Friday, January 25, 2008

Bonus Blog

Not really. I just wanted to sound generous. I didn’t intend to post another blog before I went away, but I really wanted to pass this along. It’s about The Lone Ranger. Wait, don’t go! It’s really good. Even if you don’t like cowboys, I promise you, it’s worthwhile. If you do like cowboys, it’s yippee-ki-yo-ki-yay.

Ken Levine ( tells me there are ways you can divide your blog into chapters and post them even when you’re away. Give me a break, I can barely do this. If it’s too long, divide it into chapters yourself, by stopping at certain places and then reading some more later. If I were you, I’d read it straight through. I did, and I really enjoyed it.

By the way, do any of you know any trendsetters? Trendsetters, movers and shakers, celebrities in rehab with time on their hands? If you do, I’d love you to tell them about this blog. My being away would be the perfect time for them to catch up, and then, they could tell people under their powerful sway to check me out. If you know any such people, or just people with big mouths, please apprise them of my existence. I’m looking for a groundswell here. A million more of you, and I can sell ads.

Okay, that’s done. And now, saddle up!


The Lone Ranger was not a real person, but I still felt bad when he died.

How can a fictional character die? He can’t. I mean, he can die fictionally, like when the Cavendish gang comes back and finishes the job they bungled at Bryant’s Gap. (Note: That’s how a wounded survivor became The Lone Ranger.) But fictional characters are fictional. And being fictional, there’s no way they can actually die.

And yet…

For me, the Lone Ranger died with the announcement that Clayton Moore, the actor most closely identified with the role, had passed away. I know he wasn’t really the Lone Ranger; he was just an actor, though, like me but more so, he seemed to have trouble understanding the distinction. Admiring what the Lone Ranger stood for, Clayton Moore took great pride in playing the role. Moore fused with his character so completely that when the job ended, he continued to wear the mask. He just couldn’t let go. When lawyers finally made him stop, Clayton Moore reluctantly took off the mask, replacing it with a pair of giant sunglasses. He looked sad and silly, the Lone Ranger of Malibu.

But I understood. That character was important to him, not just as the role of a lifetime, but because of what it represented. Like me, Moore hated the idea of a world without the Lone Ranger.

Being a truthful sort, I can’t ignore the possibility that maybe it wasn’t the passing of the Lone Ranger that hit me so hard, but the inevitable passing of time. I wonder sometimes if we love the things from our youth less because they were special, than because we were young when we experienced them. Aging is inevitable, and it doesn’t feel altogether great, especially knowing that, in the end, we’ll all end up exactly like the guy who played the Lone Ranger.

No! It was special! It was The Lone Ranger.

Saturday morning. All’s quiet. Suddenly, a staccato trumpet pierces the air:







Shivers. An exhilarating call to arms. If you weren't already in front of your T.V. when you heard it, you cam a-runnin'.

I think about how that stirring theme was selected. I imagine some anonymous "gofer" dispatched to some radio station's music library (The Lone Ranger first appeared on radio) to find something "cowboy." They come back with some music.

“What’d you find, Kid?”

“This thing by Rossini seems okay.”

“Italian! I said cowboy!”

“It’s pretty good.”

“It is, huh? Okay, I’ll listen. But if you’re wasting my time…”

He puts on the record, and waits.





“…My God! That’s it!!!”

It was perfect, the cowboy-theme equivalent of hitting the motherlode. Then, inspired by the music, or just because that’s what they did on radio, an anonymous scriptwriter sits down and pens this classic narration:

“A fiery horse with the speed of light…”

Whoa, let’s stop for a second. “A fiery horse with the speed of light.” Can you imagine? The speed of sound wasn’t fast enough; this horse had the speed of light. That’s a fast horse!

“…a cloud of dust…”

Of course, a cloud of dust. He’s traveling at the speed of light.

“…and a hearty ‘Hiyo, Silver!’”

Okay, there’s genius. The writer invented a word. “Hiyo.” It could have been “Giddyup, Silver!” or “Ride, Silver!” or “Let’s go, Silver!” No. It needs something better.

“Hiyo, Silver!”

And as if that weren’t enough…


Music, music, music. The narration continues:

“With his faithful Indian companion, Tonto…”

That’s right, “companion.” Tonto was a functioning associate.

“…this daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains fought for justice in the southwestern United States…”

You see that? Not just “daring”, but “daring” and “resourceful.” Anybody can be daring, that’s just taking chances. But he was resourceful too. He tried things. And if one thing didn’t work, he’d try something else. Sometimes, he’d adopt disguises, his saddlebags holding not just provisions and silver bullets but a “Dude” outfit and a fake beard.

And “daring and resourceful” were the tip of the iceberg. The man had a code. He even wrote it down, not for himself – he already knew it – but to inspire others.

For me, the code filled an enormous hole in my experience. My Dad died when I was six, which means I missed out on important lessons. Dads tell you things, directly and indirectly; piece it together, you got a code. I never had that. So I plugged the gap with the next best thing – a father-surrogate who fought for justice in the southwestern United States. From a code standpoint, at least, the Lone Ranger was my Dad.

Courage, honor, decency, respect for the weak and helpless, impossible to live up to, no question, but it was something to shoot for. Only the Lone Ranger could pull off the whole thing. And he had help from the writers.

“Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear...”

“Yesteryear.” Now there’s a word. What does it mean? It means yesterday, plus a hundred and fifty years. The “days of yesteryear” were exactly as described – “thrilling.” Why were they thrilling? Because…

“The Lone Ranger rides again!”

Not anymore. He died with Clayton Moore. Sure, there are reruns, from when he used to ride again. But that only makes things sadder, your late Uncle Harry, kibitzing at a videotaped picnic.

Over the years, the spirit of the Lone Ranger has faded, his code of honor replaced by the flimsier message of personal fulfillment. For those who remember, all that’s left is the challenge to the best parts of ourselves and the way it made us feel.

Adios, Kemo Sabe.

Goodbye, yesteryear.

Hiyo, Silver.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Secret Of Life


Once again, to newcomers, for whom it will not be “once again”, just once, take a look at my first blog to find out who I am. I know there’s an “About Me” feature, but mine’s blank, due to technological incompetence.


Here’s the blog I meant to write the last time but I got sidetracked by a story about Oprah Winfrey.

As I mentioned, next week, I’m off to a spa in Mexico where guests eat healthy and exercise and I eat healthy and nap. They call it the Ranch, and it’s been around since 1940, though it’s continually being expanded and refurbished. That’s an odd word, “refurbished.” You never hear the non-“re” version. Furbished.

“I got my house furbished.”

“You mean re-furbished.”

“No, I just did it once.”

Anyway, I mentioned that I basically go to the Ranch to hang out, but the Ranch, or at least its location, has another powerful draw. It’s a very spiritual place. What do I mean by “spiritual”? I have no idea. I’m hardly an expert on spirituality. If it were up to me, I’d designate Maple Leaf Gardens a spiritual place. (That’s where my favorite team used to play hockey. I’m Canadian. It matters.)

The Ranch sits directly below Mount Cuchima, which has been officially designated one of a small number of sacred mountains in Mexico. You can actually feel the vibrations emanating from it, like at Stonehenge and the Western Wall, only these ones are in Spanish.

Here’s something that’ll drive you away. Ever since I’ve been going to the Ranch, I’ve seen, um…I hesitate because I know how crazy this sounds…okay, here goes. As I take my only Ranch exercise of the day, the morning hike, I have seen a Mariachi band, eleven members strong, strung out along the crest of Mount Cuchima, and I have heard them sing Mariachi-flavored melodies directly and exclusively to me.

See yuh.

I have seen them, nobody else has seen them, and they only sing to me. I’m leaving it

Okay, one song.

Mr. Pomerantz is on the trail…
Mr. Pomerantz is looking pale…
He seems to be ill
As he climbs up the hill
Mr. Pomerantz is o-on the trail.

It sounds better with the music in the background. And me on the trail. Looking pale.

It’s not just the mountain that’s spiritual, it’s also the people who work on the Ranch. Maybe they catch it from the mountain, I don’t know how “spiritual” works. But I do know Pedro. Pedro, recently retired, was a massage therapist at the Ranch for almost fifty years, and he never lost his powerful hands. Pedro once told me he and his wife had fourteen children. When he asked me how many I had, I said two. Then Pedro said three words I’ve kept with me for thirty years. He said:

“Better than nothing.”

On another visit, I was told there was an old Indian living on Ranch property. I can’t tell you how I feel about Indians, except we have an affinity, they and I. If you looked at my living room, you’d see a lot of Indian paraphernalia, from Edward Curtis photographs to a metal paint box filled with Indian “medicine.” It’s not like, I want to be an Indian, there are people like that. I just feel a connection.

So when I discovered an sheet announcement that Chief Silver Raven, sometimes called Grandfather Raven, would be sharing his secret of life outside Pinetree Gym, Wednesday at noon, I was understandably excited. The talk conflicted with lunch, but I didn’t care. I’d always wanted to know the secret of life. And if an Indian was delivering the message, I was certain it would be true.

Waits of anticipation seem to take forever, but finally, it was Wednesday. As noon neared, I sought out the location of Pinetree Gym. I’d visited the Ranch more than twenty-five times, but, having never taken an exercise class, I had no idea where it was. I then headed to Pinetree, walking at an uncharacteristically rapid clip, a pace that said, “Secret of life, here we come!”

We were a small group, three or four. Seekers of truth, willing to blow off the tofu quesadilla Lunch Special for the secret of life. Finally, in the distance, we saw dust being kicked up along the oncoming path. Somebody was heading our way. Was it Chief Silver Raven?

No. It was a Ranch staffer. She had come to announce that Chief Silver Raven had been delayed. “Come back at three.”

A minor glitch. No problem. Wait a second! I had a manicure at three. I immediately called the Beauty Shop to re-schedule, but they were all booked up. I had a conflict:

Manicure – secret of life.

I chose secret of life.

I return at three, even more excited than before. This was it! In a few minutes, I’d be totally enlightened

Footsteps approaching. Is it the Chief? No. Ranch staffer, with another announcement. Chief Silver Raven would not be coming. Earlier in the day, the chief had dropped a rock on his foot and he’d been taken to San Diego for x-rays.

That was it. No secret of life. My guru was a klutz.

On Saturday, I leave for the Ranch again. The Chief is long gone, but who knows, maybe somebody else knows the secret of life. Maybe it’s something you’re supposed to figure out for yourself. Or, maybe it was something I’d already heard.

From Pedro.


I’ll be back on Monday, February Fourth. Feel free to miss me. February the Fourth is my birthday; I consider my birthday a holiday, but we still get our mail. The scary thing is this is the oldest I’ve ever been. And I know it can’t last forever.
Can it?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Oprah Mystery

Welcome, Newcomers. I’m Earl Pomerantz. If you want to know more about me, don’t bother checking the “About Me” thing, I don’t know how that works. Instead, take a look at my introductory blog, “Welcome.” Sorry for the inconvenience; you’re paying the price for my incompetence.

I hope you enjoy my blog and stick around long enough for me to get good at it.

And now, this.
I’ll be gone next week. I’m spending the week at a spa in Tecate, Mexico, a place where people go to eat healthy and exercise. I go to eat healthy and not exercise. The Ranch, as they call it, offers rigorous Men’s and Women’s exercise programs, which I generally ignore. I’ve developed my own personalized Men’s program: Men’s Hammock, Men’s Bath and Men’s Nap. I’ve been visiting the Ranch regularly for thirty years, and I’ve taken, maybe, six classes. Most of those were something called restorative yoga, which is pretty much napping with strangers.

Why do I go there? To read, to relax and to meet interesting people. I once met the late Texas political satirist Molly Ivins at the Ranch. What a treat. I told her I was there alone, because my wife didn’t like the Ranch as much, since higher rates had priced out the more interesting clientele of librarians and teachers. Molly replied – read this with a Texas accent – she said, “Tell your wahfe thet teachers still come heah in the summah when it’s cheap.”

I also met Oprah at the Ranch, before she was famous. I have a picture of her somewhere, wearing a bright yellow sweatshirt and a haloing Afro. At the time, she was doing a local show in Chicago.

Interesting story, hopefully not just to me. During the early days of that visit, Oprah, her friend, Ellen, and I made friends and hung out together. A little bookkeeping here: the Ranch requires you to sign up for a weeklong stay, Saturday to Saturday. Everyone stays the whole week, the exception being guys who break their collarbones showing off for women during volleyball games. For everyone else, it’s Saturday to Saturday. I mention that, because it’s important to the story, which now continues.

Tuesday afternoon, I’m engaged in my standard daytime recreation, napping in the lounge, when somebody wakes me up. It’s Oprah. I remember not looking my best at that moment, eyes half open, and nap-drool dribbling from the corner of my mouth. It turns out Oprah had woken me up to say goodbye. She was leaving. I was too out of it to ask why. I hugged her, and said, “Goodbye, Oprah”, but having met very few Oprahs in my life, I pronounced it “Aw-prah”, like the place where they sing in high voices. She immediately corrected me. “It’s Oh-prah.” Then she left.

I didn’t understand it. Nobody leaves the Ranch on Tuesday, why had Oprah? One thought came to mind. There weren’t a lot of black guests at the Ranch that week; in fact, Oprah was the only one. Had someone perhaps said something that made her feel, I don’t know, in the minority? Had I? Oprah’s departure left me sad and confused. Even Ellen seemed to have no idea why she’d left.

When I came home, I told my family the story, not because Oprah was famous – she wasn’t then – but because I’d liked her and her abrupt departure was a big mystery. Why did Oprah leave early?

Flash Forward fifteen years. I'm serious. Fifteen.

Our family’s in the habit of taking vacations during the Christmas Week and my wonderful stepdaughter, Rachel, an avid “Oprah” fan, tapes the show when she’s away. So, fifteen years after my Oprah Mystery experience, we’re back from our Christmas vacation, and I get a phone call. It’s Rachel, all excited. “I know why Oprah left the Ranch early!” Rachel had been screening her taped “Oprahs” and Oprah had related the story on her show.

Here’s what happened. It seems Oprah had entered into a weight-losing contest with a friend and she’d signed up for the Ranch to help her shed the pounds. Then, on that fateful Tuesday, Oprah received a call from Steven Spielberg, saying he wanted her to appear in his movie, “The Color Purple.” The catch was he wanted her the size she was, the big size. Thrilled by this incredible career opportunity, Oprah immediately abandoned her weight-losing activities and bolted the Ranch.

So there it was. The mystery was solved.

After fifteen years, I finally knew the reason Oprah had left, And it wasn’t me! In fact, when she related the story on the air, Oprah didn’t even mention me. That hurt a little, but since mentioning me might have included the drool situation, I figure I pretty much broke even. It was a relief after fifteen years to find out why Oprah had left, and an even greater relief to know it was nothing I’d said. Since I never heard from Oprah again, I was concerned she might be holding a grudge.

That’s interesting. I just wrote about famous people at the Ranch, which is not the story I intended to tell. Does that happen sometimes in blogs? You think you’re going to tell one story and end up writing something else? This never happened when I wrote for sitcoms. You told the story you agreed to tell, or they didn’t pay you the money they agreed to pay. Oh, well. I guess I’ll write what I meant to write today, tomorrow. And today, while I’m on the subject, I’ll finish with another story about celebrity.

I had broken from my regular routine of hammock, nap and bath and scheduled a massage. The masseur’s name was Caesario, who, like most of the staff, was a resident of nearby Tecate. There was little conversation for the first twenty minutes beyond “Turn over, please” and “Not so hard.” Then, to my surprise, Caesario offered a non massage-related comment:

“You remind me of someone.”

That’s interesting, I thought. The Ranch catered to many celebrities – politicians, movie stars, the rich, the famous, some of them quite attractive. Which one of these illustrious luminaries, I wondered, did I remind him of? So I asked him.

“Who do I remind you of?”

Caesario replied:

“You remind me of somebody from town.”

I'll talk to you tomorrow.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Report From the Picket Line

Welcome, or welcome back, as the case may be.

This is my second posting. If you new guys want to know a little about me, don’t click on “About Me.” I don’t know how to used that. Instead, take a look at my first posting, which, since this is my second posting, should be one posting back. I hope it’s there. I have no idea what I’m doing.

Okay, so here’s the second one. Thanks for showing up.


One thing about writers is we never have control. We write something and that’s it. They buy it, they don’t buy it, they buy it and change it, they buy it and feed it to their cat, and if comes out at all, the audience gets to decide “Yes” or “No.” It’s a writer’s lot. No control. And, as a nod to the late great Rodney Dangerfield, I respectfully add, no control at all.

Now we’re on strike. No control again. And by that I don’t mean about the contract battle. I’m talking about what really matters to the foot soldiers in the operation – the picketing assignments.

First, they send me to Manhattan Beach. Manhattan Beach was beautiful. A lovely studio you could walk around, easy parking, a Starbucks across the street where they’d let you use the bathroom – perfect. A week at Manhattan Beach, and they close down the picketing there and send me to Sony.

No control.

At Sony, you could still walk around the studio and I did. Jay Tarses, a wonderful writer and angry walker, told me once around the studio was one-point-six miles. Why does the walking around part matter? Because, God forbid, if strikers waving signs outside their windows doesn’t bring the studios to their knees, at least you get exercise. As a picketing venue, Culver City was no Manhattan Beach – less Gelson’s and Trader Joe’s, more garden pottery and Kragen’s auto parts, and the Starbucks was further way – but it was still pretty good.

Just before Christmas, they closed down the picketing at Sony and sent me to Fox.

No control.

Now, just from curiosity, a couple of weeks earlier, I had visited the Fox picketing venue, where I discovered that someone had generously sent their picketers a huge carton of sandwiches from Whole Foods. When I returned to Sony the next day, my report to my comrades was a mixture of wonder and bitterness, akin to…

“Treblinka has blintzes.”

But now, our Sony days were over. We were at Fox, “we” meaning myself and my friend, Paul, who does the driving to the picketing sites. I don’t drive well. Sometimes, my vision problems will lead me to brake for no reason. I’ve also been known to slow down to think. My wife will not let me drive her anywhere, with one exception: when she’s had some kind of minor surgery and can sit in the passenger seat wrapped in the protective haze of residual anesthetic.

Picketing at Fox was a definite letdown. First off, there were never sandwiches again. Second, and more importantly, it’s not the kind of studio you can walk around. Fox doesn’t have sides or a back, just a front. The rest is Century City, and we’re not picketing them. What picketers at Fox are required to do is to walk along in front of the studio about a hundred feet, then turn around and walk back. That’s the whole thing – the entire picketing route – a hundred feet. The turnaround points are marked by two little, plastic megaphones, one at each end. They’re like safety cones, only they’re blue and they’re six inches high.

It wasn’t the same. Picketing at Fox meant “So long” one-point-six miles, “Hello” walk up, around the cone, walk back, around the other cone, walk up, around the cone...” for three hours. It was a totally joyless trudge. We might as well have been wearing leg irons.

Our decision to take action grew out of a boredom-busting conversation about movies, a conversation leading ultimately to “The Great Escape.” That’s where we got our idea. Yes, the trudge was soul-crushingly short. But did it have to be that short? We decided it didn’t. Drawing on the classic “Great Escape” tunnel-digging sequence – where they hid the dug-out dirt in their pants, then surreptitiously dumped it outside – every time we reached the outer boundary of the trudge, Paul or I would subtly give the little blue megaphone market a little nudge in a lengthening direction. Not far, a few inches. We’d come back around, another nudge, each time, edging the marker a tiny bit further from its mate. It wasn’t always a nudge. Sometimes, we’d “accidentally” knock the cone over and carefully set it back up…a little further away.

In twenty minutes, we’d extended the walk, I don’t know, six feet. Nobody stopped us. Nobody said, “What are you doing?” We felt almost giddy. We were extending the walk. But more importantly…

We were taking control!

Then Paul thought of something. Maybe there was a reason the cones had been set up close together. Maybe they were strategically set up to keep the picketers bunched together, so when people passed by, they’d see the tightly packed line, providing the impression of “That’s some crowd!” Maybe by extending the trudge, we’d unwittingly stretched the line out, creating gaps and weakening, if not the strikers’ resolve, at least its picket line representation.

Our spirits plummeted. In an innocent effort to extend the walk, we had inadvertently damaged the Cause. We felt ashamed. Our thoughts went to “Bridge on the River Kwai.” What had we done?

We immediately reversed our actions. As we passed the cones, we nudged them closer together, eventually returning them to their original positions. Not satisfied with merely making amends, I also walked unnaturally close to the picketer in front of me, a signal to onlookers that there were no gaps in our picket line, or in our resolve.

Paul and I had been failures in our sorry effort take control. Then again, as I recall, they weren’t that successful in “The Great Escape” either.

Okay, so Blog Number Two – in the books. If you enjoyed any of this, tell you friends. If you didn’t, tell your enemies. At this point, I don’t care who I get.

I’ll be back soon. I may not be able to post every day; then again, as I gain experience I may. I don’t know if bloggers do a lot of rewriting, but I do. That’s my way. I just want it to good.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008



I’m Earl Pomerantz. I used to write for television. I was pretty good.

Since I’m not technically skilled – without the generous help of Ken Levine I wouldn’t even have gotten this far – I haven’t included an “About Me.” If you’re interested, you can look me up on "IMDB." I’m proud of my credits, except perhaps for one. I acted in a movie called "Cannibal Girls." Pretty girls pick up hitchhikers, lure them home promising certain enticements – I can’t remember what they were, though I remember the pretty girls didn’t button their shirts all the way up. After serving us a sumptuous banquet, the pretty girls kill us and eat us. I can’t recommend "Cannibal Girls", since I haven’t seen it all the way through. I was the first one to get hacked to pieces and eaten, and since the movie to that point was terrible and disgusting, I’ve no incentive to watch the rest of it. Once in a very long while, "Cannibal Girls" is shown on a cable station in my hometown of Toronto, after which, like clockwork, I receive a residual check for eleven cents. That’s eleven cents Canadian money, which used to be nine cents American money but now, with the plummeting American dollar, it’s twelve cents. All told, over the years, I must have raked in close to a dollar.

What’s this blog going to be about? Well, for one thing, I like to tell stories about things that happened to me. For example, when I was nine years old, I was sent to summer camp without being told I was going. So there’s that. In 1967, I lived in London where I went to acting school, while surviving as a substitute teacher who had no idea how to teach and later, as a toy wrapper at Harrod’s department store, where I had a boss from Glasgow whose accent was so thick, the entire time I was there, I didn’t have the slightest clue what he was telling me to do. I also met the princess of Luxembourg. So there’s that too.

I have, not a lot of interests, but a few passionate ones. I go to Extension classes at UCLA where I study mostly philosophy and history. I’m a fan of the major sports, still follow the Leafs and the Blue Jays (Toronto teams), but I’ll watch anything if it’s good. Two things I like about sports – there’s an indisputable outcome to every game, and sometimes, a player will do something so amazing, you can call in your wife who doesn’t care about sports to watch the replay and she’ll think it’s amazing too.

Of course, I love comedy and always have. My first viewing of Abbott and Costello’s "Who’s On First?" routine made me laugh so hard, my mother panicked, fearing I might be laughing myself to death. I like T.V. and movies, though I recoil cowardly…ly from violence. My passion, however, is old cowboy movies, especially the cheesy “B” westerns of the 1930’s and 40’s. I wrote a book entitled, "Sagebrush Memories", where I imagined old actors reminiscing about playing the classic western roles. For example:


“I rode in, cleaned up the town, and rode out. Sometimes I’d sing.”

There are longer reminiscences. I just wanted to whet (or is it wet?) your appetite.

I also, forgive me, have a political point of view. I’ve written a book entitled "Both Sides Make Me Angry." That pretty much covers where I stand. I just want things to make sense, and a lot of time, they don’t. For example, when a Supreme Court nominee, a judge, whose decisions have leaned consistently to the Left or to the Right is asked at the confirmation hearing, “Can you be impartial?”, isn’t the only truthful answer to that question, “Well, I haven’t been so far.”?

Sorry about the punctuation; I think I was sick when they taught it. What else? I’ll try and be interesting, I’ll try and be entertaining, I’ll try and be insightful without being, you know, wrong. It’s hard to talk about stuff I haven’t written yet, but hopefully, this thing’ll be worth your time. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll come up with things that will surprise us both.

See you around, I hope.

Earl Pomerantz