Saturday, July 26, 2014

This Guy's Got a Little Too Much Nike on the Psyche

These photos have recently made the rounds on I know nothing of their source nor the reason for the drivers unorthodox technique.

My guess is that hes constantly saying embarrassingly asinine things.

Or perhaps hes suffering from a particularly virulent case of Aphthae epizooticae.

If the former, we can only hope that this man is en route to sensitivity training; if the latter, a top-notch veterinarian.

Then again, I suppose this could be a pre-2005 photo of him placing a call on his mobile to Don Adams. (Laws prohibiting using a phone while driving were not widespread or well-enforced back then...)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Carl Spackler's Lifetime of Learning to Think Like an Animal

This U.S. Department of Agriculture bulletin was published in January 1940. No wonder the United States was so unprepared for Pearl Harbor and the Second World War: While the Axis powers were running rampant across Europe, Asia, and Africa, Franklin D. Roosevelts administration worried about relatively harmless mammals that, although endangering American lawns and golf courses with their burrowing, certainly posed less threat to democracy than Hitler, Hirohito, and the other guy.

Geopolitical commentary aside, I believe that very well might be little Carl Spackler learning greenskeeping tips from his father. Carls age is never indicated in Caddyshack, but he could well be in his mid-forties. A life of golf-course maintenance in the unforgiving sun and liberal indulgence with northern California sinsemilla cannonballed by white wine likely has weathered Carl beyond his years, so being the youngster pictured on this 1940 cover is not beyond the realm of possibility.

Sure, as assistant greenskeeper at Bushwood Country Club, Carls primary task is to keep the course free of the destructive gopher, but its burrowing brethren, the mole, poses just as much threat to the American way of pretending to be athleticso dont think for one minute that the mole isnt also Varmint Cong, even if it doesnt prefer dancing to folk-pop as much as its tunneling counterpart. Thus, there is no reason that an experienced groundskeeper such as the man pictured on the Mole Control coveras well as his apprentice sonwouldnt also know how to deal with the pesky gopher that decades later would plague Bushwood and its upper-crust members.

True, one would think that a greenskeeper training since the 1940s wouldnt still be six years from the position of head greenskeeper in 1980, but who knows how long Carl spent in Tibet caddying for the Dalai Lama as well as practicing to become a Cinderella-story Masters champion, himself? And lets not forget that Carl devoted a lot of time to broadening his education on chinch bugs, manganese, and nitrogen, not to mention inventing and registering his own kind of hybrid grass. So even though hes got that going for himalthough clearly niceCarls career development might be lagging...

Au revoir, mole...

(Image of Carl Spackler copyright Warner Brothers Pictures.)     

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sing Along With O.J. Simpson's Stabbed in the Hearts Club Band...

It was twenty years ago today
Police chased the Bronco driving O.J.
He’s been going in and out of jail
Couldn’t sell his Heisman Trophy for bail
So may I introduce to you
The back you cheered for all those years
O.J. Simpson’s Stabbed in the Hearts Club Band

We’re O.J. Simpson’s Stabbed in the Hearts Club Band
The Juice used to be an All-Pro
We’re O.J. Simpson’s Stabbed in the Hearts Club Band
He did his running in a Bronco
O.J. Simpson’s Stabbed in, O.J. Simpson’s Stabbed in
O.J. Simpson’s Stabbed in the Hearts Club Band
It’s horrible to be here
It’s like being a Buffalo Bill
Such a huge TV audience
He’d like to take you home with him
He’d love to stab you at home

I don’t really want to stop the chase
But Marcia’s gotta prosecute the case
And O.J.s fingers in the glove are too long
So the jury got the verdict wrong
So let me introduce to you
The one and only Orenthal James
And O.J. Simpson’s Stabbed in the Hearts Club Band


What would you do 'bout the lives led to ruin?
Would you stand up and render Guilty?
Lend me your ears and I’ll show you how wrong
You would be not to set me free

Oh, I get by with a little help from the Dream Team
Mm, I won’t fry with a little help from the Dream Team
Mm, gonna lie with a little help from the Dream Team

What do I do when my love’s cold awhile?
(Does it bother you that you killed her?)
How do I feel by the end of the trial?
(Where’d you like the price of your soul billed, sir?)
No, I get by with a little help from the Dream Team
Mm, I won’t fry with a little help from the Dream Team
Mm, gonna lie with a little help from the Dream Team

(Do you need anybody?)
I need somebody to kill
(Could it be anybody?)
My ex-wife and the waiter from Ill.

Would you believe that the glove is too tight?
Yes, I’m certain that it does not fit
Would you convict if the jury were white?
I can’t tell you but you must acquit
Oh, I get by with a little help from the Dream Team
Mm, I won’t fry with a little help from the Dream Team
Mm, gonna lie with a little help from the Dream Team

(Do you need anybody?)
I need somebody to kill
(Could it be anybody?)
My ex-wife and the waiter from Ill.

Oh, I get by with a little help from the Dream Team
Mm, I won’t fry with a little help from the Dream Team
Mm, gonna lie with a little help from the Dream Team
Yes, I get by with a little help from the Dream Team
With a little help from the Dre-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee-heem Team!

(Thanks to Drinkmore Pat for Photoshop guidanceGIF of chase copyright CNN.) 

Friday, June 13, 2014

It's Not a Nerd, It's Too Inane...It's Soviet Superman!

Pat e-mailed the rest of the Drinkmore crew this panel today. It’s from Superman: Red Son, a three-issue comic book produced in 2003 and premised on Kal-El having landed in Ukraine rather than the United States and grown up a Soviet “citizen,” fighting a never-ending battle for Josef Stalin and the Red Army rather than Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

Although I’ve never read Red Son, aside from the canon of the story, in which the Soviet Union apparently becomes the predominant superpower and the United States produces super-villains to destroy both it and Superman, it is readily evident just from this panel why the USSR ultimately failed in its goal of world domination: the Russkies were dopes.

Firstly, Soviet Russia officially adopted the metric system in 1918, almost immediately upon its inception. Now, I’m not saying that Tsar Nicholas II might have saved his and the Royal Family’s tsasses by going metric—after all, the Russian Revolution was more socio-politically than metrically motivated—but I am saying that the Tsar could have substantially improved life under his apathetic reign by standardizing the nation’s AAA maps both internally and to the rest of Europe, vastly simplifying vacation travel for serfs. Even so, why the hell was Superman calculating in “capitalist” miles instead of “communist” kilometers? Soviet Superman wouldn’t have made it past elementary school—yet he’s the USSR’s ultimate weapon?   

Much more importantly than simple units of measure, look how utterly vague and scatterbrained is the hammer-and-sickle–chested Superman: In a nation that measured more than 6,000 miles east to west and nearly 3,000 miles north to south—an area of 14 million square miles—he’s “pinpointing” a destination more than 3,000 miles away from a known locale.

Three thousand miles west of Vladivostok, a coastal city in the Russian Far East, is just east of the Ural Mountains. However, the Urals stretch north-south for approximately 2,500 miles. Even considering Superman’s incredible flying speed, that’s still precious minutes wasted in a millions-of-square-miles wild-goose chase across the Soviet Union’s spine. How many people will die and homes will burn while the Man of Stoli searches for this chemical fire by needlessly zooming up and down mountainous wilderness of the Urals like Clint Eastwood looking for his refueling point in Firefox?

Considering that Stalin and Soviet Superman are surely in Moscow—4,000 miles east of Vladivostok and thus obviously much closer to the chemical fire than that cross-continental port city—citing Vladivostok as a reference point makes absolutely nyet sense. Why not use Yekaterinburg, a major city on the eastern slope of the Urals and approximately those 3,000 miles west of Vladivostok, as the reference point? It’s still almost 900 miles from Moscow, thus preserving the image of Superman heroically coming to the rescue from a great distance yet eliminating the asinine inexactitude that betrays his stupidity. After all, one does not summon emergency services by saying that an ambulance is needed fifty miles west of a town located fifty miles to the east…

That neither Comrade Kent nor Stalin—who also foolishly fails to demand a more-specific location—could not fathom such obvious logic displays the kind of flawed reasoning that led to the USSR’s demise. Would American Superman know to go to San Francisco if he were needed “3,000 miles west of New York”? Of course not—but, possessing the American penchant for individual thought and the free exchange of ideas, you can bet he would look into it, he would at least ask for directions. Little wonder the USSR never landed a man on the moon, conquered capitalism, or beat the Broad Street Bullies in 1976—those Soviets were such slaves to their own narrow-minded system, their overbearing Mother Russia, that they were utterly incapable of thinking even slightly out of the Bloc.

Not that the United States owns an unblemished heritage of geniuses at the helm—the US government atom- and hydrogen-bombed its own country more than a thousand times since the end of World War II—but at least our superheroes’ kryptonite isn’t common sense and our pizza deliverymen get their precious cargo to hungry mouths without empty-headedly basing their route on the customer’s distance from the Cumberland Gap.

(Superman: Red Son panel copyright DC Comics; map of Russia copyright

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Abraham, Father of Nations...Abe Vigoda, Father of Patience

Abe Vigoda continues to astonish with his longevity—especially those who thought he died long ago. (The extremely veteran actor has been reported as deceased on at least three occasions over the last thirty years.) Born Abraham Vigoda in February 1921 to Russian-Jewish immigrants, he remains the highest-ranking Jew in the history of the Italian Mafia, enjoying the status of caporegime in the Corleone crime family until his forced “retirement.”

Now 93 years old—and having looked ancient for many decades; he was a mere 51 in The Godfather yet appeared easily to be in his sixties—I’m wondering if Vigoda can hold on to become the oldest Abraham in history. Vigoda passed Abraham Lincoln only two months into the run of his spinoff series, Fish, in 1977, and moved into the No. 2 spot in 1986, when he eclipsed Abraham Zapruder, who had proved not up to the challenge by dying, years before, at age 65. Since then, only the biblical Abraham has stood in Vigoda’s way.*

* We can endlessly debate where Abraham Simpson belongs on this list, but the fact is that his birth year has never been revealed. And with the timeline of his life continually in flux, a determination of his true age would be specious at best. Grampa Simpson is a World War II veteran, yet he also claimed to have fought in the First World War, as well as participated in the 1936 Olympic Games. His service in World War II is undoubtedly true—at least, he was certainly old enough to have served—but given Grampa Simpson’s penchant for meandering tall tales and his suspect memory, much of his background cannot be taken as gospel, even though we know he was of an advanced age when he fathered Homer in the mid-1950s. Yes, through flashbacks and glimpses of Simpsons future, we see Grampa and other Springfield residents at different ages, but because of strictly maintained canon, they never actually age—their age at the time of the series’ “birth” is the age that they have remained throughout the canonical run of the series. Therefore, Grampa, an 80-something when the The Simpsons premiered in 1989, remains an 80-something today regardless of the fact that nearly a quarter-century has elapsed. So, even though Abraham Simpson once was likely much older than Abe Vigoda, Vigoda has long since reclaimed second place.

Of course, according to Genesis, Abraham lived to the ripe, old age of 175. Now whether you take the Bible at its literal word or dismiss the ages of its many incredulously long-lived characters as gross exaggerations, 175 remains the sole “official” age of record—and a target still so far away that the nonagenarian Vigoda is little more than halfway there.

Still, I believe Abe Vigoda can do it. The key to Vigoda’s long life thus far has been his languid, almost reptilian, movement. Whether shuffling gingerly through the Corleone compound or planted in fatigued misery behind his 12th Precinct desk, Vigoda’s patient, unhurried manner emulates the slow heart rate and conserved body motion of such long-living animals as the elephant, the whale, and the tortoise. Let’s face it: Vigoda even shares the same facial expressions as a tortoise…

Certainly, none of us will be around to see it, but I wouldn’t be shocked in the least if, early in the year 2096, a shriveled-yet-still-filled-with-vim Abe Vigoda quietly becomes the longest-living Abraham in human history.

After all, a 90-something who can take this hit isn’t going any time soon…

Besides, breaking the record is the smart move...and Tessio was always smartuh.

(Image from Barney Miller copyright ABC; image from The Godfather copyright Paramount Pictures; animated GIF of Snickers ad copyright Mars, Incorporated.)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Turning Siamese Would Have Been Quite the Coup d'Etat for All in the Family

Amid the current political upheaval in Thailand, capped by the military coup d’etat of May 22, this is the optimal time to examine why Chang and Eng Bunker, the original Siamese twins, would have made an even better Archie Bunker than Carroll O’Connor. Sure, O’Connor earned four Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe for his timeless and beloved portrayal of Archie Bunker, who, in turn, helped make All in the Family one of the most culturally significant programs in television history. America laughed for a decade at Archie’s convoluted logic, malapropos and mannerisms, his equal-opportunity bigotry, and his big-hearted narrow-mindedness—all of which mirrored a nation struggling with its own hypocrisy and neuroses by finding the right way to reflect all that was wrong with America.

Still, Chang and Eng Bunker, twin brothers conjoined at the chest by a large segment of cartilage, seem even better suited to the role. Born to Chinese parents in Siam (present-day Thailand), in 1811, the brothers found worldwide celebrity exhibiting themselves on tour as the “Siamese twins” (even rating a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records a century later as the source of the term). The Bunker twins later immigrated to antebellum North Carolina, becoming successful plantation owners—and slave owners, oddly enough, in view of the similarly low status of “Orientals” in that age—as well as naturalized U.S. citizens. Proving more desirable than many “single” men, they fathered twenty-one children between them—literally between them, considering the logistics involved—and died in 1874.

For a show called All in the Family, what could have been more familial than conjoined twins sharing the lead role? Especially with the ability to call Edith a dingbat and Mike a meathead simultaneously? Perhaps even opting for the comedic drama of one brother a hard-line, war-hark conservative and the other a bleeding-heart, pinko-commie liberal, verbally battling each other between orders to Stifle yourself! and moans of Aw, geez, huh? (Their inevitable problems with enunciation hardly would have been worse than Archie’s butchering of the English language.) I don’t know if the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences would have awarded each brother his own Emmy, presented the two of them with a single prize, or, most likely, bestowed the twins with two individual statuettes soldered together, but Chang and Eng surely would have carted off during the series’ run an armful of them—carried with each lending one arm, of course.

During that narrow, 100-year window between Chang and Eng’s death and the mastering of special effects that now might allow twin Thai actors as talented and charismatic as Carroll O’Connor to appear conjoined—or, in lieu of expensive technical wizardry, at least have them share an XXXXXXXXXXXXL shirt—we certainly were fortunate that O’Connor gave the world Archie. But in a medium in which twins have long been prized both as a source of comedy and conflict, Change and Eng Bunker—the first of their kind, on the first show of its kind—would have yielded twice the laughs.

Boy, the way Yul Brynner played
Years on Broadway Mongkut stayed
Thais like us, double we weighed
Those were the days

And you knew Siamese twins
Didn't quite move like Errol Flynn
Messrs., we could use a man
Like Naresuan the Great again

Didn't need no coup d'etat
Everybody smiled through Buddha
Gee, Bangkok was Shangri-La

(Chang puts stogie to mouth with available hand as Eng leans head on Chang’s shoulder)

(Image of Archie Bunker copyright CBS.)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Deep Purple's Deepest Puzzle Solved...Thanks to Judith Owen

Okay, this is a seriously overdue discovery, but you, too, may have been unaware of this: Welsh-born singer-songwriter Judith Owen has righted one of the great wrongs in the history of popular music. Not widely known in pop or rock circles, the velvet-voiced pianist—and wife of humor mainstay Harry Shearer—devotes much of her musical career to jazz and Celtic material that you wouldn’t normally hear in the mainstream…and certainly not on rock stations, despite Owen covering songs by The Kinks, James Taylor, The Police, Mungo Jerry, Shearer’s own Spinal Tap, and Deep Purple.

In 2005, Owen’s Lost and Found album led off with a cover of Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.” Despite being pretty well versed in contemporary music, I never heard her version—which also served as bumper music for the Coast to Coast AM radio show—until this morning. Owen’s wistful and, yes, smoky rendition of the 1972 hard-rock classic—complete with alluring uh-uh-uhh’s in place of Ritchie Blackmore’s immortal riff—adds an extra word to Ian Gillan’s original lyric.

A word that corrects perhaps the most brazen grammatical neglect since December 7th, 1941—a date that will live in infamy (neglect that, in turn, stood as the most egregious transgression in human communication until the 1976 debut of the sitcom What’s Happening!!—with its two vexing exclamation points yet no trace of a question mark).

Among the first songs I ever knew, even as a five-year-old I was perplexed by “Smoke on the Water”’s Some stupid with a flare gun. Sure, I had yet to embark on the great endeavor of kindergarten, but even though basic grammar, syntax, and parts of speech lay in my future, I recognized—as surely did most adults—something horribly amiss with that line. “What’s a stupid?” I asked myself every time I heard the instantly anthemic tune crackling out of Dad’s car radio. I didn’t yet know what a noun was—but I instinctively knew stupid wasn’t one. In a perversely psychotic twist of poetic license, Ian Gillan, one of the very greatest vocalists in rock music, had forced the square peg into the round hole and sang an adjective as a noun. Somehow, the FCC had done nothing—both it and the BBC couldn’t censor or ban songs containing a drug reference or anything deemed even mildly “subversive” quickly enough in those days, yet they sat on their collective hands as “Smoke on the Water” raced up the charts and addled a generation of preschool minds with grammatical nonsense.

Confused and losing alarming amounts of sleep as “Smoke on the Water” saturated the airwaves—and, consequently, my cerebrum—I eventually made excuses for Ian Gillan…

“It was done for meter—following stupid with a noun would have made the couplet too long,” I sometimes placated myself.

Other times—questioning my own rationalism—I fell back to no one in particular on the all-healing mantra, “It’s rock ‘n’ roll, man!”

Yet why didn’t Gillan use a noun in place of stupid? Okay, he might have been lured by the alliteration of some stupid—even at the risk of creating one of the all-time asinine lines—but Gillan still could have achieved this lyrical device by opting for an “s-noun.” Some sod with a flare gun would have worked smashingly. Or if the young bloke from Hounslow had managed in his youth to pick up any Yiddish from the approximately 0.25% of Jewish citizens living in that London suburb (based on 2011 U.K. Census data), even some schmuck with a flare gun.

It might be too cynical to believe that Gillan planned this lyrical faux pas to garner attention—after all, the band self-admittedly operated in a constant whirlwind of sex, booze, and drugs that likely left minds too fogged to know that A is for apple, let alone articulate simple sentence structure. Then again, Deep Purple hadn’t made an impact where the money was—the American singles chart—in nearly four years, when it was essentially an entirely different musical entity. And even though “Smoke on the Water” wasn’t officially released as a single for nearly a year, this signature-tune-in-the-making, with its haunting imagery and relentless crunch, was chiefly responsible for propelling Machine Head into the Top 10 in the United States and breaking Deep Purple as a major force in rock. As far as I was concerned, the song seemed just as provocative because of what was wrong with it as what was right about it. (Not even the hopelessly straight-laced Pat Boone bothered to correct the line in his infamous 1997 lounge-metal cover, probably to augment his pathetically disingenuous attempt at the bad-boy image—so maybe I’m not being too cynical after all.)

Perhaps Ian Gillan’s carelessness even served as the subconscious impetus for me to become an editor all those years later, sowing in my young mind a need to make sense of a bewildering rock ‘n’ roll landscape—a need that I carried into adulthood and from which I have made my living ever since.*

* Not long before “Smoke on the Water”’s release, I had already become well acquainted with another radio hit, America’s “A Horse With No Name,” whose lyrical minefield of a chorus quickly became legend; however, that song lacked the monolithic majesty of Jon Lord’s distorted Hammond C3 organ to produce the same editorial consternation in my young logic center.

Thirty-three years later, along comes Judith Owen, like an angel of grammar out of the Welsh mist, to not only cover this most iconic of rock songs, but to fix it, by adding the noun it so dearly missed lo these many years.

Some stupid fool with a flare gun/Burned the place to the ground  

Hallelujah, Judith. After more than three decades, we finally know who was responsible for starting the fire that destroyed Montreux Casino: A fool. A stupid fool. This information likely came too late to amend the fire-insurance claim filed by Groupe Lucien Barrière execs sifting through the cinders of their gutted casino, but it does mercifully provide grammatical closure for Deep Purple fans such as me, disillusioned casualties of the 1970s, and those who value the English language.

Now if Judith Owen only would cover Jimi Hendrix so that castles made of sand can melt and slip into the sea—properly... 

(Image of Ian Gillan copyright Rolling Stone.)