30 Random Things… including Meadowlark Lemon!

December 1, 2015

Meadowlark

1. Gorillas are my favorite animal.

2. I once had an autographed picture of boxer Duane Bobick.

3. My favorite musician is Warren Zevon.

4. In 1978, Olympic swimmer John Naber rushed me off a pay telephone at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.

5. My 1999 Toyota Corolla has over 275,000 miles on its odometer.

6. I know all of the words to the Canadian National Anthem.

7. I’m a card-carrying member of The Three Stooges fan club.

8. I once rolled ten strikes in a row the very first time I used a new custom bowling ball that I bought on eBay. Never came close since.

9. Boiling in hot water is my preferred way of cooking hamburgers.

10. Shoulders are my favorite female body part.

11. I once ran into goaltender Bernie Parent coming out of a convenience store and held the door open for him.

12. I regret not picking up the cork from a champagne bottle celebration after Hulk Hogan beat the Iron Shiek to become wrestling champion.

13. While also working at the Madison Square Garden Network in New York City, I once gave Wayne Gretzky a television set.

14. As a child, I remember throwing up in the dentist’s chair. The dentist had hairy fingers and I gagged on a loose hair.

15. I like redheaded women.

16. Of all the movies that I have ever seen, I think I have watched “Goodfellas” the most.

17. The tip of the middle finger of my right hand needed 14 stitches when it nearly got cut off in the spokes of a bicycle.

18. I always had success fishing using slices of hotdogs as bait.

19. I remember crying when I once missed an annual episode of The Grinch That Stole Christmas. Had to wait 364 days to see it again.

20. Tying a postcard to a helium balloon to see how far it travels is something I always wanted to do.

21. In my youth, I was almost electrocuted playing “Hide The Penny” at a neighbor’s house. He hid it inside a lamp fixture.

22. I unofficially once held the world’s record for snatching a pile of quarters that were first balanced on my extended elbow.

23. Seeing Meadowlark Lemon and the Harlem Globetrotters perform live was a childhood thrill of mine. Immediately following that exhibition, I got to see Billy Cunningham score his 10,000th point as a Philadelphia 76er against the Cincinnati Royals.

24. My blood type is O Positive… universal donor.

25. As a kid, I nearly choked to death on a sour ball piece of candy.

26. “Act your age, not your shoe size” was a common expression. The closet I came was wearing size 12 at age 13.

27. I once won something in a drawing from a local television station but the letter arrived AFTER the deadline to pick up the prize.

28. I stand exactly 6 feet 0 inches tall.

29. I keep currency inside my wallet in ascending order with all Presidents facing the same way.

30. I once accidentally sent my first-born child to school with a can of beer in his lunchbox. Later I had some explaining to do with the school principal.

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The United States Of America is anything but united

November 1, 2015

AMERICAN'T

The diversity of our country that once was the glue in the fabric of our existence is now at its core in tearing us apart.

No longer is America the model melting pot that it was at the start of the 20th century. It’s now the 21st century and its individual parts are screaming among themselves and shattering this country into pieces.

Whites push their own agenda.

Blacks have their own stance.

Hispanics demand to be recognized.

Asians stand up for themselves.

Christians. Catholics. Jews. Muslims. Episcopalians. Methodists. Mormons. Gays. Lesbians. Feminists. Undocumented Immigrants. Democrats. Republicans. Liberals. Conservatives.

Every individual group that makes up our country is out for themselves. They form their own caucuses. They have their own newspapers. They create their own websites.

They broadcast over their own stations. They form their own opinions and hold fast to their own convictions.

They network. They organize.

Social media provides for their own voices to be heard but no one is listening. The voices are talking over one another like the biblical Tower of Babel.

In our infinite wisdom in the advancement of technology, we’ve gotten dumber.

We’re so connected that we’ve become disconnected.

We’ve alienated ourselves from each other.

We’ve lost the ability to co-exist.

One for all and all for one and every man for himself.

The United States of America is anything but united.

The Divided States of America.

It’s seen on our television sets. It’s written about in newspapers.

It’s plastered in blogs and comment sections all over the internet.

We’re in trouble. We’re in serious trouble. It’s a sad state of affairs.

Not only is our country in trouble. This phenomenon has spread globally.

Our entire planet is in trouble.

E.A.R.T.H. = Educate And Reform The Humans

We need unity. We need harmony. We need compatibility. We need understanding.

We need peace. We need to work together. We need to re-group.

We need reform. We need to recognize our own humanity. We need each other.

We. Not I. There is no I in team. We need to become better team players.

We need to realize that our whole is greater than the sum of our parts.

R. Buckminster Fuller was right. The belief in Spaceship Earth is our only true salvation.

Writing To Women With Wardens

October 30, 2015

Prison

Even though I grew up being jewish, my family didn’t belong to any synagogue. I never went to hebrew school but was tutored at age 12 in time for my bar mitzvah.

My rabbi enjoyed working with me so much because I was a quick learner and, since I had a decent singing voice back then, he was hoping I would continue with my studies to eventually become a cantor but that did not occur.

Recently I found myself looking for and writing to female pen pals in prison out of sheer boredom. I like to draw cartoons and am creative in my letters to these imprisoned women who hopefully enjoy receiving my correspondence. As an ice-breaker, I usually include a copy of the Monopoly “Get out of jail free” card to be funny. Not done mean spirited.

I stumbled upon an online jewish organization in Miami that encourages its members to write to jewish inmates as a way to cheer them up. Their website quotes Maimonides as saying “Helping the imprisoned is the loftiest of all charitable acts, superseding all other forms.”

I may have gone slightly overboard in my caring.

I first wrote to an African American female in Alabama who held up a bank in Rhode Island using a fake bomb.

Next I wrote to a 47-year-old white woman from Texas who had a psychotic episode in 1998 and stabbed a man to death in order to sell his vehicle to supply her own crack cocaine habit. She now claims to have found Christianity and repented her evil ways.

I wrote to a Korean woman from New York who was guilty of mortgage fraud and swindled banks out of millions of dollars before getting caught.

I wrote to an African American woman from Atlanta GA who is locked up in Florida for mortgage fraud where she made defunct businesses appear active and applied for loans and lines of credit in their names.

I wrote to a beautiful hispanic woman who is originally from the Dominican Republic and only knows Spanish. I needed to use the internet to translate my words so she will hopefully understand me. That took work.

I am planning on writing to an African American woman in Las Vegas once I find out what her crime is. I am waiting to hear back from the Nevada Department of Corrections to see if they will disclose that info.

Lastly I decided that I wanted to include a jewish woman as my final pen pal. Instead of this Florida organization to match me up with someone, I went onto a prison pen pal website and did my own search by religion. I found three jewish ladies behind bars.

Two were very young so I opted for the third one who is closer to my age. She was convicted for 1st degree murder in Arizona. Yikes, I thought. I did some further research and googled her name. I was in for a shock.

Her horrific crime story was sensationalized all over the news eleven years ago. She was a former Las Vegas showgirl who killed her husband and disposed of his body using a chain saw. CBS ran her story on “48 Hours” and the Oxygen Cable Network did an
episode of “Snapped” about her case. She even had an investigative reporter write a book about it.

I changed my mind about writing a letter to her. Then I started feeling bad about her young son who lost both his father and his mother from this incident. He recently turned 18 and was likely raised by his paternal uncle.

Then I started feeling empathy for this convicted murderer who never got to see her son grow up and become a man. On his Facebook page he makes no references to his past. No acknowledgements of his mom in “cell block H.”

Her facility accepts first-time email messages so I decided to be nice and gathered tidbits of information about her son: jobs he held, activities he was involved in, girls he liked, etc. I also attached a small montage of his photos to go along with the email
so she could see what her boy currently looks like. I did it from the perspective of one jewish parent to another.

Even though she is condemned to serving a life sentence for a terrible crime she committed, she still should be entitled to know how her offspring is doing. I know I would want to know.  So I gave her a small anonymous glimpse into her son’s life.

Heart strings plucked. My mitzvah mission completed.

Play the hand you were dealt

October 25, 2015

spread-cards

Life is like a game of cards.

When the cards of life are on the table, we have to play the hand we were dealt.

How we play those cards is a personal choice.

We may not like the cards we’re holding but they are the only cards that we have.

We have to take the cards we have and maximize the way we use our cards.

The way we play them will determine the outcome.

The hand that is dealt is determined.

The way we play it is free will.

Two Sam Cooke Film Projects Battle For Best Big Screen Biography

October 24, 2015

cook

Singer Sam Cooke was the Michael Jackson of his heyday. He was a handsome rhythm and blues crooner of color who made women swoon over his sound.

His noteworthy tunes include “You Send Me”, “Only Sixteen” and “Twistin’ The Night Away.”

Tragically, in December 1964, his life was cut short at age 33 when he took a known asian prostitute to a seedy Los Angeles motel. The motel manager, Bertha Franklin, shot and killed Cooke after he apparently went into a drunken rage and became aggressive once the hooker left his room while the singer used the bathroom.

The oriental woman claimed to police that Cooke had kidnapped her and had intended to rape her. Perhaps she lured him there to rob him while he wasn’t looking. Others theorize that Cooke was killed by music industry powers-to-be because he was in control of his own record label which was unheard of back in those days.

Over half a century since his demise, two separate feature films are being developed telling Cooke’s story from humble gospel beginnings in Mississippi to musical stardom to his despicable demise under mysterious circumstances.

One film claiming to be the authorized version is being made by ABKCO Films, part of Cooke’s former manager Allen Klein’s music empire. Klein died in 2009 but his daughter Robin is Vice President of ABKCO Music and Records Inc. while also serving as Director of Film for their motion picture division. ABKCO holds the music/movie/life story rights of Sam Cooke, purchased from his widow in 1988 for approximately $100,000.

The other unauthorized film version is being produced by musician and filmmaker Romeo Antonio who also has a background in law enforcement. He spent several years researching the murder investigation and coroner reports and is calling his project “Sam Cooke: The Truth.”

Family members of Sam Cooke are somewhat divided among both camps. Widow Barbara Cooke Womack and brother L.C. Cooke endorse the ABKCO venture while brother David, former sister-in-law Phyllis and nephew Eugene Jamison sides with Antonio.

The official stand of the Cooke family is that the ABKCO feature is supposedly the only official film version about the soul singer.

Lou Rawls Jr., the son of singer Lou Rawls and god-child of Sam Cooke, is named an associate producer in Romeo Antonio’s production. Their story is based on the B. G. Rhule biography “The Redemption of Sam Cooke.”

ABKCO Films has named Carl Franklin as director of their film project.

Romeo Antonio has hired actor Christopher Warren to portray Blues musician Hank Ballard in his production.

No word yet on who is starring as Sam Cooke in either version.

How Romeo Antonio can even make a movie about singer Sam Cooke without holding rights to his persona or music remains to be seen.

He was hoping to cast Mad Men’s Jon Hamm to portray ABKCO’s founder Allen Klein who could possibly be implicated in Cooke’s murder over musical ownership and generated royalties.

The battle of this epic biopic has begun.

If You’ve Seen One Televangelist, You’ve Seen Them All

October 18, 2015

TRIMMED

Stumbled upon Cindy Trimm on YouTube. Another false preacher of her own multi-million dollar ministry.

Found out she was born into poverty in Bermuda and, as a teenager, she quickly figured out how to weasel people out of money by becoming a self-promoted teacher of God. She is a former senator from her native land.

Trimm claims to be an empowerment specialist but her specialty is milking followers of their money. She sells her own religious courses, DVDs, books and tapes. She has a social media presence on Facebook and Twitter.

She has conned Ebony Magazine into naming her one of the top 100 “doers and influencers in the world today.”

She is associated with the Kingdom School of Ministry to teach others how to fraud desperate souls searching for salvation.

She is a master at brainwashing and her words are toxic. She holds a doctorate degree in rhetoric and propaganda.

Be forewarned: She is growing at a faster rate than cancer. Somebody call the Center for Disease Control.

Do not allow yourself to become her next victim.

Beyond Gravity: The Remarkable Mind Of Sir Isaac Newton

October 15, 2015

Newton_Stamp

Sir Isaac Newton lived in England from 1642 until 1727.

After the Italian astronomer Galileo proved that it was the earth which revolved around the sun and not the other way around, Newton wanted to figure out what kept the planets and the moon in their orbits.

The apocryphal tale is that a falling apple helped Newton to conclude that a force which he called gravity was the responsible kingpin.

Newton also created the branch of mathematics known as calculus. Much of the way that our world exists is based upon Newton’s study of logarithms.

Newton developed a better telescope utilizing a mirror instead of a lens. It was an improvement and led the way to how telescopes are presently designed.

It was Newton who discovered that white light is actually a combination of the spectral colors of the rainbow.

Upon the inspection of his private Cambridge papers, British economist John Maynard Keynes noted that Sir Isaac Newton involved himself with the dark science of alchemy. Alchemists looked to prove that the creation of a philosopher’s stone had magical powers that could turn ordinary lead into gold.

Probably Newton’s biggest obsession which he worked on until his dying day was his attempt to unlock the secrets of the bible codes. He believed that the bible held mystical messages of past, present and future events which were hidden in mathematical configurations of scripture that were impossible to theorize until the advent of the computer.

According to his research, Newton wrote that the end of Earth would occur in the year of 2060.

Possible Jersey Devil Sighting Captured On Camera

October 13, 2015

JD

With Halloween just around the corner, a recent photo taken by a New Jersey resident is going viral.

The controversy is whether or not the image depicts what appears to be a flying llama, otherwise called by locals as the Jersey Devil.

The photo was taken off Route 9 in Galloway near the Jersey Shore.

According to legend, the Jersey Devil has been described as having horns, wings, walking on its hind legs, and has cloven hooves.

The photographer claims it is not a hoax. He says the shot was not digitally altered nor photoshopped. The winged creature allegedly flew away over a golf course when the photo was being taken.

Superstition surrounding the Jersey Devil goes all the way back to the late 18th century, when a witch by the name of Mother Leeds supposedly had her 13th child.

This cursed baby soon transformed into a hideous creature with leathery wings that took flight and left home, becoming what is now known as the Jersey Devil.

Scary stuff if one believes in mythical monsters.

The Legendary Comedy And Longevity Of Don Rickles

October 11, 2015

Mister_Hockey_PuckDon Rickles is regarded as a living legend of comedy. An icon of a time when the “Rat Pack” (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford) ruled Las Vegas.

The only reason he is considered with such reverence is because he has lived so long. It’s amazing that he is 89-years-old and still performs on stage. He has future gigs scheduled as far ahead as May 2016 if he is lucky enough to be alive to attend.

I mean no disrespect. I adore the man. I just don’t think he would be so exalted had he passed away, say, in the 1980s. He was the Howard Stern of his day. He insulted everybody. He was politically incorrect before the term “politically incorrect” came into existence.

His acting skills were marginal at best. He had his own sit-com in 1972 which lasted only thirteen episodes. He later starred in C.P.O. Sharkey that ran two seasons. He made guest appearances on many classic TV shows such as The Addams Family, Gilligan’s Island, Get Smart, The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show and I Dream Of Jeannie but none which would be considered notable.

His best television appearances, in my opinion, occurred on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. One in particular was when Rickles was on while Bob Newhart was filling in for Johnny as guest host. Rickles accidentally broke a cigarette case on the desk and, the next night, Johnny noticed the damaged container. He was told by band leader Doc Severinsen that Rickles did it the night before so Johnny took off to the adjacent studio, where Rickles was taping an episode of C.P.O. Sharkey, and confronted the surprised Rickles about it.

He appeared in movies (Kelly’s Heroes, Beach Blanket Bingo, Casino) but without Academy Award recognition. His own grandchildren know him more for being the voice of Toy Story’s Mr. Potato Head than for anything else in his career.

It’s remarkable that here he is nowadays with his own web site featuring his own mobile app, his own twitter feed and selling DVDs of his Sharkey program as well as listings of upcoming performance locations.

To see an interview of a subdued Don Rickles, without all of the yelling and insulting of his known “shtick” act, catch him on his 2007 book-tour guest appearance on The Charlie Rose show. He speaks openly and honestly about his mother, about Johnny Carson, about Frank Sinatra and his friendship with colleague Bob Newhart.

The 2007 HBO special, “Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project” helps to celebrate his notable life and celebrity by showing what it’s like behind the scenes of his performances.

His 2014 “One Night Only” tribute on Spike TV at the Apollo in Harlem was a delightful broadcast in his honor.

He has outlasted so many comedians who came after him: Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, John Belushi, Sam Kinison, John Candy, Robin Williams.

Rickles married late in life, at age 39, in 1965. He and his wife Barbara had two children. His son, Larry, died in 2011 from pneumonia.

He loves baseball and especially the Los Angeles Dodgers. He used to poke fun mercilessly at former Dodger Don Zimmer who once said that his most sweetest revenge was, as he and Rickles got older, they began to resemble one another.

The Day My Sister Gave Me A Dictionary

October 9, 2015

Old_Main
The year was 1979, before the internet existed. Before computers were commonplace. I had packed a portable manual typewriter to take with me to college.

That was the same year that my sister gave me a dictionary as a going-away present.

A dictionary? It was the new college edition of the American Heritage dictionary of the English language. 1550 pages. It was two inches thick and weighed about three pounds.

At the time, I thought it was a weird present.

Boy, was I ever wrong. That reference book got me through four years of college. I used it to check my spelling for papers. I used it to help me designate word breaks when one sentence carried over to the next line below. It became invaluable to me and turned out to be the best present I ever got.

When I needed to know the definition of a word, I referred to it. And, as a trick that once a high school teacher had suggested, I check the definition of the word above it and the word below it as a way to triple my vocabulary.

And, decades later, I still have that same dictionary. Thanks, sis.