Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rant #1,299: Speechless

I have laryngitis, or swollen vocal chords.

I have no idea how I got it, but I got it.

My voice is as raspy as it can be, and I can barely get the words out of my mouth.

I don't know what brought it on, but when I woke up on Sunday morning--the night after I had my long reunion with my buddy from the old neighborhood--I felt fine, but after about an hour, I noticed that I couldn't speak correctly, was very raspy, and was better off resting my voice rather than using it.

I woke up yesterday, and I had it full blown.

In the morning, it was really bad, but it seemed to settle down as the day went on, and it got better, but still was pretty bad.

Honestly, I haven't tested my swollen vocal chords much today, because there is nobody up at this ungodly hour to talk to.

My son is a little under the weather, too, not having a fever, but not being himself, either.

He wasn't keeping down food through yesterday morning, but seemed to be better as the day went on.

We will both be OK, but I wonder if he caught something from me, or I caught something from him?

About the only good thing about laryngitis is that although you can't talk, you can write, so that is why I am able to do this column today.

I guess I do not have fingeritis or handitis. I made up those terms, but whatever the case, I can write and type and do anything on the keyboard, even with laryngitis.

Honestly, I don't remember the last time I had this, and it must have been eons.

No matter how much I talked, yelled and/or screamed, I never got this, or at least, I haven't had it in a long, long time.

To cure this ailment, I am trying not to talk much, but at work, it is nearly impossible to not talk.

And every time I am on the phone, I have to apologize for the sound of my voice.

In closing, in hopes I don't get fingeritis or handitis, let me end this short Rant by saying that the pen--or in this case, the keyboard--is truly mightier than the sword, because even though I can't talk, I can write to my heart's content.

Speak to you--using my keyboard--tomorrow.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Rant #1,298: Old Friends

I am 57 years old, born in 1957, and some days I feel like I was 25 again, other days I feel all of my 57 years, and then some.

But on Saturday night, I felt like I was not 25 again, but 10 years old.

My wife and I met up with an old, old friend, from my Rochdale Village days, and his lovely wife, and well, three hours sped by like five minutes as we talked about our past, our present, and our future.

And my parents were part of the conversation for at least a half hour--they go to bed early at this point in their lives--and it made it all the more momentous of an occasion for both myself and my friend, and yes, the wives too.

My friend David is a very successful allergy doctor in South Carolina now, but way back when, the only allergies that he knew were the ones that I had and our friend Howie had.

We were typical New York City kids in the 1960s and early 1970s, very brash, very able to take care of ourselves, but also very naive on certain areas of life.

All we really cared about was if we had enough kids to play punchball, or stickball, and really, very little else mattered.

So, at this pretty impromptu meeting at my house, we kind of caught up with everything that has been going on for the past nearly 40 years, and where we are headed in the future.

It hasn't always been smooth for David and I in our lives, but right now, we are both pretty much where we want to be after those bumps in the road.

Last year, during that large reunion that I helped organize, I saw David, and we spoke here and there, but it was very hard to really speak to him one on one with so many people there.

Here, we just sat and talked about everything under the sun, and it was fun, fun and more fun.

There is something about childhood friends talking as adults that is very alluring, and well, this was quite that.

And what's more, the wives melded pretty well too, which I thought was fantastic.

I had never met his wife, and she is really a lovely person, and I am so happy that David has found happiness with her.

The pictures I have put up here are poor, but even if they were good, they don't really show how much fun we all had on Saturday night.

We have subsequently asked them to cruise with us in the future, and they have invited us to South Carolina, so the lines of communication are wide open.

I wish we lived closer to each other, but so be it. I guess that the miles, and the years, haven't dampened our spirits one bit, and I can say that without a doubt, David and I will always be friends. We are connected at the hip, and the connection remains strong.

It's really great to have childhood friends, and our 50-year bond remains strong.

How about getting together a game of punchball ... we need about four more players ... I am sure we can find them, even after all these years.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Rant #1,297: Rising Sons

I mean, what can you say about yesterday?


And I am not just talking about last night in the Bronx, when the baseball gods were in full force.

On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the High Holy Days in the Jewish religion, this Jewish boy did what he needed to do, and his own boy did what he needed to do.

Then, in the evening, in the proverbial cherry on top of the cake, another boy, another son, did what he had to do--in front of 50,000 people who were standing at the edge of their seats all night.

As that little kid in the Little Rascals said eons ago, "Re-mark-a bowl!"

In the morning, I was finally able to secure SSI for my son, which means that he will get Medicaid.

It was a long process, but this guy who knew absolutely nothing about this subject (me) learned about it from scratch over the past few months, did his homework, did whatever he needed to do, and yesterday, my son was formally approved.

We don't have the official letter yet, but that is a mere formality.

My son can now get the needed programs to help him proceed with his life, including programs related to job training, which was the goal in the first place.

I was just so happy yesterday. It was like a very heavy monkey was removed from my back.

And just coincidentally, my son applied for another job yesterday, too, so we really had a full circle of a day yesterday.

We got home in early afternoon, and I have to tell you, I put on the Mets-Nationals game, and passed out on the bed.

It was just so much my body could take.

I woke up, finished watching that game, and prepared for what turned out to be an instant Yankees Classic (the YES Network does have a Yankees Classic show, and this game will fit right in)--Derek Jeter's final home game in the pinstripes, and what we now know will be his final game at shortstop.

To make a long story even longer, the weatherman predicted a horrible day yesterday, rain on top of more rain, and it was supposed to rain during the game too, supposedly making the prospects to even play the game quite soggy.

But the baseball gods prevailed, and the rain pretty much ended by game time at 7 p.m.

The game started poorly for the Yankees, very, very poorly.

The first two batters for the Baltimore Orioles hit home runs off Hiroki Kuroda, and the Yankees were quickly down 2-0.

He settled down the rest of the game, but Yankees hitters, who have been pretty horrible this season, came to the rescue, right in the bottom of the first inning.

The Yankees tied the game at 2, and the centerpiece was Jeter, who just missed a home run, settled for a long double, knocking in a run, went to third base on a wild pitch, and later scored to tie the game.

With people roaring his name all night, he later made an inconsequential error--I can only liken this to a game I was actually at in 1967, when Mickey Mantle hit his 500th home run on Mother's Day, and proceeded to make, I think, two errors at first base as the crowd chanted his name for several innings after hitting the historic blast--and the Yankees eventually scored three more runs, taking a 5-2 lead into the top of the ninth.

David Robertson, Mariano Rivera's successor as the Yankees' closer, was on the mound in the ninth inning, but with people chanting Jeter's name, he was horrid, allowing two home runs himself, and the game was tied at 5 going into the bottom of the ninth.

What this merely set the stage for was another Derek Jeter moment.

With a runner on second, Jeter--in his final at bat in Yankee Stadium--hit a single to right field and the winning run scored for a walk-off 6-5 victory.

In just a few minutes, the crowd was deflated and then inflated again--and Jeter made the moment real.

Watching this game at home, and recording it from beginning to finish, it will be a game I will always remember.

It is really what sets baseball apart from the other sports, from the depths of despair one moment to the height of ecstasy in the next moment, all encased in a daily grind of 162 games in roughly 180 days.

And tonight, the Jeter caravan will move over to Boston, where he will play out the final games of his career not at shortstop, but as designated hitter.

And then, his career as a baseball player will be over, and his new career--doing pretty much whatever he pleases, and he has said part of that will be marrying and starting a family--will begin.

Yes, yesterday was a finish and a start for Jeter and for my son. I link the two up because both "sons" come from loving parents who believe in their sons greatly.

As any baseball fan know, Jeter's parents and family have been with him every step of the way in his career, often seen at games both at Yankee Stadium and on the road, and my son has myself and his mom backing him in whatever he has done since the moment he was born.

Jeter has done it all, and my son, on a different level, will do it all too.

Other than myself and my wife and a few other family members, nobody will stand up and cheer for my son, but once he fulfills his goals, I am sure he will feel the same way Derek Jeter felt yesterday.

Just another day at the office ... .

Have a great weekend, and I will speak to you again on Monday.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rant #1,296: The Jewish New Year

Today's entry is not about sports at all.

It is about the beginning of the Jewish New Year, which begins tonight at sundown with Rosh Hashanah.

Roughly translated, Rosh Hashanah means "head of the year."

The Jewish New Year asks Jews all over the world to look back at the previous year, see what has happened, and try to improve upon those circumstances.

As a kid, I was told that God looks through his book of people at this time, and decides who will stay and who will go.

It is almost like a deified reality show; those who earn another shot stay on for another year, those whose time has come ... well, they won't be here to celebrate another New Year.

Everything leads up to Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, which comes next weekend. We fast on that day, to show God that we mean what we say.

I look back at the past year, and God has already given my family and I a reprieve for whatever bad things we did during the past year.

He allowed us to survive a horrendous car accident with just a few scratches.

We certainly could have done much worse when that happened, but God was watching over us that day.

There have been plenty of other bumps in the road this year for myself and my family, but we have survived.

I hope that God looks at us, and puts a check mark next to our name, meaning that we live on until next year.

Things were mighty grim this year, but we have tried to be good people.

Jews around the world will go to their local synagogues to pray, to "doven," to ask for forgiveness for whatever sins they have committed.

What is interesting this year is that one can actually go online to do this if they so choose to.

What am I doing tomorrow?

I will not be in synagogue.

Once again, I have to go to a meeting related to my son getting Medicaid.

It is, literally, the only time I can do this, with my hand forced by the governmental office where the meeting is being held.

I am hoping that God understands. I have no choice in the matter.

So, in a great way, government is interfering in my handling of the holiday, but what can I do?

I have no say in the matter.

My "dovening" will be done in my local Social Security office.

Wish me luck.

There will be no column tomorrow, but I will be back in full force on Friday.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Rant #1,295: A Baseball Tragedy

Yes, today is another sports story, but not really.

It is really a tragedy.

Last week, a coach of a youth baseball team died on Long Island doing what he loved to do best.

He was pitching batting practice to his son's team.

He was behind the contraption that is used to ward off balls hit directly through to the pitcher's mound.

It is expansive, but it doesn't protect all parts of the pitcher's body.

Anyway, the pitcher threw a pitch to a young batter, the kid hit a line drive through the box, somehow it got past the protection, and hit the pitcher squarely in the head.

He was knocked down, was out, and numerous adults applied CPR and did what they could to revive the father.

He was literally a dead duck. He pretty much died right on the spot.

The baseballs they use in Little League are a bit spongier than those they use in the major leagues, but they still can pack a punch if you get hit with them, as happened here.

And this happened at a very modern baseball facility out in Yaphank, so they had all the devices--and safety measures--in tow to prevent something like this from happening, but it happened anyway.

There really isn't any more than anyone could have done for the man, and I know it is simplistic to say, but when you play sports, accidents do happen.

This is just a very, very tragic one.

And no, his son did not hit the ball.

The kid who did this will have to live with this the rest of his life, and I feel sorry for the kid, sorry for the son, and sorry for the families involved.

When I was a Little League coach, I, too, sometimes pitched batting practice.

You just don't think of protection when you are doing this, you just are thinking about helping your kids out at the plate.

Some have suggested that it be mandatory that batting practice pitchers where helmets with protective guards when doing this, and that is a good idea.

Major league hitters wear helmets while rounding the bases, and there have been several incidents where pitchers have been hit in the head with batted balls, and there is a slight move to have pitchers wear helmets while pitching.

So far, that hasn't happened.

It has to happen in the youth leagues first.

When I was a coach, I had one kid get hit in the head with a line drive.

He was knocked down, but happily, not out. He had a nasty gash, but otherwise, he was OK.

I don't care what sport you play, injuries are part of the game. Some are minor, some are severe.

This one was a tragedy, period.

I guess you could list it as a freak accident, but whatever it was, it is so sad that this guy, doing what he loved, also died because he was doing what he loved.

Police are investigating, but there really isn't much to investigate.

He got hit by a batted ball in the head, and he died.

That is a real shame, and it could have happened to any one of us, including myself.

As a kid, I know I got hit in the mouth with a ball. I don't exactly remember the circumstance, but I did see stars, but then got up and played.

I guess I was lucky, and I guess I was lucky that as a pitcher to my son's team, I didn't get hurt in any way, shape or form.

These things do happen, but it is a real shame, and I do feel for everyone involved.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Rant #1,294: What Might Have Been

Spoiler Alert ...

If you don't like professional sports, some of the columns I am going to be writing the next week or two are going to turn you off.

It is the end of the baseball season, the playoff teams are shaping up to the finish line, and I am a Yankees fan.

'Nuf said.

The Yankees have had an abysmal year this year.

Everybody got old at once. Nobody hit much. The team's minor league system appears to be barren.

However, there have been some bright spots.

As we approach the end of Derek Jeter's career, he seems to be rejuvenated the past couple of games playing at home.

He is playing like it was 1999, and yes, I can hear that old Prince song in my head when I write about this.

Yesterday, he had his fourth straight multi-hit game. He is the first Yankee of age 40 or over to record four straight multi-hit games, and his hits helped the Yankees win three of the last four games.

It probably won't get them into the playoffs, but Jeter is putting on a nice show for the hometown fans.

Yesterday's winner was Masahiro Tanaka, their mult-million-dollar import from Japan.

I was skeptical at all the hype this guy caused when they signed him.

He is treated as royalty in his home country. He actually married a pop star there, which is akin to Grace Kelly marrying royalty in Monaco all those years ago.

But that skepticism was turned on its head by his pitching.

This guy is the real deal.

He has like seven different pitches that he can use, and he throws strikes.

He was 12-4 at roughly the half-way point in the season, and then he went down with an injury that might require surgery somewhere down the road.

But he worked his way back, and it felt like the beginning of the season yesterday.

Tanaka was terrific in his short stint, helping lead the Yankees to victory.

It just gets you to wondering ... if he hadn't been injured, what would have been?

Of course, one can only speculated, but he probably would be at the 20-win level by now, which means the Yankees might have been eight games better in the standings, give or take a game or two or three, because they have had some success with pitchers pitching in his spot.

So let's just say they were four games better if he hadn't been injured.

The last time I looked, they were 4.5 games out of the last wild card spot.

If they had his four wins, they would only be 1/2 game out now.

Well, one can dream.

Between Jeter and Tanaka, it has gotten to the point that you only wish these guys could have been doing what they are doing the entire season.

As it is, the Yankees are probably going home next week, not making the playoffs for the second year in a row.

But at least the presence of Tanaka and a rejuvenated Jeter makes it a little more fun to watch them go down in flames.

I still have hope, but being a realist, I know what the outcome will be.

Wait 'til next year.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Rant #1,293: Fishy Thoughts

One of the things that my doctor told me during my recent examination is to continue to eat fish over beef.

I crave a piece of steak, but I have always liked fish too ... or at least some fish.

I hate salmon, but I do love flounder, tuna fish--yes, the canned variety--and tilapia.

And I like some ethnic fishes, things that are in my Jewish blood, like gefilte fish and smoked white fish.

And it is about white fish that I am going to talk about today.

I have always liked white fish.

Maybe it currently conjurs up in me days of yore, when, as a little kid, my mother would take out the meat from this fish for me, right from the chub, or later, when I would actually have the whole fish in my plate, with the head and eyes still attached, and I did the honors myself, but there is something about white fish--bones and all--that I have always liked.

(And I don't mean the slang expression that uses white fish, "Coney Island Whitefish," which if you don't know what it means, please look it up. That is not what I am talking about here.)

Anyway, way back when, you could get two chubs for like $2, maybe even less, and in areas that I lived in, white fish was plentiful at any appetizing counter in any supermarket.

So literally through my 20s, I occasionally had this delilcacy, which tasted so good but cost so little to enjoy.

Tastes changed, people moved around, and since not as many people were buying white fish, those that carried it pushed the price up, but I still ate it when I could find it.

Now, in my 50s, go look for white fish ... I can't find it anywhere.

I have gone into many supermarkets, both big and small, looking for white fish, but to little or no avail.

I have asked others to look for it for me, and they cannot find it either.

I realize that white fish is really a Jewish thing, much like gefilte fish is.

But it isn't like bagels, a Jewish creation that has become almost as synonomous with American tastes as pizza is.

You can find gefilte fish just about at any supermarket--no, I haven't checked out any bodegas recently--but you can't find white fish.

Then my mother, also a white fish lover, let me know that in the local King Kullen, they are selling white fish salad, and although it is a bit pricey--nearly $7 for a little tub--it might satisfy my cravings.

Try it, you'll like it.

And I did, and yes, while it isn't white fish like I remember it, it is a good enough substitute.

No, the head isn't in there, and it is mixed with some other things, but it is good enough for now.

The last time I bought it, it was reduced 50 cents in price, so I looked at it as a bargain.

It is made by a company named Acme, out of Brooklyn, New York.

No, it is not affiliated with Wiley Coyote and the Road Runner, but they seem to make a good product.

But I am still looking for that elusive white fish, a chub that I really could dig into now as a full-fledged adult.

If anyone knows where you can get white fish--with the head intact--please let me know.

What I have is OK, but I really, really want the real thing.

There's nothing like the real thing, baby, there's nothing like the real thing ...

Speak to you again on Monday.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Rant #1,292: To My Credit

Even though I am not the richest person in the world financially, I have managed to pay off two cars during the past two years.

If not for my accident, I would have been done paying off cars by this point.

Now, I have one outstanding car bill, and it is something I could have lived without.

But anyway, back to the cars I paid off ...

One was my former car, the one that got trashed in the accident in May.

The other is my daughter's car, which the both of us paid off together ... well, I paid for probably 75 percent of it.

Because of my wonderful history of paying off cars on time, and probably also due to the fact that I owe X amount of dollars on my new car, I have been inundated by the credit card companies with offers for their respective credit cards.

And when I get these things, they go right in the garbage.

I do not want any credit cards at this point or in the long term.

I have had them, they are enticing as all heck, they allow you to do things you couldn't do without them, but you know what, been there, done that.

I have had credit cards, but they are all gone now, and I do not want any more.

But the companies see my sterling history with cars, and they want me .... desire me ... crave me.

Well, they aren't going to get me this time around, or for that matter, ever.

But they inundate me with requests to sign up, each and every day ... no exaggeration.

One company, in particular, has probably sent me well over 200 requests during the past year, seemingly one every other day or so since I paid off my own car last year.

This has continued unabated now that I have paid off my daughter's car.

It really is ridiculous. Are the credit card companies that desperate to get me on their rolls?

Yes, they apparently are.

I have had some financial problems in the past, but everything is pretty much hunky dory now.

Yes, I have a large car bill each month, have some other bills that really rile the heck out of me, and the last thing I need is a credit card bill.

If I need to pay with a card, I use my debit card, using funds that I have accumulated to pay for things.

I do not use credit anymore, because it took me some time to learn that even though the world wants you to have a credit rating, and thus, accumulate money that you owe lenders, I don't want to owe anyone.

It is really a vicious cycle, but that is how the world is.

But I have tried to make my own personal world different, have done things to make it so, and I am satisfied, at the very least, where I am now.

So the companies can continue to send me these requests, and I can continue to feed my garbage pail with them.

I have earned the right to do that, and that is just what I am going to continue to do with the applications for credit I will undoubtedly get in the mail today.

Sayonara, credit, I don't need you anymore.

And that, I guess, is to my own credit.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Rant #1,291: To Good Health

You know what they say: You have good health, you have everything.

Well, in lieu of the fact that I really don't have everything, I guess I do have good health.

Yesterday evening after work, I went back to my doctor to find out the results of my blood test that I had a week earlier, and to get a full checkup, and lo and behold, I came out smelling like roses.

Everything that the blood can be used to check out checked out fine, and that includes thyroid, prostate, liver, and several other areas.

My blood pressure is also quite good.

My cholesterol count is so way down that for the first time in years--and I do mean years, probably maybe like 15 or 20 years--I do not have to take my cholesterol pill each day.

I have been taking Vytorin forever, it seems, and at least for the next three months, I don't have to take it anymore.

This is a true revelation, as taking this pill has been part of my very being for oh so long.

Now, at least for the next three months, I can live without it. This way, the doctor can see if I truly need it.

How much will my cholesterol jump without the use of this pill? That is what we are going to try to find out.

Yes, I am a bit overweight, but otherwise, for a 57 year old male, I am in pretty good shape.

I will admit that a lot of it is pure luck, maybe even good genes.

I don't watch myself that much when eating, and I have been known to go to town every once in a while.

I don't exercise much either, even if you count in the work I do putting away the dishes (see yesterdays' Rant for more information).

What has helped me is that I really don't eat that much, and what I do eat is regulated by my wife, who makes sure that we all--including my son--eat a little healthier.

I rarely, if ever, eat white bread anymore, preferring rye over white anytime anyway.

When we have pasta, it is wheat pasta, not white pasta.

I rarely have steak--I have to admit I crave it now--and I haven't had a real piece of steak for several months.

And I do eat fish at least once or twice a week, including during lunch.

So I do have to thank my wife for everything she does to make me healthy.

She watches herself like a hawk, and with me--and for that matter, our son--she watches us like, well, doves.

With everything my family has been through this year, it is really good to know that I have withstood everything, and I am healthy, if not wealthy, and yes, I do feel wise.

You can't really have it all, but I feel that I do, and that is the first step on the road to good health.

So I thank my wife and my family, as well as my doctor, for the good vibes I got at my checkup yesterday.

I hope that everyone out there can feel as good as I do today, in mind and in body and in soul.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rant #1,290: Dishes ... Wishes

Regular readers of this column know all too well that I hate to put on a tie each morning before I go to work.

To sum that up, it is like putting a noose around my neck, and I find it unnecessary as I go about my workday.

There is something else that I hate to do, but I do it just about every morning, and that is putting away the dishes from the dishwasher.

But unlike the tie thing, this is something that has to be done.

We have three people in my house: myself, my wife and my son.

We eat three meals a day here--of course, during the week it is two meals a day, less lunch--and the dishes can pile up, so we do a dishwash just about every day, or seven per week.

We use plates, bowls, forks, knives ... you name it, and they have to be washed and cleaned.

We have had a few dishwashers over the past several years, and we just got a new one a few months ago.

It doesn't do the greatest job, but it does a good job with a lighter load in it, like today, where everything pretty much came out spic and span.

But all of those things had to be put away in the cupboard, and since I am the first one up and about, at between 4:15 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. each and every morning, it is my job to put away the dishes.

It is a moribund task, but it has to be done. Everything that comes out of that dishwasher has its place, and it has to be put back where it came from.

So each and every morning--or at least five days a week, much like this column--I put away the dishes.

On the weekend, my wife and I usually handle this task equally, but during the week, I am the go-to guy.

I remember that years ago, futurists predicted that dishes would wash in their own places and that nothing would have to be put away like this, but they were very, very wrong.

At least we have a dishwasher to get the cleaning job done.

I have washed dishes in the sink, and, well, been there, done that, and I don't want to have to go back to that.

So if you are up at the same hours that I am, please think of me, putting away those dishes like a machine programmed to do that job.

It is a bore, I don't like doing it, but it is one of the ways I contribute to the upkeep of our house, so I do it, and do it methodically.

You can't always be creative, and I guess that the least creative thing I do each day is to put away the dishes.

That's part of my job, you know.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Rant #1,289: Cyber Bullying Continues

Just when you thought it was safe to go into the cyber water ...

Cyber bullying is alive and well on the Internet, and Facebook is where it's at.

And unfortunately, Facebook offers no medium to rid oneself of this type of behavior.

I have been the victim of cyber bullying a few times on Facebook over the years. Funny, I hesitated joining up to the social media service for a relatively long time because I felt that this was a place where people aren't immune from this type of behavior--my daughter went through something when she was a young teenager that I won't go into here--but after a while, I felt it was the place to be, so I joined.

And as I predicted, I saw cyber bullying of others, and later myself, which firmed up my belief.

Heck, some young kids have committed suicide after being taken over the coals by others.

Me, as an adult, I basically just shrug my shoulders, wondering what all the fuss is about.

The latest incident I was in happened just over the past few days.

Someone I am linked to through my network of my old neighborhood put up a photo of former MLB pitcher Dwight Gooden, who, as you probably know, was one of the rising stars in sports about 30 years ago, but gave it all up for a life of drugs and degradation.

Anyway, they saw him wherever they were at, took his picture, and lauded him as "such a nice guy," and then several people followed with some more flowery praise for this guy.

I posted on the thread, saying in the light of all that is going on in the NFL with players abusing their spouses and their families, Gooden is one not to praise, but almost to pity, because this "nice guy" has a rap sheet longer then your arm.

He has been in jail a few times, he has abused drugs, he has neglected his family, he has threatened his spouse/girlfriend (I forget which one, maybe both); and he owes thousands of dollars in child support ... and almost more importantly, has never shown much remorse for his action, not yet coming to grips with the fact that he has deep-seated problems.

This is a nice guy?

And with the NFL players' problems becoming not just top sports news, but page one news, this is not someone anybody should be lauding as much as they were here.

Well, this set off a firestorm of response from people to me, and it wasn't pretty.

People knocked me with reckless abandon. The person who put up the post--who I never, ever had any problems with, and whose husband I was friendly with in the old days--called me some names and said I should take my negativity elsewhere.

Another guy actually threatened me to fisticuffs, which led to him posting such negative, anti-Semitic comments to me on Facebook messages that I blocked him after unsuccessfully trying to report his tirades to Facebook. Any yes, he is, himself, Jewish.

And what's more, other people "liked" what people said about me. The original poster deleted my comments, but, of course, left on the comments knocking me and my character for all to see.

Look, I am a big boy and I can take all this nonsense, where perhaps a younger person would take this stuff differently--and more personally--then I do.

But the vociferousness of some people toward me is astounding.

I mean, these people are in their 50s as I am, and they act, in unison, as if they are about nine or 10 years of age, with a vicious streak the length of the Great Wall of China. Any word against them is taken as a word against humanity, and they strike back with a viciousness that really, I am perhaps naively astounded by, even though it has happened to me before and happens to others on a regular basis.

I tried to make amends with the original poster, but she is so poisoned by others that she looks at me like some sort of pariah.

And the ganging up is really something, cyber bullying at its very, very worst--and most obvious.

What more can I say?

This stuff still exists, so be very, very aware of it when you post something on Facebook.

Like I just said, I am a big boy, I can take it, but the lengths that people will go to cyber assault others really is incredible, unnecessary, anti-social and completely anti-human, to coin a phrase.

Let's all move on from this, and not take things so personally in the future.

I know I will.

And in parting, I have to say that we all must move on from this type of nonsense, because Facebook refuses to put in any safeguards to prevent it.

They should be ashamed of themselves, and held accountable for these type of actions, the actions of their members, people that they allow to post such nonsense with reckless abandon.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Rant #1,288: Selected Rantings and Ravings

Sometimes you simply do not have enough stuff to fill up a whole column, so you simply gather up everything and put it into one basket.

That is what I am doing today, so here goes:

Pistorious Trial: Why anyone really cares about this thing is beyond me, but whenever I go on the Internet, and I go into Yahoo, an alert about this trial is at the top of my page, in color, as if I am biting my nails over this one.

He thought his girlfriend was an intruder, he shot her, and now, he has to pay the consequences.

And this is in South Africa yet? We have enough nonsense at home, we are supposed to worry about this?

Richard Keil Dies: Another tragic death of someone I really liked as an actor, this hulking fellow was in everything from an episode of "The Monkees" to the James Bond movie where he played the memorable character "Jaws."

He actually used his huge frame to his advantage, usually playing Frankenstein monster or simply monster types.

He will be missed.

Yankees' Season Goes Down Drain: I am a big Yankees fan, but I have to admit, this season has been extremely difficult to watch.

After a promising off season, where they brought in several new, high profile players, they are worse off than they were a year ago.

Yet, attendance is up. I guess people enjoy spending $100 a seat to see mediocrity.

Like the old Brooklyn Dodgers used to say every year, "Wait 'til next year," and the ongoing Derek Jeter going away party hasn't soothed my wounds this year.

The Yankees are as bad as the Mets are, and that is really saying something.

Denise Milani Double Take: One of the people I converse with on Facebook is obsessed with model Denise Milani, and he has put up dozens of photos of her for myself and others to gaze at.

The only thing that I can say is that if you were looking for a brunette Barbie, she is it.

I cannot believe that a lot of what she has wasn't man made, but whatever the case, she is quite fetching.

I am not obsessed with her, but I have to admit I am intrigued by her, because I think there is more plastic in her than in all the Khardashians put together.

I will let you be the judge.

Working Six Days a Week: Yes, that is what I am doing now, and I can't say that I am happy with this arrangement.

Every year, my company puts out an issue that takes extra effort, so the thought is that we have to come in an extra day to get it done.

"Hogwash!" I say to that.

It can be done in five days a week, not six, and working the six is killing me.

It fouls up my Saturdays--supposedly a day of rest for me--and ends up screwing up my mind and body.

Woe is me--I have to do it again tomorrow.

The world is not fair.

Speak to you again on Monday.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Rant #1,287: What More Can One Say?

Today, the unlucky 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, I ask you, what more can one say that hasn't already been said?

The world changed that day, and it hasn't been the same since.

Not only have actual wars escalated, but cyber wars also seemingly started that day too.

And sometimes, the cyber wars are every bit as costly as the ground wars.

Remember in school, we were all taught the phrase, "The pen is mightier than the sword"?

Well today, the Internet might be mightier than the sword.

Social media escalates actual combat, and often sets it in motion.

But back to 9/11 ...

The only thing that I can think about are my kids.

My daughter is 26, and since this is the 13th anniversary of those horrid attacks, she has lived exactly half her life since the world changed.

My son is 19, and he was only six when this happened, so he knows no other way of living.

But on the positive side, we have done just what we should have done since those heinous attacks.

We have moved on.

Not forgotten, just moved on.

We have rebuilt, we have revitalized ourselves.

We are what we are.

So in a sense, we have defeated the enemy, which sought to change the way we live.

But the enemies that we have, and their yearning for change to their way of living--if that is what you want to call it--persists.

We have ISIS,. we have Hamas, we have cells within our own country that do not believe in the American way.

We are ultra-security conscious about everything.

We kind of do look over our shoulders just to make sure everything is OK.

But again, I think of my kids, and the world that they are growing up in, and yes, it is scary.

But they will survive, we will all survive, and we will prosper.

And our enemies will be defeated, if not today then tomorrow or within due time.

And we will continue to live our lives, by and large, the way that we want to live our lives.

Because of that, we have not been defeated.

We have won.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Rant #1,286: Free For the Taking

The word "free" means, basically, without any cost.

It isn't used too much in today's world, because in 2014, we know that just about everything comes with a cost.

But yesterday, Apple iTunes and the rock band U2 did something that was unprecedented.

They allowed U2's new LP--"Songs of Innocence"-- to be released for free.

That's right, for free, to any iTunes subscriber, which means anybody who subscribes to iTunes, with a couple of simple clicks, can get the album for free.

For nothing, zilch, zero, call it what you want, you don't have to pay for it.

With iTunes' millions of users, this means that album is in a category all by itself: it is the first album to go multi-platinum without a single cent in sales.

How can this be, in this world where everything costs something?

Well, it draws people to iTunes, where after getting the LP for free, the user might try another U2 album, which he will have to pay for, or maybe another album by another artist, which again, the user will have to pay for.

U2 is an aging rock beast. Ultra successful, their last album didn't do very well, and this is a way to get their new music out there without any muss or fuss ... or sales.

I haven't heard anything off the new LP yet. Some people I know have, and they say that it really doesn't jump out at you, musically, like the best of U2 music usually does.

But it is free, so it is good. If you have to pay for this, maybe it isn't that good, but if you can get it for free ... well, it is not only good, it is wonderful.

I don't know if there is a limited time to get this album, or it will free in perpetuity for iTunes subscribers, but right now, it is free, so come and get it.

With millions of illegal downloads being completed as I write this Rant today, here is one free download that is completely legal, ripe for the taking.

And now that it is out, even people who don't subscribe to iTunes will be able to get it, because as you know, once it is on the Internet, it is out there, ready to be taken.

So in all actuality, it is a win/win for iTunes, for U2 and for rock fans, so rather than stare this one down and try to pick it apart, just go and get it.

I mean, it's actually F-R-E-E!

Finally, here's one for the consumer.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Rant #1,285: Solid State

There are reports out of the Middle East that there is a proposal on the table to create a Palestinian state--out of a large chunk of Egypt.

Supposedly, Israel has warmed up to the idea, and the United States backs such a plan.

It wouldn't involve Israel giving up any land, and would put the constant pain in their butts further away from them.

It would give the Palestinians their own homeland, where they could build up their infrastructure, build up their economy, and not be a threat to anybody.

One of the caveats is that they would be disarmed, and as they claim to be, they would live as civilized human beings.

One problem with this proposal is that Hamas, the ruling terrorist organization there, has supposedly rejected the proposal, once again highlighting the fact that they only exist to annihilate Israel.

In the past war that is under a lasting cease fire, it was clear from the outset that this rebel group existed only to destroy the Jewish state, sending out missiles with glee, taking them 100 fold in return, using its own people as human shields, and generally creating turmoil in the region, blindsided by the fact that Israel simply wasn't going to take it--and was going to do what it normally does when it is threatened, attack back.

Now with this proposal on the table, Hamas has something tangible to offer its people, but instead, it rejects it, certainly casting doubt on its vow to create such a homeland for its people.

Nobody really wants the Palestinians. They are not non-Jewish Israelis. They are actually Jordanian, and why has Jordan rejected them, forcing them on Israel?

Israel has provided the Palestinians almost full autonomy. They have their own government, many actually cross the border and work in Israel.

But the Israelis are smart people. Their technological infrastructure--phones, television, communications--are controlled by Israel, and that is why the Jewish state was so successful in intercepting communications during the recent war--they simply tapped into something that they created.

Many Palestinians rue the day Hamas took over, but can't say too much publicly or they will be removed from this earth. But reports are that many of the Palestinians don't like how Hamas is ruling their land and treating their own people.

It is clear that Israel wants peace, but not at the cost of its own people and own land and own lifestyle. They are warming up to the proposal simply because it will bring some sort of peace to the region.

The Egyptians have become master negotiators in the region, and if they suggest something, others in the region at least listen.

Let's hope that this proposal isn't shoved aside as it has been thus far. It is an interesting thing to think about, but if Hamas continues to reject it, then no one can give them any sympathy.

We know why they exist, but by their actions, they just put an exclamation point to it.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Rant #1,284: Never Can Say Goodbye

Yesterday was joyous in New York City, and it was also an unhappy day, too.

Only New York City can have it both ways, and it did yesterday.

It said goodbye to an entertainment icon while it also said goodbye to a sports icon.

Or, I really should say it said its final goodbyes to an entertainment icon, and simply a sports goodbye to its most popular player of the current generation of athletes.

Comedienne Joan Rivers died late last week, and as per Jewish law, the funeral was held almost right after her death.

Celebrities and more "common folk" gathered to celebrate her life, and laugh and cry at the fact that she is with us no more, and in such a tragic way.

It came out during the preparations for the funeral, at Temple Emanuel in Manhattan, that she wanted as glitzy a funeral as possible.

She wanted red carpets, she wanted celebrities, she wanted the whole nine yards, and I believe she got pretty much what she wanted.

She was cremated, which I found a bit odd, but not out of the ordinary.

Jews are supposed to leave this earth as they came here--intact--so cremation really isn't an option.

However, in today's world, more and more Jews are going the cremation route, which is actually against the religion, but it is what they want.

It's like tattoos. Jews aren't supposed to mark up their bodies this way--for religious and other reasons, including the use of numbered tattoos that were forced on Jews during the Holocaust--but more and more Jews are going this route.

What can you say? If Joan Rivers wanted to be cremated, that was her decision.

There were also tons of flowers--another Jewish funeral no-no--the playing of Amazing Grace--at a Jewish funeral?--and some other bizarre things, but as attendee Geraldo Rivera later said, it was the funniest funeral he ever attended.

Now, all that is left is the investigation into the clinic involved in her death, and we should be hearing about that somewhere down the line.

Moving uptown to the Bronx, the Yankees, fans and Major League Baseball all said goodbye to another icon yesterday, just a few weeks before he official goodbye is put into stone.

Derek Jeter Day at Yankee Stadium had plenty of pomp and glamor, too.

The stadium was full to the brim, sports and other celebrities--I noticed Paul Simon in the stands--were in attendance, and the Yankees really know how to do this better than anyone.

He was foisted with many gifts--no, his number was not retired just yet, that will probably come in another ceremony in the near future--he was able to share the whole thing with his family, and the Yankees made a healthy contribution to his charitable organization.

He even made a speech, and as usual, said just the right thing, ended by, "We have a game to play today," which the Yankees promptly lost.

So yes, I can use Joan Rivers and Derek Jeter in the same sentence.

Two icons, two very different goodbyes, but goodbyes nonetheless.

As only New York can do them.

But with television, YouTube and the like, is it really "goodbyes" in the traditional sense?

No, not really.

Joan Rivers and Derek Jeter's artistry will live on for generations to come, because their work will be highly obtainable through many, many outlets.

Your grandkids, if they are interested, will be able to find out why Jeter and Rivers were so special, and that makes these goodbyes almost in name only, to a certain extent.

But yes, we do bid adieu to two of the most captivating people of this or any other generation, certainly of the past 50 years or so.

So to Derek Jeter and Joan Rivers, I wish both of you the best, one in her final resting place, the other in any other endeavors he hopes to pursue.

You both gave us the best, so you deserve the best too.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Rant #1,283: Many Rivers To Cross

Yes, I am sad today. Sad about how Joan Rivers left this earth.

Although she brought smiles to millions, what happened to her isn't very funny.

She had some type of procedure in a doctor's office related to her vocal chords, she went into cardiac arrest, and certainly, precious time was lost because the office had no means to resuscitate her as a hospital would.

And for the past week, she has been in a vegetative state, and yes, it is a real mitzvah, or blessing, that she is gone. Her quality of life was minimal at this point, and she went quickly.

I feel for Rivers way more than I feel for what happened to Robin Williams.

No matter how gallant the news media made his suicide out to be, he offed himself, ridding himself of his problems, but simply putting them on other people's heads.

Rivers' demise was way different, and really, the only comparison between the two is that television made them both into superstars.

I remember Rivers on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

She was basically a housewife that told jokes, and she was funny as funny can be.

Along with the likes of Stiller and Meara and Alan King, Sullivan basically made their careers, and Rivers was certainly a special person, very talented, who used the Sullivan show as a springboard for even greater fame.

She had many, many ups and downs. She survived her husband's suicide, a long period where she was on the outs with her daughter Melissa, being virtually blacklisted by Johnny Carson, and changes in the entertainment climate that made her type of family-oriented comedy pretty much obsolete.

So she changed with the times, and she survived all of those turmoils with aplomb.

She was pretty much able to reinvent herself, and although I personally did not like her current persona--as a foul mouthed fashion police diva--she won fans of all generations with that very persona.

She, along with Don Rickles, are really the only inter-generational comedians we have, or had now that she is gone, loved by teens and people of her own age--in their 80s--alike.

There really isn't much more to say about Rivers. The funeral will be on Sunday, it will be a Jewish funeral, and you can bet that Hollywood and her people in her hometown of Larchmont will come together to remember one of the most talented people in show business.

In her statement about her mother's death, Melissa said something to the effect that while her mother expected mourning, she did not want it to be long winded, and she wanted everyone to laugh again.

You can just bet that at the funeral, there will be as many laughs as there will be tears.

Goodbye, Joan Rivers, you will certainly be missed.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Rant #1,282: Brock and Roll

Yes, the world of professional wrestling does literally exist in its own personal universe, and that universe has been shaken up by an unconfirmed announcement that WWE world heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar has a new contract ...

And one of the stipulations of that contract is that the WWE can use him when they want to use him, rather than use him on a part-time basis as before.

This is huge news for the company and for pro wrestling fans everywhere.

Lesnar is one of the most enigmatic characters ever to put on wrestling tights.

He is built like a fireplug from head to toe, and he seems to have been put on this earth for one reason: to wrestle and to cause complete havoc in that business.

A failure as a pro football tryout, Lesnar came to dominate the WWE some years ago, then left for mixed martial arts, where he was also quite successful, but his bread and butter is the WWE, and he returned a while back to state his case once again ... but only on a part time basis.

What this means in that unique WWE universe is that he was booked only on selected telecasts and/or pay-per-views, so he wasn't on every show, virtually being a part-time performer.

Yes, only in the WWE could this situation exist.

However, as a part timer, Lesnar continued to make his mark.

He silenced the Undertaker's impressive win streak at Wrestlemania, and just recently, he pummeled John Cena so mercilessly to take the heavyweight title that reports are that Cena is so banged up and bruised as to make him think of hanging up the tights sometime soon.

Lesnar is painted as almost the devil incarnate in the WWE, and I am sure he is being paid really well to be able to be used at an accelerated rate as he reportedly is now.

In 2014, pro wrestling is as hard to understand as ever.

It remains immensely popular, but it is kind of at a crossroads now.

It doesn't really have one figure that will draw the casual fan to watch it, or pay for it.

The WWE's stock recently took a tumble when potentially lucrative deals fell through, and the WWE Network is an enigma in itself, a great idea that a lot of people are paying for, but not enough right now to make it a success.

The No. 2 pro wrestling outfit, TNA, is teetering on falling off the face of the earth. Although its product is good, its delivery hasn't resonated with viewers, and Spike TV has reportedly dropped it, but with an interesting stipulation: it won't stop showing it until it finds another TV outlet.

So here we have Lesnar, who might be an ogre to some, but he might actually be the savior of professional wrestling if everything reported out there is true.

He is the one wrestling personality who can draw people to the WWE's shows, and now that he is supposedly in the fold, things seem to be looking up for the WWE and pro wrestling in general.

And as his manager, Paul Heyman, often says, the star of the show is ...


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Rant #1,281: The Naked Truth

I almost have to laugh at those stupid, and I mean really stupid, Hollywood actresses who are now crying foul over the fact that nude pictures of them that were taken for supposedly private use have been made public.

Hackers got these photos off a cloud, which is basically a storage device which can be used to store, access and post data from computers, tablets, and phones.

Somehow and for whatever reason, these photos were stored on the cloud--actually, grounded super computers which can hold massive amounts of data--and hackers got wind of them and were able to access them, putting them up for everyone to see.

Among the hackees are Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence and blond bombshell Kate Upton.

But you know, I have to laugh at this aspect of what amounts to a serious breach that goes way beyond these photos.

Look, these are adults. If they want to take nude and/or compromising photos of themselves for their boyfriends or husbands or for themselves, that is fine.

But in the old days, they would whip out their Polaroid camera, take their photos, give them to their loved ones, and they would probably end up in a drawer somewhere, for their eyes only.

Today, with digital photography, taking a picture is just so easy, and the storage of these photos is another concern.

Rather than keep them on their cameras, or on their own personal computers, these photos ended up on a cloud, which is tantamount to putting these photos up on a town bulletin board.

Didn't these ladies realize that once the photos were put up on the Internet--even on a cloud--that they were open to be compromised?

What's on the Internet stays on the Internet, forever, and it becomes public, whether you want it that way or not.

And I just love their "innocent" harangues about this, pleading being the victim here and wondering how the photos got where they were.

Please, don't further show your own vain, ego-driven stupidity by opening up your mouth without dialogue written for you. You have shown how dumb you really are, and yes, a job at McDonald's is waiting for you if you ever need it.

So these photos, which might have been taken rather innocently to please their mates, are now fodder for everyone to see.

And that is something that I can really laugh about, how stupid these people were in doing what they did and storing these photos the way they did.

However, the more serious topic here is not these nude photos--which, of course, is so important in today's world, where celebrities are put on pedestals that are so high that they don't know when to get off of them--but the actual breach that these hackers caused.

Sure, photos like this are evidently stored on clouds, but so is medical data, social security information, personal information and the like.

If hackers can get nude photos off the cloud, then they almost certainly can get, let's say, medical records that your doctor put on the cloud, they can get your social security number that is being stored there, they can get other personal information that companies have stored there.

So it is way more important than nude photos; it is the breach of these clouds to get to more personal information that you don't even know is being stored there.

Sure, the experts says that passwords need to be made more involved and longer to thwart the hackers, but again, once it is on the Internet, it is open for anyone to hack and anyone to get, so that is far from being a solution.

It appears that once again when it has to do with the Internet, we have put the cart before the horse.

We have created a storage device without also creating a way to fully protect it from being compromised, if that even is something that can be actually done.

So watch what you put up on the Internet, even in storage, because if someone really wants it, they will get it.

And to all of us who are subject to having our personal data compromised, well, heaven help us all, because that information is out there for the hackers to get if they want to get it, whether we like it or not.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Rant #1,280: Random Thoughts

I actually had Labor Day off this year.

It was about the fifth or sixth time since 1996 that I had the day off.

It has to do with the publication schedule of the magazine that I write for, and this year, it is later, so I was able to take the day off like most people.

What did I do on Labor Day?

Pretty much nothing, but that was fine.

There is nothing like a day of rest and relaxation.

Heck, I haven't even been in my car for two days!

Anyway, back to work today, but at least I am somewhat refreshed.

One of the things I did yesterday was to go swimming in the backyard pool, something I haven't been able to do much this summer, since it has been such a cool couple of months.

But yesterday, I went in for about an hour, which I guess was pretty good.

I also barbecued, something I haven't done in a while, and the barbecue went well, certainly the best--and last--of the summer.

In between, I watched a lot of TV.

Cozi TV had a "Here's Lucy" marathon, and while that show is no "I Love Lucy," it does have its moments, and I saw a few of them yesterday.

What with a bevvy of guest stars, Lucie and Desi Jr., and the grand dame of comedy herself, it can't be all bad, but years after watching the show when it was originally on, the person who made that show tick is Uncle Harry, played by one of the great TV character actors, Gale Gordon.

He, like Lucy, was agreeable to do anything to get a laugh, and both of them did just that, whether it was running on a conveyor belt, getting hit with all sorts of objects in all sorts of places, or simply making facial gestures that are hilarious.

It is 100 percent clean comedy, and it is still funny after all these years.

Not "I Love Lucy" funny, but funny.

I also watched a good portion of the Mets' game yesterday.

Where Labor Day was a guaranteed baseball day in the past, it isn't anymore, and my Yankees, having a horrible season, had the day off, so I watched some of the Mets game.

It looked like a Little League contest, as the team made six errors and lost 9-6.

Although I didn't have a chance to watch it, I also noticed that MeTV has scheduled "That Girl" for Monday-Friday at 5 a.m. in the morning.

This is a good move, because in New York, "That Girl" reruns often were blacked out due to infomercials. Now we can actually see this groundbreaking show ourselves.

No show epitomized the mid to late 1960s female slant better than this show, a program which certainly paved the way for Mary Tyler Moore's groundbreaking show. Moore has said it herself.

And yes, the Moore show's classic opening was sort of an update of the "That Girl" opening, whether anyone wants to acknowledge that or not.

Anyway, Marlo Thomas plays Ann Marie, a fledgling actress with no money who lives in a cozy pad, wears the latest clothes of the day, and has a perfect boyfriend, Donald Hollinger, played to the hilt by Ted Bessell.

Marie gets in lots of situations, leans on her boyfriend a lot, but has one goal in life, and that is to be a successful actress.

Thomas was absolutely perfect for the role, the shows are funny, well written, and yes, due to some restrictions, jumps over certain situations with late 1960s panache ... but it is done so well you hardly notice.

I always loved this show, and now I can actually record it and watch it!

And, the smart people at MeTV put it right before "Make Room For Daddy," a show I could take or leave, so you basically have a Thomas family hour from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. in the morning.

Anyway, I was beat at the end of yesterday, fell asleep during WWE Monday Night Raw, and proceeded into my bed and slept for the next seven hours.

Now it is off to work I go, and the madness continues.

Hope you had a good Labor Day, and I will speak to you again tomorrow.


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