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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Rant #1,599: Titillation

I didn't know what to call this entry, so "Titillation" it is.

That is a word that grabs all of us, both males and females, because of the promise that when this word is used, we are going to have our senses satisfied in one way or another.

Today, I am going to write about those annoying--yet very inviting and nice to look at--entries on the Internet that grab us and almost force us to look.

Yes, I am talking about those sites that promise "interesting" photographs of weather girls, picture fails, picture bombs, photos that the picture taker did not expect, the hottest golfers ... I think you have seen as many of these as I have, and while they are certainly inviting, they are annoying.

Look, I am the typical red blooded American male. This means I love to look--but not touch, of course--at pretty women.

Just about all of these sites offer photos of beautiful women of all shapes and sizes and ethnicities.

Yes, I am as big a letch as any other guy, and if the site description is interesting, even against my better judgment, I will got to these sites.

What you get is mainly advertisements, and sometimes the sites deliver, but often times not.

All you see are boring photos, and sometimes, you have to go to the end to see that pretty girl that is being used as a lure to get you to the site in the first place.

Other times, the girl isn't even there.

And you have to go from page to page to page to see the whole thing.

I am not addicted to these sites by any means, and lately, I have been staying way away from them.

But I guess they employ some of that old logic: offer and the consumer will buy, even though all I am spending is my time at these sites.

And when they do deliver, pretty much what you get are PG-rated photos at worst, nothing really with nothing.

So my advice is to stay away from these sites, because they really don't offer you anything that you can't see in, let's say, the new Playboy magazine, the one without the nudes.

They simply exist to force you to look at the ads on each page, and nothing more.

But to click from one photo to the next and to the next and then still onto the next is a ridiculous exercise in wasting time.

They seem to exist because much of the news we are getting on the Internet is going into National Enquirer territory anyway, and let's be honest about it, we jump into these things hook, line and sinker.

We are suckers for the baby with four arms, the people with incurable diseases, the gal who gets bullied because she has three breasts.

Stuff like that is titillation, and humans need their minds stimulated this way every once in a while.

But these types of stories are too fully mixed arm and arm into the real news stories of the day, and that is where a line needs to be drawn, but well, the cat is out of the bag, and it isn't going to happen.

So again, when you go onto Yahoo, let's say, and you see your list of stories, and the one right under the real news story about, I don't know, our deals with Iran, the presidential race, or unemployment, says "See the Sexiest Newscasters in Epic Fails," stay away.

Stay far, far away.

Heck, I can't even see the real news stories from the fake ones, so tomorrow, I have to go to my eye specialist for my eye checkup, and thus, I will have to take the day off from writing Rant #1,600 until Monday.

So speak to you again then.

Classic Rant #249 (May 5, 2010): I Remember the Day Well

As I recounted on Facebook yesterday, May 4 was the 40th anniversary of the student shootings at Kent State.

And 40 years later, I am embarrassed to recount my experience on that day.

For those of you who didn't read my story (probably most of you), here it is.

Some background: I was in seventh grade in 1970, and as a 13 year old, I was pretty much just discovering the world.

I lived in an area, as I have talked about many, many times, by the name of Rochdale Village, Queens, New York. It was an interesting development to live in, to say the least. Built in the middle of a predominately black area in South Jamaica, the neighborhood became a flashpoint for a lot of things during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

I was going to I.S. 72 at the time, the center of a lot of the problems between Rochdale and the outside community, so what I put up on Facebook was from that viewpoint, 40 years later.

"Forty years ago today, Ohio National Guardsmen opened fired at Kent State University, killing two students. Does anyone remember the to do that this caused in I.S. 72? A petition was sent around to close the school down in honor of these students, as well as honoring those students who lost their lives in a similar incident around the same time at Jackson State.

To honor these students, the school was closed on May 8. My signature was on that petition--maybe the first one on there--because I was going to take off on May 8 anyway, because my bar mitzvah was on May 9. I figured the whole school should have off, and this crazy thinking evidently worked.

Not to dishonor the memory of the fallen, but my reason for signing that petition had little to do with them and more to do with "why should I have a day off on my record when I can get the whole school to have off?"

Yes, I admit to that. Looking back, that was just a silly junior high kid acting on a whim, but it's true."

I later answered a post by someone who had gone to the area's high school, the since-closed Springfield Gardens High School, at this moment in time. He told me it was pretty intense at the school.

Here is my reply:

"I can imagine, it was probably more intense there than it was at I.S. 72 ... although it was pretty hot there too. If you remember, the press pretty much overlooked the Jackson State incident, deciding to focus on Kent State. This got a lot of people upset, and I think that to quell any possible 'negative' actions directed at I.S. 72 (which was a flashpoint in the community as it was), they just closed us down for the day.

The P.S. to the story is that I was very sick in the week leading up to my bar mitzvah. By that Friday, I had 105 temperature (no exaggeration) and I almost had to do my haftorah at home in bed.

On May 8, I watched the Knicks on the Connecticut ABC affiliate (WABC in New York carried the game on tape delay) win the NBA championship, and I point to that game as the event that got me going again.

I was still pretty sick the next day, but I had my bar mitzvah in the temple. After it was all over, my health improved tremendously. It was simply a bout of nerves, that is all it was.

So I just remember this whole period as one revolving around my bar mitzvah. However, for most of our country, it had other implications.

But I was a typical 13 year old kid, and I thought the world revolved around me!"

Well, there you have it.

The memory still lingers, and while I am not proud of it, it is a part of my growing up years that I will never forget.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Rant #1,598: Delivering Newspapers In the Snow

It is raining outside this morning in my neck of the woods, which means that a lot of the mounds of snow that we received during the winter storm we got attacked by this weekend will melt into nothingness by the end of the day.

Good. I can't stand looking at it anymore, because it reminds me of my toil in cleaning my little piece of property.

But about 20 years ago, I had it much, much worse.

Not only did I have to clean my property, but I had to deliver newspapers so that they could get buried by another terrible storm that we had.

It was 1996, and I was in between jobs.

After three and a half years working for a burglar and fire alarm association, I was let go of my job in Queens for no apparent reason--I later found out that I was the pawn in a game of political football--and because of this unfortunate situation, my job at the time was threefold: look for another job, of course, take care of my newborn son, and deliver newspapers.

I had taken the adult deliverer's job several months earlier, because I needed the extra income of $150 a week, less tips, which on my route, were very few and far between.

The job ended up being both a curse and a godsend, because when I was out of work, at least I had something to do, but that huge salary I was making prevented me from getting out of work benefits: I was, believe it or not, making too much to get unemployment pay, a measure I fought, but ultimately lost, with the government.

Anyway, it was the hardest, easiest job I ever had.

I had to go to bed at 7:30 p.m., wake up about 11:15 p.m., get ready to go to pick up my papers, go to the depot, get them by midnight, wrap them, deliver them, and then go home.

I would be home by about 3 a.m., and that was prime feeding time for my newborn son, who was just five months old in January 1996.

I would feed him as we watched "Gomer Pyle, USMC" on TV (the ABC affiliate here had the show on at that time of the morning), I would put my son down for sleep, and then I would sleep myself.

When I was working, I would sleep maybe two hours and then go into work. When I was out of work, I probably slept until 8 a.m,, got up, and proceeded to the library, where I would look through the want ads for work.

It was a tough life, made tougher by the storm we had in January 1996, a storm that I will never forget.

It wasn't as huge as the one we had this past weekend--20 to 25 inches at best--but I had to deliver newspapers in this mess.

And yes, there were no excuses, I had to deliver the New York Times, or people would get hysterical.

Better it be buried under several feet of snow than to not deliver it at all.

So I went on my way, and somehow, I delivered the newspapers.

I was certainly one of the few cars actually on the street at that time of night in those conditions, but somehow, I got through it.

I remember getting semi-stuck on one patch of snow and ice, and somehow, going back and forth with my car--a Plymouth, one of the last of that line for sure--I was able to maneuver this and any of the other snow-induced hurdles that I met.

(No, I did not deliver the newspaper on bicycle, as the kid in the photo did. That would have been really horrific!)

I am sure it took me much longer to deliver the newspapers in the middle of that storm--I don't remember how long, to be honest--but I did my duty, and did it days afterward as people dug out from this horrific storm.

By March, I was in a new job--the one I still have--and after a little more than a year of delivering newspapers, I left the newspaper delivery job on April 28, 1996--my birthday present to myself.

Funny, in the intervening 20 years or so, I have had a nightmare here and there about delivering newspapers again. I wake up in a sweat, but then I realize that it was all a dream.

But it wasn't a dream 20 years ago, it was reality, and it was something that I remember both fondly and with a lot of disdain.

It was fun, at times, to be maneuvering the streets so early in the morning, the police knew me and sometimes used me as a "lookout" for trouble, yet on the other hand, the situation I found myself in that forced me to do this job in the first place was utterly bewildering.

So when we got what we got this past weekend, I had to flash back to my own experience in the mid 1990s, when I was much younger, and much in need of a job.

If nothing else, my situation back then brought me closer to my son, and that is something that is fantastic.

But overall, I do respect those who do this unheralded job, because I've "been there, done that" so to speak.

So when you find your buried newspapers cascading out of the snow today, don't be angry, be happy that your deliverer was diligent in doing his job, even during a storm like we had.

I found one of my newspapers today--which came out of hibernation and basically fell out of its encasement in snow and ice due to the rain today--and it put a big smile on my face.

Like I said earlier, "been there, done that."

Classic Rant #248 (May 4, 2010): They Got Their Man, Freedom Rings True

For those who think Big Brother is watching, well, he probably is.

But sometimes, it's good to have that eye in the sky.

Based on video, the checking of automobile and phone records, and some swift work by the NYPD, FBI and others, it looks like the Time Square bomb suspect may have been nabbed.

Reports are that the person, or the suspect, is a Connecticut man with Pakistani ties. The man was reportedly identified with the help of fingerprints found inside the car that he set to blow up, but didn't.

If this is, in fact, the right person--and police say there may be others involved--then I think he should get the book thrown at him. As I said yesterday, he would have people lined up to pull the plug on him, if we ever got the chance to do so.

Although video may not have been the main element in finding this guy, sometimes Big Brother looking over your shoulder is not such a bad idea.

Sure, video cameras around such a busy area as Times Square will pick up the mundane things people do--chat with friends, scratch their rear end, pick their nose--but it might also pick up something dastardly.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where we literally have to have eyes all over to thwart those who believe that our way of life is vile and disgusting to their mentalities.

Sure, I hate the fact that when you fly, you have to do everything but take off all your clothes to get through to where you have to go.

And now they are talking about a national ID card issued to all workers in the country. I don't know if I am so keen about that, but if it protects our liberty, well, then I can't argue with it. I don't like it, but I can't argue that it might save us from these idiots.

Back to the Connecticut man. Evidently, what the police thought was nothing more than a random act, well, wasn't. This guy probably has ties with those out of the country who want to destroy us.

If this is true, then I think we have to protect ourselves to the max.

And if it takes a loss of some of our freedoms, so be it.

Sometimes, you have to lose some freedom to strengthen the freedom we already have, and I think that, for better or worse, the time may be coming where we are just going to have to give some to get some.

We are the land of the free and the home of the brave, and if takes losing a little freedom to maintain that lifestyle, then I am all for it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Rant #1,597: Taking a Pounding

Most Americans are overweight.

I certainly am.

I love my cookies, I can tell you that.

I also love to eat what I want when I want, even if I am doing it right before I go to sleep.

Not very good habits, but that is what I like to do.

Several weeks ago, I received the results of my physical from my doctor, and even with the excess poundage, I had one of the best sets of results I have ever had as an adult.

All of the statistics on me had improved from the past year, and many of them were way down, including my cholesterol count. Everything was good.

Except for one thing.

My weight wasn't very good. For someone who is 5 feet, 9 inches or so, I weighed too much.

I am not a heavy eater, my wife actually helps me watch what I eat by what she prepares for dinner each evening, I have lots of fruits and vegetables and salads, but those cookies, they are the bane of my existence.

So right then and there, I decided to take off some of the excess weight I had, and since then, I have been watching myself a bit more.

No more cookies, no more eating between meals, no more of the things I love to do related to eating.

I do still drink Coca-Cola. That is the one thing I haven't been able to give up, although several years ago, I didn't drink soda for more than four years after my gall bladder surgery, so I know I can do it.

Just right now, I still drink it, and I am not giving it up.

So, with this cockeyed diet I am on, I do feel that my clothes are fitting better, and are not so tight on me.

I must have lost between five and 10 pounds, probably mainly water weight, but I did lose it since I gave up the stuff I just mentioned.

Yes, I still could lose a bit more, but right now, I am satisfied with what I have lost.

It hasn't been that difficult to do it. I just gave these things up cold turkey, and it has worked without too much difficulty.

I started this during the holidays, because I figured that if I could do it then, I could do it at any time through the year.

Sure, I miss my cookies and eating what I like when I like, but at age 58, I need to slow down a bit.

There will come a time when I go off my diet--probably at my parents' anniversary party on March 5, if it is ever actually held (darn the weather), but I will go right back to ignoring this stuff right after those occasions.

My major problem is that I sit all day at my job, so that adds on to the poundage, too.

But at least there, there is no temptation to eat anything other than my lunch, and I have turned down cake during some birthday and holiday celebrations there.

So let's see where this quasi-diet takes me, because other than the weight, I really do feel pretty good.

Classic Rant #247 (May 4, 2010): Bomber Bombed Out, So Did Mayor

You probably have already heard about the bomber who tried to blow up Times Square on Saturday evening.

The bomb didn't go off, and the police, using surveillance video and other information that they have, are hot on the pursuit of this nut.

Whoever did this--and several groups are claiming responsibility, although it seems highly unlikely that this was such an organized affair--should be put to death. I don't care if the bomb did not go off, could you imagine if it did? It would have killed hundreds from the bomb itself, and others would have died in the panic.

The intention was to maim and murder, so when they find the dummy who perpetrated this potential disaster, I volunteer to pull the plug on this idiot ... and I will probably have to stand in line, because hundreds, if not thousands of people, would love the chance to do this.

That aside, the NYPD, and in particular, one cop on horseback, is being given credit for thwarting this situation. He was the first cop on the scene, and the first cop to alert others that there that there was a potential for danger.

The officer, from Holbrook on Long Island, is being applauded, and had dinner with the mayor last night.

Yes, it was a job well done.

But what about the street peddlers who initially alerted the cop about the potential dangerous situation?

A couple of the New York stations have identified the vendors, but I don't see the mayor having dinner with them.

If it wasn't for their quick action--along with cab drivers, they know the streets better than anyone--the cop would have never known anything about what was going on. They were the ones that alerted him!

So while I applaud the officer's actions, it was actually the two street vendors who were the true heroes in this situation.

But Mayor Bloomberg never said their names to the press, only called them "concerned citizens."

Look, we know that the mayor looks down on most of the citizens of New York City as peons. He can afford to.

He has never had a good word for these peddlers, and has tried to lessen their presence in the city.

Just last week, there was a protest by many artists who sell their wares on the street. It seems the mayor wants them to stop cluttering the byways of Manhattan.

The street vendors are as much a part of Manhattan as Bloomberg thinks he is. They were there before he got there, and they will be there after he departs.

To not honor their actions during this horrific episode is not only wrong, it is condescending.

But honestly, this did not start with Mayor Bloomberg, Lessening the heroic actions of the general public compared to police and firemen began during 9/11. Remember how police and firemen were referred to as "heroes" while citizens were referred to as "victims"?

Those who went through that horrible episode were as much heroes as the cops and firemen were.

But in the city, you have to use your words carefully, especially when it comes to the unions, which still run the city, so you have to refer to cops and firemen as "heroes," and not include your average Joe in the same breath.

But as far as this current event, what do you expect from a mayor who is as much about money as he is full of hot air?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Rant #1,596: Wasted Weekend

What a wasted weekend this was!

I can't remember a weekend that was so devoid of anything worthwhile.

First off, my parents' anniversary party was canceled, first to February 27, then to March 5.

With the oncoming blizzard, we could not take the chance of anyone having trouble getting to the party, so it was just put off until hopefully a better weather day.

I did food shopping on Friday night, and what with the impending storm coming, this itself was a panic.

Plenty of people did their food shopping that evening, and lots of things were gone before I had a chance to buy them.

When we are talking about a basically one-day event, why do people buy milk, water and bread at the rate they do?

I don't get it.

Anyway, overnight the snow came, and a lot of snow came to my neck of the woods, something near 30 inches.

It just came down basically all day Saturday, and it kept pretty much everyone inside.

Since we couldn't do too much, we turned to the TV for salvation, and when you have all the devices that we have related to our TV, there is always something on to watch.

I watched a load of old game shows on Saturday afternoon, on the new Buzzr channel that we have on Verizon.

This channel is so much better than the Game Show Network, because it basically replicates the old Game Show Network, before that channel became simply an outlet for off network game shows, one more horrid than the next.

Buzzr shows reruns of old game shows, but they involve in the mix the black and white game shows of yore, including such classics as "I've Got a Secret," "To Tell the Truth," and the best of them all, "What's My Line."

They are fun to watch decades after they were originally shown, both for their wit and decorum.

And the people on there ... Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf ... I guess you can say they don't make "celebrities" like this today.

That ate up a good part of the afternoon, and then came the evening.

My wife and I could not find anything to watch on Netflix, which has increasingly become a haven for trashy films, few of any substance. They removed a lot of classic films, black and white ones, so there isn't that much to watch there as there had been.

Anyway, when we didn't find what we wanted there, we turned to YouTube. Since we have Google Chromecast, we can just cast a film to our TV, and that is what we did.

We took a chance on an obscurity from 1962, a real film noir piece called "Stark Fear."

The film starred Beverly Garland--one of the all-time grade-Z actresses of the 1950s and 1960s who ended up making it big in the late 1960s and early 1970s as "Barbara Douglas" on "My Three Sons."

Garland had an interesting real life--she married well and had a string of hotels named after her by her husband--and she was a better actress than she was given credit for, and this film proved that to me.

She plays a woman who is in a loveless marriage. Nonetheless, she is devoted to her husband, and even when she is ripped by him and he leaves her, she is so devoted that she goes out searching for him.

Once she does this, she opens herself up for not only more despair, but some other things that I won't get into here.

Suffice it to say, she finds out some things about him that she didn't know, and in the meantime, meets the real man of her dreams, and she goes on to live happily ever after.

That isn't giving too much of what happens away, but let me tell you, I was quite surprised just how good this little unknown gem of a film was.

I always found Garland attractive on "My Three Sons," but let's face it, most boys my age were more attracted to the gorgeous Tina Cole as "Katy Douglas" than to Garland.

But here, Garland is way younger than she was on "My Three Sons," and way sexier than she could have ever been on that show.

In fact, the film truly pushes the limits of what was permissible on screen in 1962, and while you don't see much of anything, the sex factor in this little movie is quite big, and Garland is clearly at the center of that action.

If you have 90 minutes to kill, this is one movie that you can fill just about all of that time with. Look on YouTube for it; you will not be disappointed.

The snow finally stopped on late Saturday night, so on Sunday, the drudgery of the cleanup was at hand, so my wife and I went out and did the best job we could with nearly 30 inches of snow on the ground.

My wife left to do some further food shopping after spending time on the front walk, and my son was only able to do minimal stuff because he was under the weather.

So the bulk of the shoveling was done by yours truly, and it took me about two and half hours do do what I did.

Well, I got my exercise in, let's put it that way.

I am not supposed to be shoveling at all, due to the pinched nerve I have in my neck, but that doesn't stop me from doing this.

Last year, I bought a specially designed shovel for those with neck and back problems, and it is bent in the middle so that there is less strain on your back when picking up piles of snow. It does work, even though after 150 minutes of doing this, I was kind of sore anyway.

When done, I sat down to watch some more YouTube on TV, and I found some pretty funny compendiums of what I would call "epic fails on TV newscasts," where something goes terribly wrong on a newscast, things like reporters being photobombed, animals going after reporters, women news anchors tops becoming unbuttoned, cameras not pointed where they should be, etc.

It was pretty funny, and they all looked real, including the tops popping open, which, of course, is more prevalent on foreign TV than it is here, because elsewhere, they sell sex as much as news on these broadcasts, it appears.

So having watched a few hours of falling and popping and plopping, I went out to get Chinese food, later planned to watch a WWE pay per view event on the WWE Network, and promptly fell asleep at about 8 p.m., before I got a chance to watch much of that action.

And here I am, preparing to go to work before I know it.

What a waste of a weekend, but at least I wasn't bored.