Sunday, October 31, 2021

Sometimes it ain’t so cool to be “hip”

A show of hands. How many of you feel like you’re pretty Hip? Okay. Now how many of you feel like you were hip when you were younger? And now for those over 50 … how many of you wish you didn’t FEEL your own hips when you walk, run, lie down in bed or sneeze??

You probably figured out which group I belong to.

Years ago, I always thought I was hip until I had kids who reminded me often that I was not hip, not funny, not cool and embarrassing. I smile often today when I look at them raising their own kids knowing that paybacks are hell.  

Oh course hipness is relative, depending on your stage in life. I mean … I was a musician, an artist, a writer, a teacher … how hip was that? Who cared whether I didn’t sell a lot of books or make it as a painter or that I was reassured by only folks who worked for me later in life that … I WAS HIP. 

So … fast forward to today. Older, not much wiser, my last unhealthy hip replaced by a titanium insert  … definitely NOT feeling hip. For you who have undergone joint replacement … it’s not much fun. 

In the maze of crutches, ice packs, raised toilet seats, compression stockings, vibrating leg cuffs … you wonder when you can not think about your hips! Funny, I did this once before three years ago with my left hip and don’t remember as much pain but I don’t remember what I had for breakfast lately either  

Funny story  

Yesterday, Debbie visited one of her billionaire condo owners to instruct them how to open their garage doors (or something less complicated). Debbie’s been taking care of me since surgery and was afraid to leave me alone for ten minutes (knowing I might get confused and hurt myself).   

I had just taken my 13th pain killer before lunch and suddenly a hawk slammed into my sliding glass doors by the pool. He hit so hard that I swear he pooped all over the deck … then got back up and flew into the glass again. Then he flew off. 

I grabbed my phone.

“Debbie … Debbie … you won’t believe this . A hawk just flew right into our glass doors then pooped himself.”

Silence on the other end.

“Are you making fun of me because I saw a yellow butterfly by the pool and told you that was a great sign?”

“No, no I swear I saw a hawk. You don’t believe me?”

“I don’t” Debbie said. 

“I’m telling you it happened. And if you don’t believe me, ask Bobby Kennedy. He was there. He saw it. So was Ben Franklin.”

I stopped.

“”Oh man I can’t believe what I just said. Ben Franklin wasn’t here. I’m so stupid.”

“No honey. Don’t worry. You’re just hallucinating from all those medicines.”

“I meant George Washington.”


Monday, July 26, 2021

I'm POSITIVE You Will Love This Show

I try not to watch the news any more. 

Oh...  I'll listen to a podcast now and then. Certainly, Debbie will keep me informed about all the really important things happening around town ... like what a good deal she got at Sam's Club on peanut butter or why the lawn people didn't show up on Friday or the rain percentages for mid afternoon.

The world is a crazy place right now. Every day there are stories about people who lie, cheat, murder, steal, plunder ... and those are just the people we voted for. What happened to the NICE people? What happened to the people that we LIKED?  

Well ... There is HOPE ... he's called TED LASSO.

Ted Lasso is a GREAT TV series that airs on Apple TV+ and could not have come at a better time. Jason Sudeikis created Ted, a cheery football coach with a goofy moustache from Kansas who is recruited to coach a soccer team in England. It’s a sport he never coached and never played. It would be like putting Andy Griffin in charge of Scotland Yard. The reason he was picked? The owner of the team is the ex wife of the former owner and (just like in the film “Major League”) she wants to LOSE every game to destroy her ex husband’s first love. 

Ted Lasso is ridiculed for his folksy demeanor by the fans and the press and the players. Every day he faces an impossible task ... to create a winning environment with a team that has no respect for him at all. And through it all he remains POSITIVE. He has an undying spirit and smiles every day. He is never negative and always sees the bright side to the worst situations. 

Sudeikis could have played this part like a slapstick buffoon ... just for laughs, but instead took the high road. And boy does it work. It makes you laugh out loud and shed a tear or two at the same time.

Here's an example:

The opening show on Season 2 starts with a penalty kick from his best player. As he strikes the ball, the greyhound mascot Earl slips out in front of the goal to chase a bird. He is hit by the ball and killed. 

Everyone is devastated. 

In the press conference that follows, one of the cynical newsmen asks Lasso, “So do you have any comment about Earl, the greyhound?"

Ted pauses a few minutes and says, "You know when I was a kid, a neighbor's dog attacked me. It was pretty bad, my mom told me. I was too young to really remember. Well, years later, my neighbor passed away and I helped out around the house. I walked and fed the dog ... took him outside and played catch. The next couple of years the other spouse passed and there was no one to take care of the dog. This was the same dog that attacked me when I was little. But I decided to take the dog and care for him because there was no one else. He lived a long life until I had to put him down when he was older. You know ... funny thing about life. The things that you hated years before ... you hate it more when it's not there any more. Well sir ... I just hope our mascot Earl and him are running around in heaven just as happy as ever."

Ted Lasso works. It's a series that is such a great reminder that good guys DO finish first and that kindness can in fact create winners. There are better ways to lead your life and treat others.  

Tune in ... YOU WILL THANK ME.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Wayne’s Song

 I’ve been spending time at the keyboard remixing old songs and tried my hand at a little montage for my brother. 

Wrote this 20 plus years ago. Wayne died of a brain tumor at 40 … far too young. 

Seems like yesterday. 

Hope you enjoy. 

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Fishy Story

I ate lunch today at Doc Ford’s, a very cool new restaurant at the pier approach. The food is delicious  and atmosphere is pretty delicious too. 

After lunch I wandered over to the old jetty that juts out into the pass between Albert Witted airport and the Pier … where it has sat for years … kind of like an old friend that you pass as you slowly cruise past in your boat. 

I have memories of that jetty especially when the kids were small and we would drift by with fishing poles to hook whatever we’d find … pinfish, flounder, catfish, random trash that shouldn’t be there. 

Once, when my brother in law at the time … Myles took the kids Nikki and Shane … we ran out of bait. Myles announced we’d head back but Shane stood, took his fishing rod and cast it out with just the hook. 

“I will catch fish for us because I have the magic touch!” 

We went along with a Shane and smiled as we patiently waited. In a few minutes, his rod bent and Shane caught the first fish of the day. In shock … we congratulated him. 

“I will catch more!” He announced. 

“Let’s not push our luck Shanie.” I think one of us said. 

But undeterred, Shane caught not one but three fish that day. He was the only one and we still have no idea how he did it. 

I tell that story because there’s a big sign by the jetty today. NO FISHING. It really struck me. Why on earth can’t there be fishing by the jetty anymore?

I thought Shane would probably have the answer  … “Is it still fishing if you don’t use bait?”

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Welcome to New Orleans (Make That Philly)

"So guess what?" I asked Deb about a month ago ... after planning a trip to New Orleans as our first big outing. "I bought us NBA tickets to the Philly/New Orleans game on Friday."

"That's great," Deb said. "I've never been to an NBA game. Are the seats good?"

"The seats are great!"I said, "... except we would be sitting in Philly."

"On the Philly side of the stadium? That's okay."

"No. IN PHILLY. I screwed up and brought tickets for a game that is in Philly, not New Orleans."

Thus began our whirlwind trip to New Orleans AND Philly (the tickets were non refundable and we decided against reselling them online)

I'll start with Philly. It was the last stop ... but the craziest. We did it in one day. Rushing to the airport at the last minute as is the case with most of our planning, finding our seats on Frontier Airlines (truly no frills, no food, no leg room and seats that were carved out of a forest somewhere) we got there an hour before game time. 

Wells Fargo Arena is in the Navy Yard section of Philly amid the other sports complexes (Baseball and Football) and a short walk from the Marriott Courtside. We hadn't eaten anything all day so we were starving by the time we got to the stadium. As luck would have it, Deb found a salad place and I bought a chicken sandwich that I managed to take one bite of and had to throw the rest out. It was bad ... I mean really bad. Soft served ice cream was my dinner that night.

The game turned out to be pretty great (for us). Philly blew a 16 point lead and fought back in the last few minutes to barely beat the Pelicans. We spent the night in our little Marriott bed and visited old friends, Steve and Colleen Klasko, the next day ... hustling back to St. Pete in the afternoon.

By the way, we ate our way through New Orleans, days earlier. 

There were the crawfish beignets at Grand Isle Restaurant, shrimp and corn risotto and flourless volcano dessert at Superior Seafood and a big old shrimp po boy at ACME Oysters.

 It was heaven.

Sometimes the trips that seem to have gone awry turn out to be some of the best trips ever.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Sammy ... Are You Listening?


"You know ... I am VERY proud of me!"

That was one of my dad's favorite things to say. The funniest thing about that line was that he didn't use it to be funny. And ... it was often said when he was talking about his grandkids. If Nikki, my oldest daughter, was given special recognition in the medical community for something that she accomplished as a physician ... he would say, "I showed my friend Stan the article in the paper about Nikki. I am VERY proud of me. I'm her grandfather, you know?" 

I just finished a screenplay adaptation of my second book "SAMMY". Sending it around to people I know in the industry who might give it a read or share it with others. You never know, SAMMY just might find his way to the silver screen (if they exist any more after COVID darkened movie theaters everywhere). 

Audio sales have been doing well for the new audio version of SAMMY as well. It's on Amazon and Audible if you want to check it out (I never pass up a chance to beg). 

I often wonder what Sammy would say about all the attention he has gotten from the fictionalized account of his life. Like all of us, his life was filled with ups and downs. I know there were things left undone that bothered him. 

That's one of the reasons I wrote SAMMY ... to give him virtual closure. 

Maybe if he were alive today, he would give Stan a copy of the book and say "I am VERY proud of me! That's my son, the author, you know?"

Monday, March 8, 2021

Only Keli Would Ask

The other night the siblings went out to dinner on PAG beach (Pass a Grille for the out of towers). We started out at our condo drinking wine and then walked to Grace Restaurant. Sitting there at Grace, my sister in law Keli (who may have consumed the lions share of the wine) looked at the silverware which was wrapped in baggies for all in attendance and asked me a question. I’m sure she didn’t look at her silverware first. 

“Joel ... is that special silverware that you bring with you?” 


“Your silverware  ... it’s wrapped in plastic. Is that Diabetic silverware?”

I wasn’t sure what to answer first. I thought about saying “duh! Everyone has wrapped silverware and what the heck is diabetic silverware?” But the fact that she even asked left me speechless. 

Without having to answer she finally laughed and said. “Oh sorry. Never mind. I thought you had diabetes.”

Friday, February 26, 2021

IPhone, uPhone, We all Phone

There is one word that has been banned from our household: iPhone. 

This wasn’t always the case. But lately, the word has been linked with criminal acts and  cursed repeatedly by Debbie in ways that I am even shocked to hear. Truth be told, Debbie has never liked her  iPhone (since she traded up from an iPhone 3 ... I think 10 years ago) and was always unhappy with the lack of consistency and multiple glitches she encountered ... hence ... the repeated use of colorful language in its description. It has gotten so bad as of late, that even Debbie promised not to mention it anymore. I’ll admit that I encouraged her silence after she cursed me for inferring that her 250,000 saved emails might be to blame for a sluggish performance. It was not healthy for our marriage  

The other morning, Debbie brought it up once more  this time she seemed really shaken when she shared this, “ Okay ... I am REALLY over it  My phone is gone. I can’t find it. It is in some large room hidden by the Apple people and I spent all night looking for it.”

Bad dreams are a sign that it’s time to get that sucker fixed (or delete at least half of your emails.) But that’s just me and I will say no more. 

Sunday, January 31, 2021

You Feel a Little Warm

A few days ago, I was given the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. My arm was a little sore and I felt a little under the weather.  

That night Deb felt my head and said “You feel a little warm honey. Let me take your temperature.”

She came back with a new thermometer I hadn’t seen before. It was pretty large and bright yellow. “Just bought this,“. she said. “I wanted to try it out”

It was still in the package and the instructions were written in a different language. One thing I was sure of ... it met two of her criteria for a purchase. 

1. It came from WalMart

2. It was cheap or on sale

As she slipped it in my mouth, I told her that the thing was so big that I couldn’t hardly keep it in my mouth  “Just make sure it’s under your tongue.”  

Ten minutes later, it still hadn’t beeped or anything. She took it out and noticed it was 99.5. “Okay looks like you have a fever.” 

I was skeptical but agreed to take a couple of Tylenol. A few minutes later she came back with the old thermometer and asked me to try it again. 


“ Because I looked the new one up on line.”


“ it’s a Meat Thermometer.”

Tuesday, January 12, 2021


Yesterday ... Came across all these pics of the kids when they were little. Nikki, being the first born, posed in most of them for me. I think I ruined her for life. She now takes pictures of her two kids every ten minutes. 

She was a beautiful baby and now is a beautiful woman. By the way... there are pictures of my other two kids Alissa and Josh who are equally beautiful and handsome. 

But Nikki was around for 6 years before they arrived so she got all the attention. 

I found a series of drawings that I did when she was still in diapers (This was 40 years ago).

Note: Anybody old enough to remember Didee Diapers? We used them until disposables were sold.

The plan was to paint these images on her bedroom walls ... things she could be when she grew up ... musician, teacher, painter, zookeeper ... plumber. Good thing I didn’t do that. Nikki is now a successful doctor (one image I didn’t draw) and we had lived in at least five houses by the time she was 13. 

Oh well ...  time marched on. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

We ALL See Him!


This guy is my new favorite actor in my new favorite commercials. Bill Glass plays Dr. Rick in Progressive Insurance’s series of ads that are brilliantly written and brilliantly portrayed by Glass and others. 

They are hysterical in their simplicity. 

He is a Parents-Life Coach who works with adult children to correct habits they have picked up from their parents. They go on field trips to places like the hardware store where Dr  Rick reminds them to not talk on their speaker phones in public and when they pass a customer with blue hair and the class all stares, Dr  Rick says, “We ALL see him  We ALL See him.”

Look for Dr  Rick. He’s the best. Kudos to Progressive. There are SO MANY dumb commercials out there. 

I am so happy there are still some smart people in advertising. 

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...