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.



Monday, July 1, 2019

Cocktail Napkins are Just Plain Useless

Cocktail napkins are truly one of the most useless creations of out time.

I held one the other day and wondered who ever thought that this was a good idea? I guess napkin manufacturers saw a market for them or at least a pretty good profit margin.  They cost almost as much as full sized napkins and are less than half the size.

So here’s what they are used for.

1. Protecting the bar top from your cocktail glass dreaded rings.

Let’s look at that for a second. Have you ever put your drink on a cocktail napkin for more than a minute? What happens? It falls apart, shreds, and creates more liquid on the bar than your original glass. What’s wrong with coasters? And have you checked out bar tops lately? They really need protection?

2. To hold at a cocktail party when apps are passed around.

How does that work for you? It is the companion to a small paper plate that holds one egg roll which you eat in one bite and search for somewhere to throw your cocktail napkin away.

3. If you feel a sneeze coming on it might be a handy thing to keep in your pocket.

Oh yeah. That works well. One of my sneezes is enough to create a mud slide. Obviously the cocktail napkin wouldn’t come close to containing my sneezes. It doesn’t even contain my nose.

Who would sit around and worry about these kind of things? Me. I’ll put it aside for now. There are more important things to worry about. Like ... what do you do with the toothpick that was in the watermelon squares. 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Try Schitt's Creek ... My New FAVORITE Series

Oh yeah.

As if the title isn't funny enough ... the plotline, the characters and the writing will keep you in stitches. Many thanks to Carol Long who turned me on to this series after my last blog post.

This is one you'll want to binge watch on Netflix.

The plot centers on a wealthy couple (video magnate Johnny Rose and his soap opera star wife Moira) who suddenly find themselves completely broke. With their one remaining asset, a town they bought as a joke called Schitt's Creek, this couple must give up life as they know it. They move with their two spoiled children to the town's one motel.     

Eugene Levy (Johnny) is the producer and co creator with his son, Daniel Levy (David Rose). Levy is a familiar face to all who are fans of the Christopher Guest films ... Spinal Tap, Mighty Wind, Best of Show, and more. as is his co-star Catherine O'Hara (Moira).   

Watch it this week. YOU WILL THANK ME.
  

Friday, June 21, 2019

Top 5 Movies And Their Sequels to Binge Watch When You Are Recovering from Surgery and Stuck Inside For More Than a Week

Here's my list of my go-to films that I never get tired of watching. I thought I'd share just a few ...

1. VACATION (2015) This sequel to the National Lampoon Vacation series is truly hilarious. Ed Helms plays Rusty Griswold (son of Clark "Sparky") all grown up with his own family. Christina Applegate plays his wife Debbie.

By the way ... if you are one of the three people left in the world that hasn't seen the original Chevy Chase Vacation series rent these first (especially Christmas Vacation and Vegas Vacation). You don't have to see these to understand the sequel but it makes it funnier. Actually ... rent them again even if you've seen them in the past. They are timeless.

Rusty's sister Audrey (Lesie Mann) is married to Stone Crandall (Chris Hemsworth). Some of the funniest moments are at Stone's house when they stop there on the way to ... of course ... WALLY WORLD driving in their Tartan Prancer an over complicated Albanian SUV.

2. DADDY'S HOME Another sequel movie with Mark Wahlberg (Dusty Mayron) and Will Ferrell (Brad Whitaker). It follows the original movie that ended with the two of them create a system of co-dads where the two kids spend an equal amount of time at each fathers' house. 

Enter their two dads: Mel Gibson, the tough fighter pilot and John Lithgow, the soft hearted kiss-on- the-lips dad.

Will Ferrell again makes it all work. The guy cracks me up just looking at him.

3.ROCKY ... All of them! Of course this is
on my list every year because I NEVER get tired of any of them. There is so much debate about which one is the best. I frankly don't care because I watch them in order and love every second.

When you finish Rocky ... try Creed 1 and 2. They are just as good.

ADRIAN!

5. DIE HARD. Doesn't have to be Christmas to watch these. Bruce Willis is another timeless hero whether he's got hair, a toupee or bald ... he is one tough character.

Yippee ki-yay .....

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" ... ...