One Day at a Time

I’ve been without cable for a few years now.  I only pick up about five channels on my antenna, and two of those channels are the nostalgia networks MeTV and Antenna TV, which serve as a sort-of Nick-at-Nite substitute now that Nickelodeon’s idea of “retro” is Full House and The George Lopez Show.  Seriously?!?  Give me Barney Miller and The Carol Burnett Show any day of the week over that horse shit.

So I’ve been watching a lot of nostalgia television lately, which isn’t such a bad thing– there’s just something about old TV shows (the good ones, anyways) that can’t be matched by today’s programming… there are certain intangibles that even the best shows of today can’t quite touch.  Nostalgia is one of those intangibles, and my brain’s hippocampus was recently kicked into overdrive when I caught the catchy theme song for a show I had completely forgotten about:  One Day at a Time.

“This Is It” – the show’s opening credits

One Day at a Time was the brainchild of television super-producer Norman Lear (All In The Family, Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons, Maude, Good Times, etc.) and this program toed the typical Norman Lear line as a progressive sitcom unafraid to tackle serious social issues of the day.  Airing from 1975-1984, the show followed the trials and tribulations of recent divorcee Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin) as she re-discovered her identity as both a woman and an individual while single-handedly raising two teenage daughters who looked nothing like her:  Julie Cooper (Mackenzie Phillips) and Barbara Cooper (Valerie Bertinelli).  Well, maybe she didn’t raise the kids “single-handedly,” as the sleazy yet endearing building Super, Dwayne Schneider (Pat Harrington), took on the role of protective father figure in the absence of the girls’ actual father.  Of course, hijinks ensued.

one day at a time 02Seriously… do these people look even remotely related?

I have it on good authority from both of my parents that One Day at a Time was the first television show I truly enjoyed watching because I was apparently in love with Valerie Bertinelli.  When I was a toddler, I could be throwing a fit or crying my eyes out for whatever reason, but as soon as Valerie Bertinelli showed up on screen, I was soothed.  Beauty truly tamed the beast, and I would immediately silence myself and reach out to the TV screen, mesmerized by Valerie’s very Bertinelli-ness.  I had quite the taste in ladies when I was two-years-old, and I wasn’t alone, either, as rock legend Eddie Van Halen saw the same thing I did and MARRIED Ms. Bertinelli when she was only twenty years old.  TWENTY YEARS OLD!!!  Yikes.

valeriebertinelliMy first crush:  Miss Valerie Bertinelli

The premise of tonight’s episode was the 36th birthday of mother Ann Romano, who finds herself coming to terms with the notion of being “middle-aged.”  Barbara is of course of no help whatsoever to her mother when she tries to reassure her with the statistic that the average life expectancy nowadays is 72 (you can watch the expression on Barbara’s face change as she does the math and realizes her mistake).  As I’m watching this particular episode, I can’t help but focus on the fact that I myself am older than Ann was in the show.  So if SHE feels old, well, how in the hell am I supposed to feel?  At least Ann has a family to show for her 36 years.  I have exactly diddly squat.

 one day at a time 01the fam’ learning a valuable life lesson, no doubt

But I know I shouldn’t get discouraged.  Rather, I should listen to the lyrics of the show’s theme song:

So up on your feet– somewhere there’s music playing.
Don’t you worry none, we’ll just take it like it comes,
one day at a time.

This is it.  So straight ahead, and rest assured, you can’t be sure at all.

Turkey Day

5600962974_d613f78e43_o

Ah, Thanksgiving… that special time of year where we traditionally congregate in the company of our loved ones, fill our faces with stuffing and turkey meat, and take time to acknowledge that for which we are most thankful.  However, some years aren’t so traditional, and sometimes we may find ourselves in the company of only a single loved one, or even alone, and we just may or may not be thankful for a goddamn thing.  In these less traditional lean years, oftentimes we find ourselves focusing instead on the things we don’t have:  the loves lost, the lives ruined, the opportunities wasted– the truly good things in our lives we let slip through our fingers only to be lost forever.

So this holiday I’m spending Thanksgiving with my favorite kind of turkey:

wildturkey

Gobble gobble gobble.

 

How Soon Is Now?

There are plenty of great rock anthems out there, but there are only a handful of nearly perfect singles in this world, and this gem by The Smiths is one of those tracks.  I’m old school, so I come from the line of thought that, much like The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, you have to choose either The Smiths or The Cure– it’s theoretically impossible to like both bands equally, so you have to pick one.  Well, I choose The Cure because when it comes to emo angst, I’ll take Robert Smith’s sincerity over Morrissey’s any day of the week.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t acknowledge The Smiths’ “How Soon is Now” as one of the most iconic songs of the 1980s and also one of the greatest recordings of the last thirty years.  With Johnny Fuckin’ Marr’s hypnotic reverb riff and Morrissey’s haunting vocals, this is a song that sticks its hand right into your chest and grabs hold of your beating, bleeding heart just long and tightly enough for you to fully comprehend the pain of loneliness.

“I am human and I need to be loved– just like everybody else does.” 

Yup.

I am the son
and the heir
of a shyness that is criminally vulgar.
I am the son and heir
of nothing in particular.

You shut your mouth–
how can you say
I go about things the wrong way?
I am human and I need to be loved,
just like everybody else does.

I am the son
and the heir
Of a shyness that is criminally vulgar.
I am the son and heir
of nothing in particular.

You shut your mouth–
how can you say
I go about things the wrong way?
I am human and I need to be loved,
just like everybody else does.

There’s a club if you’d like to go–
you could meet somebody who really loves you.
So you go and you stand on your own,
and you leave on your own,
and you go home and you cry
and you want to die.

When you say it’s gonna happen “now,”
well when exactly do you mean?
See I’ve already waited too long,
and all my hope is gone.

You shut your mouth–
how can you say
I go about things the wrong way?
I am human and I need to be loved,
just like everybody else does.

(apologies to The Smiths)

(I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear

Feelin’ awfully melancholy and nostalgic tonight (Melanostalgic?) and stumbled upon this old tune by the venerable pop/punk band Blondie.  While the band will always be remembered foremost for “Heart of Glass” and “Rapture,” it was ethereal tracks like this one that made them my favorite band when I was a teen (helped in no small part by Clem Burke’s wicked drum fills which made it impossible to listen to Blondie without beating the hell out of everything in sight whilst air drumming).  And name me another rock band to use the word “theosophy” in a song, I dare you.

Was it destiny?  I don’t know yet.
Was it just by chance?  Could this be kismet?
Something in my consciousness told me you’d appear–
now I’m always touched by your presence, dear.

When we play at cards, you use an extra sense.
You can read my hand, I’ve got no defense.
When you send your messages, whispered loud and clear–
I am always touched by your presence, dear.

Floating past the evidence of possibility–
we could navigate, together, psychic frequencies.

Coming into contact with outer entities–
we could entertain each one with our theosophy.

Stay awake at night and catch your R.E.M.s
when you’re talking with your super friends.
Levitating lovers in the secret stratosphere–
I am still in touch with your presence, dear.

(apologies to Blondie)

Life is full of disappointments

Braum's

Waiting in line at Braum’s for a late-night dinner after a long day’s work, I witness a white-trash woman undertaking an arduous order of ice cream.  One of her feet is wrapped in an oversized protective boot as though she had fractured it falling out of her above-ground pool (or possibly trampoline) and the other foot taps incessantly as she stares at the overhead menu.  Quite a line-up forms behind her while she’s hemming and hawing at the myriad of ice cream choices available to her, and after several minutes of mouth breathing she finally speaks:

Woman:  “Now… with the pecan caramel fudge sundae… are those pecans… toasted?

Fast Food Worker:  [brief pause as he’s processing her question]

Woman:  “I mean, are they… raw?

Fast Food Worker:  “Um…

Woman:  “Or are they toasted?

Fast Food Worker:  “I don’t think they’re toasted…” [proceeds to hold up a cup of crushed nuts, apparently not toasted]

Woman:  “Ooooh… nope, that’s not gonna’ do.  Hmmm…

Apparently unaware that she is in a fucking fast food restaurant and not the Four Seasons, the lady goes back to studying the overhead menu, her epiglottis making an unappealing noise as she continues to mouth breathe with her head tilted back.  Her facial expression is one of deep consternation while she carefully weighs her confectionery options, and all I want to do is tell her, “Life is full of disappointments, lady.”  But before I get the chance, my order number is called, so I grab my to-go cheeseburger value meal, the grease from the fries already permeating the paper bag, and get the hell out of there.