Friday, March 30, 2007
With that in mind, today is March 30th. It was on this date in 1985 that one of my wife Sue's friends from the old neighborhood, in honor of her new husband's 30th birthday, came to Atlantic City for an over-nighter and to introduce the groom to us.
Its NOT important that the wife was a lawyer but it is important to know that the husband was a psychologist. It is also important to bear in mind...and I'll try to be politically correct here, by not calling this gentleman a fat guy. But because of the oath I took in Journalism Blog School, as well as my overall commitment to truth justice and the American way, I can not in good conscious merely say that he was heavy-set-- ergo, let's just say you wouldn't want to get between him and the last pork chop.
Back in those days I was a craps dealer at the ill-fated Atlantis Casino. For those of you who aren't privy to the Atlantic City landscape of 1985, all the casinos in relation to pay and prestige were about the same with the Atlantis being the only exception. Unfortunately, the Atlantis did not stick-out as being better than the rest...it was a toilet.
So when this couple surprised us with this visit, my employer would not grant me a last-minute day off. I put my name on the E. O. (The Early-Out, is a list designed to let people go home early when the casino is satisfied that they have more than enough personnel to open each shift or to also release more people as business dies-out later on).
In the hope of me getting out early, my wife took them to visit me. They entertained themselves in and around the Atlantis, and came back to spend two breaks with me.
At that point, the husband (it was his first exposure to a casino), asked Sue to show him how to play roulette. The girls watched him for a while and then drifted away to get caught-up and do some intense gossiping. When they came to visit me on my next break, they told me the husband was playing roulette. Soon there after, the girls became tired and bored. They told the husband that they wanted to leave, but he was having too much fun and wanted more time.
The girls managed to occupy themselves again but when they returned, hubby wouldn't leave. They gave him twenty more minutes. When the wives came back, the barnacle played the "birthday card" and refused to budge.
This time my wife said, "How much are you in (how much money have you bought in for)?"
He said, "I got twenty dollars worth, five times."
"Oh, I thought you were getting killed and were trying to get your money back."
"No, I'm just having fun."
"Well look, I gotta go to work in the morning...how much money do you have left?"
The husband counted his chips and said, "Thirty bucks."
Sue said, "Good, today's the 30th and you're thirty years old--put the whole damned thirty dollars on number thirty and let's get out of here."
He ignored the feminine wiles of his wife. But the intensity of her ensuing a dirty sent the proper message. Surprisingly, he did exactly what Sue suggested by putting the whole thirty bucks on number thirty...and WON !!!
The fellow penny-ante players in recognition of his good fortune pounded his back and shook his hand as he asked, "How much did I win?"
The previously anonymous floor supervisor chimed in, "A thousand-fifty, sir."
"Good," said Sue. "Get up! Cash out and leave!"
The supervisor said, "Sir, would you like to be rated?"
Hubby said, "What's being rated."
"Well for one thing, if you're hungry..."
The husband carried his food comp to the casino coffee shop like a trophy. They ordered three shrimp cocktails and two filet mignons. They each had a shrimp cocktail and hubby ate both steaks with all the trimmings...and washed the whole shebang down with a couple of Heinekens.
The "rush" he got from playing was one thing...the bigger thrill from winning was incredible...being congratulated and treated like a superstar by strangers was sensational...BUT...being royally served free gourmet food was orgasmic.
You'd think a psychologist would see through the casino subterfuge but this man didn't. Somewhere in the past 22 years, we fell out of touch with them--but with the knowledge that he had become a degenerate gambler.
Monday, March 26, 2007
The Boston Red Sox are an example of a lower tier team that had rare glimpses at greatness that for decades weren't realized. But the Red Sox proved nothing is impossible by finally shooting-down their eighty-six-year, "Curse of the Bambino," by winning the 2004 World Series.
So who's next to unbridle themselves from a longstanding hex? How about the Chicago Cubs and their, "Curse of the Billy Goat?"
|JUNE 30, 2006, AT BASEBALL'S HALL-OF-FAME, IN COOPERSTOWN, NEW YORK. A COOL MURAL OF THE INFREQUENT CUBS BUZZ AROUND WRIGLEY FIELD.|
Although it may be more of a myth with tons of naysayers calling the whole the idea rubbish, the Chicago Cubs organization still labors under this Billy Goat curse.
Apparently, the whammy was put on them by one of their fans, Vasili "Billy Goat" Sianis. During game-four of the 1945 World Series, Sianis, a local tavern owner bought two tickets for the game...one for him and one for his pet goat, (goat's name might have been, "Murphy." This point could not be confirmed by press time).
The owner of the Cubs P. K. Wrigley got "wind" of the situation and kicked them both out of Wrigley Field because of the goat's questionable odor. In retribution, Sianis put the kibosh on the Cubs by saying, "They would NEVER win another World Series because they insulted my goat."
|MR. SIANIS AND HIS BASEBALL LOVING YET PUNGENT-SMELLING GOAT.|
Well, the Cubbies lost that series to the Detroit Tigers, (in seven games) and haven't won the championship since, (or even appeared in a single World Series).
|OUTSIDE WRIGLEY FIELD, ERNIE "MR. CUB" BANKS POSES WITH THE BRONZE STATUE MADE IN HIS HONOR. DESPITE THIS LEGEND'S UPBEAT, "LET'S PLAY TWO" ATTITUDE, WE ARE REMINDED THAT THE CURSE OF THE BILLY GOAT PREVENTED GREAT CHICAGO CUBS TEAMS; LIKE THE ONE THAT INCLUDED HALL-OF-FAMERS (IN THEIR PRIME) AS BANKS, BILLY WILLIAMS, RON SANTO AND FERGUSON JENKINS...TO NEVER EVEN MAKE THE PLAYOFFS.|
If you take the Cubbies annual exercise in futility one step further--check the record books, they haven't been world champs since,1908.
|THIS LIST MIGHT BE FOUR YEARS OLD BUT THE WHAMMY AGAINST THE CUBS HASN'T CHANGED SINCE.|
From the outside looking in, it appears that Vasili "Billy Goat" Sianis has made his voodoo stand the test of time. But now, it's spring and as the excitement builds towards 2007's opening day, the Cubs whether cursed or not have the same shot as anyone else...for now.
Monday, March 19, 2007
I especially enjoy Bill McGlaughlin, the Peabody award-winning host of the "Exploring Music" program. It airs weeknights at 7:PM, and in addition to his insights, he mixes the music with, the history of the piece, its composer and/or its performers.
Last week, he was taking E-Mail requests and a listener wanted to hear Lily Pons sing La Marseillaise (the French national anthem). Even though I don't understand the words, I have always found that tune to rousing.
So I was thrilled...until he said, "After exhaustive research, no recording could be found of her singing it." But Mr. McGlaughlin did go on to explain the unique circumstance that made her performance special.
Lily Pons (1898-1976) was a French-born opera superstar. After getting "discovered," she came to the U. S. and became the New York Metropolitan Opera's principle soprano from 1931-1960.
While in Paris during the German occupation of WWII, Ms. Pons performed an Italian opera (I'm sorry, I didn't catch the title) to a capacity house that included German generals and other dignitaries of the Third Reich. After several curtain calls, she returned to the stage draped in a French flag and sang La Marseillaise...despite the fact that the Germans had banned it.
McGlaughlin neglected to mention what retributions were suffered by the performers. As well as the previously dormant, overwhelmingly French audience, whose patriotism was spurred by the impromptu encore. Hopefully, there weren't any?
The host also failed to give the date of this performance. Which leads me to one of my favorite movies, "CASABLANCA." In a film that featured so many great performances and so many memorable lines, its easy to overlook the singing of La Marseillaise. However, you may recall towards the end, German officers took over Sam's piano and sang their regimental songs at the bar. The anti-Nazi majority bowed their heads in defeat until Victor Laszlo instructed the band to play the French anthem. The band's singer became energized and led the crowd in drowning-out the Germans, ala Lily Pons.
So I pose the age old question; what came first...did Lily Pons steal the screen writer's idea or vice versa?
Your decision should be made easier by a couple of historic facts: The German occupation of France started in June of 1940 and Casablanca, with actual stock footage of the take-over, came out in 1942.
Also, remember after Rick's drunken flashback of the Germans marching into Paris he said to Ilsa, "I remember every detail, they wore gray and you wore blue." Later he also said, "We'll always have Paris."
So the cat is out of the bag, the screenwriter got his idea from Ms. Pons.
Therefore, Lily Pons, in addition to her lifetime achievements on stage should also be remembered for her heroism, patriotism and inspiration.Now that I wet your whistle, go ahead and Google, La Marseillaise. Its history alone is fascinating (it was written 1n 1792) and wait till you read the English translation of the lyrics, (we'll water our crops with the blood of our enemies), is just one example.
As you know "MORE GLIB ThAN PROFOUND," prides itself on being non-political...but think about it, how can those weaselly Frogs face each other, especially when you consider their war-time road-record...while zestfully singing their anthem.
Still, its a catchy ditty, to me. So go ahead check it out, I think you'll like it too.
Friday, March 16, 2007
The film starts off as a comedy and ends up as a melodrama. Towards the beginning, one of the funny parts was, Walter Matthau getting annoyed by a neighbor's continuous gas mileage boasting. To thwart the bore, Matthau starts a campaign of siphoning this man's gas at night.
When the neighbor stops bragging, Matthau has to fight off the laughter when he asks, "So how's your gas mileage?"
I am hoping that something like that is what is happening to me.
At the end of January, we had a dusting of snow. It had been such a mild winter that my snow shovel was still in the shed. Our barn-style shed is in the furthest corner of our yard and is about a hundred feet from our Florida room. When I got to the shed, the double doors were improperly shut. The left door is equipped with two pegs on the inside that get set into holes (one in the floor and another on the top of the door jamb) that anchor it down and align it to the right door. Because the left door wasn't in place, the doors were shut but weren't closed enough to prevent small woodland creatures from getting in.
I looked inside and didn't find any unwanted furry guests or anything out of place. I shut the door properly and made a mental note to discuss this with Andrew because he doesn't always shut the door the right way...but I forgot.
Last week I let the dog out back and noticed that the doors to the shed weren't laying flush. I investigated and found that the doors had again been opened and improperly closed. I made a closer examination inside and was convinced that none of our crap seemed moved or tampered with and I concluded that NO ONE (SUCH AS A HOMELESS PERSON) WAS HOPPING OUR FENCE , BREAKING INTO THE SHED AND SLEEPING THERE ! (It should also be noted, that unless you were taking something big out or putting something big in, there is no reason to open the left door).
I thought this was odd, because at this time of year, there really isn't any reason for any of us to be using the shed. In any event I asked both Andrew and Sue, and neither of them had opened it for months. So, being the pro-active Sherlock Holmes-type that I am, in addition to closing the doors, this time I locked them too.
The day before Andrew's Bar Mitzvah with so much to do and so little time, I made the mistake of looking at the shed. From the distance, it was hard to tell whether the doors were shut or not. I took the dog for protection, (you may recall that when Roxy sees someone getting attacked, she doesn't attack the assailant, she attacks the victim). Anyway to my surprise, if not horror, the doors were pulled out of their mooring but remained locked. I opened the doors, checked inside and re-locked the door. I even pulled with all my might and I'm telling you, those doors WON'T budge.
I'm NOT testing you, this isn't a riddle, a joke or a puzzle...this is real. I've ruled out an alien presence although the Sci-Fi Network had a two-hour documentary about something oddly similar occurring at the shed outside the Sphinx in 1937. But in that case, all the sand around the Sphinx was displaced and re-shaped in the Sci-Fi Network's logo.
I'm hoping its just a Pre-April Fools Day prank by my strange neighbor. I'm sure he's not clever enough to pull it but you may recall that he has built a twig facsimile of the the Great Wall of China between our properties, (its still there if you want to check it out). Also, because of our crazy hours, he'd never know when would it be safe for him to do it.
In any case, if this mystery persists, I'll have to get surveillance cameras put in, other than that...you guys have any suggestions?
Monday, March 12, 2007
One off-shoot of those days became our monthly poker nights...which just celebrated its 15th anniversary...even though we only meet about five times a year now. Another scion was the formation of a (Thursday-Friday days off) clique. At a time before family responsibility overwhelmed us and new casino venues around the country splintered us, large groups of couples, plus singles would meet on our days off. A lot of my MORE GLIB ThAN PROFOUND readers will remember that because you were in the group. We went to the movies, bowling, the Greek Fair, restaurants and the like. But mostly we went to each others houses.
I remember FrankieRio once brought a VHS tape of a comedian that I never heard of to Doreen's house. Frankie hyped the guy as the funniest up-and-coming stand-up superstar, and the tape was indeed hilarious. The comic's name was Richard Jeni and I unfortunately stress the word "was" because I just read that Jeni died today of an apparent self-inflicted gun shot wound.
Jeni (49) from Brooklyn, never became a household name nor did he reach the heights that Frankie projected for him. But if you examine his list of credits, he was quite successful and seemed to have plenty to live for. I'm sure an investigation will shed some light into the underlying motives that led to this tragedy.
I liked being a part of our "rat-pack" and sometimes wish those days could be recaptured. And in those remembrances, I'll always associate Richard Jeni doing his Platypus-Man routine. Even if you are not familiar with his work, trust me, we lost a good one.