Archive for December, 2009

Countdown Has Begun – CDHB

December 30, 2009

Yes, it does look like I’ve grown into those ears. I’m ticking off the hours until the end of today and my New Year’s celebration will officially begin. Hooray.

Last night’s dinner for Ariel’s father’s 80th birthday celebration at Tony Da Caneca in Newark’s Ironbound section was a success. Our party of 13 had its own room until the restaurant began to fill up and with “permission” from Ariel, the maitre d’ sat another table in with us, off to the side. How could we possibly tell the restaurant not to allow people to eat? Appetizers and dinner were all fine–some a little on the salty side–and the cake came from Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken, the subject of The Learning Channel’s show, The Cake Boss. Juan, Baby Rita’s boyfriend knows Buddy, the owner for about 18 years. The day he and Baby Rita first went to order the cake, filming for the show was taking place and they had to return the next day.

I nearly missed my train, but my Yellow Cab driver didn’t let me down. He got to me a little later than I was told and I began to panic that I’d get to the station too late and after dodging out of the driveway (no easy feat, you know that!), he got a call to pick up another fare going to the train. He asked if I minded and I said as long as I get the 4:30, he could do what he wanted. When the next fare was tardy getting out of the house, my driver called dispatch and told them he was going to leave, he had his “steady” he had to get to the train. That’s the second time in two trips I was referred to as their “steady”. Long and short, I made my train.

So, as this year fades into oblivion, I’m still not published. As a matter of fact, my rejections have risen to a new level: no responses at all to my queries. Well, screw them. Once I get book number two finished, which I’ll be working on after the new year begins, I’ll get that cleaned up and try to shop that around for a while and then I’ll seriously consider self-publishing for both.

2009 certainly was the tabloid year, wasn’t it? And poor Farrah, she couldn’t get the public mourning she should have because Michael Jackson had to go and die on the same day and steal the spotlight. No one could make a move without it showing up on YouTube (thankfully for me) or someone tweeting about it. And Facebook brought me closer to a whole collection of “friends”, most of whom don’t even know I exist. But, then again, I have friends in real life who feel the same way.

One more thing before I send you into video-apalooza land (to help recap 2009). Take a look at this side by side.

 

Just sayin’.  But notice how the chance of precipitation has risen from 40 to 60% and the foul weather has been extended by a day. It looks like we’re kicking 2010 off in good form.

So, I wish all my readers and happy, healthy and prosperous 2010 and I’ll see you back here next year.

 

I Don’t Have A Title For This Blog

December 29, 2009

Perfect timing. This is the last of my baby pictures and this is the last Baby Picture Monday of the year. I hadn’t planned it that way, it just happens that’s how it worked out. Actually, there is one, well, two more pictures in that stash I came across; one is my high school year book picture and one is my cap and gown picture, but they’re not really baby pictures in that sense, but they were taken when I was 17, during the summer before my senior year. Maybe one day next year I’ll put those up, if you beg me enough to see them. In the meantime, this is me at 7. I think I finally grew into those ears.  (What the hell? ) At least I’d like to think I did.

Yesterday I heard of an intriguing story that I learned was already about a year old only to find the story was first broadcast on the news in 2004. It concerns a young boy by the name of James Leininger whose parents were convinced was reincarnated from fallen WWII fighter pilot James Huston Jr. From a young age, James Leininger was consumed with airplanes until one night they began to give him nightmares. He would wake up screaming and would tell his mother, Andrea, “Airplane crash on fire, little man can’t get out.” Another time, Andrea bought her son a toy airplane and pointed out something on the underside that looked like a bomb, but the boy corrected her, telling her it was a drop tank. The family maintained the youngster’s television viewing habits were only children’s shows and that no conversations about military history took place in the house, nor were documentaries watched on television. On advisement from a therapist, as the boy shared his “memories” with his parents his worsened nightmares became less severe and less frequent yet he was becoming more articulate about his “past” and most of his recollections came at bedtime when he would be drowsy.

Among young James’ remembrances were that of his plane having been hit by the Japanese and he crashed, that he flew a Corsair and that it always had flat tires. He also noted the name of the boat he took off from, Natoma, and the name of someone he flew with, Jack Larson. After some research, Natoma and Larson turned out to be factual. Young James also said he was shot down at Iwo Jima and his crayon drawings would be signed “James 3”. Bruce Leininger, the boy’s father, learned there was only one pilot killed at Iwo Jima–James M Huston Jr.

The late pilot’s sister, Anne Barron, was contacted by the Leiningers and she, too, was convinced of the phenomenon, as there was no way the young boy could have otherwise known the things he spoke of. She gifted young James with a bust of George Washington and a model of a Corsair aircraft, effects of her late brother’s that was sent home after the war. Perhaps the pilot’s mission in the afterlife has been carried out; telling what happened, because the boys vivid recollections are beginning to fade as he gets older.

Upstart Miley Cyrus is now condemning Angelina Jolie and Madonna for allowing their children to be on camera all the time. Hmm, Miley “Hannah Montana” Cyrus’s television career began at the age of 9, had recently pole danced atop an ice cream cart (it was art) and gotten tattooed (in memory of her friend who died of cystic fibrosis). Oh, but wait, the worldly 17 year old hasn’t had any children of her own yet to be so judgmental, not that she has a right to be shooting off her mouth given she’s a child star purposely in the public eye.

How to store your baby walker: First remove baby.

Looks like rabbit ears are making a comeback and more than 13 million American households watch TV the old fashioned way, and for FREE. Apparently, dozens of channels are available. This new antenna, which can range in price from about $5 to nearly $200 (depending on the its complexity) also needs the help of a TV that can process a digital signal and if it’s an older set, a converter needs to be installed. So, it’s kind of like going “digital” in reverse. It’s a one time charge as opposed to a monthly one and if Turner Classic Movies would be available through an antenna, I’d almost consider it. Hmm, but maybe I’d be able to find a rerun of I Love Lucy, which is nowhere to be seen on any of the I don’t even know how many channels I have on my cable. But I’ve got all The Golden Girls I could ever want–8 hours a day on the Hallmark Channel alone!

Braille Dictionary.  Must see to appreciate.

As part of the new flying safety regulations since the recent (failed) terrorist bombing attempt, passengers cannot get out of their seats durinig the last hour of their flight. Nor can they hold anything in their laps. Nor reach for anything in the overhead compartments. Really? Will that help? Well, first of all, if everything was screened and assumingly correctly to ensure nothing of any consequence got on the plane (which is the bigger issue here) why can’t a passenger continue reading his book or magazine, or keep his chilled legs warmed with a blanket? Utterly ridiculous. If there’s going to be security checks, then check EVERYONE and EVERYTHING. The last time we flew, my carry on bag was rifled through and tossed aside, leaving me to have to repack it (not an easy task when you’re being pushed and shoved by others in a hurry), my pants nearly falling to the floor because I had to remove my belt. Then I would have been arrested for indecent exposure. My mother, who was being carted around in a wheelchair (for swifter mobility through the airport) had to be searched. Ariel, with his belt firmly around his waist, went through, without so much as anyone looking into his bag.

This will make us all feel better. It was announced yesterday that with or without Simon Cowell, post 2010, the show will go on. Fox TV is putting the finishing touches on a deal to keep American Idol on beyond the end of its contractual run in 2011.

Today the exterminator is coming to see what they can do about our stink bug problem. Ordinarily I would be squeamish in admitting I have a “bug” problem, but everyone I talk to is in the same situation and they’re not going away. The only thing is, I thought they were coming yesterday. I called them to see if they could come on Thursday, hopefully before we went to Newark but the time window they gave me would be cutting it too close and they had nothing on Saturday and I’m this certain I repeated out loud so Ariel could hear it when they told me it would be Monday. Four hours after they should have been here, I called and was assured it was set for today. Same time frame. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Who cares, just get rid of my bugs.

One Down…

December 28, 2009

One to go. Christmas 2009…touched! It was a good Christmas. And white. From the leftover snow from the storm the weekend before, which is all gone now from the rain we had this weekend. Christmas Eve, of course, was spent at Ariel’s parents’ house with the customary roast pig and all the warmed over pig skin I could get my hands on before it was turned into cracklins for the rest of the group. Christmas morning was spent here, starting with a pancake and egg breakfast, opening gifts, then going to see “Sherlock Holmes” which did about $10M less than the movie “Avatar” as it turns out. Then back home for dinner and when Sue came over after she was finished at her family’s, opened more presents and stockings.

Saturday the rain came and washed away the snow that was left, just in time to make way for the wintry mix we’re due today.

We went to a Christmas garbage luncheon party yesterday and I am not the proud owner of a bathroom wench, a stuffed bespectacled bonnet wearing old hag riding a miniature bathroom plunger. The rules of the game are simple; each consecutive guest takes a gift from under the tree, or from someone before him who managed to get something not so horrendous. Then the person whose gift was taken from him gets to chose another from under the tree. The 60th anniversary silver slinky seemed to be the popular item and it changed hands, including mine, 5 times. When it was taken from me, I had to choose another gift and the soft billowy package intrigued me and it turned out to be Hanna The Bathroom Wench, and of course, no one else wanted it. Ariel also walked away with the big door prize; a huge assortment of chocolates; cookies, candies, hot chocolate, things like that. It came at the right time, too. Today is National Chocolate Day and Card Playing Day.

Speaking of wintry mix, I haven’t had the opportunity to show you lately that we still haven’t lost our touch. Reservations for New Year’s Eve are firmly in place, tickets for the final judging of the Mummer’s Fancy Brigade at the Philadelphia Convention Center are in our possession and you know what they say, what you do on New Year’s Eve carries through all year. That’s why you shouldn’t eat chicken that night so you won’t be scratching for food during the coming year. Well, take a look!

The one thing we know for sure is that the Mummer’s don’t parade in inclement weather and if they don’t march, will there be that judging. So, this event may not get off the ground but we’ll see. New Year’s is not for 4 days yet but at least it won’t keep us from ringing in the New Year.

Also this weekend we gave the start of the next McGinty chapter the once over and that looks like it will be all set to launch on 1/11/10 and a slightly new design to the website homepage will make it’s debut next week.

Don’t fly if you don’t have to. 

Hold Your Horses. It’s Christmas!

December 23, 2009

Do you remember the item I told you a year ago at this time about the two men, Art Hebel and Bill Nichols who were boyhood friends whose only communication through the years, since 1949, was the same Christmas card they would send back and forth to each other? Well, I was hoping there would be a follow up to that story for this year, but, alas, there isn’t. So, I’m going to use my imagination and say the card made another trip through the mail to it’s rebound recipient.

While we’re on the subject of Christmas cards, and, you know, no holiday would be complete if I didn’t offer some historical background on it. Sir Henry Cole, who worked for the British Postal Service back in 1843 was the creator of the first Christmas card. He hired an artist to create three scenes for it. In the center a family sat around the dinner table. On the left, the hungry were being fed and on the right, the impoverished were being clothed. And the greeting “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you” was written on it. Yeah, he was the creator…right. And he doesn’t even mention the artist’s name. That’s a nice charitable Christmastime how-do-you-do!

And mistletoe has several stories of origin. The Celts believed mistletoe was a charm to ward off the fear of thunder and lightning. The Norse believed the plant was a symbol of peace; Battling warriors who met under its green leaves would not fight and warring couples would kiss and make up. Other European cultures believed it aided in fertility and acted as an aphrodisiac, which explains why peeps become so smitten under it. Peeps? Those marshmallowy little chickens? What?

What do you do when you fall off a horse? You get back on. What do you do when a horse falls? Eat chicken.  Horse is a traditional dish in France and has been, according to some historians, since about 1807 during the Battle of Eylau, when the chief surgeon of Napoleon’s army advised famished soldiers to feast on fallen horses. It’s even said the cavalry used their breastplates to cook them in. But now, after years of animal rights activists’ campaigns, such as the poster from the Fondation Brigitte Bardot depicting a riding school horse, Caramel, being reflected in a knife blade. The group is going to continue until people stop eating horse. Last year, 15,820, with over 7,000 having been imported to France, were killed for their meat. But another reason horse is losing favor with French palates is the economy. Even though horsemeat is a relatively inexpensive meat, the financial crisis is driving more people to eat buy more chicken.

Well, that was a fun little Christmas story, wasn’t it?

I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph ~ Shirley Temple.

Something went wrong in jet crash, expert says.

I don’t think I’ll be blogging tomorrow, so let me take a minute to wish you all a very merry and joyous Christmas. I’ll be back on Monday with some nonsense or other and possibly to tell you whether Santa thought I was a good boy or not.

Before I put a wrap on this blog, I have two more things for you. The first is a video to a funny parody of a Christmas classic. Some of the images in the video may not go along with the lyrics, but it’s still funny nonetheless. And then click on the Christmas dog below that for something truly touching. My sister sent it to me and I had to share it with everyone.

(more…)

It’s Planely Ridiculous

December 22, 2009

Here’s one for you. Last night, on a news brief between television shows, there was an item that rather put our backs up. The government, just yesterday, ordered airlines to let passengers off planes that are delayed on the ground for more than three hours. They can’t hold passengers hostage with no food, water or bathroom facilities. Yes, it took the government, not the company to whom you pay through the nose to fly, to check in a second bag even…to pay for a friggin’ pillow to rest your head,  to realize that’s a no-no. Of course the airlines are poo-pooing (no pun intended) that idea because they say having to return a plane to a gate to avoid a significant fine would only cause more delays and would be inconsistent of achieving their goal of completing as many flights as possible. Oh, and by the way, as a sort of call back to yesterday’s blog, the three major airports in the New York area; Newark, JFK and LaGuardia are the country’s worst offenders for late departures, hence one more piece of the puzzle in the low stature on the happiness scale.

Whoops, before I forget, it’s Baby Picture Monday on Tuesday and that’s me at 5. Look at that thin-lipped smirk. There’s something going on in that head of mine, I can see it in my eyes. I have a feeling I was up to no good.

It’s not your eyes, Donna, I did put snow on the blog. Cool, no? It’s hard to see against the white background, but you can see it real well after a few seconds on the picture I put up yesterday of the big bush by the corner of the house and it looks like it’s still snowing.

Here’s a bit of a sad story and one I think has no chance of a positive outcome.  17 families want to dig through a closed Staten Island landfill because the ashes of the remains of their loved ones might be in there. A lawyer for the city of New York, Jim Tyrrell, urged a federal appeals court to leave the landfill alone, even if it does contain the ashes of 9/11 victims stating that “These ashes are undifferentiated dirt,” echoing the words of Judge Alvin Hellerstein, who, a year ago, when he ruled that the families had no standing to sue the city, argued that nearly 1,100 victims perished without leaving a trace, that they had been incinerated in the intense raging fires or pulverized into dust by the massive tons of collapsing concrete and steel. Normal Siegel, the lawyer for the 17 families argues that it’s “disrespectful to call it dirt when it’s remains.” He also pointed out the 223,000 tons of the material was never sifted. While work continues to identify the nearly 20,000 human remains that were uncovered, the families’ attorney says they want the material in the landfill moved to a another site where it can be properly buried. Faced with a civil action against the city, Judge Barrington Parker asked the attorney how the city could be considered to have shown a deliberate indifference in this horrible unprecedented situation. His answer: “Your loved ones on top of garbage. That’s the deliberate indifference” and continued his argument that this dirt could be used to fill a pothole. 

Of course it’s hard to say if I would feel differently all these years later had I suffered a loss of such magnitude, and I count my blessings I didn’t, but I think it’s best to abandon this crusade. I realize, for some, it’s a last ditch desperate attempt at closure (I hate that word with a passion) to this nightmare, but the endless, and probably fruitless searching would be even more devestating.

Finally, there is more  news on the Eric Williamson case, the man who was seen making coffee in the nude. He’s been found guilty of indecent exposure but the judge did not fine him or put him in jail. He maintains he had no intention of “exposing” himself at 5 o’clock in the morning to those who crossed his yard at that hour. A seven-person jury will rule on the propriety of Williamson’s domestic nudity in February. So, stay tuned.

Here are a few more pictures from the snow we had the other night, all thumbs. Click on them and they’ll open.

Everybody Happy?

December 21, 2009

What? Me not happy? I’m happy. Can’t you see it in my face? That’s happy! Oh, you, in the general sense, pertaining to us New Jersians. Results from a study published on December 17 of this year by Professor Andrew Oswald of the UK’s University of Warwick and Stephan Wu of Hamilton College in the US show an analyzed scale of happiness levels in the United States, by state, and including Washington, DC. Topping the list at number 1 is Louisiana, followed by Hawaii and Florida. Lagging at the bottom three are New Jersey, Connecticut and New York. Well, just in the regards of traffic alone I can see that. Trying to maneuver your way through the tri-state area is often nightmarish, especially around..any time.

While we’re looking at studies and lists, another number 1 is excessive laptop use as being the top cause of possible male infertility, because the heat it generates in a man’s “lap” is a killer, if you get my drift. So are hot tubs and briefs (as opposed to boxers). A guy should limit his intake of caffeine to no more than two cups of coffee per day. Uh, hmm, then what about the 6 cups he needs to avoid prostate cancer or type 2 diabetes? Uh oh,  and the avoidance of alcohol is also recommended. Well, the amount needed of beer (true, not the only alcoholic beverage) was never specified, that’s probably a good idea for numerous reasons. And practicing stress reduction techniques are suggested.  Well, considering the over population of the tri-state area, I would dare say more than a few people are finding ways to de-stress and I would think the happiness quotient in that case would be a bit higher.

This past Friday night, I thought I was down for the count and was going to be sick for Christmas, New Year’s and my 52nd  birthday. I met Ariel in Newark to have dinner with his niece and her boyfriend and on the way home, I got into a fit of sneezing. By the time we got in and settled into our red chairs, my head was a solid block of cement. The sneezing had subsided. I couldn’t breathe and I could barely keep my eyes open. In fact, I was hardly responsive at all. I drank  a cup of delicious ginger honey tea and before I knew it, it was  2am, when I woke up in my red chair. I felt a little better and in the morning it was as if the entire episode never happened.

Today is the first day of winter and did everyone survive the historic snowfall? The radio was saying it was going to be an historic snow fall. Well, at between 6 and 7 inches, it’s not that historic. But, Ariel told me it was historic for this time of year. Hmm, imagine, snow in winter. But that wasn’t it either. It was historic because it was an early snowfall. Well, it didn’t start here until about 2:30 or so, even though the radio had said it was going to start early in the morning. I know, I’m just kidding, but all the same, the question on everyone’s lips we encountered from the mall (we went because A: we wanted to witness all the mayhem of last minute shoppers and B: because we needed on more gift) to Costco, to even the very pretty waitress at  IHOP, with the pierced tongue and 1″ tunnel rings in her earlobes (now, what did she have to go and do that for?) was “where is the snow?” And oddly we saw a few cars caked in slush and ice and wondered where they were coming from but, around here there was  nothing. However, southern Jersey did end up with over 2 feet, so we really dodged a bullet with our meager 7 inches.

Ready for my dream, or should I say, nightmare of the week? It was Saturday night and this one’s short, thankfully. It was quick and it was frightening and when I got into detail about it the next morning, I began to tremble and tears came to my eyes like they did when I woke up screaming, “Help me, help me, get away from me!” I was following Ariel to the attic and when we got to the blue room, the room that’s just before the attic, he opened the door, went in, told me he’d be out in a minute and closed the door. The blue room was dark, lit hazily by the gray light through the window, and I sat on the foot of the bed, my little bedroom set from when I was a kid, except it was positioned with the head of the bed near the door rather than perpendicular to the door as it actually is. I laid back on the bed while I was waiting and I heard the door behind my head close. I looked up, and in the dark gray light I could make out the figure of tall motionless man towering over me. There was just enough light to make out the outline of him and that his shirt was a lighter color than his pants and I could see he was staring down at me, but I couldn’t make out any facial features and had no idea who he was. He remained motionless and speechless but in an instant I knew it was a menacing presence and I began to scream until I woke up. I was so frightened, every time I tried to close my eyes, the vision would come back to me and I would get so cold; the chill was almost paralyzing, even huddled in my flannel sheets. I wanted to reach behind me and turn the light on so I wouldn’t be in the dark, but even the thought of doing that felt silly to me. I kept trying to tell myself over and over that it was just a dream and I remained chilled and wimpering like a 2 year old in the dark until I finally and reluctantly went back to sleep. And as I went on to describe that horrible split second in my nightmare yesterday morning over breakfast, I literally shook in fear and unsuccessfully fought back tears remembering the horror I felt.

What the heck is making me have these berserk dreams?

PS. If you want to see the list of states in happiness order, click the map.  

Weekend Wrap-up

December 18, 2009

Whoever took the mile marker from Cemetery Road in Wantage, please return it. Don’t you realize the world is in enough turmoil now that Elin Nordegren Woods has been seen at a Florida gas station without her wedding ring?  After all, the woman is filing for divorce from that suddenly reclusive golf-pro husband of hers. I’m sure in the end, though, when all is said and done, even with the pre-nup or the “re-nup” as he is trying to finagle, Tiger will probably still get to keep his golf clubs, but Elin is gonna get his balls.

Can you believe someone absconded with a headstone-looking mile marker that dates back about 200 years from a road in Wantage, in Sussex County, NJ? The stone, with a carving that reads, “48 miles to Hoboken or Jersey City” has been missing for about three weeks. Wayne McCabe, the county historian, says the marker was most likely on the side of one of the new privately owned turnpikes around the beginning of the 19 th century and money was collected from drivers of horse drawn vehicles; farmers carrying products to markets in Jersey City or Hoboken and stagecoaches carrying travelers. When people didn’t want to pay the toll, they would use other roads that was far less maintained and a rougher ride. Kind of like the turnpike we have today, except you pay a toll and it’s a rough ride. The worst of both worlds. Honestly, if you know of its whereabouts, you can call Jim Doherty, the administrator for Wantage, at 973-875-7192 or contact his office at  administrator@wantagetwp-nj.org  (By the way, these thumbnail pictures are working)

“Let him that would move the world first move himself”–Socrates  “Aaayy” – Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli

4-year old Taylor “Tater Tot” Pugh from Dallas, Texas, has been suspended from pre-kindergarten because his hair is a little longer than the school says it should be; it covers his earlobes and shirt collar. I would hope it would cover his earlobes if it’s long enough to cover his shirt collar otherwise he’d have more things to worry about than having long hair…just sayin’. He’s not allowed to play any games with his schoolmates because of it and has spent his in-school suspension sidelined with the teacher’s aid since late last month. Hmm, that was like, two weeks ago. Did his hair all of sudden grow out of control like a Beautiful Chrissy doll? Good, who wants to play stupid dodge ball, anyway? It’s no good for kids anymore anyway. They might get hurt. Or have fun. Tut tut.

You know what, let’s go back to the sun for a moment. Last night, I made a conscious effort to look at the sky at 5pm and it was really rather light. A thought came to me about it. Maybe the earth’s axis has shifted since those days 30 years ago I remember it being dark at 4pm. I saw Donna’s comment that maybe it has to do with the time change coming later, but even so, the time would have been changed by now and the winter solstice is still  3 days away. Also, considering how the weather pattern has shifted (staying colder longer after the winter is over and staying warmer further into the fall) maybe the earth’s axis has shifted and maybe that, not car exhaust and empty plastic bottles in landfills, is the reason for “global warming”.  After all, how much pollution was around during the ice age?  How many dinosaurs were protesting. “Stop global freezing. Think about the children!” If there are any scientists out there, can you get on this and get back to me?

What else is there I can talk about. There’s a house in Sydney, Australia, that rotates, guaranteeing the family a new view every time they wake up. Luke Everingham came up with the idea after talking with neighbors who wished their houses were angled more to catch the sun. The octagonal house sits on a rotating platform whose motor is controlled by a computer (of course). The house can do a complete rotation in as little as 30 minutes or as much as two hours depending on the speed. And, whoops, how convenient when the house is “docked” facing the tall blonde next door. “Sorry, computer glitch. I’ll have that fixed in a jiffy.”  Just sayin’. They even have their own website. Click here to see it.

And here it is, the end of a stressful work week and so close to Christmas and you probably need a release. Here it is. Have a great weekend!

 

An Arm And A…

December 17, 2009

Did I tell you I registered for a sort of seminar, maybe it’s a workshop, on how to get published? No, I probably didn’t. It’s being given by the Liberty State Writer’s Group in January. I made a vow to myself and to certain other people that it’s time for me to get back into the swing with some serious writing and after the falderal of the coming holidays, I am going to do just that. My time is sparse, but I’ve made it clear I need to really set aside some time and get my book finished. And going to this seminar thing will hopefully give me some new perspective into what I must be doing wrong for the last 5 years. Can you believe I still haven’t heard from that woman I contacted in August with a packet of my work and then with a follow-up email from the very beginning of October? I just don’t understand what harm there is in at least acknowledging my communications, even if it’s with a “go get bent”.

I read this story about a French court splitting the jackpot won by a woman, Marie-Helene Jarguel and a man, Francis Sune her gambling partner, an issue that has taken since March to get resolved. Monsieur Sune argued that he should be entitled to at least part of the over 2 million euros ($2.91 million) won after a bet of 50 euros because he is the one who pulled the lever. The court actually ruled in his favor to receive 20% of his partner’s winnings.

That reminds me of a sort of similar situation that happened to me in Atlantic City many years ago, back in the ‘70’s or maybe early 80’s after casinos first starting dotting the Jersey shoreline. It was  back when Bally’s had that awesome ice cream parlor on the top floor at the end of a very long escalator (I think it was Bally’s then). It was back when very few, if any, slot machines had seats. It was back when one had to carry rolled quarters and crack them open on the coin tray. We’re talking a while ago. I was standing at a slot machine, not doing very well, similar to my prowess 30 years hence and I had gone through roll after roll of quarters. At one point, when I had stooped to crack open another roll, this old woman creeps up from next to me from out of nowhere, drops a few coins into my machine, pulls the arm and ca-chink, out falls a handful of quarters that should have been mine, but the hand is quicker than the eye, especially when it’s at the end of some old fart’s decrepit arm, and by the time I realized what the “F” was going on, that scraggily hag swooped up her, rather, my winnings and took off like a shot. I wanted to go after her and beat the puddin’ out of her, but damn it, I didn’t.

Did you hear about the book that was returned to the New Bedford Public Library in Massachusetts that was 99 years overdue? No joke. “Facts I Ought To Know About The Government Of My Country” was taken out by Stanley Dudek’s mother in 1910 when she was studying up on becoming a citizen of the United States. Dudek came across the book when he was recently going through his late mother’s things returned the 115 year old book to the library. The fine of $361.35 (calculated using the 1910 rate of a penny a day for an overdue book) is being waived and the book will be displayed in a special collection.

You’re  short only when you stand next to someone taller.

Dinner last night was an international delight. Since it was Wednesday, it was time for the weekly “sauce” and the pasta I chose to put it on was little wagon wheels.  I bought this “product of Italy” as was markd on the bag, at the Chinese market the other afternoon and I discovered last night the cooking directions were in French. To cap off the meal, we each had a hunk of Polish cheesecake, which was a whipped cream smothered cheesecake, sitting atop what amounted to chocolate mousse-frosted black forest cake, whose cherries were infused with rum. Mmm…mmmm!  Thankfully Ariel chose to speak to me in English.

Today I’m in a Christmassy mood. Remember yesterday I was undecided? I got this video from a friend of mine and then after some exploring, (exploring, right, I clicked on the next thumbnail on Youtube, is what I did) I came across the second one which you’ll have to see by clicking on the orange play button.

 

 

                   Click here for the second video

 

 

More Of…The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

December 16, 2009

Is anyone else befuddled or is it the dingbat in me coming to the surface? Has anyone else noticed that it seems to be staying a little lighter out than it was a few weeks ago? By five in the afternoon here, the sky has got just a tad bit of light still. Just a few weeks ago I remember it being dark by then. And it’s not because the winter solstice has come yet, the shortest day of the year; that’s not due until next Monday. Take a look outside tonight at 5 o’clock and see if it’s real or if it’s just me. And furthermore, I also remember it being very dark out by 4 o’clock quite a number of years ago. I remember, one time, around Christmastime, being in my living room watching The Mickey Mouse Club–the original, with Roy and Jimmy and Annette (well, reruns and not the new version that gave us such luminaries as Britney Spears, Justin Tinker…er, Timberlake and Christina Aguilera) and sure as I’m writing this, I can hear my little 14 or 15 year old voice saying, “Man, it’s dark outside and it’s only 4 o’clock”. Man? I don’t think I’ve ever started a sentence with “man”. I can also remember when “Happy Days” used to be a cool show, like that time Fonzie said “Ayyyy”, but I’m getting off track now.

While you’re contemplating the brightness of the sky, drinking a cup of coffee or tea, rest assured you’re helping yourself fight off the onset of type 2 diabetes. Yes, coffee is still in the news but I thought after the miraculous findings last time, it would be in a negative connotation. But, no. Results from 18 studies from 1966 to 2009 and involving nearly 460,000 participants at the George Institute for International Health at the University of Sydney shows that people who drink three to four cups of coffee a day have about a 25% lower risk of diabetes as to those who drank two or fewer. Those that drink 4 have about a third lower risk and over 4 about a 1/5. Though the authors of the study aren’t exactly sure what the component is that lowers the risk, they are certain it’s not caffeine as the results were the same for both regular and decaffeinated. Instead it’s most likely other compounds including magnesium, and antioxidants known as lignans or chlorogenic acids. This is the season of miracles so maybe after all the hoopla of the holidays has subsided, there’ll be reports of at least one detrimental side effect of drinking lots of coffee.

When we last left my wackadoodle dream, the half naked dead Greek was being dragged off the stage. The mood turned solemn suddenly, in yet another area of the establishment, when the reason for the festivities were made known. This other room, also with a bar, though not as fancy as where we first were, was long and narrow, carpeted, and wallpapered in an oddly somber shade of mossy green flocked fleur de lis pattern. Amber colored votive candle holders glowed an eery and cold golden hue as did the sconces on the opposite wall between reflectionless mirrors. The mood was dour as everyone’s attention was turned toward the window at the far end of the room. The eldest of the 3 sons with the blue shirts was about to be hanged and though I didn’t want to watch it, I found myself being drawn to the side for a better view, as if I was floating, closer to where Ariel was standing, who was a little more than eager to watch the proceedings.

I tried not to look up, but I was drawn to what was happening and after the young man jolted to his finality, I fell in hysterics on the floor, while devastating moments of my own life flashed through my mind like loved ones, including my dog, dying.

When I finally came around and was calmed down, Ariel handed me an envelope. Inside was a mimeographed sheet of paper, a copy of Angela’s registry from some store or other for items for her baby shower and a refill for a diaper genie was checked off by Eddie, a friend of Purdy’s, who we have not seen in about 7 years. It was at that point I could sense myself becoming overwhelmed with this dream and I finally woke up.

Speaking of The Fonz, without looking it up, does anyone out there know his full name? First, MIDDLE and Last. No, really, don’t look it up, it’s more fun if you guess.

I have a choice to be in either a Christmasy mood or a migratory bird mood and since there’s time for Christmas stuff, I’m gonna go with the migratory bird thing. So, enjoy this incredible scene.
 
 
 
 

 

The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

December 15, 2009

Yesterday, not that very far from here,  the Bridgewater-Raritan High School reopened after being closed since the arrest of a 16 year old junior  last Thursday who was targeting the school in a Columbine-like attack. An unidentified female student alerted a police officer permanently stationed at the school and that led to the arrest at the student’s home where police found an arsenal of explosives, bomb-making plans and ammunition. Another suspect, a senior from another area high school was also arrested for helping supply the 16 year old with ammunition and was also instrumental in helping his secure his supplies. The unidentified girl, described as shy, is being considered a hero for helping save the lives of the 2,900 students at the school.

If it’s Tuesday, it must be Baby Picture Monday. This is me at about 4 years old.

Let’s get back to that dream I hinted at yesterday.  Ariel and I were in some darkly lit pub-type place. Along the length of one wall was a heavilyand  ornately carved bar and moldings up on the wall behind it that separated sections of mirror reflecting the shiny bottles of liquor on the shelves. Opposite the bar, along the other wall were tables and chairs. At the far end of the bar was an opening in the wall that let out to a stagy area where a play was about to take place.

We had gotten there late and shared a table with family; mother, father and 3 sons, who all looked alike, as though they were 3 different aged versions of the same person, all in blue button down shirts and a crop of thick dark hair, parted on the side. The didn’t seem to mind that we were sharing their table, but except for the initial smile of acknowledgment when we first arrived, they acted as though we weren’t even there.

Who else was in the audience was my father, who had maneuvered his power chair into position at a table and somehow I knew he was thirsty. To get to the bar was nearly impossible because of the throng of people already bellied up to get drinks so I made my way to the cafeteria in another part of the bar. I stood in line while a bunch of indecisive clods tried to figure what to order while time was running out for the start of the show. Finally, when the group in front of me had placed their order, I shimmied my way up closer because I knew the guy behind the counter wouldn’t hear  my low speaking voice. While I waited for my drinks, I moved out of the way for other people and overheard the beginning of a nauseating exchange between a waitress and a customer.

The waitress was wearing a paper hat, kind of like the type they used to wear at McDonald’s and she had a straw resting behind her ear and the customer was a Paul Newman type of guy who got her all giddy and she was kind of cooing answers to questions he would ask her and he began to coo in that same way with her. I rolled my eyes in disgust, grabbed my drinks and left. The play had started already, but I took my place at the table near the end of the bar with the family of blue shirted young men. What was supposed to be a tree, above the bar, splintered outward with the voice of Bette Midler singing and that was the finale of act one. Next thing I know, I could swear that was her, sitting within arms length from me, taking off her jacket, her back to me. She wouldn’t turn around, but I knew it was her. Ariel told me to go to her, but I shied away.  (What’s up with that?)

Wow, I just realized this is gonna get long. There is a whole ‘nother half to the crazy dream, but let me get to a good spot to stop it. There seemed to be a long long delay in the start of the second act and suddenly the lights came up in the stage area glowing yellow and orange and my nieces, my step-brother’s daughters, Brittni and Jenna, not Melissa and Angela, became all giddy and flopped themselves onto a crushed velvet upholstered settee on the far end of the stage and a troupe of actors in togas and gold painted laurels of grape leaves, or whatever they used back then, soon appeared and began to act out some dramatic Grecian performance.

When the scene was over, the one who was tragically killed lay in billows of red fabric and as he was pulled off the stage by the “slaves” his toga rode up and try as he might to conceal himself, he was temporarily “exposed” and he seemed pretty proud of it.

And that’s enough for today. Did you hear me call number 52?