Friday, February 28, 2014

Rant #1,354: The Dating Game Ends

Yesterday, we all heard that Jim Lange, the host of "The Dating Game," died earlier in the week. He was 81.

Lange was a veteran California disk jockey, who like some others of the time, including Bob Eubanks and Bob Crane, found their way into TV history.

Chuck Barris' two main TV game shows--"The Dating Game" and "The Newlywed Game"--came years before reality TV became a known commodity, but the shows pretty much set the pace for the racier programs that were to follow.

Lange held "The Dating Game" together as its host. If you remember, three people on one side of a wall--usually guys--competed for the attention of one person on the other side of the wall--usually a comely lass.

The person on one side of the wall would ask silly questions to the people on the other side of the wall, and that is where the fun ensued.

And like its counterpart "The Newlywed Game," the show was pretty risque for its time, and some of the answers given were light by today's standards, but for the time, they could be pretty racy.

Lange--who, through the years of the show, wore his hair longer and wore some of the most outlandish "mod" outfits that you would ever want to see--pushed the show along to a conclusion, helping contestants move on to the next question or tying the whole thing in a bow.

And who could forget the smooch that contestants planted at the end of the show? He must have planted 1,000 of these.

"And here they are ... ."

And agents used to place their up and coming stars on this show with regularity. The likes of Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, the Ahnold, Tom Selleck, Pee Wee Herman and many, many others appeared on this show, and you had to wonder how many of those dates actually were kept.

The show could be embarrassing. The worst one that I remember is when Kareem Abdul Jabbar, as Lew Alcindor during his UCLA basketball playing days, was on the show, and three ladies were on the other side answering his questions.

The problem was that he picked (or it was chosen for him, I always wondered about this) a girl who was probably at least two feet shorter than his 7 foot-plus frame. He looked embarrassed, as did the girl, and it made for some quirky TV, that's for sure.

However well known Lange was as a TV game show host--he hosted a few other shows--he was really more of a DJ, and when the TV work dried up, that is what he went back to.

He was very well known out west as a DJ, and acted in that capacity at least through the better part of the early 2000s.

But to most baby boomers, no matter what else he did--DJing, acting, voice overs, etc.--he was the host of "The Dating Game," and little else.

R.I.P. another major personality of the baby boomer generation who has left us way too soon.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Rant #1,353: Self Promotion

There is nothing like a little self promotion to help make the world go around.

Today, I am going to talk about one of my Facebook sites.

I am sure I have brought this up in the past, but if you haven't seen it, or haven't visited yet, now is the time to do so.

I have a Facebook site called 45s, and that is all we talk about there.

If you don't know what a 45 is, you will know what it is by the time you have finished reading this Rant.

45s are seven-inch records, those great, easy to collect, and easy to lose records of our past.

They are called 45s, or singles, because they play at 45 rpm on a standard record player. Albums play at 33 1/3 rpm, and there are 78s and 12s, too.

These singles generally had two songs on them--one, supposedly the "hit" side, which was the "A" side, and if you flipped it over, you got the "B" side, generally a song that was not being pushed by that artist.

45s often came with picture sleeves, and that is a piece of art in and of themselves.

I personally have thousands of 45s in my collection, and yes, they are still being produced in very limited quantities.

That is all we talk about on this site--45s.

We don't talk about war, we don't talk about the economy (maybe our own personal economies, tied into our ability to buy these things, which are often very pricey today), we don't talk about gay rights, we don't talk about the President.

We talk about 45s, and the music on them.

Everyone is free to post what they have in their own personal collections, or marvel at what others have.

Heck, I thought I had an extensive collection--others make my collection look like nothing.

But anyway, if you have any interest in this subject, please visit the site. The address is at the end of this Rant.

Singles are great because they will never be reproduced in the same way again.

LPs have come out on CD, but how many re-released singles have come out on CD?

It is a hobby that is full of fun, nothing more, nothing less.

I personally started collecting in the mid 1960s, and certainly the coming of the Beatles marked the heyday of the 45 rpm single.

And if you were a kid, just about all you could afford was 45, which cost about 69 cents in 1966 or so.

So while I love LPs, I adore 45s.

If you have any interest in this, or are just a little curious about this subject, please visit the site.

Right now, after a couple of weeks of existence, we have nearly 100 members, which I think is pretty good. We get new members every day, and the site is very active.

All are welcome. See you there. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Rant #1,352: Sports Talk

If you do not like sports, today's Rant is not for you.

But some things have happened recently that are worth talking about.

First of all, my New York Knicks are an abomination, and something happened yesterday that really put an exclamation point on this season, even though it really had nothing to do with the season.

The Knicks' point guard, Raymond Felton, who has been through a horrible season on the court, was in court yesterday, but a real court.

He has been charged with illegal possession of an unregistered firearm, and could get two years in jail for his indiscretion.

The details are pretty murky, but evidently, his estranged wife contacted her lawyer when she discovered the firearm in her home, and the lawyer contacted the authorities.

Felton turned himself in, amid another media circus.

The Knicks and the NBA have each not made a statement, but you can bet that there will be something said, and done, to Felton once this all comes out in the wash.

The next things are a bit happier on the sports front.

The WWE Network premiered on Feb. 24, amid a lot of fanfare and a lot of scrutiny.

This virtual NetFlix of wrestling features everything anybody would ever want to watch related to the WWE, including past pay per view events, and the draw is the newer pay per view events.

A lot of carriers are not happy about this, but now, if you want to see Wrestlemania, you don't have to cough up over $50 to do so. With a paid subscription of $9.99 per month, you get every pay per view that the WWE has to offer.

This is throwing the multi-million-dollar pay per view industry into a tizzy, because there is no reason to get a WWE pay per view--or any pay per view--the old fashioned way.

Right now, the jury is out on the network--it is only available online on your phone or tablet device, and although we have it, it was difficult to load, and once we got it, the picture does freeze up from time to time--but as an initial subscriber, we have been told that the glitches are being fixed as we speak.

Time will tell if this thing will work as it is. If not, the WWE at least can be commended for going out of the box to do something really different.

The next sports-related story is really about society in general.

Jason Collins, a journeyman NBA player, recently signed a 10-day contract with the New Jersey Nets to play basketball for them.

Normally, this would not cause such an uproar, but he is a media sensation because he is supposedly the first openly gay player to play in any of the four major U.S. sports.

The Nets claim that they signed him for basketball reasons, not because of his sexuality, but that is a load of nonsense.

They even had him and coach Jason Kidd pose in a photo that was reminiscent of the one that was taken when Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson to a contract with the Dodgers.

Whatever your feeling on this, Collins has now become the media darling of the world, and his jersey has become a top seller, residing along with the likes of Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony. That really is something.

But as long as the media covers him as a gay basketball player, this obscures the fact of the supposed "real" reason that the Nets signed him--to help their team.

Look, if the guy helps the team, he is a great addition, if he can't play, he is a bum.

And that is whether he is gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, what have you.

The media loves circuses, and they love to create their own circuses more than anything else, and they certain have done that with Colllins.

But let's stop referring to him as a "gay" player. He is a basketball player, and that is why he was signed.

Supposedly ...

And finally, pitchers and catchers and other players have reported to Florida for baseball's annual spring training.

With snow still on the ground here, and lots of cold weather to go, it warms my heart that baseball is right around the corner.

You know just that when the first pitch is thrown.

During this winter of my discontent, I can't wait.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Rant #1,351: Time To Go To Court

My daughter's court date was yesterday.

I might have told you about it in an earlier Rant.

She parked where, evidently, she was not supposed to park, by her work, a spot that she had been parking in for months.

What must have happened is that since it is in a residential area, somebody who lives there got sick and tired of seeing people come and go who don't live there, called the police, and they did a sweep of the area.

All her co-workers received tickets too, but they paid up immediately--$50. Once I heard my daughter's story, I figured she should fight it, and she--we, since the car is in my name--did just that last night.

Mineola is a small town on Long Island, and it was small-town traffic court that we went to last night.

(No, it is not the one pictured, but I could not find a picture of the actual court we went to. This picture is of the main court in Mineola, which serves all of Nassau County.)

The problem was that it was us and about 400 others, and I am not joking when I say that.

We were all scheduled to be heard that evening, starting at 6:30 p.m.

The problem was that people were still filing in at after 7 p.m.

After a long, hard day at work for both of us, this was just an extra annoyance, on top of the fact that parking was atrocious.

It was so bad that I actually asked a police officer--who I did not know would be officiating at the court--whether I could park where I did, and he said he wasn't giving any tickets that evening, so I could stay where I was.

Anyway, we waited, waited some more, and waited even some more, and then, finally, court began.

It was almost like I was in an episode of "The Andy Griffith Show," but Andy Taylor was not presiding. The judge that was there must have been in his late 60s, with a mane of white hair. I guess this is his last job before retiring, since what he was doing seemed to be so easy.

So many people were in this place that there were no seats. It was really a cross-section of society--young, old, male, female, black, white, English speaking and non-English speaking.

Each case came and went in a flash. People pleading guilty, not guilty, or guilty with an explanation.

Since each case was so rapidly handled, things moved fast once court actually began.

We were lucky, as we were in the first 20 cases called.

We pleaded guilty with an explanation, my daughter told the judge of her woe, and he halved the fine to $25.

We paid and got the heck out of there, hopefully never to see those halls of justice again.

I am glad we expended the time on this, even though I didn't get home until around 9 p.m., some of that because I hadn't eaten, and needed to get some fuel in my body after court.

Not only was the fine halved, but I got to see how this type of process worked.

I hadn't been in such a court for years, and it was interesting that even in 2014, the small-town atmosphere continues to prosper.

No, I never want to go back there again--been there, done that--but it was good that we went.

The bonus was that I was able to see my daughter, who I don't see too often, so not only was the fine less than when we went in, but I got to speak to my first born.

For that alone, it was well, well worth it, although honestly, I am pretty bushed today.

I hope to not go "a-courtin'" again, and if I never see another such court ever again, that will be fine with me.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Rant #1,350: Self-Service Headache

It happened again this weekend.

While shopping in our local supermarket, we decided to use the self-service checkout. My wife and I placed our groceries on the mechanism, checkout out everything, and were ready to pay.

Someone, this time a little old lady who should have known better, comes right up behind us and starts stacking her stuff down before we could even process our coupons and pay for what we've bought.

I have noticed this happening quite frequently ever since we have been shopping at our local Wal-Mart. It is not a regular Wal-Mart, because this store has groceries only, not a mix of merchandise like TVs and groceries. It is a new concept that they are trying in our area, and honestly, we shop there not because of availability, but because the prices are cheaper there than at a regular supermarket.

Anyway, we frequently use the self-checkout, simply because it is quicker than waiting on the line of a regular checkout.

The place only has four or five self-checkouts, and only two of them accept cash, the other credit or debit cards.

This past week, we paid with good, old fashioned cash, so the woman coming up behind me while we were paying really didn't upset anything, although it was rude, and I politely let her know that.

There have been other weeks where we have paid with a debit card, and yes, we have had the same situation.

With all the identity theft happening today, the last thing that I need is someone viewing my card and my PIN number.

A few weeks back, a couple with a child was right behind us as we checked out, and the father literally stepped behind me as I was starting to process my debit card.

I turned around and said to him, "Look, do you mind? We will be out of here in a minute," and then I said, "I don't think you are going to steal my card information, but can I have a little room here?"

He never apologized, but he did pull back.

When my wife and I wait to use the self-checkout, we don't even put our groceries down until the person is done, and we certainly don't go behind the person when they are paying.

That is the ultimate in rudeness and is unsafe when you are using either a debit or credit card.

Let me let you in on something--both my wife and I have had our identities stolen during the past 20 years or so, and I actually had it happen to me twice.

Luckily for me, I discovered it very early in the process both times, and was able to nip it in the bud very quickly.

One of these steals they traced to Europe, they said probably in Italy. They will never catch whoever did it.

The other was traced to Chicago--yes, right here in the good old U.S.A.--and that was stopped almost immediately.

On both accounts, there was no damage done, except to my credit history, which is pretty important.

What happened to my wife should not happen to anyone.

Somebody lifted her credit card number from somewhere--we don't know where--and it was obtained by some unscrupulous people who used it to purchase thousands of dollars of merchandise at a mall in New Jersey, electronics and baby stuff.

We were tipped off by a cashier, believe it or not, who thought that the people using the number were kind of funny.

We were contacted while my wife was at work one Saturday afternoon, and when she came home and I told her about what happened, this started the ball rolling on something that has haunted her for years and years.

A red flag always comes up on her credit report about this, and it has held her back from doing what she has wanted to do with her cards legitimately.

So identity thieves are everywhere, ripping off your credit numbers and your names with ease and aplomb. They do not care about hurting you, only getting what they want through you.

So, when some dope stands behind me when I am processing something as simple as a supermarket purchase, I let them know either they are going to move away, or I am not going anywhere, and they are going to have to wait for me to be done.

And you know what? I really do not care what they think. If they had any manners to begin with, they would wait for us to finish.

We have had similar situations on regular supermarket checkout lines, when I am paying with my debit card and I need to put my PIN number in. I just ask the people to move back.

People are in such a hurry that I don't think they realize what they are going.

For those uninformed idiots, I make it my business to let them know.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Rant #1,349: Mumps To You

One of the biggest current news stories in my neck of the woods is that there is a mumps outbreak at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York. It has spread to two campuses of the New York City-based college.

Mumps, a glandular disease that gives the carrier swollen features among other problems, is briefly debilitating, but rarely a deadly disease.

However, it is one of those things that you thought had gone away and wouldn't return.

Many people had mumps when they were kids.

I didn't, but when I look back, it is pretty amazing that I never got it.

I remember in second grade, in the new development that my family moved to, Rochdale Village in Queens, New York, most of my friends got hit with it.

Mostly boys got hit if I recall.

I remember that at one point, I was maybe one of two of three boys who were in my class at the time. All the other boys, maybe 10 or 12 others, got it at the same time.

It didn't last, though, and probably within a week, everyone was back to school, and that was the end of that.

You hear about mumps every few years. It doesn't thoroughly go away, and it seems to come back in cycles.

There is a vaccine for it, but since one rarely hears about it, I wonder how many people actually get vaccinated against it.

And if the vaccination actually works. Evidently, even if you are vaccinated, you can get the disease.

Hitting an "older" crowd this time, you have to wonder, how is it spreading like it is?

I think one of the ways to transmit it is through saliva. Who knows what those college kids are doing, but what about when we were younger and little kids of six and seven and eight years old were getting the disease--were they transmitting it through saliva too?

These things are just in the air, and they strike when the time is right, and evidently, the time is right right now. The idea is to contain it, so it doesn't get past the Fordham gates, I guess, and into the general population.

I have not been immune to such diseases.

I had the measles when I was about maybe a little over one, or maybe two years old. We lived in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, then, and I got hit bad as a very little kid.

One of the first memories I have of my life is being quarantined in the house when I had it. I could not go outside, could not do much of anything.

In those days, back in 1958 or 1959, you could die of that disease, so I had to be holed up, away from anybody, so it wouldn't spread.

The only good thing is that my parents had had it when they were kids, or at least my mother had it, and once you have it, you don't get it again, so she could care for me.

I seem to remember that my mother's mother, my grandmother, also had had it, and she was around to help out when I was down and out.

I think my father had had it as a kid, too, and with my sister coming right around the corner, every precaution had to be taken.

I don't think anyone ever found out how I got it, because no one else had it, if I recall.

Then, as an adult, maybe 13 years ago or so, I got chicken pox. This one we know how I got it--my daughter and son--unbeknownst to my wife and I--had forms of it while on vacation, but they weren't sick and didn't show too many outward signs of the disease or any malady. I picked it up from them.

When you are an adult, and a male adult, it can be deadly to have chicken pox. Happily, mine was centered on the upper portion of my body--from the chest area on up--and I managed to just miss maybe a week or 10 days of work due to it.

When I came back, even though I wasn't contagious and was basically done with it, I still had some pock marks on my face, and people wouldn't go near me.

So now we have mumps, and happily, I can stay as far away from the Fordham campus as possible, so I hopefully won't ever get this. And neither will my family.

And hopefully, it will stay centered at Fordham, and not creep out to the general population.

If it does, I just hope it goes away on its own, as it is wont to do, because that is a guest that nobody wants to welcome into their lives.

Speak to you again on Mumpsday ... err, Monday.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Rant #1,348: It's Over

No, I did not win the lottery.

Someone in California did.

My lottery dreams, apparently, were 3,000 miles away.

Today, I am going to talk about someone who has won the lottery over and over and over during the past 20 years.

Derek Jeter officially retired yesterday. A partial clip of his news conference is attached to this Rant.

During a press conference, he made his prior Facebook announcement official. He is going to be retiring from the New York Yankees after 20 years of service, 23 years with the organization including time spent in the minor leagues.

2014 will be his final season.

Last year, during a season that he only played 17 games, his body told him that the time had come.

Father time has also come, as he is about to hit the big 4-0.

He has done everything on the ballfield, helped the Yankees win five championships, and he has made lots and lots and lots of money.

It is time to move on, he said. He has many ventures, including a new publishing arrangement.

He should be not only set for life, but for 20 lives, one for each year he was a Yankee.

I look at my situation, and it is just the opposite.

I am 56 years old, going on 57.

I am as worn out sitting behind my desk as Jeter is on the field,.

However, all I have is my 401K plan, which thank goodness, is doing quite well, believe it or not.

I have nothing else, and my wife doesn't have much else either.

If I work until age 67, I could have a nice amount of money in that plan, enough to probably get me by for a year or two.

After that, I am done. Social Security will be nice, but even if it still exists, it won't help us out that much.

And 10 more years of work? Heck, I will be lucky to make it that far.

And unlike Jeter, people aren't lining up looking for my participation in other things.

So, the way I look at it, I will probably have to work for the rest of my life, at least doing something to help us get by.

Jeter deserves what he has gotten. The future Hall of Famer has been probably the best player on my favorite team in my favorite sport. I certainly do not begrudge him for that, or for anything.

But I do begrudge a society that forces people to work until they can't stand up anymore.

My father, at age 82, still drives a cab. He had an episode this week, and it was scary. Happily, he is fine.

But he is 82. Why is he forcing himself to work like this?

Because he has to, that's why.

For most people, there is no such thing as retirement anymore. People need to work to exist nowadays.

So I applaud Jeter for his decision, and he is going out on his own terms.

But for people like me, I am not going out on my own terms. And I don't think my father is, either, even though he enjoys what he is doing, to the extent that you can enjoy your job.

I am not going out at all, and that is not what life is supposed to be about.

And to me, and to millions of others, that is a real, real crime.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Rant #1,347: Full Bodied

Amidst the snow, the despair, the back pain, the what have you, there is always an oasis to go to during the winter months that makes everything feel a bit warmer than it really is.

And that is the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

The covers for the issue were released yesterday, and with a "flip" cover, which is actually a double cover, you can pick the type of model that you like the best, I guess.

On what is the front cover, you have a picture of three topless models cavorting together.

Each one of them looks like they haven't eaten in about a year.

They are as skinny as Olive Oyl, and no, you don't see anything, of course, but these girls look like they are in need of a hamburger.

Quite honestly, they look bullimic to me, barely there.

Sickening, to me.

Then you turn to what is the back cover, and you get someone who, well, I only have to say her name. That is all you need to know.

Kate Upton.

Ms. Upton, with all the airbrushes and such, is perfectly proportioned.

She has curves in all the right places, with a very pretty face, too.

She not only hasn't missed any meals, whatever she has eaten has gone to the right places.

She is wearing a bikini that appears to be either pasted on or painted on, so no, you don't see anything, but you see enough, if you get my drift.

You could not possibly have her with the other three models because she would look out of place with the three stick figures.

Yes, I am a male chauvinist pig, and I don't mind saying it.

But in this country, where eating disorders are rampant among teenage girls who want to fit into what they consider to be the norm, I find the first cover sickening, the back cover refreshing.

Of course, I am looking at this from a male perspective, and I am sure that many males would disagree with me about this.

And many females too.

But give me Kate Upton, and a woman with real curves, any day over stick figures.

To me, the first cover is unhealthy, the second is perfect.

And this issue supposedly includes something about Barbie--yes, the doll, believe it or not!--so if you want to investigate the supposed offensiveness of this issue, I guess you can move from the cover to the inside pages themselves.

I never understood the fascination some people have with how Barbie is, well, put together. It is a doll, that is it, not a social icon. But I am sure many people will be offended by that.

Not me. That is a doll, nothing more. Would I be offended if Playgirl had a pictorial on, say, G.I. Joe?

Anyway, marvel at the photos I have provided, and enjoy them.

Kind of thaws out what we have been experiencing, doesn't it?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Rant #1,346: The Curse Continues (Sort of)

Well, at least my car door was finally fixed.

I had it done yesterday on the holiday, and because of all my hollering about the abuse that I incurred since this thing happened, it was a good President's Day, as I didn't have to give up nearly as many "Dead Presidents" as I thought I would to get the repair done.

Whoopee for me! One curse lifted, another curse ready to go.

2014 has been a horrible year for myself and my family thus far, with one major nuisance or another ruining the new year for us.

The latest had to do with my father.

He is 82 going on 83 years old, and he has a heart condition brought on by the stresses of driving a cab in New York City for the past 50 years or so.

Yes, he still drives.

Anyway, he felt a pain on his upper right side, didn't tell anyone until it lingered, and since he has a stent in his heart, every precaution had to be taken, so we rushed him to the hospital last night.

They did a whole battery of tests on him, and it is not his heart, it is not the stent, it is probably an ache having to do with lifting luggage for passengers, which he is not supposed to do at this stage of the game.

He worked through this yesterday, lost his wallet (it was returned to him), got a ticket for stopping in a no stopping zone, and came home with the pain, so he was taken to the hospital.

He appears to be OK, but he is done working this week for sure.

He loves doing what he does, so there is no stopping him next week, but this week, he is done.

It appears he may have dodged a bullet here, and I am happy that he didn't have a heart attack or need a new stent put in.

There is this black cloud over my family, or so it appears, but since my father is fine, what am I complaining about?

Yes, it is snowing again, and I think that is reason enough to complain.

It is supposed to be in the 50s later this week, so all this garbage we have accumulated will melt, and hopefully go away so we won't have to deal with it anymore.

But with the remainder of February, a whole month of March and the beginning of April, my favorite month, to contend with, who knows what the weather will bring?

All I know is that my father is OK, and maybe the curse is lightening up a bit.

I won't look around the corner for anything coming up, because quite frankly, I am shell shocked at this point.

Whatever happens, happens, but I hope we have nipped The Curse of 2014 in the bud.

But then I look at the falling snow outside, and I wonder what can happen next.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Rant #1,345: Happy (Snowy) Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day.

It is supposed to be a happy, joyous occasion, where you celebrate the love that you have for your significant other and your family.

This year in my neck of the woods, well, we have had enough misery to start our own company here.
It has been a horrible winter, and this has been the week from hell.

We got pummeled yesterday with nearly a foot of snow, and then last night and into this morning, we got even more.

I shoveled three times yesterday: in early morning, at work--yes, I went, and my car got stuck in about a foot of snow in the parking lot--and at home again.

I work for a company that has absolutely no regard for its workers during weather situations.

They leave it to the individual employee to decided whether they want to trek to work or not.

This, of course, is a highly ineffective way of doing business. They have no weather plan, and they seemingly do not care about the safety of their workers.

I went to work yesterday, decided at about 10 a.m. to leave--after getting in at around 6:30 a.m.--and was told to wait, "because the rain is coming."

Yes, it came, but all it did was buttress the existing snow, making it even more difficult to get out of the parking lot, when I decided that I had had about enough, at about 12:45 p.m.

It took me about a half hour to get out of that unplowed lot. Thank God for a co-worker having a shovel, and for a guardian angel--a person I had never seen before--helping to push me out of the lot when I was caught in the ice and snow about a foot from the street.

And now, in a few minutes, I have to go out and shovel again.

So this isn't the greatest Valentine's Day I have ever had. My wife and I will exchange our cards tonight, and we will probably go out to dinner with my son tomorrow--but again, snow is forecast, so who knows?

I hurt all over. Every inch of my body is sore. Yesterday, after all the shoveling, I felt like I was ready to be shoveled into the ground, if you know what I mean.

I am firmly convinced that any adult who loves the snow as much now as he or she did when they were kids doesn't have to shovel as an older person.

Those people are lucky.

Not only is my prize for the continued snow another period of shoveling, but I also get the double bonus of having to go to work today.

I also may have to bring my son to his alternative BOCES school today--and pick him up when he is done--because his regular school district does not provide bus transportation when they are on a delayed opening schedule, as they are today.

This edict just came down last week, and as you can tell, I am completely thrilled about this.

Have a great Valentine's Day. I can't wait for the day to end, with me all nice and warm, fast asleep in my bed right next to my Valentine, who will be doing the same thing.

(Happy President's Day--speak to you again on Tuesday.)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Rant #1,344: Another Great Leaves Us

Yesterday, we lost another of the great ones, another person who helped define an era.

Unlike Shirley Temple, I don't think too many young kids know who Sid Caesar was. Sure, they probably did not know who Temple was, either, but at least they knew the name.

I don't think the same could be said of Caesar, and that really is a crime.

If those same kids watch "Saturday Night Live," and laugh and howl at the stuff on that show, then they owe it to themselves to find out who Caesar was.

Caesar was one of TV's earliest stars, through his "Your Show of Shows," one of the medium's earliest variety hours.

Featuring mostly comedy, through that show, the likes of Carl Reiner, Woody Allen, Howard Morris, Mel Brooks and Neil Simon were unleashed on the world, guys that would shape comedy for the next several decades.

And that is not to forget Imogene Coca, who was often Caesar's female comic foil.

If there was a show that was a precursor to "Saturday Night Live," this was it.

I was a bit too young for that show, so my introduction to Caesar's comic talents came a couple of years later.

Caesar was one of the multitude of stars in my favorite movie of all time, one of the funniest films of all time, "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World." 

He played Melville Crump, and like the others in the cast, this normally mild mannered person threw that all out the window, hell-bent on the basic instinct of greed, during the course of the movie.

Playing off the beautiful Edie Adams as his wife, Monica, one of the funniest segments in the movie was when they systematically destroy a hardware store, which they get locked into after hours.

You can see his comic genius on display in that segment and throughout the film.

Just listen to him figuring out the division of shares in the clip below. You never thought numbers could be funny? Listen to this guy!

Caesar, who had his demons after his heyday, was pretty ubiquitous in film and television for the past 50 years or so, but like Milton Berle, he is almost a forgotten figure of early TV, especially when compared to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz and the like from that period.

The problem is that his shows aren't rerun very often, and are thought to be relics of a different time. They are kinescopes--a film of a film--which means they are thought to be difficult to watch.


The shows are funny in any generation, and anybody who likes to laugh would enjoy these shows too.

And that goes for "Mad World" too, a movie which was just rereleased on DVD and Blu-ray.

I would search all of them out.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Rant #1,343: She Is Now On "The Good Ship Lollipop"

When talking about great child stars, we often forgot about Shirley Temple.

Her movies were relegated to Turner Classic Movies, and well, she just wasn't as popular as, let's say, a Jerry Mathers or a Miley Cyrus.

But Shirley Temple was the quintessential child star, probably the most famous and best of that breed.

She has passed away, at age 85, and all of a sudden, that little girl with the little curls has come to the forefront of our thoughts again.

I don't think that today we can fathom the impact that Shirley Temple had on the generation that lived through the Depression.

Starting out in various ripoffs of the Our Gang comedies--she often co-starred with Mickey McGuire himself, another one of the great child stars, Mickey Rooney--she later gravitated to feature films, and that is where she made her major mark.

She was the antidote to the fears that came with living through a time when there was little money around, millions out of work, and wondering where the next meal would come from.

Along with Babe Ruth, she gave the country something to hope for, a distraction from the days of incredible poverty.

And she broke barriers too.

She danced with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson on screen.

Sure, he was in a stereotypical role, but Shirley actually held his hand during part of their dance together.

Whatever the case, Temple was a smart cookie.

Her time at the top was brief, and although she acted from her heyday into the early 1960s, she basically knew when to get out.

She married well, after her money was squandered by family members, so she never had to worry about that end of life. But she wanted to do more.

She became a diplomat as Shirley Temple Black, and represented the U.S. in the continents of Africa and Europe in that role.

She did that for many years, and when the time came, she also was smart enough to bow out, and do it gracefully.

She was once asked if people could believe that Shirley Temple could become a diplomat. She answered, "No, people could not believe that Shirley Temple could become a diplomat. But they could believe that Shirley Temple Black could become a diplomat."

So she had one life split into two.

But what an incredible life she led.

No scandals, no nonsense, no nothing.

Just an incredible life, from beginning to end.

And whether it was "Animal Crackers in My Soup" or "The Good Ship Lollipop," Temple knew when it was time to bow out.

And in death, she once again bowed out gracefully.

She evidently didn't know any other way.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Rant #1,342: 50 Years Ago ... In My Own Life

The past few days I have written about the Beatles, and what their presence on the scene did to our world.

I am happy to say that I was around 50 years ago. Some people are embarrassed to admit their age, I revel in it.

As I have looked back at the past 50 years, with the Beatles as the centerpiece, my experience 50 years ago has kind of been in the background.

However, all of this has forced me to look at where I was way back in February 1964 and during the year in general. It was a significant year in what was then my young life.

I was six years old, and would be seven in a little more than two months.

I was in first grade. It is incredible, but thinking back, Mrs. Gold's class at P.S. 165 in Flushing went through two cataclysms in the same year: the death of JFK and the coming of the Beatles. We went from a very low low to a very high high in the span of three months.

My family and I lived in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, where I lived from the time I was about one year old until I was a little past seven. During 1964, in July, we would move to South Jamaica, Queens, to a place called Rochdale Village.

But for right now, we were in an apartment in Kew Gardens Hills.

I had lots of friends there, but I can only remember a few of their names now. Danny, Julie, David, Debbie, and another girl, Carla Maybloom, who used to pick on me endlessly.

She was a big girl, and was something of a bully.

I remember one time running into the house all in tears, because she had picked on me again. My father told me to go outside and let her have it. I was hesitant to do so.

He said to me, "Who are you afraid of, Carla or me?"

Without hesitation, I said, "Her!"

I was very much into comic books. I taught myself to read with them, and I bought them whenever I could. Heck, I had a 25 cents allowance, and during those days, that would be good for two comic books, as they had just risen to 12 cents an issue from a dime a year earlier.

I remember that in school, a pipe burst and we had to leave our classrooms in ankle deep water.

I also remember Mrs. Gold, an old teacher who actually had taught college previously, tripped over the wire of a movie projector, broke her leg, and was never heard from again about 95 percent through the school year.

There was a lot going on in my neighborhood back then.

It was the center of the dope sniffing craze, and every Friday night, the police would herd teens out of the basement of our building, as they were found trying to get high sniffing airplane glue.

About a block away, a beautiful woman named Alice Crimmins lived with her husband and two kids. One day, her kids were found in a garbage dump, both dead, and this led to one of the most horrific trials in New York City history, pitting this absolutely beautiful, photogenic woman against charges that she murdered her kids.

Yes, it all happened about a block away from where I lived.

But heck, I was six years old, not worldly at that age at all--nor should I have been--and my world was pretty much my apartment, my school, and my friends.

That was all to change later in the year, when we moved to a new development called Rochdale Village.

I have waxed poetic about that place, but that is where I consider that I grew up. Kew Gardens Hills was just another step toward that place. It is but a memory in my mind, but I do remember lots of things about it, as I have presented to you today.

When we moved in July 1964, little did my family and I know what we would be facing for the next seven years. But we went in wide-eyed and bushy tailed, as all the families that moved there did.

Now that was an experience I will never forget, and it all started in 1964, which, when I look back, was one of the most important years in my life.

1964 was an incredible year for everyone, too. It served as the true gateway to what was going to happen for the rest of the decade, everything from the emergence of the civil rights movement to our escalation in Vietnam.

So 1964 wasn't just about the Beatles, not for me anyway, although that was a seminal moment in history that no one will ever forget.

1964 was quite a year for me and for the world, and I will never forget it.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Rant #1,341: That Night, 50 Years Later

Fifty years ago, my family and lived in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, New York.

And at 8 p.m., we had our old black and white Dumont TV tuned to "The Ed Sullivan Show" on CBS, as we always did on Sunday nights. Yes, back in those days, families watched TV together. Not every show, of course, but certainly on Sunday nights, it was Sullivan.

There was a wide group of performers on the show, from novelty acts to somebody by the name of Tessie O'Shea, two guys who would become international stars within the next two years, impressionist Frank Gorshin (as the Riddler on the "Batman" TV series) and David Jones, who played the Artful Dodger as part of the Broadway cast of "Oliver" which appeared on this show. Of course, David morphed to Davy Jones, and he had as much to be thankful for on this particular show as anyone did.

Because the headliners of the "real big show," as Ed usually said, were the Beatles.

And once they came on the show, things were never the same again.

Last night, CBS ran a special which channeled the excitement of that show through today's music stars, and although Ringo and Paul were also on this show, sorry, you guys really dropped the ball on this one.

CBS should have gotten together with Sofa Productions, which owns the Sullivan shows, and actually ran the entire one-hour show that the Fab Four were featured in on that night 50 years ago, February 9, 1964.

And to add insult to injury, the new show was taped in Los Angeles about a week ago, depriving it of that live, New York vibe.

This was a total turnoff to me, so to complete my own 50-year circle, I watched that entire, original show, on DVD, just about to the minute that I watched it as a six year old 50 years ago.

As a six year old, I was truly mesmerized by what I saw: these four guys with long hair playing a different type of music and with all the girls yelling and screaming at the top of their lungs.

I just don't think you can get the vibe that was set that very night 50 years ago without watching the original show from the beginning to the end.

Highlights simply will not do.

The Beatles opened the show, but they did not close it, as many people think.

There was some type of European novelty act that closed the show, twisting and turning their bodies in every contortion you can think of.

Even though that was something in itself, they really couldn't follow the Beatles, nor could the guy with the card tricks who followed them earlier in the show. In fact, his segment was the only one that was taped for the particular show. Everything else was done live.

I decided to take some photos as I watched this show, and they really show that everybody who was there was having a fine time.

Whether anybody thought that the Beatles' appearance, their manner, and their music would be world changing back that night is anyone's guess.

But what I saw as I watched this show 50 years later was something incredible, something that we now know changed the world.

As a six year old kid, there is no way I could have envisioned that, and even as a 56 year old, it is hard to fully contemplate that night within its own context.

Sure, I bet the show that CBS did show yesterday night was fine for what it was, but kids, if you are reading this, go to YouTube or get the video of the actual show, and that goes for you oldsters too.

You cannot get the full thrust of what was going on on this show--and why it was so earth-changing--without watching it from the first minute to the last.

Through the cast of "Oliver" through Gorshin through Mitzi McCall and Charley Brill through the novelty acts through Tessie O'Shea, you saw a changing of the guard right before your eyes.

And it was all in spectacular black and white.

John and George are gone, Paul and Ringo carry on the legacy, but back then, we were all young, wide eyed, and ready for anything.

That "anything" was the Beatles, and boy they were something, weren't they?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Rant #1,340: The Night That Changed Everything Forever

I told myself that when this date would come, I would speak minimally about it, because the music really spoke louder than any mere words I could put together.

Let me see if I can live up to that goal.

Sunday, Feb. 9, 1964 was an evening that will live in the annals of recorded history as one of the most important, cultural, social and whatever else you might call it nights that changed the world.

Four musicians took the stage of "The Ed Sullivan Show" in New York, played a few songs, put the younger members of the audience in a complete frenzy, and the world was never the same again.

Convention was completely thrown out the window for good.

The Beatles had arrived, and things would never be the same again.

I think it is hard for younger people today--anybody under 50, in this case--to really understand what happened that night.

In the pre-high-tech age, our high tech was television. It was the way the word got out, the way the word was delivered electronically to us.

And that night, it was delivered loud and clear.

Out with the old, in with the new.

A lot of people thought that this was just a trend, and we would go back to the old way of doing things within time.

It never happened.

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr saw to that by writing and playing music that put the bar higher that it had ever been, at least in the 20th century.

They also saw to it that every social norm of the previous generations--or at least most of them--didn't matter anymore.

They created a revolution without raising a weapon.

Having been there, having watched this thing unfold as a six year old, I cannot tell you how much this thing influenced everything from that time on.

Our country had been in a collective depression with the death of JFK still so fresh in our minds.

The Beatles brought hope to us, hope for a better future that JFK had promised.

The interesting thing is that 50 years after the fact, the Beatles remain among the hottest commodities on the planet. Their music is still heard every minute of every day, their images still encrusted on our brains.

What more can I say?

It is hard to believe that 50 years have passed. I went from a mere babe to a teenager to a young man to a married man with kids during this period. It is amazing, isn't it?

And it all started with this funny looking guy introducing four long-haired moptops on his stage.

Simply amazing.

P.S.: To see my Beatles Picture Sleeve 45 collection--including possibly the most important record ever released, as shown above, please visit Facebook at this address:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Rant #1,339: It Never Ends

My personal misery continues.

January has morphed into February, I thought that everything would return to relative normalcy, but I have found that it's the same old, same old, when it comes to the luck that my family and I have had this year.

We haven't had any. None. Nil.

The latest negative escapades are again, relatively minor, but they are nuisances that we could live without.

As you know, my car's front driver's side door hasn't had a working door handle in about a month. One day, I went to open the door, and it broke off in my hand. It is still on the door--I was able to get it back in--but it does not work.

I have been trying to get another one ordered through Kia for weeks now.

The first time, I was going in for an oil change, I put it in my online order, even called the place, and they told me that although they didn't do that type of work on a Saturday, I should bring it in anyway.

They did not hook me up with the service department, so, of course, when I brought it in, they did not have the part, but the service manager told me he would order it. He also told me the exorbitant price it was going to cost to get this thing done--nearly $300 for a part that actually costs $26.

Well, several days passed, I did not hear from Kia, so I called them, and they told me that the part was never ordered. I told them the above story, they apologized, but they did not have the part.

The service department person told me he would order the part for me, and he asked me to call again the following week, which was yesterday, to check back.

I called, and guess what? Even he was amazed that the part was never ordered.

He told me, "I swear I ordered this part," but, of course, he did not.

Well, I tried to be calm and patient, but the crux of the matter is, and still is, where is the part?

He said he would personally order it again for me. I told him that that is what he said the last time.

I said that due to my inconvenience, maybe he could do something for me. I was thinking of price, maybe lessening the price a bit.

He said to me, "I will have the part painted, so when you come in, you don't have to wait for that."

Whoopee do.

He also asked me the question of the day. He said to me, "How are you getting into the car?"

Well, I could have told him that I took a saw and made my own sunroof to drop myself into the car, but I told him that I have been entering the car either though the front passenger door or through the back.


He has told me to call back to see if the part is in. It won't be, I am sure of it.

Yes, I think it is time to call Kia directly, and I mean their main office. I will have to look the number up.

(I did just that, called them after writing this Rant. I told them the whole story, and let them know that I wanted to be "accommodated," if you know what I mean. I hope that they got that, too. Let's see what happens.)

Anyway, I got up today at my normal 4:30 a.m. time, went into the shower, and found that we have no hot water.

I guess that is just throwing cold water on this whole thing, but I am really wondering what is going to happen next.

It is all nonsense, but these nuisance types of things really tear at you.

It's like whatever can go wrong has gone wrong--what can happen next?

Maybe if I can enter my car like a normal person can I can tell you.

The way it is going, when that will actually happen is anyone's guess.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Rant #1,338: More, More, More

I looked out the window today, and yes, we got another bushel of snow overnight.

I watched the news on TV, and traveling is treacherous right now.

I was told at work yesterday that one of the higher ups said that she was "sick and tired" of paying people who were staying home and not coming to work due to the storms we have had.

Well, let me cry over her proclamation.

I would rather be home with my family than take a chance on the roads as they are.

But to work I will go later today, when I can do it, and not before.

Anyway, I think the refrain of a popular song during the disco era pretty much reflects what we are going through in my neck of the woods this winter.

"More, more, more

How do you like it, how do you like it ... "

Remember the song? It was "More, More, More," one of the most remembered--and most notorious--songs of the disco era, by the Andrea True Connection.

Even if you hated disco like I did, you had to have heard or known of this song, if for nothing else than its connotation to the era that it came from.

True was born in Nashville as Andrea Marie Truden, and actually was a singer who had done a couple of commercials once she moved to New York.

But it is what she did to support herself during rough times that made this tune so notorious.

She had somehow glided into XXX-rated films, and was in a movie where this music was used during sex scenes. True had written the song.

The music had such a good beat that the Andrea True Connection recorded it on the Buddah Records label--yes, the same label that spawned the 1910 Fruitgum Co. and the Ohio Express--and the song went to No. 4 in 1976, the year of the country's Bicentennial.

The song was all over the radio, and True's fortunes changed from porn star to hitmaker.

The Andrea True Connection had several followups, including "N.Y., You Got Me Dancing," which reached No. 27 in 1977, but when disco waned, so did this act, and by 1978 or so, they were done.

She tried several musical comebacks, but could not return to her former popularity, although she did make lots of money off the royalties of that song, which was featured in numerous films, TV shows, and even commercials.

She lost the ability to sing due to illness, and died in 2011 at her home in Woodstock, New York.

But that song has "True-ly" outlived her, and you still hear it all the time.

When I look out my window, for whatever reason, that was the only thing I could think of.

But like the disco era, this onslaught we have been getting from Mother Nature will someday end, too.

When is the question, and I hope that it is really soon.

But for now, it really is ...

"More, more, more

How do you like it, how do you like it ... "

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Rant #1,337: "The Pain ... the Pain!"

Remember the TV show "Lost in Space?" Wasn't that something Dr. Smith used to say to the robot?

Well, I am saying that to you now.

I thought that the end of January would be the end of my and my family's personal pain, but February has started off where January left off.

My wife worked this entire weekend--which is a pain in itself--so I figured I would be in for an extremely dull weekend, a do-nothing weekend after a real rough week.

Well, that did not happen.

After doing the food shopping in the morning, I was putting away the groceries and my son came into me and said that he had no Internet.

This has happened before, so I figured I would finish putting away the groceries and take a look at the matter.

I did, he did, in fact, have no Internet, and then I checked the very computer that I am typing this Rant on, our lone desktop computer.

Well, it did not have Internet either.

I called our provider, and as I was attempting to call, I noticed that we did not have a dial tone on the phone.

Since we have a "triple play" with our provider, I checked the TV, and lo and behold, we had no TV either.

I used my cell phone, called the provider, and for the first time, I got someone on the other line that I suspect was from India.

I have no problems with those from India, but he had such a heavy accent that I wished my provider wouldn't contract out such services (that is another story for another time).

He had me do a couple of things to try to restore what we had, but to no avail.

And yes, a few times, I had to stop him and tell him that I could not understand him because of his accent.

Anyway, he said that they would have to send a repairman over on Monday. I told him that that was not good enough, I wanted someone sent over today, which was Saturday. I hemmed and hawed, told him that it was Super Bowl weekend and that I wanted to watch the game (hah!), and yes, they did schedule someone to come over.

A few hours later, the technician came to the house, checked a couple of things, and put in a new battery, which he said was the culprit.

Everything worked fine, until the end of the Knicks game that I watched that evening. They lost, and as the game was winding down against the Miami Heat, we lost, too, this time everything again.

I immediately called our provider, and they said that since it was so late at night--after 11 p.m.--they could not guarantee that they could get someone over on Sunday.

I used the old Super Bowl ruse again, but it did not work this time.

They told me to call back on Sunday, and they would see what they could do.

I did just that, used the Super Bowl ruse again, and a technician was scheduled to come to my house to look at the problem on Sunday.

And he did just that.

He said that not only did the battery have to be replaced, but our entire box had to be replaced, the one that the battery sits inside of. He replaced it, bid us farewell, and since then, we have been fine with everything.

Why the first technician did not see this is anyone's guess.

So it was a completely wasted weekend.

My wife came home from work on Sunday, we watched a movie--sorry about the Super Bowl ruse--and we went to sleep.

We woke up the next day, and we had our latest blizzard outside.

The problem was that as I said last week, I had to take the day off to attend to some business yesterday, and we had to go out east to mid-Suffolk County to do so, a good 40 mile trip.

We took my wife's Jeep and somehow made it through without incident. Everything was taken care of, and when we returned, we waited awhile, and then shoveled up everything.

Now the reports are that our latest blizzard is supposed to come tomorrow, followed by another one on the weekend.

Thank goodness February is a short month, but it has not started out very well.

I still don't have a handle to my car door, and who knows when the car place will have that and when they will be able to fix my car. They gave me no assurances on that one, either.

What will happen next? I simply don't know, but I am asking the heavens, please, I have suffered enough, how about some smooth sailing for at least a little while?

I know that is a lot to ask, but really, I have had enough.

Back to work today, back to school for my son, let's start everything over like the other stuff never happened.

It might be a dream, but it is a dream that I can really get into now.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Rant #1,336: Bust ... err ... Best of Ranting and Raving

Here is a Rant from 2010, Rant #331, September 13, 2010. 
And don't forget the update at the end!

"... Sheyla Hershey lives!

Who the heck is Sheyla Hershey?

She was trying to achieve fame for having the largest breasts in the world through implants. Her quest ended last week, when she underwent surgery to have her M cup implants removed due to sickness caused by the implants.

She wanted to become so huge that she actually traveled overseas to Brazil to have the surgery done. Implants as large as hers are illegal in the U.S. In fact, to achieve this size, she actually had two implants in each breast!

So Hershey--supposedly an actress of some renown on Spanish TV-- traveled back to her country of birth to have the operation, but after it was performed, Hershey became seriously ill and has since been closely monitored by a cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Ron Bucek, and an infectious disease expert, Dr. Shazia Gill, in Texas.

Before the most recent surgery to remove the implants, Bucek performed two other operations to help drain the infected areas, and a special vacuum had been suctioning the infection from Hershey’s body 24 hours a day for months.

She was quoted as saying, "I decided to go smaller--a lot smaller. I just want a normal size like a normal housewife has. I know it's going to be a lot of pain on me because I love to have them, but I realize that my family comes first and I love my daughter and son and they come first. Even though I love to have huge breasts ... I'm going to try to live without it. Hopefully I will be done then and be happy and just running around with my kids!"

How wonderful, how gallant, how brave this woman is!

There are photos of her on the Internet. She is not an ugly woman by any stretch of the imagination. I am sure she had a nice figure before disfiguring herself.

But why do this, and do this to such astronomical proportions?

Look at the photos. The woman looked like a freak of nature.

Why did she feel she had to do this? To please someone else, to please herself?

I just don't get it. I don't understand why women do this to themselves.

And speaking as a male of the species, there is nothing more beautiful than natural breasts--no matter what the size. And nothing phonier than fake ones.

So why do women do this to themselves?

I have no idea. But if this woman isn't one of the most absolutely stupid people I have ever heard about, I don't know who is.

She risked her life to have enormous breasts that look phonier than a $3 bill. And she risked the well-being of her kids, who by all accounts, are fatherless, or at least don't have a father in their lives--and nearly didn't have a mother, either.

All for huge breasts!

This woman is mentally ill. I don't know what she spent on these implants, but first, shame on the doctors who performed these surgeries, and second, I hope she has money left over to spend for psychiatric counseling.

She definitely needs it."

According to Wikipedia: "On February 16, 2011, it was reported that Hershey was in a coma after taking a lethal dose of prescription pills the day before, in reportedly her second alleged suicide attempt in a two-month period, just days before a scheduled breast surgery to re-enhance her bustline back to size 38KKK. After Hershey recovered from the coma, in an interview with British tabloid newspaper The Sun, Hershey is stated as having said that she was allegedly distraught over feeling "so ugly" without her world record implants, but was still considering having a breast re-enhancement surgery done on her by plastic surgeons in Mexico. On February 20, 2011, it was reported by Hershey on her official website that not only were the reports and rumors false, but that she also had a bad reaction to the medication that she had been taking, and that she was fine at home recuperating from treatment for the reaction to the medication.

"In September 2011, Hershey had another breast surgery to reconstruct her breasts, also adding 2500 cc of saline implants, gradually filling them to 4300 cc by November 2011, and increased again with additional injections to 5500 cc in 2012, for a goal size she described as 38MMM. In addition, early 2012 rumors have it that she still wanted to increase her breast size to an even larger size."


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