The Last Unicorn: When Whimsy Trumps Practicality

“That better not have cost more than twenty dollars,” Dave Dorman declared. Loudly. Jack and I looked up to the right, whistling, shuffling our right feet in the dirt. (That is, if we lived in a house with dirt floors. After baseball practice, it’s sometimes hard to tell.)

The Last Unicorn, aka Jack.

Jack and I just curated the newest piece in our weird little menagerie of pranks and cosplay from, of all places, Around the Corner Candy  shop in West Dundee, IL, which turns out to have a rather clever collection of hilarious crap. (The other perfect job for me, aside from my other perfect job as proprietor of the “All Hands on Deck” cards parlor, would be curating hilarious crap. Here’s a math equation even I can grasp: Me + Unlimited Archie McPhee Credit Card = Bankruptcy.)

I can recall the first time Jack and I simultaneously spotted the unicorn head on the highest shelf in her shop two weeks ago. We both saw this glittery, rainbow glow spotlighting it, whilst a choir of angels held a very long “Ahhhhh” note, not unlike the sound effect when you start up your Mac computer.

“Why?” you might ask, “do you need a unicorn mask?” Weeeellllll…there’s Halloween. And then there’s…well, we could wear it to Cons, until we got too sweaty under all of that rubber. I didn’t need that retractable dinner fork and the googly-eyed glasses I bought in Key West, either, but they’ve sure come in rather handy over the years.

It all boils down to this: Make lasting memories. Jack and I will never forget how hard we’ve laughed together over this silly mask. Today we’re wearing it–er, bringing it–to my Godson’s confirmation party. My Facebook page will soon be flooded with pics of all of my relatives wearing it in some fashion. While Dave is off snoring in a recliner somewhere, Jack and I will be continuing our tradition of injecting hijinks into our family gatherings. (My Aunt Karen still hasn’t commented, or perhaps noticed, the appointment we added to her calendar a few weeks ago to get her anal fissures examined.)

You’ve only got one shot at earning a good tombstone epitaph. I suggest we all make the most of it. Here’s hoping mine will say “Beloved Mother, Friend, Prankster.” 

My Restaurant Alias

If you attend C2E2 this weekend, be sure to visit Dave Dorman at E-1 in Artists Alley. “E,” as in “Easy-to-Remember” and 1 as in, also easy to remember. (I’ll be there Sunday!)

Ever been waiting to be seated at a crowded restaurant when you heard the hostess yell out a ridiculous name? Yeah, that was probably me. In honor of Mystery Science Theater 3000s new comeback on Netflix, I’ll probably start leaving the name “Tom Servo” with the hostess, but my old standard is Nipsey Russell. This makes me giggle like a 12-year-old schoolboy every time I hear it uttered–loudly–in a busy restaurant foyer. I can’t explain it, but it tickles my ribs. Juuuuust riiiiight.

The Man. The Legend. Also, My Restaurant Alias.

One of my many favorite things about The Simpsons is Bart Simpson’s frequent prank-phone-call-to-Moe’s routine. For your reading pleasure, here they are. (I may have to borrow Ivana Tinkle one of these days…and hopefully, the hostess doesn’t threaten to carve her name into my back with an ice pick…)

Some Enchanted Evening

Bart: Is Al there?
Moe: Al?
Bart: Yeah, Al. Last name Caholic?
Moe: Hold on, I’ll check. Phone call for Al… Al Caholic. Is there an Al Caholic here?
(The guys in the pub cheer.)
Moe: Wait a minute… Listen, you little yellow-bellied rat jackass, if I ever find out who you are, I’m gonna kill you!

Some Enchanted Evening

Bart: Is Oliver there?
Moe: Who?
Bart: Oliver Clothesoff.
Moe: Hold on, I’ll check. (calls) Oliver Clothesoff! Call for Oliver Clothesoff!
(Marge picks up the extension)
Listen, you lousy bum, if I ever get a hold of you, I swear I’ll cut your belly open!

Homer’s Odyssey

Bart: (with Lisa) Is Mister Freely there?
Moe: Who?
Bart: Freely, first initials I. P.
Moe: Hold on, I’ll check. Uh, is I. P. Freely here? Hey everybody, I.P. Freely!
(the customers laugh) Wait a minute… Listen to me you lousy bum. When I get a hold of you, you’re dead. I swear I’m gonna slice your heart in half.

Moaning Lisa

Bart: (with Lisa)
Moe: Yeah, Moe’s Tavern, Moe speaking.
Bart: Is Jaques there?
Moe: Who?
Bart: Jaques, last name Strap.
Moe: Uh, hold on. Uh, Jock… Strap… Hey guys I’m looking for a Jock Strap.
(laughs from all) Oh… wait a minute… Jock Strap… It’s you isn’t it ya cowardly little runt? When I get a hold of you, I’m gonna gut you like a fish and drink your blood.

One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish

Bart: (with Lisa)
Moe: Hello, Moe’s Tavern. Birthplace of the Rob Roy.
Bart: Is Seymour there? Last name Butz.
Moe: Just a sec. Hey, is there a Butz here? A Seymour Butz? Hey, everybody, I wanna Seymour Butz!
(realizes) Wait a minute… Listen, you little scum-sucking pus-bucket! When I get my hands on you, I’m gonna pull out your eyeballs with a corkscrew!

Principal Charming

Bart: (in Principal Skinner’s office) Hello, is Homer there?
Moe: Homer who?
Bart: Homer… Sexual.
Moe: Wait one second, let me check. (calls) Uh, Homer Sexual? Hey, come on, come on, one of you guys has got to be Homer Sexual!
Homer: Don’t look at me!
Moe: You rotten liver pot! If I ever get a hold of you, I’ll sink my teeth into your cheek and rip your face off!
Skinner: You’ll do what, young man?

Blood Feud

Moe(answers the phone) Moe’s Tavern, where the elite meet to drink.
Bart: Uh, hello. Is Mike there? Last name, Rotch.
Moe: Hold on, I’ll check. (calls) Mike Rotch! Mike Rotch! Hey, has anybody seen Mike Rotch lately?
(barflies laugh) Listen, you little puke. One of these days, I’m going to catch you, and I’m going to carve my name on your back with an ice pick.

Treehouse of Horror II

Bart: with Mrs. Krabappel and one of the Sherri/Terri twins
Moe(answers the phone) Moe’s Tavern. … Hold on, I’ll check. Uh, hey, everybody! I’m a stupid moron with an ugly face and big butt and my butt smells and I like to kiss my own butt.
All(laugh)
Barney: Ho ho, that’s a good one.
Moe: Wait a minute…
Bart(hangs up and laughs)

Flaming Moe’s

Moe: (answering the phone) Flaming Moe’s.
Bart: Uh, yes, I’m looking for a friend of mine. Last name Jass. First name Hugh.
Moe: Uh, hold on, I’ll check. (calling) Hugh Jass! Somebody check the men’s room for a Hugh Jass!
Man: Uh, I’m Hugh Jass.
Moe: Telephone. (hands over the receiver)
Hugh: Hello, this is Hugh Jass.
Bart(surprised) Uh, hi.
Hugh: Who’s this?
Bart: Bart Simpson.
Hugh: Well, what can I do for you, Bart?
Bart: Uh, look, I’ll level with you, Mister. This is a crank call that sort of backfired, and I’d like to bail out right now.
Hugh: All right. Better luck next time. (hangs up) What a nice young man.

Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk

Moe: Moe’s Tavern, Moe speaking.
Bart: Uh, yes, I’m looking for a Mrs. O’Problem? First name, Bea.
Moe: Uh, yeah, just a minute, I’ll check. (calls) Uh, Bea O’Problem? Bea O’Problem! Come on guys, do I have a Bea O’Problem here?
Barney: You sure do! (everyone laughs)
Moe: Oh… (to phone) It’s you, isn’t it! Listen, you. When I get a hold of you, I’m going to use your head for a bucket and paint my house with your brains!

New Kid on the Block

Moe(answers the phone) Yeah, just a sec; I’ll check. (calls) Amanda Hugginkiss? Hey, I’m lookin’ fer Amanda Hugginkiss. Why can’t I find Amanda Hugginkiss?
Barney: Maybe your standards are too high!
Moe: [to phone] You little S.O.B. Why, when I find out who you are, I’m going to shove a sausage down your throat and stick starving dogs in your butt!
Bart: My name is Jimbo Jones, and I live at 1094 Evergreen Terrace.
Moe: I knew he’s slip up sooner or later! He unsheathes a rusty knife and heads out of the tavern.

New Kid on the Block

(Laura Powers with Bart)
Laura: Hello, I’d like to speak to Ms. Tinkle? First name… Ivana?
Moe: Ivana Tinkle, just a sec. (calls) Ivana Tinkle! Ivana Tinkle! Hey, everybody, put down your glasses. Ivana Tinkle!The PTA DisbandsThis isn’t at Moe’s; Moe is taking over as the substitute teacher for Mrs. Krabappel’s class during the strike
Moe: OK, when I call your name, uh, you say “present” or “here”. Er, no, say “present”. Ahem, Anita Bath?
(laughter from kids)
Moe: All right, settle down. Anita Bath here?
(laughter)
Moe: All right, fine, fine. Maya Buttreeks!
(more laughter)
Moe: Hey, what are you laughing at? What? Oh, oh, I get it, I get it. It’s my big ears, isn’t it, kids? Isn’t it? Well, children, I can’t help that!
Moe runs out of the classroom crying.

Homer the Smithers

Burns: I’m looking for a Mr. Smithers, first name Wayland
Moe: Oh, so, you’re looking for a Mr. Smithers, eh? First name Wayland, is it? Listen to me, you; when I catch you, I’m gonna pull out your eyes and stick ’em down your pants, so you can watch me kick the crap outta you, okay? Then I’m gonna use your tongue to paint my boat!

Bart on the Road

Homer: Hello, I’d like to speak with a Mr. Snotball, first name Eura
Moe: Eura Snotball?
Homer: What? How dare you! If I find out who this is, I’ll staple a flag to your butt and mail you to Iran!

Homer The Moe

(Homer is looking after Moe’s.)
Bart: I’d like to speak to a Mr. Tabooger, first name Ollie.
Homer: (excited) Ooh! My first prank call! What do I do?
Bart: Just ask if anyone knows Ollie Tabooger.
Homer: I don’t get it.
Bart: Yell out “I’ll eat a booger”
Homer: What’s the gag?
Bart: Oh, forget it…

24 Minutes

Ahmed Adoodie

 

Yelp: The New Form of American Literary Expression

Any gathering with my crazy, comedic family spurs me into creative thinking mode. Yesterday’s Thanksgiving feast was no exception. Here, courtesy of my Facebook post, is one of the props I loaded into Jack’s pockets:

This Facebook post will give you some idea of our family shenanigans.

This Facebook post gives you some idea of my family culture…

My cousin Greg, who blew in from Ohio to join us yesterday, has made Yelp.com reviews his own loving form of literary expression. Within our family circle, his reviews are a constant source of entertainment. Adding to the hilarity, his daughter told me a recent South Park episode was dedicated to Yelp reviews, which means, you know, Yelp reviews are now officially “a thing.” A pop culture snapshot of 2015. And here’s a link to that episode of South Park that you MUST see: http://southpark.cc.com/full-episodes/s19e04-youre-not-yelping

Cartman, the Yelp Reviewer - South Park Episode "You're Not Yelping"

Cartman, the Yelp Reviewer – South Park Episode “You’re Not Yelping”

My favorite South Park scene? This 50-page review by Gerald…for Applebee’s:

Gerald, the genius behind the epic Applebee's review on South Park.

Gerald, the genius behind the EPIC Applebee’s review on South Park.

“And yet, there is more…in this crisp time as Autumn begins to fade, the chef brines chicken in habanero and even adds habanero powder to the crust…but the heat is restrained. You experience the fruity, delicious flavor of this without any spicy pain. I don’t need any more pain. Hell, does anyone?”

God, these guys are comedy geniuses. Writing scripts for South Park would be the dream job for me, right up there with writing for Mystery Science Theater 3000 #MST3K or Bob’s Burgers.

So for Christmas this year, I’ll be self-publishing this hardcover parody gift book:

“YELP–An Exploration in Modern American Literary Expression: The Greg McDonald Edition.”

If you are interested in having your very own copy of this exclusive, limited edition, Modern American Literature Masterpiece, just shoot me an email and I’ll add you to the list. I’m guessing it will be around $30 + shipping, given my previous experiences with Blurb.com. For an extra $100, I may even score you a signature and stick figure pencil sketch from the original author…the unintentional literary sensation, Greg McDonald!

You  know, I always thought I would be the first in our family to publish a literary masterpiece. Who knew Greg would usurp me?!?

 

An Unlikely Series of Events: George Barris and Henry Winkler

My life is a non-stop bizarre bazaar of pop culture icon intersections. When I heard car designer George Barris–creator of THE Batmobile–died this week, my heart sank. I spent time with George at his shop in L.A. when I was the writer/producer on cars-and-stars nationally syndicated TV series, The Super Chargers. George provided us with vehicles for one of our episodes–I believe it was the Sally Struthers episode that we shot at her residence, as well as Universal Studios.

The genius, Mr. George Barris

But even more unlikely is the story I’m about to tell. As I write this, I’m still busting out into giggles, since this JUST happened:

I recently took on a subcontractor job, and I was warned that the surveillance was so onerous, I could only communicate with The Sister Wives via texts when I went to the bathroom every 90 minutes. Our daily text message chain is a leviathan tome of non-stop, hilarious commentary. One of the Sister Wives–I believe it was Gina–started calling me “The Fonze” because I was always signing my texts “from Denise, in the 4th stall,” an act Gina deemed as “Stepping into my office,” a.k.a., the public restroom. It was like Happy Days, but smellier, and minus the wholesome fun of 1950s Milwaukee.

I had to add this graphic, since Gina found it and it's so perfect for this blog.

I had to add this graphic, since Gina found it and it’s so perfect for this blog.

So you can just imagine how hard I laughed when I learned that–of ALL peopleHenry Winkler was appearing with Dave at Rhode Island Comic Con this weekend! I texted Dave and begged him to do me this one favor. And he did. In a rare moment of compliance, Dave gave in to one of my typical madcap requests. Somehow, he convinced Mr. Winkler to sign this for my Sister Wives:

Henry Winkler/The Fonze writes: "The Sister Wives, from the 4th stall in my office"

Today Henry Winkler/The Fonze writes: “The Sister Wives, from the 4th stall in my office”

You can ask my BFF since 7th grade, Marovich, or my BFF since kindergarten, Darlene. I’m never one to let an inside joke die…to the point that I’ve not only jumped the shark, but I’ve also made a bitchin’ necklace out of its teeth, a cancer-treating soup from its fin, and wallets from its first layer of glistening skin before I’m done. Who am I kidding? I’m never done.

I will get this treasure-beyond-measure matted and framed. I’m sure it will be rotating the walls of my Sister Wives’ homes. And Dave won’t even have to buy me a Christmas gift this year. This. Was. Perfect.

Dave was a good sport, as was Henry Winkler, truly a class act.

Dave was a good sport, as was Henry Winkler–truly a class act.

 

The Pranks and Hijinks I Am Sorely Missing

One of this century's greatest inventions. And you thought it was the Internet?!?

One of last century’s greatest inventions. And you thought it was the Internet?!?

I should have left my mani/pedi on Tuesday in ignominy, after my boisterous outburst of laughter. After all, this was one of Chicagoland’s most prestigious spas–one of those where you feel like you should be speaking in a hushed tone at all times while sipping your cucumber water. Instead, the whole room of women soaking their feet, who had no idea what I was laughing about, joined me. Even the lady with resting bitch face joined in, much to my surprise. I was sharing one of my crazy prank phone call stories with my fellow partner in crime that day–Rose–and I literally cried my makeup off laughing so hard. Naturally, this prank phone call story involves my other partner in crime, BFF Marovich and her brother Johnny Rockstar, but I can’t tell that one here. However…I will share here some of the fun we used to have when Marovich was a CEO. God, I miss those days.

When Marovich was CEO of her former company, the hijinks never stopped. I loved being there in the midst of it, as her dedicated outside marketing agency. It was worth the hour’s drive and parking in a terrible Chicago neighborhood. She would challenge her employees to take on all manner of ridiculous dares, all day long. One girl was forced to snake dance down the sidewalk in front of the building on a busy street, enduring the cat calls from every perv driving past. For our amusement, our friend and Marovich’s right-hand person Mary would chug down Diet Cokes and we’d time her epic, signature depths-of-hell belches. I think she reached 10 seconds during her peak performance. Here are just a few of the crazy antics:

Marovich had this phone system at her old company where she could patch together two calls and then listen in. Her mad genius mind patched together White Hen calling 7-11, Bosa Donuts calling Dunkin’ Donuts, and other industry competitors. As each side answered the phone, arguments always ensued over who called whom. Marovich would just kick back and listen for her own amusement (and mine).

Then there was the sweet and long-suffering little old Italian man she inherited from her father’s regime. Antonio became her janitor and errands runner. It’s a miracle we didn’t give him a heart attack. The first time I met and shook Antonio’s hand, it was with the fake rubber hand Marovich suggested I stuff inside of my sleeve. As it fell out on the floor, Antonio jumped. Very high, for such an old man.

Above Marovich’s desk was the antlered head of a giant moose her father, the business owner, had hunted. It was disgusting. Marovich accidentally broke one of the giant antlers. Fearing the wrath of her bombastic, short-fused father, she engineered an ingenious plan to get it quickly repaired. She gingerly balanced the broken antler piece back together and called Antonio to come in and dust her office…including the moose head. (I think this was the time Marovich and I hid inside of the louvered-door closet in her office with Mary, crossing our legs not to wet our pants, suppressing our giggles.) Naturally, Antonio dusted the antler, which flew to the ground and he jumped, mortified. It was like watching sped up, time-lapsed film as Antonio hustled to repair that antler in record time with a wood screw and carpenter’s glue.

Then Marovich’s banker would come in for meetings. At the time, her daughter was young and had lots of stickers at home. Glittery stickers. As her banker was on his way off to his next meeting, Marovich would gently pat him on the back as she ushered him out the door, affixing her daughter’s most glittery My Little Pony stickers to his expensive suit jackets. We always wondered what the people in his next meeting thought. And this was pre-Brony era. (Ever since then, when anyone touches my back, I’m always double-checking for the “Kick Me” sign.)

These are merely a few examples of the innocent fun we used to have. I can’t wait for the day when Marovich is at the helm of another company and we can “get the band back together, man.” I have a perfectly good remote control fart machine that’s gathering dust…

I’m So Thankful for Jack Right Now…

Our 10-year-old Jack has been one of God’s greatest gifts. In Jack, I got my own personal entertainer, and in me, Jack got his adoring audience and live laugh track. His sense of humor and quick wit continually save me from despair, especially after last night, when I hand-fed my weakened father his dinner, helplessly watching him decline from Stage 4 prostate cancer.

Jack in my prop  prosthetic hillbilly teeth.

Jack in my prop prosthetic hillbilly teeth.

Monday, Jack was off of school (for what seemed like the 10th time since Winter Break, which ended January 5th) so we did our dentist appointments together. He decided that my prosthetic crystal meth hillbilly teeth (pictured above) would make the visit “more interesting,” which they did…for the hygienist and the office manager. Thank God there are still adults out there with a sense of humor, and an accompanying sense of noblesse oblige.

Jonesy the Cat and Dave.

Jonesy the Cat and Dave.

Last week, Jonesy the cat, who exhibits an unfortunate case of arrested development and still tries to nurse on everyone, crawled under the covers and proceeded to bite Dave on the balls. Jack and I were absolutely doubled over, howling with laughter. The text speak “ROFL” is reserved for moments like this one. (It made me wonder for a brief moment if Jonesy was my Secret Santa this year?!?) The next morning at breakfast, Jack queried Dave:

“So…did Jonesy bite your onions this morning, or did she leave your garden alone?!?” You don’t often comments like that at 7 a.m. , especially from 10-year-olds. Jack definitely takes the sting out of the heaviness in our lives at this moment.

Jack has always demonstrated great comedic timing. I first recognized this while driving him home from pre-school one afternoon. On that particular day, the pre-school had a visiting zoo and Jack was in his little car seat in the back, in his high-pitched little boy voice, regaling me with tales of his animal adventures. He shared that he had petted the pony, and I immediately asked if he had washed his hands (he’s allergic to animal hair, hence our hairless cat) and he reassured me that he did.

And then Jack proceeded onward: “So I got to ride the pony.”

Me: “You di-i-i-id?” (Said in that adult, patronizing, sing-song way of speak we do to our children.)

Jack: “And not only did I ride the pony, but I crawled up onto his back…and then I did a handstand…and then I balanced upside-down…on one finger!”

At this point, my theater of the mind was blowing circuits. I nearly drove off the road laughing at this ridiculous visual.

Mother of the Year retorted: “So what did you do for an encore!?! Blow firecrackers out of your ass?”

To which Jack replied, without skipping a beat: “No…but the pony did!” At this point, I totally lost my shit. I could barely make the five-minute drive home, howling with laughter all of the way there. That one earned him a Dairy Queen, although he was befuddled by all of the fuss.

So when the 4th grade teacher asked him yesterday what he wanted to be when he grew up, he answered, “A comedian,” with zero hesitation, responding in that what-a-ridiculous-question tone that infers “Of course…what else would I be?!”

Jack knows if he follows this pursuit, he’ll always have an appreciative audience of at least one.