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Friday, March 24, 2017

Rant #1,869: Let's Work



OK, I am going to admit something to you that I haven't talked about lately.

I do exercise.

Yes, I really do.

The last time I went to my doctor--very early this year--he told me that the results of my physical were really good.

I was happy about that.

Everything that was supposed to be at a certain level was at or below that level, my heart was fine, my blood pressure was excellent, my cholesterol--which I have to look at closely because I am borderline higher than normal--was lower than it had been, my circulation was good, and generally, for a guy pushing 60, I was in good shape.

However, my weight was still a bit out of whack. And I knew it was going to be that way, because quite frankly, I like to eat.

I eat when I am happy, I eat when I am sad. I eat when I am elated, and I eat when I am frustrated, which, of course, I am now with my job prospects.

I don't know if I overeat, but I do eat, and sitting all day at my job does not help.

Being that as it is, my doctor said that I should do some moderate exercise at least five days a week, like walking up and down the stairs and doing a few pushups.

With his blessing, I decided to do just that.

I walk up and down the stairs here at the stairs at home 10 times--which equals out to 20 times up and down the stairs, since we are talking about up as well as down.

Then right after I do that, I do five pushups. I am sure I don't do them correctly, but after getting pooped out from walking up and down the stairs at a vigorous pace, I give as good as I can possibly do.

All of this takes around five to 10 minutes, and rather than do it five days a week, I do it seven days a week.

During the workweek, I do it in the morning before I leave for work, and after I write this column and read the newspaper.

On the weekend, I do it when I can based on what we are doing. I often do it in the afternoon or perhaps in the late morning if I can find the time.

I have been doing this on a daily basis now, and I would be lying to you if I told you that I feel good physically doing it.

Mentally, yes, I feel good, but physically, my legs ache when I do this, in particular my left leg and knee.

It goes away in a few minutes, but it does ache when I am doing my stair climbing.

I have noticed that I am a bit stronger in the lower part of my body, which I guess is good.

Honestly, I have never been against exercising; I have simply been against exercising for me.

I find it boring, and I still do.

But if the doctor tells me to do it, I will, and I have for the past couple of months.

I don't think my waistline is any slimmer, and I still eat, a lot of times too much over frustration.

That is the area I really need to improve in, but I give no guarantees about that.

It appears that eating is my refuge.

I would not call myself fat, or even pleasingly plump, but yes, I do need to lose a few pounds.

So for the time being, I will continue to walk up and down the stairs and do my pushups, but happily, the stairs are not by the refrigerator.

Speak to you again on Monday, and have a good weekend.

Classic Rant #523 (June 10, 2011): Crazy From the Heat



It's only June 10. The summer is officially 11 days away.

It's hot, and lots of New Yorkers are being effected by the heat.

The Weiner thing remains hot. Now we hear that his constituents don't want him to resign.

Man, are New York City voters the dumbest in the nation? Remember, these same voters put Michael Bloomberg in the mayor's office for three terms, and now, all of a sudden, they complain about him. What about his previous two terms?

Maybe it is the heat. Yesterday, it pushed 100 degrees with like 101 percent humidity here.

People do get crazy from the heat. I guess Weiner's constituents have already reached that point.

Or they just adore his body parts.

It was so hot in New York yesterday ...

"How hot was it?"

It was so hot that a free concert by the Black Eyed Peas was cancelled--and people complained about it.

With violent thunderstorms hitting all points of New York, the show was cancelled. It was supposed to have drawn upwards of 60,000 people.

Although there was a threat of thunder and lightning, as well as violent winds, people complained when the show was cancelled due to the weather.

I guess those people are the same people who think Weiner should stay in office.

Yes, people do get crazy from the heat, and perhaps no one gets crazier than New Yorkers.

I don't know why, but they do.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Rant #1,868: Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours


Vending machines are incredible creations.

Basically, they are robots that deliver various foods and other products simply by accepting our cash, and then giving us what we want.

There are vending machines of every make and model. There are machines that deliver candy and snacks, and there are others that deliver even full dinners.

There are vending machines of yore, that you don't see anymore, that vend cigarettes and cups of soda that used to seemingly always turn upside down, with the soda going all over the place.

But now, I have found the ultimate vending machine, a huge contraption that delivers as All-American a product as one could find.

Cars.

That's right, automobiles, wheels, crates, whatever you want to call them, there is now a vending machine that vends cars to the public.

And where else to find this thing but in Texas, where it appears that everything really is bigger.

Houston is home to the nation's--and probably the world's--largest, fully automated, coin-operated vending machine, which stands eight stories and holds up to 30 cars in four delivery bays.

And the company that created and runs this thing is known as Carvana, which markets its product as "a better way to buy a car."

I don't know about that, but it is pretty interesting.

Cars are purchased online, and when buyers click the "buy" button, they have a choice: either have the car delivered directly to them or pick it up at the vending machine.

And yes, this is a vending machine. It can only be activated by using an oversized "coin," which like in other vending machines, it inserted into a slot in the machine.

Once the coin is inserted, the car is retrieved for them, moving through the vending machine much like a can of soda is delivered in a more traditional vending machine.

Actually, this concept has been around a while, with the first machine actually operating in Nashville, Tenn., one that is five stories high and can hold up to 20 cars.

Honestly, beyond the unique delivery of the car, I don't see the benefit of getting your car this way, but for the truly adventurous, I guess this gives them an extra thrill.

I don't know where vending machines can go from here, but in due time, I am sure some enterprising company will develop such a machine to deliver even something more magnanimous ...

How about insert your coin and get a full-function house delivered right into your hands?

Classic Rant #522 (June 9, 2011): Weiner Roasts, Scandal Toasts


Yes, it is back to the Weiner roast.

A lewd photo that is allegedly that of Rep. Anthony Weiner has surfaced, and Democrats and Republicans are basically agreeing for the first time in memory: this guy has got to go.

But he steadfastly refuses to resign.

Now, we hear that Weiner's wife is pregnant.

It all brings up the title of the old Clash song: "Should I Stay or Should I Go."

I am sure Mrs. Weiner is pondering this subject as I type this. Is it better to be with or, or be without him, especially since an innocent child is going to be thrown into the mix?

I am not defending Weiner, but it is almost hilarious how when a man is down like this, all these people come out of the woodwork to chastise him.

Some of his Facebook and Twitter friends have surfaced, but the latest one is perhaps the saddest.

A woman he formerly dated for a brief period--and who has stayed in touch with him as a friend (and I mean a real friend, not an electronic one)--has come out of whatever hole she was in and said how disappointed she was in him.

She has gone into somewhat lurid detail about various things he might have said and done, while in the same breath praising him for always being there, helping her parents in times of need, helping her when she needed assistance, etc.

With friends like this, do you really need enemies?

Weiner has now become "Entertainment Tonight" fodder, and I am sure this is turning on a lot of potential future Facebook friends of his. I can't see any other reason for this to be happening.

Weiner is supposedly going to do some damage control. I heard a report this morning that he was going to hire a team to repair his image.

Heck, Bill Clinton--who did far worse than Weiner, and he was the President, yet--has survived, because he has tapped into people's selective memories.

Why can't Weiner do the same?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Rant #1,867: Palisades Park



Chuck Barris, the creator of numerous game shows, hit songwriter, star of "The Gong Show," and supposed American spy during the Cold War, died yesterday.

He was 88 years old.

It is hard to pin down just exactly what Barris was, because as you can see, he wore so many hats.

Although he was probably most famous as the host of "The Gong Show"--most obituaries list him as its sole creator, which is incorrect--he personified what television was in the 1960s and early 1970s, at least on the game show level.

His most famous shows under the Chuck Barris Productions monicker--"The Newlywed Game" and "The Dating Game"--could only have been created in the 1960s, when you had to talk around certain subjects, not talk directly about them, and the main subject on these shows was, ta da, sex.

Today, you can speak about just about anything on TV, but back then, with the censors hounding your every move, TV had to be more creative, and on these two shows in particular, sex had to be handled very carefully. Thus, the term "making whoopee" became a popular phrase all over again, in particular, on "The Newlywed Game," even more ubiquitous than Bob Eubanks' "hurry please" phrase to meandering brides and grooms.

And Jim Lange on "The Dating Game" had to be something of a cop when things were moving in a more sordid direction on that show.

These shows were so popular that not only did they have five-days-a-week versions on daytime TV, but they also had nighttime versions and syndicated versions.

With numerous revivals and replays of the original shows, both of Barris' most famous game shows will probably last forever on TV.

And then we have "The Gong Show" ...

This show was actually the creation of Chris Beard, one of the writers on "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In," who took the show's "New Talent" segment--whose most famous participant was Tiny Tim--and expanded that segment to a half hour show.

Originally featuring another host--I believe his name, if memory serves me correctly, was John Barbour--Barris wanted a true comedic feel for the show, thought his original choice as host was too stiff, and took on the reins himself--and made the show one of the funniest, off the wall shows in TV history.

It also ran afoul of the censors quite often for what it did show as opposed to what it couldn't show, made national stars of Gene Gene the Dancing Machine and Jaye P. Morgan (all over again for her), and not only had an impressive daytime and syndicated run, but also spawned a film.

But Barris was more than just a producer of popular game shows, not all of which became iconic--remember "The Generation Gap"?--he was also a one-shot songwriter who had a hit with his self-written "Palisades Park" tune, with Freddy Cannon scoring one of the biggest hits of his career with the song about the New Jersey amusement park--and he was also a spy ...

Or he at least wanted you to believe that.

In his book and the subsequent movie of "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," he claimed that all during his years of TV success, he was a CIA assassin.

Most people would write this off as just another "game show moment" from Barris, but this guy was so creative that you almost had to believe him--

Almost.

Whatever the case, Barris' life was an incredible one, filled with more ups and downs than any roller coaster at "Palisades Park" could ever hope to muster.

He was, at the very least, one of the most creative minds ever to hit the TV medium, and he will be missed.

Classic Rant #521 (June 8, 2011): Today's Your Birthday



Now that the Weiner thing is all over the place, I thought I would break away from that dumbness for a few moments and let you know that two talented people celebrate their birthdays today.

Although the two people are still vibrant today, the only thing they really share is that they came of age--and into our notice--during the 1960s.

Don Grady, the talented kid actor and musician on the "My Three Sons" TV show, and Joan Rivers, the groundbreaking comedienne, both were born on this date, in 1944, and 1933, respectively.

Grady, whose real last name is Agrati, actually came on the scene in the late 1950s as one of the stars of "The Mickey Mouse Club," then segued over to "My Three Sons," one of the most popular TV sitcoms of all time. It ran from 1960 to 1972, first on ABC, then CBS.

Originally, Grady--as Robbie Douglas--played the kid we could most identify with, the middle child who meant well, but always got into trouble.

Then, as the show matured and casting changes came into play, Grady became a straighter arrow, and followed in the footsteps of his dad Steve (Fred MacMurray) as the leader of his own family of three sons (triplets).

After the show, Grady remained active behind the scenes as a composer and singer, and he has put out a number of CDs. He wrote the theme to the long-running Phil Donahue program.

Rivers, who real last name is Molinsky, was one of the trailblazing female comics of her day, along with Phyllis Diller, Totie Fields, and a few others.

She talked about the American experience as the Jewish wife, or the Jewish experience as an American wife. Whatever way it was, it was funny, and her numerous appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show" cemented her popularity.

She rose through the ranks, and eventually was one of Johnny Carson's replacement hosts when he took off for vacation, which was pretty often.

She had her own talk show, which rankled Carson, and after the suicide of her husband, she reinvented herself as a fashion chronicler, along with her daughter, Melissa.

Two more disparate personalities you couldn't find, but they do share the same birthday.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Rant #1,866: Look Through Any Window



Once again, people who should know better have been stung by this behemoth called the Internet.

And they call foul yet.

Two female professional wrestlers--who go under the names of Paige and Summer Rae--have had nude photos of themselves put out on the Internet by hackers who knew how to get into their phones and grab these images and videos.

Evidently, they were put up over the weekend, and the ladies are crying foul about how they have been violated by the breech.

In Rae's case, topless images were hacked, but in Paige's case, much more revealing fare was taken off her phone.

Not only do these include fully nude images, but they also include her participating in intimate acts with not only herself but two other male wrestlers, one who is still employed by the company and who goes under the name Xavier Woods. The other wrestler, an ex-WWE grappler and official, rounds out the threesome.

Rae has been a minor attraction in the women's division, while Paige was at one time a major star, a former Diva's champion, but who has fallen on hard times lately, failing two drug tests and mending herself from various injuries.

Where this leaves the two women--and for that matter, former tag team champion Woods--is another matter, as they do have morale clauses in their contracts, but in terms of privacy, when are these people--and others--going to understand that whatever images you have of yourself, once they are on your phone, your tablet or your computer, they are fair game for hackers that know how to get them if they want them?

You might remember that several months ago, there was an even higher profile hack of famous actress' electronic devices, including images of actresses such as Jennifer Lawrence.

They all cried foul, too, but didn't they realize that once you put stuff on the cloud, it is open to anyone and everyone with the know-how to get them?

Look, what a woman--or a man--does in private should be their business. If they want to pose topless, if they want to record sex acts, that is their business, but if you hold this stuff on your phones, or you put it on the cloud, it is easy for the taking.

Don't these people know this already? How could they not?

But once again, those who are involved with this blame the hackers, and claim they were violated.

Yes, they are partially right, the hackers are to blame for leaking this stuff out.

But the women are also to blame, for being stupid about the whole thing.

When you put something on your phone or the cloud, the potential is great that the stuff is going to get out one way or the other.

It is like they put these things up on a public billboard, but didn't expect that people would actually look at the billboard.

How stupid can one be?

Common folk have also been the victim of such hacks, and it seems that people do not learn from the experiences of their predecessors. This thing happens every day, but when it happens to higher profile people--usually women--others take notice.

But sorry, I have to blame the women almost as much as the hackers.

I am not blaming them for what they did, but I am blaming them for their ignorance.

Yes, the Internet remains the wild, wild West, and for these women not to understand that ...

I could say they got what they deserved, but more to the point, I hope that they learn from this experience, that others learn from this experience, and people become more careful with their personal effects in the future.

The sad thing is that that is pretty much a pipe dream.

More people will be victimized by their own ignorance, you can bet the ranch on that.

Classic Rant #520 (June 7, 2011): Weiner Cooked


In a press conference that resembled a roast, Rep. Anthony Weiner admitted to posting and sending suggestive photos and messages from his Facebook and Twitter accounts.

This became massive page one news not just in New York, but around the country.

How could a legislator destroy his career with this obsession?

Many people are book smart, and Weiner certainly is one of those people.

But often, when people are book smart, they are lacking in other areas.

This guy has no common sense at all, and I mean none.

Here is a relatively young guy, in his 40s, sending around pictures and messages that maybe a 14-year old would dabble in.

It's bad enough when a 40-something guy does this, but it is much, much worse when he is a legislator, voted in by the constituency to uphold the law.

And to lie about it for days, well, we have had plenty of lying politicians--do we need another one?

Weiner shot himself in the foot by doing these things.

He was a rising star in the Democratic Party, and was likely going to run for the mayor of New York City once Mayor Bloomberg's tyrannical run is over.

He was also becoming better known on the national stage, as the was vociferous in his approval of the Obama health care program, and on other national matters.

Now, because of his electronic addiction, he probably will simply be labeled as another politician who crashed under the weight of his own demons.

And we have had so many of them lately. Look at John Edwards. And how about Bill Clinton and Ah-nold?

Weiner should have known better. On top of everything else, he is a newlywed.

Go figure.

He will now be investigated for any misuse of power while sending pictures of himself around to some of his "friends." If he used any government-issued devices while doing this, he could be censured.

But what of his constituents? Do they want a guy like this representing them?

He is now a national joke, a punchline to comedians' one liners.

I would think the people that voted him into office would attempt to move him out of that office.

Weiner vows to stay on and not resign.

Would you want this guy representing you?

He can't even control himself.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Rant #1,865: Rock and Roll Music



"Another way to say 'rock and roll' is to say 'Chuck Berry.'"--John Lennon

I know I probably did not get his quote exactly right, but even in paraphrasing in what he said, I think Lennon was spot-on when it came to Chuck Berry and his contributions to what became known as rock and roll music.

Berry died this weekend at age 90.

If Elvis Presley was rock and roll's first bonafide star, Berry was its first bonafide songwriter.

His best known hits, including "Maybelline," "Johnny B. Goode," and "Rock and Roll Music," truly were the seminal songs that rock and roll built its foundation on, and while numerous clashes with the law kind of derailed his career from being an even greater one, those tunes were the foundation by which others built their own musical legacy.

"Chuck's Children," as they became known to be, including such stars as the Beatles, Beach Boys and Rolling Stones, and they took what he gave them and expanded upon those building blocks into something even he probably could not have foreseen.

Presley was its first star, but Berry wielded much more influence on the music he helped to create by being a songwriter.

And he also wielded influence as a performer. Although certainly not as charismatic as Presley, who can argue that his duckwalk set the standard for all rock and roll performers from that point to eternity?

Berry's chart career began in 1955 and lasted until 1972. During that period, he placed 27 songs on Billboard's Hot 100, and two singles placed on the Bubbling Under chart.

As well as the aforementioned songs, his hits--among the building blocks of rock and roll--included "Roll Over Beethoven," "School Day," "Sweet Little Sixteen," and "Carol."

He also has nine albums on Billboard's albums chart, with only one LP, the "London Sessions" collection, breaking the Top 10.

In fact, Berry had just one number one hit--the double entendre-filled "My Ding-A-Ling," which hit the top spot during the height of the rock and roll revival era, in 1972.

But his influence was still being felt to this day, with every rock and roller of any note knowing Berry's catalog of hits inside and out.

A movie about his career, "Hail, Hail Rock and Roll," was released in the 1980s, and portrayed him as a surly person, hard to get along with and one who believed all of his press clippings, and wanted you to believe them too.

Whether it was a fair portrayal or not, it kind of defined Berry for the rest of his life, one where he worked well through his 60s, 70s, 80s and through his 90th year.

Recently he proclaimed that he would be releasing his first album in about 30 years this year, with little other details about the recording.

If it does get released, it will now be done posthumously, because the real king of rock and roll is gone.

"Hail, Hail Rock and Roll"--R.I.P., Chuck Berry. You done good.

Classic Rant #519 (June 6, 2011): Sweet 18



Today is my 18th wedding anniversary.

I don't take such celebrations lightly, but today is a work day, and my wife is working late, so I won't see her until past 8:30 p.m. tonight.

We did go out with our son to Chinese food on Saturday night. It wasn't that great, but I guess it could have been worse.

What can you do?

I remember the day very vividly, June 6, 1993. It was windy as all hell, and we had an outdoor ceremony. Everything was blowing over, and I thought the kids that were there--my two nephews at the time, and my daughter--would blow away.

My soon-to-be wife was radiant. She wore the most beautiful wedding gown. She was smashing, to say the least.

All of our families and friends were there, including my mother-in-law, who was gravely ill. She lived to see her daughter married, and she had a great time for the short period she was there. She passed away just a few weeks later.

I was very excited to get married, and remember, this was my second--and I avowed my last--time. I thought I finally found the right girl to marry, and I was right. Eighteen years is a long time, but it is just one-third of my life and my wife's life, just to put it into perspective.

I really wish I would have met her earlier--even a year earlier. But the past 18 years have been the happiest of my life.

We have had an excellent marriage. We are pretty much on the same page on most things, although we differ on others, which makes it interesting.

She is a moody person, wearing her feelings on her sleeve, while I basically go with the flow, although I do get upset at times.

She likes spicier food, I like food that is delicately seasoned.

She likes an occasional beer, I like lemonade (and before my operation, soda).

She hates basketball, I love the game.

I also turned a former Mets fan into a Yankees lifer. She finally turned the corner when she became a Scott Brosius fan, and she has never looked back.

And we produced a son who is going through lots of growing pains as a teenager. But he will turn out all right.

She is the stepmother to my daughter from my first marriage. Although my wife doesn't get to be a stepmother very often, when my daughter is back home, she fills the role as best she can.

The bottom line is that I love my wife, I really do. She is intriguing, perplexing, mysterious and interesting, and the bottom line is that I am nuts for her.

We met on a blind date set up by one of those old fashioned dating services, pre-Internet or electronic dating. They basically asked me "what" I wanted, and they delivered.

She is half Italian, on her mother's side. She looks like Adrienne Barbeau, sort of, but she really doesn't, but that is how she described herself to me on the phone when we first chatted before we met.

Lucky me. Yes, I am a real lucky guy.

Nothing against anyone else, but I have the best wife in the world, bar none.

I love my wife, and I can't wait for the next 18 years ... or even the next 180.

It should be fun.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Rant #1,864: Celebrate!



Today is a very special day for the Irish, and actually, everyone is Irish today.

It is St. Patrick's Day, and it is on a Friday, which I think makes it extra special for those who imbibe as part of their celebration.

It is a fun holiday, but it is a holiday that has had its ups and downs over the years.

Here is my March 17, 2011 Rant about the holiday. I said it well then, and although I have edited some things here, I couldn't really say it any better than I did back then, so here it is once again

"Today, March 17, is St. Patrick's Day.

It's a real big deal in New York City, always was, always will be.

The parade is the big deal, and every politician worth his salt will be a participant in this parade, no matter what their political or ethnic affiliation is.

Today, everybody is Irish.

However, in some years, the parade has been used as a political tool, banning some from marching the parade.

I know that gays are banned from marching in the parade if they are affiliated and representing a gay faction.

That being said, the parade has turned into a lovefest between New York City and its deep Irish heritage,

But let me tell you, it wasn't always that way.

I can remember in the 1970s and early 1980s, the parade--and the entire holiday--got completely out of hand due to over imbibing and drug use.

I remember the days when I worked in Manhattan, that you really were taking your life in your hands on this day.

Using the Long Island Railroad to get to work, the ticket takers were drinking from morning to night, and they were allowing anybody to drink wherever they wanted on the train, even in sections where you weren't supposed to drink and smoke. On this day, the train smelled like a sewer.

Once you got into Manhattan, you had to push your way through hordes of people starting to line up for the parade, many of whom began drinking at 8 a.m. or earlier in the morning. I worked right off Fifth Avenue on 40th Street, and take it from me, between the beer and the pot, it was a mess.

Once the parade started, you had to be really careful. I remember that I couldn't even walk out of my building, because of all the public drunkenness that was displayed by both men and women. I recall that one time, I tried to get out of the building, but a young girl was throwing up her guts on the sidewalk right in front of my building's door, blocking my path with her body and her excrement. I stayed in for lunch that day.

My father, as a New York City medallion cab driver, hated to work on this day. He picked up so many drunks, his cab smelled like a bar, and I remember him telling me that one time, a parade reveler jumped on top of the hood of his car as he was waiting at a light near the parade route.

But over the last 30 years, the city has cleaned up the parade, figuratively and literally. You don't see the scenes I described anymore. People are generally well behaved.

So stay sober this St. Patrick's Day. You will enjoy the festivities more with a clear head."

This year, the main thing that the city has to deal with is the snow that was left over from the storm earlier this week.

They have been working day and night to clean up that mess from the parade route, and I am sure by this hour, everything is clear.

Have a happy and safe day, please. Have a good weekend. Speak to you again on Monday.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Classic Rant #518 (June 3, 2011): Taylor/Burton On Big Screen?


The fascination the world continues to have about the love affair between actors Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton might find its way onto the big screen.

Reports are that a movie based on the book "Furious Love", about the twosome's love affairs, marriages, and divorces, might be in the works. Martin Scorcese is supposedly involved in this possible project.

Heaven knows what sense making a movie of this stuff makes for Paramount, which hopes to have this film under its monicker, but speculation is already rampant about who will portray the luscious Taylor and the boozing Burton.

All the studio has to do is to come to me. I can help them out with some suggestions. Here are the positives and negatives of these suggestions:

Natalie Portman: A fine actress, but way too skinny--and young--to play Taylor.

Angelina Jolie: See above.

Brad Pitt: Might be a decent choice, but he would have to wear lots of makeup to approximate Burton.

George Clooney: Another decent choice, but he is way better looking than Burton ever was.

Tom Cruise: No way. The guy can't act, never could, and his last couple of movie bombs show that he may be on the short side of his career right now.

Pamela Anderson: No, sorry, too phony and no talent at all (no, not even there--they're fake!).

Jennifer Anniston: The most overrated actress in Hollywood. She's too skinny, too.

Ah-Nold: The former governor would have to trade his Austrian accent for a British one. He may have had the lines that made Maria and that other woman swoon, but it won't work here.

Anthony Weiner: Way too skinny, and it isn't proven yet whether he has some problems that go way beyond his congressional district.

Jane Lynch: A good actress, but she is, well, too ... manly? Nah, she wouldn't be a good Burton either.

Beyonce: What did Michael Jackson use to make his skin color look lighter? Nah, it won't work here.

Donald Trump: I can't image it, and he would have to do something with his hair.

Derek Jeter: I think Minka Kelly might mind.

Minka Kelly: I think Derek Jeter would mind, especially if he wasn't cast as Burton.

My wife and I: Nope. She could definitely pull off Taylor--she has the look and the build--but me, nope, I don't have the hair and I don't drink, slap around my wife, or fool around with other women.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless ...

Rant #1,863: Tuesday, Bloody Tuesday

Yes, Tuesday was a real humdinger, as we were promised over a foot of snow and ended getting about a half foot of slush.

But at the very least, many of us did not have to go to work that day, so I guess you have to take the good with the bad.

Me, I did my due diligence--yes, I shoveled and cleaned up what I could--and then I went back to my comfy bedroom to watch television.

As I often do when I have some free time--usually on the weekend--I watch some movies from the 1940s to the 1970s, the era that I like the most for celluloid treats.

To me, after that span, movies became the same thing over and over again, with a lack of creativity covered over with gobs of special effects and little more.

(No, not every movie from the 1980s, 1990s and the 2000s has been bad, but due to a number of factors, I really have kind of lost my interest in current films.)

And I prefer what used to be called "grindhouse" movies, films that would generally fill out the bottom of the bill in double feature houses and lesser movie theaters, as well as drive-ins.

I just find these films so fascinating, because of their story matter--often as turgid as can be--and what they showed versus what they did not show, depending on the era.

The first film I watched is a Herschel Gordon Lewis film, and although many of you won't have the slightest idea who he was, he was the master of the D-movie, films which promised that you would see things in these movies that you wouldn't see in mainstream fare.



"The Gore Gore Girls" was the name of one of his last films and if it was his final film, Lewis went out with a bang … or a chop, or a tenderizer, pick your poison.

It concerns a bunch of strippers who are getting offed by a crazed killer. A smooth private detective is hired to investigate the case, and he pairs with a comely, and sexually charged, newspaper reporter to uncover just whodunit.

A bunch of no-name actors populate the film, there isn't much nudity but plenty of bloodshed--including the ripping open of heads, backsides and elsewhere with blood spurting all over the place--and one name attraction is in the film, none other than Henny Youngman! He plays the owner of the strip joints where the dancers are being removed, one by one.

The film has sort of a trick ending, but if you listen closely, you will figure out who the killer is pretty much halfway into the movie.

Yes, this movie is pure trash, but for a 1970s splatter movie--it was actually released in 1972, but looks like it could have been actually shot a year or two or three earlier--it never takes itself too seriously, and is at times as comedic as it is hard to stomach.

The other is a much, much better movie from an earlier time period, where you really could not show very much of anything, but the suggestion was surely there, and almost as vivid as seeing the acts themselves, due to strong writing and acting.



Yes, this is another grindhouse film called "The Sadist," starring one of the great non-stars of that era, Arch Hall Jr. This actor/musician was in a number of films financed by his father, trying to make him into the latest heartthrob teen sensation. The ploy never worked, but this film might be the best of the movies trying to accomplish this.

Based on actual events--the saga of Charles Starkweather, who went on a killing spree with his girlfriend just because of the kicks he got from murdering people--the story has been remade at least twice since the 1963 original film, in "Badlands" and later in "Natural Born Killers," but neither of these was better than "The Sadist."

Hall plays the young "sadist" who gets his kicks from knocking people off, and he and his somewhat mute girlfriend meet upon three teachers--one women, two men--whose car breaks down on some back road as they are traveling to see the Dodgers play the Reds at Dodger Stadium.

They go looking for help with their car--the fuel pump has died--and they basically roll into this abandoned service station. No one is around, and things immediately look amiss. One thing leads to another, and they meet up with Hall and his girlfriend, and all hell breaks loose for the next 90 minutes, as the older teacher is murdered, along with two police officers, after the shooter had already shot the owners of the service station.

The two teachers who are left try everything they can do to get loose, but nothing works.

I won't give away the ending, and I won't snake around it either. It is pretty neat.

A standout in the film is the female teacher, played by Helen Hovey. She is prim and proper in the film, but looking at her some 50 years later, she could have been a Playboy model. She has that look and figure, and actually did a fine job acting in this film.

Doing a little research on her, this was her only film, which she disavowed any knowledge of when, right after the shooting of the movie, she found God. She supposedly never talked about the film, except to those close to her, and even then, she knocked it and wished she wasn't in it and that it would just go away.

And Hall is superb as the young killer. I will bet he could have become a star in the later 1960s if he would have remained as an actor--as an antihero, in the Peter Fonda/Dennis Hopper vein--but he found other callings, including writing.

Sure, it is slow in spots, and yes, there are plenty of insinuations rather than actually seeing what they are speaking about, but all in all, this film was a great surprise.

So with two films under my belt on that dreary Tuesday, I consider the day not one that was wasted at all.

Classic Rant #517 (June 2, 2011): Calling a Weiner and Weiner


Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) has found himself in a pickle of a scandal here in New York.

The politician--who had been a rising star in the Democratic Party and had his sights on running for New York City mayor as a stepping stone to higher office--has been accused of sending a lewd photo, via his Twitter account, to a college student in Seattle.

However, he denies sending the photo, saying someone hacked into his Twitter account and did the dirty work. He also denies knowing the woman he supposedly sent the photo to.

Now, more is coming out about this case, as Weiner admits that he doesn't know if the photo is of himself. "You know, I can't say with certitude," he told reporters yesterday. "Certitude?"

It is quite possible that he did get hacked. But where did the hackee get this photo, if it is, for certain, of Weiner?

And why is Weiner taking such pictures anyway, if it is him?

Weiner has painted himself as an outspoken Democrat, ranting and raving about various policies affecting New York City. He is well known on the political scene here.

He recently raised some eyebrows when he, a Jew, married a Muslim woman who is an aide to Sen. Hilary Clinton. How could a Jew marry a Muslim? Was this a true marriage, or a marriage of convenience?

That is really no one's business, but an elected politician sending a college student probably half his age a lewd photo via the Internet is everyone's business.

I am willing to give some slack to Weiner. When he was a toddler, he lived in my old neighborhood, Rochdale Village. I will give slack to anybody who went through that experience.

But what happens if Weiner actually did send the photo? What does that say about his moral character?

And how can he say that he doesn't know if the photo is of him?

If Weiner did, in fact, send the photo, he should really come clean about it. The longer any doubt persists, the more damaging it will be to him.

And if he did send it, his political aspirations may have come to a halt.

But that might not be so bad for him. He can still make tons of money--look at what happened to New York's former governor, Elliot Spitzer, who did far worse than anything Weiner might have done, by engaging prostitutes on taxpayer's time and money.

He is now doing well as a talk show personality, and he has even talked of getting into the political arena once again.

So, if Weiner sent the photo, he should come clean now.

His name has already replaced Spitzer's as a catchphrase in these parts.

Be a winner, Weiner, and do what is right.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Rant #1,862: Buchemia, the Magic Country



The snow has come and gone, and I guess we had what amounted to a free pass yesterday.

I shoveled the walk, dug out my car, and yes, when I was at my computer, I continued to look for a new job.

The job search is going absolutely nowhere, and yes, I am a bit down that it hasn't led to at least some possibilities.

But the talk of snow in the previous Rant has led me to think back several decades, to when I was a kid and I loved the snow, to times that I really relish and will never forget, times that I think about to bring me up when I am down.

I am thinking about all the fun times I had growing up in Rochdale Village, South Jamaica, Queens, a stomping ground to top all stomping grounds in my life.

My mind wandered lately, and I got to think of my last days there, and I thought, for the first time in many a day, about something called "Buchemia."

There was some talk about this on Facebook recently, but I thought today--with all the snow around--would be a nice time to introduce many of you to what Buchemia actually was, as I remember it--and I probably forgot a lot of stuff attached to it too.

If I remember correctly, Buchemia was a mythical kingdom that I thought up--perhaps with the help of others--related to Barry B., a classmate in eighth grade when I was going to I.S. 72, what would today be called a middle school but back then was the neighborhood's junior high school. I don't recall why I was influenced by him to create such a mythical kingdom, but I give him the credit for sparking my mind to create this thing.

In the mythical land of Buchemia resided a being called Flinky. I am sure that this was somehow influenced by Gumby, but again, I don't remember the whole thing about either Buchemia or Flinky.

We had certain classes, and certainly during lunchtime, when the whole lot of us were together, and I guess we were bored stiff, and we used to waste good lined writing paper drawing pictures of Buchemia and Flinky.

We had a Buchemian president, vice president, and all the other top governmental officials, which were, of course, us, all the participants in the creation of Buchemia. One day you could be the president, the next day the vice president, etc. It was a very fluid experience.

But we drew up pictures of Buchemia, including the map of the land of our creation, and heaven knows where those picture are today. If I could find them, that would be some hoot to look at 45-plus years since we created them.

And the national anthem of Buchemia was the old Sunmaid Raisins theme song: "Sunmaid Raisins, Sunmaid Raisins, for the fastest energy, in the west" is how I think it went, or something like it.

And that is pretty much all I remember about Buchemia.

I do remember that it was fun to do, and we used to pass around what we had done with it in the middle of class and during lunch break.

I guess it was a way for bored minds to keep everything moving inside of our heads during down time, but it was fun.

I think Buchemia died when we graduated I.S. 72 and went our separate ways, but one of my Facebook friends--a member of our group way back when--brought it up a few weeks ago on the social media site, and it was something I had not thought about for decades … and as I said, I cannot remember too much about it other than what I told you.

Kids have such fertile imaginations, and the group I hung out with certainly fit that description to a T. We were all pretty bright, and the things we thought up were pretty brilliant and interesting, too.

I just wish I could remember more about Buchemia, and perhaps one day, I will hunt around for anything I can find about this mythical country that we created.

Boy, it would be so much fun to find even one piece of paper where we devoted some time to Buchemia.

Youth may be wasted on the young, but no, I don't consider my youth a waste, not in any way, shape or form.

Long live Buchemia!

Classic Rant #516 (June 1, 2011): That Explains It


You know how you are driving somewhere, minding your own business, when out of nowhere comes a car that is doing one of the following:

a) cutting you off
b) tailgating
c) going from lane to lane with reckless abandon
d) not moving when the light changes
e) either going too fast or going too slow
f) driving in two lanes
g) not using directional blinkers when making turn or moving from lane to lane

Invariably, I find that in today's world, most people who are driving cars that do this are talking on their cell phone while behind the wheel, which in my area, at least, is illegal.

Now I know why these imbeciles are so reckless--their brains are being affected by constant talking on their cell phones.

According to the lead report on CBS Evening News last night and through a news item widely available on the Internet, an international panel of scientists claim cell phones are possible cancer-causing agents, putting them in the same category as the pesticide DDT, gasoline engine exhaust and coffee.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer made its judgment after it reviewed dozens of published studies. The agency is an arm of the World Health Organization, and its assessment now goes to WHO and national health agencies for possible guidance on cell phone use.

Classifying agents as "possibly carcinogenic" doesn't mean they automatically cause cancer and some experts said the ruling shouldn't necessarily change cell phone habits.

In 2010, the results of a large study found no clear link between cell phones and cancer, but some advocacy groups contend the study raised serious concerns because it showed a hint of a possible connection between very heavy phone use and glioma, a rare but often deadly form of brain tumor. However, the numbers of those who suffered this malady were miniscule, and that is where the case was looked upon as invalid.

However, to me, the latest ruling suggests that people using cell phones are already doing damage to their brains.

They don't think correctly, have no conception of what they are doing, and aren't thinking straight.

Yes, I would say their brains are being affected by something, and it certainly isn't common sense.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Rant #1,861: White On White



Yes, the snow is coming down, although not nearly as badly as it was predicted to be falling by all the doomsday weather forecasters.

It is bad enough that my wife and I do not have work today.

My son's place of business is open, but it is bad enough that we cannot get him there, so he is taking an unpaid day off.

I hate the snow, I really do.

You want to know how much I hate the snow?

I hate the snow as much as I hate … chicken.

Yes, that is how much I hate the snow.

What does the snow do? It comes down, sits there, and disrupts everything.

But it does not sit there for long, because I have to shovel the stuff, break my back to remove this stuff, and it is getting harder to do as a get older.

As a kid, snow is something magical, wonderful, and it must be experienced as a kid to fully understand the reasons why young people love the snow.

Building snow men is fun; building piles of snow that you have shoveled off your sidewalk is not fun.

Snow is for kids, as much as Trix cereal is for kids.

Sure, we can eat the cereal, but it is not good for us.

Sure, we can experience the falling snow, but it is not good for us, either.

And to get rid of the snow, we put stuff down on the ground that can't be that good for anything.

The salt, the lye, the other stuff, it eats away at our infrastructure, and when it gets splashed on our cars, it rots the car's framework.

And when snow sits around for awhile, it loses that pretty white luster and turns all kinds of colors, and it is not so pretty to the eye.

The snow also makes people crazy. People run out and buy milk and bread, as if they won't be venturing outside for about a month.

How can the milk and bread placate you during a snowstorm or blizzard?

And people drive crazy in the snow, not understanding that this stuff can cause accidents.

Many people drive with completely reckless abandon; others drive at the speed of a less than brisk walk.

Stay off the roads during a storm, and when you can drive again, really watch what you are doing.

I never could understand that.

In fact, I cannot think of one good thing to say about the snow, and I have thought hard to come up with something.

It simply does not please me at all, so I absolutely hate it when it snows.

The only adults that like the snow are those that have their shoveling done for them, and even these people must have their heads examined.

Unless you are a skier, any sign of snow is a warning from Mother Nature that she is all powerful, and should not be messed with.

I hate the snow. Period.

Classic Rant #515 (May 31, 2011): Busting Up Over Paralegal


Leave it to the New York Daily News to find this story hiding under a rock somewhere ...

A Chicago lawyer is saying his opponent in a small claims case is using his paralegal's large breasts to distract the jury.

Attorney Thomas Gooch, who is representing a car dealership, filed a motion last week asking Judge Anita Rivkin-Carothers to force the opposing lawyer's buxom assistant to sit in the audience, rather than at the plaintiff's table.

Gooch (yes, that is his real last name) said his opposing lawyer, Dmitry N. Feofanov, is using Daniella Attencia to draw the attention (get it Attencia-attention) of the jury away from the proceedings.

Feofanov insists that Attencia is his paralegal, and he needs her for his case.

Gooch, on the other hand, thinks that she is just there to show off her ample bosom, and isn't a paralegal at all.

"Personally, I like large breasts," Gooch was reported to have said. "However, I object to somebody I don't think is a qualified paralegal sitting at the counsel table -- when there's already two lawyers there -- dressed in such a fashion as to call attention to herself."

Feofanov said he's got paperwork to prove she's legit.

Evidently she has been paid as a paralegal before, but Gooch said that even though she has been paid as one, it doesn't make her one.

(The photo I used today is totally unrelated to the story. It is the cleanest photo I could find related to the search "busty lawyer.")

I don't know about this one. Just because a woman has an ample figure, does that preclude her from working on a law team?

On the other hand, if you see how some women dress today--even to work--with their you know whats bouncing and hanging out all over the place--don't you think the woman, or even the lawyer she is working with, know what she is doing?

There are scant few pictures of Attencia on the Web (rats!), so I can't judge for myself.

But again, should a woman's ample figure bar her from court proceedings?

All who believe that probably believe that a woman like this was born to do porno films, and that is it.

On the other hand, if her ample endowments are on display in the court, wouldn't you say that is wrong too?

Personally, I don't want to be Solomon here, making the breast, err, best decision about this woman and why she is in the courtroom.

But I think that Gooch should get her eyes of this woman's breasts and back to his legal briefs. (And keep on his other briefs, while he is at it.)

I'm sure his client would want that from him.

As for Attencia, well, let's see more of her on the Web. Then we can judge for ourselves what's going on.

C'mon, more Attencia on the Web.

Please.

(The latest wrinkle in this case is that Atencia is actually Feofanov's wife! Stay tuned, this might get more interesting!)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Rant #1,860: Looking For a Game Unit



In preparation for the blizzard we are supposed to have tomorrow, my wife, son and I went out on Saturday and looked for a video game unit for my son.

I know that for my son, this is equally as important as getting the snow shovels and salt ready for the mother of all storms that we are supposed to get tomorrow, so we went about looking for the latest, greatest game unit for him.

Nintendo Switch came out on March 3, and it promptly sold out in minutes. From what we heard, many stores then received a second shipment of the unit on March 4, and then, that was that. They have not heard from Nintendo since, and they don't really know when new units will be available.

The Switch is a little different than other gaming units, as it is played on your TV at home, and then, if you are in the middle of a game but have to do other things, you can take the detachable screen with you and continue playing the game apart from the TV-attached unit.

Anyway, we went from store to store in the afternoon, and no one has the Switch, no one knows when it will be coming in, and it appears it is another instance of gamesmanship by the video game manufacturers, who only release a certain number of new gaming units at a time to pique the interest of the public to the max.

I remember that my family got caught up in this mania several years ago, with the release of Nintendo Wii.

My son wanted this gaming unit more than anything in the world, and I went with him from store to store looking for this thing. 

There were rumors that certain stores had it, and we would be there before the store opened, and found that these were only rumors, and the store had nothing.

And it wasn't just us; we always met others who had heard the same thing, and we waited with them, only to be disappointed when we found that the rumors were just rumors.

We traveled all around in search of the Wii, and finally, after months of looking, we got one of only two such units that one store had.

Now, we are in the same situation with the Switch, and I have already told my son that there is no way that I am going to go through the same thing again--we are both older, and quite frankly, I don't have the patience I once had for such situations.

When we got home, we even went on the Internet, and nothing was found there either, other than people selling this gaming unit for ridiculous prices on eBay, some double what the unit actually retails for, which is $299.99.

My son would probably pay whatever was asked--he is paying for this thing this time around with his own money, money he earned at his job--but I won't let him pay exorbitant prices for something that will probably be passe in a few years, when the next latest and greatest gaming unit comes out.

It just isn't worth it.

He will get the Switch sometime down the line, but I guess he will have to wait for it.

In the meantime, let's get those shovels ready, because we are supposed to have a real winner of a day tomorrow.

Classic Rant #514 (May 27, 2011): Well, I'll Be



This was a strange morning in the blogosphere.

As I always do, I collected myself and had a decent topic to talk about as I attempted to enter this blog.

However, Google pulled a fast one on me this morning. I could not get into this blog.

No matter what I did, I couldn't get into the blog. I even changed my password, but to no avail.

I looked into the blog during various times of the day, but I was till prevented from entering.

Now, at past 10 p.m. New York time, I have finally been able to do what I wanted to do with this blog.

However, what I wanted to talk about will have to wait.

Since I wasted a day today, I might just post something on Monday, which is a holiday. Usually I take the holidays off from the blog, but I might do something on Monday.

So, if you looked for something from me this morning and found nothing, no, I wasn't sick, I wasn't not near a computer, I did not forget.

Google did something, which I still haven't figured out.

I wasn't the only one who had trouble this morning--someone actually sent me an email through Google Help--but I did try.

Have a nice holiday, and I might actually see you back here on Monday.

If Google allows it.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Rant #1,859: Mama



My allergies are not good today, my bones ache and after a few days of ridiculous warmth, we are supposed to have a couple of inches of show fall on the ground today,

Yes, it feels like a typical late winter day in my neck of the woods.

But tomorrow, March 11, is a special day in my family, as my mother celebrates her birthday.

She is turning the ripe young age of 86.

And if you know my mother, you know that the operative word is "young."

She gets around more than any other 86 year old on this planet, and she also puts to shame people a quarter of her age who complain and complain about nothing.

My mother does not let anything gets in her way. She has a purpose in life, and if that purpose is anything mundane like shopping, or something more important, like taking care of her grandchildren, then that is what drives her.

She is like a steamroller going over wet tar.

My father--who is a few months younger than my mother and recently celebrated his 85th birthday--is a more laid-back type.

If he had his druthers, he would pretty much read the newspaper and watch TV all day long.

My mother does not allow this situation to happen. She pushes him to do things, to move around, to get out and accomplish things. That is how she always was, and always will be.

She is in constant motion, and cannot sit still. There is always the next challenge, and she dives right into it.

Sure, she probably isn't as spry as she was 10, 20, 30 or more years ago, but don't tell that to her.

She will laugh right in your face.

She doesn't need energy drinks to get around like many younger people do. She sort of has the energy drink built right into her, and needs no outside stimulants to get the job done.

I guess you could call her a driven person. She doesn't wait for others to act, she simply does it herself.

Of course, I love my mother, but I admire her, too.

I am sort of a combination of her and my father. I can get the job done, too, when necessary, but I also love to lounge around and do nothing.

But if I had a choice, I would be more like my mother. I think it is that built in drive that keeps her young.

Heck, she is 86 years old, and she looks about 30 years younger than she really is.

I can't keep up with her. No one that I know can.

She is the proud mother of two kids and five grandchildren.

I hope she has a chance to be a great grandmother, because those kids will experience a complete hurricane of a person.

She doesn't need to participate in marches to demonstrate to the world her purpose in life.

Eighty six years old? Heck, it is just a number to her.

So tomorrow, my family and I will take her out to dinner at the restaurant of her choice, and she deserves so much more from us.

At least she will sit still for once as she enjoys her dinner. It is probably the only time she will stop moving the entire day.

She is this family's bedrock, and we all love her.

Happy birthday, mom, and many, many more.

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

Classic Rant #513 (May 26, 2011): Nothing But Promises, Promises


Did you ever have a song that you can’t get out of your head?

A song that you don’t necessarily like, but it sticks in your brain like peanut butter sticks to bread?

I have been going through this the past few weeks with a song from my childhood that I had pretty much forgotten about, until hearing it on the radio a few weeks ago.

And since hearing it, I can't get it out of my head.

The song is “Promises, Promises” from the 1968 Broadway show of the same name, a production which was written by Neil Simon. It’s from the only Broadway show that Burt Bacharach and Hal David ever wrote the score for. Although I never saw the show, it is supposedly based on the 1960 film “The Apartment,”

The song’s most popular version was by Dionne Warwick, who had a top 20 hit with it when the show was on Broadway. It has also been sung by many others, including Jerry Orbach, in the original Broadway show, Tony Roberts, in the London cast, and most recently, Sean Hayes in the 2010 Broadway revival.

Anyway, I just can’t get this tune out of my noggin, and I don’t know why.

I kind of like the Bacharach/David compositions of this period. They are light, frothy, and have the 1960s mentality written all over them, or at least the pop mentality.

Warwick was their muse, having numerous hits generated by the songwriting duo, including “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” (also from the show) and “Do You Know the Way to San Jose.”

As I said, light and frothy. No psychedelics in these songs.

I have never been much of a fan of Warwick, but in “Promises, Promises,” she puts her voice to good use, using her range well. The song doesn’t seem that hard to sing, but it has its moods and changes.

But that doesn’t explain, why do I have this song in my head like I do?

I have never seen the play in any incarnation. But, my parents did, way back when, and my mother was the type that after she saw a show she liked, she would head to the record store to buy the recording.

I still have that recording in my record collection, with Orbach warbling the tune.

Well, whoever sings it, I have it in my head—but again, it wasn’t there before I heard the tune on the radio a few weeks back.

I figure that it must be stirring up some memory that I just can’t pinpoint right now.

Or maybe somewhere in my memory, I just remember my mother playing the LP on our Hi Fi, and the memory was released when I heard the song again.

But whatever it is, it is driving me nuts. I often find myself either humming the song or singing some of the lyrics when I am walking the dog, and let me tell you, I am no Dionne Warwick, and I am not even near Jerry Orbach, either.

Maybe I need to look into my inner soul to find out what is going on in my brain.

I promise myself to do this … there I go again with this “promises” thing again.

I must be losing it …

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Rant #1,858: Look Through My Window


Today is March 9, the 68th of the year (the 69th day in leap years).

Since it is the 68th day of the year, I thought I would look back at 1968.

On March 9, I was still 10 years old, ready to turn the ripe old age of 11 more than a month later.

I was going to the new P.S. 30, a newly constructed school on the grounds of Rochdale Village, South Jamaica, Queens.

Since I was 10 years old, I was in third grade, and I had Mrs. Johnson as a teacher.

(I can't even remember what grade I was in in 1968--I think it was third grade, it may have been fourth, but whatever the case, I am going to talk about third grade today, because for whatever reason, I remember more about it than fourth grade, where I had one teacher after the other after our original teacher left us in the middle of the year.)

Mrs. Johnson was a bit of a tough teacher. She preached excellence, and if you couldn't reach her level of excellence, you heard about it from her.

She also preached performance.

One time, we were learning about the different directions--north, south, east, west, northeast, southeast, southwest, northwest--and I just could not get it at all.

So what did she do? She embarrassed me by putting me, in front of my fellow students, in the middle of the classroom, and read out the different directions, and I had to point to the proper direction, and she would not let me sit down until I got them all right.

That is not part of today's curriculum, and would be frowned upon today, but back then, you could get away with such stuff, and I got my just desserts. I did not sit down until I got all the directions right, and I must have been sweating a bucket standing in front of the class like that.

And to this day, I have a hard time with these type of directions--my sense of direction is still pretty bad--so sorry, Mrs. Johnson, whatever you did to me did not work.

She required that we purchase an expensive hard-cover dictionary--I remember, it cost about $20 and back then, that was a lot of money--and a lot of people complained, but she wanted us all to be on the same page when it came to knowing what words meant, so we had to have that dictionary.

Still, I had really good year in Mrs. Johnson's class.

I managed to get A's in everything, with the exception of two areas that I still don't excel in.

I got two U's for unsatisfactory on my report card, and they were for French and Penmanship.

I was in what was not called but was considered an honors track, so they tried something different with us.

We were given a foreign language in third and fourth grade, and that language was French.

And we were also assigned a teacher who was anti-male, very partial to the girls, and everyone knew it.

Madame Nahames was her name, and she simply did not take well to the boys in our class--and I have heard from others who had her that she was the same way in their classes, too.

She bent over backwards for the girls, but when it came to the male of the species, well, she had no patience.

All the boys in my class detested French, and when she came into the class to teach the language to us, I am sure we just loved it.

We fooled around, didn't listen, and personally, I came away with little from her two years of teaching us French, which continued into the fourth grade.

I remember very little, but we used to get back at her in our own way.

I think "le bra" is "the arm," and we would get back at her by saying that term with emphasis, which used to rile her to no end.

I guess even at that age, in our young male minds we knew that what we were giggling about and what she was talking about were two different things, and it used to get her goat when we would put the extra emphasis on that term.

And as for penmanship, I was never able to write clearly for other people to understand, which continues to this day.

As a kid, I tried, but I could not get it to the point where my writing was legible.

I was one of the kids prohibited from writing with a pen into the fourth and fifth grade, but why they put that on me doesn't make sense, didn't then and doesn't when I look back.

I guess they thought that with a pencil, I could erase something if it was not right, but it was still not going to look right, and the erasing made my page look like it had sort of a writing acne.

And let's not even get into cursive writing … even today, when I take notes, I print everything.

Cursive writing is curses to me, was then, and still is.

My handwriting is still terrible, but I remember that I was taken out of class to learn penmanship, which certainly did not work.

The teacher who worked with me once or twice eventually threw up her hands and said, "Larry, you write like a lefty."

I took that as a compliment, because my father was left handed, so I continued to write like I write ...

And I became a writer to boot. So there!

Anyway, looking back at 1968, for me, it was a good year, a year where I got one step closer to growing up, one step closer to being an adult, but with one foot still into being a kid.

Sure, it was an awkward age, but with the awkwardness came a lot of fun.

I was a kid, with no real worries in the world.

What could be bad?

Classic Rant #512 (May 25, 2011): JFK and the Babe


Today marks two interesting anniversaries.

Seventy six years ago today, in 1935, Babe Ruth hit his 714th, and final, home run of his career.

Although he was best known for his heroics with the New York Yankees, Ruth was a few years separated from the Bronx Bombers. His last home run was hit while he was a member of the Boston Braves.

His 714 home runs was a record that stood for more than 30 years, until Hank Aaron broke it. Of course, Barry Bonds broke Aaron's record, but that is a story for another time.

Twenty six years after the Babe hit his final homer--and 50 years ago to the day--President John F. Kennedy was hitting his own homer. He hit the ball out of the park today in 1961 when he said, "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth."

After that mandate was set, we made that proclamation come true. Although JFK never lived to see it, man did land on the moon, not just once but several times.

Although these two anniversaries really have nothing in common with each other other than sharing the same date in history, JFK and the Babe do share some similarities.

Both were truly larger than life figures.

Both had many rumors swirling about them related to infidelity.

Both died way too young.

With all their faults, both were looked up to by millions, and to this day, people speak reverentially about both of them.

It is amazing that years after their death, they are still in the hearts and minds of the nation.

Is there an American who hasn't heard of each one? Is there an American who can't provide at least one interesting morsel about each of them--even if they weren't around when these two men lived?

Each man signified an era.

Ruth certainly signified the Roaring 20s, when Prohibition was in and the Depression was right around the corner. Ruth did everything in excess, which certainly signified the pre-Depression years of the flappers.

JFK did everything in excess, too, and he signified the move from the plain 1950s to the revolutionary Swingin' Sixties, although he never really got to see how that decade turned out.

You wouldn't think that this poor kid from Baltimore and this rich kid from New England had much in common, but they certainly did.

They also shared and lived one more thing:

The American Dream, and each one of them proved that no matter how you start out in life, with the right breaks and talent, you can live it.

I would like to think that that feeling is still true today.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Rant #1,857: Baby, Would You Drive My Car


This kind of strange story turned up all across media yesterday, so I thought I would bring it to your attention if you missed it.

Lisa Nussbaum, a 38-year-old mom from Monroe, Connecticut, was arrested after not only allowing her 10-year-old son to driver her car through a residential neighborhood, but also putting up videos on Facebook showing this underage driver piloting the car.

The kid (not shown in the photo) had experience as a driver, as since the ripe old age of eight years old, he has been driving ATVs, but driving such vehicles is not akin to driving a car, so his mom was arrested.

And she had the audacity to post the videos of this indiscretion on Facebook, yet.

Would she have posted the videos if he had hit another car, or perhaps even another person?

This thing with the need to expose yourself on Facebook has gotten out of hand, and yes, Facebook is also to blame for not policing its site better.

Sure, they eventually took the video down, but not because they saw what it was and deemed it to be inappropriate and unlawful.

It took the efforts of other Facebook users to alert the police about the incident, not Facebook for perhaps seeing what was going on and doing something about it, like simply removing the video, if nothing else.

But as I have said numerous times, Facebook is like the Wild West, pretty much anything goes, whether you are literally exposing yourself or pledging allegiance to ISIS.

Look, I understand freedom of speech, but with freedom of speech comes responsibility.

On Facebook, nobody has responsibility for anything, and the site needs to better monitor what it allows to be posted, because one day, something is going to be posted and it will lead to a massive lawsuit, which will find Facebook culpable for whatever actions are described in the post and/or video.

The day is coming, only Facebook does not see the iceberg in its path yet. It has upped its security a slight bit, but not enough.

Now back to the mom ...

Obviously, this woman is in clear need of some type of psychiatric help.

First off, allowing a 10-year old to drive a car at all, and through a residential neighborhood yet, shows a complete lack of understanding about the possible consequences of such actions, and certainly a lack of common sense.

And recording it and putting it up on Facebook ... well, you might as well go into a police station and admit wrongdoing directly to the authorities if you are going to do that.

Doesn't this fool realize that she has posted the evidence?

I hope they take this kid away from her for awhile, because then, she will truly have to think about what she did.

Piloting a motor vehicle is no child's play. The kid is way underage. Filming the episode shows a complete detachment to reality. Put the woman away, take away her kid for awhile, and make her think about what she did.

But also look into Facebook, and why they allow posts to be put up haphazardly with little policing of what they allow on their site. Users should realize that you can't just put up anything there for the world to see, but evidently, some people don't know this because Facebook's enforcement is so weak.

End of story.

And end of Rant.

Classic Rant #511 (May 24, 2011): The End of the World ... Postponed



Harold Camping, that idiot so-called preacher who predicted that the world was going to end on Saturday, May 21, has done it again.

He now claims his prophecy was off by five months, as "Judgment Day" will now come on Oct. 21.

Don't you get the impression that this fool is like somebody you hire when you need some service done in your dwelling? You ask him when he is going to be there, and he says, "Sometime between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m."

And also, you have to question this idiot's prediction even more. He said that on May 21 and now October 21, that 200 million Christians would be taken to heaven before the earth was destroyed.

Well, where does that leave me? I guess I am a heathen, because I am Jewish.

This dope was reportedly so upset at his miscalculation that he left home with his wife and took refuge in a hotel.

The scariest thing about this whole thing is that Camping actually has people who believe him--and a lot of them.

Would they have been happy if the world ended? How would they show their happiness?

Were they disappointed that they could still see the faces of their loved ones after 6 p.m. on the supposed end of the world day? Were they disappointed that they could see the faces of their children?

I don't get this whole thing at all, I really don't.

And again, what scares me the most is that this idiot actually has people who believe him.

They are as mentally ill as he is, and the media loves this, they really do. They cover it as if it were as important as ...

Lindsay Lohan's next arrest.

And I am guilty, too, because I have devoted a whole Rant to this jerk and his prediction.

But then again, according to Camping, I can't be saved and I am going to hell anyway.

Or at least I am going down when the world does on October 21.

Mark your calendars--we only have five more months to go.

And it will go really quick.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Rant #1,856: Sweeter Than Sugar


After a long day at work, I came home last night, opened the refrigerator, and I saw two small things in there that made me smile.

There were two bars of halvah, and anytime I see halvah, it makes me smile.

If you don't know what halvah is, let me tell you to the best of my ability, because it is simply hard to describe.

It is a dense candy, very sweet, made from sesame seeds, I do believe. I know that there are other types of halvah around, including one type that is more like a gelatin than a candy, but the type I am talking about is the candy.

It is often marbley, sometimes covered with chocolate, but one you put it in your mouth and chew it, well, you are in heaven on earth.

Certainly, the Jewish community is one reason why halvah has survived the ages. No matter what your affiliation, no matter what your views on whatever topic, I have not seen a Jew of my generation--and earlier generations--that does not love halvah.

Younger generations ... well, many people who are younger simply do not have that affiliation with their own Jewishness, and the foods that define that belief, and I don't know if they are into halvah as older generations are.

But whatever the case, halvah is the ultimate candy, and no, it has no redeeming qualities as a confection.

You do not diet and eat halvah. One bite seemingly adds on weight as quickly as eating a candy bar.

There is no such thing as diet halvah. It would not work.

You never finish a block of halvah. That is not the way to eat it.

Being the fine wine of candy, you take a bite, savor it in your mouth, and while you might take another bite, that is pretty much that.

You never eat an entire piece of halvah. It just isn't done.

I don't know if the manufacturer of the halvah that I like most--Joyva--has ever produced bite-size pieces of the candy, but it just would not be the same if the pieces were smaller.

Halvah is to be savored, and eating an entire piece is like drinking a glass of wine with one gulp.

You might get all of it, but you lose its essence.

I am not one to tout candy. I am not a candy eater, never have been--not even as a child--and never will be one.

But halvah, while a candy, is so much more than that.

It is an experience unlike the experience you get from eating any other candy.

I guess each bite brings you back to another time, links you up with your ancestors--who probably savored this confection more than you do because they had less choices--and it is just so delicious.

Again, I don't know if the younger generations appreciate this candy, but my generation certainly does.

And you can be a non-Jew and love this confection, too.

So the next time you are in a supermarket, check out the selection of halvah that is offered.

Sometimes it is offered in the racks near the checkout area, sometimes, it even is offered in the deli area.

But try it. For first timers, I guarantee that it will at least be an experience that you have not enjoyed before ...

Because there is simply nothing else like halvah, and I do mean nothing.

Classic Rant #510 (May 23, 2011): So the World Didn't End ... At Least For Me



Well, the world didn't end. We are all still here.

It boggles the mind how people can get themselves involved with this, and how they can get themselves involved with that multi-millionaire nut who was promulgating this nonsense.

And, I ask, were they disappointed that the world did not end? Would they have been happy if everything went according to "plan"?

The world did end a day earlier for wrestling great Randy "Macho Man" Savage.

He died in a car accident on Friday. Although the full report is not in, it appears that he might have had some type of "medical episode" while he was driving. One thing led to another, and his car hit a tree, killing him. His wife was in the car, but somehow, she suffered only minor injuries.

Savage WAS wrestling in the 1980s. He and Hulk Hogan kept professional wrestling alive, keeping it on resuscitation long enough to make a comeback and eventually become the worldwide phenomenon it is today.

Savage's first sport was baseball, and he played in the St. Louis Cardinals' minor league system for a while. He was teammates with future All-Star Keith Hernandez during this early period.

But he moved onto pro wrestling, and his flashy personality made him a fan favorite, topped by his televised wedding to his valet, Miss Elizabeth.

Funny thing, in the ring, Savage (real last name Poffo) was flashy as a flash cube, but in real life, he was kind of conservative. In the ring, Miss Elizabeth was conservative, but in real life, she was out of control.

She later died of a drug overdose.

Savage--whose father and brother were also pro wrestlers--stayed with wrestling in the old WWF and later WCW. He achieved even greater fame as a spokesman for Slim Jim meat snacks. His raspy voice went well with those type of snacks.

He was in and out of the wrestling game for the past 20 years, but now he is gone.

My family and I had our own "end-of-the-word" episode at precisely 6:25 p.m. on Saturday.

My wife and I were watching TV in the living room, my son was on the computer in his room.

All of a sudden, we heard an explosion, and we lost all of our electricity ... as did, we discovered, everyone on our block and in the surrounding area.

To make a long story short, a transformer right across the street had exploded, and the air was full of smoke and smell.

It took about four hours, but we did receive our power back after 10 p.m.

Thus, I missed the Yankees-Mets game on Saturday, which the Yankees won. I guess the world didn't end for them, either.

And the world did not end, for us at least.

Did it end for any of you?