Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Don't Call Me....Oh, Do I Need to Repeat the Line?

Leslie Nielsen died of pneumonia over the weekend in a Fort Lauderdale hospital.

What's that?

It's a big building with a lot of sick people, but that's not important right now. 

Oddly enough, I had just watched all three Naked Gun movies several weeks ago during a self-imposed DVD marathon.  Always a big fan of these films, I marveled this time around at Leslie Nielsen's performance throughout.  Only a special and truly unselfish actor would know how to deal the role of Detective Frank Drebin as perfectly as he did.  Nielsen got the joke, but walked the tightrope ever so carefully.  In the lesser hands of today's comedic hacks like Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell, and the like, Drebin becomes an overplayed parody of himself.  Instead, Leslie knew exactly the right tone for the comedy and masterfully never deviated from it over the course of all three movies.

Of course, on the dreaded Facebook, folks were lamenting Nielsen's passing by rehashing the same line from "Airplane" on their walls over and over again.  All together now...

"I am serious.  And don't call me Shirley."

Come on, folks.  What else you got?

Frankly, one of my favorite moments from the Naked Gun series came in the first installment with this baseball montage from an Angel game inexplicably being played in Dodger Stadium.  Drebin is umpiring and looking for an assassin.  Leslie Nielsen and the producing Zucker brothers at their very best.


Hey, let's all not forget Nielsen's body of other work.  Sci-fi fans will remember "Forbidden Planet."  His audition for the role of Messala in "Ben-Hur" is one on the extras of that DVD box set.  And super bizarr-o TV fans like me will recall his year as studio head John Bracken on one of my favorite shows of all time, "Bracken's World."

A woman I once worked with dated Leslie Nielsen for a bit and said he was a really nice guy and it's always important to note when one of the truly good ones passes on in Hollywood.  Besides, he and I shared the same birthday.  February 11.  Except he was born in 1926 and I was born in...

Surely, you don't think I'm going to get more specific.  And don't call me...

Dinner last night:  Clubhouse salad at the Cheesecake Factory.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Morning Video Laugh - November 29, 2010

For those who couldn't get enough turkey...


Dinner last night:  Reuben sandwich at Cafe 50s Diner.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Sunday Memory Drawer - White Castle

I've been known to lament on these cyberpages about memories that no longer exist.  Movie theaters torn down.  Wonderful hometowns now less so.  Baseball stadiums now parking lots.

This White Castle from Minnesota apparently falls under the same category.  Instead of hamburgers, it's now selling jewelry.  I'm sure some folks in that town have been bitching about this for years.

But, there is some good news.  The White Castle of my youth still sits in the very spot where I left it.  On the corner of Allerton Avenue and Boston Post Road in the Bronx, with the grills still cooking up those bizarre sliders of chopped meat, onion bits, and dill pickles.  This was the place of many good childhood memories.

And one lasting and final one from my adult life.

I don't remember how old I was when I first sampled that White Castle.  Maybe when I was five or six or seven.  But, most likely, I was in the back seat of some Buick as I anxiously awaited my father to roll down the driver's side window and give his order to some chick on roller skates.  Yep, she was probably a car hop who would be rolling back to us in five minutes with a tray full of goodies.  Next to getting pizza at Sorrento's underneath the White Plains Road elevated tracks near 233rd Street in the Bronx, White Castle was my favorite place to "eat out."

The combined flavor of meat patties with five holes punched into them and those fried onions was sheer heaven to me.  The sign on the building said "Buy 'Em by the Sack" and we did.  They were so small that I could wolf down five or six in one sitting.  We sat there in the car, constructing a dinner table out of the dashboard or maybe the back seat.  It was okay to get a little sloppy and those little onion bits would turn up on the leather interior days after the meal had been consumed.

My father would relate to me that this White Castle tradition had been handed down from a previous generation.  When he was a kid, they also got White Castle burgers, although I'm guessing it was a little harder to work the crank on the window that was needed to hold up the dinner tray.  Then, as he grew up, White Castle was the place to go after dances and movies with your dates.  I'd sit there hearing the stories, surveying the parking lot for any strands of history that hadn't been yet tucked away into a dusty book on a shelf.  This very drive-in restaurant had obviously acted as a very connective thread in the fabric of my family.

After a while, we stopped going and I completely forgot what a White Castle Hamburger tasted like.  Sure, there was one right across the street from Fordham University where I went to college, but we never went there.  We said they sold "murder burgers," not so much for the food quality but more because it frequently was the site of some robberies at gun point.

Yeah, White Castle disappeared from my world almost as quickly as it had appeared.

I flip the calendar pages ahead a number of years.  My father's prostate cancer had re-emerged and nestled in the bone of his leg.  Things were winding down for Dad, but he opted for a weekly chemo treatment anyway.  Usually, one of his cronies would pick him up and drive him every Friday for whatever injection he needed to have. 

It was the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend and I was off.  I decided to give Dad's buddies the week off.  I'd do the honors of acting as driver for the day.  It was the least I could do for his pals who had so diligently helped him over the years.

As I helped him out of the doctor's office and into the car, I wondered what was next in the weekly routine.  Even when he was ill, my father was always all about a consistent schedule of events.  I asked him what happens next.

"Well, we usually go get something to eat."

Where?

"White Castle."

I was perplexed.  There wasn't one nearby in Mount Vernon.

"No, we go to the one down on Allerton.  Where we used to go."

Oh.  All the way down there, I thought.

Yes, all the way down.  And I shouldn't have questioned it for a single moment.

My father and I sat one more time in that parking lot.  The car hops were gone, but I brought the food out of the restaurant.  And we chomped down on five or six sliders as if the years had morphed all together into a single second.

I didn't know it that day, but it would be the very last meal I would share with my father.  Indeed, it was also the very last good memory I would keep of him.

When I went back to work after his death several months later, my friends in the office walked in and said they wanted to do something for me.  They brought in a wrapped frame.  It contained a colored sketch of one of the first White Castle restaurants.  I had obviously mentioned the significance at some point.

An odd way to commemorate my father?  Really it was the only and...best way.

Dinner last night:  BLT Sandwich at Blue Plate.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Classic Newsreel of the Month - November 2010

Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis with nothing to do on Thanksgiving Day.


Dinner last night:  Roast beef dip sandwich at BJs/

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Shopping Tips

Why battle the crowds today for those insipid doorbuster sales?  You didn't want to be out at 4AM anyway. Try these great Christmas gift ideas from Skymall. Who doesn't want their wine bottle stopped up with one of Santa's reindeer? If that's not your fancy, how about these gems.
A Christmas tree ornament designed after the legendary Bigfoot. I guess the Muppets and the Peanuts gang are now old hat.
A Star Wars toaster. May the force be with your English muffin.
Tired of your family gathering this Yuletide? Simply slap these on and you'll be by yourself in the emergency room before you know it.
Two squirts of this stuff and a complete town in Pennsylvania goes bankrupt.
Fruit.  Oh, wow.  Gee, thanks.  Because it's so hard to get to the super market.
This is a welcome mat for those home owners who are information geeks.  Step to their front door and you'll see the exact latitude and longitude.  Not the ideal Christmas gift for any nomadic families.
 
A vitamin supplement that will cure all problems.  Reversitall.  I'll take two the first morning and see.  If, by the next day, the Dodgers don't have the 2010 World Series trophy and Barack Obama is still President, I will officially announce that Reversitall doesn't work.

The Christmas Skymall also includes items for next Halloween.  How about this life-like creature that will sit next to your front door?  It's over six feet tall and, if that doesn't scare, the sticker price will.  Five hundred dollars!  You'll drop dead at that very front door.  And, if the folks have already purchased the welcome mat shown above, you'll have the exact latitude and longitude of your demise.

It's a clock.  It's a slide rule.  No, it's a clock.  No, it's a slide rule.  Can't make up your mind?  Let me be the judge.  It's a piece of junk.

Dinner last night:  It was Thanksgiving.  Whadaya think?  Stuffed turkey breast with all the trimmings.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Thanksgiving Blog Tradition

Screw the yams with marshmallows.  This is the Thanksgiving tradition you need to observe.  My annual blog rendition of "Turkey Lurkey Time" from the 1968 version of "Promises, Promises."  As opposed to the 2010 edition of "Promises, Promises," which I will see one more time next month before it closes.


Dinner last night:  Breakfast for dinner --- waffles and eggs at Barney's Beanery in Westwood.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This Day in History - November 24


This is Venus.  As in the planet.  And the song by Frankie Avalon.

1639:  JEREMIAH HORROCKS OBSERVES THE TRANSIT OF VENUS, AN EVENT HE HAD PREDICTED.

There's transit on Venus?  I hope it's better than the bus system in Los Angeles.

1859:  CHARLES DARWIN PUBLISHES "ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES." 

It immediately shot to #2 on Amazon. 

1863:  DURING THE CIVIL WAR, UNION FORCES UNDER GENERAL ULYSSES S. GRANT CAPTURE THE CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS ON LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN.

Apparently, the folks on Lookout Mountain weren't living up to the name.

1868:  RAGTIME COMPOSER SCOTT JOPLIN IS BORN.

And ultimately the birth of Marvin Hamlisch's career.

1906:  THE CANTON BULLDOGS-MASSILLON TIGERS BETTING SCANDAL, THE FIRST MAJOR SCANDAL IN PROFESSIONAL AMERICAN FOOTBALL.

I still don't know.  Did Massillon cover the spread?

1911:  ACTOR KIRBY GRANT IS BORN.

That's Sky King for those of you non-Nabisco Cookie eating folks.

1921:  NY MAYOR JOHN LINDSAY IS BORN.

Luckily, his parents' street had been plowed and they were able to get to the hospital in time.

1922:  AUTHOR AND IRISH REPUBLICAN ARMY MEMBER ROBERT ERSKINE CHILDERS IS EXECUTED BY AN IRISH FREE STATE FIRING SQUAD FOR ILLEGALLY CARRYING A REVOLVER.

Shot for carrying a gun.  Ironic, heh?

1935:  THE SENEGALESE SOCIALIST PARTY HOLDS ITS SECOND CONGRESS.

The third congress was held on November 25, 1936.  There's not a lot going on in Senegal.

1941:  THE UNITED STATES GRANTS LEND-LEASE TO THE FREE FRENCH.

For anybody who's stayed in a Paris hotel, there's nothing really "free" about the French.

1941:  THE FIFTH BEATLE PETE BEST IS BORN.

And so is a trivia question that will be handed down for generations.

1944:  DURING WORLD WAR II, THE FIRST BOMBING RAID AGAINST TOKYO IS CARRIED OUT BY 88 AMERICAN AIRCRAFT.

You think this did some damage?  Wait till Mothra comes in.

1946:  SERIAL KILLER TED BUNDY IS BORN.

What did he do?  Shoot a bullet into a box of Cocoa Puffs?

1950:  ACTOR STANLEY LIVINGSTON IS BORN.

Chip from "My Three Sons!!!!!"

1963:  ALLEGED JFK ASSASSIN LEE HARVEY OSWALD IS SHOT BY JACK RUBY.

And....

1963:  ALLEGED JFK ASSASSIN LEE HARVEY OSWALD DIES.

...is killed.

1966:  NEW YORK CITY EXPERIENCES THE SMOGGIEST DAY IN THE CITY'S HISTORY.

And all you "Mad Man" tools look so fondly back at the days of smoking in an office.

1971:  DURING A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM OVER WASHINGTON STATE, HIJACKER DB COOPER PARACHUTES FROM A NORTHWEST ORIENT AIRLINES PLANE WITH $200,000 IN RANSOM MONEY.  HE HAS NEVER BEEN FOUND.

If I had run away with $200,000, you wouldn't find me either.

1973:  A NATIONAL SPEED LIMIT IS IMPOSED ON THE AUTOBAHN IN GERMANY DURING THE 1973 OIL CRISIS.

Those Volkswagens don't go fast anyway.

1991:  FREDDIE MERCURY OF QUEEN DIES.

Mercury no longer rising.  Or, actually, maybe he did.

2005:  ACTOR PAT MORITA DIES.

Wax on, Pat off.
 
Dinner last night:  Chicekn and pasta with pesto sauce.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Be The First on Your Block

The Dodgers have already announced their 2011 promotional schedule.  Fireworks every Friday night.  A host of bobbleheads.  And this giveaway...

A sleeved fleece blanket.

Oh, you can't fool me.  That's a Dodger Snuggie!
This night will be a fascinating one to watch.  I can see it now.  Forty thousand fans traipsing around Chavez Ravine looking like a Jim Jones convention.  And, given that these things drape down to the ground, the Dodger Stadium pavement will be swept clean.  Provided fans don't trip on them and tumble from the mezzanine to the loge level.  Seat upgrades and a broken pelvis as an added bonus.

If you can't wait, you can buy one now on MLB.com.  That way, you can get one advertiser-logo free and not act as a billboard for State Farm Insurance.

What the hell ever happened to "Just Plain Cap Night?"

Dinner last night:  Rotisserie chicken from California Chicken Cafe.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday Morning Video Laugh - November 22, 2010

A classic "Everybody Loves Raymond" moment.  That wonderful Tofu Turkey.


Dinner last night:  Turkey reuben at Blue Plate.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Thanksgiving Dinners of My Youth

The smell of frying onions would wake me up around 8AM.  I was savoring a breakfast bowl of Rice Krispies and already my stomach was churning with this bizarre odor in the early morning.  It could mean only one thing.

It was Thanksgiving and Grandma was downstairs making the stuffing.

Our family Thanksgiving dinners were probably no different than yours.  Certainly not as warm and fuzzy as magazine ads would lead you to imagine.  Loving family members, heads bowed in grace, thanking the Lord for the food they were about to partake.  Good feelings all around.

Nah.  Maybe you heard the following, too.

"You didn't make turnips this year?  What's wrong with you?"

"The white meat is way too dry.  Did you bother to baste it?"

"I'm not sitting next to him/her unless they apologize."

Oh, yeah.  Norman Rockwell is a myth.

Our gatherings were frequently held at our house.  Grandma and my mother would co-op the cooking together as other ends of our family would come to call and dine around Grandma's big dining room table downstairs.  The fact that my mom and her mother-in-law were working together was news worth of Ripley's Believe It or Not.  Rarely on the same page, they were barely in the same book when it came to holiday cooking. 

I have an ultra-vivid memory of one such skirmish.  Mom and Grandma had such a dust-up that, when my grandmother turned her back, my mother picked up one of those Pillsbury biscuit cans and pretended to take a swing at her.  A tough vision for a seven-year-old.

"Oh, my God.  Mommy's gonna bash Grandma in the skull."

Or something like that.

I'd try to stay out of the line of fire by sequestering myself in front of the television and watching Bullwinkle float down Broadway.  Eventually, the other relatives would show up and even the arrival of Santa Claus at the end of the parade couldn't upstage that year's family drama.

"Stop telling me how to raise my kids."

"I will if you stop telling me how to raise my kids."

"If you've got gas, please go in the other room."

"Belch!"

And that's before dinner.

On our table were the usual staples.  Turnips and sweet potatoes, which I could never tell apart.  Green beans, which were usually fresh.  Mashed potatoes, which were never completely a unanimous favorite.

"I like them creamy."

"They're too lumpy."

"They're too dry."

"Did you forget the butter??"

And, amid all the fresh food, there was my favorite Thanksgiving dish.  Cranberry sauce.  Still is.  These days, I'm enjoying a homemade concoction of this fruit, usually mixed with oranges and cherries.  But it didn't get that fancy years ago.  Nope, my family always opted for the can.

The Ocean Spray can.

The one you opened with a can opener and the cranberry sauce slid out in one gloppy mold.  Just like we used to slip the dog food out of the Ken-L-Ration can.  With the cranberries, they didn't even bother to use a knife to slice it.  Somebody would simply take the metal lid and use that to cut up the mold.  If Martha Stewart had witnessed this scene, she would have used that same metal lid to slit her wrists.

But, to me, this was cranberry sauce and I loved it nonetheless.  Except, of course, when there was a much publicized recall of Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberries one Thanksgiving.  Seems there was some poison embedded or perhaps a soupcon of botulism.  Whatever the case, I was petrified.  The moratorium was quickly called off within a month, but that didn't placate me in the least. 

I would pass on cranberries for the next five years.  I was convinced that there was still one can out there that had been ignored by the inspectors.  And the way my grandmother used to buy in bulk, I was sure that food poisoning and/or death was no doubt lurking right around the corner of Grandma's pantry.

There was always plenty of food on our table.  One Thanksgiving, as we dined on our respective second helpings, we heard the faint sound of chewing in the kitchen.  My beagle Tuffy had hopped up on the table and was helping herself to anything she could sniff out.  Nobody took home leftovers that year.

And, of course, the most popular after dinner activity in our house was undoubtedly no different than in any American home.  From various corners of the house, we could hear the same refrain.

"ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz......."

Dinner last night:  BLT sandwich at Blue Plate.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Classic TV Commercial of the Month - November 2010

It's never too early to start prepping that Butterball Turkey for Thanksgiving.


Dinner last night:  Chicken and vegetable stir fry.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Your Weekend Movie Guide for November 2010

Downtown New Rochelle, New York.  The main drag with three, count 'em, three different movie palaces within one city block.  Once the Mount Vernon theaters closed, this is where I could go to the movies while I was in college.  Now they're all gone, too.  Replaced by crappy multiplexes.

And showing even crappier movies.  Here's our monthly exercise.  I'll sift through the Los Angeles Time entertainment pages and give you my knee jerk reaction on what's good.  And, most of the time, what's bad.

Morning Glory:  Seen it.  If you've seen the trailer and you're thinking something clever and insightful like "Broadcast News," forget about it.  This is a pleasant diversion, but a waste of time overall with missed creative opportunities by the barrelful.  Harrison Ford actually looks like he doesn't want to be in the movie.  The morning show environment they try to create is so unrealistic.  Mary Richards' WJM newsroom had more going on.  And I only remember about four or five people working there. 

Today's Special:  An aspiring chef takes over his family's Indian restaurant.  I don't eat Indian food.  Nor do I see movies about it.

Made in Dagenham:  Female workers walk out of a Ford car plant to protest sexual discrimination in 1968.  A-ha.  Somebody figured just how cozy those Mustang back seats can be.

The Next Three Days:  Russell Crowe stars as a man who attempts to break his wife out of prison.  Really?  You are blowing a golden opportunity.  Let her stew in the klink and go out and buy yourself one of those snazzy Mustang back seats.

Unstoppable:  Denzel Washington in some stupid runaway train heist.  And the title is a perfect description of dopey Denzel's career.  He is unstoppable when it comes to making crappy movies like this.  Perhaps the most overrated actor in Hollywood.

Megamind:  Some cartoon or perhaps the title of Barack Obama's new autobiography.

Jackass 3D:  Another sequel of the MTV stunt show or perhaps the title of Joe Biden's new autobiography.

For Colored Girls: If a White filmmaker tried to use that title, he'd be run out of Hollywood.  Meanwhile, the real show here is probably watching the audience in the theater.  Whooping and hollering at the screen.  Estimated rate of hearing "you go, Girl!:" 2.5 times per minute.

Due Date:  As much as I enjoy Robert Downey Jr., I despise Zach Galifianakis, one of the many un-funny movie stars trolling the multiplexes.  This guy, Will Ferrell, Seth Rogan...they're all the same.  Vaseline-less prostate exams.

Skyline:  Another gloomy doomsday epic from some thirty-year-old genius.  Enough is enough.  In this one, aliens descend upon Los Angeles from the sky.  As opposed to their usual mode of entry: the car trunk of cousin Hector's 1973 Buick Le Sabre.

The Social Network:  Feel free to "friend" the movie.  Just avoid the real-life assholes who started Facebook.

Red:  Die Hard in a nursing home. 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1:  The lemmings are already on line for this one.  This is the first film installment of the final chapter.  One more shameless example of Hollywood trying to milk as much out of this franchise as possible.  I'm surprised they didn't produce one movie for every chapter.  They could get at least thirty more flicks that would run until Harry Potter has to stow his magic broom in favor of a gas-powered Hoveround.

Life As We Know It:  Katherine Heigl stars, which is another way of saying "no fucking way."

Paranormal Activity 2:  Still haunting theaters, but I doubt it's making as much dough as the first one, which was a mess.  Essentially, it's up to you whether you want to pay twelve bucks to take a nap.

Jews and Baseball - An American Love Story:  A documentary about Jews and baseball.  Duh.  On my list.  I suspect we'll hear about Sandy Koufax, Shawn Green, Hank Greenberg, and some middling infielder named Ross Hashanah.

Queen of the Lot:  An up-and-coming actress travels to meet her movie star boyfriend's family.  It stars somebody named Tanna Frederick and we will now pause so that everybody can say "who."

Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer:  I hear this documentary is very pro-Spitzer.  How do you make a conviving politician who uses public funds to meet high profile call girls a sympathetic character?   That's like entrusting your homeowner's association treasury to Charles Rangel.

Hereafter:  I've seen this Clint Eastwood look at the afterlife and it's not as depressing as you would think.  Regardless of the subject matter, Clint always knows how to tell a story that holds your interest.  But, the real money is spent on the first ten minutes where he masterfully re-stages that Pacific tsunami with very little CGI.   

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest:  Got stung.  End of movie.

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger:  Woody Allen's latest.  He makes all his movies now in either England or Spain because he can't get financial backing in the United States.  When you see this one as I did, you'll know why.  Nothing more than "Hannah and Her Sisters Goe to London," but only one-tenth as good.

Fair Game:  Sean Penn and Naomi Watts in some alleged "true story" about the Bush administration's inept attempt to find weapons of mass destruction.   When does Hollywood start to make movies about the missteps in the Obama White House?  The answer is probably never.

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

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Mini Photo Essay: The New Giants Stadium

As opposed to the old Giants Stadium, which has been demolished in the parking lot.  I am wondering what parking space Jimmy Hoffa is now buried under.

So, on Sundays when they flip the LCD switch from blue to green, is this called the new Jets Stadium?  As opposed to the old Jets Stadium, which is also demolished in the parking lot.  As opposed to the older Jets Stadium, which was Shea and is also now a parking lot.  Welcome to the Len Speaks Urban Renewal Fiesta.

I'm not going to give you all the specifics on how I wound up in a spanking new and borderline decadent Giants Stadium luxury suite for last Sunday's football contest versus the hapless Dallas Cowboys.  Trust me when I say I do know some important people who allow me to step into their universe on a rare occasion, even if it was from a Pluto-like orbit.  

So, yes, there was me.  Making an odd and rare appearance at a football game.

Truth be told, I used to be a big New York Jet fan.  I remember a game at Shea where the wind chill was thirty below and my frostbite was so bad that I almost fainted and wound up in a puddle of somebody else's sick in the mens room.  Over the years, I've moved a little bit away from the sport, but I do show a renewed interest whenever the Jets are decent.

So, of course, I make my return to a NFL football stadium and the Jets are in Cleveland.  Oh, well.
I've never quite understood the allure of tailgating.  Showing up six or seven hours before a game and munching on chips and guacamole that is almost gray by game time.  Meanwhile, you're trying to find a parking space while playing Whack-A-Mole with all the tailgaters standing in your way.

Seriously, the parking procedures at this place are nothing short of the French resistance to the Nazis during World War II.  Translation: they're nonexistent.  I have no idea how season ticket holders manage to do this for eight games a season.  I celebrated two birthdays before I even hit the on ramp to the New Jersey Turnpike.   
From the outside, the stadium looks like an office building.  Everything there is also interchangeable.  All the Giants signage flips to Jet signage in an Emerson Boozer heartbeat.
The really fancy luxury suites have the very best views.  Like ours on the forty yard line.  If one of these photos show up with mustard stains, you will forgive me.
There are huge TV screens all over the park and the rays are probably strong and lethal enough to shorten your life by about ten years.  The suites are also full of telecasts of other games around the league.  I spent about ten minutes at the Giants game watching the Jets win in overtime.  There was a little pushback, however, when I asked somebody if we could switch the channel to "Desperate Housewives."
For most of the game, I bounced around from the cushioned seats to the living room setting that was also attached.  The food kept coming as fast as the Giant penalties.

Sometime early in the third quarter, the lights were flickering as I was mid-bratwurst.  Several moments later, the entire stadium was plunged into darkness.  I am talking Space Mountain-like blackness.  While the Giants weren't generating much offense, the New Jersey power grid apparently stopped working altogether.  The stadium cost over one billion bucks and still they choose to buy light bulbs from Al Gore? 

It lasted really only for about six seconds, but, for one moment in time, the folks in the luxury suites, the fans in the club level, and the yokels up in the rafters all made a singular discovery.

Everybody looks alike in the dark.

Dinner last night: Turkey burger at BJs.



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This Day In History - November 17


How can any post that leads with a photo of Tom Seaver be bad? It's his day. Read on.

473: THE FUTURE LEO II IS NAMED ASSOCIATE EMPEROR BY LEO I.

Talk about nepotism.

1183: THE BATTLE OF MIZUSHIMA.

I'm not sure but I think Mizushima is now a Pan-Asian restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard.

1511: SPAIN AND ENGLAND ALLY AGAINST FRANCE.

Considering the bathing habits of the French, who can blame them?

1558: QUEEN MARY I OF ENGLAND DIES AND SUCCEEDED BY HER HALF-SISTER ELIZABETH I OF ENGLAND.

If they had been as smart as the Leos, it would have been Queen Mary II.

1603: ENGLISH EXPLORER SIR WALTER RALIEGH GOES ON TRIAL FOR TREASON.

And later on, he is convicted for sticking those little coupons on packs of cigarettes.

1659: THE PEACE OF THE PYRENEES IS SIGNED BETWEEN FRANCE AND SPAIN.

Okay, now England got thrown under the bus. What a difference 148 years can make? Meanwhile, try to say "Peace of the Pyrenees" five times fast.

1800: THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS HOLDS ITS FIRST SESSION IN WASHINGTON, DC.

Okay, this happens over 20 years after we declared independence and wrote the Constitution. How long does it take to find someplace to meet? There was no American Legion hall available?

1811: JOSE MIGUEL CARRERA, CHILEAN FOUNDING FATHER, IS SWORN IN AS PRESIDENT OF CHILE.

Little did he know that, 199 years later, his miners would be truly fucked.

1820: CAPTAIN NATHANIEL PALMER BECOMES THE FIRST AMERICAN TO SEE ANTARCTICA.

Not on purpose, I assume.

1827: THE DELTA PHI FRATERNITY, AMERICA'S OLDEST CONTINUOUS SOCIAL FRATERNITY, IS FOUNDED AT UNION COLLEGE IN SCHENECTADY, NEW YORK.

November 18, 1827: The very first beer keg is invented at Union College in Schenectady, New York.

1869: IN EGYPT, THE SUEZ CANAL IS INAUGURATED.

And they've been fighting over it every since.

1871: THE NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION IS GRANTED A CHARTER BY THE STATE OF NEW YORK.

Charlton Heston's earliest known public appearance.

1911: THE OMEGA PSI PHI FRATERNITY, THE FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN FRATERNITY AT A BLACK COLLEGE, IS FOUNDED AT HOWARD UNIVERSITY IN WASHINGTON, DC.

In the event that Al Sharpton reads this blog, I have nothing to say.

1925: ACTOR ROCK HUDSON IS BORN.

Mothers of America, you have been given fair warning. Lock up your fair-haired sons immediately.

1933: THE UNITED STATES RECOGNIZES THE SOVIET UNION.

What is this noteworthy? Did we have a case of amnesia?

1938: SINGER GORDON LIGHTFOOT IS BORN.

One of the dreariest musicians ever. I'm just saying.....

1942: DIRECTOR MARTIN SCORSESE IS BORN.

Yes, we're talkin' to you.

1944: SNL PRODUCER LORNE MICHAELS IS BORN.

And he hasn't had a creative thought since.

1944: METS PITCHER TOM SEAVER IS BORN.

Tom, I'm sorry you have to share your special day with the aforementioned load. Given that you were such a major part of my childhood and all.

1947: THE U.S SCREEN ACTORS GUILD IMPLEMENTS AN ANTI-COMMUNIST LOYALTY OATH.

Have you now or have you ever been.......

1962: PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY DEDICATES DULLES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, SERVING THE WASHINGTON DC. REGION.

Little did JFK know at the time that there was an airport with his own name attached coming in just a few short years.

1968: BRITISH EUROPEAN AIRWAYS INTRODUCES THE BAC ONE-ELEVEN INTO COMMERCIAL SERVICE.

Two years later, they introduced a Seven-Eleven into my neighborhood.

1970: DOUGLAS ENGELBART RECEIVES THE PATENT FOR THE FIRST COMPUTER MOUSE.

As well as the copyright for Carpal-Tunnel Syndrome.

1973: IN ORLANDO, FLORIDA, US PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON TELLS 400 ASSOCIATED PRESS EDITORS "I AM NOT A CROOK."

Uh huh...

1998: ACTRESS ESTHER ROLLE DIES.

Good times are over.

2002: ISRAELI DIPLOMAT ABBA EBAN DIES.

He never lived to see the premiere of "Mamma Mia."

2004: K-MART ANNOUNCES IT IS BUYING SEARS, ROEBUCK AND COMPANY FOR 11 BILLION DOLLARS.

Does anybody remember waiting for the K-Mart Christmas catalog to come in the mail?

Dinner last night:  Penne with sausage, capers, and kalamata olives.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

In Your Face-book

America's new virtual town hall is one more debit check against the long term survival of our nation.  If people are exactly how they are portraying themselves on their wall, what is the future for us?  Really?

Oh, I'm not talking about those "friends" who can't help but tell me that they're stuck in traffic or enjoying a cupcake at Sprinkles.  That's the playful side of it all. 

But there are the others.  Folks who have virtually zero censorship when it comes to laying bare to the most intimate and uncomfortable moments of their life.  And it's there for all of us to see.

On Facebook, I'm watching friends on a collision course to disaster.  From the separate commentary from a husband and a wife, I see one marriage that I know will disintegrate within five years.  There are countless other tales of woe uploaded on a daily basis.  And I wonder if people ever read through what they have written even once before they hit "send."

Privacy has gone the way of Silly Putty eggs and hula hoops.  So has civility.  Facebook appears to be the official website of meanness.  And profanity.  And bad grammar.

One Facebook visit will have you convinced that most people can't construct a single sentence without the F bomb in it.  It's used liberally.  As a verb.  As an adjective.  As a noun.  As a past participle.  Frankly, I'd be surprised if folks are actually doing it as much as they're writing it.  Apparently, on Facebook, all rules of correct English are left on the "home" page.  It is a shameful indictment of just how dumb and offensive this country has become.

And then there's somebody I will refer to simply as "M."  Not to be confused with the Fritz Lang movie starring Peter Lorre.  "M" is a work colleague who somehow slipped into my Facebook friend list during a period where I was being incredibly lax about accepting on-line invitations.  Could-a, should-a, would-a.  Since "M" was one of the few who realized that all nouns must have a a verb in any given sentence, he presented no real Facebook issues for me.

Until we got to the recent elections. 

"M" is as liberal as you can get without having the last name of Kennedy.    Hey, it's a free world whether I agree with you or not.  But, not so with "M."  Over the past few weeks, I have watched "M" make wall postings that virtually lambast and insult anybody with even a soupcon of a difference of an opinion.  The guy lists several hundred friends.  With this attitude, I wonder how he even hits double digits.

"M's" Facebook activity includes a lot of love notes for the President.  Totally his prerogative to do so.  Except some of his friends like to counter them and add some comments.  What erupts is a cyberspace melee that has not been seen in this country since the Civil War pitted brother against brother.

If you disagree with "M," here are some of the names you will be called.

"Asshole."

"Lunatic."

"Un-American."

"Racist."

"Fascist."

All because you may have a different opinion than his.  Regardless of what you say, you will be wrong.  Because "M" is always right.

Just so you know, "M" is seemingly a normal White businessman in his low 30s.  He appears to be as sane as the rest of us that he is labelling as crazy.

I don't ever comment on his wall, but I find myself half-bemused and half-insulted at his on-line caterwauling.  Many of the "facts" he counters in arguments have long been validated as "untrue."  The day he started on relaying some thoughts on the Franklin Delano Roosevelt preisdency, I found my fingers slowly inching toward the keyboard.

You devout Len Speaks readers already know this.  I have read every book imaginable about FDR.  Not that I thought he was a terrific President.  Truth be told, historians are now calling Roosevelt's terms flawed in certain respects.  But, "M" clearly doesn't read what I read.  And he transposes one un-fact after another in an effort to show that only his opinion counts.

I could have easily exposed him, but chose not to.  I didn't need to be the twelfth man to join this fight.    In reality, "M" isn't worth an "E" for my effort.

I wonder what moves this man to be as nasty and shortsighted in full public view.  Does he act the same way when he is public?  Does he stoke the fires as willingly when he's out with friends?  Does he even have any friends to go out with?

Facebook is lauded as a social network.  The meeting place of the future.  The way generations will communicate for years to come.

And, yet, more and more and more, I see it simply as one more reason to hide under a bed.

Dinner last night:  Back in LA, proscuitto, peppers, and provolone panini.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Morning Video Laugh - November 15, 2010

We always need to make time for Don Rickles.  This time he skewers Sammy Davis Jr.....and others.


Dinner last night:  All sorts of wonderful food at the Giants Stadium luxury suite.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Stars I Almost Worked For

Okay, let's take a flashback into my world of writing.  Not this blog.  The other writing I've dabbled in for the past several decades. 

In a career full of "almosts" and "possiblys," there were certainly a lot more "unlikelys" and "doubtfuls."  But you never give up.  Especially when you consider how close I came to actually working for these three folks.
Yep, Carol Channing.  Dolly Levi herself.  The renowned kook of Broadway.  For this near-story, you have to turn back the calendar pages a long way.  To another coast and another writing partner.  My good friend, Djinn from the Bronx.

At the time, we were wet behind the ears and probably even wetter when it came to figuring out how to start a writing career.  Somehow and someway, we wound up being affiliated with the William Morris Talent Agency in New York. 

Impressed?  Don't be. 

We weren't exactly clients.  No, as we sat in the reception area once a week for a meeting with our "not exactly" agent, we watched the parade of real people blow through for their "not pretend"meetings with their real agents.  Jack Lemmon, for instance.

Through an introduction by another friend, we had become associated with some junior agent named Andy.  Okay, I should have been immediately suspicious.  Who uses the name "Andy" in a business setting?  That's the name of a rag doll or the sheriff of Mayberry.  That's not the name of a William Morris agent. 

Well, Andy liked us and our work and arranged for us to meet with him once a week to "talk."  Was he serious about our careers?  Or did he simply need to show the other big agents that he, too, had people he could "take a meeting" with?  Who knows?  But we were stupid and didn't know what the hell we were doing.  So, we dutifully showed up once a week to pitch him ideas.  For TV shows, movies, recipes for rice pudding, whatever.  Essentially, if any one of these clicked, we'd be signed to a contract and then the requisite Maserati car lease would immediately follow.  Andy was only interested in us in the remote possibility that we could make him a little money.

To this day, William Morris and most other talent agencies love to develop "packages."  Matching their out-of-work writers to their out-of-work directors and their out-of-work actors in the hope that they could produce something that would get them all out-of-work.  One week, while we were staring blankly one more time at our non-agent, Andy struck a mental gold mine.

"Carol Channing!"

Huh?

She was the typical William Morris client.  An out-of-work star looking for some out-of-work writers to put together her upcoming night club act.

Huh again?

What the hell did we know about putting together a night club act?  All I knew about night clubs was what I had seen Ricky Ricardo do in the Tropicana Club on "I Love Lucy."  First, he sings "Cuban Pete" and then Lucy does something to mess up the act.  Check.  Got it.  Except I didn't think that was what Carol Channing was looking for.

Yet, who were we to turn down potential writing work?  We crafted a few ideas to pitch to "Miss Channing."  Then, we were supposed to take the train down to Baltimore, where she was either currently performing or looking for the best crab cake Maryland had to offer.

Seems easy?  Well, not so much.

It seemed to take forever to book a visit with Miss Channing.  But, at last, we had a date.  We'd pack up our hearts, our dreams, and our best jokes for what could be a lifelong association with Carol Channing.  We'd be saying hello to Dolly.  In Baltimore, for God's sake.

The day before we were to hop onto the southbound Amtrak, we got the word.  Carol's Baltimore hotel had caught on fire.  Guests were evacuated in the middle of the night.  Perhaps one of her wigs got a little too close to her hot plate.  Whatever the case, she was too overcome to meet with us.

Apparently ever.  That was the last time we heard from her.  And pretty much the next-to-last time we heard from the barely-past-puberty Andy.

Moving the calendar pages forward now.   To another writing partner and an equally misguided approach to a career.

Actually, we had gotten some non-Monopoly-money paying work and that saga will be minutely detailed in a multi-part edition of the Sunday Memory Drawer very soon.   But, we were hungry for more and open to any options.  One day, an advertisement in a writing magazine caught our eye.

"World Famous Actor looking for fresh new writers to collaborate on TV series."

Okay, we'll bite.  In retrospect, we should have realized that no world famous actor would need to resort to a career personal ad to get his next gig.  But, what did we know?  And it wouldn't cost more than a dime to call the attached phone number.  I let my writing partner dial the phone.

It was Tony Lo Bianco.
Who?

The tough New York actor who's been working for years and always plays the Mafia guy who kicks the shit out of the hero.  On the phone, he sounded like a tough New York actor who could easily kick the shit out of two writers.  But, he seemed sincere about whatever concept he wanted to flesh out.

The only trouble is he never made any sense to us.  In two phone calls, he prattled on endlessly but rarely got to the point of anything.  He shared his version of a script with us.  He himself had started the writing process.

It stunk.  And, suddenly, we had this vision of telling him what we really thought.  And then a subsequent vision of cement slabs tied to our bodies at the bottom of the Hudson River.

Yeah, it was time to ease away from Tony Lo Bianco.  But, not before he sent us a potential partnership agreement which tied us to him for both a movie script and a weekly vacuuming of his living room rug.

Moving on....

More calendar pages turning.  Same writing partner, different coast.  And a real, honest-to-God agent attached to us and, in one of her last acts prior to quitting the business and starting a yoga class, she was trying to find us work in Hollywood.  One afternoon, she called with this gem.

"Tom Arnold just got his new sitcom picked up and he's looking for writers."
Yep, Tom Arnold. 

At the time, he was fresh from his explosive marriage and divorce from Roseanne Barr.  After all those dust-ups, he was looking to become a star in his own right.  And in his own mind.  Our agent made the necessary connections for us to meet him.  Our spec scripts had gone over to him and he was allegedly interested.  We had some trepidations because we heard he was a jerk.  But, then again, who were we to scoff at some work?

She booked us a meeting with Tom.  Wednesday 2:30PM at his office on the Universal lot.

That notation was on our calendar for the next five weeks.  Because each week there would be a cancellation.  For a variety of reasons.

"Tom is meeting with the network."

"Tom has food poisoning."

"Tom wrenched his back."

One week, we were walking out the front door for the half-hour drive down the 101 Freeway to Universal.

Ring, ring.

"Tom has a killer migraine."

Perhaps as a result of previous intense bouts with the network, rotten sushi, and/or bad posture.

The last one was a dilly.  We walked out the front door and even waited momentarily.  The phone remained silent.  Whew.

We got to the front gate of the Universal lot.  As we handed over our names to the clipboarded guard, he impeded our forward motion.

"Hold it right there.  I have a message for you."

Duh.

We debated whether we wanted to extend this misery any further.  Maybe next week we would get as far as the reception area.  Or maybe even his office where we could stare at his empty desk and some photo of Roseanne Barr with a moustache drawn on it.  We decided it wasn't worth the trouble and we told our agent so.

"That's okay, guys.  He was just looking to hire some writers he could beat up."

Oh.

Frankly, if we wanted to be physically abused, we could have stuck with Tony Lo Bianco.  If we were looking for that kind of treatment, we wanted to go with the expert.

Dinner last night:  Lasagna at Carlo's in Yonkers.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Classic Movie Trailer of the Month - November 2010

When going to an epic movie was a big deal....


Dinner last night:  Turkey burger at Emma's in White Plains.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Mini Photo Essay - Friday Morning in Rockefeller Center

Live from New York!  It's me.

Proof positive that you never know what you'll see on an early and crisp Friday morning in Rockefeller Center.

The Christmas tree has arrived and is ready for hoisting and decorating.  Lots of work ahead for a bunch of union workers who will be getting time and a half.  My father had the better idea.  He'd put a dry cleaning bag over our artificial and fully decorated tree and stow it in the attic.  Our Christmas tree took five minutes to put up.
The holiday season is officially upon us.  Radio City Music Hall is already featuring the annual Yuletide pageant.  There are already senior citizens waddling in.  Heck, lots of these codgers eat dinner by 4PM every day.  Why not have their Christmas celebrations on November 12?  Beat the rush.
And you can also begin your holiday shopping.  If your special friend already has a Mickey Mouse watch, why not one featuring another cartoon character?  The rumor has it that the battery on this timepiece ran out on November 2.

Dinner last night:  Turkey burger.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Yay! I Finished Another Book: FDR's Deadly Secret

I devour books about Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  I can't explain why, but his Presidency has always intrigued me.  It's not like I'm a huge fan of his domestic policies which are now viewed as failures.  Let's face it, the only way he was able to get this country out of the Depression was by finally submerging us into World War II.

And I can tell you my grandmother wasn't a big supporter.  At various times, she called him a Communist, a crook, and a "crippled son-of-a-bitch."  She would contend that FDR himself was not in the coffin he was buried in.  Instead, it was crammed full of all the papers that proved he sold us out to Japan.  Little proof was offered, but none was needed as far as Grandma was concerned.  Cutting her a little slack on this one, she did have all four of her sons in this war.  While my own father didn't get further than installing new typewriter ribbon in Japan, one of his brothers didn't make it back from France. 

Grandma blamed Roosevelt for that, too.

Maybe I became a FDR-o-phile from those years of hearing his name bandied about and cursed all throughout my childhood.  The homefront during those war years has always fascinated me.  This might have been the very last time our country was united for one single cause.  He was the Commander-in-Chief for all of that.  And when you add in some extramarital affairs, the Fireside chats, the polio, and his dog Fala, you wind up with a President that is quite compelling to me.

"FDR's Deadly Secret" by Steven Lomazon and Eric Fettman is one more book I have read on the subject.  And perhaps one of the most captivating.  Because it raises some serious issues long ignored.

For years, I had heard the same tale about how Roosevelt had died.  He was at the house in Warm Springs, Georgia.  His girlfriend Lucy Mercer was allegedly there for some frivolity.  He was sitting for a portrait.  Suddenly, he clutches his head, complains of a headache, and keels over dead.  Presumably from a cerebral hemorrhage.

Uh-huh.  Not anymore.

In this well documented book, the authors painstakingly show you that FDR was a dying man for perhaps at least two years prior to his demise.  Keep in mind that he was undoubtedly at death's door when he ran for and won his unprecedently fourth term in 1944.  One of the great misjustices that any President has ever inflicted upon the American people.

The whole story spins off the cover of the book shown above.  Take a good look at it.  A portrait of Roosevelt circa 1939 or 1940.  Look at the spot over his left eye.  It's not a birthmark.  It had been growing in size for about five years.  Most doctors see it in pictures and conclude that it is a melanoma signaling some level of skin cancer.

About a year after this photo, it disappears.  But, the damage is done.  As the authors scour over medical records, interviews, and newspaper accounts, they stitch together the likely scenario of FDR's health for the last five years of his life.

Likely, the skin cancer spread to his colon, his prostate, and/or his bladder.  Evidence is shown that, behind the scenes, his medical staff did their best to address all of it.  Yet, the only reports you ever saw in the newspapers or on the radio?

"The President just had a physical and he passed it with flying colors."

When you add to this medical mass of a man his polio and his chain smoking, you know that our President was a walking time bomb.  Yet, all the public ever learned from his two doctors, McIntyre and Bruenn, was the sketchiest and barest of information.

Imagine this in our media-happy environment today.  Obama blows his nose and it's breaking news on TMZ.

Meanwhile, half of the US population didn't even know their beloved President needed a wheelchair.  A different time, a different place, and certainly a much different vibe.  But, still, how does it happen that a man at death's door can run for President during a major world conflict and still win??

How messed up was Franklin Delano Roosevelt?  The authors take you minute-by-minute through his last days and you learn just how perilous it became for America.  Despite his impending death sentence, Roosevelt insisted on meeting with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin at Yalta in February of 1945.  Those on-hand saw a President who was clearly failing.  Indeed, many of the concessions that a sick Chief Executive negotiated that day with Stalin would torment the United States for years to come.  Many of FDR's actions on that day can only be described as inexplicable.

At the beginning of March, Roosevelt reports on Yalta in a speech to Congress.  For the very first time, he acknowledges why he is sitting down and mentions the pounds of steel wrapped around his legs.  The address that follows is an incoherent mess.  He completely mangles the words on the left side of the page.  Doctors now reason that the cancer has now spread to the right side of his brain.  The audio is available on-line.  When you listen to it, your breath is taken away.  He was the leader of the free world at the time.  And hardly equipped to do anything.  At this point, he is sleeping ten hours a day.

Still, to most Americans, Roosevelt was in top shape.

I remember when some of our recent Presidents had routine surgeries.  There were copious steps taken to ensure that the leadership of this country was uninterrupted for that hour or two in which the President might be unavailable.  Yet, just sixty-five years ago, it was a very different story. 

"FDR's Deadly Secret" is an amazing tale for anyone that's intrigued by Presidential history.  It brought to me the impossible.  New information about a President that I have studied for years.

Now if only somebody will do the book on what was buried in Roosevelt's casket.  My next reading assignment will be "FDR's Funeral Train."  Hmmmm, Grandma, your day of vindication might be at hand.

Dinner last night:  London broil and potato salad in the NY domicile.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This Day in History - November 10


Will I explain why there is a picture of Groucho Marx' TV announcer George Fenneman?  You bet your life.

1520:  DANISH KING CHRISTIAN II EXECUTES DOZENS OF PEOPLE IN THE STOCKHOLM BLOODBATH AFTER A SUCCESSFUL INVASION OF SWEDEN.

Who the hell invades Sweden?  What did they ever do to anybody?

1619:  RENE DESCARTES HAS THE DREAMS THAT INSPIRE HIS 'MEDITATIONS ON FIRST PHILOSOPHY." 

If I had dreams like that, I'd probably sleep right through them.

1775:  THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS IS FOUNDED IS FOUNDED AT TUN TAVERN IN PHILADELPHIA BY SAMUEL NICHOLAS.

It figures they were started by some drunk.  Had this not mattered, Jim Nabors wouldn't have had a TV series for five seasons.

1793:  A GODDESS OF REASON IS PROCLAIMED BY THE FRENCH CONVENTION AT THE SUGGESTION OF CHAUMETTE.

Despite what you may be thinking, it was not Oprah.  And wasn't Chaumette the inventor of the paper plate?

1865:  MAJOR HENRY WIRZ, THE SUPERINTENDENT OF A PRISON CAMP IN ANDERSONVILLE, GEORGIA, IS HANGED, BECOMING THE ONLY AMERICAN CIVIL WAR SOLDIER EXECUTED FOR WAR CRIMES.

Given how many people died in this war, the fact that there was only one war criminal is pretty amazing.

1871:  HENRY MORTON STANLEY LOCATES MISSING EXPLORER AND MISSIONARY DR. DAVID LIVINGSTONE NEAR LAKE TANGANYIKA, ALLEGEDLY GREETING HIM WITH THE WORDS " DR. LIVINGSTONE, I PRESUME?"

Does anybody wonder if Dr. Livingstone actually wanted to be found?  These days, he might simply amp up his privacy settings on Facebook.

1871:  WINSTON CHURCHILL IS BORN.

And he's very happy to learn of the discovery of Dr. Livingstone earlier in the day.

1898:  THIS MARKS THE BEGINNING OF THE WILMINGTON INSURRECTION OF 1898, THE ONLY ISNTANCE OF A MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT BEING OVERTHROWN IN US HISTORY.

Too bad, because I have a list of some other cities that need to be toppled.

1919:  THE FIRST NATIONAL CONVENTION OF THE AMERICAN LEGION IS HELD IN MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA.

At the very first American Legion hall.  Well known for kegs of beers and heaping mounds of cole slaw served on Chaumette, I mean, Chinette plates.

1919:  TV ANNOUNCER GEORGE FENNEMAN IS BORN.

His father was not available as he was attending the first national convention of the American Legion.

1923:  WORLD FAMOUS DOG HACHIKO IS BORN.

So world famous that I don't know who the fuck Hachiko is.

1925:  ACTOR RICHARD BURTON IS BORN.

And immediately started a bar tab.

1932:  ACTOR ROY SCHEIDER IS BORN.

And immediately went to look for a bigger boat.

1951:  DIRECT DIAL COAST-TO-COAST TELEVISION SERVICE BEGINS IN THE UNITED STATES.

And now the William Morris Office in Beverly Hills must develop all new reasons for avoiding their New York-based clients.

1959:  ACTRESS MACKENZIE PHILLIPS IS BORN.

Taking it one day at a time.

1969:  SESAME STREET DEBUTS.

Providing a great way to get a bunch of Muppets off the unemployment lines.

1975:  THE FREIGHTER SS EDMUND FITZGERALD SINKS DURING A STORM ON LAKE SUPERIOR.

And, after that, we got stuck with that dreadful song from Gordon Lightfoot.

1992:  ACTOR CHUCK CONNORS DIES.

Aw, he wasn't so tough.

2006:  ACTOR JACK PALANCE DIES.

And neither was he.

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

And tomorrow?  From the other coast.