Tuesday, September 30, 2014

If I Tweeted - September 2014

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

#LenSpeaks   Don't you want to know the real story why Jerry Lewis no longer does a Labor Day telethon?

#LenSpeaks   Did he piss off one of those kids?  Or got caught with his hand in the till?  Where is Rona Barrett when you need her?

#LenSpeaks  When I was a kid, I thought Labor Day was a holiday to honor pregnant women.

#LenSpeaks  More heads come off in the Middle East.  That's got to be a killer for hat sales.

#LenSpeaks  Remember when Isis was a Saturday morning comic book hero?

#LenSpeaks  For my money, the entire Middle East should be leveled and used as a parking lot for Rome.

#LenSpeaks  Hmm, I wonder if those dirtbags can monitor this blog.  Hey, who are you and what's that pointy object next to my throat?

#LenSpeaks  It's been reported that 10% of all Americans come to work high.  I think that estimate is low.

#LenSpeaks   I'm also convinced that a lot of our business world right now is run by undiagnosed cases of attention deficit disorders.

#LenSpeaks  And that includes most of the top levels of the Federal Government.  Except for Joe Biden who pays attention to nothing.

#LenSpeaks  I ran into the Miss America contest and it's back in Atlantic City.

#LenSpeaks   I remember watching this as a kid and picking out my choice to win. 

#LenSpeaks  And then seeing my pick bomb during the talent competition by demonstrating the correct way to pack clothes in a suitcase.

#LenSpeaks  Try and find a movie to see this weekend.  I dare you.

#LenSpeaks  Hollywood had a lackluster summer at the box office.  They're trying to figure out why.

#LenSpeaks  Raising my hand.  BAD MOVIES!!

#LenSpeaks  Joan Rivers' joke files may go to the Smithsonian.  So, people can see on display a line like...

#LenSpeaks  "I got an obscene phone call.  I told him, 'Hang on, I have something on the stove.'"

#LenSpeaks  And..."I took Elizabeth Taylor to Sea World to see Shamu the Whale.  Liz asked if that came with vegetables."

#LenSpeaks   Joan is being acknowledged now as a genius.  Something I knew 25 years ago.

#LenSpeaks  For my money, Justin Turner is one of the top three MVPs on the Dodger team this year.

#LenSpeaks  And is it me or does Hunter Pence look like a mental patient?

#LenSpeaks  Great line by Vin Scully in a game where Kershaw was sweating like crazy: "He looks like he just got off a raft."

#Len Speaks  Met and Yankee announcers are selling season ticket plans in 2015.  Meanwhile, the Dodgers now have a season ticket wait list.

#LenSpeaks  The Dodgers clinched the Western division on the same date the Mets clinched in 1969.  I'm just sayin'.

#LenSpeaks  Derek Jeter is retiring?  I guess I've missed practically everything.

#LenSpeaks  Such overkill.  I think Michael Kay will still be talking about Jeter on Christmas morning.

#LenSpeaks  I'm wondering which Yankee goes on their farewell tour in 2015.  Smart money's on Francisco Cervelli.

#LenSpeaks   Every time Jeter refers to Joe Torre, he calls him "Mr. T."  I thought that was Pat Morita.

#LenSpeaks  By the way, there are other baseball retirees this season.  How about Paul Konerko and Bobby Abreu?

#LenSpeaks   Lord, Chelsea Clinton is ugly.

#LenSpeaks  She just had a baby girl and people are wondering about how good will Bill and Hillary be as grandparents.

#LenSpeaks   Clinton grandchild in ten years:  "How come Grandma and Grandpa don't sleep in the same bed?"

#LenSpeaks  I'd be more concerned about the paternal grandfather.  A crooked politician who spent several years in jail and still owes millions of dollars in fines.

Dinner last night:  Tortellini and meatballs.









Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday Morning Video Laugh - September 29, 2014

Always listen to the home shopping host.

Dinner last night:  Chinese chicken chopped salad.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Sunday Memory Drawer - The Other Side of My Family

Unfortunately, this Memory Drawer is empty.  And the fact that it prompts, of all things, some memories.

Confused?

The stream of consciousness started to flow very simply this week.  I was watching the season finale of TNT's "Dallas."  I will issue now a spoiler alert for those of you who may be fans and have DVRed this episode.  Do not read the next line.

We learn that J.R. Ewing had a daughter.   And that John Ross Ewing, his son, is now aware that, somewhere in the world, he has a sister.

To find such close relatives at such a point in your life.  How unsettling, miraculous, and fun that can be simultaneously. 

I thought about it all.  Indeed, if you are regular visitors to this on-line nonsense, you've heard a lot of tales about my family as I grew up.  My paternal grandparents who owned the house that my parents and I lived in.  You've seen a lot of old photos of my family's holiday gatherings.  There have been no mysteries.  My life has been an open blog.

Alas, amidst all those Technicolor photos, you have seen very little evidence or information about the other side of the family.  My mom's.   Hence, the empty picture frame that adorns the top of today's entry.

There are no pictures because I never saw any.   I'm not sure if my mom even had photos of her parents.  If she did, they might have been stored way back in her own memory drawer.

I know this.   My mom and her older sister were born in New York City.  Depending upon how she felt on a given day, the actual year of birth would change by one or two.  Their parents were named John and Esther.  As the slim story goes, they both got sick with influenza about that time in our history when such an ailment was a fatal disease.  Allegedly, they died practically in succession.  One apparently got sick and then gave it to the other.  And out.  My mom was about ten.  Her sister was about twelve.

I know they both wound up in the Leake and Watts orphanage that I still believe exists in Yonkers, New York.  As a matter of fact, my mom had to contact them for some records when she was filing some official documents when she retired.  She was on their mailing list.  How long were she and my aunt there?  No clue. 

When the inquisitive me asked questions about any of this, my mom's standard response was sort of like a press representative for a politician.

"I have no information at this time."

Or something like that.

Do you have any photos? 

"No."

What did they do for a living?

"I was too young."

Were there any other relatives?

"I don't think so."

Hmmm.  I don't think so.

Back when I was a kid, there was a common resource when you wanted information from one parent.  You asked the other one.

Dad was no help.

"Your mother doesn't want to talk about any of that."

Okay, so that means he asked the question, too.

Opening the curtain on our lives even further, I can tell you that, in later years, both my mother and my aunt had...well...a love of beer.  I wouldn't say they were out-and-out alcoholics but there were frequent evenings with multiple buzzes going.  If we went to visit my aunt and her family out on Long Island, both women were fairly fuzzy within the first two hours. 

Hmmm.  What is behind that?

I never knew it.  And was only left to purely speculate.

Years later, I tried to broach the issue again coming at it from my status as a full-grown adult.  Not long before she passed away, my mom got the question again.

"It was complicated."

Today that's why people use on Facebook to describe their relationship status.  Back then, it was my family's way of avoiding a question and/or an issue.

So, now you know why my mind was working overtime in the middle of the Dallas season finale.   John Ross has a sister. 

Are there any relatives I am missing?  Did John and Esther have brothers and sisters?   This would have given my mother and my aunt cousins.  Maybe it gives me second and third cousins removed.  A whole extended family.   I mean, my maternal grandparents weren't aliens from outer space who just showed up on Planet Earth.

I've thought about that Ancestry.com program.  I went into it for a trial.   I was immediately asked questions for more information.   I suddenly turned into my parents.

I don't know.

And likely never will.

Dinner last night:  Roast bee french dip panini at the Arclight.



Saturday, September 27, 2014

Classic TV Theme of the Month - September 2014

Perhaps the most infectious TV theme ever.  And, damn, those opening credits run over a minute and a half!

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

Friday, September 26, 2014

Remember Vinyl Record Album Covers?

I sure hope you don't remember these.
Who?
And...who?
Somebody needs to send the name of this album back to the Marketing Department.
And her phone number is?
I guess not all of them love hydrants.
This is after Geraldine broke up with Jerry Mahoney.
 ...and then I called my lawyer.
She comes with strings attached.
"You see how this record has a hole in the middle?"
And, inexplicably, the back of the album has all the lyrics for a sing-along.
"You think these are blue?  Wait till I show you the veins in my leg."

Dinner last night:  Leftover sausage and salad.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

We're Going Paperless!!!

Woo hoo!

We hear this all the time in our carbon footprint worlds.   We're doing our part to reduce paper.  We're going to make a dent in the forest.  We are saving trees for our children and our grandchildren.

Meanwhile, I have never been more inundated with paper.

Look at your daily mail.  How much of it goes right down the garbage chute?  The paper-wasting envelopes and pamphlets from Capital One alone can account for two Redwoods.  I even tried to stop them by sending the junk back by saying that I wouldn't consider their services until they dropped the bloated Alec Baldwin as their spokesperson.  Well, they switched to Jennifer Garner.  Now I simply shred the stuff.

Look at your Sunday newspaper.  Try and lift it.  It is loaded down with store flyers and coupons.  Oh, wow, 35 cents off for Heinz Ketchup.  Snip, snip, snip.  More paper being abused.  You look at the front page of the Los Angeles Times.  It's got a story about our vanishing wilderness.  I know where it went.  To make the circular from Best Buy.

You see the craziness I am talking about?   I actually got a solicitation letter from an ecology group.  The envelope was filled with so much paper.  They mention that they used exclusively recycled paper.  Uh-huh.  Prove it.

Now my favorite baseball team is paperless.   They went through this process for the first time in 2014.   No more tickets in the mail.  No more waiting for my season ticket package to be delivered by FedEx.  Now they are provided on a website.  You can download the tickets to your phone, but that doesn't work for yours truly.  I sell off half the season.  So, I wound up printing the entire season. 

Three pieces of paper per game.  Two tickets plus the parking pass.

82 dates counting an exhibition.

246 different sheets of white paper.

Add in the postseason which I just printed. 

9 dates.

27 more different sheets of white paper.

My ball team has cleaned up their carbon footprint.  And sprained mine.

The act of conservation is clearly misguided here in America.  We're trying to embrace trees.   And yet killing them so they can tell us they're embracing trees.

I crumple everything these days.   And I am proud to do so. 

Dinner last night:  Chicken sausage and salad.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

This Date in History - September 24

Happy birthday, 60 Minutes.  It keeps on ticking.

15:  ROMAN EMPEROR VITELLIUS IS BORN.

That greasy kid stuff?

1180:  MANUEL I KOMNENOS, LAST EMPEROR OF THE KOMNENIAN RESTORATION, DIES.  THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE SLIPS INTO TERMINAL DECLINE.

Just like everybody eventually.  Look at where America has fallen in 2014.

1664:  THE DUTCH REPUBLIC SURRENDERS NEW AMSTERDAM TO ENGLAND.

Who got Old Amsterdam?

1780:  BENEDICT ARNOLD FLEES TO BRITISH ARMY LINES WHEN THE ARREST OF BRITISH MAJOR JOHN ANDRE EXPOSES ARNOLD'S PLOT TO SURRENDER WEST POINT.

Oh, he's such a Benedict Arnold.

1789:  THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS PASSES THE JUDICIARY ACT WHICH CREATES THE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL AND ORDERS THE COMPOSITION OF THE SUPREME COURT.

Still a waste to this day.

1841:  THE SULTAN OF BRUNEI CEDES SARAWAK TO THE UNITED KINGDOM.

Sarawak sounds like a lefty-hitting outfielder for the Milwaukee Braves.

1846:  DURING THE MEXICAN-AMERICAN WAR, GENERAL ZACHARY TAYLOR CAPTURES MONTERREY.

You mean Mexicans and Americans aren't still at war??

1853:  ADMIRAL DESPOINTES FORMALLY TAKES POSSESSION OF NEW CALEDONIA IN THE NAME OF FRANCE.

But what about Old Caledonia??

1869:  GOLD PRICES PLUMMET AFTER ULYSSES S. GRANT ORDERS THE TREASURY TO SELL LARGE QUANTITIES OF GOLD AFTER JAY GOULD AND JAMES FISK PLOT TO CONTROL THE MARKET.

The earliest version of the evil 1%.

1890:  THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS OFFICIALLY RENOUNCES POLYGAMY.

Sorry, Wives #2 through 6.

1896:  AUTHOR F. SCOTT FITZGERALD IS BORN.

He's buying first round.

1921:  SPORTSCASTER JIM MCKAY IS BORN.

He died in 2008.  He was gone.  He was all gone.

1921:  ACTRESS SHEILA MACRAE IS BORN.

Still not Alice Kramden.

1931:  SINGER ANTHONY NEWLEY IS BORN.

Stop the world.  He wants to get on.

1932:  GANDHI AND DR. B.R. AMBEDKAR AGREE TO THE POONA PACT, WHICH RESERVES SEATS IN THE INDIAN LEGISLATURE FOR THE DEPRESSED CLASSES.

Of which, in India, there are many.

1935:  EARL BASCOM AND WELDON BASCOM PRODUCE THE FIRST RODEO EVER HELD OUTDOORS UNDER ELECTRIC LIGHTS IN MISSISSIPPI.

Yee-ha.

1936:  PUPPETEER JIM HENSON IS BORN.

And, hence, it's also the birth date of Kermit.

1946:  CLARK CLIFFORD AND GEORGE ELSEY, MILITARY ADVISERS TO U.S. PRESIDENT HARRY S. TRUMAN, PRESENT WITH A TOP SECRET REPORT ON THE SOVIET UNION.

If this happened today, it would be leaked on Entertainment Tonight.

1948:  THE HONDA MOTOR COMPANY IS FOUNDED.

So how come I never heard of them until the 80s?

1948:  ACTOR PHIL HARTMAN IS BORN.

I was three blocks away from where he was shot and killed in 1998.

1957:  PRESIDENT DWIGHT EISENHOWER SENDS TROOPS TO LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS, TO ENFORCE DESEGREGATION.

So he didn't just golf?

1962:  UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS ORDERS THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI TO ADMIT JAMES MEREDITH.

My father was the one who allowed me to go to Fordham.

1968:  60 MINUTES DEBUTS ON CBS.

Hi, I'm Morley Safer...

1969:  THE NEW YORK METS WIN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE EASTERN DIVISION TITLE.

"At 9:07......."

1979:  COMPUSERVE LAUNCHES THE FIRST CONSUMER INTERNET SERVICE AND THE FIRST E-MAIL SERVICE.

So what was the very first spam?

1991:  AUTHOR DR. SEUSS DIES.

The Cat in the Casket.

2005:  HURRICANE RITA MAKES LANDFALL IN THE UNITED STATES.

And creates lots of landfill.

Dinner last night:  Leftover London broil and vegetables.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Learning Never Stops

It's amazing how much history happened around me during my life and I missed it.  Too busy playing with friends or watching the Mets or staying up late for Johnny Carson.  Thank God for documentaries like "Last Days in Vietnam" to bring me up-to-date on the past.

Okay, I remember the Vietnam War.  Sort of.   I know we didn't belong there and it was the subject of lots and lots of discord in this country.  Every Thursday on the Channel 5 10 O'Clock News, there would be a somber roll call listing the New York casualties in Nam the previous week.  And, of course, I knew there were a lot of soldiers there because Bob Hope and Joey Heatherton went to see them every Christmas.

I knew little about the battles and then I remember it was over.  Just like that.  There were peace talks.  They agreed.  End of war.

This film shows that it wasn't that simple.   And, indeed, the tale unspools in a compelling and fascinating way.  If only my history classes had been like that.

"Last Days in Vietnam" is the work of filmmaker Rory Kennedy, daughter of Bobby.  As a matter of fact, she's the baby who was in Ethel's womb the night her father was killed in the Ambassador Hotel.  A child who never met her dad.  Also, she's the one who was getting married at Hyannis Port the weekend John Jr. flew himself into the drink.  So, Rory's been exposed to a bit of history.   But, it's the history she tells in this movie that really earns her some kudos as an expert documentarian.

Back in 1973, the Saigon Peace Talks were signed and there was to be a ceasefire between Communist North Vietnam and the south.  In return for this ceasefire, American troops were to vacate.   We held up our end of the bargain.

But, in 1974, Nixon left office due to Watergate and the Vietcong were no longer scared.   They started fighting again and essentially marched like cockroaches right down to Saigon.  So much for the agreement.   By April, 1975, they were just outside the southern capital and ready to pounce.  This film tells the story about that last, arduous month.

In Saigon, there was still an American Embassy.   There were close to 5,000 Americans still in the country.   They had to get out quickly.  But, then again, so did the Vietnamese refugees.   And, in many cases, the Americans had hooked up with the locals in both business ventures and marriage.   Before you know it, there had to be an evacuation within 24 hours of about 77,000 people.  Helicopters were to transport them, 40 or 50 at a time, to ships out in the Pacific.  If this all sounds nice and organized, it wasn't.   There were only plans to get out about 5,000.  Yet, so many more went.

This movie tells that story in a very detailed, minute-by-minute account from the eyes of the Americans and South Vietnamese who were there.   The Kennedy name on the director opens up access to everybody from Henry Kissinger on down.  And, to the credit of Kennedy, there is no political bias delivered here.  If Rory has an opinion on the inept operation and evacuation, you don't hear it.  And, in my book, that's the mark of a great documentary.

"Last Days in Vietnam" is worth your time, whether you remember the war or not.  Or, even if, as I did, you sleepwalked through it.

LEN'S RATING:  Three and a half stars.

Dinner last night:  Super Dodger Dog at the game.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday Morning Video Laugh - September 22, 2014

Does anybody miss SCTV as much as I do?

Dinner last night:  London broil, noodles, and mixed vegetables.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Grandma and the Roosevelts

This week, PBS ran a well-done series on the Roosevelt family.  With the incredibly overrated documentary filmmaker Ken Burns at the helm, this had all the potential of being a big bust and a major waste of time.   After all, PBS ran all fourteen hours over seven consecutive nights.  Once I got hooked, there was no way you could come up for air.  And the pace of it all was exhausting.  PBS would have been much smarter letting this play out over two or three weeks.

But, it's the Roosevelt family and good friends know that I'm a sucker for their roles in our American history.  For about five Christmases, this subject was the go-to gift for anybody buying me a book for a holiday gift.  And I have read about a dozen of them.  Admittedly, I didn't know that much about Teddy, but this series got me ramped up on him and I now believe he was the greatest Roosevelt of them all. 

Meanwhile, my focus has always been Franklin and Eleanor and that's where this documentary series got a little muddled.  The script was written by veteran historian Geoffrey C. Ward and he has a virtual bromance with FDR.  His contributions to the documentary are veritable love letters and that's not accurate since, in my humble opinion, Franklin was both a flawed President and human being.  I mean, the guy literally starts to weep on camera when he talks about FDR being stricken with polio.  Come on, dude. 

Of course, as last week unfolded, I was once again inundated with all things Roosevelt and this, in turn, opened up my Sunday Memory Drawer one more time.  Indeed, the mere existence of this weekly blog feature might have direct lines to the Roosevelt family itself.

It was on cold Sunday afternoons where my grandmother, in her living room rocking chair, would hold court.  I'd be sprawled out across her slipcovered sofa.  She'd talk and I'd listen.  And learn.  She would talk about things in the past.  Stuff that happened last year.  Or events that were decades away in the past.  I'd hear about relatives I didn't know.  Eras that I didn't live through.  

And, in the case of one President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a national leader that I only knew through history books.   As I would learn repeatedly, this sometime-revered President was hated by my grandmother.

Today, I am fascinated by the World War II days and how America responded to this conflict.  Strange as it may sound, I wanted to experience the days of nighttime blackouts, rationing, and war bonds.  My grandmother took me through this world many times.   And always came back to Roosevelt.  With the same comments repeated over and over.

"He was a swindler."

"That wife Eleanor was never home.  She lived in a suitcase,."

"When he stuck that damn cigarette up in those pictures, I just wanted to slap him."

"When he died, he wasn't in that coffin.  Instead they buried all the papers that proved he sold the country out to Japan."

I suppose Grandma was ripe for some fact checking.  But, regardless of the validity, the venom never stopped.

"He used to say 'again and again and again, no boys would set foot on foreign soil.' Two weeks later, we were all at war."

"He was this damn cripple.  What about all the boys who came home with no legs?"

"They say he got us out of depression.  But led us right into war."

It was relentless.  I sort of understood my grandmother's focus on boys going off to battle.   She herself had four sons in the service during World War II.  One, whom I was named after, didn't come back.  He was killed one month after FDR died in April 1945 and two weeks before Germany surrendered.  I thought about the bitterness.  And wondered how my family had come through this tragedy. 

But, of course, it was rarely discussed. 

I asked my father about his mother's deep, dark hatred of the Roosevelts.

"She has her reasons."

I turned to my mother with the same question.

"She has her reasons."

But, at a young age, I didn't ask the source a direct question.  I figured I would get the same, tried-and-true, family response.

"You ask too many questions."

I always did and never got any answers.  Until one Saturday afternoon.   

It was wintery and I was cooped up in the house.  Bored in my room upstairs, I meandered down to my grandmother's place on the first floor.  We retreated to the usual time waster, the black and white TV.  In the days before remote controls, Grandma sat on her little chair in front of the TV and channel surfed.  Back then, you only had about seven or eight to choose from. 

My grandmother stopped on a channel.   They were showing an old newsreel of FDR's funeral.  Grandma stared at it. 

"Look, they even had Fala the dog there at the cemetery."

Indeed, I watched as the cameras showed the President's pooch sniffing around the gravesite.

"I hope he pees on him."

Wow.  I thought that was especially mean.  So, I asked why she hated Roosevelt so much.

There was a pause of thirty seconds which felt like thirty days.  Had I overstepped my bounds as a grandchild?  Her answer was short and succinct.

"He didn't care about any of us."

And that was it.  Years of hatred explained.  Sort of.

I suppose the loss of a child in battle was the main reason for the vitriole.  In her mind, she lost a son because our President had put us in a position of being at war.  It was probably that simple.

But it never, ever stopped.  And, as I have read all those Christmas gifts about the Roosevelt family, I think I have my own, balanced opinion.  Ultimately, I don't believe he was as great a President as loopy historians like Geoffrey C. Ward make him out to be.  There was the deceit and cover-up about his illnesses.  The Depression programs that worked and those that did not.  The failure to act decisively when he became aware of what the Nazis were doing to Jews all over Europe. 

So, as I watched the Ken Burns work this week, I absorbed even more new information to throw into the hard drive of my mind.  But, as I sift through the good and the bad, I keep going back to one woman's hatred of the man.  

And another reminder that, in any family, you need to ask the important questions while you still can.

Dinner last night:   BLT at Blue Plate.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Classic Movie Trailer of the Month - September 2014

One of those war movies that I saw with my dad.
Dinner last night:  Had a late lunch so just a small salad.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Signs You See At The Office

Dinner last night:  Had a late lunch so nothing really.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

TV Has Fall-en...

...and it can't get up.

I've written fondly on a past Sunday about the glory of getting the TV Guide Fall Preview issue every September.  I'd literally camp out at the local candy store waiting for its arrival when I was a kid.  I mean, after all, I had a lot of homework to do.  Going through the pages listing all the new shows.  Which would I sample?   Which ones sounded great?   And how many conflicts would there be with time slots?  Oh, no, I wanted to watch this new show on ABC but it's on the same time as Andy Griffith!

It would be an annual ritual that carried into my youth.

Okay, so flashing forward to 2014, who even buys the damn TV Guide any more?   You get detailed program listings on your screen.  What's the point of spending...gasp...$4.99 every week.   Back when at Bob's Luncheonette, it would cost you a dime and a nickel.

But, this year, I was intrigued to see what TV Guide was doing for a Fall Preview.   And, more importantly, I wanted to discern just how bad television has gotten.   Is there any new TV show worth my time?

Um, no.

As I think about prime time TV on traditional networks (yes, I include cable now), there are less than seven shows that are required viewing in my house.  Two only air for 13 weeks at a time. 

Homeland, coming back in October.

Dallas, going off next Monday.

The Big Bang Theory.

The Middle.

Downton Abbey, coming back in January unless, of course, I move to England where I can watch the fifth season premiere next Sunday night.

Nurse Jackie, coming back next year for one last season.

That is it, gang.

I used to be a kid who could cover every half-hour of every primetime evening with something.  Now I wait for all of the above to appear.   I bide my in-between-time on HGTV or the Food Network or MeTV, the latter, of course, reruns all the stuff from those Fall Previews of my youth.

I'm flipping through this new TV Guide and I am astounded by the offerings.

There is NCIS: New Orleans.  Note to all: I have never watched a single frame of any of the other NCIS shows. 

There are some horrible sounding sitcoms.   You know they're even worse when you get past the loglines.

Bad Judge.  Gee, we already have enough of them.

Selfie.  Yeah, name your show with a catchphrase that few people will remember in five years.

Black-ish.  Gee, I wonder what that's about.

Marry Me.   So, after the characters do what they're instructed in the title, how many more weeks will the show run after that?

There are dramas that all sound the same.  They all investigate crime and I long for the days when the only infraction on television was when Gomer Pyle made a U-turn in Mayberry.

Scorpion.  Young crime-solving geniuses.

State of Affairs.  It stars Katherine Heigl.  My TV is programmed to shut down automatically if her image ever appears on the screen.

The Flash.   Because we just can't get enough of annoying super heroes at the multiplex every weekend.

Forever.  All about a 235-year-old man who works in the New York City coroner's office.  Who writes this shit?

Stalker.   The ad in the TV Guide Fall Preview shows a mysterious person whose face is hidden under a hoodie.  Is that the stalker or the victim? 

How To Get Away With Murder.  You don't need this hour-long drama.  Simply watch C-Span.

Of all this crap, I find two shows that are marginally interesting.  John Mulaney's new Seinfeld-like sitcom, which sports Martin Short in the supporting cast.  Except all the reviews say the supporting cast is wasted. 

There's something called Madam Secretary, which looks to be a knock-off of Hillary Clinton's life.  It looks like it's shot in New York and features a cast of Broadway veterans.  But, if it's really about Hillary's tenure as Secretary of State, this better have a laugh track.

43 new shows.  I might watch two.  Of the existing series, I tune into four. 

Meanwhile, I am riveted to PBS' great new documentary on the Roosevelt family and, for once, Ken Burns hasn't fucked up.  The damn thing is 14 hours long and it's being played out in a single week.   I am thinking that if they stretched it out to an hour a week, I could be occupied until right after Thanksgiving. 

But, no.

Disgusted, I zip through the TV Guide Fall Preview one more time.  Now I can't even find the crossword puzzle.

Civilization, as we know it, has ended.

Dinner last night:  Leftover chicken sausage and salad.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

This Date in History - September 17

Happy birthday, John Franco.   You saved a lot of Met games.  So how come I only remember the ones you blew?

456:  ROMAN GENERAL REMISTUS IS BESIEGED WITH A GOTHIC FORCE AT RAVENNA AND LATER EXECUTED.

I would be remist not mentioning this today.

1176:  THE BATTLE OF MYRIOKEPHALON IS FOUGHT.

Sounds like something you take when you comedown with Myrio.

1462:  THE BATTLE OF SWIECINO IS FOUGHT DURING THE THIRTEEN YEARS' WAR. 

Included here for no reason other than to mention I have no clue what the Thirteen Year's War was fought over.

1630:  THE CITY OF BOSTON IS FOUNDED.

I guess it had to start some time.

1683:  ANTONIE VAN LEEUWENHOEK WRITES A LETTER TO THE ROYAL SOCIETY AND INCLUDES THE FIRST KNOWN DESCRIPTION OF PROTOZOA.

As if anybody is antitozoa.

1775:  DURING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, THE INVASION OF CANADA BEGINS.

Why bother now?   Winter is coming.

1787:  THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION IS SIGNED IN PHILADELPHIA.

And now it's not worth the parchment it was written on.

1814:  FRANCIS SCOTT KEY FINISHES HIS POEM "DEFENCE OF FORT MCHENRY," LATER TO BE THE LYRICS OF THE "STAR SPANGLED BANNER."

What so proudly we hail.

1849:  ABOLITIONIST HARRIET TUBMAN ESCAPES FROM SLAVERY.

But she's no Steve McQueen.

1859:  JOSHUA A. NORTON DECLARES HIMSELF "NORTON 1, EMPEROR OF THE US."

We should have had the Norton Anti-Virus.

1862:  DURING THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR, GEORGE MCCLELLAN HALTS THE NORTHWARD DRIVE OF ROBERT E. LEE'S CONFEDERATE ARMY IN THE BATTLE OF ANTIETAM, THE BLOODIEST DAY IN AMERICAN MILITARY HISTORY.

Take that, Vietnam.

1904:  ACTOR JERRY COLONNA IS BORN.

Hey, Hope!

1908:  THE WRIGHT FLYER FLOWN BY ORVILLE WRIGHT WITH LIEUTENANT THOMAS SELFRIDGE AS PASSENGER, CRASHES KILLING SELFRIDGE.   HE BECOMES THE FIRST AIRPLANE FATALITY.

Well, the count had to start some time.

1916:  DURING WORLD WAR I, MANFRED VON RICHTHOFEN (THE RED BARON" WINS HIS FIRST AERIAL COMBAT.

My money's on Snoopy.

1928:  ACTOR RODDY MCDOWALL IS BORN.

I just realized that the spelling was not "McDowell."

1931:  ACTRESS ANNE BANCROFT IS BORN.

Mrs. Mel Brooks to you.

1939:  DURING WORLD WAR II, A GERMAN U-BOAT U 29 SINKS THE BRITISH AIRCRAFT CARRIER HMS COURAGEOUS.

Yeah, not so much.

1940:  DURING WORLD WAR II, FOLLOWING THE GERMAN DEFEAT IN THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN, HITLER POSTPONES OPERATION SEA LION INDEFINITELY.

Reset.

1945:  BASKETBALL PLAYER/COACH PHIL JACKSON IS BORN.

Two points.

1957:  MALAYSIA JOINS THE UNITED NATIONS.

Yeah, I still wouldn't fly their airline.

1960:  BASEBALL STAR JOHN FRANCO IS BORN.

No walks, please.

1978:  THE CAMP DAVID ACCORDS ARE SIGNED BY ISRAEL AND EGYPT.

Yeah, that worked well.

1983:   VANESSA WILLIAMS BECOMES THE FIRST BLACK MISS AMERICA.

What nude photos?

1996:  POLITICIAN SPIRO AGNEW DIES. 

Almost exactly 23 years after his political career did.

1997:  COMIC RED SKELTON DIES.

Two seagulls......

2001:  THE NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE REOPENS FOR TRADING AFTER THE SEPTEMBER 11 ATTACKS, THE LONGEST CLOSURE SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION.

I remember it so vividly.

2006:  PATRICIA KENNEDY LAWFORD DIES. 

No conspiracy theory needed.  Natural causes.

2011:  THE OCCUPY WALL STREET MOVEMENT BEGINS.

Some haven't bathed since.

2013:  BUSINESSMAN EIJI TOYODA DIES.

Death.  You got it.  Toyoda.

Dinner last night:  Chinese chicken salad.



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Morons of the Month - September 2014

I have now officially seen everything.  A t-shirt company that once again throws America back 50 or 60 years.

But, first, let me have these shitheads tell you exactly who they are.   Taken directly from their website, which is offensive in itself.

FCKH8.com is a for-profit T-shirt company with an activist heart and a passionate social change mission: arming thousands of people with pro-LGBT equality, anti-racism and anti-sexism T-shirts that act as “mini-billboards” for change. Started in 2010 with comedic viral videos that captured millions of views on YouTube, FCKH8.com has shipped almost 200,000 equality tees, tanks and hoodies to supporters in over 100 countries. T-shirts emblazoned with bold messages like “Some Chicks Marry Chicks, Get Over It,” “Straight Against Hate,” and ”Legalize Love” have been publicly talked about by celebrities including Jane Lynch, Adam Lambert, Perez Hilton, and Zac Efron - who’s raved about his own “Some Dudes Marry Dudes, Get Over It” shirt in the press. Ellen DeGeneres and wife Portia de Rossi even have their own pink “Some Chicks Marry Chicks, Get Over It” buttons. With over 305,000 followers on Facebook and 43,000 on Twitter, FCKH8.com has given over $250,000 to the equality cause through directly funded projects and donations to LGBT charities. In 2014 FCKH8.com expanded it's anti-hate message with campaigns and tees focused on fighting sexism and racism and supporting those important causes. In a effort to get tees to supporters even faster, the FCKH8.com brand recently became owned and managed by Synergy Media's team of passionate people with a vision to make an even bigger positive impact with the activist brand. FCKH8!

Um, you know what I H8 myself.   Bad writing and run-on sentences.  Plus the incorrect use of "it's."  "It's" means "it is."  It is not the possessive.  But look at me!  Giving these assholes grammar tips.   What we all should be doing is throwing them in jail for treason.  

Oh, so they manufacture these cute little t-shirts and slogans for 25 bucks a pop.  And, with their heartfelt messages at the forefront, you think they're not capitalists at all, right?   But, indeed, these are the most sinister folks you can find in our country right now.  Because as they now expand their LGBT business model to the Black community, they have the potential to destroy this nation for once and for all.

It was the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri that these scumbags used and exploited to get a few more bucks.   Check out this video and see if you don't become as nauseous as I did when I first saw it. 


Damn, where do we start?   How about with the very first words uttered.

"Hey, White people."

Immediately, we are differentiating.  This message is directed exclusively at White people.   Meanwhile, if somebody put out a similar video that started with "hey, Black people," they would be considered nothing short of the Klu Klux Klan.  

So, let me get this right.  A message aimed at reducing racism starts by promoting it.  Yes, that's right.   Because the word "racism" is a two-way street.  And, in this t-shirt advertisement, it is the White person who is being hated and vilified.

The little kids in this ad (and note that they are being used by an organization that has the "F" bomb in its name) are allegedly children from Ferguson, Missouri.  That is doubtful since each and every one of them looks like they came straight from a casting call for Bill Cosby's next family sitcom.  Whether are or likely not, these urchins are now being used to preach hate.   And are learning it at a very young age.  But, how else do you keep this negative business model going for more than 50 or 75 years?

They're focusing here on Ferguson, Missouri and one of the kids mentions the crime that happened there.   A policeman shooting a Black kid in cold blood.  Hmmm, has there been a final verdict in this case?  Did I miss the news?  Nobody knows what happened that day.   Maybe he did.  Maybe he didn't.  Maybe the dead kid is totally innocent.  Maybe he isn't.   That will come out in the investigation.   And no one is found guilty or not guilty until there is a trial by a jury of peers.   Right, OJ?

I have a good friend who grew up in Missouri and knows the town of Ferguson well.  Back in the 70s, it was a great place to live.   Mayberry, USA.  Over the years, it fell apart.  In 2014, it is a nightly war zone.  It's fashionable to always hate the police except on days like 9/11/2001.  Are there racists on police forces?  Maybe.  But, at the same time, none of us know what it's like to fight that battle every single day.  Especially when some people are raised to never respect the cops.

It's funny.  From the time I was a little kid, my father drummed it into me.   If a policeman ever stops you, don't argue.   Say nothing but "yes, sir."  If you're driving, keep your hands on the steering wheel.   And, yes, gang, this White guy has been stopped by an officer.   And, every time, I did just as my father instructed.

But, then again, I wasn't taught to hate the police or anybody else, for that matter, when I was a youngster.   Unlike the little munchkins in the FckH8 video.   For these kids, exploited to the hilt by some truly disgusting adults, are now lost.   Another generation continues to propagate racism instead of stopping it.  We will never get around this, regardless of how many great strides are made.   Because, while one race should recognize their overall stature as victors, it's a lot easier to keep pushing them as victims.

And it's the organizations like FckH8 that are the true ungodly villains in this story.  

Please note that I used the expression "it's" correctly.

Dinner last night:  Grilled chicken sausage and cold salads.





 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday Morning Video Laugh - September 15, 2014

Everybody got into the act last month. A salute to the wonderful Joan Rivers.

Dinner last night:  Steak, potato salad, and cole slaw.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Sunday Memory Drawer - My Season As a New York Giant Football Season Ticket Holder

Well, that's one long title.

The NFL football season started last Sunday and, frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a damn.  I started losing interest in pro football about a decade ago.  The players seemed to become more intense and increasingly cartoonish with their histrionics in the end zone and the manner in a tackle has to completely demolish the other guy.  Admittedly, American society has gotten much darker and sinister, which explains why football is now so revered in this country.

But my ambivalence wasn't always like this.  Back when I was a kid, I wandered from baseball to football as soon as the leaves started to become a crispy gold and brown.  I think this pleased my father who was a big fan. 

Now, in those days, pro football wasn't much of a sport you could watch on television.  Well, the road games of your favorite team were televised.  But blackout rules prevailed and any home games were not shown.  You had to listen to them on...gasp...the radio.  Or, if you lived in New York, you drove up to Connecticut and, provided you were close enough to the Hartford-New Haven TV market, you watched games there.  Some pulled up bar stools.  Others actually rented motel rooms to see their beloved Jets and Giants.  Hopefully, the sheets cooled off after a robust Saturday night.

As for my house, my first foray into football fandom was for the Jets as I was again adopting the allegiance of the new kids in town.  I remember my dad always listening to the New York Giant games on WNEW AM Radio, but, just as he with baseball, he gravitated to my team as well.  Fathers make those kinds of sacrifices.  Plus I previously have written about the year I spent going to Jet games at Shea Stadium with my mom's boss and her boyfriend, who were season ticket holders.   So, I suppose that I was a major part of the Jet faithful.

But, almost as soon as I became a Jet fan, they won the Super Bowl and they got a little boring as a result.  Of course, at the time, nobody knew that they wouldn't get another shot at it for the next two centuries.  So, my love for a football team wasn't as deep as it was for the New York Mets.  I could be easily pulled away.

Back in the day, it was virtually impossible to get tickets to New York Giant football games.  Most of the patrons were season ticket holders since the 1800s and seat plans were often included in last wills and testaments.  There were 60,000 privileged people every Sunday who got to enter their then-home of Yankee Stadium.

The prospect of going to a New York Giant game was about as alien to me as a trip to the Moon.  And, hell, there were people going there back then.  So, you can imagine my surprise when, on one September Saturday, I got a call from my best friend at school, Danny.

"A guy my dad knows is offering us his two season tickets for tomorrow's Giant game."

Huh?

I never turned down any invitations to any sporting event at that age.  And, since my friends and I were already well versed in traveling to Shea and Yankee Stadium by ourselves, I didn't foresee any parental opposition.

Surprise.  My dad, who probably had never been to a Giant football game himself, was a bit defensive.  And probably a little bit envious.

"What do you want to go down there for?   A lot of nuts in that place."

Well, yeah.  So? 

"It's too damn crowded.  You'll get lost."

Well, maybe.  So?

"Lots of traffic down there.  The two of you will get clipped."

I doubt it.  So?

But, as most fathers always do, my dad caved in.  As long as he could orchestrate the whole day.  He'd drive me and Danny to the Jerome Avenue subway train which would let us off right in from of the stadium.   He'd listen to the game and then time our return home and wait for us at the train station. 

And so he did. 

Meanwhile, Danny and I walked into that stadium like kings on that Sunday.  We felt like we belonged to the most elite group in the world.  The seats sucked.  Actually, the view at the top of this blog was pretty much our POV.  But, we didn't care.  And we rooted for the home team because, heck, everybody around us had owned their season tickets the turn of the century.

Yes, we became Giant fans.  And, you can imagine our euphoria when Danny got the call one Saturday later about tickets to the very next game.  

As it turns out, because the season ticket owner was having some business issues, we got to go to four of the seven home games that year.  He let us know on Saturday and, when the call came, we were delirious.  It was great.   We started to be on a first-name basis with the folks around us.   And my father's transport service and our Sunday schedule became almost robotic.

These days, football teams can make the playoffs if they score more than three touchdowns all season.  But, back then, it was a more prestigious group that moved forward.  And the Giants had to win on the last home Sunday to go into the playoffs.   This was the game everybody in town was talking about.

Danny and I waited eagerly for the Saturday call.  That never came.

Now, I was desperate to see this damn game.  So, I really pushed the envelope with my father.   

I suggested we drive to Connecticut and find a motel or bar that was airing the game.

"What are you, some kind of nut??"

I listened on the radio.  The Giants lost.   They didn't make the playoffs.  

And, since there were never any tickets in any subsequent year, my Giant fan days were done.

Dinner last night:  Bacon and cheddar cheese frittata.