Viewing posts from October 2015

Halloween

JackoLanternIf you’re a kid, or even a kid at heart, your favorite holiday (after Christmas, Chanukkah or Kwanza) is coming this Saturday. Halloween. Like you need me to tell you that.

Halloween is all about being scared and there’s no scarier place to be at this time of year than Hollywood. A lot of people would agree with that statement no matter what time of year it was. My reasoning was that twice I was within a very short walking distance of two people who worked for either the film or TV studios or some prop supply house. Maybe they were just insane. I never bothered to ask. Whatever their mental health, they had had access to some of the best, scariest decorations I’ve ever seen.

zombieWhen I was living in Van Nuys, two decades before the recent zombie craze, one of my neighbors would prepare his front yard with authentic looking wooden coffins. There’d be an arm hanging out of one of them, a leg out of another. These were no Party City plastic appendages, my friends. These things looked and felt REAL. They had weight to them. The skin felt like, gulp! human flesh. Cold human flesh. Skeletons felt like bone. Half-decayed ghouls flexed their fingers, moaning, as they tried to crawl through the moors-like artificial fog that covered the whole front yard. None of us neighbors would have been surprised if these folks got arrested for grave robbing. This was that good.

hauntedhouseCuriously, nobody knew who lived at this house. Or maybe we just didn’t want to know. Whoever it was, they had candy to give out and, come what may, that is the holy grail on Halloween. As we and our terrified children cautiously walked the path to ring the doorbell, a couple of grotesquely disfigured male and female corpses seated nearby suddenly flinched, scaring children and parents alike.

The front door swung open and a one-armed hunchback man, one eye hanging out of its socket, held out a black plastic witch’s cauldron full of candy. The kids quickly grabbed a handful of goodies and ran away. Smart. As we started to follow, the hunchback offered us candy. As a couple of us tentatively reached into the cauldron, a hand shot up out of the candy and grabbed an arm. The parent screamed. The hunchback laughed and wished us a Happy Halloween. Yeah, real funny.

HermanMunsterAs I said at the beginning, there were two neighbors who did this kind of thing on Halloween. The second one, in North Hollywood, also worked for a studio. Every year a big truck carried all sorts of crates, wiring and other concealed objects for their annual haunted house. The place was so popular that the police had to direct the traffic. I never went to the haunted house. It was bad enough having my arm grabbed in that cauldron.  

Happy Halloween!

Til next Tuesday

Chicken vs the Eggs

chick-and-eggIf breakfast is the most important meal of the day, why is it always at the back of a menu? Why should chicken wings come before omelets? Sure, if you’re going alphabetically, yeah. But here? For a menu? No. When it comes to breakfast, let’s get something straight–chicken does not come before eggs.

I’ve got nothing against chicken. I like chicken. Without chickens, there’d be no eggs. So I’m grateful. It’s just that I love breakfast. I can eat breakfast any time of day. Can’t think of what I want for lunch? Have some eggs and toast. Suddenly hungry for dinner? Eggs and toast. Five minutes and I’m done. You can’t do that with chicken. Or at least, I can’t.

In my earlier life when I was a drummer in a rock band, the post-gig meal at 4am was always breakfast. That was in the days when our local (and only) Dunkin’ Donuts had a counter and served food 24 hours a day. Nothing was better than eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast. The smell was heavenly. There was also the smell of disinfectant, but hey, that’s what you got when you went to Dunkin’ Donuts at four in the morning.

sunnysideupOne time when my brother and I were young kids mom was out with one of her sisters so dad had to make dinner. Dad could rewire a lamp and fix all sorts of things. Unfortunately, dinner wasn’t one of them. The one thing he knew how to make better than anybody, though, was eggs, perfectly done. Sunnyside up, over easy, scrambled, whatever, he was The Original Egg Man.

So on this particular night, dad set to work. Two eggs were frying in his favorite egg-making pan when all of a sudden…disaster! One of the sunnyside up eggs broke. The perfectly formed yolk had deflated, flat yellow egg stuff was running everywhere! Dad would have to start all over again. Do we have enough eggs to do this? Will we have to find a substitute dinner like toast and peanut butter (not a horrible Plan B)? Would we have to keep this a secret?

AlliesNeedEggsOh fear not. Dad was a World War II vet. A foot soldier, he and others fought their way through Africa and Italy. He had seen far worse things than what he was facing now. Of course at that young age, I didn’t know about the soldier/war stuff. I didn’t even know what dad did for a living.

Fearless and undaunted, he continued onward into the storm. Somehow, miraculously, and without missing a beat, he made one perfectly done scrambled egg and one equally perfect sunnyside up egg. In the same pan! At the same time!

My brother and I were astounded! We had never seen anything like that before! We didn’t even know you could make two different egg styles in the same pan! Was that allowed? There was no doubt in our minds that we had witnessed a once-in-a-lifetime groundbreaking event. Mom never even pulled off something like this. Dad had defied every law of science and cuisinery a seven- and ten-year-old kid in the 1950s could think of. Surely, Dad was going to be in the local paper.

ChickenRunWhen mom and our aunt got home later that night, my brother and I ran to tell them of the incredible accomplishment that we had seen. Dad was our hero. He had saved the day, or at least dinner.

To this day, when one of my egg yolks breaks, I still can’t duplicate what my brother and I saw that night decades ago. The mixed-egg is the Everest I have yet to conquer. Unfortunately, with my cooking skills, or lack thereof, I get lots of practice.

Til next Tuesday

Working Out

BabyBoomerExerciseHaving belonged to many a gym both in L.A. and here in Connecticut-land, I can honestly say that the biggest contingent of gym goers now are Baby Boomers. Why? Because a) we’re just now coming down from the highs of the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, and b) because we look in the mirror after 40 years and think, “What the hell happened?!”

We know what happened. We partied our butts off. Unfortunately, those butts have returned with a vengeance, bigger and not necessarily better. Which is the reason we end up in the human body shop, the gym.

HumanHamsterThe machines in a gym have come a long way since Jack LaLanne and Vic Tanny. There’s no part of the body that doesn’t have its own machine. Okay, maybe not every part, but close to. If there was a machine that could, let’s say, enhance a man’s private parts, would anyone really use it? I mean, seriously. What man wants to be seen by everybody else as trying to “enhance” his member-ship? Even if the machine was in a separate room, everybody’s going to know who’s going in and who’s coming out.

The good ol’ days had their cliques: the athletes, the brainiacs or nerds, the dufuses, the cool kids, etc. If you hang around a gym long enough you won’t see cliques, but you will recognize a couple of main groupings:

HamsterWeightLiftingThe Vulture. These guys and women circle the parking lot looking for a space as close to the entrance as possible. Vultures are also known to park nearby, engines idling, ready to strike as soon as someone within an arm’s length of the front door vacates their space. When that happens, they pounce and grab the spot, triumphant in being only a few steps from the entrance.

Then they go inside, get on a treadmill and run five miles.  

Sweaty Guys. These guys would sweat if they were naked in a meat locker. And they wear that sweat like a badge of honor. You’ve seen the drenched shirts—underarms, front and back—announcing to the world that, “Yes, we work out and we work out hard.” These are also the same guys who refuse to wipe off the equipment after they’re done marking their territory.

Next are the Loud Grunters. Guys, by the way, are the only ones who do this. Women work out just as hard, but you never hear a peep out of them. I don’t know how they do it. Maybe it’s not really a grunt we hear from the men, but just the sound of an undiagnosed testosterone deficiency.

WideGuyThe Big Bang Guys. These are the guys who drop the barbells on the floor from two feet up when they’re done with their reps. The banging sound is supposed to impress the rest of us that there are more plates on those bars than there are at a Duggar family picnic.

The Wide Guys. One of my favorites. These muscle-bound guys are actually wider than they are tall, so wide that they can’t put their arms down by their sides. Their arms are so far from their bodies that if they ran fast enough they’d probably take off.

WhatHappenedBaby Boomers aren’t the only ones at the gym. A lot of younger people work out, too.  Of course, it’s a lot easier to be ripped when you’re in your 20s. So to the younger guys and women strutting their stuff I say, “Yeah, you’re buff now at 23. Enjoy it while you can.  In 40 years, you’re going to look in the mirror and wonder, “What the hell happened?!”

Til next Tuesday

Hardcore

HolidayInnThis is totally weird. Way off track from my usual blog meanderings. And true.

Many years ago I had a very strange experience that always twists my brain whenever I think about it. It was one of those things where you can remember exactly how you felt at the time, one you never forget, one that brings you right back to where you were.

One afternoon, I was in a movie theater on Hollywood Blvd. waiting to see a film titled “Hardcore,” starring Oscar®-winning actor, George C. Scott. Across the street from the theater and up about a block or so was one of those artsy, but cool cylindrical-shaped Holiday Inns. You could see it simply by exiting the theater, looking straight ahead and up a little toward the Hollywood Hills.

So there I am watching this movie. In the movie, George C. is in a Holiday Inn—that Holiday Inn, the one that’s up the street. It wasn’t unusual since most or all of the movie was shot in L.A. So there he is in his room. He walks to the window, pushes back the drapes and looks down. What’s he looking at? A movie theater. The very theater I’m in watching him in the movie looking down at!

That wigged me out!

Now, you know how your mind can have a zillion thoughts in a split nano-second? My mind immediately and totally irrationally says to me, “Run outside and wave to George C. Scott and you can be in the movie.”

Of course, this is immediately and completely negated by another part of my mind saying what I already knew, “It’s a movie, you idiot! And even if George C. Scott is actually looking out the window right now, right this very second, and you run outside and wave at him to get into the movie, you’ll never see yourself in the movie because you’ll be outside waving at George C. Scott, who isn’t really there.”

My mind felt like something you’d see in an Escher print. I still haven’t fully untangled from this experience all these decades later. So if I ever do anything that is totally weird and irrational and you hear about it, you’ll be able to explain it to everyone else.

I don’t know what made me think of this today, but maybe my shrink can figure it out. Wait a minute. His name is George.

I think I’m going to lie down. Hopefully, I’ll recover by next week.

MarblesMind Marble:

We all know that electricity travels at the speed of light. That’s 186,000 miles per second. Not per hour. Not per minute. 186,000 miles PER SECOND! If that’s true, why does my computer take five minutes to boot up?

Til next Tuesday

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