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Showing posts from June, 2012

I'll Have What She Had

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The trick to Nora Ephron's work was that it was written from a woman's perspective but it didn't make fools of the men.

Ephron, the screenwriter/director/producer who passed away on Tuesday (age 71) after a bout with leukemia, wrote some of the best romantic comedies of her generation. She wrote them as a woman, for women, but the male characters were some of the best on screen as well.

An Ephron film, at its best, drew gobs of men to the theater, and not just as polite dates.

But for all of Ephron's notoriety as a master of the rom-com, it was a decidedly different type of story that opened up doors for her.

That would be Silkwood (1983), the adaptation of the true story of Karen Silkwood, the whistle-blowing worker for a plutonium plant who died in a mysterious car accident. Ephron wrote the screenplay and turned the directing over to no less than Mike Nichols. A writer could do worse.

After the success of Silkwood, things got less serious and more funny in Ephron&#…

Water Boy

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It's said that, ideally, you'd take your weight, cut it in half, and the resulting number is how many ounces of water you should drink per day.

I'm secure enough to tell you that my number is approximately 100.

I'm not afraid to indirectly tell you my weight, because for the past several months, water has been my beverage of choice, by far.

I have a 20-oz plastic tumbler that has been seemingly attached to my left hand with invisible string, always filled with ice and frequently being drained of its clear H20.

I like Aquafina when it comes to bottled water, but I can subsist on tap water, too. I don't know how many times a day I am drawing more water into the tumbler from the refrigerator dispenser, but it's enough to give my thumb a nice workout.

At work, we have an unending supply of bottled water (Ice Mountain, but it's fine), and I kill about two of those 16.9-oz bottles per day. So that's 34 ounces right there, plus all the tumblers during the even…

The Hurry-Up Artist

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The world according to LeRoy Neiman could be captured very efficiently.

The painting artist Neiman, famous for his bushy handlebar mustache and his ability to create art on the fly, died Wednesday in New York at age 91.

Neiman painted people in action; Neiman's art was what the world would look like if a still camera could snap impressionism.

There was no such thing as a Neiman "still life." He painted people doing something---playing poker, boxing each other, engaging on the gridiron. And he did it rapidly.

It wasn't unusual for the TV networks to commission Neiman, especially during Super Bowls, to produce "on the spot" works---the prior action as Neiman saw it. Then the cameras would show Neiman at work, producing yet another work of color, ambience and activity.

Neiman painted life like a photographer shot it, but with the editorializing that the painter gets to do, that the photographer can't. Neiman's works had the ability to capture the human…

What's So "Real," Anyway?

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I think the problem I have with "reality TV" is that the producers/networks and I have drastic differences of opinion as to what constitutes "reality."

To me, reality isn't following the life of a B-list celebrity who is clearly signing on for the show because he/she can't get a job in the business anymore.

To me, reality isn't watching a guy (or girl) trying to find love in a forced environment that is about as unnatural and unconducive to finding love as you can get.

To me, reality isn't the exploits of people who do very unusual things to make their bucks, i.e. the pawn shop people, the tattoo people and the storage people.

No.

Reality, to me, is the single mom who is trying to decide whether to pay the light bill or buy food for her babies.

Reality, to me, is the caregiver of an elderly, infirm, or terminally ill family member, and all the emotions and angst that go with such an arduous task.

Reality,to me, is the challenged high school student …

Flag on the Play!

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It was a ritual I remember pretty clearly, though I took part in it some 37 years ago.

I was an 11-year-old safety boy---remember those?---and part of my duty included taking care of the school's U.S. flag.

And I do mean "taking care of."

I remember that there was much reverence, as much as a youngster can show, every time a partner and I lowered, folded, unfolded and raised Old Glory.

Every morning I was part of the tandem that was responsible for getting the flag up the pole before the school day. Sometimes I was part of the pair who lowered it at the end of the day and folded it, properly.

In both instances, the flag was sacred. I remember being told to don't dare allow the flag to touch the ground, even for a second. And it had to be folded a particular way---a  way that I really didn't understand because it seemed clunky, but I did it. Because that's how I was taught.

As I grew older, I learned of other unwritten---and written---rules of how the U.S. fla…

Bacon---The OTHER Dessert

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Burger King knows America all too well.

When in doubt, offer us bacon.

Despite all the saber rattling about eating healthier in this country, the struggling hamburger chain is turning to bacon---fat, salty, calorie-filled bacon---to attract customers this summer.

But here's the best part: the bacon is being sprinkled and laid on...an ice cream sundae.

You heard me.

The salty-sweet dessert clocks in at 510 calories, 18 grams of fat and 61 grams of sugar.
So what does a bacon sundae consist of? Vanilla soft serve with fudge, caramel, bacon crumbles and a piece of bacon.

It was the comedian Jim Gaffigan who said that "EVERYTHING tastes better with bacon. Foods wrap themselves with bacon in order to taste better."

But this is a little ridiculous, don't you think?

No. 2 BK has been scuffling, trying to keep up with No. 1 McDonald's for quite some time. Burger King's menu items just haven't landed as well as they would have liked.

So now they turn to bacon, tha…

2012's Suicide Watch

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Seems that 2012 has turned into the year of the suicide.

It's claimed the lives of former athletes, celebrities and even children this year---and at a rate that feels higher than normal.

The latest victim is Bob Welch, former guitarist, singer and one of the founding members of Fleetwood Mac. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest yesterday.

Welch was 65 and apparently had a back injury that wasn't getting better and might have left him in an invalid state. A suicide note was apparently found at the scene. Welch's wife discovered his body, poor woman.

I'm not just saying this now in the wake of the news, but Welch's solo hit, "Sentimental Lady" (1977) remains one of my favorite tunes and one that I turn up really loud whenever I catch it on the radio, which isn't so much anymore, though I suspect over the next few days my chances of hearing it have increased.

What I didn't know was that when Fleetwood Mac was inducted into the Rock…

Signs of the Times

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Ever wonder what happened to Winkelman's? Jacobson's? Uniroyal?

What about Farmer Jack? Great Scott? A&P?

Stroh's? Twin Pines? Pants Galore?

Fretter Appliance? Belvedere and Bond-Bilt? New York Carpet World?

Highland Appliance? Sanders? Kresge?

Cunningham's? Red Barn? Burger Chef?

To name a few.

And that's just a percentage of the businesses, mostly local, that no longer exist but which I remember in my days growing up in Livonia in the 1970s.

I remember the commercials for many of the aforementioned as well.

Ollie Fretter promised us a five pound bag of coffee if he couldn't beat our best deal. Mr. Belvedere's phone number was TYler 8-7100.

TV newscaster Marilyn Turner did commercials for Carpet Center, flashing her gams. The Highland Appliance spots were legendary, often featuring local (and sometimes national) celebrities.

Irving Nussbaum proudly said that New York Carpet World was "the better carpet people."

Mel Farr flew through the sky …

Hero Turned Kissing Bandit

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I know I'm in the minority, but when I think of Richard Dawson, the scrapbook in my head calls up images from his days as Corporal Peter Newkirk in the hit show "Hogan's Heroes."

That's not normal, I know. Most people remember Dawson, who died yesterday at age 72 from complications of esophageal cancer, as the cheery, kissy-face host of the game show, "The Family Feud."

But "Heroes" was one of my favorite shows growing up. I loved the theme song, the opening credits, and the fact that it aired on Friday nights. As a kid, anything associated with Friday was a good thing.

And I liked Dawson as Cpl. Newkirk, who was the sheister among Hogan's "heroes." Dawson's character picked locks, lifted wallets, practiced sleight of hand and was the group's bookie, among other nefarious things.

Dawson was a Brit, the son of an American mother and a British father. His birth name was Colin Lionel Emm. He ran away from home at age 14 to j…