Sunday, June 27, 2010

Do Over: What Do YOU Feed Your Babies?

It's the end of the week. Time for reflection and time for rest.

I'm recycling some of my favorites ... and hope they will become yours.
Published December 27, 2009

When he was born, my father-in-law took one look and said to me,"Put a visor on this kid and give him a cigar and you've got a helluva blackjack dealer."

That was Josh.

His voice turned raspy at a young age ... so he always told stories just like he was an old man. Speaking of stories ... his would go on forever because he competed for "stage time" with his sisters. Alissa would tell her favorite story "The Wide Mouth Frog" (about a frog who met other animals and asked "What do you feed your babies?")

When his turn came around, he would combine details from every story he'd ever heard ... "Once upon a time there were three bears ... who asked Mrs Alligator, What do you feed your baby ... and then Goldilocks told the wolf that .... um ... there were ... um ..."

Alissa ... "Josh ... that is not a real story ...."


Josh's room was a typical boy's room ... disaster area. There was a time when he was about two that his room was exceptionally nasty ... the smell would carry through the whole house. His mom cleaned his carpet every week but it still smelled awful. Our old dog Sammy had died that year ... so we couldn't blame him for the smell. We just couldn't figure it out.

One day I was walking by the room and happened to notice Josh standing on his top bunk bed with his pants down around his knees. There was a steady pee stream arching from Josh to the corner of his room.

His mother was not impressed ... but I have to say ... I was.

Mystery solved!


We went to the Rays game last night. We won, by the way ... 5-3 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

It's been a tough series of games after our unprecedented record. We had the best record in baseball for the entire season ... until a few weeks ago.

I looked for Manager Joe Maddon but he was relatively quiet this game.

On Thursday, however, he wasn't. Joe did an amazing job of arguing a balk call against Matt Garza. If you don't follow baseball and don't know what a balk is ... you are not alone. No one apparently does.

Here's the rule:

A motion made by the Pitcher to deliver the ball to the bat without delivering it, except the ball be accidentally dropped, or The ball be held by the Pitcher so long as to delay the game unnecessarily, or Any motion to deliver the ball, or the delivering of the ball to the bat by the Pitcher when any part of his person is upon ground outside the lines of his position. When after being once warned by the Umpire, the Pitcher continues to deliver the ball with his hand passing above his shoulder.

Confused? So are the umpires.

There's another rule: You can't argue with an umpire about a balk. So ... instead ... Joe went to the mound to argue with his pitcher within ear range of the umpire ... went something like this:

Maddon: "Matt, how could you possibly balk right here? Two nights in a row, how could we possibly have that same balk call called against that we pretty much do all the time".

Cederstrom (ump): "Are you talking to me?"

Maddon: "No ... I'm talking to my pitcher. (to Garza) Matthew ... every other pitcher in the big leagues does this on a consistent basis and never gets called for this."

Garza held his glove in front of his mouth so he wouldn't laugh. Cederstrom ejected Maddon for the third time this season.

The Rays went on to beat the Padres in that game 5-3.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Home Movies

I've been writing a novel for over 20 years.

There are probably two dozen drafts on my computer. I don't even open any of them up any more ... because I have gotten so lost from one version to the next. When I started, the plot was easy to follow:

Buddy Rosen, Kindergarten teacher, uses old home movies to teach his class. He buys them at garage sales and uses them as "story starters" with his young students. One day, Buddy buys a box of movies from the flea market ... and when he shows it to his class ... he realizes they were his own movies that were lost when he was a child. He recognizes all but one reel, the last one. His Father and Mother were both much older. Interestingly, they both "died" when they were in their 30s ... Buddy was still a little boy.  
What follows is a series of plot twists, love affairs, murders and good old fashioned chase scenes. There are crooked politicians,  smart detectives, hometown rubes, bar girls ... just about everything you need to write a good book or a country song.

I wasn't satisfied when I finished the first time.

Nah ... Buddy needed to be a college professor who taught psychology. He was given the films by a beautiful stranger who turns out to be a childhood sweetheart ... no ... she's a detective who has been chasing him ... no ... she doesn't really exist in the world as we know it. And Buddy .... well he doesn't teach at all ... not since his father committed suicide and Buddy found him ... or maybe his father was really his sister who became a cross dressing policeman who liked to film movies ...

You see? That's why I don't read them any more.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Do Over: Growing Up (Quickly) In New Orleans

It's the end of the week. Time for reflection and time for rest.
I'm recycling some of my favorites ... and hope they will become yours.
Published August 22, 2009

New Orleans is an interesting place to spend one's childhood ... especially during the 50's and the 60's. The neighborhoods were melting pots of color, dialects and humidity. The drinking age was 18 ... which translated to "if you can reach the bar you'll get served a drink". In our neighborhood that meant the Raven (I'll save Raven stories for another time).

We lived in a lot of neighborhoods. In the early years, we lived in the Uptown area (General Pershing St., Octavia St., Belfast St., Jena St. ... for those who know the area). Dad worked for a furniture store in the French Quarter (Holtzman's ... not around anymore) as a salesman and bill collector. In those days, he used to go door to door to collect from customers. I remember as a little boy tagging along when he'd ring doorbells. We didn't have much more money than the customers that were late with their bills. In fact, I think there were a few times that bill collectors came to our door too. (Maybe that's why we moved around alot.)

My favorite neighborhood was Belfast St. I remember the Quinlans, Roger and Tommy ... Tommy had a double "ah hernya" operation one summer that he was proud of. The Fishman's across the street ... I was over at his house alot. Nobody visited me ... they were all afraid of my mother. Down the street were the Gumas. Paul Guma was a musician and arranger for Pete Fountain and I was friends with his daughter, Crystal.

A few blocks away were "the projects" and living in one of the shotgun houses on the periphery was Alan Toussaint. For those that are not aware, Toussaint is one of the premiere musicians/songwriters in the world and was just inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. My Uncle Smitty introduced me to him when I was about 7 years old. Uncle Smitty was Irvin Smith who owned Smith Records on St. Charles Ave. and Instant Records (a small recording studio that had artists like Irma Thomas and Benny Spellman).

I used to visit Alan Toussaint from time to time and he was kind enough to listen to my feeble attempts at songwriting at that age. He always had a couple of singers hanging out on his porch doing a cappella harmonies that ... to this day ... I can still hear.

We had an old upright piano in the basement of the house on General Pershing Street. The former owner of the house must have left it there. I stuck thumbtacks on the exposed hammers and got that honky tonk bluesy sound that Toussaint had when I'd listen to him play. The piano was probably way out of tune ... but I wailed out tunes and thought I was the best piano player that ever lived. Allan Toussaint taught me some great riffs and ... as I stumbled through them ... he used to say how great I sounded.

What a wonderful liar and a brilliant musician he was.

Friday, June 18, 2010

It Was Great Talking to You

I spoke to my brother last week.

These days, I do all of the talking. Last week it was about everything from funny stuff we did as kids to funny stuff my kids are doing today. He used to steal my mattress when we shared a room. He thought mine was much more comfortable than his so I let him think I didn't notice. Every night, I'd put some toy soldiers or little train cars under his mattress. He eventually traded back (thinking mine had somehow gotten much more uncomforatble).

We reminisced about Esther... and the tricks that we would dream up to drive her crazy. One night I told Wayne to hide in the closet. I put a pair of his pajama bottoms over the air vent that sat over the floor into the closet. I put slippers over the foot holes so that when the air was on, the pants ballooned and looked like Wayne was stuck in the vent.  At the right time ... I yelled to Mom that Wayne was stuck in the vent. She ran into the room as Wayne started moaning from the closet ... then she literally ran outside and started to yell for all the neighbors to help pull Wayne out. When Wayne and I appeared outside ... I pretended it was a miracle that I pulled him out. She never noticed that he had different bottoms on.

Over the last 15 years, Wayne has been in my thoughts just about every day. The last few months, I've spoken to him often for strength and for guidance. Wayne passed away in 1995 from a malignant brain tumor. I remember the way he lived his life. I remember how he continued on ... kept a positive attitude ... despite multiple surgeries, bone marrow transplantation and loss of bodily functions. He made a point of helping others in need of support during the years that he could.

He's still a great listener.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cyberknife Part 2

Well .... today was my 5th and LAST Cyberknife treatment.

I had a brief graduation ceremony with the staff where they presented me with my official Jason Mask (left).

This mask was specially fitted for me out of warm wax poured over my face during a brain mapping study. We became very "close". Not exactly like Wilson and Tom Hanks ... but then again ... Wilson kept his distance ... My little buddy fit just like Jim Carrey.

It was clamped to the bed and held my head in place for the duration of the treatments.

Looks claustrophobic ... huh?

NOW you know why I used Mother's Little Helpers for the first two sessions!

Once I got used to the mask ... It really wasn't that bad.

The treatments were painless, there were no side effects, no pain ... PLUS I developed super human strength ... I think I even grew a couple of feet in the process ... my color has changed a little ...

But here's the really special part: Somehow ... the cyberknife taught me how to tap dance. And one of my doctors signed me up to do a Broadway tour of Young Frankenstein with him next year.

See? You never know how things will turn out in the end.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Cyberknife Part 1

*** Breaking news ***

Momberg Goes Cyber

I know there are some other things happening in the world ... we're right in the middle of some of them now. USF is at the forefront of the BP oil spill ... in fact we are asking them for $100 million for our consortium of Florida universities to help solve the environmental problems.

But ... my mind is literally in cyberspace.

That's right ... I started my cyberknife treatments this week and I wanted to share in Part One what my carefully laid out preparation process is for of each treatment.

First there are Mother's Little Helpers.

Better known as Xanax, these help me relax as they put on my Friday the 13th Jason mask (be sure to look for this in Part 2), strap me in and zap my brain.

One of these babies and I practically watch the procedure outside my body.

Secondly, there's my IPhone/IPod.

They let me crank up the volume during the procedure as I listen to a variety of tunes from Randy Newman, Irma Thomas, The Little Willies, Kinky Friedman and Paul Simon.

Randy sings to me about Harps and Angels while Irma belts out Ruler of My Heart.

Third is Prayer.

Debbie taught me this one. Jews don't really pray like this. Our prayers are something like ..."Oh my God ... what part of my damned body is gonna fall off next?"

I prefer this more subtle approach.

My insurance policy is Holy Water.

Before my first treatment, Debbie reached into her bag and pulled out this little bottle and did the sign of the cross on my face. It only burned a little ... but it was worth it.

By the way, she got this from some remote church and refills it regularly. A fact you might not know: You can refill this with plain water because there is still holiness in the bottle.

I'm learning SO MUCH during this time.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Jason Returns

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Do Over: The Family Jewels Part 2

It's the end of the week. Time for reflection and time for rest. So ... I took a cue from one of my favorite bloggers, Chrissy, who publishes Second Hand Sundays on her very funny blog "I Should've Been a Stripper".

I'm recycling some of my favorites ... and hope they will become yours ... every Sunday.

Published Monday, September 21, 2009

My introduction to neurosis was actually in high school.

Well ... at least, that's when I was old enough to realize that my mom was "different". Before that I thought that everybody's mom didn't allow food to be cooked in the oven (ours was an appliance that was meticulously cleaned daily and was only for "show"). Come to think of it ... so was our living room. No one ever was allowed to sit in there.

Anyway ... my first real neurotic encounter happened at home ... after school. Mom burst into my room grasping her chest and moaning that she was having a heart attack.

I was dumbfounded.

"Please ... take me to the hospital ... now."

"Should I call an ambulance ...?"

"No. I really want you to take me."

I rushed her into the car and sped to Touro Hospital. It was all a blur. I remember pulling up to the Emergency Entrance. I opened the door and she refused to get out. I was confused.

"On second thought, " she said, " take me to Dr. Smith's office."

"Who is Dr. Smith?"

"He's across the street."

More confusion. I didn't want to argue with her at this point as she was having trouble catching her breath and I didn't want her to be upset.

I found Dr. Smith's office .... carried her inside and demanded to see the doctor. The receptionist looked at me ... smiled .... and then picked up her phone. "Gladys, Mrs. Momberg is here again."

"Again?" I asked.

"Oh yes ... she's actually been here twice today."


Just before I lost it, Dr. Smith arrived and told me to calm down. He explained that he was her regular doctor and would take good care of her ... after all ... she was the most interesting neurotic he had ever treated.

It was then that I looked at Dr. Smith's nameplate and realized that he was a psychiatrist. Mom was now standing ... dramatically telling everyone in the waiting room about her earlier "horrible experience" and how she almost died.

I almost killed her on the spot.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Oh ... Really?

I lost 20 pounds.

Although I don't recommend this diet to my friends (a week and a half in the hospital and numbness on the side of your face that destroys your appetitie) it works! Just look at me now ... and this is just the result of walking every day.

The calls keep coming in ... Men's Health wants me on their cover, some cologne named Obsession wants me to endorse their product and Jared from Subway calls me every ten minutes. Oh ... and there's a new movie with Brad Pitt and they want me to be a body double.

I have to go now ... I have a body waxing and tattoo appointment at noon.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Is My Table Ready?

Okay, I admit it ... I'm feelin' a little down.

This weekend is the All Children's Hospital Telethon, and I'm not there anymore ... gonna watch it on TV like everyone else. It's like watching my baby ... all grown up. I only gave birth ... by the way. There are MANY loving parents who have nurtured and grown the telethon over the years and I couldn't be prouder.

I have 25 years of great stories (many of them off camera).

What a great team: Steph "Do it all" Hall and Ann "Somebody wake Bob Hite up!" Miller were (and still are) the telethon queens. Doing everything from producing the show to raising the money. They gave me a table (It shrunk in size over the years) with my name taped to it. I was the boss ... so they made me feel like I was really doing something important ... smart women.

We had our telethon traditions.

Our first years were broadcast live from Busch Gardens. We'd set up on Saturday morning, unload the truck and head to Fuddruckers for lunch. We used to complain about indigestion all night ... but it never stopped us from going there. Ann always baked cookies ... chocolate chips ... and Bill Horton brought a mini refrigerator that we strategically placed under my table (my idea of course).

Most memorable were our special guests that would help "man" the phones throughout the weekend. There was Safety Pup. (One of those dogs on the left ... I can't remember what he looked like). I do remember he came to answer phones ... and he couldn't talk! That's right ... he sat on the phone banks with a phone to his fake ear and nodded alot.

We had a special band of scary clowns that we dubbed the carpet heads because their wigs were truly made out of pieces of carpet.

One of our donors was from a Kiwanis Club and the year he presented a check, it made our blooper reel for many years to come. In his interview, he told host Bill Ratliff that "He had a bone to LICK with him". Bill could hardly contain himself for the rest of the interview.

There was Little Tommy Duckworth. (Tommy was called Little Tommy for 25 years). He spent most of his childhood at the hospital with a series of medical issues and became the face of the telethon for years. He was a cute kid ... everyone wanted him to sit on their laps ... trouble was Tommy would also pee on their laps as well (cute yes ... but devious!!!!).

And tiny Katie who brought tears to everyone's eyes when she belted out melodies that would make every Americal Idol contestant jealous.

What memories ...

... hmmmm .... maybe I WILL sneak back down there this weekend after all. I wonder if my table is still there.

Ballad of the Big Prostate

Here’s a little country tune I wrote just yesterday to commemorate a dark day in my history. I don’t have a tune but realized you can use an...