Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Extra Dry Wednesday


Pull up your coaster and bring a pint of Snarky Ale.

---The summer is here. And to all you tourist morons clogging Los Angeles and New York: Please remember that you have a round trip ticket.

---The Hollywood environs over the weekend were particularly overrun with peckerwoods from the Midwest. All of them convinced they will have a chance meeting with a Jonas brother.

---Whoever the hell they are.

---All over town, you run into these tour buses. Nothing more than an old van hollowed out in the back and equipped with a couple of cheap sofas. Bingo! You have a tour business.

---It's not like you see anything different.

---"Over there, folks, is where John Forsythe once had a coughing fit and spit up some phlegm."

----Oooooooohh.

---"In that drugstore, Jonah Hill once got stopped for trying to sneak out with a bag of Ricola cough drops."

---Oooooooooooohhh.

---"See that vacant lot. There was once a two story building there, but Larry King walked by right after having a pastrami sandwich at Canter's and..."

---Ooooooooooohhhhhhh. And phew!

---And, speaking of a bad diet...

---Have you ever noticed how many pictures you see of Obummer eating bad food in some dive? For Pete's sake, talk about a stereotype. A Black guy eating himself to a future of diabetes and high blood pressure.

---Jeez, the only thing missing is a bag of Tom's Barbecue Potato Chips and a bottle of "blue" soda.

---And let's not forget the smoking addiction. The patented GPS route to a stroke.

---Meanwhile, that gnarly pile of hair extensions, otherwise known as Michelle I-bama, is running around and telling the rest of us how to eat properly.

---Except you know those two Obummer kids are dripping their Icees all over the White House.

---If she's truly worried about a proper diet, she should look no further than the other side of her own Sit N'Sleep.

---If he's even there...

---Oh, come on, gang, you're all thinking the same thing. He's gotta have something on the side other than a dish of cole slaw.

---If Al Gore can get some nooky, anything is possible.

---There's bonus points if Obummer is cheating and the chick is White.

---Sorry, Angie Dickinson, no need to raise your hand and volunteer. You already had your time on the Oval Office carpet.

---In what parallel universe does a woman actually find Al Gore sexy?

---You don't think this idiot was running all over the country with that Powerpoint presentation just to save the environment, do you?

---Meanwhile, my guess is that Mrs. Gore was also screwing around. Maybe with a waiter down at the Olive Garden.

---Because, after all, she is a good Tipper.

---Oh, shut up! You try to come up with this stuff every Wednesday for over three years and see how funny you can be.

---And this just from the Dopey Vice President Department: this is how I feel as well whenever I have to listen to Joe Biden...

---Some people will do anything to get out of listening to this asshole talk.

---Biden calls for a doctor in the house.

---And if Oprah's physician, that crackpot Dr. Mehmet Oz, was there, they'd still be looking for one.

---Watching a little bit of this guy, I realize that his background is completely fabricated. Probably nothing more than a school nurse with a can of Band Aids.

---I saw this jerk once spend a half hour telling the droids the wonders of rinsing your sinuses.

---Er, I was doing this for the past five years. And nobody gave me a Daytime Emmy.

---I watched the New York Yankees play at Dodger Stadium over the weekend. And, after two thorough showers with Lava soap, I finally feel clean again.

---Looking at Yankee hurler Sabathia, I can tell you one thing his initials "CC" don't stand for.

---"Calorie Counter."

---Seriously, this is a left-handed brick shit house. I thought Jonathan Broxton was a big boy?

---Sabathia might have been the fourth targeted building on 9/11.

---It was good to see Alex Rodriguez. And how is the missus, Alex?

---Billy Crystal, the world's foremost Yankee fan, naturally showed up for the games. And to run some Windex handi-wipes over Joe Torre's office desk.

---By the way, Billy, the term limits on hearing those stories about you seeing Yankee Stadium for the first time were about ten years ago.

---Still, my favorite tale is one that Billy doesn't know. Unless, of course, if he reads this blog because I have told it here before.

---Picture this: Billy the Asshole running around a Yankee Oldtimer's Day begging for Mickey Mantle to have a catch with him.

---A euphoric moment for Mr. Crystal.

---And Mr. Mantle's comment right afterward? "Can you believe I had to play catch with that stupid goddamn Jew?"

---Still as priceless as ever.

---Watching the court hearings, I am astounded how much Elena Kagan looks and sounds just like Rosie O'Donnell.

---And that's good enough reason for me. No Supreme Court job for you, Chubbs.

---There is a spot open at second base on the company softball team. It's your turn to bring the keg.

---Meanwhile, on the other end of the bench, that old crow Ruth Bader Ginsburg's hubby had his bags sent down to God's lobby.

---Gee, I figured that Moses had died years ago.

---Probably the first quiet time this guy has had in years.

---And, speaking more ill of the dead, that old fossil Senator Robert Byrd finally croaked.

---I love to hear the Democrats falling over each other to praise this rat bastard, who was a big ole racist. Short memories all.

---What the hell was this coot still doing in the Senate? He was 92 years old! How dumb was his state in electing this jackass at that age???

---Oh, well, he's the Devil's problem now.

Dinner last night: German salami sandwich.



Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why We Are Baseball Fans

Sunday night's Dodger meltdown in the ninth inning versus the New York Yankees was oddly life affirming for me. A reminder once again why I love this sport. Gut wrenching and soothing all at the same time.

It's what makes me a baseball fan.

I've seen enough of these losses in my lifetime. There will be plenty more. They're horrible to view on television. They're one hundred times worse to watch in person. At home, you can turn off the sound and simply let the bile flow up in silence. At the ballpark, you stand among 56,000 fans and are as alone as the relief pitcher, in this case, Jonathan Broxton, is. And you gape helplessly as your team snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.

Sunday night's personal devastation was made more excruciating for me because it was against the Yankees. Decades of baseball self-esteem issues, inflicted from repeated torture at the hands of neighborhood and school chums, came rampaging back to me in the time it took the home plate umpire to signal "ball four." All of a sudden, I am reminded of one lunch table school "friend." The day after the Mets won the World Series in 1969, he greeted me by saying that we had only 20 plus championships to go before the Mets could match the Yankees. Like you were there for all of them, you fuckin' buzz kill of an asswipe!!! I cut that guy off shortly thereafter. I think he found up cleaning fish tanks.

As my past was morphing one more time into my present on Sunday night, I kept reminding to the unassuming Dodger fans around here that no lead was safe. Because if every baseball game is a microcosm of life, the New York Yankees are pancreatic cancer. Once they metastisize, you're gone. You cannot simply beat them by scoring more runs. You have to step on their throats with your heel. You have to hear the air go out of their lungs. You have to draw blood and it has to be plentiful. Because, if you look away for a single nano-second, they will beat you. There's a reason why they are the best baseball team that money has always bought.

In retrospect, Jonathan Broxton blows a game like that usually twice a year. Last season, he performed the same collapse against the San Diego Padres and everybody yawned. When he does this against the New York Yankees, you suddenly feel like JFK in Dealey Plaza at 12:31PM on November 22, 1963.

You pick yourself up. You shake away the pain. And go on. The players need to do this. So, too, the fans. It's what makes the sports special. You need the highs and the lows. The rollercoaster of life is no fun if you don't speed down from that mile-high climb. Laughter is vital, but so, too, are the screams.

Now, I have many good friends who are lifelong Yankee fans and they have been around their team long enough to know their own pain. Let's face it, for about fifteen or so years, they had nothing but Don Mattingly and a dumpster full of half-eaten hot dogs. But, there are others, many of them were out in full force at Dodger Stadium over the weekend. Younger Yankee fans who have never experienced what it means to be a true baseball fan. They lurk in the silent background waiting and expecting the inevitable victory. They have known no other baseball life. They are guttersnipes spoiled to a fault. Cockroaches just waiting to emerge from the first shining of a flashlight. And they are nasty about it. I saw quite a few over the weekend. Another embodiment of my moronic cafeteria chum.

I think about a young work friend of mine. He grew up a Yankee fan in Arizona. How does that happen? Well, his father told him to root for the Yankees because you always want to be a fan of the best team.

What a dissservice this man has done to his son. Because, truth be told, the way you become a fan is to suffer. And suffer. And suffer. And suffer.

I think back to Shea Stadium for Game 7 of the 1986 World Series. The Mets' closer, Jesse Orosco, is wrapping up the ninth inning game and series victory over the Boston Red Sox. Up in the top deck, my friend Danny and I have our arms around each other as we watch every strike. Danny reminds me that we need to savor this moment because it doesn't happen a lot.

And I'm still savoring it 24 years later. I hope to have another one here in Dodger Stadium. That's the carrot in front of us all. The reason why we keep coming back, unnerving game after unnerving game.

Thinking about my young work colleague's dad, I think of my own. A Yankee fan for life. Who followed his son when he chose to adopt the New York Mets as his favorite team. I wonder if my dad would have done the same if I had decided to root for the Cleveland Indians. The answer is most likely, although I am sure he would have commented first, "you know we don't live in Cleveland."

My dad got it. I get it still.

The Dodgers rebounded and won last night. The Dodgers play the Giants again in San Francisco tonight. I'll be tuned in. Living and dying and living for each moment.

Dinner last night: Grilled chicken panini at Maria's Italian Kitchen.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Morning Video Laugh - June 28, 2010

June is the month for weddings. And this groom just can't contain his joy.


Dinner last night: Polish sausage at the Dodger game.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Dodger Stadium From 3000 Miles Away

A timely memory drawer entry as the Dodgers and the Yankees square off for a weekend of interleague play at Chavez Ravine. Above, you're looking at a photo of Dodger Stadium's very first opening day in 1962. I see this snapshot and I realize that the place, which is now my primary baseball home, still looks amazingly as it did 48 years ago.

Back when I was a kid in NY and a fledgling fan of the sport, the Dodgers' home in Los Angeles seemed like it was on the moon. I didn't understand completely then the concept of time zones. All I knew is that Dodger Stadium was so far away the games started three hours later than they did in NY. An 8PM start time was really 11PM at Dodger Stadium and it took years for me to comprehend this phenomenon.

I was in love with the Mets and, whenever they played the Dodgers on the other end of the world, I had to get very creative when it came to staying in touch with the game. Rarely were those contests telecast on television back to WOR-TV Channel 9 in New York. And, if they were, there was no way this eight-year-old was going to be able to go into the living room and turn on the big clunky Zenith. As it was, the sleeping hawks/parents sensed my every nocturnal move.

"You're going to the bathroom. What's wrong?"

"You turned the light on. What's the matter?"

"Why are your bedcovers off? What's the problem?"

Jeez...........

So, to keep track of West Coast baseball games, I was reduced to covert activity. A transistor radio with the covers pulled over my head. Meanwhile, since my dog Tuffy was already in the bed with me, this became a very sweaty situation on hot summer nights. I was trying to listen to Met announcer Bob Murphy call the action with the play-by-play smothered under a pillow. Did he say that was a strike or a ball? Did Ed Kranepool score or didn't he? And, Tuffy, please stop licking my feet!

Eventually, one of the parental units would get up to go to the bathroom themselves. And the faint hum of AM radio would be radiating from my bedroom.

"TURN OFF THAT GAME AND GO TO BED!!!"

Er, I'm not listening to a game. And, technically, I am in bed. Oh, never mind. I quickly clicked off the transistor radio and threw it across my room.

I needed those words from the Met announcers because, indeed, I had no idea what Dodger Stadium looked like. Oh, I had seen a few pictures, but little else. I knew there were these two neat six-sided scoreboards. And that wave-like roof over the bleachers. But, all in all, this ballpark was a mystery to me.

I was further addled by the varying names the stadium had. Sometimes, I saw it in print as "Dodger Stadium." But, other times it was called "Chavez Ravine." Is that the Spanish translation? I had no clue. It all sounded so wonderful. But, only in my mind. Really, all I had to go on was this episode of "Mr. Ed."

I finally got to see the place for myself on a Labor Day when I was eleven. For some bizarre reason, one of the networks was televising a game that afternoon between the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Why? Who knows? But, it was strange for me to watch a game that didn't involve the Mets. I was going to get my chance to actually see Dodger Stadium for myself. And I was a captive audience.

Mainly because I was trapped in my bed with a fever of 104 degrees. That was probably the sickest I have ever been in my life. Some sort of virus was galloping through my body. It was like one of those jungle movies where the great White hunter has malaria and is lying in a quonset hut, being fanned by natives. Except I was lying in my bedroom and my parents were taking turns applying cold compresses and alcohol in order to get the fever down. Meanwhile, as I lay there in gallons of sweat, I kept staring at the game on the black and white TV in my room.

That's Dodger Stadium!

There's those cool scoreboards!

Look at all those palm trees outside the bleachers!

I was literally and figuratively closer to heaven. I vowed to go there one day and see this Chavez Ravine for myself

I, of course, survived. The Giants won that day in 13 innings. And it would be another twelve years before I would see Dodger Stadium for myself. In person.

It was as glorious as it appeared on that day when I lost about ten gallons of water through my pores.

I was on my first ever trip to Los Angeles and this ballpark was a mandatory stop. The Reds shellacked the Dodgers that day. But, the sheer essence of just being there was enough for me.

Here I am years later. A season ticket holder with a regular view of all that which enchanted me when I was eleven. I never take it for granted. This is baseball paradise.

Yes, Shea Stadium will always be my first love. But, if I have no other baseball home for the rest of my life, Dodger Stadium will do just fine.

Dinner last night: Bacon burger at the Grill in Hollywood.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Classic Movie Trailer of the Month - June 2010

And, since we were just talking about Doris Day...


Dinner last night: French Dip Ham sandwich at Phillippe's prior to the Yankee-Dodger game.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Coming Soon to a Radio Near You


As the sign says, Think Cure! is the official charity of the Los Angeles Dodgers. It's devoted to cancer research, so I would encourage you to seek out the website and make a donation.

Okay, you're asking. What the hell has this got to do with your blog?

Okay, I'm answering.

Each season, the Dodgers hold a weekend devoted to this charity. They conduct on-line auctions for a variety of memorablia, stadium experiences, and the like. Since I'm usually good for a few hundred dollars to cancer research every year, this gives me a great way to make that donation.

So, what was of interest to me this year? Well, for instance, I could have a meet and greet with announcer Vin Scully. This year, you needed to bid over five grand to win that. Well, that's also about a dozen car lease payments for me.

I could win an Italian dinner with Tommy Lasorda. Another high bid and then I would need to wear an extra large bib. There was an opportunity to get a 30-minute batting lesson with coach Don Mattingly. With my knee issues, this was an unlikely opportunity for me.

Honorary batboy? Again, with my knee issues, it would be just my luck to get whacked in the leg by Casey Blake's backswing in the on-deck circle.

Honorary groundskeeper? Again, with my knee issues, I could potentially create a game delay while raking the infield at the end of the third inning.

Now, several years ago, I did win an auction bid. Got myself a baseball autographed by Clayton Kershaw. This time around, I decided to aim a little bit higher.

And that's my long way of explaining why, sometime in July or August, I will be the guest host on KABC-AM's post-game Dodger Talk with Ken Levine and Josh Suchon. Since I think these guys do a terrific job with this program, it was of great interest to me. Who knew I would win it for a bid of just $250?

Okay, they may simply let me wear headphones and say "hello." But, perhaps they will realize I have something to say and can do so without uttering a fucking, er, bleep, curse word. I've already traded a series of e-mails with Josh and he must have already figured out that I'm not some moronic fan like "Lou from Tarzana."

Watch this blog for the announcement of the big date. Those of you on the East Coast, KABC is streamed on your computer. Even though it might be a late night for you, there's absolutely no excuse.

And, if you want to call in, please remember to turn down your radio.

Dinner last night: Hunan Beef at First Szechwan Wok.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Writing Rule # 375

It's time.

I'm finally going to delve a bit into my other writing world. The one that's not usually displayed here in the slapdash blogging universe. I'll start to let you peek behind the curtain a bit. And I'll start with what I call "writing rules." How they are usually adhered to. And, frequently, how they are shamelessly broken.

Let's start with Rule # 375.

Don't overwrite when you find yourself with an actor and a character that have meshed perfectly.

Huh, you say?

You know what I'm talking about. There are times in television when a supporting actor blends so marvelously with a minor character that the show involved begins to shift focus and concentrate on that person. It's what "I Love Lucy" writer Madelyn Pugh Davis termed for me "serendipity." The words you write become even more special because they are coming out of a marriage that is so uniquely perfect in union. For a writer, it becomes a new toy that you refuse to put away. To the exclusion of every other plaything in your closet.

I know the feeling. It's like going through the quarters for your laundry and finding a rare gold coin. When we were doing table reads for a sitcom project we had, there was an incredibly minor and recurring character of a kitchen worker named Raul. He had two throwaway lines and exited stage left. One of our regular actresses brought her actor-friend along to read the part. As soon as he opened his mouth, Raul came to glorious life. We all looked at each other as if we had discovered a shoebox full of money in our closet. In subsequent episodes and table reads, we gave Raul more to do. Not so much that it upset the balance of the whole concept. And therein lies the writer's dilemma. When you fall in love with a minor character, how do you know when too much is too much?

It's a very fine line to walk. You want to go for the gusto, but, like rich chocolate, one piece too many could make you sick.

The writers of "The Golden Girls" dealt with it beautifully. As written in the pilot, the character of Sophia Petrillo was not a central figure amongst the ladies in that Florida house. But, Estelle Getty popped on that wig and hit her few lines right out of the park. Before you knew it, Sophia was popping into the action five or six times per episode. She'd say something outlandish and leave. Meanwhile, the audience was breathlessly waiting almost immediately for her very next entrance.

It would have been natural for the writers to start gravitating more and more toward Sophia. But, since the rest of the ensemble cast was so good as well, they never felt the need to hop on that crutch. They were confident that, even if Estelle Getty wasn't on screen, they still had Beatrice Arthur, Rue McClanahan, and the seemingly eternal Betty White to deliver the goods. They stayed true to their concept and used Sophia as an added weekly bonus. The writers got to have their cheesecake and eat it too.

Now, let's go the wrong way in the wrong direction. Remember the lamentable "Mary Tyler Moore" spin-off "Phyllis?" That was a mistake even before cameras rolled. As great as Cloris Leachman was in a terrific role, Phyllis was too annoying a character to be focused on every single week. Again, one chocolate nougat too many. But, early on in the program's two year run, the writers introduced the minor character of 87-year-old Mother Dexter, played delightly by veteran Broadway actress Judith Lowry. A foxy old broad who was always saying the most outrageous things. She showed up two or three times and you can actually hear the writers start to salivate off-camera.

I just revisited this series on one of those obscure cable networks that specialize in seldomly rerun sitcoms. You can see how the producers began to work in Mother Dexter more and more. Partly because the character was so much fun. Mainly because they had nothing else that was working with the show.

Eventually, the only reason to watch the show was to see Mother Dexter. A good thing and a bad thing. Because, sometime midway through the second season, Judith Lowry dropped dead on a Greenwich Village street and, consequently, the "Phyllis" series stopped breathing as well. There were a few Mother Dexter episodes still in the can. After that, America stopped watching all together and Phyllis Lindstrom might as well have moved back to Minneapolis and Mary Richards.

All of this comes to the forefront for me one more time because I see the telltale warning signs of overuse and overwriting right now on my current favorite sitcom, "The Big Bang Theory." I've written about that show here before. It is simply the smartest and more original television situation comedy in years with a runaway tour de force performance by Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper, the 21st Century ultra-mensa edition of Felix Unger.

From the very first frame of the series, Parsons began to steal the show in a way not even the producers probably imagined. When that fat load Alex Baldwin finally decides to quit acting and move Canada, Jim will begin to collect a healthy set of Emmy Awards for this mantlepiece.

But, as I watched the past third season of TBBT, I discovered that the almost impossible is happening. Ever so slightly, but happening nonetheless. As the writers tend to focus more and more and more on Sheldon, I am beginning to feel that the character is becoming a little annoying.

And it doesn't have to be that way.

Unlike as was the case on "Phyllis," there is plenty of other great arsenal on TBBT. The concept is still vital. The rest of the characters can be terrific and the casting is spot-on. With Parsons committing grand theft larceny on a weekly basis, Johnny Galecki as Leonard seems to get less to do. And I'm not sure the writers even realize what a godsend they have with Kaley Cuoco as Penny, who is the glue on this show much in the same way as Audrey Meadows held together "The Honeymooners" and Patricia Heaton kept the crowd in check on "Everybody Loves Raymond."

Now, I'm not advocating a total avoidance of Sheldon. Just temper it a bit. In the long run, it will be the difference whether "The Big Bang Theory" has a nine-year primetime life or one that fizzles out in Season 4 or 5.

All they have do is read this blog. And pay attention to Writing Rule # 375.

By the way, producers, we are available.

Dinner last night: Grilled bratwurst sandwich from Clementine's.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Come Blow Your Wednesday

Vuvuzela, vuvuzela, vuvuzela!

---For the uneducated, that's a 35 point word in Scrabble for horn, horn, horn.

---It's amazing that most people can't spell the easiest of words, yet they have no problem getting this one right.

---It's just as crazy in NY. Bars opened at 9AM because one of the World Cup games was on.

---Just how well does a banana nut muffin go with beer?

---This soccer shit will be over soon, right?

---Separated at birth: Boston Celtic coach Doc Rivers and renowned TV dummy Knucklehead Smiff.

---Actually, they're both dummies.




---By the way, is downtown LA still on fire?

---I can remember the day when, if your team won a championship, you bought a pennant on the way home.

---Now, you steal a pennant on the way home. And break several windows.

---And punch a few people.

---And set a taxicab on fire.

---The American way to say "Yea Team!"

---As I wrote the other day, you will note that this happens mostly with pro basketball.

---Am I profiling? You betcha your boots.

---But, then again, I'm the guy that's anxiously awaiting the introduction of White History Month.

---From the Hmmmmm Department: Eight dead among 52 people shot over the weekend in Chicago.

---Virtually all of them live...drum roll, please...on the South Side.

---Obummer's old stomping grounds.

---As I said...

---Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.

---And now please try this video on for size.

---This poor cop is in for it now. Charges of police brutality. Racism. You name it.

---But, when you look at it, can you blame him for doing what he did?

---These two bitches were resisting arrest. Punch in the mouth? She's lucky she didn't get a bullet in the head.

---Maybe it's me, but when a police officer tells me to do something, I do it.

---Hell, even Abbott and Costello used to pay attention to Mike the Cop.

---Maybe Obummer can invite the policeman and these two cows to the White House for a Mountain Dew summit.

---He must have some sort of teachable moment from this video.

---Here's my teachable moment: if this happens again, the cop needs to remember he has a weapon in his holster.

---Only in America...

---But this is a sport I could get into.

---Sock-Her.

---When is Business Class not roomy? When the guy next to you is an obese Mexican who needs one of those "Extend-a-Belts."

---He literally did not fit into a business class seat. He chuckled to me in broken English, "I guess I need to go to a gym."

---Er, Tubby, a gym will do nothing. I'd suggest the following:

---Lapband.

---A lifetime moratorium on breakfast burritos.

---Fasting for six months.

---And definitely stay off most modes of transportation.

---He was served the chicken pot pie for his meal and then called the flight attendant over to announce he thought it was something else.

---It was printed in the menu. How can you confuse chicken pot pie??

---Then, two hours into the flight, Senor Fat Slob decides he wants the aisle seat instead of the window.

---"Let him sit next to the window."

---Him, meaning me.

---I looked at the flight attendant and announced that Him was happy where he was.

---And I certainly wasn't going to move to a seat that his ass had been warming to several degrees short of Hell for two hours.

---As we were landing in LA, he peered out the window. And essentially created a total eclipse over Southern California.

---Meanwhile, it's fun on these flights watching all the goofballs tune in to their wi-fi and watch those flight trackers to see where our plane is.

---Just where the hell do you think the plane would be, dumbbells?

---A fun practical joke would be for one of those websites to make it appear that your plane is flying somewhere over Bolivia.

---The only trouble is that I'd still be in Seat 10H. Next to Two Ton Tamale.

Okay, I've offended enough for today.

Dinner last night: Roast beef sandwich.



Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Yea! I Finished Another Book: Game Change

Wow, after lambasting my reading habits, I've finished and posted on two books within three weeks, I'm really truckin' now.

Well, not really.

While it took about three hours to finish Carol Burnett's new book, I started reading "Game Change" four months ago. I could only deal with a chapter or two at a sitting. Not that it was badly written or uninteresting. As I slowly turned page after page, an overall sensation would come over me every time I cracked the book open.

Sadness.

You probably know that John Heilemann and Mark Halperin's tome is a thorough account of the 2008 Presidential campaign. By and large, the authors' journal is fairly non-partisan and even-handed. They do get sucked into a little bit of the Obummer wild-eyed frenzy by the last few chapters, but, for the most part, they manage to keep an even keel on their ramblings.

Now, normally, I'm a sucker for anything to do with Presidential history and, particularly, the election process. Perhaps, some of my very favorite reading moments in life came with renowned author Theodore White's books on the Presidential elections of 1960, 1964, 1968, and 1972. These were austere accounts about our most unique and privileged rights as an American citizen---choosing a leader of the free world. Say what you want about Kennedy, Nixon, Johnson, and the like, there was still a leadership quality to these men that made you respect the office of the Chief Executive.

Unfortunately, that is gone. Maybe forever.

The folks involved in the 2008 Presidential race are not people to be admired. Or respected or revered or even liked. They are now more than ever cheap and dirty politicians. Hucksters. Concerned not with doing a job, but simply getting one and keeping it. Each and every one of them are shameful individuals not even worthy to be running a high school glee club, let alone the greatest free nation in the world.

"Game Change" gives you titilation, both literally and figuratively. You read about lowlife John Edwards and his affair. You realize that, ultimately, you can't blame him for his indiscretion after you meet his wife who is a shrill harpie reminiscent of a Shakespearean villain. John McCain? An addled fool who couldn't make up his mind about which socks to wear to the morning press briefing. His selection of Sarah Palen as his running mate was a mistake as she was ill-prepared to be in that role.

The authors tell us of a very significant innovation presented to McCain by his aides early on in the campaign. Given his advanced age, they suggest to the candidate that he publicly announce that he is seeking one term only as President. They tell him to say that he is focusing on the job, not getting re-elected. The old goat ultimately refuses. Even in his 70s, he wants to think about keeping the position longterm. What a complete tool!

As for the Democrats, they are no better. "Game Change" illuminates in detail all the sniping between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obummer. Indeed, all the pre-election allegations by Hillary ring true today. But, the community organizer gets a pass on everything basically because he played the race card very early on in the campaign. Subtlely and smartly, Obummer let it be known that, if you don't like him, you simply must be a racist. Hillary and Hubby didn't stand a chance. And, of course, they wind up as the biggest Obummer supporters. Blatant hypocrisy on the highest level of steroids allowed. We laughingly think to ourselves, "well, that's just politics." Perhaps that's the most depressing point made in "Game Change." All of us are the ultimate losers every single election day.

As for Obummer in this book, all the scandals are brought up in detail but generally dismissed. Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, his lack of experience. No one seemed to care. It's now 2010 and, in hindsight, we now see clearly what happens when the electorate votes with their heart, rather than their head. By the time you get to the end of "Game Change," you discover with mortification that the joke's been played on us. Because when it comes to greatness, our President is nothing more than a curbside pile freshly squeezed out of a dog's ass. Still, he's no different than anybody else.

I think I'm done reading about the current political scene. Moving forward, I'll stick to Presidential history starting with Kennedy and moving backwards.

Dinner last night: Leftover sausage and peppers.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday Morning Video Laugh - June 21, 2010

I still miss this show desperately. A wonderful scene shown here before. Ray and Debra learn that his parents are being kicked out of the senior citizens facility they have moved to.


Dinner last night: Chicken Scarpariello at Gianna's in Yonkers.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Sunday Memory Drawer: Thinking About Dad

Today is Father's Day and the annual rotation is such that it would have provided me with a double whammy. Not only is today Paternal Recognition Day but it also would have been my dad's 90th birthday.

Here he sits for some school photo. I can't tell his age in his snapshot, but he might be younger than the fancy suit would suggest. Is it graduation? Confirmation? Who knows? There is really nobody around that I can ask.

Indeed, if Dad were around, I still might not know. Because he never did share any personal information. As were most of the people on his side of the family, silence was golden. Words were few. The showing of emotions was limited at best or worst. And, as a kid in the middle of all this, this just contributed to an ongoing confusion.

With regard to my father, I'd pick up little snippets that somehow got past the verbal censor and run with that knowledge because it was so infrequent. I remember once seeing Dad talk to a woman while he was picking me up from Sunday school. He said her name was Muriel. When I mentioned this to my mother later at home, she sneered.

"That's your father's old girlfriend."

Oh? Well, there's a little something to chew on.

When I had to learn how to type for school, my folks bought me a Smith Corona electric typewriter. Naturally, I hit a lot of speed bumps as I learned to use it. My dad slipped behind the machine and typed like a banshee. Wow. I later told my mother about Dad's typing prowess.

"Well, after the war ended, he went to school and was going to become a court stenographer."

Oh? Another little something to chew on. I asked what happened to that career choice.

"You'll have to ask him."

Of course, I didn't. Because you just didn't.

I wondered about all this pent-up emotion in my father that was destined to make him, in my mind, explode. This can't be good to hold it all in. I started to obsess that he would have a heart attack and die. Every time he was the slightest bit tardy returning from work or the store, I was convinced that he had collapsed dead in some very public place and an ominous phone call was coming momentarily.

I was a weird kid, but, then again, you can see a little bit of the reason why.

This is not to say that I didn't get the usual treatment most sons would get from their fathers. Catches in the driveway, ball games in the summer, movies in the winter. He'd take me to all the war movies. The Longest Day, Guns of Navarone, The Great Escape. I remember him taking me to see the wonderfully funny Operation Petticoat. My father was convulsed in laughter. I enjoyed watching him laugh as much as I did the film itself. You didn't see any kind of emotion often.

A year or two after he died, I had developed a communication with his late brother's former fiancee, Stella. This was the brother killed in France two weeks before WWII ended in Europe and the person I would be named after. During my dad's last years, Stella had resurfaced and spent a lot of time on the phone with him reminiscing. I kept up the dialogue until she herself passed away.

Well, at one point, Stella shared with me some details on her marriage to another guy about two years after my "uncle" was killed. Our entire family was invited and showed up en masse. Apparently, as Stella told it, my father pulled her aside for a moment. And started to sob uncontrollably.

"We're so sorry. We really wanted you in our family."

I was astounded. I didn't know the person in this tale. But, that kind of emotion was possible. Rare. But possible.

I still clamor for more stories like this. They don't come. I fret over the questions I never asked. There is one contemporary of my parents still alive. My father's cousin is still with us in her 90s. But, she no longer remembers who she is.

Some memory drawers will just never be opened again.

If you're lucky and your particular older generation is still around, ask the questions. And ask them soon.

As for me, there is today and a visitation to Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale. I'll ask again. And the silence will continue.

Happy Birthday, Dad. You were still special to me.

Dinner last night: The glorious sausage and peppers at Carlo's in Yonkers.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Classic TV Theme of the Month - June 2010

For Pete's sake, how many times can she re-purpose the same damn song?


Dinner last night: Cold cut and salad plate.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Lakers Win, Mobs Rule - A Len Speaks Bonus Post

Why is it that sports fans can't celebrate pleasantly? Here's a snapshot of some barbarians in downtown LA last night as the Lakers put away the NBA Finals.

Windows were broken, street lights bent, and a taxi was set on fire. Who the hell burns a cab anymore??? The cherry on the sundae? One poor SOB was beaten unconscious.

And this just in from our Profiling Department. Okay, folks, now look at this picture closely.

Find me one person in the photo who's not Hispanic or Black. Go ahead. I dare you. I double dare you. I triple dare you. Look at any of the pictures of the riots outside the Staples Center last evening. You'll see the same thing I see.

And this happens every year after the NBA Finals. Doesn't really happen with baseball or football. Not to this blazing extent.

So, be my guest and connect the dots.

Now, who thinks Arizona is wrong?


Your Weekend Movie Guide for June 2010

The good news about the movie business these days is that you can do one of these weekend movie guides on either coast and still find the same shit.

The photo above is another childhood memory long gone. I was in this theater to see "The Longest Day" with my dad. I think it's a McDonald's now.

And here's some of the chopped chuck that you'll find at the local multiplex near you. The drill works the same here in NY as it does when I write it up in LA. I'll sift through the newspaper movie pages and give you my slapdash, kneejerk reaction to the crap unspooling on our screens. By and large, garbage stinks just the same, regardless of the time zone.

Sex and the City 2: It's been out several weeks and I doubt that it's gotten any better. The only reason why a guy should see this movie is if he wants to write a snarky blog entry.

Get Him to the Greek: More vile comedy for the mentally underage. With Jonah Hill and Russell Brand, who might be one of the most offensive comics working today. It got positive reviews and that's another hallmark that tells me critics no longer can judge film comedies.

Prince of Persia, the Sands of Time: Here's a handy barometer to use when judging movies to see. If the title sounds like a history essay question, don't bother.

The Karate Kid: A needless remake of a perfectly mediocre movie the first time around. I must admit to being a fan of the Ralph Macchio/Pat Morita version. This time, Will Smith trucks out his kid to add to the family fortune. Meanwhile, the fact that the Smiths have a child at all is a miracle. Given that Dad is gay and Mom is a lesbian. Or so says most hair stylists in Los Angeles, including mine.

Iron Man 2: I saw it. Not as good as the first one, but have no fear. There will probably be about two dozen more.

The A-Team: A C-movie. I can think of about ten other TV shows that deserve to go to the big screen ahead of this piece of junk. But I might be alone in hoping to see "One Day at a Time: The Movie."

Shrek Forever After: I saw the first two and have not bothered to approach the third. Perhaps, it's because neither of the other movies stayed with me more than five minutes after they ended. I know Shrek is some big green thing. Other than that, it's all forgotten.

Toy Story 3: I will be there to see it at the El Capitan in Hollywood as soon as the crowds of squealing children thin out. Can I humbly suggest that theaters make it available in an evening "adults-only" showing. I love this franchise. The only thing I ever enjoyed Tom Hanks in.

Marmaduke: With Owen Wilson in the title role. And people wonder why he tried to commit suicide.

Splice: Adrien Brody creates a chicken-legged humanoid. Which begs the question...what came first, the chicken or the humanoid?

Solitary Man: Michael Douglas as a NY car dealer making a mess of his life. Frankly, I'd like to see a documentary. Michael Douglas playing himself and making a mess of his son.

Robin Hood: Russell Crowe joins a long line of actors who have played this role. Given that the original, Errol Flynn, was the best, there never should have been a long line in the first place. Hollywood continues to amaze me with their complete lack of new ideas.

Joan Rivers - A Piece of Work: Indeed she is. I saw this last weekend and it is a remarkable snapshot of a talent who is insecure, driven, pathetic, and brilliant all at once. I've always been a fan. I've seen her live probably a half dozen times. I was never disappointed. But, admittedly, Joan can be quite polarizing. But who else would call somebody the day after 9/11 and ask if they should go have lunch at Windows on the Ground?

Jonah Hex: What could be possibly worse than a Josh Brolin western? Probably one starring his father.

Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky: Something tells me this is not a comedy starring Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher. Yawn.

Killers: This is a comedy starring Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher. Double yawn.

Cyrus: Here's your second chance this weekend to avoid a comedy starring Jonah Hill. Please take it.

Ondine: Colin Farrell as a fisherman who discovers a possible mermaid. There's already a Black remake being filmed as we speak in the Gulf of Mexico.

Micmacs: Those little statues my mother had around the house. No, wait, those were knick knacks. In that case, I got nothing.

Letters to Juliet: Sending it back postage due.

The Killer Inside Me: Casey Affleck as a murderous smalltown sheriff. With OJ Simpson as Deputy Barney Fife.

Dinner last night: Roast beef with German potato salad and cole slaw.



Thursday, June 17, 2010

Who The Hell is Jonathan Goldsmith?

I used to be pretty up on pop culture. I knew who was hot and who was not. Whether I liked a celebrity or not, I had a sense of who they were and what they were doing.

No more.

Last Saturday, I was getting my hair cut and was flipping through one of those star magazines that are the primary reading/looking at pictures material in most salons. As I snapped through one page after another, I realized that I had no fucking clue who any of the people were. What is a Niecy Nash? What is a Jake Pavelka? And is there anybody out there who gives a damn about anybody named Kardashian?

Admittedly, I'm now a snob. I don't go to movies on opening weekend. I rarely give a new TV show more than two weeks to hook me. And I stopped listening to any music written after 1999.

Retiring to the comfort of Dodger Stadium on Sunday, I felt assured that I certainly would know all the people there that day. And then it happened. Out to throw out the ceremonial first pitch...

Famed actor Jonathan Goldsmith.

WHO??????????

To make my ignorance even more embarrassing, the crowd around me screamed wildly.

WHO?????????

I looked at my seatmate for help. None was offered.

Meanwhile, Goldsmith bounced the ball to the plate and more wild cheers.

Later on, Goldsmith was on Diamondvision, reading the Dodgers' code of fan conduct. The fans went nuts again.

I sat there wondering just which year I had slept through.

To add some more lye into my open mental sore, they put this guy on the big screen once again as he had nestled into his comfy box seats behind home plate. The crowd cheered. He stood and acknowledged them. Several times. The audience wasn't simply milked. They had been churned into heavy cream.

I was so addled that, as soon as I got home, I had to look this dope up on imdb.com. Hmmm. No current series. Never a regular series role. No blockbuster movie on his resume. He did a few weeks on Knots Landing, which would mean I actually watched this man act. After all, when I was totally TV-saavy, I had watched all 341 episodes of Knots. What was I missing? And then I got it.


He is the spokesman on Dos Equis Beer commercials. He's seventy-two and has parlayed nothing into less than nothing. And is now world-famous. Or, at least, among Mexican beer drinkers.

I suddenly was ashamed to be on this planet.

Digging a little deeper, this numbskull is now calling himself "The Most Interesting Man in the World." According to who? Well, Jonathan Goldsmith. Look at this tool's website and he creates the following montage of everything that clearly defines Jonathan Goldsmith.

To top it all off, he acknowledges that the voice he uses on those commercials is an imitation of his old sailing partner, Fernando Lamas. So, indeed, his only claim to fame is mostly stolen from somebody else.

But, still, the crowd cheered wildly.

Every day and in every way, this country gets just a little more stupid.

Dinner last night: Turkey burger and salad at the NY domicile.




Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Gulf of Wednesday

And they thought Bill Clinton was slick.

---Obummer's on the case now. Making speeches about the oil leak. Inviting BP to the White House. I feel so much better now.

---POTUS says all that seafood is still safe to eat.

---As long as you like your salmon in a light petroleum sauce.

---The Chief Executive says you can still vacation on the Gulf Coast.

---Sure, if you want to go swimming in the water and come out looking like Al Jolson in "The Jazz Singer."

---Obummer says that recovery won't be quick. "I can't suck it up with a straw."

---Gee, Mr. President, I disagree. From what I can see, you're sucking pretty good these days.

---You know your Presidency is conflicted when you start wondering what Herbert Hoover would do in the same situation.

---And it's been an even worse week if you're a politician from one of the moronic Carolina states. Take, for instance, Alvin Green.---This jerk just won the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat from South Carolina. And he did it with no money and little campaigning. 59% of the voters went for him.

---Despite a felony obscenity charge.

---And embezzling allegations.

---And media interviews that made him sound like he was drunk.

---How stupid is the state of South Carolina?

---Apparently as stupid as the guy they may have just sent to the US Senate.

---Well, for once, we find out how inept and corrupt a Black elected official is before he gets the job.

---Now, let's take a gander at this North Carolina congressman, Democrat Bob Etheridge as he's approached by a student reporter.

---Etheridge later apologized. He was "having a bad day."

---Hopefully, there will be another one for this shithead in the future. When the authorities come to arrest him for assault and battery.

---And sagging cheeks.

---Ladies and gentlemen, these are your elected officials.

---May all of them be forced to go to a World Cup soccer match. And they have seats next to the horn section.

---I love all these idiots who are following these soccer games. The same people who wouldn't be caught dead at a game when they tried to make it a league sport here in America.

---Last week, when Mexico was playing, I'm betting you couldn't find a single person in a mailroom anywhere in California.

---All these numbskulls watch these games and root for the team of their homeland. Meanwhile, they wouldn't live there again on a bet.

---It's now three days after Puerto Rican Day in NY. Ladies, it is once again safe to walk the streets of Manhattan.

---That's another group of kooks who look so fondly on their native land, but wouldn't dare live there now.

---Great line from Joan Rivers in the new documentary on her: Since the Obamas are always trying to emulate the Kennedys in the White House, would it be okay to give Michelle a new nickname?

---"Blackie O."

---You can get in trouble these days for jokes like that.

---Not on this blog. Not in my house.

---Watching the NBA Finals, I just know that all those players on both sides are as dumb as a post.

---"Okay, guys, which one of you has read a book in the last year. A show of hands, please."

---Er, I see none.

---"Five years?"

---Er, I see no hands.

---You can probably extend that to the announcers as well. I'm pretty sure Magic Johnson never passed a math quiz.

---And neither did that Celtic coach Doc Rivers. When they miked one of his team huddles, he sounded like a train conductor making one of those garbled announcements on the D train.

---"Uh, passengers, the next stop is....muffle, muffle, scratch, muffle, scratch."

---Will somebody finally put a match to Red Sox and Celtic Nation? Boston, we are officially done with your bitching and moaning.

---And can't they do something about that annoying accent once and for all?

---I mean there are dialect coaches who can help you stop sounding Spanish or French or British. Why can't we find somebody that will help you stop telling us where you pahked your cahr?

---Well, at least, they got to practice their "Beat LA" chants for Manny Ramirez' homecoming at Fenway this weekend.

---I predict that Manny will laugh in their faces and hit the cover off the ball.

---Of course, I also predicted that Larry King would finally find happiness after his fifth marriage.

---Speaking of which, one day after his estranged wife tried to commit suicide, I saw Larry and his young son trolling the stands at Dodger Stadium.

---I guess that, after doctors pumped her stomach, there was no real reason for them to hang around the hospital.

---Well, at least, they didn't try to take pictures of it. Unlike Gary Coleman's rat bastard of a wife...

---Well, at least, we can be grateful that she didn't drag his half-dead carcass down to Woolworth's so they could get five photos for a quarter in one of those booths.

---Another undignified ending for a beleaguered Black child star/icon. Now they're fighting over whether to cremate him or not.

---Sound familiar?

---They did finally bury Michael, right?

---Or are we due for another burial service on the anniversary of his murder?

---The Jackson family really missed a promotional bonanza. Every year, they get some press as they bury Michael one body part at a time.

---Sadly, country singer Jimmy Dean died and Rowlf the puppet is being sedated as we speak.

---Dean died in his eighties and that's hopefully what happens if you eat a lot of sausage.

---Because, as regular readers know...

---I eat a lot of sausage.

For instance...

Dinner last night: Leftover turkey sausage and vegetables.

And tomorrow? From NYC!!!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Saul and Heshe Kibitz About the Tony Awards

Our two favorite oldtime Hollywood Jews, Saul and Heshe, were watching the Tony Awards on television Sunday night and here's what they had to say the next morning over scrambled eggs at Nate N' Al's Delicatessen in Beverly Hills.

"Oy vey. This is why I don't go to Broadway anymore."

"Yeah, I used to take the wife every summer for a couple of shows. Now all she wants to do is have a knish at the Carnegie and spend off my IRA at Loehmann's."

"Last time I took the missus for a Broadway trip, she came home with no Playbill and a two gallon tin full of M & Ms. Which she needs like I need a pastrami on rye at midnight."

"My wife doesn't even know what the Tonys are. She still thinks it's a home permanent."

"Did you watch those production numbers on the awards show? Noise like you wouldn't believe. Do we have Arthur Freed on speed dial?"

"These are musicals? Vey iz mir. Merman is rolling over in her shroud."

"Who the hell is Green Day?"

"Doris' kid?"

"Something called American Idiot. What is this? Another show about George Bush with that schmuck Will Ferrell?"

"The noise sounded like when my housekeeper Consuelo can't find the right frying pan."

"And the dancing. Such a mess. Fey. It's not like they had Gene Kelly or that nice boy Michael Kidd."

"It's all acrobats. Like a bunch of Russian midgets on the Ed Sullivan Show. Hello, Cyd Charisse? Are you still available?"

"She's dead."

"Go on. I just saw her at Rite Aid."

"That wasn't Cyd. That was Richard Benjamin. You always get those two mixed up."

"And one of the musicals nominated was something called Fela."

"Like the cheese?"

"No. Fela."

"Like FDR's dog?"

"Oy, no. It was some African mishagoss."

"You pay 125 dollars for a ticket. You can see the same nonsense outside of the Port Authority Bus Terminal."

"Such ugly costumes on those schvatz. Looked like the Eartha Kitt estate sale."

"All these musicals now are all about how rock and roll started. Jersey Boys? About those four guindaloons from Newark. Memphis? Same thing."

"Call me when they do a Broadway musical on how they discovered Dino, Desi, and Billy."

"That production number from La Cage Aux Folles, did you see? Lots of ugly women in that chorus."

"Those were men."

"Oh, for a minute, I thought Patti Lu Pone was working again."

"Did you see Valerie Harper and Linda Lavin nominated? Hello, Rhoda. Hello, Alice."

"What? Bonnie Franklin couldn't get a play? She's so busy?"

"Maybe she's dead."

"No, I saw her at Walgren's. Or maybe that was Donny Most. I always get them mixed up."

"Angela Lansbury is holding up well, no?"

"One-A-Day Vitamins for Women. I think Abe Lincoln saw her in Mame."

"Of course, they had to drag out some of those alta kockers from Glee. They are performing everywhere these days."

"I'll bet they did a number at Lena Horne's funeral."

"What about Sean Hayes as the host?"

"Fagila."

"If you're going to be a little light in the loafers, you better have good writers for the monologue."

"Where are Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie when you really need them?"

"Maybe we should produce a play and win the Tony for next year."

"Yeah, it's so easy. You put in a shwug, you give them AIDs, and let them bitch about the government. Hoo hoo hoo. That's what they call drama."

"We win the big prize and go to Sardi's for a smart cocktail."

"Maybe add a little music and we could go double or nothing. Win Best Musical."

"Let's call Johnny Mercer and ask him."

"He's dead."

"Go on, I saw him at Cyd Charisse's house just last Thursday."

Dinner last night: Turkey sausage, rice, and broccoli.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday Morning Video Laugh - June 14, 2010

I started a trend. The video from several weeks ago, now called "Scarlet Takes a Tumble," has become an internet rage. Here's a different version of the same hilarity.

But, even better now, folks are taping their reactions to this as they watch Scarlet. Even funnier than the original.


Dinner last night: Ham sandwich.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Touching Something I Shouldn't

Bear with me. We're going to circle the block a couple of times before we stop at our primary destination. But, as the picture above shows, we have the ideal vehicle to travel in. This 1956 Buick.

In the same manner in which I have not driven anything but a Toyota, my father relied on Buick for all his automobile needs. While the design changed from year to year, our family car was always the same. A big, roomy, often clunky Buick. Such loyalty to an American car manufacturer would be rare today.

Sunday afternoons were usually "let's take a ride" day. Sometimes, the cemetery. Other times, we'd pile in to call on a relative. Maybe as far as Suffolk County to see my mother's sister and my cousins there. Often the trips were so spontaneous that nobody bothered to check first if anybody was home. But, mostly, these sneak attacks were provided with a 24 hour warning. Mom would call on Saturday.

"You home tomorrow?"

That's the way it was done. We'd crowd into whatever Buick we had at the time. Sometimes even my dog Tuffy came along. She's hop up on the back window for some sun. Inevitably, Dad would have to stop short at some point and the dog would go flying off onto the floor of the back seat. No worries. She'd shake it off and jump back to her perch.

A lot of the people we visited on Sundays were sometimes not relatives. To this day, I don't know how my folks were connected to some of them. Maybe they were friends from childhood or school. Or work. I had no clue, except I frequently got thrown together with their kids and was told to become an instant lifelong friend. Indeed, after I hit my teen years, I don't think I saw any of these pals ever again. And, frankly, my parents stopped hanging with their parents as well.

I recently found a photo of one bunch that I had to commune with. Their parents were Joe and Dotty. The boy's name was Joseph. I'm looking at the girls and drawing a complete blank. Sally? Eileen? Myrtle? I got nothing. But, there I was cavorting around a pool with my best friends for life. Meanwhile, our folks are off to the side someplace. Smoking, drinking beer, and playing cards.

This family lived in Floral Park out on Long Island and I dreaded our Sunday excursions there. Beyond the kids I was forced to play with, the dad was a little, well, creepy. A few years before, he had been involved in an accident at work. The result? He lost the middle three fingers of one hand. Seriously. In between the pinky and the thumb, he had three small stumps. Invariably, when we would sit down to dinner, my place setting was always right next to his hand. I couldn't stand looking at him. And, at the same time, I couldn't stop.

Can we go home yet?

One day, I was particularly bored by all this. My nine-year-old little mind needed a change of scenery. I certainly wanted to get away from the amazing non-hand. I sought some alone time in Dad's Buick parked at the curb.

It was a hot day as I sat behind the steering wheel and pretended to drive far, far away from Stumpy. I wanted some fresh air, so I rolled down the window. Yep, this was the days before electric controls. Then I decided to roll up the window. Roll down. Roll up. Roll down. Roll up.

On the last roll up, my right hand was where it shouldn't be.

I rolled the window up on my fingers. And suddenly had no clue how to extricate myself from this mess. I had only one resource.

I screamed.

And screamed.

And screamed.

Unfortunately, everybody in Stumpy's house had gone out to the backyard.

I was stuck for probably no more than five minutes. But, it seemed like days before anybody heard me. My dad and Stumpy came running out of the backyard. The Jaws of Life were not needed. My dad simply got into the car and lowered the window. And I got one of the standard childhood reprimands.

"Stop touching things."

Check.

I was more embarrassed than in pain. I looked up at Stumpy who had a huge grin on his face. He found humor in it all.

"If you're not careful, you're going to wind up like me!"

He held his non-hand up in front of my eyes. It was like Frankenstein had popped out of the bushes in a horror movie. I wanted to scream all over again. But simply recoiled in silence. I looked longingly at my father.

CAN WE PLEASE GO HOME NOW????

Dinner last night: Risotto with sausage and mushrooms at Fabiolus.




Saturday, June 12, 2010

Classic Newsreel of the Month - June 2010

Definitely a slow news week.



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


Friday, June 11, 2010

Sux and the City 2

That's not a typo in today's title. I stole it from the New York Post's review of this mess. If you think I'm not being original, wait till you see the film. On second and third thought, maybe you shouldn't.

But, oh, yeah, I did. See "Sex and the City 2." Another sterling example of the lengths I will go to in order to write a funny blog piece. I knew this thing would stink to high heaven and there's no way I can let that go by without a mention here.

I happened to be at the Arclight Cinemas the weekend "Sex and the City 2" opened. I was there to see the testosterone-laden "Iron Man 2." Nevertheless, the real show that night was watching the audiences file in for Carrie & Company. I saw it over and over. Four girls, maybe a token gay guy included, decked out to the nines in their best party dresses and their spikiest heels. Halloween came early and all the tricks were treats with estrogen.

The only problem was that none of these chicks could pull off the look. They were ultimately dateless and shapeless. Totally age and size inappropriate . Wow! Malfunction at the Sausage Factory! The meat's not fitting into the casing! It was as if Project Runaway was filmed at a Jenny Craig weigh-in.

Sad to say that the actresses in the movie couldn't pull it off either, but for entirely different reasons. They have all fallen victim to a common ailment known as television malaise. You see it all the time. Once a TV show gets to its sixth or seventh year, the actors start getting really bored. They're in it at this point for the dough only. So, they stop digging into their characters for subtle nuances. Instead, they go over the acting wall so many times that it's like the guards are asleep at Sing Sing. They overcompensate for their boredom by totally overplaying their parts. The result is endless histrionics.

That, my friends, is "Sex and the City 2." A movie that had no business being made except for the fact that the actresses all probably are having home kitchens remodeled. There is nothing new here and all of it is tragically pointless. They did it for the money and, unfortunately, there are plenty of badly dressed suckers born every minute. Over Memorial Day weekend, the movie cleaned up at the box office. But, so did the latest installment of Shrek and I would argue that those characters are better looking at this point.

Let's face it. These characters stopped being relevant ages ago. Their wardrobe choices are supposed to be hip. On a big screen, it looks like Edith Head has morphed into Bozo the Clown. One outfit is more hideous than the next. If anybody in New York City really does dress like this, I'm glad I moved.

There is the slimmest of plots with this second installment. Somehow and in some inexplicable way, this idiotic quartet winds up in Abu Dhabi, if for nothing else so they can use lines like "Bedouin, Bath, & Beyond" and "Abu Dhabi Doo." If the Mideast hates America now, wait till this shows up on some sheik's Netflix queue. If you think it's absolutely hysterical to walk some bitch in Jimmy Choo pumps walk across the desert, get your popcorn now with some extra butter. From the size of some of the cows I saw at my screening, they already did.

The writers concoct some flimsy reasons for the girls to be suffering through some post-30s angst, hilarious because the cast is all over 40. Carrie, in particular, is mad that now-hubby Mr. Big wants a flat screen TV in his bedroom. Looking at Sarah Jessica Parker's bust, I would contend there's a flat surface already there. Anyway, she's so unmoved by the husband that she runs into ex-lover Aidan in an Arabian market and winds up kissing him. This creates so much guilt that OJ Simpson would be envious. We get endless discussions about an idle kiss. Hello? It's not like Carrie stripped off her clothes and was riding the guy like Willie Shoemaker in the Belmont Stakes. You get the picture? There's no conflict anywhere in this movie, quite ironic since it was shot in the war-torn Mideast.

Again, we have Kim Cattrall trolling around and fucking the phone book. In this sequel, she gets up to the letter "N." Meanwhile, I don't think any guy in his right mind would want to be anywhere inside her. For God's sake, her cobwebs must have cobwebs. But, at regular intervals, she announces that her sexual prowess is all thanks to Suzanne Somers' new book on hormones. This is perhaps one of the most gratuitous product placements since Lucy and Ricky Ricardo were smoking Phillip Morris cigarettes over a game of bridge with the Mertzes.

But, wait, there's more. The first 45 minutes are devoted to a gay wedding, which is officiated by Liza Minnelli playing herself. The jokes come so fast to me that I wind up with a mental form of ice cream brain freeze. Meanwhile, will some nice dentist please step forward and fit Liza with a pair of dentures correctly? She is starting to sound like she took acting lessons from Elmer Fudd. She lisped so much the front row in the theater was actually getting wet.

"Sex and the City 2" mysteriously runs two-and-a-half-hours, which is about two-and-a-half-hours too long. Amazingly, about two hours in, there is a scene between Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis. They are having drinks in a bar and having a frank talk about juggling marriage and motherhood. It is so smart and organic that the scene itself appears to be a fugitive from a good script. Did it wander in from the multiplex screen next door? Because this scene actually has a good vibe, the sensation is jarring. I desperately wanted to see more of them. No worries. Thirty seconds later, I'm watching Kim Cattrall wrap her ankles around her ears one more time.

Sadly, five minutes of intelligence doesn't make up for the other one-hundred-and-forty-five minutes of sheer banality. It's time to take needle and thread to these fressers and sew up any currently used orefices. Next, they're liable to have them circle the globe in the space shuttle. My fear is that the actresses involved will next be renovating bathrooms and will need the money they get for doing a "Sex and the City 3."

Let's hope that their bathrooms look just fine as is.

Dinner last night: Chicken and spicy sesame noodles.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Len's Moron of the Month for June 2010

You annoy me, yeah, yeah, yeah. You annoy me, yeah, yeah, yeah.

And, Paul McCartney, that annoyance usually gets a special honor from me. You are the Moron of the Month for June 2010.

Oh, boy, I know I'm going to get some major shit for this. For some people, this will be like I'm renouncing God.

Trust me when I say that this has nothing to do with Paul McCartney the Beatle. I am a big, big, big fan. As long as it's about the wonderful music he gave us prior to 1969. Personally, everything they did afterwards during their hippie years sucks. Let It Be? I can't turn off the radio fast enough. The Long and Winding Road? It's a musical snooze alarm. And the dreadful Hey Jude? It's like a meat tenderizer repeatedly to the forehead.

Still, I'm a fan. I saw him in concert at Giants Stadium in the early 90s. That evening was part of one of his live albums, so, you're welcome, Paul, for the applause I contributed. Even some of the later Wings stuff is fun. Frankly, everything Paul has written since then has been absolute shit, but no worries. He's already done more than enough to merit his place in show business history.

Now all that's left for him is to keep his big bazoo shut.

You may have read that McCartney was just feted at a White House gala for getting some Library of Congress award. Blah, blah, blah. Lots of celebs and photo ops. Blah, blah, blah. Obummer and his clan up on the stage singing that infernal Hey Jude chorus. Blah, blah, blah. Paul took the opportunity to croon "Michelle" to Obummer's ball and chain and this probably melted the glue holding in her hair extensions.

It was a lovefest.

Until Paul opened his piehole to speak.

He announced he was delighted to get the award from "this" President. Uh huh. We got it, Paul. You have a political thought in your head. But, then, he added that the "last" President probably didn't even know what a library is.

Oh, guffaw, guffaw. You've made a joke, Paul. And a really cheap one. As well as thoroughly distasteful and inappropriate given that he was standing in the Chief Executive's home at the time.

Oh, I like a "George Bush is an idiot" joke as much as the next guy. I personally enjoy a "Barack Obama is an incompetent" joke more, but that's my preference. Gags about the President of the United States have historical roots. From Bob Hope to Vaughn Meader to Johnny Carson, the freedom to crack wise about POTUS is what makes this country great.

The smarmy "library" crack, albeit obvious and terribly unclever, is perfectly fine if you're on TV yucking it up with that asshole Bill Maher or the growing-more-unctuous-by-the-minute Jon Stewart Leibowitz (yes, folks, he's pulling the wool over your eyes, too). But, the joke doesn't fly when you're standing in the White House ballroom. A building where Bush's portrait, like all other Presidents, hangs. Like him or not, this was not the forum for us to hear Paul McCartney's opinion on anything other than accepting this piece of shiny hardware.

Obummer laughed along at the gag and that's not unexpected since the last class he ever had was back in Harvard. He's a typical political hack who has no sensibility for American history whatsoever. But, McCartney should have known better...with a joke like that.

Paul's entitled to his opinion. I don't agree with it, but I still accept it. Hey, I love Barbra Streisand's singing talent, despite the fact that she's nothing more than a box of rocks whose sum total of education is two weeks of Hebrew School on Flatbush Avenue. You all can think and say whatever you want. Just pick your spots. And recognize that every single past President of the United States, whether it's Lincoln or Roosevelt or Hoover or Carter, deserves some level of respect. You want to trash one of them? Get yourself a blog entitled Paul Speaks.

Indeed, maybe Paul should concern himself with matters of more dire importance. Like the fact that his face is completely falling apart and starting to look like one of those Beatle wax figures at Madame Tussaud's and the temperature control is broken. Or maybe that, from what I have heard and seen on TV, it might be time to say goodbye to live performances. You can hide behind amplifiers and extended guitar riffs, but the voice is gone, pal. The only thing that's holding them together is the fact that his fans are standing there and playing old mental 8 track tapes in their head, just like Frank Sinatra's fan base ran to see him at the end even though he was singing "that's why the lady is a shoe."

Paul, you have a lot on your plate. Fretting over American government is something you should do in the privacy of one of your many homes.

Hey, this all might be moot. Maybe the real Paul did die in the late 60s and this is just his imposter who is my Moron of the Month for June 2010.

Dinner last night: Polish sausage at the Dodger game.



Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Helen Thomas' First Wednesday Off

But I doubt Ferris Bueller wants to hang with her.

---Thank God and good riddance. This fossil is gone.

---Now there's a new front row seat at White House press conferences.

---And it will be totally usable after they replace the springs. And fumigate.

---You just know Helen doesn't always make it to the bathroom in time.

---Here's somebody who should have been home soaking her feet years ago.

---She probably did her last unbiased reporting when Truman was playing the piano in the White House.

---I'm also guessing that she was regularly stealing sugar packets from the press cafeteria.

---Meanwhile, take another look at this picture. Are these reporters slobs or what? Newspapers thrown under the seat?

---Looks like Dodger Stadium after a 14 inning game. What? No half-eaten tray of nachos?

---And that's perfect for our transition to baseball talk. And an imperfect perfect game.

---You've already heard the hue and cry. Umpire Jim Joyce missed the call on the last out. And the fans booed him like he was an employee of BP.

---Of course, this spurred anew a wail for baseball to bring in more instant replay to the sport.

---Oh, shaddup. That kind of nonsense doesn't belong in baseball. It removes the human element from the game and that's one of the charms it has.

---And won't everybody miss yelling at the umpire?

---If they bring in tape replays and you don't like the end result, why are you going to yell? Kill the Cameraman?

---Sorry. I am a baseball purist. Life is all about making the right decision. And sometimes the wrong one.

---Hey, there's no instant replay available on Election Days.

---And, here's a very special Wednesday Morning Video Laugh. You might have heard that Obummer gave the commencement address at some Michigan high school on Monday. Well, watch the kid behind him.


---My God! That's his prime audience! If he can't keep this kid awake, Michelle might want to start packing now.

---WeGotBoxes.com, Michelle. They'll hook you up.

---And now we return you to your regularly scheduled Wednesday rant.

---Watching some of the NBA Finals, I am repulsed all over again by the excessive amount of body ink on these athletes.

---And nothing looks dumber or uglier than a tattoo on a Black guy.

---Why does anybody want to do that to their bodies? Because that extra large tattoo of a cross is going to look more like a triangle when you hit 60.

---Do any of these morons realize that a tattoo is permanent? It's not like you can remove it with some Handi-wipes.

---Meanwhile, as I was watching the NHL Finals...

---Oh, who am I kidding? I wasn't watching the NHL Finals. Tee hee.

---Sorry to confess that I am not one of the 10,000 hockey fans living in America.

---I have a bigger Christmas card mailing list.

---The oil spill continues.

---I know, I know. That's not news.

---Obummer was asked by one of his raggedy kids. "Daddy, did you fix the hole yet?

---How come she didn't ask, "Daddy, did you fix the fence yet?

Dinner last night: Pork confit at Tavern in Brentwood.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Passages on Passages

You know what they say about celebrity deaths? They come in threes. I've always been curious about this. Say, you're a Hollywood star feeling under the weather. Two other notables die. Do you start to worry about this uneasy feeling you're having in your stomach? Do you think that cough could become a bit more serious? Do you start to obsess about which other two stars you will enter the pearly gates with? Maybe it's somebody you really can't stand. Just some idle musings.

Of late, we've had a flurry from the Grim Reaper. Indeed, there have been five celebrity passages recently. All of them gave me an immediate knee jerk reaction or memory. A quick connection to something else that might have been on my mind.

While I didn't go to UCLA or know Coach John Wooden, I've heard that this is one of the nicest men you'd ever want to meet. Like the late Chick Hearn and Vin Scully, this was a man who was a very important thread in the fabric of Los Angeles.

I was at the Dodger game when they announced Wooden's passing. They did so by having Vin Scully, for only the second time ever, interrupt the game via Diamondvision. Immediately, the entire crowd stood as one in a very long and warm standing ovation. The applause did the impossible and usually unthinkable. It drowned out Vin's well-chosen words. And that shifted my thoughts to the man delivering the news on the big TV screen. And how sad I will be when the last part of that SoCal triumverate moves on himself.

Even though I'm not a pothead, I appreciate Dennis Hopper's work in film. Most particularly, I recall one of my favorite movies of all time. "Giant." Hopper had a supporting role in this as Rock Hudson's son. Thinking back to his plotline, he plays a young Texas doctor who endures lots of prejudice when he marries a Mexican from across the border. Hmmm. An early version of Arizona? A movie that is over fifty years old and it is now as timely as ever.

I was on-line at 35,000 feet when I saw that the "missus" pulled the plug on Gary Coleman. Lots of folks have viewed this as sad. I wondered what took so long. This sap was tagged with a tragic future when he was five years old. His passing, however, prompted a very bizarre comment from a much younger work colleague who was completely devastated that Gary was gone.

"My God, he was my entire childhood. My favorite show. Now I know how you must have felt when Lucy died."

Huh? First of all, thanks for the age reference, you dork. Just so you know, I watched "I Love Lucy" in daytime reruns. And are you even possibly connecting some sort of social significance to Gary Coleman as a major contributor to the television medium? You are kidding, right?

Rue McClanahan also just moved on and it's amazing that Betty White is the last Golden Girl standing. This was a phenomenal show that frequently gets overlooked when they talk about great sitcoms. Remember that all four of those gals won Emmys for their performances in that program. A true testimony to terrific acting.

Thinking about Rue, I remember a little piece of television trivia she and I shared. We appeared together in the only "Murphy Brown" episode either of us did. She was a guest star. I was simply hanging about for a few months, just getting my feet wet. But, as you see below, there's Candice Bergen, Rue McClanahan, and yours truly ambling by.

I introduced myself to her that week and she was wonderfully gracious. I do recall that, on show night, the studio audience did not know she was in the cast for that episode. When the FYI elevator doors opened and Rue entered for her first scene, there was a delighted gasp from the crowd and quite the spontaneous ovation. They had to stop filming. A great example of that very special connection between a solid professional and her adoring fanbase.

The recent Hollywood death that got little attention (save for me) was the passing of Dorothy De Borba.

Who, you say?

Her, I say. Look at the picture and you'll know.


Dorothy was part of that Our Gang cast that I just couldn't get enough of when I was a kid. Jackie Cooper, Mary, Wheezer, Farina, Miss Crabtree. Love 'em all! Dorothy was in one of my most favorite Our Gang shorts entitled "Love Business." As Chubby Ubbsy is cooing sweet nothings to a plastic mannequin, Dorothy is in the background adding her very special asides.

Chubby: Oh, my dear, hear the pleas in my whispers.

Dorothy: Oh, my dear, hear the fleas in my whiskers.

Chubby: If love is like a rose, I will nip my rose in the bud.

Dorothy: If love is like a rose, I will stick my nose in the mud.

Chubby: My heart is filled with joy. I want to trip and dance.

Dorothy: My heart is filled with joy. I want to rip my pants.

They don't make 'em like that anymore. Goodbye to all.

Dinner last night: Salami sandwich.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday Morning Video Laugh - June 7, 2010

Sue Simmons.....after all these years.

Dinner last night: Chicken sandwich.



Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Sunday Memory Drawer - When A Good Knee Goes Bad


Unfortunately, this is not a photo of my knee. This joint has already had a replacement part installed. I am not there.
Yet.
My time is coming, though.
Here's a Memory Drawer installment that has me remembering one week back. And then way back to my senior year in high school. The connection? A creaky right knee.
Last Sunday, I had another flare-up of rheumatoid arthritis, brought about by a lively week of walking in New York. I couldn't walk without a cane for two days. Now, four years ago, when this happened, I got a cortisone shot. Anybody had one? Don't. The pain of the injection was so excruciating that I passed out on the examining table. Since I still had an invoice to pay, the doctor was nice enough to revive me.
Upon my next "issue" two years later, I wanted to avoid the cortisone the way I try to avoid driving through Mount Vernon, New York these days. I discovered the wonders of acupuncture, which I have written about here. But, last week, I tried a different mix of treatment which included a few 18th Century Chinese needles along with some 21st Century ultrasound deep tissue massages. Within two days, I threw the Fred Astaire prop away and I was good to go.
Except I know it will happen again at some point. I am trying to buy a few years before the inevitable surgery. My fervent hope is that technological advances will allow joint replacement to be done on a lunch hour with a minimum of anesthesia. Doctors tell me this day is coming. If I can have done at Costco on a lunch hour, I would be most appreciative.
But, the whole ugly affair this week made me think back to the glory days. When my right knee was right as rain. And actually was the same age as the rest of my body. Nowadays, my doctor says I have the knee of an 80-year-old. Gee, I can recall when it was otherwise.
Flashback to the first gym class of my senior year in high school. I was actually participating that day. It was still way too early in the year to get a medical excuse so I could skip rope climbing and head off to the library for an hour of reading.
Yep, that day I was in my maroon gym shorts and out on the football field, trying to look graceful with some warm-up calisthenics. The teacher that year was a bit of an asshole, who fancied himself as a taskmaster. We were doing exercises way beyond the normal skill sets. No jumping jacks for this chump. We were doing the work of the Green Bay Packers. Next up? Deep knee thrusts.
I didn't get past the second one. A crack was heard throughout the class. Everybody turned to watch me fall over in pain.
And that was it for Len's right knee. A life snapping moment.
I could put little weight on it as I was helped off the field. Crap, now I had a legit reason for a medical excuse. For the first time, I didn't have to make something up. Frankly, it was less painful to lie. I was in agony.
My father was summoned to get me. Once home, the household surveyed my situation. Grandma tried to solve it all by suggesting I soak the knee in epsom salts and Witch Hazel, which she thought were the cures for everything. My parental units were a little bit more aggressive for a change. They realized I needed to see a real doctor. This is noteworthy because they rarely went to one themselves. Because, as most of that generation, my folks viewed all physicians as villains. They're only there to take your money.
At least, this time, they realized I needed to see one of those thieves.
Unfortunately, the doctor they brought me to was the worst possible choice. And he remained the worst possible choice even if the other selections were Dr. Jack Kevorkian or Dr. Jekyll.
They took me to the Bronx version of Marcus Welby, MD. One Dr. Herman Weisberg.
This dope had his office in the basement of an apartment building on White Plains Road several blocks away. At least, he was convenient. And, after judging all of Weisberg's credentials, his major accomplishment was that he was, well, convenient.
For some reason, my family loved this guy. I thought he was a complete idiot, who took the easy way out with every diagnosis. This is a man who would have looked at JFK's Dallas head wound and sprayed Bactine on it. No medical problem was too complicated for Dr. Weisberg that he wouldn't try to cure it with two Bayer aspirin.
I dreaded his first appearance as I sat with a swollen knee in his examining room.
"What now, Len?"
Oh, I'm sorry, Doctor. Am I pulling you away from something more important while I ask you to do your fucking job and look at my knee?
These days, a parent would take their immobile child to the best orthopaedist in town. Maybe even the state. Me? I got...
"This is a mild sprain. Put some ice on it and take some..."
Bayer Aspirin? It was so easy to finish all of Dr. Weisberg's sentences.
I did get the deluxe treatment because he did wrap my knee with a gauze bandage. This must have cost extra.
X-rays, Doctor?
"Why? It's not broken."
Indeed, as time would have it, a fracture would have been easier to fix. But, this early non-treatment of a pretty screwed-up joint was a life-changing mistake. My knee was never the same. For a while, it felt like there was some fluid there. I would say something to either my mom or dad. And always get the same response.
"But Dr. Weisberg said it was only a sprain..."
Hello? Do you see me crawling around in front of you?
In retrospect, once I had complete control over my own health care, I could have done more myself. I remember the first time it flared up in college. A bunch of us were headed out to a Long Island club for dancing. Because I could do nothing but sit at the table and drink, a certain crush of mine opted to keep me company for the evening. It was magic time. Okay, so there were some benefits to this fucked up knee thing.
But, by and large, I could have sought out more medical attention and procrastinated to the point of total avoidance. The once-a-decade flare-ups now come every two years or so. There is virtually no cartilege on one side of my knee. Bone on bone, which has become a nifty and creepy party trick. At some point, it will collapse altogether. And, hopefully, at that point, I can have the joint replacement procedure done with a "fix-your-knee" kit bought on the Home Shopping Network.
And so it goes.
About ten years ago, I read Dr. Weisberg's obituary in the Westchester newspaper. He had died of cancer at the age of 86.
And I wonder how much longer he might have lasted if he didn't try to treat that malignancy with some Bayer Aspirin and an Ace Bandage.
Dinner last night: BLT at Blue Plate.