Andy's 'Common Nonsense'

"Common Nonsense Addressed to the Reading Public on the Following Subjects: Food, Drink, Money, Sports, Politics, Religion, Education, The Arts, Home Life, Work Life, Health, Doctors, People, Travel, Progress" is the full title of Andy Rooney's latest book. He visits The Early Show on Monday to talk about it.

Read an excerpt:

"When I'm getting ready to go to the game, I pack my canvas bag with everything I'll need. It depends on the temperature and on other weather conditions. Last Sunday, it was 16 degrees and windy at Giants Stadium in the swampy area, euphemistically called "the meadowlands," of New Jersey. The announcer kept using that phony figure, the wind chill factor, to make it seem dramatically colder than it was. He said it was ten below zero.

I wore long johns and a thin but warm, long sleeved silk undershirt that I used to wear skiing. Over that I wore a good wool shirt, a windproof nylon shell and then my three-quarter length goose down coat.

In the bag I had big sheepskin mittens, a wool scarf and a sheet of some kind of thin, all-weather material that keeps heat in when you wrap yourself in it. I wore two pairs of socks, a wool cap and I carried two of those little packets of chemical hand-warmers in my pocket.

I nearly froze to death.

In my Thermos, I had a pint of good, hot chicken soup that Margie made out of chicken wings. At halftime I poured myself a cup of it and stood there, stomping my feet and drinking the steaming soup. The only down side was I had to take off one glove to hold the cup. The challenge of competing with the elements is good fun, but last Sunday, I lost.

My team, the New York Giants, have lost more games than they've won this year. People ask why I bother to watch a losing team play on a cold day. They don't understand. I go because I like football. If all you care about is winning, you aren't a real fan. There are thirty-two National Football League teams and only one of them can win the Super Bowl.

Losing is serious bad news for players and coaches but it's all soap opera to fans. A game, won or lost, does not have the slightest negative effect on us. That's why being a fan is a great diversion from the problems of real life."

Excerpted from "Common Nonsense" by Andy Rooney. Copyright© 2002 by Essay Productions, Inc. Excerpted by permission of PublicAffairs. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

And here is a sample of what you can expect from Rooney:

On Politics: "Everyone doesn't have a right to his opinion. The person who doesn't know what he's talking about does not have a right to his own opinion. It's why I'm never too much in favor of getting everyone out to vote on Election Day. Some people are too dumb or know too little about the issues and I hate to have one of them negating or canceling out the vote of someone who has bothered to inform him- or herself."

On Television: "There is too much junk on television because that's what a lot of people like to watch either because they are too young to know any better or because they have too little education and no taste."

On Making NBA Basketball Fairer: "A team should be limited to a maximum height of 370 inches for five players. This would be an average 6 feet 2 inches per player. If the Lakers played Shaquille O'Neal at 7 feet 2 inches, they would have to have a player 5 feet 2 inches or four players 5 feet 11 inches to make up for his height."

On Miss America:"I stopped watching the Miss America pageant years ago because it got to be a joke. Worst of all, a lot of the girls were bordering on being homely. There's nothing wrong with a girl who isn't drop-dead beautiful but if she isn't, she shouldn't parade around in a so-called beauty contest as though she was."

On Learning: "You meet a lot of dumb people who went to college."

On Santa Claus: "'No, Virginia,' I've often wanted to yell ... 'there is no Santa Claus! Whatever presents you get, you'll get because your parents worked for the money to buy them and sacrificed something they wanted for themselves so they could buy the toy for you. There was nothing magic about it, Virginia. Get used to it.'

"... There is no Santa Claus, Virginia, and you don't have a fairy godfather, either. The sooner you give up on the idea you can get something for nothing and learn to make it on your own, the better off you're going to be. Forget the fairy tales.

"Our early infatuation with ideas like Santa Claus is what leads people to buy lottery tickets at odds of several million to one. It's the reason idiotic columns on astrology are so popular in newspapers. It's what makes us pull the covers over our heads at night when we go to bed and hope our troubles go away by morning."

On Aging: "One of the worst things about being old is how condescending people are toward you. They offer to help you do things you are capable of doing without help. If I want help, I'll damn well ask for it.

"People try to make you feel better about your age by lying. They tell you how good you look. I know how I look. I look old and old doesn't look good.
People trying to be nice say 'What's wrong with being old?' It's a dumb question to which I have a ready answer. 'I'm going to die before you do, that's what's wrong with it.'"