The Twilight Zone


Does the man in the picture ( see above) look familiar? Rod Serling was responsible for The Twilight Zone television seriesHe wrote more than half of the series’ 156 episodes.  How many of the 156 have you seen?  From the late 1950s to 1964, the program was on television.  Now, at least where I live, you can watch a Twilight Zone marathon (maybe as long as a few days) during a holiday season.  Every story begins with the above words to set the mood and generate excitement and a feeling of familiarity.  You know you are about to see some old (television) friends again.

Some of the Zone’s most familiar stories could include the following.  The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street shows you a typical street somewhere in America.  Most of the inhabitants are familiar to each other, but not all. When unusual events are added to the atmosphere, some residents wonder if monsters (from outer space?)  are invading their neighborhood.  They are not, as the show’s ending tells the viewer, because “the world is full of Maple Streets.”

Perhaps To Serve Man triggers your memory.  In this episode, aliens actually arrive on Earth.  They promise peace and scientific advances that will benefit mankind.  As humans enter the visitors’ space craft for a visit to their planet, a linguist realizes a book of the visitors is actually a cookbook.  But it’s too late.

Everyone must remember Nightmare at 20,000 Feet starring a young James T., eh, excuse me, a young William Shatner as a man recovering from a nervous breakdown who is boarding a plane.  Once seated and aloft, only  Kirk, eh, excuse me again, Mr. Shatner can see a monster tearing apart the plane’s wing. Our hero suffers a relapse and is taken off the plane on a stretcher while mechanics are puzzled to explain a torn wing and engine damage.

The Invaders is a silent story about a woman who cannot, or does not, speak and her investigation of a continuing noise on her roof. Eventually, she attacks the small space suited beings causing the noise that emerge from their craft as the story ends. Their craft has, on its hull, the letters: U S A.



And if you want to see (again) my favorite story, look for Time Enough at Laststarring Burgess Meredith (see above).  He plays a bank clerk whose thick glasses would rather gaze upon the great books of literature rather than irritating customers and his nagging wife.  During his lunch hour, spent in the bank’s vault for silence in which he can read, a nuclear attack wipes out all other human beings.  Upon emerging, he finds a library’s books which he can read because he finally has, well, you know.  Unfortunately, he drops something (see below)and his future plans are gone.



What was your favorite Twilight Zone story?













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Good Deeds #4



(The first 2 paragraphs of this article are the same as the first two paragraphs of Good Deeds #3) New Yorkers live in a unique environment.  It is a sports capital, a cultural  hub, and a media center.  It has its difficulties, too, but to those who love it, they will live only there. Even if it’s a high-priced, small studio apartment.  For me, if I could afford an apartment overlooking Central  Park  ( see above; an older couple goes for a walk in Central Park), I’d live there, too.  (See my article, “The Park,” August 30, 2016)

I wrote 2 articles entitled “Good Deeds, Parts 1 + 2” on July 8thand 14th, 2017. As I mentioned then, present and former New Yorkers use the “Metropolitan Diary” portion of the New York Times as a place to share some of their important moments with the newspaper and its readers.  Here are 3 more letters that have been published there.


Somebody to Lean On by Lila Bader

I was at the intersection of 88thStreet and Madison Avenue one evening in May.  I had the light and was starting to cross when a cab came around the corner and hit me.

I was lying in the street, in significant pain and unable to get up.  Everyone in the small crowd gathered around me appeared to be calling 911.

The ambulance took longer than expected to arrive.  A woman crouched down near me.

“I’d like to sit cross-legged behind you and have you put your head on my lap,” she said quietly.

And then she did just that. I rested on her lap until the ambulance finally got there.  I asked her name.

“Laura,” she said.

Laura, I’ve thought of you many times since that night.  Know that my displaced, fractured hip was more tolerable because of your kindness, and I’ll never forget it.


My Mother-in-Law’s Mink by Mikki Shaw

I had spent a cold, gray Friday afternoon helping to sort and pack up my mother-in law’s clothes.  She had two fur coats, and I took them because I didn’t know what else to do.

 On the way home, we stopped for a hot dog at Nathan’s.  (It’s my fast food weakness.)

“Is it cold out?”  the young woman at the register asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“I have to take a bus when I get out at 11,” she said, “and all I brought was a sweater.”

I went out to the car, got one of the minks, came back inside and gave it to her.


Parking Lesson by Ray Furlong

 I pulled onto West 130thStreet between Lenox and Fifth Avenues looking for a parking spot. I noticed one between two cars.  I knew there wasn’t a fire hydrant there.

Getting into the spot would have been a tight squeeze, but nothing I couldn’t handle.  Luckily, though, I saw that there was a man sitting in the Jeep parked in front of the empty space.  He had easily half a car’s length ahead of him that he could move up into. I figured I would ask if he would mind making my job easier.

Pulling alongside the Jeep, I saw that the man was leaning back in his seat.  His window was already down.  I rolled down my front passenger side window.

“Hi, excuse me.”  I said, “Would you mind puling up a bit so I could squeeze in behind you?”

No response.

“Excuse me, sir?”

This time, he answered.

“Can’t you see I’m busy?”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I just wanted to ask if you could move up a tad, maybe three feet.”

“I heard what you said,” he said.  “I’ll move up two feet, and learn how to park.”

Now I was annoyed.

He pulled the Jeep up, and I backed into the empty spot easily.  Turning off the ignition, I decided to ask the man if he would evaluate my parking job.  After all, he had said I needed to learn.

As I approached the Jeep, the man was reaching out the window with his hand open.  Almost magnetically, my hand was drawn into his.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m on the phone with the funeral home. My Father just passed.  Please, go easy on me.”

It doesn’t take much to set us off  when we’re surrounded by millions of people, especially in the heat.  So go easy on each other.

















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Good Deeds #3


New Yorkers live in a unique environment.  It is a sports capital, a cultural hub, and a media center.  It has its difficulties, too, but to those who love it, they will live only there.  Even if it’s a high-priced, small studio apartment.  For me, if I could afford an apartment overlooking Central Park (see above), I’d live there, too.   (See my article, “The Park”, August 30, 2016)

I wrote 2 articles entitled “Good Deeds, Parts 1 + 2” on July 8thand 14th, 2017. As I mentioned then, present and former New Yorkers use the “Metropolitan Diary” portion of the New York Times as a place to share some of their important moments with the newspaper and its readers.  Here are 3 more letters that have been published there.


Beneath a Baby Grand by Stacey Lender

I was strolling through Washington Square Park on a sunny Saturday afternoon, and I stopped to join a crowd of people listening to a man who plays classical music there on his baby grand piano.

At the end of the piece, he asked if anyone would like to lie underneath the piano for his next song. No one stepped up, so I figured, why not?

I rested my head near his feet and stretched my legs out toward the long end of the piano, staring up at the  instrument’s wooden underbelly.  For the next five minutes, I closed my eyes and let the sounds of “Clair de Lune” envelop me.

“How was it?” he asked when I stood up.

“It was like the greatest M. R. I. I’ve ever had,” I replied.


Soft Landing byConstance Vidor

After I learned about the terrible ways that plastic bags can affect the environment, I began to carry three sturdy, reusable plastic bags for shopping in my backpack everywhere I went.

One day when I was out, a bicycle rider knocked me over on the sidewalk.  Time stopped as I watched my feet fly up over my head.  I had visions of walkers, pain pills, crutches, a wheelchair.

Then, poof, I landed on my plastic-bag-filled backpack.  No broken hip, no fractured spine.

Do your bit for the environment, and the world will love you back.


On Broadway, Near LaSalleby James White

It happened on a Sunday evening.  My girlfriend and I were heading up Broadway near LaSalle Street when we noticed a delivery man with a scooter standing near the curb and looking down into a storm drain.

His mouth was open as if in disbelief or perhaps worry that his deliveries were late and getting cold.

I approached him, and found out that his key ring had fallen down the drain.  Despite a language barrier –I learned later that he was from Burkina Faso—we were on the same page.  We shined the flashlights on our cellphones through the grate and spotted the keys near the rim of a pipe.

I headed for my apartment, which wasn’t far away, to get a wire hanger.  My girlfriend stayed behind.

A lot went on while I was away.  One man stopped and spoke to the delivery man in French before positioning his car to keep other drivers away.  A second man arrived on a bike and took out a high-powered flashlight.  Then another delivery man pulled up on a scooter. Finally, a cab stopped and a woman got out.  She asked in Spanish what was happening.  She also wanted to help.

When I returned, we all crouched down around the drain  under the high-powered light.

I bent the hanger into a more helpful length and lowered it through the grate.  Carefully, I hooked the key ring.

By this point, a small crowd had gathered on the sidewalk.  When the brassy shine of the key ring emerged from the grate, cheers echoed across the block.

Then we all said our goodbyes.  It was getting late, and we had somewhere to go.








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Gromit Never Speaks

W + G

As I began to write this article, it dawned on me that readers may not know who Wallace and Gromit are.  Oh dear. How is that possible?  They have appeared in a full-length film and 4 shorts (approximately 30 minutes each) from 1989 to 2008.  They are the product of Nick Park who created these British clay animation figures.  (See above) Wallace is an inventor and Gromit is his friend/pet dog.  Their film adventures are funny, unique, and have received (Academy Awards’) nominations and awards.



Their first effort was “A Grand Day Out.”  The short film followed Wallace and Gromit as they attempted to prove what everyone believes is true: the moon is made of cheese.  Wallace, with assistance from the always capable Gromit, builds a space ship and they fly to the moon.  Once there, they quickly find out, as they walk on the moon’s surface, that “yes, indeed”, the moon is created of their favorite snack: cheese.  (see above) 

In each film adventure, it is very evident that Wallace depends on Gromit to create inventions and succeed in his adventures.  For example, in their film, “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit “, they discover that such a creature does indeed exist and threatens the giant vegetable crop everyone depends upon.  Can Wallace and Gromit find and stop the destruction caused by such a mean creature. (What would be your guess?)

You will notice that Gromit never speaks.  His behavior is always appropriate and helpful to his friend, Wallace, but he never verbalizes his thoughts.  Why not? The reason is simple: he has no mouth. And no eyebrows either.  But his emotional range is not affected by his silence. His facial expressions and body language convey his every emotion.  His lack of speech does not limit his communication or take away from his sense of humor or his ability to assist his friend, or limit his ability to entertain you. (see below)



If you have never seen any of the work by Wallace and Gromit, please catch them whenever and wherever you can.  They will always provide you with laughter and an enjoyable adventure.














W + G

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Paul Simon’s Finest


In 2007, Paul Simon was the first winner of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.


I heard of Simon and Garfunkel when I was in college.  Their first hit was “The Sounds of Silence” which arrived in 1965-6.  In time, they split up and Simon became an outstanding singer-songwriter with a large repertoire, collection of hits, and variety of musical styles.  I chose to write about my 16 favorite songs of his (some with Art Garfunkel) and stumbled upon the technique of “bracketology” to evaluate almost any group of things (eg, songs, teams, favorite vacations, etc.) after reading the book “The Final Four of Everything,”  edited by Mark Reiter and Richard Sandomir.  My “best 16” is only my opinion.  You may wish to use the technique to rank your  best of Simon’s work –or anything else.  (Hey, if its good enough to evaluate the “64” best college basketball teams every year, we can use the idea to find out our best of anything.  For example, what is your favorite flavor of ice cream?)


I’ll start with these 8 combinations of songs.  I’m saving time by shortening this article from 64 to 32 to 16 songs.

The Sounds of Silence OR American Tune:  The “Tune” is better than “Silence.”  The first hit loses to a later favorite of mine (covered by Willie Nelson).

Born at the Right Time OR Still Crazy After All These Years:  “Crazy” beats the “Right Time.”  An “old lover” returns –and wins.

Slip Slidin’ Away OR Homeward Bound:  “Slip” slides to a close decision while bound for home.

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover OR Late in the Evening:  Apparently, THE best time to leave your lover is “Late in the Evening.”

Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes OR The Obvious Child:  Are “Diamonds” more valuable than an “Obvious Child?”  Only when comparing these 2 songs.

You Can Call Me Al OR The Boxer:  “Boxer” wins a close decision over “Al” (who was probably the favorite going in).

Graceland OR The Boy in the Bubble:  The “Boy” is fine in the bubble, but “Graceland” is a better destination. (Elvis is there.)

Bridge over Troubled Water OR Under African Skies:  “Skies” has Linda Ronstadt in it (there isn’t a better voice anywhere), but “Troubled Water” has Art singing notes I can’t imagine, and EVERYBODY likes them.


Now, going from 8 to 4……………

American Tune OR Still Crazy After All These Years:  “Crazy” doesn’t win all the time, especially if the “Tune” is good enough.

Late in the Evening OR Slip Slidin’ Away:  It’s “Late in the Evening” and it’s competition has slipped away.

Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes OR The Boxer:  “The Boxer” can win titles, but “Diamonds” are a girl’s (and my) best friend.

Graceland OR Bridge over Troubled Water:  Even Elvis’ “Graceland” can’t get over ”Troubled Water.


And, now, going from 4 to 2…………………

American Tune OR Late in the Evening:  The”Tune” is better morning, noon, and evening.

Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes OR Bridge over Troubled water:  The “Bridge” triumphs over troubled water, “Diamonds” and just about everything else.


Finally, going from 2 to #1……………….

American Tune OR Bridge Over Troubled Water:  The “Tune” uses its “home field advantage” (ie, I created the brackets and chose the winners) to cross over the “Bridge.”


Paul Simon, IMO, provided the most significant music and voice for my generation.

And, yes, a 16 song competition could easily turn into a 32 or 64 song tournament.  It would be enjoyable listening for anyone, since anyone could choose the entrants –and a winner.  Remember: my list is not THE list or YOUR list.  It’s just my mine.  Pick your artist, chose as many songs as you want, create your brackets, and decide your winner.  You’ll enjoy the “tournament” and know who to place your bets on.


PS = Let’s be honest. You could be blindfolded and pick a song from “Graceland” or “The Rhythm of the Saints” and have a “winner.”  For me, “American Tune” is the anthem for my generation.  So, this deck was stacked, folks.  Make choices the way you want.  It’s all you can do.  “You can’t be forever blessed.”





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Dogs, Again? Why Not!

I have written 7 or 8 articles in the last 2+ years about dogs.  It’s time for another one. Why?  Partly because we love having a dog in our family.  Plus, talking or writing about dogs, playing with them, and reading articles about them or finding pictures or cartoons about them is fun. And focusing on them is a wonderful break from useless political discussions, relentless social media participation, and reading another article about whether “it’s time to cut the cable TV cord.”  Sooo, it’s time once again for more cute pictures and funny quotes (often) from T-shirts about dogs.  And, yes, why doesn’t someone do this for cats –an equally popular pet?  I don’t know, but here is more stuff about dogs……..


I think the reason we are born with two hands is so we can pet two dogs at once.

Life is short.  Spoil your dog.

When I die, the dog gets everything.

I work hard so my dog can have a better life.




I don’t always talk about dogs; sometimes I sleep.

Imagine being naked in public and everyone wants to touch you.  That’s a dog’s life.

There’s 2 types of people in this world: People who love dogs and people who are wrong.

Life without dogs.  I don’t think so.



Best.  Friend.  Ever.

Don’t criticize my dog. I won’t judge your children.

You know what I like about people?  Their dogs.

Heaven is where you get to see all the dogs you’ve ever loved.




































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Snapple Facts


I remember the first commercials I heard for Snapple: “Made from the Best stuff on Earth.”  Isn’t that wonderful?  But I quickly found myself  intrigued, not just by the  variety of flavors, but by the “Real Facts” located inside each bottle cap. Fascinating!  Here are 3 such “facts” I chose at random:  “The popsicle was invented in 1905 by an 11-year-old boy.” “In the middle Ages, chicken soup was considered an aphrodisiac.”  “There are more people on Facebook today than there were on the Earth 200 years ago.”

Now, I know some of you wonder if all Snapple’s facts are true.  The company has someone responsible for fact checking: David Falk. “We go through a pretty vigorous process” he said in 2013.   But, no doubt, a few mistakes sneak through. For example,  Fact # 904:  “If done perfectly, any Rubik’s Cube combination can be solved in 17 turns.” Research said a more accurate answer would be 20 turns.  Fact # 77: “No piece of paper can be folded more than 7 times.”  Once again, research said a  few more folds were possible.

But, even so, reading Snapple’s facts are fun and fascinating.  And, Yes, all 1,504 (last time I checked) facts can be found at Snapple’s website.



OK, enough teasing. Here are 10 interesting Facts I found within the first 100 Snapple listed = “The average speed of a housefly is 4.5 mph.”  “Alaska has the highest percentage of people who walk to work.”  “About 11% of the people in the world are left-handed.”  “The average human produces 10,000 gallons of saliva in a lifetime.”  (Are baseball players included in calculating that fact?  “Americans, on average, eat 18 acres of pizza a day.”  (What is the average for NYC residents?) “The average person spends 2 weeks over his/her lifetime waiting for a traffic light to change.”  “There are 119 grooves on the edge of a quarter.”  “The average raindrop falls at 7 mph.”  “Lizards communicate by doing push-ups.”  “You burn about 20 calories per hour chewing gum.”  (Once again, are baseball folks included in calculating that fact?  I’m sure the new Phillies manager, Gabe Kapler skews this stat.)

Speaking of baseball, here are 6 facts Snapple mentioned:  “The ‘high five’ was introduced by a professional baseball player in 1977.”  “The shortest professional baseball player was 3 feet, 7 inches tall.”  (Google Eddie Gaedel)  “The average lifespan of a MLB baseball is 5-7 pitches.”  “The most valuable baseball card ever is worth about $2.8 million.”  (Is that what Honus Wagner’s card is going for now?)  “An ‘Immaculate inning’ is when a pitcher strikes out 3 batters with only 9 pitches.”  (I think Max Scherzer had one this year.)  “A regulation baseball has 108 stitches.”  (Ask Annie Savoy in “Bull Durham.”)

And for real trivia fans: “In the U. S., there is an official rock, paper, scissors league.”

Imagine how many more fun and fascinating facts you could find if you went through all 1,504 facts at the Snapple website.  Wait; I’ll join you.


PS = In closing, I had to include this picture. (see below) This appears to be a photo  taken in Snapple’s new products lab.  My guess is the person shown is demonstrating how the  flavor “Half ‘n Half” was invented.  The combination of iced tea and lemonade is my favorite.



















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