Sunday, January 25, 2015

Are You A Right-Brain Or Left-Brain Thinker?

The two sides of the human brain have distinct abilities unique to either the right side or left side.  An individual's strengths and weaknesses are often based on which side of the brain is dominant.  It's always been presented to me as left-brained being the logical, methodical, and pragmatic side and right-brained is the creative side.  There have been books written on this phenomenon.

At least that's the way I've always understood left vs. right brain.

The first thought is that writers must be right-brained since writing is a creative effort.  And many writers are also involved in other creative endeavors such as various forms of art and music.  But it seems to me that's only partly true.

As a writer, I certainly deal with my right brain creative side.  But as a writer, I also need my left brain methodical, logical, pragmatic side as part of my creative effort.  I would consider doing research as being methodical left-brained.  And then there's the switch over from right brain creative to left brain logical when writers go into edit mode.  And that edit mode is necessary in order to take a creative effort and hone it into a marketable effort.  And the many facets of self-promotion for our books is certainly methodical and logical.

I recently came across a ten question quiz to test whether someone is a right brain thinker or a left brain thinker.  Not sure I agree with all the conclusions, but I found it interesting.

Are you ready?

1)  Are you better at math and science than art and literature?

If your answer is YES:  People who are left-brained thinkers (logic) are often better at math and science over art and literature.

If your answer is NO:  People who are right-brained thinkers (creative) are usually better at art and literature than math and science.

2)  Do you love playing sports outdoors over reading indoors?

If your answer is YES:  Right-brain thinkers (creative) enjoy the great outdoors and athletics.

If your answer is NO:  People who are left-brained (logic) usually prefer staying indoors and reading.

3)  Do you prefer verbal communication over physical communication?

If your answer is YES:  Left-brain thinkers (logic) love to work things out by talking.

If your answer is NO:  Right-brain thinkers (creative) believe actions speak louder than words.

4)  Would you rather draw pictures freehand instead of putting together a model airplane?

If your answer is YES:  Those who are right-brained (creative) are not fans of tremendous structure and prefer having some creativity at work.

If your answer is NO:  Those who are left-brained (logic) are in need of structure and prefer having specific guidelines at work.

5)  Do you like being in groups more than being alone? (this goes along with question #2)

If your answer is YES:  Group oriented people are usually right-brained (creative).

If your answer is NO:  Loners are usually left-brained (logic).

6)  When given instructions, are lots of pictures easier to understand than text?

If your answer is YES:  Right-brained (creative) people love picture explanations.

If your answer is NO:  Left-brained (logic) people much prefer text explanations.

7)  Have you noticed that you're better at providing the details and necessary information for a project than coming up with the initial idea?

If your answer is YES:  Left-brained (logic) are more into processing information and details than being involved in the creative process.

If your answer is NO:  Right-brained (creative) are more interested in the initial creative process rather than the information gathering.

8)  Do you need a quiet environment when you are working?

If your answer is YES:  Left-brain (logic) people usually need quiet environments.

If your answer is NO:  Right-brain (creative) people don't mind a bustling background as they work.

9)  Would you enjoy helping someone solve a relationship problem more than a math problem?

If your answer is YES:  Solving relationship problems is a natural for right-brain thinkers (creative).

If your answer is NO:  Solving math and technical problems is right up the alley of the left-brained (logic).

10)  If you were a writer, would you prefer to write non-fiction books instead of fiction?

If your answer is YES:  The left-brained (logic) are obsessed with details and truth.

If your answer is NO:  The right-brained (creative) are more imaginative.

As I said, there are one or two of the conclusions that I disagree with.  How about you?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

16 Funniest Comedy Teams Of All Time

Monty Python
I came across an article a few months ago about the funniest comedy teams of all time and I'd like to share that list with you.

I usually think of a team, as it applies to comic performers, as being 2 people (unlike a sports team).  There are 3 names on this list that are more than 2 people per team.  The following list of teams is presented in no particular order.  Is your favorite among them?

Smothers Brothers:
Real life brothers [they've always been a favorite of mine], folk singers and comedy duo who rose to fame in 1958 in the coffee houses of San Francisco.  In the late 1960s they had their own television variety show on CBS but constantly found themselves at odds with the CBS censors over their anti-Vietnam war political stance.  CBS fired them during the show's third season, leaving an already produced episode unaired.  They again headlined their own television network variety series in the late 1980s.

Abbott and Costello:
Partners for many years in movies and on their own television show.  Their Who's On First baseball routine is still one of the funniest comedy bits of all time.

The Three Stooges:
A trio whose members, most of whom were brothers, changed from time to time.  Their style of comedy invented comedic violence.  They turned eye pokes, face slaps, and unchecked aggression into an art form.  They started in vaudeville and moved into films and eventually television.  Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Shemp Howard were the original 3.  Then Shemp was replaced by Curly Joe (Howard) with Shemp rejoining Moe and Larry at a later date.  Then Shemp was replaced by Joe Besser who was eventually replaced by Joe DeRita.

Cheech and Chong:
The comedy duo of Cheech and Chong have a successful stand-up comic career, won a Grammy for comedy album, had a successful movie career together and also pursued individual careers.  Cheech Marin had a successful run as Don Johnson's co-star in the Nash Bridges police drama television series.  He also appeared on a celebrity Jeopardy tournament and won his game.  Tommy Chong most recently appeared on Dancing With The Stars. The duo are still performing their stand-up routine in venues around the country.

Amos and Andy:
This fictional black comic duo was created for radio by Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll who also wrote the episodes and voiced the main characters in addition to several other characters on the shows. When the successful radio comedy moved to television, the roles and Amos and Andy were initially portrayed by Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll, both Caucasian, who performed in black face.  They were later replaced by African American actors who continued the roles.

Laurel and Hardy:
This comic duo started in silent films in 1921 and segued into talking pictures with a successful movie career through out the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.  They turned slapstick comedy into high art with thin Englishman Stan Laurel playing the clumsy childlike friend of much heavier pompous American Oliver Hardy.  A solo acting role for Oliver Hardy surprised me as a bit of really off beat casting.  In 1949, he co-starred in The Fighting Kentuckian as sidekick and buddy of…John Wayne!

Monty Python:
Another of the non-twosome comedy teams…there were 6 members…on the list and some of the funniest Brits ever born (although one of them was American).  Marvelously funny comedy and satire sketches on their television series from the 1970s, Monty Python's Flying Circus.  And some equally hilarious movies.  And as individuals they each had their own careers.  Graham Chapman had studied medicine prior to turning his hand at writing.  He died from cancel at the early age of 48.  John Cleese went on to write and star in one of the funniest situation comedy television series, Fawlty Towers, as well as a long string of movie and television guest starring roles including an Emmy win.  Terry Gilliam, the lone American of the group, went on to a successful career as a feature film director.  Erik Idle was the writer of the Broadway hit, Spamalot, a Monty Pythonesque satire of Camelot [I've seen Spamalot…very funny].  Terry Jones is a well-respected historian who has written books and presented documentaries on medieval and ancient history [A few years ago, I saw an excellent documentary series he wrote and presented, I think on the History Channel, about The Crusades].  Michael Palin has continued a successful writing and acting career and in addition has written and presented a series of travel documentaries.

Martin and Lewis:
What happens when you pair a zany over-the-top Jewish comic and a suave debonair Italian singer? You get the hottest show business duo for a decade—movies, television, clubs.  After their break-up, they each went on to very successful solo careers.

Marx Brothers:
Real life brothers, they started in vaudeville and went on to Broadway and movies.  There were originally 5 brothers in the act—Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo, and Zeppo.  Zeppo only appeared in the first 5 movies while Gummo didn't appear in any of the movies.  Groucho went on to achieve success on television as the MC of the game show, You Bet Your Life, from 1947 until 1961.

Burns and Allen:
Very successful husband and wife comedy team with George Burns as the straight man to the ditzy wife character of real life wife Gracie Allen.  They spanned the years from vaudeville, through radio, and a successful television situation comedy show where he would end each episode with "Say goodnight, Gracie."

Lucy and Ethel:
While their television husbands were away, these best friends would get themselves into all kinds of hilarious jams.  The I Love Lucy episode where they worked on the assembly line in a candy factor is considered a classic comedic routine.  Lucille Ball was a master of physical comedy.

Laverne and Shirley:
Lucy and Ethel regaled us with funny moments in the 1950s.  And from 1976 to 1983 best friends Laverne (Penny Marshall) and Shirley (Cindy Williams) picked up the gauntlet and carried it forward as 2 single blue-collar workers in a Milwaukee brewery.

Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau:
Each respected actors adept at both comedy and drama and friends in real life, they appeared together in 10 films spanning 4 decades.  Probably the most famous is the film adaptation of the Broadway hit, The Odd Couple, in 1968 which spawned a sequel 30 years later in 1998 also starring Lemmon and Matthau (plus 3 television series).  Matthau died in 2000 and Lemmon in 2001.

Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner:
Each film and television legends in their own right, they made comedic history when they wrote and performed their 2000 Year Old Man routine.  Brooks and Reiner were both writers on Sid Caesar's Your Show Of Shows television variety show that ran from 1950–1955 and Caesar's Hour television variety show after that.  These 2 television shows gave us more comedic writing genius than just Brooks and Reiner…also among the writers were Woody Allen and Neil Simon.

Bob Hope and Bing Crosby:
Bob Hope's wise cracking and fast talker and Bing Crosby's smooth crooner were box office gold with their series of Road To… movies with their co-star leading lady, Dorothy Lamour.

Tim Conway and Harvey Korman:
As if watching the brilliance of Carol Burnett doing sketch comedy wasn't enough, Tim and Harvey were a treat for the funny bone.  It was difficult to tell who laughed more, Tim and Harvey or the audience.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Good question.  Just ask some of the Hollywood celebrities whose careers would probably never have gotten off the ground using the name they were born with.

Back in the days when the movie studios literally ruled the performer's lives with iron-fisted control—told the stars which movies they were allowed to make, who they could date, hushed up affairs, covered up pregnancies of unwed actresses, made drunk driving arrests go away and paid off victims, and in some instances it's even rumored that they covered up murder—they also controlled the star's name.

Nowadays it's a matter of individual choice whether or not a celebrity wants to select a name more suited to his/her career with some nearly unpronounceable names appearing on the marquee belonging to celebrities that chose to stay with their real name…something that never would have been allowed in the golden days of the studios.

Here are a few celebrities, some of them old school and others current, whose name change definitely helped their careers.

Fred Astaire, certainly one of the greatest dancers of the 20th century, but would he have been as successful as Frederick Austerlitz?  And what about his partner from many of his films, Ginger Rogers?  Would she have been as popular as Virginia Katherine McMath?

And then there's Mariska Hargitay's mother, Vera Jayne Palmer.  She might not have been as successful without the name change to Jayne Mansfield.  And Mariska's co-star on Law & Order—SVU, would Tracy Morrow be as interesting as Ice-T especially for someone who started his career as a rapper?

How many women would actually have swooned over the man who is considered one of "Hollywood's all-time definitive leading men" if Archibald Alexander Leach hadn't changed his name to Cary Grant?

Would that famous Jack Benny stare have been as funny coming from Benjamin Kubelsky?

What about a movie marquee announcing Roy Harold Scherer, Jr. and Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff rather than Rock Hudson and Doris Day?

Would "Missed it by that much!" or "would you believe…" have been such a great catch phrases if they had been uttered by Donald James Yarmy rather than Don Adams?

Would Boris Karloff have been any where near as frightening if he had kept his birth name of William Henry Pratt?

Would Wolfgang Puck have been as successful as a chef and restaurateur under the name of Wolfgang Johannes Topfschnig?

Would we be as mesmerized by the magical illusions of David Copperfield if they were being performed by David Seth Kotkin?

Would Whoopi Goldberg be as funny if she was working under her real name of Caryn Elaine Johnson?

We have that teenage song and dance team from those old MGM musicals, Joseph Yule, Jr., and Frances Ethel Gumm.  Would they have been as successful if they hadn't changed their names to Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland?

And what about one of the most famous comedy teams in show business history, Crocetti and Levitch?  You probably know them better as Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

What about Bernard Schwartz?  Would he ever have been as popular if he hadn't changed his name to Tony Curtis?

And Sir Elton John, does he look like a Reginald Kenneth Dwight?

Can you picture Tina Fey as Elizabeth Stamatina Fey?

Or Jamie Foxx as Eric Marlon Bishop?

Would Oscar winner Ben Kingsley's statuette be the same with the name Krishna Pandit Bhanji engraved on it?

Can you picture Elvis Costello as Declan Patrick MacManus?

There are so many more that I could have listed here, the famous who changed their name in pursuit of a career.  Some from days of yore and others current.  Do you have any particular favorite celebrities who have chosen to do the name change?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Do Hangover Home Remedies Really Work?

New Year's Eve has just come and gone.  And synonymous with New Year's Eve is the traditional celebration—the New Year's Eve PARTY.

And from the party comes the inevitable next morning hangover for many of those party-goers who over-indulged in those "adult beverages."

It seems that everyone has a sure fire remedy for the dreaded hangover.  Let's take a look at 9 popular home remedies and what the experts say about their viability.

1)  Increase Water Intake
It's generally known that alcohol dehydrates the body so it's only logical to assume that drinking lots of water will help rehydrate the body thus easing that hangover.  It's not a complete cure but it will help the bloodstream and circulatory system carry nutrients and oxygen to tissue and remove waste from a night of drinking.

2)  Nibbling Toast With Honey
Evidence suggests that any high-carb, high-sugar snack might provide some immediate energy, but beware…it's only a temporary boost, not a cure.

3)  Guzzling Sports Drinks
The extra electrolytes found in sports drinks such as Gatorade can give them an edge over plain water to treat a hangover by leading to quicker rehydration of the body.

4)  Loading Up On Vitamins And Minerals
Vitamin C and magnesium can help the body break down alcohol and eliminate it from the body, making them a viable hangover remedy.  A good source is magnesium citrate power which can be taken with hot or cold water.

5)  Drinking Coffee
This is a popular way of initially easing the pain of a hangover, but it's only temporary and is limited in its effects.  Caffeine is dehydrating, same as alcohol.  It might wake you up, but can potentially make the situation worse.

6)  Have Some "Hair Of The Dog"
Waking up and having another alcoholic drink may be a sort of feel-good cure, but it's very temporary.  The traditional college approach to ease the pain doesn't help.  Drinking more alcohol only continues to disrupt blood chemistry and hydration.

7)  Eating Greasy Food
A greasy breakfast, one high in carbohydrates and fat content, can give your body a short term boost.  But, for the long term it's not a good idea.

8)  Working Out
Of all the possible and popular hangover cures, the experts say this one works the best.  It improves circulation and pumps up your mood-boosting hormones.  The biggest problem with this is forcing yourself do it.

9)  Sex
There isn't any scientific data to support engaging in sex as a hangover cure.  But there's no harm in trying.  :)