Archive for March, 2012

Out From Under My Rock

March 29, 2012

Wow, it’s Thursday already. What have I been doing that I haven’t been blogging? Well, I haven’t just been sitting because I found out recently that people who sit for long periods have a tendency to die 3 years earlier than they otherwise would have. How in the hell do they figure things like that?  I would hate like the dickens to die one day and then find out I could have gone on another three years. Well, the time frame the piece on the news quoted was a stretch of 11 hours and that if you’re going to sit that long, you should get up and walk around every so often.   And I’m not a smoker, so that’s an automatic addition of five years I can live, so right there that’s 8.

And while I was walking around every so often, I was gorging myself with chocolate because I also heard that chocolate can make you thin. The thinner I get, the less stress on my heart which might delay my demise.  I was also busy washing all the chocolate down with coffee because apparently coffee can save your life now. Or help alleviate pain, or stain the grout in your floor. One of those. I got confused with what coffee is good for this week and bad for the next. Because everything changes so rapidly. I’m not sure anymore about runny eggs so I wasn’t taking any chances with those.

At least I know pink slime won’t be being served much longer in schools. I know I’m late with this one, but it kind of made my blood boil when I heard that our government, the same government that says it’s okay to serve meat-byproducts “cleaned” with ammonia to our school kids is the same government that all but says it’s illegal to smoke.

Another thing I seem to be late on is the amendment to my “Speaking Of…” series last week and I apologize.  So…speaking of Adolf Hitler, there was an advertizement in Turkey that has since being pulled with a voice dubbed over Hitler yelling that men should not use women’s shampoo if they do not wear women’s clothes. The use of Hitler was deemed unacceptable in the product promotion.

What’s with the new trend of judges on competition shows, when they are faced with choosing between 2 contestants saying, “I have a feeling this could go either way.” Now there’s a concept!

Okay, well, actually yesterday was the one year anniversary of one unforgettable event in my life and to celebrate, coincidentally, I received my copy of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours”. It’s only taken me 35 years to own a copy of the album. Also coincidentally (since I am writing this last night) Stevie Nicks was mentoring on American Idol. Yes, it was one year ago we saw Stevie Nicks and Rod Stewart at Madison Square Garden. While that might not seem so remarkable, it’s really the after story that’s the real story. Those of you who have been with me at least since then know what I’m talking about. Those of you new to my blog, why not wander back and see what I’m talking about. You can start here on this link.  Get to part 2 by clicking on the “Creatures Of The Night” tab underneath the orange header and after that please continue on to “Then There Was That Man”.

It’s a story unlike any you’ve ever read. Please enjoy. And, to all my new readers, like they say in business; if you like us, tell others, if you don’t…hmm.

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A Bid On History

March 23, 2012

Speaking of Charlie Chaplin, another interesting tidbit I’ve been waiting to blog about since June of last year when I found the story and emailed it to myself. But they say things happen for a reason and it’s a nice capper to my impromptu game of “six degrees” this week on the blog, that started out, you may remember, with a comment about the research on whether dinosaurs and man ever co-existed, as, apparently, incorrectly depicted by the Flintstones.

So we end the week with Charlie Chaplin and a recently (as of  last June) discovered seven minute short film from 1917 he made during World War I. It’s called “Zepped” and in it, Chaplin plays his tramp character who brings down a German Zeppelin flying over London.

The film, as the article states, was bought on Ebay in 2009 for $5 and appraisers had indicated it could fetch in the neighborhood of $160,000 when it was to go up for auction at Bonhams’ in London last June 29.

What makes this film stand out, besides the rather historical accuracy (a Zeppelin had in fact dropped several bombs over a small England town the year before the film was made), is that Chaplin mixed special effects, such as animated sequences combined with live action,  that were “not known to have existed at that time” said Morace Park, the film collector who made the $5 purchase and that 20 film historians have said it has rewritten film history.

Now I’m all goose-pimply in the hopes that one day this film will be made available. As an aside, a second, incomplete print of the film popped up in a second hand shop in South Shield, UK.

But this isn’t the only thing that I’ve been impressed with by Charlie Chaplin, whose movies I could watch over and over and over again. Except it’s incredibly hard to do during the day while I’m working because silents must be watched, alas.

I remember seeing a documentary once about this beloved innovative comic genius and a certain scene has always stuck out in my mind. And oh, what it took for me to locate it to put on the blog today. And now that I’ve found it, I’m sharing it with you. Listen to the narrator, who, if I’m not mistaken, is actor James Mason, until the disappointing end of the clip.

Now I’m all goose-pimply watching this scene. 

Also disappointing is the fact that “Zepped” failed to attract a buyer at that auction last June; the price was set too high.  I don’t know, I’m thinking for a piece of history like that, no price is too high. If I had it to spend, I’d have snatched that puppy right up. Mo Park, if you’re out there, let’s talk!

Cheese Und Cracken

March 22, 2012

Speaking of Adolf Hitler, or Andenoid Hynkel as he was referred to as in Charlie Chaplin’s 1940 film, The Great Dictator, in which the little tramp tossed aside his cane and bowler to parody the lead Nazi tyrant… wait, I started that sentence incorrectly. Speaking of the Nazis, Charlie Chaplin was a target in a book published in the 1930’s in Berlin entitled “Juden Sehen Dich An” (The Jews Are Watching You), written by Dr. Johann von Leers who was a known anti-Jewish propagandist in which Chaplin was branded as a “psuedo-Jew”.

The book was meant to warn the German people that the Jewish people were forming a world-wide network aimed at taking over the world and in its pages were lists of prominent Jews that “must be stopped”. Albert Einstein was one such name.

The assault on Chaplin was in a section of the book called Artistic Jews” and it was suggested that he was of Jewish origin. He wasn’t. But the fact that he was targeted in the book in which the majority of the people listed were exterminated by the Nazis riled him.

However, politically outspoken Chaplin, who was assumed to be Jewish because he never denied the Nazis mistaken claims to that fact, was not about to take that threat lying down. When he received a copy of that book from film maker Ivan Montague who was working in Berlin in the ‘30’s, he decided modeled Adenoid Hynkel after Hitler in an act of defiance.

When The Great Dictator, an attack on Nazi ideology, was released, Hitler banned it in Germany and in all Nazi-occupied countries. Eventually, curiosity got the better of him and had a print sent to him, which he watched twice, but there is no recorded evidence of his reaction to the film, though it is reported that soldiers, surprised when the films were switched in a Balkan theater began firing at the screen when they realized what they were watching.

The Great Dictator, Chaplin’s highest grossing film, which was banned until as recently as 1975 in Spain when dictator Francisco Franco died and not seen in its entirety until 2002 in Italy out of respect to Benito Mussolini’s widow (the scenes that included her parodied character had been cut), was nominated for five Academy Award nominations in 1940, winning none.

**Cheese und cracken was something Hynkel uttered several times in the movie in place of obscenities.

History Mystery

March 21, 2012

Speaking of California, there’s a place I never read about in my high school history books; the 50-acre Murphy Ranch in Los Angeles. It was built in 1933 by landowners Winona and Norman Stephens. Winona and Norman and a merry little “army” of people known as the Silver Shirts, under the influence of “Herr Schmidt” who is believed to have been a German spy worked in the compound which was a self-sustaining Nazi community, which was slated to be ruled over by none other than the Fürher himself, Adolf Hitler, once the war was over. In the compound’s heyday it boasted a diesel power plant, a 375,000 gallon water tank, a giant meat locker and a bomb shelter.

Architect Paul Revere Williams made the wrought iron gate at the entrance of the compound. Williams also designed the homes of such luminaries as Frank Sinatra, Lon Chaney and Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. His designs also included plans for a four story mansion with 22 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms, several dining rooms and libraries, a swimming pool and gymnasium. But those plans were never carried out because the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor federal agents stormed the compound and arrested nearly 50 Nazi sympathizers.

But now as the compound, which is located in the Will Rogers State Historic Park, nears its demise to make way for a picnic area and rest stop for hikers and the like, it still attracts curiosity-seekers, historians and even modern day Nazis.

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One of these days I’ll get this slideshow thing right, with captions that tell you what you’re looking at. In the meantime, you can follow along with this list. 1:Front Gate  2: Power Station  3: Murphy Ranch (what’s left of it)  4: Trash Pit (inside the power station)  5: Another tangle of steel  6: Stairway to Murphy Ranch  7: Concrete Water Tank  8: Vegetable Garden

This well concealed little piece of unfortunate American history, this little tidbit that falls under the category of “things we Americans get told about on a need-to-know basis” has literally crumbled into obscurity; its deteriorated walls are a canvas for graffiti artists and some buildings’ skeletal framework have collapsed into twists of steel. Nobody had Twitter or Facebook back then, I guess is why.

Spring Has Sprung

March 20, 2012

Yes, it’s the first day of Spring as evidenced by the murky soupy low-lying blanket of fog we have this morning. Yesterday, on the last day of Winter, if you could call what we had Winter, it was in the mid 70’s and the sun was as bright as you please.

Speaking about the Flintstones, Seth McFarlane, creator of “Family Guy”, who also got his start with Johnny Bravo, got the green light to reboot The Flintstones for the Fox Network. He wants to stay true to the original show, which aired on that network which shall not be named because of its cancellation of One Life to Live, but will of course be making the stories current. So, where Ann-Margrock once babysat for little Pebblypoo, maybe this time the sitter/songstress in need of a mini vacation will be Lady Gaylussite. And of course there is the prehistoric spin on 21 st century technological advances. I, for one, am pretty excited about this and will be keeping an eye out for a debut date. I just hope they get the voices right or as close to right as they can. It’s not easy for a seasoned purist of the classics, like the Flintstones, and of course, my ultra favorite, Bugs Bunny, to accept beloved images with unfitting voices.

Speaking about the Flintstones, the world’s oldest teenager, 82 year old Dick Clark has listed his Flintstone-esque home, high atop a mountain with 360 degree views of the Pacific Ocean, Boney Island (how appropriate), Channel Island, the Serrano Valley and Los Angeles, for $3.5 million dollars.

 

Speaking about the Flintstones…no, I’m done.

It’s that time of the year to start the seedlings for the garden. We’re planning a better layout this year to make the most of our space. A three sisters plot for our corn, squash and beans, for instance–three crops in the space of one. Using pots for those crops that otherwise overtook the garden–the mint and nasturtium, to keep them more contained.

This year I’m starting my seeds in larger containers so they can grow stronger than those little thimble size starter kits they sell in the stores. And they’re on a waterproof surface, even though the damage was done last year with the water seepage onto the antique dining room table, which I’m still kicking myself in the rearius maximus about.

  

Things That Don’t Exist

March 19, 2012

One thing I found that doesn’t exist is the Home Depot at the address both my and Ariel’s GPS’s insisted on directing us to yesterday afternoon. We were on a quest to get a few additional flood spot lights for the house, you know, to spotlight the house and the trees at night and a some replacement bulbs for the ones that had burned out along the front walk. We live equidistant between two Home Depot stores but chose the one that closer to our grocery store for on the way home. As it turns out, that item, which we’ve had lo these many years is being phased out and our store was out of stock. The salesman’s little handheld gizmo told us of the other store that had several of them still in stock and after making our purchase at this store, tore off to get the other lamps.

We followed Ingrid’s directions to the letter but there was no Home Depot in our path. What was there was pharmaceutical building–each of the four times we drove past that spot. Well, maybe it wasn’t on the right, after all. Perhaps by some hard to believe quirk, the Home Depot was actually on the left, nestled among the wooded area behind yet another office building. Nope. Not so. Okay, time to resort to good old fashioned wizardry. I found the phone number and called and it rang and rang and rang, for about two minutes. I found another phone number and it apparently belonged to a fax machine because, well, you know that sound fax machines make.

Finally Ariel found a working number and discovered where the store was. YES! It was on the very highway we were on, on the southbound side (where we were) and seemingly in the town where we were…but further down the road.

After we left the store with our purchase and got gas (at 4 something a gallon!) I searched that store again on my GPS and again it gave me the first address where the pharmaceutical place was. With some clever thinking, I searched another store that was in the same complex and it came up with a different town. Apparently, the store is officially listed in one town, but we had just crossed into the town where the GPS (and the salesman at the first store) said it was. It’s that Bridgewater/Raritan/Bridgewater/Flemington township configuration.

Yeah, so…. Didja ever notice how people being interviewed on TV sort of trail off with that phrase in an answer to a question?

You know what else doesn’t exist? Or rather didn’t? I didn’t realize it to be fact until I read the article the other day. Dinosaurs did not co-exist with man. It’s true! A study was done to refute the idea the Fred Flintstone could have kept a dinosaur as a house pet. The article was accompanied by a picture of Fred, Wilma and Dino and the caption asked what was wrong with the picture? Being a fan of the Flintstones, I thought, hmm, what could it be? Another moutless face? (In one of the versions of the closing credits of the TV show, one could see Wilma sound asleep in her bed…with no mouth) Maybe something of an “adult” nature mistakenly drawn into the tea stains on Fred’s tunic?  Alas, no, it was that this Modern Stone Age family had a dinosaur as a pet. Could a cure for the common cold been a loftier use of scientific calculations? World hunger? How to find a friggin Home Depot?

Degrees Of Summer

March 12, 2012

It’s incredible, sometimes, to think how things have a way of coming together when you least expect it; sometimes huge things that can be mindboggling and sometimes just little everyday things that simply make you happy.

Last Thursday at the gym Ariel realized his workout partner had trouble concentrating on what he was doing being distracted by the music that was playing in the background until finally, between sets, he recalled how disco queen Donna Summer claimed that the sultry erotic lyrics of her mega-hit “Love To Love You, Baby” were an expression of her love of God. Ariel replied with “My God has a great sense of humor, but I don’t call him ‘baby’”. The conversation then turned to the length of the song–the extended mix clocks in at nearly 17 minutes–and how good it would be for jumping rope.

Later, at work, in between projects, rather than step outside to drink in a few moments of the balmy 70 plus degree fresh air, he decided to search for and download that song and after he confirmed with a quick text to his workout partner the title of it, which in fact was “Love To Love You, Baby,” and not “Spring Affair” which he suddenly thought it to be. And then, later, talking to me on the phone, telling me this story, and giving me some of the lyrics, I further rained on his parade and told him, the song was actually her version of Barry Manilow’s “Could It Be Magic” and not to buy it online because I had the long version at home and he could just download it to his phone from there. I assured him I had it on a special edition of Donna Summer extended mixes on my homemade series called Off The Record, which was a labor of love, though a painstaking project of transferring approximately 430 12″ dance remixes from vinyl to CD and ultimately onto my iPod. I want to do the same thing with my disco 45’s if and when I ever find them. I swear they were stolen when the air conditioning went in years ago, but Ariel assures me that couldn’t have happened. Still, against his better judgement, that it would have been a done deal if he would have just downloaded it, he decided to humor me and waited.

After dinner, he flipped through the CD case I keep all 36 volumes of Off The Record, in addition to the Donna Summer, Janet Jackson and techno editions, my copies of Chicken Man radio programs and, breaking the momentary stillness in the room, he shouted, “Look at this!”.

It was my DVD copy one of the last surviving clean video transfers of my 8mm home movies I’d been looking for to try to gather some stills via screenshots of the video player to add to the collection of pictures for the slide production my sister and her husband are working on for the Celebration of Life we having for my father later next month. I was devastated to the point of distraction when I couldn’t find that disc, because I knew exactly the shots I wanted to hopefully include. But there it was, sandwiched in between the pages of that CD binder book.

Coincidence? Dumb luck? Angelic intervention? I don’t know for sure so I’m guessing it was my angel helping me out. Thank you, EB.

As it turns out, “Could It Be Magic” was not on the Donna Summer edition, but I did have the longer version on another disc in my CD collection and that song is now on Ariel’s iPhone.

Letting The Ink Dry

March 7, 2012

It’s done. I got my tattoos done on Monday afternoon. It was good to be back in the clutches of my tattoo artist, Dennis, hearing that incessant buzz, feeling that unwavering prickly jabbing, smelling the familiar aroma of antiseptic ointment. Knowing he’d called out sick several times during the set up of these latest ink spots, I figured that would lead the conversation, as I think I’ve finally left behind my own plague that had its grip on me since Christmas. What is this, March? But as it turns out, his calling out sick was for personal reasons and that lead to an entirely different dialogue, which included reason behind the motorcycle. I know he’s not reading this, but my best wishes go out to him and his family as they struggle with his grandmother’s illness.

  

Ever hear of the  phantom bridge in Hoboken, NJ?  It was the defunct North River Bridge, a mammoth effort that was never to be realized, outside of the eight foot tall cornerstone that was removed from someone’s Hoboken back yard with the inscription: Foundation Laid–North River Bridge Co.–1895.

Gustav Lindenthal’s crowning glory among his other bridge designs; The Hell Gate, The Manhattan, The Qeeensboro and The Williamsburg, was to be the North River Bridge, which would have dwarfed the yet to be built George Washington Bridge. It was to meant to connect Hoboken, NJ to New York City via 57th street. It was to be 6,000 feet long, 200 feet wide and soar 200 feet into the air. It was to carry 24 lanes of traffic, 12 railroads, and have two promenades.

Several roadblocks such as the coming of World War I, the revision of plans to accommodate the increasing popularity of the automobile and the ensuing traffic jam, the formation of the Port Authority who claimed the span would inhibit river navigation, the railroads deciding to tunnel and rejection of the of the secretary of transportation in favor of the Lincoln Tunnel which opened to traffic in 1937.

40 years later the wealthy Lindenthal continuted to speak of the plans for his bridge, even from his deathbed in 1935, on his 250-acre farm in Metuchen.

Tattoo You, Part 2

March 5, 2012

I ended up not getting my new ink last Friday as planned. Even though I had planned out my work week just so to be finished with my hours with enough time afterwards to changed and dash out the door, I got a call that my guy called out sick. You can’t whine in a case like that, like if the cable man cancels or something along those lines, until they send someone. After all, you have to remember that when you finally do see the guy, he’s the one holding that needle in his hand.  I had two options today or Thursday. While 2pm would be a more friendly time to go, it was for this coming Thursday and as I have a weekend event to attend, I didn’t want to be nursing a messy healing tattoo. My other option was for today at 5 and that would give me time to heal. Considering that on a good day, and by good I mean no traffic (remember I live in NJ and there’s no such thing as no traffic) getting there could take 20 minutes. At rush hour it’s anybody’s guess how much time to allow. But, barring another cancellation, today should be the day.

Technologically speaking, in this world of “instantness”, I had a strange wave come over me this past weekend. I actually wrote a letter, well, typed a letter, (I hand wrote the address on the envelope, if that matters…<insert smiley face>) to send out in the mail. After it printed and I stuffed it into the envelope, I went on to some other projects. Not long into those projects, I got this nagging thought in the back of my head,  why hadn’t I gotten a response yet?

Also this weekend, we went with a friend to see “Carrie” on Off-Broadway at the Lucille Lortel Theater. It was a musical version of the Stephen King classic. Not being a fan of Stephen King, nor of the movie (we watched it that morning so I could familiarize myself with the story more than what I already knew of it). I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised and greatly entertained. The story didn’t seem so hokey, or dated and the musical numbers rivaled anything you might see in a big splashy Broadway production. And just this morning I’m reading one review which includes these statements:

One man’s trash and all that. I loved it and that’s why I don’t listen to alleged critics; I have my own mind and my own level of what I find entertaining. I gave it an 8.

It’s A Wrap

March 2, 2012

Break out the marshmallows, chocolate, graham crackers, and, oh yeah, the umbrellas, we got our weekends and our site. Our home away from home, that little slanted hamlet nestled in the woods, neath precariously towering and slender swaying trees is now ours once again for the season. It didn’t take me long to get through on the phone. I started around 7–remember all those busy signals I was getting?–and I didn’t note the exact time but it was right around 12:45 when I saw the clock as I was listing my dates. Deposit check is written out and ready for today’s mail.

Now that that’s passed, the next thing to conquer is my tattoo appointment this afternoon. Conquer isn’t really the right word; it’s not my first time at the rodeo. I’m not sure how long they’ll take, the three charms on my charm bracelet, how much they’ll cost, keeping in mind he’s not tattooing “property of MGM” on my backside and subsequently how much I should tip him.

I had a bit of a brainstorm yesterday. So, that takes care of me for the week.

Oh! Remember that debacle at the phone store from last week or so? Well, I missed the call, but someone from Verizon called who wanted to talk to me about my complaint and left me a message. Now it’s up to me to call him back. I’m sure he won’t be chasing me any more than the one phone call. I’ll get to it. Probably this weekend, so stay tuned.

I tried to add those “fancy” things to my blog; there was this list of widgets I could add to the right hand margin including a “like” button for Facebook. As it turns out, the widgets did nothing more than simply enter the same info that you see now. Those are widget-generated.  And the “like” button, well, that’s only for a specific page on Facebook, like a organization or a fan site. Hey, maybe I could set up a Facebook page for this blog, or even the website (hence, my book). What is wrong with me? Why haven’t I dont that before.

And there’s more other stuff in the works that I have to get jumping on this weekend so stay tuned for that as well. I have to remain secretive until I make the right contacts before I reveal what that’s all about.

Speaking of American Idol, I’m really like Joshua Ledet and Jessica Sanchez though I think Sanchez might have the edge. I hadn’t paid attention to her during the auditions, but when she sang on performance night, I just sat, staring at my TV, in total awe and all I could say was WOW, over and over again.

I just felt like having fun and in spite of the despicable idea of dancing and/or talking babies, I opted for this version, kind of let my hair down.  Just thought it was edgier than looking at a still picture of a 45 rpm.   (A what, old timer?)

On that note, I’m outta here. Have a great weekend.