Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Ugly Side of Baseball

Baseball is supposed to be such a nice sport.   It's slow and mannered and philosophical.   The participants, as a result, are smarter and more focused, as opposed to the semi-neanderthals of pro football, hockey, and even basketball where contact is king.

But, as our society grows meaner and more hypocritical, the anger is now seeping into baseball.   And no better example of this is the recent Mets vs. Chase Utley battle that began last year during the National League Division Series and recently reached its hopeful conclusion during the Dodgers' trip to New York's Citi Field last weekend.   Luckily, I've been on-sight witness to both the October melee and the subsequent denouement on Saturday night.

Okay, for those not familiar, Chase Utley slid very inappropriately into the Mets' then shortstop (and not even on the team anymore) Ruben Tejada.   The slide broke Tejada's leg and cost the Mets the game.   But, as I have tried to point out to some still-whining Met fans, who won the series, heh??

Well, that slide by Utley was called dirty but it was nothing that some hard-nosed major league ballplayers have been doing for years and you can see even some of the Mets doing it on You Tube.   I'm thinking of you, David Wright, who I do like.  So, in effect, Utley didn't break any official rules at the time.  MLB has since instituted some guidelines and they are now unofficially called "the Chase Utley rule."

But, the New York fans have long memories even though some of them like to forget they voted for Bill DiBlasio to be mayor.  They were waiting for cutthroat revenge and, even though the Mets played the Dodgers earlier this month in Los Angeles, it looked like the Flushing home turf was where blood would begat blood.  

I was at the ballpark the first two nights of the Citi Field series and the reaction from Met fans was vociferous to be expected.   But the amount of venom was frightening from some of the folks around me.

"Hit in the fucking head!"

"Kill the mother fucker."

"Make his children fatherless!"

All verbatim.   

I started to wonder if some of the same people were horrified by what happened in Sandy Hook or Paris or the World Trade Center.   I know they were and mourn those who died.   So you want to kill a second baseman???

Now, growing up a Met fan, I can tell you that these folks are nothing like what we used to be at Shea Stadium.   From my vantage point, some of the new Met fans are something akin to the children of an abusive parent.   Each day, they steel themselves before going home because they don't know what to expect.   Except they know, for the most part, it will be anger and disappointment.   In turn, these abusive children become equally angry and nasty.  A vicious, psychological cycle.

Some of these are the same fans who, last October, prompted Dodger beat reporters like Molly Knight and Alanna Rizzo to close their Twitter accounts temporarily because they got called a female anatomical part repeatedly on-line.  And, in social media, I see some of the same vitriole coming from people I actually know and like.   

Is this what we have become?

Of course, the hand wringing drama took another bitter turn on Saturday night when, in the third inning, the Mets' fireballing Noah Syndergaard threw behind Chase Utley as a means of sending him a revenge message.  Except the home plate umpire had a short fuse and tossed the alleged comic-book-hero Thor out of the game.  Was that warranted?   Nope.   But it was totally up to the discretion of the umpire, so be it.  Indeed, without Syndergaard, the Mets do lose that game.  Especially after Utley answered the catcalls by hitting two homers (one a grand slam).

Now throwing at batters is part of baseball and the likes of Bob Gibson and Don Drysdale would smile at the notion.   If you want to send a message, you aim for the fleshy part of the body.  So it stings and feels bad, but doesn't injure.   Or, to the chagrin and disappointment of the morons around me, kill.  Indeed, the usually-pinpoint-controlled Syndergaard (who I hear is not the sharpest pencil in the dugout) throws behind Utley and in the third inning, no less.   Um, if you're smart about it, you wait till your team is in the lead and then hit Utley's buttocks hard in the sixth or seventh inning.  Done.   Syndergaard said subsequently that his hand was sweaty and the ball slipped.   Um, that's why there is a rosin bag.

But the way the game unfolded, matters were just made worse, not better.   And the mindset around me grew more to ISIS-like proportions.   

Yes, I think this is what we have become.

Truth be told, I've watched Chase Utley play for the Dodgers for a little bit now and I love the professionalism and spirit he brings to the game.   Clayton Kershaw has gone as far to say that, if he ever fathers a son, he will name the kid "Chase."   And, if you look at social media, you will see comments from Phillie fan who are watching from afar and wish that Utley was still patrolling their infield.   

You know what would be a cool move?   The former Met Tejada just got released by another team.   Maybe the Dodgers should pick him up as infield insurance.   And then, in one game, he and Utley would be playing side-by-side around second base.   And both probably relishing it.   Because that's the spirit and calmness that baseball has traditionally displayed.   Not the poison that I heard at Citi Field last weekend from the likes of "Vinny from Passaic."

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


Monday, May 30, 2016

Monday Morning Video Laugh - May 30, 2016

Don't you all miss Johnny Carson and his animal segments?

Dinner last night:  Roast chicken at Cellar 49.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Disneyland on a Budget

Going to any Disneyland theme park can be an expensive proposition.   

Try doing it on just twenty bucks in your pocket.

Here's a photo of me on my very first visit to the Magic Kingdom of Anaheim, California.   I'm apparently enjoying myself.   Despite my hunger pains.

This was my virgin voyage to the wilds of sunny California.  I've written before of what transpired on that trip earlier.   I was on my way there because my college roommate had scored a newspaper article and was writing about some girls softball team traveling by bus from east coast to west coast.  Since all his accommodations in California were comped, I was going to meet him there and we'd have some fun.

Of course, as I have written before, the beginnings of the trip were...well...troublesome.

My plane out of JFK was called back to the airport one hour into the flight. There was allegedly a bomb on our plane.  We had to evacuate via those chutes you only see in disaster movies.   The delay in getting to Los Angeles was about twelve hours, which meant my very first day in California was spent catching up on sleep in the hotel.

But, once we got going, there was the typical fun.   My very first visit to Dodger Stadium.   Seeing a show at the now-torn-down Schubert Theater.   Being stuck in traffic on the 10.  

By the way, I should add that, once I had arrived, the girls softball team had left.

Of course, given the lousy first day, my dad's voice was echoing in my head from when I first told him about my plan to go to California for ten or so days.

"What the hell do you want to go there for?"

Yeah, my family didn't like to venture far from the nest.   An excurision to the Bronx was considered huge.   Indeed, I was probably the first member of my entire family to actually be in a completely different time zone.

But, other than the Airport sequel movie I was forced to participate in, the trip was terrific!   Fun, fun, fun and my daddy would not take my T-Bird away.

Until the next-to-last day.   Oddly enough, as I write today, Memorial Day.

Our carefully crafted itinerary had saved the best for last.   Oh, sure, my college roommate and I had already been to the Florida edition of Disney-line twice on spring break trips.   But there was something about going to the original which had been first opened in 1955 and, from watching about it on the old Sunday night "Wonderful World of Color," it presented to us a victory of sorts.   Finally getting to see the place we had dreamed about all this time.

Except...

We had so much fun on the previous eight days that funds were low.   As far down into the depths as that blasted "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride goes.   Oh, we had enough for our entry tickets and parking.   But, after that, I had just twenty bucks.  And there was not an ATM in sight because...well...there were no ATMs yet.

Now, if you know the Disney price structure, you will know that twenty bucks might now get you a churro and a Coke.   That's it.   So, think about going to the happiest place on Earth as the poorest attendee that day.  Carefully doling out each dollar of the twenty to make it last the whole day.   Hey, no worries about upchucking on Space Mountain when there is no food in your stomach.

But, seriously, who comes home from Disneyland without mouse ears?   Er, that would be me.

I also had to get through the final day of the trip without panhandling.  So, I had to make the call I dreaded.   The First National Bank of Dad.   Hey, I used to see people get wired money in all those movies of the 40s and 50s.   Well, who knew that this was actually possible and not a figment of the Hollywood imagination?   

Yep, I had to head down to Western Union and pick up some cash.  But, not after I got the expected reaction for You-Know-Who.

"What the hell did you want to go there for??"

Dinner last night:  Hot dog at the Met-Dodger game.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Classic Movie Trailer of the Month - May 2016

One of the best comedies nobody has ever heard of.

Dinner last night:  Bacon grilled cheese at Citi Field.

Friday, May 27, 2016

What Happens When The Church Bulletin Proof Reader Goes on Vacation


"For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery down stairs."

"Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles, and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children."

"The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church."

"Evening massage - 6 p.m."

"The audience is asked to remain seated until the end of the recession."

"Low Self-Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 to 8:30 p.m. Please use the back door."

"Ushers will eat latecomers."

"Due to the Rector's illness, Wednesday's healing services will be discontinued until further notice."

"Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community."

"A song fest was hell at the Methodist church Wednesday."

"Pastor is on vacation. Massages can be given to church secretary."

"The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind. They can be seen in the church basement Saturday."

"Weight Watchers will meet at 7 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance."

"The Lutheran Men's group will meet at 6 p.m. Steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, bread and dessert will be served for a nominal feel."

"Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It is a good chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands."

"Barbara C. remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Pastor Jack's sermons."

"Missionary from Africa speaking at Calvary Memorial Church in Racine. Name: Bertha Belch. Announcement: Come tonight and hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa."

"Our youth basketball team is back in action Wednesday at 8 pm in the recreation hall. Come out and watch us kill Christ the King."

"Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days."

"If you choose to heave during the Postlude, please do so quietly."

"A new loudspeaker system has been installed in the church. It was given by one of our members in honor of his wife."

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

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Is It Me?

Random musings that perplex me everyday.

---People in New York are always horrified when it's still chilly in May.   Hello, it's May in New York.

---I look at the new prime time schedules of the TV networks and discover there is not a single show I want to watch.

---I scan through People Magazine these days and discover that I don't know 75% of the people spotlighted.

---Why is it horrible that Donald Trump had all these dalliances with women in the past?  Um, hello.   John F. Kennedy Jr.   Um, Teddy Kennedy.  Er, Bill Freakin' Clinton.

---How is Hillary Clinton a champion for women when she basically held her husband's philandering as a means to her own political career?

---Why is it that the same folks who bitched about Ronald Reagan's age when he became President have no problem with Bernie Sanders being 75 on the next election day?

---How is it I was never allowed in the kitchen when I was a kid but today there is now a "Chopped Junior?"

---If we are so worried about terrorists, how come the dumbest Americans are chosen to work for Homeland Security?

---How come 2-Ply toilet tissue isn't really 2-Ply?

---The supposedly revolutionary "Empire" TV show is nothing more than "Dallas" in the record industry.

---What's the fascination of NBC with the city of Chicago?

---If anybody else had the ratings Stephen Colbert has gotten, they would have fired months ago.

---I don't know a single person who has voted for Trump.   Well, at least, no one who has admitted it.

---Why don't people answer your e-mails yet they still keep Words with Friends games going with you?

---How could the Dodgers open up a much-ballyhooed sausage stand yet it is closed every Friday night because the owner is Jewish?

---How come I get more unsolicited calls than ever when I'm on the "Do Not Call list?

---Why are there commercials for Time Warner Cable in the middle of Dodger telecasts when you can't see the games unless you have Time Warner Cable?

---Just how many long lost twins have there been on daytime TV dramas?

---How come birds have never suddenly appeared every time you are near?

---Why do I still miss "Knots Landing" as much as I do?

---Who was the fiend that first told supermarket meat departments to put the fat side down on any package of beef?

---Just how small were the people who used to go to Broadway theaters back in the 20s and 30s?

---I look at friends on Facebook who brag about running marathons and wonder just when their arthritic knees will kick in.

---How it is that I'm still doing this blog almost ten years after I started it?

---And how come you're still reading it?

Dinner last night:  Sandwich and salad at the New York homestead.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

This Date in History - May 25

Damn.  I've been waiting for a Wednesday where I could say this and post this photo.  Happy birthday, Karen Valentine!

240 BC:  FIRST RECORDED PERIHELION PASSAGE OF HALLEY'S COMET.

Ajax works best on kitchen sinks.

1420:  HENRY THE NAVIGATOR IS APPOINTED GOVERNOR OF THE ORDER OF CHRIST.

Henry is Siri's husband?

1521:  THE DIET OF WORMS ENDS WHEN CHARLES V, HOLY ROMAN EMPEROR, ISSUES THE EDICT OF WORMS, DECLARING MARTIN LUTHER AN OUTLAW.

Somebody doesn't like the founder of my chosen religion.

1738:  A TREATY BETWEEN PENNSYLVANIA AND MARYLAND ENDS THE CONOJOCULAR WAR.   

Conojocular sounds like it pertains to the groin.

1819:  THE ARGENTINE CONSTITUTION OF 1819 IS PROMULGATED.

Promulgated also sounds like it pertains to the groin.

1833:  THE CHILEAN CONSTITUTION OF 1833 IS PROMULGATED.

What I just said.

1878:  GILBERT AND SULLIVAN'S COMIC OPERA HMS PINAFORE OPENS IN LONDON.

Discount tickets for previews.

1895:  PLAYWRIGHT/POET OSCAR WILDE IS CONVICTED OF COMMITTING ACTS OF GROSS INDECENCY WITH OTHER MALE PERSONS AND IS SENTENCED TO TWO YEARS IN PRISON.

Where he can probably do more acts of gross indecency in the shower.

1898:  PUBLISHER BENNETT CERF IS BORN.

So that's his line?

1921:  SONGWRITER/COMPOSER HAL DAVID IS BORN.  

Now Burt Bacharach can have a partner.

1925:  SCOPES TRIAL - JOHN T. SCOPES IS INDICTED FOR TEACHING CHARLES DARWIN'S THEORY OF EVOLUTION.

Inherit this wind.

1932:  COMIC STEVE ROSSI IS BORN.

Hello dere.

1935:  JESSE OWENS OF OHIO STATE BREAKS THREE WORLD RECORDS IN A TRACK AND FIELD MEET IN ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN.

See you in Berlin in about a year.

1939:  ACTRESS DIXIE CARTER IS BORN.

Nice lady.

1943:  SINGER LESLIE UGGAMS IS BORN.

Sing Along with Mitch.

1947:  ACTRESS KAREN VALENTINE IS BORN.

My first TV crush.

1950:  THE GREEN HORNET DISASTER - A CHICAGO STREETCAR CRASHES INTO A FUEL TRUCK, KILLING 33.   

Kato?

1953:  THE FIRST PUBLIC TELEVISION STATION IN THE US OFFICIALLY BEGINS BROADCASTING AS KUHT IN HOUSTON.

Pledge Drive starts in a week.

1961:  US PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY ANNOUNCES HIS GOAL TO PUT A MAN ON THE MOON BEFORE THE END OF THE DECADE.

Damn, he was right.

1968:  THE GATEWAY ARCH IN ST. LOUIS IS DEDICATED.

Hmmm.  I thought it was always there.

1977:  STAR WARS IS RELEASED IN THEATERS.

Let the geeks be with us.

1979:  IN CHICAGO, AN AMERICAN AIRLINES PLANE CRASHES DURING TAKEOFF, KILLING ALL 271 ON BOARD.

I still remember the newspaper photo of this happening.   Chilling.

1979:  ETAN PATZ, SIX YEARS OLD, DISAPPEARS FROM THE STREET JUST TWO BLOCKS AWAY FROM HIS HOME IN NEW YORK CITY.

Now officially called National Missing Children Day.

1985:  BANGLADESH IS HIT BY A STORM SURGE, KILLING APPROXIMATELY 10,000 PEOPLE.

Who were hungry, too.

1986:  HANDS ACROSS AMERICA TAKES PLACE.

Kumbaya.

2001:  ERIK WEIHENMAYER, 32, BECOMES THE FIRST BLIND PERSON TO REACH THE SUMMIT OF MOUNT EVEREST.

How's the view?

2007:  ACTOR CHARLES NELSON REILLY DIES.

Brilliant man.   Never got the credit for being as funny as he was.

2011:  OPRAH WINFREY AIRS HER LAST SHOW.

And the world still kept revolving.

Dinner last night:  Leftover sausage, peppers, and onions.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Show Me The Money

No, I'm not re-reviewing "Jerry Maguire."   But, essentially, that's the plot of this quite entertaining drama that tries to be nothing more than a diverting time at the movies.   

And, these days, there's nothing wrong with that.  Indeed, you relish the notion that, in "Money Monster," there are no super heroes.  Nothing blows up.   There is very little CGI.  And, praise the Lord, actors are expected to...well...act,

This concoction is very reminiscent of what Hollywood used to do back in the 50s and 60s when there were studio pictures.   Take a couple of stars, give them an okay script, and maybe we'll make a few bucks.  In this case, we get George Clooney and Julia Roberts for star power.   Plus Jodie Foster as director.   Voila.   An entertaining and incredibly tight 97 minutes.    Yes, 97 minutes.   

The plot is taken from the headlines as Wall Street, the alleged evil villain in all our eyes, has taken the life savings of some poor young sap.   He seeks retribution by taking hostage a cable TV financial guru (Clooney) who advised him to buy one particular company's stock.   Clooney winds up wearing a bomb-loaded vest and the kid carries out the drama on Clooney's live show.   There will be a ten second pause while you consider how bad the security is at that TV studio.  Okay, let's move on.

Director Julia Roberts keeps all the drama live on the air as millions of Americans apparently to tune in to watch Clooney's character go kerblooey.   It sounds far fetched but I'm guessing we will see the same thing on a reality show two years from now.   Roberts' character almost never leaves the control room and, from what I have heard, she filmed her scenes in just 8 days.  Still, the interaction between Clooney and Roberts is compelling and actually carries the film.

Oh, sure, there are mucho holes in the plot, but this is not a movie you should think about logically.   Just let director Foster suck you in the story and you won't give it a second thought.

"Money Monster" is no Oscar winner, but you could do a lot worse these days when searching for a movie to see.   As a matter of fact, I have done worse of late.   Much, much, much worse.

Just let some talented actors and filmmakers take you on a journey.   No matter how ludicrous it might get.

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

Dinner last night:  Sausage and peppers sandwich at the Dodger game.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Monday Morning Video Laugh - May 23, 2016

My parents inexplicably loved this guy.  Myron Cohen records were played in my house constantly.   But, listening to this gag, I can see why there was laughter.

Dinner last night:  Sausage, peppers, onions, and tomatoes.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Sunday Memory Drawer - My Top 10 Favorite "I Love Lucy" Episodes

Let's have a little fun today.  On Friday night, CBS did another sweeps event and showed two episodes of "I Love Lucy" in prime time.  Unfortunately, they colorize them and the result is borderline circus clown optics.   Nevertheless, you have to salute CBS for getting ratings with episodes that are over 60 years old.

But, then again, it is "I Love Lucy."  The greatest sitcom in television history and that's for those of you who think "The Office" and "Parks and Recreation" were all that.

So, in honor of this TV hallmark, I'm going to attempt the impossible today.   I will try to rank my top 10 favorite Lucy episodes of all time.  As I completed this herculean task, I was shocked to see the results.   Most of the episodes were produced within a three season span of the show.   Indeed, that goes to prove that the writing in those years set in Hollywood, Europe, and Connecticut were perhaps the pinnacle of creativity for this program.   Kudos, of course, to all involved and especially friends, the late Madelyn Pugh Davis and Bob Carroll Jr..

And here we go in descending order.  These are the top 10 ILL episodes I can never turn off.
#10   "Job Switching" first aired on 9/15/1952.

Better known as the "Candy Factory" episode.  Indeed, this is the only show from the first years that makes my list.   Many folks consider this the best episode of the series.   It was the second season premiere and yes, it's hysterical.  Truth be told, I thought the first season of ILL was good but way too unrealistic for me.  As the series got older, the writing and the premises got much more sophisticated and grounded.   But, the "Candy Factory" was still sheer brilliance for slapstick.  You have to love Lucy and Ethel putting those bon bons down their dresses.  And this plot was dreamed up by Bob and Madelyn while they were on lunch break at LA's Farmers Market and they watched some candy dippers doing their work.   As a matter of fact, one of them was actually hired for this episode.
#9   "Lucy Does the Tango" first aired on 3/11/1957.

This one makes my list based on sixty-five seconds.   Yep, the longest single recorded laugh in television history when Ricky smashes the eggs hidden in Lucy's blouse.   It was all real and you saw the yolk dripping out of her.  When you next watch this episode, keep your eye on Vivian Vance.  Her look of dread during the infamous tango makes the whole stunt work.  I will repeatedly mention Vance on this list because she was the unsung hero of the series.
#8  "Bon Voyage" first aired 1/16/1956.

By the fifth season of ILL, the show must have been making so much money that they started sinking it into enhanced production values.   So, Desi Arnaz having a mock-up of a cruise ship built on a sound stage in front of a live audience was a no-brainer.  This is perhaps the most intricate of all ILL episodes as there were shots done in a helicopter and lots of stock footage of an ocean liner at sea.   Lucy missing the boat was a plot that was hatched in base reality and that makes it work.    My favorite line was when Ricky called the dock agent.  "Hello, Doc."
#7   "Lucy's Italian Movie" first aired 4/16/1956.

A couple of years ago, CBS colorized this episode and you finally got to see what Lucy looked like soaked in purple grape wine...or juice.  Frankly, it was better to imagine it in black-and-white.  Regardless, more great production values as Desi Arnaz was never one to say "no" to his writers when they came up with an idea.   Rumor has it that the woman Lucy fights in the grape vat took her fisticuffs a little too seriously.  At least, that's what Lucille Ball used to say. Allegedly, the other gal tried to hold her head under grape water.
#6  "The Tour" first aired 5/30/1955.

The "Ricardos Go to Hollywood" storyline was sheer perfection.   This episode was the last episode of the fourth season and serves as a great example of the wonderful run these writers were on at the time.   Now these tour buses are still running rampant all over LA, so the plot is still timely as Lucy and Ethel do their tourist thing.   Watch for the location shot where they get off the tour bus in Beverly Hills to pick a grapefruit off Richard Widmark's tree.   The location is the side street right next to the Arnaz home on Roxbury Drive.  My favorite line is uttered by Lucy on the tour bus.  "And I hear she wears nothing but black laced lingerie...what are you doing?"
#5  "The Star Upstairs" first aired 4/18/1955.

More Hollywood hilarity as Lucy sneaks into a hotel room to get a glimpse of Cornel Wilde, whom I'm thinking nobody even remembers today.   This episode is virtually stolen by two co-stars.  Bobby Jellison as the hotel bellhop in a few of the LA shows is brilliant as he tries to divert Wilde's attention.   And, when Lucy climbs down a cord from the terrace above to the terrace below, watch for Vivian Vance's comedic prowess as she views in horror Lucy dangling outside while Ricky is totally oblivious.   Incredibly masterful.   My favorite line comes from Ricky.  "Oh, she's probably hanging around the hotel some place."
#4  "Lucy and John Wayne" first aired 10/10/1955.

The second part of the two-parter that opened ILL's fifth season.   You know it well.   Lucy and Ethel have vandalized the footprints at Grauman's Chinese Theater and must enlist the aid of John Wayne to get them out of their jam.   Again, the plot was totally plausible but taken in directions that were magical. Wayne displays good comic chops here.   And the scene where Lucy and Ethel struggle to get curlers out of their hair in front of Wayne is terrific.   My favorite line from Lucy:  "When your motor conked out, my motor conked out right along with it."
# 3  "Lucy Visits Grauman's" first aired 10/3/1955.

The first part of the John Wayne storyline is even better.   I mean, it does somehow seem logical for Lucy and Ethel to try and steal John Wayne's footprints on this "routine souvenir hunt."  The way in which the plot unfolds is pure precision.   And, to this day, whenever I have to take out-of-towners to see the footprints on Hollywood Boulevard, this is invariably somebody there standing on Wayne's slab and proclaiming "John Wayne's block is loose."
# 2  "Return Home from Europe" first aired 5/14/1956.

Here's how good ILL's fifth season was.   The Grauman's episode was the season opener and this one, more commonly known as the "Cheese" episode, was the closer.  Indeed, it was almost the series closer as well.   When you watch out, check out Ricky's final speech in the customs office.   It's almost as if he was tying a bow around the premise of the whole series.   Ultimately, they came back for one more year of half-hour shows.   From what we were told by the writers, Bob Carroll Jr. once tried to bring a similar piece of cheese back from Italy.   I doubt he disguised it as a twenty-five-pound baby.  There is a great mock-up of an airplane interior here and perennial Lucy guest star Mary Jane Croft makes the scenes with Lucy and the faux baby work.  The very best line actually comes from Ricky.   "I am not the father of that cheese."
# 1  "LA at Last" first aired 2/7/1955.

This is my desert island ILL episode.   If I'm allowed to watch just one for the rest of my life, it would be this one when they land in Hollywood.  At the beginning, there are some location shots of them pulling into a hotel entrance.   That hotel actually exists about four blocks from my home in LA.  You'd be lucky to get one perfectly crafted scene in a sitcom episode.   In this one, we get two.    The scene with William Holden in the Brown Derby is hysterical, especially when Ethel uses the sewing scissors to cut the spaghetti dangling out of Lucy's mouth.  But, then, we get the closing scene...
...where Lucy's putty nose catches on fire.   Now, this is a scene that Lucille Ball tries to tell us that the smoky nose was an on-set accident.  Um, nope.   We were lucky enough to be shown the actual script and it's written there in the action, which Ball used to call "the black stuff."  It was all planned and rehearsed.   Whatever the case, I've seen this ILL episode perhaps 100 times and I plan to do it again another 100 more.

Sure, there are some episodes I have left out that get honorable mention.   The one where Lucy pulls the emergency cord on the train ("Did you stop this train?"). The one where they're in the rickety motel on the way to California. The show where Lucy and Ethel accidentally knock out the talent agent from Hollywood and, as Ethel combs his hair, she puts the comb in front of his nose to make him look like Adolf Hitler.   Or the classic scene where a pregnant Lucy needs to get to the hospital.   But the above are my top ten and I'm sticking to it.

What are yours?

Dinner last night:  Hot dog at the Grove.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Classic TV Theme Song of the Month - May 2016

Remembering Patty Duke.   And please note the writer of this episode.   Sidney Sheldon!!!

Dinner last night:  Orange Chicken at Panda Express.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Your Weekend Movie Guide for May 2016

Arguably one of the best movie westerns ever made was playing in theaters sixty years ago this month.  If you're one of those people who thought that John Wayne couldn't act, you need to see this film ASAP.

And now, on this May 2016 weekend, we're searching, too.   For something decent to see.   Knowing fully well that we won't find anything the caliber of "The Searchers."   You know the drill, peeps.  I'll wander through the movie pages of the Los Angeles Times and give you my gut reaction to the junk currently unspooling at your local cinema.   

Or maybe you just get yourself a Blu Ray of the movie shown above and have yourself a great night on the couch.

The Angry Birds Movie:   Angry birds tend to shit on newly washed cars.

Money Monster:   George Clooney and Julia Roberts directed by Jodie Foster. On names alone, it should get some attention.

The Meddler:   Reviewed here recently.   Trust me.   It wasn't positive.

A Hologram for the King:   Tom Hanks in a movie that will make zero dollars. See!  It can happen to anybody.

How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town:   Hope it doesn't include Aunt Bee.

Viva;  Everything you wanted to know about a paper towel?

Captain America - Civil War:   Comic books are meant to be read and not seen.

Kill Zone 2:   Shucks, I never saw Kill Zone 1.

The Family Fang:   Reviewed here recently.   Trust me again.  It wasn't positive.

A Bigger Splash:  What you get when Oprah Winfrey dives into a pool?

The Jungle Book:  I hear good things about this reboot of the Disney cartoon reboot of the Sabu movie of the book.

The Lobster:   This better come with butter.

Weiner:   A documentary about that dopey politician with the....

The Nice Guys:  Private eyes in the 70s.   For those craving reruns of "Streets of San Francisco."

OK - Made in America:   A documentary about you-know-who.  Warning: it's over seven hours long!

Neighbors 2 - Sorority:  Seth Rogan and Zac Efron and God help us.

Love and Friendship:  One of those movies set in old aristocracy that just makes you yawn repeatedly.

The Man Who Knew Infinity:  Probably goes on forever.

Mother's Day:  Reviewed here recently.  Not as bad as the critics made it out to be.

Pele - Birth of a Legend:   If  you're dying to see a documentary about soccer...

Sing Street:  A young man comes of age in 1980s Dublin.   Sounds interesting...not.

Back in the Day:  A teen gets involved with the mob in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. I don't think we get to meet Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton.

Hard Sell:   Snobby teens on Long Island.   I see Kristin Chenoweth's name in the cast.   She's probably one of the teens' mothers...right???

Maggie's Plan:  Greta Gerwig as a young New Yorker in love.   Aren't they all?

Manhattan Night:  Adrien Brody as a tabloid journalist.  Investigating Donal Trump no doubt.

A Monster with a Thousand Heads:   Here comes another Donald Trump reference.

Welcome to Happiness:  A children's book author rents an apartment with a magical portal.   Back in the day, this was called a dumb waiter.

Barbershop - The Next Cut:   Spend the money and go to a stylist instead.

The Congressman:  Treat Williams in a true story about a US congressman.   Okay, in which reel does he cheat on his wife?

The Darkness:   Kevin Bacon stars in this story about supernatural stuff in the Grand Canyon, which means there's a bunch of actors in the cast who are now part of that six degrees game.

The Huntsman - Winter's War:   I still don't know what this Huntsman series is about.

Divine Access:  A minister is embarrassed on public access TV.  Probably happens every day in the Midwest.

High Rise:  Virtual class warfare in a big apartment building.  Bernie Sanders cameo?

I Am Wraith:  John Travolta stars.   Three words that should scare anybody.

Keanu:  It ain't about him.

Most Likely to Die:  Actually that would be all of us.

Dinner last night:  Steak and pasta salad.






Thursday, May 19, 2016

Len's Recipe of the Month - May 2016

You'll thank me for this one.   Especially if you have yet to appreciate the wonderful taste of Brussels sprouts.   Here's another one I have tried and enjoyed from the Valerie Bertinelli culinary institute.

Take about 2 pounds of Brussels sprouts.   In a medium pot, boil several inches of salted water and then add the sprouts.  Let them get to know each other for about three or so minutes.  Then drain the sprouts in a colander and rinse them with ice cold water.   Let them stay in the sink.   You have other stuff to do now.

In a decent-size saute pan, heat up two tablespoons of good olive oil.   Add about 1 cup and a half of chopped pancetta.  You can actually buy it already done.   Then add two cloves of chopped garlic.   I didn't have real cloves, but I used some of that garlic paste and it worked just as well.  Let this all get married for about eight minutes.

Now bring the colander of sprouts over from the sink.   You'll probably drip some water on the floor.   Add the sprouts to the pan mixture.  Make sure you distribute the sprouts evenly over the pan.   Let them all get acquainted for about twelve minutes.   Help it along by occasionally stirring.   The sprouts will get a golden brown color.

Just before you are ready to plate it, add a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to the pan.   This will loosen up some of the pancetta bits.

Serve it all.  And watch the smiles.

"Yes, that's what a Brussels sprout tastes like."

Dinner last night:  Thai chopped salad with chicken.




Wednesday, May 18, 2016

This Date in History - May 18

We're celebrating a birthday.   Spoiler alert: it's only one of these two.   The one that is still alive.   More below.

332:  CONSTANTINE THE GREAT ANNOUNCED FREE DISTRIBUTIONS OF FOOD TO THE CITIZENS IN CONSTANTINOPLE.

Meals on Wheels.   Or, more likely, hooves.

526:  JOHN 1 DIES.

Meaning there are going to be 22 more Pope Johns.

1096:  FIRST CRUSADE - ABOUT 800 JEWS ARE MASSACRED IN WORMS, GERMANY.

In case you thought this was an original idea of Adolf Hitler.

1152:  HENRY II OF ENGLAND MARRIES ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE.  

Aquitaine always sounds like a new mineral water drink.

1499:  ALONSO DE OJEDA SETS SAIL FROM CADIZ ON HIS VOYAGE TO WHAT IS NOW VENEZUELA.  

Later on it was a stop for the Love Boat.   Charo was in that episode.

1565:  THE ROYAL AUDIENCIA OF CONCEPCION IS CREATED BY A DECREE OF PHILIP II OF SPAIN.

Done before a live studio audiencia.

1631:  JOHN WINTHROP TAKES THE OATH OF OFFICE AND BECOMES THE FIRST GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS.

Because somebody had to.

1652:  RHODE ISLAND PASSES THE FIRST LAW IN NORTH AMERICA MAKING SLAVERY ILLEGAL.

The littlest state will lead.

1756:  THE SEVEN YEARS' WAR BEGINS WHEN GREAT BRITAIN DECLARES WAR ON FRANCE.

Gee, these countries have never loved each other, have they?

1763:  FIRE DESTROYS A LARGE PART OF MONTREAL.

Mon Dieu!

1804:  NAPOLEON BONAPARTE IS PROCLAIMED EMPEROR OF THE FRENCH BY THE FRENCH SENATE.

Mon Dieu, the Sequel.

1860:  ABRAHAM LINCOLN WINS THE REPUBLICAN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION OVER WILLIAM H,. SEWARD.

I wonder if this was a brokered convention.

1896:  THE US SUPREME COURT RULES IN PLESSY V. FERGUSON THAT THE "SEPARATE BUT EQUAL" DOCTRINE IS CONSTITUTIONAL.

Back when the US Supreme Court was impartial.

1897:  DIRECTOR FRANK CAPRA IS BORN.

Beginning a wonderful life.

1902:  COMPOSER MEREDITH WILLSON IS BORN.

The man responsible for my favorite musical, "The Music Man."

1904:  POLITICIAN JACOB JAVITS IS BORN.   

He was once a colonel.   Who knew?

1910:  THE EARTH PASSES THROUGH THE TAIL OF COMET HAILEY.

That had to hurt.

1912:  SINGER PERRY COMO IS BORN.

Zzzzzzzzzzz.

1917:  WORLD WAR I - THE SELECTIVE SERVICE ACT OF 1917 IS PASSED, GIVING THE PRESIDENT OF THE US THE POWER OF CONSCRIPTION.

Isn't this about the time Woodrow Wilson had a stroke in office?

1920:  POPE JOHN PAUL II IS BORN.

Habeas baby.

1922:  ACTOR BILL MACY IS BORN.

Maude!

1924:  ACTRESS PRISCILLA POINTER IS BORN.

Mother of Pam and Cliff Barnes on TV.   Mother of Amy Irving in real life.

1926:  EVANGELIST AIMEE SEMPLE MCPHERSON DISAPPEARS WHILE VISITING A CALIFORNIA BEACH.

Okay, who buried the preacher in the sand?

1928:  ACTOR PERNELL ROBERTS IS BORN.

Adam Cartwright!   Trapper John, MD!!

1931:  ACTOR ROBERT MORSE IS BORN.

How To Slide Down a Birth Canal Without Really Trying.

1933:  NEW DEAL - PRESIDENT FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT SIGNS AN ACT CREATING THE TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY.

Never became a song like "Harper Valley PTA."

1934:  ACTOR DWAYNE HICKMAN IS BORN.

Happy birthday to Dobie Gillis, not Maynard G. Krebs.

1953:  JACKIE COCHRAN BECOMES THE FIRST WOMAN TO BREAK THE SOUND BARRIER.

Too many jokes to choose just one.

1969:  APOLLO 10 IS LAUNCHED.

The one in two months will be the big deal.

1980:  MOUNT ST. HELENS ERUPTS IN THE STATE OF WASHINGTON, KILLING 57 PEOPLE.

Boy, that's hot.

1981:  ACTOR ARTHUR O'CONNELL DIES.

Great character actor.

1990:  ACTRESS JILL IRELAND DIES.

Mrs. Charles Bronson.

1992:  ACTOR MARSHALL THOMPSON DIES.

Daktari!

1995:  ACTRESS ELIZABETH MONTGOMERY DIES.

Wiggle your nose now.

2014:  SINGER JERRY VALE DIES.

Pass the meatballs.

Dinner last night:   Leftover tortellini.