Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Whazit2u? #9: Your Favorite Batman Television Villain Is...
4 votes.
Penguin: 2
Joker: 1
Riddler: 0

“Holy Bat-Poll!” I voted for Catwoman, of course! “Batman” was my favorite TV show when I was a little kid, and I always had a thang about Catwoman. And I’m speaking of Julie Newmar, ya un’erstan’ – there was no other Catwoman, so don’t even talk to me about Lee Meriwether and Eartha Kitt.

I was always especially fond of those episodes where Catwoman had Batman all tied up, but I was never really sure why they appealed to me so much. Let me add that it was Julie Newmar’s OUTSTANDING figure that first made me vaguely aware that there was a difference between men and women, although at such a young age, I couldn’t quite put my fingers on the difference. By the way, Julie Newmar appeared in the September 1969 issue of Playboy magazine wearing nothing but her birthday suit. I know this only because I happen to collect that magazine. Oh, I don’t mean that I collect Playboy; I mean that I collect that particular issue of Playboy. I have 107 copies of it at the moment. I was hoping to add at least one more copy to my collection this year, but none of my so-called friends or family members got me one for Christmas.

Whazit2u? #10: Your Favorite Beatle Is...
2 votes
Paul: 2 votes
George: 2 votes
Ringo: 1

Well, I guess we finally settled that question once and for all, eh? The best Beatle was John, Paul, and George. (Me, I voted for “the cool and quiet Beatle.” You know who I mean.)

Whazit2u? #11: Your Favorite Cartoon Character Is...
Foghorn Leghorn:
5 votes
Bugs Bunny: 1
Mickey Mouse: 1
Homer Simpson: 0

Hokey-Smoke, this really surprised me! I thought for sure Homer Simpson was going to win this, but he didn’t get a single vote. I can hear him now: “DOH!”

Who’d I vote for?...
Ah jhust loves— ah say, ah jhust loves me some Foghorn Leghorn. Look at me when ahm tahkin’ to yuh, son. (Boy’s about as bright as a broke— ah say, bright as a broken lightbulb.)

Whazit2u? #12: Your Favorite Dessert Is...
Ice Cream:
5 votes
Cookies: 1
Pie: 1
Cake: 0

I naturally tend to give everyone I like a nickname. If you’ve known me for a long time but I’ve never called you by some nickname, then the odds are that, secretly (Shhh!), I probably don’t really dig you all that much.

Likewise, I have been called by many nicknames: The boys at the Summer baseball clinic I attended in my youth called me “Diving Brooks” because of a spectacular catch I once made in left field. (I wonder how many of you remember the great Baltimore Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson?) In high school, some teenagers called me “Narc” because I participated in the Police Explorer Program. My friend Pooh gave me the nickname “Mister Intense” because I used to be somewhat… well… intense. Cranium used to call me “Glowworm” because I was so skinny and so white. A girlfriend, The Countess, liked to refer to me as “Ol’ Bilge Rat”, which she got from Disneyland’s Pirates Of The Caribbean ride. The leader of a spiritual study group I belonged to long ago used to call me "The Old Testament Guy" because I didn't always buy into their mushy New Age mumbo-jumbo. And many years ago, I even gave myself a couple of nicknames: “Trummy Tewksbury” (a combination of Louis Armstrong’s trombone player, Trummy Young, and the baseball pitcher Bob Tewksbury) and also “Black Cole Kid” (a combination of Black Bart, Cole Younger, and Billy-The-Kid).

But because of my ice cream addiction, early this year, a few guys where I work gave me the nickname “Two Scoops.”
You scream, I scream, we all voted for ice cream!

Whazit2u? #13: Which Of These Animated Xmas Shows Do You Like Best?
How The Grinch Stole Christmas:
4 votes
A Charlie Brown Christmas: 1
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: 1
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town: 0

I went Charlie Brown on y’all, but that mean one, Mister Grinch, ran away with it.

Whazit2u? #14: Which Of These Xmas Songs Do You Like Least?
Santa Baby:
3 votes
The 12 Days Of Christmas: 1
Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas In Hawaiian): 1
Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer: 1

I hate “Mele Kalikimaka” - I mean, I REALLY HATE IT… almost as much as I hate “Santa Baby.”

Whazit2u? #15: Which Of These Is Your Favorite Christmas Treat?
3 votes
Christmas Cookies: 2
Eggnog: 1
Hot Buttered Rum: 0

Yes, I voted for “Fruitcake”, but no, things are not as they appear. My friend Mr. Paul confessed this in an e-mail to me:
“I loathe fruitcake, but it was an altruistic vote given in the Christmas spirit to support our less fortunate brothers.”

Ha! So, fruitcake is not really officially out of the Christmas Doghouse just yet.

Whazit2u? #16: Which Of These Actors Made The Best Ebenezer Scrooge?
Albert Finney:
2 votes
Alastair Sim: 2 votes
Reginald Owen: 1
George C. Scott: 1

Alastair Sim is considered the “Classic” Ebenezer, but he’s not my favorite. Other than the “B Westerns” of my singing cowboy hero Roy Rogers, I don’t warm up to many musicals, but “Scrooge” (1970) starring Albert Finney is one of the rare exceptions. In fact, it’s one of my favorite movies of all time, and I can’t decide which Christmas film I like better, “Scrooge” or “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Yeah, it’s that good. Who knew that "A Christmas Carol" could contain so much humor? Don’t miss it next year, y’all, or Christmas morning might bring your stocking nothing but Black Cole Kid. (Don’t make me have to come over there!)

As for George C. Scott… well, he makes me laugh in “Dr. Strangelove” and he made a boffo General Patton, but I find his performance as Ebenezer Scrooge to be embarrassingly bad! I mean that literally – I was downright embarrassed for him when I saw it. Years ago, I even invented a kind of joke about it:

Q: What’s the difference between George C. Scott’s curmudgeonly Scrooge and his cheerful Scrooge?
A: The cheerful Scrooge tips his hat to passersby.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Postscript: The Whazit2u? Polls are being discontinued due to lack of interest. Well, lack of interest AND because there just haven’t been enough voters to make the Polls worthwhile. Nevertheless, my thanks to all who DID contribute.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

ARK, BOOK & CANDLE (Or, The ABCs Of Xmas Decorating)

To some folks, decorating their house for Christmas is as much a competition with their neighbors as it is a celebration of the birth of Christ. That’s not how it is for my Brother and I (and it’s a good thing, too, because on this street, we get wiped out every year), but it’s still kind of fun to joke about . . .

When our neighbors directly across the street from us came home from shopping one day in late November and saw Nappy and I out hanging Christmas lights, one of them jokingly yelled across the street, “So, it’s ON now, huh?”

Well, for years I’ve (necessarily) argued that it’s not really the quantity but the quality that counts when evaluating a Christmas display. After all, there is the important factor of “balance” to be considered. Oh, sure, those people down the street may have fourteen million lights twinkling on their house, “but they have no concept of BALANCE!” And “balance” means whatever you need it to mean when the neighbors are kicking your butt like you’re a mangy dog they own.

Well, here in Phoenix, there are some really impressive Christmas light displays, some real Xmas Xtravaganzas, and some of the folks on my street put on a fairly good show, but there is one family that has such unique Christmas decorations that their house has become my favorite in this city. In fact, making a special trip to view their house at night is one of my many Christmas traditions. First, I go to a nearby Burger King to get a hot cup of their Douwe Egbert’s “Rich Coffee” (Douwe Egbert - don’t ya just love that name?), and then I drive to the house in question . . .

The home at 4002 W. Thunderbird is of standard size, and facing one of the major Phoenix thoroughfares, it has perhaps an even smaller than usual front yard. Nevertheless, the Christmas decorations make it a real standout during the Holidays. Although they still look very good in the daylight, when that Airheadzona Sun is shining on them, a person is able to discern that these are homemade decorations. They have been fashioned so well and are lighted with such precision, however, that at night, they appear to be commercially manufactured.

All of these Christmas decorations are large - at least 4 to 5 feet tall or more - but what makes them so noteworthy is their uniqueness. While there are a couple of secular items included, such as a sleigh marked “North Pole Mail”, the really neat stuffs are of a religious nature: Two tall candles on either side of the yard represent the One who declared, “I am the Light of the World. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the Light of life.”

Also in the yard is an elaborate golden Ark of the Covenant. Now when did you ever see the Ark of the Covenant used as a symbol in a Christmas display? I’ve wondered how many “un-churched” people have been totally mystified by that particular decoration. I can even hear them in my mind: “Mommy, what is that big box thing?” – “Here, have another chocolate Santa and don’t talk with your mouth full.”

On the roof of the house are two signs. The first reads “KING OF KINGS” and the second one reads (Yup! You guessed it…) “LORD OF LORDS.” But in the center of the roof, between the two signs, is my favorite decoration of all. It is a representation of The Holy Bible created out of lightbulbs and it’s open to the Isaiah 9:6 prophecy which is spelled out in white lights: “UNTO US IS BORN THIS DAY A CHILD.”

These are some beautifully created and very meaningful Christmas decorations that really call to mind “The Reason For The Season.” And while I enjoy making a special trip to see them every year, I also breathe a sigh of relief that this family does not live right next door to me. How sad they would make my own Christmas display appear by comparison. Heck, I’d have to spend all of December in “HyperBitch” mode, criticizing their “pathetic lack of balance.”

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Friday, December 19, 2008


“My Favorite Things” is one of my favorite songs. It was written by Rodgers and Hammerstein for the musical The Sound Of Music – a musical I happen to like, by the way, and if you think that somehow makes me less of a man, you can just . . . let me know and I’ll change my mind.

No song ever composed is more addictive to my brain than is My Favorite Things; the melody is so catchy that once I’ve heard it, it will continue to bounce around off the walls inside my skull for hours or, more often, for days and even weeks! I simply can’t get that melody out of my head, and although the song was not conceived as a “Christmas” song, it has become associated with the most wonderful time of the year because of its reference to sleigh bells and snowflakes and silver white Winters. It’s almost impossible to go through the Holiday season without hearing My Favorite Things at least a couple of times in one place or another. Which tells you, of course, that every year through most of December, those lyrics are bouncing off my internal walls and shaking my brain to bits.

On December 17th, I received a Christmas Care Package from my dear friend The Flying Aardvark. Included in the box were two tins, one containing her world famous chocolate chip cookies (well, they're famous in “my world” anyway) and another with rum balls and eggnog cake from two new recipes she tried out this year. Well, after popping that first rum ball into my mouth, I immediately raced to my computer and sent her an e-mail that said in part: “I'd better not have any more of these today or I won't make it to work. And I'd better hide this tin from Nappy [my Brother] or I won't get any more rum balls either.” I stressed to the Flyin’ Aard how “delicioso” those rum balls were. (Do you know what delicioso means? It is, after all, a word from a foreign language.)

Well, not long afterwards, a sentence about the Aard’s rum balls popped into my mind, but I said the line in rhythm with the melody from My Favorite Things, since that song was, as always, ping-ponging around in my headbone. This instantly gave me the idea to write my own lyrics for that melody. And so now I give you the world premiere of Stephen T. McCarthy’s spoof of My Favorite Things titled . . .


Ale from England and hot Irish Coffee
Golden State wines and iced tea made “Long Island”
White Russians and Russians as Black as ink
These are a few of my favorite drinks

Thunderbird, Mad Dog, and Mickey’s malt liquor
Small cups of sake gone straight to my noggin
Martinis ‘til my mind no longer thinks
These are a few of my favorite drinks

Scotch on the rocks and please leave me the bottle
Aard’s yummy rum balls and rum for a chaser
Mint-green Grasshoppers and champagne that’s pink
These are a few of my favorite drinks

When the beer bites
When the gin stings
But I’m not quite drunk
I simply pour more of my favorite drinks
And then I don’t feel the funk

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Postscript: Incidentally, I left Brother Nappy a couple of rum balls and a slice of eggnog cake in a Ziploc bag yesterday and the next time I saw him, the very first words out of his mouth were: “Man! Those were the best rum balls I’ve ever had! The Eggnog cake was good, too, but the rum balls stole the show.”

Only minutes ago, I spoke with Nappy on the phone and he said he wants a rum ball to give to some co-worker because he told him how great they were and now the dude wants to try one. The problem is that, likewise, I was planning to give one to a friend where I work, although [*Gasp!*] we’re down to only 7 rum balls (but who’s counting?)

Flyin’ Aard, if you’re hearing this, you need to get those intoxicated little elves at the rum ball factory working overtime and double-time! All I want for Christmas is my two . . .
fifths of rum balls. *Hick!*

[Hey, y’all, it’s almost Tiny Tim Wish Fulfillment Day. Read the Blog installment below, and please don’t forget Tiny on December the 25th. Correct!]

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Over the river and through the woods
To grandmother’s house we go.
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
Through white and drifting snow . . .

. . . never mind the fact that grandmother’s name is Helen A. Handbasket.

OK, so everyone has figured out by now that the country is on its last legs, but that’s no reason to be glum, son. It’s Christmastime now, and for another month or so, we can pretend that all is well and we can deck the halls with bouts of folly.

Look, Christmas is a time for giving, and I propose that this year we all give to TINY TIM (Herbert Khaury; 1932–1996). Give what you ask? Well, how ‘bout a penny and a moment of silence? Is that asking too much?

Our story really begins in 1989 to 1991. I can no longer recall the source of this information (but I’d sure love to track it down!) Did I read it? Did I hear it? A couple of Google searches have turned up nothing. But one way or another, I came across an anecdote about TINY TIM, the One-Hit Wonder whose song “Tip-Toe Thru The Tulips With Me” went to #17 on the Billboard music charts in The Summer After The Summer Of Love – 1968.

It seems that some journalist asked Tiny Tim: If you had one wish guaranteed to come true, what would that wish be? Tiny responded by saying words to the effect that he would wish for PEACE ON EARTH. Then he immediately added: If I could slip in one more thing, I’d like to have another hit song.

His reply tickled me no end. I found it very amusing that in perhaps a single breath he managed to travel from this grand, noble, selfless wish to such a simple, personal, wisp of a wish. What made it even more interesting was the fact that Tiny didn’t wish to be a superstar entertainer or the mogul at some major music label. He didn’t want wealth or power or fantastic fame. All he wanted was a second hit song. Ha! I have to wonder if being included in the "One-Hit Wonder" category was something that secretly bothered Tiny Tim. At any rate, I enjoyed Tiny’s response to that question so much that my heart instantly found a little corner for him that wasn’t being used and I let him tiptoe into it and settle in with his ukulele, while I told a few folks about Tiny’s wish. One person I related that story to was my brother, Napoleon. Remember that, you’ll need it later . . .


From the time I was a little kid, one of my Pa’s Christmas traditions was to take a drive on Christmas morning. He usually went to the neighborhood in northern Santa Monica where he spent his youth and he looked at his old home and the gully he played in as a child. Through the years, he could always count on me to accompany him on this drive. If we had any stated goal at all, it was to see how many kids on brand new Christmas morning bicycles we could spot.

This Christmas morning drive tradition continued after my parents joined me in Prescott, Airheadzona, following my move there in 1992. By 1995, we had all moved down the mountain to Phoenix and I recall that the last Christmas morning drive my Pa and I took together found us going through the empty downtown streets of Phoenix. My Pa passed away in April, 1996. Every Christmas Day since then, I’ve loosely recreated that last drive accompanied by Nappy, my brother. We take highway 17 South to highway 10 and get off the freeway downtown. After a quick stop to visit our Ma’s “tombstone” at the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball stadium (a story for another day), we drive up Central Avenue and stop again at the outdoor Park Central Mall. Here we stroll around looking into the windows of closed shops. There’s a deli located there with a large, neat fish pond built into its back patio. I don’t know what’s swimming in that water (koi? goldfish?), but they’re large and they have fins and scales.

Nappy and I would always drop a coin into that pond and make some private wish. Well, about seven or eight years ago, I suddenly asked him, “What did you wish for?” And Nappy said, “I wished that Tiny Tim would have another hit song.” I could hardly believe that he’d remembered that story I’d told him many years earlier, or that it would mean enough to him that he’d make a wish for Tiny. Well, ever since then, Nappy and I have BOTH made a wish for Tiny Tim at that deli’s fish pond on Christmas Day.

(I’ll never forget Nappy’s reaction the first time he ever saw Tiny Tim. You see, he didn’t even know what Tiny looked like until he saw an old clip of Tiny’s April 6th, 1968 debut performance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Tiny comes out from behind the curtain with that white face and blowing kisses to the audience while slinging his ukulele and looking like some gay carnival freak, and Nappy almost explodes from shock: “OH, MY G*D!!! OH, JES#S CHR!ST!!!” I didn’t approve of his taking The Lord’s name in vain, but I knew what he was experiencing inside and I just cracked up. Heck, I’m laughing now just remembering it! Tiny behaved so over-the-top oddly on The Tonight Show that Johnny jokingly acted as if he was concerned about preserving his own reputation and clarified things, saying to Tiny, “We’ve – uh – we’d never met until just backstage a moment ago, did we?” To Johnny’s relief, Tiny confirmed it, “That’s right, Mr. Carson.”)

OK, that’s the history, but here’s the future and where YOU come in: Even if only posthumously, wouldn’t it be a wonderful Christmas present if we could give Tiny Tim the second thing he most wanted: a second hit song? Let’s be honest: it was highly improbable that Tiny Tim should have had even one hit song, let alone TWO. But that’s what makes Tiny the underdog’s underdog. Let’s all pull together for the ultimate

I am convinced that if enough people in this world would drop a coin into a body of water after making a wish that Tiny Tim should score a second hit song, somehow or another, it WOULD HAPPEN. In fact, this would not be an unprecedented event, for there have been several instances of musicians scoring unlikely Top 40 hits after they had stopped recording. For example, in 1981, a medley of Beach Boys hits from the 1960s suddenly surged to #12 on the Billboard charts. The Righteous Brothers surprisingly found themselves with a #13 hit in 1990 after their song “Unchained Melody” was used in the movie Ghost, and it became popular all over again. And for an old recording to suddenly become a surprise hit, it isn’t even necessary that the song was a hit before: In 1976, six years after they had broken up, the Beatles inexplicably found themselves with a #7 hit, “Got To Get You Into My Life” from their 1966 album “Revolver.” So if this sort of thing can happen for 2nd rate musical hacks like The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and The Righteous Brothers, why could it not happen for one of the world’s premier entertainers twelve years after his death? I know there is one more hit in the late, great Tiny Tim.

What we’re looking for here is some kind of “Hundredth Monkey Effect” where if enough people wish for Tiny’s next hit song, we will reach a point of critical mass when unseen forces will kick into action to bring the hit into manifestation in one way or another. Maybe some filmmaker will decide to use a Tiny Tim song in a movie and it will stir enough interest to incite radio play and boost sales. Or something like that - I don’t know, but I BELIEVE! "Yes, Virginia, there IS a second Tiny Tim hit."

So, I’m begging you, my friends: Won't you help us make Tiny Tim's dream come true? Let's all wish Tiny out of the One-Hit Wonder category posthumously! Drop a coin into water and send out a wish for Tiny on December 25th. Make it a part of your own Christmas tradition, too. Sometime this Christmas Day - and every Christmas Day that follows - won’t you please make a tiny wish for Tiny Tim? Make a lifetime commitment today to THE TINY TIM WISH FULFILLMENT TEAM, where our slogan is: “His voice was tinny although tiny, Tim wasn’t.”

And God Bless Us, Every One!”

Ukulelely Yours,
~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Links to...
My first public plea on Tiny’s behalf:
I Want A Hippie Potty-Mouth For Christmas

Tiny Tim at Wikipedia

Friday, November 28, 2008


Well, Thanksgiving – “The Gateway To Christmas” - has come and gone and we are now into The Official Christmas Season. It’s time to put on your Xmas Face.

In November of 2004, I created the following guide for the website. The original title is “So You’d Like To…Find Flaws In The Animated Christmas Classics – Part 1 and Part 2.”

For whatever reason, the guide never attracted much attention nor feedback, but I’ve decided to post it here on my own Blog anyway, in the event that someone somewhere might find it worth reading. And now without further introduction, I give you “Ho!-Ho!-Oh! Merry Christmus”, the artist formerly known as “Find Flaws In The Animated Christmas Classics”:

*This guide is dedicated to the memory of my very dear friend,
MARTY BRUMER (Feb. 15, 1960 to July 18, 1989)

He was a nice Jewish boy who liked to decorate Christmas cookies with my family.
Marty is greatly missed, but you can catch him in the role of Charlie, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's son, in the advent special, “PREPARING FOR CHRISTMAS.” Available from St. Anthony Messenger Press : 1-800-488-0488.


I love Christmas - the music, the color, the weather, the eggnog, and yes, even the fruitcake!

And I enjoy watching the animated television Christmas programs that I grew up with. They remain a special part of my Holiday tradition. Each of the "Classic Six" transports me back to my youth, and I retain some of their most memorable lines of dialogue as a part of my everyday jargon throughout the year.

My mind seems to be geared for detail work and as a natural consequence, I have become aware of several flaws in these Christmas favorites, having viewed them year after year. Sometimes these errors pertain to poor animation, but most are mistakes in continuity. I love these shows despite their flaws and their less than stellar animation. In fact, some of their defects are instrumental in further endearing the shows to me. Each year, I watch for the blemishes eagerly, always hopeful that a new one will manifest before my eyes that I may add it to my collection of flaws.

I assure you that the LAST thing I want to do is to spoil these wonderful Christmas specials for you. Seeing these mistakes in your Christmas favorites is a lot like learning the truth about Santa Claus - once they have been pointed out to you, there will be no turning back the clock to your days of innocence. As Thomas Wolfe wrote, "You Can't Go Home Again." If you harbor the slightest suspicion that finding boo-boos in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, “Frosty The Snowman”, “The Little Drummer Boy”, “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”, “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”, and “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” might diminish your future enjoyment of them, then please read no further. Click off this guide now!

Still here? OK, good. I have included the approximate time elapsed into each show where the error in question occurs so that you may skip directly to it if you wish. These times are according to my VCR and videotapes. Actual results may vary.


A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) was one of the very first animated Christmas specials, and it is still the reigning champion, in my opinion. Newspaper journalist, Dave Walker, once wrote that "Before December 9, 1965, you called a scrawny Christmas tree a scrawny Christmas tree. After that date, it had a name. 'That's a Charlie Brown tree,' you'd say, moving on to the next spruce or fir." He also wrote that, "In countless homes around the world, the Christmas season doesn't officially start until Linus shuffles to center stage, raises a finger and says, 'Lights, please.' " It's kinda hard to argue with that, isn't it?


"I know nobody likes me; why do we have to have a holiday season to emphasize it?"
~ Charlie Brown

"Nickels, nickels, nickels! That beautiful sound of plinking nickels!"
~ Lucy Van Pelt

"All I want is what I have coming to me; All I want is my fair share."
~ Sally Brown

"Sorta makes you want to treat me with more respect, doesn't it?"
~ Pigpen

"On the contrary, I didn't think I looked THAT good."
~ Pigpen

"Isn't he the cutest thing?"
~ Sally Brown

"That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."
~ Linus Van Pelt


* BUT CAN HE DO IT WITH LOAVES AND FISH? [elapsed time - 3 min.]
Here we find Snoopy sitting on his doghouse reading a newspaper and munching bones that are stacked up beside him. One after another, he pulls 3 bones from the top, but the stack never decreases in the least. It's a miracle!

* REALIN' IN THE ERRORS [elapsed time - 3 min.]
When Lucy opens her psychiatry booth for Charlie Brown, she reverses the placard that says "OUT", so that the sign now reads, "The Doctor Is REAL IN." But everytime we see her booth from the side, the placard no longer reads "REAL IN", but simply "IN." Also notice how the animation is so poor that at one point, Lucy does not appear to be sitting behind the desk, but rising up out of the top of it!

* HABLA INGLES, MANTA-CHICO! [elapsed time - 16 min.]
This has puzzled me for decades. When Charlie and Linus enter the Christmas tree lot, Linus knocks on a large aluminum tree and then reflects, "This REALLY brings Christmas close to a person." Perhaps I'm just a bit dense, but for the life of me, I can't figure out what that line means. How does an aluminum Christmas tree and its metallic sound bring Christmas "close" to a person? Was he being sarcasitc? "ISN'T THERE ANYONE WHO KNOWS WHAT LINUS IS TALKING ABOUT?"

"Sure, Stephen, I can tell you what Linus is talking about...lights please... (your answer here.)"

* SPLIT PERSONALI-TREES [elapsed time - 16 min.]
You don't really need me to point out this flaw to you; it is nearly as famous as the show itself. Notice how when Charlie's tree first appears on the screen it has 2 branches. The next time we see it, it's been expanded to 5 branches. For the duration of the program, Charlie's tree is in constant flux; changing in size and shape with each new appearance.

* AN "ORGANICALLY" GROWN PIANO? [elapsed time -18 min.]
This is not a "flaw" (as it was intended by the creators) but rather, a creative, humorous touch that I especially enjoy. While Schroeder is trying to satisy Lucy's request for Jingle Bells, notice how at one point, the sound of a full-blown cathedral organ emanates from his tiny toy piano. What a musician, eh?

* THE CHOIR PLAYS MUSICAL CHAIRS [elapsed time - 23 min.]
At the program's end, all of the children participate in decorating Charlie's tree. Notice how when Lucy Van Pelt says, "Charlie Brown IS a blockhead, but he did get a nice tree," we see that Snoopy, Sally, and Freida (the red-headed girl with naturally curly hair) are on the RIGHT side of the tree, with Pigpen nowhere to be seen. ONE INSTANT LATER, in the long shot, Snoopy, Sally, and Freida are now suddenly on the LEFT side of the tree, and Pigpen has instantly materialized on the RIGHT side! Those kids sure do “get around,” don't they?


Frosty The Snowman (1969). Although I do enjoy Jimmy Durante's narration, FROSTY does not hold up for me nearly as well as the other 5 animated Christmas specials listed here. But being a hardcore traditionalist, I still give it half-an-hour of my time once a year.


"Happy Birthday!"
~ Frosty
(*Although the creator's may not have intended this, it's interesting to note that in celebrating Christmas, it is a BIRTH that we are really acknowledging, and so Frosty's first confused words are, in a sense, actually appropriate.)

"That silly snowman. Once they come to life they don't know nothin'!"
~ Officer Yoey O'Dogherty

"Think nasty, think nasty, think nasty!"
~ Professor Hinkle

"But [sniffle], he was my friend."
~ Karen

"Sorry to lose and run, but I've got to get busy writing; busy, busy, busy."
~ Professor Hinkle


* IT'S A (s)NO(w)-BRAINER [elapsed time - 7 min.]
Shortly after coming to life, Frosty boasts that he can count to 10. In demonstrating this, he gets as far as 5, but then follows that with 9. Afterwards, he qualifies his boast by stating, "Well, I can count to five." Ah, but just a moment here! Not so fast! If Frosty REALLY can't correctly count to 10, then how is it that he was aware of the fact that his mistake occurred immediately after 5? I have no idea why Frosty is playing dumb with us here, but obviously it's a set-up. Beware the "snow job."

* SPLITTING HAIRS? [elapsed time - 9 min.]
A woman in the beauty parlor freaks out when she catches a glimpse in her hand mirror of Frosty parading through the street. But her hair actually stands on end BEFORE the image of Frosty appears in the mirror.

* SURPLUS COPPER [elapsed time - 9 min.]
Officer Yoey O'Dogherty threatens to give Frosty a ticket for ignoring the traffic light on the lamppost. But if the traffic lights are functioning, why is O'Dogherty directing traffic in the first place? Maybe the police department is just spending its extra funds so that next year's budget won't be reduced. You know the gig! (*My brother Napoleon caught this one.)

* THE LITTLE TRAIN THAT COULD (BUT DIDN'T NEED TO) [elapsed time - 14 min.]
The narrator tells us that "When the little freight train stopped to let an express full of happy Christmas travelers pass, Frosty took advantage of the opportunity and quickly got them all out," but the image on the screen tells a different story. The little freight train actually goes over the express train's cross-track and comes to a stop on the other side of it while the characters disembark. In other words : having already passed over the oncoming express train's track, there was no real reason for the little freight train to come to a stop because the express passes BEHIND it!

* SQUIRRELED AWAY (Or, GONE WITH THE WIND) [elapsed time - 15 min.]
Our narrator, Durante, tells us how the Woodland Animals were decorating the trees in the forest for Christmas, while we're shown this activity and the cooperation of the animals. While one squirrel is tossing ornaments to another, the ornaments momentarily disappear while in mid-air. If you put your player on pause, and then advance the picture manually, frame by frame, you'll notice that the yellow colored balls suddenly vanish just before they are caught. They reappear one or two frames later, now safe in the paws of the receiving squirrel.

* CATCH ME IF YOU "CAN" [elapsed time - 22 min.]
His wicked intention having been thwarted by Santa, Professor Hinkle dejectedly kicks an empty tin can in the snow and complains, "That's not fair. I mean, we evil magicians have to make a living, too." But only moments before, when Hinkle arrived on the scene, the tin can did not exist!

* DON'T BE SO "ROOF" ON THE GIRL! [elapsed time - 23 min.]
At the end of the program, Santa and Frosty land the sleigh on the roof of Karen's 2 or 3 story house and drop her off there before continuing on their evening run. Hello?! McFly!! How did they expect this poor little girl to climb down from her housetop on a snowy, icy night and get safely indoors? Are we really expected to assume that Karen somehow survived this Christmas Eve and was around to greet Frosty the following year? I don't know about you, but I ain't buying it. A "FROSTY" roof is a dangerous roof!


Why does King Balthasar wear a pumpkin on his head in The Little Drummer Boy? (1968) Probably more than any other animated special this one ignites the true Christmas Spirit in me. Greer Garson's narration is especially inspiring, particularly her inflection on "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!" - quoting Jesus from His 'Sermon On The Mount', at the show's conclusion. This always fills me with wonder and love for my fellow man. I generally get over it fairly quickly, however.


"It is better to be crowded and rich than crowded and poor."
~ Ben Haramed

"Down knave, down!"
~ A Royal Soldier

"Outta the way, Ragamuffin!"
~ A Roman Centurion


* BUT TELL US HOW YOU REALLY FEEL [elapsed time - 4 min., etc., ad nauseam.]

Not truly a "flaw" - more of a minor annoyance, really, but . . . if you count them off, you'll notice that in one form or another, we are told no less than 6 times in the first 12 minutes that Aron hates people. OK, OK, the boy's a misanthrope - we get it already. Can we move on now?

* WHOM DO WE TRUST? [elapsed time - 4 min. ]

Our narrator pronounces the name of BEN HARAMED by stressing the first syllable in Haramed, but when the man refers to himself the first time (but not thereafter) he pronounces his name by stressing the second syllable. So, who's got it right? Perhaps the next flaw is a clue?

* WE'D "APPRECIATE" BETTER DICTION! [elapsed time - 9 min.]

After a poor performance by his "Desert Showmen", Ben Haramed passes a hat through the crowd, soliciting donations. "Perhaps you will show your appreciation," he urges the spectators. But if you listen closely, you'll notice that he actually pronounces the word, "a-pree-SEE-ation." With this in mind, I'm siding with Greer Garson on the previous flaw. (*My brother caught this one also, and I "appreseeated" his input.)


Every year I go 'round and 'round about it: which do I prefer, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (1970) or Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer? I am fairly sure that Santa Claus would emerge victorious if it wasn't for that horribly dated Haight-Ashbury acid trip sequence in which Jessica sings "My World Is Beginning Today."

Which brings up another question: Here we have an "animated" woman named Jessica with bright red hair who sings. Can you think of another animated woman named Jessica who has bright red hair and sings? How about Jessica Rabbit? Ah-ha! I am convinced that Jessica Claus and Jessica Rabbit are one and the same! Imagine Jessica Claus after a little redistribution of weight; add a nip here and a tuck there, and then some considerable "enhancement" in the... uhm... "northern regions" and voila: Jessica Rabbit! No? Well think about it - have you ever seen the two of them together? Hmmm? Have you? I wonder if Santa knows about Roger, and vice versa. (I'm a bad boy, huh? A lump of coal for me this year.)

One of my favorite parts of this program is the extremely clever lyrics sung by Burgermeister Meisterburger in “No More Toymakers To The King.”


"Our baby's the best baby of them all."

~ Dingle Kringle

"As I suspected, you've broken your funny bone."
~ The Sombertown Doc

"Ooh, I've been bamboozled!"
~ Burgermeister Meisterburger

"Now I'm crowded!.... but at least I'm loved."
~ Winter Warlock


* PROCRASTINATING WEATHER [elapsed time - 12 min.]
While Kris Kringle is passing over the Mountain Of The Whispering Winds on his first trip to Sombertown, the Winter Warlock descends upon him menacingly. But rather than deal with Kris right then and there, Mr. Warlock states, "I shall get him when he returns. He's got to cross my Mountain on the way home, and then no more being the nice guy." But what is the Warlock waiting for? He's already got Kris in the midst of his mountain presently and there's no reasonable explanation for why he delays his dastardly deeds until Kris is returning home.

* ME, MYSELF AND I [elapsed time - 8, 14 & 33 min.]
We see the previous ruler of Sombertown, the King, during the musical number “The First Toymaker To The King.” Later we find that the Sombertown doctor and the pauper whose children discover toys hidden in their stockings hanging over the hearth are the exact same character. Why did the filmmakers not use three different characters? As I understand it, during the filming there was a puppet union strike and many of the puppets were refusing to work, so the King was enlisted to play triple roles.


* EVERYTHING'S JUST DUCKY... WRONG! [elapsed time - 15 min.] When Burgermeister Meisterburger exits the Sombertown City Hall, he trips on a toy duck and tumbles down the stairs. This is what causes all the Toy Trouble for the children of Sombertown. One problem: That toy duck? It isn't there on the steps of City Hall when the Burgermeister first walks out of the building. But the duck materializes a moment later when the Burgermeister takes his first steps down the stairs. "Wanna buy a broken duck?"

* GIMME MO' LAND! [elapsed time - 23 min.]
Returning from Sombertown, Kris encounters a sign warning, "You are trespassing on the land of the Winter Warlock." But in reading it aloud, Kris says "LANDS", making the word plural. Perhaps Kris should have spent a little less time playing with deer, squirrels, rabbits, seals & dogs, and a little more time concentrating on the textbooks, eh?

* AMAZING MAIZE [elapsed time - 38 min.]
In this scene we find that Kris, The Kringles and Winter Warlock have been imprisoned in a dungeon cell. Through a barred window, Jessica (who inexplicably has not been arrested) speaks with the Warlock who laments that he has no magic left other than "a few last handfuls of magic feed corn." He tells us that this corn "can't dissolve prison walls. All it can do is make reindeer fly." Jessica feeds the corn to several reindeer and a minute later we see that our heroes have escaped and are now flying over the town on corn-fed, aerial reindeer. But hold on here! We STILL don't know how they got out of the prison cell! We know that the corn didn't dissolve the walls, so how did they get free from the dungeon and come into contact with the reindeer? This is an escape that even Harry Houdini couldn't explain!

* INCOGNITO FROM THE (ZZ) TOP TO THE BOTTOM [elapsed time - 40 min.]
This is not a flaw, but it sure is funny! Looking at a 'WANTED' poster of himself tacked to a tree trunk, the fugitive, Kris Kringle laughs. "Well, those posters are not going to do them any good now" he says and then turns around to reveal the beard he has grown. Here's a red-headed man running around in a bright red suit and hat, both trimmed with white fur, who thinks that by adding a red beard (and no mustache, mind you!) he is now disguised and unrecognizable!
Ha!-Ha!-Ha! Hee!-Hee!-Hee! HO!-HO!-HO!


Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) is perhaps the most popular animated Christmas program and it's easy to see why. The young Rudolph is darn "cude" and Yukon Cornelius and the misfit elf (whatever his name is) are a lot of fun. Of course, we are forced to endure a (understandably) grumpy Santa and the tyrannical Chief Elf (who appears to have been modeled after Ed Asner!) Thankfully, justice prevailed and that reindeer punk, Fireball, was later relegated to the scrap heap of Yultide history. (Well, you never heard of him again, didja?)


"Pull up an ice block and lend an ear."
~ Sam Snowman

"I'b cude, I'b cude, she said I'b cude!"
~ Rudolph

"Duyp-duyp-duyp-duyp. ...Nuthin'!"
~ Yukon Cornelius

"Great bouncing icebergs!"
~ Yukon Cornelius

"This is man's work!"
~ Donner (who happens to be a reindeer, not a man).

"Hmmm. Well, it needs work. I have to go."
~ Santa
(*This line makes me laugh every year!)

"I haven't any dreams left to dream."
~ The Misfit Doll

"Looky what he can do!"
~ Yukon Cornelius


* I SPY A FLY [elapsed time - 3 min.]
In the opening credits we are shown a yellow Christmas package which reads : "Burl Ives sings, Holly Jolly Christmas; Silver And Gold; Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer." If you look closely you'll notice a small fly flitting around in the snow just below this gift which bears Burl's credits.

* NAME THAT DENTIST (Or, WHO DOESN'T LIKE TO MAKE TOYS?) [elapsed time - 8 min.]
At the elves toy assembly line it is suddenly discovered with a sense of disbelief and horror, that our protagonist elf, Herbie, doesn't like to make toys. Each elf whispers this revelation to the elf sitting beside him. But listen closely and you'll notice that the third elf does not call the traitor "Herbie", but rather "Hermey." Later, Sam Snowman tells us that "Somehow Rudolph and Hermey managed to get through the first night." Later still, Rudolph also refers to the elf as Hermey when he introduces his friends to Charlie-In-The-Box on the Island of Misfit Toys. In other words, from the moment that the third elf calls Herbie "Hermey" instead, that remains his new name for the rest of the show. So, what's the little dude's real name?

* THE DECORATION(s) OF INDEPENDENCE [elapsed time - 21 min.]
No, this does not have to do with the American Revolution, nor is it a flaw, but just a really nice touch that I enjoy. As soon as our two heroes, Rudolph and "Hermbie", declare their independence and decide to strike out independently together (Ha!-Ha!), two ornaments - one green and one gold - suddenly and inexplicably disengage themselves from the Christmas tree behind the rebels and clank together at their feet. These two ornaments, now INDEPENDENT of the tree, are a neat, enriching little symbol that illustrates the newly realized autonomy of our misfit friends.

* WERE YOU RAISED IN A BARN? [elapsed time - 34 min. ]
While our little band of rebels are on the run from the Bumble Monster, Rudolph realizes that his shiny nose is endangering his friends, and so in the middle of the night the martyr sneaks out of their tiny cottage, leaving the others behind. But in leaving, the ill-mannered reindeer doesn't even bother to close the front door behind him. How long do you think it took before that bitter cold froze Yukon and Hermbie to death? You'd think Rudolph had been raised in a barn, but we were shown earlier that it was actually a cave.

* THE LAZY LION KING [elapsed time - 33 & 46 min.]
I'm pretty sure that the winged King Moonracer is not a cowardly lion, but he sure is a lazy one. Before our band of misfits leave the Island of Misfit Toys, King Moonracer asks them to go and inform Santa about the misfit toys, hoping that he can find a home for them - despite the fact that King Moonracer flies around the entire world every single night searching for misfit toys. (OK, so maybe he's not lazy, but he certainly appears to be afraid of seeing Santa Claus face-to-face for some reason.) At the story's conclusion, Santa makes the Island of Misfit Toys his very FIRST stop on Christmas Eve. If Santa's castle and workshop is in such close proximity to the Island of Misfit Toys, why didn't the winged King Moonracer just fly there himself to see Santa many years earlier? Hmmm... maybe he IS a cowardly lion after all. Santa seems to have him intimidated.

* DEER ME! WHO GOT FIRED? [elapsed time - 46 min.]
We all know that Santa employs 8 reindeer. Even the theme song of this production tells us so. But when Santa departs on Christmas Eve, only 6 reindeer plus Rudolph are harnessed to the sleigh. Which two reindeer got cut from the team? And why? Enquiring minds want to know!

* DEY MOID'ED DA BOID! [elapsed time - 32 & 49 min.]
Being a slightly warped individual with a healthy (unhealthy?) "appreseeation" for black comedy, this is my very favorite flaw of them all! At the program's end, we see Santa's sleigh flying over the residential areas while an elf hands an umbrella to each toy in order to facilitate a safe landing at the house where it is destined. When the elf pulls the misfit bird from the bag, he starts to provide him with a similar umbrella, but then realizing that birds have no need for assistance in flying, he withdraws the umbrella and sends the bird into the atmosphere without it. BUT . . . (Uh-Oh!) . . .

. . . we learned earlier that each of the toys on the Island of Misfit Toys had some sort of blemish or defect that caused them to be labeled as "misfits." This same bird informed us that his particular defect was that he "DOESN'T FLY"; he swims. He illustrated this by diving into a fishbowl and swimming in it. Evidently the elf was not aware of this misfit bird's handicap, and when he sent him out of the sleigh without that umbrella, well . . . we all know what happened. Some child did NOT get a swimming bird on Christmas morning, but his or her family must have had a nice Christmas dinner.



Oh, heck, the ENTIRE thing is "classic dialogue."


How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) has only one genuine flaw that I am aware of at this point. The flaw is related to poor animation and it occurs 5 minutes into the program when we see the feasting of the Whos in Who-Ville. Rather than spell this one out for you, I'll leave it for you to discover on your own.

F.Y.I. -- If you enjoy the songs in these Christmas Classics as much as I do, you may want to purchase the compact disc “Rudolph, Frosty And Friends Favorite Christmas Songs.” It is an excellent collection that contains all of the best songs from the soundtracks of four of these programs. (HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS and A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS you’ll need to buy separately.) The songs stand alone as well-produced Holiday tunes.

I wish each and every one of you a Merry CHRISTmas (or a Happy Hanukkah, as the case may be).

I'll close with those immortal words of Tiny Tim:
"Tiptoe through the tulips with me."

Oops! Sorry. Wrong Tiny Tim.
What I meant to say was:

[*But speaking of Tiny “Tiptoe Tulip” Tim, please stay tuned into this Blog for a very impotent announcement to be made here in the next week or two. You won’t want to miss it!*]

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Monday, November 24, 2008


The following is a paid public service announcement:

Every Thanksgiving, millions of Americans overindulge. They wolf down turkey like The Bumpus Hounds, then they manage to squeeze themselves into the driver’s side of their automobiles and hit the highways with the tops of their pants unfastened and with all of that tryptophan from the turkey being absorbed into their brains. It’s no wonder so many holiday drivers fall asleep at the wheel and cause roadway accidents.

There are a few simple precautionary steps that can be taken to prevent these unfortunate and unnecessary accidents. For one, if you do gobble too much turkey, make sure that before you get behind the wheel of your automobile, you drink several cups of Irish Coffee. The caffeine in the Irish Coffee will help to counteract the drowsiness you feel from all of that tryptophan rushing through your bloodstream and making a beeline for your brain. This should keep you awake long enough to make it to the bed that’s calling you. Of course, if you can somehow find a way to choke down a lot of coffee without the added “Irish” that’s just as well, but damned if I know how you do it!

On the long drive home, play some loud, high-energy music to keep your brain stimulated. We recommend “A Head-Banging Christmas” by The Naked Emperors or “I Mugged Santa Claus” by Johnny Stinko And The Immorals, but any neo-traditional music of this nature will work. (Whatever you do, don’t listen to “The Twelve Days Of Christmas” if a radio station should happen to play it; this could even put a packed Starbucks coffee shop into a coma! Just say No to “The Twelve Days Of Christmas”!)

Please Remember:

1: Don’t Gobble And Drive.

2: If you do have one turkey leg too many, make sure you drink several cups of Irish Coffee before attempting to drive home.

3: Perhaps best of all, if possible, appoint a Vegetarian to be your Designated Driver.

Be THANKFUL, have a great celebration, but EAT RESPONSIBLY and keep the holidays safe for EVERYONE!

This ad was paid for by “The Committee To Ensure Turkey Day Safety.”

I’m the president of the O’Dogherty Whiskey Distilling Company and I approved this message.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Friday, November 21, 2008


Yesterday I mentioned a letter I’d written to the Nabisco company in the early 1990s. I got to wonderin’ if I might still have a copy of that old thing stored somewhere, so I pulled out my filing boxes and looked under N for “Nabisco”: nuttin’. I looked under T for “Triscuit”: nuttin’. I was about to give up when my little finger accidentally caught on the tab of the S file and yanked it open. There it was, filed under S for “Stupid Stuffs.”

Back in 1993, I worked for a magazine publisher in Prescott, Arizona (the precious people of Prescott pronounce the name of their town like “Triscuit” only with a “Pre” instead of a “Tri”). Man, I hated that place! In some ways it’s a lot like Phoenix only without the lovely Summer weather.

I can’t remember how it came up (Was someone eating Triscuit crackers in the lunch room? Was I telling someone about “The Lazlo Letters”?), but for one reason or another, I told my coworker Lorna that if I wrote some ridiculous letter of complaint to Nabisco, they would surely respond by sending us a bunch of free “foodstuffs” or valuable coupons, or sumpin’ else good like that. Well, faster’n you can say “Oh, no, Stephen, please don’t do that” I had composed and mailed a Lazlo Toth type letter to the makers of Triscuit. (Actually, this really wasn’t like me at all; it was way out of character for me to do sumpin’ like this, and so I’ll bet Lorna put me up to it! Yes, I’ll bet Lorna was the instigator!)

I’ve reproduced the letter below, but I’ve changed the address (I don’t want the poor bastards currently residing at my old address to be hounded by looky-loos, paparazzi, and sightseeing tour buses going past the house every twenty minutes).

July 21, 1993

Dear People of Nabisco,

Although this letter is intended to voice dissatisfaction, let me begin with heartfelt congratulations. In an epoch that will be regrettably remembered for its corporate insensitivity, Nabisco has unequivocally proven that not every American company has forgotten how to “do it right.” The Nabisco name has always been synonymous with a tasty, wholesome, high-quality product. My longtime girlfriend, Lorna, and I have grown up with Nabisco snacks, and though it may seem like an “artificially sentimental” commercial, the early discovery of our mutual fondness for Nabisco foods was one of our first “common denominators.”

The delicate flakiness of your WAVERLY CRACKERS would have put you on the map without even mentioning your delectable RITZ BITS or TEAM FLAKES breakfast cereal (which I especially enjoy snacking on while watching “The Andy Griffith Show”). And, of course, let’s not forget about the OREO which, like the tail fins on a 1959 Cadillac, is a recognizable “American Classic” and the standard by which every other cookie must ultimately be measured and kneel before.

This having been said, imagine my deep disappointment when last week, Lorna suggested we try your TRISCUIT WAFERS, and I bit into that bland and boring layered wheat square. Where was that trademark Nabisco flavor? I recognized the crunchy freshness, but I tasted... NOTHING! Could this really be a Nabisco product? Alas, it was.

Now don’t get me wrong, Lorna and I have not forsaken Nabisco. Nobody’s perfect; even Don Knotts made a mistake by appearing in “Three’s Company.” Don’t give up on TRISCUIT yet. There’s no need to pull it from the grocery shelves (after all, the texture does excite the mouth!), but it requires a flavor enhancer. Have you considered sugar or dehydrated jalapeno pepper flakes in the recipe?

Despite our disappointment with the TRISCUIT WAFER, Lorna and I agree we will continue to extol the quality of your other products to our friends and family.

Stephen T. McCarthy

Stephen T. McCarthy
666 Dog-Doo Drive
Prescott, Airheadzona

P.S. – The enclosed xerox copy of the altered TRISCUIT boxtop seems to indicate that not the box but the TRISCUIT CRACKER is made of “100% recycled paperboard.” Please don’t take it to heart – that was just our wacky sense of humor expressing itself.

You can be sure that the repeated use of the word “flakes” in the letter was by design. Nabisco did eventually reply to my letter but their response did not near meet my expectations. No free cases of cookies and crackers, no certificates redeemable for lotsa free stuffs. I think they may have sent some cheesy little discount coupon that probably didn’t even match the value of the first class stamp I’d used.

It was my own fault, truthfully; I should have known better than to complain to some second-rate outfit like Nabisco – they really weren’t worthy of my complaint. I should have spent my complaint on a really top-of-the-line operation of superior quality like General Mills.

The next time someone like Lorna tries to put me up to something like this, I’m going to do like Barney Fife says and “Nip it! Nip it in the bud!” I’ll just put my gun to my head and blow my Dodger cap off. That is, if I can find my bullet.
(I probably have it filed under B for “Barney.”)

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Thursday, November 20, 2008



Got an e-mail from my famous friend The Flying Aardvark and she included a link to this hilarious exchange between a man named David Thorne and a representative from one of his utility companies seeking payment of an overdue bill.
[*You da aard, Aard!*]

This kinda reminded me of that classic book of inspired and inspiring insanity from the 1970s, “The Lazlo Letters.”
(I say “inspiring” because the book actually did inspire me to write a similar type of letter to the Nabisco company in 1993.)

Hokey-Smoke, this was the best laugh I’ve had since the last time I watched “Frasier.” [See Blog Bit below.]

Click and enjoy:

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Thursday, November 13, 2008

TV, OR NOT TV: THAT IS THE QUESTION (A Blog Bit About Nothing)

The American Boob – about as sharp as a dandruff flake and sadly, far from extinct – will watch just about anything on the boob tube. Think I’m kidding? Then please explain to me the head-scratching popularity of reality television. No, it’s true, Dick American and Jane Boob-American (all married females hyphenate now) will eat up pretty much whatever slop a television station broadcasts into their home. Give Dick his bling earring and a six-pack of Duff beer and he’s ready to plop down on the sofa to watch Lost Survivors On NASCAR Island, where contestants form teams and then walk around and around and around the island - always turning left - while trying to find some way off NASCAR Island. (The show is dizzingly repetitive.)

Meanwhile, his wife, Jane, (they married after living together in sin for 6 years) with her tattooed left breast and her pickup truck parked in the garage, is settled in for a 24 hour marathon of CSI: Dubuque, Iowa, where young pseudo-singers strain their vocal cords trying to imitate Mariah Carey until one of the contestants turns up dead. That’s when the professionals enter and attempt to determine the identity of the killer. Was it the Dark Angel, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, or the fey fella with the Queer Eye For The Dead Straight Guy? Because The Butler never does it anymore, he’s not a suspect.

I’m actually proud to say that I watch almost no television; that’s been true for about 13 years now. With the rare exception of a notable sporting event (and no, the Olympics did NOT qualify!), I don’t turn on my television unless I’m also about to turn on the DVD player and put in something of high quality; it might be a documentary like Demographic Winter: The Decline Of The Human Family, Waco: The Rules Of Engagement, The Mena Cover-Up, or In Pursuit Of The Shroud. What! Am I trying to say that I’m better than you? Well, if you gotta ask . . . . . [Be sure to catch my new game show going into production this Spring: “Who Wants To Marry A Hundredaire Better Than You?”]

But I will admit that I too have a couple of simple television entertainments that I enjoy mentally downshifting and bodily relaxing to. All work and no play makes Stephen T. McCarthy a dull boy.

“The Andy Griffith Show” is and always will be my favorite sitcom; it is something I got from my “Pa” and literally grew up with. There is a wholesome purity about the show that you won’t find in others; there’s a simple morality that is the foundation of each episode. For example, how many television shows do you suppose one could find in which to develop a Bible Study course around? Well, that’s just what this fellow Joey Fann did. (Wouldn’t it have been perfect if his parents had named him Andy instead of Joey?)

Joey Fann’s “The Andy Griffith Show” Bible Study course [] is one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard of; I’m actually jealous that I didn’t think of it first – and I’m normally not the jealous type at all! Joey’s use of “The Case Of The Punch In The Nose” and “The Pickle Story” in his Bible study – my two favorite episodes – only goes to show how humor can be used to teach eternal, Godly Truths.

But as much as I love T.A.G.S. and as funny as I find the show (that is, The Barney Fife Years: 1-5), I have to admit that it’s not the FUNNIEST show of all time. If polled on that question, I’m guessing that the majority of Americans would answer “Seinfeld.” I disagree. When Kelsey Grammer, star of the sitcom FRASIER was asked by an interviewer at the conclusion of the show’s eleven year run what he thought Frasier’s legacy would be, Grammer replied, “The legacy of the show, in the end, will be the most intelligent, continuingly funny show ever on television.” I heartily agree!

I first saw FRASIER – a sitcom that improved with age - in early 1994; it was one of a few shows being produced at the time that a girlfriend and I regularly watched. However, Frasier wasn’t my favorite of them at that time. At that point, I was especially fond of the cable series Dream On. I haven’t seen Dream On since ’94, so I’m not sure how it would hold up for me (my religious conversion since then would undoubtedly account for a discomfort I’d feel about all the topless female nudity), but it was a real thrill for me when I actually got to work on the show one day: I did what is known in “The Industry” (pshaw!) as a “Hand Insert.” You aren’t going to pay lots of green paper presidents to a star when only a shot of his hands is needed, so you find a schlub like me who will volunteer his hands for one green paper Franklin. There was one episode that year in which the principal character Martin Tupper is playing chess with some guy, and in his mind, he’s seeing an old black and white movie scene of two boxers slugging it out. Well, what viewers thought was actor Brian Benben’s hand moving the chess pieces around the board was really my hand. Anyway, for me, it was one day: big thrill; hundred dollars: long gone. [I would be interested to know the title of that episode if anyone out there can tell me.]

My FRASIER addiction wouldn’t actually manifest until 2001, while I was sharing an apartment with my younger brother, Napoleon, and he and I would regularly watch reruns of Frasier together on this dinky black and white TV he had in his bedroom – it was the only TV in our joint. I’d sit on the side of his bed and we’d laugh our heads off.

Napoleon arrived late on the Frasier scene. For 8 years he refused to watch the show because he was sure that any spin-off developed around the weakest character on Cheers couldn’t be any good. Nappy gets pretty worked up about little things sometimes, and he made it an actual personal crusade to avoid watching Frasier, certain that it had to be dumb, dumb, dumb.

Well, alone one night in 2001, with not much else on TV at the time, Nappy sat through his first 30 minute episode of Frasier and found himself laughing out loud numerous times. Suspecting it must have been a fluke (maybe he had simply seen Frasier’s one good episode), Nappy watched a Frasier rerun the following night on the same channel at the same time. Same result: gales of laughter. Realizing now that the night before had been no fluke and that he had missed 8 years of Frasier-watching due to his wrong, premature judgment and stubbornness, Nappy chastised Nappy, saying to himself: “Oh, you
foolish, foolish man!”

Napoleon and I then began regularly watching Frasier together and that’s how we became addicted to it. For years we’d been saying that we needed to pick up all of the episodes on DVD, but we never even bought a DVD player until late 2006. However, driving home from a day-trip to Prescott on March 2nd of this year, we stopped at a mall where we happened upon some boxed sets of Frasier and bought two seasons. That started the snowball effect, and we spent most of the rest of 2008 buying Frasier seasons and watching them together on Sunday and Monday nights (the two nights in the week that we see each other). True to our screwball natures, we wound up watching our way backwards through the seasons, finally watching the last one, the final episode (#24 – “My Coffee With Niles”) of the inaugural ‘93/’94 season, on October 26th. In other words, for the better part of this year, all Nappy and I have seen on TV is Frasier.

I’m sure that everyone reading this has seen at least an episode or two of Frasier during the years, but one must give the characters time to become firmly established in the mind before he or she can fully appreciate the show. Another prerequisite for maximum enjoyment (no, this is not a condom ad) is a well-rounded education. There are so many sly cultural, literary, historical and scientific references slipped into the show, that the average numbskull will surely miss half of its appeal. There are double entendres galore, but Dick and Jane American (or the ordinary MTV viewer) will frequently be left wondering why some of the audience laughed at that last line of dialogue.

How witty, how clever, how intelligent is the writing on Frasier? Well, this should give you some idea: I have a friend who was reading Ayn Rand’s tome “Atlas Shrugged” when he was just fourteen years old. Bright guy here. (As I told him: When I was fourteen, I was still trying to figure out how Encyclopedia Brown solved the crimes.) I call this friend “MR. Paul” as a sign of respect for that kind of brain power.

In a recent e-mail, I wrote to Mr. Paul:
“When I think of ‘great’ television writing, there is one show that stands out in my mind as the wittiest or most clever. Which show do you suppose I have in mind? Which TV series had, in your opinion, the very best writing? … I strongly believe that you and I will agree on this immediately, or two attempts at the most.”

Well, guess what. The second show mentioned by Mr. Paul was Frasier. So, don’t take my dimwitted word for it; take it from Mr. Paul - this show was brilliant! Frasier has some of the most ingenious situations and witty badinage ever written for television. (*Special thanks to Mr. Paul for learnin’ me the word “badinage.”)

For anyone unfamiliar with the show, it’s about two brothers – FRASIER and NILES CRANE (David Hyde Pierce) – both narcissistic psychiatrists, both neurotic as hell and in serious need of psychiatric help. Frasier has a Seattle, Washington talk radio program in which he gives advice over the air to callers. He and his younger brother Niles are both ultra-refined, overly-cultured, pompous blow-hards, ever in competition with each other. These guys are as unmanly as a man can possibly be and yet still be heterosexual. As teenagers, they played “Air Violins” together. In one episode, their dad, MARTIN CRANE - a genuine man’s man - refers to the brothers as “a couple of delicate doilies.”

Their dad, Martin (John Mahoney), is a former policeman, now retired due to a bullet he took in the hip while intervening in a convenience store robbery. He has come to live with eldest son Frasier as he’s not getting around very well with the bum hip. Other than the personality conflict with his “real man” dad, Frasier can’t stand the old man’s little dog, Eddie, whose staring gives Frasier the creeps, as well as Martin’s dilapidated but treasured succotash-colored La-Z-Boy recliner (the same one he was sitting in “when Armstrong walked on the moon!”) The chair is the ultimate eyesore in Frasier’s fastidiously “curated”, hoity-toity apartment.

And just how fastidious IS Frasier Crane? His home insurance agent once told him, “You know there’s a homosexual couple that lives in my building and their kitchen is like a pigsty compared to yours.”

In one episode, Martin discovers a new rip in his old chair and he says to DAPHNE MOON (Jane Leeves), “Hand me my reupholstery kit, will you?” and Daphne tosses him his roll of duct tape.

Daphne Moon? She’s Martin’s (supposedly psychic) live-in physical therapist from Manchester, England, who is attempting to help him rehabilitate his injured hip. (In a few episodes, Daphne has too much to drink, and Jane Leeves plays it perfectly. I want one! I want a drunken Daphne for my very own.) Daphne Moon is a bit “luney” but Niles is secretly, madly, and hopelessly in love with her. But poor Niles, he’s already married to Maris, an uppity socialite whom we never see, but whose often-referred-to diminutive stature and frailty is legendary. (Maris once sprained her wrist by putting too much dip on a cracker. Her lifelong dream of becoming a ballerina ended because the poor thing couldn’t keep her weight up. She once unknowingly sat on a whoopie cushion, but fortunately for her, she didn’t weigh enough to activate it.)

Niles and Maris will eventually divorce, and in one funny episode, Niles and Daphne will get married in Reno. And then get married again. And yet again! All in a few days.

ROZ DOYLE (Peri Gilpin) has become one of Daphne’s best friends. Roz is the perpetually horny producer of Frasier’s radio show. Although very much a woman, she’s still more manly and down-to-earth than is her boss Frasier, or his brother Niles, whom Roz is frequently at odds with and usually besting in an exchange of verbal barbs. Roz says, “When I die, I want it to be on my hundredth birthday in my beach house on Maui, and I want my husband to be so upset he has to drop out of college.”

Roz once considered hiring Frasier’s utterly ruthless and unprincipled agent BEBE GLAZER (Harriet Harris) to represent her also, but Frasier was opposed to the idea.
Roz protests, “It’s not like she worships the devil.”
To which Frasier counters, “Well, she doesn’t have to – he worships HER!”

Bebe is my very favorite semi-regular character, so wonderfully overplayed in the old-time melodrama fashion by Harris that she dominates every scene she appears in and keeps me rolling. (Just thinking about her as I type this makes me smile!)

Another favorite semi-regular is Daphne’s eternally toasted ‘n’ loafing, ne’er-do-well brother, SIMON (Anthony LaPaglia – Hokey-Smoke, his English accent was fake!) Simon is the man I aspire to be (damn this work ethic my parents instilled in me).

Oh, certainly, not every episode of Frasier hit the target. Every once in awhile they would clank one against the rim by overreaching or trying a little too hard. (Never let me see you sweat.) Some episodes that I felt fell well below the Frasier standard for quality were “I Hate Frasier Crane” and "You Can't Tell A Crook By His Cover" (1st Season); “Someone To Watch Over Me” and “Dark Victory” (2nd Season); “Taps At The Montana” (6th Season); “Radio Wars” and “Everyone’s A Critic” (7th Season); “Cheerful Goodbyes” (9th Season); “Tales From The Crypt” and “Farewell Nervosa” (10th Season); and “High Holidays” (11th Season).

Also on the negative side: To a guy such as myself, it seems as if a show like Frasier was just made for the term “guilty pleasure.” If only by no more than tacit approval, the show could be construed as an acceptance of, if not outright promotion of, several politically correct themes such as Feminism, single motherhood, and premarital and promiscuous sexual encounters. I’ll confess, I often found myself laughing but almost ashamed of myself for doing so. A guilty pleasure indeed, but in “this world” a man’s gotta laugh, damn it! A man’s gotta laugh!

Some of the episode titles alone clue the viewer into the imaginative writing that formed the foundation of the show: “Miracle On Third Or Fourth Street”; “You Scratch My Book…”; “A Word To The Wiseguy”; “Chess Pains”; “Dad Loves Sherry, The Boys Just Whine”; “The Maris Counselor”; “Roz And The Schnoz”; “When A Man Loves Two Women”; “A Tsar Is Born”; “The Fight Before Christmas”; “Morning Becomes Entertainment” (probably my favorite Bebe Glazer episode); “Dark Side Of The Moon”; “Something Borrowed, Someone Blue”; “The Wizard And Roz”; “Fraternal Schwinns”; “The Devil And Dr. Phil” (if you guessed that “the devil” is Bebe, you were correct); and “Guns ‘N’ Neuroses.”

The following snippets of dialogue will give you some insight into the relational dynamic of the characters and the clever brains that put the words in their mouths:

In one episode, Frasier discovers a limerick written on a wall in the men’s room at the radio station implying that he is a stuck-up snob. Downcast and concerned about the condition of his reputation at work, he asks his brother while at their local coffee shop, Café Nervosa, “Niles, do you think I’m elitist?”
To which Niles replies, “Of course I do; you needn’t worry about that!”

In another episode, a woman rejected by Frasier tells him that he is “just another, selfish, dishonest creep.”
Frasier sadly agrees, “You’re right; I don’t know what to say.”
Later, Niles attempts to bolster his brother’s spirits: “Well, don’t beat yourself up over it, Frasier. At least you’re deep enough to realize you’re shallow.”
“Yes,” Frasier concurs.

As I often said, we aren’t laughing WITH Frasier, we’re laughing AT him. But as the show’s creator, Peter Casey, says, Kelsey Grammer gave Frasier “a pomposity but a vulnerability, a loveableness; and the core of that character is a person who’s trying to do the right thing.” This is true. Frasier is a schmuck, but deep down inside him is a decent person who usually can’t seem to get past all the conceit, ineptitude, and self-centeredness and make it to the surface. In the 4th season’s episode “Three Dates And A Breakup”, however, Frasier manages to sacrifice his own self-interest on behalf of someone else; his true heart actually makes an appearance and it’s good to see.

In “Sleeping With The Enemy”, Frasier squares off with the new female station manager, and while heatedly arguing during contract negotiations, the two of them erupt into what Frasier later describes as “spontaneous sexual combustion.” This brings the contract dispute to a temporary halt. Later in his apartment, Frasier begins to wonder if the “combustion” was just an act on her part to distract him and derail the negotiations. Frasier says, “I’ll just have to go down there and confront her myself; find out if what she was feeling was actually genuine, or if she was just being a conniving femme fatale.”
Daphne says, “Come on now, Doctor Crane, it’s not like men have never used sex to get what they want.”
But Frasier bellows from the door, “How can WEPOSSIBLYUSE sex to get what we want? Sex IS what we want!”

Envy overcomes Niles when he sees Daphne starting to fall for a guy who works behind the counter at Café Nervosa. He complains to Frasier incredulously, “How could she like him? The man has ‘community college’ written all over him!”

Later, in an attempt to impress Daphne, Niles casually mentions that he was recently “pumping iron.” Frasier blurts out, “Pump iron? You don’t even pump your own gas!”

Years later, after Maris and Niles have divorced and he and Daphne are now romantically involved, Niles returns from the gym where he plays squash and Daphne says to him, “You always smell so masculine after you’ve finished exercising.”
Niles proudly proclaims, “It’s the mango-kiwi shower gel.”

When Frasier temporarily goes back into private practice, he and Niles attempt to share an office with each other, but soon, Niles has become so irritated by Frasier that it nearly goes to blows. He raises his fist and says threateningly, “Frasier, I’ve just made a fist and I’m thinking of using it!”
Frasier replies, “You are not scaring me… and the thumb goes on the outside, Niles, on the OUTSIDE!”

Often, the tension between the brothers and their dad is almost equally palpable.
Niles to Frasier: “Is he our REAL father?”
Frasier: “Now don’t start THAT again; we’ve been having this discussion since we were children … You know, Niles, maybe it’s time we… expose him to some of the finer things so that he’d stop lumbering through life like some great polyester dinosaur.”

Nevertheless, the affection they all have for one another is real. When Martin decides to pick up some extra cash by conducting a stakeout as a private investigator, Niles is concerned that his dad will be sitting in his car all night long in a “sketchy neighborhood.” Real man Martin dismisses his son’s concern, “Oh, Niles, to you a sketchy neighborhood is when the cheese shop doesn’t have valet parking.”

Martin is definitely Old School, but although Frasier may see him as an anachronistic polyester dinosaur who would inexplicably prefer to sit around at Duke’s bar telling old war stories with his buddies rather than attend the opera, Martin has undeniably picked up some wisdom in the course of his life. For example, he says that all of his years around the police morgue taught him a few things. One of them being “If you’re going to kill yourself with an axe, get it right the first time.”

He’s not real comfortable with all of today’s open discussion about sexuality. Martin insists that “Sex is between you and who you’re doing it to.”

In the episode “Travels With Martin” (a nod to Steinbeck’s book "Travels With Charley" - see? Ya gotta catch this stuffs), Martin and the boys decide to take a road trip in a rented Winnebago. Martin is very concerned about staying on time, getting to the destination (Mount Rushmore), getting a couple of quick pictures and rushing home. Frasier has other ideas.
Frasier: “Why should we be so beholden to maps and schedules? We should roam! America has always been enchanted with the romance of the open highway. Jack Kerouac went 'On The Road'; Bud and Todd got their kicks on Route 66. The adventure is in the journey! We should just ramble.”
Niles catches Frasier’s spirit and says: “Doggone it, I’m inspired; I’m going to put on a baseball cap!”

If Nappy and I were asked to compile our personal lists of the Top Ten “Frasier” episodes, we would both be submitting lists containing about 30 entries. Honestly, there were so many truly GREAT episodes that narrowing it down to a mere ten best would be almost an impossibility. We do know, however, that there are a few episodes we would both be including on that list:

In “Roe To Perdition”, Frasier and Niles begin buying black market caviar from some Russians operating from a boat anchored in the harbor, and then the brothers begin dealing it like cocaine to their high society acquaintances in order to buy friends and influence the powerful. Too funny!

“Door Jam” finds them obsessed with gaining membership in some new exclusive spa offering all sorts of fancy lotions, potions, and seaweed body wraps - all that unmanly froufrou fruityness that the Crane brothers gravitate to. But once in, they discover that there is yet an even more exclusive membership within the spa and their dissatisfaction and obsession is renewed.

In “Enemy At The Gate”, Frasier takes a stand for all of society when he refuses to pay $2. to a parking lot attendant and blocks the exit of the lot with his BMW. Meanwhile, Roz has had to go on the air for the absent Frasier and accidentally informs his entire radio audience that she and Frasier have slept together. The final minute of this episode when Frasier dashes into the station and takes over his microphone - unaware of what the discussion has been about in his absence - is sidesplittingly funny.

In the 7th season, there was an episode titled “Rivals.” Here, each brother mistakenly believes that the other brother is out to steal his girl from him. Aside from the fact that the episode is freaking hilarious, it contains some of the most remarkable writing of all. The way in which the writer keeps the dialogue flowing and yet all parties unknowingly confused is jaw-droppingly clever. I like to think that (solely by the Grace of God) I’m a not too terribly unimaginative guy, but I was left feeling severely humbled by the creativity exhibited in this teleplay. Naturally, in the end, both brothers – being the idiots they are – do lose their girls, but they lose them to… no one.

An episode that Nappy and I would both have to name as one of the two or three best is “Hooping Cranes.” The boys wind up attending a Seattle Sonics basketball game with their dad, Martin. To his horror, Niles finds he is sitting in the worst place because his seat number is selected and he’s called down to attempt to sink a basket from the middle of the court during the halftime entertainment segment. In a moment of insanely ridiculous luck, Niles shoots… and… “Swish!” The next thing we know, he’s the toast of Seattle’s sports bars, he’s acquired the nickname “Half-court Crane”, and he’s strutting around in a letterman’s jacket and boasting about how he’s “got game” and Frasier doesn’t. If this episode doesn’t crack you up, George Romero is looking for you because you’re walking around dead.

Believe it or not, although I would find it a near impossible task to create a list of a mere ten favorite episodes, I believe I can actually tell you my single favorite installment of Frasier: Season 6 included an episode called “Dial M For Martin.” One thing I especially like about this episode is that it seems to encapsulate the personality traits of the various characters as well as the relationships between them. And it’s howlingly humorous!

In “Dial M For Martin”, Frasier and his dad find themselves butting heads more than usual and so Roz “helpfully” suggests that Martin move in with Niles who is no longer with Maris. Niles, of course, rejects the idea until he realizes that Daphne, his dad’s live-in physical therapist, would be moving in also. Even the inclusion of the old man’s dog, Eddie, and the old succotash-colored recliner as part of the bargain can’t dissuade Niles now.

The day Martin, his dog, and his chair are moved into Niles’ place, we find Frasier ebullient. About to return to his own succotash recliner-free apartment, Frasier says, “I think I’ll be off now – off to my bachelor pad. I have a date tonight with a lingerie model. Ha!-Ha!-Ha! Bachelor pad, lingerie model: the sweetest words in the English language.”
His dad says, “I’m sorry I won’t be there.”
“Wait!” Frasier replies, “We have a tie.”

Unfortunately for Niles, seeing how well Martin makes it up the stairs of his new living quarters, Daphne realizes that her services are no longer required and so she begins casting about for a new assignment. And when Martin narrowly escapes a series of potential accidents involving Niles, Frasier is convinced that Niles is subconsciously trying to harm their dad in order to retain Daphne as Martin’s physical therapist.

Well, I won’t tell you how the episode concludes; suffice to say that (true to form) Frasier’s plans for that evening with the statuesque lingerie model go awfully awry, and the end of the show quite literally leaves me with tears in my eyes from laughing so hard. This is unquestionably some of the funniest stuffs ever recorded on tape or film.

In fact, if someone were to ask me which season’s boxed-set of Frasier they ought to purchase first, I believe I could make a good case for season 6. As I said, the show aged like fine wine, and by the sixth season, it was deliciously intoxicating. Aside from including my all-time favorite episode of Frasier, this season offers the viewer “Frasier’s Curse” and “Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskowitz.” In the former, an out-of-work Frasier Crane interviews for a job at another radio station and he blows the interview so badly that it will make your own worst job interview seem like a teatime chat between Cary Grant and Fred Astaire by comparison. In the latter episode, Frasier attempts to pass himself off as Jewish to appease his new girlfriend whose visiting mother would not approve of her dating a gentile. Extremely funny stuffs here, people!

If ya dig season 6 like I do, then ya ought to just start at the beginning, collecting each season in order.

For all of my enthusiasm about FRASIER, oddly enough, my old, red-headed friend, Pooh, who’s always had a good sense of humor, once described the sitcom as just “OK.” That’s hard to believe seeing as how - in at least one respect - Pooh reminds me of Frasier Crane. Ah, but maybe there’s the rub:

Back in the Summer of 2006, I stayed for a few days with Pooh in his L.A. apartment, and I couldn’t believe all the fruity hygiene products he had in his bathroom – everything from Peach/Pomegranate shampoo to granola and dairy-free yogurt hair conditioner; moisturizing aloe facial lotions; Tangerine/Passionfruit body washes; and pH-balanced, protein enriched, organic sassafras and cucumber peel hair gel (with Tetrahydrozoline to get the red out).
I wasn’t sure if I was staying with my old friend Pooh, or Barney Frank, or some girl named Trixie. I’ll tell you one thing, however, I wasn’t taking any chances: I was sleeping on Pooh’s couch with one eye open, and the first time I got a whiff of Vicks VapoRub or WD-40 and duct tape glue in the middle of the night, I was going to jump up with the blond Louisville Slugger I was sleeping with and knock the nearest cabeza for a home run! Don’t get me wrong, I love Pooh dearly (uh… strictly in a John Wayne kinda way, ya un’erstan’), but what the hell happened to the good ol’ days of Lava soap and Brut cologne? “And you knew who you were then: girls were girls and men were men.”

I swear, I half expected to find a sign in Pooh’s bathroom stating: “This lavatory sponsored by GQ magazine, a browbeaten, manhandled subsidiary of Ms. Magazine. A free one-year subscription to Cosmo with every waxing.”

I’m happy to report that my friend Pooh got married this November 1st (No! Not in San Francisco. And yes! To a female), not that I really ever had any doubts about him. Still, I’m sure the first thing his new wife said to him on their wedding night was, “Honey, throw out two-thirds of your
girlie crap in MY bathroom!”

The television show FRASIER is one of those rare confluences of truly brilliant writing, stellar casting, and fabulous acting, resulting in perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime production of pure creative genius. Trust me, it’s way better than Lost Survivors On NASCAR Island.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering to yourself if my brother and I developed this addiction to the sitcom “Frasier” because at some deep-seated subconscious level, we actually identify with the Crane brothers. Well, my unqualified answer to that is: “NO!” And Niles says, “No,” too. Er… I meant, Nappy. (Oh, come on, give me a break! They both start with N.)

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Saturday, November 1, 2008


While putting together these first “Whazit2u” polls, I had no real idea about what I’d do with them. I suppose I figured I’d just delete them after the voting time expired and create others… or not.

But I’ve since decided to continue to create them and then post the results of each set of questions in my “STUFFS” Blog, just for the heck of it. These first 8 I left open for about three months, but in the future, I will post only four Whazit2u polls at a time, and they will run for just a single month, beginning on the first day of each month. Obviously, therefore, the voting tallies for subsequent polls will be considerably smaller than these first eight.

The next set of four Whazit2u questions (for December) have already been more or less created and they will all be related to a Christmas theme. But if anyone has suggestions for future Whazit2u polls that they would like to see, feel free to post your idea(s) here in the Comment Section, and if I also like your question(s) and answers, I will use them in a future Whazit2u poll. Remember please: Keep the question short and the potential answers to a total of four.

Well, now, here are the results of the Whazit2u? polls number 1 through 8:

Whazit2u? #1: Who will you vote for in November?
Barack Obama:
4 votes
Other: 4
John McCain: 1
None: 1

According to our poll, Barack Obama will easily win the presidential election four days from now. That’s pretty much what I’ve expected all along, and so we’ll see how accurate our poll results were. While I certainly don’t expect Obama to win by the 4 to 1 margin indicated here, neither do I think the election is going to be in doubt or require a recount. (Vote “RON PAUL”!)

Whazit2u? #2: Which of these songs is most obnoxious?
Paul Anka’s “(You’re) Having My Baby”:
4 votes
Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman”: 3
Morris Albert’s “Feelings”: 1
Rod Stewart’s “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?”: 1

Although I myself voted for Paul Anka’s “(You’re) Having My Baby”, I gotta say, each and every one of these songs is obnoxious to the nth degree – I HATE ‘em all and I couldn’t argue with ya regardless of which one you yerself might have voted for. I mean, really, it’s like trying to decide which of four piles of polecat crap is the worst. Ya know, like, polecat crap?

Whazit2u? #3: Which woman was prettiest?
Marilyn Monroe:
7 votes
Suzanne Pleshette: 3
Jennifer Aniston: 2
Julia Roberts: 0

Oh, PLEASE! Suzanne Pleshette is BY FAR the prettiest woman in that collection. Sheesh! Why, I’ll bet you people would have voted for Madonna if I had included that ugly little tart in here. You people gotta lot to learn about beauty and the female form!

Whazit2u? #4: Which music group do you like best?
The Beatles:
4 votes
The Rolling Stones: 4 votes
The Beach Boys: 3
Yoey O’Dogherty And His Corn Liquor Boys: 0

Oh, this is just heartbreaking! You people prefer The Beatles’ “Back In The U.S.S.R.” to The Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ U.S.A.”? You’d go with The Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil” over The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows”? This breaks my heart.

And what’s worse, not a single vote for Yoey O’Dogherty And His Corn Liquor Boys? How soon they forget! What about those legendary YO&HCLB albums like “My Baby Busted My Heart But I’m Cryin’ ‘Cause I Sliced Her Onion” and “If I Had A Nuclear Warhead-Tipped Missile (Baby, We’d Have A Hot Time In The Barn Tonight!)” or their mega-selling greatest hits package, “Drunken, One-Eyed, Three-Legged Jackal In A Dog Show”? Then there’s that Grammy award-winning collection of Country Christmas classics titled “Santy Claus, Leave Some Chewin’ Tobaccy And The Hatfield Sisters In My Crusty Ol’ Stockings Tonight” and the soundtrack to their Emmy award-winning educational series for mountain children called “Country Folk, Corn Liquor, And Matches Don’t Mix!” And have you already forgotten their fabulous live album, “Y’All Come Back Now, Hear?” recorded during their reunion tour, thirty years after the band last broke up? Heck, one can even go all the way back to their explosion on the music scene with that eclectic debut album of theirs titled “Maria Muldaur. (Oh, wait! My mistake; I think maybe that debut record was by Maria Muldaur.)

Whazit2u? #5: Which magazine do you read "for the articles"?
5 votes
Time: 1
Newsweek: 1
National Geographic: 1

Well, if you’re a man, you KNOW it’s Playboy that you read “for the articles.” And those articles are so well-written, informative and historically important that, after you’ve read them, you save the magazines in cardboard boxes in your garage for decades.

Whazit2u? #6: Which band is most overrated?
5 votes
The Red Hot Chili Peppers: 3
The Rolling Stones: 2
Led Zeppelin: 1

I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard a Red Hot Chili Peppers song, but I have heard way 2 many U2 songs, and that’s why they got my vote. Has any other band ever gone so far with so little? (Someday they’ll learn a third chord and change the name of the band to U3.)

Whazit2u? #7: Which scent do you like best?
Fresh Mown Grass:
7 votes
Napalm In The Morning: 3
Brand New Carpeting: 1
Puppy Dog Breath: 0

Looks like I’m the only person who loves the smell of new carpeting. When I walk into a newly carpeted house it’s like a religious experience. Put me in an actual carpet store and I begin to hyperventilate and have a sexual reaction.

Whazit2u? #8: Which person is most masculine?
Stephen T. – “I’d better win this!” – McCarthy:
5 votes
Rachael Ray: 3
Dom DeLuise: 1
Pee-Wee Herman: 1

Oh, you like me, you really like me! (My apologies to Sally Field.)
So, I beat out Rachael Ray, even though I myself voted for her. I thank everyone who voted for me and invite each and every one of you to meet me tonight at The Raucous Moonbeam for Pink Ladies – the drinks are on ME!

“Thay, fella, find another seat! Couldn’t you see I was sittin’ here with all muh girlfriends?"
Happy ALL SAINTS DAY, Y'all!

~ Stephen T. “Macho Man” McCarthy