Thursday, December 26, 2013

Mel Brooks and Werner Von Braun

     Mel Brooks, creative comic genius and Werner Von Braun, Hitler's creative rocket scientist have nothing in common, right? Wrong.

     When WWII ended, Von Braun's team was brought to the United States before the Russians could grab them and he, and his team, in large part were responsible for America's space program.

     Mel Brooks, writer and producer, of The Producers - and, the play within the play was created by an insane character who wrote a musical in praise of the Nazis.  During the course of the play within the play "Springtime for Hitler" a character announces that Hitler was a better dancer than Churchill.

     Now, fast forward to us on the beach in Waikiki, in front of the Outrigger Waikiki, and our interviewing the beach boys for our travel article.  They told us of all the famous people that they taught to surf with no problem.  They even looked at us and said that we could do it too.  Then they started to laugh.  We asked why.  They did not answer.  We prodded, did you ever have trouble teaching anyone how to surf; and then they laughed and admitted yes.  We asked who, and they blurted out -Werner Von Braun.  He wanted to understand the physics of surfing and we could not explain that to his satisfaction and finally, he agreed to try when we convinced him that he would surf without the explanation.  And he did.  The surfer said that Von Braun was on a surf board in the middle and we beach boys were on both sides of him, and held his hands with his arms out stretched, and guided him in on a wave.  He loved it!

     If only Mel Brooks had known this story.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Peyton Manning and Aunt Betty

     They never met.  Aunt Betty died quite a few years ago, but her eclectic interests would have included Peyton Manning and his "sportsman of the year" award.  And their life paths, believe it or not, overcame similar obstacles.

     Many years ago, when open heart surgery became the last refuge of very sick patients, Aunt Betty underwent the procedure which included removing a rib.  She was one of 14 people operated on that day and one of the three who survived.

     Before the surgery, Aunt Betty was a paralegal although no one used that term then.  She worked diligently, carefully, and conscientiously for 20 years for a lawyer who relied on and depended on her even though she was grossly overworked and underpaid.

     While Aunt Betty was recovering from her open heart surgery in her hospital room, the lawyer walked in, saw her, told her that she would never again be of any use and fired her on the spot.

     Sounds like what the Colts did to Peyton Manning, doesn't it?  After his neck and spine surgery and year of hard work and rehab, the Colts let him go; feeling that he too would be useless.  And now, hired by the Denver Broncos, he performs like a new and rejuvenated football player.  He just set the record for the most touchdown passes in a season (beating Dan Marino's 20-year record of 50).

     Meanwhile, back to Aunt Betty.  She recovered, got out of the hospital, and found employment with another lawyer who treated her with the respect and dignity that she deserved.  And more money too.

     If there is a moral to these stories, it is "don't let the bastards wear you down."

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fix the lights

     The new lights that decorate Bala Avenue are not working, again.  These are the very lights that Lower Merion township taxpayers paid for.  According to information that we received, taxpayer dollars do not fund the City Avenue Special Services District personnel; however, our taxpayer dollars do pay for the infrastructure "improvements."

     Miller Brothers electric tore up the street, caused my kitchen wall to crack, took out the old lamps (that worked), and put in these new ones that are not reliable.  According to emails, it's not clear where the problem is, who's responsible, and how the problems can be fixed before the township assumes responsibility for the maintenance of the lights.

     It's important that Bala Avenue be well lighted.  Of course, I don't really have to write this because we all know that well lighted streets and street corners are a great deterrent for crime.  Remember during the summer when there were muggings on Bala Avenue?  And the darkness of the street was implicated?

     Any crime that happens cannot be blamed on the victims if the lights don't work.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Football Memories

     I am always amazed that when I say something relevant or interesting about sports, I garner a lot of attention.  For instance, on Thursday, when I was shopping at a grocery store, prior to the onrush of pre-snow storm mobs, I said to my cashier (a capable young man) that I thought it would be fun to see Megatron run around and slip and slide on an icy field.  For those of you who don't know, Megatron is the nickname of the Detroit Lion's great pass catcher Calvin Johnson.  My cashier called over a friend of his and pointed to me, a gray-haired (and old) woman shopper and said with glee, "she knows Megatron."  We then launched into a discussion of the merits and faults of the Eagles and other NFL teams.  There was no winner of this debate because my order was packed and in my cart and the next person in line was already being checked out.

     On many of our 35 trips to Hawaii, we were in Honolulu at the time of the Pro Bowl.  The excitement generated by this game was palpable.  We always bought a Pro Bowl shirt and, when we walked around the streets of Waikiki, we wore either our Pro Bowl jerseys or our Philadelphia Eagles shirts.  One day, a young man came running up to us and said breathlessly, "I'm going to bet on the Pro Bowl.  Who should I pick?"  Unhesitatingly, I answered, "take the points and the over."  We saw him the next day and he thanked us.  He said that he "cleaned up."  And no, he didn't offer and we didn't ask him to share.

     Also at one of the Pro Bowls, was a cheerleader from the San Francisco Forty Niners.  We met her at the Pro Bowl luncheon and, since almost everyone who was there, except me, was male, she sat down next to me at the table.  Edgar didn't mind.  He was on the other side of me.  It turns out, she was a graduate of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, went to Pensacola, FL for training, and became a top gun.  Better than the male students who came from all over the world.  I asked her what she was flying then, and she said a P-3.  That's the plane with the radar umbrella over it.  I whispered "you're a spy," and she said, "ssshhh."

     And to finish with just one more, we interviewed Tom Brookshire of Philadelphia Eagles and CBS football announcing fame.  But, the story I want to tell you was the one his wife Barbara told us about a Thanksgiving dinner.  (He and Pat Summerall announced 8 Super Bowls.)  She told us that the family was waiting for Tom to come home from announcing a Thanksgiving game, the table was set, and the cooked and beautiful turkey was in the center of the table.  Tom walked in the door, saw that the dog was on the table and ready to dive into the turkey and "he made the best tackle of his life."