Tuesday, February 09, 2016

El Nino: Fool Me Twice

Let the backtracking begin! It’s still a little early, after all, but already the professional weather prognosticators are preparing their excuses as to why the El Nino isn’t turning out to be the gully washing, Noah-style, once in a lifetime weather phenomenon they were predicting just a few short months ago.

“All El Ninos are different!” seems to be the alibi that they’ve chosen to go with, or are at least floating for now. How they arrived at this, I don’t know. Perhaps there was a vote at an emergency weatherman meeting. Perhaps one of them said it on the air one night and the rest sagely nodded their heads, thinking, That sounds pretty good. Let’s go with that.

Yes, I’m pissed that the deluge that was predicted, or at least strongly hinted at, for this winter has failed to show up. I’m so pissed, in fact, that even though I’m fully aware that the second n in El Nino is supposed to have one of those squiggly lines over it, and that with the tiniest of effort I could find one online and write the word correctly, I still say fuck it. You don’t get the forecast right, I’m not spelling your bogus storms right.

When I was a boy there were occasionally times when I went to bed with a smile on my face. The forecasters had told me that a major snowstorm was moving in overnight. They told me right to my face that I could expect at least a foot of snow on the ground by morning, with the snow continuing throughout the day. Why, by the time it was done, who knew just how much of the white stuff would have been dumped on us?

And then the next morning, before I even had a chance to open my eyes, I heard it. Hisssssssss. It was the unmistakable sound of automobile tires on wet pavement. A look outside confirmed, to my horror, what I had expected: The dark gray of the asphalt was still very visible, covered by nothing but a thin veneer of water that had been left by the steady rain that was still falling. 

There would be no late and casual breakfast, and no spending the day at the park, joyfully sledding down hills with my friends. There would be, however, the usual crawling out of bed, getting dressed in itchy clothes and trudging to the corner to wait for the school bus. In the rain.

Ah, how I love inclement weather! Living here two blocks from the edge of the country, I have seen many winters where powerful storms come swooping in off the Pacific, one after the other, like planes landing at a busy airport. And then four years ago it all stopped, as each winter now brought only the scantest amounts of rainfall. Last January, for the first time in recorded history, we had no rain at all.

But then it all changed! We began to hear dire, fear-producing reports about the largest, most powerful El Nino since the monster event of 1997 – 1998. Why, they said, this one could be even bigger. Sure, it would help the drought, but think of the flooding! Think of the landslides! Think of the multi-million cliffside homes sliding helplessly into the ocean!

I couldn’t wait.

But wait I did. I waited through a less-rain-than-average December. Be patient, they said. The El Nino doesn’t really begin until January. And remember, January, February and March are our rainiest months of the year. And so I waited some more.

In January, last month, we received 3.98 inches of rain. People thought that was a lot, especially when compared to our previous January. Then again, one person spitting would produce more moisture than we got last January. It turns out that the 3.98 is not only well below the amount received in the 1998 El Nino, which was 12.13 inches, it didn’t even match our historic January average of 5.53 inches. Yes, this powerful, frightening, almost unimaginable El Nino had given us a below average January.

And now, although we’re only about a quarter way through February, it’s clear that the writing is on the wall, and that it’s not going to be washed away by any torrential downpours. Our average rainfall for the month of February is 5.36 inches. The huge El Nino of 1998 dumped nearly sixteen inches of rain on us that February. This February we’ve so far seen a total of .31 inches of rain. Almost, almost, a third of an inch. And there is no significant rain predicted for at least the next two weeks. Today, in the middle of this most powerful El Nino in history, it is sunny and 75 degrees. Even the nude beach has opened up, for God’s sake.

The thing about these weather forecasters is that they’re a lot like financial gurus and other self-proclaimed diviners of the future. They might not be able to tell you what’s going to happen with even a modicum of accuracy, but they sure as hell can give you lots of reasons why it did, after it happens.

Yes, we’ll no doubt get some rain this spring, but the gloriously stormy winter that I had so looked forward to will not happen, much like the non-existent blizzards of my youth. And not only am I profoundly disappointed, I’m also a little embarrassed to admit that, fifty years later, the weather forecasters have fooled me again.

And so take my advice so you don’t suffer the same fate as me. If you want to know today’s weather, look out the window. If you want to know tomorrow’s weather, but all means check with the forecasters. That seems to be the extent of their reach. But if you want to know the weather for the day after tomorrow, and beyond, well, Chum, clearly your guess is as good as any.

Friday, February 05, 2016

U.S. Coins: A Mint Condition Quiz!

“I found these in my father’s sock drawer after he died,” I told my friend Mark as I handed him the two Indian Head pennies, each labelled and in its own coin folder. Give one to each of your kids. I don’t care who gets which one. Let them fight over them. That’s what brothers are supposed to do.

It’s a hell of a thing to realize that you’ve reached the age when you’re too old to start collecting anything. It a bit of a shock, and a little hard to accept, that you’ve somehow switched to the phase of life when you’re ready to start unloading stuff, rather than gathering it.

To be sure, I had a coin collection when I was a kid. In fact, I still have it. Somewhere. And I still remember the thrill of finding an Indian head penny in the coin cup that my grandmother kept in her kitchen cabinet just for me to look through. The penny was from 1874 and was in about as poor a condition as a coin can be and still allow you to read the date.

And even though it was only about 88 years old, I was absolutely fascinated by that coin. It amazed me that the penny had been created in the 19th century, much as I was amazed that my grandparents had been as well.

One of these days I’m going to dig out my old coin collection and take a numismatic stroll down memory lane. And even though my grandmother is long gone, I still have that beat-up Indian Head penny she gave me so long ago. It’s nearly 150 years old now.

1. What was the last year the Indian Head penny was minted?
a. 1906
b. 1907
c. 1908
d. 1909

2. Why is it now rare to find a 1964 dime in circulation?
a. Very few were minted
b. They are 90% silver
c. Dimes are being phased out
d. It’s not rare

3. Which non-president appeared on the half dollar until 1964?
a. Susan B. Anthony
b. Sacagawea
c. Benjamin Franklin
d. Franklin Pierce

4. What is the maximum penalty for defacing a U.S. coin?
a. $500 fine
b. $5,000 fine
c. $10,000 fine and five years in prison
d. It is legal to deface a U.S. coin

5. Why do dimes and quarters have serrated edges?
a. To stop people from filing them down for the silver
b. The style is copied from some Ancient Roman coins
c. It stops them from rolling
d. They provide a rough surface to strike matches

6. During what years was the Three Cent Piece minted?
a. 1793 - 1804
b. 1821 only
c. 1851 - 1889
d. There was never such a thing

7. In which year did the United States first mint coins?
a. 1776
b. 1792
c. 1812
d. 1813

8. Which city is not home to a U.S. mint?
a. New York City
b. Philadelphia
c. Denver
d. San Francisco

9. Whose face appeared on the new silver dollar minted in 1971?
a. Alexander Hamilton
b. John Adams
c. Harriet Tubman
d. Dwight Eisenhower

10. Which president is facing right?
a. Lincoln on the penny
b. Roosevelt on the dime
c. Washington on the quarter
d. Kennedy on the half dollar


1. The last Indian Head pennies were minted in 1909, the same year that the first Lincoln pennies were created. Only a small number of Indian Head pennies were struck in 1909, at the San Francisco mint.
2. These days dimes (and quarters) from 1964 and earlier are rare finds in circulation, as THEY ARE 90% SILVER and have been snatched up for their precious metal value. The coins you see today are kind of an Oreo, in that they are clad in a copper and nickel alloy, with a delicious copper center.  
3. From 1948 – 1963 a profile of BENJAMIN FRANKLIN appeared on the half dollar. Nellie Tayloe Ross, the Director of the U.S. Mint, greatly admired Franklin and wanted him to be honored on a coin. Oh, and Franklin Pierce was a President, you knucklehead.
4. IT IS LEGAL TO DEFACE A U.S COIN. You might have seen a notice to that effect on those penny souvenir machines. Just be careful when you and your drunken friends put coins on a railroad track. People die that way.
5. As mentioned above, dimes and quarters used to be made of silver, so in order TO STOP PEOPLE FROM FILING THEM DOWN FOR THE SILVER they were created with serrated edges. Otherwise those coins would have gotten smaller and smaller and smaller.
6. The Three Cent Piece was minted from 1851 – 1889. From 1851 until 1873 the coin was made of 75% silver. From 1865 until 1889 it was made of copper and nickel. There was also a Two Cent Piece that was minted from 1864 to 1873, so yes, it was possible for a short period of time to pay for something that cost six cents with three coins!
7. The first U.S. coins were minted in 1792, and new coins have been created every year since. The Coinage Act of 1792 specified ten denominations of coins to be minted. These included the Half Cent and the Large Cent, both of which were discontinued in 1857.
8. There are four mints currently in operation in the United States. They are located in Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco and in West Point, New York. At other times mints have been located in Carson City, New Orleans, Charlotte and even in Manila in the Philippines. There is, however, no U.S. Mint in NEW YORK CITY.
9. In 1971 the first silver dollars minted since 1935 were created. They depicted former General and President Dwight Eisenhower. There were two versions of the coins minted, one in a base metal for general circulation and the other a collectors’ coin comprised of 40% silver. The large, heavy dollar was not popular, except in casinos, and it was replaced in 1979 by the smaller Susan B. Anthony dollar. This coin also failed to circulate and was retired in 2000.
10. Hey, no fair looking at that picture up there! Roosevelt, Washington and Kennedy all face left. LINCOLN, like any good Republican, is forever looking to the right.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

I Do All the Cooking

Of all the attributes I bring to my marriage, from devastatingly good looks to an almost other-worldly aptitude for sexually pleasing women, the one thing that Spike’s friends are repeatedly surprised by, and clearly jealous of, is the fact that I cook dinner every night.

Well, it’s not exactly every night. Monday through Thursday are the days I’m usually in that kitchen, rattling those pots and pans. On Friday or Saturday, and sometimes both, we often go out to a restaurant, the definition of a restaurant flexible enough to include Taco Bell or Burger King. And on Sunday night Spike cooks.

And by cooks I really mean she “boils.” Sunday night has become ravioli night, just about every single time. Spike boils the water, pours in the frozen ravioli and tops it with some jarred tomato sauce. And it’s fine. I mean, it’s nice to not have to cook.

We fell into our you cook, I’ll clean routine naturally, and many years ago. And ever since Spike has, on a regular basis, claimed that she doesn’t know how to cook. And, as any of my former girlfriends will attest to, I surely don’t know how to clean.

The final straw, I believe, happened about twenty years ago. At the time I was hosting a local public access television show. (It was, in fact, this very experience that proved to me once and for all that my true destiny was, indeed, to hide behind a keyboard, late at night, when nobody could see me.) The show was live, and on this one particular evening I knew that Spike would be watching. And so, before signing off, I looked into the camera lens and said something that I thought was pretty clever.

“Spike,” I said.  “I’ll be home in a few minutes. Why don’t you make that Tuna Helper for dinner?”

About fifteen minutes later I walked through the front door of our apartment, and was soon seated at the table ready to dig into the hot dinner. Asking on the air for Spike to get started on dinner had turned out to be a wonderful idea. Maybe I’d put in my dinner request at the close of every show!

We had been eating for about five minutes when I realized something just wasn’t right. Oh, the dinner tasted fine, but something was missing. It didn’t take much longer for me to figure out exactly what that something was. Spike had followed the directions on the box to the letter, except for one little detail: She had neglected to add the tuna. And so yes, on that night I sat there at our dining room table eating a great big plate of… Helper.

And so, like it says right up there at the top, I do all the cooking.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Clete Boyer is Dead

It seems to me that the last time I searched Clete Boyer he was still alive, but I could be mistaken. One thing that’s for sure, he’s dead now, and has been since 2007. And that information made me a little sad.

Clete Boyer came from a family of fourteen children; seven girls and seven boys. All seven of the brothers would play professional baseball, while three of them—Clete, Ken and Cloyd—would make it all the way to the major leagues.

It was in 1963 that I rode my bicycle up to St. Martin’s Church and scurried into the basement, where I joined about a dozen or so other neighborhood boys who had already gathered around Clete Boyer. It was a pretty heady experience for a young boy to see the New York Yankee’s third baseman, right there at my church.

If I said anything to Boyer it’s been long forgotten. Like every other kid I made sure to get him to sign the baseball that I had brought along for that very purpose. Needless to say, I still have that ball, and if asked I could probably produce it in about thirty seconds.

Clete Boyer became my favorite ballplayer on that day. And although that status wouldn’t last long, he would always be special to me. You see, it was less than two years later that I switched my allegiance to the hapless but lovable Mets, turning my back on Boyer and his legendary teammates such as Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Bobby Richardson, Tony Kubek, Moose Skowron and Whitey Ford. I believe that my childhood chum and fellow Yankee fan Lenny to this day still hasn’t forgiven me for the betrayal.

In 1964 the New York Yankees played the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Then, like now, those who reported on such things were constantly seeking new angles and interesting stories. For that particular World Series it was the fact that, for the first time, brothers on opposing teams had each hit a home run in a World Series game. Ken Boyer hit his in the 7th inning, nodding to his brother as he rounded third base, and Clete would hit his in the ninth.

It wasn’t much of an argument in our neighborhood. All of us who were in the church basement on that day believed that Clete Boyer was the better player of the two brothers, and we weren’t going to let anything as silly as facts get in the way of our opinion. After all, he was a Yankee, and besides, we had met him.

As time went on all but the most stubborn would be forced to concede that, no, it was Ken who was the superior ballplayer. Clete had a lifetime batting average of .242 with 162 homeruns, while Ken finished his career with a .287 average and 282 homeruns. He also made the All Star team eleven times, and in 1964 won the National League’s MVP Award. His #14 has been retired by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Ah, but so what? It was Clete who had come to my hometown to meet a bunch of scruffy young goofballs in a dusty old church basement. It was Clete who had talked to us, shook our hands and cheerfully signed whatever was thrown at him. He was the first famous person I ever met, and I was sorry to find out that he had died. 

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Mom and Dad’s 25th Anniversary Dinner

It was my parents’ 25th anniversary, and my two brothers and I had taken them out to dinner. Where we went and what we ate has long faded into the foggy recesses of time. I only know that it was a rare occasion when my parents allowed us to pay for anything, and I’m sure we had a nice time.

That is, until near the end of the meal, when my parents began to get agitated. The dinner had been fine, but now their sons seemed to be in a hurry to leave. None of them wanted an after dinner coffee, and when was the last time any of those three hulks had passed on dessert? Never, that’s when.

“I only just got home from college, so I’m going out with my friends tonight,” I explained as I placed my napkin on the table and rose from my chair.

“I’m only on leave for a week, so I told Wendy I’d meet up with her later,” said the middle brother, as he too stood up.

“Can I go back to the house with them?” asked the youngest, who had his coat on before my parents could even answer.

And so with a volley of “Happy Anniversary” greetings we waved good-bye and headed toward the restaurant’s exit. Oh, we each caught a glimpse of the hint of sadness on Mom and Dad’s faces as they remained seated at the table, and sure we felt a little bad about it. But we were young and filled with big plans and didn’t doubt for a minute that we were doing the right thing.

My parents arrived home about twenty minutes after my brothers and me, and we all heard the click as they opened the front door to enter the house. They hadn’t taken more than two steps when they were greeted by a loud cheer of “Happy Anniversary!” from the collection of friends, neighbors and yes, sons who were gathered in their now festively decorated living room. There were congratulations from everybody, and I took the opportunity to head into the kitchen to retrieve the huge celebratory cake.

Relief was setting in as I realized that all the secret planning had gone off without a hitch. It was a wonderful evening, one that my family would remember for years to come.  You, on the other hand, judged me and my brothers a little too quickly, didn’t you? As if I, or my brothers, would ever even think of passing on dessert.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Classic Comic Strips: A Quiz

“I can’t believe it,” scoffed Mr. Zero. “Still watching cartoons at your age.”

I was not in the mood to explain why The Simpsons was brilliant satire, written for adults and just plain funny besides. I was also not up to asking Mr. Zero if he read the newspaper comics, or are they for children, too?

And if he did read the comics in the paper, but yet still mocked all forms of animation as immature, then what was it exactly that he objected to? The movement?

Ah, but I’m been around the old block too many times, and am too weary to argue about such things. Yes, at my age I still read the comics. In fact, on Sundays there are only three sections of the newspaper I read, and I save the comics for last.

The comics are a regular and important part of my life. Here’s proof: On a semi-regular basis I receive requests in the mail, asking me if I’d like to try a trial subscription to The New York Times, which some call one of the finest newspapers in the world. And while I have switched on and off and back on again on many publications over the course of my lengthening lifetime, I have never once subscribed to The New York Times.

Why? No comics.

1. What is the longest running American comic strip?
a. Gasoline Alley
b. Blondie
c. The Katzenjammer Kids
d. Little Orphan Annie

2. What kind of stuffed animal was Hobbes?
a. Bear
b. Tiger
c. Dog
d. Elephant

3. In which comic strip did Popeye first appear?
a. Thimble Theater
b. Popeye the Sailor
c. Sinbad the Sailor
d. Tarzan

4. What is Doonesbury’s first name?
a. Harris
b. Michael
c. Robert
d. It is never stated.

5. In Nancy, who was Nancy’s guardian?
a. Grandma and Grandpa Yancy
b. Aunt Fritzi
c. Her dog Yip
d. Sluggo

6. What is Blondie and Dagwood’s last name?
a. Dumpling
b. Darling
c. Dithers
d. Bumstead

7. Who created Dennis the Menace?
a. Al Capp
b. Hank Ketcham
c. Walt Kelly
d. Carl Barks

8. In what state does Pogo live?
a. Georgia
b. Florida
c. Mississippi
d. Kentucky

9. In which comic strip will you find Zoe, Hammie and Wren?
a. Get Fuzzy
b. Marmaduke
c. Baby Blues
d. Pearls Before Swine

10. What is Miss Peach’s occupation?
a. Bus driver
b. Secretary
c. Nurse
d. Teacher


1. THE KATZENJAMMER KIDS was created in 1897 by Rudolph Dirks and is still running today. Gasoline Alley (1918) and Blondie (1930) are also both still being published today. Little Orphan Annie ran from 1924 – 2010.
2. In Calvin and Hobbes, Hobbes was Calvin’s stuffed tiger. Except when nobody else was around. Then, of course, he was real!
3. Popeye first appeared in the comic strip Thimble Theater. Combined with Popeye, it is the fourth longest-running American comic strip in history.
4. MICHAEL Doonesbury is the title character in the iconic comic strip Doonesbury. His middle name is James. The strip was created by Garry Trudeau and first appeared in its present form on October 26, 1970.
5. The comic strip Nancy was originally called Fritzi Ritz, whose main character was a ditzy flapper named Fritzi. Eventually her niece Nancy was introduced and gradually took over the strip, as AUNT FRITZI became more respectable. Today she is a music reviewer in her late fifties.
6. In Blondie, Dagwood and Blondie’s last name is BUMSTEAD. Dagwood’s boss is Mr. Dithers. Blondie is the sixth longest-running comic strip in the U.S., and was the inspiration for a series of movies and a radio program. Their dog’s name, if anyone should ask, is Daisy.
7. HANK KETCHAM began writing and drawing Dennis the Menace in 1951 and continued until 1994, when he retired from cartooning and took up painting. It was in October, 1950 when his wife came into his studio to complain that their child Dennis had messed up his room. “Your son is a menace!” she said.
8. Pogo was the creation of Walt Kelly, and ran from 1948 until 1975. Pogo Possum, Albert Alligator and many of the hundreds of other Pogo characters lived in the GEORGIA part of the Okefenokee Swamp.
9. Quickly becoming one of my favorite comic strips, BABY BLUES follows the day-to-day life of Darryl and Wanda MacPherson and their three children. It was launched in 1970 with the birth of the oldest child, Zoe. Hammie (my favorite!) and Wren eventually followed.
10. Miss Peach was created by Mell Lazarus and ran from 1957 until 2002. Miss Peach is a TEACHER who works at The Kelly School. Lazarus chose the name as a tribute to Pogo cartoonist Walt Kelly. Lazarus also created the popular strip Momma in 1970, which is still running today.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

My Confirmation Name is James

On more than one occasion a person thought I was lying when I said I didn’t have a middle name. I think they believed that my middle name was so horrible, or so laughable, that I simply denied having one. For my part, I had already progressed several years into my childhood before I realized that not having a middle name was the exception, rather than the rule.

I do, however, have a Confirmation name. At least I think I still do. It’s possible that they automatically take it back once you’ve completely and utterly lapsed. In the Catholic world you choose your Confirmation name at the time, logically, of your Confirmation, which is generally around the age of thirteen. Traditionally you take the name of a saint. I believe that this, like many things in the Church, is more of an ironclad rule rather than just a polite suggestion.

Despite years of weekend brainwashing, and lacking the Internet, I still didn’t have a deep knowledge of many saints, and so when it came time to pick my name I chose “James.” Why? Because the other church in our town was St. James, and although I had no idea who he was or what he did, at least I could be fairly certain that he was indeed a saint.

Years passed, as they will do, and one day shortly before he died I found myself having a conversation about Confirmation names with my father. He seemed quite certain that I had chosen the name “David,” and not James. And as we talked he seemed so certain that I began to doubt my own memory. 

Was it possible that he was right, and that my Confirmation name was actually David? It seemed unlikely, since I couldn’t recall ever hearing of a single St. David. No, not even a church with that name. Besides, wasn’t the name David kind of, you know, Jewish?

It was a few months after my father died that a memory came to me, and it solved the mystery. It was shortly before my Confirmation and I was standing out on the street in my neighborhood, talking with my friend Jimmy. He asked me what name I had chosen and I surely told him James. I know this to be true, because of his response.

“Good choice!” he laughed. I had never even made the connection.

It was a year later and my best friend Lenny had just made his Confirmation. I asked him what name he had chosen and he said “Paul.” I nodded my approval, recognizing it to be one of the most Catholic of names.

“Yes, I got it from Paul McCartney,” he said.

To me, good little Catholic boy that I was, this was nothing short of blasphemy, and I remember it upset me a bit. This was partly because you were supposed to pick the name of a saint and partly because I hadn’t thought of it myself. 

The difference was, even if I had thought of it first, I would never have done such a thing. Imagine a nun finding out that you had taken your Confirmation name from a Beatle? Perhaps Saint Ringo? Even now I shudder to think about the consequences.

I was again recalling this story only a few months ago, when a sudden realization made me laugh out loud. Life, sometimes, has a way of dropping funny little treats on you when you least expect it. For example, do you happen to know Paul McCartney’s actual first name?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

“I Feel Sorry For the Dog”

You’ve said it, and so have I. You see a homeless person, almost invariably male, with a dog and you express your sympathy for the dog. Oh, sure you, if you’re any kind of human being at all, also empathize with the man, but you can’t shake the feeling that the dog is just an innocent victim,  while the man is somehow responsible for his circumstances. And he may well be. I’m no sociologist.

Along with the sympathy one feels for a dog whose owner is homeless, there’s a humorous aspect to the situation as well. You can’t help but think of all the spoiled doggies and pussy cats who at this very same moment are being brushed, fed or are curled up by the heater on this chilly night. Celine my cat certainly is.

I saw him, them, as I entered the shopping center parking lot. The man was sitting next to his bicycle, holding a cardboard sign that I would later find out said “Karma.” Sure, he was being a little preachy for my taste, but desperate times and all that. His dog, medium-sized and of an indeterminate breed, was sleeping at his feet.

I drove past the duo, parked my car and walked into the CVS, looking for the specific eye drops that my eye doctor had given me a three-dollar coupon for and said I should try. I found them, discovering at the same time that the three dollars wouldn’t be taking a particularly large bite out of the twenty-five dollar price tag.

I grabbed the tiny bottle and then headed two aisles over to get the second item I had decided to buy. It was a bag of dog food, and it cost considerably less than the drops. I paid for my items, thankfully not forgetting to use my coupon, and headed back to my car.

I soon reached the corner where the homeless man still sat, holding his sign. I stopped for the red light and waggled a five dollar bill, enticing the man to come over to the lowered passenger-side window. I gave the bill to him and then, quickly before the light turned green, I handed him the bag of dog food.

“Oh, thanks!” he said, genuinely and enthusiastically. I don’t know why, but it made me feel good to see the man become much more excited about the dog food than he did about the cash. Now maybe, I thought, it was because it wasn’t a very large amount of money. Secretly, though, I hoped it was because he really loved that dog.

And then the light turned green, and so I rolled up the window and I drove home.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Rich (And Not So Rich) Celebrities: A Quiz

Who is more generous, the billionaire who donates ten million dollars to get a building with his name on it, or losers like you and me, struggling to pay our bills but still occasionally handing five bucks to a homeless woman on the street? Well, I think we all know the answer, but we still won’t ever be mentioned in any quizzes, that’s for sure.

And certainly not in this one, because this is a quiz about the rich, the filthy rich and even the formerly rich. And since you hemmed and hawed for fifteen minutes about whether to pluck down the measly buck it costs to buy this quiz, I’m guessing that doesn’t include you.

All the information here comes from a website called Celebrity Net Worth. And while I have no way of verifying the accuracy of any of their statistics, they seem like they know what they’re doing. Besides, they’ve posted all of their data on the Internet, so it must be, you know, true.

1. Which rock star is the richest?
a. Mick Jagger
b. Bruce Springsteen
c. Keith Richards
d. Ringo Starr

2. Who is not a billionaire?
a. Steven Spielberg
b. Howard Stern
c. George Lucas
d. Paul McCartney

3. Who is not even a millionaire?
a. Pam Dawber
b. David Cassidy
c. Debby Boone
d. Delta Burke

4. Which musical partners each have the same net worth?
a. Donald Fagen & Walter Becker
b. Jack White & Meg White
c. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel
d. Naomi Judd & Wynonna Judd

5. Which former president is worth the most?
a. Bill Clinton
b. George H.W. Bush
c. George W. Bush
d. Jimmy Carter

6. Which one is a billionaire?
a. Larry David
b. Jerry Seinfeld
c. Both
d. Neither

7. Which movie star is the richest?
a. Jack Nicholson
b. Clint Eastwood
c. Johnny Depp
d. Tom Cruise

8. Who is the richest actor on The Big Bang Theory?
a. Jim Parsons
b. Johnny Galecki
c. Kaley Cuoco
d. Simon Helberg

9. Whose typewriter makes the loudest “ca-ching”?
a. James Patterson
b. John Grisham
c. Stephen King
d. Danielle Steele

10. Which is the richest sports legend?
a. Tiger Woods
b. Brett Favre
c. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
d. Michael Jordan


1. Surprisingly, all of these music legends have a fairly close net worth, if you consider $60 million to be fairly close. MICK JAGGER comes out on top with $360 million, followed by Ringo Star at $350, Keith Richards at $330 and Bruce Springsteen at $300 million. What’s surprising is that Ringo, who no doubt has nowhere near the song publishing rights as do the other three, is still near the top of this iconic group. The reason as to why this is so is not such a mystery. He’s an effin’ Beatle, that’s why.
2. Spielberg, Lucas and McCartney are all members of the “Billionaire With a B Club,” with net worths of $3.5, $5.1 and $1.2 billion respectively. Poor HOWARD STERN is worth a mere $600 million, a financial situation that will no doubt improve with his new five-year, $450 million contract. Save those pennies, Howard!
3. In 1972 Partridge Family star and teen heartthrob DAVID CASSIDY sold out the Houston Astrodome twice in one weekend. The media often referred to his incredible popularity with the unoriginal word, “Cassidymania.”  Currently the troubled star’s net worth is listed as $500,000.
4. Despite PAUL SIMON writing nearly all of the duos music, and still more as a solo artist, and ART GARFUNKEL basically just singing along (although beautifully,) each has a net worth of $45 million. How is this even remotely possible, you ask? I have no idea. Oh, and if you picked DONALD FAGEN & WALTER BECKER, congratulations. Each is worth $15 million, a coincidence I wasn’t looking for, but it’s too damn late and I’m too damn lazy to research yet another singing duo.
5. I was going to ask which former president has the lowest net worth, but that would have been too easy. It is, of course, Jimmy Carter, with only $5million in his overalls. In ascending order, we next have George Bush the First with $25 million followed by Junior with $35 million. Bill Clinton leads the way with a net worth of $80 million.
6. Although Jerry Seinfeld is worth about twice as much as Larry David, NEITHER is a billionaire. Yet. Seinfeld’s net worth is $800 million. The show Seinfeld has already made over three billion dollars in syndication with little evidence of it fading in popularity anytime soon. And so we expect to see Jerry Seinfeld, co-creator of the greatest sitcom of all time, knocking at the door of the Billionaire’s Club real soon.
7. Yes, the winner is everybody’s favorite Scientologist, TOM CRUISE, who clocks in with a net worth of $470 million. Just a scant $70 million behind are both Jack Nicholson and Johnny Depp. Bringing up the rear is squinty-eyed movie legend Clint Eastwood with $375 million jingling in his pockets. By the way, Meryl Streep, the most Oscar-nominated actor in history, somehow manages to squeak by with only $75 million. But that’s to be expected because she’s, you know, a chick.
8. As you might expect, JIM PARSONS, who plays the peculiar yet loveable Sheldon Cooper, comes out on top with a net worth of $50 million. He is followed by Kaley Cuoco at $45, Johnny Galecki at $40 and Simon Helberg at $25 million.   Incidentally, The Big Bang Theory producer Chuck Lorre, who also produced the mega-hit Two and a Half Men, can buy or sell any and all of these kids. His net worth is a Seinfeld-esque $700 million.
9. JAMES PATTERSON is the richest scribbler of the four, with a net worth of $430 million. Not too far behind is Stephen King, with a worth of $400 million. Oh, I purposely left out J.K. Rowling because I wanted to make the question at least a little challenging. Rowling’s literary wizardry has earned her a nice and tidy sum of one billion dollars.
10. Anyone who has ever paid over $200 for a pair of damn sneakers knows the answer to this one. Basketball legend MICHAEL JORDAN, like J.K. Rowling, comes in at an even one billion. (Except Jordan, unlike Rawling, didn’t do it all while sitting on his ass.) Years ago Mike Tyson might have been one of the choices, but that was before he squandered his $300 million fortune. Today he has scratched and clawed (and bitten) his way back so that his net worth currently stands at a million dollars. Yup, just the one.

Friday, June 19, 2015

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