So, among the mysteries of the universe, right up there with who built Stonehenge and if there really is a Loch Ness Monster is this:

Why the heck did Mr. and Mrs. Howell pack so many clothes for a three-hour tour?

See, the Skipper and Gilligan knew they didnít need any clothes and so have the same wardrobe on for each episode of the entire three-year series run. Now, that Professor guy was a kick: He could take a few stalks of bamboo, some coconuts, palm leaves and vines and make an electrical generator for the radioÖbut he couldnít fix the hole in the S.S. Minnow.

Things that make you go, HmmmÖ

You may be interested to know also that the character of the Skipper, as played by Alan Hale Jr., was named Jonas Grumby. The Professorís name was Roy Hinkley, as played by Russell Johnson. Gilliganís name, in pre-film concept, was Willy Gilligan, though this is never mentioned on the show and the debate rages on in some castaway circles as to whether Gilligan was his first or last name.

Hereís another thing: How come the Korean war only lasted three years, but M*A*S*H lasted 11 years?

You know youíre getting old when you know those kinds of things, yet you donít recognize a single name on Billboardís current Top 40 charts.

When I was in radio programming a music format I knew such things. I was right on top of it when Joshua Kadison came out, and the Cranberries and was there when Boston came back, March Cohn made his debut and Poco was revived from the dead.

I listen to the radio these days and I canít figure out for the life of me what the heck is going on. Whatís Nickelback? Staind? Weezer? Oh, wait, thereís Goo Goo Dolls, thatís a name I recognize. And Rod Stewart, heís still around? Oh, look, itís Bruce Hornsby and the Range. And Sheryl Crow. Oh, thereís ÖDeath Cab for Cutie? Disturbed? A band called My Chemical Romance? Isnít that some sort of admission of guilt?

And they thought the Beatles were corrupting American youth. Jeesh.

My girl and I were discussing how some folks quite a bit older than us noted that half the time they donít have a clue what advertisers are trying to sell in television commercials. After thinking about this and watching for a little while, we realized we usually donít have a clue, either. Sometimes television commercials donít seem to be selling anything, the companies buy them just to waste money on 30 seconds of insane visuals and chaotic noise. Most of my columns make more sense, and thatís saying a mouthful, you know.

Iím just getting old and cranky, I guess. It didnít bother me when I was younger that Mr. and Mrs. Howell had more clothes with them than the Minnow could have carriedÖbut it bugs the absolute dogmeat out of me today that Capital One thinks Iíd get one of their credit cards based on a bunch of marauding barbarians shooting Christmas ornamental reindeer with crossbows. Please.

So in desperation I turn to the educational channels in the hope that the commercials will be geared to a slightly more intelligent audience, but alas, there is no hope. I was watching Biography on A&E last night, learning more about the Swedish musical group Abba than any human being ought to be forced to know, and found the commercials were just as dumb as those on Spike. If itís not Toyota, Kia or Mercedes trying to sell us a vehicle that costs more than my house, itís Bob, whoís living large and laughing easy these days, or the other Bob, who was hired to push sub sandwiches despite the fact that he has no teeth and must be digitally manipulated to speak. One wonders if Bob and Bob are father and son and if Papa Bob also, perhaps, is digitally manipulated. Never mind.

Wanna know what my favorite channels are: Boomerang and Cartoon Network. Why? Because theyíre the only ones that make sense. Yeah, thatís right. Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Tweety and Yosemite Sam make way more sense than anything on primetime television these days. CSI-DD: Daffy Duck would be a blockbuster, I guarantee.

I do watch a lot of the Sci-Fi channel when thereís something good on, something better than anything resembling something called DinoCroc or Caved In: Prehistoric Terror.

I like the Food Network but I gain too much weight when I watch it. I like National Geographic Traveler and there was a particularly good series called Hay Cove about modern families trying to live like they would have in the early 1900s fishing cod off the coast of New Foundland. One of the reality-show participants is a 14-year-old girl who would much rather be talking on the cell phone and sending text messages, but is stuck with Mary Ann, a 75-year-old overbearing matriarchal figure in the house and a dad who has visions of homesteading and says things like, "I think Anna will benefit from this, it will build her character as a young woman." Meanwhile, Mary Ann is complaining loudly that Anna doesnít pull her weight around the community and Anna is just biding her time for when nobody is looking and she can roll Mary Ann off a cliff into the ocean. The other familyís wifey gets up in the morning, fixes breakfast, milks cows and slaughters chickens, makes a dozen bars of lye soap, does the wash in the surf, shoots down a flock of migrating geese with a slingshot, cleans and dresses them, sharpens all the kitchen knives with a foot-driven whetstone, mends the roof and puts up four crates of onions, all before lunch. During all this, the merchant comes by to drop off supplies, which Annaís dad estimates will require he catch four tons of cod with hook and line to pay for.

Thatís reality, boys and girls.

Meanwhile, though, weíll probably never know how the Howells got all those clothes aboard the Minnow, including Thurstonís golf clubs and polo outfit. Some things, perhaps, are not meant to be known.