The RP: What’s Up Doc? — My Five Favorite “Doc”s Who Weren’t Really Doctors

Continuing my newly-established tradition of plagiarizing from Nick Hornby and sharing my pop culture Top Five lists (See my Favorite Breakup Songs , my Favorite Hoops Books, and the Most Jew-ish Gentiles), and in honor of my oldest RPette’s recent acquisition of an adorable bunny (named “Louie” not “Bugs”), I ask the question that has confused, even haunted my generation: 

What’s up with all of the guys named “Doc” who’ve never practiced medicine or even earned a graduate degree? 

Without further agonized perplexion, I hereby list My Five Favorite “Doc”s Who Weren’t Really Doctors:

5. (tie) Doctor J and Doctor K

Julius Erving (who supposedly got his nickname from a high school buddy) and Dwight Gooden (an homage to Erving — K stands for strikeout — that was later shortened to “Doc”) were two of the greatest athletes of the last three decades of the 20th Century.  J was the fifth highest scorer in pro basketball history, the first great populizer of the slam dunk, and one of the most graceful and elegant atheletes to ever play the game (And how ’bout that ‘fro!).  K was one of the most feared and dominant baseball pitchers, whose brilliant career could only be stopped by drug use and injury.  And yet, despite their greatness, there is no sensible reason to award them with the title of doctor.  (At least J gathered a few honorary degrees after his career ended.)

4.  Doc, the Dwarf

Doc wasn’t necessarily the brightest of the dwarfs — he seemed to stammer and lose his train of thought quite often — but he held sway over the rest of the crew, with the possible exception of Grumpy, of course.  (Here is a great summary of his life and career.)  Doc’s authority emenated from being the gray eminence of the group, the centered, moral authority.  Yet there was no evidence whatsoever of a medical license or doctoral dissertation at an accredited university.  Indeed, it took the efforts of a fully-heighted fellow (The Prince) to relieve Snow White of her food poisoning ailment.

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The RP: What’s Up Doc? — My Five Favorite “Doc”s Who Weren’t Really Doctors

Jeff Smith: What’s the Matter with Missouri?

In the early 1990s, Democrats dominated both houses of the Missouri Legislature. State Senator Danny Stapleswas a typical member of the majority party: an old-school pro-gun, pro-life Democrat from southeast Missouri who operated a resort on the Jack’s Fork River. He hailed from Eminence (pop. 600) and explained his aggressive political style thusly: “Ya don’t get nuthin from the Sears catalog ‘less ya ask for it.”

But in 1992, Missouri voters passed a law limiting legislators to eight years in each chamber. Current legislators weren’t grandfathered, and so incumbents’ days were numbered.

Rodney Jetton didn’t vote on the term limits law. In 1992, he was a 24-year-old Marine stationed in the Middle East. The son of a Baptist preacher in rural Marble Hill (pop. 1,502), he hoped to seek office upon returning stateside. In 2000 — the year that the full impact of term limits kicked in — the ambitious young firebrand won a seat in the House. More than half the representatives elected that year were freshmen, and most were Republicans. After nearly 50 years in the wilderness, Republicans had a shot to regain the majority.

Jetton wasn’t your typical freshman. He boarded the bus for the ritual freshman state tour with a 100-page document in his hand that he immediately presented to Minority Leader Catherine Hanaway. It was a plan to retake the majority. He forecast which districts were winnable and which weren’t. He broke down how much money it would take to win them. And he offered a roadmap for how to do it: emphasize guns and abortion to woo socially conservative Democrats like those who had long supported Sen. Staples, and use tort reform to dry up corporate contributions to Democrats (and eventually, to drain the coffers of trial attorneys). Hanaway, no dummy, recognized native political talent when she saw it. She put Jetton in charge of candidate recruitment and training.

Jetton recognized something very important: The old-line Democrats like Staples were respected in their communities. These were communities in Northeast and Southeast Missouri full of people like Staples: farmers and small businessmen, laborers and tradesmen, mostly descended from the hardscrabble Virginians who had trekked across the hills long ago. They were Democrats because that’s what you were if you lived in Virginia before the Civil War. These yellow-dog Democrats coalesced with Democrats from St. Louis and Kansas City to provide durable statewide majorities for most of the 20th century, with Republican strength concentrated in the Bible Belt counties in Southwest Missouri.

The more retrograde the political debate, the more progressives left or never came in the first place. And the more progressives left or stayed away, the more conservative the electorate became, and the more reactionary the debate.

But by 2000, times were changing. As many scholars and journalists have chronicled, the national Democratic Party had, since the mid-1960s, increasingly lost touch with the old-line Democrats, who continued supporting local Democrats but had long since stopped backing them at the national level. Jetton intuitively understood that the way to these men’s political hearts was through their gun racks. And he knew that the way to their wives’ hearts’ was through the local preacher — that’s where the life issue came in. He established a clear partisan cleavage on cultural issues that, until then, had existed only in federal and statewide elections. In just two years, he went from minority-party backbencher to speaker pro tem.

In order to solidify this new cleavage, Jetton needed interest groups like the NRA, Missouri Right to Life (MRL), and the Missouri Family Network. They helped, but their support did not come cheap. The NRA, for instance, first demanded passage of concealed-carry legislation. But that proved insufficient, and the group ultimately spearheaded passage of a so-called “castle law” that even allows drivers to shoot (and kill) anyone who reaches into their vehicle.

MRL wanted to ban the procedure conservatives call partial-birth abortion. Then they wanted parental consent, and worked to make it so cumbersome for abortion clinics to operate that nearly every one in the state had to close. Missouri soon had some of the strictest abortion laws in the nation. Still not satisfied, MRL sought to criminalize scientific research on stem cells.

No hot-button cultural issue escaped attention. Laws prohibiting gay marriage were now deemed insufficient, so Republicans demanded a redundant constitutional amendment (which garnered 72 percent of the vote). It wasn’t enough to crack down on undocumented immigrants in the workplace. Republicans demanded a constitutional amendment making English the state’s official language, though there was no evidence anyone had ever conducted state business in any other language (until, of course, the day I filibustered that proposed amendment in French).

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Jeff Smith: What’s the Matter with Missouri?

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: NYC

About to take my daughter to walk through the campus at Columbia University.

I have never been and know little about the august Ivy League university.

I am tempted to brag to my daughter that had I applied to Columbia I probably wouldn’t have gotten in. Leaving open the possibility that I could have. Even though that isn’t really true. But it sounds better and is a basically honest description of my relationship to the University as a potential applicant 33 years ago.

In fact, I had a similar relationship with all other top tier universities but today we are focusing on Columbia.

When I think of Columbia University, I think of Mortimer Adler. What’s in a name, right? Well, if you wanted to make up a fictional character who was the public face of the study of philosophy in the second half of the 20th Century, Mortimer Adler would be a believable fictional name. But it was the actual name of the real person who largely played that role.

Adler got his doctorate from Columbia and was affiliated with the university in various ways for most of his professional life. He was one of the editors for Encyclopaedia Britannica and helped create the Great Books series and served as a life-long advocate for liberal arts education generally, the discipline of philosophy specifically, and the life of the mind for all citizens.

Some marginalized him as being more of a public personality for philosophy than a “real” philosopher himself. But what is philosophy anyway? Is it really primarily about who published what theory? Or is it more of promoting the questioning of every premise and answer in an effort to get closer to the truth –and the promoting of that discipline, a la Socrates and the Socratic method. On this latter measure, Mortimer Adler, was a great an influential philosopher of his time.

And by being exposed to him through his interviews and writings, Mortimer Adler encouraged me to pursue the study of philosophy in college and to be unafraid to think critically; and question assumptions and not be afraid of where those questions may lead.

So, as my daughter and I visit Columbia’s campus and try to snag a T-Shirt or sweat shirt bearing the school name, I’ll say a quiet thank you to Mortimer Adler for promoting the elusive but vitally important benefits of thinking for oneself. And for me being one of many millions of people Adler influenced to be, in their own imperfect and limited way, a philosopher in our modern world.

A modern world that sometimes seems to think it has advanced beyond the need for candid and robust philosophical analysis, but in fact is the lesser for such short-sighted biases.


Things I fear I might overhear while walking alone through Hell’s Kitchen area in NYC.

“Look over your shoulder. I think it is one of those clueless white male heterosexuals from middle America. I have never seen one before.

My Gosh. They look just like they do on television except shorter and pasty looking.”


jyb_musingsIn case you didn’t know this already (Or, Things I overheard today in the Broadway show section of NYC)

“The are basically two factions of people in the country right now.

There are those who love Matilda and hate Kinky Boots.

And there are those who love Kinky Boots and hate Matilda.

You have to figure out which group you are in.”

Said a young man who was working near the ticket counter and answering a question from two women trying to decide which ticket to buy.

I thought he was going to say the two groups are those who support ACA and those who oppose it. But I am from KY.

I haven’t researched enough to say confidently which group I belong to but I think it is probably Kinky Boots. I have never liked the name Matilda.


1381832_10153376142990515_2083337810_nHere’s the thing about people who wear T-shirts from elite universities they didn’t attend….

Yesterday I got to visit Columbia University. I wanted to tour the campus with my daughter and buy a T-shirt. The first thing you notice is that the actual students attending Columbia don’t wear T-shirts that say Columbia.

The first student I spoke to had a French accent and was wearing a pull-over shirt with a tiny French symbol I didn’t recognize (probably France’s equivalent of Polo that they think is superior to our Polo symbol but other people just roll their eyes at). We were lost and I asked him if he knew where Columbia University was located. He was obviously highly intelligent because he instantly grinned condescendingly and pointed directly across the street to a giant entrance gate with a huge university behind it. “There it is,” he said, “I am a student there.” I smiled (not condescendingly) and said, “Oh. Yeah. Thank you. I obviously wasn’t a student here.”

Once inside we walked across the campus and then began looking for a place to buy a Columbia T-shirt. I approached a distinguished looking woman and asked where the book store was located because I wanted to buy a Columbia University T-shirt. Adding, “You know, so people will think I attended Columbia,” I said facetiously.

She seemed taken aback and pointed to the building to my left and responded, “Try down there.”I have never bought a Columbia T-shirt but that’s because I only got a master’s degree here” as she pointed to the Journalism School we were standing just outside of.

I didn’t say anything but was thinking, “She must not have made very good grades if she is too ashamed to even get a Columbia T-shirt after she got a master’s degree at Colubmia. But that was her problem. I was undaunted. Mostly, I guess, because I made good grades in college and graduate school and figured if I had made really good grades at a really good high school and gotten involved in a whole lot of high school activities that impresses college admission’s officers and had a much higher SAT and ACT score, I could have gotten in Columbia University myself and may have done pretty well. So, for those reasons, I was completely comfortable with the idea of buying and wearing a Columbia T-shirt.

Just so you know I am not kidding myself, I would never buy or wear a T-shirt from MIT. I don’t think I could have made it there. I also would never buy a T-shirt from Duke University but not because I couldn’t have made it there under similar circumstances described above. But because students there are required to pretend they are superior to all other college students and I could never have pulled that off. While on the subject, I also would never buy a T-shirt from the University of Alabama. No particular reason. Just, why bother?

So, here’s the thing. When you were a T-shirt with the name of an elite university you didn’t attend no one really believes you actually went there. In fact, it’s a dang near certainty you didn’t. But that’s not why I wear them. I wear them because it gives the message that “I may not have gone to this university ….but if I had made really good grades at a really good high school and gotten involved in a whole lot of high school activities that impresses college admission’s officers and had a much higher SAT and ACT score, I could have gotten in Columbia University myself and may have done pretty well.”

And that is enough for me. And worth the $19.95

(Note: Later I will post a picture of me doing something smart looking, like thinking, in my new Columbia University T-shirt)


541893_10153377227235515_1556053886_nBeing in NYC means never having to wonder if you look normal.


I have now visited the campuses of both Harvard and Columbia.

And have the T-shirts to prove it.

On Harvard’s campus it is all about Harvard. You feel you have have walked into hallowed ground preserved for the chosen elite who have trouble relating to the rest of us. The experience is akin to scaling Mt Olympus. Only Harvard Yard lore is more actual than mythic.

Columbia’s campus. by contrast, feels like it is still all about NYC–but that you have wondered onto a chic and sophisticated suburb.

Columbia is a special place, of course. But not Mount Olympus sacred. More like Mount Olympuses artsy and eclectic cousin who moved to the city–where the action is and because they are more at home walking through gritty streets than idyllic yards.


Travel Trivia.

If you are on the 15th floor at a NY Hotel and the elevators are extremely slow and after you have been waiting patiently for over four minutes and a couple joins you at the elevators and they were the same couple that checked in before you last night and asked endless tedious questions about the room before finally checking in, and when the elevator door opens it is literally packed with people with room for only one or two more persons and the rude couple saunters in front of you and squeezes on the elevator leaving you to wait for the next elevator even though you were there first, by at least four minutes, and even pushed the elevator button, is that considered rude behavior?

Correct answer?

It is impossible to be rude while in New York.


For anyone who questions the line in the song New York, New York “I want to wake up in that city that never sleeps,” well, it is true.

New York City really doesn’t appear to ever sleep. I stayed up very late the last couple of nights to see for myself. Like staying awake to catch Santa and his reindeer on Christmas morning.

I never did catch St Nick or Rudolph or even see any elves for that matter….but I can confirm that NYC was still humming along last night (technically, this morning) into the wee hours.

And I thought I may have seen a elf couple and someone dressed like Santa Claus and at least three of what appeared to be glowing noses. I kinda hit the jackpot!

The RP vs. JYB3 — An EPIC Fitness Challenge

The combatants: The RP, JYB3(w/Ali) & Josh)

The RP vs. JYB3.  Mano y mano.  

Or should we say metrosexualia y metrosexualia?

Below, The RP and JYB3 share their personal fitness goals as part of this elite competition.  And later this week, we will hear from their trainer — our web site’s own fitness expert, Josh Bowen

Click here to watch a video with the official rules of the challenge. (SPOILER ALERT:  Everyone’s a loser!)

And stay tuned for many exciting developments in the challenge — where you can join the combatants, and when you can win valuable prizes.

We encourage you to pick sides: We fully expect #TeamRP and #TeamJYB3 to trend on Twitter, blow up Facebook, and do whatever to Pinterest that Pinterest does.

Anyway, here are the big losers themselves:


JYB3 (#TeamJYB3)


I am announcing it to friends and family and anyone else who will listen.

I’m serious this time.

It’s not a New Year’s resolution. Just a December 8th start date. I’m not sure when the end date is. But it won’t be until 2013. And here’s what I’m going to do.


(or at least 10 pounds)

Jonathan Miller has challenged me and I told him, in no uncertain words, “I like the idea conceptually, but the working out part concerned me and make me reluctant at first. But I’m in. I’m all in. I mean I’m in. I’ll do it. I guess.”

So “It’s on!” And today is the day. Or maybe it’s tomorrow. We weren’t really clear on that. But what is clear is that I am committed to losing 15 pounds. (Or at least 10).


I’ve been asked for a “Before” picture. To show beside my “after” picture once I’m through. That assumes two things: 1) I’ll actually finish this commitment and 2) that the “after” picture will actually be distinguishable for the “before” picture.

What I would like to do instead of a “before and after picture” is to reserve the option of

having two “after” pictures, assuming things go well. And a written “before” depiction for comparison purposes. (In addition to the “after” pictures, both of them, if it goes well), I will include a brief narrative description as well.

So, here, goes.

Seth Rogen shirtless

John Y Brown III (Before Description). Imagine Seth Rogan on a beach somewhere without a shirt and nearly knee length baggy shorts. But picture him about two inches shorter and with a slight Southern accent. Eating a Krispy Kreme donut. (I’d say imagine him 7 pounds lighter than he is in the movies….but because the camera adds about 10 pounds, instead imagine him about 3 pounds heavier than he is in real life and not on camera. Or if that’s too difficult because you are struggling to imagine Seth Rogen off camera and 10 pounds lighter, just go ahead and imagine him like in his movies buy 7 pounds lighter. (Just slightly less accurate that way because the added 10 pounds caused by the camera is inexact. But it’s close enough. If you’ve followed this description closely, you have a pretty good idea now of what my “before” picture looks like.

Or, for a simpler image. Just imagine Seth Rogan (movie not real life) shirtless and eating a Krispy Kreme donut. Minus 7.2 pounds (I’m factoring in the donut). And don’t imagine a Speedo. That’s not fair to anyone.


THE RP (#TeamRP)


About a decade ago, I started training with the extraordinary Josh Bowen.  He pushed, bullied and harangued me into shape.  By the time we were done, I weighed 175 lbs and was — with no exaggeration — in the best shape of my life.

After a few years, I thought that I had learned all I could from my guru, my fitness sherpa. I continued hitting the gym, this time by myself, using all the advice Josh had given me.  A few years later, I was roughly in the same shape.

Then I got greedy, and exercised too hard and did something (used the elliptical in wrong form? put too much weight on the leg press?) that led to a bulging disk in my lower back. My exercise routine shut down as I went to all sorts of places for treatment — doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors, acupuncture, drum circles, etc.

The RP BEFORE BEFORE. Posing with Josh in 2005

Finally, I listened to my wife, found a Yoga instructor, whose stretching and strength routine helped ease the pain.  Thank you to the marvelous David and Erin Smith of the Om Place in Winchester!

But without exercising regularly, I gained a bunch of weight.  Then I lost it, worked out too hard, hurt myself and gained a bunch of weight again.  I simply have never been able to figure out the right balance of working out hard enough to lose weight, but not too hard to hurt myself.

In the meantime, I aged.  I developed both borderline high blood pressure and the same stomach acid problem that plagued my dad.  I’m on acid blockers, but for both of my conditions, my doctor was insistent:  I have to lose at least 10 pounds.

I’m at 190 now.  I need to be at maximum 180.  I’d love to get down to 175 — where I felt best — but losing those final 5 pounds by myself always led to other physical problems.

So, I’m back to the master for help.

I eat pretty well, but could always use some nutrition tips.  But really, I am looking to Josh for a weight-losing exercise program that will not exacerbate my disk problem.

And I look forward to sharing with the RP Nation.

Read the rest of…
The RP vs. JYB3 — An EPIC Fitness Challenge

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Wellness

What’s your biggest regret? Researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that for most Americans, it’s a missed romantic opportunity. [NY Times]

Feeling a little back pain or numbness? Your skinny jeans or stilettos may be to blame. [Wall Street Journal]

New research from Britain shows common sleep medications may be linked to a shorter lifespan. But don’t stress yet, insomniacs– many doctors are doubtful of the study’s validity. [CNN]

When is it okay to give your child a sick day home from school… and when is it okay to send them, despite their sniffles? [Washington Post]

New research shows that richer people are often less ethical because they view greed differently than other demographics. [Time]

The RP’s Top Five Art Museums to Place on Your Bucket List

Here's Your Top 5 List!

It’s time again for yet another of my infamous Half-Letterman pop culture lists.  If you are a newbie, having joined our site after a “Prison Sex” Google search, SHAME ON YOU, and enjoy these links to all of my past gems:  Favorite Breakup SongsFavorite Hoops Books, Most Jew-ish GentilesFavorite “Docs” who Weren’t DoctorsPretty Boys I Begrudgingly Admire, Guilty PleasuresPop Music LyricsAwful TV Shows with Terrific Theme SongsMost Romantic Screen Scenes in the Rain, and Worst Oscar Robberies of Italian-Americans.

While lower forms of culture (and alleged outbursts of “humor”) are my forté; today, I will try to educate, inspire, and lift the RP Nation up out of the penis-joke muck by offering some high-brow pontification.  So with nose raised high, hand firmly patting own back, and notifications sent to all of those whom I desperately am trying to impress with my erudition, I hereby and heretofore offer my list of the Top Five Art Museums to Place on Your Bucket List:

HONORABLE MENTION:  The Tuska Museum, Lexington, KY

OK, it would be slightly disingenuous of me to lump this local fare into a group so rich in prestige and historic import. But as a disproportionate percentage of the RP Nation hails within driving distance of my hometown, I use this opportunity to strongly prod my neighbors into visiting this superb hidden local treasure. The Tuska Museum, a tribute to the life and art of John Tuska, Kentucky’s most celebrated 20th Century artist — housed within the late sculptor’s former off-campus home — features many of the legend’s greatest works. Tuska vividly captures the human condition through his exquisite draftsmanship, solemn paintings, and, most famously, extraordinary sculptures — in bronze, ceramic and paper.  Check out the permanent collection here and sign up today for a guided tour, performed with great love and passion by the artist’s son, Seth.

OK…back to our shew…

5. The Picasso Museum, Paris

A few years ago, Mrs. RP and I were wandering through the shops, synagogues, and kosher restaurants of Paris’ Marais District, the heart of France’s Jewish community, when we stumbled upon the under-advertised tribute to the greatest artist of the 20th Century. La Musée National Picasso features the late Spaniard’s personal collection of nearly 3000 of his own beloved works, as well as his collection of other great artists, such as CézanneDegasRousseauSeuratde Chirico and Matisse. The gallery is housed in a building that itself is worth espying: The Hôtel Salé, is a 17th century architectural masterpiece. Of course, you are going to have to wait a little bit to check this museum off your bucket list: It is currently closed for renovations, and will re-open in the spring of 2013.  So order your plane tickets early!

4. Vatican Museums/Sistene Chapel, Rome

The tour guides around Rome can only agree on one thing: Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is a d-bag. But they fiercely debate the value of the Catholic Church’s historical impact on the world of art and architecture. The guides at the Collosseum and the Roman Forum decry the Popes of the Middle Ages who robbed these historic sites of the art, architecture and majestic craftsmanship created at the behest of the Roman Emporers. But the Vatican guides ferociously celebrate how the Church maintained and preserved the best of the creativity of the pre-Renaissance Era. What’s indisputable is that in order to experience the greatest art of that age — and the greatest religious art of any era — you’ve got to head to the Vatican Museums.  You are undoubtedly familiar with the Sistene Chapel’s iconic ceiling, painted laboriously for years by prone Michaelangelo — and you’ve got to experience the entirely sublime head-craning spectacle — but the Museum (and the Chapel itself) have so much more to offer. And don’t neglect to stay for a tour of St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest, most ornate, and most visually spectacular church you will ever visit.  Just make sure to wear comfortable shoes on the most cobblestone roads and floors.  I learned that one the hard way. Ouch!

3. Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York

Good news:  You don’t have to travel halfway around the world to experience one of the world’s greatest art musuems. In fact, in my not-so-humble opinion, the MOMA features the world’s most spectacular collection of 19th and 20th Century artwork. Whenever I can squeeze a few hours out of a business trip to the Big Apple, I wander through the permanent collection on the fifth floor and give greetings to Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Chagall’s I and the Village and Rousseau’s Dream and Warhol’s Campbell Soup Cans and Cezanne’s Bather and Monet’s Water Lillies and Jasper Johns’ Flag and…and..and…  The special exhibitions are always worth checking out as well, as MOMA works hard to include all of the visual arts, from film to electronic media, to architecture, to photography…the list goes on and on.  If you are new to the world of art, this is a great starter museum — many works that you’ve seen via the pop culture — even if you can’t exactly explain them — surrounded by hundreds of other incredible works that will expand and fortify your art cred.  And you don’t have to take six or seven planes to get back home.

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The RP’s Top Five Art Museums to Place on Your Bucket List

John Johnson: The Five Worst Reality Game Shows

My daughter was born in the spring of 2000.  That summer, as many new parents with infants do, we found ourselves around the house quite a bit, learning the ropes of parenthood.  As it turned out, lucky for us, Summer 2000 was also the summer that network TV discovered reality TV game shows!  With the launch of Survivor and Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, my sleep deprived wife and I could get our nightly Regis Philbin fix and watch the exploits of nude Richard on the island (“the tribe has spoken”) without having to think at all!

Strangely, that summer launched the reality TV genre.  More than a decade later—where it seems the majority of TV is reality—I have found my own personal obsession…the bad reality TV game show.   Who needs American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, or the Amazing Race? (I can hear some RP readers already saying—aren’t those bad reality TV shows?  Not compared to the rest of this list!)  Bad imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Or, Rule 1 of Bad Reality TV Game Shows: If it is cheap, and it might draw any summer ratings, rip off the idea!

To that end, I offer my pop culture tribute to 5 worst reality game shows of all time.  (A side note for the analytic amongst the RP Nation: “Reality” TV probably has a more precise meaning, but in my world, it is a broad genre encompassing any show where contestants compete as themselves in some less than realistic setting…)

5. 101 Ways to Leave A Game Show.  The only one on my list that is still on TV…though not sure how long it will last.  How can you beat a show where in one episode, contestants were eliminated by being: 1. dropped off a barge going 30 mph at sea, 2. sent to the bottom of the ocean by an anchor around his leg, 3. dumped into a river with dead fish, and 4. ejected off a 10 story platform from a bed face down into water.  Purely sensational…even down to the smarmy host cackling the whole time.  I call that must see TV.

4. (tie) the Joe Schmo Show/ Joe Millionaire.  Double the Joe for the average Joe.  Joe Schmo was a guy from Pittsburgh.  They created a fake reality game show for him (The Lap of Luxury).  Hire 10 actors to fit every stereotype…the blond bombshell, the gossip queen, the quack doctor, the retired army general.  They create a fake world, completely get the guy to buy in for several weeks.  After playing with the guys emotions, getting him to embarrass himself repeatedly on TV, they reveal everyone was actors and he was a total mark! But, they justify the whole thing because they gave him the prize money…and play up what a special, trusting  person they had to find to make this all work.

What’s worse than that?  How about a reality game show where you can find “true love” with a millionaire?  But after you think you’ve found the one, you find out he’s not a millionaire.  I hate when that happens.  Rule 2 of Bad Reality TV Game Shows: Deception is ok as long as you get money in the end.

3. I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here

I think someone should have filed a lawsuit for false advertising…because there were no celebrities here.  Unless you think Bruce Jenner, Melissa Rivers, and Robin Leach are celebrities…  The premise is simple.  Dump a bunch of C-level stars in the jungle.  Make them do stupid stuff.  Someone leaves every night.  Broadcast live every night.  Someone wins.  Poor mans survivor meets Ed Mcmahons star search.  Bad!  (Another side note:  In checking the web today, I found NBC is actually remaking this show again.  Wow.  See Rule 1 of Bad Reality TV Shows Above).

Read the rest of…
John Johnson: The Five Worst Reality Game Shows

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Pompatus of Love

The Joker

All right…The Joker?  The Pompatus? The banner up top? What the heck is going on?!?!?!? [Clicky here first, silly]

OK, got it. Now what in the world did Steve Miller mean by “I speak of the pompatus of love”? [We found this awesome explanation on the Internets tubes]

Wasn’t there some movie called “The Pompatus of Love” with that dude that’s still on Two and a Half Men? [Yup]

Wasn’t Heath Ledger a better Joker–He won the Academy Award for gosh sakes?!? [No F in Way]

What’s a space cowboy? [Hint: the song was written in the 70s.]

Who was the best all-time Gangster of Love? [Loved Pesci in Goodfellas and Pacino in Godfather I and II (and of course in Scarface), but this guy takes the cake.]

I’m a-pickin’…And I’m a-grinnin’.  [Classic Hee-Haw]

Who’s your favorite all-time Maurice? [C’mon, you know the RP is a Bee Gees fan!]

Calling all Readers: Two Chances to Write for the RP

As the dog days of August trudge onward, there’s one universal truth:

We are all sick to death of politics.

So, beginning next week, and proceeding the week after, like any good politico, The Recovering Politician will temporarily change its format to reflect the prevailing public mood.  But unlike too many politicians these days, we are also soliciting your help.

Next week — the week of August 15 — we will be celebrating Politics-Free Week at The Recovering Politician There will be no talk of anything policy or politics oriented, as we focus on everything else under the sun.

And you, the RP Nation, are invited to join us.  If you are game, please send us your best Top 5 pop culture list by Saturday night, August 13 to

(Don’t know what we’re talking about?  Check out the RP’s Half-Lettermans for guidance:  Favorite Breakup SongsFavorite Hoops Books, Most Jew-ish GentilesFavorite “Docs” who Weren’t DoctorsPretty Boys I Begrudgingly AdmireGuilty PleasuresPop Music Lyrics, Awful TV Shows with Terrific Theme Songs, and Most Romantic Screen Scenes in the Rain.)

Then the following week, the week of August 22, we will dedicate the site every day to what’s wrong with politics and how it can be fixed.

Of course, we want to hear from you as well.  Please send us your essays on how to fix the American political system — one specific part, or the whole darn thing (1500 words or less) — by Saturday night, August 20 to

August may be dull, hot, and humid.  But with your help, The Recovering Politician will experience a cool breeze of fun dialogue and fresh ideas for the nation’s future.

We look forward to hearing from you.

The RP: Write/Call/Email Your Congressman NOW!!

The time is now.  Please act today.

Our country stands less than two weeks away from the brink of an economic disaster. 

For the first time in the more than 230-year history of our republic, we could potentially default on our credit obligations.  Indeed, it would be the first time in global history that a country voluntarily chose to default on its credit.

What does this mean? 

In the short term, we’d likely see a dramatic stock market crash, akin to the fall of 2008 when the first TARP proposal was rejected.    The credit market could freeze again, making it even more difficult to borrow to buy a home or car, or to start or even run a small business.

In the long run, there’s no question that our country would have to borrow money at significantly higher rates, meaning we’d have to find many billions of more dollars of budget cuts and/or tax hikes to balance future budgets.

And this potential fiscal insanity is the result of the disease that is infecting our democracy at its core; in fact, the very reason we launched The Recovering Politician:  Hyper-partisanship in American politics. 

Indeed, many of the solutions that have been offered to the debt ceiling crisis have been strictly focused to meet partisan ends. 

Yesterday, the House Republicans passed a “Cut, Cap and Balance” plan that cuts trillions from the budget; but, in the opinion of many (inlcuding me), strips the nation of much of the safety net that preserves our democracy.  Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell offered a plan to raise the debt ceiling while providing political cover for fellow Republicans — which is certainly more responsible than the Tea Party/credit default approach — but both sides of the partisan divide have criticized it as too ineffectual: simply kicking the can down the road for a few more years.

But yesterday, there was a glimmer of hope.  The “Gang of Six” — three Democratic Senators and 3 GOP Senators — reconstituted after a brief “sabbatical” to offer a bi-partisan proposal that would slash $3.7 trillion from the national debt through a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes, many of which were recommended by The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, co-chaired by Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson.

Here is the best summary to date on the “Gang of Six” budget plan.

I’m confident — particularly as details of the Gang of Six plan begins to be defined more clearly — that everyone will find things in it that they dislike, even despise.  But it is the country’s best chance both to emerge from the current debt ceiling crisis, as well as to make enormous reforms of the structural debt problems our nation is facing.

If you agree with me, the time to act is now.

The extremes and special interests wil be placing extraordinary pressure on Congressmen — as they always do — to forego bipartisan compromise.  It is essential that they hear from those of us from both parties who understand that it is sometimes necessary to reach across the aisle to have our voices heard.  We need to reverse the current political dynamic — so that Members of Congress are afraid of the political impact should they act solely in the interests of their party, to the exclusion of the interests of their nation.

So, the time is now to contact your Congressman — by phone, email, mail, tweet, Facebook, Google Plus, homing pigeon, smoke signal, etc., etc.  Let them know that you will have their backs should they make the tough political vote to support a bipartisan compromise such as the Gang of Six’s proposal. Let them know that you want a representative who serves you, not the special interests that dominate Washington.

Click here for an easy link to join the efforts to support bi-partisan compromise on the debt ceiling crisis.

The link above directs you to the No Labels effort to bring Americans together. 

We are not a third party movement. 

Instead, we are proud Democrats, Republicans, and Independents — liberals, progressives, centrists, and conservatives — all of whom recognize that sometimes we must put aside our labels to do what’s right for the nation that we love.

We cannot afford to remain divded as a country.  As Benjamin Franklin famously said on the eve of revolution, “We will either hang together, or we will most surely hang separately.”

The time is now.  Please act today.

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