Sunday, October 31, 2010


Recently I entered a store looking at laptops for myself in the future. I’m thinking of getting either an Apple or a “regular” pc laptop to take with me to the library where I can write and concentrate.

In these stores are the “Geeks” who prowl the aisle when you don’t want them, and are NEVER around when you need one. They eventually become policemen.

When you enter one of these places, not unlike visiting your mechanic, you feel somewhat vulnerable. It’s like you got into the store all right, but just realized, you are not wearing any pants! They have all the answers, knowing it all, but you don’t even have the questions. This can be annoying and intimidating.

People watching is what I like to do as a hobby when there is nothing to eat. (As you can see, I am a multi-hobbyist) I can watch people when in a church, a bar or ready to cross a street with busy traffic! (That is usually after the bar visit) In comes this young woman, filled with self-confidence and determination. A geek approaches her.

Geek: “Can I help you?”

Soon to be defeated and made to feel worthless customer: “Yes, I’m looking for a thing to add on for more attachments.”

Geek: “What kind of thing?”

Soon to be defeated and made to feel worthless customer: “You know, where I can put additional stuff into the computer, but I don’t have anymore holes to stick the wires into.”

Geek: “Oh! You mean a port!”

Soon to be defeated and made to feel worthless customer: “I do? Yes, I do!”

Geek: “Do you want an external drive?”

Soon to be defeated and made to feel worthless customer: “Huh?”

Geek: “Are you adding files or hardware?”

Soon to be defeated and made to feel worthless customer: “Huh?”

Geek: “Let me get my boss.”

Headgeek: “Yes, can I help you?

Newly defeated and made to feel worthless customer: “Huh?”

Headgeek: “(Staring into space) We need to know if you are planning to add additional hardware or just files to a storage site.”

Newly defeated and made to feel worthless customer: “Huh?”

Headgeek to Geek: “Take her to aisle 17, and make her buy something she can’t exchange later, with lots of paperwork, questions and complicated explanations about what she gets and doesn’t get. Make sure she signs a long-term contract that will outlive her need for the product, but costs a whole lot more money, that she can regret later.

Totally defeated and made to feel worthless customer: “Huh?”

Saturday, October 30, 2010


You all have heard that old saw, when your palm itches it means you are getting money. Good news, I’m about to become a billionaire, or bad news, I have an allergy!

Who wants to bet on what?

It started when I was having work done on my teeth by the Merchant of Venice. He, my dentist, did some root canal work on my gums, and it caused another root canal job he did a couple of years ago to fall out a few days later! With all this canal work, he is flooding his pockets with my money!

Being a nice guy, he gave me a prescription for infection, and one for pain. My gum was swelling so I went and had the infection prescription filled and it was Amoxicillin I believe. I started taking it as directed and thought nothing of it. Then I started with some very minor itching one night in the middle of my sleep. Waking up, I tossed and turned the whole night. If I had some rock music written to it, I would now have a hit on my hands!

The itch turned to a chronic thing, and a slight chill on the skin surface started to appear. It is now a full-blown rash! My back in particular is the itchiest, and a pasta scoop is my handy tool!

I mentioned all this to TLW (The Little Woman) and my mother, the other TLW, and they both asked the same question when I told them I suspected the Amoxicillin!



No ladies, I am trying to set an example for everyone in what stupid is and does! (No jokes please, I’m very sensitive.) I can understand and appreciate their asking that question, and wonder if there are some people who would continue to take it under these circumstances.

It’s been a day and a half since I last took the medication, but the itch has gotten worse. I’m starting to entertain the idea of finishing the whole bottle at once, if it doesn’t go away soon!

Friday, October 29, 2010


The other day I stopped at a McDonalds to get a cup of coffee and sit for a little while. As I sipped in the mid-morning quietness of the otherwise busy franchise, there were only two other people sitting in the place, both older men. One was busily working on a laptop, and one was working with a pen at a separate table.

I like to watch people and it comes from my college days when I traveled to school on the train, and I extended that habit when I became a professional designer and worked in NYC. When the hours were long, and the trains delayed, I would whip out my sketchbook and draw unsuspecting people, and later, after I was finished, give it to the person. I found that people were very receptive and happily appreciative whenever I did that kind of thing. I used to do it especially if there was a pretty girl around, and it was fun to get their reactions.

The two older gentlemen were doing their things in the restaurant, as I sipped and watched cars go by and thought about whatever occupied my mind that day. Suddenly I had a sense that I was being watched! Looking around, I caught one of the old men studying me and he looked like at first he was scribbling notes. Then it occurred to me what was happening, HE was sketching ME! He realized it as I looked directly at him, and he continued like nothing had happened.

Halfway through my coffee, the old man got up from his chair, and slowly with great difficulty, walked over to me carrying what looked like a napkin! Speaking with a little difficulty, he said to please forgive him and handed me a drawing he did on the napkin.

I have never been given the honor of being a subject of another artist. This was a treat for me! I thanked him, and we talked and I told him that I was an artist too. This drawing will be one of my personal treasures! It made me feel so good, I think I’ll go back to doing it myself.

Now, where do all the pretty girls hang out, and why did I draw them???

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Once in a lifetime, you get to meet someone special. For me, that came in the form of the High School Reunion last May. I had always wanted to meet Mother Teresa, and her passing precluded my ever doing that. But the next best thing happened, I met Sista Tanj-Gerina, a former classmate from high school, now from the Sisters of Mano a Mano from the upper east side of Palermo.

One does not know how to begin to describe the feeling one gets when first meeting the good Sista. She has devoted her life to good works and charitable ways, emulating Mother Teresa in so many ways. To try to describe them here in this limited space would be impossible, but suffice it to say that Sista Tanj-Gerina has turned the hell that was once East Patchogue, into a haven for the weak and humbled due to her ministry there.

Physically, you could describe Sista Tanj-Gerina as average height, with a wonderful smile, that welcomes one into her presence, a smile that says: “Don’t cross me, or else! The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list.” Having fallen (and I mean that literally) to her wrath, one is left with the reminder in the form of black and blue marks, for months afterward. And that smile, that smile that lights up the room, with a perfect set of teeth, (Except for the one front one that got chipped sliding on some ice at the request of a certain un-named party.)

Sista Tanj-Gerina speaks three languages fluently, English, Italo-Americano, and her hands! When she resorts to manual speak, she can speak at the rate of 50 words a second, and when she does, it is advisable to wear at least a helmet and some shoulder pads.

This nun is the subject of great admiration by many who reside in the sleepy hamlet of East Patchogue. She has opened up her heart and adopted countless little puppies, traveling back to her old stomping grounds on the upper east side of Palermo, and gathering stray and abandoned puppies, and physically sticking them under her saintly garments and into the USA, to live in complete happiness in her home in East Patchogue.

But her greatest assets are her humanity and humbleness. Often she has shunned the help of those that love her, and has been seen climbing ladders to cut down tree branches and clean roofs, and has also been seen as she descended them, head first!

But don’t speak ill of anything the good sista holds dear, for suddenly a dark cloud will build around her head, her eyes will become piercing and with great seriousness, admonish you for your thoughts warning that the wrath of God will get you!

It is my bet and fondest hope that the Pope, Pope Benedict will move for early sainthood even though she still lives! Then Sista Tanj-Gerina will dwell in perfect bliss in the Vatican, speaking to her little puppies in sign language at the rate of 50 words per minute!

As for me, I think I will leave town for a while.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Or, say AHHHHH.

I told the witch doctor I was in love with you
I told the witch doctor you didn't love me too
And then the witch doctor, he told me what to do
He said that ....

Root canal was the order of the day. As I entered the dentist office, the young assistant led me to the execution block and asked: “What are you here for today?”

“Oh, today is root canal day!” I said rather timidly. “My mouth will look like Venice when the doctor is done, all those canals… bad joke, huh?”

“But at least it’s a joke.”

Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla, bing bang
Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla, bing bang...
Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla, bing bang
Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla, bing bang

Can’t get shot down better than that.

The doctor entered and looks at my chart.

“Wow!!! Two years ago almost to the day since we last saw you!”

The dentist and I are the only ones in the room. I know I’ve seen me a few times since then.

I told the witch doctor you didn't love me true
I told the witch doctor you didn't love me nice
And then the witch doctor, he game me this advice
He said to ...

“Well, today is root canal day, Joseph.”

I hate it when we are on a first name basis, and I’M getting all the pain.

“Been writing blogs about me I bet.”

“Nah, that would be suicidal, besides, I want to come more often.”

Now, you've been keeping love from me
Just like you were a miser
And I'll admit I wasn't very smart
So I went out and found myself
A guy that's so much wiser
And he taught me the way to win your heart

“Say ‘AH’, we are going to put a contraption in your mouth you never saw before. Keep your eyes closed so nothing flies in your eyes! There will be a lot of vibration, but after 25 needles of pain killer that I just gave you, you should only feel vibrations!”

Being a married man, I rarely get a chance to open my mouth for long, and when I do, my foot usually seems to find its way in there, but I was really getting tired of this thing in my mouth, and keeping it open for 25 minutes, which seemed like an eternity.

There is always the swallowing issue, the issue of the drill when it smokes and I can smell it, and of course, the sticking of the needle in the gums, that somehow requires the good doctor to give it a lot of elbow AND hip action!

My friend the witch doctor, he taught me what to say
My friend the witch doctor, he taught me what to do
I know that you'll be mine when I say this to you
Oh, Baby ....

Finally, the ordeal is over!

“That’s it! You’re done Joseph!’

Before it was “We”, now it is “You”!

That is because “You” will now get the bill for the procedure. It’s like pulling teeth!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Or like it or else!

The other day TLW (The Little Woman) and I went to my least favorite place, Home Depot. The reason I hate that place is it is so noisy, big and distracting. OK, here’s another reason: It usually costs money. The customers for the most part are hard working plumbers, carpenters and tradesmen, or couples like TLW and myself. It is the place where home d├ęcor dreams go to die.

This particular day we were on a mission to purchase a shower door to replace the one we now have, being it is rendered by TLW: “Obsolete”.

“Why are we buying a new door for anyway?” I enquired.

“Because if we are going to sell our house, we need to be up to date!” She responded rather quickly, anticipating the question coming up. I like to pose questions in a surprise form to see how quickly the response comes forth. “Besides” she continued: “If you look at HDTV, you will notice all the shower doors are now all glass! We want to make this appealing, like on the shows.”

“We do?”

“Yes, this will help sell the house.”

“OK. Hey, here is a nice looking door!”


“Why not????”

“Because I don’t like it.”

It was here that I decided to take a stand and act like a man.


TLW: “I want a clear glass door, not an etched look.”


“Because that is what they do on TV.” (What a dummy I am!)

“But all you’ll see is a bathtub!”

“Hmmm, that’s true. Let’s look in some other places at another time, you are getting too logical again”

Monday, October 25, 2010

HOLY $#(+!

I’m going to hell!

Straight to hell, the do not stop in the kitchen or bathroom on the way hell.
Why you ask?
You didn’t!
Well I’ll tell you anyway. It seems TLW (The Little Woman) and I went to church one Sunday recently, and I am turning into a hopeless case!

As I entered the building, I looked for all the old familiar faces, and they were all there. I thought to myself: “We need a new crop of sinners! The old crop looks a little thin and drawn, and everything seems so tired looking!”

First off were the ushers, you know, those guys that hang around the church during a service, then like the government, pop out of hiding to take your money. Old guys and gals, tired and worn, by rote they do their thing. I try not to know them, because I don’t want them realizing I don’t put a lot of silent money in the basket. When they are not collecting money, they are chit-chatting in the vestibule, not attending or really paying attention to the service.

Then there is a young lady, newly married and just had her first child. She is about 4” 5”, and weights about 60 lbs. When she was pregnant, during her third term, the baby decided to carry her! She was once again back, svelte and annoyingly thin!

Then there is the Spanish lady. A little old lady who barely speaks English, has a prayer book in Spanish, and sits in the same spot every Sunday, prayers before a side altar and just before the priest arrives, races to her seat, but his day she was sitting in her customary seat, sound asleep! I waited anxiously for her to be surprised when the priest showed up. Nothing like the fun of seeing someone wake up and try to put themselves together with dignity!
Finally there are the two habitual late ladies, who arrive just after the priest, smile and gesture to all their friends, causing a disturbance and unsettleness to everyone around them as they unseat and bother those who have arrived on time. TLW (The Little Woman) and I argue over whether they are sisters or not, she says they are, I say they are not. I just know I’m right!

Finally there is the priest. Fresh from Africa, with a French educational background, and is learning English by reading Marvel comics, and TV. The trouble with him is two-fold.
One, I can’t understand him, and two, he likes to go one for as long as possible. MY BIGGEST FEAR IS EVENTUALLY HE WILL GET TO THE SUBJECT OF ETERNITY, AND THAT ONCE HE DOES, HE WILL GO ON FOR THAT LONG.

But I’m supposed to go to church to pray. I’m supposed to go to speak with God. Once, after a near-death experience of reading a list of things TLW left for me, I dropped down on my knees and prayed out loud: “I love you, but is this necessary?” A voice came out of the blue that stated: “THAT BETTER BE GOD YOU’RE TALKING TO!”

This priest will usually hypnotize me into a deep rest, so much so, that gentle nudges become frantic kicks from TLW to awaken me. Little does she know, I’ve written whole passages of the Bible on the inside of my eyelids to read them during the service, and am not sleeping!

Well this past Sunday, as I read, I realized I read without interruption. Surprised, I looked up and to my right sat TLW, a steady and gentle cadence to her soft breathing. When her eyes finally fluttering open, she looked at me smiling broadly at her, and she seemed to say: “OK, this once, and if you mention it, I will kill you.”

So you see dear reader, I am easily distracted!

Sunday, October 24, 2010


To everyone I Love, and I know that is many, from someone dear to me, one of my 4 sisters, who sent this to me a while back.

One day a woman's husband died, and on that clear, cold morning, in the warmth of their bedroom, the wife was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't "anymore". No more hugs, no more special moments to celebrate together, no more phone calls just to chat, no more "just one minute." Sometimes, what we care about the most gets all used up and goes away, never to return before we can say good-bye, say” I love you."

So while we have it, it's best we love it, care for it, fix it when it's broken and heal it when it's sick. This is true for marriage... and old cars... and children with bad report cards, and dogs with bad hips, and aging parents and grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it.
Some things we keep -- like a best friend who moved away or a sister-in-law after divorce. There are just some things that make us happy, no matter what.
Life is important, like people we know who are special. And so, we keep them close!

Suppose one morning you never wake up, do all your friends know you love them?

I was thinking...I could die today, tomorrow or next week, and I wondered if I had any wounds needing to be healed, friendships that needed rekindling or three words needing to be said.

Let every one of your friends know you love them. Even if you think they don't love you back, you would be amazed at what those three little words and a smile can do. And just in case I'm gone tomorrow.

Live for today because tomorrow is not promised.


Saturday, October 23, 2010


Controls where I’m going!

Or, the agony of the feet!

Traveling a strange city on a strange rail system can be very interesting.

“On 17 July 1938, Douglas Corrigan took off from Brooklyn's Floyd Bennett airfield in a tiny single-engine plane. Corrigan had filed a flight plan for California, but 29 hours later he arrived in Ireland, claiming his compasses had failed and that he had accidentally flown the wrong way. Although Corrigan never quite admitted it, his 'mistake' was surely a ruse to circumvent aviation authorities who had turned down his request to make a trans-Atlantic flight. Corrigan's stunt caught the public fancy; he was given a hero's welcome on his return to New York, and "Wrong-Way Corrigan" became a popular nickname for anyone who made a big blunder or did things backwards. Corrigan published his biography, That's My Story, in 1938.”

Or so someone says.
But if he had TLW (The Little Woman) reading a map for him, he would have made his flight plan as he filed it!

It seemed every time we emerged from a subway in Chicago, TLW would point us in one direction, and we would discover we were going in the opposite way! Now that is not to say it is her fault, because I could have taken the map and got us just as lost, but she DID have the maps.

My feet would be crying out loud, saying: “Take a taxi or a bus or the train!!!!”

I think of that map as a remote control. Yes, she has that too. Some nights she will fall asleep with her hand of the channel changer, as we travel through the networks at a breath taking pace, and I suddenly realize what is going on!

Friday, October 22, 2010


I have been invited to $750 a plate dinner at the American Medical Association in May! This means a tuxedo and a dressy dress for TLW (The Little Woman)

“Why” you ask? “Why that schmuck when they could have invited me?”

Well, when you design a 100 Anniversary book of a college in Manhattan, you get to go too! However, this will be special, because a lot of prominent people in the medical field will get to see my book, as well as big shots in city and federal government! A part of me gets around in a way!

This to me is very exciting: it caps my career. I think that probably it will be one of the last projects I will ever do in my life, and it is nice to go out in a blaze of glory.

I know I am sounding like I am bragging, and I apologize for the annoyance, but I am so happy that this is where my work will wind up, or down as the case may be.

So, a little hoity-toity feeling, as I step out into the world of the AMA, at a fancy schmancy restaurant, my book the center of all that attention by some really cool dignataries!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


As in Ahhhhhh $%(#!

Went to the dentist the other day because I have a problem biting down. The young dentist, young enough to be my grandson, took a look in my mouth as I explained my complaint.

“When I bite down, I feel this discomfort, it is slight, but it feels like the beginning of something. It seems to come from the root of the tooth. But I’m no dentist.

Dentist “HMMMMM”

“It hurts only when I bite sometimes.”

Dentist “HMMMMM”

“Do you think it is the gum?”

Dentist “HMMMMM, it’s been a while since you were here!”


Dentist “Bite down on this, and move your teeth from side to side.”

“Well, I’m retired now, and I can’t seem to find the time anymore to visit the office!”

Dentist “HAHA! HMMMMM!”

“Er, maybe I should get a job so I can find some time to come to visit ?”

Dentist “HMMMMM, HAHA! Well, I can’t seem to find the problem, what we will do (WE?) is let you go for a while, it may be a very fine crack in the tooth that is not showing up on the x-ray, and I can’t seem to find. After a while it will get worse, then I can work on it.”

Translation: “Your teeth are fine, if I fix it now, there goes my vacation fund for Hawaii, and probably my dental school payments for the next ten years!”

So boys and girls, as I venture through life, and you see me wincing, don’t take it personally, I’m just helping my dentist enjoy life!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010



The other day, TLW (The Little Woman) asked me if I would sharpen some pencils for her with my electronic pencil sharpener in my office. Being a dutiful husband, I said: “Yes Dear”. When you commit to doing something, just like marriage, it is for the long haul. This was no exception.

This morning I was busily working on a freelance job, being it is Columbus Day, and TLW appeared in my office, a frown etched across her face. Etched frowns get my attention, especially if she is cooking that day.

TLW: “Where is that pencil sharpener you used for me the other day” (She is holding a large fistful of #2 yellow pencils, all brand new.)

“Right behind me.” (I start to click ‘Command save’ on the computer and make mental notes as to where I am in a critical juncture.)

TLW: “I want to sharpen these pencils.” She holds up all the pencils.

“OK, Give them to me and I will sharpen them for you.”

TLW: “No, I don’t want to disturb you, just get up from that chair so I can do them myself.” (I WAS in here way, after all!)

After a while, she stops.

“You finished?”

TLW: “No, I think the sharpener overheated! Would you sharpen the rest for me when you get a chance?”

Somehow, I am still trying to figure that one out!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Recently I held my first real organized meeting of the BHS Class of ’64 Reunion Committee, since our reunion in May. Most of the originals were in attendance, and I even went, since it was held in my house. This is their way of making sure I show up!

Our reunion was probably one of the most successful ever, and we did a lot of unique things, and it lasted over three days. All through the process of planning the reunion, I swore to myself that there would not be a reunion, because we were not getting anything done, or so it seems.

For over a year, committee meetings were held mostly at my house, around the dining room table, where coffee and cake was the order of the day. Conversations centered around: grandchildren and who is still alive from our graduation class. (I AM HAPPY TO REPORT, I AM STILL ALIVE, OR I FORGOT TO LIE DOWN) A lot of laughing and joking was the centerpiece of our method of discussion. We started in late August or early September, and ended them in May of the following year. Again, in all that time, I swore we would NOT have a reunion, because nothing was getting done! Well, obviously I was wrong! It turned out great as far as reunions go.

This time we decided we had so much fun organizing our reunion, let’s have more meetings, and someone came up with the idea of a cruise! We had our first meeting, and typically, there was enough cake to cause an epidemic of diabetes, stories about grandchildren and jokes to put Milton Berle to shame if he were alive today. (I am still alive, by the way)

As we broke up the meeting, I thought: “No way we get this off the ground!”
But, we decided on a date, a destination, a cruise ship and a cost, in just the first meeting! This is an amazing group of committee members!

Monday, October 18, 2010


Sometimes I wonder what is wrong with me. Now I know TLW (The Little Woman) my two sons from my first marriage, and if I have a friend, he/she will tell you a lot! Hard to believe? Well I was in the doctor’s office the other day, my cardiologist insists on seeing me every six months, and I was reading a New Yorker Magazine.

Across the way from me was an elderly gentleman in his late 70’s I guess, and he was reading a book. So what you say. Well he had on very thick glasses, and the book was about nose length away from his eyes. When he read, his head moved along the sentence, and you could see him drop to the next line, and move on to the end of the sentence, sentence after sentence!

I was fascinated by the struggle the poor man had, and thought he should get a magnifying glass or some other aid to help him read. Apparently, the book was very interesting, and he never took his head out of it. So if he could read with ease, he would really enjoy himself.

I went back to the magazine, and I started to wonder what the book was he was reading. He was facing me, and stooped over with the paperback, so it was hard to see the cover, until that is, when he momentarily straightened up. I swear, I think there is something wrong with me, and I stifled a rather large laugh from going out of my mouth.

You ready for this? The name of the book:
Take Your Eye Off The Ball!

If you don’t think that was funny, I still do.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


The following was in the form of an e-mail from a fellow ‘Eye-talian”: CORINNE CAMACHO-KUSTKA, a reader of this blogue, who opened up a whole can of Italian memories that are really ‘home-made’!

Grazie Corinne!

What great days they were. I miss my grandparents in the Bronx...and those sunday dinners were we were all crammed into the basement and no one could move before or after the meal....

This is priceless and brings back true memories for me as an Italian!!!

Subject: Eye-talian

E y e - T a l i a n

Why do Italians hate Jehovah's Witnesses?
Because Italians hate all witnesses.

Do you know why most men from Italy are named Tony?
On the boat over to America
they put a sticker on them that said
(To New York )

You know you're Italian when . . . .
You can bench press 325 pounds,
Shave twice a day and still cry
when your mother yells at you.

You carry your lunch in a produce bag
because you can't fit two cappicola sandwiches,
4 oranges, 2 bananas and pizzelles
into a regular lunch bag.

Your mechanic, plumber, electrician, accountant,
travel agent and lawyer are all your cousins.

You have at least 5 cousins living in the same town
or on the same block.
All five of those cousins are named after your
grandfather or grandmother.

You are on a first name basis with at least
8 banquet hall owners

You only get one good shave from a disposable razor.

If someone in your family grows beyond 5' 9",
it is presumed his Mother had an affair.

There were more than 28 people in your bridal party.

You netted more than $50,000 on your first communion.

know you're Italian when . . . .

Your grandfather had a fig tree.

You eat Sunday dinner at 1:00.

Christmas Eve . . . only fish.

Your Mom's meatballs are the best.

You've been hit with a wooden spoon or had a shoe thrown at you.

Clear plastic covers on all the furniture.

You know how to pronounce
"manicotti" and "mozzarella."

You fight over whether it's called
"sauce" or "gravy."

You've called someone a "mamaluke."

And you understand "bada bing".

Not enough? Here’s more…

Italians have a $40,000 kitchen, but use the $259 stove from Sears in the basement to cook.
There is some sort of religious statue in the hallway, living room, bedroom, front porch and backyard.
The living room is filled with old wedding favors with poofy net bows and stale almonds (they are too pretty to open).
A portrait of the Pope and Frank Sinatra hang in the dining room.
God forbid if anyone EVER attempted to eat 'Chef Boy-ar-dee', 'Franco American', 'Ragu', 'Prego', or anything else labeled as Italian in a jar or can.
Meatballs are made with pork, veal and beef. Italians do not care about cholesterol.
Turkey is served on Thanksgiving AFTER the manicotti, gnocchi, lasagna, and
minestrone or shcarole soup.
If anyone EVER says ESCAROLE, slap 'em in the face -- it's SHCAROLE.

Sunday dinner was at 1:00 PM sharp. The meal went like this... The table was set with everyday dishes. It doesn't matter if they don't match. They're clean; what more do you want?
All the utensils go on the right side of the plate and the napkin goes on the left.
A clean kitchen towel was put at Nonna's & Papa's plates because they won't use napkins.
Homemade wine and bottles of 7-UP are on the table.

First course, Antipasto... Change plates.
Second course, macaroni. All pasta was called macaroni... Change plates.
Third course, roast beef, potatoes and vegetables... Change plates.
- would you eat the salad drenched in homemade oil & vinegar dressing... Change plates.
Next course, fruit & nuts - in the shell - on paper plates because you ran out of the real ones.
Last was coffee with anisette (Fernet if you lived in my house)for Nonna, 'American' coffee for the rest - with hard cookies (biscotti) to dunk in the coffee.

The kids would go out to play.
The men would go lay down. They slept so soundly that you could do brain surgery on them without anesthesia.
The women cleaned the kitchen.
We got screamed at by Mom or Nonna, and half of the sentences were English, the other half Italian.
Italian mothers never threw a baseball in their life, but could nail you in the head with a shoe thrown from the kitchen while you were in the living room.

Other things particular to Italians...

The prom dress that Zia Ceserina made you cost only $20.00, which was for the material.
The prom hairdo was done free by Cousin Angela.
Turning around at the prom to see your entire family, including your Godparents, standing in the back of the gym... PRICELESS!

True Italians will love this.
Those of you who are married to Italians will understand this.
And those who wish they were Italian, and those who are friends with Italians, will remember with a smile. Then they'll forward this to their Italian friends with love or a reasonable facsimile.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


When I moved on my block over 22 tears ago, we were one of the youngest families in the street. A little while ago I went to my neighbor Carole next door to pick up my mail. She had an anguished look on her face, so I enquired the source of anguish.

“Carole, you look like you just got hit with a huge tax bill, someone shot the dog, and your daughter eloped at the age of 11! What’s wrong?”

Carole: “Oh, if only it was that simple.”


Carole: “Joe, me, Alison and Mary are all turning 50 this coming year!”

I could see her upper lip curl as a short whimper passed from her lips.

Crest fallen, she slowly moved to the almost empty bottle of Tequila, on its side, an ash tray spilling over from cigarette butts, and a half eaten cheesecake, speaking volumes about her despair.

“Carole, can we talk about it?”

Carole: “What’s the use, I want my youth back, and I want it now!”

“Carole, put that cheesecake down, don’t do anything foolish! For God’s sake, get control!”

Carole: “Control? You want me to take control! How do I do that wise guy?”

“Carole, it could mean one nasty block party! Just think of all the Tequila shots you can get Richie and me to knock back! Think of the …”

Carole: “Yeah, it could, we could go well into the next millennium with this little puppy, a 50 year old bash, just think of it!”

“Better still, you could call it the ‘150 year old dear old girls celebration!’ Neighbors from around the block will attend, balloons, party hats, Tequila, maybe some cheesecake! Gosh, you could even order a nice box of cigars for yourselves, you ladies will be the envy of the hood!”

Carole: “Well, since you put it that way… do you think the girls will feel that way too?”

“Sure, just tell them there will be cheesecake there, lots and lots of cheesecake.”

Carole: “What if they don’t like cheesecake?”

“Well, the cigars should make them happy.”

Friday, October 15, 2010


Of my mind!

On our recent visit to Chicago, TLW (The Little Woman) and I went to what once was known as the Sears Tower, now known as the Willis Tower. The building at: 233 S. Wacker Drive, stands over 110 stories tall, and our job was to journey by elevator to the 103 floor, better known as the: “Skydeck”!

Once you enter into the elevator, you climb at a rate that takes you 103 stories in less than one minute’s time! Upon arriving, it is an amazing view, as you can look out and see on a clear day, 4 different states!

But the best part is something very unique, and it is something not everyone would appreciate. Taking one side of the building’s windows, an enclosed platform made only of glass, 1 and a quarter inch thick sticks out of the building! Actually there are a few of these, all on the same side of the structure. It is what they the owners of the building call the: “Skydeck”.

TLW, my very brave wife, refused to go near the window, let alone the Skydeck. I on the other hand, as you all know by now, am in need of some mental observation, decided to step out. Oh, I was a little apprehensive as I pushed one foot in front of the other, but I did summon up enough courage to step out, and 1.) Open my eyes and 2.) Look down! It is a very exciting thing to do, and the trust I put into both the glass, the builder of the Skydeck, and my bowels was amazing! The feeling of looking at the building from the other side of the wall at 103 stories is something else. Looking down, you kind of have a temporary feeling that you will fall or drop. I had that same sensation almost 40 years ago in a church in East Islip.

Once you get used to it, which is almost immediately, you feel like experiencing it more, and a giddy sensation comes over you, one that says: “DON’T HAVE TO CHANGE MY UNDERWARE!”

I did manage to get TLW to shoot a picture of me by 1.) Setting the camera to zoom lens so she could be close enough, and 2.) Got her to open her eyes long enough to take the picture!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


As we toured the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows, the company I was keeping awed me. Works by such great luminaries as Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, John LaFarge and Louis Comfort Tiffany completely surrounded me! These were the masters of the art of stained glass, and each piece was a thing of beauty!

Located on the Navy Pier, one of Chicago’s most popular places to visit in the summer and fall, I was also overcome by the magnificent view of the cityscape, from a distance. The skyline is one of the most beautiful in the world, rich in not only architectural beauty, but also the history behind it.

As I went from room to room, viewing the different stained glass works of art, they were all framed, and lit from behind. Attached were little notations with dates and names of artists and for whom the works were executed. The place had a great many visitors and may one could not understand if they lived in this country.

Suddenly I came across one frame that sat in a corner, but not lit from behind. My curiosity was stirred by the fact that like all the rooms, this particular room was dimly lit, with no light emanating from behind this one particular picture frame. I really wanted to see this masterpiece and so devised a simple plan. After all, after viewing everything before this particular piece, why miss something that may be the most beautiful, simply because the rear light is out.

Standing near by was an Asian lady and her husband. He too, like me was carrying his camera around trying to get the shots off without the glare of the flash. She was watching me looking at the picture frame. Her stare was intent, and called her husband to watch. I figured she was telling him to watch my technique in shooting through the glass and dealing with the glare of the flash. Everybody was suddenly still, watching me, making me feel self-conscious! I raise the camera and aim, fire and lower the camera. When I look up, I see the lady almost on top of me, as she says:

Looking at the camera results, I realize what her problem was. There was nothing in the frame for where the stained glass should have been!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


The dinner was so-so, and frankly, so were the drinks, but being a good citizen, I asked for the check. The crowd was the young after-work one, where they are happy go and be away from the office, and so the noise level was high. This must be the typical Thursday night crowd at Boston Blackie, the restaurant that caters to all types, at all times in the great city of Chicago.

The waitress was an amiable young lady with a smile, and every time she smiled, her tip went up, and when she interrupted my meal by asking if everything was all right, causing me to lose my place in the conversation with TLW (The Little Woman) her tip went down!

It was bad enough I couldn’t read the menu because the place was so dark, but the menu was the least of my problems. I asked for the check, and Happy Face brought it over.

I read over the list of things on the check and come across two items that catch my eye.

“Oh Miss! Miss, would you come here, please?”


“What is this: two items listed ROCKS $1?”

“Oh, well basically, you ordered two drinks on the rocks, and that charge is for the rocks.”

“You mean basically you are charging me for ice water!”

I thank smiley and take out my credit card and give her both the card and check. She returns with both and I deduct two dollars from the tip and a note on the bottom of the tab:

“You charge for ice cubes, SHAME ON YOU!”

As we leave, I tell TLW I deducted the $2 from her tip, and she says, “Well, you know she was only doing her job! The restaurant is at fault!”

“Give me a break, she didn’t have to put it down, ‘ice cubes $2, unbelievable’!

“Well they got away with it”

“Oh yeah, open your bag.”

I whip out of my pocket the black linen dinner napkin, and drop it in.

“I think we are even.”

If you do the math, the less than one ounce of rocks cost more than the steak per ounce!

Call me cheap if you want, but I think the suckers at Boston Blackie got it slipped by them like they thought they’d slip it by me.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Being how I am recipient of a by-pass operation, a sister of mine, I have so many I lose track, sent me this interesting little bit of info, that I pass on to you dear readers, because I love you all, and want you to live!

This is good information! We did not know that you should not lie down while waiting for the EMT

Heart attack info NEW ASPIRIN/ Serious stuff, no joke!!

Just a reminder to all: purchase a box, keep one in your car, pocketbook, wallet, bedside, etc.

Something that we can do to help ourselves.
Bayer is making crystal aspirin to dissolve under the tongue. They work much faster than the tablets.
Why keep aspirin by your bedside?

About Heart Attacks

There are other symptoms of an heart attack besides the pain on the left arm.
One must also be aware of an intense pain on the chin, as well as nausea and lots of sweating, however these symptoms may also occur less frequently.
Note: There may be NO pain in the chest during a heart attack.. The majority of people (about 60%) who had a heart attack during their sleep, did not wake up. However, if it occurs, the chest pain may wake you up fr om your deep sleep.

If that happens, immediately dissolve two aspirins in your mouth and swallow them with a bit of water.
CALL 911
- say "heart attack!"
- say that you have taken 2 aspirins..
- phone a neighbor or a family member who lives very close by
- take a seat on a chair or sofa near the front door, and wait for their arrival and...
~ DO NOT lie down ~

A Cardiologist has stated that, if each person, after receiving this e-mail, sends it to 10 people, probably one life can be saved!

I have already shared the information- - What about you?

Do forward this message; it may save lives!

Monday, October 11, 2010


On the heels of yesterday’s blogue, I come back with another interesting point of view. It seems that some people in this world, mostly educators and child psychologists feel we are raising a bunch of nincompoops! According to a Newsday article, the kids today are growing up with push button technology, and electronic devices. According to one mother of a teenager, her daughter can’t use a can opener, as most cans come with pull-tops these days. If a can has no pull top, the girl slumps her shoulders and moves on.

“Second-graders who can't tie shoes or zip jackets. Four-year-olds in Pull-Ups diapers. Five-year-olds in strollers. Teens and preteens befuddled by can openers and ice-cube trays. College kids who've never done laundry, taken a bus alone or addressed an envelope.”

The use of cell phones and Google make it so that children no longer figure things out for themselves. Some teenagers and now soon to be adults, can't even write in script, they have to print!

Then there is the other extreme written by Newsday:

Lenore Skenazy, who writes a popular blog called Free-Range Kids, based on her book by the same name, has a different take.
Skenazy agrees that we are partly to blame for our children's apparent incompetence, starting when they are infants.
"There is an onslaught of stuff being sold to us from the second they come out of the womb trying to convince us that they are nincompoops," she said.
Despite all this, Skenazy thinks today's kids are way smarter than we give them credit for: "They know how to change a photo caption on a digital photo and send it to a friend. They never took typing but they can type faster than I can!"

Sunday, October 10, 2010



I was reading the newspapers the other day, when I came across an article about President Obama’s idea of extending the school year a month more. He feels and I agree, that we are lagging behind as a nation in teaching our children.

I have been a proponent of this concept when #1 Son started his first summer vacation from Kindergarten. Being ever vigilant of the education system in this great land of ours, I felt the strong need for one more month of peace, I mean education for the kids. It seems the children in Germany and Japan and other economic powerhouses are all ahead of us in this area, their children know so much more!

Turning to TLW (The Little Woman) I mentioned the article, stating the President’s position. TLW replied that she felt it was too late for that. Our kids are all out of the school system by now, so once again: we get screwed! Recalling years ago, she mentioned her Aunt Elsie, a devote Catholic and her Dad’s sister. Aunt Elsie was a sweet lady who had to raise 8 children by herself, because her husband passed on at a young age. She once told her brother in front of TLW: “Jim, I’d be all for birth control, if they made it retroactive!”

I guess I kind of felt that way too about the President’s ideas on the length of school years!

Saturday, October 09, 2010


Or, the hell with it!

It seems that my teeth are giving me a little problem, so I figured I go to the dentist, where they can practice their black magic on me.

Picking up the phone to make an appointment at 1:00 pm, it rings about 20 times before someone casually answers it.

“HELLLOOOO, Sachem Dental, can I help you?”
Me: “Yes, I need to make an appointment with Dr. Mazzola.”
“Why are you calling?”
Me: “I just said, I need to make an appointment with Dr. Mazzola!”
“Are you a patient of Sachem Dental Group?”
Me: “Yes, that’s why I’m calling you.”
“Have you ever been here before?”
Me: “uh… Yes, I have.”
“And what’s the problem?”
Me: “I need a little work.”
“I have to check the roster to see first if you are a patient, please hold on.”

I have a strong suspicion at this point that the wait is going to be long, because the recorded message is telling me that it understands there is apprehension when going there, so for my consideration, there is a nice relaxing waiting room, with a very loud TV, and where the little bastards run around screaming to heighten my waiting pleasure! Then he begins the first chapter of War and Peace.

We are half way into the book when the gal gets back on the phone.

“Okaaay, you ARE on our roster. Now let’s see when we can fit you in.”
Me: “I can’t make it on Monday, Thursday or Friday next week, but Tuesday and Wednesday are good.”
“Hmmmm, let’s see, let me check the calendar, can you hold on a sec, and enjoy the rest of the book.”

There is a very long pause, as now I’m in my robe, and ready for bed.

“Okaaay, we can fit you in on Thursday at 10:00 am!”
Me: “No, I told you, Monday, Thursday and Friday are no good!”
“Well then, how about Friday? Say at 10?”
Me: “No, I told you, Monday, Thursday and Friday are no good!”

Hmmmm…. Can you hold a minute? The mechanical voice comes on again and starts reading the first chapters of Dr. Zhivago, when it is interrupted.

I can fit you in on the 12th of next week?
Me: “ I’ll take it.”

God I hope she isn’t the dentist!

Friday, October 08, 2010


Years ago there was a football player who made a lot of money, but couldn’t speak English, his native tongue. I think his name was: He Hate Me. That is right; He Hate Me! No omission of letters that was his name.

Then there was boxer, who had difficulties with his native tongue, describing how he felt about his soon to be opponent: “I has great hateness for him!”

Recently TLW (The Little Woman) was watching a home buying program where you follow the people looking to buy homes, usually second homes on the island of Tahiti or Fiji, people barely under the age of 24, and looking fit and trim.

The wife was particularly annoying on this show. Beautiful, fit and trim, no fat, she had to state her opinion about every room, every stick of furniture, and at every moment.

Me: “Boy is she annoying!”

TLW: “They are both fitness experts, they measure everything they eat, and eat five or six times a day!”

Me: “Well, another reason to hate them!”

I ask you, why do they have to measure, can’t they estimate? I look at a pork chop and say: “Oh, that looks good!” not, “That is 3 ounces, and 6 inches by 3.25 inches!”

Frankly, it doesn’t stay on my plate long enough to get measured or even estimated. If you want to estimate, guess how long it will take for me to eat it.

People so young, with the money to burn on a Fiji Island, complaining that the bathroom is separate from the house! As the real estate agent said: “Oh, it’s not an outhouse, just a separate bathroom.”

I remember looking at homes many years ago at age 26, and the garage was separate. Do you think the agent said: “Oh, not a outgarage, just separate!”

I frankly think that there should be a law that states: “Married couples, under the age of 28, may NOT have a second house, OR be free of debt. Doing so will warrant ten to fifteen years in a rented mouse infested apartment, for not suffering like the rest of us.”

I have great hateness for the spoiled Me Me Me generations attitudes.

Thursday, October 07, 2010


As we sat in the diner, waiting for our coffee order to come, our idle chatting was interrupted by the waitress. Plopping down two cups of coffee, she then laid down a small dish of Half-and-half pods on the table. Most of the pods were upside down, and TLW (The Little Woman) noticed it. Casually, without any fanfare, she started to right side up the few that were on her side of the dish.

I usually don’t pay too much attention to little things like Half-and-half pods, but her little actions caught my attention, as I laughed to myself. It seemed obvious to me that she wanted to fix them all!

Reaching out, I slowly turned my side of the plate over to her side, as she watched, sneaking a glance up at me.

Not saying a word, I waited for her to react, and she didn’t disappoint me.

TLW: “You’re trying to aggravate me!”

Me: “Oh, go ahead, fix ‘em.”

She immediately went to work on them until they were all standing, right side up! This, from a woman I think of as very sensible, no nonsense, let’s not even laugh, let alone have any fun!

I think it important that her mental wellbeing is considered.

There was a big look of relief as she surveyed the pods, and they were all to her satisfaction! I assure you, if I were the one rearranging the pods, it would be on my record until I died!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


Enough about Ed Sullivan, he couldn’t sing dance or tell jokes, and he certainly couldn’t act! Now his show is another story. Recently I was watching a Channel 13 fund raising attempt, where they make you feel guilty if you don’t join, then play something you really like, stop it for a while and bore you with another endless appeal. The people who do the appeal are usually old news who like to reminisce about what is being featured, will talk like an authority on it, and I miss it all, because I went to the bathroom!

Thank God for picture-in-picture! I usually put on something else while the appeal is being made, then when they return to the good part, I return through the miracle of picture-in-picture. Life is good!

I always hated the Ed Sullivan show because it was part of my Sunday evening blues. The thought that the weekend was over, school or work was within hours, and if it was winter, that made it even worse. I usually stayed until the final roll of credits faded to black, then and only then did I cede that the weekend was over.

There were some acts that I enjoyed however, Topo Gigio the mouse, The Beatles when they appeared or some of the Rock AND Roll bands of the 60’s. All entertained me, and of course there was Stiller and Meara, a great team if ever there was one. Funny how acts like Jonathan Winters, Shelly Berman, Tony Bennett and such all owe their success in part to Ed Sullivan. Yet in spite of Ed’s liberal attempts at introducing controversial acts like the doors and Jim Morrison, the show still adhered to such craziness as demanding that Jim Morrison NOT use the word “Higher” in his lyrics, because of the prevailing drug culture! Censorship was not dead on the Ed Sullivan show.

Old Ed had a running feud with Walter Winchell, and in 1932 as a New York newspaper columnist Ed Sullivan became a show business personality, he was hired by the CBS network as a potential rival for radio and newspaper commentator Walter Winchell, Sullivan took to the air with a heady combination of gossip and entertainment. Among the future radio luminaries introduced on Sullivan's program were Jack Benny and Jack Pearl (aka Baron Munchhausen). So, the switch from radio to TV was a seamless transition!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


I have been asked by the board of directors of my daughters’ agency to join the search committee to select a new Executive Director to replace the old one, who is retiring to the golf course. That is where all old Executive Directors go to die!

This is a very important mission to be on, and I did it some 20 years ago when the old executive director was the young executive director, and was just getting tutored on playing golf.One of the things you look for is that they speak English, (a good command helps), they know how to get to work from where they live, and that they do know where they live.

Meeting in the conclave of the search committee, we have to be discreet in what we say outside of that room, and not even tell our wives, and if we have only one wife, don’t tell her either.

People in the agency see you and say to themselves: “He knows who the next top dog will be!” We ask these people to not talk out loud, because not only is it strange, we don’t know until the whole thing takes its course. This requires: reading many resumes, discussions about who to interview, them long hours of interviews, then more discussions about who to call back for second interviews and then sitting through even longer interviews which are tedious sessions of listening to what they think, then, the final meetings to determine who gets the job. This does not even include our discussions about the deli service that feeds us!
Once the decision is made, we feel like a big load is off our shoulders. But I liken it to the conclave of Cardinals, who when they aren’t chasing the pennant, are electing popes. As we entered the meeting room for the last time to hear the second interviews, I asked the President of the board, if after we decide, would we burn some straw? His feeling was that only I would think of

Monday, October 04, 2010


Just when I thought it was safe to tip toe out of the maternity ward, I have to turn around again! My handsome nephew David and his lovely wife Kim, had their first child, Daxton, whose name causes my spell check to ring out an alarm! Daxton is pronounced: “Dexton” and is used to employ the makers of spell check to keep busy.

Actually it is a unique French name that means ‘leader’, and is also a French town!
It also means that my nephew and his wife will be getting up at 2 in the morning. I thought that was an interesting thing to tell everyone. (Better them than me)

I am now the great uncle of a lot of kids, and we have one in the ‘bullpen’ sort of. My nephew Chris and his wife, Kim (Another Kim), are not pregnant that I know of, but they could start warming up at any time now!

David is my baby sister’s son. This is her first grandchild, and by next year, will talk more than she does!

It is interesting now that my mother has three new great grandchildren in a little over a year. The first this past year: Alexander John Schneider, was named that because the parents wanted to see how many letters they could stick the poor kid with in his name. They figure that if he spends his time learning how to write his name, he wouldn’t get into any trouble.

Then there is Ryan Mathew Dzicek. The mother is Sicilian, the father is half Italian, half Polish, so naturally they gave the kid not one, but two Irish names!

Then along comes Daxton. The thinking here is that we give the kid a name that is spelled one way, pronounced a little differently, and we throw in the French connection because no one is French!

I was named after my older sister, who was named first. That is her name, First. We call her First, or Firsty,

But all this aside,

Sunday, October 03, 2010


Years ago, in Brooklyn, on the corner of my block sat a bar and it sold pizza and Italian take-out, like hot meatball sandwiches. The neighborhood itself was a culinary wonder, as one could get groceries, deli, fish, vegetables and fruits, all fresh from mom and pop stores. They were convenient and the prices may have been a little high, but that is what you patronized.

That bar on the corner made the best pizza I ever ate, and on Friday nights, I would go with Dad to order the pizza at the bar and as we waited, I would smell the pizza being made. Along with the smell of the bar, probably beer, my appetite was at full alert for a 5 year-old. To this day, there is no pizza like it. I think it really is the first time you have anything it is the best, nothing can really compare to the surprise and taste of something that you genuinely love for the first time.

Dad was raised making pizza, and growing up as a teenager, worked in my grandmother’s pizzeria, where the whole of East New York, Brooklyn was their territory. Being how he was raised on it, he became very particular about the ingredients and how they were used. The piecrust had to be just so, not rubbery, or dough tasting. There should be a nice color to it, and it needed to be finished underside, but to a perfect color. Sauce was also important to Dad, and every time he ate at my house when I married, I worried about where I got the pizza and if he would approve of it.

Either loving or hating the pie, Dad would take a bite, and begin to analyze crust and sauce. Holding up the pie so he could look under it, like a mechanic looking for an oil leak on a car, he made his comments, and then we moved onto the sauce.

“Too acidy!” or “No flavor!” was the usual criticism.

If by chance, the pie passed his scrutiny, it was: “Now, THAT’S how you make a pie!” then went into the reasons.

Why I ordered pizza on those Friday nights he came over, I will never understand, except to say that it was TLW’s (The Little Woman’s) favorite food, AND she didn’t have to cook.

Mom would make her own pies for many years. If you wonder what Dad had to say: don’t, because if he didn’t approve, a pizza hat would be fashioned by Mom in a New York minute, to go on dear old Dad’s head!

As for me, Dad made me become a crazy person about pizza! If it isn’t my own, or from what I consider a legitimate pizzeria, I won’t eat it! If I ever bit into a Pizza Hut or Poppa John pizza, I will be seeing visions of Dad AND my grandmother in the middle of the night, harassing me! Don’t even come near me with a store bought pizza from the frozen food section! That IS crap! OK, maybe I AM a snob, but you will NEVER beat a New York style pizza, and the best of the best come from Brooklyn and Long Island pizzerias.

For years, TLW would have loved to eat the frozen or the Dominoes variety for convenience, but I would not have it. As it says on the pizza boxes: “You’ve had the rest, now try the best!”