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Friday, April 28, 2017

Rant #1,893: Happy Birthday, Sweet 60

Today, I have reached the ripe young age of 60 years old.

I can't believe it, to be honest with you.

It seems like yesterday that I was playing with my friends in the dirt with our toy trucks, or playing a pickup basketball game in the park, or studying for my bar mitzvah, or even preparing for my wedding, where I married the girl of my dreams nearly 24 years ago.

Heck, 24 years ago, I was 36 years old.

And I must have thought that that age was old at one time in my life, probably when I was playing with the toy trucks in the dirt.

Today I am 60.

I have had an interesting life, certainly not one that will ever go up on the big or little screen, or in a best-selling book, but a fun life nonetheless.

I had an absolutely fantastic childhood. Sure, there were challenges here and there, but the stuff I experienced--both personally and just being around during that period in our history--the people I knew and still know, really, the whole ball of wax, was just incredible.

When you are right in the middle of it, it is hard to see from the outside looking in, but when you grow older, and can take a step back and look at all of these things … well, it was truly incredible.

Adulthood was quite a bit harder, and there were lots of bad times, but let me tell you, I would have to say that the past quarter century--since I met and started dating my future wife--have been my happiest years as an adult, bar none.

And my kids … yes, they do give you gray hairs--not for me, since I lost the hair on my head years ago, but I think you get what I mean--but they also keep you young, and they are the living legacy of who you were, and who you are.

I am proud of both of them, and I know their futures are good ones.

And my parents … I got lucky, and I mean, really lucky.

My parents are my bedrock, they have helped me out of many situations, and yes, I think I probably taught them a thing or two over the years, as did my sister (seen in my bar mitzvah photo further up in this Rant).

But they taught my sister and I far, far more than we could ever teach them.

They taught us to be human beings, they taught us that family always come first, and they taught us that while life isn't often easy, there is never any reason to give up hope.

They are the youngest octogenarians I have ever known, and I am sure they will retain their sprite, youthful attitude for many, many years to come.

And back to my wife … honestly, I never thought I would ever get married again after my first episode, but my wife is probably the greatest person I have ever known. And I truly mean that. She is everything I ever wanted, and ever could have dreamed of.

Heck, sure, I got lucky with my parents, but with my wife, I got even luckier!

What a great lady she is.

So 60 years have come and gone, seemingly so quickly.

The world I was born into in 1957 is so different today, but I look at myself as sort of the glue that holds that world together, a good mix of the old and the new and yes, maybe even the future.

I do believe in myself, my family, my country and my world.

And yes, I do feel like I am the luckiest man on the face of the earth as I look at my past, present and future.

This weekend, my wife and son are throwing me a birthday party at a local Italian restaurant. It is not going to be a huge gathering, just the people I feel closest to right now--my family and friends--and that is just how I want it.

It should be fun.

I guess you are wondering about why this post was made at an altogether different time of day than my regular posting time, which is around 5 a.m. in the morning or so.

Today, I have taken the day off from work so I can fully appreciate my special day. I haven't taken my actual birthday off in a number of years--some of the past April 28s were actually on the weekend--so I figured that this year I would, and my wife is also home as she took the day off, too, so it makes everything all the more happy for me!

Thus, there are no 4 a.m. wakeup calls for me today.

So happy 60 to me, and I will speak to you again on Monday as I enter my 61st year.

Have a good weekend. I know that I will!

Classic Rant #547 (July 18, 2011): Old Friends

I had my second annual--and final--reunion barbecue for my old neighborhood this past Saturday.

What a difference from the previous year's gala. This year, the sun was shining all day, it was hot as could be in the 90s, and people actually had to go inside because it was too hot.

But I worked my tuckus off, as they say, as did my wife and my parents.

There were probably 40 some odd people there, about what we had last year. I thought we were going to have 60, but several people cancelled at the last minute.

Highlights included that one of my best friends from the old neighborhood showed up with his wife, and supplied about the nicest cake you'd ever want to see--and it tasted really good too.

Another highlight was that my next door neighbor from the old neighborhood showed up with her husband. I had not seen her for 43 years--and the funny thing is, she is still my next door neighbor, because she lives with her family in the next town over.

What a small world this is!

As I have said many times, Rochdale Village was an incredible place to grow up in the mid 1960s. It is the place where I went from a virtual baby, at seven years old, to a teenager, at 14 years old.

I saw things and did things that many people my age never experienced.

Yes, it was both good and bad, and bad and good, but the people made the place when we first moved in in July 1964, and they still do.

This is the last such barbecue I am going to hold because, quite frankly, the barbecues have served their purpose. I pass the baton to someone else, if anyone wants it.

Rochdale Village will celebrate its 50th birthday in late 2013. It opened just prior to the JFK assassination, although most original residents moved in between 1964 and 1965.

The place has already been celebrated in a book by noted historian Peter Eisenstadt, and it needs a proper party to celebrate this upcoming milestone.

Whether I and the people I had over at my house for this barbecue will participate is something we will have to ponder for the next few years, but I had fun as the host for these two barbecues.

Onward and upward!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Rant #1,892: Shakin' All Over

I have warned everyone about the ills of Facebook, how it is the current Wild, Wild West, and how one should protect themselves from what goes on there, since it really isn't policed very well by Mark Zuckerberg and his minions.

OK, that remains true, but every once in a while, I can smile at what I see on the social network, and such was the case yesterday, in a post that is circulating, in one form or another, throughout Facebook.

I don't know who came up with this, but it really is a mindless diversion, goes in one ear and out the other, and is fun.

List 10 possible concert performers that you have seen at one time or another in your life, but make up one of those, and ask the Facebook nation to choose which one of the 10 you have not seen in concert.

Yes, simple as that.

I read about a dozen of these posts yesterday, and yes, it is mindless, for sure.

But during a difficult day--on top of being on your guard on Facebook all the time--it really is a true, mindless diversion.

Here is what I put up, and let's see if you can guess who I didn't see in concert from these 10:

1) Cheap Trick
2) Alice Cooper
3) Temptations
4) Willie Tyler and Lester
5) Gladys Knight and the Pips
6) Lulu
7) Monkees
8) Jay and the Americans
9) Diana Ross and the Supremes
10) Liza Minnelli

I figured that that was a really good list, one that would get whoever wanted to participate thinking.

Of course, regular readers of this column should know about the wild cards of this thing, namely Willie Tyler and Lester and Lulu.

Just to reiterate, I saw Willie Tyler and Lester a few years before they became "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" regulars, at the Westbury Music Fair during an afternoon concert also featuring Gladys Knight and the Pips and the Temptations.

It was back in 1969. and stands as the absolute hottest show I ever saw.

It was a trip that we went to in Rochdale Village Day Camp, the Temps' "Cloud Nine" was climbing up the charts, and people were dancing in the aisles throughout this concert.

As for Lulu, it was my first concert, at Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey, and while she wasn't on for very long, I do vividly remember that concert, which took place in 1966 or so.

The others I have seen through the years, including Liza, who I have seen probably a dozen times or more with my wife, who is a huge fan of the July Garland/Liza Minnelli/Lorna Luft axis.

Goodness, I have seen the Monkees in one form or another in concert heaven knows how many times, and I have seen Jay Black numerous times, too, but back when he could also legally use the "and the Americans" as part of his monicker.

Cheap Trick and Alice Cooper I saw on a double bill probably 10 years ago near where one of my brother-in-laws live way out in Suffolk County. It was an outdoor concert, I went with my son, we had eighth row tickets, and it was absolutely the loudest concert I have ever attended. My ears are still ringing from it!

So that leaves Diana Ross and the Supremes, and unfortunately, I never got to see them perform, so they are the answer to the question.

And you know what? Someone got it right away.

I mentioned to her that she must have read all that I have said about seeing the other acts right here and also on Facebook, and she said no, she just figured out that it must be Diana Ross and company, but she could not explain why.

I thought I really had a good one, but I guess, at least for her, that it was too obvious.

Yes, it was a nice diversion during a cold, kind of rainy April day, and I am sure that I will read others' takes on this today and into the weekend.

I can probably come up with another list if I like, but I think I will hold off, at least for now.

How about you? Can you make up such a list yourself?

Let me tell you, it is better--and much more fun--than putting up the usual political diatribe.

I think the reason that someone created this thing--and it clicked with so many people--is that so many of us are sick and tired of such nonsense.

I know that I am--but I reserve the right to go back to that nonsense if I want to or feel the need to.

But going back to the other thing, did I ever see the Turtles in concert? How about Herman's Hermits? What about the aforementioned Lorna Luft?

Judy Garland anyone?

Classic Rant #546 (July 14, 2011): Let's Live For Yesterday

Let's go back to 1968 or so.

You turn on your radio, and you hear the latest hits of the day. Everyone knows these tunes, and probably eight out of every 10 people on the street can tell you the No. 1 song in the country.

You go from AM Top 40 station to AM Top 40 station, and you hear an incredible mix of music, including Frank Sinatra, the Temptations, Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Beatles, the Monkees, Otis Redding, and Dean Martin.

Incredible. Something for everyone.

And you also heard the Grass Roots.

You heard songs like "Midnight Confessions," "Let's Live For Today," "Bella Linda," "The River Is Wide" ... I could go on and on and on.

And when you heard the Grass Roots--and you would at least twice every hour into the early 1970s--you heard the voice of Rob Grill, the group's lead singer.

Grill, one of the most recognized/unrecognized voices during that era, died the other day. He had been ill with various ailments for the last several years.

The Grass Roots had a sound, and Grill's voice generally propelled that sound. But ask the guy on the street who Rob Grill was during that time period, and I am sure that those same eight out of 10 people who knew what the No. 1 song was hadn't a clue who Grill was.

The Grass Roots started out in the mid 1960s as a studio band that was going to be used to record the work of a number of songwriters, including Steve Barri. When "Where Were You When I Needed You" hit, the thought was that a touring band was needed to keep the momentum going.

A band of young, nice looking musicians was recruited from various working bands in the Los Angeles area, and Grill was among those chosen for this band.

So although he wasn't on the first set of recordings made by the Grass Roots, for all intents and purposes, Grill defined the Grass Roots sound: light and breezy pop with hooks the size of the Grand Canyon.

The band never had a No. 1 hit--"Midnight Confessions" got up to No. 5--but from about 1965 to 1972 or so, they had nearly two dozen singles make the Hot 100.

The aforementioned tunes were among their biggest hits, but their sound really didn't change during this period. "Two Divided By Love" and "The Runway" could have easily come out in 1967, and not in the 1970s as they did.

By the mid-1970s, music had changed, and most of the members of the band had left, but Grill soldiered on. He eventually had a solo album, "Uprooted," which is quite sought after, because it features Grill and just about every member of Fleetwood Mac on it. It had one song, "Rock Sugar," that you would swear was from the Grass Roots' own catalog.

Grill kept different versions of the band intact through the present time, but due to many ailments, he often didn't appear with the band at all.

Now he is gone.

The Grass Roots still live on as a touring band, and Creed Bratton has received some modicum of fame away from the band with his appearances on "The Office."

But the Grass Roots were a hit machine, and Grill was its engine.


I will be taking tomorrow off to deal with some very minor medical issues, but I will be back strong on Monday. Speak to you then.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Rant #1,891: Dead Man's Curve

I read the newspaper each and every day.

I guess I am old fashioned, not getting my news from online sources, but to me, there is nothing like sitting down in the morning and reading my morning newspaper.

And as many people do, I read the paper somewhat in reverse, beginning with the sports section.

Heck, years ago, President Gerald Ford, an avid sportsman, admitted that even as our President, he read the sports section of the newspaper first.

If it was good enough for him, it is good enough for me.

And as I pore through the sports section first, the next section I look over is the Obituaries.

I have always been fascinated by this page, and while I don't always read all the obituaries on the page, I at least look it over on a daily basis to see the famous, the somewhat famous, and the everyday people who have left us.

The past few weeks have given us a good collection of obituaries. We have had the famous--Don Rickles--the somewhat famous--Erin Moran--and a whole slew of others memorialized in these pages.

Yesterday was a good example of "the whole slew of others" group.

Robert Pirsig, who wrote the philosophical classic, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," passed away at 88 years of age.

James Long, a jockey who won more than 300 races, left us at age 62.

Finally, neuroscientist Jack Panskepp, who helped reveal the emotional lives of animals, left this earth at age 73.

I am sure that for some people, those were momentous losses--sure, for their families, but I am sure for others too--but for me, personally, I took a glance at these three obits that were on the page and moved on to other news.

Nobody there really interested me enough to read their obits, but today is another day.

And no, I don't think that my interest in this page is some type of morbid curiosity.

Some people touch us in different ways, and these three people didn't touch me at all, so I moved on.

Sometimes, I do read an obit of somebody I have never heard of, because while glancing through their stories, something hits me, and I read on.

Yesterday, no one's story really touched me at all, so I left the page pretty quickly.

Today might just be a different story.

And I think that that is the thing about the obituary page.

Every day is a different story. People leave us that have made their marks on this planet, and some have interesting stories, others don't, and it is up to the person reading it to judge whether there is any interest or not.

No one lives forever, we are all destined to leave this earth, some sooner than others, and this section of the newspaper illustrates that fact each and every day.

It really isn't one of those things like "Who is going to die today?" but if they had any notoriety at all, made any mark on the world we live in, their lives, and their passings, will be chronicled on the Obituary page.

Who will be featured on that page today?

When I am done writing up this Rant, I will get my morning newspaper, read the sports section first, and then find out.

Classic Rant #545 (July 13, 2011): Gilligan ... and Sherwood Too

One of pop culture's most creative geniuses passed away the other day.

Sherwood Schwartz, the creator of both "Gilligan's Island" and "The Brady Bunch," passed away at age 94.

He began his career as a writer for Bob Hope and Red Skelton in the 1940s, but he rose to fame in the 1960s with those two shows, which became cultural landmarks for the Baby Boom generation.

What is even more incredible is that he sold these shows to CBS and ABC, respectively, through the theme songs that were at the beginning of each show.

Schwartz often said that he told the story of the show within these themes. Listed as a co-writer on both, the songs are among the best known TV theme songs of all time, simple but getting the point across:

"Just sit right back and you'll hear a tail ... " and "Here's the story of a lovely lady...".

Each of these shows were lambasted by critics, each wasn't a ratings winner, but the public loved the utopian aspects of each show, whether it showed a shipwrecked utopia on "Gilligan" or a family utopia on "Brady."

Things like this couldn't actually happen in real life ... or could they?

Through countless reruns and spin-offs, both of these shows are probably among the most popular in TV history, because they evoke a time and a place that we can all relate to in some way.

In other words, with the permissiveness of today's TV, they couldn't exist, or at least they couldn't exist in the format that Schwartz had in mind when he launched both shows.

People forget his other major network show. It was on CBS on Sunday nights around the time that "Gilligan's Island" was cancelled, and it didn't last very long, ultimately being too clever for its own good.

"It's About Time" was about two astronauts who somehow break the time barrier and land in the caveman age, where they meet up with two cavemen--Imogene Coca and Joe E. Ross (!) who take them under their wing.

Again, the theme of the blended family took hold here.

During the first half of the show's only season, the astronauts tried in vain to get back to their own time, 1967 or so. During the second part of this season, they made it back, but Coca and Ross were stowaways, and the situation was reversed, with the astronauts trying to show the cavemen the modern way of life.

The song had a catchy theme song that once again described the show's theme ("It's about time, it's about space ... ") but it just didn't resonate with anyone, and after a year, it was off the air.

Few remember this show, as it hasn't been rerun in years, and it hasn't been on DVD, although you can get bootlegs for a hefty price.

But through it all, Schwartz persevered. He kept his "family" theme intact for his next blended family, and the "The Brady Bunch" was born.

Here's to Sherwood Schwartz, who truly enriched our lives with his clear vision of entertainment that people wanted, even if the critics didn't like it.

To Schwartz, it really didn't matter what the critics said. The viewing public had a louder voice, and he knew it better than anyone.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Rant #1,890: Spin Me Around (Like a Record)

And Saturday came, and it was Record Store Day ...

Yes, as I had mentioned in an earlier Rant, Record Store Day was this past Saturday, the 10th such observance, where we celebrate both these stores and the creativity of the artists whose work can be found in these main street venues.

And if what I saw was any indication, the day was a complete success.

The store I went to was opening at 9 a.m., so I left to go there around 8:30 a.m. When I got there, there were probably about 20 people ahead of me waiting on line, and during the next half hour, at least 20 more people joined the line after me.

It was drizzling, but it did not dampen the enthusiasm we all had about the day, and artists' records--yes, vinyl--that we wanted to get into our collections.

Early admission to this particular store was possible for a $5 donation, which the store would give to charity--so we all held our $5 bills in our hand and waited for 9 a.m. to come.

There was a mix of people on the line, hipsters and oldsters like me, but today we joined together for one reason--to add music to our collections by shopping our local record store, a part of our local main streets that had all but faded away, but have seen a bit of a resurgence tied into the newfound popularity of vinyl records.

Nine a.m. finally came, and the store allowed one or two people to go in at a time, so as to not crowd the venue up too much and give people time to browse.

Finally, at about 9:30 a.m., I got in, and while I wasn't really looking for anything specific this year, I had a few things in mind.

I saw the list on the Internet of Record Store Day releases, and my appetite was whetted by releases from the Zombies and Cheap Trick, so I immediately went for those, found what I wanted, looked around a little bit more, and within about 15 minutes or so, I was in and out of the store with my purchases, which I have since digitized and listened to.

My one knock against the day is that prices of these items have skyrocketed, and the three items I purchased cost me plenty of money. I have no problem spending my hard-earned cash on this stuff, but frankly, I paid way too much for what I bought. A wad of cash should not be a prerequisite to participation, but that is what it has come down to at this point in time.

Whatever the case, I bought some really nice stuff that I am happy with, and I look forward to Record Store Days in the future, as well as the next big record store day, Black Friday in November, where there will be other special releases to whet record collectors' appetites.

And in between, don't forget to shop your own local record stores, and your own main store downtowns. These stores offer things you just cannot get in the big box stores, and they make our communities unique.

See you at the record store sometime down the line!

Classic Rant #544 (July 12, 2011): Long Island Beachcombers

As part of the Nassau Coliseum plan on Long Island is a proposed minor league ballpark, which is as controversial a part of this plan as the rebuilding of the Coliseum is.

When the special vote for the overall $400 million project--including the $25 million baseball stadium--is held for this project on August 1, Nassau residents may not know details of a revenue sharing deal for the new ballpark.

Frank Boulton, the owner of the local Long Island Atlantic League team, the Ducks, has an attractive revenue sharing plan with neighboring Suffolk County, where the Ducks pay the county $1 per ticket and 25 percent of skybox revenue.

For non-Ducks events, the county gets 20 percent of gross concession revenue.

Boulton won out over the Mets and a local developer, and will have another team in this league, which is an independent minor league which plays roughly Double-A baseball.

The Ducks have been a major success in their 6,000-seat stadium in Suffolk County, and the hope is that Nassau residents will embrace the team as their nearby counterparts have.

But the first hurdle must be scaled. Nassau residents will decide whether to go ahead with this or trash it before it gets to the table.

The problem is the critics of the overall plan believe that borrowing more money during the recession--and putting the payback on the heads of already cash-strapped taxpayers--is not the way to go.

Proponents of the plan say that taxpayers may have to pay up front, but will receive a windfall later.

Who do you believe?

I believe that although the current plan isn't the best, it is better than the alternative, which includes losing the Islanders from the Nassau Coliseum, losing revenue from an area that will become full of blight once they leave and the current Coliseum falls into further disarray, and having an area that is completely underutilized in one of the most prosperous areas of the country.

I will vote "Yes" on my ballot, even though lots of questions remain.

And by the way, names have already been suggested for the proposed baseball team.

In Newsday today, several names have been suggested, including the Sounds, the Suburbans, the Beachcombers and the Expressway.

Those were names that I emailed to Newsday, and they are attached to a story about the proposed new ballpark.

Other names posted include the Teddy Bears, the Sharks, and the Railroaders.

I like my choices better.

I hope that Nassau County residents like the project proposal, and vote "YES" on August 1.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Rant #1,889: Only the Strong Survive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But it actually happened!

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

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

And he did.

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And they did it this time too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And one day, my search will be fruitful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, the only one.

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

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

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

And it is a huge one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Rant #1,887: Rainbow Connection

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

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

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

It is simply not me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I guess.

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

Since we are in the birthday mood ...

Ringo Starr is 71 today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Richard Starkey is 71. Unbelievable, but true.

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

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

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Rant #1,886: Bits and Pieces

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

Here goes ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let's see how the day plays out.

4) Job Situation Update:

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

Speak to you again tomorrow.

Classic Rant #540 (July 6, 2011): Robin at 66

Now that the bikini turned 65 yesterday, another pop icon celebrates a birthday today.

Burt Ward turns 66.

I know that some younger people who stroll by here are probably asking, "Who is Burt Ward?", but for a generation of kids, Burt Ward is something of an icon.

As a young kid, the former Bert Gervis Jr. was billed as the world's youngest professional ice skater. As he grew older, he excelled at many sports, but at age 20, his life changed forever.

He was cast as Robin on the Batman TV series.

Sixty-six is a lucky number for Ward, who changed his name at the behest of the producers, who believed the name Gervis would be difficult for people to pronounce. In 1966, the show began its two and a half year run, and one of the great TV phenomenons began.

From 1966 through 1968, seemingly everything was Batman oriented. You could get Batman belts, wallets, utility belts, looseleaf binders ... you name it, and the comic book character/TV superstar was on it. It was as if the world went Bat-crazy, and evidently it did.

Ward actually played two parts: Robin and the amiable Dick Grayson, high school student, who was the ward of Bruce Wayne, the alter-ego of Batman, played up to the hilt by Adam West.

Both West and Ward embraced their roles, and they will forever be remembered as TV's Dynamic Duo. Some, including me, say that the two are the best of all the Batmans and Robins that have been on TV and in the movies.

They got the roles. Some of the others, well, I don't think they understood the roles at all.

After the run of the show, Ward continued to act, and has been seen in a number of films, including a few where his link to the Robin character was the main drawing point. He has appeared with West in a number of films, TV shows, and fan conventions. The two are inextricably linked.

Although it is doubtful if he could fit into his old Robin outfit anymore, Ward has taken on a new cause. He is an animal rights activist.

So happy birthday, Burt. You will forever be Robin to us baby boomers.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Rant #1,885: My Head, My Bed and My Headache At Work

I woke up in the middle of the night with a headache, and even with some more sleep, I still have my headache.

My eyes are very watery today, and my nose is running like an open faucet.

Yes, we are right in the middle of allergy season, and the crazy weather we have had this year is greatly affecting myself and millions of others who suffer from allergies, seasonal or otherwise.

We have been on a roller coaster ride of weather, going from the 80s to the 50s over the course of 24 to 48 hours or so.

Heck it was so warm on Sunday that I really wanted to break out the shorts, but even thought I didn't, I really could have.

And yesterday, it was so warm at work that the back of my shirt was damp with sweat. And that is with my brand new fan circulating the air in a vain attempt to keep me cool.

The pollen count is very high, and it has been high because we had such a relatively warm winter. Things bloomed way earlier than they should have, releasing things into the air that my body cannot tolerate.

Consequently, I have been suffering from allergy symptoms for weeks, and today, it is really bad.

And yes, I did take aspirin for my headache, but thus far, it hasn't helped a bit.

I think the extra tension that I am under at work adds to this mess, to be honest with you.

And no, although I continue to send out resumes and contact companies about employment, I have come up with an empty zero, nothing at all, not even a look-see, for my efforts.

So with all of this turmoil, the weather mixing with the stress that I have really has amounted to a lot of allergy problems for me.

And yes, I still get my allergy shots regularly--I have been doing this continually since I was 15 years old--and they have helped me, but as they say, 'tis the season, so they can't help that much.

But I will survive all of this.

As I near my 60th year on this planet, I look at everything and know that things could be worse.

They always have to get worse before they can get better, and whether I am talking about my allergies or my job situation, I guess I have yet to hit rock bottom in either area, so although the worst is yet to come, the best should be right around the corner.

Or at least I have to think that.

Right now, I am suffering.

Get me a tissue! Get me a new job!

It's all the same thing, isn't it?

Classic Rant #539 (July 5, 2011): Bikini Atoll

Now that we are clearly in the summer mood with July 4 behind us, I must bring up a very important historical footnote for today's history lesson.

In 1946, 65 years ago, the bikini, created by Louis Reard, was worn by model Micheline Bernardini during a pool side fashion show in Paris, France.

Today, that might not cause much of a whimper, but think back to that time, and how revolutionary the debut of this type of bathing suit was.

It was right after the World War II, a war that devastated Europe. What better way to bounce back, literally, than to create a swimsuit that would change the way women wore such suits--and would simultaneously change the way men looked at women on the beach?

The story goes that Reard could not find a model to wear such a scandalous outfit, so he asked a nude dancer, Bernardini, to do the honors, she did, and the rest is history.

Prior to this event, women's bathing suits were one-piece outfits. Most showed off the figure well, but they kind of looked like corsets. I would imagine that they were uncomfortable.

And they didn't allow for much tanning.

But now came something revolutionary and new. They showed off a women's figure even more, and I would imagine that they were much more comfortable than the previous one-piece suits. And they allowed for a more all-over tan too.

Over the past 65 years, there have been all different types of bikinis. Some barely show off a woman's figure at all, but some leave little to the imagination.

They also had an impact on one-piece suits, which today, often show off as much of a woman's figure as the two-piece suits do.

Although it took a while before American women accepted this type of swimwear, they have become as much a part of pop culture as any piece of fashion. Think back to Brian Hyland's hit record "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" for evidence of that, a song that opened up American's eyes about this scandalous outfit.

Also, Annette Funicello appearing in all those "beach movies" probably had a lot to do with Americans' acceptance of this type of swimsuit. Funicello often didn't appear in a bikini--she was so buxom that it was felt it would take away from the other girls in these films, who often wore bikinis--but those films allowed the youth culture to embrace this type of swimwear.

So, I tip my hat to Mr. Reard for creating such a piece of swimwear, and certainly to Ms. Bernardini, who had the guts to wear such an outfit in public.

Here's to the bikini as it reaches Social Security age. What would the world be without such an invention?

(Spoken like the true male chauvinist pig that I am!)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Rant #1,884: No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach's In)

How was your Easter weekend?

I did pretty much what I said I was going to do, which was to do pretty much absolutely, positively nothing.

My wife and I went food shopping on Saturday, I watched baseball on both Saturday and Sunday, and I basically decompressed from a rough workweek and prepared for another five days of horror starting today.

And for the first time in the past four years or so, I do have "matzoh stomach," an affliction that one can get when they eat too much matzoh during Passover and it kinds of builds up in your system.

Last week, I was really suffering. It felt like I had a bowling ball in my stomach, with no way to relieve the pressure ... and the grinding noises coming from my stomach were loud enough to keep me awake at night.

Without getting graphic, that is the only way I can describe the feeling, but yes, I had it, and still have it to a degree.

It is getting better--I guess my body is getting used to the matzoh at this late point in the holiday, a celebration which ends at sunset tomorrow--but I had it, and I don't know why I had it this time around, what I did differently this year as compared to other recent years when I did not suffer.

Personally, I think that I am under a lot more stress this year, and I think that that added to the discomfort, but as we speak, I am managing, and it really doesn't bother me anymore.

What does bother me--and here is my segueway to something completely different--is the way the media, including the local New York media, is covering the Yankees, currently owner of a seven-game winning streak.

Yes, it is early in the season, and this could all be false bravado way to early in this young season, but the Yankees are the hottest team in baseball--but if you watch local TV in New York, and if you watched the game last night on ESPN, well, the Yankees are ho hum.

The Mets were supposed to run away with their division, and be likely World Series participants this year, and that may just happen. But with poor situational hitting, the team from my old borough of Queens isn't really playing well, having lost three of four to the Marlins this weekend.

With the Yankees winning seven in a row, you would think the local sports broadcasters would at the very least mention them in their broadcasts during local newscasts, but I counted at least two local newscasts--on CBS and ABC--where they weren't even given a mention yesterday.

Sure, playoff hockey is on tap in New York with the Rangers in the playoff chase, but the Mets were the top story, not the Rangers ... and where did the Yankees fit into all of this?

Evidently, not.

And on the ESPN broadcast last night, the Yankees-Cardinals game was simply the backdrop for the announcers' shilling for the World Baseball Classic, which really isn't important at all, and something that few really care about--unless one of their players gets hurt in it, including the Yankees' shortstop, Didi Gregorious, who got hurt in the WBC this year and hasn't played an MLB game on the field yet this season.

And what was with that extended, all in Spanish interview with Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina right in the middle of the game yesterday?

That was as misplaced as an interview can be, and to not have it in English, and to have it run so long with subtitles, just goes to show how low MLB and ESPN will go to be PC correct.

And let me remind the announcers that Molina did not "play for his country" during the WBC, as Puerto Rico is part of the United States, and has been for quite a while since the last time I looked.

And that begs the question, why does Puerto Rico have its own teams during the WBC and the Olympics, for that matter, when Puerto Rico is part of the United States, yes, not as state, but nonetheless, part of our country?

Ah yes, the matzoh stomach has gotten to me during this almost completed Passover holiday, and I will knock down anything in my path to get past it.

And there's more matzoh today and tomorrow.

I just started a new box yesterday.

Classic Rant #538 (July 1, 2011): Oh, the Pain!

You know it is a slow week news-wise when the Octomom pops up in conversation.

It seems that Nadya Suleman, who has 14 children and garnered fame and a lot of criticism for birthing eight kids in one sitting, has told In Touch magazine that her babies "disgust" her.

Suleman, who is single and has teetered on financial ruin since giving birth to her large brood, told the magazine that the only way she can cope is to lock herself in the bathroom and cry.

She also called her older six kids "animals" and she said they have gotten that way because she has "no time to properly discipline them."

OK. Let me shed a tear for her plight.

I am sure Suleman was paid for the interview--why else wouid she do it--but to go off on her kids, well if I were a higher authority, I would see whether these kids are being cared for at all.

It is obvious that the woman has mental problems linked to her need to give birth to human beings like animals give birth to their broods. That is not a knock against animals, but let's face it, human beings usually don't give birth to eight kids at one time.

She has major financial problems, although she has been paid off for her story by various sources.

But back to what she said. If you call your kids "animals" and you say they "disgust" you, don't you think that some action should be taken by whatever state she lives in--is it California?-- to make sure these kids are being taken care of and not being neglected or abused?

Suleman became a punch line when she was artificially inseminated by a doctor who has since had his medical license taken away. Once the press heard about this incident, they had a field day with it. She became an instant celebrity, the wrong type of celebrity, becoming famous because she was able to satisfy her mental illness by having kids.

Now, with this rant, I think the authorities should look into whether her kids are getting the care they need.

She is probably overwhelmed. Once the cameras left and people forgot about her, she was burdened to take care of 14 kids alone.

Heck, she can't even take care of herself.

I shudder to think about the future of these children. Will they be taken away from their mother? How will they become responsible adults when they have a mother like this?

Who knows, but in the meantime, I would investigate how these kids are being taken care of, if at all.

The rants she made to the magazine are obvious calls for help.

While we ponder this story, have a nice July 4. I will speak to you again on Tuesday.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Rant #1,883: Holiday Road

Today is Good Friday, one of the holiest days on the Christian calendar, and it is followed by Easter Sunday, another day of reverence.

These days are sacred, and holy, and I do understand their importance, even as a Jew.

And as a Jews, I understand how Passover and Easter are interwoven in time, place, occurrence and importance.

But being that I am Jewish, this weekend is simply another weekend to me.

What do Jews do on Easter?

Pretty much the same thing we do on Christmas.

As the perpetual outsiders looking in, we do what we pretty much normally do on the weekend, at least during the present time.

It wasn't always like that, though.

I do remember the time, which probably ended about 20 years ago, where Jews pretty much did nothing on Easter Sunday, simply because there wasn't very much to do.

Few stores were open, movie theaters were closed, and probably one of the few things that you could do was attend a baseball game or watch the game at home.

There were a few restaurants open, but pretty much only those that catered to those who ate out with their families on Easter Sunday.

Much like how Christmas day was, retailers, restaurateurs and others gave their employees off to be with their families.

However, starting about 20 years ago, that thinking changed.

There is money to be made on Easter Sunday, and many stores and restaurants are open.

Movie theaters are also open, and quite frankly, for non-Christians, Easter Sunday really is just another Sunday, and we can pretty much do what we normally do on a Sunday on that day.

I am not going to get into whether that is right or wrong here, just that the world has changed over time.

This is actually a great time of year. Christians are celebrating Easter, while Jews continue the Passover celebration, which ends Tuesday at sunset.

The two holidays are both solid family get-togethers, and that makes them special in and of themselves.

So happy Easter to all, and have a good weekend. I will speak to you again on Monday.

Classic Rant #537 (June 30, 2011): Slow Day

Yes, it's another slow day as far as news is concerned.

The heat is picking up in the Northeast, and I am sure that no matter where you are in the U.S., you are looking forward to July 4 and the long weekend that accompanies that holiday.

I know that I am.

And on Sunday, as I have for the past few months, I will be recording--and watching later--the morning fare on something called Antenna TV.

Antenna TV was created by WGN, and it is parceled out to its Tribune Broadcast Company affiliates, including WPIX in New York. It is one of those stations that exists near where you get your regular channels, in that area in between the regular channels in our HDTV universe.

For me, I get it because I have Verizon FiOS.

The idea for such a channel--one that shows only reruns of classic and many forgotten TV shows and movies--began when a few years ago on Saturday nights, WGN showed a block of oldies programming, mainly former CBS shows like "The Bob Newhart Show." The two-hour broadcast of these shows received good ratings, so the thought was, why not create an entire network around these shows?

And with the burgeoning HDTV boom, there was finally room for such a niche station.

It took some time, but Antenna TV sprung up a few months ago. Sure, it shows the same stuff you can get on TV Land like "All in the Family" and "Sanford and Son," but on Sunday mornings into early afternoon, it really shines.

This is the time when it dredges from TV heaven a number of shows that haven't been seen on TV in years. Such shows as "Circus Boy" (with the adolescent future Monkee Micky Dolenz, known then as Micky Braddock); "Rin Tin Tin," "Here Comes the Brides" (with Bobby Sherman and David Soul), "Gidget" and the "Flying Nun" (Sally Field's stepping stones to stardom) are shown.

Later in the day, "The Monkees" and the horrid "The Partridge Family" are shown.

Yes, the shows are heavily edited, and often roughly cut. "Rin Tin Tin," a guilty pleasure from my childhood, is really ripped to shreds, with obvious editing, dubbed-in speech at times, and new, tacked on background music and end credits, but at least it is being shown again.

And the Sunday programming doesn't trump the weekly and Saturday programming, where they show many classic favorites like the aforementioned "All in the Family" and "Sanford and Son," as well as "Good Times" and "Maude" (with the ever luscious Adrienne Barbeau).

And on Saturday, they have major blocks of cartoons, many of which haven't been shown on TV in decades.

You can't get Antenna TV everywhere; check your local cable and satellite listings to see if it is running in your area.

If you are not attached to satellite or cable, you should be able to get it if it runs in your area just after its affiliate. In other words, in New York, Antenna TV can be found at 11.4, or just right after WPIX at Channel 11.

I hope you can get it, because it makes Sunday--and during the week and Saturday--much more fun, especially during the summer months.

Visit its homepage at to find out more about this channel.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Rant #1,882: Nothing From Nothing

Today is April 13, the 103rd day of the year.

It is also Holy Thursday, the day before Good Friday, leading up to Easter Sunday this weekend.

Yes, and I will see you tomorrow, same Bat Place, same Bat Time.

Sometimes, I wake up in the morning and know exactly what I am going to write about.

Other times, as I am eating my breakfast, I formulate my writing plan, and figure out exactly what I am going to Rant about for the day.

Other days, I am at a real loss to talk about anything, and today is one of those days.

There are things to talk about, but nothing in great length.

That passenger on the United Airlines plane who was dragged off the plane because he would not give up this seat ... typical Internet hysteria reporting about half the story.

The doctor--who was suspended for several years for inappropriate conduct--evidently did cause a ruckus on the plane he was asked to get off of, and yes, those dragging him off the plane used a bit too much force, but again, his behavior was holding up the flight of dozens of people.

He is being portrayed as a victim, because a cellphone video showed him being brutalized. Yet the back story, which the Internet has been slow to report, shows that this guy has had issues in the past, and was not being cooperative in this case ... so who is the real victim here?

And then we have White House Spokesman Sean Spicer, who had trouble comparing Syrian leader Assad and Adolph Hitler because "Hitler didn't use chemical weapons against his own people."

I guess he doesn't consider the gas chambers used during the Holocaust as "chemical weapons being used against his own people."

Sure, it reflects poorly on our President, and sure, others will pick up on it as revisionist history, as sort of a Holocaust denial.

If I were Spicer, I would resign. Yes, he did say a really stupid thing, and yes, he offended lots of people.

What else is going on in this wild world we live in?

The NBA season mercifully ended for the two New York basketball teams yesterday night, the Knicks actually pulling off a win and the Nets not fielding their full team and thus, the loss that they achieved was inevitable.

Combine the two teams together, and they have less total wins than a few NBA teams had on their own.

The Knicks and Nets are, currently, bottom-feeder franchises, and it was difficult to watch the two play out their games this season, a season that couldn't end quick enough for either team.

Now that that is over, my attention turns to baseball, and all I can say is "Here Comes the Judge."

Yankee rookie outfielder Aaron Judge has picked up the slack caused by the injuries to other players on the team and led the Bronx Bombers to another home victory yesterday.

Right now, Judge looks like the real deal, a 6 foot 7 inch belter that has the world at his fingertips.

The funny thing is that this player was a questionable major leaguer during spring training, changed many minds with a fine spring, and it now has carried over to the early regular season.

Can he keep it going? Only time will tell.

There, I have written about a couple of subject in a column that I had previously no idea how to handle.

That also happens sometimes, you just put fingers to the keyboards and somehow, before you know it, you are on your way ... sort of a train of thought column, just typing whatever is coming out of my head, truly off the top writing.

Heck, maybe it is even stream of consciousness writing, I simply don't know.

See you tomorrow, hopefully with a better game plan than I had today.

Classic Rant #536 (June 29, 2011): Brady Bed Bugs

Yes, it is the middle of summer, and yes, it appears, at least right now, to be a very slow news day.

Not much to talk about ...

Unless you are Florence Henderson, erstwhile actress who will forever be known as the mother of the Brady brood on "The Brady Bunch" TV show.

In order to sell her memoir, "Life Is Not a Stage," Henderson reveals that she had an affair in the late 1960s with then-New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay and subsequently picked up a sexually transmitted disease from him.

According to Henderson, she was cheating on her husband, and got cozy with Lindsay, who was cheating on his wife.

They did what they did, and after the brief affair, Henderson said she was shocked to wake up with "little black things" crawling over her bed and body.

What she had was pubic lice, also known as the crabs.

I guess this affair has given new meaning to the term "Fun City," as New York City was known by then, before it became "The Big Apple."

In the book, Henderson denies an affair with Brady Bunch co-star Barry Williams. She said something to the affect that she knew he had a crush on her, but it was never acted upon.

Henderson, now 77, also talks about her abusive childhood--doesn't it seem every actor grew up in an abusive household?--and the ups and downs of her long career.

Back to Lindsay: he can't defend himself, since he died several years ago, so I guess Henderson can say whatever she wants to say, without any retribution.

Lindsay was the mayor of New York City during its "Mod" era, when unions were set to strike at a moment's notice, and the city literally was on the precipice of disaster. It never reached that point, but the policies set in place by his administration led to New York City's failures into the 1970s and beyond.

He was a good looking guy, but he was a horrid mayor, although he was quite popular with the populace, and evidently with the ladies too.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Rant #1,881: Pictures of You

Happy Passover, and it is good to be back.

Yesterday was something of a difficult day, and I am actually happy to be back here, and even happy to go to work today.

Yes, it was that kind of day yesterday.

But Passover continues, we had our second seder yesterday, and as I do every year, I carry the flame for my family during the holiday, as I am the only one who continues to follow the dietary laws related to this holiday.

I will continue to eat matzoh until Passover ends, at sunset on Tuesday.

It really isn't that big a deal.

I eat matzoh and cream cheese and matzoh and tuna fish each and every day for breakfast and lunch, respectively, and for dinner, it pretty much varies. Tonight, I am going to have eggs--which I rarely have like this for dinner--and at least one board of matzoh will be included in the meal.

Like I said, it really is no big deal.

What is a bigger deal is that on the first night of Passover, during the first seder, I actually saw my daughter, who I had not seen since Hanukkah, and who I have had little contact with over those four-plus months.

As I said in a previous column, this is how she wants it, for whatever reason, and I am not going to beat myself up anymore over her behavior.

But at least for one night, we were together as a family--my wife, my son, my daughter and myself--and it was really good to see my first born after so many months.

She looked good, she made some tantalizing cookies and cakes just for the occasion, and she seemed to be happy.

I was even lucky enough to snap a couple of photos of my son and daughter together,  the best of which I have attached to this Rant.

The next time I will see my daughter--or probably even speak to her--is during my birthday. My wife and son have set up a nice birthday party for me at a local restaurant for the end of this month, and everybody that I care about--both friends and family, mainly family--will be there. My daughter will be there, and I am happy about that.

It is something to look forward to, way after all the matzoh has been packed away for another year.

But right now, I have to concentrate on matzoh and not getting the dreaded "matzoh stomach," where your stomach feels as if you swallowed a battleship, with guns blazing.

If I can avoid that, then I will feel fine.

And again, I just love matzoh, and Passover is my favorite holiday, period, because like Thanksgiving, it is a family holiday, not one for gifts.

And although that is true, my gift during this most recent celebration was seeing my daughter again.

It just makes me believe that there is something to be happy about, after all.

Classic Rant #535 (June 28, 2011): "Amos 'N' Andy" Anniversary

Sixty years ago today, in 1951, a TV show debuted that would rankle many people to this day.

Today, the TV version of the successful “Amos ‘N Andy” radio show debuted on CBS.

“Amos ‘N Andy” had been a sensation on radio, portraying various stereotypical black characters in ways that made audiences gravitate to them. They were lazy and shifty, slow and surly, and awful funny.

And they were portrayed on radio by white men.

But you couldn’t get away with that on television, so black actors were the stars of the show. In fact, “Amos ‘N Andy” was the very first network TV show to feature an all black cast.

Although that was the case, the show was chastised by many for its racial stereotyping. It only lasted a few years on the air, and then faded off into TV heaven, although it was rerun into the mid 1960s, as I remember watching the show as a kid.

Several prominent blacks raked the show over the coals, especially as the civil rights movement heated up.

But others took a more levelheaded approach to the program. The late Flip Wilson once said something to the effect that yes, the program displayed blacks in a less than stellar manner, but the show should not be forgotten or banned or not shown, because it shows how far blacks had come, as well as how far they had to go.

And things have come pretty far. We have a black man leading this country as its President and commander in chief, and blacks have made inroads in just about every area, from politics to private business.

But how does “Amos ‘N Andy” figure in this movement? To some, they would say the show probably had no influence at all, as it showed racial stereotyping at its lowest level. To others, the show was a stepping stone to something better, the bridge to “Julia” and then to “The Jeffersons” and later to “The Cosby Show” and later, even to “Oprah.”

It took man millions of years to evolve, and it took decades for network TV to make blacks as ubiquitous as whites in its programming.

Whether “Amos ‘N Andy” was part of that TV evolution is up to your individual tastes. But as a kid, I found it to be a very funny program, and I doubt I even realized the stereotyping that was prevalent on this show.

So I vote with Flip Wilson; let’s not forget the show, let’s watch it and study it on DVD as an artifact of a time that was long ago, but not so long ago that it should be totally forgotten or dismissed.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Rant #1,880: Holiday

Tonight, at sunset, begins Passover, one of the most revered, and to me at least, fun holidays on the Jewish calendar.

It is a holiday that is all about family, has nothing to do with presents, and is an eight-day celebration of the Jewish heritage, going back centuries.

This is also the beginning of one of the holiest periods in the Christian calendar, what with Palm Sunday being yesterday, Good Friday coming up this Friday, and Easter Sunday being this coming Sunday.

Way back in 2010, on March 21, Rant No. 221 discussed this period pretty well, and here is what I had to say back then:

"This time of year is pretty special, as two of the most revered religious holidays come on top of each other.

Passover begins this evening and lasts for the next eight days. It signifies the Jews' flight out of Egypt, and its greatest symbol, matzoh, reflects the unleavened bread that the Jews ate in their flight. Seders are held tonight and tomorrow night, and religious Jews hold a final Seder on the final night.

Easter allows Christians to reflect on Jesus Christ and upon themselves. This is perhaps the most sacred holiday on the calendar for Christians, and it is preceded by Palm Sunday, yesterday, and Good Friday, coming up this week.

As a Jew, Passover for me is probably the best Jewish holiday on the calendar. Unlike Chanukah, where you are under pressure to buy gifts, on Passover, you aren't under pressure to do much of anything--unless you are cooking and/or preparing for the Seder-- but follow the fabled "Four Questions" and eat until you can't move. All kidding aside, following the Jews' flight from Egypt with the rest of your family is a great tradition that has been handed down from generation to generation, and my kids get a special kick out of this holiday, as I have for all these years.

I am sure the family gatherings that take place during Easter present the same introspection that the Passover Seder does.

So for everyone, happy holiday. I don't have much else to say, but for whatever holiday you follow, these coming days are to be cherished as we meet with our families to study our religious past, present, and future.

So to all, have a nice holiday."

Tomorrow, I am going to have to take a day off from this column, as I have some personal business to attend to, but I will be back on Wednesday in full force ... and hopefully without the dreaded "matzoh stomach!"

If you celebrate Passover, I hope your seders are good ones. Have a great holiday.

Speak to again on Wednesday.