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    Esther Blumenfeld  

    The purpose of this web site is to entertain.  My humor columns died along with the magazines where they were printed, although I cannot claim responsibility for their demise.  I still have something to say, and if I can bring a laugh or two to your day, my mission will be fulfilled.

    Everyone I know thinks he has a sense of humor.  Here is my unsolicited advice. If you try to be funny and no one laughs, don’t worry about it.  However, if you try to be funny and no one EVER laughs, you might have a little problem.

     

    Friday
    May182018

    RUM AND CIGARS. IT MUST BE CUBA

    5/3/18:  The first leg of my trip to Cuba meant flying a puddle jumper to Phoenix, and then taking a direct flight to Miami , where the ship to Cuba was berthed. The plan was to rendezvous with my son, Josh, and daughter-in-law, Barbara, who were flying in from Washington, DC.  

    Settling into my aisle seat on American Airlines, I exchanged pleasantries with an attractive woman who was sitting next to the window. The middle seat was empty. Suddenly, an ominous shadow was cast over my seat, and a voice barked, “Move over!” I looked up and saw a very tall, thin—-obviously angry—woman glaring at me. I replied, “If you step back, I will step into the aisle, so you can get into YOUR middle seat.” She then growled at the woman who was sitting next to the window, “I hope you aren’t planning to go the bathroom during the flight, because I don’t like to be disturbed.”

    The nice passenger replied, “I can’t promise you that I won’t get up.” However, she was either too  polite or cowed to ask, “What will you do to me if I have to go the bathroom.” At that, I looked for the flight attendant, so I could order an empty coffee can for my seat-mate. However, the flight attendant had gone into hiding as soon as she heard the exchange.

    We quickly buckled our seatbelts, and then quickly unbuckled when the pilot announced, “Because of tornados and bad weather heading East, there will be a delay. Then he announced, “The delay will be either for 1/2 an hour or one or two hours.” I shouted, “Do we get a vote?”  After all, it was my birthday.  

    The pilot ignored my cries but he then said, “For those of you who want to stretch your legs, you can get off the plane. You can stay or go, but if you get off, you have to take all of your belongings with you—including what’s in the overhead compartments.”

    I stayed on the plane, ran around and made some new friends—the smart ones who stayed on the plane. By the time all of the passengers got off and were counted, they were asked to get back on the plane and had to be checked in again. After everyone returned, we waited for another hour. “So,When are we going to leave?” I asked the flight attendant, who had come out of hiding. And she said, “You mean today?”

    We finally took off. The middle seat woman was fast asleep, and the woman next to the window had her legs crossed. Our plane was 2 hours late arriving in Miami. However, every good story should have a happy ending.

    My American Airline flight from Phoenix arrived at exactly the same time that Josh and Barbara’s American Airline flight from Washington, DC had arrived. Obviously, the bad weather had blown them in the right direction. And, their luggage arrived in Miami on the turnstile next to mine. All 6 suitcases arrived and we piled into a taxi headed for our overnight stay in a Miami hotel. So far so good.

    Tomorrow, the ship sails for Cuba.  

    To be continued——-

    Esther Blumenfeld

    Friday
    Apr202018

    THEATRE OF THE IMAGINATION

    Some people go to the beach with metal detectors looking for hidden treasure. I look for it in used bookstores. Being a bit of a Luddite, I still enjoy using a tape cassette recorder, and recently stumbled upon, “60 Greatest Old-Time Radio Shows (1944-1955). Most of these shows transitioned to the “Golden Age of Television” (1950s and 1960’s) and featured shows included, Jack Benny (1950), Abbott and Costello (1947) and Milton Berle (1948).

    With a joyful reliving of my youth, I once again listened to, “With a speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty ‘Hi, Ho Silver,”’ as the Lone Ranger told his faithful companion,Tonto, “ I will change into my mask and riding clothes.”

    The thrilling days of yesteryear gave lots of work to organ players and other musicians who filled pauses, and added to the excitement of shows. The most famous music was,“The William Tell Overture” by Rossini, which was played before, “Adios,” and the presentation of the Lone Ranger’s silver bullet to some unsuspecting schmo in the crowd, who’d say something like, “He isn’t what he seems to be. It’s what he does that lets you know who he is.”

    Then there was the meek Clark Kent who transitioned (out of a phone booth—What’s that?) into guy who was “more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap buildings in a single bound.” It was before cell-phones so people could look up—-“It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s Superman.”

    The humor in many of the sitcoms still holds up today. Those of you who remember the famous, “Who’s on First” baseball routine by Abbot and Costello, may not know, that they did other comedy routines on their radio show confusing the English language. One involved a play on words  about renting a car “Driving with Hertz”, and then buying a car “Putting up a down payment.” I could go on and on about funny lines in various shows such as “He fell into a vat of syrup and sweetened himself to death” (Allen’s Alley) or the announcer announcing the show, “Lassie Captures The One-Eyed Cat.” Yes, I listened to it. Radio was the “Theatre of Imagination,” including thrilling Westerns such as “Gun Smoke,” and shows that could raise the hairs on the back of your neck such as “Suspense.”

    However, as much as I enjoyed the shows, what I found most interesting were the commercials. Between laughs from Jack Benny was the sponsor of Lucky Strike cigarettes. “Let your taste and throat be the judge. There’s never a rough puff. Smoke a Lucky Strike.” The the famous singers, The Inkspots” sang “If I didn’t care” and promoted Lucky smokes. The announcer touted, “The largest, most complete cigarette research lab that judges sample leaves sent for scientific analysis to judge which tobacco is really fine.”  And, “There is an unconditional guarantee on every pack, ‘So round, So firm, So fully packed. So free and easy on the draw. So smoke a Lucky.”’

    Camel Cigarettes sponsored Abbott and Costello, “What cigarettes do you smoke? In a National survey, more doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette. Satisfy your  ’T’ zone (throat and taste) pull up a chair and enjoy a Camel.”’ And the announcer bragged, “During the War, 153 million free Camels were giving to our military troops.”

    But, cigarettes weren’t the only products touted on the radio. While listening to Gun Smoke,
    and U.S. Marshall, Matt Dillon fight the “violence that followed people going to the West,” I heard, ‘Take it easy Mom, boys and girls like Sugar Crinkles—the first spoonful of cereal that’s just the right sweet and makes breakfast more fun than a circus.

    While holding my breath waiting for the the dramatic conclusion on “Suspense” I was treated to, “From bumper to taillight, you’re always right with Auto Light.” I think this jingle preceded rap poetry. Then there was Maxwell House Coffee, “Good to the last drop,” and Lux Soap, “Hollywood’s luxury soap.”  One of my favorites was for Fitch Shampoo.  You can get rid of
    embarrassing dandruff with explicit instructions how to apply, rub it in and rinse for only 59 cents a bottle. Fitch sponsored, “Have Gun Will Travel” (1957) with “Paladin the gentleman gunfighter” (whose name came from a knight warrior from Charlemagne’s Court.)

    Of course, listeners could always “Keep on your toes with No Doz, the little pill that gives the lift of a coffee break.” Before you think it strange that I listened to commercials, remember that in 2018 you can watch the best commercials from the Super Bowl. How weird is that?

    When I was 12-years-old, my parents took me to NYC and treated me to a ticket to to view the actors presenting my favorite radio show, “Jack Armstrong, The All American Boy.” That  experience was an ugly jolt from my imagination to reality. My hero Jack was in reality, the voice of a chubby, little old lady wearing a dress and hat with a feather, and when the breathless lady (Jack ) jumped on a horse to catch a robber, the horse went clump, clump with the sound effects of coconuts being banged on a table. Never listened to the show again.

    Sometimes, “The Theatre of the Mind” really is  the best show in town.

    Esther Blumenfeld

    Friday
    Apr132018

    THE SHADOW KNOWS

    When I was a little girl, I wanted to be tall. So, every night, before I fell asleep, I stretched my legs, convinced, without a shadow of a doubt, that this exercise would make me taller.

    However, heredity  foiled my attempts, and to this day, I still have problems getting products down from top shelves at the grocery store. That’s why, several cans of coffee tumbled to the floor, and one hit me on the head when I pulled the bottom can out of the high stack. Even the listed price was too far up for me to read, so I ripped it off the shelf. I may not be tall, but I’m too old to climb a ladder, and the customer is always right.

    The only time I get an inkling of how it feels to be tall is when I am hiking and the sun is at my back. Then my shadow is tall and skinny like a giant. So, it’s me and my shadow.  Someone really should write a song about that!

    I never had a desire to live in anyone else’s shadow, because I enjoy rambling along with my own. My shadow is a momentary affirmation that I exist. But, I am a realist, and I know that as soon as a cloud covers the sun, I will, once again, walk alone. Unfortunately, my shadow is always on the verge of being erased.

    Another shadow can tip me off if someone is walking behind me. That shadow can look extremely threatening, so I always turn around to look. I want to be sure that it isn’t Big Foot  crunching those rocks behind me on the path. And, Yes, I do know that a very little person can cast a big shadow, but it’s a good idea not to take a chance. I never worry about Vampires, because I know that they don’t have shadows, because they have no souls.

    Jim Barrie’s, Peter Pan lost his shadow, but Wendy Darling helped Peter by sewing his shadow back on.  Lady Gaga said, “If you don’t have any shadows, you’re not in the light.” Well, that’s a shadow of an idea, if I ever heard one. And, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn said, “Stars and Shadows ain’t good to see by.” And, he never even met Lady Gaga.

    My shadow is a comfort. It reminds me that I endure. However, if I turn my face to the sun, my shadow falls behind me, and then, if I walk in the shade, it disappears and doesn’t even leave a trace. So the trick is to keep the sun at my back and the wind in my sails and persevere.

    Esther Blumenfeld (“I’ve seen George Foreman shadow boxing, and the shadow won!”) Muhammed Ali

    Friday
    Apr062018

    ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS

    Why is it that my faithful readers seem to enjoy the stories that I write about my most recent aggravations? Either it’s because they are happy that it didn’t happen to them, OR, because at one time or another it did! Distance from an irritation can make almost anything funny—-unless the stress sends you to the Loony Bin.

    Starting out on a positive note, I am pleased to report that my, “Either We Fix It Or Replace It” company finally sent me a check to pay for the replacement of my temperamental washing machine, that five technicians could not fix. After several months of calls (and finally a very strong letter), it took two weeks for the check to arrive. However the questionnaire, “Are you pleased with how your problem was solved?” came to my computer lickity split. Needless to say, I wasn’t pleased until the check arrived on a lovely Friday afternoon.

    Everything seemed to indicate that one problem had been solved, and the day was going to be uneventful. Not so fast! My mail had arrived at 5 p.m.—later than its usual late arrival, and I received a $1700.00 bill from the anesthesiologist who had put me to sleep for a colonoscopy. It stated that my little snooze had been rejected by Medicare.

    I was going out for the evening, so I applied my make-up with one hand, and dialed the Medicare number with the other. The very nice Medicare agent told me that Medicare had not paid the bill, because it had not been properly submitted with the words, “Medical Necessity.” I said, “Would you want a colonoscopy without an anesthesia?” She said something like, “Hell, No!  Ask them to resubmit.”  Of course, by now every medical office in the Country was closed, so I had to wait until Monday to resolve the problem. That gave me lots of time to imagine that the billing department would put me on telephone “Hold” and  give me a hard time.

    On Saturday morning, in order to lower my stress, I decided to go to the Mall to see the movie, “Black Panther.” The newspaper listed the super-duper-extra-loud version of the movie at 9:30 a.m., so I decided to go to the quieter one at 9:00 a.m. Of course, the newspaper had gotten it wrong, so I wandered the Mall for 30 minutes. Then, I returned to purchase a ticket for the 9:30 show. The ticket fellow put a chart in front of me and said, “Pick a seat.”  “Why?” I asked. “Because now all of our seats are reserved.” I asked him to show me where the screen was on the chart, and noticed that in the 300+ seat theatre, only 5 seats had been reserved. I closed my eyes and pointed to the chart. My finger fell on seat # 9 in row E.  Anyway, I think that’s what I chose, because when the ticket taker gave me my stub, he had given me the receipt side and discarded the seat designation.  So, I found seat #9 in a row, and prayed that no one would sit in my lap. After suffering 20-minutes of previews, I did enjoy “Black Panther,” and the action movie helped lower my stress. I was very happy that all the action was on the screen and not in the theatre.

    The Saturday mail was delivered early. I don’t know how the mailman does that only on the weekend. And, I received a report that informed me how much money was still left in my health insurance  spending account. It seems as if they had added an extra month. Another call for Monday morning.

    My Monday morning class begins at 9:30 a.m. so I called the sleepy folks at the anesthesiologist’s billing office in Los Angeles at 8 a.m. and requested the re-filing of my bill. The voice on the other end yawned said, “We noticed the problem and already sent it to the re-submit department, but I will make a note that you called.” “I don’t want another bill,” I said.  “If you get one, let us know,” was her not so reassuming response.

    I then called the folks at the insurance spending account office, and the nice man explained to me that I had just been paid for the shortfall of  October, 2017. “So,” I said, that means that there will be another shortfall in October, 2018— that will be paid in 2019.”  “You got it!” he replied. “Makes no sense to me,” I said.  “You are right,” he replied, but that’s the story.”

    I guess the answer is to—-Carpe Diem and get it by the throat.

    Esther Blumenfeld


    Friday
    Mar302018

    MOVEMENT MEANS MOVE

    Sometimes a person has to take a stand for what’s right, but that gets more difficult when standing for a long time takes its toll on old legs. However, when young people in Tucson decided to join “March For Our Lives,”the gauntlet had been tossed to three of my friends and me to join the campaign for gun safety.

    “Never Again,” resonates for Tucson, still traumatized, from the shooting rampage that led to the wounding of my Congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, and the people who were shot and died that day. They had come (Democrats and Republicans) to a shopping mall to meet and greet their Congressional Representative. That day, Democracy was at its best, and gun violence at its worst.

    So, we decided to lend our 360 years of experience (plus the 27 years of one of my friend’s granddaughters) to join the two-mile walk, from downtown, to the Mall at the University of Arizona. We wanted to add our voices to advocate for sensible gun control and shout, “Never Again” to murder.

    The decision had been made. Now what?

    We knew that walking for two-miles with a crowd of people wielding signs would be daunting, so we decided to drive to the University, get there early, and have lunch before joining the tail end of the march. After we parked it took awhile to stroll to a pizza place. We sat outside, cheered,  and waved our slices of pizza at the hundreds of people who marched by.

    After lunch, it was time for a five-woman-potty-break. By the time we all finished, the parade had passed us by.  Oops!

    However, we did manage to be numbers 7995-96-97-98 and 99 in the 8000 person walk. We carried no signs but hiked to the Mall to join the rest of the teachers, students and other supporters. The young people, some of them victims of gun violence, spoke about making their schools, as well as the Nation, safer. Those voices were inspiring and powerful. They suggested that after well meaning people are finished thinking about the issue and praying about the issue—-they get out and vote for politicians who will support the sensible control of guns.

    Then, as the rally ended,  and everyone was leaving, a very old woman finally arrived at the University Mall. She was panting, and walked hunched over her walker. She wore a large sign around her neck that said in bold letters: “BOYCOTT WALMART!”

    Every story should have a happy ending.

    Esther Blumenfeld