Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Admirable Thrift

One grows sad and weary, hearing about football players and other athletes who earn big money, huge money, all right...
YUUUUUGE money, for two or three years toting a football or hitting a baseball and then, a torn ACL or two and they are out of the game, and their earning power is significantly diminished.

You can't pick up the newspaper without reading about some erstwhile "superstar" who is now selling his Super Bowl ring or working night crew at the BuySumMor to feed his family.

And where did all the money go?  Good heavens, ask M.C. Hammer, who had one hit record in his short career, and the next thing you know he's buying mansions and racehorses and stables, and for all I know now, he's working at a racetrack.  Athletes, too, go through the money like salt pork through a goose, and then, they often find themselves in bankruptcy court at age 26.

So it's good to hear that Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has played in the NFL for 9 seasons and has earned $49.7 million  - and he says he's got it all in the bank! 

On the "The Ian & Puck Show" on KJR Radio in Seattle, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network said that there is talk that Lynch might retire now...and that he can afford to do so because he "has a lot of money.He hasn't spent a dime of his actual playing money ... ever."

The word among the advertising people is that Lynch has made around $5 million a year off endorsements for firms such as Nike, Pepsi, Skittles, Progressive, and Activision, according to Forbes.

You and I could do well on five million a year, especially if we clip coupons and use my senior discount at KFC.

Lynch was drafted in 2007 and made $19 million for five years with the Buffalo Bills, before being traded to Seattle and signing a $30 million deal.  He earned $12 million for 2015, and is not expected to return for the second year of the deal, on the grounds that at age 29, he is set for life.

Imagine. All that money AND he won't have to wear that hideous Seattle uniform any longer.  Pretty sweet deal.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Born to Hand Jive

Last week's live production of "Grease" brought renewed attention to one of the finest dances we ever stole got from England...the amazingly fun Hand Jive!

There wasn't enough room for dancing in the London coffee bar called "The Cat's Whisker" in 1957.  Ken Russell - then a photographer, later a filmmaker ("Women in Love," "Tommy," "Altered States") got pictures of the teenagers doing the "steps," as it were, to dances with just their hands. Russell found the whole thing so enjoyable that he wound up joining in.

"The place was crowded with young kids... the atmosphere was very jolly. Wholesome... everyone jiving with their hands because there was precious little room to do it with their feet... a bizarre sight."

You know that Irish-style step dancing that Michael Flatley and others do so well was developed so that people could dance in their homes without worrying about the parish priest walking by and seeing them flailing about in the throes of dance fever.  From the waist up, which is all one could see through the living room window, there was no hint that the legs below were shakin' all over.

And the Hand Jive dance came to America in the late 1950s, which was handy (!) because so did a hit record "Willie and the Hand Jive" by Johnny Otis, a song that featured that "shave-and-a-haircut two-bits" tempo that was actually the featured rhythm for Bo Diddley's songs.

Trivia lovers will note that Johnny Otis, born Ioannis Alexandres Veliotes, is the father of Shuggie Otis, who gave us "Strawberry Letter #23, and I suppose one could Hand Jive to that song if one were not so busy trying to figure out what it's all about!

There are three ways to learn to do the Hand Jive,  One of them is to ask me, quite possibly the worst dancer since Elaine Benes, or you can read these instructions...

  • Slap your thighs twice with the flats of your hands.
  • Clap your hands together twice.
  • Turning your palms parallel to the floor, move one hand over the other, then apart, then over again, keeping about three inches between your hands. Then reverse, putting the other hand on top, again with two beats back and forth.
  • Finally, make a fist with one hand leaving your thumb sticking out, and rotate your hand out twice, as if motioning with your thumb for someone to "Get outta here!". Do the same thing with your other hand, and you've completed one full iteration of the "hand jive." Repeat as long as the song continues.
OR you can watch this video and learn it from the charming cast of "Grease Live."  

Now you can Hand Jive, baby!  Oh yeah!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sunday Rerun: Some more of the Dharma

Let's say you are kidnapped, hogtied and dragged from your office or the deep fryer where you work and taken hostage by Venezuelan nationals bent on avenging some slight or another.

For days you remain tied up in Caracas, subsisting on leftovers from a Subway located in the hotel where your captors have set up a command post to further their cause of prolonging the Bolivarian Revolution.  At length you are untied and paraded through the streets as fiery locals call you unkind names and toss burros at you as they ride their colorful burritos.  Or the other way around.

You are brought before the Queen of the Revolution, Her Majesty, the leader of the Puppet Government, Mary Annette.

"Silence, Insect!" she commands, as you cower and beg for mercy.

Mimi Kennedy
"At the stroke of 11 this morning, you shall be defenestrated if you cannot answer the following question:  Which cast member of 'Dharma and Greg' suggested a song topic to Jim Steinman, which led to Steinman writing Meat Loaf's biggest hit ever, based on an Elvis Presley song?"

That's when you say, "Mary Annette, stop pulling my string. The answer is Mimi Kennedy, who played Dharma's mom Abby, who was in a musical with Steinman. Steinman was complaining that he couldn't make progress as a songwriter, and she told him that his songs were too complicated, and advised him to write something a little easier to comprehend. And while she was saying that, someone had an oldies station on the radio, and 'I Want You, I Need You, I Love You' was playing, and Steinman started to sing along but then put his own twist on the song.  In his take, the guy wants and needs the girl, but there ain't no way he's ever gonna love her...but two out of three ain't bad, right?"

Steinman finished the song, Meat Loaf cut it for his first album in 1977, "Bat Out Of Hell," and now you can tell Queen Mary Annette that you do not a) want her, b) need her or c) love her.

She will understand. You might as well go back to work tomorrow. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Saturday Picture Show, February 6, 2016

If you can't get what's funny about this mail truck, perhaps it would be funnier painted in a Tutone color scheme.  Or, call your friend Jenny and ask her...you've got her number on the wall.
It started with girls wearing their hair in pigtails, and now this...
This mansion in Lithuania shows all homeowners everywhere the importance of keeping up with those pesky maintenance chores. Some storm windows and vinyl siding would have gone a long way...
I used to work near St Dominic's School, and I would see the young girls on Harford Rd, waiting for the bus on cold mornings with jeans on under their uniform skirts.  From then until now, I haven't seen anyone else use Levi's as an undergarment.
What kind of person is it who decides "It's a lovely day for a picnic, a chance to dine alfresco and enjoy nature," and then leaves their trash behind? Maybe that bottled water made them wanna go wee wee real fast and they forgot to return.  Or maybe they're oafs.
"Try our new Tuna Ring some supper soon."  Who writes like that?  Who eats like that?
This is Buddy Holly's Gibson guitar, which he covered by himself with hand-tooled leather.  He wrote his classic songs on this guitar, and of course,
he passed away this past week in 1959.
I should always remember always to leave them laughing!  At least, I thought this was funny!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Advice from Richard Gere

Richard Gere makes a lot of sense to me, in many ways.  This is from the Richard Gere Online Facebook page...

"My friend's mom has eaten healthy all her life. Never ever consumed alcohol or any "bad" food, exercised every day, very limber, very active, took all supplements suggested by her doctor, never went in the sun without sunscreen and when she did it was for as short a period as possible- so pretty much she protected her health with the utmost that anyone could. She is now 76 and has skin cancer, bone marrow cancer and extreme osteoporosis.
My friend's father eats bacon on top of bacon, butter on top of butter, fat on top of fat, never and I mean never exercised, was out in the sun burnt to a crisp every summer, he basically took the approach to live life to his fullest and not as others suggest. He is 81 and the doctors says his health is that of a young person.
People you cannot hide from your poison. It's out there and it will find you so in the words of my friend's still living mother: " if I would have known my life would end this way I would have lived it more to the fullest enjoying everything I was told not to!"
None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an afterthought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else."

Mmmmmmmmmm Bacon!
I remember shortly after John Lennon was gunned down, his widow, Yoko Ono, said that she and John had been trying to eat very healthy food so as to foster a long life, and that after John's murder, she told her son Sean, "Eat what you want...it doesn't matter."

And of course, I am one who often repeats the fact that Jim Fixx, a healthy man who wrote "The Complete Book of Running," died of a severe, sudden heart attack after his daily jog in 1984, which meant that he did not live long enough to read about how Keith Richards mixed his father's ashes with cocaine and snorted them.

Before we focus on the dietary advice above...and no, I am not recommending that we all begin eating duck fat wedged into Krispy Kreme donuts...let's also pay attention to the part about jumping into the ocean and walking in the sunshine and saying your truth.  

I have not died yet, but I have lost people I love, and the signals I get from them above are unmistakable.  You'll regret the things you didn't do much more than those you did.  It doesn't cost you a nickel to tell someone they look nice today, and who knows?  It might be the first time they've heard it today!

Meanwhile, who wants some bacon?! 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Happy birthday, Peggy!

Falling in love with Peggy was easy for me, but I hear all the time about people who have trouble staying in love. It only took me about 3 seconds to figure out why I stay in love with my wife of almost 43 years. It's the same reason we keep tuning in to see what Victor and Nikki are up to, or why we look forward to the next John Grisham novel (I guess some people do) or the release of the 2017 Buicks or what's next on McDonald's Dollar Menu.

It's because Peggy is this marvelous flower who blooms in another way every time I see her!  When we met, she was shy and quiet and mainly kept to herself, but over the years, she has evinced interests in music, art, reading, philosophy, faith, self-improvement, and home decor.  She reads, she journals, she takes art classes, she does things around the house, she keeps up with friends old and new, and I sit here watching YouTube videos of iceskating dinosaurs.

I'll show you how classy people think Peggy is, and with good reason:  I came to work one day telling a friend that Peggy had so enjoyed the great film masterpiece "Ernest Goes To Jail" - especially the part where Ernest thoughtfully bites into his pen - and then, my co-worker insisted that I give her Peggy's phone number so she could verify that a woman so cultured would enjoy anything so lowbrow.  You know, like stuff I like.

So today, as Peggy turns __ ___ years of age (sorry, but the numbers on my keypad won't work right today) I send her my love and best wishes, with my thanks for being the book I love to read every day, because who knows what the next page will bring?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Let's Go On With the Show

Vanessa and her father 
I'm not the sort who goes crazy for Broadway musicals.  

I fell asleep in the mighty Majestic Theater as the candelabra plummeted earthward in "Phantom Of The Opera."  For real.  

I do love "The Music Man," about a flamboyant huckster who goes to Iowa and sells the local rubes a bill of goods, based on false hope in empty promises.

But that couldn't happen again, right?

And I love "Grease."  We saw it in the movies when it came out in '78 and we must have seen it a hundred times on VHS and DVD. Even went to the movies again to see a 20th Anniversary re-release in '98.  I have the soundtrack on LP, cassette, CD and mp3. There's not a song from that show that I can't sing in my car...oh those summer nights!

So I was pleased to see the live performance on FOX the other night.  "Grease Live" was everything I could have hoped for, and as it came on, I was glad it was on the DVR so we can watch it over and over (until the DVD comes out!)

I saw online, as the show came on, that Vanessa Hudgens had lost her father late on Saturday night just before she went on live as Rizzo on Sunday.  He had been ill with cancer for a while, but I can tell you, even though the death of a parent seems imminent for some months, it still hits hard when it happens.  

But, in the finest showbiz tradition, Vanessa went on live tv right after losing her dad, and she killed it.  She knocked that role into the next county, first tweeting that she was doing the show in his honor.  Here she is with the showstopper "There Are Worse Things I Could Do." 

There's an old song by Irving Berlin, sung by Ethel Merman in "Annie Get Your Gun," about show business...

There's no business like show business like no business I know
You get word before the show has started
that your favorite uncle died at dawn
Top of that, your pa and ma have parted,
you're broken-hearted, but you go on...
It's corny and old-fashioned, and I'm not saying that you should still go to work rounding up carts at the Try 'N' Save hours after you lose a parent, but this aspect of show business is worthy of note. Surely Vanessa Hudgens had a million things on her mind when she started dancing around those stages on Sunday evening, but those million things allowed her to focus on the thing that mattered at show time: doing her best to entertain.