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What I Watched Last Night

As any happily married couple or unhappily divorced single will tell you - if we actually bothered to listen anyone's advice - the most fulfilling relationships are those where two people enjoy doing things together. Men, if you're looking for a way to get your woman to watch Man TV with you, you may find this interesting, if not useful. Women, if you're looking for a way to get your man to cut down on at least a half-hour of ESPN once a week, you may find this interesting, too.

Or maybe not. As Confucius might say, "Advice: Wise men don't need it and fools don't heed it." Although I forgot who said it, that's all I've got to say about that.

I'm not much on televised sports. So why in the world did I end up spending three hours of my Wednesday night at Coach's Corner Tavern and Grill - indisputably the best drinking/sports-watching establishment along the Kennedy Avenue alcohol corridor in Hammond, Indiana's Hessville neighborhood - to come up with material for this column instead of staying home and being bored shitless with rancid programs like Life and Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares?

Sometimes you just end up sitting there for three hours because owners Miso and Diana Lazovich make sure they know every customer's name and treat the agreeable ones like close, lifelong friends. Up until 12 or so years ago, Miso's parents ran the highly-popular Golden Shell Restaurant in Chicago's East Side neighborhood, so Miso knows that treating your agreeable customers like lifelong friends is just what you do if you want guys who don't care about sports to keep coming to your sports bar even though there are plenty enough places in the same neighborhood to buy a stiff mixed drink for under $3. (For everyone who thinks Chicagoland extends no further south than Hyde Park, Hessville is truly one of the few places where getting pie-eyed - or poured into a stupor if you're a well-liked regular - on less than $40 in an evening ($60 if you're on a date) doesn't rank as one of life's bigger accomplishments.)

Or sometimes you just end up sitting at places like Coach's for three hours because of kick-ass bartenders like Nina, who on any given night does the work of three bartenders and two barbacks when the joint's full, and still manages to serve up frozen Doreen's pizzas without burning the goddamn things even once. That's service you rarely see in a very busy neighborhood joint, my friends.

But I digress.

Last night, ESPN was airing Prime Time College Football. The University of Pittsburgh was playing Navy. To a guy like me (who actually got heavily involved in Monday night's highly thrilling Dallas Cowboys-Buffalo Bills matchup), only ESPN's coverage of Prime Time College Tiddlywinks would be a bigger snoozefest. As soon as I quit noticing the overly-twitchy guy sitting next to me who looked like legendary country singer Johnny Paycheck on chemotherapy swatting at invisible flies, I noticed that Pittsburgh's head coach happens to be former Bears coach Dave Wannstedt.

Honestly, I thought he was still coaching the Miami Dolphins, but still. While I won't get into the question of whether going from coaching two NFL teams to coaching a college team qualifies as a demotion or an incredibly juicy career move because you're able to maintain your sanity and be ignored by Jay Mariotti while still raking in more money than God, I'll just say that Pitt looked awfully strong (especially given that its defense appeared to outweigh Navy's offense by a good 50 pounds a head), and Dave looked considerably more animated last night than ex-Bears/current Buffalo Bills head coach Dick Jauron did Monday night. Dave seemed to be comfortably within his element; Dick spent his entire Monday Night Football camera time still looking like the bottom guy on the wooden totem pole even when his team was rocking the entire MNF-watching world during 60 minutes of regulation play.

Beyond the 38-38 score with 3:57 left in the final quarter, I have no idea how the game ended because Miso turned the channel to Spike TV's Manswers on two of the bar's half-dozen or so sets. The sound was off on all of them, so Manswers seemed even more incredibly disturbing than it probably was. Within each segment, Manswers answers - through a mixture of medicine, science, research, and stupidity - questions that have daunted all men, be they sober, drunk, or Cliff Clavin since the time of Plato and Socrates.

Questions like:

* Which animal is most like having sex with a woman?

* Once you've been shot, how can you take a bullet out yourself?

* How do you get a happy ending at high-class massage parlors?

* How can you get drunk faster?

* They've dropped the bomb. What's the secret to keeping your ass alive?

* How do you take a punch to the head to reduce the risk of brain damage?

* And my total favorite: Hooker or cop?

Oh yeah, I almost forgot: There's plenty of skin being shown by women voted most likely to show up on a beer company poster tacked up in a tavern bathroom.

Additionally, the sound-dead TVs prevented me from hearing the show's voiceover host, who would sound incredibly like John Bunnell of World's Wildest Police Videos if Bunnell ever decided to win the Guinness Book of World Records' title for Longest Sustained Human Diet of Cocaine and Red Bull.

That aside, if there's any program out there right now that truly qualifies as educational TV for adults, this would be it. Basically, it goes places that not even Don Herbert's Mr. Wizard and Bill Nye the Science Guy would ever think of going even if Herbert was alive and Nye could get another equally-popular TV gig.

Last night's episode of Manswers dealt with the question, "Can taking a dump kill a guy?" This accounted for some painfully long footage of a Donal Logue lookalike in a bathroom stall looking like he was either passing a telephone pole or on the menu as after-dinner dessert for every inmate in federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison. Like I said, the sound was off on all the Coach's Corner TVs, so just seeing the show seemed even more incredibly disturbing than it actually was.

Manswers is an incredibly odd yet oddly incredible one-third science, one-third medicine, and one-third Mythbusters if the Mythbusters guys were drunk. Which is pretty much what guys my age thought PBS could have become during the late 1960s or very early 1970s had it not been so damn busy wasting all its time giving us Sesame Street, Zoom and The Electric Company.


Want more? Of course you do. Delight in the What I Watched Last Night collection.


Posted on October 11, 2007

MUSIC - They Flirted With Disaster.
TV - A Quincy Top 10.
POLITICS - The Traitor Who Is A Great Patriot.
SPORTS - Gambling At The Grate.

BOOKS - Scientists Gone Rogue.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - A People's History Of Uptown.

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