Monday, January 27, 2014

THE COCKAMAMIE KID

I’m not easily entertained but in September 1978, when I enrolled at the New York School of Gambling, I had no idea that I would become fascinated by every movement of fellow student, Barney Kush. Today, I'm sensitive to the real problems caused by Aspergers, ADHDOCD or adult ADD...but thirty-five years ago, I'm ashamed to admit, that my ignorance of Kush’s eccentricities made him hysterical.

There must be something strange about that name because Kush remains the only real person I ever met named Barney. Years later, I thought Barney the Purple Dinosaur was the essence of weirdness while the only other Barneys I can think of (Fife and Rubble) were fictional oddballs too.
FROM 1960-1965, DON KNOTTS (left) AS TV's BARNEY FIFE SYMBOLIZED THE SMALL TOWN, BUMBLING FOOL, POLICE OFFICER.

My gambling school’s student body was almost exclusively under thirty-years old, (I was twenty-three). Despite the age similarities, three main cliques divided the pupils, (the jet-setters, the good people and the *kruds). Barney Kush was so strange that no group wanted any part of him.  Unfortunately for him, his ambition was to be accepted by the jet-setters...and that NEVER happened!

*It's true that the term “nerd” was already in use. But alternative epitaphs like “krud” were popular in certain social circles until “nerd” earned its eternal universality.
THE STEREOTYPIC TERM "NERD" SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN CEMENTED INTO THE FABRIC OF OUR CULTURE IN 1973.  IT USUALLY REPRESENTS THE UNCOOL OR SOCIAL MISFITS WHO ARE OVERLY INTELLECTUAL, SHY, UNATTRACTIVE OR HAVE DEEP-SEEDED INTERESTS IN NON-MAINSTREAM ACTIVITIES.  THE TERM REPLACED,"SQUARE" OR "DRIP" AND IS CURRENTLY AN ACCEPTABLE SYNONYM FOR "GEEK."  MANY PEOPLE FEEL "NERD" ORIGINATED FROM "KNURD" (DRUNK SPELLED BACKWARDS) WHICH IMPLIED THOSE INDIVIDUALS STUDIED RATHER THAN PARTIED.

At dealer school, I was one of the “good people.” We were noted for being easy-going and down to earth. Therefore, we were willing to socialize with the upwardly mobile as well as the socially inept. Of course there were rare exceptions and with Barney Kush, we drew the line. But it was a moot point because he shunned the good people by lumping us together with the kruds.

Barney was a bright, good-looking kid. But he was a hyper, selfish, (self-centered) chatterbox, know-it-all. I watched his annoying personality in action and saw why he was friendless, (two jet-setters, Nick Tucker and his girlfriend Tish occasionally advocated that the others didn’t pick on Barney. But Tish made it clear that Barney creeped her out and that her skin crawled when he got too close to her).

Kush’s biggest problem was, he couldn’t be still or keep quiet. His nervous energy caused one commotion after another. It seemed impossible but everyday; he made himself more detestable, by trying too hard, to get in good with the jet-setting “in-crowd.”

These three distinctly segregated social groups were blended into every course, (craps, blackjack, roulette and baccarat). So the only time this caste system was clearly defined was before class, during breaks and after school. The king of the jet-setters was an enormous gym rat who worked as a nightclub bouncer in the Bronx named, “Party” Artie Cisco.
WAY BEFORE I HEARD OF STEROIDS OR HUMAN GROWTH HORMONES, PARTY ARTIE (stock photo above, not him) WAS THE BIGGEST GUY I KNEW.  THE ULTIMATE CONTRADICTION, ARTIE WAS A DOPEY, WORK-OUT JUNKIE WHO EPITOMIZED THE "JERSEY SHORE" MENTALITY.  HE SPOKE OF THE HEALTHY BENEFITS OF DIET AND EXERCISE WHILE PREACHING ABOUT VITAMINS AND NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS.  YET HE SMOKED UNFILTERED PALL MALLS LIKE A FIEND, BRAGGED ABOUT "RECREATIONAL" DRUG USE AND DRANK LIKE A FISH.

Before class, sweet-talking Party Artie wooed one of the receptionists (Phyllis). In a short time, this tramp, (soon to be nicknamed "Sif,"as in Sif-Phyllis) was wrapped around Cisco's finger.  "Sif" didn't mind because in exchange for pot or cocaine and the status of being included when the jet-setters went clubbing, she, during business hours, performed various sex acts in empty conference rooms with Artie…and upon request, his high echelon cronies.

Barney Kush tried to tap into her carnal resources. But he was so annoying that Phyllis didn’t complain to school administrators about his pushy sexual advances, she took her grievance to Artie. To prove how messed-up Barney was…even with his new black eye and bloody lip, he never stopped condescending against those who stood in the way of his wants.
IS IT GOOD MEDICINE?  TODAY, OVER SIX MILLION AMERICAN CHILDREN (EVEN TWO-YEAR OLDS) ARE BEING FORCE-FED CONTROVERSIAL, POWERFUL, TOXIC, PSYCHIATRIC MEDS, LIKE RITALIN.  LORD KNOWS WHAT WAS WRONG (IF ANYTHING), WITH BARNEY KUSH BUT IF RITALIN WOULD HAVE HELPED HIM, THEY SHOULD HAVE PRESCRIBED HIM A DAILY BUCKET FULL.

Learning to deal craps, DID NOT come naturally to me. But in my defense, only a few people such as Barney Kush stood-out as talented. For the vast majority of us getting the knack was a slow process. Additionally, a small amount of others gave the impression that they weren’t bright enough to ever “get it.”

Despite a hilarious personality and enough charisma for the rest of the school, it was apparent that "Party" Artie Cisco would never, "get it."  He lacked the mental agility to solve simple craps tasks or the fine physical agility to handle casino chips.

On several occasions when Artie’s cherished twenty-minute turn to deal in a mock craps game came up, he’d fail miserably. While the rest of the class patiently waited during these lulls, hyper-active Barney was driven crazy. He had learned the hard way not to criticize Artie. So when a vapor-lock over-came the big fellow, Kush struggled to pent-up his instinct to make corrections.  When Cisco was frozen by indecision,, my true entertainment came from watching Barney agonize, twitch and contort while holding himself back from springing over the table to "help."  Artie might have been stupid but he could sense (and hated) Barney's negative energy. So he'd give Kush a murderous stare down. The message always came across loud and clear.  To save face, Barney would change the subject and either brag about his winning football bets or whine about his losses...he did a lot more whining.

While Cisco struggled to deal craps, Barney frequently lamented about his degenerate gambling habit and owing loan sharks. Artie could barely concentrate on his work without distractions, so when these sob stories were brought up, the practice session temporarily came to a halt.

Artie had claimed to have been a collector for a bookie. He didn’t want to publicly talk about his mob connections nor did he want to hear about this schmuck risking life and limb over penny-ante ten-dollar bets. So Cisco’s response always was, “If yuh don’t eat garlic, yuh don’t stink.” That was his way of saying; if you pay your debts, you have nothing to worry about.

Like being unable to stop picking at a scab, something in Barney's inherit wiring couldn't stop him from pestering people.  When he gravitated too close and violated Cisco's personal space, the giant would shove him aside as if flicking away a cockroach.

Still, Kush NEVER stopped.  If he didn’t get the attention he demanded, he exploded into tantrums aimed at humiliating Artie. Cisco would have been justified to punch his lights out every day but didn't. When Barney sensed he was getting away with murder, he’d insist, for everyone’s betterment including Artie’s, that everybody would learn more about dealing craps by watching him.

The title of Judge Judy’s 1996 book, “DON’T PEE ON MY FOOT AND TELL ME IT’S RAINING,” sums up Kush’s tactics for tip-toeing around insulting Cisco’s intelligence while stealing his practice dealing time.
JUDITH SHEINDLIN (1942-PRESENT) WAS A NYC LAWYER AND FAMILY COURT JUDGE.  IN 1996,HER HARD-NOSED TV SHOW "JUDGE JUDY" REVITALIZED COURT ROOM REALITY PROGRAMMING. NOW IN IT'S EIGHTEENTH SEASON, SHE AND IT ARE STILL GOING STRONG WITH 4,375+ EPISODES UNDER THEIR BELT.

It’s hard to admit but if it wasn’t for Kush’s obsessive compulsive behavior and condescending personality, it was indeed educational to watch him deal craps. The jerk thrived during the pressurized, frenetic pace and easily made sense of what seemed like incredible chaos. Others were mesmerized too and a couple of them confided in me that they fantasized about being as proficient as him.

I was always shocked that a tough-guy like Artie wouldn’t stand his ground or be sharp enough to know he was being manipulated away from something he needed, (he had to know that craps dealing, like body-building can only be achieved through repetition).

To minimize this bullying, the instructor interceded a few times. But the public embarrassment factor of being "on-stage" and failing was more than Cisco could take. He claimed that he studied and practiced at home before whimpering, "I should concentrate more on blackjack.  So, it would be better for me to watch."

Kush had no internal shut-off switch. So if the big, dumb lummox didn’t step-down quickly enough, he’d physically push him. Incredibly, Cisco never smacked him. Then while dealing, Kush would take-on the role of teacher and rattle off a barrage of related questions that Artie (who rarely paid attention) was never prepared to answer. When Barney went too far, Artie went directly to harsh death threats. But Kush would only smile and say, “If you’re serious about learning, during the break, I’ll give you some real drills and a one-on-one ‘ultra-work-out’ which is more than this ‘gentleman’ would ever do, (as he pointed to our instructor).”

Barney Kush knew Artie Cisco better than Artie did. These promised work-outs never happened because during the breaks, Artie was addicted to the nickel-a-point Hearts game that was played in the school’s break room.
HEARTS IS BEST SUITED FOR FOUR PLAYERS. AT FIVE MINUTES PER HAND, THIS EVASION-TYPE, TRICK TAKING GAME IS IDEAL FOR KILLING SHORT PERIODS OF TIME. THE OBJECT IS TO AVOID THE HEARTS (ONE POINT EACH AND THE QUEEN OF SPADES, THIRTEEN POINTS).

This break room was an opened-ended alcove that overlooked the casino-like classroom.  Crammed into this tight space was an el-shaped formation of five vending machines, two round tables with chairs and a counter with four bar stools.

Artie and his jet-set crew use this space to their play fast-paced hearts game. Like a minor league, the other table featured "good people" and sometimes "kruds," also playing hearts but not for money.

Early on, Barney Kush was excluded from the cash game.  In addition to never shutting up, the regularity of his tics, shudders and surpressed fits ruined the concentration of the players.  Plus the quirkiness of his OCD? required him to stack his nickels and dimes in precise formations. But the biggest problem was...he was always broke...and tried to play on credit, (he could have played for free with us…but we didn’t qualify to be a part of his social strata).

Kush was relugated to watching the game. On one occasion, he positioned himself behind Cisco. His constant movement unnerved who Artie said, "Beat it, skidmark." Barney drifted behind other players. They shooed him away when they couldn’t take his kibbitzing.
"KIBBITZING," IS UNSOLICITED OR WANTED OR UNHELPFUL ADVICE FROM SPECTATORS, ESPECIALLY DURING CARD GAMES.
Kush returned to Artie and noodged him about his poor strategy. Cisco generally ignored the wearying bore's tedius badgering.  But he was on a losing streak and when he got fed-up with the nagging he snapped! Artie Cisco stood up, grabbed the chair and swung it at Barney’s head. Kush was laughing as he ran out. In the classroom, he crossed paths with Phyllis the receptionist and made a U-Turn.

Under the pretense of wanting a candy bar, Phyllis came to hang-out with Artie and the jet-setters. Barney followed her in. During the heat of the next hand, she wasn’t getting the attention she was craving and said to Artie, “I want uh Almond Joy but I ain't got no change…” The game continued, no one responded to her. Seconds later, Artie got stuck with the queen, (he was the big loser again…this time for over a dollar).  Out of frustration, he emptied out his arsenal of profanity. The other players didn't want to further piss him off and didn't respond to her.

Phyllis wasn't bright enough to notice his foul mood.  She held out a five-dollar bill and carped, “Ar-dee, I doan want it fuh nuthin', I jus' need change." Artie had an odd smile as he raised up out of his seat and sneered, “You want a friggin' Almond Joy?” She perked up, “Uh-huh.” The goliath reached around the candy machine.  With a Herculean grunt, he pinned the over-sized dead weight against the wall and lifted it off the ground. Pulsating veins were protruding from Cisco's neck and forehead as he heavily dropped it. Artie repeated the process. Others from the classroom and office rushed over to see what the loud commotion was all about. On the third try, like a winning a slot machine, candies fell into the hopper as a flood of quarters spit out onto the floor.

Artie pulled out two Hershey Bars, a bag of chips and a roll of Life-Savers. He laughed, “Sorry Sif, we’re all out of Almond Joys.” He gave the candy to Phyllis, put his arm around her waist and led her away as his hand slid down to her butt.

The second his back was turned, Barney dove on the floor and started picking up the coins. Artie turned and yelled, “You low-life scum!  This is for G.P.," (general principals or maybe Barney was also annoying someone else with those initials).  Cisco grabbed Barney off the ground by the back of his collar, pushed him against the soda machine and broke his nose with one colossal punch.

The next day, all the vending machines were bolted to the wall. Also, it was no surprise to me that Barney had two shiners and a huge bandage taped to his face...but he never spoke of the incident.

Barney graduated in early December and decided to move to Las Vegas. He was refused job placement probably because his screwy nature might be a poor reflection on the school. But Barney used his grating personality and wouldn’t take no for an answer.  He negotiated himself into getting sent to the El Cortez which for a newbie, (grossing about $300.00/week), was the top of the line.

Artie graduated a couple of weeks later. He (and many others) learned the hard way that the school lied about being accredited by the *State of New Jersey. So if he pursued a gaming career in Atlantic City, he would have been required to retake, (and repay for) all the courses he spent over $1,500.00 and eight months on.

*I guess Artie Cisco never got into the legal end of the gaming business because I never heard whatever happened to him. The New Jersey Casino Control Commission (NJCCC) was so afraid of the underworld infiltrating it’s casinos that the licensing background check mandated strict disclosure of family associations and prior employment histories. So if Cisco was a bookie’s collector with ties to organized crime, I doubt he would have been granted authorization to work here.

The school’s job placement service sent me, (January 1979, in Las Vegas),  to a terrible craps dealing job. I toiled at the Slots-A-Fun Casino for $150.00/week (gross) until early April.
BY COMPARISON, BARNEY'S SELF-MADE "JUICE" BROUGHT HIM TO PARADISE. LOCATED DOWNTOWN, THE EL CORTEZ CASINO IS A BLOCK FROM THE EASTERN EDGE OF TODAY'S "FREMONT EXPERIENCE."  BUILT IN 1941, THE "TEZ'S" SPANISH COLONIAL REVIVAL-STYLE EARNED THE STRUCTURE A PLACE IN THE NATIONAL REGISTRY OF HISTORICAL BUILDINGS.

On a cold, misting, rainy afternoon in February, Barney Kush came into Slots-A-Fun. He had no jacket and was drenched and shivering when he asked for a job. He acted as if he didn’t know me…and that was fine. Despite being sopping wet, he took an audition, wowed the bosses and was told that he would start that night.

On my break, I saw him leaving. He seemed so calm and in control that I figured it would be harmless to flag him down. What a mistake!

We chatted outside, underneath an awning. He went from zero to hyped-up in seconds. He was twitching, complaining and looking over his shoulder as if he was expecting to get jumped. Between facial tics he said, “Can I borrow twenty bucks?” I politely said, “No.” He then scanned the area before whispering, “Does Tish work here?” I said, “No.” “Does she gamble here?” I said, “No.” “Do any of her friends?” I said, “No.”

Barney wasn’t reacting to run-off water dripping on his shoulder. I said, “You okay?” His body had a split-second spasm as he said, “Well, actually no. I got fired from the Tez (the El Cortez) last week and I’m fucked for cash. I had to hock my car.” He used his thumb to point to a 50CC dirt bike getting rained on in the alley and added, “So I had to borrow my neighbor’s Honda.”
BARNEY'S "RIDE" LOOKED LIKE  TOY.  IT WAS DIFFICULT BUT I CONTROLLED MYSELF FROM SAYING, "I'D RATHER SEE MY SISTER IN A WHOREHOUE THAN MY BROTHER ON A HONDA." 

I said, “Why did you get fired?” Barney said, “I was the only one who knew craps in that whole shithouse. So when someone needed help, I wasn’t trying to be a hero, I helped because I’m a team player…” I rolled my eyes as he continued, “The games always get out of control but at least I can handle it. Then some flea comes in and buries me with tons of nonsense props (proposition bets are long shots). When the prick gets impatient, I tell him if you want to keep the game moving, stop making all these cockamamie bets.”

I said, “Geez.” Barney said, “My supervisor is a drunken old man who couldn’t deal that kind of action if his life depended on it. Wanna know what that fossil said? ‘You can’t tell a guy to NOT make prop bets, that’s our bread and butter. You know the PC (house percentage) on them?’ So I say, you know how much this toilet losses if those cockamamie bets cause the dice to stop?”

“Could you believe it, I'm killing myself trying to teach this douche the ins and outs of his own business and he fired me? I can’t imagine who they dragged in off the street to take my place…” I looked at my watch and cut him off, “I gotta go.”

Barney knew I was giving him the brush and growled, "Brilliant."  Then he switched gears, perked up and said, "Can you at least spot me ten till pay day?"  I flashed back to the degenerate gambling habit he advertized at school and said, "Sorry."  Most people would have said; thanks any way, but he looked disappointed and surprisingly said nothing.  I can't imagine what he was calling me in his mind as he spun in place and walked out into a stronger rain. 

I was turning away when he called out to me, "You know, um, er...my brother..." Slots-A-Fun had no name-tags so it was obvious he never invested any brain space at school for the names of kruds.  We gravitated towards each other but this knucklehead's body was still partially exposed to the elements.  I watched the rain pelting his side and was convinced that he was sick in the head.  In that awkward moment, I tried to recall the term; idiot savant, but couldn't.

Barney put his wet hand on my shoulder, looked into my eyes and said, "Wouldn't you feel better lending me at least five dollars and knowing I had enough gas to get back and forth on my first night?" 

I had twelve dollars in my pocket, (as bright as he was and with all that dealing ability, I wondered if he realized how awful this job was...).  Either way, I didn't want to give-up any money...especially to him.  But he looked so pathetic.  My armor-coated force field was dissolving when the rain cascading off his pant-leg felt like he was peeing on my foot.  I said, "Sorry, I'm broke."  He was violently waving his arms and M-F'ing the world as he marched back to the tiny bike and puttered away.

Later that day, it was drizzling at five minutes to six. Outside, I saw Barney walking (not riding) the motor bike into the alley. He was all wet again except his white shirt was stained by automotive grease.  When he walked past my craps table, I saw blood seeping through at his elbow. His black slacks were badly frayed to the middle of his right shin and two mud streaks extended across his right cheek.

The boss that hired him had already gone home. So the swing-shift boss says, “Are you Kush?"  Barney nodded. The boss said, "What happened to you?” Barney said, “Drove into a pot-hole, went into a skid and took a spill. But I’m ready to work!” The boss said, “I admire your willingness but we can’t have you looking that this. I’ll hold your job. Can you be back all cleaned up in an hour?” Barney said, “Fuck you! I didn’t want to work for this cockamamie outfit anyway.” He limped away and left the bike behind.

I called Ciro the Zero (back then he was still Ciro the Hero) as soon as I got home. I told him about Barney. He said, “I’ll make a couple of calls and we’ll find out what’s what.”

An hour later, he called back and said, “Nick Tucker (one of the jet-setters from school) said, ‘Vegas was eating Barney alive way before the Tez fired him. Just like New York, he had no friends. Except here, he got caught-up with more gambling, booze and whores than ever. He was always broke so losing his job was the last straw. When Barney found out that Nick and Tish broke up, he conned her into letting him stay over a few days until he got on his feet. She came back from work on the second day and her apartment was stripped to the walls of anything that could be sold…and the neighbor’s putt-putt scooter was gone too.’” 

I said, "I knew he was a looney-toon but..." Ciro interrupted, "Someone like Barney always has someone after him.  I bet he only had the clothes on his back...and nowhere to go.  Guys like that get desperate, do stupid things and wind up six feet under...we got a pretty big desert out here..."

Over the next thirty-four years, I have NEVER heard of a Barney Kush sighting. That doesn’t mean he’s dead…but it seems news of even the most obscure old-timers always pops up.

I still like to consider myself to be a "good person." And now that I’m aware of Aspergers, ADHD, OCD and adult ADD, I guess I’m supposed to feel sorry for those afflicted…but forgive me, whether that cockamamie kid was sick and couldn't control himself or not, I still draw line and don't pity Barney Kush.

Monday, January 20, 2014

1914 - 2014 - 2114

I have worked in the casino industry for thirty-four years. In that time, the area where I have separated myself from the crowd, is international relations.  While others in my position lack the patience or interest to breakdown the walls of our customers' ethnic, language and cultural differences, I have become a beacon of positive energy to legions of international fans.  My never-ending following (universal appeal) pops up almost daily and seeks me out because I single-handedly contradict the notion of the "Ugly American."

The Ugly American concept is simple; we travel abroad and arrogantly batter everyone over the head with how perfect the USA is...while implying that they are unimportant, uninteresting, less intelligent or lacking in ingenuity.

Atlantic City attracts a global clientele.  To get me through the average work day, while entertaining patrons, (and myself) I took the time to teach myself what I call, "Ten words in ten languages."  I admit this knowledge is superficial but when people expect all Americans to know NOTHING about their way of life, they are pleasantly surprised that I know anything!

It helps being a "storehouse of useless information" and having a good memory because this technique allows me to say SOMETHING in several tongues, (usually, hello, good luck and thank you...as well as numbers, colors and other random words).  Occasionally, in my spiel, I intentionally make a buffoon out of myself through mispronounciation...or just knowing I'm butchering the language with the wrong word, for comic effect.

Thanks to my Guru SAL, today's blog centers on the Hindi word for the number fourteen.  For the sake of simplicity, it is phonetically spelled C-H-A-R-D-E.  However, their version of the F-Bomb is C-H-O-D-E.  I can't tell you how much mileage I get toying with this little idiocyncrasy that no Ugly American would ever take the time to learn, see the humor in or bring to market.

My original idea was to reflect on the year 1914 and sight the significance that year had on the ten decades since.  But I was CHODED because 1914 was a pretty dull year. 

Yes 'Charde, (get it, it's Hindi for '14) had some good things happening like:

-   Ford Motors wages go from $2.40/hr (nine hour day), to $5.00/hr (eight hour day).

-   Panama Canal opened

-   Charlie Chaplin's tramp character debuts in, "AUTO KID RACES AT VENICE."

-   First successful blood transfusion (Brussels Belgium).

-   George Bernard Shaw's, "PYGMALION" debuts.

-   Coal mine collapse in Eccles West Virginia, 181 dead.

-   Mother's Day is established.

-   Babe Ruth debuts as a Boston Red Sox pitcher.

-   Greyhound Bus Lines open.

-   First airplane flight (beyond the sight of land)  Scotland to Norway.

-   Mahatma Gandhi's first arrest, campaigning for Indian rights in South Africa...chode.

-   Robert Goddard patents liquid rocket fuel...chode again !

-   First traffic light in USA, (E.  105th Street and Euclid) Cleveland Ohio.

-   Banditos Pancho Villa and Zapata overrun Mexico.

1914 also saw the deaths of George Westinghouse and John Muir. 
JOHN MUIR (1838-1914) IS FREQUENTLY OVER-LOOKED AS A GREAT AMERICAN HERO.  HE CHAMPIONED THE CAUSE OF PRESERVING OUR WILDERNESS WHILE HELPING TO ESTABLISH THE NATIONAL PARKS SYSTEM...GEORGE WESTINGHOUSE (1846-1914) BECAME FILTHY RICH DEVELOPING THE COMMERCIAL USE OF ELECTRICITY.  A RIVAL OF THOMAS EDISON, THEY BOTH DESTROYED NIKOLA TESLA (1856-1943) WHO MIGHT HAVE LACKED THE BUSINESS GUILE AND STREET SMARTS BUT WHO NONETHELESS INVISIONED ELECTRICAL POWER TO BE FREE FOR THE MASSES.

Some of the notable births of 1914 include;

-   George Reeves (TV's Superman).

-   Gypsy Rose Lee (Burlesque actress).

-   Ida Lupino  (Actress, director)

-   Bill Veeck (Baseball team owner, innovator).

-   Alec Guiness (Actor)
GEORGE REEVES (1914-1959).  HIS BIRTH MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE YEAR.  HE STANDS OUT AS MY FAVORITE SUPER-HERO, (SORRY ANDREW AND THE REST OF YOU BATMAN FANS).  IF SUPERMAN WAS AROUND TODAY, I WONDER IF HE COULD STRAIGHTEN-OUT OUR MISGUIDED YOUTH AND THEIR BOGUS SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT...WITHOUT PUKING.

I purposely didn't mention World War I.  Yes, "the war to end all wars," dominated 1914's news.  It was such a chode-ing blight on that year and history it self...that all the positives mentioned above seem unimportant in comparison.
INCREDIBLY SAD, WORLD WAR I (1914-1918) FEATURED TRENCH WARFARE. THIS EXERCISE IN FUTILITY, FEATURED SOLDIERS FIGHTING FOR A FEW FEET OF UNIMPORTANT TERRITORY.  WHILE BEING SLAUGHTERED BY NEW MASS-KILLING TECHNOLOGY THAT WAS INCONVENIENTLY WAY AHEAD OF THE STRATEGIES THAT MIGHT PROTECT THEM.
I wonder what our world will be like a hundred years from now?  Will our greatest fear of computers taking over like in 1968's, "2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY," come true. 
YOU MAY RECALL, THE HAL 9000, (HEURISTICALLY PROGRAMMED ALGORITHMIC COMPUTER) TAKES OVER THE SPACE SHIP.  WHEN THE ASTRONAUT SAYS, "OPEN THE POD DOORS PLEASE, HAL."  THE COMPUTER ANSWERS, "I'M SORRY DAVE, I'M AFRAID I CAN'T DO THAT."

Ironically, many people are speculating that within the next hundred years, we will implant ourselves with computer chips and become exactly what we were the most afraid of...cybernetic robots.  How about 2114 bringing us flying cars for local travel? Or being beamed across oceans in seconds.  I say, it won't be far-fetched that our space program will place colonies on the moon, Mars etc. 

On the flip side, are we in chode-ing deep shit?  Will the other nations of the world band together to destroy the Ugly Americans? Or will a REAL conflict end all wars and threaten the planet's ability to survive?  Or will Earth be saved by aliens from a parallel universe who promise to improve our way of life, by ending hatred, curing disease and feeding every corner of our world? 
"THE TWILIGHT ZONE" FIRST AIRED ONE OF MY FAVORITE EPISODES, (MARCH 2 1962),  CALLED, "TO SERVE MAN."  IT FEATURED BENEVOLENT ALIENS WHO READ FROM A GREAT BOOK CLAIMING IT WOULD HELP OUR SOCIETY.  COUNTLESS HUMAN VOLUNTEERS BOARDED THEIR MOTHERSHIP FOR A BETTER LIFE IN OUTER SPACE...UNTIL CRYPTOLOGISTS DECIPHERED THE CONTENTS AS...A COOK BOOK.

Maybe in a hundred years, the babies being born now will reap the fruit of our kid's brilliance.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to be confident that our great grandchildren will realize a better civilization that we could ever imagine through the hard work and genius of our grandchildren.  If not, when the good visitors from Planet Xenon arrive, I hope future Edelblums will be sharp enough to learn a few inter-galactic phrases, to disspell the notion of the Ugly Earthling.

Monday, January 13, 2014

THE POLAR-VORTEX, THE COLDEST DAY IN TWENTY YEARS

This past Tuesday, (January 7, 2014), the high temperature here was only 12°. The TV meteorologist blamed a “Polar-Vortex” as he proclaimed it to be the coldest day in twenty years. For me, it’s hard enough to call a weatherman, “a meteorologist” with a straight face…but a Polar-Vortex? Where do they come up with this crap? Then as if I needed a belly laugh, on top of having my intelligence insulted, the weather dude called this rare arctic phenomena, a part of "Winter Storm Hercules."

I never got the memo that announced cold weather systems are now getting named. Still, I should have seen this coming, when a couple of summers ago, some enterprising meteorologist plucked the term “La Derecha” for a windstorm...out of thin air. Maybe these weasels use a dartboard in the studio with funny words for these random weather titles…and now names too. So when "Flood Noah," is bearing down on us, I'm not sure if we should see the humor in it or seek higher ground, (where is Mt. Ararat anyway?)
IN THE BACK ROOM OF THE TV STATION, PICTURE A WHEEL-OF-FORTUNE WITH ARBITRARY NAMES LIKE POLAR-VORTEX OR AN "ALAN HALE STORM," ON IT.
If you have an ounce of realistic blood coursing through your veins, you’d realize that the babbling idiots on the boob-tube have the same chance of predicting the weather as you do. Don’t waste a dime calling the phone company for the forecast either; just stick your head out the friggin’ window. You’ll be amazed at your accuracy and you will have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars on “all yak and no shack” multi-colored computer generated radar graphs, charts and maps.
TEX ANTOINE (1923-1983) DID TV WEATHER IN NEW YORK CITY FOR THIRTY YEARS.  CLAD IN A SMOCK, TOGETHER WITH A CARTOON SIDEKICK NAMED UNCLE WETHBEE, HE MINIMIZED THE IMPORTANCE OF THE WEATHER FOR THE SAKE OF ENTERTAINMENT.  HE GOT AWAY WITH THAT SCHTICK UNTIL HE WAS FIRED IN DISGRACE FOR MAKING AN OFFENSIVE QUIP ABOUT A YOUNG SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIM.

Back in 1994, my memory of that record-setting cold snap here, is quite clear. But first, I also remember a more severe, prolonged one in, New York City, (1975). The reason this golden moment (silver might actually be more appropriate), is so vivid is, it coincided with my sister and I chipping and sending my parents to Hawaii, for their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.
TO BE HONEST, THE MONETARY ASPECT OF "CHIPPING-IN" DIDNT WORK OUT TO 50-50. MY SISTER DID THE LEG WORK, MADE THE RESERVATIONS AND LAID OUT THE LION'S SHARE OF THE COST.  HOWEVER, I DID MY BEST...GAVE EVERYTHING I COULD...AND THAT INCLUDED THREE INDIAN-HEAD PENNIES AND A TWO-CENT STAMP.

The area where I “earned” my equal status in this arrangement was, I volunteered (during my winter break from Brooklyn College), to keep dad’s store open.

My parents couldn’t have picked a better time to jet-off to paradise. On the day after they left, an incredible cold snap frosted the metropolitan area. Snow and ice blanketed the city and for three weeks, (even after they got back) we were gripped with temperatures that never exceeded the mid-teens.

My folks were confident that while they were away, I could handle the day-to-day business. What they also knew was…I’d be clueless if the X-Factor arose, (anything beyond the scope of the normal routine).

During my reign as shopkeeper, it was so cold that a thick layer of ice formed on the street and sidewalks. It remained bitter cold for so long that it would take an eternity for it to melt. Few people ventured out but I risked life and limb and opened the store like a champ…every day.

The building that housed the store (founded in 1919) was older than dirt, (probably from the 1800’s).

Aside from duties directly related to running the store, the challenge of regulating the thermostat was where my abilties topped-off. That fact became apparent one afternoon, when from the bowels of the basement, a sledge hammer-like sound startled me. This intense metallic booming would repeat itself at irregular intervals. It was so eerie that the thought of the store being haunted definitely crossed my mind.

I withstood this torture for about an hour. But when these heavy-duty clangs produced plaster showers…I set my powers of positive thinking (that it would end on its own) as well as my machismo aside and called my Uncle Gil. He had a store down the street.
UNCLE GIL, MY MOM AND ALL THEIR BROTHERS AND SISTERS GREW UP IN ONE OF THE APARTMENTS ABOVE THE STORE.  I WAS LUCKY TO HAVE A WILLING EXPERT SO NEAR BECAUSE WITHIN SECONDS, MY HERO SOLVED THE PROBLEM, BY "BLEEDING" THE BOILER.

Tex Antoine never mentioned a fancy name for that God awful cold snap.  Eventually, it eased-up but for several more weeks the solid packed, icy street didn’t break up until March. To illustrate how bad and for how long this new ice-age lasted, the Board of Health sent out fliers, to all residents and business owners requiring them to clean their streets. After the thaw, six weeks of filth was left behind, (refuse from over-turned garbage cans, tons of fossilized dog crap and a multitude of other appalling disgustingness).

In the game of, "Can You Top This?" two decades later, (January 1994), we had a day that had 6ยบ as the high. I remember it well because it was in the middle of a similar cold snap that left the streets here (Galloway NJ) icy.

My wife Sue was in her eighth month of pregnancy, (with Andrew) and we were attending Thursday night Lamaze classes.
IN THE 1940's, FRENCH OBSTETRICIAN FERNAND LAMAZE DEVELOPED A TECHNIQUE OF FOCUS, BREATHING, MOVEMENT AND MASSAGE THAT WAS DESIGNED TO INCREASE A MOTHER'S CONFIDENCE TO GIVE BIRTH WHILE INABLING HER TO COPE WITH THE PAIN.

Due to the hazardous conditions, a couple of those Lamaze classes were canceled rather than risk injury to a mom or an unborn child, (I’m not certain if this precautionary red flag extended to the welfare of dads).

In Sue's final trimester, PCSHMEE lent me a phone pager. So if there was an emergency while I was at work, I could alert my employer and go home to assist Sue. To be consistent with that possibility, I parked my car illegally, every night at the casino next door.  That way, I'd eliminate the middle-man, bypass the delay of waiting for our employee shuttle, to take me (to our lot) farther out of my way.

One night in late January, it was especially windy and bitter cold as I drove into work, (the 8:PM-4:AM shift). It was difficult navigating along my ice encrusted street and not much better on bigger roadways, until I got to a major artery.

On Route-30, I had clear sailing as I neared the drawbridge (the unofficial border of Atlantic City). Suddenly, smoke billowed our from my car’s hood. Seconds later, I lost power. Somehow, I had enough momentum to coast into a rival casino’s employee parking lot. I abandoned my Chevy, hung my head low (as not to be recognized as a non-employee) and boarded the alien shuttle. At the rival casino, I got on the jitney (mini-buses that serve Atlantic City as mass transit) and went to work.

During the night, I mentioned my plight to STAGE39, (he was totally sympathetic because his wife was due a week after Sue). He agreed to drive me home that night. But he also went above and beyond, by stopping at my car, in case it was an easy fix.  He said it sounded like a cracked hose...which in some cases could be temporarily rigged well enough, to get me home.

STAGE was my knight in shining armor. At 4:30AM, (he had an hour drive home), he looked at my car and diagnosed the problem as a simple hose crack. He snipped-off the bad portion of my hose, reconnected it and added some anti-freeze. He even insisted on following me home. About halfway home, we reached the point where I turn off. I was confident that I’d be okay and signaled him to go home.

We hadn’t split up more than five streets when the hose burst again. These were the pre-cell phone days. So in windy, single-digit temperature, as icicles blew out of trees and hit me in my uncovered head, I was forced to trudge in my Oxfords through the desolate ice-covered streets (¾ of a mile) to Wawa, (a 24-Hour convenience store).

Along the way, all I could think about was being found dead in a snow bank, (thanks Jack London). When I finally arrived, I took one look at the public phone on the exterior wall and internally groaned; No f---ing way.
AUTHOR JACK LONDON (1876-1916) WAS FAMOUS FOR WRITING ABOUT THE ALASKAN, KLONDIKE GOLD RUSH DAYS. I HAD READ HIS, "THE CALL OF THE WILD" AND "WHITE FANG," SO I WAS A LITTLE FAMILIAR WITH THE CONCEPTS OF FROSTBITE AND HYPERTHERMIA.

Inside, when the astonished clerk saw Nanook of the Frozen North (me), she also groaned, “No f---ing way.”  She probably hadn’t seen many customers that night. I guess her first reaction to some schmuck coming in on a night like that without a car signaled a robbery. At first glimpse, from the look on her face, I could tell she was scared. I made the situation worse because I was frozen stiff. At first, I stammered before I could speak. I must have seemed like the illegitimate love child of the Yeti and Abominable Snowman before I managed to say, “M-m-my car broke-down. M-m-may I use your phone?”

On the eighty-sixth ring, Sue answered the phone. I knew no jury would convict her for killing me…even if she wasn’t going to give birth in a couple weeks. But like the champ that she was and still is, with complete understanding of the circumstances, she dragged herself out of her nice warm bed, waddled into her colder than hell car and rescued her little eskimo.

So don’t be one of those people who don’t watch the TV news or are too good to stick your head out the window to check the weather. Because those are the geniuses who are shocked that it gets cold in winter. All you really need is a great support team like my wife Sue, Uncle Gil and STAGE39. Come to think of it, it's nice to have good people behind you but these days you don't even have to bother them.  So just remember, all you really need is a cell phone to access the world.

Hopefully, it'll be twenty years before we have another record-setting Polar-Vortex, or "Tsunami Maurice" or "Typhoon Raoul."  Personally, I can wait, how about you?

Monday, January 6, 2014

"SAVING MR. BANKS"

I don’t know how it was at your house…but at mine, my mother was always right. And, I don’t mean in a tyrannical dictator way, I mean she had an uncanny intellect/talent.

Before I was ten, these abilities translated into an almost mystical power. Luckily, my mom used her dynamic supremacy like a superhero because in the hands of evil…well let’s just say not all children experience love or lead magically happy lives.

Of course as a moronic little bugger, I frequently misinterpreted her genius. So when I challenged mom’s omnipotence…I paid the price. So when I told her I lost something, (a key, a quarter or some such nonsense) she’d automatically say, “Where was it when you had it last?” Being a wise-guy at an early age I’d crack, “If I knew where I had it, when I had it last…I wouldn’t be looking for it.” After a dirty look mom would say, “Did you check the pockets of what you wore yesterday?” I’d snarl, “Yeah.” She’d snarl back, “Well check them again!” Like I said, it was almost paranormal how often she was right. Even though I profited by her wisdom, behind her back, out of frustration, I would crinkle my nose or stick out my tongue. Unbelievably, it was like her gift included having eyes in the back of her head because she’d growl, “Watch it young man.”

Yes mom knew best. I remember trying to order a meatloaf sandwich in a greasy spoon diner. Mom said, “Meatloaf is already all bread, get something else.” I wasn’t sharp enough to analyze the ingredients, but I was smart enough to withhold my opinion that if she thought meatloaf was all bread… that meant she was crazy.

Mom’s tact to end my nail biting habit had a similar theme. She’d tell me a million reasons why it was a bad idea but those pleasant explanations never “hit” home. She even said, “You love yourself, right?” It was obvious from her tone that I was being led down the Primrose Path of manipulation but how could I say no to such a loaded question. I said, “Yes.” She said, “Would you ever chew on your bones?” I pictured my skin ripped off and me gnawing on my arm bone and said, “No.” She said, “Right. Because you know, fingernails are made of the same stuff as bones…so biting your nails is the same thing as biting your bones...and chewing on your bones would harm you…and people shouldn’t harm themselves.” Again, I thought she was out of her mind because I knew nails weren’t bones. But I thought it best to avoid a war and decided to pick a better battle in the future. I bleated, “I wouldn’t want to harm myself…”

My wanton disregard for following her fingernail orders morphed mom’s intellect into physical threats, (this was a time when it wasn’t taboo for a parent to publicly beat sense into their brats), and therefore my mother’s rare smacks to my head were comparatively the act of a kindly princess. So unless you are the rebellious type, (and I wasn’t), I learned the Pavlovian response to nail biting and kicked the habit in near record time.

I remember how bad of an idea it was when I tested mom’s intelligence. I wasn’t a good student. But in Hebrew school, I was terrible. I once took home a report card with U’s for reading, writing, history and conduct. Plus, I wasn’t bright enough to see the report card’s legend was restricted to E=Excellent, G=Good, F=Fair and U=Unsatisfactory.

I knew I was going to get my head handed to me anyway, so I stupidly rolled the dice and drew little black circles around each red U.

My mother saw my awful grades and went off on me. I said, “Wait a minute, those aren’t U’s!” To bolster my cause, I had used one of the few bits that I had picked up about my culture…a circled “U” on food packages was a symbol for purity, (a good thing).
JEWISH DIETARY LAW REQUIRES THAT ALL FOODS CONFORM TO STRICT REGULATIONS.  TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THE PRODUCT HAS ANSWERED TO THIS HIGHER AUTHORITY, TWO MAIN SYMBOLS ARE USED ON FOOD LABELS; AN UPPER CASE K OR A CIRCLED U, (above).

I used the meager knowledge I had of my ancestors when I proudly announced, “Those aren’t ‘U’s,’ they’re ‘koshers.’” Well, on that occasion, mom’s wrath didn’t take the form of a single smack in the head….so much for dynamic supremacy.

All this takes us to Brooklyn’s Nostrand Theater (movie house). The Nostrand (in Flatbush, just off Kings Highway) was a relatively new theater. It was built way after the opulent movie palaces of the depression-era that for a few pennies, helped promote escapism in the form of an all-day outing, (double feature, newsreel, serial and cartoons). And it came into being way before the idea of the tiny, cookie-cutter multiplex theaters.
THE NOSTRAND THEATER OPENED ON JUNE 18, 1961. IN ONE OF THE MOST VIVID DREAMS I EVER HAD, I WALKED BY IT, ON MY WAY TO AN EXOTIC PET STORE THAT FEATURED MNIATURE, BLUE ELEPHANTS. ON JANUARY 23, 2012, I WROTE A BLOG CALLED, "TELEPHONE CALL FOR DR. FREUD, DR. SIGMUND FREUD, TELEPHONE."  YOU MAY RECALL, THAT DREAM ENDED WITH ME GETTING CHASED THROUGH A HAY FIELD BY CHARLES MANSON AND HIS GIRL POSSE.

I only have two memories of being in the Nostrand. Once when I was on a date in college and the other from 1964, (the date in college is completely unimportant). In 1964, my mother took me, kicking, screaming and crying to see, “MARY POPPINS.”

This was a time when few movies were made specifically for kids. The Disney studio was basically the only game in town and they weren’t cranking-out many. In fact, most of what they did produce had a limited audience, was childish or wasn’t especially clever. So with that in mind, at nine-years old, I thought something called Mary Poppins was a threat to my budding manliness.
MOM TOLD ME THAT I WOULD LOVE THIS MOVIE BECAUSE MARY POPPINS COULD FLY.  THE ONLY WAY MOM WOULD HAVE HAD A CASE...WOULD HAVE BEEN IF MARY COULD FLY WHILE WRESTLING GIANT SQUIDS.

I wanted to see John Wayne on the silver screen or at least Kirk Douglas or Burt Lancaster. I liked the blood and guts of war movies, the chase scenes in cops and robbers dramas, the action of westerns, the scariness in horror flicks or the excitement of adventure tales…not some girlie musical crap!
ANYTHING, EVEN A DUBBED JAPANESE DISASTER FILM NARRATED BY RAYOND BURR WOULD HAVE HAVE BEEN A MILLION TIMES BETTER THAN A MOVIE ABOUT AN ENGLISH NANNY.
We were still in the theater’s parking lot as I adamantly stuck to my guns. Well, I chose the wrong battle…and in the privacy of the car…I was told if I didn’t stop crying, I’d be given something that would really make me cry. Hence, I REALLY cried.

In the crowded balcony, I plopped in my chair and slunk down low. Mom realized that I was a dude with a "tude" so she switched our usual; me, dad, her and my sister seating arrangement. Like a personal prison guard, my mother sat next to me. I imagined her armed with an open hand, cocked, ready to slap me into further obedience. If ever I could have used the comfort of some nail biting…this was the time. Bad choice, the smack in my head was indeed hard and swift. I made sure that didn’t happen again. Instead my ensuing huffy protest took the form of hardcore sulking and full-blown whining, (I don’t know how she could stand THAT…I’m thrilled my son didn’t inherit those annoying genes from me).

All through the “coming attractions,” the opening credits and into the early portion of the film, I continued my nearly silent, pestering objections. Mom’s superior intellect allowed her to ignore me. But then something strange happened. Like the children in the movie who wanted no part of Mary Poppins, I started to come around. Just imagine someone you really can’t stand telling a joke. You wouldn’t want to give that person the satisfaction of seeing you laugh but if that joke was so incredibly funny…you’d be powerless not to laugh.

I tried so hard to hate the movie…but I couldn’t even be indifferent or like it just a little…I LOVED every bit of Mary Poppins. At some point mom saw me tapping my toes, sitting at the edge of my seat and laughing. She whispered, “See, I was right…” To avoid missing even a nanosecond of the show, I reversed my usual tendency by not reverting to being miserable…and spewed a quick admission that I was wrong.

When I became a father, the magical joy of Mary Poppins was repeated for my son Andrew. From when he was two until about seven, our VHS tape was worn thin by his repeated viewings. And unlike “BARNEY” I gladly watched it over and over with him.

“Mary Poppins” spoke for itself but if my son needed an extra incentive to watch, the opening scene included a Yorkie puppy named Andrew.
THIS YORKSHIRE TERRIER PUP IS MENTIONED BY NAME IN THE OPENING PARK SCENE, (above) AND ONCE MORE LATER IN THE MOVIE.  YESTERDAY, I CAUGHT MY SON OFF-GUARD AND ASKED IF HE REMEMBERED THE DOG'S NAME...AND HE DID.

Nearly every song in the movie is memorable. So much so that when Andrew and I used the seesaw in the playground, it became our tradition to sing the, “LET’S GO FLY A KITE,” song. That song was so entertaining that even though I never flew a kite in my life, it didn’t matter.
NOTHING SEEMED MORE BORING AND SENSELESS THAN WATCHING MY FRIENDS TRYING TO FLY A KITE.  MY SKEPTICISM WAS ALWAYS PROVEN RIGHT BECAUSE ON MY STREET IN CANARSIE, THEIR KITE WOULD EITHER GET CAUGHT IN A TREE OR TANGLED IN THE ELECTRICAL WIRES.

Now I am thrilled to say, Mary Poppins has struck again. This time, in the form of a new movie called, “SAVING MR. BANKS,” that describes the twenty years of hardship Walt Disney endured before getting the rights from author P. L. Travers, to make the movie.

Set in 1961, "Saving Mr. Banks," includes many flashbacks to the early 1900’s. Walt Disney (portrayed by Tom Hanks) had long envisioned making Mary Poppins into a classic. But (Australian born) P. L. Travers, (played by Emma Thompson) won't budge. However, this curmudgeonly spinster (living in Lindon) has lived handsomely off the royalties from her Poppins books, now sees that income dwindling.
TOM HANKS TAKES A BACK SEAT TO EMMA THOMPSON (1959-PRESENT).  ALTHOUGH I NEVER HEARD OF THIS ACTRESS, COMEDIAN AND AUTHOR BEFORE, HER LENGTHY CREDITS INCLUDE; THREE "HARRY POTTER" MOVIES, (THAT I SAW).  I HOPE HER TREMENDOUS PERFORMANCE EARNS HER STRONG CONSIDERATION FOR AN OSCAR. 

Travers flies to Hollywood (actual Burbank). Deep down, she has no intention of relenting. She is going on this “fool’s errand” to appease her manager. Travers makes outlandish demands. Walt Disney is desperate and agrees to the most ridiculous…like NOT including the color red in any portion of the production.

Walt Disney calls her bluff.  He gets his foot in the door and introduces Travers to the storyline and inner workings of the movie. Travers sees the magic that goes into film making. And like me when I was nine and slouched in my seat at the Nostrand Theater, Travers is slowly swayed by the positive energy of the movie’s potential.

To push Travers further along, Walt takes her to Disneyland.  At first she is appalled by the commercialism. But again, she softens her stance, gradually becomes agreeable and borders on being enthusiastic.
"SAVING MR. BANKS" WORKED FOR ME ON SO MANY LEVELS.  THE FACT THAT I CONSIDER MYSELF A WRITER AND THAT I CAN RELATE TO HER CHERISHING THE PRISTINE NATURE OF HER WORK SHOULD NOT BE OVERLOOKED...BUT I ALSO WAS A DISNEY EMPLOYEE (above) IN 1974.  AND THE DISNEYLAND SEQUENCE BROUGHT BACK A GUSH OF TENDER MEMORIES FOR ME.

I don’t want to spoil “Saving Mr. Banks” plot but a major philosophical difference erupts between Travers and Disney that results in her angrily returning to London. Walt Disney flies out on the next flight and appears at her door. The two put on invisible boxing gloves and duke-it-out. Walt rips underneath her protective layering and exposes an inner angst (the flashbacks to her youth). He mentions his rough childhood without revealing the research he did to understand hers. He says he could have sold the Mickey Mouse concept when he was struggling but didn’t because Mickey was like family and too much a part of him. Walt's sensitivities struck a chord with Travers.

Travers grudgingly sold the movie rights. Still, Disney is not convinced that she is completely “on-board” with the project. He's afraid she would ruin the pomp and circumstance of the grandiose Grauman’s Chinese Theater premiere and intentionally does not invite her.
GRAUMAN'S CHINESE THEATER IS FAMOUS FOR HOSTING MAJOR MOVIE PREMIERES.  FOR THAT PURPOSE, IT DEBUTED ON MAY 18, 1927 WITH CECIL B. DeMILLE'S, "THE KING OF KINGS."  SINCE THEN, ITS LOCATION ALONG, "THE HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME," HAS BECOME AN ICONIC TOURIST DESTINATION. BACK IN THE DAY, CELEBRITIES CLAMBERED TO HAVE THEIR FOOT PRINTS (OR OTHER BODY PARTS) IMMORTALIZED IN THE CONCRETE SLABS OUT FRONT.

Disney cringes that despite not being invited, Travers shows up in California on her own. To save face, Walt blames the US postal service for losing her invitation. We all know how “Saving Mr. Banks” ends because we know that “Mary Poppins” ranks as one of the greatest children’s movies of all time. But I think it’s safe to say that Travers had her trepidations about watching the finished product come alive on the big screen.

Like me at the Nostrand, she wasn’t thrilled after sitting down in Grauman's. In the early stages of the film, she felt her life’s work was being disrespected. Perhaps she was too British to cause a scene or afraid Walt Disney (sitting behind her and undoubtedly biting his fingernails) would smack her in the head.
AT AGE 53, WALT DISNEY (1901-1966).  HIS LEGACY REMAINS INCREDIBLY STRONG.  DISNEY CORPORATE REVENUE IN 2010 WAS APPROXIMATELY $36 BILLION.

Either way, Travers' patience paid off because soon, she was tapping her toes, sitting up in her seat, laughing...and crying in happiness...over the delicate care her prized possession received from the Disney staff.

Go find “Mary Poppins” and watch it with your kids. Then see, “Saving Mr. Banks” with or without your children.
DAVID TOMLINSON,(1917-2000) WAS A CHARACTER ACTOR BEST KNOWN FOR HIS ROLES AS AN AUTHORITY FIGURE. HE WAS THE UNSUNG HERO AS MR. BANKS, IN THE ORIGINAL, "MARY POPPINS."
I don’t know how it was at your house but I guarantee, somewhere, my mother is nodding in approval and proud of me, (I told you she was always right). Maybe when you re-examine your mom, you'll gain a better understanding of her too. And if that wasn’t enough…you just might find it in your heart to walk out of the theater with a deeper appreciation of your father too.