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Friday, June 23, 2017

Rant #1,930 : Hot Fun In the Summertime

Yes, that is maybe my favorite song about the summer, from Sylvester Stewart and the Family Stone.

It conjures up such images in my head of days gone by that it is certainly in my personal top 100 songs, period.

And that leads me to this--

It is finally the summertime, and that means, it's vacation time, so this will be my last column for a while.

This year, my family is taking it a bit easier, so to speak, when we go on vacation.

This time around, we are not going on a cruise, and we are not going to Korea (but that wasn't a vacation, that was a trip, so it doesn't count).

We are going down south, so to speak, as these Yankees will be using I-95 and some other roads to move south for a few days.

We haven't had a vacation road trip in some time, and it is always fun to drive to different destinations out of your regular environs, so that is what we are going to do this time around.

One of our stops will be in Georgia, right outside of Atlanta, and we will be participating in some type of tour related to the TV show "The Walking Dead," which my wife is an absolutely huge fan of.

My son and I aren't into the show, but that doesn't mean we can't have fun going on the tour. I think there is a show-related restaurant that we will be visiting, and we have heard that show cast members often visit with tour goers, so it might be quite an interesting attraction to participate in.

We are also planning to go to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for a short time. My son has wanted to go there for a few years, and we were going to visit last year, but Korea came up, and we had to scotch that trip, but this year, he is finally going to get his wish.

All told, we are only going to be gone a few days leading up to and into the July 4 celebration, so we actually won't be gone that long this time around.

We are looking forward to rest, relaxation, fun and really, just unwinding from the norm. The past year has featured a lot of high ups and a lot of low downs, and heck, with my work situation, this could be the last real vacation I take for quite a while, so I am planning to enjoy myself, no matter what we do.

This will all lead up to what we hope will be a good summer, with ballgames and concerts still to come after the vacation is over.

And we still have the backyard pool, so we plan on enjoying that this summer too.

And no, I have no idea who the lady in the photo is, but she seems to be having fun, and I guess when you are on vacation, that is all that really counts, anyway.

So bon voyage to my family and I, and I will be back in the saddle here on Wednesday, July 5, to continue to enthrall you in this, that and the other thing.

Have a good weekend, have a good week, and I will speak to you the day after Independence Day.

Classic Rant #584 (September 20, 2011): Mo, Mo, Mo

Mariano Rivera.

The name trickles off the tongue like a good pasta sauce.

Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer the game of baseball has ever seen. He solidified his place in sports history yesterday by recording his 602nd save as the Yankees downed the Twins, 6-4 in a makeup game played at Yankee Stadium.

Rivera has had a truly remarkable career. Coming up through the Yankees minor league system during the dark days of the franchise--the early 1990s were not kind to the team from the Bronx--this scrawny kid with a blazing fastball came up to the Yankees in 1994 as, believe it or not, a starting pitcher.

He was not tall and was lean, but had that mean fastball. Some likened him to Ron Guidry, the Yankees' great starting pitcher who had the same build and temperament.

Rivera was up and down as a starter, but then the Yankees braintrust had a great idea--why not make this kid into a relief pitcher, not for save opportunities, but to set up their closer?

This decision redefined baseball bullpens. Now the setup man was just as important as the guy who closed out the games, and it has been a model used by every major league franchise since then.

The plan worked. Rivera initially set up John Wetteland, and the Yankees went on to win the World Series in 1996. Beginning in 1997, Rivera became the closer, and he hasn't looked back since.

His 602 saves broke the record of another top-flight reliever, Trevor Hoffman, who played mainly for the Padres in the National League--so Hoffman continues to hold the National League record.

What differentiates Rivera and Hoffman are the number of big games that Rivera played in versus Hoffman. Hoffman's teams were only occasionally in big games, playoff games, and World Series. Rivera, playing for a team in New York, is always in the spotlight, anyway, but incredibly, the Yankees are in the postseason just about every year. His exploits on the national stage have made him one of the most dependable--and popular--baseball players ever.

He has more than 40 saves in the postseason, which includes the playoffs and World Series. No one is even close to him on this biggest of stages.

And his regular season percentage of saves made versus opportunities--really the most important statistic--is also No. 1. Anything over 85 percent is phenomenal, and for his career, Rivera--who has at least one save against every team in baseball--is over 89 percent.

That means that 11 times out of 100, he fails to do the job he is on the mound for. Heck, I guess you can say that he is really human.

And he is in incredible shape. He has had some minor arm woes throughout his career, but overall, Rivera has never had a major arm injury as a major leaguer. Having pitched so many years, it is incredible that he has has been so durable.

Rivera was often called the greatest relief pitcher of all time well before he reached save number 602. But now he has the statistics to prove it.

His save record will go down as one of the unreachable baseball records, right up there with Cy Young's 511 wins. In today's world of baseball, it is a record that might be approached, but not topped, at least not in my lifetime.

There are some great relievers out there, but to record 600 saves, you have to save at least 30 games a year for 20 years, or 40 games a year for 15 years. Relievers generally have a short shelf life, and really, anything over 300 saves for a career is incredible. To have more than twice that many, as Rivera and Hoffman have, is just simply unbelievable.

Saves have only been an official statistic since 1969, and some relievers have just now gotten their due as Hall of Famers. Goose Gossage and Bruce Sutter were two of the dominant relievers of their time. In those days, relievers pitched two or three innings at a time, not the one that current closers pitch today.

And Gossage and Sutter are, deservedly, in the Hall of Fame for their accomplishments.

Sure, some old-timers still don't get what closers do and what saves really mean, just like the unofficial "hold" category that will probably one day become an official statistic.

But Rivera, and for that matter, Hoffman, have done something that is so unapproachable, so out of this world, that both should also find their way into Cooperstown down the road.

Hoffman is already retired, so his 601 saves are his career total.

Rivera is still pitching, although he is hinting that when his contract runs out next year, he might close it down.

So we just don't know how many saves this 41 year old will finish with.

And that's the fun part about it.

Many of us were not around to see Babe Ruth's exploits, nor Cy Young's. But at least for my generation, I can say that I saw the greatest relief pitcher, bar none, to ever play the game of baseball.

Congratulations to Mariano Rivera. He is the greatest at what he does.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Rant #1,929: Simply the Best

We all have our favorites in various things that we like to do.

We have our favorite movies, we have our favorite music, we also tend to have our favorite people, favorite foods, and our favorite clothes to wear.

One of my favorites is not Rolling Stone Magazine. I find it kind of an anomaly, a popular magazine that has no clue what it really is. Is it a music magazine, a culture magazine, a liberal magazine, an entertainment magazine, or is it a magazine that takes itself far too seriously to be taken seriously at all?

I just don't know.

But I have to say that they just released an interesting list, the Top 25 movie soundtracks of all time.

Now, you are not going to get "The Wizard of Oz" or anything like that on here; you are going to get the Top 25 rock and roll-related soundtracks, or at least the Top 25 rock and roll soundtracks released during the rock and roll generation, and that is about it.

But the albums that they put on the list are actually pretty good, pretty interesting fodder for discussion.

There really is something on here for everyone, and if you collect vinyl, in particular, this list should greatly interest you, because just about every soundtrack named came out during the vinyl era.

The list contains such incredible soundtracks as music from the likes of artists like the Beatles (natch!); Elvis Presley (sort of natch!); Jimmy Cliff; the Ramones; Simon and Garfunkel; and the Monkees.

The list also contains movie soundtracks which are basically compilation of songs which fit the particular movie in question, like "Saturday Night Fever;" "American Graffiti;" "Boogie Nights,;"GoodFellas;" "Easy Rider; and "Trainspotting."

Let's see if you can figure out the soundtrack that topped the list.

I will give you a minute, and no, I don't agree with its ranking, but I can't disagree with its placement, if you get my drift.

Figured it out yet?

No, it isn't "Purple Rain," and no, it is nothing by acts like the Dave Clark Five, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Herman's Hermits, or other popular artists who starred in films with accompanying soundtracks, whose movie albums didn't even make this list.

OK, here goes ...

It is "Help!" by the Beatles.

I can't argue with that choice, other than to say I probably would have chosen "A Hard Day's Night," but that's me.

And yes, "Magical Mystery Tour" is on the list, which I don't completely understand, but I also love that album, which was only an album in the U.S., collecting music from the mini-movie of the same name and some errant tunes that would not have made it onto any other Beatles' album if not for this one.

But yes, it is "Help!"

What makes this even a more mysterious choice is that they don't even choose the American issue of this LP, but the British issue, or the version released on CD here some years ago, but not back in 1965, of course.

Here is an excerpt of what they said and why they chose it:

"The Beatles' second movie was a light Swinging London goof, but the real action is on the soundtrack. It was a fond farewell to mop-top sweetness, paving the way for the groundbreaking experimentation of Rubber Soul. … with some of the Beatles' most mind-bogglingly great songs – including the title track, "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," "Yesterday" and "Ticket To Ride" – surrounded by Paul McCartney's R&B burner "The Night Before" and cute, lovely tunes like "I've Just Seen a Face," a still-underrated track … . The truncated American version's second side was taken up by the film's orchestral score, so Yanks had to wait until the Eighties CD reissues to hear what they'd been missing."

Huh? Got that?

The original U.S. soundtrack should stand on its own, and not the CD reissue, but again, this is Rolling Stone, what do you expect.

Neither here nor there, as usual, as I explained up top.

And what's wrong with the orchestral score, and from the likes of Sir George Martin yet?

Well, the list makes nice water cooler fodder, but I can't put too much into it.

Half the stuff I would have put on there is nowhere to be found--how about "The Minx" by the Cyrkle--but that's Rolling Stone for you.

At least "Head" is there, so I really can't argue too much with any list that includes both the Beatles and Monkees.

Check the list out for yourself at

Classic Rant #583 (September 19, 2011): Child Abuse Up In Recession?

As if my recent posts about abusive parents weren't enough, now there is a study that may back my personal contention that we are hearing more and more stories about child abuse lately.

According to the study, an increase in such incidents, especially against infants, is being linked to the country's current recession.

The results came from a small study conducted by the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of 422 abused kids spread over four states. The children were from mostly lower income families, where I would assume that the risk is higher for such abuse, in both good economic times and bad ones.

Based on the findings, there have been more cases of shaken babies being reported, as well as other brain-injuring abuse.

Evidently, the hospital decided to do this study when it discovered that there was a rise in abusive head trauma cases in its own environs during recession years--in this case late 2007 to June 2009--as opposed to times when the economy is in better shape.

During the recession years, such cases rose 76.5 percent, from 17 annually before 2007 to 30 cases a year during the recession years.

Overall, the rise in the number of such cases in the counties that were part of the study jibed with the percentage rise of the cases at the hospital. In those counties, there were nine cases per 100,000 children in the pre-recession years, to about 15 per 100,000 kids during the recession years--a rise of 65 percent.

Although this is a small study, this is an incredible statistic. You can point to a lot of things that caused the rise--including more teenagers and younger people who are not married and having kids, and people unemployed having children--and you can say that immaturity of the parents caused the numbers to rise.

But can you actually link the recession to the rise? Does a parent shake an infant because he or she can't afford to have an extra mouth to feed?

You really have to wonder. If our economy was better, if more people were working, if people weren't worried about their finances, would the increase be at such a high rate?

I don't know the answer to that. People are going to have children whether we are in good financial health or bad financial health, and that goes for individuals' personal finances, too.

So to sum it up, I don't know if the information in this study is valid or not. Just because someone is on the lower rung of the economic ladder doesn't mean that they will abuse their kids. And can you tie the abuse directly to the financial woes of our country?

But it is interesting that at least the news media is picking up on these abuses. Maybe the abuses were more of a behind-closed-doors type of thing in the past.

Lately, everything has been out in the open. And maybe that's a good thing.

But if the findings of the study are correct, then parents should use a punching bag to get out their feelings of inadequacy, and not babies.

What is this world coming to when infants are being used like lifeless rag dolls?

Again, I just don't know what's going on in this world, I really don't.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Rant #1,928: Rest In Peace (Part 2)

My computer has died.

For the past few years, I have been using an Apple iMac computer, dating from 2006 or so, so I guess the time had come for its demise.

But its demise was slow, very, very slow.

This computer was actually the old one I used at my work, which I bought off my company for $100 some years ago, when we upgraded our computers, pretty much out of necessity.

These were the Apple iMacs that had the flaw in them where after a period of use, the screen would start to feature one vertical line, then another, and then another.

By the time I stopped using this computer at work, I probably had about two dozen lines on the screen.

However, I bought the computer as a backup, because the hard drive was still good, I had a lot of stuff on there that I still wanted, and heck, for $100, I could be a sport.

Little did I know how much I would need that computer.

After my PC broke down for what amounted to the final time, I had had enough with the constant fixing of this computer, which broke down about every 18 months to two years.

The motherboard died on this thing, and it really did not pay to fix anymore.

I had the Apple iMac, so I figured that I would look my gift horse in the mouth and use it as my home computer.

That was back about three years ago, and it served me well, even though the lines had increased to probably well over 100 in the interim.

There were also blank patches on the side, so I had to shrink the screen in order to see everything, and anything on the desktop had to be moved to the left side of the screen.

So yes, the screen was a mess, but the hard drive was solid as a rock, and I continued to use this computer for everything, including typing out this column five days a week.

But about 10 days ago or so, right in the middle of doing something, the screen basically went ballistic, so to speak, meaning that a brownish tint crept onto the bottom of the screen, which threw off not only the screen's bottom, but the coloration throughout the screen, making any photos or really anything coming on that screen look like an old photo negative.

Right then and there, I decided I needed a computer replacement, but what to do about it was another matter.

I decided that since I had gotten used to the iMacs, I would get another one, but I don't have a lot of money to spend on a new computer, so I ordered a refurbished model.

It is more like the next generation of iMacs that came out about 2009 or 2010 or so, so it will fit my needs. I really don't need anything too flashy or too costly, and with a warranty in hand, I decided to go for it, and the new computer came yesterday evening.

I have not had the least bit of time to set it up, so what you are reading is being generated from the old, beat-up computer, where honestly, my eyes are straining to see what I am doing.

Once I have a chance, I will set up the "new" computer, with all my files and programs (yes, I saved everything, thank goodness), and away I will go, hopefully.

That old computer really was a great machine, and I will miss it, but it really has been on its last legs for quite a while, the latest blemish pretty much sealing its fate.

So R.I.P. that old computer, and I welcome the new one with open arms … well, fingers at least.

Classic Rant #582 (September 18, 2011): Darn Right It's Butch

Tommy Bond would have been 85 years old today.

Who is Tommy Bond, you ask.

Tommy Bond was the kid actor who played the meanie Butch in all those old Our Gang/Little Rascals short features.

Although Spanky, Alfalfa and Darla got most of the applause, Tommy Bond was probably the best pure actor of the bunch. He started off with the Gang as merely an ancillary player--most notably warbling the adult tearjerker "Just Friends" in one episode--but as the series grew and a protagonist was needed, Bond kind of morphed into Butch, the bully who really wasn't all that bad.

From about 1936 to 1940, Butch regularly competed with Alfalfa for the attention of comely Darla. Although he only periodically won the favor of the Gang's lovely lass, he became the comic foil for the good guys of the Gang, including Buckwheat and Porky, two of the little kids that he regularly threatened, often sending his henchman, Woim, to do the dirty work.

In 1937, still as a kid actor, he was one of the first members of the Screen Actors Guild.

When Bond finally left the series in 1940, he continued to do films. and he served in the Navy during World War II.

After the war, he was the first movie Jimmy Olsen in the Superman serials alongside Kirk Allyn and Noelle Neil.

Bond later turned his attention to television, and worked on many productions behind the scenes. In fact, if you remember Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, and all the crazy props they used, you can thank Bond, because he was the prop master of that show.

As one of the last surviving major members of the Our Gang/Little Rascals cast, in his later life he represented the Gang in a number of productions, and he eventually wrote his own autobiography.

Bond died Sept. 24, 2005.

His legacy are those Our Gang/Little Rascals films. Today, where bullies are looked down upon, Bond's characterization seems completely out of touch with today's reality.

But way back when, the character of Butch was a bully, but he kind of had a heart of gold. Although he won many victories over the more popular characters, he never won the war, so to speak.

And he took it, and we laughed at him, with him and against him.

Tommy Bond was a one of a kind actor in a series that has also been proven to be one of a kind, and I salute him on what would have been his birthday.

"Darn Right It's Butch"--and we're all better for it.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Rant #1,927: Rest In Peace

Bill Dana passed away. He was 92 years old.

I don't think most people know who Bill Dana was, but what they don't realize is that through his acting, his comedy and most probably, his writing, he touched millions and millions of people.

And made them laugh, laugh and laugh some more.

"My name ... Jose Jimenez."

I only have to write that phrase, and I think a lot more people would know who he was.

Dana created a character which could only have been created, and prospered, in the early 1960s.

Jose Jimenez was the supposedly slow-witted individual who took the world by storm in the early part of that decade, being featured first on "The Steve Allen Show" and later on other TV shows and on comedy albums that sold millions.

Using broken English and not always answering questions posed to him as one would expect, Dana created a character who on the outside may have appeared out of his depth in many aspects of life, but who was actually wise way beyond his limitations.

You could make fun of everyone back then in a fun way, and every ethnic and racial and religious group was open to such patter, whether they were black, white, Jewish, Catholic or Hispanic.

Stiller and Meara plied their real-life Jewish/Catholic relationship to stardom; Joan Rivers made fun of her own femininity way back when; and Alan King took his suburban Jewishness to new heights during this period. And there were countless others who poked fun at one group or another, but it was harmless fun, no one got excited, and we all, as a country, laughed at them as we looked both inward and outward at our own backgrounds.

Some might say that Dana's Jose Jimenez made fun of Hispanics, but I think he poked fun, not made fun, of that group.

Of course, Dana was not Hispanic, and this probably upset many people, but his character--whether on the ground, on the sea, or in space--hit the bull's eye more often than not, and in doing so, didn't offend Hispanics or anyone else.

Dana was mainly a comedy writer, and he wrote dozens and dozens of episodes of various sitcoms, including "All in the Family" and "The Golden Girls," and this is where he found lasting fame long after Jose Jimenez became a matter of derision for people who just refused to get the character.

In fact, he wrote what was probably the funniest, and most remembered episode of "All in the Family," where Sammy Davis Jr., through a set of strange circumstances, visits the Bunker household, and ends of giving Archie a kiss.

That was the work of pure comic genius, and that is what Dana was.

But back to Jose Jimenez ... in this PC world, it is hard to believe that such a character existed, but people back then had thicker skins, and could accept such humor, as long as no one was being hurt by it, and Dana infused the character with enough inner fortitude that you could laugh at the character and think about what he said at the same time.

In fact, Jose Jimenez became an everyman, and yes, at one point, we were ALL Jose Jimenez.

R.I.P. Bill Dana, you will be missed.

Classic Rant #581 (September 15, 2011): Daddy Demented

In part two of our unofficial look at the worst parents on the planet, here is another episode of "Parents Gone Mad."

A father was charged with child abuse after prosecutors said he slapped his seven-year-old son until he cried, and then, for good measure, threw the boy overboard during a recent pleasure cruise in California.

Sloan Briles, 35, of Irvine, Calif., had been drinking before the boy was tossed 10 feet over the side of the Queen in Newport Harbor during a cruise on Aug. 28, authorities said. When other passengers became angry, Briles jumped into the water before someone on a nearby boat retrieved the boy, prosecutors said.

Several days later, Briles told the syndicated show "Inside Edition" that the episode amounted to "roughhousing."

"We were just screwing around, just showing off, just being guys," he told the show. "It's not like I threw him off. We went together. It was just like a hand-in-hand thing."

Briles, who has had several run-ins with the police in the past, is scheduled to be arraigned on Sept. 26 in Newport Beach on one felony count of child abuse and endangerment and one misdemeanor count of resisting an officer. If convicted, he could face up to six years in prison.

Well, doesn't he make our previous day's "Mom of the Year" look just stunning?

This guy obviously lost it. Under the influence of alcohol, anything is possible, and I guess that pretty much sums up what this father did to his son.

And his claims that what they were doing was "roughhousing"? I don't know about that. Sure, I have roughhoused with my own son. It's part of being a dad. Nobody gets hurt. It's fun.

But when you endanger your son's life ... no, I would not call that roughhousing. I would call it plain stupid.

And like yesterday's perfect parent, this guy should get the book thrown at him. He is a jerk.

And he should not be able to see this kid again--and, for that matter, his other kids from his previous marriage again--unless the visits are supervised.

So there you have it--one "perfect" parent on the East Coast, the other on the West Coast.

This doesn't absolve the middle of the country, nor does it absolve any other part of the country (you might remember that in Rant #565, I talked about a mother in Alaska who forced her child to take hot sauce for being a naughty kid).

What is going on in this world today? Have some parents completely lost their minds?

I know this is harsh, but some people shouldn't be parents. Just because they can sire kids or have kids doesn't mean that they should.

Maybe a good doll would do. Or maybe a good doctor's procedure.

I just don't know ...

Monday, June 19, 2017

Rant #1,926: I Just Wanna Testify

I welcome myself back to this blog after taking Friday off.

Heck, someone has to.

While I was away, I noticed that Bill Cosby's case went to a mistrial.

I kind of figured it would, or that he would be acquitted.

I know that that is a horrible thing to say, but it is what I believe.

He isn't out of the woods yet--the whole thing will probably start up again in a few months--but this guy is never going to be found guilty of attacking anyone.

And the reason he is never going to be found guilty is simple; while what he did to this particular woman, and dozens of others, wast heinous, in each of every case, his relationship with the supposed victim was consensual, and thus, no crime was committed, or at least no crime that a court of law can prosecute.

Sure, he acted horribly; sure, he really let not only himself, but his family down; and sure, his act as the All-American human being of the world had holes in it a mile wide.

But did he do anything illegal?

No, simply because the women he supposedly attacked never told him the magic word, which is "no."

When this whole thing came out again a few years ago--there had been rumors and innuendo for years about Cosby and his antics--women from as long ago as 50 years claimed that he attacked them.

Yet not a one brought him up on charges right then and there, only yelling a screaming when it became a mob scene of women who were supposedly violated by him.

The question is, and has always been this: why did they not reports his antics to the authorities when they supposedly happened?

If just one did that, we would not be talking about this, because Cosby would have been jailed right then and there.

And don't you think in 1960s and 1970s America, the authorities would have liked to have his head in a sling, so to speak, in particular if the acts were committed against white women?

Sure, the women said they were humiliated and embarrassed. Sure they were--they were humiliated and embarrassed because they were willing participants in these antics, and they knew that if a case actually would come before a court, this would all come out in the wash.

Nobody is defending Cosby at all. His behavior has been atrocious. He used his celebrity to promise these women the world, and all he delivered was a night in the hay.

These women were taken, each and every one of them, and that is why they let the cases slide.

And in the current case, it was pretty much the same thing.

If you are attacked like she was, you don't constantly contact the person that supposedly committed the atrocity, and you don't continue to have a relationship with him.

The woman did it to further herself, or try to, at least, and well, it didn't work.

Yes, Cosby is a piece of garbage. He really put himself into some abhorrent situations.

Was it a smart way to act, was Cosby's behavior on the up and up?

No, no, a thousand times no.

But was promising these women the world--many of them starlets looking for a way up in the Hollywood of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s--and then not delivering an illegality punishable by jail time?

I don't think so.

One night in the hay for a promise of fame and fortune, and then not coming through, is a really nasty thing to do, but it is not something that you get thrown in jail for.

And the big question is what of Cosby's wife, Camille? Why did she stand by when all of this was happening?

She finally has her say the other day, and of course she knocked the other side.

That was to be expected.

It is quite obvious that she knew what her husband was getting into. They probably had/have an open marriage, and thus, her husband's behavior was permissible in her eyes.

Not everyone has a traditional marriage, and people do stray during marriage, but she seemed to give her own consent to his straying.

And the benefits of staying with this guy, who is worth millions, probably outweighed the negatives, in her eyes.

Heck, I don't get it either, and to me, she is the true fool in this whole thing, but on the other hand, maybe she is the smart one in all of this, benefitting in ways we may never know by staying with her lecherous husband, someone who pulled the wool over the public's eyes for decades.

This will soon start up again, and won't be put to rest until a verdict is reached one way of the other.

If I were a betting man, I would put my money on Cosby, not because I, myself, are taken in my his celebrity, but because I truly believe that what he did was heinous, these women were no angels, either.

Personally, I would just like the whole thing to be settled, so we don't have to hear another word about this.

Maybe, soon, that wish will be realized.

Classic Rant #580 (September 14, 2011): Mommy Meanest

Some people kind of lose their heads about their kids.

In the old days, like when I was growing up, you had parents who talked incessantly about their children to the point that the listener wanted to throw up.

Nowadays, you have parents standing up for their kids, but standing up in such a way that I wish that they would just sit down ... probably because they would be sitting on their brains.

Such is the case with comely Daphne Melin, the mother of a 12 year old child who evidently was cyber-bullied on Facebook.

According to the news story, a planned altercation was arranged between Melin's daughter and another child at William Floyd Elementary School on Long Island. Melin allegedly drove her daughter to the confrontation. The other girl did not show up and sent a friend in her place.

A brawl erupted, and another girl who begged Melin to stop the fight was instead attacked herself by the mom, who used her best WWE moves on the spectator. The fight was taped on a cell phone and posted on Facebook and YouTube.

By the way, Melin is 32. The girl who she had the physical altercation with is 12.

The mother turned herself in, although she is continuing to plead her innocence. She was charged with three counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one count of third-degree attempted assault.

Evidently, the original dispute was over a boy that Melin's daughter was fond of. The fight over the boy escalated to taunts from another girl to Melin's daughter.

Melin says she previously went to the school district with her concerns, but the district turned a deaf ear to her pleas to stop the harassment.

There you have it. A mother defending her child is one thing, but a mother defending her child with brute force is another.

Melin was on the early news this morning, and she continues to claim that the whole incident was a misunderstanding--even though the video clearly shows her attacking another child.

I have to think that this woman is not of her right mind. She is nothing but a child herself, and she probably put herself in her daughter's position, and completely lost it.

And she still defends herself.

Girls have been arguing over boys for centuries, and vice versa. But now, with the Internet, the arguments can be elevated so that just about anyone can get involved and anyone can see what is unfolding.

This, in itself, is a product of modern technology, one that is not policed at all by Facebook and similar sites.

But for Melin to get involved to this extent in this fracas makes you wonder about the sanity of this person.

She is 20 years older than the girl she is said to have assaulted.

Sure, over my years as a parent myself, there have been parents and kids I would have loved to slap across the head, but I kept those thoughts in my mind. I never acted them out.

Melin, on the other hand, did.

It is hard to feel any pity for her, and quite frankly, when she goes back to court, the judge should throw the book at her, give her the stiffest sentence possible, and use her as an example of parenting gone berserk.

There is one thing to defending your child against cyber bullying; however, there is another thing to defending your child by attacking another kid.

Who is the real bully here?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Rant #1,925: Color Him Father

First, sorry for the lateness of this post.

In the middle of the workday yesterday, I was called by the Social Security office to come down and apparently sign off on some things related to my son, so I have to do this today before I go to work, and after a very busy Wednesday evening--after work, my wife and I had to take my son to his end of the season work meeting, at a small amusement park 40 miles away from us--I figured that I would sleep a little later today.

Social Security doesn't open until about 8:45, so why am I waking up at 3:30?

Anyway, the Yankees lost, I am not happy, but I want to focus on this Sunday, which, of course, is Father's Day.

This year's celebration will be a bit different than any other Father's Day for me, as I will be celebrating the day without my father's presence.

It has become too difficult to celebrate the day with the two grandfathers in one place, so this year, we are going to celebrate my father-in-law on the actual day, and next year, we will do the same for my dad.

We will see my father on the big day, and on Saturday night, the whole family--myself, my wife, my son, my daughter and my mother--are taking him out to dinner, so no, we haven't forgotten this old Marine, we are just shifting the day a bit because of necessity.

What follows is my edited rant of June 14, 2013, No. 984, which says a lot about the day at hand.

"This Sunday is Father's Day, and in my family, we call this the holiest day of the year.

Or at least the men in the family call it that.

It is the day to celebrate fathers and all they do for our society.

Fathers often get knocked for not doing the right thing, but fathers are important to the very framework of the family.

In the old days, it was the father who "brought home the bacon" to the rest of the family.

Today, in two-salary households, it is less so than it was a generation ago, but fathers continue to work hard and provide for their families.

I was lucky, because my father is and was solid as a rock.

He worked hard, did what he had to do with his kids, and earned the right to call Father's Day the holiest day of the year.

I have tried to follow in my father's footsteps. I work hard, do what I have to do with my kids, and I think I have earned the right to call the day the holiest day of the year too.

I have been his Little League coach, have gone to school meetings, have helped him with his homework, and I think I have done everything possible to being a good dad.

So happy Father's Day to all you dads out there.

Even though we are often drubbed as not being around, and when we are around, clueless about what is going on, there may be nothing more important than the bond between a child and his parents.

And that includes fathers.

So have a nice barbecue, have a nice dinner or brunch, and relax on Sunday.

It is our day to do whatever we want to do.

And we deserve it, we really do."

So have a great day.

Tomorrow, my "busy-ness" continues, as I have my appointment for my twice yearly eye exam with my retinal specialist. It knocks me out for the entire day, and I won't be at work tomorrow, nor will I be here to entertain, educate and amuse you.

So have a great weekend, I will be back here on Monday, ready to go!

Speak to you then.

Classic Rant #579 (September 13, 2011): Jackie Oh!

I am sure that you heard that several revelations have come out of the 1963 tapes made of an interview with Jackie Kennedy.

Her husband's death was still fresh when these tapes were recorded, and the former First Lady said some things that nearly 48 years later are stirring up a hornet's nest of trouble--and explanations by the only surviving member of her immediate family, her daughter Caroline.

One of the most glaring quotes was about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Jackie said she couldn’t look at a picture of him “without thinking … that man’s terrible," but later came to admire the civil rights leader.

According to news reports on the soon to be released tapes, Kennedy called King a “phony” and “tricky” during the taped interview with the historian Arthur Schlesinger. She said on the tapes that King had made derogatory remarks about her husband’s funeral and about Cardinal Cushing, who celebrated Mass at the event.

“He made fun of Cardinal Cushing and said that he was drunk at it [the funeral],” Kennedy said. “And things about they almost dropped the coffin. I just can’t see a picture of Martin Luther King without thinking, you know, that man’s terrible."

In addition, the tapes reportedly have Kennedy saying that King had arranged for an “orgy in the hotel” while in town for the March on Washington in August 1963.

Kennedy said that her husband, President John F. Kennedy, had urged her not to be judgmental about it.

Doing damage control, daughter Caroline has said that her mother "admired King tremendously."

Caroline Kennedy said that FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover--who, in another revelation on the tapes, was held in great disdain by Jackie--"had passed on something that Martin Luther King said about my father’s funeral, to Uncle Bobby and to Mommy. And obviously, she was upset about that. ...It shows you the poisonous … activities of J. Edgar Hoover.”

Jackie Kennedy later became friendly with King and his family and attended the civil rights leader’s funeral in 1968.

But what can you make of her comments, all these years later?

The interview took place just a few weeks after her husband was assassinated. The hurt and pain were still fresh in her mind. Remember, we lost a President, but she lost a husband.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a human being. He had his faults. Not everyone liked him.

To this day, you will find some people who believe all the hubbub about him and his life is nothing but hooey.

Maybe because it was about rumors that were passed to her, but at this moment in her life, Jackie didn't think much of King.

But time heals all wounds, to a certain degree.

I think as Kennedy distanced herself from the horrible episode of November 1963 and looked ahead at her life and the world she was living in, she grew to admire King.

So all the nonsense about her words that were recorded right after her husband died must be put into the proper perspective. She was told some information that may or may not have been true, and since the hurt was fresh, she did what most of us would do, look at the negative.

That's all there is to say about it.

And all of those people who are now scratching their heads and wondering where she was coming from with her remarks should pipe down a bit.

Remember, this is America. You can supposedly say what you want without getting raked over the coals.

Give both her, and King, the proper respect they are due, and stop making her remarks sound like her own personal Waterloo.

Let them both rest in peace.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Rant #1,924: Holiday

Today, June 14, is a holiday, but I bet most of you didn't know that, because with patriotism in short supply nowadays, holidays to celebrate our flag don't seem to rate on the "sexy" scale as they perhaps once did.

The holiday I am talking about is Flag Day, which commemorates the adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the flag of our country. This is the 240th anniversary of this measure, which passed by resolution of the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777.

I remember that as a kid, this was a special day in school. We would learn all about our flag, and how our country went from 13 colonies all the way up to 50 states.

We would learn how to properly care for the flag, and there was usually a ceremony featuring locally based soldiers or policemen showing us how to fold the flag in the right way.

I also remember that individuals would fly the flag today, proudly showing off our flag, which stands for so much.

Yes, way back when, Flag Day was a big deal.

Today, it is just another day on the calendar, or it seems like it is.

Kids are ready to get out of school, and generally, people are too busy to even think about our flag on its special day.

Our flag stands for so much. It stands for freedom, it stands for strength. It stands for bravery. It stands for the very tenets that have allowed us to live like we do.

Yes, some people mock our flag, and some people even desecrate it.

The courts have said that that is their right.

But the reason that is their right constitute the very ideas that the flag that they are destroying stand for.

Without freedom, flags could not be destroyed, which is something that those who do things like this simply do not understand.

When my grandparents came to this country, they saw in the flag the land of opportunity, something that they could not experience in Europe.

They came here--three of them did, my grandmother on my mother's side was born here--with the very idea that this is where they wanted to live, this is where they wanted to eventually raise their families, this is where they wanted to pledge allegiance to.

And they did just that, becoming citizens as quickly as they could.

They learned the language without giving up their heritage.

Yes, it actually can be done.

They raised successful children, who eventually gave them grandchildren, and really, the rest is history.

The flag stands for all of that, and when Americans knock the very country that they live in, it really is like the proverbial biting the hand that feeds you.

Yes, not everything is right in this country, but where else would you rather be than here?

In these times, the word "respect" seems to be in very short supply.

People have no clue what it means, and they abuse their privilege to speak out and yes, to rant and rave about things that they really have no clue about.

It is time to learn respect again.

If you cannot abide by the laws of this country, if this country makes you so uncomfortable that it affects your very being, there are many other places you can go.

Please do.

Let's learn respect again, and let's learn to be patriotic.

Flag Day is a good place to start.

Classic Rant #578 (September 12, 2011): Life Goes On

Yesterday, September 11, 2011, was the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our nation.

There were numerous anniversary events held across the country and around the world yesterday, including ceremonies at the epicenters of the attacks, at the Pentagon, the field in Pennsylvania, and in New York City at Ground Zero.

Thousands participated in these ceremonies.

Others took in the day for what it was, one of the last Sundays in the summer.

Some people went to baseball and football games, others shopped the day away.

My computer broke down, so I had to bring it in for repair (I am using another computer in the meantime).

A lot of people went to the movies. "Contagion" is the No. 1 movie right now.

Others went online, to their favorite sites, posting and chatting up a storm.

Lots of people watched TV and listened to radio. Many channels and stations carried live coverage of the day's events, others stayed with their standard programming.

Of course, some people had to work yesterday. I had off, making it the first full weekend I have had off in over a month (we have been putting in six days of work at my job lately).

I had pancakes for breakfast, nachos for lunch, and fish for dinner.

Later, my wife gave both my son and myself some ice cream.

My wife and I watched a movie last night. I can't even tell you what the DVD's name was, but it was a British crime film and for the first time, we had to use subtitles because the British accents were so thick. It was OK.

No matter what anyone did yesterday, the world mourned on the 10th anniversary of the tragedy of people hurting other people.

Some people mourn in different ways. Some people have to be right there where it all happened. Others need to spend money.

And neither way of handling the day is wrong.

There is no wrong and no right in this matter.

By being at a memorial, people showed solidarity with the event, and mourned their tragic losses of friends, family members and colleagues.

By shopping, people showed that the American way of life was simply dented, and not obliterated, by these horrendous, cowardly attacks.

As I said in the title of this Rant, "Life Goes On." And it does for us all, perhaps in different ways.

Nobody will ever forget that tragic day, and they won't forget it whether they were at a memorial or at Wal-Mart.

And that is the American way, and that American way continues to be the norm.

Hopefully, one day, those that hate us will see that, will see how strong we are as a country, and will stop trying to destroy us.

Because their efforts--as shown by the resilience we have shown since that fateful day--will ultimately be in vain.

My son, who was six years old when this tragedy happened, asked my wife and I about it yesterday. We explained everything to him the best way we knew how.

If there will be any burden of this day, it will fall on the shoulders of the kids who were either too young to realize what was happening on that day or on those who were born right after the tragedies happened.

But the day will live on in our lives. It won't be forgotten, but like Pearl Harbor day, V-E Day and the like, it won't burn this brilliantly in the succeeding decades.

Things have a way of evening themselves out. Those other days are days to remember, too, and they have never been forgotten.

But most of us don't shape our days around these events anymore.

The same will happen with 9/11.

Other generations will look upon the day as my generation did with those previously named special days.

They are parts of our country's history.

You can't expect succeeding generations to absorb everything that happened on September 11, 2001 like we are doing right now.

Unfortunately, I am sure they will have their days to do their own reflections.

That is how life works, and that is how life will continue to play itself out in the years to come.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Rant #1,923: Bowling Green

Aaron Judge keeps on hitting homers for the Yankees.

The Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers for the NBA title.

But the most significant athletic event, at least for me, happened on Saturday, when another bowling season ended for my son and his team in the PAL bowling league that he attends each Saturday afternoon in the fall through the spring.

This is a special league for a special bunch of kids, some not kids anymore, but young adults like my son.

It is a league designed for young men and women who have some type of disability, whether mental, physical or emotional, or some combination of those.

It puts them in a setting with others with like things to deal with, puts them in a setting with their peers, where no one is looking down at anyone else in any way.

There are kids with physical disabilities, some with mental challenges, but they are all on the same, level playing field here.

My son has been in this league for about four or five years now, and don't get me wrong, the number one reason to be in this league is the fun the participants have, but it is a competitive league, and those bowling are there to win and lose games.

And there are some mighty good bowlers in the league, with some even registering games of 200 or better during this season.

The league has nine teams, generally of four players each, so yes, it is a small league, in particular in comparison with others, but it is a fun league, where everyone knows everyone else, and high fives go all around, even for frames where a strike or spare is not registered.

This bowling league is actually part of a larger group of leagues for those with disabilities, leagues where participants can play everything from baseball to basketball to golf.

My son's bowling team ended up in last place this year, but I know he had fun participating. His average actually rose about seven points this year to about a 117 or so, and he had a high 180 game.

He also bowled two or three turkeys, that being, registering three strikes in a row during a single game, a feat where he earned a pin recognizing what he did during the league award presentation this past Saturday.

It was fun to watch him and his team compete the entire season, and he looks forward to another season of play starting in the fall.

Each and every one of these participants have had various challenges to overcome, and they do the best they can in a world that often ignores them or at least does not have patience with them.

Here, they can just be themselves, and have a lot of fun doing it.

Along with his job, his participation in this league are probably the two most important things my son participates in during the year, and while he is very shy among the others, I think they still know who he is and value his participation.

My wife and I are very proud of our son for the strides he has taken, and he has a long way to go, but participating in this league is one way that he hopes to scale those hurdles.

So here is to another season, and before you know it, the new season will dawn, and my son will be on the lanes, trying to do his best.

You can't ask for more.

Classic Rant #577 (September 8, 2011): 10 Years

Since this is my last Rant of the week--I have to take my son to the doctor tomorrow, so I won't have time to write anything--I thought I would reflect on September 11, 2001, the fateful day we now refer to as 9/11.

The United States had heard of terrorist attacks abroad, but we were fully confident that the systems in place would never allow such an attack on our own soil.

This perception changed that fateful day.

There were attacks on the Pentagon, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, and attacks that might have led to the White House being hit but ended on a field in Pennsylvania.

I remember the day very well.

As usual, I got into work early. I was doing some work--what exactly I can't remember--and a co-worker came in and said, "Did you hear, the World Trade Center was hit by an airplane?"

I put on the closest radio I could find, and the rest, as they say, is history.

My fellow employees streamed into work that day, many sobbing, many not knowing where their loved ones were.

Our place of business is about 20 miles outside of New York City, so many of us had direct fears about the attacks.

I know that I wondered about my father, who drives a yellow cab in New York City. I didn't know where he was for most of that day.

And since my place of business is also attached to the federal government via our coverage of military stores, we were greatly impacted by the terrorist attacks.

Very little work got done that day. All of us had our ears pressed to radios.

The news was going all over the place that day. Although much of what we heard was accurate, one station in New York erroneously reported that the White House had been hit.

I won't name the station, because I almost have to give them a pass for that day. Things were so crazy, that information was swirling around at a rapid pace, and who had a chance to double-check the information?

Anyway, we were let out early that day, but not before we heard and saw some military planes circling our area.

We also smelled something that was foreign to us. Yes, the stench of the burned and bludgeoned World Trade Center buildings had wafted over to us, too.

When I got home, I tried to find out information about my father, to no avail.

I turned on the TV, and the coverage was off and on. Some stations literally could not transmit because their antennas were atop the one building or the other of the fallen World Trade Center complex, and others were working on minimal power, and things were going in and out the entire day.

I did record what I could for posterity. I have a few videotapes of what was going on.

No, I haven't watched them since, but yes, I am glad I recorded them ... for posterity.

I really think it would be difficult to watch them today.

It was late afternoon, and my father was still not heard from.

I remember going outside of the house with my wife, who had also been let off early that day from her job.

My son was just six years old, and my daughter was just 13. I remember talking to my wife about the future, how uncertain it was now that this had happened.

What did it mean for the future of the kids?

At about 7:30 p.m., my father arrived home. It had taken him hours to get out of Manhattan and back to Long Island. He actually had to go into New Jersey to do this.

He told us his story.

He had just dropped off a passenger at the World Trade Center, when another person hailed him down.

The person wanted to go to Harlem, way uptown from the World Trade Center.

He ended up being my father's guardian angel. My father was moving uptown when the planes hit, so he saw and heard everything from a distance.

Thank God for that man, whoever he is. He probably saved my father's life, or at least took him away from the scene of the attack.

Anyway, that is how I look back at 9/11 on its approaching 10th anniversary.

It was a horrible day, but remember, it was a day on the calendar.

People went to work, people were born on that day, people died on that day, with their deaths having nothing to do with the attacks.

People went shopping on that day. People ate breakfast that day.

People bought the newspaper that day. People talked sports that day.

And people experienced our greatest national tragedy to date on the day.

Hopefully, we will never see anything like it again.

It made September 11, 2001, which started off as a day like any other day, into a day that no one will ever, ever forget.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Rant 1,922: The Greatest American Hero

On Friday, we spoke about a real, true, American hero.

Today, we look at the life of a real, true American hero, but one that was created by Hollywood.

Adam West died this weekend at age 88, and Baby Boomers mourned his passing.

During a career that lasted more than 60 years, West played everything from a cowboy to an astronaut, but he will be remembered for one role, the role that basically typecast him and killed his career, but the role that made him a Baby Boomer icon:


He was erroneously called in many obituaries that I read "the first screen Batman"--he was not, as there was a movie serial Batman years before West took on the cape and cowl--but West was TV's first Batman.

The two years he spent in the role cemented him as a hero to Baby Boomers, but he was so associated with the role that his career stalled after that.

Prior to Batman, the tall, good-looking acotr portrayed everyone from cowboys to astronauts--just prior to Batman, he was starred in a film with the Three Stooges!--but with Batman, he hit the high-water mark of his career with a solid bull's eye.

West, along with Burt Ward as his sidekick, Robin, portrayed the Dynamic Duo in the 1960's rendering of the Caped Crusader, mixed in with sly humor and pop art dynamics.

Taking advantage of television's new-found love of color, the show was like the comic book had come to life, with dynamic colors, punctuated with a POW!, ZING!, and ZONK! mentality.

West and Ward were simply guest stars on the their own show, with the villains taking full ownership of the half hour program, which initially ran twice weekly, with the first episode of the week always ending with a cliffhanger.

West was a wry Batman, doing everything with a straight face, delivering lines that were as stilted as they were funny, and West completely got the role, as did Ward.

Soon, the public tired of the show, but initially, it was a huge hit, and has been a hit in reruns the past 50 years, and is finally on DVD.

Anyway, West could not get hired after that role, and took cheesy roles in many low-budget projects after his Batman role.

It was only when he embraced his past role that he rose to stardom again, and during the past 30 years, he has portrayed Batman in numerous productions, and has even appeared as "Adam West" in several others.

To Baby Boomers, West was not the Dark Knight Batman; that darker portrayal came much later.

However, he was Batman as much as George Reeves was Superman, and to Baby Boomers, all other actors who portrayed Batman were simply pretenders to the throne that West held court with for the past 50 years.

In essence, he WAS Batman.

R.I.P. Adam West, Gotham City is safer because of you.

Classic Rant #576 (September 7, 2011): Wet, Wet, Wet

After a number of days of pretty decent weather since the coming of Hurricane Irene, yesterday brought us a ton of rain.

I feel sorry for the people who are already in the swamps due to Irene and now, after they have pretty much dried off what they could, and now they have to put up with more of the wet stuff.

Last night, the Yankees were scheduled to play the Orioles in a night game at Yankee Stadium. Like in the rest of New York, the Bronx was wet, wet, wet yesterday, and the rain, which was pretty intense at times, wasn't going away by game time at 7:10 p.m.

Although the rain was coming down the entire day, the game was not called. In fact, the game began at about 11 p.m., or just about four hours after it was supposed to start.

Even though rain continued to fall, and continued to fall heavily at times, the game was played for the full nine innings, and the Yankees won 5-3.

The game ended at 2:15 a.m.

Why wasn't the game called?

There are a variety of reasons, but if I was a fan who had a ticket to that game, I would be steaming right now.

It was the Orioles' last trip to the Stadium this season. Rain is in the forecast for today, when the Yankees and Orioles are slated to play a day game, and it is also in the forecast for Thursday, when the same two teams shift to Baltimore to play a makeup game for a previously scheduled game that was wiped out by--you guessed it--rain.

Furthermore, it's not the Yankees' call to play the game. When it is the final visit of the season for a team, it's in the umpires' hands, and last night, they determined that it was OK to play ball, even in a torrential downpour.

The new Yankee Stadium seats about 48,000 for baseball, and the Yankees have been getting nearly that the entire season. So last night was probably no exception. They probably sold just about every ticket in the Stadium, and you can bet that just about everyone who had a ticket was there.

And I am sure they were checking the Internet and with the Yankees to determine whether the game would be played or called off.

And once at the Stadium, they were treated to a four-hour rain delay.

Sure, there's plenty to do at the Stadium when baseball isn't being played. There are a couple of restaurants, there is the Yankees Museum, and there are some other things to bide your time.

But don't you think that asking fans to brave a four hour rain delay, and then play in pouring rain anyway, is a bit much?

If you watch the replays of the highlights of the game, you will see that there were probably 1,000 fans or so in the stands as the night wore on into the early morning.

If there were any kids there--who have school the next day--I hope they can get up today. And that goes for the other fans, who I assume also have to get up and go to work.

I think Major League Baseball is going to have to enact some type of rule saying that games, and night games in particular, can't be delayed more than a specific amount of time before they must be called off.

I know the Yankees allowed fans in attendance to exchange their ticket stubs for another game on them, but don't you think this is ludicrous? Either you play the game by a certain hour or you call it quits.

The Yankees, like most baseball teams, are really a regional team. Yes, they are based in New York City, but they draw fans from Long Island, Westchester, Upstate New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

How you can ask any fan, and in particular, fans traveling from great distances, to wait out such a game? It is really quite unfair.

And then to play it in abominable conditions ... if you don't care about the fans, how about the players? It was pretty slick out there, and there could have been injuries. Happily, there weren't any.

Let's see what happens today. It's raining now, and it is expected to continue to rain at game time, 1:10 p.m. What will happen?

At least it's a day game today. With the umpires' thinking of last night, they could wait well into the evening to play this game.

How about the game starting at 7:10 p.m., or 8:10 p.m., or maybe even 11 p.m. again?

Do they care about the fans at all?

Friday, June 9, 2017

Rant #1,921: The Name Game

I am going to end the week with a real feel-good story, because heck, I think we need one at this point.

I know that I do.

The New York State Senate began a process on Wednesday to rename part of the Southern State Parkway--one of the most dangerous roadways in the nation--for the late NYPD Det. Steven McDonald, who lived in Malverne.

They passed a bill that would do so, and now it is up to the State Assembly to carry this on through.

If the State Assembly OKs this, "The Detective Steven McDonald Memorial Highway" would run from the Belt Parkway--what the roadway is called in New York City--all the way to the Meadowbrook State Parkway, or through to exit 22 as the Southern State Parkway.

McDonald's story is an incredible one. The police officer lived most of his life in a wheelchair as a quadriplegic after a young punk named Shavod Jones shot him. Eight months after the altercation, McDonald formally forgave Jones for the shooting, and for the remaining years of his life, McDonald became an international agent for peace and forgiveness, preaching to anyone who would listen that being bitter is not the way to a full life.

With the full support of his wife, Patti, and his family--his son was born six months after his father was shot--McDonald remained with the NYPD, and was a major presence at everything from parades, swearing in ceremonies, sports events and funerals.

He became a major celebrity, but unlike others in the spotlight, he used his notoriety for the good of people and for the good of society in general. His presence, and his smile, lit up a room.

This guy was the real deal, with not even a scintilla of phoniness in his very being.

He died in January, but if this measure passes, his name will live on forever as part of the New York State infrastructure.

McDonald was a hero to just about everyone, and although his life was relatively short, he touched and affected just about everyone who he met or knew his name. He represented everything that was good about the police department and about the human spirit. He rightfully deserves such an honor.

There really is nothing more to say about this. I hope he receives this honor, and I wish those who support this will pass this bill quickly.

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

Classic Rant #575 (September 6, 2011): School's In

Today is the first day of school for lots of kids across the country.

In my neck of the woods, my son starts high school today, or more to the point, the main high school.

In our school district, there are two high schools. One is for ninth grade only. The school people here believe that it is not good to mix ninth graders with the older kids. Then you have the main high school, which is for 10th grade, 11th grade and 12th grade.

It's almost akin to a ballplayer being in the minors, and now he is in the major leagues.

I remember when my daughter first went to high school. The school was huge, much larger than her middle school, and I almost thought she would get lost in its immense size.

She didn't, but I did, every time I went to parent-teacher conferences and other events at the school.

My daughter lived in another district (her mom and I are divorced), so my son is going to a different high school ... the school that I went to when I was in high school, so he is the second generation of my family to go to this school (my sister went there too).

I remember my first day of high school. We had only moved into the neighborhood a few weeks before from a seven-year hitch in the neighborhood of my youth, Rochdale Village, Jamaica, Queens. I was supposed to go to the since-closed Springfield Gardens High School, where all my friends were going, but we moved, so here I was, stuck in a neighborhood I didn't know in a school I wasn't the least bit familiar with.

I didn't know a soul, and the first few days were hard getting acclimated to the school and the people around me. Heck, looking back, I never got acclimated, not in the four years I was there. I was like a man without a country, and I never, ever, felt comfortable in that school.

I remember telling my mother that I didn't have to dress that great when I went to school on Long Island. Not that I dressed to the nines when I was in school in Queens, but there was a casualness in the Long Island school that I never saw in my old school in Queens. I remember seeing girls come to school in bikini tops and guys coming to school in shorts, and I knew that my nice shirt and pants made me stand out even more.

I absolutely hated high school. I was different from the rest of the kids due to my upbringing, and I think they knew it, and I certainly knew it.

I never got treated as a peer of these kids I went to high school with. I was made fun of, harassed, and in today's world, yes, I was bullied.

I was an SP student in the New York City schools, but in high school, my grades dropped off to the point that I had to struggle to get a B average for my entire four years there. I don't remember if I got it or not, but I know I struggled, and picked up on my grades in 11th and 12th grades.

It really didn't work out for me in high school, not at all.

Now my son enters this same school.

Yes, I have my reservations and my doubts. I hope he fits in much better than I did. He will be with kids he has grown up with and has gone to school with since kindergarten, which is a plus on his side.

He is extremely shy and is a special ed kid, which is a minus.

But I think he will acclimate himself better than I did. I stood out, but I don't think that he does. He should be able to blend into the high school population much better than I ever did.

I think he will do fine. At least I hope so.

In this case, he should not follow his father's footsteps.

He should create his own.

And I think he can do it.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Rant #1,920: For Pete's Sake

A lot has been made in the media about the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" LP.

The album entered the American chart on June 24, 1967, became another No. 1 album for the Fab Four, but it also became the touch point for the so-called "Summer of Love," and while doing that, redefined tock and rock albums forever.

Nothing was the same on the rock landscape after "Sgt. Pepper" came out, and its release cemented the Beatles as the spokesmen of the younger generation.

But what of the album that it supplanted as the top LP in the U.S.? Interestingly, just a year earlier, the act that put out this LP declared "we're the younger generation" themselves, and with this particular collection, they were making their own, albeit lesser, statement about who they were and who they wanted to be.

On June 10, the top recording act in the world based on combined album and single sales released their own opus, "Headquarters," and at least for the teenybopper crowd, nothing was the same in that part of the music spectrum ever again, either.

That act--the Monkees--had burst on the scene less than a year earlier, with a new type of TV series, and released recordings that were pegged to those who were a little too young to get where the Beatles were coming from, yet had plenty of money to spend. The Monkees were created seemingly in a Hollywood test tube as a safer antidote to what the Beatles had become.

The story has become somewhat legendary in the annals of rock and roll and Hollywood/corporate infiltration, and it propelled relative unknowns Peter Tork, Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and the one known quantity--Broadway actor David Jones--to not only stardom, but into the inner circle of the gods they were created from.

Both Dolenz and Nesmith were in the presence of the Beatles as they were creating "Sgt. Pepper," and both realized right then and there that once this LP came out, the waters had changed for good.

But back to "Headquarters." This LP was the Monkees' own statement on who they were and who they wanted to be, and like the previous two LPs in their canon, this one also rose to the top of the album chart pretty effortlessly.

Spurred on by the weekly TV series portraying them as four pretty much down-and-out musicians, living in a beachfront home that they could seemingly barely afford, their music sold by repetition on the TV series, and younger kids were buying up this music in droves.

Yet, early on, on their first two LPs and on their early singles, the foursome generally only sung on their records, with only some of their own instrumentation added in.

To make a long story short--and here is a classic longhair vs. Hollywood machine tale--the foursome was able to remove their musical puppertmaster, Don Kirshner, and take control of their own music and destinies, and "Headquarters" was the result.

And 50 years later, the LP remains as the Monkees' truest statement of their own success, an album that they basically hand crafted themselves--on both vocals and instruments and in some cases, in the songwriting--with a little help from their own friends.

Leading off with Nesmith's "You Told Me," the Monkees tell their fans that yes, they can play their own instruments, and yes, they can continue to make music that will hit the bull's eye with their fans.

Continuing with some other pleasant pop-rock--"I'll Spend My Life With You: and "Forget That Girl"--the album then shows the fun the quartet had making this recording, demonstrated with a sound snippet, "Band 6."

A strong track, "You Just May Be the One" follows, and then one of the foursome's best tunes "Shades of Gray" follows. "I Can't Get Her Off My Mind," a relative throwaway that the Monkees make into a pleasant enough ditty, ends side one.

Side two begins with the Monkees' statement about who they are and who they want to be, "For Pete's Sake." Peter Tork's tune--which was the end-theme of the show's second season and sung by Dolenz--makes the statement right then and there that the Monkees were a real band, both singing and playing their own instruments.

The cautionary tale "Mr. Webster" follows, and then another great Nesmith tune, "Sunny Girlfriend" puts the listener in the right, triply without the drugs, mood. Another sound snippet, "Zilch" comes next, and another pleasant two or so minutes of froth, "Early Morning Blues and Greens," comes next.

Closing the LP is another Monkees milestone, "Randy Scouse Git." Written by Dolenz, the song both celebrates the Beatles as "the four kings of EMI" and the ascendance of the so-called "Pre-Fab Four" to the top of the rock echelon. It was a major hit song around the world--the first Monkees' penned tune to reach the top or near the top of the singles charts in many countries--with its title changed to "Alternate Title" so as not to offend anyone with the British slang title, a knock that few in the U.S. were aware of.

The album--produced by so-called "Douglas Farthing Hatelid" who was actually better known as Chip Douglas, hits the mark completely, and does what it is supposed to do, legitimize the Monkees as a real rock act, as if their legions of fans actually cared about such stuff to begin with.

And like "Sgt. Pepper," to add to the coolness of the whole thing, no tracks were released as actual singles in the U.S. So, like "Sgt. Pepper" after it, to get what was being said, you had to listen to the LP in its entirety.

No, "Headquarters" cannot compare to the sheer magnitude of "Sgt. Pepper," but it stands on its own as a testament to believing in what was right, and its own 50th anniversary, as the predecessor No. 1 album to the Beatles' opus, should not be dismissed.

In their own way, they actually were the voice of the real young generation at time time, and yes, they did have something to say.

Classic Rant #574 (September 5, 2011): Holiday, What Holiday?

Today, September 5, is Labor Day.

Most people have today off.

They have barbecues, go to the beach for the last time during the summer, have cookouts, watch ballgames, and generally have fun.

Not me.

I have to work today.

That's right, I labor on Labor Day.

I guess it's not fair, but my place of business is open today. Not many of us will be at work today, but I will be there.

I can't think of a perfectly valid reason for us to have to go to work today, but we have been told to do so, so we will.

And one of the higher ups at work already told me that we will be working on Labor Day next year, too.

I have been employed by this place of business for nearly 15 1/2 years, and I have worked every Labor Day with the exception of maybe two or three in that time span.

So I should be used to working on Labor Day, but I'm not.

Beyond its true meaning, Labor Day is the unofficial last day of summer.

School starts tomorrow in many places, families are home from the rigors of their vacations, and now it's time to look ahead to Thanksgiving and Christmas (and if you are Jewish like me, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah).

It's not a day to work.

But work I must.

And my wife is working too, as is my dad, so it's not like everyone has off today.

I don't know if the girl in the picture is working today, but she seems pretty relaxed as she celebrates the holiday.

So while you are reading this, sitting at home and relaxing today, think of people like me, who have to work today.

You don't envy me, so I guess I don't envy you.

I guess.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Rant #1,919: Back In the Home Run Groove

The Cincinnati Reds' Scooter Gennett had a game for the ages last night.

Reportedly not even supposed to be in the Reds' starting lineup last night, the ballplayer became the 17th major leaguer to hit four homers in one game in his team's 13-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

What's more, Gennett became the first player in Major League Baseball history to have four homers, five total hits, and 10 runs batted in in a single game.

Thus, Gennett did something that even sluggers like Babe Ruth never did, and that was to get four round trippers in a game.

What makes this an even more amazing feat is that Gennett really isn't a home run hitter, or at least, wasn't prior to this particular game.

Before the game, he had just three homers for the season, although he was having a good season overall at the plate, hitting in the .270 range.

Now, with the four home runs and 10 RBIs under his belt, he has pushed his average over .300, and has seven homers and 30 RBIs for the season.

And for his career, in over 1,600 at bats, he now has 42 homers, so one wouldn't call Gennett a power hitter by any stroke of the imagination.

The sad thing is in this post-steroid era, everyone remains suspect, whether you are Gennett, Aaron Judge, or just about every player.

Are they juiced ... or perhaps is the ball juiced?

Home runs are up this year at this point in the season, and actually, have been increasing since the 2015 season.

There are plenty of theories on this, including that players are bigger and stronger today, good pitching is at a premium, and yes, the rumors about the players and the very ball they hit.

Baseball has stringent anti-PED policies, but that doesn't mean that every PED is detectable. There might be some that aren't.

As for the ball, balls used in MLB also have standards that have to be met, but that doesn't mean that the balls used today are as tightly woven--or not as tightly woven--as those used in 2014, when home runs kind of bottomed out in baseball.

No one is saying Gennett has done anything untoward in achieving his feat, but baseball has been there, done that during the steroid era, and such feats of strength are always going to be questioned from hereon in.

Babe Ruth's "PED" of choice was hot dogs and beer, and other dalliances that legends have been made from; others actually used pills and injections to achieve such feats.

Scooter Gennett is going to have to go with the flow, and there are some people who are going to question what he did.

But whatever the case, what he did was magnanimous, stupendous and unbelievable, and one would hope that everyone could leave it at that.