Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Morning Video Laugh - April 30, 2012

Beer, beer, beer, I'm gonna drink some beer.




Dinner last night: Roast beef sandwich. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Sunday Memory Drawer - The Crazy Bitch Next Door

This is a Sunday Memory Drawer entry that really fits the bill.  This is a memory of what happened to me...last Sunday. 

The photo above is my New York apartment building.  Well, "Yonkers, NY and Hasting-on-Hudson border" apartment building.  Look at the red car in the snapshot and count up to the fourth floor terrace right above it.  That's my place.  Recently and wonderfully renovated.  New kitchen.  New bathroom.  New walls.

Alas alack, there is no new neighbor next door.  On one side of my unit, there resides some crazy shit.  As it was there when I bought into the building some nineteen years ago.

I wish I could call her by name.  I don't even know it.  Never bothered to find out.  I simply refer to her as...

The Crazy Bitch Next Door.

I became aware of her as soon as I checked in.  Fat.  Dumpy.  A bad dye job.  And horrible taste in men.  Correction: repeated horrible taste in men.  There have been several.

For somebody as slovenly as her, the Crazy Bitch Next Door certainly managed to keep herself connected to the male species.  Over the past nearly two decades, most of those years were spent with a live-in boyfriend.  Go figure.

There was one in place when I moved in.  I learned that pretty quickly as there was a knock-down, drag-out brawl every night.  They would all start the same way.  You'd hear her shrill voice carping for about five or ten minutes.  And then "he" would explode. Dishes would break.  Doors would be pounded.  Everything but her neck snapping in two.

Three years later, there was some quiet.  For a day or two.  And, then suddenly....

Another boyfriend moved in.

The pattern repeated itself.  You'd hear her shrill voice carping for about five or ten minutes. And then "he" would explode. Dishes would break. Doors would be pounded. Everything but her neck snapping in two.

Unfortunate bad luck in men?  Um, I began to wonder if the common demoninator here was female in gender.

Around this time, I moved to Los Angeles.  On my second day in Southern California, I called my east coast voicemail to check on any messages.  I was astounded by what I heard.

There had been a call from some guy in Cincinnati, Ohio.  He identified as the brother of my neighbor otherwise known as the Crazy Bitch Next Door.  He was wondering if I could go and check on his sister as she had not been heard from in five days.  She had given him my name as an emergency contact and the guy wanted to know if I could check to see whether or not she had been beaten into a bloody pulp.

Huh????

This loon and I had never shared more than two words of dialogue.  So, she had pulled my name off the doorbell, looked up my phone number in the White Pages, and had put me in the unfortunate potential position of identifying her body down at the country morgue.

Not only was she desperate for men, she was also really hard up for any acquaintances.  Or witnesses to her possible demise.

I called the brother back and left a message.  Er, I'm in Los Angeles at the moment and, if she's dead, I'm guessing somebody will eventually call the building manager about the stench coming from Apartment 4-A.

I didn't see the Crazy Bitch from Next Door until two years later during one of my New York sojourns.  Fittingly, I ran into her at the fourth floor garbage chute.  There was no acknowledgement from her.  No "hey, I'm still alive."  No "thanks for being my emergency contact and I'm sorry for forgetting to mention that to you."  No "my brother is sure enjoying those Cincinnati Reds." 

Nothing.  I was better off that way.

I would discover over several trips that there was somebody new melting her butter in 4A.  He looked a bit like a Nazi sympathizer to me.  He certainly wasn't being too sympathetic to her.  The slugfests were regularly scheduled.  I understood from other neighbors that the police frequently showed up like clockwork.  Our building didn't need a superintendent.  It required a referee.

Last Sunday night, I was nestled into my apartment during my first NY trip of the year.  Around 6PM, I shoved some garbage down the chute.  As I ambled past 4A, the usual fracas was in place.

"You're acting like a fucking lunatic."

"Fuck you."

"No, go fuck yourself."

Our floor was definitely R-rated.  But, still, I thought nothing of it all.  Business as usual at the Riveredge apartment complex.

Around 10PM, I was lying on the couch and noticed flashing red lights outside.  Okay, also business as usual at the Riveredge apartment complex.  There are lots of older folks in the building and they were frequently, as my father would say, being "carried out feet first."

Except that, a few minutes later, I heard a commotion out in the hallway.  Okay, this is close enough for my attention.  I opened my front door to see my neighbor from across the hall.  She's been there for about seventeen years and is quite pleasant.  Her husband never screams for her to go fuck herself.  Tonight, the two of us were just being plain nosy.

Down the hall, we saw that the conclave of firefighters and police were gathered in front of Apartment 4A.  And they were questioning the Crazy Bitch Next Door.

"I don't know what happened.  One minute he was fine and then he just went nuts."

Fine?  Like around 6PM when you were both engaged in a major fuck-off.

As we could piece together the timeline, the boyfriend did indeed go a little bonkers.  And lit a newspaper torch.  Which he proceeded to run up and down the hallway with.  Checking to see if the smoke detectors were working.

Yes, business as usual at the Riveredge apartment complex.

Apparently, Mr. Skinhead was already chained up in the police car downstairs and preparing for an extended stay at the local nervous hospital.  But, the way the Crazy Bitch Next Door was telling the tale, the whole affair was completely innocent.  As if he had simply found an eyelash in his minestrone soup.

Something propelled the cops to enter into their apartment.  Moments later, the first flatfoot exited.  Carrying two rifles.

My across-the-hall neighbor gasped. 

The second cop exited.  He was carrying two spears.

Spears as in "the natives are chasing Johnny Weismuller in one of those Tarzan movies" spears.

I gasped.   And George W. Bush was looking for the weapons of mass destruction in Iran???

We were astounded by the arsenal of the warloads being housed just fifty feet away.  The Crazy Bitch Next Door noticed that we were watching the whole proceedings.

"Oh, he doesn't use these things.  He has them just for show."

For show???  Like a display???  You live in a studio apartment, not the Museum of Natural History!!!!

The Crazy Bitch Next Door somehow mistook our nosiness for concern.  She walked down the hall to talk to us.

OH, MY GOD, PLEASE.  TELL ME THAT YOU DON'T WANT TO HAVE A ONE-ON-ONE CONVERSATION ABOUT THIS!!!

That's exactly what she wanted to do.  We were trapped.

"Well, he's bi-polar.  And he's been drinking.  We went to the hospital yesterday to get more medication, but they made us wait for eight hours and his healthcare coverage had expired...."

OH, GOD, MAKE THIS STOP.

My across-the-hall neighbor did just that.

"Hey, not for nothing, but we've been hearing this shit from your apartment for years.  And we've all called the cops because we're sick and tired of hearing this crap.  And, oh, by the way, you have lousy taste in men."

Slam dunk.  Score the goal.

The Crazy Bitch Next Door stared at us for a minute.  Yeah, we all knew.  How could we not?  She slowly backed away.   Sheepishly, she replied.

"Well, I'm sorry to have bothered you."

I resisted the temptation to call after her.

"Hey, after twenty years, I still don't know your name."

Dinner last night:  Filet mignon at a wedding held at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Classic TV Theme of the Month - April 2012

This may have been the longest show opening in TV history.  And dig the fact that they're getting those kids hooked on Coke really early.


Dinner last night:  Turkey French Dip sandwich at Philippe's---the Friday night pre-Dodger game meal.

Friday, April 27, 2012

If I Tweeted - April 2012

I don't, you know.  But, if I did, here's what I might have said this month.

#LenSpeaks  It's official.  Skittles can kill you.

#LenSpeaks  Lost in all the Trayvon Martin hoopla.  What does this neighborhood need a watch at all?   Obviously, there are problems there.

#LenSpeaks  I wore a hood in my living room one day and I was not profiled.  Just saying.

#LenSpeaks  So, Secret Service agents are fucking around on Presidential trips.  Don't you all remember when it was the other way around.

#LenSpeaks  And I just know that there is some bimbo out there with Barack's name on her. 

#LenSpeaks  Come on, if you were married to Michelle, wouldn't you?

#LenSpeaks  I remember when "class warfare" met that two fourth-grade groups were having a fight in the playground after school.

#LenSpeaks  I walked through Times Square the other night after the theater.  I didn't hear English spoken for at least four blocks.

#LenSpeaks  New category on the $100,000 Pyramid.  "Jack Narz, Art James, Art Fleming, Dick Clark...."  "Dead Game Show Hosts?"

#LenSpeaks  Somebody said that they should cancel New Year's Eve in his honor.  So we have to stay with 2012 indefinitely??

#LenSpeaks  By the way, you all do realize that Dick Clark was a complete dirtbag, right?

#LenSpeaks  My first flight to NY without a left meniscus has been glorious. Enjoyed my new status as TSA-Preferred. No shoe removal, no laptop removal, no belt removal, no pocket removal, no line. And an upgrade to Business class gives me my first ever experience with an iPad-like tablet. Now I want one.

#LenSpeaks  I kind of missed the patdown, though.

#LenSpeaks  If American Idol loses any more viewers, they will start showing it on American Airlines flights, which is usually the only place where NBC's Thursday night comedies can be seen.

#LenSpeaks  The problem with Idol is that the judges are now too nice.  I fondly recall the days when Simon would simply say, "you're fat, you're ugly, and you can't sing."

#LenSpeaks  I started playing "Words with Enemies."  My first two words..."screw" and "you."

#LenSpeaks  Maybe I should challenge Alec Baldwin to a game.  No, wait, the flight attendant just told me to power down.

#LenSpeaks  On two cross country flights, the disgusting trend continues.  People walking into a plane bathroom without their shoes on.

#LenSpeaks  These are the same idiots who insist on using hand sanitizers ten times a day.

#LenSpeaks  Yeah, the economy is really improving.  My friends, who have been out of work for a year or more, are no longer considered unemployed.  That's because their benefits ran out.

#LenSpeaks  Meanwhile, was there any more stupid sight than seeing Obama sing a jam set with Jimmy Fallon on "Late Night?"  The dignity of the office reaches its lowest point ever.

#LenSpeaks  Obama is trying to appeal to the younger demos.  So, he was on the right show.  There are about ten of them watching that piece of junk.

#LenSpeaks  When can we get the President on the Fear Factor?  I'd love to see him submerged in a hole full of snakes.  Oh, wait, he'd probably be at home there.

#LenSpeaks  Both the Mets and the Dodgers have gotten off to good starts.  Uh oh, the inevitable fall will be ugly.

#LenSpeaks  Citi Field is growing on me.  It's very roomy.  But, then again, that's what happens when nobody goes to the games.

#LenSpeaks  I'm taking a poll.  Who has more fans?  The Mets or Oprah Winfrey's TV network?

#LenSpeaks  The results are in.  The Mets have more.  They're at least in double figures.

#LenSpeaks  Maury Wills sitting two rows away from me at the Dodger home opener. I wanted to ask if he was still in touch with Doris Day.

Dinner last night:  Grilled hamsteak, corn, and beets.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

And the Winner Is...


I would have loved to have experienced Broadway in the 40s and 50s.  When you actually dressed to go to the theater.  When real stars and actors flocked to appear on the Great White Way time and time and again.  When there were no tourists bringing bags of potato chips into the Belasco Theater.

I can dream a little, can't I?  Well, on Tuesday, my dream became a bit of a reality for about two and a half hours.  I was seemingly transported back to the golden age of Broadway.  Even though I wasn't dressed in a suit.  And, luckily, there were no slobs around me munching on cans of Pringles.

Such were the magical powers of this latest revival.  Gore Vidal's "The Best Man."  Written over fifty years ago, yet it still looks shiny new in this latest reincarnation at the Schoenfeld Theater, which used to be the Golden Theater.  While the Broadway theater names may change, this play manages to live on gloriously.

Look at the poster above and marvel at the assemblage of talent on one stage.  How does this happen on Broadway in 2012?  Well, it's a limited engagement so the stars involved are happy to commit to such an endeavor for a short amount of time.  And those of us in the audience were truly the lucky ones.  This may just have been my most rewarding night seeing a non-musical production on Broadway.  It was that wondrous.

Back in 1964, Hollywood took this play and turned it into a film, which previously was my only exposure to the tale.  And I have loved the movie whenever I have caught up to it on Turner Classic Movies.  But, the play itself is infinitely better.  Funnier.  More intimate.  And more likely to pack a solid punch when you least expect it.

So, if you haven't seen the film on TCM, "The Best Man" tells us all about a national political convention where two candidates are deadlocked for the nomination to run for President.  You don't know the political party, but that's not needed.  Whatever side of the aisle it is, the dirty dealings are the same.  Indeed, such treachery is truly universal.

Set in 1960, playwright Gore Vidal might have been basing this all on that year's Democratic convention, which ultimately sent John F. Kennedy to the White House.  But, as I surveyed the two candidates in this play, I couldn't help but compare it all to the battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the 2008 Presidential nomination.  One candidate feels it's their divine right to get the nod.  The other candidate is a complete product of a marketing department.  Flash and glitz and little else.  With even more timely references throughout the play about taxing the rich and class warfare, you would think this drama was written last week.

The theater was completely decked out as if it was a political convention hall.  Black-and-white TV monitors were placed throughout and you had to watch them from time to time to catch up on the back story.  A Walter Cronkite-like commentator sat in one of the Abe Lincoln death booths to add some color.  Ushers wore red, white, and blue straw hats.  I felt like a real delegate.  I noticed that my seat in the theater was amidst the group from Nevada.

But, as flashy as the surroundings were, the really remarkable stuff was happening on the stage.  John Larroquette as the tried-and-true veteran politician.  Eric McCormack as the sleazy, young upstart.  They each have secret files on each other.  Will they use them?  Will decorum prevail?  How far will a politician go to be elected?  Questions that were debated throughout the evening and, just like in real life, there were no black and white answers.  Only shades of amazing grays.

Candice Bergen was a triumph as the veteran's wife.  Just like a certain politician's wife, she, too, was tired of his extramarital activities in a small and secluded apartment on K Street.  Will she ultimately stand by her man?  Bergen was wonderfully understated in her role, although, when pressed to fire off a zinger, she summoned up some of that old Murphy Brown oomph.

Meanwhile, in another suite of the hotel, Kerry Butler as McCormack's wife takes annoying hayseed stupidity to a new low level.  As nasty as her husband is, she is incredibly vapid.  But, at the same time, she's dying to be the First Lady of the land and will do anything to get into that Lincoln bedroom.  This just goes to prove that any jerk and his slovenly family can get into the White House with the right campaign.  Can you spell C-A-R-T-E-R?

And what can you say about a Broadway play that brings you the legendary Angela Lansbury in two scenes?  She's got a relatively small role and doesn't even appear in the third act as one of those long term political lobbyists for the women's vote.  But she steals your attention when she's there and adds even more electricity to the night which could have easily been mistaken for the generator at Indian Point.

Oh, wait, there's even more.  What can you say about a Broadway play that brings you the luminous James Earl Jones for any amount of time on stage at all?  Believe me, this is not just the voice of CNN and Darth Vader.  Jones is riveting as a former President whose endorsement is craved by both Larroquette and McCormack.  He knows he wields some power here, perhaps for the last time in his life.  Jones' performance is almost breathtaking.  And, you will note that the back story would have him being President in perhaps the late 40s or early 50s.  The fact that he is Black is never ever addressed.  A wonderful touch of casting and then some.

These days, all Broadway shows end with a standing ovation.  The novelty of such a reception is now mundane and expected.  But, when the audience stood and cheered at the end of "The Best Man," I sensed that it truly meant something.  Just as it did on those rare occasions in days gone by.  For once, the rapid rise to our feet was completely warranted. 

Thinking about what we saw on that stage, this cast and play truly gave us all something to acknowledge with all our theater-going hearts.

Dinner last night:  Back in LA for some chicken salad.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

This Date in History - April 25


Happy birthday, Godfather.

404 BC:  DURING THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR, LYSANDER'S SPARTAN ARMIES DEFEATED THE ATHENIANS AND THE WAR ENDS.

Peloponnesian?  Hmm.  Reminds me of that Honeymooners episodes where Ralph talks about a bunch of poloponies.

1134:  THE NAME ZAGREB WAS MENTIONED FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE FELICIAN CHARTER RELATING TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE ZAGREB BISHOPRIC AROUND 1094.

It's crap like that that explains why I never paid any attention in World History class.

1607:  DURING THE EIGHTY YEARS' WAR, THE DUTCH FLEET DESTROYS THE ANCHORED SPANISH FLEET AT GIBRALTAR.

Eighty years?   That's a lot of bullets.

1644:  THE CHONGZHEN EMPEROR, THE LAST EMPEROR OF MING DYNASTY CHINA, COMMITS SUICIDE DURING A PEASANT REBELLION LED BY LI ZICHENG.

Peasant rebellion?  #OccupyChongzhen?

1792:  HIGHWAYMAN NICOLAS J. PELLETIER BECOMES THE FIRST PERSON EXECUTED BY GUILLOTINE.

Way a head of his time.

1792:  LA MARSEILLAISE (THE FRENCH NATIONAL ANTHEM) IS COMPOSED BY CLAUDE JOSEPH ROUGET DE LISLE.

I wonder if highwayman Pelletier ever got to hear it.

1829:  CHARLES FREMANTLE ARRIVES IN HMS CHALLENGER OFF THE COAST OF MODERN-DAY WESTERN AUSTRALIA PRIOR TO DECLARING THE SWAN RIVER COLONY FOR THE UNITED KINGDOM.

This is the Challenger ship that didn't blow up in space.

1846:  OPEN CONFLICT BEGINS OVER THE DISPUTED BORDER OF TEXAS, TRIGGERING THE MEXICAN-AMERICAN WAR.

And as if it was ripped from today's headlines.

1847:  THE LAST SURVIVORS OF THE DONNER PARTY ARE OUT OF THE WILDERNESS.

Frankly, in today's terms, you're never completely out of the woods.

1859:  BRITISH AND FRENCH ENGINEERS BREAK GROUND FOR THE SUEZ CANAL.

England and France working together?  Somebody calls Ripley's.

1861:  DURING THE CIVIL WAR, THE UNION ARMY ARRIVES IN WASHINGTON DC.

There goes any vacancies at the Holiday Inn.

1898:  THE UNITED STATES DECLARES WAR ON SPAIN.

I do it with Mexico every single time I go to my local car wash.

1901:  NEW YORK BECOMES THE FIRST US STATE TO REQUIRE AUTOMOBILE LICENSE PLATES.

So prisoners at Sing Sing finally have something to do during the day.

1916:  THE UNITED KINGDOM DECLARES MARTIAL LAW IN IRELAND.

Can you really blame them?

1917:  SINGER ELLA FITZGERALD IS BORN.

And one of her legs lived longer than the other.

1932:  BASKETBALL PLAYER MEADOWLARK LEMON IS BORN.

Jack's brother.

1939:  DC COMICS GIVES BIRTH TO BATMAN.

How did they ever get the Batmobile down that birth canal?

1940:  ACTOR AL PACINO IS BORN.

Just you think you're in the womb, they pull you right out.

1944:  THE UNITED NEGRO COLLEGE FUND IS INCORPORATED.

And it still exists.  Even with that now verboten word.

1945:  THE NAZI OCCUPATION ARMY SURRENDERS AND LEAVES NORTHERN ITALY.  BENITO MUSSOLINI'S PUPPET FASCIST REGIME DISSOLVES.

Bye, bye, Adolf.  Arrivederci, Benny.

1953:  FRANCIS CRICK AND JAMES D. WATSON PUBLISH "MOLECULAR STRUCTURE OF NUCLEIC ACIDS" DESCRIBING THE DOUBLE HELIX STRUCTURE OF DNA.

It's crap like this that explains why I never paid attention in Biology either.

1960:  THE US NAVY SUBMARINE USS TRITON COPLETES THE FIRST SUBMERGED CIRCUMNAVIGATION OF THE GLOBE.

Even Michael Phelps came up for air once in a while.

1972:  ACTOR GEORGE SANDERS DIES.

He killed himself.  All About Suicide.

1982:  ISRAEL COMPLETES ITS WITHDRAWAL FROM THE SINAI PENINSULA PER THE CAMP DAVID ACCORDS.

It wasn't worth the papyrus it was written on.

1983:  PIONEER 10 TRAVELS BEYOND PLUTO'S ORBIT.

Does Mickey and Goofy know about this?

1995:  GAME SHOW HOST ART FLEMING DIES.

Undertakers for $50.

1995:  ACTRESS GINGER ROGERS DIES.

Swing Time is up.

2007:  BORIS YELTSIN IS BURIED.

Hopefully it was after he died.

2009:  ACTRESS BEATRICE ARTHUR DIES.

God finally got you for that, Maude.

2010:  ACTRESS DOROTHY PROVINE DIES.

It's now a dead, dead, dead, dead world.

Dinner last night:  Three pasta plate at Becco's.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

N'yuk N'yuk Nyet


Okay, I can make a mistake every now and then.

What made me go see the new Three Stooges movie is beyond me?  Hoping against hope perhaps that I'd get one or two solid laughs in the space of ninety minutes.  I loved them as a kid.  What eight-year-old didn't?  Wouldn't this be a nifty way to revisit my third-grade youth?

Well, next time I have a thought like that, please hit me in the head with a mallet.  And don't let one of these guys be the one to do the job.

When I first heard about a year ago that some misguided Hollywood types were attempting to revive the Three Stooges in a new film,  I actually thought this was a good idea.  You see, I was under the false impression that this was going to be a biography.  How the Stooges got their start.  Any in-fighting they had.  The death of Curly.  Replacing him with brother Shemp.  Lots of rich possibilities.

Yeah, that movie is still waiting to be made.

Instead, we get essentially a 2012 updating of the Three Stooges.  They even go through the needless trouble of duplicating the old 1940 short intros as if they are stitching three of them together.  The only thing missing was an attempt to cast Will Ferrell as Officer Joe Bolton to welcome us all to the theater.   Those incredibly incensed can line up at the box office to demand a refund.

Now, if you dig dead-on impersonations, you will be amazed for about thirty seconds.  Will Sasso as Curly, Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe, and Sean Hayes as Larry sure do sound right.  But, any comparisons need to stop right there.  After your initial impression, you will start craving for anything that is even remotely clever in this movie. 

When I tuned into WPIX Channel 11 after school several decades ago, I was looking for some good-natured and violent fun.  I wasn't searching for a story.  The Farrelly Brothers, who are the assholes behind this mess, give you one.  A grim, boring, and convoluted tale.  And absolutely nothing else.

You meet the boys as children and there's one mild titter when you see two ten-year-olds with Larry and Moe haircuts.  They show up at an orphanage run by some Catholic nuns led by Jane Lynch, Jennifer Hudson, and, yes, gang, Larry David.  Horrors ensue when we learn that the orphanage might be closed down to fundings.  And, oh, dear, one of the kids has perhaps a fatal disease.  Is this a Three Stooges movie or one with Bing Crosby as Father O'Malley?  Meanwhile, the setting provides the filmmakers with a golden opportunity to keep hitting nuns in the head with assorted metal objects.  If you're a lapsed Catholic, this is your feel-good movie of 2012.

The Stooges go into adults but still are waiting to be adopted as foster children.  But, then there's that pesky "we have to save the orphanage" plotline again, and our heroes are determined to raise the dough for the nuns.  So, they get hired by "Modern Family's" Sofia Vergara to help her kill her husband.

Yes, folks, we are mixing the fun of the Three Stooges with a potential homocide.  Officer Joe, how many times have you flipped over in your casket by now?

Of course, nothing goes right and that's with both the plot and the movie itself.  After a while, the constant hitting and eye gouging wears thin.  Back in the day, when you watched a Stooges short, it was over in twenty minutes.  When extended over what seemed to be twenty years, you started to feel like you were in a Political Science class taught by Joe Biden.  It was that awful.

Meanwhile, in a story development that dates the movie immediately, Moe winds up on as one of the new stars of the "Jersey Shore" TV show.  As if this movie didn't give you a reason to hate it, it now has about two hundred more.  The simple fact that I was personally exposed to Snooki for more than ten seconds was enough to send me to a Silkwood-like shower as soon as I got home from the theater.

But, there is good news.  The orphanage gets saved, nobody really gets killed, and Larry runs out of hair to get pulled out.  You realize that there wasn't an inspired moment in the entire movie and that you easily could have enjoyed that same box of Buncha Crunch in front of your television set with a DVD box set of the original Stooges. 

Once again, Hollywood trades off its past for a horrific updating that was as needless as it was unfunny.  Is there no limit to what these dumbbells will try to recreate?

When somebody attempts to do the 21st Century version of "I Love Lucy," please refer to my DNR.  Immediately.

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

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Morning Video Laugh - April 23, 2012

It's always a good day for Joan Rivers.

Dinner last night:      London broil. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Sunday Memory Drawer - My Parents' Favorite Comedian

Inexplicably, that would be Borscht Belt comic Myron Cohen.  

It's not like they ever saw this guy perform.  But, for about a year when I was a kid, the above record album was all my folks ever played on the hi-fi.  I have only very isolated moments where I actually saw my folks enjoying something together and laughing in tandem.

Myron Cohen was one of them.  I have no idea how they connected with this guy, except he used to show up a lot on the Ed Sullivan Show.  The guy's delivery was as Jewish as they come.  Full of dialects and Yiddish phrases.  What was all this about?  My parents were as white bread as they come.

My mother picked up Cohen's first record album at Brodbeck's Record Store on Fourth Avenue in Mount Vernon, New York.  She got the recording home and played it.  She was doubled up on the couch in laughter.

Mom?  Is that you?

I listened along and most of the humor went over my nine-year-old head.  There was one joke that I remember to this day.  It took me several times to get the gag.

"Two ladies are sitting at a bar, having a smart cocktail.  One lady says to the other, 'Are you having another?'  The other lady says, 'no, it's just the way the coat is buttoned.'"

Weeks later, I got it.  Oh.

By then, the comedy train had left the station as far as my folks were concerned.  This record was played over and over and over.

And over.

To make matters worse, my parents suddenly got into the sharing mode.  No matter where they went or who they visited, Myron Cohen's record album went along.  Suddenly, the centerpiece of any gathering was the group enjoyment of this humor.

"This is the Klopman Diamond.  It comes with a curse.  Mr. Klopman."

Ba-da-bing.

Meanwhile, I don't think a single listener in our midst was even remotely Jewish. 

I started to parrot some of the jokes myself, complete with phony Yiddish accent.  If this was funny stuff for my parents and their chums, the humor must be universal, right?

Um, not so much.  I repeated some of my "favorite" Myron Cohen jokes for my buddies up the block on Fifteenth Avenue.  Their reactions were uniformly the same.

"Huh?"

My fifth grade tenure as a little junior Sunshine Boy came to an abrupt and untimely end.  Nobody my age seemed to have the affinity for Myron Cohen that my folks' generation did.

In retrospect, there was something very sweet about the community of laughs that gathered around my parents and their record album.  When was the last time a bunch of adults sat around a hi-fi and participated as a group responding to a comedy record?  You definitely don't see that happening today. 

Whether I got the jokes or not, I pretty much knew the record album by heart.  And, then, just as it seemed that my folks had pretty much exhausted their universe with Myron Cohen's platter, the unthinkable happened...

He released a second one.

Oy vey iz mir.

The cycle began all over again.  My mom picking up the newfound gold at Brodbeck's.  The constant playing in the house for a week or two.  And then the scheduling of visits to friends and relatives near and far so they, too, could laugh along with them.

In a day when most people were waiting for the next Beatles' release, my parents were lining up for the new offerings from Myron Cohen.

Flash forward to years later, I was living on my own and enjoying newfound status as a HBO subscriber.  Flipping through the TV Guide, I noticed that they had taped a Myron Cohen nightclub performance.  Hmmm.  This would be ideal entertainment for the folks when they came over at Thanksgiving.  I popped one of those ancient tape cartridges into my clunky RCA VCR and recorded the event.  Here is a short excerpt from that very show.



I was very proud to unveil my new find when they came over for turkey and stuffing.  I thought this would be a wonderful touchstone for days gone by.

They sat and watched in stone silence.

Now some of the gags were the very same from the record albums.  How did they work so well twenty years ago and not now?  My dad's answer was succinct.

"It's not the same."

I thought about that afterward.  And realized it sure wasn't.

A lot of my parents' friends?  No longer in that classification.

Some of those relatives?  No longer around in one shape or another.

My own parents?  Amicably divorced. 

Yep.  It wasn't the same.

So, in the true sense of the adage, I guess you had to be there.

Dinner last night:  Sausage and peppers at Carlo's in Yonkers.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Classic Movie Trailer of the Month - April 2012

One of my top five favorite movies of all time.


Dinner last night: Roast beef dip at the Yard House in Yonkers.    

Friday, April 20, 2012

Magazine Ads We'll Never See Again

Dinner last night:  At the NY apartment, roast beef sandwich with macaroni salad and cole slaw.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What People Are Reading on This Blog

And here he is again.  That blasted Dos Equis spokesperson.  An actor named Jonathan Goldsmith, who I remember years ago played a crook on "Knots Landing."  This clown has driven more traffic to Len Speaks than anybody else. 

And, yes, I have the stats to prove it.

Blogger.com, the site where I house all this daily gloriousness, recently changed a lot behind the scenes.  You don't see it in the output, but they have certainly ramped up the ease of mechanics for those of us creating blogs. 

While I was tooling around the new tools (and how's that for redundancy), I noticed a whole section devoted to statistics.   Now I keep a running count of reader hits on the bottom of my blog page, but Blogger now has a lot of other nifty diagnostics.  I hit on one that grabbed my interest.

"Number of Pageviews - All Time."

Hmmm.  I looked up the Top 10 Posts for Len Speaks by the number of pageviews.  This gives me a clue to what people are Googling and how they are turning up on this blog.  And here goes.  As of last week...

# 1:  WHO THE HELL IS JONATHAN GOLDSMITH? - 996 Pageviews. 

Originally posted on June 17, 2010.  I had gone to a Dodger game and this actor threw out the first ball.  At the time, I had no clue who the fuck he was.  I got tons of comments from total strangers telling me how stupid I was.  I'm an idiot?  How about close to 1000 people searching the Internet for information on this guy???

# 2:  NOW I KNOW WHO THE HELL JONATHAN GOLDSMITH IS - 783 Pageviews.

Originally posted on September 23, 2010.  This was my follow-up to the violent reaction I received from readers who were actually insulted that I questioned anybody's interest in somebody who is nothing more a spokesperson for imported beer.  I am still getting nasty comments to this very day.  What is the fascination with this character????

# 3:  THE SUNDAY MEMORY DRAWER - HANGING OUT WITH MURPHY BROWN - 550 Pageviews.

Originally posted on February 27, 2011.  This was the second in a three-part Sunday Memory Drawer trilogy that concentrated on my first days in California fifteen years ago.  I had spent that time on the Murphy Brown set and I am guessing that the draw of this piece was fans simply Googling Murphy Brown.  This is fascinating to me, since I don't sense a lot of nostalgia for this show.  It certainly feels dated when they rerun it.  Warner Brothers never released any DVD seasons beyond the first one.  I'm glad there's some life out there for the only sitcom I ever physically appeared in.

# 4:  CHOCOLATE MILK AND OTHER HORRORS - 509 Pageviews.

Originally posted on April 14, 2011.  I take on Michelle Obama and her need to control school lunches.  Are people Googling the word "Bosco" a lot?  No clue.  A seemingly nondescript piece that is still getting hits.  Go figure.

# 5:  THE SUNDAY MEMORY DRAWER - TV SHOWS I WATCHED WHEN I WAS A KID - 301 Pageviews.

Originally posted on September 25, 2011.  In this post, I discussed my favorite TV shows from back when.  Included are Hazel, Disney's Wonderful World of Color, Peyton Place, The Lucy Show, Andy Griffith, Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, Petticoat Junction, and Bonanza.  So, which of these shows is driving a lot of on-line traffic?  Or is a little bit of interest in all of them? 

# 6:  THIS DATE IN HISTORY - JULY 6 - 276 Pageviews.

Originally posted on July 6, 2011.  My goofy little Wednesday throwaway is usually my least sampled post in any given week.  Yet, for some bizarre reason, people are particularly interested in the date of July 6.  I went back to look at the post.  There was nothing remarkable about the date istelf.  Some nonsense about Richard the Lionhearted.   A couple of tidbits about Popes from centuries ago.  It's the birthday of Nancy Reagan, Merv Griffin, and Burt "Robin" Ward.  Buddy Ebsen and Roy Rogers died on that date.  All in all, a true mystery to me.

# 7:  MORE BAD YEARBOOK PHOTOS - 250 Pageviews.

Originally posted on January 14, 2011.  This proves there is no limit to looking at bad pictures of high school seniors.  The post shows that a sequel can do better than the original because....

# 8:  BAD YEARBOOK PHOTOS - 170 Pageviews.

Originally posted on August 26, 2010.  Like I said.  It's always fun to laugh at people.  

#9:  THE SUNDAY MEMORY DRAWER - CHRISTMAS SHOPPING ON THE AVENUE - 153 Pageviews.

Originally posted on December 4, 2011.  One of my many homages to what life used to be like in my hometown of Mount Vernon, New York.  I cheated to get attention to this piece.  I posted it on a Mount Vernon-dedicated page on Facebook. 

# 10:  THE SUNDAY MEMORY DRAWER - THE FIRST FULL DAY IN CALIFORNIA - 137 Pageviews.

Originally posted on February 20, 2011.  The first edition of the aforementioned trilogy.  Once again, Murphy Brown is mentioned.  Somebody at Warner Brothers should take note.  There is still an audience out there.

So that's my Top 10 right now.  I will check back periodically to see if these ranks change.  But, given that I have mentioned Jonathan Goldsmith one more time, I will guess that this very countdown piece will be ranking somewhere in the Top 10 as well.  Yet one more redundancy.

Dinner last night:  Leftover chili con carne. 

Tomorrow!  From New York---the first time since last December.



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

This Date in History - April 18

Happy birthday to Perry Mason's favorite secretary.

1025:  BOLESLAW CHROBRY IS CROWNED IN GNIEZNO, BECOMING THE FIRST KING OF POLAND.

This is the second time the name "Boleslaw" has shown up here in a month and I simply can't resort to the coleslaw gag again.

1506:  THE CORNERSTONE OF THE CURRENT ST. PATER'S BASILICA IS LAID.

I didn't even know the cornerstone was sexually active.

1518:  BONA SFORZA IS CROWNED AS QUEEN CONSORT OF POLAND.

Bona Sforza sounds like a treat for Italian dogs.

1636:  ENGLISH JUDGE JULIUS CAESAR DIES.

Clever name your folks gave you, Julie.

1689: BOSTONIANS RISE UP IN REBELLION AGAINST ST. EDMUND ANDROS.

Andros must have been a Yankee fan.

1775:  DURING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, PAUL REVERE AND OTHER RIDES WARN THE COUNTRYSIDE OF THE TROOP MOVEMENTS.

One lone voice from a home on the way:  Shaddap!  You woke the baby!

1831:  THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA IS FOUNDED.

Where the tusks are looser.

1848:  AMERICAN VICTORY AT THE BATTLE OF CERRO GORDO OPENS THE WAY FOR INVASION OF MEXICO.

Back when the invasion was going south and not the other way around.

1881:  BILLY THE KID ESCAPES FROM THE LINCOLN COUNTY JAIL IN NEW MEXICO.

Who let the kid out?  Whoop, whoop, whoop.  Who let the kid out?  Whoop, whoop, whoop.

1906:  AN EARTHQUAKE AND FIRE DESTROY MUCH OF SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA.

I left my heart...and a whole lot of other body parts....in San Francisco.

1907:  MOVIE COMPOSER MIKLOS ROZSA IS BORN.

He did the fantastic score for "Ben-Hur," among hundreds of others.

1912:  THE CUNARD LINER "CARPATHIA"  BRINGS 705 SURVIVORS FROM THE "TITANIC" TO NEW YORK CITY.

Leonardo DiCaprio was not one of them.

1922:  ACTRESS BARBARA HALE IS BORN.

Making her ninety today.  And she can probably still type like a pro.

1923:  YANKEE STADIUM OPENS.

The first one.  Just in case you didn't realize that.

1924:  SIMON AND SCHUSTER PUBLISHES THE FIRST CROSSWORD PUZZLE BOOK.

Finally people have something to do during long hospital stays.

1930:  BBC RADIO ANNOUNCES THAT THERE IS NO NEWS ON THIS DAY.

Well, that's good news.

1934:  ACTOR JAMES DRURY IS BORN.

TV's Virginian!!!!

1942:  DURING WORLD WAR II, JAPAN IS BOMBED DURING THE DOOLITTLE RAID.

That's hardly doing little.

1942:  BASEBALL PITCHER STEVE BLASS IS BORN.

And that's outside.  Ball four.

1945:  JOURNALIST ERNIE PYLE IS KILLED.

Now under one.

1946:  ACTRESS HAYLEY MILLS IS BORN.

I once saw her in the waiting room for an ultrasound.

1953:  ACTOR RICK MORANIS IS BORN.

Mommy, I shrunk your uterus.

1954:  GAMAL ABDAL NASSER SEIZES POWER IN EGYPT.

Several years before he started the United States' space program.

1955:  PHYSICIST ALBERT EINSTEIN DIES.

Well, there goes the Math club.

1958:  A UNITED STATES FEDERAL COURT RULES THAT POET EXRA POUND BE RELEASED FROM AN INSANE ASYLUM.

Having already gotten his pound of flesh.

1961:  ACTRESS JANE LEEVES IS BORN.

Daphne!!

1981:  THE LONGEST PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL GAME IS BEGUN IN PAWTUCKET, RHODE ISLAND.  THE GAME IS COMPLETED ON JUNE 23.

A tip of the cap to all those who stayed and had to go to work the next morning.

2002:  EXPLORER THOR HEYERDAHL DIES.

Kon-No-More-Tiki.

2002:  WRESTLER/PRO FOOTBALL PLAYER WAHOO MCDANIEL DIES.

I know of only one blog reader who will smile when he reads this.

2007:  THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES UPHOLDS THE PARTIAL-BIRTH ABORTION BAN ACT IN A 5-4 DECISION.

What the hell is a partial birth anyway?  The feet come out and the head stays in for a couple of years?

Dinner last night:  Beef brochettes at Della Terra.



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

And Here's Another TV Show I'm Watching.....



I can go several TV seasons without finding something worthwhile to check into on a weekly basis. Sure, I love certain comedies like "The Big Bang Theory," "The Middle," and "Modern Family." And there's still "Desperate Housewives" at least for a little while longer.

But, since "24" finally sent Jack Bauer packing off to Russia, I haven't attached myself to a drama. Most recently, I found "Downton Abbey" and I've already written about the wonderful merits of that discovery. And, now, there's......

"Smash."

The best and perhaps only reason to tune into NBC on Monday.  Or any night for that matter.  The way NBC programs their prime time schedule these days, their biggest audience comes from those forced to watch that shit on American Airlines flights.

But, "Smash," albeit not reflected in the ratings, is a smash.  It's catnip for this Broadway musical kitty and it takes you into a world we have rarely seen.  The development of a Broadway musical from concept to what I guess will be its ultimate opening and success. 

Based on that concept, you would guess there is limited appeal to very targeted members of a television audience.  But, every time I go to a Broadway show and I see one tourist from Bumfuk, Iowa after another, I think that perhaps  "Smash" might have a shelf life.

For those not in the loop, "Smash" tells the tale of the creative masterminds trying to produce a new musical based on the romance between Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio.  Hell, I'd go to see that if it really was produced.  And it just may be because the quality of the production numbers you see mounted and rehearsed is top notch.  There's a whole bunch of Broadway producers behind "Smash," so they've got some organic reality they can share with all of us.  You really do feel like you're eavesdropping on a Broadway hit in the making.

There's the producer of "Marilyn - The Musical" who's looking for financing to get the show done.   This character is deliciously essayed by Angelica Huston and you wait for the next witty thing to come highstepping out of her mouth.  The show's director is a smarmy Brit who is sleeping with the girl playing Marilyn and, as played by Jack Davenport, he's a character you both love and hate. 

Welcome back to series television, Debra Messing, who plays one of the two co-writers of "Marilyn - The Musical."  She should feel as home as she did on "Will and Grace" since her writing partner is gay.  So is half the cast, but, then again, this is a look at Broadway musicals.

Meanwhile, "Smash" is stolen by Katherine McPhee, a former "American Idol" finalist who is magnificent as one of the two girls up for the role of Marilyn Monroe.  She doesn't get it, but her talent is so impressive that the producers put her in the chorus.  Will she stay there or get a bigger break?  Hmmm, that's why the "Smash" people ask you to tune in each and every week. 

Sure, "Smash" is a little soapy.  Somebody takes too many pills, somebody has an affair, and no, wait, a bunch of somebodys have affairs.  But it's all fun and you're transported to an arena where not many people have gone before.  Perish the thought.  A television show that actually entertains and educates at the same time.

The orignal rumor was that "Smash" was only destined for one season of 15 episodes.  I guess they figure that, once "Marilyn - The Musical" opens, who else will care? 

Well, I do.  I'd like to see these characters produce their next show.  And then a show after that.  When you suddenly find a TV drama that works, you don't want to let go.

And I won't have to.  Last week, NBC renewed "Smash" for Season 2.  I guess it was either that or run a test pattern.

Dinner last night:  Chili con carne.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Morning Video Laugh - April 16, 2012

Simply brilliant, especially if you're a Met fan.

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

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Me and The Hunger Games


So, you're looking at today's title and photo and no doubt wondering how this all has the usual Sunday nostalgic spin.

Well, watch me.  Nut, just so you know from the outset, this will take quite a while. 

First off, I have zero clue or interest in "The Hunger Games."  I don't know what the books are about.  I haven't seen the movie.  And I don't own the logo on a T-shirt.   Are there bendable action figures?  I don 't have them either.

But, as I was reading one of the many stories about the success of this franchise, something reached up and smacked me right across the kisser.

Oh, my God, I realized.

Now we flashback...

About twenty years ago when my writing partner and I first started working together in New York, we were looking for any sort of guidance or a leg up.  We became aware of some group called TIP-East.  Back in the early 90s, most television production was based in Los Angeles.  Well, TIP-East was spearheaded by some folks to help nurture New York-oriented writers.  TIP translated into "To Increase Production."  You would think that these creative types could be a bit more clever.

So, TIP-East created a writers workshop that was designed to teach newbies the ropes.  It would be shepherded by some New York-based TV producers.  The whole organization was run by some dowdy actress named Martha Greenhouse.  I just checked her IMDB listing and she last worked in 1999.  Her biggest claim to fame was playing one of the cops' wives on the old "Car 54" sitcom.  She's likely dead by now.  Back in 1992, she was acting as "rabbi" for a bunch of novice television writers.  And "rabbi" is the operative word.  She brought bagels and lox every week as she worked under the assumption that all of us in the workshop were Jewish.

But, I am getting ahead of the game.  You did not automatically get to participate in this forum.  You had to submit a script sample of a current TV comedy show.  Not the whole script, but the first act only.  At this junction, we had already dabbled in some spec scripts for shows like "The Golden Girls, "Designing Women," and "Murphy Brown."  To be a little different, we opted to submit a spec we had done for "The Wonder Years."

When we got the call from Martha that we were accepted, it was like we had been called by Florenz Ziegfeld to be in his Follies.  Suddenly, we were thinking about future success and the color choices for our first Jaguars.

Yeah, wait a minute.  It wasn't going to be that easy.

The headiness of being accepted for something you had written was quickly diminished when we had our very first meeting.  Truth be told, there were about 15 other folks in the same workshop and they were all probably equally as good as us. 

Damn them.

The objective of the workshop would be that each of us would leave with a workable and saleable spec script for an existing TV show.  To do that, the moderators would create an environment similar to what you would find on any sitcom's production staff.  We would pitch our ideas.   In front of everybody.  Then come back with an outline.  To be read in front of everybody.  And then we would read our finished product.  In front of everybody.

About half of the group were focusing on writing for "The Simpsons," so it was a real curveball for them when we were all told that our spec script had to be for either "Seinfeld" or "Murphy Brown."  Well, we thought we were in the catbird seat.  "Murphy Brown?"  Been there, done that, and, yes, we do have the T-shirt.

And, yeah, wait a minute.  It wasn't going to be that easy.

TIP-East was going to be moderated by three judges in a precursor to "American Idol."  One of the "mentors" had written an "All in the Family" episode about two centuries ago and not much since.  Another judge was a female writer not much older than some of us and her main credits were for some Nickelodeon show. 

The third judge was the one everybody focused on.  He had just come off from running "The Cosby Show."  He was Simon Cowell.  The one you wanted to impress.  He had actually worked on something substantial within the last decade.

The only problem?  He was a real shithead.  From the get-go, we figured out that we were immediately the wrong gender for him.  He gravitated to the females in the crowd. 

Well, we will just have to swing him in our direction with our material.

And, yeah, wait a minute.  It wasn't going to be that easy.

My partner and I worked very hard on what we thought was a great idea for "Murphy Brown" and it gave a nice story for the Frank Fontana character to play.  We did the pitch and nobody in the room scoffed.  Thumbs not exactly way up, but certainly they were not pointed toward the floor.   We went off for the next week to do our outline.

As we listened to some of the other newbies spit out their outlines, we were not particularly impressed.  But, the former Cosby guy sure was.  Well, at least, if your voice was higher than his and your legs had been shaved in the shower that morning.  

Quicker than we would have liked, it was suddenly our turn.

We did our outline pitch as we had rehearsed ad nauseum for the last week.  Nerves were evident, but it didn't seem to be going badly.  Martha giggled a couple of times, even though her mouth was covered with the remnants of cream cheese.  The old "All in the Family" guy snored, which was his common reaction.

Then we heard from the Cosby guy.

As far as he was concerned, we had committed creative murder.  He trashed us from one side of the room to another.  Our story sucked.  Our dialogue sucked.  Our jokes sucked.  And, oh, by the way, did I tell you it all sucked??

We had been beaten to a pulp.  There was no way to recover.  We'll take one bagel for the road and see you perhaps in another decade.

But, we still had one judge left.  The girl from the unmemorable Nickelodeon show.  

"I liked it."

What??

"It was interesting.  The story is clever."

Really?

"I think this could be a very good spec script."

Will you marry one of us?  Or maybe even both of us??

That person who lifted us up from the depths of depression?

Suzanne Collins.  Thanks to her "Hunger Games," one of the hottest writers in America today.

I never realized that until I recently saw an article about her in Entertainment Weekly.  Ton of bricks, here is my head.  I looked at the photo of the author.  Yep, same chick, twenty years older.

I may have to go see this movie now.  Just to support her in a very small way for the kindness of two decades ago. 

P.S., we never did wind up with a good spec script during our stay at TIP-East.  But, there was one very tasty cinnamon raisin bagel....

Dinner last night:  Turkey meatballs, potato salad, and cole slaw from Gelson's.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Classic TV Commercial of the Month - April 2012

What the hell is Corinthian Leather?

Dinner last night:  The great pre-game buffet at the Dodger Stadium Club.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Your Weekend Movie Guide for April 2012

Oh, look, it just opened at Radio City Music Hall.  Let's go!

Never mind.  A boy can dream, can't I?  Instead, let's take a look at the newspaper listings for this weekend in April 2012.  I bet you can't find anything as good as "Bye Bye Birdie."  You know the drill.  I'll sift through the Los Angeles Times entertainment pages and give you my knee jerk reaction on the crap littering our multiplexes.  Just in case there is a lot of livin' to do.

Titanic 3-D:  As if two dimensions weren't bad enough.

Wrath of the Titans:  Somehow I don't think this is a documentary about the first years of the New York Jets' football franchise.

John Carter:  One of the biggest bombs ever in the annals of Disney production.  When you think about it, "The Ugly Dachshund" was a bigger hit.

American Reunion:  Revisiting the whole "American Pie" franchise one more time.  You really, really, really can't go home again.

Mirror, Mirror:  On the wall. What's a stupid idea for a movie?  This is.  Mirror now signing off.

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax:  For somebody who's been dead for years, he still has a lot of movies coming out.

Tyler Perry's Good Deeds:  His first good deed should be to stop littering theaters with his crap.

21 Jump Street:  Please submit an address change to your local post office.

The Hunger Games:  I am officially the last person on the planet to know anything about this.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen:  Bring your own worms.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home:  Dispatched from his basement room on an errand for his mother, slacker Jeff might discover his destiny (finally) when he spends the day with his brother as he tracks his possibly adulterous wife.   This stars Jason Segel, but, then again, doesn't everything these days?

The Woman in Black:  A young lawyer travels to a remote village where he discovers the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman is terrorizing the locals.   Will somebody give Daniel Radcliffe a break and let him be in one movie that doesn't have a single special effect??

Footnote:  Eliezer and Uriel Shkolnik are father and son as well as rival professors in Talmudic Studies. When both men learn that Eliezer will be lauded for his work, their complicated relationship reaches a new peak.   Kill me now.  And that's probably the wrong thing to say about a movie that was made in the Middle East.

Chronicle:  Three high school friends gain superpowers after making an incredible discovery. Soon, though, they find their lives spinning out of control and their bond tested as they embrace their darker sides.   High school seniors with darker sides?  I call that the Mount Vernon HIgh School men's room when I was a sophomore.

Underworld - Awakening:  When human forces discover the existence of the Vampire and Lycan clans, a war to eradicate both species commences. The vampire warrioress Selene leads the battle against humankind.   Jeez, does every single movie these days need to feature at least one vampire??

Friends with Kids:  Two platonic best friends decide to have a kid together.  Do not see this movie with a platonic best friend or you will be stopping for Pampers on the way home.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi:  A documentary on 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono, his business in the basement of a Tokyo office building, and his relationship with his son and eventual heir, Yoshikazu.  I love documentaries, but I hate sea food.  You do the math.

Damsels in Distress:  A trio of girls set out to change the male-dominated environment of the Seven Oaks college campus, and to rescue their fellow students from depression, grunge and low standards of every kind.   Written and directed by Whit Stillman, who tends to make a lot of stuff that makes no sense to anybody but himself.

We Have a Pope:  A story centered on the relationship between the newly elected Pope and his therapist.   Hey, if Tony Soprano needed to see a shrink, why not the Holy Father?

The Three Stooges:  Why?  Why??  Why???

The Cabin in the Woods:  Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.   You would think that, after years of Friday the 13th movies, teenagers would learn to stay home.

Unraveled:  A documentary on Marc Dreier, the once-prominent Manhattan attorney who was arrested for orchestrating a massive fraud scheme that netted over 700 million dollars from hedge funds.   Go see it with your favorite Wilpon.

Bad Ass:  A Vietnam veteran who becomes a local hero after saving a man from attackers on a city bus decides to take action when his best friend is murdered and the police show little interest in solving the crime.   I haven't seen a single frame of this, but I already like this guy.

The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye:  A documentary on artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and his wife and collaborator, Lady Jaye, centered around the transformations the pair underwent for their Pandrogyne project.   Gee, will they make a documentary about ANYBODY these days???

A Simple Life:  After suffering a stroke, an altruistic maid announces that she wants to quit her job and move into an old people's home.   Some people will do anything to avoid wiping down the venetian blinds.

Life, Love, Soul:  A high school senior's life is shattered when a car accident kills his mother and brother.  The name of the kid's character is Roosevelt.  Now I know where the soul comes from.

Detention:  As a killer named Cinderhella stalks the student body at the high school in Grizzly Lake, a group of co-eds band together to survive while they're all serving detention.  Class cut-ups to the extreme.

Keyhole:  Gangster and deadbeat dad, Ulysses Pick, embarks on an unusual journey through his home.   Starring Jason Patric and Isabella Rosellini.  They will miss seeing me in the audience.

Losing Control:  A smart and original, quirky comedy about a female scientist who wants proof that her boyfriend is "the one."   Len's rule of thumb:  if a movie goes out of its way to call itself smart, original, and quirky, it's not.

Lockout:  A man wrongly convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage against the U.S. is offered his freedom if he can rescue the president's daughter from an outer space prison taken over by violent inmates.   I'd love to go see this with the Obama urchins.

Scenes of a Crime:  This sounds like an compelling documentary.  It explores a 10-hour interrogation that culminates in a disputed confession and a high-profile murder trial in New York State.  You have the right to be interested.

Woman Thou Art Loosed - On the 7th Day:  Blair Underwood stars.  The Ames' seem to have built the perfect life until their six year old daughter is kidnapped; over the course of seven days they begin to uncover secrets about their past that could rip their marriage and lives apart.  Pam Grier is in the supporting cast, so expect some well-placed kicks to the crotch. 

The Raid - Redemption:  A SWAT team becomes trapped in a tenement run by a ruthless mobster and his army of killers and thugs.   What tenement doesn't have its share of mobsters, killers, and thugs??

The Deep Blue Sea:  The wife of a British Judge is caught in a self-destructive love affair with a Royal Air Force pilot.   A yank on my RAF.

Dinner last night:  Chicken tenders and rice.