Saturday, March 14, 2020

One More Thing ....

I have a favor to ask!

There is renewed interest in our kid's music and interstitials. Back in my old Dr. Pete E. Atric days, Mike Sexton, Kevin Riley and I produced these spots and actually won an Emmy for one of them "Chicken Named Mac". The other two: "Sunburn Serenade" and "I Am Not a Little Ant" were well received as well,

Take a look:









I talked to Kevin the other day and he was saying how much children's media has exploded and the renewed interest in content. He has been working with many producers on animated movies and stuff. So we decided to create some new cool stuff for kids and brush off our existing stuff as well. 

HERE'S THE FAVOR I ASK:

If you have kids or grandkids and they are glued to the TV or the iPhone ... what are they watching? Send me the popular shows that your kids like so we can get some ideas.

I will keep you posted!



Friday, March 13, 2020

Further Random Thoughts

So unless you’ve just arrived on earth from the planet Zoltar, you know a little about the Coronavirus. Almost as depressing as the latest political interactions among our leaders and wannabes, the virus is now everywhere ... literally.

And I happen to be among the fortunate group known as “corona-screwed”. You know ... the older population who are medically compromised. (As if they really need to add the last part. If you’re old and have not had any medical issues, your unicorn is waiting). And if it’s not bad enough that everyone is limited in their daily activities to reduce the spread of the virus, my group has been told that we could go anywhere in the world as long as it’s within the four walls of our bedrooms.

What does this new world order mean for me? I took stock of my favorite activities and found the limitations to be somewhat daunting.


1. Spending time with grandkids.

Tough to do when I think about one on each arm and one climbing up my back with those adorable runny noses and cute coughs reaching up to my face. They really are cute ... snot and all. But every time I visit I pay the price of a day or two in bed with a cold. The only way to visit and be protected is to separate them with a window and one of those prison phones.

2. Travel to cool places

That’s out. There are no safe places to visit and if I do find one on a deserted island I would still have to travel via the big flying germ factory in the sky. Every time I fly it seems that 75% of the passengers are sneezing and sharing their germs. Can’t open a window either.

3. The Casino

Probably the worst of all. Thousands of degenerate gamblers like me in smoke filled rooms where the object is to collect dirty chips and cash, play with reused dice or push thousands of buttons on slot machines that have been touched by the United Nations.


4. Going to ballgames, concerts and stuff.

Remember when we used to have ballgames and concerts? No more. Oh there might be a game or two played ... but you have to watch it on TV because there are no fans allowed. Just got our Rays season tickets last week. Oh well.

5. Monitoring my retirement fund online.

Talk about depressing. The computer screen has to add another segment on the lower right to be able to capture the descending line. Today it was on the floor next to my computer.




I watched a movie the other day that really had the answer to our problem. Bruce Willis played a cop. The movie was called Surrogates. It was a sci-fi set in the future and the premise was that everyone was connected to perfect replica robots that they mentally controlled from their homes. They could experience everything their robot did and be safe and secure (and waste away in bed).

Well, I didn't say it was a GOOD answer.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

More Random Thoughts From an Old Retired Beach Guy

Ah ... another stressful day on the beach, another milestone birthday under my belt, another doctor visit, another grouper sandwich ... all made me think about putting together a list of the things I miss and the things I don't miss pre and post-retirement.

I'll start with the list of things I don't miss:

1. Traffic between St. Pete and Tampa.

To be more specific ... traffic between downtown St. Pete (my home) and north Tampa (my former office at USF). Truly, for those of you who currently make that commute: I really feel for you. Debbie used to pray for me during my commute both day and night. I think that was to protect me and to protect those who drive close to me.

She actually still keeps an encyclopedia of books about Jesus next to the bed, which she (RELIGIOUSLY) reads every night. I used to sneak a peek before I headed out to “ask him” to watch over me on the Howard Franklin or Gandy. When I talk to him I use his Jewish name, Jacob Smolensky (or Jake the Carpenter).

Thank you, Jake for keeping me safe for the last 11 years.

2. Meetings

I should be more specific here.

Naaaahhhhh!

3. Being the boss.

This might surprise you. Those who have never experienced the joy of leadership, collaboration with fellow staff members and creating destiny might not understand why I don't miss this.

Truth is ... you are never really in control of anything but responsible for everything.

NOTE: I was truly blessed as a boss because I had great staff that really produced incredible results and many became great friends.

Then again, there were others ...

Things I DO miss:

There are A BILLION OF THEM!!!

Friday, February 21, 2020

Random Thoughts From an Old Retired Beach Guy

People often ask, "So what have you been doing since you retired four months ago?" The real answer is "not much" ... which I tell the folks who are non-judgmental. But that only covers about three people. The rest of the world hears a variety of responses like "just clipping coupons, writing the next great American novel, working on my music, traveling, seeing my grandkids, blah blah blah ..."

Nobody really expects great answers. I just feel the urge to be creative. Truth be known, I do all those things I listed (except coupons ... Debbie loves doing that). I start and stop projects in the blink of an eye and have no remorse about completion dates or self imposed deadlines. I had plenty of those throughout the 40 plus years of working at great institutions that molded my character and work ethic.

Now I'm just a character with questionable ethics.

There are certain undeniable truths for me that I will list for those of you that still care about my rambling thoughts:

1. I LOVE being retired and having a calendar that has holes.

I often say that I now feel like a rock star without a band. I never know what day it is; I often forget what's on my calendar and I regularly trash hotel rooms after partying with my coked up bandmates (Okay ... maybe the last one is a complete lie. But I'm not bound by ethics anymore.)

A typical day can include a haircut, a burger at El Capp's, a visit with my grandkids (and their parents, LOL) and a fifth viewing of the latest Curb episode with my idol Larry David.

A month ago we hit the travel circuit and did New York, Vegas and Orlando back to back. Other than a quick trip to the ER in Vegas and then Urgent care in Orlando it was great. Not to worry ... both the medical visits were typical Momberg dramatic moments that had good outcomes.

2. My focus on writing is paying off.

Let's be clear, Hollywood has not called and the New York Times Best Seller list is not saving a spot for my third novel. But I have made progress. I wrote three pages last week before I spent three hours at the casino.

Hey, I told my host that I would visit him from time to time. He is VERY needy.

3. Projects at the house are a priority! 

Debbie (for some reason) can't give her full attention to removing 20 foot palms from our pool area and replacing the fence. She has a lame excuse about her real estate career and working full time. So I have dedicated 20 percent of my schedule to help. Today, I watched them remove the last palm and talked to the landscape guy about next steps.

I'm exhausted.




Sunday, December 15, 2019

What Would You Like to Know?

I want to share something with you about my wife. 

Debbie won’t mind ... she shares information often. Many times she shares even if it’s not part of the original conversation as in ... “So how was your trip?” 
“It was great. I’m one of seven in my family.”

Okay. I exaggerated. She would not answer that question that way. It would be more like. “It was so much fun. I have a big family.” 

Okay ... still an exaggeration (Debbie is editing as I write). 

Here’s a better example. On our recent trip to New York it was so cold every day that it limited our foot travel. When we did venture out it was to visit places we could not avoid like the Rock Center Christmas tree ... every Jewish boy’s dream. Standing there freezing and feeling aches in every one of my joints I said ... “Debbie ... we have to find someplace to sit.” We checked out the numerous places that overlook the skating rink and came to one restaurant that had tables. 

Debbie said “I don’t want anything to eat.”
Me ... in pain. “It’s okay. Let’s just get a table. We can sit and not order.”

We step up to the desk. Debbie says “We don’t want to order anything. We just want to sit there if we can. Well ... we might order drinks but I’m not sure.”

Poker players would kill to include her in their game. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Talking To Strangers ... and other "stranger" things

I am a huge Malcolm Gladwell fan.

Hoping there are those among my readers who are too. His latest book, Talking to Strangers, is truly brilliant. At the end of the day, you might still not know how to talk to strangers but you'll have a much better understanding of why it is challenging to discern the truth.

Gladwell is an engaging storyteller, and in Talking to Strangers, he tells lots of stories. He delves into the Jerry Sandusky pedophilia scandal at Penn State University, the trial of Amanda Knox in Italy, Hitler meeting Chamberlain and convincing him that war was not his priority ... even Sylvia Plath's suicide. The villains are many, ranging from Hernán Cortés, the Spanish conquistador, whose inability to communicate with Aztec ruler Montezuma II led to Montezuma's death and the eventual end of the Aztec empire; to Fidel Castro, who planted a Cuban mole into the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, which the agency, despite troubling warning signs, failed to detect for over a decade; to Bernie Madoff, who conned his way to the top of a massive Ponzi scheme involving some of the biggest institutions on Wall Street.

I could go on and on about the rich contents in this book.

But the basic message is something we can all relate to: Our ability to communicate and truly understand who we meet and talk to every day. We are fallible. Actually more than we even realize. Gladwell presents us with case history after case history where this happens. He tells us that people default to the positive whenever there's a question about validity. In other words, when we meet someone that tells us a story, we tend to believe it. This is not a bad thing. If we were suspicious all the time, we would be pretty miserable all the time. But in the cases of Madoff, Sandusky, Hitler (in the early years) and others, the people who believed that they were honorable people were fooled for years. And these were not trusting ignorant folks that were duped.

There is also a fascinating section on human behavior and crime and suicide rates. The novelist Sylvia Plath took her own life by putting her head in the oven and turning on the gas. At the time of her death, English residents were supplied with "town gas". This was a toxic mixture of chemicals with a large amount of carbon monoxide. The suicide rate among young white women in this era that chose this method was about 45%. Obviously, this was a method of choice. Over the next ten years, England moved to natural gas which had very low toxicity and not enough to cause death. The numbers of white women who committed suicide in general decreased dramatically ... more than half ... proving not only that the change not only decreased rates but also prevented suicide rates overall and that women didn't choose other methods.

Crime rates in Kansas City dropped when police applied successful methods to remove guns and criminals from high crime neighborhoods. AND there wasn't a resurgence in other parts of the city as many thought would occur. Criminals were just like other citizens. They didn't want to move. It was too stressful!

I'll let you discover the rest. You will be amazed at how incredibly interesting this book is. Buy the audio version and you can hear actual interviews.

You'll love it! (you believe me right?)

Monday, November 25, 2019

Bowling Is NOT For Sissies

Went bowling the other day.

Yes, you read that correctly. It was actually the first time that Debbie and I had a real "retiree" date in the afternoon.

We were originally headed for a movie, Motherless Brooklyn, but missed the start time. So we needed a plan for an activity until the movie started. I had the brilliant idea to try bowling (since I hadn't picked up a bowling ball since 1986).

So, we drove the car to the classy lanes close to our neighborhood ... the ones that just had the sign "BOWL" on the building. Inside, it was a different world than the bowling alleys I remember.

First stop was, of course, picking up rental shoes. They were black and had velcro straps. No yellow, red and green stripes with laces that were two miles long. I was stunned. They actually fit too.

The young attendant told us we were on lane ten ... easy to find since there was only one other couple bowling and they were on lane twelve. They had all the gear ... shirts, bowling bag, fancy multicolored balls ... we were in trouble.
But ... undeterred we went on the search for our balls.

There were lots of bright colors like yellow and green and orange. I went right past them and found the old school ball in the corner that looked like it had been just cast aside. The Brunswick Crown Jewel. Who cared if the finger holes were off center and too small ... this was MY ball.

Debbie got a red one I think.

Lane ten didn't have any regular seats or the scoring desk that the transparent score sheets sat on with the overhead monitors that you wrote your scores on with the yellow pencils ... remember those?

None of the lanes had them.

There were these little electronic pads that do it all for you. Man ... you can't play an extra frame or write obscenities on the screen or change your scores.

What are we teaching our children these days?

Speaking of obscenities, there were no shortage of them from the couple on Lane 12. Apparently Mr. Tourette was very particular about his technique and pretty vocal whenever he didn't pick up a spare. He bowled on two different lanes and pretty much knocked down his wife if she bowled too slowly.

Wait until he saw us bowl.

I couldn't figure out the buttons on the crazy pads so we just bowled as Player 1 and Player 2. It really didn't matter because we were equal in every aspect: bad footwork, inability to hit the pins and looking like we were going through drug withdrawal as we released the balls. Mr. and Mrs. Tourette were not impressed. Even though they were a couple of alleys down, they waited their turns until we finished ours. I guess our bad form affected theirs and they apparently needed another reason to curse.  Okay, maybe my constant falling into their lane didn't help.

We finished out of the running for top scores of the year. We DID both break 100 though. (and most of the bones in our bodies).

Good times!

Monday, November 11, 2019

My Rewrte: "BABY, JUST GO OUTSIDE"



I just heard there is a new version of Baby It's Cold Outside recorded by John Legend and Kelly Clarkson. They changed the classic lyrics to make everything politically correct like ...

     The neighbors might think (Baby it's cold outside)
                     to
     What will my friends think? (IT'S YOUR BODY AND YOUR CHOICE)

Really? The song is just a funny song about dating but has been bastardised beyond recognition (because of a few bastards like Cosby and Weinstein). Well ... it's not quite there yet so I took liberties. I rewrote all the guy parts after the first verse to make it palatable and more real.

What do you think?



BABY JUST GO OUTSIDE by Me


I really can't stay
But, baby, it's cold outside
I've got to go away
But, baby, it's cold outside
This evening has been ...'So very nice
I'll hold your hands they're just like ice

My mother will start to worry 
Actually, you're looking a little pale
My father will be pacing the floor 
If you pass out I will too.
So really I'd better scurry.
Is scurry the same as throw up?
Well, maybe just half a drink more 
Uh, I don't think so.

The neighbors might think.
Yeah they're pretty nosey
Say what's in this drink? 
I don't know you made it.
I wish I knew how to break this spell. 
I'll hold your head you don't look well.

I ought to say no, no, no, sir.
I'll just warm up the car.
At least I'm gonna say that I tried
It's been a "trying" kind of night.
I really can't stay
I heard you ... Baby, just go outside

I simply must go 
I know I know
The answer is no
Are you seeing a therapist
The welcome has been ... So nice and warm 
You've spilled your drink right down my arm 

My sister will be suspicious
The one with the green hair and tattoos?
My brother will be there at the door 
That's cause no one let's him in.
My maiden aunt's mind is vicious
No duh
But maybe just a cigarette more
Four packs aren't enough?

I got to get home
Yes ... I definitely agree.
Say lend me a coat
The one you threw up on?
You've really been grand 
Yeah ... I'm such a real prince.

There's bound to be talk tomorrow 
You got that right.
At least there will be plenty implied
If you're talking murder ... I'm close.
I really can't stay 
NO YOU CAN'T 
BABY JUST GO OUTSIDE!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

A Love Letter to Tom


Today, we said goodbye to Tom.

This is a hard line to write. I keep rereading it as I write this post about a guy who has touched so many lives and has had such an incredible impact on how we live ours. Ironically, Tom was such a humble guy and would probably hate all this focus on him. He also hated too much sentimentality and embraced irreverence. He would never forgive me if I didn't say something about farting at this point.

Tom Masterson was my brother in law, married to Debbie's twin sister Dennie, and the closest thing to a blood brother I had since my own brother passed away 20 years ago. He and Dennie have three great kids who married three great kids and who now have a total of eight great kids of their own. We have a big family ... very big family ... a real blessing when you're fighting a horrible disease like pancreatic cancer.

Tom was a medical malpractice attorney. No, he was not the billboard grinning, shiny suit ambulance chaser. Tom was an ethical, professional, compassionate attorney who stood heads above the rest. He was given just about every award of excellence that the Bar Association awards every year.

He was loved by everyone. That's not an exaggeration. He really was. And as I said earlier ... he was irreverent with friends and family, telling jokes and playing jokes on just about all of them. And I really think that we all loved him for it because we knew that he truly loved everyone he joked with and about. Tom was an encyclopedia of jokes. He remembered every one he'd ever heard. I was so jealous of that because I forgot every joke as soon as I told one.

Did I mention farting?

Tom was an athlete all his life. His real love was judo. He competed on the big stage, trained athletes and went to the olympics as a coach. They all remained very close over the years. Apparently, that was where Tom got his finely tuned sense of irreverence. Spending an evening with the judo buddies is not for the faint of heart. I had that pleasure often and marvelled at the stories ... the brutal punishments they dished out on the mats ... and in the locker rooms (even I can't tell you some of those stories).

Tom died of complications from pancreatic cancer. He fought against the odds for three years and finally lost one of the few matches in which he'd ever competed. He never complained. You would have never even known he was feeling any pain or discomfort. He travelled with the family, went swimming with the grandkids and had regular lunches with the guys until the very end.

He was my hero, He was a real man ... in yiddish we call that a "mensch".

So I would like to ask you to do me a favor after you read this. In Tom's memory I'd like you to muster up all your strength and let out one last beautiful FART.

I know he's smiling.    

Saturday, July 13, 2019

I Used To Draw Good

Once upon a time, when I was a young college student (231 years ago), I dreamed of being a famous illustrator/cartoonist. My college years were in the heyday of Doonesbury and Peanuts. I majored in Graphic Design and set up my drawing board, cleaned off my rapidiograph pens and went to work. These were the days before computer animation and design so everything was done by hand. 

NOTE: Please bear with me as I dig up these obscure past documents that I have come across because I'm getting a little bored with sitting around talking to my hip.

Okay where was I? 


Oh Yeah ... so I start working at All Children's Hospital in the 80s and become the Marketing/Communications Director and find a dearth of great material from the docs and the nurses and volunteers and the kids. I didn't remember half of these until I recently looked through my stuff.

Some of them don't even suck. I thought I'd share them with you in case you need more material at bedtime to put you to sleep. Remember, there is a reason I moved into Development work.

The radiologist at All Children's was a great model. These were pretty accurate. He had his kindergarten diploma framed and prominently displayed in his office. \

Okay ... one more and I promise I'll leave you alone.


Until next time when I uncover some other useless gem!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Hip Ways to Sleep

Three weeks out and my hip is finally acting like it’s a real part of my body. Although, there are still days that I have apparently made my new hip very unhappy. Those are the days that I need a little help to calm him down.

Tramadol is the answer.

I take it before bed to help with pain and to help me sleep. It works. Actually, it works so well that sometimes I fall asleep before my head hits the pillow. Sometimes I can’t tell the difference between sleeping, dreaming and having a long conversation.

Deb told me the other night I had a whole conversation with myself, laughed a lot and then had a whole conversation with her. Deb doesn’t know whether to answer, wake me up or just listen. She's heard all the old wives tales about waking up a sleepwalker so she figured that applied sleep talkers too. So ... she usually just listens.

Last night I asked a Debbie what she meant about breaking her spine and wanted to know how she flew around like that. This time I was awake when I asked her but asleep during the first part of the conversations. I swore that the conversation actually happened ... then I went back to sleep.

Tramadol is not for the faint of heart or faint of stomach. That's right ... stomach. Use it long enough and you experience some pretty unpleasant symptoms. I'll leave it there.

Fortunately, I don't need it as much these days. Feeling much better! The doctor took out the sutures yesterday and said I'm making progress. Hope to see you soon.

Right after I get out of the bathroom.



One More Thing ....

I have a favor to ask! There is renewed interest in our kid's music and interstitials. Back in my old Dr. Pete E. Atric days, Mike ...