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When Is Wrong Wrong?

When is wrong wrong? As of late in our Bizarro world, it seems that more and more often wrong is right.

Repeatedly we have seen football players and other athletes rape, beat and abuse women. Is it wrong? Of course! But what is done about these actions? Nothing is done and that makes it right in the eyes of the public. The “boys will be boys” attitude is the oldest and lamest excuse around. The NFL should stand for the Neanderthal Flagrant Lawbreakers. Add to their shenanigans the whole kneeling episode and it becomes apparent even to the dullest person that the whole outfit is just plain wrong.

How about drunk drivers? They kill and maim thousands of people including themselves every year and yet we continue to see this behavior as acceptable. We invent hundreds of programs for these ass-brained folks, revoke their licenses (for which they could care less) but we rarely if ever put them in jail where they belong. Why? It has become acceptable behavior and in the eyes of the public isn’t really wrong. After all, it’s not like they robbed a bank, right?

A mother lets her three-month old child go out into the freezing night and die while she comfortably sleeps with her “boyfriend.” We don’t say it’s wrong. Instead, we bemoan the poor mother’s social standing. She’s from a broken home and is on drugs, therefore what she did wasn’t really wrong. It was just a result of her poverty and the fact that her crack pipe was full at the moment. Not wrong? Bullshit!

What about politicians? They steal and lie and we say it’s okay because “they always do that.” It is still wrong, so why not say so? And when we do say so, we are accused of everything from not recognizing their societal value to being Nazis. It still doesn’t change the fact that stealing and lying is wrong. Or did Moses get those parts of the tablets all messed up? The sexual misconduct? Don’t get me started; I can already hear the chorus of defenders claiming these perverts are “icons,” indispensable and certainly not wrong. Al Franken’s SNL buddy Jon Lovitz’s characterization of Harvey Fierstien used to ask, “Is that so wrong?” Yes Al, you little pervert, it most definitely is wrong!

The list of examples is virtually endless, including everything from education to paying taxes. We now live in a society that will not recognize or verbalize when something is just plain wrong. It’s not politically correct or it isn’t nice to say, so we bob our heads in tacit approval. We have become a nation of whining, self-excusing, smart phone clutching, non-responsive nincompoops. The next time you see or hear something that is categorically wrong, stand up and say so: It is wrong!

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The Wiggling Toe

For some time I have had significant pain in my right big toe. It eventually led me to get a referral to a foot doctor, also known as a podiatrist. The appointment started out normal enough: The foot was x-rayed and I was immediately diagnosed with Hallux Rigidus, which basically meant that I had extreme arthritis in the big toe joint. I also learned that it is not the big toe but rather the great toe. I sort of already knew all of this except the proper naming of the toe so we proceeded to the dreaded “what to do about it” phase.

I asked about ultrasound. No. Cortisone injections? Maybe. The podiatrist offered no real solutions other than buying some custom insoles (which he conveniently sold) at a price tag of $460. Ouch! Didn’t he have anything more reasonable? No but he did offer an opinion that basically stated that over the counter insoles were no good and only his magical pair would do. I thanked the gentleman for his time, paid a large bill and proceeded to find another cure for my ailment.

I did some checking on the internet and was led down one rabbit hole after another. Most involved major surgeries that replaced or altered the Hallux Joint. Wasn’t there something less invasive? I returned to my primary physician and asked him for some other solutions. After some thought, he came up with physical therapy (PT). Not being a fan of this practice, I reluctantly agreed and was off to my first appointment.

It turned out that the physical therapy consisted chiefly of wiggling my big toe (great toe) and taping the toe and arch with sports tape. Not exactly rocket science! However, I faithfully made all of my appointments. As time went on, I kept asking the physical therapist for written instructions for the exercises he wanted me to do at home. The answer was always “Next time.” I also inquired about ultrasound and was told it wouldn’t do any good; only those toe wiggling exercises would help.

Now, I’m probably not the quickest guy around but pretty soon I was getting suspicious of the whole PT deal. Outside of scamming Medicare, what was really their end game? Still, I moved forward with the “treatments” until on two consecutive occasions my appointments were cancelled due to the two therapists not being available. With a straight face, the receptionist asked when I would like to reschedule. I paused about a nanosecond and responded, “Never!”

I am off next week to see yet another professional who professes to be able to help me. He will look at the whole foot and probably prescribe shoe inserts again. The difference? Looks like it will be about 80 percent less. We’ll see! Maybe I should consider amputation. At least that would be covered by Medicare. Just joking… It’s the pain talking.

So here I sit (not stand) as I write this, wiggling my great toe and wondering what the hell ever happened to medicine as I once knew it.

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Why I Don’t Go To The Movies

I grew up loving the movies. Perhaps it was just instinct or the fact that my father was an actor. Who knows? I would go every chance I had, usually to Saturday matinees. When I was a child (again, not in the Triassic Era), my parents would turn me loose to go to the movies for an entire day. It required a walk of about one half mile and back in the 1950s it did not pose a risk of being murdered, mugged or terrorized.

Once we entered the theater, my friends and I felt liberated. For 25 cents, we could watch a serial or newsreel and a double feature. To boot, the theater didn’t mind at all if we stayed and watched the whole affair over again for another one or two times. We obeyed the rules of the ushers (yes, they had ushers back then) as we spent the remaining 25 cents on popcorn, candy and Coke. We watched the complete credits and memorized the actors’ names. It was a complete day in the presence of cinema and we never tired of it. Going to the movies was a cherished part of my youth, a soothing experience that I truly enjoyed.

The last time that my wife and I went to the movies here in North Carolina, we were appalled. Even though we are discountable seniors, the toll was a couple of sawbucks ($20 for you millennials). I stopped at the concession stand for some refreshments but found that I would need a loan co-signed by our son to consummate such a purchase. I’m sorry but where in the hell do they get off charging nine bucks for popcorn. I could buy stock in Orville Redenbacher’s or a local corn field for less money. I settled for nothing in the end using my saliva to quench my thirst.

Once we were seated, we noticed that there were only four other people in the theater. Not a good sign! We waited patiently until at last the projector went on. I’m not really even sure if they still use projectors but anyway some images appeared on the screen in front of us. Expecting the movie, I was only disappointed to see a non-stop parade of advertisements for local businesses and a blurb asking if we were interested in advertising in their theater. Advertise what exactly? The fact that we are retired? Lord, what low-budget hawking of air time!

Finally, the ads ended mercifully. Aha, I thought the movie was a about to begin. Damn, I forgot about those pesky previews. No problem but after the twelfth preview, I honestly forgot which movie we had come to see. Then I thought I heard a drum roll. No, we were blown out of our seats with the Dolby advertisement. I guess they want to prove their prowess in sound before actually giving you any soundtrack. I worked in the music business for years and never heard such a high decibel bit of nonsense. The long note finally faded and I sat up in my seat eager for the main event for which I had already waited a good half hour: Exodus – Gods and Kings.

When the first dialog was spoken, I looked at my wife in horror and whispered: “That’s odd, everyone has a British accent. I thought this was supposed to be in ancient Egypt.” She hushed me and together we sat tortuously for 150 minutes as we were treated to the worst imaginable treatment of the Exodus story. It was simply terrible in its every aspect. Even Moses himself would have said that this flick was a load of crap. He would have left his seat and scurried back down Mt. Nebo and asked for an eleventh commandment to prohibit such foul cinema.

Director Ridley Scott, who has given us many great films, laid an inexcusable pile at the feet of his audience with this release.  You could almost smell it in the Dolby. Responding to immense criticism about the all white London sounding cast, he stated: “I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such.” Well, Ridley old boy, a couple of actual mid-Eastern actors who could put a “T” on the end of “wouldn’t” wouldn’t have hurt. Aside from the excesses of British, the film was simply a load: Poorly conceived, poorly written, poorly acted with only overdone special effects as its sole asset.

I didn’t even stay for the credits. Who cared? The were probably going to be hyphenated British names anyway. As we walked back into the blinding light of the parking lot, I mumbled: “This is the last one!” In contrast, I remembered leaving the theater 60 years earlier with a smile on my face, confident that I would take what I saw on the silver screen and make it part of my life forever. Taken together and with declining film quality in the last three decades, these experiences are why I don’t go to the movies.

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Guest Posts

From time to time I publish guest posts here on this site on Mondays, EST. If you have something important to say, please submit your blog via the comments button or ask me to re-blog and I will do my best to see that it appears here. All I ask is that you utilize one or more of the categories I publish (see list on top of the page). Also, please keep the word count between 100 and 700 words. Thanks!

I do reserve the right to edit content and refuse content that does not fit the parameters stated above. Let’s hear what you have to say!

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Alligator Anyone?

GUEST POST BY RACHEL RIZZI

If you haven’t eaten alligator, you should really give it a try. You may have heard the old adage that it tastes just like chicken. Not really. It’s actually a lot better. Alligator used for food preparation usually only includes the tail meat so don’t try this with a dead gator you find on the side of the road. Packaged alligator tail meat can be found nationwide. It tends to be a bit pricey, usually at $15 per pound, but a little goes a long way. For those of you with an adventurous streak, here’s a recipe that you’re sure to enjoy.

FRIED ALLIGATOR

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. Louisiana alligator meat (tenderloin or sirloin cuts of tail meat), cut into chunks
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Flour, for dredging
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup hot sauce
1 bottle store bought ranch dressing, for dipping

DIRECTIONS

1.) Lightly season gator meat with salt and pepper prior to dredging them in flour.
2.) Combine buttermilk and hot sauce into 1 mixture.
3.) Dip the gator meat into the buttermilk and hot sauce mixture and dip, once again, in flour.
4.) Then place in deep fryer until golden brown, just a couple minutes.
5.) Drain on paper towels and serve with ranch dressing.

It’s finger snappin’ good. Let us know here how you liked it!

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The Ice Cream Man Cometh Not

The Ice Cream Man Cometh Not (with apologies to Eugene O’Neill).

I’m hoping that someone besides me remembers the ice cream trucks from the 1950’s and 1960’s. They are a delightful piece of Americana that has completely disappeared.

When I was a child (no it wasn’t in the Triassic Era), we had ice cream trucks that drove up and down the streets of rural America peddling ice cream to waiting throngs of children. Sometimes even the adults patiently awaited the truck’s arrival. These trucks had bells that alerted the public to their arrival from a block away. Their timetable was so regular that you could set a watch by them. Occasionally you would be lucky enough to buy an ice cream bar that had a free stick in the middle of it. That entitled you to a free ice cream bar. The gimmick was so effective that I remember buying bars by the dozen just to get a free one. In my part of the country, California, those trucks were predominately those of the Good Humor Man. Here is a brief history from their site www.goodhumor.com

1920 Our delicious history started in 1920 in Youngstown, Ohio, when confectioner Harry Burt created a chocolate coating compatible with ice cream. His daughter was the first to try it. Her verdict? It tasted great, but was too messy to eat. Burt’s son suggested freezing the sticks used for their Jolly Boy Suckers (Burt’s earlier invention) into the ice cream to make a handle and things took off from there. The Good Humor name came from the belief that a person’s “humor”, or temperament, was related to the humor of the palate (a.k.a., your “sense of taste”). And we still believe in great-tasting, quality products. Soon after the Good Humor bar was created, Burt outfitted a fleet of twelve street vending trucks with freezers and bells from which to sell his creation. The first set of bells came from his son’s bobsled. Good Humor bars have since been sold out of everything from tricycles to push carts to trucks.

1923 After waiting three years for a patent, Burt took a trip to Washington, D.C., in 1923 with a five-gallon pail of Good Humor bars for the patent officials to sample. It worked – his patent was granted.

1929 A Good Humor plant opened in Chicago in 1929. The mob demanded $5,000 in protection money (that would be almost $70,000 today), which was refused, so they destroyed part of the Chicago fleet.

1933 During the Great Depression, Good Humor introduced a bar for 5¢ – half the price of a normal bar.

1936 In the early days, Good Humor men were required to tip their hats to ladies and salute gentlemen. It took three days of training and orientation to become a Good Humor Man.

1976 Good Humor sold its fleet of vehicles in 1976 to focus on selling in grocery stores. Some of the trucks were purchased by ice cream distributors and others were sold to individuals. The trucks sold for $1,000 – $3,000 each.

That’s the brief history of the Good Humor Man. The company and their local competitors were such an integral part of America that there was even a sappy little song I was required to learn in school. It went somethings like this:

Here comes the ice cream man.
His truck is spic and span.
He rings his bell
So you can tell
Here comes the ice cream man.

Flash forward to today’s streets which are now devoid of fun. Schlepping into a local market to buy frozen yuppie yogurt in 80 flavors just isn’t the same thing. The Ice Cream Man cometh not and that’s a shame.

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Old Movies

Why do people consistently want to watch old movies?

There is no one answer but here’s a few that I have come up on my own and by talking with friends, both young and old:

Old movies had substance. Their themes were often universal as was their appeal. There was generally a lot of meat on the bones for the audience to digest.

Old Movies had great actors. These were people who had staying power in the business and were not like today’s flash in the pan “movie stars” who become unknown after a season. Most were household names.

Old movies employed real locations for their shooting and were not completely shot “on set.” This allowed the viewer to see places they would never visit. (Ironically, I once lived in Agoura, California where 90% of the old westerns were filmed.)

Old movies were often shot in black and white (even after the introduction of color film) to make use of dramatic lighting and shadows. Think of Bela Lugosi’s face in Dracula, Jane Darwell’s in The Grapes of Wrath or many of Alfred Hitchcock’s films. These employed imaginative lighting that brought the characters and emotions to life.

Old movies were often film adaptations of proven great books. Again, I cite The Grapes of Wrath among many others. Unlike today, the film adaptations were just that: Adaptations of great books and not off topic creation by hack screen writers.

Old movies had less gratuitous violence and often incorporated more family values as compared to modern films. They did not offend the senses. Today, movies aren’t even considered “good” unless scores of people are killed in 120 minutes.

Old movies used many “real people” extras as opposed to today’s digitally mass-produced crowds. The term “with a cast of thousands” was once a reality that gave a film greater texture. Real people really do look more genuine than the foley edited variety. Consider The Ten Commandments.

Old movies used fewer special effects and relied more on real effects. This created more reality although it did also include some danger for the actors involved. My father, for instance, was pulled into a wall by a large spring after his character was shot in the film The Outlaw.

Old movies developed characters in greater depth and that in turn allowed more viewers to identify with individual characters and the actors who portrayed them. Everyone knew Rick from Casablanca, right?

Old movies were each unique. That is to say, there was no Casablanca 2, 3, 4, etc. Serialization was reserved for the serial shorts that played in theaters before the main attraction. Features were actually featured.

Old movies had richer sound tracks (not better ones). Today’s sound tracks are certainly of a better audio quality but lack the contributions of the studio orchestras that were behind the scenes of old movies. I’m thinking  here of the Swan Theme from Swan Lake in Dracula and many others that used rich orchestration.

Old movies dealt with real life current events realistically. Yes, today’s films do sometimes portray current events but usually not the urgent and realistic manner that old movies did. Consider 1942’s To Be Or Not To Be. The balance between humor and tragedy is perfect in portraying very real current events. That’s my father Gene Rizzi behind Carole Lombard in the movie poster above.

Lastly – Old movies made you cry and laugh out loud. Emotions were not hidden or drowned out under a barrage of Dolby and theater advertisements for local car dealers. When you saw an old movie, you were generally moved one way or the other. That’s why so many of us have a large collection of old movies on DVD or Blue-ray.

These are my observations along with those of some of my friends and colleagues. Do you have any you would like to share here? Please comment.

* Note: While The Grapes of Wrath was shot in black and white, the above theater movie poster was printed in color.

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Guest Post – When Did America Stop Being Safe?

Today’s guest post comes from my wife, Rachel Rizzi.

When I was a child (50 years plus), my family and I depended on national television broadcasts or radio to alert us and the nation as a whole about our safety and unusual or dangerous events. When did this safety practice cease? It seems to me that practice was abandoned shortly after Obama was elected president. Coincidence? While this is still open for debate, it seems so.

Yesterday, Sunday, November 5th I returned home from the supermarket about 3 PM and received a phone call from a friend in Europe alerting me and my husband about a church massacre in Sutherland, Texas. I immediately turned on the TV (ABC, CBS and FOX) to see what had transpired in Texas. Nothing…just the usual Sunday tripe and of course, NFL stuff: Not a word about my countrymen and children being slaughtered at prayer. Not a word at all!

Mainstream media in America has failed our citizens on too many levels, but especially about our safety. The reason behind this failure is speculative, yet not acceptable. When did being brought up to speed about our safety become an optional item? Why is the media ignoring us? Must we as a population depend on social media and sources outside our own country to receive public safety information? Even third-world countries have a better safety delivery systems in place.

These are sad and dangerous times for our country and those who mean us harm are taking advantage of our government’s failure to safeguard us. Our government must define ways to deliver our population safety instructions and important alerts. Will it be national television broadcasting, streaming via internet, cellular or are we on our own?

Every American must know which tools to use to obtain public safety instructions (not limited to weather, natural disasters and nuclear attack). Our government, both federal and local must properly distribute this information to us. It’s our Constitutional right to be safe, as stated in The Declaration of Independence. The media cannot deprive us of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

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To Be PC Or Not To Be

PC – To Be or not to be, that is the question.

I remember a wonderful pancake house / restaurant in Southern California called Sambo’s. The restaurant chain was started in 1957 by Sam Battistone, Sr. and Newell Bohnett. Though the name was taken from portions of the names of its founders, the chain soon found itself associated with the story of Little Black Sambo. It was one of the first “concept” food chains that centered around the book Little Black Sambo by Scottish author Helen Bannerman, first published by Grant Richards in October 1899. Sambo is a South Indian boy who lives with his father and mother, named Black Jumbo and Black Mumbo, respectively. While out walking, Sambo encounters four hungry tigers, and surrenders his colorful new clothes, shoes, and umbrella so they will not eat him. The tigers are vain and each thinks he is better dressed than the others. They chase each other around a tree until they are reduced to a pool of ghee (clarified butter). Sambo then recovers his clothes and collects the ghee, which his mother uses to make pancakes. Hence, this restaurant was decorated with themes from the book and even featured tiger butter for its pancakes. I especially remember those giant walls painted with colorful scenes from the book. It honestly seemed pretty tame for the time and the food was great.

However, the book would become an object of allegations of racism in the mid-20th century. By 1979, Sambo’s had 1,117 outlets in 47 American states. In the late 1970s, controversy over the chain’s name drew protests and lawsuits in communities that viewed the term Sambo as pejorative towards African-Americans, particularly in the Northeastern states. Several of the restaurants were opened as or renamed “The Jolly Tiger” in locations where the local community passed resolutions forbidding the use of the original name or refused to grant the chain permits. Lost in the PC shuffle of the times that followed, Sambo’s Restaurants were forced to close. Only one remains. It is the original location of the first Sambo’s and it is located in Santa Barbara, California. It is owned by Battistone’s grandson Chad Stevens.

If you are ever in Santa Barbara, pay this place a visit. I am sure you won’t find it offensive in the least. It’s just a neat little place to eat and ponder the question: To be PC or not to be?

Note: Here’s the address and phone. 216 W Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA 93101 Phone: (805) 965-3269 Tell them an oldtimer who’s not PC sent you!

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The Civil War – Part Two

Hopefully, everyone reading this has a fairly good understanding of the American Civil War which was fought between 1861 and 1865, resulting in some 750,000 deaths. Let me repeat that number: 750,000. It still stands as a huge black eye on the face of American history. Like so many of our wars, we seemed to have failed to learn much from it. In fact, the whole North versus South thing still exists today. Just drive down any rural highway in the South and you are sure to see many Confederate flags proudly displayed outside homes and businesses. In the South, some would even say that the war never really ended. Feelings of southern patriotism (which I applaud) aside, most of us hope the actual war has gone for good, buried in the past. We certainly don’t want another.

However, let’s pay close attention to what’s happening today. While we’ve been napping, the next great civil war is already at our doorstep. It’s not the North versus the South but rather the Left versus the Right. The divide in our country, while still 50-50, has widened enormously in its animosity since the 2016 election of Donald Trump. The left and the right factions of our nation can not and will not find common ground. The war of words began immediately, even before the election. The first actual shots were fired when Republican Steve Scalise was gunned down on a baseball field. The second shots, in all partial probability, were fired in Las Vegas by wacko Stephen Paddock. The jury is still out on the latter but most signs point to an Alt-Left deranged person wanting to take out perceived country music going Republicans. The folks on the left just have not been content with mere name calling. Their exploits have included tossing a disabled veteran out of his wheelchair, beating up an old lady, destroying property and making public death threats against the president and his supporters.

Much of the Alt-Left’s deeds have been egged on by famous people in our society: Movie stars, singers, NFL football players and a wide girth of other elitists. They have little to lose in the war of words and even less to loose if it comes to a fire fight. They are the chosen few who, surrounded by bodyguards, can afford to pretty much do and say anything they want as they are protected in their ivory towers. The masses that they have called to action do not enjoy such comforts but seem to feel the elitists have their backs. That would probably change immediately if it came down to a full scale war. These upper crust cruddies have a habit of being the first ones through the exit doors.

The Right’s response? Mainly gloating along with the obligatory name calling as well. So far, the right has constrained itself from major acts of violence. But often times, words cut deeper than knives. They are often as guilty as the Left in terms of incendiary word play. Again, the difference is that they haven’t taken to the streets… yet.

So where are we folks? Every week brings more acrimony and more violence. Left leaning California has now become a sanctuary state and many there want to secede from the union. Sound familiar? The pull and push has reached a breaking point and all out civil war is just a blink around the corner. We’re talking the guns, knives and clubs sort of stuff that I would like to believe none of us wants on either side of the political spectrum.

In America, we tend to think in cliches. We often act that way too. The Demtards and the Trumptards are gathered on either side of Bull Run once again. The next few months are critical to this country’s survival. There is still time to save our great republic but it’s going to involve compromise, civility and support of our current government by all sides of the political arena. Are we up to the task? I sincerely hope so. In the meantime, the Alt-Left has called for all out civil war starting November 4. Everyone needs to ask themselves, “If it comes down to shooting, which side will I be on?”

Note: The above painting is of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Seemed apropos so please give this a listen folks….

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