Book Review:"How To Find a Woman...OR Maybe Not"-TV Review-NBC's-"The Marriage Ref"

We’ve got a book review on an author’s first non-fiction offering and it’s a mixed bag.

For Gary Morgenstein’s “How To Find a Woman…Or Not” is about the funniest thing I’ve read this year even though the man is wrong about so much.

The book is rated at least an “R”, maybe an “X”, but mature adults should enjoy it for the humor and men might even find a bit of truth in it.

Here’s a TV review of NBC’s newest offering, “The Marriage Ref”. It’s a reality comedy series, fresh, funny, a bit over the top perhaps. This show’s success rides on the guest judges and choice of marital couples in dispute but so far Jerry Seinfeld’s got it spot on.

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”How To Find a Woman…Or Not” by Gary Morgenstein

Amazon code for this book.

Amazon’s list of Morgenstein books.

I’d reviewed two other fiction books by Gary Morgenstein. When he approached me about his most recent non-fiction book I jumped at the chance. I prefer reviewing non-fiction books at this point in my life and Gary Morgenstein’s two prior fiction books that I reviewed proved him to be a fine writer. The thought of reviewing a fiction book by him gave me joy.

The former Morgenstein’s fiction reviews include:”Jesse’s Girl” and ”Take Me Out To the Ball Game”.

It would be a gross understatement to softly suggest that this non-fiction effort by Morgenstein is as far from his fiction works as Obama is to common sense.

First, let’s establish right now that Morgenstein is an excellent writer. I’m a writer but more than that, I’m a reader of the highest order. His fiction books are well-written and fast-paced, the words making a movie in the reader’s mind.

Non-fiction books do not lend well to shady characters, sudden and surprising turns of plot and unexpected endings.

Still and so, to my surprise, Morgenstein writes an extremely humorous book on this topic. There were few hints to the well-toned sense of humor this author possesses in his fiction efforts and it was a pleasant turn of events.

Gary Morgenstein takes to first person for this quasi self-help advice book. He uses his own experiences as a middle-aged divorced guy seeking female companionship to present his methods and lessons learned or to be learned for other fellows too seeking a female significant other in the treacherous world of dating.

The funny stories, the tongue-in-cheek, the sudden and vibrant truth in the midst of it all, make this a most delightful read. In one chapter Morgenstein might advise the reader on blind dates. He might move on to his own blind date experiences then to situations to avoid on to ending a chapter with a section he calls “Suggested Study Guide Questions”. Throughout the book Morgenstein inserts what he calls his “Morgy Rules”, little snippets of wisdom that might well advise to avoid females with rodent-type pets at all costs on to his list of online dating rules.

Yes there’s plenty of sex in the book, be advised. This is not a book to be leaving for your adolescent son to peruse.

But what kind of dating book would it be if it didn’t deal with that tricky matter of sex and dating/when to have it/how to lead up/how to consummate/what to do when it’s over?

I’d recommend this book for anyone looking for a good read filled with plenty of humor, smiles, even a bittersweet grin or two. Yes I’d recommend it for fellows looking to…well meet a woman.

For at this point I must take some exception to Morgenstein’s advice and I ponder what position am I playing at this point in the review…a book reviewer, someone who considers herself a sort of friend of Gary Morgenstein, or just a female around Morgenstein’s age in general?

Because if I were to debate Morgenstein on many of his rules on women, his generalties and knee-jerk explanation of female behavior…I’d be rebutting the author all night and part of the next day.

While Morgenstein is close to the truth at many points, I say emphatically, GARY MORGENSTEIN IS NOT A WOMAN! Half the time he don’t know what the hell he’s talking about.

So hey, females, get this book and read it yourself. You’ll be screaming and railing at the gods that ain’t this just like a man, to assume something so damn wrong about women as to be the stuff of mockery.

Want an example? How about when he justifies an experience with a prostitute (a chapter Morgenstein could have left out of the book completely as a)it had not much to do with the book’s subject matter and b)it was really gross) to female readers by asserting that wouldn’t we women all love to have a bedroom session with George Clooney?

Is this author out of his loving mind? Women might like to dream or fantasize about a sexy tryst with Mr. Clooney but most females of maturity wouldn’t have this man on a damn dime. He’s vapid, shallow, probably disease-ridden and his bed probably couldn’t hold much more than Clooney and his ego.

It’s how a man thinks women think is what I’m saying here.

To wrap it up, I have issues with Morgenstein’s assessment of the females in his surround but I’ve no doubt that his summaries, analyses, and opinions represent 95% of male thinking about women.

This, I’d offer without a whole lot of passion, makes him somewhat of an expert. For the most part, however Morgenstein might wrongly assess female thought behind actions, he does almost always get it right on with the appropriate male reaction, how to do it, when to do it…always with a smile, laugh or even a great big guffaw.

Read it. Women, give him hell when he’s off the mark. Fellows, mind what he writes. Sure he thinks like a man thinks women think but his thinking is right on with how most men think women think.

Unravel that sentence I dare you.

I recommend this book highly, despite my objections. It’s a riot on so many levels.

”The Marriage Ref”-A Seinfield Triumph

I liked NBC’s new Thursday night offering so much that I decided to post a Blog review about it.

Read by two to three people every day, it’s not like my Blog review will have much effect on anybody’s opinion but I felt strongly about it.

Before I could gather my wits I read a review in the Washington Post about this show and that newspaper lambasted this show.

Well just damn. Why, I wondered.

NBC’s Web site for this series.

I thought it hilarious but I’ll allow as there has there’s a formula to making this sort of thing work. Seinfeld and the creators of this series got it perfectly. Jerry Seinfeld is, if nothing else, a master of comedic timing, more so, I’d argue, than the reviewers at the Washington Post. What a bunch of tight-assed wussies they must be.

Okay, let us begin with the host, one Tom Papa:
Tom Papa was personally chosen by Jerry Seinfeld to serve as host of NBC's "The Marriage Ref," and has toured with him for the past eight years. As a seasoned stand-up comedian, Papa has starred in two stand-up specials on Comedy Central, and his next special, due out later this year, is directed by Steven Soderbergh. A familiar face to late night television, Papa has more than ten appearances on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and is also a frequent guest on "Late Night with Conan O’Brien" and "Late Show with David Letterman."

As an actor, Papa starred opposite Matt Damon in the Soderbergh film, "The Informant," and opposite Paul Giamatti in the animated feature, "The Haunted World of El Super Beasto," as the voice of the title character. He had a voiceover role on the DreamWorks animated feature "Bee Movie" and also served as a writer on the project. Among his other big screen credits are the films "Analyze That" opposite Robert DeNiro, and "Comedian."

On television last year, Papa had a recurring role opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus on the CBS series, "The New Adventures of Old Christine."

I watched that “Old Christine” show one time and wasn’t overly impressed. I don’t watch the late nite Leno’s et all. I don’t go to live comedy shows and rarely watch Comedy Central. In short, I don’t know who the hell Tom Papa is and have never seen him perform.

Tom Papa holds the title role for this series. He is…TADA…”The Marriage Ref”.

Now I don’t know what qualifications Papa holds to make him the goto guy for couple disputes except that he is quick-witted, funny and seems to possess a common sense that guides him in choosing the winner member of a disputing couple on the show.

I did chance to see Papa interviewed on Fox & Friends one morning last week and right there is a sign of an up and coming show. If something seems to be about to soar over the pop culture horizon you can believe ole Fox & Friends will be on it.

Papa said, quite truthfully but with a healthy dose of mirth, that “The Marriage Ref” is not the place to go if your marriage is in serious trouble.

And it’s not.

The way it works, every week there are three folks who are guest “ref assistants”. They are folks, famous ones and well-chosen so far, who offer their opinions, and votes, on who’s right and who’s wrong on the featured marital disputes.

Madonna? Martha Stewart?

Yes, these two rather dispirate ladies in terms of personalities and lifestyles were featured marital judges on the show. Also guest judges were “Desperate Housewife” Eva Longoria, Jerry Seinfeld himself, and, oddly, Cedric the Entertainer.

The guest judges change every week but so far the trio of judges featured on each of the two shows I’ve watched were matched perfectly and the combination of personalities of the assistant judges chosen has so far worked well.

Each show features three to four couples, each having a marital dispute that requires, well, a Marriage Ref.

Here’s the key.

If true to Marriage Ref’s Papa’s assertion that this not the stuff of marital seriousness and sadness, the couples chosen and their attendant problem are not culled from the darker sides from the offices of relationship Psychologists.

The couples used on the show are great choices, males and females that relate with a sense of humor growing from quirky personalities.

You’ll not likely encounter marital woes stemming from excessive drinking or infidelity. The notion is that the ersatz Marriage Ref is the fellow dealing with those rather silly and shallow problems that happily married couples regularly encounter. Divorce is seldom in the horizon over a dispute that has the female of the couple not allowing use of the dining room table as the male side of the duo grouses how incredibly stupid this concept is.

The females on the trio of assistant judges, in this case Eva Longoria, agree completely with the banning of use of the dining room table because women, they understand this stuff. Dining room tables are meant to be a calm place where normal household clutter is banished, an oasis of a room that often will have pretty plate settings always upon, a place the harried female half of the couple can retreat to for reminder that this how the entire house really ought to be. So she doesn’t allow his newspapers and other frou-frou to be piled on the table and maybe the husband doesn’t get this, maybe a relationship Psychologist would dig deeply into a woman’s childhood turmoil and obsession with dining room tables, and again, maybe you hadda be there.

Papa listens to the suggestions of his triumverate of guest judges and again, you gotta have the right sort of folks on the panel. The Marriage Ref then makes the judgement and announces the winning half of the company as regards the dispute then upon.

The couples as chosen are good, they’re really good. These are folks who are passionate about their side of the dispute, however shallow it might be, but they’ve got a sense of humor about it. You’re not going to see wives who succomb to days of silence at disputes or husbands who throw things in rage.

These are couples who have identified a serendipitous, quirky and sort of silly area of marital dispute and have decided to seek an impartial judge on the matter.

The show has featured a woman who bought her husband a “doityourself” porch addition kit and can’t understand why he can’t, boom, just build the porch already. “This is something men should be able to do,” she complains. A couple of women on the judge panel agree as do I. There are some things men should be expected to do. Dealing with mice is one thing. I’d be filing divorce papers on any man who didn’t immediately deal with a mouse in the house although with four cats about this is seldom a problem.

Still, there’s principles involved here.

Another older couple were embroiled in a debate on whether to move to her beloved Los Angeles at their mutual retirement or to some remote area of Ohio populated mostly by the Amish and their buggies. It’s the outrageous differences in the chosen retirement havens in this marital dispute that bring the laughter as well as the humor in the couple dealing with it.

I like this show and think that Seinfeld has a winner here.

If looking for a reality show with some great laughs, ordinary people giving a glimpse into the sort of stuff that goes on in marriages across the fruited plains, accented by a group of celebrities that gel quite well in their entertainment duties….check out NBC’s “The Marriage Ref”, currently on Thursday nights at 10pm.
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