Monday, October 9, 2017

And Another Thing About North Carolina ...

So ... we are at the airport just about to leave Asheville. I decided to write a few more highlights from the trip because the sisters said I left out soooo much (their words).

1. Cards Against Humanity ... ever heard of it? It is truly a blast to play (but not for the faint hearted or those with an aversion to words that describe bodily functions of ALL types). We played the game ... which was given to us by Josh and Theresa (so proud of those kids) on the second night.

The twins were in the "how disgusting!" category, Lee and Keli were in the clueless category and the guys were in hog heaven. After explaining in detail every perversion known to man on each card that the girls drew, we played a few rounds ... laughing more at them than the answers to the questions.

Last laugh was on the guys ... the twins won the first two sets, beating all of us.

2. Planning FUTURE trips. There was a heated discussion lasting on and off for pretty much the entire weekend about a girls' trip in January or February to celebrate Keli's and Courtney's birthdays in Austin. ("Why Austin?" we asked ... "Duh! Because we haven't been there!") There was great consternation, apparently, in planning such an important event because finding a weekend was VERY stressful and very difficult. Deciding who was to be invited created additional stress and who would EXPECT to get invited created even more stress. Seriously ... these discussions sometimes broke into heated debates that lasted hours. (Guys pick a date, a place and then if you can't make it they go without you.)

3. Personal stories. I can't really tell you what the family secrets were that we all talked about because I'd have to kill you ... but let's just say ... most had to do with prairie dogs, circus acts, dating 80 year old guys and not knowing what was going on because the person in question wasn't born yet and was the youngest there and STILL didn't know after we discussed names and dates, Keli (oh sorry).

4. BB Gun. The guys (well mostly Mark and I) shot a BB gun from the porch aiming at tin cans, logs and cardboard boxes. Every once in a while a child or two would stroll by but we only wounded one of them slightly (NOT ... in case you think I actually tell the truth).

In all seriousness ... women and children were VERY safe. We probably shot about  a hundred BBs and hit the sand and water just about 97% of the time. The other three shots were never found!   



Oh Well ... they just called us to board  ... TTFN!!!




Sunday, October 8, 2017

In My Mind I'm Going (Crazy) in Carolina

Flew to North Carolina on Thursday to spend a few days with the Gallagher sisters and all us tag along spouses. Debbie and Dennie have birthdays on October 19 and really wanted to celebrate at the Masterson cabin in Lake Glenville ... but because that weekend we'll be at a football game in New Orleans ... we decided to celebrate this weekend instead.

Started out at St. Pete Clearwater Airport and wound up in a remote parking area that we didn't knew existed, waited in multiple lines of confusion, were shepherded into the only security lane open and finally settled into our seats on Allegiant Air to Asheville  ... in other words ... business as usual. Actually, from there it was pretty uneventful. Rented a car and drove about an hour to the cabin and didn't get lost once!

It's truly a beautiful spot.

Nestled in the mountains, Tom and Dennie's cabin sits high above Lake Glenville and is big enough to accommodate the eight of us very comfortably.

By the way .. the family shot was taken a few miles down the road at a restaurant called Canyon Kitchen last night. Good food ... even better atmosphere. Three or four bottles of wine later, we all hopped on the couch back at the cabin while Tom introduced Keli to Blazing Saddles on DVD. She hadn't seen it or heard of it so Tom thought that it would be a good idea for her to enjoy one of the top classic comedies of all time. Not a good plan. Forty eight questions later (I don't get it ... why is the Indian speaking yiddish? Okay ... so I think I understand the story. They are in a town right? And he's a bad guy ...? Why is Mongo tied up? This isn't very funny.) we finally all passed out from exhaustion.

This shot was taken on our pontoon trip around the lake.

I focused on the sisters because of the long discussions about "where were you when ...?" I think we probably all do this when we get older because we suffer with CRS disease. The lengthiest was "where were you staying when sister Patty got married?" Steve patiently steered the boat back and forth in front of the cabins that were the site of the wedding and apparently the accommodations. "I stayed there ... no you didn't ... it was a duplex ... I think it was actually over there ... really? I remember that site ... and so on.

We also tend to repeat ourselves alot. Lee mentioned that she downloaded 135 pictures no less than 5 times at the kitchen table one morning. Keli played that ANNOYING song SONOFABITCH at least a thousand times. Thank heaven one morning Mark and Steve blasted it in her ears when she was sleeping. That stopped her for a few hours.

Even breakfast came with some playful insults. 

Debbie made me scrambled eggs yesterday and her sisters lambasted her for doing this. "You make your husband breakfast?"

Steve asked me to take this picture and send it to him so he would know what at home breakfast looks like and also show it to Lee as a guide. 

Remember the movie TED?

Well Mark got a couple of Thunder Buddy sleepers at WALMART on the way in and modeled them with Steve.

Not to be outdone ... Deb and Den did too.

Keli was in the background of course playing SONOFABITCH ... Arrrrgggghhhhh.

Apparently the Thunder Buddy gods were unhappy because it's been raining today ever since!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Cleaning Day

Today, Debbie and I did a project together.

To be exact ... for me ... it sounded like the project from hell. We were tackling my office and my closet. Deb has been after me for years to clean out all the clutter that I call my "treasures".

Today she said she would do it with me so I jumped at the chance because ...
1. Debbie is the most organized person I know,
2. I am the least organized person I know.
3. I knew that meant she would be totally frustrated with me "helping" and just basically do it herself.

We started with my closet.

I dove into receipts from 1978, slot tickets for $.37, name tags from every event I ever attended, 38 pairs of headsets, cuff links that don't match and of course a few hundred dollars in pennies and dimes.

My idea to clean it out was to get a big trash bag and just dump it all in.

Debbie was horrified!

There is a method, Deb told me: Build piles. One pile is all the receipts and papers that have financial information (to be shredded). Another pile is for jewelry and electronics. A third pile is all the crap that can just go directly to the garbage. A fourth was really the change jar that sits right next to the junk drawer that I was too lazy to use.

There was a quick glance at my tee shirts.

Debbie had a momentary look of excitement thinking this was her chance to finally get rid of tee shirts I hadn't even seen in thirty years.

"NO!!!" That was where I towed the line.

"But you don't even use these!"

"So what?"

"Okay ... okay ... we will tackle that another time."

I was relieved and pretty exhausted by now because I had spent about 20 minutes so far actually cleaning. Deb took pity on me and said that she would start on the office.

I just peeked in and there were about a dozen piles so far. I'm gonna have to lie down for a few minutes. I'll finish this later.


  

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Ate at Bonefish on Friday night.

Our server was brand new. She was very pleasant and reminded me of the cheery round nun in that Whoopi Goldberg movie Sister Act ... even had the same voice.

"Would we like to start with an appetizer?"

Okay ... here's one of my biggest pet peeves. Why do some servers have to include themselves in the order? Is she having an appetizer with us?

I just let that one pass ... "Actually, I would love to get the bang bang shrimp."

"Mmmmm my favorite too. What would we like to drink tonight?"

Strike two. Deb ordered wine ... I had scotch.

"And for dinner?" That was better. no 'we' or 'us' in that statement. Deb spoke up. "We are going to split the lobster tails and have the corn chowder and salads."  It was a celebration night and Deb had closed a big sale.

Dinner was delicious and the universal 'we' was put to bed ... or so WE thought. "Any dessert for US?"

"Um ... no ... should WE just split the bill?" She giggled. Totally unaware of what I meant and ... as it turned out ... of how she used the 'we' word.

"Oh my God (very un-nun like)." After I explained that she did in fact do that when she took our orders."I have always thought that was so rude and kinda dumb when I hear other servers say that. I do that?" She paused to take a deep breath. "Thanks for telling me that. I will NEVER do that again."

I laughed and told her it was just one of those pet peeves.

"Okay ... well ... Is there anything else WE need?" Smiling from ear to ear with her head cocked to one side in her own world.  "If not, I will just run and get US the bill."  

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A NOVEL Idea

Trying out a few ideas for a novel with the central character based on my dad, Sammy. I'm not sure where its going but I've experimented with a screenplay and now a novel.

Here's a sample chapter. What do you think?

************************************
        Barry wheeled Sammy into Haim’s Deli. As soon as he stepped through the front door, the unmistakable smells and sounds of the delicatessen settled over Barry’s senses and calmed him. He spotted Haim Shear working behind the counter, slicing meat carefully in long strips and placing them in butcher rap. Haim learned the business from his father, Izzy. He carried on the tradition when Izzy passed away 10 years ago and bought the building that bears his name today. 

“Sam. You’re looking pretty chipper today.”  Haim yelled across the counter as he spotted the Levines. “Is Barry taking you out on the town today?”

Sammy pointed to the meat counter. “Say, Haim  ... Make me a corned beef on rye very lean ... lots of mustard and potato salad.” 


“Coming right up. Barry ... what can I get for you?”

“Pastrami for me ... the works.”

“Oh … Haim ...” Sammy added. “This is my son, Barry.”

“A fine looking boy, Sammy.” He winked at Barry. “Sit. Sit. I’ll bring it over.”

Barry slipped Sammy’s wheelchair into a table and settled into his seat.

“Did I tell you that Bertha died?” Sammy looked at Barry.

“Who died?”

“Bertha. Remember Bertha? She used to sit with me at lunch and dinner. She died ... Another one dead ... They’re dropping like flies. I really liked Bertha. She had a real asshole for a daughter though ... never came to see her.” 

“I remember Bertha. I didn’t think you liked her.”

“She was a lovely woman. She stopped sitting with me about a year ago. Said something about me to the nurses. I guess I didn’t have good table manners. What are you gonna do?” 

Sammy pulled out his wallet. It was worn and thin just like him. He took out a piece of folded paper and handed it to Barry. “Barry ... I want you to do me a favor.”

Haim came up to the table with lunch and set down the plates.

“Okay ... Corned beef for Mr. Sam and Pastrami for the boychik. Anything else?”

Sammy grabbed the note back again quickly. “No nothing. This is fine.” 

Sammy shooed Haim away as Barry grabbed his sleeve. “Thanks Haim ... this looks great.”

Barry took the note and opened it. Sammy closed it. “No, no not here. Don’t open it here.”

“Top secret, huh? Is this the formula for Coca Cola?”

“What? What are you talking about Barry? This is very important to me and I need your help. It’s no joke.”

“I will guard it with my life. The last note is still in a safe place at the house. I remember the coded words ... ‘sans-a-belt pants in size 34 and a bar of soap’.”

“Always joking. Ha ha ha. Well this is not a joke Barry. It’s very important to me so try to do what I ask.”

“I will. How’s your lunch?”

“Too much fat on the corned beef. This should be lean. Haim must be getting his meat from gentiles. It’s not like the old days. Remember Izzy’s? Now that was great food.” 

Barry’s mind drifted back in time. He was sitting at Izzy’s as a little boy. The usual crowd was there. Lots of old Jews yelling at their children, talking with their mouths full and gesturing wildly. At his table were Sammy and his mom, Esther. They were in their 40s then. He and his younger brother Mikey were sitting across from them. 

Younger Sammy spoke. “Too much damned fat on this corned beef. I’m not gonna pay Izzy for kosher meat if he keeps serving this crap.” Sammy grumbled and then turned his attention to Barry. “Don’t play with your food. Look at your little brother. He’s four years younger than you and eats like a real gentleman.” 

Barry answered. “Mikey’s eating crackers and cheerios with his fingers.”

“And he sits up very straight.” Esther pinched Mikey’s cheek. “Such a good boy”.

“Eat your food Barry.” Sam said. “Listen to your mother.”

“You’re not eating yours.”

“I’m an adult, Barry. The difference is that you just need to listen and eat.”

Barry continued to stare at present day Sammy.

“Barry. What the hell’s wrong with you?”

“Huh? Oh. Just thinking.” 

“Well. I’m ready to go if you are.”

Barry grabbed the check and walked to the deli counter.

“Oh ... And Barry tell Haim how delicious the sandwich was. I loved it.”

Haim smiled at Sammy and rung up the check for Barry.

“He LOVES it Haim.”

“God’s got a special place for you, Barry.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of.”

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Great Game ... Someone Tell The Guy Sitting Behind Me

Great game yesterday between the Rays and Red Sox.

Sitting there in the stadium, I felt a mix of euphoria and claustrophobia. My euphoria was brought on by the quality of the game and the quality of my eyesight. Great plays ... and I saw them all. I saw the ball ... CLEARLY. So if an errant pitch or a random foul ball came into the stands, I could clearly see it right before it hit me in the eye and destroyed my vision forever.

Ironically, that comforted me.

My claustrophobia on the other hand was caused by a loud, obnoxious, dorky looking guy in his sixties and another guy named Derek ... sitting right behind me. I only know Derek's name because he used it in every sentence. Loud talker is really a conservative description for this guy. Just ask the ten rows in front of me.

He had comments about every play. The good ones would all make the highlight reel.

"Derek ... that's a HIGHLIGHT reel on ESPN. I'm telling you ... that's a HIGHLIGHT reel play. I bet anything it's on the highlights tonight. Don't you think so Derek?"
"Yeah ..."
"Better BELIEVE it ... how about you buddy (to someone two rows back) Highlight reel right? I can guarantee it."

Every time someone hit a fly ball he said ... "That's it ... HOME RUN!" When they were just pop ups he'd correct himself and say ... "Should of been a home run ... You see Derek ... (he demonstrates) if they got their power behind it like this ...(if he hits me in the back if the head I will KILL him).

 He didn't take a breath the entire time. I know about his entire family ... his mom for example ...

"You know, Derek ... mom has a fear of poverty."
"I don't think its a fear ..."
"Derek ... it is a fear ... a real fear."
"I think ..."
"Derek listen I know what I'm saying ... she has a REAL FEAR."
"Maybe she just is frugal ..."
"Derek, Derek, Derek ... she's afraid of being poor. It's a FEAR its a real FEAR!"
"If you say so."
"Derek, Derek ... I KNOW so ..."

I wanted to turn around and say ... "DEREK JUST AGREE WITH HIM DAMMIT!" It was like that kid on you tube who says "Linda listen ... Listen Linda ... LEEENDA LISTEN" Except that kid was cute and funny.

Then there was a conversation about the price of the seats.

"You know ... I paid about $50 more for these seats but they're great  ... these seats .. got them on Stubhub  ... I could have gotten other ones ... but I like these ... I don't care about being behind the net at home plate ... I don't care if a ball hits me (OH PLEASE LET A BALL HIT YOU) ..."

I know that he's a car salesman, he is on an investment chat site where he's learning how to invest and was instructing Derek on the fine points of IRAs, and that he dates a nurse ...

"Derek ... are you seeing anyone?"
"Um ... well I have been seeing this girl I met at a bar ..."
"Derek ... if I were you, I'd look for a nurse like my girlfriend (he has a girlfriend???)."
"Well I do know a nurse ..."
"Is she an RN or an LPN?"
"I don't know .."
"Derek ... does she work at a hospital?
"Um"
"...doctor's office?"
"I think ..."
"Is she a physician's assistant?"
"A what?''
"Oh Derek ... you gotta learn these things ... now a physician's assistant makes more money ... and let me tell you what else she does ... (I'll save you the graphic details)."

Thank the Lord it was a fast game ... I don't know if I could have done extra innings. In the 9th, Alex Colome pitched. He apparently didn't like Alex.

"Uh oh Derek ... here he comes ... Colome ... inconsistent ... big mistake ... wouldn't have put him in. What the hell are they thinking? Oh great ... now he walked that guy. They should have taken him out after the first batter. BUM! BUM!"

Colome winds up getting three outs with the bases loaded and wins the game.

"Derek ... SEE I TOLD you when he's on ... he's so GOOD!"

Kill me (or him) NOW.  




  

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Better Call Saul or at least ... Watch Him!

Better Call Saul is the Breaking Bad spinoff that tells the backstory of Saul Goodman, the sleazeball lawyer played by Bob Odenkirk. Deb and I started watching the first two seasons on Netflix this past week when I was home between cataract surgeries.

It is brilliant!

One critic said: "It is already better than Breaking Bad, and has a shot—if it stays this good—at being one of the best television shows ever made ...

Better Call Saul takes the style that made Breaking Bad distinctive—the cinematography, dark comedy, and brashly confident pacing—and elevates it by applying it with more beauty, subtlety, and moral sophistication. "

I'm gonna save all the details about plot and characters and let you be surprised and entertained.

Don't miss it!