Friday, August 08, 2014


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Time to Load Up Those Kindles!





Thursday, August 07, 2014

Quiz: Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show

 
I had a dream about Johnny Carson last night. Well, not actually about Carson himself. I was asking some of the younger folk if they had ever heard of a certain comic skit that Carson often did on The Tonight Show. Nobody knew what I was talking about, not even when I went into a rather poor imitation of the routine.

I didn’t watch Carson religiously when he ruled late-night on The Tonight Show. I’d go through periods when I might watch him for a long stretch of time, and then not again for months, or even years. Still, to me Carson was always like running water in your home. It might not be used for long periods of time, but when you turned on the tap he was always there.

Wow, that’s a god-awful analogy. Still, you know what I mean. On any given night, if you felt like you wanted to laugh, you only had to watch Carson’s monologue. He was always there for you, ready to entertain, and making it seem effortless. And he did this night after night, taking on all challengers and always coming out on top, for nearly…wait. Why don’t you tell me how many years Johnny hosted The Tonight Show?


1. What years did Johnny Carson host The Tonight Show?
a. 1958 - 1980
b. 1962 - 1992
c. 1965 - 1995
d. 1965 - 1999

2. Where was The Tonight Show based during the Carson years?
a. New York City
b. Burbank, California
c. First New York, then Burbank
d. First Burbank, then New York

3. Which Carson character was the host of the Tea Time Movie program?
a. Floyd. R. Turbo
b. Aunt Blabby
c. Art Fern
d. El Moulda

4. Carson would read humorous plots summaries from which fictitious soap opera?
a. Days of Our Nights
b. Remedial Hospital
c. The Edge of Wetness
d. As the Stomach Turns

5. Who was the original bandleader on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson?
a. Skitch Henderson
b. Milton DeLugg
c. Doc Severinsen
d. Tommy Newsom

6. Who was the original announcer on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson?
a. Regis Philbin
b. Don Wilson
c. Don Pardo
d. Ed McMahon

7. In his monologues, Carson generally limited himself to how many jokes on each subject?
a. one
b. two
c. three
d. He had no set rule.

8. What was the name of Carson’s Psychic character?
a. The Remarkable Johnny
b. Carnac the Magnificent
c. The Great Carsoni
d. Madame Carsonella

9. Who was not a guest on Carson’s first Tonight Show?
a. Orson Welles
b. Joan Crawford
c. Tony Bennett
d. Mel Brooks

10. Who guest-hosted the most times on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson?
a. Joan Rivers
b. Bob Newhart
c. Joey Bishop
d. David Letterman



ANSWERS

1. Johnny Carson first hosted The Tonight Show on October 1, 1962. His final show was on May 22, 1992, about four months shy of his thirtieth anniversary as host.
2. From 1962 until 1972 The Tonight Show originated in New York City. For the next twenty years after that the show was based in Burbank.
3. The Tea Time Movie program was originally hosted by a character named Honest Bernie Schlock, but this was later changed to ART FERN. Four women played the Matinee Lady over the years, the best remembered being Carol Wayne, who appeared in the role over one hundred times in eleven years.
4. THE EDGE OF WETNESS.  Carson would read the humorous plots while the camera found a unknowing person from the studio audience to be identified as a character in the story.
5. SKITCH HENDERSON was the bandleader when Steve Allen hosted The Tonight Show and returned to that position when Carson took over in 1962. He would be replaced by Milton DeLugg. Doc Severinsen took over in 1967, and remained as the show’s bandleader until Carson retired. (Severinsen, now 87, still performs concerts today.)
6. When Johnny Carson hosted his first Tonight Show in 1962, he was introduced with the now iconic words, “He-e-e-e-e-r-e’s Johnny!” by ED MCMAHON. They had already worked together for five years on the Carson-hosted game show Who Do You Trust? and would work together for  thirty more.
7. Carson believed that there should be no more than TWO jokes for each subject. Sometimes when he delivered a third joke about a particular subject and it bombed, he would humorously castigate himself for breaking his rule.
8. As CARNAC THE MAGNIFICENT, Carson would hold an envelope up to his head and “divine” the answer to a question that was in a sealed inside the envelope, at which point he would open it and read the question. My all-time favorite answer was, “Sis-Boom-Bah.” The question? “Describe the sound made when a sheep explodes.”
9. Although famed director ORSON WELLES would become a frequent guest on The Tonight Show, he did not appear on Carson’s first night.
10. Joan Rivers was named permanent guest-host in 1983 and eventually she sat in for Carson 93 times. JOEY BISHOP, however, guest-hosted a total of 177 times, more than anybody else. Bob Newhart covered the hosting duties 87 times (as did John Davidson) and David Letterman 51 times, which was one less than Jerry Lewis.


Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Men: We're Just Made That Way



My wife Spike is employed as a pre-school teacher, a profession that years ago I may have dismissed as glorified baby-sitting but have since grown to recognize it as the craft that it is. Several years ago Spike became particularly attached to one student, as teachers and mothers tend to do despite their denials of favoritism, and he in turn became equally attached to her.

The kid’s name was Cameron and he was four years old. As teacher and student grew closer it became part of the daily ritual for Cameron to spend some time sitting on Spike’s lap. The sad truth was that Cameron’s parents were going through a divorce, and so it should surprise nobody that this poor kid was looking for some much needed attention and security.

Yes, Cameron was the teacher’s pet, and he knew of no greater delight in life than being with Spike and performing some little service for her, whether it be fetching a book or retrieving a pencil that she had dropped on the floor.

One day when the children had just finished playing outdoors and Spike was herding them back towards the classroom she realized she had left her sweater hanging on one of the pieces of playground equipment. Enter Jonathan, another of the many energetic four-year old students.  Unable to leave the group of children, Spike asked Jonathan if he would run over and retrieve the sweater for her, which the obliging preschooler did without hesitation. He then rejoined his classmates as they filed back into the building.

It was less than thirty seconds later that Spike looked down to see Cameron, the teacher’s pet, first looking up at the sweater she held and then looking up at her. He had obviously been but a short distance away and had observed what I’m sure he would later refer to as “the sweater incident.” Cameron continued to look up at his favorite teacher with what I can only assume was as accusing a stare as a four-year old could muster. Finally he broke the silence and asked the question that was clearly troubling his preschool mind:

“Who was that?” he asked.


Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Nixon Resigns


I don’t know why I’m always surprised when told that a certain amount of time has passed. After all, this is what time does. It passes. And yet when I heard that it has been forty years since the resignation of Richard Nixon I was again astonished.

It was the summer between my junior and senior years of college, and I was working as a busboy in Lake Placid, New York. It would prove to be an event-filled summer, four of which will always come to mind. One of the events, the death of Mama Cass Elliot, was sad. Two others—an arrest and the acquisition of a certain type of body lice--would involve me personally, and so be even sadder. The fourth event would prove to be the most historic, and that was the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

We, the younger generation, all despised Nixon, or at least we were supposed to. I never really could generate much of hatred for the man, but generally went along with the notion that his being forced out of office, and into disgrace, was a good thing. It would be another three decades before I would fully understand what it was like to truly abhor a sitting U.S. president.

Still, I knew that Nixon’s quitting, much like the moon landing and the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, was a happening of historic proportions, and I wanted to see it. We had been told by the news people of the time that Nixon would address the nation that night, and while nobody could say for sure that he was going to resign, that would certainly be the way to bet.

And then there was my girlfriend Mandy. We had met in Lake Placid at the beginning of the summer and after a somewhat rough beginning (See “body lice” above) we had settled into a rather pleasant Adirondack romance. Mandy was a waitress, and worked in the same dining room as I did.

Just about all of the other waiters, waitresses and busboys had completed their dinner shift responsibilities and had headed back to the dorm, most likely to gather around their portable televisions to gleefully watch Nixon’s farewell performance. Mandy, for some reason, hadn’t yet finished up, and so I found myself getting more and more frustrated with her.

Now, here’s where things get murky. I’m not quite certain why my heading back to the dorm was contingent on Mandy concluding her chores. I can think of only two possibilities: either I couldn’t finish my job until she finished hers, or I was waiting for her so we could walk back to the dorm together. I’d like to believe that I was enough of a gentleman that the latter was the case. I suspect it was. I know one thing for sure: If it had been ten years earlier and the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan that night, Mandy would have been walking that dark, wooded path back to the dorm all by herself.

I couldn’t shake then, and I can’t tonight, the vague suspicion that Mandy was dragging her feet that night, purposely taking much longer at her job than she needed to. But why? Was there some reason she didn’t want me to see Nixon resign? Was she being playful? Spiteful? Was she (gasp!) a secret Nixon-lover?

And now forty years have passed and it looks like I’ll never know the answer. And if she did have a secret strategy to spoil my television viewing pleasure on that historic night, well, she failed. We arrived back at the dorm in plenty of time to adjust the antenna of my tiny black and white TV and watch Richard Milhous Nixon become the only president in history to resign from office. Mandy and I would resign from each other about a year after that. 

Monday, August 04, 2014

Guess Who #38

There are a few people, and not too many I think, about who I always find myself saying, “Someday I’m going to learn more about this guy.”  This is certainly true about today’s Mr. X, and has been for quite a few years. I’m sorry to say that while I have made a little progress towards that end, I still have a long way to go.

For most of my life I recognized his name, but knew little else about him. Oh, I knew he had something to do with the movies, but that’s as far as my knowledge of him went. Still, there was a part of me that just knew that this person was in some way important, especially for anyone who considers himself a student, or even just a fan, of film.

Over the weekend I saw that one of his movies was coming on, and so I decided to watch it. It was strange, I thought, that I approached it as half entertainment and half, well, homework. I was only a few minutes into the movie when I realized I had seen it before. This made me feel pretty good, as if, in my slow and plodding way, I actually had made some progress towards my goal of familiarizing myself with the work of Mr. X.

And that’s enough of that. After all, what sort of quiz would this be if I told you the man’s entire life story before I even gave you the first clue?


Mr. X was born in 1898.

Mr. X was the first person to win an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Mr. X was married four times.

Mr. X’s last name at birth was Biden.

Mr. X was born in Chicago.

Mr. X served in the U. S. Army Signal Corps in World War I.

Mr. X sold his Academy Award-winning screenplay for $1.00, in exchange for being allowed to direct the movie.

Mr. X wrote the play Strictly Dishonorable in six days. It ran on Broadway for 16 months.

Mr. X wrote his greatest comedies form 1939 – 1943. Four of them are on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Funniest American Films.

Mr. X invented a kiss-proof lipstick in 1920 called Red-Red Rouge.

Mr. X was once the third highest paid man in America.

Mr. X signed a deal in 1944 making him one of only two writer-producer-directors in Hollywood. (The other was Charlie Chaplin.)

Mr. X did not start writing until he was 30 years old.

Mr. X died at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City at the age of 60.

Mr. X died while working on his memoir, which was titled, The Events Leading Up to My Death.


I think that’s all the clues you need. Who is Mr. X?


Sunday, August 03, 2014

Magic in the Moonlight


Damn. I usually try not to see any reviews before going to a movie that I’m particularly interested in. But there it was: one star, and only one star, right next to Magic in the Moonlight, the new film from Woody Allen. I skimmed just a bit of the review, and finally was able to pull myself away. I’d read it in its entirely when I got back from the movies, assuming, that is, that I still wanted to go.

From what I had gleaned, the main criticism of the film was that the lead actor was in his fifties, while his love interest was in her twenties. These were not the ages of the characters portrayed, mind you, but of the actors themselves. The reviewer was apparently outraged that Woody Allen, with his well-known personal history, would create a story with such an age disparity between the main characters. The reviewer said that because this was written by Woody Allen it feels “pathological.” And no, those quotations marks aren’t there by accident. “Pathological,” if you can believe it, is the very word that was used.

And so to the movie. And while, yes, it is obvious that the male lead is older that the woman, I doubt I would have noticed it much at all had I not read about it in that review. The movie itself does make minor mention of the fact that the lead character’s rival is young, handsome and a millionaire, but overall age is not a much of a factor in the story.

So, the bottom line: Did I enjoy the movie? Yes, very much. I’m not about to jump up and down and declare it to be Allen’s best movie since Annie Hall and demand that you see it. I will tell you, though, that the recreation of the French Riviera in the 1920’s is a treat, and there is some very clever dialogue throughout the movie, especially towards the end. Perhaps there were times when a movie didn’t stand out just because it contained some snappy patter, but alas, we’re not living in those times.

That night Spike and I returned home to find a movie from NexFlix waiting in our mailbox. It’s  called Last Love and was made just last year. It stars Michael Caine as an eighty-ish widower who meets a woman about half a century younger. And when the final credits rolled Spike said, “I liked this one better.” And I readily agreed.
 
And so while we had both had enjoyed Magic in the Moonlight, never before had the difference between a Grade B movie and a Grade A movie been so plainly demonstrated for me. And now I find that I am jumping up and down, and demanding that you see Last Love. And again, there is nothing "pathological" about it. Trust me.


 


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Quiz: What the Hell Are They Singing About?

No, Jimi Hendrix never did sing, “’Scuse me, while I kiss this guy,” nor did John Fogerty ever croon, “There’s a bathroom on the right.” Well, actually he did, jokingly, in a recent performance, but we all know the original lyric we heard in 1969.

One of the things that classic rock of the sixties and rap have in common, and I can’t believe I just wrote that, is the extreme importance of the lyrics. The music of the sixties, unlike that of previous eras, was generally not music you danced to. No, it was for sitting in your room, undergoing a few chemical adjustments and listening to the words, man.

And the fact that half the time we had no idea what those words meant didn’t seem to slow us down. Why, more than one iconic songwriter of the time has admitted that he, too, had no idea what he was singing about. But it sure was fun, huh?

So here we go. Sit back, relax, adjust chemically if necessary and see if you know just what the hell they were singing about!


1. Ringo Starr wrote this song after a sea captain told him about the strange habits of a certain underwater creature.

2. Justin Hayward wrote this song at the age of 19, after somebody had given him a set of bed sheets. He says it’s about the end of one love affair and the beginning of another.

3. Sometimes called the most famous rock song in history, Robert Plant will only explain the beginning of it. He says it’s about a woman who gets everything she wants and doesn’t give anything back.

4. This psychedelic song was written by two men who were not in the band that recorded it, and was sung by someone who also was not in the band. No one can explain the meaning of the tune for certain, but many have speculated that the title comes from an item that masks the smell of marijuana and one that hides the taste of marijuana.

5. This song is about the process of writing a song. The title refers to the time that it was being written, which was about 3:35 a.m.

6. After this iconic band had its first #1 hit, they thought they could relax a bit. Instead people were already knocking at their door, asking for their next single. This song was the group’s way of telling them to “get lost.” On November 6, 1965 it reached #1 on the U.S. charts.

7. Ray Manzarek has explained that this is a song about “driving madly on the L.A. Freeway,” either heading into Los Angeles or north to San Francisco. It invokes the beatnik spirit of Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady.

8. According to the writer, this song is about being laid back, chilled out and being the guy who can “calm you down.” It’s also about “electrical bananas,” which are, it turns out, ladies’ vibrators.

9. Greg Lake began writing this song when he was 12 years old, on a guitar that had only one string. He claims that it’s just a kid’s song, a “medieval fantasy.”

10. Despite what most people think, this song is not about the anti-war protests of the 1960’s.  In fact, it’s about young people gathering to protest anti-loitering laws, and the closing of a night club in West Hollywood called Pandora’s Box.

11. The writer of this song believed there were a lot of drug references in a certain classic children’s book. The idea for the song came to her after taking LSD and spending hours listening to a Miles Davis album.

12. After the writer of this song had encountered many negative people at the University of Minnesota, and then later in Greenwich Village where people became jealous of his success, he wrote this song about them.

13. The title comes from the writer’s going on a vacation as a kid, and seeing the moon for the first time away from city lights. He says the song is about “finding hope in any situation, and being present and joyful right now.”

14. Although rumors at the time said the song was about Jesus, and was even sung in some folk masses, it’s actually about someone who said or did something wrong, and hurt a lot of people. When the singer of the song died in 2012, his son found the song on YouTube, placing his cell phone on his father’s chest as it played.

15. This is a song about the pointlessness of revolution. The writer expresses his belief that whoever replaces the old regime is just as likely to become corrupt, and that the new boss will be just as bad as the old boss.



ANSWERS

1. OCTOPUS’S GARDEN
2. NIGHTS IN WHITE SATIN
3. STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN
4. INCENSE AND PEPPERMINTS
5. 25 OR 6 TO 4.
6. GET OFF OF MY CLOUD
7. L.A. WOMAN
8. MELLOW YELLOW
9. LUCKY MAN
10. FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH
11. WHITE RABBIT
12. POSITIVELY 4TH STREET
13. MOONSHADOW
14. I STARTED A JOKE
15. WON’T GET FOOLED AGAIN

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Yakkers

 
A couple of times a year Spike pays a visit to the spa at a local hoity-toity hotel. I won’t tell you the name of the hotel, of course, but it’s a very famous and high-end chain. Oh OK, here’s a hint: think Cracker Brand-Cigarette Brand. Ha! That should keep you busy for a while.

For some reason Spike likes to get facials. And it’s not just at the Cracker-Cigarette either. Nearly every time we go on vacation, in whatever part of the world we happen to be, Spike will find someone who is more than happy to relieve her of one hundred, one-fifty, even two hundred dollars and slap goop on her face. And apparently she’s not alone—women seem to love this spa treatment. Someday I’ll explain it to you, right after I figure out the other 75,784 nutty things that women like to do.

Last week Spike went to our local hotel for her semi-annual facial. When she returned I asked her how her facial was, since pretending to care about stuff like that is a big part of my job. She responded with a less than enthusiastic, “It was O.K.” Just OK? Uh-oh, I knew there was trouble in Goopville.

And there was. It seems that the therapist/technician/goopologist or whatever the hell they want to be called was a yakker. She talked non-stop through the entire process, making the facial experience much less relaxing than Spike had hoped it to be.

When you’re a captive going through a treatment, either for relaxation or repair, do you ever get a yakker who just won’t shut up? Oh sure, you may be the type who wants to talk while you’re getting your massage or hair cut or teeth cleaned but what do you do if you’re not? In most cases answering questions with a terse yes or no will give the yakker a clue, but every now and then you get one who just doesn’t get it.

I told Spike that I wanted to make an anonymous call to the hotel, (Is an anonymous phone call still electronically possible?) tell Spike’s story and politely suggest that they mention at the next Goopers Meeting that they shouldn’t talk too much when their client is paying $180 to relax. I wouldn’t mention my name or the name of the yakker. Nobody would get in trouble—they’d just learn to shut the hell up. After all, this isn’t some half-assed $20 treatment conducted in a moonlighting co-worker’s stinky kitchen. This is the Cracker-Cigarette!

Spike, of course, wouldn’t hear of it. She politely told me to MYOB, (Maybe it wasn’t so politely, now that I think of it) and I’ve respected her wishes. Still, on the off chance that one of you facial babes from down the road is reading this, (and believe me I know the odds are about the same as Vladimir Putin leaving a complimentary note in the Comments) how about cutting down a bit on the yapping? If you want to talk non-stop for an hour perhaps you can take the two bills you make from the facial and go see a shrink. He’ll be more than happy to listen to your endless blabbering—it’s his job.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Things Guys Secretly Love (Part II)


So far we haven’t found a whole lot of things on that list that guys even like, much less love. Let’s continue, shall we?

Bubble Baths
I have lived in my current home for over eleven years now. Oh, it’s nothing fancy, just the usual things you’d expect to find in a house. We have a kitchen with both an oven and a refrigerator, a back yard, a driveway and yes, a bathroom. And in that bathroom we have both a shower and a bathtub. Care to venture a guess as to how many baths, bubbled or otherwise, I’ve taken in the past eleven years?

Cute Animals
Okay, now hold on just a minute! This was supposed to be a list of things that guys traditionally claim to not like but secretly love. Where did we ever say we didn’t love cute animals? Puppies, kittens, duckies, bunnies – we love ‘em all. I mean c’mon, we’re human, too. Just barely, I know, but still.

Gossip Magazines
There was a time, a rather short period of time, when I regularly purchased and read the National Enquirer. In truth, I got bored with it very quickly. I’ve always suspected that it’s not that men are uninterested in gossip, but that in our case it takes different forms. We find our gossip in other places, such as sports and politics. We can’t wait to shake our heads at the latest gaffe or sex scandal from a politician, or repeat what the baseball manager said about one of his own players. And then we’ll look down our nose at a woman who enjoys TMZ. “How can you watch this crap?” we’ll ask, in our superior and oh-so-bogus way.

Pink
And I assume they don’t mean the singer, but the color. To be honest, one of the shirts I wear most frequently just might qualify as “pink.” I have regular line-up of five or six casual shirts, all in the same style but in different colors. (God bless J.C. Penney.)  I have a blue one and a green one and a maroon one and a burnt orange one and yes, a pink one. I don’t remember buying the pink one; it doesn’t seem like something I’d do. But know this: Pink is not a color I secretly love. In fact, there are no colors that I secretly love. They’re just shirts, for fuck’s sake. And I wear the pink most often for a simple reason – it’s the baggiest.

Babies
Who doesn’t love babies? Or, more accurately, who’s willing to admit out loud that they don’t love babies? Not me, that’s for sure. I got enough people looking at me funny. Oh, sure, babies are entertaining enough, but only in - and this is key - very small doses. They have an extremely limited repertoire and that gets boring fast. Watch a baby sometime. Notice how quickly he goes through all of his tricks, and is back to repeating himself before you know it? Who needs it? Besides, they’re kind of disgusting, eventually.

Hugs
Too vague. Do we enjoy going around a room and hugging everybody when we arrive and then reversing the process when we leave? Of course not. It’s time consuming and unhealthy. But do we enjoy a hug of gratitude from that new, impressively-breasted administrative assistant when we unjam the copier for her? That’s one’s rhetorical.

Manicures and Pedicures
As a child, getting my nails clipped by my mom was a very painful experience. Why this was so I still don’t fully understand. I think it had something to do with Eisenhower. Now, a shrink might say this is the reason why I have never, not even once, gotten a manicure or a pedicure. I don’t buy it, of course, but am also at a loss to disprove it. I will tell you that I have never had the urge to cut another person’s nails and from that I extrapolate that nobody would ever enjoy cutting mine. Mom sure didn’t. The bottom line, though, is I just never found it to be something I’m interested in. Sure, some men’s magazines might insist that manicures and pedicures are an important part of being well-groomed, but you know and I know that ship sailed a long time ago.

Cute Tiny Things
Okay, you got me. I love cute tiny things and I always have. As a kid I remember playing for hours with a handful of these plastic, two-toned “Mexican jumping beans.” I had my favorite (the blue and white one) and I even gave them names.  It wasn’t all that long ago that I had a minor collection of tiny pewter souvenirs that I bought back from various places. And even today, if you drive by my house you’ll see a row of colorful solar-powered figures dancing in the front window, a display sure to eventually make me known on the block as the senile old coot with all the toys in the window, if it hasn’t already. So yes, I admit it. I like cute tiny things. I’m guilty. Build my gallows high!


Monday, July 28, 2014

Things Guys Secretly Love (Part I)


I stand corrected. I was going to start off with the qualifier that I didn’t know whether the article in question had been written by a woman or a man, but one more quick check and I can see his name in little tiny letters near the top of the page. Yes, his name. We writers really should start demanding larger font sizes.

The article, which is more of a list actually, purports to expose some of the things that men traditionally say they don’t like, but secretly love. Now, how this writer came to these assumptions is never explained. There is no mention of any research, or the opinions of more than just one person. Clearly the writer is pulling his conclusions out of the very same place where I myself go for evidence to support my own opinions. It’s a miracle that either one of us can still sit down.

So here we go – the list of things that this writer says that men secretly love, each with an in-depth analysis by your truly as to the veracity of the claim. I’m only here to help.


Facials
Wrong. Sure, you can find a guy out there who likes just about anything, from sleeping in a standing position to breastfeeding squirrels, but in general guys don’t like to have facials. And yes, I tried it once. My wife did one for me. The result was that I looked ridiculous while it was on and, even more sadly, exactly the same when it came off.

Reality Shows
I remember hearing about the TV show Survivor about a year before it first aired. And while it was not actually the first reality show, it heralded the beginning of the current wave of those types of programs and has become one of the most imitated shows in history. I was a huge fan for its first ten seasons, seldom missing an episode before suddenly losing interest.

Today there are so many varieties of reality shows that it’s hard to make a blanket statement about their watchability. Still, for guys I think you can pretty much dismiss any of them that take place indoors, like the Kardashians or Bored Housewives or whatever they’re called. The nature shows hold a little more interest for us, however, especially the ones where the women are running around in the jungle naked. Still, I’m curious as to who it was who decreed that it’s okay to show the back side of the human body but the front side must be heavily pixilated. Man, people of the future are going to think we were total imbeciles.

Fancy Soap
Every time I’m strolling along from booth to booth at a local arts fair, my eye is always captured by those huge cakes of colorful soap that you buy by the slice. Would I use it if someone gave me some of this fancy-ass soap as a gift? Of course, why wouldn’t I? Am I about to cough up eleven bucks for a piece as big as a toaster waffle? Not a chance. So I guess maybe it’s not the fancy soap that I’m opposed to - it’s the fancy price.

Candles
Aside from a paperweight, there is no gift that more clearly announces to the recipient, “I put no thought into this at all” than the candle. There’s one and only time that guys love candles, and that's when they are illuminating the naked body of a reasonably attractive woman. Candlelight works wonders—like a special effect from Industrial Light and Magic.


Romantic Comedies
As I’ve tried to explain to Spike on many occasions, a great movie is a great movie, and that doesn’t change just because some guy gets garroted in his car, or wakes up with a horse’s head in his bed. And this works both ways. Just because a movie tells a mushy love story, that shouldn’t automatically eliminate it from a guy’s viewing list. For example, When Harry Met Sally was clearly a romantic comedy. It was a great movie as well. And while the writers probably still cringe every time Bridesmaids is called a “chick flick,” it is also the funniest movie I’ve seen in the last five years. 

Ah, but it’s those sappy and formulaic movies on, say, Lifetime that almost always will trigger the gag reflex in guys. One of my favorite things to do is to sit down with Spike for the first ten minutes (or as long as I can stomach) of one of these things, tell her exactly what’s going to happen over the next two hours and then retreat to the bedroom to read. Did I ever tell you how much fun I am to live with?

Women’s Shampoo and Conditioner
Many years ago Spike and I stayed over at a lady friend’s house. The next morning while I was showering I decided to try some of our friend’s shampoo. It was Joico, and it smelled delicious (as did our friend.) I soon purchased my own bottles of Joico, both the shampoo and conditioner, and used them religiously for several years. And then one day I had an epiphany, suddenly asking myself why I was paying fifteen bucks for a bottle of shampoo and the same again for the conditioner. I recalled the words of Andy Rooney, who once groused that when he was a kid they accomplished everything they needed to do in the shower with a single bar of Ivory Soap. And he lived a good long life! And so now I buy my shampoo and conditioner at the dollar store. And sure, once in a while I’ll treat myself and steal a dollop of Spike’s fancy-pants lady shampoo, but I swear that only happens on the rarest of occasions. You know, like on my birthday.

Appletinis
I’ve never tasted an appletini. The truth is, except for my nightly glass of wine that helps me get through writing these things, I rarely drink alcohol at all. And so I defer to my oft-inebriated friend Mr. Zero, who I asked what he thought about all these new-fangled spirits, like flavored beer or vodka. He, of course, was offended by them, as any traditionally-minded alcoholic would be. And if I too drank to excess, I’m sure I’d feel the same way. If I wanted to drink something with an apple taste, well, I’d drink apple juice.

Figure Skating
Spike loves to watch figure skating. On our refrigerator is a photo of Spike and Kristi Yamaguchi, taken shortly after she won her gold medal. (Kristi, not Spike.) I still remember how, during the 1992 Olympics, Spike watched nearly every bit of the figure skating events. And I did too, seeing how we were a one-television family at that time. What was most striking, however, was the night that Spike had to go to work, and yet I still found myself at home engrossed in the figure skating. Does this mean it’s true that men really love figure skating? No, I’m afraid not. It was just a one-time thing, like getting chicken pox. Nowadays I might watch some of the Olympic skating if Spike has it on, but this is much less a case of genuine interest and more an example of the law of physics that states, “A body at rest tends to remain at rest.” Especially if that body is lying comfortably on the couch.



TOMORROW: BUBBLE BATHS, BABIES AND CUTE, TINY THINGS.



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