Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Sunday Memory Drawer - True Confession

Guilty as charged.

Yes, I must confess.   From time to time, I have watched soap operas.   No, wait, you're supposed to call them "continuing dramas."  Or simply "daytime television."

Whatever.   I have gotten sucked into them at various times in my life.  

Let's face it, folks.  If you perhaps sneered at this revelation and think less of me than you did four paragraphs ago, please look in the mirror.  Do you watch "Game of Thrones?"   Yes, a continuing drama.  Were you a fan of "Mad Men" the past six years?  Um, a continuing drama.  Are you one of the lemmings that tunes into either "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette?"  Yes, it's about real people but, still...a continuing drama.  If you don't think those reality shows aren't scripted, then you probably think that Bernie Sanders is Presidential material.

These continuing dramas have been the staple of first radio and then television for years.  Heck, the term "soap opera" came from the 1930s when most of those radio dramas were sponsored by the likes of Borax and Lux.  They dominated the daytime hours and then, as expected, ultimately infiltrated prime time television as well.  For Pete's sake, one of my favorite TV shows of all time was "Knots Landing."   I miss it to this day and my Thursday nights have not been the same since.   

But, I also got taken hostage by the likes of "Dallas" and "St. Elsewhere" and "24" and "Homeland."   They hit you with a cliffhanger at the end.  They want you to come back next week.

Yep, that's continuing drama.   Or...gasp...a soap opera.

Sure, on daytime, it can all get very silly and ludicrous.  Discovering children you never knew you had.  People regularly and almost routinely returning from the dead.  Even demonic possession that requires an exorcism.  How completely asinine.

Yet, I have loved it.

You can blame my grandmother for getting me started on this filthy habit.  

I don't know if, back in the day, she was glued to her radio console listening to Ma Perkins, but she certainly had her "daily stories" on TV.  Her afternoon regimen was the same every day.  From 1PM to 2PM, she'd nap on the living room couch.  Well, actually, she would call it her "beauty rest."  Then, she'd pop on the TV and be fixated on the black-and-white screen until it was time to cook dinner...at 4PM.  

One day, I bounced home from school and saw what she was watching.  I asked the simple question.

"Shhh!"

It was like I had interrupted a church service.  

So, I sat down and joined her.  At a point where conversation was allowed, Grandma started to fill me.

"This one here.  Oooh, she's such a tramp."

She's a hobo?   I was in the fourth grade.  I didn't know all the lingo yet.  But, whereas a question like that to my parents would have been ignored like a mosquito, my grandmother explained to me just why this woman was a tramp. Who needed sex education in school?   I had Grandma.   And her "stories."

When summer came and school was out, afternoons in Mount Vernon, New York were usually hot and humid.  But, my grandmother's living room was fan-cooled and the only heat I was really exposed was from Llanview or Port Charles or Another World.  

The same thing happened at night when ABC introduced the very first nighttime soap called "Peyton Place."  Carefully monitored entertainment for this little kid.  Nah.  Not in my house.
  
Grandma was watching the saga of the Harringtons and the McKenzies right along with me.
It was probably a strange dichotomy. I had probably just wrapped up my spelling homework. Or perhaps a book report on the latest offering by Beverly Cleary. Something with Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy. It was time for television. And, yes, there were Munsters and Barney Fife and Red Skelton. But, there was also the town of Peyton Place. Where somebody had just been impregnated by somebody else's husband. Or there was another pregnant lady getting pushed off a cliff. Or teenage pregnancy. Or somebody cheating on somebody else's wife. You didn't see this with Herman and Lily. It certainly didn't go on in Mayberry. But, it was captivating to me.

"Peyton Place" is probably how I learned about all the stuff that nobody talked about in my house. The quiet conversations my parents would have in the kitchen late at night when I was supposedly cuddling Zippy The Chimp to sleep. Indeed, "Peyton Place" clued me in to all the things I was missing around me. And, in a very bizarre connection, the folks of that New England hamlet taught me about morality. What was right and what was wrong. How to treat people and how not to treat people. And, all the while, I was enjoying it. The show was damn fun. Maybe my grandmother was not irresponsible letting me watch this with her. Perhaps, in her own way, she was even wiser beyond her advanced years.

I can never remember a time when my grandmother wasn't watching a daytime story or two.   As I got older, I came in and out of them.  But, Grandma never did.  

When she stopped watching all together, I knew the end was likely near.   And it was.
So, yes, over the years, I have enjoyed the nighttime soaps and, as I wrote earlier, I couldn't get enough of the Ewings and the McKenzies and the Sumners.   Indeed, "Knots Landing" was really nothing more than "Mad Men" without the 60s wardrobe.  It was clearly the best drama on television and was virtually ignored by the critics.   But, then, everybody turned around and the damn thing had been on for 13 years.

As for daytime TV, I really don't pay attention anymore.

Okay, I lied.  If I'm home, I'll check in to one or two.  Gee, these days, there are really only four of them left.  That's got to be tough on the creative folks who have toiled in this industry for years.   Less shows means fewer jobs.

And, one more confession...when you work at home a lot more than you used to, a lunch break for me is now an hour with "Days of Our Lives."  In one of my more surreal moments in life a few weeks back, I met for lunch with an actress from that show on a potential project.  I came home and flipped on the TV.  Well, there she was.  I thought about my grandmother at that instant.  She'd be so impressed, even if she probably thought all the characters were real.

"As long as she's not like that other one.  Ooooh, she's such a tramp."

Dinner last night:  Meat pizza at Stella Barra.





Saturday, May 30, 2015

Classic Musical Comedy Number of the Month - May 2015

Woo hoo!  A five Saturday month, so we get to enjoy a classic production number from a musical comedy.

After Carol Channing, there was...Pearl Bailey.   And how I wish I had seen this production.

Dinner last night:  Had a big lunch, so just a turkey sandwich.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Fun With Store Signs











Dinner last night:  Vegan reuben sandwich at the Sage.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Fistful of Pills

These could have been my hands on some mornings.   Actually, most mornings.

Oh, the pills I toss back aren't drugs.  I'm not calling for an intervention.  But, over the years, I simply have absorbed lots of information on vitamins and supplements.  If I pick up a Men's Health and they tell me a new herb or mineral is good for some body part, I'd go out and add it to my morning swallow.  You do this enough and you suddenly find yourself taking 19...count 'em...nineteen different pills every day.

I rationalize that my One-A-Day vitamin only contains the basic minimum of what a body needs.   So I add on and add on and add on.  At the breakfast table, I methodically take three pills, a swig of juice, and swallow.  Three more pills, a swig of juice, and swallow.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Full of delusions, I always thought that this was a completely healthy practice to follow.  Until...

You may remember that I wrote recently of some health bumps I have experienced.  Two attacks six weeks apart of severe chest pains for an hour and then a horrific fever for the next hour.  After meeting my $5,000 deductible in a series of MRIs, Cat Scans, and Ultrasounds, it was confirmed by my top-notch internist that I likely had experienced an inflamed liver due to taking three years worth of arthritis medicine Celebrex.  Hell, the commercials on TV list all the side effects.  But who listens?

So, with everything back to seemingly normal and completely rid of Celebrex, I was jolted one evening two weeks ago when I had another attack as described above.   

WTF.

And, hey, I thought this was all about the Celebrex, which I already flushed. 

Back to the doctor and then back to St. John's Hospital for a high-tech nuclear medicine test that I thought was going to make me look like Hiroshima after the blast.  The objective was to see how my liver and gall bladder were functioning.  My doctor was sure that the gall bladder was starting to malfunction like a 2001 Toyota Corolla.  I started to look at the Dodger home schedule to see when I could schedule the removal of said gall bladder.

Much to my surprise, that nuclear test revealed that said body parts are working just fine.

D'oh.

So what caused the third attack?  

My doctor and I are a great investigative team.  We diligently went over anything new that I was doing or ingesting since the beginning of 2015.  And, surprise surprise, we found something.

My terrific and well-meaning trainer had suggested that, for my arthritic knees, I begin taking an Indian spice called turmeric.  Okay, I should have immediately disconnected when I heard it was Indian.  But, hell, I already take 18 other pills in the morning.  What could one more do to me?

Well, see above.

After the third attack, I went to everybody's favorite in-home physician, Dr. Google.  If you look into turmeric, you can read all the positive impact it can have on your body.  But, I should have also checked out the side effects, especially if you're already taking something for arthritis.  The combination of these two can be almost lethal.  And, obviously, it had screwed me up royally.

D'oh again.

I immediately cut out turmeric and actually reduced my morning pills to the following:

One baby aspirin.

One Citrucel fiber tablet.

One CoQ 10.

One fish oil pill.

One probiotic.

One cranberry pill.

That's it.

I have not yet had a fourth attack and, if I do, I will probably jump off the Santa Monica Pier, pulling my doctor in with me.  But I am betting I don't.

So, the moral of this grisly, little story is that even the most healthy of vitamin supplements can hurt you.  Before you ingest a pill of any kind, do your research and make sure it won't mix badly with something else you're taking.

In short, don't let me happen to you.

Dinner last night:  Bacon wrapped hot dog at the Dodger game. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

This Date in History - May 27

Happy birthday to Frasier's engineer, Peri Gilpin.  Queen for today.  But there were a few other heads of royalty anointed on May 27.

927:  DEATH OF SIMEON I THE GREAT, THE FIRST BULGARIAN TO BE RECOGNIZED AS EMPEROR.

....and one that died.

1120:  RICHARD III OF CAPUA IS ANOINTED AS PRINCE TWO WEEKS BEFORE HIS UNTIMELY DEATH.

Richard III, The Prince Formerly Known as Prince.

1703:  TSAR PETER THE GREAT FOUNDS THE CITY OF SAINT PETERSBURG.

This is not, I repeat, not the place when the Mets used to train in Florida.

1813:  IN THE WAR OF 1812, AMERICAN FORCES IN CANADA CAPTURE FORT GEORGE.

So doesn't that make it the War of 1812-1813??

1860:  GUISEPPE GARIBALDI BEGINS HIS ATTACK ON PALERMO, SICILY, AS PART OF THE ITALIAN UNIFICATION.

Guiseppe Garibaldi sounds like one of those names a script writer would come up with for a gondolier.

1883:  ALEXANDER III IS CROWNED TSAR OF RUSSIA.

This is not, I repeat, not the Alexander that you used to be on Fordham Road in the Bronx.

1907:  BUBONIC PLAGUE BREAKS OUT IN SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA.

So, earthquakes now pale in comparison.

1909:  SINGER DOLORES HOPE IS BORN.

She made it to 102.  Hubby Bob made it to 100.  Allegedly.  My friend and writing partner contends that Bob died several months before he hit 100 and was kept in cold storage so they could say he hit 100.  Gee, I have bizarre friends.

1911:  POLITICIAN HUBERT HUMPHREY IS BORN.

He was a rare Vice President...one with a brain in his head.  Not like the last four.

1911:  ACTOR VINCENT PRICE IS BORN.

Scream, scream for your life!  The Tingler is loose in the theater.

1923:  POLITICIAN HENRY KISSINGER IS BORN.

This less-than-handsome guy was once seen around town with Jill St. John.   So, I guess he really was a genius.

1927:  THE FORD MOTOR COMPANY CEASES MANUFACTURE OF THE FORD MODEL T.

It always ran better with Flubber anyway.

1930:  THE TALLEST-MAN-MADE STRUCTURE AT THE TIME, THE CHRYSLER BUILDING IN NEW YORK, OPENS TO THE PUBLIC.

Which makes me want to know what's the tallest-non-made-man structure.

1933:  WALT DISNEY RELEASES THE CARTOON "THE THREE LITTLE PIGS."

Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?

1935:  ACTRESS LEE MERIWETHER IS BORN.

Miss American 1955.  Catwoman 1966.

1937:  THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE OPENS TO PEDESTRIAN TRAFFIC IN SAN FRANCISCO.

Which means they just put up a sign...."Welcome Suicidal Jumpers."

1941:  REGARDING THE COMING WORLD WAR II, US PRESIDENT FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT PROCLAIMS AN "UNLIMITED NATIONAL EMERGENCY."

Um, you figured that out, heh?

1941:  IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC, THE GERMAN BATTLESHIP BISMARCK IS SUNK.

Later a hit song.

1961:  ACTRESS PERI GILPIN IS BORN.

Is it me or does she not work enough?

1965:  ACTOR TODD BRIDGES IS BORN.

Fifty today.  And, back when, who thought he would make that??

1967:  THE US NAVY AIR CRAFT CARRIER USS JOHN F. KENNEDY IS LAUNCHED BY JACQUELINE KENNEDY AND HER DAUGHTER CAROLINE.

I always thought these ceremonies were a horrible waste of good champagne.

1968:  MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL'S NATIONAL LEAGUE AWARDS THE MONTREAL THE FIRST FRANCHISE IN CANADA AND THE FIRST OUTSIDE THE US.

Viva Les Expos!

1969:  ACTOR JEFFREY HUNTER DIES.

The original Captain Kirk.  He suffered one head injury after another in 1969 and ultimately bashed his skull on a banister.

1975:  DIBBLES BRIDGE COACH CRASH IN NORTH YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND, KILLS 33 - THE HIGHEST EVER DEATH TOLL IN A ROAD ACCIDENT IN THE UNITED KINGDOM.

Pish tosh, America can beat that.

1986:  DRAGON QUEST, THE GAME CREDITED AS SETTING THE TEMPLATE FOR ROLE-PLAYING VIDEO GAMES, IS RELEASED IN JAPAN.

And this is a positive?

1995:  IN VIRGINIA, ACTOR CHRISTOPHER REEVE IS PARALYZED FROM THE NECK DOWN AFTER FALLING FROM HIS HORSE.

Not a great actor.  Apparently, an even worse rider.

1997:  THE US SUPREME COURT RULES THAT PAULA JONES CAN PURSUE HER SEXUAL HARASSMENT LAWSUIT AGAINST PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON WHILE HE IS IN OFFICE.

Yeah, he didn't touch her either, right?

2007:  ACTRESS GRETCHEN WYLER DIES.

A hidden talent from the 50s.  Check out her old photos.   She was hot.

2006:  THE MAY 2006 JAVA EARTHQUAKE STRIKES BANTUL KILLING 6,600 PEOPLE.

Who knew Bantul had 6,600 people?

2011:  ACTOR JEFF CONAWAY DIES.

Hearse!

Dinner last night:  Leftover chicken sausage.



Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Another Shameless Politician


As the lady says below...here we go again...

For some reason, I got this e-mail in my folder.  It wasn't Spam.  It showed up like any friend's note would come to me.  How she got my e-mail address is beyond me.  I later research to discover that this Karen Bass is running to be my Congressional representative.

God help me and Tiny Tim and everyone.  Take a gander at this communication and we'll talk afterwards.  In advance, I apologize for how this all lays out below.  But I wanted to copy it exactly as I received it.

Leonard -- 

Here we go again. Over five years ago President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. And today, we know it is working. Over 90% of Americans have health insurance, and health insurance companies can no longer deny people coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Even Speaker John Boehner decided to sign up for the Affordable Care Act last year.
Yet that didn't stop Speaker Boehner and Tea Party Republicans from passing a budget that would roll back the work that we have done with the healthcare law. And to make it worse, they are once again threatening to shutdown the government in an attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Can you give $50, $25 or $15 to help me stand up against Republicans who are using the Affordable Care Act for themselves while trying to take healthcare away from millions of Americans?

A few years ago Tea Party Republicans shutdown the government in an attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. They are hoping that Americans have forgotten what they did.
But we won't let them.
I hope you can give $50, $25 or $15 to fight Tea Party Republicans' attempts to close the federal government and roll back the work we have done to improve America's healthcare system.

We can't go backwards. Your help will me continue to fight against these attacks that will hurt working Americans.

Sincerely,

KBass_Signature.jpg

Karen Bass
And I'm back live.   Now, if you click on any of the blue highlighted pleas for money, it goes right to a form where you are donating money to get Karen Bass elected.  I'm sure a lot of politicians employ similar chicanery.  But this kind of bullshit is what scares me and should scare you.  
I decided to answer this dummy who clearly needs to stay home and do the wash.  
You picked the wrong person to send this e-mail to.   I have my own business and I am drowning in insurance premiums and medical costs.  I don't qualify for Obamacare because if I did, that would mean I was dirt poor.  Besides my own doctors and my financial consultants advised me sternly to stay completely away from those affordable health exchanges.

I'm also knee deep in horror stories from friends and colleagues who have had benefits removed from them or are now trying to keep up with medical costs because Obamacare has radically and negatively changed the landscape.
Because of this e-mail, I am now behind any politician (and frankly you're all damaged regardless of which side of the aisle you're on) who will demolish the current health plan built by this administration.  It needs to be replaced with something much less radical.

By the way, I will also click below and stop receiving these junk e-mails from a politician who certainly doesn't represent the interests of me or my neighbors. 

So I'm personally out to prevent Karen Bass from being elected to any governmental office.  And you don't have to send me any money to work on your behalf.  I will do it gladly for free.
Dinner last night:  Sandwich and salad.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Monday Morning Video Laugh - May 25, 2015

Memorial Day means summer is coming...and please don't do this.

Dinner last night:  Chicken sausage and red cabbage.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Sunday Memory Drawer - My Wartime Education

On this Memorial Day weekend, we remember those in uniform.  Soldiers we don't know.   And those that we did.

Here's a photo of my dad during World War II.  Unlike his three brothers, he didn't see any battle.  From what I was told, he was stationed in some US Army camp in Japan.  This would explain the bag of Japanese money and a samurai sword that I found in his closet after he died.  But, things weren't that heated where Dad was.   His biggest fight was likely with a typewriter ribbon.  He worked in an office.

Unlike many veterans of the war to end all wars, my father wasn't particularly scarred by the memories.  Again, his biggest enemy was probably a typo.  So, while others chose not to speak or recall wartime atrocities, Dad loved to dwell in the era.

When I was a little kid, it was already a retro experience to think about World War II.  There were several TV shows on prime time that focused on those war years.  The military was an in thing.  Around this time, they started to put out those GI Joes---not dolls, but action figures.  I bought mine at the Firestone tire/toy store on White Plains Road in the Bronx.

Meanwhile, a grade school pal of mine had soldiers on the brain.  I think Russell even wound up with a long term career in the Army.  Back when we were in the third grade, he would come over to my house on a Saturday and we would play...what else...combat.

The vacant lot around the corner became our weekly battle theater.  It had plenty of weeds and dirt and places to hide.  It could easily have doubled as Anzio or Corregidor or Normandy Beach.  We were always battling some unseen enemy likely lurking around the corner of the Sunshine Biscuits warehouse next door.  

One week, Russell came dressed for the part.  Camouflage outfit.  Green helmet.  The works.  I needed to join in.  I got myself the same headwear the very next week with my allowance.

As I bounded down the back steps on my way to maneuvers, I ran into my father in the driveway.  He took one look at the helmet and the reaction was not exactly "gee, I'm so proud of what you're wearing on your head."  I told him I was off to play war.  That statement didn't help either.

"You don't play war."

I had touched a nerve.  Maybe it was understandable.  His older brother, the uncle I never knew who I was named after, never came back from France in 1945.

"You want to learn all about what that war was about?   I'll teach you."

And he did.

Over the next year or so, he took the time to teach me some history.  I heard about what happened at Pearl Harbor.  I learned about the homefront and rationing and war bonds.  He told me very little of what happened to him or his brothers.  But I was learning nonetheless.

Then, he let the silver screen fill in the blanks for me.  My father took me to every war movie that was being produced by Hollywood.   I will never forget the memories that were built from those afternoons with Dad in RKO Proctors or Loews or the Wakefield.
This was the very first one he took me to.   And I have relished this film ever since.  I saw it again on a big screen about ten years ago and, in an odd bit of symmetry, I was there with Ron Howard on the concession line.  He was taking his son to see it.  Likely, his dad had done the same.  
Indeed, while I was enraptured by it all, some of these films were a bit of a stretch for a kid who was still waiting for the next Walt Disney cartoon to come out.  I remember seeing this one with Dad in the Brandt Theater on South Broadway in Yonkers.   It came with a pre-movie warning.

"You're going to have to sit still.  This is a long one."

To me, "The Longest Day" was really the longest movie.  It's about three hours, but it felt like three weeks.  I spent more time trying to recognize all the Hollywood stars appearing in cameo roles than understanding what was at stake on D-Day in 1944.  No worries.  Each movie came with a recap from my father in the car ride going home.
For some reason, a bunch of war movies always played at the Elmsford Drive-In.  This exciting film was one of them.  There was always the tell tale sign that we were going to the drive-in.  I'd see my dad down in the driveway applying some Windex to the windshield.  Ah.  I knew what was coming.

My dad had taught me how important trains were during WWII to transport the troops.  They must have since, like "The Train," this one was set on a railroad.  While this film added to my overall education, it was met with a little disdain from my father as we drove home from the Elmsford Drive-In.

"I wouldn't have put Frank Sinatra in that movie.  That skinny son-of-a-bitch never enlisted."

Okay.
Perhaps my favorite of all the war movies that my father exposed me to.  I got to see it again on the big screen a few years back when the Aero Theater in Santa Monica ran it.  Another flood of memories and I can remember my dad's stern pronouncement to me after we saw it at...of course...the Elmsford Drive-In.

"Remember.  Like in this movie, not everybody got out alive."

Indeed.  By saying very little, Dad was really saying a lot.

I've written before of seeing this one with my dad.   As a result, it is one of the must-see holiday movies for me to watch every Christmas.   Yes, there is a Christmas scene in it.  But, more importantly, I saw it with my dad at the RKO Proctor's in Mount Vernon, New York Christmas Eve Day.  My mom was wrapping my toys and a diversion for me was required.  

This was a different kind of wartime movie offered by my father.   It was a comedy.

My dad was convulsed with laughter.  Mind you, this was not a sight I saw frequently.  Plus there was one line that he repeater over and over and over when we got home.

"Can this submarine go down?"

"Like a rock."

For some reason, Dad loved that exchange.   Years later, we watched it again when it came out on video.

My father laughed again.

As I look back on my wartime education, I realize that, perhaps, Hollywood should not have been the main source of my information.  The films might be glorified or magnified beyond belief.  That's a truism.  But, I also remember that I had the world's foremost expert on what really happened in the driver's seat alongside me on the way home.  Dad always filled in the blanks.

Like all fathers did.

Happy Memorial Day to all.  Remember the soldier in your life.  And watch one of these movies.  I certainly will.

Dinner last night:  Italian panini.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Classic Movie Trailer of the Month - May 2015

Before "The Brady Bunch," there was...

Dinner last night:  Beef and vegetable stir fry.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Your Weekend Movie Guide for May 2015

Here you go, geeks.  Whetting your appetite for whatever weekend later in the year this opens.  I don't think the people on line outside this Westwood, California theater are there to see "Cross of Iron."

The summer movie season starts now and Hollywood will be trying very hard to get us to stand on line for the next big hit.  Or, more likely, the next humongous flop.

You know the drill, gang.  I'll sift through the movie pages of the LA Times and give you my gut reaction to what's on marquees this weekend.

May the force be with us.

The Age of Adaline:  The trailer of this chick flick pretty much told the whole dreary tale.  I'd rather stick a fork in my eye.

5 Flights Up:  Reviewed here recently.  If you're looking for a movie, find a different realtor.

Poltergeist:  They're here.  No, wait, they're back.  And I'm asking...why???

Tomorrowland:  Disney repurposes everything into a movie these days.  I'm waiting for "Lillian Disney's Hot Flashes."

Absolution:  Steven Seagal is back.  Consider this your first warning.

While We're Young:  Reviewed here recently.  Surprisingly engaging for a Ben Stiller movie.

Ex Machina:  I guess Deus wasn't available.

Aloft:  Jennifer Connelly as an artist who reconnects with her son, who is a falconer.  Now doesn't that sound uninteresting?

Chocolate City:   Willy Wonka runs for Mayor?

Mad Max - Fury Road:  Somebody asked me if I ever saw the original Mad Max and I had no clue such a movie existed.   I am so out of it.

Hot Pursuit:  Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara on the lam.  How much longer do we have to put up with the latter's Ricky Ricardo fractured English?

Welcome to Me:  Kristen Wiig and likely it's a bit self-centered.

Avengers - Age of Ultron:  I've seen one Marvel Comics movie.  That's probably enough.

The D Train:  Jack Black stars and I never remember seeing him on the subway line that stopped at Fordham Road.

Far From The Madding Crowd:  The latest adaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel.  Strictly for those who have a book report due.

Pitch Perfect 2:  Here's a confession.  I actually saw and enjoyed the first one, even though I was probably the only guy in the theater.  And the only person not wearing Clearasil.

Paul Blart - Mall Cop 2:  Here's two words to avoid always.  Kevin James.

The Water Diviner:  Russell Crowe directs.  I think this won some awards in Australia.  But, what do they know?  It's summer there when it's winter here.

Furious 7;  Still?

The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared:  If we still had movie marquees, I'd love to know how this title would be abbreviated.

The Human Centipede III:  Will the Human Centipede V be redundant?

Saint Laurent:  This movie could be abbreviated on a marquee as YSL.

Every Secret Thing:  A detective searching for a missing child.  If it's Etan Patz, that could be a Civil Service job for life.

Unfriended:  Like This.  Okay, no, I didn't.   Never saw it.  But it's an obvious gag which I couldn't resist.

I'll See You in My Dreams:  A woman travels the US to get over the loss of her dog.  Blythe Danner stars.  Be thankful that her crazy daughter's not in it.

Good Kill:  All about Ethan Hawke as a drone pilot.  That says nothing to me.

The Film Critic:  A man who detests romantic comedies finds his life becoming one.  Heck, have cameras been following me around?

Dior and I:  A documentary about...   You've got one guess.

The Quiet Riot Movie:  A documentary about...  One more time, you've got one guess.

Animals:  A young Chicago couple stuck in the throes of addiction.  Gee, constant wind and snow has odd effects for some people.

Echoes of War:  Neighboring families in post-Civil War Texas.  Paging John Wayne and Richard Widmark.

Slow West:   This cowboy picture was shot in New Zealand instead of Colorado.   And, in lieu of Roy Rogers, we get Michael Fassbender???

Dinner last night:  Ham and cheese omelet.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Seriously?

I try not to watch the news.   It is depressing and stilted and, frankly, you don't get a unbiased or balanced view of anything.  Forget whatever news channel you're on.  It's got an opinion attached, whether you know it or not.  When you deal with journalism in America today, it's a great history lesson.  You understand exactly how Adolf Hitler came into power.

But, of late, there have been some stories that are real head scratchers.   And you wonder just how far down this once great nation has been flushed.  The kind of ridiculousness that just makes you ask...

Seriously?
How is it possible that 170 bikers got arrested in Waco, Texas?  Don't get me wrong.  A clown on a motorcycle being thrown into a jail for a few days certainly gets no argument for me.  Hey, I'm somebody who's watched a biker ride past a car on the freeway and rip off a rear view mirror or two.  

But the real craziness with this tale is...are there even enough policemen in Waco, Texas to handle all this paperwork?  Think of the bail bondsman in town who just hit the mother lode.  

"Hey, Honey, I've got to work late.  I'm processing bail for 170 people."

Oh, sure.

Of course, I'm just happy to read about police arresting anybody these days.  Especially when you have buffoons like Michael Moore who think that cops across America shouldn't even have guns.

Seriously?

Okay, even Stevie Wonder could spot these clues.  Hell, if even the New York Times will print that Hillary Clinton has violated government rules with regard to her e-mails while Secretary of State, then you know there is a serious problem.  

So she uses an unsecure server and address to do government business.  Oh, and 30,000 e-mails disappear or get deleted from the server in her home that I imagine is on the kitchen counter next to Bill's high tech Keurig machine.  But there is nothing to see here.  Or so she says.

Come on, folks.  This is a woman who has had her panties pulled down more than a stripper at a bachelor party.  And, yet, she is still considered the one to beat for President in 2016.  

And let's ignore the age-old slap in the face to women all across America when she inexplicably stayed with her husband when he had his own underwear pulled down in Macy's Herald Square window.  What kind of message is that to send?

But, yet, she has still tons of fans.  Especially the Gruesome Twosome in my gym.  Those two magpies that I have written about here before.  Their view of all these major indiscretions from Hrod17?

"All made up.  A right wing conspiracy."

Seriously?
And speaking of journalists you can't believe on TV.  How about this shrimp?  George Stephanopoulos who really is an elf looking for a Keebler factory.  He sits on ABC and tells you all the news you need to hear.  Well, at least, from his own viewpoint.  

There's been a lot of controversy with misappropriations handled by the Clinton Global foundation.  The Clintons, who allegedly were broke when they left the White House, have somehow become billionaires in the 15 years since they left Washington, DC.   By the way, with all that dough, they certainly could have invested in Carbonite to back up all those e-mail files, but I digress.  

In the middle of all this moolah is George, who is entrusted by a major news organization to deliver the balanced message to us.  But, he's a donor to said foundation.  He sits on their board.  And, apparently announces on the air that there's no chicanery going on when everybody including God knows there is.

Come on, folks.

Of course, George owes his entire life and career to the Clintons since he was Bill's campaign manager back when he was just a few years older than Beaver Cleaver.  So, anything he says about the 2016 Presidential campaign is incredibly suspect.  

Stick to the news, George.  Oh, and do some real inside reporting.  For instance, how about an update on Chelsea's father-in-law?   Is that crooked politician out of jail yet?

Seriously?
When will we be completely rid of Al Sharpton?  What the hell has this load ever done to warrant any notoriety?  Frankly, we should be talking about all the larceny he has committed over the year.  Libel over that rape case thirty years ago.   Race baiting and riot provoking in major urban areas.  Paying off seven million dollars in back taxes.   

Meanwhile, this clown is welcome in the White House where our President will entertain anybody that's has...well...the same ears he has. 

So what's the latest nonsense with this jerk?  Well, his daughter (pictured above) sprained her ankle on an uneven NY sidewalk and is now suing the city for five million dollars.

Hmm.  Ace bandages cost about seven bucks.  That's an awfully large mark-up even for CVS Drugs.  Heck, I tore my meniscus on a pothole coming out of a Broadway theater.   I never once thought about putting a million dollar price tag on it.  

Of course, I don't have a father who's looking for any ready cash so he can maintain his business model of....well...getting money for having no discernible talent or capability whatsoever.   

Seriously?   

Yes, seriously.

Dinner last night:  Chopped Chinese chicken salad.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

This Date in History - May 20

Happy birthday, Cher.   And what better way to celebrate than to spotlight your acting triumph in "Moonstruck."

325:  THE FIRST ECUMENICAL COUNCIL OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH IS HELD IN NICEA.  

Meetings in the morning.  Golf in the afternoon.

526:  AN EARTHQUAKE KILLS ABOUT 250,000 PEOPLE IN WHAT IS NOW SYRIA AND ANTIOCHIA.

Now that's an earthquake.

794: KING ETHELBERHT II OF EAST ANGLIA VISITS THE ROYAL MERCIAN COURT AT SUTTON WALLS, WITH A VIEW TO MARRYING A PRINCESS.  HE IS TAKEN CAPTIVE AND BEHEADED.

I prefer to wait for Queen Ethelmertz I.

1293:  KING SANCHO IV OF CASTILE CREATES THE STUDY OF GENERAL SCHOOLS OF ALCALA.

Sounds like some gut courses to me.

1498:  PORTUGUESE EXPLORER VASCO DA GAMA DISCOVERS THE SEA ROUTE TO INDIA.

For you three who want to go there.

1521:  IGNATIUS LOYOLA IS SERIOUSLY WOUNDED IN THE BATTLE OF PAMPELUNA.

Didn't this guy Loyola open up a lot of colleges?

1609:  SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS ARE FIRST PUBLISHED IN LONDON.

When do we see the Cliff Notes?

1775:  THE MECKLENBURG DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE IS SIGNED IN NORTH CAROLINA.

Doesn't Mecklenburg sound like one of those countries in a Marx Brothers movie?

1802:  NAPOLEON BONAPARTE REINSTATES SLAVERY IN THE FRENCH COLONIES, REVOKING ITS ABOLITION IN THE FRENCH REVOLUTION.

I guess that's Shorty's version of an executive action.

1861:  DURING THE CIVIL WAR, THE STATE OF KENTUCKY PROCLAIMS ITS NEUTRALITY, WHICH WILL LAST UNTIL SEPTEMBER 3.   MEANWHILE, THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA SECEDES FROM THE UNION.

Why do I think this kind of stuff will happen again?

1862:  US PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN SIGNS THE HOMESTEAD ACT INTO LAW.

Pitch your tent here.

1873:  LEVI STRAUSS AND JACOB DAVIS RECEIVE A US PATENT FOR BLUE JEANS WITH COPPER RIVETS.

So that's how they got there.

1883:  KRAKATOA BEGINS TO ERUPT.  THE VOLCANO EXPLODES THREE MONTHS LATER.

From the movie title, I know this is "east of Java."  Or was it West?   Who does remember that film anyway?

1891:  THE FIRST PUBLIC DISPLAY OF THOMAS EDISON'S PROTOTYPE KINETOSCOPE.

Two on the aisle please.

1899:  THE FIRST TRAFFIC TICKET IN THE US --- NYC CAB DRIVER JACOB GERMAN WAS ARRESTED FOR SPEEDING WHILE DRIVING 12 MILES PER HOUR.

He probably contested it.

1902:  CUBA GAINS INDEPENDENCE FROM THE US.

Babalu.

1908:  ACTOR JAMES STEWART IS BORN.

This will be a wonderful life.

1915:  ISRAELI POLITICIAN MOSHE DAYAN IS BORN.

Are they coming on the left?

1916:  THE SATURDAY EVENING POST PUBLISHES ITS FIRST COVER WITH A NORMAN ROCKWELL PAINTING.

It was a boy with a baby carriage in case you're in a trivia contest.

1919: COMEDIAN GEORGE GOBEL IS BORN.

No longer lonesome.

1927:  CHARLES LINDBERGH TAKES OFF FROM ROOSEVELT FIELD IN LONG ISLAND TO MAKE THE WORLD'S FIRST SOLO NON-STOP FLIGHT ACROSS THE ATLANTIC.  HE LANDS IN PARIS THE NEXT DAY.

After what we learned later on, it's a shame this was a round trip.

1932:  AMELIA EARHART TAKES OFF FROM NEWFOUNDLAND TO BEGIN THE WORLD'S FIRST SOLO NONSTOP FLIGHT ACROSS THE ATLANTIC OCEAN BY A FEMALE PILOT.

This one she actually finished.

1940:  THE FIRST PRISONERS ARRIVE AT A NEW CONCENTRATION CAMP AT AUSCHWITZ.

And so it begins.

1944:  SINGER JOE COCKER IS BORN.

He'll get high.  With help from his friends.

1946:  ACTRESS/SINGER CHER IS BORN.

We got you, babe.

1948:  CHIANG KAI-SHEK IS ELECTED AS THE FIRST PRESIDENT OF CHINA.

Waiter, Kai-shek, please.

1964:  DISCOVERY OF THE COSMIC MICROWAVE BACKGROUND RADIATION BY ROBERT WOODROW WILSON AND ARNO PENZIAS.

Oh, good, now we can heat up lunch.

1966:  ACTRESS MINDY COHN IS BORN.

Saw her once picking up take-out food at Blue Plate Diner in Santa Monica.

1969:  THE BATTLE OF HAMBURGER HILL IN VIETNAM ENDS.

Hold the pickle.  Add the napalm.

1983:  FIRST PUBLICATIONS OF THE DISCOVERY OF THE HIV VIRUS THAT CAUSES AIDS IN THE JOURNAL SCIENCE BY LUC MONTAGNIER.

Uh oh.

1989:  ACTRESS GILDA RADNER DIES.

Marvelous talent.  What a waste.

1990:  THE FIRST POST-COMMUNIST PRESIDENTIAL AND PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS ARE HELD IN ROMANIA.

Da, I can vote now.

1996:  THE SUPREME COURT OF THE US RULES AGAINST A LAW THAT WOULD HAVE PREVENTED ANY CITY, TOWN, OR COUNTY IN COLORADO FROM TAKING ANY JUDICIAL ACTION TO PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF GAYS AND LESBIANS.

And now you can legally smoke weed in the same state.

2012:  SINGER ROBIN GIBB DIES.

How do you mend a broken heart?   You really can't.

2013:  SINGER RAY MANZAREK DIES.

From the Doors....now knocking on Heaven's...well, you get it.

Dinner last night:  Leftover ravioli and salad.



Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"Two Bedroom Movie For Sale. Needs Renovation"

If the HGTV cable network ever decides to expand its programming past episodes of House Hunters, this movie might likely be an original production.  Hopefully, the network will think through the process a little bit more than the filmmakers involved here. Like a strong foundation for a house, you have to start with a good script.

And that's where "5 Flights Up" should have started.   With a script.   And an idea.   And maybe a different director.  Because, as a movie, this claptrap is a complete tear-down.

I saw "5 Flights Up" because it looked like a good evening out.   Desperately trying to find a current film that wasn't based on a Marvel comic, I stumbled across this.   Heck, you think Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman as stars.  How bad can that be?

Ummmmm.....

Filmed completely in New York, this is a movie that had a great logline and then stalls like the IND subway in the middle of rush hour.  Keaton and Freeman play a longtime married couple (yes, folks, and that is treated as color blind as it should be) who have lived in the same Brooklyn apartment for forty years.   Their entire married life has been in those five or six rooms, but there's no elevator in the building and, well, they are getting old.   Plus their beloved pooch has spinal issues and that alone prompts them to consider selling this unit for one in a building with an elevator.  I guess you can figure that out from the super-clever film title.

In steps Diane's obnoxious realtor of a niece, played even more obnoxiously by the usually reliable Cynthia Nixon.  She promises a big return after an open house for prospective buyers.   But, then, the oldsters realize they must flip themselves into another apartment and they go off looking themselves.  This all plays out like a HGTV episode of Flip or Flop with emphasis on the latter.   To make matters worse, New York City is under a possible terrorist attack.  Nothing louses up a weekend of apartment hunting than a bomb planted on the Williamsburg Bridge.

If this all sounds terribly clinical, it is.   Despite the valiant efforts of Keaton and Freeman, this movie meanders around for about ninety minutes and eventually goes no place.  The only real drama and tension comes from worrying about whether their dog will survive surgery.   More inexplicably, this New York-filmed story has no real feel for the city or its inhabitants.   That's likely due to director Richard Loncraine, a lifetime Brit who probably has only been in NY long enough to switch planes at JFK.

It is fun to see Diane Keaton back walking the streets of Manhattan like she did in "Annie Hall,"...gasp...almost forty years ago!  But, in a cinematic device that is now annoyingly cliche, Morgan Freeman does some voiceover narration in a manner that sorely needs a couple of penguins.  Just another misfire in a film that's full of hundreds of them.  

There is no real compelling story to this soon-to-be-condemned shack.  I knew the ending when I was still on line for my lemonade at the concession stand.  And, frankly, the only true surprise was seeing that my friend's brother-in-law popped up several times as a journalist reporting on the terrorist subplot.

If you really, really must see "5 Flights Up," I'd suggest you not buy, but rent.

LEN'S RATING:  One star.

Dinner last night:  Chicken fried steak and vegetables.