finally, Miss Ross appeared. And she immediately took the frenzied crowd on a tour of her musical history, which is quite formidable. She's still in quite good voice, even though she missed a note here and there. And, every fifteen minutes or so, she popped backstage for a wardrobe change as she apparently got a lot of dresses on sale from Debbie Reynolds' last Vegas liquidation. She never did switch off on the wig, and I thought that would have been a nifty touch to see "all" her variations since the last person to see her real hair was probably Ed Sullivan.

By the end of the evening, everyone was standing and dislocating their hips. Doctors all over Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills spent Monday morning returning calls. But, in hindsight, I am thinking that all these folks were willing to O.D. on naprosyn for this return to their glorious youth. Because they were all reliving their past. When their lives were so much more simple. A culture infused by drugs and violence. Charges of racism abound. A devastating war in a foreign land.

We've come a long way, baby.

Dinner last night: German salami on sourdough bread.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday Morning Video Laugh - July 28, 2008

And this is why tennis and ping pong should be Olympic sports...


Dinner last night: Spaghetti and meatballs at Maria's Italian Kitchen.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

My Top 10 Favorite TV Shows: #10!

Who can ever forget the classic opening to this series? Back in the day when opening credits defined a television series and pulled you in week to week, "The Odd Couple" had one of the best. Indeed, the theme music came straight from the movie of the same name. But, still, nothing made me smile more than the initial strains of the Neal Hefti-penned score.


Oddly enough, I didn't watch "The Odd Couple" when it was first run on ABC. And, despite its five year tenure, neither did a lot of other people. Perennially low rated, the show limped along primarily because ABC had nothing else but test patterns to fill their Friday nights. But, then, almost miraculously, WPIX Channel 11 in NY bought the reruns and began to air it every night at 11PM.

I was hooked. And so were a lot of other people.

Rarely does a TV show based on a hit motion picture actually surpass the original. "The Odd Couple" did just that. When somebody mentions Felix Unger and Oscar Madison, the image that is immediately conjured is that of Tony Randall and Jack Klugman, not the movie's stars Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Tony and Jack took the roles and ran rings around them. Even more amazing, Randall took the semingly thankless role of Felix and made it a comic icon in a concept where Oscar would normally get all the truly comedic moments. I understand that Randall and Klugman would regularly rewrite the scripts down on the soundstage. Now, as a writer, I can tell you that it is super-annoying when actors start to fuss with the words you wrote on a page. Just read the lines as they were put on the page. The words are in that precise order for a reason. But, having seen what wound up on the screen with "The Odd Couple," who can argue successfully against Tony and Jack's intervention?

There are more memorable moments and scenes from "The Odd Couple" than there ever were in other allegedly groundbreaking comedies like "Seinfeld" and "Friends." When actors truly connect with words and characters, there is magic that you cannot experience anyplace else. Just look at this clip from what I would call one of the five best scenes ever written for a TV situation comedy. I once saw this screened on a flight to NY and the laughter around the cabin, even through my headphones, was deafening. Felix and Oscar are appearing on "Password." Enough said.



There is one other episode where the "boys" appear on "Let's Make a Deal" as contestants dressed as a horse. The moment where Tony Randall, hidden by the horse's head, inquires about the availability of bedroom furniture as a prize. No other line ever on TV has cracked me up more than this throwaway moment of a rather incongruous line. That's what good acting can do to good writing. In turn, both elements become great.

I've written previously of spending some time interviewing Tony Randall on the telephone. He was sheer class and a consummate professional. You can see that in every frame of "The Odd Couple."

I certainly would have let him change lines I had written any day.

Dinner last night: Hollywood Bowl Hot Dog.



Saturday, July 26, 2008

Classic Movie Trailer of the Month - July 2008

"Journey to the Center of the Earth." The original, please. One of my favorite scary movies from my childhood. Quite an effective use of small lizards.



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

Friday, July 25, 2008

Marrone Mia!


Official worldwide records will tell you that I am one of only six heterosexual males on the planet to actually see the stage musical "Mamma Mia" more than once. It is a cross I will continue to drag over hill and dale until I leave this mortal coil. I saw this ABBA-driven lovefest in Los Angeles and New York. Both times, I got sucked into the infectious frenzy and found myself inexplicably standing and cheering at the end. I hang my head in shame. I thoroughly enjoyed it on both coasts and even will admit to singing with a hair brush when I got home.

So, naturally, I was destined to be an all-day sucker for the movie version that just got released. And, given the majestic Greek island setting, the film adaptation could only get better if it was opened up on a big screen, right? Towering cliffs over sultry blue waters. Delicious tunes from ABBA. An ideal way to spend a summer's evening at the movies.

Yet, after almost two hours of watching "Mamma Mia" opened up to such gargantuan proportions, I can tell you that more is definitely less. Much, much less. On screen, this movie musical, which actually had some nifty intimate moments on stage, explodes at the seams. It's like you put a yacht in a bathtub. And what is ultimately served is not exactly great visual nourishment. I felt like I had just eaten nothing but Hamburger Helper for an entire week.

All the excess was not needed. Every production number wound up looking like rush hour in Athens. The quaint village setting is turned upside down every time the director, Phyllida Lloyd, felt compelled to choreograph a dance number with some high steppin' village peasants. She might as well have staged "West Side Story" with some Mexican day laborers down at the Home Depot parking lot. It all explodes onto the audience like a cupcake you cooked in a defective Easy Bake Oven when you were eight years old. There's sugar all over the place and it's really the first movie that should come with a listing for "calories from fat."

They should have trusted the music and simplicity. Admittedly, the threadbare plot, even on stage, is as cheesy as a Christmas sampler from Hickory Farms. But, somehow, in its live version, it worked. Not here. Not at all. As I left the theater, "SOS" was resonating in my mind. Not the song, but the distress call.

On stage, "Mamma Mia" was generally a non-star driven event. You didn't need to have a big name. As long as you could sing and dance and look good in skimpy clothing, you, too, could be in the chorus. But, of course, Hollywood got its hooks into the casting and it certainly is curious at best. Meryl Streep, in the title role of Donna, did hit more musical notes than her co-stars. But, she was shot in perhaps the worst lighting since Joan Crawford was trying to hide her crow's feet in "Humoresque." As a result, she appears about ten years older than she really is, which is about twenty years older than the character is supposed to be. Perhaps there was a strike by Greek make-up artists when the film was in production. Christine Baranski shows up as one of her friends, and her chiseled features now make it look like she is a drag queen doing an impersonation of Christine Baranski. Julie Walters, as the other singing Dynamo, is made to look dumpier than usual and really appears to have an immediate future watching over the linen department at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

And that brings us to the singing debut of Pierce Brosnan. If Don Knotts had ever attempted to release a cover album of Beatles music, that would have been better than what the former James Bond offers in "Mamma Mia." Five seconds after he first raises his voice in song, there is a wave of laughter in the theater that I haven't heard since the Marx Brothers crowded into a stateroom. You wind up being part uneasy, part hysterical, and part embarrassed by this vocal equivalent of a rectal probe. If he's giving it the good old college try, that would have to be what passes for it at Rockland Community College. It doesn't help that Mr. Brosnan appears to be a bit zaftig now that he doesn't get any exercise running around as 007. Or perhaps the "Mamma Mia" craft services department was making a mean Irish Stew. Surely, Pierce would have been helped if he had been dubbed by Marni Nixon. Or Julie Nixon. Or baseball outfielder Trot Nixon. Anybody, please. But, my undaunted moviegoing companion, the illustrious Djinn From the Bronx, one of the founding members of the Pierce Brosnan Fan Club, didn't care. She exclaimed, "But I still love him!" Love is as blind as Pierce is apparently tone deaf.

There are also some time elements in the movie that don't make sense. In an effort to update the script, there are references to text messages, e-mail, and the internet. They tell you that Sophie, the daughter and bride-to-be, is 20 years old, and that makes her born sometime in the late 80s, according to my fingers. Yet, when they show you pictures of her potential fathers at the time of her birth, they all are dressed like roadies for Grand Funk Railroad, a stellar rock band of the late 60s and early 70s. This could only suggest that Meryl Streep's character was pregnant for about 18 years. It does definitely confirm that the director and the screenwriter can't do basic math equations.

They make an attempt at duplicating the exhileration of the stage version's encore. But, that only works when you can stand, sing, and dance right along with the performers. You really can't do that in a movie theater, especially after the floor has been littered for two hours with popcorn, empty Vitamin Water bottles, and half-chewed Raisinets. Once again, it works on stage because it is spontaneous. Nothing in the film felt that way.

Had they pared it down by about two dozen Greek village idiots and concentrated on the wonderful ABBA songs, "Mamma Mia" on film would have had a fighting chance, with or without the unmusical stylings of the Artist Formerly Known as Remington Steele. As cinematic art, it was like a meal at the Cheesecake Factory, where you never ever can finish everything on your plate. Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised during the closing credits when I saw Tom Hanks listed as one of the producers. Has anybody seen how fat and bloated he's gotten?

Dinner last night: English muffin (had a big lunch).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bi-coastal Baseball Hot Dog Battle

Where else but in a blog authored by a bi-coastal person would you find a side-by-side comparison of the hot dog? Okay, not just an ordinary frankfurter cooked in dirty water and purchased from some Puerto Rican vendor on the corner of 6th Avenue and 50th Street. Nope, this is the battle of the ages and you will decide which one looks more appetizing.

Ladies and Germs.....the Shea Stadium Hot Dog takes on the illustrious Dodger Dog of Chavez Ravine.

Okay, the Shea frank used to be made by Kahn's, but, based on my last trip there, they appear to be now using Hebrew National. It's grilled on one of those rollers, but you need a shovel to dig up one that actually has those nifty grill marks on it. The dog is tasty, but the fixings are limited. In what is now scandalous to me, the only condiments you can get at a Met game are mustard and ketchup. And even those are not available in a way you can dish them out yourselves. Nope. Try one of those little packets you find in hospital cafeterias. Simply place said package between your teeth and rip it apart. Then, assuming the mustard did not squirt onto your Met polo shirt, you can spread it across the hot dog. It takes about three or four packages to cover the wiener. I guess extra points should be awarded for the use of Gold's Mustard. Here's the Shea hot dog in question:

Now, let's move to Walter O'Malley's palace, Dodger Stadium. The Dodger Dog is allegedly the biggest selling frankfurter in the major leagues. They exclusively use Farmer John for all their wieners and you can get them in a variety of styles. The All Beef Super. The regular Dodger Dog, which is longer and skinnier than the All Beef Super. You can also get something called a Picante Dog, which is obviously designed for the gardeners and pool cleaners amongst the Dodger throng. In past seasons, not all the concession stands (there are no hot dog vendors) grilled the Dodger Dog. That is always the preferred cooking method, and I was lucky enough to have a nearby stand that did do the grilling. Now, all concession stands feature the grilled dog.

It's the availability of fresh and easy-to-apply condiments that makes the Dodger Dog a tastier treat when compared to the Shea dog. Relish, onions, mustard, and ketchup are all there in convenient serving stations and you can slop it on to your clogged heart's content. This season, for a buck more at the stands, you can also get sauerkraut and grilled onions.

You will note that I have once again included ketchup as a hot dog condiment. Yes, it is. As a former New Yorker, I, too, once thought that this notion was nothing short of a criminal act. But, at the behest of a friend, I tried it. You have to use it in tandem with the mustard and what results is a terrific little sauce that really spices the hot dog. Here's the way I dressed up a Super All Beef Dodger Dog last Sunday.


Of course, as you can see, the meat is barely visible after I slather on the condiments. It's definitely a little messier, but what the hell? You don't eat at a baseball game and expect to come home without a stain on your clothes.

That last paragraph sounded incredibly dirty.

Dinner last night: Empress Chicken and Shaking Beef at the new Rock Sugar Restaurant.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Holy Wednesday, Batman!!

Only jokers in this deck, my friends.

---So, I'm guessing that Cesar Romero has finally been replaced as the quintessential Joker. Now all he'll be remembered for is being a bi-sexual mambo dancer with a healthy bar tab at Ciro's.

---That's quite a career role for Heath Ledger. And, at least, we know that his agent can't screw up the negotiations for the sequel.

---If you were really perplexed over the weekend trying to decide whether to see "The Dark Night" or "Mamma Mia," there is a two bedroom condo in West Hollywood with your name on it.

---But, if you were one of those goofballs on line for the midnight show of the Caped Crusader last Thursday night, there is a one bedroom cell in Bellevue with your name on it.

---I will dodge this flick for a few weeks until all the morons who are texting to friends throughout the movie have seen it.

---Usually now, in any crowded movie theater, you can read a book in the light shining from all the phones and pagers people are accessing.

---And, yes, that was me checking on the Dodger score via my Black Berry in the middle of a Hollywood Bowl concert the other night.

---Julie Andrews delivered one half of a spectacular evening at the Bowl. In the first act, she and a couple of other singers delivered a wonderful medley of Rodgers and Hammerstein tunes.

---The second act, however, consisted of Julie reading some children's short story she and her daughter cooked up while having their nails done. That jingling sound was 10,000 Bowl attendees all fumbling for their car keys at the same time.

---This story was some dreck about some nerdy troubador who goes on a journey and spends quality time with a bird, a fish, and some Black dude masquerading as a fawn.

---ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

---A spoonful of arsenic wouldn't make this go down.

---I don't know about you, but I'm really comfortable knowing that Barack Obama has enrolled in Foreign Policy 101.

---Who even knew that there was a Ritz-Carlton in Afghanistan?

---I guess Obama has finally figured out that foreign affairs is a lot more involved than what he used to see on Gomer Pyle reruns.

---Michelle stayed home, however, so she wouldn't miss that big housedress sale at Target.

---Correction: she stayed home so her personal assistant wouldn't miss that big housedress sale at Target.

---Michelle Obama shops at Target about as much as I do.

---Rhetorical question: if McCain becomes President, who is going to replace him on the chocolate chip assembly line down at the Keebler Cookie factory?

---His campaign finances aren't the only things coming up short.

---Ladies and gentlemen, these are the two idiots running for the Presidency of our nation.

---If you're one of those who absolutely adored John Edwards and are delighted that he's on the short list to be Obama's VP, please know that he has been appearing at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Look at service entrances and hidden stairways because that's the best place to find him as he ducks in and out from overnight trysts with his mistress, who also happens to be the mother of his love child.

---Yeah, and before you counter that this news has to be bogus because it comes from the National Enquirer, let me relay to you what a famous TV producer once told me about the Enquirer.

---They are right 95% of the time. The only way he really knew what was going on with his cast was by reading the tabloids on line at Ralph's.

---You really can't blame Edwards, can you? It's got to be hard standing beside your wife while she undergoes chemo.

---No wonder this asshole is always fussing with his hair.

---Now, let's hope the same reporters are tracking Obama and McCain to see who they're fooling with.

---You just know that Barack is stepping out on that horsefaced nag of a wife.

---As for Shorty McCain, he already did his diddling years ago. If he's going to opt for anything even younger, he'll be dating little Abigail Breslin.

---From the dial-flipping department: last week I ran into the Miss Universe Pageant and I was astounded that they are still doing this mess.

---Jerry Springer was the host and I hung in there for a while, hoping that Miss Brazil and Miss Kenya would start hitting each other over the head with folding chairs.

---I was waiting to see if there was Miss Al Qaeda. Although you probably wouldn't be able to see much through her ski mask.

---There's lot of internet and on-line buzz over Oprah's lummox, Stedman, catching her with another man.

---Huh???? Who are they kidding? The last time Oprah sat on some guy's lap, it was Santa.

---It's time to fess up, lady, and admit that you have an extra-long extension cord in your bedroom.

---You know that Stedman went to see "Mamma Mia" last weekend.

---Everybody please turn down your air conditioners. Al Gore is trying to work.

---With LA traffic at a standstill, gas prices through the roof, gang violence rampant, and homes being foreclosed, the LA City Council instantly made our lives better. They passed a city ordinance banning plastic bags.

---Now why didn't I think of that?

---Those plastic bags are useless anyway. They are impossible to carry if they contain anything heavier than a package of English Muffins.

---So, the South Central gangstas will have to find some other way to carry home their rounds of ammunition.

---The news that the Ebertless and Roeper film review show will continue with two new younger hosts is quite unsettling. Especially since one of the new guys is the 25 year-old son of the vastly overrated film critic idiot Jeffrey Lyons.

---If he learned anything from his dad, we're all screwed.

---They might as well use younger reviewers since all the new movies these days are targeted to the 17 year-old anyway.

---Thinking about Jeffrey Lyons, I just remembered another great use for a plastic bag. And a rubber band around the neck.

---Way to Reduce Security Lines at an Airport: If you hold up the line with some stupidity, the airline makes you wear a funny hat during your entire flight. On the hat is emblazoned the words "I Am a Moron."

---And we can adapt it for supermarket checkout lines when some pinhead drags down your day because she can't find her checkbook.

---And on movie concession lines where, after staring at the board for five minutes, some jerk still can't figure out what they want.

---It's a movie candy counter. Popcorn, soda, and candy! You'll need to get that medium rare porterhouse steak elsewhere.

Dinner last night: Salami sandwich and side salad.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Music To Speed By


Last Saturday, I found myself in Malibu. Not looking for homes or visiting Barbra. I was simply motoring through. With the moon roof open. The windows down. And enjoying the ocean view. The water was as blue as the hair of the president of your local canasta club. But, all of the above provoked a perfect storm of the senses. There was no better place to be at that very moment.

And, of course, there was some perfect driving song on the car radio. The type of music that is ideal for hitting the gas. The sort of melody that suddenly has you hitting 80 MPH. And, as my pedal was hitting the proverbial metal, I thought about some of those tunes that actually do invite you to go about 20 miles over the speed limit.

"Count Me In" by Gary Lewis and the Playboys: I envision that Gary himself did the same while tooling up and down PCH with Jerry's Rolls Royce. Actually, anything by this group has you booking for a future appointment with your friendly covert CHIPs motorcycle cop.

"Golden Lady" by Stevie Wonder: He should only know how it feels to drive to this song. He should only know how it feels to drive.

"Goodbye to You" by Scandal: The ultimate FU dating song. Also very apropos if you speed around some curves while singing along.

"I Love LA" by Randy Newman: Only works if you are speeding on the West Coast. I tried it on the Sprain Brook Parkway in Yonkers and it is much less effective.

"It's Not Unusual" by Tom Jones: Not only are you going fast, but you also feel your pants tightening at the same time.

"Lonely Boy" by Andrew Gold: Works great in the car, especially if you just listened to "Goodbye to You."

"Love Grows" by Edison Lighthouse: She ain't got no money, her clothes are kind of funny, her hair is kind of wild and free. That crazy Rosemary. Who can't relate to some psycho girlfriend? My hand is raised high.

"Theme from the Big Country" by Jerome Moross: The tune that reminds you of any great Western. Best when driving around hills. Even better if you're steering a covered wagon.

"Me and Missus Jones" by Billy Paul: Best only if you dare to drive with the windows down through Compton. We got a thin' going on.

"New Kid in Town" by the Eagles: When you live in California, you need to speed to at least one song from this hometown band.

"Pacific Coast Highway" by Burt Bacharach: Ideal if you are driving on the very road late at night. I actually used this as a closing theme on a radio comedy show years and years ago.

"Really Want to Know You" by Gary Wright: I really wanna show you the way I feel. The break-up is apparently over. You need somebody in the passenger seat for this one.

"Stars" by Simple Red: I am so embarrassed to even admit this. The song is so cheesy, you would think it came from Wisconsin. But, it is quite infectious on the road, although I don't think this song works unless you have a key in the ignition.

"You Get What You Give" by the New Radicals: You got the music in you. You got the gas in the tank. You got a collision coming.

"Theme From Shaft" by Isaac Hayes: If you are driving through Compton, roll down the windows and crank it up. Whacha' talkin' about?

"Up, Up, and Away" by the Fifth Dimension: You really should be in a balloon, but who the hell can afford that?

"Wipe Out" by the Ventures: Stop watching those surfers and keep your eyes on the road!

"You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" by Bachman Turner Overdrive: The pinnacle of driving songs. Pure motoring nirvana. If this is on and you haven't gotten a ticket yet, it ain't loud enough.

So? What are your favorites behind the wheel? Or, if you don't drive (ahem), what do you enjoy while in the passenger seat of the car?

Dinner last night: Leftover pasta and meatballs.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday Morning Video Laugh - July 21, 2008

Everybody in the pool! Very funny and the foreign ad at the end is even funnier.




Dinner last night: Pasta with meatballs.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

My Top 25 Favorite TV Shows: #11!


For those of you incredibly confused by this picture and the identity of the TV show this week, it's "The Honeymooners."

And, if you truly were in the dark, I'd suggest you stop reading this blog immediately. You are no pal o'mine.

No TV show oozed New York City than "The Honeymooners." It was set in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, but the apartment could have been in any borough during the 1950s. I remember one of my grandmother's cousins (or nieces, she changed the story several times) had an apartment on Knox Place in the Bronx and it was eerily reminiscent of the Kramden's two room apartment. I used to like going there because the woman was a terrific baker and she used to concoct these great strawberry squares. One time, with my mouth covered in strawberry jam, I felt the need to raise the kitchen window near the fire escape. And I yelled upstairs.

"Norton!"

I don't think I got to do that a second time.

"The Honeymooners" was the very first off-network rerun that local station WPIX ever bought and they have been running it ever since. And, for years and years and years, I'd watch them. Even if I knew the lines cold. It's like I wanted to hear them all one last time just in case I got hit by a bus the next day.

"Hello, Ball."

"Tuna fish?? What am I, a cat or something?"

"I've got that Neapolitan Knockwurst that you like so much."

"I call you 'Killer' because you slay me."

"And I'm calling Bellevue because you're nuts!"

"Base-o Fomine!"

I can remember the first time I heard them. I can remember the last time I heard them. And I look forward to the very next time I will hear them. "The Honeymooners" is meat loaf with gravy, french fries, a Taylor Ham sandwich, and pepperoni pizza. Visual and aural comfort food.

And my father's favorite TV show.

I don't remember seeing him watch much comedy. More importantly, I don't remember seeing him laugh at much comedy. But, I do remember he was always enjoying himself if it was "I Love Lucy," a Myron Cohen album, and Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden.

I think you had to grow up in New York to get "The Honeymooners." More than any other show, this was about New Yorkers living in New York in a setting that could only be conjured up by New Yorkers. Indeed, the ultra-famous 39 half hours were filmed in Manhattan with a real live studio audience with guffaws that could only come from New Yorkers. You can even hear kids in the audience, yelling instructions at Ralph and Norton. And, given the grittiness of New York itself, even the production seems raw. Often, you can see that Gleason has messed up a line because you can tell that he got the inflection wrong. But, it didn't matter. They just put it up there and pressed on.

That's what you did in New York.

Years later, Gleason found a whole bunch of "Honeymooners" shows in his basement. These were the sketches that were embedded in his variety program and not included in the classic 39 filmed episodes. There was tons of press as Honeymooner fans clamored to see this "new" material. And, amazingly, it didn't measure up. A lot of it was funny, but nowhere near the level of perfection from the 39 filmed shows.

"Honeymooner" love is a totally unique love. For a few years back in the 80s, there was a NY-based society called "RALPH" that had an annual convention devoted to all things Kramden. While I would normally look at people who frequented these fan gatherings as geeks, it was different with the RALPH conventions. So different that I even attended myself, usually along with the renowned Mr. Anonymous from the Barbara Judith Deluxe Furnished Apartments on Hollywood Boulevard. It wasn't about being a fan. It was all about honoring one of the most perfect set of TV episodes ever produced.

And it was all about, for one more fleeting moment, hearing my father laugh his ass off.

And you, too, can do the same. Here's a clip from my favorite Honeymooners episode. Ralph getting ready to appear on a TV game show.

A har-dee-har-har.

Dinner last night: Hollywood Bowl hot dog.



Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dodgers: 2008 Midseason Assessment



I remember the 1968 baseball season---the first one I viewed from my Saturday seats at Shea Stadium. It was a year when all the pitchers throughout the majors were on top of their game. And nobody could hit. One game after another was either 3-2, 2-1, or 1-0.

Forty years later, it's still 1968 at Dodger Stadium. All the pitchers are top of their games. Nobody can hit. One game after another is 3-2, 2-1, or 1-0.

And you can be sure that, in the scores above, the Dodgers have the 2, the 1, and the 0 respectively.

In all my years following baseball, I cannot remember a team more inept in scoring. Let's face it, if Japanese WWII bombers hit like this year's Dodgers, Pearl Harbor would today be a Ritz-Carlton resort. And, thanks to injuries to veterans and inexperience from young players, this became a perfect storm that would have capsized most baseball teams. Shortstop Rafael Furcal had the month of his career in April and the spinal issues of an 80 year-old the rest of the way. Nomar Garciaparra played in only nine games prior to July 1, as he can pretty much pull a hamstring while doing the TV Guide crossword puzzle. Jeff Kent is usually one careening ground ball away from a pulled back muscle.

And then there's Andruw Jones. Counted on to rebound from a mediocre last season with the Atlanta Braves, Jones has shown just how quickly a baseball career can disintegrate. He's still trying to swing at balls that were thrown at him in May. Indeed, Jones' free agent signing could arguably be the worst ever in baseball history and might even rival the sale of Manhattan Island by the Indians. For the 18 million dollar annual salary, he has the highest cost per home run: $9 million per four bagger.

All of the above were supposed to support the still growing Dodger kiddie corps of Matt Kemp, James Loney, and Andre Ethier. While Loney and Ethier have been fine, albeit a little light in the power department, Matt Kemp is an enigma---the second coming of Willie Crawford and Raul Mondesi, two other Dodgers with unlimited potential that never amounted to anything more than unlimited potential. At times, Kemp looks like he went to the same focus classes as the Mets' Jose Reyes. And, most insiders will tell you that he doesn't bother to listen to Manager Joe Torre and the coaches. All in all, this pretty much amounts to the same scenario one day after another. The Dodgers with runners on second and third with nobody out. And no runs score.

Meanwhile, the Dodger pitching has been the best in the majors since June 1. It has to. The Dodgers actually got no hit last month, but still won the game, 1-0. Hiroki Kuroda and Derek Lowe both flirted with perfect games in the same home series. Young Chad Billingsley has emerged as the team ace, as he is backed by a solid bullpen, which may be hampered a bit now with closer Takashi Saito on the mend for six weeks. But, there are still enough good arms that, at least on the mound, the results will be there.

The Dodgers hope that hitting coach Don Mattingly, finally removed from his boozed up wife and able to work fulltime, can help in the second half. And, as bad as they have been, the Dodgers remain in the division hunt as the leading Arizona Diamondbacks are only a decimal point better. But it's doubtful anybody can connect with Matt Kemp, who probably listens only to his mother. That'll get his room clean, but that won't prevent him from swinging at three bad pitches. It may also get him to another team by the end of July and the trading deadline.

Regardless, I lean back into my season seats, savor the Dodger dog, and enjoy the fine California weather. It's still the best place to watch a baseball game. Oops, you'll have to excuse me while I mark my scorebook. Jones/Kemp just struck out again.

Dinner last night: A great meal of chicken kabobs, corn, etc. at 15thAve Bud's house.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mets: 2008 Midseason Assessment



As the lifespan of Shea Stadium enters into its final "half" season, I find myself midway through the 2008 year further away from Met fandom than ever before. When they finally stabilized their leaky boat and reeled off nine straight wins up to the All Star break, I should have been excited and relieved.

I was oddly neither. To describe it all in one word?

Ambivalence.

And, it has come to me in many different shades and for a myriad of reasons.

Yet, it surprises me. I'm still watching games. I have managed to remain on top of the Mets via the internet and several visits to my Saturday seats at Shea. But I'm feeling very disconnected. I certainly wasn't in this state of mind back in 1999 when I spent a Sunday afternoon watching a playoff game against the Atlanta Braves that lasted about six days. I certainly wasn't in 2001 when I was at one of the first baseball games to be held in NY after 9/11. I certainly wasn't in 2006 when I spent most of a business dinner glued to a TV set in Houston's Restaurant and watched Endy Chavez make a catch from about 1000 feet off the ground.

But I am now. Sort of.

Maybe it's the mediocrity the team has displayed since last June. But, that really shouldn't present a problem for me. Heck, I was there for Larry Bearnarth, Dave Schneck, Craig Swan, and Joel Youngblood.

Maybe it's the way they classlessly dispatched manager Willie Randolph. Deposed dictators in third world South American countries have gotten better treatment in front of firing squads.

Maybe it's the overall Hispanic composition of the team. I'm certainly not averse to baseball players of any race, shape, or color. But, with the Mets, it is shoved down your throat like an overstuffed tamale. Now, at Shea, when they introduce the line-up, they insist on telling you what Santo Bumfuk country each of the players is from. I don't remember them announcing to me that Nolan Ryan was from Alvin, Texas and Jim McAndrew hailed from Lost Nation, Iowa.

Maybe it's because I know from an inside voice there that Mr. Randolph was completely upended in the clubhouse where the Latin players were a bit racist about colors a shade darker than their own. Or, that the General Manager, Omar Minaya, is really nothing but a puppet in an organization which is run by some shifty amigo named Tony Bernazard.

Maybe it's because I now have a second team to follow and cherish as well. But, it's not like the 2008 Dodgers are anything to behold for all to see. If the Mets are an ugly wife, the Dodgers this year are really nothing more than a dumpy mistress.

Maybe it's because I know that my Saturday connection could be coming to a definitive end. Even if the Mets offer a partial ticket plan in the new Citi Field, we are already aware that ticket prices will be so prohibitive that the price of fuel oil today might look more affordable.

Maybe it's because there are just too many players on the roster that I don't like. One more time, I will announce that the Mets will never ever close a World Series victory with Billy Wagner on the mound. Carlos Beltran is moody and still living off two weeks of monster stats he compiled with the Houston Astros several years ago. Jose Reyes is dynamic, impressive, and frequently stupid. Carlos Delgado is nothing more than a thug.

But, still, there are fans who have latched onto this band of miscreants. And, perhaps, I would have. At another time. Maybe in another place.

Are they as good as they played the last two weeks? Probably not. Is the new manager, Jerry Manuel, that much better than the ousted Willie Randolph? Probably not. Are they as bad they were playing in May and June? Probably not.

Will they reach the playoffs? Probably.

Will I care? Probably not.

Do I know why not? I have no clue.

Meanwhile, I wait for Saturday, September 27---my last Saturday game at Shea Stadium. And curse the person who invented the notion that all good things must come to an end.

Dinner last night: Salami sandwich.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Two Aces





Both are pitching leaders. The Mets' Johan Santana established himself as an ace with the Twins and now does the same for the Flushing gang. The Dodgers' Chad Billingsley has this year come into his own and emerged as the team ace for hopefully many seasons to come. And, if you look at their stats at the All Star break, they are amazingly similar, except for age and one other very distinct category.

Age: Santana-29, Billingsley-23

Won-Loss: Santana 8-7, Billingsley 9-8

ERA: Santana-2.84, Billingsley-3.25

Strikeouts: Santana-114, Billingsley-128

Games Started: Santana-19, Billingsley-19

Innings Pitched: Santana-126.2, Billingsley-116.1

Hits Allowed: Santana-116, Billingsley-101

Runs Allowed: Santana-48, Billingsley-47

Earned Runs Allowed: Santana-40, Billingsley-42

Home Runs Allowed: Santana-14, Billingsley-8

Walks: Santana-35, Billingsley-50

Pretty equal, huh? Here's the big difference.

2008 Salary: Santana-$16,984,216, Billingsley-$415,000

If it's any consolation to Chad, his name is on my Dodger jersey. That should make up the extra $16,569,216.

Dinner last night: Chicken tenders at the Arclight.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Another Wednesday in This Chicken Outfit


It's the All Star Break, but baseball is just not the same without the Chicken.

---The All Star Game is like the Oscars. Lots of hype. It goes on way too long. And, by the next morning, you can't remember who won.

---Who did win last night?

---Maybe the real question is...is the game over yet? People leaving Yankee Stadium this morning ran into milkmen making their deliveries.

---Of course, the National League played for about 10 hours and still lost. Did they really think they had a chance? The NL hoping they would win is sort of like Kirstie Alley hoping that Big Macs would become a diet food.

---Before the game, they carted out lots of living Hall of Famers. And, from the looks of them, several dead ones.

---They carted Yankee dirtbag owner George Steinbrenner on a golf cart for one last hurrah. I hope his pre-paid funeral plans are all set.

---I pity the nurses who'll be waiting on him in his final days. Getting screamed at for not knowing how to bunt along a runner.

---I'm probably in the minority here, but I can't be bothered by the Home Run Derby. It's just one more ESPN event where Chris Berman is shoved down our throats like castor oil.

---Back, back, back, back...

---Don't you wish he was saying that as he was walking near the edge on the Santa Monica Pier?

---Of course, Yankee Stadium got the spotlight as the place winds down its existence. And getting all the press.

---Meanwhile, Shea Stadium is closing, too. And, except for Met fans, nobody seems to care.

---It's sort of like your neighborhood is losing a Nordstrom's and a EJ Korvette's in the same year.

---I am sick to death about hearing how 2008 is the closing of Yankee Stadium and its stature as this revered baseball cathedral.

---Correction. That Yankee Stadium closed in 1973. This Yankee Stadium is not that place. It was virtually rebuilt. The only thing in common is the dirt. Not even that fake facade is real.

---It's called lipstick on a pig.

---This Yankee Stadium is a dump. Shea Stadium is a sewer. They are essentially bus terminals with grass. Over and both out.

---And, next year, both fan bases will finally be without the smell of urine and flooded bathrooms.

---At double the prices.

---Fanny Mae. Freddy Mac. I have all my money tied up with Elly May and Bernie Mac.

---All these Maes makes our banking industry sound like an episode of Petticoat Junction.

---So this bank disaster is all about people not paying their mortgages?

---Three years ago, when I considered buying a condo in LA, I looked into these mortgage deals. I quickly realized that the terms would screw me down the road, so I didn't do it.

---Once again, the ignorant underbelly of this country now messes it up for everybody else.

---I actually heard one slob on the news say this: "This is America and I have a right to have my own house."

---Only if you can pay for it, stupid.

---Meanwhile, it's all apparently a moot point since the planet is burning up. You might have heard all the talk about the polar cap melting.

---What you don't read is that there is volcanic activity underneath and, from what I remember from high school science, that tends to be a little warmer than your morning cup of coffee.

---Water freezes and then it melts. That's what ice does.

---Maybe there's some sort of Zamboni machine they can run around up there.

---Of course, Al Snore covered this all in his Powerpoint presentation. Last year, his monstrosity of a home in Tennessee was cited as the biggest energy drain in the state.

---So, the state government worked with him to help make his home more energy efficient.

---This year, it has been reported that his electric bill went up another 10 percent.

---Tipper must be running the Cuisinart overtime.

---You can't write this type of comedy.

---And all of Martin Luther King Jr's kids are fighting over their old lady's estate. It seems two of the kids have been extorting from it.

---Well, at least, the dispute is non-violent.

---My father had an expression for this and I will share with any interested parties free of charge if you send me a private e-mail.

---The safest children in America must be Dodger outfielder Andruw Jones' kids. He refuses to hit them, too.

---Dodger owner Frank McCourt came out in the newspaper and lambasted the team for its lackluster play in the first half of the season.

---Manager Joe Torre read the story and said, "Is that it?"

---He's probably still combing the story and looking to see who's going to be fired.

---If you were the woman playing the first violin in the LA Philharmonic during last Saturday's Hollywood Bowl performance, please call. I thought you were adorable.

---I love all this drama about that New Yorker magazine cover depicting the Obamas as these Arab terrorists.

---It's called satire, folks. Anybody who's ever gone to an eye doctor appointment in Manhattan knows full well where the New Yorker leans.

---But, it's just one more time when Obama can remind us all that he is...

---Just like the coffee.

---And I am an equal opportunity offender. If an Ambien pill could talk, it would sound just like John McCain.

---Anytime I hear him talk, I feel like I'm back in Mr. Russell's Physics class.

Dinner last night: Chopped steak and salad.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Blog Post #500!!! --- A Photo Essay of My Saturday Errands

You've had 500 days of me in this blog. Well, 500 posts. There were actually two days when I posted twice, so perhaps we're really talking about 498 days of me. Now I'm already wondering what I will do to commemorate 1000 days. Unlike John F. Kennedy, I will not be riding in an open-air limousine through Dealey Plaza in Dallas.

But, that benchmark is down the road. We are at the 500 mark and what better way to celebrate 500 days than by showing you one. In pictures.

Please join me as I go about my Saturday errands all over Westwood, California.

The day, of course, begins at the computer as I post whatever I'm loading onto this blog site. This is Blogger Central, better known as the desk in my bedroom. You will note the dueling Met and Dodger stuffed animals. The pencil holder is a ceramic Met uniform with Mike Piazza's number on back. I haven't dressed yet, so we don't want to spend too much time here.

As I drove out of my garage for the errands, this is the first thing I had to see. Some dopes across the street have cleaned out their garage and offered it out to the public for sale. You see this all over my neighborhood on Saturdays. One man's junk become another man's...well, garbage. My church did a tag sale once, and you will be astounded who shows up at these things in the Los Angeles area. Movie studios canvas these yard sales stocking up their prop and wardrobe departments. There's a real find in this photo. Look at the wooden wheelchair on the left. Perfect if Paramount decides to do "FDR-The Musical."

Stop #1 for me is the dry cleaners. Or, should it be "are the dry cleaners." Well, anyway, when I was in the other apartment, they were right nearby. Then, we moved, but kept going to them. Then, they moved and we kept going to them anyway. So, if I ever move to San Diego, they'll probably do the same thing. The place is run by a very nice Korean family and the owner calls me "Mister Wren." One day, I dropped off a bundle while I was wearing a Dodger T-shirt. That prompted him to get very excited as he wanted to know all about how Korean-born pitcher Chan Ho Park was doing. I complied and that was a huge mistake on my part. Now, that's all we talk about whenever I show up. "Chan Ho he do good." Every single time.

Then, I usually stop for some pocket cash. I once left my ATM card in the machine and the bank totally impressed me with their customer service as a result of my sheer stupidity. Everybody in this branch is Persian, but we don't engage in too much friendly dialogue as the Dodgers currently do not have a Persian player on their roster.

I had a mail drop to do and this is one of those mailboxes where you don't even have to get out of your car. Of course, there was one time where I did this a little too quickly and my car (with its damaged driver's side mirror) wound up at... Well, let's just say there is a local auto body shop on my speed dial.

This is my favorite Ralph's Supermarket, although the entrance is totally obscured by the Best Buy next door. This is actually a very old building across from UCLA. Oddly enough, it used to be a Macy's, but has been completely overhauled to sell nothing but electronics and groceries. When I show up there on Saturdays, there is always some crowd of lunatics waiting for Best Buy to open. Forty five minutes later, you can find the same knuckleheads wheeling their HD TV purchases out to their cars. You see this week after effin week. And then I turn on the car radio and listen to the news about the current "recession." Uh-huh. People can't pay their mortgages, but that Discovery Channel sure does look great in High Def.

This Ralph's store features those automatic (translation: non-human) express lanes. They are amazing and confounding at the same time. Given the store's proximity to UCLA, these express lanes are usually frequented by Asian math students. And it amazes me just how confusing they find these very simple-to-operate machines. They spend 24/7 on their I-pods, their X Boxes, and cell phones. Yet, the simple task of scanning a box of Cocoa Puffs can take up to 15 minutes.

A snapshot of last Saturday's purchases. We horde Diet Snapples with Lemon. I regularly clean them out of these nifty 12 packs every Saturday morning. If you are looking to buy Diet Snapples in Westwood, you better get there before 10:20AM on Saturday morning. When the big earthquake hits, we will be the only home in Los Angeles where you can still enjoy a Diet Snapple.

I'm on line at the deli counter and incredibly bored, so I took this shot of the dairy section. My interest level is being challenged because this old couple is ahead of me and they are asking to sample every freakin' salad in the showcase. Ralph's will let you do this and I can swear some old fossils literally eat a whole lunch by taking samples. And they are surveying every single cold cut on display. "What's the difference between oven roasted turkey and maple roasted turkey?" It's turkey, damn it!! Slice the effin meat and get going! Meanwhile, one of the assistant manager eyes me suspiciously as I take pictures of his store. I'm sure he was thinking that I was prepping for some terrorist suicide attack against the challah bread.

For some bizarre reason, I always wind up driving past my old apartment during my Saturday errand run. This is the place we got tossed out of when the temple across the street decided to become some slum lords. There are people living in there again. I've checked the intercom directory and it looks like the White Pages in Tel Aviv. I wonder if the new tenants have discovered that their floor boards are acting as a Boston Market for termites. I expect to see this building in splinters any day now.

After dumping off the perishables at home, one of my favorite Saturday haunts is Laser Blazer, which is the leading DVD store in Los Angeles. Several of the clerks there have purchased two bedroom townhomes thanks to my patronage. And they have a computer system there that can list probably 98% of my DVD collection. My friends will shop there for my Christmas and birthday gifts, because the staff can easily call up what I already have. My visit there last Saturday also prompted a rare, but insightful conversation with the store owner. He knows me well, because there are only two people in their system with my last name. And he knows that I am Len and not Dieter. Anyway, we are chatting over a purchase and he was checking on my address. He jokes, "You haven't gone into hiding yet?" A throwaway line, but, for some strange reason, I let my guard down and reply with a political statement.

"No, not yet, but, given the two idiots running for President, I may hide under my bed for the next four years."

The owner nodded and said that he was going to go one better.

"If the wrong guy gets in, I am going to go and live with my gradnfather in Europe for a while."

He was dead serious. And I was wondering just which one he thought was the wrong guy. That revelation came almost immediately.

"I'm not looking for the change he's talking about."

Got it.

After a stop for gas, I was 75 dollars poorer. No need to show you a picture of the prices at the 76 station. Why document something you all know for yourselves? And then I went home for the afternoon. At this point, the Diet Snapple had been sufficiently chilled. And, with the central air in the apartment a cool 68 degrees, so was I.

Dinner last night: Dried cappacollo sandwich with salad.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Monday Morning Video Laugh - July 14, 2008

Summer fun---with idiots.



Dinner last night: Grilled turkey sausage.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

My Top 25 Favorite TV Shows: #12!



Yes, the TV show.

I repeat. Yes, the TV show.

One more time. Yes, the TV show.

There is only one "Get Smart." It is the TV show from the 60s. Yes, the TV show.

I look askance at anybody who has gone to see the current movie allegedly based on the show. I am astounded by those youngsters in the audience who think that this is just one more creation from the semi-fertile mind of Steve Carell. Hopefully, they all can get exposed to the original. Because it clearly was one of the best TV shows ever.

Yes, a TV show.

Okay, I'll stop.

Not only is "Get Smart" a cherished memory from my TV childhood, it also is probably the single reason why my parents finally relented and bought me a portable TV set for my own room. Back when, "Get Smart" was broadcast by NBC on Saturday nights. I immediately bought into all the silliness and lunacy. I felt like I was watching a Looney Tune cartoon with actual human beings. I loved the jokes. I loved, loved, loved Barbara Feldon as Agent 99. I was a buyer. Except for one wrinkle...

I rarely got to watch it. I lived in a two family house with me and my parents upstairs and my grandmother downstairs. Multi floors and, more importantly, multi TV sets. Two, to be exact.

And both were tuned to the freakin' "Lawrence Welk Show" which was on at the very same time. To this day, my hatred for all things Welk continues. "Wannerful, wannerful." Bullshit! I still cringe whenever I see either the Lennon Sisters, dancers Bobby and Cissy, and champagne bubbles. They were all keeping me from my beloved Max and 99.

Since I could be as obnoxious as a child as I purportedly am now, I did my darndest to show my displeasure at this flagrant brand of oppression. Why did two TV sets in one house both have to be tuned to this creepy old Dutchman? Where was the justice for me? I really made a pest of myself.

They couldn't take it anymore. Finally, at last, they Christmas gifted me with a portable TV. One of those big clunkers with the antennas you had to swing around depending upon whichever channel you were trying to connect to.

Two antennae which I promptly broke.

Uh oh.

But, not to be deterred, I figured it all. Even though they were not secured firmly to the top of the TV, they still worked if you somehow let them make some contact. And to get Channel 4, one had to be pointed one way and the other had to be resting against the closet. I had an intricate plan for every channel. Thank God there were only 5 or 6 channels to actually formulate. There was one station where the antennae had to be placed against the closed door of my room. Of course, everytime Mom or Dad entered, they got whacked in the eye. Oh, well. I had my "Get Smart."

My fandom was so fierce that I used the show's characters in a homework assignment. Some English teacher asked us to write an original satire, which meant 90% of the class didn't know what we were doing. After I figured out that satire translated to funny, I wrote myself a little short story about Max and 99. I have no idea what ultimately happened to it, but I know I'm still writing and that teacher is probably now dead.

"Get Smart" featured some of the smartest comedy writing ever seen on TV. And they managed to do things that you could certainly not get away with today, especially in light of the politically correct shackles we all must wear. Take, for instance, this wonderful bit from the episode with "The Craw."




They are putting out the box sets for the series. If all you know about "Get Smart" is what you saw in that stupid movie now littering our multiplexes, do yourself a favor and try the TV show. It was phenomenal.

Okay, would you believe....very good?

Dinner last night: Hollywood Bowl hot dog.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Misguided Corporate Logos

Here's an ideal post for people who can't read. It's all about pictures. And no explanation is needed. A tip of the cap to the Bibster for finding these little gems.
















Dinner last night: Ham French dip at Phillippe's---the Friday night Dodger pre-game ritual.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Your July 2008 Weekend Movie Guide


This is the glorious Pelham Picture House in Westchester, New York and is now perhaps one of the only single screen movie houses in the area glutted with antiseptic multiplexes. They are restoring it now to the splendor it once enjoyed when it first was built in the late 1930s.

Hopefully, a film in some terrific venue is on your visual dance card for the weekend. Once again, let me help you. I will sift through the movie pages of the LA Times and give you my gut reaction to what is now there waiting for your $11.50.

Hancock: Like clockwork, they open up a Will Smith movie around the Fourth of July. And each movie gets increasingly worse because this guy absolutely cannot act. And, now that he and his equally loony wife have given over to the Gospel According to St. Cruise, you need to think long and hard about whose pocket your Sno Cap money is going into it. I saw the trailer and the special effects are probably the worst I have seen ever.

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl: "No Way, An American Boy." The only people in the audience will be 11 year-old girls and 47 year-old child molesters.

Wall-E: Despite an incredibly dull trailer, this movie apparently has loads of charm. I will see it at the El Capitan as soon as the yellow school buses stop showing up outside. People I know who have seen it love the damn thing. Plus any movie that salutes the vastly underrated movie version of "Hello Dolly" is okay in my book.

Get Smart: No effin way. I would be staining the glorious memory of Don Adams. Audiences who have seen the film love it. People who fondly remember the TV show won't even see it. When do we get a vacation from Steve Carell please? Spoiler alert: the show comes up very, very shortly on My Top 25 Favorite TV Show list.

Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D: The 3D mention means either you have to wear some stupid glasses or perhaps it was filmed in somebody's third floor apartment. I hear that 85% of the movie was shot in front of a green screen. Give me the original, please, when they put little fins on some pet store lizards to make them look like ferocious dinosaurs. But the Brendan Fraser-Pat Boone trade-off is a wash: neither can act.

Sex and the City: Still hovering around like hangover breath. I saw it last month and it was way too long. Essentially five mediocre episodes of the show strung together. And Sarah Jessica Parker would have had better lighting if she had been arrested and interrogated for the murder of Jon Benet Ramsey, whose killer is apparently still on the loose.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army: Only after I see Hellboy I. Which will be sometime around the twentieth of never.

Meet Dave: Who knew that Eddie Murphy's best career move in the past ten years would be getting busted for hitting on a hooker?

Elsa and Fred: Some foreign film about two old geezers getting it on. Probably as sexy as one of those Porcelana ads on the nightly news. The bargain matinees will be packed.

Harold: A new kid in town gets picked on by the school bully and learns survival skills from a janitor. Excuse me? Is that not the exact plot of "The Karate Kid?" How much more blatant can a plagarist be? By the way, I think Ralph Macchio bagged my groceries at Ralph's last week.

National Lampoon's Homo Erectus: The satirical magazine is back and it hasn't been cutting edge since Gerry Ford fell down the stairs of Air Force One. This is either their take on cavemen or an architect living in West Hollywood.

Tell No One: I've heard good things about this mystery and allegedly has scenes of "disturbing violence." But, frankly, is there any type of violence that is not disturbing? And who are those people making blanket judgments for all of us?

Holding Trevor: Somebody looking for Mr. Right. There are no women in the cast. Do the math.

Diminished Capacity: Alan Alda as somebody dealing with dementia. No, it's not a documentary.

Kung Fu Panda: Hold the MSG...and my ticket.

The Love Guru: Will go over twenty dollars gross sometime this weekend. An idea that was a scream when if it was developed in 1972.

Wanted: Angelina Jolie as a trained assassin. The victims? Anybody in a theater showing it. Her lips are in 3-D and you don't even need those freakin' glasses.

You Don't Mess with the Zohan: I'll take your advice and avoid him like the plague.

Mamma Mia!: The ABBA stage production was exhilerating. Does it translate to the big screen? From the advance buzz, nope. And I'm hearing that Pierce Brosnan's singing will result in the type of emergency evacuations that have not been seen since Hurricane Katrina. Plus the theater audience will look like a rest station for the Gay Pride Parade. It hasn't opened yet, but you can't tell from the papers: ads are EVERYWHERE.

The Incredible Hulk: Lots of green, but none apparently at the box office.

The Happening: Director M. Night Shyamalan remains the filmmaker version of a one hit wonder. I remember when he directed that famous line "I see dead people." I, however, see a dead career. Time to pack it in and enter that CVS Pharmacy training program.

Mongol: You want to scare me away completely? Make any movie from an ancient period of world history, which reminds me that I got a C in this course during the 10th grade.

The Wackness: Perhaps I watched too much Sopranos. Unless it's spelled "whack," I'm not interested.

Dinner last night: Hamburger and German potato salad.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hands Free, My Ass!



It's been one week since the State of California imposed the "hands free" law with regard to phone use in automobiles. Now, if CHP catches you holding your cell phone and yakking it up while driving, you are ticketed and perhaps even shot.

This is one more example of a government law being enacted that is designed to show that they care about us---their voting populace. And it's all business as usual. Bullshit.

There are no statistics to prove that holding a cell phone while behind the wheel causes a significantly higher number of accidents. Indeed, it isn't the device that's confounding other motorists who watch their fellow buffoons weaving in and out of lanes. Nope. It's their lack of concentration that can kill us all.

Americans are an amazing lot. A society that loves to multi-task, despite the fact that most of them can't even do one single task correctly. Nowhere else on the planet are people so privileged and yet so lacking in their ability to deal with said privileges.

So, one more state now insists on a hands free phone device that will do nothing. Because the rest of the time, you will have the following jugheads behind the wheel doing a variety of things that they really should be doing someplace other than a freeway. All of the following I have actually seen with my own eyes:

---Some Dumb Dora kissing a little cocker spaniel that had its paws on the steering wheel. Put the freakin' cayoodle in the back seat. Because an accident is brewing with little Sparky on your lap when he decides to use your thigh like the newspaper laid out on the kitchen floor. Even better, maybe the little canine mistakes your knee for the cute little poodle next door.

---There was one idiot driving down Wilshire Boulevard with a crossword puzzle laid out on his steering wheel. Here's a answer for you: 7 letter word for Man Driving This Car---A-S-S-H-O-L-E.

---I literally was driving parallel to a car on the 405 Freeway. Except there was nobody behind the wheel. After a good 30 seconds, he finally popped up from the floor where he was retrieving some CDs. I am sure the paramedics will enjoy the background music from Coldplay as they cut you out of your car.

---On countless mornings, there is some stupid woman putting on make-up at every stoplight. Those false eyelashes will look charming when your entire head is covered with gauze. Get your scrawny ass out of bed five minutes early every morning and use the bathroom mirror.

---I saw somebody with a book propped up on the dashboard. I couldn't get close enough to see the title, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't "Unsafe At Any Speed" by Ralph Nader.

---I don't know how they managed this, but I once spotted some guy driving with a girl on his lap. Perhaps he was instructing her on how to use the stick shift.

---I actually rode with an associate once whose driving scared the Raisinets out of me. She was driving, but still insisted on making eye contact with me during our conversation. She kept turning away from the road to face me. I held onto the door handle for dear life. She's asked to drive me places since. I have respectfully declined.

So, there are state laws planned to curtail any of the above. So, enjoy your hands free device when you check in with the home front to find out if Brussel Sprouts are on the menu for dinner. But, feel free to do anything else that will severely divert your attention from the road ahead.

Hey, watch it, buddy!!!!

Sorry. I'm writing this blog entry on the way to the dry cleaners.

Dinner last night: Lasagna.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Our First Bozo-less Wednesday


While the original clown just died, you can be sure that there will be plenty of other jerks in the bulletpoints below.

---God Bless Southwest Airlines. They kicked some fat slob of a mother and her unruly brats off a return flight because she steadfastly refused to corral them.

---Of course, she BMWed (bitched, moaned, and whined) about the treatment, especially since one of the animals was allegedly autistic and the other had cerebral palsy.

---Heck, I used to watch that old Dennis James telethon in NY and those kids with palsy always seemed to be very well behaved. And seated in their chairs.

---It's amazing that, as soon as some trash in this country is confronted for bad behavior, out comes the handicap card.

---Next time I get stopped by a traffic cop, I'm going to try it.

---"Sorry, officer, I didn't see the stop sign because I just got over German measles."

---As a frequent flyer, I am ecstatic that an airline finally grew a pair. I've seen the worst of the worst at 35,000 feet. And all of these urchins always wind up banging the back of my seat.

---Meanwhile, some bleeding heart do-gooder felt so bad that they paid for the family's meal at McDonald's.

---And, from the look of the mother's size in all the pictures I saw, that must have been a healthy bill. There is now one McDonald's in this country that has run out of those apple pies until sometime in October.

---This big pile of dung and her human pets should not be flying. If they want to travel, they should put some duct tape on the back of their Country Squire, throw some wife-beaters in a brown paper bag, and hit the road.

---They held that bull race in Pampalona, Spain again and it's one more year when I root for the bulls.

---What kind of vacation is this? Trying to avoid getting gored by something weighing a thousand pounds?

---But, I suppose it could be worse. You could be sitting in the middle seat next to that family on Southwest.

---Who is Ashley Tisdale and why do I care?

---I'd pay good money to watch this Scrabble match: The now clinically befuddled Teddy Kennedy vs. the cranially scrambled Met outfielder Ryan Church.

---Between the two of them, they probably see about 45 fingers at that table.

---Keeping with the Bozo theme, let's discuss Mets closer Billy Wagner.

---The Flushing faithful are all abuzz over their weekend victories against the rival Philadelphia Phillies. Except Wagner did his darndest to blow both games.

---I have said it all along. Despite some impressive stats, this peckerwood is not the guy you want on the mound trying to close an important game.

---Jesse Orosco has nothing to worry about. You will never see Wagner throwing up his glove in a frenzy after he clinches a World Series.

---While I was in NY, I actually heard Billy Wagner's weekly radio commentary. The guy is incoherent. It's like listening to that Ernest guy describe nuclear fusion.

---My rule of thumb: if you can't put together a single sentence, you should not be on the radio.

---Which would pretty much render most of NY and LA's airwaves mute.

---The Dodgers seem to have finally gotten Joe Torre's message. I understand that half the team now refers to tomato sauce as "gravy."

---Andruw Jones returned to the line-up and immediately strike out four times in his first game. Glad to see that new knee is working out just fine.

---LA has gotten hot again. Time to make sure the elderly have plenty of water. And time to make sure that all the politicians in City Hall don't.

---I can't make heads or tails over Obama's flipflopping statements on Iraq. I haven't heard this much double talk since somebody from Brentwood took a limo to LAX for his midnight flight to Chicago.

---The same goes for McCain, whose economic plans sound like Lucy Ricardo trying to manage the household budget.

---Whoever wins the election will be looking to get out of the job by February 1, 2009. Because neither one of them will be able to do a darn thing to fix this country.

---Who are the Jonas Brothers and why do I care?

---I had a bizarre call from American Express regarding my corporate card. Even though the card is in my possession, they spotted some suspicious activity on it.

---I'm thinking somebody is using my number to buy a Lexus or perhaps continue a Columbian drug connection.

---Nope. The strange behavior was somebody in Glendale buying lots and lots of postage stamps from a Post Office vending machine.

---It's a sad day when it looks odd that somebody is actually going to mail a bunch of letters.

---I do, however, appreciate Amex's due diligence. And I'm thinking the thief might be the cab driver who picked me up at LAX last week, since he spent an awful lot of time running my credit card.

---Hopefully, he can mail me something. From jail.

---Now, that A-Rod has hooked up with Madonna, will he be signing up for Kabbalah?

---More important, will he even be able to spell it?

---I know who Amy Winehouse is and I don't care.

Dinner last night: Super Dodger Dog at the game.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Photo Essay - A Night at the Hollywood Bowl

It's a part of your life. Or so say the radio ads and all the billboards for the Hollywood Bowl.

And, for the last eight or nine years, I guess it has been as far as my life is concerned. Indeed, an idyllic summer night for me these days would be either a perch at Dodger Stadium or at the Bowl. Like clockwork, I initiated one more season at the latter on the Fourth of July.

The show that night was a perfect one for yours truly. The theme was the 50th Anniversary of the Dodgers in Los Angeles. There was baseball-related music played by the LA Philharmonic from "Field of Dreams" and "The Natural." Randy Newman played "I Love LA," which has become the song played after every Dodger home win. Some dude who spends his life pretending he is Danny Kaye did two numbers and I was hoping he would meet up with some other guy who spends his life pretending he is Sir Laurence Olivier. The Dodger organist, beloved Nancy Bea Heffley, played through intermissions as well as accompanying us all on a "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" sing-along led by Tommy Lasorda, who also told the same four hoary jokes he has been telling at rubber chicken banquets for years.

They dragged out some marginal Dodger greats, but, apparently, folks like Steve Garvey, Maury Wills, and Sandy Koufax had other barbecue plans. We got to hear the comforting tones of Vin Scully, who narrated a version of "Casey at the Bat" that was adapted to fit Kirk Gibson's 1988 game winning World Series homer hit when he had less mobility than one of Jerry's Kids.

And, of course, there was fireworks, wine, fireworks, and more wine. The photos below can't let you hear it all...or give you the buzz from some fruit infused champagne. But, at the very least, you can see a little bit of what I saw and enjoyed.

When you go to the Hollywood Bowl, this is the very first thing you need to deal with. Parking is extremely limited, and the lots are all stacked. Essentially, that means if you plan on going into labor mid-concert, you might as well give birth in the street. You can't get your car out until the show is over. And, of course, that means you might be hemmed in by some cars whose drivers are slow as shit coming back to their vehicles. Oddly, I have been very lucky with the stacked parking and the longest I have waited is about thirty minutes. Usually, you've already got a buzz on and you don't even notice how long you're waiting. Or where you are in the first place.

A nifty view of the Hollywood Bowl marquee and it eerily reminds me of the sign that used to be in front of the old Elmsford Drive-In theater in New York. What happened to marquees? They are wonderful, especially if there is a misspelling and you can read that "Diana Boss" is playing at the Bowl later this month.

It's a healthy walk from the stacked parking up the hill to the Bowl itself. So, if you need some fortification, how about a sausage, peppers, and onions sandwich cooked by an illegal alien? This woman has been setting up camp outside the parking lots as long as I can remember. The food smells really good and it's no surprise. It's sizzling in grease on a grill that hasn't been cleaned since the Beatles played the Bowl in 1965. I've always been tempted to try it, but, for some reason, a heart attack in the gutter on Highland Avenue is not my ideal way to die. This woman looked away as I was snapping this picture. She probably thought I was initiating some undercover INS sweep.

To get to the Bowl entrance from the parking lots, you need to go through this tunnel that cuts across a major thoroughfare. For me, it's like I am back in NY and going down into the subway. Only this tunnel doesn't smell like urine. Part of the Bowl fun is the trip up to the arena. When I entertain out-of-town guests, I insist on taking them to the Bowl and making the same trek we always do. It is as much a part of the ambience as the show itself. In all my years, there was only one visitor who didn't enjoy a night at the Bowl. Said gloomy person complained about everything. The walk up the hill. The bench-like wooden seats (which we now have cushions for). The heat. The people. It was one miserable moment after another for this person and, as a result, an equally horrible night for me. I do believe that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has initiated legislation preventing this now ex-friend from ever setting foot in the state again.

At the end of the tunnel, there is always this saxophonist who has adapted his playlist to whatever is that evening's theme at the Bowl. On Friday, when I approached wearing my Dodger jersey, he immediately dove into a jazzy rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

The other end of the tunnel with directions for all those people who took buses to the Bowl. Most of the structures around the Bowl have this great Art Deco look, which is no surprise since the whole place was built back when Art Deco himself invented this style.

A pre-show view from my seats. At this point, you might be eating from whatever picnic basket you brought. And juggling your wine glass, a sandwich, some fruit, and a program. Or, as was the case for me Friday night, knocking over a large soda which dripped down about fifteen rows.

My seats on the side sections cost about 30 bucks less than the club seats right next door and the only difference is these folks have a little rickety table from which they can eat their Gelson's delicatessen-catered meals. My view is the same and cheaper. The only problem is that, with that goofy table, I would not have accidentally kicked over my large soda which dripped down fifteen rows.

The show starts and every member of the orchestra is wearing a Dodger jersey. Tommy Lasorda will later refer to them as the Los Angeles "Philharmonica."

Dusk has departed and, with the evening darkness, the wonderful colors of the Bowl become even more vibrant. I thought this was a particularly beautiful moment and, apparently, so did the pinhead in front of me. I'm just happy his camera still worked as it was the first casualty of the errant large soda that dripped down fifteen rows.

Okay, if you want a perfect picture of fireworks mid-explosion, call Ansel Adams.

On your walk down the hill after every Bowl show, the night is not complete unless you hear a rendition from the Singing Dog. I think this guy is part-religious nut, part-homeless bum, and part-street performer. But, he is there every single night with the worst ventriloquist act ever and some unrecognizable hymn. The funny thing is the guy does work year-round. When the Bowl ends its summer season, I have found him parking outside the Ahmanson Theater downtown during the winter. With the exact same act.

Come and enjoy with me sometime. And, except for one certain someone out there, you're all cordially invited.

Dinner last night: Grilled turkey sausage, potato salad, and beets.