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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Cro Magnon Man

Yaaaaaawwwwwwnnnnn

Cro Magnon Man tired. Not get good sleep. Maybe need more rocks in pillow. Oh well. Time get dressed.

Arrrrrrrrrrr!!!!

Where all Cro Magnon's undershirts?! Only one left, with holes! Cro Magnon think teenage sons took shirts! What boys do with Cro Magnon underwear? Make tent?

Teenagers!

Sometimes, Cro Magnon think Dinosaur neighbor have right idea. Eat them when still young. And why Cro Magnon have only one sock? Cro Magnon walk erect on two feet! Send two socks down laundry chute. Why only one come back??

Growwwwllll.....Time to drag knuckles down stairs and make sandwich for lunch.

Roooooaaaaarrrrr!!!!!

What happen to tuna salad Cro Magnon make last night??? Young cave kids eating all Cro Magnon food!! Now Cro Magnon have to take club and smash open can of tuna and mix with mayonaisse...

But then Cro Magnon get vegetable oil all over fingers. Hard to wash off. Then have "fishy" smell all day.

Maybe Cro Magnon eat Kit Kat for lunch.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Music Stuff

The next gig for the band is at the Young Israel of West Rogers Park Melaveh Malkah, this coming Saturday Night.

If for some reason you can't be there, please enjoy the videos of the last Shlock Rock show, now posted here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

What Happens in the Blogosphere Stays in the Blogosphere

I'm going to apologize in advance to the 99.9% of my readers who will have absolutely no idea what I am writing about.

Almost a year ago, I wrote this post. The need to write it came from a few episodes where people I knew found my blog, or a post or two, and took something I wrote out of context, and got in a huff about it. I'm sure all of you know this, but things that are written on blogs tend to get very high search engine rankings. That's because blogs are updated frequently. So it's not uncommon for someone to google the name of their 3rd grade teacher and suddenly find the one time that you mentioned her name in the 400 posts that you wrote. The time that you wrote that she was boring and wore a funny-looking wig.

Now, the point of your blog is obviously not to make fun of this teacher. You didn't create an entire internet site and post on a daily basis and read and respond to comments for a year for the sole purpose of insulting Mrs. Fishface. In fact, your blog is mostly about something completely different, like your digestive problems and the humorous situations you find yourself in when you pass gas and try to pretend your co-worker did it. But it just so happened that one morning in early 2005 you woke up after a truly bizarre dream in which Mrs. Fishface was trying turn you into a strawberry blancmange by reading to you from her Russian-language version of War and Peace. And in a sudden burst of inspiration, you decided to type the whole thing up as an incredibly amusing blog post, to the accolades of the 8 or so people who were reading it at the time.

And you didn't give it a second thought until you got that nasty email from Mrs. Fishface's grandson, who had your post forwarded to him by the compulsive googler, and who thinks on the whole you are a repugnant turd for making fun of his (now deceased) beloved grandmother. And that threw you so completely that in a fit of misplaced remorse you deleted the entire blog (which by the way is still stored in Google's cache) and unplugged the computer.

So I'm here to tell you that it's not your fault. You didn't plan to write something bad about an old lady with a cheap wig and then send it to her grandson for laughs. You planned to write something funny about an old lady with a cheap wig and tell it to 7 or 8 total strangers of your closest virtual friends for laughs. Because you think your blog is your personal little site. And that only your friends would bother to read it. And that the chances of anyone in this huge world who knows either you or anyone you mention on your little blog actually stumbling randomly across this site and finding what you wrote are so remote that you feel totally free to be at ease and write whatever you want.

OK so it's a little your fault. Because you were naive about the nature of the internet and Google. So this has been a little lesson for you. And now you know that people are eavesdropping on your little non-private chats with your virtual friends. And you're starting to wonder who else is out there reading you. And what they are telling people about you. And maybe you're thinking that you will restart your blog, but you'll be totally anonymous this time. And you won't talk about real people or real situations. Or real issues. And that would be a shame. Because your blog is about to become extremely boring. And if that's the case, don't bother restarting.

I think you should take a good look at that lurker who nabbed your funny post and had the poor judgment to send it to that grief-stricken grandson. Because when you wrote your post, you just wanted to share a funny story with some friends. But I wonder what his purpose was?

Happy Thanksgiving

I wrote about Toikey Day last year. My opinion hasn't changed.

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Righteous Gentile

I received an email from my cousin in Israel today. She was glad to inform me that Mrs. Stanislawa Cicha, the Polish woman who had saved both our mothers' lives, will be recognized as a Righteous Gentile by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

It's unbelievable how much courage this woman had. In a world where even the accusation of hiding Jews could be a death sentence, she went out and found food for over a dozen people on a daily basis for over a year. I wonder how many of us would do that?

If it weren't for her, I wouldn't be here.

In related news, apparently the Museum in Jaworzno, Poland, has an exhibit about the Jews of Jaworzno (they were wiped out during the Holocaust), and there is a picture of my Great-Grandfather's store on display:



I am attempting to contact the museum for more information. Another view of the building is here.

Yes!

I have finally acheived the mythical Trifecta:

I now have a wife who:

1. Can cook up a storm

2. Is an aerobics instructor

3. Is hooked on Playstation 2

Don't hate me, all you other jealous slacker husbands; I've been working on this woman for twenty years.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Yo Yo Yo

It's nice to be important, but it's important to be a mench. More on that later...

You may recall that I played a Shlock Rock concert last night. Well, you're in luck, because my nine-year-old daughter Iguana videotaped most of it for me! The camera work is a little shaky and there's a lot of fast zooming in an out. So it looks about on par with your average network reality show. But more importantly, the bass came out nice and clear. The Moshe Skier Band provided backup, and the show was tight.

Here's the first clip (don't worry, I'm not uploading the entire show). This is a rap song called Yo Yo Yo Yarmulke, from an album called Lenny and the Shlockers. 1990 I think. It's being performed here by Etan G. Etan joined the band after I left. I've performed with him over the years, but I can't say that I've ever had a chance to get to know him. He's one of those guys who seems to have an excess of personality. He's always on. He isn't someone who is like all "Yo wass up my homies, y'all are sooo fly!" on stage, and then all "I say, do you have any Evian water? That loquacious dialect has dehydrated my oral apparatus." Nope. It's all Etan, all the time.

Some people can groove wit dat, and some get put off by it. I think I was probably in the latter group for a while (yes, Etan, I'm an uptight White guy). But I need to give some props to my man Etan. He is a mench. If you've read Psychotoddler for a while, you know that is my highest form of praise. Why do I say that he is a mench? I'm sure people who know him better can come up with many reasons. I just know what I see. And what I see is beneath all the jive from the 'hood is a guy who cares. He cares about his family, he cares about his people, he cares about Jewish kids, and yes, he even cares about Lenny Solomon.

I don't know if he cares about me. But I do know that I've played with many, many musicians over the years, and he is one of the only people who has ever lifted a finger to help me with the most important part of the gig: The Shlepping. G-d how I HATE shlepping. Lifting and hoisting and carrying. Up the stairs. Through the house. Out to the van. Into the van. Out of the van. Into the building. Up to the stage. Then break it down again afterwards. Speakers and guitars and amps and poles and cords and junction boxes and music stands...listen, after a long gig, the last thing I want to be doing is carrying all that stuff down into the basement at 1 am. But usually I do it anyway. Sometimes with my kids. But often alone.

But Etan was there for me. After hopping his little butt around the stage for an hour and a half, he started winding up the cords, pulling down the speakers, and yes, he shlepped it all downstairs with me. Etan, you are a mench.

OK, back to Yo Yo Yo Yarmulke. I'm posting this one for two reasons.

1. Etan has a (rather lengthy) story in the middle that oddly enough echoes a sentiment that I've expressed here several times. When you wear the Yarmulke, you represent the Jewish people, and that puts a special obligation on you to behave.

2. Did I mention the band was tight. Ouch!

Yo Yo Yo Yarmulke - Shlock Rock with The Moshe Skier Band

In the Land of the One-Syllable Names...

In the land of the one-syllable names, the two-syllable name is king. The land I came from, Queens, is a two-syllable land. Steven. David. Michael. Bar-bra (or Bah-bruh). Rachel. Heck, I have a one-syllable name, and my mother lengthened it to Markie. There are even a few three-syllable names like Jonathan. And let’s not talk about the old girlfriend who called me Markipoo.

Now I live in the Midwest, where a two-syllable name just seems like a lot of work. So everything is shortened. Pat. Deb. Mike. Jeff. Sue. Al. Some of these names seem to stop so suddenly that I almost feel like I’m tripping over them. Barb.

Unfortunately, now that I’m in a global “blogging” community, I’m coming in contact with people with ostensibly two- or more syllable names, and I’m not sure what to call them. Al or Alfred? Susan or Sue? Deb or Debbie? Glenn or Glenda?

Some of you two-syllable people get mighty offended if your names are contracted without your permission. I’m looking at you, David. And you as well, Mike. Or should I say “Michael”. Quit snickering, Steven! Er, Stephen.

So, if it won’t blow your cover, pipe in and tell me how you prefer to be addressed.

Friday, November 11, 2005

You Reap What You Sow

From the AP (emphasis mine):

Palestinians mourn: In the Palestinian village of Silet Al-Thaher in the West Bank, the Akhras clan mourned 17 relatives killed by one of the suicide bombers in Jordan - the first time Palestinians have been a target in a suicide attack.

"Oh my God, oh my God. Is it possible that Arabs are killing Arabs, Muslims killing Muslims?" asked a weeping Najah Akhras, 35, who lost two nieces.

Similar thoughts were heard over and over in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Thursday, as Palestinians expressed outrage over attacks aimed at civilians.


It's about friggen time.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Don't Eat That Microphone!


Photos by Gregory Titievsky

I'm trying to come up with a funnier caption for this poster:

Say it lode: I'm Black and I'm prode!

I'm radioactive!

Whatever.

Come see the band in Madison on November 19th!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Fudge Live on the Radio!

Don't forget to tune in to Fudge's first live radio broadcast at WYUR!

This Thursday, November 10th, at 7pm EDT (6pm in Milwaukee/Chicago, 4pm on the Left Coast)!

The show is called The Isle of Manhattan, and you can stream it on your computer.

The Story of Boba

Attention travelers on Midwest Airline flight number 1 to New York: We are experiencing weather-related delays. Departure has been pushed back 90 minutes. We apologize for the inconveniece.

I'd better call Mom. She'll be worried.

busybusybusybusybusybusybusybusybusybusy.......

Meanwhile, back in "Little Poland"...

Ruzia?

Boba?

Did you look outside?

No.

You didn't look outside?

Why should I look outside?

You didn't even go out on the porch?

Why should I go out on the porch?

What's wrong with you??

I never go out on the porch!

Your son is flying in from Milwaukee, and you don't even go out on the porch?? What kind of mother are you?

He's still in Milwaukee. Why should I go out on the porch now?

Don't you see the weather?

I saw the news. It's nice today.

Are you CRAZY?? You don't go out on the porch?? Go out there RIGHT NOW!!

Footsteps. Open door. Close door. Footsteps.

Did you go out on the porch?

Yes. There is fog.

FOG!! Don't you want to know that? There is fog and your son is flying in from Milwaukee.

So?

So? SO? So they'll NEVER let him land in New York. Your son is on his way to Philadelphia, and you didn't even go out on the porch!

He's going to Philadelphia? Why would he go to Philadelphia?

He's going to Philadelphia because they will divert the plane. They will NEVER let him land in New York!!

He would call me if he was going to Philadelphia. Why hasn't he called me?

Some time later...

Mom? I've been trying to call you but your line has been busy. My flight was delayed, but we're leaving in ten minutes.

Thank G-d! Do you know what Boba did to me? (see above, tells the whole story)

OK I'll see you in a few hours.

Later, on the porch...

Markie!

Hi Mom (smoooooch)

Come inside, I just have to put on makeup. That Boba is making me crazy. Do you know what she did to me?

Yes, you just told me.

No, not that. The other thing. She called me up last week to tell me she has an appointment with the wrist doctor, but she's afraid to drive there by herself--

You have wrist doctors in New York?

--so I of course volunteered to drive her myself.

Of course.

But then, she made a little mistake. She told me that she also has an appointment with the foot doctor and she is driving herself there.

A-ha!

You see? So if she can drive herself to the foot doctor, why can't she drive herself to the wrist doctor?

It's one of the great mysteries of life.

Do you know what the lesson is?

Don't offer to drive Boba anywhere?

If you're going to be a liar, you'd better have a good memory.

I'll never remember that.

I survived Hitler, because I remembered which lies I was telling, in the convent and with the Gestapo...

I would be dead for sure.

Later, at the hospital...

Lester, look who's here, your son. Mark.

Heddo Mawk...

Do you know what Boba did to me? You won't believe it (see above)

About an hour later...

Look, Markie, your sister is here with her kids.

Oh, that's who they are!

Kids give your uncle Mark a kiss. Do you know what Boba did to me today? (see above)

Another hour later...

Look, Markie, your other sister is here. Kids make room! Rachiele, do you know what your Aunt Boba did to me today? I think she's a little crazy (see above)



Many hours later, at a posh Upper West Side Pan-Asian Kosher restaurant...

Perele, it's so nice to see you! Your hair looks beautiful. Beautiful. Did I tell you about what Aunt Boba did to me today...

Abba, I think this would make a good blog. Can you remember the whole thing?

Maybe if I hear it a few more times...

Monday, November 07, 2005

I'm Back Alive!

(Take the title any way you prefer.)

The trip to New York was grueling. And it hasn't been much better since I got back to Wisconsin, but hopefully things will slow down a little over the next few days.

I guess it's been a while since I last flew. Although there is still within me the six year old boy, excited about flying through the air on a big airplane, face plastered up against the window staring down as the buildings and cars and farms and lakes get smaller and smaller, the industry has been working hard to take that joy away from me. At about the time that I was standing in yet another line, my ticket and driver's license in my teeth, my wallet and PDA in one hand, my cell phone in another, my beeper in another, taking off my belt and simultaneously holding up my pants with another hand, and holding both shoes with my last hand (I counted six hands there), I decided that flying was no longer much fun.

Of course I went to see my Dad. Veni, Vidi, Vici. I came, I saw, I got pissed off. I can't blame any one person. The whole system stinks. The hospital is sorely understaffed and many people seem to suffer from the "it's not my problem" syndrome. There were a few people I came across who were exceptions, like the physicians assistant who, although she was just covering, took time out to go through the chart with me and write some much needed orders (like for my father to be taken out of bed for the first time in ten days), but even they were in over their heads and readily acknowledged that they would like to be helping more, but they can't be in ten places at once.

Once again, I'm glad I don't have to practice medicine there. Anyway, after that I got in my rented Dodge Neon (a sweet little car) and took my Mom into Manhattan to pick up Fudge. Only I didn't realize it was the day of the New York Marathon. Various streets were closed or diverted, and no dose of Benicar was able to keep my blood pressure in check. The restaurant was good and deserves a post of its own. Although my mom found some curious similarities between the hospital and the restaurant that made her laugh out loud. Several times. Well, it's good she can laugh about it.

Anyway, I'm glad I went. Seeing the situation really helped. My Dad's main problem is that although his mind works well, it is disconnected from the world around him by failing vision, poor hearing, and a body that doesn't work too well. No wonder he's depressed.

I think I was angry with him before this trip. Why doesn't he try more? Why is he just sitting there? Why doesn't he look at his grandkids and talk to them? Why won't he stay awake? Sitting with him in the hospital, I began to ask myself what I would do in his situation. I'm developing more of an empathy with him. I think my anger with him was partially a fear for my own future. I don't want to see myself in that bed in 40 years. What can I do, now, to get myself off that path? And is it too late to turn him around?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Shlock Rock in Milwaukee

Me and Moe in Chicago, 1992

I'm working on putting together a Shlock Rock concert in Milwaukee on Monday, November 14th. The Moshe Skier Band will be backing up Lenny Solomon. I hope any of you who are within travelling distance can make the show. The money raised will benefit one of our local schools.

I'll update this as more information becomes available.

UPDATE: The show is on! Details about where and when and what time and how much are on my website. I hope that those of you in the Milwaukee/Chicago/Madison area can attend. It will be fun.

Also, I found this at Lenny's website.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

THE BEST

I’m heading off to New York on Sunday to visit my Dad. He’s been deteriorating and I have felt powerless to do much about it until just before the Holidays. My mother got him into a Nursing Home Subacute Rehab Facility at my insistence and he started to eat better and they were getting him out of bed and doing therapy with him. So naturally he hates it there. But he hasn’t spent much time there because he’s been hospitalized twice since he was admitted. I don’t think this is any reflection on the care he received at the Subacute. Rather, I think he probably needed to be hospitalized all along but either my Mom or his former physician didn’t realize this.

I’ve been meaning to write about the value of THE BEST™. It seems New Yorkers, or maybe just New York Jews are obsessed with THE BEST™ (TB). “Who is the doctor? Is he THE BEST?” “He’s in THAT hospital?? That’s not THE BEST!! You have to transfer him!” I’m still trying to figure out how someone gets labeled as TB. I recall a visit to NY a few years back where my sister dragged me along with her son to the pediatrician so that I could meet him. “He’s THE BEST™,” she gushed as we waited, for a while, in the closet-sized examining room. When he did come in, he never made eye contact me, never gave my sister an opportunity to introduce her BROTHER, THE DOCTOR™, and grunted a few things at my nephew and handed her a prescription. On his way out the door, she blurted out a brief introduction, and he looked at me and blinked, I think, then exited the room.

When I told my sister I wasn’t too impressed, she was dumbstruck. “But he’s THE BEST™!” If he’s the best you got, I could make a killing there. Same story with my Dad. My mother and sisters had insisted his docs were TB, but again, I was not impressed. After multiple long distance discussions with them concerning doctors, Nursing Homes, Medicare HMOs (oy), Geriatricians, and HOW I DO THINGS™, we got him into the NH where things are starting to sort themselves out. But I guess the doctors there aren’t TB.

Well, I’ve had an opportunity to appraise the care he’s gotten from TB and Not TB, because of the two different hospitals and the two sets of doctors. And I have to say that I’m more impressed with the NTBs than the TBs. The NTBs call me back, in fact even gave me their cell phone numbers, discuss his care at length with me and also my Mom (G-d bless them, that can’t be easy), and see him frequently. The TB never responded to phone calls or a fairly succinct typed letter that I faxed to his office prior to the hospitalization where I explained my concern that, I don’t know, I THINK MY DAD NEEDS TO BE HOSPITALIZED. I got a call from a “nurse” two days later with a very half-hearted plan to address this. So I have not been too upset that his care transferred to the NTB when he went to the NH.

However, despite all of the above, I have to say that I still think he would be getting much better care if he were here in Wisconsin with me. And it’s not just because of HOW I DO THINGS™. I think that the doctors I work with provide better all-around care. Maybe we’re not as overworked as the New Yorkers. Maybe we have more time to sit and look at a patient and recognize things that are obvious and maybe not so obvious. Whatever. It matters not, because they won’t even consider relocating here.

So yes, it’s been frustrating to me as the family doctor to be running the show from 900 miles away, dealing with TB doctors who won’t give me the courtesy of a return call, playing the heavy to my sisters who insist on transferring him to TB hospital (where they don’t allow visitors before 2pm and apparently don’t feed my Dad or get him out of bed), and trying to reassure my Mom that she’s doing the right thing by putting him in the NH. That’s why I’m going out there Sunday to eyeball the situation and spend time with my Dad.

Afterwards, I plan to take my Mom and drive to Manhattan to pick up Fudge and go out to eat at a nice restaurant. And then hop a flight back to Civilization. Maybe we’re not THE BEST™ out here. But we get the job done.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Even More Conversations With the Criminally Insane

The PT: Abba, look at the trees! The leaves are all yellow!

Abba: That's right, because what season is it?

The PT: I don't know.

The PT: Just Kidding!

Abba: ...so what season is it?

The PT: I forgot.

---

Haircut Lady: You have a lot of brothers and sisters! It must be very busy at your house.

The PT: Yeah...

Haircut Lady: So do you help out and do any chores?

The PT: No! I just watch TV all day.

---

The PT: Mommy.

Mrs. B: What.

The PT: I'm hungry again.

Mrs. B: How 'bout a banana.

The PT: How 'bout Pringles.

Mrs. B: How 'bout a banana.


---

The PT: Mommy.

Mrs. B: What.

The PT: I finished the banana.

Mrs. B: You only ate half.

The PT: But I'm full of it. I'm going to frow it out.

Abba: Why don't you put it on the table, for when you get hungry again.

The PT: BUT I'M FULL!! I'm putting it in the garbage.

---

The PT: Mommy.

Mrs. B: What.

The PT: I'm hungry again.