DelBloggolo

Sunday, April 30, 2006

OUR LADY OF LORDS

When I was growing up in Brooklyn, my parents must have been angry at us kids because they sent us to a reform school called Our Lady of Lourdes, for a good Catholic education. Both my sisters went along with me, but I think it was my Mother’s way of getting even with us for all the aggravation we caused.

The school was run buy former members of the Third Reich, and continued their practices right out of Nazi Germany. There was the daily accounting of all prisoners on the stalag “School yard” where we were lined up and marched in groups to our different “classrooms”, where attendance was retaken again incase one of us might have made a break for it. On Sunday, we were expected to report to church at the 9:00 a.m. Mass, where we were to sit with our fellow classmates. After Mass we were required to report to our classrooms once again, and attendance was taken. The only day attendance wasn’t taken was Saturdays, where we were to go to confession, and give the priest all the sordid details of our private lives. God help anyone who didn’t go to communion.

A line in the cement that divided the grounds of the schoolyard separated the boys from the girls. Our job was to do your homework, remember your catechism, and stay on your side of the line.

The “nuns” were former Nazis who by way of Brazil found their way to Brooklyn and assumed new identities. There was Sister Mary Himmler, Sister Mary Eichman, Sister Mary Goebels and the like, all proud former members of the SS.

In first grade I was arrested on trumped up charges of talking in the classroom, and thrown into the cooler for half a morning. The cooler was built to look like a walk in coat closet with a door on either end, and a long shelf that contained reams of paper. Once the doors were closed on me, it took a while for my eyes to adjust. Once they did, I discovered the reams of paper and opened one of them, and removed a hand full of paper.
Meticulously I balled up a sheet of paper and stuck it in all the pockets of all the coats but mine. About 2 minutes before the lunch bell, I was escorted to my desk. The bell rang, and we all in an orderly fashion marched to the cooler to go home for lunch. How proud I was to see the puzzled look on the innocent faces of my classmates, as they stuck their little hands into their pockets, and pulled out wads of paper.

Friday, April 28, 2006

ONCE THEY PLAYED OUR MUSIC

Often I go through a publication called “DMNews” a newspaper of direct, database and internet marketing. One of the features I read is the “Agency Beat” to see if there is anyone I know on the rise. It struck me that there isn’t, and hasn’t been for a while. It makes me realize that perhaps the industry is starting to pass me by.

I remember when the orchestra played to my and my colleague’s dance steps, for as long as we liked. I remember the exuberance of new and exciting careers, bounded only by our imagination and luck. I recall all the “old-timers” and young “mavericks,” and thinking “they were my competition.”

Going back over the years, the excitement of seeing my work in public places, in mailboxes, and on TV got my blood stewing to do more. Being impressed by who I met and who I broke bread with gave me the excitement that spiced my career. Even some of the less favorable characters added spice to my life. Riding the Long Island Rail Road after a long day, or the Long Island Expressway on the way home from work, churning over the days events, thinking of new ideas, and sharing them with my poor wife who had to listen to me every night. Looking back, I recall all the major corporations I worked for: Ford, GE, Time, NFL Enterprises, American Airlines etc. makes me kind of proud. Proud too, that I introduced my son to the industry, where he went on to do his own thing, appreciating the art of ideas and communication.

I can really say that I am happy with what I have achieved, I even have an idea patented with the US patent office through my very first company – Lawrence G. Chait and Company for a catalog-ordering device I came up with.

One of the things that stand out in my mind is my first job. I was working for Lawrence G. Chait and Company as a “Graphic Designer”, with the hopes of becoming an “Art Director.” I was on the top floor of a NYC skyscraper on Manhattan Island, in a corner office, my desk overlooking both into the Bronx and west toward New Jersey. I was very excited to be there, and all I could hear was a popular song that went “If my friends could see me now, that old gang of mine, eating fancy foods and drinking fancy wines.” It was my first day on the job, and my boss, Jack Stern had taken me to a very nice French restaurant to celebrate my arrival.

Having a good life is all one should ask for, hope for a great life, and live the best life possible. I am lucky in many ways: I found a great wife, have great kids, and love them all. I was blessed with great sisters, and some really great in-laws, both my wife’s family and whom they married, and those who married my sisters. I have had some tragedy, but there are many triumphs too.

Soon it will be time too shut the lights, and close the door to my career, I will lose a little of who I am, and I will have to find new ways too express myself. I hope to contribute to the world on a little higher plain. I want to be remembered for just one thing, that I contributed something, and maybe someday I’ll find that I did.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

TONIGHT WE’RE HAVING CONVERSATION FOR DINNER

Every night I come home from work and my wife and I sit with a drink, and then have dinner. She usually asks me how my day was, and I ask her the same. Recently I have been learning the banking business from the little woman inside and out. I discovered through the art of conversation the various names and numbers of banking forms that will probably be put to good use some day. The L50 is my favorite.

What else is there to learn? There is a huge cast of characters, that I have grown too know and love. All are very unique, and make for interesting conversation. Some of these characters have moved on to other things, but their names still evoke certain attitudes and norms. For instance there is “Ron”, a guy who could forget the day of the week with someone pointing to it. If you make a dumb mistake, you pulled a “Ron.”

Through the course of the years gone by I too have had my fill of characters. There was: Sam Schwartz, an elderly crotchety old studio manager, who had a nice Jewish lexicon for me to appreciate, and at times use. There was Frankie, the assistant studio manager, who loved to drink, eat and be merry. He was in charge of two other characters that were even more interesting then the other. There was Bob, a tall fellow, about 6” plus with a very Jewish motherly attitude, and some of the funniest stories, and statements or observations I ever heard. His job was envelopes. All he did all day was mechanicals for envelopes. Assisting Bob with the workload was Joel or “Toulouse” who got his name from Sam, not because of his artistic skill, but because of his height. Joel weighted about 100 pounds, in the dead of winter with boots, scarves, gloves and heavy coat. Joel’s job was handwriting, mechanical art and criticism of anything and anyone. “Schotze? What kind of name is Schotze?” Bob used to say that Toulouse died, but forgot to lie down. Well, two have retired, and two have died, leaving me with something to remember. Which gets me to my point. There are many people that cross our paths, and in the course of a lifetime, we really don’t appreciate them until they are gone, or somehow leave the scene. Even the most boring or troubling life is enriched not by success, but life itself, and those who populate it.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

FUNCTIONS, A DYSFUNCTIONAL PART OF MY LIFE

I have been to more functions than I care to remember. Having to attend these events cause me a lot of anguish and despair. Functions are not unlike my typing skills, in that I go through it, and look for my mistakes. There should be a spell check at functions. Recently I attended one where there were about 250 people. We all arrive and get the silly little name tags, where you write your name, then what you do. “Joseph Del Broccolo – Board Member.” It should really read “Joseph Del Broccolo – Bored Member.” Of course mine NEVER sticks to my jacket, but wouldn’t you know it, some sob has his on all through the party.

One of the challenges of functions be it a wedding, a retirement party, or some awards ceremony is the dreaded cocktail hour. First thing any sane person does when they arrive at one of these things is to head for the bar. Getting a drink helps you to cope with the small talk you will have to endure, and the fact that some hot shot 18 year –old who is 7 feet tall has just parked your car. Once you have your drink, and fume because you have to feed the kitty every time you get one is you now must stand around, to either seek out someone you may or may not like, and think about what you can talk about.

My luck is I always find someone I don’t feel comfortable with and feel obligated to talk to. Generally they are people who have a lot of money, who could buy you and the building with all the cars parked there, or they have a very high position in life where you know you just don’t want to be talking to them. The conversation usually ends with you staring to one side, and they to the other.

Now comes the waiter or waitress with the little pigs in the blanket, the scallops wrapped in bacon, or worst still, the awful baked stuffed clams. I am usually holding a drink, when this happens, now I must select something because if I don’t I will faint. I select, and now for good etiquette, I need a napkin! I am juggling the toothpick with the little morsel in one hand, and a drink in the other - one more hand for the napkin please. The waiter waits for me to drop something.

Somehow I have all the equipment I need to continue. One drink, (Jack Daniels Manhattan) one finger food, a scallop in bacon (because it is unhealthy) and one napkin, (because I am a slob, people are watching, and it’s the correct thing to hold.)

They opened up the buffet table!!!!!

Yes, they have – and what does that mean? Well you can say that it means more food, or you can say that it offers more of a chance for embarrassment. I like to say both. Because now I introduce into my act, the plate! Yes, now I have a drink, (probably my second), a napkin, a plate, and of course a fork. Plus I have a few toothpicks in my hand or pocket that I will probably forget about until the next function. As I try to balance everything and take a bite, the whole place stops what they are doing, and watches me to see how much I will spill on my tie, my jacket, my shirt, and how much I will leave on my chin. If the little woman is not with me, her sensors have gone up, because of the scallops with bacon or whatever is on my plate that I’m not suppose to eat. Oh, by the way, if you are eating broccoli with tomatoes or cucumbers with some other healthiness on your plate, please go eat it in the corner somewhere, so I don’t feel guilty.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

MY MAN BILL,

I have a neighbor, and his name is Bill. Why do I tell you this? Bill is more than just a neighbor. Bill is just a genuine guy, very real, quick to help a neighbor, and a great role model for kids, and his next-door neighbor. When I see Bill, I feel good knowing he is next door, that I can trust him, and I hope that he can trust me.

Bill has a wonderful family, with a beautiful wife, and two beautiful children. His son is now as tall as a skyscraper, respectful, and will probably be like his Dad. I hope so, because he has a chance to be liked by all. Bill has a beautiful little girl, who is cute as a button, and charming. And Bill’s wife is a very generous and sweet lady, who sends over cookies that she’s made at Christmas time, for all the neighbors.

The first time I met Bill, it was a Saturday or Sunday afternoon in late fall. I can’t tell you how many years ago, but it was many. He looked like Saint Christopher, with his son William who was wearing a Mets cap, on his shoulders, and with a beard covering his face, as he knocked on the fence door to my back yard. My yard was full of leaves, as I was raking them, in the cold and damp darkening afternoon about 4: 30 pm. He and I have this running joke in the winter as I shovel snow. He says “it never ends,” and I say, “at least it isn’t leaves, they don’t melt”.

If I’m working outside, and he sees me, he comes over to offer a tool that he owns, and that will make my life easier. Now Bill takes pride in his tools, he has one for all occasions, go over ask, and before you end your sentence, he has a tool out for you to borrow. Now in the winter, Bill treated himself to a large snow blower, the kind that would clear a runway at an airport. He does his walkway and driveway, then comes over and does mine and some of the neighbors. If I were to sell my house, which I would never do, Bill would be listed along with all the other things I would consider as assets to selling the place.

Thanks Bill, You’re the best.

MY FRIEND BRUCE

Bruce was a very talented art director/artist that loved to draw from memory, not models. If you know anything about drawing, you know how difficult it can be. I hired Bruce out of Doubleday on the recommendation of my old boss. I had the option of not hiring him, and was told so. I interviewed Bruce and found he had nothing in his portfolio except drawings and soap sculptures. But he had been in the direct mail business for quite a while, so I took the chance. Needless to say it all worked out.

Bruce and I would attend meetings together, and he would sit staring at his pad of paper, noodling. He would break out in laughter if something were said that was funny. You knew he was paying attention. His drawings were either of some sexy looking creature, or the current situation. This went on at lunch also. Every Monday and Friday afternoon, we along with a few other regulars would all go to a restaurant called “Pastabilities,” or “The Clubhouse.” Bruce would immediately turn over his paper placemat and start drawing.

Bruce had other “Talents” such as talking really dirty to a woman, sometimes the boss’ wife, in a sexually explicit way, getting drunk, and speaking Italian, and most of all, hating anything Canadian. It seems his father-in-law a widower remarried a Canadian woman. When the old man died, his second wife inherited all the money the old man had, yet told Bruce he was in the will and would be receiving an inheritance. Bruce was all excited, only to receive in the mail, a ring that may or may not be worth as much as $200!

To cheer up Bruce, who always had a perpetual sad face, kind of like a hound dog’s, but one that smoked 2 packs a day, I arranged for a surprise birthday party at Pastabilities on his birthday one November day. I organized all the regulars, plus some, and created about 2-dozen Canadian flags, and printed 2-dozen versions of “Oh Canada” the Canadian National Anthem. When he showed up, we all waved our little Canadian flags and sang out loud and clear.

Unfortunately, or maybe not, Bruce introduced me to Jack Daniel Manhattans, which has become the drink of preference.

Bruce passed on about 4 years ago, and I miss him. I used to go over to his house to set up his computer, install software, modems, and printers. We would go out to dinner with our wives on occasions, and when we did, we would be laughing until we cried. We once went to an off Broadway play of South Pacific. The scene is where the Hero is being chased by a group of girls, and the lead girl catches up to him. He is about to ask her a question. The girl is alone on stage as she gets away from the group of girls at this point. All the girls in the off Broadway cast were overweight. I whispered to Bruce as the hero was about to speak, “Where is the rest of the herd?” Bruce laughed from that moment on, through the entire play, including intermission, and all through dinner. I had never in all my life seen such a case of the giggles. Of course the little woman didn’t think it was so funny, but hey, I was enjoying myself like a child.

Then one day, Bruce’s wife Gerri came down with cancer. Bruce started doing housework, and taking care of medical referrals and things he never did before like shopping and cooking. Gerri was fighting it and winning so it seemed. Bruce would joke that she was doing good, “but she just won’t die!”

Bruce had just started to fulfill his life long dream of designing his very own log cabin house in North Carolina. He had all the materials set and on the property he bought, when Gerri got ill, so he had to put off his plans. Then Bruce got the news that he was sick with cancer. Mouth cancer, from years and years of smoking and drinking, it finally caught up with him. Gerri seemed to get better, so Bruce decided to build his dream. He had the house completed in March, while he was on his deathbed. He hired an ambulance and was driven to JFK airport in early May, flew down to North Carolina in a hospital bed or gurney, and with the help of some friends down there, moved into his dream home, and a few days later was dead.

Gerri died not long after and they held a memorial service in Sayville where their ashes sat in urns, Gerri and Bruce.

I saw Bruce a few weeks before he died. He had not seen one friend from NY, except for me. We reminisced about old times and I knew it was the final goodbye. As I drove home I did some thinking about Bruce and decided to write him a letter. In the letter I told him that I would miss him, thanked him for being a friend and that every time I lifted a drink of Jack Daniels Manhattan, I would toast him in my mind. It is a promise that I have kept faithfully

Monday, April 24, 2006

MONDAY, MONDAY, UGH!

Yes it’s Monday. And why not, we had Sunday, so why not Monday? Let me tell you why not. It is the day that means you have to remember what you were doing on Friday, and how happy you were to be leaving it. It means that you have to fire up the old engine and try to build up a full head of steam. (OK, explain that one to me.)

There are more civilized days in the week, Thursdays seem to stand out in my mind, and it is a pre-cursor to Friday, the happiest day of the work week. Tuesday on the other hand, seems to be as bad as Monday, since it is still the beginning of the week. Now if you are married to the little woman, it seems like everyday can be a Monday if you stand still too long. She will find things that need to be done on Saturday that kill the vision that I had of Saturday.

I have tried to out sleep her, wait for her to go off to work, then get up, but unfortunately she knows how to write, and even more unfortunately, I know how to read a little bit, so notes can be left behind. It is also a good idea to be up before she leaves so I can ask questions like; “where do you keep it,” “how do I get there,” or “how do I do that?” This weekend, she didn’t even have to ask, I just vacuumed on my own. I’ve been in training for 35 years now.

Perhaps the worst part of the week is Sunday night. You just know you hate it because it is designed by God to remind you of Monday morning. It’s a lot like over drinking on Saturday night, and having to pay on Sunday Morning. Sure you felt good on Friday afternoon, but tomorrow is Monday.

So my friends, hold on tight, and wait until at least Wednesday.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

ARE YOU WHO YOU SAY YOU ARE?

My wife works for a credit union, which is a wanna be bank. On occasion, like everyday, one or more employees will call in sick, or take some time off. When someone needs some time off that is not scheduled, he or she will usually strike a deal with a co-worker to trade days off with.

Recently there was an occasion where Lois, one of the “Platform” people, traded days with another lady, and with a fellow who are platform people. Lois “became” Christin, who was away, and Jason who she was covering for lunch. Lois was using the ladies room in the morning, and because she was Jason for lunch, used the men’s room after lunch. After Lois used the men’s room, she was overheard to say, “I don’t care, I still sat down.”

Well after the Human Resources department figured out who was who, Lois took Christin’s place, and later Jason’s, but unfortunately Lois was dock for not being there that day!

This story IS partially true.

Friday, April 21, 2006

IF IT’S FRIDAY, IT MUST BE TIME TO DAYDREAM

Yes, the ever-popular day. T.G.I.F. etc. But wait, isn’t Friday a workday? I always thought that the joy comes from being off, not anticipating something while you still have to work? Maybe I just get it backwards, but I’m happier at home than at the office. Don’t get me wrong, I love my co-workers, but it IS work. Mind you, I do the very same thing everyone else does, get happy about it being Friday. I have a livelier step in my walk, when I worked at Publishers, I went out on Fridays for lunch, usually 2 hours on a good spring afternoon, I was extra happy.

The joy of my weekend starts the moment I get on the expressway after work, happy as a lark (how happy is a lark?) and I get happier and happier the further east I go, as some jackass cuts in front of me, some moron does 20 mph in the express lane, and begin to get euphoric at each slow down, until I’m downright giddy with silliness walking into the front door, sometimes, without opening it.

I really think they should rename the restaurant TGIS. It can stand for either Saturday OR Sunday. And the term “weekend”, should be re-named “strongend.”

“Can’t wait for this strongend to come, I’m going fishing” or “this strongend I’m starting my vacation!!” Now doesn’t it make more sense??

As you may or may not know, in the Catholic Church Friday has a strong significance. It is associated with ready (for this misnomer??) “Good Friday.” WHO named it “Good Friday” I’m sure it wasn’t Jesus.

And of course there is always “Friday the 13th” Black Friday the 13th. Now did “Good Friday” ever fall on Friday the 13th?

And if it wasn’t bad enough, I was born on a Friday.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

SPEAKING OF DEATH

My Uncle Carmello and Aunt Carmelina have a daughter named Tina-Marie, who was getting married to a young fellow by the name of Vito “Fats” Scoochinelli from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

It was Uncle Carmello’s place to pay for the wedding, and pay he did. He came home one evening later than usual to proudly proclaim that he had found and paid for a reception hall for the wedding. He told Zia Carmelina that he had to get it for three days, even though it was a one-day affair.
Aunt Carmelina became suspicious and asked the name of the place. Zio Carmello proudly announced Scarpiello’s Fun-Eral Home. He said how nice the young man dressed with his black tie and “Jacketa”, and the place was “immaculata” Just liker it says, a “Homa.” Uncle Carmello stated that he couldn’t resist the place, just by looking at the nice black shiny limos parked outside.

Aunt Carmelina went into a rage and cousin Tina started to cry. Uncle Carmello became confuse and looked into their faces for a clue. “A Whatza matter? You no liker the place?”
“No Liker, no liker, imbecile, thatsa FUNERAL HOME, no FUN-ERAL home.” screamed aunt Carmellina.

“Wella, we can’t change or getta my money back, Mr. La Morte, the owner saida NO REFUNDS.”

The wedding reception was held as planned, with guest coming from all over Brooklyn and from as far out west as New Jersey. Of course visitors from the other rooms would look on in curiosity at the wedding party, but the show when on.
Of course Mr. LaMorte, the owner was concerned because Annunziato Facebrute and Cousin Connie were shagging in the broom closet the whole time.

Not to be deterred by the “No refund policy,” they decided to lay out Uncle Carmello for the next two days so as not to waste the money. It was a very dignified occasion, with Uncle Carmello laying in the casket, in his best suit, the one he wore for the reception, and Aunt Carmellina sat in the front row dressed in black. It was two days of quiet conversations, and whenever Uncle Carmello tried to break into a conversation, Aunt Carmellina would yell, “SHUDDUPPA, OR I CLOSER THE LID!” And to add on to the indignity, Uncle Carmello would have to clean up each night, as Aunt Carmellina would tell him, “Carmello, makea sure you closer the lid, and knock ona the door to the broom closet and yella we goin homea now.”

Now that Uncle Carmello has had his funeral, when he does finally go, Aunt Carmellina will not have the expense of a funeral, and she can use the same coffin that she stored in their basement, which now rests over the oil tank next to the lawn statues. She will just have to put Uncle in it, and drop him off on her way to church.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

KNOCK, KNOCK… YOU’RE DEAD

When I was just married and living in an apartment in East Patchogue, I happened to watch a news magazine program one Sunday afternoon, while I uncontrollably anticipated dinner. The theme of the show was surrogate parents, and adoptive children. My young and beautiful wife (she’s still beautiful) was pregnant to my daughter, and being how we didn’t have children yet, it was a little difficult to fully appreciate all the issues raised in the program.

I was sitting in the living room while the little woman was rattling those pots and pans, when the host of the show asked the question: What would you do if there was a knock on your door, and a child was standing there and said “Hi, I am your spouses child?” Well I couldn’t wait to open my BIGGGGG MOUTH, and jumped up from the couch and yelled out to the Mrs. “Hey Ellen, What would you do if there was a knock on our door, and a child was standing there and said “Hi, I am your spouses child?” Well she came into the living room and repeated the question to confirm it, and answered
“I would tell the child, excuse me for a moment, leave, come back to the child and say: I’m sorry, your father is deceased.”

I can assure you one and all, there are NO unclaimed children in MY past.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

SHORTCUTS

For 17 years I drove back and forth to Port Washington when I worked for Publishers Clearing House. In all that time I would ask how people got to work who lived out east as I do.

As you know they named the “Long Island Expressway” the “LIE” for a very good reason. Traffic was (and still is) so bad on the LIE, that even the local radio stations would not report on it east of the NYC – Nassau County line. The reason there was a failure to report the traffic conditions was that conditions changed so rapidly. The electronic “Million Dollar Signs” were even worst. They would report that “Traffic is moving well to exit 39”, when in fact it was stop and go at best. When the radio station such as WFAN did report traffic, and it was wrong, people would call in to Imus asking what LIE they were reporting on?

Most took the standard route. LIE to the Searingtown Road exit, and straight up Port Washington Blvd. to Main Street, then a few hocus pocus turns and you are there. But the joy of going home in the evening was marred by the fact that it took so long to get out of Port Washington. The trick was to spend as little time as possible on the highway, and then on the local roads around Port Washington.

In my desperation to emulate Christopher Columbus and find a new passage to the “East” I was introduced to the CB radio, and went by the “Handle” of “The Graphic Eye”, to get the latest reports on what was ahead of me, and the recommendations of other CBers. As I experimented with new ways around the town, some seemed more preferable than others, and it made me feel that I WAS making better time. I would prefect the different segments of my daily trips until I hoped to get home 5 minutes before I left work. Of course that never happened, but given another 17 years of trying, I’m sure I would have done just that. Honest.

And to all you nose pickers behind the wheel – STOP IT

Monday, April 17, 2006

DIRECTIONS TO THE GREAT ABYSS

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to directions, I usually need them just so I can follow them. Today I received an e mail from someone, who wants to have a “Happy hour” on Thursday nights, and asked if I was interested. I replied yes and asked about direction. Lo and behold, (what the hell does that mean?) I know where this place is.

This is a rarity, and possible I will forget how to get there by Thursday.

There are certain areas of the country that I can get lost in without effort, or consciously trying. The primary area to look for me if I’m ever missing for a few days, and I owe you money is Pennsylvania. Yes the Quakers laid out the roads to be an enigma, wrap in a riddle. Every time I go into the state, my blood pressure rises, and I become disoriented.
Other areas are Upstate New York, and my street.

Once in a great while, I go on the internet to get directions. This is almost as useful as reading the back of a peanut butter jar to get where I’m going. “When you get to the exit, take it.” Never tells me the name or number of the exit.

I have been known under coercion to stop and ask for direction. Usually, when I ask, the person will say, “Oh its easy, you can’t miss” What he is really saying is “By the look on your pathetic face, you should be incommunicado for a few hours.” When I ask for verbal directions, it is usually my undoing, and it is then that I hope I have my credit cards in good working order, in case I may have to fly home because I’m sooo lost.

Maps? Maps can be helpful, but they are usually so big, I don’t have the patience to keep them open and available, yet be able to drive while I’m reading them. The only sure way for me to get someplace with directions is with my wife Ellen. For years she’s been giving my directions, usually to “Go shit in your hat” which is why I can’t wear hats. I simply get her cooperation by tying her up and plopping her in the front seat. She may scream for a while, but after some time she comes to realize the sooner I get there, the sooner I’ll untie her.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

HEY! HAPPY EASTER BABY!

To anyone who is reading this I say, Happy Easter!!

Yes, that magical time of the year, when spring has sprung, and the birdies sing, the flowers blossom and baseball is for real. The ice season is over, and soon they will pull the plug on the knicks.

But the Easter season has always given me a sense of renewal, re-birth, and just a good memory. There lives in my daughters home a fellow by the name of Paul. Paul is a fellow that doesn’t speak, and sits by himself. He is about 40 years of age, and will not look you straight in the eye. He can appear to be very hostile, and does not acknowledge that you are even there. It was on an Easter Sunday, a few years ago that I went to pick up my daughter Ellen to bring her home for Easter dinner. I decided that I was going to try to get Paul’s attention. I learned a lesson in a hurry. I went over to where he was sitting, kneeled down and leaned into his face, and said “Hello Paul, How’s it going?” Paul was sitting Indian fashion on his chair, his legs intertwined and he was in his undershirt, with evidence of his last meal clearly shown. Paul looked at me, and kissed the side of my face. If I ever felt like I did something worthwhile, it was then, as it taught me that the old adage IS true, you can’t tell a book by it’s cover.

So if I may, I would like to use a word that the Jewish people use , it is Chanukkah, or rededication to the rites of spring and the day of Easter, which is meant with no disrespect to Judaism.

Happy Easter, or as my grandmother used to say “A Appy East.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

TODAY MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL CELEBRATES JACKIE ROBINSON

There were many 20th Century heroes that I can name. Some I remember, some I read about, and one I love. That one is Jackie Robinson. When I was growing up as a young Brooklyn Dodger fan I was keenly aware of Jackie. I remember vividly the excitement, and drama he brought to the game of baseball. But something else I recall as well, the pride I had in Brooklyn in being the first to allow a black man to play baseball. It meant to me that I was rooting for a team of character, and fair play. The man was the epitome of greatness, in his eyes and the pigeon toed way he walked.

There are other heroes that walk through or lives, but we never see them. At least we never recognize them until they are gone. I myself am a victim of that, but I can also recognize some. First is my wife Ellen. She is my personal hero. She is what Motherhood is meant to be. She stays by her children and she fights the good fight. She puts up with me, and that makes it a little tougher for her than it should be.

There is my niece and nephew, LauriAnn and Gerard. I wouldn’t go into specifics here, but they are heroes of epic proportions. So are their parents, who were there when they where needed most. There is my sister MaryAnn, who to this day is a shining star when the night was darkest. And MaryAnn’s children who bring the sunlight after the long night. There is the single mother Christine who works in my office, who keeps her family first, her children her focus. All these people are heroes in my eyes, as are those that fought in foreign wars, like my Uncle Frank, and the many who died in those many wars.

All the above people demonstrate courage; all are worthy of a heroes welcome in my eyes. I feel like I walk among giants, and just maybe I do. Unlike Jackie Robinson, they may never get a day in their honor; so today I include them in a day for remembering heroes. God bless them all and all who are like them.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

THE SISTINE CHAPEL (The real story)


Everyone has heard of the Sistine Chapel, because of the marvels of the work of Michelangelo Buonarroti Simoni, and the ceiling he painted there. But did you ever wonder who did the floors? Well due to a recent discovery by the Vatican of old manuscripts that date back to around 1512, we now know! What is so amazing about this discovery is that the guy who did the floors was non-other than one of my great ancestors. Yes, that’s right. His name was Michelangelo Del Broccolo, and he along with his son Giuseppe, laid the whole floor one weekend in July, when the kid had off from school. The documents found were translated from the Italian to English by a group of Monks. The head Monk, the Monk Key, was at first reluctant to release them, but then relented when he was threatened with a visit from Hillary Clinton. In it they found a transcript of the conversation between Pope Julius and Michelangelo Del Broccolo that was transcribe by the Vatican secretary who was present, and who later paid the bill. I goes something like this:

Il Popa: “Buon Giorno Senor Della Broccolo!”

Michelangelo: “No, that’s DEL Broccolo, buta my friends a calla me Tony”

Il Popa: “Oops, sorry. Listen, I’ma calling a you here to discussa the Cappella Sistina, I’ma needa some a worka done on the floors. Asa you know, we just finished the ceilings, and thought that it would be a good idea to doer the floorza too.”

Michelangelo: “Wella, the ceiling looksa beautiful. Who’sa the artista?”

Il Popa: “Hoh, soma guy froma Caprese, outsidea of a Fiorenze. You knowa hima-hisa name is Michelangelo Buonarroti Simoni. Ehhh!-it tooka him a so long, I tella him “Eh-a when a you gonna finish hup? I gotta mid-night mass ina few monthsa, urry uppa.”

Michelangelo: “Ah-Michelangelo! I’ma knowa him from a High Sckoola, he’s a ona my soccer team. Hee hee, we usza to calla him Moses, he stilla hasza that beard? Well no worry a Sante Popa, I’ma done by Monday at the latest. Bada binga, bada banga, I’ma done ina notime”

3-Days Later:

Il Popa: “Tony, Tony, Tony! I’ma so appy you doer sucha nicer job, I wanna cry. Tella you what-letsa have a some pizza, we discussa the price anda my planzsa to open la cappella to tourism, just to see the floors, si?”

Michelangelo: “Si, itsa shamea they gotta walka on them!”

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

MY TIVO IS POSSESSED

I’m not a person that easily gets into the latest fads. (Just check my wardrobe) When it comes to electronics, my first computer was in 1991, and only after I was introduced to it at my company’s request. Nor am I the first to have a blog, my son stating that he couldn’t believe that I had a blog before he did. (He can’t believe that I’m still alive, either.) One of the reasons I don’t get excited about these things is that it comes with instructions, and I have to follow them. I then have to hook-up the contraption, usually intergrading it with my existing system of electronic paraphernalia. It seems that this gets the little woman all excited. She usually likes to do these kinds of things. I like to read the newspaper. The little woman even likes the trips to Radio Shack, so she can talk to the electronic marvels that are barely out of diapers, leaving me to wonder, “Where the hell did he learn that?” She usually comes home with a yellow ruled notepaper, on it a crude drawing of how to hook up the damn thing. Once she rouses me out of the fetal position, and plies my thumb out of my mouth, I begin the process that usually takes a few hours, a rest, and then a few hours more. Sometimes these things go on for a couple of weekends. This usually has an additional trip to Radio Shack or two.

Now last year, she decided we needed TIVO. Why? Because we had already hooked up a: cable box, a DVD, a VCR, and a router. We obviously needed something else. Well off to the store to buy TIVO. Our first TIVO, which will bring us all closer together as a family, with a better understanding of the world and all that is in it. But we now realize in the store, by way of conversation with Achmed the Pakistani terrorist salesman, that we should have it wireless. Wireless is code for “Boy is that SOB of a husband of yours going to get confused” TIVO comes with a CD to install, and now I need a new router from my computer, AND a contraption that hangs out of the TIVO box, and one from my younger son’s pc, plus a CD to install for the new router. Then of course there are wires. Wires for the wireless. Two sets of instructions. Which set do we use???

OK, we have overcome the madness of installation. All is running, all the wires are accounted for. Now, lets’ program TIVO for all its features, after all, that’s why we got it. OK, we program for the “Drake and Josh” show. Now my son Anthony has written a few episodes, and has even appeared in it, so Mom wants to capture it, and I feel we should start thinking about programming for the academy award shows, just in case. We put on the TV, we are watching merrily when all of a sudden-“TIVO wants to change the channel at 9:00 to start recording Drake and Josh” “Please select…” then it gives us the options. But we must decide quickly. We want to stay where we are, to see who the killer is and start to frantically look for the TIVO remote, which lies in a pile of remotes for the DVD, Optimum, the TV, The VCR, the all-in-one remote, the cable box and the wireless telephone, (which by the way does not change channels.) Ah, success at last, we found the remote!!! Now if we can just figure out how it works, where is the select button??

Have you ever seen the intro to Drake and Josh?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

GIVING BUTTONS, A GIFT FROM THE HEART.



Once upon a time, there lived a little boy in Brooklyn, who was taught to give his change to the Church. And who made him do this, might you ask? His Mother, who in her opinion was next to God.

Now this kid went to a very fancy cathedral like church, in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, and hated to go to church every Sunday, but go he did.

One Sunday his Dad gave him 2 nickels for the collection, and then turned over and went back to sleep. (This was man's way of atoning for staying in bed.) The little boy, being industrious, took the money and realized he could do “Better” things with the money. For in the days when men were men and girls were a mystery, a small package of white donuts cost 10¢! What to do? Being the “Good” boy he was, he carefully thought through what should be done. What was the “right” thing to do. So he summoned up all his spirituality for a 6 year old, and bought the donuts.

Now, faced with the dilemma of no money for the collection, he was suddenly inspired by “divine,” yes “divine” inspiration. Quietly, and without being noticed, he went to his Holy Mothers sewing box, and took out 2-shinny silver like buttons. Slipping the buttons into his pocket, the little boy went off to church with his Mother.

The first of 2 collections began, and the man with the basket passed it in front of the little boy, who deposited 1 shinny silver-like button into the basket and looked at his Holy Mother’s face. No reaction!

The second collection came around to the little boy, and he similarly deposited the second shinny silver-like button into the basket, looked again at his Holy Mother’s face, and again, no reaction! At this rate he calculated, he would be rich by the time he was seven, or have at the very least, own a whole dollar.

On the way home from church, he tried to engaged his Mother in some small talk, a bit of conversation, to no avail. Mother was just not responding, and the little boy was wondering if: 1.) Her hearing was going, or 2.) Boy was he gonna get it! When Mother and Son reached the top of the third floor landing, the little boy said, “well, I’m going back downstairs, see ya later Mom.” Just then, he felt the iron grip of discipline, the wrath of retribution, the scourge of a woman’s anger. He got #2. Boy did he get it! All day! He started to pray for company to shorten the sting of penance, and the ending of the constant phrase “Embarrass ME in church will you!?”

But yes, there is a GOD; company arrived that afternoon, somewhat like the U.S. Marines, to the rescue, airlifting civilians out of an embassy being stormed.

And what did the little boy with the silver-like buttons learn? If you are going to cheat the Church out of their share, do it later in the day.

This is a true story, the names have been omitted to conceal the guilty little boy.

Monday, April 10, 2006

GETTING OLDER IS NOT ALL ITS’ MADE OUT TO BE.

Getting up every morning has become a colossal pain in my: legs, back, hands and neck. My rear end seems fine. (Thought I was going to say “ass,” didn’t you.)

Taking those first steps out of my warm cozy bed, where the spot is just right is a trauma. Now I can lay awake all night, and have trouble falling asleep until about ½ hour before it is time to arise. At that point, you will find me sound asleep, locked into a truly comfortable position, happily unaware of the world. (I often wonder if this is what death is like.) Some how, and I can’t explain it, I awaken in time to see the dreaded digital tormenter tell me it’s time to get up. Now I have to trek to my armoire, to find my underwear and off to the shower. Stepping onto the cold tile floor of the bathroom is the process of awakening, along with the knife-like piercing of the lights that attack my mind, soul and eyes. Then comes the test. Will I continue this horror, or will I call in sick around 8:30 am??? I continue the horror. I shave, probably the most annoying thing I can do outside of paying an increase in the price of gas at the pump. But once I step into that shower, all changes. I start to think of some project I’m working on at the office, and coming up with an idea. The morning starts to happen. I dress, make the bed, (even if Ellen’s still asleep in it,) and go downstairs to perform other rituals that will allow me to continue this day in peace. It is at this point that I consider my earlier decision to not call in sick, but have my coffee and read my paper. At this point I get into my car and approach the LIE. It is at this point that I consider my earlier decision to not call in sick, but get on the LIE anyway. I drive through slowdowns, bumper to bumper, (It is at this point that I consider my earlier decision to not call in sick,) until I reach the office. It is at this point that I consider my earlier decision to not call in sick, but go in anyway, where I quietly go into my office, close the door, and sob until lunch.

And what still hurts?

My: legs, back, hands and neck. My rear end seems fine. (Thought I was going to say “ass,” didn’t you.)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

MY NEPHEW THE MACARONI MAN

Tomorrow, around 1:00 pm, my nephew Chris is coming over to help me root for the Mets. We start the season tomorrow and it continues until the Jets lose their last game, in December. Then we take a break until the first Sunday in April that the Mets start playing again.

A perfect Sunday for Chris would be a Mets or Jets win, and macaroni for dinner. This is one boy, who loves his macaroni. I don’t think he can cook, but if the Mets or Jets should have an off day, and Chris marries, and his wife throws him out, the first thing he will learn to cook is macaroni. It might even be for breakfast. If the Mets or Jets don’t have an off day and she throws him out, he may perish from starvation, with the game on. He is his Grandfathers grandson for sure. If the Mets are losing 1-0 in the top of the first, he has them losing the game, as he paces around my den, lamenting why they don’t get rid of that bum.

Christopher Ruvolo, math teacher, and track coach. His family knows him as a teacher, but to him he’s a track coach. But this I say with sincerity, he’s a good kid. Very respectful, with the same inclination to root for losers that his uncle has.

So if Chris should stop at your house unexpectedly, just turn on the game, and start the pot boiling.

Friday, April 07, 2006

FEELING SECURE: PAPER vs. BYTES

I must admit to a certain feeling of insecurity in my life. My wife Ellen accuses me of being a “Pack rat” and this is true. I cannot bring myself to toss anything away, not even a bad feeling. If you go into my studio, you will find five million floppy discs from an old computer that I hardly use, and unopened AOL and other internet services CD’s that I feel someday will become erasable which I then can store unnecessary data onto.

If you go into a supermarket with me, and the packer ask “Paper or plastic?” I will answer, “Yes.” I have clothes that are 30 years old, with all the original stains. Why do I keep them? It gives the Mrs. something to point out to me. I like to keep them so I can “Paint in them.” I think if I ever changed, my wife and I would have nothing to talk about. Need 2” of molding? Not to worry, visit me in my garage. Need a hand driven drill, again, in my garage. In my office, it kind of mirrors itself. I have a rather large server from which to store and draw off electronic files, yet I must have hard copies, too.

My philosophy in life is “You never know.” Know what? Well, you never know when you may need to paint something, or when the plastic or paper bag may rip, or when someone might want a copy to bring someplace. You may never know when some bit of information from 1991 may become useful. Of course none of this has ever happened yet, but you never know. And here’s the important factor, I go to bed at night secure in the knowledge that I have everything I need in my closets, file drawers, servers and bag bins I’ll ever need.

Well, I guess I’ll go and print this up before I post it on the internet, you never know.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

MY FRIEND, WESLY

Everyone has met someone in his or her life who has left an impression. I too, have just that someone. He’s a person I met a while ago, maybe ten years or so, I really can’t recall. While that fact in itself is not important, the fact that I think of him as special is.
The man’s name is Wesley or Wes. Wes was what I and my wife, Ellen called him. Wes died a few years ago, and when he did a little of life’s joy died with him. When we first learned about Wes, it was because we noticed how beautiful the walkway was to the front door where my Daughter Ellen was now living. We were told that Wes had planted all the flowers. He was an engaging gentleman in a polite and humble manner. He took great pride in his accomplishments, and yet never bragged about them, yet would show them to you proudly. He loved all and all who met him loved him back. He loved cats most of all, but could love any animal. He cared for those in need, and was always lending his assistance when needed. He was a rock of dependence, and reliability. He gave, but never asked for anything, yet what you saw is what you got.

As you might have guessed, he was retarded. But in spite of his mental retardation, he strove to be better at whatever he did, worked hard with dignity and courage. He was so special that his retardation became his motivation. He sought to take care of himself. He held a job in a workshop for retarded people, and always paid his own way. He once invited me outside, after we had first met, and he showed me his new bicycle. Wes was proud not only of his new bike, but the fact that he paid for it himself. Proud that he went to a store, and negotiated the deal by himself. Proud that he retired his old bike, which from what I could see was still in pretty good shape.

Wes had a pretty good collection of CDs and LPs, and it was fun to watch him at Christmas time, when he would get an electric or remote control toy car or train. I mean, he was in his 70’s, enjoying life. His room was filled with cat pictures hanging on the wall. He carried a tobacco pouch in his shirt pocket, and smoked a pipe. My wife loved Wes, would bring him cat calendars and cakes for his birthday, shirts made of flannel so he would be warm, and always a great big smile when we first saw him on any particular day. To this day, she still has a trinket he made, that she hangs on her rear view mirror, and every time she gets a new car, the first thing she transfers is his trinket. I learned that he took care of my Daughter at the home, helping her get out of a chair, or climbing a step or two onto the van to go to program. And at night, after dinner he would sit with her in the living room.

Behind Wes’s eyes one could easily see his wheels turning, thinking, contemplating, always using his mind. Once he engaged me in a conversation, and was having trouble explaining himself. You could see the pain in his eyes as he struggled with the words, wishing he could free himself from his retardation.

When we got the news that Wes had cancer, both my wife and I felt cold. We were losing a special friend, and we watched him die. It was slow, and in the end painful. He died not complaining, laying in a bed that was moved to the living room so he wouldn’t be alone in his bedroom. The last time we visited Wes; we knew it would be soon, but not that soon. We didn’t really have a chance to say good-bye, or thank you.

Monday, April 03, 2006

CONTEST SHOWS, WHEN DO THESE FADS GO AWAY?

You can’t imagine how sick and tired I am of the American Idol type of shows that seem to have taken over the universe. American Idol has set a trend that is lasting too long, and is being imitated by others, down to the “We’ll announce the winner right after the break’, to the long dramatic pauses between sentences by the MC.

And why should we have these shows anyway? Watching TV is not my favorite pastime, and these kinds of shows make it more so. Now if you want good TV, watch Boston Legal, or Desperate Housewives. Now there are two great shows, with tongue in cheek kind of humor. Too bad I have no real idea what the hell “Tongue in cheek really means.”

Perhaps the best TV ever is Seinfeld. Without a doubt, it set a new culture, creating new phrases in our everyday vocabulary, “yada, yada, yada.” And like this blog, about absolute nothing. Actually, every time I hear “yada, yada, yada.”, I think of a dear old friend of mine in my professional life – Ronne Freedman. She started using it in the ninety’s when we both worked at Publishers Clearing House. I think she could have easily have fitted in with Jerry, George and crowd. But then again, they were selfish, and she’s not. More on Ronne the fashionista at a later date.

One of the most offensive kinds of programming is the old situation comedy. There are a few that I enjoyed, going back to Lucy and the Honeymooners, and of course “All In The Family.” Seinfeld and Raymond come to mind, and of course M.A.S.H. I think situation comedy should rely less on flippant humor, and more on reality.

Here's an idea, a situation comedy based on reality!

OPENING DAY, THE REAL NEW YEAR DAY

Today is the first day of the rest of my life! Today is the day I’ve been waiting for since last October 1st, when the Mets played their last game for the year. Of course there were other games, but they weren’t important enough for me because they weren’t Met games. I mean what’s a world series without the Mets?

When I was a little boy, my Dad would take me to NYC to a store that sold baseball jackets. I remember one time when I was getting my first Brooklyn Dodgers jacket, and I was very excited. When we arrived at the store, we found out that they were out of Dodgers jackets, so the salesman gave me a black and orange NY Giants jacket. I was very disappointed, and the salesman could see it in my face. He said to my Dad that I could wear this Giant jacket until next Saturday when a new shipment of jackets would be in, and I could exchange it for a Dodgers jacket. Well for some reason, and I think it had to do with the man’s kindness, I wore this hated jacket. On top of wearing something I hated, my Dad reminded me that I had to be careful because it wasn’t ours. I remember only wearing the Giants jacket home from the store, and then the following Saturday back to the store. All the time I wore the coat, my arms were folded over my chest to hide the name and shame. I walked around with my arms folded and a frown on my face. On the way home we stopped at my Grandmothers house to visit. We walked into her kitchen, and she was standing over the table looking at some sewing, and asked my Dad in Italian what was wrong. My Dad said to me, “she wants to know what’s wrong?” I said in English “Doesn’t she realize what I’m wearing?” He said “No, how would grandma know about that?” Just then my grandmother looked at me and said “Eh, a JoJo, a noa Dodge jacketa?” Maybe, just maybe she was waiting for the season to start too.

Well, the next Saturday finally came, and I got my Dodgers jacket, and it was a shiny blue jacket with elastic blue and white striped bands on the wrists and waist, and I felt like a special kid. It felt something like the time many years later when my first son bought me a Brooklyn Dodgers hat long after the Dem Bums left Brooklyn.

Let’s go Mets!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

TODAY WE GAVE THE HOUSE AN ENEMA…

then proceeded to give one to my wallet. The only relief I have from this is that I won’t hear Ellen go on about the wash, how the toilet gurgles, and how the water level in the bowl goes way down.

It seems that cleaning out a cesspool has become highly technical. They sent over a technician in a big white truck within 2 hours of my call. I was asked all kinds of questions such as what type I had, was it 2 holes or 1. When did I clean it last?
What type???? The type that takes it away, but I don’t see it again.
2 holes or 1?? Well let’s see, hum… I’d say 1 because if I say 2, you will charge me for 2.
WELL GUESS HOW MANY??? DID I HEAR 2? WOW ARE YOU SMART!!!

Now, how big is the hole in my wallet?? The circumference measures large enough to fit the truck he drove in on through it!

Gee, he was such a happy man, too.

Said both the tanks were filled to the brim. How’s that for efficiency? Good news is it is guaranteed for a year. Well be darn sure I won’t ruin his guarantee by filling it quicker. On his way out he said I had to measure the distance from the house to the two pipes in case of a freeze, so that it can be quickly accessed. After I figure that out, I think I’ll measure the freeze I put on my account with the bank.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

SPRING HAS SPRUNG - IS TROUBLE FAR BEHIND?

Whenever spring springs, it always brings out the best in me. I remember years ago, when I just started on my first job in NYC, that trouble reared its ugly head.

It was a beautiful Friday, the day was sunny and bright, the sky was blue, and the air smelled fresh and clean. I was single and looking forward to the weekend. About 11 am, I got my paycheck and decided to go to the First National City Bank to cash it. I took the elevator down, and stepped through the swinging doors and started up 54th street to cross Lexington Avenue. Traffic was somewhat light and I was feeling real good about things.

I started singing in my head and nothing seemed to be in my way, as I climbed the steps to the bank, and went into the revolving door. Then it struck! Trouble! That’s Trouble with a capital “T”, At that point my whole day went down the drain as I enter the same compartment as a crotchety old lady in the revolving doors. As I looked down I thought “Oh my God, what the hell is she doing in here with me,” as I started to tip-toe with my arms stuck straight up in the air so as not to touch her.

If you do not know what Hell is like when raised, if you do not know what disaster pending means, then you do not know this old battle-axe. The old bag goes into a hissy fit that goes over the legal limit for sound. “MY GOD! WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE IN THIS CITY?? CAN’T A WOMAN GO ANYWHERE WITHOUT GETTING MOLESTED??? At this point I thought that maybe she wasn’t talking about me, because let’s face it; I would never molest an old hag like that.

Well granny sweatpants went on for a while, as I tried to distance myself from the old sea horse, and if it weren’t for the nice rich red glow on my face, I may have gotten away with it.

Try to act innocent in a bank filled with cash checkers. VERY EMBARASSING. Now I have automatic deposit, just to save myself. And a lesson learned: when felling good about the weather, stay inside.