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Monday, April 24, 2017

Rant #1,889: Only the Strong Survive

The death of former child actress Erin Moran over the weekend provides us with another cautionary tale about how fame is so fleeting in Hollywood.

Heck, this has been going on since the days of Jackie Coogan: Hollywood spits out child actors by the bushel full, and Hollywood also often chews them up when they are not so young anymore.

Moran started acting when she was a young girl, and her happy face was on a number of TV shows way before "Happy Days" was a thought in anyone's eye.

But when "Happy Days" came about, her world changed.

As the star of one of the top shows on TV in the early to mid 1970s, Moran became a weekly fixture on television, made scads of money, yet was only in her early teens when the show took off.

Her character--Joanie Cunningham, the younger sister of Richie Cunningham--became so popular at one point that the character was spun off into "Joanie Loves Chaci," probably one of the worst TV spinoffs in history.

Somehow, it lasted one season, but even though it showed a more grown-up Joanie character, I think to the viewing public, Moran was always going to be that smiling, young face,

When "Happy Days" finally ended, Moran evidently was left somewhat directionless. She was no younger a child star, and was now competing with other 20-ish starlets for parts in movies and TV shows.

Just look in your search engine for Erin Moran, and go to photos, and you can see that she did try to change her image.

Her photos became more mature and sexier, she showed a little skin on top (never nude), but at this point, she was becoming the has-been TV child star that we have seen so many of over the years, the Rusty Hamers, the Dana Platos of the world who were what they were, but never could seemingly escape from that picture we had of them as kids.

She worked here and there, but unlike Ron Howard, her co-star on "Happy Days," she could not morph into something else and make it in Hollywood beyond the show.

She kind of faded away from Hollywood, and her reported dive into a non-social type of lifestyle and relative poverty would occasionally bring her back to some type of notoriety, but not of the positive kind.

Evidently, later in her life, she became a hard living woman, abusing herself with smoking and drinking and from the photos I have seen, really did not ease into her later years too gracefully.

Other child stars reached out to her, and Paul Petersen--himself something of a child star reclamation project who headed "A MInor Consideration," an organization whose sole purpose is to make sure that former child stars were handling life after stardom--said this weekend that they did what they could with Moran, but part of the deal is that you have to want to help yourself, and Moran simply didn't accept that.

And after it all, Moran died at 56, as of yet unknown causes.

Many child stars make it just fine in the adult world, certainly Howard, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jerry Mathers, Micky Dolenz, Shelley Fabares, Jennifer Love Hewitt are just a few of these successes--but for every one that makes it, there seems to be others who fall by the wayside, including Gary Coleman, Jay North, and Kim Richards, who somehow just can't get on their feet as adults.

"A Minor Consideration" has certainly helped many move on from one life step to another--it certainly helped North, who was physically, mentally and emotionally abused behind the scenes as the star of "Dennis the Menace" but has since moved on to a nice private life outside of the business after many years of free-fall--but it hits with as many as it misses.

So is the nature of Hollywood, where you are hot one day, yesterday's news the other.

But when it affects a kid, it makes it all the more worse.

Rant #543 (July 11, 2011): A Flair For the Dramatic

Well, it took an extra day, but the New York Yankees' Derek Jeter has finally gone into the record books as he collected his 3,000th hit during Saturday's game with the Tampa Bay Rays.

And he collected his 3,001st, 3,002nd, and 3,003rd hits too.

And before all that, he got his 2,999th hit, which set the whole day up.

And his 3,000th hit was a home run.

And his 3,003rd hit was the game winner.

Does this guy have a flair for the dramatic or what?

Even Jeter said in postgame interviews that nobody would buy this if it was merely a script for a Hollywood movie.

But it actually happened!

Jeter simply rises to the occasion. He knows when something is big, and this day was big for himself.

He wanted to get his 3,000th hit at home, and since there was a rainout on Friday, he had just two games to do it before the All-Star break. After the All-Star break, the Yankees go into the second half of the 2011 season on the road, so it was almost an imperative that he get the hit this weekend.

And he did.

And the guy who caught the homerun gave up the ball willingly. He could have made thousands off of it, but he just felt it was the right thing to do.

Yes, the Yankees gave him plenty of stuff in return, including the use of a luxury box for the rest of the season, into the playoffs and World Series, if the Bronx Bombers are lucky enough to get there.

But Jeter's 3,003rd hit was actually the bigger hit, as it brought in what amounted to the winning run in a tight 5-4 game.

And for the record, for good measure, Jeter got another hit yesterday in the Yankees' 1-0 victory over the Rays, so he is now up to 3,004.

Anybody want to start a countdown for 3,500? How about 4,000?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Rant #1,888: Looking For a Video Game System In All the Wrong Places

As if I don't have enough things to get frustrated about ,,,

My son enjoys to play video games, and he has always found them to be relaxing to him.

I guess everyone has their pleasures--as described in yesterday's Rant--and this one is his.

And that is why, so many months ago, when he heard about the new Nintendo Switch--a gaming system that you could both play on your hime TV and continue to play as a convertible portable device--he felt that it was something he had to have.

He really enjoys the Mario family of games, so this was a natural for him.

the problem is that he may want the gaming unit, but as it has been for past gaming units--such as Nintendo Wii--their initial availability is limited, all to pique interest in the device.

So, like we did with the Wii, we went about trying to get this thing, going from store to store looking for it, and coming back empty handed.

We have been persistent, looking for this unit both in brick and mortar stores and online, but to no avail.

Finally, abuut a month ago, while waiting for my son to finish work one Sunday afternoon, I went online to and found the Switch at a price that was pretty much what they were selling it for in stores when it was available, plus tax, and I didn't tell my son, but I ordered it for him, with the estimated delivery date on April 17.

We spoke about the Switch many times since then, and I told him that I was still looking for it, and that he would get it soon, never letting on that I had already ordered the device for him.

The weeks came and went, and we still talked about it, and all the while I felt that I was boosting my son's anticipation for the device by telling him that he would have it, but I didn't know when.

Again, I never let on that I had ordered it for him.

I checked the order's progression each and every day on amazon, and I was assured that it was on its way.

April 17 came this week, and to my chagrin, we had not received the unit.

I know how funny the mail can be, so I gave it a few days to arrive, but as of yesterday, it had not yet come.

I contacted amazon with this problem, and I got an almost immediate response--

The seller had left the amazon platform, and could not be reached.

As you could imagine, I was quite upset. The anticipation of getting this thing had built up over many weeks, and now I know that the seller was pushing a sham, and that I had been taken for a ride.

But amazon is as reputable a company as there is on this planet now. I have had some dealings with them about merchandise in the past, and they have always rectified these situations very quickly.

And they did it this time too.

Once I alerted them, within minutes, I was given a full refund.

They kind of gave me a light scolding for ordering from a third-party seller rather than directly from them--the price was simply better from the third-party seller, and why have them up there if they are unscrupulous to being with?--but my money was returned quickly.

That is all fine and good, but the bottom line is that my son still does not have his gaming unit, and my search has to begin again.

Sure, it is really not as important as other things are, but to my son--who still does not know that I was thisclose to getting him what he wanted--he still doesn't have this thing that he so much wants to have.

The bottom line is that my search goes on posthaste, and I hope to soon get him exactly what he wants.

He is a good kid, and he deserves to get what he wants.

And one day, my search will be fruitful.

I guess there are no "sure things" in life, even when it comes to video game units.

Have a good weekend. I will speak to you again on Monday.

Classic Rant #542 (July 8, 2011): Hats Off To 3,000

OK, I am going to do something I have held off doing for a while.

Congratulations to Derek Jeter on his 3,000th hit.

No, he hasn't reached the milestone yet. He currently has 2,998 hits, and has three games before the All-Star break to reach this milestone.

And I hope he reaches the milestone, and passes it, tonight.

Since I don't write on the weekends, I am going to congratulate him right now.

Playing his entire career for my beloved New York Yankees, he has been one of their finest players ever. In fact, when he reaches his 3,000th hit, he will be the only Yankee to do so in their history.

Yes, the only one.

But I wish he would get it already. The road to this hit has become a distraction to the team, and they are currently playing like it is a distraction, falling into second place in the American League East behind the hated Boston Red Sox with the Bronx Bombers' loss last night.

Attention has turned away from the games and directly to Jeter.

This is media nonsense, but it is what it is, and it has to affect the players. They are playing for the chance to win it all, to go through the playoffs and the World Series, but they have this great albatross to get off their backs.

And it is a huge one.

This is no knock against Jeter. He has been an incredibly gifted athlete.

Jeter is not the player he once was, but who is after so many season? He has given baseball fans thrills since he broke in 16 years ago.

All these years later, hiis productivity has dipped, but his popularity has skyrocketed.

He may be the most popular player ever to don a Yankee uniform.

Sure, he gets cheers at home. That is to be expected.

But he is about the only Yankee star I can ever remember who gets cheers on the road.

I wasn't around for Ruth, Gehrig or DiMaggio, so I can't comment on them. I do remember the Mick though. Mickey Mantle did get cheers toward the end of his career, but remember, he at one time was even booed at home.

I don't remember Jeter ever getting booed at home.

Anyway, I hope Jeter does it tonight, and the Yankees win.

And remember, that is the important thing. If Jeter gets his hits and the Yankees lose to the Tampa Bay Rays, it might make the back and front pages of the paper, but the team will continue in its doldrums.

That can't happen, and I doubt that Jeter would want it to happen this way.

My prediction: he does it tonight, with two hits, one a single to centerfield and the 3,000th a single to rightfield.

He doffs his hat in appreciation, but more importantly, he makes a great play in the field at shortstop to lead the Yankees to a 5-3 victory.

Let's see if I am as clairvoyant as I want to be in this instance.

And let's get it done and over with already.

(This will have to wait a day. Tonight's game was rained out.)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Rant #1,887: Rainbow Connection

I am going to start this Rant out right away and tell you that I am not a coffee drinker.

I never liked the stuff, never was tempted by its aroma, by its smell, or the fact that when you are a kid, drinking coffee means that you were growing up.

Me, I went for the milk or the soda depending on the situation, and even at this advanced age, I never, ever go for the coffee.

It is simply not me.

My wife loves coffee, my mother, in particular, enjoys it, and probably billions of people around the world drink coffee each day.

And in recent years, Starbucks has lifted the drinking of coffee to a science, and while doing so, has brought in the big bucks into its coffers.

Yes, it is aptly named as "StarBUCKS," with the emphasis on the "bucks."

Anyway, it was announced the other day that the company has a new beverage that it is offering for a limited time called "Unicorn Frappuccino" that actually changes colors and flavors simply by stirring the mix with your straw.

Evidently, the drink starts out as purple with a sweet and fruity taste. However, once users stir the concoction, the drink becomes pink and tart as the blue drizzle on top is mixed in.

I guess people like novelties, and for the serious coffee drinker, this is just that.

And you better get it right now, because as of Sunday, the drink will be history.

Again, I am not a coffee drinker at all, so I know that I simply do not get the allure of the beverage.

But people swear by it, so I guess the caffeine in the coffee is as addictive as nicotine in a cigarette--another vice I never got--but far less harmful.

Having said that, I don't get why the serious coffee drinker would actually plunk down several dollars for this novelty drink, other than the fact that, yes, this is a novelty drink that won't be available for too long. One can say that they tried it while it was available ... I guess it is like adding another notch to your overall coffee experience.

And its popularity--or its negativity if people don't buy it--gives those at Starbucks the information it needs to explore other concoctions--or not to explore other concoctions--in the future.

I don't know if my wife will try this--she much prefers Dunkin' Donuts coffee anyway, and at one time she could not drink Starbucks coffee because she found it too harsh for her system--but I will bet that millions will give it a gulp.

Me, I will stay with my soda and milk, and look at these people who "must have their coffee to get going in the morning" with a bit of chagrin.

You shouldn't need a heap of caffeine to get you moving in the morning, but to those who are addicted, I guess it is better than smoking a cigarette.

We are all addicted to something, and being addicted to caffeine isn't the worst vice that one can have.

I guess.

Classic Rant #541 (July 7, 2011): Ringo At 71

Since we are in the birthday mood ...

Ringo Starr is 71 today.

It is quite hard to believe that this former moptop drummer of the Beatles is in his 70s now, but he is.

I remember when they burst onto the American scene in February 1964 on "The Ed Sullivan Show." They were so young, so full of pep, so good in all ways.

You just thought this thing would never end. They would always be young, full of pep, and so good in all ways.

But then reality sets in. John Lennon was murdered, George Harrison died of cancer. Paul McCartney has been through numerous ups and downs in his love life.

Celebrities go through their own travails much like the rest of us humans do.

Ringo certainly went through his. His demon was alcohol, and once he conquered that, the world was his oyster, and it has been for decades now.

He still records when he wants to, and I will bet that if you asked him if he would ever have another hit record, he would probably say, "Who cares?"

He records for the sake of recording. He has had hits both as a member of the Beatles and on his own, so what difference does it make now?

And Ringo looks terrific. The problem that celebrities have that normal people like you and me don't have is that they age right before us, on a grand stage.

So yes, Ringo has aged, but he seems to have aged gracefully. He seems to have grown into his body, and to me, he looks really good.

And he has learned to laugh at himself, and you can see that in the video I attached to this post. Personally, of the four Beatles, I think he got the whole "thing" more than any one of them did. He was a bit older than them, and I think this allowed him to see the experience a bit differently than his bandmates.

Richard Starkey is 71. Unbelievable, but true.

The funny thing to me is that he is just nine years younger than my parents are.

Happy birthday, Ringo. Hopefully, that "Yellow Submarine" will afford you many more years with us.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Rant #1,886: Bits and Pieces

There are a few stories out there that I would like to comment on, but they don't deserve full Rant status, so I will cover them bit by bit, piece by piece.

Here goes ...

1) "Facebook Killer" Commits Suicide: In what has to go down as the end to the most bizarre story of the young year, Steve Stephens, the alleged "Facebook Killer" who murdered an elderly man while broadcasting the act on Facebook, committed suicide yesterday before he could get caught for his evil act.

Stephens was a youth worker who was going through relationship problems, had a huge gambling problem, and simply snapped. Not only did he murder his random victim and put the act on Facebook--where it incredibly was available for viewing for three hours before being taken down--but he bragged that he had killed others prior to this act, and would kill again.

Right now, the murder of the elderly man--a victim who evidently was picked randomly--is the only murder that police can be sure he committed, although I bet that they are combing the unsolved murder records in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware and other surrounding states to see if they can link Stephens to any other deaths.

First of all, I once again ask why Facebook does not police its site better. How could such a heinous video actually be up and available for people to watch for three hours? They must do a better job, because in my mind, they are culpable in this murder.

Second, where are the Black Lives Matter people in this horrid incident? Shouldn't this be what they are protesting, black on black violence, which is way more of a problem in the black community than police on black violence is, but is ignored by them, as well as the media, because it is something that is so hard to admit?

2) Yankees' Win Streak Ends At Eight: Well, it was fun while it lasted, wasn't it?

The Yankees, supposedly in a rebuilding year and playing their kids, rolled off eight straight wins after losing four of their first five games this season. They lost last night, 4-1, to the White Sox, but still have a nice 9-5 record, way better than anyone thought they would have at this point.

Sure, it is early in the season, and the season can come back and bite them, and this eight game winning streak could be just a memory by September, but it was fun while it lasted.

The funny thing is that it pretty much coincided with the coming of Passover, the eight day Jewish celebration where, among other things, no bread is eaten.

So, now that the holiday has ended--as of sunset yesterday--and Jews can eat bread, does that mean that things will also get back to "normal" with the Yankees, that being that they are not the team that the eight game winning streak suggested?

Is there some type of cosmic tie-in between the eight game winning streak and Passover?

3) New York Weather Wavers: I have been talking about the weather lately here, and for good reason. You can't go from the 50s to the 80s and back to the 50s and 60s in one fell swoop without it having some time of ripple effect, and it certainly has on me, what with my bad allergies.

Yesterday was such a day, where my allergies were bad, from my eyes to my nose to my throat.

The pollen counts lately have been in the 10 range and up, which is not good, not good at all for people like me.

Today, it is supposed to rain sometime during the day, which should push pollen counts down a little bit. It should also be cooler today, more in the 50s, so it should be a better day.

However, having been up about an hour as I type this, my nose is still running like a faucet, although my eyes and throat do feel a bit better than yesterday.

Let's see how the day plays out.

4) Job Situation Update:

So there it is, four topics covered in the bat of an eye.

Speak to you again tomorrow.