Friday, September 28, 2012

Rant #813: Another Day, Another Heartache

You might think that by that title, I was talking about myself personally, but I'm not.

As you know, I enjoy going through my record collection, and picking out songs I haven't heard in ages.

Well, here's another one of them.

This song by the 5th Dimension, "Another Day, Another Heartache"-- written by Steve Barri and P.F. Sloan--only made the top 50 on Billboard's Hot 100 charts after its debut in April 1967, but it was another step up the ladder for a group that would have many, many hits throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Sort of a black Mamas and Papas, the five-member act--led by Florence LaRue, Marilyn McCoo and her husband, Billy Davis--had the perfect sound for pop radio at the time--light, airy and full of harmony.

It was the antidote for a lot of the heavier sounds that were permeating rock and radio at the time.

Each member--including Lamont McLemore and Ron Townson--could have been a lead singer, but those duties were usually given to LaRue, McCoo and Davis.

They had many, many hits--including "Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In," "Stone Soul Picnic," and "Last Night, I Couldn't Get To Sleep At All"--and their fame made them ubiquitous on television.

Not only did they appear on "The Ed Sullivan Show" numerous times, they also had their own specials.

They started out as part of the Versatiles, an aptly named group out of California which included later members of the successful Friends of Distinction, of "Grazing in the Grass" fame.

The single act split into two, and under the wing of Johnny Rivers, the 5th Dimension scaled great heights.

The two ladies in the group were former beauty contest winners, and television loved them.

But they had the talent to match--it wasn't just really good looks.

And this song was one of the first to bring them to the national stage.

It has always been one of my favorite 5th Dimension tunes. I guess I like the harmony, and the upbeat attitude that the song takes, even though the title might suggest otherwise.

And yes, that is my actual copy of the record, with the great picture sleeve intact.

This was released just before "Up Up and Away" catapulted them to international stardom, thus the picture sleeve is kind of appropriate.

Anyway, check it out if you haven't heard it already, or rediscover it again.

It is that good, even more than 40 years after its initial release.

Speak to you next week.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rant #812: Yom Kippur and Moon River

Somehow, I am going to try to weave two disparate items together into one.

Please hear me out before you slide over to another site.

Last night marked the end of Yom Kippur, the highest of the holy days for Jews around the world.

For the first time in my life, I worked on the holiday. I had to, because weeks before, when I first was diagnosed with a pinched nerve, I took a week off from work due to the rest that was prescribed by my doctor.

I needed to make up the time, so this year, I worked on both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

It felt kind of weird working on the holiday yesterday, and not fasting to boot.

Some people at work actually asked me why I was there, and I told them that I felt funny being there, but circumstances dictated what I did.

And while I was at work, I found out that Andy Williams, one of the all-time and longest-lasting crooners in music history, had passed away after fighting bladder cancer for years.

I was never a fan of Williams' style, which was so laid back that I am surprised he never fell over.

He had many, many hits, and was really the last of the non-rock and rollers to continue to have hits through the first 20 years of the rock era.

"Moon River" was, of course, probably his most famous song, but, ironically, it was never released as a single.

Other hits he had included "Canadian Sunset," "Lonely Street," and probably my favorite song of his, "Can't Get Used to Losing You" from 1963.

He was a major presence on television, and his long-running TV show--along with his annual Christmas specials--always drew high ratings.

He lived pretty much a clean life, except for his relationship with the notorious Claudine Longet, his former wife. During her trial for the murder of skier Spider Sabich, he stood by his ex-wife's side like old gum sticks to your shoe.

And he was a friend of the Kennedy's, often seen escorting Ethel Kennedy around town.

He will be missed.

And I miss the old-time Yom Kippur for me.

Maybe next year, when I am better, I can participate like I want to, and not be forced to pretty much ignore the holiday because of my own circumstance.

Well ... I did tie the two together, didn't I?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Rant #811: The Fast and the Yom Kippur

The holiest day on the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, begins at sundown today, and lasts roughly until sundown tomorrow.

It is not a joyous holiday, but a time of reflection, for Jews around the world.

A few years ago I posted a Rant about the holiday, and it pretty much still stands.

So, with some alterations, here it is again:

"Yom Kippur begins tonight at sundown.

For Jews around the world, this is the holiest time of the year, the time where we pause to reflect on what we did the past year and how we can begin anew in the new year.

Even many non-observant Jews follow this holiday, and this is the only time that they venture into a synagogue during the entire calendar year.

Prayer and reflection are paramount here, as is refraining from drinking or eating anything for the duration of the holiday.

Some Jews don't even bathe, watch television, drive cars or do anything but pray and fast during this period, which ends tomorrow night at sundown, or when the shofar is blown at Yom Kippur services.

I, personally, don't go to that extreme. I do not go to synagogue, and this year, I will not be fasting, since I am under medication. Jewish law provides for that. God will not strike me down. I fasted for years, but unfortunately, I can't do it anymore.

However, from my personal experience, fasting is not hard to do. Sure, it takes you out of your routine, but it really isn't that difficult to do for a day.

What is difficult is doing it while you are in synagogue. The constant getting up and sitting down--when the Torah is displayed--makes it very difficult.

I remember in the old days, you would hear women crying in the back of the synagogue. Not eating can do that to you.

As far as my family, my wife has tried and can't do it, my son the same, my daughter, I know she has tried but she can't do it, either..

I have to tell you, after I fast I feel very, very good. It is almost as if everything bad in my body has been cleansed out of it by fasting. I might have a little buzz headache, but this is something I had been doing continually since I was 12 or 13, so I was pretty much used to it.

But those days are now over. It happened to my mom and dad too, and now it has happened to me. I wish I could do it, but health-wise, I simply can't anymore.

So to all my Jewish friends, and to all of those people I know who aren't, Happy New Year to everyone."

I will be taking a day off for the holiday tomorrow, and I will speak to you again on Thursday.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Rant #810: Brooklyn Nets Dodger

Brooklyn, New York, is where I was born more than 55 years ago.

If I remember correctly, when I was a baby, I lived with my family on Avenue N, near my grandparents who lived on the corner of Ocean Parkway and Cortelyou Road.

When I was a baby, the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn, which often makes me feel as if I am old as the hills. And the Giants were still at the Polo Grounds, but that's another story for another day.

Today is the 55th anniversary of the Dodgers' last game at Ebbets Field.

They beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-0, and then they bolted for Los Angeles, as the Giants also went west to San Francisco.

When the Dodgers left Brooklyn, it was as if the heart and soul of the borough went with them.

Brooklyn is one of America's largest cities by population, and when you took the Dodgers out of Brooklyn, you took a lot out of the borough.

Some say Brooklyn hasn't been the same since the Dodgers left.

But that is all about to change.

With the Barclay Center ready to open in downtown Brooklyn right near the Long Island Railroad station, the borough has a new showpiece arena, a place for concerts and athletic events.

And it, once again, has a team that it can call its own, the Brooklyn Nets, the vagabond NBA franchise which has played all over the metropolitan area map, including New Jersey and Long Island.

Will the Nets conjure up the same borough pride that the Dodgers did way back when?

It's actually hard to say.

Times are different, and people don't have a singular focus anymore.

Everybody in Brooklyn was a Dodger fan, or so it seemed from what I've heard.

The Nets have to compete with the legacy of the Knicks, who not only own this town, they own the allegiance of the entire metropolitan New York area.

It should be interesting to see if the Nets can capture that zeal with the fans.

But Brooklyn appears to be back, at least sports-wise, and that, in the long run, is great for the borough.

I will continue to be a Knicks fan, but a little competition certainly can't hurt, can it?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Rant #809: Hello, "Goodbye"

Every once in a while, I go through my record collection just to remember what I have collected over the years.

I have so many 45s and LPs that it really shows my own personal history, my likes and dislikes and where I was at a certain place and time.

The other day, I did just that, and rediscovered a record that I had pretty much forgotten about.

Discovered by, of all people, model Twiggy, singer Mary Hopkin was virtually plucked from obscurity in 1968 and had a worldwide smash with "Those Were the Days," which took a traditional Russian folk song and made it new again. It rose to No. 2 in the U.S. and worldwide, it hit the top spot in many countries.

It was a phenomenon, an old-sounding song made new again. Kids loved it, teenagers bought into it, and even older people got into it.

And Hopkin had a wispy quality, with her long blond hair and lithe looks, that really epitomized the late 1960s.

The song was not written by Paul McCartney, as has widely been rumored, but its release on the fledgling Apple label proved that someone other than the Beatles could have a hit on the label. McCartney produced the song, and the world waited for a followup from the sulty blond lass, who was born in Wales.

They got it with the song "Goodbye," which debuted in April 1969. Although credited to McCartney and John Lennon, the song has McCartney all over it. It is light and airy, a true pop masterpiece, and melding with Hopkin's lovely vocal, the song, again produced by McCartney, reached No. 13 in the United States.

The picture sleeve--yes, this is the one directly from my collection--is perfect. It shows a close up of Hopkin, with tears coming from her eyes.

Followup singles never reached the heights of those first two 45s, and Hopkin basically faded into obscurity.

Most people think of her as a one-hit wonder, but "Goodbye" put a damper on that notion.

But few remember "Goodbye." It rarely gets played on oldies stations, and when you hear her name mentioned, it is usually in association with "Those Were the Days."

That's too bad. But at least I have the single in my collection to back up the fact that Hopkin was a bit more than a one-hit artist.

If you've never heard the song, please give it a listen.

It's one of McCartney's best pure pop tunes, and well worth your time.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Rant #808: I Am a Survivor

You know it's fall when "Survivor" premieres another season on CBS.

It did so last night, and while I haven't watched it yet--I was watching the Yankees game and taping the show on another TV--I pretty know what to expect.

And that is the problem with "Survivor," and it has been a problem for a while: to paraphrase an old Four Tops' hit, "It's the Same Old Show."

I am sure that everyone knows that "Survivor" supposedly pits average Joes and Janes in competitions held in far off places--many of the places are really wretched--to see who is the ultimate "Survivor."

The show has been on forever, and when it was first on, it developed a buzz like few TV shows before it or since.

The show was new, on the cutting edge, and it was must-see TV.

Since that time, the show is the same old same old.

The producers have added some nice curves, such as the Immunity Idol, which allows contestants to not be voted off when their time comes.

Other wrinkles have failed miserably, not adding to the game at all.

And the latest wrinkles--to add celebrities to the mix--just doesn't work.

This season, without mentioning names, they've added a washed up actress who was on "The Facts of Life" and a former Major League Baseball player who was the National League Most Valuable Player one year and who has a surly reputation.

And this was supposed to be for average Joes and Janes, huh?

But people still watch, just not as many as in the past.

Last season was a low for the show, with viewers leaving in droves.

There weren't any interesting characters--after a arrogant gay player had to leave due to illness--and the show dragged.

This year, we've been promised a "back to basics" approach.

We'll see.

But like millions of others, I will be glued to the tube, watching this thing.

I just wish they would move the show to a cold weather climate to see if it would make things any different.

Sure, you would lose the "sex" factor--there is no nudity on the show but you see plenty--but it might make it more interesting, more man versus the elements than it is now.

But I know that won't happen.

Heck, I feel like a "Survivor" myself watching this show.

I've stuck with it from the beginning, I may as well continue with it until it finally crashes.

There isn't much else on, anyway, so why not?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rant #807: Pop Stars Celebration

During the mod 1960s, anything could happen, or so it seemed.

Newness was everywhere, new ways of doing things were everywhere, too, and the culture of television was taking hold--in color!

Two stars from that era just happen to be celebrating birthdays today on the same day, and during those early days of color TV, they were among the hottest stars on the planet.

Today, David McCallum--Illya Kuryakin on "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." and Adam West, Batman/Bruce Wayne on "Batman," turn 78and 84 years of age, respectively.

During the pop 1960s, these two shows were among the most popular programs on the landscape, showcasing secret agents, comic book heroes, and splashes of color that had really not been seen before.

True, color had been around on TV before--namely on "Bonanza," where color was used to sell TV sets--but color had not been used to the extent that it was on these two programs.

On "U.N.C.L.E.," color was used to highlight the good guys versus the bad guys, namely T.H.R.U.S.H.

McCallum's character--the dashing Russian, and during the Cold War yet--along with Napoleon Solo, played by Robert Vaughn--kept the world safe from the evil-doers. Throw in Leo G. Carroll, and heck, we knew that we would all be safe, at least until the next episode.

On "Batman," the world was truly topsy-turvy. Weird camera angles highlighted the evilness of villains like the Penguin and the Joker, and color was splashed all over the screen as West and his cohort Robin--Burt Ward--battled the bad guys.

Both shows shared one element. They were both done pretty much tongue in cheek, and that stance made McCallum and West teenybopper stars to the extreme.

McCallum, in particular, was highlighted in Tiger Beat and such magazines, often alongside Davy Jones, Peter Noone and---Jonathan Frid, another unlikely pop icon.

But the world moves on, and those shows faded into reruns.

The two continued their careers, to varying degrees of success--McCallum is a cast member of the highly popular NCIS TV show, West has done numerous commercials and voice work--but to the Baby Boomers, McCallum and West will always be two of the top pop icons from that wonderful era.

Happy birthday to both, and if an evil villain enters my midst, I will call on both of you to help me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rant #806: Naked Prey

This fascination with the royal couple has got to stop.

But if you publish topless photos of the future queen, I guess even people who could care less about her will take a peak.

For the past two weeks, several European magazines have published topless photos of Kate Middleton, to the delight of some and to the horror of others.

Middleton, who is both pretty and skinny as skinny can be without being sick, was sunbathing at a private resort when these photos were allegedly taken.

Invasion of privacy concerns aside, this type of stuff is titillating (bad choice of words) to so many people, and there appears to be so many photos of this.

She is just there sunbathing, not doing anything lewd or worse.

But again, this is the future queen of England! For shame!

The whole thing reeks of yellow journalism, but more importantly, it shows that some factions of the media simply never learn.

Not that I was enmeshed in the worldwide love affair that so many seemed to have with Princess Diana all those years ago, but the papparzzi simply went head over heels about this woman.

She was followed everywhere, and they clung to her like old gum clings to your sneakers.

And she lost her life while being pursued by these people.

Sure, the British press isn't the ones pushing this latest episode, but shouldn't people know better?

Kate Middleton appears to have her feet on the ground a little more than Prince William's mom did. Diana seemed to be overwhelmed with her status as a royal, but give Middleton credit, she seems to be embracing the challenge.

She and William have sued these trashy magazines for publishing the photos, but I have some words of advice for Middleton, who I know reads this blog on a daily basis (yeah, right).

1) Watch your appearance, no matter where you are. They will find you. It's amazing that you can even go to the bathroom without a camera taking pictures of you.

2) It's probably better to ignore the whole thing, rather than cast another set of eyes on something that will fall by the wayside before you know it.

People in the public eye have done much, much worse than sunbathing topless. You will survive, and the world will survive.

Just watch yourself from hereon in.

And pass that advice on to Prince Harry, too.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Rant #805 : The New Year

Sunday night  is the start of the holiest period during the year for Jews around the world. Rosh Hashanah commences this period, starting at sundown on Sunday, Sept. 16. This holiday continues for the next two days, on Monday, Sept. 17 and ends during the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 18.

On the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 25, Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, commences, and lasts a single day, ending on Wednesday, Sept. 26.

A few years back, I posted a rant about these holidays, and I figured it was high time to rerun part of it, so here it is, in updated form.

"Although I am not a religious Jew by any stretch of the imagination, I do participate in these holidays. They are holidays that ask Jews to examine their strengths, and weaknesses, during the past year and to reflect on how they can improve themselves during the upcoming year. They are holidays of both introspection and group prayer. During Yom Kippur, observant Jews fast, to show their forgiveness to God, and also to show their strength.

It is with this understanding of what the holiday means that I have always had this conundrum with how the rest of the world should look at these holidays. Should the “outside” world recognize this holy time of year or simply ignore it?

Living in New York, where there are a large amount of Jews, has made these holidays pretty well known by the non-Jewish population. In fact, schools are generally closed during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

I once found out years ago that the reason New York City schools close on these holidays is that since such a large portion of their teachers are Jewish, it was not prudent to open when three-quarters of the teachers would be out.

This year, there are the usual myriad controversies revolving around whether certain events should be held on these holidays or not.

Professional sports leagues will go about their business during these holidays, but this year, at least one team--the Chicago White Sox--has changed the starting time of its game on the day of the beginning of Rosh Hashanah to appease many of its fans who would not be able to attend the game due to their faith.

But on the other hand, I am sure people are asking why their schedules have to be turned upside down to placate a group of fans.

When my son was in Little League, the league would, every year, schedule games on the first two nights of Passover. Although Passover is not one of the holiest occasions on the Jewish calendar, it is a holiday which revolves around the family, and the traditional seder, and garners wide participation even among non-observant Jews.

The league, of course, never had a game on Easter Sunday.

My workplace does not give me off for the Jewish holidays, even though the late owner was Jewish himself. I have to take the day(s) off as personal days.

Is this right? Shouldn’t everyone be given days off to celebrate their most holiest of holidays, whether it be Yom Kippur or Good Friday?

However, should business stop because a major religious holiday is being celebrated?

I don’t have an answer, and it is something that has puzzled me for years. These are religious holidays, and thus, they are more personal than say July 4 or Labor Day are.

The bottom line is this: do we suspend our usual day's activities because a major religion has one of its holiest days to celebrate?"

That's what I wrote a while back, updated to fit 2012.

I still have those questions, and I don't think those questions will ever be answered.

Anyway, have a good holiday. I will take the day off on Monday, so see you Tuesday.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Rant #804: Blurring Fantasy and Reality

Something happened on Monday evening that thoroughly blurred the line between fantasy and reality.

Professional wrestling has never been held up as the bastion of reality. Its made up storylines and planned matches have turned as many people off as it has turned people on to this so-called sport, which is actually more of a performance, although athleticism is used as a backdrop for all the nonsense.

Anyway, on the long-running Monday Night Raw series, WWE wrestlers were participating in a tag-team bout when all eyes seemingly turned away from the bout and to the announcers' table.

Using "the show must go on" axiom to the hilt, the match continued, but no one was watching it.

Long-time announcer Jerry "The King" Lawler, a former top-level professional wrestler and now announcer who sometimes laces up the boots for bouts, passed out at the table, and medics rushed to his side.

Minutes earlier, Lawler, 62, had just participated in a match where, among other things, he jumped off the top rope several times against much, much younger opponents.

With the world that the WWE created--where fantasy and reality are ofen so blurred that one runs into another--many in the crowd thought that Lawler's passing out was part of the storyline, just another chapter in the live show that would lead to something else.

But lo and behold, this wasn't fantasy.

Lawler stopped breathing as he was attended to by the medics.

He was rushed out of the arena, and taken to a local hospital in Montreal, Canada, where he is today.

He suffered a heart attack, has had a stent put in, and is in critical condition, the last time I looked.

As for the show, since it is live and beamed to a worldwide audience, the show had to go on.

No announcing was done, although Lawler's broadcast partner, Michael Cole, shined during his finest hour, giving updates on Lawler's condition to the stunned audience.

I wish Lawler the best. I was never a fan of his as a wrestler--you might remember that years ago, he pile-drove comic Andy Kauffman in another incident that blurred fantasy and reality--and I never liked him as an announcer.

But he has been a major personality in pro wrestling for four decades, and he doesn't deserve to go out like this.

Pro wrestling has often been knocked as being the most artificial of ventures, but in this case, real life won out.

I just hope that Jerry Lawler does too.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Rant #803: Monkee Shines

Today, September 12. might not be a day that you would tend to write down on the calendar as one to remember, but for me and millions of others, it is a day to remember fondly.

I was not quite nine and a half years old, and I was a very impressionable kid.

I loved television; my mother said that as a very young child, I used to jump up and down in the crib when "American Bandstand" was on the air.

Well, by this time I was out of the crib, but my fascination with television and music remained.

I was a huge fan of "Where the Action Is," the daily program showcasing America's hottest recording acts, and I still watched "American Bandstand."

But what came on NBC--Channel 4 in New York--at 7:30 p.m. that Monday 46 years ago may have changed me forever.

NBC premiered its new sitcom, "The Monkees," on this date, and the world of television and music changed forever ... and it certainly changed me forever, too.

Based on the Beatles' concept that was used during "A Hard Day's Night," the half hour show showcased four young long-hairs: Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Peter Tork and old woolhat, Michael Nesmith--getting into one fracas after another, all punctuated by music.

It was like a live-action cartoon, with all the cuts, jokes, speeded up sequences, and general nonsense, and the music was interspersed into the segments. Everything fit together perfectly, and the music was really, really good.

"Last Train to Clarksville" was already moving up the charts prior to the show's debut, and its placement on the show drove it to the No. 1 spot on the charts.

Many, many other hits followed, driven by the show--and that was the whole point.

For the first time, TV was selling music, not radio.

Sure, the Chipmunks and Ricky Nelson used their shows to sell their music to a certian extent, but the Monkees' show was really the first 30-minute commercial for rock music.

And radio had no choice but to bite into the pie that was being served on a weekly basis.

During its two-year run, the show was never an overall ratings winner, but it was a top show for the demographic it was pointed at, namely kids like me.

The show won a couple of Emmy Awards, so it wasn't just the music that was high quality, it was the actual sitcom itself.

Sure, there was controversy. The then-emerging rock establishment frowned on the concept, because the boys hadn't put in their dues.

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Jones had plied his trade in his native England and on Broadway; Dolenz had been a Hollywood brat, starring in "Circus Boy" and was a guitarist with a band which was ironically named the Missing Links; Tork was a Greenwich Village folkie; and Nesmith had been hanging around for several years, recording several now hard to find singles in the folk, rock and country veins.

And also, it was "discovered" that they didn't play their own instruments on their first two albums, which was a common theme among many groups at the time, although few would acknowledge it. Yes, they later played on their albums and in concert.

Those controversies aside, the Monkees then starred in a movie that was so far off what they did during their sitcom that it really has to be seen to be believed that something like this could ever have been released to theaters.

"Head" showed the demise of the Monkees, right on the large screen. Concocted by Micky, Peter, Mike and Davy with Jack Nicholson, the movie takes the Monkees' story and discombobulates it to the point that the group isn't even the star of its own story--the story is the star.

It might be the greatest rock and roll movie ever made, and although it bombed when originally released, it has become quite the cult favorite over the past 40-plus years.

The Monkees did one TV special right after this, "33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee," which has turned into another cult favorite, held on with various levels of un-success, and officially died in 1970.

But wait, the story didn't end there.

Various reunions of some of the band members led to incredible tours, one major hit record, and a continued legion of adoring fans.

Davy Jones passed earlier this year, but the band lives on. Micky, Peter and yes, Mike, will have something of a mini-tour during late fall, and the tour is completely sold out.

Somehow, fans still love the Monkees. And I mean all ages of fans, not just old fuddy duddies like myself.

So here's a salute to the boys. The deserve it.

The Monkees have made me "shine" for the past nearly 50 years.

And I know it isn't just me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rant #802: Take a Tablet a Day ...

Toys 'R Us has announced that it will soon release its own tablet computer, geared to kids.

It's called "Tabeo," and it will retail for about $150.

Its debut is geared to the holiday season/

There are other kids' tablet computers out there, namely by LeapFrog. But this is the first time a kids' retailer is releasing its own proprietary tablet computer.

It will be loaded with "kid-friendly" aps, and it will be directed at parents with children probably in the 7-12 year old age group ...

Just what this group needs.

Computers are a wonderful thing, and the Internet is too. I'm not saying that either one is necessarily evil, because, let's face it, if I did, I would be quite the hypocrite.

But kids today are generally anti-social, because they are on the computer way too often.

They don't know how to make relationships away from the computer.

And once they are on the computer, they are open to heaven knows what.

People take advantage of the proximity of the Internet,and they can take advantage of kids who don't know any better either.

I understand the premise behind this latest tablet.

It's like in the "olden" days, when they had kids watches that taught youngsters to tell time.

It's the same thing with these computers, helping children learn about computers and the Internet with a device geared to them.

But computers and the Internet aren't kids watches.

They are serious devices that can lead to education and fun, but can also lead to anti-social behavior.

I, for one, would be very wary in buying my young child a tablet computer.

If he or she wants to use such a device, he can use mom or dad's--under supervision.

With such devices, we are feeding into a "computer plague," so to speak, and I don't think it is necessary for a child to have such a computer at such an early age.

Others will tell me that I don't know what I am talking about, but this rash of giving kids such electronics before they are ready to fully handle their responsibility doesn't look like it's going to end anytime soon.

And I think our society is the worse for it.

Let kids be kids, and not saddle them with the need to have the same electronics mom and dad have.

They simply aren't ready for it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Rant #801: Tarzan of the Apes

Tarzan of the Apes turns 100 today.

In 1912, the book featuring the character for the first time, "Tarzan of the Apes," by Edgar Rice Burroughs, was released.

The book talked about a young child who was lost in the jungle, and raised by apes.

He wasn't an ape, but he acted like one.

Of course, he was handsome, viral and was as athletic as any person on earth.

The books made their mark, and Hollywood called.

Elmo Lincoln, Johnny Weismuller and a whole slew of other Tarzans filled the role over the years.

And all of the actors fit the part perfectly--young, handsome, and very athletic, especially Weismuller, who was perhaps the best of all the screen Tarzans.

What he possessed that the others didn't was that "rough" look. He really looked like he could have been Tarzan, had the character actually been a real person.

And that yelp--well, no one before or since has duplicated it.

However, the Tarzan that I resonate with the most is Ron Ely.

Yes, there have also been a slew of TV Tarzans, but Ely filled that role in a mid-1960s TV show that was really so far off the mark that it was ridiculous.

Ely played a Tarzan that was socialized, spoke perfect English, and was more a superhero/adventurer than anything else.

Heck, the Supremes (yes, Diana Ross and ... ) actually guest starred on the show as ... nuns!

It was a ridiculous show, but as a young kid, I guess I kind of liked it.

The character has continued on, as strong as ever, in the movies, on TV, in comic books and cartoons and other media, and shows no sign of dying out.

It's that basicness of the character--a human raised by apes--that I think gets people going on this character.

So happy 100th birthday to Burroughs' best creation (sorry, John Carter), and many, many more.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Rant #800: The Big 8-0-0

Today, we reach 800 official blog entries on this site.

Over the past few weeks, I may have doubted that we would ever reach this number, but we did reach it, even if I’m limping to the finish line right now.

The number 800 is an interesting number. It is perhaps most well known as the number prefix you dial for toll-free numbers, as in 1-8-0-0-whatever.

Nothing really happened in the year 800 that bears worth mentioning here.

But it’s a number with a lot of circles in it, if nothing else.

Nobody has hit 800 home runs in Major League Baseball, although in Japan, Sadaharu Oh supposedly hit more than 800 dingers—868—during his career over there.

I don't know much else about the number 800, other than we've reached it here.

Thanks for continuing to visit this site, and thanks for giving me enough strength to reach this number.

Here's for another 800--at least.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Rant #799: Lap Dancing As Art?

You walk into your local strip club, with a fistful of dollars in your wallet.

You sit down, watching the slinkily clad women doing their thing.

One comes over to you, leading you to a private area where she tells you that for x amount of dollars, she will perform a lap dance for you.

Is her lap dance art, or trash?

An attorney for an Albany, New York strip club claims it is art, akin to performance art, and claims that lap dances should be freed of state sales taxes under an exemption that applies to dramatic or musical arts performances.

The attorney claims that lap dancing is an art form and the state is not qualifed to make such a determination, which would be a violation of the right to freedom of expression.

A ruling is expected in October, and would impact about 200 such establishments in the state.

I don't know abou you, but lap dancing isn't the Bolshoi Ballet, and it isn't even break dancing.

It is completely, 100 percent sexual. Some guys (and gals) evidently need this "freedom of expression" to get their jollies off, I guess, but to put it up there with other freedoms of expression is kinda out there, isn't it?

I have been to one strip club in my life. It was during a bachelor party many years ago for my then brother in law.

I hated every minute of it. While you are watching the festivities, you get pumped for money for drinks. If you don't drink, even if you have paid your admission, you can't watch.

It's not my thing at all, but I know for others, it is their thing.

But to rate it as art is kind of strange.

It's almost like saying that when people protest, that's art too.

I don't buy it.

Next, there will be some lawyer that claims that prostitution is art too. Freedom of expression ...

I am no prude, but let these establishments survive, and thrive, but art ...

No way.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Rant #798: Physical Therapy and ... Raquel!

Just to keep you up to date on my pinched nerve, my doctor told me yesterday that I would need physical therapy two to three days a week for at least a month to try to get rid of this things I have.

If that doesn't work, an epidural injection might be the way to go.

He can't guarantee that I will be the same that I was before I injured myself, but any lessening of the pain would be a positive.

I hurt so much now that I will take what I can get.

I point to "The Lockhorns" comic strip today.

In the single panel strip, the doctor asks Mr. Lockhorn, "Where doesn't it hurt?"

I am in the same predicament.

I hurt all over.

Well, not all over, but my right arm is absolutely killing me.

And since I'm a righty, it makes things all that much worse.]

I am learning to do things with my left arm, although the doctor did say that going to work was, in fact, making it worse.

But I can't sit home; I don't have enough sick days to do that.

So I trudge along.

And, oh yes, happy birthday Raquel Welch.

I have never been a big fan of hers, but she is what she is--the last real, old fashioned, honest to goodness sex symbol that Hollywood produced.

She made one good movie--"Fantastic Voyage"--where her sexiness was downplayed.

And she made numerous horrid films--including "Kansas City Bojmber"--where her sexiness was completely overplayed.

She was no Marilyn Monroe, not even a Jayne Mansfield.

But in the 1960s and early 1970s, the name "Raquel" almost became a code word for sex.

Heck, even Russ Meyer had a film named "Harry, Cherry and Raquel."

So, her legacy is intact as she celebrates another birthday.

Good for her.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Rant #797: Labor Day, Indeed

Today is Labor Day.

Most of you who are reading this have the day off from work. You can frolic with your family, have a barbecue, and enjoy yourself on the unofficial last day of summer.

I can't. I have to work today.

Yes, I labor on Labor Day, and I am not too happy about it, to tell you the truth.

Sure, we get the day back to us as a "makeup" day later when we need it, but laboring on Labor Day when everyone else is off is a pain the neck, adding to the pinched nerve in my neck that I already have.

I have read the "Dennis the Menace" comic strip seemingly since I could read, and today's panel pretty much summarizes how I get into my own mind that working on Labor Day isn't that bad.

Dennis tells Joey and Margaret the following:

"What's so good about Labor Day? We don't get presents and there's nothin' special to eat."

That is about the only way I can get through this day.

And by the way, my wife is working, too, so the day isn't the best day of the year in my household.

Not by a long shot.

So while you are swimming, barbecuing, watching a baseball game, or taking it easy, think of me and my plight.

No, I don't think you will, but evidently, the world doesn't stop on Labor Day.

And by the way, there won't be a blog entry tomorrow, because I am finally seeing the doctor again related to my recent MRI.

I will see you again on Wednesday, hopefully with some good news.

See you then.

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