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?!?

 

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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.

 

Dave Dorman and Mr. T

Every once in a while, the universe conspires to create a magic moment. Take yesterday, for example. I was at O’Hare Airport reading a message on my phone from a friend reminiscing about buying Rocky III on Betamax for $90. Oddly enough, Mr. T was in First Class on our flight. As we walked off of the plane, we ran into Mr. T, who graciously took this photo.

Mr. T and Dave Dorman at O'Hare Airport 4/13/15

Mr. T and Dave Dorman at O’Hare Airport 4/13/15

Mr.T and Dave reminisced about the comic book cover Dave painted for his “Mr. T and the T Force” comic book series from NOW Comics, which you can see here. Dave thanked him profusely for all of his many kindnesses to kids. From our far-flung gate all of the way to baggage claim, Mr. T welcomed people to take photos along the way, always prioritizing women and children first.

Dave Dorman Comic Book Cover Art for "Mr. T and the T Force"

Dave Dorman Comic Book Cover Art for “Mr. T and the T Force”

 

Mr. T exemplifies the type of person you root for to gain celebrity status, because he embraces it. He owns it. He shares it.

I sent the image of Dave and Mr. T to our 10-year-old, whose only comment was, “Who’s Mr. T?” Someone needs a pop culture history lesson, STAT.

 

The Weirdest Convention I Ever Did With Dave Dorman

Dave and I have been together for 15 years now, so as you can imagine, we’ve shared many bizarre convention adventures, given the sheer number of shows we’ve done. However, there’s one small, local convention that still wins for the most bizarre. Being there, I felt like I was floating through this weird, drug-induced pop culture dream, filled with disparate TV and film characters from my youth and early adulthood.

It was a small collectors’ show at a suburban Chicago Holiday Inn, held in this cramped, low-ceilinged, poorly lit conference room. The moment I walked in, I was met by actor Richard Kiel (Jaws from James BondSQUEE!–and hilarious in Happy Gilmore) joined by his lovely wife.

Actor Richard Kiel, JAWS in James Bond films "The Spy Who Loved Me" and "Moonraker."

Actor Richard Kiel, JAWS in James Bond films “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Moonraker.”

At this point, Richard was already having health issues, confined to getting around in a Rascal, which broke my heart a little. He was a gentle giant and a sweet soul, very kind to the fans.

Further down the line of tables on the same side as Richard Kiel was the elegant Goldfinger actress Shirley Eaton, who was with one of her sons hawking books of her own poetry and autographing pictures of her gold-painted Bond Girl character, Jill Masterson. That was one tzotchke I had to have, although I gifted it to a kindred James Bond fan later that evening for his birthday. (Side note: Those exotic James Bond films were a VERY. BIG. DEAL. at my house growing up. About once every February a James Bond flick was ABC’s Movie of the Week, my TV viewing highlight of the year).

Actress Shirley Eaton was still beautiful in her 70s when I met her.

Actress Shirley Eaton was still beautiful in her 70s when I met her.

Shortly past Shirley, and directly across from Dave Dorman was actress Erin Moran of Happy Days fame. You might be surprised to know that petite little Erin has this husky, whiskey-and-cigarettes tone of voice that really carries…the sort of voice that literally exhausts Dave and vexes his spirit. The gregarious sort, Erin’s voice was a loud, constant drone throughout the show. Dave couldn’t escape it, penned to his table, enduring 8 hours of it on Saturday. He actually shortened his exhibit hours on Sunday, as he could no longer bear the sound of her. Erin was great to her fans, but Dave was not one of them.

Happy Days actress Erin Moran

Happy Days actress Erin Moran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behind Erin Moran was the very sweet and kind Carroll Spinney, the voice of Sesame Street’s Big Bird

Carroll Spinney, The Voice of SESAME STREET's BIG BIRD

Carroll Spinney, The Voice of SESAME STREET’s BIG BIRD

and actor Larry ThomasThe Soup Nazi from Seinfeld.

Actor Larry Thomas, the beloved Soup Nazi from Seinfeld

Actor Larry Thomas, the beloved Soup Nazi from Seinfeld

When my cousin Becky and I watched “Dazed and Confused,” we both felt as if we’d been partying all night just from watching it…it left us with this strange, hung-over feeling. And that’s how I felt after 8 hours at this collectors’ show with the most eclectic mash-up of TV and film figures from my lifetime. I still have the occasional dream–I’m the weirdo who remembers my dreams every morning–where I’m floating through that Holiday Inn pop culture blur…Dazed and Confused.

 

My Partner in Crime Jock Hedblade Wins His 3rd Emmy!

Jock Hedblade is probably the best media trainer I’ve ever seen or hired in my 20+ years in PR. And that is why I now manage him. With his 25 years of nationally syndicated producer experience in radio and TV, there is no one out there who can outperform Jock when it comes to getting the best results from C-suite executives and future TV pundits. No one.

Jock Hedblade, Producer and Media Trainer Extraordinaire.

Jock Hedblade, Producer and Media Trainer Extraordinaire.

Jock, Summer 2014, on a much-needed break.

Jock, Summer 2014, on a much-needed break.

 Dave Dorman and I are so proud of Jock, and we know how hard he has worked to earn this third Emmy. He has earned it, ten-fold.