Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Rant #1,331: Happy Thanksgiving

Today's Rant is going to be short and sweet ...

Have a happy Thanksgiving.

What more is there to say?

The best holiday of the entire year is tomorrow, and while we all have to get through today, can't you just about, almost, smell that bird?

We will be spending the holiday with family, and I, personally, will also spend at least part of my day with some other "things" that are almost part of the family: "March of the Wooden Soldiers," the Raiders' song "The Turkey," and my computer, which I just got back and on which I have a lot of work to do to bring it up to snuff, so to speak.

I won't be shopping, happily.

So have a great holiday, and don't eat too much.

I will speak to you again on Monday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rant #1,330: Shop 'Til You Pop

Well, things are looking up.

Our broken sink will be fixed today, and my computer was fixed, although I have not hooked it up just yet ... I was way too tired to do it when I came home from work yesterday, fell asleep at about 8:45, and so, maybe later today, maybe tomorrow as we go into the Thanksgiving holiday and weekend.

And that leads me to the theme of this Rant, which happens to be shopping on the holiday and on this weekend.

My feeling is the following:

Go ahead, shop until you drop, or more precisely, until you pop.

See if I care.

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a family holiday, a time when we get together with our loved ones and talk, have a nice meal, and take it easy.

It is the best of all holidays, because no gifts are warranted, just your presence at the festive meal.

However, a new wrinkle has been thrown into the mix in recent years: shopping on the holiday.

I, personally, would never do gift buying on the holiday.

But evidently, many people love to shop on the holiday, so many major retailers are staying open on Thanksgiving, or at least on part of the holiday, so those who want to shop can do just that.

Many other people are in an uproar over this--how dare retailers ruin the sanctity of the holiday!

How dare people shop on the holiday?

But let me ask you, have you shopped on the holiday?

Maybe not for a large-screen TV, but I am willing to bet you have spent at least a little money on Thanksgivings past.

I will bet you went out to get some extra cranberry sauce at your local supermarket, or filled up with a tank of gas if you were traveling.

You might have even gone to your local bakery to pick up a nice, freshly made pie for the occasion.

We crab and worry about retailers' workers losing their holiday by working on it, but what about the people who work in the bakeries, the gas stations, the supermarkets? What about their holiday? Isn't that sacred, too?

And what about all the restaurants that are open on the holiday? Their employees have to work, too.

So let's get past this sanctity nonsense,

It is called "supply and demand."

Stores are open because customers demand it.

If there were no customers, big retail stores would not be open.

And further, if you order online--as many closed retailers are suggesting you do--what about those fulfillment workers taking your orders? What about their holiday?

So this belching and moaning about stores being open on Thanksgiving is a load of PC garbage.

Think about that when you run to the supermarket on that holiday Thursday morning because you ran out of stuffing.

Think about that cashier who has given up at least part of his or her day to serve you.

YOU are the reason that cashier is on duty.

Don't blame the retailers, who are open to satisfy your every shopping whim, whether it is for stuffing or for a large-screen TV.

Me, I won't be shopping at all, and don't get me started on Black Friday ...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Rant #1,329: Old Goldies

And I thought Bill Cosby was having a bad few days ...

This was another strange weekend for myself and my family, pretty much on par with many of the weekends we have had this year.

In the middle of everything, our kitchen sink pretty much broke.

The faucet cracked after many years of use, and now, water spouts out of its side through the crack.

Hopefully, we will have a plumber come in and fix it ASAP.

Then, my computer broke down.

It would not boot up when I wanted to use it on Friday night.

I brought it into a repair shop, and hopefully, I will get it back tonight.

Right now, I am typing this on an old Mac, which is also ready to go, and my allergies are killing me, to boot, so you will have to pardon me if i make any mistakes in my typing here.

Anyway, between the faucet, the computer and my allergies, I was really fit to be tied this weekend. All of these "old goldies" just don't perform like they once did, but my family and I did see some old codgers this weekend who really are just about as good as they ever were, only showing some minor wear and tear.

On Saturday night, we saw the "Hot Autumn Nights" tour at Westbury Music Fair--NYCB Theater, or whatever it is called now--and we saw some acts that are oldies, but definitely still goodies.

The Buckinghams and the Grass Roots--with two original members and zero original members, respectively--opened the show, and they did their perfunctory hits.

Pretty good, brought back lots of memories, but they were true opening acts, paving the way for the headliners.

Peter Noone was one of them, and his "still in perpetual motion" act is as engaging as ever.

He makes a real connection with the audience, whether he is singing his massive catalog of hits as Herman of Herman's Hermits or joking with the audience.

Still youthful at 67, and his voice pretty much hasn't changed in 50 years, so when you hear "Mrs, Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter" or "I'm Henry VIII, I Am," they sound as authentic and energetic as ever.

Tommy James followed, and what can you say about James that hasn't been already said?

His act isn't as high energy as Noone's was, letting the music pretty much speak for itself.

He can still perform, still sing, and pushing his book and future film, he can still rock in between.

Incredibly, James' music holds up very well more than 40 years after the fact, and that is why so many modern rockers cover his songs.

"Crimson and Clover" ... heck, even "I Think We're Alone Now" sounds fresh.

So, some oldies do hold up, even after years and years of use.

I just wish that my computer, kitchen sink and body could say the same, but hey, you really can't have it all, can you?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Rant #1,328: Be Cos I Care

OK, so what do you make of this whole Bill Cosby thing?

Just in case you have been out of commission the past few weeks and need a recap, allegations of rape have come up again against the entertainment icon, assaults that supposedly happened years and years ago.

Evidently, some two-bit comedian made some comments about the Cos in his act, the comments went viral, and all of a sudden, more than a dozen women came out of the woodwork, saying that the comedian had sex with them under some very mysterious circumstances.

If it was one woman, you could probably discount these allegations, especially since they supposedly took place years and years ago.

But more than a dozen women have claimed that he attacked them, had non-consensual sex, and some of them have evidently kept quiet until now.

Cosby has been an arbiter of righteousness, especially in the black community, since the mid-1960s. He has stood for everything that is good about being a celebrity. He has made millions, but given millions back to the community. He has chastised those who have abused their power as celebrities.

We have loved his work from seemingly the get-go, from "I Spy" to his own comedy shows, to his standup routines to his comedy albums.

I know I certainly did. I have been a fan of his for decades. His comedy albums sit in a very good place in my record collection. I have enjoyed his TV shows, and yes, he has made me laugh--and think--since I was a kid.

But things have changed.

Now, he is being taken down bit by bit by bit by women who alleged that he attacked them eons ago.

Due to the hub bub, he has lost current opportunities, such as with NBC and NetFlix, and his shows have been removed from the air.

This is not the first time that the Cos has been accused of doing the nasty in the wrong places. Evidently, he settled one suit that was lodged against him in a civil case, and then there was the more recent case where he was led to believe that he fathered a young girl with a previous paramour, only to later find out that he was not the actual physical father of the young lady.

So, yes, this arbiter of everything good has, in fact, been a bit bad during the past 50 years, all of which time he was married. He has had affairs, but were these latest strikes against him of the consensual nature or not?

Whatever the case, why did these women take upwards of more than 40 years to claim that Cosby assaulted them? Why are they ganging up on him now?

Yes, the statute of limitations has clearly run out on these cases. Evidently, the comic has been a good guy for the past 20 years or so.

But I bet that there is something else going on here, something that nobody could even fathom could be happening until now.

Cosby is worth many, many millions of dollars. During his heyday, he was probably one of the richest men in the country.

I will bet that he had been paying some of these ladies off for years to keep their mouths closed, and others he didn't pay a cent to at all.

He probably ceased these payments at some point in recent time, or the payments were made in a lump sum and were made years ago, and those that were getting them or got them were upset, and those that weren't probably found out that they were missing a great payday all of these years.

I believe, that is why the initial women struck back at him, and that is why the others joined the line later on.

Sure, we now can figure that the comedian has been talking out of two sides of his mouth the past 50 years, on one side preaching goodness, the other side being something of a predator.

"Do as I say, not as I do," has probably been his maxim.

But there is fault on the other side too.

Why, in heaven's name, has it taken these women so long to come forward? Sure, money can quiet the tongue, but one woman was supposedly attacked in 1969, and others in the 1980s, the ones who probably weren't paid for their silence.

Why has it taken them so long, when really nothing can be done about it now?

And, why and how did these women put themselves in a position to have this done to them?

These are just my impressions of the whole thing, but the sad thing is that Cosby is being made guilty of all of these wrongdoings--I thought in this country, you were innocent until proven guilty.

But the Internet has changed things, and the onus is on him to prove that he didn't do these dastardly deeds.

His silence only make matters worse.

He should come clean, admit that yes, all these years of goodness were spotted with incidents of not so much goodness, or at least missteps, and move on from this.

But unfortunately, he probably cannot do this, because his lawyers most assuredly have told him to shut up, it will all go away in time.

I don't think that Cosby is the American version of Jimmy Saville--the British music celebrity who upon his death, it came out that he had raped perhaps thousands of young men over the years--but I do think that Cosby has had a dark past that we haven't heard that much of until now.

The Jello is wobbly, for sure ...

Whether he did all these things or not, his reputation has been completely destroyed, and if he is innocent, that is just plain wrong.

If he is guilty, these women should have come out years and years ago and told their story.

Not now.

And that makes them as guilty as he supposedly is.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Rant #1,327: ? Part 2

I posted this yesterday on Facebook, and I received some valid feedback about this whole business I spoke about revolving around my liability for my car accident.

This post basically followed up on what I told you yesterday, so I am going to run it here, too.

Maybe you have something else to say about it?

Personally, I can accept it, but boy, what an explanation!

"Anyone in the insurance industry that can read this? Today in my blog,  I speak about my May 10 auto accident, where a young driver shot out of a side street, never stopping at the Stop sign, and T-boned my car, totaling it. The car turned over on its roof, and ended up on the sidewalk.
Anyway, we are lucky that my family and I came out of this unhurt.
However, the other insurance company claimed that I was liable for a portion of the accident, and an arbitrator ruled yesterday that I was liable for 15 percent of the accident.
I just called my insurance company, and while they are still listing me as zero percent at fault for the accident, the reason that I am 15 percent liable for the accident--and will, thus, only get back 85 percent of my deductible--is that they attribute that I had a failure to notice my locale properly, not realizing that it was an "accident situation" before the actual accident occurred.
They were also unable to determine if speed was a factor in my loss.
It was starting to rain. I had my lights on and my wipers on. Everyone was in their seat belt in the car.
What more could I do to "notice my locale properly" and "realize that it was an 'accident situation' before the actual accident occurred?"
Was I supposed to pull over to the side of road, and wait until the rain ended?
This proves to me that the insurance industry is nothing but vultures. The whole thing stinks. I was the one who was hit because a kid went through a Stop sign at an accelerated rate and never saw my car. My car was totaled, and they don't know if speed was a factor?
Like the adjuster told me several months ago, "You are going to be partially to blame because you were where you were at the point of contact."
Ludicrous, but if somebody in the industry, or outside the industry, has another take on this, I am all ears (and eyes).

So basically what I was told that since I was where I was at the point of contact, I am at least partially at fault for the accident.

Have you ever heard such hooey in all of your life?

Even the woman at my insurance company who told me about this agreed with me.

An arbitrator made the ruling so I have no recourse, but boy, in what other field would an explanation like that be valid?

I don't pretend to understand the insurance industry, but if this is an example of the parameters that they use, we are literally all sunk before we even turn the key and start the car.

At least my insurance company believes me, and my rates will not rise due to the accident.

But let me tell you, my opinion of the insurance industry has just been crafted due to this ridiculousness, and it will take a lot for me to change my mind about this industry.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rant #1,326: ?

Yes, that is the title of today's Rant.

I know no other way to put this better, so the question mark it is.

I received a call at my home yesterday while I was at work that pretty much startled me, and I need an explanation, which I hope to get today.

My May 10, 2014 car accident--where a young driver went through a stop sign on a rain drenched road at such force that when he hit my car, it tumbled over once, and its occupants are only alive because we were wearing our seat belts--has finally been closed.

We were found to have been 15 percent liable for the accident, which means I will get 85 percent of my deductible back.

That is all fine and good, but my question is the following: based on what happened, how am I 15 percent liable for the accident?

Heck, how am I even a scintilla of a percent liable?

I will call my insurance company today, to find out the actual reason(s), but to say I am perturbed is putting it mildly.

Right now, to me at least, this case proves that all insurance companies are crooks, because let me tell you, if it wasn't for my driving, my wife, my son and I would have been killed.

We had witnesses saying that the kid did not stop at the stop sign when he pulled out of his street. He T-boned my car, and being that this is in a residential area, we are just so lucky that nobody was on the sidewalk where we ended up.

Yes, he hit us with such force that that is where the car stopped, rolled over, after he hit us.

After seeing him for a split second, I did what I could to avoid contact, but it was to no avail. Perhaps doing this actually saved us from greater harm--we will never know, but I do believe that it did.

Let me tell you, the other driver's company has been a horror on this case from the get go.

They have given us nothing but trouble, and for this to take more than six months to resolve ... well, I thought that this was pretty much a cut and dry case.

But you know what? In the back of my mind, I kind of knew that there is no such thing as a cut and dry case when it comes to auto accidents.

The adjuster who worked on my case told me flat out that I would probably get some liability in the case.

He told me that just by being there, I was liable, because if I wasn't where I was at that exact moment, I would not have gotten hit.

Yes, that's right. I was where I was--driving along, minding my own business, with my lights and windshield wipers on--and that constitutes liability in the car insurance area.

If you can explain that to me, you must be a heckuva lot smarter than I am.

The guy was speeding, he never saw me, and BANG!, he hit me.

I did not hit him, he hit me.

I guess I should be happy that we came out of this alive. Lots of people in similar circumstances don't.

We just had some minor scratches, which have healed.

However, the mental scratches haven't healed so quickly, and probably won't for a long time.

I still think of that crash all the time, and while it is in the history books as far as I am concerned, it still lives on in me.

It also forced me to buy another car, which I am reminded of each month when I get the bill.

I had a premonition that this wasn't going to be easy, just a few minutes after what happened happened.

I was put on a gurney, ready to be transported to a nearby hospital.

I was cognizant, awake, and I guess everything hit me at that moment, a few minutes after I physically was hit.

I said to the EMT, "I'm screwed."

You know, I was right.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rant #1,325: Car-Niversary

I was relieved of my duties of being a potential juror yesterday.

I sat for hours, and then finally, they called about 30 of us into a room, and dismissed us.

Now I don't have to worry about this for six years, but on the federal court level, I could be called next year.

Something not to look forward to.

Anyway, today is an anniversary of sorts for me.

Forty years ago today, I received my actual driver's license in the mail.

I was 17, and as ready to drive as anyone possibly could be.

At that time, in New York State, you could get your learner's permit at 15, so in 1972, just a few weeks after I became that age, I took the written test, I think a got one or two wrong, but that was enough for me to get my learner's permit.

Every weekend, I would go out with my father to a desolate parking lot, and we would go through the various driving scenarios with the car that would be mine when I got my permanent license, my dad's old yellow Impala cab.

It was beat up, had a big dent in its side, but that was my first car, and I never painted it. I like it yellow.

Anyway, I also took driver's ed in school one summer, where my instructor was none other than actor Alec Baldwin's father.

Anyway, once it came time, I took my actual road test.

It went very well, as I recall.

I did exactly what I was supposed to do, and I remember that the officer in the car told me to park the car, parallel park it.

I started to do that, and in the middle of the action, when I was just about halfway done, he said to me, "OK, that's enought, you passed the test," and I brought him back to the origination point--and that was that.

Then, a few weeks later, the actual license came. I was overjoyed.

Just to get a feel for what I now had the power to do, I went with my mother on my first drive as a real, New York State driver--to our local bowling alley.

Every Saturday, I bowled in a league, and rather than ride my bike there--as I had done for the prior couple of years--I could now drive there, so that was a good place to go on my first drive.

We went there, and as I was coming home--maybe a block away--a stray dog darted in front of my car.

I slammed on the brakes, and I am sure my mom and I almost went through the windshield, as this was prior to the law where you had to wear seat belts while driving.

From that moment on, I vowed that if that situation ever happened again, it would be the animal, not me, who would get it.

Anyway, 40 years is 40 years. I have had numerous cars, I have had some accidents, I have traveled thousands and thousands of miles--to school, to work, to vacation spots, on emergencies, on pleasure driving, driving right after being married, bringing home my kids after they were born, etc.

It has been fun.

I have had my life flash before my eyes due to a horrific accident, I have had great times in the car too.

I have even helped teach my daughter to drive.

My son is another case. Due to his disability, right now, he cannot drive, but one day in the future, I am hoping that he will be able to have the same pleasure that I have had, behind the wheel of his own car.

We shall see.

But anyway, I now can say that I have 40 years of driving under my belt.

I guess I have a right to congratulate myself for this accomplishment, and looking ahead, I hope I have at least 40 more years of driving to celebrate.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Rant #1,324: Jury Duty Today

Today, I have been granted jury duty.

I don't mind serving jury duty--it is my responsibility as a citizen of this country to do so--but others mind, including my place of work.

As I described in a recent post, I went through hell a few years back when I had jury duty, and I try to get out of it to avoid such skirmishes when I can.

Their feeling is that since we have a small company, any cog in the wheel that misses work because of jury duty holds everyone up.

My feeling is that it is not only my duty to serve, but since I work for a place that constantly writes about the quality of life of service members and their families, they should understand that this is an obligation that the citizens of this country must uphold for everyone's quality of life.

They will pay me for three days--that's it--and after that, I am on my own.

I have to get out of it, because my quality of life--in the form of sick and personal days, of which we get very few--will be abridged if I don't get out of this.

It used to be easy for me to get out of jury duty.

I would just say "child support," and I would be let out immediately.

Whatever court it is does not want to interfere with that.

My daughter is 26 now, so I can't use that defense.

I also know it is more difficult to get off of jury duty now than it used to be.

But that is my goal/plight today, get off jury duty, and while I am none too happy about it, it is something that I must do.

Perhaps it will be easy, as it was several years ago, when at about lunch hour, they dismissed us for the week.

Perhaps it will be like the last time, when I literally had to beg to get off a jury I was assigned to.

Whatever the case, I am not looking forward to this situation at all.

Let's see what transpires.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Rant #1,323: The Great Khali

In this world we live in, this is about as inconsequential a story as you will ever read, but I thought I would talk about it today anyway.

It appears the Great Khali was released by the WWE yesterday.

Those are the reports, and if true, it is kind of sad.

Yes, the WWE creates its own world, and a lot of people are into this male soap opera things, a lot of people could care less.

But the Great Khali appears to be history, and to me, that is really too bad.

When this guy burst onto the scene several years ago, he was really something to behold.

He was almost the second coming of Andre the Giant.

Khali was absolutely huge, well over 7 feet tall, and they promoted him by showing you how he could crunch a basketball to bits with his bare hand--yes, hand. One hand was all he needed to squeeze the life out of a basketball, and presumably, another wrestler's head.

Yes, he was a villain at first, a villain that you really were in awe of.

There were problems with Khali right from the beginning.

In real life, the wrestler was, believe it or not, a police officer in India by the name of Dalip Singh Rana. He had a wife and family back home, but was urged to try pro wrestling because of his size.

First off, his English was unintelligible, and mic skills are crucial in the WWE.They even paired him with a manager, at first, one who could enunciate well better than Khali could.

His English became a running joke for his entire WWE tenure.

However, if you can't get your point across verbally, well, it is almost as if you can't wrestle, either.

And that leads to the next problem ...

He couldn't wrestle. At all.

He would basically stomp his opponents, and then put his huge foot on them, and the match was over.

He won the heavyweight championship briefly with this style, but to real pro wrestling fans, it was phony.

He became almost a laughing stock, and after a while, the WWE writers really didn't know what to do with his character, and they relegated him to substandard matches and roles while he learned to wrestle.

He never really did learn to wrestle, but he did learn a few moves.

It didn't help.

Because of his size, he became a comedy player in this wrestling troupe, nicknamed "The Punjabi Prince" and some other names, and his segments most assuredly led to comedy, not much else.

He was even paired with the WWE's resident midget, Hornswoggle, in a sort of "Mutt and Jeff" teaming, but it simply did not work.

Now, he is history, evidently, and it really is too bad.

The guy had no talent, but just to look at this guy, well, if you had to wrestle him, it probably sent shivers up your spine.

Andre the Giant knew how to wrestle; this guy simply did not, but they both shared one thing: the fans loved both of them.

I will be sorry to see him go. He was a presence, if nothing else.

But in the world of the WWE, nothing is final, so maybe he will return at some point in time.

Who knows.

But the long and short of it is that I will personally miss the Great Khali, and I am sure millions of wrestling fans around the world will too.

Goodbye, Shalom, Sayonara.

He is done, and that is too bad.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Rant #1,322: Saving a Life

The Heimlich Maneuver, or whatever it is called today, has been in the news recently in New York.

Evidently, a severely autistic young woman choked to death on a piece of food when her handler, who was supposed to be by her side at all times, stepped away for a moment or two.

The whole story is a tragedy, and if only her handler had been by her side, this maneuver could have been used, and the autistic woman's life might have been saved.

This maneuver--which has various permutations, but the main one is standing behind an adult who is choking, coming in from the back, placing your clenched fist right below the rib cage, and pushing in--has been around for a long time. I think I first heard about it in the 1970s.

Previous to this, if someone was choking, you hit them on the back, gave them water, etc. This was found not to be very effective.

Anyway, the reason I bring this whole thing up is that I am going to tell you about a brief episode that happened more than 20 years ago between myself and my daughter.

I was divorcing her mother at the time, and I had weekend visitation. We went to a local McDonald's as we always did, because my daughter adored McDonald's at the time. She was about four years old, and she just loved that place, so we ate there every time I saw her.

Anyway, we got our usual meals, me a Big Mac and her a Kid's Meal with a cheeseburger.

We were eating, and all of a sudden, my daughter starting turning colors. She wasn't really coughing or gagging, but I could see that something was wrong.

I jumped up, realized that a piece of the hamburger was caught in her throat, and really without thinking, applied the Heimlich Maneuver to her little frame.

By the second or third push, the piece of hamburger popped out of her throat and mouth like a missile coming off the launch pad.

She got her color back, I asked how she was doing, and when everything settled down, we continued to eat, almost as if nothing had happened.

I remember an elderly gentleman sitting at the next table said to me, "Good job," and that was pretty much that.

Happily, I have not had to do something like this again since that time.

So the current story conjured up that prior incident between myself and my daughter.

And the funny thing is that now that my daughter is 26, she still remembers the incident, even though it happened when she was such a young kid.

Anyway, if you don't know the Heimlich Maneuver, it can safely be applied to anyone, even pregnant women and babies, but it has to be done in a certain way based on who you are applying it to.

It is simple to learn, and thank God I was watching the news closely during those years, because that is where I learned how to apply it. If I didn't know what to do, who knows what would have happened.

People choke on food all the time, and not just little kids who are constantly putting things in their mouths, but older people too.

It is a good thing to know, and you can always keep it in your back pocket and pull it out when needed.

So learn the maneuver, especially during the holiday season, when eating is almost as important as the gift giving.

I saved my daughter's life all those years ago, and I just wonder if the handler was around, whether this young autistic woman would still be around too.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Rant #1,321: "John and Mary," On a Sunday Yet

No, I am not talking about anything biblical here.

Over the weekend, on Sunday, my family had nothing doing after having a house full of people--my wife's side of the family--on Saturday.

It was a slow day.

I am not into football, as I am sure you know, so how was I going to spend my time on Sunday afternoon?

I was flipping from channel to channel, finding nothing to watch, and then I believe I came to the Fox Movie Channel, and lo and behold, I finally found something ...

and it was called "John and Mary."

This was a somewhat notorious film when it came out in 1969. It featured two of moviedom's hottest young stars at the time--Dustin Hoffman was just coming off "Midnight Cowboy" and Mia Farrow was just coming off  'Rosemary's Baby"--and the film was directed by Peter Yates, who was just coming off  his own success with "Bullitt."

After having the soundtrack in my collection for years and years, I finally sat down and watched this movie, which, even with its star power, is kind of obscure, certainly nothing more than a footnote on Hoffman's career.

Even though the film got mixed reviews, I kind of liked it, even if it is nothing more than a period piece from a different era.

I am drawn to movies and TV shows that depict New York City at that time, even in brief glimpses, and this film certainly does that.

It centers on "John," played by Hoffman, who is what came to be called an urban yuppie, a furniture designer who is young, has a lot of money, and knows the right people.

He goes to a party where every inch of real estate is taken up my another partygoer, and he innocently meets the shy--at least on the surface--Farrow, playing "Mary," who was dragged to the affair by some friends.

Mary works in an art gallery, and she is having a long-time affair with a much older politician with a wife and family.

Hoffman and Farrow's characters hit it off, and in 1969 movies, when two people of the opposite sex hit if off, well, they end up going to bed.

And for peeping toms, yes, you do see brief, full rear nudity of both Hoffman and Farrow.

Anyway, then we get right into the late 1960s thing, where each one wonders why they slept with each other, surrounding the meaning of life as we knew it back then. We hear them talking amongst themselves about everything from the origins of an organic egg (yes, in 1969, this is not a new concept) to the music that John likes, and we also hear their thoughts in their head ... why did he/she sleep with me, do I really like this guy/girl, etc.

Hoffman's character is drawn to clingy girls, which he doesn't like, because he is somewhat of a private person. Of course, it has to do with his mom, who was into causes, all of which she schlepped her son to.

He had been in a relationship with a model, and she basically took over his house, and he didn't like it. They weren't together anymore, but were still good friends.

Farrow is a waif, but sexually aggressive, and she does cook a meal for him, on a whim, which he kind of likes, kind of doesn't like, because it brings up memories of his former crush, and probably of his mother, too.

One thing leads to another, and they argue, and Farrow eventually leaves.

Before she leaves, she writes her name and phone number on the bathroom mirror, but Hoffman washes it off--only to realize that he wants to see this girl again, and that he only knows what part of Manhattan she lives in, but he doesn't know her name--and she doesn't know his.

This is all spurred on by Hoffman going to a party held by his old girlfriend, where he feels completely like a fish out of water.

He knows he wants Farrow now, for sure, and takes a cab driver (not my father) on a whirlwind tour of Manhattan in the 1960s, which is really pretty interesting.

Anyway, one thing leads to another, and the two meet up again, very innocently, and yes, as happens so often in movies from 1969, they go to bed with each other once again.

And they finally find out each other's names. John and Mary. No last names. They laugh, and go at it.

The end.

The film received generally poor reviews, but the acting won raves, and both Hoffman and Farrow won various plaudits and award nominations for their roles.

But looking at it in 2014, if there was ever a period piece of a different time and place, this movie was it.

The film isn't long at all--maybe 90 minutes--and it keeps your attention, even though a lot of the sentiments are of a different era.

I kind of liked it, it kept me going, and for once, I see that Farrow was a pretty good actress in her younger days.

You really have to drop any preconceived notions of her as we know her today--wrapped up in the tangled web of many foster children and being Woody Allen's former better half--but back then, she was sort of Twiggy and Katherine Hepburn rolled into one.

Hoffman, we all know, turned into one of Hollywood's finest actors, and to this day, he is still a name that almost guarantees a fine performance. Farrow, on the other hand, has been so enmeshed in the Woody Allen saga that her acting skills aren't even recognized anymore.

So there you have it. Something to do on a boring Sunday afternoon.

And what's even better is that I have included the video, below, if you are interested in watching it.

And using another late 1960s-early 1970s catchphrase ...

"Try it. You'll like it."

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Rant #1,320: Hail to the Veterans

Today is Veterans Day.

Most of the country is off today in remembrance of these brave men and women who defend, and have defended, our country.

Me, I write about the military, but I guess the way I honor these service members is by working.

Anyway, the closest veteran to me is my father.

He was in the Marines during the Korean War in the late 1940s and early 1950s, before he met the woman who would eventually become his wife and my mother.

This was during a very interesting time in our history.

Not only were we fighting the enemy, we were fighting ourselves and the changes that were being made in our society.

The Korean War was the first war where men of all color fought side by side.

Or supposedly so, because it wasn't always 100 percent true.

Even though that was the order, it was carried out in funny ways.

My father was in a platoon where he and another man--a very ethnic Italian who appeared as if he came into the Marines directly from Rome--were the only white members of the group. My father was the Jew, this guy was the ethnic, and another one was Puerto Rican.

The rest of the group was black, so you can say this group was filled up with men who were sort of on the outside looking in.

My father tells a story about how, in the deep south, he had to go in a get food for the weary men after maneuvers, because he was the only one who would be served. He also was the lookout for bathroom breaks.

That is how it was back then; sort of integrated, sort of not.

My father was a private, and he was also a cook. He says they made him a cook because he was a butcher by trade, and they linked butchering with cooking.

My father had never cooked anything at all when he grew up, but he learned fast.

He never went to Korea. He had dual sets of papers, and spent time in the brig because they didn't know what to do with him.

He served in, among other places, Camp Lejeune and Guantanamo Bay.

He has some incredible stories about each place that have to be heard to be believed.

They are both funny, and sad.

After his two-year hitch, they wanted him to re-enlist, but he said, very politely, "No sir!" and that was that.

He went back to work as a butcher the very day that he returned to New York.

My father in law also served in the Marines during the same period, and comparing his time of service to my dad's, we have found that they were at one base at the same time--I forget which--for a few months.

Thus, it is conceivable that my father cooked for the guy that would be his future child's father in law many years later.

Kind of funky, isn't it?

My father in law actually went to Korea, and was injured in the fighting.

And my brother in law also was in the service, in the Navy. He served 16 years and has been out for many years now.

So those are my connections to veterans on Veterans Day. I am proud to have these heroes as part of my life, and I am happy that today, we respect our veterans, unlike during the Vietnam War era, where they were almost looked at as the enemy by some.

That was wrong, plain wrong. If it wasn't for their bravery, we would not have the great country that we have today.

Anyway, have a good Veterans Day, and as most of you reading this are off today, pause and think about the reason that you have off.

It is the right thing to do.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Rant #1,319: Happy Birthday

Today is my wife's birthday.

She is xx years old.

It really doesn't matter what her actual age is because, quite frankly, you would never guess it.

She keeps herself fit and trim, and she looks probably about 10 years younger than she really is.

Yes, I am a lucky man, I really am.

We had company over on Saturday afternoon, her brothers and their significant others, and our nephew's wife, and we got to talking about how all of us met each other.

Sometimes the road was a rocky one, sometimes it went pretty smoothly.

In my and my wife's case, I really didn't realize how smooth the whole thing went at the time.

We met on a blind date set up by one of those old fashioned dating agencies that have since pretty much been wiped out by the Internet.

Anyway, we got set up, and the first thing that we had to do was speak on the phone with each other.

Neither one of us is a real phone talker, and that first conversation stands as the longest phone call we have ever had with each other.

Anyway, she asked me what celebrity I looked like, and I said that some people thought I looked like Dustin Hoffman (never did, but that is what some people told me way back when, when I had hair).

She told me she looked like Adrienne Barbeau.

I was hooked, line and sinker, from that point on.

We met, and she later told me that after our initial date, she knew that she was going to marry me.

I didn't know, but after a few dates, believe me, I knew.

And heck, did I get lucky.

She is my dream girl, and I couldn't be happier.

She is a hard worker, a fine mom, and a great daughter to her father. Her mom is deceased, but I know that she really loved her mother and the feeling was mutual.

She has taken a well-deserved day off from work today, and I wish I could be with her today, but duty calls.

I love her more than I can put into words. She is my Rock of Gibraltar, and without her, I really am nothing.

So here's to her on her birthday.

Everybody should be as lucky as I was to have a person like her as their spouse.

She is the greatest woman on earth, at least to me she is, and I can't wait to get home today so I can wish her "happy birthday" to her very pretty face, and give her her gifts (one I ordered online, and hopefully, it will arrive on time).

I hope she has a nice, relaxing day.

She deserves it.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rant #1,318: Big Mouth

As I have gotten older, I have learned, without a shadow of a doubt, that sometimes, you have to have a big mouth to get anything done.

Unfortunately, although they say that the quiet ones are the ones to watch, the loud ones are the ones to pay attention to.

I am a pretty shy person by nature, but sometimes, if pushed just a little too far, I can get pretty smarmy.

I really can.

As per my Rant yesterday, I have been having a tremendous amount of trouble communicating to certain people that I need specific information sent my way for my son.

These public servants have been completely useless to me, and their methods simply do not work and do not serve the public, the people who pay their bloated salaries.

So I took the bull by the horns yesterday, and I think it must have worked.

After once again calling the numbers that the public is given to reach certain factions of our government--factions that plead that they will help you with your concerns but instead, simply clog up the pipes--and not hearing from them at all, at lunchtime, I did what I told them I was going to do, and I called their boss.

No, not their direct boss, but my county executive. He is, in fact, their boss.

I spoke to someone immediately at his office, and she told me that she would get right to it.

And she did.

By the end of the afternoon, I received a call from Social Services, and they said that they would send my son a temporary card and ID numbers, so he could take advantage of the programs that he has thus far been denied because of the idiotic system that Medicaid is.

Not only that, but I received calls at home from representatives of both Social Services and Medicaid ... now that I have their ear, you can bet I will be calling them today to voice my concerns about how their supposed "help lines" don't provide any help at all, unless you want help in experiencing complete aggravation.

Believe me, I am sorry that I have to do this, but sometimes, you just have to have a big mouth.

And, of course, the problem is not settled until I get his temporary card in the mail. But at least now, I have a better person to call if I don't get the card by late next week.

And yes, I will call my county executive again if this festers. They need to know that those that work under the county executive are not doing their jobs.

So, my words to the wise for you is that if you ever encounter problems that I have had--whether with government or even in a supermarket--always demand--and yes, I said demand--to speak to the boss.

I don't like going over people's heads either, but sometimes, you have to do what you have to do.

And a boss does not want to hear that his workers are not doing their jobs, I can tell you that for a certainty.

I know that Ralph Kramden on "The Honeymooners," when he was in trouble, always used to scream, "I have a BIIIIIIG mouth!" but sometimes, if you use it selectively and creatively with the right people at the right time, that big mouth can pay dividends.

Time will tell for my son.

I will next speak to you on Monday. I was told several minutes after this column was written that I have to attend to something tomorrow--nothing bad, just something that will require me to take the day off from work, so I will speak to you again next week. Have a nice weekend.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Rant #1,317: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Yes, I voted yesterday, and I did exactly what I said I was going to do.

How many other people who voted can look themselves in the mirror and say, "You did what needed to be done."

I can do that, and I made my stand.

I wish others did the same.

Anyway, I have my own challenges to overcome today, which I have been trying to overcome for months.

My challenges involve my son.

No, he hasn't done anything wrong at all--he has done everything right, in fact.

However, government agencies have not done right by him at all.

As you know if you read this column regularly, he has a learning disability, ADD, and is out of school now.

After a long, arduous process, he gained Supplemental Security Income, which means that he also gets Medicaid.

The Medicaid part is key. It allows him to use various programs offered by organizations that deal with this type of thing, including programs that will hopefully put him to work.

He has gotten a couple of interviews on his own, but nothing has come of them. I think that when he is interviewed, employers see that he will need some help on the job, and they don't hire him.

Through programs that he can get through organizations and due to the fact that he has Medicaid, he can be provided with a job coach, who will see him through these jobs.

The problem is, he needs a Medicaid number, and that is really where everything happening now starts.

He has been approved for SSI/Medicaid for at least six weeks. We received the acceptance letter during the tail end of the summer.

Although he has already received at least one payment through SSI/Medicaid, he does not have his Medicaid number.

The payment came through his Social Security number, and without the Medicaid number, he cannot participate in any of these programs that he so sorely needs.

He has been turned down by various organizations because he does not have his number. He has been told to call back when he has it, but until he gets it, they cannot help him.

I am his official representative--no joke, I went through Hell to get that designation--so it is my job to see to it that he gets that number as soon as possible.

I have called Medicaid, they tell me to call Social Security. I call Social Security, they tell me to call Medicaid.

And calling these places is also a joke.

You can get entangled in their respective phone systems, and be on the phone waiting for an hour, only to be told to leave your name and number and they will get back to you.

And they never do.

I have persevered, and actually have gotten a few people on the phone to talk to.

Most are almost robotic, telling me what I already know and not helping me with solving this problem.

And yes, I have learned that what they say about most government workers is true. Many of them are mind numbing, don't listen to anything you have to say, just are pencil pushers, and I really wonder how we, the taxpayers, are paying people to do very little.

Anyway, through sheer luck, I was able to get the supervisor's number for Medicaid, and I have called her several times, faxed over some information that I was told to fax over, and still have not heard from this person.

The icing on the cake is that I called the other day, and I got a woman on the phone. I told her my mission, and this was how the phone call went.

"I can't do anything for you."

"Can't you transfer me over to Ms. xxx?"

"No, I can't, because the transfer button on my phone isn't working. It broke today. They use the cheapest parts here to save the county money. You can blame the county executive for that."

"Well then, can't you walk over and give Ms. xxx my message that I called again?"

"No, she is on the other side of the building, and I can't walk over there."

"Well then, what would you like me to do?"

I swear to you that this is not a fabrication, this actually happened.

Even amid this horror, I will persevere, and try again. And again if I have to.

This is your government at work, and as you can see, it does not work at all.

All the while, my son is at home, on his computer, just whiling away the time.

We have been told by various sources that it can take anywhere from six weeks to six months to get this number, and that is way too long a time to sit around and wait.

I have been told that my son can get a temporary number, so he can participate in these programs and get the ball rolling.

I feel I have reached a certain crossroads.

Do I continue to act professionally on the phone, and get nothing, or do I begin to get nasty, and that will lead me to the so-called promised land?

I just don't know.

In the past seven months of fighting for my son to get Medicaid, the only way that I have been able to get anything accomplished was to be nasty on the phone, only when necessary.

I actually reported someone who I dealt with to her supervisor in order to become my son's official representative. If I hadn't done this, I would never have gotten this designation.

Now, do I act this way again?

It seems to be the only way these people understand anything or will do anything for the public that they are supposed to be serving.

I will report back to you in due time about this, but hopefully, I won't have to resort to this method to get things done.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Rant #1,316: Vote, Vote, Vote

Today is Election Day, and it is time to employ your civic duty and vote during the national election day being held today.

No, we are not voting for President, but this is a mid-term election, so who we vote for pretty much demonstrates how much faith we have in our President and his policies.

But whoever you vote for, get down to the polling place and vote.

But no, I won't monitor you to see if you are voting, as the Democrats are allegedly doing.

It really isn't my business who you vote for, just that you vote.

All I can say is that it is time to judge those running on what they have done during their most recent terms, and to remove those who haven't lived up to the standards that we voted on these men and women to uphold.

And based on the past few years, there seems to be a lot of people who we voted for who have their own agendas, and who don't care about their constituents.

It is time to vote them out. Period.

But I know, people are chicken. They would rather vote for a full party line than to mix it up a bit.

That is such a wrong way of thinking, but that is how they vote.

I am going to mix it up quite a bit--I am going to vote for Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives, Liberals, even Libertarians.

I probablu won't vote for anyone who is going to win, but my conscious is clear.

You have to stand by your convictions. I can look myself in the mirror, and I can say I did a good job voting.

How many other people can say that, especially if you vote on only a single party, especially with a chance to really make a difference this year?

Anyway, the most important thing is to get out and vote.

And I plan on doing that when my polling place opens in a little more than an hour.

Will you be doing the same, or sitting on your tuckus and dong nothing today?

Get out and vote.

It is your civic duty.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Rant #1,315: The Governor of New Jersey

I am going to say right off the bat that I am not necessarily a fan of Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.), but I am also going to say that I am liking him more all of the time.

I applaud him for his stand, with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, that the nation's stand against the spread of the Ebola disease was not enough, and the two legislators making firmer rules for handling the disease in their states.

And the latest kudo that I give to him concerns how he handled a heckler on Wednesday, when he was giving an update on Hurricane Sandy on its two-year anniversary and his state's efforts during that span.

He basically told the heckler to "shut up."

Christie has handled hecklers like this before, and in this era of political correctness, I really enjoy his candor.

The guy had stood up in the middle of the press conference with a two-sided sign basically saying "complete the job," and the guy was attacking the governor and his policies.

Look, nobody said that the Hurricane Sandy predicament that many people still find themselves in is joyous; it isn't, and it is a shame that they have to go through this.

But, on the other hand, disrupting a press conference was not the way to do it either, and Christie had every right to tell the guy to be quiet.

He said he would talk with him later about his concerns, but you know what? The guy deserved to be treated like a child based on his behavior.

And the heat Christie and Cuomo have taken for their Ebola stand is really off base.

That nurse who is all hot and bothered and supposedly suing because her rights were violated ... maybe she should be told to "shut up" too.

Christie is a very easy target for Democrats and others. He is a roly-poly, big-mouth politician who does not believe in PC. He is as old school as they get nowadays, and that both turns people off as much as it turns people on.

People have also accused him of ruling his state with an iron hand. We may never know what he knew about the George Washington Bridge traffic snarls that were supposedly ordered by people from his staff, and there have been other instances where he appears standoffish and rude.

Heck, I attacked him when he had flags flown at half-staff when Whitney Houston died. I thought that was pandering to a certain segment of the population. The woman, who had lived in Newark as a child, hadn't ventured near her old hometown through her successes and was as akin to New Jersey at that point as I am.

But in this most recent case, sometimes, you have to go to the vernacular to get something done, and he did it here, and it was right and it worked.

Does he have enough vibe to become our next President?

Rumors are that he is running, but I don't really know.

But if he does run, and someone is as rude as the clown was the other day, I have no problem with Christie telling the perpetrator to "shut up" once again.

Haven't we all had that fantasy, to tell people bothering us to "shut up," and in this PC world, haven't we had to suppress our feelings because it just isn't right?

Well, it was right the other day, and I think it makes Christie a more human character.

I didn't say humane, I said human, and in this day and age, that is very, very important.


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