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!!

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.


Tucson Bus System, Part 2: F-ing Red Robin

[Warning! I drop the F-bomb a few times in this due to quoting.  There is also some erm, more adult issues I mention in this. Sorry…it's kind of unpleasant.  Normally I like to maintain a certain level of whimsy in this blog, but I now feel like I killed a unicorn and drank its blood.  We'll go back to the regular programming of "Anne-Marie was kind of a stupid kid" stuff on the next entry.  I promise. Until then, I'm just going to sneak this into the blog with little fanfare to complete my two-part story...This is what they call a soft sell, isn't it?]

No prior experience on the busses – no snotty mustaches, no crazy singing handicapable stalkers – prepared me for the day I only refer to as “The Bus Trip from Hell.”

My first summer staying in Tucson was a difficult one, but biggest problem I had was I was very broke and in need of a job.  I spent the summer going to different places and filling out applications.  Trying to find a part-time job in the summer in Tucson is next to impossible and I was becoming disheartened.  There were times I would spend the entire day on the bus, going from place to place filling out applications, using transfer after transfer to save money.  I became familiar, even comfortable with the regulars – the delusional androgynous person, for example.  Or the older chap I named Guggenheim.  I actually liked Guggenheim – he would sit in the same bus seat every day, leaving the space next to him empty.  He carried one of those plaid thermoses, and would hold the plastic thermos lid like it were a china cup, sipping from it gingerly, and chatting to his empty seat in a charming, distinguished voice.  As he’d talk, he’d stick his nose up in the air and occasionally roll his eyes over the story he was telling.  I could never understand what his conversations were about, but they seemed delightful.  I’m being serious – if I ever become delusional, I hope my delusion paints me as a Jane Austen character, enjoying tea and witty banter.  Except I don’t think he was drinking tea.

I decided to dedicate one day in particular to travelling all over Tucson by bus in an attempt to find a job.  I hopped on my bus earlier than normal – I was disappointed to not see the regulars – Guggenheim was nowhere to be found.  I sat at the front of the bus, in the seats that face each other.  Across from me was a person who seemed fixated on me.  After a few minutes, I noticed this person started to move their arm in an unnatural motion.  Don’t look.  You remember snotty mustache.  Looking sears awful things into memory.  Rule number one of Bus riding: do not make eye contact with anyone but the bus driver.  Keep the eyes down.  Don’t look, for God’s sake, do not look.  But it might be nothing, I – OH MY GOD.

Why did I look?  I hate you, brain.  Snotty mustache was bad, but this is really, really unpleasant.  He was glaring at me, no less.  That seriously just took off 5 years of my youth;  thanks a lot.  What does one do in this situation?  I know what you’re thinking;  you’re thinking I either tell the bus driver what is going on, or I freak out on the guy.  But see, you’re not thinking like a cynical poor person with limited money and a tight connection schedule.  If I did anything, the bus would stop.  I’d miss my connection.  Maybe I’d have to talk to a cop about pressing some charge against the guy for public indecency.  I’d screw up my entire day of filling out applications, and go home traumatized and without a job prospect.  After all of that, they won’t do anything anyway, because that sort of thing isn’t a priority.  No.  My ride is only a few minutes long, and I’ll just get off, fill out some applications and hop on the next bus.  I stared ahead at the road and tried to think of something else.  Thankfully, my asshole brain agreed that this one isn’t one to tease me with.  I switched busses and made my job application rounds.  I spent a lot of time around the southeastern part of town, hoping I’d get a job at the Barnes & Noble.  That would be a decent job for a college student… I spent a couple of hours applying for other positions in the area.

By 3pm, I decided I had enough and went to the corner to wait for the next bus.  It was over 100 out and I was tired and sweaty.  I couldn’t wait to get back to my utilities-included apartment and cool off.  When I arrived at the bus stop, I knew I was approaching bad news.  Some dude was flailing his arms around and talking loudly.  He was cursing, but about what I couldn’t determine.  The other people at the bus stop gave me “the look” when I sat down.  “The look” translates to, “he’s a psychopath and/or on drugs.  Look out.”  I gave a gentle nod and avoided eye contact with him.  The bus was supposed to arrive in 10 minutes.  I could deal with this.

“Fuck!  Shit!  I am so fucking pissed off, man!  You know what I’m doing today?  I’m going to fucking Red Robin.  Every Friday I go to fucking Red Robin, and I get some muthafuckin’ fries.  Man, I’m going to fuck somebody up!  Who are you looking at, asshole?  You fucking with me?  Don’t fuck with me, because you know what I’m doing right now?  I’m heading up to fucking Red Robin.  Every Friday, muthafuckas.  Shit!”

It went on for 20 minutes.  Where the hell is the bus?  I looked at the bus stop on the other side of the intersection.  That bus would take me downtown, and I’d have to take two additional busses to get home.  No.  That’s money I can’t afford to lose, and it adds an extra hour to the trip.

Someone walked up to the bus stop, which was becoming increasingly crowded and impatient.  “Hey,” Mr. F-ing Red Robin calmly acknowledged our new attendant.

“Hey.”  The guy didn’t know any better.  Newbie.

F-ing Red Robin went off.  “You fucking with me bro?”

“No…I –”

“Fuck you!  Fuck you, you muthafuckin’ asshole.  I’m going to fucking Red Robin and I’m going to have a muthafuckin’ cheeseburger!  So fuck off!”

Oh, God.  It dawned on me.  Fucking Red Robin is at the Fucking Mall – past my fucking apartments.  I’m going to be on the bus with this guy for 40 minutes once the damn bus gets here.

F-ing Red Robin punched a trash can.  “AHHHHHHHHRRRRRGGGGAAAAHHH!!!!”

I thought about my dwindling money.  Do I eat or do I stay safe?  Eat?  Safety?  Eat?  Safety?  Well, I could stretch out the mac and cheese to a couple of days… and I can’t eat its powdery goodness if I’m dead.  And who knows when I’d get home?  The bus was already late, and if this guy gets any worse, it’s going to get pretty ugly.

I calmly stood up and crossed the street.  The other bus arrived and I hopped on.  I looked back at my comrades waiting for the F-ing Red Robin bus.  They were still waiting.  F-ing Red Robin was strangling the bus stop sign.  I made the right choice.  In one day you can only take so much crazy.

I slumped down in one the seats towards the front that faced each other.  I looked across from me and saw a friendly-looking girl.  I gave a tired smile and a nod.  She averted my gaze, stuck her paper transfer in her mouth and promptly ate it.  I shrugged my shoulders.  Could be worse…

The Tucson Bus System, Part I: O Holy Hurrff

[Warning! I curse a little bit in this] 

Is that what I think it is?

Oh God, it is!  Look away.  Don’t look.  Don’t look.  I can’t unsee it – *HURRFF!*

Close your eyes and try to think of something other than the man who just got on the bus with the giant mustache covered in snot.  I’ve got a sensitive stomach; it doesn’t take much to make me wretch.  Snot was all over his… *hurrff!!*  Think.  Think.  Look at your cute little clothes.  Those cute pinstripe shorts you got for $5 at Robinsons-May.  You’ll be at Emily’s in no time.  Mustache.  Shut up, mind!  Stop torturing me!  Snotty Mustache!  *Hurrff!*  Can’t unsee!!  Can’t unsee!!  Ooo, Emily’s apartment complex, pull the cord!

Ding!  Oh thank God.  Oh please let me get off the Snotty Mustache Express without vomiting.  Don’t look at him as you walk by… don’t look at him as you walk by… OH SWEET MOTHER OF TAP DANCING JESUS IT’S STILL THERE.  I managed to muster a “thank you” to the bus driver and stepped off the bus.  I felt cold sweat cover my brow, and I doubled over letting out a final dry *hurrff!* before I entered the AM/PM across from Emily’s apartments.  I was starving, and wanted a quick lunch before I went to her place.  I grabbed a big, fat, juicy hot dog and began to cross the street.  I bit into it and began to chew.  Snotty Mustache!  Damn you, asshole brain.  Damn you.

If this was the worst experience I had on the Tucson bus system, I would have been lucky.  Alas, no.  Between Emily living in the middle of No-Tel Mo-Tel Hell and the demilitarized zones I would later live in, I often wound up on bad bus routes and experienced the gross, weird and scary world of public transit.

As winter break neared, I went to Our Lady Queen of Shopping (known by non-believers as the Tucson Mall) and bought Emily a frying pan for some reason I can no longer recall.  I walked to the bus stop to wait for the bus line that stopped in front of Emily’s apartment complex.  There was a man sitting in a wheelchair who greeted me when I sat down.  “Hello,” he said.

“Hi, how are you?”  I looked over at him, and noticed that his limbs were randomly wrapped in foam padding, like the kind you would see under a carpet.  We chatted for a while, and I got a serious creepy vibe from the guy.  I figured he was injured or something, and tried to ignore the Stranger Danger alarm.  My social anxiety always kept me amped up, and I felt like I tended to be overly avoidant and cautious with people.  Don’t be a dick.  Connect with people.  Damn you, brain.  Ok.  We began to talk about music and singing.  See?  This isn’t so bad.  We’re connecting. 

He smiled creepily.  “I love Christmas music.”

“Me too!”  Connecting.  Look at me!  I’m actually talking to a stranger; making eye contact and all that jazz.   I’m so proud of myself!

“Can you sing me a Christmas song?”

Connecting with a stra…wha??  “Oh, um… I don’t know…”  The bus stop was filling with people.

“Please?  It would mean so much to me.”

All of a sudden my brain, who was so cruel to me in the Snotty Mustache episode, spoke to me with righteous indignation.  The man in the wheelchair wants you to sing to him.  Is that so hard?  Can you do a good thing for once and sing for this man?  It’s the Christmas season – what would Jesus do?  Damn it, brain.

“Um… okay.  What would you like me to sing?”

His eyes widened.  “What is your favorite Christmas song?”

“O Holy Night.”

“Sing that!”

“Okay…”  And God help me, I sang it.  He started to belt in with me.  To his credit, he had a decent tenor voice.  Slowly people started edging away from us at the bus stop.  Crap!  They thought I was a crazy person too!

“O COME ALL YE FAITHFULL… SING IT WITH ME!!!”  He began to wail, singing like he was at a Revival.  I complied.

“Joyful and triumphant…”  I squeaked.  Where is that damn bus?  People, I’m not crazy, I’m just singing to make a man wrapped in foam happy.  I–stop averting my gaze!  It’s the Christmas season!  Sing with the man!  DON’T JUDGE ME!

We continued on to two additional carols, and if this happened in the days of YouTube, I’m sure we would have been captured on a phone only to be auto-tuned to viral perfection.  Thank God for small favors.

The bus finally came, and he got on first, with the driver using the special lift and wheelchair seating that was on the front of the bus.  I got on the bus and noticed it was standing room only.  The girl in front of me stood beside his wheelchair, as I began to walk towards the back.  He grabbed my wrist and glared at the girl.  “You need to move.  That’s my friend’s spot.”  Oh, shit.  He’ll be wearing my skin as a suit before the night is out.  I hope I at least make a cute suit.  The girl shrugged her shoulders and moved to the back.  I stood beside him as he hummed Christmas songs.  I thought about the frying pan in my shopping bag.  Okay, if he does something crazy, I have a weapon!  Or, you know, I could run.  He started to ask me where I lived, and I gave him an incorrect generic answer.  As we neared Emily’s apartment, I pulled the cord, and we eased to a stop.  I looked at my foam-covered friend, and smiled nervously.  “It was nice meeting you…”

He looked angry that I was leaving him.  “I hope to see you again.”

“Um yea!”  And I ran off the bus.  I held the frying pan in a defensive grip and high-tailed it to Emily’s apartment, just in case.  When I told her the story, she looked at me like I was a damned fool and said, “Oh, he was faking it!  He probably used the foam to make it look like he was bandaged…what were you thinking?”

“I…well…I…”  Damn you, brain!

Ha, ha, sucka!  Oh, and… snotty mustache!