Monday, February 25, 2013


For the first time in a very long time I watched the Oscars from the beginning to the end, EST 8:30 to a little past Midnight and I really liked it. Seth MacFarland was the sole host and he was great. Irreverent but on the mark. He got up to the edge of being distasteful but never went over the edge. He was funny, bright and even had fun poking some humor at himself with William Shatner's help.

All the girls, excuse me, women, looked beautiful and sexy without looking slutty. The one who showed the most poise was Jennifer Lawrence, who at the age of 22 has now won two Oscars  As she was running up the stairs for this year's Oscar she stumbled and fell and yet she still gracefully recovered with grace and poise. What a sweetheart! Is it me or doesn't she look different every-time we see her? She was gorgeous in "Sliver Lining, Playbook" which I saw and fell in love with her, not really but you know what I mean, her character and her looks,   but I wouldn't have recognized her last night. I mean she was still very pretty, but different. "Silver Lining" character would have had me in bed in a moment at the Oscars she reminded me of my Granddaughters. She is an amazing actor and hopefully won't sit on her laurels. Hopefully she will continue to study, improve, and just keep getting better and sexier.

Anne Hathaway looked very classy. She is such a beautiful woman and accomplished actress. She did a great job in "Les Mis" and deserved her Oscar. The fact is I thought "Les Mis" deserved the best picture award. The picture was flawless because it had some flaws that made it even greater than what it would have been if they, for example, lip synched instead of filming the singing live. They would have had a studio perfect recording perhaps but not the strain and sweat and full emotion of performers who were living the moment instead of acting it. All involved with this production, performers, technicians , director and producers did such a grand job in mounting a great, great motion picture in my mind which needed greater acclimation than they received. However, I was not dismayed by "Argo" winning best picture. Loved the fact that Ben Afflack snubbed as a Director by the Academy had his chance to shine if not gloat when as a Producer he accepted the best picture Oscar.

Daniel Day-Lewis deserved his third Oscar award for best actor, portraying Lincoln so well one got the feeling that the screen actually had Abraham Lincoln on the screen rather than an actor's portrayal. I thought Tommy Lee Jones should have won best supporting actor but I have to admit I didn't see "Django Unchained" so I can't comment intelligently on Christoph Waltz. I did like DeNero's portrayal in "Silver Lining" but he has been playing a lot of fathers lately and frankly I didn't see that much different from his other roles. DeNero is a great American artist but as he got older he gave a lot of boiler plate performances, drawing from past roles and I think he continues to do this even in "Silver Lining" but not as much. The young DeNero was so different from one role to another as the character changed so did he facially, in mannerisms in voice inflections but lately, to me anyway, he gives boiler plate performances. To me any way, he seems to be acting not living the moment. Bradley Cooper, "Silver Linings, Playbook" main character on the other hand, who by the way is a graduate of The Actor's Studio in New York, really lived his role as did Jennifer Lawrence which made the picture so much better than the script. These two young actors tore up the screen by living the moment, by pulling truth out of fiction and bringing life to what was based on an emotional true story of a person who had a son with mental health problems. They were the heart and soul of this picture because they didn't act they lived the characters and made it all seem real and true.

Everything clicked for me as the show progressed. All the productions and performers were right on track. Barbara Streisand still has a magical presence and a golden voice. Shirley Bassey at 76 was beautiful with a voice as strong as ever as she celebrated one of the James Bond songs, her song.  Michael Douglas looked great as he seems fully recovered from his serious bout with cancer. I personally loved Seth MacFarland's little ditty kidding the girls who went bare breasted in some of their films, called "I Saw Your Boobs".

For a long time I drifted away from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood because I had some touch of it as an executive with the long gone American International Pictures and my brief stint as a performer, musician and actor. I guess as I aged I became jaded and a bit cynical. But lately, due to influences that have recently entered my life I have been exposed to the joy of a good picture, a wonderful acting performance, of being lifted to heights that only being immersed in a good all around artistic performance and production could lift me to. I have tossed off that cynical thought that only profits motivated the artist and have returned to that childlike acceptance that there is joy in living with expectations and believing that there is much more to life than dollars, cents and politics. I guess I have become child-like, ready to accept the wonders the world has to offer. This attitude has helped me to accept and enjoy shows like the Oscars which celebrates creativity and the joy of playing in the sandbox. It is much better to be back in the sandbox than out of it.        

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Happy Birthday, Kid!

He was born in the middle of the Great Depression, the dirty thirties. The earliest memories were of the place he lived in Corona, Queens. They lived in a semi-attached house with stoops which everybody sat on during the hottest summer months. The houses mirrored each other and they had three families in them. His grandmother lived right next door, and there were people living downstairs. But right next door was his cousin, a pretty gal named Eleanor. Ellie was a little older so she hung with his brother who was four years older than him. But the best part of Corona was all the rest of his family lived within walking distance, Aunts, Uncles and cousins. Everybody went to each other's homes and the best part was all his cousins' friends were available too with their mothers and fathers. Everybody knew everybody and he remembered all the laughter that seemed to be around. He was the baby and his female cousins friends loved to grab him and hug him to their bosoms. He really loved that, didn't know why but it felt real good even when he was was just a little kid. As far as he knew everybody was Italian just like he and his family were. Everybody had great smells emanating from their kitchens especially on Sundays when the gravy (sauce to the purists) would simmer for hours on the stove with the great meats in it. Everybody eventually dipped a bit of Italian bread into it just to taste. When the macaroni, no one called it pasta, was almost finished the Momma would take some out and with the gravy let Poppa taste and if he nodded then it would be poured into the colander and  could all sit down and eat that delicious meal of Macaroni and meatballs or sausage or whatever. He only had great memories of his earliest years in Corona when his parents and the world and all his family and friends were really young.

They moved to a great place not too far from Corona called Queensborough Hill and while the friends and family he knew remained in Corona they were not too far away. His earliest memories of  "The Hill" were of the fact that while there were a lot of Italians around there were other people also most of them Irish. In fact his first friend on The Hill was an Irish kid named Eugene who they called Babe. They remained friends forever which was great in his mind as it gave real solid roots to his life growing up on The Hill. Everybody knew everybody on The Hill or at least it seemed so. The kids would go up to the schoolyard and play handball, stickball, softball, basketball, ring-a-leavio, Chinese Hand ball (asses up) and gamble in a corner by playing cards and throwing dice. There was always a fight or two breaking out each week but no grudges were held. Everybody knew everybody and in a strange way respected the fact that we all belonged because we lived on "The Hill". All the parents looked out for the good of each other and of their kids. God forbid you were caught doing something really bad your parents found out about it right away and took the corrective action to make sure you returned to the straight and narrow. So when you sneaked a smoke or a swig of wine you made sure no grown up was in sight. He went from that Elementary School into High School and right into work, a job his mother got for him before he could say no. The world was still young but it and all in it were getting older. A lot of the family were getting older and sicker and while there were still plenty of laughs a lot of tears were sneaking into the mix.

The years that followed saw him take the place of his parents as he fell in love, raised a family, had children became the elder in the family while he saw most of those that occupy his earliest memories fade away into that other spiritual existence  His children were no longer children, had children of their own and his world no longer was young but it was still full of excitement, pleasure and laughs, lots of laughs. He always felt when he stopped laughing at the world, the people that occupy it and most important at himself it would be time to chuck it all and check out. What made this sorry earth a great place to live were a few things, music, family,
the excitement of expectations that something good was about to happen, laughs, plenty of laughs but most of all love. A love of creation and it's beauty. The love of family, children, grandchildren. The love of friends. The love of a good woman to share life with. But most of all the love of God and all the beauty He has created for all of us to enjoy if we only stop a moment and look around and marvel at this crazy world and all the great people in it. While he was thankful he still had all those great memories from his youth he made a promise to himself to continue to live a life that will make new memories that are just as great.



Monday, February 4, 2013

But The Greatest Is Love

He had turned off the TV. There was the usual political debates, the dopey half hour sit-Com's, the dopey night time soaps and the late night news which contained very little news if one can call the spots that seemed to be promos for some program or other that was or will be on that particular network, news. He felt he should be tired but wasn't. He kept thinking how far away from actually living these super stars, politicians or entertainers really were. One thing he was sure of everyone had their own agendas that were lurking in the background of whatever they were doing publicly at that moment. Everything centered around money. Karl Marx was right, economics really was at the core of everything.

For the first time in his life he actually contributed to a political campaign. Now every day, Emails arrive from various politicos requesting a contribution from five bucks and up. The race is over, he thought, "What the hell?".

Wounded Veterans charities, Children's Hospitals, Christian Children groups, even various animal organizations show promos of starving, maimed, and desolate people and animals that he could help for only nineteen dollars a month, that is sixty three cents a day, not much when one considers a pack of cigarettes cost around twelve bucks which translates to sixty cents a cigarette. That stark figures are maybe $372.00 a month to kill yourself with lung cancer as opposed to $19.00 a month to help to save someone. But for most of us we couldn't save all because with all the charities mentioned one has to factor in money to support the church, synagogue, hospitals, orphanages and the like we would be bankrupt before long.

But what about just living, like rent or mortgages or taxes or food, shelter and clothing? What about a vacation now and then? What about the cost of College, or even private El-hi schools? When does what we do for ourselves get over taking care of our needs and becomes selfish? These characters in the news do not concern themselves with the everyday necessities of living that we have to be concerned with, he thought. The super stars and politicians don't have to get up at 6 every day and do the grunt work that pays for everything. They are concerned with keeping their levels of living on the highest standard that they have obtained. Some were born into the elite class but most had to fight for it, especially the entertainers and sport stars. Now they are living like it will never go away, but it might, it can and in some cases it will go away in the sea of bad investments, high living all leading to financial ruin. So they fight to keep what they have indulging themselves always living in fear that they may become ex-elitists.

He still was not sleepy so he poured himself a night-cap of Scotch neat he could sip on and savor while he let his thoughts run free. He didn't want to accept the thought that economics ruled. He never wanted to think that money was the ruler. His mind settled on a phrase from a writing that he read so long ago, which went something like this, "All we have left is faith, hope and love but the greater of these is love.".  He mused that is something he hoped he lived his life on. All of these things are centered for the search for truth. He thought that these ideals wouldn't be accepted in today's world since concepts must be hypothesized, tested and results based on facts. whereas faith is a firm belief in something for which there is no proof and rooted in faith is hope, looking forward to getting what you have faith in even though all you have is the faith that the goal exists. What makes love the greatest of these three, is that it is unconditional affection with no limits or boundaries. He poured himself a second Scotch took a sip and thought yes I like the idea of living with the concepts that we can't prove everything and we must have something to sink our roots in to ground us. We must always have hope that our goals will be reached especially of they are grounded in love.

When his world was young it was filled with these ideals as he struggled to keep his family afloat while he tried to enjoy the joys afforded him not the least of which was the love shared between him and his wife. She probably never realized it but her love, support and sweet kisses kept him going for without her he would have turned surely into the materialistic person that only thought of the concrete and never the spiritual. She had been gone for many years now and he floundered as a rudderless ship without her. He guessed he started to become materialistic because he didn't have her beauty, charm and spirit to remind him that the world has great unseen pleasures for those who seek them. His values started to come back when by chance  he met someone he hadn't seen for years.

He finished the last drop of Scotch and thought that chance meeting and the ensuing meetings gave him back something that he had lost and that was the very things that he wanted to live by. He guessed it was that the relationship was grounded in love, unconditional with no limits or boundaries which resulted from a firm faith that this meeting was no accident that somehow it was planned by whatever spirits ruled the earth that wanted two people to find happiness and contentment. The hope which always remains that only good will result as long as the spiritual ruled and rationalism was not pursued.

As he got under the covers he thought to himself that he has to stop watching all these news shows as they really are not news and are depressing. He didn't want to be depressed. As he drifted off to the land of nod he thought, "All will pass away except faith, hope and love but the greatest of these is love.". He fell into a deep sleep content in the knowledge that the values of his youth never really went away they were just hiding until someone came along and rejuvenated them.