Monday, February 28, 2011

Rant #453: The Duke of Flatbush

Brooklyn Dodger great Duke Snider passed away this weekend. He was in his 80s and died 3,000 miles away from his past heroics, in Los Angeles.

Snider was a ballplayer of mythical proportions in New York. If Jackie Robinson was the heart and soul of those great Dodger teams in the 1950s, then Snider was its muscle.

Although the Dodgers moved west to Los Angeles more than 50 years ago, Snider's records still stand--he continues to be the Dodger career leader in home runs and RBIs.

I was born in 1957, so I really never got to appreciate the Duke, certainly in comparison with New York's other two Hall of Fame centerfielders, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. Snider was a bit older than they were, started his career before they did, and probably in comparison, he wasn't as good a player as megastars Mantle and Mays.

But for Brooklyn Dodger fans, he was a God.

He was a star on and off the field, lived in Brooklyn during those years, and was a member of the only Brooklyn Dodger team ever to win a World Series, the 1955 team.

I heard about Snider's passing watching a Yankees spring training game yesterday. I barely remember Snider as a player. When I got interested in baseball in about 1964, he was playing for the Mets, a ragtag bunch of ballplayers if there ever was one.

But the Mets proceeded smartly, especially in a town dominated by the success of the Bronx Bombers, the New York Yankees.

The Mets stunk, but they did it in style.

During those years, they mixed younger ballplayers--most of whom were pretty bad--with seasoned veterans, many from New York's other teams, that were at the end of their careers.

Snider played with former New York players like Don Zimmer and Yogi Berra, and the team was managed by former Yankee skipper Casey Stengel.

They were a horrid bunch, but the fans became enamored of them, and they became the sweethearts of New York. If the Yankees were like GM during those days, then the Mets were like, well, Rambler.

Snider will be greatly missed. He was one of the last remaining "Boys of Summer," and although I barely recall him as a player, he made his stamp on New York baseball.

And he was immortalized in the classic tune "Willie, Mickey and the Duke" by Terry Cashman, an ode to a different time in our lives.

As the Duke moves onto his greater rewards, I know Brooklyn, the place of my birth, is shedding a collective tear today.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Rant #452: Charlie, Charlie

I think the war between Charlie Sheen and basically himself may have reached its ultimate stage yesterday.

Sheen, the drug using, alcohol abusing, porn star musing star of CBS's "Two and a Half Men," went berserk yesterday, not that he hasn't gone nuts before.

The CBS show is on hiatus because of Sheen's behavior, and the actor (or should I say drunken idiot) sent a letter to gossip mongering site calling the show's producer, Chuck Lorre, a "contaminated little maggot."

Earlier in the day, Sheen went on a radio talk show and would only refer to Lorre as "Chaim Levine" (Lorre's real name is Charles Michael Levine).

Fearing further controversy over what could be looked at as an anti-Semitic rant, CBS and producer Warner Bros. TV announced that production of TV's top-rated situation comedy was being shut down for the season because of the "conduct and condition" of its star.

A few weeks ago, CBS pretty much acknowledged that the future of the show was prohibitive, and ordered extra episodes of "Mike and Molly" and "Hawaii Five-O"--the shows also on Monday nights--to cover for Sheen's show's uncertain future.

I applaud CBS for pulling the plug on the show for the season, but they should go one better--pull the plug on Sheen.

He is TV's highest paid star, and the show is a cash cow for CBS.

But at this point, with Sheen nearing the end of his "warning" period--it should have been at its end years ago but CBS trudged on with him even through arrests, drugs, alcohol, porn stars, you name it--I think it is time for the show to move on without Sheen, or simply be canceled altogether.

This is a guy who has abused his good luck one too many times. I mean, c'mon, what is so special about this guy anyway?

The show is in a cushy time spot, so I don't think fans will turn away from it because Sheen isn't there.

Sure, he is the spark plug for the show, but I think the time has come to drop him--for the good of CBS and WB and, for that matter, Sheen himself.

Sheen is a 50-something guy who acts as if he is 20. He has always lived the fast life, but the wall is approaching.

And when you speed, you inevitably crash.

And he will, you can bet on that.

The guy is mentally ill. In any other profession, he would be in a sanitarium.

But in this society, actors are held to a different standard. They are allowed to be a little,, let's say weird.

Well, you know what? He puts on his pants the same way I do, but I can actually stand up and do it.

In his current state, he can't.

Is this worth millions of dollars a year? I don't think so.

CBS, pull the plug on Sheen permanently.

Heck, bring in Emilion Estevez if you must--but get rid of Sheen.

And it will be for his own good.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rant #451: My Paper, Where Is My Paper?

I still enjoy reading the newspaper in the morning as I eat breakfast and prepare for my day.

I love poring through the pages--starting with the sports section, of course--and reading what is going on in my world.

I love getting the paper delivered to my home, because this way, I can have it at my doorstep before 5:30 a.m.

I don't have my newspaper today, and I am sad.

The paper was not delivered to my home by 5:30, and the fact of the matter is, I still don't have it, and it is some time afterward.

This is not a rare occurrence. For some reason, starting about six weeks ago, the newspaper is either not being delivered or it is coming very, very late.

I have complained about this, and I have been told that delivery is GUARANTEED by 5:30 a.m.

Funny, it is beyond an hour past that time, and I don't have my newspaper.

I have told the customer service representative that I will stop my subscription if this continues.

Of course, I told them that two weeks ago, I started getting the paper at an earlier time, but it has gotten progressively worse, leading up to today, when I don't have my newspaper.

I don't want to hear excuses--I want my morning paper.

And no excuse is a valid one. You see, about 16 years ago, I was an adult newspaper delivery person, working overnight to get the daily newspaper to subscribers.

I needed money to supplement my income, and then, when I lost my job, I need the job to live. It didn't pay much, but at least it kept me in groceries for the week.

I delivered the New York Times seven days a week, and later the New York Post, too.

I delivered in all different weather conditions, including the massive snow we received early in 1995.

I also delivered the newspaper around the birth of my son that year.

It was the hardest, easiest job I ever had. However, the hours screwed around with my body. It is hard to go to sleep early, wake up after a few hours, go to work, and then come home and go to sleep for a few hours.

But I did it, for more than a year, until I got my current job.

Anyway, through all this, I still don't have my newspaper.

Woe is me!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rant #450: Hey, Hey, They're Back

In our lives, we can bank on certain things to happen to us fairly regularly.

We know we have to pay taxes each and every year.

We know that when we go to the pump, we are going to pay more for gassing up than we did a year ago.

We know that every once in a while, Lindsay Lohan will run afoul of the law and claim that she is an innocent child.

We can also count on the Monkees--well at least three of them--to return together in another reunion.

Well, guess what?

They've done it again!

The Monkees--sans Mike Nesmith, of course--will be performing reunion concerts throughout May in England.

This is great news, because as I see it, if these concerts go well--and the boys haven't played Europe in years--then you just know they will be booked for an American concert tour too.

The Monkees are a phenomenon that just won't stop, and I think I know why.

Their music is timeless, the project that they were the center of is still breaking ground today, and the three guys--and Nesmith too--are actually pretty smart people. They know when to start, when to stop, and when it is time to rev it up again.

And now is the time.

As I mentioned in rants way back, this is the 45th anniversary of the debut of "The Monkees" TV show, and the No. 45 has become an important anniversary to celebrate.

There's a lot on the market in Monkeedom, including re-releases of their incredible film, "Head," and the accompanying expanded soundtrack, so it's not like there's nothing out there if people want to buy them.

But it also paves the way for a 50th anniversary celebration in 2016, and perhaps even Nesmith will mark that occasion.

So they are back, and I am looking forward to seeing them again.

I interviewed by Micky and Mike years ago, and they are nice people. Micky, in particular, is smart enough to know his and his bandmates' place in musical history, and I can tell you, he does not flaunt it one bit, or at least he didn't to me.

He is still in awe of the recognition the group continues to receive. He is really an average Joe who happens to be a celebrity.

And while all of them have had their ups and downs over the years, every few years they get back together to celebrate the undertaking that made them famous on a worldwide basis.

Other than the Beatles, can your mom name every member of any other rock group?

I doubt it, I really do. She may know Mick Jagger is a member of the Stones, but does she know Charlie Watts?

The Monkees are back, and I have to say I am really happy about this.

Even though they are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they are in my personal HoF.

They are really great, always have been, always will be.

Yes, I am a fan, have been one since 1966, and will be one my whole life.

And yes, I flaunt that, I really do!

Hey, Hey ...


May 12th Liverpool Echo Arena

May 24th Manchester Apollo

May 15th Newcastle City Hall

May 16th Glasgow Clyde Auditorium

May 19th London Royal Albert Hall

May 20th Sheffield City Hall

May 21st Birmingham NIA Academy

May 23rd Plymouth Pavillions

May 24th Cardiff CIAgoodma

May 25th Nottingham Royal Centre

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rant #449: It's Over

Finally ...

Carmelo Anthony is a New York Knick ... or so reports say he is, at least.

According to what I have heard, the Knicks and Denver Nuggets pulled off a trade--with the Minnesota Timberwolves as the third party--so that Anthony can play with his hometown Knicks. He won't come cheap, and no, Denver really didn't want to placate Antony's desires, but under the circumstances, what could they do?

The trade goes like this: in addition to Anthony, the Knicks get Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter, Renaldo Balkman (who they've already had a few years back and got rid of) and Corey Brewer, who comes from Minnesota.

To get these players, the Knicks gave up fan favorites Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov, their 2014 first-round pick and a pair of second-round picks they received from the Golden State Warriors in the David Lee deal.

The Timberwolves--the team that seems to always get short shrift when they make a deal (see Kevin Garnett) get bench player Anthony Randolph and useless (except for his expiring contract) Eddy Curry from the Knicks.

This talk of a deal has been going on for seemingly forever, way outliving the Lebron James sweepstakes for sheer boredom.

As a Knicks fan, I am happy to have Anthony, but a) I don't think he is the savior, and b) they gave up an awful lot for basically one player and a couple of add ons.

And a further rumor has it that one or two of the former Knicks may end up with the upstart New Jersey (soon to be Brooklyn) Nets, who will send Denver a couple of number one draft choices for the players.

That will make the Knicks look a little embarrassed, at the very least.

I don't know about you, but I struggle to make ends meet with my paycheck, and when I hear about a disgruntled player who wants out of his current situation, I wonder what they would do if they worked a regular job like me--would they cry that they wanted out, too--and more to the point, would anyone listen to them?

But as high-priced athletes, people listen--and they listen as if they are hearing the word of God.

I love sports, too, but let's put things into perspective.

Thousands of teachers are losing their jobs, unemployment is still high, and heck, I am paying nearly (and nearing) $4 a gallon on gas.

If a guy makes several million dollars a year, do I live in the same stratosphere as he does?

Or more importantly, does he live in the same stratosphere as I do?

Yes to both questions.

I don't care how much money these guys make, but they still put on their pants like I do.

It's just that their pants are gold-plated, while mine are made of tin.

"The money's in, we're made of tin, we're here to give you more ... ."

That came from the Monkees' classic rock film "Head," but it could apply here too.

Let's see how much more Anthony gives to the Knicks, and how much patience Knicks fans will have with their new addition to the roster, who is making in one game what many of us make in about three or four years of work.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Rant #448: That Word Beginning With the Letter N ...

I have put this incident through my head a million and one times, and I guess after the 1,000,002th time, I finally decided to present it to you here as a cautionary tale of what can happen when one doesn't understand what a particular word or phrase really means.

There was a young person who gravitated to Facebook, like many of the person's friends and classmates, as a place to electronically congregate, meet up with supposed friends, and chat about nothing, whiling away their time when they supposedly have nothing better to do.

This kid, a teenager of 15, is a good kid, but the kid stepped over the line, and did a stupid thing on Facebook that the youngster lives to regret to this moment.

As you know, Facebook is similar to the electronic Wild West: pretty much anything goes, there are few rules and regulations, and even those that exist aren't enforced very tightly.

This young person likes popular music, and this youngster is drawn to rap music, for whatever reason: the beat, the thrill of listening to something that is sort of seedy, etc.

Some of this rap music is harmless, but much of it is not. Rappers have been given the license to rap about anything, using any words and terms that they want to use without any restrictions.

This young person likes the music so much that the kid often imitates the rappers in what the kid wears and how the kid appears on Facebook.

One day, the kid got what the kid thought was a clever idea: why not take one of the kid's favorite rap songs and do the kid's own "karaoke" version of it on Facebook for all the kid's friends to see?

So the young person did it, posted it, and thought very highly of this entry.

The song was full of four-letter-and-longer curse words, and also the N word.

The N word, as we all know, is a derogatory term that has been used for generations. It is a disgusting term, and many rappers have adopted it, for whatever reason, as their own. They use it like it means nothing, and maybe that is their point.

But for certain generations of people, including mine, the N word means one thing.

So, this young person posted his video and was all proud of the post.

The young person's Facebook friends, most of whom are of the kid's age group, didn't get too excited with this video. They've heard the N word and all the other words millions of times in their young lives, and I guess it doesn't have much meaning to them.

One of this young person's friends is black, African American, a young person of color.

This young person, like many of this generation, are desensitized to this word to the point it means nothing to them. The young person basically shrugged it off.

However, the mother of this young person--a woman who definitely knows what the word means--heard and saw the young person's video, and she got extremely upset.

When her child and the young person conversed on the phone, the mother also spoke to the young person on the phone, stating in no uncertain terms how upset she was at the young person for using the N word repeatedly in the song.

When the parents of the young person heard about this, they punished their child. They thought that they had taught their child how wrong it was to use this word, but they didn't do a good enough job. They once again explained to the child why the word is such a horrible one, but they found how hard it is to get this through to their child.

"But everyone uses it," the young person said. "Even black people use it."

Understandably, the youngster and the friend have been at a distance the past few weeks. They haven't spoken to each other really at all. The parents tried to fix the matter by having the youngster apologize to the friend, and the parents even made their own apology, but this seemingly did not work.

The President's Day vacation week is coming up for school children, and they often meet up with their friends during this period.

The young child thought he would give it one more try with the friend, a kid that the youngster has been friendly with literally all of the 15 years the child has been on this earth.

The young child made a call, but there was no answer, and a message was left on an answering machine. The youngster was understandably shaky on the phone, very nervous when stating that the two young kids should get together during their shared time off.

The friend did not call back that night.

But yesterday, when the young person was out of the house, the friend called. The friend wants to get together with the youngster.

Maybe the fences are mended, maybe not.

But the young person learned a valuable lesson.

Be careful what you say, because it can haunt you, hurt you, and reverberate well beyond what you ever intended it too.

I have been very vague in my explanation on this story, because, as you might have guessed, the story happened in my own home.

My son is a good kid, but like most kids his age, even though he has been told that that word is not acceptable, he really doesn't get it. Especially when every rap song he listens to uses the word, and uses it repeatedly.

He was punished, and I think now he understands how hurtful the word is.

Hopefully, he and his friend can get together and put this behind them.

And hopefully, his friend's mom and get past this too.

But I agree with her ... the initial shock of seeing and hearing my son doing this was horrid.

And hopefully, it will never happen again.

(I will take the day off for President's Day and be back on Tuesday.)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rant #447: Pyramid Scheme

This rant is going to be short but not too sweet.

Lots of people are getting excited about what happened in Egypt. Their ruler, who was to some nothing more than a dictator, was ousted in swift fashion after a 30-year rule.

People danced in the streets, and the world took notice.

Happily, the U.S. government somewhat distanced itself from this revolution, although during its final week, Washington put some pressure on the Egyptian government to ease out and allow a new government to form.

Israel, which has had a fairly decent relationship with Egypt for decades, watched and also tried to stay clear of this mess.

As I explained to others too ignorant to understand (my opinion), democracy means different things to others. We know what it means here, but overseas, democracy doesn't necessarily mean the same thing.

And that was unfortunately brought to the fore the other day, when word came out of Egypt that reporter Lara Logan was brutally assaulted by a gang of Egyptians.

Yes, in that part of the world, it appears that democracy means anarchy.

We, as a country, should watch from afar what is going on there, and let's not jump on the bandwagon that the change is necessarily a good thing.

We have had a decent relationship with Egypt, and who is to say that a more hardline government won't come into place there? And who is to say that Egypt won't change its "peaceful coexistence" stance with Israel, our one true ally in the Middle East?

And, more to your wallet, you know that the oil companies are going to seize upon what has happened over there, and what is spreading through that region, to either keep gas prices where they are or raise them even higher.

Will we then rejoice, like some dummies are doing, with what has happened over there?

And what of Lara Logan?

Democracy doesn't mean raping and pillaging, you know.

At least in the U.S.A. it doesn't.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rant #446: Wednesday's Birthday On Wednesday

Remember the kid who played Wednesday on the TV show "The Addams Family?"

Her name is Lisa Loring, and she turns 53 today.

Although I preferred "The Munsters" as far as the creepy TV show trend that lasted a few years in the 1960s, one of the reasons I watched "The Addams Family" was because of Wednesday. Even as an eight year old kid, I guess I must have had a crush on her.

She was a cute kid, but in real life, she has had several challenges to meet, and overcome.

Loring was a military brat, meaning that her parents were in the military. She wasn't even born in the continental U.S., but in the Marshall Islands, where her parents were stationed.

Her mother was an alcoholic, and died when Loring was in her teens and way out of the Wednesday character, a role that lasted just two years.

I can't find much about her teenage years, but I know that in her early 20s, she was on the soap opera "As the World Turns," a gig that lasted two years. She turned from a cute kid to quite a vivacious young lady, and she had that soap opera look, if you know what I mean.

She then was featured in "The Addams Family" reunion film on TV (not the theatrical movie), and heck, she was a beautiful woman by this point.

Around this time, she was married and divorced twice.

She then married again, and for a few years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, she was on every talk show known to man with her husband.

Her husband, Jerry Butler, was one of the hottest porn stars of the day.

Need I say more?

I guess she knew what he did for a living when she married him, but she evidently couldn't handle being married to a guy who slept with thousands of women, so she went on all the talk shows--with him, by the way--to discuss this problem she had.

Well, I guess she never conquered the problem, because she divorced him in the early 1990s.

I know that sometime after that, she went to rehab, worked in public relations with a hotel chain, and got really heavy.

And that is where the information stops. I don't know what happened to Loring after this period, and she probably wants it that way.

Which is fine with me. I just have those two images in my mind of her: that cute little kid and that beautiful girl in her 20s.

Now that she is 53, who knows where she is in her life now?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rant #445: Hope Springs Eternal

Snow is still on the ground even though we have been going through a warmer couple of weeks without any of the white stuff coming down.

The calendar reads February 15, so we have plenty of time before winter ends and spring begins.

But you know what? I am in a spring mood today.


Pitchers and catchers report this week to Florida and Arizona for baseball's annual spring training.

Right now, every team has a chance. The Pittsburgh Pirates have as good of a chance this time of year as do their cross-state rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies.

Everybody is on the same level now, and before you know it, full squads will report, and then we will really be in the swing of it.

You just know the weather is getting warmer when you see ballplayers stretching.

It just warms the heart.

Everybody says that the Phillies are a lock to win the World Series. I don't doubt that they have a terrific team with an incredible starting rotation.

But somehow, I don't think it will be that easy. There are some other pretty good teams out there--including the defending champion San Francisco Giants--and I believe it will be a real fight to see who gets to the World Series from the National League this year.

In the American League, things are as wide open as they have ever been. Some are conceding the World Series to the Red Sox, but I tend to differ. I don't think their pitching is that good, and remember, they are in the same division as the Yankees are. Never, ever count the Yankees out. And what about American League champs the Texas Rangers?

But during this time of year, the Kansas City Royals even have a shot.

As do the sorry New York Mets, involved in a financial scandal so critical that the owners, who have offered a portion of the team for sale, might have to actually give up a bit more of their ownership to make full financial amends.

Thanks, Madoff. Aren't you happy he was a Mets fan and not a fan of your team?

Anyway, hope springs eternal now, and anything can happen this year.

After the interminable football season, and with the equally endless and pointless hype surrounding March Madness around the corner, all I can say is ...

Play ball!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Rant #444: Music, Music, Music (Not)

Since I spoke about Valentine's Day in a previous rant, I am going to bypass that subject and speak about something else that is not really near and dear to my heart.

The Grammy Awards.

I have never liked the Grammy Awards. This is supposedly the showcase for the current hot acts of the moment. The Grammy Awards have always strived to be hip, with it, and now, but they rarely are.

And it is even moreso now, when the talent level of today's most popular acts is so thin.

Let's be honest about it; the music that kids listen to today is awful. There isn't an original chord in the whole mess, and mix that with c(rap), where everything is out there, and, well, you have a lot of garbage that passes for music today.

Yeah, I am speaking like an old fuddy duddy, but c'mon people, I don't see any Beatles on the horizon, nor do I see even an American Breed in this mess.

What you have are a lot of performance acts where the music is secondary.

Take Lady GaGa (please), a Madonna wannabe who came to the Grammy Awards last night in an egg.

Yes, an egg.

What this has to do with the music is beyond me.

She owes a lot to Madonna (another act that I really can't stand), to David Bowie, to Alice Cooper and to others who blended music with performance.

You can trace this back to probably Screaming Jay Hawkins when he performed his hit, "I Put a Spell On You." He would come out looking like a voodoo medicine man, with his coffin following him from behind.

It was great theater.

Later, when the Monkees did their concerts, they burst out on the stage from large, fake speakers. That was so different from the norm of that time, when acts just basically came on stage and did their thing.

Bowie stretched the boundaries even further, and so did Alice Cooper.

But with those acts, the music still came first.

With an act like Lady GaGa, and Madonna for that matter, the performance is much more important that the music. The music is secondary, and I didn't think the Grammy Awards were about that.

Yet, so many people think she is so creative.


And then you have rap, which is pure garbage that some people think is an art form.

Sorry, but it's so easy to say every curse in the book; it's harder to work around it.

These "artists" don't work around it.

Their music is repetitive, often racist and anti-human being, and it is garbage.

Please, critics, don't pass this off as art. Sorry Eminem, I don't care how many records you sell, you are not an artist by any stretch of the imagination.

Last night, some oldies were there, including Barbra Streisand (an eternal ugh!); Mick Jagger (who is nothing without Keith Richards), and Bob Dylan (another ugh!), and there was a tribute to Aretha Franklin by some much lesser talents than her. Funny, I didn't think the Queen of Soul was dead yet.

Anyway, I guess by not liking the Grammy Awards, I don't like the current popular music.

You can assume that, and if you do, well, it's true.

I would rather get out my dusty Archies records and listen to them.

There is more credibility in that music than there ever will be in the current crap, er, crop, of music.

And that is a shame, because I am sure there is talent out there.

Somewhere ...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Rant #443: Happy No. 75 to the Ultimate "Good Ole Boy"

Burt Reynolds is 75 today.

During the early 1970s, Reynolds was probably the hottest movie star in the world. His "good ole boy" persona was captured in such films as "The Longest Yard," "Gator," and "Smokey and the Bandit," and he was able to show his dramatic side in "Deliverance."

No, he wasn't the greatest actor in the world, but everyone seemed to love him.

Prior to this stardom, Reynolds was just another busy actor in the 1960s, appearing on lots of TV shows. He even starred in a few (remember "Dan August"?).

Then he posed nude in Cosmopolitan magazine and his career went skyward.

But after the 1970s and early 1980s, his career basically fell flat on its face. Several really bad movies (remember "Rent-A-Cop"?), divorces, and other stuff made him a has-been.

He did star in the fairly successful TV show, "Evening Shade," and produced several TV game shows, but his real comeback was as Jack Horner in "Boogie Nights," a role that landed him an Oscar nomination.

He hasn't done anything up to that standard since, but he remains a very popular actor and guest star in TV shows.

But 35 years ago, he was Hollywood's biggest star.

I remember a memorable "Tonight" show where he just strolled into one of the tapings, supposedly unannounced (although I find this hard to believe) and took over the show. He had a seltzer bottle, and after shooting everyone around him with seltzer, he put the nozzle down his pants and shot himself. It was hilarious.

There has been a rumor going for years that Reynolds was such a huge star at the time that he was offered the James Bond role prior to Roger Moore getting that plum part, but this has never been substantiated, but it has never been refuted either.

Anyway, Reynolds turns 75 today. Somehow, you just don't think of him as an older gentleman; you still have that vision in your head of that good ole boy drinking a beer while and explosion is going off in the background.

And that is the image that will live on forever in the movies.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rant #442: Smoke Rings

Reports are that our President has finally given up smoking.

The President's wife, Michelle, made the announcement the other day. She basically said that due to pressure from their children, he finally gave it up.

No patches or pills for him. He just gave it up.

Good for him, and for his family.

Smoking is a completely disgusting habit. I don't understand what the allure is of smoking a rolled up paper with minced up leaves in it is, but millions enjoy this pleasure.

And in our society, they have a right to enjoy this pleasure.

But they also have a right to stop smoking, stop polluting the air, and stop infecting their family with second-hand smoke.

Let's face it, in today's politically correct age, it looked ridiculous for the President to smoke, and then, on the other hand, have his wife touting healthy activities as much as she does.

Looking back, I can't remember a single President who didn't smoke, at least a cigar if not a cigarette. Maybe President Carter might have been the only one, but I honestly don't remember.

And President Clinton had his own use for cigars which I won't get into here.

In my own family, my father smoked until my mother was pregnant with me. The story goes that the doctor told him that with a new arrival soon to come to the house, he should stop smoking.

And he did. Cold turkey, too.

My grandfather is another story. My mom's dad smoked like a chimney. He smoked cigarettes, pipes and cigars in one fell swoop. I don't remember ever seeing him without some tobacco product in his mouth.

And he got sick, real sick. That is when he stopped, but it was too late.

He was just 74.

With all the allergies I have--and with all I saw with my grandfather--I vowed early on in my life that I would never smoke, and I have lived up to that vow. I have never smoked anything.

So when I heard the President's wife say that her husband had stopped this idiotic habit, I was pretty happy.

But he should take a page from my father's book.

My father is a New York City cab driver, has been for nearly 50 years after many years as a butcher.

My dad has told me that even after more than 50 years since his last cigarette, he still gets the urge to smoke.

In the old days, when smoking was permitted in cabs, he used to get that second-hand smoke aroma and the urge would kick in. Even now, with smoke-free cabs, he still gets the urge now and again.

But he swears that he has never succumbed to that urge, and I believe him.

So the President isn't smoking right now, but the urge will always be there.

The trick is to be strong enough to resist the urge.

Let's hope that for the sake of his family and the President himself, he can be strong enough to resist that urge.

It is hard to do, but my father has proven time and time again that it can be done.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Rant #441: Lindsay! Lindsay! Lindsay!

Here we go again.

Lindsay Lohan will be charged with felony grand theft in connection with a $2,500 necklace that was removed from a jewelry store.

Evidently, on Jan. 22, a necklace was borrowed for Lohan by her assistant, but her assistant--or Lohan herself--was late in returning it. It is supposedly a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry, making the lateness even more of a big deal.

Although the necklace reportedly has since been returned, the actress will be arraigned later today. She has agreed to turn herself in to avoid the paparazzi.

If convicted, this would be a clear violation of her probation, and she could get up to two years in the slammer, although experts state that this cold be whittled down to three to six months.


It is clear that we are seeing a starlet self destruct right before our eyes. It is kind of sad, but she has had numerous chances to redeem herself--including her latest probation--and she seems to explode right when you think that things are possibly looking up for her.

No one wishes ill will on her, but hey, she brings this type of behavior onto herself, doesn't she?

She--and for that matter, her entire family--believe they live in a different world from the rest of us. They believe that because of Lindsay's stardom, they deserve certain life perks that "normal" people don't get.

Well, if the escapades of Lindsay haven't brought them down to earth, then nothing will.

This is a girl whose life is completely out of control. She probably needs a mental institution more than a jail cell.

But the media uses her as a "toy" for their own exploitation, because she is young, good looking, has a nice figure, and because she is so "out there" with her behavior.

Look at the photo of her that I posted with this rant. I guess I am not immune to the lure of this pretty, um, demented, young lass.

I guess us "normal" people love to hear about her exploits.

But in this most recent episode, couldn't she have afforded to simply buy the necklace rather than pilfer it?

You might say yes, but she has been known to "adopt" things as her own.

There was an incident about two or three years back where she went to a club and took someone's jacket and refused to give it back. That made some headlines, but of course, it was covered over in the "I thought it was mine" defense.

I wonder what her defense will be this time?

"I am a stupid human being."

Nah, I doubt it, I really do.

She will paint herself as the victim, as she always does.

My question: Has she ever heard of the story about the boy who cried wolf? He did it so many times that when he really was being truthful, no one believed him.

Well, I think Ms. Lohan has reached that point, don't you?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rant #440: Tura! Tura! Tura!

Tura Satana died the other day. She was between 72 and 75 years of age.

You say, "Who the heck is Tura Satana?"

I reply, "Russ Meyer," and that is all that really needs to be said.

Tura Satana was one of the early Russ Meyer girls, which meant she was tall, buxom, beautiful, mysterious, and dominant.

In the Russ Meyer classic, "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!," Satana played Varla, the leader of a trio of equally buxom car-driving vixens.

Varla kills a young man with her bare hands. That is pretty much all you need to know about her character. And she does it with the usual maximum Meyer cleavage shots.

Although the low-budget film played in skanky grindhouses and adult theaters, it eventually made a bundle of money.

It was also extremely influential. Quentin Tarantino and John Waters have both been influenced by the film, and Waters called it something to the effect of "the greatest film ever made, and the greatest film ever to be made."

And Satana literally stood out in this film, much like the Statue of Liberty stands out in New York Harbor.

Only a bit more sexy, with lots of cleavage.

(See the video below. I think you will agree with that summation.)

Satana had roles in more mainstream fare, such as TV shows "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." and "Burke's Law," but nobody remembers those, except the obituary writers and photo archivists who pretty much used a shot of her in a scene from "U.N.C.L.E." in most obituaries I saw.

Well, I doubt they had any shots of her from her Russ Meyer film, although let's be honest about it, that is why she got her obituary, isn't it?

I used a shot of her in all her glory with this rant. She deserves to be shown at the top of her game, and we deserve to see such a shot.

Long live Tura, even in death.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Rant #439: The Streak Is Over

On Super Bowl Sunday, my son and I took in an NBA game at Madison Square Garden between the New York Knicks and the Philadelphia 76ers.

My son had never been in person when the Knicks won. Over the past three seasons, he had been 0-5.

And we had seen some of the worst basketball possible, too. These weren't just losses, they were abominations.

I also had a streak. I had not been in person when the Knicks won since 1985! That's 25 years!

Well, guess what? THE KNICKS WON! 117-103.

Yes, the streak is over, over and done with.

Maybe my son and I have started a new streak--the Knicks never lose when we are in attendance.

We won't know that until next season, because after attending three games--opening night, a game against the Hawks, and this game, all in nose-bleed seats--I am tapped out, and we won't be going to any more games this season.

But finally we got a win.

Yes, I had a good feeling about this game from the start.

On the way into the Garden via the Long Island Railroad, I told my son I had a good feeling, and that the Knicks were going to win.

I guess I had ESP, because for once, I was right.

Amare Stoudemire had a huge game, with 41 points, and rookie Landry Field scored 25. Raymond Felton had 13 points and 13 assists. It was a real team game.

And the Garden was hopping.

When the Knicks are playing well, the Garden is about the loudest place on earth.

The fans were into the game, chanting and yelling and screaming the entire game.

There were lots of kids in attendance due to the early (12 noon) start, so the energy level was high, and the Knicks, for once, did not disappoint.

I don't know where the Knicks are going this year--hopefully to the playoffs, but beyond the first round, I really don't know--but at least for one game, they brought a high energy level to their home arena, and my son and I didn't see a flop like we normally do.

Take that, Super Bowl.

In fact, when we came home, and concurrent with the Super Bowl, MSG Network replayed the Knicks game--and I watched it again!

Now that is real sports entertainment, isn't it?

Let's go Knicks!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Rant #438: Super Ho Hum

On Sunday, the world will be treated to another Super Bowl.

Ho hum.

I really am not a football fan. I find it to be the most over-rated of all the sports.

People complain about baseball being all talk and no action, but let's face it, football is worse--much worse. And nothing demonstrates this better than the Super Bowl.

The hype that surrounds this game is enormous. Media outlets from around the world cover this as if if was a religious experience.

Most of what they cover is talk, talk, talk. All hype and not substance.

Advertisers pay big bucks to have their products hawked on this worldwide telecast.

And like I said, to some, this is a religious experience that no church can duplicate.

People are paying minimum $2,500 to watch this game in person in Dallas, and believe it or not, people are paying that amount to secure a spot just outside the stadium to watch the game on TV.

I kid you not.

I heard a doctor talking yesterday on TV saying that there are more heart attacks during the Super Bowl than any other yearly event.

But let's face it, most people who watch this game have absolutely no interest in the game of football itself. There are so many pools surrounding this game that it is truly something if you aren't in one. I, proudly, am not.

People bet, bet, and bet some more to try to win money related to this game.

To me, that makes the game a spectacle, not a sporting event.

But let the media have its way. If they want to call football "America's Game," let them.

It isn't America's pastime though. We all know that is baseball, the best sport around, the only sport that gets coverage 12 month/365 days a year, is truly "America's Game."

Right in the middle of winter, the back page of all the New York papers today has nothing to do with football.

Andy Pettitte of the Yankees is supposedly announcing his retirement today.

Now, that is big news.

The Super Bowl is nothing compared to this announcement.

What will I be doing on Sunday? I won't be watching the Super Bowl, that's for sure.

In fact, during the day--when the televised hype begins on TV at 9 a.m. in the morning--I will be attending a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden.

They are in the heat of the playoff race, and they are playing the team right behind them, the 76ers, in the second game of a back-to-back series.

Now to me, that's real sports, not the hype of the Super Bowl.

And when I get home, I guarantee that the Super Bowl won't be on my viewing list for the evening.

So watch the game, enjoy it as much as you can, but all I know is that ...

Pitchers and catchers report next week to spring training.

Now that is really important!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Rant #437: Heart To Heart

Hey guys, Valentine's Day is right around the corner.

It's Monday, February 14, so it is just 11 days away.

What better way to warm your lady's heart during this horrid winter than to get her something on this very important day?

Don't forget Valentine's Day, because if you do, your lady won't ever let you forget about it again!

I personally don't mind Valentine's Day a bit. In fact, I not only buy something for my wife, but I usually give my son and daughter something too, and sometimes I give to my parents too (this year I intended to do this with my parents, I did buy my father something a while ago, but it is too good, and I will hold it for his birthday).

Why not? I love them all.

Of course, the love you have between yourself and your spouse is a different type of love, a love which helped you to create your little ones.

So you have to go the extra mile for your spouse.

I am not much of a flower person, although I have bought my wife flowers in the past. About three years ago, I bought her satin flowers, and we still display them in the living room.

This year, I bought her a watch. This is something she really needs, because all of her watches have died. Everyone needs to know the time in an instant, so a watch was the perfect gift for her.

And I am not blowing anything, because she knows what I bought her. In fact, she was in the store with me when I bought it, although she didn't see the one I eventually purchased.

I still have to get the requisite cards, but other than that, I guess I am OK with Valentine's Day this year.

I remember that as a young kid, I would hear my mother lament to my father that he didn't recognize Valentine's Day--he didn't get her anything, because he claimed it was a Christian holiday.

But in recent years, the "St." of St. Valentine's Day has been dropped, and the card companies have made it known that it is an American holiday rather than a religious one.

So for the past number of years or so, my father has acquiesced, and gotten my mother a nice card and some type of gift each Valentine's Day.

It's funny, but the heart that is pushed to us as being the heart of love isn't really that. A real human heart doesn't have that type of shape.

The heart that we know as the heart of love actually more closely resembles a human rear end than anything else.

No, I am not implying anything, although you can read into it anything that you want.

So there you have it.

Valentine's Day is in 11 days.

Just don't forget it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Rant #436: Back to the Mat

In the midst of the most horrible winter I can imagine--with piles of snow now pelted by a rain and an ice storm that began yesterday and has stretched into this morning--I took my son to see WWE Wrestling last night.

This has become an at least twice yearly occurrence for my son and myself. We go when it comes to us locally, which means the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.

Last night, we saw Smackdown, NXT and one match for WWE Superstars. NXT already aired online, while Superstars will air on WGN on Thursday and Smackdown will be televised on SyFy on Friday.

What happened really wasn't that important--lots of talk and false bravado, and not that much action--but it still amazes me that this stuff sells so well to the general public.

The Coliseum seats about 16,000 or 17,000 for pro wrestling, and I would said that the place probably had about 13,000 there last night. Some sections were covered up, as those seats probably weren't needed because they weren't sold. But the rest was full, and I mean packed.

And this is on a school night, in the middle of winter, in the middle of an ice storm.

It's important to mention that this was a school night, because it is completely incredible how many kids are there, taken by their parents to see people fighting other people.

In our section alone--which was, as usual, the nosebleed section--there were dozens of kids, ranging in ages from about two or three up to my son's age, 15.

Their parents take them to these matches, and I am not just talking about dads. Plenty of moms go, too, and for that matter, there are plenty of moms and young women and girls that attend these things.

Way back when, when I used to go to Madison Square Garden to see the WWWF--what WWE was called in the 1960s and 1970s when it was more a regional group than they are now--it was mostly boys, young men and older gentlemen who attended. Very few young ladies were there, and not too many older ones either, except for the ladies with the hatpins, who sat all the way down and would torture the bad guys with their pins (I always wondered if WWWF actually employed these women, one for every city, just to keep things interesting).

Well, the hatpin ladies went the way of the eight-track cassette when the AIDS epidemic hit, but more to the point, professional wrestling has become a family night out. It really is the sports equivalent to the circus, with one ring instead of three.

There are the clowns, the more serious performers, and beautiful women to keep you going.

And it is fun, although for me, I have been watching wrestling since I am about seven years of age, so whether you are talking about Bruno Sammartino or John Cena, it really is repetitive to a fault.

But the crowd had a good time, my son (battling a horrible cold that I think he got from me) had a good time, and the best thing is that on a school night, we were both in bed before 11 p.m.

You can't beat that--and my son can sleep a little longer this morning, because he has a delayed school opening due to the ice storm.

Wow, to be a kid today ... you just can't beat it!

Kudos to WWE--they know how to put on a good show, no matter what is happening outside the arena.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rant #435: Another Death To Report

This seems to be a time for people that we kind of know, but don't know well, to go on to their final reward.

Film composer John Barry, who composed the music for hundreds of films, died on Sunday.

You say you know his name, but you can't connect him with anything?

Well, here is one piece of work of his that you certainly know:

Yes, he was the composer of the James Bond Theme, and he actually scored a dozen of the Bond movies.

He also wrote the scores for a multitude of other popular films, including for "Born Free," "Midnight Cowboy," "The Lion In Winter," and "Dances With Wolves." He won two Academy Awards for "Born Free," one for best score and one for best song. He also won Oscars for his scores for "The Lion In Winter," "Out of Africa," and "Dances With Wolves."

Barry scored an incredible amount of films. Including these award winners, he also did several stinkers, including the score for "Howard the Duck," a film I kind of liked that really, really tanked.

He also recorded a number of albums on his own, or with the John Barry Orchestra.

But he is forever known as the composer of the James Bond Theme, which will be used again and again and again, every time a new Bond movie comes out.

This guy was prolific, to say the least.

He passed away at his home on Long Island. I didn't even know he lived in my neck of the woods.

Incredibly, none of the actors who portrayed James Bond in the legitimate Bond movies (not the original "Casino Royale," for instance) have gone on to the great beyond. But when they do, I am sure Barry will be at the gate waiting for them.

And I'll bet he'll say, "Shaken, not stirred," as he hands them a drink as the Bond theme plays in the background.

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