Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Channel Surfing

 Long ago my wife Bev gave up trying to curtail my watching five football games in a row, and when it comes to scratching and burping she has come to realize that one cannot stop red-blooded American men from doing such things.  Currently, however, she’s on a crusade to limit my channel-surfing activities.

I don’t know about you, but I cannot stand to watch three, four, and  even sometimes five commercials in a row.  I don’t like to waste my time hearing someone trying to sell me something that I neither need nor want. If the networks spaced them out I’d be okay, but after about two minutes of mind-numbing advertisements I’m ready to find another program.

Bev’s biggest complaint is that often I don’t quickly return to the original program, but why should I if the second show is more interesting than the first?  After dinner last night we began watching “Dancing with the Stars.”  That show is okay (some of the ladies’ costumes are more than okay), but when I changed channels there was a program that presented “evidence” that aliens had helped the ancient Egyptians build the pyramids.  Why would anyone want to return to a dancing program when one can learn the secrets behind the construction of the pyramids?  Besides my wife, that is…

Like most men, I’m willing to compromise.  As soon as the Egyptian story was interrupted by commercials I dutifully but reluctantly returned to the dancing show.  Although we had missed only two dances Bev was not a happy camper.

With a little experimentation I discovered that we can have a small picture from one channel in the upper right hand corner while a second network fills the remainder of the screen.  Being a sensitive and caring individual, which, of course, is a trait common to all men, I was willing to place the dancing show in the corner of the screen.  I think Bev was exaggerating when she put on her glasses and sat within two inches from the TV.

The most important time to use channel surfing is when there are multiple football games on the tube.  During commercials, of course, one flips to another channel.  About forty-five minutes are “wasted” on commercials during a televised game.  If a typical man did not channel surf during these advertisements, during his lifetime he’d spend about  three years accomplishing nothing!   Of course, Bev has on occasion argued that I waste my time by watching all those football games!        

 One may also change channels at the end of each play, unless the team is in a “hurry-up” offense.  By this method the football fan simultaneously can keep track of Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, and other top teams.

Bev turns to a particular channel that lists what is currently on each network.  Men know, however, that there is a more fun way to check things out; do channel surfing, of course.  Just watch each show for about two minutes.  Once you are through all four hundred channels repeat the process if a choice has not yet been made.  If you’re lucky you will find a show about aliens helping the ancient Egyptians build pyramids.

For Christmas Bev bought me a bow tie.  She bought herself a small TV that she placed in her sewing room.  Just to be safe, she hid the new set’s remote control.
*Merry Christmas!  May we have peace on earth and goodwill to all!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

He had a Secret

Most Americans who are 60 years of age or older remember that horrifying day in November of 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.  We can recall where we were and what we were doing when that dreadful news reached us.

For the younger generations we can serve as  first-hand resources for that particular historical event.  As a kid I remember making up various excuses to escape visitations to my grandparents’ farm; now I wish they were around so that I could “pick their brains”  about an era about which I can only read.

During the early childhood years of us older folks there lived a gentleman who could have offered us a first-hand account about a tragic event in American history that had occurred long before our births.

In 1956 one of the most popular TV programs was I’ve Got a Secret, which was broadcasted on CBS. Hosted by Garry Moore, the show featured panelists who would ask the subject “yes” or “no” questions in an effort to discover the person’s secret. 

On February 9th of that year a ninety-five year old gentleman named Samuel J. Seymour appeared on the show.  He had recently fallen at a New York City hotel, and as a result had suffered a swollen left eye as well as various bumps and bruises.  The host suggested that Mr. Seymour skip the show, but he was determined to appear.

The first panelist, Bill Cullen, soon determined that the guest had been present when something of historical importance had occurred.  After his line of questioning it didn’t take Jane Meadows long to guess that Mr. Seymour had been in Ford’s Theater on that fateful night of April 14, 1865, when President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.  In fact, Seymour was the last living witness to that tragedy.

Seymour was only five years old when Mrs. George S. Goldsboro, his godmother, took him to the theater to see the performance of Our American Cousin, starring the famous  actress Laura Keene. 

Lincoln, along with his wife, Mary, and Major Rathbone and his fiancĂ©e, Clara Harris, entered Ford’s Theater after the play had begun.  Seymour, who was sitting in the balcony opposite the presidential box, saw Lincoln smiling and waving to the audience.

A while later, the actor John Wilkes Booth, who had sneaked into the presidential box, was standing behind President Lincoln.  In one hand he held a one-shot derringer; in the other he grasped a knife.  Booth waited until only the actor Harry Hawk was on the stage.  The audience laughed loudly as Hawk spoke the last words heard by Lincoln: “…you sockdologizing old mantrap.”

Seymour did not witness the actual assassination, but he did hear the shot and then heard someone in the presidential box scream.  Next he noticed Lincoln slumped in his seat.  He saw John Wilkes Booth jump from the presidential box to the stage, and heard the villain proclaim: “Sic semper tyrannis,” which means “ Thus always to tyrants.”  Finally, before making his escape, Booth shouted: “The South is avenged.”

Today we can only read about this important historic tragedy, but here was a man, still living during our early years, who actually had been there!

Samuel J. Seymour died on April 12, 1956, just 15 days after his 96th birthday.  This was just two months since his appearance on I’ve Got a Secret.  He is buried at Loudon Park National Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


*Opening theme song:

Coldfinger, he’s the man The man with the freezing touch Such a cold finger He beckons you to his icy rink of sin But if you have any brains you won’t go in Frozen words he will pour in your ear But his touch will freeze up your beer For a girl knows when he has kissed her It’s the frozen kiss of death From Mister Coldfinger He loves only cold He loves only cold He loves cold! (If you want to sing along, please scream the last three words).

*James Bond, the debonair British secret agent, enters the office of the secret intelligence boss, the Department Undersecretary of the Monitoring Bureau (DUMB).

Bond: “Good morning, Miss Moneynickle,” the spy says to the pretty secretary.

Moneynickle: “Hello, sexy,” she replies with a wink.

*The Undersecretary, Bond’s boss, responds over the intercom: “Bond, quit flirting with that woman and get in here!”

Undersecretary: “James, we have a problem. This is a photograph of the notorious Coldfinger. The man cannot stand the heat; he keeps all his rooms at five below zero. As a child he began a life of crime in his neighborhood. At the age of six he was busted for swiping the neighbors’ ice cubes and then dumping them down his pants. At ten he spent time in jail for stealing electric fans. We want you to go in disguise and see what’ he’s up to.”

Bond: “This gives a whole new meaning to being frigid.”

Undersecretary: “Never mind the puns, 007; go see Q to collect the gadgets that will help you to succeed on this mission.”

Q: “Quit looking at my secretary and pay attention to what I’m showing you, 007. Here is the car you will use. Go ahead and start it.”

Bond: “This is fantastic! It emits an oil slick to make the bad guys following me skid off the road! What button do I use to activate it?”

Q: “No button is necessary. The old tub naturally leaks oil. Our budget was cut after the government bought the queen three more castles. We got a great deal in buying this car from a retiring police officer; I believe his name is Columbo.”

Bond: “Great. What else do you have?”

Q: ”Open this jar, James.”

*Upon opening it a foul-smelling thick smoke is emitted.

Bond: “Where did you get this?”

Q: “Los Angeles, of course. Now here is a ‘heat’ pen.’ When you remove the top a nuclear-generated reaction will instantly raise the temperature around you by 50 degrees. 007, are you listening to me?”

Bond: “Of course. You made the brilliant suggestion of removing the top.”

Q: “I was talking about my pen, James, not my secretary. You will wear these special shoes. If you kick someone with either shoe a rocket will shoot out the end and turn your opponent into ashes.”

*007 arrives at the casino where Coldfinger is playing a lethal game of ‘go fish.’ Bond arrives in a covered wagon and wears pioneer clothing.

Bond: “Valet, please park this wagon for me.”

Valet: “Who are you?’

Bond: “My name is Bond, Ward Bond. I’m a wagon master. Haven’t you ever watched the reruns of Wagontrain?”

Valet” “Yeah, I believe you, and I’m the Lone Ranger. What’s this all about?’

Bond: “ I’ll tell you if you promise to keep it a secret. My name is Bond, James Bond; I’m a secret agent here in disguise to investigate one Mr. Coldfinger.”

Valet: “How do you know I won’t tell someone?”

Bond: “See this license? It’s a license to kill. If you talk you die!”

*Bond enters the gaming area. There he spots Mr. Coldfinger, who is sitting on a huge block of ice while he plays a cutthroat game of cards. Bond becomes suspicious when he realizes that Coldfinger always wins. 007 then spots a beautiful young lady looking out the second floor window. She is using binoculars to read the other players’ hands. She then relays this information to Coldfinger, who is wearing an earpiece. Bond breaks his way into her room.

Bond: “So, you’re cheating for that good-for-nothing Coldfinger!”

Miss Kitty Litter: “If I don’t, he will kill me. Oh well, let’s get romantic.”

*Always a fast worker, five minutes later Bond begins to give Coldfinger the wrong information. During the next three hours the villain loses over forty matchsticks. He’s fit to be tied.

*Later that evening Bond sees Coldfinger at the dining area. The bad guy approaches our hero.

Coldfinger: “My name is Frosty Coldfinger.”

Bond: My name’s Bond, James Bond.”

Coldfinger: “Would you like a drink, Mr. Bond?”

Bond: “Thank you. I’ll have prune juice, shaken, not stirred.”

Coldfinger: “Prune juice?”

Bond: “I’m not getting any younger, you know. My character has been featured in films since 1962.”

*Coldfinger invites Bond to play golf the next morning. He accepts. Like most crooks, Coldfinger is a cheat. He drops golf balls close to the hole and is not beyond kicking a ball to a better spot. Going to the eighteenth, they are tied. Reaching into his golf bag, Bond opens the jar of L.A. smog. Coldfinger and his caddie cough and curse, but cannot see Bond nor the hole. After a few minutes the air clears.

Bond: “I believe I have a hole in one.”

*An angry Coldfinger gets a double bogey and thus has to buy Bond’s lunch.

*Bond later returns to Miss Kitty Litter’s room. There he finds her dead, frozen in a large block of ice. No doubt this was the work of Coldfinger.

*The next day Bond learns that Coldfinger has taken over the electric plant in Warren, Pennsylvania. Bond goes there and sneaks into the building to see what the villain is up to.

Coldfinger: “Gentlemen, now that we have possession of this key plant, we control the world’s supply of electricity. Anyone who craves air conditioning will pay through the nose! We will make a fortune!”

*At this point Bond, who is pretending to be a hall tree, unintentionally burps. Coldfinger orders his subordinate, Odd Jobber, to get the spy. Bond runs outside but is soon cornered by Odd Jobber, who throws a pointed shoe to dispatch his enemies. Bond ducks under the first throw.

Bond: “This makes me think of the old Ed Sullivan show.”

Odd Jobber: “How’s that?”

Bond: “He was always talking about having a ‘really big shoe!’”

*After another miss with his shoe Odd Jobber is able to corner Bond and begins strangling him. Bond responds by kicking the villain in the knee, which instantly turns the bad guy into a pile of dust. Unfortunately, 250 security forces working for Coldfinger take 007 into custody.

Coldfinger: “You have killed my best killer and friend! I bet he suffered!”

Bond: “No, actually I think he got quite a kick from it!”

Coldfinger: “You will die, Bond, but first I will introduce you to my Grandmother Coldheart.”

Bond: “Well, hello there. You wouldn’t look too bad in a bikini.”

Coldfinger: “Bond, for just one second quit thinking about women! It is now time to kill you!”

Bond: “May I write a last note to my dear mommy?”

Coldfinger: “Okay, but make it snappy.”

*Bond pulls the top off the pen and soon the room is heated to 45 degrees. Coldfinger screams and jumps into the nearest refrigerator. Meanwhile, about 500 of the intelligence agency’s best fighters enter the building and begin a colossal battle with the villain’s army. After cooling off, Coldfinger dumps several ice cubes down his pants and goes after Bond. Eventually he dazes 007 and makes a run for it by jumping into Bond’s car. Unfortunately, the old jalopy has no brakes. We watch as Coldfinger drops off a cliff.”

*Later, back at the Undersecretary’s office:

Undersecretary: “Once again you saved us from the bad guys, 007. I would like to reward you with a vacation, but something horrible is happening in the states. It seems that the Americans play a game called ‘baseball.’ Someone has been stealing bases! Here’s a plane ticket and good luck!”

*Two minutes later the Undersecretary turns on the intercom:

Undersecretary: “Get going, 007; quit flirting with Miss Moneynickle!”

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Battle of the Bulge(s)

As winter gave way to the colorful flowers, budding trees, and growing grass of spring, I noticed that my everyday clothes seemed to be smaller than usual.  “Dear,” I said to my wife, “Could you take out a few stitches in these pants?  They’ve shrunk over the winter.”

“They didn’t shrink, dear,” was her reply.  “You’ve expanded.”

Reluctantly I accepted the fact that too much time in the recliner mixed with too many tacos with extra cheese sauce had indeed made me a bigger man.  At  that point I headed to the grocery store, where I dutifully stocked up on cottage cheese, Cheerios (very low sugar content), vegetables, and fruit.

For the next two weeks I was very proud of myself.  Jumping onto the scales after ten days of self-imposed deprivation, I discovered that I’d lost almost two pounds!  By then I was a mere twenty-three pounds over my goal.  This would be a piece of cake!  On second thought, that is probably not the best way to describe one’s dieting procedures.

Then came vacation time.  Our son asked us to go to Europe with him.  Who could turn down such an opportunity?  I swear that within ten minutes of the invitation Bev had her bags packed and was on-line ordering the tickets.

Our first destination was Dusseldorf, Germany.  Our son went off to do his own thing, so Bev and I followed a path along the beautiful Rhine River.  All that walking made me ravenous.  Honestly, for a few minutes I did look around for a watercress restaurant, but had to settle for more traditional German cuisine.

One hasn’t lived until he’s devoured fried wiener schnitzel.  Along with the meat was served a large plate of French fries.  Admittedly, I devoured this high calorie meal, but I neutralized the damage by ordering a diet Coke!

The next stop was  the Netherlands.  Aboard a boat that served as a restaurant we ordered what the natives call pancakes.  They were thin pieces of a floury substance that covered the entire plates.  One was stuffed with bits of apple, while the other was covered with cherries.  On top of each pancake were two scoops of ice cream, while on the side were  containers of syrup and  dishes of whipped cream.  Still conscious of my weight-reducing program, I only drank two beers with my meal.

Never go to Brussels if you’re trying to lose weight.  Shops there offer waffles that are sensational.  I should know-Bev “forced” me to eat about ten of them.    The city also offers some of the world’s best chocolate, which, of course, Bev and I had to sample.  Feeling guilty, I walked two extra laps around the city square.  Realistically, I should have jogged to Moscow.

In Norway we followed narrow winding roads up the mountainsides on our way to some of God’s most beautiful scenery-the fjords.  Towns were few and far between, so at a store we stocked up on potato chips, Oreo cookies, French bread, cheese, and, of course, chocolate candy.

At our first stop in the land of fjords we enjoyed a roasted chicken, a salad, and assorted fruits.  This was probably the first and last healthy meal that we consumed on this trip.

On our  return to the states we were fortunate enough to get first class.  In that section of the plane one gets more leg room and seats that actually can be transformed into rather comfortable beds.  On the other hand, the airline over does the feeding part.  First, one is offered a glass of Champaign.  I don’t particularly like its taste, but why not take something that‘s offered to you?  Next, one is served two appetizers before the main course is served.

Some of the choices were rather exotic.  One of the main courses looked like a giant moose’s eye covered with some kind of rich sauce.  After devouring the main course I couldn’t be rude by refusing dessert, so I ate a large piece of what I think was carrot cake.  It might have been my imagination, but it seemed like the plane began tilting toward  my side of the aisle.

Once back in the states I made a firm promise to myself to get back on my diet.  I forgave myself for eating like a pig while on vacation, and   I even came up with a motto for the trip: “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may (must) diet.”