Friday, April 30, 2010

If It's Friday, This Must Be Awkward

More photographic torture. Proof that this is one strange country. Take, for instance, the twisted young miss above. I suppose some guys will find this impressive. Actually, I do. Bravo. Honey, are you on Facebook? We should be friends.

The strange thing is that neither of these kids know this man. When does your local neighborhood predator pose for photos?


To all those women who think they are beautiful when pregnant: you're not. Call me when the kid is out and already teething.


A new movie is opening: Nightmare on Easter Sunday.


I'd love to see what this family looks like five seconds later.


"What do you mean that I have a pre-existing condition?"


And this is a family that probably has hand sanitizers all over the house.


When narcolepsy strikes on your wedding day...


"Whacha mean you want some sugar? I already gave you plenty."

Dinner last night: BLT sandwich at Islands.



Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Best Thing I Ever Ate

There's a compelling Food Network show right now. "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." Under umbrella themes of "barbecue" or "comfort food," famous chefs or foodies talk about, well, the best thing they ever ate. It's totally engaging and frequently drives me right to the refrigerator.

So, I was thinking...

Regular readers to this blog will already know this. How many friggin' times do the words "sausage and peppers" turn up here in the dinner column? A lot. Going back to when I was a kid and my father made it, I love this dish.

And the absolute best place to get sausage and peppers has always been Carlo's Restaurant on Tuckahoe Road in Yonkers.

The place has wood paneling from your 70s basement. The tables all look like the Celtics floor at the Boston Garden. It ain't fancy. But, every single weekend night, the place is packed to the rafters. Good food speaks volumes. I've been going there for decades and I try to hit it every trip that I am back on the East Coast.

Oh, they've got other great stuff on the menu. Lasagna, eggplant parm, ravioli. They sometimes have a 1/2 roasted chicken which is amazing. But, nowadays, it's almost always for me the sausage and peppers. I'm fussy about this entree. The right way to do is with very little gloppy sauce. Simply sausage, peppers (red, green, and yellow), onions, and whole tomatoes that don't reduce down to soup. Not a lot of people got it right. My father did. My writing partner does (after I counseled him). And Carlo's does it impeccably. Here's the latest version that I inhaled just last Saturday night.


It's actually a pretty deep dish. I eat half and take the rest home for the following evening's meal. With a side salad, you cannot go wrong.

So, Food Network, this is, by far, the best thing I ever ate.

Dinner last night: Filet mignon at Palomino.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Take One Wednesday and Call Me in the Morning

You need doctoring. I've got your prescription right here.

---As seen in the picture above, folks in NY and LA have been lining up and camping out for free medical care.

---Yes, gang, it's free.

---One ignoramus on the news talked about how she was going to get everything fixed. Teeth, eyes, feet. Because it's all free.

---Yes, gang, it's free.

---Doesn't cost a thing until you and I get our next tax bills.

---No, gang, it's not free.

---Please be my guest. Get those feet scraped. Get your ears cleaned out of all that nasty wax. And get those eyes checked so, like this fashion nightmare above, you can spend all your free time doing crossword puzzles.

---I'm always amused that some people have no trouble lining up at 430AM for something free, yet they can't get to work at 9AM.

---The lines swelled because the folks already there were spreading the word. On their Black Berrys.

---Because when you are poor and needy, there are those essentials of life. Milk, bread, shoes for your children,...

---and, of course, Wi-Fi.

---Or whatever is the latest technology. No deprived home should be without the newest product on sale at Best Buy.

---Like that picture that circulated a while back. Remember? Michelle Obummer working a homeless soup kitchen and smiling for a cell phone photo.

---How wrong is this? And they're getting mushroom risotto??? What happened to plain broth?

---Meanwhile, there's a food code violation here. Why aren't her phony hair extensions in a snood?

---Trust me, folks, the only really free thing in this world is my blog.

---Even with the latest subscription price increase, it's still free.

---I love the state of Arizona. Where it is now illegal to be an illegal immigrant.

---Have you heard anything more stupid in your life?

---Well, I guess that means there are some states where it is legal to be a legal immigrant.

---Where are those states? Can we find them on Google Maps? And is there room for me??

---Arizona is simply trying to do what the Federal Government has failed to do. Protect the borders.

---Speaking of which, here's a creepy scene from my cabride home from LAX. Mr. Middle Eastern had easy listening music on the radio, but it all had the Arabian flair.

---Weird to hear the Love Theme from Titanic" played as if the boat was sinking in the Suez Canal.

---Like being in an office building elevator in Baghdad.

---All of it probably encoded to send messages to their operatives in this country.

---More stupidity coming your way: A couple of asshole senators, headed by New York's Schmuck Schumer and Al "I Was Always Coked Up on SNL" Franklin, have sent a letter to Facebook. They're complaining that people will have their personal information exposed on the website.

---Hello??? Morons? Anybody there??? What do you expect when you have a social network like this?

---Folks are on there all day. And they post information by personal choice. If you're dumb enough to put your credit card number on Facebook, you deserve to come home to a bank account that has been cleaned out.

---Hey, if I didn't want you to know what I had for dinner last night, I wouldn't post it here.

---On a free blog.

---Circling back on a Len Speaks review from last week: "Promises, Promises" opened with mixed to bad reviews from the critics.

---I liked it. That's all you need to know. In a write-up that was available to you here...

---...free.

Dinner last night: Proscuitto and provolone sandwich from Food.









Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Nickeled and Dimed


And quartered. Literally and figuratively.

I've noticed a disturbing trend here in Los Angeles over the past several months. You might have seen the same where you live. As our favorite municipalities struggle to right themselves during these dire economic times, we are now being hit in so many secretive ways. Little increases here and there all designed to shave a few more dollars from your pocket and mine.

Take, for instance, the parking meter of 2010.

It used to be so simple to park your car on a street. You could easily time your visit into the dry cleaners or the drugstore. Drop in a few coins and be done with it.

No more.

First of all, take a close look at the street signs that annotate the local parking restrictions. It used to be that parking meter rules were in effect until 6PM. After that bewitching hour, street parking was usually free and clear of coinage.

No more.

Take a look around you. In Los Angeles, signs have been changed. In some places, the rules are now in effect until 8PM. A few areas are "meter-able" until 10PM. One section of West LA has the hopeless audacity of imposing a 24-hour clock to the meters. So, is there a meter maid driving around at 3AM to ticket you? You would think not. I am guessing that they have entrusted some poor slob to do just that. One of those "shovel ready" jobs created to boost our economy. Now the schlubs like us are getting drilled in two ways. For the privilege of parking after 6PM. And for the honor of paying through added taxes for the wages of the normally shiftless moron who can't get a job anyplace else.

Keep in mind that the number of coins you have to slip into a meter has increased as well. In a very clandestine way, areas of Los Angeles have changed the parking rates. I found this out last week when I parked for a quick run into CVS Pharmacy. Now, unless there are a bunch of old people or Third World'ers clogging the cashier line, I can usually do my business there in about ten or fifteen minutes. In the past, two dimes got me 24 minutes. Plenty of time and even some grace if there's a numbskull ahead of you trying to pay for their Tums with pennies. But, the other day, I popped in the requisite two dimes into the slot and the time meter didn't change. I was still on zero minutes. Had I accidentally inserted Canadian coins? I threw in another dime. Still no minutes. It wasn't until I got to Dime Number 5 that the time changed to 15 minutes. So, what was 20 cents for 24 minutes was now 50 cents for 15 minutes. I looked closely at the meter's fine print which nobody ever reads. Yep, they had changed the rates.

I guess I was lucky to find a coin meter at all. Because lots of streets now feature that wonderful new invention. The pay station. Which makes the simple act of parking your car and turns it into a game show stunt. You park. Find the number of the space which is usually poorly stenciled on the curb. Some times, you can find it. Other times, it's obscured by garbage, leaves, a puddle, or some dog shit. Armed with the digits you now need to commit to memory, you start to move your head around like a lighthouse. To the left. To the right. To the left again. To the right again. Just where the hell is that paystation? Oh, look, it's over there. On the next block!

If you're lucky, you still remember the digits when you actually arrive at your pay station. Was that space # 123 or # 128? Okay, I better go back and look again. All of a sudden, you have to carve out two hours of your day to simply drop off your clothes at the tailor.

Then, of course, there was the drama I endured a few months back and previously mentioned in this blog. I had parked my car and inserted a quarter in the meter. But, I noticed that my car was ever so slightly sticking over into a red zone so I hopped back in to move it a few inches. As I walked away from the vehicle, I was met by a parking meter attendant. Mizz Fat N' Black. With an attitude.

"You need to put some change in that meter, sir?"

Huh? I explained that I had already done this and was simply adjusting the car.

"Well, it's the law that you have to put a coin into a meter, sir."

But, what if there was already time on the meter from the previous driver, I asked Mizz Fat N' Black.

"Don't make no difference."

HUH???? She pulled out some card in her wallet that stipulated just that. Was this a new city ordinance? Or simply something you had printed up yourself at Staples? She cocked her head twice.

"It's the law, sir." She proceeded to sashay down the block. Or as best as her XXXL hips could manage the motion. Probably overdue for her Happy Meal at McDonald's. It made no sense. None of it does. But, at least, I can feel heartened by where all this extra money is going.

For a bushel of Supersized Fries.

Dinner last night: Meatloaf back in LA.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Morning Video Laugh - April 26, 2010

Another classic being rerun by popular demand.


Dinner last night: What else? Leftover sausage and peppers from Carlo's.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Sunday Memory Drawer - My First Summer with the Mets

From the title of this week's entry, you're probably thinking it was guest-written by Tom Seaver. Sorry. This blog continues to be all about me.

Travel back with me again to where we left off last Sunday.

I was basking in the afterglow of my first days in love with the New York Mets.

Despite my father who probably was hoping I would follow in his footsteps and pinstripes with the New York Yankees.

Those first months in Metdom were all consuming. I devoured anything and everything about the team. I figured that, to be a true Met fan, I first needed to memorize all the uniform numbers. Done.

I tried to commit to memory their batting averages. Done. But, wait. I soon discovered that the numbers changed every day. Oops. Well, a new baseball fan was bound to make a mistake or two.

I even tried to impress my dad with my baseball knowledge.

"Mickey Mantle wears number 7," I announced to him with pride.

Dad was starting to smart a little less about my baseball devotion. It wasn't long before he made the ultimate parental sacrifice.

He started to pay attention to the Mets. I guess that he figured if his son was this rabid, he might as well get involved as well. And, in short order, he got sucked in as badly as I did. I don't remember if there was a formal ceremony, but my father became a Met fan. He joined me on weekends in front of the TV. Games immediately popped on the radio as soon as we got into the car.

On a very hot Father's Day, my family made their usual holiday visitation to see all the dead relatives at Ferncliff Cemetery. Alongside the street where "Uncle Fritz" was buried, everybody hopped out of our car to do the necessary grave trimming. Grandma bounded out with hedgeclippers in hand. But my dad and I sat in the car, glued to the Met game on the radio. This was no ordinary contest. My father explained.

"This is history happening. The guy has a perfect game in the ninth inning."

I was a baseball fan, but I still didn't the complete significance.

"But the Mets are losing."

Minutes later, we listened to Phillies pitcher Jim Bunning strike out Met John Stephenson for the final out in this masterpiece. I didn't understand why this was such a big deal, but Dad did. That was good enough for me. Outside, Grandma continued to pull weeds out of "Uncle Fritz" and called out to my grandfather for assistance.

"Pop, get the shears!"

With summer upon us, my lobbying began in earnest. Since Dad was now on board with the Shea Faithful, it was time to complete the circle.

I wanted to go to a game at my other church. Shea Stadium.

For one of the only times in our lives together, Dad didn't use his usual response to our going any place.

"It's too far."

"There's too much traffic."

"It's too hot/too cold."

I guess he really wanted to go, too. None of those old standards seemingly applied. And he had a direct connection to some nifty seats. The guy he carpooled to work with had a wife who worked for Rambler, then the "Official Car of the New York Mets." Her dealership had a season box right behind the visiting dugout. She got four seats for a July Friday night. Her husband and her son. My father and his son.

Me.

I counted the days, the hours, the minutes, and the seconds. I started to plan out the Met rotation to see who would be pitching on this hallowed night. It would be Jack Fisher, wearing my favorite baseball number to this day. #22. This date would cement the love affair for all time. The Mets. Me. Together in the same place. I could reach out and touch them. Well, sort of.

This would be the best day of my life.

I could barely sleep the night before. Full of awe and wonder?

Nope, it was the rain pelting my bedroom window.

How could this be happening? God, why have you foresaken me? I mean, I went to Sunday School every week. I said my prayers every night. Rain??? Doesn't everybody in the universe know that I'm supposed to go to Shea Stadium tonight? And I dreaded the inevitable. This was totally playing into my father's back-up excuse for the usual trilogy of reasons why not to do something.

"It's too wet."

Uh oh.

My father had already taken the night off from work. His friend still wanted to go. The game was still on. Downpour or no downpour, we popped into the car around 6PM for the trip to Flushing.

I can still remember traversing the Bronx Whitestone Bridge with the sparkling lights of Shea piercing the raindrops on our windshield. This is where I was going. I had a ticket. Nothing could stop me now.

Thunderclap.

Lightning bolt.

Perhaps my first utterance of a curse word.

"Shit."

Not audible enough to be slapped across the kisser.

When we arrived at the blue and orange aluminum paneled palace, the grounds were a soggy mess. One puddle after another. We huddled under an umbrella. The game would be delayed but only a little. I stared with amazement at everything I saw as I entered Shea for the first time.

"Scorecard, scorecard here."

I wanted one. I would learn how to score that summer.

The souvenir stands. The amalgamated smell of hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn, and spilled beer. Like no other aroma. The escalators that raise up to the heavens. Well, in my case, the field level behind the third base dugout.

Billy Crystal has made a career talking about his first visual memory of Yankee Stadium. Walking up the ramp of darkness and suddenly emerging in the sun-kissed stands and the field with the brightness shade of green that God ever created.

Unfortunately, it was a little different for me that evening at Shea. Coming out of the tunnel onto the field level stands, I saw more darkness. And rain. And a soaked canvas covering the playing area. Indeed, having seen the Mets in nothing but Zenith black and white hues, the colors at that moment were almost the same. Muted, dull, and unimpressive.

It would grow on me in a matter of minutes.

Looming up in front of me was the gigantic scoreboard, which is spotlighted in the original artist rendering that tops today's entry. To me, at my tender age, it was nothing short of magical. Colors danced around the white backdrop. It had baseball scores from all around the country. I looked at the Met lineup and immediately recited to all who would listen those players we would be privileged to see that night.

"Number 10, second base, Rod Kanehl. Number 42, centerfield, Larry Elliot. Number 23, right field, Joe Christopher. Number 2, in left field, George Altman. Number 25, at first base, Frank Thomas. Number 12, catching, Jesse Gonder. Number 1, at third base, Charlie Smith. Number 11, playing shortstop, Roy McMillan. Number 22, and pitching, Jack Fisher."

With a less squeaky and even less juvenile voice, I could have replaced the public address announcer.

Around the third inning, little obnoxious Me decided to use my proximity to the Milwaukee Braves dugout and give them a child's version of Hell. No epithets. Just some good natured booing. At one point, their third base coach, Jo Jo White, was amused by me. As he headed back to the dugout, he stuck his hand in his pocket. And pulled out a handful of Bazooka Bubble Gum pieces. He tossed them into a rain puddle on the dugout roof. I grabbed them quickly.

The comic strips were soaked and not legible. The gum, however, was delicious. And I suddenly didn't hate the Milwaukee Braves so much.

Truth be told, other than the sense of shock and awe, I remember little about the game itself. Retrosheet tells me the Mets lost, 8-5, in front of a crowd that numbered 20,646.

As far as I was concerned, it was me, my dad, and 20,644 other people.

This game was my first. It would not be my last.

To be continued.

Dinner last night: Sausage and peppers, of course, at Carlo's.




Saturday, April 24, 2010

Classic Movie Trailer of the Month - April 2010

I recently saw this on a big screen with an audience. And it's really the only way to appreciate it.


Dinner last night: Sausage pizza at Lunada in White Plains.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Promises, Promises

Here's your intrepid Broadway critic, doing an early morning review after seeing a new show last evening. Screw you, Frank Rich. Your job's not that hard.

Readers here will know that I am a sucker for the wonderful concoction of sausage and peppers. I ate some just the other night. Pure comfort food. And, when it comes to musical comedy, there is no better blend for me than the story of my all time favorite movie, "The Apartment," and the musical stylings of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, my all time favorite songwriters. Comfort food for the ears. The warmest, softest Q-Tip ever.

So, obviously "Promises, Promises" is one of my favorite Broadway musicals. It originally opened over 40 years and doesn't get revived often. I saw a showcase version of it with Jason Alexander in Los Angeles about thirteen years. When they recently announced this current Broadway revival a few months back, it was catnip for this kitty. And how soon could I buy tickets, please?

I ventured in with great trepidation, though. I was worried about the casting. Sean Hayes in the lead? Wow, he had spent years being underdirected by the much overrated James Burrows on "Will & Grace" and came up with one of the most annoying characters in television history. Hmmmmm.

Then, I hear Kristin Chenoweth as the female lead. Uh oh! Miscast Police, please report to my office immediately. The chick's got a great voice when singing, but sounds like your last helium balloon intake when she speaks. None of this bodes well.

I was wrong. Dead wrong.

It works. It works very well. When you have a great story and the super lush songs penned by Bacharach and David, you really can't mess up too much. But, surprisingly and amazingly, Hayes and Chenoweth pull it off better than even I expected. For the 95% of the audience who never saw the original, this will be an astounding evening of entertainment, which pales only slightly to the first production. My suggestion is you should not see it with anybody who yearns to do the comparison. I did and found myself defending the new cast all night.

Still set in 1962 because that's where this tale truly belongs, "Promises, Promises" should get a 2010 boost because "Mad Men" is in vogue. Stylistically, they got the era spot on. And, despite the age of some of the music, most of it sounds like it was written last week. I don't know what Bacharach and David have done lately, but who cares? What they did forty years ago is still eons better than the crap we hear today.

Sean Hayes works in a little of his Jack shtick but it never dominates the proceedings. Sean, see how good you can be when you actually have a director who gives a shit? His singing voice caught me pleasantly off guard. Who knew? Okay, he's nothing like the original portrayer of the role, Jerry Orbach, as my evening companion loudly announced at one point during the second act. My Lord, who the hell did I go to the theater with tonight? I broke the news to her that Jerry Orbach's dead and no longer available to do both evening and matinee performances. Get over it. Let's move on. Sean Hayes is a fine fit and let's both clap for him in unison.

Kristen Chenoweth took a little longer to get used to. Shirley McLaine's performance in the movie is so memorable that it becomes even harder to put aside when you see anybody else as Fran Kubelik. But, in her big emotional Act II scene, Kristen wins you over with some very understated acting choices. Indeed, Hayes and Chenoweth's musical numbers together work the best. Their voices blend nicely. Here I go again. Who knew?

Probably in an effort to get Chenoweth to actually play the part, the producers added two additional numbers from the Bacharach-David songbook in order to give her a few more "big belt" moments. When she sings and dances to "I Say A Little Prayer," you are reminded why it worked so well in Julia Roberts' "My Best Friend's Wedding." And why it succeeds here not so much. Actually, not at all. They also stick in "A House is Not a Home," which works a little better, but still feels like a home extension that doesn't carry on the architectural design of the rest of the house. Early American furniture in a Chinese Modern house. Ultimately, both tune insertions get in the way like some old lady scrounging for coins in her purse on the express line at the supermarket.

Going back to the movie "Ghost," Tony Goldwyn is making a cottage industry of playing rat bastards and he adds one more creep to his resume as the philandering Mr. Sheldrake. Here's another person who surprisingly made the most of his musical pipes in his two numbers. Here I go again. Who knew??? Not me.

The first half of the second act is stolen completely by Kate Finneran who scores mightily in the small role of Margie McDougall. There's a Tony Nomination and possible Award in her immediate future. One of those roles that is written so well that even the worst actress in the world can't screw it up. Luckily, Katherine Heigl was unavailable and Finneran was.

At the heart, though, is the music. It shines as brightly as ever. It wafts over the crowd and pulls you in by your lapels. You submit to it without putting up a fight. And, truly, it is the primary reason for the cult following that "Promises, Promises" has long had.

There were a few of these geeks around us. One old gay guy from San Francisco was sitting in front of us. This was his favorite musical, although, in conversation, he also mentioned that he loved "Young Frankenstein" as well. That moved his opinion to the "suspect" column within two seconds. But, the older lady next to us was also there to revel one more time in her most beloved musical of all time. She left with a huge smile on her face.

So did I. So did we all.

"Promises, Promises" opens this Sunday night and I hope the real reviews are as good as ours. But, then again, who do you think you should listen to? Them or me?

Ah, you said "me." I have trained you well, haven't I?

Dinner last night: Muffalatta sandwich at the Playwright Tavern.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Homeland Security Gift Shop

As much as I fly coast to coast, I should have known better yesterday when I went through LAX security on my way to New York. The day before, I had bought an extra large tube of hand cream and haphazardly tossed it into a pocket in my carry-on bag. I didn't give it a second thought.

As I prepared for my x-ray, I did my normal ritual. Sneakers off. Laptop out into a separate tray. DVD player out into a separate tray. I was a robot. Until my usual sequence was disrupted.

By Miz Thang of Homeland Security.

"Sir, we gonna have to inpsect your bag."

Huh?

Her Majesty donned her little white plastic gloves and began to go through my business. The offending item was found in short order. She triumphantly held up the hand cream.

"This is not allowed, sir."

I know, I know. Brain blip. Trust me when I tell you that I wasn't planning to moisturize a pilot to submission.

"Do you all want to take this down and put it in your checked luggage?"

You're kidding, right? Am I supposed to chase down a conveyor belt so I can pack this in my suitcase? I began to wonder if there are people who actually do this. I told her not to sweat it. She walked away with my newly purchased, barely squeezed hand cream.

I started to think about all the items confiscated from people who experience similar mind freezes. Where does it all go? I looked at all the Homeland Security staff around me. Most are one rung above French Fry salters at McDonald's. Are they the ultimate recipients of our mistakes? Do all these toiletries wind up in one big airport conference room? I imagined the lunchtime conversation between some of these security people.

"I'm outta toothpaste. Let me go down to "the store" and see if anybody had to give up their Colgate."

"I got myself some new Aramis for my man last week."

"Don't use that Sebastian shampoo shit. It don't work on our hair."

As I laced up my sneakers, I glanced over at Miz Thang one more time. She had already cracked my hand cream and was rubbing it all over the ashy spots on her arm.

Geez, she didn't even give her co-workers a chance.

Dinner last night: Sausage and peppers at the NY abode.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Just Another Wednesday in Eyjafjallajokull

Say it again, everybody. Eyjafjallajokull.

---Again.

---Eyjafjallajokull.

---And that's Icelandic for "boy, those airline fares are going to go up."

---I'm looking at that picture again. And I thought my mother smoked a lot?

---I don't think she grounded any flights during her lifetime. Although she did ground me repeatedly.

---How many Democrats have blamed this on George Bush?

---Like he and Laura were down on their Texas ranch doing a pagan volcano dance?

---With all that fire and smoke, Al Gore's mansion still generates more energy.

---So, all this shit in the air turns into that glass-like substance called silica.

---And now I'm wondering who is in charge of taking that silica and putting it in those little cloth packets we find when we open up new small appliances.

---Right now, European tourists can't fly here. And, as far as I'm concerned, that's a good thing.

---Since this is an act of God, your travel insurance is no good here.

---Just like Van Heflin when he blew up the plane in "Airport."

---This smoky crap prevented Obummer from leaving the country to go to that dead Polish President's funeral. And, as far as I'm concerned, that's a bad thing.

---Obummer leaving the country, I mean. I really have no opinion one way or the other on the Polish President.

---That gave POTUS time to come out to LA and attend a fund raising dinner for Barbara "I Look Like A" Boxer.

---Meal for two? $35,000.

---Without tax and tip. And you didn't get to pick from the dessert cart.

---When a candidate hears that Obama is going to campaign for you, isn't the first thing you hear "oh, God, please, no!"

---Meanwhile, how stupid do you feel right now if you're Jewish and you voted for Obummer?

---And, how stupid do you feel right now if you're gay and you voted for Obummer?

---One more time. How stupid do you feel if you work for Goldman Sachs and contributed lots of money to get Obummer elected?

---Pretty stupid, I guess.

---And pretty stupid, I guess.

---And, one more time...pretty stupid, I guess. But, then again, you folks at Goldman Sachs are crooks, too.

---A funny stat about people who attend "tea parties?" Almost a quarter of them voted for Obummer.

---Yeah, a racist would have pulled the lever for him, right?

---Just thinking out loud: Sandra Bullock and Larry King? Both available.

---She could do a lot worse. On second thought, no, she couldn't.

---What gets bounced more? Larry King out of his marriages or checks that he himself writes?

---So, let me get this right. Something that surprises Roger Ebert will no longer make his jaw drop?

And one last time! Eyjafjallajokull!!!!

Dinner last night: Turkey, bacon, and swiss on pumpernickel from Clementine's.

And tomorrow from the other side...of the country, that is.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Sights and Sounds - The Eagles at the Hollywood Bowl

There is something a little unsettling going to the Hollywood Bowl in April. Usually, I don't make my first foray into stacked parking and the trek up the long hill until the Fourth of July Spectacular. But, thanks to a wonderful Christmas gift, I got to start the summer early last Saturday night with the Eagles concert.

If I thought the early date was offputting, I wasn't prepared for the audience, which was clearly from a parallel universe I do not want to visit again. While I felt one step off, the folks around me were behind by several decades.

Okay, the Eagles are to Southern California what the Beatles are to the rest of the universe. Given their West Coast roots, they are truly a hometown band. And the audience, many of which were in their 50s and 60s, were there to journey back in time for one more look at the seventies. From what I could see, that might have been the last time some of them had been out of the house. Or even without a bag of Funyons on the couch in front of the 19 inch television set.

I could see the difference as soon as I pulled into the parking lot. Usually, parking instructions are not hard to follow. Apparently, they were for most of this audience. I watched folks park willy nilly. One dope ignored the parking attendant and decided to make his own lanes. Another drove hopelessly around in a circle. I would have said he was getting dizzy, but I think he left the house that way.

Yes, this was not the champagne tasting crowd that normally frequents the Hollywood Bowl. This was the wine and Cheetos set. Lots and lots and lots of wine. The stuff from the bottom shelf of the super market. I was expecting to see bottles of Lancers or Mateus strewn across the picnic area. From what I could see, motorcycle clubs all over Southern California had closed for the weekend.

This was Woodstock for the arthritic. But, instead of the expected vile smell offered up by the Wacky Weed of Woe, the aroma that completely enveloped the Bowl was one of nicotine. Lots and lots and lots of nicotine. This was now the Hollywood Ashtray. If I ultimately die from lung cancer, I will assume the tumor began to form last weekend.

The pre-show parade of slobs was astounding. If you needed to get hold of a 70s burnout, this should have been the first place to look. Folks for whom Old Navy is high-end clothing apparel. And, naturally, I attracted them like a refrigerator magnet.

Take, for instance, the two dumbbells down the end of my row. He was fairly nondescript. But, the missus? Yeeech! Everytime she bent over to get a Slim Jim from her picnic basket, her clothing retreated in opposite directions. The blouse went up. The pants went down. And I got a front row view of her purple thong. Given she was about 275 pounds, I didn't think they made them in those sizes. My friend said the woman was obviously very comfortable with her body. Good for her. I sure as hell wasn't.

My slippery slope continued with the arrival of the two assholes who would sit directly next to me. A married couple that had dusted off their EST manual for the evening. They did what they wanted to do. They talked what they wanted to talk about. And didn't give a rat's ass who they were annoying in the process.

I knew this was trouble when the guy, clearly in his 50s, arrived wearing a T-shirt from a motorcycle shop in Redwood City, California. Never a good sign. His wife/woman kept throwing her arms around her husband/man. Everytime she did so, I got punched in the shoulder. If I wanted to be the victim of spousal abuse, there are countless people I would have married years ago. Within ten minutes, I was looking to see if the Bowl Gift Shop sold temporary restraining orders.

Meanwhile, these two chuckleheads decided to use the evening as a means to catch up on the last two decades. As soon as the show started, they began to chat. And chat. And chat. They would have stood out more for the incessant conversation, except I noticed most of the crowd was doing the same. As I surveyed the rows around me, I was looking at years of undiagnosed attention deficit disorders.

Of course, at the beginning of the second act, the Dynamic Duo unfortunately returned from wherever they had urinated during intermission. Now it was time to eat. And they had apparently cleaned out their refrigerator for the first time since 1979. Everything they pulled out of their cooler smelled like a science project conducted with sulphur. I guess somebody had told them to "eat shit," because that's precisely what they were doing.

Trust me, when I could concentrate, the musical portion of the evening was pitch perfect. These were the real Eagles, unlike several years ago when the Bowl pulled four clowns off a Compton street corner to "be" the Spinners. Yep, we got the authentic musicians. Glenn Frey, Don Henley, and Joe Walsh are a bit older and more grizzled, but still craftsmen when it comes to their tunes.

And Frey has a future as a stand-up comic. He announced that this was the Eagles' "Assisted Living Tour." He dedicated one song to his first wife, whom he now refers to as "Plaintiff." And, when he was discussing his hometown of Detroit, he remarked that this is a place where "mother" is only one half of a word.

At the same time, the Eagles used rear back projection to the max. There was always something interesting being shown behind them. Sometimes, it was the usual cacophony of colors designed to enhance your marijuana intake. But, mostly, it was scenery or old videos that simply added to the overall retro experience. You got to see the band in their younger, vodka-hazed days.

Well, you readers are the lucky ones. I'm including two numbers from the show for you to enjoy. And you can listen without enduring sloppy drunks, second-hand smoke, and rancid Brie cheese. Yep, I took the hit for you.

And I don't mean on a joint.


video


video

Dinner last night: Salisbury steak at the Cheesecake Factory.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Morning Video Laugh - April 19, 2010

The marvelous Tony Randall. When you a-s-s-u-m-e,.....


Dinner last night: Roast beef sandwich.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Sunday Memory Drawer - How I Met the Mets

You see how clever that title is? Sometimes, I even impress myself. Anyway, here we go with a series of baseball-related memory drawers.

My journey with the Mets began when the now-demolished Shea Stadium opened. Truth be told, I had already attended a Met game the previous season while they were still at the Polo Grounds. I was part of a kiddie day camp and this was one of our field trips. We sat in the bleachers about five miles from home plate and, given I was still a baseball novice, I had no clue what was happening. And it would only have been slightly better if I could actually see the field. Since this was a day camp, we left by the fifth inning to board some yellow school bus.

But, thanks to Retrosheet.com, I have only recently discovered that my best friend from high school, ultimately my Shea Stadium seat mate for many years, was at the very same game. So, technically, it was our first Met game together. Separately. With one of us completely oblivious to the game.

My very, very, very first baseball game had taken place one month earlier. At Yankee Stadium. My father's cousin owned an oil burner company that had a season box. Since I had been home from school for about a week with an ear infection, I was not the ideal participant in this fun. But, my father, who had been a lifelong Yankee fan, wasn't going to miss this opportunity to introduce his son to baseball. Cotton balls were thrown in my ears and a Yankee hat was plopped onto my head. I was good to go. Retrosheet reminds me that Mickey Mantle hit a homerun that afternoon. I could have cared less. I was too busy making myself a nuisance by yelling into that Yankee megaphone which had been my popcorn holder.

For me, baseball was still something that pre-empted my late afternoon cartoons on WPIX Channel 11. What caused me to become a fan?

I got the German measles.

Cooped up again in the house for a week the following May, I was bored out of my mind. Having watched all the sitcom reruns I could in the morning, I sat in front of the TV set and turned the channel knob. Yes, folks, no remote control. I surveyed what was available on the six or seven channels. Yes, folks, only six or seven channels. I stumbled upon a New York Met day game being telecast from spanking new Shea Stadium. Hmmm. If nothing else, this would tide me over until the Popeye Show with Captain Jack McCarthy.

Staring at the black and white screen and listening to this guy named Lindsey Nelson, I started to pay attention to the action. I remember immediately being engaged when the Mets got two runs in the bottom of the first inning when somebody hit a homerun. Retrosheet tells me that it was Tim Harkness.

Gee, I'd only been following this sport for ten minutes and already my team was winning. How cool was that?

Ultimately, on that day, the Mets won 3-2 over the Cincinnati Reds. I had hung in for all nine innings. By myself. And I started to understand what was going on. That afternoon, the Popeye cartoons were even sweeter. I had myself a baseball team. I couldn't wait to tell my father.

Yankee fan Dad was nonplussed.

"You want to root for the Mets?? You know they stink."

Huh? They had just won.

"They're the worst team in baseball."

Huh? I liked them.

"Don't you want to go to another Yankee game?"

Huh?

Er, no, Dad, I don't. I'm a Met fan.

And so it began...

To be continued.

Dinner last night: Hollywood Bowl Hot Dog.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Classic TV Theme of the Month - April 2010

Who in the world doesn't like this one????


Dinner last night: The Friday night pre-game tradition begins again --- Ham French Dip at Phillippe's.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Your Weekend Movie Guide for April 2010

Here's a terrific vintage photo of Westwood's Fox Village Theater, which is a glorious movie palace. Recently, it almost closed, but a new owner will keep its doors open. The place is close to my house and I should visit it more often. The only problem is that it usually plays whatever is the latest blockbuster action flick that appeals only to the brainless.

Moving on, here's my monthly public service to you. I'll flip through the Los Angeles Times movie section and provide you with my kneejerk reactions to all the celluloid crap out there. Enjoy. As for me, I'll be spending the weekend at Dodger Stadium and the Hollywood Bowl for an Eagles concert.

Date Night: I think you have to be a big fan of Steve Carell and Tina Fey to enjoy this mess. I am not. I will be dateless at home.

Clash of the Titans: A needless remake that was a terrible movie the first time around. This is another one in 3-D, which means you can be thoroughly bored and get a splitting headache at the same time.

Alice in Wonderland: I saw it in 3-D and the splitting headache just went away. The movie held my interest only slightly better than my bladder held the extra large Diet Pepsi.

The Greatest: Ever want to know what "Ordinary People" would be like if it had been written by a third grade class? If so, this crud's for you. Pierce Brosnan has this climactic crying scene and I wonder if the acting motivation for his tears was the director showing him a picture of his fat wife in a bathing suit.

City Island: If the characters in this dysfunctional family comedy don't make a visit to the Black Whale ice cream parlor, then this is not an authentic movie.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Discussed this in the March movie guide. I hate body art. I think it's gross and does longterm damage to your skin. And I will announce that every single month that this movie remains in circulation.

Green Zone: I'll follow the conservation theme and save my money.

Why Did I Get Married, Too?: If Larry King was in this, would the title be "Why Did I Get Married, Eight?"

A Prophet: Supposedly a decent foreign film, but I'm kind of burnt out seeing stuff about how folks from the Mideast are so oppressed. Hopefully, the title character will be able to predict that I won't be in the audience.

Kick-Ass: You're kidding, right? No, seriously. You're joking? Really?

Death at a Funeral: Chris Rock is in this ensemble comedy and I generally like his work. Besides, the trailer looked damn funny and politically incorrect. That's a surefire way to get into my wallet.

The Perfect Game: Based on a true story. How Mexico won the Little League World Series. With no players under the age of 20.

Dancing Across Borders: A documentary about a Cambodian ballet dancer trying to make it in the US. That's a surefire way to get me into a coma.

Handsome Harry: An ex-Navy guy tries to solve a longstanding crime. Steve Buscemi co-stars and thank goodness nobody's cast him in a 3-D movie yet.

The Cartel: A documentary about how the educational system in America is not turning out any smart kids. You need a movie to tell people that our country is stupid? I do it in this blog every single Wednesday. And I don't charge you ten bucks for admission. Yet.

Who Do You Love?: A look at the founders of Chess Records. Sorry, no Larry King joke available at this time.

Exit Through the Gift Shop: A documentary about this graffiti artist in Britain. I'd question why our society continually glorifies vandalism, but then again, have you noticed what's going on in Washington these days?

Hot Tub Time Machine: I know, I know, I know. You saw it because I gave it a good review in this blog and you hated it. I never said this was a perfect venue. You get what you pay for. And, as noted above, I don't charge you ten bucks for admission.

Greenberg: Ben Stiller in the title role. Er, you were expecting Roberto Benigni?

How To Train Your Dragon: To do what specifically? Because, in my world, a dragon can do anything he damn well pleases.

The Bounty Hunter: It's a Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy. Run, run. As fast as you can. Run! Before it kills again!!

The Joneses: Demi Moore and David Duchovny in some cynical comedy about suburbia. They think they're cynical? They should have tried growing up in Mount Vernon.

Women Without Men: It's usually because they can't stop yapping.

The Last Cyrus: A Miley Cyrus tearjerker. Many of us are in tears wondering how this got made in the first place.

Letters to God: Waiting for the atheist's sequel. "Address Unknown."

Dinner last night: German cold cuts and salad.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My Sights and Sounds - Dodgers 2010 Home Opener

Join me in my spanking new loge seats at Dodger Stadium for the home opener. Enjoy the pre-game festivities and the seventh inning stretch. Sorry for the jerky camera motions. I realize this is not the Blair Witch Project.


video

video

Dinner last night: Veal saltimbocca at La Dolce Vita.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wednesday Is The One Day To Have When You're Having More Than One

Today's rant is sponsored by Schaefer, the official beer of my parents.

---And, yes, they frequently had more than one.

---This has nothing to do with anything today, but you try and come up with a clever title every friggin' Wednesday.

---But, luckily, there's always plenty to bitch about.

---For instance, Obummer.

---Does he just like to bow a lot or is this a bad back in need of some Doan's Pills?

---He bowed to the Chinese President and does POTUS realize that his own daughters would have been "dispensed with" if China had its way?

---Let's face it. Not everybody in that godforsaken hellhole is practicing Zen Buddhism and writing clever things into fortune cookies.

---Most are pigs.

---Who don't cover their mouths when they sneeze. Anybody who flies on American Airlines can back me up.

---President Knucklehead's bizarro stance on nuclear weapons has essentially made our country go from the New York Yankees to the Kansas City Royals overnight.

---At the same time, FLOTUS paid a visit to Haiti. Unfortunately, it's a round trip ticket.

---Meanwhile, I overheard a captivating conversation on line for soda at the Aero Theater on Saturday night.

---Two 25-year-olds were discussing politics. One says to the other.

---"All these people who to tea parties are just mad that there's a Black guy in the White House."

---Oh, really?

---I wanted to turn around to this moron and say...

---"Gee, you must have very strong neck muscles."

---"They've have to be after carrying around all day that head loaded full of shit."

---Pick up a history book, you dumbbells. The original tea party was all about a protest about being overly taxed.

---Hello, Feccal Head. It's the same thing.

---Of course, they then turned their attention to talking about all the great things Bill Maher said last week.

---Uh huh. Bill Maher the renowned political pundit.

---Definition of a political pundit? A failed comedian who can't find any other work.

---I bet these two nitwits also drive Smart Cars.

---The cars might be smart but the drivers sure aren't. You might as well be behind the wheel of a phone booth.

---But they're small and cute. What's not to like?

---If I had led my life by that barometer, I would have had a lot more rotten dates in my life.

---Speaking of which, on 24, Jack Bauer finally gets some female action and she's immediately gone.

---I know how you feel, Jack.

---RIP, Dixie Carter. Never met the lady, but she actually once read one of our scripts and liked it.

---Sadly, plenty of people who didn't like one of our scripts are still alive.

---It comes out that John Tesh and Oprah were once an item.

---An item of what?

---Well, frankly, he doesn't look particularly bright, so he might not have known until two days later.

---So, I'm glad Conan O'Bastard got a show on TBS. Because I know how fast 30 million dollars of severence pay can run out.

---The only problem with Conan going on TBS is that they will promote it ad nauseum during next year's baseball playoffs.

---Gee, I think I'm already sick of seeing the commercials now.

---Dumbest thing I overheard at yesterday's Dodger home opener: After the traditional pre-game flyover, this was said in the row behind me.

---"How come the Lakers never have any flyovers at the Staples Center?"

Good night, Gracie.

Dinner last night: German salami sandwich.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Saul and Heshe Talk Opening Day

Welcome back our two favorite Hollywood Jews, Saul and Heshe, as they have a nosh at Canter's Delicatessen on Fairfax. Today is the Dodgers home opener and they certainly have a lot to say about that and baseball in general.

"What? No tickets today? No trip out to Chavez Rabin?"

"You mean "ravine?"

"Whatever floats your matzo ball. You not going out to see?"

"Feh. All the traffic. Larry King running around, yap yap yapping. And the mishagas in the air with the flyovers. What is this? Jimmy Stewart in Strategic Air Command."

"I'm with you. I'll watch at home on the 42 inch with Vin Scully."

"We're better off. And the Dodger Dogs? Not Kosher."

"It's not like the old days. I used to go to Opening Day every year."

"Me, too. Two rows behind Sinatra, one row over from Danny Kaye."

"That was baseball. Woo hoo. If you were lucky, you got to see Sandila pitch."

"I was at two of his no-hitters. One with, you'll pardon the expression, my first wife. Also a shutout, if you know what I mean.

"Bitch."

"Bitch."

"That Koufax. He knew what he was doing. And he never pitched on the high holidays. Even if it was the World Series."

"He could do that because we also had Dandy Don Drysdale. A goyim who could pitch every day but Good Friday."

"I remember when he was on Donna Reed's show. Teaching that Paul Petersen how to throw a curveball.

"I wish I could have done the same with Shelley Fabares. Now that was a pair of stems. Whoo boy, oh, boy."

"Back then, the Dodgers knew how to get the most out of our business. Remember when they had Mister Ed out there running the bases."

"Vey iz mir. They thought he left a big pile in the outfield. Turns out it was Leo Durocher."

"And remember Maury Wills? That schwatz ran like he had a TV under each arm."

"And he was shtupping Doris Day at the same time."

"Oh, yeah. A little cream in the coffee."

"She wasn't getting it any place else. What? From Rock Hudson? A little light in the loafers."

"Fagila."

"Yeah, fagila."

"These players today, they don't know how good they got it."

"Millions and millions and millions of dollars. And they still take all those funny drugs."

"So did Peter Lawford, but he couldn't hit for shit."

"What was up with last year? Manny taking female fertility pills? Like that octo-mom?

"Like we need eight more of him running around with the schwatz hair braids??

"And I think he gets those extensions from Diahann Carroll's wig company. Just a rumor. Hush hush."

"Joe Torre's doing a good job, though."

"There's a face only a mother could love. I look at him and I see Ernest Borgnine working behind the butcher counter in Marty."

"They shouldn't wait for the shivah to cover the mirrors in his house."

"I bet Joe still has a soft spot for the Yankees. I know he still talks to Derek Jeter."

"Jeter? A little more cream in the coffee. And who was his mother? Peggy Cass?"

"The Yankees. Those altakockers have so much money. Steinbrenner. Nazi bastard."

"Except now he don't know how much he got. He went a little meshuggah in the head."

"Asshole."

"Yeah, asshole."

"May he rest in peace."

"Soon."

Dinner last night: Chicken tenders with macaroni & cheese.



Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Morning Video Laugh - April 12, 2010

You've asked to see this again. I can't refuse.


Dinner last night: Pot roast with gravy and polenta.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Bottle Caps

If you're wondering about this picture, I will explain. You just have to wait a little bit.

As I personally begin one more season as a baseball fan, what better way to honor this than by devoting a few Sunday Memory Drawers to the sport? Bonding with friends and Dad over the wonders of the game. Recalling happy times in some stadium. Reveling in the microcosm of life that only baseball can provide.

Except today we're going to talk all about football.

Well, sort of.

Bonding with Dad?

Most definitely.

Oh, sure, my father and I had our shared baseball moments and I will chronicle them here over the next little while. At this very moment, I'm thinking about playing catch with him in the driveway. The typical Norman Rockwell portrait of father and son. With the baseball scooting away from me as my dad screamed..

"USE TWO HANDS!!!"

Yes. sir.

But, for some mystical reason, today I'm thinking about a joint project that provided one of the very rare times where Dad and I were joined lockstep with a single objective. In our little universe, it was Hailey's Comet. Translation: it didn't happen much. But this did. A united focus. A shared goal.

Collecting Coca Cola bottle caps.

Huh, you say?

I couldn't have been more eight or nine when I heard about this promotion dreamed up by the soda company. During the fall, they put out these grids for the local football teams, the New York Jets and the New York Giants. On each grid, there were spots for all 40 players or the complete roster of each team. At the same time, the now-retired Coke bottle caps had a picture of a Jet or Giant underneath. So, you'd glue the cap to the appropriate spot on the grid. If you managed to fill in a bottle cap for every player on both teams, you'd get a free football. For some bizarre reason, my father got behind this in a big way.

"We're going to get that football."

Okay. But, isn't this a lot of work? Wouldn't it be just as easy to go down to the sporting goods store and buy one?

As far as Dad was concerned, apparently not.

For the next two months, this was our mission. Working together to get the necessary bottle caps that would catch us that pigskin. We'd spend hours on the weekend sorting and glueing.

Okay, let me reel it in here. We weren't drinking all that soda. Back then, my father had two jobs. At night, he worked at the Connecticut die casting company he had been at since after World War II. But, for a spell, he worked mornings for his cousin's oil burner company. Delivering heating fuel to homes.

And lots and lots of bars and taverns all over the Bronx. All of them very willing to hand over to my dad their weekly cache of Coca Cola bottle caps. Which he brought home in shopping bags.

Basically, we needed just 80 bottle caps. But, to find the ones for the grid, we pretty much sifted through over two thousand of them. Our kitchen table was a disaster as we surveyed each and every cap.

"This is a Winston Hill. We already have ten of those."

"What did you do with Pete Gogolak? I can't find him."

"How come we can only find tackles and no half backs?"

It was nervewracking, because Coke actually had a deadline on the submissions. As the clock ticked and the days passed, we kept sorting and glueing and glueing and sorting. Miraculously, there was just one bottle cap that we needed.

New York Giant running back Tucker Fredrickson. We were convinced his bottle cap didn't exist. The lone blank spot on the two grids stared at us for about a week. So close to the football. So far from the football.

Until my mother got into the act. One day, she came home with a paper bag full of bottle caps, which she had coerced out of the vending machine guy at her job. She was obviously trying to help. Or simply put us and her out of our collective misery.

Tucker Fredrickson was the first one we pulled out of the bag.

From my father's reaction, I couldn't tell whether he was ecstatic or depressed. Had he wanted to be the one to triumphantly pull Tucker Fredrickson out of his magic hat? Was he particularly frosted that my mother had delivered the goods? To this day, I don't know. But his half smile that day lasted with me for years.

With Tucker firmly attached to his designated grid spot, we headed up to the local Coca Cola bottler in White Plains. Gasoline expended, which also made me wonder why we hadn't simply walked five blocks to the sporting goods store. But, nevertheless, Dad proudly handed over the bottle cap grids. To the clerk who was mystified.

"How did you do this? Nobody else has."

I beamed. That's because nobody else has a father who delivers oil to about fifty saloons in the Bronx.

There was nothing special about the football. There was nothing to differentiate it from the football in the window down at the sporting goods store. But, this truly was our football. One that my father and I had gotten together. With a single focus. With determination. With pride. As one.

We went down to the driveway to play catch with it. As the first toss scooted away from me, I heard the usual refrain.

"USE TWO HANDS!!!!"

Dinner last night: BLT sandwich at Blue Plate.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Classic TV Commercial of the Month - April 2010

Just in time for the baseball season. This Rheingold Beer ad, as voiced by Mets announcer Bob Murphy, had to have been seen by me countless times when I was a kid. Probably ran constantly during Met games.

But, my family was a Schaefer household. Just so you know.


Dinner last night: French dip at the Arclight.


Friday, April 9, 2010

I Think I Went to a Tea Party

And just so you know, this is the only kind of tea I really drink. Diet Snapple with Lemon is preferred.

I don't need to burden you with the hows and whys this happened, but one day last week found me at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley for a Sean Hannity event. I was in the front row for the radio broadcast in a packed auditorium. There were whoops and hollers and lots of applause. Plenty of discussion calling for the mass firing of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and even President Obummer. Not through any means of violence, but the good ole electoral process. You get the general idea.

Yep, I suppose this was a Tea Party of sorts. The only problem is that I missed some of the Tea Party elements that have been reported on with great glee by the media.

I didn't see homosexuals being pummeled.

I didn't see Jews being beaten.

I didn't see Blacks being forced to shine shoes.

Oh, and the esteemed "N" word that is supposedly dropped around willy nilly at Tea Parties like Tic Tacs? The only "N" word I heard?

"Len, have you got a piece of gum?"

"No."

That's as "N" as it got.

What I did hear and see was a lively discussion of one side of the issues. Forget the fact that I pretty much sit firmly on that very one side of the issues. If Nancy Pelosi or Obummer were to be bounced from their jobs tomorrow, I'd be the first to call down to the mailroom for a packing box. But, still, what I watched was an honest and respectable dialogue from the right side of the political aisle. Nothing sinister here or there. No swastika posters hoisted overhead. No Nazi symbols emblazoned on photos of POTUS. No DVDs of movies called "The Assassination of Barack Obama" or "The Assassination of Harry Reid."

Of course, during the former Presidential administration, we did see all of the above from the left side of the political aisle. Swastika posters hoisted overhead. Nazi symbols emblazoned on photos of the then-POTUS. DVDS of movies called "The Assassination of George Bush" or "The Assassination of Richard Nixon."

Double standards available 24/7. Having cake and eating it, too.

And you are viewed as less than normal if you differ slightly. For instance, during one of the show's breaks, a work colleague who apparently didn't buy into any of the day's rhetoric was obviously distressed by the discussion.

"After listening to this, we should both go home and take a shower."

Quite the bold assumption. Because he thought so, I naturally was in agreement? I wanted to answer back as succinctly as possible.

"No shower needed for me. You'll have to wash your own back."

My colleague raised an eyebrow. With a little surprise and a whole lot of disdain.

"Oh???"

Yes, oh. Because, let's face it, in this most polarized of all countries, there's at least one-half of the populace that doesn't agree with what's going on. These days, from what I could tell at this event, there are a whole lot more.

I had a similar experience last month while flying back from NY. In my newfound campaign to read more, I had cracked open once again conservative radio host Mark Levin's "Liberty and Tyranny," a marvelous juxtaposition of current day politics to what was originally framed in the United States Constitution by our forefathers. As I read the book while stuck in an equipment snafu at the gate, I suddenly felt a pair of eyes on me. The guy in 23F. Eyeing what I was reading. And shaking his head. The more I turned the pages, the more I aggravated him. Ray Bradbury, where are you when needed?

I wanted to say something snarky to this jackass. I did nothing. I just kept reading. And resolved to never apologize again for what I say, read, or believe.

So, let's get this out in the open right now. Certainly no surprises for any of the regular readers to this daily hamster wheel called "Len Speaks."

I am registered in California as an Independent. But, back in NY, I was registered as a Republican.

I will always tend towards the conservative side, most particularly with regard to economic spending.

I am a very generous person and not a racist, but I am very strongly against entitlements to certain members of the population who expect them.

I am of the opinion that the sooner we recognize those segments of our population still exist to this day, the better off we will be.

I am against an overly imposing federal government.

I don't think the health care system needs to be totally reformed. Go back to the previous statement on entitlements and that will explain why.

I am supportive of a strong military, as I know that there are many longstanding enemies of the United States in this world. These grudges and conflicts didn't pop out of nowhere over the course of the last eight years.

On a social basis, I am pro-choice as long as there are medical reasons behind the necessary actions.

I am in favor of leaving my fellow man alone. They can believe what they want, say what they want, and marry whom they want. As long as I receive the same reciprocal treatment.

I am most supremely proud to be an American.

Have these messages been conveyed successfully? I sure hope so. If you agree, fine. If you disagree, fine. Just don't judge me if we're not on the same page. Because you'll get it right back.

In spades.

And I'm talking about the playing card. But, then again, you never know these days what is allowed in the course of your given day.

Watching a news network last week on an apparent slow day, there was a crawl talking about Obama being "the first President to use a Blackberry."

At what point will somebody complain about this statement and adapt it to read "the first President to use an African American Berry?"

Hey, I'm just thinking what I'm told.

Dinner last night: Grilled teriyaki chicken.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

My Sights and Sounds: The El Capitan Theater

This is my first attempt at uploading some video from my Flip camera. Given it looks to be successful, welcome to my newest feature. Enjoying the sights and sounds of my life.

Here's a wonderful little clip of the pre-show entertainment at the delightful El Capitan Theater. The organ playing reminds me of the Radio City Music Hall. The pans and scans are done to show you some of the theater decorations installed for the current film playing there---"Alice in Wonderland."

I apologize in advance for the assholes who kept looking for their seats in front of me. Such barbarians! Some people will do anything to make an appearance in my blog.



video

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

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Black and White Wednesday

If they can co-exist so well on a cookie, why not in America?

---Here's why.

---Have you filled out your Census yet? Are you conflicted over your race and ethnicity?

---If so, you've got plenty of company. For instance, take the President.

---Please. Thank you, Henny Youngman.

---After reminding us constantly that it was not about race and that he had a White mother and grandmother, Obummer fills out his form and checks the box "Black."

---Well, that settles that.

---Not that it makes.

---They kept telling us it didn't.

---Of course, at the same time, they kept reminding us that it did.

---But, what the hell, I wrote down that I was Chinese.

---What's even more laughable are these allegations that tea parties are nothing but Klan meetings. I went to one last week and I didn't see a single white sheet.

---Although I did see some white pants and it's not even Memorial Day.

---These days, there's only discrimination and racism when the Democrats want to bring it up.

---At the end of the day, what difference does it make if the Census thinks you're White, Black, or Yellow? Aren't you still just one person regardless?

---Er, probably not.

---And I just realized that I forgot to mention the twelve Indians living in my walk-in closet.

---Somebody asked Obummer a question about health care and he talked for seventeen minutes.

---With the teleprompter, it would have been sixteen minutes.

---This is a guy who needs Cliff Notes to answer the question "what time is it?"

---"Er, time? Well, that's a good question. Hmm, time? Okay, when George Bush was President, nobody cared about time."

---"Now, the Republicans...they'll mention time and then accuse you of hiding it. But, you ask me the time and I can tell you what it is."

---"Time is ultimately unimportant in the great scheme of things. I was thinking about the correct time when I was doing my NCAA brackets just the other day."

---"Okay, what was the question again?"

---Meanwhile, POTUS threw out the first ball at the Washington Nationals' home opener.

---The pitch was off the mark and way to the left. The usual.

---Afterwards, Obummer was interviewed about his hometown team, the Chicago White Sox. And couldn't recall the name of a single player.

---But remembered that the team played in Co-minsky Park.

---I wonder if he was there the night they raided Co-minsky's.

---Have you seen a bigger hunk of junk than the iPad??

---Who the fuck wants to carry around a snack tray all day?

---I can read a magazine, too. Without the iPad. Wanna know who?

---I buy the friggin' magazine and open it!

---The thing weighs a pound and a half. An average magazine is how many ounces??

---How stupid a public are we?

---I'll tell you. We watch programs like "Dancing with the Stars" and "Real Housewives."

---If you wonder why God is giving us mine disasters and earthquakes, he's monitoring our television viewing.

---And to those of you who checked in with me after the Easter Sunday earthquake, thank you.

---To those of you who didn't...well, you weren't getting much money from my will anyway.

Dinner last night: Egg salad sandwich.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My Mother Rhonda Fleming

Or so I wish.

I would say that Rhonda Fleming was my first celebrity crush. And I was probably nine or ten years old at the time.

Was I a particularly horny youngster? Nah.

I didn't want Rhonda Fleming to be my girlfriend. I wanted her to be my mother.

This blog will now pause for ten seconds so you can roll your eyes.

Blame it all on our new color television. And NY's WOR Channel 9 which ran "Million Dollar Movie."

When that hulky Zenith console first made its appearance in our home, we'd watch anything and everything in color. Just because it wasn't in black and white. Our household became TV junkies. And I was the biggest addict of all. Even the early morning test pattern looked damn color in shades of red, blue, and green.

So, when the in-glorious-Technicolor "Big Circus" landed on "Million Dollar Movie," it was just one more thing for me to gobble up. A nifty movie with hues that jumped out and caressed your eyes. And the WOR-TV format for "Million Dollar Movie" lended to repeat viewings. You see, they ran the same movie over and over for an entire week. Once a night and then all day Saturday and Sunday.

I watched "The Big Circus" every single time. And reveled in this neat red-headed lady Rhonda Fleming playing circus publicist Helen Harrison.

Who was this woman? She had it all together. She was smart. She was funny. She knew her job. She was in complete control. Looks were secondary as far as I was concerned.

Wouldn't it be neat for me to bring her into school on Parent-Teacher Night? Wouldn't Miss Lipsius, my homeroom teacher, be impressed when Rhonda Fleming came in to discuss how well I was doing with arithmetic?

In retrospect, I realize now that I was essentially dissing my own mother with this fervent wish that I had been adopted elsewhere. Of course, she didn't have the flashy red hair, but Mom wouldn't exactly give you a stye either.

Yet, still....Rhonda Fleming! Making my Taylor Ham sandwich and laying out exactly five pimento-stuffed olives for lunch? How neat that would be for little goofy me?

It's not like I followed Miss Fleming's career elsewhere. I don't think I saw her in anything else. It was simply how she was and looked in that single circus yarn that made me quiver. In a kid sort of way.

Of course, "The Big Circus" disappeared from sight for years and years after that. So, even if I wanted to turn my Rhonda Fleming love into Rhonda Fleming lust, it wasn't available for me to revisit. The movie never really got to VHS or DVD, a fact that I even discussed with one of its co-stars, Kathryn Grant Crosby, a few years back. Ultimately, Warner Brothers released it on DVD as part of their new archive store.

And Rhonda Fleming looks just as good to me now as she did when I wanted her to tuck me decades ago.

So, when I learned that Miss Fleming herself was going to be making an appearance at the Egyptian Theater's annual Film Noir festival, I just had to go and see her in-person.

At last. And, as a result, I finally saw her act in another movie. Some sultry little yarn called "Cry Danger" with Dick Powell.

Afterwards, she did the usual Q & A and signed some autographs. My digital camera and I got up close. She obviously still looks remarkable.


My friend suggested that I ask her to pose with me for a photo. And then I could explain to her that, as a child, I had wanted her to be my mother.

I didn't bother.



That would have provided a reason for somebody to call theater security. And fast.

I went home without a true Rhonda Fleming connection.

I realized that one mother had been more than enough for my lifetime.

Dinner last night: Grilled chicken and broccoli pasta salad.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday Morning Video Laugh - April 5, 2010

This is a real commercial! How did Gilbert Gottfried do the voiceover and keep a straight face?



Dinner last night: Pasta with proscuitto and bread crumbs.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Easter Sunday 1998

For years after I left my childhood church in the Bronx, my only forays into any kind of worship were via weddings or funerals. And, most of the time, these were held in Catholic churches. Each time, I could feel the disdain of my grandmother from wherever her spirit now resides. But, as strong as my worship habit was when I was a kid, I just as easily fell into several decades of laziness. I became a card carrying member of that worldwide group.

"Spiritual But Not Religious."

I was sleeping in on Sunday mornings. I was reading the paper and doing the crossword puzzle. I was reveling in the comic strip exploits of Blondie and Marmaduke.

I wasn't going to church. Just like my parents, I had inexplicably and perhaps irrevocably shut down my religion.

Until I moved to Los Angeles.

Well, actually, the thoughts of returning to a church had begun during my last years in NY. I had looked around a little for a new Lutheran church that I could call home. The only problem was that most in my area were not fulltime organizations. You could show up at the building at certain times and find a Lutheran service. If you read the sign wrong, you'd wind up at a Chinese Buddhist service. Most of the Lutheran churches around me had to rent out their facilities to anybody and everybody.

After I moved west, the nagging desire for a bit more religion became a bit more acute. And I wanted to use the experience as a means of meeting some new friends.

Easter Sunday 1998 seemed like as good a date as any to begin the process.

On the Saturday before, I set out to find myself a church for the next day. By simply going through the church directory that is always printed in the Los Angeles Times. I knew that I wanted a Lutheran church not affiliated with the Missouri Synod, which is just an inch or two removed from the Third Reich. Location was also an issue. I didn't want to drive more than fifteen minutes. God was important, but he also needed to be damn convenient.

I literally reviewed the names of the churches in the directory. Hmm, that one sounds boring. Hmm, that one sounds a little too big. I was Goldilocks sipping the porridge of the Three Bears. Suddenly, a name sang out to me.

Village Lutheran Church.

Awwww, how homey.

On a street called Church Lane.

How hokey can you get?

I was sold.

An amazing thing happened as I entered Village Lutheran Church in the Brentwood Glen area of Los Angeles that Easter Sunday morning.

It looked just like St. Peter's in the Bronx. Almost eerily the same. I began to wonder if this was just another stop on the BX 41 bus route. And was my dad outside in the car reading the newspaper?

Oh, there were some head spinning differences. A lady pastor, for one. That alone would have sent the oldtimers at St. Peter's in the Bronx into cardiac arrest. But, other than that, the actual worship service was exactly as I had left it years ago. This was an extremely comfortable old sweater that still fit perfectly.

Nevertheless, I was completely self-conscious walking into this new unchartered territory. I sat way in the back.

And then another miracle happened. The Sunday after Easter, I yearned to go back.

I sat one row closer to the front. And felt an even warmer feeling. Even though I talked to no one. This was my equivalent of stepping into a swimming pool. I was going to get wet one skin pore at a time.

Each week, there was a coffee and cake hour in the fellowship hall after service. I was always invited in. And, each week, I always had something to do.

This was starting not to sit well with Florence, the old lady in the pew across from me. During the always uncomfortable "sharing of the peace," she'd always grab my hand a little harder.

"What's your name again?"

I'd tell her.

"So, Glenn, when are you coming in for coffee?"

Errrrrrrrr.

"Glenn, we're expecting you next week."

Errrrrrrrrr.

Florence meant business. I was convinced that, even weighted down with her walker, she could kick my ass. I'd later discover that Florence was an actress. She had done years on Broadway. She knew James Dean. She was one of the only two Broadway cast members to travel west to do the screen version of "The Rose Tattoo." The other was its star Anna Magnani. Later on, she'd be a regular on "The Life of Riley" with William Bendix. She'd play one of the hookers in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." And portray Barbara Eden's mother on "I Dream of Jeannie."

But, for now, she was acting as a thorn in my very shy side. And the role was quite convincing.

The next week, I lowered my head and stepped into the lion's den for coffee. Talking to people I didn't know.

It was fine.

And, thanks to a lot of really special friends, I have been at Village Lutheran Church ever since.

But there's a lot more to the story and that will be for another time. Happy Easter!

Dinner last night: BBQ Ribs at Hooters.