Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

Most guys don’t love Valentine’s Day. It’s a holiday designed to trap them. If you’re dating more than one woman, you’re dead. If you get the wrong gift, you’re dead. If the gift is too cheap or too elaborate, you’re dead. If you get her a humorous card with Bush on the front you’re dead (although in that case you deserve to be).

Or worse, they love the gift and card too much. Then you’re REALLY dead.

My problem with Valentine’s Day is that it’s also my birthday. Try going out to a nice celebration dinner when every restaurant is packed, all the prices are jacked way up, and everyone is trying so hard to create a “romantic atmosphere” that when their date isn’t looking they’re popping Lexapros like Tic Tacs.

Still, not to be a cynic I would like to offer an explanation for what love really is. It comes from that font of romance -- an episode of TAXI (written by Ken Estin).

Louie is trying to win back his girlfriend, Zena. He asks if she loves him. She says she doesn’t know what love is. He tells her she’s in luck because he does. And he’s the only person alive who can say that. He’s read what everyone else says love is and they’re always wrong. She finally asks him what it is, and Louie says:

“Love is the end of happiness!

The end. Because one day all a guy’s got to do to be happy is to watch the Mets. The next day you gotta have Zena in the room watching the Mets with you. You don’t know why. They’re the same Mets, it’s the same room…but you gotta have Zena there.”

That to me expresses more heartfelt love than any bouquet or bling or blowout dinner. Maybe you should change your plans and just get together in her apartment. Especially since I still don't have dinner reservations and would prefer not celebrating my birthday at Taco Bell.

Thank you and happy Valentine’s Day.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Happy 39th and holding, Ken. And, for the record, I'm secretly addicted to the crunchwrap supreme. :-)

Stacey

Matt Neffer, Boy Spotwelder said...

Dammit. I just realized that I'm 36, unmarried-but-living-with-someone, and I've never felt like I needed to have someone in the room watching the Mets with me. Well, I'm Canadian, so substitute the Maple Leafs for the Mets, but still...

Thanks, Ken, for depressing the hell out of me this Valentine's Day.

I jest. But only a little. Anyway, cheers... I've only been reading the blog for a few weeks but I'm a fan. Perhaps some day soon I will yammer on a little about being a television comedy writer in Canada, which I am, with a reasonable amount of success. But not tonight. Happy Birthday and many happy returns.

doggans said...

Valentine's Day is another one of those arbitrary holidays I don't understand. Why should we only set apart one day a year to be nice to our significant others, other than to provide Hallmark with an annual sales boost?

Happy birthday, good sir. I didn't get you anything, but try this on for size: I give you my thanks for providing countless laughs for myself and my family through this blog and your work with M*A*S*H, Cheers, and Frasier.

JOHN LEADER said...

Happy Birthday, Ken.

I'm rethinking taking Pam to Taco Bell for Valentine's Day - even though nothing says "I love you" like a Chalupa Supreme. Yum.

VP19 said...

Anonymous said...
Happy 39th and holding, Ken.


Sounds like anonymous is aware that Ken shares his Feb. 14 birthday with the great Jack Benny (although I still can't figure out why "Love In Bloom" was his radio show's theme song for so many years). And while I've never met Ken, I did meet Jack...way back in July 1969, when he was playing Niagara Falls and was staying at the same hotel as my family.

Happy birthday to both Ken and Jack!

LA Guy said...

Your story reminded me of a scene from MASH that still haunts me to this day. (And of course it would be even better if you happen to be the one who wrote it)

I don't remember much about the episode other than there was a scene in which Colonel Potter (Harry Morgan) was talking to a soldier who was exasperated about how to handle his relationship with his wife (possibly girlfriend). It's even possible the woman in question was Potter's daughter, since I think she was referenced in a couple of plot lines.

In any case at one point the soldier basically asks Potter what he should do when his wife does something that frustrates him or makes him nuts.

Potter simply says "Love her even more."

I'm not doing the scene justice, but it was beautifully written and acted. Sadly for me my then girlfriend (now wife) saw the episode with me and to this day when she does something I find difficult to understand (usually because she's going out of her way to make life more difficult for herself) she promptly says "Love me even more!"

Happy Birthday Mr. Levine.

michael ringwood said...

Hey! happy Birthday and happy Valentine's Day to you. You are right, this day puts most guys in a dilemma. Just remembered I have to buy flowers for my girlfriend coz she loves them. With so much work on my mind these days, I really am forgetting too much.
Peep into my blog on birthday e- cards for some beautiful e-greeting cards and other interesting info.

Miles said...

Happy Birthday.

The best Taxi scene ever, I think, was in a courtroom. I believe Louie didn't believe somebody was really paralyzed and was lying about the need to be in the wheelchair. In the middle of court, he thrusts said person in chair thru courtroom doors and all you can hear is the continuous thump-thump-thump down the many stairs to the bottom, while the camera stays on the wincing people still left in the courtroom.

Hysterical. I hope you wrote that. If not, well, happy birthday, anyway.

Willy B. Good said...

that blog made me feel so guilty I ripped up my funny Bush card and sent her a sexy internet card with a picture of two dogs making love and instead of KFC this year we dined in with a nice romantic dial up pizza which actually worked out cheaper so cheers for the tips Ken and hope you got heaps of chocolates and funny cards on your birthday

vootieschool said...

Happy Birthday, Ken, and thanks for writing the best, most consistently amusing blog there is!

Don't be discouraged, do something creative for dinner (Dinah's Fried Chicken? Skooby's Hot Dogs? Petro's Iron Skillet in Wheeler Ridge north of Grapevine?) and make up for it by having a real celebratory dinner this weekend (time-shift your celebration, a la TIVO).

I think that "Love in Bloom" was Jack Benny's theme because it was his signature tune on the violin...

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D. McEwan said...

Happy Birthday Ken. If it's any consolation, Valentine's Day has always been one of those "Holidays" I completely ignore, so to me, it will only be Ken Levine Day.

However, watching the Mets, or any other baseball team, is not happiness to me, indeed, I have never watched the Mets, so I guess love for me is having someone to not watch the Mets with, or to split infinitives with, although I have other requirements as well. But then, I never took Louie DePalma as a role model on anything.

But I would think REAL Love would be someone who makes you want to turn the Mets off: someone who, if the choice is them or the Mets (Or the Mets's equivilant), you take them, indeed, PREFER them.

Love means never having to say, "Let's watch the Mets."

And someone whom I, up until that moment, thought I might be falling in love with saying to me, "There's a game on. Let's watch it" is "The End of Happiness".

Would I actually break up with someone who turned on a sports event when on a date with me?

I have.

D. McEwan said...

"I think that "Love in Bloom" was Jack Benny's theme because it was his signature tune on the violin..."

So it was his signature tune because it was his signature tune? Well, you've certainly cleared that up!

The Electric Storytime said...

Fantastic. Happy V- and B- days.

Felipe Hoffa said...

Happy birthday Ken, and thanks for all your stories. They've made me a better writer, or at least a smarter man :).

Will Teullive said...

Forrest Gump might say "Ken Levine's birthday is like a box of chocolates."

Tom Quigley said...

Ken, you poor soul!

Thanks for the pearl of wisdom from the geniuses who wrote TAXI (Ken Estin in particular) and Happy Birthday! (or as the floral and candy industries like to refer Feb. 14, "Christmas")

Glad to hear the reading went so well!

Paul Duca said...

Happy birthday, Ken, from your fellow Aquarius (I'm February 10th). And per the "Love In Bloom" question...apparently the tune was struck up when Jack Benny entered a Hollywood hotspot one night, and it stuck. This came as somewhat of a bother to Kitty Carlisle, as she had introduced the song in the Marx Brothers film A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, and expected it to forever identified with her.

maven said...

Just want to add my Happy Birthday, Ken! And Happy Valentine's Day, too!

Jesi said...

Happy Birthday!

Oh. It's Kristen Again. *sigh* said...

Happy Birthday.

Everyone knows that the "real" holiday is tomorrow when all of the candy goes on sale.

Anonymous said...

Hap Birth Ken.

I'll give you a mention when I toast my wife.

K?

I enjoy your blog always.

Mark Bennett

Wally said...

Many Happy returns on your birthday, good sir. Thanks for the girft of this blog.

zazupitts said...

You...are Boss.

Happy Birthday!

The Curmudgeon said...

Today is also my Oldest Daughter's birthday. Go figure: A 365-1 shot. Happy Birthday, Mr. Levine -- and also to Mr. Kubelsky.

benson said...

Three in one post today...

1. Happy Birthday, Ken!
2. I beg to differ with poster Miles, but Rev. Jim getting his cabbie driver's license at the DMV scene may be one of the funniest bits in TV history.

3. Since it's been a hot topic on here since it's debut...here's some news...

(Undated) -- The NBC drama "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" has been shelved indefinitely. The network has announced that the "Saturday Night Live" spoof will be taken off its Monday night schedule as of February 26th and replaced with "The Black Donnellys." The new drama was originally set to premiere March 5th. "Donnellys" is created by "Crash" writers Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco. It follows four young, working-class Irish-American brothers drawn to a life of organized crime in New York City. It is loosely based on Moresco's background and will star Jonathan Tucker, Thomas Guiry, Michael Stahl-David and Billy Lush. NBC says that "Studio 60" featuring Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford "will return to the schedule later this season on a date to be determined."

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Benson may be right. The scene that comes clooe to that in my book is the one where Mel Torme sings to Kramer in SEINFELD, thinking Kramer is retarded.

gary mack said...

Leave it to Ken to share his Valentin's Birthday with the stars: Benjamin Kubelsky (Jack Benny), Meg Tilly, Gregory Hines, Carl Bernstein, Andrew Prine, Florence Henderson, Phyllis McGuire, Hugh Downs, Mel Allen, Steve McNair, Jim Kelly, Drew Bledsoe, Boom Boom" Geoffrion, Vic Morrow, Jimmy Hoffa, Al Capone's rival gang members, and the everpopular John Marzano.
There's no school tomorrow in Borneo.

D. McEwan said...

"This came as somewhat of a bother to Kitty Carlisle, as she had introduced the song in the Marx Brothers film A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, and expected it to [be] forever identified with her."

Paul, I don't where you get your "Information", but you clearly have either never seen "A Night at the Opera" or it was so long ago that you have forgotten it. Neither Kitty Carlisle nor anyone else introduced or performed the song "Love in Bloom" in that movie. That song is not in that movie. Kitty and Alan Jones sing a duet of "Alone", Jones sings "Cosi-Cosa", and a lot of people sing stuff from Pagliacci & Il Trovetore. No "Love in Bloom", unless it was removed from every print of the picture I've ever seen, and it was erased off my DVD of the picture.

But thanks for the misinformation.

D. McE said...

And feel free to add the word "Know" in brackets between "Don't" & "Where" in my first sentence.

VP19 said...

I thought "Love In Bloom" predated "A Night At The Opera," and, as it turned out, I was right:

"Love in Bloom" was introduced by Bing in the movie "She Loves Me Not." He recorded the song July 5, 1934, and it rose to No. 1 on the charts, where it stayed for six weeks. It's one of Bing's biggest hits ever, yet most people today associate the song with Jack Benny instead of Bing.

Here's the story about Benny and the song, from Mary Livingstone Benny's book about her husband. According to Benny:

"One night Mary and I were in this supper club and the band asked me to join them for their next number. I borrowed a fiddle and, just following the sheet music, I played 'Love in Bloom.' I guess it sounded pretty funny, the violin playing, I mean, not the tune! My spontaneous performance turned up being written about in some column, with the writer wisecracking that 'Jack Benny playing 'Love in Bloom' sounded like a breath of fresh air ... if you liked fresh air...' The following week, Mary and I went to another club. As we entered, the orchestra leader started playing 'Love in Bloom.' Obviously, he had seen the item in the paper. The thing just caught on, so I decided to adopt it as my theme song. Let's face it, it's also a pretty easy tune to play on the fiddle. I love it from that aspect, but actually 'Love in Bloom' has nothing to do with a comedian. I mean, 'Can it be the breeze that fills the trees with rare and magic perfume...' sounds more like it should be the theme song of a dog -- not a comic!" (Mary Livingstone Benny, Jack Benny, p. 71)

VP19 said...

However, I should add that according to IMDb, Kitty Carlisle and Bing dueted on "Love In Bloom" in the film, although Bing recorded it as a solo. So Kitty indeed has ties to the song.

Michael Jones said...

Happy Birthday as well, but try having a Christmas birthday and going to a restaurant when the only thing that is open is McDs. My first beer with friends on Dec 25th was when I moved to Japan. Come to think of it, you'd like Valentine's in Japan for women give men the treats.
Michael

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthdat, Ken!
I would like to be your friend!
Panjeeb.

Kodijack said...

My girlfriend's birthday is also on the 14th and she has the same complaints. So I have to do both and make sure that it is clear which is for which.

Happy Birthday Ken.

Ken Levine said...

Thanks so much to everyone who wished me a happy birthday. I spent it at the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model party and will be filing a report on it in this blog soon.

hollywood blond said...

Ken, your anagram says it all. Happy Velenkine Day!!

And Beaver Cleaver? VERBAL ACE EVER. Something to these anagrams for sure. Hope you enjoyed your day and thanks for all the laughs!