Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday Morning Video Laugh - June 30, 2014

Everybody in the pool this holiday weekend!

Dinner last night:  Chicken fried steak and vegetables.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Sunday Memory Drawer - That Murder Twenty Years Ago

Time flies when you're in jail.  Or so I am told.  

The only problem is that this complete asshole is in prison for the wrong crime.    
We just "celebrated" the twenty year anniversary of this very famous dual murder.  And, as I watched one of those retrospectives on television, I discovered that I was getting angry all over again. 
 

One could argue that the stunningly stupid verdict in this year-long soap opera changed America forever.  And not in a good way.    

I will never ever forget when the "not guilty" announcement was made.  I was working in a New York high rise office building.  Back in that day, you couldn't watch the world unfold on your computer screen.  There was one TV in the place and about twenty of us crowded into one executive's office.  There were gasps.  There were inexplicably from some work colleagues fist pumps.  And, you could hear thirty floors below on the streets of Manhattan, cheers.

Yes, cheers.  

America, the slippery slope started on that day.   

There have been polls that show over 50% of the country still thinks OJ Simpson was innocent.  I read that only one in every ten Black people think he was guilty.  I mean, how could the beloved OJ commit murder?   After scoring all those touchdowns.  

Everything I have ever heard about this American folk hero is that he was as stupid as they come.  Totally devoid of any intelligence.  And a nasty son of a bitch, to boot. But, wait, we can toss that all out the window.  He scored touchdowns!

I digress....

We were all captivated by these goings on twenty years ago.  My own mother was consumed by the events and the subsequent trial.  She said right from the start that he was guilty.  Unfortunately, she died before the trial finished.  Had she lived to hear the final verdict, it would have killed her.

Of course, when it started, the whole drama played out like a bad episode of Law and Order and, yes, I think that show was already on the air twenty years ago.  

The phony alibis about a flight to Chicago.  

The fierce denials.  

And that wonderfully delicious White Bronco chase. I remember the latter like it was yesterday.  I was at a good friend's house for dinner in Irvington, New York.  One of his other guests was that Steve Doocy who now works for Fox News.  We couldn't pull our eyes away from the screen.  You couldn't write this drama if you tried.

After all the dust settled, AKA OJ was walking the street as a free man, I found myself living in Los Angeles, the actual scene of the crime.  And, even though the whole trial was fading slightly from our focus, I suddenly started to amass a bunch of bizarr-o connections to the whole debacle.

For example...

When my writing partner and I first settled in SoCal in 1997, we were first isolated out in an Oakwood Apartments complex out in Woodland Hills. We might as well have lived on the moon. As soon as we got there in the Valley, we desperately started to figure out how to get to the other side of the hill. The fun side.

That would be the apartment on Clark Drive. Not exactly in Beverly Hills, but on the border. Not exactly in West Hollywood, but on the border. When there was a reason to call the police, no cops wanted to claim the neighborhood. Our apartment was in Nowhere Adjacent.

But, early on, we found out just who we were adjacent to when we got on the elevator one night.

Famed OJ houseguest Kato Kaelin.
Imagine our surprise that day when we loped onto the lift and heard a familiar voice utter "three, please." He even sounded stupid just saying those two simple words. Not only was he going to the same floor as us, his apartment was only two doors down. The first couple of weeks, we would purposely bump into the wall of his unit, just like OJ supposedly knocked into his air conditioner on that fateful night.

Over time, we were able to discern some interesting factoids about our neighbor. He didn't seem to work. No surprise there. Sometimes, he would simply bide his time by sitting on the street curb outside the building. A professional dodo. We learned from other tenants that Kato actually lived in the building during the trial, which meant that papparazzi were camped outside for two years.

About a year into our tenure there, we noticed Kato with a packing tape gun. He was either moving or perhaps trying to hold his brain in. And, suddenly, like a carpetbagger in the night, he was gone. Except for one last calling card left behind.

He decided to dump a lot of scripts in the ;aundry room. We immediately brought them upstairs and began to digest them. All were essentially soft porn projects offered to this D list star. Most of the screenplays had notes on the title page.

"Kato, you're going to be Danny, the horny pool boy."

"Kato, you're perfect for Marco, the horny tennis pro."

"Kato, we want you for the horny horn player. Get it? Wink wink."

I am guessing you can see any or all of the above during the overnight hours on Cinemax.

Moving on from Katoland, I simultaneously developed another bizarre OJ connection at work. A data input guy in the office and under my management looked damn familiar in both looks and name. There was something very, very nagging about him. And then it finally came to us third hand.

He was the guy who was walking his dog and found Nicole's dog with the bloody footprints. His testimony was memorable because he was the one who verified his movements that night by what shows he was watching on TV Land.

If you remember him and what an idiot he sounded like, trust me when I tell you he was as moronic in the office as he appeared to be during the trial.
 Ultimately, even the E list celebrity status he brought to my work life was not enough. His work habits were atrocious and I got to fire him a year later.

The final connection is probably the best, but sadly before the days of my digital camera.

We saw O.J. Simpson himself.

My writing partner and I were in Westwood and sitting in the window of a restaurant that sold nothing but French fries (don't ask, it's closed since then). As we alternately dipped the taters into ketchup, ranch, or barbecue dressings, we suddenly felt a pair of eyes staring at us through the window. It gave us a jolt like a 7.5 tremor.

There, on the other side of the glass, was a murderer.

Or so everybody but 12 numbskulls think.

Watching us dip French fries. He didn't look for more than 15 seconds but it seemed like an eternity.

And then he was off.

Watching him walk so slowly down the block with those arthritic knees, we wondered whether the jury was right.   He couldn't have gotten around that night as quickly as he allegedly did.

Oh, what the hell were we thinking?

Nah, he did it!
Dinner last night:  Sausage pizza at Stella Barra.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Classic Movie Trailer of the Month - June 2014

The very first of the "airliner in peril" movies.  With a breathtaking, Oscar-winning score by Dimitri Tiomkin.

Dinner last night:  The salad bar at Gelson's.

Friday, June 27, 2014

If I Tweeted - June 2014

I don't, you know.  But, if I did, here's what was on my mind this past month.

#LenSpeaks  Flew to NY.  Not in the city 30 minutes and I've already told one lady to get her head out of her ass.

#LenSpeaks  Ah, yelling at strangers.   I am so at home.

#LenSpeaks  California Chrome racing for the Triple Crown.  That's a horse.  Not a kid with braces in Canoga Park.

#LenSpeaks  NBC started his Belmont Stake pre-show sometime around Memorial Day. 

#LenSpeaks  They might as well.  The Belmont is the only show they have not produced by Lorne Michaels.

#LenSpeaks  This race coverage has gone on so long that Santa Claus is arriving at the end.

#LenSpeaks  Speaking of horses, isn't it time to put Bob Costas out to pasture?

#LenSpeaks  California Chrome loses.  Five minutes later, people don't even remember his name.

#LenSpeaks  Watching the Tony Awards and I realize I've never been thanked in an acceptance speech.  That kind of bothers me.

#LenSpeaks  The Tonys tell me I should go see a Broadway show.  I'll do that next month when I don't pay my apartment rent.

#LenSpeaks  Just like California Chrome, nobody will know who know Best Supporting Actor in a Musical five minutes from now.

#LenSpeaks  Okay, Broadway, I'm on 48th Street and looking to see a show.  Oh, wait, it's Monday.

#LenSpeaks  In Manhattan and doing the whole scene from Annie Hall.  Sitting in front of an office building and making fun of people.

#LenSpeaks   Does anybody really know the extension of the person they are dialing?

#LenSpeaks  Looking out at the clouds at 35,000 feet, which is the one that has all my data files?

#LenSpeaks That Bergdahl trade might be the worst swap since the Mets traded Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi.

#LenSpeaks  Did anybody realize the Obama was in a fantasy terrorist league?

#LenSpeaks  Pete Rose managing again for one night in the Atlantic League.  Gee, what were the odds?

#LenSpeaks   One of those Obama urchins worked for a day as a production assistant on a TV show.  Yeah, those kids aren't treated differently at all.

#LenSpeaks  When the hell did everybody get so interested in soccer?

#LenSpeaks  I mean, the World Cup has been around forever.  Now you can't go anywhere without seeing it on TV.

#LenSpeaks  Meanwhile, the Stanley Cups finals was ten times more exciting.   And the total audience nationally was probably less than the seating capacity of Madison Square Garden.

#LenSpeaks  There are probably some World Cup represented countries that shoot players if they lose.

#LenSpeaks  Is it me or is soccer being force fed down our throats?

#LenSpeaks  So the IRS has lost tons of incriminating e-mails and nobody in the media notices.

#LenSpeaks  It's the missing 18 minutes from Nixon's tapes all over again.  Nobody notices.

#LenSpeaks  I mean, if Obama were a Republican, he would have been impeached so many times by now that he would qualify for Supreme Court frequent flyer miles.

#LenSpeaks  Hillary's memoirs selling for 15 bucks at a local super market.  Still overpriced by 20 dollars.

#LenSpeaks  Her book is called "Hard Choices."  Must be thinking of Bill when he's horny.

#LenSpeaks  The last time they slept in the same bed?   The year had to start with "19."

#LenSpeaks   Now a book says she has severe medical issues.  Nobody will care.

#LenSpeaks  Is there anything we do on a daily basis where you don't have to hit "#?"

#LenSpeaks   I will never again see a Tom Cruise movie and I'm kind of proud of that.

Dinner last night:  Bacon wrapped hot dog at Dodger Stadium.








Thursday, June 26, 2014

How About a Little Variety?

Another revisit of last Saturday night's Hollywood Bowl concert.  And for good reason.

When the legendary Carol Burnett presented Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame Inductee Kristin Chenoweth, she said that Kristin is one of the only performers around who could bring back the TV variety show.

Agreed.   She's a five tool player.  Sings.  Acts.  Has comic chops.  Can dance a little.  Connects with the audience.

Admittedly, I think there are a few others who could host a TV variety show in 2014. 

Neil Patrick Harris.  You've seen his hosting of the Tonys and the Emmys.  Enough said.

Sutton Foster.  Most of you probably don't know who she is, but, trust me, she can do it.

Jimmy Fallon.  Let's face it.  The first half-hour of the new Tonight Show is really an old variety show.  It only goes downhill when Fallon has to sit down with whoever has a new movie opening on Friday.

Martin Short.  Ignore the fact that he's over 60.  The guy is still brilliant and can amazingly connect with a younger audience.

So, that's the handful of potential hosts.  But I can see any one of them coming out like Carol Burnett and opening a show by taking some Q and A with the studio audience.  Mix in a new supporting cast of the 2014 versions of Harvey Korman, Tim Conway, and Vicki Lawrence.

I'll be tuned in, for sure.

So, how come this doesn't get done?

Well, a lot of reasons.  Leading the pack would be the overall stupidity of television programmers, in desperate and passionate love with a young demographic that stopped watching television twenty years ago.

Of course, there are some idiots who would argue that there is still a variety show on network TV and it's been there since 1975.  Saturday Night Live.  It's got comedy sketches.  It's got musical acts.

Puh-leze.

SNL, despite its ratings and its innate ability to bring in the hottest celebrities as hosts, really died decades ago.  Usually, there is one good sketch in the first fifteen minutes.   The rest of the show is really a demonstation of how to read cue cards. 

Oddly enough, I would contend that the last really good season of SNL was thirty years.  When Lorne Michaels was not in charge.  And the cast was top-notch.  Without cue cards.  Christopher Guest.    Harry Shearer.  Julia Louis-Dreyfus.  Billy Crystal.

Oh, and Martin Short.  Where have we seen that name before?

You might contend that the TV variety show, as done by the likes of Carol Burnett, Dean Martin, and Flip Wilson, is a relic.  Stuck in the past.   Appealing to only those of a certain...ahem...older age group.

And so what's horrible about that?  We're the ones with longer attention spans.  We are home watching television.  Maybe with a tablet or a cell phone in our hands, but home watching television nonetheless.  

And, most importantly, we are still the ones with the buying power.  That younger target demo?  Well, a lot of them can't find jobs in this economy.  Oh, yeah, and they can hang on their parents' health plans till they're 26.

You would think that somebody at TV Land might champion this format again.  I mean, they're the ones who were trying to singlehandedly bring back the 70s and 80s.  They started off well with "Hot in Cleveland."  Giving us a return visit from some welcome sitcom stars like Valerie Bertinelli, Betty White, Jane Leeves, and Wendie Malick.    But, sadly, they never capitalized on this.  Everything TV Land has developed since looks just like the crap on the other networks.  And, by the way, there are now regularly scheduled penis jokes on "Hot" in its now ludicrous attempt to turn itself into "Three and A Half Women."

So, where can a great TV variety show live?

Well, any place really.  And no place really.  But, with over 1,000 channels, you would think somebody would have the gumption to get this going.  Because, with the names I suggested at the helm, this could be the next big success.  In television, everything old can be new again.

Call me.  Somebody.  I have ideas.

Dinner last night:  Vegetable stir fry.




Wednesday, June 25, 2014

This Date in History - June 25

Happy birthday, Jimmie Walker.  Good times!

253:  POPE CORNELIUS IS BEHEADED.

So I wonder how they paraded this around the Vatican.   Were there two processions?

841:  FORCES LED BY CHARLES THE BALD AND LOUIS THE GERMAN DEFEAT THE ARMIES OF LOTHAIR I OF ITALY AND PEPIN II.  

As detailed by Len the Blogger.

1530:  AT THE DIET OF AUGSBURG, THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION IS PRESENTED TO THE HOLY ROMAN EMPEROR BY LUTHERAN PRINCES.

And that's why I have a church to go to every Sunday.

1678:  VENETIAN ELENA CORNARO PISCOPIA IS THE FIRST WOMAN AWARDED A DOCTORATE OF PHILOSOPHY.  

When she lost her eyesight, she was a blind Venetian.

1788;  VIRGINIA BECOMES THE 10TH STATE TO RATIFY THE US CONSTITUTION.

Do we still have a constitution?

1876:  BATTLE OF THE LITTLE BIGHORN AND THE DEATH OF GENERAL CUSTER.

Who died with his boots on.

1906:  PITTSBURGH MILLIONAIRE HARRY THAW SHOOTS AND KILLS ARCHITECT STANFORD WHITE.

Didn't like the plans for the master bath, did he?

1910:  IGOR STRAVINSKY'S BALLET "THE FIREBIRD" IS PREMIERED IN PARIS.

Zzzzzz.

1924:  DIRECTOR SIDNEY LUMET IS BORN.

He was mad as hell and he wasn't going to take it anymore.

1925:  ACTRESS JUNE LOCKHART IS BORN.

Here, girl.

1935:  DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS BETWEEN THE SOVIET UNION AND COLOMBIA ARE ESTABLISHED.  

They deserve each other.

1938:  DR. DOUGLAS HYDE IS INAUGURATED AS THE FIRST PRESIDENT OF IRELAND.

Beating Jekyll in a close race.

1940:  FRANCE OFFFICIALLY SURRENDERS TO GERMANY.

The correct term is "they rolled over like dogs."

1942:  BASKETBALL STAR WILLIS REED IS BORN.

How long did it take to get him out?

1944:  US NAVY SHIPS BOMBARD CHERBOURG DURING WORLD WAR II.

They hated umbrellas.

1944: THE FINAL "KRAZY KAT" COMIC STRIP IS PUBLISHED.

Ignatz.

1947:  "THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK" IS PUBLISHED.

Lousy ending.

1947:  COMIC JIMMIE WALKER IS BORN.

Dyn-O-Mite.

1948:  THE BERLIN AIRLIFT BEGINS.

Who's bringing the brats?

1975:  MOZAMBIQUE ACHIEVES INDEPENDENCE.

A good day to be a Mozambi.

1975:  PRIME MINISTER INDIRA GANDHI DECLARES A STATE OF EMERGENCY IN INDIA.

So, those of you having problems with your Dell computer.....

1976:  MISSOURI GOVERNOR KIT BOND ISSUES AN ORDER RESCINDING THE EXTERMINATION ORDER, FORMALLY APOLOGIZING FOR HOW THE STATE TREATED THE CHURCH OF LATTER DAY SAINTS.

The Osmonds accept the apology.

1978:  THE RAINBOW FLAG REPRESENTING GAY PRIDE IS FLOWN FOR THE FIRST TIME IN SAN FRANCISCO.

Naturally.

1979:  ANIMATOR DAVE FLEISCHER DIES.

Popeye is a pallbearer.   Betty Boop does the eulogy.

1981:  MICROSOFT IS RESTRUCTURED TO BECOME A BUSINESS IN THE STATE OF WASHINGTON.

They made a few dollars.

1997:  EXPLORER JACQUES COUSTEAU DIES.

Six feet under wasn't so far for him.

2009:  ACTRESS FARRAH FAWCETT DIES.

Charlie's really got an angel now.

2009:  ROCK STAR MICHAEL JACKSON DIES.

"I just need a little sleep."

Dinner last night:  Leftover sausage and red cabbage.





Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Vintage Bowl, Vintage Me

The Hollywood Bowl had seen better days.  So have my knees.   Essentially, both have been sliding a slippery slope the best few years.  The Bowl's most recent summers have not been the greatest with regard to program content.  And, of course, with the mediocre entertainment, the thought of dragging my arthritic joints up and down the steep hills and stairs of the venue was less inviting.  I'm in pain for this?

But, naturally, the Bowl is part of my Los Angeles blood.  Just like 100 milligrams of Celebrex every day.  I booked my usual concerts back in April and immediately began the process of mobility training with my terrific personal trainer Christina.  Suddenly, I'm once again Rocky Balboa prepping for Apollo Creed.  Cue the Bill Conti theme.  I can do this.

Again, the program list for Summer 2014 was skeptical and wanting.  I had to pick five concerts for my plan and I was really stuck for the fifth one.  I ultimately selected last Saturday's Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame induction.  I had no clue what to expect.  Neither did my knees.

Boy, were the three of us surprised!  Because, arguably, this might have been the most entertaining night I have spent at the Bowl in years.

More importantly, I also premiered my new method to address the rigors of the Bowl climb.  Leg swings to open up the hips in the parking lot.  I was careful not to kick my friends like a mule.  A rest stop at the midway point.  Coordinated snack purchases to minimize stairway treks.  That all worked too.

It was like I was at the Hollywood Bowl back in the year 2002.  The show was great.  And I survived with a minimum of discomfort.

There's a new regular Bowl orchestra conductor named Thomas Wilkins and he's very engaging.  The first Hall inductee was a musical group named Pink Martini.  Now, I saw them at the Bowl about ten years ago when they were the opening act for Sergio Mendes and Brazil Whatever Year It Is.  Back then, they were fabulous.  When the act was confined to a half-hour.  Several years later, I saw them at Disney Hall when they were the main attraction.  Stretched to two hours, the Latin music wore thin. 

Last Saturday, they played for 35 minutes and it was perfect. 
A bunch of high school kids then took over the orchestra seats for some group called YOLA or Youth of Los Angeles.  These are the Bowl oboe players of the future.  They played a classical piece flawlessly or as best that this non-classical devotee could discern.  Admittedly, they should sound great because they've been practicing the same number since last September.

After intermission, out came the Go Gos.
Yes, those Go Gos.  And they were the original, not some replacement singers they found on a Franklin Avenue street corner.  There the girls were, in all their AARP glory.  Every woman above the age of 50 was standing in the aisles.  Internists all over Beverly Hills were prescribing muscle relaxers by Monday morning.   Hips were fracturing in every section.  Nobody cared.  They brought along the USC Marching Band.  Whoo hoo!

Out comes Carol Burnett to introduce the next inductee and, for the first time all night, I give a standing ovation. 
I mean, it is Carol Burnett, for God's sake.  She brings us Kristin Chenoweth, a dynamite performer who I had seen at the Bowl just last summer.  Kristin is one of those rare entertainers who is a five tool player.  She can do it all.  The Yasiel Puig of Broadway. 
So, in one evening, we have bounced from Latin to classical to 80s hair to Broadway and the results were dynamic.  It was as eclectic as an old episode of the Ed Sullivan Show where you would ping pong from Alan King to Kate Smith to Jim Morrison and the Doors.  Nothing really fit.  But, in reality, everything came together perfectly.

I was smiling throughout.  Totally engaged all over again by the possibilities offered by the best outdoor concert venue in America.

I went down the stairs and the hill afterwards.  My knees were doing fine.  There was a song in my head.  It was the encore number done by Chenoweth, Belinda Carlisle and the Pink Martini girl singer.  "I Got Rhythm,"

I was feeling good being back at the Bowl.  

"Who could ask for anything more?"

Dinner last night:  BBQ chicken tenders and salad.





Monday, June 23, 2014

Monday Morning Video Laugh - June 23, 2014

A wonderful scene from the unforgettable "Honeymooners."

Dinner last night:  Chicken and apple sausage, red cabbage, and baby carrots with brown sugar glaze.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Sunday Memory Drawer - The Last Day of School and the First Days of Summer

Around this date every year decades ago, we'd arrive at a much desired destination. 

The last day of school.

This is a recent photo of my beloved elementary school.  Grimes on Eleventh Avenue and Second Street in Mount Vernon, New York.  The building above was the new additional wing when we were going there.  In 2014, it looks like Berlin 1946.  But, then again, so does everything in economic-war-torn Mount Vernon.

But I digress. 

You awaited this special June day for week.  Indeed, when the school would send you home with the school calendar for the year in September, you would immediately skip right through to the last page.   What was officially the last day of school?

Learning usually stopped in early June.  You were being prepared for those pesky final exams.  Or as grueling as that could possibly be in the fourth or fifth grade. 

With tests out of the way, the last week of school seemed to take forever.  There was a lot of goofing off.  I even think there were some half-days as we were being emotionally and psychologically prepared for the annual separation of teacher and student. 

The very last day was almost always a Friday.  And you basically went in for a whole half-hour.  You were told that you were being promoted.  Duh.  Of course, there were probably some who weren't, but I made it a habit to be good friends with only the smart kids.  Oh, and here's your report card.  The teacher would say it was a pleasure to know you and out the door you went. 

Okay, maybe it was just 25 minutes.

You'd scamper down the stairs because your mother or father was still there waiting for you.  They hadn't even bothered to go home.  Our personal tradition was then for my mom and me to go have breakfast at Stanley's Restaurant with another set or two of pupil and parent.

It was a glorious day with the expectation of two fun months coming up. 

Of course, on the walk home, I would hear the sentence that would be repeated several more times before we hit September.

"Don't think you're gonna hang around the house all day and watch television."

Oh.  And why not?

I wasn't sure what my folks expected me to do at the age of ten or eleven.  I was too old to be supervised and way too young for a summer job.  And, oh yeah, I had already been studying the TV Guide for the past two months to scope out and schedule my daytime summer viewing. 

With both my parents now working nights, I was going to presented with chores.  So, yes, I guess it was a summer job.  With the parental units as resident straw bosses.

"Go mow the back yard."

I would start the process.   My grandmother would watch me from her kitchen window.

"You're just making a mess.  Go in the house and watch television."

Okay, I gladly accept this mixed message.  It's time for Dick Van Dyke reruns anyway.

"Go clean out your bedroom closet."

This, of course, presented me with tons of distractions.   I'd invariably find a long forgotten toy and the nostalgia kept me occupied for hours while the rest of my closet was piled precariously on my bed.

"Look at the mess you made.  Go watch television."

Yes, Mom.  And it's time for Paul Lynde and the Hollywood Squares.

"Go to the grocery store and pick up what's on this list."

I'd survey the items.  There's be four packs of cigarettes for Mom and two six-packs of Schaefer Beer for Dad.  I'd present to Gene the local grocer.

"You know, I probably shouldn't sell you the beer and cigarettes."

He'd, of course, say that as he handed me the brown paper bag of groceries.  Replete with smokes and drinks.  This was my favorite errand to do and I could be home in ten minutes, which was ideal.  After all, Gene Rayburn and the Match Game were coming on.

On summer Thursdays, I also got to participate with my dad in the weekly assignment of taking my grandmother to the A & P.  For a while, we used the supermarket on Oak Street.  When that closed, Grandma's selection of a new supermarket was akin to deciding which day the Allied Forces should land on Normandy Beach.  My father suggested a new venue.  A Waldbaum's in downtown Mount Vernon.

"Waldbaum's?  That's only for Jews."

No, seriously, Grandma, anybody can go in there.  They don't necessarily check your religious denomination on the way in.  Eventually, she bought in and actually liked the then-fancy new surroundings.  My job was to push the basket as she selected the very same items week to week.  Each food product came with a price check.

"You see this Oscar Meyer's bologna?  Last week, it cost $ 2.59.  This week, it went to $ 2.65." 

This was my grandmother and her take on economics.  She couldn't read, but she sure could keep track of the week-to-week price increases on cold cuts.  I'd be amazed at how she could do this.

"You see this Welch's grape jelly?  Last week, it cost $1.19.  This week, it's 1.29."

Yeah, but you're getting a free Flintstones drinking glass in the deal.  She'd wave off my attempts at an explanation.

We'd come home after taking two hours to do an hour's worth of supermarket shopping.  Just in time for Grandma's afternoon stories.  I'd sit and watch Another World with her.  Complete with her commentary on every character.  She caught me up on the last year's misdeeds in Soap Opera Land.

"This guy is a crook.  He stole somebody's money."

"I don't like her.  She's a show off."

"This one's a real tramp."

Eventually, my summer world evolved into more fun, fun, fun till your daddy took your T-Bird away.  The chores tapered off.  The reminders that I wasn't going to be parked in front of the TV all summer subsided. 

I was always allowed to be a kid.  And some of those summers on 15th Avenue gave me memories that I'll never forget.  At least until when I share them here.

Dinner last night:  Sausage and onions and peppers at the Hollywood Bowl.

  

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Classic TV Theme of the Month - June 2014

I remember this show.   The answer to the question is....nothing.

Dinner last night:  Mongolian beef from Mandarin Dragon.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Everybody Hates a June Bride

Udderly wrong.
She thinks this is the dark side.   Wait till she meets her in-laws.
Just what you want on your tuxedo...dove shit.
 I have no clue what is happening here, so feel free to make up your own back story.
Nice pear.
This wine needs to breathe a little longer.
 There are some who shouldn't announce their wedding in the newspapers.
"Honey, you see what those cows are doing?......"
 Another reason not to get married in China.
"My wife is a real piece of cake."

Dinner last night:  Ham and cheese omelet.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Jaws

No, gang, this isn't a vintage movie review.  Hardly.   This is going to be all about getting old.  And the ailments that we are bestowed.

I guess that, as the years creep up, we all wind up with something chronic.  Not the fatal kind.  But, somewhere in the annals of fate, we're all destined to be bothered by some part or another part of our bodies.

Hey, I thought I knew mine.  Rotten knees.  Ten years ago, I would have added perpetually challenged sinus cavities to my list.  But, a daily nasal wash has made sinus infections for me rarer than a Republican going to Thanksgiving dinner at Nancy Pelosi's house. 

But, of late, I've developed another issue.  And I realize one more time that even daily maintenance and a physical trainer can't stop the inevitable.

Yes, I now have jaw issues.

Several years ago, if you had the misfortune of having dinner with me, you could count the number of times I chewed my food.  That's because the process itself was quite audible on the left side of my face.  Click, click, chew, click, chew, click, click.  I sounded like one of those metronomes on a piano during a ten-year-old's weekly lesson. 

Suddenly, almost over overnight, it stopped.  Now, dinner companions only had my incessant comments to endure over meals. 

But the clicking was replaced by a great deal of pain.  Enough for me to visit my dentist, who had previously told me that I grinded my teeth and prompted a tinge of TMJ.

"Your jaw probably was dislocated when you heard the clicking.  Now it's not."

Good.  How come it hurts when they do that, Doc?

"Your muscles are not used to your jaw being in place.  That's why they're sore."

Oh. 

Enter a physical therapist who gave me exercises for my jaw.  Luckily, none of them involved doing pull-ups with my teeth.  Enter my personal trainer Christina who gave me a meat tenderizer-like device that I used to massage those pesky muscles.

About three months ago, my left jaw was almost completely comfortable. 

And, then.....

I got a case of bronchitis.  Coughing fits were regularly scheduled for 9PM every evening.  Some spasms were so dramatic that I felt I was tossing out whole body parts.  Cough, cough, hack, hack.  Oh, what's this in my hand?  Why, it's my spleen.

I was in New York when a really violent coughing episode made something go pop.  On the right side of my face.  Yes, my right jaw.  Hmm, that doesn't feel right.

As it turns out, my coughing dislocated what was previously known as my good jaw.  Now I had two bad ones.

I bit down and noticed that my back teeth were no longer aligned from top to bottom.  All that money spent by my parents for orthodontics and this happens. 

I then noted that, with the right side of my mouth not necessarily matched up, it was only natural for the left side to be a bit askew as well.

The real proof was when I put my night guard in that night.  It no longer fit.  You outgrow shirts and pants, not dental apparatus. 

I had Christina look at it all when I was back in Los Angeles.

"Your mouth is broken."

Thank you.  I couldn't tell on my own.  Duh.

Chewing is now a issue.  Anything that opens my mouth wide is a problem.  There goes that Ethel Merman impersonation I have been working on.  Christina has massaged and maneuvered to make it a little better.  But I realize that this, along with the lousy joints holding my legs together, is one of those things I may deal with the rest of my life.  But, then again, don't we all?

Yes, aging sucks.  Chew on that.  I can't.

Dinner last night:  Chicken fried steak, Spanish rice, and salad.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

This Date in History - June 18

One of my regular readers would be very angry if I didn't put Sir Paul McCartney center stage on this, his birthday.

1053:  3,000 HORSEMEN OF NORMAN COUNT HUMPHREY ROUT THE TROOPS OF POPE LEO IX.

Back in the day when Popes rode horses and not bubble-topped jeeps.

1264: THE PARLIAMENT OF IRELAND MEETS AT CASTLEDERMOT IN COUNTY KILDARE.

Right down the road is County Gillespie.

1429:  FRENCH FORCES UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF JOAN OF ARC DEFEAT THE MAIN BRITISH ARMY IN THE HUNDRED YEARS' WAR.

Yeah, she's hot now.   But she'll get even hotter.

1684:  THE CHARTER OF THE MASSACHUSETTS BAY COLONY IS REVOKED VIA SCIRE FACIAS WRIT.

A scire facias what?

1767:  ENGLISH SEA CAPTAIN SAMUEL WALLIS SIGHTS TAHITI AND IS CONSIDERED THE FIRST EUROPEAN TO REACH THE ISLAND.

No dummy is he.

1778:  DURING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, BRITISH TROOPS ABANDON PHILADELPHIA.

What? The Phillies on a losing streak?

1812:  DURING THE WAR OF 1812, THE US CONGRESS DECLARES WAR ON GREAT BRITAIN, CANADA, AND IRELAND.

England and Ireland on the same side?  Who would have thunk?

1858:  CHARLES DARWIN RECEIVES A PAPER FROM ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE THAT INCLUDES NEARLY IDENTICAL CONCLUSIONS ABOUT EVOLUTION AS HIS OWN, PROMPTING DARWIN TO PUBLISH HIS THEORY.

Or else they would have been fighting over Wallace in "Inherit the Wind."

1873:  SUSAN B. ANTHONY IS FINED $100 FOR ATTEMPTING TO VOTE.

These days, they should pay me $100 to vote.

1900:  EMPRESS DOWAGER LONGYU OF CHINA ORDERS ALL FOREIGNERS KILLED.

Anybody who walks in Times Square and down Hollywood Boulevard during the summer knows the feeling.

1904:  ACTOR KEYE LUKE IS BORN.

Number One Son!

1908:  TV HOST BUD COLLYER IS BORN.

His mother thought he would be born on June 19, but he beat the clock.

1913:  SONGWRITER SAMMY CAHN IS BORN.

Ain't that a kick in the head.

1917:  ACTOR RICHARD BOONE IS BORN.

Have Birth Canal, Will Travel.

1923:  CHECKER TAXI PUTS ITS FIRST CAB ON THE STREET.

And this is probably the first known employment of an Arab in America.

1928:  AVIATOR AMELIA EARHART BECOMES THE FIRST WOMAN TO FLY IN AN AIRCRAFT ACROSS THE ATLANTIC OCEAN.

This time, she was just a passenger.  Later, she would be a missing pilot.

1936:  BARACK OBAMA SR. IS BORN.

The original deadbeat dad.

1940:  THE "FINEST HOUR" SPEECH BY WINSTON CHURCHILL.

His finest hour, too.

1942:  CRITIC ROGER EBERT IS BORN.

Thumb up.

1942:  BEATLE PAUL MCCARTNEY IS BORN.

Despite a raspy voice and some really bad plastic surgery, people still flock to see him.   Heck, I'm going myself in August.

1945:  LORD HAW-HAW IS CHARGED WITH TREASON FOR HIS PRO-GERMAN PROPAGANDA DURING WORLD WAR II.

The Lord's first name wouldn't happen to be......oh, never mind.

1953:  THE EGYPTIAN REVOLUTION OF 1952 ENDS WITH THE OVERTHROW OF THE MUHAMMAD ALI DYNASTY AND THE DECLARATION OF THE REPUBLIC OF EGYPT.

Is there such a thing as the Cassius Clay Dynasty?

1959:  ACTRESS ETHEL BARRYMORE DIES.

There were like two dozen of these acting Barrymores.

1965:  DURING THE VIETNAM WAR, THE US USES B-52 BOMBERS TO ATTACK GUERRILLA FIGHTERS IN SOUTH VIET NAM.

Magilla Guerrilla for sale.

1979:  SALT II IS SIGNED BY THE UNITED STATES AND THE SOVIET UNION.

Right now, it's hard to find SALT on a restaurant table in NY.

1983:  ASTRONAUT SALLY RIDE BECOMES THE FIRST AMERICAN WOMAN IN SPACE.

And what a ride she had.

1996:  TED KACZYNSKI, SUSPECTED OF BEING THE UNABOMBER, IS INDICTED ON TEN CRIMINAL COUNTS.

Make it an even dozen.

2000;  ACTRESS NANCY MARCHAND DIES.

Terrific as Livia Soprano and Mrs. Pynchon.

2002:  SPORTSCASTER JACK BUCK DIES.

Buck.  Passed.

2003:  BASEBALL STAR LARRY DOBY DIES.

Doby doby die.

2011:  MUSICIAN CLARENCE CLEMONS DIES.

There goes alimony payments for about ten or twelve ex-wives.

Dinner last night:  Leftover spaghetti and meatballs.






 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Yay! I Finished Another Book - "Forever Blue" by Michael D'Antonio

Gee, I haven't done one of these blog book reports in a while.   But, the sad state of affairs is very simple.

I read when I fly.  If I don't fly, I don't read.  I wish this wasn't the case, but it/

So, I recently flew.  And I read.   I am certainly glad I had.

Truth be told, "Forever Blue" has been sitting on my book shelf since 2009 when it first came out in hard cover.  The photo above is of the paperback edition.  It took me five years to get to it.  And the main reason I tackled it now is because I am trying to bone up on Dodger history for business purposes.   Hopefully, I will explain that some day very soon. 

Putting all the apologies aside, "Forever Blue" by Michael D'Antonio is terrific.  You must be a good baseball book if you actually can teach yours truly a few things.  Yes, I was pleasantly surprised by some of the factoids I gleaned from this work, which is essentially a history of the O'Malley family who owned the Brooklyn Dodgers and later moved them to Los Angeles.

Mention the latter to anybody from Brooklyn and the venom pours out against Walter O'Malley.  There's the famous gag.  You have a gun with two bullets and you're in a room with Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, and Walter O'Malley.  Who do you shoot?

Answer from a Brookynite:  You shoot O'Malley twice.

Forget the fact that Brooklyn in the 50s was dying.  Ignore the notion that Ebbets Field was falling apart by the concrete junk.  Discount the news that most of the Dodger fans were fleeing the borough themselves for the safer and---yes, gang---whiter environs of Long Island.  Nope, O'Malley left Brooklyn for Los Angeles and that's akin to drowning a dozen puppies.

D'Antonio does a top notch job of providing an unbiased and fair account of the Walter O'Malley era with the Dodger franchise.  You get the good.  You get the bad.  You see the rainbows.  You see the warts.  Like it or not, the man himself was a visionary.  After all, he wanted to erect a new Ebbets Field at a spot where Brooklyn has finally turned the corner in 2014.  It's the location of the new Barclay Center and, years later, we see that O'Malley was right all along. 

Indeed, "Forever Blue", while dealing with baseball, is not a game-by-game account of the Dodgers.  It delves more into the inner workings of a baseball organization.  The stadium maintenance.  The TV and radio rights.  The marketing of a brand.  Things I wanted to know right now.   And got it all, thanks to Michael D'Antonio.

And, oh, yes, the aforementioned things I never knew?

I never realized that, back in the late 40s and 50s, a partial owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers was Pfizer Pharmaceuticals which was based in Brooklyn at the time.

When Walter O'Malley was looking for a new partial owner, he almost closed a deal with...of all people...Joseph Kennedy.  Had that happened, Papa would have installed his son Jack as president of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  That astounded me.  And, had it actually come to pass, that might have been the type of presidency role that doesn't put you in a limousine cruising downtown Dallas.

D'Antonio is also bold enough to give us an accurate description of Jackie Robinson.  PS, he wasn't necessarily the beloved icon that has been depicted over the years.  As the years wore on with the Dodgers, Jackie was a bit of a dirtbag.  Surly and not necessarily the ideal teammate.  So, there.

If you want to experience a great history set in the baseball world, "Forever Blue" is ideal.  Had I only known what a great read it was when I originally bought it five years.

Dinner last night:  Beef and vegetable stir fry.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Monday Morning Video Laugh - June 16, 2014

I love Sweet Brown.

Dinner last night: Spaghetti and meatballs.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Sunday Memory Drawer - A Man of Few Words

It's Father's Day and here we go again.   The memories of my father come to the forefront one more time.  I could talk for hours about him.

Except he never said much himself.

This was never more evident than in the later years.   My dad's birthday was June 20, so it often coincided with Father's Day.   He would like it when I took him out to eat at the Victoria Station on Tuckahoe Road in Yonkers. 

Except we didn't really talk much over dinner.  Not that we were mad at each other or anything.  Indeed, at this restaurant, it didn't really matter.  Because my father was mesmerized by a salad bar.  Apparently, he had never seen them before.  This was all you can eat and my dad sure did.

"Beet salad.  I haven't had this since I used to get it at the deli on 238th Street."

"This cole slaw tastes like the one you would get at the deli near Scott's Bridge." 

"Artichoke hearts.  I didn't know they made these any more."

I realized that my dad was in heaven at this advanced age because he was reliving meals of the past.  The trips to the Bronx delicatessens.  My father would go there every Saturday morning to stock up for the week.  I understood.  These days myself, I crave tastes and treats from my youth.

I guess the best way to describe my dad was that he wasn't verbally demonstrative.  He conveyed more with a look than with his words.  I got plenty of looks, trust me.  And the few words I got needed to be listened to.

From time to time when I was a kid, my father would pull me out into the driveway.  He had the two baseball gloves in our house.  It was time for a good old fashioned catch.  He would stand at the end by the street.   Otherwise, I'd be running out into traffic to get all the balls I would miss. 

Dad would toss the ball to me.   I was still pretty uneasy with this game.   I'd steady myself and, instead of letting the ball come to me, I would throw my hand at it.  It would always bounce away.

"Two hands!  Two hands!"

Words that still play in my head.  And rare coming from my father.

If I looked out the window on a summer's afternoon to see my dad washing the windshield of whatever Buick we had at the time, I knew that meant only one thing.

We were going up to the Elmsford Drive-In Theater that night.

My father didn't have to say a word. 

Given my dad's limited use of dialogue, I often wondered just what the hell he and my mother ever talked about.   When they were dating, what were those conversations like?   Or, did my mom talk the blue streak and never noticed that my father was even part of the evening?

When I was around ten, I uncovered their secret.  Both were working at nights at the time.  I was shepherded by my grandparents.  Mom and Dad would come home at midnight.  One night, I woke up and saw a light in the kitchen down the hall.  They were catching up on their days over a glass of milk.  And my father was doing a lot of the conversing.

So, as I crept back to bed, I realized that it was possible.  The man did have something to say.  It wasn't just a series of stern looks that signaled to me that I better not do that again.

My father rarely showed any emotion.  There were a few moments of anger when I must have done something the second time after being told I better not do that again.  I only saw him tear up twice.  Once was when he came home early from work the day my grandfather died.   He walked into Grandma's kitchen with all of us gathered around the table.  He broke down and bolted from the room.

The second time was a bit more obscure.   We were on a Sunday drive.  Just me and my father.   And, for some bizarre reason, we were motoring down the West Side Highway.   News came over the radio.  General Douglas MacArthur had died.   I looked over at my father and was astonished to see tears streaming down his face. 

"My boss died."

I guess that's the way an Army guy would see it.

I did see laughter.   I remember him howling out loud when he took me to see the movie "Operation Petticoat."   On television, he loved Jackie Gleason and the Fred Mertz character.   Later on, I can recall the rare occasion of both my parents laughing together as they watched "All in the Family."

Of course, I would learn later that my father's true emotions did appear from time to time.  His brother, my namesake, had been killed in the waning days of the Second World War in Europe.  At the time, he had been engaged to a girl named Stella.  Several years later, Stella married someone else.   And my entire family was invited to the reception.  Stella would tell me this story after my father died.

At the reception, my father came over to Stella and was, according to her, sobbing. 

"This is such a nice wedding.  We really wanted you in our family."

Rare words from my dad.  But, oh, so poignant.

Indeed, he did have something to say.

Me?  I got words of wisdom as I grew up.   For instance, if we were at a baseball game....

"Don't buy a soda from the vendor if it's the last one in his tray."

Oh.  About ten years later, when I was a vendor at Yankee Stadium desperately trying to sell that one last soda, my dad's words ping ponged around my noggin again.

"If your car is more than five years old, drop the collision."

Oh.  I remember my father telling everybody that as I was growing up.  As if it was his signature advice.  Of course, when my very first car, that Toyota Corolla, hit the five year mark, I didn't wait for my dad's voice.  I dropped the freakin' collision.

"Don't buy a roll after 3PM."

I have no clue whether my father had scientific knowledge of how fresh or stale a roll had become late in the afternoon.   But this was his mantra every time we visited a bakery.

"At the end of every traffic jam is a cop."

I hear that declaration to this very day.   And, as I drive around either Los Angeles or New York, it's always proven to be the case.

With so few words, I never ever doubted that my father cared for me.  None is more evident by the wordless act that he exhibited when I became a New York Met fan.  Three times a year, we would drive out to Shea Stadium for a game together and I would be in my young, giddy glory.  Several years later, it was my mother who shared the sacrifice being made.

"You know, your father was a big Yankee fan all his life.  But he stopped to become a Met fan because you were."

And he rooted for the Mets the rest of his life. 

Those are the little things a father does.  Without attention.  Sans fanfare.  Uttering nary a word.

I think about this today.  Those car rides to Flushing.  We'd say little.  The car radio was on and, with my dad driving, it was always WNEW 1130.  Middle of the road.  On one of those treks, a song came on and this always reminds me of my dad.  Whenever I hear it now, I can see the stadium, replete with those blue and orange aluminum plates, looming up in front of me.  The vinyl of the Buick passenger seat sticking to the back of my legs.  Dad saying nothing.


I hear this tune again and every sensation and every nuance comes back to me.

I never had kids.   I wonder what kind of father I would have been.  I've been a great godfather, pseudo uncle, and a surrogate, but never a real dad.   I can only imagine the real sensation.

You learn your parental skills from how you were treated.   It's a family heirloom being passed down from generation to generation.  I think about this relationship that never happened.  Would I talk more with my son? 

Regardless of what traits I would pick up and discard, I think I would have made a good father.  I had a good one myself.

So, on this Father's Day afternoon with my dad gone for over two decades and his birthday again just around the corner, I'll be at my Dodger Stadium seats.  My father will be next to me.   How will I know?

When Yasiel Puig goes to catch a fly ball, I will yell out.

"Two hands!  Two hands!!"

Dinner last night:  Pepperoni pizza.