A few of the blogs I follow posted this yesterday. I guess there is a Throwback Thursday prompt each week by a couple sites I cannot remember off the top of my head. I thought this was a very neat set of questions to think back on and answer. After I publish this, I will go back and try to find the names of the original poster of these.
(UPDATED) The authors of the original post is Maggie, at From Cave Walls, and Lauren, at LSS Attitude of Gratitude. The idea of the prompt is for them to give us a topic and for us to write a post in which we share our own memories or experiences about the given topic. This week, Maggie asks us about our nighttime rituals growing up.
This week’s prompt is: Nighttime Rituals
You can either free write using these questions as inspiration or answer the questions as they are.
Did you share a room with a sibling, or did you have a room of your own?
I recall doing both. There were times that my brother and I shared a room and times where we had separate rooms. I remember when we first moved to separate rooms being a bit scared of the dark (and probably being alone). I used to get up and turn the hall light on all the time. Then there were times that I’d call to my brother and have him come in my room, or vice versa.
There were plenty of times were we’d be up screwing around and laughing, which would ultimately cause my dad to have to get up from the living room and yell at us to stay in bed. I don’t know that my dad ever really had the chance to watch a show at night when we were in separate rooms. It seems like he was always coming in to yell at us.
Did you resist going to bed or did you go willingly?
My dad may disagree with me, but I think I went to bed willingly most nights. I think the issue was staying in bed. I’m sure that there were times I resisted, but I don’t recall many times where I fought to stay up.
Did someone put you to bed, tuck you in, or read you a bedtime story?
I am sure as a toddler my mom or dad read me bedtime stories. I remember many of them and have read those to my own kids at bed time. I remember my dad reading us Babar the elephant stories for some reason.
I guess both parents kind of alternated in putting us to bed. I recall my dad always putting us to bed after birthdays and Christmas. He always asked if we got what we wanted and if we had a good day.
Was there a religious component, like prayers, to your nighttime routine?
I remember saying prayers at night. As a kid it was usually the “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer. At some point that began to freak me out. The line “If I shall die before I awake” began to scare me a bit.
As I got older and realized that prayers didn’t have to be repetitive and such, I actually began to pray and have a conversation with God. Those times meant more than the ones I said just to say them.
Did you go to sleep immediately, or lie awake?
I fooled around a lot. I almost never went right to sleep. I remember having a flashlight next to my bed or under my pillow. I would sometimes grab a book and read it with the flashlight on. I also had a small hand held radio with one of those white ear buds that only went in one ear.
I would plug it in and fall asleep listening to the radio – maybe a Tigers game or just music. Later, I had a portable cassette player and I would listen to Old Radio Shows like Fibber McGee and Molly, Dragnet, Jack Benny or Suspense.
Did you ever sleepwalk?
Not to my knowledge.
Did you remember having dreams? If you dreamed, did you ever have bad dreams? Do you remember any dreams specifically?
I do remember dreaming. I recall many times I would have bad dreams and end up crawling into bed with my folks, or my brother. The one dream I have had for years is the “tornado dream” which I blogged about before. You can read it here:
Were you afraid of the dark? Did you sleep with a nightlight or sneak into your sibling’s or parent’s room at night because you were afraid?
Yes. I’m not sure why, but I was very afraid of the dark. I always had a nightlight. I remember when my brother and I had to spend the night at my grandma’s house, they slept in complete darkness and I remember being scared to death. I was always used to hearing my folks up watching TV or talking on the phone. My grandparents would go to be when we went to bed. Complete darkness and eerie quiet. I heard all kinds of noises.
I often snuck into my brothers room or vice versa. Going into my parent’s room was not unheard of either.
Did you have or attend sleepovers or slumber parties?
I remember having sleepovers with a few friends as a young kid. Sometimes I went to their house and sometimes they came to mine. I remember having friends over to watch movies and such. As a teen, I remember one sleepover where a bunch of friends came over and we all slept in a tent in the back yard. My dad wound up cooking a HUGE breakfast for all of us.
How about you? What are your answers to the questions? I’d love to hear them.
For my next pick in the Hanspostcard TV Show Draft, I chose a show that is one of my all time favorites. I don’t remember when I first was introduced to this show, but I am guessing my dad had something to do with it. Early on in the draft, I chose Police Squad, which only aired 6 episodes. This show is known for its “Classic 39” – The Honeymooners.
This isn’t my first blog about the show. Some time ago, I took part in a “Favorite TV Episode” Blogathon and picked 2 of my favorite episodes to present. You can read that blog here:
When you examine 50’s TV shows, there was very little struggle involved. Think about it. I Love Lucy, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, The Andy Griffith Show, and Leave it to Beaver all showed families who were living in nice homes or apartments, showed no signs of financial struggles, and while there may be a misunderstanding here and there, it was mostly “bliss.” In 1955-1956, however, The Honeymooners focused on two couples from New York, who were struggling to get by.
The show focused on the lives of Ralph (Jackie Gleason) and Alice Kramden (Audrey Meadows), and Ed (Art Carney) and Trixie Norton (Joyce Randolph). One article I found on the show says this about Gleason’s Kramden character: Ralph was the get-rich-quick scheming, short-tempered, soft-hearted guy who was always striving for greatness, but never made it out of that two-room Brooklyn apartment. And that’s one of the main attractions for even the most casual of viewers: the characters are so identifiable. As Jackie himself said at the time, “Everything we did could have happened. People like the show, because we are them.”
The show began as a simple sketch on the DuMont Television Network, on the Cavalcade of Stars. The original hosts were Jack Carter and Jerry Lester, but in July of 1950 comedian Jackie Gleason took over the hosting duties. In the process, Gleason took the struggling show and turned it around to be a hit. The show, which featured comedy skits and a number of different performers each week, was broadcast live in front of a theater audience. In 1951, Jackie and his writers came up with the idea for a sketch called The Honeymooners. It was about a struggling couple living in Brooklyn who frequently fought, but in the end, there was no question that they loved each other.
Leonard Stern was a writer on both The Honeymooners and The Jackie Gleason Show. In an interview with the Archive of American Television he stated, “We started doing one sketch of The Honeymooners every five or six weeks and the response of people on the street was tremendous. So we started doing them every other week. Eventually, though, everyone, including Jackie, lost interest in the other characters in the different sketches, so we started to do them every week until the fatigue level hit its high and we’d have to take a break. I think Gleason had fun doing them, because he recognized the impact Kramden and Alice and Norton and Trixie were having on the audience. I’m not a great fan of ratings, but let me say that 53% of the total television audience was watching the show. There’s nothing like that in existence today. It was astonishing and the show itself was live. Remember, the audience of 3,000 people filled that theater. You earned your laughs. It was a resounding success and very exhilarating for all of us. It was opening night every week.”
When Gleason left the Dupont Network and went to CBS, he hosted the Jackie Gleason Show, where the Honeymooners sketches continued. In the 1952 season, the sketches usually ran between seven and 13 minutes. In the following season, and those sketches ran for a minimum of 30 minutes, and sometimes longer. Then, in the 1954-55 season, they actually filled the entire hour of The Jackie Gleason Show, and was doing so well in the ratings that it occasionally surpassed the viewership of I Love Lucy. That is almost unheard of!
In the 1955-56 season, The Jackie Gleason Show literally became The Honeymooners! It aired as a half-hour sitcom that was filmed in front of a studio audience. In total, 39 episodes were produced, and these episodes are the ones that are still being broadcast today. These 39 episodes are the ones that most people remember.
I read an article that said Jackie Gleason had actually been given a three-year contract from CBS for 78 episodes of The Honeymooners to be produced in the first two seasons. The contract also included an option for a third season of 39 more. For whatever it is worth, Gleason felt the quality of the scriptwriting couldn’t be maintained, and the show was mutually canceled by him and CBS.
A Closer Weekly article says: What’s particularly impressive about The Honeymooners living on the way it has is the fact that back in the day, there needed to be a minimum of 100 episodes of a show available so that local stations could run it five days a week. Any less made syndication difficult, since the cycle would be repeated that much sooner. But then there was The Honeymooners, with a mere 39 episodes to offer up, yet it worked. And continues to do so.
In a 1996 appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Jackie was asked why the show ended. He told Carson, “We were running out of ideas. I liked The Honeymooners and I liked doing them, and I didn’t want to denigrate them by forcing scenes that didn’t mean anything. So I wanted to quit, but they didn’t believe me. They thought I had another job someplace, but I didn’t. I’m glad I did stop them, because what we had done was good and if we had gone any further, we might have spoiled it.”
Those “Classic 39” are classic for a reason. They are still funny. The situations that The Kramdens and the Nortons muddle through every week will make you laugh, cry, think, and smile. They still hold up today. Each one of them has memorable scenes and quotable lines.
In one episode Ralph tells his boss he is a great golfer and is immediately asked to go play a round with him. Now Ralph needs to learn how to play – and fast. He finds the perfect teacher in his best friend Ed Norton. In pure Art Carney fashion, Ed reads from a book that you must “address the ball,” to which he takes the club, stands in front of the ball, looks down and says, “Hello, Ball!”
An episode of the show was featured in the movie Back To The Future. When Marty McFly winds up in 1955, a family is watching the episode The Man From Space. Intending to win the $50 first prize at the Racoon Lodge’s costume ball, Ralph decides to create his own outfit. And what an outfit! After appropriating (among other things) a faucet, a pot, a radio tube and the icebox door, he presents himself as the Man from Space.
In another episode, Alice says she wants to go dancing. Ralph has Ed come over to teach him how to dance. Ralph’s outfit is hilarious (he tells Alice it is “what all us cats wear! I’m hip!”). The dance (to the song The Hucklebuck) is worth the watch.
In another classic episode, Ralph and Norton appear on a TV commercial trying to sell their Handy Housewife Helper, a kitchen gadget that can, among other things, open cans, remove corns and “core a apple.” In the inspired, ad-lib-laden episode, “Chef of the Future” Ralph demonstrates the wonders of the gizmo to “Chef of the Past” Norton. Rehearsal goes great, but in front of live cameras, Ralph freezes up.
Art Carney was the perfect second banana. The play between him and Gleason is classic. In one episode Norton’s sleepwalking becomes a waking nightmare for Ralph. Ralph can’t get any sleep because he’s been asked to keep his pal from wandering off on late-night strolls around the neighborhood.
Another classic episode takes place at the pool hall where Ralph gets into an argument with the diminutive guy named George. “My friend is even bigger than me,” he tells Ralph. “I have a friend Shirley that’s bigger than you,” Ralph counters. But then he comes eye-to-chin with George’s friend, the towering Harvey, who challenges Ralph to a fight. This prompts Norton to observe: “He’s even bigger than your friend Shirley.”
Many of the plot lines from the classic episodes made it into the Joe Piscopo and Eddie Murphy novelty hit “The Honeymooners Rap.”
In the 1980’s, Jackie Gleason announced that in his vault he had found a number of Honeymooners skits from The Jackie Gleason Show that had been shot on Kinescope, which is a way of filming directly through a lens that actually focused on the screen of a video monitor. 107 of those skits were released on DVD and syndicated to television stations. These would have been shot before the “Classic 39” and two of them stand out to me.
Jackie had been a guest star on the Jack Benny show, so Jack makes an appearance in one of those “lost” episodes as the Kramden’s landlord. The rent is being raised and Ralph is mad. When there is a knock on the door, Ralph opens it and Jack Benny is standing there. The audience chuckles in anticipation. Ralph calls to Alice that “the Landlord’s here” and the audience erupts. Benny stands there quietly as Ralph reads him the riot act! He calls him a “penny pincher” (which plays into Benny’s “cheap” character”) and says that he pinches a penny so hard that when he is through “both heads and tails are on the same side of the coin!”
In another lost episode, Ralph must lose weight for work. All through the episode he is starving. Finally, he is left alone in the apartment and sitting at the kitchen table. He notices a cake pan. He lifts the lid and sees the cake. His eyes bulge and he goes nuts. As he is about to tear into the cake Alice walks in. “Everybody get back,” he yells! The brief 3 minutes of him staring at the cake before getting ready to eat it is comedy genius!
As brilliant as Jackie Gleason was as Ralph Kramden, he never won an Emmy Award for it. Art Carney, however, won 5 Emmy’s for Best Supporting Actor on The Honeymooners and the Jackie Gleason Show.
The Honeymooners influenced a huge 1960’s cartoon – The Flintstones. It is a blatant rip off of the show, and was a huge hit. It is said that Gleason considered suing Hanna-Barbera Productions because of the similarities, but decided that he did not want to be known as “the guy who yanked Fred Flintstone off the air”
The Honeymooners is over 65 years years old! Joyce Randolph, who played Trixie Norton is 97 years old and still going strong. I wonder if Gleason ever thought that those 39 episodes would still find an audience today and that they would still bring much laughter.
If you have never seen an episode, I encourage you to do so. The two episodes I mentioned in a previous blog are good places to start – TV or Not TV or A Matter of Record. Most are available on Youtube.
At midnight tonight, we’ll start a brand new year – 2022. Some have compared a new year to a book. The book with 365 blank pages – one for each day – and said that the book is ours to write. There is truth to that.
As I looked back over my “book” entitled “2021,” I see that (despite the pandemic and all the crap that came with it) I really did have a good year. Bear with me, he’s the recap:
January started with some snow. It actually looks like we should be getting snow again this week. Ella absolutely loved being outside in the snow. It was fun to watch her try to figure out just what all the white stuff was. Today, when she sees it, she get’s excited and yells, “Snow! Snow!”
In mid-January, we scratched our heads and wondered just how Ella was 11 months old! I mean, it seemed like she was just born!
The pressure was on as we closed in on her first birthday. With Covid, we weren’t quite sure if we’d even be able to have a party for her.
As we got closer to Ella’s birthday, Sam was just not feeling right. 3 days before Ella’s birthday, we found out that baby #2 was on the way!
This took us both completely by surprise! There was great excitement all over again. The hardest part was keeping it a secret…
Ella’s first birthday was a fun and busy day. We ditched the pink blocks and marked the birthday with a HUGE number “1” balloon. This was followed by a trip to the Sea Life Aquarium, the Build a Bear place, and cake at Nana’s house.
We were glad to be able to get some professional “1st Birthday” pictures, too!
In March we got our first look at the baby we now know as Andrew/AJ and announced Ella’s promotion to big sister.
Ella also got her first haircut
March also consisted of many walks around the neighborhood and stops at the park.
Big brother, Dante’ turned 19 this month! Before that, Easter fell on my mom’s birthday. We got Ella all dressed up in her Easter dress, stopped at the cemetery to visit grandma on her birthday and then went to Nana’s for an Easter Egg hunt!
Ella is so very blessed to have wonderful people in her life. Aunt Margaret is one of them! (She will kill me for posting this picture, but I just love this!!) She and cousin Marissa came to visit and the highlight was watching them read books together.
We also found out the baby’s gender, but that wouldn’t be revealed until May.
Birthday’s have never really bothered me, mostly because I opt for the Jack Benny attitude and say that I am stuck at 39. However, in reality I turned 51. 30 was big. 40 was tough. 50 a bit hard to swallow. Over 50? Well…..I examine my own mortality every day.
The month started warm enough that Ella got to spend lots of time in her sandbox and pool.
We revealed that Ella was having a baby brother and got another look at him on an ultrasound.
Ella and I worked on a special project for Sam for Mother’s Day and we got to visit the Detroit Zoo.
May also brought Ella her first taste of corn on the cob!
My second oldest boy celebrated his 14th birthday in June. We got to spend Father’s Day together by visiting Crossroads Village. They had a Classic Car Show there and we walked the village and rode the train. It was such a great day with my kids!
It was SO hot that day!!! By the end of it all, Ella was physically exhausted. June was a hot month and we did get to get out and enjoy walks in the park and a day at the splash pad.
By July, Sam was 5 months pregnant and was so sick. The pregnancy was a rough one on her. The heat didn’t help things. Despite that, the middle of summer was packed full of amazing things and our family had loads of fun.
We celebrated America’s Birthday, Ella had her first visit to the public library and bowled for the first time, and we all visited the Saginaw Children’s Zoo.
As Summer drew to a close, we continued to squeeze as much into it as we could. I got to spend a perfect day doing a daddy daughter picnic, my name was finally on the board at the Corner Cone for a free ice cream, Ella spent lots of time drawing with crayons, and our stress levels were through the roof as we took Ella in for her ear tube surgery. We also got another peak at AJ and had a visit from my brother.
Fall! My favorite season of all. I was glad to be able to get together with Margaret, Walt and my buddy Chris at Margaret’s house. Since she’s already mad at the one picture I posted, I’ll just share the one she told me I could share. Hopefully, that makes things a little better….
We always love going to get pumpkins and decorating the front of the house for fall. Ella seemed to like it, too.
Ella and I also got to take one last trip to the Saginaw Zoo before it closed for the season. It was a great day for us, and Sam actually got to relax a bit.
We had been told more than once that there was a possibility that the baby would come before his due date. He held out almost until the date! Just two days before he was born, Ella and I got to go outside and enjoy the fall colors.
On October 11th, AJ entered the world. I watched in awe as my son was born and all the pride of being a daddy again filled my soul. We weren’t sure how Ella would handle it, but she welcomed him with open arms.
They still did not have a photographer at the hospital, so we went to JC Penney to have some newborn pictures taken. AJ looks spiffy in his outfit!
While this wasn’t Ella’s first Halloween, it was the first real Trick or Treating adventure for her. She was happy that big brother was there to walk with her. AJ was obviously way too young to attempt to go out this year.
Fall walks are among my favorites. I love looking at the colors. Ella and I took many fall walks and there were many instances where she’d just play in a pile of leaves! AJ kept us all busy and so it was just Ella and I making the trip to Bronner’s to get his ornament for the Christmas tree. We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving at home and got the house ready for Christmas.
The final month of the year brought many happy memories. Professional Christmas pictures, my annual reading of Dickens, AJ turned 2 months old, a visit from Papa and Grandma, Christmas Eve with my boys, Holiday lights at Crossroads, our first Christmas as a family of four, and the anticipation of a brand new year.
Blog highlights included my entries to the 2021 Song Draft, salutes to Soupy Sales, my grandpa, and Ernie Harwell, a guest blog from my pal Max, silly blogs about hats and Bernie Sanders’ mittens, fishing memories, my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, and a blog about an amazing cartoon Dog Dad.
There were many sad moments in 2021. I lost classmates and friends to cancer, heart disease, and of course, Covid. If the past two years have taught me anything, it is that life is precious and another day is not promised. You never know when it will be the “last picture,” the “last phone call,” or the “last visit.” It takes me make to that quote that my band director wrote on the grease board my senior year. I have quoted it many times. “Live every day as if it were your last. Someday, you’ll be right.”
Life is too short. Live. Laugh. Love.
As we welcome 2022, I pray that it is a good year for all of us. May we find it full of happiness and good health. May God bless you and yours in the upcoming year.
Get ready. The Book of 2022 awaits. Grab your pen and turn to page (January) 1.
I was introduced to Jack Benny as a kid. I guess the first time I saw him was on Saturday mornings watching cartoons. In 1959, Jack and some of the cast of his show provided voices to “themselves” as mice in a cartoon called The Mouse That Jack Built.
My dad introduced my brother and I to many old radio shows, including the Jack Benny Show. For his birthday, I blogged a bit about Jack – you can read that here:
One of my favorite things to do as Christmas gets closer is listen to the Jack Benny Christmas shows. A running gag for some of these shows involved Jack going to the store to finish his Christmas shopping. The gag always revolved around the gift he’d buy for his announcer Don Wilson. Each year, Benny would buy a ridiculously cheap Christmas gift for Don Wilson, from a harried store clerk played by Mel Blanc (the voice of Bugs Bunny). Benny would then drive Blanc to insanity by exchanging the gift countless times throughout the episode. In the 1946 Christmas episode, for example, Benny buys shoelaces for Don, and is unable to make up his mind whether to give Wilson shoelaces with plastic tips or metal tips. After exchanging them repeatedly, Mel Blanc is heard screaming insanely, “Plastic tips! Metal tips! I can’t stand it anymore!”
A variation in 1948 was with an expensive wallet, but repeatedly changing the greeting card, prompting Blanc to shout, “I haven’t run into anyone like you in 20 years! Oh, why did the governor have to give me that pardon!?” The kicker at the end of the show comes when Jack realizes that he should have gotten Don a wallet for $1.98, whereupon the store clerk responds by committing suicide. Over the years, in the Christmas episodes, Benny bought and repeatedly exchanged cuff links (The engraving was the issue) , golf tees (wooden or celluloid), a box of dates (with nuts or without) , a paint set (water colors or oils), and a gopher trap (trap them alive or kill them). In later years, Benny would encounter Mel Blanc’s wife or the clerk’s psychiatrist at the store, and drive them crazy, as well.
The bit was so popular that when Jack moved his show to television, they adapted the “wallet” show for TV. It’s even funnier to watch, especially since Mel Blanc cracks Jack up on camera.
Yesterday’s blog about taking Ella to the library led to various conversations that brought back many of my own library memories.
My first trip to the library was of course during grade school. We always had a day during the week where we could go and check out a book. There were some occasions where we got to go to the library and listen to audio cassettes or record albums. I remember they had the worst headphones for listening to things in the library!
The above picture is close to what those headphones looked like, but I think the ones at school had very little cushion to them. They were either so tight that they left your ears red, or so loose that the never stayed on. It was rare to every find a pair that were “comfortable.”
On a trip to the library last year with my sons, my oldest wanted to play on the computers and asked for headphones. You guessed it – the headphones they gave him were almost identical to the ones we had in elementary school. Maybe they want them to be uncomfortable, so you won’t be on the computer too long?
My buddy Max reminded me that before the days of computers, you would take the book to the desk and they would stamp it with the due date. This was very similar to the way books were checked out in school, but in school, your name and the date showed up on the card.
Today, you go into the library and do a search on the computer for a book. Back in the day, you had to use the card catalog!
With the card catalog, you could look up a topic, a title, or an author. As I recall, the cards were hand typed and in alphabetical order. You would then be able to find the section where the book was located using the Dewey Decimal System. You’d get the number, find the section, find the numbers, and hopefully the book was on the shelf. Each book had those white stickers with that info on the binder.
When I think about the library, two great childhood memories come to me immediately. Growing up, they used to play old radio shows on the radio. I was familiar with them because we used to check them out of the library on cassette tape! I was introduced to Jack Benny, Amos and Andy, Fibber McGee and Molly, Suspense, Dragnet, and so many other shows because of trips to the library. I loved checking them out and listening to them at night.
I also remember looking forward to the nights my dad rented the 16 mm projector from the library.
It was always fun to have dad set up movies and us watch them on the wall. He always checked out old Laurel and Hardy films, Three Stooges shorts, the Little Rascals and Smokey & the Bandit. This was in the days before any of these were out on video. It was awesome to be able to see these at home! I remember those nights very well. I was probably introduced to so many classics this way.
It’s been many years since I got my first library card. In that time the media used at the library had changed drastically. Instead of records and cassettes, today you can check out DVD, Blue Ray, and CDs. There are computers readily available for folks who have no internet. And, of course, there are millions of stories sitting upon the shelves in books. When I hear people say there is no need for the local library, it makes me sad, because it remains one of my favorite places to go.
Today is the 12th anniversary of my 39th birthday.
As much as I’d like to be “Forever 39” like Jack Benny, the truth is that I am officially logged 51 years on the planet. Today begins Trip #52.
People are always asked “What do you want for your birthday?” This blog is my answer (or answers) to that question. These are things you can do for me.
Pay It Forward
Every now and then, someone will pay for my coffee at Tim Hortons. It always feel great to know that someone was kind enough to do that for me. You know what feels better? Doing it for someone else!
Thank A Veteran
It is such a simple thing to do. In the Covid world, shaking hands is frowned upon, but you can still say thank you. You may not think it means much, but it does.
Support a Local Business
This is so important today. The big companies are not struggling as bad. Search out local businesses and support them. Make it a point to brag about them on social media. Spread the word. Your community will thank you for it!
Do Something Nice For Your Neighbor
Bring up their trash cans from the road. Mow their grass. Send them flowers. TALK to them! Put the phone down and do some real socializing.
Look Into Your Child’s Eyes.
I saw this online recently and it really hit home. “Stop what you are doing, sit down, and just look into them. Do that every day and you will change the world.” ~Noel Cocca
Give. Don’t Expect To Get.
This one thing can change the entire world! Everyone expects things today. We are selfish. Be the change – “It is better to give than to receive.” It doesn’t have to be money or materialistic things, either. Give a compliment. Give a smile.
When you smile, you instantly uplift others! Plus, smiling can reduce stress and activate the smiles in the people around you. Smiling is infectious. Too often we walk with our faces down or stern, perhaps staring at our phones, oblivious to the people around us. Look up. Smile at people. If you don’t feel like smiling, smile anyway.
Say “thank you.” You will be amazed at how your attitude changes when you become more thankful and grateful. Thank your friends, family, and God daily.
Say “I Love You”
This is a life mantra of mine. You may never get another chance to tell someone how you feel. Always make sure they know. Make it a goal to tell at least 10 people you love them today. Tomorrow is promised to no one.
Do whatever you can to avoid negativity and negative people. Find the positives in everything.
Spend some time away from your phone, the internet, television, etc. Get out in nature. Sit on your porch and take in the sights and sounds. Read a good book. Read the Bible. Pray. Set some time away from technology and reset!
Write a Letter or Send a CardTo Someone
Do it for no reason. You will make their day!
Practice Active Listening
When you are speaking with someone, give them your full attention. Ask how they are and then LISTEN to them!
Sing, hum, dance, make music, celebrate music. Music is one of the things that make us experience life more fully and connect to our innermost creativity. Music is the universal language. Get LOST in a favorite song – really listen to it. Listen for something you may not have heard before.
Thanks in advance for reading. Now go out and make a difference!!
I love reading. I don’t get as much time to do it as I’d like. I have a stack of books on my “to read” pile right now. I really need to stop going to the library because every time I do, I bring home three or four and the “to read” pile doesn’t go down.
I was challenged to write this blog by another blogger I follow. Interestingly enough, a different blogger had posted a few blogs about books and we had brief conversation about doing a blog like this, and then I received the challenge from a second blogger.
I took a piece of paper out and jotted down the first few books that came to mind and stopped when I reached 5 for the three categories. Included is a brief description of each, should you be moved to read them.
Pandora’s Clock – John Nance
A plane carrying a “super virus” that could leave all the passengers dead within hours. Word gets out about the plane and no one wants them landing at their airport. Reviews I read afterward were not that great, but I enjoyed the book.
True Crime – Andrew Klaven
A man is about to be executed for a crime he didn’t commit. He tells his story to a reporter who investigates and finds the real killer. It is a race against the clock to stop the execution. I read this in one day! I couldn’t put it down. The movie made based on this book was a huge disappointment.
The One Man – Andrew Gross
One of the best historical thrillers I have read. A man is sent to sneak into Auschwitz concentration camp to save a man who has information that can start a war – or end it. Loved this book!
The Godfather – Mario Puzo
A classic! I can re-read this over and over. The story of the Corleone Crime family, which was turned into an Academy Award winning film. A story you can’t refuse!
11-22-63 Stephen King
What an amazing premise for a story! Already fascinated with the assassination of JFK, this was a must read for me. I was not disappointed. A high school English teacher is recruited by a friend to stop the Kennedy Assassination by going back in time through a time portal in the neighborhood diner. This is also on my “books to read again” stack.
Hiroshima – John Hersey
Powerful and eye opening story of the bombing and aftermath of Hiroshima, Japan. It is truly amazing to read the stories of people who survived this horrific event.
A Night to Remember – Walter Lord
The minute by minute account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic. I first read this in high school for my Survey of Non-fiction class. It remains one of the most accurate accounts of the tragedy.
Maus – Art Spiegelman
I read this for one of my first college classes. The true story of a Holocaust survivor, as told by his son. It is a graphic novel based on conversations between father and son.
The Michigan Murders – Edward Keyes
One of the first true crime stories I ever read. Between 1967-1969, there were many murders of young women in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area of Southeastern Michigan . The killer was being called the Ypsilanti Ripper. At times gruesome, the story was fascinating.
Exit The Rainmaker – Jonathan Coleman
I first learned of this book from a co-worker who was reading it one night at the radio station. The book tells of the true story of Jay Carsey, a college president, who walked away from his wife, work, family and friends to start a new life. I learned afterward that he not only did this once, he did it twice! Carsey died in 2000, but his story makes you wonder just what makes someone do what he did!
Sid Caesar – Where Have I Been?
Sid was a very funny guy, but boy did he have demons! I had no idea just how many issues he had until I saw this one on a library shelf and picked it up.
Jack Benny – Mary Livingstone
There are many other biographies about Jack Benny (by Irving Fein, Milt Josefsberg, and his daughter Joan Benny), but I chose this one written by his co-star and wife, Mary Livingstone. I have read this one a few times, and even though the stories are the same, it just makes me love Benny even more.
One Fine Stooge – Steve Cox
Steve Cox and Jim Terry do such an amazing job with this book on one of the most underrated classic comedians – Larry Fine. Great stories, great photos, and a wonderful tribute to my favorite Stooge.
Moe Howard and the 3 Stooges – Moe Howard
Moe on Moe. In his own words, and with lots of pictures, Moe shares many stories from his days as leader of the Three Stooges. This was one of the first books I ever bought on the Stooges, and remains one of my favorites.
Soupy Sez – Soupy Sales
I wasn’t young enough to watch Soupy in the 60’s, but I did get to see his 70’s revival show on TV as a kid. I also loved listening to his Moldie Oldies Show on the radio. Soupy tells some great stories in this biography.
I am sure if I really thought about it, I could come up with many more books I enjoyed. For now, this satisfies the challenged posed to me. What books are your favorites? Tell me about them! I’d love to add them to my list of books to read!
Word Press informs me that this blog turned two years old yesterday! Two years and the blogging continues….
I wrote a blog reflecting on one year and some feelings remain the same. Rather than look back on the entire two years, I thought I would reflect on the last year, which had many milestones! Over the past year, I have gained many more followers, so for those new followers, let me give you a brief look at why this blog exists two years later.
When I began this blog, I really didn’t have any idea of what it would be. In my head, I thought that I might blog about some things I liked. I also knew I would probably write about some favorite memories. I might also write tributes to important people in my life or just random thoughts to help me deal with emotions or life situations.
This blog was meant for me. It was to be a “sort of” therapy for me. I envisioned it as a way to keep track of thoughts, write down stories I didn’t want to forget, and occasionally just vent. I had often joked about writing an autobiography, and in a way, this blog has become “chapters”.
I never thought that anyone would actually want to read these blogs (unless, of course, the blog mentioned them)! Yet, here I am over two years later and I have “followers” – people who actually make it a point to read this no matter what the topic. It humbles me.
If I were to compare “year one” with “year two” I would say the blogs leaned a lot more happy. They contained many happy moments. Looking back, I see how I have grown and learned to deal with certain people, certain situations, and look at things more objectively. I have learned to think before reacting. I have learned to separate myself from those things that bring on stress and make me uncomfortable. I have gotten more in touch with the person I want to be. Looking back, I see much more happiness. Life has been very good to me over the last year.
Much like last year, there were plenty of blogs about music. I began to post a song every Tuesday that held some special meaning. Maybe the song was prompted by a singer’s birthday or it was just something I heard on the radio. I admit toward the end of the year, I neglected the Tune Tuesday feature a bit. I hope to be a bit more consistent with it in the year ahead. Last year’s songs ranged from Dean Martin to Hugh Laurie to the Muppets! I look forward to this year’s selections.
Memories of the Past
Nostalgic memories are often featured here. Many of them stem from things I see that bring back memories. Some writings stem from an idea I got from a fellow blogger. Some of the topics from last year included the ice cream man, toys I remember from my childhood, breakfast cereals from my childhood, memories of band class, the Sunday comics I used to read, books I read as a child and to my boys, and the summer baseball games I played in the neighborhood. There was also a blog about Muppets phased out of Sesame Street.
I toyed with this idea, and my little brother stepped up to bat. It was fun to tell him to write whatever he wanted to and see what he came up with. I really like this idea, and I hope to get a few others to write occasional pieces for this blog. I am very open to this idea. Let me know if you would like to do this! You could write about me, our friendship, or expand on something I have already written.
This year I saluted my oldest and best friend on his birthday. I also saluted three of my friends from school/band in one blog because they all celebrated birthdays in October. Remembering some of the funny radio stories that involved my co-host Stephanie was a blast for sure! Some blogs were inspired by friends and their posts on Facebook. Year three I am already planning some overdue friendship blogs. Stay tuned!
This year, I did a series on my favorite movies by decade. The idea was to pick one favorite film from each year you have been alive. I was born in 1970, so I did a blog for each decade (70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s). I neglected to do 2010-2019, but now that we have entered the new decade, I will have to make sure to wrap that series up. I really enjoy being able to write about my favorite films, and I found it a challenge to narrow it down to one each year.
Last year I wrote about less celebrities than the year before. I wrote about The Three Stooges, in a round about way, as I went with the boys to the Stooges Festival in Redford. I devoted an entire blog to some of the very funny lines that Paul Lynde had from the Hollywood Squares. The great Jack Benny got an much deserved blog on his birthday. I also wrote about Elvis on the anniversary of his passing. I believe that there are a few other celebrities who I could easily devote an entire blog to, I just wonder if folks would read it.
Along with movies and music, TV tends to be a topic I love to write about. This year I wrote a blog about the classic 1966 Batman show. I also wrote about my favorite TV shows of the 1950’s. For Tune Tuesday, I picked Sanford and Son because of the theme song. I really need to write about that show and some of my other favorites. This year I blogged about the remake of All in the Family and The Jefferson’s which again brought me back to one of my original blogging ideas – “why must they remake everything!?” I also had a chance to talk about one of my favorite Christmas TV specials this year.
While many blogs tend to focus on entertaining things, some blogs wind up being of a serious nature. I am human. I can’t be upbeat all the time. I finally had the guts to write about the topic of divorce – just to see if I could do it. Death was also a topic. I lost some close friends this year. I also had friends of mine who lost loved ones. Just this week alone, my buddy Chris lost his mom and a co-worker lost hers. It’s a hard topic to write about, but I did.
As I look back over “year two”, there is no shortage of blogs that brought about strong emotions from me. One of those stemmed from a photo shoot for my oldest son. Senior pictures. I still choke up as I think about him being a senior and graduating. Speaking of graduation, my wife graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in April. I felt so much pride for her as she walked that stage. She did all the work, so why it was so emotional for me, I don’t know. I sometimes think I can get too emotional. Rest assured – there are more emotional blogs in the year ahead!
The blog also consisted of many personal rants. Some I have mentioned (TV and Movie remakes, missing Muppets, and such), but I also ranted (and whined) about having the “man cold”. That blog brought about much teasing from friends! I also ranted about how much I miss record stores (prompted by a record player I received for my birthday). I know I have other “rant” topics in my blogging notebook.
A Love Story
Sam and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. I chose to take the occasion of our anniversary to tell “our story”. The people who were close to us knew the story, but many didn’t. As sort of a “love letter” to my wife, and as a way to tell just how our wonderful relationship began, I wrote a series of three blogs leading up to our anniversary. Those blogs talked of how we met and became close friends, how we began dating and how I proposed, and then how we got married. Those blogs were among my highest read last year. A blog followed about our anniversary trip. Sam makes me SO happy and I am sure there will be many more blogs about our amazing relationship.
On Father’s Day, Sam told me that we were expecting a baby. It was SO hard to NOT blog about that!! We waited some time before spilling the beans with our big announcement. A series of blogs about expecting a baby, then finding out we were having a girl, and finally sharing the name we had picked for her remain the most read blogs in the history of this blog! The support from our friends and family has been SO amazing! Sharing stories of the baby shower and 3D ultrasound pics has been a thrill. We are closing in on the due date (February 16) and she can come anytime. The nursery is ready and so are we! We anxiously await her arrival and with it, I will have plenty of things to share with you about being a dad again!
As I said last year – Not so long ago, I was told my someone once close to me to stop writing. “Nobody wants to read about that crap! It is a waste of time. Stop trying to be creative. Nobody cares about what you like and don’t like!” If I have learned anything from Facebook and this blog, it is that people do care! People do like to read what I write! In the end, I don’t really write for others, I write for myself. The fact that other people read this blog and get some enjoyment out if it is a little bonus.
In future blogs, I will continue to write about things I love. I will write about things that people want to know about. I hope to do more Question and Answer blogs and I will continue to participate in Blogathons. I want to write about how Autism played a role on my life, which I never seemed to get around to last year. I also want to continue to write on movies and music. I will continue to write about things in my personal life (and how it is affected by the arrival of our beautiful daughter). I will continue to write – because I enjoy it. The minute this is no longer satisfying and I feel that I have written all I can write … I will stop. Until then, thank YOU for reading my “various ramblings”. I appreciate you!
One of my favorite places to hang out is the library. Last week, my oldest son asked if we could go there so he could look up some things for a homework project. While he was working on that, I naturally started browsing. I always start in the New Fiction/New Non-Fiction section. By doing this, I have stumbled onto some books that I may never have read (I love to do this at the book store, too!).
While looking at the new titles on the book spines, one jumped out at me – “Marley”. Two things come to mind when I hear “Marley”: (1) Marley and Me (the movie about a dog) and (2) Jacob Marley from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (which I just read for the holiday). I picked up the book and saw that surrounding the title were links of chains. Marley’s Ghost in Dickens’ story appears weighed down by chains.
As you can see by the cover, the book is indeed about Jacob Marley. I read that this author, Jon Clinch, also wrote a “back story” to Huckleberry Finn, which focused on Huck’s father. This backstory, gives new light to the story we all know so well. That is what this book does, as well. In Dickens’ tale, we don’t know much about Jacob Marley.
We know that he was Scrooge’s business partner and that he is forced to walk the earth bearing the chains he forged in life. But what led him to this fate? Why is Ebenezer Scrooge the way he is? This book tells us. I am only a few chapters in, but am enjoying it so far.
It’s been done before – many times
This is not a new concept. There have been many books, movies, and TV shows that explored how well known characters became the way they are. Fans of the TV show Taxi may remember a flashback scene where Reverend Jim was drug free! Jack Benny did many shows telling the story of how he met members of his cast. The TV show How I Met Your Mother used this entire premise for the entire series.
It is no secret that I am a HUGE fan of Mario Puzo’s The Godfather. I loved the book, and loved the movie trilogy. The novel was published in 1969, and the film was released in 1972.
Marlon Brando played Vito Corleone, the head of the Corleone Crime family.
Two years later, in 1974, The Godfather Part II was released in theaters. It consisted of flashbacks of how Vito became the Don. The role was played by Robert DeNiro.
But what about other characters? Ed Falco’s 2012 novel “The Family Corleone” tells us.
The book is based on an unproduced screenplay that Mario Puzo had written. It gives us a look at some of the minor characters, like Luca Brasi, and how they come to know the Don and how they join the family. A couple books that “fill in the gaps” between the Godfather movie trilogy came out in 2004 (The Godfather Returns) and 2006 (The Godfather’s Revenge) written by Mark Winegardener.
Good characters – Good Stories
When we come to love good characters, we tend to want to know more about them. We want to see them or read about them in another story or adventure. Perhaps that why there are so many books that feature a star character (like Alex Cross, or Cotton Malone) or movie sequels (like Star Wars, Harry Potter, or Toy Story). In the 60’s and 70’s, many TV shows had novels or short stories based on characters (like Get Smart, Kojak, Columbo, and countless Star Trek books).
I LOVE the concept of exploring a well known character and shedding light on their back story. I am hoping this book on Jacob Marley does not disappoint.
I guess I saw this on Facebook some time ago. Somebody had the idea to post a list of your favorite films. The list was to consist of your favorites from each year of your life. So, you start with your birth year and move ahead year by year and list all the films from each year. I am SURE I have this idea written down in my notebook of “blog ideas”. A post from the Avocado site came up in my “Reader” list of blogs that had the same principle, but with one exception – you can only pick one movie from each year. You can read that blog here:
I am going to say that narrowing down just one film from each year will be next to impossible for me. I am going to attempt to do it. I have a feeling that I will go back in a day, a month, or year from now and think, “No, I should have picked _____ instead!” At any rate, some of these will be easy to pick, and some I will have to “eenie meanie miney moe” to pick just one. Maybe this is a topic I revisit each year? I don’t know.
I am going to break it down by “decade”, so each post will include 10 films. Deep breath. Here we go – back to the year I was born:
Of the 1970 films that made my personal favorite list, many have “war” themes: M*A*S*H, Kelly’s Heroes, and Tora! Tora! Tora! Other films include Dean Martin in Airport! and the Mel Brooks comedy The 12 Chairs. Of all of the films from the year of my birth, if I had to pick my absolute favorite, it would be the classic biopic, Patton.
George C. Scott is brilliant as Patton! He won the Oscar for Best Actor for his role. The film won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. It’s an amazing film.
1971 was the year that George Lucas would release his film THX 1138, Gene Wilder starred in the classic Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and Clint Eastwood starred in the film that scares all radio DJs – Play Misty for Me. But it is another Clint Eastwood film that gets my vote for my favorite film of 1971, Dirty Harry.
There are so many good Clint Eastwood films! It doesn’t take long for Eastwood to establish what kind of character Dirty Harry is! Come on, you know the quote:
“I know what you’re thinking: “Did he fire six shots or only five?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?”
1972 was the year we saw Burt Reynolds in Deliverance, Charles Bronson in The Mechanic, and the all star cast of the Poseiden Adventure that included Gene Hackman, Shelley Winters, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons and others! It was also the year that introduced many to two of the best known adult films, Behind the Green Door and Deep Throat. 1972 is probably the easiest year to pick a hands down favorite for me – no doubt about it – Mario Puzo & Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather.
The novel is amazing. The movie is just as powerful! The cast (many unknown at the time) is just perfect! It is hard to imagine anyone else as these characters. Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Abe Vigoda, Richard Conte, Alex Rocco, and so many others star in this superb film about family and power. I don’t think a week goes by without me quoting this film! The film won the Best Picture Oscar and Brando won (and refused) the Oscar for Best Actor.
While 1973 had some good films, in going through my list, they all are just “ok” to me. In other words, there is no real “WOW” movie for me. Charlton Heston is good in Soylent Green, Al Pacino is good in Serpico, The Sting had Paul Newman and Robert Redford (and the tune The Entertainer), Clint Eastwood is back for a Dirty Harry sequel called Magnum Force, and then there was the Exorcist. I guess if I HAD to pick a favorite, it would be American Graffiti – because of two things (1) the music and (2) Wolfman Jack!
1974 was a bit more difficult to narrow down to just one film. The reason for this is that I have some classic favorites that were released in ’74 and “how do I just pick one?” Two of my favorite Charles Bronson films, Mr. Majestyk and Death Wish, came out this year. Also, two of my favorite Mel Brooks films were also released – Young Frankenstein (“That’s Frahn-kun-steen”) and Blazing Saddles! It did, however, become clear that the one film that had to be at the top for 1974 was The Godfather Part II.
The first time I saw it, I hated it! I can’t lie about that. I was confused by the shifts from past to present. However, it became very clear with a second and third watch that the shifting from past to present is what makes this movie SO amazing. If you really must see it all in order, you can rent the Godfather DVD and watch it chronologically. This movie is where you really see the genius of Francis Ford Coppola. Robert Deniro is just amazing as Vito and Al Pacino’s portrayal of Michael is about as perfect as it can get.
1975 was the year that had us doing the Time Warp, thanks to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. The Sunshine Boys was supposed to star Walter Matthau and Jack Benny (there are clips of screen test shots on YouTube somewhere), but when Benny died, George Burns stepped in. Jack Nicholson is “crazy” good in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Dean Martin starred in a forgotten favorite, Mr. Ricco. The one movie that really stands out for me from 1975 is based on the Peter Benchley novel – Jaws!
Like many, I couldn’t swim at the beach for some time after seeing it! Now, they actually show it on a screen while people float in rafts and tubes on a lake in the summer time! And who can forget the Jaws theme?
In 1976, America celebrated it’s bicentennial year. It was a very patriotic year and there were some good films in theaters. The Watergate Scandal was the focus of All The President’s Men. Clint Eastwood returned in another Dirty Harry sequel, The Enforcer and the western The Outlaw Josey Wales. The wonderful Barbara Harris was featured in both Freaky Friday and Hitchcock’s Family Plot (two very opposite roles!). Mel Brooks offered up Silent Movie, while an all-star cast (Charlton Heston, Robert Mitchum, Glenn Ford, Henry Fonda, James Coburn, and Cliff Robertson) appeared in the war film, Midway. We were first introduced to Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa in Rocky and Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor were first teamed together in Silver Streak. There are many reasons I could pick any one of these as a favorite, but I am going to go with one I already featured as my favorite – Murder By Death. You can read that blog here:
1977 was a year of great films! There was Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. Then George Burns first took on the role of God in Oh, God. John Travolta danced to the Bee Gees in Saturday Night Fever. We were introduced to the comedy of the Zucker brothers with Kentucky Fried Movie. Mel Brooks saluted Alfred Hitchcock in High Anxiety. The “other” space movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, hit theaters, too. From here, I was able to narrow things down to two faves, but as I said, I can only pick one for the year. While Star Wars could easily be the top pick for 1977, I am going with Smokey and the Bandit.
Burt Reynolds, Jerry Reed, Sally Field, and Jackie Gleason took us on a wild ride and this remains my favorite for a number of reasons. First, it’s just funny. Second, there are some very cool stunts. Third, “East Bound and Down”. Last, there are so many great quotes!
Smokey JUST beats out Star Wars, probably because it’s a comedy. Don’t get me wrong, Star Wars is a CLASSIC, and at some point I really need to blog about the influence of that film on me as a 7 year old kid!
In 1978, we first meet Michael Myers in John Carpenter’s Halloween. Peter Falk appears in the “sorta” sequel to Murder By Death in The Cheap Detective. Robert Deniro and Christopher Walken star in The Deer Hunter. Cheech and Chong go Up in Smoke. Christopher Reeve first donned the cape in Superman. Burt Reynolds starred as a stuntman in Hooper and tried to kill himself in The End. We got chills that multiplied as we sang along with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in Grease. I’m honored to have Eddie Deezen (who plays Eugene in the film) as a friend on Facebook and he often shares cool stories about the film. Time to pick my favorite from 1978. It is yet another very quotable movie – a comedy – National Lampoon’s Animal House.
Kent Dorfman. Flounder. Pinto. Bluto. D-Day. Otter. Animal House remains as funny to me today, as the first time I saw it. John Belushi is just awesome in this film. I have said before that Belushi can emote more with just his eyebrows than any other actor. I also love John Vernon as Dean Wormer – he is such a great actor! It’s amazing that “Shout” from Otis Day and the Knights is still requested at weddings 40+ years later. One of my most quoted movies!
“Zero. Point. Zero.”
Closing out the decade, I see my list of favorites for each year growing more and more. In 1979, Sigourney Weaver appeared in the first (of many) Alien films. George Hamilton’s comedic take on Dracula was in Love at First Bite. Sylvester Stallone appeared for his second “round” as Rocky in Rocky II. Star Trek became relevant again, as it appeared on the big screen for the first time (with the original cast members) with Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Steve Martin brought The Jerk to life. Alan Arkin and Peter Falk are great together in The In-Laws. Robert Stack, Eddie Deezen, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and so many others appeared in 1941 (It didn’t do all that well at the box office, but I still love this silly film). To me, my favorite of 1979 goes to the genius of Jim Henson – The Muppet Movie. I STILL marvel at this one!
This was such a breakthrough film. For the first time we saw Muppets walking! We saw them riding bikes! The technological stuff that was achieved in this movie is still awesome to me. This movie had tons of big cameos (including Edgar Bergan’s last film role) and just wonderful music. I blogged about the music previously and you can read that here: