Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Whazit2u? #9: Your Favorite Batman Television Villain Is...
4 votes.
Penguin: 2
Joker: 1
Riddler: 0

“Holy Bat-Poll!” I voted for Catwoman, of course! “Batman” was my favorite TV show when I was a little kid, and I always had a thang about Catwoman. And I’m speaking of Julie Newmar, ya un’erstan’ – there was no other Catwoman, so don’t even talk to me about Lee Meriwether and Eartha Kitt.

I was always especially fond of those episodes where Catwoman had Batman all tied up, but I was never really sure why they appealed to me so much. Let me add that it was Julie Newmar’s OUTSTANDING figure that first made me vaguely aware that there was a difference between men and women, although at such a young age, I couldn’t quite put my fingers on the difference. By the way, Julie Newmar appeared in the September 1969 issue of Playboy magazine wearing nothing but her birthday suit. I know this only because I happen to collect that magazine. Oh, I don’t mean that I collect Playboy; I mean that I collect that particular issue of Playboy. I have 107 copies of it at the moment. I was hoping to add at least one more copy to my collection this year, but none of my so-called friends or family members got me one for Christmas.

Whazit2u? #10: Your Favorite Beatle Is...
2 votes
Paul: 2 votes
George: 2 votes
Ringo: 1

Well, I guess we finally settled that question once and for all, eh? The best Beatle was John, Paul, and George. (Me, I voted for “the cool and quiet Beatle.” You know who I mean.)

Whazit2u? #11: Your Favorite Cartoon Character Is...
Foghorn Leghorn:
5 votes
Bugs Bunny: 1
Mickey Mouse: 1
Homer Simpson: 0

Hokey-Smoke, this really surprised me! I thought for sure Homer Simpson was going to win this, but he didn’t get a single vote. I can hear him now: “DOH!”

Who’d I vote for?...
Ah jhust loves— ah say, ah jhust loves me some Foghorn Leghorn. Look at me when ahm tahkin’ to yuh, son. (Boy’s about as bright as a broke— ah say, bright as a broken lightbulb.)

Whazit2u? #12: Your Favorite Dessert Is...
Ice Cream:
5 votes
Cookies: 1
Pie: 1
Cake: 0

I naturally tend to give everyone I like a nickname. If you’ve known me for a long time but I’ve never called you by some nickname, then the odds are that, secretly (Shhh!), I probably don’t really dig you all that much.

Likewise, I have been called by many nicknames: The boys at the Summer baseball clinic I attended in my youth called me “Diving Brooks” because of a spectacular catch I once made in left field. (I wonder how many of you remember the great Baltimore Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson?) In high school, some teenagers called me “Narc” because I participated in the Police Explorer Program. My friend Pooh gave me the nickname “Mister Intense” because I used to be somewhat… well… intense. Cranium used to call me “Glowworm” because I was so skinny and so white. A girlfriend, The Countess, liked to refer to me as “Ol’ Bilge Rat”, which she got from Disneyland’s Pirates Of The Caribbean ride. The leader of a spiritual study group I belonged to long ago used to call me "The Old Testament Guy" because I didn't always buy into their mushy New Age mumbo-jumbo. And many years ago, I even gave myself a couple of nicknames: “Trummy Tewksbury” (a combination of Louis Armstrong’s trombone player, Trummy Young, and the baseball pitcher Bob Tewksbury) and also “Black Cole Kid” (a combination of Black Bart, Cole Younger, and Billy-The-Kid).

But because of my ice cream addiction, early this year, a few guys where I work gave me the nickname “Two Scoops.”
You scream, I scream, we all voted for ice cream!

Whazit2u? #13: Which Of These Animated Xmas Shows Do You Like Best?
How The Grinch Stole Christmas:
4 votes
A Charlie Brown Christmas: 1
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: 1
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town: 0

I went Charlie Brown on y’all, but that mean one, Mister Grinch, ran away with it.

Whazit2u? #14: Which Of These Xmas Songs Do You Like Least?
Santa Baby:
3 votes
The 12 Days Of Christmas: 1
Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas In Hawaiian): 1
Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer: 1

I hate “Mele Kalikimaka” - I mean, I REALLY HATE IT… almost as much as I hate “Santa Baby.”

Whazit2u? #15: Which Of These Is Your Favorite Christmas Treat?
3 votes
Christmas Cookies: 2
Eggnog: 1
Hot Buttered Rum: 0

Yes, I voted for “Fruitcake”, but no, things are not as they appear. My friend Mr. Paul confessed this in an e-mail to me:
“I loathe fruitcake, but it was an altruistic vote given in the Christmas spirit to support our less fortunate brothers.”

Ha! So, fruitcake is not really officially out of the Christmas Doghouse just yet.

Whazit2u? #16: Which Of These Actors Made The Best Ebenezer Scrooge?
Albert Finney:
2 votes
Alastair Sim: 2 votes
Reginald Owen: 1
George C. Scott: 1

Alastair Sim is considered the “Classic” Ebenezer, but he’s not my favorite. Other than the “B Westerns” of my singing cowboy hero Roy Rogers, I don’t warm up to many musicals, but “Scrooge” (1970) starring Albert Finney is one of the rare exceptions. In fact, it’s one of my favorite movies of all time, and I can’t decide which Christmas film I like better, “Scrooge” or “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Yeah, it’s that good. Who knew that "A Christmas Carol" could contain so much humor? Don’t miss it next year, y’all, or Christmas morning might bring your stocking nothing but Black Cole Kid. (Don’t make me have to come over there!)

As for George C. Scott… well, he makes me laugh in “Dr. Strangelove” and he made a boffo General Patton, but I find his performance as Ebenezer Scrooge to be embarrassingly bad! I mean that literally – I was downright embarrassed for him when I saw it. Years ago, I even invented a kind of joke about it:

Q: What’s the difference between George C. Scott’s curmudgeonly Scrooge and his cheerful Scrooge?
A: The cheerful Scrooge tips his hat to passersby.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Postscript: The Whazit2u? Polls are being discontinued due to lack of interest. Well, lack of interest AND because there just haven’t been enough voters to make the Polls worthwhile. Nevertheless, my thanks to all who DID contribute.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

ARK, BOOK & CANDLE (Or, The ABCs Of Xmas Decorating)

To some folks, decorating their house for Christmas is as much a competition with their neighbors as it is a celebration of the birth of Christ. That’s not how it is for my Brother and I (and it’s a good thing, too, because on this street, we get wiped out every year), but it’s still kind of fun to joke about . . .

When our neighbors directly across the street from us came home from shopping one day in late November and saw Nappy and I out hanging Christmas lights, one of them jokingly yelled across the street, “So, it’s ON now, huh?”

Well, for years I’ve (necessarily) argued that it’s not really the quantity but the quality that counts when evaluating a Christmas display. After all, there is the important factor of “balance” to be considered. Oh, sure, those people down the street may have fourteen million lights twinkling on their house, “but they have no concept of BALANCE!” And “balance” means whatever you need it to mean when the neighbors are kicking your butt like you’re a mangy dog they own.

Well, here in Phoenix, there are some really impressive Christmas light displays, some real Xmas Xtravaganzas, and some of the folks on my street put on a fairly good show, but there is one family that has such unique Christmas decorations that their house has become my favorite in this city. In fact, making a special trip to view their house at night is one of my many Christmas traditions. First, I go to a nearby Burger King to get a hot cup of their Douwe Egbert’s “Rich Coffee” (Douwe Egbert - don’t ya just love that name?), and then I drive to the house in question . . .

The home at 4002 W. Thunderbird is of standard size, and facing one of the major Phoenix thoroughfares, it has perhaps an even smaller than usual front yard. Nevertheless, the Christmas decorations make it a real standout during the Holidays. Although they still look very good in the daylight, when that Airheadzona Sun is shining on them, a person is able to discern that these are homemade decorations. They have been fashioned so well and are lighted with such precision, however, that at night, they appear to be commercially manufactured.

All of these Christmas decorations are large - at least 4 to 5 feet tall or more - but what makes them so noteworthy is their uniqueness. While there are a couple of secular items included, such as a sleigh marked “North Pole Mail”, the really neat stuffs are of a religious nature: Two tall candles on either side of the yard represent the One who declared, “I am the Light of the World. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the Light of life.”

Also in the yard is an elaborate golden Ark of the Covenant. Now when did you ever see the Ark of the Covenant used as a symbol in a Christmas display? I’ve wondered how many “un-churched” people have been totally mystified by that particular decoration. I can even hear them in my mind: “Mommy, what is that big box thing?” – “Here, have another chocolate Santa and don’t talk with your mouth full.”

On the roof of the house are two signs. The first reads “KING OF KINGS” and the second one reads (Yup! You guessed it…) “LORD OF LORDS.” But in the center of the roof, between the two signs, is my favorite decoration of all. It is a representation of The Holy Bible created out of lightbulbs and it’s open to the Isaiah 9:6 prophecy which is spelled out in white lights: “UNTO US IS BORN THIS DAY A CHILD.”

These are some beautifully created and very meaningful Christmas decorations that really call to mind “The Reason For The Season.” And while I enjoy making a special trip to see them every year, I also breathe a sigh of relief that this family does not live right next door to me. How sad they would make my own Christmas display appear by comparison. Heck, I’d have to spend all of December in “HyperBitch” mode, criticizing their “pathetic lack of balance.”

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Friday, December 19, 2008


“My Favorite Things” is one of my favorite songs. It was written by Rodgers and Hammerstein for the musical The Sound Of Music – a musical I happen to like, by the way, and if you think that somehow makes me less of a man, you can just . . . let me know and I’ll change my mind.

No song ever composed is more addictive to my brain than is My Favorite Things; the melody is so catchy that once I’ve heard it, it will continue to bounce around off the walls inside my skull for hours or, more often, for days and even weeks! I simply can’t get that melody out of my head, and although the song was not conceived as a “Christmas” song, it has become associated with the most wonderful time of the year because of its reference to sleigh bells and snowflakes and silver white Winters. It’s almost impossible to go through the Holiday season without hearing My Favorite Things at least a couple of times in one place or another. Which tells you, of course, that every year through most of December, those lyrics are bouncing off my internal walls and shaking my brain to bits.

On December 17th, I received a Christmas Care Package from my dear friend The Flying Aardvark. Included in the box were two tins, one containing her world famous chocolate chip cookies (well, they're famous in “my world” anyway) and another with rum balls and eggnog cake from two new recipes she tried out this year. Well, after popping that first rum ball into my mouth, I immediately raced to my computer and sent her an e-mail that said in part: “I'd better not have any more of these today or I won't make it to work. And I'd better hide this tin from Nappy [my Brother] or I won't get any more rum balls either.” I stressed to the Flyin’ Aard how “delicioso” those rum balls were. (Do you know what delicioso means? It is, after all, a word from a foreign language.)

Well, not long afterwards, a sentence about the Aard’s rum balls popped into my mind, but I said the line in rhythm with the melody from My Favorite Things, since that song was, as always, ping-ponging around in my headbone. This instantly gave me the idea to write my own lyrics for that melody. And so now I give you the world premiere of Stephen T. McCarthy’s spoof of My Favorite Things titled . . .


Ale from England and hot Irish Coffee
Golden State wines and iced tea made “Long Island”
White Russians and Russians as Black as ink
These are a few of my favorite drinks

Thunderbird, Mad Dog, and Mickey’s malt liquor
Small cups of sake gone straight to my noggin
Martinis ‘til my mind no longer thinks
These are a few of my favorite drinks

Scotch on the rocks and please leave me the bottle
Aard’s yummy rum balls and rum for a chaser
Mint-green Grasshoppers and champagne that’s pink
These are a few of my favorite drinks

When the beer bites
When the gin stings
But I’m not quite drunk
I simply pour more of my favorite drinks
And then I don’t feel the funk

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Postscript: Incidentally, I left Brother Nappy a couple of rum balls and a slice of eggnog cake in a Ziploc bag yesterday and the next time I saw him, the very first words out of his mouth were: “Man! Those were the best rum balls I’ve ever had! The Eggnog cake was good, too, but the rum balls stole the show.”

Only minutes ago, I spoke with Nappy on the phone and he said he wants a rum ball to give to some co-worker because he told him how great they were and now the dude wants to try one. The problem is that, likewise, I was planning to give one to a friend where I work, although [*Gasp!*] we’re down to only 7 rum balls (but who’s counting?)

Flyin’ Aard, if you’re hearing this, you need to get those intoxicated little elves at the rum ball factory working overtime and double-time! All I want for Christmas is my two . . .
fifths of rum balls. *Hick!*

[Hey, y’all, it’s almost Tiny Tim Wish Fulfillment Day. Read the Blog installment below, and please don’t forget Tiny on December the 25th. Correct!]

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Over the river and through the woods
To grandmother’s house we go.
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
Through white and drifting snow . . .

. . . never mind the fact that grandmother’s name is Helen A. Handbasket.

OK, so everyone has figured out by now that the country is on its last legs, but that’s no reason to be glum, son. It’s Christmastime now, and for another month or so, we can pretend that all is well and we can deck the halls with bouts of folly.

Look, Christmas is a time for giving, and I propose that this year we all give to TINY TIM (Herbert Khaury; 1932–1996). Give what you ask? Well, how ‘bout a penny and a moment of silence? Is that asking too much?

Our story really begins in 1989 to 1991. I can no longer recall the source of this information (but I’d sure love to track it down!) Did I read it? Did I hear it? A couple of Google searches have turned up nothing. But one way or another, I came across an anecdote about TINY TIM, the One-Hit Wonder whose song “Tip-Toe Thru The Tulips With Me” went to #17 on the Billboard music charts in The Summer After The Summer Of Love – 1968.

It seems that some journalist asked Tiny Tim: If you had one wish guaranteed to come true, what would that wish be? Tiny responded by saying words to the effect that he would wish for PEACE ON EARTH. Then he immediately added: If I could slip in one more thing, I’d like to have another hit song.

His reply tickled me no end. I found it very amusing that in perhaps a single breath he managed to travel from this grand, noble, selfless wish to such a simple, personal, wisp of a wish. What made it even more interesting was the fact that Tiny didn’t wish to be a superstar entertainer or the mogul at some major music label. He didn’t want wealth or power or fantastic fame. All he wanted was a second hit song. Ha! I have to wonder if being included in the "One-Hit Wonder" category was something that secretly bothered Tiny Tim. At any rate, I enjoyed Tiny’s response to that question so much that my heart instantly found a little corner for him that wasn’t being used and I let him tiptoe into it and settle in with his ukulele, while I told a few folks about Tiny’s wish. One person I related that story to was my brother, Napoleon. Remember that, you’ll need it later . . .


From the time I was a little kid, one of my Pa’s Christmas traditions was to take a drive on Christmas morning. He usually went to the neighborhood in northern Santa Monica where he spent his youth and he looked at his old home and the gully he played in as a child. Through the years, he could always count on me to accompany him on this drive. If we had any stated goal at all, it was to see how many kids on brand new Christmas morning bicycles we could spot.

This Christmas morning drive tradition continued after my parents joined me in Prescott, Airheadzona, following my move there in 1992. By 1995, we had all moved down the mountain to Phoenix and I recall that the last Christmas morning drive my Pa and I took together found us going through the empty downtown streets of Phoenix. My Pa passed away in April, 1996. Every Christmas Day since then, I’ve loosely recreated that last drive accompanied by Nappy, my brother. We take highway 17 South to highway 10 and get off the freeway downtown. After a quick stop to visit our Ma’s “tombstone” at the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball stadium (a story for another day), we drive up Central Avenue and stop again at the outdoor Park Central Mall. Here we stroll around looking into the windows of closed shops. There’s a deli located there with a large, neat fish pond built into its back patio. I don’t know what’s swimming in that water (koi? goldfish?), but they’re large and they have fins and scales.

Nappy and I would always drop a coin into that pond and make some private wish. Well, about seven or eight years ago, I suddenly asked him, “What did you wish for?” And Nappy said, “I wished that Tiny Tim would have another hit song.” I could hardly believe that he’d remembered that story I’d told him many years earlier, or that it would mean enough to him that he’d make a wish for Tiny. Well, ever since then, Nappy and I have BOTH made a wish for Tiny Tim at that deli’s fish pond on Christmas Day.

(I’ll never forget Nappy’s reaction the first time he ever saw Tiny Tim. You see, he didn’t even know what Tiny looked like until he saw an old clip of Tiny’s April 6th, 1968 debut performance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Tiny comes out from behind the curtain with that white face and blowing kisses to the audience while slinging his ukulele and looking like some gay carnival freak, and Nappy almost explodes from shock: “OH, MY G*D!!! OH, JES#S CHR!ST!!!” I didn’t approve of his taking The Lord’s name in vain, but I knew what he was experiencing inside and I just cracked up. Heck, I’m laughing now just remembering it! Tiny behaved so over-the-top oddly on The Tonight Show that Johnny jokingly acted as if he was concerned about preserving his own reputation and clarified things, saying to Tiny, “We’ve – uh – we’d never met until just backstage a moment ago, did we?” To Johnny’s relief, Tiny confirmed it, “That’s right, Mr. Carson.”)

OK, that’s the history, but here’s the future and where YOU come in: Even if only posthumously, wouldn’t it be a wonderful Christmas present if we could give Tiny Tim the second thing he most wanted: a second hit song? Let’s be honest: it was highly improbable that Tiny Tim should have had even one hit song, let alone TWO. But that’s what makes Tiny the underdog’s underdog. Let’s all pull together for the ultimate

I am convinced that if enough people in this world would drop a coin into a body of water after making a wish that Tiny Tim should score a second hit song, somehow or another, it WOULD HAPPEN. In fact, this would not be an unprecedented event, for there have been several instances of musicians scoring unlikely Top 40 hits after they had stopped recording. For example, in 1981, a medley of Beach Boys hits from the 1960s suddenly surged to #12 on the Billboard charts. The Righteous Brothers surprisingly found themselves with a #13 hit in 1990 after their song “Unchained Melody” was used in the movie Ghost, and it became popular all over again. And for an old recording to suddenly become a surprise hit, it isn’t even necessary that the song was a hit before: In 1976, six years after they had broken up, the Beatles inexplicably found themselves with a #7 hit, “Got To Get You Into My Life” from their 1966 album “Revolver.” So if this sort of thing can happen for 2nd rate musical hacks like The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and The Righteous Brothers, why could it not happen for one of the world’s premier entertainers twelve years after his death? I know there is one more hit in the late, great Tiny Tim.

What we’re looking for here is some kind of “Hundredth Monkey Effect” where if enough people wish for Tiny’s next hit song, we will reach a point of critical mass when unseen forces will kick into action to bring the hit into manifestation in one way or another. Maybe some filmmaker will decide to use a Tiny Tim song in a movie and it will stir enough interest to incite radio play and boost sales. Or something like that - I don’t know, but I BELIEVE! "Yes, Virginia, there IS a second Tiny Tim hit."

So, I’m begging you, my friends: Won't you help us make Tiny Tim's dream come true? Let's all wish Tiny out of the One-Hit Wonder category posthumously! Drop a coin into water and send out a wish for Tiny on December 25th. Make it a part of your own Christmas tradition, too. Sometime this Christmas Day - and every Christmas Day that follows - won’t you please make a tiny wish for Tiny Tim? Make a lifetime commitment today to THE TINY TIM WISH FULFILLMENT TEAM, where our slogan is: “His voice was tinny although tiny, Tim wasn’t.”

And God Bless Us, Every One!”

Ukulelely Yours,
~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Links to...
My first public plea on Tiny’s behalf:
I Want A Hippie Potty-Mouth For Christmas

Tiny Tim at Wikipedia