The Snoozeletter @

Roof Garden Hijinx @ 30 Rock Plaza. 

"Second Stay, Roof Garden, Pass It On." [NBC Pages in NYC worked Saturday Night Live in shifts. Sort of. Second Stay meant you were required to stay in the studio for the last half of SNL. Everybody else had to clear out and find some sort of trouble to get into. I can't remember if it was only the supervisory Key Pages who smoked certain substances in the roof garden during the live broadcast. 😉]

The five gardens on Rockefeller Center's building rooftops were part of architect Raymond Hood's original 1930 scheme. Landscape architect Ralph Hancock was hired in 1934 to design the garden on 30 Rockefeller Plaza. The 3/4-acre garden included a bird sanctuary, vegetable garden, rock garden, a children's garden, and the Gardens of the Nations. Over 400 visitors attended the opening day on April 15, 1935. About 87,000 people visited the garden during the next eight months. The entry fee was one dollar, but later went down to forty cents. The "International Garden," a rock garden in the center of the themed gardens, featured a meandering stream and 2,000 plant varieties. The 11th-floor garden was staffed by hostesses who wore costumes, and the plantings lit up at night. When public interest waned, most of the garden was demolished by 1938, and the rock garden was left to dry up, supplanted by flower beds.

30 Rock's roof garden is accessible only to NBC employees, via a not-so-secret stairway. Legend has it that cannabis products were consumed at this location, just after midnight on three Saturday nights per month. Rockefeller Center was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

SNL promos shot in the roof garden, 5/2014, Kenan Thompson & Andy Samberg:
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Summer of '91. 

Synge 1656x1164Cathaoir Synge

It was the fourth day of our Irish holiday, and I was feeling wistful, because we had both come to know that the trip would mark the end of a romance which had been shaky at best.

Colleen was an Irish-American professor of theater, and she had wanted to show me all of her favorite spots in the Gaeltacht, an Irish-language region of the Emerald Isle. One of the places she loved was Inis Meáin, in the middle of the Aran Islands, a small group just off the western coast. Connoisseurs of fine woolen knitted sweaters would know of the area, perhaps preventing its descent into total obscurity.

Getting to this out-of-the-way locale was a bit of a chore - the ferry landed there only on certain days, since it was so far off the beaten track, and the trip included a lengthy stop at another island along the way. While waiting for the tide to advance to the point where it would be possible to dock at our island, we strolled hand-in-hand during the layover at Inis Oirr. It proved to be a bittersweet interlude - there was no use in discussing the end of something we both knew was dead, but we decided to make the best of our month-long journey together.

As we waited for the first mate to ready the small ferryboat for the next part of the voyage, it soon became apparent to both of us that the poor man had not been blessed with good looks. His hunchback, his immense hooked nose, and his manner in scuttling about the boat all reminded us of a certain horror movie. We simultaneously turned to each other, whispered "Igor!" - and shared a much-needed laugh.

The final leg of our trip was stormy and wind-tossed, as if to confirm the Gothic mood suggested by Igor's appearance. I knew we were going to a place where the twentieth century had made very few inroads, and the sense of isolation sharpened as Colleen slowly became seasick. After struggling against it for several minutes in the tiny cabin, she went out on deck to brave the high seas and christen the waves with the remains of her breakfast.

The captain was unsure whether conditions would allow a safe landing on our island, and indeed the docking was a bit dicey - we were the only two passengers to disembark, and the wind rocked the ferry alarmingly. They practically had to throw us up onto the cement pier, and our knapsacks were heaved up after us. We dusted ourselves off and leaned vigorously into the wind. After struggling past some rotting fish remains, we entered a narrow, paved path lined with six- and seven-foot walls of masterfully interlocked stones. We couldn't hear each other speak, but Colleen pointed up ahead, in the general direction of our destination. Through a small crack in the wall on our left, we could see the ruins of a tenth-century church, and I got the unsettling feeling that we had traveled far back in time.

A huge, slobbering canine charged from our right, and I think we both screamed, but an old crone with a toothless grin made motions that the dog was only being friendly. As we all continued to walk between the walls of stone, the wind quieted somewhat, and Colleen made an attempt to converse with the woman. Even though I was next to her, I couldn't hear a word, but it appeared that this dog owner was simply promenading her beast around the perimeter of the island, in what I judged to be near-hurricane conditions. We came to several paved cross-paths, all lined with the walls of stone, and Colleen indicated that we should turn and part ways with the old woman. We all waved goodbye, and I briefly wondered how anyone could find their way around in this confusing maze.

After some hot soup at the bed-and-breakfast cottage (which magically appeared out of nowhere), the wind calmed down and the weather even turned sunny. Colleen and I ventured forth, walking toward the hill of our small island, and she explained the stone walls. Many centuries ago, the place was covered only with rocks, but the first settlers were determined to make soil where none had existed before. So they dragged seaweed out of their fishing nets, carefully placing walls of the all-too-plentiful stones around it, and left it to rot in the intermittent sunshine. Over the course of many years, the fences of stone, crucial for keeping the newly-formed compost from blowing away in the constant windstorms, were extended to form a continuous crosshatch of tiny pastures all over the island. Most of the fields were not much larger than a small house, and the crazy patchwork was broken at irregular intervals with paths connecting various areas. Sheep and other farm animals were ferried in, and an agrarian/fishing culture clung tenaciously to life on this tiny outpost.

Daily life was harsh, and most of their young folk were leaving for the excitement of cities on the mainland or in America, but the ones who remained were amazingly tough and taciturn. They drank silently in the island's one pub, and very infrequently they would sing, if the hour got late enough, and the Guinness held out. Their voices were heartbreakingly beautiful, crooning the ancient songs in the ancient tongue.

Today, Colleen and I were headed toward the far end of the island, where the famous Irish playwright John Millington Synge ("Playboy of the Western World") often withdrew to write. He had a summer residence on Inis Meáin at the turn of the century, to escape the pressures of civilization on the mainland, and his sojourns were proudly documented with several Irish-language signs. One pointed the way to his thatched-roof cottage; another, down the path leading to his favorite writing retreat.

During our walk, Colleen regaled me with stories of her last stay - after one late-night songfest in the pub, she said she found herself face to face with the ghost of Synge, near dawn at the entrance to his old cottage. She was a very down-to-earth and practical woman, and she couldn't logically explain her certainty that she had been in the presence of the great man himself. This streak of mysticism in an otherwise severely rational academic was suddenly appealing, and I suggested that we climb a few rock fences to find a deserted field.

The denizens of the island had become experts in stonemasonry over the millennia, and had built unobtrusive step-stones into the sides of the walls. These steps led up to small notches that a person could fit through, but which would foil any escape attempt by the sheep. After crossing several notches, we found ourselves at the open entrance to a tiny field-inside-a-field. Evidently there had been too many rocks remaining when the farmer had finished his outer wall, so he had erected a smaller inner enclosure, just to clear the area of leftover stones.

No-one was visible for at least a mile, and we were delighted with our own little private "fort," so we ogled each other hungrily as we quickly shed our clothes. But afterward, the flattened wildflowers seemed unbearably melancholy. We dressed while studiously avoiding each other's eyes, and slipped quietly away from the ground we had desecrated.

A few minutes later, we arrived at the end of the path which announced "Cathaoir Synge." It was anticlimactic - a semi-igloo of stones had been erected at the top of a promontory facing across to the outer island of Inis Mór. When Colleen crawled inside Synge's "chair" to steep herself in meditation on the playwright, I climbed a little way further down the cliff and watched the seagulls soaring above the crashing waves two hundred feet below.

I became lost in a cheerless reverie, and didn't notice one gull, inching closer and closer in her weaving flight path across the cliff, until she was almost in my face. I threw my hands up automatically - the bird stalled dead in midair, and wheeled away, startled enough for the two of us. I kept an eye on her, and after a few minutes she was back, at a more comfortable distance. I extended my hands again, partly to reassure myself and to make light of my earlier shock. She executed the same stall-and-wheel maneuver. When she returned a third time, we each played our parts again, and I began to suspect that I might be too near an egg-filled nest which she was protecting. So I backed off to the top of the cliff, but the gull followed...

As I walked from one side of the bluff to the other, it became obvious that I was drawing her away from the comfortable soaring of the windy updrafts into a relatively calm area behind the crest. She was working harder to fly, trying to continue the game we had started, and I gradually realized that I wasn't threatening her nest - she just wanted to play! To test this, I climbed back down to my original position on the cliff, and she moved a little further away, unconcerned. If anything, it seemed as if she was grateful that I had moved back into the updrafts, where it was somewhat easier for her to stay aloft. She lined herself up for another approach, I threw my hands skyward at the appropriate moment, and she stalled and wheeled. She was just a few feet away - close enough so I could see the energy she was investing to play the game. She exerted twice the effort of the other seagulls, who were lazily banking and circling as the wind took them. But she seemed to enjoy it, and I was having a grand time participating in a simple entertainment which this member of another species was generously bestowing upon me.

We continued for twenty or thirty minutes, until I became aware that Colleen was snapping pictures of us from the Cathaoir. I smiled up at her, she smiled at me, and our sadness was mended. I climbed back to the top, took Colleen's hand, and returned to the path, with the seagull drifting close behind. As we walked, I apologized to the gull for ending our game, and earnestly explained why she couldn't follow us back home. Colleen gifted us both with gales of laughter. [first publication in Dublin] [Substack]

Guinness 682x419Ring of Kerry, Dingle Peninsula:

Behold a typical scene in an ambitious campaign to infiltrate the secret pub culture of western Ireland (native rituals dictate inhaling vast quantities of a thick brownish health shake). In the Gaeltacht, we find our hero reeling from the doorway of a local establishment, out like a carp.

Dan Foley's Pub, Main Street, Annascaul, County Kerry ~ street view ~ postcard

Blarney Stone 957x643The Blarney Stone... 90 feet above the ground, embedded in the outside of a crumbling parapet at the top of Blarney Castle, which dates from 1446. You must climb several decrepit spiral staircases in order to kiss the ancient bluestone. You lie down and arch your back over the edge while a guard keeps you from falling. You grab onto two iron rails to provide some relief from the vertigo, and as you look up at the ground from your upside-down position, you briefly wonder if there's any truth to the rumors that the guards piss on the stone at night, after the tourists go home. But you kiss the stone anyway, because (1) you've traveled such a long way, and (2) it will hopefully result in an interesting photo, and (3) your friends will enjoy making fun of you for kissing a piss-drenched rock.

The Blowup In Amsterdam

Colleen and I covered lots of ground in Ireland: I wrote our names in the sand at Inch Strand, we swam with Fungie, the Dingle Dolphin, we crawled into the 5,200-year-old passage tomb at Newgrange, we visited William Butler Yeats' summer home in the 15th-century castle at Thoor Ballylee, and we admired the Autograph Tree (Yeats, Synge, George Bernard Shaw, Seán O’Casey and others) at Coole Park.
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But things really got out of hand when we made a side trip across the Channel to Holland. Colleen was giving a paper at an academic conference, and I was helping her edit it. We invited my old Danish buddy, Jørgen, to join us in Amsterdam. Sparky and I had made some powerful memories a decade earlier in southern France, and we were eager to get funky in Amsterdam. But our ideas of a good time (touring the Heineken brewery and attending a concert by Al Di Meola) clashed dramatically with Colleen's ideas. So Sparky and I had our fun, and Colleen tried to punish us the next day. Luckily, the return flight to America was scheduled for that week, because Amsterdam really confirmed that a breakup with Colleen was best for the mental health of both of us.

Sparky and I, however, are friends to this day. 😉
NBC Pins. 

I have no idea how this lovely velour box o' pins came into my possession.

THROUGH THE YEARS - The National Broadcasting Company
Commemorating seventy years of broadcasting excellence. Top row, from left to right: 1943 - First TV logo, 1954 - Stylized xylophone and mallet, 1956 - First seen in living color, "The Bird" is an 11-feathered Peacock, 1959 - The animated logo, "The Snake," ran at the end of programs. Next row, from the left: 1975 - An abstract "N" featured red and blue trapezoids, 1980 - "The Proud N" added a modified 11-feathered Peacock, 1986 - The current logo, "The Peacock," is among the world's most recognized logos. NBC Historic Pin Set, Limited Edition 000502 of 10,000.

LATER: This certificate just fell out of the sleeve box. [Tap images to enlarge.]

STILL LATER: I do remember, however, that when the NBC Pages noticed the 1980 Peacock had his nether regions truncated, we started calling him "The NBC Pea." 😉
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Megaliths, standing stones and other rocky protuberances. 

Bucket List: Haven't you ever wanted to visit these ancient monuments? I have...

Newgrange, Poulnabrone/*, Castlestrange/*, Kenmare/*, Ardgroom/*, Drombeg/*, Eightercua/*, Rollright/*, Avebury/*, Stonehenge/*, Loanhead/*, Calanais/*, Brodgar/*, Stenness.
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Clipboard History Saves The Day! 

Anyone who used Windows prior to 2018 probably knows the fear of losing text or images that had been Cut (Ctrl+X) with the intention of Pasting (Ctrl+V) elsewhere. If you Copied (Ctrl+C) something else before Pasting the original Clipboard contents, then your first text or image would be permanently gone.

Now, you can simply press Windows Logo Key + V to access your Clipboard History. Just hover your mouse over the right side to Scroll and find the text or image you want. Then Click it to Paste into the open application. You can retain up to 25 items, 4 MB per item. You can also Pin items by tapping the ellipsis (...) next to the item. A Pinned item will remain, even when you Reboot or tap "Clear all." If Clipboard History isn’t on, use your taskbar search field 🔍 to find Clipboard Settings and switch the toggle to On.
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Turkey Trot/Walk/Crawl. 

I've been goofing off for WAY too long. My sedentary lifestyle was annoying me. I had been an active runner for two or three decades, starting when I was 14 years old. I ran track and cross-country in high school, and later, a couple of marathons. After that, I just ran... to keep the weight off, to get high on the endorphins, whatever.

But it was hard on my feet. Before my teens, I was diagnosed with fallen arches. I wore orthotic shoe inserts off and on, but they really didn't help. After 25 years, I started limping, during my daily run. Then I gradually tapered off with the jogging. I rationalized it by telling myself I was nearing 50, I didn't have enough time, it was injuring me, etc. The simple truth was this: the activity that had brought joy and meaning to most of my life was no longer fun. Worse, it HURT.

Then I developed a life-threatening allergy. The docs suppressed my immune system with a corticosteroid, while simultaneously stopping my body's insane overmanufacturing of histamines, with H1 and H2 blockers. I was forced to carry around a lifesaving epinephrine syringe, which you may remember from the John Travolta/Uma Thurman overdose scene in "Pulp Fiction." If my body went into anaphylactic shock, I needed to inject myself, to stretch out my few remaining minutes of consciousness and delay the inevitable, so I could get myself to an Emergency Room before keeling over dead.

Unfortunately, the steroid blew me up like a balloon. I even had to get surgery for an umbilical hernia, a few years later. So now, I was facing my 73rd birthday, gimpy and stout, with innards that were held together by scotch tape and spackle. I couldn't spend a long time on my feet, much less run. I was lucky I could WALK, ferchrissake. That's when my active-adult, 55+ community (a scandal-plagued nest of MAGA vipers nicknamed "Seizure World" by John McCain 😉) started promoting a 5K/1mi Turkey Trot, and I thought it might be a good excuse to get me off my f*cking a**. Plus, I liked the logo design, and wanted a t-shirt. Just between you and me, t-shirts have been a big motivation for lots of the batsh*t-crazy crap I've done in my life.

Today was the ordeal... er, event. I didn't trot or jog in the Turkey Trot. I walked fast... well, medium fast... okay, it was pretty d*mn slow. But I walked a mile, and snagged my t-shirt. Along with a participation medal. I'm surprisingly attached to that giveaway crackerjack prize. It means more to me than most of the medals I collected during my testosterone-fueled competitive years.
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Now that I'm old and fat and slow, I often daydream about the Glory Daze, when I wasn't:
1) Boston YMCA Indoor 600 Yard Open, January 1969, 3rd, 1:22.6
2) Western Mass HS Class AA Mile Championship, June 1969, 3rd, 4:42.9 (qualified for State Meet)
3) Michigan State University Intramural Mile Championship, June 1970, 2nd, 4:57.2
4) NYC Marathon, October 1976, 761st/2090 starters, 3:28:01 (first 5-borough marathon)
++++More pix on Facebook ~~ Manny Hanny Corp Challenge, 1980, 5th, NBC Running Team.
Prostrate, Sipowicz, Lycopene. 

Ladies, avert your eyes. 😉

Andy Sipowicz (played by Dennis Franz on NYPD Blue) complained frequently about his "prost(r)ate," to comic effect. The real "prostate" is a small, walnut-shaped organ below the bladder and in front of the rectum in men. When it becomes enlarged - which occurs in only eight percent of men aged 31 to 40, but in EIGHTY percent of men over the age of 80 - some annoying things begin to happen: (1) urinary frequency goes up, (2) increased urinary urgency, (3) trouble starting urination, (4) weak or interrupted urination, (5) dribbling at the end of urination, (6) frequent urination during sleep periods, (7) urinary leakage. Among other things. Michael Douglas, in The Kominsky Method, was also dealing with BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) issues, and the show attempted to offer treatment suggestions. Over the past few months, I've tried Flomax, Beta Sitosterol, Saw Palmetto, Stinging Nettle, and Pumpkin Seed, but nothing has helped... until I discovered Lycopene - - which is derived from tomatoes. Not a cure-all, but helpful. Full disclosure: I have no affiliation with the Lycopene company. I'm just posting this admittedly subjective opinion as a public service.

UPDATE 1: Three to five milliliters (one teaspoon) of urine can get trapped in a "U-bend" in a man's urinary system, just outside the pelvic floor muscles. This is particularly common in older men. Bulbar urethral massage, also known as urethral milking, is usually advised for treating post-micturition dribble (PMD), where trapped urine leaks out after men have been to the bathroom. The technique involves placing the fingertips three finger-widths behind the scrotum and gently massaging in a forward and upward direction towards the base of the penis. This pushes the urine forward into the urethra, and should be done twice. By pressing underneath the scrotum, almost around towards the anus, you can elevate that U-bend to a flat line and therefore allow the release of that urine out of the penis. One British doctor tells 'blokes,' "If you do this, we’ll have you back in beige trousers." [Also: Kegel exercises]

UPDATE 2: Recently, the possibility of treating PMD with a phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor (PDE5) has been suggested. The four oral PDE5 inhibitors commercially available in the U.S. (w/prescription) (online?) are sildenafil (Viagra, Pfizer), tadalafil (Cialis, Eli Lilly), vardenafil (Levitra and Staxyn, Bayer/GlaxoSmithKline), and a more recently approved drug, avanafil (Stendra, Vivus). These pills also treat erectile dysfunction or sexual impotence. Yep, two birds, one stone. 😉

UPDATE 3: I recently received one of the best anecdotes via DM. This guy recently had a few minor issues with PMD (Post-Micturition Dribble) and wanted to buy some sanitary pads for a little peace of mind. After a shopping expedition to the local Walmart, he exclaimed, "So many choices! Ultra-Thin! Maxi! Overnight! Size Numbers! Flower Scent! Fragrance Free! Biodegradable Bamboo! Reusable Charcoal! Anti-Bunch! Flexi-Wings! Do the d*mn things fly?!" He said he spent more than twenty minutes, looking over the dozens of products and carefully examining each package to make a selection: "How do women choose?! I was nearly brain dead, by the time I grabbed a small plastic-wrapped cube of pads and headed for the checkout. That's when I noticed a couple of teenage girls, who had been staring at me from the corner of a nearby aisle. Their smirking looks, with just a touch of disdain and incredulity, were priceless. They made the whole exhausting process worthwhile!"

UPDATE 26Jan2024: I eventually found that Lycopene wasn't as effective as I had hoped. I'm now trying the snake-oil remedies: first which is shilled by a urologist, Dr. Jacob Khurgin. Next up on my radar is which comes in a gummy and has a funny story about a diaper on a plane. 😉 [And now, King Charles has joined the club.]

UPDATE 25Feb2024: Blood in urine, lotsa pain and urgency. Got a 2-day reprieve for sleeping from Phenazopyridine HCL and an emergency appointment with a urologist. (Also, a friend said D-Mannose is effective for UTIs.)