Monday, July 31, 2017

Monday Morning Video Laugh - July 31, 2017

Remember when Liz and Dick met Lucy...

Dinner last night:  Dodger Dog at the game.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Dad's Annual Two Weeks Off

Aw, how cute.   Making friends at such an early age.   Even if they weren't real.

The memory is vivid.   We had taken a trip to Storyland in Lake George, New York.   I can remember it because my father was in his photography period with his Argus Technicolor camera.  Ah, summer memories that last a lifetime. Except my father transferred all those photos to slides and they faded fast.

But it takes me back to those days of youth.  And it was annual clockwork.  I've written here before...

My dad would take his two weeks of vacation every year at the same time. The last week of July and the first week of August. Smack in the middle of the summer. And, very early on in my kid years, this would be the time we would pack ourselves into a car and travel someplace. Loaded down with juice and lots of plums and peaches for the road. And usually Colorforms to keep me occupied. I couldn't bring comic books along to read in the car. I did that once. The decoration I upchucked onto the side of Dad's green Buick wasn't exactly Jackson Pollock.

We only went as far as a one-day drive could take us. Perhaps a long one-day drive, but one day nevertheless. So, essentially, our radius was about 300 to 400 miles. No more. No less. As a matter of fact, I never flew on an airplane until I got to college. I think about this every time I see some five-year-old throwing Cheerios around on one of my cross country flights.

Ideally, my folks and I would travel with another family. Another mom and dad to give my parents somebody to yak with and perhaps another kid or two that I could hang with. There were a few times where we went solo and those trips tended to drag. After 50 weeks together as a family unit, we needed a break from each other as well. Invariably, though, there would be some point in the vacation with another family that something would happen. A sour word exchanged. A nasty look shared. And then the edict would come from Mom.

"Stay away from THEM."

I remember a bunch of these destinations. Lake George, New York, was popular. They had a couple of Disney-like theme parks. Storyland where you walked around some nursery rhyme settings and then fed the wandering animals, as in the photo above. There was another gimmick called the North Pole and it was always odd to visit there in the sweltering July humidity. You got to meet elves and the complete Santa Claus clan. I was always curious why Mrs. Claus never had any kids. My mom would tell me that all the little workers were all the children they needed. I guess I was too young for the real explanation, which was readily apparent when you toured their house. Santa and the missus were sleeping in separate rooms.

The longest trip we ever made was to Niagara Falls, New York. All day in the car. Extra peaches and plums. Sheer boredom. But the view of the falls was worth it, especially when a wave knocked me clear across the Maid of the Mist. In those days, my father was an amateur photographer and loved taking slides with his Argus Technicolor camera. I remember when these particular slides came back from the developer. Somehow, two got superimposed over each other and the Maid of the Mist was poised right on top of the Horseshoe Falls. Was the Fotomat guy fooling around or was it an accident? We'll never know.

I'll always remember Niagara Falls for the huge case of food poisoning I must have got. All I can recall is lying on a hotel bed with alcohol soaked washcloths all over me. There was a visit from a doctor. I think I was there for about two days. At one point, I was visited by Vivian Vance in a nurse's outfit. Sheer delirium without a drop of liquor.

One summer after I had become a baseball fan, our familial trip trooped up to Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame. A great, great excursion for me. But, the little hamlet in upstate New York features few hotels and even fewer with air conditioning. One of my mom's pre-requisites for summer fun was the ability to go someplace and sleep in an air conditioned room. Without the cooling at night, my mom was even less impressed with Mickey Mantle's uniform pants displayed during the day.

Atlantic City, in its pre-casino days, was another popular destination over a few summers. The Boardwalk. The Million Dollar Pier. Salt water taffy. The Steel Pier where the Diving Horse worked and where I shook hands with Paul Anka after a performance. I was probably seven years old and already taller than he was. Another year, we saw the Lennon Sisters. Anything connected to the Lawrence Welk Show bored me shitless. I fell sound asleep in the aisle of the theater.

No trip to Atlantic City was complete without a visit to Zaberer's Restaurant. This place was such a big deal that you kept seeing the signs all along the road to Atlantic City.

"Ten miles to Zaberer's."

"Five miles to Zaberer's."

"Zaberer's right around the bend!"

This was a total dress-up eating event and probably the biggest meal we had all year. You made reservations several days in advance and still waited an hour in the lounge for your table and the ultimate heart-stopping slab of prime rib. The big draw in the waiting room was a color TV, back in the days when nobody had one that worked correctly. At Zaberer's, Mitch Miller's beard was not purple.

On one Atlantic City trip, there was such a rift with THEM that my folks and I hightailed it out of there. Up the road to Asbury Park. Where there was nothing to do. And we stared at each other for what seemed to be an eternity. I ran to a bench and buried myself in the library books I had packed for the trip.

It was the last time we ever traveled anywhere as a family. 

Dinner last night:  Hollywood Bowl hot dog.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Classic Musical Comedy Production Number of the Month - July 2017

Woo hoo.  A five-Saturday month.  We get to enjoy this classic number from a legendary musical comedy.  From "Summer Stock."  Nuff' said.

Dinner last night:  Super Dodger Dog at the game.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Don't Forget to Take Your Camera on Summer Vacation

 The one family who found this wasn't the happiest place on Earth.
 When Tommy Bahama shirts go on sale.
 Can you get pregnant this way?
 The Uneven Tan Family.
 Oh, Dad....
I hope you're going to pay for all those robes you stole from the hotel.
 Junior forgot to pack his blood pressure meds.
 I used to be able to do this...like 25 years ago.
 I was never in a hot tub with my parents....ever.
 Scruffy sees a good looking poodle off to the side.
 This fish will have a bone in it.
I would like to see this photo five minutes later.

Dinner last night:  Prime rib dinner at Lawry's.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Len's Recipe of the Month - July 2017

Ah, sausage and peppers.   If you're here on this blog often and note my "dinner last night," you will know that this is my favorite dish.   One meal on a desert island?  Yep, this is the one.   

I've sampled this classic Italian meal in a variety of restaurants and a myriad of styles.  Some successful, others disastrous.   I can remember one night in my favorite Yonkers eatery, Carlo's. Usually top notch all the way, I wound up with sausage and peppers in a brown sauce like pot roast.  WTF???   When I complained to the waitress, I was told this is how they always made it.   Um, no. As I left that night, I peeked into the kitchen and noticed the chef for the evening.   Let's just say you would be more likely to see him playing in the NBA than cooking in an Italian restaurant.   Nuff' said.

Growing up in New York and, specifically, an Italian neighborhood, I know what marries this meal to your stomach best.  I've tasted a bunch of good, home-cooked versions of it.   My writing partner does it the way I like it.   So does my grade school pal Diane and she should know, since she owned a restaurant for a while.  

But, like a good chef, I've taken it and added a little twist here and there.   Not revolutionary, but enough to make it my own. And, in my view, perfect!

Take a nice large non-stick skillet and coat it with a decent EVO. If you don't know what that is, come back to this blog when we are talking about movies or politics.   You have no business in a kitchen.

Take two large Italian sausages and give them a quick turn in the skillet.  You can use a combo of sweet and hot sausage.   I prefer the former.

Once nice and brown, remove them from the skillet and slice them into 1/4 pieces on a cutting board.   They'll drain a little there and that's a good thing.

Simultaneously, throw about three sliced cloves of garlic into the skillet and then slice up one medium size sweet onion.   Toss that in with the garlic and oil. Your kitchen will smell like you know what you're doing.  

After about five minutes, toss the sausage back and let it dance with the garlic and onion.   Now, you'll need to slice up two peppers.   For optimum flavor, use one red and one either yellow or orange.   I've used green and don't like what it brings to the dish.  

Add the peppers to the skillet.   A little Kosher salt and pepper.   A tablespoon of dried or fresh oregano.  You're almost done.   Here comes another twist.

Take a pint of fresh cherry or grape tomatoes and throw them into the skillet as well.   You will be astounded how they enhance the dish.  I don't like a soupy sausage and peppers meal, so don't include any sauce.   The grape tomatoes will take care of that flavor.  You could add a small can of tomato paste if you want extra sauce.

Since you all know that I am a fan of the slow cooker, you might wonder if I have tried any of this in a crockpot.  You're so smart.  I have and I don't think it works as well.   Instead, simply lower the heat under the covered skillet and let it add some wonderful aroma to your home for the next hour.   The more all the ingredients meld, the tastier it gets.

Eat up.

Dinner last night:  Pepperoni pizza at the Dodger game.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

This Date in History - July 26

Happy birthday to Mick Jagger, turning 74 today.  74???!!!

811:  IN THE BATTLE OF PLISKA, BYZANTINE EMPEROR NIKEPHOROS IS KILLED.

Nikephoros.   Just do it.

1509:  THE EMPEROR KRISHNADEVARAYA ASCENDS TO THE THRONE OF THE VIJAYANAGARA EMPIRE.

What a business card that must have been.

1581:  THE NORTHERN LOW COUNTRIES DECLARE THEIR INDEPENDENCE FROM THE SPANISH KING PHILIP II.

FYI, I never ever paid attention in World History.

1745:  THE FIRST RECORDED WOMEN'S CRICKET MATCH TAKES PLACE IN ENGLAND.

Where else?

1775:  THE US POST OFFICE IS ESTABLISHED BY THE SECOND CONTINENTAL CONGRESS.

And immediately lost two sacks of mail.

1788:  NEW YORK RATIFIES THE US CONSTITUTION AND BECOMES THE 11TH STATE OF THE US.

What took them so long?

1847:  LIBERIA DECLARES ITS INDEPENDENCE.

Well, that's a load off my mind.

1875:  PSYCHIATRIST CARL JUNG IS BORN.

The Jung for the Restless.

1882:  PREMIERE OF RICHARD WAGNER'S OPERA PARSIFAL.

Wasn't he a reliever for the Angels?

1891:  FRANCE ANNEXES TAHITI.

Well, if you have to annex something, Tahiti is a good choice.

1909:  ACTRESS VIVIAN VANCE IS BORN.

Should be a national holiday.

1914:  SERBIA AND BULGARIA INTERRUPT DIPLOMATIC RELATIONSHIP.

Like Ross and Rachel, they're taking a break.

1918:  ACTRESS MARJORIE LORD IS BORN.

Make Room for Daddy's Wife.

1922:  FILM DIRECTOR BLAKE EDWARDS IS BORN.

Unsung genius.

1941:  SINGER DARLENE LOVE IS BORN.

Who does she sing that Christmas song for now that Letterman is off the air?

1941:  US PRESIDENT FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT ORDERS THE SEIZURE OF ALL JAPANESE ASSETS IN THE US.   

What will he do with all those sushi bars?

1943:  MUSICIAN MICK JAGGER IS BORN.

Always getting what he wants.

1945:  ACTRESS HELEN MIRREN IS BORN.

Mrs. Taylor Hackford to you.

1945:  THE POTSDAM DECLARATION IS SIGNED IN POTSDAM, GERMANY.

Gee, that was clever.

1947:  US PRESIDENT HARRY TRUMAN SIGNS THE NATIONAL SECURITY ACT OF 1947, THEREBY CREATING THE CIA, US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, US AIR FORCE, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF, AND THE US NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL

Well, that created a lot of jobs.

1948:  US PRESIDENT HARRY TRUMAN SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER 9981, DESEGREGATING THE US MILITARY.

For those of you who thought executive orders were invented by Trump and Obama.

1952:  POLITICIAN EVA PERON DIES.

Not crying for you.

1963:  THE ORGANIZATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT VOTES TO ADMIT JAPAN.

I guess the assets were eventually unfrozen.

1971:  LAUNCH OF APOLLO 15.

Nothing happened on this flight, so no Ron Howard movie.

1990:  THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT OF 1990 IS SIGNED INTO LAW BY PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH.

See!  He did do something worthwhile.

2016:  HILLARY CLINTON BECOMES THE FIRST FEMALE NOMINEE FOR PRESIDENT OF THE US.

I've been off-line.  How did this play out?

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

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Nuns Gone Wild

Now this is a movie that is not for everyone.   If you are very religious or very Catholic or very sensitive, try something else at the megaplex.  Because you will likely walk out of "The Little Hours" within the first 30 seconds.   Or as soon as the first nun drops the very first F-bomb.  

As for me and most of the audience around me, I stayed in my seat and enjoyed some big belly laughs over the next 89 minutes.   Regardless of your beliefs, God should provided us some much needed levity with this riotous send-up of nuns in a Medieval nunnery.  

Okay, they tell you at the beginning that this is set around 1347 and you figure that the ensuing dialogue will be true to the era and very elegant and austere. Um, no, everybody talks as if it is 2017 with the emphasis on vulgarity.  Now, admittedly, the second 20 times where a nun drops the F-bomb are not nearly as funny as the first 20 times.   At the same time, this is a film that is just trying to be entertaining and it's no more anti-Catholic than it is anti-any other religion.   Heck, they could have set this in the days of Martin Luther and I would have still laughed at some of the situations provided.

We meet the three nuns played by Alison "Glow" Brie, Aubrey Plaza, and Kate Micucci and they all have numerous hangups.   For the most part, they are all dealing with sexual desires of some sort.   Enter a handyman, played by Dave "Alison Brie's real life husband" Franco, who is pretending to be deaf and dumb.  You get the picture.   To also stir the pot we have Molly Shannon as the nunnery Mother Superior and John C. Reilly as the resident priest.  There are complications and sight gags galore and many moments are reminiscent of the best work of one Mel Brooks.  

Admittedly, "The Little Hours" does get a little too silly in spots, especially when a coven of local witches enter the picture.   But, I guffawed heartily more than I have in a very long while at the cinema.   In this day when the world is coming apart at the seams, laughter is the best elixir.  Again, this is definitely not a movie for everybody.  But that's exactly what can make the medium so special.

LEN'S RATING:  Three stars.

Dinner last night:  Sausage, peppers, and onions.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Monday Morning Video Laugh - July 24, 2017

Even dogs need a cool treat during the summer.

Dinner last night:  Grilled cheese sandwich at the Hollywood Bowl.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Cooling Off at the Shore When You Live in the City


Ah, one of those oxymorons.

Okay, here in Los Angeles, I live maybe five miles from the beach.   Ask me how many times I have actually gone there.  It's sort of like that old saying which talked of the fact that people who live in NY who have never visited the Empire State Building.

Well, as the age old photo above shows, I did go to the beach at least once.   Actually several times.   Despite the fact that I lived in the ultra-urban suburb of New York City.

Yeah, a lot of my friends today talk about their childhoods at the shore. Spending every day at the beach. Renting cabanas for the summer. Barbecuing on the sand at night as the sun went down and the ocean breezes kicked in.

Me? I lived in Mount Vernon, New York. With close proximity to the subway. If the train zoomed by you on the 233rd Street platform, the resulting wind was your summer refreshment for the day.

More specifically, we were landlocked. Getting to the beach was an ordeal. 

President Kennedy had pledged that, by the end of the 60s, Americans would be on the moon. He could have easily added that the goal was to get me to a beach more than twice any given summer.

Oh, don't get me wrong. We liked the beach. At least, my mother and I did. My father couldn't be bothered. I don't think he even owned a bathing suit. And, since he was the driver in the household and frequently working, we couldn't depend upon him for transportation to the shore. We were on our own.

And neither of the closest beaches were, well, close.

You had Glen Island Beach in New Rochelle. A neighboring city. The park there had a shoreline on an inlet from the Long Island Sound. Sea water twice removed. By the time it got to the Glen Island sand, there was barely a ripple. There were more waves in my mother's new permanent. When you dipped into the Glen Island waters, you might as well have been taking a bath in the tub at home.

Of course, to the south of our home, there was the Bronx where Orchard Beach beckoned to us. Or, as we often referred to it, "Horseshit Beach." Not only was the water there equally as tranquil, but it was incredibly dark. It could have easily been mistaken for a bottle of Guinness Ale. The folks on the sand were not much better. Oh, they seemed okay. It's just that most of them were speaking English as a twelfth language. We had traveled ten miles to the south, but we somehow landed on the shores of San Juan. If your ball landed on some stranger's blanket, you needed a United Nations interpreter to get it back.

As a beach resort, Orchard Beach was always our last resort.

Yeah, we preferred Glen Island Beach. But, the trick was how to get there.
Enter my mother's cache of girlfriends. A prerequisite for my non-driving mother was to know other women who could. With valid licenses and cars to boot. If it looked like it was going to be hot and humid for a few days, my mother immediately went to the Princess phone and commenced dialing. 
Usually, somebody got recruited with their kids and we were packing beach provisions in lickety-split fashion.

The only problem is that none of my mom's friends had children that were anything but...girls.

"We're going to the beach with Aunt Ronnie."

All my mother's girlfriends were aunts to me. And Aunt Ronnie had two girls---Susan and Nancy. Sweet? At that age, not.

But, there I was. An only child out with a couple of kids and I still had nobody to play with. To make matters worse, one of the other girls I was beach-teamed with was usually still young enough (and flat enough) to skip the traditional top of the bathing suit.

Can we go home yet?

Of course, we'd eat our packaged sandwiches for lunch and I would hate the taste of my favorite Taylor Ham sandwich when it was seasoned with mustard and sand. I'd sit there amidst four or five gabby women or girls and want the sun to bake me to death. And, naturally, lunch at the beach seemed like an eternity. Because...

"You have to wait an hour before you can go back in the water."

Why?

"You just wait."

Kill me now, please.

I'd sit on that blanket, drifting into a gossip-induced coma. Can you please make friends with somebody that has a boy for a kid? Please!!! I always wondered why my mom never suggested that I invite along one of my chums. Leo from up the block or maybe Russell from school. That would have solved everything.

If we were really desperate for a beach day and nobody was available with transportation, my mother would prevail upon our other in-house source for a ride to the shore. Grandpa. That would mean Horseshit Beach would be the day's destination as Grandpa knew the Bronx roads and little else. It was on one of those excursions that I realized Grandpa was at the end of his days. I've told the story here before.

We had gone to the Bronx Riviera and arranged for Grandpa to come and pick us up at an appointed afternoon time. For the ride home, there were two other passengers with me and Mom. One of her friends and her daughter, of course. Well, anyway, mucho chatter ensued and the car soon sounded like a chicken coop. It distracted Grandpa.

And, for some bizarre reason, he seemed to be a little unsure about the way home. And then he ran a stop sign.

And whacked a car coming the other direction.

I got knocked onto the floor of the back seat, but everybody was otherwise okay. And quiet for a change. Surprisingly, there was no damage to our car. And a medium-sized dent on the car we hit. But, the real trauma was etched on Grandpa's face. He was crestfallen. He had never been involved in an accident before. His demeanor showed the result of his epiphany. With his reflexes slowing down, he was encountering the inevitable.

His driving days were over.

As my family often did, we went into emergency lockdown mode. Grandpa whispered to me.

"Don't tell your grandmother."

Check.

My mother whispered to me.

"Don't tell your father."

Check again.

The secret didn't hold for long. Because my grandfather pretty much stopped driving anywhere after that.

And we never went to Horseshit Beach again.

After that, any beach days were over for good. Mom and most of her friends went back to work. And it would be years before I went to a beach again. By the end of high school and college, I broadened my shore line horizons to include Jones Beach on Long Island. And I would journey out there with my neighborhood buddy, Leo.

After all, he had a car.


Dinner last night:  Beer bratwurst and pickled beets.


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Classic TV Theme Song of the Month - July 2017

Honoring the late Roger Smith with this compilation of openings to "77 Sunset Strip."

Dinner last night:  Chicken, bacon, and waffles at the Dodger game.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Your Weekend Movie Guide for July 2017

In this scene from 1958's "The Blob," movie goers scramble to escape their local theater.   Is it because of a monster?   Or maybe the "healthfully air conditioned" machine broke down?

Frankly, in the hot days of July, any movie theater is good for a cool escape.   And that's regardless of what's playing.   You know the monthly drill, gang.   I will zip through the movie pages of the LA Times and give you my knee-jerk reaction to what's populating our cinemas.

As bad as the fare may be on the screen, just remember that it's "kool inside."

Wonder Woman:  Reviewed here the other day.   I didn't like it.  I must be a guy.

Spider-Man - Homecoming:  Is it me or have there been a dozen or so reboots of this just in the last decade?

City of Ghosts:  What my hometown of Mount Vernon, New York will be in about five years.

Lady Macbeth:   Only if I don't have to write an essay afterwards.

Baby Driver:  I hear good things about this heist movie.  I'll review it here as soon as I see it.

The Beguiled:  A crappy Clint Eastwood flick from the late 60s that somehow earned a remake.

The Little Hours:  Nuns go crazy.   Blog review coming.   Spoiler alert:  I'm a Protestant.

The Big Sick:  Blog review coming.   A hint: I was quite surprised by this movie.

War For The Planet of the Apes:  CNN vs. Fox.

A Ghost Story:   Paging Cosmo Topper.

Beatriz at Dinner:   I have no clue what this is, but it should be on a double bill with...

Maudie:   Get it?

Endless Poetry:  A title like that is no way to get me to see it.

Wish Upon:   Somebody realizes they have the ability to will people to their death.  PM me please.

Despicable Me 3:  Do I have to binge watch 1 and 2?

47 Meters Down:  Us vs. sharks....again.

Transformers - The Last Knight:  Squeezing the very last dollar.

Cars 3:   I lost interest after the first one.  Sorry.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets:  Way too much to say at the box office.

The Midwife:  Remember those?  People who do probably will be the only one in the audience.

Dunkirk:  Let's see how Christopher Nolan, who ruined Batman, messes up World War II.

Girls Trip:  Strictly for Black women between the ages of 35 and 44.  I am none of those.

Amnesia:  All about a German electronic music composer.   Personally I will forget I ever even mentioned it here.

Landline:   Remember those?   A family drama brought to you by MCI.

Who the $%#& is That Guy"  Documentary about a gay Puerto Rican teen who rose to become a record producer.   I am also none of those.

Swim Team:  Documentary about an autistic swim team in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.   If you insist.

False Confessions:  Isabelle Huppert as a wealthy widow who....oh, who am I kidding?

Dinner last night:  Hamburger.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Oh, Grow Up!

I borrow the phrase from the late Joan Rivers.   And it's about time, folks.

I came across this meme from one of my Facebook friends who has way too much time on his or her hands.   I've seen dozens and dozens of these images designed to ridicule the sitting President.

Okay, don't get me wrong.  I don't like the guy.   I haven't liked a President in about thirty years.  But I have never wished ill will on any of them.   I've written before about how easily well-educated people that I know have discussed getting rid of Donald Trump in the most violent of ways.   Have you all been watching way too much Game of Thrones??  What the fuck is wrong with all of you???

Now this latest on-line toy allows you to maneuver Trump to the edge of the cliff and then...goodbye.  Oh, and the ultra clever assholes behind this thing give you other options as well.   You can watch him fall into a manhole outside of Radio City Music Hall, drop into the Grand Canyon, or be eaten by a dinosaur.

Think this is harmless fun?   I don't.  Hey, let's have a video game where you have to walk Ronald Reagan from his speaking engagement to the waiting limousine without getting shot.   Maybe one where you have to steer JFK's car through Dealey Plaza.   Or how about a game where Barack Obama has to run away from Klu Klux Klansmen.

One of the celebrities that has been gleefully talking about this is Rosie O'Donnell and, frankly, this fat bitch could walk off a cliff tomorrow.   That is, unless the resulting crash destroys the Earth for good.   She continues to be part of the problem and none of the solution as far as decency in America goes.   
Am I being silly here?   Not really.   I have said this before.   The callousness of some friends right now is mindboggling.   Keep in mind that there have been either successful or almost successful assassination attempts on over 20 percent of our Presidents down through history.   In the supposedly civilized nation, that is appalling.   And stupid stuff like this meme contributes to such thoughts whether you like it not.

There have been moments in the last year or so that I am truly ashamed of some of the folks around me.  Come on.   You're better than this.   

Maybe I'm wrong.

Dinner last night:  Salad.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

This Date in History - July 19

Happy birthday to Vikki Carr, a woman whose record album was played constantly by my mother.  Just sayin'.

484:  LEONTIUS, ROMAN USURPER, IS CROWNED EASTERN EMPEROR AT TARSUS, WHICH IS MODERN TURKEY.

Not sure just how modern Turkey really is.

1544:  ITALIAN WAR OF 1542-46 - THE FIRST SIEGE OF BOULOGNE BEGINS.

Is this where we get the Bolognese sauce?

1553:  LADY JANE GREY IS REPLACED BY MARY I OF ENGLAND AS QUEEN OF ENGLAND AFTER ONLY NINE DAYS ON THE THRONE.

They got her out so fast that I'm wondering if she's related to Trump.

1817:  UNSUCCESSFUL IN HIS ATTEMPT TO CONQUER THE KINGDOM OF HAWAII FOR THE RUSSIAN-AMERICAN COMPANY, GEORG ANTON SCHAFFER IS FORCED TO ADMIT DEFEAT AND LEAVE KAUAI.

Condo on the beach available.

1845:  GREAT NEW YORK CITY FIRE OF 1845 - 345 BUILDINGS IN MANHATTAN BURN.

In some sections of the city, nobody would notice.

1848:  A TWO-DAY WOMEN'S RIGHTS CONVENTION OPENS IN SENECA FALLS, NEW YORK.

It would have been three days but they had to be back home for laundry.

1870:  FRANCE DECLARES WAR ON PRUSSIA.

It's good to know that they're willing to fight somebody.

1883:  ANIMATOR MAX FLEISCHER IS BORN.

Popeye and Betty Boop coming soon@

1900:  THE FIRST LINE OF THE PARIS METRO OPENS FOR OPERATION.

Delayed an hour by signal trouble.

1903:  MAURICE GARIN WINS THE FIRST TOUR DE FRANCE.

Bicyclists are menaces to society.

1922:  POLITICIAN GEORGE MCGOVERN IS BORN.

One of the biggest losers ever to run for President.

1940:  FIELD MARSHAL CEREMONY - FIRST OCCASION IN WORLD WAR II, THAT HITLER APPOINTED FIELD MARSHALS DUE TO THEIR MILITARY ACHIEVEMENTS.

Nazi merit badges.

1941:  SINGER VIKKI CARR IS BORN.

Her big hit was "It Must Be Him," played over and over and over in my house.

1943:  WORLD WAR II - ROME IS HEAVILY BOMBED BY MORE THAN 500 ALLIED AIRCRAFT, INFLICTING THOUSANDS OF CASUALTIES.

Take that, Benito.

1947:  KOREAN POLITICIAN LYUH WOON-HYUNG IS ASSASSINATED.

That come with rice?

1962:  ACTOR ANTHONY EDWARDS IS BORN.

Wonder if the birth was in an ER?

1964:  VIETNAM WAR - AT A RALLY IN SAIGON, SOUTH VIETNAMESE PRIME MINISTER NGUYEN KHANH CALLS FOR EXPANDING THE WAR INTO NORTH VIETNAM.

The Wrath of Khanh.

1980:  THE SUMMER OLYMPICS OPENS IN MOSCOW.

I don't see the USA athletes.

1983:  THE FIRST THREE-DIMENSIONAL RECONSTRUCTION OF A HUMAN HEAD IN A CT IS PUBLISHED.

X-rays of his head revealed nothing.

1989:  UNITED AIRLINES FLIGHT 232 CRASHES IN IOWA, KILLING 111.

Boy, I bet you wish you lost your seat on this flight.

2014:  ACTOR JAMES GARNER DIES.

I read his autobiography and came out of it not liking the guy.   That's not easy to do.

2016:  DIRECTOR GARRY MARSHALL DIES.

Damn, has it been a year already???

Dinner last night:  Had a big lunch, so just some pasta salad.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

I Am The Very Last Person In The World To See...

And so I did.  Hot and muggy evenings, along with a need to get out of air conditioning that you're paying for, will do that to a person.

I was genuinely startled when "Wonder Woman" opened on Memorial Day weekend.   Every time I went into Facebook, another friend was posting how much they loved the movie.  Was there a big groundswell for this DC Comics character?   I must admit to knowing very well about the story.   I remember very little of the TV show except that Lynda Carter used to twirl around and end up wearing some costume that looked like the old logo for "Love American Style."

After the hordes had already checked it out, a toasty apartment was the impetus for me to see what all the hubbub was about.

And I'm still a little confused.  

Okay, don't get me wrong.   I know what some of the attraction is.   You have a female super hero and another glass ceiling has been shattered.  I get it.   Perhaps that end of Hollywood is catching up to Disney and Pixar where every cartoon has featured a girl character for perhaps the last twenty years.   And I'm sure attention was drawn to "Wonder Woman" because a big action flick was being directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins.   Well, kudos to her.  She's the friend of a good pal of mine and apparently deserves every ounce of success that is coming her way.  Not that she'll take any of my calls.   She's probably not even taking my friend's call any more.

So, "Wonder Woman" arrives on the scene with all this pre-hype and I salute all those involved for all those reasons.

I just wish I had liked the damn thing.   Because, frankly, "Wonder Woman" is a movie in search of a single genre.   Seriously, at any given moment, it looks like a completely different film.

It starts on some deserted island inhabited by nothing bu Amazon women warriors and I don't mean the kind with 2-day delivery.  We meet little Diana, fierce fighter in training with some bracelets that stop bullets and are obviously in high demand on the Home Shopping Network.   Now, if you're like me, you're wondering how a child can come to exist on an island with nothing but females.   This bugged me for about 40 minutes until the screenwriters had the common courtesy to explain it three reels later.

Well, Diana grows into an adult as played by Gal Gadot (gee, what a clever acting name) and she's the next best gladiator on the island.   But, pilot Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine and he's the best thing in the movie) crash lands his plane when he is chased by some Germans.   Leave some bread crumbs around this blog entry so you can follow me.

The Big Kahuna of female warriors is played by Robin Wright, but she falls like a house of cards early but not before sending Diana off to slay Aries whoever the hell he or she is.  Before you can say Lyle Waggoner (he was Steve Trevor on the TV show), we're off to London and fighting Germans prior to WWI.   Jeez, this chick gets around.   At one point, there's a lavish ball and I think we've arrived at Downton Abbey.  I was hoping that Michelle Dockery would show up because her Lady Mary could really kick Wonder Woman's ass.

The cutesy-poo romantic comedy scenes between Diana and Trevor work, but also point out the large ravine in acting chops between the two leads.   Chris Pine played it light and tongue-in-cheek because he knew he was doing nothing but reacting to comic book dialogue.   The less-nuanced Gal Gadot, however, approached her portrayal with every trick she ever learned at the Anvil Acting Academy.   Everything with her is so serious you would think she was on her second callback for the lead in "The Glass Menagerie."  But, that's what happens when your main goal is to destroy Aries, who is apparently as detestable as Donald Trump Jr..

Like all movies produced in 2017, "Wonder Woman" is about 45 minutes too long but the extra screen time is needed to shoehorn in even more film genres. A lot of shit is blown up, so that's a shout out to Quentin Tarantino.   At one point during the seemingly eternal finale, you think Luke Skywalker is doing battle with Darth Vader.   And, then to cap everything off, the last scene looks like it was stolen from the final ten pages of the next Transformers sequel.  Can we pick a direction and stay with it please?

Look, I'm fine with all the inroads made by "Wonder Woman."  I just wish the shattered glass ceiling hadn't fallen as shards into the unsuspecting eyes of movie goers like me.

If you loved "Wonder Woman," good for you.   I didn't and that's what makes movies great.  

LEN'S RATING:  Two stars.

Dinner last night:  Leftover spare ribs.




Monday, July 17, 2017

Monday Morning Video Laugh - July 17, 2017

At a certain age, you shouldn't...

Dinner last night:  Spare ribs and macaroni salad.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Sunday Memory Drawer - A Fan of the Fan

It's been super hot and unusually humid in Los Angeles lately. Of course, this should be no surprise with it being summer and all.  

Out here in the wilds of Los Angeles, the heat doesn't bother me. The 24 hour availability of central air conditioning will do that to you. I go from the super-cooled condo to the car to the super market or the movie theater and back again. A bead of sweat doesn't have a chance of forming anywhere on me.  Of course, there is the formation of perspiration at outdoor venues like Dodger Stadium or the Hollywood Bowl.  Indeed, last Sunday's Dodger game was the most uncomfortable that I have ever experienced there and was quite reminiscent of muggy nights at Shea Stadium.   

But, in retrospect, I used to have it a lot worse.   Because I grew up in a home that was...ahem...not air conditioned.   Neither centrally or otherwise.  As a matter of fact, when my family finally upgraded to one window air conditioner, it was in the living room and that's where you hunkered down when there were no tropical breezes blowing through Mount Vernon, New York.

I remember it vividly. There is nothing more gross than a hazy, hot, and humid day in the Northeast. When clothes have to be surgically peeled off you at the end of the day. When the act of turning a page in the Daily News can be exhausting. You don't want to move for fear that the lifting of a finger will drain you of all bodily fluids.

For us, the only answer was the window fan in the kitchen. My grandmother had one mounted in her kitchen downstairs as well and that must have been how people stayed cool during World War II. Apparently, there are all sorts of scientific solutions on how to use the fan to get gusts of wind going throughout the house. It must have been handed down like family lore, because both my dad and Grandma were experts on this.

If you're in the bedroom, you turn on the kitchen fan and then close all the doors of the house except for the room you're in. Voila. The whole opening in the home gets all the intake and you have a breeze. Naturally, I would
 invariably go into one of the other rooms and then I would hear the wail.

"Close the door!!"

Our kitchen fan was enormous and made the sound of the D train rushing through a local subway station. Like ocean water crashing up against a shore, there was something oddly soothing with that loud whirring of our kitchen fan. I could listen to it for hours. And frequently did. Way up close. I was a weird kid.

Our kitchen fan was in an area where there was a china closet in the corner and another cabinet on the other side. The result was an odd little nook and cranny that provided me with a wonderful little crawl space. When I was really young, I'd take whatever action figures I had at the time and would use the fan as the home base for the little drama I would stage. The fan was the central point of this apartment house which housed Huckleberry Hound, Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket, and Yogi Bear. One character would live on one ledge near the fan. Another would live on top of the fan. That was the penthouse.It was the coolest place for them to live. Literally and figuratively. Usually, at some point during the summer, I would drop one of the toy figures into the fan and there they would live until my father would take down the fan in September or October. I would look through the speeding blades of the fan and see poor little Boo Boo Bear lying on the outside window ledge. All by his lonesome.

When I got a little older, I shitcanned the fan as a home for my cartoon figurines. Instead, I had become a reader. I always had three or four library books out at the same time. Sports and Hollywood biographies. On summer nights when I could stay up late, I'd pull up a kitchen chair and get as tight into the crawlspace around the fan as possible and read. And read and read and read. Sometimes till midnight or later. There was probably not enough light but I didn't care. As long as there was a book, the fan, and a glass of lemonade nearby, I was happy. I can remember reading both "The Godfather" and "Airport" at the foot of the kitchen fan, racing through them so I would finish them before the anticipated movie versions came out.

To this day, my apartment in New York still has a fan. Not a window model, but a box one that stands on the floor or a table. When I am there in the summer months, I still take out a book or a magazine and sit next to the fan as I read for a while. It's not the same sensation, but pretty darn close.

And, of course, during the recent Los Angeles heat wave, I held off on putting on the central air.   I have fans here as well and the whirring sound of a floor fan has lulled me to sleep in the bedroom.

Some habits die incredibly hard.

Dinner last night:  Spicy shrimp and fried rice.