TV Dinner

Dining table set,

This man and television,

How they miss signals!

© 2015


What Do You Do When You Can’t Afford Pay-Per-View?

Pay-per-view 2

It’s the end of the world!  Well, not really.  Sportscasters weren’t predicting doom when they dubbed this weekend as “Sportsmageddon.”  The NBA and NHL playoffs are in full swing.  The NFL draft is in its third day.  The Kentucky Derby will showcase the best in thoroughbred racing today.  The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox renew their timeless rivalry.  And, of course, the granddaddy of all spectacles-American Prizefighting presents the much anticipated boxing match between Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.  Boxing fans from all over the world have flocked to Las Vegas, Nevada, in hopes of witnessing what is being promoted as the premier fight of the century.  Others will watch in crowded bars or from the comfort of their own homes for a whopping $100 a pop.  Whew!  The price of ordering a fight has sure gone up over the years.

Before you accuse me of becoming the old curmudgeon that even I fear I may be evolving into, let me just say that I don’t consider it to be entirely foolish to pay $100 to watch a boxing match on television.  On the contrary, what may turn out to be the unwise decision is to dismiss the potential for the unexpected to occur in a boxing match.  Take for example all of the sports fans who were convinced that James “Buster” Douglas didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of defeating the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world “Iron” Mike Tyson.  So what did they do?  They watched the NBA Slam Dunk Contest which was being telecast on TNT, and woke up the next morning to the startling news that “Buster” Douglas had knocked Mike Tyson out in the 10th round.

Or take for example the night I begged my brother to order the Roy Jones Jr. vs. Antonio Tarver rematch.  We were at his apartment, I was desperate to watch the fight, and completely at his mercy.  I pleaded with him, “Please order the fight.  I will pay for it.  It’s only $50.”  He shrugged me off with a cold shoulder and said “We’re not ordering the fight.  The Lakers are playing tonight.  We’re watching Shaq and Kobe.”  I wouldn’t give up.  I kept bugging him about it because I had a funny feeling that something spectacular would happen.  He finally relented only after I again promised to pay the $50 for the fight.  And what happened?  Roy Jones Jr., who had only been knocked down in a fight once before, got knocked out in the 2nd round.  No one ever thought Roy Jones Jr. would ever be knocked out.  I let out a triumphant yell when he went down, “I told you!  I told you!”

This time around I don’t have that same feeling.  My boxing intuition is not telling me that I’m going to miss anything phenomenal by not ordering the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight tonight.  My sentiment mirrors many in the boxing world that this fight should have taken place years ago, when both fighters were still in their prime.  Truth be told, I don’t have $100 to spend on a boxing match these days.  I can’t even afford cable television.  I use an antenna to watch over-the-air digital television programming.  I listen to my beloved New York Yankees on AM radio.  Fortunately for me and other modern day rabbit ear using boxing fans, CBS and NBC have teamed up to present Premier Boxing Champions on some Saturday afternoons and evenings.  On these Saturdays, new up and coming boxers are featured, hearkening back to the good old days of ABC’s Wide World of Sports when boxing was showcased from time to time.  Unfortunately, no fights are scheduled on NBC or CBS until next Saturday.

With all of the buzz surrounding the big fight tonight, I find myself scratching my head, trying to find a way to satisfy my craving for jabs, stiff arms, uppercuts, hooks, clinches, elbows, head-butts, cornermen, enswells, occasional low blows and rabbit punches, ear biting, crazed fans parachuting into the middle of the ring, ripped trunks exposing bare ass, urine drinking, knockouts (technical and otherwise), standing 8 counts, unanimous decisions, split decisions, draws, disqualifications, no contests, ringside judges, commentators, referees, entourages, grand musical entrances, weigh-ins, bells ringing “ding, ding,” post-fight interviews and brawls, promises for rematches, national anthems, multicolored trunks, gloves, robes, flying mouthpieces, water bottles, Vaseline, smelling salts, buckets, guts, blood, sweat, tears, snot, spit, ring card girls, and celebrities present in the front 5 rows visible at the very top of my television screen.  But what do you do if you can’t afford Pay-per-view?

So, here’s how I’m  going to spend “Sportsmaggedon.”  As I’m typing this up, I’m watching the Washington Capitals square off on ice against the New York Rangers.  I have the sound muted, so that I can listen to the Yankees and Red Sox game on my radio.  I’ll watch the horses run in the Kentucky Derby.  And then…I’m going to watch Rocky.  Yep.  Rocky!  And I’m going to go on record as saying that even though I know Apollo Creed wins, it will be more satisfying than if I had purchased the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.  When Rocky humbly steps into the ring tonight, via the 2 Disc Collector’s Edition DVD that I purchased for $5.99 at Barnes & Noble, he won’t be doing it for a 75 million dollar check.  When Apollo cockily strides into the ring tonight, regaling in full Americana apparel, even he won’t be doing it for a 100 million dollar paycheck.  Mickey will be in one corner and Duke in the other.  Adrian will be watching on with thousands of other Philadelphians.  Butkus will be slurping up water and food out of his bowl at home.  I’ll use the special feature option to include audio commentary from the director, producers and cast members.  I’ll throw a frozen pizza pie in the oven and maybe crack open a “cold one.”  When it’s over I’ll watch Saturday Night Live like I do every Saturday.  When that’s over I’ll probably fall asleep, and then wake up in the morning to find out if the boxing world as been forever changed.


© 2015

How Does the Playground Work? (A Short Film)

A slapstick short film about a man having difficulties on a playground

© 2014

You Stay Classy Movies of Lake Worth

When I first saw the trailer for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, I made up my  mind that I would not go to see it.  I just couldn’t see how it would be able to top 2004’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.  It’s been nine years, after all.  I resigned my continuation with the drama of Ron Burgundy and Veronica Corningstone’s tumultuous, and ultra competitive relationship, to the DVD release.  At which time, I would be able to place a hold on the movie at my local library, save my  money, and avoid the hype.  The build up to Anchorman 2 has included everything from Will Ferrell appearing as Ron Burgundy to pitch the new Dodge Durango, to writing a book as Ron Burgundy titled Let Me Off at the Top!: My Classy Life and other Musings.  He even appeared as Ron Burgundy on a Bismarck, North Dakota, local news broadcast, and co-anchored the entire show.  I’ll admit that promo gimmick made me chuckle.  After all, Will Ferrell is a master of improvisation.  But Wednesday, when the movie opened in theaters, I caved to the pressure.  The legend continues.

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about a movie that I’ve seen.  So I figured, going into Anchorman 2, I would write something about the new Adam McKay sequel.  But on arrival to the movie theater, my instinct told me I might end up writing as much, if not more, about the theater itself.  I’m new to the Lake Worth, FL, area.  So when I did a search on for the nearest theaters showing Anchorman 2, I settled on Movies of Lake Worth located at 7380 Lake Worth Road.  Tickets were listed as $7.00 for adults.  The other theater in Lake Worth advertised their ticket prices as $8.50 for adults.  This was an easy choice.

Movies of Lake Worth is located in a shopping plaza.  It’s very unassuming, evidenced by the marquee which plainly displays the word “Movies” in full view.  The ticket booth employee greeted me warmly when I stepped up to the glass window.  “Anchorman 2 for 1:15pm please,” I proffered while sliding my debit card through the opening in the window.  “Okay, but it’s cash only.”  Her retort confused me.  The last time I frequented a movie theater that accepted cash only was back in the mid 1990’s.  In fact, that theater may have also accepted debit and credit cards, but I would have never thought to use either or, because it was a $1.00 movie theater.  I backed away from the counter, and remembered that I had cash with me as well.   I gave the attendant a $10.00 bill, and she gave me $4.00 back and a ticket stub.  Apparently the matinée cost of a ticket is only $6.00.  That’s a great price!  The ticket stub did not have Anchorman 2 printed on it.  It just said Cinemas: Admit One.

Concession StandI walked into the theater and decided to get a soda.  “What kind of sodas do you have for sale?”  “We have Diet Dr. Brown’s,” the woman behind the concession stand answered.    Her reply befuddled me.  “I’m sorry, could you repeat that?  What type of sodas do you have?”  “Diet Dr. Brown’s.”  At first I convinced myself that she had merely made a mistake and meant to say Dr. Pepper.  But no, she had not made a mistake.  I have never heard of Dr. Brown’s soda before.  Maybe it’s because I’m from the Midwest.  In fact we say “pop” and not “soda” in the Midwest.  But apparently Dr. Brown’s has been around since 1869, as it clearly states on the can.  So what do I know?  “Okay I’ll take a Diet Dr. Brown’s please.”  Dr. Brown'sShe handed me the “naturally flavor black cherry soda with other natural flavors” housed in a pink can, and I handed her $2.50.  Just about that time, as I was turning with my soda in hand to walk into the theater showing Anchorman 2, an elderly woman addressed a man, who looked like he was the manager of the movie house.  “Excuse me sir, could you tell them that the sound is turned down way too low in our movie?”  Then it occurred to me that most of the movie goers around me were about the age of approximately 65-75.  The manager turned toward her.  “Which movie is it?”  “12 Years a Slave,” the elderly woman replied.  “The sound is always low at the beginning of the movie.”  “Oh, okay,” she said, seeming to have accepted that rationale for the inaudible audio in her showing.  Seconds latter a senior couple passed by me on their way to their movie.  “What’s Anchorman?”  “It’s a radio broadcast film,” the man said to his wife.  “Oh, I see,” she said after hearing his confident answer to her question.

As is my normal routine when I go to see a movie, I headed over to the restroom after locating my theater.  I hate it when nature calls during the climax of a movie I just paid to see.  I entered the men’s room, through a walkway which seemed to be designed to evoke feelings of being backstage in a Broadway theater, in the dressing room of the actors.  The gentleman next to my stall had just finished as I began, and was tapping down on the flush handle unsuccessfully.  He let out a frustrated sigh that felt incriminating to my generation, as if to say, “they don’t make them like they used to,” and “that’s what’s wrong with this country.”  As he exited, I pushed down on my flush handle.  The water trickled down sparingly and reluctantly.  I walked over to the sink, and as I washed my hands, I saw another gentleman behind me using the toilet.  The door was open.  He was standing with his back to me, with one hand operating his cell phone pressed to his ear, and his other hand…well, you get the picture.  I’m always tickled by people who are so busy that they have to talk on their cell while urinating.  The phone call was obviously pressing to the point where he didn’t care that the person on the other end of the phone, like me, could hear the splashing.  If Anchorman 2 failed to deliver the guffaws I’d paid for, I could always think back to the laughter I was now suppressing in the men’s room.Restrooms

When I exited the restroom and walked into the theater, I again was transported to the mid 1990’s.  The theater was very similar to those cinema theaters of the 1990’s-narrow and flanked by two columns of seats on each side, with about six or seven seats in each row.  There was only one way in and one way out.  There was only one aisle.  The sound of the projector could be heard in silent pauses during the movie.  Faint traces of those squiggly black lines that surface every half second, in all directions, on every inch of the screen, could be detected.  Visually, those squiggly lines are equivalent to the scratching sounds of vinyl records, which I particularly enjoy from a nostalgic point of view.  There were only five people in the movie theater.  I was the youngest person, and I would venture to say that there were a good three decades of age difference between me and the other people in the theater.  One gentleman had a walker.  I was curious to see how the other movie goers would respond to the raunchy, racist, sexist, crude, low-brow, comedy signature to the Anchorman franchise.  Approximately thirty minutes later, I got my answer.  No one had laughed out loud, except for me, and one woman walked out of the theater.  This only intensified the humor of the socially unacceptable antics of Ron Burgundy, Brian Fantana, Champ Kind, and Brick Tamland.

Without spoiling the movie, I’ll just say that walking into the movie I was sure that Anchorman 2 would not be as funny as the first Anchorman.  Upon leaving the theater after the movie was over, I was no longer sure that Anchorman 2 was not the funnier movie.  The battle of the sexes and glass ceiling theme of the first Anchorman movie, created the kind of archetype awkward tension between Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), that supplied a perfect, seemingly unending stream of hilarious scenarios.  In Anchorman 2, the theme switches to the presence of African-Americans in the workplace.  Meagan Good plays Ron Burgundy’s boss Linda Jackson.  The tension between Linda Jackson and Ron Burgundy is brought on by the sexually aggressive seduction of Burgundy by his boss (Meagan Good is as sexy as ever on-screen).  This conflict coupled with the taboo of interracial sex in the 1970’s and 1980’s is an ordeal ripe for hilarity.  Both Ferrell and Good excel at making the most of this comedic opportunity.  The other themes of what is news, and what is not news, and too much news, supply a concrete foundation for the jokes that follow.  And as if that’s not enough, there’s also Baxter, the irresistibly funny dog and faithful companion of Ron Burgundy.  Baxter is hands down, the funniest dog to ever appear in film.

When the movie ended, the three or four other people still left in the theater made their way out.  I stayed put in my seat, just in case there was an extra scene at the end hinting at an Anchorman 3 movie.  There was not.  The silver-haired gentleman with the walker passed by me.  I nodded out of respect.  I guess if you’re of a certain age, you can sit through Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues and not laugh even once.  Perhaps you can even enjoy the movie and not laugh once.  But not me.  I wiped tears of laughter away from my eyes on two occasions.  I laughed hysterically, yet subdued, under my breath, releasing only a few decibels of chuckles during the funniest scenes, out of deference for the other people in attendance.  I didn’t want to ruin their movie experience.  Even though through the whole movie, I wanted to stand up and yell at the top of my lungs, “Are you seriously not finding this to be the funniest shit you’ve ever seen?”


© 2013

Pinwheel (A Short, Short Comedy Film)

This is my short, short DIY (Do It Yourself) film called Pinwheel.  The running time is 1 minute and 49 seconds.  It is a comedy about a pinwheel who is obsessed with being the fastest spinning pinwheel in the world.  I shot it with a digital Vivitar Vivicam 7020.  I used Windows Movie Maker to process the video.  I used Sony Sound Forge Audio Studio, and a Dynamic Microphone DM-30 to record and process the audio.  I was inspired to create this short film after reading the book $30 Film School by Michael W. Dean, which I highly recommend for anyone out there who loves film, and wants to make their own movies.  I was also inspired by the Midwest breezes that blow in summer evenings.  They are perfect for pinwheels!  Thanks for taking the time to watch my short film.  I hope it makes you laugh 🙂

The Art of the Garage Sale

There is an art to selling items in a garage sale.  I’m slowly learning this as I’m sitting in our family garage, waiting for the next customer to come walking up the driveway.  Our neighborhood is having a community garage sale today and tomorrow.  What better way to get rid of all the crap…I mean, unused stuff in the basement.  Of course it’s not really crap.  It’s just not useful to us anymore because we’ve either replaced the item up for sale, or outgrown it, or upgraded it, or broke it (yikes), or etcetera.  This was my first attempt to pull off a successful garage sale.  So I thought, why not offer all of you interested readers a narrative of how I helped to put it together.

My first step was to enter, what I like to call, “The Enchanted Forrest.”  It’s otherwise known as the crawl space in the basement.  I call it “The Enchanted Forrest” because it is home to all sorts of fascinating things, some of which can be found in an actual forest; things like insects, spiders, spider webs (huge ones), trees (mostly the kind you put up around Christmas time) and wood (possibly left-over 2×4’s from abandoned projects).  But also in “The Enchanted Forrest” you’ll find treasures; the keepsakes you hid away, money (usually coins but we’ll get back to that in a moment), documents you couldn’t find but desperately needed years ago, and all of the wonderful items that will enthrall your neighbors, as they search through your garage for that one special thing they’ll specifically be looking for.  So don’t throw anything away that you find in your crawl space, because as the old saying goes, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

After I sorted all of the items from the crawl space that I thought were worthy of consideration for our garage sale, my next step was to check with everyone in the house to see:  a) whom the item belonged to, and b) if they were okay with selling it.  The last thing you want to do is sell a painting that belongs to your mother which was given to her by a dear friend, who was a dear friend of the artist.  (Trust me!)  Next I lugged the soon to be merchandise up the stairs and into the garage.  Then I lugged the soon to be merchandise back out of the garage and into the kitchen.  Why?  Because I forgot to sweep the garage first.  So remember to sweep the garage first before you bring out the merchandise!  Your back will thank you.

Okay, so back to the money that you will find in your enchanted forest of a crawl space.  That’s important because you’ll need change for all of your customers.  They’ll be carrying cash but not necessarily one dollar bills, let alone pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.  Again, make sure it’s your money that you found and not one of your family members’.  The last thing you want to do is cash in your brother’s stash of pennies that he’s been saving over the course of the last 10 years.  It’s down right selfish and he might have been waiting for the right moment to take all of those pennies, roll them up, and buy a pizza.  By the time I rolled up all of the pennies I had saved up, it amounted to $16.  Not bad huh?  As they say, a penny saved is a penny earned.  So I took all my pennies to the bank and exchanged them for one dollar bills-enough to give change to customers who wanted to pay with $5, $10 or $20 bills.

Next, together with my family, we created an itemized list of all of the garage sale merchandise so that we could agree on a selling price.  We contacted my Aunt Theresa, who is an expert with garage sales, for advice on how much to charge for each item.  Here’s a list to give you an idea of what we came up with:

Microwave – $20     Dishes – 50₵     Glasses – 25₵     TV’s – $10     TV Stand – $7     VHS Tapes – $1     Lamps – $2.50     Steamer – $10

Vase – $1 (large)/50₵ (small)     Iron – $2     Ironing Board – $2     Typewriter – $10     T-Shirts – 50₵     Dresses – $2     Hats – $2

Jeans – $2     Hangers – 50₵     Mirror – $5     Electric Skillet – $2

There were more items, but you get the idea.  In our case, our neighbors will be doing us a favor by taking these belongings off our hands.  We’re never going to use them anymore.  They can go and buy this stuff cheap at Walmart or Kmart, or wherever.  But we are giving them a real bargain.  And they are saving us the trouble of having to store it in our basement for more years to come.  It’s good for the environment too, because this stuff won’t end up in a landfill.  It will end up in the home of someone who can actually use it.  It’s a win-win situation.  And the best part is that when they buy it, they’ll thank you and be happy that they found such a great deal!

Okay, not much time before the garage sale starts, and we have a few more important things to do.  Next, I plugged in all of the electrical appliances and entertainment items to make sure they worked.  Check√  Then I made 2 signs that said “Garage Sale” and placed them on both sides of our mailbox so that our neighbors could see it, no matter what direction they were driving past our house.  (I had to learn this the hard way after a man walked up to us in the garage and said “you should have a sign out so that we know you’re having a garage sale”-oops!)  Check√  Fortunately our neighborhood organization publicized the community garage sale on craigslist, and put out signs by the main road so that anyone passing by could see it.

Now, I’ve been told that having refreshments to offer your customers is a good idea.  My cousin P.J. who also has experience in garage sales says that water, sodas, hot dogs and chips can go a long way to boosting your profits.  Ours was a rush job, but in the future, I think that would be an excellent idea, and a nice touch to add in making your garage sale stand out from all of the others.  But I’ve also found out that a good conversation can go a long way in making a sale.  I’ve engaged several customers about their family, sports and other interests so far today.  More than not, the conversation has ended in a sale.

Whatever we don’t sale today, we plan to donate to the Salvation Army and the Kidney Foundation.  However much money we make from our garage sale, our family plans to split evenly.  A neighbor told us she once made $250 from a garage sale.  We don’t have quite enough items to sell in order to hit that mark.  But so far, on this first day of the community garage sale, we’ve made $28.  Not bad for our house being on one of the side streets of the residential community.  All of the houses on the main road get people’s attention first.  Then, if they’re still hunting for deals, they venture down the side roads.  That’s that old rule of where to place a business if you want to be successful-location, location, location.   We still have tomorrow to go.  In fact, tomorrow is Saturday and is being advertised as the “main day of the community garage sale.”

So for the time being, I’ve got a garage full of great stuff to sell, and I’m surrounded by loving family members and fond memories.  Not a bad way to spend the weekend.  Have you ever had a garage sale?  If so, how did it go and what did you do to make it successful?

© 2013