Taking Time to Think About Time

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We’ve often heard that time is money, but in these stressed-out days it’s more than that. Time is increasingly a key to well-being, creatively and emotionally.

My sister, Juliet, has taken the time — a lot of it in recent years — to study the topic and has written a book with her insight and advice, called “A Minute to Think.”

The problem is real. She cites a Gallup poll showing that 23 percent of workers feel burnt out more often than not, with another 44 percent experiencing it occasionally. Deloitte, the global professional services company, found that two-thirds of today’s employees feel “overwhelmed” and 80 percent of men would like to work fewer hours.

In Japan, Microsoft conducted a study and found that a four-day work week resulted in 40 percent more productivity and, as a bonus, overhead dropped by nearly 25 percent. Juliet’s conclusion: “Less can be the new more if we give it a chance.”

Research shows that by putting more pauses in our day — “white space,” as Juliet refers to these breaks — thinking improves. I was surprised to read that MRI scans during a person’s quiet pauses show complex activity in the default neural network of the brain — activity that has been linked to insight, introspection, memory and creativity.

As with every form of self-improvement — diet, exercise and such — improving our time management is no easy task. Moreover, no matter how comprehensive, no book can provide guaranteed instructions for saving ourselves by saving time. But with compelling anecdotes and eye-opening data, “A Minute to Think” could help clear mental clutter.

Juliet suggests addressing four questions. Is there anything I can let go of? Where is “good enough,” good enough? What do I truly need to know? What deserves my attention?

I’ve heard it said that if you want something done you should ask a busy person. The point, of course, isn’t that such people have more time than the rest of us, but that they know how to make better use of their time.

Back in 1929 Coca-Cola came up with the tag line, “The pause that refreshes.” Today we’ve learned to eschew sugary drinks, but we could all benefit from a refreshing pause.

Copyright 2021 Peter Funt distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Peter Funt’s new memoir, “Self-Amused,” is now available at CandidCamera.com.

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All the Presidents’ Teeth

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Now that Joe Biden doesn’t have to wear a mask in public, I’m back to staring at his teeth.

Fact is, the last three presidents have elevated dental awareness to unprecedented levels. Whether cosmetically altered, artificially whitened or just naturally dynamic, teeth displayed by Obama, Trump and Biden have been downright mesmerizing.

In official portraits of presidents displayed by the White House Historical Association, none of the first 39 presidents revealed a single tooth. This was partly due to dental crookedness and discoloration, but also because portraits and photos were usually viewed as serious business, resulting in somber, tight-lipped poses.

The painting of Ronald Reagan, completed in 1991, is the first to show teeth — or, for that matter, any hint of a smile.

As for actual photographs, there is a famous shot of Teddy Roosevelt flashing two wide rows of teeth. Some called Roosevelt “The first president who smiled,” but he’s not smiling on the White House website. Images there show John Kennedy as the earliest president to bare his teeth, with chompers that look cartoonishly large. Jimmy Carter’s upper incisors were a magnet for cartoonists — among them four-time Pulitzer winner Herblock (Herbert Block), who famously drew Carter as the Cheshire Cat with a massive toothy grin.

Bill Clinton and both Bushes had teeth that appeared natural, or at least believable, and so for two decades the nation’s attention was diverted from matters dental.

But with President Obama we began wondering if anyone could possibly be blessed with such perfect pearls. In the White House photo gallery Obama’s teeth are so prominent you hardly notice his ears.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden caused dental fixations to soar. With smiles sparkling and eye-catching, each man has been accused in news reports of having dentures — and faulty ones at that. Trump gave a speech in December, 2017, that prompted New York Magazine to report: “It seems like he is trying to talk around his teeth while they slip from his gums.” During the presidential campaign in September, 2019, the New York Post said in a headline: “Joe Biden struggles to keep his teeth in his mouth during Democratic debate.”

Dr. Joseph Mitchell, a Palm Beach dentist, has studied the Biden smile and concludes that the president’s restorations are in need of “more definition between the teeth; what we call ‘embrasures.’” He also suggests “more translucency at the edges, not opaque porcelain.”

Trump’s front teeth were analyzed by Dr. Jake Bateman of Kingsport, Tennessee. “I would guess the majority of them are veneers,” he explained. “The giveaway is how white and uniform the teeth are.”

Presidents have always had a thing about teeth. Myth has it that George Washington’s false teeth were made of wood, but in fact they were fashioned from ivory and other precious materials. Lyndon Johnson gave away electric toothbrush sets with the presidential seal on them. Herbert Hoover had a dental exam room installed in the White House, which remains to this day.

Fastidious dental care might be the only remaining thing about which presidents from both parties agree. That’s something for pundits to chew on.

Copyright 2021 Peter Funt distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Peter Funt’s new memoir, “Self-Amused,” is now available at CandidCamera.com.

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The Memoir Pandemic

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I figured that nine months after the pandemic began, sheltered and cooped up Americans would be creating a baby boom. It never happened. In California, for example, births in 2021 are expected to be about 50,000 fewer than in 2020.

There was, however, a boom in books.

According to Publishers Marketplace, which tracks book deals, memoir acquisitions were up about 9 percent in 2020. Among the first to land contracts were actors Michael J. Fox, Billy Dee Williams and Hayley Mills. Soon, PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor and retired Nascar driver Bill Lester had sold their stories, as had country music superstar Dolly Parton. Willie Nelson got deals for two memoirs. As the pandemic wore on, former National Football League coach Bill Cowher signed a memoir deal, as did actors Stanley Tucci and Julianna Margulies.

Alone at my kitchen table day after day, I decided to give it a try. I found the notion of putting my life into a book so totally amusing that I titled it “Self-Amused.” Then, as I pushed ahead I discovered there was too much to cover, so I subtitled it, “A Tell-Some Memoir.” Voila!

My first draft didn’t get far with family and friends who found it to be “in the weeds,” which is a publishing term meaning “boring.” Apparently few people care how I rate breakfast cereals, the fact that at age 12 I decided my favorite color was green rather than navy blue, or that after spending thousands on golf lessons I still have a wicked slice.

I read a quote from a publishing “guru” — loosely defined as someone who is not very good at writing but loves to talk about books — that you should stick to things you know best. For me, that’s the TV series “The Office,” and my own show. Realizing that several books have already been written about Michael Scott and Dunder Mifflin, I settled on “Candid Camera.”

As luck would have it, I’ve done some pretty incredible things, like hanging from a 10-foot ceiling to create the impression of an “upside down room,” to putting airline passengers through an X-ray machine and then getting sued and having to defend myself in Los Angeles Superior Court while on Court TV. I also hit the actress Cybill Shepherd in the face with a birthday cake, and sat next to Clint Eastwood on his private jet as he cuddled a baby pig.

I was fortunate to make a good living doing “Candid Camera,” but managed to lose most of my money with oddball business ventures. I printed daily news on restaurant placemats, sold dried weeds to florists, and spent five years delivering newspapers while being chased by the mob.

“Self-Amused” is now on sale, yet I’m not urging you to buy it, which confirms my lack of business skill. I’m reminded that when Abbie Hoffman wrote his memoir back in 1971 the title was, “Steal This Book.” Please don’t do that.

Here’s my offer: If you, too, wrote a memoir during the pandemic, I’ll buy yours if you buy mine. You go first.

Copyright 2021 Peter Funt distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Peter Funt’s new memoir, “Self-Amused,” is now available at CandidCamera.com.

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Political Emails Reach New Lows

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With Joe Biden’s presidency nearing the six-month mark, the Republican National Committee sent out a “Biden Report Card”—a poll in which Biden’s performance is graded from A to F.

The RNC email begins, “Friend, Let’s be clear. Joe Biden is a FAILURE.” It goes on: “Biden is out of touch and out of control, which is why we’re turning to YOU to get your unfiltered opinion on Biden’s performance by completing the Official Biden Report Card.” I have no idea what the “results” were, but the set-up seemed certain to create a real nail-biter.

The next day the Democratic Governors Association sent an email with a banner that flashed in bright red and white, URGENT POLL. The message read, “Tell us before midnight: Do you approve of Biden and Harris?” The voting options were “yes” and “no”—and, just to make it more scientific, the word yes was on a red button while no was on pale gray.

Nonstop campaigning isn’t new, it’s a sad fact of politics. What’s changing is intensity and relentless messaging.

Modern media, both professional and social, were supposed to create a better informed electorate and a rich diversity of political opinion. Instead, our tools are used to build barriers. Email is worst. At least when campaigning via regular mail or with paid ads in print and on television, out-of-pocket costs force some limits.

Political emails are ridiculously rigid: Even 42 months before the next presidential election there is no middle ground, no semblance of open-mindedness. As an experiment, I submitted contrary votes in both “polls,” giving President Biden an “A” in the RNC survey and a “No” in the Democratic poll. It didn’t matter. Both of my votes opened pages that pushed toward the same pre-determined conclusions.

“Are you concerned that Donald Trump will run for president again?” was the follow-up query in the Democrats’ Biden poll. “Will you invest $100 to help Democratic governors stop Trump’s hateful agenda?”

The Republican survey wasted little time getting to its point: “Please contribute any amount right now to directly fund our efforts to defeat Biden!” (Remember, I had just voted to give Joe Biden the highest possible grade.) The suggested donations were $45 to $2,900.

A simple course for those of us who hate this email nonsense would be to “unsubscribe.” But concerned voters understandably want to hear what their party has to say. I don’t want to cut off my nose just to stop the stink of foolish emails.

Both parties shamelessly use whatever hook they can find to ask for personal information and money. “You may not know me yet,” began an email from Marie Boyd, “but you do know my husband, DNC Chair Jamie Harrison, which is why I have a special request for you. Jamie is so fired up about this grassroots team and the future of the Democratic Party—so I want to surprise him with a card signed by incredible supporters like you this Father’s Day.”

I discovered that the digital card for Harrison could not be submitted without my cell number. Really? And, of course, the message contained a request for money—with $2,000 among the suggested sums.

Just a few days earlier, a GOP email solicited signatures on “President Trump’s ONLY surprise birthday card.” This pitch also asked for a phone number, as well as an email address and, of course, a donation of up to $2,900.

Political emails are giving spam a bad name. And relentless off-season badgering for cash undoubtedly leaves many civic-minded citizens with headaches.

The Democrats’ email containing the Biden approval poll said its purpose was to help “heal our democracy.” Reading bogus surveys and email blather from both parties, I have to say healing is not what comes to mind.

Copyright 2021 Peter Funt distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Peter Funt’s new memoir, “Self-Amused,” is now available at CandidCamera.com.

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There’s Too Much Breaking News to Bear

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Lost in the press of recent world events was news from Washington state about a dramatic jury trial resulting in the conviction of a 77-year-old Ilwaco woman, who now faces a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Doris Parks pleaded not guilty, just as she did back in 2014 when tried on similar charges. That trial was interrupted when prosecutors offered a deal, resulting in a $500 fine but no jail time.

The latest case hinged on gripping testimony from officer Paul Jacobson. Acting on a tip from a neighbor, Jacobson conducted extensive video surveillance. Despite objections from defense attorney Killian Dunkeson, the footage was played for the six-member jury, accompanied by testimony by an expert witness, Scott Harris, a wildlife biologist.

A turning point came during officer Jacobson’s testimony about surveilling the Parks’ home. He told Judge Nancy McAllister that he saw a bear walk up Parks’ driveway and onto her deck.

Although Jacobson conceded under cross-examination that he never saw Parks feeding bears, he said the animals he observed were obese.

Officers had been alerted by a neighbor, Gerry Douglas, who testified that he compiled more than 60 video clips of bears on Parks’ property. Asked by defense lawyer Dunkeson if he had ever personally witnessed Parks feeding a bear, Douglas conceded he had not. However, he told the court, “I have seen the door open up there, on the patio, and I have seen a hand with food slide out.”

Biologist Harris told the court that he examined the video evidence and concluded that some bears in the footage appeared “huge” considering that it was spring and the bears had only recently emerged from hibernation. He said he was “kind of amazed” that the bears returned to the same place so often.

Testifying in her own defense, Parks said she only feeds raccoons and birds, noting that raccoons “have very good manners.” She added that she is cautious around bears, but “I have never seen a bear hurt anyone.”

The jury took only 30 minutes to deliver its verdict, finding Doris Parks guilty of “intentionally feeding, or attempting to feed, large wild carnivores or intentionally attracting large wild carnivores to land or a building.” Sentencing is due later this month.

I’d like to thank reporter Brandon Cline of the Chinook Observer for his close-up coverage of the trial. It’s a shame that in these tense and troubled times, so much breaking news is easily overlooked.

Copyright 2021 Peter Funt distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Peter Funt’s new memoir, “Self-Amused,” is now available at CandidCamera.com.


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Abnormality Has Its Virtues

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It’s normal these days to applaud the return to normality. But I’m going to miss some of the abnormal stuff we’ve been doing during the pandemic. The Top 10 things I hate to lose:

10 – Home Haircuts. For a year my wife Amy has been cutting my hair, but now that we’re both vaccinated she’s making unsubtle suggestions that it’s time for me to go back to Al, whose shop is a 30 minute roundtrip from our house. Al is a nice guy who keeps me waiting, talks too much, and often nicks my ear. For this I pay 25 dollars plus a 10-dollar tip.

9 – Quiet Ballgames. I loved last year’s fan-free games on television. I could have done without the cardboard cutouts but nothing beats watching a TV game without incessant cutaways to rowdy fans with funny hats, silly signs and spilled beers.

8 – No-Contact Takeout. Isn’t it amazing how quickly restaurateurs arranged hassle-free takeout when they had to? You order online, pay in advance, and pop your trunk for the food without saying a word. Why would we ever want to give that up?

7 – Zooming. Sure, some business meetings work better when participants are all in the same room. But with Zoom, OMG, no commuting, no waiting, no schmoozing. And, no shoes? No problem.

6 – Excuses. There will never be a better excuse than the pandemic. “Sorry, I can’t come over to see how well your herb garden is doing.” “No, I can’t go shopping for patio furniture.” “Alas, I can’t schedule that colonoscopy right now.” It’s not me, it’s the pandemic.

5 – Sweatpants. The last time I bothered with zippered pants was March 6, 2020.

4 – No traffic. If by chance you had to drive somewhere during sheltering, what a breeze it was! To my utter astonishment, a two-hour drive to San Francisco during the pandemic took…two hours.

3 – Grazing. When you’re cloistered at home, three meals a day can easily become five or six. Nothing takes your mind off not having anything to do like a second lunch, and a third Bloody Mary.

2 – Amazon. The Bezos behemoth isn’t going away, but during the pandemic it was a lifeline to everything from electronics to groceries to over-priced toilet paper. How Amazon cajoled the Postal Service to deliver on Sunday, I’ll never know.

1 – Masks. OK, masks are a nuisance and, for some, a political distraction. But like the Lone Ranger, many of us enjoyed hiding some emotion behind a mask. No smiles. No frowns. And, when my dentist told me I needed a new tooth I worried about having a gaping hole for a few weeks. “No one will ever know,” he said. “Just wear a mask.”

I hope whatever the next normal is like, it retains some of what we came to enjoy during the recent normal.

Peter Funt’s new book, “Self Amused,” will be published this summer.

Copyright 2021 Peter Funt. Columns distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate.

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What’s in Store for Biden on SNL?

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NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” returns with a new episode on March 27 and it remains a mystery whether the show will have someone portray President Biden. A bigger question: Will SNL dare give Biden the same treatment it gave Gerald Ford?

President Ford, a star athlete in college, slipped on the steps of Air Force One in June 1975. When SNL had its debut four months later, Chevy Chase played Ford as a klutz, falling down in sketch after sketch – a depiction that helped make Chase a big star. It branded Ford and helped dash his chances against Jimmy Carter the following year.

Last Friday, President Biden had the misfortune to slip at least twice on the steps of Air Force One. He wasn’t injured, but his image might have been hurt. Right-wing commentators already claim he’s too old and frail for the job. They’ll be aching for Biden to get a Ford-style portrayal on SNL.

So far, the NBC series has stayed clear of Biden. He is mentioned briefly on Weekend Update, but there has yet to be a sketch with a Biden character in 2021.

The last time anyone played Biden on SNL was December 19, when cast member Alex Moffat took a turn. Before the election Jim Carrey portrayed Biden and some Democrats felt it was too harsh. Carrey left the role last fall without much explanation except to say it was never meant to be a permanent gig.

Earlier, Woody Harrelson provided a toothy, straight-from-the-headlines version of Biden, and Jason Sudeikis did a spot-on impression of the then-vice president during the Obama years.

I placed a call to Alan Zweibel, who was one of the original writers at SNL and worked on the Ford parodies. “We were at an age where the Republicans were the bad guys,” he told me. He recalls that after Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace, “Ford comes along and he’s the guy who not only pardoned Nixon, but kept falling down a lot. So, you know, it just seemed like the natural thing to do.”

SNL and its creator, Lorne Michaels, frequently state that they treat both parties equally in search of comedy and satire. But Jay Pharoah, who did a winning impression of President Obama, has said in interviews that SNL went a bit soft on Obama in the latter stages of his presidency. “A lot of the time I was told I had to keep him presidential,” Pharoah explains. “I was just forced to be a part of the machine and try to do the best I can.”

So, what will be Joe Biden’s fate? Will SNL turn him into a Ford-style bumbler who keeps losing his footing? Or will SNL steer clear of damaging Biden’s image at a time when the nation is already so divided on politics?

Chevy Chase is now 77, one year younger than Joe Biden. Maybe SNL will invite him to stumble back into the presidential role.

Peter Funt is working on a book about portrayals of sitting presidents, titled “Playing POTUS.”

Copyright 2021 Peter Funt. Columns distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate.

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The Wonder of Sonny Fox

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Irwin Fox died the other day. If you missed it because you were engrossed in obits about Hank Aaron, Larry King and Cloris Leachman, that’s understandable. Besides, at 95, Mr. Fox had outlived many of his fans.

As a kid in Brooklyn they called him “Sonny,” so he kept it – for the months he spent in a Nazi POW camp during WWII, through broadcasting courses at NYU, and into the offices of the “Candid Microphone” radio program, where my father, Allen Funt, gave him his first job in 1947.

The radio show and its television offshoot, “Candid Camera,” became Dad’s entire career. Sonny Fox moved on, first as a correspondent for the Voice of America during the Korean War, and then as a pioneer in children’s television. He paved the way for performers like Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo) and then Fred Rogers, to name two who, like Sonny, could relate to kids on their own level.

“They taught me as much as I taught them,” he said about the children he interviewed. “I had an insatiable curiosity about the inner life that goes on in children.”

His first foray into kids TV came at an educational station in St. Louis, where he answered an ad for “A man who can talk to a boy, man-to-man.” This daily series, “The Finder,” was later used by the Ford Foundation to introduce public stations to children’s programming – the forerunner of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

In the mid-fifties Sonny landed a show on CBS called “Let’s Take a Trip,” a marvel of live-TV production, using full-size studio cameras that had to be lugged around the globe. Sonny and two young companions visited the Truman Library in Missouri, spring training in Florida with the Dodgers, as well as a rope factory, a shoe factory, and a ski slope in Canada.

Today’s kids can go to such places via the Internet, but back then it was unique, embellished by the smooth, gentle, always curious Mr. Fox. Unlike other kids’ fare of the period – mostly cartoons and slapstick – “Let’s Take a Trip,” which ran for three years, was a product of the CBS News Division. Billboard magazine reviewed this series in 1955, noting: “Like so many good things, ‘Let’s Take a Trip’ is so simple it is only amazing it was not done before.”

CBS gave Sonny a second job, in prime-time, hosting “The $64,000 Challenge.” He didn’t care for it – and wasn’t very good, once reading the answer instead of the question – so getting fired was a piece of good luck. He was spared the quiz show scandals that came a short while later.

In 1959 he took over as host of a local kids show on Channel 5 in New York that became nationally renowned, although televised only in the tri-state area. “Wonderama” was a weekly four-hour children’s festival.

“I have no talent – no performing talent,” Sonny conceded. “I don’t do puppets, I don’t sing. I realized that the kids in the audience were the show. I didn’t condescend to them.”

“Wonderama” was a mix of fun and games, but it featured guests such as producer Joseph Papp and a troupe of Shakespearean performers, opera star Roberta Peters, and regular appearances by Sen. Robert Kennedy, who conducted “press conferences” with youngsters.

Sonny went on to serve as head of children’s programming at NBC, and as chairman of Television Academy, but his legacy lies in what he did for children during the fifties and sixties.

W.C. Fields famously advised performers to never work with animals or kids. It’s a good thing my friend Sonny Fox never got the message. “What a long-lasting thumb print we left on those malleable minds,” he said.

A list of Peter Funt’s upcoming live appearances is available at www.CandidCamera.com.

Peter Funt is a writer and speaker. His book, “Cautiously Optimistic,” is available at Amazon.com and CandidCamera.com. Copyright 2021 Peter Funt. Columns distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate.

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Trading Cards Collect New Fans

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To paraphrase Rudyard Kipling: A good cigar is a smoke, but a cigar box filled with trading cards is a treasure.

My father smoked Dutch Masters Panetelas and the box in which they came was the perfect size for storing baseball and football cards made by the Topps company. Cards came in packs of six, along with a stiff slab of pink bubble gum that had a distinctive sweet smell, while the box, having once held cigars, had a deep earthy scent. In combination the aroma was intoxicating.

With modern digital enhancements, and boosted by pandemic-altered lifestyles, the sports-card business is booming. This month, a single card printed in 1952 by the Topps company, depicting the Yankees rookie sensation Mickey Mantle, sold for a record $5.2 million.

Topps was a family business in Brooklyn, launched in 1938 by Morris Shorin and his four sons. The business, however, was gum—sold for a penny per slab. It wasn’t until 1949 that the Shorins decided they could sell more gum by including “Magic Photo Cards” in the packs, featuring sports stars such as Babe Ruth and Cy Young.

Within three years Topps was producing more than 400 different baseball cards annually. Then, in 1992, after four decades of selling kids candy they no longer wanted, Topps determined it could peddle more cards by eliminating the gum. Besides, buyers hated the fact that, when warm, melting gum stained the valuable cards.

Today’s collectors have more on their minds, as reflected by a recent piece in The Athletic magazine titled, “A guide to football card investing and future speculating.” The focus was on cards produced by Panini, an Italian firm that specialized in selling stickers of soccer stars and expanded to the U.S. in 2009. Having scooped up rights to the NBA and NFL, the company has modernized the trading-card trade and made speculators out of collectors.

Demand is growing for cards manufactured by Panini America and for Topps, which continues to hold rights for Major League Baseball.

As a former collector and current diehard fan, I must say the new card craze leaves me cold. The Athletic reports, “like any investment, speculating on football cards carries risk. But those risks can be minimized given that Panini produces cards for each player in a range of investment levels. Think of these as akin to small-cap, medium-cap and large-cap investments.”

Another recent wrinkle is “box breaks,” in which collectors buy rights to a certain number of cards in a new box or case, usually opened “live” on YouTube or other social media sites. Topps is conducting a Breaker Showcase next month, with “distinguished guests!” and a chance for someone to win the “Platinum Box Cutter!”

In March, Panini will release its newest NFL set: “Six cards per box, 10 boxes per inner case, two inner cases per master case” in what it calls “stunning Optichrome technology.” These are sold at an online auction, with the price starting at $800 and dropping every five minutes until the set sells out.

My allowance used to be 25 cents a week, which bought me 30 Topps cards and five slabs of stale gum. I’m guessing that, even with inflation, today’s kids are priced out of the Panini auction. But, maybe, if they’re lucky, dad will let them play with the box.

A list of Peter Funt’s upcoming live appearances is available at www.CandidCamera.com.

Peter Funt is a writer and speaker. His book, “Cautiously Optimistic,” is available at Amazon.com and CandidCamera.com. Copyright 2021 Peter Funt. Columns distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate.

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Trump’s Game Shouldn’t Fool Anyone

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Donald Trump is trying to win the election with every court challenge and tweet he can muster, but he doesn’t really care how many votes he and Joe Biden wind up getting. That’s because the election Trump is determined to win is in November 2024.

Although Trump and his cable-news enablers mock the polls, Trump has known for some time he wasn’t going to win this year. That was clear months ago as he mounted a crusade against voting by mail – his first salvo in discrediting Biden’s eventual victory.

“Mail-In Ballots will lead to massive electoral fraud and a rigged 2020 Election,” Trump tweeted on July 2. Why would he do that four months before the election if he actually expected to win? And the brouhaha about alleged vote-counting irregularities in Philadelphia, Detroit and other Democratic strongholds is only designed to further enrage Trump’s base when Biden is officially certified as the 46th president.

Trump’s goals: (a) convince those who voted for him that the system is rigged and they were cheated, (b) promote conspiracy theories to undermine Biden’s presidency, (c) energize cable-TV and talk-radio hosts who will promote Trump and his brand for the next four years, and (d) raise money, starting with urgent appeals to fund bogus legal challenges.

Trump is sending multiple emails per day to supporters, such as this on Nov. 10: “We cannot let the Left go unchecked any longer. There are too many irregularities and room for potential DECEPTION to give up now. We need to FIGHT BACK, but we can’t do it without your help.”

According to Axios and other news outlets, Trump is expected to hold campaign-style rallies in the coming weeks. If he does, his 2024 re-re-election bid will have begun.

In his acceptance speech in 2016, Trump said, “Ours was not a campaign but rather an incredible and great movement.” In a twisted way, that’s not unlike the approach Bernie Sanders took when he lost the nomination to Hillary Clinton. Sanders spent the next four years building a powerful grassroots movement among progressives who believed they had been cheated by Clinton’s forces. They were encouraged by talk shows like “The Young Turks,” and by the time campaigning began again in 2019 Sanders had what many believed to be the best shot at securing the nomination.

Trump just got over 71 million votes – a number that no amount of recounting will change – creating a powerful base for 2024. Many Trump voters are angry. Everything he’s doing now is designed to reinforce that anger so that it survives as a “movement.”

Even as he emailed that the race with Biden wasn’t over, Trump formed what’s known as a leadership political action committee. Such PACs can accept up to $5,000 per year from each donor. While the money can’t be used to directly fund a campaign in 2024, it will be available for travel and other expenses as Trump charts his course to retake the White House.

In 2024 Trump will turn the same age as Biden will be when he takes the oath of office: 78. Many have speculated that Biden will step down after one term at age 82, presumably making possible a run by Kamala Harris to replace him. I imagine that’s a fight Trump would relish.

That said, American politics are increasingly tough to predict. Four years is a long time. The nation faces so many problems right now that even thinking about scenarios four years out is folly.

But those watching Trump’s current post-election circus act should understand what’s up. The man isn’t trying to stay in office, he’s looking for a way to get back. As he said upon winning in 2016: “While the campaign is over, our work on this movement is now really just beginning.”

That’s how Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and others at their network will cast it. To them, Trump will always be crazy like a Fox.

A list of Peter Funt’s upcoming live appearances is available at www.CandidCamera.com.

Peter Funt is a writer and speaker. His book, “Cautiously Optimistic,” is available at Amazon.com and CandidCamera.com. Copyright 2020 Peter Funt. Columns distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate.

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