Just got back home from finding myself in the middle of two feuding Canadian families. It’s ok..no one got hurt but at least a few were embarrassed. Yeah..our family buzzed up Hwy 401 to Toronto for a taping of an episode of Family Feud Canada, as the old game show finally arrives in the Great White North.
My son is a game show aficionado and always wanted to see one live. Since he’s not much of a traveler, flying out to the west coast wasn’t an option, but a four-hour drive was.
It’s been many years since I last attended a game show. It was in the early 1970’s. I grew up in NYC so popping over to 30 Rock in Manhattan was an easy bus and subway trip. My friends and I showed up one morning and they happened to be recording a couple of episodes of “Sale of the Century” host by Joe Garagiola. The whole thing took barely 90 minutes…but Family Feud Canada was a whole different bowl of poutine.
They told us to show up at the CBC building at 11:45am. We showed up at 11:30 and there already was a line to check in. Once we did that, we were told to get in another line. Stood there for an hour. Suddenly the line started moving and we were stuffed into padded elevators in small groups and taken to the 10th floor where, we stood in another line. Must be about time to enter the studio, eh? Naw…we stood for another hour while, we came to learn, the fun folks at Family Feud Canada were still rehearsing. Do you really need to rehearse, “survey SAID!!!!!” Apparently so.
Finally, we were ushered into a very large studio with a sparkling new, modern set. We lucked out and were seated in the second row on an aisle, but since the seats were angled, it was like scoring front row seats.
Nothing happened for awhile but then this chunky, bouncy, balding guy named Marty popped on stage and did the warmup. You know..get the audience happy and peppy and energized. Told us when to applaud and say “awwww” when a contestant gave a wrong answer and useful stuff like that. He also warned us about games we would be subjected to. Ah..the games. Later.
So the show finally starts and host, Gerry Dee bounds out and does the shtick. Yeah..I hadn’t heard of Gerry Dee either but came to find out he’s a famous Canadian comedian who does a long-running sitcom about a sort of schmucky teacher. It’s called Mr. D. I found some clips on YouTube and it is pretty funny.
Ever wonder what happens during the breaks? Well…our friend Marty pops out with a million watts of energy and orders us to get up and start dancing and when the music stops we’re supposed to freeze. If you don’t freeze, a woman named Tracie, also nicknamed “Madam X” comes by and slaps an X on you and that means you’re out. I swear I froze but Marty seemed to be appalled by my dancing and declared me out. Madam X was apparently also so disgusted by my personal choreography she didn’t even bother to slap the X on me…just said “sit down!” Yay! This went on for 10 minutes. Isn’t a break usually about two?
Next break, Marty comes out again and insists on annoying us with another game this time we all had to stand again. He would yell out things like, “whose favorite movie is Shawshank Redemption?” If you agreed, you sat down. I figured out pretty fast, it would be personally advantageous to agree to something quickly, so I plopped down when he told anyone who shaved in the last week to sit. That break was another 10-15 minutes. Now game shows usually record 5 in a day. These hosers were gonna be lucky to knock out one.
Finally the show proceeded but the producers wanted to review almost the whole thing before they got to the final, “fast money” round. Out came Marty again making us stand or dance or yell “woo woo!” or some other nonsense to keep our energy up with Taylor Swift and Katy Perry braying over the PA. Maybe another 10-15 minutes goes by and they do the first half of “fast money.” Then it’s time to bring out the second family member to complete the game.
I was watching the prompter, having had many years of reading off prompters and all Gerry Dee had to say was, “OK, you need 22 points to get to 200 to win 10-thousand dollars!” Easy, right? Poor Gerry Dee. This was only his second show but he made the mistake of trying to put the words on the prompter into his own words. He wasn’t close. Family member #2 has to go backstage and run out again, then Gerry Dee would give it another try. No good. Rewind. Family to backstage, run out again, Gerry botches it again. Gerry Dee finally decides there are too many numbers and orders “200” be deleted. Family member #2 slogs off backstage, and, almost out of breath, runs out on stage again while Gerry Dee attempts the truncated version of the line. Aw..it only too three more times!
Finally nails it, the guy does get 22 points, the family from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories wins 10-grand and the game is over…right? Naw….we’re going to overtime! Marty’s out rousting us from our seats to jump and dance and woo-woo to still one more Taylor Swift song and we’re all trying to shake off what’s now become an ordeal. We find out the producers didn’t like how the show opened so they have to do it over and we have to stand, and clap and woo-woo! with the same energy we had at the start. Meanwhile the losing family is skulking just off camera watching this and while awaiting the cue to record, Gerry Dee cracks to them, “you’re thinking, can we fuckin’ go yet?” Biggest laugh of the day so far.
The open is re-recorded, the show is over and we get to leave, four hours after we first arrived. The actual recording of what will amount to 22 minutes of television took about 90 minutes.
It’ ok! My son had the time of his life, we got to jump up, dance, say woo-woo! a lot and have a cool experience. Survey SAID! “FUN, EH?”
I never owned a snow blower…until yesterday. That means I lived almost 25-thousand days without one. I never once wished I owned one, because that would mean I’d have to be out in the cold snow…well…blowing it.
For 11 years, when we lived in Arizona and Georgia, there wasn’t really any snow to blow, so that’s more than 4-thousand days right there. When we moved up to Michigan from Georgia back in 1989 the house we lived in for 25 years had a long, straight, double-wide driveway as well as a circle drive. Didn’t need to blow the snow away because the people who sold us the house had employed an excellent plow service and we kept them. They never let us down.
A little over two years ago we moved to a bigger house with a much smaller driveway. So small, we couldn’t get a plow service to accept us. So my wife and I figured we could shovel the stuff. Oh, that worked out until this past Monday night when we got hit with an early blast of snow…about 9 inches of it. We went out after dinner and started shoveling. But it wasn’t as easy as it once seemed. After half the driveway was reasonably cleared, we hung up our shovels for good. We made a solemn pact before turning out the lights that night that we’d finally have to concede to reality and buy a stupid snow blower.
Snow blowers fly off the shelves once the first flakes fly, so I got up early and was the first person at the nearest Menards when it opened at 6:30 a.m. I had already chosen which blower I wanted and confirmed on the store’s app they had a few in stock. It said they had five. When I got there they had two. Whew! After I quickly grabbed the giant box containing the blower they only had one. Another guy was next to me who wanted something more beefy. All they had left was the floor sample. He snatched it off the shelf and hightailed it to the cashier. We gave each other that knowing look that said, “ha! we’re badass early risers who beat the other losers to the last snow blowers! Shovel THAT!” Yes, men are often morons.
As soon as I got home I couldn’t wait to extract the machine from its box and assemble it. It was easy. No tools required! The operating instructions were also easy. Then…the big moment. I fired up that snow eatin’ machine and commenced to blowin’! Having never before operated such a device, I thought it would be a drag. It wasn’t. I discovered the wonder of the chute that shoots the snow you just blew to somewhere it wasn’t. You could grab this handy rod and rotate the chute in any direction. Suddenly I had created a game where I could imagine aiming the chute at annoying pickup truck drivers and blowing them off the road with SNOW FORCE! I’d reach the next level by picking off poodles piddling on my lawn and giving door-to-door salesmen snowy face washes. Bam! Whoosh! Freeze! My snow blower had become the most awesome game console this side of my Atari 2600.
Then I came back from my Frigid Fantasy and realized my driveway was clear. I sulked like a six-year with no smartphone as I wheeled the blower back into the garage. For the rest of the day I would check the Weather Channel app in hopes more snow was on the way. It looks like we may get a dusting tomorrow. That’s fine. That’s plenty. That’s more than enough.
This boy’s pumped and ready to blow. That otherwise mundane appliance is now my force, my power, all I need to conquer the coolest and coldest….First Person Chuter.
I got behind a Kia Telluride the other day and couldn’t help admiring the brand’s new SUV. In fact, I had considered buying one when I was in the market for a new full-size SUV last year and gave it a good look at the Detroit Auto Show. I ultimately chose a Subaru Ascent. You see, even if the Ascent didn’t win me over by a few salient points, I couldn’t have bought the Kia anyway.
The reason had zero to do with the quality, appearance or performance of the Telluride. Indeed, I can’t bring myself to buy any Kia. It’s not what you think. I have no problem with buying a vehicle from a South Korean automaker. It has everything to with the company name–Kia.
You see, my father was a World War II veteran. He was actually a hero, awarded the Silver Star for capturing a house of Germans by ordering them in Yiddish, which sounds a lot like German. He passed away in 2007, but something he said to me when we were driving around one day long before that stuck with me.
My father started shaking his head and said to me, “Ed, that car in front of us. It says KIA on it.”
“Yes,” I told him. “That’s the name of a South Korean automaker that just started doing business here in the U.S.”
“Are you kidding me?” he said. “Do you know what that means? In the Army if you’re designated KIA, you’re dead—killed in action! Who wants to driving around with Killed in Action on their car? Someone made a bad mistake!”
I explained that KIA stood for something in Korean that has nothing to do with the Army designation and that they were pretty good cars.
“Even so,” he said with a little laugh, “I’d be pretty spooked driving around with KIA on my car.”
I hadn’t thought of that day for a long time because I had only bought Jeeps in the years near the end of his life until I retired from Fiat Chrysler in 2016. But when I was ready to consider other brands, I…just…couldn’t…do a Kia.
I did admire that Telluride and almost put it on my list, but I kept hearing my father’s voice–bewildered and bemused at the same time, saying “I just couldn’t drive a car that says “killed in action.”
When I got home from the auto show I told my wife about the Kia Telluride. She flashed a big smile and laughed as she said “Kia? Killed in action? Your father would never let you hear the end of it.” And that ended it.
I was in my local big box store the other day looking for some late season garden supplies. But where the fertilizer, hoses and jugs of stuff you spray to kill things had reliably been all spring and summer, perused by guys with guts like me, were replaced by shelves of pens, pencils, paper products, backpacks, moms and whining kids.
Yeah, yeah, back to school time again. Are you telling me the backpack the brat used only a couple of months ago is no longer viable or the pens probably still sitting at the bottom of last semester’s backpack are already out of ink?
I can see maybe getting some new clothes because kids grow but honestly, and I get that some stationary products become depleted but backpacks pretty much remain the same size and style forever.
Of course, when I was a school kid in the 60’s we carried our books in a rubber strap and our writing implements in a pencil case, which you shoved beneath the strap. You lugged your strapped bundle on your hip and by the end of the day you had a nice red, painful welt, somehow proving you gave major flesh to your education.
There also weren’t any big box stores with a billion choices of notebooks. We got all our school supplies and Sol and Lefty’s Candy Store on the corner of 249th Street and Union Turnpike in Queens, a couple of blocks from Glen Oaks Village..the massive apartment complex where we lived.
Sol and Lefty’s was cool. It was our hangout. You bought your candy and comic books there or sidled up to the lunch counter for an egg cream or a fried egg sandwich or a burger birthed in the same ratty aluminum frying pan made long before the advent of no-stick Teflon.
Artie, the skinny, bald short order cook, was not friendly. When you called out your order to Artie, he’d often snarl and invite you to screw off–but in less polite terms. It was part of the charm.
Sol and Lefty and Sol’s sister ran the place which was always populated by a New York City cop or two..not for security..but to pop in to lay some wagers on the races at nearby Belmont, Yonkers or Aqueduct. I mean, how much dough can you make selling penny and nickel candy and burnt burgers?
Around school time, they tossed some boxes of supplies they thought the kids would need on the booths no one sat at anyway. Loose leaf binders and paper, memo pads, Bic pens, number 2 pencils, pencil boxes and for a bit, those groovy things called a Nifty–a combo of pencil case and loose leaf binder. I had a brown one.
It was awesome. Kids were jealous. Jealous kids showed their jealousy by punching you in the arm. It was OK. I had the Nifty, they had anger management issues.
We also didn’t buy our school supplies before school because our teachers were very particular. On the first day of classes, especially in elementary school, teachers would give us list of what type of everything they accepted. Some only accepted loose leaf paper with two holes, some accepted three-hole paper, some required paper with five holes. One of my teachers did care how many holes but firmly forbid us to use spiral notebooks because once you tore out the pages to hand them in for grading, there was no way to put them back, leaving you with dozens of loose pages with ratty edges.
One teacher was very adamant about what kind of memo pad we used. The only use for a memo pad was to write down our homework assignments. You couldn’t write down the assignment on loose leaf paper or in a notebook–it had to be on a memo pad. NOT A steno pad–a MEMO PAD. A real memo pad had the word “memo” on the cover.
Now Sol and Lefty and Sol’s sister knew all this. They only carried certified memo pads–not a steno pad to be found. They also seemed to know what color binders and rubber book straps kids liked. That’s why they were able to keep a pretty limited stock–no sense in being stuck with stuff kids would reject. If you asked for something they didn’t have, Sol or Lefty or Sol’s sister would give you a snarling look as if to say, “are you questioning our school supply judgement? Get outta here and never return–unless you’re gonna come back for a comic book or egg cream.”
When we’d return to class the next day, our teacher would scan the room making sure we had only sanctioned supplies. Any renegades or losers who showed up with a two-hole instead of three-ring binder or non-certified memo pad, or, worst of all..a number 3 pencil, earned a verbal ass kicking and time in the hall to “think about what you’ve done.” Almost certainly, the chastised school supply offender would be making a return trip to Sol and Lefty’s to make appropriate amends before showing up in class the next day. Noting the proper adjustment the teacher would paste on their puss a complacent look–a personal reward for displaying such paper supply power over a little kid.
Sure, times must change and I imagine it’s a lot easier to schlep one’s books and supplies in a backpack than wedged against your hip strangled in rubber strap, and it’s nice to have choices, but I will argue till my last breath, compared to my time as a school kid, today’s supplies will never, ever, be as Nifty.
I’m quite sure none of you gave this any serious thought, but doesn’t it seem a bit suspicious that Mad Magazine announced it’s all but shutting down shortly after its “face,” Alfred E. Neuman was referenced by Pres. Donald Trump? You may recall Trump derided the chances of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s chances of succeeding him in the White House, telling Politico, “Alfred E. Neuman cannot become President of the United States.” Fact is, Neuman did give it a shot in back in the ’60’s, running under his fairly over confident slogan “What-Me-Worry?”
For Buttigieg’s part, he tweeted that he had to look up who Neuman is because he claimed he wasn’t familiar with the reference. To that, I say, anyone who doesn’t know who Alfred E. Neuman is cannot be President, since the gap-toothed ginger represents just what made me what I am today–a semi-retired aging Baby Boomer who spends much of his day writing things in his basement office partially adorned with water color courtroom paintings of Pete Rose on the wall. I covered the case. Our artist kicked over the water for his paints in the jury box and it still makes me laugh.
Now, two months later, Mad announces it’s shutting down. Coincidence, I think not. Once a chump like Trump co-opts the magazine’s mascot, you know only bad things can happen to a publication that took great joy in lambasting him and most of his predecessors over the past 60 some-odd years. That means my whole life.
But I will not be denied. My brother and I were devoted readers as we refused to mature into adolescence and adulthood, regularly coughing up a quarter, and later 35 cents (cheap!) for issues of Mad and deep in a box in my awesome basement I came up with these three beauties from the 60’s. The pages are brittle, but then again, so was the humor.
In what other publication could a kid learn to be a cynical shit though tough love satire like this classic showing the big bad wolf blowing down the Berlin Wall.
I still crack up about the warning about making sure we pay close attention to the asterisk in ads. 1964 Plymic “luxury car with the economy price” for $2,164. Asterisk-all the stuff you need like power brakes, seats, a roof….are extra.
There was the famous inside back cover fold in. Here’s one asking “Who wants to be President more than anything? with caricatures of former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and failed 1964 candidate Barry Goldwater. Fold it in…and it reveals the real answer….Richard Nixon!
Think things are much different today than they were in Mad’s heyday in the 1960’s. You would be wrong. Take a look at Chapter 1 in The Mad Primer of Bigots, Extremists and Other Loose Ends, which concludes, “Now you know what a Super Patriot is. He’s someone who loves his country while hating 93% of the people who live in it.”
Mad held nothing sacred, taking aim at even the most sacred chestnuts such as the soundtrack from “Sound of Music” as part of its feature titled, “Fakeout Record Jackets.”
Of course Mad’s classic subversive Spy vs. Spy strip basically lampooned how idiotic creating international conflicts is with every perceived “victory” being pyrrhic in the end.
Right up until the end, Mad shoved it up butts that deserved thorough stuffing, including recently departed Press Secretary Sarah Sanders …
and the arrogant Facebook posse.
But the bottom line is we need Mad’s kind of satire to keep us laughing when so much seems so hard to take. Oh sure, a lot of what “the usual gang of idiots” published was technically “fake,” but like all good comedy, based on truth…and that’s what helps us keep it real.
RIP MAD. Neuman in 2020! Sorry, Pete.
Been thinking a bit about the challenge of 10 candidates at a time trying to make their best pitches during the two-night Democratic version of “Survivor.”
The combination of binge-watching “Veep” and lack of REM sleep conspired to create this imaginary scenario of how it might go.
NBC Moderator: Welcome to the first Democratic presidential debates for the 2020 election cycle. Since we have so many unknowns, er, candidates on the stage mixed in with a few old guys, er, elder statesman, we’ll have to set down a few rules to make this work.
First, to save time, we’re boiling your names down to one or two quick syllables. For examples, you, from South Bend, you’ll be addressed as Butt, while long, tall, spastic hand-waving guy from Texas will be Butt-O. See the difference? Makes sense, right? There won’t be a doubt whom we’re addressing. The former Veep will be identified as Bye and the other old guy from Vermont will be Burn. The senators from California and Massachusetts will be recognized as Harry and Tonto respectively. Sorry if we seem disrespectful at times, but this is television and we don’t care.
As for the others whose polls barely show a pulse, we’re just going to address all of you as Who? Just jump in if you have a thought, but be prepared to do so only when we’re in commercial. That’s simply to keep things moving and because, again, we don’t care.
Some of you won’t like the names we’re assigned you but let’s face it, for at least half of you, it doesn’t matter because most Americans don’t know who you are anyway, so go with it and enjoy your 15 seconds of face time in between ramblings by the front runners, aka, those sucking up all the donations, airtime and are prominent enough to earn an obnoxious nickname from President Trump.
We’ll start with opening statements. Due to the number of candidates and time constraints please limit your statements to a 20-second pre-written soundbite you hope will go viral.
From there our panel, chosen from recent visitors to the Bronx Zoo, will fire off piercing questions. Each of you will be limited to either two-word responses or one hand gesture. Rebuttals are allowed, but, again, due to time restraints they will be limited to the following choices: “Huh,” “Uh uh,” “Well, yeah, but,” or simply a moment of arched eyebrows or a tight grimace.
At the end, each candidate will be afforded a closing statement of 12 seconds or less. That pretty much kills the idea of parenthetical thoughts or tangents and gets us off the air on time because no one in this great country wants to miss even a second of the popular NBC series “Filthy Rich Cattle Drive.” which, you have to admit, is genius programming following this useless cattle call.
We realize not every candidate will have to time to fully flesh out his or her talking points but then again, that’s not why you’re watching, right? You’re here for the inevitable embarrassing screw-up or pantsing of one candidate by another frustrated when his or her arched eyebrow rebuttal was laughed off as an incomplete response.
So if everyone is ready, let’s to this thing! Time’s wasting!
Thought you might like to know I recently bought a blue thing that’ll keep my sunglasses from sinking in the river…and a kazoo. These were not impulse items. Indeed, I had considered both for some time but never had the ambition to search among many stores, or online, for either. But I found them them mere yards apart at an old emporium in East Aurora, New York. It’s called Viddlers 5 and 10 with the subtitle, “you never know what you’ll find there.”
Let’s clear up something first. The 5 and the 10 do not mean nickel or dime. I found nothing there that costs pennies, but I suppose you could make the case that you do need at least 100 pennies to make a buck and most items there cost several of those.
Unlike the 5 and 10-cent stores I remember as a kid, Viddlers doesn’t have a tank of homeless goldfish for sale or a lunch counter serving up malts, BLTs or Bromo Seltzers.
What it does have is the luscious aroma of old wood-planked floors that squeak with every step, a million little tchochkes begging to collect dust in your home, lawn art, pots and pans, board games, paint, back scratchers, a billion types of candy and other sweets, books, magnets for your refrigerator with a picture of the store, (bought one of those too) and silly signs.
I love the one that says, “Unattended children will be given espresso and a free kitten.” No one actually buys them, but if you wanted to, Viddlers has ‘em for you.
How about a dopey hat that looks like a cheeseburger….or a bison? Might be a hit at the synagogue where every other guy just sports a little round yarmulke? I think bisons are kosher, no?
Then there’s the toothpick bird. Got something caught in your teeth? Touch the birdie the right way and it coughs up a handy toothpick. I can only hope Viddlers finds the floss flounder one day.
When visiting Viddlers it’s important to check out every one of its many rooms and every corner in each room because that’s where some of the best stuff is hiding, like a some odd sized pan or garden gargoyle.
I found my kazoo begging for attention on a lower shelf. It competed against two other kazoos, but I settled on mine because I liked the box and color. I wanted to try it out, as you would with any musical instrument, but I was told it’s not cool to slobber over something you may not decide to buy. So I took a chance and gambled two bucks it would mesh with my particular playing style.
The blue thing for my sunglasses was hanging near a bunch of toys, and not anywhere near sunglasses, which I’m not even sure Viddlers sells. I need this thing because I’m always afraid my sunglasses will fall off my head and into the drink when I’m kayaking or attempting to walk across Lake Michigan to Milwaukee. Now I can enter water with full confidence that no matter what unfortunate circumstances befall me, my sunglasses won’t sink.
Viddlers hasn’t always been called Viddlers. According to its website, “Robert S. Vidler, Sr. opened “The Fair Store” in the quaint village of East Aurora. Family legend has it that his mother-in-law complained of having to go all the way to Buffalo (16 miles distant) to buy a spool of thread – and Robert saw the opportunity for a new, local business.”
He changed the name to Viddlers 15 years later.
This was technically my second visit to Viddlers. My first didn’t last long. We intended to stop in on our way home to Michigan from my in-laws place in Rochester, N.Y. East Aurora, which is near Buffalo, is way off the route but my in-laws had enthusiastically recommended, so we took the detour. Hmm..plenty of parking in the back. Good start. Uh oh…door locked. It was Memorial Day. Sign informed us Viddlers not open on Memorial Day. Bad ending. So now it’s a year later and we avoided all holidays and tried again. This time there was still plenty of parking, but many of the spaces were taken…and the door was open.
We may go back to Viddlers again some day. I do like corn on the cob and ribs. I hope the toothpick bird is still available.