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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Rant #1,832: Stop This Game

I would normally write this Rant on Friday of this week, but I just feel like writing it now.

I am not going to be one of the approximately 189 million people who will be watching the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Neither will my wife, nor my son, and I know my parents won't be watching, either.

The championship game of the NFL season is the most hyped event in the history of our universe each year, and I want no part of it, for a variety of reasons.

I am not one of those phony fans who watches it--and watches football--just this one time a year, to be part of the "world order," so to speak.

I don't like football, haven't really been interested in football since my mid to late teens, and find the whole thing, well, just boring.

I have no money bet on the game, no office pools, nothing that a lot of people have who really could care less about the game.

Thus, I have no reason to watch it.

My universe is not going to change whether the New England Patriots or the Atlanta Falcons win, so why watch?

The buildup to the game has been eviscerating to begin with, so even if the game is a good one, it cannot live up to all the hype that leads up to it.

That being said, what am I going to watch on Sunday, as Fox builds up this game for virtually the entire day?

It is a quiet day in my house anyway. No parties to go to, no celebrations of an event that I have absolutely no interest in, but most importantly for my family, my son works, so I have to transport him back and forth to work.

My wife is off that day after working on Saturday, so at least she gets her day of rest.

Myself, it will be another weekend day off for me, so I will probably help her do the laundry, watch some things that I have recorded off TV, and watch a movie or two from Netflix and YouTube.

And no, I won't watch the game just to watch the commercials. I could really care less.

As the Super Bowl rears its annual face, my true passion, baseball, will be just getting started.

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training next week, and the means that the baseball season is just roughly two months away.

That is way more important to me than football ever was, even when I was a fan of the game when I was a kid.

I lost that passion, but I have never lost that passion for baseball.

I enjoy basketball, but I truly have had a love affair with baseball since I was an eight year old going to the original Yankee Stadium for the very first time.

The grandeur of that memory trumps any memory I could possibly have about football, and I cannot wait for the baseball season to begin, 162 games in 180 days, a real sports roller coaster ride that no other sport can even attempt to match.

You want your football, that is fine with me.

Me, I will be watching a movie, and not caring one bit about the Big Game.

The Super Bowl to me is really the Stupor Bowl, but to each his own.

Classic Rant #485 (April 15, 2011): Tiger Beat, Beat Beat!!!!

Ah, Tiger Beat.

When I was growing up in the 1960s and early 1970s, this was the magazine that every girl from the ages of seven to about 13 had to have.

It was the only place you could find out the latest news and gossip about all of your favorite stars, everyone from the Beatles to Paul Revere and the Raiders to Herman's Hermits to Dino, Desi and Billy to the Monkees to Bobby Sherman to the Cowsills to David Cassidy ...

Yes, I think you get it.

I heard the other day that its founder, Charles Laufer, who published Tiger Beat and other fan magazines that breathlessly covered the doings of teen idols, died at age 87.

The story goes that Laufer was teaching at a Norwalk, Calif., high school in the 1950s when he came up with the idea for a student-oriented magazine called Coaster. He later changed the name to Teen.

In 1965, he launched Tiger Beat, which covered the emerging, very fast-paced world of teendom in its infant stages. At its peak, the magazine sold hundreds of thousands of copies each month.

If you wanted to know the likes of Davy Jones, or wanted to know about Paul McCartney's latest girlfriend, you had to have Tiger Beat.

And this magazine made the use of apostrophes into an art. David Cassidy likes smart girls! Davy Jones is going with Sally Field! Mark Lindsay's desires!

Almost every sentence was punctuated with an apostrophe.

I mean, this was heavy stuff, or at least for a nine year old girl.

And to get the latest love beads (Davy Jones wore them!) or puka shells (David Cassidy wore them!), you had to have this magazine.

My sister collected these magazines, and read them from cover to cover when she was a kid.

She used to cut out the pictures and put them on her wall.

Me, I would take a glance every once in a while.

For boys, the news was negligible. What was important were the photos. You couldn't see photos like they had in Tiger Beat anywhere else.

And, if you wanted to keep up on the latest exploits of Susan Cowsill or Maureen McCormick, well, you had to have Tiger Beat.

Honestly, I have not looked into a Tiger Beat for decades. I guess they still cover the same type of thing--Justin Bieber and the like--for this generation of young girls.

It's a harmless publication, but I wonder how the Internet has impacted its reach.

Again, way back when, it was the only place you could find out what type of pillows Desi Arnaz Jr. liked to sleep on.

Today, that information is readily available on the Internet.

So, is the magazine still relevant?

Who knows, but you have to hand it to Laufer for dreaming it up.

It was pure genius!!!!!!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Rant #1,831: They're a Loser

How was your weekend?

Mine was pretty quiet.

My wife did not work this weekend, so we were clear and free with that.

So we both went food shopping, and later on, we took our son to his bowling league.

Later on Saturday, we visited my father in law at the veterans home at Stony Brook.

On Sunday, I took my son to work, later picked him up, caught up on some TV stuff I recorded, and that was about that.

What was unusual is that there was a New York Knicks game at 3 p.m., and so later in the afternoon, rather than going from channel to channel to find something to watch, my TV schedule was set--the Knicks versus that Atlanta Hawks for what appeared to be an interesting NBA contest.

Little did I realize at 3 p.m. how interesting this contest was going to be.

The Knicks led the game for a good portion of the four quarters, fought back to take the lead, squandered it again, and at the end of regulation time, the game was tied.

Then, they lost the lead, fought back to take the lead, squandered it again, and at the end of the first overtime, they were tied.

Going into the second overtime, they fought back to take the lead, squandered it again, and at the end of the second overtime, they were tied.

Going into the third overtime--the first time in over 10 years that the Knicks had gone into a third overtime during a game--they fought back to take the lead, squandered it again, and at the end of the third overtime, they were tied.

Going into the fourth overtime--the first time in 65 years that the Knicks had gone into a fourth overtime during a game--well, this was a bit early for Groundhog Day, just let's say.

The Knicks ended up losing the game in the fourth overtime, 142-139, but it was as entertaining a basketball game as I had seen in quite a while.

The Knicks actually had a chance to send the game into a fifth overtime, but on the last shots of the game, they missed two three-pointers, the last shot being an open shot that hit the back of the rim and popped out of the cylinder.

It was a frustrating loss for the Knicks, a team that is under a black cloud seemingly every season, and this one is no exception.

Trade rumors abound for Carmelo Anthony, the team's best player, who scored 45 points in 46 minutes in the game before fouling out.

Three of his teammates fouled out, too, and there were some very questionable calls made by the officials, adding to the "rumor" that there is an anti-New York bias around the league, and the Knicks simply can't get any calls.

But whatever the case, the game kept me occupied for more than three hours. It was a great game and a great win for the Hawks.

For the Knicks, it was also a great game, and a really tough game for them to lose.

But in the record books, it will just go down as another loss, in a season full of them.

And when you add in that the Brooklyn Nets have the worst record in the NBA, with only nine wins nearly into February, this is a bad time for New York professional basketball.

The Knicks are lousy, the Nets are even worse, and this game pretty much typified the Knicks season thus far--so close, set so far.

Next Sunday, Super Bowl Sunday for the uninitiated, I wonder what I am going to watch on TV. 

Will it be a droll weekend, or will I find something to captivate my interest like this game did this past Sunday?

Well, back to YouTube, Netflix or something else to pique my interest.

No Super Bowl for me.

Heck, maybe I will rewatch the Knicks game, if I can find it.

No, I don't deserve such torture.

Classic Rant #484 (April 14, 2011): Katie, Oh Katie

When Katie Couric became the anchor of the CBS Evening News a few years ago, I have to say I was skeptical.

The once proud seat, which became a throne when Walter Cronkite sat in it and later became the electric chair when Dan Rather tarnished it, had become a hot seat with Couric occupying it.

But over the months and the few years that she has been in that chair, I have to say that I have been impressed with her.

When she came in, I think a lot of people looked down on her because she was a well-known personality who was at best a soft news person, much more feature oriented, and with one leg in show business and maybe a toe in news.

I think she did a good job in this position. She was a "talking head" for sure, but I think she brought a professionalism to the job that was necessary to win back viewers' confidence.

Forget about the fact the CBS's evening news report is at the bottom of the ratings, and has been there for some time.

I like Katie.

Now we hear, and there are no denials, that she is leaving, probably to host her own syndicated show.

There are also rumblings that she might be headed back to the Today show on NBC.

Her contract at CBS ends on June 4, and she will probably leave the network by mutual agreement.

I liked Katie. Unlike most female news anchors, she didn't have the glitz, but she had the chops.

And I really liked that about her.

I like that when I come home from a hard day at work, she is on the screen, rather than your usual male talking head.

Yeah, that is sexist, but this is my blog, and I can say what I want.

And I hope that she comes back, to read the news again, but who knows?

Maybe they will get somebody, male or female, who fills the spot as well as she has.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Rant #1,830: Addicted to Shove

I can’t win for losing.

Whatever I do that is right, in the logical world, is actually wrong in the real world.

Let me illustrate this to you right now, right before my blood vessels explode out of complete frustration.

Several days ago, I had my yearly interview with the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) people to bring them up to date on my son.

They ask a couple of questions, it really is no big deal, and it is sort of a checks-and-balances type of thing, just to make sure we are all on the same page.

Everything went well, the interview lasted about 30 minutes during my lunch break, and I awaited their mail communication to me to check over the information and alert them if there any mistakes.

I finally received their paperwork yesterday, and everything was copacetic, until I got to the section of the document that says, “What we need from you.”

They asked me to send them a savings bond that my son and my wife share, and send it through the mail or bring it in to them in person.

Well, I am not going to send a savings bond to anyone in the mail, and certainly not a governmental entity. I will never see that bond again, both because of their imbecility and the way our local mail is around here, which I have talked about at great length in this column and won’t go into again right at this moment.

Well, I called SSI back today, and I was told that in lieu of sending the actual bond to them, I could have a bank—the issuing bank or one of its branches—make out a letter, on the bank’s letterhead, with all the information on the bond—names, dollar amount, etc.—and it would suffice.

When I heard this, I was happy, since I wouldn't have to take any time off of work, and I called the bank—later banks—to find out if and when they could do this for me.

Well, to my dismay, the banks refused to do this, yes, even the issuing bank that my wife once worked for. The banks I spoke to said they do not provide such a service.

So, I called SSI back, which is like calling out "Help!" in an empty forest. Yes, your message reverberates, but nobody gets back to you to help you.

Suffice it to say, I hung on the phone for a half hour or more, only to be disconnected “because call volume was high.”

I called back several more times, to no avail.

I called several other related names and numbers I had, and finally got to someone, who told me that I should have contacted several other numbers—numbers which I called, left messages with, and never received a return call from.

I decided that I would call SSI one last time, and lo and behold, after being on the phone for several minutes, someone picked up.

I told them my predicament, and the answerer said, “There is a simple way to get this accomplished. Just bring in the bond to your local Social Security office. You can come during normal business hours.”

“Your normal business hours are my normal business hours. That is the gist of this whole thing. I can’t get to your office without taking time off from work, which I really don’t want to do.”

“Well, you can send us the bond in the mail.”

“I am not sending a $x savings bond in the U.S. mail. You have got to be kidding.”

“Well, then you have to take time off from work and bring it in in person.”

“You know, that is anti-working person. I just told you that I do not want to take time off from work.”

“Well, then you are going to have to send it to us.”

“Why did the other worker say I could do it [the way I just explained to you] through the bank, sending me on a wild goose chase for nothing?”

“I don’t know, but you are going to have to take time off from work to bring the bond to us, where we will make a photocopy of it.”

“Why can’t I send you the photocopy?”

“Because we have to actually see the bond, so you can mail it, or take time off from work to come to our office.”

At this point, I had had enough.

Yes, I will take time off from work and get this done. If it takes a whole day of sitting there, I guess I will have to do this.

And at this point, if that is what it takes, that is what it takes.

I really don’t care anymore. I will sit there with a smile on my face for a whole day if necessary.

And that, my friends, is our government at work.

I am not going to get political here, but if any of you have been through a similar episode to this one, you know just how frustrating it can be.

And yes, as I am typing this, my veins are getting larger. I can feel it.

Let me end this before they burst.

Have a good weekend, and speak to you again on Monday.

Classic Rant #483 (April 13, 2011): Tickets, Get Yer Tickets (Not)


What more can I say? If you have tickets to your favorite events, you are lucky, or at least you know someone.

Me, I don't know anybody, so I have to get my tickets the old fashioned way--through the team or the venue that is hosting the event.

It has gotten a bit ridiculous to get tickets to various events. Sure, the Internet certainly makes it more convenient to secure tickets, but I have my doubts about if it actually makes it easier.

You can get tickets through the team or venue, but with thousands going online at the same time to secure tickets, does that make it any easier for you?

There is usually a speed bump while you are trying to get tickets--there aren't any in your price range, for instance--and then there are those fees, which are often as pricey as the ticket itself.

Then you have the secondary dealers, who will sell you a ticket, but you are going to have to really pay for it. Sometimes, the tickets on these outlets are double the face value, if not even more.

I have also heard that venues, in order to gauge the popularity of an event, will put up tickets on these sites. Is that fair? The venue itself is boosting its own ticket prices by doing this.

I want Knicks playoff tickets. There is supposedly a pre-sale tomorrow, but I don't have the password. I have tried everything I can do to find it, but I can't.

And how much will the tickets I want be? I am not looking to spend my life savings on two tickets to see one of the games.

This ticket thing has got me riled up. I purchased Yankees tickets through the Yankees, and chose the "print your own tickets" option.

Not only was I charged a ridiculous "processing price" to print my tickets through my own printer, but the Yankees did not make the tickets available to print until about three weeks after they were purchased.

What's going on here?

I don't know, but maybe the scalpers had it right after all.

Pay cash, get your tickets right in your hand, enjoy the event.

Maybe that is the way to do it ...

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Rant #1,829: The Kind of Girl We Could Love

Mary Tyler Moore died yesterday. She was 80 years old.

But to me, she will always be in her 20s and 30s, via her TV shows, two groundbreaking sitcoms that live on in our hearts to this day, and probably will for eternity.

Yes, that is a heavy thing to say, but talking about her, I do think that that statement is true.

How can you argue against the fact that "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" were more than sitcoms, they were statements of the time that they existed in, too?

Prior to these shows, Moore was just like any young actress in Hollywood, looking for her big break.

She had started out as a dancer, and her legs were the only part of her that you saw in the old "Richard Diamond" TV series.

She had a few other bit parts in the late 1950s, including an uncredited appearance as a dancer in Dan Rowan and Dick Martin's first film, "Once Upon a Horse."

She also had a few bit TV roles, including being billed as "Mary Moore" in an episode of "Bachelor Father."

But when the role of Laura Petrie came around ... well, Mary Tyler Moore WAS Laura Petrie.

The inexperienced actress, playing along with much more weathered performers such as Dick Van Dyke, Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie, filled that role to the hilt. She became America's most modern sitcom mother/wife, and she also filled those capri pants quite nicely.

It probably helped that she kind of looked like a prettier Jackie Kennedy, too.

The show supposedly showed off the modern suburban family, and thus, the modern suburban mother/wife, who often stood her ground in the home that she ran, doing it in separate beds, of course.

When that classic show ended, Moore gravitated to the movies, and her initial forays into the big screen were up and down affairs, including films with Elvis Presley ("Change of Habit") and Julie Andrews ("Thoroughly Modern Mille").

She then came back to the small screen in something called "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," where again, she played a modern woman of the time, the early 1970s, which pretty much was the antithesis of the character she played on "The Dick Van Dyke Show."

Mary Richards was the "new" woman, who worked outside the home, had no steady man in her life (for a good portion of the show's run), lived by herself with some crazy neighbors, and well, when the occasion came upon her, let's say, she took care of herself, if you get my drift.

Using Marlo Thomas' "That Girl" as a springboard, this show opened many doors, and eyes, and ears, as to what the modern woman was, and based on the show, it was not Laura Petrie.

Modern women of the early 1970s could have it all, and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" demonstrated that.

In those years, she and her then-husband Grant Tinker became media moguls, and their MTM Productions had many successful shows beyond her namesake sitcom, including Bob Newhart's first successful foray into sitcom success.

When her show went off the air in the mid-1970s, Moore again returned to the big screen, scoring one big, major role as the grieving mother in "Ordinary People," for which she was nominated for an Academy Award.

Subsequent TV and movie projects fizzled, but she was still in the public eye through her almost ubiquitous presence on TV, in the theater, and as the writer of two memoirs.

Also coming to the public's attention was her intertwined battles with alcoholism and diabetes, and other health concerns she had during the last 20 years of her life.

The last time I can remember seeing her was in a "Mary Tyler Moore Show" semi-reunion on the cable TV series "Hot in Cleveland." She barely spoke, and honestly, she did not look well.

That was two or three years ago, and now, she has succumbed.

Mary Tyler Moore was able to balance being both "America's Sweetheart" and "America's Modern Woman" with aplomb, and she had a smile that could light up any room--as well as several Emmy Awards to attest to her success.

She was smart, had "spunk" and she had an incredible amount of talent.

To say that she will be missed is an understatement.

But as I said earlier, Laura Petrie and Mary Richards will live on forever ...

And so will Mary Tyler Moore.

Classic Rant #482 (April 12, 2011): Tools of Ignorance

April 12 is a memorable day if you are an outer space nut, because today is the day that Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to fly in space, orbiting the earth a single time before making a safe landing.

That was back in 1961. I was four years old, and I probably was amazed at the whole thing. Still am.

However, way back in 1877, another momentous occasion happened on this day, and everybody from Johnny Bench to Carlton Fisk to Yogi Berra to Joe Mauer should stop and pause today.

What would their careers have been as catchers if not for the braveness of James Tyng, of Harvard University?

Tyng was a catcher in the very early days of the sport. He didn't feel like getting hit in the face or the head anymore when foul balls came off the bat.

So he became the first baseball player to use a catcher's mask in a game.

Leave it to a Harvard kid to be the first to do something.

A catcher's mask is an ungainly invention, but one that works. It is uncomfortable, must be thrown away when going after foul balls, and is easily stepped on when it is.

Yet, it is the very foundation of a catcher's arsenal of tools.

Today's catcher's mask is very, very different from the one Tyng wore. It is more lightweight, and aerodynamically designed to bear the brunt of foul balls with relative comfort.

And in a nod to Gagarin and other astronauts, the modern catcher's mask resembles an astronaut's helmet.

But it does what Tyng's basic mask did--it protects the face from foul balls.

When I was a kid in Little League, I did some catching. Let me tell you, that mask is annoying. It rubs against you the wrong way and actually, in my mind, cuts away part of your vision.

But I am sure it protected my face from severe hits with the ball. Last time I looked, I didn't have any balls etched into my face, so I guess it worked.

And it's worked for millions of others who have decided--or been told to--be the catcher.

So thanks to Tyng, and his bravery for trying something different.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Rant #1,828: A Little Bit This, A Little Bit That

Today is January 25, the 25th day of the calendar.

Just 11 more months until Christmas--it is closer than you think.

Today is a pretty nondescript day in history.

Two notable things that I saw when I looked up the date were:

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy held the first live presidential news conference today, from Washington, D.C.

I don't know what the news conference was about, but it has seemingly been followed by probably thousands of other presidential news conferences that have been broadcast on television since that time.

Yes, television became the medium to get your message across, replacing radio, but now, it seems the Internet has taken over that purpose, to get the word out to your constituents in the quickest way.

What medium is next?

The second interesting event of note that happened today was that actress Ava Gardner died.

The beauteous actress--with a turbulent personal life--died at age 68 today in 1990.

I am sure I missed something, but honestly, today really is a nondescript day in history, just another day in the calendar.

I don't expect it will be anything different by the time the day ends tonight and we move into January 26, but you never know.

Things can kind of happen. I am sure that most people thought at September 11 was just going to be another day at the salt mine, and then, what happened happened, and it became a day to never forget.

I certainly don't want another day like that, but things can happen so quickly that a "blah" day can turn into a momentous day in seemingly one flick of the switch.

Personally, it is just another day for me.

I woke up, took a shower, got dressed ate breakfast, sat down to write this column, and I am preparing for another totally unexciting day at work.

I don't know how many more days I will have to prepare for a totally unexciting day at work, but for now, I am there.

Then, later today, I come home, eat dinner, and try to watch TV, but I inevitably pass out and go to bed fairly early.

And then, I wake up the next day and do it all over again.

Yes, we are kind of like rats in cages, spinning on the wheel of life for hours.

Very little changes over the period of a day, and then we do it all over again, and again, and again.

That is why I work for the weekend.

I have said it many times, the weekend is my salvation, my prize for putting up with a week where nothing much happens of any importance.

At least on the weekend I can relax to a certain extent, but even on the weekend, I do so many things like on other weekend that I am still that rat in a cage.

But the alternative sometimes is worse, so I just go with the flow.

Again, I don't expect January 25 to be any different than most days on the calendar, and when I think about it, maybe that is a good thing.

Sometimes, surprises are something that none of us need.

Classic Rant #481 (April 11, 2011): Two Patridges In a Pair Tree

Well, it's not on the level of a Monkees reunion, but two former Partridge Family members got together to play a single song this past Saturday in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Danny Bonaduce, the often troubled ex-kid actor who didn't actually sing or play guitar on the show--even though he did lip-sync his musical parts and actually released an album of material during the early 1970s--is now a Philadelphia disk jockey. He has been doing standup comedy for years, and after doing his act, none other than David Cassidy approached him and asked him to play a Partridge Family song.

The two dueted "Doesn't Somebody Want To Be Wanted," and that was it.

Evidently, last year Cassidy--who continues to perform and record--and Bonaduce got together, and Cassidy dared Bonaduce to learn some of the Partridge Family songs. In October, the two first did the song together, the first time in 40 years that the two ever sang together.

Again, this is not a monumental reunion by any stretch of the imagination. The Partridge Family concept never was much of a put-on, as it was very clear that only Cassidy and step-mom/TV mom Shirley Jones were actually doing anything musically. All of the other actors--including Susan Dey--lip-synced their vocals and musical parts, with studio musicians and singers doing the musical work.

But it didn't stop this concept from selling millions of records in the early 1970s, picking up where the Monkees left off in the late 1960s.

In all honesty, there hasn't been anything like it since then. It was really the golden age of the teenybopper star, and David Cassidy picked up the mantle from another David--Jones that is--as one of the greatest TV-created teen phenoms of all time.

Bonaduce was, well he was there. He was a major part of the the show, but musically, he was nowhere.

And as he grew into adulthood, Bonaduce's life unfolded and unfurled. He has had marital problems, substance abuse problems, problems with the law ... you name it, he has probably done it.

But he seems to be on the straight and narrow now, which is good.

Now, if they could only bring back Dey and Jeremy Gelbwaks (or Brian Forster), and add Suzanne Crough, and get Shirley Jones to reprise her role ... nah, I don't know if I would want to see that after all.

Reuben Kincaid ... can he be lurking in the shadows somewhere?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Rant #1,827: Viva Las Elvis

I feel like talking about nothing much today, so I am going to talk about a quest that I started several weeks ago that I told you about several Rants ago.

I am trying to collect all the single sides that Elvis Presley had during his career, in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

He had several releases after his death, but I am most concerned about those 45s that were released during his lifetime.

No, I don't have the cash to actually collect them all--I have several, but really only a fraction of his actual singles in my record collection--but I can get them through various means, including off LPs that I have and off the Internet.

When I digitize all of the tracks, I put them on a thumb drive--and later a CDR--and I can listen to them in the car while I drive to and from work. It kind of gives me some incentive driving to work, and it relaxes me as I come home from my daily drudgery.

Right now, I am smack dab in the middle of the 1960s, which I have found to be the more difficult decade to collect his singles from.

It was the only decade where he was around as a hitmaker for the entire decade, and to me, it was the first decade that I was aware of him for what he was.

Sure, I was around in the 1950s--since 1957--but I was too young to understand his impact back then. In the 1960s, I first understood who he was, although much of his music, to me, was an afterthought at the time.

My main years of interest in popular music are 1964-1971, the Beatles years, and during that period, Elvis continued to be popular, continued to have hit records, but he wasn't the king of the charts anymore.

The Beatles changed things music-wise for everyone, and when you listen to Elvis' single sides during this period, much of his music sounds like it could have been recorded in 1961, 1962 or even 1963--even though it was being released in 1966, 1967 and 1968.

But late in the decade, even Elvis' music began to change. He went through what I call his "relevancy" period, singing songs that addressed more than just the love between boys and girls.

Using good, young songwriters of the period--including Mac Davis--Elvis had his "relevant" songs late in the decade, such as "In the Ghetto," and "Suspicious Minds," and it kind of revitalized his career.

Sure, anything with Elvis' name on it was going to sell anyway, but these were actually great songs, and deserved to be the big hits that they were.

But most of his 1960s' output revolved around his films, and like the films, they basically followed a formula that was very comfortable for Elvis' fans to digest. The songs were simple, had credible hooks, and again, Elvis sang them, so they became hits even if they weren't that good.

Elvis placed many singles up and down the charts during the 1960s, and the one song that has really come into its own and had a second life is "Viva Las Vegas" from the film of the same name, which co-starred the sultry, beautiful and very talented Ann-Margret.

Funny, you could see that there was something going on between the two as you watch the film, something beyond just being co-stars. The chemistry was incredible, and I am sure the chemistry off screen was too.

The song itself wasn't one of Elvis' biggest hits--it didn't even crack the Top 20 on Billboard's Hot 100--but it has lived on and persevered, and I will bet if you ask the average person what his or her favorite Elvis songs are, "Viva Las Vegas" would make the list.

Anyway, as I said, I am right in the middle of getting his music from this decade now--I am actually up to "All That I Am" from 1966, a song that only made it up to No. 41--so I have plenty of music to go.

It is a fun thing to do, really relaxes me, and it almost forces me to look back at Elvis' recording career, which had many, many ups, and certainly many downs.

I like lots of his music during this decade, don't like a lot of it, also, but heck, this guy really was the King. He could read the phone book and it would sound great.

I should be done with this decade soon, and then I will move on to the 1970s, another period where he had as many highs as he had lows, where he kind of became of characterization of himself, and the decade in which he ultimately left us.

It should be a fun ride for me, and I look forward to it.

Classic Rant #480 (April 8, 2011): A Black Man On Education

The debacle that surrounded the hiring of Kathie Black as New York City Schools chancellor is over. She resigned the post yesterday, and Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, who has a long career in education, will take over.

Black, a former Hearst executive who had absolutely no experience in educational matters--and who sent her own children to private school--lasted barely three months in the job, and was ridiculed from the beginning of her tenure as being out of touch with the very constituents she was supposed to serve.

In a press conference on Thursday, Mayor Bloomberg--who chose Black to be the school czar--said Black's tenure had not gone as planned.

"I take full responsibility for the fact that this hasn’t worked out as expected," Bloomberg said. "The story had become about her and away from the kids.”

The news comes shortly after Deputy Chancellor John White quit. He was the second deputy chancellor to step down this week and the fourth since Black took over in the fall.

The choice was a mistake from the very beginning. Bloomberg, the Emperor of New York City, has been running rampant during his third term in office. He is making choices and approving policy that goes against the grain of the city, what makes it great, and what needs fixing.

Schools that are under-performing are not improved, they are closed. Teachers are losing their jobs by the thousands, and those still employed are often teaching subjects in which they have little or not background in.

And most of these closures are in minority areas, where schools are often the only stable institution operating in these areas.

The choice of Black just added to the problem. With no education experience, and no allegiance to public school education, she was absolutely the wrong choice to head the New York City schools.

Once the best and proudest educational system n the world, these schools have fallen into disrepair since the mid to late 1960s. When local school boards wrested control of schools from the city in the late 1960s, things began to fall apart, and Bloomberg attempted to stem the tide by retaking control of the schools.

His idea might have sounded good on paper--bring a businesswoman into the fray--and run the educational system like he runs the city.

But you can't run an educational system this large like you run New York City, and Black proved that early on.

She was attacked by conservatives, liberals and people in between. She, herself, made comments that made her sort of like the female equivalent of Bloomberg--rich, poweful, ego-driven, and totally out of control and out of touch, an elitist who is full of arrogance but not full of any ideas.

So now there is in place a person with an educational background who has firm roots in this system. His grandson goes to school in St. Albans, Queens. He is a former kindergarten teacher.

He is a perfect choice for this position, at least on paper.

The city schools are not what they once were. Everybody acknowledges that they are broken.

Can they be fixed? That will be Walcott's job.

Can he do it? We will just have to wait and see.

But one piece of advice I would give him, as a a former New York City school student and former teacher--and coming from a family of teachers, many who taught in the New York City school system--is that you don't fix schools by closing them.

You hire better personnel to make those schools better.

Leaving neighborhoods without their schools is liking taking away the heart of these communities. They may function, but these neighborhoods will be on life support.

Don't close the schools--fix them.

I hope Walcott has a lot of hammers and nails, because it's going to take a lot of elbow grease to fix something that is in such disrepair. Black's tenure put this back years--maybe he is the right guy for the job.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Rant #1,826: All You Need Is Love

Yesterday was a pretty boring Sunday.

The skies were dreary most of the day, preparing for the nor'easter that we are supposed to be getting today.

My wife--who worked on Saturday--actually had to go into work for a spell yesterday for an ill-advised, poorly scheduled meeting.

My son worked as he always does on Sunday, and I had to bring him to his workplace and pick him up, too.

There was plenty of laundry to do, and with my wife in and out yesterday, I pitched in and helped her, while she also did some grocery shopping and cleaned the house when she got back from her work chores.

As a nation, we were basking in the glow of the aftermath of the inauguration, as well as the stench of the woman's march.

But it really was just another Sunday for me ... sort of.

I opened up the newspaper yesterday, and this is what I found:

My parents celebrated their 61st anniversary yesterday, and our local Newsday newspaper printed a nice article about them, how they met, and about their courtship.

It was nice to read about them as I ate breakfast, and although the story was heavily edited from the original that my sister and my mother put together and that I read a few weeks back, it was pretty accurate about them and their life together.

Sure, a few things got edited out or slightly changed, but no one really could complain.

I put this up on Facebook, and several well wishes poured in from friends wishing them the best.

And yes, there were plenty of people who never responded, because they either unfriended me or I unfriended them because of the recent presidential election.

That is fine--I am really sick of all of this nonsense, so you really do have to weed out the people who annoy you, as they do to you.

Yes, that unfortunately is what it has come to on Facebook, which, to me, has become a necessary evil in my life.

But that being said, there was a nice selection of people who responded to the article, so I have nothing to complain about.

While others are squabbling about politics on both sides of the ledger, this all has to do with love, and nothing else.

Heck, 61 years is a long, long time, and for my parents to be together--and in good health, both at 85 years of age--is an accomplishment that is far more important than politics, far more important than the hate and nasty diatribes I have been reading and seeing and experiencing related to the election.

At least for one moment, this article took people away from all of that nonsense and showed them how love is really the most important thing.

Congratulations to my parents, who are the true real deal in my life.

Classic Rant #479 (April 7, 2011): Dish It Out, a Blockbuster of a Deal

I truly do not understand Dish Network's purchase of Blockbuster.

These are two former giants that have fallen on hard times. It's like a marriage of one guy who has been married 10 times with a woman who has been married eight times.

There is a reason both are failing at what they do, and a marriage isn't going to solve those problems.

Dish Network is second in a two-team race to DirecTV in the satellite television business. And I mean a distant second in a two horse race.

Dish absolutely cannot compete with the more formidable DirecTV, so it doesn't try to, although it does whether it wants to or not.

Dish prides itself at being the lower-cost provider, and it is just that.

But as always, you pay for what you get.

And with Dish, it is a diminished lineup of stations, especially compared to DirecTV.

In the New York area, you can't watch the Yankees, Mets, Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, Devils or any other professional sports team with any regularity, because Dish has either taken off their networks (MSG, SNY) or has never had them to begin with (YES, MLB). And when they have them and there is a pricing problem, they just don't negotiate anymore. They take the networks off without warning to customers.

And their customer service is as lame as a limp noodle. Probably lamer.

Blockbuster was once the giant of the video stores. They were over-priced to begin with--a point that nobody seems to bring up--but they had a good selection.

They absolutely killed those mom and pop video stores that opened in the 1980s. Murdered them to oblivion.

But their fortunes began to tumble when tapes gave way to DVDs. There were so many other ways to get the movies that people wanted--including buying them, since prices fell to manageable levels with the advent of DVDs--that people started to ignore Blockbuster.

And when video rental machines came out, and charged $1 for the same movies that Blockbuster was charging nearly $5 for, well, that tipped the scales. Blockbuster has even gotten into this business, but it's too little, too late, especially with streaming video and NetFlix out there.

They have closed thousands of stores, and are a casualty of their own complacence.

And Dish is too.

So what does this marriage mean?

I have no idea. I guess Dish can now market itself in the Blockbuster stores that remain open.

Maybe with their combined resources, they can make something new happen in the delivery of movies to customers.

I simply don't know. On the surface, it looks like a plan doomed to failure.

Maybe these two former giants have something else in mind.

I just don't know. I really don't.

If video killed the radio star, then complacence killed the video store.

What Dish Network has in mind--other than probably increasing their rates to customers to pay for this deal--is beyond my comprehension.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Rant #1,825: Too Much Talk

First, let me congratulate my parents, who celebrate their 61st wedding anniversary on Sunday.

That is quite an accomplishment! I hope they have at least 61 more anniversaries together.

And today is my father in law's 85th birthday.

We had a shindig for him last Sunday, and he was a little under the weather, and I hope he feels better, and that is quite an accomplishment too! Many happy returns.

Now, since we talked about bananas yesterday, today, let's talk about ice cream.

I like vanilla ice cream. Always have, always will.

You like chocolate.

But I REALLY like vanilla, so if you like chocolate, you must be wrong.

No, you REALLY like chocolate, and I am wrong.

We both think we are correct in what we like, the other side is wrong, period, and we jump up and down proclaiming our side is right.

Statistics show that vanilla is a more popular ice cream flavor than vanilla, so I must be right, and you must be wrong.

It doesn't matter, because everyone that you know loves chocolate, so I must be wrong.

And again, we both jump up and down asserting our preferable flavor.

"But the statistics show ... "

"It doesn't matter. I am right and you are wrong!"

"Won't you at least give vanilla a try?"

"No, I don't like vanilla, and vanilla is terrible, vile and disgusting. I won't ever like it!"

"Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah!"

Does this patter sound familiar?

Today is inauguration day in Washington, and Donald Trump, the kid from Queens who made a name for himself in the real estate market, became a celebrity, and eventually rose to the top of the class when he was voted in as our 45th president, takes his oath.

This riles so many people, and conversely, has riled many people to answer back to those who are spouting vile comments about him.

People have forgotten how to agree to disagree, and it is about time that we went back and learned how to do this.

Both sides have to calm down and work to make this presidency a success. And the way we do that is to get together, respect the role and the man who is going to fill it for the next four years, and be unified, even if we don't necessarily agree with the man who is going to be our Commander in Chief.

I have read some vile things on both sides of the coin related to Trump, and it has gotten to the point that I really have had it up to here with all of this.

Enough is enough. To wish the man dead really shows how completely vile people can be.

Yes, yes, yes, I know that Trump did not win the popular vote.

However, the popular vote does not decide the presidency. I have known this since about fourth grade, and like it or not, this is the way our democracy works. It is part of a system of checks and balances put in by our country's forefathers, and it has worked for more than 200 years, and will work for at least 200 more.

I personally don't love Trump, but I am willing to give him my respect.

Others won't give him a minute of their time.

Now IS the time to come together, because united we stand, divided we fall.

I am going to leave you with a quote from Martin Luther King III, the son of the slain civil rights leader, who met with Trump on the holiday honoring his father to discuss several topics and themes, including the John Lewis fiasco.

Like his dad, King gets it, understands it, and what he said really should be read by all Americans on both sides of the coin as Trump takes office.

“Well, first of all I think that in the heat of emotion a lot of things get said on both sides. And I think that at some point — I am, as John Lewis and many others, a bridge builder.

“The goal is to bring America together and Americans. We are a great nation but we must become a greater nation. And what my father represented, my mother represented through her life, what I hope that I am trying to do is always bring people together.”

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

Classic Rant #478 (April 6, 2011): Follow the Bouncing Ball

Yes, my beloved Knicks have finally made the NBA playoffs.

It will be the first time in seven years that they will be in the playoffs.

The drought was a long one, take it from me.

One of the NBA's charter franchises--a team that began in the late 1940s when the league commenced play, and a team that dominated in the late 1960s and early 1970s when they won their two championships--had fallen on very hard times since the Patrick Ewing era ended. They didn't win any championships during that period in the 1990s, but they were one of the best teams around.

Then came the past few years, when a good college team could beat this bunch.

They were overpaid, overextended, and under talented.

Although many didn't like the path they were on--including me--they had to take that path to get where they are today ...

Basically a .500 team.

Sure, that isn't very good, but in the land of the NBA, and particularly the Eastern Conference, it is good enough.

Heck, the Indiana Pacers may qualify for the playoffs and not even have a .500 record.

The Knicks added two superstars this year--Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony--and added another player who has seen it all, Chauncey Billups, to their team. It took some time for this team to gel, but they have now won a few games in a row and look confident going into the playoffs.

Who will they play?

All accounts are that they will play the Miami Heat, the team with the three-headed superstar mix of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron James.

I don't know how the Knicks will fare against this team--I would prefer them playing the Chicago Bulls, a team that is quite good but one that can be beaten--but at least the Knicks are there, not at home like they've been for the past seven years.

No, I probably won't be at any of the games. It is just too darn expensive.

But I will root from home--finally rooting for something as far as the Knicks are concerned.

If they play Miami, I don't think they will come out victorious, but they will give it a good shot, something to build upon leading into next year.

Let's go Knicks!

We New York fans have suffered enough.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Rant #1,824: Loving You Has Made Me Bananas

I enjoy writing this column five days a week, and I often get great satisfaction from what I put down electronically for all to read.

But sometimes, what I write drives me bananas.

That is kind of funny, because I love to eat bananas.

I have always enjoyed bananas, one of my favorite fruits.

I have enjoyed the fruit as a kid, and all through the years leading up to the present time.

But during the present time, eating bananas has taken on greater significance to me, taking precedence over my true favorite fruit, apples.

Here's why.

I have had numerous dental issues during the past few months, not being comfortable eating everything and anything from a piece of bread to a bowl of ice cream.

I can blame that firmly on my soon-to-be former dentist, who did not take care of my teeth very well.

Anyway, during the worst of it, I had trouble eating apples. I could bite into the apple with my front teeth without a problem, but once it came to actually chewing what I bit off, I had some major problems, including pieces of the apple getting caught in between my teeth, which led to a lot of discomfort.

When I finally had that one wisdom tooth removed, I obviously could not eat much of anything that I really had to chomp on for several weeks, so apples were out.

I gravitated toward bananas, because once you peel back the skin, you get about the softest fruit that can be imagined.

So for months, I have stayed away from apples and have moved my sights every day at lunch to having a banana.

Heck, it is healthy. It provides me with plenty of potassium, and it doesn't take too much chomping to digest it fully.

Bananas are, for some reason, the butt of jokes.

Nothing is more basically funny than someone slipping on a banana peel--as Ethel Merman did in the memorable last scene of the classic film "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World," and we often classify people who are one tool short of a set as being bananas.

I don't know where all this comes from, but monkeys eat bananas, and they are thought to be our next of kin, and when we see them eat bananas almost like we do, we laugh, so maybe it has to do with that.

Popular songs have celebrated bananas through the years, such as "Yes, We Have No Bananas," made famous by Jimmy Durante, and a less popular number, the title of today's column, which was sung by Guy Marks as a sendup to 1920s dance hall numbers.

Both Durante and Marks were comedians, so it dovetails into what I said earlier about bananas being funny.

There was also a novelty tune by the Peels called "Juanita Banana," and again, novelty tunes are supposedly funny, and that record was just that, as I remember it.

Perhaps the most famous song about bananas was "The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)" by Harry Belafonte. It kind of mirrored the limbo craze, and it is a fun song to listen to, although not comedy, per se.

And then we have another cultural icon, the Chiquita Banana lady, patterned after another comic, Carmen Miranda, and her South American costumes.

That marketing ploy sold millions and millions of bananas to Americans over the years.

And who could forget the film "Bananas," by Woody Allen, when he was actually funny?

Funny, I don't really care for the variations of bananas, like banana-flavored things and plantains, but I do like longer bananas over shorter ones, but as long as they are not over-ripe, I like any banana.

Once they get over-ripe, they are nearly ready for the garbage pail, but I have had a few of those recently, and they are both mushy and sweet, so I won't die from them if I eat them.

Anyway, that is my view of bananas.

Honestly, they aren't as good as apples, but it's only rock and roll, so I like them.

No, that song has nothing to do with bananas.

Classic Rant #477 (April 5, 2011): What Did They Expect?

This one is going to be direct and to the point.

I will start it off with a question:

What did the people who spent their hard earned money to see Charlie Sheen perform live expect from his show?

Exit reviews were putrid for this show, or diatribe, or whatever you want to call it.

People left the show saying it was the worst show they had ever seen. Many wanted their money back.

And all this comes to New York's Radio City Music Hall in due time.

Remember, Sheen is a psychotic, anti-Semitic, ego-driven hustler who cheats on his wife and kids and has drug and alcohol problems, all of which he doesn't believe are "problems" that he can't control.

And he has now put all of this into a stage show.

And people spent money for this trash.

Sheen is a comedic actor. He is not a standup comedian.

So a one-man show like this can be nothing but a disaster without proper writing and staging.

I think the scariest thing about the show is that watching the news the other day, most people who attended the show seemed to be between 25 and 35 years of age.

Most said they found Sheen to be funny, and that they liked him, but not at this show, where he was alleged to have screamed out over boos, "You can boo all you want, because I already have your money."

My next question is: Why does the 25 to 35 year old age group find this guy funny?

He beats up his wives, uses drugs and prostitutes as if they were toilet paper, and he is absolutely self absorbed.

If it was their sister he was beating up, I doubt they would find him so charming.

And why do people 35 years of age and up find this fool so deplorable?

That is a generation gap that I really think needs some explaining.

Are the younger ones so hardened to this type of nonsense that they pretty much look to bypass it, as if it doesn't mean anything to them at all?

Are older people more tuned in to a troubled, sick human being, and understand that that is what he is?

I don't know, but I wouldn't buy a ticket to see Hitler.

I am not likening Sheen to Hitler, but it is the same premise.

Why buy a ticket to a show featuring someone you know is a screw up?

Why buy a ticket to a show featuring someone who has a load of negative qualities that if he were in your family, you would probably at the very least punch him out?

I don't get it. I really don't.

And I don't get the venues that are staging this nonsense.

Radio City Music Hall, owned by the Dolans of Cablevision fame, are staging this show.

Sorry, I don't get it. Not at all.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Rant #1,823: The Show Must (Not) Go On

It was announced last week that the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus would soon go out of business.

Falling ticket sales--certainly generated by changing societal mores--doomed the circus, and later this year, it will give its final show, ironically at the new Nassau Coliseum on Long Island.

Why has it come to this? Why has this venue demonstrating old-style Americana fallen on such hard times?

I guess it was inevitable in these days of short attention spans and so many other big events to watch and attend that the circus was thought of as truly old school, not really primed for the 21st century.

But it took generations for that conclusion to come, and yes, it has to do with changing societal mores really more than anything else.

And the demise was slow and gradual.

First came the sideshows, which became verboten since about the 1960s.

Sideshows were once a big draw for the circus, and when the circus came to town, seemingly everyone wanted to see the newest attraction, whether it was the height challenged Tom Thumb or the bearded lady.

But about 50 years ago, people kind of wised up that watching Siamese twins or the guy who could eat glass really was not much more than gawking, and not entertainment.

So that faded away, but it took more than 50 more years for the scrutiny the circus has come under in recent times to finally halt it.

Since the 1970s, animal rights groups have claimed that the circus treats its true star attractions--its animal menagerie, including lions, tigers, elephants and the like--very poorly.

Honestly, you would get arguments on both sides about this, with the animal rights people stating that the circus was barbaric to their animals, while the circus people would counter by saying that they treated them better than they would be treated in zoos and other places where they would be in captivity.

Honestly, I don't know who is right in this case, but without the animal attractions, the circus cannot survive. Once Ringling Brothers pulled their elephants from performing, you just knew that the end was near.

Heck, they tried to turn the public away from that omission by hiring their first female ringmaster, but even that couldn't turn the public on to the circus again. It was a good last ditch effort, but it failed to muster the enthusiasm that was its intention.

Ringling Brothers will soon go out of business, but the circus will, in one form or another, live on.

The circus, even in the big cities, has small-town atmosphere written all over it, and smaller traveling circuses will continue to entertain millions of people each year.

But the days of the big-time circus entertaining people in big-time venues appears to be over, and thus, a part of Americana will have bitten the dust.

Personally, I have not been to the circus in quite a while. I can't remember if I took my daughter or son to the circus when they were toddlers, but I know that I did go with them at least once.

Today, the modern circus is not a three-ring one, but a one-ring one, in the form of the WWE. I have often said in this column that the WWE is today's circus, and certainly, Vince McMahon has the same spirit that P.T. Barnum had, with his traveling show hitting all the stops and entertaining millions of people each year.

There are also other variations of the circus, like Cirque De Soleil, which keeps that spirit alive to a degree, but well, it's not the circus that I remember going to as a kid.

But for this 21st century generation, these variations of the original theme will have to do.

Classic Rant #476 (April 4, 2011): Comedy Tonight

I have thousands of records at home ... 45s, LPs, CDs, cassette tapes ... you name it, I have it.

I am pretty proud of my collection. It mainly spans the years 1964-to about 1990 or so, or from when the Beatles took over the world to when CDs finally overtook vinyl as the recording medium of choice. I have recordings prior to 1964 and after 1990, but the majority of what I have spans that period.

I also have compilations that were produced after that period that include music made during my prime period, but generally, most of the stuff I have was made, executed and performed during the 1964-1990 period.

I have a lot of comedy albums in my collection. Comedy albums are sort of a forgotten art form. What these albums were were basically recorded live performances from top, middle and lower-level comedians of the day.

For every Bill Cosby, you had your Joey Forman, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, I really enjoy the comedy albums I have from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, or really the golden age of comedy records.

These LPs basically brought the Las Vegas act right into your living room, and were often played during dinner parties, where men wore suits and ladies wore dresses. As coffee was being served by the hostess, the host would take out his new comedy LP and say he wanted to play it for his guests.

They would gather around the Hi-Fi and listen to--and laugh--along with comics who dressed in tuxedos and often smoked on stage. No bottled water on stage like today!

You have Shelley Berman, Bill Dana, Bob Newhart, Allan Sherman, and of course Bill Cosby, but you also have Don Adams, Marty Allen and Steve Rossi, Jack Burns and Avery Schreiber and Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara.

Most of these acts you could find on "The Ed Sullivan Show," and that is probably how I first became familiar with most of these artists.

Comedy albums during this period--certainly up to when acts like George Carlin and Richard Pryor let it all hang out in the early to mid-1970s--were pretty staid, mostly G-rated, but some comedy albums were a bit more risque.

Many of these artists got away with a lot of double entendres because they played the "chitlin circuit," or what was known as the black circuit of theaters, playing to almost 100 percent black audiences.

You had Redd Foxx, Lawanda Page, Nipsey Russell, and a whole load of artists whose LPs you really had to search out way back when. Many of them you had to ask for, and they were kept behind the counter.

Funny, many of these artists crossed into the mainstream as comedy opened up a bit in the mid 1960s and early 1970s.

How different the world is today? Is there a comedian who doesn't spout four letter words as quickly as the ears will allow?

Anyway, I have recently rediscovered my comedy albums after a long hiatus of having them but not listening to them. I am trying to digitize each one, and listening to the likes of the acts I've previously mentioned have been a revelation.

Although a lot of the comedy is topical and for the time, a lot of it is timeless.

I was listening to a Pigmeat Markham album the other day--another chitlin circuit performer who crossed over into the mainstream--and the stuff was kind of risque, but not dirty at all, maybe PG.

But it was funny--really funny.

I have to tell you, the comedians today don't do too much for me. I just don't laugh when every word begins with an F. It's sort of using the lowest common denominator to get the cheapest laugh.

I like laughs that are well crafted, like the stuff from the time period I most prefer.

Sure, a lot of it is corny and dated, but it is funny.

Rather than use the F word like they do today, I like comedy that works around that but gets the maximum bang for the buck.

Anyway, if you have any comedy LPs in your own collection, take them out and listen to them again.

Sure, you'll remember a lot of the stuff, but listen to the craftsmanship at hand.

I am sorry to say you don't hear that today.

And as I listen to my comedy LPs, I find that I kind of miss that era of comedy, miss it a lot.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Rant #1,822: Bits and Pieces

My allergies continue to bother me today, but not to the extent that they did yesterday, so today is already a better day.

Anyway, today I look at a couple of items that I don't think deserve a full column mention. The first item actually could have been spoken about in yesterday's Rant, but I decided to give it its own smaller mention here.

U2 Delays Album, Blames Trump's Win: In probably what is the early leader in the dumbest story of 2017, the Irish band U2 announced late last week that their new album would be delayed, as they "digested" (my word) Donald Trump's victory as our next president.

U2, once the critics' darlings but lately discarded by the critics that once loved their music, made news with this announcement, and any publicity is good publicity, even if it is completely ridiculous, which this announcement was.

Rock albums are often delayed for one reason or another, but to pin it on Donald Trump? C'mon now, they could do better than that.

Was every song on the album about Hillary Clinton? Now, do they have to write songs criticizing Donald Trump?

U2 should be grateful for America. They take our money, have done so for years, no matter who the president happens to be. They don't like Trump? That is fine. But to blame an album's delay on him?

They aren't citizens of our country, but they live here and abroad, probably mainly on the money they have made here. Shut up and sing.

Knicks Stink: Yes, the New York Knickerbockers, playing in their 70th year in the NBA, truly are an awful team, even though we were promised better by team president Phil Jackson and by the team's one true star Carmelo Anthony.

The Knicks brought in more than a half dozen new players, of various levels of ability, and they have never jelled as a real team, just a collection of players making a lot of money and not delivering.

Last week, one of their key acquisitions, Derrick Rose, decided to bolt the team without telling anyone. He was fine a considerable amount, and reports are that he was considering early retirement during his absence, talked to his mother about it, and returned as if nothing happened. I repeat, he left without permission and what made the incident much worse is that he didn't tell anyone where he was going to, and would not answer phone calls.

Now, with yesterday's buzzer beater loss to the Atlanta Hawks, murmurs are again getting louder that both Anthony and Jackson will be gone by season's end.

At this point, Knicks fans would have to say good riddance to one or both of them leaving. There is a black cloud hanging over this team, and the stench often comes from these two individuals.

Enough is enough already. Thanks goodness I was around more than 40 years ago when they won their two championships, because there might not be another one coming during my lifetime.

Not even close.

Taco Bell Introduces Taco Made Out of Chicken: Give it to Taco Bell for trying something new, even if you don't necessarily like their food.

They have concocted a taco whose shell is made out of fried chicken, and which is shaped into a taco shell. It will be stuffed with the usual ingredients that make up their tacos. and this new concoction will start to be sold around the country on January 26.

I think that this new offering will either entice Taco Bell customers to try something new or revolt them, or maybe even both.

I don't like chicken, so I won't be trying this thing, but I am sure that plenty of people will. To me, the thought of the shell actually being made of fried chicken is kind of intriguing and kind of off-putting at the same time.

My son likes chicken, so he will be the one who I will buy this for the next time we have the urge for Taco Bell.

But heck, if the thing bombs, we may never get the chance to try this concoction, so we better get this urge soon.

That is it for now. I mean, what other regular column in the world will give you U2, Donald Trump, Phil Jackson, Carmelo Anthony, and Taco Bell in one day?

Heck, all of this might turn your stomach more than the Taco Bell concoction could ever do.

Speak to you again tomorrow.