Saturday, December 31, 2016

Sunshine Boys ... Sammy Is Smiling Up There

Watched the Sunshine Boys last night.

Oddly enough I think it was the news about Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher that had me missing my Dad who passed away last year. Walter Matthau is about as close to being with Sammy as you can get. Sammy IS Willie Clark ... half of the vaudeville pair of Lewis and Clark, with George Burns as his partner.

If you've never seen it ... put it on your to do list for 2017. Even though the movie was produced over 40 years ago, the writing and the delivery is as fresh and funny as it was back then. 

Clark's nephew Ben is also his manager. In one scene, he visits his uncle with an offer to appear with Lewis in an ABC special but Clark refuses to ever speak to him again.

Ben grabs his chest and says, "I get chest pains every Wednesday when I come to visit."

Willie says, "So visit me on Tuesday."   

In another scene, Willie (who has a constant battle with his nurse) asks her, "How old is a woman like you?"

"I'm 54," she says.

"You married?"

"My husband passed a few years ago."

Willie pauses. "So ... You were his nurse?"

Everything about this movie reminds me of Sammy. The only difference is that Sammy was real (so were MY chest pains on Wednesdays).

####################

I'll get serious here for a minute.

This is a message to all of the children who still have their parents. Sure they can be a pain in the ass, yes they are embarrassing in public and I'm sure they often say things that hurt your feelings.

Forgive them.

They forgave you just about every day when you were growing up. If you were lucky they were always there when you flushed your mom's ring down the toilet, when you threw up all over them after you had your first beer, or when you called them horrible names when they put you on restriction.

I read where Carrie Fisher was so angry with Debbie Reynolds that she didn't see her for ten years. Must have broken her heart.

Call your parents and visit them from time to time. Nothing is forever.


My Little Baby Is Having a Little Baby!!


How can it be?

Alissa was just a baby a few years ago and now she is expecting a baby of her own. Can't believe that the little girl who ran around the house in a genie outfit with little plastic slippers is now 33 years old and is four moths pregnant. Crazy.

And on Christmas day we all experienced the latest pregnancy fad: A Gender Reveal Party. For those of you who are like me (unaware of the latest fads) Gender Reveal is where the family and friends gather together to find out what sex the baby is ... as well as mom and dad.

In our case, we gathered at Alissa and Nate's while her friends dressed their little dog, Riley in the appropriate color and tied balloons around his waist as we waited outside for the big show.

Note: A few months ago, Riley had his own "reveal" when Nate sent his DNA out to be analyzed. It came back positive that he was ... a dog.

When we were all set, Riley ran out of the door adorned in baby blue.

It's a boy!

Congrats to my beautiful little girl and her great husband! They will be spectacular parents. I have no doubt!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Checking It Twice!

I really hate shopping.

Surely, many of you feel the same, especially this time of year. I really shouldn't complain. Debbie does the mega shopping for the family. I can't say she enjoys it but she's really good at it ... she's focused, organized and she approaches it like a military operation. She does it old school with written lists, multiple stores, wrapping everything herself. There are no Amazon drones flying over our house.

Today, I finished up "my list".

Yes ... I have a list too. Don't be too impressed. I didn't create it. Debbie gives me the list. It's all the things that she wants. Kinda like telling Santa ... on steroids. The list has gift size, color, where to get it, even what floor its on and a hand drawn map of the inside of the store (kidding, if its available I use the actual printed floor plans). Oh and she usually includes the factory number too.

Our very first conversation about this years ago went something like this:

Me "Honey, I can buy these things any time of the year if you already know they are coming."

Deb "I want them under the tree on Christmas."

Me "But you already know what they are."

Deb "So?"

Me "So tell me why I'm wrapping them and surprising you with them on Christmas."

Deb "I like to unwrap them."

Me "And you imagine that you don't know what they are?"

Deb "No silly! I know what they are. Just do it. Here's my list ... Now give me your list."

Me "I don't have one."

Deb "Why not??"

Me "Because I just buy what I want ... usually."

Deb "HOW COULD YOU? CHRISTMAS SPOILER."

I learned my lesson.

Today ... as I dodged shoppers and baby strollers (which I have decided are used by moms as assault weapons) and loaded up my car with goodies, I thought about Christmas morning. The kids and the babies opening their gifts and Debbie right next to them opening her gifts looking every bit as surprised.

Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

When the Jews Come Out For Christmas

Love this time of year.

Last week we had our annual holiday staff party at World of Beer. The theme was holiday hat decoration. Christine in our office actually did all the artistic work for our hats. Mine was a crowd favorite ... Star of David with silver trimmings. Many people thought I was a Dallas Cowboy fan.

Growing up in New Orleans to Jewish parents (well a Jew and a half) ... Christmas did not visit our house. Hanukkah was the holiday of choice. Eight crazy days of presents.

Not sure presents would be accurate. Gifts? tchatchkis? um ... cheap stuff? One year I got a dreidel (a top with Hebrew letters on it.)

Dreidels are the first step to a lifetime commitment of gambling. Spin the top for cash ... well, loose change. Children take turns and follow the direction that the letter gives you.

Each letter tells you what to do. Take half the pot, take all the pot, match the pot, share the pot, etc.

Sometimes you use gelt.

That's Hanukkah chocolate money. We used to get gelt as a gift for one of the eight crazy nights.

The other nights I remember getting stuff like model airplane kits and Lincoln logs.

One year I remember well. It was the last night of Hanukkah and my dad must have forgotten a gift for my brother and me. We lit the candles and Sammy disappeared into the basement.

He came back beaming with our gift. It was a rope. Not a jump rope ... nope ...

Just a rope.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

All That Glitters ...

Don't get me wrong ... I love getting presents as much as the next guy.

But whoever invented the stuff called "glitter" is a sadist. There is nothing about glitter that could be considered attractive. I'd put it in the category of tacky, annoying, childish and dangerous.

Glitter sticks on everything except what you originally put it on. I had a gift on my car seat that I had picked up from my office.  Close by was a folder that contained a donor agreement that I was presenting that afternoon. I was unaware that the wrapping paper and bow were covered with glitter. Even though the folder was a foot from the gift, it was covered with glitter when I arrived at my appointment.

I tried to wipe it off (stupid amateur  mistake). Yes it was now on my hands, my suit and in my eyes. Ever get that stuff in your eyes? Man!

I walked in to the appointment looking like I spent the afternoon with a team of pole dancers.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe you ... my readers ... love glitter. Personally I believe in the phrase "All that glitters is not gold " although I'd probably replace  "is not gold" with "is useless".

It's been a week and I STILL have glitter on my hand.

Excuse me I have to go take another shower. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

(Old) Boys' Night Out

Thursday night was "Boys Night Out".

Nine of us met at BJs restaurant for drinks, a meal and then ... a movie: "Bad Santa 2". None of our wives were interested in the movie. In fact, I think they were relieved that we all wanted to go see it together.

Started out with a lot of loud jokes, insults and bad behavior. We have all known each other long enough to pick on sensitive areas. Ray's cheap, Doug's voice is loud, Mark's bald, Tom has a nasty gas problem ... you get the picture. 

Sex and defecation are universal targets.

About 15 minutes after we sat down, the conversation changed to what all old guys talk about. Nope ... not good looking women or athletic prowess ... we all talk about each other's medical issues,

Back problems, blood thinners, urinary issues and colonoscopies were popular themes. A few of us are frequent fliers so we could really embellish tales about stuff like what happens when you get a catheter inserted before and pulled out after surgery.

There were a couple of younger guys that had no clue about the stuff we were talking about but I noticed they hardly touched their food.

Mark picked up the tab for the meal. It was very generous and we all thanked him (although no one offered to chip in. We aren't stupid).

Turns out that Ray bought all the tickets to the movie in advance. We were all shocked. Most of us said "Really? Ray did that? Oh ... he bought all of them at senior prices."  (Steve bought his early because I guess he thought that there would be a big crowd).

Once we got to the theater we realized that other than our one row, there were only 5 other people in the whole place.

We settled in, watched Billy Bob, the elf and his momma do unspeakable acts, use the most disgusting language, beat the hell out of each other and tell the most vicious jokes about women, little people and children that you could imagine.

All in all ... we had a great time!  

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Feeling Blessed

Sitting here watching Macy's Day Parade ... (Are they still in business? Thought they were closing stores. No matter ... they put on a kickass parade.)

Thinking about when we visited New York for this. Once with the kids when they were little ... What a great time! And once with Deb when it was so cold we watched it through the window and on TV.

Feeling so blessed! Happy Thanksgiving to friends and family!!!




Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Burg Revisited

What a day!

Spent the morning walking on Central Avenue in downtown St. Pete. It has changed so much over the years. When I first moved here I remember coming downtown. There were maybe a dozen Beach Drive merchants, a couple of old hotels, a few diners, The Vinoy was in total disrepair with broken windows, Webb City and the neighborhood were blighted. The Pier was the coolest thing in town and it was old in the 70s.

Today i walked past the new shops and an arts and crafts show going on. Just wanted to post some pictures so you could appreciate the new coolness of our city:

Apparently Plymouth Rockshow, Helmet and Mook Boy draw big crowds at the State Theater these days,.

I am sooo old.


Wait is that where you buy an enchanted notion or just visit with Chrissy and she shares hers?

Love the name of this shop ... The Trunk.

Works on your curiosity right? Don't you just want to go in and rummage through luggage?
St Pete Shirt Company ...  pretty straight forward.

Another day in paradise ... love the Burg!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Keep an Eye Out For Me

I was supposed to be in Memphis today ... listening to blues, chewing on a rib or two and watching the USF Bulls play football at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

But as (my) luck would have it, I had to undergo an emergency procedure on my left eye .. a retinal tear. It's an injury you hear about with athletes when a baseball hits them in the eye or a concussion related football injury. Mine was probably from sneezing.

For those of you keeping score, this was my 357th procedure in five years. Okay, I know I tend to exaggerate ... really more like 356th.  But at least I didn't have to go to TGH this time. I went to the Eye Institute on USF campus and saw three different ophthalmologists who all agreed that I would have to have the procedure done that day.

I was a little nervous. I am not a fan of anything touching my eye ... even tried contacts one time and was so bad at it that the optometrist fired me from her store. But the ophthalmologist (who was all of four feet tall) told me that it was relatively painless and would be pretty quick. Hmmm ... heard that one before.

So ... step one was to mark the left eye (well the forehead over the eye). This was to make sure that the correct eye was being done and to make me comfortable knowing that the eye that was really damaged would be fixed and not the good eye (I guess).

Deb drove over from St. Pete to take me home when I was done and patiently waited with me until I was called in.

This procedure, I was told, would be done with a laser which doesn't touch the eye surface and would seal the tear to allow the retina to heal.

Sometimes it doesn't work. Hmmmm ... heard that one before too.

I was ushered into a kinda storage room/procedure room in the back of the clinic. Yes, this kinda freaked me out but since no anesthesia was going to be used and I guess it didn't have to be too sterile I waited for the doctor to come get me.

She was finishing up with her last patient and came in about a half hour later. She laid me back in the chair and told me that she would be right back with the laser. Behind me I heard the sounds of equipment being moved around and instruments clinking.  

Finally ... there she was with a mask, a headset with that dorky light that ophthalmologists wear and what I guessed was the laser machine.

There were no nurses or assistants which I thought was strange but she seemed to be just fine. Later I found out that we were the only ones left in the whole building.

She numbed my eyeball with some drops and then told me that there would be a bright light from the laser but to hold very still.

If we were doing "politifacts" I would give her a "mostly true". The light was extremely bright and flashed into my eye not once but probably 100 times. My eye got drier so she gave me more drops. After she could see that I was just about ready to lurch off the chair she said "Just a few more .."

Then she stopped.

"Wow ... that was different. Thank heavens that is over ..."

"Well ... not exactly. There was so much blood in the eye that part of the laser treatment didn't seal it. We are going to try one more thing./"

I KNEW IT. OF COURSE ... I'M THE 5% GUY.

She started to move more equipment around and disappeared for a while. She finally came back with a bigger piece of equipment.

"Okay ... what we have to do is actually freeze the eye using cryopexy to form the seal tighter. I'll numb your eye and then put a probe in to do the actual ..."

"Wait. Wait. You are going to put a probe into my eye?"

"Just under the lid not into the eye."

"Um ... okay ..."

"Don't worry. First I will numb the eye."

Silly me. I thought there would be more drops. No way ... before I knew it she was holding open my lids and putting a needle into my eye. "Hold still now." HOLD STILL????

Okay ... got through that ... now the freezing thing. The probe was very uncomfortable and the sounds from the machine were more like a Snow Cone maker. I thought I would never make it through the last part. The probe had to be moved around the corner of the eye and was making me crazy ... and what seemed like only 12 hours later ... we were done.

I have to say that I was so impressed by the fact that my doctor worked so late and did it all by herself that I felt a little silly complaining about what I went through ...

BUT NOT THAT SILLY.

Home, healing ... hopefully my floater, flashers, and all the other stuff that swims by my eye will subside in the next few days.

Until my next medical miracle!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Brilliance!

Just read an interesting article on The Four Traits of Highly Intellectual People. Actually it was kind of a YouTube slide show on Facebook ... so naturally you can be assured that it's well researched and the ultimate academic bible on what sets us intellectuals apart from regular people. (Notice I included myself in the intellectual category.)

Check out how many of these apply to you:

1. They are messy.

Messy desks promote creative thinking and stimulate new ideas. Not sure how or why but I bought it. My desk, closet and car were last straightened up in 1976. This trait probably puts me in the genius category.

2. They talk to themselves.

Talking to yourself helps you more clearly define your problem more clearly and come up with a better solution more quickly. Actually I've had long conversations with myself. My other self is not nearly as interesting.

3. They swear more.

Apparently a large vocabulary of swear words is a sign of rhetorical strength. I must have a pretty fair amount of rhetorical strength ... whatever the f*** that means.

4. They stay awake longer.

Staying awake longer than others has been proven to increase IQ. Between peeing every hour and checking my emails all night my brain must be on overdrive. That'll show Debbie! She is always telling me to put my phone down.

Ha!




Saturday, October 15, 2016

70 Year Old Virgin??

Interesting times we live in.

The Trump bus tape is the latest of those precious moments in the presidential campaign that SNL prays for. No one would believe it. No matter which candidate you love, hate or don't care about as long as the opponent doesn't win ... you gotta admit this was an extra painful moment for the Donald.

Okay ,,, we've all heard the rhetoric: "locker room talk", "insulting to women", "all men do it", "a plot by the liberal media" or "Donald just doesn't really mean what he says". Well here's another take on it. I have to admit, it wasn't my original idea. I credit one of the guys I work with (who will remain nameless because I didn't ask him if I could use his name and he might be a little less careless politically than I am).

The Donald is Steve Carrell.

Whether he is in the Office or 40 year old Virgin or Anchorman ... he's always the inappropriate dorky guy who makes you want to cover your eyes in embarrassment when he says things like:

"Is it true if you don't USE it you LOSE it?" (Virgin)

"Yes it's true that I, Michael Scott, am signing up with an online dating service ... I need a username and I've got a great one. "Little Kid Lover". That way people will know where my priorities are." (Office)

"People seem to like me ... I like ice cream and really enjoy a nice pair pf slacks. Years later a doctor will tell me that I have an IQ of 48 and am what some people might call mentally retarded."(Anchorman)
  
"Holding her breast was like holding a bag of sand."(Virgin)

"Wikipedia is the best thing ever. People can write anything they want to about any subject. So you know you are getting the best possible information." (Office)

"That's what SHE said." (Office)

Carrell would have definitely said "I moved on her heavily. In fact I took her furniture shopping. I said, I'll show you where they have some nice furniture." ... or ... "I've got to use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her." ... or ... "When you're a star they let you grab them by the ..."

Oh ... just my opinion ... but I never heard anyone say this stuff in a locker room. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Commit ... You'll be happy you did!

There are commitments ... and then there are THE COMMITMENTS!!! (The type of commitments that you love).

Back in the early 90s, there was a film about a group of young Irish musicians who put together a band that I never get tired of. Yesterday I noticed that Netflix addded it to their selection.

If you haven't seen it ... here's the basic plot: In the Northside of Dublin, Ireland, Jimmy Rabbitte is a young music fanatic who aspires to manage an Irish soul band in the tradition of 1960s American recording artists. He places an ad in the local newspaper and holds auditions in his parents' home. After being deluged by scores of disastrous performers, Jimmy decides to put together a band consisting of friends and people he encounters—lead singer Deco Cuffe, guitarist Outspan Foster, pianist Steven Clifford, saxophonist Dean Fay, bassist Derek Scully, drummer Billy Mooney, and female backup singers Bernie McGloughlin, Natalie Murphy and Imelda Quirke. Jimmy then meets Joey "The Lips" Fagan, a veteran musician who offers his services, and has unlikely stories about meeting and working with famous musicians. Joey names the band "The Commitments".

What follows is a great story and even better music.

Check it out. I'm just sayin .... you'll be happy you did.

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Bug Man???

My sweet little Alissa came over to the house the other day to check on me.

"I'm doing fine, honey ... Thanks for bringing me bagels." 

"I would have come over earlier if I knew you had surgery."

"I didn't tell you?"

'No! I had to hear it from the bug man! He sprayed my house and asked me how you were doing after your surgery."

"He did?"

"Yes. You tell our bug man before your own daughter!"

Turned out Deb had cancelled with Steve (the bug man) and told him I'd be home that day from surgery. Alissa and Nate use him too. 

This is a public apology to my daughter for telling the bug man first. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Igor, Is That a Lipoma on Your Shoulder Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

A few days ago I went to TGH for surgery AGAIN.

Big surprise huh? This time it was for the removal of a lipoma from my shoulder. I started to feel like Igor from Young Frankenstein ... remember him? He had that hump that moved around a lot during the movie.

Actually, a lipoma is a soft tissue mass that moves too (not quite that much) but in my mind it had become just as noticeable.

Plastic surgeon removed it and originally said it was a simple procedure that should take just 20 minutes.

He obviously didn't know me well. I'm the 5% guy who always has other issues even with simple surgery. This time it was attached to the muscle so it took longer and required a little deeper "dig" (like really close to China).

There's a movie out now called Hologram for a King with Tom Hanks. He has a lipoma on his back throughout the whole movie that bothers him so much that he tries to cut it out with a steak knife.

I thought that was a crazy premise until I had surgery and I looked at my back and shoulder.

Oh well, pain killers, a new attractive accessory called a drain that is pinned to my shirt for a week and a great excuse for a pity party over the weekend will be my life for the next few days. Then back to a normal life for me.

Normal? Is that when the ICU nurse wakes me up from anesthesia and says, "Hi Joel ... are you back again? Hey I read your blog ..."

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Bye Bye Bahston

Deb is reading me the news again as we wait to board the plane. It's the newspaper from last week in St. Pete. 

By the way ... Forgot to mention the great restaurant on the North End we went to the other night: Limoncellos. What a great meal we had. Rosette Al Montasio Ed Olio Di Tartufo to be exact. To die for! 

Mark and Keli ordered us a very special wine to start. Nice touch!!!

Oh good they just called us to board. Debbie just got to the section on local elections too! Oh well. 

Going home. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Chesney Does Bahston

We went to the Kenny Chesney concert tonight. 

Actually, Kenny Chesney is why we are here. Debbie raised her hand at sister Keli's fundraiser a few months ago and ... magically ... we were the owners of two concert tickets, a limo ride and a stay at the Parker House Omni.  

The limo picked us up early to get us to Gillette Stadium with the other 70,000 concert goers.
Most of them were in the parking lot feeling no pain when we got there.  Average age was probably 18 (well maybe there were some who actually were legal). 

Inside, the stadium started to fill slowly. The age of the crowd started to look more diverse as people took their seats. On stage was Sam Hunt, former football player and country songwriter/ musician. He did a long set. Very good. 

Then the crowd swelled and Miranda Lambert took the stage. She killed it. Deb told me the history of her marriage and breakup with Blake Shelton (I'm probably the only person in America who didn't know all the stuff about Gwen Stefani from the Voice which I never watched). 

It was close to midnight when Chesney finally played. Okay I exaggerated, It was only 11:30. 

The stadium was rocking. We looked around and everyone knew all the words of every song (except for us). Deb also filled me in on the Renee Zellweger one month marriage, which I DID know but Deb still enjoys telling. 

Beautiful night and a great way to end our trip. We fly out tomorrow. 

See ya Bahston. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Today we started out bright and early looking for another meal. No ... The beer comes later.  

Actually we wound up an Panera. I know ... We come all the way to Boston for a bagel at Panera. But hey ... it was a quick stop ... and plus I had to find a bathroom. 

Ready for a little TMI? Our toilet in the room is about the size of teacup. A full size man (like yours truly) can't even  ... Well let's just say that I'm not sure how a person who is 4'10" fits on it.  

So I was happy to see the Men's Room sign at Panera. I hurriedly grabbed the handle and noticed the sign "Enter the four digit code from your receipt". Darn, I threw away my receipt. How was I to know that this clever foil to keep away street people from relieving themselves would now inhibit my ...

"Ain't got your code?" One of the Panera housekeepers asked. 

"I'm ... I must have thrown it ..."

"0641"

"Thank you so much. I really ..." He was gone. 

Deb and I hit the trail looking for our next adventure. So much stuff to see in 90 degree heat with a 60% chance of rain. 

"Hey! How about a bus tour?" I said to Debbie. She stopped dead in her tracks. It took her a minute or so to regain consciousness. 

"Wait. Are you My husband? Are you asking to take a tour? You hate tours!"

"I know. But it's hot as hell and the sky is turning black."

Trolley tour it was ... Not quite Gilligan's three hour tour. More like an hour and a half. Met a nice couple from Cincinnati (the guy became my best friend because he was three years younger than me and thought I was three years younger than him). 

We saw lots of graveyards. Not sure how many we saw but there are hundreds of them in this city. 

I noticed that Paul Revere, Ben Franklin, and most of the presidents were buried in each one. Ben Franklin slept around a lot so possibly his body parts were scattered. 

Saw the Meeting Hall where the Declaration of Independence was announced to the crowd from the balcony. 

The driver said they just repolished and replated the gold and silver ornaments of the building and placed a round brick paver below the balcony to mark where the Boston Massacre happened. (During the reading of the Declaration? I got confused on this point). 

Lots of churches here. Catholic, Protestant, Episcipal ... You name it and there's a church for it. 

The driver said every time one was built, people left and moved on. Not sure why but perhaps they kept moving so they didn't get too chummy with the neighbors. The other thing that seemed commonplace was hangings for important stuff like gossiping or taking a sheep to the school dance.


Fenway Park was on the tour. It is the oldest baseball stadium in the US and has quite a history. Been around for over 100 years. 

We saw a couple of college kids trying to get a mattress up some stairs. 

Finally came back to Quincy Market and had a drink at Cheers. See ... Came back around. Norm knew my name. And all was right in the world. 

Tonight we head to the North End and a cool Italian restaurant named Limoncello. 

More tomorrow!