Sunday, November 28, 2010

Flying Monkeys in the Mist I

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore!
Is this Delaware?

A better copy of this post is available by clicking below. This version needs reformatting. 

Part I
For nearly forty years (that is, as of 1939) this story has given faithful service to the Young in Heart; and Time has been powerless to put its kindly philosophy out of fashion.
To those of you who have been faithful to it in return --- and to the Young in Heart --- we dedicate this un-authorized, shoddy, and hastily thrown together travesty. It’ll kill 10 minutes for you.
We hope you enjoy it. Or at least don’t want to break into my house and lynch me!
(Note: This is a really long post. I'd recommend you bring it on a plane, into the men's room, or best yet, get me to read it to you!)
Cast of Characters

Dorothy (Judy Garland) --- The Legend. You don’t have to be gay to love Judy!
Scarecrow (Ray Bolger) --- Aside from his classic turn here, this great song and dance man is largely unknown to post-Boomers. Who do millenials think is a great dancer --- Lady Gaga?
Tin Man (Jack Haley) --- Even less well-known today is this funny light leading man who stepped in and mercifully spared us a lifetime of watching Jed Clampett blow smoke out a funnel atop his head!
Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr) --- A great vaudevillian and comic actor and the only “Member of the Tribe” in the film. For your next version of The Hanukkah Song, Adam Sandler, belatedly take note already!
Wizard of Oz (Frank Morgan) --- Jovial and avuncular with that one-of-a-kind voice, he actually played five different roles. Well, only two here; it’s just a dopey parody folks, not the actual movie!
Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) --- Years later she morphed into Cora the Coffee Lady in a series of nostalgic commercials, always a welcome sight to Boomers and their elders. But I’m still not sure I’d drink any coffee she’d hand me!
Glinda (Billie Burke) --- An unusual bit of casting, sort of like a contemporaneous version of Betty White in the part. Ms. Burke was a bit long in the tooth to play a "beautiful witch," but she pulled it off just fine with her charming voice and a battalion of makeup artists.
Auntie Em (Clara Blandick) --- Perhaps the most iconic character in movie history whose face you can’t close your eyes and picture.
Uncle Henry (Charley Grapewin) --- Perhaps the second most iconic character….
Munchkins (The Singer Midgets) --- Who the hell was Singer? What was his mysterious hold over the Munchkins? Was he the real life Wicked Witch of the West?
The Flying Monkeys --- Over 700 real Flying Monkeys were imported from Borneo to Hollywood by famed naturalist Jack Hanna Sr. for three weeks of shooting at a cost to the studio of over $27,000 in live rats! Not to mention the handful of paternity suits.
Hymie Moskowitz (Fred Armisen) --- I made him up! Whaddya goin’ do about it?
Toto (Toto) --- Probably the only sane one in the bunch!
Scene 1 – Kansas
We first see Dorothy, Toto in hand, as she runs towards the farmhouse where she lives with Auntie Em and Uncle Henry. At this point the movie is in black and white only, serving to represent how the dull windswept Kansas landscape resembles your own miserable boring little life.
No offense now.
Dorothy: She isn't coming yet, Toto. Did she hurt you? She tried to, didn't she? Come on – we'll go tell Uncle Henry and Auntie Em. And then we’ll put it on Facebook! C’mon, Toto!
Dorothy runs into the farmyard where, through the miracle of Foreshadowing, she encounters three of the farm’s hired hands.
Dorothy: Oh, here you all are! Hunk, Zeke, Hickory: Miss Gulch is after Toto! What can I do!?
Hunk: Dorothy, you have to use your head about Miss Gulch. Your head ain't made of straw, you know. It’s actually made of a gooey bulbous gray matter, floating in a gloppy viscous solution --- actually, straw’s a lot more pleasant!

Zeke: Are you gonna let that old Gulch heifer try and buffalo ya? She ain't nothin' to be afraid of. Have a little courage, that's all. AHHHHHH!!! I broke a nail! Help! Help!
Hickory: I’d use a little heart, Dorothy. Y’know, someday, they're going to erect a statue to me in this town!

Auntie Em: (entering the scene) From what I’ve heard, Hickory, I’d avoid the using the word “erect” if I were you! And
Dorothy, I heard all that about Miss Gulch. Stay away from her and find yourself some place where there isn’t any trouble!
Hunk, Hickory, Zeke, and Auntie Em all depart, leaving Dorothy & Toto alone.
Dorothy: Some place where there isn't any trouble. Where? Like the Korean Peninsula? Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be. It's far, far away, behind the moon, beyond the rain … okay, now a little to the left, a bit higher on the right ... we'll hang this thing yet .... that's it, perfect!
(Singing) Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high
There's a land that I heard of from some lame old random guy.
Somewhere, over the rainbow, skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream tell the world "F* c k You!"

Some day I'll wish upon a star, and wake up where you curs are far behind me,
Where troubles melt like lemon drops,
The world is blessed with paid-off cops,
And no creditor will never find me!

Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow. Why then, oh why, can't I?
If crappy little bluebirds fly, why oh why, can't I?
(speaking) Well, folks, that was your first song parody and frankly, it wasn't that great. I promise you they'll get better, but like how much did you pay for all this?
The scene shifts and Miss Gulch is seen riding her rickety little bicycle up to the farmhouse and knocking on the door, where she is greeted by Ward and June ... I mean, Uncle Henry and Auntie Em. Sorry, iconic character mix-up.
Miss Gulch: I want to see you both. That little dog of Dorothy’s bit me!
Uncle Henry: That poor feller! Think we should have his stomach pumped?

Miss Gulch: No, you nincompoop! I’ve got a court order to take him to the sheriff to be destroyed. And if the sheriff won’t do it, I’ll get Deputy Fife!
Dorothy: (rushing forward) Destroyed? That last joke is the only thing that should be destroyed!
Auntie Em: We can't go against the law, Dorothy. Years ago, I fought the law…. and the law won. There, is that funnier?
Dorothy: No, no, no! You both need better writers! And I won't let you take Toto! (to Miss Gulch) You go away, you wicked old witch!
Uncle Henry: (to the audience) That’s a bit more Foreshadowing, folks. In case you haven't noticed, we're big on that here in Kansas. There's not much else to do.
Dorothy turns away to her room, sobbing.
Auntie Em: Almira Gulch, for twenty-three years I've been dying to tell you what I thought of you. And now... well, being a Christian woman … I can't say it! (pause) That’s why I brought my friend Hymie Moskowitz over today. Go ahead, Hymie, tell her what we think of her!!
Hymie steps out from the corner of the room.
Hymie: Actually, Emmy, I kind of like her. She seeing anybody?
Auntie Em: Hymie! All the way from NYC for this!
In front of the distraught Auntie Em and Uncle Henry, Miss Gulch stuffs Toto into her basket and begins pedaling away on her crappy little bicycle. But just a short way down the road, Miss Gulch’s cell phone rings ....
Miss Gulch: (answering) Oh, Hymie! How are you? No, I never dated a Jew before. Y’know, I understand that Jewish men are ... umm ... quite well endow...
Incredulous at what he's hearing, Toto pushes his head out of Miss Gulch’s basket, looks around, sees his chance to escape, and goes for it!
Miss Gulch: Eaten a knish? No, never have, Hymie, but I think I like the sound of that ...
Thoroughly nauseated by Miss Gulch’s conversation, Toto runs back down the road and leaps through the window into Dorothy’s bedroom.
Dorothy: Toto, you’re back! They'll be coming for you any minute. We've got to get away. Uhh, you got any dough? I’m a little short...

Dorothy and Toto flee from the house and across the barren Kansas landscape (Hot damn, that was awfully good descriptive writing, don’t you think?) They shortly arrive at a wooden bridge, on the other side of which is a broken down wagon with the sign “Professor MARVEL, Acclaimed by The Crowned Heads of Europe, Let Him Read Your Past, Present & Future in His Crystal, Also he’s a Notary.”
Professor Marvel: Hello, young lady! What are you up to? No, wait, let me guess. You’re running away.
Dorothy: How’d you guess?
Professor Marvel: Professor Marvel never guesses, he knows. Plus we’re here in the middle of T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland; I hardly thought you were scouting locations for the next Judd Apatow movie!
Dorothy: Can Toto and I go with you and see all the Crowned Heads of Europe?
Professor Marvel: Well, I only get to see the crowned heads, not the whole bodies. That pretty much limits things to Marie Antoinette and Louis the XVI. Don’t hold your breath for Prince William and Kate Middleton!
Professor Marvel leads Dorothy and Toto into his wagon to read what the future holds if the two join him in his travels by gazing into his Crystal Ball (which has nothing to do with the private parts of a well-known Jewish comedian; clean up your mind, sleazeball!) As Dorothy closes her eyes, Professor Marvel rummages through her basket.
Professor Marvel: I see a woman wearing a polka-dot dress. She's care-worn.
Dorothy: That must be my Auntie Em. What's she doing?
Professor Marvel: Why she's crying. Someone has hurt her, someone she loves very much. What's this? She's putting her hand on her heart and dropping down on the bed!
Dorothy: Oh no! What else?
Professor Marvel: She seems to really love children, and …. she also has very, very thick lips! (incredulously) Each one of her lips is thicker than both of Mick Jagger’s!
Dorothy: That’s not Auntie Em, you idiot, that’s Angelina Jolie! What were you doing, Marvel, rifling through my Us Magazine?
Professor Marvel: Angelina Jolie? Oh,well, then the Auntie Em in my fantasy can put her polka-dot dress back on and skedaddle! Now not to be rude but ... you skedaddle too, kid!
Dorothy and Toto leap up into the air (what else were they going to leap up into? A jar of Hellman's Mayonnaise?) and begin racing back toward the farm.
Dorothy: Goodbye, Professor Marvel, and thanks. If I ever need anything notarized....
Professor Marvel: (to his horse) Better get under cover, Sylvester, there's a storm blowin' up, a whopper! Poor little kid! I hope she gets home all right. Not that I offered to take her home or anything. Okay, let’s go watch HBO, Sylvester --- the new season of Curb is on!
As Dorothy reaches the farm, a tornado is literally chewing up the scenery behind her. (It is not alone.) Auntie Em, Uncle Henry, Hunk, Hickory, and Zeke are frantically trying to get into the underground storm shelter, pushing each other out of the way like the Three Stooges!
Zeke: It's a twister! It's a twister!
Hickory: Hey, that’s a great game! Especially if we can get Dorothy and Auntie Em to play!
Auntie Em: Dorothy, Dorothy, where are you? Damn, she owes me money!
Uncle Henry: Ahh, she borrows from everyone. Even Toto!
Uncle Henry slams the shelter door shut as if he just saw a whole life insurance salesperson coming up the walkway. Seconds later, Dorothy and Toto arrive.
Dorothy: Auntie Em! Uncle Henry! Please let me in! There’s no HBO in the farmhouse and the new season of Curb is on!
Dorothy and Toto rush back into the house where Dorothy gets a clonk on the head. Falling on her bed, her brain begins swimming like Michael Phelps (only a little better looking) as the farmhouse flies into the sky. Out the window she sees:
• an old lady knitting calmly in a rocking chair,
• a moo-cow,
• all kinds of flotsom and jetsom tfrom the storm,
• two gentlemen steadily rowing a boat who politely doff their hats to her, and
• Miss Gulch, madly pedaling her bicycle through the air, nightmarishly transforming before our eyes into a cackling witch with a pointed hat and cape on a zooming broomstick!
Is it any wonder why to many of us Boomers this part of the film reminds us most of the 60's?
Scene II - The Land of Oz
Dorothy awakes and rises from her bed.
Dorothy: Oh! That was cool, eh Toto? Let’s get some cotton candy, get back in line, and do it again!
Toto regards Dorothy with a sort of “maybe I ought to get her to a specialist quick” look. Dorothy, holding Toto, walks outside the house and beholds a glorious candy land of joy, happiness, and sunshine! The film is now in full Eastman Color, emphasizing both how fabulous and miraculous things are in Oz and how lousy your own miserable boring little life is by comparison!
No offense now.
Dorothy: Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore. We must be over the rainbow! Either that or in the United States the way Sarah Palin sees it!
In a large blue bubble --- probably chewed and blown by Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel --- a shimmering figure appears.

Glinda: Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?
Dorothy: I'm not a witch at all. I'm Dorothy Gale from Kansas.
Glinda: (pointing to Toto) Oh. Well, is that the witch?
Dorothy: Only to Michael Vick.
Glinda: Well, I'm a little muddled. The Munchkins called me because a new witch has just dropped a house on the Wicked Witch of the East. And there's the house – and here you are – and that's all that's left of the Wicked Witch of the East.
Dorothy: Now, I get it! Last November, you overdosed on Christine O’Donnell and you’ve got witches on the brain? Is this Delaware?
Glinda: No, no, not at all! I am Glinda, the Good Witch of the North.
Dorothy: I’ve never heard of a beautiful witch before. Although you’re played by actress Billie Burke who was already 25 years too old for the part and looking it big time in 1939 --- but, what the hell, the line’s in the script.
Glinda: Only bad witches are ugly and …. what! Hey, what’s that crack supposed to mean?
Dorothy: Oh, nothing … nothing… (begins whistling) Say, who are the Munchkins?
Glinda: They’re the little people that inhabit this land. They’re named after a popular breakfast treat from a chain of coffee shops that will open about 50 years from now. Our idiot director Perry Block actually thinks the Dunkin' Donuts people are going to pay him something for that shameless plug!
Dorothy: Well, being’s I’m their hero and they’ll probably want to kiss my hindquarters royally, what’s say we meet and greet: Those crazy Munchkins!
Glinda: (singing) Come out, come out, wherever you are, and meet the young lady who fell from a star.
Dorothy: Nice build up, Glinda!
Glinda: (singing) She fell from a star, she’s the Witch-Killing Czar, and Kansas she says is the name of the star!
Dorothy: Oh-kay, that’s just a bit over the top ...
From all around the Munchkins come out of their homes and out of hiding to meet Dorothy. There’s Munchkins to the right of her, Munchkins to the left of her, Munchkins to the …. Is that enough referencing for some cash payment, Dunkin' Donuts? No? Damn!
Glinda: (singing) She’s a chick you should know. Or haven't you heard? When they kicked her out of Kansas, a miracle occurred.
Dorothy: It really was no miracle, what happened was just this: (singing) The wind began to switch; the Witch was with her boyfriend Mitch; and suddenly her clothes Mitch started to unhitch. Just then the Witch - to satisfy an itch - said something ‘bout a broomstick, Oh, what a Wicked Witch!
First Munchkin: And oh, what happened next was kitsch!
All Munchkins: The Witch had on no stitch, as Mitch began to twitch. Then the house landed on Witch & Mitch who were lying in a ditch, Which ended this stealthy situation for the Wicked Witch.
And it was no glitch ... that sleazing round with Mitch ... put an end to the Wicked Witch!
Second Munchkin: (to Dorothy) We thank you very sweetly, for offing her so neatly.
Third Munchkin: And to thank you more completely, on Twitter we’ll thank you tweetly!
Glinda: Let the joyous news around us swarm –-- the wicked old witch has bought the farm!
The Munchkins: (singing) Ding Dong, the witch is dead,
Which old witch?
It "rhymes with witch!" Ding Dong, the rhymes with witch is dead! Ding Dong the merry-oh, Let’s get high, with lotsa blow! Get out your dough, the rhymes with witch is dead!
Dorothy: Hey, they're pretty damn decent!

Glinda: (whispering) They used to open for Liza Minelli.

Now in a puff of smoke, another figure appears, dark, ugly, and menacing. Hymie Moskowitz would probably have the hots for her too.Wicked Witch: Who killed my sister? (pointing to Dorothy). Is it you? (then looks over at dead witch’s feet beneath the house.) Say, nice house, good construction, wood siding too. (to Dorothy) What are the schools like? You taking offers?

Dorothy: (to Glinda) I thought you said she was dead!
Glinda: That was her sister, the Wicked Witch of the East. This is the Wicked Witch of the West. She’s worse than the other one!
Dorothy: Worse than the other one? Not that it’s important or anything, but seems to me that’s kind of significant information you left out before, sister!
Glinda: What the heck. (to the Wicked Witch) Aren’t you forgetting something? The Ruby Slippers?
Wicked Witch: Oh yeah, thanks, Glinda! You're a peach!
The Wicked Witch approaches the Wicked Witch of the East’s feet and tries to secure her shoes. She screams in pain as she experiences what seems to be a terrific electric shock.Wicked Witch: AHHHHHHHH!!!!! I experienced a tweet from the vastly over-rated Twitter feed @ShitMyDadSays. It was totally unfunny!!!

Glinda: (to Dorothy) Nobody deserves to suffer like that!

The Ruby Slippers now disappear from the Wicked Witch of the East’s shriveling feet and appear on Dorothy.Wicked Witch: Where are those slippers? My feet are freezing!

Glinda: (pointing to Dorothy’s feet) There they are and there they’ll stay. Besides, they’re way too small for Dorothy’s clodhopper feet; she wouldn't be able to take them off for a foot massage from
George Clooney.

Dorothy: Hey! What’s that crack supposed to mean?
Glinda: Oh, nothing … nothing… (begins whistling)

Wicked Witch: (to Dorothy) Give me those slippers!
Glinda: Hang on to them tight. They must be very powerful or she wouldn’t want them so much. Plus you can’t believe how much they go for in Bloomies!
Wicked Witch: (to Glinda) Very well – I'll bide my time. (to Dorothy) And as for you, it's true I can't attend to you here and now as I'd like, but I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too! Uhh, what I mean is …. heh, heh, I’ll get you and Toto in my station wagon and take you right over to the Westminster Dog Show!
Glinda: Begone, you have no powder here! Nor do you have any liquid detergent, so you can’t do your wash now. You’ll just have to hit the Laundromat later!
With a cackle of laughter, the Wicked Witch whirls around and vanishes in a burst of smoke and fire. (More great writing, huh?)
Glinda: I’m afraid you’ve made quite a powerful enemy! At least it’s not Nucky Thompson from Boardwalk Empire!
Dorothy: Now what do I do? Do you know how I can get back to Kansas, Glinda? You don’t even know how to find a good plastic surgeon!
Glinda: That's true. I .... hey, what's that crack supposed to mean?
Dorothy: Oh, nothing … nothing… (begins whistling)
Glinda: The only person who might know would be the great and wonderful Wizard of Oz himself.
All the Munchkins bow reverently. It's almost as if Glinda had invoked the name of the one and only Chairman of the Board, Mr. Francis Albert Sinatra!
Dorothy: The Wizard of Oz? Is he good or is he wicked?
Glinda: Oh, very good; but he does have somewhat of a reputation for weed! They test him regularly now, shouldn’t be a problem. He lives in the Emerald City, a long journey from here.
Dorothy: How do I get there? You got a limo for me or something?
Glinda: No, you’re footin’ it, Cinderella. All you have to do is Follow the Yellow Brick Road. I just Mapquested it for you!
Dorothy: Oh, super! Mapquest! Maybe I’ll get to the Wizard’s place in time for the birth of Justin Bieber!
Glinda: The Munchkins will see you safely to the border. After that, you’re pretty much SOL!
A Munchkin: (to Dorothy) Follow the Yellow Brick Road!
Dorothy: Yeah, I got that.
Second Munchkin: (to Dorothy) Follow the Yellow Brick Road!
Dorothy: Dude, I’m not deaf!
Third Munchkin: (to Dorothy) Follow the Yellow Brick Road!
Dorothy: Cruisin' for a bruisin', Ding Dong?
All the Munchkins: (singing) Follow the Yellow Brick Road! Follow the Yellow Brick Broad! Follow the, Follow the, Follow the, Follow the Yellow Brick Road!
Dorothy: OMG, get me out of here! They’re driving me crazy!
Munchkins: (singing) You're off to see the Wizard,
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
We hear they’re testing the Wizard’s whiz,
Whenever his whiz is whoz!
If ever, oh ever, his whiz is buzzed,
The Wizard of Oz will be busted because,
Because, because, because, because, because...
Of the positive whiz he whoz!
You're off to see the Wizard,
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz!
Dorothy: Is that really a word -- whoz?
Dorothy and Toto dance off down the Yellow Brick Road and on to meet….
Scene III - The Scarecrow
Dorothy and Toto come to a fork in the Yellow Brick Road, near a cornfield in which hangs a scarecrow. You remember the scene, that's enough description ...
Dorothy: Now which way do we go? Damn Mapquest!
Scarecrow: Pardon me. (pointing) That way is a very nice way.
Dorothy: (to Toto) Who said that?
Scarecrow: It's pleasant down that way too. (pointing) Of course, people do go both ways. Wait a minute, don’t take that wrong!
Dorothy: A talking scarecrow!
Scarecrow: Yes I am, but I can’t be much help on directions --- of course more than Mapquest --- because I haven’t got a brain! Only straw.
Dorothy: How can you talk if you haven't got a brain?

Scarecrow: I don't know. Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don't they? Ever watch Fox News?

Dorothy: Yes, I guess you're right.

Scarecrow: Without a brain, I can't even scare a crow! They come from miles around just to eat my fields and laugh in my face. Even Russell Crowe, Sheryl Crow, and Counting Crows!
Dorothy: That’s terrible! Umm, could you get me any autographs?
Scarecrow: Dorothy, focus on the script, okay? Now, let’s start again! …. Oh, I'm a failure, because I haven't got a brain!
Dorothy: Well, what would you do with a brain if you had one? BTW,Killjoy!
Scarecrow: Why, if I had a brain I could...
(singing) I could while away the hours, discuss Camus & Fawlty Towers,
And never be found lame!
And I’d be so effectual, as a phony intellectual,
If I only had a brain.
I'd unravel every riddle for any individ'le,
With status or a big name!

Dorothy: (singing) With the thoughts you'll be thinkin'
Oh, the hot babes you’d be dinkin'!
If you only had a brain.

Scarecrow: (singing) Oh, I could tell you why,
I’m a pompous strutting bore!
Faking insights like you never heard before,
A bon vivant of highest Haute Culture.

I would write a hack best seller,
Sell more copies than Old Yeller.
The New York Times will sing my fame.
I would drink and be merry,
Life would be a What-me-Worry,
If I only had a brain.

Dorothy: That was wonderful! Say, can I go to swank parties with you, hang out with Jessica Simpson, and guzzle gin ‘til I pass out?
Scarecrow: I could get you on the A-list faster than Charlie Sheen can trash a hotel room! But …. I don’t have a brain!
Dorothy: I’m going to see the Wizard of Oz to get myself back to Kansas. Why don’t you traipse along with me? I’ll bet he could give you a brain.
Scarecrow: What if he won’t give me one when we get there?
Dorothy: Nah, I hear he’s a big stoner, he’ll be easy.
Scarecrow: Then, to Oz?
Dorothy: No, to Havertown PA, genius! Of course, to Oz! Boy, you do need a brain!
Dorothy and Scarecrow: (singing)
We’re off to see the Wizard,
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
We hear they’re testing the Wizard’s whiz,
Whenever his whiz is whoz!
Oh, we’re off to see the Wizard,
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Scarecrow: Dorothy, is that really a word --- whoz?
Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and Toto dance off down the Yellow Brick Road and on to meet ….
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Scene IV - The Tin Man
Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and Toto are walking down the Yellow Brick Road when Dorothy stops and reaches to pick an apple from an apple tree. (Oh, boy, this is good!) Unexpectedly, the tree grabs the apple back and slaps her hand.
Dorothy: Ouch!
Apple Tree: What’d’ ya think you’re doing? I’ve heard of tree hugging, but you better at least buy me dinner before taking liberties like that!
Dorothy: We’ve been walking a long ways and I was hungry and ... did you say something?
Apple Tree: (sarcastic) She was hungry! Don’t grab my apples, girly, unless you’re ready to make a serious commitment!
Dorothy: Oh dear! I keep forgetting I’m not in Kansas!
Scarecrow: (whispering) Here Dorothy, I’ll show you how to get apples! (to the Apple Tree) You know Roy Halladay just won the NL Cy Young, and you don’t even have a decent change up!
Apple Tree: Are you trying to say I couldn’t get Ryan Howard to look at a third strike in the ninth inning of the final game of the NLCS?
Scarecrow: No, I’m trying to say you couldn’t locate the strike zone on Brad Garrett!
Apple Tree: Oh yeah! I’ve got a great fast ball and slider, and I’m not a bad hitter either!
The Apple Tree begins throwing a varied assortment of apple pitches at Dorothy and the Scarecrow which they quickly collect. One fastapple --- clocked at 92 mph --- sails into the forest and when Dorothy goes to retrieve it she finds….
Dorothy: Why, it’s a man! A man made out of tin! Hmmm, I wonder if he …. (to audience) Hey, you’re going to judge me? The only other guy I’ve got here is made of straw!
Tin Man: (almost inaudibly) Oil can! Oil can!
Dorothy: Oil can? That means lubrication! Now, we’re talking! (to audience) Again, folks, walk a mile down the Yellow Brick Road in my shoes, then see what you think!
Scarecrow: Here’s the oil can, Dorothy! Hey, don’t yank that out of my hand so fast! And squirt it all over his body, not just his ….. Dorothy!
Tin Man: (coming to life) Oh, thank you, thank you! At last I can put down my.....hey, watch it! Y'know, the apple tree warned me about you!

Dorothy: Sorry! How'd you get this way?
Tin Man: About a year ago, I was chopping down a tree --- it's sort of an initiation they put you through when you join the Republican Party --- when it began to rain and I rusted solid.
Dorothy: Well, you’re perfect now…. At least, I’m hoping so.

Tin Man: Perfect? Bang on my chest! Go ahead, bang on it.

Scarecrow: Huh, it sounds just like banging on Levi Johnston’s head.

Tin Man: The tinsmith forgot to give me a heart. And that’s not all, he also forgot ….

Dorothy: Not exactly what I wanted to hear!

Tin Man: Let me tell you about it.

(singing) When a man’s an empty kettle,
And he can’t be sentimental,
Romcoms just make me fart.
I can’t watch a simple chick flick,
To me they’re like borsch belt shtick,
If I only had a heart.

I’d be tender, I’d be gentle
I could sit through all of Yentl,
And memorize every part,
But I’m left playing with my rattle,
While you watch Sleepless in Seattle
If I only had a heart.

Picture me in the theatre balcony,
Wathing a sappy romantic show.

Sweet Girl Voice: A reg'lar 12-plex Romeo!

Tin Man: (singing) I hear a beat. SWEET!Just to register emotion, jealousy, devotion
And dig Nora Ephron’s art.
You would never see me tarry
While watching When Harry Met Sally,If I only had a heart.
Dorothy: Tin Man, Scarecrow and I are going to see the Wizard of Oz and you should come too. Bet he could give you a heart. And you could share tolls.

Suddenly the Wicked Witch appears with a cackle on the rooftop of a nearby cabin! This appearance of the Wicked Witch is brought to you by Valvoline.
Wicked Witch: Helping the little lady along are you, my fine gentlemen? Here Scarecrow, want to play ball?
Scarecrow: No, thanks, I just got my fill catching warm-up for the Apple Tree! I'll toss around a frisbee....
The Witch hurls a ball of fire at the Scarecrow, setting him aflame!
Scarecrow: Sorry, Witch, this is a smoke-free forest! You know that!
The Tin Man beats out the flames and the Witch vanishes, cackling away! Thank you, Valvoline!
Scarecrow: I'm not afraid of her! (to Dorothy) I'll see you get safely to the Wizard now, whether I get a brain or not. Uhh, there will be a nominal charge.
Tin Man: (to Dorothy) I'll see you reach the Wizard, whether I get a heart or not. Err, she cooks for us, right Scarecrow?
Dorothy: Oh, you're the best friends anybody ever had. And it's funny, but I feel as if I'd known you all the time, but I couldn't have, could I?
Scarecrow: (to audience) What is this called? Post Shadowing?
Tin Man: (to audience) It isn't Foreshadowing, we left that back in Kansas. Any English majors out there?
Dorothy: I guess it doesn't matter anyway. We know each other now, don't we?
Tin Man: That's right, we do. To Oz?
Dorothy, Scarecrow, and Tin Man: (singing) Oh, we're off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
We hear they're testing the Wizard's whiz,
Whenever his whiz is whoz!
We're off to see the Wizard!
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz!
Tin Man: BTW, that's the stupidest word I've ever heard --- whoz! And it's not that funny either!
End of Part I of Flying Monkeys in the Mist.
Next in Part II: The Cowardly Lion, Emerald City, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz himself, the Wicked Witch’s Castle, and of course, those Fabulous Flying Monkeys! ~~~~

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hail to the Tag Team!

Seal of the Plural Presidents of the United States of America

We now enter into what is known in American politics as a “lame duck” session of Congress.

Perhaps never in history have those two words more appropriately defined our elected leaders: “lame” as in their general abilities for governing and “duck” as in how most of them act when it comes to discussing anything beyond the audible stench their opponent leaves when entering or exiting a room.

Our system is fatally flawed, folks, and the only good thing about that is how handsomely it showcases my talent for alliteration. Most often the kind of person who runs for political office is a charming but unctuous, none-too-bright butt-face. You know --- just like your cousin Harry, except with much better hair. The kind of person who should run for office is an intelligent, thoughtful, conscientious nerd-face. You know --- just like you and me, except also intelligent, thoughtful, and conscientious.

I hereby present my idea for improving the governance of our nation: the Plural Presidency and the Conjoined Congress of the United States!

 Effective immediately every position in American Government will be filled by a tag team. America will finally get both the Quality Governing and the Artificial Surface Charm we so crave, all while simultaneously reducing the national unemployment rate by 537 additional persons!

In the new American Political System, the Front will make the speeches, attend the dinners, kiss the babies, and kiss you and/or me in the pale moonlight as applicable. The Front must be beautiful, poised, and energetic but may be every bit as dumb as a fencepost which insists on lying horizontally, or as Levi Johnston.

The Wonk will study and reflect upon the issues and tell the Front in clear non-compound sentences exactly what to say and do about them. Although the Wonk must be brilliant, perceptive, and innovative, he or she may be as photogenic as a Mel Gibson mug shot and possess charisma such as to make a Securities and Exchange Commission Filing look like a Kim Kardashian photo-shoot.

We could keep some of our same politicians. Sarah Palin would be the perfect Front for a Presidential ticket, but who the hell would ever be stupid enough to consider her for the Wonk? And virtually every unemployed actor in Hollywood would be lining up to audition as the Front for Democratic seats in Congress.  Assuming, that is, there are any left.

All right now, folks we give you the Dream Team:

Ladies and Gentleman,
  • Presenting the Wonk President of the United States, Dr. Melvin Sniggledorf, Professor of Governmental Affairs International, Domestic, and Local Down to the Guy Who Fines You if You Put a Deck On Your House Without Shtupping Him First of the University of Havertown PA.
  • A man whose Grand Canyon's Got Nothing on Me-Style acne and Kilimanjaro-Besting dandruff are guaranteed to induce ralphing if you're so appallingly ill-advised as to attend one of his classes on a full stomach,
  • And a man whose shell-shocked students have year after year failed each and every one of his Might as Well Be Taught in Coptic Greek courses while simultaneously voting him "Professor Most Likely to Outsell Ambien if You Could Just Bottle Him," and
  • the Front President of the United States --- awww, so cute you just want to eat him up! --- Mr. Justin Bieber,
  • the two - count 'em - two Plural Presidents of the United States of America!
Just try to take them on, Mr. Ahmadinejah!

Will tag-team government work ….. or is it the worst Idea I’ve had since I recommended Charlie Rangel be put in charge of the House Christmas Fund?

Please let me know what you think.

Or better yet, what your Wonk thinks!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Mottel, the Itinerant Rabbi

An old Jewish folk tale*

Once, long ago and far away, there lived an itinerant rabbi named Mottel, not to be confused with Mattel, which makes toys. 

Mottel was a very learned but arrogant rabbi who had once had a pulpit in a well-to-do synagogue in Minsk known as Temple Beth Cooper. He was famed throughout the land for having written the popular Cliff’s Notes to the Talmud and an unauthorized biography of G-d entitled Sure I’ve Made Mistakes, What’s It To Ya?

Everything was going quite well until one day, sadly and unexpectedly, Mottel lost his pulpit --- most likely in the dryer along with the socks. Realizing that anything lost in the dryer could never again be found, Mottel packed up his books, left Temple Beth Cooper, and filed for unemployment, which back in those days considering the cost of living of living and with the Republicans in office and carry the 4 then multiply by 15 amounted to NOT A DAMN THING!

“My G-d, this is fun for you?!” railed Mottel at the Supreme Being.

Fortunately G-d didn’t rail back, because that would have brought a dramatic and swift end to our little story, folks, period, finito!

Mottel went to the rabbi temp agency in town but had little success because the rabbi temp agency performed background checks, did drug testing, and refused to hire Jews. So Mottel began traveling the countryside seeking rabbi temp work. He would doven for dimes, pray for pennies, and petition the Lord with prayer because he was also a Doors fan as well as a rabbi.

And so Mottel the Arrogant became known as the Mottel, the Itinerant Rabbi. 

As he traveled from village to village, Mottel soon came to realize that food and shelter were preferable to starving to death and having his private parts gnawed upon by wolves, and so he devised a means to procure sustenance and housing. (I didn’t feel like typing “food and shelter” again.)

As he would enter each new village, Mottel would offer the townspeople the opportunity to ask him three questions about Judaism or about problems they needed solved in their daily lives. The only restriction he imposed was that his responses need not be in the form of a question.

If Mottel were able to deliver the correct and/or helpful answers to the townspeople, they would provide him with a warm place to sleep and all the cheesecake he could eat for one entire week. If he would fail, Mottel would promptly leave the village while the most musically talented of the villagers would take a horned instrument and play the wah-wah sound.

Mottel was particularly famished one afternoon as he entered the village of Krackcorn. He had not eaten in several days because at his last village he had failed to help a poor farmer who had come to him with the perplexing problem of a chicken which would not cluck or lay eggs. 

Mottel had suggested that the farmer move the chicken out of the coop and into the main house with the farmer and his wife. Sure enough, soon the farmer began laying eggs and clucking while the chicken married the farmer’s wife and went on to a brilliant career in the State Department. 

An intriguing result to be sure, but not the one desired or requested! 

Mottel walked straight to the Krackcorn village square and announced himself to the villagers. Soon three humble men from the village approached, and the first of the three walked up to him. 

“Rebbe, I have often wondered,” said the first man timidly, “why is it that the Four Questions the youngest child asks on Pesach, which are quite difficult, are not multiple choice.”

“Ha! A softball!” said Mottel condescendingly. “That is because the multiple choice format would penalize anyone who doesn’t fully blacken the circle next to the correct answer and/or who leaves stray marks.”

Although shame-faced at the manner in which he had been spoken to, the first man nodded satisfaction with the answer, thanked the Itinerant Rabbi, and went back to his home. “That’s one down and two to go, Mr. Cerf?” said Mottel to himself, knowing full well that only older Baby Boomers would get that joke. He was tasting the borscht and sour cream already. The second man approached Mottel.

“Rebbe,” the second man spoke haltingly, “it is said that the scholar Maimonides wrote in his great work A Guide for the Perplexed --- also known as This One’s for You, Perry --- that all Jews must revere two things: Hashem (the Lord G-d) and Chinese Food. But which should we revere more?”

"Fool!” said Mottel, ever the vainglorious one. “The answer to this is obvious. G-d and Chinese Food indeed! One has guided, sustained, and nurtured the Jewish people for over 4,000 years! The other at least gave us Chinese Food.”

Although embarrassed at this treatment by Mottel, the second man nodded assent and walked away. “Two down and one to go, Miss Francis?” said Mottel to himself, marveling at how he’d just slay ‘em on cruise ships and at senior citizen’s homes. “Bet I’ll be feasting on brisket this very Friday!”

The third man now walked up to Mottel, but he had a question of a wholly different nature. "Rebbe,” said the third man with more authority in his voice than the other two men could ever have mustered, “I have a daughter who, frankly, puts the mees in meeskeit. I cannot find her a husband because she has a face that could cause Moses to part the Red Sea just to get away."

“That bad?” replied Mottel, a bit crestfallen. 

“That bad!” shot back the third man. “There she is by the fence, over by the goats. Her name is Meeskela. She is the one who is the tallest.” 

 Mottel took a look and yes, he had to agree that she was the tallest. “How will I ever solve this problem?” he wondered as he began to sense the cheesecake, brisket, and borscht he so desired evaporating into thin air. And so he began to think very hard.

"Well,” said Mottel, “have you thought about plastic surgery?”

“Rebbe,” replied the third man, “this is the 18th century. The most advanced form of plastic surgery involves holding the patient’s face down on a mountainside and bashing it with a large jagged rock.”

“Oka-a-a-y, moving right along,” said Mottel, now starting to feel despair along with his hunger. “Have you thought about conversion to Islam?" he suggested. "Meeskela could wear a burka?” 

“No, that won’t work, Rebbe,” said the third man. “We are Reform and she would miss the bacon.”

Mottel’s heart sank so deeply and completely that he realized one day James Cameron would make a movie about it.

He thought about food and his stomach grumbled.

He looked at Meeskela and his stomach turned.

But a stomach divided against itself cannot stand, and so as he stood face to face with the third man, the Itinerant Rabbi made an unexpected decision. 

“I will marry Meeskela,” Mottel announced. 

At that, the third man wept, hugged Mottel, and lifted him onto his back to carry him to his humble home.

As Mottel was lifted high in the air like a Jewish groom, which of course he was, he began to wonder if the decision he had made would one day by comparison make the townspeople of Chelm look like rocket scientists, which would be no mean feat because even the rocket scientists in Chelm were no rocket scientists.  

Nevertheless that very evening, Mottel was treated to a fine dinner which included borscht and sour cream, brisket, and all the cheesecake he could eat. And he stayed in the humble home of the third man, his wife, and Meeskela for an entire week, during which time he married Meeskela.

And then, a great miracle happened! 

At first, Mottel needed a good stiff drink each evening to even look at Meeskela. But then he noticed something: Meeskela was kind, patient, and warm. She looked after Mottel’s needs. She did for him and cared for him and asked nothing in return. 

And Mottel gradually came to realize that on a good day, from a certain angle, when the sun was shining so brightly that there no longer seemed to be any trouble or heartache in the world, Meeskela didn’t look half-bad!

Soon Mottel’s arrogance faded away. He became kind and good to all the people of Krackcorn. When the village rabbi passed away (under very suspicious circumstances, I might add) Mottel became the next village rabbi. And he turned out to be a very good rabbi indeed, beloved throughout the village as well as throughout the greater metropolitan village area.

One day Mottel realized that he loved Meeskela very much and would stay with her always. Besides, no one outside of New York City made cheesecake any better! 

And so, Mottel the Itinerant Rabbi was no longer an itinerant rabbi at all. Because in the little village of Krackcorn, Mottel had found a home

But perhaps more importantly --- yes, much more importantly --- the once Itinerant Rabbi, the learned but arrogant rabbi Mottel, had also found his heart.

The End


Not a Member of the Tribe?

   *Old Jewish Folk Tale - as told by an old Jewish folk. Me.
   Doven -  to recite Jewish prayers while swaying.  Has nothing to do with     "I want a Doven Bar!"
   Pesach - Passover.
   Meeskeit - an unattractive person. Sort of like your cousin Edwina.   
   Chelm - village in Jewish folklore where all the people are idiots and fools. Sort of like lots of people in your family.  

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Further Farewell to the Fifties

It was the second time in just a few months that the hard truth smacked me right in the face! 

My 15 year old son had no idea who the Lone Ranger was.  Some months before a younger woman I met had confused American comedy legend Jack Benny with less than legendary British comedian Benny Hill

I realized then that the era of my youth, the 1950’s, was submerging faster than Lloyd Bridges as Mike Nelson in Sea Hunt. Time to take stock of a few  more lingering memories, I figured, before they too sink fully ‘neath the waves:

 77 Sunset Strip <snap, snap> was a cool L.A. private eye show, or at least as cool an L.A. private eye show as you could have starring Efrem Zimbalist Jr. <snap, snap>. It did have its slicker elements in Jeff Spencer as played by Roger Smith, later to be Ann-Margret’s sadly disabled husband, and Ed “Kookie” Burns, whose “Kookie, Kookie, lend me your comb” greasy hair set off a national craze, only to have us laughing at it a decade later. But 77 Sunset Strip’s <snap, snap> greatest cool was in spawning a spate of cookie cutter follow-ups, all from 'the Studios of Warner Brothers,' which planted cookie cutter private eyes in Hawaii, Miami, and points beyond and made a full-fledged star out of <snap, snap> cookie cutter cut-out Troy Donahue.

“Dobie! Wants a girl who’s dreamy. Dobie! Wants a girl who’s creamy.” And what a dreamy, creamy cast of supporting characters The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis had: beatnik Maynard G. Krebs, proof positive that Bob Denver was a talented comic actor before he set sail for a three hour/life long trashing of his career; Thalia Meninger, representing our first panting look at the incredibly gorgeous Tuesday Weld; Herbert T. Gillis, Dobie’s lovable but blowhard dad, a proud veteran of “WWII, the Big One!”; rich kid Chatsworth Osborne Jr.; and even Warren Beatty as a proto-Chatsworth in the early episodes. Yes, Dobie --- in the person of Dwayne Hickman --- wanted a girl to call his own, and boy so did we. And even as Dobie Do (as Chatsworth called him) fades away, a lot of us still Dobie-Do! 
There were many jingles from “Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz” to “Kerplunk Go the Tablets” but only one Speedy Alka-Seltzer. In that sugar sweet voice all his own, the little boy with the chest of an Alka Seltzer tablet and shock of brown hair tumbling out from under an Alka-Seltzer hat sang the praises of the relief–giving tablets all throughout the Fifties. In those days before Gumby roamed the earth, the stop action technology that breathed life into Speedy seemed incredible, rendering him a favorite with both children and the adults who actually used the fizzy product many a morning after one highball too many. Speedy seemed so real you just wanted to cuddle him, to make him your own special playmate. But as we grew older, Speedy didn’t, and finally with a barely audible “plop, plop” in the early 60’s ”kerplunk” went Speedy!  

There in the not even yet wee small hours of the morning was the Indian Head Test Pattern, flittering across our TV screens in the place of Letterman, Leno, Conan, Kimmel, Ferguson, Fallon et al. and oft more entertaining than the lot of them. There was no such thing as all night TV, my children, and the three (count’ em three!) networks all went early to bed and not so early to rise. In their place, and all through the night, was an oddly designed screen with a series of circles and adorned with an Indian Head, as we called it in those days. Why did the test pattern feature the head of a Native American? Could it be that because we took their land, they got us back good by taking our TV? 

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet was oddly named, a show about the suburban couple next door that claimed to offer Adventures! Yet though none of the Nelsons solved crimes or explored the untamed West, Ozzie and Harriet did possess a certain quirkiness not found on most other “just dropped by to borrow a cup of sugar” shows. For one, we were never enlightened as to what Ozzie did for a living; he might have been with the CIA, sold drugs, or been the Hubcap King of Santa Monica. Harriet for her part sometimes exhibited an off-beat sense of humor, and son Ricky began as a scrawny kid who picked up a guitar and wound up a full-fledged rock legend, complete with untimely death. Ozzie and Harriet can also bid fair to be our first brush with Reality TV; as the kids grew and married, they married their real life wives on the show as well. Today only David Nelson - age 74- remains. I kinda miss his family’s Adventures

Brylcreem promised us guys that “a little dab would do us” and women  cuter-than-we-could-ever-hope-for would fall into our arms. Brylcreem certainly helped Ed “Kookie” Burns make a career for himself, but I’m not sure the gooey stuff otherwise lived up to its rep. “Watch out, the girls’ll all pursue you, they’ll love to get their fingers in your hair” warbled a choir of 1950's horny gentlemen on the omnipresent commercials as a male and female puppet found romance when the male puppet’s hair went from shaggily disheveled to gloppily sheveled. Maybe primitive wooden puppets and ultra-cool Fifties' dudes achieved feminine fingers in their hair, but all I got was a greasy pompadour until one day the Beatles appeared and washed it all away.

Zorro, in the sanitized Disney tradition, was a light-hearted look at a masked, mustachioed and caped crusader of Old California whose adventures exuded no sense of danger whatsoever. Talk about suspension of disbelief: Don Diego de la Vega looked, spoke, and comported himself so exactly like the alleged scoundrel Zorro that it was impossible to believe even the doltish Sergeant Garcia couldn’t figure out who he was, let alone the general populace of the future state. To add to the basic lameness of the show, the lightning strike at the opening and the very “Z” that Zorro carved were obviously animated. Still, Zorro and his brocade-clad alter ego were suavely played by Guy Williams --- later to go mustache-less on Lost in Space ---and for little kids not used to much sophistication in the 50’s, Zorro-Zorro-Zorro was fun-fun-fun! 

Imagine the questions you’d get if you were introducing the Hula Hoop to the world today: “How much RAM do you need? Does it play on X-Box? Is there an app for it on the I-Phone?"  Well, the instructions were simply to wrap the plastic hoop with the staple in the middle about your middle, jiggle a bit, and have yourself some fun. In many ways the 50’s were less than ideal, with blatant discrimination, no civil rights act, and an environment in which you & I could be rejected for a job easy as Mom’s apple pie. But when it came to sheer satisfaction in the simplicity of the Hula Hoop, the Fabulous Fifties were just fine! 

And to them, I bid a further fond farewell!