Laurel & Hardy on NBC’s “This Is Your Life” (Dec. 1, 1954)

The following is my entry in The Laurel & Hardy Blogathon, being hosted at this blog from March 1-3, 2019. Click on the image above, and read bloggers’ takes on some of the wonderful film comedies from these two terrific comics!

thisisyourlife

Like nearly everything Laurel & Hardy did on film, their 1954 live appearance on Ralph Edwards’ NBC celebrity-bio series “This Is Your Life” is worth seeing at least once — but in this case, probably not much more than once. Even their final Hollywood films offered L&H more to do than sit like stooges in somebody else’s scheme, which is pretty much what “This Is Your Life” did.

For those unfamiliar with this sentimental hooey, “This Is Your Life’s” premise was that each week, some unsuspecting celebrity would be dragged onto live TV and have his or her life story condescendingly recalled to him by host Ralph Edwards, who would also parade the celebrity’s friends or associates on stage to briefly regale the audience with all-too-well rehearsed anecdotes. (Buster Keaton was another comedy legend subjected to this process at one point.) The “TIYL” format is shown in full, naked flower here, as director Leo McCarey stammeringly tried to tell how L&H were made a team, and one-time co-star Vivian Blaine told a story that had nothing to do with her co-starring role in L&H’s Jitterbugs.

Stan Laurel later recounted his disgust with the whole enterprise, and it shows on camera — while always smiling and polite, he never utters one word more than he has to. By contrast, the show reunited Oliver Hardy with his childhood sweetheart, and Hardy is shown trying to have a private conversation with his old acquaintance, oblivious of Edwards’ rush to continue the show (which was running late due to Stan’s reluctance to show up at all, causing Edwards to ad-lib uncomfortably for the first few minutes of the broadcast).

The L&H segment of “This Is Your Life” stands, like their final big-studio films, as another prime example of Hollywood’s willingness to capitalize on The Boys’ famous personas without any concern as to whether L&H were shown in their best light.

If you dare to watch the segment, it’s embedded below:

THE LAUREL & HARDY BLOGATHON is here!

It’s time for another nice blogathon mess! Join us this weekend as we celebrate the wonderful work of these two timeless movie comics.

If you are one of the ‘thon participants, please leave your blog’s name and the URL of your ‘thon entry in the “Comments” section below, and I will provide a link to it here ASAP. If you’re simply here for some fun reading, the entry list (below) will be updated regularly throughout the ‘thon. I will also provide daily updates to same on my blog. Enjoy, all!

(To all blogathon entrants: At blogathon’s end, I will put all of your names into a hat [no, scratch that, a Laurel & Hardy-like derby]. The winning name will receive a slightly used copy of English professor Charles Barr’s 1967 book Laurel & Hardy [cover shown above], an academic study of their movie work that ranks as one of my favorite Laurel & Hardy biographies. (If you’re not familiar with the book, I have reviewed it here at my previous blog.)

(NOTE: This offer applies only to entrants who reside within the United States. Seriously. Nothing xenophobic intended, I just don’t have the money for transcontinental postage.)

Here is the list of participants. Click on the individual movie names to link to the blogathon entries. 

Movie Movie Blog Blog II – Laurel & Hardy’s appearance on NBC’s “This Is Your Life”

Laurel & Hardy Blog – Atoll K

The Laurel & Hardy Blog – Early to Bed and You’re Darn Tootin’

Caftan Woman – Hog Wild

The Scribe Files – Audio Laurel & Hardy

Movies Silently – Putting Pants on Philip

Queerly Different – Stan & Ollie (2018)

POSTSCRIPT: While I have your attention, please allow me a couple of shameless personal plugs.

First off, this blog is a “sequel” because I got locked out of my first blog. Nevertheless, it is still available for reading, and it has reviews of all of Laurel & Hardy’s “team” movies. Just go to the white-boxed search engine in the upper right side of your screen, type in the title of a L&H movie, and read the review! My first blog is at:

https://moviemovieblogblog.wordpress.com/

Secondly, last year, I created a podcast which also offers my reviews of L&H’s movies as well as sundry other L&H-related minutia. Click on the banner below to visit it, and listen away!

5 reasons why I never watch the annual Oscar ceremony

Rick McKee / Augusta Chronicle

A lot of people sure do get worked up about the Oscars, and I’m sure The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences wishes those people would watch their Academy Award telecast. Unfortunately, no matter what that group throws at our TV screens, their awards show sinks deeper and deeper in the ratings each year.

I used to be as gaga over that show as anyone, but in the past couple of decades, I’ve watched that show all the way through only once. (Happily, that was in 2017, when the show ended with the big Warren Beatty-Faye Dunaway wrong-winner fiasco.) Other than that, I haven’t even watched portions of the telecast in years. Not that anybody asked, but here’s why I extend a personal boycott to the show.

  1. I almost never go to the movies anymore. I don’t even watch current movies when they end up on pay-per-view a few months later. Before I saw Stan & Ollie last month, the last new movie I went out to see was The World’s End in 2013. So I obviously am not in any position to say which movies should win any awards.
  2. It used to be that just watching Hollywood’s finest get all glammed up for one night was reason enough to watch the show. Now that the show’s ratings have fallen, the Academy keeps putting the cart before the horse. They’ve forgotten about the glamour of the event and keep trying to come up with gimmicks for watching the show that stick out like sore thumbs in viewers’ eyes.
  3. Even when famous stars such as Jimmy Stewart got older and older, they still had enough charisma to draw viewers in. Nowadays, even the show’s hosts (remember Johnny Carson?) don’t inspire the awe they used to. (The Academy seems to be acknowledging that with this year’s show, which is host-less.)
  4. As ever, the Academy’s voting criteria seems to be prestige rather than the actual quality of a given movie. Everyone has his or her famous gripes about this. Which 1952 movie would you rather watch — Singin’ in the Rain, or Best Picture Oscar winner The Greatest Show on Earth? (My own touchstone is 1982, when the hugely entertaining successes Tootsie and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial lost Best Picture to the well-meaning but never-ending Gandhi.)
  5. Once you’ve figured out the magician’s tricks, you’re not as enamored of his acts anymore. The gloss started wearing off the Oscars for me when I started reading about the origins of the awards show. Legendary M-G-M boss Louis B. Mayer founded the Motion Picture Academy and its Oscars in 1928, and here is Mayer’s matter-of-fact statement as to why he created them:

I found that the best way to handle [filmmakers] was to hang medals all over them. […] If I got them cups and awards, they’d kill themselves to produce what I wanted. That’s why the Academy Award was created.

Back in 1978, Woody Allen avoided the Oscar ceremony altogether, even as his comedy film Annie Hall was sweeping the Oscars (including Best Picture) that year. Here is his equally down-to-earth statement about why he ignored them:

I think what you get in awards is favoritism. I mean, people can say, “My favorite movie was Annie Hall.” But the implication is that it’s the best movie, and I don’t think you can make that judgment. Except for track — track and field — where one guy runs and you see that he wins, then it’s okay. I won those when I was younger, and those were nice because I knew I deserved them.

Back then, I thought Allen was being a snob about the whole thing, rather than acknowledging that his peers thought he did good work. Nowadays, I tend to agree with him.

The Mt. Rushmore of cinematic bosoms

The following is my entry in the Mount Rushmore of Movies Blogathon, being hosted by m.brown at the blog Two Dollar Cinema on March 1, 2019. Click on the image above to read bloggers’ takes on their favorite cinematic foursomes, be they actors, actresses, or inanimate objects!

(WARNING: This blog entry is all about the breasts. If you are offended by such expression, seek shelter elsewhere!)

I hit puberty smack dab in the middle of the 1970’s, or should I say it hit me…hard. The ’70s — as you’ll recall, if you were there — used sex to sell almost anything, so there was no way to avoid being bombarded by bosomy images everywhere. As I have always been a pop-culture nut, the images I absorbed from movies and television have stuck with me the longest.

On that basis, I decided to make my blogathon entry about actresses whose outsized bosoms have made the longest-lasting impressions on me. Some people are bound to quibble that some of their favorite famous busty celebrities — Sophia Loren, Raquel Welch, et al — are not represented here. I certainly have nothing against those women’s memorable physiques. But as I could only choose four (or eight?) for this blogathon, I chose those whose imagery has stuck with me over the decades.

I’d like to note at the outset that I regard all of these woman as talented as they are physically attractive. All of their filmographies and TV work include some very good performances. But if these women wanted to be remembered as much for their bodies of work as for their, er, bodies, some brassieres might have helped.

Jane Russell. I was unaware of Jane until I came across a photo of her in a lavish coffee-table book titled, simply, The Movies. The photo was taken from Jane’s 1955 movie The French Line (also shown above), and it showed Jane wearing only a barely-there bathing suit and a s**t-eating grin. I’ve been mesmerized with her ever since.

Jayne Mansfield. I don’t remember how or when I first came across Jayne, but it was probably similar to the way I came across the Jane listed above. In any case, she starred in two very funny comedies directed by Frank Tashlin, The Girl Can’t Help It (1956) and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957). I don’t care for any of the movies Jayne made after those, but considering that you can hardly find a photo or film clip of her where she’s not wearing a tighter-than-tight gown or dress, you can’t help but conclude that Jayne was willing to exploit herself as much as anyone else was.

(Honorable mention must certainly be given to Jayne’s daughter, “Law & Order: SVU” actress Mariska Hargitay — who, while not as exhibitionistic as her late mother, is certainly eye-catching in her own right.)

Valerie Perrine. Like Jayne Mansfield in her own way, Valerie’s movie career started out strong (she was nominated for an Academy Award for her work in Lenny), but eventually, she seemed to turn into a parody of herself. Valerie actually began her career as a Vegas showgirl, and from then on, she seemed to have no qualms about showing off her astounding body to anyone who wanted to look, even giving a frank interview to Playboy magazine in 1981 in which she admitted as much. “T**s and a**?” she said. “Everybody shows t**s and a**! National Geographic — t**s and a**!” So if she wasn’t hesitant about showing herself off, I wasn’t hesitant about looking.

Adrienne Barbeau. If I really could create my own artistic mountain, Adrienne would be the only actress inhabiting it. I started watching “Maude” (the 1972-78 sitcom in which she co-starred as Bea Arthur’s feminist daughter) when it first aired, so I can truthfully say that I never watched it just for Adrienne alone.

In fact, I honestly didn’t notice Adrienne’s immense chest until an issue of MAD magazine made reference to it. After that, I studied Adrienne just a little more closely.

The really amazing thing — at least, if you believe Adrienne’s own account of it in her memoir — was that she was quite willing to let her hefty chest bounce all over America’s TV screens, and yet it apparently never occurred to her how that image would affect millions of male TV viewers. According to Adrienne, it took her second husband to point out to her that whenever she was making an entrance on the show, the cameramen took great pains to focus on her bosom as she was, say, walking down a staircase. If that was truly the case, Adrienne was quite the combination of radical feminist and naive starlet. And her fans have enjoyed that ironic combination for nearly 50 years.

Only one week until THE LAUREL & HARDY BLOGATHON!

It’s only one week until our Laurel & Hardy Blogathon! If you are a fan of Stan and Ollie and want to pay tribute to them, you’ll never get a better chance than this one. When the blogathon is finished, we’ll conduct a random drawing of all the blogathon’s contestants, and the winner will receive* a free copy of Charles Barr’s terrific 1967 study of their work, the insightful book Laurel & Hardy. Click here to find out the rules for the blogathon.

*When you go to the hyperlink above, be sure to read the special notes about the blogathon’s prize winner.

TROUBLE IN PARADISE (1989) – Raquel Welch, not Lubitsch

The following is my entry in The So Bad It’s Good Blogathon, being hosted by Rebecca at the blog Taking Up Room from Feb. 22-24, 2019. Click on the above banner, and read bloggers’ takes on terrible movies whose very lack of quality makes them entertaining!

(WARNING: Major spoilers abound, if you care.)

In reviewing Rich and Famous (1981), the late film critic Pauline Kael described the movie’s stars, Candice Bergen and Jacqueline Bisset, as “great underpopulated bodies.” To make it a trashy triumvirate, I would add Raquel Welch, who always looks smashing but is unable to convincingly convey any emotion beyond snarkiness.

At the time of the initial broadcast of Trouble in Paradise on CBS in May of 1989, Welch did an interview with the Chicago Tribune in which she tried to promote the TV-movie as a substantial romantic film, stating, “I won’t play a role where I’m used as just window dressing.” You’d never guess it from this movie, whose makers obviously knew where their bread and butter lay. There are long, luxurious shots of Welch in the skimpiest of lingerie. There’s even a shot where the camera shows her from behind while she’s undressing, exposing the teasingest little bit of sideboob.

But hey, no window dressing here!

So much for the movie’s primary appeal — let’s get to the plot. Welch plays Rachel Baxley, the newly widowed wife of a U.S. diplomat who was recently murdered under mysterious circumstances.

After the diplomat’s funeral (on which the movie opens), Rachel intends to accompany the body back to San Francisco. In a bit of expository dialogue that sticks out like a sore thumb, Rachel declares that she cannot abide by flying. So she decides to go to Frisco via the cargo ship that is carrying her husband’s casket — a ship that has the barest of a crew and does not usually carry visitors. (“The Love Boat” it ain’t.) While getting aboard the ship, Rachel encounters one of the crew members — Jake (Breaker Morant’s Jack Thompson), a hard-drinking, macho sailor — who tries to impress Rachel with his courtliness and gets only her withering disdain in return.

Unfortunately, the ship encounters a violent storm and eventually crashes and sinks near a deserted island. No points for guessing who the only two survivors are.

The movie’s only attempt at plausibility is a sinister subplot that doesn’t figure hugely in the movie until its last 10 minutes, so let’s concentrate on the movie’s silliness. Even after they’ve come to onshore after the shipwreck, Rachel and Jake never look less than perfectly coiffed. Spoiled brat Rachel is eager to return to civilization. But Jake is content to spend the rest of his life on the island, pointing out to Rachel that the island has everything they need to survive comfortably — including, apparently, an entire make-up crew.

(And, even given Jake’s roguishness, he’s surprisingly nonchalant about having seen his fellow shipmates perish in front of him.)

It’s not giving much away to state that this initially combative duo will eventually find common romantic ground, but the path to them getting there sure is painful to watch. Thompson plays drunkard Jake as though he was Humphrey Bogart’s understudy in The African Queen, while Welch plays the simplest light-comedy scenes as though the island had inadvertently planted a stick up her well-toned posterior.

A final debit worth noting is Chris Neal’s score, which plays mostly like Jimmy Buffett outtakes.

So in summation, the movie’s virtues amount to a few lovely shots of island scenery, and loving shots of Welch’s famous physique. Oh, I forgot to mention — a dog named Sid plays Jake’s island mascot, Mr. Mutt, and gives what is probably the best performance in the movie.

Here’s CBS’ original teaser for the movie:


Buster Keaton and Lucille Ball – Together on TV in 1965

The following is my second of two contributions to The Fifth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon, being hosted by the lovely Lea at Silent-ology on Feb. 18 & 19, 2019. Click on the above image, and read bloggers’ takes on the life and career of this silent-film comedy master!

(Above is one of several lovely paintings that artist Julia Hutchinson has contributed to this blogathon. Check out more of her colorful artwork at www.juliahut.com.)

As is well-documented elsewhere, Buster Keaton, who had been a huge money-maker for M-G-M studios in the early 1930’s, had his personal life upended through various circumstances. By the 1940’s, he was back at M-G-M, but only as a generic gag writer at $100 a week.

Between gag-writing calls, Keaton holed up in the office of Edward Sedgwick (above, far right), Keaton’s former M-G-M director who was now similarly regarded as “incurably old-fashioned.” Joining them was supporting actress and ingenue Lucille Ball, whom the studio regarded as “washed up” at the time.

Under Keaton’s mechanical guidance, the trio created elaborate, Rube Goldberg-like contraptions to perform simple activities. Their most notorious creation was a machine to raise the window blinds in Sedgwick’s office. Not only did it raise the blinds, but at the end of its mission, it played “Hail to the Chief” while a photo of M-G-M head Louis B. Mayer shot up from behind the sofa. The humorless Mayer finally came to see the machine in action and then ordered it dismantled the next day.

Two decades later, things had changed immensely. By then, Ball had achieved TV immortality with “I Love Lucy” and was in the midst of starring in its top-10-rated follow-up, “The Lucy Show.” Sedgwick had died in 1953 after only a few sparse directorial jobs (one of them being an episode of “I Love Lucy” shortly before his passing). But by this time, Keaton’s career had a memorable third act; he had found voluminous TV and movie work, and his silent film classics had been reissued, to the joy of a new generation of fans.

When Keaton’s friend and comedy peer Stan Laurel died in February of 1965, another friend of Laurel’s, a professional photographer named Gene Lester, got the idea of presenting a TV tribute to Laurel. When Dick Van Dyke — yet another friend of Laurel’s who, like Ball, was currently starring in a legendary sitcom — agreed to host the show, the idea took off — and then eventually crashed, for all of America to see.

CBS aired “A Salute to Stan Laurel” on Nov. 23, 1965. Unfortunately, by the time it got to the airwaves, Lester’s modestly intended tribute to Laurel & Hardy fans had transmogrified to an all-star variety special that had slightly less to do with Stan Laurel than I did. A great number of celebrities were commandeered into performing on the show (much to the later regret of many of them). Two of those stars were Buster Keaton and Lucille Ball.

The entire special is available for viewing elsewhere on the Internet, but if you can make it through the whole thing, you have a stronger constitution than I have. Happily, Keaton and Ball’s sketch, on its own terms, is an enjoyable little gem of pantomime.

The sketch appears to be a version of a routine that Buster performed with his wife Eleanor on previous TV appearances. (Brief clips of Eleanor doing the sketch with Buster can be found in the marvelous documentary Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow.)

Some other trivia regarding the sketch: Harvey Korman, famed second banana for Danny Kaye, Carol Burnett, and Mel Brooks, plays the irate cop. And the unfolding-newspaper gag is taken from the first solo movie that Keaton ever filmed, The High Sign (1921).

Here is the sketch for you to enjoy (introduced by Van Dyke).

Sources:

Keaton (book), Rudi Blesh. 1967, Secker & Warburg, London.

News from ME (blog), Mark Evanier. 2017, https://www.newsfromme.com/2017/06/26/todays-video-link-2510/

(If you enjoyed this blogathon entry, click here to read my first entry, my review of Keaton’s feature film Seven Chances.)

Buster Keaton in SEVEN CHANCES (1925) – Funny in spite of itself

The following is my first of two entries in The Fifth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon, being hosted by the lovely Lea at Silent-ology on Feb. 18-19, 2019. Click on the above banner, and read bloggers’ takes on the life and career of this silent-film comedy master!

(Above is one of several lovely paintings that artist Julia Hutchinson has contributed to this blogathon. Check out more of her colorful artwork at www.juliahut.com.)

(WARNING: Major spoilers abound!)

Based on a popular Broadway play, Buster Keaton had Seven Chances foisted upon him by his brother-in-law and producer Joe Schenck. Keaton never liked farce, and he always regarded Seven Chances as the worst of his 1920’s movies. But there are far unfunnier things in the world than Seven Chances.

For one thing, Keaton, who usually worked in a vacuum where getting laughs was concerned, here had a couple of co-stars who were amusing in their own right. The story is that rich man Jimmy Shannon (Keaton) is facing financial ruin, and he and his partner (T. Roy Barnes) are doing their best to evade a lawyer (Snitz Edwards) who is stalking them. The lawyer finally tracks them down and gives them the great news that Jimmy is to inherit $7 million from a late relative. But there’s a catch: Jimmy must be married by 7:00 p.m. on his twenty-seventh birthday – which, it happens, is that very day – or he must forfeit the inheritance.

Barnes and Edwards are perfect matches for Keaton comedically. In particular, Edwards, a prune-faced silent-movie veteran, adds much laughter to the proceedings. Also, the movie’s laughs rely on title cards far more than in any other Keaton movie, but funny they are. At one point, Jimmy has inquired with numerous women at his country club, and all of them have turned down his abrupt marriage proposal. Jimmy turns to his partner and (via inter-title) asks, “Who bats next?”

Keaton also adds some interesting directorial touches. When Jimmy drives to his potential fiancee’s house and then drives back home defeated, we never actually see him driving the car; instead, the movie fades from Jimmy’s car sitting in his own driveway to showing the car sitting in front of the girl’s house, and then back again. Seen in retrospect, Keaton might have conjured up this bit of editing due to his boredom with the rest of the movie; nevertheless, it makes for an interesting, attention-getting visual.

The movie’s one unfortunate aspect is the “laughs” that it derives at the expense of African-Americans. To give just two examples: Jimmy is walking down the street when he sees a potential “bride” walking ahead of him. He catches up with her and starts to chat with her, but then he sees that she is black and quickly jaunts ahead of her. Also, there is a black man who is given a message by Jimmy’s erstwhile girlfriend Mary and is told to rush the message to Jimmy; the movie keeps cutting back to the man to show him leisurely sauntering to Jimmy on a horse, Stepin Fetchit-style. There is the lame excuse that such “black humor” was the norm in the ’20s, but it does nothing to endear Keaton to African-Americans today.

The movie’s famous climax shows hundreds of Amazonian brides giving chase to Jimmy through the city streets. The climax is part of Keaton folklore, in that the never-ending chase was a dud until it got Keaton some unexpected laughs from a preview. Keaton and his crew re-ran the movie and noticed Jimmy getting “chased” by some pebbles as he runs downhill. Keaton ordered 1,500 papier-mache boulders of various sizes to be built and then re-filmed the ending with Jimmy dodging the various rocks. Seen today, the chase is funny enough on its own, but the boulders certainly punch up the joke. (George Lucas later paid homage to this scene in Star Wars – Episode I, when inept Jar-Jar Binks dislodges some lethal orbs from a cart and then runs away in fear of them.)

If nothing else, Seven Chances shows that Keaton could take even generic Broadway material and stamp it with his personal style. For simply mining laughs, it stands as one of Keaton’s funniest movies.

Bachelor

(Footnote: In one of the worst ideas in the history of cinema, Seven Chances was remade three-quarters of a century later as The Bachelor [1999], starring Chris O’Donnell as the rich boy, Renee Zellweger as the jilted girlfriend, and Hal Holbrook as the rich man’s lawyer trying to pimp his own daughter to the potential millionaire. It only proved that nobody could do Keaton’s kind of material but Keaton.)

(If you enjoyed this blogathon entry, click here to read my second entry, about Keaton and Lucille Ball appearing together on TV in 1965.)

For Valentine’s Day – How my wife and I got together

This week, I will be celebrating my 30th Valentine’s Day with my beloved, Kathy. (One month from tomorrow, we’ll be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary.)

I’m always saddened to hear about someone’s divorce, whatever reason there might be for it. So I thought I would repeat an entry I posted on my previous blog for Valentine’s Day two years ago — not to boast about my long marriage, but simply to show that it can be done, and under positive circumstances.

This is the story of how Kathleen Feindt — publisher and editor of Jacksonville Beach, FL’s weekly newspaper The Beaches Leader — became my wife. It’s a story I’ve been dining out on for decades, because it isn’t every “How we met” story that has two endings.

In July of 1988, a friend of mine called to tell me that Mandarin News — the now-defunct Jacksonville/Mandarin branch of the Leader — had a want ad for a reporter. I needed a job and, having some writing (and extremely minor journalistic) experience, I applied.

Kathy was then the editor of Mandarin News, so I interviewed with her. For the interview, I wore a red tie and a salt-and-pepper dress jacket (a la Barney Fife). For some reason, that made an impression on Kathy.

Later that day, Tom Wood (long-time Leader publisher) asked Kathy how the reporter job search was going. Kathy told Tom about me, going on about my wardrobe and demeanor in great detail. Tom said, “You know, Kathy, you’re interviewing for a reporter, not a husband.”

Kathy did not hire me, as I was living in Orange Park and she preferred to have a reporter who lived in the Mandarin area. However, she kept me on as a free-lance feature writer, to review local theater productions and such. For months, our brief phone conversations went like this:

“Steve, I have tickets for two to the latest production at the local dinner theater. You can review the show and, er, also bring a friend or a date if you’d like.”

“That’s great. I hope I can find somebody to go with me.”

Then one Thursday, I was dropping off a column at Kathy’s office. Kathy usually wasn’t in on Thursdays, but she happened to be in that day. I forget what we talked about, but the conversation was so intriguing, I found excuses to come back two more times to talk to her. When I got home, I took the coward’s way out, phoning Kathy and leaving a date request on her answering machine.

Long story short, three weeks later, I asked her to marry me — which she did, four months after that.

Now…I told you that story to tell you this one.

Kathy and I had both attended the University of Florida in 1981. One day shortly after our marriage, we were reminiscing about UF. Eventually, we realized we had worked together for about three months in UF’s journalism department.

We were polite to each other, but there were no sparks flying at the time. I thought she was too work-minded, and she thought I was too nerdy.

One Friday afternoon, Kathy told me that she and some friends were meeting that day at the Orange & Brew (UF’s on-campus pub), and would I like to join them? I said no because I had a class to attend. Kathy knew then and there, she had no interest in a man who would rather attend class than drink beer.

In March, Kathy and I will celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary. Years ago, Kathy asked me if I had any thoughts as to how we had lasted so long.

I immediately blurted out, “That’s easy. You’re too stubborn to ever admit you made a mistake.”

And I’m still quite happy for her stubbornness. Happy Valentine’s Day.