Is ‘Jeopardy’ our Only Hope?


Since I remain on the road this week, I share another gem from my previous newspaper column, “the Lighter Side.”

While flipping through channels the other day on television. I came across the one-billionth episode of the game show “Jeopardy”. Have you ever tried to analyze the reason why this show continues to be a favorite? It is because we are all astounded that there are actually real people who are teeming with this intelligent drivel. Just think about it, do you really think the rest of the country would admit that the only answers they know fall in the category of, “Okay, Alex, $500 for dumb answers please!”

Sadly, it’s this category that most of us know well. Has it ever occurred to you that most Americans couldn’t care less that the average yearly temperature on the planet Neptune is slightly lower than a Minnesota root cellar in January? Or, that a cow belch has enough methane to heat a four bedroom bungalow for a year? Or that ants have peripheral vision if their antennae don’t curl? Hey, Im at the age when if I remember to take a water pill, I feel like a Jeopardy champion!

It must be that we ask dumb questions because we find thinking to be too taxing. The other day, I heard a woman tell a group of her friends that a horrific accident had happened to her husband that required 43 stitches to his head.

One of the group asked, “Did you take him to the hospital?

“No”, she replied with a bit of sarcasm, “I just adjusted the width on my Singer sewing machine and did a beautiful zigzag pattern on his bald spot. Why it saved me a bundle.”

The additional question was priceless. “You sterilized the needle didn’t you?”

I guess we’re all doomed to a continual life cycle of insipid questions. If we don’t ask them, then we have to answer somebody else’s. I was in a department store recently looking for plastic baby pants as a gift. You know, the kind that goes over diapers? Not finding any, I asked the cashier if the store had any. Thinking she was being helpful she asked, “Did you look in the baby section?

Holding my sarcasm, I said, “Do I look like the kind of person who would look for rubber pants in the automotive section? That question stumped her!

You know, maybe we’re on to something. Maybe “Jeopardy” really is America’s last hope for intelligence.

“Okay Alex, $200 for Viking Literature, please…..”

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Why Is There So Many Choices?


Since I am on the Road, I’ll share with you a post from my New Mexico Column, “The Lighter Side.”

The other day I was sent on a simple trip. I was to go to the local department store after work and pick up a bottle of shampoo for my daughter. An easy task right? Hardly! Do you ever have a day when making one more decision is just one to many?

I arrived at the hair care aisle totally unprepared. I found shampoos with wheat germ, lemon seed extract, thistle slivers, avocado, crushed aloe, cocoa butter, almond paste, guava oil, and honey. I even found shampoos with wildflower oils in it. It’s no wonder that in the summer, bees want to pollinate my head. How about musk oil? I still hate to think where this oil comes from since the only origin I know is from an ox gland. I even found a shampoo called Mane and Tail that can be used safely by humans and animals alike. How comforting to know that if I choose, I can take a shower with my gelding. I ask myself, does a hair follicle really know the difference between the 97-cent Acme brand and the $12 Papaya Permeating Petal Dew brand?

When was the last time a handsome man sat next to you, took a deep breath of your essence and passionately whispered, “You must have washed your hair in a non-allergenic, body building, anti-global warming floral scented, hibiscus based pear juice shampoo.” I don’t think so! Unless it smells like microwave popcorn, save your money. Men aren’t going to notice your shampoo unless it comes in a souvenir football helmet and smells like WD-40.

I laugh at various manufacturers who use everything from supermodels to cartoon characters to tout their products. As if a bottle with the Tasmanian Devil on it would make me rush down to my local hair care center. I am still looking for a bottle that says, “If your hair sticks up like a pair of antlers, try Bullwinkle Mousse.”

Decisions can overwhelm us in the simplest of tasks. Consider clothes washing for instance. Aside from the separation of colors and which soap to use, recent women’s magazines tout the fact that if you are single, laundromats are the best place to find a man. I hate to burst some bubbles, but if a man is over 30 and doesn’t yet own a washing machine, shouldn’t this raise a caution flag? I wonder if the same magazines say the tell-tale sign of a good male prospect is a ten dollar roll of quarters?

Just think about how many decisions we are forced to make each and every day. The very moment I sit for breakfast I have to choose between eight cereal brands, when I shower-three soaps, cologne-five, parking places at work-40, priority list at work-15, where to eat at lunch-25, routes home-3. It’s no wonder when I get home the only thing I want to decide is whether I want to turn on my electric blanket now or later. Now if I could only decide when to go to bed 9 pm or 10 pm? Another decision, Oh, no, I’m doing it again!

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Fixated on the Wrong Thing


Are you as concerned as I that the world seems to be coming apart faster than a double cheese pizza at a Weight Watchers Convention? Yet every day when I watch the news, the media seems more fixated on trivial matters than the real problems.

If the conventional wisdom is we already know terrorists are trying to enter the United States at the southern border, why is the border open, and national football league and school lunches the central theme of media conversation? I remember a gospel tune some years back with the words, “Why are we rearranging pictures on the wall when the house is on fire?” No offense to the media but school lunch programs, Hollywood fashions, and football players who spank their kids, is not high on my priority list.

This week we learned (shock of all shock) that school lunch waste has now surpassed 80% in some school districts since Michelle Obama, (the Mostess who wants our Hostess) initiated her war on lunch boxes. I have a news flash: Preschoolers favor Potato Chips over Kale Chips, does this surprise anyone?

Since the new “The Lord giveth and the government taketh away initiative was implemented, brownies are out and bake sales are as scarce as a complete set of teeth at a Willie Nelson concert. You’ll find macaroni and cheese, pizza, and soda pop will be only spoken in hushed tones like the passing of a beloved icon. Didn’t peasants of yore rise up and fight for a lot less injustice? Yet I bet we’ll see in the future an appropriations bill allocating funds to study the conundrum of why our nation’s kids don’t like these new lunches.

We have a lot bigger problems and it didn’t start in the kitchen. Our problems start in the halls of our government. They’re too busy rearranging pictures and plum positions while the country is ablaze. Sure our borders are porous, our unemployment numbers are at record levels, and our taxes are too high. Yet what do they want us to focus on; school lunches? When referring to our legislators I think this metaphor works best, “doesn’t that just take the cake?”

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The (S) Age Observation


Each morning I begin my day like most. I twist, gyrate, dance and shout for an extended period of time. An exercise program you ask? Hardly, I’m just trying to get lids off the things I want to eat. Since when are pickle jars personally sealed by the Jolly Green Giant? Are manufacturers welding their lids into place now?

There is nothing more demoralizing than realizing you can’t even open a glue bottle anymore without grimacing and turning purple. And what about the size of fonts and prints? I recently was shown through a microscope where an artisan etched the 23rd Psalm on a grain of rice. I think he’s now quit his day job and is printing labels for vitamin bottles. The only word legible on my bottle, is the word vitamin. Who knows, I could have just been taking a Skittle for the past five years and never knew it.

Same goes for the menus in restaurants. I look like a gemologist when I forget my glasses. I study the thing like a fine diamond when I order from one. My head is down, it’s three inches from my eyes, and I get excited when I find a tantalizing part. I believe the reason buffet tables on cruise ships are so popular is because everything displayed is big. Ice sculptures, platters, cakes. You can actually see what you’re eating. Minus my coke bottle reading glasses, my food is so blurry it looks like I’m eating Vaseline.

I must also be at a loss in the hearing department. I dare you to find a radio station today where you can understand a single word of a song; any song. I’ve resigned myself to talk radio exclusively now. When I think of my frailties, I can’t help but think of the ensuing story.

A man asked his 50 year old wife what she’d like for her birthday. “I’d really love to be ten again” she replied wistfully. So on the morning of her birthday, he arose early, made her a nice big bowl of Frosted Flakes and then took her off to their local theme park. What a day! He put her on every ride in the park: the Death Slide, the Wall of Fear, the Screaming Monster Roller Coaster, everything there was.

Five hours later she staggered out of the theme park. Her head was reeling and her stomach felt upside down.Right away, they journeyed to a McDonald’s where her loving husband ordered her a Happy Meal with extra fries and a refreshing chocolate shake. Then it was off to the cinema to see the latest blockbuster, complete with a hot-dog, popcorn, a big fizzy drink, and a huge bag of M&M’s, her favorite sweets.

What a time she had! Finally she wobbled home with her husband and collapsed into bed exhausted. He leaned over his precious wife with a big smile and lovingly asked, “Well, Darling, what was it like being ten again?” Her eyes slowly opened and her expression suddenly changed.“You idiot”, she replied. “I meant my dress size…”

When it comes to me getting old, there’s some things even hearing aids and glasses can’t fix.

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