Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Great Stress Reducer

Yesterday was BULLS BLAST.

Randy and Linda Simmons have done six of these annual fundraisers for USF Athletics and it truly is ... a BLAST (The shotgun type ... that is). My first one was three years ago and I was immediately hooked. When Randy handed me my a 12 gauge shotgun I told him that Jews don't hunt ... or shoot. I had no idea what to do with it. He was kind and patient with me, teaching me the ways of the shotgun and how to blow little orange disks to smithereens.

My teammate this year, Allen Crumbley, is no stranger to guns. He brought a few to the event (can't remember what kind they were but I think Allen called them Betsy,  Big Ben, Blaster and Scarethecrapouttaya). He also gave me a vest to wear over my Bulls Blast shirt.

"You gotta wear this Joel," he said."You can carry your shells in these pockets and I've even used the back pockets to put a few dead birds in." Hmmm ... guess Allen doesn't like when birds get in front of the targets.

It was a treat shooting with him. He played for Bear Bryant a few hundred years ago and looks like he can still do damage on the field. You know how confident he is when he calls PULL before he even puts his gun on his shoulder ***

*** translation for non shooters: PULL is the command you use to release the clay discs in the air. Most normal people are in their shooting stance when they say this. I get confused and usually shoot both barrels 5 minutes before I yell the signal.


Scoring is pretty simple X for a hit 0 for a miss.
Allen's score looked like this: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Mine looked similar: 000000000000000X000000000X0000000000XX0000

A few hits that I thought I made because it looked like I hit a piece of the target were scored as misses. Allen said, "Nope ... you just shot your load. It looked like you got a piece but you really didn't." ***

*** translation: Some of you might be thinking of other interpretations of the piece you got and the load you shot. I ... of course ... am simply talking about buckshot and clay pigeons. 


One of the great things about this event is that it really doesn't matter how good or bad you are ... everyone has fun and feels great at the end of the day. Unless you accidentally kill someone or you get injured.



Our only injury of the day was the Foundation CFO. He wasn't shot ... the kick action of the gun bruised his shoulder  ... and his ego (a little).






Friday, October 28, 2011

Cyber Memories

Recently ... the folks at Cyberknife (my old space age friends who zapped me back to health) published my story:


Thought I'd reprint the old blog that started it.
 
first published 6/1/10

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Smile!

Debbie got braces.

This might be old news for those of you that have seen her recently. Then again .... maybe you haven't noticed. She actually hides it well. When she talks, she keeps her upper lip lower down over her teeth and sounds kinda like the Godfather with a speech impediment.

Other than that ... she sounds perfect.

Debbie also carries a small portable toothbrush with her for dental emergencies ... like after a big dinner of ribs and barbeque beans.  It's a cute little white one.

And she keeps a bag of wax handy. You never know when repairs might be necessary ... at a moment's notice.

I love this new look. It's like going through adolescence all over again.  I never had braces ... so I am fascinated by the dynamics.





I'm actually considering them myself .. maybe for Halloween.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Conversations with Sammy

Sam called yesterday.

I missed the call but called him right back and left a message. It's fruitless to leave messages because he doesn't listen to them ... but I still leave them. He sits in the same place every day in front of his TV with the giant headphones on and only takes them off for the few precious seconds he uses his phone.

We finally connected.

"Sammy!" I said as he answered the phone.

There was silence.

"Sammy?"

"What did you say?"

"I said Sammy ... hello Sammy."

"Joel?"

"Yes."

"Did you call me Charlie?"

"No ... I said Sammy."

"Who's Charlie?"

"I said SAMMY?"

"Schloima?"

"NO ... SAMMY."

"Oh ... listen ... I wanted to tell you how sorry I was about the South Florida game (we lost yesterday to Cincinnati) and not be down about it."

"Thanks Dad ... it was a tough loss ..."

"How about LSU, huh? Are they great?"

"Yes they are ... I know you must be happy ..."

"Are you still at the USF game?"

"No it was over 2 hours ago ... "

"That's a shame ... LSU is great, huh? "

"Yes."

"Another thing ... can you take me to breakfast tomorrow?"

"Oh .... sorry Dad ... tomorrow morning we can't do breakfast ... but we'll come over in the afternoon."

"Okay ... bring me a chicken pot pie ..."

"Okay ... we look forward to seeing you."

"From  Boston Market ..."

"Okay ... good to talk to you."

"Kentucky Fried Chicken would be good."

"Okay ..."

"Don't be sad."

"I won't ..."

"GO TIGERS."

Friday, October 21, 2011

England Swings

Just getting over jet lag ... and it's been a week since we've been back. By the way .... here are some additional thoughts about our London trip.


The British Music Experience was a very cool place to visit. Located in a "big bubble" at the Greenwich UTube stop, this was not a typical museum.

The venue ... by the way ... was also a big concert arena (Katy Perry was appearing that night so there were hundreds of girls hanging around dressed like cotton candy and kewpie dolls).

Walking through the corridors was a real experience itself.

We passed open air booths that you could make your own music videos, dance videos and newscaster videos.

A group of the most unlikely looking Supreme wanna-bes were dancing to a karaoke version of "Stop In the Name of Love". A teenager was doing her best impression of Jane Pauley. And some guy with a lot of chains was just making faces at himself on the screen. (I take that back ... I think he was robbing an ATM machine).

Big displays of bubbles and floating stuff surrounded a bunch of random restaurants. What we discovered about London was that many restaurants looked appetizing and trendy and lulled you into ordering from interesting menus.

But the food pretty much sucked.

However ... The British Music Experience museum was a real treasure.

When you enter the domed entrance, you get a ticket that is really a data card that you can use to download everything you want to keep.

Each room is a decade of British Music. Early British Jazz and Blues, Rock and Roll, Punk, Rap ... even current stuff that I had no interest in ... but still looked at.

Each display had a narration about interesting facts ... like how many drummers the Beatles really had and who Pete Townsend stole his propeller guitar stroke from (Mike Sexton will know).

My favorite room was filled with plugged in guitars, keyboards and drum sets ready to play. You could put on your headsets, crank up the volume and no one else would even know you were playing ... until they noticed the blood on your collar.

The last night we were there ... we were treated to a special production of a play called "The Railway Children".

It was actually produced in the Waterloo Railway Station and used an actual steam engine train. It was also based on a classic children's book by the same name that apparently lots of British kids knew very well. Debbie and I were clueless.

It was well done ... except the actors kept speaking their lines in that foreign language that Americans have a hard time understanding ... English.

After the play, we got a special tour backstage and went through the train.

Turns out ... this was used at the turn of the century by a wealthy Brit who had a penchant for living the high life. You couldn't just ride this train and sit in his personal car ... you had to have a special invitation.

Obviously, if this guy was still alive ... we would have only seen this train from a great distance.

The trip back home was a typical Griswald/National LampoonVacation/Momberg event. We flew from Heathrow to New York on Sunday at noon, London time. It was a full flight (in airplane talk that meant that they were oversold by about 150 seats ).

We decided to try the new special fare that is offered by Delta ... "Economy Comfort". For an additional $80, you can have a seat in the first three rows of Coach which have been redesigned to be more comfortable, roomy and you get free liquor.

Sounds great right?

Well ... big surprise ... we sat down in our "comfort" seats and found that we had exactly 4 more inches of knee room and the seats were pretty much the same. Also ... on overseas flights ... wine and beer are already free.

Basically ... it pays to upgrade only if you are an alcoholic and drink more than 20 shots on the way home.

It only took us 21 hours (including a three hour delay at JFK while we wandered the many terminals under construction) before we finally got home.

It was a great trip ... and I can't wait to get back in the air (sometime this century).

Friday, October 14, 2011

Has Anyone Seen the Queen?

That's the question my middle daughter Alissa kept asking strangers on the street when we took her and her brother, Josh to England about 7 years ago. She had this horrible fake British accent ... and was also a little trashed after sipping on champagne New Year's Eve.

That's the last time Debbie and I were in London ... until yesterday.

We are here and having a ball ... no kids ... just us ... and most of the administrative team at USF. It's part work and part holiday.

Last night was mostly work (if you call it that) ... we had a special VIP reception at the British Foreign Office. Cool place ... That's where I took this shot of Cornwallis overlooking the huge lobby area.

We had dinner with one of our famous alums, David Mearns. David is the most prolific shipwreck explorer in the world. He had great stories of finding lost ships... more than 25 of them to date. The Australian government awarded him a special honor for uncovering a ship that was sunk more than 50 years ago in a vicious battle in which hundreds lost their lives.

The families of the victims were thrilled to finally have closure.

We asked him what he was working on now. "Two projects that are top secret," he said. "I could tell you ... but I would have to kill you."

Okay ... so HOW much gold IS there?

************************************************

This morning, we had our very own special tour of the Olympic Village (opening in 9 months). Thanks to our great friends at Nielsen Research, who are Olympic sponsors, we were treated a great behind-the-scenes look.

Heavy security at the sight ... so much so that we all had background checks done weeks earlier, had check points along the way and were questioned as we got onto the bus.

At first, Debbie was not allowed in because of her criminal record (she accidentally poked a lady in the eye when she was an usher at Bayfront Center 30 years ago). They allowed her in when I told them that we would watch her closely.

This place is awesome.

The first thing you see is the brand new 80,000 seat stadium that will be be used for events and ceremonies. The tour guide said that when the games are done ... it will become a summer house for Elton John or something.

There's a great sculpture that looks like an abstract version of  the last scene of the Planet of the Apes when the Statue of Liberty's hand emerged from the sand. It's at the corner of Hackney Wick and View Tube ... you know ... I really don't remember what the heck that thing was used for.

There's also a fantastic Aquatics Stadium. The roof looks like a big Dorito. I think that might be why they are the swimming sponsors. It seats 17,500 and houses two 50m pools and a diving pool.

I did hear that the construction workers (all 20,000 of them) use it now for some pretty wild pool parties.

Basketball has it's own stadium and it's wrapped in a special canvas created by Dow Chemicals. I think it allows the players to stay inbounds alot and when the ball does bounce out ... it comes right back. They built the stadium too close to the Athlete's Village, we were told ( I kid you not!)... so they had to use special soundproofing on the apartment walls. Apparently, the basketball games create lots of noise and the night time celebrations get pretty rowdy.

By the way, I heard the sponsor for Basketball is Lou's Tattoo Parlor.
  
So many cool venues for the Olympics: The Velodrome ... Cycling track ... is awesome. The IBC/MPC Broadcast Center is massive ... 20,000 of the world's media.

Truly impressive.

After our tour ... we visited another of the World's Wonders ... Harrod's.

If you've never been ... you have to go to this "department store on steroids". We could have spent a week just touring this unbelievable place.  

Clothing, jewelry, everything imaginable for men, for women ... and lots of Kidstuff.

There were designer tennies, designer mini purses, designer baby bottles ... designer jewelry for toddlers. Seriously, there was everything you could possibly think of.

Debbie met one of the staff members off the elevator (the Egyptian Elevator, by the way, built of gold). He tried to hit on her but Debbie told hem that she was married and to leave her alone. He hooked up with a stuffed squirrel on the 5th Floor.

Food was everywhere.

There were Wine Bars, Tea Rooms, Sushi Floors ... Fine dining.

We went all out and ate at the Gelato Bar. We split a special treat that I had to take a picture. Not only was it delicious ... it was the cheapest thing on the menu. I think it cost about $52. (I might have slightly exaggerated that).

Debbie shopped for hand bags.

You might remember a prior blog entry that I wrote about the SIZE of her hand bags. She decided she needed a BIGGER one.

I was a good sport and walked through (I am not kidding) 4 different floors of purses. I have never seen so many ... furry ones, leopard ones, little shiny ones with jewels ... It was a good two hours of purse shopping and we came out ... EMPTY.

"Why?" I asked.

"Oh ... I need time to really look."

"Oh ... So ... what were WE doing?"

"Just browsing. I need time to have a ... RELATIONSHIP with a purse."

Hmmmmm ....

Well, just as we were about done "browsing" we came across something I have never seen in a department store: A pet shop.

There were puppies and hamsters and gerbils and fish ... very cute.  

Deb's favorite were the miniature wiener dogs. Gotta admit they were my favorites too.

They had their designer section as well. Clothing, jewelry, treats (with their own butcher shop).


And if that wasn't over the top enough ... we stumbled upon the most decadent of all:


Their very own PET SPA! 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

If I Only Knew Then What I "Think" I Know Now

Here's a fun exercise.

Think back through the decades about some of the bonehead mistakes you've made. If you knew where you'd wind up ... would you have changed your mind? One of the problems with this exercise (if you're old like me) is you start forgetting the good, the bad and the ugly. Of course, depending how bad and ugly ... it could be a good thing.



Bonehead mistake #1: In college ... I dropped out of Architecture and changed my major to Art. Why? Because I was lazy and didn't want to do what it took to get that degree. Plus ... I had more important things to do like drink and play. I wound up graduating a year late with a degree in graphic design from UGA. For those of you who grew up in the computer age ... this wasn't. T- squares, rapidiograph pens, balsa wood and drawing boards were used to actually create stuff. What did I do with that degree? After a few years in advertising ... I tucked it away with my other college memorabilia.




Bonehead mistake #2: I was recruited and wound up on a short list for the job of Executive Director of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I turned it down ... didn't want to move to Cleveland. For the record, I would have tripled my salary and worked with all my heroes.






Bonehead mistake #3: After writing "What's So Good About Feeling Bad?" there was a story that was done on CNN about me. A Hollywood producer wrote to me and wanted me to fly out to talk. There was a writer's strike and he was interested in the concept. I was ... too busy.















Bonehead mistake #4: Writing this entry in my blog.

I AM SO DEPRESSED.  

Friday, October 7, 2011

Our First Apartment

We got an apartment!

Okay ... sure we've got a beautiful house which we've worked on for 13 years in St. Pete ... AND it's about 4 times bigger than the apartment ... AND we'll probably use the apartment only a few times a month ... but ... it's now OURS. (well ... at least for the term of the rental agreement)

That's the beauty ... We can give it back.

You see ... we wanted a place halfway between USF and St. Pete. It takes me about 45 minutes to drive to work (and that's without rush hour traffic). The drive home is worse ... plus ... there are those evening events ... So that's why we are excited.

Let me back up a few days. WE WERE EXCITED until we stayed there this week.

We went to a concert at the SP Times Arena  ... The Steve Miller Band (which was great by the way ... even though Steve is 172 years old.) So we thought it would be cool to stay at the apartment, walk to the concert .. which is right across the water from the Arena ... and I could easily make an 8AM meeting the next morning at the university.

There was one problem ...Debbie underestimated what we needed.

There was a bed and a lamp in the apartment. Okay ... I may have exaggerated a little ... there were two lamps. On the bed were two pillow (about the size of my fist) and a shawl that doubled as our blanket.

I asked ... "Say, dear, why are the pillows so small and why is there a shawl on the bed."

"Well ... I didn't want to take anything we might use at home."

"How about the kids rooms? They aren't home alot (never) and I don't think they would miss their blanket and pillows."

"You don't need a big pillow ... just stuff some towels in a pillowcase."
I didn't sleep too well that night.

The next morning, when I headed to the shower, I noticed that the little apparatus that you pull up to make the water come through the shower head was stuck. Actually, it was more like frozen.

So I squeezed into the bathtub and splashed water on my face and body for a quick shower bath.

My back should heal in about a week or so ... about the time I can tie my shoes.

Ahhh, yes ... did I say we love the apartment .

One day soon we will have a real bathtub, real pillows, real blankets ... real furniture.


Hey ... I almost forgot ... we got a notice this morning that a band of  wild cats were roaming the neighborhood.

They sent out a message saying ..." DO NOT FEED ANY CATS OR STRAY ANIMALS. WE HAVE NOTIFIED THE APPROPRIATE AUTHORITIES TO ROUND UP THESE CATS AND REMOVE THEM ."

I wonder if they need any pillows.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pop Night Funnies

Last night was the return of ... Pop Night.

Never heard of it? Well ... you probably haven't been to one of DJ (Doctor) Steve-o's infamous dinner parties.

Here's the set-up: He and wife Colleen host and  invite four other couples to secretly share something no one knows about you while the rest of the dinner party tries to guess. Music fills the condo, great wine is poured and all are treated to a fantastic dinner. Music choices are picked by the guests and prerecorded on Stevie's sound system.

Last night, guests included a bank president, a former major league baseball player and a medical equipment manufacturer. A bowl filled with folded papers that held our big secrets was passed around.

The first was picked and read aloud: "This guest swiped a pair of shades from his brother and sold them for $60."

The first couple questioned some guests and finally came to a conclusion ... "Joel ... I think it's you."
"Nope ..." I said The real sunglass thief told a funny story about how this happened when he was 10 years old and he eventually split it with his brother.

The second fact was read: "This guest was an original member of Pee Wee's Playhouse."

More questions for all the guests and finally someone turned to me ... "I got it ... Joel ... THIS belongs to you." I replied again NO ... but it did belong to Debbie who went to middle school with Pee Wee Herman in Sarasota.

The third paper was read: "This guest almost wore the crown as Miss Illinois."

Someone looked my way and I screamed ... "NO DON'T EVEN GO THERE ... I'm NOT ... from ILLINOIS." Turned out it was hostess Colleen who was runner up or runner up to the runner up or something pretty cool.

Mine was finally called out next to last (after I was given credit for playing in a high school band, singing with the Temptations and having an aversion to shopping). No one guessed me on the real secret and there were only two of us left.

My answer: "My parents forgot to get me when I was a baby and the house was on fire."

Those who have followed my stories about Sam and Esther are not surprised.

Actually ... The real surprise was that Sam actually remembered and eventually came after me. By the way (TRUE STORY) it happened again when our house was being robbed.

I grew up in a shotgun style house in New Orleans. It got it's name from the long narrow architecture that would allow "a shotgun blast hitting every room from the front door".

My room was in the back.


After the party ... Debbie and I went to a Karaoke Bar with Steve and Colleen where Steve (feeling NO pain) did a totally unrecognizable version of James Brown's ... "I Feel Good."

I only hope he's not delivering babies this morning.