Monday, November 30, 2009

Rant #141: Getting the Tiger By the Tale

Now that we are all back to work after the Thanksgiving holiday, we can move beyond the mundane topics of the world to discuss something of such pressing concern that I am getting a massive migraine thinking about it ...

So what was Tiger Woods doing running around at 2:30 a.m. in the morning?

Heck, I don't know, and neither do the authorities in the Florida town where all this craziness happened.

Evidently, he doesn't want to talk about it, and doesn't want to talk to authorities about it. He has issued some innocuous statement, but he really didn't say too much, did he?

Gossip mavens claim it had to do with a physical altercation with this wife that erupted over allegations that Tiger was fooling around with a Hamptons party planner. It reportedly got so heated that Mrs. Tiger scratched her husband in the face with her long nails. He ran out of the house, went into his car, pulled out of his driveway, and got into an accident. His wife, ever true to her husband even with negative thoughts about him running through her body, rushed out of the house and pulled him out of the damaged car by breaking its back window.

The golfer's injuries were minor, but his and the Mrs.'s reaction to the police were kind of weird. They refused to talk to the cops, and still do, I believe, but some police action, in the name of charges, is pending.

The more this story goes on without an explanation, the more over-par the whole thing seems. I mean, if you or I have marriage difficulties, we don't broadcast it to the world.

Well, he is a public figure, and with all the riches go the errant shots. His whole life has been seemingly unfolding before us since he made his first national TV appearance--on The Mike Douglas Show, I believe it was--when he was all of three years old and a budding golf phenom, even at that age. He makes big bucks, is as ubiquitous as Oprah, and even people who couldn't give a hoot about golf know his name--like me.

Does he and the wife owe it to the public to divulge what happened that night? I don't think so, but if charges are filed, they will probably have to fess up to some degree.

Now, if he just hadn't run over that fire hydrant ...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Rant #140: The Debates Rage On ...

Had enough turkey?

Now that we are beyond the annual glutton-fest—I am talking as much about the Thanksgiving holiday as I am about the post-Thanksgiving buying frenzy that I have alluded to in the past—now we can move onto more serious matters …

Such as whether you preferred Ginger or Mary Ann, or Dick York or Dick Sargent.

Yes, these debates still rage on 40 years after the fact, and I am here to reignite them. In a world where you have to be politically correct 110 percent of the time, I prefer to go the other way. I talk about anything that strikes me as important, and I really don’t care if people are offended.

So, I must say that I preferred Mary Anne over Ginger on Gilligan’s Island, and even as a kid, I like Mary Ann’s freshness over Ginger’s poutiness. Dawn Wells was the type of girl I wanted to bring home to mom; Tina Louise was the girl I wanted to---

We will leave that to your imagination.

As for the Dick (um, Darren) debate. I much preferred Dick York’s kind of out of control, messed up portrayal of Darrin Stevens on Bewitched compared to the more in control Dick Sargent portrayal of the ad executive on the popular TV show.

Of course, I much preferred Elizabeth Montgomery to both of them, but if I had to pick one, it has to be York over Sargent.

Hey, Sargent York, get it?

Anyway, these debates are more fun than worrying about whether we belong in Afghanistan or not, aren’t they?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rant #139: Reasons To Be Thankful, Part One

As we move right into the Thanksgiving holiday and end-of-the-year holiday buying season, it might be the right time to make public my list of things I am thankful for during the past year.

So without further ado, here is my (nod to Ian Dury) “Reasons To Be Thankful, Part One" (no other parts are planned, but you never know).

They are in no particular order.

I am thankful that Oprah Winfrey has decided to end her gabfest. I really can’t stand her.

I am thankful that Sarah Palin is not our vice president. And I will be even more thankful that she never becomes our president.

I am thankful that the Yankees won the World Series this year. How could I have faced my Met-loving relatives if they had lost?

I am thankful that I have memories of Michael Jackson before he went weird. He was such a good-looking, talented kid—what happened?

• I am thankful that my daughter graduates college next year rather than this year. I wouldn’t want her to go out looking for a job in the market that we are in today.

I am thankful that I have eyesight in both of my eyes. Thank goodness that I took care of my problem when I did, and thank goodness I had extremely competent doctors looking after me.

I am thankful that I don’t rely on my cell phone like so many others do. What did we do before cell phones—we drove, shopped, walked, and did everything with our minds totally on the task at hand.

• I am thankful that I have a good wife who puts up with me. I may not be the easiest person to live with at times, but my wife knows how to put me in my place—gently, of course.

I am thankful that so many of my favorite TV shows of my youth are finally coming out on DVD. Now that shows like “The Lucy Show” and “The Patty Duke Show” are available, how about “Dennis the Menace” and "The Mothers-In-Law"?

Finally, I am thankful that at least a handful of you read my rants every day. It makes me feel wanted.

Thanks again, and have a great holiday. I am taking tomorrow off!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rant #138: Black Friday, Bleak Friday

OK, are you revving up your motors yet?

It's only three days until the day after Thanksgiving, affectionately known as "Black Friday" by retailers, because it supposedly is the day that the volume of business pushes them into the "black" for the year.

Get started, get ready, GO!

Well, not only are retailers so suffering this year that they have had "pre-Black Friday" sales, but the day can be a deadly one, and I am not talking about to retailers' pocketbooks.

Last year, a crowd stampeded a Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, Long Island, and trampled a young man who, because of his size, was sent to the front of the store to maintain crowd control. A couple of thousand idiots pushed the doors down, it fell on him, and rather than help him up, they ran into the store, trampling him.

The holiday frenzy has continued locally even before the holiday. I am sure you heard that some teenage heart-throb was supposed to sign autographs at a store in Long Island's Roosevelt Field Mall, but another stampede erupted, he was sent away, and teenage girls and their moms would have none of that. There were several people hurt and a promoter was arrested for not "Tweeting" that the event was cancelled.

Rather than say that this is a Long Island thing, this type of "horde" shopper is a result of the constant pounding we get, from literally September on, about door-buster deals that the department stores offer customers for the holidays. These idiots (the customers) fall for all the shopping paranoia, and forget about being human in the process.

Who do you blame? Do you blame the stores for trying to get the last dollar of their customers, or do you blame the customers, who are almost hypnotized by these great deals on things they really don't need?

I think it is a mix of the two. Stores offer these deals without a hint of the security needed to corral these animalistic customers, and the customers, well, they just lose any common decency that they have when it comes to getting the "best" deal.

So when you do your holiday shopping this week, remember that you are a human being, and treat people as such. Getting the best deal isn't really that important, is it, when you look at the grand scheme of things.

I usually go before Black Friday--on the day before Thanksgiving--to do my shopping. I simply cannot deal with the rude, arrogant people that have nothing but bargains on their mind on Black Friday.

Shopping should never resemble a WWE bout. So watch yourself during this holiday season--because it is obvious that nobody else is watching out for you.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Rant #137: Why Eye Was Gone

You might have noticed that I did not put up a Rant on Friday, November 20. Let me apologize right from the get go for not doing this.

No, I was not mourning the passage of the "Oprah Winfrey Show";

No, I was not even mourning the end of the "Jon and Kate Plus Eight" opus;

No, I was not bemoaning the fact that Sarah Palin has become a ubiquitous creature at the moment.

The real reason was that I had another one of those infernal eye exams that I must have ever since I had my vision problems several months ago.

What happens is that I go to the eye doctor for these regularly scheduled exams, and my eyes get dilated; dilated to the point where for several hours, I can't see very much. The dilation allows the doctor to more thoroughly check my eyes to see if there is a reoccurence of that vein popping up in my eye.

I have a lot to be grateful for. The doctor once again gave me a clean bill of health, and my eyesight in the bad eye has improved quite a bit.

But I absolutely hate these exams. So much time is wasted, and I can't see correctly for about six or seven hours.

Yes, I did make it to work for a shortened day, at least, but I really couldn't see correctly until about 4 p.m. in the afternoon--and yes, I drove without my normal vision. I mean, how would I get to work if I couldn't drive? By the time I drove, my vision was at about 75 percent, which, based on what I see people do when they drive, is pretty good.

Anyway, now that that is over (for three months) I can resume my normal activities, and that means more ranting for at least the next two days.

Thanksgiving might prevent me from posting a rant, but I will be ranting for a long time after that ...

Eye can guarantee it!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rant #136: Johnny Depp Turns Some People On

Johnny Depp, he of the numerous "Pirates of the Caribbean" films and many other weird and unusual movies, was named People Magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" for the second time.

I am happy for him.

But what does this all mean?

Does it mean that he is the male of the species that every male should epitomize? Is he the guy who sets the tone for all other males? Is he the human being that women salivate over, bar none?

I just don't know. I can't figure the whole thing out myself.

If you saw him in the "Pirates" movies--which by the way, I have pretty much enjoyed, although the third one was tedious--he plays sort of an effeminate clone of the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards, shaking his hips around like a go-go dancer.

Does this turn women on?

How about in "Edward Scissorhands," probably his best movie, where he played a guy with, well, scissors for hands?

I guess he satisfied a female fantasy of a hairdresser that was really into his work.

On "21 Jump Street," he played a young-looking, undercover cop who could blend in with the teen crowd while making arrests.

Well, I guess this turned on the teenyboppers, who have stayed with him even though they are now in their 40s and 50s and have kids of their own.

Whatever it is, Johnny Depp has it. I guess I don't, but I have lots of other things ... like this blog.

Does Johnny Depp have a blog? I do! Heck, I have two of them!

I am sure he will be up for consideration again in the future. He will be doing another "Pirates" film, he is set to play Tonto in a movie version of the Lone Ranger, and, get this ladies ...

He is slated to play Barnabas in the big screen version of "Dark Shadows"! (Please see my previous post on TV shows redone for the big screen--PLEASE!)

Anyway, good luck to Johnny Depp, and I will bet if people got to know me better, I could become People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive"' too.

Hiyo Silver, Away!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rant #135: Leaving Well Enough Alone With Old TV Shows

Why, oh why, has Hollywood not learned its lesson yet?

Why does the industry constantly rehash old movies and TV shows and try to make them new again?

The latest attempt at "contemporizing" a classic TV show just ended its short run, thank goodness.

"The Prisoner" was an update of the classic 1960s British TV series that came over to these shores on CBS as a replacement for "The Jackie Gleason Show" during the summer months.

Patrick McGoohan's original show, which had elements of George Orwell's "1984" mixed in with the then current psychedelia, was actually a continuation of his previous "Secret Agent" (or in Europe, "Danger Man") series. It finds the main character dumped into a world that he doesn't understand, has no idea how he got there, and, of course, wants to leave.

But he can't.

McGoohan was tight-lipped up to his recent death about the whys and wherefores of the series and its theme--including who was the character No. 1--but in the late 1960s, it resonated with viewers, and it stands as one of the great series of that era.

Now, 40 years later, we have the remake, the updating, or whatever you want to call it.

I just call it bad.

Sure, the familiar elements were there: the numbers used instead of names, the questions about why the main character is where he is, and yes, that orb, or ball, or whatever it is, that makes sure that people don't ask too many questions.

Well, even if that sphere is chasing me, I have to ask the question--why?

The original 17 hours of programs captured my and other viewers' imaginations; the update simply was bad, tedious television, a remake of a show that should have never been touched by human hands again.

They tried to expand the plot a bit with the new show, made the main character an American who was estranged from an information-gathering company, used a multi-racial, international cast, put in a few love interests (the mysterious blind woman--I don't know the actress' name, but she is a total knockout), and added the always good Ian McKellan to the cast as No. 2--but it all fell apart by the third episode.

It was a boring, muddled mess, which the original was not.

Why does Hollywood continue to remake their own classics? Although I did not watch the original V, I know that it has been redone, and is currently being broadcast.


Is Hollywood so devoid of original ideas that they have to unearth "old" ones?

Or in this "enlightened" world, do they think they can do the classic original better?

I don't know the reason, but I will tell you, the newest incarnation of "The Prisoner" did not take me captive at all.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Rant #134: What Do You Call the Westbury Music Fair?

I think that most people on the East Coast of the United States have heard of the Westbury Music Fair.

This venue, which has operated since the late 1960s in this town in Nassau County, Long Island, has hosted just about every musical act under the sun, including the likes of Judy Garland, Tom Jones, the Monkees, Jay Black, Ringo Starr, Cheap Trick, the Doors, the Temptations ... it virtually reads like a who's who of pop music during the past 40 years.

It has also had hundreds of the top comics of the day, including Steven Wright, George Carlin, Jackie Mason ... again, a who's who of comedy over the past four decades.

It has hosted many, many other events, such as boxing and wrestling matches, and even numerous high school graduations.

But it is perhaps best known as the venue with the revolving stage. Yes, it moves like a record player turntable while the performers do their thing. I have been to the theater many times, and I have seen many, many performers lose their bearings and not know where they are as the thing moves. Some performers have in their contracts that they will not perform with a revolving stage, such as Aretha Franklin. Others learn the hard way; I once saw the Monkees' Davy Jones fall off the stage, break his arm, but continue to sing!

The show must go on, even when you are in a daze and hurting!

Although it still operates--and continues to be called by performers as their favorite place to perform--what it doesn't have now is a name.

After going under the Westbury Music Fair monicker, it has been under corporate sponsorship for the past four or five years or so. I believe its last name was the Capitol One Theater at Westbury, or something like that, but it had several names before that.

But Capitol One has not renewed its sponsorship agreement, so the venue is now called The Theater at Westbury or something like that.

Funny, through all the name changes, performers still refer to the venue as the Westbury Music Fair.

While the venue searches for a corporate sponsor, my question is this: if they find one, why can't they keep the name Westbury Music Fair?

I think the reason is that if they do that, their name will get buried, no one will use it, and they will be out several thousand dollars without any benefit from their investment.

For instance, if the place ends up being called "Joe Shmoe Westbury Music Fair," do you think anyone will care about Joe Shmoe? They will just call it the Westbury Music Fair ...

Just like everyone still calls it, even with all the name changes.

I saw my first real concert there, in 1969. It was a Motown Revue with Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Temptations, and Willie Tyler and Lester(!). "Cloud Nine" was just released, and the place was absolutely wild!

I have seen hundreds of productions since then; I even saw Robert Goulet in "Camelot" there.

I have always loved the theater, but to me, no matter what its name is, it will always be to me--and just about everyone else--

The Westbury Music Fair ... and I hope it stays that way, in some form, when they finally find a corporate sponsor.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rant #133: Pre-Thanksgiving Turkey

It is just a few days before Thanksgiving, and I have to admit that I am starting to get the pre-Thanksgiving blues.

I can't wait for this holiday--I am pretty burned out from work lately, and Thanksgiving always serves as a respite from the usual daily cares that I have. And since I get Black Friday off, too, it makes for a nice, tidy, four-day weekend.

The problem is, there are still 10 days to go before the holiday.

Within those 10 days, there is the usual hustle and bustle of the work week, the usual things that you have to do at home, and all of that, for me, is piled around another of my endless eye examinations to see if that rogue vein that was growing in my eye has been obliterated. I sure hope it has, because it has caused nothing but trouble for me. It came uninvited, and hopefully it has gotten the heck out of my body.

Anyway, this Thanksgiving will be a little different for me, because my sister and her family will not be celebrating it with us. They are seeing some relatives on her husband's side of the family that they have not seen in years, so they won't be at our Thanksgiving meal. I think it is the first time ever that I won't celebrate the holiday with my sister, but so be it.

My daughter also won't be there, as she will be celebrating the holiday with friends once she comes back to our area from school.

My wife invited over some friends, so with my parents in tow, we will have a good gathering.

Up until then, I guess I just have to grit my teeth and make it through the next couple of days.

I think I can do it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rant #132: Gearing Up For the Holidays

Well, I simply can't stand Christmas ads and promotions even before Halloween rolled around this year, and I still can't stand them when we are still about two weeks away from Thanksgiving.

That being said ...

Evidently, some information has leaked out about Target's upcoming Black Friday--the day after Thanksgiving--promotions. They will be offering $3 appliances, and a 32-in. HDTV for about $250, among other things.

This is all understandable. Last year, department stores took a real bath when it came to the holidays. The economy was really bad, lots of people were out of work, and the department stores felt something of a backlash from the public, who simply didn't want to overspend--like they normally do--around holiday time.

This year, the economy is still bad but improving, lots of people remain out of work, but department stores figure they have nothing to lose by offering amazing deals to get people into their stores.

And this is the time of year where they make the largest percentage of their profits for the year, so it is pretty much on the heads of the department stores to do something drastic to get people buying again.

Target isn't the only retailer who will offer ridiculous deals, I will tell you that. Don't you think other stores, like Macy's Kohl's, Kmart and even Wal-Mart are shaping up their holiday assortment to get people to reach into their pocketbooks (or wallets) again?

Me, I am looking to buy another computer for my wife, who is increasingly finding reasons to go onto the two computers we already have. Maybe I will get her a netbook, but I can tell you, I won't buy something like this unless the price is right--and I have the ready cash at hand. No charging for me this holiday season.

I have already bought my son Beatles Rock Band, and I would like to get him some of his passions, which are wrestling videos. He loves all of them from WWE and TNA, and they are generally affordable, although I noticed that WWE has raised the price of some of its videos by as much as $5. This is just stupid business, because people like me will cut down on the videos that they buy because the price isn't right.

My daughter always asks for money for the holidays, and money she will get. I would like to give her a good amount, but again, it depends on what level of ready cash I have.

Then there are my parents, who are people who have everything, but love it when I find something that they don't have. The search is on!

There are some other gifts for other people that I need to buy, and that shouldn't be a problem. I personally like to shop before Black Friday, because I hate the crowds during that day. And since I am generally shopping for Hanukkah, and not Christmas, I usually have a shorter time span to get what I need. This year, Hanukkah begins at sundown on December 11, or exactly two weeks prior to Christmas.

Anyway, happy shopping, grab as many discounted products as you can, but watch your pocketbooks. We are still not out of whatever our country is in here, and overspending, I think, may be a thing of the past for most Americans.

I hope it is for me.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rant #131: Facebook Smackdown

Well, it has finally come to this.

I have taken my son off of Facebook. I think it is a bit too much for him to handle right now, so, to his chagrin, I removed his account.

Of course, you can't fully remove an account from Facebook. I discovered that after I removed his account, I could still access his information. In fact, I could start him up 1-2-3 again if I wanted to.

But I don't.

The problem is, as I have said before, that Facebook is being used incorrectly by the 14-year-olds of the world. They use it as an instant messaging service, and when they post something, they demand a reply quickly. If anybody interrupts this flow, they attack that person unmercifully, which is what happened to my son time and time again.

My son is a good kid, but I think he was in way over his head with Facebook. He got attacked left and right, even though his messages were not nasty in any way.

The major drawback with posting messages on Facebook and even through email is that you don't get the nuances you get when speaking to someone face to face or even on the phone. Some people took my son's messages to be something that they were not intended to be, and this led to numerous problems.

So last night was the last straw, and my wife and I pulled the plug on Facebook for him.

Look, we are not stupid. He can get on it again. We explained to him why Facebook was not a place for him to visit, and warned him that if he did, and we found out about it, he would face some type of punishment from us--probably taking his computer away for good.

My son is a good kid as I said before, but he is not a kid that is going to benefit from being on Facebook. So we took him off, and hopefully, he won't exhibit the anxiety that he has since he first got on and during the past few weeks.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rant #130: Good Luck, Kareem

Kareem Abdul Jabbar's public admission that he has been battling a rare form of leukemia really set my mind going.

Here is an athlete, arguably the greatest player in National Basketball Association history, admitting that he has cancer.

We often think of our pro athletes as indestructible. Nothing can get to them, they are infallible, they are perfect ... of course, this is hogwash, but we do think of our athletes this way.

And then something like this happens, and it brings us down to earth.

Athletes are as much human beings as we "non-athletes" are, and since cancer does not discriminate in who gets it, athletes can get it just like us common folk.

With Jabbar, the former Lew Alcindor, he said he felt funny, was getting cold sweats and had other symptoms that worried him and he was checked out, only to find that his worst fears were realized. He has a rare form of leukemia that is highly treatable, and doctors say his prognosis is good. Jabbar even says that the regimen against the cancer even allows him to eat his favorite Thai foods on occasion.

He is optimistic, and that is very encouraging.

And we should be too, not just to see him recover, but to understand that cancer can hit anyone at any time. If it can hit Jabbar, it can hit anyone.

Let's hope Jabbar's recovery is a quick one, and that advances in cancer research leads to a cure for this dreaded disease, if not in my age group's lifetime, then certainly during my kids' lifetime.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rant #129: Something's Happening Here ...

Something is happening, and I am trying to put my finger on it ...

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly killed 13 people at the Fort Hood, Texas, military installation last week.

Authorities are investigating whether suspected serial killer Anthony Sowell may have committed his murders as he moved around as a member of the military from 1978 to 1985.

U.S. Army veteran John Allen Muhammad is set to be executed today for the murders he committed as part of the sniper killing spree in fall 2002.

Does anyone see the pattern that I see here?

All of the above murderers and alleged murderers were military men, with Hasan the only one of the three still in the military when he allegedly committed his acts of violence.

This is scary. We train people to go to war, but for whatever reason, they go to war on American soil, fighting their own private battles.

I know that the military is looking into the stress disorders that have plagued thousands of service members. In fact, at Fort Hood, there has been a high incidence of spousal abuse and other infractions related to war stress.

You have to ask yourself if everyone who goes into the military is truly ready for what awaits them.

Let's be honest about it. Some go into the military for the right reasons, but some go in for the wrong reasons: they are running away from something, they have nowhere else to go, etc.

Does the military really need the latter group? Do they need people in their ranks who are in the there for the wrong reasons?

You would think that some psychological testing would be mandatory before accepting anyone into the military ranks, but I know that is something that is more difficult to do than it appears to be.

What about the service member that is fine going in, but has problems that turn up as he or she serves, which appears to be the problem that Hasan had?

I guess there is no foolproof way to guard against this. The only thing the military can do is to offer psychological services to its service members--and their families too. One without the other is counterproductive.

And it can also do a better job in weeding out those who can't handle the stress, the constant movement, and the overall military life. It didn't do it with Hasan, but it must do a better job in the future, or the Fort Hood situation might happen again elsewhere.

Let's hope the Fort Hood incident is an isolated one, and that those that need counseling get it, and get it fast.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rant #128: USS New York Welcomes the World

The eyes of the world were on New York City the past week.

First, the Yankees won the World Series on Wednesday, and had their ticket tape parade in the Canyon of Heroes on Friday.

But the real heroes--the real All-American heroes--did not take a back seat to any of this, as the USS New York was commissioned on Saturday after docking in New York last week.

The simple majesty of this ship is breathtaking, but even more so because of what it represents.

The ship represents New York City and our country post-9/11, the determination that we have to let nothing stand in our way, to pick ourselves up, even after the tragedy of those horrible terrorist attacks of eight years ago, and say, "We're not going to take it."

Not only is the 684-foot, $1 billion ship — built by Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding-Avondale Operations in Louisiana — the Navy’s newest landing platform dock (LPD) warship, but it is noteworthy for its link to or nation's “War on Terror.” Its bow stem includes seven-and-a-half tons of steel recovered from the mangled remains of the World Trade Center's twin towers, buildings which were destroyed during the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

Based on its link to history, the ship employs the motto "Strength forged through sacrifice. Never forget."

Today, I had the pleasure of visiting the ship, and writing about its ship's store--the mini convenience store that provides a "taste of home" for the hundreds of crew members who call this ship home. I had to go through the bowels of the ship to get to the store, and I must say, it is very impressive--I got a view of the ship that the public doesn't get, and I am grateful to the Navy and the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) for enabling me to visit the ship.

If you have not yet visited the ship, it is open to the public for a few more days. After that, it heads back to its homeport, Norfolk, Va., and then it will be directed for whatever use the Navy has planned for it.

I would say, if you could, get down and see this ship. It is truly breathtaking.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Rant #127: More Random Thoughts

Once again, there are a couple of subjects I would like to discuss which really don't deserve their own rant, so here goes:

Military Psychiatrist Allegedly Kills 12 In Assault at Fort Hood, Texas: It is bad enough that we feel the need to send soldiers to some of the most treacherous spots on earth to defend these wretched places, but when one of our own servicemembers decides to make a military base a war zone, you really have to sit up and take notice.

This guy obviously snapped when he heard he was going to be deployed, and isn't it ironic that he is a psychiatrist? I guess it takes one to know one.

The thing that I don't understand is that the government was well aware that this person might be a risk; he had posted some thoughts on the Internet that were being monitored. Why didn't they nip this thing in the bud and do something to prevent such a situation before it happened--and they were going to deploy this idiot yet!

I just don't get it. Sorry, I just don't.

Rihanna Reflect On Her "Selfish Decision For Love": Singer Rihanna, who was brutally beaten by her boyfriend, singer Chris Brown, several months ago, said on "Good Morning America" yesterday that she still had feelings for Brown, but "When my selfish decision for love could result in some young girl getting killed, I could not be easy with that part. ... "I could not be responsible for telling them 'Go back.' If Chris never hit me again, who's to say that their boyfriends won't kill these girls. ... I just didn't realize how much of an impact I had on these girls' lives until that happened. It was a wake-up call for me, big time."

No Rihanna, you are still asleep. This self-serving quote just goes to show that while she certainly didn't deserve the brutality that Brown inflicted on her, it is a good thing this girl can sing, because I wouldn't want her advising my daughter on male-female relationships.

Please, get your own house in order before you worry about others in the Rihanna Nation.

Obama Win Doesn't Help Many Democrats This Time Around: While not every Republican won their respective races on Election Day this year, enough did win, showing that the voting patterns brought out by the Obama victory last year generally didn't transfer over to this year.

Obama's candidacy galvanized so many people to vote who hadn't voted before--including younger voters and minorities--that the Democrats probably thought that they could do it again this year.

Well, they couldn't, and it just proves one thing: millions of people voted for Obama simply because of his race, not his platform.

He is our President, and I stand behind him 100 percent--I kind of like him and his All-American family too--but let's face it; minorities did not come out in droves this year like they did last year. Look at the New Jersey governor's election. The President actually stumped for incumbent John Corzine, but the districts that were heavily black took a pass on their voting privilege this time around, and Chris Christie won that election.

But you can't talk about this, because it is politically incorrect to do so.

Well, I guess I just have.

Yankees Win the World Series: Well, this did deserve its own rant (and rave) yesterday, but today, more specifically, I would like to address all the sour grapes that have been hurled the team's way since they wrapped this up on Wednesday evening.

Mostly coming from Mets' fans (the Yankees really poor cousins in Queens), they consist of barbs like "the Yankees bought the World Series" and "since they can write checks like they can, they should win every year."

Of course, I expect this of Mets fans, since the team has only won the World Series twice in the team's 47 years of existence and had an absolutely horrible, injury-filled season this year in their brand new stadium which was criticized for not highlighting the Mets or their history, but please, give me a break with the economics lesson.

Not only do the Yankees spend lots of money to fortify their team each year, but so do the Dodgers, Red Sox, Phillies, Angels, and yes, the Mets too.

But it is more than money that makes a great team, it is heart--and the 2009 Yankees had a lot of it. They never quit, never looked at the score and gave up. Sure, having stars is great, but you have to have the right mix to win. The Yankees didn't win since 2000 (when they beat the Mets, natch), and they spent plenty of money in the intervening years to win, but those teams just didn't have that magic that this year's team did.

And let's remember, the Yankees beat an equally talented Phillies team in the World Series. The Phillies (as Mets fans know but probably won't acknowledge) are a great team in their own right, so the World Series was certainly not the haves versus the have nots.

So, Mets fans, pay more attention to your own checkbooks and enjoy the parade today.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rant #126: It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This (Finally)

Well, I would think by now that the world would know that the New York Yankees won the 2009 World Series by defeating the tough Philadelphia Phillies by a score of 7-3, and thus winning the Series four games to two.

This has been a long time coming for the Yankees and their fans. Since they last won the Series in 2000 (against the Mets), they have been in two World Series (2001 versus the Arizona Diamondbacks and 2003 versus the Florida Marlins) and lost them both.

In 2004, they were also up three games to none in the League Championship Series versus the Boston Red Sox and lost four games in a row.

And let's not forget that last year, they didn't even make the playoffs.

This is the Yankees' 27th World Series win, more than double the next team down from them in World Series wins. I think the next one down is the Cardinals, who have 10.

What made it extra sweet for me is that my favorite player, Hideki Matsui, had a monster game, with three hits--including a home run--and six runs batted in. He can't speak English, but this guy can sure hit.

Andy Pettitte once again proved why he is the biggest of the big game pitchers. If you watched the game, he was running on adrenalin, and little more. Roughly half his pitches were thrown for strikes, which usually means trouble, especially when you walk five batters. But he was able to get out of jams with his baseball smarts. In fact, he won all three clinching games for the Yankees in the playoffs.

The parade down the Canyon of Heroes is set for Friday. Although I won't be there--like most of you, I have to work--I will record the parade and watch it later.

I know it will send chills up my spine, as did the game yesterday.

Look, I don't get a pay raise if the Yankees win the World Series. I don't get a new car, and I don't get a new house. That being said, what I do get is satisfaction. As a life-long Yankees fan, every time they win, I feel as if I am part of it, even though in reality I am just watching them do their thing.

Baseball is our greatest sport. It is the only sport that can make people decades from their Little League experience into little kids again. As I was watching the game, I felt as if I was 10 years old again.

Anything that can make you feel young is good.

Baseball is the best, and the Yankees are the kings of baseball for 2009.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Rant #125: Cyber-Bullies Beware

Bullying has been around for generations. There are always kids who are going to pick on other kids for whatever reason. And sometimes, those kids being picked on fight back, and sometimes not.

When I was a kid, there was another kid, Russell (I won't use his last name) who was a bully. He taunted a couple of us when we were seven or eight years old.

One day, I had had enough, got in a fight with him, beat him up, and that was about it. Later, he was in my classes, and he became if not a good friend, then at least an acquaintance.

Of course, we were older then--and I was about two heads taller than him too.

Anyway, let's proceed to the modern day ...

Yes, there are still bullies who do it the traditional way. They taunt those they think are weaker than they are, make fun of them, and do everything to upset these unfortunate recipients of their venom.

But today, there is a new type of bully--the cyber-bully--who does his or her work online.

It usually takes place on one of those social networking sites like Facebook. I have seen it happen, because my son has been a victim.

Everything is pretty open on these sites, and people use them for different reasons.

I have seen a lot of younger people using these sites as something of an instant messaging service. They send out a message, looking for a quick reply from the person they are directing their message to.

If anyone interrupts them--well, I can tell you that there are a lot of 14-year-old "sailors" out there.

Others simply belittle a respondent because they don't know him or her, and that person has gotten into their group through a mutual friend. I have never read such filthy replies in my life.

And the kid that gets back such a response feels like garbage--much like the victim of the traditional bullying, but perhaps this is worse, because the bully victim isn't face to face with the bullier.

Facebook does little or nothing to those that are acting as the bully. I reported one person, but at best, I think that person only was suspended from using the service for a few days. My son and I have found her (yes, a girl) up on Facebook again after about a week to 10 days of her not being there.

As with traditional bullying, nobody takes responsibility for the action. And nobody ever will on these sites, even if it leads to the one being bullied feeling ashamed and humiliated.

We, as parents, can only do one thing: we can try to fight back.

Like I said, Facebook does little or nothing to the bullies. About the only thing you can do as a parent is to listen to your kids when they tell you about any bullying tactics being used by other kids that is directed to them. Report the bully to Facebook--they will ask you what the offending message was--and see if they do anything.

And impress upon your kids that they are not to respond to these bullies. A response simply propels them to put up more venom.

Believe me, the sites themselves won't do much. It's like the wild, wild west out there on these sites, and nobody wants to take responsibility.

So you have to grab the bully by the horns and do it yourself.

Kids are going to go on these sites, so you can't bar them, because they will go on anyway.

The best thing to do is monitor these sites yourself. If your kid tells you that another kid has said something vile to him, see what it is, and then do the best you can with it.

As a parent, I personally feel powerless to do anything else.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rant #124: Please Vote

I know that this is not what one would call an "election year"--it certainly is not when compared to the country voting for President last year--but it is important that everyone gets out and votes today.

So many people take being a citizen of this country for granted, but one of the few things that you really should do to show your love for this country is to vote, even in an off-year.

Sure, looking around the country, there are some hot races. In my neck of the woods, Mayor Mike Bloomberg is running for his third term, skirting the term limits initiative that is in place in New York City.

John Corzine is running a hotly contested New Jersey governor's race against Chris Christie, where Christie's weight has been used by the Corzine camp against his opponent. Mud has been slung on both sides, and the last poll I saw had them running neck and neck.

There are some others, but yes, it is mostly a quiet year compared to what we had last year, when Barack Obama won the Presidency.

That being what it is, I think it is your civic duty to vote. I know, you say they get you for jury duty off the voting rolls. That may be true, but that is your civic duty too.

I know so many people who don't vote. They don't think they know enough about the candidates to make a good choice, they say, it is too time consuming, and they don't think their vote counts.

I say "poo" to that. One vote added to thousands of other votes equal a lot. If you don't know about who is running or the issues, get a newspaper and read up on it. As for time, the polls are open all day. I was there at 6 a.m. this morning. You don't have to do that, but you can do it, and do it after work if you need to.

So get out and vote. Do it for yourself, your family, your kids, and your country.

Yes, I know that is kind of pollyanna-ish, but it is something I have done since I was 18 years old--I have never missed a vote, during election years or non-election years.

It is an easy duty to fulfill, so go ahead and do it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Rant #123: Halloween Is A Scary Holiday Now

I don't know about you, but I find Halloween to be one of the scariest holidays going. I am not trying to be funny about this; I just find the whole holiday, and how it plays out in our modern society, to be pretty creepy.

Kids dress up in costumes as they have for decades, but things are different now. Parents bring their kids to the doors of people that they know, and even if a house is decorated for Halloween, parents won't let their kids go there unless they know the people in the house.

Just the fact that parents are involved with Halloween sends shivers up my spine. This is a kids' event--why are parents at all involved?

It's because our society has gotten creepier as the years have gone by. What was once a relatively safe occasion has become one where caution is the top treat, not candy. You just can't let your kids go where they might want to go anymore, because there are a lot of people out there who consider Halloween their time to be idiots. They don't have to dress the part at all, it is based on their behavior and how they treat the kids who come to their door.

No, it's not safe anymore.

Look, I walked my two kids to doors around our neighborhood on Halloween. I found that you really have to be careful. Not only are some of the houses you go to filled with real-life ghouls. but drivers don't seem to be very cautious either. They drive as if the street was theirs, throwing caution to the wind.

When I was a kid, you had to be careful, too, but I don't think that you had to be that careful. Sure, you would get the occasional apple with pins in it (my sister did, as I recall), but parents could let their kids go it alone, and I think people were just more into the fun aspect of the holiday than they are now.

Sure, we bought costumes, but what did they cost, a couple of dollars? Today, Halloween is a multi-million-dollar industry in itself.

I think the whole problem is that Halloween has been co-opted by us adults. It is now as much our holiday as it is our kids' holiday, and you know what, that is wrong.

I know this rant has been written after Halloween, but I just wanted to see what happened this Halloween and make my observations.

And no, I haven't changed my opinion.

In fact, we left a bowl of candy out on the step, and my son, who is too old to go out anymore, saw two girls take the whole thing for themselves, leaving nothing for anyone else. Happily, we had some more candy on hand, but I am telling you, this type of behavior would not have happened in my day.

Boo on them, and boo on those that have made Halloween into what it is today.

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