Saturday, October 31, 2015

Classic Musical Comedy Production Number of the Month - October 2015

Woo hoo!  A five Saturday month.  Time for some classic musical comedy.  And, in honor of the World Series...

Dinner last night:  Sandwich.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Tricks and No Treats

 Passing that had to hurt.
 Now that's a real monster.
 Shoulders and heads above the crowd.
 Um, rethink.
 And this little piggy...
 But what if these aren't costumes...
And what if that's not a mask...
 Halloween at the shul.
 They better hope one of those dogs doesn't go into heat.
 No words.
Here's Johnny...
Grandma and Grandpa.

Dinner last night:  Roast beef French Dip at Marie Callender's.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Added To My DVR This TV Season

As opposed to setting a time on the VCR to record every week.   Remember those days.

Every season, there's one or two shows that sound intriguing enough for me to at least sample.   If the show gets me to stick with it beyond one or two viewings, I am locked in.

Desperate Housewives was one of those shows.

Brothers and Sisters was one of those shows.

TNT's Dallas reboot was one of those shows.

Madam Secretary was the one show last season.

Hell, way back when, the Big Bang Theory was and still is one of those shows.   So is The Middle.

Well, this year, I am floored.   Two shows actually wiggle their way into my weekly record queue.   Go figure.
Yeah, you could have fooled me.   I haven't been the biggest of their fans.   The latest movies from the now Jim Henson-less franchise were amusing, but certainly not likely to make me watch a weekly edition.   But I saw the name Bill Prady attached and I know he was one of the original driving forces behind Big Bang.  Why the heck not?

I was blown away at how many times I laughed out loud during the premiere.   I mean, hearty belly laughs.   These are not your grand daughter's Muppets.   Indeed, as far as I'm concerned, most of the jokes are aimed at an adult audience.   Hollywood inside jokes.  One piled on another.  And priceless.

This rendition is a complete take-off on late night television.  Miss Piggy is the host of a show.  Kermit is the producer.  Fozzie Bear is essentially Ed McMahon and the rest of the gang is the crew.  Essentially, this is 30 Rock with puppets.   And I was never a fan of 30 Rock.  So there.

Miss Piggy is feuding with practically everybody in Hollywood.  Fozzie Bear steals an ash tray from Jay Leno's house.  And Kermit always seems to be against the wall trying to produce a decent TV show.   

The Muppets' canvas here is a studio lot and that's ideal for lots and lots of cameos from the likes of Reese Witherspoon to Josh Groban who actually is caught having an affair with Miss Piggy!!!   I haven't laughed this hard at a new prime time comedy since...well...the Middle.
All right, this caught me off-guard.   I tuned in mainly because the advance buzz was so good.  Mind you, we're only one episode in and I have yet to see the all-important second episode.   But, right now, Supergirl is programmed into my VCR.

CBS is smart to diversify their dramas.  I mean, eventually, they will run out of cities to station CSI units in.   And the super hero route always works.   To make it a strong female character fits in on a network that sports Tea Leoni and Julianna Marguiles fronting their own series.

Again, I've never been a huge fan of the Superman franchise.   And I have no idea how the set-up for Supergirl deviates from what those comic book nuts have read over the past few years.  But I loved how the plot in the premiere played out.   With the Daily Planet now a gossip magazine headed by Calista Flockhart in her very best Devil/Prada mode.  

It appears the storyline will revolve around Supergirl trying to wrangle up some sinister prisoners escaped from her planet.  But the key will be the home life scenes and the rapport with her co-workers.  Unlike the mostly-in-the-dark Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, there were already two co-workers in on our heroine's big secret by the end of the first episode.  Meanwhile, this is all a lot to ride on the cape of Melissa Benoist as Supergirl, but she just might have the chops to do it.

So, welcome, you two shows, to Len's DVR queue.

Dinner last night:  French dip roast beef sandwich.




Wednesday, October 28, 2015

This Date in History - October 28

I guess I could call this Throwback Wednesday.  Happy birthday to Bruce...well...I'll update it below.

97:  EMPEROR NERVA IS FORCED BY THE PRAETORIAN GUARD TO ADOPT GENERAL MARCUS ULPIUS TRAJANUS AS HIS HEIR AND SUCCESSOR.

The nerva!

306:  MAXENTIUS IS PROCLAIMED ROMAN EMPEROR.

Mentioned because...

312:  CONSTANTINE I DEFEATS MAXENTIUS, BECOME THE SOLE ROMAN EMPEROR OF THE WEST.

Six years in charge, door to door.

1061:  EMPRESS AGNES, ACTING AS REGENT FOR HER SON, BRINGS ABOUT THE ELECTION OF THE ANTIPOPE HONORIUS II.

I'm really curious about this concept of an antipope.

1420:  BEIJING IS OFFICIALLY DESIGNATED THE CAPITAL OF THE MING DYNASTY.

I bet the air was bad there even then.

1492:  CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS DISCOVERED CUBA ON HIS FIRST VOYAGE TO THE NEW WORLD.

Babalu.

1628:  THE SIEGE OF LA ROCHELLE ENDS WITH THE SURRENDER OF THE HUGUENOTS.

Okay, now there's a Huguenot Street in New Rochelle, NY.  Hmmm, what a coinky dink.

1775:  AMERICAN REVOLUTION - A BRITISH PROCLAMATION FORBIDS RESIDENTS FROM LEAVING BOSTON.

Obviously trying to preserve the Red Sox paid attendance.

1776:  AMERICAN REVOLUTION - BRITISH FORCES ARRIVE AT WHITE PLAINS, NY.  

Hey, I know where that is!

1886:  IN NEW YORK HARBOR, PRESIDENT GROVER CLEVELAND DEDICATES THE STATUE OF LIBERTY.

Gift shop to follow.

1897:  FASHION DESIGNER EDITH HEAD IS BORN.

Well, actually, her whole body came out, too.

1914:  PHYSICIAN JONAS SALK IS BORN.

Thank you for that polio vaccine you will invent.

1919:  THE US CONGRESS PASSES THE VOLSTEAD ACT OVER WOODROW WILSON'S VETO, PAVING THE WAY FOR PROHIBITION TO BEGIN THE FOLLOWING JANUARY.

Idiots.

1922:  ITALIAN FASCISTS LED BY BENITO MUSSOLINI MARCH ON ROME AND TAKE OVER THE ITALIAN GOVERNMENT.

He doesn't realize that there's a rope with his name on it.

1929:  BLACK MONDAY - A DAY IN THE WALL STREET CRASH OF 1929.

Sell!

1940:  TELEVISION PRODUCER SUSAN HARRIS IS BORN.

The genius behind TV's "Soap" and "The Golden Girls."  From my hometown of Mount Vernon, New York.

1949:  CAITLYN JENNER IS BORN.

Well, technically, not really until 2015.

1952:  ACTRESS ANNIE POTTS IS BORN.

Wonderful on "Designing Women."

1955:  BUSINESSMAN BILL GATES IS BORN.

Yeah, he invented some stuff.

1958:  JOHN XXIII IS ELECTED POPE.

He dies in 1963, so not a long gig.

1962:  END OF THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS - SOVIET PREMIER NIKITA KHRUSCHCHEV ORDERS THE REMOVAL OF SOVIET MISSILES FROM CUBA.

JFK's shining moment.

1964:  VIETNAM WAR - US OFFICIALS DENY ANY INVOLVEMENT IN BOMBING NORTH VIETNAM.

Yeah, sure.

1965:  CONSTRUCTION ON THE ST. LOUIS ARCH IS COMPLETED.

I always wonder how they managed to build that in the first place.

1998:  AN AIR CHINA JETLINER IS HIJACKED BY A DISGRUNTLED PILOT.

Well, is that any way to display your anger?

2006:  BASKETBALL COACH RED AUERBACH DIES.

Fifth foul.

2010:  ACTOR JAMES MACARTHUR DIES.

Bury 'em, Dan-O.

Dinner last night:  Chef's salad with roast beef and ranch dressing.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

If You're Scared of Heights...

...don't go see "The Walk."  Hell, the theatrical poster alone can be tough to look at.

But, barring any vertigo, this is a film you definitely want to check out.  Of course, it's loaded with CGI but, then again, most movies today are.   And it's not like they could have done this on location because, well, the buildings aren't...

You know the rest.

Back in August of 1974, there was this crazy circus tightrope guy named Philippe Petit who somehow strung a wire across the courtyard between the recently constructed World Trade Towers and pulled off a marvelous, if not lunatic stunt.  This became the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary a few years back that was terrific.   Well, "The Wire" is the fictionalized version of that story and is almost as good.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who frequently can do no wrong in any movie he's involved, plays Petit and he narrates the saga from, of all places, the torch of the Statue of Liberty.   Okay, right from the get-go, you know this is going to be computer graphics heavy.   But the story commands it and, well, once again, the buildings aren't...

The best part of the 2009 documentary was the elaborate recreation of how Petit and his cronies rigged the wire on the roofs under the cloak of darkness.   It was as elaborate a heist as the Brinks job and totally riveting.  These people are breaking the law and you still root for them.

In "The Wire," we take a while to get to that.   The first forty-five minutes or so are spent on Petit and his mentor, played by Ben Kingsley.  Since I knew the story to come, I was anxious to get past this exposition which was fairly dull.   Plus Gordon-Levitt's French accent sometimes wandered around to Pepe LePew land which was a bit disconcerting.

But, as soon as director Robert Zemeckis gets us to New York and the planning of the stunt, we're on a runaway train of exhilaration.  And, of course, the walk itself is completely mind-blowing.   Sure I know it was all green screen and the actor himself was probably no more than twelve feet off the soundstage floor. This is movie magic at its best.

Naturally, you can't do this movie without mentioning what really happened down there in lower Manhattan on 9/11.   And Zemeckis handles that epilogue with wonderful aplomb that will evoke tears from most of the audience.

While "Man on Wire" was perfect, "The Wire" is a little less so.   But not by much.  See it.   And remember to not look down.

LEN'S RATING:  Three-and-a-half stars.

Dinner last night:  Chicken noodle soup.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Monday Morning Video Laugh - October 26, 2015

Happy Halloween this week!  From "Everybody Loves Raymond."  Frank mistakenly gives out condoms as Halloween candy.

Dinner last night:   Not feeling well so just some Greek yogurt and a frozen fruit bar.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Eating Out

If you're not watching Phil Rosenthal's terrific PBS show "I'll Have What Phil's Having," you should be.   It's a fascinating look at cuisine from all over the globe.  From Tokyo to Italy to Paris to Hong Kong.   The last two episodes have Phil guide through some eateries in Barcelona and finally Los Angeles.  These hour-long shows are terrific travelogues for people who don't go anywhere.

Rosenthal, long before he created "Everybody Loves Raymond," was one of those people.  As a kid growing up in Rockland County, he probably never dined anywhere south of the Tappan Zee Bridge.

That would be me, too.  Anywhere my family went out to eat was within a five-mile radius of our home.  If the establishment wasn't in Mount Vernon, New York, nearby Yonkers, or the North Bronx, we didn't got to it.   And we went to the same places over and over and over.  

Take, for instance, the legendary Bee Hive on Fourth Avenue in Mount Vernon. This was a spot where my mom would take me every Friday afternoon after school.   I'd have the same thing repeatedly.   A BLT on toast with mayo.  A chocolate malted.   And then we'd head down the block to either Loews or RKO Proctor's movie theater.

Trust me, for us, this was fancy eats.

There were fancier eats and that would be for visiting relatives.   For instance, up on Central Avenue in Yonkers, you had Patricia Murphy's Restaurant.   I have no clue who Patricia Murphy was, but my mom loved to hold court there.   These days, it's gone and nothing but a strip mall.  But, back when I was a kid, we had to dress up to go there.
Just a little bit to the south in the then high-falutin' Cross County shopping mall, you had the Red Coach Grill.
The Red Coach Grill actually hung in there for a long time.   I went there with relatives and, oddly enough, it was a hot place to take a date in college.  You'd look like a big deal as you splurged on a big cut of prime rib.  I even wound up going to a wedding reception there.   Of course, as Cross County Mall went down hill, so did the clientele.   For a while, the building became a Sizzler.  

Now my family always had a Sunday dinner at 2PM every week.   This was clockwork.  But, on those weeks when neither parent felt like cooking, we drove a couple of miles into Yonkers to dine at Bruno's Restaurant.   This was straight out of the Sopranos and run by a similar family.   Allegedly, my father had some connection to the guy who ran the place.   In retrospect, I don't really want to know the details.  A trip to Bruno's for me always meant that I got to have a shrimp cocktail.  You know, the big deal with about ten or twelve shrimps sitting in a tray of ice.   This eight-year-old felt awfully special and adult-like eating one of those.  Well, somebody must have gone to jail because Bruno's didn't make it past my 12th birthday,   And now it's paved over into this parking lot.
A more practical...well, cheaper...Italian restaurant was also frequented by our family.   It was called Sorrento's and it was on the corner of 232rd Street and White Plains Road in the Bronx.   For our crowd, this was the only acceptable place to get pizza.   To this day, it was the best.   There were many Saturday evenings where I sat there.   Pulling the melted cheese into my mouth as the elevated train clickety-clacked past every five minutes.  How does a restaurant with the best pizza in the world not last?   Well, neighborhoods change and, as you can see, in the photo below, so do the dining choices.
When it was hot, nobody wanted to cook.   And so my mother would make the summer meal pronouncement...

"I'm not cooking tonight..."

Yes, it was time for Chicken Delight.   And there was one convenient to us near the Gramatan Avenue circle in Mount Vernon.   You can see how long that franchise lasted.   Now it's nothing but a vacant lot.
Yes, there was that iconic staple of comfort food.   The diner.   And the one we went to all the time was the Cross County diner on Yonkers Avenue.   That was back in the day when there were childrens' meals named after comic book stars.   The Roy Rogers.   The Flash Gordon.   The Popeye the Sailor Man.   The latter had spinach.   I had yet to establish a taste for that vegetable.   Almost miraculously, the diner is still there and caters to a lot of old people who are saving their bucks for the weekly trip up to Empire City Casino on the grounds of the Yonkers Raceway.
Eventually, we wound up with a restaurant owner in the family.   My dad's cousin bought a bar and grill on the corner of 241st Street and White Plains Road in the Bronx.   It was named Barney's and I still, to this day, don't know who Barney.   It was a bar in the front and a greasy griddle in the back with a history of hamburgers that probably went back to President Eisenhower.   As a result of the family connection, we started going there exclusively for the next few years.   

Bye, Patricia Murphy's.

So long, Red Coach Grill.

Ciao, Sorrento's.

The big selling point for me at Barney's was their rice pudding.   The creamiest that I have ever tasted.

Oddly enough, there's still an eating establishment there.   I doubt the rice pudding is still there.   The grease, I am sure, is likely intact.
Now look at all these places and you will 99% of the restaurants that my family frequented when I was a kid.   None of them more than a ten minute car ride away.   We lived in a comfortable cocoon.   And rarely strayed out of it.

You might note that there is never any mention of my grandparents in any of these eating stories, despite the fact that they lived in the same house with us.   Well, except for a wedding or funeral reception, I never remember Grandma or Grandpa eating outside of their kitchen.  And they had good reason.

"We make it just as good at home."

Probably the same thing that Phil Rosenthal heard up in Rockland County.

Dinner last night:  Had a big late breakfast at Dupar's in Pasadena.  Everything after that was a blur.  Stau tuned for the story.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Classic Movie Trailer of the Month - October 2015

Mantle!  Maris!  Mertz!

Dinner last night:  Cream of tomato soup.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Ch-ch-changes

There will be plenty o'baseball to write about next week.  But, amid all the fuss and feathers of the Mets going to the World Series, there's this somber piece of news.

I have to retire this jersey to my closet.  

People often asked me why I like to wear a manager's jersey.   Well, in this case, there were four good reasons.  

1.  Nobody else does.

2.  I like to manage the game from my seat in the stadium, right along with the field boss.

3.  This particular jersey number was worn in honor of Yogi Berra.

4.  Don Mattingly is a class act.

So, after five really decent seasons as Dodger skipper, the team and Don Mattingly have reached an amicable parting of the ways.  Or so the press release said.  That could be PR-speak for either two things...

From Mattingly's POV, "I'm sick of this shit and I want to work someplace else."  And he will...probably by next Monday.

Or...

From the team's POV, "We're sick of this and we want you to work someplace else."  

Perhaps and likely it's someplace in the middle.  And I will get the real story because one of my really good friends is one of Don's best friends.  I will get the scoop most definitely.  Indeed, from what my friend told me a month ago, I had a feeling this was coming.  

I was always a fan of what he did with this team, especially in the clubhouse where he essentially juggled the ego of 25 different billionaires.   Now, at the same time, I know lots of Dodger fan who absolutely hated him.  Thought he was an idiot.  And were inwardly angry because he had the misfortune of never playing for the team.   

That was not me.  Oh, don't get me wrong.  He had his flaws during the game. Some of his bullpen moves were a little too Joe Torre-esque.  He bunted more than he should.  He didn't squeeze play enough.   

But, then again, there was growth visible over the five years.  And 2015 was perhaps his best season of managing yet, especially with what this new geek squad of a front office presented him with.  Juggling a starting rotation of fourth and fifth starters from Triple A on a weekly basis.  Injuries to key members of the bullpen.   And an insistence of stupid infield shifts that lost them more games than they won.

Indeed, one might argue that the front office was the primary reason why the Dodgers lost to the Mets in the Division Series.   I mean, the Dodgers actually beat them in two games whereas the Cubs folded up like Wrigley's Spearmint Gum in the following series.   I mean, if the Dodger front office had gone out and gotten either Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto (which they could have done easily at the trading deadline), they would have had a fighting chance in the pivotal Game 3.  

And, if they were pulling one of those idiotic lefty shifts in Game 5, the Mets don't get that guy to third base so they can score the tying run.   Supposedly, there were some philosophic differences between Mattingly and the front office post-playoffs and I will bet that was one of them.  Because I think Donnie Baseball knows that the game is ultimately played by hungry players and not stat-laden computers.   The Mets and probably the Royals are proving just that.

But the Geek Squad is in power and damn the torpedos, full speed ahead.  Now it's all on super nerd Andrew Freedman (you just know he had the shit kicked out of him regularly in high school) and that general manager with the funny name, Yabba Dabba Doo Whatever.

So, I will always fondly remember the years of watching Don Mattingly run the third base dugout in Dodger Stadium.   And the time I got to bowl alongside him at a charity event in 2013.   He was very friendly and we joked a lot as we would be both coming up to the line to bowl at the exact same time.
A fond memory for me.   Even if I was thirty pounds heavier and looking like Steve Allen.

Thanks for everything, Don.  And where ever you are managing next year, I will be buying that team's hat in your honor.

Dinner last night:  Chef's salad.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Miles and Hours to Go Before We're Home

In "The Martian," Matt Damon is an astronaut mistaken for dead and left behind on the planet Mars by his NASA flight crew.  As the poster says, he wants to get home.

Somewhere around the middle of the interminable movie, I had the same goal.   I desperately wanted to go home.

Okay, that's not to say that there isn't a bunch to like about "The Martian."  But, once again, a good story is upended by a Hollywood director's inability to edit his film.  With all the great technology on showcase in this movie, you would think somebody could have figured out how to bring the run time under an hour and forty-five minutes.   Which would have equaled a good two-part episode of "Lost in Space," which is essentially what "The Martian" is.  Sadly without Angela Cartwright.

And here's another major problem with this story that is nothing more than ET in reverse.  Even the deaf, dumb, and blind know how this film will resolve itself by the end of the first reel.   I mean, you didn't just hire Jessica Chastain to play the commander of the flight crew just so she could disappear after the first twenty minutes.  Duh.

So while we wait for the inevitable and oh so predictable ending, we sit through two hours worth of filling.  In a movie about the lead character, you don't see enough of him.   What's his back story?  Is there a wife at home?  Kids?  You learn nothing about your lead character for at least the first 90 minutes.   

Okay, so you do learn that Damon is conveniently a botanist so he knows how to grow potatoes on the barren Mars, rendering about fifteen minutes of running time to an old episode of "Mr. Wizard."  His soundtrack is music left behind by one of the other astronauts and it's all disco music.   Oddly, these tunes play throughout the movie and you suddenly think you're at a retrospective screening of "Boogie Nights."

Meanwhile, we are also treated to the hand wringing scenes of NASA officials as they struggle to figure out how to get Damon back from Mars.   Frankly, I kind of liked the idea that Matt, with his ultra goofy political views, should be left there on the Red Planet, but that's just me.   The NASA segments are dull and led by the continually overrated Jeff Daniels as the organization's leader.  

Indeed, when you're thinking about a space mission rescue movie, Ron Howard's "Apollo 13" is vastly better because he knows how to shave excess from his story.   And, of course, the tale in "Apollo 13" was real and organic as opposed to the gobbledygook of "The Martian," directed with an incredibly heavy hand by Ridley Scott.

When the movie finally wraps, there's at least ten minutes of credits.   Now, as I sat and watched the film, I thought the scenes on Mars looked just like the locations that the legendary John Ford used for "The Searchers."   But, I am told that it was Jordan.  Okay, so that explains why all of the end credit names are not American.   Obviously, Hungary had a big piece of this film with lots of folks named "Gabor" and "Szabo."  Uh huh.   Then, the filmmakers have the audacity to tell us that there were over 15,000 jobs as a result of the making of "The Martian."  

How freakin' hypocritical is that??  Ultra-liberal Hollywood, with their focus on expanding the economy for the common man, does a complete 180 if they can make their movies cheaper on foreign soil.   For that indiscretion alone, "The Martian" loses a half-star in my book.  They should have quit while they were still ahead.

LEN'S RATING:  Two-and-a-half stars.

Dinner last night:  Teriyaki noodles.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

This Date in History - October 21

Happy birthday to Joyce Randolph, the original...and only true "Trixie" of "The Honeymooners."

1096:  DURING THE PEOPLE'S CRUSADE, THE TURKISH ARMY SUCCESSFULLY FIGHT OFF THE PEOPLE'S ARMY OF THE WEST.

Rhetorical question: was there a People's Army of the East?

1097:  FIRST CRUSADE - CRUSADERS LED BY GODFREY OF BOUILLION BEGIN THE SIEGE OF ANTIOCH.

Against Bouillion, the enemy was really in the soup.

1520:  FERDINAND MAGELLAN DISCOVERS A STRAIT NOW KNOWN AS STRAIT OF MAGELLAN.

Well, that was easy to name.

1774:  FIRST DISPLAY OF THE WORD "LIBERTY" ON A FLAG, RAISED BY COLONISTS IN MASSACHUSETTS.

...and justice for all.

1797:  IN BOSTON HARBOR, THE 44-GUN US NAVY FRIGATE USS CONSTITUTION IS LAUNCHED.

I always love the word "frigate."

1824:  JOSEPH ASPDIN PATENTS PORTLAND CEMENT.

A national holiday declared by the Mafia.

1833:  ALFRED NOBEL IS BORN.

He invented dynamite and that stupid award.

1854:  FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE AND 38 NURSES ARE SENT TO THE CRIMEAN WAR.

I wonder how many of them were cute.  And wearing squeaky shoes.

1861:  THE CIVIL WAR - UNION FORCES UNDER COLONEL EDWARD BAKER ARE DEFEATED BY CONFEDERATE TROOPS IN THE SECOND MAJOR BATTLE OF THE WAR.

Back when they were not shy about raising that flag.

1879:  THOMAS EDISON INVENTS A WORKABLE ELECTRIC LIGHT BULB.

Good.  Now he could see the other things he was inventing.

1902:  IN THE US, A FIVE-MONTH STRIKE BY UNITED MINE WORKERS ENDS.

Dig they now must.

1921:  PRESIDENT WARREN G. HARDING DELIVERS THE FIRST SPEECH BY A SITTING US PRESIDENT AGAINST LYNCHING IN THE DEEP SOUTH.

He was sitting because he wanted to.  FDR was sitting because he had to.

1921:  "THE SHEIK" STARRING RUDOLPH VALENTINO PREMIERES.

And women swoon all over America.

1924:  ACTRESS JOYCE RANDOLPH IS BORN.

I met her once.  Nice lady.

1928:  BASEBALL STAR WHITEY FORD IS BORN.

I met him once.  Dirt bag.

1940:  ERNEST HEMINGWAY'S NOVEL "FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS" IS PUBLISHED.

It tolls for thee.

1942:  JUDGE JUDY SHEINDLIN IS BORN.

Boy, I wish there were nine of her on the US Supreme Court.

1945:  WOMEN ARE ALLOWED TO VOTE IN FRANCE FOR THE FIRST TIME.

Viva La France.

1959:  US PRESIDENT DWIGHT EISENHOWER SIGNS AN EXECUTIVE ORDER TRANSFERRING WERNHER VON BRAUN AND OTHER GERMAN SCIENTISTS FROM THE US ARMY TO NASA.

Outer space, here we come.

1959:  IN NEW YORK CITY, THE GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM OPENS TO THE PUBLIC.

Yeah, that round looking building.

1967:  VIETNAM WAR - MORE THAN 100,000 PROTESTERS GATHER IN WASHINGTON, DC.  A PEACEFUL RALLY IS HELD AT THE LINCOLN MEMORIAL.

As opposed to the thousand other non-peaceful rallies that will happen over the next five years.

1969:  POET JACK KEROUAC DIES.

On the road no more.

1973:  JOHN PAUL GETTY III'S EAR IS CUT OFF BY HIS KIDNAPPERS AND MAILED TO A NEWSPAPER IN ROME.  IT DOESN'T ARRIVE UNTIL NOVEMBER 8.

Forget the ear.   That's some shitty mail service.

1973:  FRED DRYER OF THE LA RAMS BECOMES THE FIRST PLAYER IN NFL HISTORY TO SCORE TWO SAFETIES IN THE SAME GAME.

Seems odd that it took that long.

1979:  MOSHE DAYAN RESIGNS FROM THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT BECAUSE OF DISAGREEMENTS OVER POLICY TOWARDS THE ARABS.

Moshe Dayan:  "Are they coming on the left?"

1983:  BASEBALL PITCHER ZACK GREINKE IS BORN.

He had a phenomenal season for the Dodgers this year.

1984:  FILM DIRECTOR FRANCOIS TRUFFAUT DIES.

Truly that was the Last Metro.

1992:  LAWYER JIM GARRISON DIES.

Back and to the left.  Back and to the left.  Back and to the left.

2003:  ACTOR FRED "RERUN" BERRY DIES.

No longer happening.

2012:  POLITICIAN GEORGE MCGOVERN DIES.

And he thought he lost big in 1972.

2013:  RECORD SMOG CLOSES THE CITY OF HARBIN, CHINA.

Doesn't say much about the emission controls over there.

Dinner last night:   Leftover sausage and peppers.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Saturday Night Dead

I'll date myself here.   I can actually read when Saturday Night Live was watchable.  Of course, it's been on for over 40 years and I have a larger sample size than most.

These days, I watch about ten minutes of the show religiously.  The opening sketch is always dependable and last week's edition was no exception with Larry David spot-on as the lunatic Barry Sanders.    Then I hang in through the host monologue, mainly to see how badly that week's guest star reads the cue cards.

After that, I normally hit "off" and go to sleep.   Normally, SNL's primary laughs are front loaded and the last eighty or so minutes are nothing but a tooth extraction without novocaine.

But, last Saturday, I hung in there a little longer.   I wanted to see how they were now doing the famed Weekend Update sketch.

Okay, that part of the show has been legendary.   Some of the brightest moments in SNL history.   From Chevy Chase to Jane "that ignorant slut" Curtin to Dennis Miller to Norm MacDonald to even Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

So now it's two schmucks named Colin Jost and Michael Che and they are singlehandedly destroying the whole segment.  Beyond that fact that these chuckleheads can barely read the cue cards, they are just not funny.

But, even more distressing, is the reaction of the audience, which is primarily between the ages of 18-24.   They are laughing like crazy.

Is it an age thing?  Nah.  Funny is funny.   But it goes back to my fear of how the younger generation is getting their news and information today.   Well, they're not.   At least in an unfiltered and unbiased way.

I fret over whether this SNL news format is actually considered real news and information to the youth in the audience.  Already, we have lots of idiots in television land who thought they were getting true details about current events from the likes of Jon Stewart Liebowitz and Stephen Colbert.  PS, they weren't.

The Weekend Update segment I saw with these two untalented clowns really was humor at the lowest base denominator.   And was actually conveying wrong, albeit comedic takes on true situations in the world.   Bob Hope knew how to do that.   Johnny Carson knew how to do that.   And you never knew what political party either one of them was affiliated with.   They were equal opportunity offenders and we were delighted to get lampoons of both sides of the aisle.

Not so with Jost and Che.   You had no confusion about whether either one of these jerks sat on the political fence.   And I'm not sure either one of these dopes are over 30.

Scary because they have a pulpit and their parishioners every Saturday are not smart enough to know the difference.

Yep, I'm back to tuning out SNL at 1140PM every week.

Dinner last night:  Hamburger patty and French fries.


Monday, October 19, 2015

Monday Morning Video Laugh - October 19, 2015

The best scene from the entire series of "Taxi."  Reverend Jim takes his written driving test.

Dinner last night:  Sausage and peppers.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Sunday Memory Drawer - My Mother, Judy Garland, and A Bizarre Blog Comment

I'm sure that's an absolutely perplexing title for today's entry.   So, for the time being, just focus on the photo that adorns the top of the column.  Judy Garland in her later years yet still looking glamorous.

Here's a trivia tidbit for you all.  Had I been born a girl, this blog would be entitled "Judy Speaks."  Yep, I would have been named after the legendary singer and actress.   That would have been on my mother.  One of Judy's biggest fans.

My mom was a typical housewife in Mount Vernon, New York.  She loved movies and, for a while, went out to either RKO or Loews for a double feature every Monday night with her best girlfriend Ronnie.  On Tuesday morning, there would always be a remnant of her night at the theater.  Either a box of Pom Poms or Milk Duds on the kitchen.  Or, in the freezer, a sleeve of those chocolate covered Bon Bons.  

For me.

When I was older, there would be Friday afternoons at the same movie theater for my mom and me.  She'd pick me up at the Grimes School.  We'd walk to the Fourth Avenue shopping district for an early dinner at the Bee Hive restaurant. I always had a BLT sandwich with a chocolate shake.   Then, we'd head over to either Loews or RKO, depending upon what was playing.  Most of the time, it was one of my mother's favorite genres.  Disney or Biblical epics.  

She was apparently mesmerized by Hollywood and I would be her conduit. Each month, she'd open her pocketbook and fish out a couple of bucks.

"Go to the candy store and buy my magazines."

I knew the ones.  

Photoplay.

Motion Picture.

TV/Radio Mirror.

Mom needed to know all the gossip from Tinseltown.

I don't remember how I learned that my mother's favorite movie star was Judy Garland.  Sure, like all kids, I was sat down on one Sunday each year to watch the traditional showing of "The Wizard of Oz."  But, there were others.  I will never forget the hot summer afternoon where we were all secluded in our air conditioned living room.  My mom pointed me to an ideal diversion from the humidity.

"You have to watch this movie."

It was "A Star is Born."
It was a harrowing, but totally entertaining view of Hollywood.  Most of it was way over this kid's head.  But, on the countless times I have seen it since, the film speaks to me more with each viewing.   And, at the time, I had no clue that the movie had been butchered in the editing and was really three hours long.   When I watch the restored version on my Blu Ray at least once a year, I realize how much of the film my mother didn't get to see on that 21-inch Zenith.  Truth be told, I didn't know what good singing really was.  But I learned when I saw this number.


Of course, when Judy Garland scored her own Sunday night variety show on CBS, there was suddenly no issue as to whether the program was on past my bedtime.   There was maternal clearance to watch it with her.

There's one episode of that show where Judy sang the "Battle Hymn of the Republic."  I've since read that she was dedicating it to the late President John F. Kennedy.  I recall my mother sobbing as this played out.  This merited an audience standing ovation on television long before they started that practice nightly on the David Letterman show.

Of course, there would be no happy ending for Judy Garland.  She died a few years later.   I remember the tears in my mom's eyes on that day, too.

"She had a lot of problems."

My mother summed it succinctly and quickly.

Now I knew where Judy Garland's crypt was in Ferncliff Cemetery up in Hartsdale, New York.   I've already got a bunch of relatives in there, including my dad.   But when it came time to put my mother's ashes someplace, I asked the question.

Is there a niche nearby Judy Garland's?   

Well, they're not exactly neighbors, but it's really only a short walk between the two final resting places.  I thought that was fitting.

Okay, let's flash forward to 2015.  Actually, I'm at a Los Angeles Dodgers playoff game and I get a comment notification for my blog.  This is noteworthy because, frankly, I don't get a lot of comments here.  Most people who read me are regulars and friends.  They contribute their daily two cents on my Facebook page.

Oddly enough, this comment came on an entry from two years prior.  To be exact, December 15, 2013.   A Sunday Memory Drawer piece entitled "Christmas As Seen Through My Dad's Camera."  It's a series of old photos I had dug out from my father's Technicolor slides.  Me unwrapping presents under the Christmas tree.  Toys I had forgotten.  Family snapshots of cousins and grandparents.  All were badly in need of restoration, but the point was well taken.  

And here's the comment I received in October of 2015:

 wow...thanks for sharing an awesome piece of your life...so many parallels to my own life, and, i suppose, thousands of others of the era.
i hope people's memories are as golden and warm and magical as my own.

I was happy to have touched somebody with my memories.   And then I looked at the name attached to the comment.

Joe Luft.

Okay, follow me here, gang.  Judy Garland had three children.  Liza Minnelli with famed director Vincente Minnelli.  And, through her marriage to producer Sid Luft, a daughter Lorna and a son Joey.

Hmmm.

I pored over the piece from December 2013.  I wanted to see if there was any mention of Judy Garland in it.  Nope.  I dug around the stat counter for this blog.  I couldn't pinpoint a location.  But I wondered.  

Was this Judy Garland's son reading my blog???

I returned to the comment and clicked on the name.  It took me to a You Tube video page bearing his name.  It's chock full of videos.  Of guess who?

Judy Garland.

Lorna Luft.

Liza Minnelli.

Even one little Joey Luft's appearance on his mom's TV Christmas show.

But here's the kicker.  The caption on each of the videos was a little curious.

"I am not related to the people in this clip."

Okay.

So the mystery deepened.  Is this just some obsessive Garland fan who uses the son's name as a profile name on the internet?  Or...is it really her son?

I'd like to know.  So, too, I am thinking, would my mom.

Perhaps he will read this and comment again.  Or not.

I was always super intrigued by my mother's fascination with Judy Garland. And now...today...even more so.

Dinner last night:  French dip panini at the Arclight Cafe.





Saturday, October 17, 2015

Classic TV Theme of the Month - October 2015

Catchy theme.  I doubt I ever saw a single episode.

Dinner last night:  Chicken fried steak and salad.