Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Morning Video Laugh - January 31, 2011

A winter must!  For all you morons who insist on breaking bones in your bodies...

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

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Learning to Drive

For reasons I'll go into in a blog post next week, I've been spending some time lately in the Department of Motor Vehicles.  This experience, where common and innocent citizens are thrown haphazardly together with the scourge of society, got me flashing back again to my youth.  To the days when I was learning to drive.  On my father's car and the photo above is a bluish-gray colored version of a Buick Skylark. 

Indeed, learn to drive in this car also probably qualified me to captain Cleopatra's barge.  It was that big.  The passenger side of the car was in another area code.  You could easily stretch out on the back seat without bending your legs.  I suppose that a driver's education in this u-boat essentially ramped up my ability to drive a car of any size.  But, still, whenever I got behind the wheel, I couldn't help but remember....

...this was Dad's car.

Most kids these days count the days to the birthday when they can get their learner's permit and start the process to become motorists.  I was no different.  I jumped on the chance to take the written exam and I aced it.  That learner's permit was in my pocket before the ink on my sixteenth birthday cards was dry.

Except, once I could legally get behind a wheel, I didn't.  Was it fear of driving?  Or a fear of intruding into my father's sacred lair?  Either way, the permit yellowed in my wallet as I was apparently in no hurry to learn how to turn an ignition.

Ironically, my father is the one who first broached the notion of putting me behind a wheel.  We started with very tiny baby steps.  There was an isolated road down by the smelly Pelham Bay creek.  On warm summer nights, the air there made you vomit.  But, that is where I first hit a gas pedal.  I drove no more than 50 feet.  There was about six months of that exercise.  The humid July evenings morphed into crisp November weekend afternoons.  And there I was...driving the Skylark the same fifty feet.

Eventually, I graduated to another training ground.  One Sunday, we were out "visiting the relatives" at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.  After saying "hi" to Grandpa, my father surprised the shit out of me. 

"Get behind the wheel."

Okay.  Fifty feet?

"No, we can go further.  For a while."

Really?  Now?  Why here?

"It's the perfect place.  You can't kill anybody.  They're already dead."

Oh.

And so I went.  Way beyond fifty feet.  Essentially, we slowly tooled all around Woodlawn.  Up hills, down hills, around curves, on straightaways.  It was one big training ground for me.  And that was my next level of driver's education.

And there we stayed for the next six months.  Motoring through the nooks and crannies of Woodlawn Cemetery.  And, then, one Sunday, another shock from Dad.  We were zipping along one side of the place when he announced that he wanted to go home.  Okay.  I offered to pull over.

"No, that's okay.  You can drive home."

Gulp.  Outside these gates, there are real people.  And they're alive.

I steeled myself and headed to the Webster Avenue gate.  Oh, my God!  Traffic.

It was no more than a ten minute drive.  But, it seemed like an eternity.  And I seemed to hit every red light along the way.  Shit.

Now that I was out amongst the motorists of the Bronx, I stayed there.  For another six months.  The same trip.  From Woodlawn to 15th Avenue in Mount Vernon.  In retrospect, it was the best...and longest way to get the feel of commandering this tank.

I don't remember if there was an official announcement but, at some juncture, I was pronounced fit to go for my road test.  Although, unless the exam was being given inside Woodlawn, I would be petrified.  No such luck.  In Westchester during those days, the Department of Motor Vehicles gave their road tests on Vredenburgh Avenue in Yonkers behind what used to be Nathan's.  Naturally, my examiner was a fat Black woman.

"Yall make a right at da corner."

Yes, ma'am.

"Where all is your blinkers?"

Right here, ma'am.

"Yuz bin drivin' long?"

Don't you have any relatives buried in Woodlawn?  Apparently not, because then you would know the answer to that question.

I passed.  As I beamed with pride, the examiner went off to have her third hot dog of the morning.

My father, as usual, didn't say much.  He never did.  But, I'm sure that he was proud.  His two year-long driver's education class had paid off.

To be continued.

Dinner last night:  Hamburger at Boho.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Classic Movie Trailer of the Month - January 2011

Ideal for a snowy winter's Saturday afternoon.


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

Friday, January 28, 2011

Attention: Walmart Shoppers - Chapter 1

Welcome to the armpit of America.
Er, if that's an invitation....um, no.
Mother and daughter transvestites.  Or is that father and son transvestites?  Or is that mother and son transvestites?  Oh, never mind...
"You have any fat free salad dressing?"
She's ready for her next tax deduction.  At a moment's notice.

Why is she even in the clothing department?
The goat refused to wait in the car.
That self-esteem therapy is paying off.

Dinner last night:  Pasta salad.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

2011 is the Year of the Fix

No, this is not an entry about sports gambling.  Once again, the fix I'm referring is all about....well, me.  And the explanation for this photo is coming in just a few short paragraphs.  You'll have to pay attention today, gang.

Regular readers already have seen evidence of the renovations currently going on in my New York abode.  But, new cherry wood cabinets and ceramic counters won't do anything to fix the "Len inside."   

You may have read that my visit to the Dodger orthopaedist late last Fall put me into physical therapy.  This has resulted in some largely positive results in strengthening the muscle I have left in my arthritic right knee.  And, given that one of the game show-like stunts my therapist has me doing is standing on one leg on a trampoline with my eyes closed, I may now qualify for the next Cirque Du Soleil open call.  The bottom line is that my right knee has never felt better and I am zipping up and down stairs now without caressing the bannister like it was Valerie Bertinelli.

While on one of my visits, I noted that the place had an affiliation with a personal trainer.  Actually, he has his own business but uses the gym equipment at the therapy site. 

Hmmmmmm......

Except for the last several years, I've always tried to do a moderate amount of exercise every week.  Oh, sure, sometimes it was just long walks, but exercise nonetheless.  Hell, back in the 90s, I became a little bit of a gym rat and was at Court Sports in Yonkers four times a week.  But, I never did any of these regimens with any expert guidance whatsoever.  And, at this stage in life, why not?  I probably need to know the right fitness program for me. 

Yeah, I signed up.  I doubt I'll look like those Navy guys in the photo above.  But, after all,....

This is the Year of the Fix.  And I am fixing myself.

My first several sessions with my personal trainer (how Hollywood does that sound?) were eye openers.  As it turns out, most gym rats are not doing the right program for their bodies.  Suddenly, I'm the smartest guy in the place.  Jeff, who previously worked in New York with both the Knicks and the Nets, certainly knows what he is doing.  And now so do I.

It's all about stretching.  And Jeff certainly flexed me in so many different ways I wanted to remind him that I wasn't Gumby.  Leg over here.  Arm over there.  Bend in this direction.  Bend in that direction.  He tells me that I have a lot more mobility than I realize.  I thank him for the compliment.  Now please help me up from the floor.

Again, I am a work in progress, but I leave an hour with Jeff feeling more nimble and invigorated than ever before.

I press the elevator button.  Even in the Year of the Fix, I'm not walking down six flights of stairs.  Heck, what good did all that exercise do for Jack LaLanne?  He couldn't even make it past the age of 96.

Dinner last night:  French dip sandwich at Houston's.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

This Day in History - January 26

Just like the good General, I return here with a history lesson every Wednesday.  Whether you like it or not.

1340:  KING EDWARD III OF ENGLAND IS DECLARED KING OF FRANCE.

That's what he gets for swimming the Channel.

1500:  VICENTE YANEZ PINZON BECOMES THE FIRST EUROPEAN TO SET FOOT ON BRAZIL.

On purpose?

1531:  LISBON, PORTUGAL IS HIT BY A AN EARTHQUAKE AND THOUSANDS DIE.

In the days before television, how would George Clooney raise money for this?

1564:  THE COUNCIL OF TRENT ISSUES ITS CONCLUSIONS IN THE TRIDENTIUM, ESTABLISHING A DISTINCTION BETWEEN ROMAN CATHOLICISM AND PROTESTANTISM.

And also changing the world of sugarless gum for all mankind.

1589:  JOB IS ELECTED AS PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA.

If this is the same guy from the Bible, he's really, really, really old.  Really, really, really, really, really old.

1700:  THE MAGNITUDE 9 CASCADIA EARTHQUAKE TAKES PLACE OFF THE WEST COAST OF NORTH AMERICA.

Obviously an earth-shaking day in history.

1736:  STANISLAUS I OF POLAND ABDICATES HIS THRONE.

You can't fool me.  There ain't no Stanislaus.

1808:  THE RUM REBELLION IS HELD.  THIS IS THE ONLY SUCCESSFUL (ALBEIT SHORT-LIVED) ARMED TAKEOVER OF THE GOVERNMENT IN AUSTRALIA.

Now that's something worth fighting for.

1837:  MICHIGAN IS ADMITTED AS THE 26TH US STATE.

And our unemployment percentages haven't been the same since.

1861:  DURING THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR, THE STATE OF LOUISIANA SECEDES FROM THE UNION.

Well, that was one way to get rid of those assholes running New Orleans.

1880:  GENERAL DOUGLAS MACARTHUR IS BORN.

When he died in 1964, he said "his boss passed away."  So, for years, I thought MacArthur looked like Mr. Dithers.

1892:  ACTRESS ZARA CULLY IS BORN.

Mother Jefferson!!!!

1893:  BASEBALL INVENTOR ABNER DOUBLEDAY DIES.

Three outs.

1905:  THE CULLINAN DIAMOND IS FOUND AT THE PREMIER MINE NEAR PRETORIA IN SOUTH AFRICA.

Hey, Cullinan Man!

1905:  ACTOR CHARLES LANE IS BORN.

You've seen the face.  This guy did a guest shot on every television sitcom ever produced.  And he lasted till he was 102.  That's a lot of residual checks.

1905:  SINGER MARIA VON TRAPP IS BORN.

The hills are officially alive.

1923:  ACTRESS ANNE JEFFREYS IS BORN.

Marian Kirby from the "Topper" TV show.  And the only women ever to look good with her hair in a bun.

1924:  ST. PETERSBURG IS RENAMED LENINGRAD.

Not the one which was the winter home of the New York Mets.  In case you're wondering.

1930:  THE INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS DECLARES JANUARY 26 AS INDEPENDENCE DAY FOR POORNA SWARAJ.

I have no idea what this means or why I included it, but I just got a call from a phone solicitor and it was on my mind.

1932:  INDUSTRIALIST WILLIAM WRIGLEY DIES.

Life, like the flavor in gum, doesn't last forever.

1950:  THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA COMES INTO FORCE, FORMING A REPUBLIC.  RAJENDRA PRASAD IS SWORN IN AS ITS FIRST PRESIDENT OF INDIA.

And still thinking about it....

1955:  ROCKER EDDIE VAN HALEN IS BORN.

Which means he's an Aquarian.  Just like me.  And he used to sleep with Valerie Bertinelli.  Just like me.  Well, kind of.

1961:  PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY APPOINTS JANET G. TRAVELL TO BE HIS PHYSICIAN.  THIS IS THE FIRST TIME A WOMAN HOLDS THIS APPOINTMENT.

Well, it figures.  I bet he loved to turn his head and cough.

1962:  MOBSTER LUCKY LUCIANO DIES.

The name is no longer working.

1965:  HINDI BECOMES THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF INDIA.

What's India's freakin' fascination with the date of January 26?

1980:  ISRAEL AND EGYPT ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS.

Yeah, that worked out real well.

1979:  POLITICAN NELSON ROCKEFELLER DIES.

While schtupping his girlfriend.  He wasn't feeling Happy that day.

1992:  ACTOR JOSE FERRER DIES.

Mr. Rosemary Clooney to you.

1997:  ASTROLOGER JEANE DIXON DIES.

I bet we finally caught her by surprise.

1998:  US PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON DENIES HAVING HAD SEXUAL RELATIONS WITH FORMER INTERN MONICA LEWINSKY.

We know better now, don't we?

2007:  HOCKEY PLAYER GUMP WORSLEY DIES.

Anybody with the first name of "Gump" deserves a mention.

Dinner last night:  Beef tacos.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Saul and Heshe Nosh on the Oscar Nominations

They've been here before and you've loved them.  My two favorite Hollywood grizzled veterans, Saul and Heshe.  They love to lunch and talk Tinseltown.  And here's what their noontime conversation at Greenblatt's Delicatessen might sound like today now that the Oscar nominations have been announced.

"Did you get up at 530AM this morning to listen?"

"I haven't been up at 530 in the morning since Angie Dickinson was schtupping JFK."

"You mean when Angie Dickinson was schtupping you..."

"I mean when Angie Dickinson was schtupping anybody.  530 in the morning?  I'm a chicken?"

"They announced the nominations this morning."

"I was on the treadmill.  I want to as long as that fresser Jack LaLanne.  Rumor is he's going to carry his own casket at the funeral."

"Focus, please.  The Oscars."

"Yeah, yeah.  Another year of nominations and I've seen none of the movies."

"I don't even read their mail anymore.  Besides, there's no AARP discount on dues."

"You see the movies that cleaned up with nominations?  The Social Network."

"Facebook, shmacebook.  I want a friend, I go to Musso and Frank's and ask for Manny the head waiter."

"Dirty martini, two olives.  That's how I get social."

"Did you see this 'Schwatza Schwan'?"

"What is that?  One of those foreign movies?"

"No.  'Schwatza Schwan.'  That ballet thing."

"Oy, the wife made me go.  Hello?  Where was Shirley MacLaine?  Where was Anne Bancroft?  Where was that skinny Russian?"

"I slept like a baby.  But, you gotta admit.  That Natalie Portman.  I wouldn't kick out of a Studebaker."

"But, with that eye make-up in the commercial.  A little too much Helena Rubinstein.  She thinks she's Virginia Graham?"

"How about that 'True Grit'?"

"Loved it.  Duke Wayne was the best.  I always wished he would have taken a swing at Jane Fonda."

"No, no, no.  The remake."

"Glen Campbell wasn't in it?  He was such a nice boy.  I think he runs the Coffee Bean down the block."

"You got egg salad in your ears?  They did that movie again.  With Jeff Bridges.  The eye patch and the whole mishegoss."

"That eye patch.  Moshe Dayan, line two.  Are they coming on the left?"

"Well, you must have seen 'Toy Story 3'?"

"Loved, loved, loved it.  But it was darker than this missus' hair thirty years ago."

"I thought so, too.  Toys sliding down to be burned in an incinerator.  Eichmann must be hiding at Pixar."

"And 'The King's Speech' was wonderful.  If the King stuttered, Norm Crosby could have done that part."

"No fooling,  Norm-i-la, fire that manager please."

"Annette Bening got nominated again."

"That gives her almost a month to find a comb.  Hello, Rite Aid on Sunset has them."

"Everybody's looking at her husband anyway.  Even I want to fuck Warren."

"I think I did."

"No, no, you're getting confused.  That was Dom DeLuise."

"Potato, potatoe.  All the same to me.  Like all those movies with those frecockta 3-D glasses."

"A headache like this I need?  All that shit looks the same as it did when Vincent Price was running in the House of Wax.  Oy."

"And, also, who needs to go to the movies and see somebody cut off their arm like in that hiking movie?"

"Cut at the elbow, extra lean, please.  Not interested.  With today's ticket prices, it's already an arm and a leg."

"Did you see that Inception?"

"That's Catholic, right?"

"No, no, the Leo DeCaprio movie with all the video game explosions.  I still don't know which end was up."

"Watched it at home and my end was up.  I was face down asleep on the couch."

"Oh, you did that Nitflax thing."

"Yeah, yeah, the red envelope in the mail.  The one that doesn't have the Ralph's coupons for Efferdent inside."

"Where is this world coming to?  Back when, you went out to see a double feature, you had a nice meal, and then maybe you got a little somethin' on the way home." 

"Today.  One movie.  The restaurant you like just closed up and so did the missus."

"Do I pick up the check or is it you?"

"Eh, neither.  Let's send it over to Larry King's table."

Dinner last night:  Chicken piccata.

Breaking News:  In my Oscar pool, my friend Dennis leads with 29 out of a potential 35 correct nomination pix.  I am in second, one behind.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Morning Video Laugh - January 24, 2011

This hilarity went incredibly viral last week.  The only problem is that this asshole now wants to sue the shopping mall because she has been humiliated after this tape was released by mall security!  She really should seek litigation against her parents who donated the DNA to create this incredibly stupid bitch. But, now we hear that she may be a fraud altogether. Perhaps I should call this a "video sob."


Dinner last night:  Grilled panini with dried cappacollo, muenster cheese, turkey, and sundried tomatoes.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Sunday Memory Drawer - A Long Walk for Colorforms

Crap, this picture brings it all back to me.  I had this exact same Colorforms play set.  I'm closing my eyes and I'm on the living room floor, putting Popeye, Olive, and Bluto through some very primitive plot structure.  Or as creative as a 6-year-old boy can be. 

Back then, Colorforms was my absolute favorite toy.  You peeled these vinyl pieces off a black plastic board and you positioned them against some backdrop.  From there, your imagination could run wild.  And mine certainly did.

Besides Popeye, there was Willie the Weatherman.  You had this image of a kid in his underwear.  You dressed him up according to whatever weather you saw outside.  Or you could get silly and put galoshes and a bathing suit on him.

I remember a Flintstones play set that was great until I somehow lost the pieces that made up Wilma.  I was distraught until I adapted my future scripts to account for the loss by announcing that Wilma had passed on just like my Uncle Fritz.  In my scenarios, Fred was now a widower.

The really cool thing about all Colorforms was the smell.  That new toy "plasticky" aroma that just permeated everything around you and made a kid proud that this particular plaything was in his toy chest.  I'd do anything and everything to get a new edition of Colorforms.

And, one day, I did.  Miraculously, I lived to tell the story years later.

It was summertime and, for some bizarre reason, I had five dollars in my pocket.  Perhaps several weeks of allowance had accrued.  Or, more likely, it was some sort of gift from Tante Emma.  She was a good one to hand out five dollar bills for special events like birthdays or school achievements.  How ever the money landed in my possession, it was, as my dad would always say, "burning a hole" in my pocket.   

And it was the total right amount for a new Colorforms addition to my little world.

Now, in those days, the one store that seemed to stock the widest assortment of Colorforms was a toy emporium on the corner of 233rd Street and White Plains Road in the Bronx.  Exactly 1.2 miles from my house.   Underneath the IRT train station past the Wakefield Theater and just before my family's favorite Italian restaurant, Sorrento's.  I knew the neighborhood well. 

Backtracking to a Sunday Memory Drawer entry of several weeks ago, you may recall my tendency to be a trifle impatient just like my grandmother.  She and I were cut from the same cloth.  When we wanted something, we would immediately go out and get it.  I had the coin.  I wanted new Colorforms.  The time was now. 

So, instead of waiting for my dad to drive me down to the toy store or perhaps do a little detour visit the next time we went for Friday night pizza at Sorrento's, I decided to undertake this all by myself.  After all, it was a beautiful summer day.  Why not?  I'll walk to the toy store.  By myself.

I probably was no more than seven years old at the time.

While the world back then offered kids a lot safer environment than today, a two mile round trip on foot was the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest.  Yet, I thought nothing of it.  Heck, I knew there were some big streets to cross, but I had already learned the difference of "Walk" and "Don't Walk" signs.  I couldn't get lost.  The route from my house to the toy store and back was a virtual straight line down White Plains Road.  This wasn't so hard.

It was so easy that I didn't even bother to tell my parents about my trek. 

Off I went.

Onto the main road.  Past Charlie's Delicatessen and the car wash.  Past the phone company building which was right near the Bronx/Mount Vernon border.  Past the dry cleaners and, on the other side of the street, Barney's Restaurant which my father's cousin owned.  Past the newstand where my father would always buy the "night owl" edition of the Daily News.  I was now at the beginning of the elevated tracks that began at 241st Street. 

I was at my first very big street to cross. 

I exerted schoolboy caution.  I waited patiently for the light to change.  I was going to do this right.  My folks would be so proud of me.

Once across six lanes of traffic, I was now venturing into the Dullsville portion of my journey.  Lots of factories and warehouses.  I could hear the subway train screeches above me.  Up on my left was the poultry place where my grandmother would sometimes buy some live foul.  They would cut their heads off in back.  I covered my eyes and ran past their driveway.  Instead, I let my other senses take in the heavenly scent of anisette from the A & M Italian Bakery across the street.  We bought our ravioli there.

I was at the next big street to traverse.  238th Street.  Another six lanes of traffic.  As I waited for lights to change again, I noticed the storefront of the German delicatessen which had the best German potato salad.  My family always got salads there for Sunday supper.  I was impressed.  I had come this far.

There was more to see once past 238th Street.  The building where my dentist, Dr. Reiner, had offices.  The Finast super market where my grandfather would take my grandmother when she was bored with the A&P on Oak Street in Mount Vernon.  More stores.  And then the Wakefield Theater.  Wow.  How far I had gone!  Next door was the shoe repair shop which was owned by my neighborhood buddy Leo's uncle.  I was this close to new Colorforms.

One last big street stood in my way.  233rd Street.  But, by now, I was a veteran.  I crossed it with ease. 

I lingered for about fifteen minutes in the toy store itself.  I had to soak the day all in.  This was an amazing accomplishment.  I don't remember which Colorforms playset I bought that day, but I tucked it safely under my arm for the return trip to Mount Vernon. 

I couldn't have been gone for more than ninety minutes.  But, for me at a tender age, it was the equivalent of flying to Paris for lunch.  Indeed, nobody at home had even realized I was gone.  Grandma assumed I was upstairs.  Mom must have assumed I was downstairs.  I had been in neither place.

And I would have gotten away with it forever had I not made the cardinal mistake of playing gleefully with my new Colorforms on the living room floor.  Right in front of my mother.  And she had a very precise mental inventory of my Colorforms collection.

"Is that new?"

Ummmm.....

"Did your father take you to the store to get that?"

Ummmm.....

I could cross big streets, but coming up with great lies on the spot?  Not yet.

I imagine the mystery of the new Colorforms was Topic A with my parents behind closed doors.  About a week later, my dad and I were in the car doing our normal Saturday errands.  Right around the route of my wondrous adventure.  He stopped the car at a corner.

"How far did you go?"

Ummmm......

His tone of voice was an interesting mix of emotions.  Sternness with a hint of pride.  Maybe he was as impressed as I had been.

"Did you cross 241st Street?"

Ummmm......

"Did you get as far as the Wakefield Theater?"

Ummmm......

I don't think he ever got an answer from me.

And, for the next two weeks, I never did know where Mom had hidden those new Colorforms.

Dinner last night:  Kobe beef burger at Cafe Montana.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Classic TV Commercial of the Month - January 2011

There's still time for that after-Christmas sale.


Dinner last night:  Grilled roast beef dip sandwich at BJ's.

Friday, January 21, 2011

My 2010 Oscar Nomination Predictions

Here we go again, gang.  The Academy Award nominations are being announced next Tuesday morning and, once again, I'm in an erstwhile competition with my two good friends/movie geeks on the East Coast. 

Each year, Lorraine, Dennis, and I predict the nominations in the top six categories.  We then each take our count of correct guesses into Oscar night when we then try and prognosticate the winners for all awards.  The one with the most points wins.  At some point, the two losers buy the winner a meal.   I've been winning most years and my two chums must think that my Hollywood placement gives me a leg up.  Heck, it's not like Academy voters are slipping me inside dope underneath a bathroom stall in Boa Steakhouse.  Truth be told, it's not that difficult to guess what these morons are thinking in Tinseltown.

Well, anyway, here are my nomination picks.  Dennis and Lorraine are reading them for the first time as well.  I'll do absolutely anything to boost blog readership.

Let's start with the biggest category of all, which now contains ten nominees.  It's amazing to think that there are a total of ten good movies in any year, but I was not consulted on the new ruling.

BEST PICTURE

1.  BLACK SWAN:  I have yet to see this.  Most are raving about it.  Except, while I was in physical therapy one day, I overheard two ballet dancers talking about how ludicrous the movie was.  Still, it's got a whole shitload of buzz.

2.  THE FIGHTER:  A wonderful example of how the Academy mistakes a weak script and gross overacting for a good film.  It was okay, but certainly not worth the hype. 

3.  INCEPTION:  As the Academy gets younger and younger, we will see more evidence of them nominating video games for Best Picture.  This movie was virtually incomprehensible, but, if you're an Academy voter under 30, you will vote for it.  A huge and utter mess to anybody else.

4.  THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT:  The movie, however, was not.  Never has so much praise been dumped onto so mediocre a movie.  But, if you're an Academy voter in a serious same sex relationship, you will vote for it.  That's probably half the Academy membership.

5.  THE KING'S SPEECH:  Arguably the best movie to be produced in 2010.  Terrific story, remarkable acting, and educational to boot. 

6.  127 HOURS:  I have yet to see this movie, mainly because I have either just eaten or about to eat.  Also known as "Amputation for Dummies."  I'm sure it's decent and, with ten slots, it will likely sneak in.  I will wait to Netflix it so I can easily go into another room for long stretches.

7.  THE SOCIAL NETWORK:  It cleaned up at the Golden Globes, but what do reporters from Argentina know?  A great commercial movie that makes you want to delete your Facebook account as soon as you get home. 

8.  THE TOWN:  Once again, with ten slots, shit will seep through a leak in any septic tank.  Except for that Fenway Park heist at the end, this film is largely uninteresting.  It will also win for "Most Excessively Foul Language Ever."

9.  TRUE GRIT:  I have yet to sample this remake, but I hear the acting carries it over the top.  Or at least to this list of nominees.

10.  TOY STORY 3:  For the third installment of a movie concept, this was amazingly clever and original.  Also one of the best pictures I saw in 2010.  It will get named in this category and probably win the award for Best Animated Feature.

BEST DIRECTOR

1.  DARREN ARONOFSKY, BLACK SWAN:  I hear the movie ultimately comes off like a horror film.

2.  DAVID FINCHER, THE SOCIAL NETWORK:  Everybody wants to confirm him as a friend.

3.  TOM HOOPER, THE KING'S SPEECH:  Thhhhaatt's all, folks.

4.  CHRISTOPHER NOLAN, INCEPTION:  Although I have no clue why.

5.  DAVID O'RUSSELL, THE FIGHTER:  I struggled over this fifth nominee.  I would not be surprised if it goes to the Coen Brothers for True Grit.  But, something tells me this guy will sneak in.  If you're an Academy voter who roots for the Boston Red Sox, you will vote for O'Russell.

BEST ACTOR

1.  JESSE EISENBERG, THE SOCIAL NETWORK:  An easy category to call.  Jesse's a lock.

2.  JEFF BRIDGES, TRUE GRIT:  Eyepatches always work.  If he wins, I hope he thanks his stunt double because I know the guy.

3.  COLIN FIRTH, THE KING'S SPEECH:  The likely winner come Oscar night.

4.  JAMES FRANCO, 127 HOURS:  A disarming performance.

5.  ROBERT DUVALL, GET LOW:  Because he kept turning up on the buzz meter, I went to see this movie which few others did.  A decent performance in a boring film.  The scruffier the appearance, the better the Oscar odds.  And, in this picture, Duvall looks like he's missing a whole month of Saturday baths.

BEST ACTRESS

1.  ANNETTE BENING, THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT:  Anybody see her accept at the Golden Globes?  Her hair looked like she combed with one of those wire whisks you use to make chicken gravy.

2.  JENNIFER LAWRENCE, WINTER'S BONE:  I Netflixed this and was unimpressed.  But, it's another hillbilly woman fighting for justice in the world.  Elly May Clampett has gone to the Dark Side.

3.  NATALIE PORTMAN, BLACK SWAN:  Because everybody is telling me she can't miss.

4.  NICOLE KIDMAN, RABBIT HOLE:  The Academy never misses a chance to nominate Nicole, even though the Academy totally missed this movie.  It was released to theaters for a grand total of about three hours.

5.  LESLEY MANVILLE, ANOTHER YEAR:  My longshot pick of the year.  Every time she is on the screen in this terrific but thoroughly depressing movie, you cannot look away from the screen. 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

1.  CHRISTIAN BALE, THE FIGHTER:  Way, way over-the-top performance and borderline histrionic.  He is not acting, but mimicking the real life person he is playing.  If impersonation wins awards, how come Rich Little and Fred Travalena never got Oscars?

2.  ANDREW GARFIELD, THE SOCIAL NETWORK:  Along with Eisenberg, the other anchor of this movie.

3.  JEREMY RENNER, THE TOWN:  F^ck, f*ck, f$ck, f#ck.  And that's pretty much Renner's entire role in this film. 

4.  GEOFFREY RUSH, THE KING'S SPEECH:  My choice to win.  But, psst, I'm not a member of the Academy.

5.  MICHAEL DOUGLAS, WALL STREET NEVER SLEEPS:  The announcement that he is finished with his cancer treatment coincided with this movie coming out on DVD.  And both happened when ballots went out.  Hollywood never misses an opportunity for a real-life sob story.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

1.  AMY ADAMS, THE FIGHTER:  Like Thelma Ritter during the 1950s, they just love to nominate her.

2.  HELENA BONHAM CARTER, THE KING'S SPEECH:  The Queen Mum may not have to abdicate.

3.  MILA KUNIS, BLACK SWAN:  No clue, but I am simply doing what I have read.

4.  MELISSA LEO, THE FIGHTER:  More screaming in a category where those kinds of roles usually score high.

5.  HAILEE STEINFELD, TRUE GRIT:  Everybody tells me this kid steals the movie, so why not?  Once again, in this category, young girls are never ever ignored.

Check back on Tuesday to find out just how "right" I am.

Dinner last night:  Grilled pork chop, home fried potatoes, and Chinese kale.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

This Week's NY Home Renovation Update

Three thousand miles away from where I write this, progress is happening on the much needed updates to my New York apartment.  The bathroom is coming along nicely as you will see below.
That wall over the sink and toilet used to be covered by this cumbersome medicine cabinet which stretched across the room.  Way too much mirror unless you're living with Errol Flynn.  I've opted for a smaller hutch and some shelves which have yet to arrive.  My contractor has also installed a new electric switch, which was much needed. 
This guy is working on the shower tile.  Or perhaps a terror cell has hidden in my apartment.
Stop staring at it and get to work!
I'm kind of digging those ceramic shelves in the shower.

Next week, the kitchen cabinets arrive.  I can't wait to see the final invoice.

Dinner last night:  Turkey burger and broccoli cole slaw.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

This Day in History - January 19

Oh, it's Little Ricky's birthday.  Sort of.    I will s'plain later on.

1511:  MIRANDOLA SURRENDERS TO THE FRENCH.

How freakin' weak is Mirandola if they can't beat the scummy French.

1764:  JOHN WILKES IS EXPELLED FROM THE BRITISH HOUSE OF COMMONS FOR SEDITIOUS LIBEL.

Those two names don't have a great track record when it comes to history.

1806:  THE UNITED KINGDOM OCCUPIES THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE.

I'm guessing Mirandola couldn't do that either.

1807:  CONFEEDERATE GENERAL ROBERT E. LEE IS BORN.

He wasn't just a steamboat.

1840:  CAPTAIN CHARLES WILKES CIRCUMNAVIGATES ANTARCTICA, CLAIMING WHAT BECAME KNOWN AS WILKES LAND FOR THE UNITED STATES.

Another Wilkes mistake.  What do we need Antarctica for?  Don't we already have enough snow in Minnesota?

1853:  GUISEPPE VERDI'S OPERA "IL TROVATORE" PREMIERES IN ROME.

Also coincides with the invention of the nap.

1883:  THE FIRST ELECTRIC LIGHTING SYSTEM EMPLOYING OVERHEAD WIRES, BUILT BY THOMAS EDISON, BEGINS SERVICE IN ROSELLE, NEW JERSEY.

As if there's anything to see in Roselle, New Jersey.

1904:  MISSISSIPPI GOVERNOR JAMES VARDAMAN DECLARED THAT "AN EDUCATED BLACK MAN IS MORE DANGEROUS THAN A CRIMINAL."

I'll leave it up to you all.  Please come up with your own joke.

1915:  GEORGES CLAUDE PATENTS THE NERO DISCHARGE TUBE FOR USE IN ADVERTISING.

Anybody who's been in horribly garish Times Square lately now wishes this guy had been shot.

1920:  THE UNITED STATES SENATE VOTES AGAINST JOINING THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS.

Because they wanted to continue having a designated senator.  That joke may take a while for you.

1923:  ACTRESS JEAN STAPLETON IS BORN.

Stifle!

1930:  ACTRESS TIPPI HEDREN IS BORN.

People tell me she is a real bitch, so I guess the birds had the right idea.

1935:  COOPERS INC. SELLS THE WORLD'S FIRST BRIEFS.

You just got the League of Nations gag, didn't you?

1937:  HOWARD HUGHES SETS A NEW AIR RECORD BY FLYING FROM LOS ANGELES TO NEW YORK IN 7 HOURS, 28 MINUTES, 25 SECONDS.

These days, you can spend that long just trying to get past TSA.

1942:  DURING WORLD WAR II, JAPAN INVADES BURMA.

A close shave.

1944:  ACTRESS SHELLEY FABARES IS BORN.

Her aunt is Nanette Fabray and I've always wondered just who was the misspeller in the family.

1946:  DOLLY PARTON IS BORN.

Thank God her mother didn't have to push her down the birth canal fully developed.

1953:  68 PERCENT OF ALL TVS IN THE US ARE TUNED TO WATCH LUCY RICARDO GIVE BIRTH ON "I LOVE LUCY."

And her real son, Desi Arnaz Jr., was born on the same day.  But he wasn't Little Ricky on the show.  You'd be surprised how many idiots out there don't know that.  But, then again, how long did it take you to get the League of Nations joke?

1977:  FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, SNOW FALLS IN MIAMI.

Real snow, not the stuff in the plastic bags that drug runners import into Florida all the time.

1983:  NAZI WAR CRIMINAL KLAUS BARBIE IS ARRESTED IN BOLIVIA.

Not to be confused with Klaus Ken or Klaus Skipper.

2000:  ACTRESS HEDY LAMARR DIES.

Hedley.  By the way, she invented the cell phone?  Did you know that?  You folks out there who thought Desi Arnaz Jr. was Little Ricky on television.

2006:  ACTOR ANTHONY FRANCIOSA DIES.

Just two weeks after I gave him wine during Holy Communion at Christmas Eve service.  Gee, Tony, I'm sorry...

2008:  ACTRESS SUZANNE PLESHETTE DIES.

Tobacco companies across America dimmed their lights for a minute in tribute.

Dinner last night:  Spaghetti and meatballs.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Yay! I Finished Another Book - FDR's Funeral Train by Robert Klara

And, no, I did not read this book in its Kindle edition.  Yep, I need an actual book in my hands.  With pages that turn.  The kind where you can look and see just how much you've read and how much you have to go before you finish. 

But, I digress...

The last book I surveyed here was "FDR's Deadly Secret," which detailed how the public was duped by Franklin Roosevelt's doctors for the past two years of his Presidency.  He really had cancer that spread through his system and, most notably, his brain.  Another Chief Executive with a conflicted thought process.  Except, I guess, FDR had a good excuse.

Well, "FDR's Funeral Train" by Robert Klara is a perfect follow-up in this saga.  Ironically, both books by separate authors came out at virtually the same time.  Catnip for us kitties who can't get enough kibble about the multi-dimensional FDR.    A great wartime President.  A questionable failure on the domestic and economic front.  And, apparently, a fireball in the sack. 

Back when FDR went buns up in 1945, the major form of transportation in the United States was the rail system.  Of course, Roosevelt had made whistle stop tours an almost daily occurrance during his election campaigns.  In the days before Air Force One, there was a Presidential railcar.  The Ferdinand Magellan.   It was the lap of luxury on the rails.  And it would be part of the final ride that FDR ever took.

The book opens in Warm Springs, Georgia when Roosevelt grabs for his forehead in anguish as he is sitting for a portrait commissioned by his longtime girlfriend, Lucy Mercer, who just happens to be in the room while Eleanor is off in Washington worrying about the great unwashed.  Within an hour, FDR is dead.  And Lucy and her painter scoot out of there faster than you can say "New Deal."   That's just the beginning of a captivating recount of Roosevelt's last days on the top side of the front lawn.

There is actually something magical and majestic about the transistion of power in such a civilized and methodical manner.  The President of the United States is dead.  The Vice President Harry Truman is sworn in.  And the haberdasher from Missouri suddenly realizes that his boss hasn't kept him in the loop on some significant issues.  The creation and testing of the atomic bomb, for instance.  Another sterling example of how the revered FDR was not exactly the genius history has made him out to be.

Meanwhile, the now widowed Eleanor hightails it down to Georgia and the Warm Springs folks work overtime to make sure that the now former First Lady doesn't find out who the hubby was diddling with when God sent his bags down to the lobby.  Of course, before the casket lining is warm, Eleanor does figure it out.  And this is something that she must process along with her grief over the next several days.  Escorting his body on the rails from Georgia to Washington and then ultimated to Hyde Park, New York where he is ultimately planted on his family's estate.

Also in the mix on that train are politicians jockeying for space with the new administration, Roosevelt family members trying to figure out what was next, and a new President who is taking over the country in the middle of a World War.  Klara wastes nary a word or a punctuation mark in weaving a tight, but concise depiction of four days in the history of this country.  Despite the fact that he was ill, the death of FDR was almost as shocking as the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963.  And the outpouring of grief in 1945 was as great.  Thanks to the author's expert narration, you feel every sigh and tear.

The book also acts as a wonderful description of American train travel in the 1940s.  You learn how train cars are attached, how routes are planned, and how intricate the tracking system was.  Indeed, part of the FDR funeral train route in New York followed the Hudson line that I still frequently take into Manhattan.  In many ways, much of that gridwork still exists and you realize that real history happened just outside those Metro North train doors.

Klara touches on a bit the mystery behind FDR's death.  Reporters on the train ride home were already speculating that the President was a lot sicker than his doctors were reporting.  But, that's not the real focus of the tale.  It's about the single united emotion that our country has felt at very isolated moments in our nation's history.  When our leaders change.  And you realize just how powerful a document our Constitution really is.

Dinner last night:  Homemade risotto wtih squash, sweet potatoes, and peas.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday Morning Video Laugh - January 17, 2011

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, let's take a look at the work of Norman Lear and Carroll O'Connor.  Compared to King, they did tons more to advance race relations in this country.  One of the best scenes in the entire "All in the Family" series.  A longer clip, but enjoy.


Dinner last night: Sausage, onions, cheese, and mushroom omelette at Cafe 50s Diner.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Fridays with Mom

Yes, we've seen this picture of my mother and me before.  The what-might-be-a-styrofoam-farm-animal still spooks me.  Going through the family photos, I noticed that there are very few snapshots of Mom and me together, so I guess I will have to keep on re-purposing this one whenever my Sunday Memory Drawer focuses on the two of us.

In this picture, I'm pretty much the age when a rather unique tradition began.  It lasted for probably three or four years until my mother went back to work at night and entrusted all my free hours of youth to my grandmother's supervision.  But the spectre of all those wonderful Friday afternoons during those years has stuck with me to this day.

In my hometown of Mount Vernon, New York, you easily and safely could walk anywhere.  The downtown shopping district was about ten blocks away from our house.  My elementary school was only five blocks away.  And, unlike today in this little hamlet, you could walk around at night without being shot in a drug deal gone wrong.

A routine began that was rarely disrupted.  The school dismissal bell rang at 3PM and we were paroled for another week.  I'd scamper out to find my mother on the school stairs, usually yakking and smoking it up with one of the other "class mothers."  We would quickly head down to Fourth Avenue for an early dinner at...

...the Beehive restaurant.  I don't remember the hyphen as seen in the ad above.   But I can tell you that it did feature my favorite meats and the vegetables were garden fresh.  Hey, what am I saying?  I'd have the same thing every single week.

Bacon, lettuce, and tomato on rye toast with mayo.  To wash it down?  A chocolate malted.

I can visualize to this day the inside of that restaurant.  In reality, it was nothing more than a coffee shop with nicer furniture.  We ate in a booth on the side near the back.  Always.  That never varied.  Most of the time, we had the same waitress.  She knew where we were headed afterward so we always pretty much finished our meal by about 430PM.  It was that precise a Friday afternoon.  After all, we were headed to...
...the RKO Proctor's theater.  You can see it in the background.  As a matter of fact, Mom and I would walk across this very bridge after I had finished my BLT and my mother was done with her after-dinner cigarette.  A double feature was in the offing.  As long as it was a movie from Warner Brothers, Universal, or Walt Disney, which played exclusively at this wonderful movie palace.

If we were headed to a double feature with cinematic product from either Columbia, MGM, or Paramount, well, we had to hang a left at the corner and head over to...
...the Loews Mt. Vernon Theater seen in the background of this snapshot of a bus.

Those were our weekly choices and either selection was grand.   These were movie theaters to be embraced.  Opulent palaces that were befitting the stars being illuminated on the big screen.

In those days, we would show up at the movie theater of the week at around 430PM, regardless of what time the picture started.  You'd simply walk in.  Sometimes, you'd come in and the one movie was just about to end.  No big deal, apparently.  You'd see the ending, watch the other feature, and then sit through the first movie up until to the point you entered the theater.  And, then, Mom would utter...

"This is where we came in."

And we'd leave.  Who could possibly fathom anybody doing that today?  But, back then on Friday nights, Mom and I did.

In either RKO or Loews (inexplicably pronounced by virtually everybody as "Lowwees), you had three levels of seats available to you.  Mom would opt for the loge or the second level, probably because you could smoke there.  And, naturally, my mother would.  As for me, I was enraptured by the action on the screen.  

These were the days before the Motion Picture Rating System, so the only monitors I had were my parents.  And they didn't see to care.  Or maybe they trusted my sensibilities.  One Friday, I can recall seeing some flick about women being beated by the Japanese in a WWII concentration camp.  Another week, it was a Biblical epic (my mother's favorite film genre) and a little girl was beheaded.  Yet another time, there was some mild but heated bedroom action.  I turned to my mother.

"Where are their pajamas?"

The response back was quick and simple.

"When you're older."

Indeed.

At some point during a part of weekly double feature, I'd get fatally bored.  And then I would go exploring.  The cool thing about the RKO Proctors in Mount Vernon is that they had all these ramps that connected the three levels. 
Or I'd go fool around in one of the restroom lounges. 

Eventually, there would be my weekly battle with the soda machine.  Put in a dime, press your favorite beverage, and then cross your fingers.  The cup would come down.  No ice.  Or maybe no liquid.  Or maybe just seltzer.  Or maybe just pure soda syrup which would be an open invitation to Cavity Incorporated.  You never knew what you would get from that soda machine.  But, after all, it was only ten cents.

I'd wander over to the candy counter for my dessert. A box of Bon Bons.  Or, in those days, one of my favorite box candies, either Pom Poms or Milk Duds.  This would keep me and my teeth busy for the whole second picture.

When I would get tired of searching out all the nooks and crannies of a neighborhood movie theater, I'd always wind up back with my mother who had lit up a second and third cigarette by now.  And, with chocolate stuck in my teeth, I'd get mesmerized all over again by whatever was happening on that big screen.  I remember very little of anything I saw in those days.  But, this was the birth of a movie fan, nonetheless.

We'd hit the ubiquitous point of "where we came in" and off we would go.  Sometimes, we'd walk home.  If it was cold or wet, the box office would call a taxi at my mom's request.  Usually, we were home by 9PM and I was hitting the pillow by 930PM.

But the memories of another special Friday would last a nighttime.  

And, obviously, a lifetime.  

Dinner last night:  Homemade pizza at the home of good friends Larry and Felicia.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Classic Newsreel of the Month - January 2011

Didn't this just happen?


Dinner last night:  Roast beef caliente sandwich from Clementine's.

Friday, January 14, 2011

More Bad Yearbook Photos

Here they come.  More good reasons not to buy that book at the end of the school year.
Hair yesterday, most likely gone today.  The Freddie Prinze look that ended with a bullet in an apartment building on Wilshire Boulevard.

I suppose his hair stylist was trying to make a point.  Actually, several of them.

The illegitimate white daughter of Don King.    Never stand on a step stool right under that ceiling fan.

Bill Cullen, age 10.
Bill Cullen, age 13.  There are some sexual identity issues.

Narcolepsy can strike even a sixth-grader.

The valedictorian for William Shatner High.

Dinner last night:  Pork tenderloin with peppers and olives.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Boy, Do We Need This Now?

News like last Saturday in Arizona grabs us in a choke hold and doesn't let go.

In my efforts to always try and concentrate on "the funny" here in Blog Land, how do you ignore the bloodshed and carnage?  Unspeakable for all the victims, including the grand daughter of former New York Met manager Dallas Green.

Naturally, in our own personal "Day of the Locusts," the media sees us all knocked down on the ground and does its collective level best to keep us pinned to the mat.  The resulting frenzy is almost as unspeakable as the news they deliver.  The more-polarized-by-the-day America reacts to the political voices in our heads.  Tangential viewpoints that are reported as facts.  Opinions presented as words of some God.  Hysteria at every turn.

Before you know it, we are told that the Arizona gunman was a listener to conservative talk radio.  A devotee of Sarah Palin who made the horrible mistake of using Powerpoint crosshairs to demonstrate areas in the country that needed to be targeted for political campaign reasons.  Hate and violence allegedly preached by those in the Tea Party.

Huh?  The guy was a lunatic.  Plain and simple.  But we are in a society where, had he lived, Lee Harvey Oswald might have been one of last season's finalists on "Dancing with the Stars."

Meanwhile, where was the hand wringing when the Democrats used similar gun-like graphics to do the same thing?  Where was the sturm and drang when a fictionalized depiction of George W. Bush's assassination was released to theaters while the guy was still in office?  Did anybody blink an eye when the current President himself announces to Republicans in Congress that, while debating health care, if they bring a knife to a fight, he would bring a gun?

Shameless.  All of it sheer and utter madness.  One more sterling example that the United States, as we knew and loved it, has about twenty-five good years left.  As the push and pull from two extremes continues, this venomous tug of war simply shreds the once sturdy rope that held together our civility.

The other day, another piece of information grabbed my attention.  An anniversary that caught my attention and even prompted me to note it yesterday in my Wednesday entry "This Day in History - January 12."  Totally unrelated to our news of the week, but, oh, so relevant.  Because it harkened back to a time when opposing viewpoints could be argued but still tolerated.  And it could be done with something that is frequently sorely lacking in our world today.

"The funny."

Yep, yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of the television premiere of "All In The Family."

As my title proclaims, boy, do we need that now!

I previously wrote about the series when I ranked it at # 7 on the list of My Top 25 Favorite TV Shows of all time.  Although the references today are heavily dated, "All in the Family" still rings as true and organic as it did four decades ago.  Because, even though it weekly brought us the classic arguments from both the Right and the Left, it was done so with effectiveness, unbias, and, most importantly, class.

Keith Olbermann and Bill O'Reilly, please take note.  You did not invent this debate.  You simply are running it into the ground.

Take a gander at the extended lyrics of the "All in the Family" theme song.  Are these not the same issues we face today?

"Boy, the way Glenn Miller played.  Songs that made the Hit Parade.  Guys like us, we had it made.  Those were the days!"

"Didn't need no welfare state.  Everybody pulled his weight.  Gee, our old LaSalle ran great.  Those were the days!"

"And you knew who you were then.  Girls were girls and men were men.  Man, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again."

"People seemed to be content.  Fifty dollars paid the rent.  Freaks were in a circus tent.  Those were the days!"

"Take a little Sunday spin.  Go to watch the Dodgers win.  Have yourself a dandy day that cost you under a fin."

"Hair was short and skirts were long.  Kate Smith really sold a song.  I don't know what just went wrong!  Those were the days!!!"

Yesterday as timely as today or tomorrow.  Proof perfect that, thanks to our political system, nothing has gotten done in the past forty years.

A yesterday that is so fresh in my memory.

There have been a few TV shows in history that have grabbed the nation's attention and held it hostage. Truly appointment-driven television that everybody, and I mean everybody, is watching en masse. I am sure "I Love Lucy" was like that during the 50s, especially when Lucy Ricardo gave birth to Little Ricky. "Dallas" was like that in the early 80s right after J.R. Ewing took some lead to the abdomen.

For me, the very first time I participated in TV frenzy was during the early years of "All in the Family." And I can easily recall how everybody, and I mean everybody, was tuned in on a Saturday night to hear Archie Bunker's latest rantings and ravings.

Of course, when it first came on the air, the attention wasn't quite there yet. But, for some bizarre reason, the very unsuspecting duo of my grandmother and me tuned in to one very early episode to see what this new sitcom was all about. We had no clue what to expect. It was the show where the Jeffersons first moved next door to the Bunkers. And Archie let us know with this announcement to his wife:

"Edith, the coons are coming!"

Two mouths dropped to the floor in a living room on 15th Avenue in Mount Vernon. And, after about a silence of ten seconds, we laughed out loud.
A lot.

During those first few "AITF" shows, we heard a lot of words we never heard on TV before.

Kike.

Spook.

Pollock.

Dago.

And the always popular Jungle Bunny.

It's not like I hadn't heard the words before. But, usually at my lily-white, European-based family dining table. Never ever on the small screen for all to hear.

And laugh at. Because that's what producer/creator Norman Lear did with "AITF." By voicing all the things usually kept inside our homes, we were all treated to realistic glimpses of our own human frailties. And he did so via the best message conveyance known to man. Humor.

It wasn't long before all of America discovered what my grandmother and I caught onto. Everybody, and I mean everybody, was tuning in to see Archie, Edith, the Meathead, and Gloria every Saturday night on CBS, which featured perhaps the best nightly schedule of programming in the history of the medium.

I can remember my parents got sucked in as well and I rarely remember my mother and father being on the same page with regard to TV viewing. There was one Saturday night where they had some friends over. All conversation, smoking, and drinking stopped at 8PM. There were maybe 20 people crowded into our living room to watch the episode where Edith went through menopause. I have forever framed that moment and the laughter in my mental hard drive. That didn't happen very often in my house. It did, though, then. "All in the Family" connected us all in a way that an audience will never be connected again.

Perhaps, in today's frantic and manic need for political correctness, "All in the Family" might not enjoy the life and success it had four decades ago.  But, in my fantasy world, I want to see an episode produced today.  With Archie and Mike debating the merits of Barack Obama, the lunacy of global warming, and the ravings of Sarah Palin.  Because, in its own little way, "All in the Family" did more than for our social consciousness than any current leader or journalist could hope to achieve.

Those were the days.  Long gone.

Dinner last night:  Macaroni and cheese.