Monday, January 28, 2008

Going, Going, Gone - It's a Homer

Last night we had Pizza for dinner. One of the Pizzas was plain cheese and the other was a cheese, sausage and pepperoni combo.

These were frozen Pizzas that were purchased at a local grocery store. My daughter cooked one pizza on her Presto Pizzazz Pizza turntable and the second in the oven on her Pizza stone.

I like Pizza, but the things that they attempt to past off as a Pizza at most of the chains is not what I call Pizza. Worst yet, are some of the frozen Pizzas that are available in the grocery store.

I’m spoiled. I grew up on the southwest side of Chicago. There were 3 small Pizzerias within a 2 block radius of my house. None of them served what is now called Chicago Style Pizza (a deep dish abomination). All had a thin cracker crust.

But the best Pizza came from a small Pizzeria across from Lawndale Park (Keeler Park) on west 31st Street. The place had a few tables and a small bar, most of their business was carry-out. There was no delivery back in the 50’s and 60’s. To this day this Pizzeria does on deliver, although they have 6 units in Chicago and its Suburbs.

It was named the Home Run Inn because an errant baseball from Lawndale Park broke their front window.

Last night, as my daughter was cooking the store bought frozen Pizzas, she brought out the box that the Pizza came in and showed it to me. My eyes lit up like Roman Candles on the Fourth of July: A Frozen Home Run Inn Pizza. She then read the back of the box which has the Home Run Inn historical story. She got choked up and tears were pouring from my eyes. Great Memories of simple pleasures!

I have seen these Pizzas in the Jewel Grocery Store when I visit Chicago, but never tried one because I could get the real thing and not a frozen facsimile.

My daughter said, last night, that it was the best frozen Pizza that she had ever eaten. The flavor of the cheese and sausage was unrivaled. The crust was excellent and the sauce was perfect.

She had this style of Pizza before (from Al’s and Falco’s in Cicero) when visiting Chicago, but never one from the Home Run Inn.

The Beach Bum

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor

I just read that a 30 second commercial during the Super Bowl will cost advertisers $2.7 million per showing. There will be at least 63 – 30 second commercial breaks during the game on February 3rd. Do the math, that’s over 170 million dollars spent to tout products and services that less than 10% of the 90 plus million viewers will buy or use.

But those 9 million people will spend a lot of bucks during the course of a year.

I actually enjoy watching good commercials. At times they are better than some of the programming on the boob tube. Supposedly the best commercials of the year will debut on Super Bowl Sunday. Mad Avenue has been working overtime and charging the advertisers top dollars to produce the best Super Bowl commercial.

Now the question is; who is paying for all this nonsense. As Gomer Pyle would say; surprise – surprise, it must be the consumer.

I’m against having Beer, Liquor and Tobacco commercials on television.

Why? Because I use these products and it will ultimately cost me more money to use them. The cost of these commercials is always passed on to the user. The Corporations don’t spend advertising money to lose money. So I must, therefore, avoid the use of these products that are advertised on Super Bowl Sunday. It's simple logic, just ask Mr. Spock.

Are you going to switch from Coke to Pepsi because of a good commercial? Will you buy a Pizza from Pizza Hut rather than Dominos because of a commercial? Will you switch from your favorite brands because you were amused for 30 seconds? I hope not.

I believe that the advertisers deem that we are all just sheep, and we will follow in the direction into which they lead us. That is, if they spend 2.7 million dollars for a 30 second commercial that amuses us or somehow gives us a warm fuzzy feeling.

It’s a bunch of Bullshit!

All television commercials cost consumers money in the long run.

I will watch and enjoy many of the commercials aired during the Super Bowl.

But I will also boycott all the products and services that are advertised on the Super Bowl.

By the way I will be cheering for the Patriots to win!

The Beach Bum

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

All Stressed Out

The learned Doctors have told me that I do not handle stress very well. This is why I suffer from gastro-intestinal problems.

I disagreed with the Doctor, saying that I really don’t have that much stress in my life. So my Veterans Administration Belly Doctor sent me to the VA Shrink

My first two visits to the Shrink were basically spent filling out paperwork and taking a personality test. The third visit consisted of a question and answer session. For the most part I told him the truth, but was evasive on some of the questions. I’m usually totally honest with my doctors, in particular about my drinking and tobacco habits.

Two weeks later I received my evaluation. I was a borderline psychotic that needed to take a stress management course; he also gave me a pamphlet about stress. I still disagreed with the diagnosis. That was nearly eight years ago. I still haven’t taken the class.

Today I wish that I had heeded the learned Doctor’s advice.

I’ve been dealing with a lot of stress since my last Blog on Wednesday. And have not been dealing with it very well. My hiatal hernia began to act up on Wednesday and I had a full blown attack on Thursday. If I didn’t know better, I would have diagnosed myself as having a Heart Attack.

The cause of my stress is my BIL (Uncle John).

His latest tirade concerns his cell phone. Or should I say his lack of a cell phone as of Thursday. His 88 year old mother will not sign him up for one. Uncle John does not have a credit rating. He has no income and relies on a monthly allowance from his mother. He complains if he only gets a couple hundred more than it takes to pay his monthly bills. The old lady also gives my daughter money to buy his and his dog’s food. He is 55 years old.

I usually don’t talk or listen to Uncle John. I try my hardest to ignore him. But on occasion I feel compelled to make a comment because of the lunacy that I have heard spewing from his mouth.

The latest Point/Counterpoint was an hour long debate about the necessity of having a cell phone.

His Point being that a cell phone is a very important tool in today’s world. And that I am living in a George Flintstone World because I have never owned a cell phone and have no desire to possess or use one. Also I’m living in the “third world” and have a “third world” mentality toward modern technology.

My Counterpoint was that it was not a necessity but a convenience. A very expensive convenience for many people (my eldest daughter has had cell phone bills as high as $400 per month). We have a house phone with unlimited long distance with no extra charges. This cost less than $60 per month.

His Counterpoint was “what if I’m out and someone is attempting to call me with an important call”. Or “what if I am on the road and my truck breaks down”.

A lot of shouting and berating occurs in between comments, raising my stress level and my stomach acids which assault my hiatal hernia. Pain follows and I leave the room.

But not before making my final Point.

If one only uses a cell phone for important messages and emergencies that is fine and it is a valuable tool. But how do you accumulate an average of 800 prime (before 1800 hours – Monday through Friday) minutes per month.

For a guy that doesn’t work Uncle John sure has a lot of important calls and roadside emergencies!

The Beach Bum

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Question is Why

I’ve been asking myself the following question for many years.

Why do some people feel the need or burning desire to feel important to others? Are their lives so shallow? “I did this and I did that”, “I met so and so” and “I have this and I have that”.

My Dad would have called them “braggarts”! But I believe that it goes far beyond bragging with some people. It seems to be a compulsion for some individuals to feel more important than the really are. They seemingly need to impress others.

This type of person really irritates me. And I have met quite a few in my life. But the first and foremost is my Brother-in-Law (AKA Uncle John). Maybe it’s because I have been around him more than I have the others.

Not to say that Uncle John hasn’t had some good accomplishments, met some interesting famous people and has had some nice possessions. I just can’t stand the constant reminders of these facts.

I rarely crow about myself. Perhaps, I have nothing to crow about. But I can’t stand the people that continually attempt to remind me of their accolades.

I let my actions speak for themselves; I don’t feel the need to tell people about what I have achieved, whom I have met and what possessions I possess. Is this unusual or is this normal?

Not that I do not take pride in what I have accomplished in my life; I just rather have others praise me, than to praise myself. But I never look for praise and do not expect it from others. Perchance they’ll eulogize me after I am no longer here. I’ll never know.

From Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar:

“I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones”

So let it be with me!

I actually do care about what my friends think about me. But I never endeavor to impress them or a casual acquaintance with anything other than my excellent memory and my trivial knowledge. You never have to remind your friends of whom and what you are. If they are your friends they probably know you better than you know yourself.

The Beach Bum

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Monday, January 14, 2008

One Small Step for Man

I have reached my first milestone in the Blogosphere; my 200th Blog. This should and would have been written in September, but I took an unintentional 4 month blogging sabbatical beginning in mid July.

I expended a few hours yesterday reading my old Blogs. I will freely admit that some (less than 20%) of them were not that good or interesting. And yes, there were grammatical and punctuation errors. However, I made no changes to them. I left them in their original state as a reminder that I am not a perfectionist.

There were 239 comments (11 by me) posted to these 200 Blogs. Some were just inane remarks, but others were very poignant and relevant to the topic of the Blog. I have resolved to post my own comments to these good comments on a regular basis.

Last July, I was averaging 130 readers per week. I now average 85 per week, but have a higher percentage of return readers. Albeit these readers are mostly my family and friends; I do have a few regulars that I cannot identify (especially the person from Japan).

Most of my Blogs come from life experiences and stories that I have been telling for years. I attempt to lace these stories with a touch of humor. Sometimes I succeed. Other Blogs come from my daily reading of the news. Although I try to stay away from political issues, sometimes I can’t help myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bun).

Hopefully my next 200 Blogs will be more interesting.

Please continue to make comments, especially critical comments. And as Frank Gallo once said “Thank you for your support.”

The Beach Bum

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Velvet Underground

One of the lead stories on today’s Web Edition of the Chicago Tribune is about two of my favorite topics; Economics and Prostitution.

Chicago Tribune

Economics professor and author Steven D. Levitt (Freakonomics) has publish a full draft of his latest paper on the University of Chicago's Web site, marked as "extremely preliminary and incomplete”. The paper concerns a two year study of the habits of Chicago Prostitutes in two different neighborhoods.

More than 30 years ago I wrote a paper about the Economic impact of the Underground Economy. I did a great deal of research and interviews during a four month period. Unfortunately, it was never published.

What is the Underground Economy? Basically it is money that is earned and spent by individuals who are not paying taxes on their income. This includes income earned from both legal and illegal activities.

My interviews included conversations with several street hookers in both Baltimore and Washington, DC. I paid for their time. I had not spoken to a prostitute since leaving Africa in 1968. I would have interviewed some Call Girls (Escorts) if I could have afforded it.

The conclusion that I made in my paper was that this was an extremely important sector of our economy. Most members of the underground economy spent their cash freely and didn’t hoard it in banks. They lived for today and not tomorrow.

The Beach Bum

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Baby, One More Time

I received an email today directing me to the following Web Site:
Death Watch

This site is offering a prize to the person that correctly predicts the date and approximate time that Britney Spears will take her last breathes. My first reaction was – man, there are some really sick people out there. More than 1200 of them have made predictions and added comments to their predictions.

The friend that sent the email to me is not a Britney Spears fan (nor am I). We both agree that she has little talent and has become a spoiled rich kid. Five or six years ago my friend said that he wouldn’t even stick my penis in her vagina – or something to that effect. I said that “I would”, without thinking of the possible consequences.

Britney is what I deem to be a “nut case”.

I had a bad experience with a “nut case ” woman in the 1990’s.

She was young, very young (barely legal - I am six years older than her father), beautiful, intelligent and loved having sex. Possibly the perfect woman, unfortunately she was a “nut case”.

I should have known this from the onset of our relationship. She was the one that initiated our relationship, not me. I was flattered and enamored, plus the sex was great. Therefore I never heeded the warning signs. I let the “little head” do all the thinking for me. Did I mention the fact that she loved having sex.

Our affair lasted for five months. I reluctantly broke off our relationship because of her erratic (not erotic) behavior. One of my female roommates called her “The Psycho Bitch from Hell.” She was right. I should have known better. Any young woman that would chase after me, must be a little off center.

Back to Britney!

She really looks terrible in her latest photos. Like a grunge rock singer in a Death Metal band. She looks so bad that I wouldn’t put my friend’s penis in her vagina, let alone mine. And I am a horny old man.

I didn’t place a prediction on the site, but I believe that Britney will be in a better place within the next year. Whether she is living or not.

I wonder when someone will put up a Paris Hilton “Death Watch” site. I've seen "One night in Paris" and have decided that she is also a "nut case".

The Beach Bum

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Let's Have Another Cup Of Coffee

A recent study, conducted by the discount health care service HealthSaver, revealed the coffee consumption and caffeine consumer habits in 20 major American cities, placing the Tampa Bay (Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater) area second in the nation, behind Chicago.

I was born and raised in Chicago and have lived in the Tampa Bay area for nearly ten years. Although I had in the past, I do not consume any products containing caffeine on a regular basis.

The study considered numerous sources of caffeine, including coffee, tea, sodas, energy drinks, chocolate, pain relievers and caffeine pills. Not surprisingly, the Seattle/Tacoma area, home to Starbucks, ranked tops in the most coffee consumption. Starbucks coffee must be a lot less expensive there.

I like caffeine but I have to limit my intake to a bare minimum (an occasional sip or two). The other night I pushed the limit by consuming two whole cups, laced with coffee brandy. The good old double caffeine whammy. Boy, did it taste good. The next day I was in pain; my hiatal hernia retaliated. It was my first attack of the New Year.

The study also states that responsible caffeine intake can have positive effects. Health benefits range from protecting against cirrhosis of the liver to preventing Parkinson's disease.

According to the AGA (the oldest medical-specialty society in the United States) – “Coffee and caffeine consumption reduce the risk of elevated serum alanine aminotransferase activity.” I’m not a Doctor, (however, I did spent 2 nights at a Holiday Inn Express one time) but this sounds like I should endure the pain and start drinking caffeinated coffee again. Plus it’s a lot less expensive than decaf.

The Beach Bum

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Noises Off

This is my first Blog of the New Year. I can’t believe that it has been a week since my last Blog. I’ve been having brain cramps lately. I can’t think a complete thought.

There are three reasons for this recent thinking problem and none of them are caused by my alcohol consumption. I feel that I have written some of my best stuff when I am half in the bag. Of course it’s usually full of errors which I have to correct the next day.

Now back to the three reasons for my recent attack of brain cramps.

First and foremost is noise. The noise level in this household, during the past week, has been extremely high. I do not think well in a noisy environment; I like peace and quiet. My Son-in-Law turns the television volume up to drown out other background noises.

Then there is the conflict and contention. The main source of conflict is my Brother-in-Law, AKA Uncle John, and his 88 year old mother. Add to this the fact that Uncle John’s 89 year old father (who was a brilliant man) is suffering from Dementia. John and his mother (as well as my daughter) believe that John’s sister ("the thieving Republican" who has “The General’s” power of attorney for financial matters) is stealing all of his money (which is/or was at one time, a substantial amount).

Finally, there is the cold weather here in Florida. One of main reasons that I moved to Florida was to get away from the cold northern weather. I do not function very well in the cold. Both my body and my brain go into slow motion. My knees, back and shoulders constantly ache and this causes my brain to function erratically. My theory is that the brain is too busy concentrating on the pain to use the mental processes.

It was in the 70’s yesterday and may reach 80 degrees today. Today my daughter has left for an eight day stint in Maryland (on her Grandmother’s behest). Therefore the contention level here will drop as well as the noise level. It has been a Madhouse here for the past week.

Maybe I’ll get some Peace and Quiet for at least a week. Perhaps my brain with be able to function at full speed again.

The Beach Bum

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