Monday, September 1, 2014

We heard it on the radio

"Look up in the sky! It's a bird! A plane! It's Superman!

At the sound of those words, we took our first-row seats in the theatre of the mind, and soon we were lost in a kaleidoscopic world of adventure and comedy.

It was the mid-1940s, and Radio was king.

The Shadow asked, "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?" The eerie sound of a creaking door invited us, if we dared, to step into the Inner Sanctum. Rochester, in the sputtering Maxwell, chauffeured his boss, on The Jack Benny Show, and Baby Snooks drove her father crazy with her antics.

World War II was almost over, and savvy broadcasters were already imagining the cozy glow of a television screen in every living room, but that was for later in the decade. In the meantime, Radio was the most welcome guest in the living rooms of America, telling stories, cracking jokes, singing songs, and reporting news and sports.

We ate Breakfast with Dorothy and Dick, listening to their morning banter, and at midday, we had Luncheon at Sardi's, where actors dropped by to talk about the latest plays on Broadway.

In the afternoon, busy housewives took a break from their chores to listen to soap operas, commiserating with Stella Dallas, or cheering the successes, and mourning the defeats, of One Man's Family.

In the evening, we heard Walter Winchell's brash voice over the insistent tapping of a telegraph key, ready to dish the dirt, as he told "Mr. and Mrs. America ... and all the ships at sea. Let's go to press!"

Today, people ask, "What did you look at, when you listened to the radio?"

We saw with our mind's eye, and the radio sent us a medley of sounds to complete the pictures, as we imagined the moors of England, and we shivered at the bone-chilling baying of the Hounds of the Baskervilles.

Out on the wind-swept plains of the Old West, we heard the lonely howling of coyotes, as the Lone Ranger and Tonto upheld frontier justice.

We travelled the world with Lowell Thomas, as he conjured up images of exotic wonders, from Borneo, to the Great Wall of China.

We didn't need to look at anything with our eyes.

We heard all about it on the radio.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

How tweet it isn't

A lot of folks love to tweet,
They think there's nothing fitter;
I think email's much more neat;
I have no love for Twitter.

I can't see much benefit
Except the chance to chatter;
Email has more meat to it;
Tweets use much less grey matter.

It's true a tweet's efficient,
Quick as a Maserati;
But emails are sufficient,
Though scorned by Twitterati.

Which one of them will prevail?
Though Twitter may suit your dreams,
I'll stay the course with emails,
As quick as twittering seems.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Driving while old

The car behind me pulls out in a flash,
Then pulls in front, to be the first one there.
The light turns red. He almost has a crash,
But still, he's ahead, though he got a scare,
And time won't wait! He needs to win this race,
Be number one. The light turns green. He goes.
Amused, I dawdle at a steady pace,
And reach my goal, intact from crown to toes.
His urgent needs are clear, he has to shine:
To have the biggest house, most costly car,
Best-looking wife, and drink the finest wine.
Will that be underlined in his memoir?
I once drove fast, and had no time to lose
When I was young; now slow, is what I choose.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The centipede

I feel bad for the centipede,
With more legs than he'll ever need.
When he puts his best foot forward,
Which one to pick, must be horrid.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

If grandma were alive today ...

Grandma enjoyed the phone so much,
For local gossip, news, and such;
"What number, please?" came from the phone,
Back when there was no dial tone.

And, MI eight-oh-five-four-oh
Was her home number years ago,
Before we'd reached our mobile stage,
When cells are how we now engage.

Our texting, tweets, and emails rate
First place, when we communicate.
If grandma were alive today,
She might not know which choice to weigh.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How I learned to not love jogging

I've never seen a happy jogger.

Looking in my rear-view mirror, I always feel a pang of sympathy as I pass joggers. Red-faced, mouths contorted in discomfort, they gamely jog on, streams of perspiration cascading down their cheeks, foreheads encircled by sodden sweatbands, arms pumping bravely as they gasp for air.

Jogging has always struck me as a form of self-torture. Athletically-challenged, I always avoid running of any sort. I make an exception for the adrenaline-induced kind provided by a chance encounter with an irate bear.

No masochist I, sitting under a poolside umbrella with a good detective novel, always seemed a preferable pursuit to jogging.

Despite my often-stated aversions to the past-time, colleagues assaulted me almost daily with stories about the virtues of jogging, and occasional jeremiads about the physical costs of sloth.

Finally, I gave in and decided to experiment, and made a simple plan: I would buy good running shoes, and jog every other day for a month. At the end of that time, I would decide whether jogging was for me.

Seeking scientific precision, I set the trip-counter on my speedometer to zero, and drove exactly one mile on the course I had chosen for my test.

The sun was just rising on the morning when I set off from my apartment for my first run.

Thirty days later, I sat on my patio and reviewed my impressions about jogging.  I'd lost several pounds, and my muscles had firmed up, but otherwise, I found no significant improvement for body or mind.

However, I did find a negative change; over the course of the month, I developed an unpleasant case of shin splints.

Decision made, and giving a sigh of relief, I picked up my latest detective novel, and gingerly walked over to the pool. Slowly.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

On having fun

Now that I've reached seventy four,
An age I never was before,
I sometimes stop, and speculate;
Will life be good, at ninety eight?

We know the future's hard to see,
(Though some count on astrology),
And few predictions are correct;
Life happens when you least expect.

When I was in my teenage years,
And full of adolescent fears,
I hoped that I'd reach twenty one,
The age when grownup life's begun.

That was a long, long time ago,
And now, I know just what I know;
Life's like a book, we turn a page,
And learn new things at every stage.

I'm sure, when I reach ninety eight,
There's stuff I'll still anticipate,
Like celebrating ten times ten,
When I'm a centenarian.

And when I've reached one hundred years,
Long-shorn of adolescent fears,
If I don't reach one hundred one,
I'll be content; I've had some fun!