Sunday, April 26, 2015


Got into my old neighborhood a little early yesterday, so I opted for a stroll around.

This is the alley where I've had my ass kicked and my heart broken and also where I've had some of the best and most important times in my life. This alley helped make me who I am today, along with all the great people I met along the way. So glad that all these years later so many of us are still in touch.

I stopped by Thrifty beverage on Coyle Street for an adequate stash of "Manhattan Special" (and a 6 pack of Canfield's Diet Chocolate Fudge Soda)

Good Shepherd Elementary School, Class of 1978...not sure if I took more beatings from bullies our the nuns.

We didn't have a 7-11 in out neighborhood until the 1980's. I recall being 23 and meeting a girl that worked there, she was super pretty, but then I learned she was 16. While 7 years is not a drastic age difference at other points in life, it is at that age, so instead of asking her out, I wrote a blue song about her. Just last year, after decades of not hearing from or about her, she somehow found me and mentioned that she still has the lyrics to the song. This is the 7-11, it is still there:

Later in the day, I met up with one of my oldest friends, Kathleen. I first spent some time with her mom. Kathleen was the first girl I ever had a crush on, we've known each other for more than 40 years!

I Choked on a Joke

This is my favorite joke of all time, but before I type it, part of the comedy effect is in the proper delivery:

A horse walks into a bar
The bartender looks at the horse and says
"So, why the long face?"

I've told this junk hundred, maybe even thousands of times; I've heard it even more than that. I know the delivery that works best and could do it in my sleep, or so I thought....until I choked, and somehow, the choke ended up being funny (for completely different reasons).

A group of us from the old Computer Software Plus gang had just had a great lunch together and we were hanging out on the corner for a bit as we were winding down. At some point, an elderly couple passed by and I spontaneously decided to stop them, the lady in particular, and do that joke.

The joke was on me though, because despite my experience with that joke, I totally flubbed it, missed part of it and had the timing and delivery totally off. All you could hear were crickets and combined with the look on this lady's face and her comment, "Really? You could do better than that!" in her thick Brooklyn-Jewish accent got the crowd, including me, laughing.

So funny!

Here's a cool spin on this joke:

The Highway Gang

For the record, we were never known as "The Highway Gang", I just made it up as a clever post title. It was a retail store front called "Computer Software Plus" on Kings Highway in Brooklyn, NY. I bean working there in 1990-1991, at that time, I was working in the advertising business and in the middle of my master's degree program and I was not able to do the research I needed to do and keep the hours I was keeping and so I asked Ike, the owner of the store and one of my clients if he might offer me a job and a flexible schedule. Ike offered me a job and let me make my own hours in advance...I ended up staying for more than seven years.

The store has since closed its retail store front in favor of a service and mail order business but so many of us who worked in that store are still in touch. In fact, there was something so special about that place, that many of us even stayed in touch with some of our customers.

After a few months of planning, yesterday a group f about 19 of us got together for lunch, laughs, reminiscing, catching up, and good times.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

I Dislike Stephen

If you are a fan of Stephen Thompson from NPR, the you get the title of this post - for the rest of you, that is his twitter handle: @idislikestephen.

I listen to Stephen Thompson regularly on two different NPR shows, All Songs Considered, in which he is a frequent contributor along with fixtures Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton and on Pop Culture Happy Hour, in which he is one of (now) three regular panelists along with Linda Holmes and Glen Weldon.

Both Stephen Thompson and Bob Boilen were in Bean Town from their usual base of D.C. and decided to do a meetup - I could not resist!

Bob Boilen is really nice and very interesting to talk to, especially if you are into music and live shows, that man breaths the stuff!

Stephen Thompson may very well be the nicest dude I ever met, I mean just a real down to earth regular guy that from the minute he says hello, it's as if you've known each other forever.

I have to say that it was a really great experience to meet these guys who I listen to every week and it makes me happy to no end when you meet people that you admire so much and they prove they deserve the admiration - thanks guys!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Meme: It's Not Unusual

In the case that you do not know this song, you are too young to be reading this blog! LOL! BTW, this is a great clip from the Ed Sullivan, great for so many reasons, all of which you will figure out when you watch it....go ahead, I will wait...

Saturday 9: It's Not Unusual (1965)

  1. In this song, Tom sings that "it's not unusual to go out at any time." Will you be "out and about" this weekend?
    Yes, in fact, I will be appearing in NYC to reunite with colleagues from my last job before I packed up and headed to the Bean Town area. It is not unusual however to find me out and about supporting local music on the weekend.
  2. Before his music career took off, Tom supported himself and his young family by working as a vacuum cleaner salesman. Could the room you're in right now benefit from a thorough cleaning with a vacuum?I am currently amidst project clean the damn house already. Once the snow began to fall this past winter, all 9 feet of it (oh God, I wish I was exaggerating), I didn't lift a finger in the was starting to make me feel horrible. However, I've made quite a dent over the last few days and continue to plug away. Heck, I am even considering paying someone to come in and clean on occasion!
  3. You can purchase a verified Tom Jones autograph on eBay for $299 (or the best offer). When you were growing up, did you collect signatures and sayings from your friends? (Autograph book? Yearbook? Cast?)
    We used to do this thing called a "Slam Book". I don't have total recall but I seem to remember that you would have a friend sign the first page, then on each page (which was folded in some sort of neat way), there would be some sort of question they would answer.
  4. At the height of his popularity, female fans would throw their panties onstage at Tom Jones. Sam can't imagine doing this, and not just because she's not that crazy about Tom Jones. She'd be embarrassed because her underwear drawer could use a serious refresh. If you could choose one new article of clothing to add to your wardrobe today, what would it be?
    Heaven's, I need a bit of an overhaul on the wardrobe. I mean, I have been rocking the bowtie quite well :) The work wardrobe is  not nearly as bad as the casual wardrobe, that needs a total reboot!
  5. "Tom Jones" is also the name of character in a famous 18th century novel. Tell us about a character from a book you wish you were friends with in real life.Mary Catherine, the Au pair in the Michael Bennett series of books by James Patterson. I say this only having read the first two of the currently eight books in the series - thus far, she's still someone I'd love to know.
  6. When this song was popular in March 1965, Sarah Jessica Parker of Sex and the City fame was born. Do you share your birthday with anyone famous?"Egyptian film, TV and theater actress, Sherihan, whose career peaked in the 1980s and 90s"
  7. Also in 1965, when this song was a hit, Americans were riveted by the Gemini space program and children all over the country wanted to be astronauts. Think back to your childhood: When you were in first or second grade, what did you want to be when you grew up?A doctor, or as I expressed it, "a medical doctor." - That did not last long.
  8. Fifty years ago, the most popular headache reliever was aspirin, and you could buy a bottle of 200 tablets for just $1. Do you have any aspirin in your medicine chest right now?
    I do not currently have any aspirin, and just a few nights ago took the last of the Ibuprofen. I do have an ample supply of Acetaminophen.
  9. Random question: You've just entered a public restroom. Would you rather find a paper towel dispenser or hot air hand dryer?
    Hot air had dryer, only because it's not uncommon that the paper towels dispenser is empty and it's thus far never happened that the electricity wasn't working.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R.I.P. Uncle Frank

Here is my Uncle Frank's Obituary, written by my cousin:

Frank P. Tanzi

January 16th, 1934 – April 18th, 2015
Scottsdale, Arizona

Frank Tanzi, a resident of Scottsdale, passed away on April 18th, 2015 at the age of 81. Frank was born in Mola di Bari, Italy on January 16th, 1934. He was born into a large family of 6 brothers and 5 sisters. Frank worked on cargo ships as an electrician and traveled around the world.

In 1964, Frank, his wife and their son, immigrated to Canada. After the birth of his daughter, Frank and his family immigrated to the US and lived in Chicago, Illinois. He worked in construction for 11 years. Frank wanted to live in a warmer climate, so he and his family moved to Scottsdale, Arizona. He worked at Scottsdale Memorial Healthcare as the groundskeeper for 15 years. In his spare time, he soaked up the sun and tended to his garden and fruit trees all year round. He enjoyed traveling to Mexico to get fresh fish and spoke Spanish to the locals. His favorite hobby was making wine, and he enjoyed helping his wife make fresh tomato sauce every year.

Frank was a loving husband and a caring father. He treasured his wife and loved her each day of his life. He loved his son, and they did a lot of activities together. He had a very special bond with his daughter whom he was her mentor and best friend. He was a charming man who had a very good sense of humor and could make everyone laugh. He will be extremely missed by his family and by all who had the pleasure of knowing him. Frank is survived by his wife of 52 years, Rosa; son, Marco Tanzi; daughter, Annalisa Thompson; son-in-law, Christopher Thompson; and grandson, Johnathon Tanzi.

Monday, April 20, 2015

In My Ears 2015 Vol. 6.75: Revisiting A Spotify Playlist

Titled for no particular reason, "Playlist A":

A Little Bit of Progress

I spent a few hours on the phone with Cuzzup last night. It's a tough time as she lost her dad, my uncle Frank and I know first hand what losing a parent feels like - I wish I could be there in person for her, even though I know that nothing I do or say will take away that pain she is feeling right now.

I sort of slept in today - usually it's a 5:30 alarm but I had off for the Patriot's day holiday, so I didn't set the alarm. In fact, when I first woke, I went back under the covers for a little do over and got a tad more z's.

I had failed miserably yesterday in my plan to use Sunday and Monday to clean the house. I did get a little, and I mean a little start on things but this morning, I wanted to do something. I can't say I was overly aggressive about it but in the end, I did get the Laundry Room/Half-Bath and the Fireplace Room cleaned up pretty nice.

Since my kid is away this week, I'm thinking maybe if I can bang out a room or two each day it might be easier to get accomplished than doing a full scale, full house marathon.

I did also get some grading done and other chores, plus watched some television (the DVR isn't going to watch itself).

Unbreakable Enjoyment

I've heard so many good things about the new series "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" that I really wanted to see it. The problem is that it is a Netflix original series, I don't have Netflix and I kind of don't want to have Netflix.

My daughter does have a Netflix account and she is in Italy, so I hijacked her account today and watched the first two episodes....and I fell in love with Ellie Kemper all over again.

Of course the first time I fell for Ellie was when she was on "The Office", here, as Kimmy Schnidt, she is even more awesome.

I am only two episodes in, but I am hooked....great writing, great performing, just really cool stuff so far.

Goofy Angles


Goofy angles, no camera tricks, wacky apps or filters - just really goofy camera placement!

Needed to be silly, so I did what I needed to do :)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Gathering and Loss

Last month I told you about the passing of a granddaughter of a former colleague. Today, a group of us got together for a happy brunch with that former colleague.

It was really nice to get together and have some laughs, even more so after such a devastating loss. 

Just before I was set to leave for this gathering, I got a call from my sister delivering the bad news that my Uncle Frank had passed away. Uncle Frank had been in declining health for some time now but boy was he a fighter.

I just started researching flights to Arizona and nearly had a heart attack. I knew last minute is way more expensive but some of the numbers are ridiculous. Plus, I don't yet know the specific dates of the services - once I do, maybe I cam call some airlines but I will at least have a little more that I can work with; I really want to go out there to be there for my Aunt and Cousin,

Friday, April 17, 2015


Maybe if I write about it, I can break out of it. What, you ask? This funk. What kind of funk, you ask? Well - at the risk of sounding like I am living in a hoarder home, which I am not even remotely close to....I feel horrible about the fact that I haven't really lifted a finger to clean this house since the snowiest winter on record began.

It was easy to make excuses when I had to move snow every ten minutes but now, I find myself procrastinating daily.

I do have a long weekend, and plan to make Sunday and Monday cleaning days - but I really need to follow through.

I am planning to bring in contractors soon, I need to redo the main bathroom in the house and I need to have some repair work done in the master bath.

It's all going to happen...yep!

Check back soon.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

John Mellencamp Show Setlist

Someone posted the setlists from last night's show, so I thought I would share it here:

Opening Act - Carlene Carter

  1. Every Little Thing
  2. Easy From Now On
  3. Little Black Train
  4. Black Jack David
  5. Lonesome Valley 2003
  6. My Dixie Darlin'
  7. Me and The Wildwood Rose
  8. Change
John Mellencamp
  1. Lawless Times
  2. Troubled Man
  3. Minutes to Memories
  4. Small Town
  5. Stones in My Passway
  6. Human Wheels
  7. The Isolation of Mister
  8. Check it Out
  9. Longest Days
  10. Jack and Diane
  11. The Full Catastrophe
  12. Away from This World
  13. Tear this Cabin Down
  14. Violin & Accordion Medley/Rain on the Scarecrow
  15. Paper in Fire
  16. If I Die Sudden
  17. Crumblin' Down
  18. Authority Song/Land of 1000 Dances
  19. Pink Houses
  20. Cherry Bomb

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Outside the Club Cherry Bomb

Just back from seeing John Mellencamp in concert. Last time I saw him life was more than twenty years ago.


  • Carlene Carter opened the show - I had no idea there was an opening act at all and it turned out to be someone I knew and am a fan of.
  • Ended up with better seats than I bought.
  • Mellencamp was great - good mix of old stuff and new stuff.
  • Used Spot Hero to score a parking spot in advance for only $10
Things I Question:
  • Theater did a weird thing blocking off two sections of seats in the balcony - including the section that had the seats I bought.
  • The theater staff had no idea what they were doing and it was a bit chaotic getting everyone seated.
  • John Mellencamp did not do an encore.
He played for about an hour and fifty minutes, then left, then the lights came on. I felt a little cheated - if he had done two and a half hours or more, or did an hour and change and took in intermission then another hour and change...maybe...but no encore? Weird.

Overall -  glad I got the tix, glad I went.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Television Tragedy and the Opposite

The big tragedy is the rapid decline in Mad Men. While I am still invested in the characters themselves, mostly because they are so well played by their actors, the writing on this show has just gone from bad to worse. I wish I could just walk away and forget the series ever existed and that I watched so intently for so long but at this point, with only three or four episodes left, I need to see where the characters end up.

On the positive side of the spectrum, while I went into the idea of a prequel to Breaking Bad with great trepidation; thinking that Vince Gilligan should just leave it be. For me, "Breaking Bad" was the best drama series in the history of television and had a series finale that could be considered nothing short of absolute perfection. As I recently watched the season 1 finale of "Better Call Saul" I must commend Gilligan, Peter Gould and the rest of the writing team along with the actors, especially Bob Odenkirk, who has been brilliant.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Naked and Vulnerable

Yep, that is how I felt once the facial hair was removed and it's odd because I've grown facial hair before and I've shaved it off before, all simply because I am capable of doing so - there really aren't all that many real reasons to do such a thing.

Most of the time in the past when I've had facial hair, it was for, oh I would say at most 3 months or less. This time, I had the thing since last September, and I guess I grew more attached to it that I thought possible. the first think I saw when I saw the face beneath was the amount of weight I had gained since thanksgiving; it's not like I don't feel it every day but it was clear to me looking in that mirror (I feel like I made that sound as if I have fallen into morbid obesity - not the case, just about 15-20 pounds over my sweet spot).

As i mentioned yesterday, I was thinking about a sequel to the "Deconstruction of a Van Dyke" video and I took the liberty of putting that though into action - here's the video:

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Lumberjacking is Hard Work...

...sand what I just did was hardly lumberjacking...but I did use a chainsaw for the first time and did take down some whatever you might call that tweener between a bush and a trees.

Also, why the fuck did my body decide waking up at 6:00am was a good idea? It's freaking Saturday!

I shaved off my beard last night, there'll be pics later, maybe. You may recall that a couple of years ago I made a goofy video called "Deconstruction of a Van Dyke". Here's that video:

I used a different deconstruction path this time, I did take some pics along the way, so maybe it's time for a sequel video.

One thing I am going to do today is get a haircut, but first I need a good scrub in the shower, that lumberjacking had me work up a nice sweat.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Whole Lotta Love

Shot some cell phone video on a whim last week of my friends The Road Dawgs doing Whole Lotta Love. Of course, I took license with the production :) Just having fun!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Contributions to Songwriting

Here's the most recent three songs I had a hand in composing with my fun little songwriting group:

For the traffic song, most of the first verse are my words. I got the idea about the bumper stickers from real life. Actually, I first thought about those horrible stick figures that people have on mini-vans and was thinking about working them into a verse but I hate those stickers so much that I didn't want to bring them into the mix. Then, the bumper sticker idea came to me and I built the reading a book part around that.

I was prepared in advance to contribute to the Girl Scout Cookie Song, here's what I had prepared in advance of the session:

I need me some thin mints
and peanut butter patties
If I don't get some shortbreads
I'm sure gonna be crabby

It's time for Girl Scout cookies
(give me) some Caramel Delites
you can call them Samoas
just bring them to me tonight

I was particularly fond of making reference to both names of the cookie I always refer to as Samoas, but depending on when and where you get them, they are also called Caramel Delites.

I got so caught up in grading my students work that I lost track of time and showed up with around five minutes left in the session; I was happy to work in a line to fit some other lyrics already written.

This was one of my favorites, there was so much collaboration here, it was kind of magical.