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Monday, July 06, 2015
  • Sunday, July 05, 2015 9:09 PM

    Time magazine named it the greatest comedy sketch of the 20th century. At the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, a continuous loop runs to the delight of fans. In 2005, the line "Who's on First?" was included on the American Film Institute's list of 100 greatest movie quotes of all time.

    When I was about eight years old, I first heard it performed on the Abbott and Costello TV show and I remember thinking, Wow, baseball AND funny. What could be better than that?

    The origins of this timeless piece of comedy are a bit sketchy, but even Abbott and Costello conceded that the premise of confusing names with other parts of speech had a long history in Vaudeville. 

  • Sunday, June 28, 2015 10:46 PM

    I don’t want to spend the money; I don’t think we will get a good return on our investment; the house will be a total mess for six weeks; it will be extremely stressful; and, I really don’t care if we have soft-close cabinet doors and roll-out pantry shelves.

    I only agreed to remodel the kitchen because I was sure that once the construction began, I’d find lots of humorous things to write about, which is way more important to me than granite counter tops with beveled (or did we decide on rounded?) edges.

  • Sunday, June 21, 2015 7:48 PM

    This month marks my 35th year in television. It seems like just yesterday I was nervously standing in front of a camera, not sure which direction to look, unprepared for my segment and babbling incoherently. Wait a second – that was yesterday!

    I originally wrote that paragraph in 2009, lamenting that after all my years on earth, I had failed to improve in 10 specific areas. I pledged to make strides and then update readers on my progress in about five years. So, as promised, here goes . . .

  • Sunday, June 14, 2015 11:46 PM

    My wife informed me the other day that she was top heavy. “I have to be honest,” I told her, “but I never noticed this.”

    “That’s because you are a man,” she said.

    Mary Ellen came to this conclusion not by looking in the mirror, but by looking in the kitchen cabinets. “You wouldn’t have known about this problem,” continued Mary Ellen, “because men never look inside pantries.”

    Things were getting weird, even for me.

    Mary Ellen’s revelation about being top-heavy came about when we decided to redo our kitchen. By the way, I think that “redo” is the wrong word. If you are redoing something, that means you did it once before. (A woman sometimes gets a hairdo, but it’s really a hair redo.) I have no memory of ever doing our kitchen. We moved in 20 years ago . . . and there it was. We haven’t done another thing to it since 1992, except replace the toaster. Now, apparently, we are redoing it. 

  • Sunday, June 07, 2015 7:11 PM

    This is Part Two of my highlights of the newest Hammacher Schlemmer gift catalog. Just in time for Father’s Day, it includes some items that might make dad wish you’d gotten him a tie.

    Insect Blunderbuss: This is a rifle-type weapon that when loaded with salt can be used like a shotgun to pulverize flying insects. It offers a great lesson to pests about the dangers of a high sodium diet.

    The Selfie Toaster: Here's how it works. You upload a photo of yourself to the manufacturer and they send you a customized heating insert that imbeds your likeness onto the toasted bread. Many women returned the item, claiming they looked old and wrinkled, so now the company is recommending against using English muffins. 

  • Wolfsie gets his plate back
    Friday, June 05, 2015 8:26 PM
  • Monday, June 01, 2015 12:14 AM

    It’s been a rough week for me. We had been together for almost 25 years and we were very attached. For reasons way too complicated to explain, regulations at the BMV would not allow me to renew my BARNEY8 license plate. What an emotional goodbye we had.

    For those who don’t know, Barney was my beagle who accompanied me on WISH-TV, Channel 8, for more than 12 years, entertaining viewers with his unpredictable antics each morning. Next month marks the 25th anniversary of when I found him on my doorstep on my way to work at the TV station. I soon started taking him to work with me every day at my wife’s insistence (he was destroying the house). He became a TV star very quickly and I celebrated our working relationship by purchasing a vanity plate with his name and the station’s number. 

  • Monday, May 25, 2015 8:54 PM

    Just in time, my newest Hammacher Schlemmer catalogue has arrived, I assume for Christmas 2015. Below are some actual items for sale.

    Instant Pickleball Set: This game sets up in the yard in minutes. It combines the skills required for badminton, table tennis and regular tennis. I think we can all agree that when we want spur-of-the-moment enjoyment, the first thing we think of is combining three sports we are bad at. By the way, the national pickleball champion has been accused of deflating the balls in the competition. In pickleball, this is just not kosher.

    The Giant Rubber Duckie: This 8-foot inflatable duck for the pool has a pretty good chance of turning up in your kids’ nightmares. Here’s what the catalogue says: “The Rubber Duckie has a bulbous aquatic form . . . with a bouncing buoyancy that compels wanton water play.” There’s a nightmare for writing teachers.

  • Monday, May 18, 2015 2:05 AM

    10. The monologue. Unlike other hosts, Dave is quick to admit when one of his jokes has bombed, a technique he learned from Johnny Carson. But here’s another difference in late night monologue style: for Fallon in particular, virtually every punchline is followed by additional commentary, attempting to reinforce the joke. Letterman’s zinger is over when it’s over, except for the host’s mugging to the audience. Which approach is better? Well, if you were a Jack Benny fan like I was, you’d know the answer.

    9. Fun facts (a segment they have discontinued). Based on the fictitious Federal Bureau of Miscellaneous Information, the sketches began with some relatively obscure but legitimate facts to set up the premise, but then we got gems like this:

    Orville Wright was the first person to return his seat to the upright and locked position.

  • Monday, May 11, 2015 2:04 AM

    A few weeks ago I wrote a column about the cliché story lines on cop shows. But limiting my criticism to police dramas was a crime. Here’s what else drives me nuts in shows:

    Doesn’t it seem like everyone you see on TV or in the movies is a whiz at typing on a computer keyboard? They use both hands, and keep their eyes on the screen. Can anyone really do that? I may be old school, but I grew up with typewriters, and I took typing in high school. I've been sitting at a keyboard my entire life. But I don't type. I hunt. Then I peck. Then I do a little more hunting and gathering . . . of mistakes. And I only use one hand, which sounds like I’m bragging, but I'm not.

    I don't understand it when on a TV show the boss says, "I'm not accepting your resignation.” On House of Cards, several staffers have tried to bail on Kevin Spacey, but he simply said “NO WAY: Resignation not accepted.” I wish this would have happened to me when I left previous jobs.

    "I'm sorry, Dick, we do not accept your letter of resignation.”

    "Okay, cool. But I'm still not coming to work. Please send my check to this address.”


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