Not Non-Fiction

Stories.

It Could Happen.

Source: Sitcoms Online

Certain corners of the internet are exploding with the news that the new streaming service Blitz will launch with a reboot of the classic sitcom My Mother The Car. The show’s premise was typical of the ‘60’s, and perhaps even less ridiculous sounding now: attorney David Crabtree, played by Jerry Van Dyke, buys an antique car, specifically a 1926 Reichenbach, only to discover that it’s inhabited by the ghost of his deceased mother. She talks to him through the car’s radio and only he can hear her. She helps him through various difficulties with his wife and career as he evades the unscrupulous Captain Manzini, who’s determined to acquire the valuable antique car.

With its moody lighting, lack of a laughtrack, and muted performances My Mother The Car continues to be widely acclaimed as the worst sitcom of all time but still managed to develop a loyal cult following. It even spawned a series of comics published by DC with Crabtree and Mother becoming crime fighting quasi-superheroes.

Most attempts to bring back My Mother The Car since its 1966 cancellation have failed. Perhaps the most notable was Steven Spielberg’s 1986 big screen adaptation. Because of the film’s raunchy humor, including a subplot of Mother working for an escort service, it barely got by with a PG-13 rating and posters of Mother sporting an oversized cigar under her hood were quickly pulled from theater lobbies. Fans who continued to hold occasional “car-ventions” at Jerry Van Dyke’s Ice Cream Soda Shoppes around the country lamented the steady decline of their beloved franchise.

Then in 2018 interest was renewed with the cinematic release of the four and a half hour superhero epic Justice League: Quantum Fracture, which pulled together a vast range of DC characters, including David Crabtree and Mother. Although Jerry Van Dyke, who sadly passed away before the film’s release, was too ill to appear as himself he did record the dialogue and the onscreen David was played by a digitally enhanced Andy Serkis, who also provided Mother’s voice.  

The new series features a cast of largely unknown actors and, while the producers say they want to remain faithful to the original, will feature greater diversity and much less reliance on mother-in-law jokes. They also describe the new series as “a mashup of Herbie The Love Bug, Knight Rider, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Speed Racer, Wonderbug, The Magic School Bus, Speed Buggy, and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman”.

Environmental concerns will be addressed too. Reichenbachs of that era operated entirely on whale oil, an issue that will be dealt with both in the series itself and through the Blitz service’s new sponsored conservation program My Mother The Narwhal.

I’ve now watched the three screener episodes Blitz provided to critics, social media influencers, members of the official My Mother The Car Fan Club, and pretty much anyone who asked and I think it’s safe to say it will be universally acclaimed as not too bad.

Ten Things Only I Think Are Funny, With Unnecessary Explanations, Annotations, And Footnotes.

Source: fromoldbooks.org

I have a rare album: Rex Harrison[1] Sings Billy Idol[2].

Explanation: There’s at least one other person who finds this funny, although I texted this to him one night with no other explanation after I’d had a couple of beers and, since it was a Friday night, I’m sure he’d had a few too and at that point just about anything is funny, and I still kind of wonder why I didn’t say I had an album of Brian Blessed singing Cyndi Lauper which, let’s face it, would have been almost as funny.

Annotation: Rex Harrison was hopeless as a singer but regularly cast in musicals, most famously the 1967 film version of Doctor Dolittle. He developed a style of “speech singing”, essentially talking his way through songs. Billy Idol, on the other hand,  has both a broad vocal range and a much cooler haircut.

Medieval European polearms [3]

Explanation: This one is a you-had-to-be-there kind of joke although I bet there are a lot of historians who get why this is funny. There are literally dozens of different designs for what’s basically a blade and some pointy things on the end of a stick, each with their own specific name and it just makes me laugh to imagine a knight saying to his squire, “Hey, I asked for a bec de corbin and you brought me a ranseur!”

I put a quarter in a Wurlitzer[4] and pita bread stuffed with thin-sliced roasted and seasoned lamb[5] popped out.

Explanation: This came to me one night when I was on my way to get some Greek takeout food and I was kind of embarrassed because I couldn’t tell the guy behind the counter why I was laughing so hard without sounding like a lunatic.

Annotation: Foreigner’s album 4, first released in 1981, has proven to be one of their longest lasting, with the second track, an ode to a young boy who is unable to buy a concert ticket but, hearing a guitar, becomes a musician himself, is considered by critics to be the best song in their entire catalog.

Aardvarks[6].

Explanation: I was watching a nature documentary and an aardvark came on and started digging into a termite mound and I couldn’t stop laughing because I’d never realized before that they’re basically giant long-tailed pigs with bunny ears.

Annotation: Aardvarks share a common ancestor with elephants, manatees, and hyraxes, none of which any rational person finds funny.

Hansel and Gretel[7] kill their parents.

Explanation: This is a bit dark but my lifelong love of fairy tales has prompted me to write alternate versions of several, including Hansel and Gretel, and I think it would be weirdly funny is the kids figured out their parents were planning to abandon them and took matters into their own hands and maybe got adopted by the witch.

Cans of mixed nuts.

Explanation: It’s not so much the nuts as the conversations I imagine them having. Hazelnuts[8] would call each other “Phil” and “Bert”, pecans[9] would speak with a Southern accent, and Brazil nuts[10] would speak German.

Annotation: Most commercially available nut mixes also include peanuts, almonds, and cashews, none of which are funny.

Excel spreadsheets[11].

Explanation: Actually not funny at all, not even to me, and I think I’ve established that I’ve got a really weird sense of humor, but at this point I’m just trying to pad out the list.

Annotation: In high school I knew guys taking computer classes who’d get really excited about making spreadsheets. This was the ‘80’s and it just goes to show how much of a novelty computers were that something accounting-related could actually seem exciting.

Padding lists[12]

Explanation: It’s always funny to me when someone throws something weird and seemingly random into a list.

The word “swab”

Explanation: There are plenty of weird words that just sound funny to me but “swab” is my go-to when someone asks for an example. Maybe it’s because I think of pirates swabbing the decks but it could just as easily be because cotton swabs tickle the insides of my ears.

Annotation: The origins of the word “swab” date to at least the mid-17th century when it originally meant a mop made of rope yarn, ultimately derived from the Swedish “svabba”, meaning “a dirty person”, and why the Swedish needed a specific word for a dirty person is a mystery.

Ridiculously long titles.

Explanation: None needed.

Annotation: See above.

Footnotes follow.

1-An English stage and screen actor (b.1908-d.1990)

2-An English musician, singer, and songwriter (b.1955, d. probably several times because, you know, rock stars)

3-A weapon consisting of a blade attached to a long wooden staff

4-A brand name of jukebox.

5-A sandwich commonly known as a “gyro”, sold as Greek or Middle Eastern cuisine.

6-Scientific name Orycteropus afer, an insectivorous mammal whose range extends across much of Africa.

7-The child protagonists of a German fairy tale of medieval origin first published by the Brothers Grimm in 1812.

8-Nuts produced by the hazel tree (scientific name Corylus avellana), hazelnuts are also known as “filberts” and now we’re just over-explaining the joke.

9-Nuts produced by a subspecies of hickory (scientific name Carya illinoinensis)

10-Not technically a nut but rather a seed from a South American tree (scientific name Bertholletia excelsa)

11-A computer application used for storing, sorting, organizing, and analyzing data in the form of a table.

12-Made you look.

 

What It Was Was Fantasy Football: 2021 Edition.

Source: qwantz.com. Awesome fun times!

Defending Team

Safety- Tyrann Mathieu

Safety- Daniel Sorensen

Cornerback- BoPete Keyes

Cornerback-Rashad Fenton

Outside Linebacker-Anthony Hitchens

Outside Linebacker-Darius Harris

Middle Linebacker- Lavonte David

End- Ndamukong Suh

End- Tanoh Kpassagnon

Tackle- Rakeem Nunez-Roches

Tackle- Donovan Smith

Wide Receiver-Mecole Hardman

Wide Receiver- Tyreek Hill

Tackle- Khalen Saunders

Tackle- Derrick Nnadi

Guard- Ali Marpet

Guard- Andrew Wylie

Center- Ryan Jensen

Tight End- Travis Kelce

Quarterback- Patrick Mahomes

Fullback- Damien Wilson

Halfback- Charvarius Ward

Receiving Team

Safety-Egg Shen

Safety-King Meshugah

Cornerback-Garet Jax

Cornerback-Dejah Thoris

Outside Linebacker-Thorin Oakenshield

Outside Linebacker-Yog Sothoth

Middle Linebacker-Sandman

End-Ningauble Of The Seven Eyes

End-Rincewind (filling in for Falkor, currently out with COVID-19)

Tackle-Sir Gawain

Tackle-Mongo

Wide Receiver-Namor Of Atlantis

Wide Receiver-Jareth (reserve for Baron Munchausen)

Tackle-Hellboy

Tackle-Xena, Warrior Princess

Guard-Anita Blake

Guard-The Red Queen

Center-Lessa/Ramoth

Tight End-Lord Voldemort

Quarterback- Schmendrick The Magician

 Fullback-Eeyore

Halfback-Rudy Ruettiger

 

 

Let Me X-Plain.

X is the twenty-third letter in the alphabet. It’s one of the oldest letters, having come from ancient Greek where it was pronounced like the sound you make when you clear your throat because the ancient Greeks liked to give really long speeches and they would cut off interruptions by pretending to interrupt themselves, or maybe they stayed hydrated by drinking heavy cream while making their speeches because skim milk hadn’t been discovered yet. Some people think X is a redundant letter but really X is a very hardworking letter. X can mark the spot, it’s what you put on moonshine bottles and unrated films before they invented the NC-17 rating as a way of telling people, “This film is pretentions and awful and doesn’t have nearly as much nudity as you’d think.” Without the letter X there’d be no X-Games, X-Men, or X-Files. And in regular words it’s very hard working. The letter X allows you to have experiences and it’s why Billy Joel can go to extremes. It’s part of excess, excellence, exceed, excelsior! Without X your axe would be an ae which isn’t nearly as exciting or exceptional, and would barely make an excerpt where an excision was needed. X works by itself too, in X-rays and X-Mas, and xanthan gum and Xanadu where Khubla Khan built a stately pleasure dome and then Charles Foster Kane renovated it so Olivia Newton John could build a roller rink there some time later. It’s why we have xanthan gum and no one knows what that is but it’s in everything. Without X your xeriscaped lawn would be all wet, your xylophone wouldn’t be nearly as xippy, and Xerxes The Great would just be Eres The Whatever. X also starts cool obscure words you only find in really big dictionaries, words like “xenium”, which means “a present, usually food, offered to a guest or stranger,” which is a really nice word that’s so much better than xenophobia.

X is also the Roman numeral ten which raises the question, when Romans said “ex”, which was a preposition that meant “out of” did they pronounce it “e-ten”? And did that make people say, “Oh, I get it, you’ve had your xenium so now you’re leaving”? Except “ten” in Latin is “decem” so I guess really they’d say “e-decem” on their way out.

All this shows what a really powerful and important letter X is, and why it’s a total badass of the alphabet. You do not want to meet X in a dark alley, and despite what you may have heard not all Xes live in Texas. X is useful and strong, it can work with others or stand on its own, not like, say, K, which other letters will tell you is a total dickweed, frequently standing there silently doing nothing in letters like known and knife, and making C look weak even though C can crunch it or be a stand-in for S.

I’m getting away from X though so this is a good point to make an exit or, as some people say, an ex-scape.

And actually it’s the twenty-fourth letter in the alphabet. I was just seeing if you were paying attention.

This was my response on an algebra test to the question “Define X”. My math teacher Mr. Stengell wrote a note in red at the bottom of my paper that said, “See me after class!” It turned out I was in trouble and did not get what I hoped for which was extra credit.

Always Something There To Remind Me.

It’s surprising how quickly people forget once the season is over. Not that I mind. In fact it’s a good thing. It’s why I don’t feel so bad about taking most of January off. I let the whole crew take the time off too. They’ve worked hard, especially  at the end of the year, and I feel like everyone deserves a break once we’re past the crunch.

The first few days I stretch out on the Barcalounger and watch TV the first few days. Mostly I catch up on movies or watch the news. Anything except the weather. You know I spend most of December watching the weather and by January it’s the last thing I want to hear about. Anyway this far north what’s it gonna be? Cold! Cold and dark. The missus will sometimes go someplace warm and sunny for the winter and, well, I’m happy to let her go, but I just don’t feel right doing that myself. Anyway I’ve already done so much traveling in December I really don’t feel like going anywhere. I like having my down time at home. I sit and go through the mail. This time of year it’s almost all junk mail, which is okay with me. I kind of get a kick out of the ads and catalogs and things, mostly addressed to “Resident”. Once we got a seed catalog and there was a typo so it was address to “Resideer”. Well, I had to share that with the Transportation Department, and we all had a good laugh about it. Not a big belly laugh, but a good heh-heh-heh. Then they ate it.

Toward the end of January I get kind of fidgety, though, and ready to get back to work. That’s when I start making my list. Sure, that seems early, but it’s a long list and I want to have time to double-check it, and December will be here before you know it. I don’t really watch my clients, you know. Even back in 1934 I thought saying I know when they’re sleeping made me sound like a big creep.

I’m not ready to put the production crew back to work yet, though, so I try to find other ways to occupy myself. Like the year I took up snowboarding. Well, I heard a lot from the missus about that. “At your age?” she said. I guess she had a point, but while I may not look it I’m pretty fit for seventeen hundred and fifty.

Oh, sure, I’ve done some stupid things too, like back in the ‘80’s when I lost a lot of weight, shaved the beard, and traded in the sleigh for a Lamborghini. Yeah, that was a mistake. Not like in 1947, though, when I took that side gig working at Macy’s.

Yep. Then it’s back to work. There’s just no rest when you’re Santa Claus.

Nobody Calls Him Names Anymore.

“All right, everybody get in formation!” Santa barked. The reindeer lined up dutifully.

“I’ve heard some grumblings in the herd,” Santa went on, “and I just want to say that anybody who doesn’t like it can go live with the Lapps.”

The reindeer pawed the ground and looked at each other nervously. Blitzen, who all of them knew as the smartass of the group, had mouthed off the last time Santa made the same suggestion. “Sure,” he said, “I’ll go live with the Lapps. Compared to this place it’ll be the Lapp of luxury!”

Mrs. Claus had taken him by the bridle and led him off behind the secondary workshop, the one with the heavy equipment. Later that night Donner peeked in the Claus’s window and thought he saw a crown roast being served.

“Now,” said Santa, “this is going to be a tough night. We’ve got fog right down to the deck every place east of the Rockies. Damn climate change. Vixen, you’ll take the lead ahead of Dasher and Dancer from the west coast. Prancer, you’ll take over after that until we get to Chicago.”

“It’s not gonna work, fat boy!” came a voice from the back of the herd.

“Who said that?” Santa yelled. “Nobody talks to me that way! Come on, step up or you’ll all be venison!”

The herd parted but one reindeer, smaller than the rest, with a distinct red nose, stood at the back.

“It was me, old man, and you’d better watch what you say because I’m your best hope.”

Santa narrowed his eyes. “Pretty full of yourself, aren’t you? Think you can get away with being so rude, Dolph? Maybe it’s time for you to—”

“What?” Dolph shot back. “Go live with the Lapps? Maybe you’d just send me back to Chernobyl where you found me.” The reindeer looked around. “Oh, I know you all know. I hear the jokes, the snickers, all the names you call me behind my back. That I’m the Radioactive Russian, the Solar Siberian, the Toxin of the Tundra. Well check this out.” He wrinkled his forehead and his nose began to glow a bright piercing red.

Santa glared for a moment then threw back his head and laughed. “Ho ho ho! That’s a pretty neat trick therem sonny. You know I run a tight ship but every captain knows you don’t put a navigator in the bilge. You can lead the second string.”

“Nothing doing.” Dolph pawed the ground. “I don’t want a piece of the action. You need me to lead the team the whole way.”

“Nobody’s made the whole round trip,” said Santa, “not in a long time. Not since, well, Flossie and Glossie led the team. You think you can handle it?”

“Handle it?” Dolph stepped forward. “You bet your wide load I can handle it. I’m going down in history.”

“All right,” Santa said, “let’s get harnessed up.” Then he turned to Mrs. Claus and muttered, “The kid probably’d taste terrible anyway.”

 

Thanksgiving 2020.

This repost is one of my annual traditions. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone except those in countries that don’t celebrate it and the Canadians who are heathens who have Thanksgiving before Halloween , and this year we could really use it.

It has been celebrated as a federal holiday every year since 1863, when, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.

–Wikipedia

November 25th, 1864

It was even worse than last year. I know every time my family gets together we fall into certain patterns, but that never makes it easier. This time it was even worse because just getting to my parents’ house was such a pain. I thought I’d carriagepool with my younger brother and his wife, but they went up early so that fell through. Then I thought I’d beat the traffic by setting out at dawn, which was such a great idea everybody else in Richmond had it at the same time and the horses were nose to tail, stop and trot, for miles. Finally I got there a little after ten in the morning and my older sister came out already holding a glass of blackberry wine and when she hugged me I could tell it wasn’t her first one. She asked me how things were going and then didn’t wait for an answer and ran back into the house to tell everyone I was there.

I should have known I’d be walking into an argument in the foyer, the way my family is. It’s just what it was about that threw me. My kid brother had this crazy idea for a new way to cook a turkey, leaving the feathers still on and roasting it in the coals of a fire. Well, it sounded pretty stupid to me, and I wasn’t surprised to learn that the neighbors tried the same thing last year and burned down their stable. But I didn’t want to side with my father either. So I said it had been a long trip and I needed to visit the outhouse and slipped out. Well, there was a line at the outhouse: two of my nieces, three cousins, all four of my brothers, and my sister was already in there getting rid of some of that blackberry wine. So I went back inside to see what was going on.

In the parlor my mother was putting together some kind of monstrosity with dead leaves and dried berries that she said she was going to put in the middle of the table.

“Where’s the food going to go?” I asked.

“Well, we’ll move it before we eat.”

I was going to ask why she’d bother to put it in the middle of the table if she was just going to move it again but decided against having that discussion, so instead I sat down and leafed through a broadsheet that was handy.

“The other men are organizing a game,” she said. “It’s some new sport called foot-ball. You should go and join them.”

Well, she knows I’ve never been athletic, but when I protested she got put out with me and said, “It’s your Uncle Wilkes’s idea. You know you’ve always been his favorite. You really should go and do it just to please him.”

FINE.

Well, when I came back in my sister just cackled and toasted me with another glass of blackberry wine. All my mother could say was “Don’t get any blood on the carpet,” and my older brother kept telling me to stop being a sissy and just put some salve on it. Then Aunt Gerda said pinch the back of my neck and tilt my head forward and Uncle Wilkes said no, put pressure between the eyes and lean back, and then my cousins got into it so there had to be a family brawl about that. A day later and I’m still bleeding. So much for the salve. I’ll have to make an appointment with Dr. Samuel Mudd when I get back.

 Then Uncle Aloysius had to start in Daniel about supporting the Whigs and Elizabeth about Suffragettes, just trying to start an argument. Fortunately they didn’t rise to the bait.

Then I tried to head off another argument about who’d have to chaperone the kids’ table by volunteering, but my father cut that off.

“No, no, I want John seated here on my left. After I sent him to that fancy and very expensive school so he could waste his time studying the dramatic arts and oratory he should be well-equipped to deliver the traditional Booth family prayer of thanks.”

Traditional since last year, he means. Then my kid brother kicked me in the shins which I know was his way of saying “Don’t start anything”. I kicked him twice as hard in the shins which was my way of saying, “I wasn’t going to,” and then kicked him again to say, “Hurts, don’t it?”

All this might have been a little more bearable if my sister had let me have some of the blackberry wine.

I swear I’m going to get that Lincoln for making us do this.

Food For Thought.

Dog’s breakfast-Disorderly, messy. This British slang term originated in the late Sixteenth or early Seventeenth century with fox hunting and the hastily thrown together breakfast dogs were served before setting out.

 

Couch potato-A person who sits around watching TV. American in origin, apparently from the early 1970’s, the term may derive from the appearance of slothful individuals but also from the growing consumption of potato chips during the Watergate hearings.

 

Piece of cake-Extremely easy. The exact origins are unclear but use became more widespread with the development and distribution of commercially manufactured cakes in the 1920s that led most people to binge on whole cakes.

 

Tough nut to crack-A very difficult problem or undertaking, or a difficult person. Probably derived from nature and the difficulty of cracking certain types of nuts. The first known appearance in print is from A.F. Doni’s Morall Philosophy, published 1570, but came into wider use during World War II when German Enigma machines used Brazil nut code.

 

Selling like hot cakes-Extremely popular, in high demand but with limited quantities. Of North American origin the earliest recorded use is from 1839, but why hot cakes specifically is unclear.

 

Fruit Basket turnover-Complete disruption of the established order. This term derives from the children’s game of the same name and is primarily used by spinster history teachers from Poughkeepsie.

 

Cream of the crop-The very best of a particular group. Presumably derived from the fact that cream rises to the top of unhomogenized milk it reached urban areas in the mid-19th century with the rising popularity of creamed corn, creamed spinach, the less successful creamed eggplant, and the disastrous creamed cotton.

 

Icing on the cake-An added bonus to something that it already good. The origins are obscure since cake without icing is just chocolate bread.

 

In a pickle-A dilemma or difficulty. Derived from the use of empty pickle barrels to hold local lotteries with unpicked tickets left “in the pickles”.

 

Gravy train-A means of making a great deal of money with very little effort. Derived from actual trains that carried gravy West to feed Mack Sennet’s insatiable appetite for pork drippings.

 

Spill the beans-To reveal a secret. This is derived from a 19th century practice of storing prophylactics in containers of dried beans but since it was the Victorian era no one admitted to ever having sex.

 

Going cold turkey-To quit a bad habit (usually smoking, drinking, or drugs) immediately rather than gradually stepping down. Possibly derived from a term in a satirical British magazine from 1877 it may also refer to a belief that tryptophan causes unconsciousness making it impossible to indulge, unless your bad habit is oversleeping.

 

Putting money in a Wurlitzer and getting a pita bread sandwich of rotisserie-cooked meat—self explanatory, derived from going to Greek restaurants on Thursday when the musicians took the night off.

 

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