Laughter: A Real Superpower

Harold Ramis, Ghostbuster Creator, laugh maker

A man who brought laughter.

Laughter is the most wonderful sound.

Everyone is beautiful when they laugh.

The first person I heard laugh was my mother. When I was a child, I often woke up early on Sunday mornings. I would hang out with my mother who was already busy in the kitchen. I treasured those times together.

Back in my single days, someone asked me what I wanted in a woman. My response: someone who I can laugh with.

Yes, I believe in the power of laughter.

Therefore, anyone who can make people laugh possesses a wonderful power. A superpower.

This past week Harold Ramis died at the age of 69. In my book Ramis was a superpower.  The list of comedies he wrote includes: Animal House, Caddyshack, Stripes, Back to School, Groundhog Day, and Analyze This.

Yet, the movie I will always remember him for is Ghostbusters. Ghostbusters blew my away! It was Ramis at the top of his power.

Ghostbusters loomed over years of my childhood.

I still remember the movie vividly. From the opening scene when Bill Murray’s Dr. Venkman is shocking a man and flirting with a woman as part of a scientific experiment till Venkman and crew take down the Giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

I repeated some of the lines for years to come:

The superintendent’s gonna be pissed!
What a lovely singing voice you must have.
Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a god, you say “YES”!
Yes, it’s true. This man has no dick.

The decal on my Ghostbusters tee shirt wore off from going through so many wash cycles.

Shoot, I even loved the Ray Parker Jr. song – Who you gonna call?

I mashed my faced against a window ala Rick Moranis’ character, Louis. Remember that scene? He is trying to escape from the terror dog and runs through Central Park. Louis ends up in front of a fancy restaurant.   He tries to enter the restaurant but can’t so he ends up pounding on the window. For a split second, everyone freezes as they turn to look at Louis screaming unintelligibly. They ignore him and instead turn back toward their food as if nothing has happened while Louis is pounced on by the terror dog.

This scene struck me as hilarious. I laughed louder and longer than anyone else at the theatre.

My wife and I laugh together. We disagree plenty and piss each other off. But we still laugh. I love to hear her laugh. We’ll be fine.

Then, there are my boys. I live for their cackle.

SJ is a tougher nut to crack. He is more likely to say, “you’re funny,” than laugh. Except when I tickle him. Then, you should hear him. Just writing that makes me happy.

BR’s sense of humor is developing. While he still loves farts, burps and bodily noises in general (hey, he is 9), I can tell him a joke and get him going. The other day he and I were hanging out, and I had him belly laughing. What a wonderful sight.

Yes, laughter is beautiful. Being able to make others laugh is a beautiful gift.

Thank you for sharing your gift and making me laugh Harold Ramis. Rest in peace.

Picture is courtesy of Flickr

Need More Winter Olympics? Join us in the Suburbs!!

Snow covered car - ready to drive

Keep the snow – ready to ride!

So long Sochi.

Bye bye Winter Olympics.

What are you going to watch from 8-11 pm?  Don’t fear. I have the perfect idea to fill your viewing void. Yes I am the bearer of good tidings.

Today I bring you – DRUM ROLL PLEASE – news of the Winter Olympics – Suburbs Style.

Who needs the Alps, Rockies or Himalayas?  Or even a mountainous area?

Not the Winter Olympics – Suburbs Style. That’s for sure.

Check out these events:

  1. Pot Hole Jumping – athletes run over ice and snow. They then leap over a massive pothole that has arisen due to excessive salting during this winter of our discontent. A clean landing and takeoff are keys. In fact, athletes will be judged based on their approach, landing and of course if they actually clear the pothole.
  2. Snow Pile Walking  – this one’s all about speed and balance folks.  Athletes will walk briskly over jagged mounds of snow which stand up to eight feet high. The snow pile will start at the end of the driveway and end at a bus stop. Of course the wind plays a factor too as well as the lost gloves, hats and other winter paraphernalia that liter the snow pile.
  3. Snowman Building – creativity, patience, teamwork, and speed are required for this event. Yes teamwork. This is a two person event – parent and child (under 10) will build a snowman five feet tall. Each snowman will be made out of three balls of snows. Arms and facial features must be included. Points will be subtracted for children wining, throwing tantrums, or simply walking away.
  4. Newspaper Dash – speed and balance. Which athlete has got this package? The athlete will run down icy steps (with an iced railing) around a car, and another car, over a flower bed fence to the end of their driveway, unbury the newspaper, and have to run back. In their thermal bathrobes. Style counts baby!
  5. Snow Car Driving  – this event is about vision and brushes. Yes, brushes. Each athlete will be armed with a snow brush to remove snow from their car (I see sponsorship opportunities) and driving to Home Depot (another sponsorship. This event is a bonanza!). Sounds simple right? Hold on to your minivan dvd player, there’s more. You see athletes must decide how much snow to brush off as each swipe takes time. The best athletes can clear a small patch of front window on the driver’s side and still navigate the route with ease.
  6. Driveway Ice Skating – grace, beauty, balance. This event requires it all. Couples dancing gracefully to their favorite Kidz Bop song while their children shield their eyes in embarrassment yelling stop. By the end of the song the couple will have made it to the bottom of the driveway incline and lifted up their fallen trashcans. Oh and ice skates are forbidden. Instead thick woolen clunky books are required for each member of the duo.
  7.  Snow blower Races – self-explanatory, I know. However, let me tell you about the history behind this. You see the first Suburb Olympics in Levittown, NY had Shoveling Races. This is the first Olympics where Snow blowing has replaced Shoveling. The purists are in an uproar. However, all can appreciate the challenge that comes with keeping the blower on the sidewalk and driveway and not going on the lawn. After all tearing up the lawn is an indefensible crime in the suburbs. 

So what do you say to Winter Olympics – Suburbs Style? Sounds great – right? Even better, I think I might be able to compete in an event or two.  How about you?

Photo is Courtesy of Flickr

No More Cleaning, No More Snow

One of the great things about blogging is meeting people – electronically that is – from all around the world.

Imagine my surprise when I realized a fellow blogger who I’ve been following for over a year now is practically my neighbor. Yes Jackie of Ambling and Rambling is a fellow Bergen County resident.

Serivce Industry Neighbor

My neighbor and fellow blogger.

She has been married to Fang (an homage to the late, great Phyllis Diller) for almost 25 years. They have a teenage daughter, “Fangette”, for whom she has little patience, but great love. What parent of an adolescent can’t say the same?

Jackie has been in the service industry for thirty-two years. She has worked in all types of establishments.  These days she is at a steak house where she splits her time between serving and bartending.

Ambling and Rambling focuses on the trials and tribulations of being in a long-term relationship, raising a teenager, and working in the service industry. Her perspective is often funny and insightful.

Make sure to check out Ambling and Rambling.

I’m tired of snow!

I’m sick of all the extra work snow involves. I’m of the opinion that something as simple as retrieving the mail shouldn’t require crampons — not in the wilds of suburban New Jersey, anyway. Don’t even get me started on the shoveling. Or the ice-covered everything. Winter wonderland, my patootie!

While I’m not too old to enjoy a little cold weather fun, I’m not sure that sliding down my driveway on my hind end, owing to the fact that we don’t actually own crampons would fall into that category. I’m getting pretty good at it, though and have come to call it “driveway surfing.”

In fact, I’ve grown so proficient at it that I’ve been giving some real consideration to petitioning for its inclusion in the next Olympic Winter Games. I’ll have to come up with rules, a scoring system, and money for bribes of course. However, the work involved and the financial considerations will be small prices to pay for indulging my gold medal dreams.

Sure, rock salt would eliminate the need for hanging ten on the driveway, and rumors of its existence abound. For something that in any other year has always been an abundant and readily available substance, procuring such has proven as elusive here in 2014 as finding a Cabbage Patch doll was in 1983. When driveway surfing becomes, as I suspect it will, all the rage, I will undoubtedly be grateful that the shortage of this product made it all possible. Invention being the mother of necessity and all that.

Working has been a challenge, as well — and an unprofitable one at that. Members of the general public, not to mention the majority of my co-workers, do not seem to share my level of commitment for getting to the restaurant.

As if going to work and coming away without any financial remuneration isn’t, in and of itself, enough to make anyone a mite cranky, the expectation that while I’m there — because I’m there — I will do cleaning projects is enough to send me round the proverbial bend. I’d rather pick nits out of ferrets.

Ferret grooming aside, there is very little that I enjoy participating in less — even in my own home — than cleaning. I clean the hovel because I have to. Unlike my bosses at work, I don’t have any members of the slave labor force hanging about that I can press into service. My teenager, not surprisingly, has better things to do.

Luckily, I maintain low standards for cleanliness. Still, household tasks don’t do themselves! Over the years my enthusiasm for this nonsense has given way to a general sense of ennui. Truthfully, I was never all that enthusiastic about cleaning to begin with. To be honest, I have always greeted tasks like mopping the floors, doing the dishes, and sanitizing the bathroom with about as much fervor as I would a trip to the lobotomist. (And don’t think THAT hasn’t been suggested!)

I finally arrive at work wetter and colder than I generally like to be due to a few practice runs of driveway surfing and trudging through hip-deep snow. At that point, I can’t get excited over the prospect of scrubbing shelves, relocating supplies, and spit-polishing equipment. It’s childish, I know, but in my head I’m stamping my feet, balling up my fists, and shaking my head back and forth while tearfully screaming, “I don’t wanna clean!!!!”

It’s all I can do to keep this immature and unseemly behavior contained in fantasy world. I’m convinced that the sole reason I’m able to keep it from spilling forth into the real world is how embarrassed I would feel after such a meltdown. It’s really no way for a future gold medalist to conduct herself.

I’ve discovered a way out, though. For years I’ve observed others successfully employ this method. I’ve always subscribed to the theory that “A job worth doing is worth doing well.” So, I could never bring myself to participate in the kind of subterfuge that I am now wholeheartedly embracing.  Unlike the positive attitude I’ve adopted where driveway surfing is concerned, I’m doing the bare minimum in the area of workplace cleaning. And, I’m doing it well.

I’m happy to report that I’ve calculated my laziness score to be 8 out of a possible 10.  I think that’s pretty good for a novice!

My Son is Gone on the Train to Independence

Train tracks to indepdence

The route to independence.

There comes a day when it’s time for children to move on and be independent. You know forge their own path and make their own way.

As parents we know this day is coming from the moment our child is born.  However, most of us probably don’t expect this momentous day to come just after our child’s 7th birthday.

Well, SJ, my 7-year-old is ready for his independence. As a matter of fact, he couldn’t wait to leave the house.

In fact, he woke up yesterday at 6 a.m. (his usual) and made a packing list. He wanted to make sure he was ready to go.

Okay, okay SJ was taking the train to his grandmother’s and spending a few days there before returning next week. However, it is still the longest he will be away from his brother, my wife, and I.

And he was bursting with excitement.

SJ excited to get away

SJ is so excited that he doesn’t know what to do with himself.

In fact, SJ has been telling everyone he sees about this trip for the last week. This includes the after school ladies, the group leader at the synagogue, the barber, and the ticket collector on the train. Of course, he also told all of his friends and any other kid that would listen.

I am happy for SJ or El Macho Deathfire Macho Man which he informed me was his new wrestling name. Don’t ask – this little one is a character. For now, I’ll still call him SJ.

When I was young, I took mini vacations to my grandmother’s apartment. Nanny (that’s what her grandchildren called her) and I would go food shopping. I was happy to be her helper as I felt like I was doing a nice thing. She would make all my favorite foods. Nanny would take me to the movies, and we would eat pizza. We also played Rummikub. The calm easy tempo of her house was a nice respite from the kinetic energy that was the house inhabited by four boys in which I grew up.

Mostly, Nanny and I bonded. She told me stories about her growing up. She told me about my mother when she was young. Nanny answered all my questions, and I asked A LOT of questions.

And that is what I want for SJ. I want him to spend time with his grandmother at her house where it is just the two of them.  I want him to bond with his grandmother. I hope he will also see other members of the family and have a chance to shine.  They can get to know what a character he is.

SJ is definitely ready to go. Besides the bonding time, he simply wants to get away, “I need a break from my brother.”

Packed on the train platform

SJ packed and ready to go on the train.


Train window being fogged up.

SJ fogging up the train window while he examines the landscape.

Passing the time on the train.

SJ on the train playing his Kindle. He was struggling to pass the time.

So, this morning, he and I took the NJ transit train to Trenton. SJ was a bundle of gleeful energy, “I can’t sit back. I’m too excited.” When we reached the station, he ran to his grandmother, ready to be on his own.

Meeting at the train station.

SJ and his grandmother at the train station.

Have fun El Macho Deathfire Macho Man. Enjoy the bonding and independence. Just know we will be calling even though we respect your independence.

P.S. BR’s first trip to his grandmother’s: