Sunday, August 29, 2010

Do Over: Birth Story

On this anniversary of the tragedy of Katrina ... I thought I'd reprint one of my first blog entries about New Orleans:

published 8/10/09

I mentioned in my first post that I was born in New Orleans at the Hotel Dieu. Yes, it was a hospital ... at least that what I was told. It was a Catholic hospital and for a little Jewish baby it was a slight disadvantage.

Interesting fact one:

The doctor who delivered me was actually a famous jazz musician named Dr. Edmund Souchan.

Interesting fact two:

I was born on Mardi Gras Day ... March 1st.

Interesting fact three:

Dr. Souchan's daughter was Queen of Rex (the Krewe which parades on Mardi Gras day and to be chosen Queen is one of the highest honors in New Orleans) that morning.

Interesting fact four:

He missed the parade because I was being delivered.

Painful fact one (and this is why I was disadvantaged):

The nuns at the hospital (and the doctor) failed to "tag" me as a Jewish baby who would be circumsized on the seventh day. Who knows ... maybe Souchan was mad at me because he missed the parade.

Painful fact two:

They circumsized me right after birth.

VERY painful fact three:

My dad had me circumsized AGAIN on the seventh day. The Bris!

Okay, I know what you are thinking. How MUCH did they cut off the second time right? No one will tell me .... but I've used that for sympathy ever since.

All I ever got was laughs.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

August 29, 2005

New Orleans will forever exist as two cities: The one that existed before that date, and the one after.

Two books worth a read on the subject:

"A.D.: New Orleans After The Deluge"... One of the most unique - and compelling - books written in response to Katrina is Josh Neufeld's non-fiction graphic novel  - a New York Times bestseller - which is just out in paperback. Buy it .... you'll love it.

Zeitoun ... From Bookmarks MagazineToday, a personal story of a national tragedy. Five years ago, Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian-born New Orleans building contractor, stayed in the city while his wife and children left to Baton Rouge. He paddled the flooded streets in his canoe and helped rescue many of his stranded neighbors. Days later, armed police and National Guardsmen arrested him and accused him of being a terrorist. He was held for nearly a month, most of which he was not allowed to call his wife, Kathy.

By the way .... check out Octavia Books in New Orleans ... they're on FB and have great website:

One helluva local bookstore ... with New Orleans literature ... and much more.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In Memory of Dr. Pete E. Atric

I miss Dr. Pete.

Okay ... when I put on the "outfit" I look more like a homeless man/rodeo clown/Jerry Garcia clone. My wig never fit right and one side was always bigger than the other. The moustache got so gummed up with adhesive that my lips stuck together and the accent that I used to speak was a mixture of Yiddish and English and Puerto Rican at times. But ... still ... Dr. Pete E. Atric, the character I created at All Children's Hospital many moons ago, is still in my blood.

Originally, he was meant to introduce the music that Mike Sexton and I produced ( Dr. Pete was the face of the program (God help us!). He was the kindly old doctor that was part mad scientist and part family doctor ... introducing kids to the world of medicine and health care.

The cartoon version of  Dr. Pete is much cuter of course and doesn't scare the kids half as much as that Momberg guy. 

For many years, you would see Dr. Pete's face (the cute one) throughout the hospital, on the telethon and throughout the community. He became the unofficial mascot of All Children's.

One year ... the folks who produced The Children's Miracle Network Telethon offered to buy the rights to Dr. Pete and use him as the national telethon spokesperson. We, of course, politely declined ... telling them that he was a "local boy".

Well ... years later ... old Dr. Pete has been put out to pasture. It was bound to happen eventually. I am now at the University of South Florida embarking on new frontiers, there is a brand new $400 million hospital that has taken the place of the older one and cartoons no longer adorn the walls. My old friend Pete is still hanging in there in song and (hopefully) memories.

But stay tuned.

This year we might just dust off the old play and Dr. Pete may be back ... for a special guest appearance!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

This Little Piggie

I'll admit it.

I'm a sucker for games and electronics. I did the iphone ... the ipad ... Madden ... you name it. I've left a long trail of tooexpensivehotofftheshelf goodforamonthofenjoyment video games in my wake. The latest is an ipad/iphone app: ANGRY BIRDS.

My son ... that stinker ... got me hooked. He KNEW it would drive me crazy and have me staying up all night trying to fling birds across the screen hitting pigs and making screeching noises.

If you think this sounds stupid, immature and a worthless waste of time ... you're absolutely right. And you know what? I do to ... but it never stops me from getting hooked. This game is literally flinging birds in a slingshot across the screen, through wooden, glass and concrete structures at little pigs, big pigs and (I kid you not) pigs with helmets. The fewer birds you need to kill the piggies, the higher the score. There are ... what seems like ... endless levels of difficulty.

It doesn't matter that I don't get paid for winning, I don't get a prize for winning ... in fact I'll never even really win. I just fling these squaking birds everywhere.

My wife doesn't even flinch anymore when I pull out my latest toy. She knows I will be fixated on it for about a month and then end its life in my electronic elephant graveyard (My desk ... or in the case of BIRDS ... my ipad).

I've always been this way. I do it with scrabble, crossword puzzles, gambling ... everything competitive .. with the exception of music and writing (which I'll be manic about in spurts). Debbie is trying to make housekeeping, chores, picking up my clothes and personal hygiene competitive ... so that I could get manic about that.

Not gonna happen.

Women just don't get it ... they just don't appreciate the truly important stuff in life. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Your Eyes Are Getting Heavy ...

Had an interesting conversation with my daughter Nikki the other day.

Funny ... I still think of her as the little girl who dressed up as a doctor and now she's a real doctor in Savannah and is in her first year of residency.

Conversation went kinda like this:

Me ... "Hi honey, how are things."

Nik ..."Busy ... really busy. I'm so tired. Do you know that I worked 128 hours this week?"

Me ... "Wow. That's incredible."

Nik ..."Yeah ... and 97 hours before that ...."

Me ..."Honey, do you like the TV that we bought you?"

Nik ..."Yeah .. thanks. Man I am sooooo tired. Did I tell you I worked 128 hours?"

Me... "Yes you did. Have you talked to your brother and sister?"

Nik ..."Um ... yeah. You know 128 hours is just craaaazy... huh? Can you believe..."

Me ... "No I can't. Did I tell you that your family was eaten by cannibals?"

Nik ... "Really? Man I am just beat ... dog tired ... next week I have to work 124 hours and the week after that ..."

I was exhausted just talking to her.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Do Over: Kindergarten Is Not For Sissies

Sunday is the day for "Do Overs" because I'm too lazy to think of anything new ... and today I thought I'd reprint one that is as appropriate today as when I wrote it months ago.

first pulished 3/24/10

I've decided that teaching school is the best training in life for any management job in the world ... especially teaching elementary school.

The more undisciplined the kids are ... the better the training.

I think back on my teaching days often, now that I manage adult children. Last week, for example, I had to discipline one unruly "child", lectured another on appropriate behavior, reminded another how to play well with others ... and one was so bad that I was tempted to bring in her parents.

We never really grow up, do we? We act up ... we suck up ... we still throw up ...  but grow up? Naw. We'll never grow up ... you know ... Tinker Bell sure had LOTS of patience with Peter Pan.

What a day! I wanted to rush out to the bookstore to see if there were any copies of "All I really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten" ... the book by Robert Fulghum. It was brilliant ... and SO true.

Here are his guiding principles:

1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don't hit people.
4. Put things back where you found them.
5. Clean up your own mess.
6. Don't take things that aren't yours.
7. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
8. Wash your hands before you eat.
9. Flush.
10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
11. Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
12. Take a nap every afternoon.
13. When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
15. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

There's a New Sheriff in Town

Last night we went to Chilis and then to a movie with Josh and his girlfriend Theresa. We saw the new Will Ferrell movie, the Other Guys ... classic Ferrell ... funny as hell and totally disjointed.

At dinner, we reminisced (well ... I did. Josh just groaned).  I brought up a few more embarrassing times in his life (my job as his dad) to which Josh said, "Just don't put that in your stupid blog."

So ... here it is:

When Josh was about 12, he was thoroughly entrenched in club soccer.

On one particular afternoon, as I sat down in the bleachers during a game, Tom ... one of the other soccer dads ... pointed to Josh as he checked a player and said, "The sheriff's in town!"

I looked out at Josh and smiled.

"The sheriff, huh? That's an interesting name for him."

"That's what we all call him now," Tom said.


"Yeah .. you know ... after what he did yesterday."

"Oh". I pretended to know what he was talking about. I strained my brain trying to think about all that happened yesterday .... Hmmm ... He forgot his lunch, lost one of his shoes, killed another fish in his fish tank ... I gave up.

"Hey Tom ... What was it exactly that The ... Sheriff ... Did yesterday."

"He beat up that big fat kid at school that terrorizes all the 4th graders." Tom laughed. "You didn't know? He's a hero. That kid came through the locker room and pushed Bobby Swift to the ground. Then Josh just decked him."

"Josh? You're talking about Josh Momberg ... right?"

"Yeah ... Your boy ..." Mark chimed in from the seat below me. "The Sheriff."

I was stunned. I looked back out across the field at Josh ... Little skinny Josh ... Who looked like he was two feet tall from that distance. He decked the bully? My son Josh? As Josh passed the stands, a couple of parents yelled out to him "Way to go sheriff!"

The game ended  ...  and we headed home. Josh was pretty quiet in the car just staring out the window.

"So ... sheriff ... anything you want to tell me?"

"Why are you calling me sheriff?"

"I thought that was what everyone was calling you now."

"Yeah ... what's that about? I heard them in the stands."

"Apparently you cleaned up the town ... beat up the bully at school."

Josh was wide eyed. "Beat up the bully? Me?"

I frowned at him. "C'mon. I heard the story. The kid dropped Bobby and you decked him."

"Who told you that?"

"Does it matter?"

Josh shook his head. "Okay ... here's what happened. This kid Jake came up to Bobby and pushed him hard into the locker. Bobby has his arm in a sling, you know? And hit the door of the locker with his bad arm. I got mad and pushed Jake back. He tripped over the bench and sprawled out on the floor. Everybody started laughing."

" ... and then?"

"That was it. He ran off. I think some people think he fell because I hit him. That's why they are saying it."

Josh looked out the window. We were both quiet for a while. I thought about what brilliant words of advice I should give him about conflict resolution and all that PC stuff.

Aw heck, I just smiled and said ...

"Hey sheriff. No need to say anything else. I don't think anyone's gonna mess with Bobby again ... or you either for that matter."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Road Rage

Because I commute to work each day, an average of about 45 minutes to an hour each way, I have lots of time to think and observe. Road rage is also an easy skill to develop ... especially with the Interstate "parking lot" of stationary vehicles.

I've noticed there are certain drivers who have similar styles ...

One of my favorites is The Old Man Gipping the Steering Wheel. It's also one that might cause you to shudder ... especially if he was behind you. Sam had this same vacant look in his eyes when he drove ... even when he was 20.

The Young Rock Star is always a treat to see .... from a safe distance (preferably in another city). The stereo can usually be heard within 50 car lengths and there are usually 15 other teenage passengers in the car hanging out the windows.

The Distracted Driver always seems to be in the passing lane.  These are very talented individuals who can talk on the phone, eat a hamburger and apply makeup while driving a car. They can also manage to tune out the obscenities that other drivers scream at them while they bob and weave through traffic.

Big Fat Tough Truckers are ... okay ... not shown here.

The Sticker Lovers share their deepest thoughts and ideas on their car bumpers. Sometimes it's not enough to just put one idea in place ....

.... sometimes they put their whole family on the windshield.

Then there are those drivers that you just can't seem to put a finger on ....

Monday, August 2, 2010

School Plays

If you have kids ... you certainly remember school plays. Maybe you're still experiencing them or maybe that time has passed for you. In my case, the time has unfortunately passed. I have hours of videos that I still drag out from time to time and laugh all the nose pickers, seat adjusters and line forgetters performing on stage.

My daughters and my son all went to the same school and all performed in the same plays in every grade, so I got to know them VERY well by the time Josh, my third kid got there.

One play that I will never forget was the First Grade production where all the boys were Roman soldiers. The moms were instructed in costume design and told how to make the armor, swords and helmets.

Helmet design was fairly simple: take a gallon bleach jug, cut out an area for the face and shape it to the contour of the head ... then spray paint it silver ... when it's done it should look like something like this:

This was NOT how Josh looked ... and unfortunately I don't have a picture of him in his costume.

When Josh entered the auditorium, his head looked HUGE. It was the biggest head in the class. I couldn't understand how his head got that big overnight.

As he passed us, his mother whispered to me ... "Oh my God ... I just realized I used a quart jug instead of a gallon one!"

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...