"...it's like Will Rogers, Jean Shepherd and some grumpy Jewish man all rolled into one."

Friday, January 31, 2014

Six Degrees of John Byner

We're just back from a short trip to Florida to soak up some sun and visit with our friends Bill and Trish from the lake. While down there, I came "thisclose" to meeting a show-business legend. We'll get back to that part of our story in a few moments...

I don't understand the allure of Florida. It's far away from all the places from which everyone comes to visit, tucked way down in the most-southeasterly corner of the country. And if you think it's a shlep for Americans to travel to -- what about all the Canadians who flock down there? JEE-sus Chr-IST! The state is lousy with Canadians. Or, perhaps, there aren’t that many there but the ones who are are lousy. I have nothing against Canadians; some of my best friends are Canadian. Canada gave us Molson's. I went to college in Canada and was always amused that Canadians wanted to drink Budweiser whenever it was available at a bar (or, as they are often referred to up there -- a "hotel"). I'll drink anything that's offered to me, but if I had a choice? And was paying for it? I'd go for anything BUT a Bud every time, and gladly quaff an Export with great satisfaction.

While we're on the subject of beer... I work with a number of people who can only be described as "beer snobs". They are up on the latest, limited-edition microbrews (and I date myself with that term -- I believe "craft brew" is the preferred terminology now) and look down their stanges at anything not cask-conditioned or anyone who can't recite the IBUs of what they're sipping. Back when I started drinking beer (in the third grade), Coors was considered an "import", and Olympia was a “microbrew” -- available only in the Pacific Northwest and the stuff of legend.

I recall being in a Canadian “hotel” with 3 of my college buddies for 25¢ Draft Night. We ordered forty drafts. The waitress thought we were joking and said she could only fit thirty on a tray. We told her to bring us those thirty and then bring us ten more. While there was a brief period of mirth during our lengthy consumption, the evening quickly turned sour and I really don’t care to discuss it any further.

Now, then – where were we? (The same question I and my college buddies asked ourselves that next hazy morning.) Oh, yes – Florida. While randomly gallivanting with our friends, we were approached by an elderly gentleman who inquired whether we were looking to buy some property. This will perhaps make more sense when I tell you we were standing in front of a real estate office at the time, looking at pictures of properties for sale. This fellow, whose name apparently was not “William” or “Willy” but “Willa”, had just listed his waterfront condo with the realtor and instead of letting her earn her commission was in full-on sales mode himself. Willa said he was 90 years old and introduced us to his fiancĂ© of two years, who was a mere 80 (she later confided to us she was really 82, and asked that we not share that information with her boy toy). He said his condo was very close by and we were welcome to stop over to take a look. We decided what the hell since our friends are actually looking for a place, and made the short drive to Willa’s domicile.

The condo was nothing special – a stucco finish in flamingo pink, a clay-tiled roof, roomy inside but nothing striking. It was certainly facing the water; however, the water was the equivalent of a back-alley off of the Intracoastal Waterway. The view was of a dock across the gulley with a boat ramp and several diesel pumps. Willa made a point to tell us that he could get somewhere between 14 and 20 over-the-air TV stations without the need for cable or a dish antenna. While it might have been more enticing to hear him extol the virtues of a recessed Jacuzzi, we all know cable doesn’t come cheap.

We made some pleasant small talk with Willa and his lady friend (who, I must say, was the foxiest 80-to-82-year-old I’ve ever seen) and gradually worked our way toward the exit. On the way out, Bill asked Willa to repeat the name of the “entertainer” who lived next door (I had missed that part of the conversation). Willa said his name was “John Bynum”.

I’m certain none of you are familiar with John Bynum. That is largely because what Willa meant to say was “John Byner”.

I’m certain few of you are familiar with John Byner – unless your TV watching days include the panoply of variety and daytime talk shows popular in the late 60s/early 70s. John Byner was an impressionist, a very good one, who was often seen on Ed Sullivan, Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas, shows of that ilk. He was never as well known as Rich Little (“Who??”), perhaps the best-known of impressionists back when that kind of entertainment was popular. But for my money he was certainly one of the best, and due to his near-ubiquitous presence on the aforementioned shows, plus numerous guest-starring roles on a variety of TV programs (most notably Soap for those of you who remember it), I instantly recalled who he was.

I would love for the next part of this story to be about how I went next door and rang the buzzer, and John answered and invited us in and we had a fascinating chat about his days in show biz while he showed us pictures of the times he hung out with Sinatra and the rest of the Rat Pack, Carol Burnett, the Captain and Tennille, Elton John, Charo, Englebert Humperdinck (I should have stopped after Carol Burnett, yes?). However, that’s not what happened… we got back in the car and I pulled up “John Bynum’s” picture on my phone to show everyone and jog their memories. Unsuccessfully.

Bill and Trish aren’t planning to buy the condo, but at least I now know where John Byner lives. That kind of information + a quarter used to buy you a beer… 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Don't Ass, Don't Yell

Certainly you remember the now-abandoned "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in our military, which was essentially a way for our government to stick its fingers in its ears and go "LA-LA-LA-LA-LA!" whenever the subject of a soldier's sexual orientation came up.

Would that I'd be so diffident when it comes to the subject of my recent colonoscopy -- so get those fingers in place now.

I'm sure you're familiar with the concept of a colonoscopy, but have you actually had one? The CDC (part of the same government that came up with "LA-LA-LA-LA-LA!") recommends regular screenings for men and women, regardless of sexual orientation, starting at age 50. Why age 50? It's an implied half-way point of life, so does this mean the government thinks I'm going to live to be 100? That comes as a surprise to me. A recent article says half of all babies born today will live to be 100. The other half will live to have regular colonoscopies performed on them.

Everyone who's had a colonoscopy, or is familiar with the procedure, knows that "the prep" is the worst part of the process. You can't eat any solid foods the day before; clear liquids and Jell-O only. Then, that evening, you drink 4 liters of a "bowel cleansing" solution and after awhile you run repeatedly to the bathroom to, as your mother used to say, "make". (The solution comes in two flavors: pineapple and "regular". My pharmacy provided me with the "regular" -- once reconstituted I recognized the taste as Pine-Sol.) Over the course of several hours you'll make at least a dozen trips to the bathroom. The solution turns your gastrointestinal tract into a garden hose, with the spigot all the way open. I've already provided too much detail here and so will leave this section of our narrative with the words I shared with a friend - "I'm glad that shit's over."

The actual procedure is almost anti-climactic, since they give you the good drugs just before starting to poke around in your hoo-hah and actual memories of this hideous violation are almost non-existent. I remember being a little nervous when the anesthesiologist told me he'd be using Propofol, the drug that became infamous due to its association with Michael Jackson's death, but ironically my anxiety was relieved by the administration of that very drug. During a prior colonoscopy I was given Versed which, as a layperson, I thought was pretty freakin' awesome. However, that drug will induce only "conscious sedation" versus the state of "deep sedation" Propofol provides. Conscious sedation is defined as when "the patient responds purposefully to verbal command", and deep sedation is when "the patient cannot be easily aroused, but responds purposefully following repeated or painful stimulation". As it relates to my procedure, under conscious sedation the gastroenterologist says, "John, please move your hips forward. John, can you move your hips forward?" and I dreamily move my hips forward. Under deep sedation, the gastroenterologist goes, "John (pokes with probe), move! (Pokes) Move! (POKES) MOVE, DAMMIT!"

By the way -- it just struck me that the word "enter" is found in the middle of "gastroenterologist". That's kinda funny.

After the procedure ended (!), I was moved to a recovery room that I call the "Man Cave" since the nurse told me it was perfectly acceptable to fart as much as I felt necessary. I did so, and then some. As I awaited discharge (here by which I mean permission to leave the hospital), another patient was moved into the space next to me. I overheard some conversation between a nurse and doctor (HIPAA violation!) that the gentleman had been brought back for a second attempt at the procedure since, during his appointment the day before, he "wasn't clean". As there was also discussion about his need for a Vietnamese interpreter, I presumed they hadn't been referring to his sense of humor. I can only imagine what that experience must be like for the colon team... the patient's been sedated, buttocks aligned just so, the doctor slips the scope in and WHAT THE FU...?!?! Maybe due to the language barrier this guy thought he only needed to gargle with the prep solution.

Anyway, my results were good and I won't have to repeat the process for another five years. I'm referring to the colonoscopy -- I intend to maintain my usual pace of farting. If you haven't already, this is where I'd recommend you stick your fingers in your ears, and maybe you should also step out of the room.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Stinkin' Thinkin'

  • I asked my wife if she'd like to try a new position. She readily agreed, and now no longer endorses a carbon tax as the most economically efficient means to convey crucial price signals that spur emissions-reducing investments.
  • Instead of parallel parking, I tried perpendicular parking. On the plus side, it was much easier to pull into the space. On the negative side, I had a bitch of a time getting my purchases in the trunk without getting ass-swiped by passing traffic.
  • Using a trampoline while cleaning the gutters isn't as much fun as you might imagine.
  • In the face of adversity, I adopted a different approach to my nemesis and tried killing him with kindness. It didn't change the district attorney's sentencing recommendation.
  • I tried putting the cart before the horse. Now I'm out one cart and one horse.
  • Trying to manage my time more effectively, I spent the first half-hour of my day reviewing my schedule. I was then fired for being 30 minutes late for work.
  • A turntable may work in a microwave, but not a VCR.
  • Believing laughter is the best medicine, I stopped taking my Lipitor. Want to see the scar from my bypass?
  • Embracing the belief that honesty is the best policy, the last time my wife asked, "Do these pants make me look fat?" I replied, "They sure do." In all honesty, I wish I hadn't said that.
  • Just because you sign up for direct deposit with your bank doesn't mean they'll let you walk into their vault unimpeded.
  • Have you ever wondered if you could save money by changing the oil in your car yourself? Well, not if you use Wesson.
  • Despite its name, never dance while using a jig saw.
  • You'd think people trying to diet would appreciate having the refrigerator duct-taped closed. You'd think wrong.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Freedom of Depress

Correction: January 11, 2014
  • An earlier version of this article misidentified the capital of the United States. It is Washington, D.C., not Hooterville.
Correction: January 10, 2014
  • An earlier version of this article misidentified my wife. She is Carol, not Kate Upton.
Correction: January 9, 2014
  • An earlier version of this article misidentified the sum of 2 + 2. It is 4, not "about 4".
Correction: January 8, 2014
  • An earlier version of this article misidentified my son. He is Joshua, not "that shit-head".
Correction: January 7, 2014
  • An earlier version of this article mischaracterized watching "Duck Dynasty" as a "complete waste of time". It is more accurately characterized as a "complete fucking waste of time".
Correction: January 6, 2014
  • An earlier version of this article misdirected you to look over there while I removed twenty dollars from your wallet.
Correction: January 5, 2014
  • A photograph accompanying an earlier version of this article misidentified the person pictured as the actor George Clooney. It was in fact my "selfie".
Correction: January 4, 2014
  • An earlier version of this article misidentified you as deceased. More accurately, you are "dead to me now".
Correction: January 3, 2014
  • An earlier version of this article inappropriately rhymed "Piscataway" with "He went over there."
Correction: January 2, 2014
  • An earlier version of this article may have left you with the impression that I know what I'm talking about.
Correction: January 1, 2014
  • An earlier version of this article mischaracterized life as worth living.