Tag: andy rooney

Andy Rooney On Masks

I wonder what Andy Rooney would have made of COVID-19 and the mask situation. I can imagine him at the end of 60 Minutes, sitting at his desk, holding a typical mask that people wear these days. I imagine him complaining about how uncomfortable the loops for the masks are around his ears. “People will call me ‘Ear-ny’ Rooney,” I imagine him saying. But who cares about how you look, he would say. Early in the day the masks aren’t too bad, but as the day wears on, the cloth of the mask gets caught on stubble and can be annoying and painful.

Why, Andy would wonder, do the masks come with those tags that pop out from between the two layers and tickle your cheek? Does anyone really look at those tags? What are they for? Andy would pull out the tag for all of us to see. The camera would pan in on the microscopic writing. “Made in China,” Andy would read. There are a lot of conspiracy theorists out there, Rooney would say, and I’ll bet some of them think COVID is marketing ploy by China to sell a lot of masks.

He would note that most people have to buy masks. They are not something that the government provides. Businesses, he would point out, are cashing in. He’d pick up a baby Yoda mask and frown at it.

Andy would turn his wrinkled, jowly face to the camera and say, “I’m old enough to where I can barely hear someone speak as it is. When sometime talks to me wearing one of these masks, they sound like the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoon, “Wah-wah, wuh, wah-wah.” It’s difficult to read the morning papers with my mask on because it is constantly fogging up my reading glasses, Andy would tell us.

I day-dreamed this imagined 60 Minutes segment as I drove the family on an unexpected trip down to Florida. In Virginia, where I live, everyone wears masks, they are required indoors, and people seem generally okay with it. I noticed more or less the same in North Carolina, and in the hotel we stayed at outside Savannah, Georgia. Florida has been a different matter. It’s been like stepping back in time a year or. so, when masks were for Halloween, and a global pandemic was the furthest thing from our minds. The people I’ve seen in the stores I’ve gone into aren’t wearing masks. The cashiers that work behind the counter aren’t wearing masks. In fact, you can more or less tell who is out of state and who is local by who is, and who is not, wearing a mask.

I’m not sure what the fuss on masks is all about. I wear a seatbelt even if I find them uncomfortable. I wear “nice clothes” on the holiday, even though I prefer shorts and a t-shirt. I thought it might be hard to breath with a mask on, but I breath fine. I imagine there are some who have difficulties with that. I’ve heard that there are people who believe that masks just don’t work in preventing the spread of the virus. That reminds me of a story about Neils Bohr.

Bohr was a renowned Danish physicist who studied the underlying quantum structure of the universe. He was a scientist, and rationalist, and by all accounts, brilliant. A visitor coming to his office one day found on his wall a horseshoe with the opening tilted up toward the ceiling to catch luck. “Surely, Dr. Bohr,” the visitor said, “you don’t actually believe that horseshoe will bring you luck?”

Bohr shook his head, “No, I don’t believe it,” he said, “But I am told it will bring me luck whether I believe it or not.

My imagined 60 Minutes segment ends with Andy Rooney telling us, “I’ve got a bunch of errands to do this weekend. I have to go to the hardware store to pick up some new washers. I’ve got stuff in the trunk of the car that I need to take to the dump. I need batteries for the flashlight.” At this point, Andy slips on his mask. “I’ll be doing all of these errands, wearing this ridiculous mask, despite its discomforts. I’ll wear because it will help protect you and me from COVID, whether we believe it or not.

R.I.P. Andy Rooney

I hate it when I check the news in the morning only to discover that someone I admire has passed away. It wasn’t like it was completely unexpected with Andy Rooney. He was 92 years old. The report that I read said he died of complications following minor surgery.

Most people I know think of Andy Rooney as a curmudgeonly TV personality who, for three minutes every Sunday, offered his opinion on all manner of things, big and small. But Rooney hated the fact that he was a celebrity. He always said he was a writer and that is how I see him. Over the years, I’ve read 5 of Andy Rooney’s books, enjoying them all.

The first book that I read of his in December 1999 was Sincerely, Andy Rooney, his collection of letters he’d written over the years. A few years later, I read his autobiographical book about World War II, My War, which I thought was particularly good. In late 2002 I read Common Nonsense and three years later read his collection of essays from 60 Minutes, Years of Minutes. The last book I read by Andy Rooney was his 2006 book, Out of My Mind. I purchased, but haven’t yet gotten around to reading his book, Andy Rooney: 60 Years of Wit and Wisdom.

Two things came across clearly in each of these books. First was Rooney’s ability to observer the obvious and see beyond what others might see. Second, of course, was his almost dead-pan humor. Reading these books was an exercise in controlling my laughter, while at the same time wondering to myself why I had never considered some of the obvious questions Rooney was asking.

He had his share of controversy, which he tackled head on. I might not agree with every opinion Rooney expressed over the years but I think that he was generally on the right track, asking the right questions, some of them, despite being masked by his sense of humor, difficult to face.

Rooney also had tenuous connections to the science fiction world. He and he wife were friends with Isaac and Janet Asimov.

Andy Rooney is one of those characters for which there won’t be a replacement. We might hear people say, “Oh he’s another Andy Rooney,” but the truth is there will never be another Andy Rooney. More than anything else, Rooney attempted to teach a very wide audience how to think critically, using everyday examples. He taught us that it was okay to question things, that nothing should be taken for granted.

Andy Rooney: Viewer Discretion Advised

Andy Rooney had a good piece on TV’s propensity for using “Viewer Discretion Advised” labels to attract attention to shows. Personally, I think TV should be able to show whatever it wants and people should have the option of tuning out what they don’t want to see. But, I am in the minority in that I am rational about the matter.

BTW, like Andy Rooney, I too follow a handful of the ten commandments, and I rarely use dirty words (except in my stories, where they tend to appear more frequently than I would like).

First full day in Albany

I was up at about 8 AM, showered and then spent the early part of the morning reading Foundation and Chaos. It was unusually mild out early today. I went with Eric to take Cali out for a walk after breakfast this morning and it felt almost humid.

I skimmed through the local paper during breakfast, the Albany Times Union. The opinions column had Andy Rooney’s column, which I don’t get in any of my local papers, and, as usual, I was hilarious. The column attribute included Andy Rooney’s email address, so I decided to sent him an email message, and this is what I wrote:

Mr. Rooney:

I’m writing to tell you how much I enjoyed your column, “A Staggered Life” in today’s Albany Times Union. I don’t ordinarily see your columns in print, but I’m up in Albany visiting friends this weekend, and I caught your column on the editorial page.

I’ve been an enthusiastic fan of everything I’ve read of yours which to-date includes “My War”, “Sincerely, Andy Rooney”, “Common Nonsense”, and most recently, “Years of Minutes”. I don’t watch a lot of television magazine programs, but if I happen to be near a TV at 7:55 on a Sunday night, I always tune in your segment on 60-Minutes.

I appreciate your candor, sense of humor, and skill as a writer. Most of all, I enjoy reading what you write.


Jamie Todd Rubin

Early this afternoon, Eric, Ryane and I headed to a local mall where I picked up a fitted Yankee hat (size 7) since my old had really needed replacing. We had lunch at Ruby Tuesday’s (where our buffalo wantans came out cold the first time) and then headed back to Eric and Ryane’s house to pick up Cali and take her to the local city park.

The park was pretty desolate, but it was still mild out, although heavily overcast. We walked around for a while and allowed Cali to chase a few squirils. After dropping Cali back off at home, we headed back out and dropped Ryane off at a bridal shower in Saratoga Springs. Then Eric and I headed to a sports bar in town and spent a few hours watching the Seahawks of Seattle pound the Redskins of Washington over several beers and mixed drinks.

On our way back home, after picking up Ryane from the shower, it started snowing pretty hard. Somehow, the conversation got turned to Harlan Ellison and Eric mentioned that Ellison lived a few houses up the street from his parents. I couldn’t believe it! I’ve been past his house several times and never even knew it! I always knew his house was up in the hills but now I know more or less the address of Ellison Wonderland, which just boggles my mind for some reason.

We decided to stay in for the evening and ordered pizza. We closed out the evening playing Scrabble (which I lost) and then Uno (in which I was blown away). I can’t seem to win any type of game whatsoever. Why is that, I wonder?

I’m heading to bed now, and as I look outside, the ground it white, and the snow is still coming down pretty hard. The winds have picked up too, and are blowing strong. Weather is saying 3-5 inches by morning. We’ve got a lot planned for tomorrow–including sledding, so we’ll see how the snow turns out.

I’m so pissed I forgot my camera!