Friday, November 26, 2010

"Have a Knife Day"

By Jerry Zezima

The Stamford Advocate

I am proud and slightly flummoxed to say that I have done some incredibly stupid things in my life, which is why I am not considered the sharpest knife in the drawer. And I proved it recently when I was a target for a knife thrower known as the Great Throwdini.

Throw, as he is called by his many friends and admirers in the impalement arts, is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the world’s fastest and most accurate knife thrower. According to his website,, he received magic’s highest honor, the coveted Merlin Award, in 2009; he is the only artist to perform the Veiled Wheel of Death; and he has made many television appearances, the most recent being humorist Bill Geist’s profile of him on “CBS News Sunday Morning.” His slogan: “Throwetry in Motion.”

Because Throw lives a knife’s throw from my house on Long Island, N.Y., I arranged to pay him a visit and, for once, do something that wasn’t pointless.

The first thing I noticed about Throw is that he wears glasses.

“I’m blind as a bat without them,” he admitted.

I gulped. What was I getting myself into? Even more unnerving, what would be getting into me?

But Throw took great pains, so to speak, to put me at ease. His real name is the Rev. Dr. David R. Adamovich. He is a minister in a nondenominational Christian church. “I’ve never had to give anyone last rites,” he assured me.

He also has a doctorate in exercise physiology and for 18 years was a college professor of electrocardiography.

“I didn’t get into knife throwing until I was 50,” said Throw, who is 64.

He is so good that he can throw 10 knives in 3.9 seconds. Even more impressive is that he performs with a Target Girl who stands against a board or is attached to a spinning wheel while Throw throws knives that land within inches of her.

“It’s fun,” said Lynn Wheat, one of Throw’s several Target Girls. Lynn, 27, who teaches theatrical carpentry on the college level, said she enjoys motorcycles and fast cars, adding: “I like to do crazy things.”

One of them was being on the Wheel of Death for the “Sunday Morning” segment. As the wheel spun with Lynn attached to it, Throw tossed the tools of his trade. When the wheel stopped, Lynn was closely surrounded by a chilling array of large, glistening knives.

“My mother saw it on TV,” Lynn related. “Her only complaint was that I showed too much cleavage.”

I wasn’t showing anything except the tiniest hint of sheer panic as the three of us headed up to the attic, where I was about to make my debut -- but not, thank God, my farewell -- as a Target Boy.

“What advice would you give me?” I asked Lynn.

“Go with the flow,” she answered.

“Of blood?” I stammered.

Lynn shook her head and smiled. She said I should enjoy the experience and have complete confidence in Throw. “I do,” she said. “And I’m still here.”

She was still there after Throw stood her against a 6-foot-high, 4-foot-wide red wooden board and threw eight 14-inch knives around her in rapid succession from a distance of 7 feet. Then she turned sideways and clenched a black cocktail straw between her teeth as one of Throw’s 16-inch knives snapped off the spangled tip.

Next it was my turn to throw knives -- but not at Lynn, who wisely had no confidence in me. Throw showed me how to hold a knife, cock my arm and release the fearsome implement. My first one thudded off the board, but most of my subsequent throws stuck firmly in the wood.

“You’re good,” Throw said. “Now comes the real test.”

I stood with my back to the board and looked straight at Throw. A strange sense of calm pervaded me. Thwap-thwap-thwap-thwap went the knives to my left; thwap-thwap-thwap-thwap to my right, the closest impaled 3 inches from my ear.

“You didn’t flinch,” Throw said. “You’re an excellent Target Boy.”

Just call me the Great Throwdummy.

Copyright 2010 by Jerry Zezima

Friday, November 12, 2010

"It's About Time"

By Jerry Zezima

The Stamford Advocate

I was born more than three weeks past my due date and haven’t been on time for anything since. In fact, I have such a reputation for tardiness that people have said I will be late to my own funeral, which is fine with me because I am in no big hurry to get there.

From the day I entered this world, I have been the late Jerry Zezima. But now, at long last, there may be hope for me.

It comes in the form of a study that has just been released by my favorite mad scientist, Dr. Alan Hirsch, founder and neurological director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago.

In the study, “Effects of Odor on Time Perception,” Hirsch found that the smell of baby powder can make time seem shorter, while the smell of Colombian coffee can make time seem longer.

I use baby powder because a boy just likes to feel pretty, and I drink coffee because a geezer just needs to stay awake, but since I am always running late, I had never taken the time to smell them. So I called Hirsch to get up to snuff on his latest scientific breakthrough.

Hirsch, the author of several books, including the recently published “How to Tell If Your Teenager Is Lying,” said that, like me, he is notorious for being late.

“I’m always running behind,” he acknowledged. “Maybe I should put baby powder out for my co-workers to make it seem like I’m on time.”

The people in Hirsch’s study wore surgical masks that had the scent of either baby powder or Colombian coffee. They didn’t do anything they would ordinarily like or dislike. Instead, they sat in chairs while Hirsch recorded their perceptions of the time that had elapsed. But the masks could work in everyday situations, he said.

“If you are doing something pleasurable, like eating chocolate cake or having social interaction of an intimate nature, you could put on the coffee mask and you will perceive time to be longer,” said Hirsch. “Of course, it’s tough to eat cake while wearing a surgical mask,” he admitted. “And the mask may discourage further social interaction. But it could be fun to try.”

Conversely, the smell of baby powder can make a bad experience, like waiting in a doctor’s office, seem shorter. “It could be part of the new health-care initiative,” Hirsch suggested. “Unfortunately, it wouldn’t work with my patients because they can’t smell.”

I can smell -- and often do if I don’t use baby powder -- so Hirsch mailed me two scented masks. “You can use them to conduct your own study,” he said.

After they arrived, I was going to ask my wife to have social interaction with me while I wore the coffee mask, but I thought better of it. So I wore it while watching a football game. It went into overtime. Or at least it seemed like it did.

The next morning, I wore the baby powder mask so I wouldn’t be late for work. The main reason I am always running behind is that I take long showers, but since the mask would get wet, I put it on afterward. I took it off to have breakfast and put it on again to get dressed.

The morning seemed to fly by and I left the house a little earlier than usual. I had to stop at the bank, so I took the mask off because I didn’t want to get arrested, which really would have made me late for work.

Unfortunately, after I ran my errand, I hit a lot of traffic, which I tried to avoid by taking an alternate route. I got lost and arrived at the office 15 minutes past my start time.

As we tardy people always say, better late than never.

Copyright 2010 by Jerry Zezima