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Only My Opinion

Snappy romantic farce features Dolly Parton as a loquacious homespun secretary who mistakenly becomes a popular pop psychologist on a Chicago radio station. Newspaper reporter James Woods investigates her phony background, but rather than write an expose of her past, he falls in love with her.

Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't? Take my advice, because, I'm not using it! What to do or how to handle a situation is only my opinion and I'm always happy to give advice to anyone who'd like to have it.

I don't play craps, but I know how you should play if you must. One of the best ways is to play the pass line. The house has an edge of about 1.4 percent on this bet. If you roll 2, 3, or 12, you lose; 7 or 11, you win. With a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10, you should take "full odds"- (ask the stickman for the odds on the table). In this case, suppose you can make a bet of 10 times the original bet (10x odds) on rolling that number beÂ-­fore rolling a 7. This effectively reÂ-­Ã‚-­duces the house edge to about 0.2 percent. That's the best wager around. If you can't afford to take full odds, move to a smallÂ-­er table where you can. For the advanced player, bet the come line after each missed point and take full odds on those bets.

There aren't any definitive numbers, but studies of prison lovin' reached terrifying conclusions: About one in five male inmates suffers sexual abuse in the stony not-so-lonesome, while about one in 10 is actually raped. Turns out that besides the hot lesbian action, gritty prison movies are pretty accurate: The typical victim is a young, shrimpy first-time nonviolent offender, and the assaults involve copious amounts of violence. Wussy prisoners can score some protection by signing on as a bigger prisoner's bitch, but then they're usually bought and sold like prostitutes. My advice? Quit jaywalking.

If you want better sex, don't listen to your guy friends. You think those chumps know any more than you? There are any number of experts out there who, when asked, will spew all sorts of sex advice. There's Dr. Beverly Whipple, the tireless genital investigator who wrote an entire book on the G spot (I read it from cover to cover in high school); Dr. Ruth, the Yoda-like boinkmeister who makes doing the deed sound about as sexy as third-grade math; and that guy who wrote Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask, who's probably dead by now.

A son, his father, and his grandfather are ready to start a round of golf. The starter walks up and asks if he could pair the men up with a fourth. Though they are hesitant, the men accept. Soon, a beautiful blonde woman walks to the tee and they all start the round.

The woman is playing perfectly and is even par on the last hole. Eyeing her 15-foot putt for birdie, she asks the men for some advice. "I have never shot under par," she says, "and whoever gives me the best advice so that I can make this putt will get a blow job."

The son hops up and says, "You should aim three inches left and hit it pretty hard."

His dad interrupts: "No, no. Hit it four inches to the left and softly."

The grandfather walks up, stares at the ball for awhile and says, "Pick it up; it's a gimmie."

But what about the real sex experts? The hot and horny individuals who you seldom hear from because they're too busy banging their brains out""porn stars, playboys, erotic masseurs, dominatrixes? These are the people we should be pumping for sex tips. Look at it this way: Would you rather learn how to nail a curve at 95 mph from a dorky driver-ed teacher or a three-time Indy 500 winner? Enough said.

If you want to win a girl back, just disappear. Don't call, don't write. She'll go crazy and want you back right away. My advice to you is to party your face off every night. Befriend strippers; run up world-class bar tabs. Try to put an "All You Can Eat Ribs"- chain out of business.

I think it's important for guys to treat girls with a lot of respect. Put the lady first. They're delicate flowers. There's my advice: Treat girls like princesses, because they are. Cutting your target off from her support group makes it easier to lead her astray. Ah, romance.

My advice for poker is to cheat (that's pretty much my answer for everything). Don't be greedy. You have to walk away with their cash and not have them suspect anything. Make a series of bad bets with marginal hands to distribute most of your profits back to the table. Get over the thought that what you've done is basically the same as stealing. When you're neck-deep in bad guys the fastest reload is a second gun.

Pundits promise money, sex "" all the secrets of life. They have the most expert advice on getting rich, losing weight, meeting models, and memorizing the dictionary. Consider this: Ten years from now you'll be fat, bald, and angry, in a dead-end job, with three kids that make your life a living hell ... and it'll all be worth it.

The two best-selling advice gurus in the U.S. would like us to call them by their first names. But don't be fooled by such folksy familiarity. Dr. Phil (author of the chart-topper Relationship Rescue) and Dr. Laura (10 Stupid Things Couples Do to Mess Up Their Relationships) have the bedside manner of a drill sergeant and their prescription for success is a bitter pill to swallow indeed.

In a publishing cohort dominated by the awkward, plodding images of John Gray (who in addition to his trademarked punchline -- "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus" -- often speaks of "love tanks") and the feel-good gruel of the nauseating Chicken Soup series, Laura Schlessinger and Phil C. McGraw have introduced a clinical level of cynicism, detachment, and practicality. "You think I'm teaching you how to be manipulative," runs a typical Dr. Phil directive. "You're right." Asks Dr. Laura, "Is compromise really a good idea?"

Although getting what you want from your friends and acquaintances is important, that isn't Laura and Phil's real subject. The true object of their attention is you, and they're not sure they like what they see. A typical caller to Dr. Laura's popular national radio show contends that she treats her daughter badly because she herself was "emotionally abused." "So what?" Dr. Laura retorts. In his books, Dr. Phil is less brutal, but just as direct: "Bottom line: You are not a victim. You are creating the situations you are in....This is not a theory; it is life."

Between Dr. Laura's powers-of-10-based "Stupid Things" series and Dr. Phil's Oprah-spawned "life makeovers," the industry once best known for assuring everyone that they're OK has received a powerful corrective. Not only are you not OK, it's also all your fault.

Books intended to guide readers along the path of life have been staples of American publishing since Benjamin Franklin's autobiography. From the preposterous New Age mind cure of Deepak Chopra to the hard-nosed confidence of Think and Grow Rich, few offer much beyond a variation on working hard, being specific in formulating your goals, and treating others well in order to get what you want (whether you call this manipulation or "karma"). Still, that hasn't stopped self-help from becoming a multi-billion dollar industry. And the profit margin gets better every day.

Through the advent of bullet-pointed lists and fill-in-the-blank charts, on a strict words-per-page basis, modern readers are getting less and less advice. The stagnation of the advice itself, along with Emperor's New Titles like The Simple Abundance Workbook (which is mostly blank pages), makes it easy to think, as many do, that self-improvement is a racket, a kind of page-bound snake oil. (On the bright side, self-help books epitomize the best of what America has to offer, both in the sense that success seems possible to so many and that so many have become successful by selling advice.)

Dr. Laura and Dr. Phil define themselves against most touchy-feely patent medicine literature. Dr. Laura rails against "the psychology articles and experts working feverishly to exorcise the world of guilt," because guilt is "a good emotional sign that something is wrong." Similarly, Dr. Phil thinks the "'self-empowerment' industry" is "largely unfocused, lazy, gimmicky, politically correct, and, above all, marketable." Such postures befit their radical renegotiations of the whole "I'm OK, You're OK" contract.

Their emphasis on personal responsibility and on methods that "work" by the most bottom-line definition (whether in the realm of material goods or family life) contrasts helpfully with the P.C. psychobabble they each dismiss so handily. While almost every author in the self-help universe stresses the same fundamental concepts, the underlying assumptions about who the reader is and what he wants are so far away from how Phil and Laura see their readers, Deepak and company may as well be on one of Mr. Gray's distant planets.

Above all, readers of Chopra, Marianne (A Return to Love) Williamson, and the like want extended, improbable metaphors and sentimental, pan-denominational fake spirituality. Their readers want less to change themselves than to change how they feel about themselves. The two most common aphorisms in the typical modern self-help book are "learn to love yourself" and "wealth won't make you happy."

Try laying that wisdom down on Dr. Phil, or to a listener of Dr. Laura. Neither would go so far as to say you have to be rich to be happy, but neither would put money very far down on the list of things that would help. As for "loving oneself," that isn't nearly as important as being honest with yourself. Or, at the very least, as Dr. Phil and Dr. Laura being honest with you.

Many people know that William James (1842-1910) was a doctor, a pioneering psychologist, and an innovative philosopher. Almost no one, however, is aware that he also virtually invented the daily newspaper advice column. The reason for our ignorance is William James himself. Fearing that open association with such a vulgar activity might cause his stuffy professional colleagues to dismiss him as a mere popularizer, Dr. William James signed all of his advice columns simply, "Dr. Bill." An interesting aspect of James's advice column is that when he was particularly busy, he asked friends such as Josiah Royce and George Santayana to write "Dr. Bill's" responses. Of course they were delighted.

An advice column is a column at a magazine or newspaper written by an advice columnist (colloquially known as an agony aunt, or agony uncle if the columnist is a male). The image presented was originally of an older woman providing comforting advice and maternal wisdom, hence the name "aunt".

An advice columnist answers readers' queries on personal problems, in particular giving advice about sexual problems. In many cases, the queries, as well as the answers, have been created in the office, and the agony aunt is actually a team of writers. Marjorie Proops's name appeared (with photo) long after she retired. The nominal writer may be a pseudonym, or in effect a brand name; the accompanying picture may bear little resemblance to the actual author.

Agony aunt is beginning to fall into disuse, as the scope of personal advice has broadened, to include overtly sexual matters "" pioneered by the likes of Dr. Ruth "" as well as general lifestyle issues. Questions are most often asked 'anonymously', with the signature assuming the problem that is being expressed. For example, someone who is asking about erratic behavior in their partner may sign their letter "Confused, Johannesburg".

Many advice columns are now syndicated and appear in countless newspapers. Such prominent U.S. examples include Dear Abby, Ann Landers, while Dear Maggie offers sex advice to a predominantly Christian readership in Christianity magazine. In the UK, Anne Widdecombe is renowned for her advice column in The Guardian newspaper and has been for many years. Men as advice columnists are more rare than women in print, but men have been popping up more often online in both serious formats.

Advice columns have a long history in American journalism, reaching back to the "letters to the lovelorn"- that appeared in eighteenth-century magazines and newspapers. Yet perhaps no place rivals Chicago in the history of the newspaper advice column, because it served as the staging ground for the nationally syndicated sister act of Esther and Pauline Friedman, better known as Ann Landers and "Dear Abby,"- for a significant part of their long and successful careers.


Everyone Is Entitled to My Opinion [Paperback] Everyone Is Entitled to My Opinion

From America's favorite television reporter--wise and hilarious commentaries on the always fragile human condition. In this one-of-a-kind book, we get the undiluted David Brinkley. He marvels at government regulations that require paint cans to bear a label reading "Do not drink paint." He reminisces about a White House that once welcomed casual picnickers on its lawn. He observes that "if we can put a man on the moon, we could put Congress in orbit." He skewers lawyers, bureaucrats, Washington insiders, hypocrites of all stripes. He commemorates absurdity--and hence suffers fools gladly. This collection is Brinkley at his unbeatable best.




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