Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Have You Heard the One About the Gay Jew in the Trailer Park?: PICKING THINGS UP AND PUTTING THEM DOWN

Have You Heard the One About the Gay Jew in the Trailer Park?: PICKING THINGS UP AND PUTTING THEM DOWN: I love that Planet Fitness commercial where the juice head says, “I pick thing up and put them down.” I realize now I have become that g...


I love that Planet Fitness commercial where the juice head says, “I pick thing up and put them down.” I realize now I have become that guy, minus the juice of course.

A couple of weeks ago, I walked into the gym at 5:00 am, I put my stuff away, and I loaded up a bar and did one rep. I was done. I don’t mean I was done with the set. I mean I was done.

Finished. Fed-up. Through. I was sick and tired of lifting weights.

I walked back to the locker room, retrieved my stuff, and I went home. Rose Marie was thrilled.

What happened? I’m not sure. 

I’ve been lifting weights for 37 years. In those 37 years, I have only skipped the gym for maybe three days each year when traveling, and even when traveling I would work out when I could. That’s almost 12,000 workouts. 

You’d think after all those years of picking things up and putting them down, I’d look like a bodybuilder. Well, I’ve never done steroids. I was offered them on occasion, but the cost alone both monetarily and physically never seemed worth it to me. Translation: I am cheap and I don't like chemicals. I was actually unfriended by someone because I refuse to juice up.

About all I accomplished in almost four decades was a complete 180. When I started, I had narrow shoulders, a flat chest and a big ass. Thirty-seven years later, I have narrow shoulders, big boobs and wide hips. I have become Nana! To this day, I still don’t feel comfortable taking my shirt off in public. And now, I need a two-piece!

This disenchantment wasn’t as sudden as it sounds. I remember a personal trainer on TV telling everyone to look at all the people on the cardio equipment then go back six months later. You will see the same people, and they will look the same. I don’t care for cardio because at six-four I don’t fit on the equipment, and I have had more repetitive stress injuries from those horrible machines than I can count. Does anyone else get numb feet on an elliptical? My knees hit the handlebars on exercise bikes. Treadmills scare the crap out of me. I watch too much AFV.

I never liked light-weight high rep workouts. I always thought they were for sissies. Around 30 years ago, I considered training to be a power lifter when I was approached by one to train for the Maccabiah Games in Israel. But alas, my fear of chemical enhancements quashed that dream. All these other guys were shooting horse piss or some other veterinary steroid into their systems and bulking up like crazy. The backne was very attractive. One’s backne would pop all the time, and his shirt would be bloody. Yeah, that is alluring.

A decade ago, a guy I knew told me he never knew anyone who tried as hard as I did to get the results of steroids without using them. He ended up in the hospital a week later due to a combination of steroids, human growth hormone and rhinoceros testicle extract.

I wish I felt the same about supplements and protein shakes. I tried all of them. None of them worked. One did have a strange side-effect – Tribulus Terrestris. While it didn’t give me bigger muscles or a six-pack, it made me treat my body like an amusement park. Every opportunity I could get, I did what every teenage boy does three times a day. I couldn’t get enough of myself. My skin never looked clearer. I never was, nor have I since been, in such a good mood.

Then I watched the documentary, Bigger, Stronger, Faster. In it, they show how all those fitness models on the magazine covers benefit from two things: steroids and Photoshop. Is there no hope? 

I really took a long look at all the guys in the gym, which made some think I was Merv the Perv. I realized of all the ones with the perfect bodies benefited from one of two things or both: perfect genes and needles in their butts. Before you think I am lumping everyone into one category – or two, I truly believe, and evidence suggests, that more men, especially men over 45, are using steroids and testosterone therapy. How else do you explain a guy whose face looks like Colonel Sanders and whose body looks like Channing Tatum’s? I can see if you have hours and hours to devote to the gym and a personal trainer follows you around all day to be sure you don’t eat your fair share of Chuckles (I love Chuckles), but you aren’t fooling anyone.

Another point the documentary made was that none of the supplements you buy from Vitamin Shoppe or GNC are regulated. Most contain rice flour and very little or just trace amounts of what they say they are. I quit taking any supplements, and I didn’t notice any difference.

However, I continued to down at least two protein shakes a day. All I was getting was thick around the middle – too bad it was the wrong thickness and the wrong middle.

From what I have learned recently, those protein shakes contain a lot of things besides protein. They, too, aren’t regulated. Also, your body can only absorb and process a certain amount of protein in a day. The rest either makes your kidneys work overtime or gets absorbed and turned into fat.

So, around six months ago, I threw away all the containers of protein powder, and I started making breakfast again.

This was also part of a new kick I was on. Since I love vintage cars and write a column for Hemmings Classic Car, I see a lot of photographs from the 1940s and 1950s. The one thing I notice is that everyone was thin. Maybe that is why my Hudson Jet Liner is supposed to seat six, but only three of my friends can ride with me in comfort.

What were they doing that was different? Not eating processed food. After all, what did our grandparents call organic food? Food.

In addition, my doctor and I were working on a theory. I have an autoimmune disease in the Lupus-Rheumatoid family that causes a range of weird and uncomfortable symptoms. In the last twenty years, there has been a spike in the number of people diagnosed with autoimmune diseases. One belief is the improvements in diagnostics, but the other is that we are putting things in our bodies we shouldn’t be, and as a result, our immune systems are attacking these “enemies.” That is why I started only eating foods I prepare and whose ingredients I can identify. This seemed like a more logical way of keeping my symptoms at bay rather than take a bunch of medications with horrible side effects.

I lost seven pounds almost immediately.

Well, it seems I got off track for a second or two. But, I do have a point in here somewhere.

On the morning I picked something up then put it down and left, I got to thinking. I don’t think often, but when I do, it can be profound.

Over the years, in addition to picking up heavy things in the hopes of not dropping them on my head or feet, I also tried other forms of exercise. I also formed very strong opinions about them.

There, of course, was Krav Maga. While this had a fitness benefit, it also had an injurious one. After 18 months of being bruised, battered and almost killed, I decided I’d had enough. I suffered a ruptured vocal chord from an instructor showing everyone how to choke a tall person, a pulled hamstring from an instructor showing everyone how to take down a tall person, and a broken tooth from an instructor showing everyone how to punch a tall person. What does the world have against tall people?

I tried Cross Fit. Oh dear lord in heaven help the people who take Cross Fit. You’d think Reverend Jim Jones invented this crap. First off. Have you really looked at the instructors? They all have a glazed look in their eyes and flabby bellies. Seriously, all that running around like meth-heads, and you’re fat? I read the goal of Cross Fit instructors is to injure their students, so they can keep the classes to a manageable size. Now, let’s talk about the Cross Fitters, themselves. They are worse than Jehova’s Witnesses. All they post on Facebook is how many burpees they did and their WODs. Work Out of the Day for the less informed. If they miss a Cross Fit class, God help anyone near them. I dated a guy who broke up with me because when he left my house one morning, he didn’t have enough time to make his Cross Fit class.

By the way, the Cross Fit students don’t look any better than the chubby instructors.

Then, there’s Zumba, another cult. I have a friend who used to make fun of me for going to the gym all the time. He would say my gym called when I didn’t show up by 5:05 am. Now, he is 95 pounds lighter thanks to Weight Watchers, and every other Facebook post is about his going to Zumba. I tried Zumba, but I refuse to dress like Richard Simmons. Is that a requirement?

At my gym, they offered a Boot Camp class. This I actually liked because all the exercises used your body weight. There were no weird, unnatural movements, and I didn’t have to dress like an aging queen. I could reserve those outfits for when I go to a banquet. The problem was after two classes, the instructor was fired. Guess why? Selling steroids and having sex with clients in the gym. I was disappointed. While I wouldn’t have bought the steroids, I wouldn’t have turned down a romp on the tanning bed. I apparently wasn’t his type.

Add to all this the home gym equipment I bought over the years, the Power Stand, Cross Bow (Trailer Park Bow Flex), Ab-Roller, and the Bull Worker. Remember the Bull Worker? They still make it: http://bullworker.com/. It’s only $115 plus shipping and handling.

You may wonder why I did all this? I have a terrible body image. It all goes back to sixth grade when we were being weighed in the nurse’s office in school, and Lori Bowman said, as I stood on the scale with my back to everyone, “You’re built like a girl.”

As I said, narrow shoulders, flat chest, and a big butt.

I started with Charles Atlas at age 13. I still have the book of exercises, and some of them worked. Of course, I had to work out in my room when no one was home because I come from a weird family.

Then at age 14, I sent away for the Universal Bodybuilding series, advertised in comic books. After six weeks, it hadn’t arrived. I was upset. That cost $12 of my hard-earned lawn mowing money. Well, it turned out my brother found it in the mail and decided to hide it from me. Then he started a conversation one day about how everyone in his class was getting mail from Universal Bodybuilding. He had been holding on to it for a week. He thought I was being silly sending away for it. He would make fun of me for working out all the time, telling me it was unhealthy to work out so much. Now, he works out all the time.

Do you want to know why I didn’t share this with my family, especially my mother? She thought anyone who looked at a magazine or books about bodybuilding was queer. Maybe she was right.

At 15, I bought myself a weight set and bench for $40 from K-Mart. Remember those sand-filled, plastic weights and benches. I found an old book in the library illustrating bodybuilding exercises, and my life began. 

I remember my father saying, “I was going to buy you one of those.” With what? You spend your money on booze and golf. It’s easy to be generous when it costs you nothing.

Speaking of weirdos. I answered the phone one day, and Uncle Stanley said, “Your dad says your lifting weights and are strong as an ox.” I cringed. To this day, even writing this, that makes my skin crawl.

In the Universal Bodybuilding series, there was a chapter on personality, and I’ll never forget one piece of advice: “Never be a muscle head. Don’t talk about bodybuilding. No one cares how many sets or reps you did. Don’t be the guy who always takes his shirt off. Don’t flex for people. You will turn them off.”

I never forgot that advice. It may be the reason I have no beefcake shots on Facebook like many my age who should really rethink those profile pictures. After all, it isn’t Scruff or Daddy Hunt. I never liked to talk about the specifics of my work-outs. When someone would ask me, “Do you lift weights?” I would answer in the affirmative then quickly change the subject. I read the book, and I didn’t want to be a muscle head.

Too bad they don’t teach that in Cross Fit Class! Or Zumba! 

I have two acquaintances who do nothing but talk about what body part they are working at the gym any given day and how they are "hitting it hard." Both have loads of shirtless and semi-nude pictures on Facebook. One is 25 and has managed to build a body that makes him look like a 52-year-old married father of three. The other is 52, and he is convinced he looks 25. I think both of their homes are filled with fun house mirrors. They both spend more time talking, posing and posting than actually working out.

Flash forward from 1978 with a $40 weight bench and weights from K-Mart to today with a membership to RetroFitness. After years of gyms, home equipment, diets, supplements, enough protein shakes to choke a moose, and every book and magazine available, I realized I only had a body I sort of liked a few times in my life.

I also realized that in the four years I’d been going to this particular gym, I would see the same people every morning, and none of them looked better or worse.

Looking back, I liked how I looked when I was dancing with the Florida Dance Conservatory. I was much leaner, around 30 pounds lighter, and I had a larger than normal dancer’s body. Yes, I was still lifting weights. To be realistic, I was also in my early 30s. I also liked how I looked in my early 20s. I weighed 200 pounds then. I also had tight skin and black hair and could get an erection from a breeze. Ahh, the good ole days.

So, why was I spending all these years trying to get bigger and stronger when I was happiest when I was lean and pretty? 

Yes, I got stronger, but I also got bigger – and not in the right places. I don’t care what the experts say. You CANNOT put on muscle and lose fat at the same time. I have tried every diet and every routine. ALL OF THEM! I have subjected myself to every fad and gimmick. It's all a crock of shit!

After I came home the day I put things down for the last time, I researched one last time for an exercise routine that would enable me to stay in relatively good shape without putting any more strain on my joints. After all these years, my body hurts. I groan when I get up. I groan when I sit down. It reminded me of an old neighbor of mine who was in terrible shape. Upon seeing my face after I ate the pavement while jogging in the dark, he said, “That is why I never exercise. I don’t want to get hurt.”

A few years ago, I wrote a short story about a rich guy who hires a personal trainer. He would drink martinis while the trainer worked out. He felt he was paying for the time, so he would use it as he pleased. One day, the trainer keeled over and died of a heart attack. The rich guy took a sip of his martini and said, “That is why I don’t exercise.”

There was a woman on the news who celebrated her 102nd birthday by throwing out the first pitch at a Milwaukee Bruins game. Her secret for growing old? “Keep breathing.”

My search led me to Mark Lauren, a former Army Special Ops instructor. He has an entire book of body weight exercises. The SEALS and Special Ops guys and gals don’t lift weights. They use their bodies as their gyms. Yes, they go on twelve mile hikes with 50 pounds of gear on their backs, but I am not 21 anymore, so don’t be looking for me on a hiking trail hauling a radiator from a 1938 Nash.

Best of all, Mr. Laurn has an app!

Every morning, I just choose an "Intermediate, 30-Minute, Body Weight" program, and a new routine is created in seconds complete with a warm up and cool down. I am afraid of the Advanced for now. Give me a month or two. The routines are non-stop, creating a cardio benefit as well.

You’d think after all these years of non-stop working out, fads and routines, I would be able to breeze through this. Oh hell no! This shit is hard! I sweat like a whore in church. I breathe like copulating walrus. And, I groan like a 1979 Lincoln Continental trying to go uphill. Apparently, almost four decades of weight lifting has prepared me for nothing.

Here’s the funny part, and I know you’ve been waiting for the funny part.  

Working out at home on a mat with no weights reminds me of my mother following those exercise ladies who were on TV in the mornings back in the days of antennas, three channels, and shag carpeting. Every once in a while, I look at my iPhone expecting to see a lady with big hair, wearing a powder blue leotard and demonstrating the exercises, while her make-up remains flawless.

I am only one degree away from having a Virginia Slim burning away in an ashtray next to a cup of Sanka with one saccharin while I complete my morning exercises.

I’ll let you know if my shoulders get narrower, my boobs get bigger, or my hips get wider. I know my hair will get bigger and blonder. After all, I am just like Nana.

Read more at www.miltonstern.com.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


I finally cut the cord – not the umbilical cord, but the other one I’ve had attached to me for the last eighteen years. Not my son either; you know the one the front desk guy at RetroFitness thinks I have who drives a BMW? As if I would allow a child of mine to drive a BMW.

The cord I cut belonged to Comcast.

For the last year or so, I have wanted to find a way to release myself from Mr. Master Man. If he were a hot muscle-daddy, that would be OK. But, this Mr. Master Man drives around in a white truck and has a serious attitude equal to his serious butt crack. Add to this charming package a total indifference to your life and time.

“Your technician is scheduled to arrive between the hours of eight and two.” Translation: “He’ll show up when he damn well pleases with the wrong equipment and no knowledge of how our service works.”

When I moved to Rockville (the armpit of Maryland), my appointment was between eight and two, and he showed up at nine o’clock at night. No apology. Nothing.

You can’t blame anyone. The idiot you talked to on the phone is sitting in a basement in Manila, learning phrases like, “Hey, bro,” “I like Taylor Swift,” and “Go Lakers?”

In addition to all of this delight is my favorite term, “bundling.” In other words, buy all our services, or we’ll charge you $75 for every service you refuse. If you only want to watch the four major networks, that will cost you $575 a month. Should I squeeze your balls a little tighter?

Bundling is the main reason I wanted to find a way to cut the cord.

It all started when I couldn’t dial my rotary phones anymore. Apparently, Comcast quit supporting rotary dialing. Have they no mercy? Where’s the humanity?

I asked them if I could cut out the phone service.

“Yes, but that will cost you an extra $75 a month not to have phone service.”

“What if I just keep the internet and cut out the television, too?”

“Yes, you can do that, but it will cost you $275 a month.”



Did our grandparents bundle? Grandma and Nana both could watch television without paying anyone for the privilege. Not only that, they could watch Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley, Milton Berle, Burns and Allen, Martin and Lewis, Abbot and Costello, Amos and Andy, Nat King Cole, Dinah Shore, Jackie Gleason and Art Carney, and don’t forget the best, Ed Sullivan via an antenna.

To talk to any of us, they used their rotary phones, which were leased from and maintained and serviced by Bell Telephone.

They had a phone bill. That’s it!

In the 1970s, Ma Bell was broken up because she had become a monopoly. This meant you now had a local phone company, and then you chose your long distance carrier if I remember correctly. Actually, I do because I soon learned and you will, too, that some things have not changed.

What I don’t understand is how the aim was to break up a monopoly, yet we have more monopolies now than we ever had.

For example, I have one choice for cable television: Comcast. There is no competition.

Sure, there is the Dish, but that’s comparing apples to oranges.

For internet, we have one choice: Comcast. Again, there is no competition.

Fios is not available where we are, only DSL if you don’t go with cable.

That is not competition. To me competition is having more than one cable company, or more than one satellite company, or more than one internet company.

This lack of competition means they can treat you any way they please, and you have to smile and let them fuck you like the whore that you are.

Not me! My whoring days were over!

That was when I started investigating.

If broadcast television is free, why am I paying for it? What do I watch that is so important that I need cable? All I need to see are the news and Good Morning America. Everything else is background noise. I go to bed before any good shows come on, and I use my DVR for those, which presented the first problem.

So first, I subscribed to Hulu. Now, I can watch any “must sees” the next day, which is what I was doing anyway.

What about the telephone? Well, I could no longer dial out, so I decided to go with an old fashioned landline. I called Verizon. For $17.99 a month, I could have a basic telephone line with no frills. Or at least, I thought.

The day came for them to connect my phones, and I soon remembered why I cancelled my landline eleven years ago.

When I lived in Mount Pleasant (which is neither a mount nor pleasant, discuss), I had a landline that couldn’t receive calls. I could dial out, but I had no idea no one could dial in. I just figured no one wanted to talk to me. Then, Mother asked me why I never answered my phone. I told her it never rings. A dozen service calls later, I cancelled the service since they could never get it to work.

In a mobile home, and this is still about mobile home living, the wires for the phone jacks are under the house where the fuse box is located. Mr. Verizon was able to wire the one jack on the side of the house with the connection that Comcast drilled into the exterior wall the day I moved in without asking me first because he didn’t know the wires for the cable lines were under the house. 

I asked if Mr. Verizon could hook up the wires for the other jacks, and he told me he was too busy, and I’d have to make another appointment. It would also cost me $95 for each jack to hook up those other wires.

I argued that I made an appointment, and he told me to take it up with his supervisor.

He left and went back to the main switchboard and called to be sure my phone was working. I received a call. There was one problem. I couldn’t dial out without a passcode. Then I spent the day trying to get ahold of someone at Verizon until a customer service rep informed me that the reason I couldn’t dial out was I didn’t pick a long distance provider.

“I’m trying to call my own cell phone, which is in the same area code and in the next room, and my neighbor who is across the street.”

“Yes, but the area code doesn’t mean it is local or long distance. It is all about ‘exchanges.’”

“But, I have regional calling.”

“Yes, that covers you for twelve miles.”

“It isn’t twelve miles across the street and certainly not from the kitchen to my bedroom.”

“It’s about the ‘exchanges.’ Everyone is on a different exchange.”

This was weird. I couldn’t even dial 911 to inform them I was going to cut a bitch if my phone wasn’t working in ten minutes. I could dial Baltimore, but not my own cell phone! I learned that this is what has happened with people taking their phone numbers, area codes and all, with them. Area codes are meaningless – they’re just something you have to dial now.

In the end, my basic $17.99 phone service ended up costing me $67 a month, and that is without call waiting or voice mail. I hate call waiting, and when a friend puts me on hold, I hang up. An answering machine is cheaper than $11 a month. Apparently, maintaining landlines is expensive, hence the price. 

At least I could rotary dial again.

Now to watch David Muir, Ryan Smith and all the other male models on ABC News, I had to get an antenna.

I first tried a twenty-mile antenna, but I could only get two channels. Then, a thirty-mile, which gave me four more. Thirty miles my big Jewish ass. The farthest station is twenty miles away. I went on Amazon and bought a sixty-mile antenna. Anything more powerful would require a Saturn V Rocket and a payload from Northrup Grumman.

During my first channel scan, I had twenty-three channels. I went online, while I still had internet of course, and researched this. For your benefit, I give you the following:

If you go with an antenna, pick one with at least a sixty-mile range and hang it in a window behind the blinds. Mine is white, and the blinds are white. It’s hanging in a side window, so no one can see it. Before hooking it up, run a channel scan on the TV. You will get no channels, but you will be deleting any competing settings or data. I had no idea there were competing settings or data.

Then, hook up the antenna and run the scan again. I ended up with forty-five channels. ABC, two NBCs, CBS, five, yes five, FOXs, QVC, HSN, four PBSs, and a whole host of other channels that play old TV shows all day (I can watch Hazel and Leave It to Beaver whenever I want) and others that play Maury Povitch and Wendy Williams non-stop. There is a sports channel, an all-news channel, and also several Spanish-language channels. You’ve got to have your Telenovelas!

Digital signals are strange. The picture is much clearer than with cable; however, it sometimes goes in and out when you first tune in to a channel, which led me to another dilemma, also discussed below.

Now, what about the internet? I got to thinking. If my phone can get the internet without cable, why can’t my computer and Roku? Well, they can with a hotspot modem. I know that isn’t the technical term. I went to AT&T and added a hotspot to my plan and got a free hotspot modem. I chose a 30G monthly plan based on my internet and Netflix usage. The other advantage is my internet connection is mobile. If I ever get wealthy enough to buy a weekend trailer, I won’t have to hook up any internet or cable or phone. I take my hotspot modem (I know it isn’t the right terminology) with me.

I finally was ready to cut the cord.

I unhooked all the equipment and packed it all up, including the cables and remotes. I drove to the Comcast service center up the street. I handed them the equipment, and they didn’t care. They didn’t try and stop me. They didn’t try to retain me. They just told me my bill credit would be mailed in four to six weeks.

Seriously? I’ve been a loyal customer for eighteen years, and this is it? Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out? You’d think I had a one-night stand with them. Tricks have treated me better than this. I’m glad I no longer give them money. My pocket book is closed for business.

So far, I was saving $50 a month, and unless a satellite fell on my head, my internet and TV were always working. I would no longer have to wait during six-hour windows for a cable guy to come over nine hours after the window closed and give me attitude.

However, there was still one lingering issue.

I was using more than 1G of data a day watching my favorite shows on Hulu. There had to be a way to record shows on a digital television. Back in the day, we used VCRs. Do they still make VCRs?

They do, and Walmart had one, but they didn’t have the blank VCR tapes. It was also huge. I wonder if it was a leftover Betamax?

Again, I was doing research, and I found a solution – Mediasonic Homeworx PVR: a porno video recorder. At least I think that is what the P stands for, or could it be personal?

This little machine works as a digital converter if you have an old timey television. One advantage is the Mediasonic Homeworx also transmits the channel guide. If you hit the EPG button, you get a list of all the shows on that particular channel for the next twelve hours!

It will record your shows onto a thumb drive you leave in it all the time, and you can take the thumb drive with you and watch the shows anywhere.

But, it’s a little complicated.

They tell you that you can’t watch one show and record another. Well, you can. Hook up the antenna to the PVR then to the television. Then, hook up an HDMI cable from the PVR to the TV as well. Use the HDMI port for watching normally for an even clearer picture than with just the antenna and for recording. If you are watching one channel while recording another, set your recording using the HDMI port, then when it starts recording, switch your watching to the antenna port.

There are some glitches. You will notice with digital antennas, channel surfing is slow. It takes about five to ten seconds for a channel signal to be received. After a minute of two, the signal gains strength. This is OK if you aren’t recording. If you are planning a timed recording, make sure your PVR is tuned to that station at least five minutes before the recording is to start. You will ensure the strongest signal. If you are going to bed, turn the PVR to the channel first, let it come in clearly, then you can turn off your television, but do not turn off the PVR.

If you don’t do this, when the PVR switches channels to begin recording, the station won’t be tuned in immediately, and the PVR will assume there is no such station. It will do two things: one, it will cancel the recording, and two, it will cancel all future timed recordings on that same channel, since it assumes the channel doesn’t exist.

It took me a few tries to figure this out. I kept checking to see what I recorded, and there were no programs. Half of my future programmed timer recordings would disappear as well. I finally got it when I realized the show I wanted and the future disappearing shows were always on the same channel.

The little machine also records on military time, but even though it is not hooked up to the internet and only gets its signals from digital TV stations, it knows the date and time. You never have to set them. No blinking lights like the 1980s.

Yes, I like rotary phones, but that doesn’t mean I’m a technical idiot when it comes to audiovisuals. You don’t watch this much man-on-man action over the internet for two decades without learning something about signals, clear pictures, and playback.

Once all the dust settled, I notice my leftover data didn’t roll over as planned, so I called AT&T. Whenever I call customer service, I always ask them how they are. This throws them off because no one ever asks how they are doing.

I asked the AT&T guy what happened to my data, and he said sometimes it takes a day or two to catch up, but since I was such a good customer, he was going to offer me a deal. If I were to forgo the rolled over data that first month, they would cut $95 off my bill each month as long as I kept that data plan for as long as I wanted, and my future data would roll over. I thought for a second and said yes.

In the end, cutting the cord saved me $145 a month. More importantly, I no longer have bundles.

Oh, and about those other phone jacks? They never showed up for the scheduled service call to hook them up. No call, no letter, no text. It was like one of my relationships.

I searched online, and there is a tutorial on how to open up the phone box on the side of the house and hook the lines up yourself on the customer side, and it is perfectly legal because the phone box has two sides.

I’m living the life of Nana. I can talk on my avocado green, wall-mounted, rotary phone and smoke a Kent cigarette, while Make Room for Daddy plays in the background.

I would try to live like Grandma, talking on my white, rotary desk phone, smoking a Winston and listening to Lawrence Welk, but I can’t seem to find his show.

Don’t worry, I will.

Monday, December 15, 2014


My Annual Hanukah Card

Actually, I usually post my “Eight Myths of Hanukah” on here this time of year, but after a dozen or so years, I decided to post "My First Annual Hanukah Card." If you search the archives at right, you can find my “Eight Myths of Hanukah.”

Every year, I get one of those Christmas cards from an old friend in Florida, telling me about all that has happened, most of it bad news. "My shop burned down." "Mother had another stroke." "My live-in lover is getting a sex change … again." I have lost track of whether he/she is a him/her this year or not.

I don’t want to hear all this drama, and I wouldn’t share so much drama. Isn’t the purpose of the annual message to show off how your life is more fabulous than anyone else’s? What fun is there in sending a message if you don’t make everyone else feel bad about themselves?

So, I decided to write my own card to the seven or eight people who actually read this blog. Here goes.

Dear Friends,

I hope this message finds you in good health and happiness as you live the life of your dreams. If not, I hope you find a peaceful way to end it all with little pain and mess.

My dog, Rose Marie, continues to be the light of my life. She brings me such joy and is there for me, as I am for her.

Translation: We are in a co-dependent relationship.

While I have not found my soul mate, I did manage to have sexual relations with a variety of men in their prime, who rocked my world on a regular basis throughout the year. So many men, I can’t remember all their names.

Translation: I got laid once ... I think. I’m not exactly sure there was actually anyone else in the room.

I am continuing to work at my dream job where I am responsible for all the communications at the highest level of government and am called upon to offer my expertise, affecting foreign policy on a daily basis.

Translation: I still work as a contractor spitting out communiques like watermelon seeds and have no clue who, if anyone, reads them.

I travelled extensively throughout the year, seeing things you wouldn’t dream existed.

Translation: My commute to work means I spent almost 900 hours stuck in traffic, seeing people do everything from putting on make-up to picking their noses to masturbating.

I created a lovely outdoor living space where I can enjoy spring afternoons, summer nights and fall foliage.

Translation: I shoveled snow, mowed grass, and raked leaves.

I expressed my true feelings to one of my neighbors.

Translation: I flipped her the bird when she complained about my dog taking a piss.

My social life continues to be interesting and full of new and exciting people.

Translation: I binge watched American Horror Story, Orange Is the New Black, and every season of Adam-12 on Saturday nights.

People continue to seek my counsel and advice as I am a beacon in the community.

Translation: A stranger asked me how to get to M Street.

And finally, I continued to enjoy good health and happiness on this journey we call life.

Translation: I didn’t die.

Happy Holidays!


Rose Marie and Milton

If you like what you read, buy my books – www.miltonstern.com.


Monday, November 10, 2014


I loved when it was Mother’s turn to host her Tuesday night Mah Jongg game – so much so that I wrote a book, On Tuesdays, They Played Mah Jongg, which led to my being asked to write the introduction for the soon-to-be-released book, Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game: A Collector's Guide to Mah Jongg Tiles and Sets.

Yes, those were two shameful plugs. Get over it. I live in a trailer, drive very old cars with manual everything, and only buy store brand products. It is either this or Kickstarter.

Anyway, I loved it when it was her turn to host because of the buffet. All the women worked, so this was also their chance to have dinner when they were not in play. They had five players, and Mah Jongg is played with four hands. The fifth bets on which of the four will win. I think six dollars was the most you could lose, so if you lost six dollars, you were at pie, which meant you couldn’t lose more but could keep playing. Sometimes they served pie, which made it even more delightful.

Aunt Anita was always accused of cheating when she was the fifth. None of these women were my aunts. My mother had no siblings, so all these women who were my biggest influence were called Aunt. But that is not the point here. Aunt Anita was also accused of never putting out any food. Well, that is not entirely true. She would have a bowl of those jellied orange slice candies and a liter of Pepsi. Unfortunately, Uncle Walter, her husband, would drink all the Pepsi before the girls arrived.

I don’t know if any of this is true, or if these women were exaggerating. Mother was known to tell a fib or two to make a point … or hide a secret.

My experience with Aunt Anita was that she was always generous with her time and things. When I was typing my last term paper for college, my Royal electric typewriter exploded, even sending off a few sparks. Mother was on the phone with Aunt Anita at the time and casually mentioned that my typewriter just exploded while I was finishing a paper. Aunt Anita promptly hung up. Fifteen minutes later, she was at our door with her own portable electric typewriter. No one asked her for it. She just showed up. That was the Aunt Anita I remembered.

Nana died one week before my college graduation. After the week of shiva and the graduation ceremony, people no longer stopped by the house. One day soon after, Mother was writing thank you notes, and there was a knock at the door. Aunt Anita dropped by unannounced to check on Mother, and she stayed and kept her company all afternoon while Mother wrote the notes, just to be sure she was ok. Aunt Anita never said a word. She just sat there with Mother. It was perhaps the most touching act of friendship I had ever witnessed.

I remember Aunt Renee saying one time, “Anita will give you the shirt off her back. Just don’t ask her for money.” I really didn’t like when they talked about her like that.

Nana lived below Anita and Walter in the late 1950s in Stewart Gardens, and according to her, they would fight about money every night. Nana would light up a Kent cigarette and listen to them until she got bored, then she would bang on the ceiling with a broom stick. Nana had no room to talk. She could squeeze a nickel until the buffalo farted.

Anyway, one night it was my mother’s turn, and she went all out with enough food for a Bar Mitzvah. Tuna salad, egg salad, smoked fish salad, bagels, potato salad, pound cake, fresh brewed coffee in the Sunbeam 30-cup percolator. Jews sure do love their white food. The only thing with any color was the coffee. Oh, you thought I meant Caucasian.

Aunt Anita arrived first, followed almost immediately by Aunt Renee, who upon seeing the food yelled with delight, “Oh my God, look at this spread.” Didn’t bother Aunt Anita one bit.

I will never forget that. Of course, Aunt Renee had an advantage. She owned a deli for God’s sake. Before buying the deli, her husband worked at a furniture store, and rumor was all the nice things in her home fell off the truck as it passed by her house. It was decades ago, so the statute of limitations has run out.

Well, nothing changed for the next decade or so. Food was served, Pepsi was consumed, and they all remained friends.

Then, they hit their fifties, and all of a sudden everything changed.

Aunt Cis developed a hiatal hernia. She couldn’t eat anything with roughage or that would irritate her throat, so she brought her own dinner. Mother had a heart attack, so she couldn’t have anything with fat or cholesterol, and Aunt Anita? Oh she could eat anything, but unfortunately, she died soon after. It was a sad time.

But, the tragedies didn’t stop there.

There were no more buffets. Two things affect Jews deeply, death and a lack of food.

Due to all the dietary restrictions, the ladies who Mah Jongged were brown bagging it. They had to switch from coffee to iced tea, and decaffeinated at that.

I used to joke about how one couldn’t keep up with who could eat what or which. I thought I was funny, making fun of these post-menopausal women.

One should never joke about post-menopausal people because some day one will become one of the post-menopausal people. Karma is a bitch.

It all started around age forty-nine.

I farted.

I know that is no big deal. However, I never farted. I came from a family who farted all the time, but I never farted. I was not like them. I shit a lot due to irritable bowel, but I never farted. I could never understand how people could fart without shitting themselves. My friend, Danny, calls that sharting.

But, I farted. I didn’t just fart once. I couldn’t stop farting. It was awful and painful and uncomfortable, and of course, smelly.

What was happening to me? What did I do to myself? They weren’t just little farts. Oh no, I never do anything little. These were loud, long, wind shear farts.

When I sneeze, I wake up the dead in the next county, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise that what was coming out the other end was just as noisy and disruptive.

I kept checking my drawers to see if I shit myself. I didn’t. I was just farting. Non-stop.

I then had to examine my diet. I haven’t missed a meal since 1962, so this was going to require some serious investigating. Then, I found the culprit. Pasta. To test out my theory, I had a plate of spaghetti.

I farted. I farted all night. I felt as if my insides were going to explode. Technically, they did.

So, I cut out pasta.

Then, I farted again.

Now what? Another inquiry was conducted.

Could it be bananas. I thought they only made monkeys fart. I ate a banana.

I farted.

I hate farting. Some people enjoy farting, but I hate it. The worst part is I don’t fart in daylight. No, I fart at night. How am I supposed to sleep with the sheets flapping all night long?

When I do doze, my farts wake me up. Oh hell, they wake up the neighbors.

Rose Marie sleeps under the sheets, so I kept checking to be sure I hadn’t gassed her to death.

I stopped eating pasta and bananas … and whole wheat bread, cauliflower, beans, cottage cheese, chocolate, cake, pie crust, sour cream, plums, walnuts, and any kind of lettuce, and the list just kept getting longer and longer.

I could just eat what I wanted and fart to my heart’s content. But, I’m single, and if I had any hope of getting married, I needed to nip this fart problem in the bud.

I finally managed to alter my diet enough to eliminate the eight-hour farting spells. But, with that came another problem.

Eating out.

I recently visited my friends, Danny and Mike, in Michigan, and they picked this restaurant with one of those weird menus where all the dishes are made with dozens of ingredients – seventy-five percent of which make me fart.

I picked something and picked at it. Danny made fun of me, saying I couldn’t eat anything and how could anyone cook for me because I am so picky. Then, he leaned to the side and farted, right there at the table.

I wish I was as comfortable in social situations as he is. It takes a brave man to be a pig in public.

Milton Stern is a writer and columnist and thinks he is a humorist: www.miltonstern.com.