Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Just Another Saturday Night at the Motion Picture Academy

I spent Saturday night with The Great Race. No, it was not a meeting of the local Klu Klux Klan. It was simply another attempt (successful) to spend a cinematic evening without venturing to the local multiplex.

Having spent the previous weekend seeing a piece of crap at a Yonkers movie theater which had more people talking in the audience than on the screen, I was craving a renaissance. Frankly, in retrospect, I don’t know how people in New York can handle it. There’s really no movie palaces there anymore. Most of the theaters are 15-plexes and the same Seth Rogan film is playing in a third of them. Nowhere in the tri-state area is anyplace where you can embrace and fondle motion picture history.

No, to do that, you need to move to LA. Every weekend, you can find someplace that is playing something old. And something good. To an audience that is largely respectful and not in the middle of a iPhone conversation with their cousin. And that is what I found in my first Academy screening at the Mary Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Hollywood.

If that sounds a little academic, some of it was. The MPAAA has taken over a Hollywood building and installed a state-of-the-art movie theater in it. And it’s all devoted to educating about the moviemaking process. If you are serious about film, they are serious about you. The walls there are adorned with wonderfully restored classic movie posters. There is a floor-to-ceiling Oscar that was probably used on a previous award night at the Kodak Theater. I tapped my hand on it. Yep, plastic.

I’m still not quite sure what prompted the screening of “The Great Race.” Before the sold-out show, there were some very humorous comments from some film historian who explained in very simplistic terms the evolution of color photography from Technicolor to Panavision. I now understand so much about this topic that I could change my middle name to Eastman. This dude was followed by the wife of director John Landis who is also a costume designer. As a matter of fact, Landis was there several rows away from me and I realized that I’ve already seen him at several screenings in the past year. I probably have gone to the movies with him in the past 12 months more than some of my longtime friends. Mrs. Landis yakked it up about how colors are important to a film and how costume design is more important to a movie than sound. This point was hammered home about 20 minutes later when the soundtrack went off during the movie. Yet, we could still tell what was going on and people were still laughing.

”The Great Race,” which supposedly was a box office flop when first released in 1965, has improved with age. It’s essentially a live action Road Runner cartoon and, if you accept that notion going in, it’s a success. The movie, as presented on Saturday night, never looked or sounded better. The stars, which include Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Peter Falk, and Natalie Wood, never were funnier. Around me were industry folks with, more importantly, their children. The kids were laughing along in amazement and Will Ferrell was nowhere to be found up on that screen. Not only was “The Great Race” entertaining, but, on this one evening, it was heartening. A reminder that you could still see a good movie on a Saturday night in 2009. Albeit a good movie that is 44 years old.

Oddly enough, the movie geek in me wound up focusing on two of the supporting players. Vivian Vance has several quick scenes as the wife of the newspaper publisher and it dawned on me that, except for game shows and a one shot guest appearance on “Rhoda,” I have never seen her perform without Lucille Ball. And I wondered how a perfectly capable actress never parlayed more of a career without the redhead.

I then mused on another member of the cast. Dorothy Provine plays a Texas saloon girl in one segment and I recalled her being some hot tamale back when I was a kid. You couldn’t flip a dial or see a movie without her popping up somewhere. But, when I looked her up on the internet, I discovered that she had retired from acting right after “The Great Race.” Why? How did she decide to go from movie hero to citizen zero in a heartbeat? More than the discussion on Technicolor and magenta gowns, I wanted answers to these questions.

But, this is Hollywood and I probably will get those puzzles solved eventually. In some screening of a classic movie. In a great venue. Miles and miles and miles away from some crummy, rundown multiplex on Central Avenue in Yonkers, New York.

Dinner last night: Evelyn's Favorite Pasta at The Cheesecake Factory.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday Morning Video Laugh - March 30, 2009

The Lennon Sisters??

Dinner last night: German salami on a kaiser roll.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Shea Loge Section 7 Through the Years

My Shea seats after the last game at Shea Stadium. Continuing on with Part 2 of my book essay, "The Saturday Plan."

I graduated from college, and, except for Shea on Saturdays, I had no idea where I was going. The same could be said for the Mets. The team was dismantled, or, in reality, dis-Seavered. The Mets were now controlled by a Norman Lear sitcom---a baseball team run by three madcap career women known as the DeRoulets. I was equally directionless. My Communications degree hadn’t given me a single clue as to what came next other than student loan payments. Yet, by some sort of rote, I kept my Saturday plan. Perhaps one last connection to youth and college. My luck at finding a job was about as sparse as the Shea crowds. I wanted to be a writer like Neil Simon, but was about as successful as Neil Allen.

To make matters worse, I now recognized no one else in Section 7. Consistency had been slain in the loge. Brown wooden seats became blue plastic ones. I now had trouble finding people to go out to games. Don’t tell me you still have those tickets, they would say as their lives always got in the way. I could have upgraded my seats to an even better location. I didn’t. There was something about my seats.

These years and games and Saturdays and players blurred together. Torremaddoxmontanezkobellockwoodyoungblood. I remember one Saturday game that was scoreless for about six or seven days until a Lenny Randle somebody ended it with a homer. That was it for excitement for about eight years. Trying to incite a riot, the Mets turned every Saturday into a giveaway day. Besides incredibly bad baseball, I was also getting Met gym bags, golf caps, wallets, and photo albums. I used similar measures to fill Seat Two. Sure, it’s September and it’s cold and the Mets are about two hundred games out of first place, but you have to see this guy they just called up. Mookie something or other. I gave thought to ending my Saturday tradition. I didn’t. There was still something about my seats.

Coincidentally, the Mets and I got unfunked at about the same time. I landed in broadcast management and also started to do a lot more writing, some of which actually got read. Nelson Doubleday bought the team. Disco was dead, but my Saturday tickets became a hot commodity again. My best friend from high school, who had been a Seat 2 fixture prior to the Tom Seaver fire sale, was singlehandedly propelled back by the mere presence of that very Mookster. The Saturday plan now included night games, which was fine because I had long ago eschewed the South Bronx subway safari in favor of a Toyota Corolla. And they played lots of oldies between innings. Songs that I had heard Jane Jarvis play on the Thomas Organ in 1968 were now blared via the original 45s. My childhood had become my own nostalgia.

And the team was getting good, to boot. A Dwight Gooden two-hitter. Darryl’s ninth inning heroics. Strawberry Saturdays. I began to keep an elaborate scorebook and even charted the Met starting pitcher, making me the only one in the section who could instantly call up a pitch count. And, we once again saw the same faces every week. In particular, there was the young couple at the other end of our row. We watched them come to games as newlyweds. We watched her come to games in that family way. We watched as Mom stopped coming to games so that her husband could bring their young son.

The 1986 season was our ultimate reward for sitting through five years of Doug Flynn’s potential. Once again, it was the World Series and time for long underwear and Ray Knight games. This time, my Saturday plan earned me two seats in the flight pattern on the first side of Terrace on the Park. On the Saturday night that would become Bill Buckner’s five seconds in Hell, I submerged down to the loge to visit a friend. I ventured past Section 7 to see just who was seated in my usual throne on a night that should have been mine. It was Bob Costas of NBC. All those years of Saturdays and heartaches, just to have my seat surface at the Will Call window. I hoped that Bob’s pitch count was off by two.

With the Mets as perennial contenders and ultimate pretenders during the late 80s and early 90s, my high school best friend and I never missed a Saturday. Maturity had turned us into baseball analysts. We over-managed. We under-managed. We barely managed at all. And we watched as, Saturday after Saturday, the Mets always had men on second and third, nobody out, and wouldn’t score.

In the adult era of my Saturday life, there were those odd occasions when my high school buddy couldn’t sit in Seat 2 and the replacement part would be---a woman. In earlier years, Seat 2 featured an extremely low feminine quotient, partly because I didn’t invite many and partly because I didn’t know many. Eventually, testosterone did triumph, and I realized that, yes, women, too, could enjoy baseball. I even ended up taking my mother to a Saturday game, as she had taken the Baseball 101 master class as taught by Adjunct Professor Tim McCarver. She enjoyed herself immensely, but retired after one game to return to the sanctity of WWOR.

Later on, I ran into a girl who I had a major crush on in college. I hadn’t seen her in ten years, so, naturally, it made perfect sense to take her on a Saturday test drive. I had forgotten she was originally from Baltimore and might have been a third cousin of Andy Etchebarren. With the wounds of 1969 still apparently fresh, she rooted against the Mets the whole game. A mental note was made and baseball was never discussed again.

Dinner last night: Smoked pork at Lou.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Classic TV Theme of the Month - March 2009

Sometimes, I only watched the first three minutes of the show...just to see how they were going to point you to THAT GIRL.

Dinner last night: Salad bar from Gelson's.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Honk If You Love Black Jesus

Driving around in LA, I get endless amusement from trying to figure out the message behind the vanity license plates. Most of the idiots who do that are craving for attention, primarily because they are nobodys who don't merit any attention.

Even more amusing are the bumper stickers and they always seem to have a political slant. Over the past four years, most of them in Liberal LA were Bush-centric. One even went as far as to have the simple image of Bush alongside a swastika.

But, now, oh so slowly, the other half of the population is coming up with their own messages to adorn fenders and bumpers all across the LA basin. And now my thought is that all of these stickers are probably written by the same guy. Some apolitical guy with a printing machine in his garage someplace outside Provo, Utah. He's the true genius who has figured out how to turn it all into a profit, regardless of who's running the country. He's brilliant because he 's the one of the few who have truly discovered that they're all jerks.

Nevertheless, here's some of the hotter bumper stickers from the right side of the road.

Dinner last night: Roast beef panini from Clementine's.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Self Mutilation at the Multiplex

Hmmm. Let's see. What are my other choices?

Staple gun to the forehead?

Boiling lye poured into my ear canals?

See "I Love You, Man?"

Having done the last one, I probably would have preferred the first two options.

This was the absolute last movie I expected to see last Friday night while I was in NY. But, a movie event was planned as a way to get together with some one time good friends. And, since I was busy all day Friday, I left it the evening's agenda up to others. The movie choice was buried in a series of short e-mails.

"Meet us at Movieland, 7:00PM."

"I already bought the tix."

"Later. Oh, by the way, we're seeing the Paul Rudd movie."

Naturally, since Paul Rudd now makes a movie every single week, this could have meant a myriad of films. And I had a false sense of security since his last movie "Role Models" was unexpectedly delightful. But, no, I wouldn't be so lucky this time around.

I somehow was going to see "I Love You, Man."

Now I wish I had my own personal Human Resources department so I could start write-up procedures to fire friends. Three bad movie selections and you're out. When I lambasted my buddy for this choice when we arrived at the place of execution, he explained it away by saying that Jason Segel was in it and that he was also in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," which my pal loved. I hated that movie as well and now my friend is looking even less likely for a Christmas card this year.

To say "I Love You, Man" was dreadful is akin to saying that the Holocaust was simply a carpet stain. I would call this mess probably one of the five worst movies I've seen. Visine and/or a gun needs to be given to moviegoers as they exit the theater. Even more confusing to me is the fact that this film got pretty good reviews from critics. And they wonder why newspaper circulation is down. Entertainment Weekly gave it an A. When is my subscription up?

The premise is pretty simple. Paul Rudd, who needs to be rested by cast directors for one year minimum, is a would-be groom who realizes he has no close male friends to be his best man. Of course, the entire situation becomes completely implausible during the first five minutes when you're introduced to Paul's younger brother, albeit gay, who is a perfectly ideal choice to hold the ring. But, because this would negate the need for the next 90 minutes and their paycheck from the production company, the scriptwriters conveniently ignore the thought that Rudd should simply ask his brother to be best man. It made no sense to me and ruined any level of credibility the moviemakers could have even attempted to achieve.

So, of course, Rudd hooks up with the terminally annoying Jason Segel, who is following in the footsteps of Will Ferrell as being the actor I least want to be on any screen anywhere. Like Ferrell, Segel is a one note only actor and has about as much range as Jeff Kent did at second base for the Dodgers. The writers let you know this guy is edgy simply because he never cleans up his dog's shit. Now, that's a complex character flaw that I can chew over. Not to forget the absolute hilarity that ensues when countless film extras step in it.

When not focused on canine piles, there are several scenes of people puking on each other. I might be the exception but I cannot ever remember throwing up on somebody. Is this happening in the world a lot? Am I living too sheltered an existence? Or is it simply the new surefire comic device? And wouldn't Billy Wilder's "The Apartment" have turned out so much better if Shirley McLaine's character, fresh from a pill overdose, simply blew chunks onto Jack Lemmon's suit? And, having written that, I will now commit to this: if Hollywood ever tries to remake that movie with either Jason Segel or Will Ferrell in the lead, I will run a sharp object across my throat until blood curdles up through my nose.

Lots of stupid stuff happens the rest of the way and I simply bided my time by trying to recognize some of the LA-based locations. "Oh, that's the Grove shopping center. I wish I was there and not in this theater." Lou "The Hulk" Ferrigno shows up for an extended cameo which would have worked if anybody under the age of 30 knew who the hell he was. Nevertheless, amid all the confusion, the inexplicably packed theater guffawed at all the right places. And all the wrong places. In a comedy as bad as this one, it's hard to tell where the hilarity ends and the coma begins. But, what do these people know? Most of the folks around me were on their cell phones or Black Berrys, looking for their next Friday night diversion.

As one screen comedy after another fails for me, I start to worry whether I have grown humorless. Especially when critics and reviews extol the virtues of some dreck like "I Love You, Man." Is it me? Am I too old, too jaded, and too everything else? But then, out of the blue, I love something similar like "Role Models" and I realize it's all about the script and the acting. I'm just fine.

As long as I find some new friends fast.

Dinner last night: Penne with sausage at Maria's Italian Kitchen.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, It's Off to Wednesday We Go

From high above the country at 35,000, where I'm really grumpy and sleepy.

---The guy next to me is sneezy.

---The guy in 8D doesn't look very happy.

---When you look at the country from this distance, you don't see how dopey they are.

---At the Admirals Club in NY, there are now four computers for use. Except they are always tied up by some senior citizens.

---What could they possibly need the internet for? The AARP website?

---One guy sat there and stared at the screen, reading the same ESPN story over and over.

---Excuse me, sir, I'm still a working stiff and need to check in with somebody that pays my salary.

---In the way!

---Of course, when I'm that age, I'll still be totally viable.

---American Airlines trashed my rolling luggage on the way in. Ended up minus a wheel and half a bottom.

---The only way they would let me claim any damage is if something was protruding.

---You mean, like a knife?

---I've flown a million miles on them and this is really the first luggage incident ever. So I'm not that pissed.

---But, I am thinking about that commercial where the ape throws a suitcase around a cage. Then, I look at some of the guys on the tarmac and I wonder why they downsized from the simian.

---Who knew that the joking President Obama got his start in stand-up? At Catch A Rising Democrat?

---With all the funny lines on Leno and 60 Minutes, I was waiting for him to say "Take my wife, please."

---Of course, he would have had no takers.

---And we all thought Biden was the funny one.

---Of course, Obama's nothing without his teleprompter. But, then again, neither is anybody who's on SNL.

---On NY radio, I don't think I heard a single voice in English.

---Except for the weatherman, Mr. G, who still is telling you to "schlep the umbrella."

---I swear I heard this show. "Rambling with Juan Gambling."

---The World Baseball Classic hit Dodger Stadium hard over the weekend. I watched the finals on TV in NY. Between Japan and Korea.

---The Dodger Dogs might have really been...

---With all the Asians in attendance, I wonder how many fender benders there were in the parking lot.

---Hopefully, I don't find any half-eaten eel under my seat when I show up for Opening Day in three weeks.

---The flight attendant says I need to put the computer away for landing.

---And then did you hear about...

---Okay, Miss, I am shutting it down now!


Dinner last night: Back in LA at Islands for a BLT.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Shit For Brains - The NY Edition

In the city where the pooper scooper first got its start, here I am pointing out once again some of the morons I encountered in my last week in New York. Shit for Brains goes bi-coastal.

How about the long line in the deli where I am trying to pay for my sandwich? And the asshole in front of me ties up the service because he is challenging whether the hot dogs are really kosher. Okay, you ignoramus, the guy behind the counter looks like an extra from Al Jolson's "The Jazz Singer." He is explaining kosher laws to you in broken Yiddish. Do you really think he himself is going to break religious law by serving you Oscar Meyer pork by-products? As if you could even tell the difference. Shit For Brains!

I heard this exchange between two dopes in the lobby of the Vivian Beaumont Theater at intermission of the latest Broadway revival of "South Pacific."

Dope 1: "The first act is way too long."

Dope 2: "Yeah, they probably needed to cut it down during previews."

Dope 1: "Obviously, the writers couldn't be bothered."

Huh??? Have you two schmucks been to a Broadway show? Ever?? I bet while you were at the show, your TiVo at home was set to record "My Name is Earl." Talk about a couple of dumbbells. "South Pacific" was written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein about 60 years old. Neither one of them are available for extensive rewrites as it's tough to do when you're dead. Anybody with a slight bit of Broadway knowledge knows that "South Pacific" is the longest first act in musical comedy history. But, not these two yokels. I wanted to come up from behind and bang their empty heads together. Shit For Brains.

I cannot believe this is still happening on Metro North. On a late afternoon commute home, you are looking for a seat on these new fangled train cars which are very comfortable. Except for the human trash who decides that a four-seater is the equivalent of the Barcalounger in his living room. Shoes off, big toe sticking out of a sock, buried deep inside the New York Post. I saw this three or four times in the past several days. And it's not like they don't make a specific announcement about this on the loudspeaker. One guy curled up across three seats as if he was an overnight flight to Singapore. Another phenomenon I have noticed: the biggest culprits for this offense these days are Asian businessmen. Look, Ito, I don't give a shit what time you had to be at work to check the Tokyo stock market. None of it allows you to turn two available seats into your own personal Serta Sleeper. Shit For Brains.

Sidewalks in some NY side streets are still fairly narrow. But, that doesn't stop a couple of tourist hayseeds from Bumfuk, Louisiana to stop in one spot and carry on a discussion about where to put on their feedbags for dinner. And they take up the whole sidewalk which requires you to walk into the street just to pass them.

Hayseed 1: "Where was that Olive Garden in Times Square?"

Hayseed 2: "I don't think we have time for that. Let's go to the McDonald's next to the theater in case Adrian Zmed arrives early to the stage door."

Er, excuse me as I try to get past you and don't mind if I step in that huge pond of water that has formed in the gutter. Shit For Brains.

New Yorkers are perpetually on the go. Walking the streets of Manhattan, human bumper to human bumper. You're moving along at a good clip like everybody else when, suddenly, you walk into the back of the asshole in front of you who has stopped dead in his or her tracks. Why? Because they have stopped to type an e-mail.

This happened almost a half dozen times over the past several days. Severe and sudden body contact made because some idiot is iPhoning, Black Berrying, or reporting back to whatever mother ship left them on this planet. And it's not as if business is being conducted. I would venture to guess that most of these knuckleheads are checking in at home to see what's for dinner. Or confirming on Moviefone.com that Duplicity is starting at 7:20PM at the Clearview Cinema in Bronxville. Dopes! They're banning these things behind the wheel. I would add that restriction to the sidewalks as well.

And let's also shitcan the cell phone on commuter trains as well. How many times do I hear this screamed out loud in the closed confines of Metro North?


I could confirm that. So could most of the population of Toronto, Canada, which also heard about your current location. Now, I understand that, in post 9/11, loved ones check in periodically to announce that they are okay. But, overkill has set in like weeds. And it is continually amazing in America to see so many people trying to multi-task when most of them can't even do one thing at a time with any modicum of effectiveness. Why? Because they all have...

Shit For Brains!

Dinner last night: Salami sandwich.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday Morning Video Laugh - March 23, 2009

Oh, my goodness!!

Dinner last night: Virginia ham and German potato salad.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Sunday Memory Drawer - My First Days in Section 7

Baseball approacheth. This will be my first season without Saturday games at Shea Stadium. This will be my first season with Saturday games at Citi Field. And we all know it won't be the same.

As you know, my essay entitled "The Saturday Plan" was published last year in a commemorative book saluting Shea Stadium. Here's the opening of that piece as I focus on my very first days and years in Loge, Section 7.

Friday, January 12, 1968. The year would be eventful for the country. Assassinations. Protests. Riots. For me, as well.

I had just discovered that Shea Stadium had an elevator.

On this spring-like afternoon, this young boy stood in the New York Mets elevator between his father and a representative of the Mets ticket office. I considered this imminent dual emergence of manhood and fanhood.

I was going to pick out my very own exclusive seats for my new Saturday ticket plan.

So, what were my perks as part of Met royalty? Would I get to ride this nifty elevator during the season? Discounts on hot dogs? I made a mental note to speak with Met management to voice my displeasure about trading Tommy Davis to the Chicago White Sox for some lightweight centerfielder named Agee something. They had to listen to me, right?

This burgeoning chain of events had been perpetuated by my parents’ annual Christmas gift dilemma for a young son who was too old for toys, too young for appliances, and never quite appreciative enough for clothes. The Purgatory of Presents. But, on Christmas of 1967, novelty paid a rare visit to our Westchester household.

My parents’ notion of giving me my own exclusive Met tickets for every Saturday certainly reeked of logic usually reserved for Ward and June Cleaver. The summer before, I had made my first solo trips to Shea Stadium with several other kids in the neighborhood. Ninety minutes on the subway. Through the South Bronx, when it was still safe for youngsters to pop off unattended for an afternoon of culture as presented by Ed Kranepool and Jack Fisher. I was obviously now ready for a steadier commitment. Every Saturday afternoon at Shea. For about eight or nine Saturdays a year, I would automatically have something to do.

Loge Level, Section 7, Row E, Seats 1 and 2. On the aisle. Under the overhang in case of rain. $2.50 per ticket. I owned a piece of the rock, or, in this case, the landfill. The only parental stipulation was that whoever used the second seat had to pay me for the ticket. I was getting the Christmas present, not the entire neighborhood.

Saturday, April 22, 1968. Mets 3, Dodgers 2. Tom Seaver’s eighteenth major league victory. My first Saturday plan game. Seat 2: my childhood best friend Leo, who wasn’t even born in this country. American democracy at work. Leo paid me the $2.50 before we even left for the game. During those initial seasons in Section 7, my father would always reserve that particular Saturday when the San Francisco Giants were in town. My father hadn’t been a New York Giants fan, but this new tradition just felt right.

I never asked for the $2.50 those weeks.

I discovered that the same faces sat around me every Saturday. There was the Archie Bunker prototype in Seat 3 who mispronounced the simplest of Met names. “Tim Foil-ee.” “Al Wise.” “Jack The Lawyer.” There were the two feeble guys in Seats 5 and 6. One of them went down to the bathroom every half inning. They came to be known as Frick and Frack.

As I matured, so did the Mets. My arrival on the scene coincided with the onset of the Gil Hodges regime, which seemed to instantly end the rather uncomfortable six year puberty otherwise known as Casey Stengel and Wes Westrum. My second season in Section 7 brought a World Championship to Flushing, although I think Cleon and the Glider had more to do with it than I did. Ironically, the Saturday game that stands out most during that season was a particular loss on September 20. The late Bob Moose of the Pittsburgh Pirates tossed a no-hitter than afternoon, which did not faze those in attendance one iota: the Chicago Cubs had already lost and one more magic number was erased.

The first sobering reminder that I was not exactly that high on the Met priority list came with the post-season realization that they don’t give you the same seats for the playoffs or the World Series. As my dad and I were escalated to the upper deck for Game 3 of the 1969 National League Championship Series versus the Atlanta Braves, he silently smoldered as he realized that he was going to be higher than the plane that flew him home from Japan after World War II. All he said was “They better end it today.” Hank Aaron hit a rope to dead center off Gary Gentry, Nolan Ryan shut the door, and they did. The Mets became the World Champions and I took a science midterm the next day.

I began college in the 70’s, but, as I never left the New York area, no Saturday modifications were needed. My parents decided that I was now financially responsible enough to pay for the seats myself. No problem. I was now old enough to appreciate clothes for Christmas. There was a smooth transition in Seat Two. My childhood best friend gave way to my college best friend and roommate. There were ups and downs on the field. A Staub. A Matlack. A Millan. A Schneck. Another pennant.

And we almost didn’t notice. In those days, there was this girl who must have had a Saturday plan in Section 5. Row C. Blonde hair. Blue eyes. Probably no more than seventeen. And absolutely perfect. We saw her every Saturday for three years. We watched her every moment. We once followed her down the ramp into the parking lot.

And, in our own little microcosm of life, we never said a single word to her.

Dinner last night: Short ribs at Mima in Irvington.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Classic Movie Trailer of the Month - March 2009

Before there was Private Ryan, there was The Longest Day with an all-star cast. Saw this with my father at the Brandt Theater in Yonkers.

Dinner last night: Fajita Steak sandwich at Blue Moon in Bronxville.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Kissing Your Sister

Those of you who thought you were going to get something very provocative when you saw that headline can put your filthy minds back into the drawer for another forthnight. This is a movie review, folks.

In the weekend movie guide I did last week, I noticed this documentary was around and I wrote that it was apparently some big game I knew nothing about. One of my regular readers reminded me that it was indeed, back in 1968, a big deal. Since I have about as much interest in college football as I do in treating ingrown toenails for a living, the enormity of this contest between Harvard and Yale naturally escaped me. But there was enough of a quest for learning that I was propelled to see the film. And I am certainly glad I did.

These days, I am finding that documentaries are immensely more interesting than any three hour CGI-laden piece of junk directed by some kid who learned how to construct story arcs on an Atari machine. I can tick off a bunch that have captivated me in the past year. Man on Wire. Crazy Love. Frontrunners. And now...Harvard Beats Yale 29-29.

The set-up is pretty simple. No spoiler alert is needed since the end of the movie is in the title. Both Harvard and Yale are undefeated. Yale is the much better team and they are expected to trounce Harvard. But, in an emotionally draining last two minutes of the game, the Crimson come from way behind to tie. And, in fact, win since the tie is their moral victory. Hence, the title of today's post. A tie in sports is just like kissing your sister. Moving on...

Through player interviews and TV footage, you pretty much follow the entire game in this movie. After listening to one of the players who makes a key play for Harvard at the end of the game, you find out in the closing moments of the film that he has just passed away. Bittersweet but wonderful to know that his moment in the sun will shine forever. You meet one of the Yale tackles who apparently was dating Meryl Streep at the time.

And then there's the Harvard guard, actor Tommy Lee Jones. Who knew? Oddly enough, of all the players on camera, Jones is oddly incoherent as he is seemingly incapable of forming complete sentences. He talks about his college roommate, the woefully inept former Vice President Al Gore. During their off hours, Gore and Jones liked to amuse themselves by playing "Dixie" on the then-new push button phones. And this tool ran for President?

The remarkable thing about this film is that it took this viewer back to a time and a point in sports history that I knew absolutely nothing about. Each of the players becomes a character in what really morphs into a thriller of a movie. And it is all real. Another validation that the best and most creative cinematic moments come from life itself.

Watchmen fans need not apply.

Dinner last night: Orange beef and dim sum at Ollie's Noodle with two of my favorite young people prior to a performance of "South Pacific" at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in Lincoln Center.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Yakety Yak Don't Talk Back

Here's what happens when you give a microphone to idiots. The past week had some pretty public arguments that once again had the rest of us overreacting. And, at the end of each day, you dissect it all and you're left with Porgy's plenty of nuthin'.

Take, for instance, the now celebrated and overly analyzed skirmish between CNBC's financial comedian Jim Cramer and Comedy Central's nightly comedian Jon Stewart. I will admit to not having seen any of this myself. I have caught Stewart's Daily Show more infrequently than I would like, but I do find it clever when I tune in. Hopefully, Stewart stays with this program for the rest of his life because it finally provides him with the one thing that he has succeeded with in his career. As an actor, he's a piece of wood. As a stand-up, he's a piece of wood. As an Oscar host...yep, a piece of wood. But, here on this one daily program, he's perfect. Still, the entire Cramer-Stewart dialogue was reviewed by me third hand, so I did miss the on-air nuances.

You already know the details. Stewart has taken Cramer to task for making a mockery of what went on with bank executives several months back. And rightfully so. Cramer reacted like the kid who emptied out Grandma's cookie jar. Meanwhile, Stewart is lauded in the media far and wide as doing an outstanding job as a journalist. Sounds like a pretty simple dynamic, right?

Wrong. Okay, let me drill down a bit here. I know a little bit about Jim Cramer as he blew through my work life a while ago. The man is an idiot. In the same way that home fix-it "expert" Bob Vila really couldn't correctly hammer a nail if his life and home depended on it, I wouldn't let Jim Cramer near my Jelly Belly dispenser let alone my 401K. He's put out there on CNBC because he's a buffoon not because he has any creditability. After all, take a quick snapshot of NBC's two cable "news" networks. They are an embarrassment as they mix in quick helpings of so-called newsmen Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams amongst the other lunatics like Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews. Everyone winds up dirtied while Chet Huntley and David Brinkley do one more flip turn in their caskets.

In taking on Jim Cramer, Stewart has chosen the easiest street fight in the neighborhood. By engaging Cramer in a battle of wits, the only simpler battle would be trying to argue politics with an Alzheimer's patient in the local nursing home. It's very easier to win a footrace when the other kid is in a wheelchair. Jon, if you want to push yourself to a new standard as an interviewer, please be invite all comers, regardless of size, shape, or mental capacity. Why doesn't he aim higher and ask the White House why they did nothing to prevent AIG from using taxpayers' dollars to award annual bonuses for inept executives? Indeed, we all know that Stewart won't go there because that where's the sledding will be politically muddier. He'll throw up the standard disclaimer. "I'm just a comedian." That doesn't work. Consistency is needed. Do you keep the clown nose on or off?

So, Stewart is no more an unbiased journalist than I am on this blog every Wednesday. Because if he truly wants to make some inroads in this big crazy media-crazy world, he'd counter CNBC and MSNBC as organizations, not just their dumbest and weakest personality Jim Cramer. When Jon Stewart challenges Keith Olbermann for saying things like "George Bush is as bad as Adolf Hitler," then we have a battle I'll tune in for. As a matter of fact, Stewart recently had the other goofball Chris Matthews on to promote his book and the nerf ball questions from Stewart never touched the guy. Enough said. Case closed.

Now, let's move onto the baseball world. And the Boston Red Sox and their knucklehead fans who, months later, still can get Manny Ramirez out of their systems. Most notable are the recent comments from the Bosox' moronic closer, Jonathan Papelbon, who called Manny a "cancer" on the team.

The IQ-below-sea-level Papelbon, who loves to dance an annoying Irish jig whenever the Red Sox clinch, has always reminded me of the biggest and dumbest kid in your gym class. The asshole who likes to plow you in the head with a dodgeball but he still can't count how many fingers are on his right hand. The fact that any magazine (in this case, Esquire) gives him the time of day or any media access is inexcusable.

But, it doesn't stop with Big Dumb Jon. You see, Boston fans, who have never been mistaken for the Vienna Boys Choir, also can't their fill of thrashing Ramirez long after the whips and chains should have been stowed away on the dungeon wall. Countless letters and e-mails come into the Los Angeles Times reminding Dodger fans that it will be a matter of time before Manny pulls a hammy. We'll be sorry, says Stupid Dodo from Dover, Mass.

Yes, what Ramirez did during his last year in Boston was inexcusable, from dogging it during games to shoving a traveling secretary onto the ground. Wrong and wrong. But, for whatever reason, Manny's found himself in a better place in LA. If Ramirez was a cancerous tumor in Fenway Park, most of those growths don't get bigger unless there's a toxic environment feeding the poison. And maybe that's what the rest of the Bosox are. Let's face it, it was cool when they won their first World Championship in a few centuries. But, since then, they have gotten even bigger and more bloated. Where I used to root for them, I now root against them.

If Red Sox fans are still waxing poisonous about Manny Ramirez' antics, wait till they get a good look at their new righthander Brad Penny, who generally gives up about five hits an inning. Maybe the Red Sox Nation still can't get over the concept that, last fall in the ALCS, Manny might have gotten them the big hit against the Tampa Bay Rays that Jason Bay did not. And if they're still ready to kill themselves over Manny, how will Boston fans react when the LA Lakers beat the Celtics later this spring?

Sure, Manny's on good behavior in LA and that shouldn't negate his bad behavior in Boston. But still, as Joan Rivers always reminds us, the second wife always gets the bigger ring. And, in this baseball marriage, the Red Sox are Debbie Reynolds while the Dodgers are clearly Liz Taylor.

The bottom line on all of this? It's all about perspective. Take a close look at both these discussions and you realize that, while appearing profound at first glance, they are both about ultimately nothing.

Dinner last night: Turkey burger at the NY abode.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wednesday # 1, Year # 3

Finger Lickin' Nastiness. Baked to perfection right here.

---So that's why the Germans went so goofy over Obama last year. They had all these chicken parts to package and sell.

---The manufacturer is quick to point out that there was no racism intended here.
---But you'll notice it wasn't Chicken Cordon Bleu.

---Or filet mignon from Omaha Steaks.

---Or Obama Steaks.

---Yes, groan. But can I remind you that this blog remains free of charge in its third year?

---Now we are told that the economy is not as bad as the government thought it was.

---Or should it be that the economy is no longer as bad as the government needed it to be?

---I’m thinking the Girl Scouts selling Thin Mints outside the supermarket is all the stimulus we need.

---And talk about revivals? How about a remake of the Cuban missile crisis from 1962? Russia says they want to put some bombers on that island which is just two spits and an arc from Miami.

---This didn’t get a lot of play in the media. Why would it? After all, it is news.

---Funny how this happens less than a week after Obama announces he wants to ease relations with the little island.

---For over 47 years, the country never bothered us. Now we want to be friends?

---What the hell do we need Cuba for anyway? Desi Arnaz is dead.

---Oh, yeah, every once in a while, we find a couple of potential major league pitchers floating on a piece of wood around Key West.

---Pitchers who tell us they’re 32 when, in reality, they once roomed with Luis Tiant.

---If we have another crisis with Cuba, I’m not as confident this time around. I don’t think Obama has a smart brother.

---More from the Stupid International Relations Division of the Obamanation: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown met with the President and gifted him with a pen holder made from wood pulled from an old slave ship. A noteworthy gesture.

---Obama reciprocated with a DVD gift set. Perhaps he and Michelle were trying to stimulate the economy with a quick run through Best Buy.

---I wonder if it was Season 1 or Season 2 of Good Times.

---I have been told that Brits are now pretty ticked off at Obama. He met with Brown for 30 minutes, while he jawed with the head of the IRA for two hours.

---I’m not surprised. The Irish probably brought liquor.

---Oh, what can you expect from a President whose sum total of international experience came from listening to the director’s commentary track on the War Games DVD?

---The big shots at AIG got a bailout of 175 billion dollars from our wallets and then dealt out 160 million dollars in bonuses.

---Bankrupt a company and get a performance bonus? Where do I send my resume?

---Giving AIG money to survive is like calling the fire department when your house is ablaze and they send over the town arsonist.

---Obama expressed indignation, but only after he was pressed with questions. Hey, you're the President and you cobbled out this deal, so don't wring your hands in front of us.

---I like the senator who summed it all up this way. We should adopt Japanese business principles. You screw up your company and you have to commit suicide. Done.

---Obama does Leno tonight. And is it me or is there something inherently wrong with a sitting President appearing on a late night comedy show?

---Maybe they'll keep the talk simple and all we will hear is who the President is picking in the White House brackets pool.

---Well, back to Octo-Mom, who spent last Saturday at Knott’s Berry Farm and last Sunday at Disneyland. With an all-day park hopping pass you and I paid for.

---She took just two of the 14 kids. Probably part of the first litter.

---Aren’t the last eight still in the hospital? What else is she doing on Space Mountain when her latest lab experiments are still hooked up at Circuit City Hospital?

---She was besieged for autographs at Disneyland and what the hell do you do with that signature?

---Does she sign it with her real name that nobody can remember or simply use “Best Wishes and Lots of Laughs, Octo-Mom?”

---It was country music night on Idol and that always disengages me. All the songs sound like somebody trying to scrape horse shit off their shoe with a popsicle stick.

---I always picture a country singer as some dude with a guitar case and hitchhiking on the side of the road.

---Which is why I think Scott the blind guy gets the boot this week. Because if he's hitchhiking on the side of the road, he'll never see what's coming.

Dinner last night: Chicken and rice.

And tomorrow, it's back in the Big Apple!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy 2nd Anniversary to Me

Two years ago today, I made my very first blog posting here. It was rudimentary, laid out poorly, and made little sense.

I’ve come a long way, baby. Because there are still some days where I am rudimentary, laid out poorly, and make little sense. But, for some bizarre reason, you are still here….and so am I.

As a special treat, I am opening up the e-mailbag and addressing some of your previously ignored questions and comments, both good and bad. All are printed anonymously but you all know who you are. And, if you don’t, there are probably a few medical websites that may be better suited to your immediate needs.

Q: I love your blog, but you sure do eat out a lot. And what’s this fascination with German cold cuts?

A: I eat out a lot because I can. And the sheer effort of providing you with hilarity on a daily basis takes up all my kitchen prep time. I’m not the only one not cooking. Try the Cheesecake Factory in Brentwood any weeknight and there are tons of little kids roaming around in search of a mother who knows how to turn on a stove. As for the German cold cuts, it’s comfort food as that’s what we always had in my house when I was a kid. Luckily, I have found a German pork store here in LA that loads up on these wonderful nitrate-infused meats.

Q: Don’t you think you should be giving Obama more of a chance?

A: You mean like the Democrats ever give an incoming Republican President a fair shake? Both sides are equally ugly and this country is sorely in need of a third party that is fair and unbiased. But, then again, if they were fair and unbiased, they wouldn’t be politicians, would they? Let’s face it, the first two months of Obama have been an unmitigated disaster. And I’m not the only one saying that.

Q: More Grandma stories, please.

A: The only trouble is that she’s not making any new ones. She died in 1982. It's the same reason why you’re not seeing any new episodes of “I Love Lucy.” Eventually, I will run out and I will have to start making fun of all your grandmothers.

Q: How come we never hear many details of your day job?

A: Because I would like to keep enjoying the many details of my day job. And that’s also why there are certain personalities that are off limits in this blog. Want to know who? Send a SASE with $2 and I’ll provide the list.

Q: Did you ever think about making this subscriber-only blog? I’d pay to read this stuff.

A: Well, let’s first see how the $2 charge for the list of celebrities I won’t trash goes.

Q: How old are you?

A: Make that $1000 and a SASE.

Q: What do you expect heaven to be like?

A: Hopefully, only a twenty minute drive from Dodger Stadium.

Q: Are there people in your personal life you can't forgive?

A: Who's asking these questions? David Frost? Forgive for what? Nobody's done anything that horrible to me. Yet. There are people I have outgrown. One very good friend from college, for instance, came to visit in LA a few years back. And the years had not been kind. Said person has turned into the crankiest, most annoying individual you'd ever want to meet. Christmas cards have stopped. I guess that's my version of "not forgiving."

Q: What's on your TiVo Season Pass right now?

A: Okay, vintage reruns of What's My Line? Desperate Housewives. Brothers and Sisters. American Idol. 24. The Big Bang Theory. Two and a Half Men. Top Chef (I don't watch it but the roommate does). And anything that I write once it's produced.

Q: How old are you?

A: You asked that already.

Q: How do you manage to put up new blog entries so early in the day?

A: Right before I go to bed, I pull up the next day's entry (already written in advance usually) and add the "Dinner Last Night" portion. Then, I schedule it to run automatically at a time I pre-select. The only day that I don't do this is Wednesday since I want the ability to add any late-breaking hilarity from the universe.

Q: Your favorite baseball player ever?

A: Tom Seaver. Because he made both the Mets and me relevant.

Q: Did you like being an only child?

A: I can tell you that there wasn't as much upside as you would think. I was not spoiled. I would have liked some sibling support when the folks took ill so I could share decisions. But, on the positive end, I got to keep it all when they died.

Q: Did you ever ask your parents for a sibling?

A: If it was a choice of that and a bigger allowance, I always opted for the cash.

Q: Do you regret never marrying?

A: Yes, no, and maybe. What time is it? I could have once. It was ready to happen. At least I was.

Q: Did you ever imagine having children?

A: Who the hell is sending these questions? Dr. Phil? I have a lot of friends who don't act their age, so perhaps that suffices.

Q: You sound like a real right winger.

A: And, judging by your comment, you sound like a real left winger. Actually, while I tend to be conservative, I am more of a centrist than you think. I despise the way that side of the aisle brings religion in every aspect of government. Sorry, folks, God does not belong there. And I am pro-choice. At the same, I abhor the other side of the aisle where we're all supposed to sing "kumbaya" and hug our brothers. I don't want to. As I wrote above, I'm an only child and have no desire to support the lifestyle of the unemployed slob next door.

Q: I loved the story about you and your roommate looking for dates the same night. More dating stories, please. And what about that reference to one you won't tell for a long time.

A: I'd like more dating stories please. And, as for that elusive tale, check back on this blog in about twenty years. I might be ready at that point. For now, it's buried deep in my drawer. At least, it's not in a closet.

Thanks for all the questions. See you tomorrow for Year 3.

Dinner last night: Penne with meatballs.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Monday Morning Video Laugh - March 16, 2009

In honor of tomorrow's anniversary of Len Speaks, here is my first ever Monday video laugh --- back by popular demand. The famous courthouse punch in the face!

Dinner last night: Roast chicken, rice, and spinach.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Freedomland

When you’re single digits in the age department and a major amusement park opens up about five miles from your house, it is a big deal. When you’re the parents of a child in single digits and a major amusement park opens up about five miles from your house, you probably want to go back to bed. And I imagine my parents tried that when Freedomland opened for business.

Never heard of it? Well, next time you’re driving near Coop City and you look at all the now-rundown projects there, imagine an amusement park in that spot instead. Because, for four years, that’s what sat on that toxic landfill and swamp. Disneyland of the East. In the Bronx, of all places. Sort of like Six Flags Over a Crack Den. Freedomland was designed to look like a map of the United States and had a very historical slant on the rides and attractions it offered. Allegedly, Walt Disney was the early consultant on this park until he suddenly thought to himself, “What the fuck am I doing near Boston Post Road in the Bronx?” But, whether Mickey’s dad was involved or not, this wide-eyed kid soaked it all in. This would be the closest I would get to Disneyland for decades.

Ideally, when my family unit went to Freedomland, we went with other family members. Or perhaps friends. Anybody really who had kids I could go on a ride with, because Mom and Dad were fairly well-grounded. On the ground. I do remember my mom going on the across-the-park bucket ride, which scared the shit out of me every time the bucket went over one of those connecting posts. You’d get this sudden jolt as if you’d be tumbling down onto a hot dog wagon within seconds. But, that never happened. I do remember my mom sitting high aloft and admiring the view of the nearby New England Thruway, all the while flicking the ashes off her cigarette from an arm extended in mid-air. Ashes that probably did land on somebody’s hot dog.

We probably did Freedomland two times a summer during the four or so years it stayed open. And it was not without mishap for me. I puked up lunch on one of those spinning toy rides. And there was another attraction where they set “the Chicago Fire” every twenty minutes and all the customers had to pump the water out of the antique fire truck. I was a little too young and short to be doing this, and that resulted in me getting conked in the cocoanut by the iron pump lever. The fire went out and so did I. You can see the pump in this video. Note the price to get in. Fifty cents to a dollar.

Elsie the Cow from Borden’s was on regular display at Freedomland and there were plenty of Borden’s ice cream products available for purchase while you waited on line. Of course, by the time you got to Elsie, she was usually taking her hourly bathroom break, which made the chocolate popsicle in your mouth a lot less appetizing.

One part of Freedomland was designed like the Jetsons’ space age house and that’s where they held concerts and shows with some big name talent. That’s actually what propelled my parents there on multiple occasions. I can remember hearing “Moonlight Serenade” from the Glenn Miller Orchestra, “Diana” as sung by Paul Anka, and the Four Seasons. Frank Fontaine, “Crazy Cuggenheim” from the old Jackie Gleason Show, performed there and he shook my hand. When Lawrence Welk showed up there, even my grandparents made a rare OTO appearance at an amusement park. Their reaction to seeing the bubblemaker in person: “He looks better on TV.”

Freedomland was pretty much killed by the opening of the NY World’s Fair. But, indeed, the real culprit was what annoyed my parents every time we went there. Because the park was literally built on a swamp, nobody had bothered to tell the mosquitoes to vacate. Once you were there past 6PM, you were a virtual buffet table for any insect with wings. I remember getting sprayed with Off every time I got off a ride at night. Ultimately, I smelled like an industrial plant on fire. So, as a result, all my Freedomland visits ended the same way. With either my mother or my father uttering those fateful words.

”Let’s get the hell out of here.”

Dinner last night: Grilled steak sandwich at Magnolia.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

So You Were Wondering What Happened to Urkel?

Dinner last night: Leftover turkey meat loaf.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Your Weekend Movie Guide - March 2009

Circa 1963. This was the first movie to play the stupendous Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. I got to see "Mad 4 World" there myself a few years ago and it was glorious.

Now back to reality. The dreck in the multiplexes as found in today's Los Angeles Times. It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world indeed. And, if you're looking for a good movie, a shitty one to boot.

Watchmen: Three hours of loud noise and special effects. Didn’t we see this all last summer with “The Dark Knight?” That idiot kid critic Ben Lyons, who is proving to be as stupid as his dad Jeffrey, called the comic book the movie is based on “one of the great pieces of American literature.” Obviously, this moron never read “Green Eggs and Ham?”

Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail: I actually have some White friends who went to see this. They are now White former friends. But they did try to get back into my good graces by saying it was the worst movie they ever saw. Just who the hell is Tyler Perry and why do we need him in this country?

He’s Just Not That Into You: Okay, I confess. I saw it. It wasn’t that bad, although you need to go with Archimedes in order to figure out all the subplots. There were two characters I was captivated with and I wanted to see fleshed out in their own movies. Jennifer Aniston as the lone unmarried sister in a big family. And I was dying to see more of Drew Barrymore as the world’s youngest fag hag.

Slumdog Millionaire: Still living off Oscar riches. I still didn’t like it. And, yes, that is my fnal answer.

Race to Witch Mountain: Disney updating another franchise and simultaneously ruining it by casting Dwayne :The Rock” Johnson. I can’t wait to see them cast him in the lead when they remake “Pollyanna.”

Sunshine Cleaning: From the producers of “Little Miss Sunshine” and they creatively use the word “sunshine” again. Wink, wink. It’s all about two sisters who go into the crime scene clean-up business. Does Lysol work on dried blood?

Phoebe in Wonderland: There’s apparently another Fanning child---Elle. Not to be confused by the French magazine of the same name. All about a little girl who blurs fantasy with reality. That’s me at work, honey.

Coraline: Okay, I confess. I saw it. One of those stick figure animations that was really, really creepy. Smart parents would leave the kids at home. At the screening I went to, there were a lot of stupid parents there. And you wonder why Junior is asking you for a steak knife and some Hefty bags?

Milk: Been there, drank that. Also out on DVD which is the better way to go for this movie, so your friends don’t have to see you in public rooting for the Josh Brolin character.

Crossing Over: Harrison Ford is in LA and he’s worried about illegal aliens. Who isn’t? Try the local car wash and take your pick.

The Last House on the Left: A couple gets revenge for a brutal assault on their daughter. What number “Death Wish” are we up to? And didn’t Charles Bronson already get his granted?

Moscow, Belgium: If you wonder why your kids are so stupid in school these days, just consider this title. That geography is only off by about 1000 miles.

The Reader: Still hovering around to get some dollars off Kate Winslet’s Oscar win. The movie is engrossing, albeit a trifle long. Bring tissue. And a cushion.

Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience: Well, at least the in-theater experience gets your daughter off Facebook for a couple of hours.

Confessions of a Shopaholic: I know people who loved this movie. They’re also way overdrawn on their Bloomie’s charge cards.

Harvard Beats Yale 29-29: Sounds like a headline from the world's dumbest newspaper. Actually it's a documentary from some big game back in the 60s. So big that I apparently know nothing about it.

The Edge of Love: Starcrossed lovers in World War II London. As if the bombs falling around them aren't enough, they have to screw around with all that romantic nonsense.

Miss March: A bunch of teenage boys wreck the latest edition of Playboy. This will explain you why those pages are always stuck together.

The Wrestler: See it. If not for Mickey Rourke's performance, then go to it as a lasting tribute to his dead dog.

Gomorrah: As Annie sung on Broadway, the sun will come out...

Everlasting Moments: Some love story set in 1911 Sweden and my eyes are drooping as I type this.

Two Lovers: Gwyneth Paltrow comes out from under a rock and Joaquin Phoenix in allegedly his last film role. He moves on to singing and now there's another art form in which I can ignore him.

The Cake Eaters: Is this the show that's on before The Biggest Loser? I hear it has nothing to do with cake. Or eating. Hollywood can be so freakin' clever.

The Pink Panther 2: Still lingering around like diarrhea after a Mexican vacation. Another waste of Steve Martin. I went to a vintage double feature of "The Jerk" and "All of Me" last weekend. Now, that's Steve Martin in action.

The International: All sorts of Interpol hijinx with Clive Owen, an actor that I never ever get.

Good luck finding anything amongst this list. Check out a classic film festival near you. From the days when movies were entertainment.

Dinner last night: Turkey meatloaf with macaroni.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I'm Nancy. Fly Me.

There are examples every single day of our political leaders brazenly ignoring the masses. Double talk, double standards, and double dealings. They talk of being our friends with an eternal open door policy, but, as soon as one of us knock, they turn into Johnny Belinda. They look at each other with blank stares. “Gee, did you hear somebody? I didn’t.”

To wit, these deaf mutes really don’t subscribe to any one political party. No, these jerks can be found on both sides of the aisle. And, frequently, like that addled wet brain Teddy Kennedy, they’re also lying in the aisle itself. So, whether you’re liberal or conservative, there is rarely a compassionate ally for us amongst the idiots we find on our ballots every November.

Yet, amid all the usual duplicity, there is one politico right now who takes the cake, eats it, shits it out, puts icing on it, and then asks us to eat it again. I’m talking about the esteemed Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who epitomizes to me the worst of the worst politicians. To say that this woman needs to be vanquished to a life of making lasagna in a too-small kitchen is not enough. For her most recent antics, Pelosi needs to be honored as the very last recipient of waterboarding torture at Gitmo. If and when snipers have their annual convention, hopefully a banner of her photo is hanging from the rafters.

Forget her wild-eyed Leftist leanings which spilled all over the latest stimulus package like Cheerios from a toddler’s high chair. This is the screwball who announced that 500 million Americans lose their job every month. Given there are about 250 million Americans total, does that mean the entire country loses two jobs every 30 days? As if that’s not inflammatory and ridiculous enough, there’s the news this week about her air travel. Okay, let’s retreat a few months back to the time when those financial institutions were failing. Queen Nancy is quite vocal about the largesse of the executives of those companies, blowing millions of dollars while flying around in private jets. Shame on them, extolled Queen Nancy.

Yet, as we learn this week, Her Lowness is guilty of same. In spades. Because as she ducks home to San Fran for the weekend with her goombahs or wings to Rome to split a tuna fish sandwich with the Pope, Ms. Scumbag is riding in style. With the finest luxury aircraft that our Air Force can provide. And, if the best planes are not available, she has one of her minions strongarm the military with threats. “We’re going to have a very unhappy Speaker.”

In a nation of bullshit, Nancy Pelosi is the biggest bull of all. I remember when she first got elected to Speaker of the House. I was at one of Barbra Streisand’s LA lovefests and Queen Nancy scored a front row seat. Babs made sure to introduce her to the crowd as the newest ray of hope for America. But, as is the case with all the new promises of hope, the end result for everybody is sheer hopelessness.

Except for me. Holding out hope that one day Nancy Pelosi will be wearing a blindfold and holding one last Chesterfield between her lips.

Dinner last night: Leftover bratwurst and salad.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

When You Wish Upon A Wednesday

I'm no fool. No, siree. I'm gonna live to be 93.

---A glistening print of Disney’s Pinocchio came out on DVD yesterday and now I wish the growing nose thing applied to our leaders in Washington.

---For all the lies told in our nation’s capital, noses would be as long as Route 66.

---Nasal passages would need to have rest stops.

---The latest series of tall tales revolves around what is in or not in the stimulus package.

---How a couple of million dollars to ACORN is going to give anybody a job is a mystery to me.

---Because when you have an acorn, you will eventually have some nuts.

---That community group is a huge waste of time and only provides stimulus for Dunkin Donuts.

---Hey, you need something to munch on while you’re sitting around all day and bitching how you’ve been screwed by Whitey.

---There was a headline in the paper: Taxpayers take to the streets to protest government job cuts.

---Huh? I’m a taxpayer and I don’t give a shit if there’s one less fat slob braiding her hair behind a glass window at the DMV.

---You want to create jobs? Hire tons of people to build the fence around our borders. Now that’s construction I can get behind.

---The hardest job in America: the one who manages Obama’s Outlook and continually has to change the global address of Cabinet members.

---I'm not surprised that Her Thighness Hillary Clinton is getting along famously with all those Arab leaders. Don't they all screw around with a lot of women, too?

---Latest hot suggestion for the renaming of the Mets’ new ballpark: Debits Field.

---The California unemployment rate is over 10%, but thank God Manny Ramirez is working.

---The Dodgers sold close to 50,000 tickets when sales opened up to the general public last Saturday.

---Which, of course, is bad news for me since I will be showing up at games with same general public.

---The Dodgers wasted no time. Within 24 hours of his signing, there were billboards all over town heralding his return. And radio commercials.

---It's like they had them all ready to go for months, just like when those news organizations write up obituaries as soon as a new Pope is installed.

---RIP Bill Buchanan. The latest Jack Bauer boss on 24 to meet a grisly fate.

---If Jack works for you, it's the kiss of death. Which is why I'm hoping that, in Season 8, Bauer gets a job as Secret Service Agent for Obama.

---Second hardest job in America: The woman who sits across from Chris Brown at the breakfast table and asks him to pass the salt.

---Idol Thoughts on last night's Top 13 Competition: I wish Scott the blind guy could see his own hair style, so he'd ditch the whole Art Garfunkel look.

---In a clip on this kid's family, we find out that his sister is also visually impaired. And now I wonder just how close this family lives to a toxic land fill.

---The Black chick Jasmine is a doll. Her mother, however, is a train wreck. Does anybody at Fox know how to straighten wigs? Which was obviously purchased from the Pam Grier collection.

---Did you notice that, when the finalists' parents were shown, they all have different names. And now I wish I had pursued that career of "divorce attorney."

---Going Home Prediction: Megan and her Sistine Chapel of an arm tattoo. Somebody else as well but producers are allegedly imposing another twist. Perhaps Paula Abdul will be voted off.

---What the hell is a Twitter?

---Well, actually, I do know. It's one of those websites where you tell your friends what you're doing every moment of the day.

---"I just put fabric softener into the wash."

---"Tangelos on sale at Ralph's."

---"I just had to use the bathroom and I can see whole kernels of corn."

---Enough please!!!

---As it is, I think I'm sharing too much by telling you what I had for dinner last night.

---Which, by the way, was...

Dinner last night: Bratwurst from Omaha Steaks.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Your Top 13 American Idol Finalists - 2009

And tonight, it begins for real on American Idol. After weeks of bad auditions, over-inflated egos, and Paula Abdul refusing to see the negative in anybody ever, the competitions begin for the Top 12 Idol finalists. No, wait, make that the Top 13. In a nifty twist, the producers have decided to move forward with a baker’s dozen and generally that only works well if you’re dealing with jelly donuts. Either that or somebody on the production staff took the same math class with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Nevertheless, allow me to handicap the Top 12, no, make it Top13, based on what I have seen so far. If you watch Idol, this will be a handy guide. If you don’t give a shit, move on to your next site. I’ll still be here tomorrow.

TOP ROW (from left to right):

Adam Lambert: The Idol finalist most likely to be mistaken for Liza Minnelli circa 1987. This season, there are 5 girls, 7 guys, and Adam who may or may not be either. He has a stage career already, having been in a variety of musicals. No surprise there either. He’s got a solid voice, but also a whole shitload of pictures on the internet where he is tongue kissing any guy with the slightest bit of body piercing. Methinks this is not going to fly too long with the Idol weekly voter who is the prototypical 13 year-old girl in Bumfuk, Iowa. She has never seen such goings-on ever. That’s because Little Steffi has never seen what her dad is doing down at the local tavern.

Scott MacIntyre: Idol’s first blind finalist who has already struck out twice trying to high-five host Ryan Seacrest. A decent voice and you can tell he has some musical training. Yet, I’m not sure if the audience loves him for his singing or for the fact that he can’t see the audience. Scott will be a challenge when they start doing those group production numbers. During the first one, he was sitting down the entire time. That only works if you’re Ella Fitzgerald after the first amputation. Still, I expect Scott to last a while. On stage, he is shepherded around by his brother and even I think this guy is good looking. This kid alone could get Scott some votes.

Anoop Desai: Slumdog Idol finalist. This Indian kid has hung on for dear life throughout the competition so far. He’s hanging on with his fingers as if he was holding onto a branch during the last monsoon. They keep flashing to his parents in the audience and I wonder who’s behind the bulletproof glass down at 7/Eleven. His voice is just okay in my book.

Danny Gokey: He’s a great singer, but also this year’s Idol sob story. Danny’s wife died suddenly about four weeks before his audition and this is only reminded every time they speak to him. Plus his family members keep holding her picture up to the camera. She’s gotten so much screen time she could actually join AFTRA posthumously. Despite all this slobbering, Danny will sail through perhaps to the bottom three or four.

MIDDLE ROW (from left to right):

Kris Allen: The Wonder bread white boy who gets no votes except from those fifteen year-old girls who have started to masturbate. Kris reminds me of Peter Brady in that episode where his voice kept cracking. He can start making other plans by the end of March.

Jasmine Murray: A late addition to the Idol finalists and probably a first subtraction to the Idol finalists. A weak competitor and, besides, the audience has another Black girl to fall in love with.

Lil Rounds: The other Black girl that America has fallen in love with. And, rightfully so, Lil is a powerhouse. Her name also reminds me of a brand of saltines. She will stick around for a long, long time.

Alexis Grace: The girl who I was first impressed with. Actually, the girl I really was first impressed with was in my Sunday school class. But, I digress. Alexis has a powerful style and has finally gotten rid of the two tone hair dye job she sported in the early auditions. Obviously, some hair stylist in Hollywood got a hold of her and said, "No, no, no, no." Perhaps a friend of fellow Idol finalist Adam Lambert.

Allison Iraheta: Cute as a button with red hair that looks like it came out of one of Lucy Ricardo's Henna bottles. Nevertheless, she's a little young to be singing the torch songs, and that could be her downfall. It's tough to sing about being a scorned woman when you still have a Jonas Brothers poster on your bedroom wall. She will get the vote of those teenage girls who are sorely in need of a big sister.

Megan Corkrey: The annual Idol finalist devoted to body art. There is one every season and it always seems to be a chick. Megan has a mural that goes down her right arm and it looks gross. Actually, she reminds me of the Sunday funnies in the old New York Journal American. She's got a country music focus and this sometimes gets some traction on Idol. But, let's face it, Carrie Underwood didn't ink herself. And Megan will be no Carrie Underwood. She won't last more than four or five weeks. But, sadly, she'll have that huge ink stain for life.

BOTTOM ROW (from left to right):

Matt Giraud: This year's Idol finalist who is eternally devoted to Hedda Hopper. Hats, hats, and more hats. Where's the bald spot, Matt? The audience has seemed to love him, but I find him only ordinary. Dull as dishwater and the only chance he has is if Paula Abdul tries to seduce him in an alley behind Television City.

Jorge Nunez: I'm not sure about him in a variety of ways. Likeability, singing prowess, sexual orientation. Up to now, he's been okay. But he enhances his mystique by talking in Spanish and crying a lot. Maybe it's because he found out ICE has been watching Idol.

Michael Sarver: Big and burly and he can probably kick the shit out of you while singing "Luck Be a Lady." His occupation is described as "Oil Rig Roughneck." Not to be confused with Rahm Emanuel who is described as "White House Chief of Staff Roughneck." He can sing and also fix your washing machine at the same time. This guy will last for a while. America loves Blue Collar. And roughnecks.

My prediction: The final three will be comprised of Lil the snack cracker, Danny the widower, and either Scott the blind guy or Michael the roughneck. Or maybe they will just include them all and call it "The Final Four."

Dinner last night: BLT at Islands.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Monday Morning Video Laugh - March 9, 2009

When slippery floors happen to stupid people...

Dinner last night: Sputnik Melt (Turkey, swiss, and cole slaw) at Cafe 50s.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Ferncliff Cemetery

Located on a quiet hill in the even quieter hamlet of Hartsdale, New York, Ferncliff Cemetery is the eternal home of lots of famous people. Songwriter Harold Arlen, James Baldwin, ice cream meglomaniac Tom Carvel, Joan Crawford, Basil Rathbone, Toots Shor, Ed Sullivan and his orchestra leader Ray Bloch, director Preston Sturges, Moss Hart and his wife Kitty Carlisle Hart, renowned troublemaker Malcolm X, Oscar Hammerstein, Moms Mabley, and Judy Garland. Beatle John Lennon was cremated there. The list goes on and on and on. The place includes also a whole passel of my relatives. And the relatives of several good friends of mine.

And my parents.

Indeed, my mom would be happy to know that her top floor studio apartment/niche is a mere three dozen footsteps away from Miss Garland, whom I would have allegedly be named after. If I, of course, was a girl. Not that gender ever made a difference to Judy. But, I digress...

Believe it or not, cemeteries were a prime destination for Sunday drives, especially with my grandparents.

"Come on, let's go see Uncle Fritz."

The eight-year-old comedian in me could not resist the witty retort.

"Yeah, but he can't see you." Ha ha. My grandmother didn't find the funny in funny.

"Don't be fresh."

Almost as punishment, I was loaded into the car along with a whole bunch of gardening tools and off we went to Tombstone Land. I never understood why my grandmother felt the need to garden some graves, except perhaps we had some family members who were too damn cheap to pay for the perpetual care offered by the cemetery. My grandmother would survey the lawn on top of some relative and if she found it a little too weedy, there would be the beckoning call to my grandfather.

”Pop, bring me the shears!”

And then they would spend an hour manicuring the grounds while I played hopscotch on the bronze nameplates all around me. And then get scolded for that.

”Don’t walk on them. That’s where their head is.”


Now, in our family, there were two cemeteries of choice. The old and staid Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. Most of the older folks wound up there. Cousins who had died of sinus infections in the pre-antibiotic days of the 30s. One young nephew who had accidentally stabbed himself to death while slicing some pork chops in the butcher shop. And now, there in Woodlawn, “reside” my grandparents. In a plot they selected twenty to thirty years before they died. By the fence so they could watch all the cars drive by on Webster Avenue. That was the reason I was given. I kid you not. And, I digress again…

The younger relatives were all found in the more modern and up-and-coming Ferncliff up in the suburbs. And that place always managed to give me the creeps. Invariably, I would get sent into the mausoleum to get some water for vases. And the eerie, somber music that was piped into that joint made my trips into them as time-condensed as possible. I walked through there wearing imaginary blinders. If you looked at any of the crypts on the left or the right, you would find decorated to look like real living rooms with kids’ toys on the floor. Audible scream!

There was one grave that my father scared the shit out of me with. It seems some real jerk had a bust made of his head. When he was buried, the bust was placed under the nameplate and you could lift it up to look down. One day, my father said, “come on and say hello to Uncle Charlie.” Not knowing the horror to come and being a dumb kid, I did so. Uncle Charlie looking up from his resting place. Audible scream all over again! Nightmares for a week. Thanks, Dad.

Ironically, I’d unwittingly get back at him for this injustice. Years later, the day after he passed away, I went through the robotic process of “making arrangements.” There never was a thought in my mind that his eternal resting place would be at Ferncliff. Besides, all the good spots by the fence at Woodlawn had already been taken. Anyway, as if I was playing the bonus round on Supermarket Sweep, I blew through Ferncliff and got everything settled in the space of fifteen minutes. Cement vault, hole in the ground, lettering and design for the plaque, timing for a graveside service. Because I don’t believe in the ritual, there would be no funeral parlor viewing. It would be just like the Wild West. 12 Noon at Boot Hill. Be there or be square. And your attendance would be by invitation only. I had it all solved in a flash.

The day before the burial, I got a call from one of my dad’s cronies who had made my A List of invitees.

”So, Len, what time is the cremation tomorrow?”

Huh???? I told the guy there would be a burial.

”But your father always told me he wanted to be cremated.”

I thought about the cement vault. Already invoiced. The grave. Already dug. The in-ground plaque. Perhaps being engraved as we spoke. I called my mother and asked if she had ever heard that request. Knowing my parent’s virtual disregard for any timely communication, I was not surprised that she had not. And naturally this was complete breaking news for me.

So, indeed, in death, there would be one last time where I screwed up something for Dad. And, in a way, I was getting back at it for the fright show that had been Uncle Charlie. But, I also thought that my father might have enjoyed the faux pas that only I could have constructed.

On the day of the burial, we stood in the street near the gravesite and waited for the hearse to show up. We saw it enter the gate and it immediately made a hard right turn. Into the section where all the Black people were buried. Most of us couldn’t help but giggle. Suddenly, the hearse slammed on its brakes and started to back up. We imagined that the drivers had been startled by a rap on the window in the back of the hearse. And perhaps a faint voice from the beyond.

”What are you idiots doing? You can’t put me here with all those coloreds.”

When I make my annual visit to Ferncliff now, I survey all the nameplates around my dad and realize that his pain is continuing. Every name is Chinese.

Sorry again.

Dinner last night: Pizza with sausage and kalamata olives at Rosti.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Classic Newsreel of the Month - March 2009

Must have been a slow news day. A big deal made about a new glass elevator.

Dinner last night: Bangers and chips at King's Head in Santa Monica.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Even More Pictures From Hell

White Trash on Parade.

Just another leisurely walk around the plantation. Or perhaps an on-set photo of an extra during the making of "Mame" starring Lucille Ball.

I'm guessing the one on the right is a would-be mortician and the one on the left is her practice dummy. I think that's Mom in the middle.

This is what happened to you in the 70s if you drank too much Tang.

Laverne and Shirley before the operation.

"Honey, I can feel the baby kicking."

Each one of these people once dated a Lennon Sister. I believe their act was once called the Old Christy Minstrels.

Hmmm. Are there any rolled-up white socks left in her brother's dresser drawer?

Dinner last night: Eggplant parmagiana at Maria's Italian Kitchen.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Shit for Brains

That was my father’s favorite expression to describe an idiot. A cleaned-up version was “don’t have the brains that God gave geese.” Not as effective, in my book. And, in tribute to my dad, I use “shit for brains” all the time. Luckily, there are a lot of people around who qualify. You know…the general populace. Shit for Brains.

They’re all over the place. Those folks that confound you, annoy you, and make you wonder how they survive from day to day. And the saddest part of all is that none of them realize just how much of a jerk they really are. Some of them even go as far as to be impressed with their every action. They are the most dangerous of all who possess shit for brains.

Here are some I’ve come across as I’ve gone about my business. I am guessing you have your own versions of these numbskulls as well.

How about the dope on line in front of you getting a snack at the movie theater? While waiting, they’re on the cell phone or texting or communicating with some other dummy ten feet away. You’re already pressed for time because your feature starts in five, no, make that, four minutes. They get to the counter and then….proceed to stare at the menu as if they’re picking out a university. “Hmmmmmm.” Okay, asshole, this is a movie theater and this is a candy counter. You’re not going to find Lobster Newburg up there. And, if you had paid even the slightest attention while you were on line the past ten minutes, you could have formulated at least in small part what kind of Gummi Bears would be striking your fancy as you watch Sandra Bullock hack through a bad script. Shit for Brains.

You have noticed somebody getting into their car as you cruise for a parking space. So you pull up alongside and wait. And wait. And wait. And WAIT. Nine times out of ten, this person is a woman. She gets into the car. She adjusts the mirror as if some sinister paranormal being had moved it since she last drove. Then she looks for a CD. She snaps on the seat belt. She smoothes the blouse that has been ruffled by the snapping of said seat belt. You’re waiting in your car and you realize another Presidential administration has come and gone. And, all the while, you know this bitch knows you’re waiting. And doesn’t care because she is the most important thing in the whole wide world. Shit for Brains.

I actually had this happen to me on line at Ralph’s Supermarket. I had a load of groceries. The Chinese kid from UCLA in front of me was holding a banana. I suggested that he should use the automated express checkout.

"Nah, I have to break a 100 dollar bill."

Huh?? For a banana??

As I expected, his single purchase took up to ten minutes as the cashier scrambled to several registers in order to come up with $99.50 worth of change for this likely math major. The kid apologized.

"Sorry. This is what the bank gave me."

Huh??? You actually were in a bank. The last time I was there getting some cash there, the teller asked me how I would like it. Tens? Twenties? Pennies? They always do. But, apparently, not for this Calculus student who is truly...Shit for Brains.

Go to transact something for business at either a bank, a post office, or an overnight courier just before they close for the day. Who do you invariably find clogging up the line? A senior citizen. Some fossil who's been home all day listening to their arteries harden. With plenty of time to hop down to the mail center to send a box of cookies to Cousin Myrtle in Torrance. But, no. They need to head out when everybody else is out or in a time sensitive situation. My grandparents did it right. Their errands were conducted every day between the hours of 10A and 2PM. When working people were trying to wrap up their day, my grandparents were safely out of their way. Grandma watching Mike Douglas and Grandpa hoisting a cold one down at the beer garden on the corner. Neither one of them had...Shit for Brains.

California last year passed a law that prohibits phone or text use while driving a car. That scared everybody for about a week until they realized nobody was getting stopped or a ticket for this offense. Now, I see it being done than I did before the rule went into effect. I actually saw this happen a few weeks ago on one of my long walks. A bimbette was at a stop light. She was typing feverishly on her Black Berry which she was holding on top of the steering wheel as if it was an office desk. The light changed and the guy behind her honked the horn. She took her hand off the Black Berry long enough to flip him her finger. Cute. I was dying for this little bitch to get her special punishment from God. It didn't take long.

As I continued my walk another two blocks, I found her again. Having rear-ended some poor slob. She stood outside her car and tearfully surveyed the damage, while still gabbing away on her cell phone. I yelled across the street.

"Hey, Honey!"

She looked over to me. I flipped her my finger and smiled.

Shit for Brains!

Dinner last night: Chicken sausage and leftover risotto.