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OUR FIRST PRESIDENT … WAS WHO?!

 

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

My New Year’s resolution this year was to  tune out the news.  As a result, the satellite radio in my car now plays either music or comedy. So far I’ve been much happier and less depressed so I guess the old saying, “Ignorance is bliss” is true.  But that’s a discussion for another time.   Today, apropos to the holiday, I want to share something I learned while listening to the “60’s on 6” program on Sirius XM.  The host asked who the first President of the United States was.  You just know when they ask such an obvious question that the answer will come out of left field.  Sure enough, a couple of minutes later a guy called in and said the answer was John Hanson.  “Yep!”, cried the host.  I just about drove off the road.  I consider myself a pretty good student of history.  I minored in it in college and to this day every other book I read is a history book of some sort.  I’ve never even heard of this Hanson fellow.  The whole thing sounded bogus to me.  What about George?  What about his chopping down the cherry tree and smiling with his wooden teeth?  Was everything I learned in school wrong?  I went in search of the answer.

  Hanson in the late 1760’s

It turns out that there is a contingent who support the notion that Hanson was our first President.  Conveniently, most of those people are his descendants.  For what it’s worth, here’s a bit of history on him and after reading this you can form your own opinion.  In 1661 John Hanson’s grandfather came to America as an indentured servant.  Two generations later John was born in 1721 to what was by then a very wealthy and prominent family.  Little is known about his early life but his career in public service began in 1750, when he was appointed sheriff of Charles County. He then served in the Maryland General Assembly for twelve years before moving to Frederick County where he held a variety of offices, including deputy surveyor, sheriff, and county treasurer.  He was one busy guy and, if nothing else, may have been our first professional politician.  When relations between Great Britain and the colonies soured in 1774, Hanson became one of Frederick County’s leading Patriots.   He was known for his organization skills in gathering supplies to use against the Tories and even paid the rag tag Revolutionary forces out of his own pocket.  Think about that – do you see any of our current elected officials dipping into their own funds?  So we have to assume he was a dedicated guy.

Hanson, painted when he was “president”

In December 1779, the Revolutionary War victorious for the Patriots, the Maryland House of Delegates named Hanson to the Second Continental Congress; he began serving in Congress in Philadelphia in June 1780.  On November 5, 1781, Congress elected Hanson as its president.  And this is where the controversy begins.  Under the Articles of Confederation, the United States had no executive branch; the president of Congress was a mostly ceremonial position.  The office did require Hanson to serve as neutral discussion moderator, handle official correspondence, and sign documents which sounds to me like he was a high-priced arbitrator.  Apparently Hanson didn’t think much of his duties either because he is said to have found the work tedious and considered resigning after just one week, citing his poor health and family responsibilities.  I think that was the precursor to “resigning to pursue other opportunities” excuse.  Out of a sense of duty Hanson remained in office, and though he obviously was trying to squirm out of the job, the Maryland Assembly reelected him as a delegate on November 28, 1781, and he continued to serve as president until November 4, 1782.  He died 11 days later so maybe he really was sick.

Hanson bronze in Statuary Hall

In 1898, Douglas H. Thomas, a descendant of Hanson, wrote a biography promoting Hanson as the first true President of the United States. Thomas became the driving force behind the selection of Hanson as one of the two people who would represent Maryland in the National Statuary Hall Collection in Washington, D.C.  His statue was completed in 1903 and can still be seen today in the Senate connecting corridor.  His selection as one of the two bronzes to represent Maryland has been controversial from the start, with many contemporary historians citing others who were more deserving.  As recently as 2011, Maryland lawmakers have considered replacing Hanson’s statue in Statuary Hall with one of Harriet Tubman.  In any event, the argument as to whether Hanson was the first President was further promulgated in a 1932 biography of Hanson by journalist Seymour Wemyss Smith.  Again, historians dismissed Smith’s viewpoint because his research was less than stellar.

The most compelling argument as to why we consider George Washington, not John Hanson, our first President is that Washington was the first to have true executive powers under the Constitution.  That seems like a sensible argument to me.  The one thing that became clear in my reading is that John Hanson’s reputation has been commemorated far more than most of his contemporaries, other than the Founding Fathers.  In 1972, he was depicted on a 6-cent US postal card, which featured his name and portrait next to the word “Patriot”.   In 1981, Hanson was featured on a 20-cent US postage stamp. U.S. Route 50 between Washington D.C. and Annapolis is named the John Hanson Highway in his honor. There are also middle schools located in Oxon Hill, Maryland, and Waldorf, Maryland, named after him. A former savings bank named for him until it went under during the savings and loan crisis.  And maybe that is the fitting end for his legacy given that most serious researchers consider his elevation to the “first President of the United States” to be based on an old hoax.

 

A Day (and Night) in LA

by Bob Sparrow

Downtown Los Angeles

Although it is currently ‘Awards Season’ (code for ‘Let’s pat ourselves on the back until everyone gets an award’ season) here in ‘Tinsel Town’, our trip was not to rub shoulders with the hypocritical privileged, but rather to explore some of the ethnic enclaves that thrive in the mega metropolis.

First stop, Little Italy – I had Googled it and discovered that there really wasn’t much left of what used to be Little Italy, but the article went on to say that if you went to the Eastside Market, Italian Deli in that area that you might run into owner, Johnny Angiuli, who could tell you about the good old days when Little Italy was thriving. After less than an hour drive from our home, through downtown LA, we parked across the street from the deli and the minute we open the car door we could smell the great Italian aromas wafting through the store’s open front door . We walked in and wandered around looking at the nostalgic pictures on the wall. I approached the counter and asked a young man behind it if we were standing in what remains of Little Italy. He laughed and said, “Yeah this is about it, but when my father first came here it was a thriving Italian community.” I asked, “Is your father Johnny?” He said yes and pointed to an elderly gentleman sitting down in the corner of the store, then said, “I can bring him over here if you’d like.” I happily agreed.

Johnny & son

Johnny came over and introduced himself and welcomed us to the deli, then started telling us his story. He said he was born in a small Italian town a couple hours south of Naples called Adelphia and added that it was a great place for kids to grow up. He came to America in 1959 and started working in the Eastside Market and ultimately became its owner. He said, “Times were very different then, Italians were very much discriminated against, it was even taboo for an Italian person to marry a white person, so we kind of stuck with ourselves here in this little community.”  He was a most gracious man who got our exploration of LA off to a great start.

Next stop, Chinatown – It was a short drive from the Eastside Market to the new Chinatown. Having been to Chinatown in San Francisco several times, we were expecting something like that, and in fact the old Chinatown was something like that, but due to ‘Tong’ warfare (fights between Chinese gangs), gambling houses and opium dens, the area decayed and was ultimately destroyed for the building of Union Station, LA’s railroad hub. So a new Chinatown was developed which was a little more spread out, but now a few blocks along Broadway could be considered the heart of the new Chinatown. We wandered the shops and found a great hole-in-the-wall restaurant to grab a very tasty Kung Pao Chicken and House Fried Rice lunch.

Next stop, Little Tokyo – Just across the freeway from Chinatown is Little Tokyo. In 1941 there were about 30,000 Japanese Americans living in Little Tokyo, but in December of that year, the Japanese were rounded up and incarcerated in internment camps. African Americans, Native Americans and Latinos moved in the area and took over their homes; because of their skin color the area became known as Bronzeville. After the war, many Japanese moved back and today Little Tokyo is thriving again. As we walked its streets, we felt bad that we had just eaten, as the smell of great Japanese food filled the air. After strolling through various passageways and poking into a few shops we headed back to our car for our next destination.

Next stop, The Grove at Farmer’s Market – It was only about a 20-minute drive through some pretty rough parts of town and then through some very high end parts of town to what use to be orchards, a nursery and a dairy farm and is now one of the great outdoor shopping and dining areas in America – The Grove. As it was now turning dark and cool we strolled down the center of the outside mall checking out the stores, restaurants, bars and the Farmer’s Market, which is still a part of this complex. We stopped and had a beer as we watched a band setting up for an open-air concert in February . . . that’s Southern California.

Rodeo Drive

Next stop, Rodeo Drive – No tour of LA is complete without at least a drive down Rodeo (that’s Row-Day-Oh, not Road-E-O) Drive, where every high-end fashion company has a store. While Linda may have wanted to get out and window shop, I convinced her that we shouldn’t stop, we’ll miss our dinner reservation.  Great stores, all lit up – keep going!

Next stop – Dan Tana’s Restaurant  A classic LA eatery you’ll hear all about in two weeks.

 

THE WASTED OPEN

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Last week we hosted over 700,000 people in our neighborhood at the “Greatest Show on Grass”, otherwise known as the Phoenix Open.  Sure, The Waste Management Company is the named sponsor, but even though they’ve paid a lot of money and the tournament moved to Scottsdale 36 years ago, it’s still known to locals as the Phoenix Open. For a long time it was officially the FBR Open but that didn’t stick either. I think Waste Management overlooked the opportunity to call it the “Wasted Open”, which is more reflective of the actual event.  The Phoenix Open is unique on the PGA tour because it is one quarter golf and three quarters party.  Many pro players have refused to play here due to the heckling and the general circus-like atmosphere, but more and more of the younger players revel in the alcoholic ambience.  All I know is every year we rely on the advice we got almost 20 years ago when we moved here: the week of the Open just hunker down and watch it on TV.  The traffic is horrendous and the restaurants are jammed.  That said, the Phoenix Open draws some of the largest crowds of the PGA season.  Here’s just a few reasons why:

The average attendee knows little about golf

We actually did attend the event a few times and half the fun is observing the crowd.  Normally golf galleries are filled with people wearing golf attire and sensible shoes.  These are people who know the game and know what it’s like to walk around a golf course.  At the Phoenix Open the crowd is filled with people either dressed in costume (Big Bird was popular this year) or barely dressed at all.  There is fun to be had watching the young women who come expecting to prance around in their Louboutin heels but quickly discover that they are wearing the wrong kind of spikes.  We’ve seen more than one novice ruin a $500 pair of shoes when she goes “heels down” in a combination of soft grass and spilled beer.

Even the pro-am is entertaining

Usually the pro-am of any golf tournament is just a way for local dignitaries to bring in high flying, no-name customers for a chance to play with a pro.  The Phoenix Open, however, attracts top sports stars, business CEO’s and entertainment celebrities.  We could tell when the week of The Open is occurring even if we didn’t have a calendar – an average of 75 private jets fly over our house into Scottsdale airport every day of the Open.  There are so many planes at the airport that they have to double-park them.  This year the pro-am was spiced up by the addition of a streaker!  Yep – a 24 year-old man was breakdancing, practicing his golf swing and throwing sand up in the air while au naturel.   Apparently he also fell down a lot and, not surprisingly, was eventually charged with disorderly conduct.  What makes the story more amusing is that his antics went on for five minutes before anyone came out to stop him and at the end of his “performance” the crowd gave him a standing ovation.  Again, not your usual stodgy golf patronage.

The 16th Hole

Of course, what defines the Phoenix Open is the 16th Hole – the biggest outdoor bar in the world.  Over the years it has gone from having a few corporate tents around the tee box to its current three-story stadium surrounding the entire hole.  It is now literally like entering the lion’s den.  The 16th hole is famous for caddy-races (now banned after one too many accidents), pros throwing items into the stands (also now banned) and for the rowdiness of the spectators.  What other golf tournament sells tee shirts that says “Bring the Noise”?  There are students from ASU that strive to get the front row seats on Saturday each year and from that vantage point, sing or shout a personalized message to each golfer.  A few years ago the TV golf announcers were marveling at the amount of research this group does, digging up fight songs from obscure alma maters to knowing the name of the pro’s first wife.  I suppose the students’ parents might be wishing that amount of analyzing was spent on studying microbiology or something but for the rest of us it’s pretty entertaining to hear their songs and heckles – as long as it’s not mid-swing.

The upside of putting up with traffic and yahoos who yell “You Da Man!” is that the local charities benefit greatly from the tournament proceeds.  In fact, that’s one of the best aspects of the tournament.  As my neighbor observed, it’s also good that we can watch it on TV and miss the drunks vomiting into the trash cans.  Starting today we can relax until Spring Training starts when, once again, our roads are clogged and restaurants are filled to capacity.  Thankfully, baseball fans seem to be much more sedate than the Phoenix Open attendees.  Hopefully no one comes up with the bright idea to build a bar on third base.

 

 

Bushwhacked at The Ranch Saloon

by Bob Sparrow

Left door restaurant, rt. door saloon/dance hall

A couple of Fridays ago, I felt like I was part of an O. Henry short story, known for their surprise endings. This story actually begins before Christmas of last year when we usually enjoy a great evening of dining and entertainment at Bistangos, one of Orange County’s top restaurants, where Linda’s company, Blue Violet Networks, has their annual Christmas party. It’s a great affair, delicious food, great wine and a gift exchange. Last year, for reasons unknown to me, there was no party. When I learned of this I jokingly told Linda to tell John Paul, the company owner, who has a good sense of humor, that he owes us a dinner. Linda delivered the message and John Paul agreed and a date was set to meet at The Ranch, one of the very best restaurants in Southern California.

The Ranch is an interesting place; the location of this restaurant/saloon/dance hall is on the ground floor of a six-story office building in an industrial area of Anaheim. The building is the headquarters of Extron, an electronics company started and owned by business tycoon Edward Andrews. He loves dancing (He says that the guy that can dance has the best chance to succeed with the girl of his choice) and he loves country music, so the first floor of his office building is divided in half, one side houses a high-end restaurant (Oh yeah, he loves eating good food too) and the other side is home to the biggest and best country western saloon and dance floor in Orange County.

The restaurant is elegantly rustic, in keeping with the country western theme; the food is outstanding (all the produce comes from their own local ranch in Orange Park Acres) and the service is top notch, as are the prices. John Paul, a wine connoisseur, brought a couple of bottles of excellent wine and he and his partner, Linda, and Linda and I enjoyed lively conversations on a myriad of topics and delicious meats – steak, pork chop, lamb chop and braised short ribs – you won’t find bean sprouts and tofu on this menu!

Bushwhacker on the rt., bushwhakee on the left

After dinner we were escorted next door to the saloon and dance floor, where the cover charge was waived and we had a reserved table waiting for us. The dance floor was packed with 20 and 30-somethings dancing to a live band. Edward was right, there were about 40 people on the dance floor and only four of them were men and each had a lovely lady on his arm. I told John Paul that since he bought dinner, I would like to buy the after dinner drinks.  He agreed.

As we were settling into our seats, a server presented us with a drink menu, as we perused it, we were amused by some of the lofty prices. I’m thinking this is a high-end saloon as I pointed out to John Paul the Glenmorangie 1974 single malt Scotch$1,000 for a 1.5 oz glass! The server appeared and Linda and I order a beer and John Paul and Linda each order a glass of whiskey. The second round shortly followed with another glass of whiskey for John Paul and two more beers for us. Linda and I could no longer sit and watch the dancers having all the fun, so we got up and did the ‘Electric Slide’ – we were by far the oldest couple on the dance floor, but we hung in there with those young whippersnappers.

I still hyperventilate when I look at it

It was time to call it an evening and so I asked for the bill. When I first looked at it, I couldn’t see it that well, I thought it read $300, but it was dark and I didn’t have my glasses on. Once I put my glasses on and got some light, I could see that it was not $300, it was $3,000! $3,058.00 to be exact. Eyes wide and heart beating rapidly, I showed it to Linda and looked over to John Paul and said, “You ordered the $1,000 Scotch?” He smiled and nodded, “Yes . . . two of them and Linda had one”. Now my mind was racing, was this some kind of joke or was this John Paul’s way of getting back at me for saying that he owed us a dinner for not having the Christmas party? He kept his word about buying us dinner, but apparently he was going to have the last laugh.  I looked at the bill again and swallowed hard; yes it was $3,058.00 and I did offer to buy the after dinner drinks, so I surreptitiously switched the debit card I had in my hand with a credit card. As I continued to hyperventilate, I kept staring at John Paul . . . really?!! After way too long a pause he cracked a big smile and said, ‘Got ya!’ While Linda and I were out dancing, he got the bartender to print up the bogus bill and our server to present it to me.  I was never so happy to pay the real bill for $94!

In summary it was a very fun evening interrupted only by a few moments of stark terror.  This was a great spoof and fortunately I am able to laugh at myself . . . let’s hope John Paul can too, revenge is going to sweet.

 

 

 

NO SPITTING ALLOWED

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Seems like everyone has the flu these days.  We’ve had dinner dates and golf games cancelled in record numbers the past few weeks – all parties citing the current flu epidemic as the culprit.  I was beginning to think we had just offended a record number of people but it turns out that the flu bug this year is unrelenting.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there’s widespread flu activity from this season’s outbreak in all of the continental U.S. – something that hasn’t happened in the CDC’s 13 years of tracking the spread of influenza.  You know it’s serious when the CDC postpones a briefing on the public health response to a nuclear detonation to instead discuss the response to severe influenza, as happened this past Tuesday.  Tragically, 30 children have died from the flu and the experts believe that number could be doubled due to cases that have gone unreported.  As of this week, thankfully the flu is predicted to peak and the less serious strain will become dominant for the remainder of the flu season.

We all know how to prevent the flu – common sense measures such as getting lots of rest, drinking fluids, and staying away from crowds until the symptoms subside.  I have some friends who have recently been brave enough to travel by plane.  Or as a doctor friend of ours calls them – “flying petri dishes”.  One person has emerged unscathed but everyone else who has flown the flu-ey skies has come down with something close to the bubonic plague.  Sometimes you just can’t help picking up the bug, as careful as you might be.  Me – I’m something akin to Howard Hughes these days.  I touch nothing and no one out in public.  The other day I was in Walgreens behind a woman who appeared to be coughing up her lung.  To make matters worse, she was coughing into her hand, rather than using the suggested “Dracula” method of coughing into one’s elbow.  In any event, when I got to the check-out counter the clerk asked me to punch my telephone number into their keypad.  I asked her why I would do that when Typhoid Mary had just had her germ-ridden fingers all over that same keypad.  The clerk explained that’s why they wipe the keypad off with sanitizer pads every so often.  I pointed out that she had not wiped it since the previous customer had slimed all over it but she just stared at me.  I’m no fool – I learned long ago not to argue with an officious clerk so I decided to forgo my “Walgreens points” and went on my merry, germ-free, way.

But all this flu talk had me thinking about what it must have been like during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918, before Nyquil and Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup were invented.  First off all, it’s hard to comprehend the massive numbers of people world-wide who were infected.  In the two years that this scourge ravaged the earth, a fifth of the world’s population was infected!  The flu infected 28% of all Americans and an estimated 675,000 Americans died from it, ten times as many as in the world war.  In fact, of the U.S. soldiers who died in Europe, half of them (43,000) fell to the influenza virus and not to the enemy.  The effect of so many young people succumbing was that the average life span in the US was depressed by 10 years.  The Spanish flu virus is still considered to be one of the most virulent in history; entire families were wiped out in less than a week after contracting the flu.

By the summer of 1919, the flu pandemic came to an end, as those that were infected either died or developed immunity. In 2008, researchers announced they’d discovered what made the 1918 flu so deadly: a group of three genes enabled the virus to weaken a victim’s bronchial tubes and lungs and clear the way for bacterial pneumonia.  Since then we’ve had further, if less fatal, flu virus outbreaks.   A flu pandemic from 1957 to 1958 killed around 2 million people worldwide, including some 70,000 people in the U.S., and a pandemic from 1968 to 1969 killed approximately 1 million people, including some 34,000 Americans. More than 12,000 Americans perished during the H1N1 (or “swine flu”) pandemic that occurred from 2009 to 2010.

So, there you have it – everything you ever wanted to know about flu and its deadly consequences.  The good news is that for most people it’s a virus and will clear up on its own within a week or two.  Or, as my brother used to advise, sit in bed with a bottle of whiskey at the foot of it.  Drink until you see two bottles.  It may not cure the flu but in the morning you’ll either be better or the hangover will make the flu seem like child’s play.  As for me, I’m wearing my rubber gloves next time I go to Walgreen’s.

 

To Your Health in this New Year

by Bob Sparrow

I’ve had some time over the last couple of weeks to reflect on what a new year really means.  A new year suggests we get to reboot, start over, fix all things from the previous year.  But reality sinks in shortly after the ball drops, the reality that you’re really just continuing the previous year, as nothing has really changed except the date. “Happy New Year”, you tell everyone and they return in kind, and you really mean it and you hope they do too – everyone wants the new year to be happy. But I entered this new year with a mind that was occupied by some not-so-happy events that took place in our neighborhood and family as 2017 came to close.

As some of you know, we’ve lived in a great neighborhood for over 32 years and we’re not even the longest standing members of our ‘hood. Unlike most neighborhoods, we actually know our neighbors, many of them – some 20+ couples on two streets. Our kids have grown up together, we socialize together and we take care of one another. When neighbors are sick or have issues that restrict their mobility, we take turns bringing in dinners, running errands and doing whatever it takes to help the neighbor in need. It’s a great feeling knowing that someone close by has your back – actually a lot of someones.

Because we’re so close, we share in both the joy and the pain of our fellow neighbors and the end of 2017 brought significant pain to three couples. Three men suffered hospitalizing, life-threatening events.  I won’t go into the specific ailments or names of the families involved, but at the end of last year, our neighborhood was reminded of both how important our health is and how quickly things can change. To hear and feel the anguish and fear of the unknown from the spouses of these three men is indeed life changing. The sad news in our neighborhood was compounded by the news that one of our very close relatives also had health issues requiring hospitalization.  We somehow mistakenly believe that really bad things are not going to happen to us, but they do, and it really hits home when it’s family or neighbors or anyone that you love.

Through emails, phone calls, text and face-to-face conversations we have shared amongst ourselves the progress of each of these four people, hoping and praying that all four would successfully come through their individual struggles and be able to return to the life they once knew.

So yes, the ending of last year just flowed into the beginning of this year with the fate of these three men and a close relative on our minds. So forgive me if I take this opportunity to remind as many people as I can how important our health is. Some things we can’t control, like genetics, but some things we can, so please remember:

  • Be thankful for your good health if you have it
  • Never take good health for granted
  • Take better care of yourself
  • Let me share an idea that doesn’t require you to spend thousands on the latest fad diet, or go to a ‘healing’ spa:
    • Diet
    • Exercise
  • Also, get to know your neighbors; there are probably some really nice people just down the street who may need your help, or who might help you in a time of need

Remember, “Life is a one time gift”

 

HUNKA, HUNKA BURNING TRIVIA

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

I was going to start out the new year with all sorts of encouragement about fresh starts, resolutions and what a hopeful year this promises to be.   But a quick glance at the calendar quickly disabused me of any notion of improving or uplifting mankind because today is a significant day – Elvis Presley’s birthday.  All of us of a certain age have been influenced by him, or at the very least, his music.  My favorite movie with him was Blue Hawaii and I choose to remember him as that ukulele-playing, handsome heartthrob.  But the fact is that had he lived he would have been 81 years old today.  Seems hard to imagine Elvis as an old man, adjusting his dentures and screaming “whaaaat?” to his friends and family.  I want to remember him with the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana – died young and that’s how he’ll stay forever.  I thought I knew a fair amount about Elvis until I started doing some research.  Like so much else in my life, I’m a lot more ignorant on the subject than I thought I was.  So…here’s a few little known facts about Elvis to commemorate his birthday.

Elvis was a twin.  Yep – the King of Rock might have been the Prince of Rock.  He was the second son born to his mom and dad but his older brother died at birth.

It’s good he isn’t in school now.  Wood shop was Elvis’s favorite subject in high school.  He didn’t like music that much and only got a guitar when his mom surprised him with one on his birthday.

He wasn’t an instant sensation.  Some of Elvis’s first concerts didn’t go over well, with one reviewer likening him to “a jug of corn liquor at a champagne party.”

Elvis wasn’t big on travel.  He only ever performed outside of the United States three times, and all three times were in Canada. In 1957, he played Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.

“Maria” could have been his big hit record.  Elvis was originally pegged to star as Tony in the musical West Side Story. His manager Colonel Tom Parker nixed the idea, however, and the part went to Richard Beymer.

This could explain his weight gain.  Elvis only ever endorsed one product in his lifetime: Texas-based Southern Maid Doughnuts.

A little dab will do you.  One of the secrets to styling and maintaining his famous hairdo: a combination of Vaseline and rose oil.  I hate to think what that looked like when he was sweating.  While we’re on hair:

Only his hairdresser knew for sure.  Elvis’s natural hair color is brown; he dyed his hair black.

Elvis was his own security squad.  He was a karate black belt.

Where were the candelabras?  The idea for Elvis to wear more flamboyant outfits in concert came from none other than Liberace.

He could have lived in Beverly Hills or Scottsdale.  Elvis went under the knife in the 1970s, receiving a nose job and two facelifts.

He wanted to be the Godfather.  One film part Elvis always wanted to play but was not considered for: Don Corleone in The Godfather. Hard to imagine him making an offer than someone couldn’t refuse.

He must have been referring to Heaven.   Elvis’s last words in public were reportedly spoken to his assistant and concerned an upcoming concert tour: “Billy, son, this is gonna be my best tour ever.”

So, there you have it.  Some little known facts that you can ruminate on as you celebrate Elvis’ birthday.  Heck, at the very least it’s a good excuse to eat some cake.  I’ll just leave you with this quote from Johnny Carson:

“If life was fair, Elvis would still be alive and all the impersonators dead.”

Happy New Year to All and to All a Pop Quiz

So the new year is finally here and if you’re having trouble reading this, you’re getting no sympathy from me as I’m having trouble writing it!  I drank everything I could get my hands on to help me forget the past year filled with  political rancor, ‘fake news’, tweets and sciatica!  The good news about this first week of the new year is that your resolutions are mostly still in tact – ok, some of them.  I know how you all looked forward to pop quizzes when you were in school, so here’s one to clear that head of yours and start the new year off with an educational experience.  Answers below, but don’t start off the new year by cheating!

  1. When was the first New Year’s celebrated?

– 2000 B.C.

– 1 A.D.

– 150 AC/DC

– I don’t remember I was too drunk

  1. What percentage of Americans make New Year’s resolutions?

– Only the top 1%

– All the Millennials

– As many as break them by February

– 45%

  1. Tradition says that the more ____ a person has on New Year’s Eve, the more prosperity he or she will experience the following year.

– Alcohol

– People to kiss

– Leafy greens

– Bologna sandwiches

  1. How many glasses of Champagne will America drink this New Years?

– 3,600

– 36,000

– 36,000,00

– too many

  1. In the last scene of When Harry Met Sally, after they kissed, what song played?

– I’ve Been Cheated

– Auld Lang Syne

– Sally Go Round the Roses

– Make An Ugly Woman You Wife

  1. What is the most common symbol associated with New Years?

– The Grim Reaper

– A baby

– Playboy’s Miss January

– Foster Brooks

  1. What happens if a couple celebrating New Years together do not kiss?

–  He’s not getting lucky

–  They buy more breath mints

–  He’s not only not getting to 1st base, he’s not even getting into the batter’s box

–  They’ll be seeing a divorce attorney in the morning

  1. Typically _____ gather in Time Square on New Year’s to watch the ball drop

– Millennials looking for loose change on the street

– Broadway ticket scalpers

– Muggers and pick pockets

– One million people

  1. What do the words Auld Lang Syne mean?

– Up yours

– Times gone by

– There’s better days ahead

– Good riddance

  1. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, what is the most common object stolen on New Years Eve

– virginity

– wallet

– car

– your soul

  1. 22% of New Year’s frolickers admit to

– Grand theft auto

– Not knowing where they are much less what time it is

– Having their first drink

– Falling asleep before midnight

Answers: 1. 2,000 B.C.; 2. 45%; 3. leafy greens; 4. 36,000,000; 5. Auld Lang Syne; 6. baby; 7. Seeing an attorney in the morning; 8. 1,000,000 people;   9. times gone by; 10. car; 11. falling asleep before midnight

The entire staff here at ‘From A Bird’s Eye View’, wish you a happy and healthy 2018. OK, there is no ‘staff’ here, but Suzanne and I are hoping that this year will be your very best – make it so!

MERRY CHRISTMAS – JUST ADD GIN!

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Today being Christmas Day we assume most of your are either opening presents or sleeping in this morning.  We are too!  So today we share some thoughts about our dad and, as always, share his famous Christmas Ice Cream Gin Fizz recipe.  Wishing you and yours a very happy holiday.

“THROUGH THE YEARS WE ALL WILL BE TOGETHER, IF THE FATES ALLOW…”

A jolly man indeed!

This will be the 16th Christmas without our dad. I miss him just as much this year as I did that very first one. He was a happy, joyful guy, always kind and helpful to others. He was also one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. All year long he embodied the Christmas spirit and when I was very young I thought he even looked like Santa, with his twinkling blue eyes, rosy cheeks and a stomach that shook like a bowl full of jelly. He loved the holidays, welcoming friends and family alike into our home. Our whole family misses his loving spirit but we also recognize we were very lucky to have him as long as we did and are grateful that he left us with so many cherished Christmas memories.

 

“…SO HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS NOW.”

One of Pop’s hallmarks was the Ice Cream Gin fizz he served every Christmas morning. Oh sure, most families had hot chocolate and cider while we were drinking gin. But don’t judge – it has given a roseate hue to many a Christmas morning. We share it in the hopes that you can start your own Christmas memories.  Just keep it away from your Drunk Uncle.

 

POP’S CHRISTMAS ICE CREAM FIZZ

Fill a blender 1/4 full with ice cubes
Add 6 jiggers of gin
Add 4 scoops of French Vanilla ice cream
Add 1 small bottle of soda water (the size you get in a 6-pack)
My brother Bob adds an egg so the white adds some froth, brother Jack doesn’t add an egg. Personally, I’d add it just because you can then claim it’s a protein drink.
Just blend it well and – voila – you have a concoction sure to put a positive spin on everyone and every thing!
Our mom served them in a wine glass with a dash of nutmeg. As we got older we conspired with Pop and ditched the wine glass for a chilled beer mug from the freezer. Saved having to go back for seconds…or thirds.

We wish everyone a Happy Holiday season – we’ll be back in 2018!

THE NORTH POLE: HOTBED OF HARASSMENT!

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Well, children, it’s looking like Christmas may have to be cancelled this year.  Bad behavior abounds at the North Pole and there simply isn’t anyone to make and deliver presents.  It all started with Santa.  Several of his “little helpers” claim that his fingers have been aside things other than his nose.  They have produced videos and photos showing him groping and grasping, despite the girth from his gelatinous belly.  Somehow, he deems himself irresistible despite the food stuck in his snow white beard and the stench arising from his decades-old uniform.  The helpers claim that during their stints at the local mall he has asked them to scout out single suburban moms for him to hit on when he slides down the chimneys in their homes.  It seems that the Jolly Old Man is more like the Dirty Old Man.  He has insisted that they have the wrong guy, but the beard and the red suit make him hard to misidentify.  To complicate matters, Mrs. Claus is no longer around to help Santa prepare toys for his yearly sojourn.  Once she got wind of his extra curricular activities she told him he could get his fat ass into his costume by himself this year and took off for Puerto Vallarta.  Christmas still might have been salvaged if the elves had been able to take over Santa’s duties, but sadly that is not a viable option.

 

It seems the Head Elf has a reputation for hitting on the new intern elves.  He asks them into his office and proceeds to pleasure himself in front of them.  It is known as “The Elf Does Himself” around the toy shop.  He is under the delusion that all women are attracted to his bare body and he is partially right; they say he is the biggest tool at the Pole.  Unfortunately, the other elves began to emulate his behavior and soon the workshop became the very definition of “hostile work environment”.  Toy production suffered because the elves were too busy flirting to get down to making Legos and Mr. Potato Head.  Plus, some of the money that was designated for your hard earned toys was spent on settling law suits.  Still, after all this, there was hope that maybe the reindeer could fill in and pull the sleigh full of toys unchaperoned.  But that was not to be.

 

While Santa and the elves were “busy” in the workshop, the reindeer were playing their own games out in the barn.  Cupid and Vixen took their names literally and were found putting their hooves in inappropriate places.  Prancer and Dancer were performing the strip tease, while Blixen and Donner hosted a floating crap game that landed them in so much debt they ended up in the Reindeer Protection Program.  Who knows where they are?  Dasher and Comet sped out of town, hoping to salvage some shred of dignity.  And we all know that Rudolph has a red nose because he’s blotto half the time and is incapable of steering anything.

So, boys and girls, there will be no Santa delivering toys this year.  But – take heart! – it could be worse.  These characters could be working in the government.