Sunday, October 30, 2011

No Country for Dirty Old Men

At what age does one first officially become a dirty old man?

This is a rite of passage in our culture nobody talks much about.

Authors don’t chronicle its sweet blossoming. Songwriters don’t rhapsodize about the kickin’ back, lovin’ life, feelin’ groovy exuberance and sense of possibility it sets free. And rabbis don’t give sermons about how today “you are a man - that is, a dirty old one.”

You don’t even get to receive a diploma from Hugh Hefner.

I started to notice something untoward several years ago when my sexual fantasies began to change. Each and every one of them began to require a lengthy preamble explaining how it was that the young women who starred in them happened to be incredibly sexually passionate and aroused over someone who best fit the description of their dad’s bowling partner.

It is a cruel and unfair fact of life that regardless of how we older guys may look - even if we look like we’ve been dunked in a vat of hydrochloric acid - we see women our own age as more the type of person we’d prefer to have knit us a sweater or bake us a pie than engage with us in activities that may entail the shouting out of four letter words.

It ain’t fair and it ain't pretty, I know.  

But then again neither are we!

So we tend to cast our askance glances at women unlikely to cast back any kind of glance at us, askance or otherwise. Women of years a bit more tender and certainly more juicy than our own.

We lust after them. We dream about them. We try not to think about the fact that the sight of any one of us and any one of them engaged in any activity more graphic than birding is something not so long ago even we ourselves would have gagged over.

Do we approach them?

The richest, boldest, and those with the most hair among us hesitate not. After all, they can afford much better preamble writers than the rest of us.

Those blessed with fewer of the above attributes buttress their courage with a drink and hit the bathroom to comb their thinning hair and practice their fading smiles before taking the metaphorical plunge, although most often the "plunge" turns out to be pratfall.

You and I down half a dozen drinks and hit the head to coax what we can out of our Custer’s Land Stand of a hairline and half-hearted smiles before we venture forth to inevitably crash and burn into the sea.

So at what age does one officially become a dirty old man?

There are no dirty old men really.

There is only all of us - 67 on the outside, 27 in our hearts - trying to make sense of it all without making too big a fool out of ourselves.

Unfortunately to the rest of the world, we resemble troll dolls hitting on Barbie.

And only the best of preamble writers could ever express the most soulful hopes, desires, and dreams of our Inner Ken.    


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Interview with the Vampire

Vlad the Retailer and Barbara Walters circa 1932

Please allow me to introduce myself:  I'm a man of neither wealth nor taste.

That is, my 401 (k) took a beating just like yours recently and I'm going to need mine for a lot longer than you ever will. And as for taste, well, the Children of the Night, the music they make rocks my tuchas

Oh, and by the way, I'm not a man either.

I am the Legendary Jewish Vampire, Vlad the Retailer.

Mr. Perry Block, the proprietor of this blog,  has asked me to provide a special Halloween entry and I've been glad to  oblige.  The last time I encountered the redoubtable Mr. Block --- that is everyone who meets him doubts him --- I was attempting to frighten him and his young son during a vampiric onslaught of his native city of Philadelphia last year.

Now I'm used to being able to incite the kind of terror in humans that Bernie Madoff  feels whenever he hears the words "you know, your new cellmate likes you." But last year the vampiric craze was at its height and I was viewed as simply the Vampire of the Month by Mr. Block and thoroughly unable to scare him.

And Perry Block is someone who runs screaming at the sight of Larry King!

How did I  --- a nice Jewish boy voted "Most Likely To Be Drawn & Quartered by Anti-Semites"  in my 1257 high school graduating class at Transylvania's  Ecole Speciale for Blasphemous Vermin --- come to be known as the Legendary Jewish Vampire, Vlad the Retailer? 

I was employed by the firm of Shylock and Sons and my job was to audit the monthly output of fecal matter from the hovels of peasants of the realm. The job was fraught with danger from feral wolves, wild boar, and the toothless haglike spouses of audited peasants who daily lunged at me under the highly mistaken impression that "once you go Jewish, you'll never be bluish."

One night I met a lustrous blonde shiksa who seemed quite interested in learning all about the Kosher custom of never mixing meat with dairy, and believe me, I had no intention of serving her any dairy that eve!

I stole a kiss!  And then she stole my jugular!  And thereafter it was eternal life as one of the Undead,  nightly seeking out the blood of humans for my ages-old sustenance, and a great deal of work with Abbott and Costello in the early 1950's. 

Hey Abbott!!!   I loved that little guy!

I've submitted to one previous personal interview back in 1932 with Barbara Walters.   Although well along in her middle years at the time, Ms. Walters was still a tasty morsel  and I wanted to chow down on her.   Good thing I didn't because I'm really hoping she can get me in to meet Paul McCartney

Had a man-crush on him since I was 782!  

The interest in vampires having greatly waned today, I've decided to take a straight job. I'm replacing Daniel Radcliffe in "How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying" on Broadway in  November.  

Say, why don't you come see the show?  I'll get you comped.   Afterwards we could go get something to eat.

Oh, no doesn't have to be a big deal.  

Just a quick bite.


Monday, October 24, 2011

The Kardashian Kard

Feeling anything, Mr. President?
Thought not!

Just when it seemed like President Obama was on a bit of a winning streak with his Libyan strategy working out as smoothly as a scriptwriter's dream, Fate has intervened to hand the Republican presidential hopefuls a brand new card.

The "Kardashian Kard."

"It is an outrage," Rick Perry declared  late last week, "for this President to state that he doesn't 'like it' when his daughters watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians!"

What don't you like, Mr. President?  Upstanding members of the American 1% making money the old-fashioned way  --- through personal contacts, superficial attributes, and unmitigated hype?  Or would  you rather throw yourself in with the rabble 99% who work by the sweat of their brow, that is, whenever they can find any brow to sweat in?"  

"And this President shows his socialist stripes," chimed in Herman Cain, "when he says  his daughters are prohibited from watching television during the week unless it's for school!

Without TV blasting morning , noon, and night seven days a week, how is America's next generation going to learn the jingles and catch-phrases of American capitalism? Who's going to obnoxiously push parents to buy the sugary drinks, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Count Chocula Cereal, and pizza, pizza, PIZZA! that fuel the engines of the American economy?

Who are you, sir?  The Tiger Mom?"  

"The reason this President has made these ludicrous statements about the Kardashians," Michele Bachmann tweeted, "is because he personally has no physical attraction  whatsoever toward Kim Kardashian, if you know what I'm tweeting!" 

I'll bet Barack Obama has never once cracked open a People or an Us Magazine with a Kim Kardashian photo spread,  creased it firmly at the page with  the sultriest, hottest, lowest cut photos going, and propped it strategically against a pillow --- just as every red-blooded, Jesus loving, gun toting American male from sea to shining sea has done no end of times!

I, Michele Bachmann, would never associate with a man like that, and until this President's out of office, I'm simply going to stare ahead blankly!"

Will the Kardashian Kard prove successful for the GOP?  President Obama is taking no chances. 

Next Thursday he welcomes Snooki to the White House for an official visit.

Word is he's working feverishly on Rosetta Stone, Jersey Shore Edition so 
when she arrives, he can greet her in her native tongue! 


Friday, October 21, 2011

The Little Emoticon


The Little Emoticon had a smile
that could cheer up just about anybody
 .... except you! 

Another Modern Children's Classic
By Perry Block

One upon a time, there was a very nice and kindly man named Gil Petto who lived in a pleasant little town named Collodiville, somewhere far, far away. 

When he was young, Gil had tried to find success as an actor, but he was continually cast in subpar theatrical productions such as The Smell of Music, Rent with an Option to Buy, and Spiderman: Turn Off the Reviews. He retired from show business to become an accountant only to discover he was allergic to the number "8."  Finally he found a career for himself selling used dental floss.

Gil had been unlucky in love as well. For most of his life, he had dreamed of a wife and family. He especially wanted to have a son, but he would have been content with a butch daughter as well.

Marital bliss, however, was not to be. Gil married an attractive but pretentious woman who, knowing Gil was a failed actor and accountant who sold used dental floss, naturally planned for their home in the Hamptons to be constructed in a sort of Beaux Arts style as contrasted with the retro decor of the mansion in Majorca.

After a few years and about the time that Gil's wife was beginning to realize that "biggie sizing" was to be a twice yearly "hell to the winds" frivolity, she  assuaged her frustration by taking a series of lovers. Although Gil was by nature a patient man, the discovery that fading male model Fabio now ran a home remodeling business and had signed on for a year-long renovation of his wife's panties did cause some concern.

The final straw came the day that Gil arrived home early only to find the Kansas City Chiefs and the Norman Luboff Choir arguing over who had dibs to the upstairs hall bathroom.

Crestfallen, Gil retired to a solitary life, spending virtually all his time on Twitter. But though he was lonely  --- as one tends to be when your best friends are @aplusk, @andersoncooper, and @crudface99 --- Gil did come to enjoy fashioning and implementing emoticons, those cute little smiley faces composed of keyboard keystrokes that function as the virtual laugh track of the social networking world.

(Note#1:  I may copyright that phrase. Hands off!)

One evening shortly before bed, Gil wrote a tweet he hoped would be entertaining but which frankly made Tracy Morgan's standup seem like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Gil knew that he would need a very special emoticon indeed to accompany such a tweet to con people into actually thinking it was funny.

Though not himself Jewish, Gil wanted to use the letters for the expression chai which represents L'Chaim or "to life."  Those letters are actually a het and a yud,  but Gil knew little of the Hebrew alphabet so he mistakenly typed the similar-to-het-looking letter tav.

(Note #2: So I tweaked things a bit. Whaddya going to do, call my rabbi?!!)

Gil tenderly accessed the two Hebrew letters from MS Word Symbols and gently added a simple English language colon.  And when he had completed all the keystrokes needed to create the special emoticon, like Dr. Frankenstein but without the crazed look and wild hair, he gazed upon his creation.

"My Little Emoticon!" he cried aloud. "You are beautiful!   Well, maybe not exactly Justin Bieber but ....."  

And this is what he saw:


The Little Emoticon had the happiest most cheerful smile ever, a smile which couldn't help but make even the most miserable, curmudgeonly, and misanthropic among us feel happy and cheerful too! 

Well, maybe not you.  

Gil applied The Little Emoticon to his pathetically unfunny tweet, and sure enough it became as funny as the movie Role Models starring Paul Rudd and Seann Michael Scott, also starring Jane Lynch.

And Gil was thrilled that The Little Emoticon was half Jewish as well.

"However, I do hope, My Little Emoticon, said Gil, "that you turn out to be Jewish only above the waist, not below!"

When Gil got into bed, he said aloud:

"If only The Little Emoticon could be real boy! Or a butch female, but all things being equal, I'd prefer a boy."

Nighttime passed and a blue shadow spread itself softly across Gil's PC, accompanied by the faint fluttering of wings. It was 7:00 A.M. when Gil, not quite awake, heard a voice.

"Dad?  Dad?  Is that you?" said the voice.

Through the early morning haze, Gil saw a figure. It was five feet tall, composed entirely of keyboard keystrokes, and half Jewish!   Though at this early stage of development, no telling which half was Jewish.

"Emo!  Emo! Is it really you? Or is it Memorex?"  cried Gil, overjoyed at what had taken place but also clearly showing his age as well as the reason his tweets sucked so badly and were so unfunny.

Gil Petto's impossible dream had come true ....

At first everything was wonderful.  The Little Emoticon was as gentle, sweet, and kind as his happy, cheerful smile would suggest.  He always did everything Gil asked him, ate all his vegetables including arugula, and graciously appeared in all Gil's tweets, no matter how totally and pathetically lame and unfunny they were.

However, when he went to school The Little Emoticon, being made up of keyboard keystrokes rather than flesh and blood, was made fun of by the other children. They called him mean nicknames like "Num Lock," and  told him that he would never be man enough to  "Enter," Insert," and "Page Up, Page Down," --- whatever all that meant. 

The other children's taunting made the poor Little Emoticon weep many bitter apostrophe tears which looked like this  ,,,,,,,,,,   ,,,,,,,,, from his two little colon eyes.

Gradually the other children badgered him to appear in tweets where he had no earthly reason to be:
  • He appeared in a tweet for Rupert Murdoch, his joyful smile rendering hacking of private phone accounts a hilarious thing.
  • He appeared in a tweet on behalf of Presidential candidate Herman Cain in which laughs a plenty were garnered by the sight of a cigarette dangling from his tav
  • He appeared in a tweet for the NRA extolling how truly funny it is to be gunned down by an assault rifle.
Finally came the last straw, not to be confused with the final straw earlier in our story.  Gil received a call from the police that The Little Emoticon had been found wandering around stoned-out-of-his-tav in a tweet written by comedian Bob Saget! 

Whatever was a smiley face emoticon doing in a place like that?!!! 

"Emo, my son," said a heavy-hearted Gil Petto, "I'm afraid it's all my fault for asking you to appear in my pathetically unfunny tweets."

"Dad," said The Little Emoticon, "it is not your fault.  Deep down I'm rotten, just like Eve Harrington in All About Eve, Veda in either of the two versions of Mildred Pierce,    :-(  from Perry Block's idiotic posts, or even    from Gmail itself!"

"No, No!" said Gil, " I don't believe that! Perhaps you are ill!"  Gil suddenly noticed that The Little Emoticon did look a bit green around the yud

Gil felt The Little Emoticon's forehead --- that is, the space right above his colon (Of course I realize how ridiculous that sounds!) --- and yes, Emo was burning up as hot as a Johnny Depp movie, excluding The Tourist, of course. 

"My God, Emo, you have a virus!" shouted Gil.

Gil gently lifted up The Little Emoticon and carried him over to the PC where he ran Norton 360 Premier Edition (by Symantic).

"NORTON! NORTON!"  bellowed Gil, now really showing his age.  "Scan my boy Emo for viruses right away .... BANG ZOOM!"

As it turned out, Norton found and fixed over 37 serious risks in The Little Emoticon including several cookies, which believe it or not even in 2011 I still don't know what they are but I'm sure they were delicious.

"Dad!" cried The Little Emoticon. "I may still be partially a colon, but I'm no longer an asshole!"

At once there came a blue shadow against the window and a sound of fluttering, and a young woman with two white feathery wings and a golden wand in her hand flew directly through the window into Gil's house! 

Not much of a security system Gil had; he ought to look into it.

"Hello, Gil," the woman said. "I'm The Blue Fairy.  I brought The Little Emoticon to life to comfort you in your loneliness.  Also frankly I had the weekend free; I don't know many single guys in this town."

"Thank you so much for the gift of life, Blue Fairy!"  exclaimed Gil.  "I'm sure my Dad will slip you a couple of bucks."

"That's not why I'm here, Emo," said The Blue Fairy.  I have one more very important thing to do now that you have proven your heart is good and pure --- with the help of Norton by Symantic. And don't get me started about McAfee!" 

"You're going to make my Dad's tweets funny?" asked Emo.

"No, Emo," said The Blue Fairy, "some things are beyond even my powers. Just remember from now on:  Stay True to Yourself!  Don't Appear in Lame Tweets! And Most Importantly, You Don't Have to Eat Arugula, Whatever the Hell It Is!"

With that, The Blue Fairy waved her wand over the head of The Little Emoticon.  he Little Emoticon began to feel strange.

"Dad, what's happening?!!" he called out in fright. "Is this puberty?"

The Little Emoticon was literally transforming before Gil's startled eyes! 

"Emo!" shouted Gil with joy.  "You're becoming a real boy! 

Emo's tav and yud gave way to a nose and a happy cheerful smile and an entire human body!  Emo's colon transformed itself into bright and inquisitive blue eyes and, of course, a colon.  (And that makes three colon jokes, so that's the last one, folks!)

"This is fantastic!" cried Gil as he embraced his new flesh and blood son."It's incredible what you can do with that wand."

"Thank you, Gil," said the Blue Fairy. "Maybe a little bit later you and I can get together and discuss what you can do with your wand!"

And so Emo --- The Little Emoticon no longer --- lived happily ever after with his parents Gil and Blue Fairy Petto in a pleasant little town named Collodiville, somewhere far, far away.  

As Emo grew into a young man, as Fate would have it, he did indeed prove to be Jewish only above the waist, not below! As for the other half --- well, as Fate would also have it --- Collodiville was in Italy and Gil Petto was Italian!

Now how's that for a happy ending?


Note: Positively no emoticons were harmed in the making of this blog post.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Tweeting with Larry

P-r-e-t-t-y,  P-r-e-t-t-y  Weird!

I couldn’t believe my eyes!

I was dumbstruck, totally in awe at what I saw on the computer screen!

Or was I awestruck, totally in dumb at what I saw on the computer screen?  Nah, I’ll go with the first one.

"Larry David (@LarryDavidMVY) is following you on Twitter”
…. flashed the message on my PC screen, complete with the above grinning avatar/picture of the bald Jewish sixty-ish comedy icon with whom I have absolutely nothing in common except, of course, for the icon part.

I wondered how this actually could be. Frankly I’d be thrilled if @Carrottop were following me!

But Larry David!

The day that Larry David allegedly followed me on Twitter will forever remain etched in my memory.  And if you've never had your memory etched, boy, you've no idea how much it hurts! It was July 19, 2011, and still I need a Motrin now and then.

 When I saw the amazing e-mail notice, I immediately clicked over to the Twitter page of @LarryDavidMVY to check it all out. There atop a handful of tweets was the grinning LD following approximately 70 random twitterers who --- upon closer inspection --- proved for the most part to be a rather motley crew of losers, miscreants, and cretins.

All very much like myself.

Not ten minutes earlier I had tweeted something about Larry David, and apparently Alleged LD  had chosen to follow those tweeters who had recently cared enough to send their very best. Well, that explained the ragtag raft of followers --- me as well as the guy whose Twitter page was dedicated to the proposition that not only is Barack Obama the Anti-Christ, he’s hopelessly incompetent at it as well.

 I quickly typed out:

“Got notice that @LarryDavidMVY is following me. Sure! If this is the real Larry David, it'll be the first time I've ever orgasmed over a man ...”

I wasn't lying.  If the Real Larry David were actually following me on Twitter, not only would I have literally orgasmed over a man, it would have doubtless been the paramount sexual experience of my life,  good for me and good for just about anybody else I've ever met --- including you!

On the other hand, if @LarryDavidMVY was a pimple-strewn social deviant alone in a  room overflowing with pictures of himself dressed as Jabba the Hut photoshopped together with George Lukas, well, then sex with you might even have the edge! 

Within a few seconds, Alleged LD tweeted back the following:

@PerryBlock  Funny....over a man funny


I tweeted back:

"But you couldn't possibly be Larry David. God isn't that kind to the Jews."

And @LarryDavidMVY tweeted: 

@PerryBlock are funny

Anybody out there have any idea how to bronze a tweet?

@LarryDavidMVY's tenure's on Twitter didn’t last long, and by August 1 he'd tweeted his last.  So there isn’t any way to know if I was truly tweeting with the Kosher King of Cable Comedy or with Jabba the Hut’s less lithe and lovely cousin.  

But most Twitter imposters try to fool you by staying in your face and  imitating the imposteree in an engaging manner.  @LarryDavidMVY vanished from Twitter like a box of Mallomars left unattended in a sorority house and tweeted like he didn't want to get pinned, let alone engaged.

Most people don't know that Real LD answers "Martha, my dear," if you ask his favorite island, yet Alleged LD put "MVY" in his Twittername  and followed a number of tweeters viable only on the vaunted Vineyard. 

Of Alleged LD's 22 tweets,  two of them for me were p-r-e-t-t-y p-r-e-t-t-y good!  The other 20 were about as interesting as Martha'sVineyard after a monsoon at midnight.
If @LarryDavidMVY was the work of an imposter, this guy was the lousiest imposter since ABBA attempted to pass themselves off as a musical group, or Hayden Christianson as an actor.

Know what, @LarryDavidMVY?

Here's hoping you were the Real Deal.   But whoever you were,  be you genius or goofball,  maven or moron,  icon or idiot .... 

Considering how entertaining you were, lucky for you I didn't unfollow your ass!

And, BTW, I chose Cheryl.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fat Chance

When Governor Christie sits around the house,
he sits around the house....

If there's one thing that members of the Republican Party establishment agree on,  it's that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is THE MAN! 

Flamboyant and outspoken, Governor Christie seems to possess the twin virtues of calling 'em as he sees 'em and then living up to how he calls 'em and sees 'em, regardless of whether you agree with everything he's calling and seeing.  These days in politics, those are two rather rare commodities. But will the current fair-haired boy of the GOP ever be their Presidential standard bearer? 

Fat Chance!

That's because whenever most of us see the corpulent Mr. Christie we just can't help making jokes about his size, after which we feel guilty about how insensitive we are.  And nobody but nobody wants to elect a President, no matter how capable, who winds up making us all feel worse about ourselves ....

"As we all know, last week Governor Chris Christie made the decision not to run for President.  Instead he plans to waddle for President.  I'd sure like to see him get elected because that would bring new meaning to the term 'Oval Office!'"

What kind of insensitive person am I? That wasn't nice.

"Did you hear the news?  New Jersey has just declared hot fudge an endangered species!"

Why the hell did I say that?  I must really be a jerk!

"Bono announced today that he's planning a superstar fund raiser to benefit starving dinner guests at Chris Christie's mansion."

No doubt at all;  I am a worthless piece of crap!

"I understand Chris Christie's trying to take better care of himself.  He's making it a point to drink eight bodies of water a day!"

Asshole!  Shmuck! Douchebag!

"How are Chris Christie, a gullible person, and a hooker alike?  None of them has ever found anything too big to swallow."

Great.  Now I'm adding pornography to the mix.

"Too bad.  At the press conference he held in 2015 to announce his candidacy for President,  Governor Christie blew the first question.  It was:

 'What is a salad?' "

I am going to rot in hell.  Here, Satan, I brought you the marshmallows too!

Poor Governor Christie! Thanks to yahoos like us, he'll most likely wind up in a totally irrelevant, unimportant, obscure political office where nobody will ever see him, think about him,  or make stupid and insensitive jokes about him.

Like Vice-President.

Now fellow low-lifer,  what new Chris Christie jokes ya got for me?!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Year We Built the Sukkah

Ever since my children were old enough to go to Hebrew School, each year they asked me if we could build a sukkah for the fall holiday of Sukkot

A sukkah is a small dwelling place  ---  a sort of glorified hut --- that Jews are supposed to construct and inhabit during the weeklong holiday instead of their comfortable homes with heat, indoor plumbing, and television showing the World Series. 

All things considered,  however, being pushed for a sukkah beats having your kids constantly nagging you about  getting a dog.  A sukkah doesn't have to be walked at 6:30 in the morning in February and very rarely messes on the hardwood flooring.  And since I did grow up having a dog but didn't have a sukkah,  the idea frankly kind of appealed to me as well.

There was only problem.

I am the type of  Jewish person who happens to be very mechanically inclined, meaning whenever any situation  requiring fixing or repairing things presents itself, I am very inclined to hire a mechanic. It's the same with constructing things. I have given up in disgust attempting to put together a toy for children under three from McDonald's.

So, I stonewalled.

"Guys, if we have our own sukkah, you won't enjoy the neighbor's sukkah as much."

This was true.  Our neighbor, a Jewish  man who owned an elaborate set of power tools, built a tree house for his children, and I believe spent Sundays instructing Amish people in the art of barn raising, annually built a killer sukkah. Large, sturdy, bedecked in gourds, pumpkins, and sumptuous decorations acquired by the family over years,  the neighbors' sukkah lacked only water spewing fountains to make it a secondary tourist attraction in the Philadelphia area.

Then our neighbor moved away to a house with larger property where he could presumably build an even more grandious sukkah,  and was replaced with a nice gentile family which spent appreciably less time each fall building a sukkah than turning their house each winter into Rockefeller Center.  

"Look, you guys,"  I said to the kids pressing harder for excuses, "we have kind of a smallish house and sometimes the roof leaks. That's just as good!"

Finally,  I relented.  This would be the year my son Brandon and I would build a sukkah. 

The only problem now was that  Brandon is every bit as handyman challenged as I am.  This is a young guy who looks about for a plug whenever he is required to use a screwdriver and operates a pair of plyers by blowing on them.  So we sought out some kind of  more or less ready-made sukkah. 

Knowing little, we checked the web.  Although I had my heart set on a sukkah that said "just add water," all of them said "some assembly required."  For Brandon and me, that usually means an assembly we both ought not attend. Even more compelling, all said "some dollars required," in most cases the "some dollars required" meaning "fork over multiple hundreds, yiddishe boy!"

Our  new neighbor, also quite handy, came to our rescue with multiple plywood boards and cinder blocks. The boards were somewhat daunting and featured wood knots the size of supernovas, but at least I was familiar with cinder blocks, their having served as more or less the sole decoration for my dorm room the first three years of college. 

The some assembly yet required was not without its share of modestly banged fingers, scraped shins, and "where's the plug for the hammer, Dad?," but we managed to wedge  the plywood between the cinder blocks, lay on the flat wooden top, and cover the whole thing with sheets which had long ago seen their better days.

And so, a hovel-like structure arose!

We next enlisted neighborhood children to make decorations, most of whom proved to be as artistically challenged as we were mechanically so.  We added gourds and pumpkins,  blessed the sukkah, and though some of our Jewish neighbors said it looked great "but when was it going to be finished?," we were ready to spend happy times there well in advance of the holiday.

That is, well in advance of the rainy holiday! 

That year it rained the first five days of Sukkot, during which time we had to content ourselves with spending happy times admiring our handiwork getting drenched.  By the time it dried out at the end of the holiday, though, we did  get to enjoy a meal or two there.

Sitting in the sukkah, gazing skyward, and chowing down on the traditional corned beef specials, french fries, and Coca-Cola from Murray's Delicatessen, I think we both felt a little bit proud of our achievement and maybe a little bit closer to our Jewish roots.

Since then circumstances have intervened,  and that was the last sukkah Brandon and I ever built.

I'm still using the same excuse. "Y'know Bran," I say, "we live in kind of a smallish house and sometimes the roof leaks.  That's just as ...."

No, it isn't just as good. 

We  found that out the year we built the sukkah.

Not a Member of the Tribe?

   sukkah - which I already explained above.  You're good to go on this one!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Guess I Didn't Deserve the Phillies ....

One man!  Just one man!

The Philadelphia Phillies, the best team in baseball throughout the 2011 baseball season, have fallen to the St. Louis Cardinals by a score of 1-0 in the fifth and deciding game of the National League Division Series (NLDS) between the two teams.

The loss places the Phils out of contention for the World Series ring that had seemed so within reach just a few weeks ago and plunges the entire City of Philadelphia into darkness!

Throughout the City and indeed the entire nation, virtually everyone knows who is responsible for this shocking upset.  It is one man alone, a man named:

Perry Block!

A resident of the Philadelphia area and a  self-professed Phillies fan, Mr. Block himself had earlier questioned whether he, a born loser, was worthy enough to be a fan of the Mighty Phillies.  The resounding answer:


"I'm flabberghasted!" said Phils' Manager Charlie Manuel. "How can one man --- one solitary Phillies fan --- be so totally unworthy as to sink an entire baseball team?!"

"You'd think Fate would have erred in favor of benefitting the undeserving loser rather than punishing an entire team and City," said Phils' ace Roy Halladay, who was charged with the loss. "I guess Fortune works in strange ways." 

The City of Philadelphia is poised to file legal action against Mr. Block as soon as a reasonable cause of action can be determined.

"Oh, we'll get him!" vowed  a visibly shaken but determined Mayor Michael Nutter, "We'll get him!   Our best attorneys are researching guilt, bad karma, and annoying shlemiel as we speak!" 

For his part, Mr. Block was in seclusion and offered no comment.

An acquaintance of Mr. Block who spoke on condition of anonymity and that we print that he is a remote acquaintance of Mr. Block who doesn't even really like the guy said "Well, how do you think he'd feel after all this?"

"My guess is that he feels one tiny little bit even less worthy than ever before..."


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Art for Art’s Sake

From time to time I enjoy shopping for big ticket items I cannot afford and would never buy absent you’re paying up the three hundred bucks you owe me since that “sure thing” at Aqueduct.

Over the last few months, I’ve checked out mega-sized TVs, mini-sized Coopers, and paintings of every artistic school, vision, and size --- mega, mini, or in between.  It’s kind of amazing how sales approaches for such seemingly disparate products resemble each other far more closely than you’d ever think.

Frankly, were it not for the complimentary wine and sensitive expressions, sometimes you’d never know for sure where you are.

“Evening, Gent’men,” said the smiling salesperson as my son Brandon and I entered his establishment  a few weeks ago. 

Welcome to Crazy Andre’s Fine Art Showroom!  How may I help youse?”

“We’re, um, just interested in browsing at some paintings,” I said.

“Well, step right this way, guys!  We got more expressionists, romanticists, and cubists than any gallery in the tri-state area! Take a look at this baby, so reminiscent of Picasso during his blue period.  It’s priced to move!

“Well, I'm not really a big Picasso guy ...  " I started to say.

“Notice the enveloping texture, the subtle nuance of the brushstrokes with the masterful command of dark tonality.  She’s sturdy, too. Go ahead, sir – kick the frame!”

“No, that’s okay,” said Brandon “we're really only browsing."

“I’ll bet youse'd like to to see some of our sporty European impressionist models, young man! Take a gander at Water Lilies Flowing down a River under a Bridge near Rouen Cathedral.  Just look at that quality paint job!”

“Yes, that’s nice,” I said.

“And this one is guaranteed to go up in value. The artist is a 100% certified nut case; he not only cut off his ear, he’s into the primary body parts, too!

“No thanks,” said Brandon. “The $3,200 price would represent the severing of an arm and a leg for my dad as well."

Meanwhile Brandon had been checking out a pointillist painting of a snowfall, itself a bit pricey at $900.

“I admire your taste, young man!  Brian Meeks, the artist would kill me if I made a deal  on this one but lemme see if I can get him on my smart phone.  He oughta be home, he only bowls Wednesdays.”

“Hello, hello, Meeksy? This is Art down at Crazy Andre’s. Look, I got a dad and his son here been admiring' Snowy Scene at the Swiss Chalet. Yeah, I know – a lollapalooza, one of your best!  But look, Meeksy, as much as these two guys are in love with the paintin', and even with Andre’s outstandin' financin' policy, the price tag is still ....  oh, thank you so much, Meeksy!”

The salesperson hung up and turned to us with a broad, toothy grin.

“Folks, I’d never have believed it. He said that since youse are such a nice family and it being close to Christmas – August 24th – he wants to give youse a ‘present’ of ‘Snowy Scene’ for only $750!  Unbelievable what a deal youse got!

“Uhhh, we’ve really got to think over for a few days,” I said.

That price is good for tonight only. Meeksy might come down with a case of existential angst tomorrow and deny the whole universe, let alone this collossal price-buster! By the way he tweets as @ExtremelyAvg, check him out, do."

“No, thank you," said Brandon. "As we said, Dad and I are just browsing."

“Well, then maybe youse would like to look at some of our select pre-owned art. Here’s a primitivist painting that was owned by a little old lady who only looked at it on Sundays. Folks, what do I gotta do to make a deal here?  Cut off my ear?!"

We said good-bye to Art and left the gallery.  But no sooner were we out the door than  I was seized with the desire to look at some new cars, so I hot-footed it down the block to a showroom not 100 yards away.

“Dad, what the ….” shouted Brandon. But I had already bounded into the showroom.

“Bonjour, je suis Henri, a votre service,” said a thin aesthetic looking gentleman in a beret.

Some complimentary wine and quiche today? And how may I help youse?”


Monday, October 3, 2011

You (Probably) Can't Go Home Again

  .... I've had a few

Yesterday I took out a pen and paper, refamiliarized myself with the usage of them in 2012,  and wrote down the following which I offer to you in the hope that it may be helpful:

Most of the things we regret from the past are best left alone. Not only can't you go home again, you can't even re-visit the tri-state area.  You blew it.  Move on. 

In any given lifetime, there are always things we remember that we wish to forget.  The problem is that in my given lifetime there are so many things I wish to forget I can't even remember them all in order to forget them! 

These are the things that represent water flowing under our collective bridges, all of it contaminated and probably carcinogenic ....

The Road Not Taken
The Road Taken that Led to Somewhere in North Dakota
The One that Got Away
The One that Should Have Got Away
The Song You Never Sung
The Song You Sung that ABBA Later Made Big Money With

Not long ago I went so far as to copy down a list of names of everyone in my past with whom I'd had some interaction I was either embarrassed about, angry at myself regarding, or had lost more than seven pounds over during a three week period. My purpose was to revisit each person and rectify as best as possible the resulting carnage, psychic or otherwise, that had ensued from my perceived less than stellar behavior.

When I ran out of paper, I began writing on the walls. When I'd pretty much filled all the walls, I rented an apartment. And as I  pretty much filled those walls to the point where I 
realized was going to lose my entire Security Deposit, I regarded the list and selected one name and one situation for my first official rectification.

It was an item that involved a woman I had looked up on Facebook who might have been aggrieved by my behavior but not so much as to have gone to the trouble to visit Haiti in search of tutelage on indigenous rituals to cause my eye-balls to forceably eject from their sockets. 

A good place to start.

"Hello, Sharon?" I said, voice resolute but somewhat quavering, if I may use that word without knowing what it means. 

"Yes, who is this?" said Sharon in a friendly voice I kind of remembered. 

"Perry Block.  Many years ago, we went out for, I dunno, five-six  months."

"Yes, sounds very familiar..., " she replied pleasantly.

"I wanted to apologize to you because with no explanation whatsover I just stopped calling you.  Basically I didn't have the guts to tell you I found the snorting impression you did of Arnold Horshack from Welcome Back, Kotter! kind of annoying and ...."

"Now I remember you, Asshole!  Don't ever call again!!!"

After a few minutes of quavering (if I may use that word without yet having looked it up),  I took out a piece of paper and a pen and wrote the sentence I first offered you above.  And bought some white paint for a whole lot of walls.

There are no mulligans.

There are few things about the past you can fix, even if you can operate power tools.  You can't go home again, so don't even  bother trying to book a flight on Expedia or 

Direct via US Airways, well, maybe  ....

Actually, the best we can all do is learn and move on.  

It's a pity that so many of us tend to often be such slow learners.