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Winging It 11:

Today's Self-Help Topic for Men is:
The Art of Stimulating Conversation.

It has come to my attention that if there is one thing that women find difficult and annoying about us guys  -- and I base this conclusion on an extensive scientific study conducted over several drinks at Barrymore's Lounge on a recent weekend evening -- it is that we often have difficulty keeping up our end of the conversation, especially when we are near televisions that have sports on them.

Picture this: You and your ladyfriend walk into the bar and spot your friends, who enjoy talking about politics and social issues and culture and art and current events and, well, all of the things that normal, well-adjusted people talk about. And you most certainly don't consider yourself a knuckle-dragging troglodyte, but well, it's just that your friends have chosen to sit at a table that is in plain view of the bar's wide-screen TV, and it's set to ESPN, of all things. So shortly after you sit down, and your table finds itself embroiled in a discussion over who is more electable, Howard Dean or Wesley Clark, and when one of your female friends turns to you in anticipation of you chiming in on the topic, all you can say is, man, why in the hell did Fresno State just go for it on 4th and 7 at their own 38 when they're only down four with 11 minutes to play? I mean, what in the world was Pat Hill thinking? And you quickly realize that, most likely was not the right answer in that situation.

Uncomfortable moments like these is why now I carry a series of incredibly insightful quotes in my noggin to bail me out of iffy situations with my female friends. And I've found that by uttering a few of these phrases in mixed company, I can successfully deflect the flow of the conversation away long enough to see the next two or three plays, at the very least. The beauty of these quotes is that you can modify them for when you're just sitting around with the guys, too. And as I am always eager to help my fellow Loons in their quest to sound semi-profound and pseudointelligent in group settings, I have provided each version of the quotes below. See if you can decide which route you're supposed to take in mixed company, and which one is safe to use when you're sitting around with the boys. Good luck!

Napoleon Bonaparte said: "There are only two forces that unite men, fear and ...
a) ... interest."
c) ... hating Texas."

Martin Luther King Jr. said: "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands ...
a) ... at times of challenge and controversy."
b) ... and yells in the west stands after being told to sit down." 

Richard M. Nixon said: "Those who hate you don't win unless ...
a) ... you hate them, and then you destroy yourself."
b) ... you self-destruct, they score 27 straight points on you, and you hate yourself in the morning."

The Motto of the State of Kansas is: "To the stars through ...
a) ... hardship."
b) ... JUCO transfers."

Frank Moore Colby said: "Many people lose their tempers merely from seeing you keep ...
a) ... yours."
b) ... running that same old quarterback draw."

Cyrus Ching said: "I learned long ago to never wrestle with a pig...
a) ... You get dirty, and the pig likes it."
b) ... because I think Arkansas is a pretty good wrestling school."

Thomas Fuller said: "A mob has many heads ...
a) ... but no brains."
b) ... and during night games, twice as many asses."

Wendell Phillips said: "Defeat is nothing ...
a) ... but education, the first step toward something better."
b) ... to worry about, except when Solich takes 'em on the road."

Aldous Huxley said: "Facts do not cease to exist simply because ...
a) ... they are ignored."
b) ... of Internet bulletin boards."

Edmund Burke said: "You can never plan the future ...
a) ... by the past."
b) ... with this stupid BCS formula, so don't even bother calling the airlines yet."

Robert S. Lund said: "Every man who is considered a genius is helped by ...
a) ... being dead."
b) ... prep athletes from Bradenton, Florida."

Samuel Johnson said: "None but a fool worries about ...
a) ...things he cannot influence."
b) ... the Colorado game in October, for Christ's sake."

Cardinal de Retz said : "Nothing sways the stupid more than ...
a) ... arguments they can't understand."
b) ... Husker Nation T-shirts."

The book of Corinthians said: "For ye suffer fools gladly ..."
a) ... see ye yourselves are wise."
b) ... see, ye must be in Coloradye."

Goethe said: "There is nothing more frightening than ...
a) ... ignorance in action."
b) ... Nebraska in third-and-long."

Clarence Darrow said: "In life, the first half is ruined by our parents ...
a) ... and the second half is ruined by our children."
b) ... and the second half is ruined by the effin' refs."

H.G. Wells said: "Moral indignation is ...
a) ... jealousy with a halo."
b) ... a birthright in Lincoln."

George Bernard Shaw said: "Hatred is the coward's revenge for being ...
a) ... intimidated."
b) ... on the short end of a 43-16-2 all-time series record with Nebraska."

Thomas Fuller said: "One cloud is enough to ...
a) ... eclipse all the sun."
b) ... cause at least two non-contact Cornhusker fumbles."

Horace Walpole said: "The world is a comedy to those who think, and a tragedy for those ..."
a) ... who feel."
b) ... who play for Baylor."

William Hazlitt said: "Prejudice is the child of ...
a) ... ignorance."
b) ... Kellen Winslow Sr."

Joseph Stalin said: "Writers are ...
a) ... the engineers of human souls."
b) ... the reason Nebraska is always a couple spots lower in the AP Poll."

Robert Frost said: "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life ...
a) ... It goes on."
b) ... Go Big Red."

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