Friday, August 30, 2013

Rant #1,032: Knocking Cancer For a Loop

Beloved TV star Valerie Harper may have done something incredible: she may have beaten the odds and whipped cancer.

According to news reports, her doctors have said that she is "nearly in remission," whatever that means, with the cancer that she was diagnosed with in January.

The reason that I say "whatever that means" is that the cancer that she has--which affects the brain and the spinal cord--is incurable. Yes, I am not a doctor, but if the cancer is incurable, how can she be in remission with it.

But to move on ...

If you remember, the star of :"The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "Rhoda," and several other shows was diagnosed with what was then termed "terminal cancer" right after the New Year, and given roughly six months to live by her doctors.

As is the norm today, she went on every talk show known to man to spread the word about her disease and its eventual sad outcome.

Perhaps that was part of her therapy, but because of her therapy, now, seven months later, she is close to beating the odds, say her doctors.

This is really a remarkable story, but it probably happens every day.

Cancer doesn't pick and choose those that get it. You can be a famous actress, or a stay-at-home mom, and and can get you.

I applaud Harper and everyone else who beats cancer. They are true warriors.

Harper is guest starring on an episode of TV Land's "Hot in Cleveland" next week with several of her co-stars from the Mary Tyler Moore days, including Cloris Leachman and the lady herself, Mary Tyler Moore. Moore is a survivor in her own right, being diagnosed with a tumor on her brain a few years back.

My aunt had something very similar, and these ladies are warriors too.

Another TV actress, Fran Drescher, has had her own battles with cancer, and she has also won them. She refers to cancer as "Cancer Smancer," and that offends a lot of people.

But what she is simply trying to say that cancer can often be beat--and ladies like her and Harper prove that that can be done.

My mother is a survivor too. She has had cancer, and beat it, so she belongs in that group too. While her cancer was very mild by some standards, any cancer can be a killer if not properly diagnosed and taken care of under a doctor's care.

Yesterday, I had a small growth removed from behind my ear. Prior to having this mild procedure done, I was a little worried, I have to say, to have the doctor check this thing out that was growing on me.

A few weeks ago, I went to he doctor, pointed it out, and he said there was nothing to worry about and that it was not cancerous, just something to remove if I wanted it removed.

I breathed a sigh of relief, I really did.

So here is to Harper and all the other cancer survivors. Reports are that Harper is not totally out of the woods yet, and she has battled a cancer that has to be closely monitored for the rest of her life.

But at least right now, it appears that she has won.

And with that, I say congratulations. She has outlived her original diagnosis, and the 74-year-old actress, it appears, will be around for many more cast reunions.

And that is a good thing.

As an aside, yes, I have to labor on Labor Day, so I will be here with Ranting and Raving on Monday. Speak to you then.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rant #1,031: Home Alone

My son, who just turned 19 years old as you know based on my Rant last week, is home alone this week since his last year of high school has not started yet, and let me tell you, he has been a whirlwind here.

He goes to bed at about 1 a.m., wakes up about 2 p.m. in the afternoon, and he literally does nothing all day but go onto Facebook and YouTube.

What a life!

He is also eating us out of house and home.

We have asked him to watch what he is eating, but evidently, those pleas have gone in one ear and out the other.

He is eating cereal, gum, ice cream and cake frosting with reckless abandon, and last night, as my wife and I dozed off around 8:30 p.m., he really went to town.

With chocolate all over the kitchen, he finished off chocolate ice cream and chocolate cake frosting as if they were water.

And we have the fingermarks all over the place to prove it.

This time really is the abyss of the summer for these kids. His job at the summer camp ended last week, he is about a week or so away from starting school, and there really isn't much for him to do.

He has few friends, and they might still be away this week, so contacting them is not much of an option. And I get the impression that my son would rather be alone anyway, which isn't really good.

We cannot occupy him, because my wife and I are at work.

I know that his grandmother took him out yesterday for lunch, but if that does not happen again, I am telling you that he will not venture out of the house again until Saturday, when we have a social appointment to keep.

He is eating like there is no tomorrow, but happily, he isn't showing it. Don't go by the picture I have supplied here. That was taken a few years ago. He is much taller and much thinner now than he showed in that photo. He is built just like my mother, as skinny as can be.

We have warned him about later problems, like diabetes, and it pretty much gets a nod and that is it.

At 18 years of age, to a kid in very good health, you can say all you want about future health problems, but is he really going to listen?

We are counting the days before he goes back to school, which isn't a smooth transition, because he "kind of" goes back to school.

Due to a combination of Labor Day and the Jewish holidays, he goes back only sparingly at first, and really doesn't start his full school schedule for two weeks or so.

Every parent with a school kid knows what I am talking about here. That time between a summer job and school really is the pits.

But what am I complaining about, really?

My wife and I know he is a good kid, and he has always been a good kid. He is a good kid now, and way back, like when the above photo was taken, he was a good kid too.

He doesn't really do anything to get our goat, like hanging out with friends to all hours or smoking.

But I guess we want him to be perfect, and he isn't, and no one is.

What can you say? We are parents, and to us, he will always be our little boy.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Rant #1,030: Tennis Bawl

I am not much of a fan of tennis.

Hitting the ball back and forth really isn't my idea of real sports drama.

But for maybe one day I was a tennis fan, but you have to go back to 1973 for that to have happened.

This was at the height of the woman's liberation movement, and Bobby Riggs, a former Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion, had been mouthing off on every TV show that would have him at the time that he, 55 and long past his prime, could beat any woman at tennis, even champions of the game.

So on Sept. 20, 1973, millions watched as ABC aired his "Battle of the Sexes" match against Billie Jean King, who was decades younger than Riggs and at the peak of her sports prowess.

Riggs lost--I remember that it wasn't even close--and as the villain, most people wanted Riggs to lose anyway.

But now, we find out that the match was probably, err, Riggsed, um rigged.

Now ESPN's "Outside the Lines" show claims that the whole match was fixed because Riggs owed mobsters thousands of dollars in unpaid debt.

According to the report, Riggs purposely did not play his "A" game, and this allowed him to erase his debt.

Allegedly, the assistant golf pro at a Florida country club overheard two mobsters discussing Riggs and what the tennis player had to do before the legendary match.

Riggs' son does not deny that his father knew mobsters, and he doesn't discount the possibility that his father could have thrown the match to erase gambling debt.

However, King, who was in her tennis prime at age 29 then, disputes the entire possibility of the match being thrown, saying something to the effect of "he wanted that match as much as I did." And that is my paraphrase, but that is essentially what she said.

And you know what? King is 100-percent correct, I believe, in her summation of the whole thing.

Look, Riggs was not going to beat her. He was several decades older than her, she was at the height of her game, and there is no way a 55-year-old has-been is going to beat a 29-year-old champion, whether it was male vs. male female vs. female, or male vs. female.

It's just not going to happen.

What the match did was to elevate tennis' level of popularity to perhaps its all-time high.

I am not a tennis fan, but millions are, watching it and playing it regularly. It's sort of like golf in its stature.

Second, it pretty much gave a boost, maybe the last boost, to the then burgeoning women's liberation, or equality, movement.

It showed that women could be as good as men could be. Sure, the situation was pretty much set up for this to happen, but if you were around then, you know how important this match became.

You think today's hype is over the top ...

Anyway, whether Riggs threw the match or not really isn't that important 40 years after the fact.

And he isn't around anymore to give his own take on this.

But it was another one of those times that television drew us all together in high drama that it created itself, one of the several times that it has accomplished this during its 60-plus year history.

One of the earlier times was when the Beatles were on "The Ed Sullivan Show," and even earlier than that, when Elvis was shown from the top up on the same show.

It showed the eternal power of television, and this still exists today, even with the Internet peaking over its shoulder.

Television continues to stand as probably the most popular, and important, mass medium that was ever created, and in its own small way, this tennis match demonstrated that TV could not only show the news, but make its own news too.

And that really is the everlasting importance of this match, not who won or who lost.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Rant #1,029: Slight Push

You might remember that a few Rants ago, I wrote about WWE wrestler Darren Young, the first known, active professional wrestler to come out of the closet while still on the active roster of the biggest professional wrestling organization in the world.

I wondered how the WWE would handle his announcement.

Now, I and the rest of the "WWE Universe" knows.

Evidently, Young is being pushed, every so slightly, up the ladder of success.

It has been very low key, which is quite uncommon for the WWE, but it also appears that they are going up the right path with this story.

Young has won his two televised matches since his announcement--one as a tag team with Titus O'Neill, the other as a single wrestler--and that is news in itself, because quite frankly, Young rarely ever won any matches prior to his announcement, either as part of a tag team or as a solo performer.

Part of the reason why WWE is being so low key about this whole thing has to do with the fact that one of its top pay-per-view events of the year intersected the announcement.

SummerSlam, the organization's No. 2 PPV attraction behind Wrestlemania, was held two Sundays ago. Young was not on the card for that event, which had to go down as one of the best PPVs the company has had in some time.

Young was in Los Angeles, like all the WWE roster, for the show, and his announcement probably took some in the organization by surprise, although he has gotten across the board "thumbs up" from the hierarchy of the WWE.

Anyway, now that the promotion for SummerSlam is over, the WWE can see what it can do to boost Young, and they are seemingly being careful in doing that.

They had several choices: keep him the way he was, basically, a losing wrestler; ascend him to the "throne" right away; or let him take baby steps up the ladder, which is the way they chose to do it.

They could have also pushed him as a "gay" wrestler, but they aren't doing that, which I think is a very good thing.

Let him work his way up like all wrestlers are supposed to do, anyway, and let the chips fall where they may.

Boost him by letting him be successful, and by doing that, you make what is happening in the ring seem almost as real as Young's announcement was.

Yes, this is professional wrestling, I know, not necessarily a bastion of truthfulness.

But when you have a real story, one that made national news, you can go with it, but go with it the right way, and I think the WWE has done just that.

And where does that leave Titus O'Neill, his tag team partner?

The former pro football player is almost an ancillary performer with Young now as one half of "The Prime Time Players," but his career can get a boost too.

If he can ascend to one of the tag team leaders with Young, then this will certainly be a good thing for his own career.

I think the WWE has been wondering what to do with O'Neill, who has one of the most imposing presences they have ever had on their roster, but with little or nothing to do.

His partnership with Young might provide just the thing O'Neill needs to ascend to the top himself.

Let's see what happens during the coming weeks, as the WWE can fully focus on this situation.

To me, I think it might just be a fun ride.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Rant #1,028: Fit To Be Tied

As I have written about numerous times here, I hate to wear ties.

To me, it is a noose around one's neck, just a modern equivalent of when they used to string people up for what they said or what they did, or both.

Well, here is a tie that goes beyond anything I have ever heard of.

This tie I wouldn't have minded owning.

News reports are that a tie that once belonged to Beatle John Lennon sold for around $5,600 at an auction in Liverpool, England this weekend.

The story goes that Lennon gave the black knitted tie to a young fan way back in 1962, a few years before the Fab Four became famous across the globe.

Evidently, the kid he gave it to was onto something, and this kid regularly attended the Beatles' lunchtime sessions at the legendary Cavern Club, the place John, as well as George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Pete Best, and later, Ringo Starr, honed their craft onto future success.

Joyce McWilliams was the fan, and she was sitting on the edge of the stage holding a microphone stand for the boys during rehearsal. McWilliams said it was very warm in the place "and John asked me to lend him a handkerchief to mop his brow with," according to the Liverpool Echo. "He handed it back to me and loosened his tie."

He then gave her the tie, and she had a keepsake for life, until this weekend.

She had just found the tie again when she was cleaning her house.

In the intervening years, McWilliams' mom had actually washed the tie, but she still had that tie buried away in her belongings.

I wonder who bought that tie, and he or she must be somewhat wealthy, to throw around more than $5,000 for a tie.

And how did they authenticate that the tie had been Lennon's?

Heck, that person can have any and all of my ties at any time, and I would authenticate them right on the spot..

I hate them all, including the one I am wearing today, a black number that actually is my "favorite" tie of the bunch.

I guess that is why I am wearing it to honor Monday, the beginning of the dreaded work week.

Heck, I would give it to anybody right off my neck, and you won't have to spend thousands to own it.

But I guess, in the end, it is the neck that counts, and, well, my neck is not as famous or important as Lennon's was.

Except to me, of course.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Rant #1,027: 18

Today is my son's birthday.

But it's not just any birthday.

Today he is 18 years of age.

In this society, he is now considered a man, with all the responsibilities that go along with being an adult.

He can legally smoke, drink, vote, and go to war.

So he has many responsibilities now, although I seriously doubt that he will do any of those things I named above, except to vote (I hope).

I remember the day he was born.

My wife, who I must say really looked great when she was pregnant, was just about ready to go, but I almost had to force her to go to the hospital.

We got there, and they determined that she wasn't ready just yet, and we had to walk around to get her so.

We did, the doctor proclaimed that he was going on vacation so "this baby will be born today," since he was a couple of days late in making his debut.

And he was born.

And he was so, so tiny, I think he was even smaller than my daughter was when she was born seven years earlier.

Anyway, he has grown up, and now he is a man.

That picture above is a picture of him when he was a bit younger, but if a picture says a thousand words, this one does too. 

He just completed his first paying job this year, working in a local camp as a video game expert, where he played video games with the campers.

I told him that that job might be the best job he ever had, doing something all day that he loved. It was like getting paid to pursue your hobby.

Since my son is a special ed kid, and has a learning disability, this is his last year of formal schooling.

He will be looking for work once he gets out of school, and I know it will be difficult, but my wife and I are convinced that he will succeed.

We wish him the very best. He is somewhat immature--I think most kids are today, mainly because of their reliance on the Internet for social activity--and he has that disability, which does hinder him in many ways.

But he is going to make it.

Wow, 18 years old.

I can't believe it.

My wife and I are very, very proud of him, and look forward to his future accomplishments.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Rant #1,026: 4,000

There are several numbers that are special in baseball.

61, for Roger Maris' untainted home run total in 1961. His "PED" was cigarettes.

511, for the number of games won by Cy Young. This is a record that nobody ever will even get close to.

56, for the hitting streak that Joe DiMaggio amassed, another one of those records that appears to be safe for the ages.

714, again, the untainted career home run total of Babe Ruth, whose only stimulants were hot dogs, lots of beer and women.

There are others, but those are the major ones.

Yesterday, another magic number was reached, and while it won't sit up there with the statistics I mentioned above, it is something to behold.

Ichiro Suzuki, rightfielder for the New York Yankees, did something that only two other players have ever achieved, and he also did something that no one else has ever achieved.

When he got his 4,000th career hit on Wednesday night during the Yankees' 4-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays, he joined select company.

Only Pete Rose and Ty Cobb, two of the most talented--and most notorious--players ever to lace up the spikes, are the only other players to reach and go beyond this mark.

But Ichiro, as he is better known, reached the mark in a different fashion than the other two.

While Rose and Cobb did this while playing in the major leagues, Ichiro did it as both a major league player and a player in the Japanese leagues, so it is a combined 4,000.

Sure, some purists would say it was tainted, but he now stands as one of three players to reach this mark as a professional baseball player.

Purists would say that if that is the case, then all professional statistics should be added into career totals, including the minor leagues, which, after all, are professional leagues, too, where players are paid for their efforts.

So let's say Ichiro reached this mark as both a professional major league player in both the U.S. and Japan.

However you put it, that is a lot of hits.

Figure out the math.

You would have to average 200 hits over 20 years to reach 4,000. That shows consistency, staying power, lack of injury, and talent.

And Ichiro, who played the bulk of his career with the Seattle Mariners, is like the Timex watch they used to portray in those old TV commercials, he just keeps on ticking.

Sure, he is not as solid a player as he once was, but even approaching 40 years of age, he can still do it, and do it better than most players.

And unlike both Cobb and Rose, who had notorious reputations--Cobb as a racist and overall nasty person and Rose as a gambler--Ichiro has a persona that everyone loves. Along with teammate Mariano Rivera, he is one of the most revered baseball players of his generation.

So the Hall of Fame beckons when Ichiro's career is over, but when that will be is anyone's guess.

He is so sleek looking, even at this advanced baseball age, that he conceivably could play another five years--and in doing so, actually get to the 3,000 hit mark in the Major Leagues, which would probably legitimize what he has done both here and in Japan for those naysayers who look down at what he has already accomplished.

And if he could get past Rose's 4,256 hit total, that would really be something special, although again, people will look down on it, as it would be simply a "combined" record.

That may be true, but that would be some accomplishment.

So a tip of the cap to Ichiro, one of the best players of his generation.

With all the turmoil surrounding the Yankees this season, I am happy that he is on my team.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Rant #1,025: TV's Old Shows Are Its Best Shows

I love classic TV, and I love classic situation comedies.

They were well written, well cast, and they dealt with everyday problems that we all go through at one time or another.

Whether they were realistic or not was up to the viewer. But the values portrayed in these shows were those that I believe in, values that have helped shaped me to become an at least somewhat responsible adult.

And right now, there are a virtual cornucopia of channels on TV whose very backbone is based on these old shows, many in black and white.

First, you have MeTV, which shows a full range of not just sitcoms, but also dramatic shows from the 1950s to the 1970s.

You can watch shows like "Leave It To Beaver" and "The Beverly Hillbillies" on this channel, mixed in with shows like "MASH" and "Columbo."

Next, you can turn the channel to Antenna TV, which also has a full gamut of classic TV programming, mainly from the 1950s and 1960s, and later in the day, from the 1970s and early 1980s.

"The Monkees" and "Gidget" are standard fare on this station, and they mix in lots of movies from the era and other programming.

There are other channels that show classic TV through much of their programming day, and advertisers have seen that they can promote their products readily on these stations.

Word is that there are many more such channels in the works, and over the next few years, viewers will actually have a choice between stations that show specific eras of classic TV shows, from the 1950s to the 1980s.

That should be fun, and I am certainly looking forward to the 1960s channel, which hopefully will show my favorite sitcoms from the era I grew up in.

Right now, MeTV and Antenna TV certainly satiate my appetite for this type of programming.

Case in point is what happens during weekdays in my house.

As I am writing this, I am getting ready to record "My Three Sons," the classic TV sitcom,, starring Fred MacMurray, revolving around the Douglas family, first of fictional Bryant Park and later of California.

MeTV is currently showing the color episodes, the shows that ran on CBS from 1965 to 1972, when the family moved to California and they welcomed their first female member of the household, Katy, played by the beautiful Tina Cole.

The black and white episodes of this show, when it ran on ABC from 1960-1965, aren't part of this package, but to me, the color episodes are the real "classic" episodes of this sitcom, as these were the episodes I watched first-run when they were originally on.

Later on in the morning, before I go to work, I flip the channel to Antenna TV, and I record "Bachelor Father," starring John Forsythe, which concerns the Gregg family from Los Angeles.

When I say family, it really is the extended family of Greggs, as lawyer Bentley cares for his niece, Kelly, and the household is run by Peter, the house boy.

This show ran from 1957 to 1962, and it holds the distinction of being the only sitcom in TV history to be first run on all three networks. The show pretty much runs out of order on the station, so one day you get Kelly as an early teenager, the next day you get her as an engaged young lady.

Anyway, that is how it goes in my house every morning, one classic TV show after another, and it gives me something to watch when I get home from a busy day at work.

Why are these shows so popular?

I really believe that people today are searching for their values. Our world is so caught up in being politically correct all the time that we have lost that sense of wonder, that sense of the family unit, that sense of family, period.

The two shows I mentioned do not feature the typical families at its nucleus, but they are families nonetheless.

And while today's sitcoms feature families, they are more often than not completely dysfunctional. The humor is generally found in their faults, not their virtues.

I do believe that people are getting completely turned off by this stance, and are turning back to the shows they watched as younger people to get back to where they were and where they want to be today.

And that is why MeTV and Antenna TV are such popular stations, and a whole gamut of new stations just like them are being created to feed that thirst for not just classic TV, but classic values.

And that is good, isn't it?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Rant #1,024: Ashes to Ashes

 "Ashes to ashes
Funk to funky
We know Major Tom's a junkie ... "

Those are some of the lyrics to David Bowie's 1980 song "Ashes to Ashes," and they really have not that much to do with what I am talking about today, but at the same time, they kind of fit in.

I read where singer Richie Havens' ashes are going to be scattered at the Woodstock, New York, site where he made a name for himself 44 years ago.

Havens died a few weeks ago, and since this is something of a sacred site for music and counter-culture folk back then and now, it seems to be only fitting that his ashes get scattered there.

And then there is the case of Dick Van Dyke, venerable actor, singer and all-around showman, who recently got married again, but more recently survived a flaming car.

He was rescued from the car, and the approaching 90-year-old performer appears to be doing fairly well after this mishap.

Fire, as the cavemen found out many thousands of years ago, is a wonderful thing to have as long as you know how to contain it.

Once you lose that prowess, fire is a horrible thing, and can kill and maim people, wipe out wildlife and forests, and, well, is just plain dangerous.

Remember when you were a kid, and your mother told you not to play with matches?

She didn't say that to hear the sound of her voice. She meant what she said.

I have been in a burning car one time, if I recall correctly.

When I was a kid, I was taken back and forth to my bowling league by a young guy, older than me of course, who had a car.

The car wasn't that great, and if I remember correctly, one time, the engine exploded, and we were left stranded on the way to, or maybe it was from, the bowling league on one unfortunate Sunday morning.

And as far as my ashes, Jews generally don't get cremated. We go into the ground in one piece, or at least we are supposed to.

Or course, that is changing, and Jews do get cremated today.

But I don't want my remains to sit in an urn somewhere. I want to go into the ground, and have a resting place near my wife.

We have been paying for years as part of a burial society that we belong to, to guarantee that my wife and I have burial plots ready for us when the time comes.

It is in an orthodox Jewish cemetery, because my grandfather started the society years ago, and he was orthodox.

So as it stands, my wife and I will be buried in this cemetery, but bowing to orthodox Jewish tradition, I will be buried with the men, and she with the women.

Sure, I would prefer to be buried next to her, but this way, we can both visit each other in the great beyond, have a destination to go to when the time comes.

Sure, that's what I tell her.

But between you and me, I would prefer to be buried right next to her, but I can't change tradition.

And isn't it interesting how this discussion has morphed into one about how one wants to go when their time is up?

Heck, I figure I have at least 30 to 40 more years on this earth, so I "have a lot of living to do."

And that song is from "Bye Bye Birdie," and Dick Van Dyke was in both the stage and movie version of that musical.

But Richie Havens had nothing to do with it, so I guess we can't come fully full circle with this blog today.

At least I tried.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rant #1,023: Getting "Crabbed"

I love to watch movies.

Since I was a little kid, I just love to watch films on both TV and in the theater.

It brings me to places that I will probably never visit, and puts me in situations that I will never experience.

However, most of the movies now are high-priced garbage, and rather than go to the movies and spend $9 and up on a movie, I would rather sit at home and watch these films.

And honestly, I still watch movies from a different time.

The movies today almost completely turn me off, but once in a while, I am surprised, but not that often.

This weekend, with a pretty barren Saturday night after working early Saturday morning and having a busy post-work couple of hours, my wife and I turned to NetFlix, because we could not find anything on TV to kill an hour or two before we went to bed.

After looking for a long time, my wife asked me if I wanted to watch a golden oldie from 1957, probably one of the worst movies ever made: "Attack of the Crab Monsters."

And I said yes very, very quickly, because this movie and I have a history that dates back to about 1964, or seven years after it was originally released.

Just a little background: "Attack of the Crab Monsters" is an el cheapo classic from drive-in movie king Roger Corman. It stars a whole list of B actors--Richard Garland, Pamela Duncan,who gives her best Annette Funicello imitation without the talent, look or figure for it, and Russell Johnson, who works with the radio here, which gave him the perfect experience to be the Professor on "Gilligan's Island" several years later.

Anyway, the plot, or what there is of it, is that several people get trapped on this island, which is run by giant crabs, created due to fallout from the atomic bomb. The crabs kill almost everybody on the island, and take over their souls in the process. By doing this, they are able to talk, verbalize what they are doing, and plot to take over not only the island, but the world.

Yes, it is that bad.

But it is so bad that it's good, and Johnson is actually the hero of the entire movie, as the guy who sacrifices his life to thwart the evil plot of the giant crabs.

Now that you know the entire story, here is my history with it.

As I said earlier, I have loved the movies since seeing my first film in the theater, "Ben Hur," in 1959 when I was two years old (I probably told that story in this blog years ago, but I won't go into it now).

Anyway, I used to watch movies on my black and white TV as I was getting older, pretty much unsupervised, because I wasn't watching anything so terrible, mainly "The Wizard of Oz" and that type of thing.

But like many young children at the time, I was starting to watch horror and science fiction movies, which were being packaged on shows like "Chiller Theater" and later, "Creature Features" here on New York television in the early to late 1960s.

These shows showed some absolutely horrible films, but to this impressionable kid, I ate each and every one of them up, whether it was "The Attack of the 50-Foot Woman" or whatever.

I loved these movies.

But again, I was a little kid.

Evidently, one day, "Attack of the Crab Monsters" was on, and I watched it, but for some reason, the film stuck with me like glue.

From what I remember, I had terrible, terrible nightmares about this film, with the claw coming out and literally absorbing the people on the island, I guess.

I simply couldn't take it.

And my mother, as I remember it, barred me from watching these movies anymore because of the nightmares I had from this one film.

I remember it so vividly. It lasted several months, and at that point, evidently I was cured, because I went back to watching these films without any problem whatsoever form there on in.

The fun of Saturday night is that I really hadn't seen the movie in years and years, and now looking at it as an adult, I could see why I was so taken in by it.

Its simplicity--remember I was six or seven years old when I had those nightmares--was probably its strong point. I could have been three years old and understood what was going on.

The acting is atrocious, the script is even worse, and why does Pamela Duncan's character bring such elaborate negligees to this remote island (a precursor to the situation on "Gilligan's Island," I guess)?

Anyway, the movie is so bad it's laughable now, but way back when, this film absolutely terrified me.

And to this day, I don't like crabs, don't eat crab legs, and don't want anything to do with them, so I guess it has had a longer-lasting effect on me than I could ever imagine.

It is so funny how youth works.

It is a great time of your life, but would you want to relive it again?

Not if I had nightmares like I used to get from this movie.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Rant #1,022: Gay Wrestler

WWE Wrestler Darren Young has come out of the closet, as he has admitted that he is gay.

Whoopee do!

In what apparently is a true story, Young simply admitted to be gay--not with a grand news conference--but via a Twitter post made while he was getting his baggage after a long plane flight to Los Angeles, where the WWE is holding its annual SummerSlam pay-per-view event on Sunday.

It was so matter of fact that it is almost surprising, because the WWE never does anything in a quiet way.

Young is not the first professional wrestler that was gay, not by a long shot.

There have been numerous gay wrestlers, and even a few wrestlers who were exploited for their sexuality, going all the way back to Gorgeous George, who, by all accounts, was not gay.

The difference here is that Young came out in a new era, one where gay people are legally accepted in many, many places in our world.

I said "Whoopee do!" before because personally, I really don't care about a person's sexuality, and especially an athlete's sexuality.

To me, I don't care if he is black, white, brown, red or green, and I don't care if he is gay or straight, if he comes up in the ninth inning for my team with the winning run on base, and he gets that run in, he is a hero; if he strikes out, he is a bum.

Plain and simple, and it has nothing to do with his background.

In Young's case, he is in a strange position, because of his previous role in the company.

Young is a second or third-tier WWE Superstar at best.

He is in a long-running tag team with Titus O'Neill known as "The Prime Time Players," who look good as they come down the runway, but ultimately lose just about every bout that they are in.

And as solo wrestlers, they put on a good show, but that is about it.

They are always portrayed as villains, get booed and laughed at at the same time.

To me, the most interesting thing here is how the WWE will exploit this--or if they will exploit it at all.

The WWE is known to exploit all of their wrestlers' personal lives to a point where they aren't personal anymore.

And no one is above this.

Their top star, John Cena, has himself had his personal life exploited and exposed.

As he was going through his divorce, his storyline often touched on his personal problems with his soon to be ex-wife.

So will Young be exploited too?

Right now, some of the biggest bigwigs in the WWE have pledged support for him, including Triple H, Vickie McMahon and Cena himself.

But remember, this is really not a star wrestler. They can applaud him, but what else can they do?

If Young starts moving up the ladder quickly, with or without O'Neill, then it is pretty obvious that the WWE is exploiting the fact that they now have an acknowledged gay wrestler.

It will show their sensitivity to the subject, and in this new world we live in, it will probably be applauded by both wrestling fans and the mainstream as a good move.

However, if Young still lingers as basically a "bum," will the WWE be raked over the coals by some, saying they are missing a major opportunity to show their solildarity with everyone, no matter what their sexuality?

Will fans accept him for what he is, no matter what?

I think so, but I can guarantee that some fans will probably not be so accepting, and he will certainly be open to taunts--I mean, this is wrestling, where full body contact is the norm, not the exception.

Stay tuned. This should be interesting.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Rant #1,021: Funky Benjamins

Let me just say at the outset that I have an uncle named Benjamin, but I have called him "Uncle Bobby" for as long as I can remember.

That being said, the Benjamins I am going to talk about here have nothing to do with him, and, even though his picture is on the things I am going to talk about, I doubt that Benjamin Franklin would be too proud today.

Evidently, reports are that the redesigned $100 bill is faulty, and other reports say that the bill is so faulty that an entire order of these new bills was recently destroyed.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing has hit some type of production snafu at one of the country's two currency factories--the one in Texas, where everything is "bigger," of course, and it has fouled up production.

According to reports, the problem is something known as "mashing," where too much ink has been applied to the paper, making the bills unusable because it fouls up the anti-counterfeit measures put into these bills.

Let me tell you, by the time I pay off the people I owe money to, I don't see too many $100 bills in my wallet, anyway.

But I would love to get my hands on these new Benjamins, legitimately, of course.

It would fill a hole in my wallet that is probably a mile deep by now.

My wife is a bank teller, and has been one for more than 20 years.

She tells me that after a short while, these bills, and any other bills that she handles at the job, are nothing more than paper with pictures on them.

I guess because of her job, that is the way she must feel, but to me, well, those "papers" feel different from any other papers I handle throughout the day.

But I guess I am happy that this supposedly bad shipment was destroyed, because you don't want any funky looking money on the market.

This isn't Monopoly money, you know.

The most garish fake paper money I ever saw was in the game of "Life," when they put TV personality Art Linkletter's picture on the $100,000 bills and others on the other "money" used in the game.

I guess he was promoting the game, but to put his face on them ... heck, Ben Franklin has nothing to fear.

Anyway, I look in my wallet now, and there are lots of singles, but no hundreds.

Oh well, back to living from paycheck to paycheck for me.

I will meet up with old Ben next week, and I hope he is kind enough to stay around a bit.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Rant #1,020: Various Matters

Nothing out there is really catching my eye as a single subject to talk about, so rather than focus on one thing today, I am going to talk a little about a few subjects near and dear to my heart.

Nassau Coliseum Bid Winner Expected Today: After numerous delays, grand standings, and much else, today is reportedly the day that Nassau County will pick its winning bidder to develop the Nassau Coliseum into something supposedly viable for the county.

This has been going on for so long that it is hard to get overly excited at the prospects.

The two finalists--the Barclay Center people and the Madison Square Garden group--have basically put up what amounts to roughly the same vision for the arena, so what's to get excited about?

You know, the usual mix of entertainment, retail, and almost as an afterthought, housing.

But once the winner gets picked, the work can begin, I think.

Maybe this thing will get done before I collect Social Security. Let's see.

Yankees Win Four of Five: And yes, they are doing it with a non-PEDed Alex Rodriguez in the lineup.

The entire season they haven't been hitting, and with all of the injuries they have had, they have had to field teams that look like Little League teams--and bad ones at that.

But all of a sudden, with some of their stars back--A-Rod, Curtis Granderson, and the guy they supposedly didn't want, Alfonso Soriano--they have become terrors on the diamond.

They actually won a series against maybe the best team in the league, the Detroit Tigers, and now they are beating the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, a really bad team ...

Like the Yankees were for most of the season.

Can they get back in the playoff race?

They have dug such a hole for themselves, it will be difficult, but at least now, they are getting fun to watch again.

Rochdale Village Reunion Getting Closer: And that is really good for me, because I have tired of this whole thing at this point.

I have mentioned this event sparingly here, but I am on a committee to put on a Reunion event for my old neighborhood.

Things are picking up steam now, and we will have a good gathering of people attending this affair.

Being on a committee of four where three people are against you has made me a committee of one.

Without going into detail, I found a little bit of a problem with the some things in the background of this event, brought it up to the other three, and they basically poo-pooed the whole thing.

But I didn't, and I am glad that I didn't.

We met on Saturday, vented on whatever was going on, and I thought everything was settled, but evidently, one of the people didn't see things that way, and put up a Facebook post that I had to remove.

Yes, once this thing is done and over with, the truth will come out, but right now, our focus should be on making this Reunion the best it can be, but I guess others have their own agendas.

Monkees' New Box Set Out: To coincide with another leg of the quasi-Monkees tour featuring Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, and yes, Mike Nesmith once again, Rhino Records has released the fourth--and supposedly last--of its big Monkees box sets, this time chronicling the LP "The Monkees Present," which originally came out in 1969.

In 1969, the Monkees, although still popular, were just about on their last legs. Tork had left, Nesmith was on the way out, so it was just Nesmith, Dolenz and Davy Jones on this LP.

The album actually stands as their best effort as a Tork-less outfit, and features one of their best songs, "Listen to the Band," as well as several other standouts, including "Mommy and Daddy" and "Good Clean Fun."

But with the show in reruns, the interest simply wasn't there, and the LP faded into the mist.

However, this boxed set--with three disks and a bonus single--shows the the threesome still had a lot in them at this point in time, and it really was a shame that few were listening at this point.

After this LP, Nesmith left to pursue a solo career, and Dolenz and Jones carried on to record the abysmal "Changes," which will reportedly not get the "Big Box" treatment.

And thank goodness for that, because if "The Monkees Present" had been their true swan song, it would have stood as a very solid bowing out.

Instead, the twosome fulfilled their contractual obligations, and put out a piece of trash that is hard to top for its shallowness and lack of musical vision.

"The Monkees Present" is an excellent pop album, and I would certainly give the box set a good, thorough listen.

And that is it for now.

Personally, I am pooped from work, but I will be back tomorrow with some more scintillating chatter that comes to my mind at 5:30 in the morning East Coast time.

Have a nice day.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rant #1,019: The Day the Clown Cried

Whether you like him or not, Jerry Lewis is much more than a comedian; he is a master film maker.

Who knew that this screechy comic, who paired with Dean Martin is some very un-funny but widely popular films in the 1950s, would emerge as a film maker who made some of the funniest comedies of the early to mid-1960s?

Not since Chaplin had a comedian ventured out of his realm of comfort and created comedies that he not only starred in, but also directed.

One was the original "Nutty Professor," and sorry, Eddie Murphy, but he original puts yours to shame.

There were many others, but as the 1960s faded, Lewis had lost his flair, and he admitted it.

In 1972, Lewis tried something very different, trying to make a comedy, but one that would tear at your heart.

Thus came "The Day the Clown Cried," which starred Lewis as a circus performer who was placed in a concentration camp during World War II not just for being Jewish, but to make children laugh--right before they were sent to the gas chamber.

Since the film was a Lewis project, it had enough pull to get a slot at the Cannes Film Festival. However, what was shown there was so widely panned that Lewis vowed never to release the film during his lifetime, and it has sat for the past 40-plus years in limbo.

However, with the advent of the Internet, pieces of the film have surfaced, and once again, more footage has been released.

Seeing what can be seen on the film, Lewis may have been right about the movie.

It just doesn't have any zing, it leads nowhere, but it is an important piece of work for the comic.

He probably did fail, but it would be nice to see the film anyway.

When he made his official film comeback a few years later with a movie called "Hardly Working," he was truly past his prime as a film maker and as a comic.

It was a nice film to bring Lewis back to the screen, but it was no "Nutty Professor."

However, bad it may be, "The Day the Clown Cried" might be an artifact of its time, and I, for one, would love to see it in its entirety.

Comedy can be used to make the most grim situations almost palatable--look how "Hogan's Heroes" so cleverly skewered the Nazis for what they were and what they did--and even if Lewis' film is a failure, I would like to know why it failed.

Was it not funny, or was it supposed to be funny, in the true sense?

I really don't know, and we may never know.

And that is the crime in all of this.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Rant #1,018: Six-Day Work Week

I am currently on a six-day work week, and I have to tell you, it is killing me.

Oh, maybe not literally, but it is wreaking havoc on my mind, my body and my soul.

Every year, my place of business puts out an annual that includes every fact and figure we can possibly get on the world that we cover, which is called military resale: the military exchanges (department stores) and commissaries (supermarkets) that serve service members and their families.

This conglomeration of information, mainly related to sales, has to be obtained from the various services we do business with.

It is a nearly impossible task, but we do it each and every year.

However, this year, it has become even more impossible, because as you know, the services are on furloughs each week because of the sequester, and it has become nearly impossible to obtain the necessary information to get this book done.

It has made the book something larger than a bread box or a white elephant, and it is not helping my health.

Three of us work on this book, and we have been putting in time on Saturday to get it done, making for a six-day work week.

I am the early bird. I come in early during the week, putting in normal 10 and 1/2 hour days. I don't pat myself on the back for this, it just fits into what I am doing at this job.

But add in an extra five or so hours on Saturday, and you have for a week approaching 60 hours.

And on Saturday, so the whole day isn't killed, I come in at about 4:30 a.m. or earlier, and now I think you can see why my mind, body and soul are topsy turvy.

I could do this type of schedule when I was younger, but now at 56, it is just so hard to get this done.

I feel that my body is being torn from the edges, and I am dead tired.

Here is how this past Saturday went:

I actually started on Friday, after work at 5:30, when I did my family's food shopping, ate dinner on the run, and got home some time past 7:30.

I went to bed at 10 p.m., tossed and turned for a while, but I was probably asleep by 11 p.m.

I woke up at about 3:30 on Saturday morning, although I was up laying in bed and not sleeping much at about 2 a.m. I took a shower, got dressed, and arrived at work at about 4:15 or so.

I worked until 9:30, then I had a meeting of the committee I am working on to put together a Reunion for my old neighborhood of Rochdale Village, South Jamaica, Queens, New York.

I didn't get out of there until about noon. I drove home, arrived at about 12:30, and I actually could kind of relax until about 2:30, when we went out east on Long Island to attend a birthday barbecue for my wife's brother's wife.

Forty miles each way!

We got home after 10 p.m., and I promptly collapsed at about 10:30.

Yesterday, I woke up relatively late for me--7 a.m.--and we didn't do too much the entire day, which I really didn't mind. I took a nap at about 3 p.m. or so, woke up about a half hour later, and continued with the day.

I went to bed promptly at 10 p.m,  and now the entire cycle revs up again.

I am tired, dead tired, and I really can't wait for this nightmare to end.

I have probably about another month of this nonsense, and then things can get back to normal.

And no, I don;t get paid extra for the pleasure of working this extra day.

That would make it a little easier to take, but not much, quite honestly.

Again, I am 56, not 20 or 30 or 40, and this thing is making me nuts.

I know people have worse work weeks than I have, but I have to worry about myself and my family, and well, right now I am so tired that I can't even begin to worry.

I am just a robot, do what I have to do, and go home.

What else can I do?

(And yes, I realize the photo represents a normal work week for many of us, but I couldn't find a good representation of a six-day week. The dog jumping up at the end is really me on Sunday, but I am so tired, I can't jump very high.)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Rant #1,017: 1970s Film Icon Passes

It was announced that veteran film actress Karen Black has died at age 74.

I have to tell you, I could never figure out if I liked Black or not.

My likes and dislikes aside, during the 1970s, she was probably one of the most popular actresses on the planet.

Just to have on her resume "Five Easy Pieces" and "Easy Rider" made her counterculture-hip, if you will.

She was perfect for the time period.

She wasn't movie star gorgeous, coming up to the majors, so to speak, at a time when that was the way to go. Other actresses like Faye Dunaway also didn't fit the mold, and although this "fad" didn't last long, she certainly fit the bill for the time.

She had a look that was so counter any female movie star had had previously that you can say that she defied the odds by becoming so popular.

At least to me, her hair was always messy, her makeup not always quite on right.

She kind of looked like a female stoner before that term was even acknowledged, but she was very, very talented.

To me, she was sort of a female "version" of Jack Nicholson, and the public adored her.

She was also in such films as "Airport" and "Nashville," and she made the TV movie "Trilogy of Terror," where if I remember correctly, she battled little robots.

However, even though she was touched by the Academy Awards just like Nicholson was--she was nominated, he has won several--once the 1970s were over, her time had seemingly passed.

She claimed her downfall as a movie star was her starring role in one of the all-time bombs, "The Day of the Locusts," and she was probably right. From then on, she was in a lot of trashy movies and was almost a regular guest star on TV shows.

I just remember seeing her in a movie directed by Nicholson, "Drive, He Said," which I thought was in the 1980s, but alas, was in the early 1970s.

Both Nicholson and Black looked tired in the film, and even though he went on to become a mega-star, even by the early to mid-1970s, Black was way past her prime.

Lots of movie icons from the late 1960s and early 1970s are now gone, led by Dennis Hopper and now Black.

The were a different kind of movie star, but in their own way, they defined their era as much as, let's say, Marlon Brando defined the 1950s.

So here's to Black, a most unlikely movie star, but one certainly for the ages.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Rant #1,016: No, No, No

No, I did not win the Powerball jackpot.

Good for the people who did. I think there were a couple of winners, but not me.

No, the Yankees are not a better team with Alex Rodriguez at third base.

If you need any proof, the last three games, all losses, against the lowly Chicago White Sox, proves that without a shadow of a doubt.

The Yankees are awful this year, and I kind of knew they would be.

No, I am really not much of a fan of pro wrestler Daniel Bryan, who goes by the catch phrase, "No, No, No" or "Yes Yes Yes" depending on the situation.

Heck, they even have T-shirts attesting to this.

But I really cannot stand his character, the guy that always feels he is the weak link in the chain, only to emerge victorious.

Annoying at its best, unwatchable at its worst.

No, my eye problems have not totally left me, although I don't talk about them much anymore.

Things have kind of evened out, and I have to say that I have more good days than bad days, which is a good thing.

But every once in a while, I do have a bad day, and those days are, well bad.

No, I am not enamored of my workplace right now.

I am working six days a week now because we have our big, annual guide to get out, and I have to say, it is wearing me down to the nub.

I don't get enough sleep, I am tired, and I am fed up.

As I am getting older, this issue is getting harder to put out. It's not me, it is the complexity, or seeming complexity, of the book that gnaws at me.

No, I am not happy that I parted with some of my comic book collection.

That collection dates back to the early 1960s, and it's like giving away my childhood, for good.

I don't like it, but it is something that had to be done.

And finally ...

No, I am not taking a day off from writing this blog, so I will be back tomorrow.

At least it gives me a forum to vent a little bit, like I did today.

Sorry about that.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Rant #1,015: To Good Health

Yesterday, I went for the first part of my annual physical, and so far, so good.

I have had some issues lately, but at least right now, I am OK.

I still have a problem with my neck, which, I'm afraid, impacts my entire body.

The pinched nerve that I have has recently impacted my jaw, which appears to have been slightly out of alignment on a few occasions during the past few weeks.

You can literally hear it "pop," and it hurts to eat. I had this as a teen, but it never hurt and it went away as I grew older and my body matured.

It came back a few weeks ago, but happily, with a couple of adjustments to my eating habits, it hasn't returned.

I also have a very small growth behind my ear that the doctor said he will remove during my next visit.

No cancer, just one of those crazy things that one gets out of the blue.

But otherwise, I am OK, I am happy to say.

I will be going for a followup, where that growth will be removed, at the end of the month, and later, I will go for some other tests to be done, but right now, I am pretty fit.

I am only saying this because I read this morning that actor Dustin Hoffman was recently treated for cancer.

They are not saying what cancer it was, but it was removed surgically, and he is said to be doing very well.

Guaranteed, he simply went in for a routine physical, and they found something that needed to be taken care of.

Good for him, and I hope he never has to deal with this again.

If you hesitate going for your physical because you feel that the doctor will find something, please don't put off going to the doctor.

I know lots of people put it off and off, but you really should go at least once a year.

Chances are, even if you have issues, they are minor, but you should be checked out anyway.

Believe me, nobody likes to go to the doctor. I certainly don't.

But when the doctor says I am doing fine, it really makes me feel good.

And it will make you feel good too.

And if, by chance, something is found, would you prefer it not be found, and you suffer in the process, and, perhaps, it gets worse?

No, get it done, and get it done now.

Congratulations to Dustin Hoffman, and so far, I also get at least a pat on the back.

Further visits will show that I am just an average, normal 56 year old. I have some issues, but nothing I can't overcome.

I feel ready to go today, and in a funny way, I can't wait for my other doctor visits, to prove without a shadow of a doubt that I am fit as a fiddle ...

Yes, maybe a very old fiddle, with stings plucked many, many times, but a fiddle that can still play music pretty well.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Rant #1,014: He Done Did It

Major League Baseball finally handed out those suspensions related to the Biogenesis clinic scandal, and all but one player has accepted his suspension.

And, of course, that is Alex Rodriguez.

The Yankees played in Chicago yesterday, and of course, they lost, this time to the White Sox.

But let's face it, the game wasn't really that important yesterday.

What was important was that Alex Rodriguez was banned for 211 games, and yet, he was able to play in the game yesterday.

How is that possible?

Rodriguez did not accept baseball's ruling, and is ready to file an appeal.

He has three days to do so.

Once, he files an appeal, until that appeal is heard, he can play baseball.

Simple as that.

But according to those who were at the game yesterday, Rodriguez has become the main attraction in a very, very sad three ring circus that is the current state of the New York Yankees.

They are an awful team, poorly put together even before the rash of injuries killed their chances for this season before it even started.

Rodriguez, with his combatant stance, has only added to the misery of one of the worst seasons in Yankees history.

Why is he filing this appeal?

I really couldn't figure it out, either, but then I thought about it.

The penalty he has been given--more than 200 games--would stretch through the 2014 season, banning him until 2015.

At age 38, I think he can see the light at the end of the tunnel, anyway.

Even though he has a huge contract that runs several more years, Rodriguez sees the end of his career in sight.

The appeal was filed so it can lessen the number of games that he is suspended.

He has never said he didn't use performance enhancing drugs (PED), and he readily admitted using them early in his career.

But this case has to do with what he has done recently, and he has yet to say that he didn't use them.

Thus, the only reason for the appeal is that he believes the penalty handed down is way too harsh.

What does he want to get it down to--200, 150, 100, 50 ... that is anyone's guess.

But you just know that this will all come out in the wash.

If his appeal fails, these last games of the 2013 season will be his final games as a Major League player.

I guess he can go to Japan, if he wants, or play in the minor leagues, probably an independent league not affiliated with Major League Baseball.

But he will be done, for good, if his appeal fails.

Finally, let me tell you about Alex Rodriguez, the athlete that I have watched for the past 20 years.

When this guy came up with the Seattle Mariners, he could do it all.

He had the perfect build for a player, and his skills were way beyond those that any 18 year old I have ever seen had.

He could do it all, and he has proven that throughout his career.

Why a guy like this thought he needed PEDs is beyond me, but such a naturally gifted athlete shouldn't even think of such things.

And now we have this, this circus revolving around him.

What a shame it all is, isn't it?

And as an aside, I have to ask the question that no one else is asking?

Why, with the exception of Ryan Braun, are all the players who have been banned of Hispanic origin?

Sure, the clinic was in Florida, which, of course, is a state with a high level of Hispanic population, but is it simply coincidence that all of those banned have Hispanic roots?

Is it in the culture? Is it easy to get these drugs overseas in their home countries (if they are not American born)?

What is it that is driving so many Hispanic players to be using these drugs?

That is clearly something that Major League Baseball is going to have to sort out, too, because if they don't do it, they are only fighting maybe half the battle.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Rant #1,013: Street Fair

With little to do on Sunday--it is supposed to be a day of rest, you know--my wife and I went to a local street fair, probably the first one we've gone to since my son was a toddler.

Street fairs have been around seemingly as long as streets have been around.

A major street is closed in a particular community, and wares, goods, services and food are sold from various stands across the route.

There are also usually a few carnival rides for the small fry, and you can really spend a whole day at these things.

Happily, we didn't.

After looking at what was shown at the street fair we went to yesterday--mainly jewelry and food--we had had enough after an hour of walking and looking.

This street fair was on my main retail drag of our community, and many of the vendors with stores along this route participated in the fair. Other local vendors did, too, so it brought a sense of community to the proceedings.

It was sort of like a heightened flea market, filled with legitimate vendors looking to sell you whatever they were there for.

And when you go to a summer street fair, you see everybody in their summer dress--and undress-so I guess for a guy like me, that kind of makes it fun.

But how much jewelry can you look at?

How many hawkers of various causes can you listen to?

How much food can you smell the aromas of, and just how much can you eat?

And, of course, the prices posted at this street fair are modern prices.

In the old days, you could spend a whole day at these things with maybe a dollar or two to spend.

Today, you have to have a whole wad of cash to really get into these things.

But I have to say, the place was packed to the rafters. Although the photo accompanying this story is not of the street fair we went to yesterday, I think it kind of shows you how packed the street fair I was at really was.

It was wall to wall people, the parking lot was full of cars, and people looked like they were having a good time.

My wife and I walked up and down the rows, and business seemed to be brisk.

But after an hour, we had had enough, returned to our car, and drove home, only to plop ourselves down in front of the television and while away the rest of the weekend.

I guess the street fair was a slight diversion to the day, but to me, it was nothing with nothing.

We bought little, so we still had some money in out wallets, but the best attractions were the free ones, including seeing a sweltering summer crowd walking up and down the avenue.

That is a site, that, quite frankly, is priceless.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Rant #1,012: Is Today the Day or Not?

I am not going to say too much on this subject, because honestly, the whole thing sickens me.

Today was supposed to be the day that we finally found out about the suspensions of certain baseball players for using performance enhancing drugs (PED).

Today was the day that we supposedly were going to find out how long Alex Rodriguez, from my beloved New York Yankees, was going to be suspended for cheating, and lesser lights, like the Texas Rangers' Nelson Cruz, were also going to get their "sentences" today.

Now I read that those suspensions might be pushed back to Monday.

I felt for sure we would hear something today.

First, it is time. We have been hearing about this thing for months, it has sullied the game during the 2013 season, taken the spotlight away from the great new stars in the game to put it squarely on those whose intent was to cheat for their own personal gain.

Also, remember, press is important.

To announce these suspensions on Friday afternoon, let's say, would allow the news to be carried in Saturday newspapers, which few read.

Believe it or not, that is very, very important.

But now I hear that Monday is the day, and the reason is ridiculous.

Most of the players involved in this nonsense will be getting 50-game suspensions, and if those types of suspensions are handed down on Monday, it will still allow certain players to play this year, and yes, proceed to the playoffs and World Series if their teams are lucky enough to get that far.

So in my mind, rather than really penalize these players, you are giving them a slap on the wrist.

Rather than tell these players, "You can't play, you are suspended, and that includes the postseason," you are basically telling them, "Sit tight, but prepare for the postseason."

If you want these punishments to mean anything, they have to be thorough, to mean anything, they have to include the playoffs and World Series.

I guess the thinking of the commissioner's office is that yes, you are punishing those who used PEDs, but why punish the teams themselves?

I say that the teams are liable, too, because with a stiffer punishments, players would understand that if they do something underhanded like this, it not only affects themselves, but it affects the teams they play for.

It is early in the day on Friday as I write this, and hopefully, I am wrong about this.

Last year, the Giants' Melky Cabrera was suspended for his drug use, and when it was time to come back, his employer last year, the San Francisco Giants, basically told him to take a hike, and did not allow him back for the playoffs or the World Series.

And they did not re-sign him for the 2013 season. He now plays for the Toronto Blue Jays, who were oh so happy to give him a contract pretty quickly when it appeared the Giants were not going to re-sign him.

And yes, the Giants won the World Series for the second time in three years in 2012.

Perhaps this is what teams will do with their suspended players, not have them back when it counts the most. That would be more of a "real" punishment--and then not sign them again when their contracts are up.

Who knows, but this charade has played itself out, and it is time to concentrate on baseball, not on druggies.

Let's see what happens as the day moves on.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Rant #1,011: The World's Foremost Authority

No, it isn't the guy in the beer commercials for that beer, who claims to be the best at everything he does.

"The World's Most Interesting Man" ... clever marketing campaign, but no dice.

No, "The World's Foremost Authority" is Professor Irwin Corey.

Don't know who he is?

Well, he turned 99 years of age the other day, so at least give him kudos for that accomplishment.

But for anybody who grew up when I did, from the 1950s through the early 1980s, Corey was one of the funniest, most original comedians on the planet.

He appeared on every talk show, many movies and sitcoms, looking completely disheveled, wearing a tuxedo or at least a suit that looked like he slept in it, and with his hair in a tizzy.

He could have fit in with the Three Stooges, for sure.

Anyway, the Professor--he wasn't a real one--would be asked a question, and he would go on, and on, and on, taking 10 minutes to answer a single question.

And if you could understand his reply from top to bottom, you were really in on something.

He influenced everyone from Lenny Bruce to Andy Kaufman, and if you thought that his answers were that of a senile old man (even then), think again.

He was one of the greatest of the improvisational comics, everyone from Bruce and Kaufman to even Jonathan Winters and Robin Williams.

Starting his career at the legendary Hungry i nightclub, he had his schtick and he stuck with it through the decades.

He really made his mark on television, where he became a regular on all the talk and variety shows.

Few knew what he was talking about, but he talked and talked and then talked some more.

His delivery was what was hilarious--every bit as funny as Jack Benny's on the other side of the spectrum--and if you tried to follow him, good luck.

He never became what you would call a comedy superstar like the other comics I mentioned, but he was among the most popular comics of his generation.

In real life, he was something of an activist, spoke about his left-wing views, and readily admitted that he tried to join the Communist Party, but was prevented from doing so because they considered him to be an anarchist.

But to the public, all the anarchy he showed was in the way he answered questions.

And he was funny, very, very funny.

He was married for more than 70 years, with his wife passing a few years back.

He has been scarce in recent years, but I am sure that if you asked him a question today, he would come up with the same answer.

And good luck to following him.


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