Monday, April 26, 2010

The Deuce and Guilty Pleasures

You don't tell your buddies, but maybe your wife knows, but only because she spends so much time around you. You don't talk about it with her. You don't tell your parents, your children, your colleagues, your employer, or your neighbors? Never! Not ever! They're the things that mysteriously give you pleasure, or at least more pleasure than you think they should. You don't know why, or if you do you find it impossible to put into words. What it is about them that makes you feel guilty varies. Maybe you think they cast doubt on your manhood, or your intelligence, or even your basic humanity. For whatever're guilty.

Here are some of mine. Laugh all you want...but I know you've got your own.


Encino Man; Pauley Shore does imitations of a chipmunk. It cracks me up every time. And Encino Man's dance moves? Groovy!

Starship Troopers; A great book turned into a B- flick. "Everybody fights...nobody quits. If you do, I'll shoot you myself." Blasting aliens is almost as much fun as wasting zombies. You know it!

Office Space; Having been an office drone for a big corporation for many years, this movie touches my soul, and leaves it bleeding. Sadly hilarious.

Fight Club; Having been an office drone for a big corporation for many years, this movie touches my soul, and leaves it shouting for joy. Sick, but oh so satisfying. What would Tyler Durden do?

Back To School; Rodney Dangerfield mocks academia just like he mocked the country club set in Caddy Shack. Add the late, great Sam Kinnison in an all too brief role as a passionate Vietnam vet, and the slinky Sally Kellerman as the sex appeal, and you get gut wrenching laughter that commie libs can't begin to appreciate.


Ally McBeal; I hated the Ally character, but all of the supporting cast rocked. The Barry White soundtrack put a smooth groove on the whole insane thing.

Larry the Cable Guy: Humor so low hillbillies are embarrassed...but it sure is funny. Nobody tells fart jokes like Larry, and I'll never again shop at Wal-Mart with a straight face. Get 'er done!

Frasier; You could never find two guys more different than me. Brothers Frasier and Niles Crane's neurotic, snobbish and status seeking forays into sibling rivalry were laugh out loud funny. Effete metrosexuals? Yes. Hilarious? Always.


The Savage Nation; Dr. Michael Savage's three hour tirades against everything liberal are enough to make any real man hoist the Jolly Roger and start cutting throats. Unleash your rage vicariously through Doc Savage!

Dr. Laura; So brutal and maddening even I can only tolerate about a half hour at a time. Nowhere else are morons, idiots and fools outed to a national radio audience with so much glee and so little mercy. Dr. Laura may be the one person on the planet with a lower tolerance for bullshit than The Deuce.

Art Bell's Coast To Coast, A.M.; If it's after Midnight and you're cruising the A.M. dial, you're going to find Art Bell, or his protege George Noory. Since it's after Midnight, the discussion is all about UFOs, Grey Men, astral projection, black helicopters and conspiracy theories. It's everything that goes boo! Scary, often hilarious and anything but boring.


Velveeta; The processed goo that looks and tastes like cheese. Nobody really knows what it is. It's formula is more top secret than Coke's. Slice it and make a sandwich or melt it and pour it over nachos, it's goo-licious! If you're worried about it's affect on your cholesterol you're a pussy.

Nacho Cheese Doritos; Just the very best salty corn chip snack ever invented. It has absolutely no nutritional value...but it's great with beer, and that's what's important. The "family size" bag isn't nearly big enough. South Americans riot whenever a bag is sighted.

Skittles; So much sugar just one will kill a hundred hummingbirds. Dentists puke at the mention of them. Tip; put ten on each side of your mouth, then bite down with all the force you can muster. The sugary jolt is like getting a Taser blast to the jaw! It hurts so good.

Chicken Gizzards; That mysterious internal organ that when bathed in batter and deep fried behind the counter at your local convenience store is good enough to make you buy some at 3:00 A.M., even when you're not drunk. Salty, crunchy mystery meat to rival Taco Bell's best. So bad for you vultures won't touch it.


Soccer Riots; Gotta love 'em. Any sports fan that brings smoke bombs and a tire iron to the game is aces in my book. Nothing like a good England vs. Germany blood feud to bring out the competitive spirit of soccer fans. Nothing will warm your heart like seeing English skin heads beating the shit out of German skin heads, and Russian skin heads waiting outside the stadium to take on all-comers.

Extra Strength Toilet Paper; Finally, someone at Charmin read my emails. Soft tp is okay for chicks and kids, but a man needs something he can really torque down on to get those stubborn dingle berries without suffering the heartbreak of finger break through! Know what I'm saying?

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Deuce And Books, Part II

Books; thousands of them. A few great, many good, most suck. In Books Part I, I listed the small number of books that had most impacted my life. In Part II, I'll recommend specific books and authors. These are the cream of the crop people. Only the very best.

Economics and Government:

The Road To Serfdom; F.A.Hayek. As the title suggests, how governments always grow like cancer and rob us of personal wealth and liberty.

On Liberty; John Stuart Mill. Why personal liberty rocks.

The Wealth Of Nations; Adam Smith. The premier work on free enterprise.

Free To Choose; Milton Friedman. The best modern work on free enterprise.

Forgotten History and True Adventure:

Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage; Alfred Lansing. The 1914 sailing expedition to Antarctica. Unbelievable adventure and survival.

Sea Of Glory: America's Voyage Of Discovery; Nathaniel Philbrick. South Seas exploration in 1832. No one knows about this expedition.

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex; Nathaniel Philbrick. Whaling ship sunk by a giant sperm whale and the agonizing survival of some of the crew. Riveting!

Life On The Mississippi: Mark Twain. Fantastic American history. Twain's best.

In Harm's Way: The Sinking Of The USS Indianapolis; Doug Stanton. WWII sinking of the ship that delivered the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Incredible heroics while surviving crew fought off sharks and exposure for four days in the south Pacific. Heartbreaking courage.

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster; John Krakauer. Disaster on Mt. Everest in 1997...five died. Heart wrenching decisions near the summit of Everest. Incredible courage.


Cosmos: Carl Sagan; The companion book to Sagan's groundbreaking TV series. Some of it dated by now, but it still boggles the mind.

The Right Stuff: Tom Wolfe; The Mercury program and the first American astronauts. Who volunteers to be the first to ride a rocket into space? Studs...that's who.

The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry; Bryan Sykes. The genetic mapping of man's beginnings and our spread throughout the world.

Science Fiction:

Dune: Frank Herbert; IMHO, the greatest single work of science fiction. World building to challenge Tolkien.

The complete works of Robert Heinlein. IMHO, the greatest body of work in science fiction.

World History:

I, Claudius: Robert Graves; fictionalized account of the life of the Roman Emperor Claudius. Terrific insight into the trials and tribulations of a man who never wanted to be the emperor of the world. A daily fight for survival within the Roman court.

The Flashman Papers: George MacDonald Fraser; Fabulously entertaining historical fiction of British Army in the Victorian era. Hilarious and chock full of untold history.

The Name Of The Rose: Umberto Eco; Murder in a medieval monastery during the Inquisition. Is there any period of human history more neglected than the Medieval period? Fantastic story and history.


Will: The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy; A unique individual enmeshed in the 60's meltdown and the Nixon White House.

The Killer Angels: Michael Shaara; a fictionalized account of the battle of Gettysburg in the Civil War. Amazing work. Drives home the terrible slaughter of that war, and the motivations, brilliance and courage of the combatants.

The Count Of Monte Cristo: Alexander Dumas; Just a terrific tale of adventure and vengeance. A classic...rightfully so.

Also read these authors.

Larry McMurtry: most famous for the television adaptation of his masterpiece Lonesome Dove. Great tales of the American West.

Arthur Conan Doyle: Sherlock Holmes...gas light on a foggy London night...crazed killer running rampant. Enough said.

Edgar Rice Burroughs: The adventures of Tarzan AND John Carter of Mars? Kick ass!

Book lovers love "best of" lists. I've given you mine. I sincerely hope you check out some of them. You won't be disappointed. And I hope you share your "best of" list. I'm always looking for a good book.

Here's to the author, the printing press and the human imagination. Add 'em up, and you get books. Wonderful.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Deuce and Books, part I

I've written previously about my love of Movies and TV, but I've saved the best for last. Books.

How many of you can remember the first book you ever read. Not a book your mom read to you, or a teacher read to you, but a book you read all on your own? I do.

It was 1967 and I was in the fourth grade, and the book was Black and Blue Magic. It was one of the best books of my childhood...and I still have it, all these long years later. It was about a young boy, maybe 12, growing up in San Francisco. His father had died, and his mother was struggling to make a living running a boarding house. One night a mysterious boarder arrived, and having befriended our young protagonist, gave him a bottle containing a potion that when rubbed into his shoulders, gave our young man wings. Real, feathered, giant wings; big enough to lift our young hero into flight. You can imagine some of the adventures that followed, and perhaps imagine the sacrifice he finally made to protect his mother's happiness and his own future. It's a child's book, but read it anyway. Better yet, read it to your own child or grandchild. Experience the magic together.

A year later, my fifth grade teacher read a children's version of Homer's The Odyssey to my class. We were riveted! My first venture into fantasy and adventure...and classics come to think of it. It was great, and played a major role in my life long love of epic stories filled with heroes, villains, monsters and daring-do.

I was in Junior High when I accidentally stumbled upon Tolkien's classic The Lord of the Rings. It was described in a tiny blurb of the Weekly Reader that we received every few weeks in school. Actually, it was book two, The Two Towers, that I read first. I laugh now at how perplexed I was at the abrupt beginning and equally abrupt end. It wasn't until I finished the book that I discovered it was the second book in a trilogy! I ordered book three, The Return of the King, next, and so knew the end of the story before I had ever read the beginning. I read the beginning, The Lord of the Rings, and after that the "real" beginning, The Hobbit. Even though I had read the story in a haphazard fashion, to say the least, it did not lessen the absolute joy I felt reading it. A generation later, I read the entire series to my kids. They loved it as much as I did, and man did I enjoy reading it to them.

It wasn't until I was a young adult in 1979 that I would read the book that would have the largest influence on my life of all the books I've read, except one. It was Robert Heinlein's Glory Road. It wasn't the high adventure that made this book so memorable for was instead it's dissertations on political ideologies and human liberty that struck such a powerful chord in me. It led me to Libertarianism, which I adhered strongly to for the next twenty years of my life, and though it is no longer my primary political belief system, it still runs strongly in me.

It wasn't far, or long, from Heinlein to the ultimate in libertarian philosophy, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Yet another adventure, but lacking in sword play or monsters ( at least, non-human monsters ). The epic story of individual men and women who refused to bow to peer pressure or sacrifice their own sense of good and evil to "common knowledge", ultimately separating themselves from a corrupt and diseased society of cowards and parasites.

Still some twenty years later, while I was searching for a better understanding of eternity and my place in it, I read C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. Described by some ever so enlightened critic as the "Christian apologetic for people who's intellect gets in the way of their faith", I read it and was overwhelmed. It is such a simple and straight forward explanation of the deepest mysteries that mankind faces; I was consumed. Ultimately, Mere Christianity let me be content to not understand the fullness of God; that it was okay to be dumbfounded by the mysteries of existence; the existence of myself, mankind and the universe. To be incapable of comprehending the beginning or the end of time. To finally understand what "faith" really means, and to read the Bible like a grand, epic adventure full of heroes, villains, monsters and daring-do, instead of a just a dry and musty text book on how to live a good life.

There have been lots of other great books. More on those in part II.