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Monday, September 25, 2017

Rant #1,987: Bits and Pieces

Welcome back to the Ranting and Raving Blog, the most honest blog on the Internet, in my estimation.

I don't pull any punches here, and I am certainly not going to pull any punches today.

And you are free to disagree with me, which also makes this a pretty democratic blog, too.

Today, there are a couple of stories that I would like to cover, but not in a full blog, so we have out occasional "Bits and Pieces" entry.

Here goes, and hit me with your best shot, if you dare.

National Anthem Controversy Continues: I am just going to say this at the outset of this mini-entry: NFL players who kneel and show disrespect for out flag and our nation in doing so have every right, under our Constitution, to do so.

If this is what they choose to do, then millions of other people can also make their own choice, whether to support this nonsense or take the players out for their stance (or in this case, their kneeling).

And again, I am not going to get into specifics here, but probably the saddest thing about this entire movement happened yesterday at the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Chicago Bears game.

The Steelers decided to stay in the locker room while the anthem was played, showing team unity by simply not being out on the field when the anthem was played.

That is, except for one player.

Offensive tackle Al Villeneuva, a West Point graduate and an Army Ranger, doing three tours of duty in Afghanistan, who while on duty protected the very rights that allows his fellow NFL players to protest while the anthem is played, came out on the field during the anthem, the only Steelers player to do so.

According to reports, the rest of the team, which was in the runway behind Villeneuva and out of sight of fans and TV cameras when the anthem was played, was somewhat miffed that their teammate defied the agreement they had to stay completely off the field when the anthem was played.

Here is Villeneuva's take on this, which was made in 2016 but certainly carried over to his decision to break away from his team during the playing of the anthem:

"I agree that America is not perfect. I agree that there are a lot of issues with minorities in this country. I agree that we should do something about it. But I don't know if the most effective way is to sit down when the national anthem of the country that is providing you freedom and providing you $60 million a year is the best way to do it when there are black minorities that are dying in Afghanistan and protecting our freedom for less than $20,000 a year."

'Nuf said.

Aaron Judge Nears Rookie Home Run Record: Onto other sports matters, Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees has returned to his former pace in the first half of the season, and he has helped propel the Bronx Bombers into the playoffs, albeit the one-game Wild Card round.

Judge hit two more home runs yesterday in the Yankees' 9-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday, giving him 48 for the season. If he can hit one more in the team's last week of games, he will tie Mark McGwire's all-time rookie record of 49 for the season.

And since everything McGwire did during this career is subject to question, as he was one of the poster boys for PED use, I think the MLB would like nothing more than for Judge to shatter this record, taking McGwire out of the record books.

Judge is a smart, likable player with a tremendous amount of talent. He is in the top five of just about every offensive category this season, spectacular of any player but even more notable because he is, in essence, a first year MLB player, although he did have the proverbial "cup of coffee" with the Yankees at the tail end of last season.

In my estimation, his feats this season not only merit his consideration as Rookie of the Year, but also as the American League's Most Valuable Player.

Through his ups and downs this season--and he had a two-month span after the All-Star break where he was nearly invisible in the Yankees's offense--he has been the bellwether of the Yankees.

Where would they be without him?

You can clearly say that the Yankees would not be vying for the playoffs if he didn't do what he has done this year, and to me, that makes him not only the American League's top rookie, but also its MVP.

Team goals are more important, of course--and Judge would say that too--but c'mon, this guy has been spectacular this season, becoming his own "must-see at bat" every time he steps up to the plate.

Whether strikeout, base on balls or tape measure home run, this guy has energized baseball this season as its most exciting player.

He is the real deal.

Crazy Weather in the Northeast: If our backyard pool was open yesterday, we would have had a nice swim in it.

The pool has been closed for a few weeks, but the weather yesterday--at the beginning of fall--was summer-like, to say the least.

It was at or near 90 yesterday in most of the New York Metropolitan Area, which made it about 15 to 20 degrees higher than it should be during this part of the year.

Those of us who had put away the shorts just two weeks ago had to get them out again.

Yes, it was that warm yesterday and this weekend, breaking records all over the area.

We had to use the air conditioning again, and if you were outside, it was truly uncomfortable.

All of this is in comparison to what has been happening in other parts of the country, where hurricanes have left their unsightly mark.

It doesn't seem at all fair, but when has Mother Nature ever been considered to be fair and equitable?

The hot weather is supposed to continue to mid-week, and by next weekend, everything is set to return to the normal 70 degree area that we normally have this season, but suffice it to say that it has been nice to see Indian Summer come to our area, albeit it for such a short period.

My Job Prospects: Well, at least there is a smidgen of news to report this time around.

I actually had my first real, honest to goodness, face-to-face interview two weeks ago, and while it didn't lead to a new position, it at least gave me hope, something I haven't had in the 10 months I have been looking.

Yes, it took me 10 months to get a real job interview--that is how bad the job market is, so don't believe what you read in the newspapers about this market opening up and providing us with many new jobs.

Or maybe it is because I am of the age where employers simply don't want to hire people like me, I simply don't know.

But at least I can say that this interview was somewhat fair.

I knew I didn't get the position when I left the interview, but at least I did speak to someone who I thought gave me a fair couple of minutes of his time.

At this point, I guess that is all I can ask.

Speak to you again tomorrow.

Classic Rant #641 (December 20, 2011): Hanukkah, Hanukkah

Tonight is Hanukkah.

I know that for most of our culture this means absolutely nothing, but for many of us, this holiday, which begins at sundown tonight, reflects the culmination of a year's work, and the time to party and celebrate.
Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah.

I know to most people, this means absolutely nothing, but to us 3 percenters--the percent of the U.S. population that is Jewish--it does mean something, maybe more to some than others, since there seems to be a rising tide for Jews to celebrate Christmas. No, I don't get it either.

Anyway, on the Jewish calendar, Hanukkah is not a major holiday. But it is a joyous and festive one, celebrating the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean revolt, during the second century BCE (before the common era).

After the Jews regained control of the temple, they found that they only had one night's oil for their candelabra, their eternal light. Somehow, through some type of miracle, the oil burned for eight days, hence the celebration of Hanukkah for eight days and the use of a menorah to signify the eternal light.

It is a joyous holiday and a festive one, but, as I said, it is not a major holiday on the Jewish calendar.

That is the reason that many give for high-profile Jews basically ignoring the holiday, at least out in public.

But of course, that is nonsense.

Whatever anybody says, Hanukkah is a huge holiday for Jews around the globe.

It is a gift-giving holiday, a holiday where you reaffirm your family ties, a holiday that is to be celebrated, and not shunned, like some unfortunate Jews do.

Sure, it's always right near Christmas, and a lot of people believe that it is the Jewish Christmas.

Well let me tell you, it isn't. It has nothing to do with Christmas at all.

However, because of the actions of some high-profile Jews, many people think that Hanukkah simply doesn't measure up, that Jews celebrate Christmas.

Sorry, at least in my family, we don't.

Christmas is a wonderful holiday, with its direction very similar to that of Hanukkah.

But Hanukkah isn't the Jewish Christmas much like Christmas is not the Gentile Hanukkah.

No matter how much society wants the two holidays intertwined, one has nothing to do with the other.

On that note, I wish everyone a joyous Hanukkah. Eat lots of sweet things, get and give your presents, and feel content with who you are and what religion you are.

I know that I am content, very content indeed.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Rant #1,986: Fatberger In Paradise

How was your Rosh Hashanah?

Mine was fine, and I showed my worthiness to God by using it as a service day for my family.

I took on one project after another, without any stoppage, and I got everything up to snuff.

This included everything from my mother's computer, to my son's new Nintendo Switch (yes, we finally got it!), to my wife's flash drive, all things which weren't working properly.

No, I did not go to shul, but I did the next best thing, which was showing God that I am worthy, and that I should be granted another year to be even better, to improve myself, to be a good human being.

And I hope that God recognizes that.

Two of my brother-in-laws, and my mother, have had health issues lately, and they have all turned out just fine, so yes, God is good.

Now, on to other matters ...

You remember last Friday when I told you about the garbage-created fatberg that invaded London sewers? The thing was several football fields long, was made up of discarded diapers and wipes and other garbage, and it was clogging up those sewers to the point that London officials projected it would take weeks to rid its underlings of this thing.

Well, in the interim, a couple of interesting things have happened regarding this ball of congealsion.

First, a museum wanted at least some of it preserved, so that it could show it off to its visitors what happens when people throw the wrong things down the toilet.

Second, and most important, London officials now know what they are going to do when they finally extricate this mess from their sewer system: the 130-ton behemoth is going to be turned into 10,000 liters of biodiesel fuel.

Engineers continue to work to remove this gelatinous ball of waste from the sewer, and Thames Water recently announced that when they finally get the job done in October, they will send this mass to a specialist plant where elements of the goop will be turned into green diesel fuel, with Argent Energy handling this massive project.

A crew of eight is working seven days a week to remove the mass, using jet hoses to shoot water at it at such force that it breaks up, and is able to be sucked into tankers. Twenty to 30 tons of the fatberg is removed per each nine hour shift.

Evidently, this is not the first time that a fatberg has blocked the London sewers, and Thames Water has warned the public that "the sewers are not an abyss for household rubbish."

The amount of biodiesel fuel that such a fatberg could produce has been estimated as being enough to power 350 of London't double-decker buses for a day.

So, this story, although not a fairy tale by any stretch of the imagination, will have a happy ending after all.

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

Classic Rant #640 (December 19, 2011): Wrestling To Get My Mind Off Of Things

Saturday was one of the strangest days I have ever experienced.

In the morning, we put our dog Max to sleep. He was a fine dog and I know he is in dog heaven now.

In the afternoon, we had some people over--my wife's side of the family--for a holiday get together.

And during the evening, my son and I saw a WWE wrestling house show at nearby Nassau Coliseum.

A house show is sort of like a pre-rehearsal or a dry run. You are not going to see any championship belts change hands, and while you will see some stars, you will also see plenty of bums.

The wrestlers are allowed to show more of their skills at these shows, because really nothing is on the line, except to put on a good show for the crowd.

And they did during the roughly three-hour show on Saturday night.

Playing to what I would say was less than half of capacity--TV shows and pay per views regularly draw sold-out crowds there and around the world--the WWE superstars put on a good show.

They played everything to the hilt, and wowed the audience--probably 75 percent kids from the ages of 5 to 16--with their moves, and with their mouths.

The good guys played that up to the max, the bad guys did everything bad guys are supposed to do to be bad guys--they put down Long Island, they put down the rickety Coliseum, they put down their competitors.

But the good guys won every match, the bad guys lost every match, and the WWE sold a lot of T-shirts.

Perfect fare for a cold December night right before the holidays.

My son and I had a nice time there. Our seats weren't that great, but we could see everything pretty clearly.

The crowd--the smallest I have every seen for a wrestling show there--was very loud and vocal, and cheered on their favorites and hissed and booed the villains.

And for me, it was a perfect tonic for what happened earlier that day.

Our dog sat by us many days that my son and I watched wrestling on TV. Every Friday, we would make popcorn as we watched the Smackdown show, and Max just loved popcorn, so we threw him some as we watched the show.

He loved it, he really did.

So as I watched the wrestling show unfolding before me, I did think of Max once or twice.

And I am sure in dog heaven, he really enjoyed that.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Rant #1,985: New Year's Day

The Jewish New Year celebration begins tonight at sundown with Rosh Hashanah.

Jews all over the world will meet with their families, and reflect on the past year, making sure they did things the right way during the year.

The New Year celebration ends next week with Yom Kippur, the absolute holiest day on the Jewish calendar, which is different than the calendar we normally use because it is based on the lunar cycle.

I spoke about the season way back in Rant No. 91, September 18, 2009, so let's revisit that Rant, in edited form:

"Tonight is the start of the holiest period during the year for Jews around the world. Rosh Hashanah commences this period, starting at sundown. This holiday continues for the next two days.

Next week, Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, commences, and lasts a single day,.

Although I am not a religious Jew by any stretch of the imagination, I do participate in these holidays. They are holidays that ask Jews to examine their strengths, and weaknesses, during the past year and to reflect on how they can improve themselves during the upcoming year. They are holidays of both introspection and group prayer. During Yom Kippur, observant Jews fast, to show their forgiveness to God, and also to show their strength.

It is with this understanding of what the holiday means that I have always had this conundrum with how the rest of the world should look at these holidays. Should the “outside” world recognize this holy time of year or simply ignore it?

Living in New York, where there are a large amount of Jews, has made these holidays pretty well known by the non-Jewish population. In fact, schools are generally closed during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

I once found out years ago that the reason New York City schools close on these holidays is that since such a large portion of their teachers are Jewish, it was not prudent to open when three-quarters of the teachers would be out.

This year, there are the usual myriad controversies revolving around whether certain events should be held on these holidays or not.

Professional sports leagues will go about their business during these holidays, and the Yankees have their game against the Twins today scheduled at 1 p.m. Although not specified, I bet a lot of that thinking for game time was that it shows respect for the holiday, although none of the Yankees' players are Jewish.

When my son was in Little League, the league would, every year, schedule games on the first two nights of Passover. Although Passover is not one of the holiest occasions on the Jewish calendar, it is a holiday which revolves around the family, and the traditional seder, and garners wide participation even among non-observant Jews.

The league, of course, never had a game on Easter Sunday.

His current bowling league also pretty much ignores the Jewish holidays, and will hold its bowling schedule next Saturday on Yom Kippur.

My workplace does not give me off for the Jewish holidays, even though the owner, who is since deceased, was Jewish himself. I have to take the day(s) off as personal days.

Is this right? Shouldn’t everyone be given days off to celebrate their most holiest of holidays, whether it be Yom Kippur or Good Friday?

However, should business stop because a major religious holiday is being celebrated?

I don’t have an answer, and it is something that has puzzled me for years. These are religious holidays, and thus, they are more personal than say July 4 or Labor Day are.

The bottom line is this: do we suspend our usual day's activities because a major religion has one of its holiest days to celebrate?"

Yes, that is the question to ponder today.

Whatever the case, to those who observe the holiday, have a wonderful Rosh Hashanah, and have a great New Year. I will speak to you again on Friday.

Classic Rant #639 (December 16, 2011): Done

Well, almost.

My wife and I have decided that our dog must be put down.

And we are doing it this weekend.

Our dog, Max, has lived a good life, but he has not been the same dog the past several months.

He has cancer, plain and simple, and a bum hind leg to boot.

The cancer is in his left side, and the tumor has ballooned to the point that he can't use his leg, and he can't hold his bowels.

He is 14 and a half years old. He is a mixed breed terrier and pit bull, but don't let the pit bull part of him fool you; he is about the nicest dog that you would ever want to meet.

He barks a lot, which puts people off, but he wouldn't hurt a fly.

Max has lived a good life as a house dog, but I think that time has just about come to an end.

We adopted him from a shelter after losing another dog to a variety of physical ailments, and unfortunately, due to financial constrictions, we are going to have to bring Max to the pound for disposal, just like we did his predecessor.

I would love to have the vet do it, but it costs several hundred dollars, which my wife and I don't have.

So it will be like a death march tomorrow morning, but we will march in a car to the dog death camp.

My wife can't bear this, so my father will come with me, as he did with the other dog.

Max is not pictured here, but Max was a handsome, lovable dog in his day. He had his quirks, but he always knew when he did wrong... and when he did right.

I don't know about other animals, but dogs do have a soul.

And this poor soul, who we are telling ourselves that we are putting out of his misery by doing what we are going to do, will go to dog heaven.

And he will be in our hearts forever.

See you, Max. We will always love you.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Rant #1,984: All of My Toys

No, there is no Hurricane Jeffrey this year.

But for toy chain Toys 'R Us, the storm has hit them, and hit them hard.

The nation's largest toy chain filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday, trying to handle its debts in this Chapter 11 move.

Toys 'R Us has 1,600 stores and 64,000 employees, and it says that even through this filing, it is business as usual at its facilities.

But the timing of the filing is kind of odd, to me at least.

Such a filing right as the holiday shopping season is ready to begin?

To me, that means that the toy retailer is in trouble, and maybe even tremendous trouble.

Brick and mortar retailing is not what it once was, and heavy competition from online retailers--including Amazon--is hurting this type of business beyond what few want to admit.

And with a toy retailer, trying to compete with online vendors--the hustle and bustle of a store versus ordering a toy in the comfort of your home at any hour by the push of a button--doesn't measure up.

I would think that somewhere down the line, Toys 'R Us will close its most unprofitable stores, leaving huge holes in shopping centers from coast to coast, since their stores take up so much space.

It will also put thousands out of work, which is never a good thing.

Yes, it is business as usual now, but for how long--that is the question.

And again, the timing of this filing is very curious; you would think that they would give this holiday season a whirl, and if it didn't turn out well, then file for bankruptcy.

To do this right before the season begins shows that things aren't just bad for the retailer, they are probably dire.

Will Toys 'R Us follow other major toy retailers--like KB Toys--into the dumpster?

It is too early to tell, but I wouldn't bet against it.

Personally, I have nothing but fond memories of Toys 'R Us.

With two kids, there was a time when a visit to Toys 'R Us was almost akin to a visit to the supermarket; I went there just about every week from the time my daughter was born in 1988 until my son was about 10 years old in 2005.

For my daughter, there was no better place to buy her favorite toys as a kid--Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures and other related stuff--and for my son, it was the place to go for Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars.

But when they grew older, we pretty much stopped going to these stores. There really was no need anymore, as they moved onto other things.

Even with my son, who got into video games, there were other places to get these games, and at cheaper prices.

As I am writing this, I can't think of the last time I was in a Toys "R Us, but it must be years ago, and honestly, I don't even remember the reason for my last visit to the retailer.

And with no grandchildren or any other kids to buy for in sight, I doubt that I will be visiting there any time soon.

So Toys 'R Us is nothing more than a nice memory for me now, but let's hope, for traditional retail's sake, that it doesn't become a memory, period.

Classic Rant #638 (December 15, 2011): One Day At a Time With Schneider

Another guy who had a tremendous influence on my youth is gone.

You might not know the name Bert Schneider, but he died on Monday at the age of 78.

No, he wasn't the Schneider from the TV show, "One Day At a Time."

No, this guy had a much more important role in Hollywood.

Bert Schneider was a key person in Hollywood's counter-culture movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The son of Columbia Pictures president Abraham Schneider, he somehow convinced his father that a teen-oriented rock show was needed on network TV, a show that would showcase the new, emerging talent that was playing out throughout the country.

Yes, there was "American Bandstand," and later, "Where the Action Is," but these Dick Clark productions weren't on in prime time. Schneider convinced his dad, sometime in 1964 or 1965, that the popularity generated by the Beatles could be compressed and repackaged in a half hour comedy show in prime time.

His father went for the idea, but who would star in show?

Jan and Dean were first mentioned, and then the Lovin' Spoonful. The Spoonful were what they were really going for--a lovable, daffy bunch who could play music--but then Schneider and his partner, Bob Rafelson decided that a created-for-TV group was more to their liking.

In 1965, an ad was placed for "Ben Franklin" types to audition for the TV show, and a horde of rock and roll types auditioned for these roles. Some were already established in the business, such as Paul Peterson, who was a star from "The Donna Reed Show." Others were just starting out, such as future Oscar winner Paul Williams.

But four guys were chosen, and the Monkees they became. Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork became overnight sensations, and solidified the newly named Raybert Productions as a force to be reckoned with.

Through the Monkees, Schneider and Rafelson brought long-hairs to living rooms around the world. The show was an unqualified success, and the music was among the best of the period.

And through this show, Schneider and Rafelson met Jack Nicholson, a partnership that would pretty much begin with the Monkees' film "Head" and which would continue for the next several years.

Using money that came from the Monkees project, Schneider and Rafelson were able to make "Five Easy Pieces and "Easy Rider," films that brought the counter-culture to the masses and which made people like Nicholson, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper massive stars.

He also produced other well known films, including "The Last Picture Show" and "Hearts and Minds," but it all started out with a little project called "The Monkees."

Schneider had been retired from the business for many years, but his legacy is an incredible one, one that most people really don't know about.

The films and TV shows that he was involved with live on on DVD, and his knack for capturing the moment really was pretty incredible. Of course, he had the proper Hollywood connections, which certainly helped, but his ability to launch new talent--remember, he also launched the career of director Peter Bogdanovich--was amazing.

Rest in peace, Bert. You done good.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Rant #1,983: Ride Like the Wind With the Name Game

OK, so we have two more hurricanes to worry about.

Hurricane Jose is supposed to not hit land, but to possibly effect the northeast with winds and rain, all starting tomorrow.

Hurricane Maria is targeted as a major hurricane, and will most probably hit the already devastated Caribbean later this week.

Haven't we had enough of these hurricanes already?

And hurricane season has several more weeks to go, so here are the remaining names for what are called "The Atlantic Tropical (and Subtropical) Storm" names for 2017, starting with the letter "N":









There are no storm names for "Q, "U," "X," "Y"  and "Z" for whatever reason.

I guess there are a lack of common names to use for those letters, so they are simply skipped.

Hurricanes Quentin, Ursula, Xena, Yolanda and Zachary? I don't remember them.

Nor do I remember Hurricane Don (pictured), but it was one of the names used during the current 2017 season.

Evidently, there was some controversy in using that name, because some felt that it was used in a negative manner related to our President, Donald Trump.

But representatives of the National Hurricane Center said it had nothing to do with the President; it was simply a coincidence, as the name was chosen years earlier as the "D" representative for this year.

Some news outlets, including the Associated Press, nonetheless poked fun at the use of the name for a hurricane (even though I don't think it was fierce enough to be one, and only amounted to a tropical storm), but everyone would agree that Hurricane Don was happily a big nothing, and no one will remember it (no jokes now).

Anyway, since this has been a huge hurricane season in this part of the world, what happens if we have more than eight new hurricanes come up between now and the end of the hurricane season in November as far as names are concerned?

I have no idea if maybe they do go into "Q," "U," "X," "Y"  and "Z" or they simply start over with "A."

Let's hope that we don't have to deal with such problems, because the "A-W" (less Q and U) hurricanes have wreaked enough havoc themselves.

Classic Rant #637 (December 14, 2011): Patty Dukes It Out At 65

Actress Patty Duke is 65 today.

I find that hard to believe, but it is true.

In the world where people worship Lindsay Lohan, it is hard to believe that just about 50 years ago, people were holding Patty Duke in the same high esteem as they do Lohan today.

But it's like comparing apples with oranges, isn't it?

Duke was one of the younger stars of the pre-Beatles era who filled our minds just before we were going to get smashed upside the head by the four lads from Liverpool.

She was hot as a pistol. She won an Academy Award for her portrayal of a young Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker," and the world was literally her oyster.

She even had her own TV show, "The Patty Duke Show," and that is where I first encountered this young actress.

The show had not only one of the all-time great TV theme songs, but the theme song played off a gimmick: the versatile Duke played two characters on the show: a typical, nutty, fun-loving teenager, and her cultured, European cousin.

They would go to the same high school in Brooklyn Heights, but the fact that they looked so alike--heck, they could have been twins!--led to most of the show's comedy.

The show was funny in an almost subtle way. I know that I laughed out loud at this show when I was a kid, but now, the laughs are a little more subdued--especially when you know Duke's back story.

Duke suffered from mental illness, which was made worse by the fact that she didn't really know who she was until years later. She was mentally abused by many, and the realization that the Patty Duke everyone knew was not the real Patty Duke--her actual name was Anna--stifled her career after the mid to late 1960s.

Through all of this, she still acted, appeared on every game show there ever was, and continued to stay visible, especially during the 1970s when she was married to actor John Astin. She had several children, including actor Sean Astin, and the public persona pretty much took hold of the private persona.

She has come clean with her troubles, and, at 65 seems to finally be happy in the skin that she is in.

But as one of the first public personalities to come clean about her own mental illness, she was something of a pioneer.

So to Patty Duke, happy birthday, and many more.

And she is 65? I still can't believe it.

I guess she will always indelibly be in my mind as that wacky, crazy teen on "The Patty Duke Show."

Friday, September 15, 2017

Rant #1,982: Red Rubber Blob

In an instance proving that truth is often stranger than fiction, news reports are that a new, real-life “blob” has overtaken London's sewers.. According to these reports, British engineers say that they have launched a "sewer war" against a large blob of refuse that is clogging its sewers, and no, nobody by the name of Steve McQueen is among the engineers working on this project.

The word "blob" is defined as a formless mass, and this London gunk fits that description, consisting of congealed refuse--baby wipes, diapers and fat and oil. It reportedly measures 250 yards long--two and a half football fields--and weighs thousands of pounds. Engineers say that it will take three weeks to dissolve it and rid the London sewer system of its own real-life monster.

This real-life blob has been described as "a total monster" and its removal is "like trying to break up concrete.”

It almost sounds like a real-life version of “The Blob” featured in the 1958 film starring McQueen, but the London blob did not come from another world, it came from people flushing items down the toilet that should not have been discarded this way.

Fifty-nine years ago, Paramount Pictures released a low-budget horror/science fiction film called "The Blob," which was about an alien mass that crashes to earth from outer space and ends up eating up and removing citizens from the small town in Pennsylvania where it crash landed inside a meteorite. Each time it did this, it became larger, and eventually, it became as large as a building before it was overtaken.

As the movie moves along, the Blob is consuming everything--people and even brick and mortar structures--in its path. Through trial and error, McQueen, playing Steve Andrews, the film's hero, sees that the Blob recoils from only one thing--cold.

In an unlikely climax, he and a group of high schoolers get every fire extinguisher they can find in a local school and spray the contents of these extinguishers on the huge creature, freezing it until authorities can come on the scene. The Blob is then parachuted to the Arctic, where it presumably isn't destroyed, but is in some type of hibernating, comatose position due to the area's extreme cold.

The film was very successful on the drive-in circuit, has had a sequel and been remade, had a popular theme song on the charts, and the town where the Blob did its dirty work, Phonenixville, Pennsylvania, has an annual "Blobfest" to celebrate the movie.

Again, while there is no Steve McQueen in sight for the real-life Blob hitting London, it is pretty obvious that authorities want to do away with this mass for good, and do not want any return engagements or sequels to this situation it has on its hands.

And no, it is doubtful that London will have its own Blobfest to celebrate this mass of gunk any time soon.

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

Classic Rant #636 (December 13, 2011): The Incredible Hulk

It is incredible how Hulk Hogan's name constantly is in the news.

While 30 years ago, it was for all the right reasons--he was the top wrestler in the world, and his popularity helped bring professional wrestling to a new level--today, it is for all the wrong reasons.

The latest one is that the Hulkster--Terry Bollea on his birth certificate--is suing his ex-wife for defamation.

Evidently, Hulk's ex-wife claims in a memoir and in interviews to promote that tome that not only did he brutally attack her while they were married, but that he had an affair with another person.

And the other person just happens to be ex-wrestler Brutus Beefcake.

She claims the Hulkster had his Beefcake and ate it too, I guess.

Of course, Hogan says that this is nothing but a pack of lies from a vindictive ex-spouse.

"If any of that was true, I would admit it, and I was a homosexual I would embrace it," he is reported to have said in news reports. "It's just so crazy to hear, so I have a real problem with it. ... If you're going to say I'm something that I'm not to try to ruin my career and my livelihood ... I have to answer her back."

The Hulkster has been happily married to his current wife--who looks just like his former wife, but much younger, of course--for a year now, but his divorce has been anything but amicable.

Both sides have leveled various charges against the other over the past several months, and it doesn't appear as if it is going to stop anytime soon.

So much for amicable divorces! I can tell you from personal experience that there isn't any such thing. Both sides can appear to be pleasant toward each other, but let's face it, there had to be something to divide the two, and you just know that there is something kicking inside of at least one of them that makes the prospect of a "happy" divorce completely impossible.

Are the charges true? At this point, it really doesn't make any difference whether they are true or not. It is pretty much all water under the bridge.

Hulk and his ex are divorced, they have each seemingly moved on with their lives--his ex is dating a guy who is probably less than half her age--and that should be that.

But his ex keeps on bringing things up, negative things about the Hulkster.

Again, who knows if they are true, but I see a very vindictive ex-wife here.

They have two children to parent. That should be their focus, and not this nonsense.

But I can tell you, again from personal experience, that the nonsense seems to always creep into whatever happens in the family that is rocked by divorce.

And what of Brutus Beefcake? What does he have to say about this mess that he has been drawn into?

Nobody has heard from him at all at this point in time. Maybe the former "Barber" has taken the best tack in this whole thing.

Just don't say anything.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Rant #1,981: Endless Love With a Slow Hand But Stop Draggin' My Heart Around

This is Rant No, 1,981, just 19 away from the magic 2,000 mark.

Bully for me, and for this blog.

Anyway, since this is the 1,981st Rant, I figured I would look back at 1981, and what songs people were listening to on the radio and buying in their local record stores.

This was an important period in music, when MTV was first having an impact on what music we listened to (and viewed), and it was also right before vinyl records gave way to CDs, so I thought it might be fun to look back at what was popular during this transitional period in pop music, and pop culture.

For the week of September 12, 1981, 36 years ago, the No. 1 song on Billboard's Hot 100 was "Endless Love" by two musical superstars who first reached the charts as the lead singers of other acts, Diana Ross (Supremes) and Lionel Richie (Commodores). This was one of the biggest records of the 1980s, with nine weeks in the top spot. It was also the title theme of the movie starring Brooke Shields and Martin Hewitt.

A very visual act, the Pointer Sisters, had the No. 2 record in America during this period, with "Slow Hand."

At No. 3 was one of those popular duets between rock superstars that infiltrated the charts at this time. "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," by Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac) and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, was at the third spot this week.

One of the most popular acts of the period had the No. 4 record in the country, with Foreigner's "Urgent," featuring Jr. Walker on saxophone, residing at that spot.

Country was just starting to go mainstream in the early 1980s, and Ronnie Milsap's "(There's) No Gettin' Over Me" at No. 5, rounded out the top five singles in the country.

Looking at the next five of the top songs in America, Juice Newton has the No. 6 song on the Hot 100 this week with "Queen of Hearts."

Journey had one of its most endearing hit singles this week, with "Who's Crying Now" at the No. 7 spot.

Lionel Richie was hot as a pistol during this period, and he scored another hit as part of the Commodores with "Lady (You Bring Me Up)," which was the No. 8 song on the chart.

A future No. 1 tune, Christopher Cross' "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)," rushed up the chart to the No. 9 spot. The song--the title theme of the movie "Arthur" starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli--would overtake the endless run of "Endless Love" for the week of Oct. 17.

Rounding out the top 10 songs of that week was another country tune, "Step By Step," by Eddie Rabbit, which inched up to No. 10 this week.

The highest debuting record on the chart for the week was Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band's "Tryin' To Live My Life Without You," which came into the Hot 100 at No. 61. It reached as high as No. 5 a few weeks later.

The "Biggest Mover" on the Hot 100 for that week was "Private Eyes" by Daryl Hall and John Oates, which jumped from No. 54 the previous week to No. 34 this week. This single would eventually hit the No. 1 spot in early November.

So there you have it. These were the 10 most popular songs in the country at the time, and while none of them--save "Urgent" and the last song I talked about, "Private Eyes"--were on my personal "must listen to" list, you cannot knock how popular these songs were during this period.

Speak to you again tomorrow.

Classic Rant #635 (December 12, 2011): Holiday Flops

I am sure that you heard that this past weekend was the worst in the past three years for the movie industry.

In fact, even fewer people went to the movies this past weekend then went to theaters right after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"Only" $77 million was made this weekend. The top film was the flop "New Year's Eve," a film that will probably wind up on most "worst" lists for 2011. It recorded a "paltry" $13.7 million in ticket sales. It was followed by another new movie, the dreadfully reviewed "The Sitter," and the other top movies included "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part 1," "The Muppets," "Arthur Christmas," "Hugo," "The Descendants," "Happy Feet Two," "Jack and Jill," and "Immortals."

Each and every one of these films received poor to horrible reviews when they came out--including "The Descendants," sorry George Clooney fans--and heck, with this slate of films, why would anyone want to go to the movies today?

My wife and I have been talking about this recent slate of holiday movies, and I cannot ever remember a worse lineup of movies during holiday-time ever.

And I mean ever.

The next "blockbuster" that is supposed to thrill us is the "Sherlock Holmes" sequel. You know, the sequel where Robert Downey Jr.'s portrayal as a lazy slob superhero--Arthur Conan Doyle is probably turning in his grave--will continue. My family saw the first one, and even though my wife just loves Downey, she even said that it was one of the worst movies she ever saw.

So we won't be going to the movies for a long, long time.

I don't know where Hollywood's head is. The either remake movies or retread old ideas, and let me tell you, it generally does not work.

My parents were the type of people who used to go to the movies every week. And they continued going every week--they are now both 80 years old--until the past few months. They just can't justify spending $9 or more on the slate of films that Hollywood is releasing nowadays.

And don't be fooled by the dollar figures. Remember, movies cost about $9 a ticket now, and a couple of dollars higher for 3D fare. So while revenues have probably increased, the number of tickets sold has actually decreased.

And also, let's not forget that if you want to eat anything at the movie theater, you are going to have to pay for it, and pay for it with a lot of money.

So for a family of four, a movie day can cost over $50.

Why go to the movies? You can see the same trash, and save money, at home.

We did just that. My wife and I rented--and I really mean we rented because there was nothing else out there--a movie called "Bad Teacher," a film which certainly spells the end of Cameron Diaz's movie career.

She plays a teacher who is only in it for the money for a future boob job.

Yes, you read that right.

Diaz--who was never my cup of tea anyway--is horrific in this movie, as is her former real life boyfriend, Justin Timberlake.

The movie is embarrassing.

But we paid just $1.30 to see it through the local Redbox machine.

What trash.

And I know the other day I said that the "Three Stooges" movie looks interesting.

It does--but I pretty much expect that to be trash too.

But yes, I will probably fork over my money to see this trash.

Movies are a habit, and even though my family and I don't go regularly anymore, I wouldn't say the recent garbage put out by Hollywood is its death knell.

Dopes like me will always go to the movies, even if it isn't a weekly occurrence anymore.

But please, Hollywood, please put out something that is worth seeing.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Rant #1,980: I Can't Take It

Now, to show that I am personally back to the current reality, I am going to Rant and Rave about something that I have Ranted and Raved about many times over the years ...

And that is the price of tickets to New York Knicks games at Madison Square Garden.

This year, I have reached my saturation point.

After checking out the team's NBA schedule and the prices that they are charging for tickets. I have already sworn off this season, and I might just swear off going to a Knicks game, period, for many seasons to come.

The tickets are outrageously priced, in particular for a team that offers its fans so little.

Case in point: I thought going to a game later in the season, in April, might be a nice thing for myself and my son to do.

I found a game, Saturday, April 7, at 7:30 p.m., against the Milwaukee Bucks, not one of the elite teams in the league, but a team I think even this horrendous Knicks team could at least have a game with.

I then checked the ticket prices, and I know I should not be astonished at this point, but well, I was.

The cheapest seat in the house, in the nosebleed section all the way upstairs, was $78 a ticket, and these seats are bad, really bad, as are the "higher-priced" alternative, seats for $87 a pop.

For your pleasure, the seats--and most seats up on top--are partially blocked by the insane Chase Bridge, a contraption that demonstrated once and for all that the Knicks organization is as greedy as they come.

If you don't know what the Chase Bridge is, it was put up as a clear walkway, where you could walk from one side of the arena to another and actually be able to continue to see all the action while you walked.

The walkway was such a success that the Madison Square Garden brass added seats to it, and now, it overhangs in front of the upper seats, and depending on where you sit, you can't see the scoreboard, and you might be partially blocked from seeing the court.

My son and I went to one game a few years ago where we were in a corner, and you couldn't see much of anything. For our convenience, there was a TV screen in front of us, so you could see the action, and it was almost an acknowledgment by the MSG people that yes, you had wasted your money in going to a game, because even though you were at the game, you really weren't there.

Heck, I can sit at home in my underwear watching a game like this; I don't have to spend several hundred dollars to do it in person.

No way, never again.

So, with two tickets equalling out to $156--or $174 for the alternative--and with looming taxes and other charges, two seats to the game versus the Bucks would cost me about $200, and that is not including transportation fees, food fees, etc.

No, I am not going to spend upwards of $300 to see a Knicks game, and with such an inferior product, why bother?

We have been priced out of the market, and to me, a real fan, that is simply abominable.

The Knicks are in a category by themselves. They play in what is called "The World's Most Famous Arena," and they sell out each and every game, even though their product is horrid.

The place is marketed as a viable, cheaper alternative to seeing a Broadway show, and that is how the MSG brass treat their inner real estate--seats--when pricing them.

You can spend more than $100 for a seat to a Broadway show, but it IS cheaper to see a Knicks game, if you are willing to sit all the way up like this.

I should know. As you might remember, a few years back, I complained to both the Knicks and the NBA about prices, and they did get back to me, offering me market rate seats--yes, all the way up--minimally blocked by the Chase Bridge, and yes, I had to pay for them.

My son and I went to the game, the Knicks were nice about it, presenting both of us with a bag of goodies, but of course I go to a game which started at 12 noon, the Knicks players later admitted that many of them were out all night and were unprepared, and they lost by 40 points to the Boston Celtics.

My son and I are going to an NBA game this season. I have chosen to go to a Brooklyn Nets game, their first home game of the season in October.

Sure, their tickets are also overpriced, but they are about half what the Knicks tickets are.

The Barclay's Center is not MSG, but it will do as a viable NBA arena.

Yes, it is a pain to get there--we have to take two Long Island Railroad trains there--but they are really starting something nice in Brooklyn, and even though the team isn't very good, you get the sense that they know their market--often people like me--and they somewhat cater to that market.

Heck, all I want to do is go to an NBA game with my son. I do not want to waste a paycheck on doing so, so this will have to do.

"Never again" is a strong term, and who knows, somewhere down the line, perhaps my son and I will attend another Knicks game. Maybe we will win tickets to a game, and sit all the way down, and be able to see everything.

Maybe I will win the lottery too.

I mean, people do win such things ... .

Classic Rant #634 (December 9, 2011): Culture Vulture

I guess I am a culture vulture, looking for scenarios of interest that are interesting to me.

With the holiday season in full swing, there are usually lots of things to talk about around this time of year.

Here are a few of them.

The 31st Anniversary of the Death of John Lennon: This one kind of came and went. It happened yesterday, when I was talking about the new Three Stooges movie. I could have written about Lennon, but so much has been said about him, why add to it?

But it was 31 years ago that he was so senselessly murdered. I remember the night vividly; it is something I will never forget.

But 31 years--incredible! The time goes so, so fast.

Lindsay Lohan Poses For Playboy; Issue Cover Leaked: We move from a cultural icon of my youth to a cultural icon of today, the very pretty but completely vapid Lindsay Lohan.

If anyone needs to put a finger on how society has fallen since Lennon died, just look at jailbird Lohan, now posing in the bunny book.

If I have said it once, I will say it again: if she looked like Rosie O'Donnell, nobody would care about the nonsense surrounding this idiot. But she is gorgeous with a great body, the media loves her, and she poses in her nothings and gets $1 million for it. What do the Occupy Wall Street protesters have to say about this?

NBA Star Amare Stoudemire Teaches Kids Hebrew: New York Knicks basketball star Amare Stoudemire appeared on Shalom Sesame, Israel's equivalent of our Sesame Street, in a short segment teaching kids the meaning of the Hebrew word "tov," as in "mazel tov," a word which means "good" in English.

And it's good--of tov--for Stoudemire. He is black, and I only say that because it belies his origins. Since coming to the Knicks, in a town with a large Jewish population, he has been very proud to say that he has Jewish roots on his mother's side.

He didn't play this up when he played elsewhere, but, of course, he is going to play that up here.

Heck, I like him as a Knicks fan, and it really isn't important to me that he considers himself at least partially Jewish. But it is interesting, isn't it? Judaism takes on all different types of people, and I am happy to have Stoudemire as part of the flock.

Albert Pujols Signs With the Angels: I tried, I really tried, to make my son into a baseball player. He played Little League from ages 5-12, but that was it.

I am sure that Albert Pujols' parents are very proud that they put him in the direction of baseball, because this former St. Louis Cardinal is going to get a payday from the Los Angeles Angels that is mind boggling, to say the least. In the biggest surprise of Major League Baseball's winter meetings, the Angels signed free agent Pujols for something like $25 million a year, snaring him away from the World Series winning St. Louis Cardinals.

Well, my dad tried to make me into a baseball player too, but it just wasn't in the cards. Neither was it for Pujols with his former team.

I Get Attacked For My Letter to the Editor: What else is new? I write a Letter to the Editor of Newsday about the lack of Jewish representation on prime time network TV shows and the lack of Hanukkah programming on television, and both Jews and non-Jews attack me online and in the newspaper.

One person, in the newspaper, even called my letter "anti-Catholic," which was clearly not my intention. My letter was edited by the newspaper to make it more of a holiday letter, but people sure take things the wrong way, and they sure did it here.

If you want to read the letter they printed and all the backlash, go here:

I am done for the day. Speak to you next week ... if a pox has not been put on me by one of the responders who must think I am the anti-Christ. Do I look like the Anti-Christ in my Yankees regalia?

That's right. The Red Sox call the Yankees "The Evil Empire," so maybe there is something to this anti-Christ thing.

Maybe ... maybe not.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Rant #1,979: The Morning After

Today is September 12, the day after the anniversary of what became known as "9-11," September 11, 2001, when terrorist acts on our soil led to death and destruction.

On September 11, 2017, literally 16 years after these heinous acts, life was truly somewhat back to normal for all of us, although no one of age could ever forget what happened that day 16 years ago.

Me, I was at my Kia car dealer getting a few things fixed.

I told my work that I would be in somewhat late on Monday, because these things had to get done yesterday morning for various reasons.

I had been in there two Saturdays ago, they did not have a specific part that my car needed, and with the Labor Day holiday in between, there was going to be a delay to get that part in the shop.

They called me when it came in, and I had an early appointment yesterday to get it put in.

Yes, if nothing signaled that life had gotten back to normal 16 years after that terrible day, I guess that me being at the car dealer getting my car fixed kind of showed that we have gotten back to normal, or at least a new normal.

I went into the waiting room, and the dealer had a big screen TV tuned to the news, and yesterday morning, the news was directed at the annual remembrance of that horrible day, which takes place at Ground Zero in New York City, where the World Trade Center was taken out by the terrorists on that fateful day.

What happens is that people directly impacted by that day--those who lost their close loved ones when the planes hit the structures--read off every name of people who are known to have perished in that tragedy.

Both youngsters and those older than that read off the names of wives, husbands, fathers, mothers, aunts and uncles and cousins and best friends, all of whom died during that morning.

Some have had their remains found, others, even to this day, have only been identified as being there when the planes hit, as none of their remains have ever been found.

I sat in the waiting room and watched the readers tick off the names of those who perished on that day, and I have to tell you, it was hard to watch.

It was especially hard to watch when young children were at the podium reading the names, and then telling us why they were there: they lost one of their parents (mainly fathers, as many were born after the tragedy happened), they are named after someone who perished, or they lost someone very close to them who they never met, like a grandparent.

Some people, both adult and child alike, had a hard time getting out the words to describe their loved one, and the anguish they have felt in describing this person to those assembled, including numerous politicians, and those watching on TV.

Yes, a tear came to my eye as I watched this, and as people also waiting for their cars to be done looked at their cell phones, dealing with everyday things while people cried and wept over their own personal tragedies.

Yes, the world has gotten back to normal, to a certain extent.

The readers had gotten to the letter "F", and finally, after a few hours, my car was done, and I left to go to work.

My visual connection to the proceedings was done, and I sped on my way to work.

Yes, it was a pain in the butt to have to go back to the dealer and have this done during the workday, but I really had no choice.

Thinking about just that, I then thought to myself, "What am I complaining about? Look at what those people have had to deal with," and I pretty much shook my head.

Yes, we have gotten back to normal, albeit a new normal, I thought, as I got closer to my destination.

Classic Rant #633 (November 8, 2011): I'm Larry the Stooge

When I heard that the Farrelly brothers were going to do a reboot of the Three Stooges in a feature length film, I have to tell you, I cringed.

How can you remake comedy perfection? And why would you remake a film where, essentially, the actors would not only be portraying characters, but essentially, they would be aping Moe Howard, Curly Howard and Larry Fine?

Well, the trailer for this film--set to premier in April 2012--has just been released, and I have to say that at least over the course of the trailer, I am impressed.

The film, starring Sean Hayes (Larry), Will Sasso (Curly) and Chris Diamontopoulos (Moe), at least looks promising.

All the sight gags are there, all the slaps, pops and crackles are intact, the boys still have eyes for the ladies, and the breakneck pace of the trailer makes it look like a live action cartoon, which the Stooges' shorts were pretty much anyway.

The film will be kept at PG level though, because the filmmakers said that that was what the Stooges were, never venturing out of that territory, even though, of course, at the time of their heyday in the 1930s, 1940s, and early 1950s, there was no movie rating system.

And no, there are no apparent nods to Joe Besser or Curly Joe De Rita either. This is a plus, but nothing for Shemp Howard? He was an integral part of the Stooges story, and to completely omit him is a mistake.

Two other negatives, and they really aren't major negatives, in the film--it appears a lot of it takes place at a Catholic orphanage, so probably not only will some people be offended--there is one scene where one of the nuns wears a bathing suit that doesn't leave much to the imagination--but heck, the Stooges, less De Rita, were all Jewish in real life, and a lot of their schtick was related to that experience.

Second, and this is not a knock, although I guess it kind of is--every woman in this film, at least from the trailer, is built. And I mean really built, either naturally or by man-made means.

Yes, that means the Stooges will be sexed up, I guess to keep modern audiences interested. Of course, modern audiences have no tolerance for any actress that doesn't have a 36D chest, as you know. Even female viewers.

But that aside, the trailer does look promising. The actors do look like the characters that they are portraying, and they even have the vocal patterns down pat.

Larry, of course, was my favorite Stooge, and Sean Hayes looks like he "got" it, as do the other two actors.

Yes, I will eat humble pie here. The Three Stooges movie looks interesting, and with all the trash out there pretending to be art, I can go for some obviously lowbrow 90 minute garbage when it comes out next year.

And it comes out in April--around my birthday.

This Larry appears to be very, very amused.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Rant #1,978: Rock You Like a Hurricane

Hurricane Irma is now a Category 1 storm, but it has done its damage to Florida, and has certainly disrupted life through Florida, and up through Georgia and the Carolinas.

What with Harvey, Irma, and the coming Jose, this has been a hurricane season for the ages, and it still has several months to go.

This is a bad segueway, but the word "hurricane" has been used in popular music, but it was generally used for effect; I doubt that anyone will have any songs named directly after Harvey and Irma when all is said and done.

One song that comes to mind is "Rock You Like a Hurricane" by the Scorpions, which was a huge hit on FM rock radio back in 1984, and managed to hit No. 25 on the national Hot 100 charts during that year.

Being that this song was produced by a German band, I don't know if they even really know what a hurricane is, but I am sure that they received a storm of money for their efforts based on the success of this tune.

There have been a couple of other songs with the word "Hurricane" in the title over the years. This short list includes Bob Dylan's "Hurricane" (1976, No. 33, which dealt with Ruben "Hurricane" Carter, a person who the singer thought was wrongly imprisoned), Click's "Hurricane" (1963, No. 95) and the foreboding "Hurricane is Coming Tonite" by Carol Douglas (1975, No. 81).

A couple of songs mention hurricanes in their lyrics, including Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising" ("I hear a hurricane a-blowing, I know the end is coming soon") and the Rolling Stones' "Jumping Jack Flash" ("I was born in a cross-fire hurricane, and I howled at my ma in the driving rain").

I am sure there are many others that I am missing, both by title and lyrically, but these are the only ones I can think of right now.

Now, if you want to extend the search a bit, the use of "wind" or "windy" in titles and lyrics is probably endless, way beyond the word hurricane.

And when I think of the word "windy" in a song title, I have to go with the Association's "Windy," which hit No. 1 in 1967.

Even its lyrics are so appropriate to describe Irma, in kind of an eerie way, even though it was written 50 years before the fact. I guess if Irma had a brain and was describing herself, this is how it would all come out:

"Who's peaking out from under a stairway
Calling a name that's lighter than air
Who's bending down to give me a rainbow
Everyone know it's Windy

Who's tripping down the streets of the city
Smilin' at everybody she sees
Who's reachin' out to capture a moment
Everyone knows it's Windy

And Windy has stormy eyes
That flash at the sound of lies
And Windy has wings to fly
Above the clouds"

Yes, that is a somewhat good description of Irma, in particular the last verse.

There are plenty of other songs with the words "wind" and "windy" in its title, but I think the Association song pretty much says it all.

Wind can be a nice thing, cooling us down, and even helping us to create power and electricity when harnessed in the right way, but when the wind becomes excessive--like during a hurricane--all bets are off.

I wish those in the path of this horrible storm the best, and I will bet that no one will be writing songs looking at hurricanes and wind in a positive light anytime soon.

Classic Rant #632 (December 7, 2011): NBA Schedules Released

The National Basketball Association has put is woes behind it, and the new Collective Bargaining Agreement appears to be set in stone.

So finally, the NBA released its less than 82-game 66-game schedule.

All teams will play a much-compacted schedule, and that goes for my beloved New York Knicks, who open the season on Christmas Day, December 25, against the Boston Celtics.

Most teams have already put their tickets on sale, but no, not the Knicks. Their tickets won't go on sale until December 13 ... I guess, to build the excitement for the team in its partlially refurbished home of Madison Square Garden.

Look, I grew up in New York City, a place where basketball was, and still is, king on the sidewalks of the five boroughs.

I was growing up in the era of Walt Frazier, Willis Reed, Bill Bradley and the others that made up the greatest Knick teams of all, coached by Red Holzman.

The Knicks haven't won a championship since 1973, and they may not ever win another one in my lifetime.

But I still love the Knicks, and I love going to the Garden to watch them play, no batter how good or bad they are.

And the best thing is that my son loves going to the games too. (For the record, my wife hates basketball, and even though I have asked her numerous times to see a Knicks game with us, she has refused. I won't give up though.)

If he had his druthers, I would get us season tickets so he could see every game in person.

Financials aside, that isn't going to happen. But he loves to go to the games, and he is now at the same age that I was when the Knicks won their last championship, so we will be there for at least one game this season, sitting in the 400 seats that are closer to God than they are to the court.

But it will be fun, and I really can't wait to go.

Call me a poor idiot, but the lockout aside, I guess I enjoy watching petty, ego-driven millionaires play others in the same tax bracket.

How will the Knicks do this year? Who knows. I don't live and die with the Knicks like I do with the Yankees, whose expectations are always high.

But I think the Knicks will do fine this year. With Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony leading the way, they will certainly be a hot ticket in New York.

But all I need is two tickets to one of their games, that is really all I need.

Let's see how I do next Tuesday.

The 400 section, here I (and my son) come!

Here is the Knicks' 2011-2012 schedule:

Sat 17 @ New Jersey Preseason 2:00pm
Wed 21 vs New Jersey Preseason 7:30pm

Sun 25 vs Boston 12:00pm
Wed 28 @ Golden State 10:30pm
Thu 29 @ LA Lakers 10:30pm
Sat 31 @ Sacramento 8:00pm

Mon 02 vs Toronto 7:30pm
Wed 04 vs Charlotte 7:30pm
Fri 06 @ Washington 7:00pm
Sat 07 @ Detroit 7:30pm
Mon 09 vs Charlotte 7:30pm
Wed 11 vs Philadelphia 7:30pm
Thu 12 @ Memphis 8:00pm
Sat 14 @ Oklahoma City 8:00pm
Mon 16 vs Orlando 1:00pm
Wed 18 vs Phoenix 7:30pm
Fri 20 vs Milwaukee 7:30pm
Sat 21 vs Denver 7:30pm
Tue 24 @ Charlotte 7:00pm
Wed 25 @ Cleveland 7:00pm
Fri 27 @ Miami 8:00pm
Sat 28 @ Houston 8:00pm
Tue 31 vs Detroit 7:30pm

Thu 02 vs Chicago 8:00pm
Fri 03 @ Boston 8:00pm
Sat 04 vs New Jersey 7:30pm
Mon 06 vs Utah 7:30pm
Wed 08 @ Washington 7:00pm
Fri 10 vs LA Lakers 8:00pm
Sat 11 @ Minnesota 8:00pm
Tue 14 @ Toronto 7:00pm
Wed 15 vs Sacramento 7:30pm
Fri 17 vs New Orleans 8:00pm
Sun 19 vs Dallas 1:00pm
Mon 20 vs New Jersey 7:30pm
Wed 22 vs Atlanta 7:30pm
Thu 23 @ Miami 7:00pm
Wed 29 vs Cleveland 7:30pm

Sun 04 @ Boston 1:00pm
Tue 06 @ Dallas 8:30pm
Wed 07 @ San Antonio 8:30pm
Fri 09 @ Milwaukee 8:30pm
Sun 11 vs Philadelphia 12:00pm
Mon 12 @ Chicago 8:00pm
Wed 14 vs Portland 7:30pm
Fri 16 vs Indiana 7:30pm
Sat 17 @ Indiana 7:00pm
Tue 20 vs Toronto 7:30pm
Wed 21 @ Philadelphia 7:00pm
Fri 23 @ Toronto 7:00pm
Sat 24 vs Detroit 7:30pm
Mon 26 vs Milwaukee 7:30pm
Wed 28 vs Orlando 7:00pm
Fri 30 @ Atlanta 7:30pm
Sat 31 vs Cleveland 7:30pm

Tue 03 @ Indiana 7:00pm
Thu 05 @ Orlando 7:00pm
Sun 08 vs Chicago 1:00pm
Tue 10 @ Chicago 9:30pm
Wed 11 @ Milwaukee 8:00pm
Fri 13 vs Washington 7:30pm
Sun 15 vs Miami 1:00pm
Tue 17 vs Boston 8:00pm
Wed 18 @ New Jersey 7:30pm
Fri 20 @ Cleveland 7:30pm
Sun 22 @ Atlanta 1:00pm
Wed 25 vs LA Clippers 8:00pm
Thu 26 @ Charlotte 8:00pm

Friday, September 8, 2017

Rant #1,977: Here, There and Everywhere

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was set up by the Obama Administration in June 2012 to take care of the large number of children who arrived here illegally with their parents. This temporary program amounted to giving qualifying minors in such a situation stays on being sent away from this country to where they had come from, with two-year renewals from deportation.

"Dreamers," as they are sometimes known, totaled about 800,000, and while being part of DACA did not give these kids a clear road to citizenship--they were still here illegally--it pretty much put a Band Aid on the problem of what to do with these innocent kids, who were felons because, quite frankly, their parents were.

Well, President Trump, as promised, has curtailed the program--it was not law, it was a temporary program--and dumped it into Congress' hands, saying he wants THEM to resolve this problem.

And yes, it is a problem, a big one.

Many of the people who are part of the program were too young to understand their circumstances when they came here, but over the past five years, you would think that they would know that this was a TEMPORARY stopgap for them.

Heck, it includes the term "deferred action" in its very name. That means action is coming--and now it has.

This program was not a total slam dunk for the Obama Administration. People forget that President Obama tried to expand the program to include other illegals, but many states blocked such an expansion.

Anyway, the question now is this: what to do with the 800,000 people who came here illegally because their parents came here illegally?

And the next question is this: Do you penalize them because of their parents' indiscretions?

People are knocking President Trump for curtailing the program, but again, this program was not a permanent one. Basically, the Obama Administration "begged the question" about what to do with these illegals by setting up such a program, never directly addressing what to do with them on a more permanent basis, and putting a "not right now" label on their situations with the program.

Some people are making this into a nonsensical anti-immigrant and anti-Latino stance by the President, but it is not that--in fact, by putting the problem in Congress' hands, he is actually extending participants' time in this country, because they cannot be dealt with until legislators come up with a plan, within a six-month time period.

He could have easily started deportation proceedings against each and every program participant, but he chose not to.

In my opinion, here is what should be done with these kids, innocent bystanders due to their parents unwillingness to follow the law of the land.

The 800,000 participants should be given a further amnesty, maybe of up to a year, to work out their situations and either take the path to citizenship or decide that they don't want that and leave the country.

If during that 12-month period these participants prove to the federal government that they have put in for citizenship, they can stay in our country, and once they become citizens, that is pretty much the end of that, and we, as a country, welcome them into our rolls.

If some decide that they would rather not take that path, the year they have been given will allow them ample time to make other arrangements.

And for those who do nothing, well, they simply have to go, like any other undocumented alien.

I know that this is a relatively simple solution to a complex problem, but I do think that it is the fairest way to handle this, understanding that these one-time kids, many of whom are young adults now, came here not of their own direction but that of their parents, who refused to follow the rules.

It gives them time to set their priorities. Many of these people have not really known any other country than the U.S., so why not give them a chance to become citizens of our country?

I have read story after story about the program's participants, and how their lives have been thrown into a frenzy by the end of the program.

First off, did they not know that this was a temporary program?

Evidently not, or at least for some, evidently not.

I read one story of a kid who came here with his parents from Venezuela. He is a fine student, a leader in his school, and he hopes to go to a prestigious college when he graduates.

He has many friends, and like his peers, he applied for his driver's license when he came of age.

He noted that he was "shocked" when he was denied this privilege.

Why was he shocked? Being in DACA does not change participants' status; they are still looked under the law as illegal aliens. Unless undocumented aliens obtain social security numbers and other information illegally, no, they cannot possess a driver's license.

For someone so smart, this guy appeared to be, well, someone so ignorant of the tenets of DACA.

He was, and still is, an illegal alien in our country, and it is only through the good graces of this nation that he is still here.

And by the way, he is a Venezuelan Jew, not your stereotypical illegal alien, or at least the stereotypical illegal alien the media has designed for all of us.

Getting back to a simple solution to a complex problem, even if what I said was implemented, there are those who will fall through the cracks.

But at least it will acknowledge the nature of why these people are here in the first place--through no fault of their own--while giving them time to get their acts in order.

I hope Congress comes to an at least similar conclusion when it makes its decision about what to do with these people, and hopefully, they will do this quickly.

The President did nothing wrong in ending DACA, and his gesture of allowing Congress to decide what to do with these people--new laws would have to be written and passed by them--really is a humanitarian gesture, although many, wrongly, do not look at it that way.

Well, Congress, the ball is in your court.

Let's get this thing done.

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

Classic Rant #631 (December 6, 2011): Wally World

Today would have been actor and comedian Wally Cox's 87th birthday.

Again, like yesterday's Rant about Alan Sues, I doubt a lot of kids know who Wally Cox was.

But I remember him fondly.

Cox was sort of a nerd before nerd became a word.

He always seemed to play nebbishes, milquetoasts, henpecked characters. I guess that look that he had, appearing thin and bespectacled and gaunt, added to that typecasting.

And his voice, which was very wishy washy and nasally, just added to the stereotype.

But Cox, in real life, was far from that stereotype. He was actually quite athletic.

Cox was one of TV's first created stars as the star of "Mr. Peepers," one of the new medium's seminal shows. He played a milquetoast character on that popular show, and it carried over to just about everything else he did as an actor.

Growing up in Evanston, Ill., Cox became friends with another neighborhood child, Marlon Brando, and that friendship lasted his entire lifetime.

But unlike Brando, Cox couldn't break out to more demanding roles than his stereotypical role as a nebbish. He perpetuated that role in a number of movies and guest shots on numerous TV shows, including on "The Lucy Show" and the original "Bill Cosby Show."

In the mid 1960s, Cox leaped to fame as the voice for the cartoon character "Underdog." And again, Underdog's alter-ego, Shoe Shine Boy, was a nebbish, and it fit his stereotypical character to a T.

Cox then found further fame as one of the regulars on "The Hollywood Squares" game show, where he continued in his stereotypical role. But here, he showed just how bright he was in between the laughs.

Personally, I always found Cox to be an adept comedian. Whenever he came on the screen, I knew I had to be ready for the laughs to come, because they invariably would. And when he was on "The Hollywood Squares," there seemed to be a bit of resignation about him that I couldn't put my finger on. It was as if he believed that this was the level he was stuck at, and he was going to make the best of it.

He displayed a very dry wit, and unlike Paul Lynde--who you knew was reading jokes that were given to him--Cox appeared to be answering from his own mind. Whether that was true or not is open to speculation, but I always thought that he answered himself without prompting.

Cox was married three times and had two children. He died on Feb. 15, 1973 of a heart attack. Brando scattered his ashes in Death Valley and Tahiti.

Cox's legacy can be found in all the nerdish characters that followed him, from those actors in "The Revenge of the Nerds" series of movies to the actors who currently populate "The Big Bang Theory." Even the Steve Urkel character owes a lot to Cox.

Cox set the tone for these type of roles, but to this day, nobody did that type of character better than he did.