Friday, December 31, 2010

Starting At Birth

Thought I should put one last post on my blog before 2011 starts.  I have less than 2 hours to think of something to write about.  Talk about pressure.

How about a little personal history?  I was born in the same hospital where my mother had a bed.  Being born was quite stressful.  I couldn't walk or talk for about a year or so.  I also had lousy bladder control in the beginning.  That may be why the hospital booted me and Ma out.  Luckily, Dad was in the parking lot and he offered us a ride.  So we hopped on his back and off to Goulburn Street we went.  Goulburn was on the north-east side of Detroit.  This is back when Detroit prospered; decades before the war zone atmosphere of today.  But Goulburn did not house our little family for long.  Dad's dream of being a landlord was realized when he and Ma bought an income house in Center Line; a city named after the white stripe found in the middle of the road.  We were a mere two miles from Detroit yet we were in the country.  People riding horses roamed the dirt roads.  The roads were sprayed regularly with oil.  Sidewalks had not been invented yet.  Most homes had no fences to alienate the neighbors.  But all was not a bowl of cherries, although cherries were abundant from our back yard tree.  The sewer system was amateurish which resulted in turning our basement into a swimming pool several times a year.  The electricity failed on a regular basis.  We had to keep a lit candle in the refrigerator.  Air conditioning consisted of my waving an opened newspaper towards my parents. And in the winter, turning up the heat meant putting on a fourth sweater.  It was not unusual to find rabbits, frogs, snakes and other varmints in the neighborhood.  The local high school had a pet alligator which one of the students had found in the nearby swampy ditch that defined the Center Line-Warren boundary.

A side note about Center Line.  In the 1700s, what today is Ten Mile and Sherwood, was the first trading post in Macomb County.  At the time, Macomb County was mostly swamp that the French and Indians used for trapping.  With the trading post came farmers who dredged the land and planted crops.  On Saturdays they would gather at the trading post and indulge in liquid spirits.  The wives did not approve of this, so they got together and sent for a priest.  A priest named Father Hendricks arrived and built the first church in the area.  The congregation for the church covered close to sixty square miles; from Eight Mile and Jefferson to Fourteen Mile and Woodward.    Today that church is Saint Clemens.

This Church was located on Van Dyke and Engleman.

This is Van Dyke looking towards Ten Mile. 
The first St. Clemens Church can be seen center left.

I am always fascinated by old photos of familiar grounds.  If you are reading this from Russia or Japan (and I know some of you are) then this is meaningless and can be boring to you.  So I will limit this time spent on my  history to what I have already written.  I will change the subject and talk about foreign readers.  I recently discovered a stats page for my blog and I see since I started this, 54 of you readers reside in Russia and 37 hail from Japan.  I am curious on how you found me and if you can translate my words into your native tongue.  I would appreciate any input.  That goes for anyone from anywhere.  I know of only one follower (and thank you Ms California) and am eager to have others join.  I promise, I will not reject a single soul.  All are welcome.  I get tired of complimenting myself and would relish having another stroke my ego for a change.

Well, its drawing close to 2011.  I have to put on my flak jacket and hide in the basement to avoid all the gunfire at midnight.  I don't know when New Years Celebration changed from whistling noisemakers to Smith & Wesson widow-makers.  Something seems wrong when to express happiness endangers other peoples lives.  

Speak of the devil.  I just heard a shotgun blast.  Good night.  

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Ghost of New Year's Past

Looks like the first decade of the first century of the second millennium is about complete.  As my friends, the kangaroos say, "Have a hoppy new year."

Allow me to talk about auld lang syne.  When I refer to auld lang syne, I do not mean the stroke of midnight, January 1st song.  I am using the phrase for it's actual meaning; "times past fondly remembered."  So without further delay I set the wayback machine to the last day of the year 1959.  

The new 50 star flags have been ordered and will soon replace the 48 starred ones in all our school rooms.  Eisenhower is entering the final year of his presidency.  Vice-President Nixon has thrown his hat in the ring to be Ike's replacement.  Senator Kennedy, with his father's help, will challenge the VP in the upcoming year. Russia is winning the Space Race being first to have orbited an artificial satellite around the planet.  They will also be first to send a man into orbit within the next two years.

Bud Abbott will enter 1960 without his partner Lou Costello. Actors Errol Flynn, Victor McLaglen and TV's Superman. George Reeves will not be around to greet the sixties.  Rock and Rollers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper also made their exit in 1959.

The only death that had a effect on me was that of Alfalfa from the Little Rascals.  They use to show the Little Rascal shorts everyday. I was only six and thought the Rascals were around my age.  I had yet to grasp the concept of rerun ad nauseum.  When I heard Alfalfa had died, I thought it was the boy that had died, not the 32 year old actor Carl Switzer.  It was quite upsetting.

On December 31st, 1959, I was being babysat by our neighbor, Carol.  My parents had gone out for the night.  My parents had told Carol it would be alright if I stayed up until midnight, but I was to go to bed right after.  I was so excited.  This would be the first New Year I would usher in.  Not only a new year, but a new decade!  I knew it would be fantastic.  Carol had Guy Lombardo on the television.  Guy Lombardo was the original Dick Clark.  Carol told me when the countdown to 1960 began and I ran to the window.  As cheers and applause and noisemakers rang out of the television, I was staring up at the sky.  Where were the fireworks?  Why wasn't the sky lighting up?  I had envisioned the entire sky exploding into bright letters announcing 1960.  I had anticipated parades and bands on every street of the city,  yet nothing happened.  The world of Center Line, Michigan, remained calm without a ripple of noise nor a single waving sparkler to greet the new decade.  Very disappointing.  Very Y2K.

If I had paid closer attention to who had passed away in 59, I would have understood why the New Year was not a big production.  1959 was also the year that Cecil B. DeMille had died.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Money For Sale

There is an ad on TV selling gold nickels for $9.95.  These replicate the buffalo nickel in every detail with the exception of the mint year which is 2011.  I don't see how this is possible.  If it is true United States currency, the value would be five cents.  If this is not U.S. currency, then these nickels are counterfeit.  In either case something is wrong here.  If this is a perfectly legal operation, then I should be able to use my photo copier to duplicate twenty dollar bills, and sell the copies for ten dollars each without ever stating that it is not legal tender.

For a limited time, John has opened his vaults and is presenting an opportunity for you to purchase crisp new twenty dollar bills for an unbelievable ten dollars apiece. You must act fast, there is only one ream of xerox twenties available, and they're going fast.  You will spend untold hours examining Thomas Sully's portrait of President Andrew Jackson etched with exquisite detail into each and every bill. The reverse side features the home of our U.S. Presidents, the White House.  Act today and send ten dollars for each Twenty.  Sorry, but the demand is so big, that we have to limit you to ten Twenties per order while supplies last. (shipping and handling charges are extra)

While writing this, another commercial caught my eye.  I can do better than the ten dollar nickel.  For that same ten bucks I can purchase, not one,but two U.S. Two Dollar bills!  Now that's a deal.  If I order the two dollar bills, I wonder if they would take a gold nickel as payment.  Or better still, I can use one of my photocopy twenties.  They go for ten simoleans also.

Yogi (Berra, the Yankee catcher, not the bear nor a master of yoga) had a saying about money.  I will leave you with it: A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

As Promised, Charcoal Drawings

One day of winter completed.  Eighty-nine more until spring.  On a happier note, there is 52 shopping days left until my birthday.  So take your time and pick out something nice.

Here is one of my charcoal drawings.  It's my hand on another sketch.  If you take a close look at the cuticle on the thumb, you will recognize it as mine.

Here's another charcoal drawing of mine.  You can tell it's mine because the wine bottles are empty.  I left the water in the vase and glasses.  I don't want drink anything that fish procreate  in.

If you click on the pictures, you can get a better look.  I don't know why they keep coming out grey. The drawings are too big for my scanner, so I been taking pictures of them with my camera.  Guess I just don't have a flair for photographer.  I use to have a flair for pants but that went out of style.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Prattling On.

I have nothing to write about, but that hasn't stopped me yet.  Have you noticed how I will start typing on one topic and suddenly veer off on to another?  I get this from Linda.  She is notorious for taking the furthest route for getting to the point. Here is an example of how she talks:

"Did you hear about Blake Edwards?  He was the guy that did all those Pink Panther movies with Peter Sellars. What was the name of that movie where Peter Sellars played all those different characters?.  Eddie Murphy played a bunch of characters in the Nutty Professor.  That was a remake of that Jerry Lewis movie.  He's still doing those telethons for that disease.  I wonder if they will ever find a cure for cancer?  The lady down the street was a Cancer.  Her husband was a Capricorn.  Boy, could that guy drink!  One time he was so drunk, he walked into our house thinking it was his..."

And finally, about a half hour later, she would say, "He died the other day."  Meaning Blake Edwards, but by this time, I have forgotten who she had started talking about.  If I were to ask who died, she would get mad saying I'm not paying attention to her.

Of course, that particular scenario would never happen.  I would be the one who tells her about Blake Edwards.  It is my job in our relationship to keep track of who is dead, when it happened and by what means.  When we watch an old movie, it is my duty to point out the actors and relay the current status of their mortality.  On a side note, if I don't recognize the actor, I will substitute another actor's name.  "That's Johnny Depp playing the Yankee who sets fire to Atlanta in Gone With the Wind.  He's still living."  When Linda calls my bluff by saying Johnny Depp wasn't alive when they made Gone With the Wind, I simply respond with two letters: "C.G."  That's "computer graphics" to those that don't know.  Hey, if Tom Hanks can shake Kennedy's hand in Forest Gump, then Johnny Depp can burn Atlanta in Gone With the Wind.

Johnny Depp leading horse and buggy in Gone With the Wind.

James Cameron, the director of Avatar, the Titanic and the Terminator, stated that with computer graphics, it is now possible to have any actor in any movie. Cary Grant, Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart can once again grace the silver screen, starring opposite Robert Downy, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt or any actor of your choosing.  It is completely possible.  All you need is a script, a director and a 100 million dollars.  In fact, you don't even need the real George Clooney for your movie.  The graphics department can edit his image in.  

In closing, I would like to get back to Blake Edwards.  If you ever get a chance to see "S.O.B.," do so.  It is a 1981 film by Blake Edwards that stars his wife, Julie Andrews, and William Holden.  It is one of the funniest films ever made about making films.  Julie Andrews plays an aging actress who has to decide if she is willing to expose her bosom in a movie before she gets too old to have her exposure appreciated.  The tension is titillating.  If you enjoyed the Pink Panther movies, then you will enjoy "S.O.B."  Basically  the same type of humor, only more risqué.

That's all I got for now.  Goodbye.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Do It Yourself

Another exciting day over.  A fascinating night commences.  Don't I wish that were true.

My day started off with bacon and eggs.  Then back to the TV.   Until I started watching DIY (the home improvement network), I had never realized how many female contractors there are.  It has to be harder for women to become a licensed contractors than men.  Apparently, if you're female, one of the requirements for certification is good looks.  No such mandate for the  males.  Any ugly guy can install toilets and kitchen cabinets. In separate rooms, of course.  But it takes a women of beauty to shingle a roof or build a deck  Shapely legs and ample bosom doesn't hurt either.

One of my favorite shows on DIY is "10 Grand in Hand."  This is a show about home owners that are doing their own labor on their home renovation.  The host of this show tells us what the home owners are doing wrong.  "Looks like Bob is about use the wrong tool on their marble counter top.  It'll shatter and he'll have buy another one.  Doesn't seem like Bob and Mary are gonna save money on this project after all."  Don't tell us, tell the idiot with the chisel!  He's watching the guy and doesn't give a clue to the mistake about to be made.  This is a very sadistic person.  He would have made a great commandant for a concentration camp.  If you enjoy watching America's Funniest Videos with guys getting whacked in the crotch or people falling on their ass or getting bopped in the head (...and who doesn't?), you will enjoy "10 Grand in Hand."  There's a little schadenfreude in each

Then there is Vanilla Ice, a guy with enough tattoos to be a carny sideshow attraction.  He claims to be a hip-hop star of yesteryear.  That's probably why I never heard of him.  I hate hip-hop.  I have no idea what rap music has to do with bunnies, but I find the noise emitted to be dreadful.  Anyways, this Vanilla Ice guy is a licensed contractor (I guess that hip-hop thing didn't work out) and now he has a show on DIY.  I like when he's talking with his work crew.  It's like a roomful of Don Rickles' trying to out-zing each other.  It's amazing these guys remain friends, let alone get anything done.

Last of all, DIY has a little blond bombshell with a Munchkin voice.  She's from Detroit, but has left for greener grounds in Wisconsin.  As she describes the renovations she's planning, I half expect her to break out singing The Merry Old Land of Oz.  "Ha, ha, ha... ho, ho, ho... and a couple of tra la las..."   Above all, this little gal really wants us to know how close to bankruptcy she is.  She mentions this at least twice each episode.  If she doesn't turn this house around in the next two weeks, she'll be out of business.  So it is safe to conclude that the DIY network doesn't pay their show's hosts very well.

If watching DIY has taught me anything, it's that the next time I need home improvement, I should hire a female contractor.  They're gorgeous.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Few Words About the Sponsors

I watch a lot of television.  My motto in life is "Entertain me!"  Of course it is impossible to view as much tv as I without also taking in commercials.  Try flipping channels when a commercial starts.  Every channel you stop at will also be showing a commercial.  The bastards time these things.  For some reason, these people think we enjoy watching commercials.  They even have half hour blocks dedicated to a product; the infomercial.  "Let me set my TiVo to forever save the half hour show about the Snuggy."

Billy Mays, the king of the infomercial died over a year ago.  Yet his image is still being used in advertisement.  "You know what Billy always said..." proclaims the replacement barker.  I know how Billy died, so I can imagine what he always said.  "Save me some of that cocaine.  I have a second nostril to fill."

A current commercial has a young girl asking her mother if she has seen her favorite blouse.  The mother says no, but we then enter flashback mode and see the mother out barhopping and partying her ass off while wearing the fore-mentioned blouse.  Mom is so soused that she spills food all over the front of it.  Next we see mom retrieving the soiled blouse and washing it.  Later still, the daughter is wearing the cleaned blouse and tells mom she must have overlooked it in the back of her closet.  The product this commercial hawks is laundry detergent, but it also is telling mothers that it is okay to steal from your kids, leave them alone at night to go out drinking, and if confronted, lie your ass off.  This ad does not show the outside of the mother/daughter's home, but I bet if it did, it would be a trailer park.

I also get a kick out of "We Buy Gold" commercials.  "Are you tired of having all that gold jewelry taking up half your sock drawer? Are you constantly tripping over bars of gold in every room of your house? Well, send it to us. No need to worry about weighing it, or the price of gold being in constant flux. We'll send you the amount of cash we deem feasible. You can trust us."  Yes, I can trust faceless strangers that only means of contact is some PO Box in some unheard of part of the country.

I do have a favorite commercial.  I haven't seen it in years but it goes like this.  Man comes home from work and yells out, "Hi honey, I'm home.  What's for dinner?"  The wife, downstairs, yells back, "What's for dinner?!!  I spend the whole day mopping up this damp leaky basement and you want to know whats for dinner!  Mop water soup, that's what's for dinner..."

We now return you to your regular scheduled program...