If you like Piña Coladas…

Sunday is Senior Discount Day at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop near my house. While I’m not a full-fledged, card-carrying, early-buffet-eating member of AARP just yet, the discount applies for anyone 50 or older. (“Fifty is nifty!”) And I can’t resist a 25% discount, especially when my vinyl crate-digging unearthed this gem:

Yes, the masterpiece of Rupert Holmes oeuvre, the seminal Partners in Crime album, featuring the earworm entitled “Escape” but better known and loved by millions as “The Piña Colada Song.”

Don’t act like you don’t know it. Don’t act like you don’t like it. Don’t pretend that you’re not hearing it in your head right now, and singing along at the top of your inner-voice lungs.

It may not be the best song ever put to acetate, but it has its own unique charm. And it is, hands down, the single most unrealistic song about a relationship ever. Let’s recap it, shall we?

In the days before Tinder, when newspapers were still a thing, folks would use the “personals” section of the classified ads to find love. But wait, our Escape protagonist already has a lady. She’s sleeping right next to him… and he’s perusing the personals. Yet somehow he manages to absolve himself of any guilt or shame in the first couplet:

I was tired of my lady, we’d been together too long/Like a worn-out recording, of a favorite song

Ergo, ennui is justification for cheating on your significant other. Who knew? So he sees a personal ad that piques his interest. Perhaps it’s a shared predilection for piña coladas and/or getting caught in the rain and/or intimate encounters in sand dunes. Or a mutual hatred of yoga/health food. So while his current “lady” is sleeping, he channels his inner Robert Browning and writes a reply, suggesting a rendezvous at an Irish bar (because those are the best kind of rendezvous – sidebar, the word “rendezvous” is plural – those wacky French!)

When the woman arrives at the appointed place and time – plot twist ahead – it’s his current paramour (a.k.a. “my own lovely lady”). And both of them laugh off the fact that they were trying to cheat on each other. Yes, that’s correct, in this song, there’s no righteous indignation, no hurt feelings, no screaming/yelling/divorce-attorney-calling. They laugh it off, presumably have a drink or three (when in O’Malleys…) and in all likelihood head to the Cape for an assignation. It’s not really a song so much as it is a fairy tale.

So when I saw the album in the thrift shop, I had to have it. Especially because it had held up rather well considering its 1979 release date. It still had the poly wrapping, it still had the record sleeve with liner notes, it even had the original receipt from the purchase:

Guess it wasn’t Senior Discount Day at Music World back in the summer of 1980. They paid $5.75 but I got the album for 37 cents. Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me (and The Village People) to introduce the world’s favorite non-philanderer, the inimitable Rupert Holmes:

 

Pop goes the… cupcake?

My wife Tina is a registered nurse, and works in a wound care clinic at a local hospital. She actually enjoys the gorier aspects of her job… she is a self-proclaimed “picker and popper”… whereas I get squeamish at even the mention of a blood draw, much less an actual blood draw.

She comes home from work and wants to tell the kids and me all about the latest and greatest (read: grossest) wounds she had to treat that day. I immediately go into full ‘ear muff’ mode.

But then a co-worker of mine sent a link to these cupcakes. They’re inspired by an internet sensation known as “Dr. Pimple Popper” who shows videos of her popping all sorts of zits, cysts and other unsightly blemishes.

I immediately knew that Tina had to make these treats for her co-workers. She did, and they were a big hit.

I’m thankful every day for the people who work in healthcare. And I’m even more thankful that I’m not one of them.

 

Remember when May 4th was just a regular day?

I miss those times. (Sigh)

May 4 has nothing to do with Star Wars, other than sounding like the start of a famous line from the movie… if Obi-Wan Kenobi and friends had just had some dental work done, perhaps.

Or did I miss the sequel that starred Mike Tyson and/or Sylvester the Cat?

But now “May the Fourth” is a thing, apparently, complete with its very own novelty t-shirt.

I have only seen the first Star Wars (I know, it’s Episode 4, back off nerds) so excuse me while I go to sleep.

But please wake me in time for Cinco de Mayo.

 

 

 

 

 

Paging Doctor Byrd…

Doctor Byrd… Doctor Robin Byrd… please report to the I.C.U., stat!

“Thank goodness you’re here, Doctor Byrd. We’ve suddenly been hit with a massive outbreak of avian flu and we’ve got to find the source ASAP!”

(Sorry for the fuzzy photo – needless to say National Geographic won’t be calling me anytime soon.) You’ve gotta admire this bird’s courage and ingenuity. The heck with dozens of trips to collect twigs and straw… if s/he can get this surgical mask back to the tree, the nest is practically built. It’s the avian equivalent of a pre-fab home.

   

 

 

 

 

That’s how I (sushi) roll

Wow, free sushi! At a downtown magazine box, no less!

What will they think of next? A pizza ATM? Whoops, that already exists (at my alma mater, no less).

Visitors stand beside a Pizza ATM machine at Xavier University, Friday, Sept. 9, 2016, in Cincinnati. The university partnered with French company Paline to install the first Pizza ATM in North America. The machine holds 70 pizzas at once as customers will be able to use a touch screen to pick one of the $10 pizzas, which will be heated for several minutes, placed in a cardboard box and ejected through a slot. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

 

How about a vending machine that dispenses fishing bait? Wait, that exists too.

Guess the only thing left to invent is a soft-serve machine that dispenses Cheez-Whiz instead of ice cream.

 

My patent is already pending.

 

 

Dog days

You know that:

A. You’re of a certain age AND

B. you watched too much Saturday morning TV

If every time you see a German Shepherd dog, you think of Run, Joe, Run.

RJR (as we true fans call it), was a live-action Saturday morning show that ran from ’74 until ’76. The premise was… interesting…

[opening narration] WANTED: Male German Shepherd, Black And Tan. Answers to the name of Joe. Accused of attacking his trainer, Sgt. Will Corey. A crime he did not commit. Only Corey can prove him innocent, but he must find Joe before his pursuers track him down.

So basically the show was The Fugitive as played by a dog. (Fun fact: the narrator was Paul Frees, a voice actor who also played Boris Badenov, Burgermeister Meisterburger and The Pillsbury Doughboy.)

Thank goodness the description told us the German Shepherd’s colors, “black and tan” or else we would’ve wasted a lot of time tracking down all those purple German Shepherds.

Poor Joe was misunderstood, and always got in trouble when he was just trying to help. Like in this episode with Kristy McNichol. He gives a toddler  her milk bottle and chases a fox out of the chicken cage, and gets nothing but grief for it. (Also worth noting that Sgt. Will Corey had a car phone waaay before anyone else did.)

You’d think a single dog was OJ Simpson in a White Bronco the way he was chased by so many authorities. Guess that $200 bounty went a lot further in the 70s.

Read more about RJR here.

 

Where’s the funny?

I recently watched the new Amy Schumer stand-up comedy special on Netflix.

I was completely underwhelmed. A lot of empty calories, and very few laughs, or even giggles or smiles. Netflix really should change the summary to “Amy Schumer riffs on sex and bodily functions” because that was 99% of her routine. I’m sure some folks will find that amusing, but it certainly isn’t very creative.

I loved Richard Pryor, and he could be filthy, but a lot of his bits were both profane AND profound. Listen to this less-than-two-minute clip of Pryor’s bit on black males and cops… it’s from 1974 but it could have been written yesterday (sadly). There are more laughs in that bit than in the entire hour-long Schumer special.

Guess I should’ve watched the Mystery Science Theater 3000 reboot instead. Or perhaps not.

Going, going… Gong!

Chuck Barris, the creator and host of one of my favorite childhood shows, The Gong Show, passed away a couple of weeks ago. The Gong Show was unlike anything else on TV back then, and I loved the complete wackiness of the entire thing. It was like a sideshow version of America’s Got Talent. Amateurs would perform all sorts of weird vaudeville-style acts (or “stuff” as Chuck would call it), and three celebrity judges (a roster that included Jaye P. Morgan, Rex Reed, Rip Taylor, Jamie Farr, Arte Johnson and David Letterman) could either hit a giant gong to end the awfulness, or give the acts a score if they liked them.

  

Chuck didn’t fit the mold of a classic game show host – he wore wacky hats, cracked up instead of staying in character, brought out stagehands to dance… he was in on the joke and brought us along for the ride.

Barris’ original idea had been to create a show that featured fine performers, but in his search for talent, he frequently encountered awful acts. “I came back and said, ‘Let’s change the show, have all bad acts and one or two good ones, and people can make a judgment,’ ” he said in a 2010 interview with The Archive of American Television.

“Everybody could relate to somebody wearing a lampshade and dancing around,” Barris said. “Bad acts are inherent in everyone.”

[from this obit in The Hollywood Reporter – well worth a read]

Chuck also boosted the careers of folks like composer Danny Elfman (as part of Oingo Boingo), Paul “Pee Wee Herman” Reubens and The Unknown Comic.

 

Chuck seemed a bit crazy, and he probably was (later he wrote a book Confessions of a Dangerous Mind where he claimed to be a CIA assassin). But he was crazy like a fox. He wrote a hit song in 1962, “Palisades Park” (a now-defunct amusement park that was close to my birthplace of Jersey City, NJ).

He was the creator of two other classic game shows, The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game. He wrote two bestselling books, and was a pioneer of first-run syndication, selling The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game to TV stations after ABC cancelled them. In 1986 he sold his shares in Chuck Barris Productions for a cool $86 million. So he was dancing all the way to the bank.

So long, Chuck, and thanks for all the great stuff!

 

 

 

 

I don’t know why they call it “March Madness”

Taking two days off work and setting up 4 TVs (and a laptop) in your living room to binge watch college basketball games for 12 hours straight each day sounds perfectly sane to me.

Just remember to root for the team favored by award-winning actors everywhere:

So far, so good…

 

 

Mad at Bad Dad

My 13-year-0ld daughter Leah is not what I’d call a “morning person.” I suppose very few teenagers are, but she’s the poster child for pre-dawn sluggishness. And guess who gets to wake her up every school day, at the ungodly hour of 6 a.m.? That’s right, her dear old dad. It’s somewhat akin to poking your bare hands into a rattlesnake den, or opening a hornet’s nest with a head-butt. If there’s a right side of the bed for her, we haven’t found it yet.

I try to wake her as gently as possibly, because I know that according to research, teens naturally need a later wake-up schedule. But we’re under the gun if she and her brother are going to catch the school bus at the end of our street at 6:32 (not 6:33… we’ve learned the hard way). Here’s how it usually goes:

6:00 a.m. “Leah, honey, it’s time to wake up…”

6:10 a.m. “Leah, it’s 6:10… I’m going to turn your light on now.”

6:15 a.m. “C’mon Leah, we have to get going.”

6:18 a.m. I stomp up the stairs from the kitchen, and that’s usually her signal to get up and shut her door in my face. I don’t care, because at least she’s up.

But now I have a secret weapon, a brand new musical alarm. It was inspired by my college buddy Vinnie, who used to wake up his teenage daughter Alana by playing the first 12 seconds of Carole King’s “Beautiful” on repeat until she got out of bed.

So I’ve put together my own little morning mashup medley for my precious only daughter, as a reminder that we need to catch the bus:

Yeah, it’s not as sweet and harmonious as a Carole King song, but it gets the job done. Better yet, it combines classic indie rock tunes from the fantastic Royal Crescent Mob and The Replacements (one of my all-time favorite bands) with a snippet from a new song called “Old Friends” from an up-and-coming band out of New Jersey called Pinegrove. (Check out their debut album here.)

Sure, Leah might be psychologically scarred for life, but at least she could turn out to be an indie rock fan!