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Friday, December 8, 2017

Rant #2.039: Hyperactive

First, congratulations to Israel, and congratulations to our President.

His bold move has simply stated the obvious: Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, has been the capital of Israel for generations, and will be the capital of Israel hopefully forever.

And also, congratulations to the Palestinians, who, in their days of rage, demonstrated once again to the world why they cannot be dealt with, why they are barbarians, why they are like spoiled children who don't get their way, and why, due to their behavior, there will probably be no peace in the Middle East in the foreseeable future.

Anyway, yesterday was a difficult day for me in particular, but for my family in general.

Due to a number of circumstances, we had to get the entire house retrofitted for our phone, Internet and television service, and let me tell you, while I didn't do the actual work myself--a repairman did it of course, and he worked as hard as can be to do it over a span of about five or six hours--the entire day played on my head, worse than anything I have experienced in a long while.

I had to take the day off from work to begin with, and even though work for me has been slow as molasses lately, I did not want to waste a day where I would be stuck in the house the entire day, which I pretty much was.

The length of the work also forced me to miss my allergy doctor appointment, and my allergies have not been good with this up and down weather. Now we are supposed to get snow after experiencing 60 degree temperatures as recently as Wednesday. This has played havoc with my allergies, and I was hoping to get my shots yesterday, but it simply wasn't meant to be.

I basically was stuck in the house yesterday, without TV, without Internet, and without phone, for the entire day.

Heck, people are worse off, I sure know that, but at least for me, having pretty much nothing to do for the entire day, except eat my meals, get my son off to work, read the newspaper and stare at the walls, wasn't that easy.

It wasn't his fault, but the workman also came about an hour late, which didn't help matters, but I have to say, it appears he did a fine job.

Everything is working, including my son's new TV, which he hooked up to the new system with ease.

The aftermath of this day was that I had to hook up all my devices to the new system, and let me tell you, hooking up about 15 devices isn't as easy as typing in the new code we have.

I really didn't have a problem with any of them, except with the bulk of time it took to do each one, but I did have a problem with our Dot, because Ms. Alexa would not cooperate with me in setting her up.

I tried and tried, but this thing simply would not hook up to the Internet.

My wife saved the day. After she came home from work, she remembered that the setup was through her own tablet, and once we got that going, Alexa cooperated.

Alexa has gotten a bit uppity with me lately, anyway. The other day, after I asked her a routine question, she actually had the audacity to tell me that she wasn't going to listen to me anymore, and she turned off until the next question I asked her.

Yes, it has come down to that, me actually talking to such a device as if it were human.

Anyway, I have connected almost all of our devices to the Internet, except my parents' own Dot--I did not want to go through all that again--and my son's new Xbox One, which I will have to deal with over this weekend.

The gaming unit was his Hanukkah present for this year--he bought the TV himself, and got a very, very good deal with it--and we gave him his present early because we anticipated problems, and we were right about that, necessitating a new TV.

But whatever the case, I will get to hooking this up over the weekend, hopefully, and then everything can be hunky dory once again.

It was a busy day, just about all inside the house, and it kept me going, and yes, I conked out on the couch not only during the day for about five minutes, but in the evening, and I slept fairly well, I am happy to say.

So onward and upward ... we are connected, we are operational, and ultimately, we are happy.

That is all that counts.

Speak to you again on Monday. Have a great weekend.

Classic Rant #691 (March 8, 2012): Davy's Final Resting Place

A private funeral was held in Florida yesterday for Davy Jones, the Monkees heartthrob who passed away on Feb. 29. Reports are that he was cremated.

It was only for immediate family members. Reports are that the three surviving Monkees--Peter Tork, Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz--would like to hold a memorial concert, or at least attend the public celebrations of Jones' life that are planned for New York and England.

They stayed away from the funeral so as not to cause a media stampede, but there weren't any clear reports that they were actually invited. No slight here, this was just for family members.

Plans are still sketchy on all of these memorials, but Tork said that any continuation of the group "doesn't seem very likely, does it?" But he isn't ruling it out entirely.

"It's not absolutely impossible," Tork told "The Monkees have gone out as a threesome for most of the past 20-some years. But there are no plans, no discussion. This is way too early to begin to think about that."

Tork added that "certainly if there's some kind of concert in his honor, I think we would all attend if we could arrange it."

Although the surviving threesome will always be known as Monkees, each has carved out a somewhat impressive career away from the band.

Tork currently tours with his band Shoe Suede Blues, a blues-pop band that generally plays smaller venues. He is a cancer survivor, and the oldest Monkee.

Dolenz also tours as a solo act, and once again, he will be on the "Happy Together" tour with the Turtles and other acts this summer. He has also carved out a niche as a director and an actor, and has also been a DJ on WCBS-FM.

Nesmith, the most reclusive of the bunch, has had a successful career as a solo artist, producer, writer, and record company owner. He oversees Videoranch, a site where all facets of his career can be explored.

The three have never toured together since the Monkees' prime period in the mid to late 1960s, and never as a threesome. Nesmith did join the Monkees, including Jones, for a few concerts over the years, but generally swears off such things. He has performed solo a few times during the past year.

Tork and Dolenz have appeared in concert together numerous times over the years, both in the U.S. and overseas.

Will the threesome ever get together again? I kind of agree with Tork, it is pretty senseless without Jones, because even though each one of the foursome brought something else to the Monkees, Jones pretty much WAS the Monkees.

Without Davy, there really is no Monkees.

On a lesser level, it pretty much compares with the situation of John Lennon. With all the ballyhoo in the 1970s of the Beatles reforming for "just" one concert to save humanity, when Lennon passed in 1980, that was the end of the dream.

Without Lennon, there is no Beatles, and without Jones, there is no Monkees.

(And happy birthday to Micky Dolenz today. He hits No. 67 on this day, It must be a bittersweet celebration this year, but whatever it is, happy birthday, George Michael Dolenz!)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Rant #2,038: Bits and Pieces

Yes, today we cover a potpourri of stories, none of which deserve a full Rant, but need to be spoken about anyway.

I used the word potpourri on purpose.

I was watching a "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" rerun the other day, and I remembered what they made of the name, and how they snubbed their noses at the censors.

Remember, they said it was "pot-pourri," and it was pretty funny how they got away with that.

Anyway, back to the stories of the day.

President Trump to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel's Capital: This will be a momentous occasion, as later today, our President is to hold a news conference announcing that our country will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, with plans to move the embassy there.

But he has to back up his words with actions.

You just can't pick a building, say that is your consulate, and you move everything over there as if you were moving from one house to another, with a big moving van holding all the contents, transporting the stuff from one place or another.

It has to be laid out over a couple of months, if not even a couple of years.

If the President simply says that our country recognizes Jersualem as the capital of Israel, and he gives no further timetable for the move of the embassy, it is kind of an empty declaration.

Tel Aviv will probably remain sort of a lame duck capital for a while, but the President must give that timetable.

And what will he say about East Jerusalem, which Israel has occupied for decades and which is the most contentious piece of the entire deal, coveted by both the Israelis and Palestinians?

Many people don't want to see Trump declare anything about Jerusalem, but this could be the first step toward the Israeli/Palestinian impasse ending, in particular if he says that while he recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital, that in good faith, Israel should hand over East Jerusalem to the Palestinians to set up their own land.

I don't think this will happen, and the Palestinians have proven time and time again that they not only want East Jerusalem, they want all of Jerusalem and all of Israel for their own. And this way of thinking goes all the way back to the creation of Israel in 1948, when they--and the rest of the Arab world--would not settle for a two country solution.

Let's see what happens. This could be a momentous day, or the same old same old.

Mitch Margo Dies: Some of you probably don't know who Mitch Margo was, but if you listened to your radio in the 1960s, you heard a lot of his work right there on the AM dial.

Margo, 70, was an original member of the Tokens singing group, the pianist for the act that brought "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" to American audiences.

The song was a number one hit for the act in the early 1960s, and became a hit all over again when it was used in Disney's "The Lion King."

But the Tokens were a bit more than a one-hit act. They had other big records, including "Tonight I Fall In Love," and they had a slew of middling singles on the middle to end part of the Hot 100, including "I Hear Trumpets Blow," but they were a bit more than just an act with several hits.

They were the guys behind the Happenings, who scored several hits on their own, including "See You in September on the Tokens' B.T. Puppy record label.

They also wrote a lot of music for commercials, including "She Let's Her Hair Down (Early In the Morning)," which had its beginnings as a TV jingle for a shampoo, and proved so popular that it was expanded to a full-length single.

And they also recorded under a number of aliases, including "Cross Country," which allowed them to have charted records into the 1970s.

The Tokens were quite an interesting act, and Margo was right in the middle of it all.

LiAngelo Ball Saga Continues: You might remember that this guy was one of the three UCLA players who got caught shoplifting in China and could have served a long sentence there if not for the intervention of President Trump, who made some sort of a deal to get them out.

Since then, it has been sour grapes all around, as the President only wanted a thank you for his efforts, but got a diatribe of imbecilic responses from Ball's obviously mentally incompetent father, LaVar, who has come off as perhaps one of the dumbest people on the planet in these responses.

The younger Ball said that he did what he did because he thought he could get away with it, and what's more, he was coerced by the other two teammates to do what he did.

Yes, and again, I have a nice bridge to sell you if you believe all of this.

Furthermore, the elder Ball says that UCLA has not treated his son kindly with its suspension of his son, and the younger Ball will move elsewhere to play ball at some other college.

Of course, education has nothing to do with it, basketball is the only reason that the younger Ball is going to college.

Now, that on the surface shows how ridiculous this thing has gotten, but, of course, this is a prevailing opinion among many NCAA athletes--they go to college to play ball and prepare for the major leagues of whatever sport they are playing.

The NCAA is at fault on this, by letting this prevailing opinion go on for decades.

But the Balls are responsible for their reprehensible behavior since the younger Ball has come back home, and honestly, I don't think that UCLA really cares that it is losing its non-star player in the least, and it probably hopes the other two take a hike, too.

Update on My Job Hunt: To show you how it goes, yes, I am still employed, but our place is still teetering on oblivion. It is difficult to explain this to any one of you who have not been in this situation, but every day could be the final day for this place.

Anyway, I got a call recently from a prospective employer, who evidently kept my resume since June and wanted to chat with me about employment.

He called my home, and I was at work, of course, so my wife, who got home before me that day, texted me and told me I had this call.

I could not contact them in the middle of work, so once work ended, I got in my car, and called the company as I was driving home.

"Hello, may I speak to ---------?"

"He is not here now."

"OK, can you take a message?"

"No. Nobody is here now. Call back tomorrow." (Of course, this made no sense, because the person on the line that I spoke to was there.)

"Can you take a message? It is difficult to call, and I cannot call during work."

"No. Call tomorrow."

Well, this left a bad taste in my mouth, but I pursued it, and I got the same woman on the phone again the next day and I did it on my lunch break.

"Can I speak to-----------?"

"He is not here now. Call tomorrow."

"M'am, look, I spoke to you yesterday. It is very difficult for me to call during the day at work. Can you please take a message?"

"Why can't you just call tomorrow?"

"Because I want --------- to know that I called. It has to do with employment. He was calling about my resume."

Finally, she agreed to take the message, and as you can assume, I am cutting this conversation down a bit, it took her several minutes to agree to do this.

"When can ---------------- call you?"

"Please have him call me at lunch time, around 12:30 or so, or after work, at about 5:30 or so."

And I thought she took that all down.

The next day, I get a call on my cell phone at 9:30 in the morning from the fellow. I ran into the bathroom, and he is just going on and on and on, asking me questions.

"Please, sir, can I call you back at lunch time? I cannot talk now. I am at work and honestly, I am in the bathroom now speaking to you."

"OK. I will call next week."

"Can I call you?"

NO, DO NOT CALL ME (yes, his voice level went up). I WILL CALL YOU."

And that was the end of that. Never heard from the guy again ... only because the woman pretty much refused to take a message, and when she did, she screwed up what I told her.

So goes the life of someone looking for a new position.

It stinks like rotten cheese.

I have some personal business to attend to tomorrow, so I won't be able to speak with you again until Friday.

Have a great Thursday.

Classic Rant #690 (March 7, 2012): Kirk's Growing Pains

Once again. people are putting too much emphasis on what an actor says.

Again, I ask, why are actors all of a sudden spokesmen for our civilization?

Kirk Cameron, one-time boy heart throb on ABC's "Growing Pains" sitcom, recently made some comments about gays that many believed were antagonistic to the gay community.

On the Piers Morgan program on CNN, Cameron said that being gay was "detrimental," "unnatural," and "ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization."

When people heard that, they got simply hysterical. Fellow actors criticized him for his view, and seemingly, everybody had an opinion on what Cameron said.

Even his former "Growing Pains" co-stars came out against Cameron, as if anybody really cares what they have to say either.

Heck, Cameron's received more press from this incident than he did during his "Growing Pains" tenure.

Cameron is a born-again Christian who has appeared in faith-based movies and co-founded a California-based evangelical ministry.

No, he isn't a teenybopper anymore.

Once the backlash began, he kind of backpedalled, like any good "politician" would do, stating that "It's my life's mission to love people."

He also said something more important: "I should be able to express moral views on social issues, especially those that have been the underpinning of Western Civilization for 2,000 years, without being slandered, accused of hate speech, and told by those who preach tolerance that I need to either bend my beliefs to their moral standards or be silent when I'm in the public square."

At least on this point, he is right.

This is America, where free speech is guaranteed and protected by the Constitution. He has a right to say what he wants.

If people want to disagree with him, that is fine.

That is what our country is all about.

Whatever you think about what he said, number one, he has a right to say it and believe it, and number two, remember, this isn't coming from a politician or somebody who really carries any weight.

He is an actor, remember? And he will dig his own hole--he's already done it.

Funny, when actors and others come out for gay rights, I don't hear people getting hysterical like this.

When Mel Gibson comes out with his anti-Semitic diatribes, I don't hear so many people rallying around him, ready to burn him at the stake, as I have heard many people want to do with Cameron.

But like Cameron, Gibson can say what he wants in this country.

He is ignorant, Cameron is ignorant, and let's leave it at that.

They are actors, not the creators of public policy. They are performers. Sure, they have a soapbox to stand on because of who they are, but c'mon, who is really going to pay attention to someone like this?

But the bottom line is the following:

Are the PC police patrolling around, looking for dimwitted people like Cameron to make an example of?

You bet they are!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Rant #2,037: Love Is Like a Baseball Game

The New York Yankees officially announced yesterday that they had chosen Aaron Boone as their manager, succeeding Joe Girardi, who lasted in the job for 10 years after Joe Torre helmed the Bronx Bombers for a dozen years.

I have nothing at all against Boone--he comes from a great baseball family, he hit the homerun against the Boston Red Sox in the 11th inning of the League Championship Series in 2003, propelling the Yankees into the World Series--but I have to really wonder about the reasons that a change was made in the first place.

The Yankees claim that Girardi did not communicate with his players that well, and even though from what I have read, no one had a problem with his communication, the team management claims that the lack of communication--in particular, with a young team like this--is something that they questioned throughout Girardi's tenure.

With the team on the brink of something special, they felt a change was needed to a more player-friendly manager, and Boone was their choice.

And if you believe all this, I have a bridge to sell you at dirt cheap prices.

No, no matter how much the Yankees want to paint this type of picture, it is quite obvious why the team dumped Girardi, and yes, it had to do with communication ...

Of the worth of his paycheck.

They can moan all they want about communication, but as I said, players that were spoken to have unanimously said that they had a great relationship with Girardi, a former player himself--a former Yankees player--who understood the clubhouse.

What it all had to do with was money, and probably also length of contract.

The Yankees over-excelled in 2017, riding on the shoulders of super-rookie Aaron Judge, a rejuvenated C.C. Sabathia, and a young core, including Gary Sanchez. They almost made it to the World Series, and few picked them to even win a series, period.

I think management thought that Girardi was taking too much of the credit, himself, for lifting the team beyond any and all expectations, and when his contract came up for renewal, they felt he was asking for way too much, and probably, way too many years.

When they could not come to an agreement, they pretty much took the easy way out, saying that whatever happened in 2017, Girardi was not going to be the manager in 2018.

And that included bringing the Yankees to the World Series, if that were to have happened.

It didn't, but who could argue that the Yankees were the surprise team of 2017?

Girardi, even if you didn't agree with all his moves during the season, had a hand in that, for sure.

But it is a smokescreen to say that Girardi did not communicate with his players well enough, because even if he didn't, look at the results on the field.

They spoke volumes about his ability as a manager.

And yes, Girardi said he was surprised that he wasn't asked back, another indication that this is all a smokescreen for something beyond his lack of communication.

Boone will be on the hot seat from the get go in 2018.

The Yankees made so much unexpected noise in 2017 that they have to be looked at as legitimate World Series contenders in 2018.

If he cannot get them that far, his tenure may be a short one.

Boone is a certified Yankees hero, but let me tell you about another certified Yankees hero, Bucky Dent.

Dent also hit a homer against the Red Sox to propel the Yankees to the World Series, and he was also years later named as Yankees manager.

Yes, the situation was a different one, but he didn't even last the season as the team's skipper.

Boone, and the Yankees, should remember this.

Nothing is guaranteed.

As a Yankees fan, I wish Aaron Boone success, but he will be on the hot seat.

He has never managed or coached at any level, and his ability as a communicator won't matter if the Yankees don't get to the promised land.

And yes, if you were wondering, Boone--whose grandfather, father and brother played in the major leagues and who has other relatives who played minor league baseball--is a descendant of frontiersman Daniel Boone.

If things don't go right for him, he will need those "Booneian" survival skills to make it through the season.

Let's hope it doesn't go that way.

Classic Rant #689 (March 6, 2012): The Perfect Cookie

Usually in this space we celebrate birthdays of people who have come onto the radar, at least for a little bit, and changed our lives in one way or another.

Today, we will celebrate the 100th birthday of a cookie that has probably changed our lives, at least just a little bit, or at least enriched our lives to some degree--and I say this in a politically correct time when anything fattening is instantly labeled as being "no good."

Nabisco's Oreo cookie celebrates its 100th birthday today, and while this pales in comparison to the birthday of a famous person, let's say Gandhi, it is still significant.

The cookie was created in 1912 by the National Biscuit Company, with the chocolate cookie on the outside hiding the vanilla cream in the middle. That basic cookie has been with us for the past 100 years, but of course, there have been variations to the basic Oreo.

There have been Oreos with different-flavored middles, like orange and chocolate.

There have been inside-out, topsy-turvy Oreos, with a vanilla cookie and chocolate center.

And in other countries, there are as many variations of Oreos as can possibly be, including Oreos that have a fishy flavor.

But the basic Oreo stands as, in my mind, the perfect cookie.

Who hasn't sat down with a glass of milk and chomped down on a couple of Oreos?

I am sure most of us have.

Just as an aside, the Hydrox cookie predated the Oreo cookie by a good four years, but Hydrox never reached the heights of the Oreo cookie. Some claim that the Oreo was a knockoff of the Hydrox cookie, but Hydrox always had the reputation of being a knockoff of an Oreo.

But Hydrox simply wasn't as good a cookie as the Oreo was. It didn't have the sweetness of an Oreo, and in comparison, was pretty bland.

Back to the Oreo ...

Oreos were never meant to be diet foods, although there are lower-calorie Oreos on the market.

There are also larger Oreos, for those who just can't get enough of the cookie.

As I said, it is the perfect cookie, whether large or small. It offers just enough sweetness to get you by during the day, and it is the cookie that you can also relax to.

Is there anything more relaxing than taking a cookie break with an Oreo?

I went through a period where I would try to separate the cookie's halves. I would twist the thing and try not to break it.

I don't bother doing that anymore--why should I? The cookie tastes better not in pieces, but as one.

Oreos have taken us through 100 years of ups and downs, and it could be counted on to satisfy us when we were down, and when we were up.

It has even taken on social connotations. I am not going to get into what it means when you call someone an Oreo, but it isn't a very nice appellation to give to someone.

But as a cookie, the Oreo is grand.

Is there anything better than an Oreo?

Probably not.

Happy 100th birthday to the Oreo. It is incredible how a simple idea led to so much joy.

(And a "Shout Out" to one of the greatest comedians ever, Lou Costello, who would have been 106 today! "You're a bad boy," even on your birthday, Lou.)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Rant #2,035: Crumblin' Down

This was a pretty slow weekend in my neck of the woods.

There is nothing much to report on my end.

And evidently, nothing much to report on the Pontiac Silverdome's end either.

I am sure that you heard that the fabled stadium, which was the home of the Detroit Lions and Detroit Pistons for years, was supposed to come down this weekend.

Everything was set up, the explosives were in place, and people gathered to see this thing as they always do when older stadiums and arenas are to come down in one fell swoop like this.

I don't get what all the hoopla is about these things, but people really get into stadiums coming down like this. I guess it is akin to watching fireworks.

But anyway, the button was pushed, and the walls were to come down.

But it didn't happen.

Video shown on probably just about every news program in the country showed that the stadium was even greater than the explosives, and refused to budge much.

Officials said the cause of the non-collapse was a wiring issue on the eight main beams caused the charges to fail to level the arena.

The problem now is that while the facility did not fall to the ground, those beams were weakened, and they now could come down on their own at any time, making the site a hazard for anyone who has to go near there.

The last I heard is that another demolition of this sort has not yet been scheduled. I guess officials are waiting to see if this thing falls down under its own new weaknesses.

The Silverdome opened in 1975 and not only was the home arena for the Lions and Pistons, but it also hosted events ranging from a Pope visit to Wrestlemania.

Personally, it is sad to see venerable stadiums and arenas fall to the ground like this, replaced by supposedly more user-friendly facilities that are seemingly only erected to pad the pockets of owners.

Heck, I still don't understand why the Yankees needed a new Yankee Stadium (well, actually, I do know, but the reasons to me don't hold up), and so many other stadiums and arenas have come down in recent times, some not even of a reverential age.

But back to the Silverdome ... will it ever fall to the ground?

This was actually one phase of a multi-phase project to get rid of the stadium that is planned for the next 12 months, so yes, the facility will vanish, one way or the other, after time.

I just like that it didn't fall down like it was planned to with this non-implosion.

It's like the arena itself was talking, saying "Not so fast."

Maybe officials should take heed of the possibility of such stubbornness when they want to get rid of such a facility in the future.