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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Rant #1,522: Smokin' Hot (Not)

I am overworked, tired, not in the mood for much today, but here I am, at 4:21 in the morning, writing this Rant that you are reading right now.

I should be done by about 5 a.m. or so, give or take a few minutes.

I did not sleep very well last night. I conked out during a horrible Yankees game at about 8:30 p.m., awoke about 12:30 a.m., and have pretty much been up, off and on, the rest of the time before I finally got up at a couple of minutes past 3:30 a.m.

No, I do not have sleep apnea--I was tested for that a few years ago--I am simply a light sleeper. I take after my mother and her mother, my maternal grandmother. They were both light sleepers.

They got up very early in the morning to clean their respective homes, so at 4 a.m. in the morning, they were often on their hands and knees scrubbing their floors or they were behind a vacuum cleaner picking up whatever dirt there may have been on the ground.

And take it from me, there wasn't much.

Me, I get up, take a shower, eat breakfast, and do my thing here.

Pretty exciting, I will agree.

I am super tired lately, because I am doing this routine six days a week, less a Rant on Saturday.

My place of business is supposedly busy right now, so we all have to pitch in.

But right now, it is like I have a dead brain, much like pitchers have a dead arm. I have worked too many hours and I find I can't think anymore.

It does not prevent me from doing my job, but it is making things a bit more difficult.

It isn't quite writer's block, but it is something near it. I can still write, but I simply don't have the verve and energy that I had a few weeks back.

So right now, I am not smokin' hot with anything much, just moving along from one trampoline to the next.

I hate being this way, and I just need a few days to slow down and get back to where I should be.

My problem is that I don't know when those days will be coming.

I look at my son--all bright eyes and bushy tailed when he goes to work--and I wish I was like that, too.

I was at one time, but now, it is all so "same old, same old, that I guess I am the proverbial hamster in the cage, going on his wheel to nowhere.

Yes, this is depressing, but I can take solace in the fact that my son is working--it took quite a long time for him to be employed, as I have spelled out here before--and not only does he seem to like what he is doing, but so does his place of business, as I received an email yesterday confirming the fact that he is doing well there.

It gave my wife and I great pride, and gave us a bit more gas in our tank to push forward in our own jobs.

So while I guess I am crabbing a bit, it is not a "woe is me" thing.

I look at my son, and also at my daughter, and I have to push on and make the best of the situation.

Kids make you old in one way, and make you young in other ways.

Here, because of their presence in my life, I have to think like a 20-something in their first real job.

With my daughter, it is more of a third-person thing, since I rarely see her, but I do think about her too.

But as for pushing on because of them, it is difficult at 58 years of age to do that, but I have to find ways to do that, and I will.

I owe it to him, and to her, and to my family in general.

So I guess this is a happy post, after all, because it helped me work out the direction I must take while at work, to press on for my family, my wife included.

Believe me, I have been on the other side of the fence, and unemployment is not fun.

So I almost have to look at it as one versus the other. Would I rather be home, with no job, or where I am, with a job, albeit one that is draining me down to the nub?

The answer is obvious.

So maybe I am smokin' hot after all, ready for today's challenges.

To steal a phrase, "Hi Yo, Silver, and away we go!

Classic Rant #174 (January 18, 2010): MLK Day: A Day of Sales, A Day To Relax

I don't know how to be "nice" about this without being very blunt, but here goes:

The Martin Luther King holiday today is nothing but a day of sales for most people, a day off from the usual drudgery of the beginning of the work week.

Oh, I could be politically correct and say that the holiday is a time of remembrance, a time when we should look inward and outward and cast ourselves on the path that Dr. King made for us.

But, I can't say that.

This is a day off. A holiday to shop, with lots of bargains.

I mean, ask yourself, "Will I be reflecting today, or will I be relaxing?"

I will bet I know the answer.

Look, the holiday is well-intended. Some could argue that the holiday is not warranted, Other could argue that it is.

But to make it something that it isn't, well, it's wrong.

Do we reflect on President's Day? How much do we reflect on Memorial Day and July 4?

We look at these days as a day off, if we are fortunate to work for a company which gives us off for these days.

Me, I am working today, my wife is too, so it is a typical Monday for us.

But again, this holiday falls in the politically correct sphere which I simply won't enter. You will see on your newscasts today people in church, others talking about the work of Dr. King, and I know President Obama will make some type of speech about Dr. King.

That is all fine and good, but again, it's the politically correct way to go.

Sure, I may be cynical, but I am also a realist. For every person that reflects today, there are thousands that are sleeping later than normal.

If you want to see a remnant of Dr. King's work, I can give you one, one that I guarantee is making him smile as he looks down at the world.

My white, Jewish son is hanging out today with his black friend, and they are going to see a movie which stars an Asian actor (Jackie Chan).

Well, I don't know if it is exactly what Dr. King wanted, but it shows that friendship--and entertainment--sees no color.

And I guess in a minor way, that is what Dr. King wanted.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Rant #1,521: Rev Up, You Run Too Slow

As the baseball season winds down and moves into the playoffs, an interesting scene happened the other day with a team not making those cherished playoffs.

The forever under-achieving Washington Nationals have some type of curse hanging over the team, brought with them from Montreal when they were the Expos, mixed in with the curse of baseball teams that have played in Washington.

It is a potent mix, and one that showed its ugly head during a game this weekend.

The Nationals have been out of it for some time. The New York Mets, a much hungrier team than the Nationals, ran away with the National League East title, even though, once again, on paper, the Nationals have perhaps the most talent of any team in that league.

They also have the league's best player in Bryce Harper, the true face of the league and probably one of the two or three best players in the overall game today.

Harper is treated like royalty by the Nationals, and they really let him get away with just about everything.

In the game in question, Harper hit a lazy fly ball, and he didn't really bust it out of the gates to first base.

Things do happen, fly balls are lost in the sun or as any good Little League player will tell you, you can't catch everything.

But Rule 1 in Little League is that you run everything out, no matter what, because once a ball is in play, anything can happen.

Well, Harper ran, but he didn't run hard to first base, and the issue was taken up by forever disgruntled relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon, who has been with the team about two months.

When Harper came back to the dugout, Papelbon ripped into him about his hustle, one thing led to another, and the two started fighting in the dugout, throwing haymakers at each other.

The scuffle was quickly broken up, and Papelbon later entered the game and was awful.

The manager of the team, Matt Williams, claimed he did not realize the two were fighting, and that whatever discipline handed out would be done behind closed doors.

Papelbon was suspended by the team--he was already suspended for hitting a batter in an earlier game, so this effectively ended his season--and Harper sat for a game.

That is it.

What led to the confrontation might have been Harper going to the media a few days earlier--rather than to the manager or Papelbon--bemoaning the fact that Papelbon's recent head hunting might have put a target on his own back.

Everybody is wrong here. Harper should bust it out of the gate. He is the National League's best player, and he sets an example for the rest of the team.

He gives off the smell of a spoiled brat, who is protected by his team no matter what the circumstance.

Papelbon should not have aired this dirty laundry in the dugout during the game.

As a veteran, he could have taken Harper aside and told him what he felt, but as I said, there was some bad blood between the two players to begin with.

And manager Williams, I mean, give me a break. You don't know that a fight is going on on the other side of your dugout?

On the other hand, Papelbon wasn't totally incorrect in his assertion to Harper. I mean, Derek Jeter ran out just about every ball that he hit for 20 years. Harper doesn't do it. Melky Cabrera doesn't do it. Heck, Jeter's teammate, Bernie Williams, didn't do it.

But Harper really should, as should the others. They are getting paid ridiculous money to play a kid's game, and running out a hit baseball really is a no brainer.

The end result of all of this is that Harper will still be the golden child--even though his team had an extremely poor season, he will be voted the league's Most Valuable Player--and Papelbon and Williams will probably lose their jobs.

Papelbon will end up elsewhere, as he is talented, but has the reputation for having a really big mouth, something he earned while the closer for the Red Sox for several years.

Williams will almost certainly be fired. He was probably going to be fired anyway, but this was the proverbial nail in the coffin.

Big guys playing a little guy's game ... major league players should be forced to watch Little League games as part of their contracts, and see how the game should be played, the right way, by kids not earning one cent as they play the game they love.

That is real baseball. What happened the other day was not.

Classic Rant #173 (January 15, 2010): Let’s Diet the Knot

My wife is on a diet.

No, my wife does not need to be on a diet, but she is on one anyway.

My wife is pretty thin to begin with, and she has a great figure. Sure, like most of us, she has to watch her weight, but this is a person who goes to the gym several times a week, watches what she eats, and doesn't overindulge on anything.

But she felt that she needed to diet anyway.

I think so many women have negative body image. They think they have to look pencil thin like those disgusting-looking runway models, or they have to look like some movie star that has a personal trainer by her side 24 hours a day.

My wife looks terrific. Take it from me, she looks great. Nobody can believe that she is the age she is (I won't reveal it, but it is the same age I am). Most people think she is at least 10 years younger than she really is.

Yet, she is putting herself through this diet--it's the Special K diet, where you eat the cereal for breakfast and lunch and then have a reasonable dinner.

Honestly, I don't know how she does it. I couldn't do it, and I need to lose a few more pounds than she does.

But she does it. She is determined to lose a small amount of weight, and she is going about it the way she thinks is best.

Again, I love the way my wife looks, but I also notice that her stomach, which wasn't there to begin with, is even flatter than it was before the diet. So I guess she is getting out of the diet what she wanted to get out of it.

But again, I love her how she is.

And that is the skinny of it.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Rant #1,520: Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

Sayonara, Pope.

I hope whatever you expected to accomplish here was completed.

I know some people are sorry to see you go.

Others, you couldn't leave fast enough.

My father can go back to work now.

He was not going to be driving a cab in Manhattan while the Pope was there.

With all the road closings and detours, it just did not pay for him to work.

He will tell you that passengers will give him their destinations, and when he can't use this street or that street to reach where they want to go, they ask why, as if they have no idea what is going on in New York City.

They blame the cab driver, swear on his life, have nasty things to say about cabbies in general, and bolt out of the cab when they get to their destination as if there was a spring on their seats.

No, at nearly 84 years of age, my father--and for that matter, his fellow cabbies--don't need to hear this.

He worked during other papal visits, and he has sworn he would not work another one, and he kept his word this time.

Good for him.

New York City took the proper security precautions to prevent any nonsense during the Pope's visit, and for once, they did the right thing.

Numerous streets were closed, security was as tight as a drum, and Manhattan became something of an armed camp, as was Philadelphia.

That is good. You don't want to start World War III because some zealot has a bone to pick with the Pope, or just wants to show off his artillery to the world.

But there were casualties as a result of the Pope's visit, and I guess my father was one of them, to a certain extent.

Other businesses could not operate as they normally do, because people simply could not get to them.

And with all the people coming into the city during the normal work week, others stayed away.

I remember years and years ago, when I was looking for a job around 1979 or 1980, and another papal visit happened.

I had to get from one interview to another, and I used the trains.

I just remember that people were packed into the trains like sardines--even more than normal--and I decided to use my legs and feet rather than mass transit, because they were impossible with everyone coming into the city.

I am sure it was even worse this time around, and happily, I had no reason to go into Manhattan during the past week.

Heck, I haven't worked in Manhattan since the 1990s, and boy, am I glad that I don't.

I always hated the commute, as it simply added extra time onto my workday.

And with the Pope in town, it would have been time to take off if I had worked in Manhattan, if I could.

Who wants to deal with that?

Anyway, now it is time to slow down, to unwind, to get back to what we are doing.

TV news can actually cover all the news, not just the Pope. Someone on Facebook said something to the effect that yes, the Pope's visit was important, the wall to wall coverage was important, but couldn't they break every once in a while for the weather report?

I know the person posting this was being facetious, but I understood their point.

Wall to wall coverage of his visit, with reporters beckoning a look from him when they are supposed to be covering this as news, is just not right.

This is news, and should be covered as such, and if a reporter feels she must lose herself in all the folderoll--the reporter in question was Kristine Johnson on WCBS-TV in New York, someone who I happen to really like as a broadcaster--then she should excuse herself and not work as a reporter on this story.

Report the story, not become the story.

But whatever the case, the Pope is gone, and now we can go back to hearing about all the murders, all the fires, all the nonsense in Washington, and other things that usually enthrall us during the workweek.

No, the Pope didn't change anything, at least not permanently.

And no, his leaving didn't change anything either.

World leaders will be congregating at the United Nations, including our own President Obama.

So there will continue to be closed streets and lots of security in Manhattan today.

Boy, do I feel sorry for my father. He went into work today, and will have to contend with all of that.

Goodbye Pope, Hello President.

A mess, a real mess.

Classic Rant #172 (January 14, 2010): I Can’t See My Vacation For the Trees

I just put in for my vacation at work.

Here it is January, and I am putting in for a vacation which will take place in the middle of summer!

Anyway, my vacation was approved, and my family and I will once again be going to Florida at the end of July/beginning of August.

We have a time share down there, and it is fun to travel down south, no matter what time we go during the year.

We prefer the summer, but we have gone in the winter too. Happily, we don't have to go this winter, which, as you know, has hit Florida pretty hard. I heard they actually saw some snowflakes in Orlando last week.

And, by the way, we don't fly down to Florida--we drive. I have flown on many planes in my life, but I do not like flying. And with the current security boondoggles now in place, I like it even less. The last time I flew, I had to nearly strip to get on the plane. Of course, people who carry explosives in their underwear get by the detectors; me, with keys and wallet in my pockets, had to undergo extra scrutiny.

Anyway, now I have something to look forward to, a date that I can look ahead to. It gives me a target as I work my way toward it.

But it is still January. Vacation is more than six months away. Yes, right now, I can't see the forest for the trees, as they say.

But at least I have the dates. It will give me something to work toward while I wade through paperwork, and snow, as the winter progresses.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Rant #1,519: Pope Scope

I swore to myself that I would not write this column, because even though I meant to not offend anyone by writing it, I know that some people will be offended anyway.

But then I figured, someone has to write this column, and why not me?

The Pope has come to this country, and can anybody doubt that it has been a triumph in every way, shape and form?

He has set New York, in particular, on fire, and the passion that his followers have generated towards him goes beyond love and affection.

Reverence might be the word, but even that word doesn't speak of the joy he has brought millions of people.

What is my own personal perspective of the Pope, and his coming to America?

I am kind of on the outside looking in, because I am Jewish, and whatever he says and does really has no impact on me, to a point.

And please, do not take any offense to this. I have to choose my words wisely, and I probably do not represent the overall Jewish viewpoint on the Pope in any way, shape or form ... although I know many Jews are probably thinking the same way I do, but won't admit it to themselves or to others, for fear of a backlash.

You know, never talk politics or religion, get it?

We should all give the utmost respect to the Pope as we can possibly give. Again, he is not only the spiritual leader of Catholics around the world, but he is a head of state, of Vatican City, which many people forget is a country in and of itself.

So when he meets with our President, speaks to our Congress, and talks before the United Nations, we absolutely must give him the respect he deserves.

Beyond that, what do I think of all of this?

Well, whatever he says and does really doesn't impact me that much, and quite frankly, I think he is simply something of a figurehead, because we know Catholics, in particular in this country, make decisions for themselves, and don't need anyone telling them what to do.

This Pope, who is supposed to be the most understanding and modern of all the Popes, really isn't that much different from those that preceded him in the modern age.

However we interpret his words, he remains against gays, he remains against same-sex marriages, he is anti-abortion ... the list goes on and on.

Yes, he has opened the door a bit for some people, but not that much.

But I guess people will see what the want to see, and a door slightly ajar is better than a door fully closed.

On other things, if he really wanted to be revolutionary, his tack on Israel would be much different than it actually is.

Much like his predecessors, he refuses to officially acknowledge the existence of Israel as a sovereign state.

He is fully embedded with the Palestinians and the terrorist organization governing them, Hamas, and fully recognizes their right to exist as their own entity.

As we welcome him to America, Hamas has three goals: wiping Israel off the face of the earth, removing all Jews from their very existence, and defeating the U.S. in some type of holy war that they believe they are fighting with the West.

The Pope evidently supports this.

And we are welcoming him with open arms to this country?

And, on an almost minor note, he comes to this country during the holiest period of the year for Jews, during the High Holy Day period encompassing Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and is actually in the U.S. during Yom Kippur, our holiest and most solemn day.

I could say that he is an anti-Semite, and I guess I just did.

And yes, I could say more, but I am stopping here.

Again, please, my Catholic brothers and sisters, I mean no offense.

This is my opinion.

I respect him as the leader of a country, but some of his views, well, I don't accept.

I am sure he is a good person, but that doesn't automatically make him correct in many of his assertions.

Personally, I hope his visit here is a happy one, and I hope he takes back many good memories of our country.

So have a good trip home to the Pope, and while his trip did pretty much nothing for me, personally, I know that for millions of others, it was something they will never, ever forget.

Classic Rant #171 (January 13, 2010): Late Night Cat Fight

In one corner, we have Jay Leno, king of late night on NBC. His show was moved to prime time, 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and bombed. NBC wants to move his show back to the usual 11:35 p.m. time spot.

In the other corner, we have Conan O'Brien, who was promised the coveted 11:35 p.m. spot when Leno's show moved to prime time. NBC wants to push him back to after midnight. O'Brien has refused, and may have had his final broadcast on NBC.

NBC is the fourth-place network, and they thought they had nothing to lose by moving the popular Leno, Johnny Carson's successor, to 10 p.m. in a Monday through Friday show. They weren't drawing very good ratings with what they had, and this was cheaper for them, a "more bang for the buck" move that they thought might revolutionize network televison.

All it did was spark a revolt my network affiliates, who said that the Leno show as a lead-in was killing the ratings of their 11 p.m. local newscasts, which are huge moneymakers for local stations.

So what of Leno and O'Brien? Well, Leno is moving back to the coveted 11:35 p.m. spot, that is for sure.

But O'Brien has balked at being pushed back. Perhaps they will buy out his contract, perhaps this is all a ruse for something else. He might even end up on Fox.

And you just know that David Letterman, he of the open zipper, is laughing all the way to the bank.

But the guy who is laughing the hardest isn't even with us anymore.

The true king of late night, Johnny Carson, is laughing in heaven right now. All the fights he had with NBC over The Tonight Show pale in comparison to this latest nonsense, and let's face it, nobody could replace Carson on his perch, anyway.

He was the best that there was, ever.

And although they could occupy his old time spot, Letterman, Leno, and O'Brien really aren't any more than pretenders to the throne. It's what we have now, but nobody, and I mean nobody, understood late night like Johnny Carson, his crew, his writers and his cast.

Right now, NBC is smelling like yesterday's spoiled milk, and Carson is laughing his trademarked laugh, with a cigarette in his mouth and breaking pencils.

Here's to you, Karnack!