Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Rant #1,113: Happy New Year



Well, it has finally come down to this.

In less than 24 hours, we will be in calendar year 2014.

Personally, I don't think that 2013 was any year to write home about.

It had its ups and downs, but it wasn't nearly as bad as 2012 was--one of the worst years in my memory--so, at least we can say that we hit bottom in 2012, and 2013 was sort of an improvement.

I look forward to the new year as I always do, a time to get a fresh start.

No, I do not make any resolutions, because, as you know, they are made to be broken.

I just look forward to the ball dropping in Times Square, which I watch from the cozy confines of my warm house.

There is absolutely no way I would ever attend that thing.

I remember that when I was a kid, I also watched the ball drop, but things were a bit different.

My parents used to go out with their friends, so it was up to me, the big brother of the house, to watch my sister.

That was the one night out of the year that I could basically stay up to whatever time I wanted, eat what I wanted, watch what I wanted, and then doze off to sleep--but not before the inevitable phone call from my mother, asking, "How are things at home?"

I loved it. I watched Johnny Carson, watched the ball drop, stayed up into the wee hours, and felt like a real adult.

Today, things are so different. As an adult, I haven't been out on New Year's Eve for years--why bother? Everything is so expensive, and I would rather be home.

Does anybody even go out anymore for this celebration? I know that people do, but it doesn't appear to be as joyous as it used to be.

But at least I get a day off tomorrow, so I will next see you on Thursday.

Have a great New Year, and thanks for coming around here every day to see what I have to say.

I really appreciate it.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Rant 1,112: There IS Something To Watch On Television



I constantly lament throughout the year that there is nothing to watch on television.

I hate the new crap ... err ... crop of shows that come out each year, because they are pure trash, with a few exceptions.

I mean, does anyone admit at this point that they actually watch "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?"

Anyway, now that we are coming to the end of another year, various niche TV networks are putting their best foot forward, namely showing marathons of great past programs as we move from New Year's Eve into January 1.

Whether we are talking about "The Twilight Zone," "The Three Stooges" (not really a TV show, per se, but what other pre-TV series other than the "The Little Rascals" seemed to be almost made for TV?), or :"The Honeymooners," this is really TV at its best.

And all in black and white!



Was there a more sharp-edged series than "The Twilight Zone?" It spoke about things you couldn't talk about on TV at the time with a sci-fi perspective, and the writing and acting was top-notch.



Yes, the Stooges are pie in the face type humor, but heck, what is wrong with that? These shorts are, in some cases, 80 years old, and they are still funny. Will "The Big Bang Theory" still be funny in 2093?



And then we have Ralph, Alice, Ed and Trixie, probably TV's all-time best comedy troupe. They take minimalism to an extreme, but Jackie Gleason knew exactly what he was doing with this show, which appeals to the masses probably better than any other show in TV history. Everyone can sympathize and empathize with the Kramdens' and Nortons' plight, and we laugh along with them because, well, we are them, so to speak.

There are other marathons, and some feature more recent TV shows, but I think the three that I mentioned really encapsulate the good side of TV, giving us all something to watch on one of the calendar year's most overrated, over-saturated days.

Sure, it is fun to see the ball drop, I guess, but it's even more fun to see Ralph Kramden yell out to Alice, "You're the greatest," and then give her a big smooch, isn't it?

I pretty much go back and forth with the marathons, staying with one set for a few episodes and then moving on to the next set.

But of the mighty three, well, I can't pick my most favorite. They all have something that just gets to me.

So, have fun as we all prepare for the New Year.

I will have fun thinking about those shows, and how they at least get the New Year off on the right foot each and every year.

What happens for the next 364 days is anyone's guess, but at least it is perfect at the beginning.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Rant 1,111: Number One



Yes, today is the 1,111 Rant that I have made in this column.

It has taken us a couple of years to get to this point, and I am proud that I have been able to keep this thing going that long.

Most blogs of this type fade away after a couple of posts.

This one is not fading away, it is getting stronger.

I could go on and on and on about the significance of this number, but I won't do that.

I am going to backpedal a bit, to yesterday, December 26, which is significant in itself, as the first day of Kwanzaa, Boxing Day in England, and my sister's birthday.

But something else which kind of flew under the radar happened yesterday, 50 years ago to the day.

It is an occurrence that ultimately changed all of our lives, some more than others.



Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the release of what ultimately became the Beatles' first hit single in the U.S., "I Want To Hold Your Hand," which was backed with another song that became a hit on its own, "I Saw Her Standing There."

And that is the picture sleeve of this historic 45 that I proudly have in my collection, whose "A" side hit No. 1 later in 1964.

Released on December 26, 1963, it was not the first Beatles single to be released here. There were several, but the interest simply was not there for them to be hits. And today, go try finding them ... you will have a tough time, and if you find them, you will pay a pretty penny for them.

But this release, on Capitol Records, hit the mark, but it was not a smash immediately.

Incredible as it may seem, it took the single until January 18, 1964--more than three weeks--to even make the Hot 100 here.

In England, the frenzy had started about a year before, and by this time in 1963, the Beatles had had several hits on the British chart, and the frenzy over there was in high pitch.

At that point, in the U.S., the hype was just beginning. Clips of John, Paul, George and Ringo had found their way onto some U.S. TV shows--Jack Paar, for one--and Capitol knew it had something, but really didn't know what to do with it.

The record also was starting to get airplay on U.S. radio stations--starting with Murray the K's show in New York City--but the record wasn't flying out of the stores yet.

But it was way too early in the U.S. President Kennedy's assassination was too fresh in our minds, and we seemingly needed some more time to mourn his passing.

This single would have to wait.

Of course, all of that changed when the Beatles appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in early February 1964.

As I remember it, at six years old, even I could see that the world changed that night.

Convention was thrown out the window. The look and feel of society changed that evening, and would really never be the same way again.

And Beatles records started to fly out of the stores, and all you heard on the radio was Beatles, Beatles and more Beatles.

Beatlemania had begun, and the world had never seen anything like it, before or since.

In 1964 alone, the Beatles had 30 songs make the Hot 100. We literally went Beatles crazy.

They were really the biggest thing on the scene since Elvis Presley hit the big time, and to me, the Beatles were bigger.

And the rest is history.

In this age of the Internet and digital downloads, it is hard to fathom kids running to their local record stores to pick up the latest Beatles records, but that is just what happened.

The world was literally turned on its edge, and the hype and fun that this generated has lasted officially a half century as of yesterday.

Lennon and Harrison have left us, McCartney and Starr carry on the music, and many of us look back at that time as ancient history.

But I don't.

The world changed with the coming of the Beatles,and whether it changed for the better, or worse, is open to debate.

For me, it was really, really something, and I hope it was for you, too.

Yeah, yeah, yeah!


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Rant #1,110: TV Christmas



So what did this Jewish boy and his family do on Christmas Day?

Pretty much nothing.

I did participate in the Christmas spirit, though, through the power of television.

I watched several Christmas episodes of classic TV shows, two movies, and some sports to liven up what, for us, is a pretty blah day.

I began the day watching the classic "March of the Wooden Soldiers," an 80-year-old film that still makes me laugh. And I saw it non-colorized, too, which made it even better.

Later, I watched a few Christmas episodes of "Ozzie and Harriet." After watching them, I still don't get the allure of that show, nor why it was on for so long on both radio and TV.

I guess the Ricky Nelson factor hadn't hit just yet in the episodes that I watched.

I watched "The Monkees" holiday episode, a classic Christmas show guest starring Butch Patrick--who was just off the "Eddie" character on "The Munsters" when this show was shot--playing a spoiled brat who learned the true meaning of Christmas from the boys.

And the show has maybe my favorite Christmas song in it, the beautiful, haunting "Riu Chiu."

Later, I watched back-to-back "Lassie" episodes, and all I have to say if you have to pick this household versus the dog, I will take the dog anytime.

And to think, most of these holiday episodes were probably shot during the summer of their particular year.

In between all of this holiday goodness, I managed to see a movie we got from the Redbox nearby, "The Lone Ranger."

All I can say is that the last 20 minutes of the movie were good. Avoid the first two hours.

I also managed to watch two train-wreck NBA games, with the Knicks and Nets showing why it's great that pitchers and catchers report in February.

As for food, we had traditional "non-traditional" food, but they were pretty much Christmas presents to myself: hot dogs for lunch and hamburgers for dinner. Those are my two favorite foods, and since we are probably going to have Chinese for New Year's, we decided to go this route with the eating this time around.

So it wasn't much of a holiday for my family, just a simple day off from the drudgery of work. Our son still has several more days of inactivity to go, so he can sleep all he wants.

For myself and my wife, it is back to work today.

Can't wait!

(And a very happy birthday to my sister today. I won't tell you her age, but she is younger than me, and thus, I am her big brother always. Have a great day!)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Rant #1,109: "Have a Good Holiday" or "Merry Christmas"



I am back, basking in the glow of both a good eye exam and having my name and picture in the newspaper this weekend in the story about my old neighborhood's Reunion this past October.

Anyway, this is also my last column before Christmas--I won't be back here until Thursday--so I say to all those that follow that holiday, "Have a good holiday," or should I say "Merry Christmas."

This is something that comes up every year right before the holiday. What is actually proper?

Some people say that "Have a good holiday" is proper, because it is all inclusive, not forgetting that there are other holidays during this time of year, and not just Christmas.

Others say "Merry Christmas," because, well, that is what it is.

Honestly, personally, I don't really think I am making any type of political statement when I say one or the other, but some people believe that you are making a political statement by your choice of greetings.

Do you send out Christmas cards or Season's Greetings cards to your Jewish friends? I am not talking about business associates, I am talking about your personal friends, and even relatives, during this time of year.

Now, that is making some type of statement, political or otherwise, that I do not understand and do not accept.

But when you say "Have a good holiday" or "Merry Christmas," are you making a statement of any kind?

This weekend, I watched one of the local news shows, and they put this question to the public.

One person said they use one greeting or the other, and one guy said that if one says "Merry Christmas" to him, he will say it back, and if another person says "Have a good holiday," he will return that back.

Me, I am not looking to make any political statement at all.

I simply say, "Have a good holiday," and leave it at that.

In this politically correct world, everybody seems to nitpick at the slightest nuance where they believe a political statement is being made.

Call the PC police on me, because I simply say, "Have a good holiday," and that is that.

What is the big deal? It is not like I am a Scrooge and don't acknowledge the holiday at all.

I think it is much worse when friends and relatives send my family Christmas cards--now that is making a statement.

Simply saying "Have a good holiday" is a nice greeting. I am more comfortable with it, if you will, but I don't go out of my way and say it just to say it.

I certainly wouldn't say to Santa, "Have a good holiday," and if the situation is obvious, I will say "Merry Christmas."

But as much as many Jews want to blend into this world seamlessly, if they acknowledge their own religion--which, admittedly, many don't--Christmas isn't much more than a day off from work.

But as far as the greeting, I am not trying to make a political statement, but PC police, you can arrest me if you want, but "Have a good holiday" it is.

And you have a good holiday, too.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Rant #1,108: Your Choice

Well, I didn't get back too many observations on what I should run today, but at least I got back something.

How about this story, from November 8, 2010? It is not the best story I have written, but the one person who answered my query asked me to look back at a news story from the past.

Here is one that I think you enjoyed way back when, and you can enjoy again: Rant #370 from more than three years ago.


"Wow, it's funny how washed up former stars always seem to get into the headlines one way or another.

I have read that Pamela Anderson, who is competing in the Israeli version of "Dancing With the Stars," is also in the country for another reason: to speak with Orthodox Jews and ask them to forgo their traditional fur hats.

For Orthodox Jews both in Israel and the United States and for that matter, around the world, the fur hat is part of their traditional clothing, which includes black coats. For them to give up their black, fur hats would be tantamount to people like Pamela giving up the spotlight.

But Anderson, an honorary director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), won't have any of that. She claims that with so many choices--including fake fur--why should the Orthodox choose the real thing?

And she is on a mission to keep Orthodox Jews, err, abreast of the situation.

She intends to talk to religious leaders while she is in Israel about this topic, and will continue to try to educate people about the uses of fur when she participates in other "Dancing With the Stars" competitions that she participates in around the world.

I guess what Anderson is trying to do is a noble gesture, but honestly, she is speaking to people who are so set in their ways that I wouldn't be surprised if it falls on deaf ears.

They have kept up their traditions for centuries--do you really think the former Playboy model will be able to sway them to her side?

Many Orthodox Jews--and more to the point, many ultra-Orthodox Jews--live lifestyles that harken back to a different century. They are never slaves of fashion, and they are not going to give up something traditional like this--a garment that they have been wearing for centuries--just because Anderson is asking them to.

It's funny that Anderson--who made a name for herself initially by keeping very few clothes on--wants to educate Orthodox Jews about clothing.

But honestly, if we were face to face, I would tell her that she is barking up the wrong tree here.

Save your breast, err, breath, and preach your cause somewhere else, like the next country's "Dancing With the Stars" that you bounce into.

Shalom."

See you Monday with a new, fresh story.

P.S.: And by the way, the online version of the story that will run in Newsday tomorrow about the heralded "Rochdale Village Reunion" is now online with the accompanying video. If you want to read the story, go to this address:

http://www.newsday.com/lifestyle/retirement/ex-residents-of-rochdale-village-reminisce-1.6642821

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Rant #1,107: Make Your Choice



I have now been writing this daily--five days a week--blog for a few years now, and I have to say that it has been a fun ride.

Tomorrow, I have to go to my eye specialist for another checkup. That means I have to take the day off from work, and I have to rest my eyes as much as I can.

Therefore, there will be no new column tomorrow.

But that does not necessarily mean that there won't be anything posted here for you to read ...

One of our regular readers gave me a suggestion a few weeks back, and I am going to have to take him up on what he said.

He suggested that when I have to take a day off, I should run a "best of" column, something from the past that tickled people's fancies way back when it was originally published.

I thought that that would be a fine idea, not to be used every time there is a stoppage in putting up a new column, but just to be used every once in a while.

For instance, there will be "best of" column tomorrow, but on Christmas Day, since much of the world has off, there won't be one.

What would you like to see?

How about the columns where I spoke about my favorite TV shows, and why today's TV offerings are so bad?

How about what were then hot news stories, like Michael Jackson's death, performers speaking out of their rear ends, my favorite music from my record collection, sports topics, deaths, birthdays or anything else?

I will let you, the faithful readers that I have, make the choice. Just simply present me with a topic that I have covered here, and I will do my best to find the Rant and I will post it again.

I might update it, change it a little bit, or print it lock, stock and barrel, and I will let you know how it will be presented. However, I want you to choose.

I will take any and all suggestions, but if you cannot come up with anything, I will put up something of my own choice, which I really do not want to do.

So I open it up to you--my faithful readers--to choose whatever you like.

Please, take a few moments and let me know.

Tomorrow is going to be a slightly tough day for me, so I just want it to be easy here.

Please help me out.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Rant #1,106: Beatlemania, 2014 Style



It is amazing that going on 50 years, the Beatles still live.

Next year will be a prime year in the continuous celebration of everything that John, Paul, George and Ringo brought to this world, as a whole slew of celebations and releases will honor the Fab Four's 50th anniversary of becoming popular in the U.S.

It took us a little longer than most of the rest of the world to get this group. The Beatles, in one form or another, were in place since the late 1950s, and in Europe, they were hitmakers starting in 1962 or so, so it took us here nearly two extra years to get them.

And it took some enterprising things to get us to know who the Beatles were.

One was that energetic disk jockey Murry the K started playing their records on the radio. Sure, nobody was buying them before 1964, but their records were being released here to less fanfare than one could believe.

Another was that TV people like Jack Paar were showing films of all the pandemonium that was going on when the Beatles performed. How crass, these people thought the Beatles were.

And, of course, there was JFK's assassination. The country was in a understandable stupor right after this tragic event, and we needed something to lift our spirits again.

Well, the antidote was Ed Sullivan, not necessarily the man, but his show.

Sullivan picked up on what was happening in Europe, and decided that he needed this rag-tag group of long-haired musicians on his show. He saw something the country hadn't seen in these guys at the time, and he figured that he would ride with a wave that his show could, and would, create.

And boy, was he right.



When the boys appeared on that February night in 1964, nothing, and I mean nothing, was ever the same again in music, in culture, in society, in fashion, and even in haircuts.

I remember that night vividly, and you could see the changes the very next day.

Everybody wanted to be a Beatle, everybody wanted to grow their hair long, and everybody wanted Beatles records.

And that last urge hasn't left us in nearly 50 years.



In 2014, to celebrate this monumental occurrence, all the U.S.-released Beatles LPs--they were very different from their British counterparts--are planned for release.

Funny, but just a few years back, when the original British LPs were rereleased, noses were snubbed when mentioning the supposedly inferior U.S. versions, which featured different song lineups, different versions of songs, and were seemingly cobbled together early on simply to get your money.

Now they are being celebrated.

I have all of them in my collection, and those were the records that I listened to during the height of Beatlemania.

I just wish they would rerelease the 45s that we all really listened to during that time, but so far, nothing doing on that front. In England a few years back, Elvis Presley's popularity was celebrated by releasing his singles as single CDs, reproducing the covers from the original 45s. I would love for Capitol Records to do that here with the Beatles' singles.

Also, Apple announced that iTunes would release a slew of previously available only on bootleg versions of many of their songs, and these tunes were released yesterday. These are songs from the early Beatles, right around the time they were recording their first LP.

Why this is only being relegated to iTunes is probably that the powers that be don't think that these recordings will be a big enough seller to release on CD, so they are keeping it there.

Dave Clark did this a few years back with his Dave Clark Five albums and rare tracks, so while the DC5 followed the Beatles to America in 1964, at least this time around, the Beatles are following the DC5's lead.

Anyway, isn't it interesting that through all the musical fads that have popped up during the past 50 years, we all still go back to the Beatles?

Funny, many people thought that they, too, were a fad, and if they are, then it has lasted a half century, the longest-lasting fad in history.

And to that I say--

Yeah, yeah, yeah!!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rant #1,105: Everyone Needs "Friends"



Through my 56 years, I have had many, many friends, people I could count on, people who I liked being with.

Friends change over the years. Oftentimes, friends when you are a kid aren't your friends as you get older.

Life-long friends are rare, but some people do have friends that they have known since seemingly their own get-go.

Sometimes friends fade away, only to return later on into your life.

And then there are "Friends."

"Friends," with the quotation marks, are people who you hook up with on Facebook.

Sometimes they are traditional friends, as described above, and you simply communicate--and keep up your friendship--through the social network.

But more than likely, Facebook "friends" are people you have never--and will never--meet, people who perhaps share your viewpoint or "like" what you have to say.

One of my "friends"--a very nice lady from my old neighborhood who I did not know way back when but have gotten to know through Facebook--wrote an interesting post the other day about a Tanzanian person (I think that is where the person came from, if memory serves me correctly) who was trying to "friend" her.

It was a funny post, but a sad one too.

So many people on Facebook reach out to others, trying to become their "friends" for really no other reason than to accumulate as many "friends" as possible.

Facebook actually has restrictions on such practices, and occasionally, they will ban people who have reached out to too many people to be "friends."

My reply was that I would take the Tanzanian any day over the people who try to "friend" me: basically young girls with bustlines that you would not believe.

No, don't think for a second that I really believe that the people trying to "friend" me are actually 16-year-old girls who have trouble keeping their upper portions in their shirts. They are probably 50-year-old men who scout out such photos throughout the Internet and misrepresent themselves.

But I cannot believe how many of these requests I get every week.

The photos are of these young, pretty girls that are sprouting out all over.

I reject them in a minute. Even if they are legitimate, why would a 16-year-old girl want to friend a balding 56-year-old anyway?

I also used to get a "friend" request periodically from another person who had a foot fetish. I got his request, went onto his Facebook page, and it was quite obvious what his interests were.

Everybody on Facebook gets strange "friends" requests, I am afraid, and my personal rule is that if I don't know the name--or at least if I don't have several common friends with the person--I just drop them immediately.

But when it comes to busty 16-year-old girls or guys with foot fetishes, I drop them like lead sinkers.

Right now, using this practice, I have a pretty good friends list. I get some nice posts, make some good ones, too, and everything is copacetic.

But as sure as I am sitting here, I guarantee you that this week, another "sweet young thing" will try to friend me, and I will continue to cut her/him/it off at the pass.

Heck, I am way too old to be scammed like this.

Give me the Tanzanian, please!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Rant #1,104: Uneventful Weekend



This past weekend was a big nothing for me.

My wife worked on Saturday, and the mix of that and the snow that came pretty much washed out that day for my son and myself.

His bowling league was canceled, so after I did the shopping in the morning, we basically did nothing else the rest of the day.

We had snow, and although there was an accumulation, it really wasn't that bad outside.

And by the next morning, rain had washed it away, so there was no shoveling.

Having nothing much to do on Saturday, I decided to watch a "My Three Sons" marathon that I put together for myself, a mix of the early black and white episodes and a few of the later color ones.

I fell asleep right in the middle of it, taking a nap for about 90 minutes.

I must have been super relaxed, because I haven't done that in ages.

After my wife came home, I went out to get a movie. Yes, we are old fashioned, and the Redbox machine is very accommodating.

I rented "Man of Steel," and we spent two hours in the evening watching this movie. It was a pretty good, although not great as I had hoped, retelling of the Superman legend, filled with horrible acting but great special effects. I would give it 2 1/2 stars. It kept my interest.

On Sunday, even with my wife home, we really didn't have anything planned, but we did get some things done.

I showed my wife how to transfer music from a computer to her iPad, and I guess that was the big accomplishment of the day.

We then went out for a while to do some shopping, nothing major, but at least it got us out of the house.

We watched some TV as the day went on, and before you knew it, the day was over.

But before the day was over, I went on Facebook, and of course, there was some controversy over the video that was posted on the Newsday site about my recent neighborhood reunion.

All I can say is that you cannot please everybody, no matter how hard you try.

After exchanging some barbs back and forth, I called it a night.

And here I am now, anticipating the workday.

Sometimes, you just need a slow weekend to recharge your work batteries, and that is what I had this past weekend.

Since, like the old Loverboy song said, I am "working for the weekend," I really don't mind such a slow two days.

Now, I have to rev it up for this week. There will be no naps, no dead spots, nothing like that.

Yes, sometimes a dull weekend is the best medicine.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Rant 1,103: Open To Interpretation



This would clearly have been the laugh of the week if it had not been connected to such a solemn occasion.

The crazy sign language guy at the Nelson Mandela tribute could have ruined the occasion, but he really didn't.

As you know, he was supposed to signing for the hearing impaired, but he was signing for no one, as his wild hand gestures could not be translated into any language on this planet.

He claims schizophrenia, he claims that he was hearing voices and seeing things, and that threw him for a loop during this tribute.

Sounds to me like he had an old fashioned panic attack, and he just could not perform his duties.

That being said, this was not the first time he was used as a signer, and security should have known that this guy was a fruitcake to begin with--especially with so many world leaders, including our President, sitting nearby, he might have been labeled as a risk.

And people talk about the lax security in this country!

Look, this story became a focal point of thousands of messages in social media, the news covered it more feverishly than a war, and everybody knew this guy for his 15 minutes of fame.

But did he ruin the day?

No, I don't think so.

World leaders traveled form all points of the planet to attend this thing to honor the memory of Mandela.

Sure, the man's actions were an insult to Mandela, to South Africa, and certainly to the hard of hearing around the world.

But did his actions take away from the day and what everyone gathered for?

I doubt it.

Mandela's words and actions were much stronger, and longer lasting, than anything this guy could do.

And undue it in a single day?

No, I don't think so.

What would Mandela have done if such a circumstance had occurred while he was alive?

I think he probably would have been upset to a degree, but he would have moved on from it, and I think that that is what everyone should do about this episode.

Sure, it was unfortunate, the man is mentally ill, but it could have been much, much worse.

Yes, it was a blot on the day, but it didn't permanently stain the day at all.

Mandela was too big for that, too important for that.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Rant #1,102: Everybody Is a Star



And yes, that is so true, isn't it, in this day and age of Facebook and Twitter and all the social media we have around today.

And today, I am a star, well, sort of.

I am the star of a very short form video that is on the Newsday newspaper website, which was taken during the Reunion my old community, Rochdale Village, had on October 5 of this year.

The Reunion had gone on for a few hours by the time that this video was taken. I was bushed, and I look very, very tired.

It was actually taken twice, because the sound level was not good on the first one that was shot.

The photographer took me into a corner of the room we were in, and he basically asked me questions about why we had the Reunion and why Rochdale was so important, even nearly 50 years after we moved into the place.

What he shot was longer than what made it to the video that was posted, but basically I said that Rochdale was a different type of community, a community where integration was embraced, something that was revolutionary for its time.

Funny thing, as I talked about this concept, they showed people who attended the Reunion dancing, talking to each other, and socializing at the Reunion.

Not one person that they showed was one of color.

Believe me, they were there. We reached out to everybody who grew up in the development during its early years, 1964 to the mid 1970s, and we did get a diverse mix of people, and yes, we did get people of color there.

How none showed up in the video is beyond me, but anyway, my message was clear.

Rochdale was a great experiment, but all good things have to come to an end.

And Rochdale did, for me in 1971 when my family moved to the suburbs.

For others, it ended at different times, but essentially, it ended for just about all of us as we entered the 1970s.

It wasn't the same neighborhood we moved into by then, and just about all of us moved onto what we thought was something better.

To those who don't know what this neighborhood was, just think of it as an urban Mayberry, where seemingly everybody knew everybody.

We lived in nice apartments, and when you live basically on top of each other like we did, you learn a lot about socialization.

I made many friends there, but as the years went on, the friendships waned and we all moved on.

The Reunion celebrated the 50th anniversary of our old neighborhood, and also celebrated the fact that Rochdale lives within all of us, even to this day.

I wish I could post the video here, but it is one of those that you can't "lift" of the site.

Here is the address: http://www.newsday.com/long-island/suffolk/rochdale-village-celebrates-50th-anniversary-1.6586092?p=608637

And by the way, the title of this entry is appropriate, because it was the title of a song by Sly and the Family Stone.

Sly's girlfriend at the time--I cannot remember her name--lived in Rochdale.

Yes, the same community I lived in.

It was an incredible place to grow up, and when Newsday actually prints the story about our old neighborhood and the Reunion we had, I will let you know about.

Even if you did not live there, it is a story about urban living that definitely needs to be told.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Rant #1,101: Opportunity Knocks



Well, we didn't get that much snow in my neck of the woods.

Good.

Now to move on to something more important ...

Opportunists are entities that take advantage of a current situation and run with it.

In our culture, big corporations are often accused of being opportunists, taking advantage of the little guy to make money.

We often point at the oil companies as opportunists, because it seems that every little situation leads them to raising fuel prices.

But the little guy can also be an opportunist, taking advantage of a situation to make a point, make money, or both.

I am sure we all read about the military veteran waitress who claimed that a family stiffed her of a tip because they did not approve of her lesbian lifestyle, and wrote a note on their restaurant receipt to explain this to her.

Of course, in this day and age, you just don't bring this to the attention of your manager, you take a picture of the receipt and its handwritten message, go to the Internet, post it, and see what happens.

Well, that is exactly what she did, and thousands of dollars reportedly poured into her in sympathy for her plight.

She said that she would donate all the money to a wounded warriors foundation, for servicemembers who have been horribly injured while away at war.

People even drove miles and miles just to eat at her restaurant, and they gave her hefty tips, again in sympathy of her plight.

This story became an Internet sensation, and it was almost a feel-good story in these times where we, as a society, are becoming more accepting of gays and people with alternate lifestyles.

Well, guess what?

The whole thing was a hoax, and what isn't making the Internet rounds is that the waitress has been fired for her actions.

What happened is that the family in question, the family that supposedly stiffed this imbecile for a tip because of her lifestyle, came out of the closet themselves, in a way, stating that they had the credit card receipt to prove that not only had they left a tip, but they left a pretty hefty one.

And they didn't write anything about her lifestyle, their only use of a pen being to sign the receipt.

With the waitress' back into the corner, management of the restaurant made a full investigation, saying that they were seeing if perhaps another waiter at the restaurant wrote the message, or that there was some other wrongdoing that got their waitress ensnared in this situation.

What they found is that the waitress was simply an opportunist, taking advantage of the sympathy of the public to see her scheme played out.

Now, I would say she should get a lawyer, because not only was she fired, but she could face charges of embezzlement and who knows what else if anyone wants to pursue it.

I don't know if any of the money has been turned over to a wounded warriors group, either.

So here, you see that the little guy, in this case an average, everyday waitress who just happens to be a lesbian, tried to take advantage of the prevailing over-sympathy we are now giving out as a society to those whose lifestyles are not of the usual kind.

Shame on her, and shame on all of the fools that fell for this ruse.

But it just goes to prove that when opportunity knocks, the door will be answered, whether we are talking about a multi-national corporation or your average Joe ... or Jane.

Whatever the case, and whoever perpetrates these falsehoods, it is shameful behavior, and I hope that in this case, she gets the book thrown at her.

And I would love to open that door to have that book thrown at her, I really would, and I am sure that I would have to stand in line ... those that contributed to her fairy tale would probably get first ups.

And lastly, why isn't the Internet covering this part of the story as vigorously as they did the "feel good" part?

Are those that covered the first part afraid that they will offend a segment of the population if they did?

Frankly, I don't think the waitress is the only one who should be ashamed of themselves here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Rant #1,100: A Snowy Milestone



This site reaches 1,100 entries as of today.

I think that is pretty good, don't you?

So many similar sites go down for the count pretty early, but this one keeps rolling along.

I know I don't have as many followers as, say, Perez Hilton, but hey, the ones that I have are very, very loyal.

I thank you for coming back to this site each and every day, or at least five days a week.

Thanks again.

Now onto the news of the day in this neck of the woods ...

Snow.

It looks like we aren't going to be spared this time.

We haven't gotten much of anything. I know the rest of the country has gotten walloped several times already, and it isn't even officially winter yet.

But our time appears to be here.

We did get a little bit on the weekend, just for good measure, but today, we are supposed to get something.

It won't be what other areas have received, maybe from 2 to 6 inches I have heard.

But we are going to get it. It appears the meteorologists on TV and all the others are going to be correct this time.

The snow is supposed to come during the height of rush hour, about 8 a.m. The good thing for me is that I am already at work at that hour, so I won't have to worry much about my commute. My wife is also pretty much ensconced in work at that hour, and my son is already at school, so there are no worries there.

Of course, my parents will be stranded today. My father hasn't gone into work and is taking the day off in anticipation of this mess.

It is funny how your perception changes as you get older. And snow is where your perception changes the most.

As a kid, you love the white stuff. It really makes your environment into a winter wonderland.

As an adult, you absolutely hate it. You hate driving in it, cleaning it up, or experiencing it when it is really bad and you lose power.

I don't look forward to it, but it evidently is coming.

So on the day where this blog reaches its 1,100th post, all I can say is snow, at whatever rate, is coming, and I just can't wait to clean off my car and come home from work in this mess.

I hate it, I really do.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Rant #1,099: Hoop It Up





My son and I hooped it up yesterday afternoon.

We really, really did.

We went to Madison Square Garden on our annual excursion to see a Knicks game, and boy, did we hoop up this one.

I am sure that you know that the Knicks played perhaps their worst game ever yesterday, losing to their arch-rival Celtics by 41 points, 114-73.

And at least I can say that my son and I were there to witness this fiasco.

But there is much more of a back story on this one than just the game.

I have been going to Knicks games since I was about eight years old. My father took me to my first game at the old Garden, a loss to the Lakers, in 1965.

Even though the Knicks lost, I loved every minute of my time there.

I loved how close the fans were to the action, and in those days, the place was half empty, so the ushers didn't mind if you moved down, and my father and I did, so the players really looked larger than life to this eight year old kid.

Anyway, flash forward to the current time, and I am a father now, and I take my own son to games.

But the situation is oh so different.

The Garden basically prints money. No matter how bad the Knicks are, they sell out the place, and sell it out at the top prices in the league.

It is very, very difficult for a working person to attend any games, because tickets are pretty much near $100 for a single ticket, on up, of course, to tickets that are thousands of dollars.

For one, single game.




This year, I scoured the schedule, and once again, tickets were ridiculously priced.

But this year, rather than keep silent, I made a move.

I called both the Knicks office and the NBA office to complain.

I did it in a constructive way, not accusing them or pointing fingers, but simply saying that I wanted to continue our family tradition of going to games, and I was being stymied by the fact that it was costing Broadway show prices to attend.

My pleas fell on deaf ears until about a month later, when a representative from the Knicks contacted me.

She said they would set something up where I could attend a game at a more affordable price.

And while I didn't get the tickets for free, I did get them at like 25 percent off, which I guess was good enough. They were still pricey, but not as pricey as they would have been if I bought them directly at the regular price.

(Yes, you would have thought they would have given them to me for free, and I wrestled with that point for a while, but after a while, I figured that I would take the discount.)



So we went to the game yesterday, and in a very classy move, the Knicks sent a representative to our seat, and gave us a fan pack for our trouble.

Very classy indeed.

That the Knicks got blown out--their third worst home loss in history--was kind of secondary to the back story.

I continued the tradition of going to Knicks games with my son--this is our ninth game together over the past seven or so years--and I was satisfied that the Knicks, and the NBA office, both have a conscience.



What that will translate to in the future is anyone's guess, but look, I have been hooked on the NBA for nearly a half century--why stop now?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Rant #1,098: Look What I Found!



Don't you just wish that one day, you would find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

Well, I do believe that someone has he potential to do just that, and it wasn't a pot of gold, it was a blunt of pot.

At a Wendy's in Lovejoy, Ga., a customer called 911 after finding a half-smoked joint inside her burger.

The woman who was given the burger became sick, the employee who said she misplaced her pot inside the burger was fired and was arrested for marijuana possession, and Wendy's reportedly offered to pay the ill woman's medical bills, and also gave her a $50 gift certificate.

Sorry, in this lawsuit-happy world, the person who was victimized by the out of joint joint should find a lawyer and sue for millions. Heck, all she wanted was a Wendy's hamburger, and she got much more than she bargained for.

This might be the situation she was waiting for her entire life.

She could tell a judge and jury that she was poisoned by the pot, and that she deserved the money because she was victimized.

Fast food places are traditionally a courthouse's best friend.

Remember all the lawsuits launched against these restaurants for one thing or another, such as their menu items making their kids fat?

How about the lawsuits that stemmed from people dumping hot coffee on themselves?

Better yet, how about the litigation that ensued when somebody found a sawed-off finger in one of their sandwiches?

These have all happened, and while most of the suits seemingly have been thrown out of court, you have to say that they have, at the very least, kept courtrooms busy.

Here, we have a true victim, someone who experienced food poisoning-like symptoms after devouring at least some of this burger/blunt hybrid, so maybe she has a case.

Others with less of a reason to sue went ahead with it, and at least tried to get extra money out of the fast food companies, and somehow, I don't think a gift certificate is going to placate this woman.

Yes, a pot of gold might be waiting for this person, or maybe, at the very least, a lifetime supply of hamburgers, or maybe even hair dye to make her hair as red as the Wendy's girl in the commercial.

Ah, I guess it was a pipe dream ...

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Rant #1,097: The Last Candle Has Been Lit ...



For Jews around the world, Hanukkah 2013 has come to an end.

This most interesting of Hanukkahs--with it falling pretty much in line with Thanksgiving--made this a memorable occasion, one that we won't soon forget.

But now the holiday is over.

Amidst the weeks and days leading up to Christmas, Jews around the world can pretty much sit back and watch a good part of the universe get ready for the celebration of their holiday.

Usually, Hanukkah and Christmas are pretty much aligned, by the calendar only.

The two holidays have nothing to do with each other at all, although many people like to lump Hanukkah in with Christmas, as the Jewish Christmas, which is as wrong as saying Christmas is the non-Jewish Hanukkah.

But that being said, Jews often are on the outside looking in when it comes to Christmas.

There are so few Jews in the world relative to the overall population that Jews are, in fact, outsiders to this holiday.

No matter how homogenous Jews have become in this world, Christmas is just another day to us.

Jews revel in our non-Jewish friends' enjoyment of the holiday, and Jews often participate in the holiday as if it were their holiday too, but it isn't, no matter what many of them do and say.

I think being on the outside looking in is a unique position to be in during this time of year.

It allows us to view Christmas for what it is, what it means to our friends, and what it means to most of the world's population.

Jews such as Irving Berlin and Mel Torme have been able to put this viewpoint into song, and have written maybe the greatest Christmas songs ever, "White Christmas" and "The Christmas Song," two of not only the greatest Christmas songs ever written, but probably two of the greatest songs ever written, period.

Being part of our culture, Jews are bombarded, just like everyone else is, by commercials, TV shows, movies and music that reflects that this is Christmastime.

We have gotten used to it, as everyone has, but I still remember my kids asking me, "Why are there not Hanukkah TV shows?"

Things have gotten better in that regard since they were kids, and today, the entertainment business is finally starting to acknowledge that not everyone celebrates Christmas, that we are a true mosaic of lots of different religions and cultures.

But frankly, it took them a long time to acknowledge this.

I still remember that as a kid, my mother would have to look far and wide for Hanukkah cards to send to friends and relatives.

And this was in 1965, not 1865, so change has come, but it has been very, very slow in coming.

To all my non-Jewish friends, have a great Christmas season.

To all my Jewish friends, I hope this year's Hanukkah was a good one.

Let's all sit back, relax, and if you are Jewish, you know the Christmas routine ...

What movie will you be seeing on that day, and what Chinese food place are you going to be ordering dinner from?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Rant #1,096: Week of Woe Continues

My week of woe continues.

Yesterday, I told you about an exploding toilet, today I will tell you about something more of a disappointment than anything else.

My family and I had planned to go to see a Broadway show this holiday season, but our plans were thrown out the window.



During its original run on Broadway, we had wanted to see "The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream," which featured the reunion of the four original (Young) Rascals on stage, but we never had the money to do so.

When the show started to tour, and it came to Long Island at Jones Beach, money was still an issue, so we did not go.

Finally, we had the money, and we decided to go and see the show as it returned to Broadway during holiday time.

Well, evidently, that is not going to happen, because of the recent announcement that the latest run has been lock, stock and barrel canceled.

Evidently, musical director and creator Steve Van Zandt, yes, the same guy who was on "The Sopranos" and is in the E Street Band, has a busy schedule, and there were conflicts, so they decided to close the whole several week run down.

Baloney.

I would say that ticket sales were probably pretty bad, and that is the reason that they closed down. You don't just close a show down--especially during holiday season--because your musical director has too many fingers in various pots.

I heard from someone that ticket prices for this run were way above what they were during the original run, and it probably turned a lot of people off seeing the show again--which is the magic of the success of "The Jersey Boys," the Four Seasons show--or for the first time.

And to add insult to injury, I heard about the cancellation through Facebook.

Ticketmaster did not send out a cancellation notice themselves, which I thought it was incumbent for them to do if you order tickets through them and an event is canceled.

I called Ticketmaster, and they said we would get a full refund within a few days. I did not question them about why they did not send out a notice.

My family is disappointed. I saw the Rascals in concert about 25 years ago, during another reunion, and they were quite good. I even interviewed them, had dinner with them in some East Village Chinese restaurant, and they are nice guys.

But I guess the money wasn't there, so they aren't going to be, either.

Anyway, at least I can live with my memories of the band. My son was just getting into their music, and now we have nothing, less our refund.



But again, I do have my memories, and they are contained on the many Rascals records that I own.

Yes, I am bummed out, and I don't expect the show to return to Broadway any time soon.

So I will just have to spin those records, and think of what could have been ...

And also think about what will befall me next in this week of woe.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Rant #1,095: What the Crap?



Literally.

I had one of those glorious days at work yesterday, one of those days that you don't forget so quickly.

All I ask for is some understanding ... pee and sympathy if you will.

Let me explain.

I drive into work, I get there, and I am the one who opens the building that I work in, so I go about my business just like I have on Mondays for the past nearly two decades at my place of business.

I do what I have to do to get ready for the workday, and then, I feel like I have to go to the bathroom.

So I walk into the bathroom, and to me, the toilet water looks discolored.

I then flush the toilet--and all hell breaks loose.

A funnel of water oozes up the toilet and all over the floor.

Discolored water--and probably other things--cascades all over the floor as I am standing there.

I grab the plunger, and stick it in the toilet, trying to get everything to go down so there won't be any more water explosions.

I am successful in my quest, but there is about an inch of water on the floor around the toilet.

So yes, in my shirt and tie and nice pants and shoes, I grab paper towels and try to sop up the stuff.

I takes about 15 minutes, and the floor is reasonably dry.

But I still have to go to the bathroom.

So I go downstairs, where we have another bathroom, and I literally do my duty there.

I flush the toilet, and there is a problem here too.

The toilet will not flush correctly.

Yes, the particulars went down the toilet, but it didn't flush correctly.

I try several times, and nothing.

I get a blank piece of paper and tape, and write out a sign saying: "Do not use. Does not flush correctly."

I am exasperated, but at least I did my duty, if you will. I will tell my supervisor when he comes in, and it will all be taken care of.

I then have to go back downstairs to fax something out, and I meet up with one of my co-workers, who had just come in after me.

I tell him my plight, and then he discovers something.

"Larry, there is water all over the floor by my desk!" he yells, and lo and behold, the water that I sopped up from upstairs has made its way downstairs, went through the wall, and flopped right down on the floor below.

Well, guess what I did?

In my shirt and tie and nice pants and shoes, I got down on my hands and knees once again and sopped the stuff up.

And the real work day had not even started yet ...

I must have washed my hands 50 times yesterday, and I hope I didn't smell like crap during the day.

I will tell you that no one thanked me for doing what I did, but again, I did my duty.

The P.S. to the story is that we have a guy who comes in to do random jobs, and he looked at both toilets and surmised that a certain part was negligent in both, and that is what caused the problem.

So, all's well that ends well.

But if you told me you had a crappy day at work yesterday, I would tell you that that might be true, but I had even a crappier day.

Literally.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Rant #1,094: Just About Over



Well, I'm back ...

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving. I did.

And if you are Jewish, I hope that your Hanukkah has been a good one. Mine has been good, and incredibly, it is five nights into it, with just three more to go.

And if you are my father, I hope you had a nice 82nd birthday. I think you did, and I hope that you have at least another 82 more.

It was a hectic time in our household, with so much going on, but we ate our turkey, just about all of our gifts are exchanged, my dad is now 82 plus a couple of days, and we are now into December, as hard as that is to believe.

There were some negative things that happened during the past couple of days. It wasn't all fun and hilarity for me.

First off, right before the holiday, my eye doctor died. He was just 44 and reportedly had cancer.

This was the guy that saved my left eye a few years ago. Along with the diagnosis of my regular eye doctor, this guy did the procedure that saved the vision in my eye, and actually made it better.

I was eternally grateful for his ability and skill in doing what he did, and I was shocked by his passing, especially at such an early age.

Next, just prior to the holiday, my friend's father passed away. He was in his 90s and had been in poor health for years.

Nonetheless, it was a shock that he died. He seemed to have some inner resolve that kept him hanging on for years past his due date, so to speak.

He was a nice guy, always treated me with respect, and was a good dad to my friend and his sister. I hadn't seen him in a few years, but I am sure he is in a better place now.

And not to liken this situation to theirs other than the use of a similar word of description, the Knicks are dead. Dead as can be.

They have now lost nine straight, show little or no signs of getting back to respectability, and are the biggest disappointment in the NBA right now.

They have gone from contenders to pretenders in the span of a month, and that is something that is very difficult to do, but they have done it.

Other than those instances, it was a good holiday, good to get away from work, good to be home with my family.

And no, my wife's side of the family has not sent us a Hanukkah card. We will probably get the same "Season's Greetings" card that we always get from them, which, if course, is a veiled Christmas card, and since both Hanukkah and Christmas are separated by so many days this year, the "Season's Greetings" card means absolutely nothing to myself and my family.

But what else is new? It's that way each and every year, and it evidently is going to be the same way this year.

Not much changes from year to year anyway, does it?.

Now, it is back to work, back to the same old same old until later this month, when Christmas dawns.

I am looking forward to that day, simply because I get another two days off at that time, and it will be time for this Jew and his family to do what Jews and their families do on that holiday: go the the movies and have Chinese food.

Sometimes it is nice being on the outside looking in after all.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Rant #1,093: Thanksgiving/Hanukkah Mix



Don't fully believe everything that you read about the supposed mix of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah that is happening this year.

Yes, the holidays do collide, but not in the way that the media is portraying it.

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah.

Remember, Jewish celebrations begin at sundown.

Tomorrow is Thanksgtiving.

Tomorrow is also the first full day of Hanukkah.

So, to be exact, Thanksgiving falls on both the first full day of Hanukkah as well as the second night of the celebration.

Sure, it is important, because Hanukkah is an eight-day celebration, but the way the media is portraying it, both holidays open and close at the same time, which is not true at all.

I haven't even bought everything for Hanukkah yet.

I traditionally will buy everything that I still need tonight, after work.

I have been doing that for years, and I will do it again this year.

It is better for me. The stores are pretty much empty in anticipation of the Black Friday rush.

This year, of course, it makes a problem, because the first night of Hanukkah is tonight.

But I have told my family to wait for me, I won't be home very late, and we can celebrate when I get home.

Right now, it is stormy outside, and honestly, my allergies are really bothering me.

But tonight, I will put that all aside, and have a great beginning to a nice holiday ... err ... holidays.

Not good English, but a fine celebration nonetheless.

I will also take a few days off from this column, so I will next speak to you on Monday.

Have a great holiday ... err ... holidays.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Rant #1,092: Wrestling With Boredom



As I said just yesterday, my weekend wasn't very much of anything. With my wife working, my son and I basically didn't do very much of anything, but I also said that things were going to pick up very soon.

And I meant that they would pick up literally the very next day.

After a long day at work--and I do mean a very long day--my son and I took in WWE Raw at the Nassau Coliseum.

This is the show that is broadcast live on the USA Network, and it is the flagship show of this multi-billion dollar corporation based in Connecticut.

The show for us was actually nearly four hours, as they also put on a web-only WWE Superstars show prior to Raw going live.



Anyway, we were sitting in the rafters yesterday, and although we were pretty far away from the action, we could see everything pretty well. There was some obstruction with all the gizmos they have above the ring, and sometimes the lights that they used to illuminate the ring for TV got in our way, but generally, we were OK with the sight lines.

Honestly, I was bushed yesterday, and I felt myself yawning through just about the entire thing.

This started when we got to the Coliseum, and we were charged $25 for parking, up $5 since the last time we were there six months or so earlier.

And this is for a place that is going to be torn down in 2015 yet.

Then, the next indignation is that security had us line up outside before they would allow us into the Coliseum.

It was a bitter cold night, and the only things that saved us were that 1) we were dressed appropriately for a late autumn night in New York, and 2) there was little or no wind, which was starkly different from the previous night, when winds upward of more than 50 miles an hour were charted in our area.

When we got patted down and finally entered, it was warm as could be, which was fine with my son and I, and this followed throughout the next four hours.

As I have said before, this really is the modern circus, and WWE treats its fans better than any other sports organization I know. For the four hours we were there, it was really non-stop entertainment all the way.



For me, I don't get personally involved, like when I see the Yankees or Knicks in person. I generally cheer for the bad guys, my son for the good, so it makes for a fun evening.

We even saw several people there that we knew, and we exchanged pleasantries before the jumping, punching, slapping, and brawling took place.

And yes, there were so many kids there--and, I mean, little kids--that if clowns would have come out, I would not have been surprised.



Instead, we got to see John Cena, Big Show, Alberto Del Rio, Randy Orton, and the like.

I guess they are like clowns, too, as the entertain the crowd, but much more athletically than anything most clowns could do.

The show was over by about 11:15, and we were home slightly past 11:30. We were in bed by 11:45, and I woke at my customary time of about 4:40 or so.

As I write this, my wife just woke up, and my son will be soon to follow.

Back to the mundane, I guess, until next time ... which should be soon.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Rant 1,091: Weak-End



When my wife has to work an entire weekend, it puts a crimp in anything that my family wants to do, and this weekend was one of those.

She is a bank teller, and as you can imagine, with the holidays just around the corner--and Hanukkah and Thanksgiving converging this week for the first time since 1888--things are busy at her place of business.

So my son and I were left alone, and well, we didn't do too much.

Food shopping was the first order of business on Saturday, and later in the morning, my son has his bowling league, so that was No. 2.

That was pretty much it for the weekend.

On Saturday, as is customary, I went out and brought in our dinner: pizza, salad, and for my son, Taco Bell.

I watched the Knicks game--they lost, of course--and that was pretty much it.

Sunday was even a less busy day, if that is possible.

As my wife went to work, I decided that I would move my LPs around, clearing off another shelf and allowing the albums to breath a little bit.

This took about two and a half to three hours. The records kept falling--the shelves aren't really made for LPs, but that is what we use them for--and I was bushed, bruised and battered at the end of this.

We are talking about moving hundreds of LPs, and let me tell you, it was not easy. Every bone in my body hurt by the time I was finished.

I watched some TV--some old "My Three Sons" episodes, the black and white ones--and I then settled down to watch the Nets game--and yes, they lost too.

My wife came home, we had dinner, and my wife and I pretty much fell asleep by 8 p.m. or so.

This weekend was not too exciting, but it will probably be the dullest few days I will have for the rest of the year.

More about that tomorrow.

I always say during weekends like this that, "At least I wasn't at work ... ."

... But it's back to work I go today, where there is never a dull minute.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Rant #1,090: 50 Years



I cannot believe that today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Fifty years is a long time, and on the other hand, it really isn't.

I can remember so vividly where I was, what I was doing, and what I did in the aftermath of his murder.

I am going to set a precedent here by re-running, in part, a Rant that I made way back in 2010, on Nov. 22, then the 47th anniversary, Rant #380, which I titled "Our Bleakest Moment."

It pretty much sums up everything I wanted to say then, and three years later, it still does.

Here is the edited Rant:

"It is hard to believe, but 47 years ago today, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in a Dallas, Texas, motorcade.

Kennedy was the last of our beloved Presidents, the last President whose picture hung in people's homes. Sure, we have found out that he was a surly, womanizing adulterer in the intervening years, but back in 1963, he was a "rock star" before that was acknowledged as a way that one handled themselves.

He was young, vibrant, had a beautiful wife, young kids, and he pointed to the vitality of the United States.

When he died, I think our innocence went with it. The 1950s clearly ended, and the 1960s--the years of protest, war, murders, and many other eye-opening events--truly started.

I have often told this story, and I may have even told it here, but I will tell it again.

I was in first grade in P.S. 165, a good grammar school that still stands (under a different name) in Flushing, New York. I was six years old.

I seem to remember that it was nearing the end of the day in Mrs. Gold's classroom. All of a sudden, the next door teacher ran into the room in tears and screamed, "The President has been shot!"

A few moments later, the principal came on the PA system, explained what happened (or at least, gave us an update on what happened), and we were let out of school.

We ran home in horror, and I can remember sitting in front of our old black and white Dumont TV and being mesmerized by the images I saw. I even remember calling my mother into the living room when Lee Harvey Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby on national television.

And yes, I remember John John saluting his dad as the flag-laden coffin passed him.

In the 47 years which have passed, so much has happened. John John and Jackie are gone, Caroline moves along, Ted is gone and so is Bobby, who was also murdered just a few years later ... and the Kennedys are no longer much of a force in our political scene.

I, personally, have grown from a young child to a man, with my own family and responsibilities.

But that moment--when the teacher burst into the room with the news--is something that I will never forget.

I will never forget where I was when we heard he had been shot.

It is one of the touchstones of my life, and probably for most Baby Boomers who were old enough to remember that moment."
Now, incredibly, it is 50 years since that moment in time that will stick with us forever.

It is hard to believe, isn't it?

And TV continues to be the center of the coverage, with numerous specials dedicated to that moment in time.

I really don't know if I am going to watch any of them. How many times can you go over the same thing?

This is an incident that still touches us like no other moment--save, quite probably, 9/11--in at least my own lifetime.

We were the kids of that generation, the people that JFK was something of a father figure to. Many of his policies laid the groundwork for what we would experience while growing up into adults.

Unfortunately, his beacon was snuffed out way too early. 

There is no telling where his presidency would have gone if he had lived. 

He was much more conservative in his politics than his brothers were, but conservative or not, the general populace loved this guy, and to me, he was our last, final across-the-board popular President.

Now, it is 50 years ...

Have we grown as a country, as a planet, as a world since this event happened?

With all the senseless gun violence that still fills up the news today, I just don't know.

I think the jury is out on that one.

But one thing I do know is that that moment in time, 50 years ago today, will seemingly never burn out. This will be looked at for many generations to come, and will be debated forever.

The world did change when JFK was gunned down, and I know the life of every baby boomer--me included--changed too.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Rant #1,089: ARod A'Leaving



Fallen New York Yankees baseball star Alex Rodriguez bolted out of his performance enhancing drugs arbitration hearing yesterday.

He called the entire process, which he had previously backed, a "farce," disagreeing with the ruling that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig did not have to testify at these hearings.

On a radio show yesterday, Rodriguez further labeled the process as a "witch hunt" and he took on  Selig in the process.

ARod said something to the effect that, "Selig is retiring, and he wants my head in his trophy case" or something to that effect.

ARod is both right and wrong in his assertions.

He did use PEDs. He has admitted to using them early in his career.

Of course, he is not on trial for those past deeds, but for possible more recent use of these drugs, which he reportedly obtained from the closed Biogenesis anti-aging clinic, which has since closed down.

He was one of several players cited. Those players took their medicine, so to speak--suspensions--and have since moved on.

ARod has always denied his involvement in this, and has fought since day one to have his name unsullied.

The way I look at it, he has made his bed, and now he has to lay--or lie--in it.

And because of that, he is correct.

These hearings have become something of a witch hunt, but since he is the only one being judged, what more--or less--could it actually be?

MLB has come up with some nefarious ways to gain information, from some smarmy individuals, and this has come out at these hearings, if you want to believe everything you read.

The heat got too hot for ARod yesterday, and he left the hearing in disgust.

Many people are on ARod's side, saying he is being persecuted because he is Hispanic, because the Yankees want to get out of his enormous contract, because baseball wants to be rid of this cancer ASAP, because yes, Selig is retiring.

My take is that the 211-game suspension that they foisted on ARod in the first place was ridiculous in its length.

MLB has gone to extreme means to present evidence against him, and ARod, on the other hand, has gone to extreme means to exonerate himself.

Because of this, they are butting heads like two stubborn billy goats.

When the hearings conclude, and an arbitrator makes his decision, I think you will find that ARod will have been found to have used PEDs from this clinic, but there is no way that he is going to get such a suspension.

He might get 50 games, he might get a little more, and he might get less.

Or he won't get anything at all.

And if that happens, it will set a precedent, and other players will fight like cats and dogs when they are found to have used PEDs.

Look, athletes have been using "stuff" since the late 1960s to better prepare them for game. If you need any evidence of that, simply read Jim Bouton's classic "Ball Four," and you will read that even in 1968, players were using uppers to get ready for contests.

Of course, this has morphed into drugs that supposedly enhance your skills, and dozens of players have been found guilty of using them.

ARod is one of them. And he probably used them recently, just likes many other of his peers.

He was one that was caught.

And suffice it to say that if he doesn't get his way, he will further this process by bringing it to a federal court.

Let's hope this does not happen.

He should get a fair penalty, but he should get a suspension, no doubt about it.

Whether it is what MLB wants--or what ARod thinks is fair, for that matter--awaits the baseball world.

Normally over the winter, I would be most interested in trades and waiting for pitchers and catchers to report to spring training in Florida and Arizona in February.

I still am interested in that, but this situation has to trump all of that.

Until it is over, baseball is sort of in chaos, a tumult brought on by one player who wants to clear his name, even if it is as dirty as one of his old baseball uniforms.

We'll see what happens. Even non-baseball fans should be interested in the decision that will be made probably next month.

A holiday present for fans? Not really, but at least it will close the book on one of the most nefarious episodes in professional sports history.

Or will it?
 

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