Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Transformers, Gary Lewis and a County Fair

Guess what? No, not chicken butt, but, rather, more Chickenhead!

His writing keeps getting found in the rubble that was his 8x10 cabin.

Ravaged By Ravage
Date unknown

It was a cold winter evening. My parents put my sister and I to bed after
watching Joe Don Baker in “Mitchell.” It was a quiet night, almost too
quiet. We weren’t in bed long before hearing a loud banging that literally
shook the entire house. Then the wall of my bedroom crumbled and this
enormous thing came through it. At first I thought it was the big Kool-Aid
guy, yelling “Oh, yeah!” in the middle of the night. We weren’t this lucky.
It was a giant robot firing a huge gun at all my stuff. He was accompanied
by a much smaller robot, who used his arms as pile drivers to create an
earthquake effect in my room.
“Ravage, eject!” the big one said in a bizarre, robotic voice. His chest
opened up and something came out. “Ravage, Rumble, attack!” the big guy said
again. I was scared, unbelieving, and yet familiar with these three
monsters. I was a ten-year-old human boy being attacked by the evil
Transformers the Decepticons. The big one was Soundwave, who transforms into
a cassette recorder. His friends were the tapes that fit into his chest,
Rumble and Ravage. Rumble was a quick-tempered street punk, Ravage a vicious
Ravage came at me, tearing at my sheets and clothes. My parents tried to
save me, but couldn’t due to Rumble pile driving.
“Laserbeak, attack!” Soundwave said, and the condor flew in out of
nowhere to help Ravage by pecking at me mercilessly. I couldn’t believe that
the characters in the cartoon I loved so much were now trying to kill my
family and me. But why? I was nothing but a loyal viewer who enjoyed the
program every afternoon after school with Thundercats and G.I. Joe, followed
by wrestling on ESPN. Why me? And where were the Autobots, those bastards?
Why weren’t they saving me? Where was Optimus Prime? Smokescreen? The
Dinobots? If this were Cobra and Destro, I knew G.I. Joe would be here. Why
wouldn’t anyone help me? He-man? Josie and the Pussycats? Barbapapa?
I was nearing the end of my rope. This damn bird and cat were almost
finished with me. Then I saw ten figures flying toward the house. They
landed and began fighting off the Decepticons. I barely had it together
enough to recognize them as legendary fifties tribute group Sha Na Na. All
of them: Bowzer, Chico, Zeppo, Fleagle, Bingo, Ringo, Pixie, Dixie, Diaper
Man, Cuckoo Man, Boober and Curly. All right, so I counted twelve, and I
don’t know most of their names. They were saving me. That was all that
Within minutes, Sha Na Na disposed of Soundwave and his cassette-tape
friends. My parents and sister showed the band their gratitude, thanking
them for saving their son and brother. The boys said your welcome by singing
a medley of fifties hits, and the four of us chased after the Decepticons,
begging them to finish us off.


May 1, 2001

It was a rather disturbing sight. Jerry was on stage singing karaoke to
“This Diamond Ring,” by Gary Lewis and the Playboys while dressed as Little
Bo Peep and sucking on a giant candy cane. It paled in comparison to his
rendition of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside;” nonetheless, this was a bit much.
The problem with Jerry was that he fancied himself a performer. Once he was
in the spotlight, you needed a hook the size of a skyscraper to get him off
the stage. When he finally did leave the stage, it was only for a costume
change so he could come back as Norma Desmond from “Sunset Boulevard” and
inexplicably perform “Springtime For Hitler” from Mel Brooks’ “The
Producers.” This led, even more inexplicably, to Jerry doing a scene from
the fictional soap opera “The Sun Also Sets” from the movie “Soapdish,” then
reading sections from Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises.” The crowd,
recognizing this as a blatant stealing from Andy Kaufman, began throwing
veal marsala at Jerry until he was forced out of the building and we all had
to follow.
The ride home was no less interesting than Jerry’s karaoke performance.
Jerry threw in a mixed CD he had made of music from the eighties, which
began with “Down Under” and “Be Good, Johnny” from Men at Work’s “Business
As Usual.” When I suggested that “Cargo” was a better album than “Business
As Usual,” you would have thought I had said Dick Sargent was better than
Dick York on “Bewitched,” because it started quite an argument. The car
became a world at war as we segued into “Bewitched”/Samantha vs. Jeannie. To
me, this was a no contest as Jeannie was no more than a “Bewitched” rip-off
and I always had a thing for Elizabeth Montgomery. I vowed to wrestle anyone
choosing Jeannie, just as I did with those who chose Kirstie Alley/Rebecca
Howe over Shelley Long/Diane Chambers from “Cheers.”
It was amazing to me that the songs on the CD would suddenly bring
everyone together, and we all knew the lyrics to the songs, despite all of
us being only infants when they were released. “Come On, Eileen,” “The
Safety Dance,” and “Our House” each received rousing choruses unlike any I’d
ever heard. Even Irene Cara’s “Breakdance” threw us into wild refrains, just
as it would have in 1984 when the movie “Breakin’” somehow necessitated the
immediate release of “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.” We decided that, just
like every part three should be in 3D, every part two should be called
“Electric Boogaloo.” This summer we would have “Scary Movie 2: Electric
The eighties seems to be the weird nostalgia for college-age kids these
days. Nick at Nite even has their eighties line-up containing “Diff’rent
Strokes,” “The Facts of Life,” and “Silver Spoons,” when just five years
ago, when we were in high school, they had good shows like “The Dick Van
Dyke Show” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” The other interesting thing,
especially with those in this car, is that every college-age kid’s idea of a
classic movie is “The Breakfast Club” or “Sixteen Candles.” Just days
before, I was sitting in the dorm watching the silent short film “The
Butcher Boy,” starring Buster Keaton and Fatty Arbuckle. When my roommate
Pete entered and sat down, out of curiosity I asked him what year he thought
the film was made.
“I don’t know,” he said. “The sixties?”
I had to laugh because, by 1960, talkies had been around for over thirty
years. So, to Pete, this film, which was made in 1917, came out at the same
time “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “Dr. Strangelove” were made. I guess, in
actuality, I was the strange one. Adults were always amazed that, at my age,
I had such an extensive knowledge of the Beatles, the films of Cary Grant
and the Marx Brothers, and even Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows.”
This was why films like “Father of the Bride” and “Bedazzled” can just be
remade, I argued to a carload of college kids who seemed to be falling
asleep, because no one knows from the Spencer Tracy and Dudley Moore
versions. The worst example, of course, was Gus Van Zant’s “Psycho” remake,
which I told them should replace Ed Wood’s “Plan 9 From Outer Space” as the
worst film of all time. How does a director who made such great films as
“Drugstore Cowboy,” “To Die For,” and “Good Will Hunting,” head such a
pointless project as a scene-by-scene retelling of one of the best films
ever made? Why not just remake “Citizen Kane” or Casablanca?” Or, to put it
in my contemporaries’ terms, “E.T.” or “Star Wars?” My friend John and I
watched one of my favorite “Simpsons” episodes, the “Rear Window” parody, in
which Bart breaks his leg and can’t enjoy the swimming pool all summer. Of
course, John, never having seen another one of the best films ever made,
didn’t get the reference.
Anyway, we ended up colliding with a busload of senior citizens. We all
died, which probably served us right, because now we’d have to spend an
eternity hearing about Clark Gable, Bing Crosby and “Fibber McGee and

THE COUNTY FAIR (Chickenhead's uppercasing)
July 3, 2001

Boogers and Bombs stood at the broccoli stand at the entrance of the
county fair. It was the first day of summer vacation, an occasion which
called for celebration, as the boys were now high school seniors. Boogers
obtained his nickname from all the money he’d won eating his own nasal
mucus; Bombs had a flatulence problem.
“Hello, my good man,” Boogers said to the stand owner. “Do you sell any
manner of sweet snack, as in ice cream, cotton candy, or perhaps a big-ass
“No sweets,” the man said. “Just broccoli.”
“Hmm, I see,” Boogers replied.
“Interesting,” Bombs said. “Would you have anything such as cheese or
some type of dip for this broccoli?”
“No cheese. No dip,” the man said. “Broccoli.”
“Yes,” Boogers said. “What about cold beverages? Do you have Coke or
Pepsi? Perhaps Fanta?”
“No drinks. Broccoli,” the man said again.
“Well,” Bombs said. “You run a fine establishment here, Sir. Two
broccolis, please.”
“One-stop shopping for all our broccoli needs,” Boogers added as the boys
paid and went on their merry way.
Being students of the arts, our heroes stopped by the art exhibit, where
a man sat, also eating broccoli, and petting a mink scarf.
“Well,” Boogers began. “I’m in the mood to see some art.”
“Me too,” Bombs said. “Do you have any Gacys?”
“Gacys?” the exhibiter replied. “I’m not familiar with that artist.”
“No, huh?” Boogers said. “That’s probably a good thing. What about Red
“Yeah, or Buddy Ebsen,” Bombs added.
“This is a Carl Lundgren exhibit,” the exhibiter said, clearly annoyed.
“Carl Lundgren?” Bombs replied. “The Swedish actor from ‘Agent Red’ and
‘Universal Soldier?’”
“No,” Boogers said. “I think that’s Dolph Lundgren.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” Bombs admitted. “You know who’s funny is the
Swedish chef from the Muppets. I like him.”
“Yeah, me too,” Boogers said. “I think this guy is the guitar player who
became a producer…”
“That’s Todd Rundgren, you fools!” the exhibitor was quite upset. “This
is Carl Lundgren, a brilliant artist.”
“Nope, sorry,” Boogers said. “Don’t know him.”
“You don’t know him?” the beet-red exhibitor said, looking around for a
passer-by. “Excuse me, Sir.”
“Yes?” the man said.
“You know who Carl Lundgren is, right?”
“Oh, yes,” the man replied.
“Pitcher, Chicago Cubs, early 1900’s,” he said. “I’m a big Cubs fan.”
“Get out!” the exhibitor shouted. “Away from my booth! This man is a
“Yes,” Bombs said. “There’s certainly a lot of angels and things with
wings, aren’t there? Do you have any of those painting of dogs playing
“Get out! Go!” the exhibitor demanded.
The two young men then went to the next exhibit, the Art of Dreaming,
perplexed by its consisting of only a burly Italian man holding a baseball
“Pardon me, Sir,” Bombs said. “This ‘Art of Dreaming,’ where is it?”
“You wanna see it?” the Italian said.
“Yes, that would be nice.”
“Look,” the Italian shouted, “up in the sky.” Bombs looked up and the
Italian man whacked him on the head with the bat. “Sweet friggin’ dreams.”
“What the hell was that?” Boogers demanded, crying. “He was only a
“You wanna see another piece?”
“Not particularly, no,” Boogers replied.
“We call this one ‘Givers of the Dough,” the big man said. “Hey, Carmine,
you’re on.”
Carmine, a much smaller, but no less Italian, organ grinder and a monkey
with a cup full of coins came towards Boogers and proceeded to tie him up
and stuff pizza dough into his mouth until he lay bloated and unconscious in
the dirt.
When the two awoke, they were each tied up over an alligator pit. The
burly Italian walked in, and, before speaking, paced back and forth in front
of them in intimidation.
“Gentlemen,” he said. “My name is Johnny French Fries. I’ll be your
executioner this evening unless you can answer one question. First you,” he
said to Boogers. “Who wrote the poem ‘Noon Walk on the Asylum Lawn?’”
“Oh, come on,” Boogers said. “You’re a mob guy and you ask a poetry
“Is poetry too fufu for ya, tough guy?” Johnny asked. “Answer, please.”
“I don’t know,” Boogers said. “The roller skating cat from the Heathcliff
“Nope,” Johnny said, “Sorry, sweet cheeks. You ARE a sausage link.
Johnny cut Boogers’ rope, sending him into the alligator pit.
“Holy crap!” Bombs yelled. “Uh, Maya Angelou! Uh, I don’t know any other
poets! Mother Goose! Nipsey Russell!
“Sorry, professor. You lose. You are a plate of veal marsala. Adios.”
And so ended the lives of two great men, men of honor, men of courage,
warriors who have fought against the forces of darkness. This was their
tragic final tale.

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