Tuesday, April 29

Some Enchanted Evening

The other night my wife and I visited the basement of a local church to see the Rodgers & Hammerstein retrospective “A Grand Night for Singing”. Tickets were reasonably priced and it promised to be a night filled with many memorable tunes.

As I browsed the program while waiting for the show to begin I noticed one of the actors had appeared in a production of White Christmas. This is one of my favorite movies, starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen.

“I didn’t know there was a stage version of White Christmas,” I mentioned to my wife.

“Well, I guess there is.”

“I’m pretty familiar with musicals, and I wasn’t aware of it,” I replied, perhaps a bit more snootily that I should have.

“Oh, you’re pretty familiar with musicals, eh?” She sounded skeptical.

“In many circles I’m known as ‘Mr. Theater’,” I said.

She may have muttered something about “Mr. Idiot”, but I couldn’t hear clearly because the show was starting.

It was a fine production. They covered all the Rodgers & Hammerstein classics. It was like a jukebox musical, only the jukebox was from 1953.

The songs were sequenced to represent the path that love takes, from the hopeful optimism of “Hello, Young Lovers” to the self conscious doubt of “If I Loved You” to the settled familiarity of “Something Wonderful”. I was also happy to hear “I Have Dreamed” because this particular number was sung at Mr. and Mrs. Theater’s wedding.

I have a small quibble with the change of “Oh, What A Beautiful Morning” to a minor key, since it made Curly sound a little like a serial killer, but otherwise the performances were outstanding.

Afterwards, while walking home, my wife said “Well, what did you think?”

“I thought it was great, but I wish they had sung that song about walking down the street in your neighborhood.”

“You mean ‘On The Street Where You Live’?”

“Yeah. I really like that song.”

“Yes, it’s a lovely song. Too bad it’s by Lerner and Loewe, not Rodgers and Hammerstein.”

Then she added, unnecessarily, I thought, “Mr. Theater”.

Saturday, April 26

A, B, C, D...

The other day I was signing up for a class at the local CUNY campus. This was a class in financial planning and I was looking forward to learning how rich people manage their money, just in case I get some one day.

As I added my name to the sign up sheet I took satisfaction in the notice at the top saying “Attendees will be admitted in alphabetical order.”

I've always felt pretty good about my position in the alphabetical scheme of things. My last name starts with D which is fine with me. Far enough from the A's to prevent me from having to sit right up front, yet, at 4 of 26, still in the respectable 85th percentile.

I can't imagine the pressure that must be felt by someone named, say, Aaron Aarne. Just think: no matter where you go, no matter what you do, you’re going to sit in the front row and when attendance is taken it's going to be your name they call first.

It makes me shudder.

As we started to line up to enter the lecture hall a young girl with a clipboard asked me to point out my name on the sign up sheet. When I did, she said “I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to go to the back of the line.”

“What? No, look. I’m in the D’s.” I pointed frantically at the clipboard, then my heart sank.

Somehow, on the sign up sheet I had put my last name in the first name column, and my first name in the last name column. Worse yet I had speedily scrawled my first name so instead of "Jim" it looked like I had written "Zim".

"This is a mistake. My name starts with D," I sputtered.

"Yes, it does," she said patiently, "but we go by the last name, Mr. Zim."

"No, no, no. What happened is I put my first name ..."

"Hurry it up, Zee-boy," said a rather surly man standing behind me. "End of the line."

"But I..." I started to protest when a stoop shouldered, slightly built man with oily black hair and a pale complexion took my arm. "Don't bother arguin'", he said wearily. "Just come on back." He slowly shuffled me back to the end of the line.

"Zachary Z. Zygby." he introduced himself. The flickering florescent lighting cast a greenish tinge to his sallow skin.

"I'm Jim...” I began.

"Jim Zim?" he queried. "Interesting name."

"No, no, no. What happened was..." I began, and then gave up. Why bother? I had to face facts. I was in the Z ghetto.

"I guess you've been put at the end of a lot of lines, eh?" I asked.

"Enough." He sighed. "Enough to last a lifetime."

"Well," I said, philosophically, "at lease you haven’t given up. You keep going on even when you know the true sting of alphabetical bias."

“You must think I’m a fool.”

“Not at all”. I put an encouraging hand on his arm. "In fact, I think you deserve an 'A' for effort."

Monday, April 21

The Big 4 Or 6 - 0

There is a new reality show coming up called The Big 4-0 in which participants who are approaching the age of 40 engaging in activities designed to demonstrate that they are not approaching the age of 40.

Since I have recently completed three score years of life, I was wondering why they don't do the same thing for people approaching the age of 60.

What might people do when facing the big 6-0?

Based on my recent history I'd say one important thing to do is to file for unemployment, because even if you're not unemployed at the present, you soon will be.

I still can't believe those bastards fired me!

Another thing to do would be to start shopping for an good analgesic, because there is one thing about Sixty that is undeniable.

It hurts.

Whenever I see one of those movies where an older person and a younger person trade bodies, I always think the first thing the younger person should say is "Ow! My knees. For God's sake, what's wrong with my knees!!!!".

Another plan: Eat Meat. Eat a lot of meat. While there is still time.

Some pundits say that 60 is the new 40.

These pundits have never been 60.

Thursday, April 17

Papal PR

Coinciding with The Pope's visit to the United States the Vatican announced today that the Public Relations firm The Seraphim Group has been engaged to help present His Holiness to the American public.

Advance man Hugo O'Malley has been assigned to helicopter into a venue a few hours before the arrival of the Pontiff and greet the people who have come to see Pope Benedict XVI.

Mr. O'Malley, who lost an eye in an industrial accident, will follow his greetings with a flourish of his own composition which he will play on his solo trumpet.

It is beleived that Mr. O'Malley is the first one eyed, one horned, flying Papal people greeter.

Tuesday, April 15

Live blog of Papal landing at Andrews Airforce Base

4:07 PM EDT - The plane has landed and finished a long taxi to the mobile exit stairway. The Pope still hasn’t gotten off the plane. Seems to be a long wait. I wonder if he’s finishing his cocktail or something?

4:12 PM - Here comes president Bush and Mrs. Bush to greet the Pope, who still hasn’t gotten off the plane. While waiting the President has begun to dance a bit, doing a little soft shoe routine. And…..Wait, here comes the Pope! He’s at the bottom of the stairway. He is shaking the President’s hand. When is he going to kiss the runway? Hey, Benedict! Kiss the tarmac! C’mon, Holiness. Smack the ‘mac. Nope, he’s not gonna do it. And I thought he was one of those traditional Popes.

4:17 PM - Now he’s greeting some Cardinals – I think I see Stan Musial and Ozzie Smith – and he’s walking past the honor guard. He’s waving to the crowd and speaking to the President. The President looks confused. All is normal.

4:18 PM - There’s a pretty good looking blond walking with Mrs. Bush. Wonder who she is? Oh, she’s taking a swig from a bottle of Grey Goose. Must be one of the twins.

4:19 PM - The Pope is walking into the arrival building and standing by the luggage carousel which hasn’t begun moving yet.

4:22 PM - Still waiting for his luggage.

4:36 PM - A man with an official looking hat is approach the Pontiff and whispering in his ear. Benedict looks upset.

4:39 PM - Man in hat is struck by lightning.

4:45 PM - Apparently they’ve lost the Pope’s luggage.

4:47 PM – Pope goes to newsstand and picks up a toothbrush and mini-tube of Crest for $18.75.

4:53 PM – Pope waits at curb for his limousine, which has been forced to move because the white zone is for loading and unloading of passengers only, no waiting.

5:12 PM – After circling the parking lot a few times the limo pulls up and Pope and President get in for ride to Air Force Base Marriott.

5:13 PM - Man in singed hat chases limo pushing luggage cart with several pieces of luggage and topped by a very impressive mitre.

Snore War

My wife insists that I've been snoring lately but of course she's wrong. I don't snore. Once in a while I might breath heavily, but snore? I don't think so.

However her illusion has lead her to prod me at night and mutter "Roll over" or some other directive ("Quiet", "Move", "Lay on your stomach"). I always do my best to humor her.

This morning, however, there was a gross miscarriage of justice. Our clock radio went off at 7:00 as usual and the NPR station to which we like to wake was running a story about, I think, hog farms in China. It is common in these radio news features for the reporter to include some ambient sound in the story to give it a sense of place. In this case the ambient sound was that of hundreds of hogs grunting and grumbling as they fed on their daily portion of slop.

"Roll over", I heard the love of my life growl sleepily.

"Hey", I protested. "That wasn't me."

"Yeah, right", she replied as she settled in for a few more winks.

"No, really..." but by now I could tell she was back to sleep because of her slow, steady breathing.

Actually, I think her breathing is getting to be just a little bit heavy.

Friday, April 11

50 Plus

I got a picture postcard announcing the "11th Annual 50 Plus Expo - Forever Young".

As far as I'm concerned, the fact that it was a picture postcard pretty much shouts "50 PLUS!!!!".

Since I recently entered my 5th decade - okay, who snickered at "recently"? - I seem to have drawn the attention of a vast number of people who are interested in my being Forever Young. It's one of those ironies of life that the older you are the younger you want to be.

Anyway, as I looked over this missive I notice a few things that I found somewhat disturbing.

First of all there seems to be an inordinate amount of fiber involved in being Forever Young. As far as I'm concerned "The Magical Prune" does not deserve it's own workshop. It might be more appropriate as a bedtime story for children with accelerated aging disease.

Also there seem to be quite a few spokespeople involved in this Expo, including "Former Miami Dolphins Hall Of Fame Coach" Don Shula and "NFL Hall Of Fame Quarterback" Bart Starr, who confesses to being "a paid endorser". I never really understood the allure of spokespeople - Hall Of Fame or otherwise - but at least I can respect the ethics of someone who confessed to being a paid endorser. No subterfuge there. "You pay me, I endorse you. Simple as that. HIKE!"

I might have been interested in the "50+ Singles" seminar. Although I'm not single, I've always wondered how those dating websites work. Having been married long before the Internet appeared, my only exposure to the online singles scene has been TV commercials for eHarmony.com or Match.com or that one Eliot Spitzer belongs to.
The 50+ Singles meeting was to be run by TERRI SLOANE - M.S. - Forever Young Matchmaker /Dating Coach. Well, sorry Ms. Sloane, but if I planned to use a Dating Coach, I'd go with Don Shula, the Hall Of Famer.

Finally this announcement shocked me: "Spotlight on shingles: Know what you can do."

Well, I can tell you what you can do about shingles.

Don't put a spotlight on it.

Monday, April 7

Grief, Quantified

Several people have asked me "So where's the blog been, Jim?"

The fact is I lost my job and have been pretty busy looking for a new one.

It's tough to lose a job.

To admit you've been let go.

Terminated.

Fired.

Asked to leave.

Downsized.

You name it.

It occurs to me that losing a job is like losing a friend. A friend that you maybe didn't like too much, maybe was a little boring. But someone you had gotten used to.

When you lose a friend you grieve, and the same thing happens when you lose a job.

Elizabeth K├╝bler-Ross in her 1969 book "On Death and Dying" (thank you, Wikipedia) says there are 5 stages of grief.

1. Denial (I can't believe they fired me.)

2. Anger (I can't believe those FUCKING BASTARDS fired me!!!)

3. Bargaining (Hey, maybe if I take a pay cut...)

4. Depression (You know, I really kinda miss that job...)

5. Acceptance (I can't believe those GODDAMN FUCKING BASTARDS fired me!!!!!)

Okay, so I haven't quite gotten to the Acceptance part yet.