Monday, May 28, 2007


Today was a perfect time to dust off my John Philip Sousa CD.

Sousa (1854-1932) was not only nicknamed the "March King" but this composer and conductor was also considered to be the first American musical superstar. After a 12 year stint as the leader of the U. S. Marine Band, Sousa enjoyed his greater success as the leader of his own band. The Sousa Band as it was called, during a 39 year period, mostly before TV, movies and even the radio, played to sold-out houses throughout the U. S. , Europe and the world.
In addition to being patriotic, Sousa's music is up-lifting as well as motivational . The tune for his most famous march, "STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER" came to him while sailing back from a European tour. He wanted something that would inspire people to appreciate being back in America. You may not recognize the piece by its title but when you hear the crashing cymbals, bombastic brass and chirping piccolos, I'm certain you'll agree that Sousa not only succeeded in reaching his inspirational goal but that he far exceeded it.

The Stars and Stripes Forever is recognized by our government as the official march of the United States. It even has original lyrics by Sousa which were unfortunately unavailable at press time. However, most of you should be be familiar with some of the other words ...that were DEFINITELY not by Sousa, ("Be Kind To Your Web-Footed Friends").

So with today being Memorial Day and with the beat of Sousa's music coursing through my brain, I wish to thank those who have fought...and in far too many instances paid the ultimate price, to keep our America the best damned country on the planet. And please, regardless of your politics, support our brave men and women fighting overseas...specifically in Iraq.

For more information about John Philip Sousa or to hear several samples of his work for free, please visit...

You won't be disappointed.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Summertime is the universal best time of year. When I was young, without the regiment of school and its responsibility, I was free to pursue my favorite things like adventure, friendships and romance. My two best summers were 1974 and 1976.

In '74, RBoy (a loyal reader of my blog) and I got summer jobs at DisneyWorld. From the minute the Greyhound bus dropped us (and our suitcases) off at their employment office, every day down there was filled with great times.

Two years later, in 1976, to celebrate the bi-centennial, I went cross-country. In a combination of riding Greyhounds and hitchhiking, I spent 68 days touring the U. S. and Canada, and even spent an afternoon in Juarez, Mexico. In so doing, I had a continuous flow of positive experiences and met wonderful people.

Interestingly, my brush with greatness, (meeting Dub Jones) is the only event that crossed-over into both summers.

While working at Disney in '74, RBoy and I became friendly with two girls, (Debra and Dee) from Ruston Louisiana. After the summer, I kept a written correspondence with both of them. Two years later when I told them that I was coming across the country, I was invited to their homes.

I spent my first day in Ruston, at Debra's. Her family owned a farm on the outskirts of town. She and her family gave me full rock-star access to the inner workings of middle-America and the agricultural lifestyle, (the sight of seeing a cow give birth has been permanently etched into my psyche).

The next day was spent in town at Dee's house. She took me sightseeing and my tour included a visit to Grambling University. The highlights were; buying a tee-shirt at the school bookstore and watching their famous marching band rehearse.

Our next stop was to the Louisiana Tech campus. The show stopper there was the athletic director's office, (as a New Yorker, it was a shock to me, that we were able to just stroll into this gentleman's unlocked office). Then it was a bigger surprise to see the room crammed, like a shrine, with Terry Bradshaw memorabilia laying around, unattended.

Back in town, I was taken to former major leaguer Wayne Causey's house...but he wasn't home. To offset my disappointment, we went to the grand opening of a Baskin-Robbins. The corporate giant had refurbished Ruston's decayed train depot and converted it into an 1890's themed ice cream parlor. This was big doings for the little town...and it seemed that "everyone" was there. That notion had to be true because we had to wait several minutes before being served. While I was enjoying my pralines and cream in a sugar cone with one hand, and holding my yellow Baskin-Robbins balloon in the other, Dee asked if I wanted to meet Dub Jones.
When I asked who he was, Dee chuckled, "He's Bert Jones father."

Now Bert Jones--he I heard of.  Jones was the star quarterback of the then, Baltimore Colts. I guessed she was running out of local hot-spots so I agreed to meet this guy.

I was taken to a busy lumberyard.  Though the beehive of activity, Dee and I were immediately greeted by a mountain of an old man. He was about 6 foot 6 with a cut physique and a hard but friendly, leathery face. Dee introduced me to Mr. Jones.  He removed his work gloves to shake my hand and said, "Please, y'all can call me Dub." Simultaneously, his massive, calloused bear-claw felt like it had crushed every knuckle I had.

What was funny about him was his voice. He was not only overly loud, but he really sounded like the cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn. For those of you who aren't aficionados of Warner Brothers cartoons, Foghorn Leghorn was a rooster who was apt to loudly boast of his exaggerated feats.

So when Dee informed him that I was from Brooklyn, he said something to the effect of, "I say boy, did I ever tell you that back in '47, I used to play football for the Brooklyn Dodgers?"

I looked at him and thought; get a load of this bullshit artist. After all, the Brooklyn Dodgers WERE a baseball team. It's a good thing I didn't say what I was thinking--because if you think I can be a wise-guy now, you should have seen me back then.

Two months later when I got back home, I began to tell my father the story. He was like a little kid, "You met Dub Jones! Did you get his autograph? Let me see the pictures!"

I said, "You heard of this crackpot?"

"Crackpot? He was my idol when he played football for the Brooklyn Dodgers."

"You mean baseball, right dad?"

"No" he said. "After the war, there was a football team here and Dub Jones was the greatest. A few years later when he was with the Browns, he scored 6 touchdowns in one game."

I felt like an idiot. And now 31 years later I feel like a bigger moron because I looked up that "old man," Dub Jones on Wikipedia and discovered that in 1976, he was 52...well guess how old I am now.

Monday, May 14, 2007


Just because I am a storehouse of useless information, it doesn't mean I remember everything. That's why it is important for you, the loyal reader of this BLOG, to remind of the wonderful, entertaining and educational things I've told you down through the I can recycle them and make it look like fresh material to new readers. One of you did, we'll just call him Phil due to my high regard for this source's privacy.

A million years ago I was the owner, director, instructor and janitor of a casino gaming academy here in AC. One of the students, a gentleman 20+ years older than me named Azamat, ( from a country with the suffix Stan), would always call me, "Meesta Stu."

The first three thousand times I chose not to correct him until I finally said, "Azamat, this is an informal place, you don't have to call me mister...and my name isn't Stu, it's Steve."
To which he responded, "Okay Meesta Stu."

With that in mind, another student from my school became a dealer at the now defunct Sands Casino. When he got his name-tag, he couldn't understand why so many people snickered and/or laughed in his face.
So he asked a friend of mine, "Why do people think my name is funny?"
My friend said, "Because in this country, dung is another word for shit."
The next day Dung's new name-tag read: TONY.

The point of all this is, most of us take the adjustments that foreigners make to fit-in here for granted. Certainly if we were living in an environment where little English was spoken, we'd all struggle one way or another. And if we were suddenly relocated to Finland, Madagascar or Nepal and found out our name had a seriously negative connotation, we, like Dung, would at least change our name-tag too.

That brings us to the above average spy movie from 1966, "THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM." I wanted to see it on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) but missed the showing. So I checked it out in my giant book of movies , "THE GOLDEN VIDEO RETRIEVER," and then got additional info from the "INTERNET MOVIE DATABASE "web-site.

This film starred George Segal and had Max Von Sydow, Senta Berger and some other noteworthy performers. But what I can't figure out is why the guy who was billed eighth as; Oktober's man with pipe...never changed his name.

So I did further research to be sure there wasn't a typo. What I found was, that the spelling was correct and that this actor had quite prolific list of screen credits, mostly from his native Austria. However, in all the ensuing years, you would have thought that his agent or publicist or any English speaking person who liked him, would have mentioned that there is a definite reason why Herbert Fux is not a household name.

Monday, May 7, 2007


Springtime brings out a bad side of me...more specifically, I don't like yard work. Besides being time consuming, tedious and dirty...yard work can also be expensive...and depending on your tolerance to insects, quite annoying...nevertheless, two things are far worse than all else:

#1- The risk and inevitability of personal injuries.


#2 - The risk and inevitability of personal injuries.

For those of you who are more observant than the others you may have noticed that I wrote; the risk and inevitability of personal injuries, twice. The reason for that is simple, (and I am paraphrasing one of my loyal readers MSLemma), I REALLY don't like personal injuries.

I think my problem started when I began weeding the flower beds out front. Energized by my success, I shrugged off the inherent aches and pains, and spruced up the backyard, the next day. We have Florida-Room that has leaders and gutters. Even though I installed "gutter-guards" several years ago, I still need to check up there once a year. It should be noted that I use a five foot ladder and I stand on the next to last rung.

It should also be noted that while up there, all I can think about is-- I AM NOT GOING TO FALL OFF THIS DAMNED LADDER. I think that way in general but it is also still fresh in my mind that one of my readers PERRI, fell off a ladder last fall and he got messed-up physically. He missed a lot of work and then once back, the embarrassment of re-explaining what had befallen him, almost killed him.

So I'm up there on this bright sunny but windy day on my tip-toes, thinking about NOT FALLING when I hear an unusual motorized sound. I look up, and crane my neck but can't seem to spot the sound. For a split second I look directly into the sun as I get a glimpse of a WWI-era bi-plane. At that precise moment, I get a blast of vertigo that causes me to swoon plus a wind gust like no other that day shudders my whole body. Luckily, I caught myself and clung to the Florida room's roof for a second or two. I got my bearings, scurried down and kissed mother earth, A. K. A. my deck.

The next day my wife tells me that I did such a nice weeding job that she now wants to balance our front yard by getting more decorative the ones we already have on the right side This way, we can better "contrast" our flower beds and the lawn on the left side, (you can see where cable channel 54 comes in "handy").

This little project took us to the Somers Point K-Mart. Side by side we carefully examined each piece of masonry before loading the 70 bricks onto a flatbed cart, (editor's note, when you handle any quantity of bricks, wear gloves), . After paying, we re-loaded them into our van. I didn't want to seem like an alarmist but that TON OF BRICKS was really squashing the rear tires down and one looked almost flat. Forward and onward, we made it home and we unloaded the bricks. The tires survived.

Two days later, the rear passenger side tire was almost flat. I filled it was air on my way to work. After work, at 4AM, the tire was again badly deflated but there was enough air to get me to the 24-HOUR filling station on the White Horse Pike. Of course they were closed and the air hoses weren't left outside. But that's okay, three miles up is another station...yes they were closed too and their air hoses were also disconnected. Another mile up, I went into a station that is always closed and their hoses weren't there either. I was beginning to feel deflated! Don't these guys know that at 75c a shot, they are sitting on a goldmine...even when they aren't there.

As I entered Absecon, just before the Sunoco by the Hi-Point Tavern, the tire blew. I rode the rim until I could park it safely. I then froze my butt off and walked a mile to the convenience store (Wawa) to call a taxi. The wait and resulting 5 mile ride took an hour and cost me $17 plus I ruined the tire by riding the rim.

The moral of the story is, nothing good comes from yard work but you still got to do it. So hang on to roof of your Florida-Room and bring a jacket to work even if you think you don't need it.