Tuesday, June 30, 2009

CSI Michael Jackson

Memo to CBS:

I've got your next hit show. If you're looking to expand upon your hit Crime Scene shows, then this one is a slamdunk. The infinite number of plot twists and seedy characters could keep the series running for years. And, as long as you don't insist on casting Mandy Patinkin, we might have a winner.

Think of all the possibilities. Let's start with the dead king of pop himself or herself or itself. Allegedly, he was topping off at 112 pounds at the end and I've carried heavier grocery bags home from Ralph's. The guy/girl/whatever will probably be buried in a cigar box. They autopsied him and I'm thinking it takes a Benihana chef longer to debone shrimp. Of course, the real fun for the coroner was probably trying to figure out how many plastic surgery scars were on his body. I have this image that, at the autopsy, the coroner asked the attendant to peel back the white sheet.

"I already did."

Get it? It's the kind of dark humor "Six Feet Under" used to do. People eat that stuff up.

Then, we have Michael's personal cardiologist who apparently had a failed business practice and was looking for mega millions that would help him maintain his exclusive Las Vegas home. Looking at his picture, I don't see a trusted physician. I see the produce manager down at Trader Joe's. Apparently, he wasn't bright enough to know that you give CPR to somebody on a hard surface, not a bed. So, he probably cracked more ribs than Tony Soprano. And who knows how he measured out Michael's pain killing injections? Paramedics arrived at the house and wanted to pronounce him dead on their arrival. But, the good doctor insisted they keep working on him as if he was the last rotisserie chicken at the picnic. Perhaps, the doctor was working feverishly because, just maybe, he had a sense of guilt. Sounds like a kid who's desperately trying to clean up the soda spill on the living room rug before his parents get home.

Are you getting the comic overtones in a scene like that, CBS?

Well, if the authorities find the doctor is negligible, that's where it gets really madcap. The Jackson family, knowing full well that their son and brother didn't have a pot to piss in even when he was adequately hydrated, will sue and then fight over the money in the type of battle that has not been witnessed since Fred Sanford went after Aunt Esther. The family has ordered a second autopsy and I wonder how many times you can actually weigh a liver. They are wringing their hands over the tragedy and I'm thinking they are also guilty to an extent.

Didn't the parents or those other four dumbbell brothers know just how insane Michael was? To say Michael is a little eccentric is like saying Osama Bin Laden is a little anti-American. They had to know what he was doing and taking and not eating. The only one in that Encino conclave who seems to have an IQ is sister Janet. Yet, meanwhile, she has trouble working out the intricacy of blouse buttons. I'm thinking a reunion of Sherman Hemsley and Marla Gibbs for the parents. We can get them. They show up once a year at the TV Land Awards and that's it. And let's not forget Diana Ross. As soon as there are two dozen or so styrofoam heads for all the wigs, she'll work cheap. Last I heard she was seen pushing a cart around a super market with her hand deep down into a bag of Cheezits.

Multiple story arcs can concentrate on Michael's kids. Who gets custody? Who wants custody? And can we get to change one of the kids' names? Blanket Jackson? Sounds like a mascot at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

In sweeps months for CSI Michael Jackson, we can get Reverend Al Sharpton for a guest shot as he surfaces just in case we find out that there might be a white villain involved. But, maybe, there is racism with the doctor. He's Black, but Michael was a Black man who wanted to be White. There's got to be an episode or two devoted to that at least. Reverse reverse racism. Works for me.

And there are the varying opinions on how Michael was during his final rehearsal at the Staples Center the night before he died. Some say he was in great shape. Others contend he was lethargic and incoherent. There's not a lot of middle ground in those descriptions. Hopefully, somebody shot footage of the rehearsal which will turn up on You Tube. And that can be easily incorporated into our show with some cleverly integrated musical numbers. Maybe even a redo of "We Are The World," this time sung by Beyonce, Chris Brown, and, if available, Regis Philbin.

You can see my mind is racing with the possibilities. CBS, call me. I'm in the book. But, you better hurry. NBC is down to a half dozen versions of "Law and Order" and just might bite too.

Dinner last night: Cervelat on sourdough roll.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday Morning Video Laugh - June 29, 2009

More of a jaw drop than a laugh, but, apparently, there are Islamic guidelines as to how you can beat your wife. And these are the people our President is embracing????

Dinner last night: German salami sandwich

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Sunday Memory Drawer - My First Summer Job

This nondescript street corner in Mount Vernon was the site of a monumental moment in my history. So, read on, folks...
It's that time of year. Teenagers running around to find some sort of gainful employment for the summer months. And I ask now a very rhetorical question: is there still such a concept as "working papers?"

I remember when I was in my teen years that you couldn't even attempt to work without them. I completely forget the process of how you got them, except I'm pretty sure an application for a Social Security Card was part of the deal. Nevertheless, as soon as I was sixteen, I wanted to hit the bricks and find a job. Well, actually, it was really my dad's idea who told me very explicitly "hit the bricks and find a job."

My first employment ever was literally around the corner. In the winter before my neighborhood chums and I all hit the 16 digit in age, we were excited to see a huge job opportunity start to get erected within a block of our homes. A Carvel Ice Cream store was going up on the property of the local car wash. As a matter of fact, it was a business expansion for the car wash's owner, some ugly creep named Jerry Rattner (he's got to be long dead, so I have no worries using his name). Jerry had the physical appearance of Frankenstein's monster with a personality to match. He probably fancied himself as this big business tycoon. And perhaps he was if you considered that one city block to be the entire universe.

Despite the ultra scary nature of Jerry, the local kids, including my good friend Leo and I, started to stalk him about when the store would be open. Jerry would always grunt the same reply.

"This summer. Come back then."

We chased this dude like showgirls would pursue Flo Ziegfeld. And, always the same garbled answer from the guy with bolts in his neck.

"This summer. Come back then."

Gotcha, Mr. Tall, Dark, and Gruesome.

Eventually, summer on schedule came. And most of us got hired to be the store's staff. I remember the very hot July night when the store first opened. We were decked out in Carvel whites with those stupid paper hats. And the place was packed to the seams as if nobody had ever seen before a two-scoop ice cream cone. One customer blended into another and we were all dizzy by the end. All the while, we had our Incredible Hulk of an employer standing nearby to critique our work. And concentrate on our mistakes.

"Whoa, that's too much whipped cream on there!"

"Whoa, cut the banana in quarters!"

"Whoa, stop giving all the pretty girls extra stuff!"

I wanted to say, whoa, fuck off, you bastard.

Amid all this hubbub, I developed a very real fear in working up one item for sale. It ultimately became a phobia that I needed to conquer and fast.

I was absolutely petrified if anybody ordered a Brown Bonnet.

You might remember that particular treat. A soft ice cream cone which is covered in this chocolate sauce that hardens on contact. You can actually buy the junk now in supermarkets under the brand name "Magic Shell." Well, Brown Bonnets were a very tricky thing to make. First, you swirl the soft ice cream onto a cone. And then you quickly dunk it in the sauce. Except I would always lose the ice cream in the mix. The cone came out without the custard. And this pretty much screwed up the sauce as there was now this glob of ice cream in the can.

"Whoa, that stuff is expensive. You're killing me here!"

Whoa, if only I could kill you right here...

The whole experience for me was torturous. Hours before the store would open to the public each day, you were on duty making all the "fresh" products that were sold in the freezer case. Parfaits, Flying Saucers, the 32 or so flavors of ice cream that were in vats displayed to customers. You'd stand with a tub in front of one of the custard machines. As vanilla ice cream dripped into the vat, you would periodically spoon something else in to create all the wonderful Carvel variations. Spooning in cherries. Voila, Cherry Vanilla. Spooning in chocolate syrup. Voila, Vanilla Fudge Swirl. Spooning in chocolate chips. Voila, Chocolate Chip.
"Whoa, that's way too many chocolate chips in there!"
Fuck off, shithead.
You'd go home at the end of the day, smelling like chocolate. You'd lay in bed at night and dream of the repetitive motion needed to make a cone. Over and over and over. And, throughout your sleep, you'd hear Jerry's voice telling you how you just screwed up one more time.
I lasted only the summer and no more. While my friend Leo actually thrived there as a manager and essentially funded his college education right through grad school, I realized that I was much better off on the other side of the counter. Licking the cone and wondering why there weren't more chocolate chips in the ice cream.
The following year, I moved onto another summer job. But, you will simply have to wait one week to hear all about it.
Dinner last night: Picnic snacks at the first Hollywood Bowl concert of the summer.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Classic Movie Trailer of the Month - June 2009

How do you not see Peyton Place? Especially since EVERYBODY'S WAITING TO SEE IT!

Dinner last night: Bratwurst and garlic fries at the Dodger game.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Death of Two Icons and How The Hell Do I Get Home From Work

All of Hollywood stopped dead in its tracks yesterday because two of its own did exactly the same thing. And the resulting feeding frenzy was indeed Hollywood at its very best and worst.

The news yesterday morning about Farrah Fawcett was not unexpected. When we saw her several weeks ago in that documentary film on NBC, you could tell it wasn't going to be long. The condo she lived in is very near my home and I'd think of her each time I drove by. I also was astounded that the ever present papparazzi were not camped out in front. Finally, she was being left alone.

But Farrah passes on yesterday morning and the tributes start pouring in. God asks Charlie for an angel. Yada yada. So, I sit at work and think that this will be the major news of my evening of TV viewing.

Little did we all know.
And now I think of Farrah Fawcett looking down at all this and saying, "Fuck me. I'm wiped off the front page in just four hours."
The Michael Jackson news buzzed around our office so quickly it was as if he was in an open limousine going past the Texas School Book Depository. And the rumors were fast and furious. Cardiac arrest. Coma. He's seen shopping for a new mattress at Sit N'Sleep. Who knew what the heck was going on? TMZ reports he is dead and I wonder when they became journalists, since all they usually do is sit on a curb and wait for Lindsay Lohan's next fender bender.
But, ultimately and sadly, we learn that the king of pop is truly dead and now Farrah is standing alongside him at the pearly gates and she is pissed. And there probably hasn't been such a blatant case of mortal one-up-manship since Groucho croaked three days after Elvis Presley.
The LA radio dial immediately goes into "Thriller" mode and we learn about the mass hysteria at UCLA Hospital as well as at the mansion in Bel Air. An even more horrific thought came to me.
How the hell do I drive home? You see, the UCLA route is my usual path. But, when I want to duck freeway traffic, I go by way of Beverly Glen, which just happens to be right near the house of death. Meanwhile, one of my routes also goes past Farrah's condo and I'm hoping there already isn't a dumpster outside as Ryan goes through her things. What to do, what to do?
I ended up driving a route that took me about five miles out of my way. But it allowed me to think about these two legends, one that signified the 70s and one that dominated the 80s. A musical superstar whose record albums could be found in my collection, although I was always more partial to the Jackson Five, relics of my Black-infused Mount Vernon, New York youth. And, yes, I do confess to trying Wella Balsam shampoo at least once.
The music on the radio was vintage Michael. And I thought about the guy. A true talent who was a complete Amtrak collision in all other aspects of his life. One woman interviewed on the radio was shocked by his death at the early age of 50. Frankly, I'm surprised he got that far. After all, he was legendary for mainlining painkillers (I am betting this will be the final verdict of the autopsy---Judy Garland all the way).
Meanwhile, Michael was psychotic. Anorexic with a body shape that looked like a stick figure in one of those Tim Burton stop action movies. Swallowed daily by the entourage from Hell, who took the last drop of normalcy from his life so that they could make their monthly lease payments on a Porsche. Dangling babies out windows and marrying women he had no interest in. He buys the bones of the Elephant Man and I wonder how I can compete souvenir-wise with a Casey Blake bobblehead.
I remember that Michael once hung with Tatum O'Neal and she is now Thursday's big winner in Six Degrees of Lethal Separation. The guy who was a revered idol for the entire Black population, yet he strove desperately to be White. Meanwhile, who knows what kind of Clorox made his skin look like he was Casper the Friendly Ghost. I recall the day his nose fell off and I wonder how I would have survived that nasal injustice. Add to that the infatuation with small boys and llamas and monkeys and Elizabeth Taylor.
A shocking death at the age of 50? I would have picked 42 in the office pool.
But, still the music through the radio speakers wiped all that out. I was a fan. And always will be. Another radio host tells me that Michael had a musical style that you could not put in a box. I can't resist the silent joke. Now you can, I chuckled to myself.
In the distance, I see helicopters hovering over West LA and realize that this has been a devastating loss for many people. The tradition here is for fans to bring flowers to the dead celebrity's star on Hollywood Boulevard. Except, in their haste, grief, and latent stupidity, most place bouquets on the star of the other Michael Jackson, the local radio talk host who has been in this market for years. But, I guess it didn't make a difference. Not for them. It was their way of connecting to Michael Jackson, any Michael Jackson.
And I'm sure there were flowers adorning the star of Farrah Fawcett who had her own goofiness in life but certainly saved her best and most courageous performance for the third act of life.
In show business, the adage is that stars leave this world in threes and, this week, we got them in short order. Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson. I think this has the makings of a great Carnac joke. But, I still have not been able to make the gag work.
With Michael now locked in sudden death with Elvis, I understand that his memory and image will linger for years just like the king of rock and roll who went buns up in 1977. And how long will it be until, as is the case with Elvis, there will be Michael Jackson sightings.
"Gee, I swear I saw him working at a 76 gas station on the way to Vegas."
"He's manning the drive-up window at Arby's."
"He's not dead. Diana Ross is hiding him in her basement."
This will all happen. But, in the meanwhile, he long ride home had made me think. In thirty minutes, I had made an amazing journey. From sardonic to squishy.
Maybe we never can say goodbye.
Dinner last night: Risotto with chicken and mushrooms.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Awkwardville, Next Stop

More f-ed up photos of some f-ed up people.

Why is Dad looking so sheepish? I'm guessing Witness Protection Program. Also, can we have a party so Junior's pants can come down and meet his shoes?

Nancy Pelosi's first baby picture.

The youngest ambulance chasers in America.

The true mystery of the Sphinx is how the hell does this bunch get through the day.

Nothing says "Merry Christmas" more than a card showing some good ole' holiday anal sex.

As far as I'm concerned, there's only one real dog in this picture.

Dinner last night: Hawaiian turkey burger at Islands.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wednesdays Are Contagious

Do you take this carrier of swine flu as your lawful, wedded...?

---That's a bad break. You spend months planning your wedding and then there's a swine flu pandemic. They don't tell you about that in "Modern Bride."

---Well, I'm guessing these two are worried about disease spreading. Or it could simply be a best man with lousy hygiene.

---Gee, the bride's a lot prettier this way.

---Writing this from 35,000 feet and I can tell you that America doesn't look so stupid from this altitude.

---Except, of course, some of them are around me.

---It's not even an hour into the flight and already there are paper towels thrown into the toilet.

---Just below the sign that says "Do not throw paper towels into toilet."

---American Airline business class does make it all easier. The best thing they do, food-wise, is the antipasto cold plate for lunch.

---And, of course, the warm chocolate chip cookie and milk just before landing.

---But there are slobs up here, too. The dumbbell across the row just threw his butter on the floor. And then stepped in it an hour later when he went to the bathroom.

---Without his shoes on.

---The guy sitting next to me was trying to use a video camera on his computer. Over and over and over for twenty minutes, it was...

---"Hi, William, can you hear me? William, are you there? Can you hear?"

---William is still MIA.

---Dial flipping on a rainy Sunday in NY, I came across a commercial for Cialis, one of those erectile dysfunction pills.

---Okay, the on-screen warning shows you all the medical conditions that you can't take this with.

---One of them is HIV Positive.

---Huh? Hello, McFly, anybody there?

---If you're HIV Positive, what the hell are you doing swapping body fluids with anybody???

---The ad should say, "If you're HIV Positive, stay the hell away from anybody's body parts, except your own."

---With the push for equality, I'm waiting to see one of these commercials with two men scampering down the hall to the bedroom.

---What a lucrative business model for Cialis. They could sell twice as many pills.

---At what point does the fawning press and media tell us that Obama is taking this stuff? And we get to watch the FLOTUS hanging by her ankles from a ceiling fan in the Lincoln Bedroom.

---On the TV screen of my mind, I can see this image.

---Dial flipping some more, I ran into a NY State Lottery commercial with the announcer from Jeopardy and Ed McMahon sitting in a diner. I note that Ed looks ready to croak.

---Bingo, we have a winner. Please come forward to claim your prize.

---Ed was in his eighties. So I guess that means lots of liquor and Budweiser doesn't automatically kill you.

---Hi ho!!!!!

---And William is still MIA.

Dinner last night: Roast beef sandwich back in LA.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Citi Field Redux

This is not a recent picture I took of Citi Field and what was Shea Stadium. It couldn't be. The sun is out in the photo and that hasn't been the case here in New York for about three weeks.

It was that usual dreariness that found me headed to another Saturday Met game on June 20. Fitting place to be on what was my dad's birthday. As I squinted through the windshield wipers in a driving rain storm and traversed the usual route to Shea, I could hear my father's voice echoing as always.

"It's pouring. They'll never play. What do you wanna drive all the way out there for?"

There are times when Dad was logical. There are a lot more times when I am not. And this was one of them. I had to see Citi Field again and understand whether my disconnect was still valid.

You may recall that my first visit there in April was lackluster. I found the place too quirky, too busy, too too. It had gotten to the point where I told some selected friends as late as Saturday morning that I doubted whether I would re-up for another year as a partial plan holder in the non-sexual Mile High Club that is Section 509 in the Promenade Level. I guess I wanted one more gander just to be sure.

Gander taken. I'm a little less sure. As a matter of fact, I hated the park a lot less.

Don't get me wrong. There's still a major emphasis on the selling and eating of food. And the layout still has way too many nooks and crannies---the Thomas' Muffin of baseball stadia. But, perhaps due to the wetness of the day, there was a lot less milling around, like people in a new mall trying to figure out where Target is. On Saturday afternoon, we got the proverbial weather window and the game got underway as scheduled. And it actually appeared that folks were there to watch a baseball game. Praise the Lord and God bless Casey Stengel.

Some of the misgivings I had two months ago washed away with the afternoon drizzle. You could move around the place quicker. We had parked in our old lot near the World's Fair Marina, which was unattended on Saturday and therefore a savings of 19 bucks. Approaching Citi Field from a different direction, we entered not via the cloying Jackie Robinson Rotunda but a regular old entrance gate near left field. And, to our happy surprise, we found what we missed in April. Exit ramps! Lots of them. I had previously thought that stairwells were the only way down from the Citi heavens. Wrong. I wanted to hug the sloping concrete. A hosanna to Shea.

We ambled around the field level again and saw all the nonsense. A forty-deep line for pulled BBQ pork sandwiches. The dunk tank and kiddie baseball field. But, people were less involved in them because, perhaps, the novelty has worn off already. And I saw more folks on line for more conventional ballpark fare. Hot dogs, grilled sausages, burgers. I joined them and thanked the Mets for finally doing what the Dodgers have done for years: fresh condiment dispensers.

We ran into our old Shea neighbors and current Citi neighbors, Craig and Debbie, and they seemed to be growing into the ballpark as well. Like a bad haircut, it doesn't look so bad when the hair grows in. The same can be said for Citi Field.

Of course, it's still an adjustment scaling Mount Fuji to get to your seats. And, when you stand up quickly at your seat, there is a quick shot of vertigo not experienced since Kim Novak fell out of the church tower. But, I actually discovered that the ultra-high vantage point is probably the best in the park. While I can't see the Met dugout (these days, that's a good thing), the whole field is plainly visible and I understand that it is not the case in some of the more expensive levels. But, there are still some other hiccups up in our rarified air.

---There are neat metal bannisters up the steep stairs. But they are problematic when wet. I saw so many slips and slides that I thought I was watching a Mr. Bean rerun.

---There are very few places for shelter from the elements, which is unlike Shea. If you want to wait out a rain delay (which we endured the first ever at Citi Field for an hour and thirteen minutes on Saturday) by getting a hot dog or a soda, the line for said snack is out in the rainy open.

---When I was first there in April, I was proud to know that my seats, five rows from the top of the stadium, were covered by what little overhang there is at Citi Field. During the eighth inning deluge, the roof didn't work. There are leaks around the beams, which prompted me to yell out, "Who was the construction crew here? The Three Stooges??!!!"

---There is not an usher to be found anywhere on our level. Essentially, you have to find your seat on your own. And wipe it off yourself if it's dirty.

---I don't care what the Wilpons told us. The leg room in rows, at least on the non-elite levels, is not increased. And, since the seat ahead of you is much lower, it's a little unnerving when you have to stand up. You feel like you are on the wing of an airplane with no visible support.

---Obviously, there are people still pissed about the place. Twice, I ran into irate Met fans arguing with a security, perhaps because they couldn't find ushers either. One of the fans was screaming, "You can tell the Wilpons to take this fucking place and shove it up their asses!"

Hmmmm, that didn't sound like a clogged mustard pump to me.

As for me, by the end of the day, I seemed to be in a better place with this worse place called Citi Field. Still, it's not my park and not my lifelong seats. But, after talking with our neighbors, there might be some renewable ticket life in me yet.

God, I can be such a wimp.

Dinner last night: Virginia ham sandwich.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday Morning Video Laugh - June 22, 2009

June is the month for beautiful, blushing brides. Uh huh.

Dinner last night: Roast bee sandwich, German potato salad, and cucumber salad.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Grandpa

It's Father's Day, but let's not go the obvious route here. I will dig one generation deeper. To my grandfather, pictured above with Grandma. My dad's parents.

In these Sunday memory drawer recollections, Grandpa's made only fleeting appearances. Part of the reason why is that he was one of the earliest departures from my life. Grandpa died when I was 12. So, I didn't get him that long. But, there are some random memories that have stayed with me. In reality, though, I really don't know much about the man beyond what I was told by my grandmother. Or what I remember from my very wee years.

From what I was told, Grandpa had a variety of jobs over the years. I did see a picture of him standing behind a bar with an apron on, so I assume he was a bartender at one point. There was some other talk about him driving a delivery truck. But, the job I know he had the longest was for a milk company. Borden's or "Bordink's" as my grandmother called it. What he did there was a mystery, except, at least, he had achieved an upgrade in the healthy aspects of the beverages he was involved with.

But, as far back as I can remember, he was already retired. Sitting in that big easy chair in the living room and yelling at the wrestlers on TV. If the match got particularly nasty, he would move closer to the edge of the cushion, as if his next move was to vault into the ring himself. If it was really intense, the instructions yelled at the set by both Grandpa and Grandma were in German, so I'd be lost. At the foot of his easy chair was always a glass bottle of Kruger Beer. My grandfather actually had beer delivered to the home every Wednesday morning. Tuffy, our dog, would hear the truck's squeaky wheels from blocks away and her incessant barking always heralded the "beerman's" arrival.

On Sunday afternoons, I can always remember Grandpa sitting at the kitchen table, reading the Daily News. I'd sit alongside him, which was always the signal for him to go into Fiorello LaGuardia mode. Even though I could read at a very early age, my grandfather liked to read the funnies to me.

"So, Moon Mullins sits down on the couch and says to Kayo..."

I have no clue why Grandpa liked to do this with me, but it happened like clockwork every Sunday.

There are other snapshots.

Grandpa's lunch often consisted of a slice or two of head cheese in a plate covered by vinegar. Head cheese is the cold cut that is made up of all the parts of a pig most people don't eat. The whole meal looked gross to me.

"Wanna try some?"

I'd run away in horror.

My grandparents would eat their supper early. Usually around 4:30PM. Which meant that, from 3:30PM to about 4:15PM every day, Grandpa was missing in action. That was his time to walk two blocks and hoist a few brews at what my grandmother referred to as "the beer garden." He never came home drunk. It was simply his daily cocktail hour.

I do recall, however, one night where Grandpa was completely snockered. There was a community place on Stevens Avenue in Mount Vernon called the Turn Hall and they frequently featured Saturday night dances for any Germans interested. My family and all its tentacles always showed up. And, for some inexplicable reason, I got carted along at the age of 5. They'd sit me down at a table with a Coke and my favorite Colorforms set while the immediate world would commence to polka. While I got bored, Grandpa got pickled.

It was a rainy night and we all piled into my dad's car for the trip home. I was in the back seat, seating beside Grandma and on my grandfather's lap. Soaked to the gills, he used the moment to get very amorous. With me.

Kissing me all over my face, Grandpa kept announcing over and over. "I love you, I love you so much, I love you, I love you so much."

It was mere minutes before Grandma had endured enough. There was an ice cold stare.

"If you don't stop that, I'd gonna pop you one with this goddamn umbrella."

Who knows what happened behind their closed bedroom door that night.

When I was really young, my father worked days. So, any transport that my mom and I needed during the daytime hours was provided by Grandpa and his green Buick sedan. On my very first day in the first grade, my school was closed at noon because of an impending hurricane which was going to hit New York dead on. Grandpa picked me up outside for the five block ride home. He never ever showed much emotion. But, looking out the window at a raging wind and blinding rain, he appeared a little vulnerable. Almost scared.

"Oh, my God, this is going to be a hurricane."

During the summer months, the Grandpa transport extended to Orchard Beach where he would drop us off and pick us up after a day at the "Bronx Riviera." On one ride home, there were two other passengers with us. One of my mother's friends and her kid. Well, anyway, mucho chatter had ensued. And, for some reason, Grandpa seemed to be a little unsure about the way home. And then he ran a stop sign. And whacked a car coming the other direction.

I got knocked onto the floor of the back seat, but everybody was otherwise okay. Surprisingly, there was no damage to our car. And a medium-sized dent on the car we hit. But, the real trauma was etched on Grandpa's face. He was crestfallen. He had never been involved in an accident before. His demeanor showed the result of his epiphany. With his reflexes slowing down, he was encountering the inevitable.

His driving days were over.

As my family often did, we went into lockdown mode. Grandpa whispered to me.

"Don't tell your grandmother."


My mother whispered to me.

"Don't tell your father."

Check again.

Somehow, this was going to be a little secret between my mother and my grandfather. And me. But, there was an obvious leak because I soon noticed that my father would do all the driving whenever my grandparents needed to go someplace. To the supermarket every Thursday. To the Bronx on the first Tuesday of every month when my grandmother saw her doctor and then they shopped for Kosher dill pickles at some neighborhood they called "Jew Town." More importantly, that accident was never discussed ever again.

The years and more were closing in on Grandpa.

That fall, he came down with pnuemonia and pleuresy, which had him bedridden at home for about a month. He really was never the same after that. Breathes became shorter. Walks to the beer garden became extinct. And he even stopped smoking his beloved pipe.

By the following March, the days were dwindling down to a precious few. On the day Grandpa would pass away, I would conveniently be home from school. I had brokered an afternoon home sick. Partly because of a sore throat. Mostly because I wanted to listen to a Met spring exhibition game on the radio. My mom had walked around the corner to the grocery store. Sequestered in my room on the bed with my transistor radio, I suddenly heard my grandmother wail from downstairs.

"Lenny, quick. Go run and get your mother. I think something happened to Grandpa!"

I scooted quickly out of the house like Lassie when Timmy fell down the well. My mother dropped all her groceries in the store and told me to come along. I told her I would stay there. It was no time to argue. She ran out.

Within five minutes, amidst the cans of Krasdale vegetables, I could hear the faint but scary sound of sirens. Those noises have bothered me to this date. But, the only thing worse than hearing those piercing mechanical cries is knowing that they are headed to your house.

Eventually, I headed home and kept myself busy. Upstairs away from the activity. Because of all the strangers in the house, I grabbed Tuffy and hid in the bathroom. I don't think I came out for an hour.

Grandpa was gone. I later heard the details. His labored exhales had caught the dog's attention as she sat at his feet. My grandmother noticed this.

"Pop, Tuffy is listening to you breathe."

He apparently leaned forward to look at my dog, smiled, and then leaned back to die. In his favorite easy chair.

The sum total of my memories about my grandfather, my dad's dad, are etched above for the ages. I just wish I had him a little longer than I did.

Dinner last night: Chicken with roasted peppers and mushrooms at Carlo's in Yonkers.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Classic Newsreel of the Month - June 2009

Mr. and Mrs. Joe DiMaggio.

Dinner last night: Szechwan beef at Oriental Diner in Hawthorne.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Actual Police Photos

Find the common denominator amongst these felons. And it's not skin color.

Dinner last night: Roast beef sandwich.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

You Have Been Linked In....

More social networking---this site devoted to creating that connection which will guarantee your employment until the day that Social Security runs out. It's a little like the previously-blogged-here Facebook, but a lot less silly. On the latter, I am often apprised to when friends are doing their laundry and/or reloading their toilet tanks with Vanish. At some point, some yokel will be letting me know what they had for dinner the night before. Ahem. Well, I digress...

Linked In entered my world about a year ago when I got sucked into the site. I joined and soon found connections to a bunch of people I used to work with. From time to time, I would be asked to provide a recommendation for somebody. Essentially a virtual job reference. And I would always do so because, frankly, I'm a nice guy and might need a reciprocal action down the road.

But, by and large, I pretty much ignore Linked In. Until a while back when a good friend of mine mentioned that he had been approached for a reference by somebody that used to work for me. No, scratch that. This was somebody who used to work for me and we fired. For poor performance. For insubordination. For bringing their latent insanity to the office every day and every week. It seems this person has gotten canned again from another company for similar reasons, although they have window-dressed to appear as if the slug was dismissed due to the ultra-hard economic times we are facing. Naturally, I counseled my friend to eschew a recommendation. More specifically, I suggested he tell the person to go fuck themselves, but there are probably kinder words to use. Indeed, there was no need for any: my friend has a policy of not endorsing people he has never worked with.

Nevertheless, the mere mention of my former colleague's name prompted me to check out their job profile on Linked In. And what I found contained fiction that even Charles Dickens couldn't conjure up. Because, under the job experience section where the person worked for me, I discovered that he/she pretty much had me working for them. I found some large ass declarations of corporate dollars being saved by procedures he/she put into place. I found the accomplishments of others being claimed solely as his/her achievement. I uncovered one fabrication after another. Essentially, this person had become Jesus Christ himself/herself.

I thought about this psychotic loon who had driven us all crazy. When he/she lists the effective tutelege and training of two younger colleagues, I remember that both of those kids came to me separately and privately to tell me that they could no longer work for him/her. I recalled the absolute fear we all had of coming to work. Like a family member coming home and hoping against hope that their alcoholic mother/father hadn't been hitting the Jim Beam all day. When news got around the building that said person had been "dispatched," one department played "Ding Dong The Witch is Dead" over their phone system. One other associate suggested that I be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet, on Linked In, my ex-employee has turned water into wine and back again.

And I thought long and hard about all the other folks trying to sell their expertise and work credentials on Linked In. How much of it is real? How much of it is Memorex? Is Obama using Linked In to vett his Cabinet picks because that could explain a lot. But, then I think about all the modifications and enhancements Linked In could make to their service. Imagine if you could type your bogus experience into the site and then it tells you, "Sorry, that's a freakin' lie. Please try again." If only technology could bring us to that wonderful juncture.

Hell, what would stop me? I could easily upload my "past experience." Two years as a stage hand of "A Chorus Line" at the Shubert Theater in NY. Five seasons executive producing "Frasier." Now, the incumbent Senator from Hawaii. In a longterm relationship with Valerie Bertinelli and, yes, the Jenny Craig diet plan is still working, thank you very much. How different is that trip down Pinocchio's nose from what my former colleague has done?

I looked closely at the Linked In site to see if there was a place to upload a non-recommendation.

"Hire this person and your hair will fall out in clumps within the week."

"If you're not homicidal yet, you will be soon."

"An elevator shaft can be your friend."

Sadly, there was no such spot on the Linked In site.

But, like my thoughts of sharing a low calorie Salisbury steak with Valerie, I can dream, can I not?

Dinner last night: German salami sandwich at the NY abode.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

You Have the Right to Remain Wednesday

I might need a lawyer myself when I'm done with this.

---Mayhem in the streets. Screaming crowds. Burning in effigy. More mayhem as a result of Achmed Imadinnerjacket. A reaction to elections in Teheran?

---Nope, the Lakers won the NBA Finals.

---Why does this always happen when basketball is done for the season? Every year, regardless of the city, people go nuts.

---Detroit, Los Angeles, whatever. Look at the pictures and then tell me the most common denominator.

---"The Lakers won! I need to go out and get me a new TV. From the broken window at Best Buy."


---Let's not forget that the Penguins won hockey's Stanley Cup this weekend as well.

---The two fans went outside to celebrate by spliting a Diet Coke.

---Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps has written a children's book.

---"The Hardy Boys Smoke a Doobie."

---Or "Henry Higgins and the Amazing Bong."

---"How the Grinch Stole Narcotics."

---This may be the first time ever that an author's reading level is lower than the audience he is writing for.

---An amazing athlete. And an even more fascinating door knob.


---Great rhetorical question from fellow blogger and Dodger Talk host Ken Levine: When Arnold Palmer orders an iced tea with lemonade, does he simply say, "I'll have a me?"

---From the Lack of Baseball Historical Perspective Department: a youngster actually asked if Tommy John was the doctor who did all those arm surgeries.

---Audible scream!

---Is Universal Healthcare going to be part of the studio tour?

---One, two, three, four...that one takes a while.

---So, let me see if I got this right. Millions of new people will get free health care and there will be no new doctors or nurses? And everything will be just as it is now??

---Puh-leze!!! Audible scream!!!

---If I live to be 75, I'll be dead by then.

---Is there a way to order MRIs a year or two in advance just in case?

---By the way, does MRI stand for "Maybe Really Injured?"

---I envision a day where people will make appointments to see a specialist and then scalp them on eBay.

---Or maybe those assholes who scalp tickets on the hill by Dodger Stadium will start camping out in front of Cedars of Lebanon Hospital.

---"I got your X-rays, I got your colonoscopies, I got your chemo. Check it out."

---Hypothetical conversation between doctor and patient: "Who ordered you to have back surgery?"

---"Vinny, the guy downstairs at the gas station."

---We're going to have to plan our life threatening illnesses in advance. Like a vacation to Hawaii.

---Of course, none of this will result in new taxes.


---It took just two weeks for Conan O'Brien to completely blow the ratings lead that Jay Leno had built over David Letterman.

---Of course, it helps that Letterman is on the air promoting sex between Alex Rodriguez and a 14-year-old yokel from Alaska.

---Pot, kettle, black. And how long did it take Letterman to marry the mother of his child? Rumor has it the kid was the one who officiated at the ceremony.

---Read on-line Michelle Obama's tips on how single women can catch a husband. Nowhere in the article did I see the words "ankles wrapped around your ears."

---The media is so infatuated with these two clowns that I'm waiting for CBS News to interrupt programming with a "White House booty call."

---"This just in." So to speak.

Dinner last night: BBQ Chicken sandwich at Islands.

And tomorrow from New York!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thumb Up

I might as well quit while I'm ahead. I've already seen the best movie this summer.

"Up" is a movie that is way too good for an audience now forcefed bad acting and cheesy computer graphics. The fact that "Up" is a Pixar movie and computer-driven itself is immaterial. The movie has more intelligence and heart than hundreds of other films released by mainstream Hollywood over the past ten years.

It starts simply. You meet Carl Fredricksen as a child, mesmerized by famed explorer Charles Muntz in some 1930 newsreel. But, it's not long before Carl's attention is diverted by cute little Ellie who, in one of the best montages ever captured on film, ultimately becomes Carl's wife for life. You are whisked amazingly through their childhood, their courtship, their marriage, even the loss of an unborn child, perhaps Disney's first on-screen miscarriage.

Ellie passes on, leaving Carl as a grouchy old man, expertly voiced by Edward Asner who hasn't sounded this crabby since CBS cancelled "Lou Grant." His house is the lone residence in an urban renewal project and you think you're headed for a plot that is recycled from a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie starring perhaps a live action Edward Asner. But, that's when "Up," propelled with helium balloons and a flight of fancy, takes off. Carl hoists his house to the sky on his way to fulfilling a lifelong dream held by Ellie. The only problem is that, while aloft, he discovers a chubby neighborhood Boy Scout, Russell, on his porch.

Realism morphs into fantasy as Carl and Russell have an adventure someplace in South America that is like no other. There's a bizarre bird named Kevin, some voice-activated dogs, and a meeting with...well, it's not hard to figure out who. But, as predictable as the plot sometimes gets, you are nevertheless surprised along the way by an impeccable blend of humor, action, and pathos. Few movies these days do any of those qualities well. "Up" manages to achieve the highest level of excellence for all three. It was probably a real risk for Disney to feature an entire movie around an old guy and a fat Asian kid, but the gamble was worth it.

Indeed, one might argue that "Up" is too smart for an audience that will naturally be comprised of little kids looking for the next guinea pig fart joke (from the trailer I saw that is exactly what is coming this summer with Disney's "G Force"). I saw "Up" at the wonderful El Capitan Theater which was packed to the rafters, both orchestra and balcony, for the Saturday 7PM show. Lots of little kids were scattered about, and the youngest seemed to get bored halfway through. Lots of fidgeting, crying, and whining. Toddlers taken to the lobby for a respite. A great Disney film usually has something for both children and adults. In the case of "Up," there was probably more for the latter than the former as it has a real solid chance of winning an Oscar for Best Picture.

There was one moment of child intrusion that did have us laughing. At one point in the film, Carl tries to keep Russell's chattering to a minimum by introducing a game where they get to see who can stay quiet the longest. Two rows behind, a little girl called to her father.

"Daddy, that's the same game you play with me."

Dinner last night: Crispy spicy beef at the Cheesecake Factory.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Sunday Memory Drawer - My First Flight to LA

Okay, my first trip to SoCal didn't result in a picture like this. But, it came pretty damn close.
It started so simply. Just out of college and looking to be a star in Hollywood, even though I still barely could get out of Mount Vernon. Looking longingly at the West Coast, palm trees, and live studio audience tapings, I wanted to visit badly. But, given my recent graduate status, money was a premium. Actually, it was virtually non-existent.
But, from Heaven above, an opportunity landed from the clouds. Well, really, on the telephone. My college roommate and best friend had miraculously been the one to actually land a job in the profession he was pursuing. As a junior reporter, his assignment was to travel with an all-girls softball team to a tournament in Huntington Beach. He was getting there on cross country bus, but, once in SoCal, there was a hotel room that was easily shared. How fast could I get there?
Hmmm, let me see. An all-girls softball team (this is prior to the days where I would automatically assume that they were all lesbians). A free hotel room. A place near Los Angeles (this is prior to the days where I would learn that Huntington Beach is an hour away from anything worthwhile in Hollywood). And the word "beach" was in the city's name. How fast can I get there?
Is tomorrow too soon?
I quickly made plans to get a flight within the week. The logistics were met with my father's usual rousing support.
"What the hell do you wanna go there for?"
Thanks, Dad. One more time. Nevertheless, I forged ahead with what little scratch I had. In those days, you could get cheap flights if you flew on the red eye. In what would be the very first of many subsequent flights on American Airlines (I am a member of the Million Mile Club, thank you very much), I scheduled a Sunday night 9PM flight from JFK. And, begrudgingly, my father even offered to drive me to the airport.
Everything went like clockwork. Timex, not Rado, but clockwork nonetheless. Because I booked late, I did not have a wide choice of seating on the plane. In the center section. Right in front of the movie screen. In the middle seat. Next to an old and blind Spanish lady. Okay, I was looking for a trip to Los Angeles, not an on-board tryst in the restroom. Even if she was blind.
Take-off was smooth and, after settling into my cramped seat, I pulled out some of my spec scripts to read. Heck, one of the reasons why I was going was to be discovered as the next Larry Gelbart. And, I'd be curious to watch folks around me, watching me read scripts. "Hmm, who is that? Maybe the next Larry Gelbart?" Of course, I knew I'd get no reaction from the senora on my left.
The beverage cart came by and I got my Diet Coke. Well, back then, it was probably a Tab. They hadn't rolled it much further up the aisle when, suddenly, the flight attendants quickly pulled the carts back. Then, we hear glasses, etc. getting shoved back into the cabinets.
A few minutes later, the captain gets on the sound system.
"Sorry, folks, we're going back to Kennedy."
Groans all around. But, no reason why. Equipment issue? Weather? The co-pilot forgot his wallet?
We hadn't been up in the air for more than 45 minutes so the return trip to JFK couldn't be long. Apparently, we were somewhere over Pennsylania. Then, a little news from the flight attendant.
"We will be evacuating via the rear doors."
Evacuating? What happened to a leisurely exit? This clearly was evolving into something more than a busted food conveyor belt.
"Okay, folks, we will be evacuating via the slides."
As in slides that can be used as rubber rafts if you're in the water. For a moment, I looked for my rosary beads. Then, I remembered I wasn't Catholic.
"Passengers, please remove your shoes."
"Please assume crash landing position. Put your head in your lap."
And kiss your ass goodbye? I looked over at the old Spanish fossil next to me. Shoes on, blindly and literally looking off into space. I wasn't going to do anything about taking her Buster Browns off, but I certainly could help with the crash position.
I slammed her head into her lap.
We touched down at 9:58PM. I could see the time because my eye was right on top of my wristwatch. And then, as soon as we came to a stop, one word rang out through the cabin. Over and over and over.
"Go! Go! Go! Go!"
The doors were open. The slides were ready. In one fluid movement, you jumped into a sitting position and then slid. Down and down and down. Onto a tarmac at JFK that was literally fifty feet from the water. I managed the manuever easily. Others came flying off the slide in different directions. Some landing on the concrete on their ass. Others face down on the gravel. But, there was no time to linger.
"Run! Run! Run! Run!"
Outside. On the ground. With no shoes.
When we were all a safe distance from the aircraft, I looked at the scene unfolding before me. Fire engines, ambulances, and police cars speeding to the plane. It reminded me of the last scene from "Dog Day Afternoon." Where was John Cazale with the bullethole in the middle of his forehead?
Later on, we heard the details. A bomb scare had come in for our flight. It was allegedly to go off at 10PM. They had gotten us back with very little margin for error.
The eternal evening continued. Eventually, after walking around a terminal for two hours, we were allowed back on the plane (after the requisite dog sniffing for explosives) to get our stuff. Sometime around 2AM, they boarded us on another flight. Which had only enough fuel to get us to Cleveland. We refueled there on the runaway. After the plane switch, I had scored a window seat. I looked out at the Ohio blackness. This would be the only time I ever saw Cleveland. At 330AM.
What I didn't realize, in these pre-cell phone days, was what was happening in Los Angeles. As my friend waited endlessly for me to arrive, all the folks there saw on the arrival board were the usual words that signify a disaster.
He did and still learned nothing except that the flight had been delayed and was now due about 7AM. He, too, got to wander around an airport terminal as well. Except, he still had shoes on.
So, my first view of Southern California was seen through a pair of droopy eyes in his rental car. We got to Huntington Beach and both of us crashed on our beds. And did not move for the next 12 hours. By the time we woke up, the all girls softball team had already left. And, because I had used some of my spending money at the JFK Terminal, we later in our trip wound up trying to tour Disneyland on just ten bucks in our pockets. I even had to wire home for some dough so I could get back to the East Coast. My father still had unwavering support.
"What the hell did you want to go there for?"
Yes, Dad, I am safe now. Thanks.
Dinner last night: Sausage pizza at CPK.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Classic TV Theme of the Month - June 2009

I want to know where that puppet is. And I do want to get my hands on it.

Dinner last night: Sausage and peppers sandwich at Maria's Italian Kitchen.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Your Weekend Movie Guide for June 2009

This is the Nuart Theater in Los Angeles, circa 1959. The theater remains to this day a single screen venue specializing in art films and classic revivals. And, even though they have renovated, it looks amazingly like this photo from 50 years ago. I just saw "Easy Rider" there for the first time (and hated it). But, ithe Nuart is dependable for being different. When "The Manchurian Candidate" (not the Denzel Washington junky remake) played there, I talked to Janet Leigh in the lobby as she sipped a Diet Coke.

Amazing cinematic adventures await us all this weekend as Hollywood's summer season gets underway. There might even be a good movie or two on the list below. I cull the offerings from the LA Times and give you my knee-jerk reaction on what to expect.

Up: I hear nothing but great word-of-mouth on Pixar's latest, which fellow blogger Ken Levine has described as "Gran Torino" with balloons. The opening ten minute montage is supposed to be one of the most beautiful moments ever captured on film. All this hype may just serve to set me up for a major disappointment. Hopefully not.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian: Saw it and liked it, although it is not as clever as the original. Hank Azaria steals the movie in every scene he is in as he channels the spirit of Boris Karloff perfectly. But, overall, just know that two monkeys are not always funnier than just one.

Terminator Salvation: I'm not saving it for any reason whatsoever.

Away We Go: Jackie Gleason courting the June Taylor Dancers? Er, no. Some romantic comedy with some guy from the Office and Maya Rudolph who used to not make us laugh on SNL. Well reviewed, but it looks the same as about five dozen other movies that have come out in the last two years.

Moon: An astronaut meets his younger, almost identical replacement when his health starts to deteriorate. "Apollo 13" meets "The Parent Trip."

The Art of Being Straight: Well, we know it's not about Idol finalist Adam Lambert.

The Hangover: The ads tell me this is from the producers of "Old School" and that's enough to scare me away. The reviews were terrific for this, but the trailer looks absolutely dumb. I now realize that I can no longer trust today's film critics to determine what is a good screen comedy. And what the hell is so funny about a couple of blackout drunks anyway?? Although I bet Billy Wilder could find the humor...

Tetro: Francis Ford Coppola returns and there's no other director who can be so bi-polar with his films. Some are the greatest of all time, while others are the worst of all time. This is about some family in Buenos Aires, another international armpit of a city where the flies around your dinner plate are bigger than the steak on it.

The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3: One of the best action films from the 70s now ruined as a remake from Denzel Washington and John Travolta. About as needless as a manufacturer bottling Legionnaires Disease for sale in your local supermarket. Neither of those two knuckleheads will come remotely close to the performances of Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw in the original. But, I'm sure it will grab some dollars over the weekend, especially from moviegoers who happen to be Black racist Scientologists.

The Brothers Bloom: Not in my garden.

Land of the Lost: Will Ferrell stars and let's all root for the dinosaurs with the sharpest teeth. In a Hollywood full of mystery talents, Ferrell's success is the biggest puzzler of them all. A one note actor and an asshole to boot.

Imagine That: Somebody is still sending Eddie Murphy scripts. Imagine that.

My Life in Ruins: Nia Vardalos forces you on a travelogue through her mother country. She always looks like an aardvark in heat.

Angels and Demons: Lingering around like the swine flu. Opie Vs. the Pope. I heard it is absolutely dreadful.

Drag Me to Hell: Many think you already did. On January 20 of this year.

Star Trek: It came out last month. And the sequel's not out yet? They usually pound out editions of this series like babies spit up drool.

Food, Inc.: A documentary about, what else, the food industry. Question: if food processes are so bad, why is the country so fat? Think about that as you reach for your second morning donut.

Departures: Saw it and previously discussed here. Walter B. Cooke Goes Asian. Well done and deserving of this year's Best Foreign Film Oscar.

The Proposal: More absolute crap from Sandra Bullock. It's in previews this weekend, so you can start avoiding it ahead of the rest of the public.

Summer Hours: French bullshit with Juliette Binoche. And she's always great with strawberry jam.

Oh, well. I guess there's always Turner Classic Movies.

Dinner last night: Dried cappacollo on sourdough roll.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Little Baseball History....Mine

Game Played on Saturday, April 20, 1968 (D) at Shea StadiumLA N 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 - 2 9 0
NY N 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 x - 3 2 0
BATTINGLos Angeles Dodgers AB R H RBI BB SO PO A
Parker 1b 3 0 1 0 1 0 6 0
Versalles ss 4 0 1 2 0 2 0 0
Davis cf 4 0 1 0 0 1 1 0
Fairly rf 4 0 1 0 0 1 2 0
Lefebvre 2b 4 0 1 0 0 0 1 2
Haller c 4 0 1 0 0 1 13 0
James pr 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Colavito lf 4 1 2 0 0 1 1 0
Alcaraz 3b 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Gabrielson ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Popovich 3b 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Singer p 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 2
Fairey ph 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
Regan p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 34 2 9 2 1 8 24 5
2B: Lefebvre (3,off Seaver); Fairey (1,off Seaver); Colavito (1,off Seaver).
Team LOB: 6.
CS: Davis (1,2nd base by Seaver/Grote).
New York Mets AB R H RBI BB SO PO A
Harrelson ss 4 1 1 0 0 1 3 1
Weis 2b 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
Jones lf 4 0 0 0 0 3 2 0
Shamsky 1b 1 1 0 0 2 0 6 1
Swoboda rf 2 1 1 3 1 0 4 1
Agee cf 3 0 0 0 0 3 2 0
Charles 3b 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 2
Grote c 2 0 0 0 1 1 9 1
Seaver p 3 0 0 0 0 3 1 0
Frisella p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 25 3 2 3 4 12 27 8
HR: Swoboda (3,6th inning off Singer 2 on 2 out).
SH: Weis (1,off Singer).
IBB: Grote (3,by Singer).
Team LOB: 3.
Singer L(1-2) 7 2 3 3 4 12 1 27
Regan 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
Totals 8 2 3 3 4 12 1 30
IBB: Singer (3,Grote).
New York Mets IP H R ER BB SO HR BFP
Seaver W(1-0) 8.2 9 2 2 1 8 0 34
Frisella SV(2) 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Totals 9 9 2 2 1 8 0 35
Umpires: HP - Ed Sudol, 1B - Lee Weyer, 2B - Bill Williams, 3B - Tom Gorman
Time of Game: 2:22 Attendance: 19938

So, what's all this nonsense shown above? Lots of names and numbers that appear to resemble a baseball box score that really doesn't format well on this blog. Sorry for the disarray, but there is a method to this messiness. And a little meandering is also required.

The box score shown above is noteworthy in my life history as it was the very first Met game I attended on the Saturday plan tickets that I had in Shea Stadium until its closing last season. Ironically, it was a New York Met win over the....ta da....Los Angeles Dodgers and don't think that symmetry has not escaped yours truly. It was a crisp contest, played in less than two and a half hours with barely 20,000 fans in the seats. I've written ad nauseum here and in other published forums of my Saturday plan. But, there is another historic benchmark coming your way.

Saturday, May 30, 2009. The Mets are playing a home afternoon game at Shitty Field vs. the Florida Marlins. Because of the convoluted way that the Mets now construct partial plans, I don't have tickets for this game.

This would be the very first Saturday Met home game that I didn't have tickets to since 1967.

Another tree falls in the Len forest.

Ending of traditions, however symbolic, got me thinking to how some started. My mind first wanders back to the box score puzzle shown above. My companion for that very first Saturday Met game was my very best friend growing up. Leo who "lived up the block." Ironically, it was not the first time we had ever gone to a baseball game together. That would have been the previous season. A Saturday, July 1 Met 6-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. The very first time I went to a baseball game without my father. What two kids our age were doing taking a 90 minute subway ride from Mount Vernon to Flushing is still beyond my level of education. But, there we were---straphanging like pros. Hal Reniff was the winning pitcher in relief and we sat next to some Puerto Rican drunk in the mezzanine. He kept yelling at Lou Brock. Fun times.

Since Leo was a Yankee fan, I was more magnanimous in those days. We did our own personal home-and-home series. Later that month, I went with him to Yankee Stadium. Saturday, July 29. Yankees vs....gasp, the Kansas City Athletics. A 6-2 loss for the Pinstripes. Fritz Peterson was the starting pitcher for the Yankees and he'd go home to a wife who he ultimately traded to another Yankee pitcher several years later. Leo and I sat in the first row of the field level behind first base. A great view, but we eventually found us covered with a swarm of gnats. More fun times.

There would be more games over the years. And last Friday night, 3000 miles away from where we grew up, there was one more.

After an odd day of rain in Los Angeles, the clouds around Chavez Ravine virtually kissed the hills surrounding the stadium. A truly beautiful sight. And a good time was had by all, as it's always phun to phuck the Phillies. A two out rally in the bottom of the ninth upended the World Champions and their now-beleaguered closer Brad Lidge.

Dodgers Win! Randy Newman's anthem is played anew. Fireworks light the sky. And it is baseball as it ought to be. Two friends enjoying it the way they used to be.

Except now there are two welcome additions to the group. Leo's sons, Joseph and Vincent, here adorned with spanking new Dodger caps purchased with a discount from my Dodger Season Ticket membership card. Earlier in the evening, I had jokingly called them "Ricky and Fred." They had no idea who I was talking about. Time really doesn't stand still.

And life itself doesn't stand still either. When Leo asked me during the game who I rooted for when the Mets were recently in town to play the Dodgers, I didn't flinch with an answer.

"The Dodgers."

Games and team allegiences can come and go. Good friends stick around for life.

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

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Last Wednesday for Your TV Antenna

You don't need any hi-tech equipment to read this blog. Just an open...and twisted mind.

---Finally! TV goes digital this weekend and we can finally stop getting these reminders.

---Of course, by Monday, there will be a host of senior citizens across the country who will be wondering where Matlock went.

---If my grandmother was still alive, her TV would not be working on June 13. She never even made the jump to color television.

---She came from the day when it wasn't even called a TV antenna. It was an "aerial."

---Of course, I'm also waiting for the inevitable cries that digital TV discriminates.

---"Shit...what happened to my Good Times reruns?!!!"

---If you're not over 75 and you don't have TV next week, it might be because you're incredibly stupid.

---Speaking of Hi-Def TV, the worst thing to watch on these sets is the NBA Playoffs. Because you are forced to look close-up at all those ugly tattoos those jerks have.

---I love the fact that these tatts all have elaborate messages. Kind of funny when you realize most of the players can barely read.

---If you're having trouble sleeping, may I suggest the Stanley Cup Finals?

---That's hockey. Surely, you've heard of the sport.

---Hockey. H-O-C-K-E-Y.

---Right, the game on the ice.

---The sport that has about 75 fans in this country.

---Forget about it.

---Adam Lambert has revealed that he is gay.

---And, in another surprise announcement, scientists have determined that water is wet.

---New ratings have come out and Katie Couric's Evening News has dropped to the lowest audience levels ever.

---It's a matter of time before there are more people reading this blog than listening to her.

---And we have even discussed colonoscopies here. Take that, Katie!

---And my target audience here is a better mix of demographics. Unlike the Evening News, where most of the ads are for leaky bladders and spastic colons.

---When a person has part of their colon removed, is it then called a semi-colon? Just a thought.

---In my church's coffee hour, the discussion went to the POTUS and FLOTUS' big Saturday night date in NY. There was only one person in the room who had no problem with the tax dollars spend for that evening.

---Yep, the person was Black.

---Yeah, there is no reverse bias in America.

---I'm going to conduct a meeting in my office of all those Blacks who did not vote for Urkel.

---I only have four chairs and that should be more than enough.

---There's a new helicopter traffic pilot on Channel 2 in LA. Amelia Earhart.

---Okay, like I'm supposed to believe that is her real name.

---Like the weather guy on Channel 7. Dallas Raines.

---Maybe I change the name of this blog.

---Dickens Speaks.

---Supreme Court Justice nominee Sotomayor tripped at LaGuardia and fractured her ankle.

---Just so she knows, that's probably happened to some white men as well.

---And just when you think you've heard them all, somebody sends me some new Helen Keller jokes. But I'll adapt them so we can skewer that numbskull Governor of New York, David Paterson.

---Why were Governor Paterson's socks yellow?

---His dog was blind, too.

---What did Governor Paterson do when he fell in the well?

---He screamed his fingers off.

---Why was Governor Paterson such a bad driver?

---She was a woman. Okay, not all of them are adaptable. But, you SEE the point.

LOOK for me tomorrow.

Dinner last night: Penne with sausage and Kalamata olives.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

And The Tony Goes To...

When it comes to giving out awards and filling three hours of prime time, Broadway always gets it right. Each June, the Tony Awards are doled out at Radio City Music Hall and the show is always entertaining. Lots of great production numbers from current and revived shows. Plus the human drama provided by lots of bloated egos---some winners and lots of losers, all of whom having written potential acceptance speeches dedicated to their "life partner."

The sad thing is that the nationwide audience is probably no more than 250 people. And it's a lot less if there happens to be a power outage in West Hollywood. But, nevertheless, you can always count me in. I'm a New Yorker at heart and I can remember what a wonderful experience a good Broadway show can be. Of course, that was eons ago. My last few excursions on the Great White Way have offered up a lot of mediocrity. And, I always seem to wind up next to some tourist from Bumfuk, Iowa, with his hand deep down in a bag of Cheetos. Theater in New York has become nothing more than an extension of crazy Uncle Lou singing "Memories" down at the local VFW hall. It only promises to get worse. I learn during the Tony broadcast that the upcoming revival of "Bye Bye Birdie" will feature John Stamos in the Albert Peterson role originally created by Dick Van Dyke. Are we that far away from Julia-Louis Dreyfuss starring in "The Little Foxes?" Probably not and we move even closer to the creative apocalypse. But, I digress...

Since I had gone to the Sunday night Dodger game telecast on ESPN, I had to tape the Tony Awards. The show started at 8PM, but I began watching on TiVO around 9:25PM. How far behind was I? Not very, once you zap through all the commercials for bladder control and anti-depressants. I realize that the Tonys' target audience must be in the dining hall at some Bronx nursing home. And I was able to fast forward through stuff that is, well, fast forwardable. I watched production numbers from shows I was interested in, such as "Billy Elliot" (which I have seen) and "West Side Story." I zipped through scenes from shows I wouldn't be caught dead at, such as "Hair" and "Next to Normal." So, as a result, the actual telecast and the Len telecast ended at pretty much the same time. When my finger wasn't on the speed button, I managed to make these knee-jerk observations:

---Neil Patrick Harris should be made the lifetime host of the Tonys. He had the absolute perfect tone of reverence and humor. Plus he can sing, has been on Broadway, and is gay. There's probably a church named after him down on Christopher Street.

---Carrie Fisher was a presenter and talked about the toll it takes on a family when the mother is mentally ill. It took me two minutes to figure out she was really referring to the plot of a nominated drama.

---I know it's probably what the original show creators had in mind, but why does West Side Story's Maria always have to look so virginal and Anita always has to look like a whore at the Port Authority Bus Terminal?

---When I saw that Angela Lansbury was nominated, I knew she would win. Broadway doesn't miss opportunities to award longevity. Plus there's always a chance she can fall down on the stage, which I saw her do at the Hollywood Bowl a few years back. But, she is pure class and I have first hand knowledge because I once sat behind her on a cross-country flight and she didn't yell at the flight attendant when they ran out of Balsamic salad dressing.

---Liza Minnelli was up against Will Ferrell for Special Broadway Performance and that is the one time in my life I actually rooted for her. She won, too, despite the fact that her singing now sounds like she has a pretzel stuck in her bridgework.

---The three kids who alternate in the role of Billy Elliot won and it marked the first time more than one person has shared a single acting award. That's because Shirley McLaine has never been nominated for a Tony.

---The number they showed from the winning "Billy Elliot" is the one that I found most uncomfortable. The kid gyrates wildly across the stage and utters piercing cries of pain. It's as if he's being pistol whipped by Phil Spector.

---There's always one asshole who equates the winning of a Tony Award to a cry for world peace. This year, that moron was some chick named Alice Ripley who won an acting honor for some musical about a family with some bi-polarity. "I feel pretty. Oh, no, I don't!!" Anyway, Alice thought her Tony gave her license to scream out some quote from John F. Kennedy. She was so loud and shrill he probably heard it. You won an award. You didn't cure cancer. But, you might have made several people deaf.

---Constantine Maroulis, the most annoying American Idol finalist ever, was up for a Tony??? Read about what I said about the apocalypse and move one inch closer, please.

---The revival of "Hair" looks as dreadful as it did in its original incarnation. The way you cover up a lousy show is by making the actors remove their clothes.

---At one point, Liza was standing next to Shrek and I could see a resemblance.

---Bebe Neuwirth got to do the "In Memorium" bit, which was appropriate since she looked like death warmed over. Only Broadway would have the nerve to honor some talent agents who passed away in the past year. If they tried that during the Oscars, the dead agents would get the biggest hands. And it would not be applause of gratitude. "Woo hoo. Morris L. Scumbag died. It's about time."

---Since I was coming off a weekend of baseball watching, I could swear that one of those Tony factoids said "Jane Fonda is hitting .275 when the count is 0-2."

---How much of it is acting? James Gandolfini still looks like he wants to beat the shit out of somebody.

As they always say at the end of the Tonys, treat yourself. Go see a show. And, if you really want a challenge, try to go see a good one.

Dinner last night: Pork chop with chutney and wild rice at JiRaffe.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Monday Morning Video Laugh - June 8, 2009

Emmy ballots are out and voters need to remember "The Big Bang Theory" and the wonderful Jim Parsons for Lead Actor. Sheer brilliance.

Dinner last night: Louisiana hot sausage at the Dodger game.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Lucha Libre on Channel 47

Here's famed 60s wrestling villain Jerry Graham pulling one of his dirtbag moves on an opponent.

My grandmother was probably yelling at the TV screen.

"Kill that son of a basket!"

She meant "bastard" and it always came out "basket." I never knew why.

Nevertheless, heavyweight wrestling was the preferred spectator sports of my grandparents and they loved to get wrapped up for two hours every Saturday night. These relatively mild-mannered folks would suddenly turn into crazed fans, shouting instructions to their favorite wrestlers grappling on the TV screen. Sometimes in German.

"Watch out, Bruno, he's got something in his trunks."

"Uh oh, goodbye, Bobo."

"Hit him with a chair! Hit with a chair!"

Absorbing all this as a youngster, I loved watching Grandma and Grandpa watching wrestling. And, it was my favorite way to spend a Saturday night. Channel 5, Metromedia in NY, carried two hours worth of matches and the three of us were exhausted by the end. I can remember all the nuances. The arena. The announcer who would interview champ Bruno Sammartino and let him speak for several minutes in Italian. And, for some inexplicable reason, I can recall one of the commercials that always ran during this program. For some liqueur called Cherry Kijafa.

"Joseph, more Cherry Kijafa please!"

I once asked my grandmother what that stuff was. She waved me off.

"Jews drink that."

Duly noted.

Eventually, things changed. My grandfather died and, almost at the same time, Channel 5 stopped running wrestling.

In lots of ways, the world was ending in our house. I felt compelled to spend even more time watching the boob tube with Grandma. But, amid all the shows we enjoyed together, there was no heavyweight wrestling.

And then there was sudden hope. A local station picked up the broadcast and we were in seventh heaven. Wednesday nights at 830PM. The only problem? It was on a UHF channel. In Spanish. Lucha Libre!

"Canal 47...Newark, Paterson, Linden."

Desperate for some matches, we didn't care. Except that, with ultra high frequency television, tuning it in required the assistance of a technician from NASA. That was the strange other dial on your TV that you rarely touched. And, to get Canal 47, you had to be ultra precise. A nano-dial twist one way or the other and you could lose the signal, which was always snowy at best.

The process of tuning in usually started 30 minutes prior to wrestling. My grandmother, sitting on a little stool in front of her pre-remote control era television, working feverishly to get as much static from the screen as possible. Some weeks it was virtually impossible to watch and we'd experience the worst depression since 1929.

One week, I walked through her living room about an hour before wrestling. She was seated comfortably in her chair, listening to a talk show. In Spanish. With some lady in white socks and high heels. Myrta Silva, the Ellen DeGeneres of Puerto Rico. And my grandmother was staring at the screen. I asked the obvious question.

"You don't understand this. It's in Spanish."

Grandma shrugged.

"Yeah, but I got a good picture and I don't want to lose it."

No other wrestling fan has gone to such lengths in order to watch Arnold Skaaland beat up Crazy Lou Albano.

Dinner last night: Sausage and peppers sandwich at Vito's.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Classic TV Commercial of the Month - June 2009

A new Saturday feature, this one spotlighting vintage TV ads. Here's one for Royal Crown Cola. I remember a version that played exclusively on Met games, spotlighting Tom Seaver dancing with "rising young star" Pamela Austin. In lieu of that gem's availability, I bring you Dino, Desi, and Billy.

Dinner last night: Super Dodger Dog at the game.

Friday, June 5, 2009

More From The Land of Awkward

One picture is often worth a thousand idiots.

Do not use the Super Cuts this family visited. The hair is more than teased. It is ridiculed.

Thanks for dressing, asshole. And on a national holiday to boot.

And to think that my grandmother grew rhubarb. Her plants never looked like these idiots.

Is it me or does this guy have the same eerie look that Anthony Perkins sported at the end of "Psycho?" And what is she holding? Looks like one of those creme-filled Drake cupcakes.

The Family 139. Think about it.

Printed exclusively for the delight and amusement of Mr. Anonymous from the Barbara Judith Deluxe Furnished Apartments on Hollywood Boulevard.

Aunt Bessie's last good lei.

Dinner last night: Bacon, onion, and cheese omelette at Cafe 50s Diner.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cue The Vultures

Except for the fawning details of the Obamas' big date night in New York City, there has been nothing more nauseating in the media the past week than the public flogging of Susan Boyle.

You obviously know the details. Here's the poor singing shlump who went on "Britain's Got Talent" and wowed one and all with her talent. The audition video on YouTube got more hits than a buxom hooker during Fleet Week. And the rest was history. I know I got sucked in early on to the song stylings and I was duly impressed. Good for her. A big and deserving break for somebody who probably wouldn't have gotten a sniff from anybody.

But, as soon as Susan Boyle got hot, the media went into overdrive. Because once you are successful, the real "fun" comes in knocking you down. The Day of the Locusts arrives one more time. Let's get a carcass going ASAP because the crows are hungry.

And, as the media starts their demolition derby, the general public are fed the same meal. They also go into the wrecking business because, for a reason no decent person should be able to explain, it has become a great party game to destroy somebody else's reputation. Pain needs to be dispensed like Pez at a kid's birthday party. It is a horrible thing to watch. Yet, we all have to. And then the media gives us some more. And the public eats it up. And then the media gives us some more. The purest form of a vicious cycle.

I sense that lots of folks couldn't wait for Susan Boyle to be upended. Even by simply coming in second in that talent competition, her pain was deemed incomplete by her fellow men. Nope, one news story after another kicked her some more by focusing in on her life, her looks, her everything.

"The unworld spinster..."

"The plain-looking old maid..."

"The dumpy songstress..."

I saw all those descriptions in print and I wonder what kind of satisfaction came from describing her in that way. At the same time, I looked at the same overzealous news stories on the Obamas in NY and I didn't see this.

"The big-eared President and his chocolate-tinted wife..."

How much more different and inappropriate is what I just wrote when compared to how the press described Susan Boyle? A lot, apparently, because certain folks are currently deemed as "off limits" to media scrutiny. So, why can't everybody get the same velvet glove?

What did Susan Boyle do to you or me that warranted such treatment? Allegedly, over the course of the talent competition, she got testy. Threw some water at a studio worker. Had a hissy fit at some photographers. I'd challenge anybody to maintain their own personal dignity and demeanor when suddenly thrust into the spotlight with an unforgiving and watchable media at every turn. I couldn't do it and neither could you and you and, yes, even you.

Susan Boyle wound up in some hospital from exhaustion and that, too, is over-reported. She succumbed to the treatment that was doled out and now that's also her shortcoming. Shame not on her. Shame most certainly on everybody else.

Of course, I can hear some of you now. "Gee, Len, I read your blog and you can really be nasty on some people." You betcha. If you're deliberately in the public eye like a politician or an octomom, your stupidity, arrogance, and pomposity is fair game. You made the choice and lay your sorry self out there for all to lampoon. Susan Boyle did not do that. What is her ultimate sin? She joined a rather public talent competition and did so innocently, simply because she likes to sing. So, her punishment is nowhere matching her crime.

Now, I realize that, early on in this entry, I referred to Susan Boyle as a "shlump." Duly noted. So, Miss Boyle, on behalf of the rest of the world, let me be the very first to apologize.

Dinner last night: Louisiana hot sausage at the Dodger game.