Monday, August 31, 2009

A Pleasant Waste of Time - Sometimes

In late June I wrote a blog about my signing up for Facebook. Against my better judgment, I signed up to please my daughters. They had signed on a week before at the urgings of one of the former “loves of my life”.

I have 22 Facebook friends (my younger daughter has more that 100); 6 of them are family members, 2 are former “loves of my life”, 3 are former roommates (they were really friends, because anyone who had the forbearance to live with me, had to be a friend) and 2 are former co-workers. The rest are childhood friends of my two daughters, who probably remember me only as “that crabby old man” who would go searching for his daughters when they were out past curfew.

Last week, a friend and former roommate tagged me. A tag is like a meme. I don’t participate in memes and I usually ignore tags (not that I get that many). But the topic of this tag fascinated me.

Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen movies you've seen that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag fifteen friends, including me because I'm interested in seeing what movies my friends choose.

He then listed his 15 movies.

I’ve been known to occasionally bend the rules; almost to the point of cheating (if I knew I could get away with it). So I grab a piece of loose leaf paper and put it on a clip board. Within ten minutes I had a list of more than 30 movies.

It’s funny how the mind works. The first movie that I wrote down reminded me of other movies featuring one of the actors (actress) in that movie. Then your mind leads you to a director. My hand was writing faster than a speeding bullet. I write a lot faster than I can type; and I don’t have to constantly use a backspace key.

I sat back and looked at my list and decided that some of the movies on the lower end of the list should have been closer to the top of the list. It was a hopeless cause (where is St. Jude when you need him?). So I decided to give up on this tag game and not participate.

After speaking to a friend (Richard Feder) yesterday, I decided to bend the rules and edit my selections. But I would not put the results on Facebook; instead I would write this Blog. The first movie listed is still the first movie that popped into my mind. It was the first non-animated movie that I had seen in color. The second was also second on my original list.

The List:

1. The African Queen
2. Casablanca
3. On the Waterfront
4. Star Wars
5. Forrest Gump
6. M*A*S*H
7. Animal House
8. Blazing Saddles
9. Goodfellows
10. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
11. 2001: A Space Odyssey
12. The Godfather
13. North by Northwest
14. Alien
15. Raiders of the Lost Ark

Five movies that just missed the final cut were:

1. Caddyshack
2. The Maltese Falcon
3. Donovan’s Reef
4. The Terminator
5. Charade

The problem with these tag games is that the list requirements are either too long or too short.

The Beach Bum

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

You Can't Go Back To The Past

I received telephone calls from concerned friends on both Saturday and Sunday.

The Saturday call was from my old Chicago friend Slow Eddie. After the traditional Howya doin’ conversation:
He sez “Howya doin’?”
I sez “Ok, howya doin’?”
He sez “Ok”.
We both lied!
He said that he called because I haven’t written a Blog in over three weeks and that he was concerned. Basically he was just checking to see if I was still among the living.

We then talked about Baseball. He a White Sox fan and I am a Cubs fan. He was boasting that he has watched more than 100 Sox games this year and even some Cubs games. He retired last spring so, like me, he has a lot of time to watch Baseball.

I boasted back saying that I have seen more than 250 games this year (predominately the Tampa Bay Rays). Plus I have seen every MLB Team play this year.

He also asked me why I was a Cub and not a White Sox fan, after all I did grow up on the south side. I told him that I had told him the story nearly 50 years ago and maybe I would blog about it in the near future.

After about 15 minutes of talking Baseball, he switched the topic to our High School days and the old neighborhood. A week ago Slow decided to show his grandchildren our old neighborhood and what once was Harrison High School. A big mistake says Slow, since he hadn’t been there for about 25 years. Slow has lived in Berwyn of more than 30 years.

His grandchildren live in a northwestern suburb named Schaumburg and except for going to the Lake or the Downtown/Grant Park area they have never seen the real city up close. Both of his sons will come to visit him in Berwyn and bring their children to see Grandpa. He told me the route that he took and I cringed. It was very similar to the route that my cousin, the Admiral, took to show my daughters our old neighborhood in 1996 (I remember him saying to “make sure the doors are locked and the windows are closed”).

Slow Eddie was surprised to see all the changes on 26th Street (South). He said there was a sign in one store window that said English Spoken Here. He said that it must had been a joke because he didn’t a single white person on the streets that he traveled (Eddie considers Spanish speaking people to be non-white – it has something to do with the Moors invading the Iberian Peninsula).

The kids couldn’t wait until the tour was over and neither could Eddie. He took 31st Street back home and stopped at the “Home Run Inn” to get a pizza for lunch. He decided to take it home because “except for some of the staff there wasn’t a white person in the place”.

After the story about the trip to the old neighborhood, he decided that he is considering moving from Berwyn to Schaumburg, He would sell his house and buy a condo outright. I asked him if it was to be closer to his children and grandchildren. He said that and the fact that some Salvadorians had moved in across the street from him and that they do not speak English. Besides he was tired of mowing the lawn and shoveling the snow.

So I sez “how do you know that they are Salvadorians?” He sez “the Mexicans that live three doors down told me.”

Slow Eddie closes the conversation with “I’ll really miss the neighborhood Bars, all that they have in Schaumburg is high class yuppie places.”

The Beach Bum

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Monday, August 03, 2009

A Pip of a Chip

I don’t eat a lot of snack foods. Not that I don’t like them and the hollow calories that they provide (if my body craves hollow calories, I usually drink a beer), but it is a habit (one of the very few good habits that I have) that I developed as a child.

My parents didn’t keep snack foods (except for potato chips, which were only to be eaten with lunch) in the house. My Mom would always tell us that these foods would ruin our appetites for supper. Snacks were only eaten after supper. And most of the time we were too full to eat them before nine at night.

The snack foods that my Dad ate were pickled herring, sardines in mustard sauce and occasionally popcorn. Needless to say, as a child and a teen the popcorn was the only one of these snacks that appealed to me.

We also always had Ice Cream on hand, but Ice Cream was considered to be a dessert and not a snack; the only time we ate it was after supper, as a part of our dinner. My favorite was Spumoni which we would get from a nearby Italian Pizzeria (more about this in my next Blog).

As usual I have digressed from the main topic of this Blog; which is Potato Chips.

When I was a kid my parents would buy a Potato Chip Brand named Jays (not to be confused with Lays); these were Chicago’s most popular potato chip, at that time. Their slogan was “A Pip of a Chip”. They came in one and a quarter ounce bags (I believe that there were also family size bags available). My Mom said that this was the prefect portion to accompany a lunchtime sandwich. If we bought the larger bag we would tend to eat more than we should and therefore ruin our appetites. She also monitored the bag count daily to make sure that no one was cheating on their potato chip intake.

I have always enjoyed eating potato chips with a sandwich.

The other day I ate a sliced chicken breast sandwich, and of course, I wanted potato chips to accompany this sandwich. My daughter had purchased a box of (fifty count) one ounce bags (vending size) of Lays Potato Chips at Sam’s Club. When I buy chips, I usually buy the 12 and ½ ounce to 14 ounce bags (ounce for ounce it is less expensive – especially when they are on sale – but is it really less expensive?).

Here is what I found in the one ounce bag. There were 85% whole chips, 15% broken chips and no crumbs. In the big family size bags you are lucky if you get 60% whole chips, 25% broken chips, 12% bits and pieces (not worth eating) and another 3% crumbs (also not worth eating). You end up feeding 15% of your purchase to the birds and insects, or worse yet putting it into the trash.

I used to attribute this to the grocery store’s mishandling of the bags when stocking the shelves, but now I’m beginning to wonder. Does Frito-Lay put their scraps in the larger bags so that they can put them on sale more often? Also, why aren’t potato chips packaged in clear bags as Doritos are?

I want to know!

The Beach Bum

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