Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Spring Has Sprung

Now you don't really get spring here in California.   Oh, sure, you'll get some warmer days when the temperature actually varies by about ten degrees.   It will rain less than once in every ten days.   Of course, with all the rain this past winter, things are a little greener than they have been.  And that has resulted in these huge poppy fields like pictured above.   You know the folks back East drive around looking for leaves in October and November.   This spring, people are motoring all around for the requisite poppy field photo op.

I grew up on the East Coast in Mount Vernon, New York.   Now there's a place where spring really sprung.  The winter coats got moved into the back of the closet.  The Mets had started their season at Shea Stadium so WOR Channel 9 would be tuned into my television now until October 1.   My grandmother would be tinkering in the yard with her plants.  Sure, her beloved rhubarb patch was perennial, but there would be other plantings.  Perhaps some cucumbers.   Almost always a few tomato plants, the fruits of which we would enjoy for about three days at the end of August.

But there were a couple of harbingers of the season that would scare the shit out of me.   One usually began with a request from my grandmother to my father.

"Harry, don't you think it's time to take down the storm windows and put up the screens?"

Gulp.

For those of you not from cold weather states, your houses frequently came with heavy duty windows that you put in place for the winter.   Then you removed them in the warm weather and replaced them with screens that allowed you a mosquito-free environment.  Whatever, the process of making this change in October and usually April or May always spooked me out.   My father naturally needed an extra set of hands to get this done.  Those would be mine.  And I always was convinced that this would result in the mangling of my dad.

Why?   Well, the first floor...which was my grandmother's part of the house...was a piece of cake.  Naturally, the storm windows were heavy and the screens were light.   But the trading out on the front porch was a snap.  Even I could do it without screwing it up and that's saying something.

It was the front windows of our second floor that were the horror show for me. Because it required my dad to get on the roof over the front porch.  First off, he would hand me the detached storm windows through the actual window.  To do so, my father would remove and then back up on the roof in order to hand it to me.  

This was my family's annual circus act.  Because I would watch my dad walk backwards on the roof towards the edge as I grappled to get hold of the storm window inside.   Indeed, there were five different windows we needed to do this for.   I held my breath on every one of them.   I was convinced that the slightest slip from me would have my father sailing off the roof into Grandma's prickly hedges below.

Once this daredevil stunt was complete, we were not done.  And my fears would be renewed.   Because there was an acrobatic part to get the screens up there.   

My job was to get the screens out of the basement.   First I would hose them down.  Then I would move them to whatever part of the outside house where they would live till the fall.   Again, the second floor was an issue but Dad had a foolproof method to getting this solved.   

I would stand on the steps to the front porch and raise the screens enough so my dad could reach them from the roof.  Okay, again, my heart was in my throat.   I was always convinced that my father would have to reach too far and then come tumbling off the roof into a mangled mess in front of me.

It never happened but the fear was there every single spring.  That's an awful lot for a ten-year-old to handle.

So what was my other springtime fear?  Well, come back next Sunday to find out.

Dinner last night:  Corned beef reuben panini at the Arclight.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Classic TV Theme Song of the Month - April 2017

When the best thing about a TV show is the theme song...

Dinner last night:  Leftover meat loaf.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Your Weekend Movie Guide for April 2017

Back in the day, the holidays meant a trip to see what Radio City Music Hall had as their main attraction.   Sixty years ago during Easter week, the movie was "Funny Face."  I assume there were lines around the block.

This Easter at the multiplex, will there be lines?  I doubt it as Hollywood saves their big stuff for the upcoming summer season.  You know the drill, guys.  I'll zip through the movie pages of the LA Times and give you my gut reaction to the garbage being dumped at our cinematic feet.  

Oh, if we could only see "The Glory of Easter" one more time...

Gifted:  I hear good buzz on this tale of a super smart girl.   Did she end up working for NASA?

Their Finest:  A comedy about London during the bombing of 1940.  Well, I guess somebody found it funny.

Colossal:   I guess it's big.

All These Sleepless Nights:   For anybody who voted for Hillary.

Get Out:   I've heard good things.   No longer does that automatically get me into the theater.

Going In Style:   A remake from the late 70s.  Is it better?  Probably not given the participation of Michael Caine, Alan Arkin, and Morgan Freeman who will do any script at any time.

Ghost in the Shell:  I doubt this is about Casper.

The Zookeeper's Wife:  Well, somebody's got to be married to him.

T2 Trainspotting:  A sequel from a film made over 20 years ago.   Talk about slow development.

Beauty and the Beast:   It's made a gazillion dollars because people just love the original cartoon.   Shot for shot, the live action is the same movie.  So how come it's a half hour longer?

Personal Shopper:  Been out for weeks and I still have no idea what this is.

Wilson:  Woody Harrelson stars and I don't think it's a remake about President Woodrow Wilson.

The Boss Baby:  Alec Baldwin voices in a cartoon about...oh, who am I kidding?  I was out at Alec Baldwin.

Norman - The Rise and Fall of a New York Fixer:  It stars Richard Gere as a guy who once did a favor for the prime minister of Israel.   If you insist.

My Entire High School is Sinking Into the Sea:  I wish.

Tommy's Honour:  About father-son golfers.....zzzzzzz.

Truman:   And I doubt this is about Harry S.

The Outcasts:  All about uncool kids.   If they are so uncool, how do they get their own movie?

The Fate of The Furious:   Number 123 in a series.

Little Boxes:  A bi-racial family from NY moves to a small town.  Which reminds me...there were no Black people in Mayberry.

The Lost City of Z:   I'm sorry I missed the Lost City of X and Y.

The Mason Brothers:   It's not a documentary about the guys who make all those jars.

Smurfs - The Lost Village:   Why is anybody looking for it?

CHIPS:  Because Hollywood is completely devoid of original ideas.

Life:   A cereal.   And a board game.

Logan:   You like Hugh Jackman?  You go.

Unforgettable:  Sorry, you Nat King or Natalie Cole fans, it ain't about them.

Let It Fall - Los Angeles 1982-92:  A documentary about the decade leading up to the Rodney King verdict.  See it nightly before the 7PM curfew.  It's playing in theaters, but you should also know that ABC-TV is telecasting it tonight.

Karl Marx City:  A documentary about most major metropolises in America.

A Night Without Armor:  A police captain and a pediatric nurse talk about their lives.   Sounds well meaning but dull.

Phoenix Forgotten:  Done.

The Promise:  Christian Bale in a drama about the Ottoman Empire.   And the sheer mention of that conjures up all bad memories from 10th grade World History.

A Quiet Passion:   Cynthia Nixon in a drama about Emily Dickinson.  And the sheer mention of that conjures up all bad memories from 11th grade English.

Free Fire:  About when Boston was violent in the 70s.   Seriously?  I thought all they cared about was Bucky Fucking Dent's homerun in 1978.

Dinner last night:  Meat loaf and broccoli.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Please Make It Stop!

Here's Kiefer Sutherland as the President of the US on "Designated Survivor," a show I generally like even though it's completely ridiculous.  But if you're not watching his character govern the country from the Oval Office, don't sweat it. There are almost a half-dozen other Presidents that you can enjoy on other programs.

Let's see.   There's Kevin Spacey on "House of Cards."  Elizabeth Marvel on "Homeland."   Keith Carradine on "Madam Secretary."   And these are just the shows I watch.   I know there are others.  But, the office of the Chief Executive has been used repeatedly over the years.   There were four or five different Presidents during the run of the original "24."  And, of course, there was that lunatic Martin Sheen who actually really thought he was President of the United States on the grossly overwritten and overrated "West Wing."

Meanwhile, these leaders are not just dealing with Congressional bills or greeting boy scouts on the West Lawn.   Nope.   Our TV Presidents are dealing with terrorists, assassination attempts, Capitol explosions, and scandals.  It's apparently prime time TV's new "go-to" when it comes to plot devices.

Now, there was a recent asinine article in the Hollywood Reporter where several prominent show runners were interviewed about writing TV in the age of Trump.   How did his election affect their story lines, especially since the majority of the production people in Hollywood are still in denial that he won? Well, be assured that these folks are coping and working diligently to include this real life dilemma into their shows.

I've got a clever idea.   Why don't you ignore it all and simply entertain us in other ways?  

First off, when shows like this work current events into their plots, it immediately dates and depreciates the program quicker than a new Hyundai driving off the car lot.  Five years later, are you going to be really watching a repeat episode of "Veep?"  Including timely references is the death knell for any TV show.   "Murphy Brown," which went heavy up on Dan Quayle jokes, is paying the price now.  It is rarely rerun and DVD sales never got past the first season.  Nobody cares what happened when Murphy had her baby.   

There are many other examples of shows that focused on current events and lived to regret it.   The shelf life of some television these days is shorter than the six-pack of Thomas' English Muffins you bought last weekend.   And, as a result in a decade from now, retro TV networks like Antenna TV and Me TV, currently showing reruns of "Hazel" and "Everybody Loves Raymond," will still be showing reruns of "Hazel" and "Everybody Loves Raymond."  Given the state of what will be rewatchable in ten years, there's probably going to be a TV network (probably TBS) that runs nothing but "The Big Bang Theory" episodes.

The other quibble I have with all these politically-heavy shows is that...well...they are all politically-heavy.  After watching the news, don't we need a freakin' break?  How about something that makes you smile or...perish the thought...laugh?  The thing I am hearing that was not included in that dippy Hollywood Reporter piece was that we might be trending back to more comfortable and easy-on-the-mind television.   I vote "yea."   Some of the most watched shows on Netflix are "Friends," "Frasier," and "Cheers."  Hmmm.  I wonder why.  Frasier and Niles never shared their thoughts on Trump or the Clintons.  We have 13 episodes written of a new project and there was one single political joke about Obamacare.   One.  It's gone now because even that is already dated.

Don't we all need a rest?  Look at everything that comes out of super-lberal Hollywood which constantly tries to lead us all in several verses of "Kumbaya." Meanwhile, did you watch any of the recent "24" reboot?  Let's see.  All the villains were Muslim terrorists.   There was a Black gang war and they all had guns.   And, oh, yeah, in the middle of rush hour, a bomb blew up the middle of the George Washington Bridge.

Yes, let's have more shows like that, jerks.  Perhaps we'll get a break soon.   The writers may go on strike.

Dinner last night:  Chicken tenders plus sauteed spinach, mushrooms, and garlic.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

This Date in History - April 19

Happy birthday to Elinor Donahue.  This is probably the only blog in the world sporting a picture of her today.

65 AD:  THE FREEDMAN MILICHUS BETRAYS PISO'S PLOT TO KILL THE EMPEROR NERO AND ALL THE CONSPIRATORS ARE ARRESTED.

Too bad.   Would have saved a fortune on arson insurance.

797:  EMPRESS IRENE ORGANIZES A CONSPIRACY AGAINST HER SON, THE BYZANTINE EMPEROR CONSTANTINE VI.

April 19...a day to plot overthrows apparently.

1529:  THE BEGINNING OF THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION.  

My pal Martin Luther must be in the middle of this somehow.

1539:  CHARLES V AND PROTESTANTS SIGN THE TREATY OF FRANKFURT.

With mustard and relish.

1770:  MARIE ANTOINETTE MARRIES LOUIS XVI OF FRANCE IN A PROXY WEDDING.

A head of her time.

1775:  THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION BEGINS WITH AN AMERICAN VICTORY IN CONCORD.

USA!  USA!

1810:  VENEZUELA ACHIEVES HOME RULE WHEN GOVERNOR EMPARAN IS REMOVED BY THE PEOPLE OF CARACAS AND A JUNTA IS INSTALLED.

Junta...always loved that word.

1882:  THEORIST CHARLES DARWIN DIES.

Evolve this.

1892:  CHARLES DURYEA CLAIMS TO HAVE DRIVEN THE FIRST AUTOMOBILE IN THE US.

Probably a false claim because I never heard of anybody driving a new Duryea.

1927:  MAE WEST IS SENTENCED TO TEN DAYS IN JAIL FOR OBSCENITY FOR HER PLAY SEX.

That's play sex as in theatrical production, you dirty minds, you.

1930:  ACTOR DICK SARGENT IS BORN.

Darrin #2.

1935:  ACTOR DUDLEY MOORE IS BORN.

Probably stayed at the same height for the rest of his life.

1937:  ACTRESS ELINOR DONAHUE IS BORN.

A good friend of mine is a good friend of her son.   If anybody is playing Six Degrees of Elinor Donahue.

1943:  WORLD WAR II - IN POLAND, THE WARSAW GHETTO UPRISING BEGINS AS GERMAN TROOPS ROUND UP THE REMAINING JEWS.

Paying attention, President Roosevelt?

1948:  BURMA JOINS THE UNITED NATIONS.

Shave.

1956:  ACTRESS GRACE KELLY MARRIES PRINCE RAINIER OF MONACO.

Based on his looks, he did very, very well here.

1971:  CHARLES MANSON IS SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR CONSPIRACY IN THE TATE-LABIANCA MURDERS.

And this guy still walks the earth.

1971:  SPORTSCASTER RUSS HODGES DIES.

Also sentenced to death today.   Sort of.

1987:  THE SIMPSONS FIRST APPEAR AS A SERIES OF SHORTS ON THE TRACEY ULLMAN SHOW.

After all these years, wow, that's a lot of yellow ink.

1995:  THE OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING.

Remember it like it was just 22 years ago.

2005:  CARDINAL JOSEPH RATZINGER IS ELECTED TO THE PAPACY AND BECOMES POPE BENEDICT XVI.

Later quit when he discovered he had to work Christmas Eve.

2005:  ACTRESS RUTH HUSSEY DIES.

Listed here only because the last name makes me laugh.

2011:  FIDEL CASTRO RESIGNS AS FIRST SECRETARY OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY.   

Wonder what kind of 401K plan the Communist Party has.

2013:  JOURNALIST AL NEUHARTH DIES.

Founded USA Today which nobody reads unless they're in a hotel on a business trip.

2013:  BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING SUSPECT TAMERIAN TSARNAEV IS KILLED IN A SHOOTOUT WITH POLICE.

As depicted in the movie Patriots Day, this guy was one dumb terrorist.

2016:  BASEBALL PITCHER MILT PAPPAS DIES.

Gets listed here because, frankly, April 19 isn't a particularly busy day for dead celebrities.

Dinner last night:  Leftover pasta.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Beating a Dead....Whatever

Okay, in case you were on another planet for Easter week, you certainly know all about this story.   This is United Air Lines' nightmare, but a comedy writer's dream.   You've no doubt seen the jokes like the one above.

"Southwest:  We beat the competition, not you."

"Fly the Unfriendly Skies of United." 

Or this visual...
Yep, if this was your week to buy United stock, well......

So, there's lots and lots going on with this story.  First things first, there is no way in Hell that this should have happened to any passenger on any airline.  No way, no how.

But...

As we learn more about the unlucky passenger, Dr. David Dao, I'd like to state emphatically that, if somebody had to have this shit kicked out of him, it was this piece of crap.   Have you read his backstory?  Medical licenses revoked repeatedly for inappropriate use of his prescription pad.   Trading OxyContin for blow jobs and other sexual favors.  A jerk that, while he didn't deserve this treatment, merited the sucker punches anyway.  Sadly, as much of a lowlife that he is, this shithead will wind up with millions and millions of dollars.

Now, as much as I have flown over the past two decades, I myself, as an exclusive American Airlines million mile flyer, have never witnessed such a catastrophe in person.   Oh, sure, I always hear the announcements before you board for oversold flights.   But I've never seen anybody forcibly removed from the aircraft.   And I wonder how I would react if the computer metrics had randomly selected me like they chose this David Dao asshole.

Hmmm.  I hear my father's voice from years ago.   As soon as I became a teenager and started to drive, my dad gave me words of advice that I have adhered to for life.

"If police or the authorities ever tell you to do something, you do it.  You don't argue.  You simply say 'yes' and comply."

Okay, a passive approach indeed.  But, according to my father, it's the smart thing to do and you can always argue your point later in front of a judge.  

So, if I had been asked to give up my seat, I would have done so willingly.  And negotiated a better reward.  I would not have screamed like a banshee or run around the cabin like a lunatic.  Hopefully, I'd have an extra $1500 to two grand in my pocket for my inconvenience.

That said, the issue here is that United really goofed in how they handled this situation.  Most news articles quoting flight attendants say that all of this overbooking nonsense should have handled at the gate before the passengers even got on.

And here is buried the subtext that we are all ignoring.   And I witnessed for myself a airport gate snafu three weeks ago that perfectly illustrates the problem.

I board my American flight back to LAX from JFK.  Sitting comfortably in my exit row seat while they are getting ready to close the cabin door, they make the announcement that this is Flight 117 to Los Angeles.   I note a commotion in the back.   Five minutes later, two Hispanic women are escorted off the plane.  We are delayed by about a half-hour but ultimately do depart.

Mid-trip, on one of my frequent strolls through the cabin to counter any DVT symptoms, I ask the friendly flight attendant about what had transpired.

It seems that the two women, when they heard the flight was bound for LA, got agitated.   They were supposed to be on a flight to Miami!  When one of the crew asked to see their boarding passes, they replied that they had left them in McDonald's.   That's what got them bounced.   Ultimately, it was an innocent mistake.

Sort of.   Because I began to question how they managed to get on the plane at all without boarding passes!!!  I thought back to when I boarded.   I noted the two gate agents seemed to be new.   They were easily confused and looked like it was Day One on the job.  And this pair clearly had their hands full boarding a full flight.

So, there's your problem, ladies and germs.  Air travel in 2017 is so affordable and accessible for all.  And, to accommodate the reduced fares, airlines are using other tactics to show a profit.  Like reducing the number of gate agents. And perhaps hiring the less qualified.   That's how two Hispanic women got on my flight without boarding passes.   And that's all how United completely bungled the situation last week.

Anybody for Amtrak?  Or Greyhound?

Dinner last night:  Linguine with tomatoes and Kalamata olives.






Monday, April 17, 2017

Monday Morning Video Laugh - April 17, 2017

Genius moments from Johnny Carson and Steve Martin.

Dinner last night: My current favorite dinner - New York steak with pan roasted tomatoes in Balsamic jam.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Easter Finery

Jesus Christ is risen today.  Hallelujah!!  Hopefully he will forgive you for wearing hats like this.

Yes, we celebrate the holiday where the most outlandish of the absurd get paraded up and down Fifth Avenue in New York.   I am glad I never got sucked into this nonsense.

Or did I?  Indeed, Easter is the lost holiday for me.  Oh, I'll go to church, for sure.  But, after that, I usually head home, switch to my play clothes, and watch a baseball game.  Even better for me this year.   I'm headed to Dodger Stadium for an afternoon game.   I might as well.   If you're not exchanging gifts, what the hell is the point of a holiday?  

I didn't have that luxury when I was a gift. Because Easter was the annual family photo op day.  The women in my family decked out in their finest.   And me winding up in some ridiculous get-up that no self-assured five-year-old should ever endure.  For instance...
Yep, I've shown this before and it's embarrassing all over again.  This is the Easter picture during my Bing Crosby period. I don't look happy in this photo. Would you? I look like some old Jewish ex-vaudevillean waiting for a bus on the Grand Concourse. Or one of those Jerry Mahoney dummies. With emphasis on the word "dummy." This is why all children, at some point in time, hate their parents.
To make matters worse, my father was going through his creative period in playing with his prized Argus Technicolor camera.  

"Lenny, go stand by that tree and pretend you're looking for something."

Like what?   My dignity.  That's AWOL.

As I look at these Easter photos all over again, I can feel the shirt tightening around my neck one more time.  As if I'm being choked by that fucking bow tie. Now I know why they didn't flinch when I told them I wanted to live at a college that was less than 10 miles from my house.   They knew these pictures existed and there was a price that needed to be paid.

At least, the three of us are captured for posterity in this one. Knowing my mother's fashion sense, I have no idea why she's wearing a red dress that clearly clashes with my red sport jacket.

A RED SPORTS JACKET!!!  With something in the pocket that might be a handkerchief.  What the hell is going on in my life at this juncture???  And, from the twisted expression on my face, I'm pondering that very question at that exact moment.  Either that or perhaps I'm the youngest person to ever suffer a stroke.  

In retrospect, I realize that my dad wore a suit rarely.  On Easter or whenever somebody in the family wound up being "stretched out" down at Suchy's Funeral Parlor in the Bronx.  From what I see here, he wore the fancier outfits well.  I doubt Mom wore this dress to any wakes.  On second thought, she might have.   It all depends on who it was.

Back to the RED SPORTS JACKET, there is a follow-up story.   When I previously posted this photo in a blog entry, a good friend of mine from grade school immediately recognized it.   Not from me, but from her brother wearing the same jacket.   As we figured out, my mom used to give my friend's mother clothes that I outgrew.  Hopefully, they didn't hand it down any further and simply garbage bagged it at some point.  

Happy Easter, gang.  Time to put on my Dodger jersey.

Dinner last night:  Moo shu pork from Century Dragon.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Classic Movie Trailer of the Month - April 2017

What were you expecting this month?  White Christmas?

Dinner last night:  Homemade pizza with Kalamata olives.

Friday, April 14, 2017

How To Promote Easter At Your Church










Dinner last night:  Barbecue chopped salad.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Morons of the Month - April 2017

After a few months of a personal cleansing of all things political from my system, this recent chart from the "news" network MS-LSD gave me pause again to address the lunacy all around us.

In this incredibly bi-polar, manic depressive society we live in, it's fascinating to watch the talking points from both sides.   Indeed, what was an issue for Republicans the last eight years is now a gut wrencher for the Democrats?  I love how this flip flops depending upon on who is in the White House.   It's like each party completely forgets their own argument for or against.

Among the many issues that are always debated ad nauseum by the assholes that run our federal, state, and local governments is the vacation time of our leadership.   Right now, Trump is on the hot seat because he seems to go to Florida every single week.   Yes, every time a President moves his location, there is a large tax payer cost for gassing up the plane, moving relatives, Secret Service, etc..

Well, you see that totally "factual" publication Politico is showing just how much Trump is draining the travel budget compared to the previous idiot who lived at 16oo Pennsylvania Avenue.  Okay, I am astounded by the logic used here.  And you have to live in Los Angeles to know that the Obama numbers are...well...under reported.  

This is a guy who made almost 50 different fund raising trips to California as he courted the dastardly 1 percent of the Hollywood community who are stupid in their own right.   Every time this ass wipe showed up here, traffic was tied up for days in a complete disregard for the common citizen.   I once was stuck two blocks from my house for three hours because there was a 50 percent chance the Presidential motorcade was going to come down my block.   

Cops working overtime.   People stuck in traffic burning gas.   And the guy was not doing any sort of business that involved the state of California.   None of those costs are reflected in the numbers on this chart.

Of course, this debate is always cyclical.   Democrats complain about Trump, Bush 1, Bush 2, and Reagan.   Republicans complain about Obama, Clinton, and Carter.   The same arguments get trotted out, only worded differently.   It's part of the mayhem and gridlock that is destroying this country systematically.   So, you idiots on both sides of the aisle, keep griping about Florida vacations and golf trips and excursions to Hawaii.

While all Presidents travels, the rest of us are going no place fast.

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


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

This Date in History - April 12

A tough day to be king...or US President, for that matter.  Read and learn.

240:  SHAPUR I IS CROWNED AS KING OF THE SASANIAN EMPIRE.

A tough day for whoever he was succeeding.

467:  ANTHEMIUS IS ELEVATED TO EMPEROR OF THE WESTERN ROMAN EMPIRE.

I guess a national song to him would be called the Anthemius Anthem.

627:  KING EDWIN OF NORTHUMBRIA IS CONVERTED TO CHRISTIANITY.

A tough day for whatever religion he was leaving.

1167:  KING KARL SVERKERSSON OF SWEDEN IS MURDERED ON VISINGSO.

Now that really is a bad day for him.

1606:  THE UNION FLAG IS ADOPTED AS THE FLAG OF ENGLISH AND SCOTTISH SHIPS.

You don't hear much about the Scotland Navy.

1820:  ALEXANDER YPSILANTIS IS DECLARED LEADER OF FILIKI ETERIA, A SECRET ORGANIZATION TO OVERTHROW OTTOMAN RULE OVER GREECE.

A tough day to be a lot of things here.

1861:  AMERICAN CIVIL WAR - BATTLE OF FORT SUMTER - THE WAR BEGINS WITH CONFEDERATE FORCES FIRING ON THE FORT.

Enjoy it.   This won't end well.

1865:  AMERICAN CIVIL WAR - MOBILE, ALABAMA FALLS TO THE UNION ARMY.

Told ya.

1877:  THE UNITED KINGDOM ANNEXES THE TRANSVAAL.

The who?  The what?

1912:  NURSE CLARA BARTON DIES.

No donuts will help now.

1916:  AUTHOR BEVERLY CLEARY IS BORN.

I read all her books in grade school.   No, really.

1917:  WORLD WAR I - CANADIAN FORCES SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETE THE TAKING OF VIMY RIDGE FROM THE GERMANS.

And you thought they only played hockey.

1926:  ACTRESS JANE WITHERS IS BORN.

Josephine the Plumber!

1927:  CHIANG KAI-SHEK ORDERS THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CHINA MEMBERS EXECUTED IN SHANGHAI.

Isn't that a little extreme?

1932:  ENTERTAINER TINY TIM IS BORN.

He tiptoed through the tulips.  Now he's under them.

1934:  THE STRONGEST WIND GUST IN THE WORLD AT THE TIME OF 231 MPH OCCURS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE.

I wonder what the Real Feel temperature was.

1945:  US PRESIDENT FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT DIES IN OFFICE AND HARRY TRUMAN BECOMES PRESIDENT.

FDR's last words:  "You better get my mistress out of here before Eleanor gets home."

1947:  TV HOST DAVID LETTERMAN IS BORN.

Top Ten Reasons Why I Don't Care.

1955:  THE POLIO VACCINE, DEVELOPED BY DR. JONAS SALK, IS DECLARED SAFE AND EFFECTIVE.

Okay, I'll take a shot...ouch.

1961:  THE SOVIET COSMONAUT YURI GAGARIN BECOMES THE FIRST HUMAN TO TRAVEL INTO OUTER SPACE.

They shot him up there because they ran out of monkeys and dogs.

1980:  SAMUEL DOE TAKES CONTROL OF LIBERIA IN A COUP D'ETAT.

Ousting his brother John.

1981:  BOXER JOE LOUIS DIES.

Eight...nine...ten.

1981:  THE FIRST LAUNCH OF A COLUMBIA SPACE SHUTTLE.

January 1986 is coming.

1989:  ACTIVIST ABBIE HOFFMAN DIES.

And none too soon.

1989:  BOXER SUGAR RAY ROBINSON DIES.

See Joe Louis.

1992:  EURO DISNEYLAND OPENS.

With Euro long lines.

1999:  US PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON IS CITED FOR CONTEMPT OF COURT FOR GIVING FALSE STATEMENTS IN A CIVIL LAWSUIT.

All politics aside, he really remains, to this day, a dirty guy.

2009:  PORN STAR MARILYN CHAMBERS DIES.

And, oddly enough, she was still making movies in 2011.

2016:  ACTRESS ANNE JACKSON DIES.

Well, with husband Eli gone...

Dinner last night:  Chinese vegetables and noodles.






Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Getting Smaller

Don't get me wrong, folks.   A mediocre episode of "The Big Bang Theory" is ten times better than anything else on prime time TV.   Nobody was a bigger fan of this show when it premiered ten years ago than I was.   And I was one of the people who was watching the program before anybody else.

But, as TV life spans will always dictate, nothing is forever.   And the sad pronouncement I have to ask is that TBBT has probably its better days in the proverbial rear view mirror.

When it originally came on, I couldn't fathom that this show would become the worthy successor to Friends on Thursday nights.   Indeed, it fell into that status when the producers wisely added the female characters played by Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik to the dynamic.  Suddenly, the show worked itself into a Comic Con edition of Friends with three weekly subplots that utilized all the characters.   They also wound up with their own version of Ross and Rachel as the characters of Leonard and Penny would fall in and out of love.

However, the first misstep for me was the ultimate marriage of those two.   Traditionally a sitcom's kiss of death, the union of Penny and Leonard didn't necessarily add new energy.   Indeed, their plots got a little duller.

The same can be said for Sheldon and Amy.   Once they hooked up, a little bit of the tension disappeared and now their relationship has been reduced to punching bag humor.

I started to really notice the sameness during last year's ninth season episodes. Hadn't they done this before?   I note that a lot of the writing staff has been intact for the whole run.  Are they bored?

In the current tenth season, you can see that the producers are desperately trying to mix it up.   And are now focusing in a fatal mood on the character of Raj played by Kunal Nayyar.   This is unfortunately sounding the death knell as both the character and the actor have been virtually unnecessary since Day One.  To make matters worse, Nayyar has always been the weakest actor of the cast.   Now, by concentrating storylines on him, they are just amplifying his inadequacies.  

You may have read that CBS just renewed TBBT for two seasons, which will take it up to its inevitable twelfth season series finale.  I will keep watching, but I am looking at the show now more with fond memories than new flights of comedic wonder.   

Yep, as series goes, seven years might have been enough for Sheldon and company.   

Dinner last night:  Beef and garlic stir fry.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday Morning Video Laugh - April 10, 2017

Tighten those hair connections.

Dinner last night:  Pasta primavera at Le Petit Bistro.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Sunday Memory Drawer - The Great Lenten Conundrum

As we begin the holiest of Christian weeks, I think back to my youth.  As a kid, my Protestant upbringing was infused regularly by my parents and my grandparents, even though they were not frequent churchgoers.  But, I am thankful that they did introduce me to some faith.   Back then, I would give my religious fervor at an 8 or a 9 on a 10 point scale.   Oddly enough, even though I still go to church every Sunday, I would say my belief barometer has sunk to a 4 or a 5 on the same measurement.   Maybe it's something that happens when you get older.   Who can figure?

When I was a youngster, I was all in.  And that was not the easiest thing back on South Fifteenth Avenue in Mount Vernon, New York.   Trust me on this.  I grew up in a neighborhood that was predominantly Italian, which meant that it was also predominantly Catholic.   In fact, I was the lone Protestant on the block as well as the only one of my play group that attended public school.  That made me instantly out of sync.  When they had days off for All Saints Day and the Assumption, I was off for the Jewish high holy days.  The public school students weren't necessarily followers of Yom Kippur, but the faculty sure as heck was. At an early age, I realized the upside and the downside of being Lutheran.   There was never any real eating restrictions---thumbs up.   But you got major league screwed on holidays---thumbs down.   When was the last time you got to stay home from school for Pentecost?

Being the religious outsider, I lost out on participating in all active arguments on saints. I could tell you the line-ups of every major league baseball team, but couldn't tell the difference between an Ignatius or a Basil. I also never got to chime in on the unified hatred all my friends had for some teacher like Sister Mary Sinutab, who allegedly wielded a mean ruler full of 2 inch nails.

And, apparently, I was missing out on something else in those schools. So said my next door neighbor Monte.


Monte was an A+ student at one of the Catholic schools, one of those places where all the kids were forced to wear chocolate-colored pants with chocolate-colored jackets and chocolate-colored ties. I used to get to eat over his house from time to time. One night after dinner, instead of tuning into "Get Smart," Monte pulled out a school workbook and proceeded to instruct me in the Catholic faith. Per his teacher, Sister Margaret Advil, I, as a Protestant, was going to Hell. I was not to pass Go. I was not to collect 200 dollars. 


In short, a one way ticket, all expenses paid and no questions asked, to H E Double Hockey Sticks. 


To further explain my impending peril, he turned to the page in his religious schoolbook where they apparently segregated the Protestants. There was a cartoon of a small boy. That was me, Monte said. In the center of the boy's chest was a black circle. That was the dirt on my inner soul for being a Protestant.

I began to rub my chest. Could I feel this stain growing inside of me? Was that cough I was getting a result of this or just a second hand by-product from my mother's cigarettes? I wondered if my parents or my grandparents at home knew if they were doomed as well.

Monte also let me in on a little more magic he learned from his school. On Good Friday every year, between the hours of 12 Noon and 3PM, the skies around the world get dark, as God weeps over the crucifixion of Jesus. When my nine-year-old logic tried to challenge Monte on this, I was rebuffed. It's impossible that it gets darker all over the world, I contended. But, no, I was wrong, according to Monte who studied at the feet of Sister Alice Robitussin.


Good Friday came a few weeks later. And wouldn't you know it? The darkest clouds ever blanketed the sky right between 12 Noon and 3PM. Amazing! Monte was a genius. Obviously, that Martin Luther was a real snake oil salesman. Where do I sign up to be a Catholic? How fast can I get my soul cleaned and can they hem my new chocolate-colored pants at the same time?


Well, I noticed that nobody else really talked about the fact that the skies got dark that afternoon. My parents didn't mention it. My grandmother said nothing. Walter Cronkite did not make it a lead story on the nightly news. Monte and his teachings were exposed even further when subsequent Good Fridays turned out to be totally lovely days. And, when my grandfather died a few years later, nobody at the funeral talked about his black hole or the fact that he was in Hell as we spoke.


Over time, I came to learn about the intricacies of all religions and made my own choices as wisely as my knowledge could sustain. Hopefully, Monte's school workbook has been discontinued at Sacred Heart School. I can only imagine what else was included in the curriculum back then. Dick and Jane Stone a Presbyterian?


As for Monte himself, the A plus student hit the skids big time in high school. He went a little crazy via drugs, etc.. He still lives in the same house he grew up in. He buried his parents (probably in the backyard). And he looks like somebody on an open call for "Helter Skelter: The Musical" with wardrobe from the Charles Manson collection.  I've heard subsequently that he had a very prestigious career at something or another.  


Usually once a year on one of my NY trips, I take a drive down the old block. It has turned over several times economically and ethnically. All the homes look like liquor storefronts in the worst areas of the Bronx.



I have noticed Monte's house painted lime green. The front yard is covered in weeds. It is a complete eyesore. And there in the front stood Mountainman Monte. A homeless man with an address. I thought about stopping for a second. But I drove on.  Indeed, I am happy that, as a child, he had a belief that gave me some comfort.   And I was also content that I had mine.  

Hey, who knows who has the right path?   At least we all have one to take.

Dinner last night:  Angel hair pasta with bacon and tomatoes.