Thursday, August 18, 2011

So Long, Sailor (Cigar Smoke 8-18-11)

Well, I don’t have an exciting sea tale for you, mainly because I never actually got out to sea. I thought I was going out to sea. I even bought a Greek fisherman’s hat. And since I had the hat, I decided to buy a boat so I would have somewhere to wear it. However, all I did was go out to harbor. I was trying to go out to sea, dammit, but I backed my boat into another boat in the harbor and that’s as far as I got. Let’s just say it was not a Kon-Tiki kind of story.

I did have pretty high hopes at first. I had just bought a little hovel up in Brookings Harbor in Oregon. And I’d look out over my hovel deck and see all these boats and I asked a friend of mine if he thought I would make a good boat owner.

He said, “No.” I asked him if he could expand on that a little. He said, “Sure. Hell no.” So I said, “So you’re saying that you don’t think I would make a good boat owner. Is that what I am hearing you say?” (I learned that in a communication workshop.)

He then gave me a non-workshop finger gesture he had learned in the Navy, and said, “Laris, you are 70 frigging years old and you are as agile as a statue with arthritis. And your head contains the same material that the rest of the statue is made of.”

So I took that as an endorsement of my seagoing skills and bought a boat that was built in 1976. It was named the Bicentennial Baby and it cost me $2,800. And then it cost me $500 to actually have the motor run. And then because I am a what, I am a mature adult who wears Rockport shoes, I bought a backup outboard motor for $1,000 to ensure my safe return from the devil ocean if my main motor conked out. And then it cost me maybe $400 to buy sea crap for it like life vests and emergency flares. And it cost me $375 to license it. And it cost me $150 to license the trailer its little bicentennial butt sat on. And then it cost me $50 a month to store it. And it cost me $200 to insure it. And it cost me … it’s hard to keep typing while I’m crying.

And then I went for a test run with my so-called friend, and we got in the boat and unhooked the lines from the dock and the motor actually started and we drifted back a few yards, and then my SCF (so-called friend) said, “Hit it!” And I pulled the throttle back with all my 70-year-old might. And the motor roared to life. And we backed straight into another boat. And it made this really loud banging sound. But I was still able to hear my SCF say, “You push the throttle forward, Statue Head!”

Anyway, those 34 feet of harbor travel were as far as I got out to sea. (Thor Heyerdahl, eat your heart out.) So I decided to put the piece of crap, I mean, the boat, back into storage for a whole year. And then just last month, I made the decision to bring the boat back to LA and only use it on lakes, where I thought I would probably get three or four trips out of it before I keeled over. (Sailor talk.)

So I put new rims on the trailer and knocked most of the rust off the fenders, and Marge and Archie the Dog and I took off. The first day went great. We covered about 430 miles, and made it to Elk Grove, near Stockton, where we stayed at a Holiday Inn and ate pizza and life was good.

And then we got up and life was not quite as good. During the night some low-life scum pig had slashed open the boat cover and stolen everything in the boat that was worth anything. I was really glad I had bought the high-end boat crap to make the thief happy.

Then we got on the road, and we drove about an hour or so on Highway 5, and then this guy pulls up along side of us and honks like crazy and points to the boat and trailer. We look back and the right rear tire seemed to be engulfed in flames and smoke. Maybe lava was coming out. I stop, take a look, and I amazingly discovered the tire was actually still good but the trailer infrastructure was falling apart. Pieces were actually missing.

The boat was just barely hanging on. It was incredible that it didn’t fall off when we were going 55 in traffic. (I guess God’s a Greek fisherman.) We had just passed the metropolis of Westley, so we lucked out, and were only about three miles from Patterson. We decided to just limp along the freeway in the slow lane with our hazard lights on and Marge whimpering. Archie didn’t seem to give a shit.

I’ll cut to the chase. We drove straight to an RV camp where I asked the owners if we could store the boat and trailer. They said, “No.” So I said, “Well then, would you like to have a free boat?” They said, “A free boat?” I said, “Yes, a free boat. On one condition. You have to take the trailer, too.”

I drive a hard bargain. But cannot drive a car, a boat, or a car hauling a trailer.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Good Boy, Jim (Cigar Smoke 7-21-11)

I was sitting at the dog park the other day, just watching my dog, Archie, sniff a few butts, most of them dog butts, and it came to me in a Fido flash. Nobody ever names their dog Jim!

At first, it kind of pissed me off, but then again, most things kind of piss me off. So I thought about it for a few seconds and tried to mellow out. And I had to admit that nobody names their dogs Joseph or Marge or Vic or Davy, either. And although Johnny Cash sang about “A Boy Named Sue,” he never named his dog Sue. I couldn’t keep feeling persecuted and not liked and generally dismissed by uncaring, insensitive dog owners. I was almost mature enough to accept it.

And yet, I still fantasized. God, wouldn’t it be cool if there was, say, a big shaggy sucker drooling dog drool and someone was calling it in a masterly voice — “Here, Jim. Come here, Jim. Thatta boy, Jim.” Kind of brings a tear to my human eye. “Sit, Jim. Stay, Jim. Roll over, Jim. That’s a good boy, Jim.” Man, I haven’t heard those words since my first marriage.

Hey, this whole naming-your-dog thing is pretty interesting. I live in fear that some guy will ask me what my dog’s name is, and the guy will be 6-4 and weigh 270 pounds and have a tattoo of a bunny with a knife sticking out of it and I will say, “Uh, my dog’s name is Archie.”

And he will grab me by my chest hair and throw me up against a chain link fence and say, “Archie? That’s my name, too, asshole.” And I will say, “How did you know my name was Asshole?”

By the way, do you know why we named our Airedale Archie? (By the way, do you care?) Well, Airedales have a long horse head kind of head, and at first we thought of calling him Black Beauty, but he wasn’t black, and he wasn’t a horse, and that name had already been taken. And Trigger didn’t quite work, either.

Anyway, we struggled with picking a name for almost a week. And Archie was getting a bit ticked off. He had this sic ‘em look that said, “I’m not coming or sitting or staying if you just call me with that weak-ass ‘Here, boy’ shit?” And he had a point.

We had named our first Airedale, Hadley, after the English crime writer Hadley Chase. So, for a few minutes, we actually thought of calling Archie Chase. It was kind of different. Had the Chasey-kind of dog-fetchy reference and all, but ultimately we decided it was too cute and sweet and sappy, so we didn’t, and that decision may have saved a diabetic’s life.

So, after going through literally hundreds of dog names and after hearing one of our friends say in a loving way, “It’s just a dog, dammit! It’s not your frigging kid, you morons!” for some reason, we thought of the Archie comic books. And then Marge yelled out, “I have it! How about Veronica?” She was pretty disheartened when I told her Archie was a male.

And this is where that horse head thing comes into play. I suggested that because our yet unnamed dog had a long head, it kind of reminded me of Archie’s pal, Jughead. Marge said, “I just can’t name my dog Jughead. Somehow he would just know.” And I said, “Oh, I know he’s really smart. He only licks dead animals and dog feces. We wouldn’t want to offend his sensitivities.”

But that was not the final determining factor in our dog-naming pursuit. Yes, we had Jughead and a horse head and the Archie comics’ thing. But then we noticed his mangy, hairless head. We had gotten him as a rescue dog from the pound, and yes, he was bald.

So I said to Marge, “Why don’t we name him ArchiBALD? He has a what? He has a bald spot? And we can call him Archie for short.” Marge said, “How about Baldy or Spot?” I said, “Unless you want to experience male pattern spousal abuse, it’s Archie.”
And the rest is caninacle history. Archie it was. And Archie it is. “No, Archie! Get down, Archie! Bad dog, Archie!”

And it turned out kind of funny. Just after we finally named him Archie, I got a call from an old buddy I went to college with, RinTinTin Schwartz. (Yes, we called him Rinty in the dorm.) Anyway, he had married this little lassie from Scotland, and they were also trying to name their dog.

So I asked RinTinTin and his lassie, what they finally ending up calling their dog, and they said, “Schwartzie.”
“Here, Schwartzie. Roll over, Schwartzie.” I like it.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Naked Shower Panic (Cigar Smoke 6-16-11)

The other day, my son, Mike, said something very nice to me. He said, “Dad, I really love coming to your house.”

I puffed up and got my big, goofy parent grin on and said, “Wow. That makes me feel good. Is it because you think I am a wonderful father and maybe even your role model in life and I am very similar to Gandhi?” He said, “No. That’s not quite it.”

So I said, “Is it because your mother follows Anthony Weiner on Twitter and I don't want to see, um, a member of Congress?" He said, "No, that's not quite it."

“Is it because you can use my washing machine for free and sometimes make me put your washed clothes in the dryer while you’re watching TV?” “No. That’s not quite it.”

“Is it because we go out to dinner every time you come over and you can sponge off me to get meals that you don’t get toys with?” “No. That’s not quite it.”

“Well, what the quite is it?”

And he said, “I love to smell your shampoo.”

I am serious. That is exactly what he said. And you know I would not lie to you. (Unless I had a good reason to.) He said, “Yeah, you always have such cool shampoos. Like the Strawberry Essence of Waterfalls or Ocean Breezes of Lilac in a Thunderstorm.” And he’s right. I do have wonderful-smelling shampoos. A lot better than Gandhi’s, I know that.

So, why am I telling you this? Because while I was in my shower smelling my shampoo the other day, I had a semi-near-almost-kind-of-tragic-death experience.

Yes, I had just finished washing my elderly, yet still incredibly manly body and I put a big gob of Tropical Coconut with a Hint of Mango Guava shampoo on my wet hair. And as I put on the shampoo, I breathed in that wonderful aroma of Hawaiian lushness and I knew exactly what Mike was talking about. God, that shampoo smelled good. (And I think it was probably the reason why Don Ho got laid so often.)

But then, after I finished rinsing off my hair, I tried to slide the shower door and it wouldn’t open. It was stuck. Would not budge. I tried the other side of the door. It was stuck, too. So there I was, stuck in the shower. And even though my hair smelled terrific, I felt a twinge of concern.

I pushed the damn door. And I pulled it. And I talked to it. And I cussed it out. And then I started yelling to Marge, “Marge! Marge! Help me. Your naked, hairy husband is trapped in the shower. Help!” But, after a few yells, I realized that Marge is getting a little hard of hearing and she would not be able to hear me. My concern was now a little closer to panic.

After about 10 minutes of pushing, pulling and shaking the door, I thought about just breaking the damn thing down. And that would have worked. Even I am stronger than a shower door. But I hesitated to take such a destructive path, mainly because we had just put in a brand new shower door. A relatively expensive shower door. A new shower door that did not work as well as the old, piece-of-crap shower door we replaced. God, how I wished I still had the old shower door, the ugly old shower door with stains and cracked, cheap, painted plastic and the one that smelled like caked-on dried shower filth had collected for at least 15 years. Oh, how I missed that smell.

At that point, I was pretty much in a state of panic. Nude panic. Naked jaybird panic. And I was mad because there wasn’t a phone in the shower, like they have in good hotels. And I was going to sue these damn homeowners until I remembered that the damn homeowners were me and Marge. And that pissed me off even more because I couldn’t figure out if I was going to be the plaintiff or the defendant.

Finally, I sort of gave up and sat down on the scummy, wet, cold tile floor and thought to myself, “Is this how I am going to buy it? Is this how this lankly, semi-old cowpoke is going to ride off into the sunset?” I could see the news report: “Altadena Resident Dies in Freak Shower Trapping.” Paramedics were astonished to find that even though the body hadn’t been discovered for four weeks, the deceased’s hair smelled really good. Kind of like a Mai Tai Hurricane of Dolphin Splendor.

But alas, I did not buy the wet, scummy farm of bathroom stuck shower door deadly death. No, I survived. After a full half-hour (Is that logically possible or legal?), yes, after a full half-hour of panic and crying and screaming and thinking I was a goner, I figured out how to get out. Yup, I figured it out, and I did it, and I got out.

How did I do it? I would tell you, but I kind of hope this happens to all of you, and I don’t want to spoil your fun. And, of course, I like to fantasize about other naked bodies trapped in showers.

Hey, from now on, be safe. Bring your cell phone in with you when you shower. If you get stuck, give me a call. I’ll bring the shampoo.

Jim Laris is a former publisher and owner of the Pasadena Weekly. Contact him at

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I'm Even More Pathetic Than You Are (Cigar Smoke 5-19-11)

I know many of you see me as a pathetic excuse for a columnist, and as a pathetic excuse for a human being, and incredibly, as a pathetic excuse for a lanky person. And yes, many years ago, an artist did ask me to pose for a painting he was going to call “Pathetic Guy.” And I asked him if I had to be nude, and he said, “You’re pathetic.”

I don’t have time to go into all the reasons why I possibly may be pathetic. Let me just give you the most recent one. I have become a Costco addict. No, no, there’s nothing wrong with Costco. They’re a great store. Great prices. Efficient. All that. And I don’t feel as if I am an addict because I go there a lot.

I am getting ahead of myself a little here. Before I reveal the true depths of my patheticism, I do have to admit that I love shopping at Costco. The last time I was there, I bought a year’s supply of soap. Yup, I got a giant package of 36 bars of Irish Spring. I calculated that I should be relatively clean through August 2014. (And that’s taking into consideration that I will use some of the bars as stocking stuffers.)

And while I was there, of course, I just had to get the 48-unit box of Five-Hour Energy Bottles. I figure I can now drive nonstop across the country four times without ever having to stop at a motel. I’m just going to slug that stuff down and floor it, baby. My eyelids may never close again. I’m getting bug-eyed hyper just thinking about all that Five-Hour fuel pumping through me. I want to take an exam or something. I want to watch a Three Stooges movie marathon. I want to sell my bed. That Berry flavor rocks.

Another time I was there I got an industrial-size package of tubes of toothpaste that had flaws in the tubes. Now every time I brush my teeth, I squeeze the tube and the toothpaste oozes out of one of the sides of the tube, and usually it gets all over my fingers, but that is the price I have to pay for being such a savvy shopper and all-around wonderful person.

No, I am not to the pathetic part yet. A few months ago I was in Costco and I needed two AAA batteries. So they were just happening to have this sale on this special shipment of batteries that they just got in, so yes, I bought $114 worth of batteries. Hey, I couldn’t pass that up. And yes, I did need a truss and a handcart to get the batteries up to the counter. And yes, I now annoy strangers by walking up to them and asking them if they need a battery for their flashlight. Many of them don’t even have flashlights.

I’m retired. I have the time.

As you can see, the above examples have all been positive examples of shopping at Costco. But, because I am what? And because I compare this quality to what unit of time? Because I am as honest as the day is long, I have to tell you about a couple of failed Costco adventures.

First, I do not have the courage to buy something from their meat and fish counter. I was having a barbeque last summer and I walked up to the butcher guy and he suggested a reinforced rack of ribs that looked about the size of a Mini Cooper. I told him I was only having four people over. He said, “Hey, that’s only 14 ribs each.”

And once I just glanced over at the fish section, and I saw these huge crab claws, and I know they were still alive. They were moving and they had broken through the cellophane wrapper, and they were crawling down over the crushed ice. And they were laughing. I still have nightmares.

OK, the pathetic part. I’ll say it fast. I now go to Costco when I don’t know what I am going to buy! I do not need anything. I’m pretty well stocked up on Costco crap. I have unopened packages of stuff I bought last year. But I’m sitting there at the end of the couch, and I say to myself, “Hey Jerk Lips, wanna go buy a large quantity of something? Wanna go get something that we don’t even know what it is yet?” And damned if Jerk Lips doesn’t say, “Sure. Can’t dance.”

So, Jerk Lips and I went the other day to see if we could find something we didn’t need or didn’t even know existed. And hang on to your shorts, Aunt Martha, we found it!

It just called out to us. From the liquor department. Lips and I were just ambling around and there it was. A five-foot tall bottle of Jose Cuervo in the shape of Pancho Villa with a big-ass sombrero on. It was just so cool I could hardly stand it. Five feet of booze. With a hat on.

And only $149!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Going Green, Baby!

Well, my editor, Kevin the Tormentor, suggested that I might consider writing a column on seniors and environmentalism to go with the special issue you are now reading. I suggested that maybe he could get another writer, someone older, who actually cared about the environment. He suggested that if I wanted my check, I would reconsider. His exact words were, “Do it, dickhead.”

So dickhead just turned 70 the other day. I was actually really happy to have reached 70. It would have been a real pisser to check out at 69. Now, when I buy it, people can say, “He had a full life.” When you pop off at only 69, all the talk is about how you died too young. And then people feel guilty about eating the free food at the services. Now they can ask for seconds.

To help me celebrate my 70th birthday, we decided to have a semi-birthday bash over in Vegas. There were five of us. Marge and I, Casey and his girlfriend, Jessie, and Mike and his imaginary girlfriend.

We all flew over on Jet Blue for $29 each. Hey, that is literally cheaper than driving. I only mention this to display my keen awareness of the environment. I’m not exactly sure about what we specifically saved the planet from by not driving, but I am damn sure we did good. And, because I live to do good, I was happy. Although, I was not completely happy, because I am still waiting for some sort of thank you note from the planet, the environment, Al Gore, or my editor. Hopefully, on biodegradable paper.

Hey, I’m getting a little ahead of myself. (There’s a flash.) The reason I decided to go to Vegas in the first place was essentially an environmental one. I wanted to be green. Whenever I think of green, I don’t think of trees or grass or beautiful scenes in New Zealand or somewhere. Nope. I think of money. That’s as green as it gets for me. I feel more at one with nature already.

So we get to Lost Wages and we check into a semi-snooty new hotel, the Aria. Hey, it was my 70th birthday, dammit! And all you need to know about this hotel is that we could control our room curtains by using the TV remote. Thank God we didn’t have to manually pull back those heavy, complicated curtain rod things. And the Aria had an honor bar, which automatically computed your charges when you took a $7 Snickers bar or a beer and shot that info directly to the front desk via the Internet. How did we get by before?

The first thing we did after checking in was go play some video poker. I wanted to make sure I passed along my interest in being green to the younger generation. My older son, Mike, was sitting next to me, and I had just told him how I had won over $1,100 playing video poker the last time I was in Vegas.

And now, I told him, I was going to do it again. He looked at me like he had looked at me when he was in high school and I told him that sex was no fun and he shouldn’t do it until he was married. Yes, he had a smirk. And then, after a few plays on the machine, I dealt a hand and I had the Ace, Queen, Jack, and 10 of Hearts up there. All I needed was the King of Hearts and I would have a royal flush and I would win the jackpot and permanently remove the smirk from a doubter’s face.

So I told him, “Watch this. I am going to draw the King of Hearts.” Mike was a bit less sure than I was. I hit the draw button, and a card flashed up on the screen. We both held our breath, and damned if the King of Hearts didn’t jump into place. Ace-King-Queen-Jack-Ten of Hearts!

Sheeit! Bells went off. Lights blinked. I had hit the jackpot. Royal Flush city. I won $1,000. One thousand big ones. I had gone green, baby!

And then my younger son, Casey, rushed up and said, “Give me the money, Pops. I can double it at the roulette wheel.” I replied in a fatherly way. “I have gone green. I have not gone stupid.”

And Mike just sat there and finally said, “I will never doubt you again, Dad.” I said, “Really?” He said, “Yes. Really. Except for the sex advice.”

Hey this really did happen. I won pretty big. If I’m lying, I’m dying.

And I would tell you about some of the other fun stuff we did, like when all five of us wore the Elvis shades that Jessie gave us, the shades with the cool black-flared sideburns and went to see the Cirque du Soleil Elvis Show. And everyone chuckled at us in open admiration. And we nodded our heads in unison in open acceptance of our own strikingly clever humor.

Or when we went out to the pool and had Mudslides and after my fifth Mudslide I challenged some guy in a Speedo next to me to a spelling contest on the word CIRQUE and I yelled out to him, “No, it is not SERK, you JIRQUE!”

Yes, I would tell you about these things if I weren’t so humble, and so young for a man of 70 and, of course, so dirty poker rich. I just couldn’t bear to make you green, with envy.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Don't Even Know Where Peruvia Is (Cigar Smoke 3-17-11)

I’m an addict. No, it’s not alcohol. Or tobacco. I don’t snort cocaine. I don’t shoot up heroine. I don’t even know what the hell meth is. I’m into something much, much worse. Groupons.

If I were at a meeting, I would have to step up and say, “Hi, I’m Jim. I’m a Groupon addict. Please, I wish all of you wouldn’t give me the finger at once.”

First of all, maybe some of you don’t even know what Groupons are. No, it’s not some kind of new group sex thing. (I could never find more than one person at a time that could even tolerate me.) No, Groupons are simply coupons you get online. That’s it. They send you emails every day, which offer you 50 percent discounts on most everything. I guess they feature restaurants. I know that’s what I feature.

It all started a couple of years ago. I received this innocent little email offering me a $50 coupon to eat at a BBQ rib joint and it would only cast me $25. And I said, maybe there is a god. I bought the coupon, I mean the Groupon, and off I went into a spiral of uncontrollable gluttony and complete abdication of what remaining sense I had. I was hooked.

I went down to The Smokin’ Joint on 3rd Street in L.A. and I plopped down my Groupon and said to the guy, “Here’s my Groupon that I bought for $25 and I would now like my $50 worth of BBQ shit.” I really thought I had been had, and that the guy was going to throw me out of the place or something. I thought it had to be too good to be true. But alas, it was not.

He limped over to my table with this enormous stack of BBQ’d animals on a plate and I kept waiting for some kind of catch. I was more paranoid than a chicken at a KFC, but I just ate my food, and I waddled out of the restaurant. And, like I said, I was hooked.

So, they kept sending me these emails and I kept buying them. At first, I only bought the ones in the San Gabriel Valley. I figured, being a member of MENSA, that I would probably be more likely to go to restaurants close by. But after a while, I wanted to use the Groupons as a way of forcing me out of my regular, boring routine into some new, boring routine. I wanted to seek out a new comfort zone that might possibly be even more comfortable than my current comfort zone.

Therefore, I started to buy Groupons for Vietnamese places in Claremont, and for Moroccan restaurants in Glendora, and for Greek Tavernas in La Verne. I even got one for some Ethiopian little hole-in-the-wall somewhere near Duarte, but I haven’t gone yet, because I know I’m going to feel guilty about eating what little food the Ethiopians have left after their famines. Nobody ever said life would be easy for a Groupon addict.

And just the other day, I sprang one of these little Groupon suckers on Marge. We were doing a crossword puzzle and she actually knew that one of the answers was LOOFAH. And this was just after she had told me that she had never heard of Duke Snider. (You’re right. I don’t know why I am still married to her.)

Anyway, I said, “My little Loofah Love Toy, how would you like to go to a nice Peruvian restaurant tonight for dinner?” And she batted her eyelids and said, “Where the hell is Peruvia?” I told her it was very close to Loofah.

Well, as you might have guessed, my little Love Toy was not speaking to me there for a while. So to win her back, I told her that because her happiness is what I lived for and because my only goal in an otherwise wasted life was to please her, I wondered if she would like to go have some gourmet French food. She hesitated for a second, and I pounced. I whipped out a Groupon from my hefty, alphabetized stack of Groupons and threw it down on the table like the Queen of Spades in Hearts. “Duke Snider is going to take his Loofah Love Toy to the CafĂ© Massilia in Monrovia,” I announced with an appropriate romantic flourish.

She said, “I thought you didn’t like French food.” I said, “I don’t. I hate it. But you’re not going with me. You’re going with Duke. I hope you have a nice dinner.”

Hey, I didn’t know a small woman such as Marge could throw such a large object at an even larger husband and throw it accurately and with such force and I was just wondering if maybe the Groupon people were going to offer a nice discount on Huntington Hospital Emergency Room services.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Super Prediction (Cigar Smoke 2-17-11)

I am sitting here, right now, on the end of my couch writing this column on my iPad. (I’ll give you a few minutes to self-medicate.) Usually I write it on my Mac desktop computer in Word. This is the very first time I’ve used the iPad. So now you will be able to say to yourselves, you know, when this sucker writes on his iPad using the Pages app, it’s very similar to the drivel we have to read when he uses a real computer.

I love Super Bowl Sunday, or, as I call it, the only Sunday of the year when you can eat really, really bad food — food even worse than deep-fried Twinkies smothered in chili — without your wife assuming the moral high ground. And if she even thinks about taking that high ground, I gently remind her about the record number of spousal abuse cases that are reported on this particular Sunday. They don’t call me Mr. Subtle for nothing.

By the way, I used to predict the actual score of the game in past columns. I would disclose that I was writing the column before the game was played, so everyone could be assured of my integrity. But, alas, after predicting the exact score of the game for three years in a row, my more alert readers, and even readers such as you, became suspicious.

I tried to defend myself by saying that, although I had submitted the column before the date of the game, I did happen to catch the error in my predictions after the game was actually played, and then I had emailed the corrected scores to my editor before the column went to press, because I did not want to jeopardize his job or submit anything that was not up to my journalistic standards. I am nothing if not a what? No, not a liar, dammit! A journalist.

I was brought before the FCC — the Fairness in Column-writing Commission. And I knew I wouldn’t get a fair hearing because they had ruled against me in another case where I had an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction and had accidentally exposed my man-breasts while writing a column in my living room and, according to them, I had irreparably harmed the psyche of my under-aged Airedale by making him witness “a wanton act of downright disgusting dog cruelty.” And not only did they rescind my column-writing license and fine me more money than I make writing the column, they were also going to refer my case to the SPCA — the Society for the Prevention of Columns written by A-holes.

Sorry to interrupt myself, and yourself, with such painful memories. Getting back to sitting on the couch watching the game. First of all, I like to use Super Bowl Sunday as a convenient way to check up on how my New Year’s resolutions are coming along. It’s been over a month since I made the resolutions, so it’s a fair test.

I resolved to not be so offensive. I resolved to be kinder to my commie socialist green politically correct flag-burning wimpy misguided peacenik salad-eating family and friends. I resolved to be less arrogant when I won all of my arguments. I resolved to write sentences that were not over 300 words. I resolved to eat more and exercise less. Hey, one out of five ain’t that bad.

And then after I get through analyzing all my resolutions, I trash the 51 weeks of accumulated magazines on the coffee table and I start putting out the Super Bowl spread. I put out the cold cuts and the special olive bread. I put out five kinds of pizza. (My favorite is the cheese and lard.) I arrange the beer mugs. I put out the chips and dip and practice saying guacamole in that guttural throat sound with just a tilde of Spanish el flaro that I have perfected over the last half-century of Super Bowl games. And, finally, I put out the bowls of corn nuts and M&Ms that I have become justifiably famous for. Both my friends and the reception people at the Huntington Hospital Emergency Room always ask me about them.

And then Marge usually comes into the room and says, “What time are your friends coming over?” And that’s the time every year I have to admit that I don’t have any friends coming over, and that I have put out this incredible Super Bowl spread for just my imaginary friends. And then Marge asks me with her questioning eyes, “why”? And I answer with my non-questioning mouth, “Because they eat less than real friends.”

Hey, before I get back to watching the commercials, I would like to predict that the score of this year’s Super Bowl game will be Green Bay 31, Pittsburgh 25.

How’d I do?
Jim Laris is a former publisher and owner of The Weekly. Contact him at