Free To Be… You And Me – A Lesson

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Having briefly touched on Free To Be… You And Me in my last post, I wandered over to the glorious video archive of YouTubia and watched a few segments of the film, briefly reliving my elementary school days where we were first introduced to Marlo Thomas and friends through a reel-to-reel filmstrip while sitting cross-legged (back then known as sittin’ “Indian-style”).  It wasn’t class, it was almost like watching a movie, so we grooved to the already outdated music and watched people whose celebrity power had dimmed before my generation had grown cognizant enough to learn to keep our nose-pickings private. (Stupid rules of social etiquette.)

Now, almost twenty-five years since I first saw the film, that time capsule of charming yet corny childhood lessons has new meaning.  Yes, the music is still outdated, and yes, Michael Jackson looks normal in his song-and-dance scene with the talented Ms. Flack, but holy cow!  How in the world did I not realize back then that Marlo Thomas was incredibly hot?  Phil Donahue, you stud!  That Girl, indeed.

I’ve also learned new lessons from old friends.  Do you recall the segment where our noble heroine, Tender Sweet Young Thing, learned a thing or two about being uppity?  If not, here’s a refresher:

As children we were supposed to come away with 1.) A fear of tigers dressed like raccoons, and 2.) An appreciation for the comeuppance of those who are rude and arrogant.  But, as an adult, I’ve finally learned the real list of lessons:

  • Don’t be proud of who you are, for you will be killed.
  • Even those whose tires are less inflated with hubris are left to die (the video never explains their fate).
  • Consequently, since your time is short no matter the social niceties you’ve mastered, you might as well go hog-wild and set free your inner-Tender Sweet Young Thing.  Besides, she was the only happy one in the bunch.
  • Mangoes are the ambrosia of Satan: eat one and bring doom down on your group.
  • Tigers wear jerseys.

Frankly, I’m not sure how I missed such wisdom the first time around.

“It’s All Right to Cry” – My Secret Shame

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Rosey Grier, unfortunate, disillusioned man, was wrong about his most famous song, but that’s okay.  A lot of people are wrong about many things; and me, I’m right about most everything.  That’s okay, too.  But, despite Rosey’s misunderstanding, I have to admit that although my desktop (computer-wise and plain ol’) is adorned with photos of Auggy smiling and laughing, my favorite pictures are the ones where we catch him scrunching his cute face up for a monster of a wail.

Sorry, buddy.  Love ya’ lots and all, but right now your baby-sized frustrations make me chuckle.  And who wouldn’t laugh with delight at the following?

Poor kiddo.  You’re stuck with me.

Un(Del)ightful News

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

In a sad turn of events, recently married and longtime civil rights advocate, Del Martin, died yesterday.  On June 16th of this year, after 55 years together, Del and her partner, Phyllis Lyon, were finally, legally wed.  I’m thrilled they got the chance to do so after so many decades of discrimination and bigotry, and that their nuptials were celebrated before Ms. Martin passed away.  I only hope the rest of the country soon follows the lead of California and Massachusettes and allows all of its people to marry.

Rest in peace, Del.

A Brittle Lump of Green Mills

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

So, does anyone in the Kansas City area remember the Green Mills Candy Factory?  Or, as I like to refer to it, the Green Mills Candy Factory of Repugnance and Disappointment?  That second title, the true one, you probably wouldn’t think that way about a place that makes chocolate.  You’d be wrong, and let me tell you why.

For those of you not “in the know” (which usually includes me–except in my blog, where I happen to know everything, and can edit posts later on in case I don’t), the Green Mills Candy Factory of Repugnance and Disappointment was a local maker of chocolates and other teeth-rotting goodies, holing up somewhere near the Plaza.  I think.  I mean, yes, I know it was a candy factory (of repugnance and disappointment), and I know it was in Kansas City, but I can’t swear that it was in or near the Plaza.  I just remember it that way, so there.

In an attempt to foster generations of addicts, Green Mills used to offer tours to groups of kids.  “Come hither yon Boy Scouts, elementary soldiers, and migrant labor off-spring!  Come see our treats and delight in our secret home base for the nefarious Captain Cavity!” It’s possible, however, they didn’t say it that way, and probably just stuck up a sign saying, “Tours open to the public.”  But my recollection is better.

One Spring day my elementary school in Prairie Village decided to load us impressionable yoots on to a giant yellow metal Twinkie (sure, call it a bus, but it’s lunch and I’m hungry) and field trip us all the way over to the Green Mills Candy… you know.  We got to see how they mixed the chocolates and poured the chocolates and cut the chocolates and separate the chocolates and lovingly tongue the chocolates and package the chocolates and otherwise prepare them for shipment.  So, we spend an hour–maybe two–wandering around the factory, listening to some middle-aged PR guy blather on about the factory’s history, its output, the people who work there, and yada.  All we wanted, however, was for the tour to end so that we could score ourselves the inevitable reward for acting decent and not setting fire to the place.  It’s a candy factory, right, so we’re bound to get candy as a treat (luckily, the next month’s field trip to the sperm bank was indefinitely postponed).

The tour, thankfully, comes to an inglorious and boring end.  Still, we were excited.  Candy!  Finally!  Would it be the fudge, or the chocolate malt balls, or the long-lasting chocolate suckers, or the three-course-meal chewing gum (some of us wanted to turn into giant blueberries)?

None of the above.

Seriously.  Know what we ended up with?  Go ahead.  Guess.

No, not that.  Not that, either. (I told you the trip to the sperm bank was postponed.)

Peanut brittle.  Yeah, you read that right: pea-the fucking-nut brittle.  That foul, stick-to-your-teeth plasticine-like concoction of dog poop and sugar.  It was a candy factory, not some proto-Abu Ghraib where good children who didn’t maim anyone don’t get their ration of cocoa bean goodness, but you couldn’t tell by the events of that day.  What’s worse is that they handed each of us a bag of treasure, tightly sealed and not to be opened until we left the factory.

We didn’t find out about their depravity until we were on the bus on the way home! See?  Seeeee the repugance and the disappointment?  There was no chocolate, no gum drops, no anything resembling sweetness and light.  Just pain and misery; so-called “candy” not even fit for violent dictators or politicians.

My inner-child is forever wounded by that unhappy memory, unable to heal because the factory is no longer in business; I can no longer invade the place, ninja-style in the middle of the night, and gobble up whatever chocolate to be found so my soul could mend from the terrible, destructive damage.  My salvation, wrest from my hands long before I could buy a ninja suit over the Internet.  Oh, how I weep for such travesty.

Alas, alas.

Chihuahua Freak

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

In the beginning, I was afraid.  A mad–very mad–chihuahua had killed my father, and I wasn’t sure I could ever have faith in nature’s Taco Bell canine ever again.  Once that trust is broken, once a two-inch-high ball of pointy ears and fur rends a relative in twain, you can see where the relationship would sour.

Plus, I was never a fan of tacos.

In the end, however, I was won over by two things: 1.) a nifty inheritance (thanks, Dad!), and 2.) a web log reaching out to me and others like me.  A blog dedicated to proving to the world that chihuahuas, although fiercer than pit bulls and deadlier than poodles (truth: poodles are pissed underneath all those foofy haircuts), are sweetness and light.  Catch them at the right moment, even, and you’ll see their softer side of Sears: wearing ties, playing drums, sporting shirts with skulls on the front…  er.

Also, the blog owner rocks the guitar and is hot. Sometimes, that’s just how things are.

Fun With Octopodes

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

From News of the Weird:

Higher-Order Animal Research: Britain’s Sea Life Centre announced a study in July that would give octopuses Rubik’s Cubes to play with, to ascertain whether they use a certain tentacle for such activities, or any tentacle at random. [Daily Mail (London), 7-7-08]

An hour later (if memories of childhood serve correctly)…

Observers were stunned when hidden cameras filmed one octopus making off with his Rubik’s Cube into a dark corner.  Further investigation revealed his tentacles were covered in brightly colored square stickers.  “What?” he asked when questioned.  “They just came off.  I wasn’t trying to cheat!”

My Mom’s A Babe

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Because, you know, Dad’s hurt feelings are what’s really keeping me from banging Mom.

I Heart Jocasta

(I Heart Jocasta)

Today’s Public Service Announcement

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Am I the meanest?


Am I the prettiest?


Am I the baddest mofo, low-down around this town?


Well, who am I?


Who am I?


I can’t hear you!


–This message proudly brought to you by Shogun of Harlem productions.

Twenty-Two Year-Old Mystery

Monday, August 4th, 2008

In 1986, a man cried out in pain, and the world was introduced to an unsolvable mystery unlike anything ever seen before.

Twenty-two years ago, in a courtroom drama unparalleled to this day, a man in a vertically-striped suit sat in the witness stand and tried to explain to the nosy prosecutor how his life had been destroyed by passion-gone-wrong.  Although the witness tried to keep his cool under the baleful gaze of the judge and voyeuristic curiosity of the jurors, he eventually broke down under questioning and started darting around the courtroom yelling at the judge (emulating a gun with his fingers as an implied threat) and sliding back and forth in front of the jury box.  Later, as the transcripts were studied to find out just what went wrong, it was discovered that the witness had acted out under repeat pressure from the prosecutor to answer one simple question.

“Who is Johnny?”

The prosecutor, however, was playing her own game that day, one that still puzzles law historians.  According to one witness, an Ally S., the prosecutor asked about Johnny’s identity and then tried to look the other way.  “But,” added Ally S., “her eyes gave her away.”

The witness, El D., was enraged by this behavior and yelled out, “My heart’s in overdrive, and it’s great to be alive!”

Stunned silence.  What did he mean, the jury wondered.  The jury foreman, a Steve G., recalled his attempt to be emphatic.  “I tried to understand because I’m people, too.  And playing games is part of human nature.”

But the prosecutor was having no part of it; she continued to question El D. by repeating over and over again, “Who’s Johnny?”

“It was horrible,” said Steve G.  “Each time she brought up the question, she tried to look the other way, still pretending.  Is that any way for an official of the court to act?

Apparently, El D.’s frail body couldn’t withstand the mental pressure, and he started flailing wildly about the courtroom, shouting out that he was in pain. After the prosecutor asked about Johnny for the fourteenth time, El D. gasped aloud, “There she goes and knows I’m dying when she says ‘Who is-who-who is-Who’s Johnny?'”  It was obvious he was in medical danger, evidenced by his sudden issues with stuttering.

In a peculiar moment one could only assume was strategy,  the prosecutor inserted a videotape into a VCR and started watching television, completely ignoring the witness.

“I was astounded,” Ally S. remembered.  “I know this girl was only teasing.”

Sadly, a fire started near the judge’s desk and in the ensuing confusion, the witness snuck out of the courtroom, never to be seen again.  Twenty-two years later, no one knows just who Johnny is.  But thanks to a recently discovered canister of film, we can now take a peek at the events of that obscure day in legal history.  Special thanks go to the History Channel for allowing us to show this clip: