Monday, February 05, 2007

Don’t just stand there, bust a myth

I recently stood in the kitchen, holding the refrigerator door open with my knee, staring mournfully at the items therein while contemplating the paradox of our times: the fridge is full but there’s nothing to eat.

Even so, I like to consider myself a survivor. Come dinner time, even when we haven’t been grocery shopping in weeks, I can almost always scrounge a meal together as long as I can find something from one of the four main non-perishable food groups: peanut butter, popcorn, Bavarian pretzels or Lucky Charms.

Bear Grylls, my new hero, wouldn’t need any of these things to survive. For those who haven’t seen him, Bear is the star of the Discovery Channel show “Man vs. Wild,” a series that stacks the odds in favor of “Man” by bringing a Mt. Everest-climbing British Special Forces commander to the fight. This hardly seems fair, as “Wild” would have a much better chance of winning against your average clean-fingernailed humor columnist. In each episode, Bear skydives into a different remote location and has to survive, carrying only a canteen and a knife, until he can find his way back to civilization or Wal-Mart, whichever comes first.

What’s striking about the show is how quickly man must remember to act like an animal when he’s no longer in the vicinity of his TiVo. Bear climbs up to birds’ nests so that he can steal the eggs and eat them raw. He catches fish with his bare hands and kills them with his teeth, eating a very graphic sushi lunch that my wife Kara and I could only watch through our fingers.

Bear also goes the extra mile, flinging himself into quicksand pits and icy lakes on purpose, just to show you what to do if you should ever find yourself in a similar situation, like when you can’t find your car in the mall parking lot.

Tough as he may be, I still suspect that if he ever accidentally skydives through the skylight into our house, Bear will probably starve to death.

In any case, it’s tough to find Bear on TV lately because the Discovery Channel plays “MythBusters” twenty-three hours a day. MythBusters is a show that carefully and methodically attempts to shatter the myth that tough guys shouldn’t wear berets, continuing Rerun’s ground-breaking work from “What’s Happening!!”

Actually, the MythBusters do perform some interesting experiments. In the most recent episode, they proved, by building a gelatin mold of an average-sized human male and welding coat hangers to a SCUBA tank on its back, that Achilles’s heel was actually his crotch. They have also proven that Zeus did not throw thunderbolts, because there’s no such thing as a bolt of thunder. Those guys know how to bust a myth.

Also, if you were just puttering along like I was, wondering how Howie Mandel got back on TV again, you may not have noticed that they changed the rules about punctuating the possessive form of words that end with the letter S. When I was a kid, we learned about Achilles’ heel. Now it’s Achilles’s heel. I didn’t know that grammar was allowed to change, and it’s frankly a little unsettling. The second comma in a list of three items has also met its demise. I think that one is the fault of the British woman who wrote a book about panda bears called “Eats, shoots and leaves.”

You don’t see physicists running around changing the laws of thermodynamics on us. “Okay, everybody, we changed our minds. Energy can be destroyed now.” That just wouldn’t be fair. It’s tough enough to learn things once. If you learn it in second grade, it should be true forever. Also, it would be cool if ice cream cones were still be thirty-five cents.

You can start a fire using only birch bark, Mike Todd and a lighter online at

[Note: Apparently, there's still some disagreement about the apostrophe thing, so there's no need to rap my knuckles with your APA handbook. Some sources say it's okay to say it like Achilles's, while others suggest that I'm a complete tool for even bringing it up.]


  1. I like Mythbusters sometimes.... when they bust a myth that I thought was true. Like that Pirates wear eyepatches to cover a gory,gaping eyeball socket... nope... they wear them to help see in the dark. If they have to go down into the hold of the ship, from the sun, they switch the patch to the other eye. The eye that was covered is already 'tuned' to the darkness and voila! they can see in the dark. When I come into the house from being in the bright sun, I love to scream "I can't f'in see!!"

  2. Discovery channel has been showing way to much Myth Busters and Dirty Jobs. ugggghhhhhhh

    Hey they grammer can go that way. I've always said stuff like Thomas's and James's cuz I say it like thomas es and james es. So why not add the extra s. hehehehehe

    Even if it's not that way, I'm still gonna do it that way. *sticks's tongue out.*

  3. Well, Iris' opinion on Mythbusters is that it keeps my two sons quiet for many long hours, instead of rifling through the cabinets full of food telling me there is nothing to eat.

  4. Maurice Todd2/05/2007 8:13 PM

    That Bear sounds like a pretty smart guy. I bet he prepaid the principle on his mortgage payments to save a bunch of money in the end. He wouldn't do anything stupid like put it into an interest bearing account so he may eventually be able to pay off his mortgage early....That's just plain silly

  5. Sheri -- If it weren't for you, this day would have ended without my learning a damn thing. Thanks! I'm going to tell people that and pretend like I figured it out. First, I'll make sure they don't have cable.

    Burfica -- Grammar rebels to the end. Rock on.

    Iris -- That's probably for the best. Last weekend, I saw Bear squeeze an elephant turd and drink the water out of it. Probably not something you'd want your kids to try. But then maybe they'd stop complaining about how there's nothing to eat.

    Mo -- That sure doesn't sound like my Dad. That sounds like my friend Josh, who is giving the bank interest-free loans by paying down his principal early. If only he'd tuck that money aside in an interest-bearing account, he could still pay off the mortgage early AND collect interest along the way. I wonder if Josh remembers when we used to argue about which girls had bigger boobs.

  6. MAURICE TODD2/06/2007 8:39 AM


  7. I hit a bear with my car once. My kids wanted me to stop and see if the bear was ok. At times like this, I think it's ok to scream at your children, "Are you out of your F'ing minds?"

    Actually, the bear won that round. He skipped off into the forest, while I was left picking bear hair our of my headlight and paying lots of money to fix my dented car.

    Oh, yeah, and I miss that second comma too. Whoever changed that rule just sucks, man.

  8. P.S. I wrote that last comment.


  9. Love Man vs Wild. Clint and I watched a Sunday marathon of them around Thanksgiving. He sure gets naked alot but otherwise it's a great show.

    We were talking about what it would be like to hang out with him for a day, going over adventures. Then it came to us: What would we talk about? He climbs mountains, jumps out of planes, skis down mountains, survives jungles and deserts and lava fields. What would he have in common with a couple flatlanders from Illinois? Maybe Bud Light? (still in superbowl mode)

    Probably nothing at all.

  10. Mo -- Obviously, the only way to settle this is to have our wives square off in a water displacement competition. Let the boob dunking begin.

    melodyann -- Glad you claimed credit for anonymous's fine work. That was some funny crap. And I just got to do the apostrophe thing again. What a rush.

    Buster -- If you ever start to feel like Bear is cooler than you, just remember: you take really cool pictures, and he drinks poop.

  11. They say the people who age best are those who can accept change and move with the times. I'm gonna miss the ole ess apostrophe... but I won't be left behind dammit!

  12. Anna -- I still can't accept that Seinfeld ended. The apostrophe thing is going to take some more time.

  13. To Maurice Todd (JOSH PERLSON)