Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Rant #836: Back To Normal (?)

Today, we get back to normal.

Or do we?

I called up my work last night, spoke to the vice president who is holding down the fort (another story for another time), and he told me they had power, but no Internet.

I kind of find this hard to believe, since just about every area in that town is without power, but he says we have power, well, I have to go into work today.

I supposedly have physical therapy today. I called the office, but the message has not been updated since Monday, so I have no idea if I have it or not.

My wife has to go into work, and she has a later shift today, so at least she can sleep a little bit.

But here's where things are not getting back to normal, not getting back to normal by any stretch of the imagination.

My son still doesn't have school, and based on the enormous way our town was hit, I don't really know when he will have school again.

From what I have heard, there are no traffic lights operating throughout my county, so when I drive, I am going to have to be extra, extra careful.

And for those who lost their homes, well, things won't be getting back to normal any time soon.

People still can't get out of their neighborhoods, and can't get to work because mass transit remains a mess.

On a side note--and I do really mean that, since to most people, this mention is really inconsequential--the Nets are going to play the Knicks tomorrow night in the Barclay Center in Brooklyn.

This is the first game of the new NBA season for both teams, and thus, the first season game at the new arena.

But to show you the stupidity of it all, the Barclay Center has been touted as being at the center of transportation in the Metropolitan New York area, right at the Long Island Railroad train stop and surrounded by subway stops.

The problem is that nothing is running. Nothing.

No subways, no railroad, limited buses, and some cabs.

So how is anyone going to get there? You really can't even drive there, because there is no ample parking around.

Mayor Bloomberg has vowed to be there. Of course he said he would be there, once again showing to the masses that he is better than they are.

What is one supposed to do, walk there?

Anyway, this is the first day that we try to get back to normal, or at least the first day we try to get back to normal.

But for some, what is normal, especially when your home has been washed away by this terrible hurricane?

I don't know. I just don't know.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rant #835: Safe At Home

Well, Hurricane Sandy, at least for myself and my family, wasn't as bad as it could have been.

And I am very thankful for that.

We had power losses throughout the night, but nothing substantial.

It was just the old pain in the butt thing that when the power goes out and then, a minute later, when it goes on, you have to check everything and reset what needs to be reset.

Inside our house, the rod holding up the blinds in our living room fell down. I can't exactly figure out why that happened, but the pummeling the house took from the winds must have had something to do with it.

One of the lines outside the house was flickering last night, which probably means that the insulation around the wiring became dislodged from the winds. It sparked for about a half hour, and we did call the authorities about it.

They will get to it when they get to it, and that might be several days.

Other places in our surrounding communities were hit much harder than we were, with downed trees and power lines, water all over the place, and other calamities hitting them hard.

As for my work, I called them at 8:30 p.m. last night to tell them I wasn't coming in.

I got to one of the vice presidents, who presumably stayed over holding down the fort last night.

"Well, we'll see tomorrow how bad it is," he said to me after I told him I wasn't coming in today.

"No, I am not coming in," I replied.

And to this moment, I haven't gotten a call from them about whether our place of business is open or closed today.

But since they have said that all Nassau County roads are closed, and the rain and wind are still here, somehow, I don't think I will be venturing outside much, if at all, today.

At least I was at work yesterday.

But anyway, my parents are OK, my sister hasn't had power for many hours now, but I think we all pulled through this storm pretty well.

I know New York City is basically totally shut down. No mass transit and numerous areas that were hard hit have caused the city to be in lockdown mode.

But I still think it could have been much, much worse, and for those who were hard hit, I know that you will pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get back in the saddle as soon as possible.

Look! The sun is trying to come out as I look out the window!

That tells me that things are going to be getting better.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Rant #834: Back Home

Here is another uncharacteristic Monday afternoon Rant, because quite frankly, I don't know what Hurricane Sandy has in for my neck of the woods tonight and tomorrow.

Anyway, my place did let us out early.

We had maybe 30 percent attendance, and while I had plenty to do, the fact of the matter was that things were getting worse and worse outside, making any travel treacherous.

So at about 12:30, they finally let us leave.

Driving home was fine for the most part.

There were hardly any cars on the road, and I had little trouble getting around.

There were two roadblocks I had to maneuver around: one was on the highway I use to get back and forth to work. They blocked off the area just past the exit I use on my way home; the other was on the street that I use to get home from the highway, and just following other cars, I was able to find my way back to where I should be.

Now that I am home, I am wondering where my wife is.

She told me she was also being allowed to leave early from her work, but so far, she has not shown up at home yet.

I am sure she will be home soon. She has also been given the day off tomorrow, which is good.

(She just walked in the door.)

I have not been given that day off yet, so as of now, off to work I will go.

Let's see what happens, and let's see if I can visit with you tomorrow.

"Anyway the Wind Blows ... ."

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Rant #833: Hit Me With Your Best Shot

This is an early Rant, one of the few times I have every posted on a Sunday.

It is supposed to be really bad in my neck of the woods tomorrow.

Long Island is supposed to get the brunt of Hurricane Sandy, and between the rain and winds of 70 miles per hour, things promise to be a bit of a mess.

Since I don't even know if we are going to have power, I figured I would put this out now, while the electricity is on.

And no, tomorrow is not a sleep-in day for either myself or my wife.

My wife received a call this evening that her bank will be open.

Why, I don't know. I guess people in the middle of a hurricane enjoy going to the bank to count their money.

Me, well, my place never closes.

Without getting into specifics, my place of business has no emergency weather plan.

Their credo is: If you can get to work, fine, if not, you can't get to work.

I kid you not.

Two years ago during a blizzard, I somehow got to work, but not before I almost got into a major car accident when my car spun around in the middle of a busy thoroughfare.

I got to work, very angry that I had even tried to get there, and the phone rang.

I picked it up, thinking it was someone to tell me that we were closed.

It was the owner of the place, who passed away a few months ago.

He says to me, "What are you doing there?" and I asked him, "Are we closed?"

He didn't know.

I later asked one of the vice presidents if we were open or closed, and he told me, "You managed to make it to work, and others won't be at work today."

That is the answer I received.

Pretty pathetic.

So when no one is out on the road tomorrow, I will be, as will my wife.

Heck, even my physical therapy session was canceled for today.

Smarter heads prevailed in our school district, which has shut down for at least tomorrow, so my son is home safe.

Well, anyway, if you are impacted by the storm, I hope it is minimally. I hope to see you back here on Tuesday, but let's see what happens.

The worst of the storm is supposed to occur Monday night into Tuesday morning, so everything is literally and figuratively up in the air.

Let's hope it all stays on the ground.

But I can take it.

Hit me with your best shot! Fire away!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Rant #832: All It Takes Is $20

I heard yesterday that the Rolling Stones, probably the biggest rock concert draw of all time, will be holding a series of concerts where the price of admission will be ...

Get this ...

Only $20.

That's right, just $20.

The kicker to this is that they will be performing in smaller clubs to hone their act for their upcoming, very short tour celebrating their 50th anniversary.

I know that this will set off a flurry of speculation about where they will be and how to get tickets, because as you know, seeing the Rolling Stones live can often cost you a bundle for just a single ticket.

And you can bet that if any of these one-off concerts is held in the U.S., lucky people will get their tickets and many will go right to the secondary market, and once again, you will have to sacrifice an arm and a leg to see them live.

Those $20 tickets will probably go for hundreds of dollars on that market, if not more.

Right now, I believe the only place they've announced these concerts is in Europe, but if they come to North America, watch out!

The Stones have done this before.

In the 1970s, they played numerous smaller concerts in preparation for larger ones, and although many were bootlegged, one actually came out legitimately, the "Live at the El Mocambo" LP.

And you can bet the current crop of concerts will be heavily bootlegged, and it probably won't be as difficult as it once was to do, what with cell phones being ubiquitous right now.

But whatever the case, some people will have the opportunity to see the Stones for $20, or in Europe, whatever the monetary equivalent of $20 is.

And that is a steal, a real steal.

I have never seen them live, but it must be quite an experience, one that might be drawing to a close.

These guys are in their 70s or at least pushing that number.

How long can they go on?

Would you pay to see 80 year old Stones?

Would they even want to see themselves performing at that stage of their lives?

You never know, because 80 is the new 40, isn't it?

I sure hope so, because that makes my 55 years the new 30.

I wish I knew then what I know now, that's all I can say.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rant #831: They Done Did It

The NHL's New York Islanders have announced that they will be moving to Brooklyn in 2015, playing their games at the brand new Barclay Center.

They will be abandoning Long Island's Nassau Coliseum for better digs, much like the Nets left the Coliseum in the 1970s.

The Islanders will now join the Nets at the new venue, leaving the Nassau Coliseum with nothing.

And I do mean nothing.

The Coliseum has no professional sports teams in its roster. It has become a maybe third-rate venue for the circus, the Harlem Globetrotters, and the WWE, but with the Barlclay Center as its new rival, it will have a hard time attracting even tractor pulling at this juncture.

I just knew this was going to happen.

I wrote about this some time ago here. The Nassau Hub, including the Nassau Coliseum, has been a political football for years.

The Islanders first brought up the need for a new venue more than 20 years ago, and ironically, what happened there happened in Brooklyn--and Manhattan--in the 1950s, when New York City turned a deaf ear on the Dodgers and Giants' desire for their own new digs.

Nothing happened then, and the teams left.

Nothing happened now, and the Islanders left.

And as usual, you can blame the politicians, who would rather carve out their own political agendas rather than do something that we all can be proud of.

And you can blame Islander ownership, who thought too big, couldn't answer certain questions, and tried to cover up their inadequacies by laying it all on Nassau County taxpayers.

Well, with the Islanders gone, what do you do with this area? Do you make it into a mixed-use haven for housing and technology and retail, do you retain some aspect of an arena as part of the plan?

What do you do?

Supposedly, we will all find out next week, as we have been told that a master developer will be named for the area.

My thought is that the area will be zoned for mixed use, and there will be some type of arena at the site, or at least some type of sports and entertainment-related venue there..

Whether it can viably compete with not just the Barclay Center, but also Madison Square Garden, is doubtful.

What you need is a developer with a vision for something totally different for that venue, something that the other two sites do not offer.

I was thinking of an outdoor stadium with not only a retractable roof, but also a retractable field. I believe there is one such place in existence, in Hawaii. There was talk for such a stadium for the Mets before CitiField was conceived.

Make it a smaller venue, like the minor league Ducks play in in Central Islip. It can be used for both outdoor and indoor events, including concerts.

Why not? Think outside the box ...

Something all those involved in this fiasco didn't do.

And ironically, the Nets, the former Coliseum tenants, played the Knicks in a preseason game there last night.

The Nets wore their throwback 1970s Julius Erving-style jerseys, because the Knicks refused to wear their home jerseys.

And to add insult to injury, the Nets were designated the home team for last night's game.

Yes, yesterday was a dark day for Long Island, and it had nothing to do with the Nets' new black and white logo and motif.

The whole situation stinks, but when you get politicians involved, this is what you get.

And when they do announce what they are doing with the Nassau Hub, unless it's something really special that includes some type of arena, I can guarantee that you will hear a collective yawn coming from all those who remember the Coliseum as something of a special place.

Brooklyn, here were come ... ?

(And to add insult to injury, I just received my occasional "Coliseum Connection" email--heralding the Islanders move to Brooklyn! Do you believe that they have the nerve to send something like this out--and with all the information about Brooklyn yet. Talk about sticking the knife in and turning it!)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Rant #830: Message In a Bottle

Well, not really.

But today is the 151st anniversary of the first transcontinental telegraph message.

On this date in 1861, Chief Justice Stephen J. Field of California sent a message from San Francisco to President Abraham Lincoln, who was in his office in Washington, D.C.

The line was built by Western Union Telegraph Company.

With the wonders of the Internet, we often forget that it took many, many baby steps to get there.

From smoke signals to instant messaging, there were lots of stops in between.

We had carrier pigeons, and, of course, sending a letter has been around forever, but later, we had the most important invention in communication, the telephone. People could talk one on one with each other, and actually hear their voice.

This was basically the way that most people communicated with others in the late 19th and throughout the 20th century.

But with the uptick in technology, today, the phone is almost inadequate, and that's why while we still communicate by phone, our phones can do so much more today.

Little could Lincoln and Field realize that their act set off a technological breakthrough in communication that continues to this day.

And as for Lincoln, the President that is perhaps best known for being our leader during the Civil War and freeing the slaves, as well as being gunned down by John Wilkes Booth, well, he was at the forefront of that era's technological boom.

You could say that if it wasn't for him getting Field's communication on the other side of the line, these other technological breakthroughs would not have happened ... or at least, would have been put off until this initial breakthrough was perfected.

So, while Lincoln was called "The Great Emancipator," he was also possibly the world's first tech geek too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Rant #829: Gotta Get Up

Getting up in the morning isn't the easiest thing to do.

Especially during the week--when we have work, and if we're younger, school, to look forward to, wouldn't you prefer to stay in bed?

And last night, I really could have slept longer.

I had a busy day at work, and had physical therapy afterwards for that pinched nerve that I have in my neck (I have learned to live with it a bit better, but honestly, it isn't going away so quick).

I don't go into work as early, so I have about an hour more of sleep each night.

But I really didn't want to get out of bed this morning.

My wife woke up, and once she put the hall light on, I knew I was a goner.

I just got my son up from his own slumber, and he also looks like he could use a bit more bed time.

Funny, on the weekend, when I am supposed to be more relaxed, I really don't sleep that well.

I stay up later, but that doesn't prolong my sleep at all.

And on Sundays, forget about it.

I haven't had a good sleep in months, if not years. For some reason, I can't sleep on Sundays. I am up at all hours and constantly look at my watch to see what time it is.

My mother has often told me that I was a bit of a fussy sleeper when I was a baby, and that I would only sleep outside the house, not inside it.

I would sleep in my baby carriage, but once I was in the crib in the house, I was a holy terror.

I guess it was those bars; they probably made me feel like I was in some sleep jail.

So while I go in and try to get my son up again from his slumber, I, too, would love to just crawl back in the bed and take a couple of more hours to get myself ready for the day.

But it isn't going to happen.

In fact, if I even tried to go back to sleep, I probably wouldn't be able to.

Once I'm up, I'm up, and that's just the way it is.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Rant #828: Annette's Birthday

Every summer, when my family and I are ready to go on vacation, I highlight this right here with a picture of Annette Funicello in a bathing suit.

I seem to think that having a picture of her here in a swim suit signifies that summer is finally here for myself and my family.

Today marks her 70th birthday, and while her current quality of life isn't as good as one would hope it would be, her life has been a special one.

As one of the original Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeers, Funicello's popularity was one of the earliest instances of the power of television.

Kids tuned in daily to watch her and her fellow Mouseketeers, and parents tuned in to see Funicello literally grow up in front of the camera, from a child to sort of a woman-child.

Because of her obvious talents--and yes, those included her physical attributes--she became the star of the sho, and was maybe the first kid star of the new television generation to get such coverage by the mainstream press.

It just shows how good genes can really make you a star.

But she backed up her good genes with lots of talent, scoring not only with TV audiences, but also with record fans.

She placed 10 songs on the Hot 100 between 1959 and 1961, including a couple of major hits, such as "Tall Paul," "O Dio Mio," and "Pineapple Princess."

During the pre-Beatle years, she was one of the top female singing stars.

But she was no longer a kid. She was a woman, and she had to move into roles that signaled that she was no longer a little girl anymore.

With her musical career fading, she became the belle of the beach movies, those mid-1960s youth fests that showed plenty of flesh without showing much of anything.

Made on the cheap, movies like "How Do You Stuff a Wild Bikini" and "Beach Blanket Bingo" made millions, and Annette and Frankie Avalon led a troupe of viral kids in these movies.

Lots was suggested, but these movies were often as tame as "The Mickey Mouse Club" was.

But they showed Annette in her bathing suit throughout the films, which was great for the box office.

Later, she got married in real life, had a family of her own, and moved out of those films, but became a big star in TV commercials, including for Skippy Peanut Butter.

When she pitched something, you bought it. Her credibility factor was quite high.

Launching a film comeback in the 1980s with the highly successful "Back to the Beach," something was found to be amiss with Funicello's health.

She was found to have multiple sclerosis, and the disease quickly sapped her of her strength. She can no longer walk or speak, from reports that I've read, and she needs around the clock medical care.

She has fought a brave battle against various health issues for the past quarter century or so, and every once in a while, her name gets into the news.

There was a house fire a few years ago that nearly killed her, but she continues on.

Although she has been ill for so long, Funicello continues to be a popular figure on the Web.

Her Facebook site--unofficial, and not run by her or her family--has thousands of members, and her recordings continue to be re-released on CD.

And "The Mickey Mouse Club" is out on DVD, and occasionally gets airings on TV.

So now reaching 70, Funicello has hit another personal milestone.

Here's to Annette, and I hope that her quality life is as good as it can be for the rest of her life.

She deserves it.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Rant #827: Crystal Kristel

I am sure you have heard that actress Sylvia Kristel, who will be forever known as the star of the 1970s erotic "Emmanuelle" film franchise, died at age 60 from cancer.

The 1970s were a different time indeed, for sexual awareness.

Coming off the free and easy 1960s--when many sexual taboos were blown off the map--films began to reflect this new atmosphere.

Just about everything was a go, and nudity and sexual permissiveness were now the norm, not the exception.

Suddenly, it was OK to see an X-rated movie with your partner, and films like "Deep Throat" were playing to packed audiences away from Times Square.

But those films were still found to be too raunchy for many local movie houses, so right around the corner came soft core films like "Emmanuelle," films made in Europe which promised a bit more than they actually delivered.

Lots of nudity, lots of grunting and groaning, but little else.

Kristel was a statuesque beauty who had to be persuaded by her boyfriend to do these movies. Tall, thin and with long legs, she became the fantasy of many, although the movies were pretty wretched, by any standards.

But they made money, and she set the groundwork for numerous other actresses to portray the title characters over the decades--yes, decades.

Just check out late-night cable TV on the movie channels, and you will find that "Emmanuelle" movies are still being churned out, with different actresses playing the leading role.

And they pretty much follow the same format--a young, innocent beauty introduced to sexual pursuits by others.

Sure, there has been an "Emmanuelle In Space," or something to that effect, but generally, the movies follow the pattern I described.

Kristel made many other films, most of them soft core ones like "Emmanuelle," and even made a few films in the U.S.

But her life kind of faded afterward, and she fell into drink and drugs, only to emerge most recently behind the scenes as a director.

But to many, she will always be Emmanuelle, and even if those films were pretty awful, they made plenty of money, and isn't that what the bottom line is in the entertainment field anyway?

(P.S.: And congratulations to the Tigers. They beat my Yankees, and gave them a real good whipping. Onto the World Series ... .)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rant #826: Mad Libs

Larry Sloan has died.

No, you probably don't know who he is, but you probably knew what he did better than who he was.

As a kid growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, there were these very thin paperbacks that you could buy at any stationery shop in your neighborhood for $1.

You would buy them when you had parties, or just to use when you had a lot of time on your hands.

You would open the thin book up, and there were stories in there with spaces for missing words.

The story would ask you to replace the missing spaces with words for "a verb' or "an adjective," but when done the right way at parties, the people giving you the verbs and adjectives had no idea what the story was about, and thus, their verbs and adjectives often didn't make sense, leading to funny stories read aloud.

The ultimate parlor game, Sloan helped to develop the "Mad Libs" line of paperbacks, books which sold millions and millions of copies over the decades.

Sloan was actually the third partner brought in to help develop this series, which was actually created by two TV writers, one being Leonard Stern, who went on to help develop "Get Smart."

The other was Roger Price.

These guys were nerdy as all hell, but they had one common love: of words and their meanings, and they turned that into "Mad Libs."

In today's Internet age, "Mad Libs" are still around, but I doubt they have the impact that they had way back when.

They do have an official web site,, which is a fun site to visit.

I remember kids' parties where it was almost a given that we would play "Mad Libs," and the results were funny.

The definition of what is "funny" have changed over the generations, so I don't know if a "verb meaning movement" would have as much impact today as it did back then.

Do kids even know what a verb is today?

That aside, Sloan and his partners' love of words have endured for generations, and while his passing probably gets nothing more than a footnote in the annals of world history, in word history, his passing is at the top of the list.

(Noun) is my favorite blog, and (noun) (verb) every day.

Nah, it's not the same, but I think you get my (noun).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Rant #825: (You Don't Have To) Paint Me a Picture

Yes, my Yankees are on the blink of obliteration.

The Presidential debates took place in my back yard yesterday, but I fell asleep as they were about to start.

My day started with no hot water, and later yesterday morning, something leaked out of my lunch bag onto my pants, creating a stain that I could not fully remove.

Woe is me.

But I can always go back to my record collection to get back to reality.

Today, another one of my lost treasures that I am going to talk about is one of the hits from Gary Lewis and the Playboys.

Gary Lewis and his band were one of those acts that were made for the mid-1960s.

Lewis was born with something of a silver spoon in his mouth, as the son of comedian Jerry Lewis, but he chose to take a different show biz turn than his dad.

His band got a gig at Disneyland, and not using his connections, became very successful there. They were signed to a recording contract by Liberty Records, and the story goes that only then did the label discover that Lewis was Jerry's son.

Lewis and his bandmates were one of the hottest American rock acts from 1965 to about 1967, when he was drafted into the Army. Lewis resumed his career after his discharge in 1968, but it was never the same as those first glory years.

Bursting onto the scene with the No. 1 hit "This Diamond Ring," Lewis and his band followed that up with a string of big hits, including "Count Me In," "Everybody Loves a Clown," and "She's Just My Style."

Nothing too heady about these songs, but they were pop-radio ready, and were huge hits for the time.

In October 1966, the string was starting to run out on Lewis, but he was still charting hits.

"(You Don't Have To) Paint Me a Picture" reached No. 15 on the charts, a pretty big hit, but not up to the standards of his previous 45s.

It featured something of a staccato delivery by Lewis, not one of the most gifted singers to begin with, but it had a lilt that I kind of liked.

It got lots of airplay, and it was his last Top 20 hit before he went into the service.

And yes, that's my original picture sleeve of the song, which still looks pretty nice.

I remember him appearing on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in sort of a semi-official sendoff for him into the Army.

If I remember correctly, Sullivan allowed some of Lewis' fans--female fans--to come up to the stage and give him one last kiss before he left them.

He came back from Vietnam, happily, and continued to put out records, mainly under his own name.

Lewis had one last Top 20 hit, "Sealed With a Kiss," featuring probably the worst lead vocal of any song to reach such a height on the charts, which made it memorable, sort of.

Anyway, after a couple of more singles and albums, Lewis went on the oldies circuit, and he is still on it today.

This particular single may have represented just about the last gasp of Gary Lewis and the Playboys as a hitmaking machine, but it also represents a different time, when your music didn't have to be deep, full of layers of instruments, and devoid of fun.

This single is fun, and I am glad I re-discovered it.

And yes, the title of the song does signify to me that "you don''t have to paint me a picture," but things look pretty bleak in Yankee land right now.

All one can do is hope for a miracle, I guess ...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Rant #824: Who's the Boss?

Today is National Bosses Day, both in the U.S. and Canada. According to Wikipedia, it has traditionally been a day for employees to thank their bosses for being kind and fair throughout the year.
“Patricia Bays Haroski registered 'National Boss' Day' with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1958,” said the Wikipedia entry. “She was working as a secretary for State Farm Insurance Company in Deerfield, Ill., at the time and chose Oct. 8 because she forgot that the birthday of her boss, who was her father, was actually on the 16th. Four years later, in 1962, Illinois Governor Otto Kerner backed Haroski's registration and officially proclaimed the day.”

Very interesting, wouldn’t you agree?

I have had some very interesting bosses over the years. One thing that they all share is that I have had a hard time figuring all of them out.

When I was in college, I had a boss who was a real nut case, and ended up being replaced in her position by her secretary, who she mistreated all the time.

Later, I worked in another place where the boss, I do believe, thought I was the perfect match for his daughter. When that didn’t work out, I was on the outs with him.

I worked for other bosses who were nice; alcoholic; abusive; filled with ego; and were horrid.

I had them all, and then some.

You have not really lived until you work for a boss who can’t handle his liquor.

He used to stumble all over the place, viciously insulted people, reeked of the stuff, and slurred his speech.

And due to his drunkenness, most of the time he didn’t know what he was doing.

It was sad, real sad.

And then there is the current boss to end all bosses. Thank goodness I don't work for him.

David Siegel--founder and CEO of Westgate Resorts, a huge national timeshare and one of the largest resort developers in the world--has informed his peon workers that if President Obama is re-elected, their jobs will be at stake.

You see, according to Siegel, he has worked hard to make his company what it is, but his workers haven’t done their part, squandering their paychecks all the time, so he has to make decisions like this to keep him and his company afloat.

But what can you do? You don’t pick your boss any more or less than you choose your parents.

They just happen to come with your job.

But I learned early on that no matter what your boss says to you, you must keep your perspective.

You are a tool that the boss uses to make his or her business run.

You are a commodity that he or she will try to exploit to the nth degree.

And if you lose your perspective, you will become that tool entirely.

You can be your own personal boss, but don’t let your boss at work make you think you are any less of a person than who you really are.

And for that, you don’t need  a day in your honor.

Hey, he or she only runs the business, they don’t run your life.

I have had good bosses, too, who understand that.

But so many are so engulfed with their own ego that they can’t see the forest for the trees.

So YOU have to. And if you don’t, well, I feel sorry for you.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rant #823: We Still Love Lucy

Back in 1951, television was still in its infancy.

A lot of the programming on television at that time looked like either televised radio broadcasts or stage shows brought to the small screen.

Many people didn't even have televisions in their homes and color TV was still years and years away.

Few movie starts were emigrating to television. That medium was still thought to be somewhat second or third rate, a place for vaudeville acts, radio acts, or performers who had seen better days.

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were known commodities back then, but not really household names.

Ball had been in numerous films--she is the only actress to have appeared with both the Three Stooges and Abbott and Costello on film--but her star was not shining as brightly as it had been.

Arnaz was looked at as something of a novelty act, a second rate Xavier Cugat, with a Cuban band and his signature song, "Babalu."

CBS took a chance on their brainchild--a situation comedy about a nightclub entertainer, Ricky Ricardo--originally named Larry Lopez--and his show biz wannabe wife, Lucy Ricardo--and "I Love Lucy" was born on this date 61 years ago, debuting on the CBS network on this day.

Its presence changed the face of television forever.

The show was an immense hit from the start, showing the comedic sense of Ball and the brains of Arnaz, who helped develop many of the camera techniques used to film the show, including shooting the half hour show on film, which allowed it to supposedly take place in Manhattan, while it actually was filmed in Hollywood.

This led to the show being shown countless times in reruns, another first for a network sitcom.

The Ball/Arnaz partnership made them probably the most famous Hollywood couple of their time, and brought them countless riches, and the creation of the Desilu studio, which churned out hundreds of shows through the mid to late 1960s, including "Star Trek."

But all good things usually come to an end. The half hour show morphed into the hour-lomg "Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour," which doubled the show's time, but was only about half as funny as the original. Ball and Arnaz eventually divorced, and the studio was later sold to Paramount ...

But "I Love Lucy" lives on in almost uninterrupted reruns. Does anybody ever remember a time when it wasn't on the air?

But "I Love Lucy" wasn't just about the Ricardos. The supporting players on the show added to its popularity.

Something must be said about the mismatched pair of Vivian Vance and William Frawley, who played Ethel and Fred Mertz on the show.

They were essentially sidekicks to the main characters, but the probably were the best second bananas ever on a situation comedy. Playing frumpier versions of the stars, the mismatched pair--who supposedly didn't get along with each other in real life--added to the show's success by their characterizations of the Ricardo's landlords and best friends.

And Little Ricky--played by Keith Thibodeux--well, he was there, added to the sitcom's later shows, but he was often used as little more than a prop for the adult stars to use to further the storylines, such as when Lucy gave birth to him--that episode--"Lucy Has a Baby"-- is probably the best of all the show's episodes. But that kid could drum, couldn't he?

Anyway, 61 years later, "I Love Lucy" stands as probably the single most popular TV show ever. There's been nothing like it before or since.

Is there anyone who doesn't like this show?

My mother tells the story of her and my grandmother watching the show together, and my grandfather huffing and puffing about "what all the fuss was about" as they laughed and laughed and laughed some more.

Maybe he didn't get it, but just about everyone else did.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Rant #822: Fast Asleep

This is going to be a short Rant today, because I am dead tired.

I overslept today because I stayed up way too late yesterday into today.

I watched the Yankees-Orioles game last night, and my attention wasn't gratifying, as my beloved Yankees lost, 2-1 in 13 innings.


I used to be able to stay up until all hours, even during the work week.

It never bothered me at all.

But since I hit my mid 50s, things have taken a different turn.

I take naps. Prior to this, I hadn't taken a nap since I was a baby.

I can't see straight even early in the evening. Heck, I sometimes go to bed at 9 p.m., and sometimes even earlier if I am dead tired.

Well, last night, I figured that since this was the playoffs, I needed to stay up to support my team.

Well, they couldn't hit a ball hard if they tried with or without me, and last night, I sat through the whole excruciating exercise.

And due to that misstep, this morning, I feel like I got hit by a truck.

My wife and I both overslept. I just got my son up.

My wife just went to work, and I will be going there real soon, right after I bring my son to school.

So everything looks copacetic, but it really isn't.

Hopefully, I can get through the day, watch the Yankees finally finish off the pesky Orioles ...

And then go back to to sleep.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Rant #821: You Talking To Me ... ?

May 4, 2009.

That is when I started this blog.

I had a lot to get off my chest, and other venues weren’t affording me the space I needed to tell you how I really felt.

This blog, I felt, was the best forum to talk about serious things, about things that were much lighter, and about other topics that were somewhere in between.

I talked about everything from hating to wear ties to child abuse.

And you, my valued audience, responded.

Maybe not every post, but you did respond to maybe two or three of every 10 posts I would put up.

I really liked that, enjoyed the give and take and hearing about what you felt.

Fast forward to October 2012, or some 800-plus posts later.

I have over 20 subscribers, pretty good for a blog that I really don’t trumpet about enough.

But I don’t received your views anymore. I haven’t received a response on my blog in quite a while.

I am not paranoid, but is there a reason for this?

Is it too difficult to post your views?

Are you turned off about the things I write about?

I try to keep it light most of the time, but I do write about issues that are important to me.

If you are looking for all light, all the time, you won’t find it here; conversely, if you are looking for newsworthy topics all the time, you won’t find it here either.

Please let me know what your opinions are. I feed off of the discussion we could have, even on light topics.

Yes, I am planting a seed here. I would love to get some responses to this post and to all the other posts.

But it goes beyond that.

Although it may not seem like I do, I put a lot of effort into this blog.

Each weekday morning, I try to come up with topics that both satisfy me and also interest my audience.

I know I can’t possibly hit the bull’s eye each time with you, but if something moves you, makes you laugh, infuriates you, or makes you cry, let me know about it.

I know people around the world are reading this blog, so let me know what you feel.

Thanks, I really appreciate it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Rant #820: You Don't Have To Be Jewish, But ...

Did you see the other day that Esquire magazine named actress Mila Kunis as “the sexiest woman alive”?

I don’t know if I agree.

She does have beautiful eyes, and since she’s Jewish, that is another feather in her cap, at least in my book.

There haven’t been very many Jews that have been listed as “sexiest woman” in any generation.

That is not to say that Jewish women don’t deserve the honor. They most certainly do.

But I guess that it’s another affirmation that the Jews are just like everyone else.

We are fat and skinny, bald and full of hair, stupid and smart, and ugly and yes, incredibly sexy.

Just like everyone else.

I had to think about the goddesses that the Jewish community has produced over the years.

Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor were Jews, but they converted due to their husbands’ wishes. They never renounced their Jewishness, so the continued to be Jews to their dying days.

Sultry singer Abbe Lane was another Jewish sexpot, who they tried to market as being “exotic” rather than Jewish.

Before I found out she was Jewish, I could have sworn she was Hispanic. She was a beautiful woman, one who is pretty much forgotten since Johnny Carson’s “Tonight” Show went off the air.

I remember in the late 1960s-early 1970s, Lainie Kazan was supposed to be the next “big” thing, a combination of Barbara Streisand and Raquel Welch.

She had that exotic look, and heck, she did something that many other of the women I mentioned would never do: she took it all off for Playboy.

And yes, she had the goods way back when, but little else.

She never rose to the heights of a Streisand nor a Welch, and actually, as she put on lots of weight, became a better actress than singer.

There are a number of current actresses besides Kunis who fit the bill.

One is Scarlett Johansson, whose mother, I believe, is Jewish, is one. She accepts her Jewishness, even if she doesn’t necessarily practice it.

I think Bette Midler was at one time thought to be sexy, although I never found her to be that.

But that gets me back to this: who do I find to be the sexiest woman alive right now?

Well, I find my wife to be incredibly sexy, but if you are looking at actresses, well, I’ll go for the goy:

Salma Hayek, if you please.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rant #819: Puppy Love

We all have crushes when we are growing up.

Whether it’s for a neighbor, a teacher, a kid in your class, or someone in TV or the movies or in music, we all have these “puppy” crushes that usually don’t last very long, and are bypassed when we learn more about what love is as we get older.

One of my crushes during my childhood was Angela Cartwright, who just happened to turn 60 years old a month ago today.

Cartwright was a cute, talented kid, and her sister, Veronica was also cute, but in an episode of “Leave It To Beaver,” she gave the Beav his first kiss, so she was taken already.

Angela was not.

She came to national prominence as one of Danny Thomas’ children on “Make Room For Daddy,” the first show in my memory where the kids weren’t just precocious, they also had big mouths.

Later, she was the younger daughter on “Lost in Space,” one of my favorite TV shows as a kid.

She started to fill out a little then, and, as I was also getting older, I kind of look at it as if we were growing up together.

In between, she was one of the Trapp children in “The Sound of Music,” and along with Julie Andrews, she was the only actor I knew about at the time from that film, so I, again, became enamored of her.

And later, on shows like “Room 222,” she was one of the high school students, and by this time, I was older, and I still thought she was cute.

I guess I was drawn to her because she was on TV, on her shows, just about every day of the week as I was growing up.

She was around my age—or so I thought, now that I know that she is actually five years older than me—and she had those expressive eyes, which even captured me when I was a little kid.

No, I did not hang her pictures around my room, but when she was on TV, I took notice.

As I said earlier, puppy love usually doesn’t last that long, and once I didn’t see her on TV much anymore, I found others to pin my hopes on.

But Angela Cartwright might have been the first for me—and probably millions of other guys around my age.

So happy belated birthday, Angela. You are a part of my childhood that I won’t soon forget. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Rant #818: Our National Pastime

I just love baseball.

There is nothing better than the six months of drama that unfolds every year when the baseball season begins in April and ends in October.

Yesterday, the baseball playoffs heated up, and the New York Yankees were among the winning teams in yesterday's games, pulling out a nail biter that turned into a route via a five-run ninth inning, leading to a 7-2 win.

Today, they face the tough Baltimore Orioles again, and hopefully, the game won't be delayed by more than two hours by rain as last night's game was.

It's just one win on the road to the World Series, but it was great getting off on the right foot in game one.

Anyway, 56 years ago today, the Yankees won another game, but this game was something different entirely.

Don Larsen, basically a journeyman pitcher during his career, cemented himself in the annals of baseball history, pitching a perfect game against the crosstown rival Brooklyn Dodgers.

No one has matched this game, either before or since.

Larsen would have been, pretty much, a forgotten pitcher if not for this feat. and he normally shows up at Yankees oldtimer games, and gets a warm round of applause for his achievement during that game, a contest during which, at least for a game, he was the greatest pitcher on earth.

Larsen made the news recently, as he decided to sell some personal memorabilia from that game in order to finance his grandchildren's education.

Good for him. He has been a class act since that wonderful day.

Also yesterday, the Atlantic League's Long Island Ducks won their league championship in a game that was decided in the ninth inning.

It's the second time the Ducks have won a championship, and although it's independent league, minor league baseball, there is something to say about the popularity of baseball, even when the weather begins to get colder.

The Ducks are the centerpiece of this league, the league's most successful franchise.

They have a beautiful ballpark, they have fans nearly as boisterous as the Yankees do, and their league started from nothing and has become a resource for major league baseball teams to find players who fall through the cracks.

How about Lew Ford, who was in the starting lineup for the Orioles last night? He is an alum of the league and the Ducks.

This is the league that allowed Roger Clemens the chance to pitch this year, and a league which will soon announce a division devoted entirely to the state of Texas.

Yes, the Atlantic League will field several teams from that state.

Go figure.

But as Yankees radio voice John Sterling has said many, many times over the years, "You just can't figure baseball."

And you can't.

Even though some would deny it, it remains our national pastime, a game that is so easy to understand that pre-schoolers get it, yet so complex that it takes cybermetrics to understand it.

And I love it, I really do.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Rant #817: Listen to the Music

OK, let me get this out of the way right at the get-go: I have lost all faith in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to get anything right.

Their nominations are usually brutal, serving no purpose but to glorify acts that generally aren’t worthy, and to create great public debate.

Well, this year’s list of nominees takes the cake as probably the worst set of nominees ever.

First-time nominees Rush, Deep Purple, N.W.A., Public Enemy, Albert King, the Marvelettes and Procol Harum join previously nominated acts Chic, Heart, Donna Summer, Kraftwerk, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Randy Newman, Paul Butterfield Blues Band and The Meters.

My question: Do any of these acts really deserve to be in there?

I will give a nod to the Marvelettes. They had numerous hits, including “Please Mr. Postman” and, my personal favorite, “The Hunter Gets Captured By the Game,” and they paved the way for a group like the Supremes to make it big.

But beyond that, who else truly merits consideration?

Rush? Maybe. They are the true FM-oriented act, never garnering much airplay on pop radio at all, but having numerous FM airplay hits and LPs to garner a solid consideration.

Deep Purple? Maybe. I loved “Hush” and “Smoke on the Water,” but their time was brief, very brief. They have reformed a few times, and I kind of like their music, so I will give them a maybe.

The rest of the acts reek of political correctness. N.W.A. and Public Enemy will probably get in, for the thinking is that the Hall of Fame must be all inclusive, including musical acts that have absolutely nothing to do with rock at all.

Kraftwerk was basically a one-hit synthesizer wonder, it that at all, and Heart is important as the first true self-contained rock and roll act led by women to make it big.

The rest don’t even merit the least bit of consideration.

I do get why these acts were nominated, but I simply, as a true rock and roll fan, do not understand why, let’s say, Glen Campbell is not in there.

I don’t understand why Chubby Checker is not in there.

I don’t understand why Paul Revere and the Raiders are not in there.

I don’t understand why the Monkees are not in there.

But on the other hand, I do understand.

They do not fall into the vision of the man who runs the place, initials J.W., so these acts aren’t even on the map as far as this person is concerned.

Again, it is this person’s personal choice, and I have made my personal choice.

Until a more representative group of acts is nominated and gains entrance, I won’t ever bother to visit the place.

I mean, what’s the point?

My suggestion: Allow fans in on the nominations. Fans look at acts differently than supposedly in the know industry types do. You cannot have a representative Rock and Roll Hall of Fame without consideration from the fans.

And without such consideration, I repeat, what's the point?


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