Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Cut-off: To Sing or Not to Sing?

As every Boomer knows, as we grow older we face an ever increasing array of Cut-offs. 

That is, we reach ages at which it no longer seems appropriate to talk, act, or dress in ways we once found natural when the world was young and we were younger.
Though cut-offs abound --- from the cut-off for wearing a baseball cap backwards (31) to the cut-off for growing hair completely covering your ears (43) --- one important cut-off seems never to have been established:

How old is too old to sing in public where others can hear?

It’s true.

Walking across the quad at age 22 singing “Southern Man with your best Neil Young may have once made you seem cool; walking across the parking lot at Target doing the same at age 62 makes you a tool.

It's even worse for me.

My singing voice has a vocal quality similar to that of comedian Gilbert Gottfried were Mr. Gottfried practicing the art of hog calling while cutting loose on the tender ballad "Feelings."

Carry a tune? I’d need to call movers.

Perfect pitch? That’s something I always seemed to attract whenever I was batting at softball.

And yet still I sing. Often in public.

You’d think this singing fool were a happy-go-lucky guy, but if you’ve read much of this blog you know better.  I’m the “Poster Boy for Aging Angst!”

Yet still I sing. Often in public.

And when I do, the world often does seem a little bit brighter.

Today I walked into my local convenience store vocalizing Van Morrison perhaps too loudly. People looked at me as if they were terrified I’d leap on the deli counter and begin belting out:
Ding a ling a ling
Ding a ling a ling ding
Ding a ling a ling
Ding a ling a ling ding
Do Da Do Da Do!
Embarrassed, I toned Van Morrison down to a decibel level which would register more readily with store patrons with four rather than two legs.

Some folks yet regarded me in a less than loving manner.

But I continued to sing.

As I walked out of the store, I found myself breaking into “Awaiting on You All by nobody less than George Harrison.

"You don‘t need no passport, and you don’t need no visas …”

As I rounded a corner I came face to face with a woman about my age. 

She smiled.
“Just keep on singin’!”

she said.

So what is the cut-off for singing in public?

I’m going with none.


Friday, April 28, 2017

Easier Trumped Than Done


“This is more work than in my previous life,” said Trump in an interview yesterday. “I thought it would be easier.”


Thought it would be easier to be President of the United States and leader of the Free World than running a reality show? That’s like expecting it to be easier to lead your team to consecutive Super Bowl victories than to purchase Madden 18 and successfully install it before your 2:30 PM nap.

Oddly enough, however, Trump is not the first President to make similar comments about the unexpected difficulties of the job of being President of the United States....

“This is more work than in my previous life,” said George Washington in an interview yesterday. “I thought it would be easier.  I’ve been so busy of late I haven’t had a moment’s time for proper dental care!”

“This is more work than in my previous life,” said Thomas Jefferson in an interview yesterday. “I thought it would be easier.  If only someone would make The Declaration of Independence into a musical, I could make some dough and get out of here! How do you like Well, I Declare! as a title?"  

“This is more work than in my previous life,” said Andrew Jackson in an interview yesterday. “I thought it would be easier. At least that idiot President two centuries from now appreciates me!”

“This is more work than in my previous life,” said Abraham Lincoln in an interview yesterday. “I thought it would be easier.  I thought all I’d have to do is grow some whiskers, bind up the nation’s wounds, and then take in some really great off Broadway theater!”

“This is more work than in my previous life,” said Theodore Roosevelt in an interview yesterday. “I thought it would be easier. Lemme see now: Speak Bigly and Carry a Soft Stick.’ Ahh, shit, I’ll never get that right!”  

“This is more work than in my previous life,” said Barack Obama in an interview yesterday. “I thought it would be easier. One day as President of the United States is like two as a Community Organizer! Maybe three, if the community is in Texas.”

And …

“This is more work than in my previous life,” said the Lord God in an interview yesterday. “I thought it would be easier. Here it’s been 100 days already and I haven’t yet been able to remove that lame ass Trump from being President!”


On the whole, guys, it's a hell of a lot
 easier to be here than President!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I Called George Foreman's Friends at InventHelp

“Good Morning.  This is InventHelp.”

“Good Morning,” I said to the gentleman on the other end of line in return.  “May I please speak to one of the friends of George Foreman?”

“Excuse me, sir?”

“My name is Perry Block and I have an invention that I’d like to speak to one of George Foreman’s friends at InventHelp about.”

“I’m sorry, sir, but I don’t know a George Foreman.”

What?! For months, George Foreman had been telling me regularly on television that if I should need help with a new product idea or invention I should “Call my friends at InventHelp.” And now I had finally put together a contraption I believed some people might find a bit useful, and it seemed George Foreman’s friends were nowhere to be found.

I called my invention the BlockMaster 1000 Time Machine. I’d given it a dry run back to the Renaissance to meet Leonardo Da Vinci, stopped off in 1889 to spike Baby Hitler’s formula, and though you won’t fully understand this reference, isn’t the second President Clinton doing a heck of a good job?

“George Foreman is a famous boxer and celebrity,” I explained to the gentleman on the phone, “and a very likeable trustworthy guy. He’s sort of like the Tom Hanks of Boxing.”

“Fine, sir. But we have many well-trained specialists here at InventHelp who can also help you.”

“No, thanks. I only want to speak to one of the friends of George Foreman.”

“Well, I don’t think we have any here.”

“Really?  Well, do you have any acquaintances of Mr. Foreman there?”

“Probably not, sir.”

“Anyone there who ever got a selfie with him?”

“I doubt it.”

“An autographed picture then maybe?”

“I don’t know how I could check, sir!”

“An autograph on plain paper then? Even one on heavily coffee stained yellow note pad paper which is already smearing?”

“I don’t know, sir!”

“Ah, heck!  I guess you just can’t believe everything you see on television.”

“I’m sorry sir, but we have many InventHelp specialists here to help you.”

“Thanks, but no thanks. It's not that big a deal anyway.”

“Goodbye then, sir.”

“Who was that on the phone, Roger?”

“It was odd. A guy who only wanted to talk to somebody who was a friend of a boxer named George Foreman.”

“George Foreman! I know you’re new here, Roger, but you should know George Foreman does our commercials telling everyone to ‘Call my friends at InventHelp.’”

“I’m sorry, Fred.”

“Did you get the guy’s name?”

“No, I didn’t and our system is down and didn’t record his phone number either.”

“That’s okay, Roger.”

“How come?”

“Most of these inventions don’t amount to a damn thing anyway.”



Thursday, April 20, 2017

"O'Reilly, Trump, & I Got What We Deserved," Says Billy Bush

“Bill O’Reilly only got what he deserved,” former TV celebrity Billy Bush commented yesterday, “just in the same way that Donald Trump and I have been forced to endure the consequences of our thoughtless and disrespectful actions.”

“I’m sure all three of us have learned our lessons,” Mr. Bush added, “only we’ve learned them too late to prevent our lives from being destroyed.”

Mr. Bush has been out of a job since revelations of crude sexually explicit talk with Mr. Trump were exposed in October 2016.  He has since sold his home and most of his personal effects and cannot get a call back even from the recorded tape offering you a free cruise. "I’m looking at doing some local radio in Iceland," said Mr. Bush.

“Now Bill O’ Reilly is out of a job as well, and as I can well tell you nobody in the business is going to want to touch someone so toxic. However many millions Fox is willing to pay him will quickly dwindle down to nothing.”

“But Mr. Trump probably has it the worst.  As President of the United States he is constantly in the public eye and constantly torn with guilt and apprehension as to what people are saying behind his back. When he’s no longer President, who’s going to want to hire him?  Steve Bannon?!!”

“Ten billion dollars sounds like a lot of money, but Mr. Trump will find that it flies out the window like dust in the wind when you have no steady income to back it up!”

“Broke and unemployed --- that’s us! And we three richly deserve it," added Mr. Bush ruefully, as he finished shining my shoes.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

A Round of Golf with Donald Trump

I haven't played much golf in recent years, and that's for a combination of reasons.  Lack of time, lack of skill, and a temper that's often caused my driver to travel a lot further than many of my drives has put golf deep into the back nine of the scorecard of my life for quite some time now.
That is, until I got a strange call from a familiar voice with a strange invitation yesterday morning.

"Perry Block, this is President Trump. How would you like to play golf with me at Mar-a-Lago this afternoon?"

"No offense, sir, but I didn't vote for you, I don't like you, and I hope to God they haul your ass off to jail for colluding with the Russians!"

"Who doesn't feel that way?  Now do you want to play golf or not?"

It was a slow afternoon in the middle of a slow life, so I decided to go.  And to tell the truth, he was a lovely host. He never once dragged me out of my seat on Air Force One, he has a great store of "pussy jokes," and after lunch he was literally beaming with pride as he approached me with:

"The most beautiful piece of chocolate cake you've ever seen!"

"Umm... Mr. President ... uhh ... you're not about to bomb Iraq (sic) now, are you?"

"No, I've studied up.  I'm bombing Syria."

Soon we were teeing off on the first hole at 
Mar-a-Lago.  Mr. Trump hit a fine drive 275 yards straight down the fairway.

"Great Drive, Donald! Just Terrific, Mr. President!" 

That wasn't me complimenting the President on his shot. That was the President complimenting the President on his shot.

My drive went straight down the middle too, about 15 feet or so. And the rest of the day pretty much followed suit.  Frankly, Mr. Trump has a really nice swing for a big fat repulsive disgusting load of human fecal matter fit only to crawl back into the cesspool from which he originally and obscenely first emerged and befouled the planet.

Pretty good short game too.

Me, I managed to find my way into every sand trap, water hazard, and deep rough known to man and Robert Trent Jones.  I was in an out-of-bounds area on the 7th Hole so remote and uncharted I encountered principled Republicans there!

Finally we were at the 18th Hole, a par three with a short dogleg to the right. 

Mr. Trump's shot veered left.

"I'm afraid that's not going to help you with your base, sir."

Then I was up and incredibly I hit my best shot of the day.  It landed squarely on the green, bounced twice, and rolled right into the center of the cup.

"Hole in one!!!" shouted Trump, arms stretched high overhead.

"Gee," I thought, "very nice of the President to be so excited for me." 

At once Steve Bannon jumped out from behind a nearby shrub.

"Did you get all that, what's your name --- I mean, Steve?"  asked Trump.

"Yes, sir. Got the ball landing on the green and rolling into the hole with you and your arms outstretched just perfectly!

"I'M THE GREATEST HOLE-IN-ONE CREATOR THAT GOD EVER MADE!!!" said Mr. Trump modestly and nonchalantly.

Almost as soon as we got into the clubhouse I saw the news on CNN:

"CNN has learned," reported Fredericka Whitfield, "that President Trump has gotten a hole-in-one while playing golf alone at Mar-a-Lago."  

"Now I get it!" I said to what's his name ... I mean, Bannon. "The President likes to play golf with a nonentity like me so he can take credit for anything good I might do on the course.  Bet he'd never try that with anyone else."

"Are you kidding? He'd try it with Kim Jong-un!"

And So, Folks, Happy Easter and Merry Passover from Me and Donald Trump!

I have to personally express the President's holiday wishes to you on his behalf because he went off to play another 18 holes.  

With Carrot Top.


Now that's what I call a round of golf!

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Visit from the Bearded Financial Planner from those Ameritrade Commercials

SCENE I -  To Run with the Bulls

Bearded Financial Planner: How old do you want to be when you retire?

Professional Woman: I was thinking around 70.

Bearded Financial Planner: Alright! And before that?

Professional Woman: You mean, after that?

Bearded Financial Planner: No, I mean before that. Do you have things you want to do before you retire?

Professional Woman: Yeah, sure.

Bearded Financial Planner: Like what?

Professional Woman: I thought we were supposed to be talking about investing for retirement.

Bearded Financial Planner: We're absolutely doing that! But there's no law that says you can't make the most of today. What do you want to do?

Professional Woman: I'd really like to run with the bulls.

Bearded Financial Planner: Wow! Hope you're fast.

Professional Woman: Not very.

Bearded Financial Planner: That's great!

Professional Woman: Why is that great?

Bearded Financial Planner: Looks like we won't have to talk about investing for retirement after all!


SCENE II -  Hardly a Fortune

Husband with Grubby Growth of Beard:  I realize that $100,000 is hardly a fortune.

Earnest Wife:  One hundred and three.

Bearded Financial Planner:  A hundred and three.  Okay, well let me ask you guys, how long did it take you two to save that? 

Earnest Wife: Oh, a long time. 

Husband with Grubby Growth of Beard: A long time.

Bearded Financial Planner: Then it's a fortune!

Earnest Wife: I'm sure you talk to people all the time who think $100,000 is just pocket change.

Bearded Financial Planner: Right now we're just talking to you.

Earnest Wife: (to Husband with Grubby Growth of Beard)  I told you we had a fortune.

Husband with Grubby Growth of Beard: Yes, you did.

Bearded Financial Planner:  Actually, no, you don't.

Earnest Wife:  Excuse me?

Bearded Financial Planner: I'm just bullshitting you.  That paltry sum of money actually is just pocket change.

Husband with Grubby Growth of Beard: Well, can you help us?

Bearded Financial Planner: Are you kidding?  With that circumcised dick of a bank account and at your ages? 

Earnest Wife: But ... but ...where are you going?

Bearded Financial Planner:  I'm outta here!


SCENE III -  You are Busy!

Busy Blonde: I mean, I wish I had time to take care of my portfolio.

Bearded Financial Planner: Well, what are you doing tomorrow?  Ten A.M.?

Busy Blonde: Staff Meeting.

Bearded Financial Planner: Noon?

Busy BlondeEating.

Bearded Financial Planner:  3:45?

Busy Blonde: Compliance Training.

Bearded Financial Planner:  6:30?

Busy Blonde:  Sam's baseball practice.

Bearded Financial Planner: 8:30?

Busy Blonde(gestures)  Tai Chi.

Bearded Financial Planner:  It's relaxing.  Alright, 9:53.

Busy Blonde: I usually makes their lunches then and I have a little vegan. So. 

Bearded Financial PlannerWow!  You are busy! Wouldn't it be great if you had investments that work as hard as you do?

Busy BlondeYe-ah.  

Bearded Financial Planner: Well, I'm afraid you're shit out of luck.

Busy BlondeWhy?

Bearded Financial Planner:  Because ... because ...  Let's be clear here ...

Busy Blonde:  Yes

Bearded Financial Planner: I'm actually a DJ!


Thursday, April 13, 2017

A History of the Failing New York Times

                            Having Fun, Nick?                         Donald, I'm STARVING!

I remember well how it all started.

I hadn’t believed it when first I saw the reference in one of President Trump’s tweets to the “failing @NYTimes.” But soon there were unmistakable signs that the once venerable New York Times, purveyor of “all the news that’s fit to print,” was crashing and burning before my very eyes.

About six months ago I was reading a profile of Jim Jarmusch in the Arts and Leisure section of the Sunday Times including commentary on his most recent film, Pureed Gums. To my dismay the piece wholly miscalculated the total number of times Bill Murray has played the role of Bill Murray in films directed by Wes Anderson and/or Mr. Jarmusch (9, not 10, for goodness sake!) and seriously undervalued Jarmusch’s minimalist remake of Paint Your Wagon.

Frankly I wouldn't have been comfortable passing off as my own any of the insights presented therein!

The next week I noticed something else unusual. The Sunday Times had once been so voluminously thick that I required several trips to carry it into the house, sometimes having to make camp overnight in the driveway. But this Sunday I carried it into the house all in one trip, bench pressed it half a dozen times, and read it all while standing on one foot.

What was causing this plummeting quality and quantity of the Times?
Was it the effect of President Trump’s impact on the taste and culture of the nation? Was a man reputed never to have read anything more profound that his scorecard at Mar-a-Lago now dictating and establishing the quality of American journalism?   

Serious errors now marred the Times’ former stellar reporting.  The Vice-President of the United States was often referred to as Hunter Pence --- a right fielder on the San Francisco Giants --- and Mike Pence’s batting average was frequently listed as “well above .250” despite the fact that Vice-President Pence has trouble with the curve.

Times’ investigative journalism now broke stories capped with conclusive hard-hitting findings like “couldn’t find a thing,” “well, whaddya know?” and “if only I’d asked more questions about the hat check girl!”

Arts reporting slid as well.  Reviews of musicals were now completed by reviewers according to a form:

Toe-taping Fun? (yes) (no)  Witty, literate Script? (yes) (no) 
 Nathan Lane? (yes) (no) 

which was later simplified to: 

Good as Hamilton?  (no) 

Metaphors were now mixed like nuts, double negatives abounded, and the Oxford Comma had seemingly dropped out of Oxford and into indolence and heavy drugs. 

Participles dangled helplessly.

Subsequent issues brought even more flagrant proof of the Times’ decline.  Nicholas Kristoff wrote a column with the headline “Will Write about Trump’s Incompetence for Food,” No. 15 across in the Sunday Times Crossword Puzzle yielded the answer “HELP ME!” and the Travel Section of the Times featured “Camden NJ, Which We Can Afford.”

The Sunday Times Magazine was now replaced by Parade Magazine Jr., a scaled-down version of Parade Magazine edited by former Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte.  The paper was now printed on left over supermarket shopping bags culled by the few remaining staffers, who were instructed to always answer "paper" when given the choice of appropriate bagging for the skimpy groceries they were able to penny pinch to afford.

The word "Acme" was printed across many of the articles.

Just as it was about to close, the failing New York Times was acquired by a White Knight, that White Knight being Disney. At long last the Times made a welcome comeback for the nation's intelligent, thoughtful, and highly discerning readers.  

Although Maureen Dowd, Frank Bruni, and Gail Collins haven't written a column since that doesn't mention Frozen. 

Or should I say the failing Frozen?


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Joel Tannenbaum, Who Brought Kayleigh McEnany Home for Passover Dinner

We’d been going out for almost three months now and it being Passover I decided the time was right to bring my girlfriend home to meet Mom and Dad.

So it was with some trepidation but a positive attitude that I brought Kayleigh McEnany of CNN broadcaster and Donald Trump supportcaster fame to my parents’ house for the Passover Seder.

“Joel Darling,” squealed Mom as we came through the door, “Happy Pesach!”

“Happy Passover, Mom,” I reciprocated “and this is the girl I’ve been telling you about, Kayleigh McEnany, whom you’ve seen on television and … umm … my girlfriend.”

“Welcome!”  Mom replied.  “Gee … umm …that’s … umm … such a nice cross you have around the neck!  So golden and prominent.  And what’s that you’ve brought today?”

“A fruitcake,” replied Kayleigh.  “Just like at Christmas, the time of our Lord’s birth.”

While Mom valiantly fought off a gag reflex as if someone were stuffing a live pig down her throat, Dad chipped in to save the day.

“Tell me, Kayleigh” he offered cheerily, “do you really believe those nonsensical things you say on TV or are you just set up to be the bad guy, like in professional wrestling?”

Maybe I forgot to mention but in addition to being as Jewish as a chopped liver grinder in the home of every member of the Chosen People in the 1950’s, my parents were Democratic Liberals who were rooting for Adlai Stevenson, although dead many years, to still make a rousing comeback.

“Oh, no,” said Kayleigh, “I fervently believe that Mr. Trump is a new kind of leader for America, one who will take our nation under God to places never before charted.”

“Yeah,” Dad smirked, “like the sewer.”

Everything was going just as well as I hoped.

We went into the dining room and Kayleigh met my Uncle Sol and Aunt Miriam and their son, weird cousin Melvin, who was unmarried at age 50 and loved reading and re-reading Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Henry Bukowski.

“Kayleigh,” murmured Melvin shyly, “do you happen to know if Erin Burnett is seeing someone?”

“I believe every bit as much as I believe in Mr. Trump,” answered Kayleigh, “ that she’s married.”

Oh no-o-o-o!” Melvin let out a howl like a wounded animal. "See, I’ve got this picture of Ms. Burnett over my bed, and I .…”

“Shall we go to the Seder table!”  Mom gasped.

The table looked beautiful, and I tried as best I could to explain the Seder plate to Kayleigh.

“Everything seems burnt,” she observed. “The egg, the shank bone, the smell of dinner.  Is Jewish food always burned to a crisp?”

Oy vey!

We began the service and it fell to me as the youngest male (42) to ask the traditional Four Questions.

"Why on this night do we eat matzoh," I inquired, "when we could have a corned beef special with Russian Dressing and cole slaw?"

“But why do you ask the questions if you already know the answers?” asked Kayleigh. “Is it like when Don Lemon and Jake Tapper ask stupid questions that I know all the answers to?”

“Jake Tapper – now there’s a newsman!” beamed Mom. “A nice Jewish boy from the Philadelphia area.  Kayleigh, have you ever met Jared Kushner?  You know … um … Ivanka converted for him.”

“I haven’t yet had the joyous pleasure to meet either one of them yet,” Kayleigh replied.

“Well, meet them!” urged Mom.

“Say, Joel,” whispered Uncle Sol, “have you shtupped her yet? How is Kayleigh in the old sack?”

I hadn’t the heart to tell Uncle Sol that when I thought Kayleigh was shouting “Oh Boy, Fuck Me!” for the first month of our relationship she was actually shouting “Oh Boy, Huckabee!”

“Now it’s time to welcome Elijah into our home,” said Dad.

“Who is this Elijah?” asked Kayleigh, “and how does he have the chutzpah to come so late?”

“Hey, Kayleigh!”  I said excitedly. “Can’t believe you said Chutzpah! We’re making progress.”

Actually the doorbell did ring about then and I went to answer it.  It wasn’t Elijah though. 

It was Jeffrey Lord!

“I thought you might need some help, kid.”

I’d never been so happy to see another batshit crazy Trump supporter in my life.

Well, that’s my story --- me, Joel Tannenbaum --- about the time I brought Kayleigh McEnany home for Passover Dinner.

Happy Passover, Everyone!

And, between you and me, boychick, if you’ve ever got a hankering to bring someone from CNN home for Passover Seder, please take my advice.

Make it Dana Bash.