Thursday, July 02, 2015

Come for the Bugs. Stay for the Rudeness.


The reason I’m not very good at reviewing things is that I’m simply not that picky. If I go to a movie, I’ll usually enjoy it to some degree. Take me to a restaurant and I’ll clean my plate every time. Frankly, I’m just happy to be there. And so when I tell you that the Hacienda in Escondido, California is the worst motel I’ve ever stayed in, well, you can take that to the bank.

First of all, it wasn’t the ants in the sink. This, I know, might freak out some of you more delicate types, but as for me, who cares? There were less than a dozen of them anyway. And as for the bug crawling around the bathtub? Big deal. As my mom used to say, “How much can one bug eat?”

No, the problems that make the Hacienda so unappealing go way beyond these minor annoyances. It should have been a hint when I could barely stay in the office when checking in because of the nearly overwhelming stench of curry. Is that a politically incorrect thing to say? Sorry, my mistake. It actually smelled like a field of lavender. Mmmmm.

Once in the room it didn’t take long to notice that the air-conditioner, while functional, was held together with strips of masking tape. And the drawers under the bathroom sink were both broken and jutting out at awkward angles. Which is fine, I suppose, since I didn’t have to the courage to pry them open to see what might be lurking in them anyway.

In a shower the dial usually turns left for hot water and right for cold. At the Hacienda the dial just went round and round and round. And hot water? Forget it. But perhaps the most bizarre aspect of my room at the Hacienda was the overhead light. It kept coming on right over our bed, every few hours, all night long.

My wife and I never did figure out if the light was motion-activated or was just popping on at random intervals. At one point I dragged a chair over to the bed and stood on it, figuring I could cleverly solve the problem by unscrewing the light bulb. But there was no light bulb, just a grid of small lights in what looked like a futuristic shower head. Wouldn’t you know it, the only modern thing in the motel and it had to be that!

You know, all of these things could have been little more than the ingredients to an amusing story, and I might have left the Hacienda laughing rather than fuming. But no, it was the almost inconceivable rudeness of the manager that solidified my vow that I would write about this dump. It was eleven o’clock at night and I saw the manager was speaking to another guest at the night window. And so I went to the room, and returned to the manager’s window a few minutes later.

Upon checking in the manager had given me a slip of paper with the code for the Wi-Fi. I later noticed that one of the letters was indecipherable. To me it looked more like a symbol you’d find on an Egyptian pyramid than anything I’d ever seen associated with the alphabet.  “Try an “o,” a friend had suggested, which I later did. No dice. And so as the manager slid open the window I pointed to the cryptic letter and asked him what it was. At first he just glared at me, and then he spoke:

“What is wrong with you?” he said. “That is clearly an “r.”
Admittedly I was shocked, but not too shocked to reply.
“Not the way I write, it isn’t,” I said more calmly than you might expect. And before I left him I wanted to confirm that another letter was indeed an “s” and not a “5.”
“So this is an “s”? I asked. He glared at me and didn’t say a word. And so I asked him again. Finally, on the third try he barked, “Yes, that is an “s.”
And so I bid him goodnight.

Oh, and as a sort of final farewell, the fire alarm outside our room started clanging at seven the next morning. Thank you and come again, it didn’t seem to be saying. 



Friday, June 19, 2015




Want Some More?



Bang! Zoom! The Honeymooners Quiz



I feel like such a traitor. For years I held onto the belief with unshakable faith that The Honeymooners was the best situation comedy ever. I even wore a t-shirt with Ralph Kramden’s face on it. Then Seinfeld came along and my faith came tumbling down like the walls of Jericho.

Oh, I know it’s unfair to compare the two shows. They’re apples and oranges from two different eras. And I suspect that even Jerry himself would admit that without The Honeymooners, with its four hilarious leads and coterie of quirky minor characters, there would be no Seinfeld. Or at least it wouldn’t have been as good as it was.

And yet my guilt is compounded by the fact that at this late date I haven’t written a quiz about what to me is the second greatest TV comedy of all time. I feel I  have to do something to alleviate that guilt. And so here, at long last, is my salute to Ralph, Alice, Ed and Trixie. Long may they run! (Or drive a bus.)


1. Where did the Kramdens live?
a. Manhattan
b. The Bronx
c. Brooklyn
d. Staten Island

2. What was Ralph’s lodge?
a. The Water Buffaloes
b. The Raccoons
c. The Wildebeests
d. The Porcupines

3.  What was Alice’s maiden name?
a. Murphy
b. Manicotti
c. Gibson
d. O’Dell

4. Which animated show was based on The Honeymooners?
a. The Flintstones
b. Top Cat
c. Jetsons
d. King of the Hill

5. What was Trixie’s actual first name?
a. Trudy
b. Thelma
c. Trixie
d. It is never said

6. What is Ed Norton’s middle name?
a. J
b. Marigold
c. Lillywhite
d. Lancelot

7. On which street did Ralph mainly drive his bus?
a. Broadway
b. Fifth Avenue
c. Madison Avenue
d. 42nd Street

8. Which was not one of Ralph’s get-rich-quick ideas?
a. Wallpaper that glows in the dark
b. Low-cal pizza
c. A uranium field in New Jersey
d. Quadruple-decker buses

9. For how many seasons did The Honeymooners run?
a. One
b. Two
c. Three
d. Four

10. Who has not played Alice Kramden?
a. Pert Kelton
b. Joi Lansing
c. Sue Ann Langdon
d. Sheila MacRae



ANSWERS

1. Ralph and Alice live at 328 Chauncey Street in BROOKLYN. Ralph worked in Manhattan, driving a bus for the Gotham Bus Company.
2. Ralph and Ed were members of the Loyal Order of RACOONS Lodge.  Woo-woo!
3. Alice’s maiden name was GIBSON.  She has a sister named Agnes and a mother with whom Ralph and Alice lived with for six years.
4. THE FLINTSTONES was based on The Honeymooners. Jackie Gleason even considered a lawsuit, but later admitted that he didn’t want to be known as the guy who “knocked Fred Flintstone off the air.”
5. THELMA. Trixie was first played by Elaine Stritch in a sketch, and was a former burlesque dancer. In one of the “lost episodes” Ed says that every night he’d go backstage and give Trixie a rose. “It was her costume!” The character was made more wholesome when Joyce Randolph took over the role.
6. Ed Norton’s middle name is LILLYWHITE. We also know that Ed served in the Navy and spent his G.I. Bill money to attend typing school. He ended up, of course, working as a New York City sewer worker.
7. Although in the show Ralph is never seen driving a bus, he did so up and down MADISON AVENUE. His pay was $62 a week.
8. Ralph never mentioned QUADRUPLE-DECKER BUSES, although knowing his penchant for get-rich schemes it wouldn’t be a surprise to find out that he had at least thought about them
9. ONE. The Honeymooners premiered on October 1, 1955. It was at first a ratings success, even occasionally topping competitor I Love Lucy, but ultimately was no match for the popular Perry Como Show. The final episode aired on September 22, 1956.
10. Although Audrey Meadows is the best known Alice Kramden, the part was also played by each of these women, except film and television actress JOI LANSING. Interestingly, Audrey Meadows was the last actress to play Alice, as she had returned to the role for four Honeymooners television specials in 1976 - 1978

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Asylum


This is an odd and funny little story. I rented a movie the other night called Asylum. I’m not sure why. It was a horror film, which is generally something I stay away from unless it’s a good old-fashioned ghost story. And these, sadly are very rare.

I wish I had read the back story on this movie before I started watching it, but I didn’t. And so I was confused almost from the start. To be sure, the story that had been described in the blurb was right there, when a hostage negotiator and his team are called to an insane asylum because the inmates have taken over the place, and haven’t we all worked in places like that?

Well, they haven’t just taken over the place, in some mild administrational way, but were actually killing and mutilating folks. Sure it was bloody and gory and gruesome, and not really my cup of tea. But then the film kept cutting back to an editing bay where two editors were actually watching the movie. The premise was that this was footage was from a film shoot and it was their job to whip it into something decent. “This is unwatchable,” said one of the editors. But of course they continued to watch it anyway.

And not only did they continue to watch it, but they made comments over the film besides. Funny comments that were clearly an imitation of the classic Mystery Science Theater 3000. And that’s when I became confused. Did these people actually go through the trouble and expense of producing an entire horror movie just so they could make jokes over it? It didn’t seem likely. And so I finished watching it, not really appreciating it because I didn’t know what was going on. And then I went to the Internet.

Here’s what happened. The writer of the horror movie, Chris Mancini, had handed in his script, only to be told the movie was going to be shot in Bulgaria, in an attempt to save money. The director in Bulgaria supposedly used almost none of Mancini’s script, save for the title. The result was, as the wise-cracking editor said, unwatchable. The production company decided that there was only one way to save the movie.

And so once again Chris Mancini hit the keyboard, but this time he was writing comedy. He borrowed the MST3K premise and created the storyline of the two editors watching and making fun of this horrible film, along with scenes with some other employees, and a crazed boss, around the office of the production company.

The IMDB rating for Asylum is an even three stars out of ten, and that’s probably about right. Still, I think that if I knew the back story going in, I might have enjoyed the movie more. The jokes, of course, were not up to MST3K level, but some of them made me laugh out loud. Had I gone in knowing the details of how this strange little movie-within-a-movie came to be I would have been able to fully appreciate what was, after all, a rather humorous situation. Hell, I night have even given it four stars.

Oh incidentally, the film starred both an Academy Award-nominated actor and the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL. So there you go.




Jumping on the Ol’ Bandwagon


He had a point, my friend in Seattle. He posted that in all the time he had used Facebook he had never seen any Californian reference the Golden State Warriors. Not even once. And now, as the Bay Area basketball team headed into the finals there seemed to be a dozen or so new mentions of them every day.

It took balls for my friend to charge all these people with the crime of jumping on the bandwagon, because he had been accused just two years earlier of doing the exact same thing. Back then he suddenly began acting as if he had been a fan of the Seahawks, who were now headed to the Super Bowl, from the moment he came out of the womb. Actually, my friend had always been a Miami Dolphin fan, and I knew it. “Don’t sprain your ankle jumping onto that bandwagon!” I had posted at the time.

Still, you have to cut the guy some slack. How could he, how could anybody, not get caught in the excitement when you happen to be living in a city whose team has become that year’s champions? And why should you? Loyalty is nice, but your team has been on vacation for weeks. Where’s the fun in sitting in the corner pouting when all around you people are joyously celebrating each new victory that the home team, your home team, accumulates? There isn’t any, that’s where.

We have two professional football teams, two baseball teams and a basketball team here in the Bay Area, and I cheer for them all. Well, except for the Raiders. Ugh. In fact, last baseball season I rooted for the Oakland Athletics for the entire season, a team which in August had the best record in the majors. And I continued to root for them all through their end of the season collapse, one of the most dramatic in history. It was only then that I realized that our other team, the Giants, had made the play-offs. And so I rooted for them, right up to the day they won the World Series.

It’s a little different with the Warriors, however. I’ve never had much interest in basketball. And even this year, during the finals, I watched perhaps the last three minutes of five of the games. And that fifteen minutes of basketball viewing was fifteen minutes more than my total basketball viewing time over the last thirty years. Still, I found the games, or at least the endings, quite exciting, and my stomach was as knotted as if I had been rooting for them since they last won the championship, forty years earlier. I even learned a little something about the game. I mean, aside from the fact that I don’t think I’ll be watching it much over the next thirty years.

Underneath it all, though, I don’t believe that we bandwagon jumpers get quite the same reward, the same thrill, as do long-time loyal fans. In their mind they have earned their victory, after suffering through years and years of disappointment. And I think they’re right. In fact, I know it, based on my own experience as a kid.

I was a die-hard Mets fan in the 1960’s and that was not an easy thing to be. From 1962 through 1968 the New York Mets had never finished higher than ninth place, in what was then a ten-team league. At the end of every game I would get out my plastic label maker and punch out a “W” or an “L” (depending on how the Metropolitans had fared that day) and stick the appropriate letter onto the season schedule that hung over my bed. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that over those long years I nearly wore out the “L” on that label maker.

And then it was 1969 and the team that had never even come close to being winners became the Miracle Mets. I punched out 100 “W”’s that season, and added more during the post season. And when the last out of the World Series was recorded I felt a joy that has, in my experience, rarely been equaled. Now, it’s possible that I would have felt just as ecstatic if, like millions of other New Yorkers, I had jumped onto the Mets bandwagon only after they had begun their victorious march through that improbable and glorious year. But I doubt it.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Brady Bunch Movie: A Groovy and Neato Quiz


You know what bugs me about you? It’s been over twenty years since The Brady Bunch Movie came out, and you still don’t appreciate it. Well, I’m here to tell you that not only is it the best parody of a television show I’ve ever seen, it’s also one of my all-time favorite comedies.

I suspect that part of the problem is that you, and others like you, thought this was just a cinematic version of that oh-so-cloying and annoying program from the 1970’s. And if that’s the case, I can’t really blame you. But it’s not, I swear to you.  Listen, if you liked The Brady Bunch, you will probably like this movie. But if you hated the show, as I did, then you’ll love this movie.

I just watched The Brady Bunch Movie for the sixth or seventh time, and I’m still picking up jokes that I had missed during earlier viewings. For example, there was a reference to the Brady’s dog, which suddenly disappeared in the early days of the TV show. You remember him, don’t you? His name was—but wait. Why don’t you tell me what his name was?


1. Which cast member of the original show did not appear in The Brady Bunch Movie?
a. Barry Williams
b. Florence Henderson
c. Eve Plumb
d. Ann B. Davis

2. Which musical icon did Marcia try to get to appear at the dance?
a. Ringo Starr
b. Tony Orlando
c. Davy Jones
d. Wayne Newton

3. Which Brady did high school student Noreen have a crush on?
a. Greg
b. Peter
c. Mike
d. Marcia

4. In the movie, Mrs. Brady wonders aloud whatever happened to their dog. What was his name?
a. Tiger
b. Booty
c. Lancelot
d. Muggins

5. What did Marcia’s date Doug say when he saw her disfigured nose?
a. Let’s do this another time, like never.
b. Call me when it heals.
c. It’s not your nose I’m after.
d. Suddenly Jan is looking pretty good.

6. What was the name of the trucker who picks up Jan?
a. Florence
b. Shultzy
c. Alice
d. Large Marge

7. Who are Rick Copp, Laurence Elehwany, Bonnie Turner and Terry Turner?
a. Actors who played four of the Brady kids
b. The Bradys’ neighbors
c. The musicians at the school dance
d. They wrote the damn movie.

8. Which is not true about Mr. Dittmeyer and Cindy Brady?
a. Mr. Dittmeyer called Cindy “Bad Seed.”
b. Mr. Dittmeyer told Cindy to “Hop back onto the Swiss Miss package where you belong.”
c. Mr. Dittmeyer doesn’t understand anything Cindy says.
d. Mr. Dittmeyer told Cindy she’s adopted.

9. How much did Mr. & Mrs. Brady owe in back taxes on their house?
a. $2,000
b. $20,000
c. $200,000
d. $2,000,000

10. Who played Grandma?
a. Roseanne Barr
b. Florence Henderson
c. RuPaul
d. Jean Smart



ANSWERS

1. All of the original Brady kids appeared in The Brady Bunch Movie except for EVE PLUMB. Mike Lookinkland’s scene where he played a cop was deleted, as were scenes with Maureen McCormick and Susan Olsen.
2. Marcia tried to get former-Monkee Davy Jones to appear at the dance. Was she successful? Watch the movie! (Jones appeared in the original TV show.)
3. Noreen had a crush on MARCIA, and put her hand on Marcia’s leg when they were in bed together during a sleep-over. When questioned about it she immediately apologized by saying, “Oh, sorry. I thought that was my leg.”
4. The Bradys’ dog was named TIGER, although he wasn’t on the show for very long. Early in the first season the dog that played Tiger was killed by a florist truck. Several replacement dogs were used, but Tiger only appeared in about half of the episodes during the first season and just a few during the second.
5. When Marcia’s date Doug Simpson, the BMOC, saw that Marcia’s nosed had been horribly disfigured by a run-in with a football, Marcia asked him if he still wanted to go to the dance with her. “Of course I do,” he gallantly replied. “IT’S NOT YOUR NOSE I’M AFTER.”
6. Ann B. Davis, who played the Brady’s maid Alice on the TV show, played the truck driver named SHULTZY in the movie. She no doubt took the name from the character Charmaine “Shultzy” Schultz, her character on The Bob Cummings Show in the 1950’s.
7. The Brady Bunch Movie is loaded with funny characters, hilarious scenes and witty lines, none of which just happened to fall out of the sky. So let’s tip our hat to these four brilliant people, because THEY WROTE THE DAMN MOVIE.
8. Mr. Dittmeyer, the Bradys’ neighbor, is played by the remarkably talented Michael McKean, who has been making me laugh since he was Lenny on Laverne and Shirley. As the villainous Mr. Dittmeyer, he had no time or tolerance for his cute little neighbor, Cindy Brady, and repeatedly kicks her off his property. Still, Mr. Dittmeyer never TOLD CINDY SHE’S ADOPTED, although I think he might have if he’d thought of it.
9. Mike and Carol Brady received a notice that they owed $20,000 in taxes, along with the threat that the house would be put up for auction. “I’ve got $20,000,” smirked the evil Mr. Dittmeyer on the day of the auction.
10. The role of Grandma was played by FLORENCE HENDERSON, who played the original Carol Brady in the TV series. Henderson also played Carol’s grandmother in a 1973 episode of The Brady Bunch, meaning that she has played Carol Brady, Carol Brady’s mother and Carol Brady’s grandmother! RuPaul and Jean Smart both appeared in the movie. Roseanne Barr turned down a role as one of the neighbors.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Paul McCartney’s Head


The funny thing about Beatles fans is that each of us think we alone are the greatest fan, and that others who claim to venerate the Beatles are little more than also-rans. And so, realistically speaking, I’m willing to allow that I may not be the greatest Beatles fan in the world, or even that there is such a thing. Still, during their brief career as the most popular musical group in the world, I followed them very closely. And so did my childhood chum, Lenny.

Lenny and I knew all the lyrics to all of the songs, wore down their records from endless play and even sang those songs while accompanying ourselves on guitars that neither of us knew how to play. We listened to the Beatles, talked about the Beatles and even speculated about the Beatles. “I predict that the next Beatles album cover with be extremely colorful,” I had once said. The next album turned out to be Revolver, the cover of which, as any true Beatles fan knows, was black and white. (Cut me some slack here. The one after that was Sgt Pepper’s, and that cover had flowers and colorful costumes everywhere!)

And as such close and loyal followers of the Beatles, we certainly we on the cutting edge of things when, in 1969, the rumor began that Paul McCartney had died three years earlier and had been replaced by a double.  The clues were nearly unlimited in number, and Lenny and I were soon on the case.

I remember that many of the clues could be found on the cover of Abbey Road, which had been released that year. The front photo itself was said to depict a funeral procession, with the white-suited John Lennon representing the minister, Ringo Starr, dressed in black, was the undertaker and denim-clad George Harrison was obviously the gravedigger. McCartney himself was barefoot, and as such represented the corpse since, as we were soon to learn, dead people in England were buried without their shoes. Ahem.

There is a Volkswagen Beetle on the cover of Abbey Road which has the license plate “28IF.” Clearly this meant that McCartney would have been 28 if he had lived. In the shadows on the back of the album there was a shape that looks something like a human skull! What further proof did we need?

Lenny and I didn’t simply look at the album covers to verify the clues we had heard and read about. No, we also took a more active role in the investigation. We listened to the end of “Strawberry Fields Forever,” where John Lennon is reported to have said, “I buried Paul.” And we used the eraser end of a pencil to force the track “Revolution 9” to play backwards on our tiny record players, where we clearly heard John Lennon proclaim, “Turn me on, dead man.”

Now, at no point did I ever believe that McCartney was dead. I never even entertained the possibility a little bit. I’d like to say that this was also true of Lenny, but even today I’m just not sure. And the reason for my uncertainty is because one of the weirdest stories I would hear about McCartney being dead actually came from Lenny himself. It’s a story about something that happened (or rather, didn’t happen) in his bedroom one night at the peak of the Paul Is Dead rumors.

Lenny was alone in his bedroom that night, getting ready for bed. He probably was tired, most likely from having spent a good part of the day with me, looking for clues on covers and playing records backward. No doubt his brain was still filled with, not only all these creepy clues, but with the subject of death in general.

And then it came time to go into the top drawer of his dresser to get his pajamas, and he couldn’t do it. Why? Because Lenny, as he later told me, was absolutely convinced that if he went into that drawer he would find, sitting atop a pile of clean and neatly folded pajamas, Paul McCartney’s head. I don’t know what Lenny wore to bed that night, but I can tell you this with absolute certainty: It sure as hell wasn’t his pajamas.


Monday, June 08, 2015

First Finger


I gave some guy the finger today. Or. more accurately, I gave him the finger back. Spike and I were stopped at a red light when we spotted a homeless man pushing a shopping cart. Spike pulled three bucks out of her wallet, rolled down the window and called the man over. He had almost made it to the car window when the light turned green.

In my mind I knew that I was holding up traffic and should have driven away when the light turned green, but in my heart I knew I couldn’t just pull away from this poor old guy. And so I waited until he reached the car and Spike handed him the money.

And then I heard the beep. The guy in the car behind me apparently had little patience for this sort of thing. He wasn’t thinking about the homeless man, or much else except that he was in danger of not making the light, and thus dealing with the horror of delaying his forward movement by perhaps another forty-five seconds. And so he beeped again.

I actually was quite shocked by the beeping. I lifted my arms in a show of frustration, as if to say, what the fuck? And then I looked in my rearview mirror and saw that this angry little creep was giving me the finger! I immediately sprang into action. I gave him the finger right back. And then the light once again turned green, as any rational person would have known it would, and we continued on our way.

And then I started to think about what had just happened. No, I was not upset about the crude interaction between me and this aggressive asshole. Frankly, I wouldn’t have been too thrilled myself if somebody in front of me had stopped at a green light, for whatever reason. No, I was simply wondering if it was possible that this was the first time I’d ever given anyone the finger? I mean, I know I’d done it joking around with friends, but it seemed almost inconceivable that I’d never before fired one off in anger.

Giving the finger is a funny thing. for years on TV you could extend your pinkie, or your ring finger or you index finger, but expose that middle finger and the pixilation police were right on it. I’ve noticed recently that on some networks you can now show the finger, while others are still censoring the offending digit. Goes to show that even at this supposedly advanced date in our evolution we are still a bunch of silly monkeys with very limited brains.

True, we’re monkeys who are capable of creating beautiful symphonies and labyrinthine literature, and can send spacecraft to the far reaches of our solar system and beyond, but monkeys all the same. And you can be sure that someday in the not too distant future, our some visiting aliens will be laughing at us, because we had decided as a species that you’re allowed to extend some of your fingers on television, but not all of them.


Friday, June 05, 2015

The Bad Quiz



It's a word that writers are advised not to use too often. (Probably not true, but I’m just copy-and- pasting this intro from last night, so whatever.) The word is "bad" and there are so many more exact, more expressive words in the English language that it's a wonder the word is ever used at all. Ah, but it is, all the time and all over the damned place. Want proof? Got a little time? Well, then go right ahead and take The Bad Quiz.  All of the answers contain the word "bad," or a variation of it. Have fun and I'm sure you'll agree that this quiz is...pretty good.


1. A national park in South Dakota
2. Movie starring Harvey Keitel
3. John Lennon song written for Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas
4. CCR hit
5. Larry Williams song covered by The Beatles
6. American punk-rock band founded in 1979
7. Movie starring Cameron Diaz
8. Movie starring Billy Bob Thornton
9. English rock band named after Jeff Bridges movie
10. A Michael Jackson album
11. Anti-drunk driving group
12. British rock band that signed with Apple Records
13. Hawaiian Coffee Company
14. Wrestler Razor Ramon nickname
15.1956 movie starring Patty McCormack
16. 1966 movie starring Clint Eastwood
17. George Thorogood classic
18. Halitosis
19. Song written and recorded by Lady Gaga
20. Bryan Cranston TV show
21. 1977 Warhol movie
22. 1992 Madonna song
23. Death Valley Pond
24. Miasma Theory cause of disease
25, Computer Virus Hoax
26. First song on Led Zeppelin's first album
27. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
28. San Francisco area female roller derby organization
29. Movie starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence
30. Steve Guttenberg flop or Bon Jovi hit




ANSWERS

1. Badlands National Park
2. Bad Lieutenant
3. Bad to Me
4. Bad Moon Rising
5. Bad Boy
6. Bad Religion
7. Bad Teacher
8. Bad Santa (Also accept Bad News Bears)
9. Bad Company
10. Bad
11. BADD (Bikers Agaisnt Drunk Drivers)
12. Badfinger
13. Bad Ass Coffee
14. The Bad Guy
15. The Bad Seed
16. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
17. Bad to the Bone
18. Bad breath
19. Bad Romance
20. Breaking Bad
21. Bad
22. Bad Girl
23. Badwater
24. Bad air
25. Bad Times
26. Good Times Bad Times
27. Bad cholesterol
28. B.A.D. (Bay Area Derby) Girls
29. Bad Boys
30. Bad Medicine


Wednesday, June 03, 2015

You’re a Star!


From the time I first ordered it to the day I took it off the wall while cleaning out my parents’ house, I always thought it was a pretty good gift. Mom seemed to like it, even if it really was only just a fancy-looking piece of paper. I mean, she hung it on the wall, right?

Mom’s birthday was rolling around and so I started thinking about what to get her. A few years earlier Mom had said that I always came up with unique gifts, a compliment that had the effect of both making me feel good and really putting the pressure on to top myself. And then I saw it.

You’ve seen it, too. Name a star after a loved one, the ads say. What a romantic notion, you think, and it is, it really is. And yet I’m not so brain-addled that I don’t recognize that it’s also the dopiest damn waste of money in the world. And so, I filled out the form and had a star named after my mom.

If I remember correctly I paid around thirty-nine bucks for the thing, and received for my money, as mentioned above, a piece of paper. It was actually a lovely piece of paper, to be sure, shining with colorful celestial graphics, but a piece of paper all the same. Also on the piece of paper was, written in a bold gothic style, my mother’s name, along with the coordinates you needed to find the star, and the location of the registry where all this information was permanently recorded. I think it was in Switzerland. Or maybe it was Sweden.

Ah, but here’s the catch. There was also a small booklet that described my mother’s star, including the sobering fact that it wasn’t visible without the aid of a telescope, and a rather powerful one at that. So right there, any fantasy I had about standing outside with my arm around my mom’s shoulder and pointing up to the heavens to show her her star was out the window. And I had to buy a frame, too.

Still, as silly as it seems to be, I think that having a star named after you could someday have benefits that we can barely even imagine today. What if, say fifty thousand years from now, Earth is finally visited by those late-arriving space aliens we always hear about. And what if, by some miracle, they actually are benevolent aliens and, as such, they choose to bring some of us long-dead humans back to life?

Why don’t they bring all 100 billion people who have ever lived back to life? How should I know? Maybe they don’t have the technology for processing that many. Or maybe they don’t have all fucking day.  And so now they have a big decision to make.

Who should we bring back? they wonder. Their world leaders? God, no. That’s how they went extinct in the first place. How about their celebrities? Screw them, they’ve had enough fun. If only there was some sort of list…I got it! All these people on this registry we found in Switzerland (or Sweden) have had a star named after them. A star! They must have been absolutely extraordinary to earn such an honor!

And, one more what if, by an astounding coincidence, these aliens happen to hail from the very same star that bears the name of one of these long-dead humans? Well, this lucky soul just won the galactic lottery. Not only will they surely be the very first person brought back, but they’ll be treated like a superstar for the rest of their life, which just might be forever. Wow, that would really be something. I hope it’s my mom. 


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