Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Late Great Andy Rooney

(Lakeland, FL) The world is a less curmudgeonly place today after the untimely death of Andy Rooney, 86, beloved syndicated columnist, CBS 60 Minutes commentator and former reporter for the Stars & Stripes. He died in his sleep while in the midst of an interview on Larry King Live. (Source: AP, i.e. "Argumentative Patti") At this time there are unconfirmed reports that Mr. King was also deceased at the time of the interview. Okay! Let me first be honest and point out that Andy Rooney the New York Giants fan is still alive, and grumbling about what a pain it is to get to the games. (Although they may have had to defibrillate him after his team failed to score in its playoff loss to the Carolina Panthers Sunday.) It is Andy Rooney the WRITER who has apparently hit the rim and bounced into the great Round File in the Sky. The yellow sticky note attached to his gravestone reads: Be right back, as soon as I think of something interesting to say!" Mr. Rooney has a terrific eye for minutia and a no-nonsense writing style. Problem is, the worse his trifocal prescription gets, the closer to his body his writing seems to gravitate. That is why we are now reading about: The piles on his desk! The contents of his pockets! The stubble on his face! I don't object to a writer taking on a small subject. A good one can make it anything but mundane. But for heaven's sake, if you're going to write about what's in your pockets or your junk drawer, at least make sure there's something interesting in there. I don't want to read about the color of your lint! More evidence that Mr. Rooney has passed away: Larry King was kind enough to mention one of Mr. Rooney's books, "Common Nonsense," and encouraged the public to buy it. Mr. Rooney let out a big guffaw and told us it was selling terribly. Whereupon I'm 100 percent certain his book publicist choked on her coffee. (Medical suggestion to the PublicAffairs Books marketing staff: Mr. Rooney could probably benefit from a coffee enema.) If some publisher wants to take on one of my books I promise if I get on national TV I will tell everyone it's a wonderful book and they should all buy it immediately. I may even have a portion of the profits donated to the Andy Rooney Memorial Fund for Giants Fans With Bad Seats. (Note to Larry King: I'm just wisecracking. Please don't hold that against me when scheduling for your show!) I also admit my attempt to have Mr. Rooney gossiped about in the past tense is a transparent ploy to grab the undivided attention of all four bystanders who have chanced by here. I am using Mr. Rooney's well-known name and magnificent Q-Score to promote my wholly obscure name and meaningless Z-Score. (Q-Score relates to celebrity popularity; Z-Score is an indicator I made up rating the likelihood of inducing sleep. As in, cranking Zzzzzzzs.) But I figure Mr. Rooney has annoyed me on at least three different levels: 1) His opinion on Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ." I think it's a spiritual masterpiece, whereas the very idea of it seems to bother him. He then picked a few of the looniest letters and emails of criticism to showcase in his column, when I'm sure he got plenty of cogent well-written ones, too. 2) His opinion that women should not be sideline football reporters. This from a man who admits he knows NOTHING about baseball. And who is old enough to have watched Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig play. I was irritated enough by this to mention it in my novel, "Buffalo Winged." 3) He hates St. Patrick's Day. What kind of pint-sized leprechaun of a grinch would say that? He's the scrooge of the Guinness world! Any person of Irish descent who is not fond of St. Patrick's Day should keep his pie-hole shut instead of sharing his grumpiness with the rest of the parade-loving, sodabread-baking, green facepaint-wearing public. Maybe he doesn't like it because it's an inclusive holiday that encourages everyone to be Irish on that day! In one column this year he claimed that he'd never met anyone with some of the most popular boys' and girls' names of today. That's because his grandchildren are probably senior citizens by now, for Ezekial's sake! Of course he doesn't bump into anyone of the school-age set. There are a lot of things I like about Mr. Rooney. I think he's a good citizen, patriotic American, loyal family man and Giants fan, frugal consumer, honorable human being, honest commentator and, yes, excellent writer. His style isn't flashy, but it's highly readable and addictive. There are days when I skim through most of the paper, but I read his columns from start to finish. Even if it's just to see how he's described the head of a pin he's been staring at too long. That's why he's a syndicated columnist, and a good one. Long live Andy Rooney! Patricia Reilly Panara is the author of "Buffalo Winged" and "Nobody Move!" and regular columnist for WNY Media Network and her tiny population of blog readers. Contact: 863-838-2117 Beefonweck.com and Beefonweck.blogspot.com

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