Friday, May 31, 2013

If I Tweeted - May 2013

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

#LenSpeaks  Is there such a thing as the May pole?  The only one I remember was in the opening credits of "The Odd Couple."

#LenSpeaks  The media news outlets still think that Benghazi was played by Vince Edwards.

#LenSpeaks  Or it's a rub-on pain reliever available in Afghanistan.

#LenSpeaks  The very best non-stick surface available today is Barack Obama.

#LenSpeaks  Do you ever wonder what the President does when it's too rainy to golf and NCAA basketball is done?

#LenSpeaks  Uh oh, I better delete that line.  I might be audited.

#LenSpeaks  I know two people who have been audited for the first time ever.  After they made Tea Party donations for the very first time.

#LenSpeaks  Hmmmmmm....

#LenSpeaks  My service guy at Toyota when I brought my car in for maintenance:  "The only thing wrong with your car is the Mets license plate holder."

#LenSpeaks  How weird is that both my favorite baseball teams stink?  And you think I'm kidding when I say I'm cursed.

#LenSpeaks  Obama tweeted a photo of him and his kid hugging under a White House portrait of Lincoln.

#LenSpeaks  Yeah, that was purely spontaneous.

#LenSpeaks  But I guess when you can't golf or do brackets, you tweet.

#LenSpeaks  And that just secured my audit for 2010.

#LenSpeaks  Luckily, I save all my Quicken files.

#LenSpeaks  Keith Hernandez on playing day games in Chicago:  "You can't soar with the eagles if you hoot with the owls."

#LenSpeaks  Back in his playing days, Keith was snorting like a pig.

#LenSpeaks  I actually watched the American Idol finale.  So who's the other person that did?

#LenSpeaks  Does anybody still watch that show except Ryan Seacrest's parents?

#LenSpeaks  They're firing all the judges for next year, including Randy Jackson.  His response:  "Wow, dog, I was in it to win it."

#LenSpeaks  On the finale, Ryan Seacrest was in a tuxedo and looked like he should be sitting on Edgar Bergen's knee.

#LenSpeaks  Oh, they announced the win and she looks 45.  I thought there was an age restriction on this show.

#LenSpeaks  Meanwhile, didn't the winner already get an Oscar for "The Help?"

#LenSpeaks  Somebody call the printer and cancel the order for "Hillary 2016" bumper stickers.

#LenSpeaks  They're making a movie about Hillary at the age of 26.  The hot actresses in Hollywood are lining up for the part.

#LenSpeaks  If Len were casting, I'd hire Melissa McCarthy.  Another annoying big mouth with a fat ass.

#LenSpeaks  Wow, a tornado in Oklahoma.  Anybody surprised?

#LenSpeaks  That's like somebody in Minnesota being shocked when it snows.

#LenSpeaks  There's so much coverup in Washington DC that the Obamas renamed their dog "Checkers."

#LenSpeaks  I love idiots on Facebook who are so impressed when "Barack" sings the National Anthem.  

#LenSpeaks  He could be just like me in church and he simply moves his lips.

#LenSpeaks  I saw Tommy Lasorda sound asleep in the Dodgers owners' box and I don't blame him.

Dinner last night:  Beef and pork lasagna from Gelson's.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Computer Unfriendly

There are some movie titles that are godsends to film critics.   When a negative review is baked into the title, it's often too easy to resist.  For instance, take the new film "Disconnect."  If you want to trash the picture, it's a slam dunk.

"Disconnect....absolutely."

"Does this include the projector plug?"

"Whatever you say, Mr. Film Producer."

Of course, the easy plan can come undone when the movie itself is quite good.  And that's just what "Disconnect" is.  A smart and intelligent film that stays with you for a long while afterward.  And makes you think about how you spend your time in 2013.  

You go see the film and come home to access the internet to see other reviews.  You might tap into IMDB.com to review the cast list.  You might check Moviefone to see where else it is playing so you can recommend it to friends.

And, as you go about all those routine reactions, you realize what the movie was telling you all along.

What's it about, you may ask?

Well, as Madge the Manicurist used to say on all those Palmolive TV commercials....."you're soaking in it."

Huh?

You're reading here what I had to say about "Disconnect" and that's exactly what the film is warning you about.   Our excessive and obsessive use of the internet.

In our collective worlds, we are all living almost comfortably in the land of Information Overload.  We need to know every single detail of everything that we touch, sense, eat, or feel.  We frequently don't leave our homes to go shopping.  It is done not at a Macy's cashier counter, but on Macy's.com.  We don't go out to a movie.  We wait so we can watch it on a computer screen.  We don't go to a party or a social gathering.  No, it's easier to talk to somebody on-line.

And this reliance will increase at a geometric pace until, two generations from now, children will no longer know how to communicate with each other in person.

That's what "Disconnect" brilliantly tackles.  Our seemingly undying need to live on our computers.

"Disconnect" is one of those movies that falls into the now-classic film format, asking you to follow five or six different plot lines what you just know will come together in some fashion in the last reel.  Indeed, that device is now becoming quite routine and overused.  But, here it still works.  Mainly because computers have managed to keep all of our own plot lines isolated and separate.  And the characters in these stories are truly that.  Married to their flat screens and little else.

One of the few "big names" in "Disconnect" is Jason Bateman, playing the isolated dad in a family so dysfunctional that it makes his "Arrested Development" TV clan look like the Waltons.  His son is being pranked on Facebook by a couple of classmates and the boy's reaction to the joke is to attempt suicide.

Meanwhile, one of the prankster kids takes to the computer because his father, a single dad, has no time for him.  He's too busy acting as a computer fraud detective.  And his clients just happen to be...

A young couple dealing with the loss of their infant son to SIDS.  Young Dad gambles on-line.   Young Mom, not getting comfort from her husband, takes to a grief counseling website.  Suddenly, their life savings are mysteriously wiped out.  On-line, of course.  And who doesn't relate to this story?  Haven't we all had our bank accounts hacked at least twice?

Naturally, any movie about internet use would not be complete without the requisite porn/sex story.  A TV reporter does research on such a site and winds up in a "relationship" with a young teen hustler who does his best "work" via Skype.  Director Henry Alex Rubin refrains from giving us Korean porn specialists, but he does tap into a world that is seedy, repulsive, and amazingly poignant.

As you expect, most of these folks live in the same suburban community that I recognized from location shooting to be all around my second home of Yonkers, New York.  I recognized many spots familiar to me, including one scene in a motel that was shot in the old Carvel Inn where I once worked.  On a personal level, this enabled the film to touch even more deeply.  

I couldn't wait to get home and e-mail all my Yonkers friends about it.  Then I stopped myself.  Maybe I should call them on the phone and tell them.  

Or just let them know in this blog piece, which, of course, you are reading right now.

As "Disconnect" intelligently lets us know, there is no escape for any of us.

Go see it.   Not streamed on a computer.  Please put your shoes on.  Go down to the garage.  Get into your car.  Drive to the local multiplex.  And see it in a theater.

That's how life should be experienced.

LEN'S RATING:  THREE AND A HALF STARS.

Dinner last night:  Had a big lunch so just a salad.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

This Date in History - May 29

Happy birthday, John Hinckley Jr.  I'll bet Jodie Foster's not mentioning you in her blog today.

363:  ROMAN EMPEROR JULIAN DEFEATS THE SASSANID ARMY IN THE BATTLE OF CTESIPHON, BUT IS UNABLE TO TAKE THE CITY.

Take the city?  I'll bet they can't even pronounce it.

1167:  A ROMAN ARMY SUPPORTING POPE ALEXANDER III IS DEFEATED BY CHRISTIAN OF BUCH AND RAINALD OF DASSEL.  

And Dicker and Dicker of Beverly Hills.

1414:  COUNCIL OF CONSTANCE.

Constance who?  Towers?  Ford?  McCashin?  History needs to be more explicit.

1453:  OTTOMAN ARMIES UNDER SUITAN MEHMED II FATIH CAPTURES CONSTANTINOPLE AFTER A 53-DAY SIEGE, ENDING THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE.

I'm sure that fact was on a World History quiz that I failed.

1660:  CHARLES II IS RESTORED TO THE THRONE OF ENGLAND, SCOTLAND AND IRELAND.

With a new crown and a fresh coat of paint.

1727:  PETER II BECOMES TSAR OF RUSSIA.

Tstupendous.

1790:  RHODE ISLAND BECOMES THE LAST OF THE ORIGINAL US COLONIES TO RATIFY THE CONSTITUTION AND IS ADMITTED AS THE 13TH STATE.

How else can people from Connecticut get to Boston?

1848:  WISCONSIN IS ADMITTED AS THE 30TH STATE.

Do we have to take in all those Cheeseheads?

1852:  JENNY LIND LEFT NEW YORK AFTER HER WILDLY SUCCESSFUL TWO-YEAR AMERICAN TOUR.

The Justin Bieber of the 19th Century.

1861:  THE HONG KONG CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IS FOUNDED IN HONG KONG.

Clever how they came up with that name.

1886: CHEMIST JOHN PEMBERTON PLACES HIS FIRST AD FOR COCA COLA IN THE ATLANTA JOURNAL.

I'd like to teach the world to drink.

1903:  COMEDIAN BOB HOPE IS BORN.

But I wanna tell ya.  Keep reading for a very fun historical fact that I never knew until I started writing up this date.

1913:  IGOR STRAVINSKY'S BALLET "THE RITE OF SPRING" RECEIVES ITS PREMIERE PERFORMANCE IN PARIS, PROVOKING A RIOT.

What?  The tulips got upset??

1917:  PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY IS BORN.

And here it is, gang.  Who ever knew that Kennedy and Hope had the same    birthday?  And both of them slept with actresses named Marilyn.

1919:  ALBERT EINSTEIN'S THEORY OF GENERAL RELATIVITY IS CONFIRMED.  

I didn't even know it was Catholic.

1931:  MICHELE SCHIRRU, A US CITIZEN, IS EXECUTED BY AN ITALIAN MILITARY FIRING SQUAD FOR INTENT TO KILL MUSSOLINI.

Had she lived and married astronaut Wally Schirra, she would have been Michele Schirru Schirra.

1938:  FORMER BASEBALL COMMISSIONER FAY VINCENT IS BORN.

You think his folks wanted a girl?

1942:  ACTOR JOHN BARRYMORE DIES.

And a few of his actors cart his body to saloons all over Los Angeles.  A true story.

1942:  BING CROSBY RECORDS IRVING BERLIN'S SONG "WHITE CHRISTMAS."  

Great idea.  With it being May 29 and all.

1947:  ACTOR ANTHONY GEARY IS BORN.

He's been on General Hospital longer than some people have been alive.

1951:  ACTRESS FANNY BRICE DIES.

Funny girl.  Even funnier face.

1953: EDMUND HILLARY AND SHERPA TENZING NORGAY BECOME THE FIRST PEOPLE TO REACH THE SUMMIT OF MOUNT EVEREST.

Something tells me Hillary made the sherpa go first.  Just to check the footing.

1955:  ASSASSIN JOHN HINCKLEY JR. IS BORN.

You talkin' to me?

1958:  ACTRESS ANNETTE BENING IS BORN.

The future Mrs. Warren Beatty.  

1972:  BASEBALL PLAYER/SPY MOE BERG DIES.

I like that occupation mix.  I wonder if that's what he wrote on his income tax returns.

1973:  TOM BRADLEY IS ELECTED THE FIRST BLACK MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA.  

And I believe the last.

1979:  ACTRESS MARY PICKFORD DIES.

How are those curls working out for you now?

1988:  US PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN BEGINS HIS FIRST VISIT TO THE SOVIET UNION WHEN HE ARRIVES FOR A SUMMIT WITH MIKHAIL GORBACHEV.

Mr. Gorbachev, your wall is toast.

1990:  THE RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT ELECTS BORIS YELTSIN PRESIDENT OF THE RUSSIAN SFSR.

I really wish Mrs. Yeltsin's first name was Natasha.

21997:  TV ANNOUNCER GEORGE FENNEMAN DIES.

You bet your death.

1998:  POLITICIAN BARRY GOLDWATER DIES.

Misunderstood.

2001:  THE US SUPREME COURT RULES THAT DISABLED GOLFER CASEY MARTIN CAN USE A CART TO RIDE IN TOURNAMENTS.

Good.  Otherwise, he's still on the first hole.

2004:  LAWYER ARCHIBALD COX DIES.

The only good lawyer is....well, you know.

2008:  ACTOR HARVEY KORMAN DIES.

I once lit his candle at a Christmas Eve church service.  

2010:  ACTOR DENNIS HOPPER DIES.

I never lit his candle.  Ever.

Dinner last night:  Super Dodger Dog at the game.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Diamond Musings

For a mishmosh of reasons, I have not done too many baseball postings on this blog of late. Let's face it, if you're not a fan of America's pastime, that would be a really efficient way for me to lose a blog audience.

But, bear with me today, gang.  It's a rare foray onto the diamond.   And, if you're a fan of nastiness, hang in there.  I will pull out the claws later on.

But, for now...

A little over a quarter into the season, the only thing really lighting up Dodger Stadium in 2013 are Friday night fireworks.  The team with the highest payroll in the National League has been left at the starting gate like one of those horses that breaks a leg ten seconds into the Preakness.  The optimist in me says there's still plenty of baseball to be played.  The pessimist in me says there's still plenty of baseball to be endured.

Nevertheless....

In the land of Len Fandom, my east coast team is sucking wind as well.  The New York Mets were put together on the cheap and look it.  Run by an ownership and management team that clearly has seen better days, the whole place needs to be overhauled from top to bottom.  And, to make matters even worse, they closed the concession stand that sells fried barbecue bologna sandwiches on my level.

Winging back west where, at least, the gametime temperature is always a little warmer....

The hubbub around the Dodgers is their lousy start and, naturally, this translates into a hue and cry for the manager's head.  Don Mattingly went into 2013 with only one year left on his contract and, even in spring training, the press was talking that he would be a goner if the Dodgers got off to a bad start.  Well, bad start is a reality and the vultures, albeit the less knowledgeable ones in the national media, are circling.

Forget the fact that, as a result of injuries to everybody except organist Nancy Bea Heffley and announcer Vin Scully, Mattingly has yet to field the entire lineup he thought he would have last winter.  

Forget the fact that the front office neglected to remember that they needed a competent third baseman going into the season.  They pinned their hopes on journeyman Luis Cruz who, as a resident of California, has a better future cleaning pools.

Forget the fact that the morons in the national baseball media are focusing on the Dodgers' high salaries inherited from last year's trade with the Boston Red Sox.  These clowns talk about all this dead wood absorbed by Los Angeles.  Uh huh.  Checking the stats, the three best hitters so far on the team are Adrian Gonzalez, Nick Punto, and Carl Crawford.  Guess where they came from?

Meanwhile, Matt Kemp is badly in need of some steroids.  Andre Ethier has shaved his head and apparently twenty points off his batting average.  And the Dodger bullpen looks like it moved to Oklahoma...last week.

But, as the adage goes, you can't fire 25 guys so you have to shitcan the manager.  I'm a Mattingly fan and think he's done a great job learning how to manage on the fly.  Over his tenure here, I certainly have had a lot less moments cursing the manager than I did previously when "that stupid Torre" was a regular phrase in my Loge section every night.  To me, Donnie Baseball has a bright future in baseball management.

It just might not happen in Los Angeles.  And that's a sad state of affairs.  Sure, he's got a vote of confidence from the owners now.  But I also get a lot of those "$5 off" Bed Bath and Beyond coupons in the mail and they're almost as useful.

But, of course, in the slap happy world of sports journalism in 2013, somebody has to take the fall.  And, over the past week or so, it has galled me how Mattingly has been sliced and diced by a bunch of reporters who are allegedly "baseball insiders."  They're not in the Dodger clubhouse.  They don't travel with the team.  They sometimes will go months at a time without setting foot in California.  But, they still have, as my father used to say, "all the answers to none of the questions."

It started last week.  These assholes had nothing to write about so they all focused in on the Dodgers and Mattingly.  You know who these schmucks are.  They work for reputable sports websites but have long since lost credibility.  They are gossip mongers and yellow journalists.  They hide by "unnamed sources" and "scouts from rival organizations."

They are the scum of the business.

You've got jerks like Jon Heyman who lives in super agent Scott Boras' back pocket and has a face that screams "one of the townspeople in the Syosset High School production of Fiddler on the Roof."  Then there's some dolt named Buster Olney on ESPN.com.  I live by the rule of thumb that only dogs should be called Buster.  

The worst of the lot is this parasite who toils for Fox.  They even include him on their Game of the Week telecasts with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver who, by the way, sounds like he's retiring one season too late.


It's Ken Rosenthal and the guy is a complete fraud.  He's one of those jerks who probably had his lunch money stolen all the time in high school.  Hell, had I known him, I would have kicked the cream cheese out of him in the boys bathroom.

But, wait, he's a "baseball insider."  Long ago a sellout to any form of honest sports journalism, Rosenthal lives in hotel bars and airport terminals.  Looking for any kind of dirt or innuendo that he can use in his pieces.   He takes the barest of news and explodes into the crashing of the Hindenburg.  Over and over and over, Rosenthal has made up stuff that never materializes.  Of course, nobody seems to focus on his inaccuracy.  By the time there's a fact check, Kenny's moved onto his next topic.

A week ago Sunday, it must have been one of those days when Rosenthal had come up empty on the news scene.  So, with the Dodgers fresh from an annoying weekend sweep in Atlanta, he hit his keyboard and filed a tale on Fox Sports.com.

"MATTINGLY TO GET AX THIS WEEK."

Oh, he even had the exact date of the firing.  It would be Thursday, a team off day.

And that's what lots of other websites picked up as well.  Rosenthal's story went viral.

Except when you actually read it, the notion was all his own speculation.   Purely made up.  

Opinion passing for fact.

Of course, in a society that thrives on negative news of any sort, this became all the Dodgers had to deal with last week at every corner.  Mattingly's pre-game meeting with reporters on Friday night, usually covered by no more than three or four beat writers, had to be moved to a conference room.  

All of this incredibly unfair.  And stirred by a dweeb of a human being who should be doing nothing more for society than stacking cans of beans at your local super market.

Sure, if the Dodgers don't improve over the next several weeks, Mattingly's ouster might be their only move.  It would be sad if the guy doesn't get to manage when the Dodgers make their first intra-league visit to Yankee Stadium in mid-June.  

But, that is baseball and he probably understands that more than anybody.  A totally upstanding and professional guy.

Whose future and career is manipulated by just the opposite.  Ken Rosenthal.  A guy as far away from professionalism as the planet would allow.

Dinner last night:  Barbecued baby back ribs, baked beans, salad, and strawberry rhubarb crumble at the home of good friends Amir and Kevin.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Monday Morning Video Laugh - May 27, 2013

In honor of Memorial Day, let's salute one of our greatest Marines.

Gomer Pyle.  Here he is before he was inducted.  In one of the best episodes of "The Andy Griffith Show."  Citizen's arrest!!!

Dinner last night:  Grilled Taylor Ham sandwich.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Sunday Memory Drawer - When Every Sunday Was Memorial Day

Every Memorial Day, I am amazed.

My route to church takes me past the Los Angeles Veterans Memorial Cemetery.  And, on this one weekend every May, I am astounded to see all the graves above.  Almost overnight, adored by an American flag.  How the heck does this happen?  I mean, there have to be thousands and thousands of graves here.

Last year, I got the answer.  I happen to be driving by the place on Saturday and saw dozens and dozens of Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts.  All scampering up and down the rows of tombstones, yet respectfully stopping to decorate each one with its own Stars and Stripes.

If this is indeed a tradition for this cemetery, it's a beautiful one.  The youngest Americans saluting perhaps some of the oldest.

For me, Memorial Day was more than just remembering our nation's soldiers.  It's a time where you should recall all those who has passed on.

But, then again, in my family, every Sunday was Memorial Day.  Because there was no more likely Sunday activity in our house than prepping for that day's sojourn to the cemetery.  

You'd see the signs emerging right after Grandma and Grandpa had cleared their Sunday dinner dishes.  Usually by 1PM.  I'd look out our upstairs kitchen window.  Grandma would be by her flower bed.  Snip, snip, snip.  Then she'd move onto the lilac tree.  It wasn't always in bloom.  But, if it was...

Snip, snip, snip.

Meanwhile, there would the sound of tools being moved in the garage.  Grandpa came out with a shovel, a water can, and a weed whacker.  They'd get tossed into the back of his car.

Yep, they were headed to the cemetery.  To visit everybody.  

Our family was spread out over two places.  The humongous Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.  If you were there, you must have died before 1950.  The real oldtimers were planted there.  A foray to Woodlawn often became an event that even my parents attached themselves to.  Smack in the middle of this place was a duck pond.  And a wonderful spot for my dad to play with his Argus Technicolor camera.
This duck feeding thing was a big deal.  Mom dressed up for it.

Personally, I was bored by the treks through Woodlawn.  I never knew the relatives there. Cousins who had died of sinus infections in the pre-antibiotic days of the 30s. One young nephew who had accidentally stabbed himself to death while slicing some pork chops in the butcher shop. 

They were ashes and dust long before I popped out.  To keep my interest level up on those afternoons, my father would always drive me over for a history lesson.  It seems some rich lady back in 1912 had erected a monument to all those who sunk with the Titanic.  
It was a memorial, but I'd attack it like a jungle gym.  I'd be running like a lunatic all over it until my dad would invariably put an end to the mayhem.

"Get off there before you break your neck and we have to leave you here."

Oh.

These cemetery tours were almost robotic for my grandparents.  They had their set routine as adjunct gardeners for all our dead relatives.

Fill the water can from a nozzle that often just dripped liquid.

Pull out all the weeds that had spring up.

Sometimes, real surgery was needed if you showed up and there was a gaping hole in the grave.

"Uh, oh, Uncle Albert has sunk."

Just like the Titanic.

And that's why another item that was frequently loaded into Grandpa's car trunk was a big bag of dirt.  Handy to fill the holes that were ruining Tante Somebody's eternal rest.

Of course, if this was a Sunday to visit the more recent deceased family members, we'd head north to Ferncliff.

Located on a quiet hill in the even quieter hamlet of Hartsdale, New York, Ferncliff Cemetery is the eternal home of lots of famous people. 

Songwriter Harold Arlen, James Baldwin, ice cream meglomaniac Tom Carvel, Joan Crawford, Basil Rathbone, Toots Shor, Ed Sullivan and his orchestra leader Ray Bloch, director Preston Sturges, Moss Hart and his wife Kitty Carlisle Hart, renowned troublemaker Malcolm X, Oscar Hammerstein, Moms Mabley, and Judy Garland. Beatle John Lennon was cremated there. The list goes on and on and on. 

The place includes also a whole passel of my relatives. And the relatives of several good friends of mine.

And ultimately my own parents.


Indeed, my mom would be happy to know that her top floor studio apartment/niche is a mere three dozen footsteps away from Miss Garland, whom I would have allegedly be named after. If I, of course, was a girl. Not that gender ever made a difference to Judy. 

But, I digress...

We'd know we were headed to Ferncliff on a Sunday if you heard Grandma make the following announcement.

"Come on, let's go see Uncle Fritz."

The eight-year-old comedian in me could not resist the witty retort.  Yeah, but he can't see you. Ha ha. 

My grandmother didn't find the funny in funny.

"Don't be fresh."

We'd tool up to Ferncliff and there was a set order in which folks would be "visited." On our first stop, Grandma would survey the grounds like General Patton.  If a grave needed attention, she would call our.

 ”Pop, bring me the shears!”
 

And then they would spend an hour manicuring the grounds while I played hopscotch on the bronze nameplates all around me. And then get scolded for that.
 

”Don’t walk on them. That’s where their head is.”
 

Huh?

I'd often wander aimlessly across the street to the big building where everybody had indoor places to repose.  Why?  I have no idea because that mausoleum always managed to give me the creeps.  There would be eerie, somber music that was piped into that joint.  I walked through there wearing imaginary blinders, but always stopping for a second to look at those personalized family crypts.  Some were decorated to look like living rooms with even kids' toys on the floor.

Audible scream followed by my feet running as fast as they could.

There was one Ferncliff grave that my father scared the shit out of me with. It seems some real jerk had a bust made of his head. When he was buried, the bust was placed under the nameplate and you could lift it up to look down. 

One day, my father said, “come on and say hello to Uncle Charlie.” Not knowing the horror to come and being a dumb kid, I did so. Uncle Charlie looking up from his resting place. 

Audible scream all over again! 

Nightmares for a week.

Thanks, Dad.

When the afternoon was over, Grandma would pronounce the end as if she had finished a major project.

"Everybody's fine.  Good kinuck."

I think "kinuck" meant "enough."

As we would drive home, Grandma would often turn to me and ask if I would visit her in the same way every Sunday.

Yeah, sure.

As only it could make sense, my grandparents were buried in Woodlawn Cemetery with the rest of the older folks.  They picked their own plot.  Right next to the fence with the cars racing by on Webster Avenue outside.  I asked them once why she had picked this spot.

"We want to be able to watch all the cars go by."

Oh. 

I don't visit cemeteries every Sunday.  In lieu of pulling weeds, I prefer to remember all here.  On this blog.

Where they still live.

Dinner last night:  Turkey burger at the Arclight.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Classic Movie Trailer of the Month - May 2013

Tarzan vs. a New York cab driver?  Who speaks better English?

Dinner last night:  Double dip ham sandwich at Philippe's.

Friday, May 24, 2013

How Awkward Can You Get?

What happens when you give birth on the Food Network.
 Don't you want to see them five seconds after the photo was taken?
Surprisingly, Dad is a professional barber.
Saran Wrap must have been on sale.
The kid's not fond of the new Pope.
I'm surprised they didn't include a photo of the conception.
And, in the role of Judas Iscariot....Uncle Moe.
No wonder they lost the West.
 That boy smells something.
 Can you buy some clothes with that EBT card?
Hair styles by Tupperware.
Nobody wanted to pose with this ugly thing.  And neither did Alf.

Dinner last night:  Grilled Taylor Ham sandwich.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

If Only There Was Wi Fi

Movie theaters are working hard catering to all types of audience needs.

There are venues where they will serve you a full-blown meal while you watch the movie.

There are other multiplexes that feature "21+ Showings."  They'll serve you a smart cocktail while you sit in front of their screen.

I have a new idea.  Guaranteed to make some theater chain a fortune.

"Wi Fi Showings."

Open the theater up to the internet so that people can bring their laptops to selected screenings.  Because when a movie like "The Great Gatsby" comes along, you just want to do your blog entry right then and there.  It's impossible to remember all the jokes by the time you get home.

To say that "The Great Gatsby" is a total mess is like saying that it can get humid in New York City during July.  Overstating the obvious.  It was one of those horrible concoctions that I was mystically drawn to.  Because I knew that I'd get a deliciously vicious blog piece out of it.

And I could only remember half the jokes by the time I got home.

Here again is arguably the greatest American novel of the 20th Century and it is completely and utterly destroyed by one of the worst film directors working today.  Baz Luhrmann once again soils so many movie screens that theaters should put newspapers down whenever he has a new release.  There are some dopes who actually think this guy is a genius.  After all, he directed "Moulin Rogue."  Uh-huh.  One of the only movies that yours truly walked out of.  Baz a cinematic auteur?  He couldn't direct an evacuation of a room if he was the only person in it.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, dead from a pickled liver in 1940, has died all over again.  He certainly deserves better than the treatment he gets from Luhrmann and his stock company of actors from the Jaleel White Acting School.  Wait, that's actually an insult to Urkel who did Hamlet compared to what these jokers emote.  Most of them were hired to simply look into a mirror and shoot longing and loving glances at themselves.  Pasadena's annual parade has nothing on this production.  The Tournament of Egos.

I would suggest that you all know the legendary plot revolving around Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway, Tom and Daisy Buchanan, George, and Myrtle.  But, then again, there are some dolts out in the audience who may not even know this was originally a book.  Under Luhrmann's inept guidance, the story is turned into an episode of "Real Housewives of the Roaring Twenties."  There is lots of razzle and hardly any dazzle.  Like most of this hack's cinematic work, your eyes start to actually hurt after five minutes.  The director throws anything and everything up onto that screen.  With emphasis on the words "throw" and "up."

Once again, Luhrmann pays little attention to the story, the setting, or the historical accuracy of his films.  He simply bends everything to fit his own ego.   To conjure up the mood and music of the Roaring Twenties, Luhrmann pulls in hip hop tunes from the likes of Jay-Z and Beyonce.  To show the wild decadence of the era, he turns one of Gatsby's lavish parties into a 30 percent off clearance sale at the Cirque Du Soleil gift shop.  And when he was stumped for his next vision, he simply gives up some of the cheesiest computer graphics ever.  Your little brother's fifth grade science class rendition of a volcano was more authentic.

If Baz Luhrmann can do this to "The Great Gatsby," let's hope that he doesn't attempt to film "The Gospel According to Matthew."  Jesus will be played by Kanye West and the crucifixion will be staged at the next Coachella festival.

Of course, the acting in this swill is as bad as expected.  Leonardo DiCaprio plays Gatsby as if he's constipated.  He calls out the expression "old sport" so much that several stray neighborhood dogs wandered in during my screening.  Meanwhile, Leo's wearing so much pancake make-up that this could have been an assisted living home production of "The Mikado."  When he pops on his straw hat, he actually looks like Mortimer Snerd.

But, wait, there are others.  As narrator Nick Carraway, Tobey Maguire puts even himself to sleep.  Everything sounds as if he's reciting yesterday's obituary page in the Los Angeles Times.  Carey Mulligan, in the pivotal role of Dumb Dora Daisy, conveys little acting ability.  She spends most of the movie in a sullen state as if she just missed a callback for a "Glee" audition.  Some hunk of processed meat named Joel Edgerton is the villainous Tom Buchanan and his acting choices in this are so manic that people with bi-polar disorders would appear more centered in comparison.

Of course, who knows how these actors would have been if only they had been guided by a more competent director?  But, of course, Luhrmann's too busy getting multiple takes from the confetti throwers than his cast.  In any Baz film, story and character development don't just take a back seat.  They don't even get to buy a bus ticket.

On the weekend that 'The Great Gatsby" was unleashed on an unsuspecting America, I was once again aghast on Facebook.  Reading the rave reviews from "friends" who have been since deleted from my profile.  It made me wonder if there are actually two versions of the film out there.  Now that would be a neat trick for Hollywood to pull.  Announce that there's a new Baz Luhrmann film at your local multiplex....and then surprise the audience with something good.

Which would obviously be directed by somebody other than Baz Luhrmann.  

Meanwhile, I'm racking my brain.  I know I had a couple more good one-liners.  They went racing through my head so fast that it hurt.  Like when you eat ice cream too fast.

Another very good argument for my concept of "Wi Fi Showings."  

LEN'S RATING:  ONE AND A HALF STARS.

Dinner last night:  Pastrami, Swiss cheese, and cole slaw sandwich.