Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Calvert DeForest, 1921-2007

Just heard on the news that Calvert DeForest, the guy that played Larry "Bud" Melman on David Letterman's late night shows (you know - back when Dave was actually FUNNY) passed away today after a long illness.

DeForest's old appearances on Late Night used to crack me up. It was obvious that he had no idea what the hell he was talking about half the time, yet could milk laughs out of even the silliest concepts. Who can forget the fake commercials for "Larry 'Bud' Melman's Toast-On-a-Stick", or the nonsensical ones for "Melman Bus Lines".

There was one old Late Night where Dave put "Larry" in the basement of the Port Authority Bus Terminal to greet "travelers" as they arrived in New York City. Of course, only COMMUTERS come in the bottom floor...well, the results are intentionally and unintenrionally hilarious. Watching "Larry" hand out hot towels to weary travelers in Port Authority. Classic.

Another gem was putting "Larry" in a huge bear suit and sending him out in the street to hug people. The results were about what you could expect on the streets of NYC. Every second that ticked by was a potential train wreck waiting to happen.

DeForest's last appearance on Late Show was in 2002 on his 81st birthday.

Little known fact: Calvert's paternal great uncle, Lee DeForest, was a radio pioneer who in 1906 invented the Audion tube, also known as the triode, which made large-scale broadcasting commercially feasible - and for that I will always be eternally grateful.

Rest in peace, funny man. You'll be missed.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Back From The Fest!

Another Beatlefest in in the books, and as is my way - here is the full report!

The basic rundown:

The snow and ice caused many accidents on the roads to Secaucus, so the normal post-work 15-minute bus ride in from Port Authority took almost two hours. From the hotel window, we could spot accident after accident taking place out on the Turnpike. Looks like it was a great night for all those tow-truck drivers making overtime.

The weather made a HUGE dent in the Friday night attendance. It was probably the first time that I've ever seen an open seat in the bar on a Friday night (there was about seven people in there when I poked my head in around 10PM)! Still, the sparse attendance made for a nicer-than-usual commiseration experience with the old friends that did make it.

Attendance was more up to its' usual numbers on Saturday. Bruce Spizer's first slideshow (mainly containing material in his new book) was hindered because some of his audio / video material never made it via FedEx due to the weather! So we missed out on hearing an actual song by The Titans and WWDC playing "I Want To Hold Your Hand" for the first time in the US. Bruce covered up nicely (certainly better than Ashely Simpson would have).

Ran into Billy J. Kramer in the afternoon (he was just hanging around - not an actual guest!), talked baseball with him (of all things), got a picture. I also discovered that while the inclement weather may have cut down on the number of participants in the yearly Beatle-freak show, the intensity of the ones that DID show up were definitely kicked up a notch (bam!). Definitely an interesting side show element this year.

The Smithereens were great in the afternoon (when are they not?) and The Bootlegs had a great crowd (as usual) on the second floor. Saturday night festivitites ran WAY late (Martin Lewis didn't begin his goofy panel discussion until after 1 AM in the morning - when, by the by, Liverpool was STILL playing!!!). The Blue Meanies / Mr. Neutron finally got going around 2AM and good fun was had by all.

Didn't stay around very long on Sunday (I'm STILL suffering from some flu-like symptoms, so I spent more time sleeping than partying this year, and felt a little burned out by early afternoon on Sunday). Lo and behold, here I am back at the ole homestead a few hours later.

Other things of note that were obverved this year - for the first time, probably EVER - the hotel security was extremely Nazi-riffic. There was an increased "beefy rent-a-cop" presence throughout the Crown Plaza, and they were very quick to flash their hotel-supplied rent-a-cop badges and talk tough about people making too much noise (excuse me?) and open bottles (wha?), etc. For the most part, Fest crowds are very diligent about policing themselves, so seeing a lot of heavy-handed, ham-fisted cro-magnons making threats to people that really weren't doing anything out of the "Fest norm" (singing, drinking, etc.), and stomping around like jackasses was a tad disturbing.

Other notes - heavy amounts of ice and snow caused the cover on the lovely outdoor Crown Plaza pool to cave in. A somewhat incoherent Mark ("Cap'n Crayola") Hudson grabbed the mike on the second floor Saturday afternoon while The Bootlegs were on break and made a rambling spectacle of himself. Last but not least, someone made a VERY "intereting", um...shall I say, "phallic" snowman out back some time on Friday night that was easily visible to Saturday morning breakfast diners seated near the lake-facing glass in the hotel restaurant. Looked like someone had slipped Frosty a few Viagra!

See y'all again in 2008!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Beatlefest 2007 Is This Weekend!

Or, you know - The Fest For Beatles Fans, or whatever it is being called this week!

I'm planning to arrive Friday after work, probably around 6PM. Hope to see some of you there!

FLU UPDATE: Believe it or not, still feeling somewhat sick - TWELVE DAYS after feeling the initial signs of illness coming on. Hopefully more of that will clear out by the weekend!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Pete's Influenza Diary

It was exactly one week ago today that I first started to feel the effects of The Flu. Little did I know then that it WAS "The Flu". Boy, would I be sad to learn that this year's Flu is the Nuclear Flu.

It's the Flu on Steroids.

For those of you who may think you are coming down with The Flu, here's what you have to look forward to...

Friday, March 2: This is the first inkling I have that something is wrong. I drag all day and collapse in a heap before 8PM.

Saturday, March 3: I wake up feeling OK, assuming that I was merely tired the night before. Mon and I go to breakfast, hit the Stop & Shop, pick up something for lunch and head home. Between the hours of 3PM and 9PM, it becomes apparent that something is very, VERY wrong. My temperature shoots up. My nose closes up. My head starts to feel like it's in a vise.

Sunday, March 4: I wake up feeling like something cats play with after they've killed it. I can barely get out of bed without feeling like I've run the NYC Marathon. The concept of eating anything is nauseating to me.

Monday, March 5: Called in sick. No energy. Fluctuating between feeling like I am on fire and chattering with the chills. I manage to get some soup down, but that's about it. Nighttime brings massive chills. No matter what I do, I can't get warm. Hobbes throws himself on top of me and I manage to get a few hours of restless sleep.

Tuesday, March 6: Still at home. Chills still an issue, can't breath, throat is killing me, can't stop coughing. No appetite. Headache is debilitating. Can't move because head is pounding. This is how the entire day goes.

Wednesday, March 7: Feeling only slightly better. Some of my appetite is back, choke down some soup. Blow through an 80-pack of cough drops in about four hours. Knocked off my THIRD bottle of Robitussin.

Thursday, March 8: STILL out of work. Finally able to handle some solid food. Temperature is normal for the first time since Saturday morning. Despite all this, my throat is still like razor blades and energy level is zilch.

Today, March 9: Went back to work...big mistake. By midday I feel like I've been hit by a bus. Get some backed-up work done and hit the road as soon as possible.

And here I am, seven days later. Still feel like Hell. Temperature has normalized, but the cough is killing me. Chest aches. Tired. Going to bed.

I wonder how long it will be until I feel normal again...?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Sick...and Getting Sicker

Hey Gang,

Sorry to report that I seem to have been bitten by the flu bug, and have been feeling worse by the minute all day (although it really seems to be intesifying this evening...I feel like I've been hit by a steel truck).

Therefore, I probably won't have the Podcast up tomorrow that I wanted to post, but hope to get it done some time next week.

Well - back under the blanket wit a hot tea and a cat or two.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Life Is Funny

There are people who will say that "life is funny" without really knowing what it means.

I don't mean "funny, ha-ha" - I mean, "funny, like a kick in the balls" funny. When you are young, you have this idea in your head of how you want your life to turn out. Then, one day you wake up and realize you are still going around and around in the same cul-de-sac of frustration you were in ten, fifteen years ago.

The funny part is that life will throw you a bone every once in a while, and you think "Ah, finally - things are starting to turn around the way I always expected they would". But - those feelings are often short-lived; plans get squashed; things get ruined; and you find yourself back in the same spiral, watching sands pass through the hourglass and days get ripped off the calendar one by one, month by month...and your dreams and blueprints that you drew out for yourself the aforementioned ten, fifteen years ago - are not even CLOSE to coming to fruition. If anything, they are even further away than ever.

Like it or not, things WILL conspire against the blueprints you draw out for yourself, knowingly or accidentally. But in the end, the biggest enemy is yourself - because you know you could have done things differently, but you chose the path of least resistance at every turn rather than fighting the good fight because you just didn't have the stomach to fight.

You can look around one day, and in the blink of an eye you can feel the walls closing in on you - or, feel the foundations you built around you being dismantled with the cruel, clinical precision of an undertaker - brick by painful brick. Before you know it, the foundation is gone, and the ever-closing walls - will snuff out the dreams like a tsunami on a single candle.

It's at that point when you reach your nadir. How to get back to where you expect - no, demand to be - seems like a distant, darkened light at the end of an endless tunnel (that you have no clue how to navigate).

Thank goodness that at the end of the day, there is AT LEAST an iced tea and a cat on your lap to look forward to.