Friday, January 27, 2006

The Books I Read in 2005

Hi everybody and welcome to Part II of Literacy Week on the Blog!

As you may know from a recent post called Technology Schmecknology, I purchased some discs at Best Buy and got a free six week subscription to Entertainment Weekly. Of course I forgot to cancel after six weeks, so now I have a six month sub to the magazine… however this time I will keep track and put the kibosh on the weekly delivery at the six month mark since at that point, spring will be here and I will be too preoccupied with my baseball rotisserie team(s), and enjoying the nice weather.

EW has a regular feature on the back page.. a column by horror writer Stephen King. After reading his column, I am starting to understand how his brain came up with the horrors that he outlines so well in his many books…. He is just weird and creepy. In a recent back page column I noticed he was addressing the reader as Grasshoppah. Why is that? I don’t like the critter, and there are many other animals that I would rather be called. I don’t even like grass… I have hay fever issues and it irritates me. I also don’t smoke grass. I just don’t get it. Anyway his column did have a very funny joke that I am going to repeat here…”What did the Zen Master say to the hot dog vendor? - “Make me one with everything!”

Now that’s funny. He also did a year end column talking about the books he read in 2005 which totaled about 80. That’s a lot more than me by about 76 and of the four I read, I finished two of them. Although I read a lot, most of it consists of magazines and newspapers…. including several I read on-line. Speaking of which, I see that Google has been fighting the government’s request to turn over search records of its users. It has nothing to do with searching for terrorists, but actually involves the intrusive Bush administrations attempt to bring back old legislation outlawing porn. Turning the records over would confirm my theory about most male search engine users…. they’re searching for sexual sites. (plus we google our own names… how narcissitic!)…This is not a big surprise, and it explains why us men are so good at using searches. Some worry the government may interfere with searches so that teenage boys will only find references to the Eve Ensler play “The Vagina Monologues” every time they google the word,….. Monologues.

Today, I will talk about 2 books that I read... 2 that I didn’t finish and another book I bought on eBay that is sitting on my coffee table for 2006 reading pleasure.


Chuck Barris’ bizarre "autobiography" never quite made the Oprah Book club, but if it did.. there would be a lot less brouhaha over the Frye information that was recently exposed as fraud by The Smoking Gun Website. And boy did Oprah do a 180 from her lovey dovey call in to Larry King? And just imagine the scandal if The Smoking Gun finds inaccuracies in Oprah‘s autobiography! Can you imagine the horror?

Barris tells the story of how he created his game show trifecta... The Dating Game, Newlywed Game and Gong Show (along with a few others such as The 1.98 Beauty Show with James van Praagh lookalike Rip Taylor). However, the book is interspersed with tales of his "secret life" as a CIA hitman. If you read the book, the whole CIA angle is entirely tongue in cheek…. .. he talks about various girlfriends.. yet hes been obviously married to the same woman for many years who he thanks in the Acknowledgements. As a matter of fact I just pulled out the book and I noticed its referred to as “an unauthorized autobiography”…. a term you may have noticed I used in the previous column entitled "Jemima and The Sugar Plums". I didn’t steal it from Chuck since I also used the same term in my old Jdate profile which was originally uploaded in 1997 and deleted from the hard drives of hundreds if not thousands of heartbroken women when I got married in 2004.

I really didn’t care too much for the CIA episodes... To me the book would have been good enough just talking about his every day life as a game show producer. However, every time a landmark moment happened with his shows.. he’d get "a call" and it was off to another preposterous adventure. Nonetheless it made for a very entertaining book and elicited many a guffaw from me as I read it at the condo pool during the summer.

The book was made into a movie a couple of years back... except the film implied that Chuck might be mentally ill and really believed that these CIA adventures were really happening. George Clooney who is evolving into a popular movie director, directed this flick which featured an excellent performance by Sam Rockwell as Chuckie baby Barris. The screenplay was written by Charlie Kaufman who excels at these fish out of water movies... where the viewer is supposed to enjoy seeing Barris executing Russian commie spies...This movie was not as good as the other Kaufman movies such as "Being John Malkovich" "Adaptation", or even “Human Nature“. Those movies execute the fish out of water concept much more successfully. Maybe the fact that Chuck was famous, made it too much of a stretch to really think this could possibly be a true story. By the way check out "Adaptation" and then see the underrated "Human Stain" and tell me that these 2 aren’t the same movie. Author gets "writers block"... meets an imaginary friend. and voila... is able to write again. Chuck Barris definitely didn’t have writers block... Although maybe the Russian spy trips are “creative blocks” since he always ended up coming up with more TV ideas after one of his “adventures“. By the way, the first page is downright hysterical as he describes his morning routine! You’ll think twice the next time you hear the term “shriveled” and “overcooked bacon”.


This quick reading autobiography by Hollywood Squares host Peter Marshall is a very enlightening look about the history of the show. I will get into more detail about this program in an upcoming column titled "The Top 12 Game Shows of All Time". Marshall writes about all of the stars who appeared on his program and seems to be as happy go lucky and easygoing as he is on the show. He also gives Paul Lynde a break since Lynde was a notorious drunk who had a penchant for getting nasty to the other squares, but that is glossed over in the book.

One thing I didn’t know... Marshall hated Bert Convy for whatever reason. He doesnt go into much detail about it.. but he does mention it a few times in the book. He also didn’t like Dan Rowan from Rowan and Martins Laugh-In. The book is basically a tribute to the show which ran for 16 years in its original format, and since it was so popular in its heyday, fans of the program will find this book quite enjoyable. Marshall also includes photos of numerous landmark events during the show’s history and as an added bonus includes a CD that has funny answers provided by the celebrities.. There’s even a list of every star that ever appeared on the show! However some of the old timers who were up there in years when the show premiered in the 60s may not have the cd player needed to play the disc... but its much cheaper to burn a cd than make a tape or an 8 track.

The 2 books I didn’t finish were the 50 Greatest Movies Never Made and Spin Selling. The movie book runs through the stories of various movie concepts that never made it to film.. even though at least one of the movies “Alien vs. Predator” was made. There were some interesting concepts like National Lampoons Jaws 3 People 0.. but the stories got kind of dull....since most of the time it involved a star or director who couldn’t do the film, or there was some kind of legal problem securing the rights to get it made. Eventually I just got bored of it. It was my original pool reading book for 2005 but when the Barris book got here after I ordered it on eBay, I tossed it aside and read Chucks book instead.

Spin Selling is so dry.... its basically a work related textbook about making large scale sales presentations. Some of the anecdotes are interesting but I’ve tried reading it from the beginning and it tends to get dull. A co worker read the book and liked it... but he skipped ahead to the later chapters.. so maybe that’s the way to deal with it. The author worked for a research organization that launched a lengthy project that he constantly quotes that sounds a lot like that wacky company that built the crazy computer that is in the Hatch on Lost.I don’t know about you.... but I’m not sure how long Lost is gonna last before it jumps the shark. The Hurley lust for “other“ (or) “passenger” Libby is kind of interesting, but I’m really more interested in seeing Edgar hook up with Chloe on 24. Lost is still very original and successful, but they’re going to run out of gas at some point... and the 'secrets" the island holds won’t really be revealed till the show gets cancelled... which means the producers and writers are just going to drag this out until they have nothing else to do except build a radio out of coconuts and have someone smack his little buddy with his hat..... even though the more sophisticated viewer will realize that off camera the characters are engaged in giant homosexual orgies. That is the premise for Gilligan's Island... Isn’t it?

As for 2006... here are 2 books that might match my 2005 output... I just bought Podcasting for Dummies.... as I try to get into I Tunes... .Folks.. this podcasting is not as easy as it sounds! And I bought a book off eBay called “Amazin” by Peter Golenbock. Its the History of the New York Mets and its 654 pages long!!. I took a chance and bought it on eBay from a guy in Boston .and as soon as the book arrived in the mail... I checked out the chapter about 1986 just to make sure they didn’t rip it out in a state of fury.

Speaking of Massachusetts, I see that Republicans are thinking about having Governor Mitt Romney run for Prez when Bush's nightmarish 2nd term expires in 2008. I recall in the early 90s Romney launched an unsuccessful attempt to unseat Ted Kennedy from the US Senate. The 2 had an outrageous debate that was televised on C-Span... and Romney really had Kennedy on the ropes. Kennedy who took public speaking classes knew not to stutter when he was on the spot... and to cover himself till he could get his thoughts together repeatedly would say "Mr. Romney, Mr. Romney" instead of uh uh uh or homina homina homina....You could have started a drinking game he said it so many times!!

Mitt Romney lost the Senate election, but I had an idea... Hire World Series Goat Bill Buckner to do a political spot for him.... All Buckner would have to say is..."Hi I’m Bill Buckner and I want to tell you to vote for Romney... because everybody in Massachusetts could use a good Mitt!"

If Romney's people find out about this ad and use it to elect him as President please spring Dr. Kevorkian from prison and have him shoot me! Thanks, Grasshoppah!


Pumpstra Damus said...

Paul Lynde was a drunk?? What a crock! Next thing you'll tell us, Charles Nelson Reilley is a faygelah!

Nate said...

Hey... lets not pick on Mr. Nelson Reilly.... By the way, I was always confused about this in my youth since he used to appear on "Tattletales" paired up with Julie Harris. What did I know? I was a naive youngster.

I know this woman whose last name is Nelson.. and I used to call her Nelson Reilly. One day a friend of mine needed to call her but couldnt find her no so she called 411 and asked for the phone number for ______ Nelson Reilly! She really thought that was her last name.

And in conclusion, I also had a heterosexual college professor who bore an uncanny resemblance to CNR. My old pal Chris Maget can verify that fact!