I Hate You, Michael Landon

[Originally posted on November 11, 2011. Surprisingly, this is the most viewed and shared post I have ever written. The internet is mesmerized by Pa Landon's apple-cheeked death gaze.]

An essential part of growing up for any virgin to life is to have your spirits lifted, then promptly trampled on by Michael Landon.

Growing up, I was a Little House on the Prairie nut.  From episode one, I cared about the Ingalls family and their trials and tribulations.  I ignored the fact that Pa had a perm; I ignored the tire tracks appearing on prairie shots, or how the Midwest looked like a California desert.  At 5 p.m. every weekday, I turned on WPIX to become a part of the syndicated Little House world.  I cheered for the characters when they triumphed and wept when they struggled.

And Lord, how they struggled.  You see, everyone views Michael Landon as this great guy who created wonderful family shows to inspire us and give us hope.  Let’s be honest – Michael Landon used his magical powers of story-telling to rip out our hearts with his mangled claw-hand, leaving black rot to form and kill off the remaining niblets of innocence and whimsy hiding deep in the recesses of our souls.

…Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration; but the man was a grim reaper.  I present to you, my lovely reader, exhibits A-Z4 in My Childhood Innocence v. Pa Landon – a list of the actual trials and tribulations that occurred on this show:

- When the Ingalls wheat crop failed, Pa went to work in mining.  He befriended a man.  The man was funny and nice.  The man was blown up by dynamite.  The camera showed a close up of Pa doing his typical heart-wrenching, apple-cheeked quiverface, telling all actors that if you are kind enough to be a guest star on a Michael Landon show, he will reward you with death.  On the plus side?  Emmy reel!

- Ma had a baby; Laura was jealous of the baby.  The baby died, and Laura thought she caused it due to having Pa Death in her genes.  She ran away to live on a mountain that miraculously appeared in the middle of the prairie.  On Miracle Mountain, she met a Special Guest Star Angel.  Pa couldn’t kill the angel, because an angel by definition isn’t alive.  Pa was disappointed.

- Ma cut her leg on a wire.  Pa and the kids conveniently travelled somewhere without her for the only time EVER on this God-forsaken show.  She developed a staph infection and slowly rotted away in the Ingalls house.  To further tease us, people would check on her by knocking on the door.  We the viewers would think, “She’s saved!”  But no; her neighbors wondered why she wasn’t answering and they’d just take off.  As their carriage clippity-clopped off into the sunset, we’d see Ma’s ashen sweaty hand desperately reach up to the door knob to catch their attention.  Of course they acted like they didn’t see her.  But watch closely: Doc Baker totally hit the horsey gas pedal when that door opened.  He’s like, “So long, bitches!  Call me when penicillin’s invented!”  She almost died, but Pa figured she’d be more useful to him alive.

- Mary gave Laura a pet raccoon.  How could this end well?  Of course, the raccoon had rabies, bit Laura, so Pa shot and killed it.

- Laura had a horse named Bunny.  She sold it to Nellie Oleson to buy Christmas gifts for the family.  Once she won the horse back, she was showing her grandfather her riding skills, and ran Bunny into a barbed wire fence.  Grandpa shot Bunny.  She died.  Laura hated Grandpa and wished him dead.  Pa gave his apple-cheeked Quiverface, but reveled inside, for this was the Grand Slam of Anguish for Pa.

- Laura had a terrier named Jack.  The dog was annoying her and she wanted it to go away.  Pa realized this was the perfect moment to further torment Laura, so he killed Jack and claimed it was old age.

- Mary went blind.  Now, in actual history, Mary went blind when she had scarlet fever.  On the show, Mary had scarlet fever long ago, and went blind as some weird aftereffect.  I had scarlet fever twice as a child.  Thanks for keeping me up at night, Pa.

- After going blind, Mary kept her childhood reading glasses in her pocket at all times as a reminder of what Pa Ingalls does to people who have hopes and dreams.

- Mary fell in love with her dreamy blind teacher Adam Kendall, and when they got married, a surprise dust storm struck and almost took out the entire wedding party.  No one saw it coming.

- Mary got pregnant.  She miscarried.

- Mary and her dreamy blind husband had to take a stagecoach ride somewhere.  The stagecoach flipped.  The driver died.  Dreamy Adam got pinned under the stagecoach.  Mary went for help and almost burned to death in a brush fire caused by her childhood reading glasses.  Pa found her just in time to save the day.  HOW CONVENIENT, PA.

- Mary thought she was regaining her sight.  It was just Michael Landon fucking with us.  She remained blind and was devastated.

- Mary and her dreamy blind husband had a baby.  They were finally happy.  Then their school for the blind burned to the ground in the dead of night, thanks to no-good Albert smoking a pipe in the basement.  Pa’s message: Smoking kills, kids.  NO PA – YOU KILL, YOU SICK APPLE-CHEEKED BASTARD.

- In said fire, Mrs. Garvey realized Mary’s baby was still in their bedroom.  Because like, EVERYONE FORGOT ABOUT THE BABY.  Like, really.  Mary and her dreamy blind husband spent like, 20 minutes on the lawn eating cold fried chicken and playing blind man’s bluff AND HAVING A MERRY LITTLE FREAKING TIME WITH 10 RANDOM BLIND KIDS, ONLY TO REALIZE ALL TOO LATE THAT UH, YEAH, BABY IS STILL CHILLIN’ IN THAT FIREY WARM BLOB ON STAGE LEFT.  Ahem.  So anyway, Mrs. Garvey went to get the baby.  Since the baby had the Pa Death in his genes, he used his rudimentary Pa Death powers to cause Mrs. Garvey to freeze like a deer, stare at him for too damn long, and they both got trapped in the room.  As the students and staff stood outside in horror, Mrs. Garvey used the Kendall baby as a battering ram* to bust through a window to try and escape.  She didn’t.  They died.  That little baby was a Pa Death Kamikazee. (*that description is courtesy of the fine people who brought us the now-defunct jumptheshark.com)

- Mary became catatonic and lost her everlovin’ mind for like, three episodes.  Seriously.  She held her dead baby and creepily hummed a lullabye.  Of course, no-good Albert wussed out while Mary lost said mind.

- Dreamy Adam Kendall regained his sight, but Michael Landon only did that to screw with Mary’s head.  After this, dreamy Adam went on to create shows like “Malcolm in the Middle,” so he did well for himself.  Poor Mary landed B-rate horror movies, like “Happy Birthday to Me,” where she would slaughter people on her birthday in a rampage.

- No-good Albert shacked up with a girl named Sylvia.  They were in love.  She was raped by a mime.  The mime got her pregnant.  Albert told her they’d get married and he’d raise the baby as his own.  When the mime attacked her again, she tried to escape from him and fell off a ladder (a real ladder, not a mimed ladder, which is kind of a letdown to be honest with you).  The mime died.  Sylvia and her fetal-mime died.

- James (played by a young Jason Bateman) and Cassandra were the children of a wonderful couple who needed help moving, so Pa “helped” them.  They came across a steep road on a mountain.  Pa went down first with the kids.  The parents then went down on their covered wagon.  Pa decided the show needed more young children so he sabotaged the brakes on the wagon.  The couple’s wagon tumbled down the mountain as James and Cassandra watched their parents die a bloody, gruesome death.  Cassandra became a mute.  Greedy Pa gobbled up the children like Saturn and they became a part of his clan.

- More kids means more trauma!  So naturally, James was shot by a bank robber.  Pa took him up to Miracle Mountain, where James got all clammy and dead-like.  Another Guest Star Angel appeared and to Pa’s dismay, saved little clammy James by feeding him something from a bowl.  I think it was Pa Death Antivenom.

- Mr. Edwards married and they adopted three kids.  Note: EVERYONE ADOPTS AN ORPHAN ON THIS DAMN SHOW.  IT’S LIKE THE JOLIE-PITT/MIA FARROW ACTION HOUR, BUT WITH MORE DAMN KIDS.  You guessed it; the oldest kid became a reporter and was murdered.

- Mr. Edwards was devastated that his oldest son died, so he went back to drinking.  His wife and two remaining kids left him, so he only had Pa to turn to.

- Mrs. Whipple had a son we’ve never seen before, and he served in the Civil War.  He had PTSD and was a drug addict.  In typical Little House fashion, the only purpose to have this person on the show was to kill him.  He died.

- No-good Albert became addicted to morphine.  He didn’t die from that. Instead, he got leukemia.  Thankfully, the show didn’t last long enough to watch him die, because you totally knew where that was going.

- Shannon Doherty was on the show and almost drowned to death.  How did she get on the show?  Oh yeah.  Her parents died.  She was an orphan.

- On the final episode, the townspeople rebelled against Pa and blew up the town [Note: Husband who never watched Pa Landon’s Little House of Horrors read this and asked me, “Really??”  My response: “Yes.  Really.”].

I could go on and on, but you get the message.  The evidence is overwhelming.  I was thoroughly traumatized by Pa Landon and his moral anvils.  I mean, sure, I could stop watching… but…but then I wouldn’t see town party vs. country party!  I wouldn’t see when Percival melts Nellie’s mean girl heart.  I wouldn’t see Laura become a woman, damn it (and a real woman, not a girl who stuffed her bra with apples), and I sure as hell wouldn’t have seen my dreamy blue-eyed Adam Kendall waving romantically (sniff!) to Mary as her carriage rode away.  Sigh…dreamy, 70s-hair, hydrophobic Adam Kendall…(swoons).  Yeah, okay, if taking away my Little House takes away all that, I suppose I’ll exchange my innocence for your paella of death, despair, and inexplicable wholesome and timeless charm.  {{shakes fist}} Curse you, Landon and your ability to reach into my soul!!

Arrested Development 2013: 3 Things I Loved, 3 Things I Didn’t

WARNING: Minor spoilers in the form of spoiling a couple of punchlines

The most hyped television event of the year didn’t occur on a network or cable station. Netflix, a company that appeared to be going down faster than the Hindenburg two years ago, resurrected themselves through the revival of Arrested Development.  Their new-found approach to viewing television through on-demand original programming is revolutionary and somewhat exciting to watch unfold. While they’ve had original shows prior to Arrested Development such as the popular House of Cards, you can’t help but feel this was the Big Event to show off the New Netflix to the world and test the waters for this uncharted territory in programming. Of course, this uncharted territory is only revolutionary if the show is worth the purchase of a subscription.

So, was it worth it? In my opinion, yes. Due to the scheduling conflicts of cast members, writing around said scheduling conflicts, dealing with a different model of television-viewing, and working with what I’m assuming was a much smaller budget, the long-awaited season of Arrested Development was sure to be a different experience from its network television days. To be certain, the show wasn’t free of problems, but the fans who stuck through all 15 episodes were treated to soon-to-be classic scenes, extremely clever writing, and the luxury of watching a marathon of new episodes at their own pace.  Below are a few of the things I loved about this new season and a few that didn’t quite work for me:

What I Loved:

  1. The Multi-Layered Storyline. After the first couple of episodes, I looked over to Chris and frowned. “I’m not feeling this. At. All.” He shook his head. “Neither am I…” I recalled that the most recent season of Archer started off slow but we wound up loving it as it progressed, expressing my hope that this would too be the case for Arrested Development. I am happy to say it was. By the time they got around to telling Lindsay Bluth’s first story, you began to see a glimpse of the greater story they were weaving. Imagine each episode as a single cartoon cel: as the season progresses, you see one cel layered on top of another until you get to the final episode, where the entire image is complete. The writing is brilliant in that it was a creative way to work around the real-life scheduling conflicts of the actors and use the Netflix on-demand format to its fullest potential. I doubt this layering of stories would have worked on a traditional programming schedule; the episodes seemed designed to be watched back-to-back, where one doesn’t need a long memory to recall a subtle joke or remark in earlier episodes. The storytelling was very ambitious while still clever and funny, so the writers get an A+ for effort.
  2. They Didn’t Overdo the Meta Jokes. Well, not more than Arrested Development typically did in its original run, at least. Let’s face it – Arrested Development works because it’s so meta, but unlike many shows and movies, it’s meta done right. While some of the Ann jokes got a little tired, as a whole, the recurring jokes on the show were used at the right times. There are few things I hate more than excessive meta-writing, and for a show as quotable as Arrested Development it would have been too easy for them to just make this a retread of “greatest hits.” Instead, they ran with a few of the recurring jokes, added onto old jokes (the Fakeblock storyline is a great example – I didn’t see that coming at all), and created a slew of new great moments. My personal favorites all seem to revolve around the Fünkes – whether it was the goose scenes or the cornucopia of Tobias double entendres, they created many moments deserving of a rewatch and a YouTube supercut.
  3. Michael Cera / George-Michael. I want to give serious props to both Michael Cera and the writers for advancing the character of George-Michael while managing to still make him the Charlie Browniest. It’s easy for a character like George-Michael to get lost  in the mix when put next to the grandiosity of Tobias or GOB, but they did a fantastic job of subtly passing the baton from Michael to George-Michael to be the star and the sort-of “straight man” for the season. This had to be done; Michael has to have his family next to him to not come across as a selfish, self-righteous (hilarious) asshole. They did a good job of highlighting this in the first couple of episodes of the new season – it was painful to watch how awful Michael was. Cera jumped back into the role of George-Michael more seamlessly than I would have expected, and did a great job of interpreting him as an adult – who is still a Charlie Brown, despite his mustache and sexual um…awakening? I thoroughly enjoyed his scenes. And? “Make me cry!” “You’re a bad mother!” – huge laugh in our house.

What I Didn’t Love:

  1. Moments of Poor Production. Like I said, this new season wasn’t perfect. Now, I am not a “movie person.” I’m not typically the kind of person who spots the digital watch on the caveman, or sees the cameraman visible in the reflection of someone’s sunglasses. I seldom read the “Goofs” section of imdb, because that’s not my thing and I normally can’t spot the mistakes anyway. That said, there were a few really sloppy aspects to the production that I noticed. Because I don’t look for these things, I feel like if I notice them, they must have been pretty bad. There were some very noticeable continuity mistakes (for example, when Maeby is writing on the whiteboard during the real estate scene), some of the camera tricks they used to hide that the actors weren’t physically in certain scenes together were distracting, and the makeup work was really bad at times. On both Jason Bateman and Will Arnett, the yellow concealer under their eyes was very noticeable. Additionally, I felt like there were moments the camera moved away from something too quickly (especially when the viewer needed to take in a single image or read something) Did this ruin my experience with the show? No. Do I understand they had a tighter budget and the quality would be a little lower? Yes. And I appreciate how many obstacles they had to deal with to film the scenes, however I’m hoping for any future seasons or movies they can get a little more money or have a little more time to clean up these little things.
  2. Seth Rogan as George Bluth Sr. Generally, I was not feeling the flashback scenes of Lucille and George Sr., but I have to tell you: I really, really didn’t care for this casting decision. And I love Seth Rogan (I’m a big Undeclared fan; I pretty much root for anyone who was on that show). I just couldn’t get past thinking, “That’s Seth Rogan in a wig.” Kirsten Wiig did a pretty good Lucille, but it was more of her doing an impression of Jessica Walter’s Lucille than really being Lucille, if that makes sense. I didn’t love this. To be fair, who could be a young George Bluth? I hope they don’t do this for the movie (or any future seasons – I know they didn’t really talk about future seasons, but I’m just throwing it out there. Like The Secret – throw it out into the universe, and it will become so. Right?)
  3. The Lack of the Ensemble. I know there wasn’t much of a way around this, and as fans this was the only way we’d get our Arrested Development, but the show was missing something by not having everyone together. The chemistry between everyone on the show is phenomenal, and not having them share more scenes was removing one element of what makes the show magical. Tying back to my point about the production issues, the camera tricks to make actors appear in the same scenes became distracting, and I feel like some of the scenes would have had a bigger payout if they could have acted off of each other more. Funny enough, I think the Fünke scenes worked so well because the joke is how disconnected they are from each other, so this format worked perfectly into that.

Despite my quibbles, I absolutely enjoyed the season when all was said and done. I can’t wait to see what they have planned next – hopefully we won’t have to wait another 7 years to see it.

What did you think? Add your opinions in the comments below – to those who haven’t seen the new season yet – assume that the comments will contain spoilers.

Downton Abbey: The Season 3 Drinking Game

Here in the States, PBS aired the first episode of Downton Abbey, season three. I’m not sure of what to make of this season just yet – there was a lot of exposition in the first episode and not a whole lot of meat. Like, 10 seconds of wedding coverage? Hello? Not a big deal…I guess? We’ve only been on the Matthew/Mary Carousel of Guilt and Denial for two seasons now…the wedding wasn’t important or anything, right? The episode gave us a few hints of what plots are to come – the financial downturn of the estate, Mrs. Hughes’ certain potential cancer, Bates and his turn-of-the-century Charlie Brownism, Poor Edith and her own turn-of-the-century MarshaMarshaMarshaism, Branson and that whole ridiculous poison in the drink drama with the Downton equivalent of a Star Trek red shirt…

One thing is for certain in these times of uncertainty: we need a drinking game for season three. Grab a scotch or one of those newfangled cocktails the Dowager Countess disapproves of, turn on your TV and play along:

Take a sip…
…if you yell at Laura Linney, “stop your yapping and get on with the episode already!”
…every time someone says some variation of “adapting to change.”
…When the Dowager Countess insults a “foreigner”
…every time you think, “I fucking love Maggie Smith.”
…when O’Brien or Thomas are on a smoke break (I mean, they’re smoking, you should be drinking, right?)
…when someone says Poor Edith’s turn will come at marriage, and she responds desperately, “WILL IT?”
…when Poor Mister Mosely is passed over for someone better.
…every time Anna goes Pollyanna on Meestah Behhhhhts
…every time Bates is a freaking martyr and you’re like, “I liked you in Season One; now I’m like, what else is going to fucking happen to Bates? A piano falls on you after you push Lord Grantham out of the way? You want to save Bob Marley, so you declare that you, in fact, shot the deputy even though you totally didn’t? You eat a bad taco the night before you’re reunited with Anna?” Shakes fist,  “WHAT’S NEXT MEESTAH BEHHHHHTS? WHAT’S NEXT?”
Ahem.

Take a gulp…
…when you shamefully find yourself cheering for Harriet Jones Mrs. Crawley.
…when Poor Edith doesn’t appear sad and alone
…when someone doesn’t use the appropriate title or salutations
…when you don’t find Shirley MacLaine’s presence distracting (I love her, and I love her interactions with Maggie Smith, BUT – too much)
…When Lord Grantham does something bad/immoral
…when a lady is in the men’s quarters, or a man is in the ladies’ quarters (scandal!)
…when Lady Sybill becomes awesome again/indicates an interest in women’s rights.
…when Branson is dressed “appropriately”

Chug…
…when Thomas is being helpful
…when the Dowager Countess compliments America

Do you have any additions? Add them in the comments section below!

JMHO: Sorting Out the Internal Conflict

Note: In case you’re wondering about the weird graphic, I’ll be honest with you – I really don’t feel comfortable being yet another site to splash a Sesame Street image on this story.

I’m having a hard time with this Kevin Clash thing. For those of you who haven’t followed the story: Two men have accused Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo on Sesame Street of having sex with them when they were underage. There is a lot to the story that I won’t even get into here, so get thee to Gawker and catch up on all the sordid details.

I believe many people are having a hard time with the controversy because the allegations are just so contrary to the image they held of Clash.  We all like to think we’d have a sense for these things, and by all accounts, Clash doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to pray on underage teens.  But what do we know? When do we ever know? I don’t want to believe it, but I don’t want to disbelieve something simply because it doesn’t align with my preconceived notions. There is so much going on with this story, I will do my best to answer the questions across the internet and running through my mind.

Is it possible that a guy who is such a beloved figure could do this?
Yes. On more than one occasion, we’ve seen beloved celebrities do things we never expected they were capable of doing. So yes, it’s possible.

Is it possible that the accusers are fabricating this story for fame and money?
Yes. Also on more than one occasion, we’ve seen people make up false stories for their own benefit; this is nothing new.

Why do I feel like shit for even entertaining the thought the accusers are making this up?
Because you know that there are a lot of victims of sexual crimes out there, and these victims do not have a voice. You feel that by questioning a public story, you are not only shaming the alleged victims, in a way, you’re further silencing victims of sexual crimes.

This is where the issues get really tricky; no one wants a victim to stay quiet.  We want to create a culture where people feel safe to come forward. Conversely, we don’t want to convict a person before they ever had their day in court. Here is the problem with crimes of this nature: it is very difficult to prove or disprove them. The best we can hope for is the evidence will become clear either way, and that nothing will obstruct the truth from getting out there. That may never happen.

So what am I allowed to feel?
It’s okay to feel conflicted. In this day and age, we want to be judge, jury and executioner the very second a story falls on our ears. This is especially true of crimes involving children and teenagers – we don’t want to let them down or allow the crimes to continue. It’s a nice thought that our swift court of public opinion protects people, but it doesn’t.  Let’s value the time spent for fact-finding, and see what facts present themselves before we persecute anyone. This doesn’t just apply to this controversy – it’s a good exercise to practice on any sensationalized story. We all have some type of prejudice when we read a story, whether it is looking for someone’s failure or ignoring someone else’s faults. We sometimes act like our opinions are this giant Jenga tower that is about to collapse if one piece is pulled out. Bottom line? It’s okay to feel conflicted, but keep your mind open to the possibility the truth will shake the tower.

If the accusations are true, is this really a crime? I mean, a 16 year-old knows what he’s getting into. And I hear gay men like hooking up with young men.
Wait, what? I am seriously reading a lot of this, and pardon the French, this is the most bizarre apologist shit I’ve ever seen. So first of all, let’s put aside what people “hear” about the gay community. It is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is, there is an age of consent in this country and while it varies from state to state, if you have sex with someone below that age (and in some cases, are a few years older than the person you are having sex with), you are committing a crime and chances are you know you are committing a crime. Never mind what should and shouldn’t be, because at the moment it doesn’t matter. If Clash had sex with teens who were below the age of consent, he committed a crime. He also would have to have known that working on a children’s show and having sex with minors would create a pretty big fucking mess in his life if it got out. I really hope he didn’t do this, but if he did, I’m sorry, I can’t excuse his behavior by pointing to f-ing Belgium and saying that 14 year-olds are totes game over there.

So, okay. If he did it, it’s a crime; but is it bad?
To me? Yes. I have yet to find a 30-something or 40-something in a relationship with a teen who didn’t use the relationship as a means to control, manipulate and royally mindfuck the person. Totally anecdotal I know, but that’s what I’ve seen and it’s shaped  my opinion. There are a lot of different opinions out there, but only you can determine if you think it goes against your moral code or not.

Can we joke about this? I mean, come on – tickle me Elmo?
Every morning over the past few days, my alarm goes off, and I wake to the sounds of the local morning zoo cracking joke after joke on this story. Every morning I groan and feel the bile rise in my esophagus. Yes, it’s a free country – you can joke about it, but unless you have Louis C.K.- level skills of making horrible things funny, I wouldn’t find it amusing.

Can we make fun of TMZ and how fucking horrible they are?
Yes. Oh my God, yes.

Just my thoughts. What are some of the questions running through your mind with this ordeal? Any opinions you feel haven’t been voiced yet?

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Menacing Kitten Services You: Little House Edition

One of the joys of adding Google Analytics to your site is seeing all the strange ways people find your site through search engines.  As I reviewed the list of search terms used to find the site over the past year, I realized I had an opportunity to be service-y and answer a few of the questions and queries posed by those who search for my site.

One of the most commonly searched for items that lead people to my site are Little House on the Prairie inquiries, many of which I am more than happy to answer:

“Did Adam get his sight back before or after Mary had the baby on Little House?”
After.  See? Service-y!

“Mrs Garvey broke the window with Mary’s baby”
Yes, yes she did.  Fucked up isn’t it?

There is also a contingent of people obsessed with Michael Landon.  Would you believe one of the most searched for queries on my site is:

“Did Michael Landon get a perm?”
To answer this question, I turned to pre-Little House pics of him on Bonanza.  After careful photographic analysis, I think it’s fair to say that no, Michael Landon did not have a perm.  He had naturally curly hair, and just kind of let it go wild for the Little House series.  He was also quite the looker in his Bonanza days.

People really want to know about the deep, dark world of Michael Landon, if that even exists:

“Michael Landon hated”
Are you looking for things he hated, or that he was hated? I don’t know much about him, but Melissa Gilbert was quite fond of him, and Johnny Carson adored him.  And clearly, he hated Mary Ingalls.

“Michael Landon’s secret life”

Tell me, what did you hear?

“Michael Landon pedofil”
Yeah, no.  And really, spelling?

“Michael Landon and kittens”
Wait, what?

Of course, not all queries are sad and negative.  Maybe part of that “secret life” was a signature move I was unaware of:

“Landon fuck move”
I have heard rumors that Landon was quite the Cassanova back in the day.  I suspect the Landon Fuck Move does not involve Little House On the Prairie, but upon reading it, I get a very disturbing image in my mind’s eye of Pa’s apple-cheeked quiverface getting down and I do not appreciate that.  Especially since he’s still wearing suspenders.  Damn you, Asshole Brain. 

It could be that there is an entire world of Little House slashfiction that I’m unaware of [Oh.My.God. It exists. And I’m not linking to it because it’s just wrong…*shivers*  WHYGODWHY and Albert and Sylvia fanfic? Really?].  I think that’s what someone was getting at when they wanted to find:

“Mary and Adam Kendall Wedding Night”
Okay, Mary was super pretty and Adam Kendall was dreamy, if not a little dorky.  The episodes where they fell in love were hands-down my favorite episodes of the series.  I feel you, Little House On the Pervy, I do, but there are certain things you need to leave be.  This is one of them.  Might I interest you in Albert and Sylvia Mime Porn?

Note: The videos below do not contain Mime Porn.  But season four does introduce dreamy Adam Kendall.

     

N.F.W.: Our New Gossip Commentary!

Even Stock Photo Girl Says, "No. F-ing. Way!"

Here at Menacing Kitten Headquarters, when we’re not drinking Chocotinis, heating inedible frozenstuff, or drooling over James Marsden, we are talking gossip.  We love our blind gossip from Crazy Days and Nights, our “Ding-Dang Y’all, Brittany’s Eating Wings!” exposés of TMZ, and our snarkilicious Dirt Bag from Jezebel.  Because gossip and schadenfreude are dishes best served with said Chocotinis, we decided to start our own little gossip commentary: N.F.W. as in No.F-ing.Way.  Why? Because, OMG, everyone loves an acronym.

So what is going on in the Celeb World on this fine day? Well, there are three stories circling the water cooler at the moment:

1.  STALK OF AGES. 
An entertainment show recently spent an entire half an hour to tell me that Tom and Katie broke up. I know: N.F.W.  Who saw this coming? (Put your hand down Mimi Rodgers, and you too, World).  The entertainment show showed me footage of Oprah visiting Tom and Katie, and they totally looked happy and gave her moccasins. And then Oprah hugged them.  How could they fail? I know, Entertainment Show, I know.  They touched the hem of her garment, yet they were not made whole.  This is really challenging my faith.

Now, both TMZ and Rupert Murdoch are stating that the Church of Scientology is stalking Katie.  According to their credible sources who are photographing her apartment and wiretapping her phones 24-7, this is REALLY CREEPY. Apparently these sources bumped into someone else skulking in the bushes and they were like, who the hell are you? And the person was like, I’m the totally heterosexual, engram-free gardener! And then they were like SCIENTOLOGIST! **snaps photo**

2. TODAY SHOW: WHERE TEARS = SWEET, SWEET CASH:
Once upon a time, there was a morning news show that dominated all morning news shows.  Ruled by the jingle-riffic Katie, Matt, Al and Ann quatrofecto (is that a word? If not, it is now), it was a pleasant show that delivered news in that non-threatening, pre-Regis and Kelly (or was it Kathie Lee?) way, but still managed to get the point across.  In this fair land, reporters gave families a little space after their grief.  They’d wait a few days, possibly a few weeks to allow a family to properly mourn, and they’d have a sit-down interview all in good time.

I remembered the exact moment when this changed.

Following Columbine, Katie Couric sat down with two family members who lost a loved one to the tragedy only a day prior.  At the time, I felt uncomfortable that the Today show procured an interview with someone in mourning so fresh on the heels of tragedy.  Was this appropriate? Was this sensational? I wasn’t entirely sure.  The family’s story brought me to tears, but I couldn’t help but wonder if we should be seeing this.  Even now, I’m not sure what my answer is.

This interview was a defining moment for Couric, and it seemingly changed the landscape of reporting and interviews – everyone clamored after the mourning, looking to get that unforgettable, tears-inducing, ratings bonanza moment.

Fast forward 13 years, and morning news has gone meta – the Today Show, still a part of NBC news but looking more like the Entertainment Show mocked above, decides nothing would be more delicious than to feed the ratings beast the bland diet of everyone’s favorite Human Quinoa, Ann Curry.  Yes, Ann Curry, who has been a loyal employee to the ‘Cock for years, had the pleasure of seeing her name plastered all over the gossip rags thanks to some carefully placed leaks saying she sucked and her bosses wanted her out.  She got to read stories about how her colleague of just as long wouldn’t sign a long term contract unless they booted her.  And then she got to step on television at the height of this feeding frenzy her bosses salivated over, to say through tears that she was canned and her dreams have been shattered.  Then every employee of NBC News made a bully circle around her and pushed her back and forth amongst each other while calling her names and breaking her glasses.  Pig’s blood was dropped from the rafters, a good time was had by all.

I’ll be the first to admit, I haven’t really watched the Today Show in years, and I felt Curry was an odd fit for that role.  She always came across as a low-key, down-to-earth kind of chick. That sort of personality just doesn’t fly when on one side of you there’s Matt Lauer interviewing the Kardashians promoting their new Klassy Krap Kamp for Klepto Kids, and Al Roker’s over there on the other side, puppeteering a live lobster as Guy Fieri or whoever the fuck is making Pop Star Poppers for that American Idol finale party you had no intention of throwing.  Look, I used to really enjoy Today – I don’t even mind some of the fluff. But after seeing all of this BS, how can you place it all on Ann Curry? The way they handled her exit is all you need to know about the state of the Today Show and where it’s headed. And NBC – the hell? Is it even remotely possible for you to handle a high-profile firing with even a modicum of decency or common sense?

3. HOLY POO, A TV PERSONALITY HAS A SEXUAL ORIENTATION!
Again - N.F.W.! A charming silver fox who I’ve had a crush on yet always knew in my heart of hearts it would never be reciprocated told everyone he is gay.  The world minus Gawker was like, we all kind of knew this and didn’t care either way, no? Because the world loves the Silver Fox, no matter who he loves.  For those who don’t love him, I don’t count you, because you probably don’t like pina coladas, white Christmases or Singin’ in the Rain either.  DEAD TO ME.  Anyway, he came out, and I long to see the day when no one cares about the gender of the person you love, and this sort of statement isn’t considered newsworthy.  On the other hand, I suppose it will remain newsworthy as long as two men or two women can’t walk around in public simply holding hands without worrying if someone is going to harass them.  Because you know what? That’s still happening.  As a nation, we are still kind of judgey Neanderthals.  Except Neanderthals probably didn’t give a shit if someone was gay.  They probably saw two gay cavemen and were like, huh, that’s a different way of going about things, shrugged their shoulders and resumed punching a bison in the face.

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Picture Pages, Picture Pages

Back in the 80s and early 90s, Nickelodeon used to run a little short between shows called Picture Pages, with a very 70s-looking, groovy, (possibly stoned or more likely severely fatigued) Bill Cosby.  I used to get excited when these little shorts came on, but I felt a little left out.  I wanted to get my Picture Pages, and I’d want to get my crayons and my pencil.  The problem? No one had this damn book.  Did you? I’ll bet you didn’t.  In reality, Picture Pages was bad filler, wedged in there to pass some sort of educational programming standard.

I can almost hear the rage flowing across the internet to me:  How can you say anything bad about a Bill Cosby short? Bill F-ing Cosby.  Look, I get that he’s a national treasure and the face-popping and wow-faces are endearing; but are you telling me you enjoyed watching a grown man do a connect-the-dots for five minutes, and basically instruct you on how to do this task for a book no one owned?  If anyone can pull it off it’s Bill, but this is dry material, people.  At his best, he would throw himself into it:

“And so we’re drawing the bird house, see, go from one… to two [cue TRS-80 doople-doople-doople sound effect for the magic marker] to…anyone? That’s right…three! Now… we have… a bird house! And there’s the cat, Mr. Catimus Maximus, he’s down here saying, ‘Shnazzle-dazzle! I can’t get to the Bird!’ and the bird, Mr. Borderline B. BlueBird, says, ‘Shmackum-whackum! I’m in my house!’ [face pop]”

He tried so hard to make this exciting, despite probably filming 800 of these damn shorts in a single 24-hour period.  At least that’s how they came across:

[and tell me at 2:52 Bill was not high]

He and little Mortimer Marker didn’t only do connect the dots; apparently that was too complicated for kids.  So, they had kids draw lines to a happy earth and a sad, garbage-filled earth.

My train of thought as I watch this:
Hey! That’s one psychedelic fez Bill is wearing.  He’s like Doctor Who – fezes are cool!  Oh, it’s a dunce cap.  That’s disappointing.  Camille! OMG! The famous Camille.  She’s so pretty! She looks a little like a cross between Lisa Bonet and Maya Rudolph.  That’s kind of weird…wow, that’s some uninspired line-reading there.  I wonder if they film this in their basement.  Aw, he loves her. How cute.  Okay, maybe she doesn’t look like Lisa Bonet so much… oh my God, I’m eagerly anticipating the Mortimer sound…I wanted that marker so bad as a stocking stuffer.  Yeah, they don’t even care at this point – with pages like J-5 and Uu-1, how many picture pages were there anyway?  I bet they did these all back to back, and when they started botching lines they were like “f- it, the kids don’t give a shit, they’re probably eating their crayons right now anyway.”  Of course they wouldn’t really say that, because Bill Cosby doesn’t curse…I bet page Zy-43 broke his soul. I want to see that outtake.  Not that I relish in Bill Cosby’s broken soul – that’s pretty f-ing un-American – I just want to know how much worse these can get, because they are close to rock bottom right now…it’s kind of like when your least-stable relative is trying to keep their shit together at Thanksgiving and they’re like, “I’m happy! Everyone is happy!” and they’re just itching to run out of the dining room to smoke five packs of Camels on the patio…I bet they brought in Camille at last minute to help Bill “get through” this last stretch.  I can’t believe we make fun of Asian TV shows.  There’s a dude in Kyoto right now laughing his ass off at this, wondering why American programming is so weird…There’s a top comment on YouTube saying “the generation today needs programs like this.”  That is such a YouTube comment.

All that said, if someone could auto-tune this, I think it would be the most awesome thing ever.  Just saying. I have a submissions email, you know.

The Boob Tube

College? I was so kicking ass.  3.8 my first semester and I procured a good-looking boyfriend – not bad for someone who didn’t have a date to Senior prom, eh?  I killed it in my non-performance music classes.  I was solid in my Gen Ed. Classes.  Yeah, I was a rock star.  When I was in junior high school, one of my family members made a crack that the only “A” I’d ever see was the one in my name, and the rest of my family chuckled knowingly.  Now? 6 As and one B on my first report card from college.  Hell yeah! I thought I had the college thing figured out.

Of course, figuring out college wasn’t just about getting good grades and attractive boyfriend procurement; like other freshman, I had to figure out how to live on my own.  I had to figure out how to do my laundry without getting clumps of detergent stuck on my clothes, or how to eat when all sorts of fried and Alfredo-dipped options lay out in front of me.  I had to figure out how to live in a 10X10 cell with another human being without shanking them or being shanked.  Finally, I had to figure out what was essential, and what was non-essential.

There was one thing I deemed essential that was sorely lacking from our dorm room fall semester: a television.  For four months, I lived without my beloved soap opera – the soap opera everyone’s grandma watched since 1937: “Guiding Light.”  The summer prior to college was one of the finest in GL’s history, and damn it, I was missing out on all the plot resolution.  What happened with Bridget and Hart? Did he learn about her having his baby in secret?  Did he return her affections? I needed to know these things.  I missed out on a variety of plot points, and in soap opera years, a few months meant you missed out on someone’s entire childhood.  Jesus, Bridget’s little baby was probably running Spaulding Enterprises now, and I was missing it!

Following winter break, I flew back to Arizona and walked back into my little cell in the Manzi-Mo dorm.  Emily and her boyfriend Tony were in the process of setting up a small television on her desk.  My eyes widened with glee.  I felt like I was transported back to the 50s, when a television was the centerpiece of one’s living room and social life.  Emily and I could finally reconnect with the world outside of campus!  We excitedly discussed what we’d watch – Fresh Prince, Animaniacs, Guiding Light!  Well, I was excited about Guiding Light.  Emily was not a fan of soap operas, but she was kind enough to give me 2-3pm to watch my show.  I had Music Literature at that time on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but that was fine – everyone knows the best soap days are Fridays and Mondays.

As soon as the antenna was adjusted, a warm, seductive glow filled the room.  Emily and I stopped our conversation mid-sentence and stared at the moving pictures in awe.  Oh, Television…where have you been?

Catching up on lost time, I started watching my soap again.  I was surprised to find out goody-two-shoes Julie turned bad after sleeping with Hart on her wedding day and was promptly dumped by then-fiancée Dylan.  She now had her sights set on Frank, who was going through a rough patch in his marriage to Eleni (played by the lovely Melina Kanekredes).  When I first watched, Emily rolled her eyes, but surely enough, she began to get engaged.  “Eleni’s pretty…” she said.  “How did she wind up with Frank?” I told her the torrid history of boring, dopey Frank, amazing Eleni, and their entire wacky family, gladly answering every question to come my way.  After coming back from Music Lit one day, Emily nearly tackled me when I walked in the room.  “Girl, you won’t believe what happened today!” She proceeded to tell me about the results of the beauty pageant that pitted sweet Lucy (Frank’s kid sister) against evil Julie, and all the chaos and underhandedness that ensued.  Yes – I had her hooked!

In reality, we both became addicted to television – before you know it, soap operas, Rikki Lake and The Price Is Right became a higher priority than class; I mean, what if they played Plinko today? You don’t want to miss that, do you?  We became fond of the NBC affiliate’s elderly weather guy.  Every Friday night, he’d celebrate the weekend by pulling five pieces of confetti out of his beige blazer pocket and let out a mild “yay” as confetti and old blazer lint unceremoniously scattered across the news desk.  Within a month, we went from a reaction of “what the hell is this?” to declaring him a national treasure.  We were Podlings and TV was our Dark Crystal – it captured our gaze, and we were unable to turn away until the last drop of essence was sucked out of us.

One afternoon, Emily and I lay on our beds and stared like zombies at the television.  A rerun of MASH came on.  To most people, that would indicate there was nothing left on television.  The natural response to this predicament would be to go to class and get the education we were paying so dearly for.  But that would involve getting up and leaving the Boob Tube for a couple of hours.

As the theme for MASH played in the background, Emily and I looked at each other somewhat desperately.  “Doot do-do doot do doot do…” No.  No.  Can. Not. Watch.  Where’s the remote?  “Doot do-do doot do doot do…” Damn, it’s on top of the television – who put it there?? Hurry!  Emily weakly lifted her arm up and attempted to retrieve the remote via Jedi Mind powers.  She released a meek “ehhh,” expending all of her energy to will the remote into her hands.  It was not working.  The force was weak within us.  “Doot do-do-doot-doo, doot do-doot doot! Doot!”  Shit, I don’t want to watch Alan Alda! DO SOMETHING, DAMN IT.

Emily was still frozen, fully focusing on her Jedi powers, letting out a more desperate “ehhh!!!” with her fingers outstretched.  In a jolt of energy, I burst out of bed and ran to the television, simultaneously grabbing the remote and hitting the “down channel” button on the television.  I tossed the remote to Emily and collapsed back on my bed, exhausted from my effort.  Emily’s arm relaxed and fell over the remote.  She sighed in relief, as if her Jedi powers worked after all.  Our panic over the prospect of watching MASH put us in a semi-catatonic state, so we settled on the channel I had switched it to.  Tucson PBS.  Sigh.

We stared quietly as a forgettable, non-offensive melody on the acoustic guitar played and cheap font lettering appeared on the screen: “Sewing with Nancy.”  A blonde woman in an 80s-era blouse came on to tell us in a soft, monotonous voice that today we would be making a children’s quilt with little wagons on it.  She pronounced “wagons” as “waygins,” which immediately qualified her for mocking by Emily and I.  Way better than MASH.  Nancy was gifted with the whole sewing thing – she was most certainly a Publicly-Funded Martha Stewart, except she seemed terrified of the camera.  We watched and giggled at the cheap production and “waygin”-making.  At one point, Emily lifted the remote to switch the channel and I protested.  “Wait! I want to see how this ends.”  Ultimately, Emily won, and she found an infomercial for us.  We regained our strength, reassured that we now had an alternative to MASH.

We continued in our Podling state well into the night, watching Conan O’Brien and whatever extra late night show they had beyond him.  A few infomercials and Bewitched episodes later and we were stunned.  A US Flag came on the screen and the national anthem began to play.  It shook us out of our state.  I turned to Emily, confused.  “What?

She calmly watched the screen, deeply analyzing what was happening.  I was in denial.  What’s going on? What’s happening?  Something seems wrong here.

Then? Bars of color.  Is this a new show? What is this?  Nothing else happened.  No sound, no moving pictures.  My jaw dropped.  We came to the end of television!  What the hell is this, 1977 Romania?  This is America – television doesn’t just end!  I turned to Emily, baffled.  “I…I didn’t know this could happen in this day and age.”

Emily shook her head.  “Tucson.”

Tucson?  Tucson?!? That’s it?  “But…where did the television go?”

“There’s no more programming!”

My mouth remained agape.  “They can’t put an infomercial on? There isn’t a rerun they can show?  The Honeymooners?  The Odd Couple? Something?” …Just not MASH.

“All the old people in this town are in bed by now, so they turn the station off.”  Her lack of concern was upsetting.

“Who does that??”

“Tucson.”

Arghhh! What are we going to do?”

Emily turned off the television and hopped into her bed.  “We sleep.”

I crawled into bed and we turned out the lights.  The room was quiet and dark for about five minutes.  “Anne-Ma-RIE?” Emily would often say my name with an amusing rhythmic cadence when she wanted something or was about to tease me.

“Yes?”

“Do your Sewing with Nancy Voice!”

“I have to turn the light back on, because you have to see my face.”

“Okay!”

I turned on the light on my side of the room.  I touched my comforter like it was going under a machine.  “…and then you put the little way-gins on the quilt…”

We laughed and mocked our TV shows for a good hour until we finally fell asleep.  In our slumber, the stations magically turned back on, resumed programming, and the universe seemingly returned to its proper order.

Every so often, I’ll come across something that reminds me of one of the classes I didn’t attend; I’ll hear a musical piece that I crammed in my brain before a test in Music Lit, yet I can’t quite place it and can’t tell you anything interesting about it.  A news item will cover something in the world of anthropology – the topic will seem vague to me, yet I have no real knowledge to provide background or insight on the news item.  In those moments, I sit and wonder about that semester; I wonder if all those hours watching “The Price is Right” was worth it.  I mean, if someone actually won the 25 grand in Plinko, it totally would have been for sure… but obviously that didn’t happen. [Total side note here:  a Virgin to Life Mini-Event is when Plinko goes from being the best game on The Price is Right to the worst game on The Price is Right.  I think that moment is the first indicator you’re becoming a grown-up.]

I then think about my friendship with Emily.  In some odd way, as we were delighting in Julie’s conniving ways on Guiding Light or mocking an inarticulate self-righteous audience member on Rikki Lake, we formed a family-like bond.  Because of that television, we actually chose to hang out together in that 10 x 10 cell.  In our mocking and joking, we’d start to talk about life – where we came from, where we wanted to go, and where we didn’t want to end up.  Emily became that rare kind of friend you can lose contact with for long periods of time, but pick up right where you left off at any time.  Just like a re-run of The Fresh Prince.

So, yeah, the TV was worth it.

How Tom & Jerry Made Me a Vengeful God

[Warning! Sailor-like language and imagery that may either upset children or give them a sense of the sweet, sweet taste of evil revenge.]

There were a few cartoons in my childhood I watched religiously but hated the designated “good guys:” He-Man, She-Ra, Josie and the Pussycats, and Tom and Jerry all come to mind.  The “Good Guy” characters were moralizing and seldom experienced adversity – shit always swung their way.  They were often goody-goody, never capable of making a mistake.  Even as a kid, I hated black and white characters.  I felt bad for Alexandra on Josie and the Pussycats, because she was clumsy and wasn’t as cute as Josie.  I felt bad for Skelator because he didn’t have a fucking face.  Yet I watched these shows every damn day because my naïve little mind thought maybe today Alan would give Alexandra a chance, or maybe He-Man or She-Ra would realize that maybe they’d be a little touchy too if they didn’t have eyeballs.  But no cartoon riled me up the way Tom and Jerry did.

I think it would be really interesting to do a scientific poll to see who rooted for Tom and who rooted for Jerry growing up.  I suspect most Jerry fans were either brutally attacked by a cat as a child or are Cowboy/Yankee fans.  Tom is the underdog…er… undercat; he’s just trying to live a normal, quiet, life as a housecat.  Jerry, the little diseased rodent, is constantly trying to steal from Tom’s family.  As if stealing wasn’t bad enough, he antagonizes and tortures Tom in the process.   Jerry is a little freaking grifter, and I for one wanted to see him lose.

Tom and Jerry, being the classic “this vs. that” cartoon, was ubiquitous not only throughout my youth, but throughout the youth of generations before me.   In addition to getting the cartoon, there were a number of ways you could get your Tom and Jerry fix.  When I was in elementary school, they would pass around leaflet-sized catalogs of books we could buy.  One time, my mom let me order three books, and one in particular stood out to me as a must-have: “Tom’s Happy Birthday.”  The cover showed Tom gleefully digging into a birthday cake.  After watching Tom get tormented day after day, it was good to see him get his due.  If I wasn’t lucky enough to see one of the two episodes where Tom beats out Jerry, then I’m going to get a book where he wins and I can read it whenever I want.  One damn day a year, Tom deserved to have a piece of cake and a little moment of serenity.  When the orders were handed out in class, I couldn’t wait to go home and read this story recounting justice for Tom.  I eagerly opened up the book and began to read.  Jerry, the little f-er, decided he needed to ruin Tom’s birthday.  Tom’s day.  Along with his grifter cousin (and by the way, Jerry had a lot of freaking grifter cousins), they did their typical torture and torment of Tom.  They did a lot of that “oh I’m going to be nice to you! Psych your mind!!! HAHAHAHA YOU STUPID NAÏVE FOOL” shit that I always hated as a kid (probably because it was all too familiar, really).  I got angry, but the cover showed Tom happily eating a birthday cake.  Surely that would happen, right?

As I turned to the last page, I learned with horror that you really can’t judge a book by its cover:  Jerry and that grifter cousin ate Tom’s cake, and Tom didn’t even get a damn bite.  They locked him out of the house, or some bullshit.  I threw the little paperback book down on the table, my young blood boiling.  I was as angry as could be.  No! IT WAS HIS BIRTHDAY DAMN IT.  Who writes a children’s story about someone who is bullied and has their birthday cake stolen from them? Whose idea was this shit, anyway?

I turned the page and saw the typical blank page at the end of the book.  I stared at it for a moment.  A light bulb went off in my head – this is a work of fiction; there is no rule saying I can’t write my own ending to the book.  Fiction can end any way you want it to, right?  I ran to my room and grabbed my Crayolas.  I would not let this awful book end in that way.  I scribbled furiously on that page, penning the only ending that seemed appropriate to me: 

MGM has been protecting you for years, Jerry.  Now?  Not in my house, you mean little bastard; not in my house.

Team Sugar

My sisters stared at the wall of sugary cereals at the local grocery store for guidance.  My mother told them to pick me up a box of cereal, but did not specify which one to buy.  They thought about the different cereals I ate in the past, and asked themselves, “what is the most artificial-looking, sugary, grossest cereal we can get?”  Thinking of these criteria, one cereal stood above all others.  They laughed at how disgusting it looked, and naturally, they bought it for me to ingest into my noodly, weak little body.  The cereal was none other than Circus Fun.

Circus Fun

This cereal, famous for its “horses and hoops, balls and bears, elephants and lions” was a giant sugary explosion of artificial dyes, crunchy speckled things, and menagerie of freeze-dried marshmallow animals.  If you didn’t eat it fast enough, the combination would make your milk a fleshy color.

In addition to the artificial nastiness, it was a really bad concept for a cereal.  In the 1950s, maybe kids would get excited for a circus-themed cereal, but in the 80s? The time of cocaine, fast love, and cross-promotional toys?  Bad idea.  Plus, circuses are creepy.  They have clowns.  No child post-Poltergeist wants to face anything like this after a nighttime of clown-related nightmares:

 

Seriously, just put John Wayne Gacy on the box; it might be less disturbing.

When I ate Circus Fun, I thought about why my sisters chose it for me; this amalgam of semi-edible chemicals was a caricature of what they believed I liked to eat.  Was this a joke, or an intervention?

If you are what you eat, what does eating Circus Fun make you? It makes you a clown.  A fake, creepy, sickly sweet clown.  Who wants to be a clown?  I didn’t.  That Saturday morning, I turned on the television for guidance – surely the commercials between my cartoons would give me sound advice on what to eat.

A commercial for Total came up.  I rolled my eyes.  Total was an arrogant bastard, with its whiny little “mehhh you need to eat 900 bowls of your cereal just to shit out one Total flake” byline.  Yeah, it was healthy, but one? It tasted awful.  And two?  I don’t eat smug.  Fail.

Oh, hi sugary Trix cereal.  Since I’m looking for something that is healthy, you are so obviously out.  While you are here, let me remind you why you are dead to me; see that rabbit there? That poor rabbit who only wants one damn bite of your shitty cereal? Your horrible cartoon children mock him and won’t let him have any, instead stuffing their gaping overindulgent maws with pellets of colorful carcinogens.  In the 80s, you let kids vote on whether or not the rabbit could have bite of cereal.  We voted a resounding YES! And then you bastards backed out of the campaign.  Thanks for creating a generation of disillusioned voters, jerks. Big Fail.

Ahh, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes.  You are delicious for the nanosecond you are crunchy.  You have the lowest milk-life on the cereal spectrum.  And your box doesn’t have anything fun on it. Fail.

Then the sun peeked out from the clouds, and the chickadees chirped merrily in a blooming Dogwood tree nearby.   A single ray of sunbeam landed gently on the television set as an angel choir “Ahhhed” in revelry.  The Frosted Mini-Wheats commercial came on.

Frosted Mini-Wheats didn’t have a creatively-named cartoon character; in their later days, they had a cartoon bundled nugget of wheat shreds with a bad case of Multiple Personality Disorder fight with itself in the attempt to determine whether it’s frosted or unfrosted personality was better.  Prior to the cartoon nugget, they simply had random cereal-eaters declare that bundled nuggets of wheat shreds are nasty – but when the nuggets are covered in a sugary plaster, they become irresistible deliciousness.

I watched the commercial and nodded in agreement – yes, yes, I too wanted to eat something that was good for me! But I still needed sugar, sugar, sugar! I am a child of the 80s, and therefore sugar is my cocaine; give me my fix!

After I choked down my Circus Fun, I had my parents purchase a box of Frosted Mini-Wheats.  Noticing the lack of sugar in the ingredients, my mother second-guessed my decision.  I assured her that I wanted this cereal and I would eat it.  That morning, I poured the Mini-Wheats into my bowl.  I flipped all of them to the sugar side because if there was one thing I learned from growing up in the Reagan-Era Cold War is one must pick a side, and damn it, I was firmly on Team Sugar.

I poured the milk over Team Sugar, and each Mini-Wheat sponged up the milk like a Sham-Wow.  A lot of the sugary plaster washed off from the milk, sending me into a panic.  I don’t drink the leftover milk in my cereal bowl, because, ew.  Milk is gross, and it’s even grosser when cereal remnants are swimming around in it.  Sending my sugar to the milk is like sending it to Siberia.  It was soon discovered that this was a cereal with a very quickly deteriorating milk-life.  It was essential that I had to eat it as quickly as possible, before the crispy wheat shreds turned to mush.  Oh, I learned from you, Corn Flakes, I learned.  I loaded my spoon with as many Mini-Wheats as possible and shoveled them into my face.  As I chewed, I realized I chose the wrong team – Team Sugar retreated, leaving behind the limp, soggy wattle-and-daub of Team Healthy to celebrate victory in my mouth.  My mother watched me skeptically as I choked down Team Healthy.  She preempted any vocalization of complaint by saying simply, “you asked for that cereal – you eat it.”

I did my best to fight for Team Sugar – the next day, I put half as much milk in my bowl, hoping to stave off the sogginess.  This worked to a point, but instead of being mushy, I felt like I was eating the roof off of our nativity set.  I moved to desperate measures and sent in reinforcements – I doused the Mini-Wheats with spoonfuls of sugar.  While this made an impressive mortar, it remained unsatisfying.  I wondered, why am I miserable?  I am denying who I am.  I need to be okay with who I am – no, I need to be proud of who I am!  That’s what the school counselors tell us every day.  Be proud of who you are.  And who am I?  I AM TEAM SUGAR FOR LIFE!  And I am going to pick a cereal that will win that battle in my mouth every damn time.

 

Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch?  I will be your lieutenant any day of the week.  You’ve got a strong milk-life, sugar so potent it shreds your gums, cartoons and goodies inside and outside the box.  What else could a child ask for? Besides – peanut butter is healthy, right?  Smug Total says it takes 342 bowls of Cap’n Crunch to get the same nutrition it offers.  To that, I say: proudly reporting for duty, sir!