Monday, March 31, 2014

Rant #1,375: All Busted Up About the News



I watch at least one newscast each and every day on TV.

I know that we are being told that people are getting their news from the Internet nowadays, but I prefer the good old fashioned local news--and newspapers--to really keep me up to date on what is going on.

And as a man in the New York Metropolitan area, the female newscasters that are on the local newscasts today are about the nicest looking women that you could find.

Yes, this is the golden age of female newscasters in New York TV news.

One is prettier than the other, and while that is probably by design, their looks do grab you beyond the fact that these ladies are professionals in every way, shape and form.

But sometimes, they put their femininity first before their professionalism, and that is when they get in a little trouble.

The local Channel 5 weekend news has become notorious for this type of thing. Two of its female broadcasters, Christina Park, the anchor, and Audrey Puente, the meteorologist (and daughter of jazzman Tito Puente), are nice looking 30-something women, but they often wear outfits that make them the news, not what they are reporting on.

Both have good figures, and this was a problem for Park on Saturday night.

In the somewhat looser environment of this show versus the weekday programs, Park, who was recently pregnant and gave birth a few months ago, often wears outfits that highlight the upper part of her figure. She did this again on Saturday night, with a blouse with a plunging neckline that showed all the world that yes, she has quite a bit of cleavage.

Funny, but I have seen her wear even more cleavage-bearing tops in the past, but I am mentioning this recent situation because of the reaction later on.

Anyway, any which way he moved, the viewers focus had to be on her breasts because of what she was wearing. Today's women's outfits do bear a bit more than they did in past years, but she is the anchor of the weekend newscast, for crying out loud.

I mean, as a man, I didn't mind it at all, but evidently, someone at the station did.

As I was turning the channels on Saturday evening, it was time for the 10 p.m. newscast, and I just happened to turn it on.

Well, Park was wearing the same top, but lo and behold, it seemed to be a bit moved up on her upper part. Gone was most, if not all, of the cleavage that she had shown on the earlier newscast.

And on Sunday's newscast, she wore a somewhat more conserative outfit that didn't show much of anything.

Ladies, I don't know how women's clothing works, but evidently, Park made some type of adjustment to her wardrobe so she didn't show as much on the later newscast.

Bad for me as a male, but good for the newscast in general. The news is supposed to be the focus, not an anchorwoman's breasts.

But just looking around at local TV newscasts, as I said, this is the golden age of pretty females doing the news on local TV.

I am sure that every metropolitan area has their news hotties, but New York has gone overboard lately.

Heck, on one of the newscasts, we even have a traffic reporter who is a former beauty queen who has posed nude for Playboy in the name of Jill Nicolini on the local CBS affiliate here.

That used to be a career killer, but times have changed, and things like this, I guess, are thought to be a plus.

Although there are some very comely beauties on the network newscasts, the dress code remains a bit firmer on these shows, and the ladies are pretty much covered up from top to bottom.

But on the local newscasts, it seems that just about anything goes now.

After reading this article, you might not find Saturday night's latest bustup on YouTube, but look up any of the three women that I mentioned, and lots of their outfits have gone viral.

It isn't only me who has noticed, evidently.

Isn't this a nice way to begin our week?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Rant #1,374: Sleepless In New York



I am a light sleeper, always was, always have been, and I still am after nearly 57 years on this planet.

My mother has said that even as a baby, I wasn't much of a sleeper. I wouldn't sleep in the house, only when I was in the stroller outside, and since I was "Larry the Menace," my mother did everything she could to get me to sleep, including putting my stroller on the fire escape with me in it.

Yes, back in those days, you could do that with no worries at all.

Anyway, I am my mother's son, and she is a very light sleeper, too, as was her mother, my grandmother.

Some people can just sleep away the day, others need maybe four or five hours and they are ready to go.

My father is one of the all-time sleepers, as was his father, my grandfather. My father can sleep a whole day away if you let him.

As for me, on Thursday night, I was bushed. I fell asleep at 8 p.m.

But I woke up around midnight, found that my son was sleeping on the couch, put him to sleep, and here I am, around 1 a.m. in the morning, and I am typing this Rant.

Yes, tonight I can't go back to sleep.

My allergies are kicking in, which isn't helping. I feel all congested and restless because of it.

No, I know the idea has come into your head that I have sleep apnea. A few years ago, I was tested for this, and no, I don't have it.

I always had a solid five hour or so hour sleep each and every night, never woke up in the middle, and felt pretty rested up until about 19 years ago, when due to some financial problems I had--divorce, naturally--I took a job as an adult newspaper deliverer.

I had to be up before midnight to deliver the papers, and with my other full-time job that I had, I had little time for sleep.

There were days that I was literally up for more than 24 hours straight.

Anyway, I used to go to bed at 7:30, woke up at about 11:40, took a shower, and left for the depot.

I would get home, and when my son came into this world, I would feed him his bottle at about 3:30 a.m., watch "Gomer Pyle USMC" with him while I was feeding him--which was on the local ABC outlet here at about 4 a.m. back then--and put him back to bed. He was a good sleeper, way better than me, and rarely gave me a problem.

Then I would try to sleep for at least an hour or so, and then I would go to work.

This lasted for nearly a year, but let me tell you, it screwed up my sleeping forever.

I still haven't gotten over it fully, even though it is so many years ago.

Anyway, you try to have a good night sleep, because my sleep is fouled up for good tonight.

I am using this Rant as almost some type of sleep therapy.

Maybe when I am done with it, I can actually make myself go to sleep.

The typing is making me kind of tired, and maybe the night is not lost.

So good night to you, and I will speak to you again on Monday, hopefully more rested than I am right now.

Followup: It took me a while, but I did fall back asleep, and ended up oversleeping, so I got in maybe an extra 90 minutes of sleep time. I am bushed as I am typing this, but at least I did get back to sleep. Maybe I will have better luck tonight ...

Rant #1,373: Good Music



I don't think I am the only person who can say this, but I am going to say this anyway:

Is today's music the most horrid trash you have ever heard?

All the songs sound the same, no artists truly stand out, and electronics rate well over real instruments in these songs.

Sure, I will bet there are one or two of you out there who probably disagree, and that is OK.

I guess my generation was spoiled.

Being born in 1957, I was part of the first rock and roll generation, spearheaded by the music of Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and a host of other Rock and Roll Hall of Famers.

Growing up in the 1960s, I was there when the Beatles took over the world, and all the other great acts followed, everyone from the Rolling Stones to the Dave Clark Five to the Monkees and on and on and on.

Sure, I was also there in the 1970s and beyond, when this music started to become corporate, but heck, there was still a lot of great stuff to choose from.

And that is the thinking behind my more than 10-year-old Yahoo Groups site, Alternative Top 40.



Each week, music lovers from around the world vote on between 12 and 20 songs as being their favorites of the week. Those songs that get the most votes remain on the poll, and can remain available for up to five weeks. Those that don't get the most votes are removed, and replaced by new songs.

It is as simple as that.

Most of the music I have put up in the past 10-plus years has been from the 1960s and early 1970s, but I have also uploaded music from the 1950s, the 1980s, 1990s, the early 2000s, and even the current time, the two latter dates mainly from classic artists who have something new to say through their music.

It is a fun site, nothing more than I described to you.

The reason I decided to trumpet the site today is that I am coming to the end of listening to every song I have put up there through my 2012-2013 season, a total of well more than 2,500 songs. They range from pop, rock, soul, and other musical genres.

I put them all on CD-Rs, and have been listening to them in the car since early this year.

I am just about done, and I really think I have uploaded a terrific cross-section of stuff during the past years to listen to.



So if you are into discovering music you never knew existed--or revisiting music that you might have forgotten--Alternative Top 40 is for you.

I put up a lot of B sides, album tracks, and other things from both popular artists and those who really never made it in America.



Just as an aside, the most popular artist on the site, with the most placements and total weeks on the weekly charts, is the Dave Clark Five.



However, the most popular artist in terms of numbers of full placements on the chart versus songs on the chart--eeking out five total weeks on the most songs--I believe is the Beatles, naturally.

Just so you know, the Rolling Stones haven't done very well on the chart, but Petula Clark has. The Lovin' Spoonful have not done too well, but Cheap Trick has.

You can't figure this thing out, and neither can I, which makes the whole thing that much more fun.

Please visit the site at https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/AlternativeTop40/info.

You won't be sorry that you did.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Rant #1,372: Up To the Challenge

It goes without saying that I had a horrible day on Monday, got little accomplished, although I did get the satisfaction that at least I tried to do something, and I am supposedly pointed in the right direction now.

We will see.



The only good thing that I was able to do that day was to see my son play basketball in the Challenger Basketball League contest held at a local middle school.

This is a really great program, and with my son's impending graduation, this is it for him in the league. Monday was his final game.

The league is made up of kids who have some type of developmental disability, everything from simple learning disabilities to more serious problems.



These kids would never get the chance to play in an organized sport like this if it weren't for this league.

They get to wear the jerseys of their high school, there are cheerleaders, the works.

It makes these kids feel very important, and the fact of the matter is, they are important.

And it is important for these kids to get exercise, because with their various problems, these children are often couch potatoes, including my son.

Nowadays, there are numerous programs like this, and my son bowls in a Saturday afternoon league with much the same aim: get some exercise, socialize, and have fun.



My son's team lost, and they ended their season at 1-3.

But it really didn't matter. The kids had lots of fun, and felt good about themselves as the game progressed.

My son actually scored 12 points, had a couple of rebounds, and did pretty well.

But honestly, if he didn't score a point or grab a rebound, that would have sufficed.



He was having fun, and that is all that counted.

My son will miss this league when he graduates, but I am sure he will move onto something else as he starts his post-high school career.

But I am sure that he will never forget the fun that he had in this league.



I know that I won't.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Rant #1,371: 21st Century Circus



Well, yesterday was as an exasperating day as I have ever had.

I won't go into too many details, but the bureaucracy--and trying to maneuver yourself through it--is alive and well.

I did make some inroads toward the end of the day, so it wasn't a day wasted--although it almost was.

Enough about that. How about we talk about professional wrestling?

My son and I went to another show at the Nassau Coliseum on Saturday night, a house show in the so-called "Road to Wrestlemania."

All that this means is this was a house show--an untelevised event put on by the WWE--that is just one of many that leads up to the big Wrestlemania show in early April.

Nothing of consequence happens at a house show, so the crowds are less than they would be for a televised event.

In fact, with Monday's Raw show at the nearby Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, this was nothing by an afterthought to most wrestling fans, and thus, the place might have been half full.

But as usual, it was a good show for what it was, but the future for professional wrestling shows like this is cloudy on Long Island.



For the first time that we have been going to house shows, the WWE did say they would be returning to Long Island "in the future." Usually, they give you a date and say that tickets would be on sale right after the show.

But they didn't do that this evening, and the reason is that the future for the existing Nassau Coliseum is something that will unfold during the next few years.

The plan is that the Coliseum is going to be redeveloped and repurposed, all under the auspices of the same people who created the Barclay's Center, so you know that they will make a nice venue, but one that really won't compete with the one in Brooklyn.

The Coliseum's main tenant, the New York Islanders hockey franchise, is moving to Brooklyn after it completes the 2014-2015 season, so it has just one season to go in the existing Coliseum.

The venue has numerous attractions slated for the next year, but after that, it will be at least two years to complete the newer, smaller, Coliseum and all the other improvements the area has been slated for.



Thus, the next few years are kind of murky for the WWE on Long Island.

Its main competition, TNA Wrestling, usually has its own house show at what used to be called Westbury Music Fair. It is a nice venue for a concert--maybe the best around for its size--but for wrestling, it is a bit too small for the wrestlers to really do very much.

There are no comparable larger venues to the Coliseum around on the Island, and with Barclay's Center just miles away, the WWE probably isn't sweating this thing out.

So, on Saturday night, we might have seen the last show for the WWE on Long Island for a long, long time, if not forever, depending on just what happens with the Coliseum as it is rebuilt.

Will it be big enough for the WWE--which regularly sells out larger arenas, especially when it broadcasts one of its shows from that particular arena--of usually 15,000 to 20,000 fans?



I don't know, but at least I can say I was there if, in fact, this is it for now between the marriage of Nassau Coliseum and the WWE.

Funny, if that is the case, it will be the second such occurrence in my lifetime.

I was also there for the final games of the old ABA with the old New York Nets, who also now reside in Barclay's Center.



I was there for that league's final championship before it was merged into the NBA--those were the days of a young Julius Erving, and the games were really memorable.

I was there with friends, and I will never forget those games, and the Nets won that last championship of that league.

So it will be two times that I went down for the count with the Nassau Coliseum.

Let's see what the future brings, but I will tell you that if the WWE does come to the Coliseum at least one more time before the work begins, I will be there.

Like they say in the WWE, "It's best for business," at least their business, and I look forward to seeing them again sometime, someday soon.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Rant #1,370: The Best of Ranting and Raving #3: Breast Legal Practices



I have to take today off from work due to a previously unforeseen matter that I have to clear up. I did not know until late last week that this was something that I had to do--it has to do with my son and the programs that he has available for him once he graduates--and, unfortunately, it is something I can't do while at work.

So, I figured it was time to present to you another breast ... err ... best of Ranting and Raving, this one going back to Rant #515 from a couple of years ago.

Here it is. Enjoy.

"Leave it to the New York Daily News to find this story hiding under a rock somewhere ...

A Chicago lawyer is saying his opponent in a small claims case is using his paralegal's large breasts to distract the jury.

Attorney Thomas Gooch, who is representing a car dealership, filed a motion last week asking Judge Anita Rivkin-Carothers to force the opposing lawyer's buxom assistant to sit in the audience, rather than at the plaintiff's table.

Gooch (yes, that is his real last name) said his opposing lawyer, Dmitry N. Feofanov, is using Daniella Attencia to draw the attention (get it Attencia-attention) of the jury away from the proceedings.

Feofanov insists that Attencia is his paralegal, and he needs her for his case.

Gooch, on the other hand, thinks that she is just there to show off her ample bosom, and isn't a paralegal at all.

"Personally, I like large breasts," Gooch was reported to have said. "However, I object to somebody I don't think is a qualified paralegal sitting at the counsel table -- when there's already two lawyers there -- dressed in such a fashion as to call attention to herself."

Feofanov said he's got paperwork to prove she's legit.

Evidently she has been paid as a paralegal before, but Gooch said that even though she has been paid as one, it doesn't make her one.

(The photo I used today is totally unrelated to the story. It is the cleanest photo I could find related to the search "busty lawyer.")

I don't know about this one. Just because a woman has an ample figure, does that preclude her from working on a law team?

On the other hand, if you see how some women dress today--even to work--with their you know whats bouncing and hanging out all over the place--don't you think the woman, or even the lawyer she is working with, know what she is doing?

There are scant few pictures of Attencia on the Web (rats!), so I can't judge for myself.

But again, should a woman's ample figure bar her from court proceedings?

All who believe that probably believe that a woman like this was born to do porno films, and that is it.

On the other hand, if her ample endowments are on display in the court, wouldn't you say that is wrong too?

Personally, I don't want to be Solomon here, making the breast, err, best decision about this woman and why she is in the courtroom.

But I think that Gooch should get her eyes of this woman's breasts and back to his legal briefs. (And keep on his other briefs, while he is at it.)

I'm sure his client would want that from him.

As for Attencia, well, let's see more of her on the Web. Then we can judge for ourselves what's going on.

C'mon, more Attencia on the Web.

Please.

The latest wrinkle in this case is that Atencia is actually Feofanov's wife! Stay tuned, this might get more interesting!"

Followup: I could not find anything alluding to this case and its aftermath, and I could not find any photos of Ms. Atencia online that would point to her breasts as being the focal point of this case. I posted a picture of her, but it does not show much of anything, other than she is a nice looking woman facially.

I do know that her hubby the lawyer defended her left and right for her appearance, and didn't deny that she has a huge chest, but also said that he was not using it as a distraction.

But as far as evidence one way or the other, I don't have any.

So I will rest my case.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Rant #1,369: Spring Has Sprung



Today is the first full day of spring.

Spring sprung on us at 12:57 p.m. yesterday, right in the middle of my lunch break, so today is the first full day of spring.

Although the so-called "winter from hell" could have been much, much worse in my neck of the woods, it was pretty bad as it was.

I believe we have had the seventh worst winter in our history, just a little behind the sixth and all the way to the second or third.

The way they rate snowfall is not by winters, but by total snowfall from October-April, so we still could move up there if we get some more snow--and I believe there is some precipitation in the forecast for late next week, when it gets like 20 degrees colder than it is now.

But it could have been worse.

I remember the winter of 1995-1996, when we got more than 90 inches of snow, compacted into about two or three major snowstorms.

That was horrible. I was out of work, which made the whole thing even worse, but I also found a job in the middle of winter, too, the job that I am still at, 18 years later.

As a kid, you can't help but love the snow.

You take your sled out, find a hill, and shoot down it in reckless abandon. I know that I sure did.

As an adult, you hate the snow. It is a nuisance driving, you have to shovel, and it always comes at the wrong time.

So I wish this past winter season, at least, a hearty "goodbye" and hope for a much better spring season.

The weather is getting warmer, we haven't had any real snow in a few weeks, and heck, the ballplayers are getting ready in Florida and Arizona for another season, so that signals to me that the warm weather is right around the corner.

Good, because at this juncture, my bones ache, my allergies are killing me, and I am feeling much older than my 56 years.

And next month I gain a year, to boot, so heck, BRING ON THE WARMER WEATHER ALREADY!

Here comes summer ...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Rant #1,368: Way Down Payment



Yesterday was a pretty auspicious anniversary--sort of--and I can kind of kick myself for missing it.

On March 19, 1957, a young man put a down payment on his house.

Oh, sure, a million young men probably did just that on that day, but one of them made his home into one of the most popular destinations in the U.S.

That guy was Elvis Presley, and as legend has it, he put down $1,000 on a home that then cost the astronomical sum of $102,000.

That home became known as Graceland, and it certainly is one of the most popular stops in the southern part of this country.

I am an Elvis fan to a certain degree.

I love his early stuff, and a lot of his later stuff, too, but that early stuff set the tone for rock and roll.

He wasn't Little Richard, he wasn't Chuck Berry and he wasn't Jerry Lee Lewis.

He had a more refined (than those other guys, at least), almost angelic aura around him, and while those guys were the real pioneers of this type of music, Elvis really brought it to the masses, and made it acceptable to most people.



Sure, his hip swinging was looked down by many people--remember, he got shot only from the stomach up in his early TV appearances--but he really made rock and roll palatable to the general public.

And Graceland was supposed to be his refuge, the place that, like any man, he could go after work to be himself, be a husband to his wife, Priscilla, and to be a father to his daughter, Lisa Marie.

Of course, we all know that that did not work itself out quite the way he might have planned it. The place became Elvis' prison, and he died there all hopped up on drugs and probably not the happiest guy in the world.

But Graceland has lived on, and will live on. It is popular tourist attraction in Memphis, and millions flock there every year.

It is open to the public for tours, and although I have never been there, it looks like it might be a fun place to spend a day or two.

I wasn't born when he put down that down payment--my parents' little dividend would come into the world about five and a half weeks later--but I liked Elvis and his music, didn't love it, but liked it and respected it for what it was.

Sure, much of his output after I came into this world was schlocky, but he continued to be popular, even with the coming of the Beatles.



When he died, he was in the midst of a major comeback, had a hit single on the charts--"Way Down"--which was propelling his LP, "Moody Blue" to the upper reaches of the charts.

You can say what you want about Elvis, but he kept pushing until his dying day.

And he did it all from his Graceland base, the house that really never became the true home that Elvis had hoped it would be.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Rant #1,367: Phil D. Basket



If you grew up in New York City in the 1960s, "Phil D. Basket" was one of the most clever public service commercials of the time.

It spoke about cleaning up after yourself, throwing away garbage and being clean about it.

Do not litter, as the commercials said. Phil D. Basket .... get it?

I looked on YouTube for this commercial, but no, YouTube does not have everything, and I could not find this anywhere, not even an image.

Well, there is a current Phil D. Basket, but it has very little to do with litter, unless you consider to be garbage the performance of the professional basketball team he is going to lead.

Many do.

The New York Knicks, who have had an absolutely horrid season, have signed Phil Jackson as its president.

I know that to the outside world, this means absolutely nothing, but in the world of the NBA, and in my world, this means quite a bit.

The Knicks have probably been the worst run franchise in professional sports history, and this has gone on for decades since their heyday in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

They spend money like it is water on players who aren't worth it, and they have what you can term a losing culture there.

They fill up Madison Square Garden night in and night out corporate types who wouldn't know a basketball from a volleyball.

It is a losing culture, and has been, except for brief spurts, since the Knicks started with the dawn of the NBA in 1948.

Bringing Jackson in hopes to turn that whole thing around.

Jackson began his playing career with the Knicks, and was a member of their lone two championship teams.

Using whatever talent he had, and his smarts, he lasted a number of years as a player in the league, and then moved into coaching.

He paid his dues. He coached in the old CBA, leading the Albany Patroons to two championships in that league.

Then he became an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls, gravitated to the coaching position, and led them to one championship after another.

He moved onto the Los Angeles Lakers, and the same thing happened.

He has more championship rings than many women have earrings.

The Hall of Famer has been out of the league for a few years, but a guy like this can't sit still very long, and the Knicks snatched him when they need him most.

This was supposed to be a big year for the Knicks. They were supposed to compete for the championship this season.

But, starting with star player Carmelo Anthony opening his mouth and telling the world that he would opt for free agency after the season, this season has gone sour from just about the beginning.

The Knicks have a losing record, they probably will not make the playoffs, and the press here, and the fans, have questioned the integrity of the team through a rash of injuries and bad coaching.

Coach Mike Woodson is probably in his final days in that capacity, and even his own players have questioned him and what he has done.

One player, Raymond Felton, has worse things to worry about, as gun possession charges against him are pending.

The Knicks are bad, but they have currently won six games in a row as they at least make the last few weeks of the season interesting, for what might have been.

Now they have Jackson in tow, looking to the future, to what might be.

As a fan, I am perturbed at the season, but unlike some, I don't look at Jackson as a miracle worker.

It will take a lot of time to fix this organization, and he is signed for five years, and it might take that amount of time, and then some, to bring a positive, winning attitude to a team that always seems to be more of a sideshow than anything else.

I wish him well, but he is being paid well to make this moribund franchise vital again.

Can he do it?

Never having been a "suit" before, it is hard to tell, but I guess this puts the Knicks in the right direction.

There are so many things wrong with this franchise that he has a lot on his plate, but I guess they signed the right guy to fix it.

Personally, in the situation the team is in, they have a real long way to go, but I guess that Jackson is the right guy for the job.

A modern day Phil D. Basket for sure.

(And for the skeptical, including myself, watch and listen to the enclosed clip that I have provided. Keith Olbermann really goes at this whole thing, and it is pretty funny--and true. We Knicks fans have a reason to look at this as just another ho hum Knicks moment, and personally, I hope we are wrong.)

Rant #1,366: Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On



Yesterday, Los Angeles had a minor earthquake, or major, depending on whether you are there or are where I am.

California had not broken off from the rest of the continental United States, so I guess they will survive this one, as they have survived the other numbers of shakers they've received over the past x amount of years.

Admittedly, earthquakes are not funny things, but if you live in California, you have to be prepared for them every once in a while.

Johnny Carson used to talk about them all the time on "The Tonight Show." They became fodder for jokes on that show for decades, as ubiquitous as the famous Slawson Cutoff.

We had a very mild earthquake sometime during 2012, I think it was, in my neck of the woods.

It happened during lunchtime while I was at work, shook us for a second or two, and that was that.

Since it was such a rare occurrence, we heard about it on the news for days and days.

But that is my only experience with an earthquake. I am sure my counterparts in California have many, many, many more stories about their own encounters with the shakes.

Let it stay over there. Once was enough for me.

We have had other situations here--like nor'easters and hurricanes--that quite frankly scared the heck out of me.

We don't need earthquakes to give us something else to worry about.

Earthquakes have been so ubiquitous on the West Coast that there have been songs written about them, and I posted one that I remember at the end of this Rant.

That's how commonplace they are 3,000 miles away from where I am.

And hopefully, that is where they'll stay.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Rant #1,365: Last Laugh



In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the weekend, many of you might have missed the Obituary section this weekend.

There was one passing that I really did a double-take on.

Comedian David Brenner died after losing his bout with cancer.

He was 78, and this is the thing that got me, his age.

He was one of the young lions of comedy that came up in the early 1970s, guys like Robert Klein and David Steinberg.

They were the next wave of comics, looked at life a different way than their more staid comedic brothers, had longer hair, wore chains as opposed to ties around their necks, and due to shows like "The Tonight Show," became household names for quite a spell.

I just didn't realize that Brenner, a native of Philadelphia and one more in the long line of Jewish comics, was older than most of his contemporaries when he hit it big. Heck, he was just five years younger than my parents.

Brenner was a popular comic, but I don't think he had the cache of many of his peers, from Klein to Jay Leno. He didn't have that one standout schtick that made him instantly recognizable, even though through the early 1990s, he was as ubiquitous on television as any comedian of the day.

He also had his cable TV specials, but I don't think he embraced that as much as a Robert Klein or George Carlin did.

Brenner was a true comic, but he seemed to be the one out of that group who had one foot in the old type of comedy--the really funny, just everyday type of stuff, and the new, where he wanted you to laugh as well as think.

His comedy started to take a nosedive on television, at least, when he made headlines by a protracted battle to win custody of his son.

If I remember correctly, he had had a relationship with a woman, she became pregnant, had the child, but refused Brenner's desire to be a father to his kid.

She was into drugs and that sort of lifestyle, and after years of battles that made headlines, he came out the victor.

At the time of his death, he had married another woman, and I believe that he had children with her.

Even though that battle was very public, his other family was very low-profile, which I think was a situation he desired after the nonsense he went through on a public stage about his first child.

Anyway, Brenner was still all over the place to his dying day.

Although his type of more cerebral comedy was somewhat passe--heck, you don't have to think much when comedy is splattered with more four-letter words than clean words --he was still pretty ubiquitous in just about all media.

You would often hear him on Mark Simone's old "Saturday Night Oldies" show on WABC, and he was still doing standup and appearing on several of cable's political and news channels here and there.

That is why when I opened up the paper on Saturday--a truly dead day for newspapers during the week--I was really startled to hear of his death, and in particular, his age when he passed.

R.I.P., and just know this guy is making people laugh--and think--where he is now.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Rant #1,364: The Countdown Begins



We received a letter in the mail from my son's high school yesterday that really signaled the fact that the countdown to his graduation has started.

It had to do with caps and gowns, and that he had to pay for them later this month.

We had to measure his head size and we had to weigh him because he needs to be fitted properly.

Graduation time is approaching, and for my son, this is really it for him.

He has a learning disability, so he won't be going to college, at least not right now.

He has done as well as he could with his high school courses. He has managed to pass them all, probably a lot of the time through the good graces of his teachers, who quantify his passing not necessarily by test scores, but by preparedness and effort.

He has taken numerous courses to help get him ready for life after high school, and he seems ready to go out into the world and begin to start his career.

He has a great resume, having worked as a volunteer counselor at a summer program run by the school district for two years, and he actually made some money last year working for a summer camp.

He is a good kid, but like most of us at that age, he is bright eyed and bushy tailed, and not that knowledgeable about the outside world.

But my wife and I are very proud of him for that level that he is about the reach, against all odds.

I was equally proud of my daughter when she graduated high school, and later college, and now, as a member of the workforce.

She had some obstacles of her own to jump over, but she did what she had to do and did it well.

But this appears to be it educationally for my son, who will further his education on the job, whatever that job is.

So when we received the material in the mail for his cap and gown, it gave us time to pause and think about his 18 years, and the strides he has made to leap over his disability and make something of himself.

That road is still full of lots of hurdles, but he has done pretty well this far, and I have no reason to think he can't continue to defy the odds.

We will really know that "this is it" when his yearbook comes. Funny, that didn't have the weight that the cap and gown thing did, because we paid for the yearbook months ago.

But when he finally gets that, well, that will really be it.

And then, graduation, and finally, he will be out in the wide blue yonder.

I just hope the road ahead is a good and fair one for him, and that he makes his way as seamlessly as he can.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Rant #1,363: Spoiled Brat



What the heck is going on in New Jersey lately?
 
First, we have those two realtors I talked about yesterday, who were using a house they were supposed to be selling as their own pleasure pad.
 
Now we have the story about a New Jersey honor student who sued her parents to support her after she moved out of their home.
 
She has now reunited with her parents, and the family is now asking for privacy.
 
Yeah, right.
 
This was probably one of the dumbest lawsuits I could ever remember, as the daughter was suing her parents for everything from school tuition to overall child support.

She claimed that her parents were abusive, even having the audacity to force her to take a basketball scholarship.

They also disapproved of her boyfriend, who they thought was a bad influence on her, and didn't like the fact that she was starting to abuse alcohol.

If this all sounds like a typical parent-teenager confrontation, well, it pretty much was.

The only wrinkle to this nonsense was that the girl was living with a family where the husband instigated the lawsuit.

First of all, that lawyer should face some punishment himself for foisting this nonsense on the court. It cluttered up a court system that has too many cases on its dockets to begin with, and he should know better.

Second, if this thing got so out of hand, it should have been handled with mediation, not in a courtroom.

According to the girl's attorney, the notoriety of this case "had damaged the family."

And what about the launching of such a suit? Didn't this idiot lawyer think about that when he filed the suit?

Frankly, this kid sounds like a snooty, snotty spoiled brat that is simply reacting to her parents telling her "no" for probably the first time in her life.

She goes to a snooty private high school, lives in a snooty rich town, and was never taught what the word "no" means.

Well now, I hope that she knows what it means.

Evidently, the girl and her parents have settled this "amicably," a word that I have learned in my personal life to be the phoniest word in the English language.

There is no such thing as an "amicable" disagreement or an "amicable" divorce.

Somebody gets hurt by these things, so how can things be "amicable?"

If things were "amicable," there wouldn't be these types of disagreements and everything would be hunky dory, right?

However, in this particular case, the court system is not immune to being stupid, and I am not going to let them get off the hook.

Why they let this case proceed to the point that it did is beyond me. It should have been thrown out at the earliest instance.

And now, the court has extended this nonsense, as while the judge in the case threw out the girl's claims that her parents not only owed her school tuition but full child support, he is still scheduled an April court date to consider the question about whether her parents are financially obligated to support their adult daughter.

What the court should do is to refer this entire case out of the court setting and to some type of mediator, but even that will bring this case to a level that it should never have been brought to.

The girl is in need of some psychological counseling, and the parents don't exactly sound like winners either. I mean, why were they so indulgent to her throughout her life? Maybe they don't know what the word "no" means, either.

However, let's say my son asks for a new computer, which he actually has done already.

Let's say I tell him no, I can't give it to him.

Can he take me to court?

He is 18, will be 19 in August. In some states, he is already considered an adult.

Happily, in my case, that won't happen, because he knows what the word "no" means.

Funny, such a little word has such a big meaning, and I find it totally incredible that that word, or the complete lack of understanding about its meaning, gets so many people in so much trouble.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rant #1,362: Hot Real Estate

OK, I don't know where that plane went either.

Maybe because of global warming, the Bermuda Triangle has shifted, and it went into there, never to be seen or heard from again.

But that isn't the top story of the day, not by a long shot.

Today's top story took place in New Jersey.



A married couple, Richard and Sandra Weiner, are suing two real estate agents, Robert Lindsay and Jeannemarie Phelan (both pictured here), as well as their broker, Coldwell Banker, because they claim the agents intentionally overpriced their home so they could use it as, now get this, "a play pad to have sexual relations."



But the Weiners are no dummies. Their home has surveillance cameras all around, and yes, film footage from these cameras show that Lindsay and Phelan had sexual relations throughout the house numerous times from December 2011 through January 2012.

After watching the footage, the married couple claim they were "uncomfortable and disgusted" even being in the house they once called their home.

And yes, there is a countersuit by Lindsay, believe it or not, against the Weiners. He says they tried to get $1 million out of him in return for the sex tapes.

So if Lindsay is launching such a countersuit, then the trysts actually happened, he and his lady are guilty, but of course, they have to go through the court system first.

Of course, my first question is, why did it take so long for the Weiners--no relation to Anthony Weiner, I hope--to file this lawsuit?

Was there so much footage of the amorous pair that it took them more than two years to watch everything?

My second question is, why couldn't the amorous couple have found a motel room to do their thing in? Why this home?

And since when is the sex more important then the money for real estate brokers?

I worked in a real estate office for several years early in my career, and covered the business later on as a writer.

Money is No. 1 with these people, as I guess it should be. If they overpriced the home, who was going to take it anyway? Did they feel that they would find some sucker to take the overpriced house, and their "pre-commission commission" was several rolls in the hay?

And again, why did the Weiners wait so long to file the suit? Maybe they tried to get a settlement from Coldwell Banker, it did not meet the amount that they wanted, so they decided to sue ...

And if that is true, with the suit and countersuit, then everyone involved involved here is prostituting himself or herself in a crazy sort of way.

But on the other hand, if people you trusted to sell your house were actually using it as their own sex den, you would probably feel as violated as the Weiners do.

This is another one of those cases where we have only heard a kernel of what was really going on, and we might or might not hear the rest.

And maybe that's for the better.

Real estate agents overstepping their boundaries and having sex in a home that they were supposedly trying to sell ... what a concept!

It would probably make for a great TV movie on Lifetime, or to the extreme, maybe the next great porn film.

Nah, I am sure the latter has been done already, and maybe the former too.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Rant #1,361: Happy Birthday, Mom!



Today is my mother's birthday.

She is 83 years young today.

I cannot believe that she is that age.

She has the get up and go that puts others to shame. With her inner resilience, you would swear that she is about a third of her real age.

Yes, she puts younger people to shame.

She is the matriarch of our family, and she pushes the patriarch, my father, to do things.

If it wasn't for her, he wouldn't do much of anything, other than work a few days a week.

He likes to sit and watch TV.

My mother cannot sit still.

And that has been the secret of their marriage of 58 years; opposites attract, they really do.

My mother is about eight and a half months older than my father. My father always says he married an older woman. I followed in his footsteps--my wife has me by about five and a half months--and it worked for him, and it worked for me.

Anyway, back to my mother ...

In grade school, she studied my spelling words with me so I would do well in my spelling tests.

In high school, she studied Spanish with me every day so I would do well on my Spanish regents.

In college, she studied various subjects with me, some of which she really didn't understand, so I would get my bachelor's degree.

In graduate school, she studied Shakespeare with me so I would get my master's degree.

She helped me along from day one in areas that you couldn't ever imagine.

She did things I didn't understand, too.

When I was a little kid, she had me take off much of my clothes in the hallway, because I was so full of dirt from playing outside that she didn't want any of it in the apartment.

She made me take off my shoes before I entered the apartment, too, all the time. And had my friends do it, yet.

She used to get angry when I would slam the door, which I still do.

She washed my mouth out with soap when kids taught me filthy language, and I said something raunchy to her (I was too young to even understand what I was saying).

And when she screams "Lawrence!," I still cringe to this day. I know I am in lots of trouble.

But all in all, she has been not only my mother, but to me, the best mom that this guy could have ever had.

Thanks mom. I hope I turned out OK.

Happy birthday, and many, many more.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Rant #1,360: Vital Gore



My family and I had a pretty standard weekend, which means we went food shopping and didn't do much else ... sort of.

My son and I did get new suits for an upcoming wedding that we will be going to, but we did do something else that we hadn't done in months.

We went to the movies.

The movies used to be a common occurrence with my family. We used to go all the time, probably at least twice a month.

However, as I am sure you know from your own personal experiences, the movies have become a bit of a financial problem in recent times.

The prices per ticket are outrageous, and let's be honest about it, most of today's films are pure garbage anyway.

If you must see a movie, you can wait for it to come on one of the movie channels or "on demand," as they say.



So we ventured off yesterday to the movies for the first time in I would say maybe six months to see "300: Rise of An Empire," the second installment of the "300" series of movies.

The first one came out seven years ago, and we saw that one too, and enjoyed it for all of its glorified violence, so we figured we might like this one too.

And we did.

The story isn't really that important. In a film like this, you have to rate it by the gore factor, and this movie earned, on a scale of one to 10, a gore factor of about 25.

I have never seen so many heads chopped off in one film, so much blood spattered all over the place, so many swords go into bodies--and come out the other side--as in this film.

And all in 3D.



And this is not an all-male macho gorefest. Eva Green steals the entire show as the main protagonist, and she goes out, and chops off some heads too.

And then she gets harpooned herself.

She also has the most unerotic love scene I have ever seen in my life, where she tries to upstage her lover by a series of heaves that wouldn't turn on a strung-out nymphomaniac.

So it was blood, blood, and more blood everywhere, which we pretty much expected, anyway.

It was violence for violence's sake, and it worked very well.

What didn't work as well was the dent it made in my wallet.

And this is why we don't go to the movies more than a handful of times a year.

It cost me a total of $42--$14 a head--to see this film in 3D.

Sure, we could have saved a bundle by simply seeing it in 2D, but a film like this begs to be seen in 3D, with all the chopping and blood spattering all over the place.

So we splurged.

I simply said that we hadn't been to the theater in six months, we should see the movie in 3D.

Maybe that is stupid thinking, but that is how I justified paying such a price for the film.

And then they want the 3D glasses back yet!

There are a few more movies I am sure we will see this year, but even though we enjoyed the movie, I can't justify the expenditure of such a price to see a movie each and every time we decide to go.

And that is really why we don't go more often.

Heck, I don't know how young kids go out on dates in this day and age.

It is just so expensive. A first date has to cost the payer about $50.

When I was a kid, I never had that type of money in my wallet.

And as an adult, I guess I don't have that either.

Not after yesterday's movie, anyway.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Rant #1,359: The Big Game Show In the Sky




We lost another of the classic TV game show hosts this week.

Geoff Edwards, host of many game shows including “Treasure Hunt,” died this week at age 83.

Edwards hosted many, many game shows during his time on television, but unlike Jim Lange, who passed a week earlier, he wasn’t clearly associated with just one single game show.

And honestly, most of his game shows were relative flops.

But he made a name for himself on TV and on radio, particularly in California, where he was probably better known as a DJ and radio personality than as a TV game show host.

One remarkable fact that I found out about Edwards was that he was in the building when Lee Harvey Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby right after the JFK assassination in November 1963.

Edwards was one of the eyewitnesses that was interviewed about what he saw there.

Although many of his game shows were pretty much forgotten, Edwards made his mark more for the way he looked than for the shows themselves.

He was something of a trendsetter, breaking the mold of the staid game show host with a suit and tie and perfectly coiffed hair.

He wore jackets without ties, wore very visible chains around his neck, and his hair was fairly out of control.

That was certainly not the norm for a game show host of the time, but he played the period he was in very well.

In later years, he became a travel writer and blogger, but he will always be the answer to a pretty good trivia question:

Who subbed for Monty Hall on “Let’s Make a Deal” for a week while Hall suffered from laryngitis during the height of that program’s popularity?

It was Edwards, the sort of "Jack of all Trades" TV game show host who never really had a super popular show to be linked to, but was ubiquitous on television for decades.

R.I.P. Geoff, and since I hate ties, you are one of my heroes.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Rant #1,358: Judy



I am sure you must have seen, or at least heard about, the tribute that the Academy of Motion Pictures gave to the movie "The Wizard of Oz" on this past Sunday's telecast of the Oscars.

It was lamer than the Scarecrow that Dorothy found while searching for the Yellow Brick Road, I can tell you that.

Whoopi Goldberg started the thing off promisingly, saying that us older people could only see the movie once a year on TV.

Of course, she was only partly right. The film was rereleased in theaters dozens of times during that pre-video period, so you could probably see the film two times a year or more if you really wanted to.

Anyway, Pink's rendition of "Over the Rainbow" was lame. I don't even know what she was singing initially, but it wasn't "Over the Rainbow."

And Judy's kids were introduced, but since one of them is Liza Minnelli, an Oscar winner herself who has not aged very well, you would think they would have given the three of them--including Lorna Luft and Joey Luft--a little more air time.

In fact, host Ellen DeGeneres kind of made fun of Liza at the beginning, and it kind of set the tone for the night.

Anyway, getting to my point, on Tuesday nights, there generally isn't anything on that my wife and I want to watch, so we usually try to find something to keep us occupied before we conk out.

This week, we decided to make it a Judy Garland spectacular, and with our Google Chromecast working overtime, we found a couple of interesting things to watch on YouTube that kind of highlighted who Judy Garland was and what made her tick--and what made the ticking stop so early, too.

We watched one or two documentaries on Garland, and they all said the same thing--pills, pills and more pills.

One interesting revelation is that while it it widely thought that MGM started dispensing these pills to Garland so that she would be able to get up and do her thing, it actually started with her mother, a show biz mother from hell.

And she wasn't the only person on the MGM lot taking these pills. Mickey Rooney, their biggest male star at the time, was taking them too.

But he survived, she didn't.

The documentaries--one from the BBC, another from a segment on "60 Minutes"--brought out that she was frail to begin with, and being literally pelted with fame brought out the worst in her at times.

But she was a loving mother, according to her kids, although her way with money--she had lots stolen from her, and she also crapped away a lot of it herself--would have child protection coming after her in this day and age, as the family moved from one hotel to another living on favors. Once the favors ran out, they were on the move again.

She was broke.

We watched a few entertainment programs with Garland too.



One was when she was on "The Dick Cavett Show." Although she appeared to be inebriated and way older than her 49 years at the time, this was probably one of the last TV appearances that she ever made, as she died of an overdose of pills a few months later.

She looked frail, looked like she was about 75 if not 80, and rambled about on many subjects. Cavett kept the thing going, tried to steer her the right way, and coaxed her to sing, which sounded phony, as if there was no plan for her to do that.

But the orchestra performed on key, and so did Judy, singing a song that was horrid but that she said she liked.

Then we watched another TV show, where she was in seemingly better health and form, on "The Hollywood Palace."

For those that don't remember this show, this was a fairly good rip-off of "The Ed Sullivan Show," West Coast style.

It had basically the same format as the Sullivan show, with a gaggle of different performers doing what they do.

The difference is that unlike Sullivan, the hosts were actual performers, and did their thing as part of their hosting duties of the show.

Garland seemed to be straight on this one, no pills, no alcohol, and she belted out a few tunes as she introduced one act after another, including a family balancing act and a comic who wasn't that funny.

The weak lineup of acts was probably done on purpose, because quite frankly, she was the show.

When this lady was on, she was on, and she was on on this program.

After about three hours of this Garlandpalooza, we called it a night, and went to sleep.

Look, I have never been a real, true fan of Garland, nor of her kids. I go along for the ride with my wife, who is a huge fan, and the ride has been an interesting one.

We have seen Minnelli many, many times in concert, and even under her worst personal circumstances, she gives it 110 percent.

We have also seen Lorna live, and while not as talented as her sister, she has a certain something that is attractive, and you can definitely see the Garland pedigree in her.

I never saw Garland live, but based on her TV appearances, those shows must have been something else.

So as basically an observer looking in, these people were/are true performers, with real talent, not like today's wannabees.

By the way, the previous Tuesday, my wife and I went through a Liza extravaganza, which simply wasn't as interesting, to me, as the Garland one.

Is next a Lorna night? I don't know, although I doubt we will find as many interesting bits of video on YouTube to support such a suggestion.

 

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